Norma Cole

Fourth of July, 2015

For David Miller and Kevin Killian

At the Ice Cream Bar there were sweethearts and generations of parents, their grown children and grandchildren. “I’ll have a butterscotch sundae,” someone said.

He was far away now, but they were both thinking about the angel sitting at the top of the stele, on the wing of the golden angel.

It was a bookcase but opened like a door. It was a door. It was a déjà-vu.

If it had been a film, the handsome youth would have knelt down beside the old woman lying, then sitting, on the ramp, saying, “Are you all right?” Then, as she gingerly felt her right temple, he would have exclaimed, “You’re bleeding! Do you want us to call an ambulance?” whereupon the old woman would have said “No,” picked up her glasses, and stood up.

They rode on horseback through the jungle to the sea.

Fear of falling or fear of flying?

Local action, provisionally.

The tiny mice were scampering around the patio floor outside the café, then scurrying back to their nest under the wooden fence.

I listen to it over and over.

As her parents were getting their backpacks out of the trunk of the car, the little girl ran across the pavement and bent down over the spray of golden poppies.

A kiss like smoke flew from his lips.

Why the NO PARKING signs? There was no one working here. It was the fourth of July.

Surface Tension

Soon it will
be Halloween again
and we’ll all
put on our
masks or some
other masks beheading

The man was kissing the other man near the ladder or he was whispering in his ear, or to his ear. On a wall was painted the question “Have you tasted all my flavors?” “All my flavors” was in the same script as “Have you tasted,” just a lot bigger.

On the pavement outside the store a person was lying on her side, asleep, a brown blanket draped over the upper half of her torso.

masked as
would I
come here

If you come across an unconscious person take out your weapon. Fire your weapon.
At a swimming pool, if you come across a girl in a bathing suit, push her to the ground. Throw your back into it. Shove your knee on her back. Take out your weapon.


The young woman in her
sparkly dress, looking out
from the bridge of
a ship or the glassed-in
counter of a café

I heard the mortars again

forbidden to interfere

looks at his timepiece again

time or what?

need help? no no he says, it’s
the same angel

Norma Cole is a poet, painter, and translator. Cole’s books of poetry include Actualities, with artist Marina Adams (2015), Natural Light (2009), Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988-2008 (2009), Spinoza in Her Youth (2002), The Vulgar Tongue (2000), and Desire & Its Double (1998). Her translation works include Danielle Collobert’s Journals (1989), Anne Portugal’s Nude (2001), and Fouad Gabriel Naffah’s The Spirit God and the Properities Of Nitrogen (2004). She has also edited and translated Crosscut Universe: Writing on Writing from France (2000). Cole has received a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, a Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Award, Gertrude Stein Awards, the Robert D. Richardson Non-Fiction Award, and awards from the Fund for Poetry. Born in Toronto, she has lived in San Francisco since 1977.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.