Friday May 5, 2017 at JJ Bean
my family speaks poetry through me as I walk from my house to a place that isn’t
I am stopped on the sidewalk with the urge to take notes
They are dictating faster than I can write
The stories from our childhood, inspiration enough after the drought
I am greedy with rain and the secrets of our youth
the clues to finding solace in a memory built from our old garage,
the time we picked strawberries at the farm and made milkshakes,
the time we sang to Mariah Carey on the back porch and I made everyone
turn around to listen when it was my turn,
the time we got hats with the olympic rings on them at Mcdonalds,
the time we rode around on horses while they defecated,
the time I asked my older cousin if we could have a “talk” because I was feeling left out, the time they got the shots for whipping baby field mice against the brick
Thursday May 4, 2017 at JJ Bean
Thursda May 4, 2017
My aunt Barb tells me that she wrote herself a note when she “wasn’t straight” about how the “negativity is too loud in her head” and “cutting through all her good thoughts”. We (the family, collectively) got her into medicinal marijuana after her husband passed away last June. We wanted him to try it but he refused to smoke the stuff even after we showed him all the videos of people his age trying it. Barb is in love with it. She calls me at least once a day with her “new thoughts”. Yesterday she told me that “the sky is trying to kill her” and that she “would go but there is laundry to be folded”. In a meeting with the cousins, we secretly discuss Barb’s usage and pat ourselves on the back for helping her out. Then her daughter, Dina, raises her hand timidly. “My mom says she wants to try crack next!”
Tuesday March 7, 2017
The Globe and Mail
Elizabeth. Forty seven, but she tells people she’s “on the cusp of forty”. Tall, taller than most at least, six feet and three inches, to the chagrin of her mother. No, she doesn’t play basketball. No, she doesn’t want to join your rep volleyball team that plays every other Wednesday in the gym on the university campus across town that smells like Smart Food. Elizabeth just lost her job, and now she’s sitting at the bus stop, a small tupperware box on her lap. Contents: pink sticky notes, three uni-ball pens, a framed photo of Henry, her ginger three-legged cat, and a small cactus that she hasn’t watered since 2013 and magically is still alive and well. She’s worked as a copywriter at Cityscape News for twelve years. “We’re going digital,” her boss Kenton, who looks like a bulldog, had said. “We’re streamlining…” He’d smiled his way through the “evaluation”, as though something, unknown to Elizabeth, was funny. She knew that she had one of those expressionless faces. She liked to think of it as “Mona Lisa-like”. She knew that others thought of it as “rude”.
Thursday January 19, 2017 at Elysian
You buy a car and drive across the country. You wear only your mother’s clothes, from the time before she knew you. Remember that that time existed, you say, under your breath like a rosary. You buy a car the colour of sunset and sand, wondering if chrome can chameleon. You paint your face with mud and forget. You go into a diner and order a mushroom omelette and extra crispy bacon. The waitress smiles at you. She knows where you’re coming from, and maybe even where you’re going. You eat with your hands.
Wednesday January 18, 2017
From a Google search
I have flashes of you famous and how I’ll wink at women in statement glasses at dinner parties and say, “I knew him before…”
You’re grounded when you’re famous, you’re not an arrogant asshole like the others.
You invest your millions ethically and always buy sandwiches for homeless people.
You always wear distressed jeans, but not the kind you can buy already worn in. You do that artfully, by yourself.
At said dinner parties, I always tell stories of when you had bad haircuts and got drunk off of a single can of beer.
Thursday January 19, 2017 at the VPL
I told myself I’d be married at 24 cause of my mother. She was married at 24 and that felt like the best map I could follow since she has never once said she regretted it. I also said I wouldn’t have sex till I was 24 either case of Jesus. Or the patriarchy. Save my sex for someone who loves God more than he’ll ever love me and believes in owning humans as property? Yeah, what a great fucking idea. I was young then. And committed to Christ (by choice, weirdly, I know). And in love with the idea that I didn’t have to make my own decisions cause life was already going to have too many of those in the first place. I told myself that I would have a child by 28 cause of my mother. She waited 4 years to have one after she got married and that seemed smart, and good, and completely doable. I have missed both of these “destiny numbers”(by choice, I know, I know). Somewhere along the way I decided I could trust myself to lead me through it. Sometimes it’s the worst feeling in the entire world. But it’s better than being married with a bazillion kids coming out of my ears. Age, I’ve learned, is just a number that you get to hold for a year. And then–we let it go, just like everything else.
