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Here is an excerpt from one of the walking poems about Vancouver, this one about the namesake of one of the few streets to be named after women.  The poetic form involves spacing phrases across the page to mark the rhythm of thought and voicing.  The line breaks may not appear correctly if you don't have a wide screen.

"Frances Street" © 2005 Meredith Quartermain

 

Frances Street –

 

how many have walked it?

 

boxed against coastal mountains

Loyale Automotive, Winner Sportswear, New Profession Collision

six blocks –

real-estate-man slash Land Commissioner

Forbes George Vernon’s

up to Queen Vicky’s drive

 

the columned porches and clapboard,

classic      1905

Sister Frances at St. Luke’s

torn down for Turbocharger Service Centre,

Pacific Plating Bumper Exchange & Custom Chroming

 

no person shall destroy desecrate deface

no person shall demolish a building or structure

the facade

            the unsolved eastern question

 

Lord Aberdeen, 4th Earl of,

needed a hell of a lot of men

for Russell and Palmerston’s war

            can’t have Russkis owning Bethlehem

 

maybe it’s just one army or another

we’re writing for the sky

            to read like fungus writes

            maps for us we think its blindness

 

diggers in Dunsmuir’s pits

            $1.20 a ton

            2700 pounds on his scales

or maybe a dollar if he thought coal was slumping

                        and he wasn’t gonna make his $8 a ton profit

$3.00 a day, if he didn’t cut you for rock

buy your powder from the Company

pay your own helper

no pay for bracing tunnels

            funny how Mine Inspectors never found

the Right Honourable Robert or the Right Honourable James

Dunsmuir

at fault             the Act – whose act?

said miners were responsible

for the gas at Wellington’s No. 6

                        she’d pop from sparks off the hammers

                        working on their bellies to breathe

it was miners, the Act said, made her blow –

            they brought out brothers cooked to crackling

it was miners

killed 11 in 1881, 65 in 1884, 23 in 1887,

150 in 1888, 75, then 55 in 1901

 

            soldiers of Master             Touch Auto Body

            Win Sun             Produce

            Club 21 Sportswear

marching on Frances Street

stone blocks, end to end, where the car tracks went

stitched in to cobbles

streetcars a bust in the 1890s

 

            time of the small pox

I wish you would send a tent of

some kind as some men was

sleeping in filthy cabins and

they are all burnt now they

have no place to sleep

Park Road Quarantine 1888

 

more yellow flags than dominion ones July 1, 1892

            house after house

            sent express wagons

            driver clanging his bell cleared a path

            to Coal Harbour                       Deadman’s Island

 

the standard as to quantity is still to be undertaken

if crowding is avoided  . . . we would be prepared

to permit a longer period (City Health Dept to Rooming House)

 

a large airy room, 60 degrees Fahrenheit

remove draperies, books, furniture

(George H. Fox, Practical Treatise on Smallpox)

cut hair and beard short

give purgative of calomel and soda

warm baths            sponge the face to cool fever

                        feed the patient gruel, eggs, broth, milk, jellies

            small pieces of ice

            on the raging lips tongue throat

                        in cases of delirium, clean the rectum 

                                                an enema of soap and water

            introduce four to six ounces milk and brandy

 

fifty-eight percent die

hemorrhagic form, always

                        the gut bleeds

            scrub the sick room with carbolic soap

                                                 solution: bichloride of mercury 1 to 500

bichloride of memory

fumigate with burning sulphur and formaldehyde gas

 

            Palmerston convulsing/ terrifying Europe

                        dangerous imperious monster, Queen Vicky said

for the glory of Ottoman power

                        squashing intrigues of Afghanistan

            trounced China at Chusan, bagged Hong Kong

            five hours in the House yelling

                        civis romanus sum

the arm of British government protects her subjects

            against injustice and wrong

the arms

wherever they are

 

Frances Street –

 

four miles of straw-sacks at Scutari

4000 soldiers lying in gore-stiff uniforms

packed into place for 1700             candles stuck

in empty beer bottles

open sewer under the floor

no water, no soap, no linen

no forks, no knives

            four hours to serve a putrid meal

for soap, bandages, food, 2000 in Barrack Hospital

                        die

 

Brilliant Doors & Co

Anglo-Canadian Automotive Supply

Foo Hoo Enterprises

 

diakonia from the verb diakonein to minister or serve

St. Luke xxii 27:  I am among you as he that serveth: diakonon

Romans xvi 1: Phebe our sister . . . a servant (diakonos)

            refuge to orphans, aged and sick

 

to the Right Honourable millionaire

for 75 miles of track,

two million acres (one quarter Vancouver island)

all mineral and timber rights

and 750,000 dollars

as per                                     the Settlement Act

 

miners living in two-room shacks

funny how settlers couldn’t get

lots under the Settlement Act

            till the track went in

and they had to pay Dunsmuir’s price

 

Dear Sir,

Thank you very much for the letter

and enclosed cheque I received

from you in response to my application

to the Mayor regarding the child

I wanted placed out.  We found a woman

willing to take it and so,

as you say,

the first month

is settled for.

            Yours very truly

            Frances

St. Luke’s Home May 6 1889

 

 


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