WELCOME TO MY NEIGHBOURHOOD
Are you guys Jews?
Why, don’t you like Jews?
I like them better dead.
We were reminiscing after shopping plaza closed
in old hood just recently My brother’s memory of
when he +friend whose parents had just escaped the
Warsaw Ghetto were walking to the plaza in search of
candy +burgers juicy at the Red Ruby They were 10
You couldn’t eat just 1
Server: You ate your burger so fast!
Brother: No! You never brought it.
Server mystified Brother’s favourite expression: I’ll gladly
pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today! Plaza taught us
to want +later to order liquor on pads with small pencils fixed
to a string The emphasis was on the C as in: controlled substance
LCBO men Rod Serling lookalikes in white shirtsleeves gave us
stern sidelong glances
But early years filled with characters before substances and OD’s
Like Marky Boy with shopping cart wore antennae +parents would
later pay for whatever he shoplifted And Jerry in his orange Javelin driving
around endlessly He sucker punched me in stomach on a day with no breeze
Now in Forensic unit for stabbing his mother fatally *(see poem: Jerry Can
You Hear Me AAC June 2012)
Ugly Jewish ghetto low buildings suburban grey Some nouveau riche with
swimming pools Hey a girl can dream One father a Jaguar XKE low slung
like buildings Metallic blue His daughter went through a windshield just out
of high school
Gas station at one end of plaza run by a churlish man He never did believe
someone syphoned gas from me Brother a.k.a. Wimpy shared the Dodge with
me Needle regularly on empty pre the long drive to U of T Where they taught
me about Boris Pasternak +later at The Faculty how to reclaim souls from the
trash heap: Therapist you can hit me with the biggest stick + I won’t feel it
It was raining one day in 1963 sidewalks slick doughnuts in the plaza lot Terrance
the dumbest boy in school pastey white but oh so sweet sat beside the teacher +
sometimes under her desk? Fell from brother’s car crushed instantly Not the last
death either Teller shot in head at bank (Beatle Bandit incident) where mother
sent me regularly
Teller: We can’t hand over cash to a child M’am. What does she look like?
Mother: She is beautiful!
Smile spread across teller’s yet blood splattered face while I cringed in blue trench
coat + as boy of my dreams called them piss yellow boots He grew up to be an
Elvis impersonator + would be charlatan (see poem: You’re So Fine You Blow My
Mind /Song&Dancegirl AAC 2013)
Does this sound like your neighbourhood? Did you wake up to see curtains of visible
ultra-violet light +super sized aurorae +listen nightly to the cacophony of crickets
+new survivors screams Too many friend’s parents transported after bedtime on
trains to the outskirts of Polish towns To round-ups +camps with names like