“Ten Sloppy Haiku of Ordinary Life” by Bruce Cohen

Bruce Cohen


Magazines in the doctor’s
Waiting room are never current.
I skim, anyway, the outdated.
What appears to be a deflated father unloads 
Vacation gear from his trunk onto the highway’s 
Soft shoulder so he can unbury his spare.
The cashier licks his fingers, un-crumples—
Holds the bills up to the light, counts—recounts—
Suspecting I am, like everyone, counterfeit.
The dissolving snow makes some boys 
Giddy for baseball or playing outside without jackets; 
Others melt with the snow.
Noisy woodpeckers at the birdfeeder 
Bully sparrows & hog sunflower seeds.
Chipmunks hoard what spills onto the grass. 
When I tried on my new suit for the seamstress, I boasted
My grandfather had been a tailor, hoping for a discount,
At least good service. She said nothing with pins in her mouth.
Under my inherited quilt, 
I sweat with terror.
Blanket kicked off, I shiver.
I order lunch from my car into a speaker.
Some days I have no idea what I want.
Most days the window-kid doesn’t make a mistake. 
Even though I don’t believe 
In God, sometimes I make bargains 
Or ask for small favors.
I reach as far back as possible in the supermarket 
Cooler for the most recently stocked milk 
& still squint to read the expiration date.

from Rattle #82, Winter 2023


Bruce Cohen: “My favorite quote is from a Wislawa Zymborska poem that reads, ‘I prefer the absurdity of writing poems to the absurdity of not writing poems.’”

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