Saturday August 26, 2017
From a business card
I really wanna make Mama proud, you know. She spent a whole lotta time not being proud of me when I was younger and getting into all that trouble. We don’t need to talk about that, but like, it wasn’t a good scene and I caused her a whole lot of stress. So I wanna make her proud! Like the kinda proud where she smiles really big and acts like I’m the kid she’s always dreamed of having! I ask Kim if I can use the barn at the back of her property, just on Saturdays to start. She says that it needs a real good clean, but I can do that, I can do that for this.
wednesday August 9, 2017
The Enormous Crocodile
“If I can’t see you I don’t want to see anyone!”
Mitchell wept into his pillow. He talked to his Dad before bedtime.
Mitchell’s Dad wanted to do the right thing. He didn’t want to confuse him. He didn’t want to make him reliant on someone the rest of the world couldn’t see.
“You can’t leave me,” he cried, “I can’t give you away!”
Mitchell’s Dad told him he would have to let him go and help out the Angels. He didn’t want to leave either but Mitchell was getting so big. He told him he would never really leave him. He’d always be close by, watching over him.
“But how will I know that it’s you?” Mitchell squeaked.
Monday, December 28, 2015
LENNY letter no. 14
Gabriela is my mother’s first cousin but she was disowned by the family in 1977 because she was “spreading the lies of the devil through her evil written word.” My mother only mentions Gabriela by accident when I ask her if we have any writers in the family. I ask because my son, Warren, is working on his family tree for school and has to answer a bunch of questions about the jobs his relatives have had. My mother tells me by accident that Gabriela used to write poetry about things people were too afraid to talk about. In one she remembers well, Gabriela wrote a line that said “The Church is lying in the Church. The Church is hiding in the Church. We do not know what we refuse to see.”
“So, she was a poet?” I ask my mother.
“No,” she tells me, “She was a sinner.”
Saturday, July 18, 2015
From an email
No need to hurry, Si. You’ll trip! Your shoelaces are undone… Silas! Shit. Come here. Come here. You’re alright, you’ll be alright. Shhh… Sh… Mikey and Lizz are coming for supper. What shall we make. Burritos? How bout burritos? And you and Mikey can have fizzies and me and Lizz will have grown-up fizzes with wine. Oh. I guess we should stop at the liquor store, then. Or… No, can’t ask Lizz to bring, she’s always so low on cash. Not sure why she doesn’t ask Greg for more spending money. It’s not like he doesn’t have more than enough! And then he takes the kids to Marine Land and gets all the glory while Lizz is left – … Silas? Nevermind. Honey, don’t pick that up. That’s garbage! SILAS! Don’t you dare put that in your mouth. There’ll be no fizzy for you!
Thursday December 25, 2014
When he moved (and that was rare) it was in an uneasy trance. Once, you pressed your cheek to the floor in the kitchen in order to see if there was indeed space between the bottoms of his feet and the white tiles. Mostly he sat in his chair by the fire, reading and re-reading the Newspapers. The New York Times from before he left that grey hulk of a city. His favourite is July 25th, 1994. Nothing particularly incredible happened that day, but it was hot and he remembered that he went for a long walk in Central Park and fed birds. He reads and re-reads and you watch him and you tell him a joke and he laughs, but his eyes stay on the page.
Tuesday December 16, 2014
Overheard at Sainsbury’s
Ever since the car accident she looks more like the self she used to imagine. She looks more loose, more easy, more relaxed. Max doesn’t see it like that, but she doesn’t mind. She’s lessened her grip on him, another byproduct of the whiplash and the broken ribs.
“Mummy, mummy!” She can still hear how he used to call her from upstairs. Maybe she was making dinner. Maybe she was marking. Maybe she was pretending to mark and playing Solitaire on the computer. She would close her eyes and think, “I can’t wait for the day that he doesn’t need me like this”, and, “I’m scared for the day he doesn’t need me like this”.
Monday November 17, 2014
Do not bring a fucking cheese plate, Jerry! Bring, bring… I don’t know bring a bean dip or something. Bring some damn tortilla chips. He can’t eat cheese, for shit’s sake. It’s his goddamn graduation party! Oh, and did you get him a present? JERRY! Are you fucking kidding me?! This is – … No! You can’t hang up on me! I – …
Shit. Shit shit shit.
Jerry. I really don’t appreciate that you hung up on – … Okay. Look. It means a lot to Ken that you and I both be there today and if we can’t be civil then… I’m sorry. I’m sorry about snapping there but, I’m, I’m stressed out and the cleaning lady cancelled and the house is a mess and thirteen people are coming over in forty five minutes and – … Shit, shoot… Ken’s on the other line. Jerry, can I count on you for the damn bean dip? And that you’ll have a gift for him? He’s into poetry. Did you know that? Poetry. Like, Leonard Cohen. He’s reading Leonard Cohen.
