“Still later she folded into herself,” By Sasha at Ideal on Sorauren

Monday January 20, 2020
5:44pm
5 minutes
Peaches
Marion Winik

It’s hard to talk about this stuff and I’m a talker but it’s hard for me, even for talky talker talko me. I don’t know how to explain the radical transformation, but I want to try because I want to be understood. Isn’t that what we all really want? Folding into myself, like an envelope, I try and try and fail and maybe have a moment of shooting star success, but only to me, not to the person I’m talking to… They are still confused. They are still chewing their strange sandwich, sipping their flat kombucha,  cocking their head to the left and then to the right. I guess I could put a letter in my folded envelope self, put a letter to the past and future list, the current spreadsheet, the reminders and Notes in my phone. A letter. Written by hand? Ha. Who does that anymore. Me. I do. Fill the envelope with sparkles, or cocoa, or blow. Send it to someone (you?!) send it to someone and hope they might know what it means, even if I don’t.

 

“Still later she folded into herself,” by Julia at her desk

Monday January 20, 2020
12:42pm
5 minutes
Peaches
Marion Winik

It was blue Monday (a blue blue Monday). It was raining (not outside). It was a couch calling her name, it was a blanket taking him hostage. It was blue.

Blue like the ice cube sitting on her chest (jagged, sharp). Blue like the jeans warn to shreds without ever being washed (why bother). Why bother?

Try and persuade a block to melt, try and switch the light on to fix. Should we?

….

It was a blue Monday and the rest of it coloured the same (the months, the memories).

It was enough for him to sink back into his shiver (blanket or not, go figure) and even after the warm soup, she still folded into herself (folding, folding).

It was raining (inside, outside, beside). It was blue. It was blue for every single one of them.

“Sit comfortably” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday January 19, 2020
5:31pm
5 minutes
Sparrow’s Guide to Meditation
Sparrow

I lean towards the left and the right. I reach up and clasp my hands together over my head. I bend forward. There’s a snow storm in the forecast. There’s a boiled egg on the shelf in the fridge that’s been there for way to long. How long does it take for a cooked egg to go off? Is this something to Google? Something to text mother? Oh. Wait. Mother is dead. I only started meditating after the accident. I used to roll my eyes at people who meditated. Like yoga. Ridiculous. I guess the leaning to and fro is basically yoga. Who have I become? Mother is furrowing her brow, if she has one in heaven. That’s for sure. Goodness gracious. Is this meditating? Is this what it is? I squeeze my eyes shut. I remove my tongue from the roof of my mouth, like the teacher said to do, the one at the Zen Centre on East Broadway.

“Once, two women hiked a volcano” by Sasha in her bed

Saturday January 18, 2020
7:21am
5 minutes
Lava
Danusha Lameris

Once, two women hiked a volcano.
It was before dawn. The lava rock was hot.
The air between them was hot.
They hoped no one else would be there.
Someone else was there – an older man,
blue running shoes, grey windbreaker,
bright headlamp. They smiled at him.
Didn’t resent him being there after all.
A witness.

As the sun rose over the horizon,
swollen and unassuming, one woman
turned to the other woman and told her
that she loved her, not as a friend,
as something different,
something brighter, something new.

The other woman thought
this moment would never come.
So when it did, on a volcano,
as the sun rose, as the headlamp
of the man several hundred feet away
glowed skywards, downwards, skywards
again, she fell to her knees, held her face
in her hands. “Sandra,” she said.
”Sandy…”

They drank blue Gatorade and peeled
oranges and offered a small turquoise stone
to the Goddess of the Island, to the power
of the place.

“I find the result” by Sasha in her living room

Thursday January 16, 2020
9:00 am
5 minutes
From a quote by Mark Twain

I find the results under hydro bills and newspaper clippings on your desk. I don’t know why I’m there, going through your stuff, in your office. Something keeps compelling me to go in there. Read the inscriptions of your books. Sniff your strange bottles of tinctures and brews. Today is the first time that I’ve gone through your desk drawers. More disorganized than I’d guessed, especially the third one down. So much random crap… a baseball, a fountain pen, postcards from places you’ve never been… The top of the desk is more organized, but there’s bills and stuff. And then. The results. You must’ve asked for a copy from the doctor. Make it real. Return to it again and again. Turn the paper over in your hands. Taste the trueness of it. Lick a corner. Turn it upside down.

“Go to hell” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday January 11, 2020
10:08pm
5 minutes
Age Of Iron
J.M. Coetzee

You tell me that if you were here you would be giving me what I need, the taste of lemon and ginger, hands holding tired feet. My phone lights up like my heart does and I wonder for a breath how I got here, these walls of this house that held my first heartbreak, and my last, the snow making angel kisses on the window that I keep thinking I will see you outside of. The downy pillow of someone who understands below my head, weightless and wise. Lips buzzing in anticipation. There is a quietness to this loudness that makes me feel like I am home. Heaven is here.

