Leonard Cohen in the Garden of England

The first time I learned of Cohen
Was as a Canadian in the back garden
Of a Kentish Town bedsit
One tube stop down from Camden.

In garden, smoking my cigarette
I heard some music from the window ledge
Convinced could be a famous British talent
It was indeed a musician.

With long flowing black hair
Behind the white wind swept curtain
The music stopped and he appeared, listened
Then said hello to me in his British accent.

“Hi, I’m Canadian,” I said, like an utter dimwit
jetlagged and intrigued by this Island.
He said, “Ah, from Canada, then
The Land of Leonard Cohen.”

I had been writing poetry in uni
Before I had been having sex.
I was writing about fucking, that and this
But hadn’t heard of Bukowski yet.

And so it was with Leonard Cohen
Hadn’t heard his songs or his poetry then
But the British chap hunted down my address
Mailed me flowers and a copy of “Beautiful Losers” by ’96.

But it took decades before I read it
And when I did, I loved it.
And it was House of Love, Chadwick and Bicks
Who’d turn me onto the covers disc.

“I’m Your Fan” – indeed I am
became because of Gary S Brittain in the garden.
But it was my own trips to Montreal and feeling soul in it
That turned me onto Cohen in the instant.

And the two bars of soap poem I read along the way
The simplicity but majesty he wrote of in his way
And the way he penned of fucking and love poetic
Oh you can’t explain it

So just walk Montreal, and you’ll know of it.

Sylvie Hill 2016