“a stretch of road, a write, and birch trees” by Julia at her desk

Sunday April 14, 2019
5 minutes
The Death Of The Partisan Girl
Tom Wayman

It’s that open road song that you’ve been singing
Got that twitch in the eye again, that ache in the toe
Standing too long in front of miniature motor homes again
A look you get caught in the lip when you’re planning our next steps

I’ve been singing louder these days too, and maybe this time we could
make more space for writing a few lines with each other in mind
It’s that open road song that you’ve been singing
Stretch of highway and the yellow lines prove themselves without pushing

We’ve finally found excitement here and to be honest I don’t
want to leave but if you go, I go, and then we’re promising
we’ll put our hearts out there to build from scratch again
All I know for certain is that if we see a new view from behind
the windshield then I’ll start a new notebook and I’ll bring a fresh pen

“shit and eggshell” by Sasha at her desk

Sunday, March 4, 2018
10:01pm
5 minutes
My Life Smells Like This
Amy Bloom

I didn’t expect this place to smell like eggshells and sweat, soup and gasoline, wet sand and morning breath. I didn’t expect you to give me eyes like you understand. I pour myself a glass of red wine, something from Argentina, something in the fifteen dollar range. You’re late, and that’s okay. I need to get my bearings. I snoop around. The kitchen is dirty. The bathroom is clean. The window is open in the lounge, and it’s freezing outside so that means that someone either smoked a joint or took a shit. Maybe both. I didn’t expect this place to have the view that it does. I’m taking it in when I feel your hand on my waist, and your breath in my ear.

“The life and crimes of” by Julia on the 4


Saturday March 18, 2017
12:04am
5 minutes
Exclaim Magazine

I’m not saying that I’m perfect
I’m not saying that
I just remember some things didn’t turn out exactly the way my mom planned
the way my dad planned
that way anyone really hoped things would be
I won’t say I was stupid
But I wasn’t thinking clearly
I was just sort of acting like I knew what was best for everybody
I thought that the entire family’s financial burdens were falling on me because my mom was stuck in her bed too sad to move too mad at herself for all the shit she put us through to go out and get herself cleaned up and get a goddamn job my dad wasn’t around not just because of my mom but because he was really let down as a kid and he never got over that
I’m not saying I’m a bad person because I believe that I was doing what I thought was right at the time but I haven’t made the best choices my younger sister still blames me for not getting into college
my younger brother still thinks that I should have called more adults into the equation

“people who called themselves atheists.” by Julia on her couch


Thursday December 22, 2016
8:25pm
5 minutes
Dust
Charles Pellegrino


I never thought I’d put myself in the very box that I couldn’t for the life of me understand when I was younger. It made sense to my 9 year old brain to put my 9 year old trust in God and scripture and behaving with good intentions. It made sense for me to wake up each day and know my place, this road I was traveling, the one I had chosen wisely. And then maybe it was the lava lamp that put me over the edge. The one Pastor So And So offered up as a prize to the youth who could rally up the most sinners and bring them to Friday night service. I didn’t sign up for a church built out of bribery and attended primarily by a bunch of self-righteous teens. I wanted to find friends who wanted to know the Lord, not who wanted to make religion into an elitist club that only the truly good could be a part of. How is that the point of religion? Aren’t we all good and therefore all bad? I didn’t like giving so much of my youth to an ideology that didn’t want everyone just as we were.

“I do and I don’t” by Julia on the 250


Sunday May 8, 2016
3:59pm
5 minutes
overheard on the 2 bus

By the time I have to decide whether I’ll go and visit Tracey in the hospital, I’ll probably know if Tracey is even still there. Last time I heard from Tanya that Tracey was fighting with her tubes and didn’t want anything “touching her blood”. I told Tanya I would come and relieve her but I didn’t end up going because I am actively avoiding the hospital. Tanya told me not to come if I don’t want to be there but Tina thinks I’m not pulling my weight. She says if I’m not going to come relieve them I should at least give 24 hours notice. Tanya had someone just in case I decided not to so everything was fine and Tina doesn’t scare me. Tina calls me everyday and so I make sure it goes to voicemail. She likes to give all the gory details like “Tracey only has a few good days left” and “you better show up for her” or “Tracey vomited in her sleep because her intubation wasn’t done right”.

