“I was supposed to have the afternoon off” by Sasha at her desk

Saturday April 13, 2019
5 minutes
Ken Mitchell

Bill is rolling a cigarette out behind the dumpster and I’m pissed because I’m trying to quit but he’s there tempting me every time I want to take a break.

“WTF Bill!” I say, and he doesn’t look up. He licks his lips. “You know I’m tryin’ to quit! Least you could do is pull that milk cart outta sight, or somethin’!”

I go for a walk around the block. This guy is not going to get to me. This guy is not going to get to me. I’ve smoked for six years and I don’t even want to think about how many days this has chopped off my life. How Bill’s heart is still beating is a question that remains unanswered. The guy must be at least sixty now, but he has that ageless wrinkle thing goin’. Hard life, I guess.

“Day after day we worked” by Sasha in Mississauga

Monday December 24, 2018
5 minutes
The Swiss Family Robinson
J.D. Wyss

Jeremy puts on his father’s coat and his mother’s fake fur hat and goes to smoke a joint in the garage. It’s the first Christmas without Sara and everyone is on their best/worst behaviour. Since moving away from Kingston, Jeremy has learned how what we think is our best is sometimes our worst because it’s not necessarily honest. Jeremy tries to be honest.

“Are you high?” His mother asked last night, as she washed and he dried. Joan Baez’s Christmas album on the stereo.

“Yup,” he said, carefully wiping the platter that used to be his grandmother’s, the one with little raised cranberries on it.

“Jeremy… Is it necessary that you – “

“You do you, Mom. Drink a little too much Pinot Grigio, eat a little too much baked brie. I’m gonna do me, and smoke a bit of weed.”

She raised her eyebrows, unsure about this man in front of her who resembled the little boy gripping her hand til her knuckles turned white on the first day of school.

“we have enormous power” by Sasha at Ocean Village

Wednesday October 10, 2018
5 minutes
Louder than Words

When he’s rolling cigarettes
just a little bit of weed
mostly tobacco don’t even okay
He thinks about his father
rolling cigarettes and smoking
sunrise to noon to sunset
to midnight his father in the
field hoping to keep calm
He remembers his mother beating
on his father’s chest with closed
fists with anger the colour of
blood in her eyes and how she wailed
when she told him he was gonna die
and how she wailed when she lost
another child and how she wailed
when he collapsed in the corn

“Mother stomps up” by Julia on the 20

Tuesday April 24, 2018
5 minutes
Says Mother
Laura Willwerth

Uninvited and flipping through the notebook left collecting mud on the patio.
Some things are not meant for mothers to read.
Did you mean what you said?
Did you say what you mean?
I would nod and tell her don’t you remember? You taught me well.
When we’d get mad about you smoking didn’t you know it was because it turned your lungs into yelling? Didn’t you know our anger was speaking for our fear that hadn’t yet collected its thoughts?
She would give me the bed off her back and sleep in a mold-heavy
yesterday so my boyfriend’s tall wouldn’t hang off the end
Nobody asked you to sacrifice yourself.
If she read that she would cry.

“if everyone else forgets” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday August 24, 2017
5 minutes
From a greeting card

In 1976 it’s the coldest birthday you’ve ever had
February brings hail and relentless freezing
Marg and Bob forget too
and that makes everything colder
Brittle and bone-chilling

You get home from your job
as a teller at the bank
and Bob is in his chair
CBC is on the radio
Marg is hacking at a frozen slab
of pork or at least it looks like pork

“Hey hon,” Marg says not looking up
You feel
tears behind your eyes
at least something’s hot
Your cheeks burn

You go upstairs and close your door
and lament still living with these two
who you’ve sworn to no longer call
You roll a joint and hang your head out the window
like you’re fourteen again

