The Problem with Chivalry

By Alan Cohen

PROMPT — If only ...

There are more scars on my heart inflicted by women

Than there are days in the year

It is better not to love them


Helplessly vulnerable throughout my youth

I obsessively bloodied myself

Upon the pitiless rock of beauty


Now from the vantage of my happy marriage

I look back on each such trauma

And wince again with phantom pain


My heart deformed by my abject acquiescence

In the repeated violation of my humanity

By rapacious, proud, clueless, and predatory young women


At the time they all looked to me like angels

But I realize now

They were ordinary females


To whom I had ceded too much power

They walked on me like a floor

Put out their cigarettes on me as in an ashtray


I was nearly broken

The person I was never recovered

Though the person I am rose from the ashes


And sees women without illusions

Without desire or animosity

As just another part of the landscape


One possible category of partner in life and procreation

A being distinct and unpredictable

For better or worse

Alan Cohen was a poet before beginning his career as a Primary Care MD, teacher, and manager. He has been living a full and varied life. Alan has been writing poems for 60 years and is beginning now to share some of his discoveries. He has been married to Anita for 41 years. They have lived in Eugene, Oregon for the past 11.