August 9-15, 1999: Leslie Cohen and Michael Mack

Week of August 9-August 15, 1999

Leslie Cohen and Michael Mack

Leslie Cohen


I am a freelance writer and a member of Kibbutz Ein Hashofet (Israel) I have published over fifty book reviews in recent years I have also published dozens of poems and about a dozen interviews with writers Finally, I have published a number of articles in educational journals for English teachers.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by
Leslie Cohen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


Every hour has its own rhythms

The morning fugue, an exercise in pre-dawn hysteria, 
calms into alegretto twittering as the sun rises

At dawn, staccato
Beak to beak
they toss instructions
to build the day

After-dawn allegro fades into afternoon andante
as the slow-moving hours weave morning into noon

Early evening adagio, a symphony for scattered soloists, 
subsides into moonlight pianissimo-our midnight lullaby

Birdsong: the balm that heals the daylit soul
as dreams do in our sleep.

Beit Guvrin *

Hillsides of vibrant red poppies
waving in the slow breeze of late winter
droplets of blood on a vast healing lawn
cover a city whose skeletons testify
to the force that never dies, but dreams
beneath the red-on-green
of a previous winter

I step cautiously
into the dark chamber
where a staircase spirals
like the shell of a snail
deep into the columbarium
Doves still nestle there

Fingering the blind stone surfaces
I re-enter a piece of sculpture
chiseled by my own hands

The mighty sigh of a choir
rises through the great dome
as multitudes of former dwellers
join us in the cavern
to enfold us in their echo

Beit Guvrin
a womb
where the unborn and the dead
dream of us.

* Beit Guvrin-an ancient underground city in Israel, resembling the catacombs of Rome


God is an ancient grandmother
Crocheting the fabric of our lives
She slowly hooks the threads of human care
God is an ancient grandmother
Hunched above the tangle of her task
Fingers swollen, sight almost gone
God is an ancient grandmother
unravelling the loops of our frayed days.


my whole life spent learning to fall
the moment of descent approaches
still I shudder

others say it’s beautiful
on the way down
but to touch the earth means to shatter
and I am afraid

I am pushed
wind gusts at my tiny jelly self
shakes my dream of gray
I notice colors
never there before

free-fall is gentle and slow
below the wind stream
ruddy browns poke skyward to greet me
green and yellow-green await me on the ground
blotches of vibrant color swim
with energy far beyond gray
their breeze combs the grass

I land in a color-cup
with other pellets of water
and I do not shatter or splatter:
I am re-embraced
into the common pool
whose memory was almost washed away
in the rain

Trying to Catch

I’m trying to catch a deer with a fish hook I snag his fur and he bolts, annoyed I’m dying to catch your attention, please look
I’m trying to catch a butterfly in a pickle
barrel, but it flutters away after sweeter scents It’s like trying to catch a deer with a fish hook
I’m trying to catch an angel’s ear
with a bee-bop tune, but I’m singing off-key I’m dying to catch your attention, please look
I’m trying to catch your meaning
but you’re speaking backwards, in Chinese It’s like trying to catch a deer with a fish hook
I’m flashing my flamboyance in your face
I’m screaming, singing, dancing all at once I’m dying to catch your attention, please look
I’m trying to catch a kind nod
from the Master ofthe Universe, but
it’s like trying to catch a deer with a fish hook I’m dying to catch your attention, please look.


welded to the swivel stool
glasses on my bridge
I pick up the spool
of metal conductive wire
core of a fluorescent light

we are to be a lamp unto the nations

I wrap the wire, pull it
through the plastic loop
component parts in line
tidy row of ballasts
core of a fluorescent lamp

my people a light unto the nations

repetitive work
morning takes a week to pass
dull moments welded into history
fabric of my earthly shroud
I fashion the core of illumination

a lamp will shine

the comet hovers overhead
a tail of light against forever
lonely torch in the evening
orbiting in relentless pattern
core of a celestial flame

a light unto the heavens

I ask God to reveal something,
anything Do you wonder, too?
Or, are you welded into the sky
like I in my chair?

a torch unto whom?

Michael Mack


I live in Ft Lauderdale, Florida and have been writing since age five (many, many moons ago) I have been published in a variety of magazines and am a member of the Assoication of Florida Poets,  the Florida State Poetry Association, and the Hannah Kahn Poetry Society By nature, I am a balladeer .

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Michael Mack and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

The Dummy

In that forgotten part of town
Where wasted hopes and dreams abound,
A wrinkled man with life near end,
With hopes to have at least one friend,
Fashioned bits of wood and things
And made a dummy run by strings
He sat alone for hours on end
Conversing with his only friend
And found delight within the fact
That he controlled its every act He told it how he’d never had
A chance since all his luck was bad
Although he tried so to succeed –
The dummy nodded and agreed
And how his journeys in romance
Had never given him a chance
And wasn’t it a crying shame
That he was always held to blame
When everyone knew- oh, so well,
That Life was but a living hell,
Controlled by lust and power and greed –
The dummy nodded and agreed
With patience that would rival saints
That dummy sat through all complaints
And, with each little expert tug,
He’d droop his head or bow or shrug
And give some comfort to the man
Who held his lifelines in his hands,
Thus, helped to fill a lonely need
When he just nodded and agreed
Senility increased with time
As did the old man’s pantomime
While feverish fingers pulled with glee
The dummy’s dance of misery They never left each other’s side
Until the day both stopped and died We found them lying, hand in hand,
The dummy-and his wooden friend.

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