“Wring or twist” by Sasha at the kitchen table at Bowmore

Monday November 19, 2018
10:32am
5 minutes
from a blanket tag

For L.

Three swollen bellies
Three sisters standing
shoulder to shoulder
Babies arriving in
March, April and May

A father
A father to one of them
married to the other two’s mother
Quakes in his body
Fights in his body
Surrender in his body
His spirit soaring
on the tails of grace notes
Crafting harmonies
with all he has
These babies whispering
from beyond
Please stay

Someone will write
this story one day
People will say
“There’s no way”
“Really?”
“How can that be?”
Maybe I will
I will write this
story my story
our story
Maybe I am
right now maybe
that’s what I’m doing
right here

Trying to make sense
of this impossible timing
of this wrecking ball
swinging between
joy and sorrow
excitement and grief

Pregnant with possibility
Dying into possibility

“eat all of our food? Rude.” By Julia in N’s kitchen

Friday February 16, 2018
8:03pm
5 minutes
Flushed
David Delisca

When Harley stays with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays cause it’s closer to the hospital
he buys us hot dogs and
orders pizza
He doesn’t want us to make him anything special simply
because he’s dying
He’d rather eat out of the garbage
can than put us out any more
than he thinks he is already
On Mondays and Wednesdays
Mitch goes out to pick up
the groceries he thinks Harley
might like to snack on when
he thinks the rest of us aren’t
paying attention
Fruit by the foot and Reese’s
Peanut butter Puffs
Organic strawberries and Oreos
We stock the cupboards just
in case

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


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

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

“all that we went through” by Julia at her dining table


Saturday April 16, 2016
5:31pm
5 minutes
Back to Black
Amy Winehouse


I don’t feel right writing this. You’ve been gone for one month. I know you said it wouldn’t bother you if I saw other people once you said goodbye, but everyone else is saying it’s too soon. I met someone. I don’t know if he’s my one, but he’s someone and it feels nice to be with a man that isn’t dying. Your mother is still angry at me. She thinks I am mistreating your memory, disrespecting what we had. But the worst part is, I know I’m not doing anything wrong and I know that when you told me you didn’t want me to mourn you for long that you meant it. I still love you, I always will. I would have died with you if I could have but it doesn’t work like that. I wanted to thank you for being so understanding and trusting and knowing that me dating someone else does not mean I’ve moved on or that I’m okay or that I wanted to be with someone else this whole time. Nobody outside of us can know what we went through and what we talked about and what we decided together. Now all that’s left is my side of the story and no one seems to want to believe me when I say it’s okay that this is happening and you wouldn’t be upset. I don’t know how long I can keep justifying myself in the eyes of your family or my family. I miss you more than life.

“Elevated stress response” by Julia at Liberty Bakery


Friday October 2, 2015 at Liberty Bakery
2:57pm
5 minutes
Epigenetics
Richard C. Frances


I’m racing.
My mind.
My heart.
My muscles.
I’m working overtime and I’m over that.
I don’t have quiet.
I don’t know peace.
It’s bad.
I’m too soft for things that are this hard.
I watch my dreams turn into nightmares.
I wake up all twisted in my comforter.
I wake up buried deep in my own grave every morning.
Every night.
Every time.
That’s the worst part.
Because I can’t explain it.
Not to you.
Not to me.
Not to anyone.
There’s nothing I can relate this to.
I’ve never died but it feels close to that.
It feels like fighting to stay alive.
But mostly fighting to die.
Time is racing.
I am racing.
I am running from myself.
And running out of running.

“When we love” by Julia on the floor


Saturday, August 29, 2015
1:01am
5 minutes
from a quote by Jean Shinoda Bolen

-And it feels like dying
-Yeah it feels like dying
-And it feels like your heart is thumping harder than usual
-Yeah
-And it feels like eye contact is binding
-Yeah it does
-And it feels like the walls are closing in
-Yeah, but those walls are lined with soft velvet
-Soft velvet lined claustrophobic walls closing in
-Yeah that’s how it feels
-But why does it feel like dying?
-Because dying isn’t bad
-But shouldn’t it feel like living?
-It does
-But
-And also dying
-And it feels like living anddying?
-Yeah it feels like both
-Because dying isn’t bad
-And living isn’t good
-Because it’s hard and also worth it
-Yeah

“You can live in Heaven” by Julia in Brooklyn


Friday, July 24, 2015
11:05pm
5 minutes
The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz


I hear Bryan Adams in my head, playing a song I know I should love. Makes me wonder if I’m checked out or something. Makes me wonder if you’re the one. Makes me wonder if you’re not. I think because there aren’t angels in my version, or glitter bugs, or trumpets or whatever. There’s a couple things I do like a lot, but none of that Hallmark clownshit on your deathbed stuff. I guess I’m going to get a lot of flack for saying that. Don’t care. Not enough to retract it. It’s just been something on my mind for a while is all. You, me, what is perfect, if there’s a perfect, what’s forever, if there’s a forever, if Heaven is where we’re going, if it’s where we already are, if it doesn’t exist at all, thereby ruining everyone’s standards without fully knowing it. I don’t know. Bryan Adams or something.

“chemical or thermal irritation” by Julia at Caledonia Park


Wednesday May 6, 2015
7:17pm
5 minutes
http://www.webmd.com

According to Gwen’s self-diagnosis, she had 3 days to live and a whole lot of goodbyes to give. I laughed when she said that. “It’s just mild discoloration. You’re fine!” Gwen wasn’t amused. After spending hours googling her “condition” she was convinced that she had the rare unpronounceable disease, and this was, in fact, the very end of the line for her. “You don’t know anything, you’re not a doctor, Ian!”
I laughed again. “Neither are you! Come on, don’t put this stress on yourself, people on there have nothing better to do than to scare perfectly healthy people who are not even close to dying.”
“And if they’re right? Some small chance that this is actually happening? Then what?”

“A rare chance” by Julia on her bed


Tuesday May 5, 2015
12:35am
5 minutes
A Friends of Chamber Music brochure

Am I dying and I don’t know it because I’m crying and I don’t know it? I mean I know it. That’s something I know. But what I don’t, is, is it a threat to my living self if my body is crying but my mental awareness of that physical reaction to something happening in my life… is non-existent? Or delayed, I mean. For one whole hour? Is that too long to go without realizing that tears are pouring out of my face? I mean I know that’s too long, so maybe something big is happening. Maybe I’m releasing all the bad in my body, in my spirit, and then just that kind of peace after the bad is all gone feels like dying. Because maybe that kind of dying is the right kind.

“Each person comes into this world” by Julia on the 501 heading east


Saturday January 31, 2015
4:37pm
5 minutes
from a quote by Osho

And boom boom can we get the drums a banging
cause the moon moon has all these people clanging
We
Join
Life
From the wombs wombs meeting memories in this world
to the tombs tombs where our bones lay stripped and curled
We
Leave
Strife
And boom boom we celebrate the hearts a thudding
with the moon moon keeping far the doors that need shutting

“Smoking seriously harms you” by Sasha on Nadeem’s bed in Mississauga


Wednesday December 24, 2014
1:16am
5 minutes
A pack of Marlboro

We’re not sure he’ll make it
We hope you can take it
We don’t want to give you a start

We’re sorry to say it
We don’t want to relay it
We hope that we’re doing our part

He shouldn’t have done it
His lungs just couldn’t bare it
He wasn’t the smartest of smart

The nicotine sticks aren’t the worst of it
The drugs and the alcohol are it
Here’s a lemony tart

“I don’t know how that works” by Julia at her desk


Thursday December 4, 2014 at Culprit Coffee
1:33am
5 minutes
Overheard at Culprit Coffee

I have realized too late in my life that I will never know enough. I’m too old to change who I am. I’m beyond the point of learning now. I woke up one day and I was dumb. I am only smart because I know I’m dumb. That is the way I get by. By knowing what I am and admitting it to myself when I have the opportunity. People don’t think I’m stupid because I figured out how to trick everybody. Even myself for a very long time. But now I cannot hide from this fact. I am good at very few things. I have very little knowledge of even the things I do well, let alone the things I don’t. I will never be able to explain facts of the world, geography, history. I will die knowing almost nothing, except for the knowing that I know almost nothing.

