“take on any city” by Julia on the 99

Tuesday October 30, 2018
6:07pm
5 minutes
A Mercedes-Benz ad

got our bags packed
our walking shoes
makes no difference
to me where we go
with you I cant lose

the salty wind has
been kissing our cheeks
but maybe there’s another
hymn that wants to lull
us to sleep

you’ve decided every
single time but I guess
I’m not the arguing kind
I haven’t been kept up at night so looks like I trust
you babe

There we’ll lean in and
grow into our grandfather skin
treat wednesday night like
sunday morning until we
forget which year it is

cross the path that has
been stepped on many times
by boots of big decision
you and me are going
someday soon

“people are still listing reasons” by Julia on the Red Line

Saturday September 15, 2018
7:55pm
5 minutes
Collaboration: Visual/Written Poetry
Sarah Leavitt & Jen Currin

When the subway ascends and we can see the city, you nudge my shoulder, point my body in the direction of the skyline and the tail lights of all those cars
glowing up the street
You say, look at that.
You’ve been giving me reasons why I should stay and what we could do if we decide to and who we would be if I decide to
They sound like good reasons
The good Mexican food being at the top of the list
You tell me this doesn’t have to happen and I believe the sweet in your eyes when you say it’s not going to move you if we don’t move here
Move lives
Move dreams over to a bigger city that we will surely get lost in
You are good at drinking slowly
Waiting for me to finish swirling the straw and ice around in my glass
But if we move here, you tell me, we will also find ourselves

“Where it pours bean green over blue” by Julia walking home

Friday June 22, 2018
11:26pm
Daddy
Sylvia Plath

I thought I saw you walking toward me
You had headphones on and you were walking a bulldog
You don’t have a bulldog so I knew it couldn’t be you but the face and the beard and the eyes were yours
The same sadness was not doing a very good job of hiding there in the corners
I almost reached out anyway
The whole thing has got me blurry
Seeing you on neck of other men wishing
Watching you look at me like we both know that you’re not in this city but your soul has been hopping
I almost reached out
I almost touched the you that wasn’t
In this way that I do

“itching for Presidency” by Julia on S, G,and E’s patio

Saturday June 16, 2018
11:03pm
5 minutes
The Politician
H.L. Mencken

Watch the sky turn from velvet to suede
The city, whatever the opposite of itching, below
It is easier than it was the last time
The last time I wasn’t myself and still they loved me
The last time I was eating scraps of pizza and noodles and
the one most lie me told her aunt that I ate A LOT of food
I didn’t mean to be so hungry
I was worried about dying and leaving them dead
I am worried about their parents and I wonder where they are

The waxing crescent moon is keeping score tonight
Making sure I don’t rely on all my usual charms
The city can look so beautiful when the light hits it right
I only eat the watermelon cut into slices
I only take a blueberry yogurt and a chicken finger
I am the boss and they know it but they do not care
And I do not make them care
I make them feel important
I tell them they are

“Subway platform walls” by Julia on the 84

Wednesday June 6, 2018
5:35pm
5 minutes
People Revolution
Amani Bin Shinkansen 

I miss a city that knows how to be a city
I think about subway platforms and rats and random conversations with a stranger at the laundromat

I want a city that doesn’t stop living when the snow hits
When the festival is over
I want a city that knows how to make things
Reaches into its pockets and turns lint into lightening, paints the sky magic

I miss a city that celebrates life in the streets with food and music and dancing

I need a city that doesn’t have any height restrictions
If I am going to fling myself off of a building, then let it be a big one

I want the me I am when summer kisses city on the sweaty mouth
I want to kiss it on the mouth

“I take the streetcar alone to Nathan Phillips Square” by Julia on her couch

Friday, May 25, 2018
11:15pm
5 minutes
Demchanizing Our Politics
Maggie Hutcheson 

It is 2009 and I am living downtown for the first time. I am afraid of the streetcar and of this city. Its open heart a pulse I cannot yet dance to. Its screaming life, unimaginable still. I am sitting on the streetcar going east when I am supposed to be going west. I wonder how I got this wrong and why I am sitting this long going in the opposite direction. I learn everything the hard way: feet on the ground and running backwards, the feeling of being lost, an echo of who I am growing out of, slowly. I am riding the streetcar alone and I am in awe of all the people here who know where the water is without looking at it. Who weren’t born here the way I was but who know its secrets the way I don’t. I am home and I am back and I am unsure about how to get anywhere but I am sure that here is where I’m supposed to be. The stop names don’t mean anything to me yet. The voice calling out Nathan Phillips Square blends in with the sidewalks, the hotdog stands, the concrete rushing.