Sunday January 15, 2017
When I broke into your home, your roommate was fucking her girlfriend. I wasn’t sure if I should stay, or go, or pretend that this was a normal way to spend a Wednesday evening. I knew that you were in China, and that a million different people were taking you out for every meal of the day. I knew that you hadn’t texted me back in exactly seventy six days. I get in your room, the moaning and screaming coming through the wall, and I’m not even sure what to do, I’m not even sure what I want. I take off all of my clothes. I climb into your bed. I drink in your smell.
Thursday November 3, 2016 at JJ Bean
Overheard at JJ Bean
I sucked her bottom lip slowly like I was trying to extract a stinger without disrupting the blood vessels. I wanted to taste her. I wanted to be gentle. In the hollowed buzz between us I could tell which breath belonged to her and which didn’t. I suddenly couldn’t stand the feeling of not sharing air. What had I been doing up until this point? Had I ever considered I had been hiding my truth somewhere deep in the shame of me–that tended to burrow underneath expectations and the holy grail of perfection? Had I even lived at all? We didn’t have anywhere else to be, no other versions of ourselves to uphold. I made a promise to only stop if she asked me to.
Friday October 28, 2016
A LENNY Interview with Amanda Nguyen
I am a good pretender. I still think about doing it professionally, actually, especially when I’m lonely or the season’s change or when it smells like mothballs and tequila. You all try to fool yourselves that it’s not pretending, that it’s truth-telling but everyone else is laughing like crows.
Sitting in the waiting room, filling out the forms, picking egg yolk from my cuticle, rolling my eyes at the magazine selection. I’m pretending, Mistress of Disguise, clever clever. When the mouse behind the counter who tells everyone what to do but gets paid the least, when the mouse calls my name I smile. Liar. I smile and I hand in my form and I walk down the long hall.
Wednesday September 14, 2016
from a tweet
Did you know that if you can think it, it already exists somewhere on the internet? Because it’s a dark and twisted jungle and some people don’t know how to find their way home after getting lost in it. Anything you can think of at all. Sure, it would take a little digging. You’d have to be good at searching. But for every good thought you’ve ever had, someone has beat you to one like it somewhere online. And for every bad thought you’ve ever had, someone has beat you to 10. At least. The ratios do not lie. We’re more alike in this life than we’d ever like to admit. My bad thoughts, fleeing, your bad thoughts breeding and burying their eggs all over the web. It’s the only place where there always exists someone more hurt than you.
Tuesday September 13, 2016
from a Facebook post
Words unspoken turned into her next studio album
I wished she would have thanked me in the liner notes
Some of her best songs were un-fought wars about me
And some of her most beautiful lyrics
Were silent wishes tucked away and forgotten
I would have liked to explain myself
I would have liked to be understood before the divide instead of because of it
Too many resolutions gleaned from the backs of our sleeping heads facing opposite walls
And all the haunting melodies I will hum to myself forever
now that they are stuck inside my dreams
Friday July 29, 2016 at BATW
from a Facebook post
Marissa was insistent on spending as little as possible on her wedding to Greg. Her friends asked her why she wouldn’t want this special day to be more classy or fancy or memorable. And then Marissa dumped all her friends and moved to a tiny island town and lived in a log cabin where she ate dehydrated beef and played scrabble with her cat. She told them she didn’t want to wake up one day and realize she had wasted all her hard earned money on a thing that might not last. And they were appalled. Was she having second thoughts about Greg? Was she cheating on him with his brother Grant? Was she going to be a Run-away Bride? And Marissa slapped them all in their dumb mouths and ate a bowl of peach cobbler drenched in Añejo 7. It wasn’t about doubting Greg. But a marriage is the thing that people should be focused on. The thing that takes 100 years to succeed at. Not the wedding, which lasts for 8 hours on the day, but then haunts your financial dreams for the next 1000 years, leaving you wishing you just went to City Hall like all the smart people.
Thursday July 28, 2016 at BATW
Letters To A Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke
She hopped to her seat at the back of the aircraft and chuckled to herself as she heard the voice in her head refer to it as an aircraft. A craft that belongs in the air, she thought, how magical. Someone thought this thing up and then built a bunch of Popsicle stick models out of it before building the real thing.
She was anxious to get home for her brother’s surprise 30th that her whole family was apparently gathering for. He was the one who invited her to it in the first place, but they were close and couldn’t keep secrets from each other. Her brother had found an envelope in the garbage that had the details on it. She was excited to get back to her life as she knew it best for a little while. Familiar streets and faces, going strawberry picking with the family, spending quality time with her dog.
Tuesday July 26, 2016 at BATW
from the write up on the painting “Ascend”
Heaven forbid I tell you how I actually feel. I say that under my breath because I’m too afraid to say anything about how I actually feel with full voice. What the eff. Where did that start? When I was a kid? As everything in this life does? I had to do what you did when we were young because I wanted to be you and the only way I knew how to be you was to do what you did or what you wanted. That made sense. I was looking for lightening. Wasn’t about to spend three to five years wishing I was you without trying to make it so. I still want to be you on most days. You were older than me then but now you’re a painting. I see you still: beautiful and still. You’re not going anywhere and I don’t have to run to catch up to you. I don’t have to hold my breath and count to three because you’re not running away from me. I am a mess. It makes sense that I would want to live your life and not mine. But I still can’t tell you how I actually feel. Because my soul is drunk on doubt and it flies high when it’s left to its own devices. You are still the moon, and I love you for that. The shiny thing in my sky that makes me want to open my eyes and see…
Friday July 22, 2016 at BATW
Overheard at the No Frills
He tells me it doesn’t feel like there’s any oxygen in the air today. He tells me that ‘outside’ is trying to compress him, make him small. We round the corner by the Mac’s and see a dog squatting to relieve herself. See? He says. See what I mean?
I try to hold his hand but he only lets me take his forefinger. Something about energies and needing most of ‘them’ free. I don’t know if I’ve just never noticed before, or if it’s new. His voice trembles a little bit when he speaks. I want to ask him about it but now doesn’t feel like the time. We make our way to the coffee shop to get a couple donuts, dodging three (or “one hundred”) babies as we line up to order our espresso. It’s hot in here, he tells me. The whole world is on fire.
Wednesday July 20, 2016 at Starbucks
I invited Elliot back to my apartment after drinks because he tied a cherry stem in a knot with his tongue and I wanted to see if he was a one trick pony or if his tongue could tie other things into knots…
When we got back to my place I told him to make himself comfortable while I poured us some scotch. But then I remembered he was wearing dark denim, and I had to rush out to see if he had plopped his Abercrombie & Fitch ass down on my new white couch. He had. I tried to act cool, but I could practically see his jeans forming a navy puddle underneath him. Was he sweating or something? Didn’t he know you have to wash new jeans before you wear them? Didn’t he think, oh I might ruin this sweet Norwegian couch?
Thursday July 14, 2016
overheard at The Tenant
I wish you’d stop staring at my cousin at our family dinner. You think you’re doing a good job of hiding it, but you’re wrong. I know she doesn’t interest you or stimulate you mentally, but I also know that she is exactly the type you go for when you’re thinking outside my box. She’s objectively better looking than I am even though her features are offensively small. When I picture her and her tiny eyes and gummy smile, I think sometimes that she might just be a bear with bangs. Except really pretty.
Wednesday July 13, 2016 at Starbucks
from a sign on a newspaper box
A couple of us decided we were going to sneak into the Kits pool and I was trying to work up my nerve. Casey and Alison had their trust funds to use if they got caught, but what did I have? Two pennies and a stick? A lighter filled with pocket lint? I told them I was having second thoughts and they both stood there on the sidewalk howling at the sky, trying to get me to cave. I can’t do this you guys, I said, I’m not lucky enough to pull this off. Alison rolled her eyes back in her skull. You think I have a golden horseshoe up my ass or something? I don’t know, I told her, I’m sure you could buy one if you needed to. Casey grabbed my shoulders and stared me straight in the eye. We don’t want to do this without you, she said, but we will if you’re not okay with it. But know this, you will be missing out. I felt like I was being bullied into a licking a frozen lamp post in the dead of winter.
Tuesday July 12, 2016 at Starbucks
from a text
I sit on the edge of my nothingness like it’s a cloud and I’m in love with it. I am cotton candy insides and I’m melting away leaving a trail of rainbow guts and tie-dyed blood. There is nothing wrong with my nothingness and for the first time in all the time there ever has been, it is peaceful instead of not. Acceptance of nothingness is a road with bumps and potholes and with poor lighting sometimes but usually free of other travelers because it’s a long one and there is enough room for everybody. There is a space now between yesterday’s pain and tomorrow’s worry and it’s all here all now- all everything I’ve been avoiding- because feelings are attached to beliefs and those things get stuck pretty hard as a system that limits me if I let it. I dangle my feet off the edge of nothingness now like it’s a dream and I’m no longer trying to catch it. No flash photography here to capture it, just smiling into the places that can be so easily filled with words words words.
