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By Leonard Cohen

 

1. You came to me this morning
And you handled me like meat.
You´d have to live alone to know
How good that feels, how sweet.
My mirror twin, my next of kin,
I´d know you in my sleep.
And who but you would take me in
A thousand kisses deep?

2. I loved you when you opened
Like a lily to the heat.
I´m just another snowman
Standing in the rain and sleet,
Who loved you with his frozen love
His second-hand physique –
With all he is, and all he was
A thousand kisses deep.

3. All soaked in sex, and pressed against
The limits of the sea:
I saw there were no oceans left
For scavengers like me.
We made it to the forward deck
I blessed our remnant fleet –
And then consented to be wrecked
A thousand kisses deep.

4. I know you had to lie to me,
I know you had to cheat.
But the Means no longer guarantee
The Virtue in Deceit.
That truth is bent, that beauty spent,
That style is obsolete –
Ever since the Holy Spirit went
A thousand kisses deep.

5. (So what about this Inner Light
That´s boundless and unique?
I´m slouching through another night
A thousand kisses deep.)

6. I´m turning tricks; I´m getting fixed,
I´m back on Boogie Street.
I tried to quit the business –
Hey, I´m lazy and I´m weak.
But sometimes when the night is slow,
The wretched and the meek,
We gather up our hearts and go
A thousand kisses deep.

7. (And fragrant is the thought of you,
The file on you complete –
Except what we forgot to do
A thousand kisses deep.)

8. The ponies run, the girls are young,
The odds are there to beat.
You win a while, and then it´s done –
Your little winning streak.
And summoned now to deal
With your invincible defeat,
You live your life as if it´s real
A thousand kisses deep.

9. (I jammed with Diz and Dante –
I did not have their sweep –
But once or twice, they let me play
A thousand kisses deep.)

10. And I´m still working with the wine,
Still dancing cheek to cheek.
The band is playing “Auld Lang Syne” –
The heart will not retreat.
And maybe I had miles to drive,
And promises to keep –
You ditch it all to stay alive
A thousand kisses deep.

11. And now you are the Angel Death
And now the Paraclete;
And now you are the Savior’s Breath
And now the Belsen heap.
No turning from the threat of love,
No transcendental leap –
As witnessed here in time and blood
A thousand kisses deep.

September 21, 1998

Belfast Tune by Joseph Brodsky

Here’s a girl from a dangerous town.
She crops her dark hair short
so that less of her has to frown
when someone gets hurt.

She folds her memories like a parachute.
Dropped, she collects the peat
and cooks her veggies at home: they shoot
here where they eat.

Ah, there’s more sky in these parts than, say,
ground. Hence her voice’s pitch,
and her stare stains your retina like a gray
bulb when you switch

hemispheres, and her knee-length quilt
skirt’s cut to catch the squall.
I dream of her either loved or killed
because the town’s to small.

What can I hold you with?
   I offer you lean streets, desperate sunsets, the
      moon of the jagged suburbs.
   I offer you the bitterness of a man who has looked
      long and long at the lonely moon.
   I offer you my ancestors, my dead men, the ghosts
      that living men have honoured in bronze:
      my father’s father killed in the frontier of
      Buenos Aires, two bullets through his lungs,
      bearded and dead, wrapped by his soldiers in
      the hide of a cow; my mother’s grandfather
      –just twentyfour– heading a charge of
      three hundred men in Peru, now ghosts on
      vanished horses.
   I offer you whatever insight my books may hold,
      whatever manliness or humour my life.
   I offer you the loyalty of a man who has never
      been loyal.
   I offer you that kernel of myself that I have saved,
      somehow –the central heart that deals not
      in words, traffics not with dreams, and is
      untouched by time, by joy, by adversities.
   I offer you the memory of a yellow rose seen at
      sunset, years before you were born.
   I offer you explanations of yourself, theories about
      yourself, authentic and surprising news of
      yourself.
   I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the
      hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you
      with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.

