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The City With Heart

 
h2=. THE CITY WITH HEART

Poems by

Jeff Roulston

Published by the author at JeffRoulston.com

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

ISBN: 978-0-9920678-7-8

Copyright 2016 by Jeff Roulston

Dedication

For Keira

I hope one day we can make this city

as beautiful as you

 

Thank you

 

Arys Dejan

 

Watching you work hard motivated me

to finally finish this book

 

 

Kevin Coval

and all the BreakBeat Poets

 

You validated what I do

and made me feel like I’m a part of something

CONTENTS

They Ask Me What I’m Writin For

Take A Walk

The Park

[+ Blacker The Berry Reprise+]

[+ Pen N Paper/Smartphone Screen Dreams+]

La Cité En Français

Tale Of New Citiez

[+ My Style Is Out On Parole+]

This Is Our Planet

[+ Only Built 4 Metrolinx+]

[+ Bullets R Meant For Black Boys+]

Cheers

About Me

Notes

[+ Other Books By Jeff Roulston+]

Connect With Jeff

THEY ASK ME WHAT I’M WRITIN FOR

This is for my Momze who had the house

smelling like Pine Sol every Sunday

morning, Cece Winans cassettes blasting

singing along, saltfish cooking

green banana, plantain, yam and dasheen boiling

washing the hell outta the dishes and

wiping the hell outta the sink when she was done

This is for my Pops who was always

coming downstairs and neatly

resting his plate, fork and glass in the

sparkling sink instead of

washing them before going upstairs and

watching all the politics news shows or

reading some theology textbook or

chillin

This is for the crackhead who lived above me

when I first moved to the 1700s he’d be

standing inside the back door

waiting for the cats from my old hood

who sold him his habit

breathing, infecting the whole stairwell

This is for the super, quick to be

sliding a government form under my door

when my rent was more than five days late

but slow to mop up the blood dripping

leading from the other end of the hall

all the way to mine and right on down the stairwell

This is for my new super who’s always

cleaning the lobby when I leave for work

mopping the floor, vacuuming the carpet

wiping the dust from the tops of the

washing machines and the dryers. I’m

Feeling like I’m moving on up in the world

This is for the working woman

that I used to see

coming down the stairs in my old building

opening the front door for her clients

wearing an open bathrobe

revealing her bra and panties and her

forty, fifty something year old body

This is for her client in my new building

who I’ve never seen, but can afford to pay her

to walk a block. She’s always

flirting with me on the elevator

giggling that she misses having a

strapping young man around

but at least she’s wearing pants

This is for the working women in my new

building wearing scrubs and comfortable white

running shoes and for the

working men in steel-toed boots and warm clothes

and their kids who get on the elevator

smiling, waving at me, brightening my mornings

This is for the old guys sitting on the front steps

waiting for the LCBO to open, because

like my boy Arys says, Life Can Be Overwhelming

I agree, because I often find myself watching

the clock at work, imagining myself

drinking a tall can of black gold

from the Emerald Isle or cracking

a cold bottle of fiery brown darkness

from the sunny country of my heritage

but this money ain’t making itself

This is for my brother who’s been

working, literally, as long as I’ve known him

buying me hockey skates for Christmas and

hooking me up with Nikes for the new season

driving tricked out Golfs, Jettas and Passats

cutting hair for five dollars a head every Sunday

hustling in every legal way imaginable

And my other brother who

don’t recall ever graduating at all

but has never come close to giving up on

making something of himself and

fighting for the right to raise his only son

from grinding to fixing cars

throwing drunk white people out of clubs and bars

putting me on to hip-hop

grabbing the mic himself, spitting bars

driving long days and nights in rental cars

touring all over the continent and England

pounding on beat machines and drums

rolling into concerts with the entire

T.C. Crue since 1992 in blue hats

scaring the shit outta every nineties

and 2000s era Toronto rap nigga

and wack promoter and halfway crook

This is for my cousin for technically

getting expelled on the last day of grade nine

coming back in grade twelve just to be expelled again

this time for smoking cigarettes across the street

That’s Christian education for you

getting his girl pregnant at eighteen and

telling me someone else would be the godfather

because he knew I’d be there for his daughter

without any official title and then

making me the godfather to his second daughter anyway

Since then he’s had another one

(This is for my brothers with daughters)

