Saturday February 9, 2019
From a voicemail message
I miss you. I’ll start by saying that. I’m listening to an old tape of you snoring. I used to hate you for it when we shared a room. Recorded you one night to show you just how loud it was. Now all I’m wishing for is to hear you breathe again. I wouldn’t care if it kept me up this time.
I’ve been thinking about you lately. Someone asked how I was doing as if it hasn’t been a lifetime since you left. I fucking miss you every day. Maybe I should have said that. I said, Things are good for me. And they are, you know, most days. I’m working so much you’d be real proud. Wish you could see how much better my chops are now.
Anyway, I know you’re with me so I’m not here to whine. Send me a rumble when you think of it.
Saturday February 2, 2019
I don’t talk to him anymore and I’ve found peace with that. It took time. I’m patient. I’ve learned how to be patient. I don’t talk to him because what’ the point. It doesn’t matter that he’s my brother. The only thing we have in common is blood, and even that’s debatable. We have the same mother, but I’ve always had a theory that his curly hair and jawline aren’t Dad’s, they aren’t anywhere, they are from – … Nevermind. I digress. I haven’t spoken to Tom since Christmas 2003. Mom insisted that Cheryl and I bring the kids to Saratoga Springs and eventually I caved. Cheryl was ambivalent, to say the least. We got there and had a nice meal. Everyone was getting along. Stella was starting to talk and Mom was losing it over how cute she was. Then there’s a knock at the door and my stomach felt like it was bottoming out. I knew it was him. Mom looked all pretend surprised and, “Who could that be?!” and of course it was Tom.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Overheard at Platform 7
A: You know Kenny?
A: When’d you meet him?
B: At the gym…
A: Did you hang out a lot?
B: Why are you givin’ me the third degree here, man? I just came in to get a coffee.
A: Do you know who I am?
B: No idea.
A: Kenny’s little brother.
B: Ok, nice to meet you. Excuse me –
A: Kenny’s been gone since Friday.
A: No one’s seen him.
B: He said that –
A: You were the last person to speak with him.
B: Yeah, we spotted each other Friday morning.
A: What did you do with his body, huh?
B: Excuse me?
A: I know you know our secret.
B: What are you fucking talking about?
B: I’m calling the cops.
A: I am the cops.
A: Happy Monday, Benjamin. Happy fuckin’ Monday.
Saturday June 25, 2016
Weddings from the Heart
I haven’t packed a bag in a long time. I don’t really know where I’d go, so I don’t do things that get me going. Matt will have been gone for exactly a year tomorrow. We’re having a mass for him even though he hated church. Mom is always there these days. She says she has a lot to repent about and just wished she could have done it before. She thinks she could have saved him with prayer. I haven’t thought about leaving home since he killed himself. Maybe because I had been away so long and if I were close by, or closer, he wouldn’t have felt so alone. I guess we all blame ourselves for him being gone. I wish the same thing as my mother, that I could have changed my ways sooner. Only in my case that I would have been less selfish and had the foresight to know the repercussions of moving away from home and leaving your kid brother to fend for himself.
Wednesday November 12, 2014
From a text from Bec
How’s it going? How was Jenny’s birthday? Party town balloon time?! I wish I could’ve been there. I miss you sooooooooo much. Like, you don’t even know. It sucks being here. My Dad is cool and my Mom is trying her best not to be a bitch but my brother? Oh my god. I honestly think that he’s an undiagnosed sociopath. Like, fully. He’s collecting dead bugs and archiving them on his wall. The wall of his room. My Mom says, “Leave him be…” as though there’s nothing weird going on at all. And he is totally obsessed with video games. He has a TV in his room now and sometimes he doesn’t even come out for meals. Mom leaves food outside his door like he’s in prison. It’s so weird. If I didn’t have Denny’s I would shoot myself in the head. But, I’m saving money, so that’s good. I guess. Ever since that DUI my parents aren’t helping with tuition so… I have to do what I have to do. I don’t want to be a bum my whole life so I have to finish this stupid degree.
Sunday October 26, 2014
from the early draft of a screenplay
He’s in the passenger and he adjusts the radio and you snap. “What the fuck?” He retracts his hand. He leaves it. He turns to you and starts to say something and then turns back, eyes on the dusty road. It’s Cat Stevens. Anyone who changes the station when it’s Cat Stevens isn’t invited. “I need to pee,” he says, twelve kilometres later. You sigh and he looks at his hands. He’s been biting his nails again. “No problem,” you soften. You need a Diet Coke, anyway. “Sorry, I’m just nervous,” you say. “Me too,” he says and then you feel worse than you felt when you heard the news.
