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May Mar 22
In times of difficulty,
the nation needs unity.

Days have passed by,
many people died,
yet numbers of deaths still multiply,
now we are terrified.

Went by No Frills to do grocery,
it was very busy,
line up was crazy,
not to mention, shelves were almost empty.

Thinking to get plenty
but I realized that the elderly,
is our main priority.
I know this is not our responsibility,
but we are in the state of emergency,
and they need our help badly.

Consideration is the key,
everybody has a necessity,
I know you're worried about your inventory,
and you have a family
who needs a coffee and a tea,
but what about the rest of the community?
دema Mar 17
whenever this feeling
of uneasiness visits my skin,
i convince the goosebumps
that im just overthinking,
that im not in danger,
that they only show
because warmth is
a foreigner wandering
the premise of my heart,
but when I consult
my heart,
it tells me that this
warmth brings
back memories
of when it
was stone cold,
a feeling that is
now unbearable
to even imagine.
دema Mar 8
you make loving
unconditionally
my agenda for
everyday,
you make
living in the
moment a
feeling i’ve missed
on my entire life,
you make sunshine
seem dim in the
presence of your
warmth,
you make the
hours feel like
minutes
and make hours out
of minutes,
you make
rainbows replace
my thoughts,
you make the butterflies
in my stomach
work extra hard
and the blood rushing
too fast, too hard,
trying to catch up
with the rush
going through
my body
when i hold
your hand.
Every morning while it was dark
He'd wake and pack his boards
With plastic men, his soldiers
To do battle with no swords

He'd put them in his basket
Load them all into the cart
He'd have a tea and bagel
And then, his day would start

He would walk from his apartment
To the park, before the sun
Two miles and a quarter
Just past highway eighty one

There, inside the complex
In the middle of the park
He'd play chess, against all comers
And he'd stay 'till after dark


A prodigy at ten years old
He would beat men three times his age
He would sit there in stunned silence
As they stormed around in rage

A master by his eighteenth year
He hadn't lost on his home ground
He would play and play and nothing else
To the chess board he was bound

Although he had his title
He couldn't leave to play
If he left the country
Then, back home is where'd he stay

He played some competitions
Made his points to climb the list
But, still he kept on thinking
Of the games that he had missed

I saw him in Toronto
Playing for a buck a game
He played against  all comers
The result, always the same

His accent was a harsh one
His beard was slightly rough
With some he'd be a softie
With others, he was gruff

Each day he'd make the journey
Pull his boards down and set off
He'd joke about while playing
And at bad moves he would scoff

"In Russia, they would shoot you"
"If you made a move like that"
Was he lying in the bushes
Should you move or just stand pat?

He moved on down to Yonge Street
When the park land all was sold
No one knew just why it happened
He went there, and it was closed

On a small street down by Eatons
He moved his boards so he could play
He didn't need to walk there now
He could now go by subway

There was more room here for players
To learn at this man's feet
They would line up with their dollars
Knowing full well, they'd be beat

The crowd that came from Yonge street
To see this rock star of the board
Were much different from the park folk
But to this street they poured

College players, bankers
Strippers from the Zanzibar
would come and drop their dollar
Then lose and find a bar

As time went on, his game it changed
He'd take more time for his moves
He would talk more as distraction
And once I saw him lose

His brain was getting fuzzy
Age was now taking a toll
Time, it owned his body
But the board still owned his soul

He'd flirt with the young maidens
Showing cleavage in the sun
One girl even flashed him
Because she thought she'd won

He joked about her actions
Told the crowd that it was nice
He joked that if she showed some more
He'd let her come close twice

As time went on the master
Didn't come downtown each day
He'd stay at home in silence
Downtown was far away

He dreamed of heading home again
But, he knew that couldn't be
Then we saw him on the news one night
On the local CBC

He played downtown for seven years
He last played in 85
He took sick and nearly passed on
Thankfully, the master did survive

His name was Josef Smolij
He was Polish, but we thought
He was Russian from his comments
Made when our bad moves were caught

His absence still is felt there
Gould street it was his space
The area he used to play
Is now called Hacksell Place

He left and went to Europe
Germany became his home
But still down there off Yonge street
The old chess ghosts still roam

I remember playing Smolij
I remember it was hot
I lost and then he told me
"Back in Russia...you'd be shot"

He was 60 when I played him
He'd be 99 or so
I'm glad I got to meet him
The Master known as Joe
based on Josef Smolij, chess player extraordinaire who played first at Allan Park then Gould street in Toronto. He played from 1978 to 1985 downtown. He was a fixture in downtown Toronto. I played him three times, and got beat like a drum each time. The first part is fictional based on fact, then fact at the end.
LLillis Nov 2019
Chaos slowly builds
on a bell that will not ring.
Children wait. Hopeful.
Winter showed up in force today with our first mild snow storm. The first significant snowfall is always a trying time in Toronto. Endless sirens, plows, shoveling, and salt. The lingering memories of what a snow day use to mean and the harsh juxtaposition of adulthood leaves me just as bitter as the cold.
LLillis Nov 2019
Trembling walls groan.
The roaring arrival of
winters bitter scorn.
دema Jul 2019
close your eyes
and feel the sea
watch the water
turn blue, green and teal,
let the wind take the lead,
breathe in the sun,
don’t let your sins bleed,
exhale out all the deadlines,
and shine.
b Apr 2019
On my last subway ride
I fixate on the plastic map that rims the gap above the exit.

My eyes follow from Ossington, west down the line two.
I stare with such detail.
If the subway weren’t so packed
maybe I’d steal that map for myself.
Put my hands on each corner
and pull out the edges from their holders.
Roll it up into my hoodie
and sneak out like I’d stolen a priceless jewel.
Too many people on the subway I thought, that’s why I won’t.

I take the 44 home from the subway,
and think about how ***** it feels.
How it wasn’t the storybook ending I imagined.
Where everyone hugs and maybe someone cries.
The sky was grey and I was running errands.

As I left for the train station early next morning
I thought about how I may never see these buildings the same way. You have to be in the city to see the buildings this way.
Looking out at the patios that riddle the downtown outskirt condo’s, each floors’ stacked on top of another.
How nice it must be to live so close to a skyline.
How nice it must be to stand outside and still miss the rain.
i love you toronto
It was a night like this
Back in old T. O.
When a woman froze to death
In the cold and frigid snow

I passed her in the morning
I saw her laying on the grate
With all she owned around her
I did not then know her state

It was early nineteen eighty one
The polar winds did blow
A woman froze to death that night
In the cold and frigid snow

It was right outside the local "Y"
The doors were locked up tight
She lay upon the heating grates
To make it through the night

Passers by ignored her
They just looked away instead
In the morning when I passed her
I did not know that she was dead

I think back on that image
Of her laying with her stuff
I ask myself "when will we stop"
"and say enough's enough"

The homeless are not garbage
Disposable, their not
A woman froze to death outside
Is this the best we've got?

A woman froze to death one night
And no one seemed to care
Life goes on with her now gone
As though she was not there

Like the woman back on Church Street
In the cold Toronto snow
The image now is frozen
Like the woman in T.O.
passed by a woman who froze to death in early 1981 outside of the local YMCA
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