“Resource Recovery” by Julia at her desk

Tuesday May 22, 2018
10:44pm
5 minutes
From an apartment garbage bin

It is as good as bringing Jesus back from the dead
comes with a message and a couple lessons
a few good hugs and whistle tucked at the side of the mouth

Heart strings pulled and twirled around the finger

A lightness of being in a room together without all that unknowing

It is a pulse after a flat line
a dream after insomnia
a hope caught in the wind long enough to blow a kiss at it

The body starts up again after rest
after laying down on the track and wishing

The body breaks free from the wire and builds a blanket fort instead
something soft to land on
something easy enough to lay all the weary and weighted

The sun sets in the sky drawing heat to a close
The shadows paint the city in all their perfect silks and blues and pinks

We eat.

“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.

“We emailed back and forth” by Julia on the 99

Monday November 20, 2017
10:50pm
5 minutes
overheard at JJ Bean

There was an email I sent him once. We were still in high school. I can’t remember if this was before or after Natalie locked us in Denise’s storage room, hoping that we’d have nothing to do in there but make out. I was hoping the same thing. You’d think that after he told me he would do it, but it would mean more to me than it would to him, that I’d get the message and move on to another emotionally unavailable 16 year old, but no. I took it as a sign that he was noble or decent or protective of me even, because he loved me. I have had some serious let downs from thinking I was all that before. The fall is always harder from the great height of delusion.
But this email I sent him was a survey. It was designed for teenagers to flirt with each other, confessing their secrets, disguised as “everybody is doing it so here you go.” He answered my survey. He wrote down what song made him think of me. He said “I was born in a small town”. I thought at the time it was cute. Look how well he knows me. But he didn’t know me. I was born in a bigger city than he was.

“All my creative juices” by Sasha on the couch at Lewis St.


Wednesday June 7, 2017
7:54pm
5 minutes
Overheard at Mercury Espresso Bar

I stop
mid sentence
mid thought
mid moment
in between
mid moment
a monarch
flies over
our heads
I notice
that it’s
been a long time
since I’ve seen one.

A truck honks
it’s horn
the moment
is broken
the butterfly
is gone.

My sister
and I sit
on a brown
blanket on
the grass
her daughter
all blue eyed
wonder.

We talk about
gurus and love
friendship and
motherhood.

“in a less than forgiving city” by Sasha at the table on Monkland


Wednesday September 28, 2016
10:12pm
5 minutes
vancouveractorsguide.com

In a less than forgiving city
where wind catcalls
and frost bites
we pull hoods around ears
so we can’t hear the whining
We trudge passed post apocalyptic nativities
We motor across bridges rife with dead fish
A salamander tries to get your attention
en route to capitalism
en route to mortgages
A salamander calls to you and asks for your heart

“And in the business library” by Sasha on the couch in Swansea


Thursday August 4, 2016
2:04am
5 minutes
The Mariott wifi

toronto is smelly and dirty and
nipples showing
slivered almonds over peaches
over caffeinated over medicated pop
another bottle pop another advil
toronto hurts herself
skinned knees and chapped lips
all of the bruises on wrists and thighs
toronto doesn’t say sorry when toronto
bumps into someone
rolls over toes with a suitcase packed
but nowhere to go
toronto doesn’t drink enough water
drinks too much beer
everyone’s laughing at you and no
one even knows you’re there
in the public library practising other
languages so we can say thank you
and fuck you and please

“starting in the same spot” by Julia at Arbutus Coffee


Wednesday,January 20, 2016 at Arbutus Coffee
2:52pm
5 minutes
overheard at Arbutus Coffee

I can’t write about someone else doing something interesting or brave or great or even good. I physically can’t. Mentally can’t. My body refuses to listen to what someone else is doing, how they’re feeling, who they’re talking to. I have tried, I have erased. I have wondered, I have stopped. I don’t know why other than the fact that I have no choice but to write about myself. I suppose that is a strong enough reason for a writer going through things of her own. Can’t pour from an empty cup or however the saying goes. Put oxygen mask on self before assisting others. Something like that. All these ideas wrapped up in a journal or diary or confession or voice memo. They don’t belong in someone else’s mouth, or phrased in someone else’s diction. I can only put myself on paper, hope it doesn’t bleed through every single page and tarnish the book I’m writing of me. Unclear but honest, I am city girl noise and small town heart, bursting.

