one-hundred-fifty-four.

how hard it must be for you
to dress yourself in your best,
each day,
thinking your charm, broad shoulders
and your expensive taste
will make the world bend their knees,
let go of personal beliefs
and fall into you and over you,
fall for whatever
you want us to believe is truth.

how hard it must be for you
to laugh and flirt out of error,
to give up your seat,
and be the “gentleman,”
simply to bypass glass ceilings,
that were never even installed
for people like you.

you’re not used to people like me,
questioning your activities,
encouraging humility,
so you spend more time wishing me
a good morning, a lovely weekend,
thinking it’s working,
thinking you’re as smart as your suit.

a crooked smile,
a few shiny teeth,
but you still haven’t figured out
that while i’m sipping on tea,
saying, “have a good night,”
i’m furiously analyzing
how you secured a job
at a higher level than me.

you invest in your business relationships
the same way you buy your belts,
leather stitched together
by an underpaid worker
in a third world country,
all to make you feel important.

and you’ve never had to use your brain
to succeed.

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one-hundred-fifty-one.

untouched and stale,
crusty and undesirable.
hard pink icing
bulking,
on chalky chocolate-chips.

cream cheese filling, once gooey,
a bold, cold contrast,
now smushed like the
moody clementine peel
renting the space
at the bottom of your bag.

this is what you sound and feel like,
when you don’t invest in
connection, representation.
an unwanted, deserted cake.
a slab of dry, choking dough.
a wall of rotting egg yolks.

you had the potential to empower,
until you let it slip:
you prefer titles and looks,
like sprinkles and candles,
over impact.

you prefer the sound of your voice,
like a singing, cringing hallmark card,
over growth and working smart.

still, even though you’re deep,
in the shallow cardboard box,
opened by colleagues just curious
enough to see what you are,
you’re a mockery of a treat,
and yet the system says
you’ll forever make more than me.

gender pay gap.

one-hundred-forty-nine.

the only thing missing in this neighbourhood
is a thrift store;
a collection of goods and clothes and stories
from lives before today’s.
the smell of vintage perfume
and baby powder fabric softener –
like the scents in an old blanket
soaked in the thread from the love
of its previous cuddler.
cleaned for years with white vinegar,
lavender extract.
now on a rack for sale
to start another chapter,
to kick off round two.

bloor west village.

one-hundred-forty-eight.

crunchy steps up a hill,
a partly snowy sidewalk.
no headphones today,
enjoying the sounds of the stray bird,
the feeling of flurries beneath my feet.
in between the shade and light,
like window blinds.

a change of scenery. a january afternoon.

one-hundred-forty-seven.

icicles on semi-detached roofs,
christening triangle attics,
both at risk of collapsing,
for how frail they are.
but hang in there,
stay still,
at least until the season ends,
and the wind slows,
and the rain feels warm,
and the weeds grow between cracked bricks.
’til it’s next winter and new icicles drip
on the same roofs, frailer still,
but pointing upwards,
just the same.

dufferin grove.