To Leonard Cohen on his 60th

Joan Baez


I remember
1960 something
that ropey hotel restaurant
in the village
some man throwing up
in the phone booth
off the lobby
and you Leonard
king of
black predictions
harbinger of
a scorched earth
my dinner host
speaking in dark riddles
I didn’t understand

Yet from your moonless dreams
did the Sisters of Mercy drift up
lovely and irreverent
perfumed and full of folly
and Suzanne
a careless ghost
pure as a young belief
beautiful as the new age
daughter of the dawn ofAquarius
the absent-minded seductress
hurling tote bags of goodness
to the dreamers on line
at Woodstock
and Joan of Arc
and Bernadette
and birds on wires and midnight choirs
so much beauty
from so much darkness
a gift
like wild grasses in the Hebrides
or the scent of the earth

a song called Tacoma Trailer
played innocently
on my walkman
in Wurzburg Germany
while I watched
a snowstorm
tear past my window
in horizontal white splendor
predictably wondrous
when in disbelief I spotted
plain as life itself
a tattered little boy
struggling into the storm
and I brought him up
with my eyes
into the warmth
of my room
and into my arms

in 1993 Leonard
from your canopied dreams
came Yasha
who wrote these
unlikely lines
to your song of Tacoma Trailer
“Take these silver lakes from my eyes
I am ever so young(
my knees are blue from the cold
and my hands are frozen

My name is Yasha
I come to you dying and offer these silver lakes
which for you will be dressed in summer
dreamlike under linden trees
blue and clear
and full of shining fish

… And I
I will lie down in the snow
and hear music of violins
and rich cellos
and I will die
this is the simplest
and what I expect … ”

There is more
much more
to these writings of Yasha
and to all the other things
you have given to me
and to this century.

Happy 60th!


Text is taken from the book, “Take This Walz, A Celebration of Leonard Cohen.” Edited by Michael Fournier and Ken Norris, published by The Muses Company, Ste. Anne de Belleview, Quebec, 1994.