The Street Names of Toronto

So that Rogue Embryo isn’t completely idle during the break, I’m posting three poems from Sonnets, originally published in The Literary Review of Canada—I hope you enjoy this holiday holding pattern.

And please stay tuned in the new year for more reviews, poetry collages, whatnot . . .

the street names of toronto

a great benefactor, you planted more fruit trees
in the aftermath of your tragic death than during
your expansive life. you discovered gold
and had music piped in. and then your name lost an “e”
in a fencing accident. in 1927 you opened the university
of the difficulties of the poor, who danced
a minuet of sublimation rather than eat their soggy
sustenance. armed with pitchforks and other farm implements,
a feed mill and an amusement park managed to survive
your last act as lieutenant governor. we seek you,
great benefactor. although you can still be spotted underwater
or strolling through hollows, you are an unsuitable
subject for the queen. the hurons killed and ate you,
and now you are a street.

you were a brewer and a faithful methodist. prejudiced
against trees, you imported some of your prize bushes
from a brickyard in scotland. though considered ineffective,
you dreamed of living in a real castle
with thirty bathrooms and ornamental lakes
for the ponies. during the rosedale croquet riots,
the house of lords burned your effigy
at their clubhouse. after hanging the rebels,
you rebuilt your tavern and outlived all your accusers.
eventually your debts drove you to selling candy floss
in public dance halls and lunatic asylums. you left
instructions for your heart to be tucked away
in a place with no alcoholic beverages,
and now you are a street.

you had the checkered early history
of an anointed bishop who ate french fries
in paper cones and snowflake donuts
on the side. you traded blankets for fishhooks
and carried people, mail, and goods to rousing
camp meetings, despite a good deal of ill feeling.
after you sold most of your land, your name
was often misspelled. in spite of your emotionally
disturbed outlook, you moved to york
at 600 feet per hour and set up a shop that will soon
be razed. in a streak of good fortune, you were knighted
for introducing showgirls and rhubarb to the area.
then dynamite exploded in your face,
and now you are a street.



Camille Martin

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