Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sherman Alexie Vs. Hollywood

I came across this article done by Sherman Alexie in Winter 2000. He had been selected to be a guest editor on an editon of PLOUGHSHARES: The Literary Journal at Emerson College. It struck all the old notes for me, the familiar song, the frustration of any "collaborative writing effort". Just once in my life did I really attempt this. I had written an unpublished (still is) screenplay for a short film that myself and several moviemaker buddies. I called it THE RIDE. There were four of us, the director, the techie, the videographer, and me --the intial writer. I submitted the screenplay, and everyone made their suggestions. It was too short, or it was too long; the language was too raw, I had to strike out the word "nigger", not enough sex, too much sex, not enough action, too much violence, too many scenes within an automobile which would be hard to shoot on a limited budget. After several weeks, lapsing into months, of these meetings, they were starting to go in circles, like the snake eating its tail, and since I kept careful notes, when I pointed out the conundrum, everyone became angry. THE RIDE never came to fruition. The funding fell through. But I can certainly see why Sherman Alexie produced and wrote his own script for his independent seldom-seen film THE BUSINESS OF FANCYDANCING (which I reviewed elsewhere on this blog). So anyway, I love you Sherman, and I know that means I have to stand in line, and take an appointment. Take a gander at his essay:

Introduction: Death in Hollywood
by Sherman Alexie

For the first time in my life, I had writer’s block. This writer’s block was so bad, so pervasive, so debilitating and humiliating (and so pretentiously stereotypical) that I couldn’t write anything. Or perhaps, more accurately stated, I couldn’t write anything with any sort of confidence. The words still filled up the page, but I had lost the ability to tell the good from the bad. (Some might argue I never possessed that ability!) More importantly, I’d lost the courage to ignore the opinions of others. I’d lost confidence in my individual voice and vision. This was true of my poems, stories, essays, novels, and screenplays. I turned down a few lucrative offers to write journalism for magazines and newspapers I admire because I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the assignments. I missed all sorts of deadlines (like for this Ploughshares introduction, contradicting all the flattering stuff in Lynn Cline’s profile about my effortless work habits) and offered pitiful excuses for my lack of production, none of which came close to the truth, and the truth was this: I was afraid. I was in a personal and professional nightmare and often wondered if I’d ever find my way out. In fact, as I write this, I’m still in the middle of the nightmare. I’m only writing in the past tense out of desperation and hope. So, why all the drama?

My problems began with my work in the movie business. It’s a sad old story. Too many novelists and playwrights have gone to Hollywood and tried to strike it rich, only to be met with crushing disappointment. Hollywood broke Odets right in half, mutilated Faulkner’s spirit, and made Fitzgerald feel like a second-rater. I’m certainly not in those guys’ literary league, so if they could be treated like second-class artists, then Hollywood would certainly have no problem beating the shit out of me. Of course, those beatings are rarely inflicted out of disdain, hatred, or condescension. My writing and I have mostly been received with grace and courtesy by the movie business. Jesus, I’ve been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to work on screenplays I’m quite positive will never be made into movies, so that’s obviously a very sure and strange sign of appreciation. And yes, I’ve met with my share of megalomaniac monsters (mostly directors), capitalistic lowbrows (mostly studio executives), and outright crazies (a broad category of folks), but most of the people in the movie business are decent and hardworking people.

So why am I bitter? Well, I’m bitter because screenplays are written by committee. To be sure, filmmaking is a collaborative art form (don’t let any megalomaniac director or French film critic or Francophile American film critic tell you different), but the writing itself should never be collaborative. At least, that’s my opinion. Or at the very least, it’s how I work and cannot work with others. For those of you who don’t know, this is how screenwriting functions in Hollywood: A writer works for weeks or months, turns in a draft of a screenplay, then waits for weeks or months to receive comments (Hollywood calls them “notes”) from directors, producers, actors, agents, managers, and a cast of thousands, then the screenwriter is supposed to respond to those notes and rewrite the screenplay accordingly. This process might sound simple, but it is exceedingly torturous. For me, it’s torturous because I can never write one word, not even a pronoun or preposition, with the confidence that it will not be changed. I hear “their” voices in my head whenever I sit at my desk to work on a screenplay. I hear “their” voices in my head whenever I sit in a theater to watch a movie. I hear “their” voices whenever I think about movies or moviemaking. And “their” voices always say the same things, all of which can be distilled into the chorus for a song I wrote:

We think you’re brilliant, we think you’re brilliant.
We think you’re brilliant, we think you’re brilliant.
Now, could you change just this one little thing?

If you work full-time as a screenwriter in the movie business, I’m sure there’s a way to successfully negotiate the notes meetings—hundreds have to do it every day—but I’m also quite sure the process chips away at the walls of your artistic soul. After all, I’ve never received a note wondering if I could somehow make the screenplay a little more “difficult,” or that I might want to add a few more literary allusions “in order to give the work intellectual depth,” or that I should include more dialogue, because “frankly, these characters are intelligent and highly educated, so I think we should take advantage of that.” Instead, the notes always, always, always have something to do with making the screenplay more “accessible.” That’s a poisonous word for me, a public-school-educated, Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian boy who grew up on a reservation in Eastern Washington State in the Pacific Northwest. You see, all of those educational, racial, cultural, and geographical distinctions make me the unique, eccentric, iconoclastic, and inaccessible individual that I am. But every one of those distinctions also marginalizes me in some fundamental way. I’ve always lived my life and written my books outside of the power structure. In order to be accessible, I’d have to work within the power structure. And yes, while writing screenplays, I have been working within that power structure, right in the damn middle of that power structure. And yes, the contradiction is killing me.
Yes, this is my brain, a cute little egg, and this is my brain on screenplays, an egg sizzling in a frying pan with ten hypodermic needles, six vials of crack, and a copy of Syd Field’s Screenplay.

So what does this have to do with my writer’s block? Well, I’ve started to hear “their” voices, those Hollywood voices, whenever I try to write anything. I’ve even begun to wonder how I should change this introduction in order to make it more accessible. I worry if I should add more drama in the first paragraph and a few more punch lines in the third paragraph. I wonder which actor will play me when I adapt this introduction for the NBC miniseries. Of course, I’m exaggerating here, but that’s only because I’m again afraid to tell you what’s really happening to me and my work, and what’s happening and what’s going to happen is this: If I don’t get out of Hollywood, I’m going to lose what got me here in the first place—my love of writing. So, near the end, here’s the thesis of this damn thing: I’m quitting Hollywood. I have to finish out a few contractual obligations, but I’m not going to write screenplays for them anymore. I’m still going to make movies, but I’m going to make them in the same way that I write books: all by myself, with all my inaccessible bullshit, all of my good and bad writing, and most of the soul I have left intact. I’m going to make very cheap movies on video, and manufacture and distribute the videos all by myself, free from as many corporate influences as possible. I’ll make movies like I write poems, knowing full well that 99.9% of the world couldn’t care less, but equally aware that a tiny little 0.1% of the world needs and loves poetry.

So, there you go, I want to be a writer, like all the wonderfully talented women and men in this issue of Ploughshares, all of us doing our best, all of us crazy and courageous enough to think that poems and stories matter more than just about everything else.

Copyright © Sherman Alexie

I must say Sherman, for a dude with writer's block, you really came out swinging and made those hard-hitting points like the slugger poet you are. Odd that you ever feel anything but damned lucky to be so successful, but I understand that is relative, to the day, to the moment. Some day I might get the courage to try and meet you in person, maybe driving up to your office in Seattle, or coming to see your appearance on April 23, 2008 over in Shelton, at the Indian Museum. In the meantime, I will just keep reading your books (I'm up to six now, only 8 to go), reading your website, and pounding away on mine.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Some Essential Leonard Cohen

No one has ever affected me quite as much as this dark lord, this Judiac Zen poet, Leonard Cohen. They have called Bob Dylan a poet, but his lines pale when compared to the overwhelming tower of Cohen. Between 1974 and 1977 I lived in Hollywood, and I was actor; which is another way of saying I was unemployed a lot, and at liberty most of the time. A couple of times a year I used to drive up to Spokane to see my grandfather, and then I would swing over to Seattle to crash with old friends and to check out the scene. On the highway, my 73' Chev Impala SS convertible, 396 with factory Hearst 4-speed, would burn up those steel belts passing Jaguars and Cadillacs, screaming up the freeway with my top down, playing my multiple tapes of Leonard Cohen. I wept. I smiled. I grew humble on moment, and stood like a collossus the next. For those of you who want a treat, see the new film, I'M YOUR MAN, where Cohen is interviewed, and there is a big tribute concert to him, for him. It will blow your socks off. Following are some of my favorite of his song lyrics, the words that transported me up and down I-5 safely.

