Two Poems by Cathleen Cohen


My friend sculpted a cobra from vacuum hose,
encrusted its coils with marbles:
cat’s eyes, comets, sunbursts,
even a chipped Joseph’s coat.

It took months to plaster the snake’s hood,
embed ball bearings eyes
and rim them with gold acrylic.
She wants me to lift it up

so I can feel the casings
texturing its skin. She tells
how she drove to the shooting range
down on Oregon Street, floors swelling

with shells. Can I picture
how thick they were on the floor?
Like wading through water,
flood from a burst pipe.

What fear might call anyone
into that place to sharpen
their anger, their aim?
Last week, a box of bullets fell

from a fourth grader’s coat
in the class next to mine.
We teachers raced to retrieve them
snaking under desks.



An injured hawk is carried into art class.
Warned not to speak or make
sharp gestures, we gaze

as the handler lifts a black cloth
covering the cage.
Within, the hawk quakes

as the handler unknots
a rope and ties it to his wrist.
We shiver

as the hawk shivers,
scans the room, swivels
his bright head to stare

with yellow eyes, shocked.
He doesn’t regard us
but seems in an instant

to take our measure,
map space
between our bodies’ horizontals

as if he could escape,
as if his wing
had knitted and healed.

We are not trees in the open,
not wind, although our sticks
of charcoal rishrush

as we scribble on paper,
trying to capture one flicker,
the lift of one feather.


Cathleen Cohen was the 2019 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA. Her poems appear in various journals and her poetry collections are: Camera Obscura ( 2017), Etching the Ghost (2021) and Sparks and Disperses (2021). Her paintings are on view at Cerulean Arts Gallery ( and

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