Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Dark Man

I don't have nightmares, because a dream
is a story and I am both author and actor,
an omnipotent mortal. But last night
I was not in my own story, but a character
in another book I've read.

We're on the bad side and we're launching
a rebellion. Andrew and I leave messages
for others to find, we try to disrupt the system
by discouraging the volunteerism that fuels it.
"But why?" asks one zombie worker, a slave
to her fear.

Quietly, I answer: "Because he's killing people,"
and the room goes suddenly, deathly silent.
The eyes of the crowd roll to me in unison
and I can't move, I can't do anything but stare
out the door behind them, where he is waiting
for me. My fear is almost tangible, prickling
up my spine like bony fingers and freezing rain.

I wake sitting up.


This poem/dream was based on Stephen King's The Stand. Awesome book, but it'll give you nightmares.




Randall Flagg, illustrated by Michael Whelan.


        Do you ever get nightmares? What was your most frightening or memorable one?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

At the caroling party

At the caroling party
we hold auditions to decide who gets to sing
"five golden rings" and who has to sing
about silly ol' birds. The Greers don't try out
because they always sing "six geese a-
doin' it." At the caroling party
Ross is a celebrity; he keeps sheet music
in his head but his fingers play by heart.
When we come to Here Comes Santa Claus
my dad or Uncle Mike or someone will say,
"Oh yuck, let's skip this song this year!"
just to rile the children. At the caroling party
we sing The Holly and the Ivy even though
so few people know the words. No, no,
we have to sing it! It's tradition
and Aunt Elaine loves it. At the caroling party
Grandma often requests that Mary and I
hit the high note in O Holy Night, and we
hit it if we can because it's easier than
saying no to her. Singing's always easier
after a few drinks. At the caroling party
cousin David wears a bright red sweater
and mixes rum and cokes behind the bar.
My mother sits close to me and we try together
to pick out harmonies. She'd rather read the words
shaped from my lips than printed on paper.
At the caroling party, there are chairs and couches
but they're reserved for the older people
so you sit cramped on the floor or you stand. Yes,
it's a silly tradition, a Hallmark card tradition,
a mildly embarrassing, cheesy family tradition,
and yet there's never a single seat left empty
at the caroling party.


This poem was written in response to Poetry Prompt #106 on Read Write Poem.







        What's your favourite family Christmas (or other holiday) tradition?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cultivating bad habits

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.




I'm planning a vacation the last week in January, and I'm looking for five poets (one for each workday) to guest-blog here while I'm away. You don't need to be a professional or even an experienced poet, you just need to be able to send me your poem with a photo and a question for the "Thoughts?" section sometime by early-mid January. If you're interested, leave me a comment with your e-mail address and I'll contact you.




Photo by Dennis Marciniak



        What's your worst habit?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday morning, winter solstice

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.









        How do you force yourself out of bed on a workday -- overuse the snooze button? wake up to music? have someone else wake you up? take a hot shower?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The changefulness of December

There's something almost too festive about
dabbling out a Vince Guaraldi piece by the light
of tiny, white bulbs strung through pine tree
branches and bouncing off painted glass globes
while the spicy scent of gingerbread wafts in
from the candied boulevard atop the piano.

December used to be magic and maddening, holding
little lungs full of frosty air in transcendent
and excruciating waiting, slow and momentous. Then
we grew up and grew distracted from the distraction.
We watch the show play on from behind the side curtain,
looking out into the audience of awed children's faces
and yearning to recognize ourselves.




Christmas in Hampden by Idle Type



        What do you miss most about being a kid at Christmastime?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Matt

The moon has moved again. My letters to him
come back stamped "Return to sender." The stars
keep calling me up on the telephone to complain
how I neglect them, to describe drunken nights out,
who pierced what, budding careers, sunken cities.

Old meteors have tugged and pulled at me before,
threatened to hit, but eventually they will all sigh
in resignation and flash me their burning backs.
I'm safer here: abiding my home shell, body curled
around these precious trifles, watching my radar
for hints of criticism, knitting my words
into regrets.


This poem was written in response to Poetry Prompt #105 on Read Write Poem.




Photo of the Large Magellanic Cloud taken from the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: European Space Agency



        When was the last time you had a real, genuine conversation with another person? I mean one where you moved passed small talk about the weather and work and felt an actual human connection?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trisa

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.








        What's your relationship with denial? I happen to think a mild case of denial is necessary, at least sometimes, to survive in the world and be happy. Deep down, is there something you let yourself keep in denial of?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to perform an appendectomy

Pay attention, because nothing is certain
and you may need to know this someday.

Step one: Identifying appendicitis

The patient will experience a whole world of abdominal pain
and swelling on the lower right side.
Also possibly a bunch of smaller symptoms
that he won’t complain about because who cares
if your appetite is stunted when a rabid dog
is eating your intestines?

Now you’ve got to get that bomb out of him
before it blows poison.

Step two: Setting up

Morphine would be nice, but why
would you have any when you’re bound
to be performing this in the middle of the woods
or at the end of the world (like that Stephen King book)?
Well, give the poor sucker whatever you’ve got but
for Godssakes, no alcohol -- you want him to bleed to death?
If he gives you any trouble, just wait
and he’ll pass out soon enough.

Step three: Actually cutting him open

If there’s a bulge in his belly, that’s where you cut.
Otherwise, cut a hole directly between his hip and navel.
Okay, that’s not exact, but it’s the best I can tell you.
Anyway, try to keep it small, eh? Now you have
a bunch of walls of abdominal wall to hack through
-- have fun. Oh, but do your friend a favour
and cut along the muscle fiber, not across.
Apparently one of the bottom muscles layers
can just be pulled apart, not cut, and it makes
the healing better.

Ah, you know what? Just cut ‘em all.
We’re not doctors here, so you just do your best, okay?

Step four: Locating the little bastard

You’re going to cut through this membrane
that holds all the organs like water in a balloon.
Watch, don’t let anything fall out -- that’s important stuff.

The appendix: it pops out right where the large intestine
meets the small. Not that that’s any help to you
-- if you’ve made the incision big enough to see
all that, you’ve probably already killed your friend.
Basically, what you’re looking for is an earthworm.
A giant, pink, poison earthworm attached to the intestines.
No, no, you idiot -- that is part of the intestines! Look
for something much smaller!

