Wednesday August 1, 2018
The Highest Bidder
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.
Tuesday May 1, 2018
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
Monday April 9, 2018
Z. Da Costa
That summer that will always be sepia toned
according to you
For me it’s florescent and hungover and
smells like coffee and stinky sweaty bedsheets
That summer is immortalized in my body now
That summer is an infection
a thing I couldn’t possibly have done
was that me?
That summer is a fit body
a cloudy mind
a wailing spirit
That summer is a shame
a burning room in a hell place
a soaring bird
in cumulus skies
Tuesday October 18, 2016
From the back of The Sun
He never asked me what I wanted to do or what I loved or what I was thinking.
He didn’t need to know, I assumed. He didn’t think it was necessary. I don’t
know how you go your whole life as a parent not thinking it is necessary. I don’t
Know how you go your whole life talking to so many people each day and saying so
The best gift he ever gave me was a necklace: black gem stone, elegant.
He brought it home for me the day after my sister gave the other half of her best
friends forever necklace to someone other than me. He said he wanted me to have one
of my very own. One that I wouldn’t need somebody else to complete.
Tuesday August 23, 2016
It might have been 40 degrees out. It felt like we had already sweat off most of our top skin anyway. The trees were dense with moisture. Heavy like they were holding in all of the rain we hadn’t seen. Jessie and I ate kiwis while we waited for Reid and Lucia to hurry up. Lucia told us we’d hear the owl signal and know we should take off on our bikes to go meet them. Jessie didn’t want to move. She said her thighs were rubbing. We sat beside the shed while we finished eating, kiwi juice dripping down into our shirts. I didn’t want to ask Jessie to do much else. I was glad she finally came with us for once. Usually she’d have an excuse why she couldn’t come. She even used “blow-drying her hair” one time and missed out on one of the best nights of our lives. We spent that summer in the cemetery conjuring spirits and memories of loved ones we had never met.
Saturday May 7, 2016
from a chef magazine
Let’s discover our soft spots
Our don’t touches
Our yes love this
Let’s discover our truth’s truth
Our hard lost youth
Our who’s who
Tell me about your day dreams
I’ll tell you about my nightmares
Tell me about your battle wounds
I’ll tell you about my big scares
My empty jars
My catch this
Let’s discover the good and the bad
The moments we never had
The memories that make us sad
The language that holds us together
Tuesday March 8, 2016
The Artist’s Way
In my house we never had enough moments of pure ease–we had some tensions around the dinner table–us correcting dad’s grammar, one little one getting in trouble for skipping school again, the big on getting in trouble for wanting to leave the dinner table to go work on her homework, the middle one getting in trouble for slamming the door earlier.
“Eat what’s on your plate”
“Eat this or don’t eat”
If you don’t eat what’s on your plate, you can’t leave the table”
We couldn’t say we weren’t hungry–we couldn’t say we didn’t want the risotto or the second day fried spaghetti or the chicken scallopini or the veal fettine with lemon and parsley. How could we say we don’t want to eat these good things with you when you get mad at us for BREATHING.
“You should feel so lucky you get to eat like this”
“You should see what the other kids have to eat every night: pasta from a can, tuna salad sandwiches”
“But we like tuna”
“Not for dinner we don’t”
Some moments reeked of attempted ease.
A joke here–him trying to steal a fork full of meat off our plates when weren’t looking–a question about the neighbour’s dog.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
from the back of a CD
Memories are being made in our perfect little apartment
I can see you from across the room and I like that I can take in every part of you now
Before I think I forgot to make eye contact with you
We sat side by side so we got used to staring straight ahead
It was more comfortable that way
Now I can see you from a distance
See your smile
Your genuine desire to help me
Memories are being made here
We sit on our properly sized couch and remember how things used to me
We are learning to remember our hardships as the golden thread in our tapestry
The through line in our story
The magic of perspective and just-desserts
We can see the mountains from our bedroom window
We can see the ocean from our dining room table
We can see the future of our love expanding when it finally has the space to grow
These are good times
These are our good times
Sunday, December 13, 2015
In the middle of the night I am shocked awake by your fist bruising my left cheekbone. You have been attacking me in your sleep since September but this is the first time it leaves a mark instantaneously.
