A stroll down Princess Street: haibun

I live 30 minutes west of a small city of 150,000 people. Walking down the main drag, called “Princess Street”, I remember my previous life in Toronto, my home for over 30 years.

It is early twilight on a November afternoon. I am in town to take a ‘haiku stroll’ for this week’s Sense of Place writing event. The air is biting cold. Not fully prepared, I promise myself to wear warmer gloves and a scarf next time.

In the descending dusk I feel caught in a void between the warmth of daylight and the glitter of night lighting. I beg the street lamps to turn on. After a few blocks I sigh with relief as they do, but there is still a lackluster feel to this outing. Is it me or the people around me?

Cold dusk

eyes barely lift

along the sidewalk

In the summer, baskets of flowers liven up the street but today the only signs of vegetation are barren trees.


lone sapling

by the curb

This small city is not spared from homelessness, a worse predicament here than in a larger city with more services, I imagine. I marvel at how people are panhandling with no blankets or chairs.

hands clench

seated on frozen cement

by her cardboard sign

My walk is a short “U” down towards the lake and up again to my target, a warm coffee shop.


©️2018 Ontheland

15 thoughts on “A stroll down Princess Street: haibun

  1. Beautifully written sentiment in your haibun Janice. Homelessness, so much of it here too. In the cold weather I wonder how they survive. I go out all bundled up to the point where I can hardly move, yet they sit on “cold cement” and sleep in carboard boxes or the like. Such is life around us. 😢

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes there was a bleak mix of feelings that day. I went for a second Princess street stroll today…a slightly different mix but there were still people panhandling on every block for a stretch. I’ll want to take some loose change next time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know. I saw people sleeping on the gratings in Toronto outside the Royal York Hotel (1993). I was at a conference. Felt terrible. I have written on this. Madrid also. And Oaxaca.Now in |Freddy, we are beginning to see the same thing. Horrible.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s very evocative. I really got a sense of place from it. Your haiku really add to the piece and give it an immediacy. I pity the homeless people in the cold Canadian winter – what a terrible way to live.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Suzanne. In Toronto some stay outside all night though workers circulate trying to invite people inside and handing out warm clothes and sleeping bags. No getting around it though…it shouldn’t be happening.

      Liked by 1 person

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