Category Archives: Lyrics and Pics

Outside Union Station In the Light as the Snow Begins to Fall

Union Station, Toronto, Snow, Light, Mike Crisolago, Street Photography, Photography

Outside Union Station as the snow begins to fall
The last I saw was your shadow disappearing along the wall
You ducked into the crowd pushing toward the train
And the ticket man only laughed when I shouted out your name
I thought my words would keep you, but that didn’t work at all
They’re in a puddle outside Union Station, as the snow begins to fall
Something random I wrote a few minutes ago to accompany the picture. A little dim for Valentine’s Day, I know, but it’s not a reflection of my mood or anything resembling reality. I’ve just been listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen tonight.


For Leonard Cohen on his 77th Birthday

With Annie gone,
whose eyes to compare
with the morning sun?

Not that I did compare,
But I do compare
Now that she’s gone.

It must have been about 10 years ago. Sitting on the bus without reading material or music, I began perusing the advertisements that run just above the windows. One of the first that I read happened to be a regular feature on the TTC called “Poetry on the Way” – a cultural initiative that features poems by Canadian poets, along with a short biography. This particular installment featured the poem For Anne, by Leonard Cohen.

The few lines, in italics above, grip me to this day.

Writing in Montreal (or Dispelling the CanLit stereotype)

There’s a reason I get a tingling sensation under my skin every time I go to Montreal. So many of my favourite authors hail from that city (from Mavis Gallant to Mordecai Richler to Leonard himself, among others) and in 2003 I brought a copy of Stranger Music on my inaugural trip there.

Each night, while my roommates slept, I stayed up with my mini-lamp reading Leonard’s poems. After a while I’d stare out onto Sherbrooke Street and at Mont Royal with its glowing crucifix before reaching for my notebook and crafting lines of my own.

By this point, a year or so after seeing For Anne on the bus, I had purchased numerous Leonard Cohen albums and books. As a writer, Leonard taught me that not all Canadian literature had to be about growing up on the prairies while coming to grips with your mother’s alcoholism that one carries like a stone on his shoulders while playing hockey and chasing beavers. CanLit gets that stereotype all too often, but reading Leonard’s work shattered it for me in a heartbeat. He proved that it is possible in one’s writing to be raw, honest, vulnerable, sentimental and selfish and pull it off with such brilliant composition and metaphor that the reader is forced to stop and consider your every line.

That is the magic, and the irony of Leonard’s work: it’s at once so personal for his readers, as if he mines the memories of our most desperate experiences and then writes down what he finds. Yet, he expresses it with verses so powerful that if we were to try ourselves they’d be beyond our capability to assemble. Instead of holding up a mirror to his audience, he’s holding an x-ray.

Continue reading

Leaves That Are Green, by Simon and Garfunkel

Leaves That Are Green

by Simon and Garfunkel

I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song.
I’m twenty-two now but I won’t be for long
Time hurries on.
And the leaves that are green turn to brown,
And they wither with the wind,
And they crumble in your hand. Continue reading

#151: Lost in the Forest…., by Pablo Neruda

Lost in the forest…
by Pablo Neruda

Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:
maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,
a cracked bell, or a torn heart.

Something from far off it seemed
deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,
a shout muffled by huge autumns,
by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.

Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig
sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance
climbed up through my conscious mind

as if suddenly the roots I had left behind
cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood—
and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.

This post appears as part of the FOCUS 365 photo blog component of Bastard Type

#143: Abandoned Love

Abandoned Love
by Bob Dylan

I can hear the turning of the key
I’ve been deceived by the clown inside of me
I thought that he was righteous but he’s vain
Oh, something’s a-telling me I wear the ball and chain

My patron saint is a-fighting with a ghost
He’s always off somewhere when I need him most
The Spanish moon is rising on the hill
But my heart is a-tellin’ me I love ya still

I come back to the town from the flaming moon
I see you in the streets, I begin to swoon
I love to see you dress before the mirror
Won’t you let me in your room one time ’fore I finally disappear?

Everybody’s wearing a disguise
To hide what they’ve got left behind their eyes
But me, I can’t cover what I am
Wherever the children go I’ll follow them

I march in the parade of liberty
But as long as I love you I’m not free
How long must I suffer such abuse
Won’t you let me see you smile one time before I turn you loose?

I’ve given up the game, I’ve got to leave
The pot of gold is only make-believe
The treasure can’t be found by men who search
Whose gods are dead and whose queens are in the church

We sat in an empty theater and we kissed
I asked ya please to cross me off-a your list
My head tells me it’s time to make a change
But my heart is telling me I love ya but you’re strange

One more time at midnight, near the wall
Take off your heavy makeup and your shawl
Won’t you descend from the throne, from where you sit?
Let me feel your love one more time before I abandon it

Copyright © 1975 by Ram’s Horn Music; renewed 2003 by Ram’s Horn Music

This post appears as part of the FOCUS 365 photo blog component of Bastard Type

#132: Hitchhiker, by Jack Kerouac


‘Tryna get to sunny Californy’ –
Boom. It’s the awful raincoat
making me look like a selfdefeated self-murdering imaginary gangster, an idiot in a rueful coat, how can they understand my damp packs – my mud packs –
Look John, a hitchhiker’
He looks like he’s got a gun underneath that I. R. A. coat’
‘Look Fred, that man by the road’ „Some sexfiend got in print in 1938 in Sex Magazine’ –
You found his blue corpse in a greenshade edition, with axe blots’

Jack Kerouac

This post appears as part of the FOCUS 365 photo blog component of Bastard Type