“I had a voracious appetite” by Julia at the desk

Thursday April 23, 2020
6:50pm
5 minutes
You Never Stop Saving The World
Don English

When I was little
5, 6, halo hair of fuzz
ringlets underneath
I sauced my face a smile
like the Joker on Nonna’s
Bones

Her ribs were silky smooth
the meat would slide off
and you could slurp the juice
off a clean sword

They were my favourite
growing up I wanted to
be exactly like my father
if he held a hot pepper
while eating then I held
a hot pepper while eating
and if he didn’t wipe his
mouth until after he was
finished, I would smile
sauce all over the table
until I had gotten full

There’s a photo of me looking
satiated and filled with
glee after finishing my plate
and likely bites off my sister’s
picky plate and my brother’s
baby plate, meat sauce on the
collar of my balloon patterned shirt

I liked being the favourite
in some way, eating when
maybe I wasn’t really hungry
but in the mood to taste
something

My father liked a girl who
could eat and any kid that
didn’t say ew before trying
something as if they knew
everything about everything
except how to ride a bike
maybe or to finish their
dinner before begging for
dessert

“Pink Pearl” by Julia on her couch

Sunday April 12, 2020
8:46pm
5 minutes
from the Dixon eraser

They called her Pearl
she liked to wear a string of them to dinner when her grand babies visited

Her grand babies were all grown up and and she took great pride in filling their glasses with red wine

She liked that they could raise a glass to one another, laugh at the same jokes, and see each other as friends

Pearl would often mix Cocoa-cola into her wine
she liked things sweet as can be
added a teaspoon of sugar to her water, same as she did for her grand babies when they were still babies

Sometimes she would fall asleep at the table in mid laugh
her dyed blonde curls grazing the glass

Sometimes they would shake her awake and others they would leave her there

“They’ll be able to describe it” by Sasha at Knowlton Lake

Tuesday March 24, 2020
10:49pm
5 minutes
Teaching a Child the Art of Confession
David Shumate

We will be able to describe these strange limbo weeks
one day
In the future
When things are (aren’t) back to normal

My father says that the data shows that after a big event
People want things to return to how they were
They don’t want change
They want their coffee back
Their subway to the office back
Their Tuesday game night back

On the radio today
The broadcaster says that the funeral homes in Italy
Can’t keep up with the bodies
They are sending them to an ice rink
I gasp
No one can gather to mourn
so priests are holding rites online
But many seniors don’t have the Internet

From the corner of the back deck where I get reception
I speak to my sister
A world away
Three hours away
In the city

She says that they’ve run out of some fruit
some greens
And won’t be able to get stuff delivered until Friday

I make a mental note to update our inventory spreadsheet
Today we ate four eggs
Kale stalks
Green onions
Cilantro
Three pieces of bread
Avocado
Millet
Corn
One can of black beans
Dried mango
I must be forgetting something

The call keeps cutting out so I find myself
shouting into the melting birch forest
“I can’t stop thinking about that the babies and kids are safe!”
Something barks or howls in the distance
I turn around to look

“At times they cast themselves” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday, February 21, 2020
2:34pm
5 minutes
My Love Feeds the Crows
Mark Sullivan

Gus used to laugh when we sang off tune on purpose. See, everyone in the family has perfect pitch. Singing off tune took great effort. Kelly’s brows would furrow, she was trying so hard to stay off tune. Even when he was exhausted, coming off a night shift, to recovering from a flu, if my sisters and I sang off tune, it was only a matter of minutes before Gus had tears rolling down his cheeks. We could see his big old tonsils, he laughed with such a wide open mouth. Something Latin always really did him in, must’ve been the contrast to how we normally sang the songs of his childhood.

“My new bedroom was an old kitchen.” By Julia on her couch

Saturday February 15, 2020
7:09pm
5 minutes
Waxy
Camilla Grudova

If you count the summers we went strawberry picking and made milkshakes you could say we had a nice childhood. If you count the times we got sent to our rooms without dinner you might say the opposite.
The one who gave birth to me wasn’t very nice. I learned later that nice was all I ever wanted and she wasn’t that. She hated me and I hated her and everyone knew it but nobody stepped in to do anything about it.
I might have loved my stepdad or the one after him if they would have. I might have known that it wasn’t some kind of divine punishment.
They didn’t know how to handle me let alone a new baby on the spectrum who would grow to run wild like a huskey anytime we left the door unwatched.
I wish I had the same tendency.

“The truth is” by Sasha in the living room

Tuesday January 28, 2020
5:30pm
5 minutes
Pea Madness
Amy Leach

There is no map to the place that we are going
there never is but we fool ourselves or follow in the footprints of our parents
follow the path whacked and weeded by hands that resemble our own
follow those rain boot steps
trying to match them despite their fading
where does the memory go of the waking to the voices
where does the cell carry the hum and the sob
match toe to heel
sole to soul
despite their different size
despite their different breaking

It’s good to be back where the rain makes sense
(and release and sense again)
where I can find the rhythm of my walking
the salt in my pores
the beat of my new heart
free from ice and noise
It’s good to be back where the crows circle and call
”You are exactly where you need to be”

I wish I could protect her from the breaking
the rattling knees
I wish I could protect her from the ground splitting open
but it will
and it does
and it will again
So it goes
So we call in the sky of chaos
So we make bread with the sand of the path those before us took
Spread it with butter and humility

“Sit comfortably” by Julia on her couch

Sunday January 19, 2020
9:35pm
5 minutes
Sparrow’s Guide to Meditation
Sparrow

comfort is relative
relatives bring comfort
comforting relatives

on Friday my mother sent the news
she called it dreaded
after all the time zones it travelled to reach her
the last time we spoke she told me she was on the phone with him and he switched over to Zia, and then when she wanted to say bye to him he said, “tell her I’ll say bye to her tomorrow”
and then tomorrow was there but he had slipped into a coma over night
and those are the last words she will remember
that tomorrow always comes but sometimes it doesn’t bring everybody from yesterday with it

the day was spent sending love up to the sky, to the family I have lost up until now
and to the family feeling lost all over Ontario and Lozzola
trying to ease whichever hurt they were holding

