Poem a Day #30 – Leonard Cohen in Cuba

Posted: April 30, 2014 in experimental, NaPoWriMo, poetry
Tags: ,


Final poem for April 2014. Today, for I think the first time, I’ve used the prompt from the NaPoWriMo web page. Actually, it’s yesterday’s prompt as they are a day behind Australia.  It gives a complex 20 step recipe for a poem e.g.:

1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.


I followed the instructions closely, and then massaged the results. For instance I relocated the poem to Cuba, which I visited about 8 years ago. The result does not necessarily make sense, but, as an experimental poem written within specified constraints, I think it’s sort of interesting. Only after finishing this draft did I find that Cohen actually went to Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion (read about it here) – don’t know whether that came from my subconscious or is pure coincidence.

Leonard Cohen in Cuba

Over Havana

the sun is eclipsed.


In the false dusk

the cab-drivers

are like porn stars


The street beggars yearn

for the touch of skin.

Their beds are of cardboard

scented with cheap rum


In the bars,

there is salt

on the rims

of the glasses


but the punters

can only taste collapse

and endure the complaints

of disappointed women


Leonard comes to town.

He corrects me:

“It wasn’t cardboard,

it was newspaper.

They stank of urine not rum.

and these cigars are utter tosh”

“Llame a la policía!” he shrieks


The bars are flooded

in a freak storm.

The cab-drivers go home

for dinner with their families.


On Sunday,

the ceiling collapses

from the weight of expectations.


The embassy recommends

we move to a monastery

safe from the police

and the constant

attentions of the jineteros


Leonard sneers

at his entourage.

The boss is unimpressed.

“It will end in tears” he warns


The belligerent nuns

whisper that the drunken priests

are the only ones

to be trusted


 © Mike Hopkins 2014
  1. Rob Walker says:

    Good one to finish on Mike. I especially like “the ceiling collapses

    from the weight of expectations.”

  2. Jen says:

    This is mysteriously interesting to me. Quite surreal, actually. Well done you, you finished! We’ve finished for another year…or maybe we should do another one in September? Jen :-)

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