Thursday, 27 September 2007

volume 2

I've been living with a coke addict for the last 15 months and was shocked and dismayed she chose her drug over me. So now I'm off to teach English in Korea...there they say never step in the shadow of a teacher.

A friend of mine tells me I am falling in love with my intellect again.

2500 a month to teach English to five year olds . A buddy says there are lots of drugs, beautiful women and much easy money. He says I may die. I know but not that soon.

I am chaotic. I go from touring Canada to touring Asia. Already I'm doubling back and going so far East it's to the west.

The voices are almost non stop in my head. Do this, do that, don't do this don't do that, I freeze and when i do something that's all there ever was...

and on and on...

I am stuck in a world of doubt, still unable to make decisions. Impossible to execute so why make plans. Beginning to feel the wildness again. My woman has left and it is time to go back to ...

Keeping minute notes of my ;life would be more interesting than many quick scribbles. Other times I'm satisfied with what i do. Richer than most poorer than some, money in the bank...

Look forward...know where you've been, know where you want to go. What's done is done...It's not all true's not all is...

Why write? For money of course stupid. God awaits. Didn't you know that money was only an energy source. Mouth open I like fucking the face.

Do crazy people feel crazy or is it merely a judgement that sane ones reserve fro themselves...
I am not a Saint. i want to be in the game but when i think of the trophy i lose initiative..

Madness is an inability to separate imaginings from reality. Reality has blood and deadness as does my mind...

It's just a game. How could I say that? Yet I did. I am tired and still think I have to...

Emily Carrs work makes the Indian available to the white man. She observed, as a Native noticed from the outside, capturing an art form as an art form. Arrogant? What if some one carved the Mona Lisa. Her painting of trees are closer to the truth.

The phone rings at two in the morning. It is Mona wanting to come over. I say No and she calls again. This time I aced and say don't come too late. She says she is using someone elses cell phone and God loves me. We hang up and Gabe calls and says she has left the bar with some one else to do coke. I fall asleep around five, make a coffee and roll cigarette. Outside the sky is blue, the snow is white and the trees are grey and motionless...

Volume 1

My brain is foggy. The tap is dripping. The shelves have fallen off the walls. I am unemployed and sinking into debt. My chest is clogged from smoking. I am alone. I am looking for work and have dropped off one resume. I have organized my place of work and gotten myself fired.

I dream I am a black man lying on a white man whose guts are dripping. I say you will not die yet.

I am in a frenzy waiting for what? Rehearsing conversations I will never have in my head. Unwilling to be here, always wanting to be there (have another beer and the pot is on the house)

I have a job interview at the Sheraton tomorrow. I am also speaking with an Asian gentleman who has taken my passport and is promising me a job in Korea teaching English to five year olds. $2500 a month and I've never been to Asia. 35 years old and still exploring. The endless mindless drama and now i take the act to the oldest culture. I listen I learn goodbye.

Options. The more we understand the more we live. The closer to life the closer to death. life is dying those who profess otherwise seek...the rest of us are too tired to explain and why bother.

No impossible their is mainstream talk of UFO es. People believe their is life elsewhere and why not? What if they discover us before we discover them? Planetary genocide. What if our history has been documented? Would you visit? Will they? War like peace maybe.

Masturbation stimulating the mind with pictures, movies memories and imaginings. Healthy some say, energy waste say others...mind fuck...

on the new planet sex is non existent. Inventors? Who cares? The military: President Bush.

Craftsmanship. I break into these spasms of writing, outbursts of emotion, ridiculous but going on...modern art (ha) there is no help...

Is there anything to write? I have no money. I do not know if a woman will show up. How does one ever know. Life comes..write it down if you like...

Dear Mr. EDE (Economic Development Edmonton)

I over estimated
your ability to
defend a safe position
the few with
staying power
are vigilant
but you were asleep
while i was in motion

doing as i pleased

an idea run rampant
on the rules cannot
be contained by minds
not on the same equation

Einstein hinted to all of us

Really now...

why do you exist

PS I advise you for free
to get new legal counsel
not pout of respect for the profession
but there were many weak points to my plan
most of them legal
and your lawyers never caught a sniff


Dear Mr. EDE (Economic Development Edmonton)


i was mailed a letter, no I called Robin to see about my shifts. He said the Chef wanted to meet with me this time in the Chefs' office. We met at the arranged time, the Chef at his desk, Robin sitting a little behind and to the left, with a clip board.

Chef: Hello. Did you have a good time at the party (smirking)
Me: Yes
Chef: Good. Well we have concluded our investigation and we will have to let you go for the following reasons. You threatened bodily harm to a fellow employee, 2 you told security you could do whatever you wanted and three you missed your last few shifts and on and on...

Me: You changed my schedule
Robin: No I didn't. (if your on my side we'll know he's a liar.)

Chef: Any ways it doesn't matter. Your employment here is terminated.

I am trapped. They have hired me and can fire me. I ramble on about the physical world and the spiritual world ending with:

"You can fire me but my spirit is here and I'm not leaving."

They look a little confused and I walk out.

The Christmas Party

So I sneak into the building though back halls and show up behind the bar. I peek through the curtains and call a bartender to get the chief engineer. He comes over and gives me his ticket. (First of course he records the numbers...door prizes).

I enter dressed in a jean jacket, old track pants, work boots and a toque. i order a beer and Mona shows up in her tight pink tank top and hard nipples. I buy her a drink or she buys me a drink and i spill one with a crash on the floor and take a seat by the door.

A man from the Philippines who served in the US Navy and buys two double Bacardi's and a Native Artist joins Mona. The East Indians are sitting in a line and I'm yelling we got the vote. They all believe sitting cool and stoic and every body knows what side every one is on and maybe no one cares but I I am vocal and loud and clear...mercy mercy...