“The pleasures and perils of a drug-altered mind” by Sasha at JJ Bean

Thursday May 4, 2017 at JJ Bean
5 minutes
Vancouver Sun
Thursda May 4, 2017

Karla wears pink heart-shaped sunglasses. Sublime is playing on a beat-up boombox plugged in on the porch. Adi’s backyard sprawls long and wide, pimpled with dandelions. I’m not quite scared, but I’m not quite excited. I wonder where he got the weed, and if I’ll become addicted. How glamorous. I wonder if I’ll cough or my eyes will turn red. I wonder if we’ll laugh more than usual. Bare legs scratched by the grass, he lights up the joint and we pass it. Karla always knows what she’s doing, or is a very good pretender. I am a bit more bumbly, a bit more rosy-cheeked, a bit more novice in general. I do cough. I don’t feel high. I wait and wonder what all the fuss was about. “Lots of people don’t feel it their first time,” Adi says, laying back and stretching out, skinny legs sticking out of his cut offs, arms long. The clouds move like water. Karla puts her sunglasses on me.

“remove all valuables from your car” by Sasha at the table in Swansea

Friday August 5, 2016
5 minutes
From a parking sign in Decatur

Ma smokes cigarettes the day before she gets her period and no one questions it anymore because Hunk doesn’t and if Hunk doesn’t we shouldn’t. She smokes anywhere between six and thirty nine, but she’ll never smoke forty. At least that’s what Hunk says, out by the dump, when we’re huffing and picking at scabs. Ma says that the town’s changing now that the Mill’s closed and McMahon’s is opening up another dog food factory. “Different kinda person, who grinds animal faces for a living,” Ma says, stirring the pot of chilli and adding some Kraft singles to the cornbread. It’s my night for dishes, but I sneak out to the garden and pick tomatoes and hope no one knows their Mondays from their Tuesdays.

“The earth’s insomnia” by Sasha at Studio 1398

Wednesday March 16, 2016
5 minutes
Lorna Crozier

Julie and Mel stand on the steps of a Church downtown.

J: Want a smoke?
M: Naw…
J: Why not? You too good for this now?
M: Naw?
J: You fuckin’ quit.
M: Nu-uh.
J: You did! You fuckin’ quit!
M: You know what, Julie? You’re a bitch!
J: What?
M: Yeah! You’re a fuckin’ bitch who talks too fuckin’ much and I’m sick of your bullshit.
J: Naw. You’re grumpy cuz you quit smoking.


M: So what if I did?
J: I knew it! I fuckin’ knew it!
M: Yeah, I did. I’m tryin’ to get things back on track, okay?
J: Good for you! I’m proud a’ you! Really.
M: Shut up.
J: I am!


M: Really?
J: Yeah…
M: Thanks. Thanks alot, Jules.
J: Yeah, man. You’re welcome! Onwards to health and vitality, man.

Julie finishes her cigarette and lights up another. Mel watches her, out of the corner of her eye. A few moments pass. A car goes by blaring hip hop. They both bop their heads.

“off the grid gypsies” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday October 6, 2015
5 minutes
From a text

The bread is rising in the corner and Penelope is singing the song that she always sings. Burt, her Dad, my Mother’s second husband, rolls a cigarette. Mother washes dishes until her hands start to hurt. “Della? Come help?” I pretend I don’t hear her and it works but only until Burt realizes what I’m doing. He throws his slipper at me and lights his smoke. “Go outside, Burt!” My Mother shouts. Since Wren was born, she doesn’t like him smoking inside. Didn’t seem to matter with the rest of us. Burt grumbles a bit, grabs his slipper and says, “Go help yer Mom.”

“I’ll mesage in a bit” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday September 17, 2015
5 minutes
from a text

“You’re like an antidepressant,” Ruby says, matter-of-factly. She usually plays her cards closer to her chest but with Syd everything is different. Syd smooths out Ruby’s unruly eyebrows using his pointer fingers and smiles. She rolls a joint and they hand their bodies out her bedroom window, blowing smoke rings. Syd gets his weed from a guy in the mail room at work. Ruby thinks that’s really funny.

