“thinking maybe you threw it all away” by Sasha on her couch

Thursday September 27, 2018
10:22pm
5 minutes
When A Guy Helps You Out
Cary Tenn

At the back of the club it’s dark and smoky. She leans against the wall. Shirley is in the bathroom, pissing or doing a line. Shirley is wearing a faux fur vest and a silver tub dress. Shirley made jokes about abortion on the way, on the bus, and she wanted to “shush” her, but she didn’t. Deep bass that she feels in her guts, in her spine. A guy with a beret tries to catch her eye and she evades. She looks up. She waits for Shirley.

“you should have asked me nicely” by Sasha on her couch

Monday September 24, 2018
10:04pm
5 minutes
Overheard on the 4 bus

I stand up and I feel his eyes on me. I walk towards the bathroom and then turn around. I’m not going to take this shit.

“Do you have something that you need to say to me?”

“Uh,” he looks at his buddies like I’m the creep.

“You’ve been staring at me for over an hour. I’m trying to enjoy my book and my beverage, and all I feel is your eyes baring a whole in every vulnerable part of my body. Have some respect. Stop fucking looking at me.”

“Is it that time of the month?” Buddy A winks.

“My menstrual cycle is far too important to enter this conversation.”

“he lowered the drink onto the table,” by Julia at New Waves

Tuesday September 18, 2018
1:02pm
5 minutes
Candy Cap Magic
Jocelyn Kuang

It’s a shot to the knee
not the heart
The heart would stop
The knee would keep screaming
What are you supposed to do without your knee?
Get good at reading
Get good at writing at the bar with another beer
another beer
You’re never going to be better than this
pour another
keep your tab open
a shot to the liver to
keep the knee from reminding you it’s there
Bring a book and black out all the lines that have you in them
turn the pages into a diary of the wasted major organs
the wasted time and delusions
all those prayers to the wrong god
all that for nothing
When they tell you you’re meant to be more
it’ll be too late
Tilt your head back and chase the bottom of the glass
You would lick it clean if your tongue were long enough
If you were good at something
The knee isn’t dead
the heart is sick
the throat is never dry

“gros bisous!” by Sasha on her balcony

Monday June 25, 2018
9:36pm
5 minutes
​from an e-mail​

Mike makes eyes at me across the bar and my stomach drops. Am I going to shit my pants?! FUCK. I go to the bathroom. Pull down my shorts. All good. All safe.

“Why are you so weird around him?” Bec asks and I just hit her on the arm a bit harder than usual.

“Hey Alison, how’s it goin’?” Why does he come here? Why does he do this? Why is he here? Take. Me. Away. I vacate my body and I fly above us and I see how I’m sweating in every crevice and he’s salivating and we’re both remembering.

“When do you go back to London?”

“Not until August… We still got time…”

“You never had my time – “

“I beg to differ – “

“Fuck you.”

“Woah…”

Bec comes over and all she heard was the “fuck” part she didn’t hear the rest she didn’t hear the thunder.

“literally naked, mopping, and crying ‪at midnight‬” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday June 3, 2018
10:55pm
5 minutes
Quoted by Sienna Miller

Mopping the floors at the end of the night is my favourite part of running a bar. I used to like the conversations that I’d have with customers – giving advice about unruly preteens, counselling on break-ups, weighing in on the best marinara recipe. That used to be my favourite part. But things change, we change. Now, after two, once everyone has left, I turn the music up loud. Maybe Sade or Tina Turner. Whitney if I’m feeling extra. I fill the bucket with water and a few drops of soap. It gets really sudsy. I’ve already put all the stools and chairs on top of tables. I dance with the mop and sing and take my time. I take my time.

“Can we burn something, babe?” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday November 23, 2017
11:29pm
5 minutes
Love On The Brain
Rihanna

Larry drinks a macchiato sitting at the bar drawing hangmen on a napkin waiting for Liz to arrive. She’s notoriously late. He’s spoken to her about it twice and each time she says that she’s sorry and that she’s trying to change. Maybe it’s because his father was in the army and if he was ever late for anything he’d get a slap on the side of the head maybe it’s because his father loathed him most of all more than his three brothers and one sister. He fumes. He checks his phone again and nothing from Liz nothing from Liz only the same old time and date and three unread emails he’s avoiding from work fucking Cathy and her meeting notes fuck fuck fuck.

