“sucking everything in.” by Julia at her desk

Tuesday August 6, 2019
6:50pm
5 minutes
Across This Body
Jeni De La O

I don’t know how many days I will write about time and
how many minutes

When i pour my coffee for the 3rd time you wait and
smile cause oh you see yourself in it

I never had addictions until i met you
I never smoked a thing until that night

And darlin’ I will wait for another puff
if it means you’re the one passing it to me

I don’t know how many days I will love this line
or the next one that inevitably follows

When i stumble on a phrase I like better than the feeling
it occupies inside of every swallow

I never had addictions until i met you
I never smoked a thing until that night

And darlin’ I will write this way till mornin’
Cause I’ve got the best obsession in front of me

I don’t know how many days I’ll write about time
and how many hours

When I dance for you after all the years of sucking in
you smile at my body of work and of beauty

I never had addictions until i met you
I never smoked a thing until that night

And darlin’ I will hold on to forever and again
if it means that you’re holding back to me

I never had addictions until i met you
and now you’re the one thing on my mind

“Aida drank her father’s unsugared coffee” by Sasha in her bed

Sunday August 4, 2019
10:21pm
5 minutes
A Dull Yellow Presence
Mona’a Malik

Aida reaches across the table and takes a sip of her father’s unsugared coffee. It tastes like tar.

“What are you doing?” He’s back from the washroom, hands in his pockets, crease between his eyebrows deeper than when he left.

“I just wanted to – …”

“That’s for grown-ups.” He sits down and stacks his cutlery on his plate, putting the paper napkin, folded, on top.

“I’m sorry, Papa.” Aida gets that sinking feeling in her stomach and wonders when her mother will pick her up. Saturday morning breakfasts with her father were court ordered. No one checked with her.

“Aida drank her father’s unsugared coffee” by Julia laying

Sunday August 4, 2019
8:21pm
5 minutes
A Dull Yellow Presence
Mona’a Malik

Aida lays with her left eye in her palm, pulsing, pushing. Her father is across from her in his easy chair, perusing the daily flyers. That’s the only thing he enjoys reading. The last book he finished was in 2000. He doesn’t remember the title, but the year is easy to recall.

Aida doesn’t like to be gaurded, watched. She feels like her parents keep taking turns on “Aida Duty” and neither of them really want to do it. Aida clears her throat, a bit strained.

Her father leans over and passes her his cup. She takes a sip and shudders.

“have another cup of coffee” by Julia on the 511 going north

Monday August 13, 2018
10:34pm
5 minutes
A quote by Joan Didion

in the days before these ones I was waking without assistance
the sun bright enough to light the room
the birds bright enough to sound the alarm
he wished I drank coffee
he begged
his headaches kept him from peace
his breakfasts too small to count
I would shake my head fuzz slowly
I would sometimes wonder at the fridge
but I did not drink my alertness
I did not know how to work the machine
which buttons to press
how long to wait at the foot
of an appliance

“freckles on thighs and in-between.” By Sasha on the 17

Tuesday February 13, 2018
9:43pm
5 minutes
Teachable Moment, 1986
Kellee Ngan

My finger traces the freckles on her thighs and
in between the places there are no windows
there is no bright.

Red jacket and long johns and beeswax on the sheets
and white sage and kettle singing and cat curled at our feet
and Marvin Gaye record spinning and spinning

Muck out to the pottery studio
out beyond the outhouse.
The reassurance of snow.
The dependability of sun breaking through cloud cover after weeks.

Drinking black coffee out of chipped pottery.
Eating honey by the spoonful.
Keeping warm by the space heater.

Hands learning a new language
your hair dirty and perfect
turning grey.

