Attah was out late last night

There are
to waking up 

Check that. 

There are
to getting out 
of bed early. 

What I love most
about it
is the feeling
of being ahead
of the world. 

The quiet

The light slowly 
cat stretches
across lawns
and curbs.

At any random
in the week,
if asked,
I would probably 
complain that I
feel like I am
behind in something. 

Except between
the sheer
hours of
5 and 7,
ante meridiem.

In that 
2 hour span
streets are empty,
the gym is spacious,
my coffee never 
completely cools,
my mind is suspended
lightly between
now and then. 

My phone chirps. 

It’s 6:45 AM. 

Text says 
my order is ready,
so I check in. 

I tap
Spot #4,
blue car. 

A dude wanders
along the curb
on my left. 

He wears 
work gloves 
and an orange 
reflective vest. 

His garbage bucket
sways and heaves
paper cups
and pizza boxes
onto the asphalt. 

a stray 
piece of plastic
repeatedly with
industrial pincers
results in 

He looks around 
with a shade
of shame
then resorts 
to picking it up
with his hand. 

I smile. 

I vacuum like that. 

When repeated passes 
over stubborn strays 
of lint fail,
an earnest shove
with a toe
that the fuzzy
bugger ends up
in the 
vacuum’s maw. 

On my right,
Attah appears suddenly. 
She is out of breath. 

‘Sorry, sorry.’ She offers. 

I check my watch.
It's 6:55 AM.
Staff usually
don't start
until 7.

'Last night was 
a late night with
my family.'

The remaining
5 minutes
of me-time

She starts
then stops, 
then considers
her stack
of packed

Shaking her head,
she opens a crate.
'I am moving
a little slow

My watch
it's 7:00.

I want to 
tell her,
'S'ok' or
'No problem'.

Instead I say,
'I get it.'

And in doing
I merge
with a
single lane

that leads to
the off-ramp
from my morning

Tamar wasn’t having it

Was the first and last thing
he said to me.
I answered.
And as I began to offer more,
he turned and got to work.
My schedule was out of order.
Stopping mid week to 
pick up groceries
was humbling.
Time is never regained
once lost.
Sunday I was distracted.
I missed items.
So, here I am;
at a new store,
a Wednesday interloper,
with a new person.
I guess, I am the
new person too.
Tamar stopped suddenly
and looked out over
an adjacent field.
The parking lot butted up against 
a promised expansion 
of some store 
currently in the plaza.
It was puddled and 
strewn with broken things; 
fencing, floes of Styrofoam,
patches of grass,
shattered adolescent
tree trunks.
In the distance,
a hypertensive highway 
teemed with commuters.
The dull crashing of crates 
snapped my attention back 
to task.
Tamar was already in motion,
returning to the depot.
At the warehouse door
he threw one more
glance over his shoulder 
at the chaotic field,
shook his head, 
and entered.

Jen works on her days off

Tomorrow’s my day off. 
Well, my day off from here

She scans the green and red
crates with distracted ease.

I volunteer at CAMH on Mondays.
And Tuesdays I answer phones at
a respite home.

There are items missing from my
order. This has become familiar.
I will need to go into the store
to grab onions and apples.

She notices me noticing.
Onions and apples are missing.
She says.
Sorry for the inconvenience.

She hands me a blue card.
Bold script reads-

We value your business.
We apologize for the
inconvenience with your
order. Please use this
code to get $10 off your

next order.

I ask what school she attended.


She explains that the program
was good but it’s been a
challenge to find paid work.

She is bothered.
She dials up an edge of sarcasm.

Lot’s of volunteer options

A quiet space expands into
our conversation. Her sudden
story sharing has made a
transactional moment feel
like so much more.

We are caught in an eddy.

She breaks the silence.

Thanks for the chat.

I consider the service
rendered and bounce back
with a You’re welcome
that sounds more like
a question than an

how could they know?

The Amazing Race
goes to a 
commercial break,
two teams of
high fiving contestants
atop the Eiffel tower fade
to a McDonald's ad. 

'Remember Paris?' 
I toss across
the room at my wife.
'I do. Both visits.' 
'If only 
we would have ...' 
I wished.
'...gone up the tower.' 
She finished.

That seems
like another life,
before we
were us,
before marriage
and family
were even discussed. 

From then 
to now, somehow
other things
left undone
not gone
have become
'Eiffel towers'. 

Not exactly
maybe just
we weren’t ready
for yet. 

My kids,
our life,
sit on
the floor 
between us.
They suddenly
are curious.
'When did we
go to Paris?'

animate nation

Dear Empty Coffeecup
I see you

At the end of my arm cradled in my hand tilted questioningly

A sliver of last sip smirking at me

You are in queue behind other hand raisers

Snow Filleddriveway

Overloaded Dishwasher

Ripe Litterbox

Bag of Work in the front foyer

And the Mind that Thought it wise to bring school shit home over the March Break ‘just in case’

Also needs emptying.