“poetry got a mainstream reputation” by Julia on Michael’s old bed

Monday, December 28, 2015
5 minutes
LENNY letter no. 14

Gabriela is my mother’s first cousin but she was disowned by the family in 1977 because she was “spreading the lies of the devil through her evil written word.” My mother only mentions Gabriela by accident when I ask her if we have any writers in the family. I ask because my son, Warren, is working on his family tree for school and has to answer a bunch of questions about the jobs his relatives have had. My mother tells me by accident that Gabriela used to write poetry about things people were too afraid to talk about. In one she remembers well, Gabriela wrote a line that said “The Church is lying in the Church. The Church is hiding in the Church. We do not know what we refuse to see.”
“So, she was a poet?” I ask my mother.
“No,” she tells me, “She was a sinner.”

“I didn’t have a word for it” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday, March 16, 2013
5 minutes
Everything Bad Is Good For You
Steven Johnson

You took your time going down the steep side, towards the lake, with the trout and the laughter. I walked behind you, in case you fell backwards, which, in hindsight, isn’t the smartest, but… Oh well. I don’t have a word for that day, or the day before, when we finally got down to it and started working. It was Boxing Day when you’d said, “Let’s put together your family tree for real…” I thought you were kidding, I thought, “Why would you want to put together my family tree? Why would that even interest you?!” But I said, “Sure,” and didn’t think much of it. We drove up to my aunt’s cabin on Georgian Bay and brought all the books, the folders, the cassette tapes of my grandfather talking about the “Old Country”. We were smoking a joint on the dock. “Have you even put together a family tree before? Is this your first time?” You smiled and ashed into the lake.

“Nothing to do” by Sasha in her bed

Monday January 28, 2013
5 minutes
Free and Easy
Lama Gendun Rinpoche

There was nothing to do but watch you go. I, biting my lip and begging my tears not to fall, and you, a strong back with a blue coat and your ponytail turning grey. I hadn’t noticed. I guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention. It was terrible when the door didn’t even close behind you, when it stayed ajar, questioning whether or not I might follow. I left it like that for a long time, hours and hours. Finally, I got up from my place on the floor and closed it and locked it and thought about how far you’d be. Maybe in Prince Edward County.

You’d told me that you’d never seen hands as small as mine, that they looked like they belonged to an eight-year-old boy. I took it as a compliment. I’d always wanted to be good at T-ball. You’d told me that when I was born, you thought that you saw an army of ancestors walking towards you every time you looked at the horizon. You laughed when you said it. You thought it was dumb now, but then? Then, you’d thought it was a powerful message about my green, green, branch on the family tree.