January 11, 2008

the dove is never free


Leonard Cohen, Dear Heather

Poems by Leonard Cohen

If there were no paintings

If there were no paintings in the world,
Mine would be very important.
Same with my songs.
Since this is not the case, let us make haste to get in line,
Well towards the back.
Sometimes I would see a woman in a magazine
Humiliated in the technicolour glare.
I would try to establish her
In happier circumstances.
Sometimes a man.
Sometimes living persons sat for me.
May I say to them again:
Thank you for coming to my room.
I also loved the objects on the table
Such as candlesticks and bowls.
From a mirror on my desk
In the very early morning
I copied down
Hundreds of self-portraits.
The Curator has called this exhibition
Drawn to Words.
I call my work
Acceptable Decorations.

The Pro 1973

Lost my voice in New York City
never heard it again after sixty-seven
Now I talk like you
Now I sing like you
Cigarette and coffee to make me sick
Couple of families to make me think
Going to see my lawyer
Going to read my mail
Lost my voice in New York City
Guess you always knew


The Pro

from the Nashville notebooks, 1969

I leave my silence to a co-operative of poets
who have already bruised their mouths against it.
I leave my homesick charm to the scavengers of
spare change who work the old artistic corners.
I leave the shadow of my manly groin to those who
write for pay.
I leave to several jealous men a second-rate legend
of my life.
To those few high school girls
who preferred my work to Dylan's
I leave my stone ear
and my disposable Franciscan ambitions


Poem 17

I perceived the outline of your breasts
through your Hallowe'en costume
I knew you were falling in love with me
because no other man could perceive
the advance of your bosom into his imagination
It was a rupture of your unusual modesty
for me and me alone
through which you impressed upon my shapeless hunger
the incomparable and final outline of your breasts
like two deep fossil shells
which remained all night long and probably forever


Poem 111

Each man
has a way to betray
the revolution
This is mine

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