“coffee laced with rum” by Julia on the plane

Tuesday February 6, 2018
4:42pm
5 minutes
I’ve Fishing Crawford Lake
Kim Maltman

The coffee had been sweetened
with hazelnut syrup
There was no extra charge
and no side comments made
It was served in a tiny cup; handmade, delicate
The man ordered a cup in the morning and again in the afternoon
He joked and said he had already
forgotten the taste
It was not the coffee itself
he needed more of
-his head a jolt of unsafe caffeine
navigating foreign streets-
but the condensed milk
layered at the bottom or when lucky
whipped through, and hot
The woman took only little sips
when offered
but ached for more, quietly

“Rivers till I reach you” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Thursday August 3, 2017
11:16pm
5 minutes
Rivers and Roads
The Head and the Heart


Rebecca starts walking to work in April and she feels like a real winner. Frankie gives her the once over and she rolls her eyes. “Come on, you like it,” he whispers. She doesn’t. She cocks her head to one side and says, “I will not let you take away my endorphins, Frank. Please go away.” He sneers. She never thought much of that word, but it’s the only one appropriate for Frank.

Rebecca thinks about reporting him to Diane in HR, but she’s worried about the backlash. Malinda once said something to Diane, and Diane laughed in her face. Doesn’t help that Diane is married to Frankie’s twin brother. She knows that he’s a creep, but he’s family. Nepotism is a carbon monoxide, Rebecca thinks, as she watches Frankie re-fill his coffee cup for the third time.

“You know I’m fallin'” By Sasha at her desk


Sunday March 5, 2017
10:23pm
5 minutes
Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac

I pull up, into my usual parking spot. I didn’t have time to put make-up on before leaving the house and dropping Tam at daycare. I never used to even wear make-up. Look what you’ve done to me, Gurmeet. I put on “Prussian Pink” lipstick and a bit of eyebrow pencil and I can’t believe how fast my heart is beating. I brought my travel mug today, because it usually allows us an extra minute or two of conversation. Steven asked why I’ve started wearing perfume again. I shrugged it off. I said, “I don’t know, Steven! When did you stop flushing your shits?” I think he got the hint. I don’t even like Tim Horton’s coffee. But here I am, walking in, knowing that I’m going to see you, knowing that you’re going to ask me about Tam and if I want an Old Fashioned.

“New Adventures” By Julia at Paper Crane Coffee


Wednesday February 8, 2017
1:48pm
5 minutes
from a postcard

Jackie meets me at the coffee shop bundled up in too many layers and chapped lips. She shakes off her scarf and laughs a little at the snow droplets covering the ground. She is carrying a stack of postcards that she needs to write thank you notes on. She says she’s going to mail them out today after she buys a thousand stamps. I am busy re-writing my to-do list because the first version I etched out didn’t include all the stuff I actually have to get done today. The first version was more of a dream journal than a to-do list. I have trouble with picking the right thing to prioritize. I don’t want to pick the wrong thing but I feel like I always do. Jackie is in a great mood because she was given an assignment to write for McCleans’s Magazine and is full of high fives and smiles. She asks me after I’ve breathed out heavily for the eighth time, not asking her about her day like I should have, if I’ve ever heard about ‘Important vs. Urgent’. I sigh out once more because I have heard about ‘Important vs. Urgent’ but I have obviously forgotten, again and again, and again.

“I’m ecstatic to announce” by Julia on the reading chair


Friday September 30, 2016
7:34am
5 minutes
a Facebook post

There’s a new woman in my father’s life. He has been hiding it from me since they started seeing each other and maybe he had good intentions and maybe he was just being a coward. Either way, I got a Save The Date in the mail for three proposed coffee occasions that the new woman in my father’s life would like me to choose between. I think it’s funny that she chose not to even bother sending a singing telegram! Who doesn’t love getting an embossed card in the mail with tiny kitties in silver dresses, asking me, not to meet her, but to pick a time that I’d like to meet her. Then what happens when I send this back? Wait two weeks to get another Save The Date for a cappuccino and a butter tart?

“It’s hot in here” By Julia at Bean Around The World


Friday July 22, 2016 at BATW
7:33am
5 minutes
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.