“Has it really been almost 100 years” By Julia at Gene


Friday December 11, 2015 at Gene Coffee
1:51pm
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

Hard to believe she hasn’t come back to get her coat yet, it’s the dead of winter! After all these years of doing coat-check, it STILL surprises me that some people don’t think to call the last venue they went to to even inquire about a missing jacket in x size, x style, x cetera. Some people don’t remember how they got home the night before so to them they think their coat could be literally anywhere. But the ones who know for sure they left it at an establishment and DON’T CALL must be very embarrassed about something because they sure as hell don’t want to show their face the day after a holiday party or a bachelorette. I have held one beige coat, size small, trench style belt, for almost 100 years now and still nobody has claimed it. So I have decided that if it’s still hanging in my coat check come the new year, I’m going to take it home. I’ve been eyeing it. And there are cameras in the coat check room so once I even turned off all the lights and tried it ON. Now I know it fits. It would be useful to me. Not just theft to thieve! But! There’s a chance that someone might still come back for it and how awful would it be to have just taken someone’s jacket right before it was about to be reunited with its owner.

“Violence faces” by Sasha on her couch


Sunday October 4, 2015
11:23pm
5 minutes
from a tweet from the Green Party of Canada

Why did I sit in the window of this place? I’m not sure why you’re running. You aren’t wearing appropriate footwear. I watch you, hair flying, on the verge or tripping, drooling, crying? You’re coming towards me. You’re coming in. You open the door.

I’ve only had violent impulses twice in my life, not counting right now. Your desperation is thick like cream cheese icing. Don’t dip your finger in.

I pretend I don’t see you. You spot me and squint. I have exceptional peripheral vision. You pretend you don’t see me, too. I hadn’t seen Jake sitting in the back of the bar.

“Like eagle rounding out the morning” by Julia at her desk


Monday May 4, 2015
10:57pm
5 minutes
from a poem by Joy Harjo

Claire has her big day today. She rubs fresh mint on all her pressure points before she leaves the house. No stress, she breathes, no stress today. Claire is wearing the blouse her oldest sister, Amelia, gave to her on her 30th birthday, the black pendant necklace her father rescued from the sewer, her favourite blazer with the three buttons, and the underwear her grandmother used to poke fun at, saying, these ones for special party nights, these ones keep separate from comfy big and bad ones. She had been meditating all morning, humming softly to herself attempting to prepare for the news and the meaning of something this important. She had hunted down the perfect bar for when she receives the news she was hoping for, but also the perfect bar in case she is denied the thing that she wants most in this world.

“a very small quantity of mud” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Tuesday December 2, 2014
8:06pm
5 minutes
Cartapaglia notebook

We’re sittin’ there, at the bar and she’s crunchin’ peanuts an’ makin’ a stack of the shells an’ I been keepin’ my distance but like… So, I turn to her an’ I say, “Nice haircut.” An’ she turns real slow an’ says, “I didn’t get any haircut.” An’ I feel like an idiot, right, like, I coulda sworn something was different about her. She’s drinkin’ that Okanagan Springs, right, so I say to the bartender, “Give ‘er another,” an’ she says, “No,” No?! I’m tryin’ ta buy a beautiful woman a drink! She hops off ‘er stool an’ she says, “You know what, dipshit? I can buy my own drinks! Yeah! I have a J-O-B. I probably make more money than you do! What do you think’s gonna happen, you’re gonna buy me a drink and I’m gonna fall for you? Or give you a pity handjob or somethin’? No fuckin’ thanks!” An’ she goes over to the shuffleboard an’ starts saltin’ the table. My, my, my hands are shakin’, you know what I mean? Thank Christ Tom was takin’ a leak ‘cuz he woulda laughed his ass off…

“It was probably so hard not to slap him” by Sasha at Higher Grounds


Monday December 1, 2014 at Higher Grounds
5:04pm
5 minutes
A text from Katerina

It was probably so hard not to slap him when he turned to you and said, “I’m in love with her. What do you want?” It’s not even a question. Rhetorical or otherwise or whatever. It’s not even a question. If you knew what you wanted you wouldn’t be here, popping peanuts like happy-pills and trying to unbraid and re-braid your brain. Your fingers are cramping like the history teacher you had in eleventh grade who’d had to retire in his forties because he couldn’t grip chalk anymore his hands were so arthritic. You watched him watch her, all bounce, all vapid face, all out and in and out again. He approaches her and she shrugs him off like a spaghetti noodle and he takes his seat again, at the bar, beside you, and he curses you for finishing the peanuts.