SuzanneSongs 1968

Suzanne takes you down
to her place near the river
you can hear the boats go by
you can spend the night beside her
And you know that she's half crazy
but that's why you want to be there
and she feeds you tea and oranges
that come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
that you have no love to give her
she gets you on her wavelength
and she lets the river answer
that you've always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
you want to travel blind
and you know that she can trust you
for you've touched her perfect body
with your mind.

And Jesus was a sailor
when he walked upon the water
and he spent a long time watching
from his lonely wooden tower
and when he knew for certain
only drowning men could see him
he said All men will be sailors then
until the sea shall free them
but he himself was broken
long before the sky would open
forsaken, almost human
he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
you want to travel blind
and you think maybe you'll trust him
for he's touched your perfect body
with his mind

Now Suzanne takes your hand
and she leads you to the river
she is wearing rags and feathers
from Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
on our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
there are children in the morning
they are leaning out for love
they will lean that way forever
while Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
you want to travel blind
and you know that you can trust her
for she's touched your perfect body
with her mind

The Stranger Song 1968

It's true that all the men you knew were dealers who said they were through
with dealing every time you gave them shelter. I know that kind of man. It's
hard to hold the hand of anyone who's reaching for the sky just to surrender.

And sweeping up the jokers that he left behind you'll find he did not leave
you very much not even laughter. Like any dealer he was watching for
the card that is so high and wild he'll never need to deal another. He was just
some Joseph looking for a manger.

And then leaning on your window-sill he'll say one day you caused his will
to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter. And taking from his
wallet an old schedule of trains, he'll say, I told you when I came I was a

But now another stranger seems to want you to ignore his dreams, as
though they were the burden of some other. You've seen that man before,
his golden arm dispatching cards, but now it's rusted from the elbows to
the finger. And he wants to trade the game he plays for shelter. He wants to
trade the game he knows for shelter.

You hate to see another tired man lay down his hand, like he was giving up
the Holy Game of Poker. And while he talks his dreams to sleep, you notice
there's a highway that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder.

You tell him to come in, sit down, but something makes you turn around.
The door is open. You cannot close your shelter. You try the handle of the
road. It opens. Do not be afraid. It's you, my love, it's you who are
the stranger.

I've been waiting. I was sure we'd meet between the trains we're waiting for,
I think it's time to board another. Please understand I never had a secret
chart to get me to the heart of this, or any other matter. Well, he talks like
this, you don't know what he's after. When he speaks like this, you don't
care what he's after.

Let's meet tomorrow if you choose, upon the shore, beneath the bridge,
that they are building on some endless river. Then he leaves the platform
for the sleeping car that's warm, you realize, he's only advertising one more
shelter. And it comes to you, he never was a stranger. And you say, "OK,
the bridge, or someplace later."

And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind, you find he did not
leave you very much, not even laughter. Like any dealer he was watching
for the card that is so high and wild he'll never need to deal another. He
was just some Joseph looking for a manger.

And leaning on your window-sill, he'll say one day you caused his will to
weaken with your love and warmth and shelter. And then taking from his
wallet an old schedule of trains he'll say, I told you when I came I was a

Sisters of Mercy 1968

All the Sisters of Mercy
they are not departed or gone
They were waiting for me
when I thought that I just can't go on
And they brought me their comfort
and later they brought me this song
Oh I hope you run into them
you who've been travelling so long

You who must leave everything
that you cannot control
It begins with your family
but soon it comes round to your soul
I've been where you're hanging
I think I can see where you're pinned
When you're not feeling holy
your loneliness tells you you've sinned

They lay down beside me
I made my confession to them
They touched both my eyes
and I touched the dew on their hem
If your life is a leaf
that the seasons tear off and condemn
they will bind you with love
that is graceful and green as a stem

When I left they were sleeping
I hope you run into them soon
Don't turn on the light
You can read their address by the moon
And you won't make me jealous
if I hear that they sweetened your night
We weren't lovers like that
and besides it would still be all right

Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye -- 1968

I loved you in the morning
Our kisses deep and warm
Your hair upon the pillow
Like a sleepy golden storm
Many loved before us
I know that we are not new
In city and in forest
They smiled like me and you
But now it's come to distances
And both of us must try
Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye

I'm not looking for another
As I wander in my time
Walk me to the corner
Our steps will always rhyme
You know my love goes with you
As your love stays with me
It's just the way it changes
Like the shoreline and the sea
But let's not talk of love or chains
And things we can't untie
Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye

I loved you in the morning
Our kisses deep and warm
Your hair upon the pillow
Like a sleepy golden storm
Yes many loved before us
I know that we are not new
In city and in forest
They smiled like me and you
But let's not talk of love or chains
And things we can't untie
Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye

So Long, Marianne -- 1968

Come over to the window, my little darling
I'd like to try to read your palm
I used to think I was some kind of gypsy boy
before I let you take me home

So long, Marianne
it's time that we began
to laugh and cry and cry and laugh
about it all again

You know I love to live with you
but you make me forget so very much
I forget to pray for the angels
and then the angels forget to pray for us

We met when we were almost young
deep in the green lilac park
You held on to me like I was a crucifix
as we went kneeling through the dark

Your letters they all say that you're beside me now
Then why do I feel alone
I'm standing on a ledge and your fine spider web
is fastening my ankle to a stone

For now I need your hidden love
I'm cold as a new razor blade
You left when I told you I was curious
I never said that I was brave

O you are really such a pretty one
I see you've gone and changed your name again
And just when I climbed this whole mountainside
to wash my eyelids in the rain

So long, Marianne
it's time that we began
to laugh and cry and cry and laugh
about it all again

Bird On A Wire -- 1969

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free
Like a worm on a hook
Like a knight from some old-fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee
If I have been unkind
I hope that you can just let it go by
If I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you

Like a baby stillborn,
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me
But I swear by this song
And by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee
I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch
He said to me "You must not ask for so much"
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me "Hey, why not ask for more?"

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

Famous Blue Raincoat -- 1971

It's four in the morning, the end of December. I'm writing you now just to
see if you're better. New York is cold but I like where I'm living. There's
music on Clinton Street all through the evening. I hear that you're building
your little house deep in the desert. You're living for nothing now. I hope
you're keeping some kind of record. Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of
your hair. She said that you gave it to her the night that you planned to go
clear. Did you ever go clear?

The last time we saw you you looked so much older. Your famous blue
raincoat was torn at the shoulder. You'd been to the station to meet every
train but then you came home without Lili Marlene. And you treated my
woman to a flake of your life. And when she came back she was nobody's
wife. I see you there with the rose in your teeth, one more thin gypsy thief.
Well, I see Jane's awake. She sends her regards.

And what can I tell you my brother my killer? What can I possibly say? I
guess that I miss you. I guess I forgive you. I'm glad that you stood in my
way. If you ever come by here for Jane or for me, I want you to know that
your enemy is sleeping. I want you to know that his woman is free. Yes,
and thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes. I thought it was there for
good, so I never tried.

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair. She said that you gave it to her
that night that you planned to go clear.

Sincerely, L. Cohen.

Chelsea Hotel #2
New Skin For The Old Ceremony -- 1974

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
you were talking so brave and so sweet;
giving me head on the unmade bed,
while the limousines wait in the street.
Those were the reasons, and that was New York,
we were running for the money and the flesh;
And that was called love for the workers in song,
probably still is for those of them left.

But you got away, didn't you, baby,
you just turned your back on the crowd.
You got away, I never once heard you say:
"I need you, I don't need you,
I need you, I don't need you," --
and all of that jiving around.