“Let’s discover our” by Julia on the 7


Saturday May 7, 2016
7:39pm
5 minutes
from a chef magazine

Let’s discover our soft spots
Our unwants
Our don’t touches
Our yes love this
Let’s discover our truth’s truth
Our hard lost youth
Our who’s who
Tell me about your day dreams
I’ll tell you about my nightmares
Tell me about your battle wounds
I’ll tell you about my big scares
Your scars
My empty jars
Your hopes
My nopes
Your yeses
My catch this
Let’s discover the good and the bad
The moments we never had
The memories that make us sad
The language that holds us together

“for a variety of reasons” by Julia in a car


Friday November 6, 2015
11:45am
5 minutes
Overheard at Moii Cafe

Carmen is sitting on the kitchen sink, banging her feet against the cupboard to the rhythm that she’s humming in her head. Boom badoom, boom boom badoom.
Ely stares at her with a sideways smile and his head cocked to the side. He’s in love with her. She’s the most fascinating thing he’s ever seen in his life.
Carmen feels his gaze but acts like she can’t tell. She pretends to be in her own world. She likes the attention Ely gives her. She likes that he likes her and that she could be bad, or better, and he wouldn’t even notice. She likes that he doesn’t hold her to a particular standard. She likes that he isn’t like everybody else.
Ely wants to kiss her but hasn’t felt like she’s invited him yet. His body remains tense and leaning against the counter. He casts his eyes down when it gets to be too much.
“Are you afraid of me or something?”
Carmen’s legs still going, boom badoom, boom boom badoom.
“Me? No I’m. I’m not afraid of you or something. I’m. I’m not afraid.”
“Well why are you way over there, then?”

“And she put her arms around me,” by Julia on her couch


Tuesday, July 7, 2015
12:12am
5 minutes
A Complicated Kindness
Miriam Toews


My mother hates to see me cry. She doesn’t hate to offer me money, or sneak a 50 in my coat pocket when she thinks I’m not looking, even though she knows those exact things will make me cry, but when I start with the tears, it breaks her abundant heart. She doesn’t want to make me feel bad. She just wants to love me. But I feel bad because I’m self-hating and dramatic, and I cause trouble where there doesn’t need to be. She wishes I could see me how she sees me and that only means so much since I’m her baby and she’d look at me and see Mother Theresa even if I burned an entire nursery school with the children still in it to the ground. I know this because when I told her I had deep, steadfast, secret thoughts about poisoning Auntie Ellis because she scolded me in public one time, she put her arms around me and she squeezed me with so much love that I started to cry. Then she wiped my face with her kisses and said, “I would want to do the same thing if I were you.”

“Thunderbird” by Julia on Jenny and Andrea’s lawn


Monday September 29, 2014
3:41pm
5 minutes
Jess’ imagineNATIVE tote

Roaring at me, this fucking thing. I’m like Beatrice, please, I can’t focus with your teeth in my neck. That’s what it feels like, this fucking thing, screaming so close that her gums might as well be rubbing my ear drums. I could slap her away but that won’t shut her up. Not even a little bit. And I’m not a bad guy. So fucking Yip Yip Yip, but she doesn’t seem to get what I mean. Too abstract, I’m being with her. But this little Chihuahua won’t let up and I’m not in the mood cause I smoked this thing and I don’t even know what it was, but clearly I needed it. Beatrice, I’m like, Beatrice—I think you either need to take a sweet shit or get fucking laid.