Step five: The hard part

Here’s where the medical texts and sites
start using fuzzy words like “litigate” and “mobilize.”
I think you really just cut it off. Close to the base,
but not too close or you’ll slice up the intestine!
Not too far or you’ll rupture it and spill poison everywhere!
Good? I don’t know if that’s good, I’m not a doctor!
I got this off the Internet! I majored in Political Science!

Look, the way I see it this guy’s dead anyway,
so just cut it off. We’ll see what happens.

Step six: Closing up shop

You’ve probably killed him by now, but
if by some miracle he’s still breathing, stitch him up.
Hmm, I’m actually not sure how to do this. Real doctors
sew up all the different stomach layers, but they have
special thread (and medical degrees). I wonder
if regular thread will work, or if we oughta just do up
the outer layer and pray for the best. Either way, I say go nuts
with any sterilizing agents you happen to have on you.

Oh hey, you know what I heard works well for closing wounds?
Duct tape. Oh, and super glue. I hear they used it for that
in the army. Don’t quote me on that, it’s just hearsay.

That’s it. If he’s still breathing, either he’s a zombie
or you deserve an honorary medical degree
or I deserve a Noble Prize.




Photo by Ralf Roletschek



        If you had to choose one of your friends or family members (and no, you can't choose a doctor, nurse, medical student, etc.) to perform an appendectomy on you, who would you choose and why?

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Perfect Job

To attract the job submissions
offer an ideal position:
Room to grow and progress
Informal dress

Work that we find satisfying
Never causes stress or crying
End at five, start at nine
No overtime

Always keep a lengthy fuse
Never snap or spy or abuse
Please be near a subway station
Pay well and give three weeks vacation

If you respect and compensate us
you will never have to terminate us
We won't steal office supplies
and swivel chairs
Won't spend every morning
playing solitaire
Hurry, job ad!
Many thanks
Sincerely,

Workers of the world


This is a parody of the song The Perfect Nanny from Mary Poppins.






        What's your criteria for the ideal (but still realistic) job?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hibernation attempt #1

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.




Check out my latest Laid post: Five things I've learned from living [with a man].




Photo by Daniel Schwen



        All this cold and darkness is getting me down (yes, I realize it's only December) and I need cheering up: what's your favourite thing about winter?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Good girl

I wonder if detention would have been good for me,
if so much praise earned over so many years
from my obedience to authority figures has made me
one of those zombies in the Milgram experiment
who will go on shocking the poor learner
just because the experimenter tells me to.

I wonder if having strange, frequent sex in the basement
of my parents' house has made me unable to have
sex dreams where people don't walk in at crucial moments,
has stifled me quiet, always jumping at noises,
never fully comfortable without my clothes
at arm's reach.




Illustration of the setup of a Milgram experiment



        Do you think you were a "good kid" or a "bad kid" growing up? How do you think that affects the person you've become as an adult? Do you have any regrets about it?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day slipper

Slippery pavement, like someone spilled
the contents of the world's largest slushy
down the sidewalk and into my new boots
while the wind and sleet conspire
to ruin my makeup.

I take slow, deliberate steps, flat-footed,
and in my head, Andrew sings
his Beatles parody:
          She was a daaaaay slipper
          one-way ticket down
          it took her sooooo long
          to get up...
          then she fell down.


Big stuff happening on Adelaide West: yesterday I got my 2000th unique hit and today is my 300th post!





Photo by biofriendly



        Do you dress "appropriately" (ie. ugly and warm) for bad weather, or do you try to still look good?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lunchtime job interviews

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Monday, December 7, 2009

First snow

We took bets on when the first snow would fall:
Hayley said Halloween, I said the Santa Claus Parade
and the weatherman said today, early December.

This winter doesn't flaunt great, fluffy snowflakes,
flouncing them about like tufts of a feather boa, decorating
tree branches and eye lashes; it is meagre, sprinkling
prudent white flecks of salt, to taste,
leaving only an austere frost.




Photo by Paul Smith



        Snow or no snow? Are you the kind of person who longs for the convenience of a snowless winter, or do you love a winter wonderland?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wasteland

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pomegranate

Bath beads, blood cells, red eyes peering from darkness,
clustered on the peel’s ledge like glistening garnets
or nested together like plump, dozing eggs.

Concentrated nibbles, stealing deep, moist-lip kisses
one by one, like splashing pennies into wishes.
Sucking sweet, red fruitmeat off the bone.


This poem was written in response to Prompt #103 on Read Write Poem.




Photo by Flagstaffotos



        I find fruit so suggestive in so many ways. Do you think the photo above looks appetizing? A little gross? Sexual? Violent? What does it make you think of?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Man overboard

Today I’m strutting down Queen Street
and the mannequins and the billboard models
they’re looking at me
                               ‘cause I’m twenty-one days
to man-overboard status and learning to swim.
I’m a resume printed on thick company letterhead.
I’m a buried treasure chest of stolen office supplies.
I’m practicing
                    my answers, handshake, dramatic exit.
I’m a bitten tongue, a lit match hungry for bridges.
I’m a shot of vodka you gargle on a late lunch
to wash the office shit talk off your breath.




Friday lunch on Queen Street West by Sookie



        Ever fantasize about burning a bridge? Not literally! I mean making a dramatic exit in which you irreparably destroy your relationship with a lover, friend, boss, etc., but it feels sooo worth it. Ever actually done it?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The fax-call saga


Monday
1:48 p.m.Return from lunch. Coworker warns me that someone's been trying to send a fax to our phone.
1:50 p.m.Answer phone. Hear screech of fax machine. Hang up.
1:51 p.m.Answer phone. Hear screech of fax machine. Hang up.
1:53 p.m.Answer phone. Hear screech of fax machine. Hang up.
2:00 p.m.Note fax-calls show up as "LINE 5 Transfer" on phone screen, and only come through on line 5.
2:02 p.m.Answer phone. Hear screech of fax machine. Hang up.
2:40 p.m.Attempt to leave fax-call on PARK. Fax-call disconnects and calls again.
2:51 p.m.Mistakenly blame random law firm for the fax-calls. Call them to complain. Hang up.
2:55 p.m.Answer phone. Hear screech of fax machine. Hang up.
3:30 p.m.Call random law firm to complain two more times. Begin to suspect it isn't them.
3:44 p.m.Take to pressing the line and the release with one hand, rather than picking up the phone each time.
3:57 p.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
3:59 p.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
4:00 p.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
4:24 p.m.Begin tally to see how many fax-calls will occur within half an hour.
4:54 p.m.Twenty-five phone calls in thirty minutes -- that's approximately one fax-call every minutes and twelve seconds.