It’s dreamy weather we’re on
You waved your crooked wand
Along an icy pond with a frozen moon
A murder of silhouette crows I saw
And the tears on my face
And the skates on the pond
They spell Alice

I disappear in your name
But you must wait for me
Somewhere across the sea
There’s a wreck of a ship
Your hair is like meadow grass on the tide
And the raindrops on my window
And the ice in my drink
Baby all I can think of is Alice

Arithmetic arithmetock
Turn the hands back on the clock
How does the ocean rock the boat?
How did the razor find my throat?
The only strings that hold me here
Are tangled up around the pier

And so a secret kiss
Brings madness with the bliss
And I will think of this
When I’m dead in my grave
Set me adrift and I’m lost over there
And I must be insane
To go skating on your name
And by tracing it twice
I fell through the ice
Of Alice

And so a secret kiss
Brings madness with the bliss
And I will think of this
When I’m dead in my grave
Set me adrift and I’m lost over there
And I must be insane
To go skating on your name
And by tracing it twice
I fell through the ice
Of Alice
There’s only Alice

Two Scavengers In A Truck, Two Beautiful People In A Mercedes
By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

At the stoplight waiting for the light
Nine A.M. downtown San Francisco
a bright garbage truck
with two garbage men in red plastic blazers
standing on the back stoop
one on each side hanging on
and looking down into
an elegant open Mercedes
with an elegant couple in it
The man
In a hip three-piece linen suit
With shoulder-length blond hair & sunglasses
The young blond woman so casually coifed
with a short skirt and colored stocking
On his way to his architect’s office
And the two scavengers up since Four A.M.
Grungy from their route
On the way home
The older of the two with grey iron hair
And hunched back
Looking like some
Gargoyle Quasimodo
And the younger of the two
Also with sunglasses and long hair
About the same age as the Mercedes driver
And both scavengers gazing down
As from a great distance
At the cool couple
As if they were watching some odorless TV ad
In which everything is possible

And the very red light for an instant
Holding all four close together
As if anything at all were possible
Between them
Across that great gulf
In the high seas
Of this democracy

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

I always complain about the lack of potent contemporary writing, as if all the best writing was done a hundred years ago, and I am always so so so happy when someone proves me oh, so wrong.  Haven Veritas is a “Performance Poet, Freelance Writer, Professional Shenanigan-ista” and a facebook friend 🙂  Her “Hearts” Chapbook is available now and you should buy it!!

To order, send $12 via Paypal to info@havenveritas.com or cash/check/money order to:
Haven Veritas
PO Box 105
Warrensburg, MO 64093 

I am blown away by this piece of writing. Enjoy!

(The original formatting refuses to stick on here so to see it with the right spacing, go here.)

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

I drowned in your eyes exactly one week…
before I drowned between your thighs…

You’re every star speckled sunrise I hope to God/dess I live to see.

I’ve learned, love.

The faintest hum of freedom baking warm on a desert’s stretch; you sing in me.

I swear I spoke brown paper bag imagining your heart beat.

You’re the only I bow before in worship depositing sacred prayers through dripping lips while you cry out to your God with shaking exhalation. My name…

is not…

Jesus Christ.

But you smell like Heaven, if Heaven smells like amber drenched wishes and molten promise.

You’re compassion’s best side with a dark chocolate tongue and all I can do is dream of you melting in my mouth.

You’re my greatest comfort’s dirty little secret, so you don’t have to speak…

just moan for me and I’ll understand every word.

That whimper I just heard?

That sliding sound meant, “Blessed be all that is holy, who caused our parents to rock hips so that you could hide your words inside me like a secret.”

See? I’m fluent in you…

fluid over you…

rocking side to side, back to forth.

Palm to sweat slicked heart struggling its way into my hands. Throb for me.

My knee spreads your thighs, a subtle benediction.

My mouth on yours, sacred communion, while wrist deep I nail you to the bed.

Let me breathe stories of the places we’ll go and show you the beautiful world that lives in the back of your head. Show you the real meaning of a craving. I want you deep enough to save my soul; to rock you to sleep.

Feels like I should begin this once upon a time, a long, long time ago. I swear I’ve had you pulsing between my lips before. I’ve drawn your fingers into my mouth and tasted the last time I left earth. You shimmer so brightly through me. I’d live in your shadow as long as it had that same look in your eyes when we’re trading movement for hitched breath recalling our ancestors.

Do they rock with us, gripping rounded hips, tongues tracing palms for our lifelines? Did they know while preparing for their sleep that they would see chest pressing against back, flexed calf and curled toes? Laughter rumbling into nape? Pooling moisture glistening droplets of ecstasy greeting eager lover with open legs and grinning heart? Did anyone tell them that life…

is just a dream?

Your words fall smooth like the slick drip of warmth sauntering down to my ass. You taste like want from 1700 miles away and I’m shattered; a tattered work of art in need of a master painter who knows what faster means…

And more…

And…

NOW…

Tell me a story of the night mathematics shifted,

turning one…

plus one…

into one.