“I don’t want to find myself” by Sasha in her garden


Saturday August 16, 2014
4:58pm
5 minutes
a poem by Mary Oliver

When the song ends, she smiles. She brushes hair from her face. She shrugs when asked is she wants another drink. She takes out her phone and she looks at it. She turns it off and on. She thinks about that song from Ally McBeal Ooga chaka ooga chaka and she furrows her brow, wondering where that might’ve come from. She checks twitter. She thinks about what to say. She thinks about whether of not she should write something about that song. She decides against it.

“she wasn’t even funny” by Julia on her couch


Saturday May 31, 2014
1:49am
5 minutes
overheard on queen st west

So I met Brendan’s new girlfriend on Saturday night, cause I accidentally got dragged out to a bar and had to put on high strappy shoes. Tamara said it would be good for me to get out of the house and stop telling myself I was being productive if all I was really doing was reading old e-mails that Brendan sent me while I was in Ottawa last fall. I told Tamara that they were beautiful expressions of love and youth and she didn’t have to understand. She didn’t understand or care to, so instead she kidnapped me with a tube of bright red lipstick and forced me to wear eye glitter. So we’re waiting at the bar and it’s as if I had a sixth sense that it was him, and I looked to the door and Brendan was walking in with a tiny little tanned girl on his arm. She was wearing a ball-cap and had big hoop earrings. She was pretty. She was smaller than me. I adjusted my skirt and told Tamara that I had to leave. No, she told me, I’d have to stay cause I was here first, it was my home field. Then of course, me trying to avoid him for the first 20 minutes made it more awkward when he actually came up to me with his tiny new arm piece in tow. The first thing I said was, I hate this bar! It’s filled with insecurities and perfume designed by washed-up celebrities. Brendan laughed but his little toy didn’t. I was relieved that at least she wasn’t funny too.

“Until everyone finished performing” by Sasha on the subway going East


Wednesday May 21, 2014
11:51pm
5 minutes
winnipeglive.ca

Marion knew it was her turn. She finished her warm beer. She closed her eyes. She took a deep breath. She tried to smooth her frizzy hair. It was so hot in there that she felt pools of sweat forming under her bum, under her breasts, under her fingernails. She wished that she hadn’t asked Sebastian to come. She wished she hasn’t said, “Sure!” when he asked if he could bring his roommate, Alice. “Now everyone’s gonna know I’m terrible…” She muttered. Sebastian leaned over and whispered, “You’re gonna be great!” She almost threw up but swallowed it. She saw her guitar, sitting by the stage like a bad omen. She knew it was her turn, but she couldn’t bring herself to move. “You’re up, Marion!” said Sebastian. She stood, bringing one lead leg out in front of the other. “I’m going to fall,” she thought, “I’m going to fall going up the three stairs just like Jennifer Lawrence but no one is going to think I’m charming or adorable…”

“rock ‘n’ roll-tinged bar chatter.” by Sasha on the Queen Streetcar


Thursday May 8, 2014
4:03pm
5 minutes
Washington Flyer
May/June 2014

“I want you to come out to McIsaac’s,” my Dad said and I was confused because he didn’t drink and last I heard, he didn’t frequent dive bars to talk to girls my age. “Okay?” I said. “May 8th. At nine thirty… It means a lot to me, Allison.” He said. I usually play soccer on Thursdays but I was so curious that I asked Nadine if she’d take my spot. When I arrived, the bar was dim and the people there were older than I had expected. I didn’t see my Dad anywhere. I looked over to the far side and saw someone tuning a guitar, dressed in boots, jeans, a plaid shirt and a hat. I ordered a beer. There was a “tap tap” on the microphone and the chatter died down. My Dad stood under a single spotlight. He said, “Thanks for coming, ya’ll… Especially my daughter Allison Daisy. Light of my life.” I sat on a barstool and listened to my Dad play. I never knew he even liked country music.

