Linked Arms

Ten days ago I was invited to read for the 10th anniversary, and as it happens, final iteration of Bridge Songs—a gathering of song, spoken word and art. The following is one of the poems I was privileged to read. It’s a journal entry from a darker time, that ended up as a poem.

Dedicated to Bridge Songs and all of us…broken hallelujahs.

Linked Arms

When Jeff Buckley sings Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah the world must weep,
and should you hear the song long before dawn and have it catch you
without your daytime defences up, you too,
in that small dimly-lit moment of being within the place of an-other,
may weep, and suddenly, or suddenly again,
know the hurt and loneliness a friend endures, a family member undergoes,
or some other soul in your circle, bears,
and in the anguish of this necessary knowing,
you are carried into the morning—alive.

For we are not people who have seen the light,
we are, every one of us, broken hallelujahs,
we feel the cold loss of parting, of pain,
and we spend part of each day praying, for ways to carry on,
and after our bargaining is done, after the song ends, it turns out
we do not carry on by way of revelation, or by any private victory,
or by devotion or discipline or by being on the side of right,
we move on, and bear our being, only,
by way of linked arms.


  1. I listened to his version several times, also Leonard Cohen’s version. I wondered where one might find more of the 80 verses Cohen apparently wrote.
    Appreciate your reflections on how we carry on.

  2. Hi Sam, There’s an entire book about this song called “The Holy or the Broken” by Alan Light. It goes into the copious amount of verses and the many, many people who have covered this song.

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