“WOMAN SENTENCED FOR BUTT INJECTIONS” by Sasha in her bed


Saturday March 28, 2015
9:39pm
5 minutes
An unknown transit newspaper

The city roars like a lion and she sleeps like a
dove
Wings tucked and coo-ing while feathers reminding us to
look up look down look deeper look through
The island calls with her harp and her pine needles
slugs leaving hope-slime
Will it be enough?
I’ll need to get a driver’s licence
Where do ambition and simplicity meet?
Let’s go there and
bring twelve lemons and our favourite books
One for me
(bell hooks)
One for you
(Dharma Bums)
It’s all we’ll need

“Their smiling faces touched” by Julia at her dining room table


Monday March 16, 2015
5:47pm
5 minutes
Still Alice
Lisa Genova


In the window fog she traced his name with her pointer finger and drew a heart around it. Finding herself rereading the same last paragraph of his letter over and over again, she knew she wasn’t going to rid herself of his memory with any ease at all. She stopped herself for an instant, glanced out into the passing world outside her moving train, and came back into the present moment. She had been talking about him as if he had not only left her, but left this earth all together. Then, a tiny ember of hope flickered inside her. He wasn’t even gone, just away. Just away from her. His final words to her,the ones she’d been revisiting each time without effort, were suddenly so clear to her: “In time we fade and in time we’re built anew.”

“landed immigrants” by Julia on her couch


Friday March 13, 2015
6:39pm
5 minutes
from http://www.banffmediafestival.com

Touch down acquaint orient
Reorient
Find the water
Where’s the water?
Friendly Sir
Morning coffee spill parade
Left then left then left then straight
Breathe in this city
Ask all the hard questions
Where am I going?
Why am I going there?
Fear leads and buries
Don’t follow blind
Don’t assume
Ask all the hard questions
Can you help me?
Can you show me?
South then east then south then east
Home now, a strange word
Invented
Reinvented
Depending on the day
The time
The hour

“nothing has ever summed me up so succinctly” by Sasha on the number 3 bus


Saturday March 7, 2015
6:24pm
5 minutes
from a caitlinjstasey Instagram post

Nothing has ever summed me up so succinctly
The tickle tickle throat of the morning after
The flowers out of their water
On the floor
Beside the table

When I found my father’s secrets
I decided that I’d rather
eat a bag of chips
and make eyes at tall men in bars

It’s lonely here in the biggest city
in the biggest world
Bread rots but not the way that you think it might
The bus lurches and sputters like a drunk frat boy
Forget-me-knot
tied around a waist of the one I was before I became
before I became

“I don’t have any change,” by Julia at Colazione da Bianca


Friday October 24, 2014 at Colazione da Bianca
3:39pm
5 minutes
Overheard at 49th Parallel

It’s the second time someone has come up to me trying to sell me lazer beam lights as if I could really use a green lazer beam light for my every day activities. Yeah, I almost told the second guy, how much do I have to pay you to get my very own travelling discoteque? You know, in case I’d like to bust it out at my next lecture, or, hey, even while ordering an empty brioche at 8am on a Tuesday? But I get it, it’s a job. Gotta make money somehow in this town. But those guys you can say no to easier because, really buddy, lazers? I roll my eyes and they know they’re trying to sell the impossible if their audience is anyone over the age of 4. The harder ones to shake your head at are the ones who just need 50 cents to help buy a coffee or a pack of cigarettes. Those are the ones who hang around for 6 minutes after you’ve said no, hoping that you’ll change your mind.

