The shortest day of the year

In my wallet is a gift card for a local coffee shop so I make my way there, I deserve a coffee. Walking up to the place, I notice it isn’t too busy. The shop radiates with a happy kind of busyness as the baristas freely give that extra touch of customer service to their senior patrons. Everybody meets me with a cheerful smile.

I order my Mocha and go.

Rain today and without a hat or an umbrella, my glasses catch water droplets – each one sticking to the lens, too minuscule to be affected by gravity. I get back into the car.

The coffee shop shares the square with a big name grocery store. I know by memory that there is a homeless man who usually sits by the doors there, collecting whatever generosity he can.

I remember that I have a couple of bananas I brought to work to last me until lunch. One, a ripe banana I put in my bag this morning, the other – also ripe – with a small tear in the skin from getting tossed around in my back pack last week. The smell of banana peel lingers slightly in the plastic, disposable bag.

A quick glance tells me the homeless man is there today.

I pull into the grocery store parking lot and find the first space I see in the middle of the lot. I take the bag of bananas and start trekking towards the man.

I usually give to homeless people what I can. I don’t break the bank but everybody is in need in some shape or form and when I am in the position to help I do. I know that $10 doesn’t buy them a steady life but if I have some food it’s better off in their empty stomach than becoming clutter in the fridge.

Other times it’s too painful to even chat, but today I can afford to.

His name is Mark. His nails are long and jagged and yellow. His beard is voluminous but not thick, each facial hair curls into a puffy spiral. His eyes are large and blue with a sadness that somehow makes him look younger than he must be. He wears a thick jacket, which is warm, tattered and grey, and has a gaze that momentarily meets yours, then drifts back to the low horizon. He sits leaning back on the brick wall of the grocery store, probably more out of convenience than comfort. Although he is tall, he walks with a slouch. His fingers are thick and calloused, his handshake soft and tender. He grips limply with the melancholy of a man who, like his community, has given up on himself.

I wonder how many years on the street it took to look like him. I wonder what he knows about our culture that I don’t. I wonder how painful it is to be here, one of the few, sparse homeless people in a suburban town. I wonder how often he thinks about ending his life and how often he is lonely. I wonder if he has a family and if they care about him or know if he’s still alive.

I give him the bag and say it isn’t much, but think inside that two bananas are better than fast food, and better than nothing.

I walk back and as I get into the car, I wonder if he sees the silver in my ring glimmer beneath my thick leather glove as I wave to him staring into nothing, and drive home.

Today I want to talk politics

I’m reading a book called Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant. If you don’t know who Joe Bageant is, please click that link as I am far too tired to bother explaining how he is an Amercian expat who hits the nail on the head when it comes to American politics. The book is about how America is operating based on a class system – and though many “liberals” will deny it – it is a simple fact. What I really like about this book so far is that he makes a strong case for the American undeclass, specifically misunderstood poor, white America.

Many Americans are living a sorry life where they subsist off of a sick dream of equal opportunity while trying to hold their payments together with more credit cards than fingers on a hand.

A lot of what Deer Hunting with Jesus is for me is a good kick in the ass and slap in the face to make me realize how useless and despicable classism is. I’ve been guilty of it myself. Growing up in upper middle class Canada, it’s easy to criticize an uneducated poor, white person from America. In fact, I would say it’s easier to do it because I’m Canadian. Think about it, we’ve got free health care, a marijuana party, and heroes like Neil Young.

Undoing the social conditioning isn’t easy, but it’s pretty damn simple. Realize that there are a lot of misplaced beliefs that set up house in your subconscious but really have no right being there. I have a great sympathy for what it means to grow in small town America. You know, where the grammar is hardly recognizable to a Briton and where the pleasures are cheap smokes and Coors. These people are under illusions like they are proudly valued (when really they are despised) by their culture and society while they are trapped in a system that has a hand up their pants and a foot on their back, feet, and hands.

bottles, senses, pages

there is nothing more in this world i love
than to write poetry;
i never tire of gently following your hands with
my fingers down your arm and stroking your
hip with an ink that demands to run, and run
shall my nose from the ground of your toe up
the shafts of your legs prancing in stances like
the long limbs of a horse, let my words flow across
your back, breasts and like wine, complete intoxicating
red passion, lose myself into your neck
uncovering your secrets as fragrances
filling bottles, senses

Candy & Condoms

It seems like I’m riding a wave today that is just as much fun going up as it is going down. Not only did I finish my term paper (worth a solid 40%), but I even wrote two poems in class. You’ll have to wait to see them tomorrow, though. Everyone likes a surprise.

I’m on campus today and they’re handing out candy and condoms for World AIDS Day. That’s so awesome.

But like I said, today’s a wave. Right when I scooped up a Hershey’s Kiss and a Lifestyle’s Red Box Surprise (coined that moi-self), I walked back into class and my prof started lecturing again. Today’s lecture was the same old spoon-fed protocol for research methods, only I actually started paying attention and realized she was saying so many innuendos!

We were finishing up stats and where there are things called “main effects” and “interactions,” which I should inform you are either qualified or unqualified. But I’ll save you the lecture:

Prof M: “So now we’re done with 2-way interaction, we are going to move onto 3-way interaction.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Prof M continued, “Now most people prefer 2-way interaction but I find it useful to teach you about 3-way interaction.”

“3-way interaction is more rare, but it has some advantages…” she said.

This has to be the most engaged I’ve ever been. Someone was cracking up behind me and I sit pretty damn close to the lecture floor.

“3-way interaction, though rare, is just one level. There’s also 4-way interaction, 5-way interaction, even 6-way interaction. I know it’s hard to believe but they can really be a lot of fun.”

And here I sit wondering what I have missed all semester long.