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Best Poems Written by Eric Cohen

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The Wall

Winnie, wild-eyed, went insane
and sang “Happy Birthday” in the rain, 
while she washed away her bloody pain.

Now all day long she sings that song,
she sings it loud, she sings it strong,
walled in where she does not belong.

For not unlike her maddened mind,
her bony body’s been confined
by stone walls, stark, en-wrapping ‘round,
damp, daunting, dark, with barbs that bound
sad souls inside asylum ground,
where Winnie’s soul is seldom found.

There locked inside her room she’ll sway,
and sing all night and through the day,
while in the courtyard children play,
singing: “rings run round the rosie,
our pockets are so cozy,
pussy cats, little brats, all falls down.”

Some are deemed dangerous, some just lazy,
while everyone there is presumed crazy.
Some are savants, sullen and sad,
with brilliant minds misjudged as bad …

Nurse Nancy checks on Winnie when it’s time to go to bed.
She doesn’t trust the doctors who said Winnie was brain dead.
“I know that you’re still there inside, the feckless doctors fear it.
Oh Winnie, Winnie, I just know that I can find your spirit,”
while Winnie winks a smile at her, and never lets her near it.

“I knew you when your father lived and taught you to chop wood.
You took care of your widowed Mom, you did all that you could.
They taught you to have faith in God, and know what’s right from wrong.
It pains me when I hear you stuck inside that birthday song.”

But Winnie doesn’t hear because her mind has long since wandered,
outside stone walls of woefulness where human hopes are squandered.

Wand’ring sometimes in the city,
grinning wide she sings her ditty,
watching people pass with pity.

So pointlessly they seem to plod
like ants, as in a trance they trod,
which Winnie thinks is, oddly, odd.

We wander far when wand’ring lonely,
while Winnie’s thoughts will wander only
to birthday gifts her mother gave,
so soon before she saw her grave:

Ten happy candles lovely lit,
blown out with special birthday spit,
now laughs when oft’ she thinks of it,
when wider, wider, grows her grin,
which won’t recall that savage sin,
when pastor peered upon his flock
with beastly thoughts no prayer would block,
and watched poor Winnie weep in shock:

“Winnie, Winnie, orphan Winnie, at your mother’s grave, don’t cry.
Take my hand and I will take you to my bed where tears will dry.”

Still staring down in disbelief,
her heart so heavy, gripped with grief,
but craving respite and relief.

Alone with no means of subsistence,
she scarcely offered up resistance,
as pastor pleaded with persistence.

Wee Winnie was a wide-eyed wonder,
fresh fodder for the pastor’s plunder,
while heaven cried with cracks of thunder.

Foundations of her faith were shaken,
when her sweet innocence was taken,
but pastor never will awaken.

For when this demon deeply slept,
that last time Winnie ever wept,
with will of steel in stealth she stepped,
so slowly, slowly, slowly.

This little lamb could not be kept,
she found a fire axe and crept
upon the pastor as he slept,
so lowly, lowly, lowly.

Then right was wrong and wrong was right,
she swung the axe with all her might.
Then wrong was right and right was wrong,
she sobbing sang her somber song.

Then dashed out in the driving rain
to try to wash away the stain,
which only amplified her pain.

Flash lightning lit the nighttime scene,
revealing all that was obscene --
blood stains and pains of this pre-teen.

Fate, be not foul, though far from fair,
no mortal child should have to bear
such depth of pain, such deep despair.

But Winnie's will was under-rated,
as pastor found when he was sated,
sober, and emasculated.

“There’s no time now to be remorseful,
for now's the time to be resourceful.
To solve this problem of my pain,
I’ll build a wall inside my brain.
And if my thoughts should ever reach it,
I’ll fix things so they’ll never breach it.”

And so, to exorcise her soul from sadness,
and banish all that bastard badness,
she solipsized her song of gladness – 
sweet birthday song of glowing gladness—
then modified her mind to madness:

Nothing further she’d remember,
nothing of that sad September,
nor the pastor she’d dismember … 

So jealous of her haunted ease,
asylum mates will taunt and tease
with childish chants into the breeze:

“Winnie, Winnie what a shame,
pastor’s dead and you’re to blame!”
While Winnie, thinking it a game,
sings “Happy Birthday!” all the same.

