Two Poems by Julia Cohen

Passover Lullaby for Elijah, April 19 2019 / Elegy for Chabad of Poway Synagogue
April 27 2019

A sinkhole of humans
A marquee of humans
A nomad of humans
A lake of humans
A smuggle of humans
A kibbutz of humans
A pollen of humans
A grenade of humans
A hammock of humans
A Shirley Temple of humans
A bloviation of humans
An occupation of humans
A foliage of humans
A miscarriage of humans
A blindfold of humans
A West Bank of humans
A wound of humans
A downpour of humans
An intersectional of humans
A lilac of humans
A Black Forest of humans
A haroset of humans
An Instagram of humans
A dogbone of humans
A handhold of humans
A Kristallnacht of humans
A speakeasy of humans
A hypocrisy of humans
A miniseries of humans
A slather of humans
A kiss of humans
A fecund of humans
A neckshot of humans
A lullaby of humans
A paycheck of humans
A spooning of humans
A Tsva ha-Hagana le-Yisra’el of humans
A cricket of humans
A Planned Parenthood of humans
A psychoanalysis of humans
A stowaway of humans
An Ellis Island of humans
A fracking of humans
A fingerbang of humans
An ignorance of humans
A Haggadah of humans
An innate devotion of humans
A measles vaccine of humans
A retched of humans
A Spacewitch Antifa of humans
A bathtime of humans
An empathy of humans
An AirBnB of humans
A border patrol of humans
A suffering of humans
An unconditional of humans
A candlelight of humans
An ICE of humans
Another April of humans
A Finals Week of humans
An entropy of humans
A picnic of humans
A selfish of humans
A thumb of humans
A synagogue of humans
A forest camouflage of humans
A collateral of humans
A camphor of humans
A Tornillo TX of humans
A corpuscular of humans
A matinee of humans
An open door for Elijah of humans
A resplendent of humans
A bookshelf of humans
A locust of humans
A glisten of humans
A Jews for Justice in Palestine of humans
A Splenda of humans
A quagmire of humans
A Kafka of humans
A Jewfro of humans
A bedtime of humans
An active shooter drill of humans
A baruch haba of humans
A #MeToo of humans
A femur of humans
An escape of humans
A manmade of humans
A silent cup of humans
A bullshit of humans
A blossom of humans
A miraculous of humans 

 

A Love Poem When the Government Conspires Against Us

Your body’s weather
helps me hear what’s out there—
How the river reveals
cars that the bridge hides. To find your voice in
the berries pelting our morning yogurt
To find your voice teasing my dress
over my head
Even from deep in the brambles
I know these twigs
are more nest than gnarl

All winter I’ve waited
for the sun to warm my hair into a nest
where you could fly your hand
Like peonies released from the grip
of their own green fists, petal me
with a trusting light

What changes when we fall?
What rushes in
to fill the space of hesitation? 
I’ve never been farther 
than the ledge of your bed
trying to disappear 
so you can sleep. So I listen 
for your voice in the cuff 
of a borrowed sweater, in a dandelion’s mane
The moment the stairwell lights up
before you let me in

I feel dumb writing a love poem
when the government conspires against us
I feel dumb writing a love poem
when the government conspires against our friends
But the government will always conspire
against us & I fear that I will love you
more than you can love me
Or worse, that my love falls on you
like cold rain instead
of the glow at the center of a backlit leaf

Maybe we will walk away with pockets
full of twigs? Maybe. But I want my love
to help you survive—to be the tree
on a one-tree island
with seeds shaped like tiny boats
I’m afraid that while the government conspires
against us we, too, conspire against each other

But I look in your eye & see a snowy planet
I look in your other eye & see its blue ring
How could night even exist
without them
How could a bed exist
How could my socks exist on an otherwise naked body
How could morning exist
without cold tea on the nightstand
How could a chickadee
I want my love to land

 

 

***

Julia Cohen is the author of two books of poetry and one collection of lyric essays, I Was Not Born (Noemi Press, 2014). Her recent work appears in journals like Juked, The Rumpus, and BOMB. She can be found at juliacohenwriter.com, and on Twitter @JuliaACohen.

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