This is for my best friend whose mom was

working at The Bay so he was always

rocking the freshest clothing and

bringing me Tommy Hilfiger socks when my toes were

sticking out of the holes in mine

passing me the ball to pad my scoring average and

covering for everyone’s defensive lapses

graduating along with me but

skipping the ceremony so we could play ball at St. Tim’s

surviving all those ups and downs and

overcoming shit that I’ve seen drown other people

working his ass off to become something. While I was

coasting through life wasting opportunities he was

saving up for his chance to follow his dream

He hasn’t been answering my calls but that’s cool

because I don’t think I was

checking for him like I should’ve been

either way I’m a keep calling

This is for my best friend

who always got suspended for

stealing but never for

something he’d actually stolen

I was right there with him, determined to be

eating lunch by any means necessary

He was determined to get rich or die

trying like Booger Smith in Soul In The Hole

but the other “or” that 50 didn’t put in the title is

or going to jail and getting out and then

going back again and again and nearly

dragging me down with him but that’s long

forgiven. I just hope he doesn’t spend much more time

sitting in a cell. He told me prison is hell

but in his songs he be rapping about

selling his soul to the Pyrex. He hasn’t been

answering my calls either, which means I won’t be

seeing him again til whenever he’s released

at the end of whatever sentence he’s

serving this time

This is for my old next door neighbour for

convincing his parents to re-pave their driveway

and put up a basketball net, for

hating on my funky jumpshooting form

shoveling the driveway with me back when

cold Canadian winters were still the norm

studying long nights in college and university

getting that degree and that accounting job and

hooking me up with new adidas for the season

He’s like my brother and he has two beautiful daughters

(Remember, this is for my brothers with daughters)

This is for my neighbours smiling at me on the bus

returning bottles to the Beer Store

nodding at me at No Frills

dapping me at the dollar store

asking me how I’m doing in the hallway

This is for my neighbours

barbecuing on their balconies

bumping Biggie and Nas

the Beatles and Nirvana

partying all hours of the night

arguing and fighting when the drank runs out

This is for my old neighbours that are happy for me for

moving out. Shouting me out off their balconies

inquiring about the rent in my new building

calculating their chances of escaping too

This is for my neighbourhood

that in between place where many of our homes are

falling apart, but at least it isn’t public

housing but at least some project residents can afford to go

shopping because their rent doesn’t use up

everything on their paychecks and they aren’t

wondering where their next meal is

coming from. But maybe we’re all just

running from the truth

This is for the politicians in my city

lying about how business is booming

breaking promises to the same people

voting for them religiously and

denying that this city, this country, this world is

treating my people differently

This is for those standing up for us

screaming Black Lives Matter! I don’t care what you’re

tweeting. I probably liked it and kept on

scrolling. I’m more pissed off that they’re not

seething about another killer cop

who’s going to get away with

murdering another innocent Black person

This is for all the names of those we’ve lost

that I can’t remember because I be trying to forget

This is for all the women I regret ever meeting

Sorry I didn’t realize that love is fleeting

now I know that the only true love is true friendship

Either what we had was a lie or we were

lying to ourselves

This is for all those who weren’t born in this country

which is half the people in this city

including my homeboy in the 1600s

who honoured me with my youngest god daughter

she’s beautiful and we know

she’s gonna be a problem and

he reminds me of my brother

(Don’t forget, this is for my brothers with daughters)

