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‘Teaching the Eye Song’ and other poems by Alan Cohen

By: Alan Cohen


Of course not all sunlit days are yellow
I have this one to myself
Chimes, garden, goldfinch
Bright veranda
Etched, lacy shadows of a wrought-iron, outdoor table
Maple-stained cedar bench
Restless lakewater, nimble, sparkling

I withdraw
Into the courtyard
Where the stone floor is cool
The fountain whispers
And the indistinct shadows confound the eye
I close mine to escape seduction
Especially by bougainvillea

Take stock

I have been true to
Sun, word, woman, laughter, truth
The five loves of a now substantial life



Knowing yellow day is more than we deserve
We pour into the streets
Wearing shirts and hats
Bearing kites, balloons
Banners, flags, streamers
Sails, confetti

Plant trees and flowers
Dance and sing
And picnic on the grass

Our small scraps of color
Bobbing on an ocean of sunlight


Third World

We are to an angel
As a cricket is to a bird
Halfway to song
Halfway to flight



His finest speech: a smile
That now breaks
My heart

Not quite reciprocal
He the source
We were
A long time
Sundered now

Would have taken him
Gone with him
Foreign country
Might have been
Chose mostly neutral ground

Shared fully there
Alive to flaws
Each other
Even now

We stray
To join


Teaching the Eye Song

Have spent a lifetime
Serving this body

In which
First found

Softening, fattening

See better with eyes closed
What should be
What ears know

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