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The Shoppers Drug Mart Poems: Pop and Spray.

Photos and Poetry by Catherine Owen


Shopper’s Drug Mart on 118th avenue

His cart is so cornucopia’d, things ditch

onto the arrowed floor of Shoppers, the metal maw

stuffed (mostly) with stacks of pop, layers of bright plastic,


Women, he starts, and there is a shrinking in me from the beginning of time -

how will he now define, dismiss us, how will he,

like my father, make me feel I should have been a man, or perhaps

am one?

Women, he continues, what we do for them, and I disappear

as a witness, resist the imprecations, while

acknowledging the need to feel heroic in these men, who have lifted

so many bottles of Sprite, Coke, solely (it seems)

for the ladies in their lives.

Women, he finishes, we carry all their heavy stuff and I think

of the rape-abortion-loss-sorrows-births inside my gut,

squatting within my mouth that no man has hefted from the weighed

cart of my body, but ok -

you have schlepped these items of forgetfulness into the house

so I can drink, drink this false sweetness



In the year of the plague, a woman in Shoppers steals - something -

a minor perfume, a body spray - too pricy for her to purchase -

is caught and at the cash register told to give it back, to leave

it behind. Her mouth is husked in a mask and so when hate spouts out

it remains inside the small cave of cloth - doesn’t but seems to -

the words, You effing N…addressed to the security guard, who has been calm

& kind, reminding her she is wasting time and should just let it go, should relinquish

the tiny vial of beauty she can’t afford -You effing N…. she yells, spits, but

the rage is muffled by the soft armor across her mouth, the words huddle hard against

her lips, the fabric now visibly damp - is she feeling her anger ricochet back down

her throat or is her partially-anonymous face making her brave,

brave enough to hate loudly - there are at least four sources of pain here as the store

takes back its product and righteous or sorrowful customers wait in their own


to pay.

Ms. Lyric's Poetry Outlaws

Join poet Catherine Owen as she reads poems, talks about the poetry world and interviews poets.


About the Artist:

Catherine Owen is the author of 15 collections of poetry and prose. Her latest books are Riven (ECW, 2020) and Locations of Grief: an emotional geography, 24 memoirs on loss and place (Wolsak & Wynn, 2020). Raised in Vancouver BC, she lives in Edmonton, AB, Canada. You can read Catherine's poetry reviews on her blog "Marrow Reviews" at

Catherine's literary magazine, thethe, is currently accepting poetry submissions:

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