Andrea Cohen

Fox and Piñata
July 20, 2023 Cohen Andrea



I saw my first movie
downtown at The Fox. It
was a double feature––
The Future playing
on the same screen
as The Past, and
beneath the ninety-six
stars of the Arabian sky,
I spilled my Coke and
someone scolded me
and someone cleaned me up,
and a sad usher in a bowtie
and flashlight cried quietly
as the summer matinée
of rain played on
the minarets and turrets
of that architectural mash-
up of Alhambra and Karnak,
and down the street, there
were cannons and Confederate
flags outside Johnny Reb’s,
and people who believed
in progress picketed while
men in Civil War uniforms
distributed leaflets that said
Everyone loves Johnny Reb’s
ice cream. You can love
the ice cream and hate
the hand that makes it.
You can see it all
in a silent news clip
in black and white.
You can see The Past
and The Future on two reels,
and what were moving
pictures back then anyway,
but a series of stills
strung together, spilling
out under a trompe l’oeil
night––just another
highly flammable
illusion of motion.







It’s not a lot
to blindfold
a child, to
give him
a couple good
spins and
a wooden
bat, to tell
him to swing
his little
heart out.
Harder is
to stock
the piñata
with rotted
plums, with
nettles, with
a confetti
of IOUs––
to fill that
with the truth
about how
nothing swung
at blindly––
with force
and glee––
yields anything
resembling sweets.


Andrea Cohen is the author of eight poetry collections, including Everything, Nightshade, and The Sorrow Apartments (forthcoming). She directs the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, MA.