Everybody knows…

Advent begins (thematically) in Apocalypse.  There’s no better way to get in the mood for the Apocalypse than listening to Leonard Cohen.  My daughter Grace took me to Cohen’s 2009 concert tour at Madison Square Garden a few weeks ago. 

The old man on his 2009 concert tour

I loved Leonard Cohen’s poetry before Judy Collins made “Suzanne” famous sometime in the sixties.  Boys serenaded me with “Suzanne” in high school and college, but my life’s sound track took on the colors and images of Leonard Cohen’s songs at every phase of my life.  And so, in a way this concert played my own life.  Surprisingly, a gazillion other people in Madison Square Garden clearly thought the same thing.  When invited to sing along – all gazillion people sang every word, including my daughter.   I cried several times.  Grace and I clung to each other more than once.

So getting ready for Advent, I’m singing “The Future” (Get ready for the future: it is murder) and “Everybody Knows” :

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded.  Everybody
rolls with their fingers crossed.  Everybody knows the
war is over.  Everybody knows the good guys lost.  Every-
body knows the fight was fixed: the poor stay poor, the
rich get rich.  That’s how it goes.  Everybody knows.

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking.  Everybody
knows the captain lied.  Everybody got this broken
feeling like their father or their dog just died.  Everybody
talking to their pockets.  Everybody wants a box of
chocolates and a long-stem rose.  Everybody knows.

Everybody knows that you love me, baby.  Everybody
knows that you really do.  Everybody knows that you’ve
been faithful, give or take a night or two.  Everybody
knows you’ve been discreet but there were so many
people you just had to meet without your clothes.  And
everybody knows.

Everybody knows that it’s now or never.  Everybody
knows that it’s me or you.  Everybody knows that you
live forever when you’ve done a line or two.  Everybody
knows the deal is rotten: Old Black Joe’s still picking
cotton for your ribbons and bows.  Everybody knows.

Everybody knows that the Plague is coming.  Every-
body knows that it’s moving fast.  Everybody knows
that the naked man and woman – just a shining
artifact of the past.  Everybody knows the scene is dead,
but there’s going to be a metre on your bed that will
disclose what everybody knows.

Everybody knows that you’re in trouble.  Everybody
knows what you’ve been through, from the bloody
cross on top of Calvary to the beach at Malibu.  Every-
body knows it’s coming apart: take one last look at this
Sacred Heart before it blows.  And everybody knows.

So why sing this stuff?  Because it’s cathartic.  Everybody knows – don’t they – about the dangers of monoculture, patenting seeds, chemicals and pesticides poisoning farmland, the threats to our food security?  Everybody knows – don’t they – about the world-wide financial crises caused by corporate greed?  Everybody knows about climate change and irreversible threats to life on this planet caused by human beings.  Everybody knows  how our policies and exploitations breed terrorism … 

Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll implode carrying what I know.  Living with the sisters can be hard, because they make it their prophetic Christian business “to know.”  Knowing begets a sense of apocalypse, not just in Advent.

Last verse of “The Future”

Things are going to slide in all directions
Won’t be nothing
Nothing you can measure any more
The blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned
the order of the soul
When they said REPENT
I wonder what they meant.

But that’s the second week of Advent.

My apocalypse-defying geraniums in the kitchen window of Saint Aidan's House, Bluestone Farm.

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One Response to “Everybody knows…”

  1. Deb Blakley Says:

    Thank you so much. I too grew into adulthood listening to, humming and singing the poetry of Leonard Cohen. Do you know The Song of Bernadett? So lovely. You spoke to my heart. I know, everybody knows and the river runs on, wild and unbridled and we but hang on and do what we are able to do, where we stand.

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