“My mother, who lost her teeth” by Julia on A and W’s couch

Friday June 15, 2018
9:29pm
5 minutes
What We Lost
Brenda Peynado

I’m praying to anyone who will listen but also to anyone who has the follow through. Not sure if god gets how deeply uncomfortable it is to have a uterus, so I’d rather talk to someone else. I catch myself calling out for my Nonna. She knew how to live with discomfort. With pain. With problems. She was a freaking magician. A soldier. A person with no teeth and the strongest gums you’ve ever seen. Flapping words around her mouth like weapons. Like violin lessons. She kept her dentures in a yellow cup over night. She once moved her entire living room around with a broken arm because “it had to get done.” And no it did not have to get done. Nothing did. Everyone told her to sit down and rest for once. I’m calling on her now because she didn’t have an off switch. She’s probably making god’s bed while god is still laying in it. She did not let anything stop her. Not even a little bit.

“That’s the bottom line.” By Julia on the 2

Wednesday June 13, 2018
3:40pm
5 minutes
From a quote by James Baldwin

It’s underneath my anger and sweeps below the bitterness
The way you say I love you to your father
The way you call him your man
You take all the risks in your life when it comes to loving
You know how to lead by example and love non-stop as if you weren’t worried about it running dry
It’s in the baby picture of you smiling that same smile
So I don’t know if I can stay angry
At the day, at the weather, at the sting of you
Because you can be so good
So soon after claiming your space
I should be happy you have chosen to show me this side of you
And I am happy
That’s the bottom line

“Modern medicine clashes” by Julia at her desk

Thursday May 17, 2018
10:16pm
5 minutes
from The Observer (UK)

The lady with the floppy hat tells me that I should not let the doctors give me anything.
Don’t let them try to make you take more than your body needs.
Rely on homeopathic remedies.
I tell her my mother will flip her shit when she hears this.
The lady is concerned about my mother flipping and I have to tell her, out of joy.
My mother has been researching pills.
I think she thinks she has to prove to my sister that she knows what she’s talking about.
My sister will not take one wikepedia page as Gospel.
She used to take gospel as Gospel and would tell you that she is not that person anymore.
I didn’t want to take pills for my headache because the lady with the floppy hat
tells me that my body is too sensitive.
She tells me no alcohol either if I can avoid it.
I am about to tell her my mother will flip her shit again and then I stop.
I didn’t want to mess anything up but my head was already so messed up.
I took one of the white pills and swallowed the water.
I wasn’t going to take the second one because she said always take less than I need.
And then I took the second one.
Because I really didn’t want this headache.
I don’t know who to believe.
A faint throb quickens.

“I can’t get rid of useful things” by Julia at her desk

Tuesday May 1, 2018
10:10am
Carpet Bomb
Kenyatta Rogers

Mama is a packrat and I’m her packrat baby
she likes to keep all the old papers and
documents just in case just in case
calls me on the phone and asks if I can let
it go to voicemail cause mama wants to leave
me a message that’s gonna make my day
When I listen back I hear her reading me the
old birthday card I made for my baby brother
and she can’t get through it without lauging
so I save the voicemail cause one day I’m
gonna play it on hers so she can listen
Mama liked to keep all kinds of containers
and now I keep all kinds of containers even
if the lids are missing or the bottoms are
warped and melted from accidentally being
put in the dishwasher or on the element
she has taught me so well and our houses
hold memories and everyting else inside

“Response rate: 100%” by Sasha on the 17

Thursday April 26, 2018
9:52pm
5 minutes
poparide.com

Our third Thanksgiving all together, Babs teaches Simon and me how to make a mirepoix – two parts onion, to one part celery, and one part carrot. Babs peels her carrots, but when Simon and I make it later, and she isn’t around, we don’t, almost like we’re honouring Mom.

Mom was a lover of peasant food, or at least that’s what she’d call it. Nothing fancy. As few pots as possible. She made a great Dahl. She used to pack it in our lunches and the other kids would wrinkle their noses when we opened our thermoses, steaming lentils and curry. We weren’t embarrassed. Maybe it’s because we always had eachother, Simon and I. Being a twin is weird. But you do always have someone, and that’s nice.

Babs never asks us to call her anything but “Babs”, not like Dad’s second wife who insisted we call her “Maman”.

“My mother is a wood thrush” by Julia at M’s house

Thursday, April 19, 2018
11:19pm
5 minutes
A List Of My Utopias
Debbie Urbanski

I can recite her laugh lines by heart
in the quiet night I hear her in my rib cage
I saved a couple of her voicemails
when I want to visit with her again
in the dead of winter
when speaking half in english, half italian, half french, my skin knows story
sometimes she sings and I know where I got it from
and where she must have gotten it from
that alone would connect us
the hum.