Monday July 11, 2016 at Starbucks
from an e-mail
There are crazy people everywhere. Waiting to get on a bus, complaining about a dirty table, screaming about the bugs in their hair. Some days I am this way. I can see myself reacting, overreacting to things and I don’t recognize my face. It’s like some crazy person has hijacked my body to do all their crazy things. I know it’s me, but it feels like a movie or video game. My therapist says I can’t be held responsible for things I do or how I behave outside my “window of tolerance”. She says that trauma can lead to the window being broken wide open and that’s how things become blurry; hard to control; hard to keep rational. I told her, I don’t know how I could do it, I never wanted to do it, and she said, well it’s that “window of tolerance” thing we talked about and would you like to go back in time and speak to your six year old self right now?
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Overheard on the street
It’s the eleventh time (maybe the twelfth) that he’s told me he loves me today and it’s not even noon yet. I think he’s covering up for something. Overcompensating like he does sometimes when he becomes afraid of me. I catch a glimpse of myself being hugged in the mirror, (bent low) by his unavoidable embrace. I say, okay okay okay and he lifts me up, hurt on the inside, and in his eyes. You don’t want me to love you? I catch reflection again and there is hurt on me too. I do, I say, just not parallel to the floor like that, not crumpled up in a ball that makes my back ache. Sorry, he says, I didn’t mean to hurt you. Okay okay okay, I say, I know, no one ever means to. I give myself a time out so I can be far away from him and his love that doesn’t know how to feel rejection. I don’t want to be the thing that twists his insides when he’s happy and makes him drift off to sleep dreaming about my funeral. I tell myself, in exactly five minutes (maybe six), I will go back over there and squeeze him with the honest love I’ve been keeping from him.
Friday July 8, 2016 at Starbucks
When I Am King, Dilly Dilly
I wake up everyday already loving you, you’re at, let’s say 20%. You know, like a server at a restaurant: I go in and I give you the benefit of the doubt, I start you at a 20% tip and if you mess up by being rude, I knock a couple percent off. I have no ill intentions, I don’t go to a restaurant expecting to be disappointed. I expect kindness. I expect good food. I expect thoughtfulness. And I expect, sometimes more than I should, a freebie of some sort. And then because I’ve eaten out at other restaurants before, I compare this service to that service to this service to that service, and I know when I’m not being treated right. I also know because I was a server once too, and it’s not hard to remember what was involved in a customer experience job. I wake up everyday at the top of my love for you. And then you forget to buy the garbage can again, or print off the movie tickets, or you bring home the light mayonnaise even though I specifically asked you NOT to get the light mayonnaise, for reasons that don’t need to be stated here. I’d say you’re lucky if you’re getting a base tip of 15% by lunch time.
Thursday July 7, 2016 at Starbucks
Cranes and Egrets
I will meet you there at our favourite spot
the one where we feel like we’re in our own little world
early in the morning before the rest of the ones who need the sun
even see it
where the water is still
where the sail boats line up so perfectly
camping on the ocean
When you need to remember why we chose each other
when you need to feel big in your smallness
I will always.
I will meet you there
at our favourite spot
where the moments feel full
and little ducks rest on rocks
the one where we’re one
with each other
and with the sky
Wednesday July 6, 2016 at Starbucks
When I touch you; Peter Ilyanov
Behind your kiss I can feel
the thing you’re trying desperately
not to ask me.
Did you do it?
Would you do it?
Do you still love me?
Am I enough for you now
that you’re bigger
than you used to be?
Don’t ask don’t tell;
maybe something I taught you,
maybe something you taught me.
But your lips leak your secret,
parting the seas
every open close pucker and smack.
parts the seas for the truth
or begging me to swim.
I watch you sometimes
from behind my eyes,
searching for meaning
and a reason.
Do I need to answer everything
Have you never looked
for something you need?
Will you ever be enough
Your tongue licks and flicks
all the possibilities of honesty
to the roof
Behind your kiss,
there is a flood coming.
Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies;
maybe something you taught me,
maybe something I taught you.
Tuesday July 5, 2016 at Starbucks
In Search of Agamemnon
Bruce F. Fairley
Cut to me, 4 years old–MAYBE 5– and all the tiny humans in Mrs. Beliveau’s class have just come back from an assembly. We don’t have enough time to learn anything, not that we really ever did, so Mrs. B. tells us we can play on the structure if we can change as quickly as possible into our gym clothes. I see no one is on the structure and for some reason today I need to be the first one. So I strip down and throw on my shirt and I go running up to Mrs. Beliveau to ask her if I may “board the spaceship” (because we were in kindergarten and that’s what we called it, even though it looked nothing like a spaceship)and she looked down at me and said, “you may, as soon as you have some pants on.” And I looked down and I was standing there in my orange-starred underwear, in front of everyone, made to be aware of shame for the first time in my tiny life. I did whatever Macaulay Culkin got hired for in Home Alone then proceeded to die in slow motion; my face a shade of fire that burned me to death.