January 2020
"Jump Poetry Contest" sponsored by Sheri Fresonki Harper

Copyright © Eric Cohen | Year Posted 2020

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A Rattling Rhyme

Ride of the Scarecrow Clan

(To: Mittens) 

She was born in the corn on a cold misty morn,
the most beautiful cat on the farm.
(I must keep her from coming to harm!)
The most beautiful kitty inspired this ditty
with whiskers that whisper her charm,
wild white whiskers that whisper her charm. 

But the angels grew jealous, much too overzealous,
they schemed up a dastardly plan,
that they stole from a bad bogeyman.
They would use and abuse all their magic, so tragic, 
and conjure the Scarecrow Clan,
for their devilish dastardly plan.

The Clan owed them a favor for past misbehavior,
behavior so foul and so cruel,
they would ride when moon became full!
When the moon elevated they rose animated
to drown Mitten’s in the cesspool.
As they hunted they started to drool.

Hunting high, hunting low, riding ‘round to and fro,
as they frantically searched helter-skelter,
for young Mittens who found a safe shelter.
As they howled and they growled all the air became fouled,
but they couldn’t find Mittens’ safe shelter.
“When we find her, in acid we’ll melt her!”

Could these four scarecrows stoop to even new lows
as they hunt by light of the moon?
(Better hurry the dawn will come soon!)
Long they hunted and haunted but she was undaunted,
she laughed at the bumbling buffoons,
while she purred out a kitty cat tune.

Curled with grace in a space near the warm fireplace,
for the Scarecrow Clan fears the fire.
(Just the thought of it makes them perspire.)
So they searched and they lurched in the fields near the church,
growing desperate, dejected, and dire,
for the sunlight will make them expire.

Without warning came morning, but there was no mourning,
the angels’ black magic was shattered,
and the Scarecrow Clan riders battered.
Under natural law the Clan turned back to straw,
and their straw o’er the cornfield was scattered.
She'll be safe now and that’s all that mattered.

13-March-2020 (Friday the 13th). First Place in "A Rattling Rhyme" poetry contest sponsored by Nina Parmenter

Copyright © Eric Cohen | Year Posted 2020

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Tree Troll Twister

A three-toed tree troll
tried to trap a leaping leprechaun
with a black claw bear paw trap.
But he stubbed toe three in the trap in the tree,
Snip snap toe three was gone.

The two-toed tree troll
tried to trap a laughing leprechaun
with a black claw bear paw trap.
But soon he'd forget where the trap had been set,
Snip snap toe two was gone.

The one-toed tree troll
tried to trap a sleepy leprechaun
with a black claw bear paw trap.
“Go to bed,” he said, “while you still have your head,”
Snip snap now all are gone.

Submitted January 2020 for the "Twist My Tongue" contest sponsored by Nina Parmenter -- First Place

Copyright © Eric Cohen | Year Posted 2020

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Fragments of Fractals


Spawn of iterating quadratic functions.  
Choreographers of cosmic conjunctions.
Impervious to human dysfunctions.

Makers of multiverses.  Encoders of creations.   
Limited only by imaginations.

Recursive.  Coercive.  Immensely immersive.
Purveyors of poetic creative cursive.

With formative fractals you’ll melt your mind’s shackles
and be anywhere that you may want to be.
You can form fractals to your own reality,
and make anything in the sky or the sea.
You can even repurpose them to poetry …

Yes, if
fractals were dactyls they’d flow off the page,
whirling and twirling, sublime.
Freeing us, being us, thoughts disengage,
teasing and pleasing with rhyme,
reaping the rhythms of time.

From mundane equations that yet yield complex
repetitive patterns that please and perplex,
come fractals so beautiful in all respects.

Constructors of coastlines and snowflake concerns, 
foundries for forests, and feathers, and ferns,  
the deeper you dive they have more twists and turns.

Generators of patterns, like veins in a leaf,
and the branches of trees, shapes of every motif.
Look around, everywhere, there are fractals, good grief!

From the large to the small and still smaller they flow,
simple patterns repeating, yet different, you'll know
that there’s just no escaping the great fractal show.

So, let’s face them, embrace them, we’ll host history.
Let us master them, plaster them, I guarantee:
merge your mind into fractals, you’ll set your soul free.

Reconstructed 3/22/2021, for the FRAGMENTS OF VERSE Poetry Contest, sponsored by John Lawless

Copyright © Eric Cohen | Year Posted 2021

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Supernova Bossa Nova

Now I’m ninety solar masses and I grow as I accrete
all the inter-stellar gasses near my neighbors when we meet.
My doctor says I’ve grown too fat too fast, “… it’s unsustainable!”
But I’ve big plans for a big blast that I know is attainable:

I’ll do the Supernova Bossa Nova, watch me when I blow.
Let’s do the Supernova Bossa Nova and host a cosmic show
for galaxies both near and far, a dazzling dance display,
and I’ll blow a smoke ring where we are here in the Milky Way.

