Lee Leaving: The Funeral of Lee Harris 6th January 2024

For Lee Eli Harris 11th August 1936 – 26th November 2023



Two funerals in one week, as Lee Harris leaves sweetly
And in the same place as Pinter, McDevitt, Allen
And Horovitz. Kensal Green flowers the dead,
Just as we bring ourselves as bright tributes; poets,
Activists, artists, musicians, each denominations

That Harris’ life duly fits. He was Bryan Talbot’s
First publisher too, and a Portobello shop owner,
Whose alchemic puff exhaled keenly while bringing to life
Withheld dreams. The service was the longest
I’d been to by far, as there was so much life here

To detail; from activism to acting Lee knew what
The word possible can and should mean.
Jo-burg born, on a boat the boy-man travelled to England,
After opposing Apartheid in that seminal year, ’56,
In my own dreams no doubt at the same time

As my father, stowing away on another ship
To store Stalin and his Hungarian stain. Lee, transfixed
Became an Webber Douglas trained actor here,
(after reconnecting Albie Sachs with his father),
Settling in Earls Court, pre-Aussies, the first

Of many trails his time blazed. Before working
With Welles, that giant monolith of achievement,
In Orson’s perfect Chimes at Midnight,
Which is better than Kane. Bars were raised
As to what and who to become. And so Lee set about

Making Legends, as described by Amira, Deben
And Edana, his children who served him sweet tributes
From his own underground echoes, to a Heathcote
Williams poem, written for him and Birgitta,
To bursaries, birthings and LSD’s first great phase.

There was his time with Jim Haynes in the famous
Drury Lane Arts lab. The staging of The Alchemic
Wedding at the Royal Albert Hall: ’68, and then
His shop Alchemy’s street reveal just four years later,
A boutique for the Buddhist, with mantras falling

Like manna, the best of these being: Don’t Hate/Create.
He was the Counter Culture contained behind one pair
Of glasses. He had touched all points to Heaven,
And all of the prized ones on Earth. From his own land
Of strife, to Tibet, the US, and Europa, he was

A Meher Baba type Seeker,  and  as fluid as Berger
As he sourced stones and jewels from each stream
To find worth. His world was shaped from sunshine
And peace, and he saved his particular Brainstorms
From comics, happening on Bryan Talbot, circa 1970,
When Alchemy was still a street stall and today
Talbot told us about how through life’s struggles,
He and Mary had first visited. He showed him one page
Which Lee said he would publish when the story

Was finished; it was a word on the wind,
A vow offered for which the young Bryan still felt
Inhibited. After another lean time (BT) returned,
Reaching Portobello from Preston, with 20 precious pages
Saved for that generous Harris hand. A kindness abused

On that day by a bunch of lads who had stolen
From Alchemy’s till, yet arriving, Lee looked
And the work and began
                                                     Brainstorm Comics
At once, as they then went in search of a printer,
And this is how we got Luther Arkwright, that great

Moorcock-like strip and Grandville. And all of the books
Which have given illustration adventure. Lee fired
The starting gun. It was even his out of tune piano
That brought Jaz Coleman and Youth the place
To form Killing Joke’s first song spills. Lee ran for Mayor,

Got thousands of votes, would have made it
If this had been a better world, and one able
To appreciate the real riches sewn into the soul’s
Tapestry. Youth talked of these in his softly said
Starsailor poem, a wonderous word film

On the wisdom upon which Lee speaking
Sailed; love as sea. As also seen and heard in the clips
Played on the East Chapel’s screens as we sat there,
Lee’s Jerusalem poem and the superlative Shine On
Thanks to the Moonlight Orchestra, as suture for the heat

In the heart to fly free. There was a remarkable
A Day in the Life by George and Jay from the Mau Mau,
Acoustic guitar and drum nearly beating for that moment
At least, Pepper’s men. And then the Buddhist Nun
Lama Zangmo as our Host, leading the Samye Dzong

Buddhist Centre in Buddhist Prayers of Compassion;
The possible music of Heaven or a haven at least
For us, them
                                 and everyone not there today,
Or who met and remembers Lee Harris.
A remarkable man. An Earth Angel. Husband and Son.

Father. Friend. Protector and Sage. Publisher
And Gate Keeper. Shop Owner. Seagull squarking
To call hatred’s end. From the enmity of SA,
He restored and roped resolution. Evidenced by
Yewande Okuleye whose PhD in medicinal Cannabis

Lee advised on. She sent us singing the African
For ‘Lee is going home’ beautifully. He was
AS Youth wrote: ‘An Avalon Avatar, An Alchemic Reducer,’
A Cannabis(ian) Crusader, who could sit and talk
With George Martin about the echoes at Air (Studios),

Artfully. From ‘the confederacy of the wry smile’ to
‘Honouring Ken Kesey for a lifetime of enchantment’, this
‘Crystal prism sun-catcher’ was on any English day
Different lands. Be they Joburg’s scarred streets,
Or the Tibetan path, purely taken. Or Ladbroke Grove.

Death is not the end, Zangmo told us. Something
That those left behind understand. Edana’s montage
For her Dad, showed us smiles and stars, and horizons,
It showed us homes and past prisons, people and dreams,
Poetry. Which can be both held in the hand, and which

Once in the ear will transfigure from sound spell
Into essence. With his body boxed, Lee is leaving
To find us new worlds. Wait and see.  



                                                                                         David Erdos 7/1/24







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