George Elliott Clarke: Kaddish for Leonard Cohen (à la manière d’Allen Ginsberg)

KADDISH FOR LEONARD COHEN (à la manière d’Allen Ginsberg)
George Elliott Clarke
E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature, University of Toronto, Department of English & Parliamentary Poet Laureate

This terrible, irritable dawn—
This morning of Mourning
His obituary crowbars apart
Prophecy and Nostalgia….

Always native to Heaven,
Minting gleaming melodies,
Freeing a nailed-down Christ,
Obeying the mating-calls

Of mandolins and guitars, he
Never abstained from Liberty,
Never lost the Intelligence
Of Dylan-dark sunglasses

And light making masterpieces
Of shambles, or lighting up
Cages where lovers loll,
Lousy with tears and sighs….

Poet of Everything,
He transcended conclaves
Of critics, the murders
Of poets, all those copycats—

Sordid franchisees of blues—
Every presidency serving up
Immaculate Corruption, the stale,
white bread circulated with grease….

His insatiable suitcase,
Portaging Gog and Magog
(In eastern Quebec), Hydra,
Rue Main, Manhattan, Havana,

Pursued the ghosts of Glory
Parliaments of movie screens—
Fiestas of butterflies, and secret
Eros, Eros, everywhere….

After auditing the News,
I suffered the insomnia
Of steel nails, heads battered
Until drowsy, woozy in wood.

Eternity expires as eyes close–
Or we succumb to sobbing….
But the honest poet voids
The dirty mind of Grief,

Knows the poet’s grave
Is his deathless poems—
Dark, remorseless Beauty
Light that scalpels eyes open.

–George Elliott Clarke
7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17)