“When I came down from the attic” by Julia at her desk

Monday April 16, 2018
1:17am
5 minutes
The Portrait
Stanley Kunitz

we never had things in our attic
mom was more of basement type
as in hit the bottom of the rung
type sit on the unfinished concrete
floor in the dark type
the attic was much too high up
too close to God
filled with insulation and spider
webs but not memories of us in
picture form or moth eaten sweater
reminders of our carelessness
of hers
she didn’t like to hide our things
away in a place that might collapse
wanted to be closer to the earth
just in case the apocolypse hit
she made herself a home down there
and on Sundays we were allowed to
visit if we brough her the yogurt
in the tubes and the frozen thyme
in the ice trays

“Wild Birds Unlimited” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday April 3, 2018
9:42pm
5 minutes
From a storefront on West Broadway

On the T-shirts that Zia Nancy brought back
from Atlantic City were birds wearing sunglasses
Nothing is cooler than a bird wearing sunglasses
We were grateful for the oversized and bright
we did not know then how to ask for something better
How to wish we could be lucky enough for more
We were lucky enough then with two kisses and
a chili pepper
thrust into our hands like the lesson was in the
small bravery of turning our tongues on fire
The picture says a thousand things
Not including all of the comments made by
all the cool birds wearing sunglasses
on our T-shirts brought back from Atlantic City
We were built by each other’s dedication to being there
A wall of neon cousins smiling while
Michael cries into his birthday cake

“Luke punched a boy” by Julia on her couch

Friday March 23, 2018
12:11am
5 minutes
Two Moons
Debbie Urbanski

Luke Walker had a feathery step

He made a dark room lift

He loved his dad more than his mom

On Tuesdays he would pack his own lunch

On Wednesdays he would walk through the park, by the ducks chasing hunks of bread

Luke walker kissed his cousin on the mouth once during truth or dare

He liked it

On Christmas morning he would drag the cassette player to the kitchen to make everyone listen to his favourite Yoko Ono song on repeat

“I thought my love would never recover.” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday March 21, 2018
10:57am
5 minutes
A quote by Madeleine L’Engle

It is a gift given often without being returned
a tiny bird’s egg rescued from concrete
the padded footsteps around the house
while he sleeps through the day again
Expectations far away from here

But then it is still true
When the silence is so loud it weeps
the hurt so present it raises the skin
you might think this love bone might never mend
this aching might never go away

He sleeps, through the day again,
her mother forgets to ask about her doctor’s appointment
the padded footsteps, soft from walking with empty
And the next day, a window cracks
the light streaming in just a little

“God may have written” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

10:33pm

5 minutes

From a quote by Nancy Cartwright

Aubrey tells me that she wishes she could sing without trying. Without crying. Without opening her mouth. She asks me to ask God what can be done about that. She asks me because I’m taller than her and therefore closer to God. She’s not wrong…

When I ask her why she wants this she doesn’t answer with words but with a look of disapproval. As if I didn’t already know. As if it needs to be spelled out.

Aubrey tells me it’s important that singing be true. She says she’s heard enough people trying and she doesn’t want to be the kind who has to push put feelings; one who tries to get it right.

Would you be okay with being wrong? I ask her, a little afraid now that I’ve pushed her too far.

She smiles then and blows her bangs out of her oval face.

“all these obsessions we’ve believed” by Sasha on her couch

Monday, February 26, 2018
9:16pm
5 minutes
Wake The Dead
Julia Pileggi

saw the visions this afternoon
their heads blurred gold
knew what was going on
but didn’t trust myself again
stumbled home through icy skulls
you caught me as i fell through the door
straight to the toilet
all of lunch
swirl down
rub back
head split
visions gone
dark room
quiet now quiet please

slept like a ghost
spinning wool out of dreams
you fed me pills
my mother said to take
“get on top of the pain”
“what did she eat?”
“maybe it’s hormonal”
“cranio sacral”
“chiropractor”
okay okay hushhhhhh

as a child i’d come home
to my sister
dark room
quiet now quiet please

“A queen travels” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday, February 24, 2018
10:08pm
5 minutes
Winter Watch
Jennifer Elise Foerster

Mom sits us all down in the living room. Penny’s sucking her thumb and no one calls her out. Liam is playing on his Gameboy and Mom says, “Put your sh – STUFF away, please,” and that means that she really means business. She almost swore.

Dad won’t be home for another twelve minutes and so we just kind of sit there, waiting. “What’s going on?” Liam says.

“Put your socks back on,” Mom says, “your feet smell like Cheetos.”

I hear Dad’s key in the lock and jump up. “He’s home!” Finally. Phew. Penny might suck her thumb right off.