“Women simply take better care of themselves” by Sasha at Black River Farm

Thursday January 2, 2020
4:01pm
5 minutes
The Compass In Your Nose
Marc McCutcheon

In hushed voices (I hush you a million and twelve times and every time you hate it and every time you forget to lower your voice! Oh this age of whispering and hushing!) Lying beside sleeping Lola, arms splayed, fingers touching my breast, your beard. You say that this is a matriarchy here, and it is, you’re right. I wonder when this started, this women rising full belly full heart full mind. The generation before ours, I think. The one ring in the tree before this one, the one we built, the one we made the next ring from. You come from a patriarchy, a place where the men speak louder, a place that I don’t know the terrain of completely, even after these stretching years, taut and long, but still so much unknown, so much yet to be understood. Children here, in the matriarchy, are at the top, because we know that if we raise them to be attuned, to be wise, to be powerful, we might save something that the ring before forgot about, might bring back something lost a long time ago.

“walk-in counselling clinic” by Julia on the Megabus

Friday December 27, 2019
9:35am
5 minutes
from a sign

Devra puts on her new lace cardigan. New to her, hand me down from Aunt Mary’s kids. Yesterday she went through the big garbage bag of the no-longer wanted/fitting and managed to find one item. The coral cardigan was the only thing that didn’t instantly turn her into a baby doll. Aunt Mary’s kids were young. Devra could fit into the tights but she didn’t feel proud to be wearing a 12 year old’s stuff.

She pats her face dry after washing with the new rose-water cleanser she got for Christmas and looks herself in the mirror. “Today’s a good day for it.” She says to herself.

“You can do the job when you’re in town” by Julia in Amanda’s bed

Thursday December 26, 2019
11:26pm
5 minutes
Walking In A Winter Wonderland

visiting my sister in law and she’s a trip, I’ll tell you a story. She has this kid, right, who is like, I don’t know, 10 years old or something. And she makes her sleep in her bed with her still. Like, it’s not the kid who needs to sleep with her mom, but now she kind of does since her mom’s been making her all this time. She’s lonely, I guess. My brother doesn’t even want kids and there he goes finding a woman to marry who already has one. Kind of nuts if you ask me. Like how fair is it for the kid? Shouldn’t she get the kind of dad who will be able to love her? And so my sister in law texted me
before I even met her. She apparently made my brother tell her our whole family’s numbers so she could text us about an “emergency” about Kyle. So I was texting Kyle like, are you safe, can you tell me when you get this, cause I thought he broke his arm or something worse, right?

“You soda cracker!” By Julia in Baden

Wednesday December 25, 2019
11:09pm
5 minutes
Soda Cracker 
Raymond Carver

Listen, Libby, we’re not doing this again. Your brother really likes this girl and I don’t need you giving her a hard time. Now when they get here I want you on your best behaviour. No aggressive questions. No buts! I don’t want to hear it. You don’t go attacking people, I don’t care how funny you think that is. Liam’s never done that to you. I bet if you really liked a boy he wouldn’t be scheming over there trying to make it harder for you. Surely you can’t imagine it, but being newly in love for a boy like your brother is already difficult. There’s all the unwritten rules he’s got to navigate and bringing her home to meet the whole scrutinizing family, prickly older sister and all? Now come on if you think you’re a soda cracker!

“Outside the ripe hayfields” by Julia on her couch

Saturday December 21, 2019
8:55pm
5 minutes
My Father’s Lunch
Erica Funkhouser

Daddy was smiling as he told me about taking me to work with him. You could see a little glint in his eye like he’d been thinking about it on his own. Planning, smiling. I couldn’t wait to go with him on account of that little smirk. You could tell he was excited to show off his little girl and let them all know who would be taking over the business.

When I think of him that way it brings a tear to my eye. Daddy always knew how to make me feel special. I guess when someone really believes in how special you are, it oozes out of them. I wouldn’t trade that look for anything.

“Still coughing” by Julia at her desk

Friday November 22, 2019
5:04pm
5 minutes
From a text

Bitsy’s brother clears his throat over the phone and it is the worst sound he makes.
It is the worst sound to hold there in the ear, without warning, right there.
He doesn’t know how loud it is, or how frequent, and telling him now after all
these years might be hard. Might be hard to say, Listen I Love you but your throat-clearing
is aggressive. My Bro, I love you, but you just need to pull the phone a little bit away
from your mouth when you feel one coming on. Listen I love you.
He’s not coughing anymore which is good. Now he believes he has to clear it even if there’s
nothing really there. It’s a trick of the mind. The old sickness still clinging.

“I remembered a story” by Julia at her desk

Friday November 15, 2019
4:40pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Laurens van der Post

papa used to make up stories on the spot
after being begged
after we climbed him like baby baboons
after we heard one good one and knew
there had to be more where that came from

sometimes he’d do it with his eyes closed
and the telling would be the only thing
keeping him from sleeping
he’d say “I’m just resting my eyes”

mama never made up stories
but told the same ones over and over again
usually to teach us a lesson
but sometimes because she couldn’t hold
a memory any better than she could hold space
for Bastien’s learning disability

mama didn’t want any stupid kids and that’s
what she thought she got
she and Bastien were so much a like
you’d swear he had the same thing she did
although she’d never admit that she had
anything but a lack of patience

papa doesn’t remember the tales he used
to tell us, and that’s how you know he
was really in the moment and not somewhere
else wishing he wasn’t

mama doesn’t remember hating Bastien

“it was just sort of whispered around my family” by Julia in her bed

Friday October 25, 2019
10:04pm
5 minutes
Choosing Happiness
Veronica Ray

the weird thing was we were all saying it just at different volumes

when dad tried to make us keep our doors open he didn’t really know why and he didn’t know how to tell us that so he stood his ground

unfair it’s unfair but it would not get brought up at the dinner tribunal

no one said it then or ever or louder than a whisper because it was all still in beta: what might happen if we disrespected any of them,
even unintentionally

better than what they got we were told, and sure, it was, and sure, they learned, but we had so many questions answered with “because I said so” it stopped making sense when you heard it

and “why” felt like the emptiest hug, the most out there on a limb next to I love you

that whispered around our family too but at least we fixed that one when it counted most

“The phone doesn’t ring” by Julia at her desk

Friday October 18, 2019
9:12am
5 minutes
Low Noon
Jim Ralston

When we took the phone of the hook we realized we liked it better just us three.
Bobbi cried less. I think it’s because she didn’t feel like we were going to
leave her to answer somebody else’s call. It should have always been this way
but when the phone rings, it’s another agonizing reminder that there isn’t
enough time in the day to keep up with everything being thrown at us. And
answering is sometimes the only thing we can control in a sea of chaos that
goes around buzzing whether we want it to or not.

