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POEM FOR PIERRE LAPORTE MURDERED 50 YEARS AGO



FOR PIERRE LAPORTE

Murdered 50 years ago

 

 

Writing, what does it do for you?

And in another official language,

Whose form is power, or its display,

Or the way that power ebbs, or flows.

I knew you, back when you were less


Than murdered, or more than a way

To mention terror. Poets have taught

That what we say can go low, or higher,

Slow down the subtleties of horror,

Or defer or defray the impacts.


Tact and tension, inches of pressure.

It was in October, and I was four.

A father, you played on your front lawn

With your family, throwing a ball

Around in the early autumn air.


Leaves were goldening; the great river

Was only feet or metres away; bucolic

Is not quite correct, but closer than a lie.

Fiction says I was there; the actuality is

I was nearby, with my own father,


At our own play; but the same avenue,

Putney (their house on the higher corner)

On the South Shore. This took place

In varying languages, French for the minister

Of the government, Anglo-talk for me


And my dad, Tom. They took him that day.

When he was found, days later, in the car,

They though him the English diplomat, instead.

The French Quebecer could not even be identified

At first when dead. Soon, he was announced


As gone. No one, not even now, can say,

In any dialect or fashion, whatever linguistic

Method you’d like to try, how the death-grip

Came to be applied, that rendered him a fact

You can look up online. Something beyond playing


And Thanksgiving, the smell of burnt leaves in air.

Far past pathos, nostalgic reckonings, or desire

For vengeance, or recollection; fifty years

Does havoc to the remnant brain; time blows

The candles out, and not to state the obvious, but,


Not for a birthday; bathos, or restraint, both go

To an articulation unasked for. And when did poems

Last have anything to do with Montreal, really?

And who even, these deceptively ludicrous, tough hours,

Turns to A.M. Klein, our maestro of the international


Interleaving of lingos, from Joyce’s Riverrun to Iago’s?

Poems gets uncounted like archipelagos contain

Flotsam, jetsam, the insane tortoise or two; chaos

And disorder remain the librarian in the canon, truthfully.

I’ve found, amidst researches in vast libraries, hermetic,


Urbane, with coffee shops for hearts, and gift shops

For brains, lost plunder buried in plain sight, on paper.

Piratical poesy that no one under the sun now bothers

To covet or adore. I mean, and here the I is genuinely

Me trying to speak to you, if you are there, not just


A closed link or cover, page on page on page of smothering,

He was strangled on his chain, a crucifix around his throat,

Too perfect an image to be invented for aesthetic pleasure.

Crumpled, or merely rammed somehow into the boot, the trunk,

And abandoned, to be found, like any poem or useless treasure


Made of a fool’s errand; was it manslaughter or cold-blooded,

Or some accidental manoeuvre in-between? Emblematic,

Of the measures to be taken, the lost innocence of the times,

And it framed, your death, that death, his death, my father’s

Reactions, ever afterwards; and so, I suppose, mine; how he’d


Never sleep well again, wake at night, in terror, to check

The doors, the windows, our beds; thinking someone was coming.

And they had come, and they had taken, from Cross, the Brit attaché,

To Laporte, hung on his cross, in Paul Rose's vehicle.

I am the way, the door, too neat by half


For any cenotaph, the names that drag us forward, tug back.

Half a century and the actors are removed from recognition.

Not that any of us are, or were, genuinely acting, or actors,

Despite Shakespeare saying so. I read yesterday, this in twenty-twenty,

That even the Bard is under siege, interrogated, held to account


For his politics, his views. No sacred texts then, anymore, if ever,

And history is like a fleuve, or a veuve, a widow or shadow, a going.

Nothing is a lot of water to unload and sift; my gifts were startled

Into fluency at four by your amazing murder, that captured my family,

Our imagination, that shaped, from mere opinion, hardened ideas,


On identities, and friction. I’ve had to carry your massacre with me

Daily like a nightmare burial, like a ritual, or the anxiety it invoked.

The war of fear that stormed my house, also, down the same street.

And if we ever meet, may I ask you for a simplistic favour, if ideal?

Don’t go out to play, Pierre, in October; stay indoors, to heal us all.

 

LONDON, OCTOBER 5, 2020


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