My hydrogen will all convert and soon I will implode
inward, I’m an introvert, but watch my shell explode.
My core will keep on shrinking ‘til a blackhole is created,
a wormhole linking to a world where dance is venerated.

We’ll do the Supernova Bossa Nova, watch me when I blow.
You can blame the Bossa Nova but let’s get on with the show!

July 4, 2020  
For the “You are a star Poetry Contest” sponsored by Nina Parmenter (First Place)

Copyright © Eric Cohen | Year Posted 2020

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When gazing Beta Persei,
a star with many ghoulish names, 
be wary of a winking eye,
for many fear its flames,
and ghastly, ghostly games. 

Ancient mariners would watch with dread
and chant their prayers out loud,
when that “Eye in Medusa’s Severed Head”
was held by Perseus proud
high o’er the heathen crowd.

Sailor’s hairs would stand and straighten 
when they glimpsed its grim Gorgona.
The Hebrews called it “Rosh ha Satan”
for its demon head persona,
with serpent hair corona.

Dubbed “Ras al Ghul” in Arabic,
or “Algol” in the West,
“The Demon Star” plays quite a trick,
“The Ghoul’s Eye” says it best,
of this I can attest:

In early evening blazing bright,
guiding galleon ships,
then dimming deeply late at night,
by means of an eclipse
of stars in an ellipse.

Three days hence this trick repeats
with pre-ordained precision.
Dark demon light again depletes
when it winks with wild derision,
which begs a bad decision.

Oh Ras al-Ghul! Oh Ras al Ghul!
So near and yet so far --
do not take me for a fool
that fears "The Demon Star,"The Devil’s Demon Star.”

Yet many who think it mirth or myth,
still double down in doubts,
when that wily eye would wink forthwith
they’ll watch their whereabouts.
Better watch your whereabouts!

For those Gorgon snakes give you the shakes,
and chill you to the bone.
And one wrong look is all it takes
to turn you into stone,
eternally alone.

Submitted June 27, 2020

Copyright © Eric Cohen | Year Posted 2020

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Big Bang Theory of Merope's Nebula

Shimmering over a glassy sea, a moonlight carpet beams.
My walkway high to a starlit sky of memories from my dreams.

There mighty Taurus, rip-snortin’ bull, lowers his horns for battle.
Naked on his shoulders Seven Sisters ride side-saddle.

Dazzling diamonds, blue-white ice,
blazing through nebulosity.
Merope mocked and mooned me twice,
twerking with faux ferocity.

“Begone now, mortal, from my sight,
who dares defile the very night.
Look down upon the moonlit glade,
bear witness to the mayhem made.”

Agape, the Pleiad sisters wailed while yonder Cetus spouted.
“The culprit must be caught and jailed,” the rueful Virgo shouted.

The heavens heaved, so much offended,
torn fabric of time could not be mended.
Then darkness fell like a clap of thunder, 
were it not for Einstein’s Biggest Blunder, 
the Universe was blown asunder. 

Who once wrote “God plays not with dice,”
had not known anything of such vice, 
said:  “Reading erotic poetry can’t compete with cosmic knowitry.”

Submitted:  6/2/2019

Copyright © Eric Cohen | Year Posted 2019

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Schrodinger's Cat Tale

(to Mittens)

Schrödinger’s Cat is where it’s at,
nor live, nor dead, nor purring.
With half a chance she’ll live to prance
the worst may be occurring.

But if I’d look I’d lock her fate.
Dare I disturb her quantum state
when spooky action at-a-distance
could conclude poor cat’s existence?

Somehow unseen I need to see
behind that curious curtain,
where “God plays dice” with cats and mice,
and Heisenberg was uncertain.

Where large meets small, and cause effect,
fact finds science fiction.
It boggles my small intellect …
Each way I think of to protect 
her has some contradiction.

Where simple seeming Maxwell’s Demon,
if programmed to assist … 
To no avail, he’s doomed to fail,
he clearly can’t exist.

Where sober souls succumb to doubt,
should I should "shush" or should I shout? 
Oy! It’s a lot to think about!

Where mighty minds have failed before,
what chance have I to best Niels Bohr?
Poor Einstein nearly fried his noggin
when he tried at Copenhagen.
Then at the Solvay Congress, rambling,
suffered cerebellum scrambling.

