Everyone Rides the Bus in a City of Losers

Everyone Rides the Bus in a City of Losers

by Jason Freure


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In the words of Margaret Thatcher, “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.” Everyone Rides the Bus in a City of Losers is about wandering Montreal’s streets, with an eye on the storefronts and alley cats, and one foot already in the nearest dive bar. From a series of poems about every station on the Metro to music venues long shut down, it’s sometimes fantastical, nostalgic, funny, and even joyful — a sucker for landmarks, always looking out for glimpses of the Farine Five Roses sign, the Jacques Cartier Bridge, the cross on Mont-Royal, and anything still neon.

Montreal’s rich literary tradition is celebrated: A.M. Klein, Leonard Cohen, Heather O’Neill, Gail Scott, Richard Suicide, and Gaston Miron all make their way into the poems. The book also ventures from the hip hot spots of The Plateau and Mile End to Verdun, Côte-des-Neiges, NDG, St-Henri, Petite-Patrie, and Ahuntsic. A restless spirit propels the text further and further into new neighborhoods, but always returns downtown.

This is a book about those who’ve seen the city turn its back on them and leave them out in the cold. Who get lost in boroughs east and west. Who get lonely, garble their French, and never manage to find a seat at their favorite coffee shop. In Jason Freure’s psychogeography, everyone’s a flaneur. And everyone rides the bus.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781770414532
Publisher: ECW Press
Publication date: 09/25/2018
Pages: 120
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Jason Freure’s poems have appeared in publications like Vallum, Epiphany, and Show Thieves: An Anthology of Contemporary Montreal Poetry. He also writes essays about Montreal, which have been published in Canadian Notes and Queries and Carte Blanche. He is an editor at The Puritan. After years in Montreal, he now lives in Toronto.

Read an Excerpt

La Rockette

No, I will never be as cool as the guy from Les Deuxluxes,

even if I buy him shots and quote his covers,

even if he says to me, “Look, man, all you need is a good friperie.”

Will you never love me, Anna Frances Meyer?

But moustaches always made me think of arcade perverts

and my neighbours in Verdun.

After Nirvana played the Verdun Auditorium,

they found Courtney at Bar Côte St-Paul by the Cash’N’Loan.

When Jack White saved the Jack White Auditorium,

was it more Massey than Tony Wilson?

If she skips another shower, will the bartender at La Rockette

smell more like Durutti than raclette?

The guy from the band says that I should go.

But I won’t go. Not until I meet Anna Frances Meyer.

Not until last call lights up the walls

and she finds me in the bathroom stall writing,

“You just can’t run, you just can’t run from the funnel of love.”


The last place I went was Ultramar.

I walked my friends there and said,

“You can hail a cab at Ultramar,”

the Ultramar where I bought ketchup chips

and Coffee Crisps and one time even Ringolos.

Only the night attendant knew my love of Swedish Berries

and plastic-wrapped smoked meats.

Only the night attendant who blasted Appetite for Destruction

knew my sweetheart’s craze

for M&M’s and Pez dispensers.

I bid my friends adieu at Ultramar.

They claimed Verdun was the middle of nowhere.

It’s only the edge, I said to them.

Nowhere is somewhere west, out past the neon

5e Avenue on the New Verdun Diner.

My friends scrambled into taxis

shooting northward and eastward.

I bought a coffee at Ultramar.

I caught the night attendant air-guitaring.

I had to move by twelve o’clock.

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