“Is it the beginning of a poem?” By Julia in the bathroom

Thursday March 28, 2019
5 minutes
The Poet Always Carries A Notebook
Mary Oliver

I tell the woman my name after she asks and make a joke about my last name rhyming with wedgie so she’ll remember how to pronounce it.

She looks at me for a minute then I explain that it came from some unkind yet quite creative grade fours when I was the new kid in school. I laugh, she laughs, everyone sitting near us laughs. And then she begins to talk about how a pebble in a stream can change the course of a river and I’m going where she’s taking me. She uses it as a teaching moment to remind the class that even small moments can stay with us our whole lives and we don’t know which pebbles people are walking around with in their pockets.

It even hits me hard and I’m the one joking about it.

She tells me, maybe that’s the start of a poem. It already rhymes…

“for young students who can’t sit still” by Julia at her desk

Thursday November 8, 2018
5 minutes
From the Beginning
Chelsey Burnside

I have a couple cures up my sleeve
for those days with the knocking knees
Where you can’t sit still even if you please
cause the mind is a buzz with a billion bees
I know what to do when you can’t cut through
the noise that’s been making you feel annoyed
so listen up here it’s the answer it’s the key
for those bumping hearts that are bursting free
Keep moving then if the calm won’t stay
it’s the right time to run if your legs shaped that way
there’s a river to be imitated
if your hunger got you far from sated
you can roll in and out
till your bones get tired and eventually
your nerves will expire
so run like the wind and kiss like the moon
the silence will be there when you’re
ready to tune in your inner ear to the inner light
and until then just keep growing your bright.

“silence that voice.” By Julia at her desk

Wednesday October 3, 2018
5 minutes
Sitting in the Fire
Pema Chodron

She doesn’t whisper anymore
she begs
she wants me to be loud
that’s my goddamn mantra anyway
Yell Woman, Yell As Loud As The Moon
But the pull of this river is telling me something different
That I should quiet the voice quaking
that I should walk in silence and observe the wind moving
I am being tested every second and there are so many seconds
which mountains I’ve made and which I’ve climbed
I am fairly certain there have been no molehills worth dying on
I know that is what the pull is saying
the one that doesn’t whisper anymore
The one that doesn’t say anything at all
Wisdom is knowing you are right and not beating a love
over the skull with how right you are
and how wrong they have been
It is about knowing deep within and underneath bone
that sometimes saying less is saying more
and saying nothing is saying nothing

But what about the Yell Woman.
The Women of Yell that I have built all my bridges on
They rumble sometimes
and still
I must sit

“We heard you loud and clear” by Julia in her bed

Saturday January 21, 2017
5 minutes
from a text

I grew up in a cornfield
Nonna aproned in the backyard
Picking dandelions for supper
Knew all the kids on my block and sold drawings for pennies in groups of 2 or 3
We planted a sprig of pussy willow and it grew as wild and large as the entire porch
The people who repainted our bathrooms white with gold stars and moons had to cut it down because it was starting to grow into the house
We’d go for walks to the river in clusters of young
Not fully knowing which direction was the right one
The backyard was home to blackberry bushes and mint leaves
And to cousins and neighbours singing loud at the bonfire on summer nights

“White-sand beaches” By Julia at her dining table

Monday March 7, 2016
5 minutes
from an online ad

If you’re asking then I’m going, going with you, going wherever you go.
I don’t have any bags packed yet but I don’t mind getting whatever I need as we bleed.
Can I borrow your toothbrush? If you’re asking, can I share your knapsack?
I could sing you one of your favourites. You can pick the one. I know you like some feeling kinds, some country, some bluegrass, some sweet sweet soul.
I don’t care if you’re a white-sand beaches kind of thing, a hot air balloon, an air dive off of a mountain kind of heart. I am an open mess of so much yes and so little reservation.
I can curl up small on your back, or lead you hand in hand to a secret place where the pure strength river will never run dry.