Where the world’s four known forces and all it’s best minds,
couldn’t save kitty lest they Unified.
So he tried and he tried, 'til his brain liquified,
still we weren’t Unified on the day Einstein died.

Then followed footsteps, Steven Hawking.
Though he didn’t do much walking,
wowed us with his brilliant squawking.

Black holes have “hair?!” Could information,
spared by quantum sublimation,
paired in Grand Unification,
spare this long-hair’s ruination?

Could yet unwritten cosmic laws
apply behind those blurry walls
to spare her furry feline paws?

I can’t remember if I cried
when I read that Steven Hawking died.
Such sadness touched me deep inside,
still, we were not Unified.

So confidence I can’t exude.
The only thing I can conclude:
Alas, I lack ability
to tinker probability.

But I will give you even odds that all our odds are even.
This odd result results because we’ve mixed our rhymes with reason.
So be it odd to play at God … by God there’s a solution!
I have free will and will by God will out her execution.
So, by stroke of this pen I do decree:
This story ended.  Happily!

Copyright © Eric Cohen | Year Posted 2019

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Ode To Bobby Fischer

Child of darkness, child of scorn,
the devil danced when you were born,
for demon seed from Morphy passed,
would haunt your days ‘til everlast.

Predestined to die derelict,
an iso-pawn so cynical,
how cruel a fate awaits the one
that conquered Caissa’s pinnacle.

With skills eroding into rust,
a mind among things you can’t trust,
your memory was a microchip that couldn’t tell a lie,
so how mind blowing was it knowing
thoughts had gone awry?

Who four and sixty squares ago
long dreamed in peaceful silence.
Such calm demeanor at the board
that conjured fearsome violence:
“Rook sacrifice, then capture twice,
both bishops through his kingside slice…”
Teacher calls but you don’t hear
the question yelled into your ear.
Your answer doesn’t much impress:
“All I want is to play chess!”

A child of wonder, child of light,
found joy in movements of the knight.
But happiness was harsh illusion
of neurons firing in confusion.

A Collin’s kid thrust on a stage,
emotions ranged from rant to rage,
oblivious to death and age.

As paranoia took its toll,
no karaoke rock and roll
could sooth the seething of your soul.

Your Kingdom coming all to naught,
a wonderkind what God hath wrought,
in scenic Selfoss solace sought.

A peaceful place, beyond belief,
real respite, sweet, so sadly brief,
as all good things came soon to grief.

Distrust of doctors wasn’t wise,
failed kidneys led to your demise,
as genius lives so genius dies.

Now rests ye ‘neath a marble marker,
in this modest churchyard, darker
than Icelandic nights, but starker.

Until Aurorae rising blaze 
their tribute to your glory days,
with ethereal light displays.

Lighting lands that fire forges
from raw ice, rift valleys, gorges,
glaciers, falls, and geysers glorious,
vistas vast for visitors curious,
some come to curse your fate, so furious.

Much like this land, your home by trade,
an ice and fire mixture made
of brilliant works, immortal,
until square sixty-four was played,
then sudden back to blackness fade,
snatched back through Heaven’s portal.

For the fates be they fickle, the fates be they random,
they give unto greatness, and rob from its fandom.
Please give us a share of your genius, so prickly.
Oh why must they take all the great ones so quickly?

So we go for the gusto, go for the gold,
so slow to grow up, so fast to grow old.
And since the time you were a snot-nosed pisher,
we’ve been searching for the next Bobby Fischer.

Copyright © Eric Cohen | Year Posted 2019

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Leave it to Beaver: the Last Episode

Beaverish, feverish
hot Mrs. Cleaver wished
that her affair had not
given her clap. 

Fast Eddie Haskell, her
boy-toy, that rascal, his 
claims were all crap.

“Tickle me, pickle me,
say it’s not true, for if
you have the clap then I
must have it too!”

Doctors prescribed her some
Ward soon found out that she
had been untrue.

Beaver was curious,
Ward was so furious,
fake news of Eddie’s lewd
films made him snap.

“June, you’re so sensible,
that you could fall for that
con-artist’s crap!”

Friskiness, riskiness,
ratings were rising, but
not so surprising they
cancelled the show.

Frightened by content too
sponsors said “Beaver” was 
not apropos.

Submitted January 7, 2021 for the “Double Dactyl (Win For Paid Membership) Poetry Contest” sponsored by William Kekaula. First Place.

Copyright © Eric Cohen | Year Posted 2021