Holding vigil

Still, even now

their voices carry forward

they rise with the heat

a flame of hope that burns

in the end of every year

These penitents and pilgrims gather

in annual purgatories circled

in calendars on their walls

The very last week of a decade

when these flames burn brightest

and your noisy exit echoes

on through ages long

With black and white stills

that you still recall in color

The place, the date, the time

Still belonging to a now

that most have never known

Now holding vigil

for fellow travelers astray

 

Hastings Street Coffee House, April 83

Three AM on Saturday

we were crowded in a doorway

Bars closed, we sheltered from the rain

The drops beaded on your poncho

like flower petals the morning after

I saw you before around the billiards

Two other pubs and fourteen bottles

A spark in your jade eyes remembered

I let you enter first

and never saw you again

But your jade eyes in the mist

saw me home in the dark

 

Our awful legacy

Black and white portraits

gaze innocent from the page

They give no indication

of the awful people we’d become

Black and white or grainy color

youth looks the same in any age

Their faces show no inkling

of the awful weight that is to come

Relentless time and gravity

will ever awaken the sleeping rage

when hopeful dreams face resistance

to these awful times that are now your home

Intersections

At the end of suburban matrix

where the macrosphere meets

Industry and consumer briefly intersect

In the concrete world

where all dreams are asphalt

Orphaned sub-lots overgrown with weeds

Amid cement barriers wire and pipe enter the earth

like a needle into fertile veins

of a patient sustained on life support

Nearby the flies swarm

over pedigreed road kill

Their flesh feeds teeming masses extant

manna from heaven in their exile

as they flee their urban chains

 

Dundas East, New Years Day 83

Cold, bitter, arctic mass

A low winter sun blazed brilliant

Searing hole of fire

in broad azure tapestry

All sounds traveled sharp

amid the steam of our breath

from the icy walk beneath your boots

I wondered did you hear it

through those purple ear muffs

I was afraid to ask you

I didn’t think you’d come

Je regrette, Mademoiselle Cameron

Once we’d arrived I didn’t know

Why you’d want to be with me

for I was no one

I had nothing

and you didn’t even know my name

 

Parliament Hotel, December ’82

Sherbourne Street beneath streetlights

Upward gaze through snowy veil

as Christmas eve fell white

Wonder for a day, then rain

and the grey beneath washed clean

A foreign body amid faces unknown

Present yet unaccounted

Dispossessed and liberated

Arrived with other vagabonds

and continental rejects expelled

Reflux of a cold war, forgotten like me

Shabby hallways, dimly lit

where hardwood floors groan under burden

of near a century’s bootprints

My own strange soil deposited

left in cracks that go unseen

We shared roll your own Drum in silence

two liters of vodka for a Christmas feast

Discovering our common ground

Western man’s universal disdain