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
you were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you preferred handsome men,
but for me you would make an exception.
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said: "Well, never mind,
we are ugly, but we have the music."

And you got away, didn't you, baby,
you just turned your back on the crowd.
You got away, I never once heard you say:
"I need you, I don't need you,
I need you, I don't need you," --
and all of that jiving around.

I don't mean to suggest that I loved you the best;
I can't keep track of each fallen robin.
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel --
that's all, I don't even think of you that often.

Take This Longing-- 1974

Many men have loved the bells
you fastened to the rain; and everyone who wanted you,
they found what they
will always want again --
your beauty lost to you yourself,
just as it was lost to them --

Take this longing from my tongue,
whatever useless things
my hands have done;
let me see your beauty broken down,
like you would do
for one you love.

Your body like a searchlight.
My poverty revealed.
I would like to try your charity,
until you cry:
"Now you must try my greed."
And everything depends upon
how near you sleep to me --

Take this longing from my tongue,
all the lonely things
my hands have done;
let me see your beauty broken down,
like you would do
for one your love.

Hungry as an archway
through which the troops have passed, I stand in ruins behind you,
with your winter clothes,
your broken sandal strap.
But I love to see you naked there,
especially from the back --

Take this longing from my tongue,
all the useless things
my hands have done;
untie for me your high blue gown,
like you would do
for one you love.

You're faithful to the better man.
I'm afraid that he left.
So let me judge your love affair
in this very room where I have
sentenced mine to death.
I'll even wear these old laurel leaves
that he's shaken from his head --

Take this longing from my tongue,
all the useless things
my hands have done;
let me see your beauty broken down,
like you would do
for one you love.

Who By Fire -- 1974

Who by fire? Who by water? Who in the sunshine? Who in the night time?
Who by high ordeal? Who by common trial? Who in your merry, merry
month of May? Who by slow decay? And who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip? Who by barbiturate? Who in these realms of
love? Who by something blunt? Who by avalanche? Who by powder? Who
for his greed? Who for his hunger? And who shall I say is calling?

Who by brave assent? Who by accident? Who in solitude? Who in this
mirror? Who by his lady's command? Who by his own hand? Who in mortal
chains? Who in power? And who shall I say is calling?

The Guests -- 1979

One by one the guests arrive
The guests are coming through
The open-hearted many
The broken-hearted few

And no one knows where the night is going
And no one knows why the wine is flowing
Oh love, I need you, I need you,
I need you I need you now

And those who dance begin to dance
Those who weep begin
Welcome, welcome, cries a voice
Let all my guests come in

And all go stumbling through that house
in lonely secrecy
Saying Do reveal yourself
Or, Why hast thou forsaken me

All at once the torches flare
The inner door flies open
One by one they enter there
In every style of passion

And here they take their sweet repast
While house and grounds dissolve
And one by one the guests are cast
beyond the garden wall

And those who dance begin to dance
Those who weep begin
And those who earnestly are lost
Are lost and lost again

One by one the guests arrive
The guests are coming through
The broken-hearted many
The open-hearted few

And no one knows where the night is going
And no one knows why the wine is flowing
Oh love, I need you, I need you, I need you
I need you now

Various Positions -- 1984

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
that David played and it pleased the Lord,
but you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
the minor fall, the major lift;
the baffled king composing Hallelujah!

Your faith was strong but you needed proof.
You saw her bathing on the roof;
her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you.
She tied you to a kitchen chair
she broke your throne, she cut your hair,
and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah!

You say I took the Name in vain;
I don't even know the name.
But if I did, well, really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word;
It doesn't matter which you heard;
the holy, or the broken Hallelujah!

I did my best; it wasn't much.
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch.
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you.
And even though it all went wrong,
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

I'm Your Man -- 1988

If you want a lover
I'll do anything you ask me to
And if you want another kind of love
I'll wear a mask for you
If you want a partner take my hand,
or if you want to strike me
down in anger
here I stand
I'm your man

If you want a boxer
I will step into the ring for you
If you want a doctor
I'll examine every inch of you
If you want a driver
climb inside
or if you want to take me
for a ride
you know you can
I'm your man

The moon's too bright
the chain's too tight
the beast won't go to sleep
I've been running through
these promises to you
that I made and I could not keep
But a man never got a woman back
not by begging on his knees
or I'd crawl to you baby
and I'd fall at your feet
and I'd howl at your beauty
like a dog in heat
and I'd claw at your heart
and I'd tear at your sheet
I'd say please
I'm your man

If you want to sleep
a moment on the road
I will steer for you
and if you want to work the street alone
I'll disappear for you
If you want a father
for your child
or only want to walk
with me a while
across the sand
I'm your man

Tower Of Song -- 1988

My friends are gone and my hair is grey.
I ache in the places where I used to play.
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on.
I'm just paying my rent every day in the tower of song.

I said to Hank Williams, "How lonely does it get?"
Hank Williams hasn't answered yet,
but I hear him coughing all night long,
a hundred floors above me in the tower of song.

I was born like this, I had no choice.
I was born with the gift of a golden voice,
and twenty-seven angels from the great beyond,
they tied me to this table right here in the tower of song.

So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll--
I'm very sorry, baby, doesn't look like me at all.
I'm standing by the window where the light is strong.
They don't let a woman kill you, not in the tower of song.

Now you can say that I've grown bitter, but of this you may be sure:
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor,
and there's a mighty judgement coming, but I may be wrong.
You see, you hear these funny voices in the tower of song.

I see you standing on the other side.
I don't know how the river got so wide.
I loved you, I loved you way back when --
And all the bridges are burning that we might have crossed,
but I feel so close to everything that we lost --
We'll never, we'll never have to lose it again.

So I bid you farewell, I don't know when I'll be back.
There moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track.
But you'll be hearing from me, baby, long after I'm gone.
I'll be speaking to you sweetly from a window in the tower of song.

My friends are gone and my hair is grey.
I ache in the places where I used to play.
And I'm crazy for love, but I'm not coming on.
I'm just paying my rent every day in the tower of song.

70 Things About Leonard Cohen

Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen's head?

As the godfather of gloom turns 70, Tim de Lisle describes his brush with death - and lists 69 other things you may not know about him

Friday September 17, 2004The Guardian

1 Leonard Cohen has been labelled "the poet laureate of pessimism", "the grocer of despair", "the godfather of gloom" and "the prince of bummers". He has, none the less, given pleasure and even laughter to the million or so people who buy his records.

2 He will be 70 on Tuesday, the first of the 1960s singer-songwriters to reach 70. He was born in 1934, shortly before Elvis Presley.

3 His new album, Dear Heather, is out next month. It includes a song about September 11, called On That Day.

4 Since his mid-50s, his stock has risen steadily. Late middle-age tends not to be easy for pop stars, if they get there at all, but it has smiled on Cohen. There have been several tribute albums and covers by Bono, REM and Johnny Cash. His influence has been cited by Nick Cave, Suzanne Vega and Rufus Wainwright, who said recently: "I really believe he's the greatest living poet on earth."

5 Cohen's albums regularly go to no 1 in Norway.

6 In America, his last album entered the Billboard chart at number 143.

7 In 2001 he said: "When Alberta Hunter was singing many years ago, at 82, I came to New York just to listen to her. When she said 'God bless you', you really felt that you had been blessed. It's wonderful to hear a 20-year-old speaking about love. As the Talmud says, there's good wine in every generation. But I love to hear an old singer lay it out. And I'd like to be one of them."

8 Birthday parties are planned in Toronto, Edmonton, Barcelona and Toowoomba, Queensland. In Barcelona, a singer will perform Cohen's songs in Catalan.

9 Cohen was 32 and an established poet and novelist before deciding that songwriting might pay better. When he first touted his songs around New York, agents said to him: "Aren't you a little old for this game?"

10 He has never married - "too frightened". He had two children with Suzanne Elrod, and also had a long relationship with the film star Rebecca De Mornay.

11 "The heart," he says, "goes on cooking, sizzling like shish kebab." He likes the image so much, he used it to interviewers in 1977, 1988, 1997 and 2001.

