you are in the diode archives v5n1



Self Portrait As a Drowning Man

Dieter Roth painted himself
and cut the painting into bits.
Some cutters cut

to see blood flow, to feel
light-headed and alive.
Cutting, for such people

is constructive. They shape
who they are as a child
from construction paper makes

a paper doll. Some people
feel an arm or leg
doesn’t belong to them.

They get fifth or sixth
opinions until a physician
agrees to cut it off. Dieter

Roth cut himself
into pieces to fit
inside a suitcase. To

make a drowning man,
take all his fragments
and add water.


Premium, Dusk

My mother paid six cents
for every jar of fireflies.

She paid an extra cent
for every hole drilled in the lid.

But the highest fee went
to the empty jar, the jar

around which the fireflies
flashed their ecstasies,

around which we’d sit
and sing as if

around a campfire.
You could only sit

so close, given
the glow, given

the sparks, which,
given, fever this cheek still.


The Care and Feeding of One-Way Mirrors

Do not overfeed either
side of the mirror. Do not
assume that the man brought in

for questioning does not
intuit you observing.
At regular intervals, the observer

and the observed, also known
as the suspect and the one
who suspects him, should

trade places. All cases
involving one-way mirrors
require this balance, which

appears foolish only until a bare
bulb dangles above you, until
staring long enough at yourself

in the glass, even you
doubt the airtight alibi
you keep repeating.  


Andrea Cohen’s most recent books are Kentucky Derby and Long Division (Salmon Poetry). She directs the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts.