“a forest lake frozen to the bottom” by Sasha at her the Diamond Centre

Wednesday January 31, 2018
5:20pm
5 minutes
Seen
Pia Tafdrup

Back when the lake would freeze solid
or at least it felt like that
or at least I was a child and trusted safety still

We would lace up skates too tight
double layer of socks
double layer of love and comfort

My sister and I
all girlhood glow
all wonder and piano fingers
all stir-fry bellies
all blue eyes

Dancing swirls and future
carving the ice
carving the present
carving ourselves

Cheeks rosy
sweaty underneath layers of sweaters
pink jackets
snowpants

Darkness coming in
over the horizon
across the lake
time to get up
to the house

“a forest lake frozen to the bottom” by Julia in Phong Nha-ke national park

Wednesday January 31, 2018

10:20pm
5 minutes
Seen
Pia Tafdrup

It reminds me of the time we tried to take our leftovers home and the waitstaff who couldn’t understand our English very well didn’t know what a container meant. And so they gave it to us in a giant ceramic bowl that wouldn’t fit in our tiny fridge. They must have thought we were out of our minds. We brought the bowl to our room and some smaller bowls to eat from but we were too full to keep eating that night so we put them in the tiny fridge. The next day the giant bowl was gone but our two smaller bowls were still in there. We didn’t want leftovers until later and by the time it was later, we couldn’t eat them anyway. When we went to stick a spoon in, the top was hard as rock. It took a moment to figure out that it had frozen over-we put it in the wrong spot. This made us laugh for a while. Thinking of them coming to collect our giant bowl and saying, well I guess we’ll leave their ice noodles in the fridge then?

“the holy monkeys and the colourful birds” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday January 30, 2018
8:01am
5 minutes
You
Anna Margolin

The holy monkeys run at me as soon as I enter the temple. I was ambivalent about coming here, to say the least. But Jed said, “You have to go to the Monkey Palace! You haven’t lived until you’ve seen those monkeys!” I can hear his voice now, that way that it lilted like summer and peaches. Shit, I miss him. There I am, charged by primates, and I’m weeping because Jed, and I’m probably a little homesick, and maybe hungry, and tired. A Balinese woman comes up to me, so beautiful, and she offers me a piece of mango.

“the holy monkeys and the colourful birds” by Julia on the bus to Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng

Tuesday January 30, 2018
8:39am
5 minutes
You
Anna Margolin

In the morning before we said goodbye to Ann, the tiny blue bird with the long beak that I had seen in my half sleep from the bus reappeared. It cradled a thin branch near the water with its feet and stopped the world from stepping. I tried to tell you that it was a sign. You couldn’t see the blue and told me it was probably some other bird. It was the same one and I knew by the way it sat. Its stillness was a perfect one. I would know it anywhere. I managed to quiet my heart beat long enough to hear. To sense the strength or the message or the absence of expectation. I heard it like the humming of my Nonna, her voice soothing while she used to mend my favourite sleep shorts. I would know that sound anywhere. I would.

“it was poetry, fireworks, ticker tape” by Sasha at Anytime Fitness

Monday January 29, 2018
7:12am
5 minutes
Bad Hand
Mallory Tarses

It was fireworks when Alma was born
It was poetry when she looked up at Judy

“Poetry” Pete says when he’s telling the story
He loves to tell the story
even now
seven years later

“It was the coldest night of the year,” says Judy
stroking Alma’s soft downy fawn hair

“How cold?” Alma asks

“Thirty six below,” says Pete
as he puts another log on the fire
and it sparks
Alma giggles
The old dog Mutt opens one eye

“Where were the fireworks?” Alma asks
She knows the answer
but that’s the quiet comfort of
childhood
asking anyway

“Right here,” says Pete
tapping on his chest
knocking on the door of his heart

“It’s bedtime now,” says Judy
and she’s right but they all hope
that maybe tonight she can stay up
just a little bit longer

Mutt farts in his sleep and
they all laugh and laugh
and laugh
plugging their noses

“it was poetry, fireworks, ticker tape” by Julia in Hue

Monday January 29, 2018
9:16pm
5 minutes
Bad Hand
Mallory Tarses

It was hard beds, good sleeps, wild dreams.
It was soft hands, stark words, sweet kisses.

It held us in our tiny pod, two feet from the ground and floating. Brought us to the flashing lights and the back alleys and the families of perfect chickens. It was poetry and history and a birthday song over the PA in the lobby.

It was poetry and river walks.
It was poetry as patience.

As kindness.
As covered knees in the solemn place.
As the sunrise on a boat in the Mekong Delta.

“Said she’s comin’ back to stay” by Sasha at her desk

Sunday January 28, 2018
8:35pm
5 minutes
Gonna Have Love
Buck Owens

I’m the one at the edge, clutching a glass of club soda, looking at my scuffed shoes. When you come over, when you walk towards me, my heart races and I think, “Ohmygosh it’s finally happening.”

But you’re not coming towards me. You’re leaving. You’re going to the bathroom. You’re going to get some air. You’ve got to make a phone call and the fiddle music is too loud in here. Why did I come? I don’t belong here? What was I thinking? How did I let Ma talk me into this ridiculous – ? I could also go get air. I could also go the the bathroom. I could leave. I could… I know that Franny said that she’s comin’ back to stay but there’s never been a liar like Franny…

“He’s not worthy of competing with you” by Sasha at the Roundhouse

Saturday January 27, 2018
1:43pm
5 minutes
The Duel
Thomas Brasch

When it’s late
and I’m alone
and nothing’s really wrong
but right is around the corner
smoking a joint
hat pulled down

When it’s late
and I’m alone
the glow of this
putrid light burning
I can’t help but
search for you

I know where to find you

Buried in my inbox
scattered in my outbox
what we used to say
makes my heart race

I imagine you rocking
your baby to sleep
so peaceful
so good
I imagine you thinking
about me
getting hard
getting soft
getting a drink of water

None of these ghosts
can compete with what I’ve got

I know where to find you

Singing out of a tinny speaker
Singing words I wrote for a
melody we already knew

“Said she’s comin’ back to stay” by Julia in Da Nang

Sunday January 28, 2018
7:08am
5 minutes
Gonna Have Love
Buck Owens

You are wearing black shorts and a white t-shirt. They might be your boxers. Your at home clothes. Your lounge wear. I don’t know that much about you yet. I don’t know that you love Buck yet. I know you’re funny. I know I’ve accidentally said your name while lying next to someone else. I know I don’t want to live with anyone but you. You are wearing black shorts and a white t-shirt. You knock on my door every night and when I say come in from my desk you come in with your guitar. You play a song. You charm the pants off of me. You make me laugh. You make me better. You are a one man show and I am your only audience. You and your black shorts, boxers, lounge wear. You and your perfect timing and your perfect face. You and your way of changing the room so the right light hits the right spot. I don’t know much about you but I am watching every part. I am studying your hands. Your knee caps. The way you don’t take anything personally. The way you sing to me.

“He’s not worthy of competing with you” by Julia in Da Nang

Saturday January 27, 2018
8:48am
5 minutes
The Duel
Thomas Brasch

You can tell me you’re not competing and I will be more likely to believe you but the ones who love me most and know me best will know you’re lying. I didn’t know we were after the same horizon. I didn’t know because I wasn’t looking over in your lane.

I only ever wanted to know how you are doing your best not how to do your best. I thought we could share instruction manuals once we got them. But you hide yours from me. This has been going on for years. And it is not a compliment to withhold your gold on account of my capacity. I am big and you are big but this constant comparing makes you smaller. You do that to yourself. I don’t want what you’re after. You could spend more time expanding. You could do that instead. Because I am big. I am so big already.

“If we changed the rules of our games” by Sasha at work

Friday January 26, 2018
12:13pm
5 minutes
The Mercy Seat
Norman Ravvin

A: I’m movin’ on, B! So get the fuck outta my way!

B: I will not.

A: MOVE.

B: Nope.

A: MOVE!

B: I can’t let you go. If you go then I’ll be –

A: That isn’t my problem anymore. I’m movin’ on!

B: But I love you…

A: Too bad.

B: Come on.

A: No!

B: Come on, A –

A: I’ve heard it all before. I’ve heard every stupid asshole cliche. I’ve heard your excuses, and your lies and your bullshit. I’m movin’ on!

B: Okay. Okay. Okay.

A: Great. Bye. Thanks for the good times and fuck you VERY much for the bad times.

B: What has gotten into you?

A: I have finally come to my senses! I’m feeling like a fucking goddess right now!

“If we changed the rules of our games” by Julia in Hội An

Friday January 26, 2018
9:16pm
5 minutes
The Mercy Seat
Norman Ravvin

Now that we’ve changed
the rules I don’t cry as much.
As if my face can tell
you how I feel without
losing any water without
causing a drought somewhere
else deep down near the well of me
Now the well of me is full
and happy looks like patience
or a bucket
or forgiveness on the conveyor belt
switched on at high speed
You are coaching and playing
at the same time sometimes
and this is a rule you
have always known to follow
I can learn from this
I can play better too

“like a man swallowing clay.” By Sasha in the bath

Thursday January 25, 2018
10:43pm
5 minutes
Fish-Eye Marble
Sophia Lecker

Yogi swallows clay to clean out her toxins. Yogi does a headstand. Yogi drinks ginger – pure ginger – liquified. Yogi swallows soft white fabric and shits it out and pulls and now she’s clean.

Beth fries chicken in a cast iron skillet. Beth wipes her hands on a cloth that she found in the laundry room. It has small blue ducklings. She thinks it might belong to a baby. Beth stole from a baby.

Kenneth makes his fiftieth egg sandwich of the morning. He wonders if Jess is up yet. He hates working brunch.

“like a man swallowing clay.” By Julia in Ho Chi Minh city

Thursday January 25, 2018
9:55pm
5 minutes
Fish-Eye Marble
Sophia Lecker

Some days are harder to get through in terms of schedule and temperature and sadness and homesick and lack of nutrients and muscle aches and a belly that won’t empty. Things move slow like a man swallowing the sea or one who tries to make a clay pot in his guts. The night feels too dark, too short, too long, too distracted. The morning lies its face off about your desirability as a human. Sleep comes at the wrong time. The battery on your phone won’t last when you’re lost. The roads left unmarked shake like the devil’s in them. The eyes get heavy before it’s time.

“chimneys dress right with smoke” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday January 24, 2018
10:41pm
5 minutes
A Touch of Cynicism
Yannis Goumas

Goodbye
doesn’t have enough letters
doesn’t have enough sounds
doesn’t have enough syllables
doesn’t have enough vowels

“Good” isn’t
really

and “bye” makes it
sound like
this is what
I wanted

or that
I wrote it

“by” Sasha at her kitchen table

maybe you did
maybe you wrote it

“by” you
wherever you are

where are you?

I think it comes from
“God be with you”

which I can’t argue

I do hope that God is with you

wherever you are
eating tropical fruit
wearing cut-offs
dancing with parrots

Goodbye

smoke curling out of a chimney
ash in the fireplace
rain on the window
jumping puddles
slamming the door

“chimneys dress right with smoke” by Julia at Nguyen Shack homestay

Wednesday January 24, 2018
9:48pm
5 minutes
A Touch of Cynicism
Yannis Goumas

There’s a new chimney in my parents’ house. I’m glad because they use their fireplace a lot. They make decisions like this and then you never hear the end of it. I’m glad because they use their fireplace a lot. But then you have to hear them tell you about the guy who installed it. And then again. And then about the new handle on the new fireplace door. Because oh yeah, there’s a new fireplace at my parents’ house too. And people are allowed to be excited. That the first time in 20 years they are changing something in the downstairs area. Not the carpets or the windows. But the fireplace that they light every night. My dad even starts the fire for my mom before he leaves for work each morning. She can do it by herself but he still likes to make the house warm for her before he goes. If they tell me again about the fireplace, I will let them. I’ll ask about the guy who installed it. I’ll ask about the working chimney.

“Well, God is perfectly fair.” By Sasha at the BMO Theatre Centre

Tuesday January 23, 2018
6:52pm
5 minutes
Institutional
Tamas Dobozy

I bring a book when I go to chemo with Tom. He never asked me to go with him but I do because it’s nice to spend time with him and everyone else is freaked out. Sometimes he doesn’t want to talk, in which case I read the Sports section or listen to a podcast. Lily’s got me into podcasts. I love them. Listen to them on my long drives. Tom didn’t tell us until he was really sick. He kept it from everyone except Sas. When he told me and Lily we both cried. It was the first time we’d done that together.

“Well, God is perfectly fair.” By Julia on the bus to Can Tho

Tuesday January 23, 2018
12:02pm
5 minutes
Institutional
Tamas Dobozy

Middle child=fairness and unfairness
=justice=judge

When god isn’t fair the middle child feels it. In her toenails. In her tears.
All this adding up does not equal the right sum.
Someone miscalculated.
Someone forgot to check the math. God is supposed to be good at math.
One good for you one good for me one bad for you one bad for me.
And if my turn comes today yours will be tomorrow. Yours will come and mine will come and faith and trust and acceptance and patience.
God doesn’t play favourites with disaster. That’s the rule. But what if it comes and it’s not fair? That’s the rule too. How does the middle child handle all these mismatched moments. How does god give back after all the taking.
Let’s take a bite until it’s gone. The middle child understands fractions. How to ration. How to make sure there is enough for everyone for as long as possible. You want the middle child on the boat when trouble finds you. You want the one who knows how to be fair.

“microwaved a saucer of milk” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday January 22, 2018
1:41pm
5 minutes
Parents
Stephanie Yorke

Gramma makes the sign of the cross and sticks the saucer of milk in the microwave. She sets the timer for thirty seconds. She stands back. She thinks about how strange microwaves are, and how her mother used to have to heat up milk on the stovetop. She thinks about how each milky molecule is being warmed from the inside, and how she isn’t sure if this is genius or Frankenstein. Maybe Frankenstein was genius. The timer goes. Gramma takes the saucer of milk out of the microwave and brings it into the dining room.

“microwaved a saucer of milk” by Julia in Ho Chi Minh City

Monday January 22, 2018
5 minutes
Parents
Stephanie Yorke

Growing up I had a friend who used to do “experiments” and mix water and milk in a bowl and then microwave it. Then she’d taste what she made and offer it to her guests at sleepovers. I don’t know why you’d call something like that an experiment. It seems pretty obvious to me what will happen when you heat up milk and water in the microwave. Once when I was over at her house working on our science fair project, she had the bright idea to make the experiment a non experiment. That’s not me summarizing the events either, she literally asked me what my thoughts were on choosing something non-experimental for an experimental assignment. So that’s how I ended up with a booth of Lays original flavoured chips and Lays original flavoured baked chips. She thought we could let people taste test both chips to see if they could identify which was which. Genius.

“You’ll do pants today.” By Sasha at at the Edmonton airport

Sunday January 21, 2018
6:19pm
5 minutes
Summer, Winter, War
Melinda Moustakis

I know the apartment is a bit of a mess. Dust bunnies in corners, the sink needs scrubbing, the toilet needs cleaning, the bathtub needs vinegar down the sides. I know that I like packing more than unpacking and three flights in one week is too many for me.

I know that the fridge has a few wilted pieces of celery in it, a bruised apple, a shrivelled lemon, a jar of tahini with an inch of oil on top and only a few centimetres of tahini.

I know the sheets are semi-clean, and the plants are thirsty.

“You’ll do pants today.” by Julia in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Sunday January 21, 2018
9:19pm
5 minutes
Summer, Winter, War
Melinda Moustakis

As we got off the plane all I could think about was my jean shorts. How long it’s been since I’ve gotten to wear them and how I will wear them as soon as we get our entrance visas stamped. Entrance visas take a long time to get stamped, it turns out. We can feel the thick weighing down the airport from inside of it. I want my legs to see the sun. I want my jeans to return to my backpack and shut up about not being chosen. Hours and hours go by because the lineups are all over the place. The taxi driver takes us the long way, round and round, before dropping us off at our hotel. The hotel staff needs to get through their spiel. Today I’m doing pants and shorts. And gratitude. And abundance.

“with that thirsty, drink-it-down look” by Sasha at the Canterra Inn and Suites

Saturday January 20, 2018
8:13pm
5 minutes
For you
Tammy Armstrong

I wonder who taught you about forgiveness.
Was it on the school yard?
A pig-tailed know-it-all in-your-face?
Was it your sister?
Did you break her dollhouse door
and try to tape it back to opening and closing?
Did she cry and then say,
“It’s okay. I know it was an accident.”

I wonder who taught you about forgiveness
more now than a month ago. A month
ago I wondered who taught me about
forgiveness. I’m still not sure.

I can’t remember.

I remember

a pivotal moment of
my sister knowing I ate her caramel
and saying
“It’s okay.”

I read about a woman
who goes to visit her husband’s killer
in prison. They are dear friends now.
That is possible.

I remember

This isn’t a dollhouse and it’s not
caramel or murder.

“with that thirsty, drink-it-down look” by Julia on the plane

Saturday January 20, 2018
12:28am
5 minutes
For you
Tammy Armstrong

-So should we join the mile high club?

– -I would do it, yeah.

-Oh please, don’t sound so enthused. It’s too much.

– -Well those bathrooms are so small.

-Yeah.

– – And apparently you can get in a lot of trouble if you get caught.

-Yes, you can only join the club if you risk breaking the rules. You can’t just be in the club. There has to be danger. And earning it.

– -Okay fine let’s join then. I’m in. I’ve heard the best time to do it is when the flight attendants are trollying along with snacks.

-Oh you heard that, did you?

“She’ll use timid hand gestures,” by Julia on the 9

Friday January 19, 2018
4:48pm
5 minutes
Black Roses Bloom
Bill Gaston

She’ll calmly talk about her dad as if he were still alive. She’ll say he’s gone but her arms don’t quite believe it yet. Her jaw won’t accept it as the truth. She’ll stay up late in bed because the book is that good. Except it won’t be a book she’s reading. It’ll be hard to sleep with all those dreams of him. The ones of him showing up at her door with a basket of fresh picked cherry tomatoes and a couple dangerous Chili peppers. The ones of her getting a call from his cell phone but all he does is laugh and laugh when she picks up. The ones of him squeezing her shoulders when he hugs her tight. The ones of him calling her sweetie after a long time apart.

“She’ll use timid hand gestures,” by Sasha on the plane

Friday January 19, 2018
9:02am
5 minutes
Black Roses Bloom
Bill Gaston

She says that her mother won’t return her calls. He says that he’s sorry. She says that it feels like her whole family is dead, when really only her dad is. He doesn’t know what to say so he says ahhhhh. She says that she’s not sure if the year went fast or slow. She says that she’s finally eating again. He says he’s glad. He says that she needs to nourish herself in every way. She smiles. She says that she never could have guessed that this is where she’d be. He says it’s funny how life works. She says that’s one way of putting it.

“it’s the ending that keeps me in my chair.” By Sasha in her bed

Thursday January 18, 2018
11:52pm
5 minutes
Memoir
Sue Goyette

I don’t know why you’re yelling but it must be because you’re afraid I won’t hear you so I just keep breathing deep and imagining that you’re not yelling and that you know that I can hear you very clearly.

Funnily enough it’s harder to actually get what you’re saying when you’re yelling at least for me and maybe that’s because I have very sensitive ears and I don’t like loud music loud talkers loud chewers anything loud really.

Not sure when you’ll stop yelling but it’s certainly not when I ask you it’s certainly not when I ask you I absolutely ask you several times.

So I just leave not in an angry way not in a way that says that I’m not coming back just in the kind of way that says I asked you and you kept going and I said that I couldn’t take it and then you kept going so.

“it’s the ending that keeps me in my chair.” By Julia in her bed

Thursday January 18, 2018
10:55pm
5 minutes
Memoir
Sue Goyette

Guess I want to know what you’ll look like when you’re eighty. What you’ll smell like. Where your smile will point. I want to know if your vocal chords will turn grey. If you’ll wear a hat or not. If you’ll still kiss like a goddamn unicorn. If you’ll still whisper nonsense into my ear to see if I’ll laugh. If you’ll still sneak white cheddar popcorn topping into our turkey pasta. If you’ll rub my feet for no reason. If you’ll tell your phone to tell me you love me so I get it in writing and in the third person the way I always secretly liked. It’s the happy, the ending, that keeps me glued to your station. It’s the last days that make we want to stick around and see what happens.

“The woods are filling up with snow.” By Sasha on the plane

Wednesday January 17, 2018
3:43pm
5 minutes
Traveller
James Pollock

the holding on, the letting go,
the woods are filling up with snow.
the table’s set, the baby’s down,
you are wearing a shoestring crown.

the laundry is piled oh so high,
the little boy asks why why why.
soup’s burned the bottom of the pot,
i’ve been crying a lot.

we left the city for more quiet,
our friends smiled and didn’t buy it,
they said you’ll be back when winter comes,
sound the horns and bang the drums.

the holding on, the letting go,
the woods are filling up with snow.
the table’s set, the baby’s down,
you are wearing a shoestring crown.

“The woods are filling up with snow.” By Julia on the 9

Wednesday January 17, 2018
4:16pm
5 minutes
Traveller
James Pollock

Let me paint you a picture. Imagine pulling into the driveway and seeing fresh deer tracks in the snow. It’s magical. Isn’t it magical? It’s really magical. I’ve always thought that. Deers are the most magical creatures in the world. They are gentle and they are graceful and they are majestic and they are soft. Deers are so soft and magical it makes me cry. One magic moment I had with a deer, and this was three years ago, was when I was pulling into the driveway at the cottage and I noticed there were fresh deer tracks in the snow and I thought well isn’t this magical? To what do I owe this magic? Am i-Is this Narnia? Is this a Taylor swift music video? Is this pure, unadulterated magic with a spoonful of luck? Let me ask you something-you ever feel like the snow falling lightly and landing on your eyelashes is a kiss from heaven? That’s magic too! That’s the most magical magic there is.

“the amniotic brine of tears” by Sasha at Lewis St.

Tuesday January 16, 2018
11:02pm
5 minutes
Memo to a Self
Steven Heighton

“Soak the fish in salty water”, Gramma says, dropping the cut up chunks of cod into the brine. “It should taste like the sea, or tears”. She laughs. She wheezes. She inhales her cigarette. “Add chopped shallots and garlic. Maybe a pinch of cayenne pepper. Put it in the fridge for hours, not a second more or less…” Her eyes twinkle.

“Really? It matters down to the second?” I ask.

“Absolutely!” She says.

I add the shallots, garlic and pepper. We cover the bowl and put it in the fridge.

“the amniotic brine of tears” by Julia on the 99

Tuesday January 16, 2018

8:56pm

5 minutes

Memo to a Self

Steven Heighton

I called my mother today and yelled and cried at her while she was helping me. I yelled emotions, not anger. Or maybe frustration and fear and annoyance. And she didn’t get mad. She was kind. She knows when I yell I’m not mad at her but feeling more than my body can handle. She knows that and says it’s okay, or I’m not taking it personally, or you can take out your anger on me. But I’m not angry. And I shouldn’t be yelling. But I am yelling and so I yell that I’m not mad. Or I yell that I love her. Or I yell that I’m afraid of dying before I get to see her again. When I yell my mother rolls a batch of date and walnut cookies. She puts me on speaker phone and forgets to tell me that my dad is in the other room with his leg up cause he can’t straighten his knee. That’s when I feel bad about the yelling. As if my dad, unexpectedly home from work, can hear how ridiculous I’m being and might think I’m an asshole. As if had I known that someone else was in the house I would have put on more of a front. That’s just as ridiculous. I don’t yell at my dad because my dad doesn’t know that I have fears of dying before I see him next.