Tuesday
9:00 a.m.Note from office renter taped to phone: "Turn your phone ringer back on. I turned it off last night because the phone kept ringing and it was driving me crazy."
9:01 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
9:03 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
9:20 a.m.Attempt to forward all calls on line 5 to boardroom phone. Doesn't work.
9:25 a.m.Call phone company to try to block the number, except we don't know what number they're fax-calling us from. No help there.
9:54 a.m.Call company's phone system support guy. Press buttons for fifteen minutes. Phone system support guy says he'll come over.
10:25 a.m.Learn how to forward fax-call to fax machine. Fax-call connects to fax machine, but doesn't go through. Repeat several times. Give up.
10:39 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
10:40 a.m.Attempt to forward fax-call to fax machine and have coworker manually accept it. Nothing.
10:42 a.m.Devise ingenious plan to identify offending fax-call number via fax transmission journal print-out. Foiled: confounded fax machine only shows successfully received faxes.
10:48 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
10:49 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
10:50 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
10:53 a.m.Fantasize about what I would say to offending fax-caller if only I had their phone or fax number.
10:55 a.m.Coworker decides to use line 5 for her very long business call. Think warm, fuzzy thoughts about coworker.
11:12 a.m.Coworker hangs up. Fax-call saga resumes.
11:14 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
11:15 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
11:21 a.m.Attempt to leave the boardroom phone off the hook, on line 5. Doesn't work.
11:22 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
11:23 a.m.Forget how I calculated one fax-call every one minute and twelve seconds. Unable to get ahold of nerdy husband. Call sister instead. Yes, one minute and twelve seconds is correct.
11:30 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
11:32 a.m.Press Line 5. Hear screech of fax machine. Press release.
11:45 a.m.Phone system support guy arrives and diagnoses the problem as a modem that has mistakenly been programmed to continually dial our number. He transfers the calls to our fax machine.
12:06 a.m.Fax machine rings faintly every minute and twelve seconds -- music to my ears (comparatively).





Photo by Deman



Keeping this log of the fax-call saga helped me maintain my sense of humour in an otherwise frustrating situation. How do you deal with totally annoying, frustrating crap like this?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Haiku on a dead man's business card

I'll write a haiku
on a dead man's business card
-- give it new meaning.








        Do you believe that part of a person's spirit lingers around or "haunts" places or objects after the person has died?

Friday, November 27, 2009

The rice cooker

The rice cooker gives a pompous lecture
on efficient design, his glass hat hopping up
off his head with each fervent bullet-point.
A background murmur of percolation indicates cogitation.
Soon his mind will fog with tangents of thick steam
and he'll have to start the whole thing over.

He fancies himself mighty important
with his brand name label and stainless
steel finish, but he doesn't know
the plainer appliances snicker
and call him stout
behind his back.




Yes, I realize these are not rice cookers. Keep reading.



        I have a habit of ascribing personalities to inanimate objects. It's fun. What kind of personalities do you think the three toasters in the image above might have?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ashley, who is Special, keeps a diary in my ear

Stupid Mom. Stupid Dad.

I’ll just tell Jeff-Jeff, I’ll just tell Jeff-Jeff I can’t take the shirt. Got enough shirts.

Remember at school when we talked about not talking to the streetcar drivers? They said don’t take stuff from them. Sorry, Jeff-Jeff. Kristen might be mad. Kristen might set up a meeting with me and Mom and Dad. I’m in trouble now.

Now my parents are mad. Jeff-Jeff, you got me in trouble. I’m in trouble now.

Maybe I shouldn’t have blabbed, just keep quiet.

Don’t blab, Ashley. Keep it quiet. Don’t blab.

I’m in trouble now.


This poem is related to an earlier piece I wrote, called Ashley, who is Special, practices aloud on the streetcar.



Photo by GTD Aquitaine



        I'm a notorious eavesdropper when I'm taking public transit. Have you overheard anything interesting lately?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

At my fantasy flea market


  • claw-foot bathtub

  • vintage fabric scrap bargain bin

  • Roy Lichtenstein paintings

  • white lace parasol

  • 1920s cloche hat

  • vintage glass Christmas ornaments - 2/$1

  • rack of 1950s housewife dresses

  • various articles autographed by Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen

  • Louis XV style armchair

  • 1960s Groma Kolibri typewriter

  • Mary Poppins's bottomless bag

  • DecisionMaker 5000

  • battery-operated time-stopping device

  • hair-digitalizer

  • personal portable lighting crew

  • Star Trek food replicator

  • careers - buy one get one free!

  • wind-up internal motivation



I'm off to Pennsylvania for the next two days, but I've scheduled poems to be automatically posted at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday. I haven't been able to see them and make sure they show up properly formatted, of course, so forgive me if something messes up.




Photo by Incase Designs



        What's for sale at your fantasy flea market?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Saturation

  1. "It’s amazing that I always chop onion this way
    and never cut myse—OUCH! DAMMIT!"

    A red little mouth on my middle finger,
    thin and deep, and it sings. I stifle it
    with bunched tissue like a chloroform rag
    but now there are splatters of crimson chorus
    wet on the ears of the witness-fingers
    and a muffled melody is seeping through
    with steadily pulsing percussion.


  2. PARIS AND NICOLE CATFIGHT, PULL HAIR VICTORIA BECKHAM BALLOONS UP TO 125LBS JEN AND ANGELINA ESCAPE TO CARIBBEAN TOGETHER ADAM LAMBERT CONTRACTS SYPHILIS FROM ON-STAGE SIMULATED ORAL SEX RACHEL RAY CHALLENGES MARTHA STEWART TO COOK-OFF KANYE WEST CLIMBS ON STAGE AND SAYS SOMETHING MEAN TYRA BANKS TO TAKE OVER FOR OPRAH PENELOPE CRUZ BUYS UPPER LIP DANIELLE RADCLIFFE ATTACKS ROBERT PATTISON PEREZ AND PARIS ACTUALLY SAME HILTON STYLISTS ON STRIKE: FRIZZY HAIR PLAGUES L.A. MICHELLE OBAMA PICKS NOSE AMY WINEHOUSE SNORTS SALT BY MISTAKE JUSTIN BIEBER COMMANDS ARMY OF TWEEN GIRLS KEITH RICHARDS NOW ACTUALLY CORPSE FASHION POLICE ARREST PAULA ABDUL JOHN AND KATE REUNITE, SELL CHILDREN

  3. Beneath concrete buildings and clouded skies, strangers:
    somber, smoky-eyed girl in grey dress shirts,
    dusty old biddies with silver hair and drab sweaters,
    men of chiseled stone in charcoal overcoats, distinguished
    salt-and-pepper locks, iron in their gaze,
    leading leaden lives.