“Those were the rules.” By Sasha at Black River Farm

Saturday January 4, 2020
11:03am
5 minutes
The Murderee
Martin Amis

Our breath freezes before it hits the air.
Icicles circling the morning mist rising
off the corn field,
touching the rays of sun, reaching
finger and toe beams
towards the frozen ground.

Breath holds the promise of the space between,
where we mix and merge, where the us lives.

We are writing a new book.

It holds others than us, lives that we
weave in with our pages, a purple thread
and a red one. We spill and splay,

the breath of these colours,
unsure of the chapter organization,
the editorial style, the font.

A flock of geese flies high in a V above us,
leaders and followers trading off with
effortless grace. I stop walking.

I look back.
Our footprints in the snow, leading us here,
the generosity of the clouds parting. I turn
my face towards the sun,
let her fill me up, let her breath
sketch the outline of my body.

“The dark thought, the shame” by Sasha at Black River Farm

Friday January 3, 2020
11:54am
5 minutes
The Illuminated Rumi
Tr. by Coleman Barks 

This is a bidding farewell at the top of my lungs
overlooking the snow covered fall towards the river
This is the release of the fear
putting her down in the brush beside the fox tracks
marking her grave with a stone
I won’t be back to visit but I will sing a hymn
to all the little places that are still afraid
all the little places that won’t be buried for
awhile yet

The grouse rises from the cedar forest
creates a sound in the snow like the breaking open
I jump
towards the open arms of safety
the open arms of the edge

This new year
hugs my hips
puts hands on my feet
pressing into the frozen ground
A sunbeam between my teeth
This body has shed and bloomed
splayed and healed
This body has birthed and wailed
released and reformed
This body knows the story of my mother
in veins that swim a full hearted yes
grandmother hands
daughter belly round with breath
round with trust and pleasure

This is the place where we laid ourselves
in the field encircled
We will keep coming back
coming back
coming back
coming back to the wide sky
the red barn
the practise of choosing
full hearted yes
the practise of love
a verb
bell hooks knows
a doing word

 

“They did almost everything wrong” by Sasha at her kitchen counter

Sunday December 29, 2019
12:13pm
5 minutes
The Body
Bill Bryson

trapped beneath the floorboards
amidst mouse droppings and dust
mildew and

the secrets of socked feet

bare feet
treading heavy
treading light

morning feet in slippers
shuffling in slippers
with worn soles

dancing to Bruce Springsteen
Massive Attack
Kanye West
feet that know the tune
know the rhythm
know the rhyme

feet that rage and kick
toddler feet and father feet
the language of the toes
the vocabulary of a flex
a pop
a crunch

the bones of this house
have seen love sprout like dandelions
yellow and awake
the femur of this foundation
words in the ground below
stories in the veins
coursing towards
coursing away

A breath in the sigh
of winter
the lights turned off
the night kisses
pursed sleeping lips

“They all would be knocking back a few” by Julia on Howland

Saturday December 28, 2019
11:06pm
5 minutes
The Right Stuff
Tom Wolfe

They would be on their third or fourth beer by now,
knocking them back on the hour to keep up with the clock.

I know they would be waiting for the “girls” to arrive before they started playing the game. Better to have an audience. Helps with the ego. A little friendly competition. Someone to see you win gracefully. Someone to watch you hand another guy’s ass to him without it becoming a thing.

By the 6th beer they’d be showing everyone their choreography from Ker’s wedding.

“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?

“Timing’s everything.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday December 19, 2019
7:30am
5 minutes
Snowflake
William Baer

Love is the the way that your best friend hugs you when they know you are coming off a hot streak of bravery, palm pressed between your shoulder blades, familiar sweet breath in your ear. Love is the dishes getting done, not by you. Love is the sound of a new voice, a new old voice, a voice that you’ve never heard before but is instantly familiar. Love is the birds at the feeder in the winter garden, small hands pressed against the window, sunlight reviving the spots that are dark. Love is the smell of cheese melting, picking the crunchy bits off the edges of the pan. Love is raspberries in the morning, before the sun rises, before the day has fully arrived, a spray of spit and joy frosting your arm and calling you home.

“The first was of Saint Gabriel” by Julia on her couch

Saturday December 14, 2019
7:53pm
5 minutes
Courtesy
Hilaire Belloc

I fell in love with the messenger. There are no addages about not kissing them, only shooting. He arrived with flowing hair and a scroll tucked under his arm. Romantic. I wanted to watch him slowly unroll it, revealing only one line at a time.
He arrived at my door like a whisper.
He was a figure from a painting, his smile a twig snapped from Paradise itself.
I thought about his mouth unfolding the news. It did not take much for me to want him, truth be told. A man bearing a letter in my name. That was all I could ever ask for.

