“heaven is great, earth is great, people are great” by Julia on her couch

Wednesday January 2, 2019
5 minutes
Living the Wisdom of the Tao
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

There’s a man I walk by everyday on my way to the grocery store. He has a different sign all the time but I know he’s asking for help. I’m waiting for the day he transforms from his sidewalk seat to a radiant standing man with a flowing robe. He will smile at all of us with his kind warm heart and say, “Sorry fuckers, don’t have room on this trolley for the inconsiderate.” Then all the people going in and out of Whole Foods will think about things for a minute. And I will be just like them. Because I have ignored him. I don’t even know what he looks like. I feel bad that I don’t want to give him anything so I walk with my head high in avoidance. I am aware enough to know that I am avoiding the aspect of myself that needs help, the one that doesn’t want pity, the aspect that is not making enough money. I am him and he is me and this lesson is a little too late learned for flowy asshole Jesus.

“There is a pay parking garage” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday March 10, 2017
5 minutes
From an email

In the basement of the building
forty nine stories high
there is a parking garage.
This is where Nan sleeps
in a recycling bin
laying on it’s side.
This is where people in
black and grey suits
park their Lexus and
their Prius and their
BMW. Nan did not imagine
that she would lose it
all. We all have problems.
Some of them are invisible.
Nan wakes to the BEEP BEEP
of the cars locking. Nan
wakes to the sound of heels
clicking on the concrete.
in a snowstorm
a bike courier with a joint
between his lips found her
and he screamed. He wasn’t
expecting to see anyone
he explained.

“show no signs of slowing down” by Julia at Starbucks in the Exchange District

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at Starbucks
5 minutes

Desperate and shivering, Reese made her way into a phone booth off of Marble and Casket Drive. She fumbled through her pockets for change, fumbled through her pockets for anything. Reese couldn’t find a single coin, her hands shaking from the wet cold outside that she had been facing all night. She rifled through her backpack one last time, wishing she’d saved some of her money for moments like this. She opened each pocket and frantically searched the contents, the lining, the holes that things could slip through. She held her bag upside down and shook with everything she had. Nothing fell out, not even a crumb of bread, which she was secretly hoping would happen. Reese sat herself down on the floor of the phone booth and let out, for what felt like the first time, a real proper scream. She screamed and screamed until her lungs hurt, until her voice was hoarse, howling at the moon. She didn’t have any way of making it through this night. She hadn’t ever planned to be a in a position where relying on loose quarters to survive was what she knew.

“Last Goodbye” by Julia at Ossington station

Wednesday December 18, 2013
5 minutes
from the Charles Bradley record

I told him with my eyes and my gentle kiss, blown into the wind so it would follow him home. He heard nothing was expected of him. People can’t hear eye love or wind kisses. It was stupid of me to think he would. When he didn’t turn around, it ruined me for a while. Long enough to break, find the prices, and put them back together again. They were a little jagged and a little mismatched like a puzzle put together by an impatient person, or a cheater. Someone who cuts the edges so they fit the way they “should”. I examined them in the brief moment of loneliness I was in and I decided then and there to give away my poems to the homeless and my romanticism to the food bank. Surely they would need them more than I did. Surely someone in their lives would have a place for misguided ideals and hopes beyond reasonable doubt.

“LESS ORDINARY” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday December 14, 2013
5 minutes
Guinness Black Lager streetcar ad

There’s a man living in the bus shelter at the end of my street. He has a chair, a recycling bin filled with an assortment of papers and Tim Horton’s cups and a yellow blanket. As it gets colder, I find myself thinking of him when I unlock the door to my warm apartment. When I walk by him, I avert my eyes and then feel guilty. I regret not bringing him a tangerine or a sandwich. Leftovers. Last night, coming home from a late shift at the restaurant, I rounded the corner and forgot about him. Then I heard a voice. Singing. I peeked in the bus shelter and he was sitting in his recycling bin, the yellow blanket draped over his head. I paused. I smiled. It started to snow. Big, fluffy, feather flakes. I thought about his toes. I thought about the socks in my drawer that I never wear because they don’t allow my feet to fit into shoes.

“OPEN HOUSE” by Julia at Dundonald Park in Ottawa

Thursday, October 3, 2013
5 minutes
from the Saint Paul University Poster in Dundonald Park

Charlie and I are planning to make the big move to the city. She already has a set of cute bowls she wants us to get. “No more second-hand items”, She told me, “unless they’re vintage”. I didn’t want to break her little heart by telling her that people in the city don’t necessarily have nicer things or more money-but she wouldn’t have wanted to listen to me anyway. Ever since I get my promotion she’s been letting her imagination run wild–thinking about how our lives would just magically improve because we’re leaving this itty-bitty town with two stop-lights and a Tim Horton’s that closes every third day for “maintenance”. She thinks the change of scenery will help everything. Help us. I was never meant for the city. God knows I’m only going for Charlie. God knows I’m a sucker for her big brown eyes and her hopeful smile that tells me she’s willing to try. I think the city turns people cold. I think it makes everyone hard and fast and uncompromising. I don’t know if Charlie’s strong enough for it yet. I’d hate to see her loser her joy–over something like finding parking on a one way street, or seeing a hundred homeless teens everyday on her way to work.

“nor are we talking about thousands” by Julia at R Squared

Monday, March 11, 2013 at R Squared
5 minutes
The War Within (The New Yorker)
Jon Lee Anderson

-Which way is it? To Snakes and Lattes? Am I on the right side of the street anyway?
-Um, yup. You are. Just keep going. You’ll see it. I’m glad you’re going there.
-Me too. Kay, thanks.
-Oh, excuse me, do you want to come?
-No thanks, I don’t really like it there.
-You don’t?
-No! But you will. Bye!

-Hello light and sound and pedestrians. Your sign says “Traveller, Harmless.” Are you both or just one and I’m supposed to guess your two truths or two lies?
-Um, bro. I’m just trying stuff out. Got any?
-Change? No. I don’t believe in coins. Want a fiver?
-Um, yeah. Okay, thanks.
-No. I’m not going to give it to you…Just wondering if you’re okay with the idea of it.
-Fuck off.
-That’s a bit harmful..The language. My mother used to swear like you. I don’t think she felt justified the way you probably do. Nose ring, big scruffy dog. She was crazy, though.
-Umm…No..Whatever. It’s fine.
-You’re hungry? I’ll buy you lunch. Want me to?
-You’re going to take it back..
-Only if you say no.
-Okay. Yes. Whatever.
-Can I take you out for sushi? Do you eat that? I want to dine in.

“You just banged my head on the floor!” by Sasha at The Common

Friday, January 11, 2013 at The Common
5 minutes
The Pillowman
Martin McDonagh

It wasn’t a mistake that Gertrude ended up at the drop-in centre and that I was on that night, working the desk. Every person that came in had to sign in and out and it was my job to make sure that they did that. I also cleaned the reception area and sometimes made tea or coffee. Monika, the social worker, asked me if I’d like the job once I was clean and found a place in the subsidized housing complex nearby. We’d all seen Gertrude before. She looked over a hundred but claimed to be “seventy three and a half!” She was about the size of one of my legs and she pushed a baby carriage with a small dog in it. Apparently he was injured. Gertrude came in completely irrational and freaking out. “You just banged my head on the floor!” she kept shouting. Veins were popping out and she was wringing her hands a bunch. The little dog was barking and everyone was getting agitated at the centre, wondering what was going on. Monika looked tired. She took Gertrude into her office and we all got quiet to hear what was going on in there.