An Open Letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory;

(Please insert whatever Honorific by which you wish to be addressed here.)

 

I am writing because I am shocked to learn of a new mandate for Streets to Homes workers to NOT intervene in cases of the recently homeless. Is it honestly the City’s position to strip someone of their dignity, self-respect and to deliberately put them at risk of violence, sexual assault and human trafficking before offering assistance? Because that is what this policy change does. It has come to me through the grapevine, through sources I will not name, that Streets to Homes Workers will not intervene until someone is Homeless for 3 months. Mr. Mayor this is 3 months too long.

 

This I find extremely shocking after receiving the assurances of one of your aides, ”The Mayor is working to increase shelter beds, build affordable rental housing and improve TCHC. His interest in ending homelessness is not political rehtoric and he is determined to make an impact on the issue,” Matt, Special Assistant, Office of the Mayor. His words exactly, I have not even corrected his spelling error in our correspondence.

 

Mr. Mayor, put yourself in the shoes of the recently homeless, you are new to the streets, never been there before, you got no money, no nothing. You are scared, frightened, absolutely terrified and don’t give me any macho bullshit. You can’t turn to the police for protection; they look at you like a suspect and a criminal. It doesn’t matter that you have committed no crime. Where do you honestly turn? Do you go to Maxwell Meigen where you might wake up to someone caving in your skull with a fire extinguisher? Where can you be safe? City Hall has security, but you can’t camp out there because you will get fined and chased away. What are you going to do? Someone with sinister motives reaches out to you and offers to help you, to protect you…and that is where the nightmare really begins.

 

You see, Mr. Mayor, the sooner we can intervene, the sooner we get people housed, the less repairing of those people is needed. The longer you wait to intervene means there will be a greater degree of Post-Traumatic Stress. Quicker intervention means reduced strain on an already strained medical system. Also the quicker the intervention the quicker the person returns to being a contributing member of society.

 

I’m not suggesting preference be given to the recently homeless, nor should there be preference for those who have been chronically homeless. Preference should probably start with those most wanting to remedy their situation, but at the end of the day every single homeless person needs to be housed.

 

Holding You to Your Word

 

Timothy James Therien

Set List

I am one of ten writers that have been asked to perform at a closed spoken word event in Toronto on the 19th of March. I have been agonizing since accepting the invitation over what I will recite. I contacted one of the organizers of the event and asked if there was a theme or subject for the night, hoping to make my selection process easier. I received a response telling me there was no theme, that it was about my (literary) voice and my story. So needless to say, I was still perplexed. After much deliberation I settled on four poems I believe best exemplify my voice and my story. I believe these pieces (while not necessarily the best I’ve written) represent best me as a Poet. I also think the poems I have selected are the perfect intersection between life and craft. For my reading I have selected 4 poems, a Rondeau, a Shakespearean Sonnet, a Chant Royal and a Huitain. Following are the pieces I have selected.

 

Entitlement-Rondeau

 

Some men were born, born to be great,

Privilege served on a silver plate,

Roses that have been clipped of thorn,

A welcome never over-worn,

Heredity commiserate

 

Some men were bred for better fate

Where butlers buttle and maids wait,

Oh, plentiful and golden horn,

Some men were born

 

Inability to relate

To man born above subway grate

Shivering on cold winter morn

With rotten teeth pulled and head shorn,

Feeling second class, second rate

Some men were born

 

T J Therien

 

 

Self Portrait-Shakespearean Sonnet

 

Plucked from the pages of Dostoyevsky

I really am quite the caricature,

Cartoon buffoonery played out tragically,

Edvard Munch could not paint a more accurate picture,

A sketch of tormented soul, draped in melancholic shroud,

The nightmare that evolved from the dream,

Random thoughts the Madman wonders aloud,

In order to silence them I scream,

At sunset I fight the dying lights

Beneath star bright, under dark form of magic,

Everything pales in the shadow of white nights,

While the moon waxes and wanes nostalgic,

The hours unwind and death draws nearer

This is the idiot I see when I look in the mirror

 

T J Therien

 

 

Demons-Chant Royal

 

A thousand years of ritual abuse,

Violate convention and armistice,

Battlefield yields forensic clues

Of a war with monsters that does not cease,

The undead legions of zombies attack,

Vampire feeds on hemophiliac,

The gentle prick and the trickle of red,

Infection through vein and artery sped,

The blood curdles and the milk goes sour,

I became all that I despise and dread,

After scorching earth and burning bower

 

With the man in the mirror there is no truce,

Science of sabotage his expertise ,

Bomb triggered by either timer or fuse,

Hidden with heart, in urn on mantelpiece,

Set to detonate when the night is most black,

In sleep deprived thought of insomniac,

Is it how I was born? How I was bred?

What kind of nutrient was demon fed?

That makes it grow stronger by the hour,

Trying to run away, in haste I fled

After scorching earth and burning bower

 

Why am I so thick skulled and obtuse?

The precious real-estate I let them lease,

While producing excuse after excuse,

Clawing their way out of crevice and crease,

Rising to surface from fissure and crack,

These evil entities, demoniac,

Bear witness as I did the Devil wed,

It is through my own private hell I tread,

Hide in corner of the mind and cower

And scissors snip the single strand of thread

After scorching earth and burning bower

 

My moral decline and the loss of my values

Led to another run in with the police,

Threw me in the drunk tank and turned the thumbscrews,

Brought before justice to plead for release,

Stood in the box with kleptomaniac,

Before judge sent me up the Pontiac,

The horror, I shivered, as my sentence was read,

Solitaire on rations of water and bread,

Locked away in dungeon roots of tower,

Punishment dispensed for the life I had led

After scorching earth and burning bower

 

Didn’t matter if it was sex, drug, or booze,

My destructive nature was the centerpiece,

I was playing a game that I could only lose,

Being ruled by chaos and caprice,

Kicking around my heart like a hacky sack,

Like a freight train coming off of the track,

Derailing my life, in gutter I bled,

Those of my ilk end up in jail or dead,

The light goes on and the truth will endower,

A moment’s epiphany and watershed

After scorching earth and burning bower

 

Envoi

 

I peel the monkeys off of my back,

Swallow hard for any courage I lack

And slay the demons that dwell in my head,

Because no other man can stand in my stead,

Stand firm in my resolve and willpower,

I put on a new skin, the old one I shed

After scorching earth and burning bower

 

T J Therien

 

 

Monsters-Huitain

 

Mind diseased by lycanthropy,

You might not believe that it’s true,

You are no different than me,

A monster dwells within you too,

Werewolves appear when moon is blue,

We all have our Jekyll and Hyde,

If not one beast, then a zoo,

We all conceal darker side

 

T J Therien