“On the dank and dirty ground.” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday March 10, 2020
5 minutes
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare

On the dank and dirty ground, you see a shiny penny. You pick it up. You turn it over and over in your hand. You’ve heard stories about these copper discs, how they were once used to buy things like candy and newspapers. Your father was once standing on a crowded subway platform and he looked up, smiling, thinking of a funny video he’d seen earlier that day, shared with him by you, of all people, and someone else on that crowded subway platform had decided to throw a penny in the air, and it hit your father right on his left front tooth and that tooth chipped, the small bony piece flying up and then down, never to be seen again. You love your father’s strange tooth, now mended, but the shadow of the crack visible in bright light.

“Subway platform walls” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday June 6, 2018
5 minutes
People Revolution
Amani Bin Shinkansen 

So much of this now
maybe someone will listen
Someone big and someone powerful and
someone who can do something
I recognize how that sounds
I recognize how that might sound

When the subway pulled
into the station
everything went black
Someone gasped
Someone said,
“Shit, now I’m going to be late”
Someone said,
“Another fucking jumper”

The ground knows how they feel
The ground can’t jump
I’m sorry if this is morbid
and you were hoping for something
Loving today
These five minutes are for
the grief and the someday somewhere
Maybe it will all get better

“Subway platform walls” by Julia on the 84

Wednesday June 6, 2018
5 minutes
People Revolution
Amani Bin Shinkansen 

I miss a city that knows how to be a city
I think about subway platforms and rats and random conversations with a stranger at the laundromat

I want a city that doesn’t stop living when the snow hits
When the festival is over
I want a city that knows how to make things
Reaches into its pockets and turns lint into lightening, paints the sky magic

I miss a city that celebrates life in the streets with food and music and dancing

I need a city that doesn’t have any height restrictions
If I am going to fling myself off of a building, then let it be a big one

I want the me I am when summer kisses city on the sweaty mouth
I want to kiss it on the mouth

“I tried to do it years ago” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday May 3, 2017
5 minutes
Devices on Standby
Kelly Ann Malone

Silas spits out my nipple like a cherry pit and it’s left hanging out, that awkward cousin no one really likes who is still invited to sedar. The subway lurches to a stop and the woman sitting across from us smiles, a condescending situation of worry and furrow. A punk listening to ridiculously loud music (you only get one set of eardrums, my tattooed friend) pretends a breast is not there, beside him. Maybe he doesn’t notice. Maybe he’s over that shit. Bless him. Silas starts to mew. Sometimes I wonder if he’s part squirrel. Or rabbit.

“round their throats” by Julia in her bed

Friday, March 25, 2016
5 minutes
From lyrics in a song

i remember my father teaching me how to tie a tie. he told me it would be good for me to know.
i remember telling my father i didn’t plan to ever wear a tie. i told him that i would prefer to learn how to plant things and build my own garden. he told me that someday, even if i didn’t wear the tie myself, i could help someone out who needed to but didn’t know how. i asked him again about the garden. he told me that if i learned how to tie a tie he would teach me about herbs and tomatoes and hot peppers and garlic. i asked him who would need to tie a tie. he said anyone could need to know. i asked him if he ever had to tie a tie for someone. he told me that he was once that person in need. he told me that he had a job interview, two weeks after landing in PEI. he told me how he met a woman on the subway who took him aside and showed him how to do it properly because he had done it wrong. he told me he barely spoke English but that day he realized how important gesture is. he told me that it’s better to know as much as possible in case one day someone needs to be taught but is too afraid to ask.

“you can work on in your backyard” by Julia at her dining table

Wednesday March 23, 2016
5 minutes

Mom calls me from the subway and her phone keeps cutting out because she’s standing on the steps half deciding whether or not to hang up or go and catch her damn train. She calls me back every time and I can’t get any work done or any listening done because we manage to sneak in one or two conjunctions and then there’s static. She’s scared of going to the doctor because she’s convinced they’re going to tell her she’s dying. She’s afraid of cancer. She has no visible symptoms. She is just afraid so she made the appointment. She’s not saying any of this. She’s talking about aunt Rene’s cockatiel and how the Chinese garlic situation has fucked with her tomato sauce. I want to tell her to go and to listen to them tell her that she’s fine but I can’t actually promise anything of the sort. I picture her attached to the subway stairs for hours, clinging in between the knowing and the unknowing of every single thing on this planet. I picture how she feels when she decides the reason she can’t get herself to go is because her only kid is too busy not reading in between her lines to go and be there for her. I put on my shoes.

