Dreaming of Death, 1979

Inside a 6×8 ceil

Naked on steel

under fluorescent lights

from 5am to 11pm


Sweet darkness

I welcome it

nightmares included

in this little piece of hell


Dreamed about Death again

I see his dark world

try to talk to him

but he just ignores me


This little piece of hell lights up

My real nightmare begins

as the guards open

that thick steel door


Ex-army men

from lost wars

In Korea and Vietnam

scream their hate at me


They drag my mattress out of the ceil

I lie back down on cold steel

The Gideon bible covers my eyes

Almost finished it again


After 14 days

the walls

start to close in

Hell gets smaller and smaller


In my dreams

Death still ignores me

I scream my nightmares at him

but he’s too busy.





A collaborative anthology from

Thursdays Writing Collective and


EDITOR Elee Kraljii Gardiner.


Poetry of a squared room

Dirty brown door

8×10 room

bed against far corner

Covered by grayish white sheet

Round old bar table, with ashtray

Yellow walls

A window onto brick

Small sink with cracked mirror

A forgotten radio plays

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Welfare Wednesdays runs down the hallway

I lock the door

Sit down at the table

It reads in thick black ink.


Death Is Alive Here

Hate Is Real Here

God Doesn’t Exist Here

Welcome to the DTES.



A collaborative anthology from

Thursdays Writing collective and


EDITOR Elee Kraljii Gardiner.

Down Here

Decaying hotels and city run shelters

Become open door Asylum’s down here

Harm Reduction rules down here

Mental illness screams down here

Armies of white wash drug stores

Feeds the long lines of madness down here

Dirty run Taverns feeds us alcoholics  down here

Addiction feeds the city morgue down here

Being a poet in East Van

Misery opens my eyes down here

Depression opens my mind down here

To bathe in them is to write about them down here.


Hey Joe

He sees her at that corner every morning just before 6,

both of them survivors of TDES

Her with that painted professional smile,

him in those worn out construction boots, hardhat and

work gloves

She walks up to him, swaying on invisible waves,

long bare legs and high leather held black-laced boots.

“Hey Joe you got a smoke?”

With a light she gives him that smile.

“How’s your war going, Joe?”

“Losing with a smile on,” he says.

“Still hiding behind Hadrian’s wall, hey?”

giving him the eye, lighting his own smoke.

“Why’s life so hard for Hey Joe?”

“Because God’s a bigger drunk than I am.”

She laughs with that long painted smile.

Grasping his right pocket arm, holding him tight and close,

“Do you have any dreams Joe?”

“Yeah 2 mugs of beer at the end of my day.”

“When you getting off work?”

“When God turns out the lights.”

A car pulls up.

“No rest for the wicked,” she says.

“Take care Joe.”

That rush-hour bus ride to the DTES

with a dead surrendered face’

wishes he could sell his soul for a seat.

Stands there in cement-covered dust,

his tool belt over that sore right shoulder.

Gets off on Main St.

Feels like he’s getting off some U-Boat

being a Bully

not Canadian

not polite.

Wishes he was back in Toronto.

Pushes his way through.

He cashes his $52 slave labour check at the Ivanhoe,

the closes tavern.

That smell,

that comfortble darkness.

“You buy 2 beer and we cash your check.

Just sign here, Joe” the bartender says

with a Roman highway face.

With 2 mugs of beer he heads for that dirty fish-bowl

smoke room.

His body sits down like a crash landing plane.

He downs the first one in silance and pain.

She sits in the corner with her double vodka,

her long-fingereed hand saying hi.

One Sundaay afternoon they were the only ones

swimming in that dirty fish-bowl.

Her with her double vodka and him with 2 mugs of beer.

She says hi with that long painted smile.

“How’s your war going Joe?”

“Me and God don’t fight on Sundays.”

She laughs like a song bird.

“Come home with me, Joe.”