    Image > Adjust > Brightness/Contrast






Photo by Roke



        This poem explores three types of saturation, the second obviously being media saturation. So now I'm going to ask the age-old question about celebrities: Why, as a society, are we so obsessed with people we don't know and will likely never even meet?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Feast

We are three and six and eight
and all we hunger for are the ambiguous shapes
that huddle beneath the tree, their entities obscured
by gussy prints and packaging. Skirting
and prodding their edges with our tiny fingers,
we play maddening guessing games
and feel shameful of our secret greed
on this most sacred occasion.

Our begging is no match for tradition,
and we will eat dinner before opening presents,
as we have always done. Sitting restlessly
at our little fold-out card table, we make a pact
to eat quickly – but then there is turkey
and stuffing and gravy and cabbage rolls
        (I surgically slit the roll with my butter knife,
        plunder the rice and bacon entrails, and
        turn the offending cabbage over to my father,
        the family trash compactor)
all shaped and roasted by my aunt and grandmother
like a song born of love and thin air. Moist breading
and soft butter are an unforeseen distraction.

Pop can empty and mouth dry, I sniff
at my grandfather’s glass of Coke for that telltale stink
        (a few unexpected sips of bitter rye
        taught all the grandchildren to sniff first)
and sneak gulps from my father’s glass instead.

Then dessert: the torture
of having to wait for every adult to finish
their coffee, not only so we can get to the presents
but also so we can eat the leftover éclairs.
We kick at each other under the table, antsy
with sugar highs, and wonder aloud
        (purposely too loud)
how anyone can take sooo long
to finish a little cup of coffee.

Our mothers shush us
and ask for refills, but we know
eventually our fathers will cave.


This poem was written in response to Prompt #102 on Read Write Poem.


Thanks to all the people who helped me win the ThoseGirlsAreWild Contest! Check out the winner post, in which the amazing Andrea sings my requested Stevie Wonder song. I also won a copy of Shannon's sensational book, Laid: Young People's Experiences with Sex in an Easy-Access Culture (this is now my second copy -- yes, it's that good).





Photo by Kelvin Kay



        The theme of this poetry prompt is how food can be so deeply connected with memories. What meal or food do you associate with a particular memory or person?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The mayor of Cabbagetown has died

The mayor of Cabbagetown has died
and the city grows quiet, ears pressed
to flesh and memory, listening for
the stories
                he no longer tells
are painted into the gingerbread trim
of Carlton Street storefronts and
the faces
              of costumed children
pang at future Halloweens before a house
drab with the cavity of true death, so unlike
the jolly spectacle
                           of years past
continues on the Parliament parade route,
hesitantly creeping, unguided by its Marshal:
the mayor of Cabbagetown has died.

I wish I had less trivial words and memories by which to honour the death of a man who did so much for my city. Goodbye, Mr. Orbach.








        When you die, what do you want people to remember and say about you?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prosaic predicament

I purchase the provisions,
word process, print, obey,
and palaver with patrons,
and paper-push for pay.

My profession, presently,
perturbs me to no end,
but I have pacts and promises
and payments to attend.

A poet is a pauper:
The pennies are in prose,
the Pecos are in paperbacks,
the real pay? No one knows.

You’d have to play at politics
or property, I s’pose.


This poem was prepared in participation of Poetry Prompt 101 on Read Write Poem.




Brought to you by the letter P.



        If you could make a living doing anything, what would you choose?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Disgrace under pressure

Fix the mistake. Reprint. Still mistakes. Reprint. Shuffle papers. Hands shaking. Clients waiting.

Take out staples. Replace pages. Re-staple. Take out staples. Impale finger. Replace pages. Worry about gangrene. Re-staple. Take out staples.

More mistakes. Clients waiting. Don't scream. Back to printer.

Multitask: print and photocopy. Press copy. Run to printer. Copies ready. Shit, legal size. Copy again. SHIT, legal size! Stop copying! STOP! SELECT LETTER SIZE. Copy again. Printing ready.

Signing documents. Don't cry. How do I spell my last name? Drop the pen. Hands shaking. The client doesn't like me.

Silence. Small talk. Oh God, sentences.




Photo courtesy of PDPhoto.org



        I have no problem speaking in front of a large audience or taking an important test, but apparently I'm totally incompetant at doing general office administration work under pressure. What tasks tend to make you break down under stress? which ones can you take in stride?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dream geographers

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.






Dickens' Dream, unfinished painting by Robert W. Buss


        I have a recurring dream in which the closet at my grandparents' house connects directly to their storage nook. I sometimes have to open the closet when I'm at their house to check, because I'm never 100% certain it doesn't. Do you have a location in your dreams that is repeatedly different from the way it is in waking life?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Andrew cares for his hungover wife

I’m really trying to get up
but my body is too wet flour
that won’t conform
to any particular shape,
no matter how I roll it
over the tangled blankets.
Andrew! Scoop me up
in a bowl and wring me out
in the kitchen sink.
Sift with your fingers
to keep my brain from
spilling out my mouth
and down the drain.


A new site called Review Your Own Blog has recently launched -- check out my review of A Poet on Adelaide West and, if you have a blog, consider submitting your own review.




The hangover by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec



        My actual hangover cure involves Ibuprofen, Gatorade, television and fast food. You?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just looking

Killing time before work. Can I
help you? No thanks, I'm just looking.
It doesn't cost anything just to
try things on. Gum costs a dollar
and that's basically nothing,
that doesn't even count, right?
Rationalization is the bedfellow
of consumerism. Martha Stewart knows
the secret to happiness: how to fold
the perfect fitted sheet. I must buy
her magazine -- it has good things.
Chips are on sale. Chocolate.
Butter has never been healthier.
Sarah Jessica Parker's perfume
is probably good; ugly women need
to smell pretty. I want shoes. Why
do pink disposable razors cost twice
as much as blue ones? I have a beard too
-- it’s on my legs. Save on cream cheese.
Earn double the customer reward points
if you buy two. Why yes I would like
a free sample of Mini-Wheats.
Where are the tampons? Where is
the exit? Where is my wallet?
A pack of gum, just one dollar.




