A few days ago Neal Lamontagne, a city planner and adjunct professor at UBC, posted a tweet with a student’s poetic reflections on downtown public space.

It struck me and it stuck with me. One of those things that hover around in your mind until it finds the right spot to settle in for a bit. Yesterday I had a nap, woke up and this is what I wrote. I tweeted it to Lamontagne but since I know screenshots aren’t accessible to everyone, I am also posting it here.
He called it a poem – I would say it’s a work in progress. So it may change. Be added to or subtracted – or maybe I’ll take it down and post something else. Who knows?

For now – these are some words about how I experience public and private space as a wheelchair user (and who is poor- not middle class or wealthy), in Vancouver.


I Want Blank                                    Space

Where I live


I like walls – as friends – but I’m not into sleeping with three of them at the same time – especially with a fourth hovering over watching us


Back Up

No really – back the fuck up

Every time you leave your washroom

that’s what I have to do


No room to turn around

They know the price of turning

No one bothered to calculate the cost of not


You know that asshole bully in the movie that dangles the kid’s backpack in the air – out of reach?

 I live with him

By design

I can’t reach 50 percent of the items in my home because someone decided cupboards and shelves go up not around


Squeezed into a corner

Five minutes washing dishes, 30 minutes of back pain

Twisting, reaching

Stretch– then up and over – dangle down in

Throw plate to side – hope it doesn’t break (I have no glasses anymore)


Go outside – lots of room out there

Good Idea – Exercise –     Socialize   –       Play  –   Hell, Make it a Day


Yes, I’m ready to order I’d like a heaping helping of blank         space please

sorry sir could you pull in your chair – sorry, but that’s not enough would you mind getting up – sorry but could we just slide the table a little to the right – fuck it, I’ll just take it to-go– I can’t do this twice.



One day I will glide along W I D E  sidewalks

And sometimes, for no particular reason at all I’ll just stop

Not a problem

Pass by or stop and say hi

Wouldn’t that be something?

To stop and look around


Lick rain drops as they fall from the sky


Get lost in your head



When did we ban daydreaming?


I want to know


Was it around the same time we started living in a nightmare?

Causal or correlation – who can say?


You know what I miss?

                                                                         Getting lost.


You need space to get lost


Some of the best moments happened when I didn’t know where the fuck I was going


Me                     a      nd                         e             r      i                                                               ng


No one meanders anymore.

No one even uses the word meander.






Right Turn!
Quick march!

Left Right Left Right….


Does everything have to be efficient?


Asking for a friend I might meet – if I could – if meandering weren’t prohibited


This friend – the one I don’t have yet – requires space.

Spontaneous eruptions of friendship and fun occupy a lot of space.

Change of pace – change of plans.

Fast Slow Open Late

Sorry, the Park Closes at 10 pm


Laughter needs air or it’s nothing but a failed gulp.

A smirk is nihilism

A belly laugh is optimism


Wow       Wonder                     Hmmm      Ponder

Takes time

Time needs                    space.

Blank             space is where you set sail

head off for adventures unknown


Find the breeze and                   fly


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