“And the show won’t stop.” by Julia in her office

Thursday December 12, 2019
11:45am
5 minutes
Theater
William Greenway

not if you’re sick, not if you’re wondering
not if you’re late to the party or fumbling
not if you don’t want to or you think you can’t
not if the door opens or it slams
not if the weather punishes you and only you
not if the sadness turns too blue
not if the schedule says that it won’t
not if the gravel road bumps or it don’t

The show won’t stop
the show won’t wait
the show won’t pop
the show won’t wait

not if you’re tired, not if you’re confused
not if you didn’t like what’s in the news
not if you got lost or took a different route
not if you succumbed to the shadows of doubt
not if you were hungry or if you needed to sit
not if you wanted to but couldn’t make it
not if you bent down to smell the flowers
not if you stayed up until the wee hours

The show won’t pop
the show won’t wait
the show won’t stop
the show won’t wait

it has to go on
it must

“I have eaten his emptiness” by Julia in her kitchen

Saturday November 30, 2019
8:36pm
5 minutes
Visit from an incubus 
Laura Murphy

it was 3AM
came to me in a dream
fed the beast
broke the cycle

didn’t tell anyone
didn’t believe it at first
wrote it down
walked around

by dawn there was none of me left
I had eaten so much of what was weighing him down
my skin held his emptiness

my arms lifted a different hope from their bones and one I did not recognize
one that did not belong to me

the dream kept speaking as if it knew better
and so I listened
one body freer of their limits and counting

“Don’t let the exclamation point fool you.” By Sasha at the table on Nassau St.

Sunday November 24, 2019
1:40pm
5 minutes
from an Instagram post

Punctuation matters. Line breaks matter. Doing what you say you’re going to do matters. Remembering birthdays, first days, death days, and anniversaries matters. Doing the laundry matters. Chickpeas in the pantry matters. Telling the truth matters. Telling someone they are having a very good hair day matters. Listening to your inner voice of quiet wisdom matters. Brushing your teeth matters. Getting outside into the fresh air matters. Relaxing your jaw matters. Phoning a friend when you want to curl up in the fetal position (from the fetal position?) matters. Breathing deeply matters. Compost matters. Doing your best matters.

“You are going to have to give and give and give”

Wednesday November 20, 2019
9:41pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Anne Lamott

What you want to say is the truth.
And you don’t know who’s reading this now after all the times you’ve talked about it.
Here’s a place where you do what you do and then afterwards another thing. A new thing.
A new.
What do you want them to know?
How ready you are? How sure?
Or the thing that scares you more.
How desperately you want to be a part of the ecosystem and how afraid you are that it might take more than a day.
How you want nothing more than for them to hold you useful, for them to know you good.
Is this where you tell them you’re ready but you give a damn so you feel shaky behind the eyes?
Is this where you say that you asked for them and the universe was good to you and gave you what you needed?
When do you tell them the truth?
That you don’t know everything and that you’re willing to learn?
That this whole thing is messy but you’d rather spoil your shirt than sit around waiting.
You are going to have to give and give and give some more.
But you are going to have to receive some too.
You’re going to have to fill up on what they have to offer.
You’re going to have to let them evolve your heart and your hands and your mind and your soul.
That’s the fear. That you will be different.
But I promise you that you will able to handle that.
You have always done this.
You have always found a way.

“You are going to have to give and give and give” By Sasha in the house on Nassau Street

Wednesday November 20, 2019
8:23am
5 minutes
From a quote by Anne Lamott

What they don’t tell you is how
you are going to have to give and give and give
and just when you think you’re empty
that there’s nothing left
something arrives with the morning mail
that asks for more
more more more more more more more

What then?

You feel like you’ve written this before
a deja vu of fingers on keyboard
of the kettle boiling
a banana over ripening on the counter
a house that has become home
in four days
record time
Give more
more more more more

The mailman makes his rounds
dropping letters and grace

receiving a poem in your email
written by someone you know
is the very thing
you didn’t know
you were waiting for
this morning

“I have continued to struggle” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday November 19, 2019
9:26pm
5 minutes
From a letter 

you were born in toronto
you thank your lucky stars
when people ask you where
you’re from you don’t have to lie or embellish

now after all these years your area code is worth something and when people discover you never changed your number they seem offended and you are proud

didn’t think you’d be here this long, but here you are, still here, still here

you remember the day you looked out at the skyline and said two years max as if the timeline were drawn in the sand without factoring the storm

it takes longer than you thought it would to find home in a new place and three seems like the magic number; the beginning of the not so terrible, maybe even good

you’re still here now
still here

“Coming today” by Julia at her desk

Sunday November 17, 2019
9:31pm
5 minutes
From a note on the table

B’s coming today from Thunder Bay. She texted earlier saying she doesn’t know exactly when she’s set to arrive now on account of the highway moose.
When I asked her for details I didn’t get a response for over 2 hours and that worried me. Finally she wrote back saying, “Dead already, RIP, still coming” which from B is a miracle. I think it was blocking the road but I’ll have to wait till she gets here for the information. If she had hit the moose she would likely cancel her trip without even telling me. B is prone to last minute cancellations depending on the severity of the unexpected circumstance.
When I was last in Thunder Bay I also saw a dead highway moose and to tell you the truth I wasn’t as shocked when B told me about hers because of it. I somehow planted that in my memory as a Thunder Bay thing, which is unfair since I was only there for a few hours. I guess I could remember it for having the “Best Chinese Restaurant” as well but I ate at that restaurant and it was clear that Thunder Bay had a penchant for hyperbole. Well I don’t know about all of Thunder Bay, again, it was the only place I ate.