Window shopping at Simpsons Department Store in Toronto, 1937
Photo by Alexandra Studio




        Buy Nothing Day is coming up -- November 27th in North America, November 28th in Europe and overseas. Do you think practicing anti-consumerism for just one day can make any kind of impact on society or individuals? Why or why not?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sketchbook philosophy

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.






Fun with photocopiers and office supplies



        Amateurs get a bad rap, but a lot of great works and important discoveries have come from people who lovingly pursued a field in their spare time. What do you think are the merits and potential harms of amateurism compared to professionalism?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance


  1. Shayla

    I casually complain to a coworker
    about all the government employees
    who’re watching Breakfast Television
    in their flannel pajamas about now
    while I’m stuck here festering with her
    in this swamp of greed and regulation
    (okay, not in those words exactly)
    and she says it’s really stupid
    because most of them are immigrants
    (ohhhhhhh boy, here we go)
    and why should they get a holiday?
    Their grandparents didn’t fight
    in the World Wars,
    at least not on our side,
    (ouch)
    and most of them don’t know
    what today is about anyway.

    And I think about a friend of mine
    whose family had to flee their home
    during the first Gulf war. I don’t know
    many people of any colour or country
    who’ve been as close to war
    as she has.

    She could tell you
    what today is about.


  2. Andrew

    The principal, Mr. Murphy, is a history buff.
    He asks to come in and talk to our Grade 8 class
    about Nazism and World War Two, things that happened
    before we were born, before our parents were born.

    He paces up along the row of pencil-marked desks
    looking at us awhile. Then he points to Lisa, an Asian girl,
    and says, “If this was Nazi Germany, you’d be dead.”
    He continues down the line: “You’d be dead,
    you’d be dead, you’d still be alive, not you…”
    There goes Karen, Derek, Peter, Debbie
    -- half the class is Asian, all dead.

    Mr. Murphy points to Chris, who is black
    and also maybe my best friend, and says, “You’re dead.”
    He comes to me next. “You’d be alive, but
    you’d have to hide that you’re Polish.”

    At the end, he asks those of us still alive
    to raise our hands. Five hands go up.


  3. David

    Things have been coming back
    to my father-in-law slowly, since the accident.
    His wife held his hand, taught him to read again,
    re-taught him little things. Her unwavering patience
    and love is touching.

    One morning, as he and I share breakfast alone,
    he tells me he remembers the war. He was too young,
    but he lied so he could go. They needed him, he says.

    My father-in-law wanted to be a pilot, but
    he was miserably hungover the day of the exam.
    They sent him with a troop to clear trails instead.
    One day as they were burning through thickets
    they came upon a group of young Nazi soldiers
    and attacked them with their torches.

    He watched them burn,
    boys just his own age.


  4. Katie

    My sister and I write poems for Remembrance Day,
    terrible rhyming ones for school that we decorate
    with green construction paper borders
    and pencil-crayon poppies.

    Our mother persuades us to mail them off
    to our grandfather, who is a veteran, with a letter
    to thank him for fighting for our freedom.

    Years latter, our poems will be framed
    and mounted proudly on his living room wall
    beside the Gravenhurst Banner clippings
    from when he sent them in
    for publication. Our grandparents
    will direct guests to read them
    and wait with inflated chests
    while we squirm with
    dutiful embarrassment.





Photo by hobvias sudoneighm



        What's one of your more vivid memories connected to war or Remembrance Day?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's so hard to stick to one feat

It’s so hard to stick to one feat
and not let a new aim compete
when anticipation
gives gratification
as good as the jobs you complete.


I think I owe you all another poem later today… I just thought this one was funny.




Photo by King Kong Rah Rah Rah



        I've been meaning to write a book forever, and suddenly today all I want to do is learn how to paint. What project have you been meaning to work on or complete for a while now? What kinds of new projects distract you?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Huckleberry Finn visits Toronto, 2009

Well the first thing I seen was how terrible loud the place was. I never struck anything like it, with all the powerful big machine-carts a-driving around and the folks inside a-honking and a-yelling. One ornery old cretur all but tromped me to mush with his yellow cart, and blamed if I warn't scared most to death.

I hain't never seen so many types of people together in all my life, neither. And all mixed up together, too. Whitefolk crowded together with the Spaniards and A-rabs and 'black people' -- I got to call them that because I called them something else and then this woman with uncommon short hair like a boy's she heard me and says I ain't to call them that anymore because it's offensive. I warn't meaning anything by it, that's just what we call them back home. Anyway, I reckon I'll call them 'black people' now. Ain't no matter to me.

They got powerful tall buildings in Tronto too. I come across one called the Cyan Tower, and honest Injun, it looked high enough to pierce Heaven. The whole skyline was enough to make a body's eyes pop out of his skull.

I seen the most awful beautiful posters of women in the store windows. I could tell how they was off for money, on a account of they was wearing gold and di'monds, and I suspect that's why they was on the Queen's Street. It was a bully street.




Original illustration by E.W. Kemble



        Do you ever imagine what it would be like to bring a historical character into modern day?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wretched crow

Wretched crow, does anyone else feed you?
Your ribs show through patchy feathers, yet
you're too wrathful to sit in cupped hands,
too vain to accept gifts offered in charity,
too spiteful to twitter a courteous song.

I throw you the table scraps of my life
and you peck at them indifferently.


Want to help me win a contest AND support an awesome blog? Go to the ThoseGirlsAreWild Contest and leave a comment saying Shayla sent you.




Photo by nswallace



        Ever try to help someone who wouldn't accept your help?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Never have I ever

Never have I ever broken a bone.
Never have I ever failed a course.
Never have I ever gone scuba diving.
Never have I ever licked a battery.
Never have I ever ridden a motorcycle.
Never have I ever gone on a blind date.
Never have I ever worn contacts.
Never have I ever cried at a funeral.
Never have I ever seen Schindler’s List.
Never have I ever travelled alone.
Never have I ever solved a Rubik's Cube.
Never have I ever dyed my hair a wild colour.
Never have I ever gone streaking.
Never have I ever ridden a hot air balloon.
Never have I ever seen the Pacific Ocean.
Never have I ever taken dance lessons.
Never have I ever grown a garden.
Never have I ever run a marathon.
Never have I ever been able to whistle.
Never have I ever learned to paint.
Never have I ever seen a tornado.
Never have I ever mastered juggling.
Never have I ever learned to play the cello.
Never have I ever had a child.
Never have I ever written a book.


Want to help me win a contest AND support an awesome blog? Go to the ThoseGirlsAreWild Contest and leave a comment saying Shayla sent you.