The city is changing and people aren’t

adjusting but so-called immigrants like my homeboy are

making this city a better place

This is for my nephews and my godson

growing up so fast. They be

asking a lotta questions

which, apparently, is a sign of intelligence

In my time they didn’t like little Black boys

questioning and eventually I stopped

standing up to them because I was tired of

spending so much time in the office

I swear to god they won’t go through the same thing

no matter what I have to do to stop it

These Black boys will fly

like Kendrick and Hebru Brantley

and I’m willing to give up my freedom to see it

This is for my grade seven teacher who told me

I’m a writer. I finally believe it

This is for my people

Back To Contents

TAKE A WALK

We wait all winter for days like this

We wait all day for the sun to stick

our t-shirts to our backs. Kids like to

walk and jump over cracks in the side-

walk. Laughing and screaming more than

talking. On days off men walk one way with

shopping carts full of emptiness and

walk back with boxes full as if 24 friends

come by everyday. When the 24 bus

flies by they may blink, they may not

The days crawl by and no one

gives time a second thought

Why do we complain as much when it’s hot

as when it’s not hot enough. Maybe Canada

deserves winters as rough as we get. We

need to learn to take yes for an answer since

we wait all winter for days like this

when the days are longer and women can’t

bear to wear pants longer than can be

described as sexy or inappropriate. Try not

to stare longer than is appropriate. Your

thirst, your hunger, your lust for skin might

be stronger than what’s appropriate. But if

you wait, you might just miss an opportunity

to strike while the weather’s hot and their

thirst, their hunger, their lust for love

is stronger than usual and those feelings

you’re catching are mutual. It’s a thin line

between being cussed and being kissed

We wait all winter for days like this

Back To Contents

THE PARK

Wake up, brush teeth, wash face

pour no name brand cereal, add milk

eat and repeat until I’ve had my fill

So hungry and so full of dreams

pulling on my gym shorts, yellow and

green, to play on the same junior high

teams as my heroes, my brothers,

their hero’s number 23 in

permanent marker on the back

of my undershirt, in my heart

permanently, hopefully on my shoes

one day, but not yet. Heaven for me

was a ten foot net, one link left of

what was once a chain-link mesh

that jingled just right when I hit

a jumper from the right elbow,

my release and follow-through right,

but my form a little off to the side.

A little ugly, but two points

is two points. I needed more elevation

though, off the catch and off the dribble

I never learned to cut and finish without

putting the ball down in the middle of the paint

but years before I truly learned the game

I could rattle off every name on those

great teams of the nineties.

Michael, Scottie, Horace, Bill, John

Chris, Jalen, Juwan, Jimmy, Ray

Jamaal, Collin, Calvin, Aaron, Jason

I was chasing my dreams

in my sleep and as soon as I

woke up, brushed my teeth, washed my face

poured no name brand cereal, added milk

ate, repeated until I had my fill

I was so hungry and so full of dreams

Back To Contents

BLACKER THE BERRY REPRISE

This is the sound of life

The sound the universe makes

when everything feels right

It takes a certain amount of happiness

to hear it

It feels just like a warm day

turning into night

near the end of the summer

but before we’ve started to say

it’s over already

and it went too fast

because it still feels

like summer’s gonna last

forever

 

This is the way

life with no worries must feel

The way the song just moves

at a leisurely pace

and the race

to make something of yourself

hasn’t heated up yet

It isn’t so important

Hopefully it stays that way

for a little while at least

I hope you’re miles away from that life

so you can feast on this freedom

for just a little while longer

while you grow stronger

 

This is the feeling you get

when you find something new

and you have all the time

in the world to explore it

To figure it out

To learn how it works

What it takes to keep it going

What does it take

to keep this feeling flowing

To make everything old

feel new again

Back when we were young

we were searching for something

Now we know that

we had everything

And now everything’s gone

except for the feeling that

I get from this song

 

The feeling that I get from this song

 