“Though I had quit drinking” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday November 13, 2019
4:22pm
5 minutes
Free Rent at the Totalitarian Hotel
Poe Ballantine

I was still having dreams about putting the pine into my veins
even after I saw what the stuff could do to me
If I were ever strong before, it was the thing that brought me to my knees
And old boyfriends to their knees with what happened the night before
did we really break up and was it true, this bout of insanity?
Nobody asked if it was the birth control, but it was the birth control
mixed with whatever I was swigging before leaving the house
Memories weren’t the only thing I was leaving on the floor
And if I’d come home a blur with missed calls it wasn’t on the tip of my tongue
to blame the gin
I couldn’t see the lines connected, the outer or inner, the shapes stopped
making sense all together
And then my warning came in the weight of a small healing cat
sitting on my legs while the woman examined my history of traumas and blacking out
She called it an allergy
and it was then I realized my body had been begging.

“Though I had quit drinking” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday November 13, 2019
7:20am
Free Rent at the Totalitarian Hotel
Poe Ballantine

Quiet fell like a blanket over my head, weighty and full. I wished that I’d known what quiet would do to me earlier, before today, before Wednesday. That stroke of genius could’ve come on Monday. So be it, though, so be it. Samson keeps talking about wanting something and then when he finally gets it he doesn’t even want it anymore. Not my relationship to this quiet. A raven picks at a pile of leaves to my left and I remember when Samson told me that Gilly was pregnant and how we drank beer on the wrap around porch. I had already quit drinking, but Creemore’s on the porch was our thing. I could never refuse him. I still had a beard. We didn’t kiss that night, but we did the next time we saw each other. We did kiss that time. When did I start measuring things in kisses? When did Samson tell me that we had to stop hooking up? When did Gilly look at me like she knew about us? When did quiet begin to feel like the real escape?

“winter chess championship” by Julia on her bed

Monday November 11, 2019
5:48pm
5 minutes
Mr. Oleander
Brian Doyle

It has been 24 hours and the bed is sinking

There is proof of the sinking and one day I will show it to you

A warning, that I will have to say I Told You So and you should really prepare for how that’s going to feel

I won’t say the other thing, though

I know how much you hate it

Checkmate

Sorry

I said it

I had to say it, let’s be real

This is another win for me and yes I’m keeping score and yes you’re keeping score

This is the winter championship and it’s a who’s who over here

It’s a do or die

It’s a prove or be proven

I am not actually sorry

Not even for saying the thing that you hate

It is a competition and I am competing with you so there is no room for apology

There is no room for softness and I’ve already told you my stance on that

Remember the framed art sitting on the kitchen shelf

It says We Don’t Do Soft In This House

And yes I made the art

I wrote the poem

But you let it sit there and you have referenced it before

You have been complicit and there is no time for taking anything back

But we could play on the same team for once

I am not offering a forfeit but a surrender

A surrender to this thing we’re going to have to carry

“I am plagued by one question” by Julia on the 351

Tuesday November 5, 2019
6:25pm
5 minutes
Fifty Shades of Grey
E L James

Will you still love me tomorrow?
yea, promise

Why do birds suddenly appear?
cause remember, you’re free

Where’a the love?
everywhere, everywhere

When will I see you again?
In our dreams…

How…

how…

Who’s loving you?
all of us, me, I am, me

Who do you think you are?
a bag of cookie crumbs

What’s love got to do with it?
I don’t know how to answer this without restating the question.

Can you come home?

“choose return” by Julia on the toilet

Sunday November 3, 2019
10:29pm
5 minutes
Google flights

they asked me to answer
“I get lost when I…”
and I said
Look at a map
as if the entire cartography buisness is out to get me
as if the moon isn’t bright enough on its own
as if I’ver ever gotten to where I wanted to go by taking directions
from somebody else
and I know I am the designer of this route, this life, and the instructions, however well meaning, however clear to other eyes, are not useful to me
I have never followed in the footsteps of another and felt whole
I have never relied on a drawing to lead me home when my heart always knows

the navigator of this body is terrible with maps and yet moves forward anyway

“I get lost when I…”

“Where is the equal of Love?” By Julia on her couch

Saturday November 2, 2019
6:02pm
5 minutes
Antigone
Sophocles (Trans. by E.F. Watling)

In the quiet lull of the fridge humming, the crack and button of the inner wall, the very reason for breathing–that is where the equal of love lives.

