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Two Poems


It’s a process, opening back doors after dusk:
unlock, dim lights so flies and moths
don’t cloud the porch sconce, suicide windows,
try to squeeze through the yawn of a door
kicked, rasping, shut. In English, “admission”
means entry, allowance and confession, two
punched tickets, a mini of Jameson I purse
then spike my coke with on the boardwalk,
the resin saint, a gift I don’t want, but hang
my hoodie on. How can so many wings
flutter that the fluttering purrs electric,
statics a crank radio, morse codes
the living room lamp? The first time I loved
it was like a rusty Buick cutting down
boulevards, plastic flamingo mounted
to its hood. The last like casting into shore
for mackerel each August, our iridescent,
aging bodies toothed as serrated blades.
Once, a group of boys ordered me
to undress or threatened to do it for me.
A stray cicada purred a year too early
for the chorus, a decision that didn’t feel
like a choice. Even before that, I lived
apportioned, a colony of winged
insects flickering. I want what those boys,
every body I’ve ever touched wants, a modest
sun, something brighter than survival.


Birth Silhouette

Nonetheless throbbing, constricted, a pit
splitting open with seed. Fetaled in a back seat,
I wanted to bend, to concentrate the leaving, 

entering of breath, of cratered scraps of earth
as they collided, grinding away edges
like a concrete road pocked down to the brick.

I had just read the story of a dog ripping apart
a toy cactus to find a disappointed cactus buried inside. 

The night before, slicing the cubanelle,
another sweet rooted like a book with a book in its belly. 

Peaks and trenches of pulse echoing like cicada,
I heaved goldenrod, the butter of hospital labyrinth,
of drought, reluctant nipples, as if someone 

had reached down to scratch away the jackpot,
the shalala of a paper gown tearing. 

A hand, call it clemency, pressed ice to my lips.

A full time teacher and single mother, Moriah Cohen has learned to steal time, to wake early, to sip language slowly. Cohen lives in New Jersey with her two sons. You can purchase her chapbook at moriahcohen.com.