Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rites of girlhood

earrings and nail polish
2 for $6 and 5 for $10
it's all for us
and the shoplifting 16-year-olds
who belong here

Katie takes an aisle like a pew
familiar in these temples of girlish rite
while I thumb awkwardly through necklaces
like pages of scripture from a foreign faith

what was I doing while every other girl
was learning to apply eyeliner?
probably still watching cartoons, picking up frogs,
still trying to flirt with boys
by taking their things and hiding them
I can only hold my eye obediently open for liner
when I'm drunk
so instead I scribble witty dialogue
in the corners of my eyes

and buy cheap nail polish
that dries to a warty finish
at the tip of my fingers
        a bright blue swamp
        a canvas full of crayon

Photo by James Lee

        How much do you fit into gender stereotypes? Are you a girly girl or a tomboy? Are you a macho man or Mr. Sensitive? Or are you pretty androgynous?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blues for adult friendships

Each year we know
more people than we've ever known
and yet our parties grow

It used to be
just both being under ten and knowing
who the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were
was enough to unite us
in the big bad boring adult world
of line-ups and office parties.
Just swimming in that ocean
made you take note of others your size
and move with them
like a school.

As an adult, it's hard to keep friends
who don't share your little fishbowl.

Maybe it's just me
throwing up my cake so I can eat it again.
Do I really want more childhood best friends,
or do I want friends like my stuffed toys
who stopped talking with the game ended,
their mouths full of stuffing
waiting for me to speak their words?
Do I want a friend like my sweet old dog
who loved me but knew his place,
never followed me to school?

I'm a dirty mutt
who barks to come back into your heart
then whines to be let out again.

Photo by Jon Hanson

        Why do you think it's harder to make and keep friends as an adult than it was as a child? Is it because we're so much busier? Because adult friendships are more complex? Because children have more in common than adults do?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


At the back of my pink filing cabinet.

Don't call the shaman yet:
everything I've ever given up on
still fits in a letter-sized hanging folder,
bloated as a floating corpse,
Like a vampire coffin, secret
in the basement of an abandoned house.

They only rise at night, of course.

If I lie awake
past midnight on a weeknight
I can hear them over the snore
of all the choices I've made,
shuffling their papers like feet,
rattling their drawer like heavy chains.

I could silence them.

If I could stop telling their stories
to friends around campfires.
If I could stop trying to resurrect them,
stop digging up their skins
and wearing them out to dinner
like a ring from a failed engagement.

This poem was written in response to a Poetry Prompt on Big Tent Poetry.

Aren't they cute?? Photo by dizznbonn

        What's haunting you? An unfinished project? A mistake you made? A soured friendship? A chance you didn't take?

Friday, August 6, 2010


Flung up to hang by their laces
from the power line,
marking spaces like tombstones.
Shoes with black bottoms
leaving streaks on the gymnasium floor.
They won't be allowed back.
Shoes flapping
their torn soles on the pavement
like lips.
Old shoes
with stories worn into them
in creases and cracks,
colour worn off their toes
like burnt grass.
New shoes, white
as a fresh sheet of paper.
Baby shoes.
with the laces undone,
waiting and snickering.
Shoes with attitude,
high-tops like a popped collar.
Shoes walking tracks
through the mud
like fingerprints.
A trail from baseball field
to broken window.
Fancy shoes
that only come out at weddings
kicked off under the table
when the dancing starts.
Shoes cramped in boxes
at the back of a closet.
Shoes on sale.
Shoes clicking
a clock beat down the hall.
Women's shoes: beautiful
high-heeled iron maidens.
Men's shoes: black and anonymous.
Shoe with an empty stomach,
hungry for a foot.
Shoe searching for its match.
with cleats
taking bites of grass
and spitting them out.
Shoes full of baking soda,
stink burnt into them.
Shoes reinvented
with neon pink laces,
song lyrics scrawled in thick sharpie.
Shoes in a pile
by the doorway
having their own party.

This poem was written in response to this week's Poetry Prompt on Big Tent Poetry. It was also inspired by the poem Crows by Doug Anderson.

Photo by Nick Wiebe

        What do you think your shoes say about you?