Leonard Cohen Honourarium

Setlist for April 22, 2017

In my life

love has been

impatient and unkind

so I find joy in the perception

of a slower pace of time

This life is mine

so I present to you a body of my work

from being high

at 40,000 feet

gifted to you lovingly

level with the sea


INTRO: Americano, Cappuccino


Morning coffee looked like this


Just like today

I'd take my coffee black

To go


Americano, Cappuccino

Mine of the darker tribe

He took his creamy and sweet

Like his skin

Like his privilege


I drank black coffee

Powerful and indifferent

I'd water it down only after he taught me patience

To experience my morning Java like I should have experienced people

Slowly, paying attention

Not just taking what I needed and running

Acting surprised when I would hurt

An hour later

Like everything I held inside was fighting


I'd never met anyone who would take time

At 3pm

For coffee and calories

An hour of my time just to enjoy


Pay attention

I learned patience

And how to take the heat

From the most high-strung man I'd ever known

Since my father


So we finished each meal

With views of concrete

Or of a side street

Sometimes the cost was worth the service

One Americano

One Cappuccino

(but usually not)


It was never just morning coffee




Before long I too became

An honorary European



And a little more high-strung

Bred into a culture which synonymized

'sorry' with 'alright'

In a pretentious search for a better life

My taste in coffee

Made me strong, powerful

And I learned to speak up every time

It wasn't alright


In all my attempts to heal myself




Someone so unlike me taught me presence


By his tiny cups of coffee

Always single shots to protect the heart

But we took doubles here


And so it’s no surprise I struggled to breathe as I climbed stairs

Cursing the morning

as hot coffee dripped down the side of my hand

as I rushed from one place to another

never engaged but still committed

to the things I didn’t want

That love wasn’t built

to stretch across the widest ocean front

nor a twenty-hour time difference

worth pretending

we could make it


Instead I order a single shot

and try to drink it slower

I still take what I need from every drink

even though they make me older

And no longer

does this Canadian soul

order one Americano

No longer sorry

Whether things make me angry

or alright

My priority

is making sure I can sleep

through the night


My umbrella

in this new rainy place is the dripping of jackets on the floor

the dash into shelter as the wind howls, louder

And ordering one last coffee

before they close

One decaf dirty almond chai

easier on the stomach

and creamy brown like my own skin




yet warm enough to calm the ghosts

the ones that followed me here from home

one Americano

one Cappuccino

an order worlds so far away

from the peace

and the loveliness here

I now call

my own


BRIEF intro: (for the travelers)


Never, ever again

Never, ever make your world small

Push yourself

Until you fall

Collapse into rigid airport seats after you barely made it through security on time

Wonder why you rushed through a shitty airport stuck in 1973

To get on a plane with 8 people on it

That was designed for 180

Get uncomfortable

Be a minority

Not for the colour of your skin but for your ignorance


Stick out like a throbbing, swollen sore thumb

Get lost in a sea of people

Speaking a language you can't understand to save yourself

And pieces of 10 others

And then go back in time

Hear people speaking a language you haven't heard in a decade

Then try it on for size

Realize for the first time in your life

How strong your own accent is

Fall in love with strangers

Not in the way Eat, Pray, Love romanticized

Find the pieces of yourself

In the people made up of the exact same pieces you have in you

Share the details

Without the context

Answer every question honestly

You have nothing to hide

You're here, you're alive

You are the truth

And that is nothing to be sorry for

Don't be alarmed that you're not homesick

Don't worry that you're not afraid

People wasted their lives being worried for you

Telling you to be safe

And you always knew

That you are

Some of us are meant to wander and explore

Don't be afraid if you find

You're one of them

You'll find your way

Just know

That the destination doesn't end

But the joy comes from moving

Always be curious


And keep your mind wide open

With your arms crossed the world can't get to your broken heart to heal it

The world is so big

Never, ever let your world become small




The View


Tell me about the view

Tell me about the view from the kitchen out to the harbour

Tell me about the view from the kitchen out to the harbour you just stepped outside to get closer to

Tell me about the view


Tell me about

blue-green reflections of the soft ombre in the sky

the cotton-candy clouds tucked in behind

lilac and azure from right to left

papaya and rose on the left, far left

dipping behind the hill across the water

hiding amidst hollow trees

birdsong, sunset at 7:43

Tell me about the view you can’t see

Tell me about the view


Tell me about the view on the other side of the Island

Tell me about the fire in the sky

Tell me about the one small corner

of a view on the other side of the island

visible through a kitchen window

as two tired parents

serve dinner behind schedule

the kids are restless and month-end was stressful

nature’s living masterpiece, outside



Tell me what that kitchen window’s good for

if not for noticing

spring Saturday sunsets

out of crackled stain-glass

Tell me what’s the use

of a million-dollar house with a view

if you can’t tell me about the view

you can see

So I’ll tell you about mine


I’ll tell you about my view from a lawn chair on the balcony

I’ll tell you about my view out to the harbour I can see

my view out to the harbour I can see from the kitchen

my view out to the harbour I can see from the kitchen all the way out to the other side of the water

I’ll tell you about reflections of a sunset on the west side of the Island

that people are ogling


or ignoring

I’ll tell you about the last bird songs and the old, breezy cedar gently brushing against the side of the roof

I’ll tell you about the sound of the neighbours playing violin in their garage

and the hum of the occasional car

rolling on

past the no-exit sign

I can tell you all about mine


I can tell you

that even without a “sunset view”

I have something to look at

something to feel

something to appreciate

and something to tell you about

Let me tell you

there’s nowhere else in the world

quite like this