Poetry

Different Sides

We find ourselves on different sides
Of a line that nobody drew
Though it all may be one in the higher eye
Down here where we live it is two

I to my side call the meek and the mild
You to your side call the Word
By virtue of suffering I claim to have won
You claim to have never been heard

Both of us say there are laws to obey
But frankly I don’t like your tone
You want to change the way I make love
I want to leave it alone (I want to leave it . . .)

The pull of the moon the thrust of the sun
And thus the ocean is crossed
The waters are blessed while a shadowy guest
Kindles a light for the lost

Both of us say there are laws to obey . . .

Down in the valley the famine goes on
The famine up on the hill
I say that you shouldn’t you couldn’t you can’t
You say that you must and you will

Both of us say there are laws to obey . . .

You want to live where the suffering is
I want to get out of town
C’mon baby give me a kiss
Stop writing everything down

Both of us say there are laws to obey
But frankly I don’t like your tone
You want to change the way I make love
I want to leave it alone

Both of us say there are laws to obey . . .

This appeared in the March 2012 issue.

Leonard Cohen was an ordained Zen Buddhist monk and a celebrated wordsmith.