Miriam Kotzin

Riddle 1

What's Left?

I have no ears, which leaves me deaf.
It's just as well I do not hear
the squeaking wheels, a distant bier,
the placement of a final clef.
I cannot feel; I've lost all fear,
for nothing's worse than what is here.

I have no eyes, which leaves me blind.
It's just as well I do not see
the darkness that envelops me.
What is here that I might find?
I'm absolute; I've no degree--
all that's now is what will be.

I have no tongue, which leaves me dumb.
it's just as well I do not speak
to spill the secrets of the meek;
I'll keep my counsel, keeping mum,
a mark of my last losing streak.
You'll end like me; I'm not unique.

Riddle 2


Sometimes I'm big and sometimes small.
Sometimes I donít exist at all,
And yet you keep me in a box.
I might emerge when someone knocks.
Where will you go? I'll go with you!
And when you leave, I'll say adieu.

Sometimes I'm soft and sometimes loud,
And you may lose me in a crowd.
When you are calm, I am serene.
I'm often heard, but never seen.
Where will you go? I'll go with you!
The door is locked, but I'll go through.

Sometimes I'm cruel and sometimes kind;
I'm what a writer wants to find.
I'll tell the world just what you feel.
I have no substance, but I'm real,
And though I break, I will stay whole.
I can bedevil or consoleó
And when you die, I'm silenced too.
Where you will go? I'll go with you!

Riddle 3

I'm kissing cousin to the wind,
And all my ins and outs are twinned.
Though you will go too fast too far,
You can still catch me where you are.
Where will I be? Did you suppose
You'd find me right beneath your nose?

Though sometimes shallow, sometimes deep,
I'm with you, even, while you sleep.
Desperate souls may make me ceaseó
A vain attempt to find some peace.
I'll quit just once, and when I leave,
Though others mourn, you shall not grieve.

Riddle 4

I travel faróbut need no ride
Nor any paper map for guide;
No ship can follow where I sail.
I build my house, but use no nail.

I sound alarms no bell will ring.
I pipe clear tunes no man will sing.
I'm often seen, more often heardó
My songs enchant without a word.

Riddle 5

In summer cold, in winter warm,
I am unlikely to reform.
I have a mouth, but do not speak
Except to answer shout or shriek.
At my best I'm dark and deep:
My tears are stoneóand yet I weep.

Riddle 6

I am no model, yet I pose.
What I first hide I will disclose.
I slither forward like a snake;
You mark each crooked turn I take.

I coil into a wicked knot
To set a snare in which you're caught.
My inside out, I shed my skin.
I puzzle you in cryptic spin.

You search each shimmy for a clue;
You plead for many. I give few,
But at the end, I'll circle round,
For that is where the answer's found.

Riddle 1 Skull
Riddle 2 Voice
Riddle 3 Breath
Riddle 4 Bird
Riddle 5 Cave
Riddle 6 Riddle

Copyright © 2013 Miriam Kotzin


Miriam N. Kotzin is Professor of English at Drexel University where she teaches literature and creative writing. She is a founding editor of Per Contra, as well as a contributing editor of Boulevard. Her most recent collection of poetry is The Body's Bride (David Robert Books, 2013), which joins Taking Stock (Star Cloud 2011), Weights & Measures (Star Cloud Press 2009), Reclaiming the Dead (New American Press 2008), and a collection of flash fiction, Just Desserts (Star Cloud Press 2010). Her debut novel, The Real Deal was published by BrickHouse Books in 2012. Her fiction and poetry have been published in or are forthcoming in Shenandoah, Boulevard, The Flea, Eclectica, Of(f)course, Smokelong Quarterly, and The Tower Journal.