Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Advice & Assistance Obtainable Immediately"

"Advice & Assistance Obtainable Immediately"

Everything you need is inside this poem. Open
it in case of emergency. Open it only
when the emptiness swallows the sky
at night. Open it if you are alone
and hear singing. Open it if you hear
a bird cry and think your heart
must break. Everything you need is inside
this poem. The way a blizzard
is a hurricane of stillness. The way you use
music, loud and pounding to beat back
the darkness. There is an oxygen mask
inside this poem. It will automatically open
when you lose cabin pressure. Place it
over your mouth and nose. Breathe
normally. I made sure there was a tennis ball
here too. Because you may forget
how it makes you laugh watching the dog's ears
flap as she chases it down. Everything
you need is inside. Tears
from raw mustard greens eaten on a dare,
Charlie still riding on the MTA. Belizean
chocolate, fiery with chili. Rosemary
for remembrance. Coriander for chicken in a pot.
Everything you need is inside this poem.
Open it. Open it. Open it. Everything you need.
Goodnight Moon is here. Redwall. Thomas
the Tank Engine. A blue box full of time. Everything.
I am here in this poem shoveling words,
great snowbanks of them, tall as the second story,
the roof of a house that nearly burned to the ground
on a Wednesday morning and even if it had,
even if it had, everything you need
is already here. Is
inside. Inside. Inside.

---LJCohen, 2011


  1. I LOVE this poem. This is one of the best poems I've ever read. Don't take this the wrong way but I would want this poem to be read at my funeral (along with Mary Oliver's "A Summer Day"). Awesome.

  2. @LisaR

    Thank you so very much. I am pleased and humbled that this poem touched you. I wrote it for my older son, as he is moving through a rough patch. It has so many specific, personal references to his life, I wasn't sure it would feel at all universal.

    Oh, and I adore Mary Oliver.