“She hasn’t been back since” by Julia at her desk


Thursday November 27, 2014
5:42pm
5 minutes
Summer Dress
July Talk


The city’s all lit up at night now
There are lights hung from the tree tips
There’s that feeling in the air
It was her favourite and everyone knows that still
It’s probably the hardest part of everything
Seeing her face in the snow
In the ice rinks
In the candy canes
So what do we do now?
Wait
Drink tea?
Coffee
She’s not coming back so we have to make a choice
Keep living
Trying
Keep smiling
Remembering
When it’s hard that’s when she’s closest
So with that we can make a fresh attempt
When it’s hard
When it’s hard and beautiful out
When people look happy

“Have a good one” by Julia on the 18 bus south


Friday August 15, 2014
2:13pm
5 minutes
overheard on the 18 bus going south

The old man in the ratty suit tipped his ripped hat to a small girl with a daisy in her pony tail. She smiled shyly, then hid behind her mommy’s leg.
Poor thing, she’s shy!
Poor thing, she’s just a wee little love bug.
The old man had respect for his elders, his youngers, his same agers, his in-betweeners.
He didn’t think one person belonged on this earth with any more right than any other.
He might have been a dying breed; showing compassion to passers-by and loved ones alike.
Shouldn’t this be the way it goes?
Poor thing, he’s getting on!
Poor thing, he’s just a crumpled old dying thing.
He made everyone feel both good and bad at the same time. On the one hand he did a great job of including and inviting and making someone feel special. On the other, he was the only one who did this. He was better than the everyman.

“Make a lasting impression.” by Julia at the CSI Coffee Pub


Friday May 30, 2014 at The CSI Coffee Pub
4:40pm
5 minutes
L’OREAL ad in Flare Magazine
December 2011


Cool fingertips on my eyelids and that’s how we met
He said, you will change the world with your words
I said, tell me that again and again and again
He said, write me something beautiful–write me something that looks like you
And I died
And I died
And I died
He rocked his head from side to side to a rhythm I couldn’t hear
I said, what song is in your brain right now
And he said, the one you sang to me in your sleep last night
I said, the one about the moon?
And he said, you always sing about the moon.
Cool fingertips on my eyelids and that’s how we fell in love
He said, when you think that you can’t, remember this feeling, this calming
I said, will you come with me forever?
He said, I’ll try. I’ll try to stop time too if you need
And I died
And I died
And I died

Why do I write? by Julia at the t5m: writer’s workout at the Fringe Creation Lab


Sunday May 18, 2014
1:16pm
5 minutes
from a writing prompt by Natalie Goldberg

1.I write because if I didn’t I would burst.
2.I write because the dream doesn’t sound real when it’s not on paper.
3.I write because my pores need release and I’m never getting enough of that.
4.I write because I like the way my mind looks in ink.
5.I write because I’m dying to be heard.
6.I write because I’m dying to be understood.
7.I write because I tell myself I must.
8.I write because I enjoy painting with words.
9.I write because I hope someone will rescue me.
10.I write because I hope someone will find my thoughts and fall in love with them.
11.I write because I love telling stories.
12.I write because I hate being interrupted.
13.I write because I can’t lie to myself with a pen in my hand.
14.I write because life is fast and I’m trying to remember the best version of myself.
15.I write because in a world filled with stimuli, my only refuge is my word.
16.I write because I want to be quoted.
17.I write because if I didn’t I’d watch too much TV.
18.I write because I think my personality is better on paper.

“intently and furiously” by Julia on her couch


Thursday March 5, 2014
10:50pm
5 minutes
We Did
Brian Doyle


I’m scared of you. I’m scared of your blisters popping in the bed while we’re sleeping. I’m scared of your hang nail getting caught in my hair. I’m scared of your allergies and intolerances rearing their ugly heads. I’m scared of your arm hairs falling into my soup. I’m scared of your penchant for guns and your ability to hit targets. I’m scared of your jeans ripping during an important speech or ceremony. I’m scared of your water glass sitting out all night and you drinking the dust and room particles. I’m scared of your insatiable appetite. Your inability to be silent in your sleep. Your misunderstanding of perfection and standards. Your disbelief in anything but the justice system. Your left big toe nail that never fully grew back on.
I’m scared of you. It’s a furious fear. An intense one. I’m scared of you dying before me.

“I’m working on organizing” by Julia at Starbucks


Friday February 7, 2014 at Starbucks
3:45pm
5 minutes
An e-mail from the Playwright’s Guild of Canada

I’m working on organizing my life better. I told my mother on the phone that I couldn’t talk right then and that as soon as I got my shit together I would phone her back. I haven’t called her since December. That is not okay, and as a human being with higher education in more ways than one, I know this. I fully understand and acknowledge my position here, I really do. My mother never wants to disturb me. Even when it might be a good time to tell me that my grandmother who was in the hospital with something as small as anemia, actually died in there, and I would have gone to see her, if I had just known she was sick. So now that I haven’t called her, she hasn’t called me, and honestly, that’s a great great thing. Because she’ll ask how I am, and ask me to come visit, and ask me to come live with her, and ask if I say no to all of those things if she’d rather she just offed herself with sleeping pills, and when I say no to that, she’ll ask, even the ones that Michael Jackson was using, and I’ll say too soon mom, it’ll always be too soon.

