On Meeting Heroes in Dreams

A most unusual process. In previous sleeps, I have met Dylan, Lightfoot, on and on…Last night Leonard Cohen and Sinclair Ross–separate meetings, visits.

Cohen was 45, looking much as he did in Harry Rasky’s never-released-on-DVD documentary “The Song of Leonard Cohen”. It is a very puzzling, disappointing, and somewhat unflattering portrait of both men as Rasky tries to schmooze and get close to Cohen who becomes a role more than anything else, only becoming more open when his old friend Irving Layton barges into his apartment with his usual flamboyance like a circus wagon.

The Cohen I met admitted there were some problems with the documentary, but ultimately didn’t know why Rasky had withheld it from release today. He was fairly low key and cooperative. One interesting discovery was of a little-known album Cohen had recorded for an older label like Folkways in which he crooned a number of older songs along the lines of “The Tennessee Waltz” which he late put on a live album.

We talked of poetry and eventually I spoke a little about how I wrote. It was only then that his ‘crap detector’ emerged as he asked me questions about why this or that worked for me. I could see that nothing was ever easy or fixed about the way he himself approached his craft which probably accounted for the duality and irony of his poems and songs.

It was a brief meeting, but much more friendly and instructive than the cat-and-mouse, ‘put-on’ documentary that Rasky had once spent many months on.


Sinclair Ross was a shorter encounter. He was soft-spoken and somewhat cautious about revealing details of his life. He was a more reserved man, most likely with a stranger in this case. “Why would anybody ever want to know about me?” was his most telling remark.


The previous day had been one of household and outdoor work. A day concluding with a Bailey’s mini-glass of Caramel Bailey’s and a viewing Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in “The Abbey Grange”–the only mystery, I believe, in which Holmes let the killer and his love go. The only one in which a woman caught him off-guard, suddenly embracing him. Her gesture had shocked him with its spontaneous intimacy, leaving him thoughtful and rationalizing with Watson about why he let the couple escape.

It was a day in which irony emerged as a central theme (of education in general and my own life), something which I shared with my good writing friend. It was a day when I received e-flowers and then the real thing–orange lillies–from my daughter who popped in for a surprise morning visit. My birthday.

Way often leads unto way in larger process. Anyway such day episodes later gave way to the relaxed encounters with two favorite Canadian writers. As in Keats’ Negative capability, there is no longer any reaching after reason and explanation, only acceptance of what continues to be a rather odd, benevolent, peaceful flow to my days.

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