“We’re in the living room, Roberto,” says Mom and I’ve never heard her call him that. It sounds like another language, one that doesn’t belong in 326 Hemingway Avenue.

“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

“handed down mother to daughter” by Julia at Tree Hugger Cafe, Dong Hoi

Friday February 2, 2018 at Tree Hugger Cafe
3:33pm
5 minutes
Without Mercy
Howard Wright

The slow blink while angry
The smooth legs
The internal smile at babies
The compassion
The sometimes door mat sometimes door
The olive oil skin
The walking feet
The running instinct
The humming bone
The story teller
The clam sauce recipe
The porcini mushroom gnocchi
The onion soup
The date and walnut cookies
The open face
The open mouth
The ears
The rage
The hurt
The agency
The curiosity
The attention to details
The service to the ones loved most
The glued roots to Italy
The never ending conversation
The family first

“the holy monkeys and the colourful birds” by Julia on the bus to Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng

Tuesday January 30, 2018
8:39am
5 minutes
You
Anna Margolin

In the morning before we said goodbye to Ann, the tiny blue bird with the long beak that I had seen in my half sleep from the bus reappeared. It cradled a thin branch near the water with its feet and stopped the world from stepping. I tried to tell you that it was a sign. You couldn’t see the blue and told me it was probably some other bird. It was the same one and I knew by the way it sat. Its stillness was a perfect one. I would know it anywhere. I managed to quiet my heart beat long enough to hear. To sense the strength or the message or the absence of expectation. I heard it like the humming of my Nonna, her voice soothing while she used to mend my favourite sleep shorts. I would know that sound anywhere. I would.

“it was poetry, fireworks, ticker tape” by Sasha at Anytime Fitness

Monday January 29, 2018
7:12am
5 minutes
Bad Hand
Mallory Tarses

It was fireworks when Alma was born
It was poetry when she looked up at Judy

“Poetry” Pete says when he’s telling the story
He loves to tell the story
even now
seven years later

“It was the coldest night of the year,” says Judy
stroking Alma’s soft downy fawn hair

“How cold?” Alma asks

“Thirty six below,” says Pete
as he puts another log on the fire
and it sparks
Alma giggles
The old dog Mutt opens one eye

“Where were the fireworks?” Alma asks
She knows the answer
but that’s the quiet comfort of
childhood
asking anyway

“Right here,” says Pete
tapping on his chest
knocking on the door of his heart

“It’s bedtime now,” says Judy
and she’s right but they all hope
that maybe tonight she can stay up
just a little bit longer

Mutt farts in his sleep and
they all laugh and laugh
and laugh
plugging their noses

“chimneys dress right with smoke” by Julia at Nguyen Shack homestay

Wednesday January 24, 2018
9:48pm
5 minutes
A Touch of Cynicism
Yannis Goumas

There’s a new chimney in my parents’ house. I’m glad because they use their fireplace a lot. They make decisions like this and then you never hear the end of it. I’m glad because they use their fireplace a lot. But then you have to hear them tell you about the guy who installed it. And then again. And then about the new handle on the new fireplace door. Because oh yeah, there’s a new fireplace at my parents’ house too. And people are allowed to be excited. That the first time in 20 years they are changing something in the downstairs area. Not the carpets or the windows. But the fireplace that they light every night. My dad even starts the fire for my mom before he leaves for work each morning. She can do it by herself but he still likes to make the house warm for her before he goes. If they tell me again about the fireplace, I will let them. I’ll ask about the guy who installed it. I’ll ask about the working chimney.

“Well, God is perfectly fair.” By Julia on the bus to Can Tho

Tuesday January 23, 2018
12:02pm
5 minutes
Institutional
Tamas Dobozy

Middle child=fairness and unfairness
=justice=judge

When god isn’t fair the middle child feels it. In her toenails. In her tears.
All this adding up does not equal the right sum.
Someone miscalculated.
Someone forgot to check the math. God is supposed to be good at math.
One good for you one good for me one bad for you one bad for me.
And if my turn comes today yours will be tomorrow. Yours will come and mine will come and faith and trust and acceptance and patience.
God doesn’t play favourites with disaster. That’s the rule. But what if it comes and it’s not fair? That’s the rule too. How does the middle child handle all these mismatched moments. How does god give back after all the taking.
Let’s take a bite until it’s gone. The middle child understands fractions. How to ration. How to make sure there is enough for everyone for as long as possible. You want the middle child on the boat when trouble finds you. You want the one who knows how to be fair.