12 He has used many musical styles, from acoustic folk to electro-pop. But his lyrics have made only one stylistic leap, from lush lyricism to dry humour. His vocals have gone from a limited but appealing wail to a heroically smoky rumble. Soon, he may be audible only to dogs.

13 Cohen's maternal grandfather, a rabbi, wrote a 700-page thesaurus of Talmudic interpretations.

14 His father, who was in the garment trade, died when he was nine.

15 His middle name is Norman.

16 His first band, formed when he was 17, was called the Buckskin Boys.

17 In his high-school yearbook, he gave his ambition as "world-famous orator".

18 At McGill University, he was president of the debating society.

19 His friends were fellow poets. "Each time we met, we felt that it was a landmark in the history of thinking, let alone poetry."

20 Cohen was a poet and novelist before he was a pop star. He published his first volume of poetry at 22, and won a $2,000 scholarship to travel around Europe when he was 25.

21 He liked the Greek island of Hydra so much that he bought a house there in 1960 for $1,500. It had no electricity or running water. He could live there for $1,000 a year, so he would go back to Canada, earn the money with his writing and head back to Hydra "to write and swim and sail".

22 His second novel, Beautiful Losers, about a love triangle, was hailed by one reviewer as "the most revolting book ever written in Canada".

23 His big break was meeting the folk singer Judy Collins. He sang Suzanne down the phone to her and she immediately promised to record it.

24 He was then asked to lunch by John Hammond of Columbia Records, one of rock's greatest talent-spotters: he had signed Bob Dylan, and went on to discover Bruce Springsteen. Hammond asked Cohen to sing some songs in his room at the Chelsea hotel. He played six or seven, and Hammond said: "You got it". Cohen never worked out whether he meant he had a contract or merely a gift.

25 A week later, they were in the studio, with Hammond as producer. Cohen started singing and Hammond said on the intercom: "Watch out Dylan!"

26 The young Cohen's signature tune was Suzanne. He once called it "journalism", as the details were drawn from life in Montreal. Suzanne was a friend, Suzanne Verdal, who really did serve him tea and oranges in her loft by the river. Cohen wrote the line "I touched your perfect body with my mind" because she was married to a friend of his.

27 Singing it in concert decades later, he sometimes found the emotions hard to unearth. "I was never so good that I could make a song sound real or authentic without it being that, and if it isn't, people know. I find that quite a lot of red wine will do it."

28 He is a lifelong manic depressive. Asked about drugs, he has said: "The recreational, the obsessional and the pharmaceutical - I've tried them all. I would be enthusiastically promoting any one of them if they worked."

29 From 1965 to 1968 he was a vegetarian. A few years later, he took up yoga.

30 Some time in the early 70s, his songs were dismissed as "music to slit your wrists to". The phrase stuck. "I get put into the computer tagged with melancholy and despair," Cohen said. "And every time a journalist taps in my name, that description comes up on the screen."

31 His hero is Federico García Lorca. Cohen named his daughter after him: "She's a lovely creature, and very inventive. She really deserves the name." He translated a poem of Lorca's into the song Take This Waltz, which took him 150 hours.

32 On Anthem (1992), he wrote: "There is a crack, a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." Later he said: "That's the closest thing I could describe to a credo. That idea is one of the fundamental positions behind a lot of the songs."

33 His song Chelsea Hotel No 2, about Janis Joplin, may be the only song overtly written by one pop star about sex with another. "You said to me then, you preferred handsome men, but for me you would make an exception ... giving me head on the unmade bed, while the limousines wait in the street."

34 Much later, he said: "I never discuss my mistresses or my tailors." But for Joplin he had made an exception.

35 One woman who resisted his charms was Nico, whom he met at Andy Warhol's club in 1966. "The most beautiful woman I'd ever seen." She said she preferred younger men, but introduced him to Lou Reed, who had some of his books. "We told each other how good we were."

36 In 1968 he moved with Suzanne and the children to a cabin near Nashville. John Hammond said, "Nashville was astounded by him, because they hadn't seen anything like him, and they never will again."

37 Cohen has been with Columbia for 37 years, but relations are ambivalent. Accepting an award in 1988, he thanked Columbia and said: "I have always been touched by the modesty of their interest in my work."

38 When he wrote Bird on a Wire, Cohen felt he hadn't "finished the carpentry", but Kris Kristofferson said the first three lines would be his epitaph: "Like a bird on a wire/ Like a drunk in a midnight choir/ I have tried, in my way, to be free"

39 When sport loomed ever larger in the 90s, some in the music business were taken by surprise, but not Cohen. "In the 60s, music was the mode, the most important form of communication," he said in 1988. "I think today it's sports. The sports figures in America are much more attractive and interesting and their lives are much more dangerous than the rock figures. They are in the traditional heroic mode."

40 Asking him where the songs come from is fruitless. "If I knew, I'd go there more often."

41 His album Death of a Ladies' Man was produced by Phil Spector, the reclusive genius of girl-group pop. "I was flipped out at the time," Cohen said later, "and he certainly was flipped out. For me, the expression was withdrawal and melancholy, and for him, megalomania and insanity and a devotion to armaments that was really intolerable. In the state that he found himself, which was post-Wagnerian, I would say Hitlerian, the atmosphere was one of guns - the music was a subsidiary enterprise ... At a certain point Phil approached me with a bottle of kosher red wine in one hand and a .45 in the other, put his arm around my shoulder and shoved the revolver into my neck and said, 'Leonard, I love you.' I said, 'I hope you do, Phil.'"

42 Cohen has described the album they made together as "grotesque".

43 In 1988 he released I'm Your Man, and reinvented himself as a boulevardier with synthesisers and jokes. "Everybody knows you've been discreet," he sang, "But there were so many people you just had to meet/ Without your clothes."

44 Cohen's work has been chosen on Desert Island Discs by the artist Jack Vettriano (I'm Your Man), Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour (Anthem) and the singer and Velvet Underground viola player John Cale (Alexandra Leaving). The actress Gillian Anderson chose covers of two Cohen songs - Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah and Roberta Flack's Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye.

45 In 1988, Cohen told Musician magazine: "As you get older, you get less willing to buy the latest version of reality."

46 A writer in the 1950s, a folk singer in the 60s, a has-been in the 70s, a cult rock star in the 80s, Cohen decided to become a monk in the 90s. He joined a Buddhist community on Mt Baldy, near Los Angeles: in the city of permanent summer, he had gravitated to the one part of town that had winters. He acted as driver to the senior monk or Roshi (teacher), a man in his 90s. Cohen was called Jikan, "the silent one".

47 "Cohen in Roshi's company was like a fish in water, or a non-fish in non-water, or like neither," wrote Leon Wieseltier, somewhat enigmatically. Cohen was clearer: "I'm not looking for a new religion. I'm quite happy with the old one, with Judaism."

48 In 1986, he made a guest appearance in Miami Vice as a character named François Zolan, head of Interpol.

49 In 1992 he released a song called Democracy, which was unlike anything else in his oeuvre or the pop canon - a satirical march, highly politicised although not party-political. It was later used by Ralph Nader in his presidential campaign, and sung by Don Henley at the MTV Ball during Bill Clinton's inauguration ("slaughtered," according to Leon Wieseltier). The song came out after the LA riots of April 1992, but was recorded before them. "Some people have suggested that it's prophetic. It's hard to wear that mantle. But when you're writing, your antennae go up, and you're sensitive to nuances in the air."

50 Katie Melua, Britain's best-selling new singer of 2004, was asked recently what her ideal band would be. She picked John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on guitar, Eva Cassidy as the singer and Leonard Cohen as the songwriter.

51 In 1995, Cohen was profiled in Interview magazine by Anjelica Huston, who described him as "part wolf and part angel".

52 Cohen is always rewriting. In 1988 he was full of enthusiasm for a song he was writing called My Secret Life, but it took him another 13 years to get it right. "I can't discard a verse until I've written it as carefully as the one I would keep."

53 For many rock stars, age is something you handle with make-up, surgery or denial, but Cohen has faced up to getting old. "Now my friends have gone and my hair is grey," he sang on Tower of Song in 1988, "I ache in the places where I used to play." Seven years later, I asked him what had happened to those places. He replied with morose delight: "I can't even locate them."

