Main and Danforth
By Kees Schuller
As I squint against the glare,
Of sun off the shining river of cars,
The flow of people moving slows
To nothing more
As the light changes. A brief respite between
Go and Go and Go, signs for speed, action.
By contrast to the rushing roar of life,
This afternoon the church is deserted, lifeless.
Empty of movement, life, its dark and closed.
Gods words fall only on empty pews.
Instead the blind, those who wish to see the truth,
They hurry by, across the street in a rush.
Eyes stare down at them from walls, the roof as
They open the door, trade paper and polymer
For new eyes, for clarity
A horn honks as a car is slow to leap ahead.
It breaks the moment, everyone looks,
At the car too slow to start
After the passing of a bus.
The delay, the jolt at the honk,
Lets several more buses, streetcars, slip by, towards, or away
From the station that is their purpose, destination,
Or from that center of action, the hub,
Out to find more food for the beast, hand to mouth.
As people run to catch the bus, or slowly march
Across the street. Linger on the street corner,
Unsure of where to go, as they sniff,
Unappetizing smell of shawarma wafting from next
To the drug mart, that nobody enters.
But though they linger, nobody looks.
Nobody stops, peruses.
Everybody rushes for the bus, the subway, the streetcar,
Or for vision, for food, or just rushing past this place.
To the bank maybe, or the condo, or the anywhere else.
They ignore the plaza with its pigeons and straight lined trees,
That are now curly confused and different.
Nobody stops at the house of God,
And even those who bought new sight don’t stop to marvel
At how they can see the lines, the day, world, anew.
Why should they?
It has become
And lacking wonder.
Bill boards, buses, busy people.
Condos, drug store, and ennui.
This bustling intersection,
So colourful near the sky, but on the ground, gray
Is by far the least important
Part of their day.
Nobody stops here unless the sign is red,
Or they see their bus slowing at the superfluous stop
Nobody reads the billboards, so why are they there?
To add colour to a sky,
That has its own palette?
The house of the dead tells of dignity;
Does this place even have any?
At the end, it must. A hub of people,
Of transit, steel beasts,
One whole corner devoted to housing,
Under the loud signs, the bright people,
The gleaming buses and rushing sun
Its a place that is so important.
Home, hub, place of God, of new vision,
With people everywhere.
It has dignity, has meaning, after all.
But when they look at this place,
Do they see it?
Main and Gerrard
How little meaning a place can have,
When you pass through it twice daily.
Like this place with no particular meaning.
Behind me is the ice rink;
Behind both geographically, and in time.
White sign, white roof, beige walls.
White is faded, dim, and dirty.
Beige splotched with otherness.
Trees flank the entrance, but not too close.
And the flagpole without a flag
Makes some kind of statement
But of what, I do not know.
Melting slush can be seen around the corner
Near where children play in the field.
Do they live in the field of brick mirrors,
At the edge of that field of grass?
Row upon row of sameness. But homes, nonetheless.
They draw my eye, away,
From the grimy delicatessen,
Which has no appearance of being delicate,
Or of ever eating something.
Signs that say stop change my path to signs that say go,
And I cross, past the median, dividing line attended
By those impatient transit takers,
As my feet carry me towards the “Now Open” sign.
How long until that sign reads “Now Closed”?
Fish and chips became a doctor for
Fish and chipper animals.
The grinding of a streetcar pulls my head around with
A whistle, a screech of metal shrieking, as it turns.
Breaks, takes, my thoughts in a flash.
The impatients have their patience rewarded.
The noise gone, the thoughts resume, and notice
The flow of cars outweighs the flow of pedestrians
A thousand to one.
Not a place to stand, to walk?
But no, there, a boy walks into the ice rink.
Somebody walks here after all.
The smell of gasoline dances past my wrinkled nostrils as
I walk from dark, to light, to dark and cold.
Wind whips past the glass shelter as I hurry
On past the dispensary.
Then I’m past this place for the second time today.
And its funny.
It still has no particular meaning.