“She’ll use timid hand gestures,” by Julia on the 9

Friday January 19, 2018
4:48pm
5 minutes
Black Roses Bloom
Bill Gaston

She’ll calmly talk about her dad as if he were still alive. She’ll say he’s gone but her arms don’t quite believe it yet. Her jaw won’t accept it as the truth. She’ll stay up late in bed because the book is that good. Except it won’t be a book she’s reading. It’ll be hard to sleep with all those dreams of him. The ones of him showing up at her door with a basket of fresh picked cherry tomatoes and a couple dangerous Chili peppers. The ones of her getting a call from his cell phone but all he does is laugh and laugh when she picks up. The ones of him squeezing her shoulders when he hugs her tight. The ones of him calling her sweetie after a long time apart.

“the amniotic brine of tears” by Julia on the 99

Tuesday January 16, 2018

8:56pm

5 minutes

Memo to a Self

Steven Heighton

I called my mother today and yelled and cried at her while she was helping me. I yelled emotions, not anger. Or maybe frustration and fear and annoyance. And she didn’t get mad. She was kind. She knows when I yell I’m not mad at her but feeling more than my body can handle. She knows that and says it’s okay, or I’m not taking it personally, or you can take out your anger on me. But I’m not angry. And I shouldn’t be yelling. But I am yelling and so I yell that I’m not mad. Or I yell that I love her. Or I yell that I’m afraid of dying before I get to see her again. When I yell my mother rolls a batch of date and walnut cookies. She puts me on speaker phone and forgets to tell me that my dad is in the other room with his leg up cause he can’t straighten his knee. That’s when I feel bad about the yelling. As if my dad, unexpectedly home from work, can hear how ridiculous I’m being and might think I’m an asshole. As if had I known that someone else was in the house I would have put on more of a front. That’s just as ridiculous. I don’t yell at my dad because my dad doesn’t know that I have fears of dying before I see him next.

“where she curled, suspended, gathering” by Julia at her parents’ house

Wednesday January 3, 2018
11:55pm
5 minutes
the woman who married a bear
Anne Haven McDonnell

Nonna used to ask me if she could style my hair after I had already finished doing it. When she was young she used to curl my mom’s into sections by wrapping it around a pencil. I told her no sometimes. But on other days I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she was hurting me; yanking and twisting all the pieces wrong. I know it meant a lot to her to play with my hair. She’d sing quietly as she did, and I choked back some painful yelps so I wouldn’t interrupt her. She used to get her hair done for everything. Had one of her five daughters put her dyed blonde hair in curlers for the baptisms, communions, confirmations, weddings, funerals, barbecues, walks around the block.

“winter solstice ritual at a hippy retreat center” by Julia on Amanda’s couch

Sunday December 24, 2017

1:16pm

5 minutes

Dear Sugar on therumpus.net

In the upstairs room we open the skylight to let in the crisp air. We cover up the light with a dark pillow and a rainbow one that fits better on top. We sit on the floor next to the strawberry creams in a plastic bag. We light the candles of each chakra and place them around us. We light the incense and the joint and we take off our socks. The tears are there before the answers. We always knew we were witches. She reads the booklet and I hold the cards near my heart. She tells me where to lay them and I open my skin to the room. After everything is illuminated we sit inside our sanctuary and let our esses turn to mud.

“when my father went crazy” by Julia at her parents’ house

Friday December 22, 2017

11:43pm

5 minutes

The Monsters Inside

By Eric Sherman

There wasn’t enough breadcrumbs to coat the chicken the way he would have liked. Mom suggested cornflakes instead but he didn’t want to hear about it. The roads were too wild to go into town. Marge begged him not to leave but dad wasn’t one for heeding warnings. He went outside to dust the snow off his Corolla, something he’d done a million times in his life. Mom watched from the kitchen window as she always did, sending him warmth or hope or speed. Then he looked up at her and started taking off all his clothes. First went the winter hat, spiking his thinning hair into a little tuft pointing upward. Then he removed his winter coat, and threw it over the windshield of the car. Mom started laughing. Dad’s face didn’t move.

“It’s not fair, after all, to lick tigers so small.” By Julia at D and A’s house

Saturday December 16, 2017
9:47pm
5 minutes
I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today!
Dr. Seuss

When I’m lucky enough
to feel lucky about my tongue
I think of her.
I think of how
all gums no teeth
she could hurl a yell
at any one of us;
have us quaking
in our boots.
Her tongue was a whip.
A weapon.
She used it and the
chorus did sing.
I got mine from her.
I borrowed it once
tried it on
liked it a hell of a lot
and then kept it
in my mouth
like a hard candy
turning it over
against my cheeks.
She could lick a tiger quiet.
She could hum a baby
back into the belly
of her mother.
She could break my
heart and crack it open
in the same breath.
When I’m lucky enough
to think about the origins
of my loud,
when I’m lucky enough
to think about my tongue,
the light in the room lifts.
I am soothed, tender lion cat
nuzzling in the neck
of her sister.
Calmed, the way
an anchovy might.