54 Last year, Cohen was made a Companion to the Order of Canada by the governor-general, Adrienne Clarkson. A statement from her office described him as "a venerated dean of the pop-culture movement".

55 There was a show at Edinburgh last month about Kurt Cobain, called Leonard Cohen Afterworld. The title came from the Nirvana song Pennyroyal Tea: "Give me Leonard Cohen afterworld/ So I can sigh eternally."

56 Cohen said of Cobain after his death: "I'm sorry I couldn't have spoken to the young man. I see a lot of people at the Zen Centre, who have gone through drugs and found a way out that is not just Sunday school. There are always alternatives, and I might have been able to lay something on him."

57 Cohen's fans form a loose-knit cult. A convention was held in New York in June, while the Brighton festival presented an evening of Cohen's songs performed by Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright and others under the direction of Hal Willner.

58 Online, the faithful congregate at The webmaster is a Finn named Jarkko, who keeps a list of covers of Cohen's songs. So far, he has found 890, including 78 versions of Bird on a Wire, 44 of Hallelujah and 124 of Suzanne.

59 Hallelujah was covered by Kathryn Williams, the young British folk singer, on her album, Relations. At a recent concert she introduced it by saying, "I'd really, really, really like to shag Leonard Cohen, but I know his heart just couldn't take it."

60 In 1995 Cohen's manager, Kelley Lynch, put together Tower of Song, a set of his compositions sung by bigger stars including Sting and Bono. She asked Phil Collins, who turned her down. Cohen himself sent Collins a fax, saying: "Would Beethoven refuse the invitation of Mozart?" Collins faxed back: "No, unless Beethoven was on a world tour at the time." Cohen understood: "It's kind of a pain in the ass, to think about somebody else's dismal songs when you're not even in the studio."

61 As a marketing ploy, cafes in the US that had "the Leonard Cohen vibe" were sent a free copy of the Tower of Song album. "I'd like to go to some of those," Cohen said. "I can rarely locate my own vibe."

62 His best-selling songs on Napster are Suzanne and Hallelujah.

63 Cohen has probably the best manners in pop. When you ask how he is, he says, "Can't complain", as if he hadn't built a career on elegant lamentation. When he rings off, he says "So long", as he did, famously, to a lover named Marianne.

64 His songs have featured in dozens of films from McCabe and Mrs Miller to Natural Born Killers, and television dramas including The West Wing and The L Word. They provide an index of his rising stock: the log at lists 13 productions from the 70s and 80s, and 63 since 1990.

65 There's an episode of Absolutely Fabulous in which Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley go to an awards ceremony and Saunders has to make a speech. She is so drunk that she slurringly recites the words of Bird on a Wire. The audience doesn't appear to notice.

66 Cohen was much admired in 1960s France. The president, Georges Pompidou, was reputed to take his LPs on holiday, and it was said that if a Frenchwoman owned one record, it was likely to be by Cohen.

67 Cohen's latest published work is a self-portrait for the Canadian current-affairs magazine the Walrus.

68 He always has excellent backing vocals. "My voice sounds so much better when a woman is singing with me," he has said. "Some dismal quality is neutralised."

69 His son Adam is a singer-songwriter who has just released his second album, Melancolista, written in French. His daughter Lorca is a chef turned antiques dealer.

70 In 1994, Cohen said: "If you're going to think of yourself in this game, or in this tradition, and you start getting a swelled head about it, then you've really got to think about who you're talking about. You're not just talking about Randy Newman, who's fine, or Bob Dylan, who's sublime, you're talking about King David, Homer, Dante, Milton, Wordsworth, you're talking about the embodiment of our highest possibility. So I don't think it's particularly modest or virtuous to think of oneself as a minor poet. I really do feel the enormous luck I've had in being able to make a living, and to never have had to have written one word that I didn't want to write.
"But I don't fool myself, I know the game I'm in. When I wrote about Hank Williams 'A hundred floors above me in the tower of song', it's not some kind of inverse modesty. I know where Hank Williams stands in the history of popular song. Your Cheatin' Heart, songs like that, are sublime, in his own tradition, and I feel myself a very minor writer. I've taken a certain territory, and I've tried to maintain it and administrate it with the very best of my capacities. And I will continue to administrate this tiny territory until I'm too weak to do it. But I understand where this territory is."

· With acknowledgements to and Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen by Ira B Nadel (Bloomsbury, 1996). Leonard Cohen's album Dear Heather is out next month
Related articles25.05.2004: Review: Leonard Cohen tribute, Dome Concert Hall, BrightonUseful linksLeonard Cohen official site

Fab Four Frolics & Follies

Sometime in 1964, like everyone else I knew, I became acquainted with the Beatles. John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Railroad cars of narrative and literature are extant, within reach, right there under your noses. Besides the harmonies, the creativity, the uniqueness of the super group, short-lived together, and immortal in its pieces and survivors –what really sticks with me are the poetic lyrics of many of their songs. Following are just a few that I found, and want to share:

Can't Buy Me Love

Can't buy me love, love,
Can't buy me love.
I'll buy you a diamond ring my friend,
If it makes you feel alright,
I'll get you anything my friend,
If it makes you feel alright,
'Cause I don't care too much for money,
Money can't buy me love.

I'll give you all I've got to give,
If you say you love me too,
I may not have a lot to give,
But what I've got I'll give to you,
I don't care too much for money.
Money can't buy me love.

Can't buy me love, ev'rybody tells me so,
Can't buy me love, no, no, no, no.

Say you don't need no diamond rings,
And I'll be satisfied,
Tell me that you want the kind of things,
That money just can't buy,
I don't care too much for money.
Money can't buy me love.

Can't buy me love, ev'rybody tells me so,
Can't buy me love, no, no, no, no.
Say you don't need no diamond rings,
And I'll be satisfied,
Tell me that you want the kind of things,
That money just can't buy,
I don't care too much for money.
Money can't buy me love.
Can't buy me love, love,
Can't buy me love.

Paperback Writer

Paperback writer, paperback writer.
Dear Sir or Madam will you read my book,
It took me years to write will you take a look,
Based on a novel by a man named Lear,
And I need a job,
So I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer. I

t's a dirty story of a dirty man,
And his clinging wife doesn't understand.
His son is working for the Daily Mail,
It's a steady job,
But he wants to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

It's a thousand pages give or take a few,
I'll be writing more in a week or two,
I can make it longer if you like the style,
I can change it round,
And I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

If you really like it you can have the rights,
It could make a million for you overnight,
If you must return it you can send it here,
But I need a break,
And I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

Lady Madonna

Lady Madonna children at your feet
Wonder how you manage to make ends meet.
Who finds the money when you pay the rent?
Did you think that money was heaven sent?

Friday night arrives without a suitcase
Sunday morning creeping like nun
Monday's child has learned ot tie his bootlace.
See how they'll run.

Lady Madonna baby at your breast
Wonder how you manage to feed the rest.
See how they'll run.

Lady Madonna lying on the bed
Listen to the music playing in your head.
Tuesday afternoon is never ending
Wedn'sday morning papers didn't come
Thursday night your stockings needed mending.
See how they'll run.

Lady Madonna children at your feet
Wonder how you manage to make ends meet


You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world.

You tell me that it's evolution,
Well, you know
We all want to change the world.

But when you talk about destruction,
Don't you know that you can count me out. In.
Don't you know it's going to be alright,
Alright, alright.

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan.

You ask me for a contribution,
Well, you know
We all do what we can.

If you want money for people with minds that hate,
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait.
Don't you know it's going to be alright,
Alright, alright.

You say you'll change a constitution
Well, you know
We'd all love to change your head.

You tell me it's the institution,
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead.

But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao,
You ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow.
Don't you know it's going to be alright,
Alright, alright.

Hey Jude

Hey Jude don't make it bad,
Take a sad song and make it better,
Remember, to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.

Hey Jude don't be afraid,
You were made to go out and get her,
The minute you let her under your skin,
Then you begin to make it better.