And then it was quiet. Alistair finished his will and Bobbi napped in his
arms. We were afraid of this infinite reminder that one day we
would no longer hear his sound. How terrifying it is to think of your family
losing one member of its voice. Again, to things we can’t control no matter
how hard we tried.

The phone doesn’t ring now. We can connect it later if we want, but for today
while both Bobbi and Alistair are breathing, we don’t even think about what
we might have missed.

“we should not trust the masses” by Julia at M and D’s table

Thursday August 15, 2019
1:03pm
5 minutes
Discourses
Epictetus

This tiny bug starts crawling on my arm
and I know I’m not supposed to freak out
about a tiny bug but I’m afraid because
my dad told me that they were going to
suck my blood and even though I have
never seen teeth on a bug this teeny tiny
I believe him because he is my dad and
why would my dad lie to me especially
if it’s about being bit or not being bit

I am going to the Philippines with my
mom and my dad told me there were
all kinds of bugs flying around there so
now I am scared of the Philippines the
way I am afraid of my backyard because
what if I get bit and then I never get to
see him again and I shouldn’t be going
in the first place if I know that there are
bugs that are always trying to land on me

I didn’t apply to university because my
dad said that there are so many people
all at once and he reminded me that I
don’t do very will with big crowds because
someone might step on me or hurt me or
stab me or steal my purse or push me or
take me and put me in their car and hide
me in their basement for 4-7 years while
I am forced to eat dust and have their babies

“we should not trust the masses” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday August 15, 2019
10:02am
5 minutes
Discourses
Epictetus

“Do not trust the masses”, Domenic says, drinking his dry white wine and scratching his chin. His beard is turning grey. I haven’t seen him since I was a teenager, and he looks the same but a bit more pickley.

“I don’t, I’m just trying to – …” Domenic puts his hand on my hand, rested on the tabletop.

“You must follow your own sense, or one day you’ll wake up and you won’t know how you got to where you got to. That is not a good feeling. Take it from me.” He finishes his wine. My mother tops him up. She’s been sitting quietly across the table, watching.

“I believe that we can have our own sense, and be contributing members of society,” I look up at the starry sky.

“Slicing lake Ontario” by Julia at her desk

Sunday August 11, 2019
8:27pm
5 minutes
Catastrophe that Nearly Brought Down a Plane
Sabyasachi Nag

Darling tonight did you hear me ask you
a less than hypothetical question about
our children and about the future that
might show you just how much I’ve thought
about these things?

You didn’t seem to clock it and that
didn’t bother me then but it’s bothering
me now and I wished I had said, Excuse me
did you hear what I said about our kids
without you leading the charge?

These are moments for me to reflect on
by myself I suppose, because did I say
it out of truth gargling against my cheeks
or did I say it out of poetry and the
persistent chase of perfect phrases?

Are you changing your mind now that
I’ve got mine on straight? It would be so
sad after all this time if we had found
ourselves on different pages again. It
might break my heart into weapons.

I think about this future family of
ours and where the hell are they going
to live? In this one bedroom apartment?
In this city that you said yourself might be
too soft for them and for us and everything.

“she’s in a shoe store with her friends,” by Julia at her desk

Friday August 2, 2019
9:42pm
5 minutes
Some Notes Against the Burden of Representation
Rahat Kurd

She’s waiting for her dad because on Saturdays her dad takes her to lunch.
He takes her to the food court and lets her pick: Chinese food, or New York Fries.
He’s sweet to her on these days, shows her off to his employees.
They talk about her hair, how it’s like his, how she looks just like him.
She’ll help him rearrange the shoes in the window after she wipes down the clear shelf.
She feels like she’s helping him. He’ll likely redo it after she leaves.
The faster the shoes get organized in the window, the faster he can take his break.
He is sweet to her on these days, doesn’t tell her how to do it better.

He throws his tie behind his shoulder and dives in to the burger, or the chicken balls.
He asks if she’s done any good shopping yet and she tells him about the earrings she bought; little ladybugs
She won’t remember what they talked about years from now but here in this moment she thinks she’ll never forget.
Next Saturday she should ask her friend if she wants to come, he says he’ll drive them.
Maybe they could catch a movie at the Cineplex Odeon in the afternoon.

“Come visit me in Halifax soon!” By Julia on her couch

Tuesday July 30, 2019
8:58pm
5 minutes
From a thank you card

I remember visiting Halifax for the first time and I thought your parents’ place was right around the corner. Nope. It was a few hours away. There were way more mosquitoes. And I loved it. Not the mosquitoes-those bites swelled up as big as golf balls. But your family? Welcoming me with a huge pot of fresh mussels? I was in east coast heaven. I could have married you right then and there.

Your mom showed me photos of your playing with a guitar when you were so small and it melted my heart. I loved you even more seeing you with them. They loved you with the biggest love I’d ever seen.

When we went to see the whales, everyone said that each time on the boat they’d seen them. I didn’t see any whales and that was the only disappointing bit.

I will always remember your mom razzing me about being short, like an elf. I really hope she’s well. And your dad. I hope your sisters are great. And their kids. I don’t know how many there are now…

We were so young back then. We were so open to everything.

“the name of being an outlaw” by Julia on A’s couch

Sunday July 28, 2019
12:42am
5 minutes
Mustang Man
Louis L’amour

So you rebelled when you were a kid, learned to step off the sauce cause it wasn’t allowed, then you got yourself carried home without remembering what you wished you could remember.