The Ron starts following Mona around and she brushes him off but he persists as she is a beautiful girl. He walks by and I call him down. He is old, shaky and weak from a head injury. I tell him to punch me and he says no you punch me and back and forth it idiotically goes. Finally he leaves with the parting shot, "Your smart but your not that smart." Showing my intelligence i retort with, "You're a retard."

Gabe is putting the moves on a new girl in the dish room and Mona's running around with her artist friend and I'm getting drunk. I approach the general managers table where he and his family are seated. I demand that Evelyn get all her quarters back, that all wrongs be made right etc blah blah blah etc. I'm yelling and pointing and he backs off. I start grabbing half drunk wine bottles off tables and people keep running form me. The security guards tell me to leave but i ignore them and go to the dish room to wish Lana and Hong a Merry Xmas. Security follows and I keep yelling the tell all, "I can do anything I like."

I get back to my seat and eight or nine security guards are there along with two cops. They keep telling me I have to leave but I keep stalling them with the ever original phrase, "Keep your fucking hands off me."

Eventually I allow them Io escort me from the building with Mona and her artist friend in tow. At the top of the stairs Mona makes us all wait by taking her time putting on her shoes. We go back to our place and the artist talks about becoming famous and I fall asleep on the couch. I wake up and the artist has left and Mona is in my arms. We lie together for three days. On Xmas eve she leaves to see Ron and calls drunk from the bus depot.

She is leaving for Saskatoon and wants me to come and say good bye. I go and she gives me a picture by her artist friend called a journey of love.

A few days later I am fired for supposedly threatening an Italian no vote with death.

the vote

over three days the vote is held

on pay day you must vote
before you get your check
and management
encourages a "No vote"
but we win the day
because the old timers
are behind the cause

Saturday we win again
because the East Indians stay on board
the Italians stay on side
and the young Chinese are not as
stupid as they sound

Tuesday I do not leave to chance
and work the phones all Monday night

15 people vote on Tuesday
and I have spoken with 12

I am the last person to vote
An empty net goal

I have spoken
we are union


I am to clean
the walls of the
dish room
knows I am
behind the union

an agitator

we vote
and Tuesday

waiting in the
semi darkness
listening to
Led Zeppelin

and the natives
won't vote
the blacks are
behind their leader
the Italian are in
the East Indians
are no longer
the Chinese
won't say

and the
fat ones
are happy

the President and I

A few days before the vote I phone the president of the EDE Jim Edwards and introduce myself as the man behind the union. I explain I want to meet and discuss some of the issues that have led to my actions. he agrees...

"Where should we meet?"
"In my office."
"I wasn't aware kitchen cleaners had offices."
"My office is the smoking area be there at five."

On the day of the meeting i start drinking around noon, go to the casino and win a hundred bucks, leave the table and the Chinese leave with me. I head to the Palladium and meet with a journalist whom I feed information. We part and agree to stay in touch.

i arrive at the Shaw and Gabe has cleaned the smoking area. i tell him the office looks good and we bang fists laughing. I sit in my usual chair and light a smoke.

Jim Edwards arrives, escorted by the head of security and the Chef. Security watches the door and the Chef follows along clip board in hand. We introduce ourselves and I tell him I want to meet one on one.

"The chef is your immediate supervisor and his presence is required."
" I'd prefer to meet one on one."
"If the Chef has to leave their will be no meeting."

I am angry at his petulance and start shaking and after a few moments i decide to leave with the words, "Fine no meeting."

Jim Edwards looks stunned and the Chef looks sad. I leave the dock and catch an escalator up. The president follows and asks me to change my mind but it is too late. A few months later he resigns.

know this

if the movement is stewarded properly, once the petition is at the labour board and deemed legit, the union is in. People do not sign something to vote NO. Management can huff puff an spend money but if the original signers stay on board the party is over...

yes I've read the art of war. If you can capture a country with out blood shed that is best..know the terrain and of course thy enemy..know thy self...

push hard
push fast
hit the target
on your first shot

the dumb fuckers
stagger and wonder
what hit'em

stoic i watch
smug faces fill
with anxiety

they were dead before
now it's official.

Let it Ride

So I hand in the petition and Lance says he has never seen so many signatures so quickly in his thirty years of organizing. We go though the list and i witness all the names without and he leaves with the petitions and I sit and wait.

That Friday the labour board informs management the workers have applied for certification and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 401 will be their bargaining agent. From what I hear they are in shock.

As predicted they call their lawyers and for the first time in history start sending the employees letters. The first one insinuates they didn't know the workers were unhappy and if they were why didn't they just say over the next 10 days they send out seven letter in a poorly disguised misinformation campaign. They start intimidating the staff who are involved. I'm told to stay in the kitchen and Dawn is told more work and less talk...Gabe is contract worker is fired and a sympathetic manager is suspended with pay.

So they send letters saying how much they care then they treat us differently...everyone can see what is going on and those who can't have some one close by to explain...

Management is in essence bureaucrats; they are not bad people just a little spoiled...

So after witness their counter strike I know the union movement is in good shape and management is too far behind.

Of course they are well funded, better educated and have access to information, but down a 139 to nothing, I don't care how good you are, we'll win when all we need is a hundred yes votes.

(the eligible voter list is in and the magic number is 242, but only a couple hundred or so will vote.)

One month less two days

i know this is true...

It 1 as you know i end with 10...October 25th the dishwashers know who i 2...bars come on side and Henry brings in a miracle and a university student in business..still believes and signs 4 i get more dishwashers..October 30th...dawn comes through with three family members, a mother and two daughters...Halloween i don't fuck with the spooks and take the day off...i rest, drink, get high and imagine freedom for everyone...November 1st...Gabe comes through with three..on the second..a native and a landlady...we are still in motion...we're at 42...the East Indians come on board en mass...

