I don't believe in God.
I believe in dark skinned girls
That scream Leviticus at the two
Teenagers on my second bus home.
I believe in my mother heaving
Her woes while my father
Tells me to change the channel and
Stop being so bad at life, as though
Theres a syllabus I never studied which
Teaches you that the expensive apples
Are the sweetest and the 60c ones
Will leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
I believe that you can be bad at math
But good at physics because you know
That a stone thrown from x will weigh c
And therefore get to y within k amount
Y being you and c being me, naturally.
I believe that chewing on foil is bad
For your mouth but is a stress reliever
For all the times that your work has
Been ripped up and then thrown
Back at your face, as if symbolising
Your entire eduction.
I believe that there is a light at the
End of this tunnel but you've got to
Hold my hand while we feel the walls
For a switch.
I've memorised the patterns of your face,
the creasing twitches your mouth makes.
The way your hair sticks out on end,
Your slouch to wear a backpack.
The crinkle of your nose when you concentrate,
how the backs of your arms are perfectly straight.
The difference between your real smile and the one caught on camera,
the way you hide your perfect teeth.
How a single piano note mimics your voice,
singing for as long as you can hold it.
Prettier than hansom,
You're flawless, just out of a ziplock bag.
An early morning drug in your bloodstream
erases oxidized pennies under your skin.
I know the bridge of your nose, the space between your eyes,
nesting places for discouraged fingertips.
The way your spine bends at the top for the things that count,
your delicately cantilevered shoulders
giving away your mind.
Oblivious to the world around you.
Let me take a word picture of you, before it's too late.
Sandwich you between memory foam,
preserving your shapely bone structure.
Stains and formaldehyde reached for off of shelves.
Your skinny arms that are too long,
Narrow hips that sway for any melody.
The things you cheer for that you don't care about.
If we put them end to end, tell me the surface area of your apathy.
How carefully did you chose your ringtone,
to perfectly match your flannel shirt?
Buttons done up to the one that's missing,
you pick at loose threads, regretting holes you have yet to make.
Write a monologue for your own entertainment.
Other's compositions are pretty,
but give no comfort
when you’re surviving off an IV drip.
You know the sound of the words you need to hear,
whispering them to yourself when you're alone,
wearing them like an inside out sweater.
Hiding good ideas beneath your uncombed hair.
Distract yourself at a museum.
The oil paintings depicting ancient lives
hang on nails falling out of disintegrating plaster.
Wonder of the people never painted.
You let the milk at the corner of your mouth dry,
shutting the door behind you
because you weren’t expecting come back this way again.
saloon shutters swishing under attractively feminine palms.
Slender with a pelt of checks and stripes,
a spot or two inlaid on your baby face.
Hugs and teddybears lower their voices
to speak softly about siblings.
Quiet cots lie in close clusters
on tables and the ground.
Thin military surplus stores project documentaries
of what it's like to be with you.
Pressed hard to the back of high speed comfy seats
accelerating like amusement park rides.
Uttering a cry for help,
arms reach, waving.
I called your name out through the quiet crowd.
Eyes widened, turning,
hostile basketball jerseys stared
As I said my last words.
Bad posture and skinny arms
recite treaties written by irrelevants.
Vestigial memory tricks in three ring binders
mnemonics click and chatter.
Clean your palette of what's edible,
chew on tinfoil and sharks.
Adept teeth pointing backwards
towards your stomach.
Carrying ice cream sandwiches in your backpack
along with detonation codes
for bombs that don't belong to you,
melted dairy making scraps of paper sticky.
Novel scientific concepts
pill in the lining of your back pockets,
folded carelessly underneath a wad of bus tickets.
You’re becoming a miserable businessman.
Run amok with me, I may be slow,
but my sense of direction is much better.
You’re too manly to use maps,
adorably stereotypical in your square blue car.
I’m going on an adventure, won't you join me?
covertly adjust your swim trunks
to hide spilt soy sauce,
spend today smelling salty.
Take the stairs two at a time.
elegantly lean too far backwards,
plus a nudge to send you spilling off the banister.
Grab at the air with those musician fingers.
One, two, three elitists, what a sight.
Pursing your lips to draw silent judgements,
squinting your eyes and crinkling your nose,
cock your head in the mirror.
If you ever invite me to your house,
I promise I’ll look in every room.
Read your books over your shoulder,
try to understand you more.
