Sherwood now shreds

Firemen hose Sherwood cinders

“I saw smoke coming out of the building at 9:30 am”, stated a local merchant. Seems this started early in the morning. Now, in late afternoon, all that remains of the Sherwood Forest Inn in Quinte West is shreds.

Belleville and Quinte West firefighters converged on downtown Quinte West under the supervision of Constable Simpson, OPP, to stem what could have been a catastrophic event, taking many buildings hostage. Catastrophy averted.

This was the local establishment that featured “ladies of the evening”, nude dancing and a number of derisive descriptives that I will withhold for the moment.

“Good riddance”, a local said. Point taken. I expect we will hear and read a full-range of emotions regarding the burning of the Sherwood.

The good news is no one has been injured. The two firefighters rumoured to have been in danger, were brought to safety.

Formerly named the Quinte Hotel in its better days, it was frequented by the illustrious Al Purdy, arguably Canada’s foremost poet. Here is his poem featuring the Quinte Hotel:

At The Quinte Hotel

NOTE: Not for the faint-hearted AND I apologize in advance for the expletives.

History in a rubble

Final hours of the extinguishing

I am drinking
I am drinking yellow flowers
in underground sunlight
and you can see that I am a sensitive man
and I notice that the bartender is a sensitive man

so I tell him the beer he draws
is half fart and half horse piss
and all wonderful yellow flowers
But the bartender is not quite
so sensitive as I supposed he was
the way he looks at me now
and does not appreciate my exquisite analogy
Over in one corner two guys
are quietly making love
in the brief prelude to infinity
Opposite them a peculiar fight
enables the drinkers to lay aside
their comic books and watch with interest
while I watch with interest
a wiry little man slugs another guy
then tracks him bleeding into the toilet
and slugs him to the floor again
with ugly red flowers on the tile
three minutes later he roosters over
to the table where his drunk friend sits
with another friend and slugs both
of em ass-over-electric-kettle
so I have to walk around
on my way for a piss
Now I am a sensitive man
so I say to him mildly as hell
“You shouldn’ta knocked over that good beer
with them beautiful flowers in it”
So he says “Come on”
So I Come On
like a rabbit with weak kidneys I guess
like a yellow streak charging
on flower power I suppose
& knock the shit outa him & sit on him
(he is just a little guy)
and say reprovingly
“Violence will get you nowhere this time chum
Now you take me
I am a sensitive man
and would you believe I write poems?”
But I could see the doubt in his upside down face
in fact in all the faces
“What kind of poems?”
“Flower poems”
“So tell us a poem”
I got off the little guy but reluctantly
for he was comfortable
and told them this poem
They crowded around me with tears
in their eyes and wrung my hands feelingly
for my pockets for
it was a heart-warming moment for literature
and moved by the demonstrable effect
of great Art and the brotherhood of people I remarked
“-the poem oughta be worth some beer”
It was a mistake in terminology
for silence came
and it was brought home to me in the tavern
that poems will not really buy beer or flowers
or a goddam thing
and I was sad
for I am a sensitive man
– From his book “Poems For All The Annettes”

Earlier in the day PHOTO by Karen Crawford

View from the East PHOTO by Karen Crawford