Charles signs up his crew and we're sitting pretty at 62..i sign up some stragglers from the dishroom and Mona gets a couple from the kitchen...

management still doesn't know...

the kitchen surprises me and another 4 sign...75...i bribe a stoner with an ounce for thirty..he comes up with eight...i give him half and he's happy and so am I...83 by the ninth of still has no clue...the last of the dish room gets it up..more surprises from the kitchen...the painter wants to know what's up ...i tell him by the trash...hell yes...he signs in Gabes' office...Dawn brings in housekeeping..all but one...leave her out I African signs...banquets keeps coming...November 23rd I'm done 139 management knows but it is too late...we have spoken....

No mercy

i have 135 signatures and give myself another day to hit 140....mercy..people now know this is real...without question i am at will be lost...lives will be different...

Getting a signature now requires terrorist being a good soldier..I smoke a joint over looking the beautiful North Saskatchewan River, come back in and storm Hall C where banquets are working and go through the room convincing coming out with two...Naomi's a great help...Gabriel keeps bringing...two more...Charles is still confused and can't find his sheet leaving us with 139.

Jonathon, a Quebecois pastry chef says he'll sign but when i go to see him at 7:30 AM he changes his mind...soft mother balls...and we submit with 139 OK.

So it'll go to vote and if everyone stays on side...I don't care about time we've won...


we have now compiled 102 signatures, all legit...another 20-40 still out there and tonight stock well day is coming for dinner..980 supporters paying $350 a plate..he's good to the rich. a fundamentalist christian believing everything white...

management just caught wind of the movement but have no clue who or where we are..only 30 signatures to go..slow and easy

desperately not wanting to be arrogant or over confident

the war is not over but it will be shortly

the enemy is cloaked and blinded by ignorance

I quell feeling of sympathy

dog fucker

it is tiring looking lazy
yet at work I saunter
while the bosses watch
and of course i recieve
the appropriate reprimand

they ask me what i'm doing
wonder why i'm there


i'm forming a union
cleaning pots, sweeping floors
scrubbing walls

keeping it quiet
while management
thinks about
mistresses and car payments

keeping it quiet----
that's the secret
that's the work.

Not Sent

This is a letter that was not sent to the Shaw conference center employees to counter the letter the Shaw was sending us.

The union committee has met and we are now in the process of forming a union. the main concerns are:

1. uncompetitive wages
2. labour conditions

A petition will be circulated and anyone who has worked a shift in either October or November will be eligible to sign. Once 40% of the work force signs we will submit the petitions to the labour board. Then there will be a vote and 50% plus one must vote in favour.

Then the union certifies the Shaw and we are in a position to bargain a collective bargaining agreement. We will be in a strong position. The Shaw does not want to close and the city does not want to embarrass itself.

We will negotiate the following:

1. wages that are competitive for the industry
2. full time benefits for those who work full time hours
3. a systematic process to file grievances

It is simple a union is good for workers

What side a re you on?

First sign the petition, then every one gets a vote.

A final message: to those who ran from conflict in the past, we live in a democracy but only those informed decide, staying close to the boss won't work.


Juma is from Somalia. He told a Christian organization in a Kenya refugee camp he believed in Jesus. The Muslims didn't like this and wanted to kill him and his family thus the Christian organization was able to obtain refuge status from him and his family.

He had been in Edmonton a couple of months when he got a job at the Shaw conference center. It was winter and he would warm himself with the steam from the pot washing machine.

He didn't like the work complained it was too hard. When we would walk home together he would ask if he was off duty and i would explain that he was.

i told him about the union and he said, "So it is you who is causing them problems." We laughed. He signed the sheet and brought his wife and young child for dinner. He explained to his wife i was a very important person and I believed him. He ended up drunk, puking face down into the carpet. His wife got him up and they walked the couple of blocks home.

Once he had obtained his papers he told the christian organization he was a Muslim.


is an old grey woman who works in housekeeping, cleaning offices, toilets and mopping floors.

She never spoke to me but i heard her dead husband was an alcoholic who use to beat her.

She's well past the age of retirement and has been employed by the center from the beginning.

I tell her we're forming a union and she mumbles 'bout time. But when I push her to sign the petition she cowers and says, "I don't want know trouble." And I am relentless screaming the injustice of her life into her face, demanding she consider others repeating over and over again management will not find out.

She goes pale and I withdraw. I tell Dawn of the ambush and a few days later we have another signature.


Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Blast off

Management is oblivious and i sign my name in the pot wash area and get my partner James to witness. He signs and I witness. Two down. Tell the guy at the back of the machine who has since died from cocaine complications, "I'm forming a union, the petition is under the meat slicer go sign." He does and tells his girlfriend and so on. In 17 minutes nine people have signed and we have 122 to go.

I work my hours and go home and sign up Mona and finish the night with 10. I can do what needs to be done, now I wonder about my team.


Robin is an alcoholic, who doesn't drink, wanna be cop, free mason and the all the rest. Doped up on pain killers for a bad something or other, constantly consuming sugar products and generally out of it.

He was the Chefs' watchdog and the head honcho of stewarding.

His general omnipresence gave me lots of room to manoeuvre...I was the guy signing up people on the loading dock, in Hall A, downstairs in the cafeteria, the E&S office and...shh don't mention this...his entire staff. He never knew nor suspected anything.

This is called gloating. I could say i wish i wasn't a braggart but that would be untrue.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007


So I set up a meeting and i invite one person from each department except banquets. When I get to the restaurant, Charles from E&S and Dawn from house keeping are sitting at one table, while the union rep is sitting at another. I bring them together, and we sit waiting Gabe and Philomena. Charles calls for Gabe on his cell phone and I order a bacon and cheeseburger on the unions' dime.

lance from the union is in his sixties and is scheduled to retire in a couple of months and for the most part is going through the motions. He tells us union stories he has told many time before...

