Read “Ulster Arms” from the upcoming book ‘Just The Night Birds’
My first book of poetry Just The Night Birds is due to be released October 2nd, thank you to all those who have pre-ordered a copy so far. I wanted to share a piece with you titled “Ulster Arms”. This poem was inspired by one of the oldest and roughest bars in Toronto, The Ulster Arms, now boarded up. Located in the east end, I had gone here once during a photo shoot for the album, Traveling Grey (2010). Enjoyed a cheap bottle of beer and some selections on the jukebox. Photographer Drew Perkins and I were challenged to a game of pool by one of the regulars while Terry Stafford sang “Suspicion” in the background.
Ulster Arms Tavern and Hotel was hanging on To its watered down whiskey And poolhall heroes I remember playing The Shirelles On the cobwebbed jukebox The sound filled the moldy air And surprised the early afternoon patrons Woke em up actually!
I had a big smile on my face As I sipped on a bottle of Canada’s finest I could tell the bartender had a warm heart And liked how things hid in the darkness Away from his disappointment And hopefulness
Oldest bar in the city! Toughest bar in the city! Roughest bar in the city! Saddest bar in the city
I heard someone was cut down For spilling an ashtray on the 8 ball Cut throat business I figure most of the guys Have died in the walls of this joint The roof lets the tears in Everything is peeling and stealing And dealing out the cards Still I bought another bottle I wasn’t quite satisfied yet Maybe a game of darts with Reckless Jimmy Or the man in the corner asleep at the wheel A friend of mine took some photographs I don’t remember if he had a drink I just remember that clicking sound Every capture He promised he’d get the bartender’s good side In his office Said he get him a print Not sure if he ever did I hope so
I downed half of the second bottle Shook hands and waved goodbye Outside I looked back and saw something odd The windows were all boarded up Chain and padlock decorated the door Silence A moment of silence for the boys
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