Guess it was hard for your parents who really wanted the best for you but maybe made it seem more desirable without meaning too. Reverse psychology. Right.

Guess it was hard for all of you.

So when they saved you, you felt like they were punishing you and when they punished you you felt like they were unloving you but they didn’t mean that either. They wanted you to know that you were loved so much that your injury is their injury.

And maybe it just didn’t come out that way in words or in actions because they didn’t know how to communicate it. Maybe they never questioned their love for you so they never thought you might question their love for you and need any reassurance.

Some of us don’t know what we don’t know.

I’m sure you felt afterwards that it was all fine. That you learned something.

They learned something too.

“She heard a deeper vibration” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday July 18, 2019
10:50am
5 minutes
From a quote by Willa Cather

She sits on the edge of my bed
her body different than ever
but this isn’t about her body
for once
this is about her transformation
not that body and transformation are mutually exclusive
just that too much attention has been paid to form
and now it’s about something formless
more important

She’s wearing a burnt caramel
three quarter sleeved shirt
it’s her colour
when I see this colour in the wild it reminds me of her
She’s talking about gratitude
like it’s her new guru
like it’s saving her life
and it is

Shrouded in white
glowing aura of wisdom and wreckage
gratitude leads her back
to the place that broke her
heart
the first time round

“Llttle wallet multicolour has zip” by Julia in Kettle Valley

Saturday June 29, 2019
7:01am
5 minutes
from and old text from my dad

I look for this bag and you are Ocean far telling me there’s something in it for me
I look for this bag
What bag
I took this bag Out
I took another
I put the bag Away
I shelved the other
There is nothing new and you are Ocean away telling me
You are telling me it’s there and did I find it?
I am worried it’s money
I know it’s money and I’m worried because you snuck it in there
Where?
Where did you sneak it?
It, still a surprise
In the Bag, you say
Front Pocket
It’s been days and do I always take out my things and put them away without looking?
Wouldn’t it catch my eye?
Tell me where to find it again, I say
Ocean away, you say
Llttle wallet multicolour has zip
Little wallet
Must be money
I have no multicolour wallet but
You call it a wallet because I
had some money in there
Just in there
Because I do that
If you had looked in my book
you might have put it there too

“Get an alert when the price drops” by Julia on her balcony

Monday June 17, 2019
6:41am
5 minutes
From FlightHub.com

dad wants to see me
pay for my flight wants to see me
I speak to him on the phone and I tell him don’t worry
about the money right now

but I dont think my narcisism will rest if I let it believe that he just wants us all there together.
I was just there.
Last month I was there and we saw each other for 3 Sunday lunches in a row and 3 Monday dinners.

I chose to live far away.
I didn’t realize how often I’d want to go back.

Summer in the city is packed with juice. I like to be there for that so I can suck it dry, let it crust on my chin.

I don’t want to say no because of money but money becauses me much more than I’d like it to.
It’s always more than it says and the deals come with an asterisk.

“to inspire his team” by Julia in J’s attic

Tuesday May 7, 2019
9:41pm
5 minutes
From a text

well the first thing would be to see his team
see his team, learn their names
names learned? check
seeing team, know each one, can have conversation with any of them
about their families?
know enough about their home life?
uncheck, box currently empty
can smile?
yes, check
don’t need a family tree to smile at someone
smiling leads to inspiration
smiling leads to conversations about family
ah, okay, inspiration comea before family
see team, check, know names, check, smile, check, inspiration?
leads to
leads
okay lead by smile
no?
lead by example
be the leader
smile

“a wish for happiness” by Julia in Jessica’s attic

Tuesday April 29, 2019
10:22pm
5 minutes
A quote by the Dalai Lama

I wish for happiness the way I wish for
a seat sale to fly me back into the swell
of my mother’s longing. I wish for her
linguini and clam sauce above all other
things, and dad’s Shrimp With a Vengeance.
He does not make them the same way twice
and for the first time in my life I am happy
that I inherited that from him. Earlier I
told J that I didn’t know how I was going
to cut the potatoes until I put the knife
to one. She thought I was being self-
deprecating again, a trait I did not get
from him. If I have to trace it back, I’d
say I got it from my mother but hers has
gone away now since she started swearing.
I think I’m the one she got that from.
The first time I came home from theatre
school she was shocked at how easily
my tongue had turned to fucking mud.

“my mother is waiting” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday March 26, 2019
8:07pm
5 minutes
The Greeter
T Kira Madden

Call the woman who decided you were good, the one who heard a whisper of you and was convinced. No shouting match with the sky gods, the enough of you was felt by her first. Call her on the phone and hear her laugh. The real one that she gives you at her own jokes, the real one that you cannot will not forget.

My mother is not waiting by the phone but she will run to it.

After getting rid of all the portable ones in the house, she went out and bought phones with long, curly
cords. She was born running, the woman can run up stairs and around tracks and to the neighbour’s house to give her infant the Heimlich Manoeuvre. My mother was ready and is ready. She doesn’t have call display but she knows it’s me by the tone of the ring. She knows me by the song on the other end waiting for her.

“as the cells of his scalp” by Julia on Kits beach

Thursday March 21, 2019
5:06pm
5 minutes
Candlelight
Tony Hoagland

It was disgusting because it wasn’t my filth. I guess you could make the same argument that it could be less repulsive due to my separation from it, but let me set the record straight: I threw up in my mouth the moment this woman left her apartment. Well, in her defence it was a short term rental and she was probably getting a cleaner with the deal or whatever her husband’s work was willing to pay. But in the meantime, to live with so much food on the floor it could feed a small family for days…I shouldn’t continue. You’ll get so grossed out. Okay but let me say one thing, her sweet 9 month old had extreme eczema and when he’d wake up from his nap or if he got upset he’d start ripping at his little head. There was bits of his scalp all over the apartment—on the back of his high chair, on the changing mat, on the carpet. I considered if his home were clean that he might be less upset at the things he couldn’t control and less hell-bent on destroying his own skin. I also know that these things aren’t likely connected. But I wondered.

