Two fragments transcribed from a dream

You chose me
Because I was beautiful
You said you smelled me
A mile away
Purple and red you opened
I lapped up on your beach
Foam on a blue wave

***

You died while making quesadillas
You had just turned off the flame
The heat of the pan doing its work
The cheese melting
The tortilla crisping
You dead
What you were in the middle of
The flame off
Heat in the pan working
What you were in the middle of
You lost
You found
Now in the heat of the work

                -- New York, July 9, 2017

Discovery '65 Poetry Reading



Mark Strand, Jim Harrison, Nancy Sullivan and Robert David Cohen reading their poetry at the Discovery 65 award event.

I'm up first...


https://soundcloud.com/robert-david-cohen/discovery65-92nd-street-y-poetry-center

Poetry I recorded at the Harvard Lamont Poetry Library in 1966

Listen on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/robert-david-cohen/19661028-robert-david-cohen-poetry-reading

To a friend with Alzheimer’s


Everything is falling
Off the edge of everything
I stand at attention and salute
As he spins into darkness
Everything now a filigree of gold
Lifted by a breeze
Fragile fragile fragile
He is humming
Ever singing

                                -- New York City, 5 May 2015

I am Charlie Hebdo


I'm in bed
Thinking of waking
When the day breaks in
Wearing a balaclava
Carrying a Kalashnikov
Shouting my name

Charlie Hebdo

Now that I count my years
On a hand
I say to myself 
I can banish fear
Now that my bed launches me
Into orbits of delight
And peals of laughter

Charlie Hebdo

I know now there’s beauty enough
In the world
To fashion ten billion eyes
Strength enough to wield ten billion pens

I refuse to surrender
I will be the mocking storm
As they place stones on me like a tomb
I will take my little life to the world


                                    -- New York, January 8, 2015

Gran Frijolada


-- for Idelfonso Ramos on the anniversary of his death


Here we are
My brother

It’s time it’s that time again
For the gran frijolada
The yearly mess of beans
I cook up Cuban-style
In your honor

The beans are soaking
My secret ingredient is ready

Here we are

You are on the other side
Resolviendo
Getting done whatever it is
That gets done
On the lush island that is death
On the isle of memory and grateful forgetting

Always 90 miles
Always an inch away

There you are
Still making the documentary of your life

And me
The gringo whose life you saved
With a couch and an abrazo

I’ve still got one foot
Planted and dancing in the dirt of time

The other
Where else?
In my mouth
That won’t stop singing

Here we are

A celebration that must always be improvised  
Motivito to welcome some minute arrived from afar
From thin air you pull
An armful of icy beers
Like rabbits from a magician’s hat

Son de la Loma
Blasting from the cassette player
Heard all down the street
The neighbors dancing too

Heard by lovers
As far off
As the malecón

I can hear it again now
Trio Matamoros

Who wouldn’t dance in your presence?

Your shadow dancing
With a permanent
Smile and hard-on

Stars and cancer everywhere

Here we are

Here we are
Idel
Dumbstruck and far flung
Shipwrecked and rescued

Sheer luck everywhere
Full of beans and magic


                        -- New York, 31 December 2013





Paul Celan quote

In his Bremen Prize speech, Paul Celan said of language after Auschwitz that:
“Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss. But it had to go through its own lack of answers, through terrifying silence, through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech. It went through. It gave me no words for what was happening, but went through it. Went through and could resurface, 'enriched' by it all."

For Ezra



Visiting you in the foreign country of the just-born
Country of my blood citizenship
I speak to you in the language of touch
The language of breath
Practice of rocking

You smell like hot milk
The moment around you is curved
You are heavy with light

I love above all your fontanel and its pulse
Below all I love the purpose of you
Wise gazer
Your long fingers looking for a piano  

You, Ezzie, are still all of us
You are the sweet Mama and Dada of your making
Yourself

I surf the waves of your particles
Entangled across 3 thousand miles


                -- Vancouver-New York, February/March 2013

Still waiting



Sixty years later 
Still waiting 
For Marianne O'Connor's
Second kiss

                   -- Vancouver, January 27, 2013

Woke up from a dream wanting



Woke up from a dream wanting
To say goodbye to words
Wanting to see them float away
Bobbing on dark waves
Like candles in paper boats
On Lake Patzcuaro
On the Day of the Dead

                           -- New York, January 15, 2013