“Detour 23” by Julia in a park in Lowertown, St Paul, MN


Sunday Aug 3, 2014
2:21pm
5 minutes
from a Pembina Hwy sign

Of course he left me. I was impossible. I smoked too much. I drank too often. I woke up late. I forgot to dust the underside of chairs, or books, or picture frames. I refused to water our one and only basil plant. I watched it die a slow death everyday by ashing into its pot. I left the TV on throughout the day. I only took long hot showers. I got Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup stains on the couch, the bed, and the wall in the front foyer. I coughed up phlegm and spat it into drinking glasses that were next to me. I dog eared every page in every book he loved. I scratched his DVD player so it no longer worked. I took the car out to the border just so I’d have something to do. I never filled up the tank for when he needed it. I chewed my nails and left the ripped bits on the kitchen table. I swore in my sleep. I never ever thanked him.
Of course he left me. I was impossible. I wanted him to go. Sometimes better people are out there beyond the comforts of “love”.

“Important Numbers:” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Saturday May 10, 2014
12:02am
5 minutes
A 2013 calendar

Every morning when he awoke and every night before going to sleep, Benjamin Franklin would ask himself, “What good shall I do today? What good have I done today?” Every morning when he awakes and every night before going to sleep, James does the same thing. Sometimes, he feels as though he hasn’t done enough good, but he finds solace in the fact that he’s trying, in the simple act of trying to “do good”. Usually, when he wakes up, when he stretches his toes to the footboard, he thinks, “What good shall I do today? I shall give Joe, the homeless man who sits outside the Drugstore a club sandwich from the Deli. I shall ask Maria how her son is doing and if she needs help with organizing her garage for the Street Sale. I shall sign five on-line petitions for causes that I believe in. I shall take my travel mug to work and therefore not waste a take-out cup.” Usually at the end of the day, he’s done two of the four. Not bad.

TJ & Sam by Sasha at the these five minutes: writer’s workout at the Fringe Creation Lab


Sunday February 2, 2014 at The Fringe Creation Lab
1:03pm
5 minutes
these five minutes: writer’s workout

TJ’s got her hands in her pockets like she’s some kinda cool kid, like she forget to lock the door. TJ blows bubbles with her gum and lets them bubbles pop on her own face and then she peels it off, bit by bit, and drops the gum balls on the carpet. When TJ makes a peanut butter sandwich she eats a spoonful of straight peanut butter, straight heart attack. She uses the same spoon for the sandwich. Who makes a sandwich with a spoon, anyway?!

Sam says nothing. He watches her and sometimes makes a small grunting sound. TJ has chosen to forget which sound means “good” and which sound means “bad”. TJ has disentangled herself from those words altogether. It’s all grey to her – the sky, the sidewalk, Sam’s hair, the snow.

“you do it because” by Julia at Nova Era Bakery


Monday May 13, 2013
11:15am at Nova Era Bakery
5 minutes
Wild Mind
Natalie Goldberg


You do it because you like to watch pudgy toddlers purse their chubby faces into a pout and watch the pudgy tears form in their chubby eyes, and then stream down like the Niagara Falls-no end in sight. You pinch. You squeeze too hard–for love. To be loved….
Poor pudgy baby only knows first the pinch, then the ouch, then the inconsolable sadness that follows once the pain sets in. And you will stay there for the duration of this whole progression. Because you want to be the one they run to. Poor pudgy baby. You bend down and scoop them up in your arms and you rock them, singing Shhh shhh, it’s okay, it’s okay, I’m here, into their chubby toddler ears. You hum a lullaby of I’ll protect you, of Don’t worry, of I’ve got you, you’re safe now. You’re not a bad person, but you do love being the one to fix the pudgy baby’s mood, the sadness. You’re the loving face they forget is the same one behind the pinch, then the ouch, then the Niagara Falls.
Your smile and sympathy are as real as your need to save, but it comes from your dark place. No, no. Don’t worry. You’re not a bad person. You do it because you need to.