On the couch in the dark, our third eyes kissing, our fifth lip talking, the neck skin soft from holding all the travelled breath and the still, the still.

I found you again from the inside out and cosmically we both landed in a galaxy far away but made of this one.
We touched the only pulse and it reset the clocks and untied the knots.

The equal of love was in the freedom there, the choice to stay.

“no words can describe it.” By Julia on her couch

Wednesday October 30, 2019
7:03pm
5 minutes
from a Youtube comment

envy for someone else’s sadness. what’s the word for that? not to carry it so they don’t have to…not that kind of want, or the kind of want they write about. no honour. I’m not hunting honour and maybe that’s a helper word. to feel anything deeply and be able without a shadow of a doubt to call it sadnesss. to know. that is the envy. not to guess, not to be the holder of another’s circumstance but to tongue the name of the insurmountable hill. the climb that almost kills you but slowly because you don’t know the word.
when your eye skin is hot and tired from never crying. if there was anything, a name would be the all.

“everything seems to happen to music.” By Julia on her bed

Monday October 21, 2019
3:21pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Tennessee Williams

watching the rain sheet the alleyway like a baptism,
the house kitty-corner to ours more ruthless, more exorcism, and inside tiny
pumpkins line the window sill, now an olive branch since there’s unexpectedly
a need for one

a wrong word at the wrong time and I might as well have stayed home filing my
nails instead of braving the
monday to feed us

“The bit about the doorbell” by Julia on L’s couch

Saturday October 19, 2019
10:20pm
5 minutes
Someday Is Today
Alethea Black

it’s a looming kind, this patchwork. Nobody sees

the origins because it
is built over time, from

grains of one person to
the next. it is closer

to waiting for food poisoning to strike after

consuming under cooked shrimp. they say it could

take 4-48 hours for the
symptoms to start, and

how do you go on living
casually knowing it’s on

the way? the driver who sees
the car approaching from the

rear view mirror is the one
who gets whiplash from

bracing for the crash. why suffer twice, but it’s too

late, the sick is coming.
it is the doorbell ringing

when everyone is tucked in,
far away from expecting.

“The bit about the doorbell” by Sasha in her living room

Saturday October 19, 2019
9:13am
5 minutes
Someday Is Today
Alethea Black

The doorbell rings and Ange stops in her tracks. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. Fe wasn’t supposed to arrive until this afternoon. “I’ll be right there!” She calls, running up the stairs and shutting the bedroom door.

Fe is on her phone, talking in Spanish. Ange always says she’s going to learn, but the Duolingo app on her phone goes unopened for the most part.

”What language do you dream in?” Ange asked Fe one of their first morning’s together.

Fe thought about it for awhile. “I’m not sure,” she eventually replied, picking sleep out of the corners of her eyes.

”It’s probably Spanish. I think I read once that we dream in our mother tongues.”

As she opens the door, Ange asks, “Why don’t you have your key?”

Fe cocks her head and glares at her. She’s cut her hair.

“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.

“Light like sugar cane.” by Julia at her desk

Thursday October 17, 2019
8:30am
5 minutes
Daybreak
Gerry Lafemina

It was all you could do to stop the thud in your brain
thhud thhud from the last bit of morning sleep
the first heavy fall you’ve had and thanks to him

Thanks to him for refusing to let you cross rooms in
the dream and for holding you unapologetically so the
whisper of waking hours wouldn’t touch you until it was time

And you almost stayed in the bed, but you rose, and planted
a kiss on the back of his neck instead, sending him back
to the last place he was without shivering

If he had asked you to reprise your role as Warm Body In The Cold
you would have forgone morning light for sugar cane
and he would not have had to ask twice

The head is soft again but the stomach is loud and nothing
seems to line the shelves long enough to act as promise
amidst the already fleeting

Your lack of math or belief in numbers ruins your oatmeal
you pour too much hot water in and think you might just eat
it like that as a reminder that you skipped some crucial steps

“Light like sugar cane.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Oct 17, 2019
11:11am
Daybreak

Gerry Lafemina

Light like sugar cane through the kitchen window and you’re wild with belief, whirling dervish of possible outcomes. You dream of rivers and oceans over and over, research water metaphors, read poetry written by women who came before their time. You meditate on the round stone in the park garden, grown over since summer’s ripe peach, sun is still here though, sun is still here. You were once groped by a man on a crowded train, ass and vulva, rubbed top to bottom, or bottom to top depending on who is telling the tale. You said nothing. This haunts you more than the time you cheated on the first man you actually loved, more than stealing fifty dollars from your grandmother’s handbag, more than lying to your friend about why you couldn’t make his birthday dinner (a new beau who turned out to be a sour stale egg, barf barf barf). You looked the groper in the eye, though, that’s one wee bit of action you took. You made it clear that you saw him, in his unshaven violence, in his hand violating the body of a woman, of a fawn.