“Be aware.” by Julia at Souzan’s apartment

Monday, September 7, 2015
5 minutes
from a residential security poster

There’s a little cat that visits my apartment every night. Late. When everyone else in the world has gone to sleep except him and me. We’re up doing god knows what: prowling the streets, wishing there were more cheese puffs (respectively). He’s black and white and has on tiny speckle of grey right on his nose. He’s cute, but he’s confusing. Why does he visit me so late and isn’t there something he’d rather be doing? I sit out on my porch smoking Belmonts and making up video game style music. Usually I just hum it and it passes the time. But then sometimes this cat comes and I pet him, or I bring him out some tuna, or whatever I have. Some nights he brings me things too. Like last night, he came by around 4, usual time, and in his mouth he was carrying an ambiguous and bloody carcass. He dropped it at my feet. It’s still there now.

“scoop up all the trash” by Julia on her patio

Thursday May 7, 2015
5 minutes
from http://www.ecokids.ca

Community service. As if I should have to serve the community for doing one thing against the legal system. Like one tiny thing, and they make you serve the entire community with your penance and your time and your new shame. There are so many people doing illegal and stupid things. SO MANY. They’re not serving the community, they’re not even worried about having to. I mean, a service to my community would be warning everybody about where not to smoke hash in this city. Tell people where not to speed. Now these are services people want. The community doesn’t give a flying fuck if I rake up some completely docile leaves. Leaves don’t bother people, why is that one of the tasks? The community doesn’t care if I scoop up all the trash in the park. There are city people who get PAID to do that so they’re not going to suddenly feel like a big weight’s been lifted off them if I, the apparently guilty, offer a bunch of hours to essentially take away job opportunities from someone who actually needs the work.

“some of your visitors” by Sasha on the Gulf Islands ferry

Wednesday December 31, 2014
5 minutes

He likes those yogurt shakes. Strawberry. Sometimes peach, but only on Fridays. He brings Benji home a can of tuna but forgets that Benji likes SPAM. “Sorry Benji!” He watches the news and says a silent prayer for the bees and the whales and the old growth forests. He does not recycle. He only smokes cigars with his father, and on his father’s birthday. He smoked marijuana once, and only once, when he was twenty seven and in Amsterdam. One of his only regrets. His other regret is not having asked Gus Lipinski to the prom. He swears he would have said “Yes”. He swears they would have been the last couple dancing and that the chaperones and Mr. Tyler would have had to say, “Okay, boys, it’s time to go home.”

“Smoking seriously harms you” by Julia on the Coren’s country couch

Wednesday December 24, 2014
5 minutes
A pack of Marlboro

I never smoked a day in my life until I met Andie from Soho. Andie from Soho made it seem so cool to light one up, smoke a bit, throw it on the ground, not care that half of it was left untouched, then go ahead and light another one up in the same breath. So I started bumming off her, just a few puffs every few nights and always after drinking. Then she started giving me full ones and I’d smoke them like Andie did just more of the cigarette because I couldn’t wrap my head around why you’d ever want to waste something that costs so much. Then one day I bought a pack, all on my own, and I remember feeling like, yeah. This might be the end for me.

“Smoking seriously harms you” by Sasha on Nadeem’s bed in Mississauga

Wednesday December 24, 2014
5 minutes
A pack of Marlboro

We’re not sure he’ll make it
We hope you can take it
We don’t want to give you a start

We’re sorry to say it
We don’t want to relay it
We hope that we’re doing our part

He shouldn’t have done it
His lungs just couldn’t bare it
He wasn’t the smartest of smart

The nicotine sticks aren’t the worst of it
The drugs and the alcohol are it
Here’s a lemony tart

“this folder is empty” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday November 11, 2014
5 minutes
from the library tab on a computer

Josie browns her butter and smokes a cigarette. She regrets not going for a run that morning but doesn’t regret the butter. How can we ever regret butter? She stirs and listens to the bubbles. Nothing better. She ashes her cigarette in the earth of the cactus on the window ledge and then feels guilty. She gets a spoon from the drawer and removes the ash. She puts in the compost and then feels guilty. When she goes to remove it, it’s already mixed in with the coffee grinds, the grapefruit peel, the chicken bones. She smiles at herself. She thinks about quitting smoking. She turns off the stove and pours the butter into the eggs and brown sugar. She mixes with a wooden spoon.