Gabe and {Philomena arrive and Lance quickly explains a union is a group of employees who negotiate the terms of their employment...simple enough...

Then he hands each one of us a brown envelope containing ten employee petitions. He is in a hurry, his daughters car which he bought for fourteen grand has broken down and he needs to meet with the dawn is fired up..Gabe is cocky...Charles is confused...and Philomena gives me a beautiful smile which makes her look young and assures me I am on the right path. We have the petition and according to my calculations all we need is 131 signatures...



worked days in the pastry kitchen and i worked nights. her two daughters worked in banquets and she was friends with Lana and Hong. I knew through the grapevine she was having problems with her hands and the Shaw wasn't too interested in helping.

the Shaw would prefer to replace an employee than have one go on compensation. It was cheaper and easier. The rest of the kitchen staff consisted of apprentice cooks, immigrants and the handicapped and the chef had most of them under his thumb...

but Philomena still had some kindness and fight.

one night she was working late and i was cleaning a large pot in the pastry section. i asked her like a good lawyer if she was happy in the kitchen. She replied as expected and i asked her if she wanted to do anything about it.

Again as expected. i told her where to go and when to be there. She was in.

Events and services

are responsible for setting up tables, chairs and stages. They are paid $7.80 an hour to start. Men doing the same thing at Netherlands are paid $12. I've worked three shifts with them starting at midnight. Work is work.

I spoke with a couple of guys about possible action.

"you mean do something.
"you don't want to rock the boat."

The chains are secure and heavy around the ankles of a scared man.

After work I tell one of the supervisors, Charlie I'm forming a union. He swears it can't be done. i get his cell number ands tell him I'll call for the first meeting. resistance..on ward...

Saturday, 15 September 2007


So even though i had a plan i was still unable to connect with the union rep from CUPE 30 in any meaning full way. I didn't think she was taking me serious when she calls and want to meet. I hesitate and she says, "OK I'll do this over the phone."

"Gareth I've decided another union would be a better fit for you, a union that specialized in the food industry." I agree but not for the reasons she gives, CUPE 30 is unquestionably in bed with the city. So i reply with, "You can't do that. What's wrong with you don't you believe i can do it."

"Gareth listen to me."

"No you listen to me. Your job is to serve the worker, not dictate to them."

"Gareth I'm not rejecting you. You have my number. I just think the UFCW would be a better fit."

"Roxanne I need your help."

"I am helping." Click.

Well so much for Cupe 30. phone the UFCW and keep getting the worker together.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

the deal

OK so here are the rules and this is the plan. I told you this was the tedious part, but here we go... In Alberta, a tough place for unions the following must happen for unionization:

1. 40% of the employees* must sign a petition stating they want to vote on the possibility of uniting to negotiate the terms of their employment.
2. 50% of the employees* who do vote must vote in favour of a union

So to simplify first you must sign a petition, and if 40% sign then there is a vote to decide if the union will represent the employees in the collective bargaining process.

*an employee is some one who has worked thirty days before or thirty days after the petition is handed into the labour board.

So back at the Shaw a hundred workers keep the place functional and for larger functions up to another 150 employees can be brought in. By department the number break down as follows:

dishwashers and cleaners 30
kitchen staff 20
house keeping 12
maintenance 6
events and service 30
banquets 150
bartenders 20

SO my plan was to find a key person in each department and have them sign up their crews. I would take of dishwashers and cleaners, Philomena would handle the kitchen, Dawn would take care of the housekeeping, maintenance was easy, Charles was confident with E&S and Henry would take care of the bars.

that left banquets and due to their size i divided them up again...

sympathetic righteous white
east Indians

the total number of employees was around 275, i went high to be safe, we needed 40%, Charles said 140.

The higher the better.


So i was unclear and desperately wanting to win this game i needed to know the rules so i went to the government.

the union people have been a disappointment
they are like managers of any large corporation
more concerned with their perks and personal agendas
than actually creating

and though i asked often and loud for the pertinent rules
the answers were vague and contradictory

so skipping the messenger i went to the labour board to fins out the rules for this particular game. I phoned and made an appointment for 9 am, but on the day of the meeting i slept in due to too much drink the night before...

i showed up at 1 and though my tardiness was noted i was welcomed into the office of Lillian Helton with much hospitality...she had made copies of the act and walked me through the relevant sections.

by the end of the meeting i was well acquainted with:

appropriate bargaining units
eligible and ineligible employees
and all the significant numbers

I thanked her for her kindness and knowledge. i was surprised by her kindness and knowledge. I was surprised by her professionalism and objectivity...maybe the government is my friend..maybe not but after our meeting i was able to formulate a simple plan; now all i needed to do was bring the union onside and execute...

Thursday, 23 August 2007

total number of eligible employees

Gabe and I set about our task
he gets a list of people
who are in events and services
and gives it to me in the tunnel

i take the kitchen employees
off a bulletin board and take a copy
of dish washing/ stewarding out of the office

dawn brings in banquets and housekeeping
maintenance is self explanatory


This section covers the technical and practical aspects of forming a union. I find it boring but necessary information so here we go...

The first union i contacted through the yellow pages was CUPE 30. They represent city workers and since the Shaw is owned by the city and run by Economic Development Edmonton i thought it would be a natural fit. Wrong.

So i make the call and speak with a guy called Nigel, he laughs and says, "So you want to organize."

I respond in the affirmative and he gives me the name of an organizing rep who is out of town attending a conference. Well after much effort for me I finally get in touch with her and we agree to meet at Smitty's. She shows up and looks like a realtor dressed in fishnet stockings and a Gucci bag. She gives little in information and I am unconvinced of her passion. I agree to bring more people to the next meeting and we part.

At the next meeting i bring Gabe and he tells her of the pain but she is still non-committal. She explains the rules unclearly, buys coffee and tells us to get a total number of employees.

