Grass sprouts from between incongruent paving slabs leading to the
front stoop of the white house (well, it used to be white) a tasteless attempt
at displaying a sense of taste with the materials available.
Crabgrass has jockeyed and won on what once could have been a
tender patch of front yard typicality.
The porch hasn’t been painted since the son
of the houses’ first family
went off to get blown up and sent home in no less than four pieces and lord
knows what kind of nocturnal scavengers had appropriated the space
on the edge of the veranda you could see where someone had cut two semi-
circular holes to get the lawnmower handle as far under there as it possibly
Back when people cared about this town, when it had a few factories
and a modicum of promise, when it had dreams and pinned requests on the
stars like every other growing animate thing.
Diffident in the face of destinies,
willing to stare itself in the face,
back when the tenants of the white house cut the grass and put logs in
Spring-exposed couches adorned the flanks of the sagging wood.
The studs underneath just a little too far apart than they should
The couches placed close to the edges so the whole fucking thing
wouldn’t collapse and turn the porches sagging, unobtrusive smile into a
grimace for the unapproving neighbours to see.
Generations of children stomping in and out of the house,
and unshovelled snow assuring that time would loll the parallel view
of the thing into a despondent grin of an overborne silent
member of the family.
The veranda we traipse upon.
Used, abused, and never asked to share its eavesdropped secrets
or its silent pleas..
Scattered amber bottles left brown patches on the grass that because
of them receive no sunlight.
No one cares about the bottles’ own feelings of neglect.
Their stoic plight.
Used and abused to facilitate the telling of the secrets between
midnight’s children, who talk as if any of their shit actually mattered. In the
morning, over bacon and eggs, even they wondered if it really did.
!The bucolic alcoholism that must have taken place on this porch
when the weather permitted the donning of meshbacks and pit-stained
wifebeaters to lull away an evening and toss beer bottles onto the lawn!
The lost philosophies, moments of hazy clarity and curious prurient
verbal jousts spurned forth by teenage-grade ecstasy pills surging
only to be overcome by the repression of the beer battalions sent to
repress their uppity schemes.
It’s a particular gloss to the eye with this particular combination of
drugs, then Deaner drops by with his bag of particularly good grass he’s driven
back with from B.C.
Bucolic alcoholism in the middle of downtown ************. Hah!
See, you’d expect this kind of thing in *****, out there in the sticks
with the tipsy chimps that put gas on bonfires and fix rusty cars on their
Sundays. But down here the decent folks accentuate their staggered
flagstones with plastic bumblebees with wings that spin in the wind, and
chimes that clink tunes the way only the drunks next door in the white house
could make tops or tail of.
It was always beer o’clock there in those days on the porch of the
white house. Us bums.
The good people worked their jobs to save
for storm windows and paved deriveways.
Maybe a Lay-Z-Boy.
They played passive patriot with the little maple leaf on the railing
leading up to their front door bought beside the checkout at Canadian Tire.
If you ask them why they do it I’m not sure they’ll be able to give you
an answer anymore
beyond some sort of robotic chirping, but this isn’t the States- they probably
wouldn’t spit on your shoes for asking, but maybe ask you to help them
inside with the groceries. Frozen peas on sale this week. Did you notice the
driveway? It’s so black. Just had ‘er done this spring.
The white house didn’t have a driveway
just two dusty tracks sunk into the space beside the kitchen window.
It was like God came by with his rolled-up empyrean brown bill and took
two great lines of blow,
leaving the scorched earth behind for Pete to park his pick-up. Fresh from a
shift at the pipe factory and the mandatory stop at The Beer Store.
The off-white blow consumed in this house tasted like aspirin most of
the time, and there weren’t too many brown bills going around; just rolled up
pieces of notebook paper and torn pages from Penguin Classics that
would sit on shelves and never be read. Some transient dilettante having
been to the used bookshops on Water Street
and made a half hearted attempt at Dostoyevsky, Wilde or maybe
Bram Stoker to hope for a piggyback on the film’s imagery; this is what
passes for high culture in the Kawartha contingency.
This stained white house is the rue of everyone else on the street that
carves out their niche in a town with low pay and high booze tax.
They, the men that is,
dejectedly saunter (or more likely, drive their Acadians or K-cars)
home from a day at the bank, the mall, the plant, or if they’re lucky, the pub.
On Sundays, noon is when they come home
with the same sour puss from church.
In this irish-catholic town, that’s the rub.
They do their best- these stoic bastions of accepted and tiered
normalcy, goodness, virtue and the Canadian Way; they clip Loblaw’s
coupons for canned corn as the wives idle the days washing dishes and
rearranging the China cabinet. They drink Bailey’s at Christmas time and
sneak thimbles of Schnapps for the rest.
Just down the road was the park, where shifty-eyed night stalkers
would shimmy the stone embankment with their shoulder-tapped bottles of
Bacardi and skin zig-zag blasters,
doobies and gaggers,
to do nothing but that for it’s own sake.
The town had numerous hovels and hideaways
where the young swine could congregate for a few weeks on end until
the fuzz got wind of it. There was that park, the infamous and aptly labeled
the deep trails of ******* Park,
******** Oval and the Speedway.
It was a wash, rinse, repeat cycle that kept the pigs on their toes and
what kept the inter high school communication alive. The white house being
the rendezvous if any sirens were heard approaching the mobile drug den.
Who would you meet in the reeds by the ******** River with a few
beers to swap a glass of rum or whiskey with? Who would have a joint?
A quiet pipe?