Thursday October 30, 2014
On Directing Film
Oh it had better be the best damn cake this side of the Atlantic has ever freaking seen! I don’t care if you have to call in that favour from your aunt Vanda that you said you never wanted to do. I get it. I don’t want you to either. But if you don’t find some way to make sure our son has the best damn cake in 1 year old birthday party history, I will make sure you never see the end of aunt Vanda and her favours! Am I making myself clear?! It needs the secret layer with the prize inside and it needs to be a surprise so we all can have a magical photo moment. Do not ruin this for me. I mean for him. You think he won’t even remember this but you’re dead wrong. Haven’t you ever heard of post traumatic stress??? He’ll get that if you fuck this up!
Saturday October 18, 2014
from a comment on a photo on Facebook
I was tired from running around the house from my deranged mother. Turns out you tell her to shut up one time and it’s… I don’t know, over, I guess. I should have known better than to run from her. Should have just let her hit me right then and there. The more she runs the angrier she gets, which, makes sense, so it’s my fault. But she chased me up and down stairs, everywhere, everywhere. Finally, I thought, no, I cannot do this anymore, so I surrender. I just threw myself on the floor underneath the dining room table, and I gave up. I think she needed to catch me more than I needed to escape. So I let her hit me a couple times with her wooden spoon. It hurt. A lot. But I guess it was sort of a release for the both of us. Dad had only been gone for 3 days, but those three days without him really felt like more than enough. We both cried while she was whacking me. There was a moment before it ended where it actually felt okay. It felt like something was real again.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
from a Monahan and Associates sign
“You’re gonna inherit this hellhole you know,” my sister says. She’s sipping on a coffee, so her breath reeks. “Thanks for that. That’s really helpful right now,” I hiss. It’s tax season. We’re there, at the family business, helping our mother and father with filing and sorting. Simple. We’ve taken the day off of school. We’ve done this since we were able to read. My mother would call the office early in the morning, “Bobby and Imogen Fernandes are unwell today,” we’d roll our eyes and eat our Cheerios. My father calls to me from his desk, “Bobby! Bring me the stapler!” I do and I notice, for the first time, that he’s an old man. It seems to have happened in a blink – one moment he was the strong man lifting me from the cradle of the tree branches when I was too afraid to jump and the next he’s wrinkled and bald, smelling of mothballs and pipe smoke.
Wednesday April 30, 2014
the passenger safety manual on United Airways
It wouldn’t be a direct violation if I put this booger the underside of your armrest… It wouldn’t! Why are you looking at me like that? MOOOOOOM. I’m hungry. When are we going to get there? Remember when Grandma Jane was almost dead and she couldn’t stop moving around and I said, “You don’t seem like you’re dying, Gran!” And she laughed and then you looked at me like… THAT. Like, how you’re looking at me RIGHT NOW! Mom. Please can I push that button and get that flight attendant to bring me a V8? WHAT?! Why? It’s healthy! It’s basically like eating a salad! What is sodium, even? Like, they definitely don’t put salt in that juice!
Monday April 21, 2014
A sign in Parkdale
Haven’t considered Oshawa? Wow! You’re gonna be in for a treat! One of those places you really oughtta see before you die, eh Margie?
Oh exactly, you just have to visit. Great for your health and one of a kind landscape! And the people! Don’t get me started on them!
You guys, stop it. I’m not going to die! And even if I were I don’t think I’d put Oshawa on my top destination list.
You’re being a bit rude, Liam! It’s a beautiful place. Your mother and I wouldn’t talk about a city like that without anything to back it up, huh Marge?
Oh honey, your father’s right. He’s always right. But if I can be candid, he did have to convince me too!
I wasn’t always aboard the Oshawa train, but now I’m on it and it’s full steam ahead!
Oh Peter, I love it when you do that! Chugga chugga chugga chugga.
Chugga chugga Choo choo!
Okay, okay, stop.
What, honey, is it too much? We just get a real kick out of it.
And I don’t think it would kill you to visit us every now and again, that’s all.