“It’s the nicest gift anyone’s given me” by Julia on her couch

Monday January 15, 2018
10:39pm
5 minutes
Fetters
Madeline Sonik

I still remember it even though I don’t really like to remember her.

I didn’t get into chamber choir when I was in the eleventh grade. I couldn’t read music but I could sing by ear. I was good. But I wasn’t good enough when it came to clapping out the bars. I had never felt more alone. Mrs. C had a look of pity on her face. I was sure I would never sing again. The next day K brought me a hand-bound booklet of music-reading printouts from the internet. She told me not to quit. I was moved beyond words. My friend believed in me even when I thought it was impossible to prove myself. The day after that I got the courage up to go and talk to Mrs. C and tell her that I would work hard and that even if I couldn’t read music, I belonged in the choir. She relented and let me in. I don’t remember now who gave me the idea to plead my case, but I will not forget that music booklet: the holes gathered by the cutest little sewing thread. When I think of her in my life I try and remember that version of her. I try not to let that part get swept away with the others.

“It’s the nicest gift anyone’s given me” by Sasha at Lewis St.

Monday January 15, 2018
1:48pm
Fetters
Madeline Sonik

Would you give me grace if I asked
nicely and gave you spice mixtures,
ran you a hot bath, took out
the recycling?

What if I promised to love you through
this storm?

What if I called you every day
and told you something funny,
or irreverent, or sad?

The greatest gift I’ll ever receive
is forgiveness.

For days and days
and days
I thought that it was you
who would give me this.

I thought that it was me

who would leave voicemails,
roast sweet potatoes, make
angel cards and golden milk.

And then today
as I walked in the coldest cold
it struck me –

the giver and the receiver
are one and the same.

Forgiveness
like honey and cinnamon,
like the end of a fire,
like dew underfoot.

Here it is.
Right here.

“It never rains but it pours;” by Sasha at Lewis St.

Sunday January 14, 2018
11:35pm
5 minutes
Bluegrass
Rhona McAdam

It’s hot as balls back here and Dylan keeps throwing prawn bits at me. Fuck off, I say, but he doesn’t.

When I first started here I was at the cold station, but now I’m at the fryer.

Chef said we’ve got some VIPs coming in tonight, but none of us ever want to know who.

We did three hundred and nine covers last night which might not sound like a lot but if you saw the size of our dining room, you’d get it.

Turns out the VIPs are a hockey player and his family, some old guy who doesn’t play anymore but is on the Sports Network now. I couldn’t give a fuck about hockey but I know more than to open my mouth in this kitchen. Dylan played AAA before having one too many concussions. He stares at the guy all night, grinding his teeth, flipping steaks on the grill.

“It never rains but it pours;” by Julia in her bed

Sunday January 14, 2018
11:20pm
5 minutes
Bluegrass
Rhona McAdam

Even the sunny days get fogged out. You think you won’t be able to see the water but you can if you get close enough. You can let yourself go even if your first tongue tells you there is no point. It will help if you can remember how you thanked yesterday’s sky for being so pink. How you smiled up at the setting sun and let joy in. How you walked through a purple path of damp earth and felt alive from every tingling limb. How you felt loved. How you thought of your mother coming to Canada for the first time. How she was taught this same beautiful word in the form of a new friend’s dress. How she’ll never forget how perfect purple is and how you won’t now either. Yes, there are moments of blame. And then some following of disappointment. But they are small. And they don’t have to be the day.

“Does it not sound like shouting to them?” By Julia on her couch

Saturday January 13, 2018
11:24pm
5 minutes
The Sisters Brothers
Patrick DeWitt

There’s a couple down the hall-or there was a couple down the hall-who screams and screams and yells and yells and fights and fights and etcetera and etcetera. I say was because we haven’t heard fighting in a while and the more logical assumption is that they’ve moved out. I mean it’s sad that a couple has moved out of our building and we didn’t realize it until we noticed the quiet. Other people are living there now and we didn’t know that either. I say it was more logical that they moved out than that they stopped fighting because they used to fight so bad it didn’t seem like the kind of thing that would ever end. Even alone they fought, which is weird, but maybe it was on the phone so maybe not so weird. Anyway I’m certain that the whole building heard it because we heard it through the walls and over the Brahms. Over our own fights, which we were glad to realize weren’t as bad as theirs. I only know them by their loud. I wouldn’t be able to pick them out of a line up.

