Ira Cohen RIP

Friends and Colleagues,

On the morning of Tuesday, April 26th I received the below appended mail from Ira Landgarten. I’d been expecting it for days, but hoping against hope for a miracle.

In due course I shall write at length about Ira. He and I go back such a very long way. And despite the fact that we hadn’t been on speaking terms for many years, I continued to love him as a special kind of brother and to greatly respect and admire his artistic talents and his work. In short, we were connected at the hip. Nor will his passing in any way change that. ‘Speaking terms’ means nothing, it’s what’s in the heart that counts.

The previous day at Xaviera Hollander’s Easter Monday brunch, which I attended in company with my lovely 17-year old granddaughter Hannah (she was then visiting from southern Germany), I recited the poem I wrote for Ira ca. 1980 entitled “Song to Ujjain.” I meant it as a prayer for a comrade in arms who (as I told everyone listening) was “at death’s door.” Many people already know the poem, but I am nonetheless including it here. It seems Ira passed shortly after I’d gone to bed. I checked my email the next morning with a foreboding sense of dread. And indeed learned that Ira was gone.

Ira Cohen, requiescat in pace.

Om Kali, EDDIE

“Ira has gone to a better place now. He is with Jasper, Paul G., Roberto,
Ganesh Baba and all the rest in ‘Chillum Heaven’. RIP Ira. Om Shanti.”
– Bombay Brian

Dear Friends,

Approximately a month ago, Ira, who for some time has been living up on 106th St. in a somewhat diminished capacity since last summer’s infamous bedbug plague, apparently tripped or fell in the apartment & injured his right knee.

When his pain didn’t abate, he was finally cajoled into going to the hospital for an exam & x-ray. As nothing particularly noteworthy showed up, he went back home for some days, during which time what might have started as an abrasion on his knee became infected—his underlying diabetes exacerbated a small wound that for most of us would have healed-up with little consequence.

A visiting nurse strongly advised he needed attention & he was brought to St. Lukes up on 114 & Amsterdam Ave. He’d been on a slow, tortuous downward spiral since…laid-low by an unspecified infection & a cascade of other serious ailments.

This evening, April 25, 2011, at about 6:30 he breathed his last…

There will be a small, private burial service & a future memorial/tribute to be announced…

Ira Landgarten, friend & colleague

April 28th follow-up from Ira Landgarten:

Ira Cohen was buried beside his parents & grandparents in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in Glendale, Queens on April 27, 2011.

During the funeral, a single majestic hawk soared above the open grave…

Several of us mourners saw it hovering on the thermal winds.

How fitting, this spirit bird, how totally Ira!

for Ira Cohen

Jetsam floating this silent tide
pieces of marigold cropping the mind
on a sky full of spring
harsh dense falling on rooftops

A gnarled tree blossoms in cobblestone
lingering love thru a nighttime of noise
whispered truths in the hypocrite’s tongue
aged in weatherdamp far from death

Remember O saddhu chillums at dawn
winter melodies we forgot to sing
poems of desire on the driftless canals
singing themselves to a sleep beyond haunting

Here in the shadows my own reflection
red lights left other voyagers burn
years cry out thin moments decay
seize my heart in a rush of fire

Petals of love I send in bondage
reality dreams our souls forsake
Amsterdam eyes awake & smiling
eruptions of meaning all sound describes

Atrophied memories flake in the sun
desert the rains sustaining yr image
mylar of the West!
eastern impenetrables!

Feeling now the deep of yr voice
caressed by distances continents spread
disarm all notions of time & beauty
distinguishing us from the you I am.