“Freckles on thighs” by Julia at Starbucks


Wednesday June 8, 2016 at Starbucks
8:01am
5 minutes
Teachable Moment, 1986
Kellee Ngan


You spend two bucks to get a coffee and, you think, the right to sit beside me while I read the morning paper. You think you spend two bucks to get to invade my privacy with the stench of last night that you feel entitled to keep close. You spend two bucks to get a coffee and a seat at the window in between me and the man who has been here since before you were born, saddling up closer to me because, to you, “that guy’s a fucking weirdo torpedo.” You spend two bucks to “accidentally” spill your two buck coffee onto my knee closest to you, reaching into my privacy once again–this time to apologize, “instinctively” trying to “undo” the mess now pooling between my legs. You spend two bucks to make me wish I were dead when you tell me that you like the secret freckles on my inner thigh.

“Don’t turn off your computer” by Julia at Platform 7


Wednesday April 13, 2016 at Platform 7
4:47pm
5 minutes
from the update installation screen

For the first time in a month of coming here, the man with obnoxious voice and even more obnoxious ponytail is not working in the cafe that I am borrowing as my office. I don’t mean to say I miss him-I don’t- but I’ve come to expect him and now things feel a bit off.
I spilled coffee into my laptop bag, and into my laptop keyboard, and onto my table, and into the self-deprecating narrative that I’m the kind of person who spills liquids on all the things that should never get wet.
I waited in line for the single-stall bathroom for the duration of “Another Day” from the Rent soundtrack because I could hear someone doing a million weird things inside and I didn’t know how long was reasonable to wait before I decided to stop waiting.
Nothing else bad has happened. I don’t think it’s obnoxious ponytail accent’s fault for not being here- I was just trying to connect some dots that don’t need connecting while my computer updates itself and tells me not to shut off until it’s done. It’s done now. It doesn’t take long to restart or update but I always think it will. Maybe that’s a reminder for me when I make excuses for staying married to bad habits…

“round their throats” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Friday, March 25, 2016
10:36pm
5 minutes
From lyrics in a song

She keeps her secret safe around her throat a
red ribbon tied in a bow the edges fraying the
fray undoing the past and what is heavy there.
She keeps her secret safe drinking beer with
breakfast drinking coffee with lunch drinking
no water only brown liquids to keep the pain
down below the sludge. She keeps her secret
safe by only calling him on his birthday and
making sure it’s at a time he won’t pick up.

“Happy birthday, Owen. Hope you’re well.”

Dial tone like the drone note of a prayer she
won’t do this again. This is the last time.
She keeps her secret safe until it doesn’t
want safety. It wants air it wants light prisms.

“What is “beginner’s mind”?” By Sasha at the desk at Joe Creek


Tuesday, July 28, 2015
12:03pm
5 minutes
From a tweet by Shambhala Sun

I read a short memoir about a woman with stage four breast cancer and my throat swells with fear. I resent her for reminding me of my mortality. I wonder about where I carry extra weight, if I eat too much cheese, is it dangerous to live in a city? Where does my unexpressed rage live? Is it in my breasts? My liver? I’m destined for the same fate. Sickness lies dormant inside of me and will strike when I least expect. The summer of my wedding. When I am pregnant with my first child. During the premiere of my most successful play.

A hummingbird feasts from a hydrangea, slurping up her fill until she’s drunk, flying into the morning before I can reach for my camera. I drink coffee, now cool, the bitterness sour long after the swallow.

I weave a whole narrative before I’ve finished my fried egg on toast. I hate her, this beautiful bald writer, I love her, I wish she were closer and that I might know her phone number so that I can call and thank her for this late July, early morning meditation on death.

“Is it coffee time yet?” by Sasha on Sarah’s bed in Abbotsford


Sunday, April 5, 2015
11:14pm
5 minutes
Overheard at the bus station in Kitchener

She ties the rubber in a knot and flicks the white liquid. She scrunches her nose. She adds it to the jar. Thirty five. She texts Bec. “Up yer game bitch”. Flat Face Pug Man was completely quiet when he came. His Flat Face barely changed. She’d watch them, all of them, number six through til now, focused on the tiny muscles around their eyes, the purse of the lips, the flexing biceps.

