Friday, July 19, 2013

Featured Writer, July 2013, Leonard Cohen

The following passages are poetry excerpts from Leonard Cohen's Book "The Energy Of Slaves" published in 1972. Excellent Read! To understand some of these writings, it is helpful to peer into his life at the time of publication...climbing the ladder of commercial success with his music, questioning the validity of the music industry, questioning his own place within that business, questioning the onslaught of friends, fame and fortune, (the latter two which he despised in many ways) and becoming a new father when domestic life was certainly a suffocation for him.
To top his emotional state, he toured heavily throughout Europe and North America, fuelled by Mandrax and LSD. He also felt that his recorded work should remain only in recordings, and initially only toured at the behest of his record label. Leonard, at one time believed that replaying the music in a live format turned the songs into a mere commercialized effort, thus betraying the purity of his songs.
That said, Cohen has secured legions of devotees, especially in Europe, and has ever been filled with gratitude for his audiences. He has even taken his touring into mental hospitals, as to connect with all facets of society, especially those who had minimal privilege.
From the 1970s era was distilled "The Energy of Slaves", he himself feeling like a slave to the music industry, and others, slaves to money, power and fame.
Leonard is a true artist; honest, eloquent, often brutally frank and deeply concerned about the integrity of his life's work. 
Thank you, Mr. Cohen!

*most of the poems in the book were left untitled, and as such, I have simply inserted the word "poem" to divide the writings

    *I have searched in vain for this book, and only a borrowed copy was afforded me. I do believe it is out of print. I strongly encourage readers however, to purchase books whenever possible, whether digital or print, and support their creators!


I know there's no such thing
as hell or heaven
I know it's 1967
but are you sleeping have you slept
with any of my friends
It's not just something I want to know
it's the only thing I want to know
not about the mystery of God
not about myself
and am I the beautiful one
The only wisdom I want to have
is to know if I am
or if I am not alone in your love

I left a woman waiting
I met her sometime later
she said, Your eyes are dead
What happened to you, lover
And since she spoke the truth to me
I tried to answer truly
Whatever happened to my eyes
happened to your beauty
O go to sleep my faithful wife
I told her rather cruelly
Whatever happened to my eyes
Happened to your beauty

I walk through the old yellow sunlight
to get to my kitchen table
the poem about me
lying there with the books
in which I am listed
among the dead and future Dylans
You can understand
I am in no hurry to make the passage
The sunlight is old and yellow
a flood of what I laboured
to distill a tiny drop of
in that shabby little laboratory
called my talent
I stand here dreaming in my sweat
(you would fall in love with me again)
dreaming of a tie a shirt
a white suit a life
a new life in a warm city
far from the envious practice
of written speech
O look what the summer
has done to the daisies in my yard
Their skeletons must look like scrap and junk
to many lovers of the cabbage
(and to be perfectly fair
even to many lovers of the daisy)

You are almost always with someone else
I'm going to burn down your house
and fuck you in the ass
If you have the presence of mind
to look over your shoulder
you'll see me swooning
Why don't you come over to my table
with no pants on
I'm sick of surprising you.

ISBN Hardback 0 224 00787 4
Paperback 0 224 00817 X

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Three Beautiful Losers

How could I forgive him? You steam and foam at the mouth, Mother, as you spit the ultimate question. What single saintly act was so profound as to erase one thousand other acts that when patched together form the picture of your permanent sorrow? And how could I forgive him for making me merely one more piece in his plan against you? I was a throwaway pawn, I’d known that all along; the last child to leave you for him. Ironically, he was also my pawn in the game…the strategy that was supposed to set me free and put you in check; at least I tried. 

“Get him out of here!” you cry. He’s dead and gone! Don’t resurrect him now!”

    You’d waited decades for his glorious passing. Did your sorrow go up in the smoke of his cremation, as you so hoped? Did your air get a little cleaner when he stopped breathing it? How could I forgive him? He stomped on our hearts and stole our future. How could I forgive you? You took every ounce of his pain and passed it around; it was too much for one person to choke down. How could I forgive myself? I spent decades drinking the both of you out of my vision, kicking my liver and my brain like it was their fault. My children hide. My wife cries. The beagle has taken up residence under the television stand. 

Now, Mother, all three of us stand over this cesspool of tears, three beautiful losers, throwing stones into it, distorting our own reflections

           Why should I take the lead now in cleaning the mess? Tell me, Mother, why?

Now we’re standing at this murky pond of the past:

           “Been awhile, hasn’t it, Kay?” He grins like a guilty schoolboy.

            You look away in determined silence, tapping one foot, furious that I’d dragged you both together. He looks right at you, knowing that his eyes are burning right through you. He becomes Charlie Chaplin and trips over himself for your bitter amusement, falling to his knees:

     “Oh, my darling Kay, why have you run away?” Da-da-dum-da-dum-dee-dum

     You turn and offer derisive applause, with renewed conviction that this clown is to blame for your every tear, your every twitch. 
       He grabs you by a leg while he’s down on bended Chaplin knee and pulls you into the pool of tears, dragging you deep. You kick and scream and struggle for air. He’s not letting go. He didn’t go up in a puff of smoke after all. The crazed killer of dreams has come to call from depths unknown. Your eyes leap from their sockets. Your extra hold hair floats away from your head like thousands of desperate fingers clawing at the surface. Your cakeup floats away from your face, clouding any possible escape. Your heart begins to beat again. 

“I knew it!” you cry as you feel the bottom with your feet; I knew it: words for your final exit. You gave half of every day to knowing he’d return to take you down, force you to taste that first drunken smack again. You didn’t know when, you didn’t know how, but you knew it to be true. What you didn’t know was that he was always in your shadow; you yourself invited him. I stand on the muddy shore and allow the crime. I brought you here; this was part of my plan, for both of our sakes.

           Dad often discussed the state of affairs between the two of you:
          “Jay, it’s been over thirty years. She said she was only going out for milk and bread. Do you think she’s coming back? I was thinking of dating again, but I want to be sure.” 

            I’d roar with laughter while he did a drum roll in mid air, beaming with his inimitable goofy grin. 

           Perhaps I should be a little harder on the guy; his comedy only had merit in the moments long after the dreams he’d broken were swept away and all but forgotten; long after the blood had dried and the dust had settled on yesterday, covering it in a blanket, putting it to sleep so that we could peek in on it from time to time without fear.

            But Mother, Dear Mother, you wear yesterday like a slave’s collar! The weight of it chokes you and pulls you closer to the dust from which you came and to which we all return. There is precious little time now, Mother. Tear it from your neck! Toss it into the pond and let it sink and be seen no more! Make a break from the chain gang and run to the hills! Let time forgive you, as it has me, for tossing it to the wind and assuming it would always be there while we played blame games and hung our loathing like a dream catcher, becoming tangled alas in our own nets.