After ignorance, blessings
by A. Garnett Weiss

Without much prompting, I return to that moment fifty years ago,
while we waited together for a book on reserve at college.
The librarian bellowed my last name.
We both stepped forward, lightly bumping hips.

Shy as a virgin, I felt heat rush to my face
as the man at the desk glared through thick lenses.
“Leonard,” he harrumphed, dismissing me.
Just then, I realized who you were.

So did the other undergrads, the spectator chorus,
who stared as though it was my fault to carry
the same family name.
I bowed my head, rejoined their line.

Even as poems and songs brought you more fame,
I didn’t become a fan, though I recognized
some tunes, knew bits of lyrics from the CDs
my mother listened to every day till she died.

But after you had to come down from the mountain
’cause someone had stolen away with your wealth,
after you started to tour, that’s when I fell for you.

I saw you perform live a first time, then again, and again,
just to hear you sing of love and loss and longing in that voice,
its low-growl purr seductive as the melodies that play in my mind.

Which is how I’ve come to regret having no kinship with you
either in blood or in the way you make your music turn words
into a benediction.

PHOTOS: (Left) Leonard Cohen, circa 1960s; (right) the author, around the time described in the poem.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I first read the call for the SAME NAME series, no celebrity in real life or fiction came to mind, but, on second thought, I remembered clearly the incident at university that gave rise to “After ignorance, blessings.” That “meeting’” with Leonard Cohen (Cohen was my maiden name), turned out to be my one and only “brush” with him in Montreal, Canada, just as he was gaining profile for his prose and poetry. It’s also true that I became a fan only as an adult and as a result of being seduced by his words and music, his artistry, at the concerts I attended, in spite of the less than “intimate” settings—hockey arenas in which he performed for some 5,000 others. That I would wish to be related to him is only natural, since I would love to have some of his talent in my genes!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A. Garnett Weiss’s poems appear in anthologies, chapbooks, on-line, and in local and national media, either under the pseudonym A. Garnett Weiss, or as JC Sulzenko. Her work has been shortlisted for Arc Poetry Magazine’s 2014 Poem of the Year and appeared in Vallum: Contemporary Poetry. Silver Birch Press included her poems in a number of its series, and she is the sole Canadian in its October 2015 chapbook anthology, Ides. She sits on the selection board for Bywords and is the inaugural curator for The Glebe Report’s “Poetry Quarter.” Breathing Mutable Air, her first chapbook collaboration with Carol A. Stephen, came out last June. Visit her at