Monday July 4, 2016 at Starbucks
Visiting my Sisters
Only had one plan for the entire weekend and that was to roll out of my house and down the hill to the corner store and buy a banana or two and maybe a variety pack of mini travel cereals. Frosted Flakes. Had some nostalgia for times past, for the flavours of my youth. I turned off my phone and I bundled myself up in flannel and wool. I didn’t want to see anyone and I didn’t expect to. Hart had been gone for almost a month. He wrote me a letter saying it would be his last and that I should probably do my best to move on and not take the break-up too personally. Okay, Hart, I thought, I will only take it medium-personally. The teenager working the cash was on her phone and I was not in the mood for kindness anyway so it was fine. Then I heard my name being hollered from behind me. I turned around reluctantly and saw Hart’s oldest daughter, Carmen. She was holding a can of creamed corn and carrying a case of Labatt Blue.
Sunday July 3, 2016
Writing Down the Bones
Maybe Shane didn’t want to see you looking all hot cause then he’d realize he’s an idiot for even letting you go! Delia punctuates every word with her straw. She is on her third margarita and I love her like this.
That’s cute, but I don’t buy it, I tell her. I don’t care anyway why am I even talking about Shane! I throw my hands up to the sky as if god or someone else who lives there might know what the fuck I’ve been doing with my life.
Girl, Delia says, you are working through shit. Don’t ever forget how hard that is. Seriously. She slurps the slushy mess from the bottom of her glass and flags down the cute waiter who’s been avoiding us.
We’ll take two more, sweetness, and can you bring my girl here an umbrella or something? Thank you thank you, you’re beautiful.
Saturday July 2, 2016
According to the late night clock on the wall ticking Go To Bed we realized we hadn’t slept since the Rainstorm because you couldn’t fall asleep in the quiet and I couldn’t fall asleep without you. I blamed you then for your sadness. I didn’t know that when you said you were the happiest you had ever been you were trying to manifest happiness because you didn’t have any. I wished you’d stop pretending that it was better on the side of the world where you were left alone, unbothered by me. It made me feel like and onion in an apple patch, a melody in the silence. I made you a card with a picture of a heron because of that one day when we owned the beach before sunrise and saw three of them in a line like an omen for good future, or good luck, or good observation skills.
Friday July 1, 2016
Trapped in the Mirror
It’s no secret that she loved him. She did. She used to. She used to love him. He was good to her the way chocolate is good to you: All instant validation and no nutritional Value. I wish I didn’t know him. But I loved her. I do. I love her and she loves him. Loved. Used to. I look at him now and it makes sense: this whole time I thought he was an alcoholic. Turns out he was a narcissist. I loved him more when I thought he was an alcoholic. I remember him coming to put us to bed one night. He looked like Beetlejuice in the dangerous hallway glow.
Thursday June 30, 2016 at Starbucks
Kit eats her broccoli, raw, cold, all the tiny floret bits getting stuck in her teeth. It looks like she has braces: one green bit in every single one. She waits for Adam to get off the bus at a bus stop that has frequent buses. Each bus thinks she is waiting to go on and so they wait for her, but Kit just keeps eating her raw broccoli even when it starts to rain and even when she gets yelled at by a driver for wasting his time. Kit is waiting for Adam so she can show him around the city. She sent him a map and a circle around this particular bus stop to ensure that he would find it with utmost ease. Kit pulls out her identical copy of the map and draws in a line (right beside the meet up spot) and jots a note: rude, to avoid in future.
Wednesday June 29, 2016 at Starbucks
Says Hurry Up
Says Whatchu Waiting For?
Says Hurry Up
Hands me a shovel and tells me I have to and if I won’t do then I won’t do anything else today, no eating, no running, no laying down, no reading. So I do because I want to do other things but I don’t want to dig. My arms are weak from all the lifting he made me do yesterday. He sits back and watches me work while he chews on a piece of straw and rocks back and forth saying, That’s Nice, and Good, and, Very Good. The last time I tried to run away he sent his dogs. So I don’t threaten to head to the fence anymore. He wants to keep me right where he can see me. I don’t want to dig but his face is sweaty and mean today. I have to. I have to.
Says Hurry Up
Says I Like Watching You Drip
Says Thank You
Says I’ll Show You How Thankful I Am