If you need to use the bathroom at a restaurant in the city, you’ll need to go down some steps. Probably somewhat dangerous steps: uneven, unforgiving, unnerving. Then probably down a dark hallway, too. Past storage cupboards, unmarked closets, supplies. And when you finally find the bathroom, you might change your mind.
Watching all the marks made
on a home over a decade
be etched out: plastered and
painted over. Whitewashed.
Can feel like a cleansing.
Can feel like an erasing.
Oh I do not love you on these 0C days, after a dump of snow that has actually stayed on the ground and roads. Your worst: the slush. Brown and grey, cold and gritty. Ugly as fuck. Flying from speeding cars and swerving cabs, landing on sidewalks in thick splats. Sometimes against unsuspecting pedestrians, already cursing the icy flakes that swirl from buildings in directionless bursts. That cold mucky brown goop that clings to boots, leaves murky puddles on the shop floor, tell-tale footprints up the aisle when you don’t care to be followed.
Dear Dundas, I won’t miss you. With your abandoned storefronts, scarred with unimaginative graffiti and decades-old grit. With your grimy little shops and litter-strewn steps and old signs that swing from half-hinged frames. With your cheap haircuts in dingy salons, your grotty bars that resist resuscitation. I want to warm to your dirty charm, but it disarms me.
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.
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.
When snot freezes in your nostrils,
when the sting of skinburn sinks to eyesocket ache:
the city’s noise, it rises. Even when it’s quiet,
Monday mid-morning when the well-dressed
have rushed off to subways and office towers,
frigid air bounces sound from every surface:
Chugging motor-roar, the loud fat slap
of car tires on frozen tracks,
the prolonged lumbering rumble of streetcars —
piercing grate of chilled metal on metal.
And the fast sharp click of high-heeled boots
rushing rushing toward coffee shops and warm,
away from the ear-cleaving blare of car horns;
vapour clouds cling to their fur-trimmed faces
as they shout into cell phones, voices shrill.