Poem Portal #14: Coffee

vatThis poem is from my time of disillusionment with employment in fast food restaurants.  Believe it or not, I was actually thrilled to be working at Arby’s when I was seventeen.  It was my first job, and I’d been desperate enough to get one that very little fazed me.  I cleaned vats (hot, greasy, disgusting labour which put me off eating deep-fried foods permanently), handled raw roasts (already a vegetarian since age six, so no life change there), cleaned bathtub-sized sinks’ worth of cooking dishes, cleaned up after customers who didn’t take the “thank you” signs on garbage bins as hinting towards anything in particular, and slapped beefy sandwiches together as fast as I could – all for $6/hr (“training wage”).  I was up to $8/hr a few months in, and still liked my job well enough.  When I found out I was a writer, I decided that working at Arby’s was all a big inspiration-for-my-work deal that the universe cooked up especially for me (after all, I did meet interesting people).  I loved feeling like an undercover observer…on good writing days, at least.  It wasn’t until I switched to Tim HortonsTim Horton’s for the chance to escape vats and make $9/hr that I began to feel that my down-to-Earth life was too mundane.  Coffee became the new enemy.  I was soon so sick of brewing, pouring, stirring and fussing over picky customers that I made all the hot drinks on my fantasy planet (Drescopata) exist only as weeds.  Apparently, even pesky coffee weeds interfering with an entire planet of crops wasn’t satisfying enough.  In hindsight, I feel that hot oil vats are far more deserving of a resentful poem, but I guess my writing just wasn’t in a resentful place until I was a coffee worker.


There is a blue sweetener, then there’s a yellow,

Switch them, mistake them, I doom coffee drinkers.coffee cup

There’s stir with a straw,

Then there’s with a spoon,

There’s cup and there’s mug,

There’s milk and there’s cream.

It’s gravely important

Or so I must believe,

Else where is the meaning;

Achievement I crave?

If coffee should fail then so should existence.

I’ll think it that way or not care at all.

Poem Portal #13: Change

Happy New Year!bedtime

My New Year’s Resolutions:no latte

1. Get to bed with at least 10 minutes left for reading time each night (books are good incentives to go to bed on time at all!) & punish self with lack of significant caffeine the following morning if bedtime ignored the night before.

P.S. Starbucks maximum of once per week.

ruby2. Finish writing Ruby (11 chapters left) and have first 3 chapters written for a new middle grade novel by the dawn of 2015 (resolution #2 is not to be confused with permission to disregard resolution #1 entirely).

It goes without saying that I also intend to continue this poem portal blog, regardless of the readers it does or does not accumulate.  When I was a kid, I wrote because I had to, and only as an adult have I truly cared that people outside my family read what I write.  This blog is where I can still be a kid: put my poems up just so they’re there.  Anything can happen when I look back…I’ve found good enough ideas in some of my elementary school stories to inspire whole new writing projects (“Boot for a Date” for instance, which is a storybook I’ve recently completed, based on a poorly plotted and badly punctuated masterpiece from childhood).

ElementaryI wrote a song, in 2001, about that very same elementary school where so much of my creativity first expressed itself.  Highglen Elementary — the only Montessori school in Prince George — was heavily damaged in a fire on April 22 2013.  My first thought when I heard was how relieved I was that it didn’t happen while I or my sisters were attending; my second thought how sorry I was for the unknown children who can no longer attend today.  The school has reopened at a less convenient location for those families who purposely settled close to the original – just as my parents did.

Growing up, I was privileged to live in walking distance of both my elementary and high schools.  When I was 13, I often wandered through Highglen’s playground on my walk home from D.P.Todd Secondary.  I wrote this because I was a strangely nostalgic teenager who looked back more often than forward:

Walking on home; home from my high school, by the place where I used to roam,

The grounds of my beloved old school; I went right on in to see what I could see.Highglen

The trees seemed short and oddly small,

Yet I knew I’d been here recently.

When my friends and I played here the trees were tall,

Their leaves made our beds,

Their roots divided rooms in our homes,

Their branches made roofs over our heads.

Now these same trees they roar, rustle and moan,

And they seem to be telling me: “You don’t belong here; you’re a giant in our playground!

You cannot be here!  You’re a ghost in our world!  Give up the dream; it’s time you moved on.

This place is mine, and it never will be yours again.