I am livid in the moment because I am stunned and confused but I know you don’t know what you’re doing so I don’t wake you up to tell you what just happened like you want me to. In the morning you are concerned about my face and beg me to tell you what you’ve done. I say, it was an accident this time, I know it was. But you don’t believe me. I am not a good liar. You ask me to tell you what you’ve said but I don’t want to upset you so I stick to my guns and say I don’t think you said anything at all. The truth is, you’ve been calling out my name each time but I can’t bring myself to confess that you’re not just remembering your days on the battlefield. Once you yelled that I was keeping you a prisoner. Another time you told me that I didn’t deserve to live.
Thursday October 8, 2015 at JJ Bean
Thursday, October 8, 2015
I am revisiting the spot in my brain where I first made the decision to love you. I’m trying to be objective here, so don’t go trying to insert your memories. I know when I told you. I said it first, cause I always do, and I knew you felt it but you were scared of me and didn’t want to be the one to risk it. That’s a pattern for you. I am always the one to risk it. That’s a pattern for me.
In this tiny shoe box in my mind, I can see very little around the moment. There’s no colour. There’s no music. It’s a rainy day and we’re sitting at a bar. I don’t know what we’re drinking. But I know I like you and I know you like me. I’m glad there wasn’t some showy fireworks display going off in my body. It was a simple and true moment and it felt like it had made a home for itself in all the soft parts of me. You said something easy like, Have you ever mixed BBQ chips with chocolate chips? And I said something easy back like, I don’t know how I haven’t done that already. It was somewhere between that and the way you kissed me on the street before you walked away.
Saturday July 11, 2015
Overheard at Higher Grounds
After she named her first two boys Matthew and Mark, everyone thought she’d name her third one Luke. She didn’t name the first two with any religious references in mind, she simply wanted the names and that was that. She might have named the third one Luke but she never liked the name. It felt too small for a man once he grew up. That and it reminded her of the first boy she ever agreed to marry. Luke Walker had asked her to marry him in the first grade and she said yes because that’s what six year olds do. He was small and feminine and had a horrendously small nose. She only said yes because she thought Andrew Griffith was going to ask Sylvia Van Kasterin to marry him. Turns out Andrew liked her all along. She found out when he left school to join the army.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
From the back of a photo from Sarah
You and I
We found a spot
Built our home
And a backyard garden plot
We paid the rent
We made our space
Went to bed early
Slept face to face
You and I
We found happiness
Said our I love yous
Made our promises
We created a board
To pin up all our dreams
We envisioned our lives
Crafting behind the scenes
You and I
We stayed strong
Took turns being wrong
We remembered ourselves
When we were young
Our heads filled with hopes
Our home filled with love
Sunday, April 18, 2015
On my way to the edge of the world I found myself
one foot over the part where it’s dangerous
too far to come back from
and one foot teetering on the earth beside it
that’s where I was
that’s where I found myself
Melting into my own choices
left alone to face this vastness
and my own devices
but what I found I started to like
what I found I started to love
what I found I started to nurture
cause she was lost before
and she was scared
and suddenly I heard her prayer
and her promise to make time a priority
not to waste or to kill it, but to welcome it
And I was her just days ago falling
Or wanting to
over the edge of the world where I didn’t recognize my own thoughts
My own gifts
nothing mattered at all
Then I took a drive by my old memories
and I conjured up the spirits of my past
asked questions like, oh, do you remember me?
And if you do, can you spare a hope or two?
Sunday December 7, 2014
Overheard on a bridge in Venice
This man was selling SELFIE ARMS. Do you even know what those are? Ok, say you want to take a vacation and you’re all by yourself. Say you want a memory of you and the ocean but you don’t want to take the photo on your own cause it’ll look like you don’t have anyone else or that you got desperate and needed to see your face beside a landmark. There are contraptions you can buy, attach to your phone, and then, I don’t know, program it to take a photo in precisely the right amount of time for you to get ready, smile, wish you had someone there with you even though you’re happy you’re learning about independence and humility, and trusting your own instincts or whatever, and then think back to that ocean that you’ll be so damn happy you have a record of. They sell those now, you know?
