The Words

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I don’t have the words
to describe how he saved me; how many times he
untied me, his voice cradling me, his
words raising me to a place where I could see the
raised, grey veins feeding the leaves, the
infinite gaps between the atoms, the
perfection of profanity, the
surprised depth of my tenacity, the
secret sinews that stretched for me,
the verdigris beauty
of our cracked
humanity;

I don’t have the words
to say what he was to me.
If he crept inside my head, he
could write my truth for me.

He, and only he
whose honest bricks were
shaped from human frailty and faults;
from love and hate and pain and ecstasy,
from hope and desperation, and finally, from peace,
who showed us places we could almost reach,
who raised his turgid alter high
and humbly gifted it to us.

I don’t claim exclusivity,
my keening sigh is echoed
by a million souls with feeling,
but when he ceased breathing,
I wept for unsung songs
that were destined to be digested and dispersed
in the dank earth by cemetery worms,
and while I believe he was ready

we weren’t.

.

Dedicated, with friendship and gratitude to Ivor, who, in conjunction with Leonard Cohen, inspired this poem.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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17 thoughts on “The Words

    1. Thank you, Sumyanna. Listening to Leonard’s songs for over two-thirds of my life(sometimes exclusively, for months on end) has given me a poetic advantage. I hope I’ve used it well.
      Thinking about him gives me clarity.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 It’s down to Leonard’s influence. Always, when I write something good, he has a hand in it. It was he who taught me. Many times in my life I have gone for months on end listening to nobody but Leonard.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “…I wept for unsung songs
    that were destined to be digested and dispersed
    in the dank earth by cemetery worms,
    and while I believe he was ready

    we weren’t.”

    That is so beautiful, Jane. I’m so sad that I didn’t discover him till Plato pointed me in that direction two years ago. He was just so cool.

    Like

    1. He was. He spoke to me in a way nobody else could ever do. With his last album he proved that he still had more in him…
      I’m pleased that you picked out the closing stanza, and hope the poem does justice to that truly great man.

      Liked by 1 person

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