“He had to warm the guy up fast” by Julia on her bed

Tuesday March 12, 2019
8:53pm
5 minutes
The Obsidian Chamber
Preston & Child

So Ray is playing ball this year and he’s got one hell of an arm. I was warming him up in my backyard last night and that kid almost took my nose off. One hell of a pitcher. He looks like he’s having fun too and that’s in spite of Rory coming to every practice with his stupid lawn chair trying to get inside that poor kid’s head. Surprised he wasn’t on my porch hollering at me. Ray gets all of his attention. His other kid, well shoot, I don’t even know her name. She don’t play ball, that’s all I do know, or Rory would be splitting his rage between the two of them. Maybe she’s better off. I can’t tell, really. Ray seems to have his head on straight but at his age he could just be showing his shyness. He doesn’t want to be like his dad, so there could be some intentionality behind it as well. Either way, that kid’s arm. I’ll tell you, if I were hitting against him this year I’d be out at the batting cages every damn day.

“There are certain cautions” by Julia on her couch

Wednesday March 6, 2019
8:51pm
5 minutes
Prescription for Nutritional Healing
Phyllis A. Baluch, CNC

There was yellow tape outside your old house
off Gibson there, that house where you hid your first stolen watch.
The watch that belonged to your uncle there, Dominick?
You remember him?

He slapped you so hard it sizzled. Left a bacon stain on your cheek and you were fourteen so he ceased to exist to you from that day on. You took his favourite keychain too. But he found that.

I walked by cause I always do even though you don’t live there anymore. I know you did. The bedroom door where you scrawled your brother’s name: backward and spelled wrong

“the biographies of our heroes” by Julia at this the studio

Friday February 22, 2019
8:00pm
5 minutes
Political Paralysis
Danusha Veronica Goska

You know how they say we stand on the shoulders of giants? You know how they say that, Sash? I feel sometimes like I’ve got a couple sitting on mine. Maybe I read that in a book somewhere, like I can’t make anything great because I can’t live up to the fact that someone else has already done it better than me. Makes me want to email Miriam again and tell her she really makes it hard for me because she is so good. I would just be repeating myself though since I think I already told her that.
Do you ever think that someday your daughter might be a writer? You know cause you are, and your mom is, and it makes sense. She’d have a couple of giants of her own, you know? But I think she’ll write about you. The way you write about your mom. The way it’s meant to be. I know you’ve already written about her, growing there below your heart.

“I imagine him alive.” By Julia in her bed

Monday January 21, 2019
9:28pm
5 minutes
Stories We Keep To Ourselves
Bill Glose

I imagine him alive with dark hair covering his tiny little head
He has a perfect face
Maybe a few years from now he’ll need glasses just like you
His dark hair transforms into light hair later like mine does in the sun
You are holding him and cooing in his face and everything is sweet now
I keep him alive by not leaving him
That is my only job
I picture him loving me before he leaves home
Some of them only realize how much has been done for them after they build their bed behind walls that no one can wonder against
He is kind to insects and birds
He is funny because of you and only you
From me he learns how to hum
From me he learns how to weep
From me he learns how to stare into the nothingness past the room and bright noise
You smile extra hard these days

“making dinner for my family” by Julia at Rivendell

Sunday January 20, 2019
11:08pm
5 minutes
The Other, Invented Man
Matthew Vollmer

I’m chopping onions to simmer for my man
Tonight we feast and I feed him and he wants me
Tomorrow I’ll surprise him with a new dish I’ve never made before and I’ll feed him and he’ll want me
If I were alone I would get resourceful
Start with one egg and see far I can stretch it
See how many meals one egg holds
If I have no one to please or impress,
no one a barometer for if I’ve gone to
the grocery store in a while or chosen something I was curious about tasting
When he’s home I put on the alien, the apron, the mask
I find a different reality
If I had a full family I would cook for them
I wouldn’t need to feel anything after that

“You are my real mother, aren’t you?” by Julia on her couch

Thursday January 10, 2019
8:54pm
5 minutes
Life After Life
Kate Atkinson

I used to want Zia Vilma to be my mother cause she knew how to french braid, and make her own halloween costumes, and turn an old pair of leggings into a choker with a broken heart earring as the pendant.

She was the only one spent time with us, who played cards with us when we were little and begging to sit at table with all the adults.
She lit up when she saw us.

My own mother was a little different than she is now. She used to scream at us more then. She used to whip her eyes shut when she was yelling out all her demons.
I hated that face she made. I was afraid of it. she couldn’t look us in the eye.

“He was young and handsome” by Julia at the table

Saturday January 5, 2019
5:36pm
5 minutes
The Elephant Vanishes
Haruki Murakami

This year we didn’t look at old photos of you
and Mom wearing your brilliant sweaters at Niagara Falls.
I think there was too much going on, but I missed it anyway.
Tracing the outline of your fro,
curls I know intimately since they landed on my head too.
Thank you for those, by the way.
When I was little and everyone said I looked more like you
it used to break my heart.
I don’t know why I thought it was anything but a compliment.
You were young and handsome.
You are still young and handsome.
I am in awe of how big your heart has grown in these sixty-two years of living.
Sixty-two years today.
You have gotten so soft and there is all this room for me now.
Thank you for that too, by the way.
I am looking at the photo of you holding me for the first time
a month and a couple weeks after your thirty-second birthday,
and the look in your eyes as you look down at me
is turning me into something sweet.
Thank you for that.
That is how I see you too.

