I ran away
Took my heart
With me to stay
Flogged by dust
Run by dogs
Hit a wall
Here I watched the scooters fly
With an ilk of serene
Cursing through my softening veins
Incensed by the tropical glow
Of a soft wind.
A dog, likely stray
Knowing no restriction
Just a search
In a lazy haze
A soft bell blowing in the wind
Caused an easy glance
To float upon the day
Coming in and going out
Leaving traces upon my brow
In a heated moment.
There will be a day
Where I do not wish
Do not send
Just let and smile
The city hums
In a respectful flow
A common thought
That is constantly tested
Who are never home.
I felt good beating away my irrational fear
That this hungry stranger was wild man
He did have some unkempt parts about him
But nothing more than your average man.
He said he’d been working on a pig farm
Just inside the Ontario border
For the last four years
A smell I had keenly detected
When I first met him.
He warmed over as he drank the tea
And soon he was calmer
As the dog stopped growling at the stranger
The fire I kept going I’m sure
Also brought up his spirits.
I fed him toasted bread, jam, and eggs
And sent him off to the barn
Before darkness set in.
I hadn’t brought my axe with me
But the dog started to growl
At the stranger huddling there
Back turned to me,
I stood there a while
So he wouldn’t get startled
Which didn’t work too well,
He jumped a foot in the air
When the dog barked at his back
Turning around quickly
With an evil look in his snarl
But I still feel I may have mistook evil
For hunger the man had.
The dog barked loudly that night
As rain came pouring down our windowsills
As if there were a man
Standing just outside
Heaving heavy buckets full
Of water as a stream.
Eventually I cursed enough
That I threw on my thick raincoat
And ploughed through the yard
Looking for anything suspicious –
Dog at my side leading the way.
We rounded the barn
To see the chicken house door
Standing open, no chickens yet escaped
Flapping in the wind.
Crouched over was a man inside
A few egg shells around his muddy boots
Still dripping fairly heavily.
That first night Amy put an extra serving
Of stew on for me
With the most delicious dumplings I’ve had
This side of the Mississippi
And a most rare treat of cookies
I couldn’t say no to
As we ate, Clarinet’s big eyes
Kept finding me and we’d laugh and giggle
For I wasn’t used to strangers, either!
I did not have any of Frank’s ferments
That he had made himself
And was quite proud of
I had sworn off any alcohol
Since the devil had taken Emma, my sister,
Off with her and a shotgun
But this I didn’t tell ol Frank
Too kind of a man he was.
As dawn broke, I was already awake
I had elected to sleep outside
Beside their fire pit
Keeping a low fire going for most of the night
That affording me some enjoyable heat
And kept the dogs close
I was eager to see more of their spread
Which I think Frank picked up on,
Showed me his garden,
They had two sheep and one goat
The goat they said was a wedding present
From Amy’s parents
And two good looking quarter horses
He was very proud of.
We decided that the best thing I could help them with
Was to help fall two cedars
And buck and chop for the oncoming winter
They were already quite prepared
But I could see that Frank was a smart man
And knew what needed to be done
When somebody was asking what could be done.
At first we used his two-man saw
That must have been two meters long
To cut down the carefully selected trees
You don’t really know the sound of a falling tree
Until you’ve stood on the ground that shakes
When one of those silent giants falls
The two that we picked were about
Sixty cm in diameter
And with Frank’s well kept saws
We had the both of them on their sides
Within half an hour
For the rest of the first two days we made our way
Up and down the trees
First cutting off all the branches
Then bucking everything into
Thirty cm rounds
It took the better part of the next three days
To chop the rounds into
What could then be used in Amy’s warm oven.
When I was a little lad
I can remember quite vividly
How I’d run around in wool:
Jackets, mittens, and a toque.
Rosy cheeks would rush between
Piles of raked leaves
Exploding as a shaggy dog may
Tongue half way to the ground.
I remember putting my nose
Pressed right to the ground,
Smelling dirt and grass
And observing in minute detail
Leaves turning from green to brown
Crackle them along veins
Once so vibrant, so alive, fresh
Now so similar to the dirt
Squished between my fingers.
Busy in the dizzying mirth
Of all such decay.
Here, I would stay,
Madly fascinated with stacked flower pots
Textures of clay now everywhere!
From where did they come?
Every Autumn was fun,
Chopped logs and canning jars,
Hockey sticks and Halloween,
Snow banks and toboggan pulls.
I can remember the dying sun.
Left my heart up in the mountains
I’ll need a shovel to get it back
One too many lonely days
Without a warm gunnysack.
Had a song bird on my deck
Whistling a tune I’d never heard
Sent for a fine six string guitar
Came back with an ol’ banjo.
Went off in the meadow with my lover
She had on a little backpack
Got stuck in a swamp with little booties on
Came out with her bare feet black.
Oh, troubles around every corner
Whether you’re looking back or not
Creek still runs, dog still laps
And I’ve gone back to my lonely shack.
Where I come from, wounded soldiers are hid behind shadows and only come out at night when small dogs are being walked by wobbling, aging men wearing the same thing they’ve worn for 20 years. The leash, however, fits just as it should. I wonder, rather curiously, what sports or video game they’re missing as they pull the mutt home.
When I sit and stare at the business, it rolls by in a drawl so thick, screaming girls in stretch limos seem normal down city streets where younger hip dudes with Chuck Taylors on discard the evening’s steaming pile of dog shit into an overflowing disposal bin painted green.
Lights on a distant sports building shift through the lower half of the color spectrum, causing the young girls white dog to turn a more rusty yellow. I try not to look at her puppy while she ruffles the poop bag. Young white boys talking in a foreign tongue park their father’s white suburban in a permit required zone and pass their joint around as if it’s their first nudie magazine at summer camp.
I sit silently, sipping on my micky of Sailor Jerry’s and pretend there’s nobody I’m thinking of and somebody to walk home to. I left the light on beside the bed to give off some sort of impression anyways.