After morning matinee
and after dinner
of sausages and mash
and baked beans
you met Helen
by the post office
at the end
of Rockingham Street
she had on
the red flowered dress
and held Battered Betty
by an arm
her hair was held
by elastic bands
and her thick lens spectacles
were smeary where
she'd touched them
but not cleaned them
where are we going?
how about London Bridge
we can watch the trains
come and go
and watch the porters
rush about with luggage
she gazed at you
through her thick lens
shall I tell my mum
where we're going?
sure if you think
be best if she knows
don't want her to worry
where I've gone
and so you both
to her mother's house
and she told her mother
and her mother came out
and looked at you
ok so long
as you're with Benedict
and so you walked back
along Rockingham Street
and got a bus
to London Bridge
and sat on the seats
by the conductor
and this guy with glasses
and a thin moustache
gazed at Helen
from the seat opposite
his eyes moving over her
his gaze focusing
on her knees
where her dress ended
he licked his lips
his hands on his thighs
Helen looked away
pretending she didn't
see him looking
you stared at the man
watching his eyes
dark and deep
they say it's rude to stare
the man looked at you
kids should be seen
and you're seeing a lot
he muttered something
and got off
at the next stop
a hard stare
Helen said nothing
but seemed relieved
after a while you got off
the bus at the railway station
and went inside
there were crowds
and the smell of steam
and bodies washed
and the sound of trains
getting ready to leave
and voices and shouts
of porters and rushing
and going and coming
and you sat
on a seat
on the platform
she with Battered Betty
and you with your
six-shooter in your
inside pocket ready
to get any bad cowboys
who came your way
and Helen said
why was that man
staring at me
on the bus?
just a creep
wanting a peep
peep at what?
I'm not beautiful
yes you are
anyway it wasn't
he was looking at
and a loud blast of steam
and a voice called
and a whistle blew
and you all
and Battered Betty
He was out the door, slammed shut in 2004
and he couldn't get back in even if he wanted to
because the lock broke after he moved out to Hadar
the arm pit of Haifa, and wouldn't tell me where he was
as a punishment for my banishing him.
A friend saw him on Masada street.
In the end that proved to be his street
oh, the time I had for friends, in the hot Mediterranean sun
dinners in cramped living rooms with laughter and wine and always
houmus. You can't eat a meal without it, and prints of art on the wall
and the cement floor, and the too many cats
So he'd crash in, do something that had to be done, insult me, and leave
and this was it
I sat in that big apartment with he fancy black cement floors and smoked
cigarettes and took the bus to the cat shelter to clean 25 cat boxes in a cold water
bath tub and set them out to dry in the sun
and hang discarded clothes on a fold out clothes rack, each cat got a shirt to lie on
and instant coffee and chocolate at 4:45 PM and cigarettes as cats walked around in the
But at home, sometimes I'd try to get him back, if I could
But he could always be so much more mean, poking at the tender spots
without remorse and I learned, not to fight back
Just to collapse and cry as the door slammed or he said something
and then stormed out, absolutely not caring
There were my friends, here I have no time for friends,
and I talked to him and prepared for a time when I'd go back and
have no time for friends again
Everything would be work, work, get yourself back on track
you've lost so much time
But here, too, the losses are deep and I sit in my own apartment, with
carpet and a dishwasher, that I could only have dreamed of having then
and my own car in the parking lot, and
People make me cry.
People where I work, people I mistook for friends
and it's better now, I now, if I can only follow through
to seek no revenge
but just to mourn
Because the world can be more cruel and cold and uncaring
than I can ever imagine
there's no competing
it's better to sit and cry here, too
(in the dream it is late March)
there's a light rain in Montréal & the sky
is a gorgeous, early-morning variety of slate grey. imagine the lid
of an old metal garbage-can.
everything is dismal, perfect. and quiet; even the people leaving the bars are silent.
dismally, perfectly, silent.
ghosts of old cats—belonging maybe to ghosts of old ladies who lived, say, just off St. Lau, back
in the eighties—ramble downhill, in the direction of rue St. Catherine (Saint Cat! O patron of felinity!) ,
between the legs of those spilling out from the trendy & shitty clubs.
some of the ghosts wander out into the street, flash thru car tires that would've (& have) (at one time)
smashed them to pulpy carpet on the asphalt.
(who goes to pick them up then? when the tires have had their way with them over & over?
when they are just hair & porridge by a sewage grate?)
after a greasy smoked-meat-on-rye or a nightcap at somebody's place, just off the drag,
i'm in a sodden, but warm overcoat, hands curled in the bottoms of it's pockets; mis-shapen mass
of hair plastered to my scalp; walking en bas de la montagne just past the McGill Medical Centre.
—this late, the busses back downtown are never on time.
(driver's probably having a few smokes before he starts that long tour down. full up of drunk kids,
taking one another back to their dorms, etc.)
(and what does he have, to look forward to at shift's end?
i. a cranky wife—past her prime?
ii. a buncha dogs—yapping for attention?
iii. some fucking kid—who's disrespectful & won't shut up or turn his stupid fucking punk-rock down?