Saturday April 5, 2014
from the box of envelopes
When the truck hit, my spine broke on impact, but I didn’t feel pain. Blood gushed from the side of my body, and I thought about my son, Louie, at daycare, playing with play-dough, mixing all the colours together. He’d be waiting for me. I’d never been late for him. This would be the first of many times I broke his heart. I break. I broke. I woke up in the hospital, machines whirring, my boyfriend, AJ, kissing my fingers. Louie slept in his stroller at the foot of the bed. AJ cried. I’d only seen him do it once before, when Louie was born. A doctor came quickly and smiled blue eyes at me. I closed my own. It was too much, too bright, to achey, too broken. “Lilly,” Blue Eyes said, “You’ve been in a coma for three months.” I tried to sit up, to see Louie. I missed too much. Shit. “Please don’t try to move. You suffered exceptional injuries – ” and AJ stands up. He kisses me on the forehead. And I can’t feel his lips there, and I can’t smell the fear on his breath.
Monday December 23, 2013
the album Love Takes No Prisoners
Fox has his pinstripe suit on, the one you bought him at the Sally Ann in Peterborough. He’s finally grown into it. The sleeves are still a bit long, but he’s rolled them up with effortless style. Like you. He shot up this year. He’s almost as tall as you. He’s saying words like, “radical”, “crazy”, and “stellar”. You’d be proud of his widening shoulders and his deepening voice. You’d smile and raise your eyebrows at his intelligent and spunky sense of humour. His room is a mess but I forgive him that because he knows how to cry in movies and shovel the walk in under five minutes.
Wednesday December 18, 2013
from the Charles Bradley record
When I get to your house, I stop, my feet drowning in slush. I don’t feel worthy of the curb, of the elevation. I see you through the window. You’re holding your son. He must be three now. He has your hair, your curls. I imagine he has your eyes, too, and your nose. He has her mouth, though, at least that’s what I see, when I close my eyes. You raise your boy up, high in the air and he laughs, you laugh. My heart drops and hits the slush. I catch it and put it back where it belongs, or where it used to be. I’m not sure where it will go next. Your Christmas tree looks right out of The Nutcracker, all lights and ribbons and silver and gold. It’s bigger than my apartment. I walk closer and closer and closer, sinking into the snow. When I get to the window I push my face up against the glass. I cross my eyes. You see me and your face pales. You put down your son and whisper something in his ear.
Wednesday December 4, 2013 at the Fringe Creation Lab
an Avision Young ad on a building
I’m gonna paint you a picture of the time you blew my mind
the time you sank my battleship
the time you showed me that there is redemption
and it wears a backwards baseball cap
The picture looks like
arriving with indignation
and bad breath
being swaddled and rocked
after sucking and biting me dry
shaking your head at the sound of the piano your father’s fingers play
making a stink about the colour of the music
I’m gonna paint you a picture
of what you said
You are the revolution
You are the clock
counting portrait and landscape
counting by letter
painting by number
I look at your chestnut eyes
And I can’t believe I made you
Friday November 22, 2013
Toronto Star (Life Section)
Mika was making currant and orange marmalade tea cake and George was raking leaves. Ryan was reading a Tintin comic on the couch, trying to not nibble on his nails. Miss Christie, his homeroom teacher, had shamed him horribly on Friday afternoon saying, in front of everyone, “Ryan, do you know how many germs live underneath our fingernails?” Ryan imagined hundreds of tiny bugs, of various shapes, crawling around together in an orgy-like pile. Although he was an intelligent seven-year-old, he wasn’t sure what a “germ” really was. Sometimes his mother added “wheat germ” to muffins so that she could call them “breakfast”. George came in the back door. “Hey, bud!” He said. His cheeks were red from the bite in the air that had arrived at the beginning of the month and hadn’t wanted to leave. “What does a “germ” look like, Dad?” Asked Ryan. “Oh sheesh, bud, what have you been reading?” George peeled off his grey sweater. “Do me a favor and don’t Google that, okay?” Mika was singing along to the radio in the kitchen, the house suddenly smelling of sweet citrus.
Friday November 22, 2013
Toronto Star (Life Section)
had a dream last night that we were playing pin the tail on the clouds. it was a game my son and me made up for when the bad days felt too long. i’d hold him and he’d hold a feather in his pudgy little hand. Then i’d lift him as high as i possibly could, reaching up and up, till the sun made him squint and he felt like it was enough. it was something we started a long time ago. with whatever he could find on the ground at the time, a rock, a stick, a snail. we would both pick a cloud, and he would try to pin the tail on it. on the same spot we chose together. i could feel him breathing, focussing, trying to get it just right. and he would never get the spot perfectly, but the concentration needed would always make it feel like he did. like just one more push and we’d get there. in the dream we were shooting right up to the real clouds. we were in a contraption that took us up, made us feel like we were flying. we knew even then that we might not touch the spot exactly, but we’d get close. in the dream he wasn’t holding an object from the yard, or the sand box. it was a framed photograph of me.