Sunday September 28, 2014
Writing Down The Bones
We can so we don’t think we have to try.
We do, though.
We have to try.
We don’t get memories for free.
We think we do, but we don’t.
Just a little work first…
Just a little active listening.
Someone says “with the whole body”.
Someone says that someone says that.
That’s why when we’re young we hold it all.
Because we don’t know how to turn our bodies off.
We don’t know how to disconnect our hearts and minds yet.
And we carry the trauma and we remember without trying and we have a reservoir of moments.
But now it’s different.
Now it’s harder to let it all go but keep it all close at the same time.
So we must.
We must try.
We must try to remember by listening with everything.
And slowly slowly, the images will come.
And when they do, the feeling will be complete.
Wednesday June 25, 2014
the Canon Camera User Guide
When Sally and I were small, we’d forget to brush our teeth after eating popsicles and wake up with fuzzies. “Sweaters”, she’d call them. “Patty’s wearing sweaters on his teeth!” She’d say.
When Sally and I were small, we’d go on hikes in the woods behind Grandpa’s cabin (our parents would dump us there for ten days in August while they went camping in Algonquin Park). We’d get lost and Sally would have to use the compass clipped to her belt loop to find our way back.
When Sally and I were small, she would kiss me on the lips, counting to ten in her head, opening them ever so slightly. She would pull away and say, “Did you feel anything?”
When Sally and I were small we would open Mom’s mail before she got home from work and try to understand the bills, the curly handwriting of Aunty Odessa.
Sunday June 15, 2014
The New Yorker
I scratch the new mosquito bite. I hum a Stevie Nicks song. I eat popcorn, a bit stale, but still good, still right. My Mom, stretching in wise-woman, calls, “Can you clean out the cabinet under the sink in the bathroom?” “Sure!” I call back. I drink water. I pad upstairs, my feet dirty, and I settle in, on the floor. I open the cabinet and it’s all half squeezed bottles of sunscreen, mini shampoo’s from hotels, soaps that are discoloured and bath salts that have formed into solid blocks, solid ice chunks. And a christmas scrunchy. And a nightlight missing a bulb.
Monday June 16, 2014 at
A little bit of me goes a long way
A thing I still remember my mother used to say
Tight braids in the backyard
Baskets filled with tomato red
I would hold onto her promises
And every single thing she said
Because the stars were her favourite
And the rhubarb bush her friend
The nights felt like perfect movies
The days a pretty song without a threat to end
And mama had an angel’s voice
And mama liked to sing
A little bit of me goes a long way
For the mountains and for the King
I didn’t know it then
But I’m sure I see it now
The words she held close to her chest
The softness she’d allow
Were the ones I would keep with me
Tattooed upon my heart
So that I’d never forget the ways
She’d lull me in the dark…
Peace and poems she would strum
Dreams and old ones she would hum
Wednesday April 16, 2014
from a Sheraton Hotel Voucher
Remember back to the time before you were afraid
Remember the place you used to fall asleep?
Taking you to your friend across town
Built by your father’s hands
Remember back to the time before you were afraid
When you felt your feet on the earth
And their roots going down
Laughing at how seriously you take yourself
Remember the smell of your pillow
The smell of your birthday party
The one where you collected and then painted rocks
The smell of your mother on Date Night
Remember the time
You forgot who you were
And sat in the back seat
While your supposed best friend’s boyfriend
did doughnuts in the parking lot
of the subway station
Thursday April 10, 2014
From a quote by John Grisham
Franky used to be a real prick. He’d line up my Barbie dolls and shoot the heads and the tits off each one. One by one by Barbie dolls would undergo their painful transformation as my brother Franky (who obviously didn’t believe women existed as human beings), would ruin their bodies and their faces satisfying his cruel desire for violence and nudity. He grew up one day and I told him that he should really try to make sure his own kids didn’t do that to their sister because it was actually pretty traumatizing for a 6 year old to witness her precious little dolls experience such a travesty without an explanation that it’s because some men just hate women.