“I will go to the river” by Julia at Souzan’s apartment

Sunday September 13, 2015
5 minutes
Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts
Tales retold by Jane Yolen

If you close your eyes and stretch out your hands I promise I’ll lead you to safety. Trust me. I’ll sing that to you until you believe me. I’m in no rush. I’m in no hurry. I’ll take you to the river and I’ll wait with you there. When you’re ready you can expand and when you’re ready you can lift up and soar. I’m in no rush. I’m in no hurry. Trust me. I hear the water in my sleep and it calms me, draws me in. I know the route to the moments worth keeping like I know my own nail beds, like I know my own smell. I will go again and again because I never tire of its medicine. I never tire of the healing that sets me free.

“Feed Your Family” by Sasha at W Cafe

Tuesday March 17, 2015 at W Cafe
5 minutes

At Ken and June’s wedding
I sweat through my red silk dress
Alexandra sang Unforgettable
and everyone jumped in the river between the
and the
The rocky bank speckled with lacy undies and
spotted boxer shorts
like trilliums

I found Jasmine crying in the outhouse and
I told her a joke about a mushroom
she laughed
snot bubbled from her nose
and we both laughed
and I only thought once about the time that she made me
get in the red
Honda Civic with her ex-boyfriend
after he’d been drinking

Henry and I danced
only to fast songs
June took off her high-heeled shoes and ran
through the vegetable garden
pulling up carrots and handfuls of

“Four letter challenge!” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday June 29, 2014
5 minutes

It was the first time
and the last time
It was covered in green glitter
and honeydew breath
It was the first time
and the last time
It was a four letter challenge
and a three letter dance
It was the first time
and the last time
It left more scars on my than you
but I’m okay with that
Scars are currency where I come from
It was the first time
and the last time
We followed the white squirrel
all the way to the river
We took off our sandals
We waded in
Up to our thighs
They could hear our squeals

“the highest levels” by Sasha on the patio at Jimmy’s Coffee

Saturday June 8, 2013 on the patio at Jimmy’s Coffee
5 minutes
Car and Truck June 1, 2013 volume 2, issue 21

Walkin’ by the river, I see FeeFee makin’ her boat. “When you settin’ sail, FeeFee?” I call. She’s on the other side, like always, and she’s real focused. She doesn’t answer at first, it takes her a minute or two to break out of her hammerin’ trance, you know how it goes. “Saturday!” She calls back, a bit muffled ‘cuz there’s nails in her teeth. “How far are you goin’?” I call again. She spits the nails into her hand. “Not sure… Maybe all the way to the end of the river.” I’m not even sure where that is, the “end of the river”. “Wow…” I say. “You hungry?” I call. “A little,” she says, smiling. Sometimes I bring her a ham sandwich or a jar of iced tea or some leftover roast beef, or somethin’. She don’t got anyone else lookin’ out for her. I run up the riverbank and go to the house and see what I got. I bit of fish, a bit of bread, a can or two of tomatos. Doesn’t seem good enough for someone settin’ sail on Saturday. I decide to get out the birch box that used to be my Mama’s that contains all of her best recipes. I find the one for strawberry shortcake. I don’t got strawberries but I can go down to the stand at the end of the road once the shortcake is in the oven.

“Why is she following this river” by Julia on her couch

Saturday, December 29, 2012
5 minutes
Fool’s Bells

Because she can’t help it. Woke up this morning, couldn’t feel her feet, went to find them. There. Now she’s in the river.
She said the water felt hot, like lava. Said she could stand it as long as she breathed…
Waiting for the sun to set, she says to herself in a calming tone:
This is not the end. This is not the end. This is not the end.
The stars from last night echo in her mind’s eye. Blink once for yes. Twinkle twice for no.
Yes. No.
Remember when it was so simple?
The hard rocks are not rough, but they keep their place without moving.
She is deep now. She’s letting the rush swallow her legs and memory all at once.
Where is the wind now, she wonders. Is it here?
She does not feel the breeze. It’s a trapping sensation that keeps her limbs tight.
She couldn’t feel her feet, went to find them.
Now she’s here.
Now she’s in the river.
The silent crushing of her everday’s dream. It is weighing on her every internal organ.
Crying out: PICK ME. SAVE ME. NEED ME.
It goes on and on and the mood is changed from wishful longing to regret.
Just plain regret.
And then she’ll dry off her toes, rest easy on her back, and count the flying snowflakes, trying to find a place to perch.
Will this hold me forever?
Will this keep me safe?