“Does it not sound like shouting to them?” By Sasha at the Intercontinental Yorkville

Saturday January 13, 2018
5:46pm
5 minutes
The Sisters Brothers
Patrick DeWitt

Ginny goes to dance class. She takes the streetcar across town, and walks twelve minutes to the studio. She’s glad that she doesn’t have to wear a leotard, but that she does have to wear ballet slippers. She used to dance when she was young, but then her teacher, Natasha, said that she doesn’t contain an “iota of grace” and so she stopped. But it haunted her. Natasha’s British accent and her delivery, not exactly cruel in tone, but direct, icy. Ginny changes into shorts and a baggy tank top. She smiles at Leanne, a sixty-nine year old former pastry chef, who is wiggling into tights.

“I knew that sitting like that would bring me happiness.” By Sasha at the Intercontinental Yorkville

Friday January 12, 2018
11:02pm
5 minutes
How To Sit
Thich Nhat Hanh

I know that sitting would bring me something new, but I never let myself do it. Maybe it’s because I was taught to move, that moving equals productivity or something? Maybe it’s because when I sit, I feel. When I’m still, I have the space to know what I know, to trust my gut. So, I go from bed to the gym to the office to choir to drinks to bed. Bed to gym to office to yoga to bed. Bed to office to drinks to dinner to dancing to bed. You get the picture. And then, on a Sunday afternoon when my best friends cancels a hike, I sit. I sit. I sit. I close my eyes, just like the book says, and I pay attention to my breath going in and out. In and out.

“I knew that sitting like that would bring me happiness.”by Julia on her couch

Friday January 12, 2018
9:07pm
5 minutes
How To Sit
Thich Nhat Hanh

I sat there, sitting, and a bird came and perched itself on my shoulder. Isn’t that incredible? I invited the bird with my stillness. I sat there, sitting, and a bird sat there, sitting on me. How fascinating. I am the inviter. The invitation. The inventor. I invent still moments for my body to sit sweetly. I give choice to my bones, I say “loud or quiet?” I say “moving or moved?” I like this new sitting style. I like knowing how much I used to avoid it. How much it used to fill the room with loud even when I did not say. I do not say loud if I can help it. I like hearing every part of my legs and every part of my stomach and they will speak if they don’t have to yell. And it is helping more than just the room. It is helping every house inside my skin.

“I am numb to you.” By Sasha at the Intercontinental Yorkville

Thursday, January 11, 2018
11:11pm
5 minutes
Midwinter
Natalie Crick

I am numb to you and your peevish ignorance. I want to frame every page of the book that I’m reading and hang these portraits of your ineptitude on your wall so you can’t escape facing them. You, in your entitled arrogance, thinking the world owes you something, thinking you can be so insolent, so rude, so belittling. HA! I am stone and you are water. It would take six million years for you to change me. I wanted to stand up and scream. I wanted to kick down the door and throw you out. I wanted to do better. I did. I remained calm. I did not speak to your superior. I did not file a complaint. Maybe you’re new. Maybe it’s your first day. Maybe your cat died.

“I am numb to you.” By Julia on her bed

January 11, 2018
10:41pm
5 minutes
Midwinter
Natalie Crick

It’s a cab ride after a long ride of not speaking. And you are still not speaking to me. I have done all the heavy lifting. At the table, with strangers, painted you in the pinkest of lights. I was talking shop like you’re the bike, like you’re the ride. And this whole ride you’ve been avoiding me. Trying your best to bite your tongue and let them hear you noble. And you forget me in the middle of it all. Arm outstretched, fork untapped, drink unclinked, and you do not smile. You make a face at them that looks like good and looks like great and then with me you are alone again. Unriddled by my questions, unannounced as if the couch owned your legs. I am mad for being mad. And for being right. And for being nothing but good. So why does it feel so damn exhausting-to nap during the day and wake up still unloved by you. So tiring to keep this back pocket free in case you slip your hand in, and when you do not ask me how my day was, I know to check for stolen change. Hand in my pocket to protect you against the yell machine, the perfect plane, soaring right back down after take off.

“shorten the contract” by Julia on her couch

Wednesday January 10, 2018
8:59pm
5 minutes
for your consideration
Laura Yan

Owlie is coming to visit and I got her an air matress from Winners. This is what adults do. Adults go to the store on a Wednesday or a Monday and buy produce. Adults invite their friend to sleep over but only if there is proper bedding. I haven’t seen Owlie since 2012 and I’m afraid she’ll ask me all the same questions. Where am I working? Did I ever find a family doctor? Do I still sleep with a bible underneath my pillow? A lot can change in six years. People can grow or stop gowing or get a promotion or lose their job. You won’t find any air mattresses in an unemployed adult’s home. Nobody would see one and expect their host to not be able to afford a nice one like this from Winners. Owlie has always been successful at anything she tries. She got a serving job once just by walking into a place and telling the owner she could see herself working there.

“shorten the contract” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday January 10, 2018
7:01am
5 minutes
for your consideration
Laura Yan

Dear Ms. Dunkirk,

I regret to inform you that we will be shortening your contract, originally extended until January 2019. There is a conflict of interest that has arisen and unfortunately we have no choice but to excuse you immediately. We do, however, expect you to train your incoming replacement as well as leave all of the materials that you developed while here.