Thursday January 9, 2014
from the store by the same name on queen west
When you recycle memories
Sloshing them in the blue bin
You’re not doing yourself a favour
It hurts to see them like that
All mixed up together
On Tuesday morning
When you put them on the curb
Your parka over your pyjamas
You might laugh
You see that one your forgot about
The time you fell off the dock and thought you might drown
You were scared then
And you felt remarkably free.
When you’re walking away
The wind picking up your first kiss and taking it somewhere west
You catch a sniff of yourself
Stealing a Rolo bar from the Queen Bargain Mart.
Monday December 23, 2013
the album Love Takes No Prisoners
I was supposed to be a Zoe. My mother always liked that name but she felt weird giving me one that didn’t tie with the family. I’m glad she didn’t. It’s always weird thinking of the differences in my life that would come from just having a different name. I was worried when I was younger that my name would dictate everything. Not a Britney. Not a blonde. Not an Emily. Not the cute one. It was silly. I know that now. My father jokes about planning to name me Geppetto. From Pinocchio. That really bothered me. I was a dumb kid, I believed everything anyone told me. And I was mad at my father for trying to name me something so stupid. As if that were the real name I should have had and thus developed all the qualities that go with it.
Saturday , August 10, 2013
from the High Park Subway station ”
Writing a new song
Don’t want you to try to learn it
I’m a good friend of your mother
From a long long time ago
I met you at the Ferris wheel one fall evening bright
You were wearing your favorite jacket looked like you borrowed it from your mother’s closet
It was her favourite too
I remember her
I remember you
I didn’t want you to know who I was so
Iied about my name and my living situation
Told you I was in investments and you smiled and said oh how nice that is
Everyone you meet lately is a struggling artist like yourself
I knew I was singing to you right then
Making this truth song play out in my head just for you
My little inspiration wouldn’t know my intentions
Wouldn’t know who I really am
Too painful for all the memories of me
That you will never see
Monday, April 22, 2013
Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig
Of course it was a good thing, it was the only thing. It shone like a red crescent moon that begged the question “are we even still alive?” It was his way of analysing me, of telling me that life is good and things in it are on a temporary wheel, just spinning spinning until they’re not anymore. He was vague like that. Like a sunset. Sort of beautiful in all its ambiguity. It was a good thing. The answers to life’s more tedious demands. It was a humour-filled narrative. Something like that. It’s all a dream now anyway.
He was resting his aching feet by the water, just dipping the bottom of his slacks into the salty edge to get wet enough to cool him. He didn’t mind his pants being ruined. He was sitting pleasantly in that moment. The one between sleep and awake, the one where nothing bad could touch him. He was on his own plain then, trying to convince me of my own beauty and my talent. I didn’t want him to know that I already believed him. His poetry beguiled me. Made me into a woman without difficulty. I was never anxious in his presence. He had a way with words back then…
Friday, March 21, 2013
The 100 Mile Diet
Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
My daddy used to say it, used to say, Oh what a happy home! Taking in the smells of me mum’s cooking, coming back from a long day at work, he was, trying to make ends meet for me and me brother and me mum. What a good dad! Always bringing us home some nice treats. Sometimes a biscuit from the market or if we were good, a nice old basket of perfect plums. I liked the plums the best because it meant he was in a good mood, had all the time in the world to fix us up a proper treat. My daddy would come home with such a happy tone, yell up to me and me brother, waiting at the front door for us to run down and crawl into his skin with our laughter. Such a good dad. And me mum would wait there in the kitchen, looking on at us all, saying, well is it him or is it the lord Jesus saviour man? Sounds like it could even be Santa Clause! We’d laugh then, and come running back to show her how nice the plums were, or the jam, or the crisps from his secretary Marsha. She’d say, Not before dinner, it’ll spoil your appetites! And we’d look up at our dad with those big old eyes and wee-one hope, and he’d shake his head at us with his eye on me mum, and say, now you know we can’t be too hasty! Your mum made us a proper meal tonight. Tonight we’re going to celebrate being absolutely alive!