“Thank you for using Bell, how may I help you today?” She gulps from her coffee mug. “Nancy?” She recognizes the voice. Her heart drops, a bomb in her stomach. “Hold please…” She crawls under her desk and sucks her thumb. Chris finds her like that, three hours later. “Are you okay?” She nods. Her phone vibrates on the cubicle desk above her head. “It’s from Bec,” says Chris, getting down on his knees and taking her face in his hands.

“Welcome visitors from Denmark” by Sasha on the 99 going West


Saturday April 4, 2015
10:01pm
5 minutes
from a school sign

cold coffee in a pottery mug made by hands that know the fault lines of a woman’s body
too much almond milk and a dash of vanilla
denmark feels far with so much water between
honey
lick the lip
guard the contents
a lioness
not sure about the night on these flower streets
not sure about eye contact or road signs or lazy feet
unrolling the mat is the hardest part
once you’re there the truth flows
honey
lick the lip
once you’re there the streetlight doesn’t forget anyone
her hips are the mantra i’ve been waiting for

“giving a private lesson” by Julia at her desk


Thursday March 19, 2015
9:19pm
5 minutes
from a slide in lecture

So I’ve been meeting with this guy for coffee every two weeks because on a whim, I put an ad on the internet offering my tutoring services. And honestly, I wasn’t expecting anyone to respond but this guy, who I’ve been meeting for coffee and conversation every week and a half, was looking to improve his Italian and so he sent me a message. The first day I showed up with all my books and my notes and an Italian flag lapel pin my mom found for me at a garage sale (which I regret, but still wore) because I was ready to teach; To exchange a service. But this guy, who I’ve been meeting for coffee and conversation and casual sex every week ended up being ridiculously hot. Like stupid hot. And he wanted to improve his Italian so I was like, WHAT? YES? YES.

“I don’t want to find myself” by Julia at her kitchen table


Saturday August 16, 2014
4:57pm
5 minutes
a poem by Mary Oliver

I don’t want to find myself with a head full of dandruff and coffee stained teeth. I told myself I wouldn’t start drinking coffee, but then I got addicted. Not to the drink, but to the mugs! God, I feel so stupid. So stupid to get tricked by the mass marketing scheme of cute and quirky coffee mugs! I’m not even joking when I tell you that one of mine has a picture of a cat balancing on a coffee bean with a caption underneath that says “If I can do it, so can you.” It doesn’t even make sense! I guess if you really tear it open, dissect the crap out of it it could. If this cat is balancing on a coffee bean, symbolizing, what? That he or she is being kept up by the coffee alone? Sure, fine, okay, I can understand that. But why does a cat need to get anything done in the first place? Why is a cat balancing on anything at all? It’s hardly realistic. If you replaced a cat with a person, then I’d get the sentiment. And then to be honest, I really wouldn’t need the caption. It sort of says it all: getting things done by staying on the coffee. Fine. Okay. That’s clearer. I just don’t want to find myself one day showing off my coffee cup collection while I neglect to maintain my scalp.

“I look at the sky recalling” by Julia at MAKE coffee+stuff


Wednesday July 23, 2014 at MAKE
3:21pm
5 minutes
A Memory Returns
Bobby Ferguson


It was my first sip of coffee and I remember thinking it was so bitter I couldn’t see straight. Why anyone would ever drink that stuff was beyond me. I saw all the adults drinking it and they seemed to be having a great time. But I was never interested much in the smell, or the aftertaste, or the colour of teeth it somehow also transformed. I took a second sip to show I was big, I guess. Bigger than I was feeling. I wanted to fit in, I wanted them to stop thinking they needed to spell controversial words around me. I was a very good speller anyway. It just made them look stupid if I’m being honest. I wanted to shout from the tiny kid’s table that felt like it was a mile away from all the fun that I could understand what they were saying; that I could follow along and offer an opinion every now and again if they’d let me. So I took another sip and swallowed down the fuzz that formed on my tongue when I drank the stuff. I could feel my head start to get a bit light and I remember thinking, huh, this stuff isn’t so bad once you get past all the gross parts. Each sip brought me closer to the adults in the room thinking I was beneath them just because I was younger. Each sip made me feel all the more alive.
I still don’t drink it. I thought I might be the type to take it up after all, but I wasn’t. Turns out I didn’t need to do something I didn’t like to make me feel big.

