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poetry Two Poems by Eleanor Lerman

The poet explains the transition between these two poems and reveals a mordant humor.: "That Sure is My Little Dog," written some years ago, arose from what I felt at the time was a lack of political outrage on the left, particularly among younger people, but by the time of Occupy Wall Street, I was feeling more hopeful about my generation (the Woodstock era folks) passing the banner on to the next.generation. Which leads us to the second poem, "Leonard Cohen's Guitar."

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That Sure is My Little Dog

Yes, indeed, that is my house that I am carrying around

on my back like a bullet-proof shell and yes, that sure is

my little dog walking a hard road in hard boots. And

just wait until you see my girl, chomping on the chains

of fate with her mouth full of jagged steel. She’s damn

ready and so am I. What else did you expect from the

brainiacs of my generation? The survivors, the nonbelievers,

the oddball-outs with the Cuban Missile Crisis still

sizzling in our blood? Don’t tell me that you bought

our act, just because our worried parents (and believe me,

we’re nothing like them) taught us how to dress for work

and to speak as if we cared about our education. And

I guess the music fooled you: you thought we’d keep

the party going even to the edge of the abyss. Well,

too bad. It’s all yours now. Good luck on the ramparts.

What you want to watch for is when the sky shakes

itself free of kites and flies away. Have a nice day.

Leonard Cohen’s Guitar

Yes, comrades, the future is upon us

Your tickets will soon be in the mail

for the kind of concert where you are

nailed to your seat, and then the aliens

arrive to announce the end of the world

But you seem like the kind of overlooked attraction

who might be able to make it out the back

When you slip into the cosmos, save one of

the little dogs  and Leonard Cohen’s guitar,

which, having composed the hallelujah,

and undergone the transformation from tree

to plank to instrument, is changing still

Now it makes the kind of music that walks the roads

with a handsome mongrel, charming its way into

the record books and vowing never to give in

Eleanor Lerman lives in New York and is the author of a number of award-winning collections of poetry and fiction.  Her new novel, Radiomen, was published this year by The Permanent Press. She is a recipient of both NEA and Guggenheim fellowships.