Daily Archives: January 15, 2018

The Leonard Cohen Poem

When I lose myself
in sleep while writing
I will sometimes
find upon waking one odd line
in an otherwise perfectly
coherent paragraph or stanza.

I call those the cracks
where the light leaks in,
a concept I admit I borrowed
from that Canadian poet
I never liked, the one
I feel guilty for not liking, the one
everyone loved right up
until he died and then
they loved him even more. Anyway,

upon waking I’ll sometimes find
a single line, a crack full of light
in the middle of work I’d finished
in a fever, trying to get my point across
before darkness fell, and I’ll look at it
and scratch my head and chin
and try to decide if the light’s
from a window or a fire, and if

it’s from a window I then decide
if I should close it and keep that light
out of this poem, then decide if I should see
if the line belongs to another poem
and go to the room where that one lives
and make the line comfortable there instead;

and if it is from a fire I then decide
if I must extinguish it, bask
in its warmth and try to contain it
within this poem, or use it to burn
the whole poem down so I can sift its ashes
for something on which to build anew
that starts with that line as a cornerstone.

Whatever I do, before deciding
I stare at the crack and the light inside
and the older I get the more I feel
like a baffled king composing, one who knows
not everyone will love what I do
or how I rule, but the light’s still there
and the line’s been let in, and
regardless of what I do with that line
it’s holding me hostage until I choose.

Someday I too will die, and some
will remember me fondly and some 
will shrug me off and say
I never made much sense to them
in the first place, the way I feel

about that croaking Canadian
who I must admit had some 
damn good lines that made me
sit up now and then and put
my distaste on hold and say
Hallelujah, that light’s
indeed glorious.


All Comfort Is Promised

All comfort is always promised
to the boy with the broken mouth
who himself was fractured in the street
by shadowy thugs in service to the rule
of order imposed in place of righteousness.

All comfort is always promised
to the girl coerced, the woman coerced, to those
cajoled and coaxed, captured and crushed
by some masked in privilege and others
who simply took what they wanted and left behind 
whatever they did not.

All comfort is always promised
to those displaced now housed
far from home, to those
who’ve made the best of it and those
who’ve made nothing from it,
all of whom nevertheless dream
the same homegoing dream every night.

All comfort is promised
in every book of every scripture
to every one of these oppressed and violated,
every one of those seeking refuge
from acts driven in some cases
by the double dealing tongues of those
who hold those same scriptures up
to ward off the guilt of having led us all here —

when willl it begin?  When will the night be 
safe, the coerced free to walk away,
the unhomed free to rehome themselves?
When will the last violation be redressed? 
When will promises be kept at last? 
When will 
all this promised comfort 
descend like a blanket
upon all who need it,

and when will we
have learned enough ourseves
not to question
anyone who in fact
truly needs it when they ask?