“Orange County wild fire” by Julia at her desk

Sunday November 26, 2017
9:25pm
5 minutes
from an Instagram post

Aunt Lisa calls my brother’s phone because she’s afraid of talking to me. I would be afraid of me too if I were her. But right now I want to talk to her. She doesn’t know what kind of mood I’m in; what kind of wisdom I’m tapping into. Keith puts the phone on speaker and Aunt Lisa, whispering, tells him, “You don’t have to tell your sister.” I grab the phone from his palm and I flip off the speaker phone. “I’m not doing this with you, Lisa. You will get the pendant dad wanted you to have and that is it. Okay? Stop trying to get your grubby hands on anything else.” After I hang up, Keith is staring at me. “Is that what dad would have wanted? Don’t you think we’re supposed to be coming together right now?” I almost feel bad for him. “She’ll take the skin off your back if you leave it open.”

“Acceptable for Breakfast” by Julia at her desk

Saturday November 4, 2017
5:36pm
5 minutes
Smittenkitchen.com

Every Zia made sure we had the right breakfast. Zia one would let us have cookies and milk. Oreos to be exact. Wih a tiny esspreso spoon, we’d crush them all up and eat it like ice cream. Zia two had something good to eat too. Salmon gravlax, snails, probably, and cantaloupe.  Zia three never had to feed us. Zia four had homemade leftover pizza, yogurt, biscotti and homo milk. Zia five had captain crunch cereal. Zia six gave us cadburry cream eggs. Zia seven gave us soft boiled eggs and olive oil. That’s not even all the Zias.

“my mother gave me his toolbox” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday Novermber 1, 2017
9:07pm
5 minutes
My Father’s Hammer
John Hodgen

I had never hung a picture frame before. I didn’t like the idea of putting holes in a wall I was going to have to return. Never stayed around long enough to hold anything that wasn’t already mine. That, and each wall ruined cost one hundred dollars to fix, no matter how small. No matter how nook. Then out of nowhere my mother brings over his toolbox and leaves it on the doorstep. Like a sad nicky nicky nine doors. I couldn’t bring myself to open it until a year later. I found other ways to decorate. Most of my frames lived propped against the walls, as if forever waiting for their turn to go up. They collected dust, like they would if they were hanging, but I pretended I liked them that way. A cluster of art to acccent the floorboards and all the corners where the hundred dollar walls meet. One day it was raining and I somehow got up the nerve to open the box. Inside was a note addressed to me. It said “You can always take it down.” I don’t know how he knew.

“I wanted to go on sitting there” by Julia on the 84

Friday October 20, 2017
6:10pm
5 minutes
Rebecca
Daphne Du Maurer

Kenneth and I haven’t spoken since last winter and he knows why. I don’t like it when people call me sensitive when I’m just feeling my feelings. I don’t go around telling everyone who seems to be under reacting that they’re insensitive. They’re entitled to their own way of expression. Obviously. I’m not trying to take that away. But Kenneth knows how I feel about the word and how I don’t like being labelled emotional when I am simply being alive. Yes, of course it goes back to high school. The girls thought I was a loose cannon, fine, that’s what I became. I put on a real show for them too. Throwing pencil cases and screaming, crying a lot. They thought I was a nut job. And to hear someone say that I’m sensitive after knowing that the word only sticks a knife into my heart, really makes me whirl. I wish I could have stayed still, sat there without bubbling up, but I’m not that kind of person. And yet I am a kind person. And he was wrong to try to tell me how to respond. He was wrong to even put me in the position. Anyway he’s probably enjoying Gran’s oatmeal crisp right now. Sitting happy and quiet without me.

“I wanted to go on sitting there” by Sasha at the casita

Friday October 20, 2017
10:47am
5 minutes
Rebecca
Daphne Du Maurer

Mama’s talking about the spaceship’s coming and Papa’s yelling at her to “SHUT UP, CLARISSA!” Petey reaches for Mama and flings his glass of milk off the table and he wails and wails. I take him upstairs and change him into his PJ’s. Mama and Papa yell a bit and Mama cleans up the mess. Kimmy still isn’t speaking and we’re all worried about that.

“The aliens are coming tonight, Phil!” Yells Mama and Papa rubs his temples like he always does.

Petey looks so cute in his one piece red number and I make faces at him so he doesn’t hear the strangeness. He smiles his big toothless moon smile and for a moment everything feels alright.

