art by Geoffrey Wren (c)
(Passing Through) (for L. Cohen)
Crossing laneway between old colonial buildings,
remember reading about L. Cohen discussion of discipline
in his family before (leaving) his shoes neatly beneath the bed,
lined in rows the Westmount childhood house of his
Blossoms on the Plateau
scatter towards St. Laurent.
At a café, grab a late coffee, Mile End.
– Elated. Artwork to hang at Gallery ___ of
new punk energy competing with empty lots.
A poet encountered Cohen right near here chaotically sprawled
on a bench, static hat, shins crossed,
My father knew clothing, my father knew hats.
In every secret life,
Danceclatter spirit memories,
Reanimated, the dead no longer leave
Gather under pelican shaped eaves
Refugees – taking leave, returning quickly as they arrive–
By harbour, ships, disembarking planes
At official hearings destinies decided by immigration board
on appeal. O, Canada — We who betray everything
Searching landscapes beyond mythic voice,
first languages, anthologized wards
of mothertongue, come alive
to holy gathering, catchments of double-rainbows
above camera shop,
on The Main, to St. Catherine’s Street,
gauntlet to throw down bargaining for life
the Ascending of the
at the gated freight elevators
in a cessation of rain, orchestral loft curtains
and a cacophony of rattling glass
in choreographic time,
threaded hum of industrial needles, machines,
for fancy fabric, the manufacture of
ghost suits in factories.
Did the street lineaments of longing shape
an arc to the sun in melodic time,
Word became difference
– without a promised pound of flesh —
each visioning, wisteria proposing
darker awakening. To bow and Curtsy. The
– Oars of the St. Lawrence remaining as if
Hallucinatory – at a farther reach –
persuasive designs for some new
disguise. In rupture rapture———— Graffitied, the needle in thread, the lacuna. Stitches of erasure, (by attendant lay kept at bay) a homonym in nominal space Ofidentity en/closures.
When You Carry the Flag of Surrender
We aim for song. Tilt to embrace. First embouchure, embrace of red, then blue, a burning white beneath the stair corrodes coruscating struts. You waited to come back too long, already threat gave you a name. Beneath eyelids, the mourning bruised fifth notes. Minor armies, advancing packs of card sharks, upon arrival, slight a flock of black birds, ravens, and your sister’s husband’s brutal conundrum commences. It’s a war against nature. We guessed wrong. Planning for a siege at a craps table along the loneliest strip where hummingbirds dance a devious fandango, on with nightclub nightmares. You lifted up with urgency, the urge, to surrender, to carry the flag of surrender. (And safely, the albatross of snow glides ascending beyond Blake, rising to the Gate of Hell Wings shorn with fire). The yellowing book, it’s pages. If you are tired enough, you will fall asleep, fall into the arms of a boulder, spreading the night moth’s wings around you. On the ocean, the burning partisan’s ship sinks behind another neon moon. Affair Between the odd and even I shall be a tailor, sewing pockets with a wretched hand. A corruption, failure of the terms of service. I gave them nothing, willingly, I gave them nothing, undue dress. A shaky signature, handshake under duress, erasing distressed seams. The Committee of Horsemen and their capital wives Flying to a ceremonial, under cloak, the war’s convoy’s coverings Blanket the skies with parachutes. I shall be the uninvited guest, these twisted hands trembling, winter branches at calico windows, draperies. Obscene broncho – of obstreperous lineage. Startling twilight of starlings. Sinking Hesperus. Rain 1. The plane goes down It goes down It makes the sun turn a pale green a pale green Packages of jealous nauseous waitresses That know no limits know no limits In the charnel house in the charnel house 2. Confusion of smoke Bodies alight by the fairgrounds All the kisses you can punch for a dollar twenty five don’t be shy step Right up 3. Bop bop bopping for the wormy wordy words worthy apple of the jaundice eye another round of Government Propaganda For the Shiny Happy People 4. Free line dances for the people By the acid river backside pouring out toxic sludge 5. Captains of Productive Industrial stewardship on sacred ground whose ground sacred check the grainy almanac in the gun-sites of the Military Industrial complex 6. We capture captions speak in thought balloons Sometimes arrogant overtalking even The gentlest Master slips outside benign speaking behind a billboard for mouth wash cattle in the fields, lowing 7. “It will rain soon,” Mommy says to her six year old in Khakis amidst the smoke beneath the chocking ruins -- rains down historical memory 8. Insects rub their tentacled principal legs together make the beat of some new music written by the Karaoke Moon 9. We can count all of the ways that what was once here no longer is. Using an app with magic markers we make asemic marks on photographic paper. Is there hope of change? Are we impassioned? Poisoned? What lies beyond belief is belief in our own ability to change out of clothing make the New Man look possible available fallible as Merchandise. 1985 (A Drum) A Leonard Cohen concert New York, Carnegie Hall, At performance end, more people than one might imagine prepare for Rapture. From handbags & from under winter coats they rush towards the stage. A price of admittance. Recognizable is ritual. My old friend, with whom I attend, I shall never see again, while, Field Commander Cohen, Working for the Yankee Dollar, Takes Manhattan. Graciously bowing, catching in light and furious, bouquets of cornflowers and roses. The clarion call, in spot lit time trumpet flowers opening up pollen in a thousand-handed balcony.
Twitter: @frede_kenter @icefloe_P
Poems 2, 3 & 4 are inspired by Cohen’s poetry book “The Energy of Slaves”