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     Ti-Jean


      Le Casino de Hull and its bandit calliope carnival lights

      drain into the usual rusted out dream, dying stars

emballed in Labatt batten clouds, au-dessus la route du Carrefour,

par le chemin Barrage past the stone surging up from the ditches

like anger.  His last cigarette pack, John Player's, as empty as pockets,

spins out of the window.  His F-cent cinquante '98 in bad shape

     gets him home, then rattles its last.


     Grey morning, pis mal au cheveux,

he trudges Barrage, thumb out in late season, rough breath.  

Fallen wild grains only thicken the mud.  An empty pack history

decays, blue flowers decomposing in ditches.  And a fear lurks

behind a craving.  Oat cells multiply in the dark clouds of his lungs.  

     Beneath the brooding rock face, mosshair and fernlocks,

     "J'accuse, Ti-Jean, j'accuse."

 

     "Je sais.  Pis?  J'fume, hostie.

Bien, je n'ai rien de plus.  Fuck you."  Muttering like gravel

under work boots.  The smokes made him dizzy at 13.  Collar rising

to a sneer curled in a mirror, he still swaggered au chiotte

to puke pommes frites, sauce avec, into a porcelain chalice.

And now, 52, and woozy without them, his head floats

     in some vacant blue aether

     he can't breathe.


Originally published in Bywords.ca March 2011 Fort Saskatchewan - 1948 Ottawa - 2008