“train service is suspended” by Julia in her backyard

Friday June 6, 2014
5 minutes
A tweet by the TTC

When you have to be somewhere at a certain time and you’re already running late, it’s better always, always, always, to take a cab, stress it out in the backseat for a few minutes, then text whoever you’re supposed to meet and say “In a cab, so sorry” so they know that you are trying your best to be on time, you’re even paying real money to arrive as close to on time as possible, and that you feel bad about making them wait for you so you’re enduring the traffic stress of being in a cab in the first place to make up for it. Do not take the subway because subways have delays and trains get so busy because there aren’t enough to get everyone from point a to point b during the time you need. Do not take the streetcar because you probably won’t be able to sit and then you have to smell everyone’s hair and armpits while people crowd around you, yelling, or pre-drinking, or baby talking. Do not walk and think that when it gets down to crunch time you can just run and beat both the subway and the streetcar. You will get sweaty and you will get tired and you will think you can run all the way but you cannot because you decided that working out was a “rich man’s game” and that you’d much rather eat the whole box of Passion Flakies for breakfast instead of just one or two or none.

“your grief for what you’ve lost” by Sasha on her couch

Friday March 21, 2014
5 minutes
Bird Wings
Mary Oliver

You’ve lost a lot of things over the course of your thirty three years. One. An apple on the subway tracks, you gasped as the train boomed into the station, imagining your apple, your perfect, red, Gala apple, becoming pulp under the pressure. Two. You sanity, at the hands of a red-headed woman who claimed to be the mother of his child, your husband’s child (well, okay, you weren’t actually married but you might as well have been), who came with a photograph and a baby book and claims of rights and asthma and child support. Three. Your keys, you were drunk and you were dancing and you put your black bag, small, so small you could tuck it under your arm or hold it in your hand, you put that black bag on the back of the toilet seat when you went to pee and then you stood up and forgot to flush (guilty as charged, every time) and then forgot to see it sitting there, waiting patiently on the dirty porcelain. Four. You dignity, when you cheated on the Biology exam in your second year of University. You were caught. You took a leave. And then returned when you were well-rested, well-travelled, well-aged.

“kind of contrary” by Julia on her couch

Sunday January 26, 2014
5 minutes
NOW magazine
January 23-29 2014

Didn't want to ask her to move her American Eagle purchases off the seat just so I could sit down. Didn't want to inconvenience her and leave her to hold her plastic shopping bag on her lap. I was trying to be nice so I hovered directly over her head and made sure to breath heavily into her general living space. She didn't look up but she did clench her bag tighter. I wasn't planning to take her shitty cable knit sweaters and sparkly tights but I was attempting to throw down some life lessons pretty fast and hard on her hat hoping she'd absorb mighty quickly that the subway seats were just not designed to house inanimate objects–no matter how much you value those over real human beings with potentially long day jobs on their feet, or a bullet wound in the leg.

“Negotiate with agents” by Sasha at CSI Coffee Pub

Friday, October 4, 2013 at CSI Coffee Pub
5 minutes
What Is Dramaturgy
Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas

A: You’ve got a wish on your cheek…
B: Pardon?
A: (clears throat) You’ve got a wish on your cheek.
B: Excuse me?
A licks a pointer finger and presses it to B’s cheek. He shows her the eyelash.
B: Oh! Ha ha ha –
A: Should you use this on or should I?
B: Knock yourself out.
A closes his eyes and wishes hard. He opens his eyes and blows on his finger. The eyelash remains.
A: (under his breath) Shoot.
B: Are you finished with that newspaper?
A: Yeah, I guess so…
B: I just want to read my horoscope, you can have it back when I’m done.
A hands B the newspaper. B flips to the page with Astrology and reads.
A: I’m Capricorn…
B looks up.
A: … if you’d like to read mine. After yours of course.
B: “You will meet a beautiful stranger. Your life will never be the same.”
A: (laughs) Seriously?
B: (standing up as the subway door chimes) Oh yeah.
A: Well, you can’t just –
The subway door chimes again. B exits.

“working relationships” by Sasha at her desk

Monday, September 2, 2013
5 minutes
The Playwright At Work
Rosemarie Tichler and Barry Jay Kaplan

Woman on the subway. Smells like four ninety nine perfume and farts. Sits down right beside you. On one of those three seaters. Plenty of other seats around. Sits right there. You see her big ass lowering, in tight. It squeezes in beside you, because there’s one of those holding poles on the other side. One of those poles with all the fingerprints. You’re squished right up. Long sigh. Look across. Across there’s three teenage boys. Must be fifteen. No. Fourteen. Fourteen for sure. One has a shrunken head. You know those shrunken head people? He’s goddamn good-looking. He’s gorgeous. He looks like he just feel out of God’s pocket. The boys sit down. You can’t stop staring at Shrunken. You hope no one notices. You hope no one thinks you’re thinking anything other than “Holy shit, you’re beautiful”. One of the other boys, the one with a shaved head, takes an eraser out of his pocket and starts going at the scuffs on his shoes. White running shoes. Nikes. You start looking at all the shoes, all the shoes around – Woman’s, Shrunken’s, the Doddle-face, and the Carrot Kid. All the shoes. Some dirty. Some clean. Some in between.

