Antrim Street The grass is cracked, forcing the tree, the house, to reconsider the road― the branches cracking sky, sky employing clouds to run― fractured city, just shards of us make it to work in the morning. *** Off this morning to write poems downtown (for you). I stop at Sandy’s for two packs and one of the block’s least favorite shards is high as a cloud no one recognizes themselves in. He wants an XL slushie, and is having a hard time, and is having a hard time here in the store as well, and the owner is doing her best to help him; he’s fucked up and mouthy but trying to joke, I think, his self-satisfied chuckling as he walks by sounds like a bag of loose glass, like a window full of branches clacking, he’s trying to fit his pieces in with ours, his humor not landing because he’s also being an asshole, maskless, throwing his shrapnel on the counter, $2 in at least 30 or more coins, not letting the owner count the pieces before demanding the XL cup, he can see it, the cold of it, needs this cloud of indoor sky― A middle of the road man enters, quickly sizes up what’s happening here and immediately regrets suddenly being a piece of this, but The Globe and Mail is right by the door and he’s already taken it up, and it’s too late to put it back down, and our central character has already seen him, asks the man to pay for his XL slushie as if it’s a joke but he means it and the man obliges to keep the peace and the shard now brandishing his XL slushie ‘jokes’: “I guess I’ll let you get away with that today” as he walks toward the back of the store pouring himself out with that gravelly chuckle, the shards inside him clouding his self-awareness, all those sharps― The newspaperman leaves after paying with a bunch of national news under his arm and I secure my Pall Malls with the owner’s nephew, blanched from witnessing such jagged customers, still young, still still inside, as his mother deals with the loud man I step outside, rip my mask off and breathe in the broken air of the corner of Hunter and Aylmer. I’m unlocking my bicycle when the XL slushie and its holder emerge from the store, as another man is asking me for change, and our man tells his colleague: “I’VE got some change for ya!” as he hands his few loose pieces to the other man, who thanks him, and they split, shattering down the street. I’m blown away and similarly un-shocked by the XL slushie fella suddenly having coin, and suddenly being free and gentle with it; it cracks me up. I spend the rest of the day writing this poem, trying to find it, being ruthless in it, cancel me for calling an asshole an asshole because he’s rendered by crumbling systems opaque, for looking in the mirror and being too soft on my own face, the pieces, the whole fragile aggregate of this city’s one good glass eye, the downtown, the 10 cent refund of it all, maybe, the poem now coming to a close, it’s time for me to get smashed, but avoid the store after, for fear of recognizing me too much in others in the poem, maybe spend the whole afternoon with an ok friend in the park with a good paper bag, or maybe break the bottles at the bar all night trying to pick myself up― -JM
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