April 6-19, 1998: Richard Fein and William Dickenson Cohen

Week of April 6, 1998-April 19, 1998

Richard Fein and William Dickenson Cohen

Richard Fein


I confess that my poetic license was revoked for lewdness I have petitioned the authorities for a new license The head authority on lewdness, some VIP named Clinton, hasn’t responded yet I had to provide him with photos of every woman I know, plus some of my literary credits For the sake of propriety I include here only my literary credentials (For the photos go to, church ladies go beserk @ http://neverhilary/69/1600/penn.org~y

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by Richard Fein and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

Being It

Almost crying birthday boy, birthday girl,
the one who is always It:

searcher behind trees and tall grass on sunny days,
or sofas and closed closet doors on rainy ones,
hearer of giggles behind you,
head turner who finds no one there,
seeker of a crouched humanity that’s become an afterimage
flickering like a phantom star in your eye—

the one who knows that in an unseen place,
someone is pressing a finger to his lips,
warning the group of your unwanted approach,
while you seek that home base again,

to pass the title to the one who sticks out from the rest
or the slowest of the lot,
to end this business of finding who or what flees from finding,
to hide with the others from the one who doesn’t belong,
at this loneliest hour of the party,

this late afternoon time,
after the cake candles were blown out and wishes made,
but before the opening of the presents.

Eschewing Intimacy

studied geometry
and pondered the logic
of pawns and kings on checkerboard battlefields He
reached out and touched
the world around him
by tinkering with engines
and marveling at the meshing of machine gears He
felt warmth
from the glow of incandescent vacuum tubes
of his own design He
found companionship
playing with ant colonies
putting sugar on his finger
and watching them crawl for sweetness He found faith
in the certainty of computer circuitry
and the accuracy of the output
He always bought bonds with a fixed rate of return
whenever he possessed a principal
finding them a lot less worrisome
than chancing those mercurial investments
that only might yield high interest Of course he neither loaned nor borrowed much No friend needed him He needed no friend His assets
near the expiration of his term
remained pretty much the same
as when he started,
but he was satisfied
at the final audit
he made
proper and prudent investments
for himself.

At The Follies

Life is a gum-chewing stripper,
a favorite honky-tonk act She wears any costume you want,
or a headdress of bananas Ms Life plays all roles,
from shy schoolgirl
to Mistress Wanda cracking her whip But she peels it all off She milks each minute—a vaudeville smoothy—
while voyeurs in raincoats swoon
on broken-down chairs Comes the time
all secrets are finally exposed Behold,
a sweaty g-string tossed around a customer’s neck Your neck, stupid
The climax is a prancing, pimply, sagging butt End of show Well schmuck, what did you expect—
a golden ass?
If you don’t like it—leave,
go drop your shorts in your bathroom,
turn your head,
and gawk in the mirror And if you liked it,
get the hell out anyway One show per customer There’s a long ticket-holder’s line outside Outta here—move.

Loony Lucy

Loony Lucy who’s not that plain
plays with dolls at seventeen,
some joke played by the womb or genes When she walks by the park, expressway, or lake
there’s always laughter, she’s a happy girl
Sweet sixteens would walk away,
and neighborhood men would pass her by
not knowing what else to do or say Mothers would hurry their little girls from her
and boys playing ball would stop to shout
“Hey loony Lucy show us your panties “

Underneath the elevated highway
where the sun is forever blocked,
during the evening when shadows merge
to form a blanket of dark,
she meets still another stranger He makes diamonds out of rhinestone and glass
and promises to return in Cinderella’s chariot, after He presses her against the vaulting poles
that hold the roadway traffic up Their sighs are gentle below the roaring noise Now she waits, again through the night
for her chariot to appear.