One creature shattering to rebuild …

one mind whose …

one coherent thought is…

HARDER

“Harder” 2009-2010, Haven Veritas. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner or the publisher.

Kristine Adams and I discovered this lovely poem together while on a road trip to LA.  We decided it would be a good one to read on the phone to our friends, but couldn’t get a hold of anyone to read it to as it was a Friday night and our friends apparently have lives.  So, here it is, in loving reproduction.

The Wild Cousin of Potpourri

In the lost and found of my heart, I always find you
attractive, in an edge-of-the-cliff sort of way.

Still you speak of getting your lips pumped up
with collagen, as if they’re tires low on air.

When God was doling out spoonfuls of beauty,
you got more than your share. Blessed with an ass

that makes old men yell out Bingo in the supermarket,
calves that leave marathon runners hunched over

and gasping for air, your nipples poking
from your blouse like the tips of an iceberg

that could sink me. I have to confess, my salacious
little Einstein, sometimes when your head’s

turned, I sneak a peek into your ear, hoping
to snag a glimpse of your medulla oblongata.

Let me fondle your hypothalamus until it gets
wet with thirst, skinny dip in your subconscious,

slow dance with the tornado ripping apart
your psyche, wiggle my tongue inside the hole

where the therapist poured the Krazy Glue
to put your mind back together. Show me

where you keep a man’s breath after taking it away.
Do you stuff it under your mattress, or in the lingerie

drawer, like the wild cousin of potpourri? I’m sick
of making lust with homonyms of you. Let me suckle

your cerebellum. I’ll massage your gray matter
till it glows in the dark, perform brainilingus

till you have acid flashbacks. I won’t solve you
and leave you, or brag to the locker room scholars

about how juicy that vein in your forehead gets
when you multiply big numbers. I don’t want you

just for your quadratic equations. I’ll subtract
the square root of your bosom, from the radius

of our embrace, and conjugate your clitoris
into every verb tense known to humankind.

(((!!GAH!!)))

This one is looooong but oh, so worth it.

Renascence

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I’d started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.
Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small
My breath came short, and scarce at all.
But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I’ll lie
And look my fill into the sky.
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And — sure enough! — I see the top!
The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
I ‘most could touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.
I screamed, and — lo! — Infinity
Came down and settled over me;
Forced back my scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
And, pressing of the Undefined
The definition on my mind,
Held up before my eyes a glass
Through which my shrinking sight did pass
Until it seemed I must behold
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose sound
Deafened the air for worlds around,
And brought unmuffled to my ears
The gossiping of friendly spheres,
The creaking of the tented sky,
The ticking of Eternity.
I saw and heard, and knew at last
The How and Why of all things, past,
And present, and forevermore.
The Universe, cleft to the core,
Lay open to my probing sense
That, sick’ning, I would fain pluck thence
But could not, — nay! But needs must suck
At the great wound, and could not pluck
My lips away till I had drawn
All venom out. — Ah, fearful pawn!
For my omniscience paid I toll
In infinite remorse of soul.
All sin was of my sinning, all
Atoning mine, and mine the gall
Of all regret. Mine was the weight
Of every brooded wrong, the hate
That stood behind each envious thrust,
Mine every greed, mine every lust.
And all the while for every grief,
Each suffering, I craved relief
With individual desire, —
Craved all in vain!  And felt fierce fire
About a thousand people crawl;
Perished with each, — then mourned for all!
A man was starving in Capri;
He moved his eyes and looked at me;
I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,
And knew his hunger as my own.
I saw at sea a great fog bank
Between two ships that struck and sank;
A thousand screams the heavens smote;
And every scream tore through my throat.
No hurt I did not feel, no death
That was not mine; mine each last breath
That, crying, met an answering cry
From the compassion that was I.
All suffering mine, and mine its rod;
Mine, pity like the pity of God.
Ah, awful weight!  Infinity
Pressed down upon the finite Me!
My anguished spirit, like a bird,
Beating against my lips I heard;
Yet lay the weight so close about
There was no room for it without.
And so beneath the weight lay I
And suffered death, but could not die.

Long had I lain thus, craving death,
When quietly the earth beneath
Gave way, and inch by inch, so great
At last had grown the crushing weight,
Into the earth I sank till I
Full six feet under ground did lie,
And sank no more, — there is no weight
Can follow here, however great.
From off my breast I felt it roll,
And as it went my tortured soul
Burst forth and fled in such a gust
That all about me swirled the dust.

