Thursday, July 26

Day 206 — The Only Poem

[for Wednesday, July 25]

the only poem — july 25

My vacation from the internet earlier today (Wednesday) was actually quite nice. Granted, I was practically under house arrest while I waited for the landlord to call me back, but it was still a very quiet, contemplative morning and afternoon. I fetched Stranger Music from the bookshelf and reacquainted myself with the world of blank verse. It's a scary world, actually. But one I very much enjoy.

The words, if you're inclined to care about such things:

The only poem

This is the only poem
I can read
I am the only one
can write it
I didn't kill myself
when things went wrong
I didn't turn
to drugs or teaching
I tried to sleep
but when I couldn't sleep
I learned to write
I learned to write
what might be read
on nights like this
by one like me

It's not Sappho or Chaucer, but it is ... something. I can't quite place how I feel about Leonard Cohen. There are some of his poems that just give me a quick punch to the gut and make me sit down and smile. There are others that piss me off; "Is this it? This is shit!" But I get that. Not every poem a person writes is going to mean something to any- and everyone. Some things people write are meaningful only to the authors themselves, and perhaps to the select few people on the planet who happen to be in a similar situation. The hedged language makes sense. The metaphors aren't over-wrought. Etc.

So it goes with Cohen. His poetry is very specific, yet comes bundled with meanings that can be extrapolated again and again. I'm not sure I can explain it much better than that.

Funny that the other day as I was digging through my inbox, trying to discard the extraneous stuff, I found several poems I'd written that I'd sort of forgotten about. Here's one I actually kind of like, from mid-2006:


I had you at nothing
No words
A flash of leg, perhaps
I remember laughing
But I knew what I was doing
Priming the pump
so to speak
A pump that was not mine
and that I did not want
at the time
because I was busy
my hands in a trough

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Blogger fearlessvk said...

curiously, my old roommate in berkeley had this exact poem taped to the wall right above her bed - she adored it, it was her favorite poem in the world.

i've never really sat down and read much leonard cohen on the page, but i looooooove his music. (there's a lot of crap in there too, but you can't go wrong with a greatest hits collection) i am convinced that "hey that's no way to say goodbye" is hands down the SADDEST song EVER. which is a huge compliment coming from me; it's absolutely exquisite, and there have been times when i've just listened to it for hours on endless repeat. this couplet in particular absolutely kills me:

walk me to corner
our steps will always rhyme


Thu Jul 26, 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger theogeo said...

That's awesome about your roommate!

I really do need to check out some of LC's music. "Our steps will always rhyme" — seems like I've seen that somewhere. Maybe your MySpace page or something. Very nice. :)

Fri Jul 27, 01:45:00 AM  

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