Poems in bars

Writing poems in the bar in the afternoon
doesn’t make me a cliche (well, maybe it does).

But it does make me hate this city a little less,
summoning words in the quiet
before the drinkers arrive and music
from former decades distracts.
Oh yes. The door shut against
the phonewalkers and loudtalkers,
the ever-presence of people and cars
and constant droning citynoise.

Here some of those jagged edges
are rubbed smoother,
some of that god-damned citygrit
is flicked off. And fucked off.


Drinking coffee in Parkdale

The tin ceiling reflects weak mid-winter sun
across red brick walls and dark wooden booths,
dissolves into corners that brooms pretend not to know.
Boots and sneakers scrape over scarred wood floors
(the planks tell their stories when pressed).
The coffee has its own story. But no bitterness here,
just a nutty warmth that smells more familiar than home.
It moves inside my mouth, leaving traces
of its sweet strong narrative on my tongue.



What I won’t miss about you

Dear Toronto,

Here are just a few things I won’t miss about you (a list, to be sure, that will be updated with additional irks):

  • Sandwich boards on narrow sidewalks
  • Slow, slow walkers on Queen Street
  • Dogs tied up outside of bars
  • Dog shit parks. Dog shit everywhere.
  • Office-less workers on loud conference calls in Starbucks
  • Slush and massive puddles in the winter
  • The noise. The NOISE.
  • Sirens. Gunshots.
  • Noisy partiers in hallways


Bowie and the bar

Lipstick & Dynamite, West Queen West

David Bowie is dead.

And we’re drinking beer
beneath a canopy of velvet oil paintings
and muted red light, condensation spreading
across the canvas of the old front window.

In the dark we drink to Starman
and Ashes to Ashes and Let’s Dance.
We drink and sing and toast
music’s unfathomable loss,
bitter tastes in our mouths,
in our hearts.

Later, leaving into cold and stars,
unsteady fist-pumps to Life on Mars.


Colours in winter

Faded flags stand as reminder of better times at The Kensington Cornerstone Restaurant in Kensington Market on Dundas. The bar closed last fall. I’ve never been.

What strikes me: The pale yellow, grey dirty white, and sunstroked red shreds of fabric hanging there, hanging on. Tatters of their once-glorious selves, remembering that last celebration. Mourning.


Still, the grey winter light makes the dissolving colours vibrant.

Band jerks in Starbucks

Dudes think it’s just fine
to crank the volume on their conference call
the tinny drone of [insert tour manager here]’s voice
like an disembodied radio DJ or an interview
that needed to be cut off ten minutes ago.
But it’s been 45 minutes.

Loud proud boasting about touring “across the pond”
and that “people in Spain still buy CDs”
while the old lady with her book
darts dirty looks and swears in whispers.
Even the homeless guy moves away;
a semicircle of empty tables,
a desert of discontentment.

But none of us dare to cross it. To say,
Hey douchebags, the rest of us don’t care
about your album, your sycophantic pandering
to that tinny voice that panders back. No,
we sit here and silently seethe,
wondering what does it take to ask
other humans to be a little more human.