“I don’t have any change,” by Sasha at 49th Parallel on West 4th


Friday October 24, 2014 at 49th Parallel
11:48am
5 minutes
Overheard at 49th Parallel

I don’t got no small coins
or cumulous clouds
or satisfaction (thank you for the permission to borrow that thought)
I don’t got no music for this shot
it’s quiet
it’s still
that scares me
You?
Sorry lady I don’t have the change you’re looking for
I’ll blast you with cool air
air conditioner whipper snapper
I’ll sip my seven dollar iced coffee drink
I’ll ignore you and your suffering and your need
I’ll put a leaf in your hat and glare
Meanwhile rain’s started
I don’t got no recognition of what’s real
I’m floating above you
See me there?
I’m spinning “sorry” into worry
I don’t got no platform man
All I got is a piece of pavement and the colour of my eyes

“It’ll be fine in a second” by Sasha at the Library


Thursday September 25, 2014
4:16pm
5 minutes
From Jess’ lamp speech

One of the girls shrieks and many of the women on the subway car (all of the women on the subway car, save one, who grew up in the country and never went through this particular phase in this particular way) who are over twenty five (and a few who are under, yes, wiser than their years, I was, in some ways, yes) feel a pang of agony at the loudness and the shrillness and the too-tight dresses. They see their former selves, yes. They see the train-wreck of youth. They see the plaid-shirt over white V-neck, clean-shaven guys they kissed, they will kiss. They smell the cologne, the perfume, the over-the-counter morning after pill. They taste the Malibu, the Diet Cola, the Salt and Vinegar chips eaten on the early morning ride homewards, a whole bag, a whole bag of guilt and sodium, a whole bag of pleasure and chapped lips.

“It’s a cozy little place” by Sasha on the Queen Streetcar going East


Monday June 16, 2014
4:32pm
5 minutes
winnipegfreepress.com

When you arrived you thought to yourself, “it’s a cozy little place,” but now that you’ve been here for thirty one years, your opinions have changed. Now you think to yourself, especially when you’re downtown, with the honking and the whistling, “it’s a loud and big place.”

Viv brought you a hat from Newfoundland. You liked it and wore it all winter. You liked how it kept you warm and also hid your bald spot.

“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.

“WIN $2000” by Julia on the 504 going east


Tuesday January 28, 2014
4:00pm
5 minutes
from a Loblaws receipt

And I would buy so many thermal things, seriously you don't even know. I would spend the $500 on a winter coat that I was denying myself before because it seemed just effing ridiculous if I couldn't even afford to pay my phone bill. I would get the warmest boots money can buy. They would be toasty and stylish. That is the dream. I would buy those hand warmer things and wear them daily and I wouldn't care about the environment because clearly the environment doesn't care about me. It would be a war on the elements and I would be a warrior for warmer temperatures, fighting only for my extremities and my facial features that can't be protected without looking like an extreme bank robber. And with the rest of the money I'd spend it on taxies so I would never have to wait in the cold for a stupid transit system to be 15 minutes later than it says it's going to be and I would be happy. And after saying all that I realize I could JUST LEAVE THIS CITY!! $2000 can get me that right??

“Stacking wood” by Sasha on her bed


Sunday January 19, 2014
1:03am
5 minutes
Stacking Wood
Mimi Lipton and Thorston Duser


Charlie and I stack wood in the late summer. She’s in her cut off Nirvana shirt and wrap around sunglasses, with grey cargo shorts. I’m in a floral sundress. It’s how we do it, me and Charlie. When she built the Yurt she was still coming to the city on weekends, but not anymore. The noise makes her hands shake. The light, street-lamps and signs on a higher voltage than the moon, gives her bad dreams. I come a few times a year. I bring things she can’t get in the town of three hundred that’s twelve kilometres away. Like chia seeds and tahini and heirloom tomato seeds. We don’t talk a lot, she mostly gestures, and occasionally reads me a passage from whatever book she’s reading. It’s disorienting to think that we shared a womb.

“Toronto had one film festival.” By Julia on the VIA Rail


Saturday, October 5, 2013
12:06pm
5 minutes
From an article in the VIA Rail Destinations magazine September/October 2013/em>

Back when the roads were calm, the streets were empty and the whole world went elsewhere to feel alive.
Back when the city centre was a couple of hay bails and markets. Back when people didn’t come up to you to accuse you for not being from there. Now there are divides. We see neighborhoods with different personalities and humans adopting those personalities as if they forgot to develop their own and those were the next best options.
We see big buildings that keep the wind out, the love out, the money in.
It’s beautiful and enviable to those on the outside and for those who chose to pay higher rent than everyone else learn to resent it. We hate ourselves for staying and we blame ourselves for leaving.
Back when the growing was grass, not concrete, the life to have was the one we were building, not the building we were renting.
That’s when things were easier.
We can remember those days when the daily commute tries to tame us.