“The only time this does not happen” by Sasha at the kitchen table

Thursday December 27, 2018
10:12am
5 minutes
The Undiscovered Self
C.G. Jung

I saw that the sky was flames and wept
as I do as we do as we can
The hill across from the window
slips into a dream slips into tomorrow
You go to the fourth floor at seven in the morning
While we sleep
Your children
Your love
Dreaming in the Year of the Pig
when all the babes arrive
Dreaming in black and blue and pink and grey
Tears make way for clementines
make way for baths and stories
All paths lead back to Lou
I saw birds on the wire at Coxwell and Gerrard
There must’ve been seventy of them
Lou said that he wants to live to seventy-two
I saw your eyes cloud
Your doubt surface
Your faith swoop down and lift your chin

“experiences unbearable psychological turmoil” by Sasha in her old room

Wednesday December 26, 2018
11:32pm
5 minutes
Eros
Stella Kalogeraki

We gathered around the table in the common room. Fluorescent lights. Boughs spread. A strange ache. A beauty. Cups and cutlery that Mom collected over the week from lunch and dinner trays. I made stew and we ate it out of compostable bowls. J. kept saying, “It’s quiet in here!” We shared a few homemade gifts. We took photos. We ripped pieces of focaccia from a loaf. I sat at the end on the left. I couldn’t be in the middle. I felt my eyes heavy, my heart in my guts, my jaw clenched. I played with J. “This is my kitchen!” She said, and she put earth from a potted plant into a cup with a spoon.

“Till the only word your mouth remembers” by Julia at her parents’ table

Sunday December 23, 2018
11:52am
5 minutes
Milk and Honey
Rupi Kaur

my mouth knows how to repeat the same thing over and over until it loses meaning
until it turns into dust

my mouth knows how to curse the ones I love the most because their mouths say what my mouth could

my mouth eats itself more than it doesn’t
twisting the almost rebellion into quiet
cheek sores, taking up space

my mouth hums the tune of the earth that keeps me grounded when the noise is trying to lift me out of my skin

my mouth coos the sweet-lipped words of admiration and gratitude with ease and with abundance

my mouth remembers being shut violently and told that this is not violence but love and history and justified

my mouth knows a lie like a pang in the gums, a bell dinging endlessly under the tongue

“She shook her head helplessly.” By Sasha in the Kiva

Thursday December 20, 2018
12:31pm
5 minutes
Solaris
Stanislaw Lem

She shook her head helplessly becuase she couldn’t figure out how to get her words in order, how to get a word in, what to do with words. Her mother knew words better than anyone, or so she thought, better than her own face. Her mother knew how to shape words into cinnamon buns, into machetes, into room sized pillows. Sat around the table with the family, her family, that’s a word she knows. Bev sticks her tongue out at Larry and he gets up and grabs her cheeks.

“all past, present or future actions” By Sasha in the Kiva

Wednesday December 19, 2018
11:33pm
5 minutes
From an application form

It’s hard to speak when the overcoming comes
When it’s all heart beat and throat tight and
Here we go again
Past and present and future whirlpooling
Whipperwhiling scumbagging scumbugging

You tell me that you see how I’m growing
How I’m showing the centre that you know
That you watch when I’m dreaming
Projections of horses stampedeing across
The prairie of my forehead

It’s good to let go and move the old
Ice from the freezer chest
It’s good to release the pigeons from
The rusty roof

“fingers slimy from fries” by Julia in her bed

Tuesday December 11, 2018
11:03pm
5 minutes
Nicer
Amanda Proctor

I watch the kid with cat eyes lick his fingers clean
then he shoves his whole hand in his mouth and it’s no longer about grooming
the girl is said to be an angel, piece of cake, perfect
except she’s not as brave as they’d like her to be
reads too many books
is already proving smarter than one of them
I watch the kid roll his eyes at me when I apologize
to him for raising my voice
apologies come in buckets here and he knows they’re not worth their weight
I want to explain that I was scared he’d hurt himself with that knife, that I’m not mad anymore
The girl uses a dictionary to play Hangman
she draws a bunny rabbit instead of someone swinging by a noose

“In case you think that all of this” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday, November 25, 2018
8:30am
5 minutes
Come Of Age
Stephen Jenkinson

“This isn’t about you!” Gary shouts. I can hear him through the wall. His office is his favourite place in the world. He loves it in there so much that whenever I forward him a seat sale he writes back, “I’d rather be at home.” Our bedroom is on the other side of the wall, and because I don’t work from home didn’t imagine that I’d need an office. When we bought this house, it was perfect in every way and a space to call only my own wasn’t all that necessary. But now that Gary’s dear old Dad has finally died, and he’s sorting things our with his sister Becky, all I hear in the evenings, while I try to read in bed, is him shouting at her. Shouting that this “isn’t what Dad would’ve wanted!” Shouting “you are so narcissistic, Rebecca, I don’t know how you’ve made it thus far!” Gary isn’t usually a shouter, actually I can maybe count the times he’s yelled at me on one hand.

“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

“Party in the house” by Sasha on the couch at Bowmore

Sunday November 18, 2018
9:43am
5 minutes
Overheard at the Fairmont Pacific Rim

When Pawpaw gets home Gramma makes a big party and we even get to have pop! Sprite and Pepsi. Clyde mixes them together and then laughs and some comes out his nose. I try not to pee when I laugh at him with that brown stuff coming out, but I think I do a little bit, but not enough that anyone would know. Pawpaw hasn’t been home in TWENTY SIX years, since right before Daddy was born. Before Daddy went to prison he would take me to visit Pawpaw and we’d even sometimes get touch, like once or twice that really happened.

“Help yourself to some food” by Julia at the studio

Saturday November 17, 2018
11:10am
5 minutes
From a text

I’ve got an Italian family waiting for me at the table and they’re excited to see me. My mother will make her new favourite thing: date walnut cookies. Some will have chocolate chunks. Some will be overcooked and she will be the only one to notice. Most will fly off the table before I get there. I have to hurry, one month until we’re all laughing. Until my brother tells the same story he’s told for years. Until my sister makes a very good family photo on her fancy camera. There will be clam sauce because I am coming home and my mom knows it’s my favourite. There will be crab legs and the best mushrooms on this side of the world. My father will say, this smells like a happy home. And it will be. We have a lot to talk about. A lot of food to praise. I’m going to stop eating now to prepare. Italian families don’t trust a person who refuses food. They won’t believe you if you say you’re full anyway.