I am getting colder.

bring it in

i walk out of my apartment
down a hall singed by fire
descend stairs
and enter the outdoors

i walk a cross a field
that is for sale and
probably zoned for condos
pass a store where
I buy cigarettes
and the like, dip down
a side street say hello
to a local hooker

turn south into an alley, cross a main road, walk behind the Sally Ann, hit Canada place and cross jasper. i look at the high rises, the trees, the colors on the river and like a miracle the doors open at my mere presence.

A floating stair carries me down and i walk past a wall of TVs
past security watching people who should be watching them
catch another floating stair, cut through hall A over the loading dock

barge into the shipper receiver office and say,
"Brother I am forming a union."

Gabe is short, black and under paid. He smiles and yells/speaks
"Now you're talking."

I explain we'll collect union dues and get ourselves rich.
He punches my fist while all the while looking disbelieving

I go underground and change into my white uniform
and start thinking about cleaning the kitchen
two thousand feet of stainless steel

before I know it

my yellow bucket is full of pink water
and the pot washer is roaring.

Monday, 20 August 2007


is in her sixties
she is under five feet
and from Sri Lanka
her english is broken
and when she says no
she nods her head yes
and vice versa

she was recieving $6 hour
the rest of us were getting $6.25

I told melvyn
and he told robyn
melvyn said the problem
would be fixed shortly

evelyn went to sri lanka
to see her daughter
when she returned
we talked about her trip
and her daughter

then she showed me a pay stub
still $6, so I complain but again
nothing is done

day after day
evelyn shows me her paystub
i try not to care
but i am weak man

so i promise evelyn she'll get her quarters back
and her wage will be brought up to current levels

she looks into my eyes,
shakes her head and says


Tuesday, 14 August 2007

ethnic diversity

the rain hits the window leaving a long sparkle
the trees are orange and the songs are sung by children
a rock is worth money and money is worth a rock

the fun houses beckon
the jails are full
drugs are prevalent
at universities
at the olympics

men speak of sex

a voice is heard

"hey nigger"

Monday, 13 August 2007

Notes from the edmonton cultural center

I can't remember where i found these notes, but it was well after the actual event. I was convinced there was some sort of conspiracy theory going on at the Shaw and thank god i never got into all of that...needless to say these sentiments though well intentioned did not reflect the culture of the Shaw while I was they are...

A deliberate attempt to merge the social and ethnic needs of this community in an imaginative improvement of its urban environment. They have come from the four corners of the world and have brought their cultural heritage with them. The city has left them behind in it's growth..

From Mayor Harelip to Hon. B.J. Danson dated May 1, 1975 in a submission to the federal government for funding the Edmonton Culture and Convention Center.

Sunday, 12 August 2007


single, white and spends most of his time drinking
when he's not cleaning floors at the shaw
the ladies in the dishroom sneak him food
as it is apparent he is hungry

his boss is a black man named Asari

so one lunch all the food was eaten and there was none left over for the afternoon kitchen crew
this is not unusual. The kitchen has two large walkin coolers and if you can't find food ..well...your stupid

Asari had eaten a large lunch that day
and my boss robin was upset

in conversation with Bill, Robin called Asari a greedy nigger
Bill told Asari and he reported the incident to the general manager
Bills' word prevailed and robin was found guilty

Asari said an apology was adequate
but the shaw suspended Robin for five days with pay

when robin had done his time he told people he would get Bill fired
and he would get that black bastard

innapproprate behaviour thought I
especially for a government organization.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

the unlucky

during a break
an old kitchen cleaner
tells me how mad
he is at his boos
and his life

his anger is plain and evident
but he takes it
low paying erratic hours
tedious ungrateful work

living alone
his daughter

his only luck.

Friday, 10 August 2007

a nine to fiver

Melvyn was my immeadiate supervisor and has been on the job since he was 34. He has worked as a cook and now was chief steward. He knows the job and the building well. When i started he had a salary and a pension. At Christmas time he had a nervous breakdown due to his boss trying to put a new guy into his position. He was institutionalized and upon his release he came to visit in his slippers. He announced he was a shaman and gave me an anti psychotic pill and we went to the casino. I lost twenty dollars and the table i was playing at kept jumping.

Back at the Shaw he was demoted, paid hourly and his pension cut off. He's fifty years old and the time and his job have sapped him of any vitality he might have had.

one fall night he came over to play cards and drink coffee. Mona and I smoked a joint and he wondered out loud about Mona's' dark hole and I wondered out loud about forming a union.
Melvyn smiled good naturedly and told me two reasons why it couldn't be general apathy and two the high number of transient workers.

I told Melvyn i didn't like people and asked him to leave. i went to bed and held Mona tight through a heavy sleep.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

At the shaw

i sit with two of three bosses
in a small office away from the noise
they want to know why I'm keepin a
young Indian chick up through the night


or maybe as simple as washing five hundred dinner plates
and i act as they expect with false bravado
the head guy smiles, "ask her a question for me."


"when is she having the operation to remove the mattress form her back?"

and i go cold, "No you ask her."

but he won't and his stupid red face sears

enough is enough

originally i wrote:

"I'll rock his world
with an explosion
noticed by a few
that matter."

But let's omit that part.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007


and my hand
explodes in dream
shattering loose fingers

blood streaking yellow walls

it's ok
it's ok

a young native woman screams

i stumble to light

oh my god
oh my hand

Sunday, 5 August 2007

sex in the stars

i was outside, hungry wet, losing weight, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, reading and writing every where, spending a dollar or two a day, living in a park and the Shaw was a big warm building no one was using.

Mona knew where the performers dressing room was, upstairs beside hall A. We went and the door was open. There were soft couches and mirrors everywhere. A shower and pushing and pulling Mona into crazy positions and she was reluctant and I was an animal, digging and probing.