Scandalously omitted from Webster’s third unabridged So many nuances for so many:

for the unimaginative herpetologist—a very confused snake,
for the Gnostics— a would be Papal ring if they weren’t heretics,
for Escher—a gold mine of impossibilities,
for Kekulé—pleasant dreams while sniffing benzene,
for a stern Bible thumper—Eve’s serpent eating its own words and
for the 9 to 5 drudge—a dog chasing its tail,
for the wanna be Jeremiah—” In our appetites for sin we ourselves
for the stoic—” the beginning must consume the end,”
for the optimist—” each swallow makes you fatter and sturdier,”
for the Buddhist—the wheel of the mandala (which is in the
dictionary—go figure),
for the Ayn Rand objectivist—” one should roll through life on one’s
own skin,”
for the recluse—” make yourself your own perimeter,”
for the paranoid—” I’ll bite the one who’s following me,”
for the schizophrenic—” I love, hate, hate, love this poem,”
for the $150/hour Freudian—” one is birthed by the womb and consumed
by it “

And for so many others—
A good trademark if a Harvard lawyer can doubletalk the common domain
issue away This wondrous round, this serpentine frisbee, this viper hula-hoop, this

asp of a doughnut—
surely there must be an entry for this moniker for a continuum Ourn and ourouparia should make way,
for this vision of bending over to eat one’s tail, for this holy stamp
of the ultimate ass-kisser Perhaps a baser meaning will persuade the descendants of Noah Webster,
a peephole through a politician’s bedroom door.

William Dickenson Cohen


I am a graduate of Occidental College in L.A Until recently, I was a Southern Californian, but last June moved to Brooklyn just so I could have people ask me repeatedly, “Why?” My poems have appeared in ATOM MIND, MOBIUS, MIND IN MOTION, THE ROCKFORD REVIEW and many more This June, Phoenix Press in Berkeley will publish my first chapbook, tentatively titled THREE CROWS FRAMING THE MOON.

I have included three poems: MADNESS, I AM MORBID FASCINATED, AND YOU SANK MY BATTLESHIP which have previously appeared in The Rockford Review, Rusty Scupper and Phoenix magazine, repsectively.

I have 19 month old daughter, collect books, and work as a trainer for a collection agency in Midtown Manhattan

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by William Dickensen Cohen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.


The Cobbler has gone insane,
she whispered,
he keeps ranting and raving
about mysterious elves
and miracle shoes
multiplying overnight I think he should be put away
Eyelets wink at each other
in the empty shop They have just carted
the cobbler away “For His Own Protection,”
the Constable said A crowd gathered
and tossed sad glances
at the tired old man
who shod their weary feet An old woman weeps in the doorway,
blaming only herself
The elves are speechless,
hidden in their secret holes Disillusionment
bleeds like an open wound,
drowning them in a poison pool
of human nature .They move
further away to escape the madness
and it is silently decided:

the days of miracles are over.

I Am Morbid, Fascinated

I am morbid, fascinated
by the typed certificates,
intrigued by the text
invisible between the lines
The coroner’s poetry moves me I envision such an injury
and cringe at the first glimpse
in my imagination
.I search for more
clues, more meaning The deceased
is–no–was my age, within a couple
of months, and he died on New Year’s Eve But why?
Slow motion low-grade film projects
an image in my mind Bystanders
grow ill from the gore, a quick
and painless death Aha! Just
as I suspected, in a box marked
Other significant conditions contributing to death,
looms the condemning phrase:
ACUTE ETHANOL INTOXICATION Now everything makes sense
I drop the document
and move on to other tasks
more pressing However, halfway
through lunch, I pause and
reconsider the text Words
such as, South Dakota, 
Student, Chattanooga, Never
Married, clump like magnets in my mind
I retrieve the copy from my trash
and read some more The accident
occured on Christmas Eve, his body
functioned for a week before it
ceased to be A life summed up
on a thin piece of paper
What was he studying? Was he in love?
Did he ever know what hit him? Will
Christmas ever be the same for his
family? Or did they even care?

The answers to such questions
are far out of reach, having
flickered out long ago
in Brown’s Colonial Crematorium,
Phoenix, Arizona.

You Sank My Battleship

I knew I wasn’t a child anymore
when I saw them advertise
an electronic version
of my favorite childhood game
What next? I thought and
before I could answer myself,
all Hell broke loose
and technology fell from the sky

like balloons at the end of a kiddie show
Not everything in life makes sense There is more to an air craft carrier
than four pegs that fit perfectly
into a plastic ocean Coordinates

are more complicated than just
a letter-number combination Machines are invented to provide
the noises our imaginations once created
War at sea just isn’t as much fun In our landfills, buried under millions
of tons of refuse, half-inch red pegs
that once could sink battleships

melt into one another,
and devoid of meaning.