“his birthplace has now lost its charm” by Julia on her couch

Wednesday November 14, 2018
7:01am
5 minutes
Master of the Masterpiece
Anya Georgijevic

I am planning my trip to Italy
It is 2014. I will go stay with my Nonna and my Zia and my cugini in my mother’s town. Lozzola, land of parmeggiano, prosciutto, the famous Nocciole for the best tasting spring water you’ve ever blessed your throat with.
I ask my father if I should go to Calabria. San Nicola where he’s from. He says nobody lives there anymore. Everyone moved to Canada or to heaven and there’s no one left at the lemon tree. I want to see where he lived for the first 7 years of his life. Where he learned to run, eat crusty pane in warm cocoa milk.
He tells me there would be no point now. No one is there.

“never stop bringing hope to humanity” by Julia on her walk home

Friday November 2, 2018
11:27pm
5 minutes
More Than Cooking
Marla Cimini

Today my sister lights a spark in me from across the country
we act like we never left our childhood bedroom
her side painted with the hope of blue and
mine dwelling pink
we didn’t know each other until later but I think we always knew

Takes one to no one
I tell her after she has told me that so many times
I wonder how bright we can get when we trust that the light inside us is made of love
I call her on my walk somewhere hoping she’s free after school
neither of us expect to have a life-changing conversation and every time it is a life-changing conversation
her philosophy
tender hearted curiosity
She is the reason I am able to do anything for the rest of the day
The morning begins like a siren reminding me that I have bodies to bury in the backyard
She listens with the kind of patience you can only get from Barbie dolls
but she is not poking her head into somebody else’s blouse
She is the strongest thing I can lean my head against
In her company I am the most uniquely grounded me
it comes on a day perfect timing for both of us to remember that the light can be seen from far away when it is turned on
So she flips the switch on for me
And I flick the switch for her
We plan a trip to Europe in the year 2024 like it were already here.

“Most families” by Julia at her desk

Thursday October 11, 2018
6:10pm
5 minutes
Poor and Poorer
Jerrold Ladd

Most families are not all families. I have to tell you I’m lucky.
Lucky that I never had to prove myself anyone. Lucky that I could
move out and move far and the guilt wouldn’t be there. The guilt
wasn’t given to me. I am lucky that my father shows love in sauteed
shrimp and that my mother will talk to me on the phone for an hour
if I’m walking that far. I am lucky that my sister sees my insides.
That she thinks my growth is beautiful. That she isn’t afraid to
tell me the truth. That she never pulls me down when I’m up.
That my brother let’s me call him whatever I want. That he wears
the bracelet I got him for Christmas 6 years ago. That he will pick
me up from the airport during a blizzard. Drive me to the airport
on his only day off. Tell the story at the table that makes me look
hilarious. I am lucky that my family gives what they have and doesn’t
count favours. That they send me photos of their meals when the only
thing missing is me. I am lucky that my family holds me. That they
think I’m important enough to wait for.

“Most families” by Sasha at the table at Terrace Beach

Thursday October 11, 2018
4:05pm
5 minutes
Poor and Poorer
Jerrold Ladd

I know how lucky I am and I don’t take it for granted. Really I don’t. I know how lucky I am when I become an artist and no one questions it or asks how I’ll pay rent; when I fail and rise and break and shed and am seem for all of it, for each of them, by each of them. I know when I see how she isn’t known by her family in the way she wants so badly to be, and she is known by mine, in a different way, but in a way closer to her craving. I know how lucky I am, when he has pie and tea with my father and can talk about how hard it’s been, how he doubts me, and us, and the future, and more so himself.

“lured into my childhood home” by Julia at the studio

Tuesday October 9, 2018
1:34pm
5 minutes
The Stray
Stephen A. Waite

Matthew and Mark used to watch scary movies at their house. I used to lay with my head in Matthew’s lap and my legs in Mark’s. I felt like my older cousins were taking care of me. We weren’t allowed to watch scary movies at our house. And after seeing IT with them when I was six, I figured out why. I have always been the dreaming kind. Pisces born on land, a vivid seer of worlds beyond my own. I knew the answers were there. I knew the questions were there. I knew I was making connections and being guided. Of course when nightmares are a regular occurrence, it’s hard to think they serve a purpose other than torture, punishment, torment.
I used to pray before bed to avoid the bad. Pray to override the scary images swirling around in my tiny body. What did Matthew and Mark have? Who did they talk to about their bad dreams? Did they just learn not to remember them? Was it easier to stay quiet and keep watching scary movies? Was watching scary movies less scary than the reality they had to face?

For a while I used to associate their dad with Beetlejuice. One time he came to Mark’s room to tell us to shut up and go to sleep. In the shadows, his eyes looked sunken in. I dreamed about him that night instead.

“My mother told us” by Julia on her couch

Sunday September 30, 2018
9:10pm
5 minutes
Waiting For My Rape
Jessica Anya Blau

she says “just do your best” and no matter why she says it, she always sounds close to (if not battling) tears. I don’t think she likes crying. but it’s in her like she’s made of sand. a billion moving particles loose under her skin, washing. she says “bye” at least three times. she has to be the last one to say it. it’s an italian thing. like goodbye is the saddest most beautiful world they could think of. and her goodbye keeps me calling. I don’t want to be this far away from her. this daughter’s body a river of sand just like her. a milky way. starlight.

“I tell him how a blimp once hit my head.” by Julia on the 7

Tuesday September 4, 2018
7:26am
5 minutes
DADDY
Prathna Lor

I used to tell everyone that I was struck by a truck when I was little. Story goes: I was on my tricycle and the truck smashed me and I was very badly injured and everyone came running because they were so worried. Story is: I was on my tricycle and the truck backed up slightly and bumped me and I was fine.

Maybe the real story is better in the first place. The one that has me up against a monster truck and being saved in the 11th hour. The way I was saved in the 11th hour when I was 18. Swerved in the ice slush, totalled my parents’ Corolla, suffered back and wrist pain, but was still alive enough to get my charges dropped down to “Failure to Share The Road.”
Their car was a write off. they ended up getting more because of me.