And anytime you feel the pain,
Hey Jude refrain,
Don't carry the world upon your shoulders.
For well you know that it's a fool,
Who plays it cool,
By making his world a little colder.

Hey Jude don't let me down,
You have found her now go and get her,
Remember (Hey Jude) to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.

So let it out and let it in
Hey Jude begin,
You're waiting for someone to perform with.
And don't you know that it's just you.
Hey Jude, you'll do,
The movement you need is on your shoulder.

Hey Jude, don't make it bad,
Take a sad song and make it better,
Remember to let her under your skin,
Then you'll begin to make it all better,
better, better, better, better, better, better, ah!
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Hey Jude, Jude , Jude, Jude, Jude, yeah, yeah!
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Hey Jude.

Old Brown Shoe

I want a love that's right but right is only half of what's wrong,
I want a short haired girl who sometimes wears it twice as long.
I'm stepping out this old brown shoe,
Baby I'm in love with you,
I'm so glad you came here it won't be the same now I'm telling you.

You know you pick me up from where some try to drag me down,
And when I see your smile replacing ev'ry thoughtless frown,
Got me escaping from this zoo,
Baby I'm in love with you,
I'm so glad you came here it won't be the same now I'm telling you.

If I grow up I'll be a singer,
Wearing rings on every finger,
Not worrying what they or you say.
I'll live and love and maybe some day,
Who knows baby,
You may comfort me.

I may appear to be imperfect,
My love is something you can't reject,
I'm changing faster than the weather,
If you and me should get together,
Who knows baby
You may comfort me.

I want that love of yours
To miss that love is something I'd hate,
I'll make an early start I'm making sure that I'm not late,
For your sweet top lip I'm in the queue,
Baby I'm in love with you,
I'm so glad you came here it won't be the same now when I'm with you.
I'm so glad you came here it won't be the same now when I'm with you.

Yellow Submarine

In the town where I was born,
Lived a man who sailed the sea,
And he told us of his life,
In the land of submarines.

So we sailed on to the sun,
Till we found the sea of green,
And we lived beneath the waves,
In our yellow submarine.

We all live in a yellow submarine,
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine,
We all live in a yellow submarine,
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine,

And our friends are all aboard,
Many more of them live next door,
And the band begins to play.

We all live in a yellow submarine,
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine,
We all live in a yellow submarine,
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine,

As we live a life of ease,
Everyone of us has all we need,
Sky of blue and sea of green,
In our yellow submarine.

We all live in a yellow submarine,
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine,
We all live in a yellow submarine,
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine.

Hey Bulldog

Sheep dog standing in the rain.
Bull frog doing it again.
Some kind of happiness is measured out in miles.
What makes you think you're something special when you smile.

Child-like yeah, no one understands.
Jack-knife in your sweaty hands.
Some kind of innocence is measured out in years.
You don't know what it's like to listen to your fears.

You can talk to me,
You can talk to me,
You can talk to me,
If you're lonely you can talk to me (yeah!)

Big man walking in the park
Wigwam frightened of the dark
Some kind of solitude measured out in you.
You think you know it but you haven't got a clue.

You can talk to me,
You can talk to me,
You can talk to me,
If you're lonely you can talk to me (yeah!)

Hey bulldog, hey bulldog, hey bulldog
Hey, bulldog,
Wha'd'ya say?
I said woof!
D'y'know any more?
Wowu-wa Ah!

Come Together

Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly
He got joo-joo eyeball he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please
He wear no shoeshine he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola
He say "I know you, you know me"
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free

Come together right now over me
He bag production he got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard he one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his arms so you can feel his disease
Come together right now over me

He roller-coaster he got early warning
He got muddy water he one mojo filter
He say "One and one and one is three"
Got to be good-looking 'cause he's so hard to see
Come together right now over me

Maxwell's Silver Hammer

Joan was quizzical studied pataphysical science in the home
Late night all alone with a test-tube,
Oh oh, oh oh.

Maxwell Edison majoring in medicine calls her on the phone,
Can I take you to the pictures Joan.
But as she's getting ready to go, a knock come on the door.

Bang bang Maxwell's silver hammer came down upon her head,
Bang bang Maxwell's silver hammer made sure that she was dead.

Back in school again,
Maxwell plays the fool again, teacher gets annoyed,
Wishing to avoid an unpleasant scene,
She tells Max to stay when the class has gone away,
So he waits behind,
Writing fifty times I must not be so

But when she turns her back on the boy, he creeps up from behind,
Bang bang Maxwell's silver hammer came down upon her head,
Bang bang Maxwell's silver hammer made sure that she was dead.

P.C. thirty-one said, we've caught a dirty one,
Maxwell stands alone
Painting testimonial pictures oh oh oh oh.

Rose and Valerie screaming from the gallery say he must go free.
The judge does not agree and he tells them so oh oh.

But as the words are leaving his lips, a noise comes from behind,
Bang bang Maxwell's silver hammer came down upon his head,
Bang bang Maxwell's silver hammer made sure that he was dead.
Silver hammer man.

You Never Give Me Your Money

You never give me your money
You only give me your funny paper
And in the middle of negotiations you break down

I never give you my number
I only give you my situation
And in the middle of investigation I break down.

Out of college money spent
See no future pay no rent.
All the money's gone, nowhere to go.

Any Jobber got the sack,
Monday morning turning back.
Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go.
But oh all that magic feeling nowhere to go.

One sweet dream
Pick up the bags and get in the limousine.
Soon we'll be away from here.
Step on the gas and wipe that tear away,
One sweet dream came true today, came true today.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
All good children go to heaven

Mean Mr. Mustard

Mean Mister Mustard sleeps in the park,
Shaves in the dark
Trying to save paper.
Sleeps in a hole in the road
Saving up to buy some clothes.
Keeps a ten bob note up his nose,
Such a mean old man, such a mean old man.

His sister Pam works in a shop,
She never stops, she's a go getter.
Takes him out to look at the Queen,
Only place that he's ever been.
Always shouts out something obscene,
Such a dirty old man, dirty old man.

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window

Oh look out
She came in through the bathroom window,
Protected by a silver spoon
But now she sucks her thumb and wonders
By the banks of her own lagoon

Didn't anybody tell her
Didn't anybody see
Sundays on the phone to Monday
Tuesdays on the phone to me.

She said she'd always been a dancer
She worked at fifteen clubs a day
And though she thought I knew the answer
Well I knew
I could not say.

And so I quit the police department
And got myself a steady job
And though she tried her best to help me
She could steal but she could not rob.

The Classroom


There is always time
for the black spider
to squat and spin
a soft sticky silken web
that catches flies
and other things,
or to eat
its mate;
for the regal tiger
to be hunted, slain, stripped,
and stuffed, or
flattened into someone's rug,
and given glass eyes
that can see no more;
for the fat frog
to bathe in the mud
and fill the night
with basso profundo serenades;
for the energetic monkey
to dance wildly
on the end of its chain,
while holding out
its begging cup;
for driftwood to pile up
dead white
and bleached on a beach,
like Atlas pick-up-sticks;
for a stamp to be licked
and slapped
on a letter
to be sent to Montana;
for an artist's brush
to spin circles
within circles,
overlapping lines
within lines,
what is perceived,
or what is dreamed of;
for an address book
with frayed edges
to be filled
with colorful names,
complete with the crossed-out ones
who have fled
the bosom
of this plane;
for a silver-coated mirror
to reflect
what is perceived,
or what is
dreamed of;
for a sulper-tipped wooden match
to be lit,
bursting the shadow places
bright and naked,
bathed in fire,
or its reflection;
for a goose quill
to be dipped
in blood
so that it may write
all the unspeakable things,
all the unscrupulous things,
all the wonderous things,
and the things unseen,
and only felt;
for a mortal man
to live
to learn
to love.

Glenn Buttkus 1965

A Lady Prepares


during twilight,
purrs with soft evening noises;
traffic lights suddenly brilliant,
headlights in chrome grills
snapping on;
street lights buzzing
just before they bathe the ground
with amber incandescence;
gliding through darkening water
flicking on their deck lights.

Then for a few golden moments
all the western windows catch fire,
and the shimmering orange icons
captured coldly
on the urban faces of glass,
silently lick at the ebony loins
of the night.

