Excerpt: Leonard Cohen, Select Poems 1956-1968

He was beautiful when he sat alone, he was like me, he had wide lapels, he was holding the mug in the hardest possible way so that his fingers were all twisted but still long and beautiful, he didn’t like to sit alone all the time, but this time, I swear, he didn’t care on way or the other.

I’ll tell you why I like to sit alone, because I’m a sadist, that’s why we like to sit alone, because we’re the sadists who like to sit alone.

He sat alone because he was beautifully dressed for the occasion and because he was not a civilian.

We are the sadists you don’t have to worry about, you think, and we have no opinion on the matter of whether you have to worry about us, and we don’t even like to think about the matter because it baffles us.

Maybe he doesn’t mean a thing to me any more but I think he was like me.

You didn’t expect to fall in love, I said to myself and at the same time I answered gently, Do you think so?

I heard you humming beautifully, your hum said that I can’t ignore you, that I’d finally come around for a number of delicious reasons that only you knew about, and here I am, Miss Blood.

And you won’t come back, you won’t come back to where you left me, and that’s why you keep my number, so you don’t dial it by mistake when you’re fooling with the dial not even dialing numbers.

You begin to bore us with your pain and we have decided to change your pain. You said you were happiest when you danced, you said you were happiest when you danced with me, now which do you mean?

And so we changed his pain, we threw the idea of a body at him and we told him a joke, and then he thought a great deal about laughing and about the code.

And he thought that she thought that he thought that she thought the worst thing a woman could do was to take a man away from his work because that made her what, ugly or beautiful?

And now you’ve entered the mathematical section of your soul which you claimed you never had. I suppose that this, plus the broken heart, makes you believe that now you have a perfect right to go out and tame the sadists.

He had the last line of each verse of the song but he didn’t have any of the other lines, the last line was always the same, Don’t call yourself a secret unless you mean to keep it.

He thought he knew, or he actually did know too much about singing to be a singer; and if there is actually such a condition, is anybody in it, and are sadists born there?

It is not a question mark, it is not an exclamation point, it is a full stop by the man who wrote Parasites of Heaven. Even if we stated our case very clearly and all those who held as we do came to our side, all of them, we would still be very few. 

N.p.: The Viking Press, n.d. Print.

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This blog is a shamelessly random collection of cool things, rants and nonsense. View all posts by the anti-laugh

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