Skip to main content
Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

The Flame

Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings

Leonard Cohen; Edited by Robert Faggen and Alexandra Pleshoyano

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK

HAPPENS TO THE HEART

I was always working steady

But I never called it art

I was funding my depression

Meeting Jesus reading Marx

Sure it failed my little fire

But it’s bright the dying spark

Go tell the young messiah

What happens to the heart

There’s a mist of summer kisses

Where I tried to double-park

The rivalry was vicious

And the women were in charge

It was nothing, it was business

But it left an ugly mark

So I’ve come here to revisit

What happens to the heart

I was selling holy trinkets

I was dressing kind of sharp

Had a pussy in the kitchen

And a panther in the yard

In the prison of the gifted

I was friendly with the guard

So I never had to witness

What happens to the heart

I should have seen it coming

You could say I wrote the chart

Just to look at her was trouble

It was trouble from the start

Sure we played a stunning couple

But I never liked the part

It ain’t pretty, it ain’t subtle

What happens to the heart

Now the angel’s got a fiddle

And the devil’s got a harp

Every soul is like a minnow

Every mind is like a shark

I’ve opened every window

But the house, the house is dark

Just say Uncle, then it’s simple

What happens to the heart

I was always working steady

But I never called it art

The slaves were there already

The singers chained and charred

Now the arc of justice bending

And the injured soon to march

I lost my job defending

What happens to the heart

I studied with this beggar

He was filthy he was scarred

By the claws of many women

He had failed to disregard

No fable here no lesson

No singing meadowlark

Just a filthy beggar blessing

What happens to the heart

I was always working steady

But I never called it art

I could lift, but nothing heavy

Almost lost my union card

I was handy with a rifle

My father’s .303

We fought for something final

Not the right to disagree

Sure it failed my little fire

But it’s bright the dying spark

Go tell the young messiah

What happens to the heart

June 24, 2016



I DO

I do, I love you Mary

More than I can say

Cuz if I ever said it

They’d take us both away

They’d lock us up for nothing

And throw away the key

The world don’t like us Mary

They’re on to you and me

We got a minute Mary

Before they pull the plug

50 seconds maybe

You know that’s not enough

30 seconds baby

Is all we got to love

And if they catch us laughing

They gonna rough us up

I do, I love you Mary

More than I can say

Cuz if I ever said it

They’d take us both away

They’d lock us up for nothing

And throw away the key

The world don’t like us Mary

They’re on to you and me



LAMBCHOPS

thinking of those lambchops

at Moishe’s the other night

we all taste good to one another

most bodies are good to eat

even reptiles and insects

even the poisonous lutefisk of Norway

buried in the dirt a million years before serving

and the poisonous blowfish of Japan

can be prepared

to insure reasonable risks

at the table

if the crazy god did not want us to eat one another

why make our flesh so sweet

I heard it on the radio

a happy rabbit at the rabbit farm

saying to the animal psychic

don’t be sad

it’s lovely here

they’re so good to us

we’re not the only ones

said the rabbit

comforting her

everyone gets eaten

as the rabbit said

to the animal psychic

2006



NO TIME TO CHANGE

No time to change

The backward look

It’s much too late

My gentle book

Too late to make

The men ashamed

For what they do

With naked flames

Too late to fall

Upon my sword

I have no sword

It’s 2005

How dare I care

What’s on my plate

O gentle book

You’re much too late

You missed the point

Of poetry

It’s all about them

Not about me


Copyright © 2018 by Old Ideas, LLC