Poetry

Not a Broad

winnipeg 2 PointDouglasInferno001 winnipeg 5 winnipeg 6

on the road near to where the
Assiniboine twists and ice skaters
play, a cardboard sign held by a
bandaged hand reads “pawned my
heart for a warm meal” standing
underneath mighty elm trees
with branches crackling under
the weight of winter snow and
sorrow where the cold burns my
eyes and the tears freeze before
they hit the ice crunching and
cracking under my feet that carry
me through the too-early twilight
where everyone’s practically related
so we console ourselves at Cousin’s
with beer before I swallow my
fear and take the short cut home
anyway, silently hoping the only
footsteps I hear are my own, pass
summer memories of girls selling
roadside cookies and west broad 1 west broad 4 Winnipeg-Bridge-Night_thumbboys defiantly
spraying me with machine gun
water pistols between the endless
cars driving by and by and the
bikes bumping along the potholes
witness to the garbage dumpsters
piled high that never get picked up
on time, no matter, our backlane
is the next best thing to the Good
Will, always plenty of abandoned
mattresses and velour couches to
torch and it makes me wonder if
these bricks and trees could talk
and lift us above the rooftops and
say in unison “this West is not a
Broad you can just have your Way
with” and I could get over my
affectations and cheezy cliches and
declare that this neighbourhood
lives and breathes despite the refuse
and she’s a sensation junky and
if only united we stand was with
the people of West Broadway and
not a misguided patriotic slogan
imposed on us from a misogynist
capitalist, makes me wonder who
owns this neighbourhood squeezed
between great waste of life and
happy-granola-land echoing with
class wars waging almost a century
ago when strikers marched on the
Gates of capitalist hell to bargain
for our collective rights and now
the streets are framed by silhouettes
hunched over payphones because
they can’t afford to pay for a phone
and I can afford to choose to live
here, but many have no choice
meanwhile I carry my compost
to the community garden under
“do not cross” police tape and
we’ve got to find a way to cross
these lines that divide us so this
river and these trees will always be
witness to our struggles to live and
learn or we’ll pawn our hearts for a
moment’s peace and lie down in the
snowbank and let the distant trains
lull us to sleep.

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