They make love

with eyes wide open,

he climbs up and down her long body

kissing every part of her

until the sun gives in to darkness.














Laundry day with Charles Bukowski

It takes a six-pack just for him to get it together

In that dirty underground room of his

His radio is cranked

“London’s calling”

He gets that mess together into a pile

Condemned rages, he thinks and cracks another beer

With a pillow case and a box of soap

he heads out

with that beer-stain Bukowski book of poems

The Days run Away Like Wild Horses

His rooming house is in the DTES

The laundromat is around the corner

The cashier just on his left

The rat, tat, tat of a sewing machine

behind the counter

He heads for the back

Chairs, tables, scattered newspapers

He stuffs his stinky rags into a washer

He stays and reads Bukowski

Puts his workman’s rags into the dryer

Sinks enough quarters in for an hour

and heads for the closes bar

“I’ll have two of your cheapest draft”

he says to the young bartender

He puts Bukowski’s book down

to get at a twenty-dollar bill

“I think Mr.Bukowski would approve”

the bartender says

“I read his shit in college, a lot of us have, dude”

He heads for that dirty-fish-bowl smoking room

Thinks, all-right college students still read Bukowski

After the third round and another poem

“Song of my typewriter”

He heads back in sun glasses

Through a gauntlet of drug addicts

Curled up in dirty street blankets

Syringes scattered with garbage everywhere

Skinny hardened rat-faced drug addicts

Committing suicide slowly

He stops as this twenty-year-old kid jumps

in front of him wrapped in a blanket

holding a garbage bag suitcase

Thin, tall, shaggy long blond hair, blue eyes

a sculpted bronze sunken pimpled face

Wondering if he’s that fallen angel

He looks at him from head to bare dirty feet

“Do you want to buy some crack?”

“No my life is hard enough kid

I don’t have to make it harder man”

Stumbles into the laundromat

feeling like he just escaped a bunch of zombies

The place is full

With the extinct middle class

Watches them as they slowly turn into fossils

Feels more pity for them

Than the ones that are outside committing suicide

He opens the dryer door

“Jesus Christ,hot as hell”

he says out loud

Bangs his head

Curses in silence


Then hears a little voice

“Mommy there’s another man arguing with God again”

He turns around and takes off his sun glasses

A little girl with sun-kissed freckles smiles

As she sits there, on the table

Her mother continues folding their clothes

With a smile she says

“Let the man be, Sara”

“My laundry is really hot”

he says in his own mad defiance

Stuffs his rags into his pillow case

Thinks only of that other warm six-pack

Says goodbye to the little girl and her mom

Apologize to them and God

He heads back to that dirty little underground

To drink and read

Bukowski’s drunken Knowledge.

Drunken Laundry Day With Charles Bukowski

Was one of three winners in the 2011 Downtown Eastside Writers’

Jamboree Writing Contest.

Others where.

Lorren Stewart. A Little Girl

Daggar Earnshaw. Wine and Doorbells

We where publish in Geist magazine issue 82

The jamboree was organized by the

Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University

With support from the Carnegie center

 Friends of the Vancouver Public Library

People’s Co-op Book store and the Geist Foundation.

Also published in


Writing from Vancouver’s

Downtown Eastside.

Laundry Day with Bukowski

Thru all this

Born thru all this

Lived thru all this

Walked alone thru all this

Hated thru all this

Loved thru all this

Drank like a madman thru all this

Workes like a slave thru all this

Lost myself thru all this

Typed down my madness thru all this


Felt real thru all this.

The DTES Doesn’t Hide Its Pain

Madness runs deep down here

Fear and hate rule down here

Sadness screams down here

Death is buzzy down here

The DTES doesn’t hide its pain

Here people ride on the end of a dragon’s tail

They eat their sins alone

They cry alone

They die alone in the company of deaths tired arms

The DTES doesn’t hide its pain

On a drunk again

Hating myself again

Killing myself again

Broke again

The DTES doesn’t hide its pain.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.