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                             for Ira Cohen




You're not having enough fun

Or smoking enough dope


Not opening up your head

Or heading out into the open


So go (NOW) to the Cosmic Hotel

Check in to the Paradise suite


Give the Akashic cashier

All your hard-earned money


Condemn the sacred incantation

Of your tragic virgin muse


Pay tribute to the grave robbers


To troubadour Francois Villon

Master bandit vagabond


Break open the sky!


Let the shattered stars shred all memories

On the bloody road to ruin

Map the trail where lost dreamers go


This is not a day for archives

Libraries or documentaries


Pound the wheel into motion

Lie without shame


In a bramble of white roses


Run in terrible glee through worlds

Of avant-garde Pinocchios


Dance like Yakas


In the hallowed wheat fields

Of Indiana, Ohio and Idaho


The Killing fields of Pollyanna!


Drink to the masked dancers. Have fun!

Because that’s what suffering is for


There is no time for contemplation

No time to lean on a lamppost

And smoke that forgotten cigarette. . .


Instead, blow blue smoke into the lights of a dying city!

While the sun goes up and down and up


And you shed your skin
And I shed mine


And die, and die, and die

With every fucking breath


Death-click, enlargement, refraction, replication and scan


You're holding on too tight

To your rule book


Operating manual


Your life

You don’t need your life!


Step outside and scream

To the Daughters of Hell!


I’m waiting for you

Ghost draped in flesh


Waiting for you

To turn me on.


           June 7, 2000



* this poem appeared in the book CHOOSE  (Big Bridge Press)




( this poem appeared in the book My Youth As A Train, Foothills Publishing, NY)




Toothpick, quarter, nickel, four pennies, red paper clip. No one to call

All heroes gone. Briefcase, calendars, fresh sharpened pencils

Business cards with another change of address


What did it mean when I said, "Don't stop" and she said, "I haven't even started"

Family photos


When will they bury me?


Puppet Shakespeare, stone crab claw relic, dead coral verse

Everyone complaining, philosophical, equipment malfunctioning


Wash towels, dishes, sheets, face, brush hair, teeth

Keep up appearances


until license plate, jazz lamp, onyx letter opener become slivers

in a nightmare-Armada of small jinxed boats

Like after hurricane Donna when kids paddled down flooded Miami streets


Or when the outboard motor lept into an Everglades swamp and sank

No one said chain it down


I rowed home against a rising tide




Somewhere in the Keys,

a mile out fishing for sheepshead and snapper,

in rolling waves by tolling buoy when a storm blows in

We can’t beat it back to shore
Bail with cup and saucer,

soaked in matching windbreakers

tiny white sneakers and daybreeze scarves

Until an old Dutch freighter takes us all aboard

Faces whipped by tears and rain

Mom thought it was the end of the family line




Still, tides played, drummed black sand shores, thundering again. Seagulls, white ruffled, perched on tide-bound cliff. Braced against flying Pacific swell and brine, while she

thought of something else, Odessa, Black Sea or Crimea, but not my deep need for intimacy. So I set sail, slept in a thousand rooms, drove desert west, then south through clattery muck and thick green flesh of Florida. Turnpiked and truckstopped, aimlessly, so maybe just once I could face the ocean's fist, infinite daylight, play on bird's-nest reef, sift through olive, scallop, conch shell, painlessly, conjure the stroke of tide, her pale narrow wrists, adore... But that beach has slipped. Only dark poetry drives me

Pocket change, typewriting paper, blood-red inkjets




I took my son, Cosmos, and a shopping list


Bought size 1 running shoes, gray heeled socks

Bounced across the mall parking lot picking up lost pennies in potholes



Columbus Day weekend

Sailing synchronized clouds blossoming overhead

Impossible blue jets in formation

crossing between towers of joyous Golden Gate

Bumper to bumper we drove up the ridge

then down by foot, over slick face of scrubby Marin headland

Almost slept in the treble of pebbles bouncing on our heads

But we couldn't sleep, and what she said and I said

counted for nothing




See an exhibition of women's art

Four plaster death masks, none of them mine


                   I sign the guest book

                     to make a place, always


Yet never enough of a place to make a point, make a trip, guide

my free broken spirit into myth.