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 like they’re 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.

 

“Welfare Wednesdays Kill More People than Bombs”  

Copyright © 2017 by Henry Doyle

Geist Magazine, Number 104,  Spring 2017.

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

worksheet.

The place is as packed as a can of rotten sardines.

A 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.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Henry Doyle

Published in Geist Magazine

Number104

Spring 2017

SHOTGUNS IN THE SKY

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.

 

“The rotting of a heart…”

Charles Bukowski, from “Practice”

in The Roominghouse Madrigals.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Henry Doyle

Published in Geist magazine

Number 104

Spring 2017

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 6’1 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.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Henry Doyle

Published in Geist magazine

Number 104 spring 2017

Fuck the Poets

I write becauce my soul is on fire

All my sins and fears are here

It’s just another sick Tuesday

In the middle of the end

When time stops

Then cracks into two

You’ll find me there.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Henry Doyle

Published in  Voice to Voice: An anthology of music and transformation

Thursdays writing collective.

Edited by Elee K Gardiner, 2015  Otter Press.

Drunken 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

“Fuck”

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.

 

Copyright © 2011 by Henry Doyle

Drunken Laundry Day With Charles Bukowski

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

Jamboree Writing Contest.

 

Geist magazine issue 82

 

Also published in V6A:  Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Wishing you were still here

We are still trying to understand

Tripping over  Catcher and the Rye

In the middle of the road

Hoping to find Strawberry fields

Wondering what ever happen to give peace a chance

As bridges and walls fall

Thinking that love is all we needed

Never forgetting that score

13/13

Wishing you where still here

Imagine.

 

For John Lennon.

Copyright © 2011 by Henry Doyle