Monday, May 25, 2009

“Street Food,” Cheryl Taylor

“Street food” is not what you think. Rather, I am talking about food offered to strangers on the street. Today, food was offered to me. That was a first. This is what happened: I was placing my groceries in the trunk of my car in the parking lot of the No Frills at Dixie Value Mall when a car drove up.

Inside were two Rubenesque ladies in their thirties. They were quite pleasant and explained they had been across the road at Burger King, had ordered too much for lunch, and now wanted to give away the remaining untouched Whopper.
Despite a bus stop right there full of people waiting for a city bus, no one would accept their offer. I explained I had already had my lunch but they were undeterred. They seemed so dismayed that no one would accept their offer that I decided to put them out of their misery and say ‘yes’. They would never know what I did with their burger but they could congratulate themselves on having done a good deed.

Believe this or not, I have never eaten a Whopper. I am a Quarter Pounder kind of gal myself. Was this going to be my first Whopper? Not a chance. I am too suspicious by nature to entertain the idea for more than the briefest of seconds.

My plan was to drive along Lakeshore Boulevard and assess pedestrians for need. But not seeing anyone who met my criteria, I went home. My sweetie wouldn’t touch it and if it was not safe enough for us then I wasn’t going to risk my dogs.

The entire episode started me thinking of the food I have offered to the homeless and hungry of the world. Years ago, my sister and I vacationed in San Francisco. We took a doggie bag from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and were on our way back to the hotel when a homeless person asked us for money for food.

I don’t know your opinion on the subject but, having discussed it with a former nun, I have decided to not give cash but food. I offered him the doggie bag. He was so appreciative! Baked potato and filet mignon, who wouldn’t? On the same vacation, we gave a take home bag of calamari to a man who said he hadn’t had any for years. He, too, was thrilled.
I had thought I was on to something but things were different back in Toronto. The first people who asked me for money were met with offers of whatever food was available. For example, once it was a hotdog from a nearby stand, but he turned down due to dietary concerns. I ask you: would a starving person in a third world country say no to anything in the food category?

My favourite story happened early one Saturday morning in Bloor West Village. I was crossing at the light at Runnymede and coming towards me was a really scruffy looking character. My first impression was he was someone who had had a long love affair with alcoholic beverages. He made me nervous. As we approached each other he said, in the quietest, sweetest, voice: “Please ma’am, I’m awfully hungry. Can I have some money for some food?”

As I mentioned above, I do not give money. I give food. Thinking quickly, I remembered the muffin I had in my purse. I pulled it out and said, “Please, enjoy this muffin.”
In a flash, all his sweetness disappeared. "Fuck off,” he replied.
I could not have been more stunned.
I later read that the homeless of Toronto get more than their fill of donuts and muffins in the shelters. Maybe he was muffined out. But again, I ask you, would the starving people of this world have rejected my offer so vehemently?

In view of my reluctance to accept food from a complete stranger today, I wonder how brave panhndlers must be. But maybe it has nothing to do with bravery when one has a stomach that could not be emptier. May the fates be kind to all in this world who are in need.


Cheryl M. Taylor lives in Mississauga, Ontario with her sweetie and their two Havanese puppies. She attended Brian's "Welcome to Creative Writing Class" in Oakville, had lots of fun, and wrote some pretty good stuff, too. She's previously published stories in The Daylily Journal. This is her first piece for Quick Brown Fox.

For information about upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

She's the type, Brody McVittie

She’s the type who tells you she doesn’t like sad songs,
right before she tells you it’s over

by Brody McVittie

She’s the kind
who’s really just not.

She’ll give you the eyes that say

before pushing her lips to say
go away.

And she’ll turn her head
just a little to the left;
and the look, you think, is just right
and you wonder where to take her next
and she’s waiting for you to take her home
so she can tell you goodnight.

So you move closer
because it’s time and you’ve put in the
and she tells you it will take time
and much more
before the time you move your lips against her lips
when she moves her lips
and not against yours,
moves her lips to tell you
over dinner you’re paying for
that it will take dinners
and many many more.

She’s every sad song
on the radio on the way home;
and the curves in the road
have you picturing hers
the way you will tonight

Brody McVittie is a struggling writer out of London, Ontario. He’s authored two full-length novels, Lion & Lamb and Writing In and Of Color, both of which are currently in the revision process. His relationship advice – which he’s grossly unqualified to dispense – can be found on
He also writes for HEART Business Journal for Women, LifeStyle Ontario, and Daytripping magazines.

“Please stop by my blog at Any and all feedback is appreciated.” - Brody

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

On finally finding my lover, Alex Strachan

Ever since we first met I want you to know I have never stopped loving you. In that earliest dawn of blurry adoration, your softness of touch brushed against the inner self, leaving a fingerprint on our soul. Your physical beauty, your sublime graces, your great strengths were so often lost on the lusts for our new beginning. And later, in our youthful vigour, when they caught my rare attention, they seemed as if fish on the surface of a sea, noticed for but a blink of the eye, before they dive back into the great unplumbed deeps. Then and for many more years, I simply took you and all of life as infinitely invulnerable.

Not until we had formed a kinship so radical in its physical and intellectual sense of selflessness, did I began to realize how much the ‘me’ in me had become inseparable from the ‘you’ in you. These two selves, so often entirely independent in our youth, the thoughts of one and the actions of the other, have over the decades become a welded oneness. So, that as life now inexorably slips between our fingers, the sense of being begins to lose its diluted feel. It becomes thicker, more viscous, like a rich sauce that is melded together from its many parts. I have begun to taste that change in our relationship that is, how shall I say? - more munificent than what we had in that time gone by.

Although the form is not quite as it was; the damaged limbs, the scars, the waning vitality, all those medals of a life well lived; it seems the veneer of our youth and beauty was only that, a veneer, which when stripped away has exposed a framework of substance, one I had never even vaguely been aware existed, beneath our outer selves.

Like the skeleton of some great sailing ship, that has stood the wrath of heaven induced tempests, forging in it somehow a wisdom for a life of voyaging. So we have become forged with much the same wisdom by our own time of voyaging together.

What I find my darling, is that as the sands of time have whittled away at our edifice and softened its edges, they have exposed a new me and a new you. A deeper layer once uncovered has allowed us to love one another with a passion that had no such coexistence in our previous journeys. Perhaps it is because the miles we are now travelling are no longer limitless but are, of a more finite nature. As each day passes, the essence of all that time out of mind spent in each other’s company now distils into a liquor profoundly more intoxicating than any that has come before. Or perhaps, it is fragments of brain dust that have collected in the corners and been puzzled together over ten thousand nights into dreams we can now feel, touch and smell. Is this our reality finally; a new being, birthed to an old soul and body?

Hark my angel, 'tis the season of renewal and we both feel it in the air. Our step is jaunty and an ineffable energy of mind fills us with new promise. As the birds nest and new shoots make their radiant appearance, a passion for life envelopes about all things yet again. But no more so than for you my love, who embodies for me always that infinite and eternal springtime.

With all my soul, I love you.

Caledon March '09

Alex Strachan was born in England and emigrated to Canada as a teenager. He divides his time between the French River in the summers, where he designed and built a beautiful small resort, and a log cabin in Caledon north of Mississauga for the winters, where writing, reading and walking with his border collie are his main occupations. Alex founded, a non-profit organization that aims to get more women on the boards of large institutions by using women's consumer power.

Notes: The photo illustrating this piece was taken at Alex's lodge on the French River.

For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.