“I’m old enough to be that girl’s mother,” by Julia in T’s kitchen

Friday August 24, 2018
7:11pm
5 minutes
My Mother’s Body
Marie Howe

we sit at the diner without speaking. Lulu is mad at me and I am mad at her. the drive was long, quiet, peanut butter stuck in the back of the throat. when I pointed out the horses grazing in the field she gave me the finger. Lu knows i loves horses. she even loves them more than me. I don’t know where I went wrong. i’m old enough to be that girl’s mother but I am not her mother. they don’t tell you that trying to parent another person’s kid will pulverize your heart into something you wish you could snort. Madelyne isn’t sending any instructions from where she is. how to handle a kid who hates me for not being more. when she was just my niece she used to beg Mad to sleep over in my truck. I guess that’s a hope worth tucking beneath the hip.

“play the role of devoted son.” By Julia at G and C’s house

Saturday August 11, 2018
1:33am
5 minutes
Tincture Of Mother
Alan Craig

you can call them while you’re walking home on the busy bridge and tell them you love them.
you can ask them if they can pick you up from the airport or have the bed made ready.
you can tell them what you’re afraid of and that you need their help.
you can bring back their phone charger so they don’t have to spend the money on a new one.
you can make them laugh and get a good reaction when you try out your jokes.
you can be honest about the pot you’re about to smoke on their porch after midnight.
you can make as little noise as possible so you don’t wake them up.
you can take them to the best sushi place in town.
you can make them dinner for the first time and show them the sunset.
you can thank them for the good advice, the good company, and the good food.
but you cannot ask them for the toothpaste.

“it has been six and a half years since you died” by Julia in her sister’s bed

Friday August 10, 2018
10:48pm
5 minutes
Welcome to the Club
Marion Winik

I don’t remember the day you died but I remember how you lived. Your chest was an open x-ray. Here, the place where love scarred you. Here the place hope left. You smiled through your eyes, through the pain, and we knew we were getting the best of you left in you. We knew you were telling the truth when you said you wanted us to find what makes us happy. I remember how you sang Elvis at New Years and Easter and my dad’s birthday. You left every room you entered brighter. You entered every room.

“a family house can remain empty” by Julia on the couch

Wednesday August 1, 2018
11:15pm
5 minutes
The Highest Bidder
Kerry Gold

My sister answers the phone when I call even if she is with her friends. My brother did the same a few days ago when I called him on his birthday. He was at Montana’s eating a burger before going to the Falls. I felt bad for calling but it felt like he would have chatted all day. That’s the home I’m going back to. The house emptied of the three of us years ago. I was the first to leave and stay gone. I keep boots and books and pictures there. I like going back if we watch the old home videos. We all keep saying we should turn those VHS tapes into DVDs so we can keep our memories longer but no one ever does. If I can find my old glove in the garage I suspect we’ll hit the field behind the house and go long.

“Brady and Rix” by Julia at the desk

Saturday July 21, 2018
11:40am
5 minutes
Fever Pitch
Nick Hornby

Brady and Rix are the names of my imaginary kids.
They’re both neutral names but they’re both boys.
I am seeing my life with boys. I am allowed to see
what ever I want. God made me a writer. This is what
that’s for. Dreaming. Going there. Writing stories.
Brady is the older brother. My first. I love him like
an avalanche. Falling over myself every day. Knocked
down by love for the kid who can fit inside my pocket.
He holds my hand and calls me mama. He loves bubbles
and laughing and me. And his dad. He loves his dad so much.
He thinks everything he does is amazing. And everything
he does is amazing. Rix is the baby. He’s very serious.
He looks at everything with curiosity. He wants to know
my soul and does not let go. He is learning with a bit
of discernment. He loves being in the water. He pours
out of me and into things and into light. The whole room
loves him.

“I need my medicine” by Julia at S,G, and E’s house

Saturday July 14, 2018
10:05pm
5 minutes
overheard at Genavie’s house 

I need this before I can do this I need the house to be cleaned the old milk to be taken out the practice of preaching

I need many things
before I can be enough

I need the light on
the story told
the writes written
I need the glory of the coming of the Lord

I need my medicine
drip drop in the throat before I can sleep
I need my mom to come
back to come back for me to not leave me here without saying goodbye

I need to watch Annie and pretend that my chance will come too
sing a little while I scrub the bathroom
tell you all the counters I’ve wiped and counting
counting to remind myself I am here and they are comig back
that they haven’t forgotten me
that I am enough

I need my medicine
this healing
this grace

“The joy of bursting and bearing fruit” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday July 11, 2018
6:58am
5 minutes
Earth Prayers
John Soos

One day conceivable from here, from now, from everything that I know,
I will hold a tiny, living thing in my arms and I will feel this great love…
The one everyone talks about
the changing kind, the one that gently nudges, inspires, forces you into bearing witness

Each moment between now and then is a teacher
A dream
I will want this when I have gotten good at turning the love inward
At being a witness to myself
And there is much to see. This life has been long already, the one before this one longer still, I imagine, and it is going going
I would very much like to give a tiny, living thing, my heart beat in excess
I want to give everything away when I know I don’t need to hold onto anything I’ve gotten but a tiny, living thing
Everything of use to me is being shown to me from the inside out and the whole world knows it
At least it does if I give permission to the whole world to be within me

Last night I felt a connection with a tiny, living thing
that did not burst forth from my own joy,
but was able to recognize it
We rocked there, our heads touching
and that was enough for me to know

“I have two more weeks to pack” by Julia on her patio

Saturday June 23, 2018
11:36pm
5 minutes
from a text

Get here sooner bring your guitar and your good ideas
We’re going to jam on the patio and light some candles and eat a charcuterie board like last time
Like last time
I like last time and this time will be so different
No more blonde on the top
No more orange hue better in person
You, I think will find a sundress in my closet to love best and please wear it
Great don’t pack anything let me give you everything you need
And feed you I will feed you
Like a humming bird buzzing up
Borrow the tiger balm you gave me for my trip
I use it on the back of my neck when I can’t sleep
You can sleep in or out or on my side of the bed
It caves in sometimes
It caved in today
But we can touch the floor and isn’t that always fun
I can’t hold the clock because it teases
Tick tick and still weeks and weeks
Week week
Week week
Counting down the days until the walks catch our feet and the night worships the salt back into our hair
Don’t bring a blowdryer
Mine is fine and works the way a $3 blowdryer should
Don’t bring anything but you

“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 a