Photo by Juliancolton



        How does our range of life experiences (or lack thereof) define us? If you died today, what would you regret not doing?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Scars

Green-means-go eyes incited
to their fullest width, the cat
watches a scrap of yarn slither
across a flannel plain of blanket.
She attacks the woolen worm
as it retreats to the haven
of a cupped hand; her pale claw
carves a thin, red-lipped smile
between my thumb and forefinger.

Andrew shrugs his prudent shoulders
to say A cat is cruel fate and scars
are what come of tempting it

and he is right, perhaps. I have
on my hands fresh scars from cat claws
and deep scars from kitchen slips
and old scars from climbing trees
and faded scars from sibling brawls
and they mark me.




Photo by Guylaine Brunet



        Got a scar with a good story behind it?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dear Baby Not Yet Conceived,

        Just now I went to open a Notepad document to write this poem, and instead I opened the calculator program. That’s your fault, Baby.

        I’ve been reading about this neuroeducation institute, Baby, and I’d like to send you there someday when you exist, but the thing is it costs a lot of money. If it was just you it might be okay, but if you go then I’ll have to pay for all my Unconceived Babies to go, and that’s just overwhelming. I have a student loan and a mortgage, Baby.

        You’re probably going to be smart enough to do well in public school anyway. Your future father and I are both pretty smart. I promise to use the money I save by sending you to public school to stay home with you for the first four years so there’s no chance of any nanny or daycare person depriving you of necessary affection and causing you developmental issues that may ultimately result in your becoming a sociopath. I’ll even try to teach you to read before kindergarten.

        You know what, Baby? You ask a lot of me, even without the special school. I’m going to have to carry you around inside me for nine months, while you deplete my storage of vitamins and ruin my figure and potentially give me gestational diabetes mellitus. Then I have to give birth to you, and you’ll see for yourself what a mess that’s going to be.

        I want you to know I read a lot about parenting, Baby, and I don’t even plan for you to exist anytime in the next five years. Hopefully my informed parenting technique will make up for all the anxiety hormones that will inevitably course through my (and thus your) body during pregnancy. And for the fact that you’ll probably have to go to public school.

Love,
Your future mother




Photo by Carin Araujo.



        Ever had an imaginary conversation with/written a message to your unborn child (or at least thought about him/her)?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fumble

This Christmas I’ve grown tall enough
to reach the thinner, higher branches
and my mother allows me to place
the old, glass ornaments, fragile
as butterfly wings. She hands me
hand-painted orbs, crystal icicles,
and I hunt for pedestal branches
like a nest-making turtledove.

Stretching, ambitious for higher sprigs,
I fumble; glass shatters
on the wooden floor.

Laughter stops, sudden as birds
startled into flight. My mother
picks up one large shard, thumbing
its painted poinsettia. Then she sits,
coloured tree lights quivering
in the shine of her eyes.

“This one was my grandmother’s,” she says,
tonelessly. She stares at the glass a moment,
then goes to the kitchen for a broom
to sweep her sentimentality up
off the floor.


This poem was written in response to a prompt on Read Write Poem.


Check out my new Laid post, Video games: a study in gender marketing.





Photo by RLogos



        This poem is fiction, but was inspired by a time when I actually did break one of my mother's heirloom ornaments. Have you ever accidentally lost or destroyed something that was irreplaceable to someone?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hand-me-downs

Each spring and fall, I would stand soundly complaining in my underwear in the drafty spare bedroom, while my mother pulled neatly folded clothing from overstuffed green garbage bags and made me model each item.

My parents are both the youngest children of big families; that guaranties hand-me-downs aplenty, even for their children.

Mom had always wanted little girls, sweet feminine things with long hair to braid. She rummaged through the bags, pushing dresses, skirts, bows, lace and pink. Naturally, I abhorred all these things.

The clothes from our family friend, Amanda, were brand label trendy things with white lace hems and floral print patterns. I preferred clothes from my cousin Mary, who subscribed to my six-year-old fashion philosophy that wearing mostly matching sweatshirt and pant sets featuring cartoon characters was cool. Mary was my childhood idol anyway, so I wore her clothes like a lock of hair at my neck.

Mom would try to trick me by mixing up the bags, but I could recognize my cousin by smell. Such is pure, childish devotion.







        What kind of clothing did you like/have to wear as a kid?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pretty things

Queen Street is a good choice
if you want to see pretty things

a stranger in a long woolen scarf
steps off the curb as the light changes
effortless high heel tightrope walk
hair like clear pouring water
peacock lashes and honey eyes
          I stare at beautiful women
          even more than beautiful men

nameless face, I want to watch you
you wrest me back from time imagined
and make the present
               this one single moment
fleeting and exquisite

I wonder vainly if people ever look at me
that way




Photo by BS Thurner Hof



        What are we so captivated by pretty things?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween memoir


  1. Age five

    I wanted to be Raphael
    (the ninja turtle, not the painter)
    so Mom helped me select green clothes,
    cut eyeholes into a red strip of cloth,
    sewed a round, green pillow for a shell.

    My three-year-old sister wore it the next year,
    the shell nearly as wide as she was tall.
    She looked more turtle than ninja.


  2. Age ten

    Two weeks before Halloween,
    my mom bought little chocolate bars
    to give to trick-or-treaters.
    They were gone three days later, of course.

    Every year after, she bought lollipops
    or candy corn or neapolitan liquorice
    or some other undesirable sugary thing
    that couldn't tempt the weak willed.


  3. Age nineteen

    And so came the age at which Halloween
    required you to buy fake eyelashes
    and wax and shave and pluck elsewhere.

    I went to a university club in Hamilton
    dressed as Sally Bowles from Cabaret.
    Not a single person recognized my costume,
    but it sure did get a lot of compliments.


  4. Age twenty-three

    I shell out for a glow-in-the-dark skeleton,
    a large pumpkin, $40 worth of makeup, fangs
    and black dye to make me Nosferatu/Dracula;
    Somebody's gotta show these Twilight pussies
    what a vampire's supposed to look like.
    Youth of today, put the sparkles away!

    Carving knives in one hand, Jäger in the other,
    we carve intricate pumpkins at my kitchen table.
    Cell phone camera shots document our work
    before the ants can chew away the details.




Almost forgot to mention: My poem "Paper mate" has been accepted for publication in Issue 32.4 of Room Magazine. Yes indeed, I am feeling pretty awesome today.




