Before The Hallelujah

Before the Hallelujah: A Kenning for St. Leonard

I started listening before your voice
became all throat
scarred with a million cigarettes,

before you sanded down your lyrics
and the words smelled like Cuban cigars,
before you sang your songs

like distant thunderstorms of whisky
washing deeper deep gullies
in the desert of rhyme,

before you became every lost one’s lost saint
before everyone wanted to be lost
before everyone coveted your hallelujah,

I listened to every scratch
in every groove
of every dispatch from the front.

You were “our most important spy”
you sang in a voice made of tin
stomped flat by gypsies dancing flamenco.

You wanted to be Lorca when you grew up.
You wanted to catch
the Fascist bullet in your teeth.

You planted razors in every sacred heart,
waited for them to bloom
before your master made you hoe the bed of snow.

The snow fell the razors bloomed,
slowly the razors bloomed
in the cut glass vase

watered by curated tears
culled from the weeping ikon
all orthodox and gilt.

Forests of violins burned
all of us fell to our knees
as you danced us to the end of love.

You told us there ain’t no cure
in the church of no-place-else-to-go
as you built the altar and swung your ax of gold.

All birds on a stained glass wire,
all birds of St. Leonard,
you made it all up, to us

you made us love ourselves for spare hallelujah
all of us grateful for the razor
in our sacred cut glass hearts.

I started listening before your voice
became all throat
scarred with a million cigarettes,

before you sanded down your lyrics
and the words smelled like Cuban cigars,
before you sang your songs

like distant thunderstorms of whisky
washing deeper deep gullies
in the desert of rhyme.

Leonard Cohen turned 82 on September 21st. His 14th studio album, You Want It Darker, was released yesterday, October 21st.

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One response to “Before The Hallelujah

  1. 10-21-16 Terri Gross, NPR, replayed her 2006 interview with Cohen
    in honor of the new album release.

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