—it's enough to make me patiently wait. i'll wait forever, as long as that isn't me.)
...'spose I'LL have a cigarette too. waiting
in the bus shelter on Ave. Des Pins looking down over the
football fields of the McGill Athletics Dept.
still lit up. no sun yet but
now at 4 AM a dull inch or two of lightened grey out there on the horizon.. dawn will come,
though i'd rather not face the day. all the mornings are so hard after nights like this.
bound to be hungover &
spend the day hiccuping in bed texting some girl; maybe get up
in the late afternoon t'fix coffee, toast & eggs.
sit on the balcony,
make my little guitar sigh,
and try to feel normal until i [have to] puke.
"—and who was that girl i spoke to for so long at St. Sulpice last night? how many gin-tonics did she let me buy myself, nattering on?.. probably too drunk to even get her number."
"—maybe Sean or Dylan will know if she came thru with anyone we knew.."
the bus is finally here. twenty-and-three minutes late. the back of it probably smells of
stale smoke, dim sun, and sweaty, rain-soaked cloth, absorbed from jackets into the seats—the eau du jour.
it's always a bump 'n jerk ride down the hill; bound to,
with the other handful of dumb & silent riders, drunkenly sway,
(or is it a natural compensation of the body, to groove along with the curves and stops?)
back & forth like carcasses of half-dozen slaughtered pigs
swinging on their hooks in back of a meat wagon..
(i'll end up getting on, but only for three blocks. i'll fucking walk the rest of the way home,
after that comparison. to hell with the rain.)
SIX MINUTES LATER:
(Avenue Des Pins still—4 blocks closer to downtown)
directly in line now with McGill campus via McTavish; this way i can
cruise down thru the silence of the main drag having a couple smokes drinking beer
(copped a 40 at a Dep before i left St. Lau—frosty under my arm enshrouded by brown paper.)
& be left to my own thoughts for fifteen minutes 'til i get to Sherbrooke
—i adore that fifteen-minute stretch down thru the jumble of
student associations, clubs, faculty offices, administration buildings, resources centres & the like;
all contained in the same red bricked, white trimmed victorian monster, multiplied threescore
on either side of the lane; all built in the early nineteen-hundreds, all acquired by the university in one of several expansion initiatives in a decade i won't bother to guess at, it doesn't matter. you don't care..
midway down the hill i stop and go sit on the verandah of one of the buildings,
the graduate studies in math offices —
cccrack that forty.
sit there with the sun JUST barely splitting the seam of the horizon feelin'
like the lyrics from a Sun Kil Moon song. nothing more or less.
"off to a good start," says i.
My heart spills with everything I have learned in the past six months,
this is my anthropology homework and how to mix paint
the exact amount of seeds (two and two fifths) to grow a proper squash
how many raindrops have evaporated on your tongue as well as
how much of your saliva that has been on mine
sugar from three hundred cups of coffee, that image on CNN of a bus
filling with gasoline then flames on the way to school
an elderly gentleman who called me sunshine at a restaurant
and that somehow you know the perfect way to break my heart so
it shatters, overflows, thunders, a bird bath of these experiences I keep.
I wanted nothing of this, but you poured warm water
to scrub your dishes with and I decided to wash my veins of you instead;
I did not erase the memory of you but the feeling of you
severed my arteries like the levee that broke in New Orleans when I
was nine, it flooded the whole neighborhood.
We regret different things every day, but they both mean the same thing.
A band-aid, ace bandage for my heart so it can swell like a basket
hoarding chicken eggs and pennies and feelings inside,
we both want the nerves repaired
so I feel your touch again, so I can risk being broken again, so sweet.
When I was little I used to play with dolls
I was obsessed, every birthday, they were all I’d want
They were mostly barbies but I had a few kens too
So my barbies could date, because that’s what people do
I used to match them up, the prettiest barbie was me
And the most handsome Ken, well that was who I’d need to be with
They would go on dates to the barbie mall
I had a little set with the shops and all
Barbie would go get her hair done in the hair salon
And Ken would go to the gym, work out, and get strong
Because that’s what I thought boys and girls were supposed to do
See without a second thought, that’s what I was told was true
So I as I grew up, I set out to find a Ken of my own
Someone I could love, with whom I would grow old
But no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find the right guy
No-one in my grade one class seemed to fit the bill
And I just couldn’t figure out why
And as I grew up, it seemed everyone around me did too
And next thing I knew my barbies were in a box going to the thrift shop
With all the clothing I’d outgrew
Middle school came, people started dating
My best friend got a boyfriend and started acting kind of vacant
People would never give up on asking who I liked
And they wouldn’t believe me when I said no one so I
Picked a guy, one of my friends, convinced myself I liked him
So the questions would end
Before I knew it, high school arrived
The first day of grade nine English, a beautiful girl caught my eye
I remember riding the bus home after school that day
And that little voice in my head said "hey Abby, you're gay"
Nah, no way, not at all, not me.
