After the blizzard
it was warm in the kitchen
where the angel-witch cooked.
All the survivors
crawled in from the avalanche:
the lost girls, bent heroines,
peacocks and choirboys,
pulled along by the wine
to canned soup and oranges,
looking for the revolution
that was always stillborn.
He was just another strategy
there in the churn
of dream-debris bobbing, plaintive
as old violins; scooped, angular,
scuffed but still thrumming.
His sorrows tempted me
but when I touched him
like a sore dog.
Finally the angel-witch
took him to Phoenix
and we were all stuck
with her snow and tomato soup.
some nonsense for Shay's Word List #18:
Note: My favorite song of Cohen's is the first I ever heard, Suzanne, released in '67. It was a part of this time I chose to write about, in particular, the blizzard of 1967, which I spent marooned in my best friend's apartment with J.J Cale's , the Doors' and Cohen's music, and a crowd of assorted misfits.
Some notes on the actual event:
"The Chicago blizzard of 1967 struck northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana on January 26–27, 1967, with a record-setting 23 inches ..snow fall in Chicago and its suburbs before the storm abated the next morning. As of January 2022, it remains the greatest snowfall in one storm in Chicago history..
The snow fell continuously in Chicago and surrounding areas from 5:02 am on Thursday, January 26 until 10:10 am Friday .. sources estimate [between] 20,000 - 50,000 cars and 800-1,100 buses [were]stranded...Gusts of 48 to 53 miles per hour..caused large snowdrifts..[and]..the blizzard closed both Midway Airport and O'Hare Airport. Ten-foot drifts covered the runways at Midway. Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley ordered city workers to clear city streets around the clock..the city was virtually shut down and area schools were closed."~wikipedia
Images: Cars stranded at Oakwood entrance to Lakeshore Drive, manipulated, Fair Use
Volkswagon Beetle stuck in snowdrift at Stockton and Diversey, manipulated, Fair Use
Both photos © the Chicago Tribune historical photos, January, 1967
That part about growling like a hurt dog illustrates the moment to perfection. Blizzards bend reality and everything changes from the normal day to day routine. Sometimes that's like a holiday and others it just makes everything harder. Some angel-witch always plays a better card, it seems, but it sounds like this guy was better not experienced any further. On a personal level, this flashed me back to the days in my 20s when I would crash at somebody's rental, and the fare was canned hash, grilled cheese, and contraband. I miss the BIG SNOWsof my youth, which we don't seem to get much anymore, but I don't miss being lost and rootless.ReplyDelete
You mentioned the Doors, and your title is close to "Soul Kitchen" which I happened to hear again recently. It's one of his most poetic lyrics and i had forgotten how good it was. It;s a kind of forgotten song. "The cars crawl past all stuffed with eyes..." Thanks so miuch for being part of the Word List, dear BFF.
Yeah, I was thinking of Soul Kitchen too as I wrote this.It was always a favorite. Coincidentally that album, The Doors, which also has Crystal Ship on it, was released in January of 67. I looked it up to make sure I could have actually heard it then.Delete
After that blizzard and down the street from you, there was some joy - me and my siblings building snow forts & such -- an Event -- but Inside the old sour soup was simmering on the stove, & the Scotch & the Sixties with its death-sour rebellions. I love the "angel-witch" simmering -- a mind yet a heart, which is Poetry in its better sense and love at its worst. (Though who has a choice?) Us kids were only innocent in that oven, but not for long.ReplyDelete
Thanks, B. I thought you might remember it, as it was the only occasion I can remember from my time in Evanston where the schools were closed by the weather. Glad you got to play snow engineer with your sibs. Innocence is a hard thing to keep hold of, then and now. But who indeed, has a choice. I decided to turn my face away from the grim with this one, but it's not a thing that goes away because you aren't looking.Delete
You never fail to wow me, Joy. I love this and the whole scene you cook up (no pun intended). Somehow I feel I'm in your kitchen, along with all the other bent heroines and peacocks. I simply adore these lines:ReplyDelete
as old violins"
"looking for the revolution
that was always stillborn."
"His sorrows tempted me
but when I touched him
like a sore dog."
The whole thing moves me <3 x
Thank you Sunra. I always appreciate your feedback.Delete
I love your Poem, I love your Photo choice. I've been given shelter on a few times. Snow on some. Coming home from high school I tackled a snow drift on the road that our pickup got stuck. Phone lines were still up and Dad came about six miles on his tractor to pull us, me driving with two younger cousins, on through the drift. We stayed warm, welcomed and nourished with that harboring neighbor.ReplyDelete
I had a 1962 beatle as my work car in 1967. No snow though as I had moved to Houston, TX, in 1964 for work. Mine had a cloth covered opening sun roof. No pictures that I know of.
This is terrific - I love the "survivors ... choirboys... pulled along by the wine" it feels like the children of the 60's coming in from the cold with their music and rebellion and trying to string the present into a future they could believe in. And of course that dream moved on and bit some folks and left others behind and some never looked back. Yet there was a time, what did Hunter Thompson say, that you could almost see the high-water mark in the hills around San Francisco? Hope, guessing, silly theories of the universe, bits and bobs that might make it all fit together. And that voice. So much lower in his later years, when I go back and listen to his younger work, at first I think hey! wait? Is that Leonard? Although I think the snow-witch took him to Montreal or such. I hope all the hippies and friends of his when he walked those streets as a teen and a young man were there to greet him on the other side. Come in out of the cold into a warm kitchen with all the weirdos and fools and brilliant love he'd collected along the way.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for getting it, and for your kind words, qbit. Yes,his voice became formidable and much deeper over the years--his last album had a song on it called Darkness, which seems to be a premonition of the coming plague, as well as of that eternal desire to have faith in the faithless. And as far as those times--I often wonder how we got from there to here, which is probably the lowest watermark so far for ,imo, civilization as a concept. Thanks again.Delete
growing up in sunny Cali, in a family not interested in snow, my first glimpse was the rarest of rarities - snow in Carmel, which didn't stick but did fall enough for the teachers to open the doors and let us out to romp before the magic departed. the closest thing to white that hit me and stick that year was seagull poop (not kidding).ReplyDelete
i was too young to grasp what happened in the 60s. i'm too old to grasp what chaos is happening now. but maybe I can just glimpse the magic you weave here ~
Yes, California is its own world in so many ways. I got taken there at about 12 by my grandparents to stay with my uncle and his family. They lived near Knott's Berry Farm. He settled there like so many when he got out of the service after WWII. I only saw the ocean from afar then. I spent more time playing with my cousins in the brand new suburbia they inhabited, very clean and very different than Chicago. Afa the 60's, they were a pretty lame outgrowth of the 50's on the adult level, but if you were young then, you knew you were born to change them, as I'm sure young people feel now(At least I hope so.) And we did, but I'm pretty sure it didn't stck. Thanks for coming by to shoot the breeze, M. and for reading.Delete