A Sunday Poem: “Tornadoes”


In West Ottawa,

lives are disrupted by forces of nature.


Over a hundred homes damaged.


Affluent suburbs turned into rubble.

Chairs, tables, mattresses, stoves

scattered in the yards.

A fridge thrown, open,

food inside.


The community comes together.


Volunteers remove debris,

tarp roofs,

board smashed windows.


A firefighter

carries out personal items

salvaged from the ruins –

medications, makeup brushes, a set of lipsticks.


Ontario activates the province’s

Disaster Recovery Assistance program.


“We will spare no expense,”

promises Premier Ford.


The city council

waives fees for affected residents.


“So proud to be mayor of this city,”

says Jim Watson.


In another part of town,

lives are disrupted by a piece of paper.



in the Heron Gate community of

low-income immigrants

get eviction orders.


The landlord says

units are too costly to maintain.


Over a hundred townhomes

will be demolished,

replaced with resort-style condos.


Some have already left,

their homes quickly boarded up.

They are forced to settle for smaller apartments

at higher rental fees.

15-year-old Warda

has to share her room

with two of her siblings.


In the yards, scattered furniture –

chairs, tables, couches, mattresses.

A fridge is tossed, open,

food inside.


The mayor claims there is nothing he can do.


“These are provincial responsibilities,” he says.

“The owners have the right.”


(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)

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