I love the feeling that I get from this song

Back To Contents

PEN N PAPER / SMARTPHONE SCREEN DREAMS

This is Vic Park poetry

poor people poetry

pissed off poetry

no pot to piss in poetry

powerful people don’t listen poetry

police patrolling poetry

why pree poetry

pigs and politicians pretend to level

the playing field poetry

perfect your chest pass poetry

practice your free throws poetry

park bench cipher philosopher poetry

project basement ProTools poetry

pots and Pyrex poetry

pimp limp poetry

Peter Pan bus poetry

prison workout plan push ups poetry

payphone posturing poetry

phonebook padding for protection poetry

point yourself to the east and

pray five times a day poetry

eighty-ninth percentile GED poetry

nine millimetre projectile poetry

summer of ’99 poetry

Nas is Like cocaine-free poetry

I wanna talk to the mayor, the premier

the motherfucking prime minister poetry

dead prez let’s get free poetry

pirated CD of Jay Z Volume III poetry

Peterson Hall freshman men’s dorm

post-curfew freestyle battle poetry

physical plant plumbing job poetry

undersized power forward poetry

seven year plan poetry

seven cents per page resume photocopy poetry

underemployed overqualified proletariat poetry

phone contact centre customer service

representative poetry

need massa’s permission to go pee poetry

21st century cotton-picking poetry

late night Workopolis application binge poetry

entry level position job posting with five years

previous experience required poetry

professional development opportunity poetry

paid in exposure poetry

unpaid internship poetry

unpaid rent Landlord and Tenant Board

eviction notice poetry

part-time permanent poetry

full-time temporary one year contract poetry

please, I can’t move back in

with my parents poetry

post an ad for a roommate poetry

need a pretty girl to split my rent poetry

if she gets possessive this my house

I’ll disconnect the cable and turn the

lights out poetry

if she gets pregnant I’ll cut the

late nights out poetry

practice what I preach poetry

save my paychecks every week poetry

pay my bills if I have to work three jobs poetry

be a parent to my pickney poetry

piano lessons and private school poetry

private basketball trainer poetry

practice SAT tutor poetry

post-secondary application poetry

partial scholarship or full ride poetry

play your heart out poetry

study all day party all night poetry

promised you’d graduate with your class poetry

first or second round pick on draft day poetry

going pro in something other than sports poetry

proud of you either way poetry

prepared for the cold world poetry

put something away for a rainy day poetry

pass this on and pay it forward poetry

this is pen and paper/smartphone screen dreams poetry

Back To Contents

LETTER 2 A SUNCHILD

The big city is new to you

but big dreams are not

Eat well, fill your belly with confidence

faith in your abilities

belief in yourself

and pride in your wealth

(because you are rich in culture)

You’ll need it when times get rough

and the cupboards go bare

and your heritage is your only meal

And your hunger is real

Never lose that hunger for happiness

as your appetite is apparent

and there’s power in your potential

though your obstacles are obvious

it is realistic that your resilience

Is enough to empower

you and your family

Your people

Seeing your eyes open to a world

bigger than yourself

Watching your self-esteem

grow even bigger

has made my life even brighter

than your opportunity

to change the world

even brighter than your eyes

and your eyes are even

brighter than the sun!

Child,

your eyes are even

brighter than the sun!

Back To Contents

LA CITÉ EN FRANÇAIS

 (The City In French)

 

La cité est trés belle quand il pleut

Les rues seront nouvelles

à demain, et je l’aime

Et il peut être meilleur

aussi. Des rappeur sont dit

<< Si tu veux, tu peux>>

Je ne comprends pas toujours

mais je veux un jour

On a bésoin de faire une

Mieux ville aujourd’hui

pas un jour. Alors

nous attendons pour

le nouveau jour

 

Aprés il pleut

 

 

(The city is very beautiful when it rains

The streets will be new

tomorrow, and I love that

And it can be better

too. Rappers say

If you want to, you can”

I don’t always understand

but I want to one day

We need to make a

Better city today

not one day. So

we wait for

the new day

 

After it rains)

Back To Contents

TALE OF NEW CITIEZ

They say everything old

becomes new again

Fixed up and sold

for somebody’s gain

and you’re left in the cold

or the pounding rain

after years of mold

and neglect and pain

 

Good times are always

bad times for someone

and in just as many ways

lives, like homes, come undone

On the worst of days

we refuse to run

We were raised by this place

as its daughters and sons

 