“Absolutely everybody gets a little something” by Julia at Bull Street Gourmet and Market in Charleston


Monday April 28, 2014 at Bull Street Gourmet and Market
1:23pm
5 minutes
Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut


Toni-Marie-Belle, she said with a crispness in her voice. She should be expecting me in five minutes from now. She sat down and pretended to care about the Garden and Gun magazine that was staring up at her from the coffee table. Ooh, she said out loud, in case someone was overhearing her moments of mostly silence in this waiting room. Love this one. She leaned back breathing out heavily, trying to suspend the air and she exhaled slower than she had planned. Toni-Marie-Belle, she said again under her breath as if she were trying to convince herself that that was in fact her real name. Someone approached her and asked if she wanted water or anything while she waited. She shook her head and at the same time asked, Sweet tea but mostly unsweetened? The small garden gnome lady cocked her head to the side and examined her for a brief moment in time. It means half and half, she told the confused lady. Right, the lady said. Right, yeah, okay.
The garden gnome lady walked away muttering something to herself in a way that was incomprehensible and yet totally audible.

“Baby you’re much too fast” by Sasha in her bed


Wednesday February 26, 2014
12:13am
5 minutes
Little Red Corvette
Prince


I feel sick with worry that you want three babies. You tell me this over coffee you’ve simmered on the stovetop, sputtering on the white metal, leaving flecks of brown. I pour almond milk in mine and you drink yours black. “Three babies!” You say, like we’re choosing a colourful and slightly daring couch at Ikea. I don’t worry about the carrying or the baring. I have a round, strong body for this. I feel sick with worry because this world is so broken and I’d never say it to your face but sometimes, like a dark cloud passing over, I feel really hopeless. Sometimes this goes away and I feel only excited.

“cinnamon coffee” by Sasha at Lansdowne Station


Tuesday February 18, 2014
1:03pm
5 minutes
A sign at the Dosa Restaurant

“I’m feeling like there’s a big change comin’,” Margie says. “I’m feeling like the only change is that all the damn TV plays is bullshit about the shitty shitter Olympics!” Rona swigs back her coffee, forgetting it’s hot. “Shit!” She cries, spitting coffee everywhere. Margie rushes over with a sponge. Rona blows in the mug and sips again. She’s the type to get right back up on that horse. Margie learned about putting cinnamon in her coffee when she went down to Montreal when she was younger. It’s all fancy like. “I’m just sayin’…” She says, “for me, somethin’ is changin’… Somethin’ big!” Rona rolls her eyes and lights a du Maurier. “You hear about how much those Russian shits drink vodka?” Rona blows smoke out real slow. “Five times anyone else, that’s how much!” She laughs like she just made a joke. Margie and me roll our eyes.

“Perhaps she will spend the morning” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Saturday, November 23, 2013
8:26pm
5 minutes
The Days You’ve Spent
Suzanne Bowness


Perhaps she will spend the morning writing love letters for every day that he will be gone this winter. She will write them in different colours, each one for a day of the week. “Thursday” will be green. “Monday” will be purple. Perhaps she will spend as much time as it takes to find the perfect brownie recipe, one with just enough butter and melted chocolate, one that encourages the cook to lick the bowl and top the brownies with Maldon salt. Perhaps she will make one pot of coffee and then another, when the first one goes down too easy and craves an encore. Perhaps she will do the laundry, but slowly, not rushing, smelling and folding and letting her hands keep warm in the soft downy. Perhaps she will make just enough noise to wake him and when he comes into the kitchen she will surprise him with kisses that taste like dreams.