“how on earth an idiot like that could be trusted” by Julia at the bus stop

Friday October 6, 2017

10:19pm

5 minutes

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou

Wally took off work early again and decided to pick up Dallas and Dax from school even though they still had two periods left. Of course the school doesn’t think to notify me since one of their “guardians” is given my permission. I don’t like him going around there trying to be the hero for two teenage boys who are desperate for their father’s time. He buys them double cheeseburgers and milkshakes while I have whole chicken thawing on the counter. I told him he can keep his privileges if he keeps his drinking under control. I really didn’t want to drag my kids through court to prove to them that their daddy is a fuck up. So far he’s been okay, but I know he’s still polishing off a 24 every two days. That may seem like a small amount compared to some, but these are my kids.

“Protect the blood from attack” by Julia on the 72 bus in Victoria

Thursday October 5, 2017
10:19am
5 minutes
Chinese Tonic Herbs
Ron Teeguarden

My blood is you and I will never not know this. You are my heart beat, pulsing, thriving, keeping me alive. I am yours. I am always yours. The only gift in this life that I can take with me is being carried into this world by the same love as you. In the same room. With the same light.

When the hail comes, I will know it by the stretch of my skin over yours. You will know it by the warmth of protection that comes without doubt. You are my blood and your blood is me. The only true thing that I love. The only pure thing that I know. You have always known me and I will always find lift because of it. How blue the sky tastes when the eyes are river reflecting. You will know it by the thud in my chest.

“Vampire bats also appear” by Julia on the 84

Tuesday October 3, 2017
6:52pm
5 minutes
Dust
Charles Pellegrino

Kinney and I are taking her boys trick or treating tomorrow night. They refused to go with Chet and I don’t blame them. He looks like Beetle Juice to me too. K thinks we should dress up as vampires or something. She doesn’t want to go as Mom for Halloween when she goes as Mom for everyday. I’ll wear your clothes and go as you, I tell her. I don’t want to be a bat. Fine, she says her eyes dead in thought, you give me your fishnets and I’ll go as you. I don’t wear those anymore, I say, but Kinney doesn’t care. She’s dreaming up a costume that has less to do with me and more to do with her enacting some fantasy of me. In her mind I’m the fun one. In her mind that means wearing fishnets. I don’t want to burst her bubble.

“Water music” By Sasha at Knowlton Lake

Monday, October 2
6:59pm
5 minutes
Major Orchestral Works
Felix Mendelssohn

I take a bath in the tub where I learned to swim
My sister across from me
Peppermint soap in our ear’s
The hum of our parents voices rising through the floorboards
Fluffy comfort that we don’t know can be broken

I think about writing this
How my appetite’s returned
Words haven’t satiated or helped or healed
But now they can
And they will

I lather my head with shampoo
And fill an old yogurt container with warm water from the tap
I rinse and rinse and rinse
A blue jay sits on the branch right there outside the window
Sings for awhile

There are stains where the drain is
And my love makes dinner downstairs
My parents live in different houses with different loves
My sister rocks her baby to sleep and sings the
Lullaby we heard
Here

“Thank you for delivering your promise…” By Sasha in Mississauga

Thursday September 28, 2017
6:51pm
5 minutes
From an email

When Mona calls she sounds stressed. More so than usual. She always sounds stressed but today she sounds wired. I ask her what’s up and she says that she lost her prescription and she’s been off her meds. I ask her if she wants me to drive down and she says absolutely not, I’ve got the kids this week and… I tell her it’s no trouble, that I promised Aunt Barb that I’d look out for her. There’s a long silence. I ask if she wants to come to dinner. She says, “Yes.”

“store it where it’s safe” by Julia on the plane

Monday September 25, 2017
12:22pm
5 minutes
overheard on the UP express

Money, my grandmother taught me, was meant to be given away, not stored in a sock drawer or a book you’ll never read again. She said the last one because once she was visiting and snooping and doing what she does, and she opened up my bible and a crisp hundred dollar bill fluttered to the floor. She asked one day, Kelly, where do you keep your karma sutra? I spit out my orange juice onto the front of my blouse. She then said, maybe now that you’re a lesbian, you should find a place to keep your money where you’ll actually look! Then she took a toonie out of her apron and snuck it into my palm, closing my fingers around it like a precious jewel. Buy yourself a clue, she said.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way” by Sasha at the farm

Friday, September 22, 2017
11:19pm
5 minutes
Overheard at York Mills Station

So many faces
So many hands
So many noses
So many mouths saying
Hello
Congratulations
Look at you
You you you
You look beautiful
You’re glowing

All these faces
The heat heat heart heat
Sip a glass of red wine
Take a deep breath
Love is weightless
Love is anchor
Love is here
Love is

My mother’s sister
Talks to my father’s sister
Talks to your cousin’s son

This is why we chose this

This is the recipe we’ve been writing
Together

“never been good at multitasking” by Sasha at the kitchen table


Sunday September 10, 2017
10:56pm
5 minutes
From a text

You’ve never been good at multitasking, sweet one track mind. You complete tasks one-by-one, diligent and focused. If something gets in your way, say, a phone call or the toaster dinging, you are off course, whirling into oblivion. You’ll put on some Eartha Kitt and dance around the living room. You’ll eat blueberry jam from the jar, fridge door open. You’ll call me at work, and ask if I can talk and tell me how one day you’d really like to go to space. I laugh, and say I have to get back to work. You say, “Shit. Me too.”