We want to grow up

and claim our spot

even as cranes go up

and properties get hot

We’ll never have enough

to buy back our lot

Soon the memories we love

will be all we got

Back To Contents

MY STYLE IS OUT ON PAROLE

I want to stay up late and wake up

whenever I think life is going my way I get

screwed and chopped, skew it on the

barbecue chicken and burnt macaroni

pie in the sky hopes get us absolutely

nowhere to go but up, except I’m being held

down with the king, same guy, different

name one thing your people have done for

me and you, your momma and your cousin

too much style, not nearly enough

substance of things hoped for, I don’t

believe you me, I’m whatever you

say word you got those in the new

colour of poverty unless we win the

lottery picks have a chance at a good

life is what you make it nigga I’m a make

it can’t be too good to be true, that’s a

lie down, get down or lay down, just stay

down ass niggaz, ride-or-die bitches keep it

real housewives of Toronto aren’t even

married to the game and don’t know the

rules of engagement, we don’t need a

ring the alarm, another young black man is

dying of thirst, the streets are hot like

fire and brimstone, guns, gangs and

roses that grew from the concrete

Jungle, Regent, P. O., Don Mount and Allenbury

Gardens grow when you water them with

love don’t cost a thing, the best things in life are

free up da man dem, R.I.P. to my

niggas be trippin’, bitches be gettin’ caught

slippin’, fallin’ and I can’t get

up

Back To Contents

THIS IS OUR PLANET

This is for the city with heart

the gritty street art that literally takes over

everything you see

Paint over the ads on the TTC

We don’t need that shit

We need to be free

They need us to fit in

but we want to stand out

not to sit down hush that fuss

move to the back of the bus

We the type of people make the world see us

hear our voices, feel our pain

but they got their noses turned up at us

Smells like teen spirit when we turn up

Never too old to blast beats and lyrics

for everyone to hear it

This is our city, our story

we don’t care if you fear it

When you look in the mirror

you’re lying to whoever you see there

We’re telling the truth and you can’t bear it

You don’t wanna hear it

But the future is here

The time when power is passed over is near

It’s for those passed over.

those young, Black and gifted

women of all colours

This is how life was meant to be all along

Imagine how bright our city would be

if we didn’t have to take over and make over

the walls and billboards with spray paint

How long did they expect us to wait

while they reflected their hate on everyone other

They made us enemies of the state

to smother and suffocate us

They say we’re violent but they made us

the city’s hands around our necks

as we take our last breaths

dying slowly

or the fast way by those paid to kill us

with bullets meant to serve and protect

We lay dead but not conquered

We rose up and marched and laid in the streets

and blocked the highway to have our song heard

We angered the city the way it angers us

hurts us

hits us first

holds us back

We’re taking our city back

Back To Contents

ONLY BUILT 4 METROLINX

I call my brother son cause he shine like one

of my cousin Geazy’s gold teeth

Will the revolution come like a thief in the night

or a brazen daylight shooting?

I say it’ll never come unless we bring it

speak it write it sing it

When the bullets ring out

make sure you the one that aimed em

not the one maimed

Either way we’ll be blamed

Might as well carry big heat

wavy hair chipped teeth

and no dental plan

Enough food to eat, pay rent and

buy two cans of adult refreshments

How did I go from a college freshman

with big goals and wild dreams

to a man with big holes in my credit

and my whole team in prison

or back in the unemployment line?

This whole thing (being Black)

really takes the enjoyment out of life

It’s every man for they self in this so-called

land of opportunity where cops be gunnin

They don’t knock

they kick down your door when you’re poor

They kick you while you’re down

Ain’t no tellin when I’m down for a jack move

Real bad boys move in silence and non-violence?

Fuck that I’m shooting at ya highness

Fuck you ya honour

Check my personal checking account again

There should be enough for my bail in there

I’m not scared I went to high school

It was like jail in there

They say I failed in there

but I say they failed me

They mailed me my diploma

before I even finished

my god damn credits

Dead it

You think a nigga going back to school?

Shit, forget it

Jeff did that

hopefully you don’t have to go through that

You want the truth?

Their textbook will never show you that

So in our youth we rely on these

thugged out uneducated niggas

They’re our literary figures

Back To Contents

BULLETS R MEANT FOR BLACK BOYS

There’s a hole

where Wayne’s skull used to be

with melting play doh or something falling into it

Tears fall out of my twelve year old eyes

while my brother and my cousin analyze

the substance patching up

my other brother’s best friend’s forehead

not covering up much of anything

Open caskets at summer funerals for Black boys

leave little to the imagination

I’d never imagined my first funeral would be

for a twenty year old Black boy dying

filled with other Black boys crying

but only on the inside

hiding their emotions

I promised myself I’d do the same next time

because there would be a next time

I knew that now

I knew my dad probably wouldn’t allow me to

play ball in Flemo anymore now

I’d have to lie to go to the 3 on 3 tournament

where that guy would jam me

for my tournament t-shirt

because he said I wasn’t from there

and didn’t deserve to wear it

and it was too much trouble

to tell him who I am and

who my brother is and

that I was there at that funeral

crying while my bro and cuz were

trying to act like they weren’t

crying inside but I guess

they were used to Black boys dying

because they were at another funeral

just the week before

trying to hide their emotions

and they were good at it already

 

There’s a Facebook group

where Tyler used to be

Actually there are at least three

R.I.P Tyler Roulston

R.I.P PEPPER FUKIN PEE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TYLERPEPPER P” ROULSTON

plus one dedicated to him

and five or six other Black boys

under age nineteen that died in

under two years in the same place

under the same circumstances

His little brother visited every day

for years to write things like

“wa gwan famlay

dun kno seh mi deh ya

holler at me brother

3arly”

and

“wats poppin mah niggah

it’s hard out here bro

3arly”

and eventually

“Niggers are BITCH believe me!!!”

