A little theatre shining onto the sidewalk
HARM REDUCTION It’s 6 a.m. when the lights turn on in a white-washed drugstore, as if it were a little theatre shining out onto the sidewalk.
The regulars are there walking around in tight circles like chickens on hot plates waiting for their next government fix.
Just before work, I always get hit up for a smoke by Freddy Fridays.
He’s from Toronto like me but a few years older, remembering T.O. at its best when it comes to sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.
He’s 6´1Ý and looks like a tobacco farmer from Tillsonburg with his John Deere ball cap, worn-out jeans and Levi’s jacket.
A face wrapped in skin on bone, long black hair, coal eyes, teeth rotten and stained with twenty years on the crack pipe, arms full of the needle and the damage done, a voice like smoky wind spitting out dust about the good ole days of Toronta. I give him a smoke. His nerves light it right away as he stares at that little lit stage, waiting for his Methadone juice and the next act.
I light another smoke myself and watch the store next door unload a dolly full of boxes with big blue letters spelling LISTERINE. SHOTGUNS IN THE SKY “The rotting of a heart…” Charles Bukowski, from “Practice” in The Roominghouse Madrigals The bus from Montreal is late
I turn my pockets inside out in the rain dreaming of shotguns in the sky
My rotting heart sings in the downpour Alice’s big white rabbit comes on by
and gives me a gram of magic mushrooms to rescue me from your world
WELFARE WEDNESDAYS KILL MORE PEOPLE THAN BOMBS Hastings is closed off from Main Street all the way down to Pigeon Park.
Cops, fire trucks, floodlights making night into day.
The crowds grow, hoping for a show. People set up lawn chairs in the middle of Hastings as if at a drive-in. Skateboarders fly down the emptiness like flies skimming a pond, zigzagging around everything.
It’s like a street party or the gathering for a town hanging.
A twenty-year-old jumper in debt to his dealer has climbed over the railing on the roof across the street.
I sit at my window drinking a beer, thinking about wild horses running in the rain.
Cops roam around telling the shouters to shut up. The copper on the bullhorn bellows
“Please stop telling the poor man to jump!”
Finally they talk the young dude down. We all cheer as if the Canucks have just scored the game-winning goal. UNDERGROUND ROOM I head out in steel-toed boots into the dark rains of January to the slave labour pool.
I walk into the stale air of the office to put my mark on the
The place is as packed as a can of rotten sardines.
An old man sleeping in his workboots has pissed himself. Moving seats, I watch the scrawny drug addicts get all the jobs.
I end up on a construction site making $8 an hour working beside some kid half my age. Contempt in his eyes, he tells me he’s making $22.50 an hour.
Society has tried to stop me from becoming a loser, but my destiny hangs its heavy sign on me
as I march through rush hour heading to the DTES to pick up a cheque for $52 minus the $12 government fee.