A city of shadows,
perching on those seven hills,
turns on,
and the deep saltwater bay at its feet
becomes a vast mirror
the garishly-lit steel canyons
of its unique skyline.

Glenn Buttkus 1987

I Sing the Body Electric

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was a big influence on me, helping me to understand that poetry was a wider window than I had assumed, and that it could encompass everything; that one could let the beauty of what they had experienced, or the tragedy, work through them --letting the imagery vault free in all directions; and what emerged could be, might be, probably is a "form" of poetry. Whitman never really was much of a success as a writer or poet. He struggled most of his long life, living penniless much of the time. Art will do that to you; unless you only practice in part-time like some of us.

A Clear Midnight

by Walt Whitman

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the
themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.

A noiseless patient spider

by Walt Whitman

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

A Woman Waits for Me

by Walt Whitman

A woman waits for me, she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of
the right man were lacking.

Sex contains all, bodies, souls,
Meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the
seminal milk,
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals, all the passions, loves,
beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow'd persons of the
These are contain'd in sex as parts of itself and justifications
of itself.

Without shame the man I like knows and avows the
deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those
women that are warm-blooded sufficient for me,
I see that they understand me and do not deny me,
I see that they are worthy of me, I will be the robust
husband of those women.

They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and blowing
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run,
strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right--they are calm, clear,
well-possess'd of themselves.

I draw you close to me, you women,
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own
sake, but for others' sakes,
Envelop'd in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.

It is I, you women, I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable, but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for these
States, I press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually, I listen to no entreaties,
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long
accumulated within me.

Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic
girls, new artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and
you interpenetrate now,
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as
I count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death,
immortality, I plant so lovingly now.

Among the Multitude

by Walt Whitman

Among the men and women, the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else—not parent, wife, husband, brother, child,
any nearer than I am;
Some are baffled—But that one is not—that one knows me.

Ah, lover and perfect equal!
I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint indirections;
And I, when I meet you, mean to discover you by the like in you.

I Hear America Singing

by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or
at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of
the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day--at night the party of young fellows,
robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

I Sing the Body Electric

by Walt Whitman


I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the bodywere not the soul, what is the soul?


The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself
balks account,
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

The expression of the face balks account,
But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of
his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist
and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.

The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and heads of women, the
folds of their dress, their style as we pass in the street, the
contour of their shape downwards,
The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen as he swims through
the transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up and rolls
silently to and from the heave of the water,
The bending forward and backward of rowers in row-boats, the
horse-man in his saddle,Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances,
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open
dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child, the farmer's daughter in the garden or
The young fellow hosing corn, the sleigh-driver driving his six
horses through the crowd,
The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys, quite grown, lusty,
good-natured, native-born, out on the vacant lot at sundown
after work,The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of love and resistance,
The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled over and blinding the eyes;
The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play of masculine
muscle through clean-setting trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes
suddenly again, and the listening on the alert,
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent head, the curv'd
neck and the counting;
Such-like I love--I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother's
breast with the little child,
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with
the firemen, and pause, listen, count.


I knew a man, a common farmer, the father of five sons,
And in them the fathers of sons, and in them the fathers of sons.

This man was a wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty of person,
The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his hair and
beard, the immeasurable meaning of his black eyes, the richness
and breadth of his manners,
These I used to go and visit him to see, he was wise also,
He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old, his sons were
massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced, handsome,
They and his daughters loved him, all who saw him loved him,
They did not love him by allowance, they loved him with personal
love,He drank water only, the blood show'd like scarlet through the
clear-brown skin of his face,
He was a frequent gunner and fisher, he sail'd his boat himself, he
had a fine one presented to him by a ship-joiner, he had
fowling-pieces presented to him by men that loved him,
When he went with his five sons and many grand-sons to hunt or fish,
you would pick him out as the most beautiful and vigorous of
the gang,You would wish long and long to be with him, you would wish to sit
by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other.


I have perceiv'd that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round
his or her neck for a moment, what is this then? I do not ask any more delight, I
swim in it as in a sea.
There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them,
and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well,
All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.


This is the female form,
A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot,
It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction,
I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor,
all falls aside but myself and it,
Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, and what
was expected of heaven or fear'd of hell, are now consumed,
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response
likewise ungovernable,
Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands all
diffused, mine too diffused,
Ebb stung by the flow and flow stung by the ebb, love-flesh swelling
and deliciously aching,
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of
love, white-blow and delirious nice,
Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the
prostrate dawn,
Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh'd day.

This the nucleus--after the child is born of woman, man is born
of woman,This the bath of birth, this the merge of small and large, and the
outlet again.

Be not ashamed women, your privilege encloses the rest, and is the
exit of the rest,
You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul.

The female contains all qualities and tempers them,
She is in her place and moves with perfect balance,
She is all things duly veil'd, she is both passive and active,
She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons as well as

As I see my soul reflected in Nature,
As I see through a mist,
One with inexpressible completeness,
sanity, beauty,
See the bent head and arms folded over the breast, the Female I see.


The male is not less the soul nor more, he too is in his place,
He too is all qualities, he is action and power,
The flush of the known universe is in him,
Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defiance become him well,
The wildest largest passions, bliss that is utmost, sorrow that is
utmost become him well, pride is for him,
The full-spread pride of man is calming and excellent to the soul,
Knowledge becomes him, he likes it always, he brings every thing to
the test of himself,
Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the sail he strikes
soundings at last only here,
(Where else does he strike soundings except here?)
The man's body is sacred and the woman's body is sacred,
No matter who it is, it is sacred--is it the meanest one in the
laborers' gang?Is it one of the dull-faced immigrants just landed on the wharf?
Each belongs here or anywhere just as much as the well-off, just as
much as you,
Each has his or her place in the procession.
(All is a procession,
The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion.)
Do you know so much yourself that you call the meanest ignorant?
Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight, and he or she has
no right to a sight?
Do you think matter has cohered together from its diffuse float, and
the soil is on the surface, and water runs and vegetation sprouts,
For you only, and not for him and her?


A man's body at auction,
(For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale,)
I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business.

Gentlemen look on this wonder,
Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it,
For it the globe lay preparing quintillions of years without one animal or plant,
For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily roll'd.

In this head the all-baffling brain,
In it and below it the makings of heroes.

Examine these limbs, red, black, or white, they are cunning in tendon and nerve,
They shall be stript that you may see them.
Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition,
Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant backbone and neck, flesh not flabby, good-sized
arms and legs,
And wonders within there yet.

Within there runs blood,
The same old blood! the same red-running blood!
There swells and jets a heart, there all passions, desires, reachings,
(Do you think they are not there because they are not express'd in
parlors and lecture-rooms?)
This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers
in their turns,
In him the start of populous states and rich republics,
Of him countless immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments.

How do you know who shall come from the offspring of his offspring
through the centuries?
(Who might you find you have come from yourself, if you could trace
back through the centuries?)


A woman's body at auction,
She too is not only herself, she is the teeming mother of mothers,
She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be mates to the mothers.

Have you ever loved the body of a woman?
Have you ever loved the body of a man?
Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all in all nations and
times all over the earth?

If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred,
And the glory and sweet of a man is the token of manhood untainted,
And in man or woman a clean, strong, firm-fibred body, is more beautiful
than the most beautiful face.
Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live body? or the fool
that corrupted her own live body?
For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot conceal themselves.


O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and women,
nor the likes of the parts of you,
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the likes of the
soul, (and that they are the soul,)
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my poems, and
that they are my poems,
Man's, woman's, child, youth's, wife's, husband's, mother's,
father's, young man's, young woman's poems,
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears,
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or
sleeping of the lids,Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,
Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the
ample side-round of the chest,
Upper-arm, armpit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, forefinger,
finger-joints, finger-nails,Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the backbone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
Leg-fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body
or of any one's body, male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping,
love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked
meat of the body,
The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward
toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the
marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health;
O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of
the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007



place of thunder,
place of mist and fog and rain;
crouching, nestling, hugging,
and sprawling large.
Place of secrets,
city with the scarred face;
metropolis, terminus, gateway.

