Poetry by Bruce Louis Cohen
On this page are samplings of various kinds of poetry written by Bruce L. Cohen outside of his song-lyric writing (available on different page with its own drop-down menu).
Publishers or agents with interest in commissioning new poetic works by Bruce Louis Cohen, or publishing extant works, please email to this link. Thank you.
For his wife’s every decade-marking birthday since their marriage in 1991, Bruce has written Debi 10 original, new sonnets for each year of the decade.
They were written to be a private collection all Debi’s own: but in mid-2014, Debi gave permission to publish some of them in the open.
Below are a few of the forty sonnets written so far – Decades by Years • Sonnets For Debi • Sonnets 1 through 40).
Decades by Years • Sonnets For Debi • (Vol. I: 1-30) • Bruce L. Cohen ©1997 • All Rights Reserved
4. My family wants to sleep on me, that’s all They seem to want to do. First one then two Then three all have a piece of Abba, who Is just lying there, quite horizontal. Horizontal never had it so good, Or so sweet. And I, who used to dream of Such a pure smother of cuddling love, As one, then two, then three all in the mood For me dig above, below beside and Everywhere ... I sigh, and say so be it. The little two, they will soon enough flit Away into their bigness shying from such grand Umbrage as my form can now provide, and You ... my Bun ... will still be there to smile and Hold and oooh and drain love thermally ... and Mark with me the sheer wonder of it. Stand I do, and often shall. But the laying Down with you now, Family ... makes Abba sing. * (Fourth stanza is outside classic sonnet form here: I experimented in the late 1970’s with re-inventing the sonnet: some of that inclination lingers. Shakespearian, Miltonic, Petrarchian & Cummingsian forms all beckon so. - BLC.) 10. We went through hell together, you and I, And somehow we survived, but how, I do Not know. The winds that tore, the hail that flew And tore the softness out of us, God knows why, When we lost everything, every mooring That held us to the stable shore was cut By man’s inhumanity to man, but Made still sharper in the depth of the sting That came from raw betrayal by all whom We held dear. Did King David err in his Love of Saul? Was he a fool to stress His life with trust of one gone mad, and tomb Himself in the cave of madness only For love of God and godly loyalty? 11. By Mount Tabor in the blonded hay, we Kissed our separateness away, and how we Kept level in our souls, or sanity Between us I will never know. To me It is all a blur, as I went from one Twoward toward you only you in that then That created this now; and we know when God does, He does what He knows should be done. So Debra and Barak came out of Mount Tabor, and tens of thousands with them (we Pray!). For we (the we that live because We daredtoceaseourdanceofbeing d i s t a n t) arenowoneinsomanywayswecan’t begintotelljustwhereweendorstart 16. Jerusalem, Jerusalem. I hear It singing in your heart when quiet comes; And some hard accommodation benumbs The underseeth of hunger to be there. I know. I feel it, too. We both have stood Within her walls and as her children we Have danced in her streets and joyed in her, free With our love for her and faith for her good As the plan of God unfolds for her and Us. The day will come when we know our Time and place in her; til then we labor For her good from here. One eye towards Our Land. We remember each day in Dispersion; The day is coming for our Inclusion. 20. You and I, we speak in code, and no one Outside has a prayer of understanding Even one so open word, the meaning Of the words is buried so in pure fun And history. Kids are bunlets, “One-let, Two-let.” Wives are buns, and husbands are huns; “We’re leaving, “ and “Moon!” are laden with tons Of undermeanings imbued with tacit Experience no two others share. We Alone are we, and Summersby is not A possible scenario, so taut And sure are the lines that fix doubly. One plain sentence is all it takes to know, Miles of us beneath every word speaks below. 21. “Be free!” It totally undid me, to See a paperclip set free. Ein Gedi Stood on the nearby horizon. And I Stood on the brink of commitment. The true Depth that little quip reached inside my soul And pulled me closer to the waterfall In whose pool with cascading bluish wall Quite overwhelmed and washed and soaked in all The dry and laughless lonelinesses love As yet had found no moistening means. Above The lonely noise, my heart alaugh in chains With kingish waters flowing from above. When you, that little clip had thrown away And opened with it me, as with a key. 29. You are the strongest summer I can know, And how your summer sweetened all I see; The gift of you in summer was bounty I can never repay you. To allow Me to spend your summer with you in this Life God built for us; and know you know kiss Your summer fond and every more to pass - Makes me to wrap such deep-laden endless Embrace upon you. Pardon my over- Coursing flood of words, but as your twenties Leave I want to bid adieu with you ... thirties Shall be easier at least. Spring weather Is milder than the summer, this we know. But ahh, such times we grateful watch to go.
Forty is what forty does and that is
Far from uniform – it might improve, it
Might devolve, it might reward or edit
Former goals or dreams – and pull at the seams
What once was thought and once believed to be
A destination absolutely so
Certain that it took no effort to know:
Of course that root would grow to such a tree
Then sun and night and wind and rain arrive
Informing all the growing that becomes
The life at forty with its own rhythms
Unbidden they emerge and they contrive
To live to love to learn and always better
A life devout to spirit and to letter.
Married to the mob is quite a life; but
Married to the target of Capone takes
A special woman who of trouble makes
An opportunity to stand for what
Capone does not, no do the ones who fear
His anger. There are things worse than danger.
There are fates worse than jeopardy, there are
States worse than peril, and trials worse than mere
Movement into harm’s way. The peace of soul
That comes from no piece of soul surrendered
To mere fear of some hope being murdered
Can not be known by those without the will
To say “I’d rather die than give Capone my
Soul by calling ‘truth’ what a child knows a lie.
“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”
Jack says, “You messed with the wrong Marine.”
Few know how wrong a choice it’s ever been
To cross my wonderwoman – there’s a tooth
In mothers that comes out for kids like
No other force in the universe can
Come out for them: Ema rises to stand
Up for whatever they need, and can strike
A blow for their good with the strength of ten.
Nowhere no how no one will keep away
From her babies what they require each day
Each year each minute each life –will be won.
“You’ve messed with the wrong marine” if you have dared
To cause her sons to lack what might be secured.
Israel is still later and not now. She
Sits there calling us but always later.
Jerusalem is home but is not here
And not now. How fortunate we are to be
Where we are until we are at last where
Our hearts have been from even long before
We became us – it’s impolite to stare
At the future when our now is so far
Above what could be Iowa … or New
Jersey. Thank God Manhattan is our call
For now until when Jerusalem will
Send her golden summons to us – right through
To exalt above our chief joy as it should
The City of the King, and work for its good.
We have swum in Eilat’s bay and theatered
In New York. We have anniversaried
In the Plaza, Waldorf, Rainbow Room and
Popped many a cork. It has been so grand
To live and love and thirty with you as
You EmaWifeRebbetzinPal about
Through tests that would make a patriot doubt
His country – and you are not above pause
To question, reflect – or party hearty
With your HunBoysPalsShulmatesorYali
And savor every moment fierce or jolly
And remember why – always and ever why
You live and love and labour for the true prize:
To give the world what has worth in Heaven’s eyes.