“keep this info handy” by Julia at her desk


Sunday August 20, 2017
10:01pm
5 minutes
the Shaw pamphlet

Mom gives me the phone card passcode so I can call Nanna in Berlin. She lives there now. She said it’s nicer than Whitby. I tell her that I probably don’t have time to call her cause I have finals this week and she doesn’t let me finish my sentence. She doesn’t think school is a good excuse not to do anything. Probably because she only finished the 8th grade. Probably because she knows when I’m talking out of my ass. Mom tells me to keep that info handy and maybe taake a photo of it on my new fancy icamera. I tell her it’s not an icamera, it’s an iphone, and it’s not fancy, it’s a 4s, and life is not as easy as she thinks.
When I ask Mom why she cares so much if I call Nanna or not, she laughs for longer than is necessary and comfortable. “If you have kids,” she says, “and they don’t call me, I will always blame their mother first.”

“quite desperate to escape all the people” by Julia on her couch


Saturday July 29, 2017
12:39am
5 minutes
The Humans
Matt Haig


Melissa throws a party for her sister by accident. She doesn’t mean to be in charge but she’s the most capable and everyone knows it. She tries to stay out of it and offer mild help here and there but ends up running the show with a forced smile and a couple stollen tokes. I feel bad that she gets stuck with all the planning. All the dark stuff. All the alone. Her parents don’t call her to ask about her health. They don’t wonder how she’s doing after finding out she needs surgery. They don’t wonder how she’s doing after going through surgery. Instead she’s the reliable one. The one everyone calls when they need to complain. Or throw a baby shower. Or pick up her nieces from dance camp. Melissa tries to be sweet for her sister. For her sister who doesn’t even care about being at the party thrown in her honour.
When I finally manage to get her alone I ask her. Why are you running? Where do you plan on going? Do you need any help?
She laughs in my face and tells me I’m her funniest cousin.

“lick your thumb and go to town.” by Julia in Amanda’s bed


Sunday July 23, 2017
1:03am
5 minutes
The Four Hour Chef
Timothy Ferriss


He puts the Sunday sauce on the table and dunks his forefinger into the bubbling red without a second thought. He tastes it, likes it, gives it a stir. His mother would be proud. His ribs slide off the bone like melted butter. He did well to remember how she did that. Sunday sauce growing up was what they’d call it when they actually had time to prepare a meal with as much love as they’d like to put in. Sundays are for dinner and for church on the little television and for home made bread. Now he Sundays on Thursdays or Tuesdays depending on the week. He makes a Sunday sauce and thinks of when he was a boy. When he came to Canada in January and saw snow for the first time. When his whole family liked being together before the sickness and the problems and the open wounds began to fester.

“blackberry bushes” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Thursday July 20, 2017
12:13am
5 minutes
From an email

My sister and I pick blackberries on the land she just bought. I don’t know how many acres because I’m not good with that kind of thing. There’s forest, and river, and fields. It’s a farm, but I always think of animals when I think of a farm and there’s only a cat here. It’s so beautiful it makes my stomach ache. I instantly feel at home, walking the land and making fritattas in the oven. We pick jewel after jewel. One in our mouthes and one in an old goat yogurt container that we’ll bring back to the house for the others.

“I didn’t want to wait in that line either” by Julia on the plane


Friday July 7, 2017
6:25am
5 minutes
overheard at Vancouver international airport

Dear JT,

It’s almost time to say goodbye. We’ve all been awake since four in the morning on account of a sweaty sleep and a flight to catch. The bed has new sheets but you won’t feel them till next week. I slept without clothes and it was still an inferno. I am almost glad you weren’t there. of course I’d rather see you, and even now as I write this, I regret saying that. I think Emmett will be fine on trip-we got him one of those thingy spinnings? I don’t know what they’re called but I’m sure you’ve heard of them. They’re everywhere.

