The Raw Look || Bruce Cohen

Surely includes undressing in front of a filmy
Mirror. Nude, you separate Phoenician blinds
& witness a snowflake disappear into a puddle. 

Later, you strike up a conversation at the grocery.
What IS the secret to determining
The ideal hour of a honeydew’s ripeness? 

You think you know that person. But from where?
When you ask he/she/they insist you never met.
Facial Recognition exists. You snap a photo 

With your phone. You peek behind a parked car
& memorize their license plate. In the cartoons,
How long after, when it doesn’t detonate, 

Does the coyote wait before checking the status
Of the stick of dynamite? As soon as you become
Aware of the danger you’re already past redemption 

Which might explain this constant panic & futility,
The snowflake’s helpless regret at losing itself
As it incognitos into the puddle. How old were you 

When you stopped doodling in the margins? Now
God is faceless, or has infinite faces, or is the widening gaps
Between any two people. Think of it this way.

A train station at 3a.m, the trains no longer running.
The commuter lot vacant—no empty—no deserted—
No vacant—with the exception of one idling car 

With two people inside kissing, the snowing changing
Over to rain & they shouldn’t be—they should be
Kissing someone else. Never give in to that urge 

To shove your betrayer in front of a train but if you do
Help him collect his scattered papers & cracked
Eyeglasses. This emotion, a snake with a head on each end. 

Paradoxes linked—no connected—like trains
With no caboose. There is the tranquil arrogance of being
Simultaneously inside & out which might explain 

How God appears inside-out. Think how to stop time.
The mildew odor of an old record shop. The owner sneaking
Outside for a quick smoke. The record skipping. Think

Of it this way. Record skipping. The time you wished
You had a camera because you wanted to capture any
Image which is your admission you never actually

Cherished anything. Yes, you can think of it that way.
Suppose there was stagnation—everyone searching
For their keys & the moment when everyone finds them 

But nothing’s locked. Just thumbing through a dictionary
For an unfamiliar word might kindle a new way of inviting
The world. When you entered the museum’s butterfly exhibit 

The weather was merely butterflies, so you took off your
Hat & jacket. Their lives are so exquisitely fragile
They appear to disappear. The exit guard wands your body

To make sure butterflies aren’t escaping on/with you, which
Is evidence of his suspicion you may not be a deceitful, horrible man,
But have unwillingly engaged in some terrible, terrible things.

Bruce Cohen has published five volumes of poetry: Disloyal Yo-Yo (Dream Horse Press), which was awarded the 2007 Orphic Poetry Prize, Swerve (Black Lawrence Press), Placebo Junkies Conspiring with the Half-Asleep (Black Lawrence Press) and No Soap, Radio! (Black Lawrence Press). His most recent manuscript, Imminent Disappearances, Impossible Numbers & Panoramic X-Rays, was awarded the Green Rose Prize (New Issues Press). His poems have appeared in many literary periodicals including AGNI, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Harvard Review, The New Yorker, The North American Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, & The Southern Review as well as being featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily & The Academy of American Poets


We read submissions on a rolling basis

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get notified about news and postings