East Hastings (day 1539)

I watch a line slowly trace a sidewalk
Up a wide street called Hastings.
Glitter trash slipping off
Into fuzzy life lessons in a tracksuit.

I plug my nose because last nights urine party
Leaves a sour taste that makes me uneasy.
But I like the back alleys
Where life is avoided and you avoid eye contact.

Alley walls make me think.
I look at them wondering how many years it’s been
Since the last painting was applied.
How much more graffiti can be tolerated
Before a shop owner thinks they have a more alluring color.

I stay clear of crowds gathering at bus stops.
They loiter and litter,
And ask bus drivers for free fares,
Assuming they’re sober enough to acknowledge
The annoyed union worker.

I’m not afraid to lock my bike here though.
I know the game enough to know when to be walking
Hand in hand with a lover who’s [not] scared.
I know my way home and I’ve got the good places marked.

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