Even between the barren oaks you can smell it.
Even among the old oaks, the lifeless oaks covered in dust, in sawdust, exhaust –
even when you’re walking between barren oaks, you can smell it.

And on the busy streets –
the Monday morning streets, packed with cars all filled with drivers
clad in black and business cazh* –
filled with drivers driving Audis, or their Civics, or Ferraris,
city bitches, exhausting rich bitches dreading the week
and lacquered nails, listening to Damien Rice, TGIF is only 5 days away,
Bellinis with the colleagues after work, everyone sucks –
Even at the crowded streetlights packed with Civics filled with drivers
who don’t watch out for bikes –
you can smell it.

Even on the cobblestone streets –
the brick-laid streets that clatter your teeth and unhinge your feet
as your wheels rattle overtop –
On the cobblestone streets with the Subway on the side,
the Second Cup, the Starbucks and garbage cans –
the Subway Fresh Eats Foot Longs Five Dollaz
buy now buy buy BUY free gift with purchase
you can smell it.

And on the stairs up to your office –
the enormous flights, fluorescent lights, skin-tight jeans a poly-cotton blend,
the three enormous flights of stairs light-years removed from the elements,
the flights encased in minimum eight layers of cement
and stacks and shelves of books and Post-It notes and push pins and rubber cement,
entwined between all the Macbook Pros, the Macbook Airs, the iPads, wrapping around the Androids, the 32 GB Samsung Galaxies S7s (this poem will be irrelevant in 1 year), the self-serve book checkout stations in the library humming with neglect,
Even the stairwells are no relief from its intoxicating scent.
Even in the stairwells you can smell it.

*cazh – short for casual, as in business casual.

**photo from flickr.com thx to whoever took it ❤


Night Fire

Do you keep the city lights to protect yourself
from the stars? The fluorescent glitter and the neon
that blankets you, the street lamps buzz, headlights
flood crowded arteries. You could kneel in the alley
and trace all the sources of light and what
they’re for, you could draw diagrams and
take pictures, create labels. You could sit
in an office, plan ahead, other’s futures,
carve up concrete with the tap of a key,
demolish a block in a single conference call.

When I look at the stars, I crane
my neck back, listen to the rattle of my breath
through tendons and bones, cast my hands
towards the earth, lean into the unknown.
Backward, backward, my body dips as I fold into
the depths of the sky, shrinking
beneath milky galaxies, disappearing beneath
all the boundless, consuming constellations.

Mechanical Edmonton

Here twilight blue skies ripple into
Chemical clouds a deep smoggy red
And underneath the pavement of the highways the
Spinning soils tumble into
The North Saskatchewan’s ice floes,
Chisel away its banks,
Inching it closer to all the fluorescent-lit
High-rises on the northern shore.

Mechanical motorized Edmonton rumbles
By, the No. 4 interior dimly lit
Against the falling of night that
Whines a B natural, one half step above
Nature’s normal hum of green and loam.
The lone passenger opens his vintage Fahrenheit 451
Book, the temperature burns
On the bus, he unzips himself against the
Heat, pulls the cord, then closes it, and puts it
Back into his satchel, his requested stop nearing.

He steps off, patent leather
Shoes crunch into the graying spring ice,
And feels the whirring electric wind of
Streetlights and sidewalks and speeding cars
Down roadways and rivers of melt that
Run down the ridges of time
And space, and the sky up above
A cacophony of peeking stars
And clouds and smog,

And hides, just a silhouette on his Android,
Clutching his satchel with his book all bundled up and
His parka zipped to his neck and his mittens on
Against the slow coming of spring
Inside the plexiglas bus stop with blue trim. Over
His head the twilight blue sky sits for a moment
And then slips away unnoticed into a deep
Deep black moonless night.

On the opposite horizon, moments before,
The sun sank down a delicate pink and orange,
Burning up the last pieces of daylight that smelled
Of motor exhaust and too many LED screens.
I stepped into a yellow streetlamp buzzing away
Patches of blue-gray night,
The first sweet whispers of spring rippled through my senses,
Replacing the throbbing in my head
With green and dampness, and my black boots
Splashed away brown and sooty snow

And beneath the bare and towering
Oak trees and an ever-darkening sky
I zipped down my jacket,
Removed my hood, let the
Resonance of the night breeze
Catch my crumpled hair.