better than darkness
is fake darkness
which swindles you
into necking with
your neighbor´s daughter

better than banks
are false banks
where you put
all your rough money
into legal tender

better than coffee
is blue coffee
which you drink
in your last bath
or sometimes waiting
for your shoes
to be dismantled

better than poetry
is my poetry
which refers
to everything
that is beautiful and
dignified, but is
neither of these itself

better than wild
is secretly wild
as when I am in my car
in the darkness of
a parking space
with a new friend

better than art
is repulsive art
which is shunned
by Hashem
and in the ensuing
I slip
into broadway theaters
and sit undetected
in the Hadassah section

better than greatness
is silly greatness
which stands me
on the shoulders
of my garage
the better to
drop all the eggs
into one basket

better than memory
is tricky memory
which is the juice
of patriotism and
national interest
and the fall of husbands
and all the Sad Show

better than darkness
is darkless
which is inkier, vaster
more profound
and eerily refrigerated -
filled with caves
and blinding tunnels
in which appear
beckoning dead relatives
and other religious

better than love
is rove
which is the Japanese
more refined
strangely erotic-
tiny serene people
with huge genitalia
but lighter than thought
comfortably installed
on an eyelash of mist
and living grimly
ever after
cooking, gardening
and raising kids

better than my mother
is your mother
who is still alive
while mine is dead
as a doornail

better than me
are you
kinder than me
are you
sweeter smarter faster
you you you
prettier than me
stronger than me
lonelier than me
I want to get to know you
better and better

Copyright © 1998 by Leonard Cohen.
Reprinted with permission.
All rights reserved.