I’ve liked guys before, so it really can't be
I mean I'm fine with others being gay but that is them I'm me
I'm straight, I'm normal, not a character on glee
Throughout the next few weeks, as I got to know this girl better
The thought wouldn’t leave me alone, it kept running through my head and
So eventually I thought you know, enough is enough
I’m straight as an arrow, my thoughts can fuck off
Fuck this girl, no, not like that, in a metaphorical sense
Despite everything I secretly wanted, I pushed the thought out of my head
High school continued, the months dragged by
I even managed to convince myself I liked a couple guys
But something had changed, people were always asking if I was alright
They said I seemed down, and, well, they were right
I didn’t know why at the time, didn’t put two and two together
But denying myself of who I truly was, it wasn’t making things better
But then, one miraculous day, I was sitting with her at lunch break
My head was on her shoulder, and the thoughts, they came back again
But this time instead of bluntly saying “oh hey Abby, you’re gay”
They said “admit it, you know you really want to stay
Here forever, with your head on her shoulder”
And I thought damn I’m right, and then I looked over
At my friend, this girl, and before I knew what I was saying
The words came out of my mouth, hey um, I think I’m gay
Or maybe bisexual, I don’t really know, but you see there’s this girl
And I think I’m really into her
And she just looked at me, and I was so scared she was going to say
Something like ew, we can’t be friends if you’re gaaay
But she just said oh cool, is it anyone I know
And I laughed to myself, but still the relief flowed
Through me I had finally said it, admitted it, it was out there
I, Abby, kind of like a girl
And I had no idea what this meant for me, for my future
But I knew I felt like a huge weight had just lifted off my shoulders
Fast forward, one year later, I still liked that same girl a lot
She figured out it was her, but she was straight so that sucked
At that point, I was out to more people, almost everyone at school
And everyone accepted me, and I wasn’t the only queer one too
But then picture this, I’m sitting in a car wash
My mom and sister are in the front seat
And for some reason, it just came out of my mouth
Hey mom, Evy, I’m gay
For a second everyone sat there not knowing what to say
The water pounding on the roof of my car, until then my mom said
“Of course, we already knew you are”
So this was it, I was out, I soon told my dad
Well technically my mom told him but that wasn’t as bad
As it sounds, it’s a long story, for another time,
All I know is that at this point, I was no longer denying
Myself of who I was, but that self hatred that had harvested
When I was at my lowest point it never really went away
And yeah that’s something I struggle with even to this day
But at least I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am gay
In a bus built for two.
Long days with not a thing to do.
Just you and I happy as could be.
Not a thing to do; Not a thing to see.
And we could be so very happy.
With everything we'd be leaving behind.
Just a disappearance overnight.
Too a world much different than our own.
A world without war
A world without poverty.
A world of long days on the couch.
A world with stupid tv shows.
A world where we could be happy.
Waiting at road side
Waiting at bus stop
Waiting for bus ride
Waiting at coffee shop.
Waiting for one sight
Waiting in blazing sun
Waiting for what’s right
Waiting with hand-on-gun.
Waiting for brotherhood
Waiting for justice
Waiting for all that’s good
Waiting for pure bliss.
Waiting for one call
Waiting for heart throb
Waiting for cute doll
Waiting for good job.
Waiting for surprise
Waiting for high tide
Waiting for right price
Waiting for joy ride.
Waiting for gold dime
Waiting for one flick
Waiting for good time
Waiting for right click.
Waiting for good luck
Waiting for letter
Waiting for golden duck
Waiting for better.
Waiting to have it all
Waiting for opportunity
Waiting for final call
Waiting for almighty.
Was walking in a street one day
Nowhere to go, no one I knew
Heading to the unknown world
Hoping for nothing,
zero expectation ,
My head was empty
My heart sang a lonely song
I became a beggar not by choice
Lost everything in a stupid bet
Ended up in a lonely street...
Friends became enemies
Relatives deserted me
My wife changed her surname
My kids told friends their dad was dead
My thirst , my hunger was haunting me
and starvation killed my sleep
Sky was home, bus stop was bed...
Damned hungry... damned tired
Should I call Pizza Hut delivery?
checked my pocket...
hoping for a dollar or two
Shit! There was a big hole in my pocket!
What choice did I have now?
They all said " Beggars can't choose."