Sunday June 16, 2013
an ad at Ossington subway station
Pushing his little face away with the palm of her hand, she kept her eyes closed, breathing deeply. Not now, Benny, Mommy can’t right now. Benjamin had been sitting with his mother at the table since breakfast. She wouldn’t speak to him or look at him. She put an empty bowl in front of him with a dirty spoon and told him to eat his breakfast. Benjamin didn’t know where the cereal was. He didn’t want to look for it in front of his mother in case that would make her
more angry. So he sat and watched his Mommy breathe with her eyes closed. After an hour of watching and waiting and being very concerned, he tried to get closer. Tried to get close enough so his mother could hear his tummy growling. That’s when she pushed him away, feeling his big blinky eyes on the inside of her hand, tracing the scar line on his forehead from when he fell into the chalkboard at Auntie Caroline’s two winters ago. He didn’t ask her for a single thing.
Friday, April 5, 2013
It was colder than we’d ever thought it would be. It was colder and damper. The kind of cold that sneaks into your insides, your lungs and your marrow. The kind of cold that’s hard to get out. The kind of cold where you cross your fingers for a bathtub, or a fireplace, or a hot radiator to sit by. There was only the sound of the wind. It might’ve been lonely, but we were there together, Papa and me, and there was nothing lonely about that. He’d grown up on this tundra, with this snow. I’d always wondered why he was sad, the sadness heavy in the air around him, coming out of his mouth. It was because he missed the ice, he missed the sky. “You won’t like it here,” he’d said on the phone, so many times. “I will! I will!” I’d said. “You’re there,” I’d thought.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
She smells like tangerines. You instantly love her. If you showed me that love I would keel over in laughter (and, maybe, tears), I would keel over in gratitude to God. “You smell like onions and tuna fish, Mom,” is what I get. First Grade Teacher love, okay. I get it. She smells like tangerines, she gives you yellow happy face stickers when you do well on a spelling test, she’s the one who is telling you that you’re smart, you’re creative, you’re special. “Miss Fleck says that it’s going to be an early spring!” You come home with a crepe paper flower crown on your head. “Miss Fleck says that we should give away half our Halloween candy to the Sugar Fairy!” You do, incredibly, with the self-restraint of a monk. Right down the garbage shoot. “Miss Fleck says that even though there’s that war on terror going on, everything is going to be all right!” You are smiling, one of your front teeth wobbling so much I can’t help but smile too. Miss Fleck, bright blue eyes and short cropped hair, I am glad that you are teaching my boy. Tangerines. Ha.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
the Emergen-C packet
Jackie’s sick again. Nearly coughed up a whole lung at dinner. Poor girl. She doesn’t believe in washing her hands and I can only guarantee, based on my life’s experience, that that’s the one wrong thing she’s doing.
She thinks it strips your hands of their natural oils and things. I never met someone like her and when Ian brought her home, I could tell from our very first exchange that she was different. She looked like a beautiful alien: large eyes, white blonde hair. I wanted to smack her in the forehead just to see what a pretty thing like that would look like when she cried.
Ian told me she was a true angel. Well, in my humble opinion, I never met an angel who’s so clearly without the luck of God.
Every time she moves she winces, trying to stifle the moans. Her body aches, I can hear her trough the vent. Was hoping Ian would convince her to take some cough medicine or a Tylenol, but she’s pretty persistent on only putting natural things into her system.
Jackie’s nice enough, don’t get me wrong, just a little misguided, I think. She could afford to supplement some of her wacky ideas for a spoon of Buckley’s.
Monday, December 24, 2012
a line from a Christmas Card
“Don’t forget to leave out the cookies for Santa!” He said, tilting his head a bit to the left, as he always does when making a firm point. He must’ve learned it from his father. I don’t do that sort of thing. “And milk!” He adds, almost shouting. He’s on his way up the stairs to brush his teeth. “And Mom!” I can tell that he’s already got his toothbrush in his mouth, “a carrot for Vixen!” He doesn’t care for Rudolph, as most four year old boys do. He’s all about Vixen. He’s drawn this reindeer from every angle and given him a bright blue nose. “Vixen thinks that board games are dumb,” he says, rolling his dark eyes. “Or does Charlie think that?” I ask, smiling. When I tuck him into bed he asks what time his Dad will be coming over tomorrow. “He’ll bring you to Sarnia at three,” I say, for the fourteenth time. “And will I have a stocking there, too?” He asks. “I don’t know, baby,” I say, tucking in the douvet at the foot of his rocket ship bed.