H. E. Casson

The Spaces Between Them

From City of Toronto press releases about housed people in the time of Covid-19
the weather is nice
in our great city
quiet streets
are neighbourhood streets
creating more safe space
the volume of park-goers
that were publicly intoxicated
were a challenge
through education and awareness
remains the preferred method
of engagement
creating more safe space
a greater number of bylaw
and police officers
educating residents 
staying home
not seeing family and friends
has been incredibly difficult
creating more safe space 
make space
enough space
additional space
more space
plenty of space
shared space
green space 
public space 
From City of Toronto press releases about unhoused people in the time of Covid-19 
we are supporting
this vulnerable group
we will relocate them
activate sites to achieve
the highest possible public benefits
strict infection prevention
and control measures will be in place
one occupant was found deceased
a safe space to recover
outside of the shelter system 
the largest shelter system in Canada
clients who live outdoors
face a disproportionately high risk of harm
one occupant was found deceased 
housing will make
an important contribution
towards our socio-economic recovery
one occupant was found deceased
housing crisis
housing challenges
housing options
housing solutions
housing spectrum 
housing sectors
housing people 
 housing first 

From the Author: When Covid-19 came to Toronto, I over-consumed information in an attempt to keep my partner and I safer. We had been through a great deal together, including homelessness, and I wanted to make sure we could survive this too. In my reading I started to notice differences in the way our city talked about housed people in expensive neighbourhoods versus unhoused people living in encampments. In the former, they talked about humans, families, empathy, education. In the latter, they used less personal language, instead turning whole groups of people into abstract ideas, lessons, or cautionary tales. I selected words from a few dozen press releases and constructed these complimentary poems, one that spoke to my current experience and one to my previous experience.

H. E. Casson’s creative work spans poetry, science fiction, literary fiction, creative non-fiction, and essays. Their words have been shared by the League of Canadian Poets, Cast of Wonders, Room, and Taco Bell Quarterly—among others. Their voice acting appears in the Moonbase Theta Out, Disenchanted, and Seminar podcasts. When not creating, they can be found gardening poorly, singing energetically, or dancing even more energetically. Visit them at hecasson.com and as @hecasson on Twitter.