“You plan, you design, you labor,” by Sasha on her couch

Wednesday October 16, 2019
10:04pm
5 minutes
An Absorbing Errand
Janna Malamud Smith

You are the Carolina Parakeet
hunted for feathers in hats worn by women like

You are the Passenger Pigeon
flocking with billions of kin
darkening the bright sky
trying to make it home to

You are the Stephens Island Wren
flightless and tiny
hunted by pet cats to complete extinction
New Zealand lost her

You are the Great Auk
not knowing the threat of their human predator
they waddled up to the Settler
hoping to make a new friend in

You are the Elephant Bird
Ten feet tall and five hundred pounds
Prehistoric and wise
Bobbing your head towards the familiar

You
Sweet Dodo Bird of Mauritius
hunted for meat by the hungry and tired

“You plan, you design, you labor,” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday October 16, 2019
7:55am
5 minutes
An Absorbing Errand
Janna Malamud Smith

It’s the morning but still dark
too dark, not dark enough
you are awake but not fully here
the city looks quiet, still asleep
too asleep, not asleep enough
there is a small light from the
couch lighting up words written
and bound together with money
you are planning the next one
and this one but you are not fully here
the yellow glow pulls at the aching bone
and you must either ignore it or join it

how does one become as yellow as this light?
how does one join something that hurts?
It’s the morning but still night
too night, not night enough
you are writing and you are wondering
but you are not fully here
you are in a day one week from now
two weeks from now and you are planning
and designing and wondering about what
they will all be like when they meet
themselves on the page that you laboured on

It’s the morning but not a warm spring
it’s the morning but not a conscious howl
it’s the morning but you are still dreaming
now writing out your dreams so they shake
free from your writing bone and keep
the light from pulling

“I cried during the silent walking meditation” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday October 15, 2019
7:19pm
Reunion
Halina Larman

Alice left Jim on a Wednesday. It was a long time coming. At least that’s what everyone said. It wasn’t dramatic. It was deliberate and soft. She had packed a black suitcase, as she knew that she needed to actually leave, not just figuratively leave. The suitcase had been Alice’s mother’s. It was worn on the bottom corner, but still zipped up. Their other suitcases, stored in the basement next to the box of Christmas ornaments and wrapping paper, belonged to Jim. At least she thought they did. It was the division of things that most overwhelmed her. Not the conversation, the “leaving” conversation. The division of their items, their life, parsed out in “I’ll take the immersion blender and you take the coffee grinder?” The older Alice got the more she didn’t care for things that she could turn on, hold in her hand, or cart around. She cared for the feeling of her blood pressure lowering, the October wind bringing her closer to herself.

“I cried during the silent walking meditations” by Julia at her desk

Tuesday October 15, 2019
6:30pm
Reunion
Halina Larman

There is no such thing as silence in this house
this house is a home and no silence exists in it

I give myself five minutes so I don’t have to hear
myself or anyone else (you) say anything

and even sometimes the timer is on and the silence
is close, but it is not mine to hold

Someone (you) comes in with your questions and
your funny jokes that instead of me laughing

and letting them roll off the back, I condemn to
the floorboards so the downstairs neighbours

have to forfeit whatever silence they were
cultivating as well. I could laugh…

but instead there is 2 minutes and 30 seconds
left and instead of masterfully practicing

I am languishing in the almost but not quite.
I should display a sign that says “In the middle

of it” or “RIGHT IN THE FUCKING MIDDLE OF IT”
because even when it’s clear this is what I’m

doing, you are doing whatever is clear to you
and what is clear to you is that you speak

during cooking meditations and walking
meditations and laying meditations

“the feelings that have been aroused” by Julia on her bed

Monday October 14, 2019
9:35pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Susan Sontag

calm, a tingling, a lying buzz that I know well
You see me and then pretend not to
I see you and pretend not to
We are the same and yet I think yours
is not about hate the way mine is but
about something that is beyond me to name
yours maybe something to do with resistance
to what I might have represented for you

a calm, still, I do not care the way
I used to in the pit of me but the
tingling comes because your face has always
been a panda that should be cuter
and that is shallow but deep
as it teeters in the stagnant pool of me
that no one gets to see

A lying buzz because I am striving for
honesty but I told myself some
untruths to justify my ignoring you
I have not been the bigger person
but the more sensitive one
as I am contemplating you here and you
are likely not offering my name a second
thought

I know it well and I hate it the same
it comes for me to knock me off my
high horse and since I’m not high anymore
I can see if for what it is
and lesson is what it is
and letting go is what I must be practicing

You might not care and this is more for
me than it is for you and yes I see it
clearly now
I see it like the horse