“nearly killed him.” by Sasha at her desk


Thursday November 14, 2013 at Sambuca Grill
10:02pm
5 minutes
creative writing MFA handbook
Tom Kealey


Sitting at my brother, Ian’s, bedside, I listen to his breath. It wasn’t his breath anymore, really, it was through the machine that makes an eerie, almost-human inhale and exhale. His husband, Michael, is getting gelato with their four-year-old daughter, Margaret. “What flavour do you think she’s having?” Ian asks, eyes half open. “You’re awake!” I say. The morning nurse, Shanique, comes in. She’s Ian’s favourite. He watches her huge gold hoop earrings move back and forth, back and forth. “Where’s Margaret?” She asks. Ian motions for me to explain. “They’re getting ice cream.” I massage Ian’s feet. They’ve been achey since Sunday. “Lucky!” Shanique says, checking the pump, the IV, taking Ian’s temperature. “They better bring us back some!” She winks at me and I smile. She leaves in a bustle of light pink scrubs with small bouquets of flowers on them, singing a gospel song that Ian sometimes hums when Michael bathes him. “Would you trade places with me? If things worked like that?” Ian asks, his blue eyes piercing right into the place where love lives, where devotion sprouts wings.

“Serve.” by Julia on her other couch


Monday, September 23, 2013
12:11am
5 minutes
www.foodnetwork.com

I hate everything, Age. So what. If you don’t already know this about me, now you know.
It’s not something I’m even ashamed of anymore. I just hate everything. I hate that my feet don’t touch the floor when I’m sitting at my kitchen table. I hate that I don’t tell everyone who I hate that I hate them. I hate that when someone mistreats a server at a restaurant that everyone in the establishment doesn’t stand up and stare them down until they leave. I hate that people are dying every single second of every single day and we spend all of our time reading about celebrities on crappy blog cites. Am I supposed to feel bad about this? I hate. At least I’m doing something. I didn’t say I hated everyone, Age, that’s different. That’s not what I’m talking about. It’s not like that. It’s like…Everything is annoying because it’s a thing. Even things I love, I hate. There’s always something to hate about something you love. Loving something doesn’t mean you can’t find flaw in it. That’s the biggest mistake human beings make. I’m serious, Age! Love doesn’t mean ‘no matter what’. Even unconditional love doesn’t mean that. It just means there’s an abundance of joy and admiration and care and whatever else love is. I’m not denying that love is beautiful. It’s just swell. But it’s not perfect. So there is room to hate things that you love. I love hot peppers and yet I hate that they burn my eyeballs if I touch them right after chopping. If we loved everything without hating something about it, we’d all be just a bunch of idiots.

“Monument Scale Free” by Julia on her bed


Wednesday, July 17, 2013
1:40am
5 minutes
from Julia’s refrigerator magnets

We could hold hands in the night and go steal flowers from our neighbours’ lawns. We can sneak around in the dark and talk about which houses look like they belong to serial killers. We could stay up late and talk about our fears and our theories and our disbeliefs even if we disagree. We can make a reservation at a restaurant and leave before we order because we just don’t have time for bad food anymore.
Not with you dying.
We make those little moments count now. We make them laugh and dance and sing while we hold them and nurse them and tell them there are no monsters in their closets.
We could drink only aged vintage and things you need crystal for. We could lay in bed all day or all night with the AC blasting so we can still feel each other’s skin without sticking.

“Saving the” by Julia on the 506 going west


Thursday, May 23, 2013
2:12am
5 minutes
An overheard conversation at Gabby’s

Saving the cat from the high tree in the front yard proved to be a real difficult feat. Ajax, the cat, was not afraid of heights or how to get down, but he was, I’m afraid to report, 100% dead when the rescuers made their way up to him. How did he lodge himself so high? How did he stay up there even while deceased? Amber was the most upset by it all…not so much that Ajax was dead, but because he didn’t even say goodbye. Why did he want to be so far away from her before he left for good? Amber stood beneath the tree before the rescuers brought him down, crying her big fat 5 year old tears and demanding an explanation. Ajax was never difficult when he kept himself on the ground; right where he belonged. Amber’s mother tried to explain that cats don’t like to have their loved ones around when they die. That was a nice thing Ajax did, she tried to say.