she ordered a donut and a coffee
he did the same; waitress poured
the coffee as she began
“this isn’t working,” she said
“you drink all night and write
your little stories” she continued
he stared at the black liquid
watching his reflection, wincing
at certain inflections
“i am not a child,” he mumbled,
his stomach grumbling, as he
thumb through a menu
he grabs the waitress by the wrist,
insists on changing his order, she (the wife)
“i will take the lumberjacks omelet and
some chocolate cake”
“cake, for breakfast,” she yells.
“yes, i am celebrating, today,” he replies.
“i’m getting out of hell today.”
- Savage Henry Lee, of savageleewriting.tumblr.com
Leonard Cohen is a trope. He is a trope of life in Montreal.
I live in Montreal, but I am not a trope.
Leonard is greasy, greasy like poutine at 3 in the morning, like a wink from a guy who has not showered in two weeks.
I am not greasy. I shower, usually. I don’t know how to cry in a way that is musical. I am soggy, and ugly, and orange peels dry next to the Kleenex near my bed.
Leonard Cohen never left Montreal for good. I can’t picture him going through baggage check. How do you check the music? Excuse me sir, this music is terrorizing me. I feel threatened. You have stolen a piece of my dogma, the personal truth I require to get through the day.
Some people are depressed, and they steal the soul out of you with quiet melancholy.
Leonard Cohen drew people in with dark hysteria, subtle caresses interlaced with the spark of orgasming stars.
I am not Leonard Cohen, because I spend my days writing essays and drinking too much coffee, my nights dreaming of peaceful ways to be.
I am not Leonard Cohen, because I draw my arms around myself, tightly, praying that the boat I have found myself in will sink and I will not be alone. I do not know how to stare deeply into the depths of a glass and have a crowd draw near to watch me, hoping I will look up from the liquid to chart the lines of baby-fat shaped faces.
I would not be a trope anywhere.
I pass silently through the crowds at Mount Royal, through the tam tam drummers, the groups of adults hugging the child they miss through hazy lines of powders designed with cautious chemistry, dancing with cryptic clarity drawn out of rich green smoke.
I say hi.
I stop, I converse.
Leonard Cohen would make an appearance, and draw a crowd of lips eager to draw out words from his soul, seeking to smother him with their own designs of his heart.
I will never be the child of legend. Leonard, he was never handsome, but he also never suffered the indignity of pretty. Pretty is what is crippled by a comparison to beauty. Leonard, you were beautiful in the pauses and nouns, a stop and a comma, a caressing line break.
Mark Twain, he knew the churches, he knew the urge to throw a brick right through them. He knew the magic of sinning next to God, the privileged seat from which to lick the colours slowly out of bleeding stained glass windows.
Leonard, you travelled through the garbage-ridden fields, the star of David to your back, the Morning Star perched on your shoulder, a lovely monument to life.
I rode on a bike up from downtown, to Mile End. It was warm. We stopped, a friend and I; we got a bottle of wine, and walked with conscious weight of youth, the challenge of spending coins while they still exist pressing tight around our thoughts.
What’s the point in living well, if there is too much time left? Of obeying a master who never comes home to check that you are true?
The seconds tick by in nodding heads, pressed to the page with smeared lipstick, the guarded stripe of resentment corrupted by too many years of jumping from bed to bed, head to head, cursing the memory of wine and bread.
The body wants to live like you, Leonard, but the soul rebels; it dances towards the light of hangover free days. It knows it may live on. It knows that it may be born again and born again and the pattern will never change or be covered over.
I am just some soul looking for a mentor, and Leonard, you made a role I can never fill, not with red lipstick or dark-browed strangers. Leonard, my elbows tilt down to the earth, my palms seek out the sky - I am not ready to give up on the game, but my dreams are burning up with the relentlessness of made-in-China calendars.
I am waiting for a train, riding to give God head in some perfect land, but my room is painted with the bricks of books and a reason that always fails me, I am gone, I am gone, I am the mediocre failure.
Leonard, you always were bourgeois. You were the child of privilege - and me, I was another, another sort. Your sycophantic gifts got you laid in parks of sunny dirt, I am a pedantic ritualized Sister, counting boxes of saved “love-you”s.
Leonard, I will never live up to the mold that you sung, this city is yours, I will never be but a note in your song. I want to give up, sitting on couches and talking of God and Nietzsche, of sex and power, which are the same thing after all, but still, but still - to grasp at the body of others, to frantically hold on to that strip of solidarity that glues me to life - how inherently glorious.
I am a cyclic season, a quiet condemnation of everything you and I have ever done. I am the light you turn out in your room. I am not here, and I will not be here soon. I was never like you, and I never feel quite alive.
We rode down the hill, talking of the ordinary like it was something, biking so close to the trope, so close that I nearly died. Yes police officer, I understand, I nearly died. You must understand, I have already prayed, and I nearly became resigned. I laughed so hard, so earnestly, you must believe me, I was resigned to it all, the oblivion, the meaninglessness, the eternal confusion, the intricacies of life.
Leonard, how many times did you accept that you will die?
When I was little
There was a small black dog
(That my friends dad owned)
Up the road from my house
That my dad always told me
To stay away from
Because he was always barking
Which was supposed to mean
That he wasn’t nice
And my dad
Just didn’t want me to get hurt.
I never really listened
When there was a chance of getting hurt.
I always liked the idea
Of defying the powers that be
And laughing at them (respectfully)
When I came out fine.
