I Did Not Want It Darker
(On the death of Leonard Cohen 2016)
When your song first idled in my head,
like something matured in careful words.
I was a student in my teens – exiled – un-said,
with no road for my drowning voice.
Your songs sang out of the influence of poems,
like a threading railway, forged in ruin –
rolling out your passion in Spanish chords
and the black brute of honest dread.
Lorca found his voice stifled by blood –
He, the designated hero of your noble campaign.
It was a blend of the stations of devotion and reason,
and all that lingers in songs and rooms.
You threw your baggage out onto the pavement –
into the anonymity of my least-walked streets.
And that day I saw a founding step –
a revolution, intertwining words and thoughts.
You sang above the abandon of amorous poets,
who closed their lips and proceeded to go blind.
While you, with your Kestrel eye
ranged the glories they vowed to overlook.
The implicit technicalities of love and being
were flicked away and left behind,
as they talked themselves naked, with the spoken word,
immersed in the self-sabotage of liberty’s dissent.
You elevated your poems on the wings of chords,
so a wider audience might comprehend
not only the unfathomed void of a broken heart
but the subtle things you had to sing to mend.
And they were each caught then, by the siren voice,
as all we disheartened sailors were.
And all soon fevered with a charming blend
of patience, love and rapturous doom.
It was the poems though, that spoke to my longing,
from the grey cities of smoke and gold –
out of an avalanche of hidden critics
who discussed your darkness in curtained rooms.
And with an inability to hear without eyes,
they made their own dark song to sing.
It rang in the certainty of eventual prose,
walking through pages of worn-out words.
In time, eased by the celibacy of your charm,
they smoothed themselves with forgiveness and love.
They found a shoe that fit better as a glove –
thus perceiving the so-called ‘Godfather of Gloom’.
It was a dagger through your triumphant heart –
a tenderly savage paper dart –
but washed off – like the crayons they used
to eventually scribble a favourable report.
Your poetry spoke into the mind and the heart –
and always with music, as it lent itself to you.
Always with a resonating chord or two,
strummed by a lost soul, reaching out.
If only for those troubling minor chords
that leave the soul vibrating on
with increased emotion and subdued doubt –
an attempt to set a few words free –
an attempt to capture truth, and smooth it out.
To push the sky beyond a pilgrim’s thoughts.
To stop the clock and make it wait –
to instigate – to celebrate –
those same words in perhaps a less apparent state.
Words we would never really need to own,
or reveal the joke inside their frown.
Or think of as correct, or right –
but simply called upon in the delicate night.
Such words once said, need never be recalled,
they move their meaning, where other’s take flight.
For they have already snapped their core, like flares –
and bathed us in a blesséd light.
(On the Death of Leonard Cohen 2016)
I saw my son between Leonards –
the living and the darker one.
My son gave me a recording
of Leonard’s latest song.
He sang about leaving the table,
he sang himself out of the game.
He said if we want it darker,
he would extinguish the flame.
This was the light that lit my decades –
the light where perception first shone.
By the time I saw my son again
Leonard’s light was gone.
This could be the darkness
written in your soul.
An elemental darkness,
without the element of control.
It’s been murder in the city –
there’s plague now, at the beach.
The only goal we truly have
disappoints the reach.
But there’s a crazy road to nowhere,
that branches from your heart.
And it’s a long, long way to get there –
better make a start.
Peter Hague has written and studied poetry for most of his life and apart from being published in magazines like ‘The Interpreter’s House’ he is now posting some of his work on Twitter. Two books of collected work are in production now and are expected in the coming weeks. He is also working on a new website, dedicated to his writing. He is also associated with the art name ‘e-brink’ and has a gallery of digital art at: http://www.e-brink.co.uk.