Deep in the earth I rested now;
Cool is its hand upon the brow
And soft its breast beneath the head
Of one who is so gladly dead.
And all at once, and over all
The pitying rain began to fall;
I lay and heard each pattering hoof
Upon my lowly, thatched roof,
And seemed to love the sound far more
Than ever I had done before.
For rain it hath a friendly sound
To one who’s six feet underground;
And scarce the friendly voice or face:
A grave is such a quiet place.

The rain, I said, is kind to come
And speak to me in my new home.
I would I were alive again
To kiss the fingers of the rain,
To drink into my eyes the shine
Of every slanting silver line,
To catch the freshened, fragrant breeze
From drenched and dripping apple-trees.
For soon the shower will be done,
And then the broad face of the sun
Will laugh above the rain-soaked earth
Until the world with answering mirth
Shakes joyously, and each round drop
Rolls, twinkling, from its grass-blade top.
How can I bear it; buried here,
While overhead the sky grows clear
And blue again after the storm?
O, multi-colored, multiform,
Beloved beauty over me,
That I shall never, never see
Again!  Spring-silver, autumn-gold,
That I shall never more behold!
Sleeping your myriad magics through,
Close-sepulchred away from you!
O God, I cried, give me new birth,
And put me back upon the earth!
Upset each cloud’s gigantic gourd
And let the heavy rain, down-poured
In one big torrent, set me free,
Washing my grave away from me!

I ceased; and through the breathless hush
That answered me, the far-off rush
Of herald wings came whispering
Like music down the vibrant string
Of my ascending prayer, and — crash!
Before the wild wind’s whistling lash
The startled storm-clouds reared on high
And plunged in terror down the sky,
And the big rain in one black wave
Fell from the sky and struck my grave.
I know not how such things can be;
I only know there came to me
A fragrance such as never clings
To aught save happy living things;
A sound as of some joyous elf
Singing sweet songs to please himself,
And, through and over everything,
A sense of glad awakening.
The grass, a-tiptoe at my ear,
Whispering to me I could hear;
I felt the rain’s cool finger-tips
Brushed tenderly across my lips,
Laid gently on my sealed sight,
And all at once the heavy night
Fell from my eyes and I could see, —
A drenched and dripping apple-tree,
A last long line of silver rain,
A sky grown clear and blue again.
And as I looked a quickening gust
Of wind blew up to me and thrust
Into my face a miracle
Of orchard-breath, and with the smell, —
I know not how such things can be! —
I breathed my soul back into me.
Ah!  Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
About the trees my arms I wound;
Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
I raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the sky,
Till at my throat a strangling sob
Caught fiercely, and a great heart-throb
Sent instant tears into my eyes;
O God, I cried, no dark disguise
Can e’er hereafter hide from me
Thy radiant identity!
Thou canst not move across the grass
But my quick eyes will see Thee pass,
Nor speak, however silently,
But my hushed voice will answer Thee.
I know the path that tells Thy way
Through the cool eve of every day;
God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart!

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, —
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat — the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.

Along the sun-drenched roadside

Along the sun-drenched roadside, from the great
hollow half-tree trunk, which for generations
has been a trough, renewing in itself
an inch or two of rain, I satisfy
my thirst: taking the water’s pristine coolness
into my whole body through my wrists.
Drinking would be too powerful, too clear;
but this unhurried gesture of restraint
fills my whole consciousness with shining water.

Thus, if you came, I could be satisfied
to let my hand rest lightly, for a moment,
lightly, upon your shoulder or your breast.

Put out my eyes

Put out my eyes, and I can see you still,
Slam my ears to, and I can hear you yet;
And without any feet can go to you;
And tongueless, I can conjure you at will.
Break off my arms, I shall take hold of you
And grasp you with my heart as with a hand;
Arrest my heart, my brain will beat as true;
And if you set this brain of mine afire,
Then on my blood-stream I yet will carry you.

Lady at a Mirror

As in sleeping-drink spices
softly she loosens in the liquid-clear
mirror her fatigued demeanor;
and she puts her smile deep inside.

And she waits while the liquid
rises from it; then she pours her hair
into the mirror, and, lifting one
wondrous shoulder from the evening gown,

she drinks quietly from her image. She drinks
what a lover would drink feeling dazed,
searching it, full of mistrust; and she only

beckons to her maid when at the bottom
of her mirror she finds candles, wardrobes,
and the cloudy dregs of a late hour.

Musings

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