Thomas L-A et al.

The birch bark ramblin's of a wanderin' fool.

November poem

“Man, don’t you know?
Addiction is just a reaction
to pain.”

ah I’m bleeding
over this pavement,
this mirror when it rains.
“Compassion from others,
that’ll be the only way.”

in my heart, in this vessel
holding onto belief
that the now
is where i want to be,
“Sorry, meant compassion to
yourself bro.”

but maybe swans sing
too quietly for me to hear,
and anytime I get near –
flight on white wings.
“You’ll have to be
in the pain”

now a moon under the water,
swaying with the stars.
i’m bleeding
i’m bleeding
and believing,
this pain will let me sing.
and in the distance,
i hear the wings
of a black swan at night.

a darkness


A Letter to Leonard Cohen

Started, March 2015
Somewhere in Italy.
Finished, November 7-10, 2016
Somewhere in Victoria.

Dear Mr. Cohen,

So I’m sending this because, well, what the hell. I doubt it will be read by you, likely a person who picks some sample of letters to give to you, but that’s not important right now. Hey, person hired by Cohen, I hope you give this to Leonard (just kidding, obviously I am shaped by Hollywood in these moments because I really have no idea how sending letters to a famous person works). I am just going to try speak from the heart, something you have done so well over the years.

I too am a Canadian Jew, but I am also a Cree man from northern Alberta. This has nothing to do with anything, but I wanted you to know that your music somehow found its way to a snowy reserve, and often my Dad would play you in town as a child or my mom would on the rez. What is more than any of this though, is that your songs have always resonated with my soul beyond small things like “race” and “nationality” and that is because I truly believe that to be a poet one is first a human. To be Canadian one is first a human. To be Cree one is first a human. To be a musician one is first a human. To be a traveler (I am on the road now, in another country, writing in a journal) one is first a human. Poetry for me has always been this most true expression, and then you throw in music and melody and there it is: timelessness and everything from me here to you there or even the fact that though you may never receive this, we both know you will.

This is “fan” of me, but your songs have truly carried me through some of the harder times in my life. When those I love have died, your song gave me a way to feel it. When I was so heartbroken and I truly thought it was the last time I could love that fully again, your songs came and gave a lost heart words (and sure enough there was always another door, often with another dance, often me learning new steps). When I needed to dance on grass barefooted you gave me a bottle of vino and said “so long!” And finally, those times when I truly didn’t think myself worthy of all the beauty that surrounded me everywhere, you came and said “here is some presence, think of that later”.

There is so much life, living or not, that moves the soul. We are in the middle of everything and are nothing at all and it is often overwhelming, so we see it, and sometimes turn away. We say “not today”, but this is no way to live, in pain or in love, because we are also that everything around us. We need it all, even the fear. I wish I had a way to express that in words, but I don’t now. All I know is this awareness of this great beauty also brings with it the awareness of pain. Pain even now, as I write now tonight knowing you died just earlier today, yet I write with the odd comfort in your living. Here your humanness plays through the speakers and life shines through and goes on in my little room… “There is a crack in everything, but that is how the light gets in.” I am cracked, and so are you, and so are we all. I want to share with you a poem I wrote, from one of those cracks on October 19th, 2016 while listening to Antony’s cover of your “If It Be Your Will” (forgive me on that, but man he really nails it). It was an extremely tough October my friend. Losing a best friend/cousin in a painful way and then losing some memories to a thief. But I have what’s important inside me. You will find the poem at the bottom.

You once said “We are so lightly here. It is in love we are made. In love we disappear.” Disappear in love, and take care old man. And take this letter with you.

(Actually, you will probably never receive this letter… but we both know that you will.)


T. Laboucan-Avirom

Poem 19/10/2016
Creator, if it is your will,
then I shall lose this journal too.
If it is your will,
then I shall sing only to forget the song.
If it is your will Creator,
then I shall bury another stabbed brother.
If it is your will,
I shall be forgotten by all, even my mother.

Creator, if it is your will,
let them take my home and my breath.
If it is your will,
I’ll have nothing, but that is beauty’s best.
If it is your will Creator,
take away my memories too – but please, just one final look.
If it is your will,
take my name, me, and erase it from the book.

Creator, if it is your will,
let my people have a future, or not.
If it is your will,
take me, humble me, with these stars above.
If it is your will Creator,
take this night and teach me love.
If it is your will,
take this night and teach me love.
If it is your will Creator,
take this night and teach me love.
If it is your will.