“rock ‘n’ roll-tinged bar chatter.” by Julia at Washington Dulles Airport


Thursday May 8, 2014
2:17pm
5 minutes
Washington Flyer
May/June 2014

Through the crowded space I could see her sitting at the bar with her sleeves pulled down right over hands. Hiding. Fiddling. I wanted to scoop her up right then and there and free her of her timid isolated prison and tell her, woman you don’t need to run away. The world wants you. She had two shot glasses lined up in front of her and was crashing them into each other, getting tiny splashes of the glass remnants onto her sleeves. The local band had started to play their set and everyone was moving closer to the stage. She didn’t move. She didn’t even turn. She ordered another shot of nondescript liquor from where I was standing and I could only assume it was vodka because she hated the way gin made her so volatile. She stared at her shot glass for longer than appropriate. I waited, thinking she needed to be alone. But I also felt like she needed to be saved from herself and having another body around just sitting in her silence might help.

“washroom of the bar” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Thursday February 27, 2014
3:18pm
5 minutes
spiderwebshow.ca

“Amy?” I wait and hear nothing. “Amy. I know you’re in here…” Nothing. “Amy. I, I… We just need to talk about this. We can talk this out…” Nothing. And then… “Fuck you, Bridget.” The last stall, the only one that locks. Even though everything my mother taught me about public bathrooms goes against it, I get down on my knees and peer under the stall. Amy is crouched against the non-toilet side. “Our friendship is a fucking lie and I think you should just get the fuck out of here – ” “Come on – ” “I don’t ever want to see you again, Bridget. Seriously.” I didn’t think it was possible, but my heart sinks lower, almost down to my ass. “Amy. You were on a break…” “FUCK YOU!” “We were drunk – “, she stands up and opens the door quickly. It smacks me in the head. I fall backwards. She smiles for a moment, turns on the tap, cups her hands and throws water on me. “I’m so sorry. I love you. I love you more than I’m ever going to love any man… And I don’t love Brandon, I barely even like him…” All of a sudden she looks very sad. She runs up the stairs.

“washroom of the bar” by Julia at Sambuca Grill


Thursday February 27, 2014 at Sambuca Grill
2:55pm
5 minutes
spiderwebshow.ca

I go down, I slip down to the washroom of the bar so nobody notices me. So nobody realizes I’ve gone. I need some alone time and I can’t have that here with these people drinking these cocktails eating these dirty fingered bar nuts. I bring with me my flirty lipstick. I leave my phone in my purse hung over my chair. I don’t tell anyone to watch my stuff cause I don’t want anyone watching my anything. I go down, I slip down to the washroom of the bar so I can look at myself in the mirror and give my head a break. I need to see myself sometimes when I’m in a crowded place. When I’m so busy smiling and listening with my whole face that I don’t remember what I look like. I don’t remember what my soul looks like. I’ve got my flirty lipstick. I can hear the bass, I can hear the shriek laughter, the bartender breaking a second glass. I escape. I escape it all. I get into the washroom. The washroom of the bar and I want to stay here for a bit. I finally understand why they call it a ‘stall’.

“Monument Scale Free” by Sasha on the bed at Jo and Pat’s


Wednesday, July 17, 2013
11:41pm
5 minutes
from Julia’s refrigerator magnets

When I first met Dolly I couldn’t believe it was real. I was in a dive bar in Austin, writing the first draft of a children’s book in a three-ringed notebook. I never do my first draft on a computer. Words don’t emerge with fingers hitting a keyboard. They come through the lead of an HB pencil. For me. For me, that’s how it works. I had a pile of peanuts in a bowl beside me, and a half drunk cranberry juice leaving a ring of sweat on the paper table cloth. I was writing, madly, I was on a roll. I saw her sit down at the bar. She ordered a whiskey on the rocks. I knew her voice, I could tell that voice from anywhere, from anyone. I glanced up, trying to be stealthy, again and again. I closed by notebook. I saw a man, an old cowboy in a tall hat and muddy boots with spurs on the back, approach her. I felt protective. “Don’t bug Dolly,” I muttered, under my breath.

