Richard Seltzer's home page  Publishing home

Missing Rex

by Rochelle S. Cohen


Winter of My Soul


For my husband Rex Sexton


I live in the Artic now

on an ice floe that drifts

aimlessly on the still,

cold sea of my existence,

the enormity of bergs

and glaciers dwarfed by the

sorrow of your absence.


I search for a sign from you,

a crimson corona, a fata morgana.

But these illusions are hidden

by the dense fog in my mind,

which obscures my vision

and muffles any sound

I try to construe as your voice.


Intruders, like immense shards

of glaciers crashing into the sea,

unnerve my precarious peace.

Famished artic fox stalking for

morsels from my fragile psyche

disrupt my futile pursuit of

even a mirage of your being.


I am like a polar bear hanging on

to a melting ice raft, exhausted.

I lie in wait, hoping for salvation

in the memory, not of grand events,

but of those inadvertent gestures,

ordinary then, but extraordinary

now without you.



Stopover in Stavanger


I flew from Amsterdam to Bergen, Norway

with a stopover in Stavanger.

I descended the steps down to the tarmac

and looked up at the night sky.

I took flight again, not yet to Bergen, but to

endless space studded with shimmering stars,

illuminating the stark, white snow below.


Now, thirty-eight years later, I stare at your

final painting, white, faceless figures floating

in a starlit, black universe. Is this a message

for me, a hidden map to know where you are?

Time is fluid outside of earth’s reality. I’ll go

back to that tarmac. Stargazing in Stavanger,

I will find you.



The Sound of Silence


The sorcerer sun waves its beams of light

And we hear the snow slowly vanishing

A creak of crumbling snow falling off branches

A squish of slush under plodding rubber boots

A splash of a puddle plunged in a failing leap


But, another kind of snow does not melt

Above the snow line lies perpetual snow

Hushed in the Himalayas, Andes and Alps

Despite its peaks reaching for the warmth

Of solar rays too frail for the frigid challenge


My heart is encrusted in everlasting snow

Muted forever defying the passage of time

And the deceptive heat of the winter sun

For me missing you

There is no mourning thaw



Double Diamond


“He gave her wings, she gave him roots”

Was eulogized when I said good-bye to you

An unlikely pair opined both sides of the aisle

She, steeped in scientific method, earthbound

He, improvisational with paint, soaring and

Flying aloft in the firmament


He was a kite on a gusty spring afternoon

The restless atmosphere tossing his tortured

Mind and soul into a turbulence translated

Into a menagerie of inimitable flying forms

The canvas being the only pull of gravity

That forced them down to solid ground


She took his hand and they became the kite

Double Diamond floating in the spring breeze

In an illusion of a center diamond within its rim

Without him, the kite is forced down by the

Mundane chatter of the earthborn on terra firma

Kite flying, I’ll be into the wind climbing back to you



“A Steambath For Your Troubles”


Based on the title of the painting by the Czech painter Solc


The summer air holds its heavy humidity

as I sit sweat-soaked in expectant waiting

for the foreboding rumble, the harbinger

of the cloudburst promising to cleanse

my inconsolable soul of this stifling sorrow.


The downpour quenches the oppressive heat

and quells the chaotic turbulence within while

a cool summer breeze offers a restoring respite

until the threat of imminent inner storms

hover on the horizon again.



By the Light of the Moon

A Valentine

(A Brazilian Legend)


From the marriage of Amazonian maidens

with the resplendent, celestial, silver Moon,

the glimmering stars were born.
Impassioned with the handsome Moon,

and the promise of living by his side as a star,

the maiden Naia climbed the highest mountains

to be close to her beloved. But, even at the peaks,

outspreading her arms, she could not reach him.


Naia ceased her search and became despondent.

One glorious night, she approached the river,

looked within, and saw the reflection of the Moon!

Naia had no doubt it was an invitation for love

by the Moon, himself, who eluded her embrace.

She eagerly threw herself in the river,

diving deep in a futile search for the

distant Moon until she disappeared forever.


The Moon felt responsible for the tragedy.

He thought the maiden deserved recompense

to live forever and, in a gesture of gratitude,

the Moon transformed her into a unique flower

of great magnitude, the majestic Vitória-Régia.

With its intoxicating perfume, floating on water,

it only opens its petals in the radiance of moonlight,

just as my heart fills in the glow of memories of you.



Ice Skating


We slid eight blocks down State Street

on the slick, icy sidewalks of Chicago

me, skidding and slipping in high heels,

like a beginner stumbling at an ice rink

hilarious as I hung on to your arm,

heading to the oh so posh Pump Room

for the alluring atmosphere and warmth

of potent drinks and steamy torch songs.

We entered another time and place,

a world of the thirties, forties and fifties,

glamorous film stars, politicos and literati,

framed in black and whites on the walls.

We’d pick our favorites, Bogie and Bacall,

Wagner and Wood, Gertrude Lawrence,

John Steinbeck and, maybe, a Queen or two.

You could almost hear the feverish Peggy Lee

singing her torrid trope if you tried hard enough.

Waiters in bejeweled turbans delivered drinks,

your warmed cognac in a ballooned snifter, mine

a Brazilian bomb concoction of coffee liqueurs.

The seductive singer leaned on the grand piano

and we listened to the sultry strains of lost love.

We sat by the window and, adorning our view,

snowflakes danced then disappeared, each one

a momentary miracle, just as you were to me

on that cold Chicago night.

Autumn Leaves Underfoot

A medley of hues of autumn’s magnum opus,
summer’s swan song, crunch underneath new shoes.

She leaves behind the sidewalk’s chalked, but faded,
squares from hopscotch, a game of chance and skill,

and aims straight for her undiscovered self, sitting
behind a wooden desk, second row, fifth seat, as in

that first grade class picture, fresh, smiling, hands
beneath the desk, pretty dress, anticipation in her eyes.

New black and white composition book in hand,
a tabula rasa, she awaits her own lines to be filled in.

Or, did fate already write her story as she
guilelessly glides toward a destiny in waiting?

When our own autumn arrives, we contemplate
our life’s game of hopscotch. Where the pebble landed,

how well we hopped through the course. Crisp autumn
winds swirl the lingering leaves over the pastel court.

There’s no turning back.



Bio for Rochelle S. Cohen


Rochelle S. Cohen is presently Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was the recipient of the 2008 College of Medicine at Chicago Distinguished Faculty Award. She is a neuroscientist with publications in synaptic structure and biochemistry and hormonal effects on brain and behavior. Rochelle is presently studying the Brazilian Portuguese language. Her love of marine biology is reflected in her present endeavor of writing a book of poetry about marine life and science.  She was married to the writer and artist Rex Sexton.


Some of these poems were published in: The Avocet, PoetsWest and Lone Stars.  privacy statement