“choosing sides” by Julia on her couch


Tuesday July 4, 2017
10:13pm
5 minutes
Walsh by Sharon Pollock

the man takes my photo and asks which parent I love more
I have to think about it
who would I say if I wasn’t saying it to get a good shot
mom or dad
I don’t wait when he asks me
twice
I say my dad
I say my mom
but of course
I smile them both
Wonder if I was supposed to mention that they are equally wonderful
that they have shaped me each
that my mom signed my report cards
and my dad taught me how to
throw a baseball

“is there somewhere else she could go?” by Julia on the 7 bus


Friday June 30, 2017
5:30pm
5 minutes
overheard on the 7

Bobby smoothes down the peach fuzz under her chin to calm down. When she was new to school in the 6th grade two of the good looking boys used to tease her about it. She had no idea they were doing it. For some reason she always instinctively reached for it when she needed to feel close to herself and to her inner child.
Maxwell is banging every pot and every cupboard door but refuses to say anything. He is very aggressive about his passive aggressiveness. It is clear he doesn’t want Bobby’s younger sister, Hannah, to stay with them over the long weekend. He doesn’t think he should have to share his living room with anyone.

“while the couple works out their troubles without distraction” by Julia on the 99


Monday June 12, 2017
5:00pm
5 minutes
Committed
Elizabeth Gilbert


My sister tells me she doesn’t want kids and it ruins everything. I know she used to but then she dated a man she didn’t want to have a copy of so she changed her mind and then things were better for her. I always thought if anyone, it would be her, and I would happily be the world’s best Zia to her kid, and even co-parent when I needed to. My sister breaks my heart accidentally when she breaks the news. I wonder who will give our parents grandchildren now? Isn’t she the one who has always done the right thing? Up till this I have been very lucky that no one expects much of me other than poetry and improvised musicals about my day.
How weird it must be for everyone that I’m the one who caught the bouquet at Stef’s wedding, and guessed the exact measurement of Cheryl’s pregnant belly at her baby shower.

“Part of the explanation” by Julia on F’s couch


Friday June 9, 2017
9:24pm
5 minutes
The Globe And Mail

I have been avoiding calling my mother because I know I am going to cry.
She is avoiding me too for the same reason.
Earlier this week my sister tells me that the family reunion is off.
After swearing in the bathroom and crying and yelling and crying some more,
I tell her I’m sorry for overreacting.
My sister tells me she could listen to me swear for days, and if it’s any consolation,
I was not overreacting, but reacting, and both would be okay.

Today I finally phone her and for whatever reason we start speaking french to each other.
I think because this softens the blow.
Keeps things light, after all, it is only a family that will not be reuniting.
It’s not the end of the world.
I hear the sigh in her voice as she mixes in some words in Italian, some a combination of both.
I tell her I already know.
She laughs.
Then later she cries.
We both do.

“he can sound like the rain” by Sasha on her couch


Friday May 26, 2017
12:48am
5 minutes
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
Dr. Seuss


“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Gemma-ma-ma, happy birthday to you!”

Mom’s made strawberry shortcake. I don’t have to request it, she knows it’s what I want. Calvin is a vegan so she even whipped up some tofu thing for him to have. What a woman. Her face has changed over the last nine months. She’s looking more and more like Gran. It’s the first birthday in our family since Dad died, and I know that Cal just sang the “ma-ma” because that’s what Dad would’ve done. While we eat our cake, the rain starts. It gets quiet.

“Maybe that’s him,” Mom says.

“There is nothing here” by Julia at her desk


Thursday May 25, 2017
10:08pm
5 minutes
This is It
James Broughton


I have waited for inspiration to strike
like the match of missed connections
like the booklet of nose aids on high alert
There is no force of flame, nor flicker
There is nothing here that looks like me

According to a long lost diary from my
mother’s storage locker we all gave up
on her when we believed that she was fine
Of course we didn’t think to ask further
to make sure that she was being honest
If I could defend us without seeming
defensive, I would say we didn’t want to know
the truth and so we let her smile

We gave her short hugs like they wouldn’t
be our lasts
Called her twice a month
business as usual, instead of once a week
And she thought it would be too much
to ask for more
And she wanted to ask for more.

“and they’ll break your heart” by Julia at her desk


Sunday May 21, 2017
6:14pm
5 minutes
trueactivist.com

My sister gave birth to a beautiful baby a week ago. It is the happiest my entire family has ever been, and I’m including the time my mom caved and let us get KFC the day we moved into our new house. My sister called her Cleo and all of us can swear we’ve never known love until her. Harper’s doing great. She has a glow. She looks as calm as if she’d been a mother her whole life. It doesn’t look as hard as I thought it would be, of course Harper has always been good at figuring things out. Cleo latched right away and seeing my baby sister stroke her daughter’s cheek as they bond there in the rocking chair–it’s all I need to see to send me into a fit of emotion. I am overcome by how beautiful it all is. Even Danya is in awe, and we never thought she’d step foot in our parents’ house since she tried to burn it down in 1994.