“GTA” by Julia at The Common on Bloor


Monday, June 24, 2013 at The Common on Bloor
3:49pm
5 minutes
The Toronto Star

She was leaving the GTA that afternoon, said to me, Darlin’I have to get out of this city. Tipped her wide-brimmed beach hat at me and left the bar after doing a shot of Amaretto. Said she wanted to feel the sweetness on her tongue all the way to the airport. I had never met anyone like Elsa in all the time I’ve been here. She made me question who I was for two short weeks when she forced herself into my life. I don’t know why I was so open to her, so accepting of her UFO believing ways, or her constant reliance on whiskey and pecan butter tarts. Elsa was a mover, a shaker, and somehow that woman knows more about me than I do and I’ve only known her for a brief excerpt of it. Didn’t tell me she would miss me, but she did say that I should check my mailbox before the month was up. Elsa wasn’t going to send me a letter, but a tiny sculpture with the bottom carved out, stuffed with weed, then corked back up again, laying flush against the opening. She didn’t tell me this, but I knew. I knew Elsa better than she knew herself too. Sometimes you meet those kind of people and you don’t need to really keep them with you until you see a bottle of Maker’s Mark on the shelf somewhere.

Water glass, pint glass and a bottle of hot sauce (photo) by Sasha at her desk


Saturday, April 20, 2013
1:32am
5 minutes
Dip!

When I walked in you had your back to me. Your hair was a bit smooshed at the back, like you’d just woken up, or had been lying in the grass. I approached slowly. “Hey,” I said, and you turned, quickly, and I saw that you’d changed. You’d received a few crows-feet wrinkles around your eyes, your curls had a dusting of grey, your lips sloped ever so slightly downwards. You stood up quickly, to hug me, and I thought, for the first time, how strange this custom was – pressing two bodies together, heads over shoulders. Were you holding your breath? You held on. I had initiated the pulling away, but you were having none of it. “It’s been too long,” you whispered. I imagined that your eyes were closed and as I did, you moved your hand across my back, the way my father does. When you were ready, you pulled back and held me at arms length. You drank me in. “You’ve gotten more beautiful,” you say. “I always knew you’d be one of those people that grow into themselves, that get more and more beautiful as they get older,” you continue, red rising in my cheeks from way, way, down. “Stop,” I say, quietly. “No…” You respond. I sit down in the booth, opposite you. You’ve already ordered me a pint of beer. Yours is three quarters done. Only your face has changed, I guess. Your bad habits are rooted.

“adapted for use” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Tuesday, April 9, 2013
11:12pm
5 minutes
101 More Drama Games for Children
Paul Rooyackers


“With a name like that, you’re just asking for it!” He says, this dumb guy with the dumb haircut that all guys seem to have, with that dumb smile that’s really a “I’m coooooool.” “I didn’t choose my name, asshole,” I say, turning around, hoping that Jo will save me. She doesn’t. She’d gone to the bathroom, or out for a cigarette, or is in the alley behind the bar making out with Joaquin, her flavour of the month, sexy but rude, tall but skinny. “Damn,” I whisper. I face forward, face the wall of scotch, bourbon, whiskey, rye. I look down. I think about stealing the few loonies that are there, meant for the bartender, but she was a bitch so who cares. I do. I steal them. Dumb Guy notices and says, “Oh, so you’re that kinda girl.” I pause. I want to hit him but I don’t want to get kicked out so I pause, instead. “What kind is that?” “The stealing kind.” “NO way,” I say, sliding off the stool. “I saw that,” he whispers. “Those dollars don’t belong to you.” “Whatever.” I walk away. I go into the bathroom, graffitied and smelling of Comet and pee. “Jo?!” “Nope – ” says a voice, in a stall. I don’t apologize. Most people would. I’m trying to break that habit. I walk through the bar, a long and lean room, towards the door. Dumb Guy grabs my hand, “Baby, let’s dance.”