Ira Cohen
Angkor 2003, First Trip

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Angkor Wat

Two Apsaras

Two Gods at Entrance to Angkor Thom

One of 54 Gods at Angkor Thom Entrance

Bayon (view from doorway)

Carving at Leper King Terrace

Girl with Headless Torso

Elephant Terrace

Bayon (one of 54 towers)

Bayon (one of 54 towers)


Detail of Wall on Praying Bodhisattva


Close-Up of Bodhisattva in Bliss

Portrait of Ira Cohen
by Marina van der Heijden

Radiant Transmission

I awake in the middle of the
in Room #3 at the October Gallery
thinking of Radiant Transmission
& the tears of Avalokiteshvara
The flowing water of inspiration
is signified by the unknown artist
whose leaves brush the window
of sleep uniting mercury & cinnabar
I sit in my skeleton palace
wondering about what it takes
to make one drop of rain to fall,
how even backlighting will
not bring on the new morning
before its time. The alarm clock
will not ring when the leaves fall

                       October 15, 2003


Waiting for a Jumpseat

Concorde makes its final flight
Is it really the end of the
Supersonic era?
Tonight Marina & I hope
to make the plane for Bangkok
enroute to Phnom Penh
The European Union meets
to plan the reconstruction of Iraq
It is reality they are painting,
not their dreams.
A fly drowns in syrup
& everything is disposable
Forget the new & celebrate
                                 the old.

                       October 24, 2003


Taking Off

Black clouds over Amsterdam
as we start again for the Bangkok
standby at Schiphol
bound for Cambodia
These are not Baudelairean clouds
& the far away is right inside me
like Van Gogh’s cypresses or the
kindred spirit in my heart’s ravine,
the bare shouldered child
or old woman squatting in front
of a massive stone head sleeping
a dreamless sleep.
Flying over Thailand Marina
speaks of a place where people
describe their lives as “listening
to the rice grow.”

                       October 25/26, 2003



Today Angkor in Apsarian dream,
then Bayon, Baphvon, Elephant
& Ta Prohm. So much sky power.
Now children’s orchestra guided by
sings while I await a coffee &
Marina who is still investigating
a labyrinth past the banyan trees.
Whenever I shoot a headless torso
I think of you, my last love,
my first thought in the hereafter.
What to do except wait for you?
Here you come all dressed in black
Black calls to black!
Bring the elephant back.
The blind masseur gives the best
Blind musicians,
legless drummers,
they have a radiance
which makes Angkor
a living Temple.


Out of ruthlessness
they understand
that giving
takes two hands
& that the Why
goes straight up.

                         Ta Prohm
                         November 1st, 2003

Everything undulates to the rhythm
of the Apsaras in Tropical Atlantis

Walking between the waves
the Apsaras carry their more
than Mona Lisa smiles like petals
carved in stone to kiss the King’s
of a skyborne kingdom,
the redemption of crocodile crimes
against nature, the burial alive
of a grandfather’s hope in the
Killing Fields.


Nov. 3, 2003

We wake at 6 A.M. & leave at seven for
The Grand Circuit... ending at Preah
Orange clad monks pop out of van as
we listen to chickens pukking in the Khmer
outdoor café. An occasional toké or
big lizard can be heard making the sound
of its name— Marina says be careful
not to let one fall on your head, otherwise
suction cups will require removal by
doctor. Leaves are falling from kapok
trees as we rest after exploring God’s
houses on the edge of the jungle. The
lips of Jayavarman married to the
Buddha hang over our consciousness
adding splendor to our day, something
which will never go away. We’ll all
have to reconquer our own kingdoms
if we want to transcend our limits.
In Gecko Paradise every person has
their own hammock.
How the black butterfly
loves the orange flower
Under the palm branch
an arcade of perfect light.
I am happy to be dreamt by you.
An old man climbs to an ancient temple.
A wild wig crowns the day.


Nov. 5, 2003

“Even at times of great pilgrimages
we may be left to pass our nights in solitude”

(Pierre Loti, A Pilgrimage to Angkor)

You always wake me
to tell me I need to go to sleep
You must know that what I say
to you in the dark is always true
whereas what I speak in daylight
may more than likely be suspect
or at least flawed by a day
without shadow
Both are given to flickering on
or off.
Just as horizontal conversation
makes light of what cannot be
revealed face to face
It is time to sleep now,
please don’t fret
One way or another I am trying
to tell you something you already


Nov. 6, 2003

                          ON WAKING
                       (A Dream Come True)

If Sabu came crashing
through the coconut palms
on his elephant to tell me
this was all a dream
I would not believe him.

One cobra jewel gleaming
before the moon grows full,
just to have that experience
the night before I say Goodbye
to Cambodia, completes
my journey. It was no figment
after all—
this frenesi.