“He wants me out.” By Sasha on her couch

Friday, August 30, 2013
5 minutes
A Lie of The Mind
Sam Shepard

When I laughed, when you were angry, because sometimes that’s all there is to do when blind rage is shaking it’s cheeks at you, I knew that it was probably the end. But I was wrong. It was the night you asked me to move into your place, your second-floor apartment above the Portuguese hair salon, with the squeaky radiators and the sound of the streetcar going by at all hours. I said “no way in hell!” to begin with… And then changed my mind, when I was on the subway home. It was something about the danger of your honesty, the crash-ability of our ideas. I called you from my bed, the futon from college, and woke you, but you didn’t care. “I change my mind,” I said and you knew what I was talking about. You laughed. You said, “Okay… So… September first?”

“viciously funny” by Sasha at R Squared

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at R Squared
5 minutes
from the SummerWorks Performance Festival guide

They are eating chips for breakfast. They have freshly washed hair and are wearing variations of the same khaki shorts – hers are lighter in colour, his are longer in length. She has sunglasses on top of her head. When she puts them on, they’ll be smudged. He holds a brown manila envelope. She sits. He stands. They feed each other chips. I’m not the only one watching when she sucks his finger and he blushes. The enormously tall man sitting beside me, wedged in, really, he’s also looking. He is not charmed, like I am, thinking back to myself at twenty, thinking back to the firsts. Enormous Man has downturned lips and a deep wrinkle in his forehead. He gets off the train. Boyfriend kisses Girlfriend with salty lips.

“STOP HERE” by Sasha at Rena and Tahir’s

Sunday, July 21, 2013
5 minutes
from a traffic sign in Mississauga

She’s wearing a World Series sweatshirt and cut-offs and I don’t know how, but she manages to make it look like couture. She’s wearing dark red lipstick. That’s why. Lipstick makes it different, makes it sparkle, makes it bomb, but I mean “bomb” as in “exploding light”, in a good way. I glance down at her belly and I realize that she’s preggers, but must only be three or four months along. That is why her skin is so luminous. It makes my womb ache, just to steal glances at her, to taste the sweetness of the dew on her cheek. I’m so attracted to her I could almost call myself a lesbian, in this quartz crystal moment. Beethoven is the soundtrack, regardless of the fact that my iPod is playing A Tribe Called Quest. I’m scared that I might start crying if she gets off the train, that my heart might break worse than when my mother told me I was an accident thanks to Tromba, worse than when my father forgot my twelfth birthday and spent the day alphabetizing his record collection.

“St. George” by Sasha on the subway going West

Sunday, March 24, 2013
5 minutes

St. George Subway

It’s a morning routine. Like orange juice. Like washing your face. We make eye contact. You – standing on the platform at St. George station. Why don’t you ever get on? Me – sitting near the window, facing forward, trying, for the millionth time, to complete a Sudoku in the free newspaper. Why don’t I learn? Today you’re carrying a little girl. She’s got pigtails. And a pink snowsuit. Is she yours? Is she borrowed? You must catch my brow (furrowed), because you smile (large) and turn the girl. You whisper something in her ear (“wave!”) and she does, like the Queen might. She’s got freckles. I smile, because really, who can resist a child with freckles? We pull out of the startion with a screech and I turn today, which I’ve never done before, watching you both wave. I think your name is probably Julian. A name I used to think I might one day name a son, but now that the great clock in the sky has decided for me that I won’t be having one of those, I’ll give you that name. It’s yours. And her name? Bridget. Yes. Absolutely.

“catch fire” by Julia on the subway going west

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
5 minutes
An ad in the subway

“Shit!” Jo shrieked. “Nobody gets to come in my room! Get it?”
She was pacing back and forth in her black room, keeping her hangnail just hanging–but barely.She had a bad habit of putting her fingers into her mouth and chewing recklessly when she was stressed out or just plain furious. Right now she was both. Her secret box looked like it had been tampered with. Not opened, luckily, as she locked the box and swallowed the key. Literally. She swallowed it. But the fact that someone was in her room maybe getting close to the contents of that box set her on fire. Her insides felt hot and flamey: all cackling and crunching. She wanted to punch a bunny rabbit in its face.
She wanted to run down a crowded street with push pins just in the hopes of scratching someone, or anyone, who got close to her.
Jo stopped pacing. She noticed the window slightly ajar. She ran to the curtains and sniffed them. “BRIANNA!” she yelled.

“catch fire” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
5 minutes
An ad in the subway

There was a great fear. There was a growing tidal wave, a waking mountaintop tip, there was a very huge fear. Sometimes, when she found herself in enclosed spaces (the subway, a tunnel connecting one underground place to another, a cave) she would try to reach out and touch the top, in order to see how far she could go upwards, if need be.

This morning, waiting for the subway (Main Street to Kipling) she had a sudden fear, a great fear, a growing tidal wave, a waking mountaintop tip that she might catch fire. She began to breathe more deeply, she tried her tricks taught to her by a medicine man she used to trust. But the fear kept growing. She stripped off her parka, sure that down feathers catch most easily and threw it down onto the tracks. The people around her snickered and stared. She wore a polyester sweater, a choice she couldn’t believe a short hour ago she thought to be a good one, a red one, even, this polyester red sweater. She quickly pulled it over her head and threw it, too, onto the tracks. She wished, momentarily, that she hadn’t worn pants that were unflattering without a shirt to hide the love-handles.