She screamed that's my asshole and i didn't care. She soothed me with words, "if that's what you want you can have it." And she guided me in as she stood pushing into thinness, her eyes dark love, mine blue wild, her face scrunched and mine screaming into a warmth that knew no coldness, serene and dangerous, flashes shooting

the room slowed and the walls forgot was as if we were never there and yet we were there...her ragged and holding, me like wise but not..doing what needed to be done...

Doubt never entered then but later in the tent when she showed me the rip in her asshole i thought badly...though it was only unusual in terms of being in the stars dressing room.

i remember the shower hot on my back and the towels we used were rags...

our screams of rage were every bodies.

sex in the stars

Saturday, 4 August 2007


i am near the end of my shift
washing the floor with an electric machine
a woman appears in a bright pink top
with no back and says, "we need to talk."

"you can't leave
finally my life
feels right with

-but i bought my ticket-

"i don't care, I'll rip it up"

we go to the loading dock
to have a smoke, she kneels
between my legs

"i'll do anything just stay."


she slaps my face
"I hate you."


I smoke a joint
pry her legs open
feel for wetness

she cries and cries

I give her a magic word
she will not use
we do not sleep

she goes to work
and i follow

looking for a new residence
in the woods
in the heart
of the city.

Friday, 3 August 2007

The Life (part 2)

she ended
in menz can
doing crack
with another

i walked home
shaken and sad

she called later
from another bar
and yes I told her
we're through

she asked for money
i said no and
she hung up

i dreamt of her

a new tattoo
a summer dress
deep scratches
chest and back

through and through

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

What's the point

Thinking of guns
my mouth, the trigger
the pull the jerk

and the silence

as i sit exhausted
with a bummed smoke
staring at milk cartons
and dirty floors

the boss asks, "Are you tired?"
as i pace myself to ensure
the dirty dishes last eight hours

the Chinese ladies
whisper in conspiracy
and motion slowly

my girl, long lines under eyes
stares blankly wiping queen maries
with yellow towels

i stand pushing dishes
into a long silver machine

the boss flits about.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Lana and Hong

Lana and Hong are from mainland china and inseparable in the dish room. They were both raised in an old world. Lana is older than Hong and tells her what to do. Hong doesn't like it but she is younger and must listen.

They have perfected the art of smuggling food destined for the garbage out of the Shaw. I would watch them work and soon they were hiding food for me.

When they heard Mona and I were living together they held a wedding ceremony clinking their glasses and making much noise..the sous chef was doing paper work and told us all to be quiet.

I laughed and kissed Mona anyways.

The next day they gave us a king sized comforter and a red envelope with a $100. The comforter we still have but the money i spent on beer.

Monday, 30 July 2007

just the facts

Mona was a twenty five year old Cree, with grade nine education, on her won since 14, still legally married and a tendency to binge on cocaine. She has a beautiful laugh and a soft solid body that offers consolation in ways my mind cannot fathom. At times she acts like a teenager, lying about her age, where's she been or what she's doing. She has spent a lot of time on the street and has developed a 1980's home girl attitude(what's up?-the reverse handshake-yo sister etc.).

I love her, she says she loves me. We live together and both work at the Shaw. One morning I say I'm going to form a union at the conference center." She rolls her eyes and looks at me like the idiot I am. I am bewildered and mumble, "Well I've got to do something this winter."

The Life

I spend eleven hours
cleaning the kitchen
that's preparing 3800

the work is constant
but not hard

I get home at 4am
watch the sports
(the Knicks are down two
Colorado just tied it up)

go to bed
and finger
Mona from
then make
love silently

set the alarm
for 11am
watch the sun
and begin
to write...

Sunday, 29 July 2007

At some Point i met Mona at the shaw. Since our relationship was critical to my existence during the unionization process i've decided to share these poems of an addict addicted to an addict, which i find beautiful and poignant. Let's call them love work poems.

Dwiddle Dee Dumb

she said look and turned to twiddle the neck of a turkey
the touching was sexual, playful and he grinned
he took a step back and watched this cream colored child laugh
surrounded by 1000 peoples leftovers, smelly garbage cans
and noticed the joy that radiated from her gleaming eye

As theysay; it's a long way to kansas
but at least now he had reason to make it
through the day and maybe through the night

he brushed the leftover potatoes into a grey can
stacked the plates, dumped the utensils into a blue tray
and made way for the next hundred plates

trapped behind steel girders, dressed in white
brown shoes ruined by dank was good to feel



The stars hang
in all the right places
as i think of a beautiful
young cree who has
shared my bed
two of the last three

and we lay
on a bare mattress
radiator hissing
fireplace black

and she drank me
as horns blasted skull
and rocks thrown

ripped chest

i shuddered
she smiled
and pulled me to
her embrace

i blushed and out my horns away.

Saturday, 28 July 2007


it is mundane
and monotonous
yet i thrive
in the peacefulness
of repetition

when I'm done
a machine sparkles
the floor is clean

and the Shaw
the annual
report says
loses money


i get free food
$465 bi monthly
a uniform
and if I put
my mind
to it:


Friday, 27 July 2007

The prime minister and I

Security was extra tight that night, the PM of C was coming for dinner. So when I entered the Shaw a guard asked for ID, I gave them a pay stub and they called downstairs before letting me in. I put on a white uniform and new for me black belt. I walked into the kitchen half stoned and joked with Lupe i had dressed up for the occasion and pointed to my black belt. Since nothing is funny there, this was and she laughed

I wiped the stainless steel counters around the sink and filled my bucket. The evening was spent cleaning pots, floors, tables and emptying garbage cans. At some point the Pm came through but we didn't talk.

The shift ended and I found myself in possession of two cases of wine the PM and his guests had not drunk. They had been left by the garbage cans. I hid the white and grabbed the red, left through the back door, walked down by the river and dropped the wine at home. Went back for the white was stopped by security, explained that i had forgotten my bag and they let me in...I took the white.

