Poverty has a face. Dusty and dingy. Sad. Grey from last night’s 4 day binge. Tear streaked or sweat streaked. Sometimes both. Matted hair, oily hair, no hair, on furrowed brows over sleep depraved eyes. Poverty has a limp when she walks down the street in clothes too small for her too small body. Track marks in the bends of her arms and knees and toes. Cracked lips from too many dicks. And never just enough change for a fifty cent cigarette, rolled by a lady who rolled from used butts, a lady she can’t remember but bought from just yesterday. Poverty wears clothes handed down from hand me downs. He probably didn’t bus all the way to West Ed to buy that Jack and Jones dress shirt one size too large. Poverty lives in a van, McDonalds bags 2 months old covering the oil stained painted carpet. He listens to CBC before looking for work that barely pays enough to get gas to get home. Home being a new space tonight because ESSO on 106st drove him off when the morning shift came on. And he’s scared because Winter is coming, and his heater is busted, but the booze keep him warm. At least ’til he sleeps. Then wakes to snot frozen in his beard. But the shelter is too dangerous. And where to park his home? Poverty is clean shaven and joviality. He’s eight cups of coffee to keep him awake from the wakefulness of last night’s nightmares. He’s quiet only when he sees the nightmares come to life and he has to sit with the worker who fights with an impatient middle class crisis nurse who will be intentionally late because the nightmares happen every. single. day. Poverty is too many voices medicated by a needle that may or may not have come out of the grate or the street works van or the hand of the man who traded a moment of voiceless peace for a dirty orgasm in the back of an old white beater on the corner of 96st and 112 ave. Poverty is a wrong turn. A bad choice. One barrier then two then three. Then loneliness. Then you. Then me. Save for the prospect of our opportunities.
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I’m a little fucked up, far from perfect.
A few steps left of strange, nowhere near deranged.
I smile with a sparkle in my eyes
and cry from pains inside.
I no longer strive to hide my flaws.
Letting them fall, those walls
no longer defend me from you.
Look at me now; see what is true.
I may spill mustard on my tie at noon
or forget that cheese does not make up the moon,
and I may rhyme every line
or leave you guessing with blank abrupt verse.
Because I am far from perfect, a little fucked up.
Happy, melancholic. At times curt or terse.
But I no longer stand in front of mirrors to rehearse
and waste time life stretched toward perfect.
I’ve become accustomed to you.
Like a shadow in the room,
the dust square where a photo hung,
or the noise the refrigerator makes before it dies.
When did we last laugh?
I think you got it this time
somewhere in between the silences.
You were always best at quiet.
And now I just want to breathe you goodbye;
you’re a cruel human being,
a puppeteer seeking a marionette,
but I have no strings and am not made of wood.
Can we laugh on Tuesdays, watching the hawks rise and dive
when the mice scurry across the fields?
Can you teach me about how they fly and cry
and lure their prey with a word of their mouths?
I saw a pink rabbit rush across my path on Saturday.
When was that? Two Saturdays ago? A lifetime ago?
I can see and not see. The pause between blinks
becomes longer as I think on what could be.
Sitting and waiting here, watching the whirlwind
spin and spin and spin and spin,
memories blend, disappearing on the wind
while I write my life in the sand.
And time passes but the longing does not;
it grows with each passing of the wind,
but beyond the black horizon,
I can see a pink bunny run across my path.
I’d given up that leg of the journey and made a left.
Back onto the road with the fence on the right,
rolling hills on every side. This road
cutting a line in the green.
Then you were there. And he was there,
but you were so intent on looking at the road,
chin in hands, elbows on knees, brow furrowed.
You couldn’t see. But I could see.
I pulled onto the shoulder. You were distracting
to this driver motoring along. I couldn’t understand
how you couldn’t see him sitting there
dangling his feet, enjoying the Spring breeze.
God, you were distracting. Even with furrowed brow
seeing your beauty was like finally relaxing into warm water
after the day or the week had me beaten to a pulp.
So I just rested in your gaze.
And returned the favour by pointing him out.
“There he is, right behind you. Looks like he’s been with you
a lot longer than you thought. (God, you’re gorgeous)
But, yeah, he’s here. You should chat. He looks a lot like love.”
There is a cave in a not so imaginary mountain,
and therein is a made bed.
The sheets never wrinkle or get old,
and the mattress forever holds its form.
There is no light there, no sun. No lamp.
There are no shadows dancing on walls.
There are no accoutrements.
It is bare.
And there I sat. Not a prison. A hiding place.
A space that afforded silence and solitude
While I lived in the chaos and confusion
and existed as the ghost of something great.
I have emerged but not yet stretched in the light.
My eyes are growing accustomed to the sun,
and my heart is full and my skin electrified with wonder
at what it means to no longer have to hide.