Monday September 29, 2014
Jess’ imagineNATIVE tote
He was a Thunderbird, at least that’s what his brother called him. “Hey, Thunderbird! Get down here – waffles are on the table!” “Hey, Thunderbird! Open your damn door, I need to ask you something!” “Thunderbird! Don’t be an asshole!” He didn’t think anything of it until Rosemary, his biology buddy, came over to work on their project on starfish. She had freckles like he’d never seen, some of them connecting to make one big freckle, right on her nose. He wanted to touch them, to see if they felt different than regular skin, but he didn’t dare. She was like an eleven year old Charlton Heston, and he didn’t want to get shot. “Why does your brother call you “Thunderbird”?” She asked, wrinkling that nose. He didn’t have an answer. He didn’t know why. He was quiet. “Let’s make our model today, I’m tired of writing,” he said.
Tuesday May 27, 2014
Maybe it’s because a butterfly is currently sitting on my knee, or because my baby brother got accepted into med school, or because my older brother just flew his first plane by himself. Maybe it’s because life keeps astounding me and I can’t keep up with how good it all is. I broke up with Massi because he was begging me to move to Milan and live there with him while he relaunched his sculpting business. He called it a business so I would feel more secure in moving my entire life to a place I’d have to completely start over. New bank accounts, new driver’s license, new language, new food, new government, new phone plan. Not to mention Massi was a busy man and I’d see him probably 3 times a week if I was lucky. He told me saying no was an admission of defeat for our relationship and for my existence and he said it in such an Italian way that I almost believed him. But he was wrong. I was not giving up on me. I was giving up on the idea that I needed to please someone else. And so maybe it’s because for the first time I’m living independently. Maybe that’s why I’m so happy.
Wednesday April 23, 2014
Wendy had a thing for counting. She counted the stars visible from her bedroom window, she counted the number of steps it was her room to Park’s room, from her room to any room, really, and from the basement to the attic. Even numbers were her favourite. Sometimes she’d count again just to make sure she didn’t count wrong because those odd numbers always seemed so odd. Wendy was also very interested in grouping objects in front of her in categories. She grouped gum wrappers according to life story, bread crumbs, according to size, and pennies according to amount of dirt. She was interested in organizing these things and everything, and Park made it very difficult for her because he had a personality that refused to be contained. Park couldn’t even remember his own birthday. He was a disaster of a 3 year old. Wendy tried to teach him the basics but Park was a bit of an idiot and would just wander off into walls and burst out in hysterical laughter. Wendy never understood why he didn’t just count the steps from the coffee table to the kitchen– That way he wouldn’t have that stupid problem every time of banging into something so clearly avoidable.
Wednesday April 23, 2014
I was the kinda kid that wanted freckles, I wanted to be better at football and I wanted parents that cared enough to stick around. My Nana raised my brothers and I. She was the kinda lady that always had a bed for you and some leftovers staying warm in the oven. My Dad was busted for some criminal activity at the lounge he was managing and had to spend sixteen months in a minimum security prison. My Mom was “following her heart” and find Jesus on some farm in the Midwest. My oldest brother Donny went on a lot of dates. He was only allowed to go out on Fridays and Saturdays, though, so he had a wait list of girls… Or so he said. I’d watch him get ready, clenching his jaw as he looked at himself in the mirror, rubbing hair gel between his palms and smoothing it over his head. Donny wasn’t even the best looking of all of us, but he tried the hardest. He spent an hour lifting weights and doing pushups and sit ups in his room every night before bed. I knew it because Paul and my room was next to his and Karl’s and we could hear his grunts and he struggled and counted – “fifty six, fifty seven, fifty eight…”
Monday April 7, 2014
from a GoodLife Fitness sign
The clock on the stove reads eleven fifty three. Marge wasn’t able to make the book club today because Bruce was in the hospital with pneumonia. That just left Irene and Nina. They’d never really liked one another, these two women, with greying hair and slender frames, but they respected their differences and were civil and friendly. “But we aren’t friends,” Irene told Brent, as she folded the laundry and he ironed his ties. See the three ladies of the Iroquois Falls Book Club, Marge, Irene and Nina, were married to the Morningstar boys – Bruce, Brent and Bobby. If they were going to be sisters, they might as well connect through the one thing all three of them truly loved – books. They took turns choosing which book they’d read each month – Marge gravitated towards quirky stories of redemption, Irene preferred non-fiction with a political bent and Irene was partial to historical fiction. They’d grumble through the first chapters of a book they thought they’d hate, but then, part-way through, each would realize they had something to learn from it they had something to learn from one another. They took turns hosting, although between May and September, the Book Club often ended up being at Irene and Brent’s place, as they had the nicest garden, buzzing with bumble bees and smelling of wild flowers and lavender. In the warm months, the three women would sit outside on the deck, shawls over their shoulders so they didn’t burn, sunglasses perched on their noses.
