After hearing Adam Cohen

So far from Montreal,
you smoke a cigarette with your back against the low black building
where you sang your surreal songs,
and we sat at civilised tables

I want to talk to you about your matchbox
and about that woman who you thanked
for being so beautiful,
but I don’t know what to say

‘I know your father’
doesn’t seem to do it:
I don’t know how you feel about your father

Is he competition, distraction
or inspiration?

Poetry is in your blood:
it flows from that wound in your side,
and the pages turn red so easily

In that respect we are similar,
but I never knew Marianne:
I know your father, though – better than I knew mine:
he died young

You will move on, and I will remain
wading through the songs my father sang
looking for ways to understand
the maps he used, and the hard
landscape he travelled through

The gift of blood
keeps us both alive:
your voice refreshes me, like water, and
your bus pulls out on to the ordinary road

so far from Montreal,
so far


Many years ago I heard Adam Cohen sing at the University of East Anglia. As we left, he was leaning against the wall, smoking, and I wondered what he was doing in a place like Norwich.