Friday, 27 April 2018

THE WORD (A DREAM, MONTREAL 1975): a poem

I was poking through an old notebook the other day, and found
this. I scribbled it down a year ago, and hadn't thought of it since,
but when I re-read it the actual dream came back to me. I've changed
the words a little, mostly to include details I took for granted in 
my sleep. I couldn't find a photo that looked right, though I did find
one of the building where I lived. The Word was a wonderful bookshop
just around the corner; run by Adrian and Lucy. It's still there, looking
a lot smarter than it does in that relatively contemporaneous photo.
The Star is long gone. I finally met August Kleinzahler at The Word 
one day in 1981, when I arrived to do a poetry reading at McGill,
after years of missing him in various places. He's not the badly dressed
guy in the suit. I do think the dream may reflect as much about
my present circumstances in Britain as it does about Montreal
in 1975. Though I note April 15th is the day US taxes are due.
The poem is published here for the first time. 



THE WORD (A DREAM, MONTREAL, 1975)

A man in a cheap gray gabardine suit, black
Fedora and a thin black undertakers' overcoat
Hanging off him like a shroud stops me 
As I clump through the icy drifts interred
On the corner of Milton & Lorne, by The Word.
It's 30 below. I'm wearing desert boots, fleece
Lined denim jacket, my Canadiens toque. He asks,
In flat declarative Midwestern American
English, to see my papers. Qui etes vous? I ask.
Your papers, he says. I was just on my way,
I say, to pick up a paper. The Star, or maybe
The Gazette if the Star's sold out. He shivers.
You think you're funny? We know who you are. 

15 April 2017

 

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I hope the hostile environment is not turning your dream into a nightmare.