Ancient abode of the whale hunter,
place where the sea bass meets
the rainbow trout,
where salt lies on lily pads.
City with the barrel chest,
gilded queen,
woman with a million lovers,
whore, old maid,
voluptuous, shameless, enchanting, bewitching, mesmerizing trollop.

Home for hobos,
furnace cave of fire-ice darkness.
Place of depravity, sin, debauchery, prostitution, rape, murder, mayhem,
and churches;
tall saintly spires that crop up
like crabgrass.
University den,
cackling hen,
cherishing and nourishing
her eggheads.

Fair hostess to the world,
retainer of toys
and space needles.
City of moss
and mud puddles,
host to cockroaches, silverfish, rats, and men.

Grifter, con artist, tourist trap, sultry siren,
Jessabel, madonna, frivolous flirt,
beautiful bitch.

Boating capitol,
port to a thousand thousand boats,
and hardy fishermen,
wharf for the weary.

Place of great belching factories,
maker of smog,
builder of war machines;
prolific beast.

Rival to all seven-hilled cities.
Place of my birth,
possessor of my soul;
my first love
and mistress.
I embrace you,
my city.

Glenn Buttkus March 1964

Hunter's Morn


In the damp early darkness,
An old man sat on a flat stump
with his long legs folded under him.
A 30-06 rested on his wool-covered knees.
His owl-like eyes fluttered,
peering through prisms.
His face was deeply lined,
as craggy as bark.
His arms were still strong.
The hunting rifle was not a burden,
that carved wood, black powder, and steel companion,
recalling bright yesterdays
when its barrel was hot from firing,
and the locker was jammed
with venison, grouse, and elk.
That shiny-spiraled deeply-bored and oiled barrel was cold now,
like the old man's hands and feet.
In his great chest, his heart was slack muscle.
It jumped and skipped and raised Cain,
until he could not enjoy the labor of hiking,
and catching his breath was a luxury.
His own body was fighting him,
as he had fought all of his days
against the bosses, the bastards, and the system,
with the intense passion of the Proletariat.
But his iron will was vastly stronger than his tired heart.
He would not give in, ever.
He would sit on that stump in the dark,
and wait for the sun.

As daybreak's breeze rustled through his thick hair,
his answer came to him pungent on the chill of the wind;
honeyed dew off wildflowers and grasses and pine trees,
sweet and natural.
He sniffed the air like an old bear,
his flaring nostrils suddenly laden
with the odor of huckleberries.
A perfect chorus of unseen birds
pierced the knotted fist within his chest,
and the molten morning warmed
his grizzled spirit.
A wild smile creased the leather of his face.
He struggled, knee-deep in buck brush, up the wet hillside.
there may not be meat today,
but by God,
there would be fruit.

Glenn Buttkus
February 1978

Flesh and Stone


Enshrouded in gray and green and ebony,
With the wind caressing the grass,
Shaking the sweet dew bubbles,
She is buried below the manicured turf,
Listening to the roar of diesels and jets,
to a tear rolling down a cheek,
to footsteps in the darkness.
Lying fallow,
Neath black ragged clouds,
Showered with gentle rain,
Soaking into the ground,
Cold and damp.

Kneeling in the short grass,
Nourished by maternal marrow,
With a handful of wild flowers,
Swathed in blue-black woolen from the sea and
close-cropped hair hidden in clean white canvas.
Eyes hardened in hell
are softened by the moment,
when a boy that was twisted into a man

A hand reaches out and touches stone.
A finger caresses a cold copper name;
the curves and length and breadth of it.
Silence and sunshine,
With nothing moving on the earth.
Yes, the raucous roar of planes,
and the drone of the freeway,
and the wind in the dandelions,
and the gushing of blood through veins;
all are stilled;
While soft flesh rubbed against rigid rock,
making no noise.

July 1967
Glenn Buttkus

Zippo White

Zippo White

Christmas Eve came,
and my youngest daughters arrived
to cook for me,
to celebrate,
to play cards,
and to phone their mother, who is
visiting our oldest daughter
in Maryland;
nesting in Baltimore,
playing with our two infant grandsons;
one brand new,
and one not.

My girls stayed
until I was
hoping to make me
forget about
the fretful fact
that after all
I was home

Christmas dawned
cold, wet, and gray,
just perfect;
nothing in climate
to impede my journey
to join friends for
a scrumptious holiday breakfast;
mounds of butter-fried French toast,
flipped about in huge black pans,
smothered in spicy sausage,
lean bacon and fresh fat eggs.

I ate and ate until
I had to stop
to clean off the apricot syrup
from my green Xmas vest,
and to breathe,
and to loosen
my wide belt.

As we chatted and laughed,
warm and snug
in dim illumination,
surrounded by a sparkling spectrum
of holiday bulbs,
bright colors hanging
attached to
twinkling and tweaking
jovial thoughts
of Christmas past,
something moving
something falling
caught my eye.

My God,
it was snowing;
fat pointy flakes of white;
first a few squads,
then battalions,
then whole armies,
covering they sky.

Holy Jesus,
a world turned white
on Christmas day
in Puget Sound;
sort of.

But hey,
as I ventured forth,
this mini-blizzard
was no more;
for it had become snain,
or was it raow –
those overweight, overwrought drops
that slapped my windshield
and the pavement,
like you would slap
the bad dog
with a rolled up newspaper.

I met up
with another flock
of friends,
and we went to a comic movie
along with half the population
of Tacoma.
Hell, doesn’t anyone
stay home
on Christmas
any more?

I was then graciously invited
to another family gathering
for Christmas dinner.
I politely declined the offer,
not wanting to be that
pitiful old fool
dragged lovingly in
out of the cold;
to be fed and fussed over;
dropped down hard
midst a swarm of
somebody’s in-laws,
and such.

I fled
but a few short Yuletide hours
later, I did feel
hunger’s prick,
and I realized
I had to pay it heed.
Nothing in a can,
and nothing nestled
in the freezer,
seemed to be significant enough,
or festive enough,
to fit the fare of my mind.

I crawled into my vehicle
and roamed the wetness,
staring into decorated windows
at divers family gatherings,
and at scores
of darkened premises,
all with those smart assed signs
taunting me;
“Closed for Christmas”.
But I drove on,
traveling in vast circles,
harboring the notion
that somewhere,
there would be room at the Inn,
with proper sustenance on the table.

Sweet Jesus,
my lonely crusade
garnered gold,
surrounding the neon
letters that spelled
I swung into the place
with a smile on my face;
parked, locked up, and rushed the door;
marveling at the full parking lot.

They sat me down in a large booth
and presented me with
their one page menu,
giving me a sparse ten choices
of “holiday specials”.
I heard my voice ordering
meat loaf, home fries, and apple sauce;
how appetizing it seemed,
as I waited,
sipping my strong café coffee.

Suddenly though,
I was overwhelmed with
I mean what kind of people
came to Denny’s
for their Christmas dinner?
Looking around I saw
all kinds;
full families, street people, street walkers,
truck drivers, and three old ladies,
some in work clothes,
some in church clothes;
all of them staring
back at me.
Damn it, I thought,
this is no place
for a man
like me!
Yet there I sat
eagerly awaiting
my meat loaf, home fries,
and apple sauce.

I heard myself mutter,
as the food arrived,
I had no business
being depressed;
so I rolled up my sleeves
and I consumed the exotic
ground beef, bread, and peppered fat fries
as if it were the finest prime rib
served on shiny silver platters
by naked dancing girls.

Driving home,
I recalled this morning’s
Tacoma News Tribune headlines;
23 dead from a car bomb in Baghdad;
15 more dead from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan;
and the Armed Forces of the Empire of the United States
received as a treat today,
30,000 turkeys and a flat ton
of cranberry sauce;
and the All American City of Tacoma counted
800 homeless souls
who had jammed up
the missions and flophouses
last night.

Just another day in the life,
no better,
no worse
than hundreds of others
that transpired in 2007.
Let’s take a shot
at World peace,
better treatment of our planet,
and electing a woman
or black man
then Christmas 2008
would shine.

Glenn Buttkus 2007