Bailey Cohen

Angelo Gives Birth To A Wild Horde of Dragonflies


The sun is so high

it cannot be seen. If there is a breeze, it is breaking


each of the petals from their flowers! Unimportant bugs

tremble behind them, like tumbleweed waltzing


above the earth. In this dream, I am small

enough to fit inside just a single drop of water. Nobody


can see me, but I am so beautiful. I say silly things. I watch grass grow

& say this is the grass! this is the grass


that grows! I watch a child surprise his way into a kaleidoscope 


of butterflies. I watch the sky & move toward it 

like prayer. 


When I wake, I give birth painlessly to a wild horde of dragonflies. 

The Dragonflies Pantomime A Child


We miss the lake! We miss the



We have never seen a lake.


Watch us

collide with each other


until the whole of us is shaped like a child. Hold our hand


& take us, please, to the lake.

Angelo Tries To Convince The Child Again Going To The Lake

Listen to me—I know my achievements

aren't many. Just yesterday, I


hobbled to the market in search of pineapples 


but bought only pre-made mango salsa. but I 

love you! child, I 


love you—I will write poems about your little flights! The child 


buzzes angrily at me, waving his arms like a suddenly animate scarecrow. 

The lake! The 


lake! Child! Child! Light

of my life! There is no lake. Let me comb your hair.




The Lake Remembers A Summer


I forget

that I'm lonely, I forget


that I've been made terrifying. Remember the fish

& their fish faces? The politicians & businessmen & war profiteers’ didn't think they were beautiful


enough & hardly anyone disagreed! Is this 

a dilemma? I remember saying loudly


This is a dilemma!


until men like Angelo threw their poisons in my water. 

Joy! Joy! Joy! The red-eyed rabbits


would nibble beside me. Angelo, what 

would it make of you, were you to do something cruel 


to a cruel thing?




Angelo Confesses To The The Child


If you prioritize


your body, you prioritize your species. Thus—

prey. Thus—I am forever 


folding into my shoulders. They ache & I


ignore them. I ignored the myriad signs. I took

long showers. Ate pink meat. Left lights on. My sins are unspectacular


& plentiful. The child buzzes angrily, until its shadow resembles many things, if those things were     

               only shadows; if their shadows were made of dragonflies.


I'm trying to say we consumed the lake. We poured into

the lake


until the lake was more Human than lake. I used to spend summers



its silky water into perfect circles

with silver stones. Now, there are puddles upon it, brown


as unoxidized pennies. I'm

sorry. I'm the messenger 


& I'm shooting

the messenger. Child, believe me! The heartbeats


I'd exchange for things like a willow tree. The people who love me

tell me I worry too much. Child, I worry


for you! I worry if you go to the lake & sip its water,

you will be faithless as a businessman! Can you not just sit


beside me? Eat this fruit before it spoils?




Angelo Drowns

Men like you have thrown their poisons in the water. All we wanted


was to go to the lake

& now—look—would you call that


a lake? It is nearly entirely



in its composition! I hope I stand unseen. The worst

things bathe of man. Angelo! The grief


of it all! With my many-winged hands I could wring

your neck! For


the first time, when he looks at me, Angelo

seems afraid. We take the boy, our


many-winged hands join those of what once was water

& into Angelo's open mouth we begin 


to weep. Angelo! we 

sob, let us comb 


your hair.




Angelo is Prayed For


Don't call this a drowning. Even the quietest forms of protest can be beautiful, like a poet

learning to read


by candlelight. Beside the poisons, the body

of Angelo rests. The lake


is cleaned, but it dirties again, quickly

as blood


appearing & re-appearing in a fresh wound. Something violent happens


somewhere else & Angelo

is forgotten. On this odd rock there are crueler mysteries


than a child

made of dragonflies, & his suddenly bloodied hands. His hands! The child


asks the politicians

& the businessmen & war profiteers—what


does it make of you

when you do something cruel


to a cruel thing?

Bailey Cohen is the author of Self-Portraits as Yurico (Glass Poetry Press, 2020). The associate editor of Frontier Poetry, his work is featured in publications such as Southern Indiana Review, Boulevard, Raleigh Review, [PANK], Boiler Journal, Longleaf Review, and elsewhere. Bailey is a student at NYU and can be found across most social media platforms @BaileyC213.