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Poetry

Poem

1. Dad, Don’t Be That Guy

2. Dad, Quoting the Wikipedia Isn’t Gospel

3. Dad, I’m Going to Take Those Away

4. Dad, I Warned You

Old Ideas


The first poem in Leonard Cohen’s posthumous book The Flame made me laugh. Not because the lyrics are especially funny (although there are touches of Cohen’s characteristic wry humor), and not because the poem is foolish (it’s quite good), but because it is practically a medley of every single theme and obsession Cohen took up over his sixty-year career. Holiness and pussies are just a start. One almost senses him (knowingly, always knowingly) ticking off boxes. Angels and devils: check. Art, sartorial elegance, and slaves: check, check, check. Messianism: check:


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Cleaning

Sorting through the chest’s junk, I happened
on this picture of him, a stranger I lived with 
month-to-month while I looked for something

The Mattress

No car to drive to the dump and too embarrassed 
to borrow one, you scrape the black mold 
off the underside as best you can, muscle it 
onto your shoulder. Spores multiplied to the size 

Pride

After pulling a score from the dumpster 
behind Krogers I stroll through 
sliding doors with egg-caked hands. 
The greeter greets me as I pass. I scan 
the aisles like a surgeon studying the mint

Arch of Hysteria

I want my web to hold. I want to repair
what I have made. I was not given the gold hive.
In me seethes the silk of invisible worlds. Spinning
my body inside of hairline emptiness, I project

Ars Poetica

In the evenings, we watched Jeopardy
Wore surgical masks once she got sick.
Before that my mother sent me to the store
for cigarettes all the time. Pack of Salem Lights.

Belief

I’d come into the room & try to write
a different ending on those anonymous walls. 
There was less time all the time
until time changed. You know what I mean. 

Certified

We had to present proof for everything:  
My mother was born 
August 31, 1954. On that day 
inside the womb of a minute 
she burst from another woman’s life, 

Seeing the Body

She died & I—
In the spring of her blood. I remember
my mother’s first injury. The surprise of unborn
petals curling light, red, around her wrist.

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