Friday, May 4, 2007

saint leonard

I've been a fan of Leonard Cohen's since before he picked up the guitar,
since I found a used copy of his then current book of poems Flowers for hitler
in a used bookstore in Buffalo New York in 1967. His novel, Beautiful Losers
made a devotee of me. The last few years I've been reading his new poems and
songs on a Finnish web site, some of his scandinavian friends put together
called the blackening pages. Over the past few years, due to some financial
shenanigans on the part of his former manager, he's had to acquiese and
release a new book and several albums to recoup his retirement funds.
While I was in the Jean Baker Cancer Lodge, Cohen's Book of Longing
was published by McClelland & Stewart and thanks to a couple of generous friends
I had it in my hot little hands in weeks and it was much better than I'd anticipated.
Poems, prayers, songs, piths and gists and drawings! Dozens of self portraits that aren't
so much a likeness as a pschological projection. It came at exactly the right time and
enabled laughter to enter the too serious realm of treatment. It fed my head and I felt
better, less alone. There's so many poems I'd love to read to you after dinner on the
bank of the river. One of my favorites is this one:


Out of the thousands
who are known,
or want to be known
as poets,
maybe one or two
are genuine
and the rest are fakes,
hanging around the sacred precints
trying to look like the real thing
needless to say
I am one.of the fakes,
And this is my story.

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the sweetest little song
his heart this big

Hornby Island by Goh Poh Seng (for Billy Little, who shared loved spots and fond friends)

Here on the headland by Downe's Point we case dreams to rise synchronous with eagles and gulls, all make-believe, egocentric, near to fanatical, else aim true to roam deep with Leviathan in the ocean's mind, free from perplexities and profundities such as bind the scheduled self Here is the arbutus grove whose trunks and branches tighten like nerves, twisted witnesses, victims of shapely winds which blow in always unseen, sweet from the south or coming cold from the north, from every direction the prevailing force of nature Wish I could emulate the arbutus slough off my thin skin as easily as these natives trees their bark from abrasion, disdain or design, unveiling the bare beauty of strong, hard wood beneath Over on Fossil Bay the rot of herring roe strewn amongst broken clam shells, dead crabs on dirty grey sand, exposed bedrock, thickened the morning air, but gave no cause for bereavement: these millions of botched birthings! And none also for the Salish, no open lamentation for a race almost obliterated without trace from their native habitat save a few totems, some evidences of middens, a score of petroglyphs of their guardian spirits carved a thousand years ago on smooth flat rock by the shore, of killer whales, Leviathans again, to guide their hunts, the destiny of their tribe. Having retraced them gently with finger tips, they now guide mine.

Halo by Patrick Herron (for Billy Little)

half of love plus half of half is halo and I don't believe in angels, no.