Who would have the balls to dive into the raging current behind the
power station to prove an ephemeral yet momentarily salient point?
During the day it was risky but common enough to see longhaired
shirtless boys plunging into the whitecaps and scampering up to the opposite
shore. But at night when it was a red-eyed dare, it was different, and your
heart beat a little faster as you cupped your balls and jumped.
...And if you had a car;
you could get to ***** Hill,
or sit in the parking lots of elementary schools on the edges of town
after the last of the janitors had swept, cleaned and locked up.
Wiped the toilet seats down.
This assured more privacy, and if you were with a girl, you wouldn’t
give your schedule away to just anyone, your mates no less,
it was a surreptitious endeavour-
cars with collapsible backseats were best.
For the transient droppers by and interlopers of the white house who
never took their shoes off,
the first park was the favourite due to its proximity to the white house
There was a wooden bridge that caused many a gash down the bridge
of the nose to those who mistook its wideness for generosity. The local
contractors that built the thing must have held the previous post of cleaning
up the public spaces the youngins of the town had been using for their
ceremonial depravity, and engineered the wood planks to be just far enough
apart for someone under the influence of whatever was around to get their
shoelace or sometimes their whole Converse low-cut caught between them.
Those vengeful fascists.
It still escapes me how
the average law-abiding families that lived in earshot of the white
house let our shenanigans go on for as long as they did. Our usual answer
was we just used different drugs than they did.
They were more of the gameshow/valium breed.
Whatever it took to
hide the fact they gave up the need
a long time ago,
while we were raging at the great unmeaning
while we still had the strength.
Our insistence on consumed volumes of non-sustainable substance
must have come form a deep unease
that we very may well be living in one of their houses after they kill
themselves, have a stroke or just give up and die of unknown causes; but we
know what is really is.
We didn’t know better.
And we were scared shitless.
Some people my age are still there, still raging, but with substances
far less substantial, far more dangerous and regular,
their matches don’t catch many sparks anymore.
Yet I don’t know if I can really blame, pity or pardon them. Back then
we wanted something to
make us feel like anything was possible
- an affront to the clear fact that nothing was.
And just dreaming wasn’t enough.
And the unfortunate souls who had it a little too hard, who went too
far too fast with no recycled corduroy cushion to break their fall: death in
varying degrees. Whether immediate or prolonged, death was inside them
from the start, bred in the bone, bred in the white houses studded snare, just
getting its fill, waiting to be ejected to find a new host. When death ejects
before the physical soma is ready to give up- these are the saddest dead
people of all.
They think they’re still alive. And as far as the government tax bureau
and the department of motor vehicles is concerned,
they still are.
They don’t wear Smashing Pumpkins T-Shirts anymore, but you can
still see the chains dangling between their wallets and their belt loops. We
share the pin scars in our noses, holes in our earlobes, but not much else.
They remember where they’re from and where it started, this rebellion with
no cause. This generation grew up a bit and saw their eyes reflected in Fight
Club, then they scampered for something to believe in besides Jesus or the
fact that somehow something non-denominational would catch a fire in their
craniums and get them moving.
Peavey guitars and black eyeliner were replaced sometimes with
jigsaws and tool belts. Sometimes with plane tickets and L’Oreal painted
bindis. Some managed to just get away, and then, some managed to get
Even when we were all there, you could see who was and who was
not going to make it. Or maybe I was wrong. Make it where? Here? The goal
for many was anywhere but there.
The town with no energy but for that to just survive and get by.
It’s been sucked dry
by the dreamers with the good or bad fortune to be born there.
With such a lack of essential juju, there wasn’t enough to go around.
We raped that poor town.
We found and nurtured and adopted what wasn’t even there.
Our identities can’t be traced to the geographical place, though that’s
where it all happened.
Us selfish bastards.
The town our parents built and left to us.
The houses they bought and built only to watch us flee their plight of
immobility. We didn’t want what they built, so they check the struts once in
a while, just to make sure the old girl will make it through another winter,
but they don’t really ask any questions from the Borough anymore. We left;
and return periodically to rationalize its legitimacy either as a town worth
living or as a place in our identities; or to reminisce to make the past
experience worthwhile. The ones who stay don’t give any energy back, but
they never asked too much from it to begin with. Some of them are
downright happy there.
the gaff needs them.
The white house still stands today, but it’s white again. Somewhere
along the way Pete and the rest of the nuclear crew were ejected two streets
over to carry on in pretty much the same way, raging against the anti-
skateboard laws and scoffing at the skate park the city had built for them
as a truce. The white house revamped and reshingled;
our kind no longer welcome.
Our former selves, bored and reckless.
They, the coupon clippers were the clear majority, and with the white
house eviction, they killed the scouts before the swarms arrived for real. We
saw what happened to ********* Street.
The white house veranda has been propped up now, the pointy-teethed
things and their brood forced to live in the woods. But it doesn’t take the two
front bedroom windows as eyes to complement its sneaky grin anymore.
New struts have been put in place.
Levels have been used.
Maybe someone who used to pass out beside the toilet got a new job
The deck is straight.
And now the house looks bored.
Ivan Donn Carswell
Dana A. Campbell
James H Duncan
Milton P. Ehrlich
Dr. Kane X. Faucher
John C. Goodman
Oritsegbemi Emmanuel Jakpa
Ruth Â Ellen Kocher
Dimitris P. Kraniotis
Louis K. Lowy
Elaine Rosenberg Miller
Nicoletta A. Poulakida
Bobby Slais (R Jay)
Paul A. Toth
C. Derick Varn
Anne Harding Woodworth