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Seating Arrangement

November 12, 2010

by Cathryn Cofell

We come into the arena from behind
to a crescent moon of folding chairs,
numbered on each back like runners.
It’s a scene we’ve entered a hundred
times before, organized first by tier,

then section, then row. But this is not that place. The seats fit no logical flow, two 5s side by side, a zig zag of 7s, some numbers coupled with letters like I1 or E53C. But not all. This makes no sense at all until that moon slides behind a cloud and I see it’s no longer an arena, we’re in a holding pen jambled with huffing gray stallions, haunches slick with panic. These ponies aren’t supposed to be broken but I know that won’t stop you from trying, already bringing out the bridles in your mind, herding the docile in consecutive order, the wild ones sent to the rack or the slaughter. This is the way the world works best, even if some of us are pulled apart, left with no place to sit.


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Cathryn Cofell has made most of her limited fortune in the non-profit sector and is a sucker for a good cause, meaning she’s easy prey for a needy arts, social justice or mental health organization (no phone calls, please). Her latest project is a collaborative CD called Lip that combines her poetry with the music of Obvious Dog. Her fifth and latest book is titled Kamikaze Commotion, also a fitting descriptor for her poetic style, personality and parenting prowess. You’ll find the poetry in places like MARGIE, Oranges & Sardines and NY Quarterly, but you’ll have to travel to Appleton, Wisconsin for a look at the latter two, or visit cathryncofell.com for a glimpse.

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