2009 Winner

The City

A cat sits snug in his cradle,
With warm paws perched upon the window sill
He sobs up to the Moon,
Telling her stories she’s blind to see,
The lilt and pornographic dreams:
Of skytrain tracks and magazines –
The vague,
Disturbed,
And things unseen –
But only because it’s the city.
(get out, get out)
Where dead men eat you alive.

She sits alone by the pavement: the corner of a crossroads,
Her body plump with the wound of a body-leech
And her ankles swollen and raw
from walking in shoes that are not her own.
She’s hammering her nails into the concrete,
Tearing at the weeds
Oozing through the cracks in the sidewalk.
But she knows it can be done,
Though she never ripped from her roots;
She’s blood from the heart of the city.
(Get out, get out)
She’s blood from the heart of the city
It’s the blood from which we derive.

By day, he rests under the streetlight at Maine Street (as it was called, before it got renamed).
He smiles at the passerbys all day long,
Nicotine teeth yellow and dripping of compost.
And at night, he packs, he leaves for the bones of a
Briefcase,
In a labyrinth of garbage,
Buried under the bones of useless things –
But you would not find him
were you not looking for destruction.
He leaves only for the Internet café,
Where he posts on his mother’s Facebook wall,
Leaving smiley faces and hearts…
Then he tells her of the city.
(get out, get out)
Then he tells her of the city:
The world in which we thrive.

Predictable and small, she goes there every night
To lean against the dollar store sign
Priced two cents less than her dignity.
Her skin is pasty and white, covering up what ifs
And the chicken pox scars she had as a child –
Back when she had dreams.
Now she sells those dreams to a man,
Coaxing him with long slim fingers.
And she offers him love for a dime,
But it is not made –
Though not to his relief.
Still he asks her of the city.
(get out, get out)
Still he asks her of the city,
And what we do to survive.