SPOTLIGHT: Winnipeg Vacation by Richard LeDue

Another Day in Winnipeg

Sirens passed us by all day,
then an accident in a nearby intersection
as I was waiting in the truck.
So many stopped to look,
as if some secret to life was there
among broken cars,
bloodied, battered bodies (I assume this
by the speed of the ambulance).

Afterwards, when people were content enough
to line up at the bank again,
I watched a woman check on a man,
sleeping on the sidewalk-
she brought him a coffee,
a box of fast-food fries,
and it seemed like no one else noticed that man,
before or after.

Why So Few Pay With Exact Change

Saw a couple holding hands
as they walked into a beer store,
and they didn’t care that it was 30 degrees,
the middle of a drought-
their sweaty palms
probably taking a break
from the air-conditioned offices
most consider a good place
to spend a career or lifetime
(whatever comes first),
as if years worth nickels and dimes
saved up for a trip somewhere tropical,
and best protected in piggy banks
that always break too easily.

Taking the Scenic Route

Never noticed all the barbwire before,
usually keeping car lots secure,
but by the fifth fence,
I start to feel guilty
for looking at a used Dodge,
then there’s the “Beware of Dog” signs,
and it all starts to feel like a lazy poet’s
repetition, helping the silence
to become a mixed metaphor
about how safe we are.

Ordered the French Toast

Pretended I was Humphrey Bogart,
pretended he was too cool to be dead
inside of my head,
while pouring the syrup,
and that I had something interesting to say
instead of more talk about Covid
with friends we hadn’t seen
since before the pandemic,
only to wait too long,
allowing it all to get soggy,
but made sure to tip the waitress,
who would have thought me odd
if I offered her my autograph.

Driving Out of It

Arrived home to the cigarette smoke smell
from a past tenant of our rented house
(spent months researching third hand smoke
when we first moved in,
only to place some dishes of vinegar around
to exorcise the stink),
reminding me of a ghost
completely ignored because ulcers burn more,
and the silence of waiting for a diagnosis
louder than a spirit no one can see,
but it lingers anyway
because it can’t accept its own death arrived
without closure from an estranged son
or that fire doesn’t play favourites
among the living or the dead.


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