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Alan Cohen

Alan Cohen was a poet before beginning his career as a Primary Care MD, teacher, and manager, and has been living a full and varied life.  He’s been writing poems for 60 years, is beginning now to share some of his discoveries, and has had 154 poems published in 80 venues over the past two years.  He’s been married to Anita for 41 years, and they’ve been in Eugene, OR these past 11.

A Cardiac Event

Soft bits of flower
Morning mist
Stones on a sand road
As a shirt
As blood from a wound
As food on a table
Leaves on tiptoe
Clouds tense
The held breath of the day

Feet advanced with heartbeat steadiness
Into cane fields high over the ocean
Sunfire scalding the morning
Rising in a hot ball
No surprise
All was man-scale, comforting
I was fifty, was vigorous
Was hiking into the mountains

Large birds
Lost on the lathe of air
Sharpened in the cold
The climb turned steeper

There are faults in the Earth
The mind makes myth of, can not fathom
Cataracts that end in steam
Red fountains of molten rock
Walls of water that swallow the shore
Hungry black holes in the natural world
And wide-eyed, mouths gaping
We are drawn into darkness
The pain
Before I was lifted clear
Cut short my breath
Was kapu¹, a breach in nature
Could not end

In my mind, I ran to the City of Refuge²
But it was empty; a cold wind
Blew through the stone teeth of the wall
My chest torn open by the black fangs
Of a triumphant, alien God

1. Hawaiian for taboo, illegal, unacceptable
2. On the Big Island of Hawaii, when a person was convicted of a crime,
if he was successful in reaching this city,he was spared the customary death penalty

The Heron Shows Us How

The heron stands in shallow water
Like an aging conductor
On the podium before a concert
His concentration as total and relaxed
As tension can ever be
And he watches
Whether the water or the horizon
Without moving, without wishing
A Buddhist in the depths of a meditation
That has, apparently no goal or end
His sustenance is his vigil
His ground his field
The concert will not begin for us
He hears it playing in and around him
And it makes him stiller yet
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