If you need further clarification as to our policies regarding employee fraternization, please speak to Glenn in HR.

Thank you for your understanding and all the best.

“if she was obligated to say” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday January 9, 2018
11:02pm
5 minutes
Pamplemousse
Dominique Bernier-Cormier

Monique makes the bed with hospital corners just the way Nana taught her. She tiptoes down the stairs. Ever since Graham became a teenager he’s been sleeping until the afternoon and he gets very very angry if anyone wakes him up. Dad says that it’s fair game after ten on the weekends, but it’s before seven so she’s got to stay quiet as a mouse. Dad must be out in the barn. She wonders how he slept last night. Sometimes she hears him pacing in his room hours and hours after she’s gone to bed.

“if she was obligated to say” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday January 9, 2018
10:03pm
5 minutes
Pamplemousse
Dominique Bernier-Cormier

When I asked her if I could pitch her an idea
her eyes rolled back in her skull like a whip and I waited there
patiently for her to nod her head or give some sign that
I wasn’t just wasting all the god given air in her lungs
Finally she motioned for me to keep speaking and I did speak
but she did not laugh and I waited again for it to click
and for her to realize suddenly how funny it really was
She didn’t do anything or she clucked her tongue
and let me know she had heard but
she didn’t say anything or offer up even a small smile
Of course she was not obligated to tell me how smart my
idea was but it would have been nice
It would have been nice if she didn’t need so many proofs
before suspending her disbelief
Of course if I were to tell her that she’d get angry at me
for suggesting that she didn’t have an imagination
but my real question would be regarding her funny bone

“feel free to play around” by Julia on her couch

Monday January 8, 2018
9:26pm
5 minutes
http://ohsheglows.com/

I told them today about my favourite word. I told them
everything I knew about play. I invited it in like a teacher did once for me. And again when I forgot. And again when I was faking it. Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Seriously. Don’t. And we played. We danced out of our chairs into a game. We all said yes and how glorious it was. That feeling alone won me right over. I asked them to risk being seen. I invited again and again and led by example. Some of my heartstrings were tugged so hard they broke. My own panic wove a tapestry and I wore it and then when I invited guidance I got some Serenity I didn’t know how to ask for. I think there is magic in moments like these. In giving yourself over to the open chair. The possibility of freedom. The strong and wrong balls to the wall go big or go home. I played like I wasn’t afraid of a grade or an opinion. And they played back when I called.

“feel free to play around” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday January 8, 2018
7:12am
5 minutes
http://ohsheglows.com/

My daughter and her daughter sit on their
front porch and sing to the shrubs

My daughter and her daughter walk to the river
and throw stones in
see how the current weaves

My daughter and her daughter
peel clementines and eat the sections slow
fussing turns to laughter turns to fussing
turns to laughter turns to nap

My daughter and her daughter sleep in a bed
with lavender tucked in the pillowcases
dream of a time when the world might be better
dream of a future where there’s curiosity and hope

“Resist the millionth purchase” by Julia on her couch

Sunday January 7, 2018
10:28pm
5 minutes
Advice to Myself #2: Resistance
Louise Erdrich

Went by the Salvation Army on my way home from work today. I thought I was going to pick up a perfect sweater. I didn’t know what kind of sweater, exactly, but I had a good feeling. Too bad it was closed. The Salvation Army is not open on Sundays. This is good according to my hormone tracking app. Best not to overindulge on impulse purchases cause when my hormones get back in check my bank account will not be. Then I went to the used book store and spent some time browsing and checking prices and being appalled at how expensive books in a used bookstore for some reason still can be. I don’t know why as soon as I step foot in one I have to dust the crops like it’s my job. I think my prayer sister, Geri, told me about that. When you lay a series of farts up and down the aisles? She also taught me about “shooting a bunny” which is what she called it when someone tooted a good hard fast one.

“Resist the millionth purchase” by Sasha at JJ Bean in Olympic Village

Sunday January 7, 2018
5:15pm at JJ Bean
5 minutes
Advice to Myself #2: Resistance
Louise Erdrich

She tries to resist the sale on tank tops at The Gap (who makes their clothes? How are the workers treated in the factories? Where did the cotton come from?)

Emma finds resistance ridiculously challenging.

She tries to resist avocados (the carbon footprint), coffee (labour exploitations), cleaning products (what happens when all that shit goes down the drain?).

She tries. She fails. She tries. She fails. Is this what life is? She thinks.

She tries to resist the space heater in the office. Just bring another sweater. Buy warmer socks. Turn off the light. Turn down the thermostat at home. Recycle. Compost. Ride a bike. Take transit. Resist. Rise up. Resist. She tries. She fails. She tries.