“It begins from the heart.” By Julia on her couch

Sunday October 13, 2019
6:26pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Shahla Khan

say your sorry
go on say the piece that is yours, that belongs to you
that you are holding back
as punishment
as deep sigh
as victim complex
say it out so it stops haunting you
so it stops sucking out the room

once upon a time this room had horns and it wasn’t a bad room but it did what it pleased
today you have gripped them tightly, and the horns feel a bit trapped
so if you are honest with
the room, with me, with yourself, you will abandon the punch left dangling
at the bottom of your hurt

I can tell you egos never want to be wrong but we both know yours is and if you say it, if you apologize
if you bring out the word that keeps you sick by hiding…

“It begins from the heart.” By Sasha at Black River Farm

Sunday October 13, 2019
10:00am
5 minutes
From a quote by Shahla Khan

Here is the place where we held hands and hearts
where we wove futures and past and incanted the unborn
and the dead

Here is the place where we passed rings around a circle of song
taught in front of the wood stove
harmonies bending air between mouths of all the beloved ones
asked for witnesses in keeping us on the spiral path
mystery and possibility
leading us

Here

is the place where the sky was the blue of my father’s eyes
the earth the colour of home
a tent like a shady dream
we didn’t know we needed
the smell of goodness and grief
hope and healing
all the hours of dreaming
fighting scrawling spreadsheet poetry

Here is the place
where you climbed onto a horse’s back
the way you knew you needed to
her ribs leading you towards
the rhythm of your palms
on my chest
feeling the rise
the fall

Here is the place
that I’ve summoned
these long weeks
called up in my storm
like a lighthouse
held close when there
was nothing

this place
an eternal reminder
of the blessing
of a union marked in the stars
marked on the map of

This place

“We did all these things and more,” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday, Oct 11, 2019
7:28am
5 minutes
We Did
Brian Doyle
There were the seasons of planting the seeds
of good fortune and picking out the rocks from the
supple generous earth
sticky resilience
honey under fingernails
dirt on cheeks
There were phases of freezing toes
and shouting under a starless sky
Crescent moon asking for more more
more more more when she finally came
when she finally helped
New like the baby’s first glance
like the promise of spring
deep freeze full of bones and secrets
thought there was nothing left to say
but there always is
wisdom a crystal buried in the basement
growing every day
There were years of abundance
years of bushels of apples
sweet potato pies
rye bread in the oven
trading this for that
no need to pass bills between
trusted treasures
There were summers of black flies
zucchini’s the size of toddlers
lake swims and fires
snaking smoke to the
Seven Sisters
birch bark friendship bracelets
girls laughing

“I’d say that’s OK” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday Oct 10, 2019
11:45am
5 minutes
On A Cliff With You
David Allan Cates
A: Would you like to go to the park?
B: NO.
A: But it’s so nice out! It’ll be fun. I promise.
B: I don’t want to go.
A: I’ll push you on the swing…
B: The big kid swing or the baby swing?
A: Your choice.
B: Big kid swing!
A: Deal!
B: But I don’t want to wear my hat!
A: You need to wear your hat.
B: No way!
A: It’s chilly! Your ears will get cold.
B: NO!
A: Ear muffs?
B: NO.
A: Headband?
B: …
A: …
B: Fiiiiiine.
A: Great. Let’s do it. Put on your boots please.
B: I want to wear my Crocs.
A: It’s too cold for Crocs, my darling.
B: NOOOO!
A: …
B: – OOOOO!
A: I’m going to start putting on my boots, and whenever you’re ready –
B: – OOOOOOOO!
A: Hey. Darling. Please stop shouting.
B: I don’t want to wear my boooooooots!
A: I can see that. What about your runners?
B: My runners make my toes itchy!
A: They do?
B: Yeah.
A: What about if you wear your purple socks inside your runners?
B: The sparkly socks?
A: Yeah!

“Everybody froze.” By Julia on the 4

Wednesday October 9, 2019
6:11pm
5 minutes
The Man At Table Five
Alison Clement

it is common, the ice off his tongue. this is what happens when one is bad at keeping oneself warm. everybody else freezes. and here we are thinking that our cold doesn’t hurt anyone but that is not true. there is proof in the quiet, and in the glaring lights.

earlier when we encountered it, we took it on as our own and had to remind ourselves not to do that but what about the ones who do not walk in pairs? who do not count breaths, who do not know how to seperate?
we can say it’s not our responsibility but that is another great convenience we like to cling to.

when a driver flashes their headlights at another behind the wheel it is usually a warning of something to be mindful of up ahead. a signal to slow down, or that the surfboard has come loose from the roof mount. it is not legally required, but there is an unwritten code.

