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

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

DEATH Isn’t Lonely

Death isn’t lonely

In the downtown Eastside

People wait

for him

in long lines

I hide in my typewriter

hoping that Death is lost tonight and

won’t be banging on my hotel room door

By midnight

I finish off another six-pack

and hope he will takes over the world

so I don’t have to drag my ragged self to work at five a.m.

Putting on my old, sad steel-toe boots

I walk with Death now

keep him company through the DTES

He tells me his nightmares and how hard works is lately

Have a good day at work. See you later, Henry

I walk with my own

nightmares as he goes

A yellow sheet covers just another homeless man

His wheel chair sits on Hastings Street

 

Copyright © 2015 by Henry Doyle

Published in V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

edited by John Mikhail Asfour and Elee Kraljii Gardener

Untouchables

The cops have capured just another simple drug addict mule

Her skinny ragged body shivers fearfully in the high afternoon sun

The handcuffs on her wrist melting off

A black lace purse is on the hood of the cop car

With its contents scattered out

A crack pipe, syringes and a fresh baggy of rock cocaine

Like a wild animal in a hunter’s trap

She shivers fearfully for her ragged life

Not because she is going to jail

She’II be released in the morning with a court date

She shivers fearfully

Looking across the street at the

Untouchable drug dealers

That gave her the fresh baggy of drugs to hold on to

They inturn look back at her like hungry wolves

She’II be lucky if they just beat on her in that dirty third world hotel room of hers

Praying that they won’t strip her naked and throw her backwards out the window

With her running shoes being tossed out twenty seconds later.

 

For Ashley Machishinic.

Copyright © 2015 by Henry Doyle

Published in the Megaphone, Vancouver’s street paper, Issue 67. November 26. 2010.

Published in the Carnegie Newsletter, January 15, 2011.

Lucky loser

I find a half pack of stale smokes

behind some novels of

Bukowski’s drunken knowledge

look into the night with a smile

walk through the rains of January

too the bar

without stepping on any lines

I do that at times

when there’s a poem in me

that wants to escape

the madness within

I head for that smoke room

sit in the corner

with pen and paper

two mugs of beer

I drink alone

I let that poem escape

onto blank paper.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Henry Doyle

Published  in  STORYBOX:  an anthology from the Thursdays Writing Collective.

Edited by Elee Kraljii Gardiner,  Otter  Press, Vancouver.B.C www.thursdayspoemsandprose.ca