The wine was made in the Okanogan and Mona would tell people if it was good enough for the Prime Minister it's good enough for Gareth.

I hid one bottle down by the river with instructions on how to make a bomb and other things..when I came back after the winter the bottle had burst and the instructions were still in the bag...

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Chef Boy

Is a delightful man who has a childlike contempt for cooking. Like everyone else employed by the Shaw he is on the city payroll. Rumour has it he makes $120 grand a year. He gives the impression he's French but he's not. He was also the captain of the Canadian Culinary Team.

When the Chef invited one of the apprentice cooks to a competition in Europe he was naturally excited. The apprentice was six foot four and the chef called him Shorty. So Shorty got to go to Europe and some one paid, probably not the Chef.

Yes the Chef was well paid, didn't work many five day weeks and travelled for free...

on a personal note I cleaned the pots and had ample opportunity to sample his sauces...and oh yea...i cleaned his office and once a $14000 visa bill fell out which was itemized....

i wonder who paid...

Chef Boy Simon

Counting Cookies

I'd walk past the cooler where they kept the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and start counting. 1,2,3,...10 and no one came by. So I kept going to the busing station where i grabbed a sink wheels which was full of soup bowls. On mt way to the kitchen as i passed the cooler I started counting again and again no one came by. I dumped the sink and headed back to the busing station where i got a queen Mary full of glasses. Again as i passed the cooler i started counting and no one came by. The next time:

1...the door was open
2...i was through the cookie box
4...the lid was off
5...a cookie was in my mouth
6...a cookie was in my shirt pocket
7...the lid was back on
8...I was at the door
9...through the door
10...feeling a cookie in my mouth

and sneaking glances at the cookie in my tasted good...

Lupe and Brad

Lupe the cook said she had a present for me and brought some dirty pots.
I told her to keep her present. She said I was stupid.
I said you've been here a lot longer than me

Lupe didn't like that and offered
a 240 pounder, Brad, a 26er of JD
to beat me up

I didn't know if she was serious
I didn't know if Brad like JD

so i pretended not to hear
and spent the evening with
a bottle
in case he attacked.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Not In Praise of Co-Workers

One night Mona and I were at a Blues Bar on Whyte Avenue; it was my birthday or Monas'...and we were experiencing a rare night out, sitting at the back of the bar and drinking heavy. A cute girl in her late teens, early twenties, sat at a table next to us with a group of people who appeared to be students.

She had long sandy blond hair, big pale eyes, flawless skin and a pert full mouth. Her cloths were casual and expensive. Her movements were graceful and unrushed. There was no indication of pain or hardship. She was a beautiful unfucked flower. I recognized her from the conference center she worked in banquets.

When Mona was up she looked in my direction. I said "Hi" and she quickly turned. I was saddened and disappointed. We both worked at the Shaw and had shared the same food, served the same customers, came through the same doors and received our pay cheques for the city.

I regained my composure and assumed she didn't recognize me, as I wasn't wearing my white uniform. I caught her attention with a quick wave and like a kid eager to impress proclaimed, "I also work at the Shaw." She stared blankly. I blurted, "I'm a dishwasher."

Recognition flashed across her face, (perhaps now we could talk), she looked impressed, her eyes lit up, she licked her lips, color shot through her cheeks she smiled shyly....

"Oh your one of those people who walks around with shit...all over you."

Referring to the leftovers that were invariably spilled as we raced to make room for the banquet staff to put down their trays. I said nothing and she continued smiling, then looked away...that was it.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

in praise of coworkers

we are the rats
of the conference

we know the tunnels
we know the back doors
we know the sunny spots

when and where
to smoke

we know how to hide
we know how to steal

no one really likes us

a few old ladies
from the country
a retard and
a cripple

who know
what it's like.

An unintentional community

we encourage

side by side

in a hot humid
racist enviroment

repetitive dehumanization

they are my family.

Saturday, 21 July 2007


sorting at the back
of the industrial dishwasher
with the boss
a special needs worker
and his counsellor

i dump hot water
on the boss twice
the second time
I'm obvious

he screams and
throws a metal
pie holder at my head

I block it
with a grey
bus pan

so he slaps me

"now we're even."

I laugh and agree

the special needs guy stares
and his counsellor looks away.


The white dinner plates were placed in a hot room the night before a major function.

That evening on a signal from the boss, I would grab yellow rags, walk rapidly to the hot room, and pull a rack of five hundred plates, stacked in twenties, hundred per shelf out of the hot room and head back to the kitchen.

The wheels didn't always turn so well on those racks.

They pretended there was a big rush for the plates but there wasn't so i used this excuse to go really fast down the long hall and scare the banquet staff. I never hit anyone.

The reason I mention this is the hot room was like a dry sauna.

Friday, 20 July 2007

$6.25 an hour

The dishwasher was twenty feet long and new cost a quarter million dollars. One person would stand at the front of the machine loading dirty dishes and two would stand at the back unloading and sorting. (the work was hot, wet, and repetitive.)

Two Chinese ladies Lana and Hong ran the room during quiet times and for large functions a number of misfits were called in. I was one of the misfits and after a few months i would walk around like the boss telling people what to do and providing assistance.

The shift ran from four til half midnight. The food was prepared over a number of days and on the day of the meal the dishwashers would stand at an assembly line placing carrots, potatoes, chicken or whatever the masses were eating onto plates. At the end of the line one of us would put a steel covers over the cooked meal; stack them five high and place them into warming ovens called shams.

We would then set up portable busing stations where the banquet staff would dump their trays full of dirty dishes. We would wipe the leftovers into grey garbage cans, rack the glasses, stack the plates and dump the cutlery. (the pace was frantic and the task unappreciated)

After clearing the tables the banquet staff would eat as we transported the dishes back to the dish room. Then we were allowed to eat. The chicken a fan favourite was rubbery after five hours in a warming oven but hungry we were.