“Everybody froze.” By Sasha at her kitchen counter

Wednesday October 9, 2019
11:30am
5 minutes
The Man At Table Five
Alison Clement

Looked to the sky and there it was. Giant ball of orange and gold, burning and spewing. Coming down on us. Falling here to earth. Everybody froze. Looked up. A communal gasp. Nobody said a word. A universal silence. Something spiritual. Something profane. Something shared. Something unbelievable. Stars don’t often fall this fast, this low. But they sometimes do. Here it is. The thing we’ve all wondered about. The thing we’ve all waited for, without knowing we’re waiting. There’s no sense in running, in moving to another place somewhere close. The reverberations will be felt everywhere. The buckles and ripples can’t be escaped. And then it’s here, and the frozen moment is broken. Everyone is moving. The birds are calling. The dogs are howling. Human beings trying to take flight.

“How loyal the heart is” by Sasha in her bed

Tuesday October 8, 2019
9:37pm
5 minutes
Red Tights
Danusha Lameris

I never knew how loyal my heart was
until it broke open

I was younger the first time
and the second
I didn’t have the knowledge yet
of the expansion that comes
after the tightest knot undoes
when you least expect it
washing last night’s dishes
the light on the wet morning grass

This time
this time
a shell of white sand
falling into the crevices
where the dandelions grow
showing me what is
inside

I used to speak of love
like a language I spoke fluently
over confident
cocky
thinking I knew

That was before the stanza where rhyming begins
where the rhythm changes
where suddenly the goodness of being in gratitude
in the crux of the unknown

the goodness
of this
becomes the mother tongue
that I didn’t know I knew

“How loyal the heart is” by Julia on L’s couch

Tuesday October 8, 2019
8:35pm
5 minutes
Red Tights
Danusha Lameris

with every passing hour
there is an ink stain
seeping deeper into the
contract of this. Of Us.

Who put their name down
in what order is something we might joke about but I know I was the one who signed first.

I decided.

Somewhere between the first
time I saw you and first time I kissed you I had my pen ready.

That is saying something: no pencil, no eraser.

And you were there in my
room playing the guitar for me and telling your
jokes to me and sharing
your smoke with me.

But I was the one who thought we should live together. I’m the one who found us our first house
to dwell in.

I can’t say for certain
how but I can say I did.

“I can’t help but reflect” by Julia on her couch

Sunday October 6, 2019
6:53pm
5 minutes
from an email

Last night I saw you in my dreams. Time had past, Too late, I kept thinking. Your house was big and beautiful and uncharacteristic of you in its excess. But this was your home, and the taps sprayed intruders with a blast unless you controlled the pressure with a knob. I got soaked. You showed me, “Like this” and it only happened once.

I went to pick up your baby girl and then my eyes wouldn’t open all the way. I couldn’t see her at all. I couldnt manage the pain of coming all that way and not even get to hold her. Too late, I am too late.

When I went to the kitchen to cry, I asked God to give me back my eyes. Instead your husband came in and asked if I was hungry. I felt like if I ate with him it would take too long and I’d keep missing out on you.
But he and I shared our lunches, mine leftover saffron noodles, and his leftover peppers with thick sauced beef.

“I can’t help but reflect” by Sasha in her comfy chair

Sunday October 6, 2019
7:12am
5 minutes
from an email

You are looking everywhere for signs
Under the sink between the garbage bin and the compost pail
In the sky amongst the light pollution and almost there Milky Way
In the numbers on the houses where we live

The numbers of the clock when you think to look
The things we say
or don’t say
Numbers numbers numbers so many numbers
But it doesn’t add up
or if there’s a division
it’s hollow and stale

It’s become an obsession
this sign hunting
Your inner compass a rudder that you no longer trust
It’s lead you astray before but this time
things matter in a different kind of way

I humour your hunting
I nod when you tell me of something or other
I like signs too
But I don’t hold to them as the gospel
Clinging to the spindly tree in the middle of a hurricane
I don’t believe that they are the only marker
of progress
of love
of resonance

“verde y amarillo” by Julia on her couch

Saturday October 5, 2019
11:22pm
5 minutes
@quenoteam
Javier Rupérez Instagram

It’s bees I’m talking about, Lydia. Honey’s bees, you know? They’re the ones doing all the work and getting none of the reward. It’s something I’m just learning about now since Kiki came home with that school project and needed an adult to fact check her research. That was the first time I even read anything about these bees, Lydia, and how was I supposed to help her if I never knew nothing about them? I helped her make it colourful, you know the poster board that she needed to decorate? We put some nice yellows and greens and purples too. I thought cause the bees are attracted to bright flowers it would be a nice touch. Subtle. Kiki loved it, she kept saying, but this is so pretty I want to keep it in my room!

“verde y amarillo” by Sasha on her couch

Saturday October 5, 2019
11:02am
5 minutes
@quenoteam
Javier Rupérez Instagram

The thing about writing is it’s liquid
inefficient and strange
We all hope we are good at it
wonder what that even means

Inspiration comes via the light
through the stained glass window
or something you’ve finally understood
that your love has been saying for years

You go to your notebook and there are
two pages left
You ponder this

The end or the beginning

Life is better when you are writing
every day no matter what chaos is there
You remember the anthology of this practice
stored in the garage
along with books you aren’t ready to let go of