Sitting at a Barbershop in Firenze

I am sitting in my chair
Overlooking the barbers
just down my street.
I am up next and pretend
to read a newspaper –
I understand no Italian.
There is an old man in front of me
and the barber cuts his hair.
There is a grimace disguised
as a smile on his old face.
He does not make contact
with his eyes in the mirror.
There is a heavy sadness on him,
as if he is never more old
than when he is in the barbers chair
forced to look at himself.
I think he does not have mirrors at home.
I think age is noble,
but nobler still,
when held without fear.
The barber now trims his eyebrows,
the first time old man has talked.
He closes his eyes,
the small hair falls on the floor,
and I am filled with his sadness.

Cherry Blossom Tree at Night

Left the house to walk tonight
Made something wrong go right
Yet when it came to true love
He was always afraid of heights
But walking alone stood silent perfection:
A cherry blossom tree

There is letting go
In the nighttime shade of trees

There is letting go
In the nighttime shade of trees

He smudged himself with cherry blossom leaves.

(Untitled) February 2016, Mortimer st.

There is a certain propinquity of noises
That go in and out of my head
When I am at a table of people
Or laying alone in my bed
That somehow makes my eyes feel grey
And the long night filled with dread
But I don’t do anything about it
I just think of everything and nothing instead

There is this certain propinquity of birds
Outside of my window tonight
They move closer and closer
Singing until they are in my room
Their song was so sweet outside
But now inside, it’s out of tune
So I make a trail of love to the door
And grey-winged they leave to the night

There is a certain propinquity in my heart
That didn’t know why it started writing
It came, and left, and here is the carving

Letter by letter, the shape has formed
what was windless, has now stormed
Releasing the noises of the birds in my heart:

I am stuck here somewhere between full and starving

(Untitled) October, 2014

Come in is what you said to me
Door swings wide
Two cups of tea

Come in is what you said to me
Eyes like robbers
Lips full of glee

Come in is what you said to me
My shoes are off
I think i’m here to set you free

But the fox has to die
When he has entered the nest
Let the light do
What it does best
Illuminate my actions
For you my sweet guest
I will do what I do
What comes to me best
I will run away

Let this fox die.

There must be another way

TWO DONALD’S TALK TERROR (written by my Dad)

This Donald:
                      Because as a kid we were poor,
                       vulnerable ,
                       no dad,
                       no alimony ,
                       no social assistance,
                       no job for mom …….


                     Because bigger kids cracked eggs
                      on our heads
                      at Easter time ……..


                       Because before eight I learned
                       of constant pogroms
                        by crazy Cossacks on horses
                        killing my forebears , burning their houses
                        destroying their lives,
                         for nothing !


                         And soon after learned of their crusades…
                         They plundered, raped on their way
                         to kill Muslims,
                          to steal and occupy their lands.


                          By eleven, books told of the Inquisition,
                          the rack, the blinding ,
                          the fiery-steel on-flesh tortures…..


                          Not much later films showed the death camps,
                           built, I thought,  by related madmen ,


                            skin and bone bodies,
                            naked mothers,
                            millions gassed, shot
                            and bulldozed into ditches
                            all while “ God Is With Us
                            was proudly emblazoned
                             on their belt buckles…..

                              Cruel, crazed monsters exist on earth
                              I early learned.


                Because of that childhood worldview:
                I should want to own deadly weapons,
                should expect the worst,
                want security,
                want a strong leader,
                a large, protective army,
                Trump should appeal to me!


Other Donald:
               Ah yes, and who is stronger than I am?!
               I alone will keep all those
               mad Muslims out!
               I am firm, a general,
               like pistols-on-the-hip Patton.
               Did you see gorgeous me
               strut down Fifth Avenue
               at the head of my class of cadets?
               Man, did they cheer!
               I knew I’d own that city,
               own Miss America,
               own the whole damn country.


               How they want me now.
                I speak to them.
                I know how to win,
                how to conquer
                their mad, right wing hearts,
                 the media,
                 the money,
                 I’m winning! Number 1!
                 I am A-Don-IsThe lord !


He thinks,
                 As he (again) rises to the surface
                 like a fever to the skin
                 (again) in a time of sickness …...



December, 2015

D. Avirom