Ontario, Me and Tommy T

Lapping slowly up the shore
The city rises like the tide
Higher and rolling back again
Until I am waist deep in it

High tide at the eye line
There is a distinct murk to it
An urge to keep the eyes firm shut
Swimming blindly through crosswalks

It is an indecisive grey
The surface of Lake Nowhere
Roiling under overcast skies
In a smudged pencil sketch

It has a smell so impersonal
A long forgotten war memorial
More than a passing stranger
The metal of someone else’s blood

Waterline overtakes hairline
Headlines overtake every surface
Off-black thunderhead off-white sky
Screaming today’s wildest crime

Words fall flat from dry mouths
Vibrant Alive Beautiful Colourful
What Tommy found elsewhere
But even he always came back

Rapidly mechanizing farmland
Herding and harvesting enterprise
Rising at always retiring at never
Frantically clawing out fulfillment

Breaking from the water gasping
Hair dripping culture and opportunity
I set out toward combine harvesters
Frowning at cottages and bus stops

Hybrid electric sport utility blurs
Fall to flatbed diesel clouds
With trees hauled in for the war effort
Tommy’s Jack Pine stripped of limbs

Fading red neon-strip salesmen
Whoring the latest birchbark antiques
And cheap homemade cigarettes
To weekend pilgrims of somewhere else

Desolate waiting room of the transient
That marks a tired homecoming
Wading knee deep in the falling tide
The half-built half-collapsed between

The town is not enough sometimes
Often more much too much
There is a pull toward the very edges
Far from any recognizable purpose

The tide recedes more slowly
Collapsing into Boreal nothing
Sputtering temperate muskeg
And coughing occasional moose

Seeking some Walden ice farm
More Canoe Lake Terre Sauvage
Baie Dorval at summer daybreak
Small fire on Big Manitou

Dodge Big Paresseux in the evening
To skirt the Port d’Enfer before dark
Drafting birchbark rockets des bois
Running Sam’s no-lane highway

The Shield is the only bricks
Glass is calm narrow Nosbonsing
The shuffling crowd is coniferous
The smog blackflies of Temagami dusk

The quiet reaches a full absolute
Cut by mating loons and crackle
A wilderness daiquiri solemnly sipped
Filtered lake-water juice crystals rye

Like held breath serenity fleets eternal
Tides do not care to trouble it
Nor do black and white do it justice
As for Tommy he chose colour

 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A Jackson Beam is from North Bay, Ontario. He attends the University of Western Ontario, majoring in English literature and Kinesiology.

 

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