so I’m worried about him

kids I don’t know stopped by to write

CAN’T SLEEP MISSIN U LIKE CRAZY

and

THIS IS FOR MY FALLEN SOLDIERS

WE MISS YOU!!!”

so I’m worried about Scarborough too

and every time I hear that Demarco song

I can still see the crowds of kids

at the graveside dancing and singing

and I know he was a great person

because so many people loved him

and I wish I could’ve known him

and loved him too

and been there for him

when the cops found a way

to send his dad home to Jamaica

and my co-worker saw my last name

and “the way I walk”

and told me I had a cousin

going down the wrong path

that needed me urgently

Now he’s gone permanently

 

There are so-called luxury townhouses

where Sean’s body used to be

where the trap used to be

although my brother said

“the people living there now

don’t look any different to me!”

I remember the police blocking off the street

with primary colours

red and blue lights and yellow tape

me turning off VP to drive the long way home

hoping nothing happened to anybody I know

Well something did

I didn’t know him well but

I know my boy taught him the game

and when my boy was fresh out

and I let him stay with me

because everyone else had money

to help him start over and I didn’t

but I had a couch and a job and no record

and looked like a good influence to his P.O.

I still lived on the strip though

and Sean was out there

driving a big two year old Pontiac

with rims and speakers worth as much as the car

calling it his winter beater

so my boy knew business was booming

and he wanted back in

next time I come home

there are crusty Pyrex under my sink

I told my boy he had to go had to go

if he had more pies to bake up

I called him the day after Sean died

only four months later

he didn’t even sound shaken up

He knew the whole story

told me that

the bullet wasn’t meant for that nigga

but by then I knew that was a lie

because bullets are meant for Black boys

whether they deserve to die or not

Back To Contents

CHEERS

Sometimes I need a Guinness

for when I feel like I can’t do this

when I’m not feeling so stout

and blackness is coming

in and out my mouth

 

I have the urge to go home

where the darkness feels Extra Foreign

but it’s a higher percentage and

so much stronger and

Dragons spit fire

and men sit on the street

holding their Magnums and

they’re stronger and last longer and

they swear they’re the reason

she doesn’t walk right

but that’s just talk right?

 

Meanwhile on my block

I don’t want to walk

down the street at night for fear that

my blood will flow on the concrete

like a Red Stripe. My skin is light

but not white enough and the news will say

there was Carib or Corona in my blood

I’m not Canadian enough so the boys in

Labatt Blue had the right to beat me

black and blue or shoot me

 

What if I pulled out an Innis &

Gunn and took it to the head?

It goes down so much smoother

than the beatings and bullshit

you’ve been feeding us since

even before 1664 Blanc

before you knew you were white

but you knew right from wrong

and you kept going kept sliding

like you didn’t see Black Ice

 

Hundreds of years later you act like
you don’t see colour

when you pull out that Colt 45

and spray me wet me let loose

different year same noose

No big deal partner

pass me a Moosehead

Hey Bud Lighten up

 

But my family is lighting up and

pouring Heineken off the balcony

fighting tears and suicidal thoughts

hatching homicidal plots

 

My people are protesting peacefully

but that’s not how I’m resting

My posthumous writings are riot inciting

I hope my enemies

my oppressors

drink nothing

but molotov cocktails

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ABOUT ME

I was born in this city

Raised in this city

I love this city, so

I tell the truth about

this city. Truth is

I was destroyed

by this city. You blew it

So it’s our turn

to create a new city

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NOTES

The City With Heart: The slogan for the former city of North York (incorporated on Valentine’s Day), one of 6 cities and boroughs smashed together to become the “megacity” of Toronto.

 

They Ask Me What I’m Writin For: shouts to Kweli and Hi-Tek for the title; the 1600s and 1700s are my blocks; the LCBO is the government-run liquor store in Ontario; the funny part is that my boy Arys Dejan doesn’t even drink, look up his music online though, he nice; Guinness and Dragon Stout are my favourite beers; The Bay is a department store; The Beer Store is a mysterious monopoly owned by three foreign corporations exploiting Ontario beer drinkers; No Frills is a grocery store that’s usually in low– and middle-income hoods.

