I smoked my friends and lovers
down to the filter
hounded people who’d wounded my pride
fought my bosses
shredded it all
and ended up in this room
typing incantations to the empty evening sky
and poems to the prostitutes on my street
especially the one with the fading dye-job
and a broken shoe.
I go to Mass on Sundays now
would you believe it
then get drunk
as I read the papers
which are full of iconoclasts
congratulating each other
on their new methods of
slaughtering sacred cows.
I see them fight like hyenas
over their dying god
in my muddled dreams.
And after violent nights
in which everything seems
like a photographic negative
of the glory to come
including this hope.
You’re drifting away from shore. You’ve practised ventriloquism for so long your cries sound like someone else’s. I can hardly make out your features. You’re not flailing yet, but I know the currents are strong. I got caught in them once, and I’ll build a fortress out of honest isolation before I let anyone tempt me out there again. Turn around and search the horizon for your fake Jericho while you still can. Don’t look back.
I recall the furtive languor with which we dressed and silent as accomplices made our way down the gloomy staircase into the street. We did not dare to link arms, but our hands kept meeting involuntarily as we walked, as if they had not shaken of the spell of the afternoon and could not bear to be separated. We parted speechlessly too, in the little square with its dying trees burnt to the colour of toffee by the sun; parted with only one look – as if we wished to take up emplacements in each other’s mind forever.
It was as if the whole city had crashed about my ears; I walked about in it as aimlessly as survivors must walk about the streets of their native city after an earthquake, amazed to find how much that had been familiar was changed. I felt in some curious way deafened and remember nothing more except that much later I ran into Pursewarden and Pombal in a bar. And when Pombal said: ‘You are abstracted this evening. What is the matter?’ I felt like answering him in the words of the dying Amr: ‘I feel as if heaven lay close upon the earth and I between them both, breathing through the eye of a needle.’
– Lawrence Durrell, Alexandria Quartet
That is the background of the whole record, I mean if you have to come up with a philosophical ground, that is. “Ring the bells that still can ring.” It’s no excuse… the dismal situation.. and the future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring”: they’re few and far between but you can find them. “Forget your perfect offering”, that is the hang-up, that you’re gonna work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea and we’ve forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the garden of Eden. This situation does not admit of solution or perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together, physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.
– Leonard Cohen on the meaning of ‘Anthem’, from Diamonds in the Line
She parted the valley of her thighs for him only when she knew they’d taken each other’s pride. When she finally saw that he’d clawed his own back for good, she packed and left. There was nothing he could do about it. He’d made his choice, even if it didn’t seem like a choice. Soon he was back on the hidden road inside himself that he’d always hated, which he knew would only lead him back to himself.