Susan Berkeland

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What I'm Not Sad About Today

Allen CohenO Allen,
you've done it again,
your big arching voice scraping the sky on its way back down to earth,
returning again to tell us what to do,
what's happening,
what happened then, how its still happening.
will happen,
no matter the carnage at the gates,
no matter the dumb dog of a president,
no matter the socio-political atmospheric impossibilities of
feeding the children,
cleaning the planet,
lining our nests with sweet comforts and rainbows
God's inevitable good sense--

Your big arching voice scraping the sky on its way back down

I'm not sad because you smiled at me a hundred times
you had a family,
built your world bit by bit
day by day
world by word,
until the whole town talked about your passing-
for days the city waited while you took your own time
to pass across the unknown line--.

I'm not sad because I watched you split from Annie
and marry her all over.
the great chief, skinny and shinning in the sun
with your bright bride
giving you tea,
side by side,
Annie walking with the feet of a young woman
the steps of an unknown road.

I'm not sad because love is timeless,
shapeless even,
as the ceiling opens up into the sky

You old young man,
you lover of new worlds in old skins and new blankets
stretched around all poor people who are cold,
you arch and dive and scatter the seeds of your words--
they fall to the ground,
fall on us--
unexpected rain!

Allem Cohen,
your trail blazer,
you old jew,
you young wolf
hungry for a whole of selfless happiness,
peace to give,
peace to have,
peace to honor,
Be In.
Love In;

I'm not sad because I think you had a great life, Allen.
and a great death.
in your home,
Annie by your side,
friends by your side,
all of us waiting

You died with real dignity,
fresh face titling upward
you put your hand under your chin
as if to tell us a last word.

You'll have the last word, Allen!
Opening the sky, your lines of light
refining their trajectory toward
that right next world
you told us and told us and told us,
ten thousand times you spoke,
ten thousand times at least,
you said your good prayers for a new world,
falling darkness,
hands of light.--
and all those lines you sent out?
they're still traveling---
like the light of stars keep reaching us night and day
day and night

Allen, I'm not sad today because I don't think you are.
Feeling the feeling all of all being here because of you.
How pretty Ann looks today.
the shining tears in Christi's eyes,
Patrick's son,
River's home,
so many friends here gathered.

Feed and feel our shining words.
Feed and feel our re-commitment a hundred times restated,
to live in peace,
to love the world,
to clean her up
and feed her children.

We're here for you, my friend.
We're here for you Allen.

Grateful to be here.
Grateful words can say.
Hearts can feel.
Your big arching voice scraping the sky on its way back down to earth.

Can you hear us?

Always us.
Again and always us.

Always Us!
Always Us!

@ Susan Birkeland

Allen Cohen with SusanSusan Birkeland read this poem for poet editor Allen Cohen the day we all gathered on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park following his memorial procession down Haight Street in San Francisco. (April 2004)

Special thanks to Ann Cohen for sharing this lovely photo of Allen and Susan with us.