 

The Park: shouts to the Bulls, the Fab Five and Eastern Commerce High School’s legendary 1995-96 team!

 

The Blacker The Berry Reprise: does anyone else love when the beat switches up at the end of that Kendrick Lamar song?

 

Pen And Paper/Smartphone Screen Dreams: Vic Park, or Victoria Park Ave., is the street I live on, the border between Scarborough and the rest of Toronto; “why pree?” is a Jamaican and Torontonian expression that means “why are you watching me?” or something like that; the single for the song “Nas is Like” included the album version and the “cocaine-free” version, a

radio edit that left out the word “cocaine,” the only potentially offensive word in the song (and the next line is a Canadian play on the hook of Nas’ “I Want To Talk To You” from the same

album); whenever I’m enforcing my house rules, usually when someone is drinking their beer too slow, I quote Big Boi’s line “this my house, I’ll disconnect the cable and turn the lights out” in Outkast’s “Sorry Ms Jackson” because, I’m so hip hop… and I’m an idiot; “pickney” means child in Jamaican nation-language.

 

Letter 2 A Sunchild: dedicated to youth I hosted in Toronto and visited on Sunchild First Nation reserve in Alberta, Canada.

 

La Cité En Français: forgive my broken French, but this is hip-hop, and we don’t respect the colonizers’ languages anyway; shouts to Quebecois rappers Dubmatique for the line from their classic 1997 song “Soul Pleurers.”

 

Tale Of New Citiez: dedicated to the Toronto public housing neighbourhoods currently being gentrifi—I mean, revitalized, including Regent Park, Lawrence Heights a.k.a. Jungle and

Alexandra Park a.k.a. P.O.; and word to J. Cole for the title.

 

My Style Is Out On Parole: it’s a freestyle, get it? Get it? Shouts to Common whose song “Resurrection” I heard that in first; Also shouts to Run DMC, Outkast, Nas, Tenor Saw,

Kendrick Lamar, Tupac Shakur and DMX, whose lyrics and poetry appear in the poem; and word to The Colour of Poverty campaign in the province of Ontario, Google that!

 

This Is Our Planet is the first line of one of my favourite Toronto rap songs, “Thin Line,” by Point Blank; shouts to Outkast & Nirvana too; shouts to Black Lives Matter—TO, who blocked the ramps to the Allen Expwy to protest the murder of Andrew Loku by Toronto police.

 

Only Built 4 Metrolinx: I listened to Raekwon’s 1995 album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx a lot while completing the last few poems of this chapbook; Metrolinx is a mysterious provincial

government agency that oversees public transit expansion in Toronto and its suburbs; look for lyrics and song titles from Method Man, Mos Def & Talib Kweli, Nas, Mobb Deep, Ice Cube (couldn’t quote ONLY East Coast rappers!), Biggie, M.O.P. and Jay Z; oh and my cousin Geazy can rap his ass off too.

 

Cheers: these days, even poems I write about the beers I like (and the boring mainstream North American ones that I don’t) always spiral into angry joints about police brutality, racism and revolution, so yeah, #BlackLivesMatter… if ya don’t know, now ya know. Nigguh.

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OTHER BOOKS BY JEFF ROULSTON

Toronto The Good. Poems by Jeff Roulston. 2013. Free e-Book

Second Chances And Other Short Stories. 2014. Free e-Book

There Goes The Neighbourhood And Other Short Stories. 2014. Free e-Book

Teammates: A Long Story. 2015. Free e-Book

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CONNECT WITH JEFF

…On the web: http://www.jeffroulston.com/

…by e-mail: [email protected]

…on Twitter: @JeffRoulston

…on Instagram: @JeffRoulston

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The City With Heart

THE CITY WITH HEART is the second poetry chapbook by Jeff Roulston, known to many is his community as Jeff The Writer. He subscribes to the newest, realest movement in creative writing, known as The BreakBeat Poets, a generation of poets, lyricists and activists reared on and inspired by hip-hop culture. This is a collection of love and hate poems dedicated to his hometown of Toronto, which his spoken word-inspired poetry describes as a schizophrenic place both happy and painful, equally wealthy and morally destitute.

  • Author: Jeff Roulston
  • Published: 2017-02-01 06:35:13
  • Words: 6035
The City With Heart The City With Heart