Friday, 4 April 2014

Romeo



I have a little note at home, written on Canadian Senate letterhead, signed by Romeo Dallaire himself. That gem sits in my jewelry box and is probably the most precious item in there, next to my grandmother's ring.

It was a number of years ago that I sent a copy of my book Hooligans to Mr. Dallaire. You see, I had written the poem below, for him and I wanted him to know and to read the poem. After all, Romeo Dallaire is one of my heroes. To my utter surprise several weeks after I had mailed the book off to his office, I received this wonderful, tiny envelope. Inside a few choice words, typed, and then, at the bottom, his signature. It meant the world to me and still does. 
Dear Romeo

Today is October 7th and I am sad

a strange little man jumped in front of a subway car
the other day

I am confronted with wizened flowers
and smudged eulogies
as I enter the High Park station

the sun is warm and persistent
the man at the post office –black as tar-
smiles at me
as if to say
“such things happen”
as if he knows what I am thinking
his mouth is precious
his tongue is true

today
not even the thought of Fermat’s theorem
can shake the sadness
and I think of you
not motion
as I run my fingers along
the cool metal of my bicycle
what did you tell the allies when they came?
could they see
the pictures in your head?

I try to recall playing cowboys and Indians
in the days before we discovered the voice of John Lee Hooker
whatever you did is alright
I am only angry with you
because of what you saw
and because you then told me
I carried your book with me through three seasons
it was like an uncharted melody
that moment during childhood
when you realize the meaning
of a very small word
and suddenly
where happiness was once an entire hemisphere
you find yourself standing on only an inch or two of possibility

I have to tell you
David McFadden wrote an entire book
called “Why Are You So Sad?”
It’s a book of poems
and he is a sad Canadian like you and I
his heart is not bent though
he knows how to stop the chaos

I run for miles
to outrun my own self
outrun my footprints
your insomnia
the hate

right
left
right
invisible rhythms of breath
something resembling peace
then waves of rhythm
and beats
drumming and bullets
pounding and machetes
last breaths

this is the thirty fourth letter I have written you
and never sent
I am sad Romeo.


No movie talk today, just a little John Lee Hooker to get us through the April blahs...

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