Friday March 14, 2014
Nelu’s Birthday Card
Once, you drew a few lines and had your mother title it because you didn’t know how to write words yet, you hadn’t yet discovered that words are the same shapes you were already making, but put together like a puzzle, and you called those few lines “birth”. Your mother tried not to laugh because she didn’t want to shame you, she wanted to only love you, she didn’t feed your sugary cereal or ice cream and only let you have pie on special occasions, she put you to bed at seven thirty and made your older brother speak in a whisper until it was his bedtime. Bless you mother and the overflowing bounty of her market basket, market on Saturday mornings, coming home with nasturtium flowers and purple kale and fresh rye bread and coffee that was only for the adults, only for her and Jermaine. Once, you drew a flower and had your mother title it and you told her to call it “death”.
Tuesday March 11, 2014 at Sambuca Grill
the to.night street box
Charlie and Ray were spying on Lacey again from their bedroom window. Lacey’s room was in perfect view of the boy’s room and they got real good at sitting in the complete darkness just waiting for Lacey to come home from violin practice and..you know..change for bed. Charlie saw her first, and as such was very protective. Charlie knew that Ray was just eager to see her lady business and he didn’t actually appreciate Lacey the way he did..the way she deserved.
Ray was under the influence of her spell binding, maturing body…parts…and he could tell that Charlie was maybe gay or just plain stupid if he turned his face away every time she took her top off. Ray was certain that he would have Lacey to himself one day soon because it looked like Charlie was getting bored of her, always conveniently finding a crossword or a weather clipping from the nightly newspaper to pay attention to just when it was getting good.
Sunday February 2, 2014 at The Fringe Creation Lab
these five minutes: writer’s workout
They were brothers–not really–well, really, but not really. Not blood. Just blood brothers in expression–when you open up an old paper cut, or scratch a patch of skin back to make it bleed–rub your wounds into each other’s and promise something of yourselves to the other. For example: I’ll always be there for you, man. Or: No matter what, bro, no matter what.
It feels like when two dudes do this kind of thing they also automatically repeat key phrases like the MSP on a triple A baseball team…Atta boy, atta boy.
TJ and Sam were like that–only contrary to common belief, they didn’t say anything when their blood was mixing together. They both closed their eyes and just felt it. TJ and Sam had that kind of bond where they could sit in an open space with their blood dancing–with another guy’s blood, and feel a connection without having to say “No homo” just to ease the silence, the magic. They gave it its space–they gave their blood a minute before they said a single thing.
Wednesday November 13, 2013
25 Insights on Becoming a Better Writer
Jocelyn K. Glei
Bob opens the bottom drawer of his father’s desk. A pile of papers, as high as three phonebooks. Bob takes each sheet out and makes piles according to type. He’s glad be inherited the organized genes from his Mother. Bills, bank statements, letters, newspapers, clippings, photographs. He’s sitting on the floor, cross-legged, when Brian arrives. “I’m in the study!” Bob calls. Brian is growing a moustache for Movember. The guys at the club all did it together last year and Brian said it was dumb, but then felt left out. Bob forgets what the whole thing is about. “Holy shit,” says Brian, seeing his brother surrounded by a fortress of paper piles, seeing his brother sitting on the floor, legs folded like the hot yoga teacher at the Y. “Not only does Dad not have a will,” says Bob, matter-of-fact, “he hasn’t filed a single thing since Mom died.”
