Archive for August 2, 2019




22 March 2012

i’m sitting on the sidewalk
as a woman sobs on my shoulder.
i put my arm around her
and say, “it’s okay.”
knowing that nothing is okay,
it will never be okay.

i’m way out of my depth.
i don’t know what to do
or to say.
anything that comes to mind
is shallow and meaningless.
this woman’s experiences
are completely foreign to me.

all I can do is let her cry,
tell her that she has forgiveness,
that what saddens her,
what keeps her awake
or gives her nightmares
is all in the past.
it’s time for her to forgive herself
and love herself
and live
in the present moment.

she can’t go on.
she can’t stand the pain.
she can’t do this any more.
drink is the only thing
that numbs her mind
enough to endure,
enough to pass out at night
and do it all over again
the next day.

i can only do
and say so much.
it’s always a pleasant surprise
to see her sitting on the sidewalk
knowing that she’s made it
through another night;
that she hasn’t been taken
by violence, sickness
or the police.

i do what i can.

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5 April 2013

It snowed last night, so the sidewalks were damp. Joy was sitting on her plastic storage crate, I sat on my backpack.

“I’m really cold,” said Joy. “Under this blanket and coat I’m wearing a windbreaker, but I tell you, it’s not breaking any fuckin’ wind. Every time I lean over a breeze whips up my back. When I woke up this morning I noticed that I had a starter of fourteen dollars. I didn’t think I had that much left from yesterday. I was going to stay home, but I figured, I’m up, there’s nothing else to do, so I might as well go to work.

“Andre was over last night. I cooked supper for him. At 10:30pm I was getting tired, I told him, ‘Look, you’ve got to go. I have to be up at 4:30am.’ He asked, ‘Can’t I just sleep on the floor.’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t feel comfortable.’ He said, ‘You look comfortable, sitting there in your long johns and sweater.’ I said, ‘If you weren’t here I’d be in my boxers and tee shirt.’ I don’t have to worry about Andre, apart from his usual groping, but I don’t like men staying over. I like my privacy.

“I have to piss like a racehorse. Can you watch my stuff? I’m going to have to go to the library. I went into the pizza place this morning and the manager was waiting for me at the bathroom door when I came out. He said, ‘You can’t just come in and use the washroom. It’s for customers only.’ I said to him, ‘A lot of your customers are buying coffee and breakfast for me.’

“Andre and I ate breakfast there last week. They serve too much food. I had to stuff the sausages in my pocket, to eat later. It must have cost us about thirty bucks, but it was sure good. I love sausages.

“I’m really feeling cold. I’m waiting for one of my regulars, the Australian guy. He comes every Friday if he’s in town. I’m going for forty dollars this morning, so far I’ve got thirty-four. If he doesn’t show I’m going to leave.”

I said, “Last time I was at the point (traffic Island). I had a long talk with Mariah. She seems really nice.”

“Yeah, she is. I f you look at her sideways and imagine a wart on her nose, you’d swear it was the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Just think about it.

“Andre told me that she was a nympho, so I asked her about it. She said, ‘Yeah, I am.’ I said, ‘But, you don’t have a man around. She went to one of her drawers and pulled out a bunch of toys and told me how she used them. That was too much information. She’s not into women though, either am I.

“Hi sweetie,” Joy said to a man I recognized. “I was just telling Dennis here that I was waiting for my Australian friend.”

“Actually, I’m not Australian, I’m Dutch.”

“I’m sorry, I’m not good at accents.” He handed Joy a folded bill.

“Thanks, that just made my day. You’ve been traveling haven’t you?”

“Yes, I’ve been away.”

To me, she said, “That’s it, I’m out of here!”


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