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.

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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

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

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