Albany

I’d been traveling,
I’d been traveling,
through woods and over fields
in the neighbourhood of Albany,
where true things lay concealed.

The blackbird that came with me,
in so strange a way pursued me
had proved the most diverting
company.

If I stopped a while to think
or to take a little drink,
he’d return to me and urge me
to continue.

At other times he’d linger
this purest of all singers,
and offer me some melody
or other;

each note floating free
with such delicacy of tone
that it pierced my heart
and elevated me,

but as night began to fall
I saw the bird no more
he that picked the secret
in my soul.

In Albany one springtime
long ago.

One for Leonard

Last night I didn’t say my prayers
but whispered Leonard Cohen songs instead.

They bathed my heart
in sorrow’s deepest glow

until I knew I wasn’t on my own
and then I slept.

Tonight I’ll mutter every
prayer I know

and one for Leonard

and if they sang his songs
in church,

I’d go

just once for Leonard.

Without knowing

I woke up this morning
to find snow

at the kitchen table
where the cat had been

before me
without knowing

expect more of the same tomorrow
said a voice on the radio

looking through clear glass
onto nothing

forsaken as snow
and loving it

loving this
without knowing

Even in sorrow

Grace dwells beneath the surface of everything
even in sorrow – especially there

this mystery cannot be unravelled
by reason in this world

I rise and feed the animals
before the first bird has stirred

we who dwell in shadows
rise up once more to plea

upon this new made morning
may grace rise up in me

and all humanity.

From wherever thought comes from

Innocence is preferable to guilt
emptiness more bearable than sorrow

this lodging house has many secret doors
the corridors we tread are long and narrow

I lay upon the bed all afternoon
and tried to pick a splinter from a wound

and though it came away a thousand times
the pain of it immediately resumed

from wherever thought comes from

even cold

twilight
and even the silence seems frozen

forty years ago
under a sky like this
we lay together in your flea-market fur
dreaming wild dreams out loud

I never knew anything could be so soft
nor meaningless things ever mean
so much

we were coming apart at the seams
back when friendship meant more than anything

even cold

proximity

I found that photograph
you sent me
just before we met

you were sitting alone with a group of friends
turned away
from the man on your immediate left

and I wondered who he might have been
with his close cropped hair
and shadowy chin

though obviously I am older
in some ways
I think I look like him

he sat in close proximity
though to you he was quite unknown

in the vicinity of our undoing
we whispered on the telephone

I suffer no more the longing
to put right
wrongs of the past

all has been forgiven now

I see clearly
there can be peace at last

ankle deep

everywhere you cannot be found
there you are –

scored in
the hills and highways

the arterial wounds of lovers
and those – like me

who don’t know what they’re doing
anymore

here we are
waiting for the silence to close in

standing ankle deep
knowing we must drown
to find you