Pumpkin carving credits: (starting from the leftmost, moving clockwise) Shayla and Andrew, Katie, Mary, Jon and Floris, and Matt.



        What's your favourite or most vivid Halloween memory?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Carnival

Daylight dulls all magic; the carnival sleeps
like a basking cat and wakes at night.
The sun sinks behind smooth plastic ponies
and the rainbow lights on the carousel
make a sky of candy apple stars.

The crisp evening air is stronger:
roller coaster screams ride farther on it,
popcorn smells more familiar in it.
It nibbles cheeks, tosses hair and squeezes
couples closer in their seats.

At midnight, the rides stiffen
like dead flowers, huge skeletal beasts
and dizziness is replaced with loneliness.
We sigh and turn for home, our hearts
empty as the Ferris wheel.


This was written in response to a poetry prompt from Read Write Poem.



Fair Fireworks, by auburnnewyork



        How do you feel at the end of a fair or carnival, when it's time to go home?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday hangover

Katie fills my house with takeout burger smell
greasy ground beef pickles cold fries Styrofoam
three girls sit with heads hanging low
like ripe, heavy fruit on lazy vines

no clever conversation can be born
of brains still learning to brood
on fewer cells than yesterday, so we sketch
on the back of a grocery list: primitive cartoons
of people we know with notoriously bad hair
and laugh til we cry vodka tears







        Is it possible to have meaningful or memorable moments with friends that don't include any form of constructive communication?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pictures in a stucco wall

A child's rain hat, sailing along the gutter river.
Carbonated explosion from a jostled pop can.
Scarf tail blown upward in a sudden winter wind.
Breasts, much bigger than mine.
An empty wine glass, tipping from a table's edge.
Tea kettle, waiting. Patiently. Stubbornly.
A sleeping bat, blanketed snug in his own wings.
Sharp cardboard wings on an angry butterfly.
Housecat making a familiar leap, eyes closed in knowing.




Walt Whitman's Cardboard Butterfly



        Ever look for "pictures" in stucco walls, wooden tables, tree bark, clouds?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Confounded


  1. Those who can't teach, do

    If you don't enjoy riddles, you probably won't like poetry.

    Some poems are guitars, chords nested deep and sparse within the strings and no matter how many times your dad tries to explain it to you the notes just seem to pop up here and there, just willy-nilly wherever they like.

    Insight like Kingston Road: you're never quite sure where you're going to come across it.

    I write poetry like I play music, just sounding out the notes and practicing over and over, building up muscle memory. I don't know what I'm playing, but people tell me it sounds pretty.


  2. Andrew writes me a poem

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Something something
    Something poo


  3. A six year old reads Tolstoy

    I may never be the person who can
    look at one shade of paint on a canvas
    (left untitled, the height of laziness!)
    or poems in thin, glossy books that read:
    sky telephone lace purple miracle
    and claim to feel something.

    I cry to the poem, "I don't understand you!"
    and the poem answers, "Then hear me.

    That is how it begins."




Black Square by Kazimir Malevich



        How do you feel about abstract poetry and art? What criteria, if any, does something need to meet in order to be called poetry or art?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Caring for houseplants

Eating leftover spaghetti
at our cluttered kitchen table
I put my hand on your knee
feeling the stitch where I sewed up
the tiny rip in your pajama pants
and ask, "Has anyone really close to you
ever died?"

"Me neither," I say.

We are potted plants
cultivated far from the storm;
our roots grow deep,
our stems frail.







        Do you feel you've lived a sheltered life? In what way?

Monday, October 19, 2009

the shredder

                                         r
                            r        r
                               r  r
                          r    rr r r   r   r
                           rr r r  rr r r           r
the merrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr r r r r  r r  r
ciless whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr rrr rr rr rrr  r    r
of the shrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr rr r r r r  r
edderrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr rrrrr r rrr r  r r
makes the worrrrrrrrrrrrrr rrrr rr rr r r rr     r
k hourrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr rr rrr rr rr  r
s everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr rr rr r  r r  r           r
morrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr rr  r rr r  r
e sourrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr r  r r r r r r r rr     r
                           rr  rr r r r r  r
                         r    r  rrr rr  r  r
                              r r  rr r
                             r   r  r  r     r
                                  r  r
                                r         r







        What about your workplace drives you crazy? How do you deal?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dear Poet

We receive calls while you would like the opportunity to. We are not accepting. We have the latest submission thinking of us.

We cannot accept your interest in our magazine. We cannot accept the opportunity to strongly encourage you, the opportunity to "Nourish, satisfy". We are unable to comment on the following work: your future.

Your collection of poems does not meet our needs. Unfortunately, we were given a small percentage of them. Read your manuscript: it does not meet our needs, placing your work elsewhere. Work elsewhere. After careful consideration we find that your creative endeavours work elsewhere. We thank you, however, for careful consideration.

Your collection of poems makes it impossible. Feel free to publish time. If you have any further questions, read your manuscript.

Time constraints strongly encourage you. The latest submissions, they were given time. Consider us again. Submit your work, your collection of poems, consider your work. Make it impossible.

I'm afraid. Please, the best: excellent manuscripts, our future, our magazine. We can only publish our future at this time.

Thank you for time, calls. Thank you for allowing our future. We invite you to comment on publication.

Sorry!
Managing Editor


What you just read was a "cut-up" poem, made from five photocopied rejection letters from five Canadian literary magazines (part of a weekly poetry exercise from Read Write Poem). I cut up the letters into phrases or words, as seen in the image below, and fished them randomly out of a jar. I did that five times, then comprised the above poem using my favourite "sentences" or ideas -- obviously, the finished product has been tweaked a bit, but not nearly as much as you might think! Certain lines are too brilliant not to be random (ie. "We have the latest submission thinking of us" and "Feel free to publish time.").

While I have absolutely no hard feeling toward the literary magazines for rejecting my work, this certainly was a satisfying project! I highly recommend it for expired love letters and high school report cards.





        What do you think about this method of poetry? Does pulling lines out of a jar remove too much creative control from the poet, or can we use randomness to express ourselves?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bloor line West, October

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Changing climate

Do you remember the summer when we drew
sidewalk chalk murals at City Hall
        (a burning globe, a polar bear)
and got chased away by security guards?

