On Sherbourne Street

Original Text: 
Richard Greene, Crossing the Straits (Toronto: St. Thomas Poetry Series, 2004): 65-66.
2where at night the voice of being human
3is a siren blare or a drunk crying fuck
4something or other on Sherbourne Street.
5Where I live humans make their own danger
6and the earth is hardly implicated
7in our calamities: the man who tumbles
8more storeys than he has years,
11Security men wear Kevlar vests
12and follow a German Shepherd on a chain
13through the hallways of my building.
14The old sisters next door recall
15when this was a desirable address:
16the doorman wore a kind of livery then
17and helped with parcels.
19and the Filipinos watch one other,
20skirmish, speak of war that may come.
21My friend says I am mistaken
22in thinking this place affordable.
23But I say there is witness amid decay:
24the street blossoms
25in placards and buttons to save
26the hospital from budget cuts,
27and the church refurbishes
28Mary and Bernadette in their grotto
29for worshippers who pass at morning
30and touch the stone.


1] Sherbourne Street: north-south street in central Toronto known for drugs and prostitutes. Back to Line
9] Isabella: east-west street between Yonge and Sherbourne with apartment blocks, largely for singles. Back to Line
10] Corydon: conventional lover's name in classical pastoral poetry. Back to Line
18] St. James Town: densely populated and poor area in downtown Toronto, bounded by Bloor Street, Sherbourne Street, Parliament Street, and Wellesley Street East. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © Richard Greene and used by permission of the poet.
Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from him in writing.