I went to the house where this dog lived
To see if my friend Joey was there
While my dad was working in the garden
She wasn’t home
But the dog was.
Sheko was his name;
Just a small old blind thing
Scared of practically everything
Which is why he was always growling.
I could see this and I always thought
That I was good with animals
So I cautiously put out my hand
(Like I’d seen somewhere on tv)
And let him smell me.
He calmed down after that and
Almost immediately stopped his growl
Then stepped closer
So I could pet him.
After that I’d come to see him regularly
Even when Joey wasn’t home
And I’d pet him and tell him
That he had pretty eyes
Even though they didn’t work.
I like to compare Sheko
To the people I see around
If I were to put my hand out
And give them attention (and affection)
Would they be like him
And accept it kindly and gratefully
Or would they turn out
To be like my father said Sheko was
And turn and bite my hand
The first chance they got?
If you wrote your works with your other hand, would they have a different slant? Poetry or prose, you might let each hand try its preference in answering.
There is no question in admitting power belongs in the right hands.
The proprioception of how it sits, comfortable in royal blue, straight-spined, demands acknowledgment and owns the page with rambling cursive and polysyllabic ease
the other, more sinister
leans rakish towards
with wobbling stature,
movement stiff and unnatural,
words slip off straight lines
pages made mess
What do you think,
about a relationship
pure random chance
I don’t know
walk past me again
and ask me.
you don’t know me
Am I to be thwarted?
just take it easy and go slow.
I can do that,
I just don’t want to,
I’ve been going slow all my life,
I just didn’t want to seem
like I’d give it away.
I’d never assume he smiled,
just while away the afternoon with me.
My name is X. At age ten, I discovered things which are not proper to my age. I started watching them and discovered how to play with mine. My mother caught me, and so I was punished.
My name is X. At age eleven, someone pursued me in doing naughty things through the internet and cellphone. I didn’t know if I were innocent or not, but I did it with him. My parents caught me. For two years, I had no means of communication.
My name is X. At age thirteen, I did naughty things with someone I don’t know in the internet. He told me he loved me. I believed him. In return, I did what he wanted me to do.
My name is X. At age fourteen, I cut my wrist for disappointing my parents once again. I’ve done something stupid because I do things upon emotions. It felt good, but it felt disgusting in the end.
My name is X, and I don’t think I’ll be able to live with this skin anymore.
Be brave and learn to say:
I am sorry or
I was wrong or
I don’t know if I love you.
Be brave and learn to say
all the things
you would want to hear
if you were hurt
or waiting around for someone
to make up their mind
about your heart.
Be brave and remember:
empathy is a muscle.
It doesn’t get stronger
with out a little bit
of hard work
and, most of all,
a lot of self-inflicted
I spent a significant part of my childhood imagining that I was special in some unique way that no one else could see. I would jump from heights silently hoping that this time, this time, I would awaken a latent ability that would keep me airborne. Sadly, I fell every single time. But I was only disheartened for a moment, I would stretch every single muscle on my back until I was absolutely sure that there were no wings hidden beneath the layer of skin. I could feel it somewhere inside that if I tried hard enough, believed, I was going to do something amazing. I’ve dreamed of flying for so long, I feel as if I should have given up a long time ago, yet I still find myself falling to those old habits - jumping off heights, willing my back to sprout wings - and it makes me wonder why I’ve held on to such a dream for so long. The answer came at four in the morning after an interrupted nightmare, it’s the only dream I’ve ever had.
Jim Morrison is a beautiful man,
I heard him, snapping fingers,
on a radio when I was ten,
I asked “Daddy, who’s that man?”
He said “The Doors, Jim,”
like it they were the same,
all of them, one
Ray and Robby and John and James,
but one unit,
I liked that,
I like poetry,
I don’t know if you knew that,
(I hope you did,
this is a poem
and Jim wrote poetry
but mostly he just sang
and felt sad
and drank a lot
and took lots of drugs,
and I’m still in love with him,
because I like that shit,
Jim Morrison is on my wall,
and he watches me when I sleep,
it’s kind of creepy, now that I think about it,
When I was twelve and my sun
was hidden by an eclipse,
I pulled out a Doors record,
it made me feel better,
so I fell in love with Jim
but also the whole band,
but also the whole world,
but also just with Jim,
And I tell that to people and they laugh and they mock,
he’s dead, Shannon, he’s long gone,
but that’s okay,
I love Jim Morrison
for the things he left behind,
I’m told he was an asshole in life anyway.
I really think you have to love like fire before you can be loved like water. You have to burn out a few times before you can let love soak in.
Am I okay?
But I haven’t got the foggiest idea as to what it is, exactly, that makes me not okay.
I sleep too much, I eat too little of the wrong kinds of food, I don’t drink enough water, don’t get enough exercise.
I hate the way everyone seems so goddamned happy. Even the sad people have so much… life… in them.
I’ve burned and soaked and lived and let parts of me die and all there really is now, you know, is to let myself become part of the dirt and the air, the woods and the mountains and the deserts.
But this thing that is me, this body, this “mound of flesh”, keeps on moving. Keeps on slithering along like some medieval monster, keeps on devouring the things that don’t belong to me. Like a swamp thing, like a desert rat, like a prehistoric dinosaur, it murders all good and spreads evil in its wake.
Is there more love? Is there different love? Is there anything left to learn?
I’m older than my parents. There’s something final, in that, that knowledge. They raise or neglect us to make us more like themselves…
What happens when you finally reach the point where you understand the base humanity of the place from whence you sprang?
I feel like fucking Hamlet.