Poetry By Way of Apology, and Do Lyrics Count?

First off, my apologies for the lateness of this post.  I spent the day at a symposium on Feminist Pedagogies: Interdisciplinarity, Transnational Practices, and Production of Knowledge.  Two of my favorite things in academics are feminist theory and pedagogical theory, so I was really looking forward to the talks.  It was highly enjoyable, extremely enlightening and informative, and very very exhausting.  I am always amazed how tired I can get when essentially all I’m doing is sitting around listening to people talk.  But it is extremely mentally draining.

Anyway, I had hoped to get a post up last night, or early this morning.  But as you can see, neither of those things happened.  So, by way of apology I am offering up another one of my poems as a sacrifice, as well as one of my favorite poems by a brilliant poet.

First, here’s one of my poems.  I’m not going to go into any background on this one, except to say that it was written in 2007, and is one of the few I’ve written that is essentially the same from first draft to end result, except for a few words here or there.

“Death Wish”

angry screaming over pounding bass

guitars screeching through a million notes

that is how your life has always been

riding whining motorcycles

hair catching the wind in a golden net

fierce eyes gleaming silver in the sun

as you grin, playing chicken with Death

cling to your smiling nonchalance

wield your flashing knives and razor tongue

kneel and kiss their barren graves –

the family that you couldn’t keep –

and wonder why you never cry

but don’t tell a soul that you’re bleeding

search for answers in half-smoked cigarettes

and empty bottles of tequila

in the end, Life’s a vindictive bitch

and you laugh and dare her to prove you wrong

and as the jello shots and cigarettes

fade from your blood, and your sleek, fast bikes

weigh down your wings more than they set you free

you yearn more than ever to feel

the earth fall away beneath you

weep then at their bitter graves

for the first and only time

and smile for the taste of Death is sweet

a high cliff on the blue horizon

is attractive to a troubled soul

go ahead and jump…  I’ll bet you can fly

And now, a poem by a brilliant poet, one of my favorites.  I’ll tell you who it is after you read it (though some of you, no doubt, will know right away).

“Famous Blue Raincoat”

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

That night that you planned to go clear

Did you ever go clear?


Ah, 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

And 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

Well, 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 you stood in my way


If you ever come by here for Jane or for me

Well, your enemy is sleeping and 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

So, yes, for those who knew and those who didn’t, this “poem” is actually a song by Leonard Cohen.  On top of the many albums he’s produced, he’s published books of poetry, which include many of his songs as well as poetry written strictly AS poetry.  As I mentioned once before, songs – at least SOME songs – definitely count as poetry.  Some of it is, in fact, extremely beautiful and powerful poetry.  And Leonard Cohen is an absolutely brilliant poet, whether he’s writing strict poetry or music.  I highly suggest going online and just looking at some of his other songs/poetry.  Everything he writes is gold.

So, do you think songs count as poetry?  What musicians/song-writers do think of as poets?  Any particular song/poems you’d like to share?

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