Monday, October 28, 2013 at Lit Espresso Bar
“Real life and other tall stories”
The Wednesday Review
For calling our mothers
for teaching our brothers
for truthing to others
for admitting our druthers
for waiting in lines
for talking in rhymes
for singing in time
for drinking with limes
for laughing at jokes
for helping out folks
for ignoring pokes
for avoiding mean blokes
for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers
for cuddling the wee ones
for including the shunned ones
for smiling at the sad ones
for hoping for the worst ones
for asking good asks
for doing good tasks
for not wearing masks
for stocking the flasks
for reading books
for cautionary looks
for challenging crooks
for cleaning the nooks
for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers
for calling our mothers
Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at Brooklyn College
Super Fish Thorpe
How are you being so fucking calm! What the fuck? I found your passport. I found your hiding spot. I found the letter and the blow and your stupid knife! Vinny! Listen to me! I, I… You said you weren’t going back there. You fucking promised. Now, I’m all, I’m all homeless and you’re… you’re fucking around with those dumb, cross-eyed brothers! I don’t care if it’s over and we’re, we’re… over! You made a promise! They’ve got nothing for you. All they’ve got is trouble, and that bubbly water that’s not even good for you. People think it’s fancy but I heard someone say that it’s not. It upsets your stomach. Vinny. Okay. I’m, I’m going to pick up Gio from swimming class. When I get back I want you to have some kind of cool and collected response for me. You’ve got, like, forty five minutes. Get it together.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
from the Dawn to Earth pamphlet
I left the city. Bunny came with me. He got his own seat on the bus and everything. He didn’t cry much, only once when we stopped and we didn’t get to buy a chocolate bar. I told him it would be better where we were going. Better than Hal trying to get us to eat cheese from a can and Mommy laughing at the empty bottles. I told him that Babar would never make us do the stack of dishes. All I knew was that Babar lived in Fance. I figured France must be close to London. I knew we could take a bus to London because I’d seen it on the Departure screen when we’d gone to St. Thomas to visit Aunt Ashley at Christmas. I told Bunny how Babar would treat us like princes and we still might have to share a room, but it would be so big we wouldn’t even notice. Bunny just looked at me like, “Drool”.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
The Lost Hotels of Paris
You tie your shoelaces very tight this morning. They break. You curse God. It’s not God’s fault but… Whatever. God forgives you. You see the memory before you, playing in sepia-tone, the memory of your older brother teaching you how to tie up the laces of your hockey skates. He was gruff about it, as usual, but caring, too. He kept repeating, “The bunny-ears, goddamnit…” He sat with you, on the bench, as you tied and re-tied. He cursed, but he sat. He didn’t circle the rink doing his fast stops or skating backwards. When you finally got it, tying your skates up perfectly six times in a row, he bought you some watery hot chocolate from a machine where he put in a loonie and a cup ejected.
Saturday May 4, 2013
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
I guess I was mad at him, that’s why I didn’t calm him on his birthday? I debated it, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I forgot the day or anything. I’m good with dates and people’s faces so that’s not usually my style to, you know, to do something like that. It just felt a bit outside myself to really hold back from it. But he was being kind of unmanageable so I was trying to teach him a lesson about life maybe, or about me. He wished me one even though he hated me that year. But I guess I was too mad to even let myself do it.
I should have now. I’m feeling nothing but guilt about the whole thing. I was fine the first two minutes of my decision but…I’m afraid you don’t just come back from that…when your only living family member doesn’t even wish you a happy birthday. Wow. You know? You just stop to think, is it all worth it, do I really want to die on this hill? That’s what my friend Redding always says, and he’s right. You have to pick your battles, don’t you? Why would I have to go ahead and pick that to do to him. I guess I’m proud, or stubborn. I got that from my father. He got the whole forgiveness thing from my mother so I’m hoping he still has that.
Thursday, January 3, 2013 at Starbucks
metro Thursday January 3, 2013
Joseph S. Nye, JR.
Joining forces to save the world, Alyssa and Katherine wore matching tunics and shared socks so each would have one of the other’s.
The girls decided that they would act as the school yard’s protective service when Alyssa’s little brother was shoved off of the play structure last Tuesday at recess and broke his collar bone.
Alyssa went to Katherine, crying, saying “That was my fault. I should have been there.” Katherine didn’t yet know that something like this had already happened to Alyssa.
Her brother almost died when he was 3 because the two of them were playing hide and go seek and the little
boy hid himself in the dryer.
Alyssa said it again then, “I should have been there.”
Katherine wanted to stop the bullying, but she also wanted to help her friend who seemed to always take these occurrences so seriously.
The girls walked around the perimeter of the school yard, hand and hand and didn’t speak a single word. They watched intently, Katherine squeezing Alyssa’s hand very now and again just in case.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
the 2012 Ontario Parks Guide
During the spring, when the caterpillars begin their astonishing transformation from larvae to butterfly, my brother locks himself in his basement apartment with his diabetic tabby-cat, William. He’ll emerge in the Fall, once mornings are chillier again, and he will look far worse for wear. His skin will be jaundice and patchy and his beard will be untrimmed and scraggly. The whites of his eyes will be tinted with grey. Every year it reminds me how much the sun gives us – not just the miracle of rising and setting every day – but every sort of colour. Flora and fauna, alike, rejoice in the suns brilliance. The chrysalis, the magical cocoon, holds unbelievably promise, yes? I’ve learned to regard my brother as such, although, at the end of the warmer months, he’s hardly a monarch. His cocooning is due to debilitating pollen allergies that even the strongest over the counter pharmaceutical can’t treat.