Friday, April 15, 2011

leonard cohen: the asthmatic

Because you will not overthrow your life. You cannot breathe. Because of the panic of homelessness.  You cannot breathe. Because you have begun to worship time. You cannot breathe. Because you will never have the beautiful one. You cannot breathe. Because you will not sail into the small harbour and enter the village.  You cannot breathe. Because your sorrow will not return to its birthplace. You cannot breathe. Because you believe you were not meant to be so far away. You cannot breathe. Because this is the valley of the shadow of death. You cannot breathe. The boat has brought you here. The butterfly has sealed your escape. Because you cannot be here. You cannot breathe. The butterfly smashed into a silver tray and sealed your escape like a stone rolled into a tunnel. You cannot breathe. Because you do not know what is coming. You cannot breathe. Because this world is yours and it is not yours. You cannot breathe. Because  you rest, because you strive, because you do not work. You cannot breathe. Because you let the world come between you and me. You cannot breathe. Because of an idea of the calm breath. You cannot breathe. Here they have orange and lemon trees. Here there are baths of mineral waters. Because you want to choose a way. You cannot breathe. Because you find the language to welcome me. You cannot breathe. The sun is sparkling all over the blue water. The stony shore is laved by the sea. Yellow curtains are sucked against the portholes. The propeller wants everyone to go to sleep. You separate yourself from an unknown woman in a green sweater. Because of your love of conquering. You cannot breathe. Because you will not address me as an equal. Because you have commanded the guards to shut down the doors and take away breathing. Because the world is stamped with order, like a seal in formless wax. Because you have a God of justice. Because the justice is immediate and flawless. You cannot breathe. Because you cannot uphold your separation. Because your strangerhood is defeated. Because you breathe your breath through the mask of purity. Because you consign to the pale of objectivity her green sweater, the flashing islands, your distance from love, and your whole breathless predicament. You cannot breathe.


Cohen, Leonard. "The Asthmatic" Death of a Lady's Man. Toronto: Penguin Books, 1979.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I looked for this poem online for years. Thank you for putting it up. :-)