“WHeat=” by Julia on the 506 going east

Friday January 10, 2014
5 minutes
from building graffiti on college street

It’s been 7 years since I’ve touched wheat. You’re laughing. I get it. You think it’s impossible to do. You think I’m a fool for even doing it. “What am I missing out on!” Haha. Joke’s on you. I haven’t touched wheat and I am living a better life because of it. I think people forget how good their bodies were and just assume they are the way they were meant to be. Just not so. I was a real pill when I first started. It was worse than quitting smoking..I know this because I also haven’t touched a cigarette in 7 years, but that’s obviously for a different story. I couldn’t leave the house without yelling at someone, I couldn’t stay inside the house without almost ordering pizza. It was a real nightmare and I was not willing. It took about two years before I was willing. Hell, most days, I’m still not willing. I just keep with the routine. You know what’s actually funny? You’re the laughing type so I can presume you feel you’re missing something in this story that most other stories give you. I’m not even allergic to it. No laughter. Well I stand corrected. That was not a joke, I guess, so. But when I decide something, I stick to it. I also was the one who tagged that building! I made up my mind about graffitiing the tallest building on my street. And I did it.

“changed their marijuana laws” by Julia at R Squared

Tuesday, November 15, 2013 at R Squared
5 minutes
A Thousand Dreams
Larry Campbell, Neil Boyd & Lori Culbert

Addison walks through the park with her hood tied tight around her mouth and nose. Her eyeballs poke through and that is all she needs to get by. She tries closing her eyes and extending one or both of her arms to try and lead her through safely without vision. She is mostly unsuccessful. She tells herself she should really study the park better in broad daylight. She should know which path leads to which place and she should know it with her soul, and her legs, and not just her eyes. Addison is meeting someone but she doesn’t know who. She knows it’s going to change her life and make her answer those tough questions she’s been avoiding since she came into this world. She knows that no one else will ever make her learn these things, but she’s willing to go at it on her own. It’s the getting there she’s a bit hesitant about. She reaches up to tighten her hood even more so that only one eye can see out. She walks slowly, absorbing every energy from the ground through her boots as she mushes across the wet grass. She feels inside her sweater pocket for the roach she put in there after almost having to talk to her ex boyfriend, Matt. It’s the only thing that comforts her now, like her teddy bear, Ally, used to when she was very young. Matt wouldn’t have understood anyway.

“she’s obliged to protect you” by Sasha at her desk

Friday, August 9, 2013
5 minutes
Unsafe Convictions
Alison Taylor

MoMo has green eyes that remind of plates one might find in an antique store. When he looks at me, I question things I haven’t ever questioned before, like philosophical stuff, big universe stuff. MoMo has long legs that seem to dangle no matter what he’s doing. He’s got good teeth. The kind of teeth my Bubby would have whispered about. “Look at those teeth…” She would’ve said. He popped too many pimples when he got acne when he was eighteen. There are little potholes in his face. But it adds to his mystery. It dots him with experience. It makes me trust him. He used to roll his own cigarettes but he stopped smoking when his daughter started. They cycle of life. The circle of nicotine and sunsets and diapers.

“Loading zone” by Sasha on the walk home (spoken into the voice recorder)

Friday, June 28, 2013
5 minutes
From a street sign

We walked over to the far corner of the Loading Zone and you lit up a cigarette. I gagged because, one, I can’t believe that you started smoking again and, two, cigarette smoke always makes me feel physically ill. My mom was the same. If she was within a metre of someone puffing on a Camel she’d excuse herself to the bathroom and vomit. I’m not just being dramatic. You looked at me like, “What’s your problem?” but it couldn’t have been that because, seriously, you know my issue. “Too bad about Krissy getting fired, eh?” you say, trying to change the subject of the silent conversation that had just transpired. “Yeah,” I nod, peeling my banana.