After our meal the smokers would go to the loading dock where we would tease the second in charge and at the end of lunch he would cajole us back to work. Being coordinated and of good endurance, I stood at the front of the machine methodically pushing plates, pots, soup bowls, you name it, through the machine.

At midnight we would shut down the machines, drain and spray them, clean the floors and a few minutes before close I'd throw a jean jacket over my white uniform and walk the 12 blocks down 97th street, home.

canada eh?

"i'm on a beer tour"
i tell the cop

He looks at
holey clothes
beard and wild hair

"'You're what?"

"I'm on a beer tour."

"Well what are you doing here?"

I'm not sure if he means
the alley or Edmonton

"Do you have ID?"

"No i went to the store
for cigarettes. I live
over there"

to a brick building

"some one pulled a gun
and the description fits you."


"Do you mind if I search you?"


He pats me down
pauses at my cigarettes

"Those also kill
you know."

I smile.

He finds nothing
and lets me go.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The Beginning

After an extended period of much noise and excitement i departed Vancouver and headed out on the Extra Old Stock Tour. Basically i was going to travel across Canada and stop in the cities listed on my favourite beer and do something easy and become a writer.

so after an uneventful ride I arrived in Edmonton with three hundred dollars, two bags of cloths, a few books and an old computer. I found lodging at the downtown Y in a shared room. My roommates were a conman who was just out of jail and the other was a schizo. The conman worked at bank fraud and the schizo spent time washing dishes at the Edmonton conference center.

By day three the conman owed my thirty dollars and the schizo agreed to help me find employment. That afternoon the schizo and I left the Y and walked through grassy Churchill Square, into a playhouse, down escalators, long halls finally arriving in the back corner of some strange hole where a dishwasher is roaring.

An old man with little hair and glasses is stacking small plates onto a plastic rolling rack. The schizo greets him civilly and the old man starts yelling, "I don't know. I don't know." The schizo says something else and the old man says, "OK get him a uniform." and passes over some keys.

We walk down a hall lined with silver machines, turn left before swinging doors, descend cement stairs, enter wall to wall glasses, past washrooms and fumbling with the key and we were in. I grabbed a white uniform, quickly changed and went back up.

I spent the evening stacking plates, sorting cutlery, racking glasses, seeing Chinese ladies, native women, feeling water on my hands and feeling sure something this big would pay and there would be no trouble. The night ended easily and I was fifty dollars richer. I went back to the Y and in the morning was evicted.

I took residence at a shelter for the homeless and phoned two old friends for money. With the proceeds i got a room on 97Th Street, with a gas fireplace, high ceilings and a bathroom down the hall.

Over the next few months I worked weekends at the Shaw and during the week as a telemarketer selling newspapers. The rent was $275, the phone $35, I got free food from the Shaw and between my two jobs I was netting close to $1200.

Plenty leftover for the essentials: beer, weed and time to write.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

shadow 123

watched a video and learned the 123 of shadow play...what i don't like or like in others is moi...simplified...and since this is shadow (repressed or disassociated parts of selves) uncovering discovering can be frightening...

To uncover the shadow write in first person about who/what is causing the emotional disturbance...good or bad...

ex) When John brags about his sexual conquests I feel angry etc.

Next dialogue in second person with the object of your discomfort.

Me: Hey John when you talk about women this way i get mad.
John: Hey I'm only having a little is good emotional friction.
Me: Are you sure I thought sex was sacred etc.

Thirdly you become the first person of the who/what of your discomfort.

John: That guy sure gets uptight when you talk about sex. I don't mean no harm and I've never hurt any of the women I've been with. In fact I'm friends with most of them and everyone knows a good blow job is sacred etc.etc.

So one, describe in first person the situation, two discuss the situation with the person and three speak in the first person perspective of the person who is causing the emotional charge. This can be done for people, places, situations etc. anything or anybody who causes you an emotional charge...

And finally review for insights and any action you can take...ex) I am misogynist and don't have to take sex so seriously.

I believe the more detail you include the more beneficial this work will be...and I'm guessing it'll take a while as the shadow has been in the shade for quite some time

This video is from the integral life kit and is called the 123 process...check out the integral institute if your interested...

any ways on to the book: poems for the Shaw:

page two

Two quotes

cheerfully order him to be stupid
gnaw tender ears with biting truth

here we go

well look who's hit the big time...i me we written work to the world...wonder is going on...advancement gives cheer...i'm blogging and uploading cool...forty one years old...spent twenties trying to make money .. thirties trying not now fourth decade and not doing either..a new path but it's lost in the fog././.so burn ...burn burn burn ...going slow and letting the bright hot sun work...reading ken wilburs ...mind, spirit, body and to excersise with intention, strenghtened spiritual practice, eating for all sentient beings and doing shadow work...a sub personality says "all absurd"... stale and dry... hedonistic pleasures are better....(make a lot of'll see...become famous... you'll see)...harbour urges to be wanted and loved on a grand scale... I am immature and childish...and low on the scale of consciousness..beam me up keeny

this is a story about a labour movement i spearheaded...the title

poems for the shaw,

you see

one must look at the spiritual componenet of any struggle
titles money and possessions are poor materialistic
solutions to deeper issues

so i searched for the support souls at the shaw
those who had bled burned sweated fucked stole and got high

and there was only
glorious me

well i came,
we worked and we conquered

a thank you to Ramona,

Gabe, Dawn,
and all the others who had the courage to walk outside

to the rest

the cowards
the hypocrites
the spineless
the men without balls
the ass kissers and sluts
I wish you no hope
no forgiveness
and no luck

only an abyss
where you are alone
and dead with yourself

now all of y0u
fuck off
and go back to work
coffees over

buy the book