That was the year I cut all my hair off
and went to demonstrations every Tuesday morning,
bristol board protests signs reflected
in the windows of OPG. My fingers were always black
from scrawling thick sharpie graffiti messages
        Keep Bangladesh above sea level
        -- stop climate change NOW!

in downtown bathroom stalls. When I marched
right up to the black government vans, stared into
drivers' eyes through sunglasses and tinted windows
and scolded them for idling while the crowd
cheered me on from behind, I had never felt so brave.
Later, when I read all the facts, statistics, news articles,
                   started breathing it in instead of out
I had never felt so alone.

The demonstrations carry on without me;
I push the pedals of my bicycle,
seal my fears up in envelopes
and mail them to politicians
and hope.



This post is in honour of Blog Action Day 2009.




                             Toronto City Hall, July 2007

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pre-dawn paranoia

I wake with a stomachache
from something I ate in a dream
(poison, maybe) but it's only an ache
as long as I stay conscious and don't slip
back to the hag's cackle of a nightmare
that lures me with soothing
spell syllables.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Andrew has a thing for vacuum cleaners

He likes physics and machines.
As a child, he would ask
to see the household vacuum upon entrance
into the homes of friends and family.
He would flee from his frightened mother
in department stores, only to be found
over in Appliances, bowing to
roaring, sucking beasts
like golden idols.

Now, the proud owner
of a house that comes complete
with cobwebs, cat hair, dust bunnies,
Andrew wields his Dyson like the Sword of Peleus.
Drunk on wine and a HEPA filtration system
he vrooms like a child behind a steering wheel,
laughs with storybook victory, proclaims
to the accursed dust that its days
are numbered

and I, like a good sport, just smile
and point out new enemy territory.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

K&K Specialty Fruit Market

On a cold, grey day
boorish men eat hotdogs in the rain
while a rottweiler puppy squats low on the sidewalk,
wanting to obey without sitting
in a puddle.

One Chinatown fruit stand
is lit up bright like a stage,
apples glowing with calm faces
in the warm, soft light, diffused
by awnings and umbrellas.

Friday, October 9, 2009

twenty-six

        there are more pictures of Andrew eating cupcakes
        than doing anything else
                (except maybe drinking)
for his birthday we pour Betty Crocker cake mix
into little ruffled paper cups
        Andrew holding the bowl
                while I scoop with a kitchen spoon
he'll never change        he's still six years old
        standing in his kitchen wearing
        nothing but underwear and a dopey grin
he doesn't give a damn about anything
        but sprinkles and butter icing


Happy birthday, Pickle! Don't eat too many cupcakes or you won't be able to drink tonight.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Brain food

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Secret garden


At age 12, I read The Secret Garden
and craved a hidden space of my own.
I spent the heat of that summer
combing pine needles in the forest,
scouting clearings of rock and marsh,
lusting after a corner, quiet
and undiscovered. A neighbour caught me
sneaking onto his property with heavy shovels
(suspicious playthings)
and sent me away.

At age 23, the city is my forest
and I'm still trying to carve my name
into one of its cement trees. I roam
grey office buildings, holding my breath
before I force the door to the rooftop, tense
while wondering if the fire alarm will scream, planning
quick exit strategies. I'm still chasing
dusty corners like forgotten secrets.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

weak girl


I like to think I'm special      different
      that I can look down on those weak girls
            who beg men to lift them up
            who let men break them down
but it's easy to say you love the rain
if you have a warm, dry bed to go to
                        when the thunder starts

weak girl, you let a man's words come out of your mouth
               you let a man paint monsters on your mirror
no, it's different, I'm different
      men paint monsters on my mirror, but the monsters scrape off
            someone comes to scrape them off
                  another man comes to scrape them off
                  and paint flowers instead
                  he always comes
but it's different, I'm different
I like to think I'm special



Inspired by "Chapter 1: Hookups that Fell Down" from Laid. I didn't intend to write any other poems to promote the book, but this chapter actually genuinely affected me.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Girlmath

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ashley, who is Special, practices aloud on the streetcar

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Friday, October 2, 2009

the sex

sometimes it's rushed
balled up      squeezed to fit
                                                in the corner of a briefcase
sometimes it's an obligation
      (you're not supposed to say that)
a promise I made to myself
                    and to someone I love
that needs to be kept      a duty, like watering plants
sometimes my mind is just elsewhere
      should I pull chicken out tonight?
      I could make pasta but if I do that I need
      to buy peppers so I guess I'll just cook chicken
      remember to pull out the chicken

and I might as well be
                              a moving fist, a pixelated money shot
but
sometimes it's slow
purposely      drawn out long
                                                simple actions turned foreplay
sometimes it's a relief
      (to let your body take over)
a distraction from all the bullshit
                    that comprises my life
in that one overwhelming moment      I find silence
sometimes my mind becomes part of another person
      I can hear his face, the waves of his nerves
      speaking a language only my instincts know
      link established
      my body mirrors, reconstructs

and even when it's over
                              we remain connected.



This poem is in celebration of Shannon Boodram's groundbreaking book Laid: Young People's Experiences with Sex in an Easy-Access Culture, which is officially available in stores as of yesterday. You can pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, Borders Bookstore, Amazon or at Shannon's book release party at the Revival (783 College Street West in Toronto) on October 14th. It's 19+ and doors are open 6-10 p.m. -- hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Writer's block: dead-end beginnings


  1. My little sister
    would always paint her nails
    before church
    so she could amuse herself
    for the hour
    by scratching them clean

  2. On the first of October
    I went to buy a metropass.
    The vendor said, "We're sold out,"
    then let me ride for free.

  3. The groundhog
    has popped his head out
    of the hole in my heart
    and made his prediction for autumn:
    chilly
    and kind.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You put the high in high school

How dare you finger me with greed?
You come down here and smoke my weed!
complaining, when you find a seed
-- you think this shit comes guaranteed?

Don't shame me if I bum a ride
when I'm the friend who gets you high.
Don't smoke my joint and then deny
me something that you had to buy!

You don't appreciate my tone?
You come to me to get you stoned
then say my weed's as dry as bone
-- well next time damn well bring your own!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thompson Park

That winter in university
I sat listening to my professor
explain Hobbes's state of nature
the natural condition of mankind
how he described life within it
as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish,
and short." Afterward, I cried
while in line to buy a sandwich
and feared I was going mad.

I craved sunlight that winter
and took long walks outdoors, my lashes
white, my footprints scarring new snow.
My thoughts ran cold and heavy
      if there is no God
      the purpose of life is
      to live, enjoy, experience
      but what if you lack
      the capacity?

except in Thompson Park, where it was quiet
where low willow branches were clouds
over the paved horizon. It was
the only place the sun would shine
that winter.