“OPEN HOUSE” by Julia at Dundonald Park in Ottawa


Thursday, October 3, 2013
3:37pm
5 minutes
from the Saint Paul University Poster in Dundonald Park

Charlie and I are planning to make the big move to the city. She already has a set of cute bowls she wants us to get. “No more second-hand items”, She told me, “unless they’re vintage”. I didn’t want to break her little heart by telling her that people in the city don’t necessarily have nicer things or more money-but she wouldn’t have wanted to listen to me anyway. Ever since I get my promotion she’s been letting her imagination run wild–thinking about how our lives would just magically improve because we’re leaving this itty-bitty town with two stop-lights and a Tim Horton’s that closes every third day for “maintenance”. She thinks the change of scenery will help everything. Help us. I was never meant for the city. God knows I’m only going for Charlie. God knows I’m a sucker for her big brown eyes and her hopeful smile that tells me she’s willing to try. I think the city turns people cold. I think it makes everyone hard and fast and uncompromising. I don’t know if Charlie’s strong enough for it yet. I’d hate to see her loser her joy–over something like finding parking on a one way street, or seeing a hundred homeless teens everyday on her way to work.

“in any other brain” by Julia at Starbucks


Sunday, January 27, 2013 at Starbucks
5:47pm
5 minutes
Scientific American February 2013

In any other brain, I would have thought to walk right by you. Wouldn’t have heard my favourite song when I saw your face, wouldn’t have stopped to tie my boot at the exact minute our paths crossed. I would have just gone on doing everything I would have done without being effected by your smile, and your casual scarf tossed over your shoulders, and your warmth. So I’m glad I have this head with this little brain in it, because it knew what it wanted, and knew that I would be okay with deciding what I should do.
Instead you said hello, smiled at me like you already knew what I would say back, and you stepped aside so I’d have more room to tie up my pesky laces, which came undone because I was running to catch the streetcar going west, like usual. I looked up at you, somehow guided by the brain that wanted to know you; that was willing to, and I felt something…That feeling you can’t describe with words or it just diminishes it? It’s the kind that sort of runs through your whole body and then forces your facial muscles to contort into a smirk, your belly to form a laugh, and your knees to fall weak. Never would I have thought to ask you for your name, watching you strum the guitar on the street and not feeling pressure to give you all my spare change. But instead I did. Gave you a moment that I could spare, shook your hand, and was happy.

“would be more accurate.” by Julia at Sambuca Grill


Thursday, December 27, 2012 at Sambuca Grill
5:56pm
5 minutes
http://www.thesartorialist.com

No, a shit-hole would be more accurate. I told Rich that if we had to stay away from the city for eve one night, I would only do it if we could sleep in an actual structure. I told him hotel, motel, or condo, pick one. Now of course, given the option, Rich would choose a hotel too, but since he was convinced that this was a camping trip, of course he’d have to go ahead and pick the dingiest and most degrading motel in the history of the universe. He pushed open the jammed door to our room and I swear to you that dust mites multiplied. He was all chummy, trying to get me into a good mood, but all I could see were what appeared to be blood stains around the bed, and the fact that the mini bar looked like the last time it was stocked was 1993.
“Nice, isn’t it babe? I chocked on the cloudy air. I said, “Hurry up and die already so I can run off with all your money.” He laughed, pulled me into him, and kissed the top of my head.
“Ugh!” I said. “We’re already starting to smell the way the walls feel.”
“You’re being a baby.” He said to me with a smile. “Don’t worry about your nails, we’ll get you some new ones when we get back to the city.”

“regal and graceful” by Sasha in her bed


Wednesday, November 28, 2012
8:11pm
5 minutes
Shamanic Experience
Kenneth Meadows


She wears a ’67 Nikon around her neck
Her strand of pearls
More precious than the ring left by a generation
Gathering dust faeries on her dresser-top
She wears a ’67 Nikon around her neck
She is always ready
Pointer finger poised
F-stop set to “take me right and slow”
She knows light like you know Maxwell’s voice
Singing you through hormones and heartbreaks
She knows shutterspeeds like you know the highway
Coming home late
Coming home feeling full and tired
She walks your city because you don’t anymore
Regal and graceful
Alone and happy
Independent and searching
She never thought she’d find home
But she did
Here
Snapping chestnuts and fresh bread
Baby hands and dive bars