HELEN DEGEN COHEN
I have been lost in an image forest
so deep that even owls
sit dazed by the moon, whose evidence
streaks across like animal light
in a long, low, illuminating cry
a forest spilled in the moon's eye
a lost-and-found where the evident is curable.
And my private pathways glisten
and wind, and wind and glisten.
Pathways, a web of silver, I know each
as well as this hour of night
when ghosts become as touchable as
those who have never been lost are not.
This Morning(Or, Poets)
This morning I dared to read poems
with breakfast, I mean poems
with a Polish accent,
Zagajewski, laying out the afterbirth
of war onto a book called Canvas,
among the seasons, the passing colors.
And I thought yes, when only yesterday,
reading in this same book, I had thoughtno.
And the odors around breakfast dimmed
with relativity.I thought, Anything,
anything, affects the canvas,
this morning, for instance. Coffee
at the right temperature, yesterday's
fear lingering in the coffee, the cooling
of summer, mid-September.And the chill
creeping in the slightly open window
brought up pale sketches of
Billy Collins working to make it all
right, but no. Nothing on the front line,
and I thought of Yeats dreaming of Byzantium,
and Rilke working it out with the angel,
and Stevens laying on another layer of liquid
artifice sung to a Southern wave, and
everyone at play, our simple wooden
building blocks towering, careening,
falling, to the music of whose cry or
was it laughter? And, finished with breakfast,
I ran upstairs into the fog abloom with
outrageously fantastic flowers.Imagine.
Too Many Stars in Iowa
when all the children
have gone to bed
their house at the edge
and the other little ones
yellow with windows
all that has gone or is going to sleep
opens the nightthere are
too many starsO Lord
too many worlds
too many godstoo many beautiful
We Could Be Friends
There are some folks around
I'd like to spend a walk with.
Fanny Howe, thick in the weather.
A cool, damp trot among the mists
short & sweet
I could relate to.
We could be friends.
I mean, all on our own,
without knowing looks
ortalk of poetry books
The Village Girl's Dream
I love the men of the world and their visions.
I draw their pictures on the whiteness before me
then step through beaded curtains
into their arms.
They throw me over their shoulders
and eat their rations out of my heart,
it is my blood that spills from their veins
into new countries.
And I will hold you, child,
I will wrap you in all my aprons
and let you rise slowly
which doesn't know man from woman.
© Helen Degen Cohen
To When You Finally Marry
"Village Girl's Dream" was first published in Korone, 1987.
"When You Finally Marry" Spoon River Quarterly (now Spoon River Review) 1989.
" This Morning"After Hours, 2000.
"I have been lost in an image forest" won First Prize, by Jasmine Press,
Bensalem Association of Women Writers, 1984.
Helen Degen Cohen (Halina Degenfisz) is a widely-published poet and the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. She won First Prize in Stand magazine's worldwide fiction competition for an excerpt from her autobiographical novel, The Edge of the Field. Other honors include two Illinois Arts Council Awards, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, an Indiana Writers Conference award in Poetry, and fellowships to the four major art colonies in the United States.
Ms. Cohen is a graduate of the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and, after years traveling to schools throughout the state as part of the Artist in Education program, she returned to teaching (at Roosevelt University) and then to co-editing Rhino magazine. Helen originally co-founded the magazine as well as its adjunct, the Poetry Forum, a monthly drop-in workshop. Her poetry collection, The End of Snow, is forthcoming this fall.
Helen can be reached at: Halinka1[AT]aol.com
(replace [AT] with @).