A Poem For Leonard Cohen

No sooner had the embers of the war turned lesser red

Than they discovered David’s instruments,

Mangled by fires,


Even when whole, they had been strange,

Invented by the King for his hands only.

Knowledge of their workings died when he did:

They would make sound for no one else,

Not even Solomon,

Who spent his whole life, someone said,

Trying to coax a shadow of a melody in secret rooms,

Starting to think it was a lie.

No one had heard when David played.

This history itself was lost;

It surfaced briefly in a dream,

The fire and all,

The song and the gall.

No sooner had Lot’s wife looked back than she was different than before,

Her flesh deposited itself upon the sand

As it became the bitter grit

Of saline providence.

The last thing her tongue tasted was herself,

She was the Dead Sea,


All salt.

The air began its act of slow annihilation,

And the dust flew to all corners of the world.

It settled in the throats of poets, Cain’s descendants,

Bronze Age Greeks and otherwise,

Traveling klezmorim.

Some grains landed in a voice,

Stayed there awhile,

And drifted off again –

Into old lands, with the hushed sound

That dust storms give out, lightly,

Into old hills as dry as ivory.

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