“FREQUENCY” by Sasha on her bed


Tuesday November 19, 2013
11:05pm
5 minutes
from the Cold-FX bottle

When we listened to the sound of the first snow flakes landing on our cheeks
When we heard their corners melting
We knew we were in for a good season
A good time at this
When we walking around the graveyard and counted letter
M
D
A
S
We slow danced under the maple tree
By the pond
Where you swore you saw a fish jump
Making a kissy face
But not making fun of us
Enjoying our laughter
Our footsteps
When we bought our house on the dead end street
You painted the walls late into the night
I slept
A pizza-induced coma
You joined me
Fresh from the shower
And we made promises that involved mountains and coffee

“Negotiate with agents” by Julia at her friend’s table in Ottawa


Friday, October 4, 2013
1:09pm
5 minutes
What Is Dramaturgy
Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas


Waiting at the cross walk for you to come meet me at the corner of where our houses meet. It really is a wonderful thing how close the two of us live to each other. When I first saw you at the coffee shop we both like to go to, I just thought we had the same taste in espresso..I didn’t know we were neighbours. In fact, I didn’t know we were neighbours for a very long time. You didn’t ever seem to be leaving your place or entering it at the same time as me. It, to be honest, feels a bit like we’re meeting to go on a blind date, even though I’ve seen you so many times before and even had mini conversations with you at the coffee counter. Part of me keeps thinking it’s too good to be true, being so closely housed to you. I’m afraid that you’d rather keep me separate from your life, which is silly because I haven’t proven to be anything but pleasant yet. Not that you would find me unpleasant with time, or intolerable. I’m not clingy like that. I like my own space very much and just because we’re close to each other doesn’t mean I will be expecting to see you at all times, or expect you to invite me to every single one of your events that take place at your home. I’m really not like that. But if, for whatever reason, you want me to come to those things, I would not say no, don’t get me wrong. I am a good drinker. And I quite enjoy playing cards.

“Harmony Organic Dairy” by Sasha at Cafe Novo


Monday, August 26, 2013 at Cafe Novo
2:31pm
5 minutes
from the milk jar holding the purple flower

When you’re brother tells you, over coffee on the front porch, that he’s enlisted and starts Basic Training next month, you choke back a sob. You choke it back and you transform it into a “Congratulations”, just like your Granny taught you, just like you’ve been practising since you first said “Yes” instead of “No”. Your brother is seventeen months younger than you, which means there was only an eight month gap between your home, her womb, and his home, her womb. Which means, there’s the ghostly feeling of twin-hood between you and he. Him and you. There’s a fleeting desire to ask him why, to ask for a reason, to stand up and dump the potted daisies onto his lap and bury him here, on the porch, so that he might not ever go. You remember finding the glossy pamphlet in his room and laughing out loud, bringing it to her, your mother, and her laughing too. “Yeah right!” She’d said. Yeah. Right. It’s been quiet for awhile. He stares at you. “Tell me how you really feel, Emma.” He says, but he doesn’t mean it. He goes inside, the screen door slamming behind him.

“What happens if you run the expansion backwards?” by Julia on her couch


Friday, November 30, 2012
12:45am
5 minutes
Introducing the Universe
Felix Pirani and Christine Roche


Calling my bluff I see how it is. I’m not your kid but you act like you’re parenting me.
I don’t want to be your kid, for the record. I like not having any one who loves me because then there’s no one for me to disappoint. I’m just someone who does things or doesn’t and nobody can care.
But you’ve been getting awfully close to me lately, trying to buy me festive and decorative plants for my basement apartment because you think I won’t do that on my own. You don’t know if I might want to buy my own tree, feel a sense of pride. Feel a sense of ownership. What time was it when you realized I could need you?
You just swoop in and make me feel like I’m wanted. That’s nice and I don’t know much about love and stuff, but you make me want to try.
Thanks.
But when I say I don’t want you here, I mean it. I’m no good. I’m just messed up and I’m no good. You are better so go buy someone else blinds. I can hang sheets up in the windows. I can use old t-shirts, it doesn’t matter to me.
You stay, though. You bring me coffee on Tuesday mornings because you think I don’t sleep well on Mondays.
I don’t. I don’t know how you know that or how you figured it out. I hate Mondays, all day and night, too.
You have places to go, don’t you?