My poet, my prize, thank you, especially for this tune that has somehow gotten me through the pain of heartbreak and beauty.
Gone from view, vacant stares through empty glass
where boxed orchids now hold your station
by the rise of not enough occasion
and too many glances past.
I once held your gaze through the reflected glare,
the sun obscuring encircled simmering eyes
unrelenting in the search, seeking surmise
somehow, and now your portrait still
replaced ironically in nature’s pride
perched on sills
out where you refused to shine.
Free of the fabric of culture
Bare before the truth
Bereft of reason
Alone in the dark
Stripped of sense
a nude silhouette
unclothed of any pretenses
raw meat undressed
Today Leonard Cohen is 81 years old. Any lover of poetry and song has to acknowledge his influence if not his overwhelming charm, intellect and insight, aside from his stamina. The man endures but his words linger. Almost every occasion recalls a Leonard Cohen lyric to me.
I first heard of him in story, reading about Joni Mitchell’s love life when I was everything Joni as a young teen. Legend has it that they were lovers, his appearance cited in ‘A Case of You’ (“Just before our love got lost you said, ‘I am as constant as a northern star,’ and I said, ‘Constantly in the darkness. Where’s that at. If you want me I’ll be in the bar.'”)
I had never heard his music, which I would not have understood or liked back then anyhow. I much later came upon his name when I heard one of his songs sung by Rufus Wainwright in the movie Shrek, not knowing it was his song. The lyrics moved me so at the time, a time of longing for me for some unknown missing piece I could not identify, could not silence the wind whistling through its gap.
Since then, I got to see him in concert at a lovely venue in Los Angeles with a long-time fan (and beloved), who opened my eyes to the man whose music I had heard and lyrics I had known most of my life. It was like coming home to witness this stylized crooner-sidechick act, the beat poet gone show-time while the words rang and rang and rang. His poetry attracted me like a siren with a bad smoking habit; I love the gruffness in his swagger and throat.
Happy birthday, Mr. Cohen. You know you’re immortal when….
there are 60 versions of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’ Ranked. I still like number 3 the best, Wainwright’s version.
Some might call you a rapist. I know you thought yourself one long ago, but funny how that doesn’t matter now. You were an enrapturing Minotaur, as graceless in body and limb as you were fluid in serum tongue, like mercury measuring my heat.
I was an older child (who looked like you), as you were too in retrospect, only much older than I though not so today. You merely sketch the outline of adult now in your busy importance.
Back then, you taught me heavenly hurt love, called me Lady, read me the mythological scenes of poetry penned just for me, the words mere song seeping into my uncomprehending color-less imagery. It might have been Frost or some other celebrated required reading poet; I know not now and memory is a poor substitute for imagination, but I knew there was magic and I was enchanted–lying on your cot, head cradled in the tee of your forearm and elbow, both of us facing the opened pages held fast above our upturned eyes and the Beatles Rubber Soul album playing “Norwegian Wood” softly below the bass hum of your words.
Staring at the mind-image that was you while in my basement bedroom reverie, I later wrote you letters of teenage wonder and blossoming wander lust and…just lust. Truth is, we were narcissistic flings, a trip into fantasy backpack floats through alpine crests of European mists, of narrow cobblestoned canals and sweet Portuguese Porto, a tent, a station, a kiss, a forest fuck, all for the flavor of black and white romance in tender hearts of sweet meats and fleshly oats of breakfast cereal dreams.