Tuesday April 11, 2017
Microphone Lessons For Poets
do not make any sudden movements
do not move your head or your eyes
do not express an opinion
do not engage outside of your peripheral vision
if you need to practice how to be still
how to feel less
then please do so
practice being unmoved by beauty
practice being unphased by magic
practice being unchanged by other human instances
do not be dynamic
do not vibrate too quickly
do not let them see you in motion
do not say anything
do not know anything
do not let your thoughts require air
do not beg the wind to carry you
do not write a poem
do not need to speak it
Tuesday April 4, 2017
from The YouTube video Joe is watching
HashBrown slurps chocolate milk up through a licorice straw and refuses to make eye contact with me
I stand there with my hands on my hips like my mama taught me
I say “I’ll wait” like my mama showed me how
“I’ll wait” means You Can’t Hide From Me
Means Don’t Think I Don’t See You Avoiding Your Responsability About This
means I’m Older Than You In This Moment With Your Sleeves
Pulled Down Over Your Hands
Saturday April 1, 2017
Hold Me Tight
Dr. Sue Johnson
when she calls me
at night it makes my heart shake
i answer quickly
in case someone is dying
in case it’s all of us
in case it’s her
she doesn’t want to bother me
“mom, please call me whenever you want to. i don’t want to always be the one to call you.”
she tells me she knows and that’s what she’s doing- getting better at reaching me when she remembers how far away i am
she says maybe now she needs to get better at timing things
“No, you asked what i was doing and i answered ‘discussing dinner’ because that’s what i was doing. if i couldn’t answer i wouldn’t answer. please always always call me.”
right before she ‘lets me go’ she tells me her good news
and my heart shakes
Monday June 6, 2016 at Starbucks
Poetry Is Dead Magazine
Issue 01 Volume 05
There wasn’t a whole lot of proof that Ingrid and Raymond were meant for each other.
Ingrid preferred to eat outside, Raymond preferred to eat in.
Ingrid wanted to visit the kids in Vermont, Raymond wanted them to come to the cottage.
Ingrid told Raymond once that she didn’t have any idea how two people who loved each other as much as they did could disagree as much as they did. Raymond told Ingrid once that the only reason why they didn’t see eye to eye was because they were meant to be teaching each other.
Ingrid liked to write letters by hand and send them in the mail. When the two of them were young, Raymond worked overseas for two years and Ingrid asked if he would write to her.
Raymond didn’t like to write much; his penmanship was hard to read and that frustrated him. He told Ingrid that even if he didn’t send her a letter he would send her something and not to worry.
Friday, April 1, 2016
Overheard at Kits Beach
Connie has her overnight bag packed. She laughs every time she thinks of Alison calling it her “satchel”. Alison’s mom always teaches her to use the correct word for things, which is good because Connie can learn from that too. She thinks about her own mother falling asleep with a cigarette in her mouth while watching Wheel of Fortune every night after work. Once she solved a puzzle with only two letters revealed and Connie thought she was faking. She never hears words like “satchel” or “rotunda” or “enigmatic” so Connie didn’t think her mom was even fully watching her word shows. Connie goes into the living room to kiss her mother goodbye. She’s already asleep. Connie covers her in the red afghan and turns off the TV.
Friday, March 25, 2016
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.
Wednesday January 27, 2016 at 49th Parallel
The Artist’s Way
You have this scratch attack down your back
Spine tingling mind ringing
It’s running deep
Like a scar
Chopped off finger
Sewn on crooked
Traumatized there after
I am swooping deep inside myself
Seeing inside myself
Healing inside myself
I don’t have room to take you with me
So when you feel it
You can recognize the shape
The shape of this madness
It’s itchy, attention licking
It’s unending, epiphany pending
If it’s new
Then it’s hard
And you will want nothing of this thing
I ask that you try
Just in case it gets better soon
Just in case it’s better than not having it
Experience will shape this
I am thinking of you
When I slide down further in
I take you with me
So I can keep an eye on you
Smile when I’m able
So you know you’re not alone
So you know you’re not forgotten
Sunday January 24, 2016
from the front of a flyer
I heard on the news today that two more kids were shot in their front yard.
They were selling lemonade.
I don’t know how I’m supposed to wake up every morning, drink my coffee, put on my suit, go into schools and teach young people how to measure the angles of an isosceles triangle, or that just because our country allows people to carry firearms that it doesn’t make it okay to use them, or that these two smiling babies were still warm from their mother’s womb, being watched from the kitchen window by that same love–looking down for just one second to pull a splinter out of her thumb.
I don’t know how any of us do it. Keep living on repeat like we don’t see what’s happening in our world, right outside our houses, hitting closer and closer to home each time. I don’t know how any of us leave the safety of our sheets each and every day and find a new version of brave to wear for the day.
Saturday,January 23, 2016
a Facebook Post
I’m teaching my kid about privacy. Started with me locking my bedroom door because she wasn’t aware that there were any differences between my space and hers.
It’s heartbreaking. It doesn’t feel good to hear her scratch at the door and blame herself for being locked out. I think it’s a good lesson, I guess. Or I thought it was. I don’t know what it means except that I’m illustrating how my kid needs to ask for permission to exist….
I don’t want my kid to think she needs to ask someone else before she can do what she wants. Not that she should always get to do what she wants..Or should she? I don’t know what I’m supposed to be teaching her. Is she going to grow up thinking there were no doors open to her when she was just being herself? Is she going to think that I am only available for her when I decide, and not when she needs? Is that a good thing? Independence or something…I don’t know now. Maybe my kid is teaching me about understanding. Maybe she’s teaching me to stop looking for structures to follow. Maybe she’s teaching me to trust myself.
Sunday, October 25, 2015 at the Writer’s Fest Volunteer Lounge
from a write up about Rich Shapero
The valet parked my car this morning and made me wish I had walked. Maybe that will be the last time.Lately I’ve been uncomfortable with paying someone to do something that I can do myself. I was brought up differently. My father lived for the royalty of things. Every special occasion was catered exquisitely. The tables were always covered in silks and golds and exotic fruit and cheese. My father was a simple man, but he loved abundance. I learned from him that if it’s between time or money, to choose time. He used to tell me that my time was worth a thousandfold the amount I would have to pay for it. I never really saw what he meant because we often payed someone else, and as a result were not only abundant in lavishness, but in dispensable time. I never had to want more time. I didn’t know how to appreciate it when I was young, even though he was trying to show me. When he died I noticed myself living like him more and more. I’d pay for private massages, for dinners to be delivered, for my laundry to be folded.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
from the coconut oil jar
Mama sticks her finger into the jar and pulls out white silk that turns her skin glossy.
Doesn’t that smell like heaven? She hums, lifting her hand to my nose.
I nod my head. I want to eat the melting silk off of mama’s warm forefinger. She smiles at me, glad that I like what she likes. She dabs both of my cheeks with it and rubs it in. Feels nice, doesn’t it? I nod again, this time voraciously.
I want mama to let me bathe in this stuff. I want mama to let me alone with it so I can put it everywhere.
This is what you use for baking and cooking, she tells me, grabbing a spoon out of the drawer. She hands it to me. But it’s good for anything you can think of. She winks. I smile. I feel lucky to be let in to this place. She has given me her secret to the universe.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
from the Canada Arts Council Application Guidelines
I walk up and down the aisles in my classroom. There are two. I stop at my desk and take a sip of green tea. Kathy said I had to quit coffee if I wanted to live past seventy, so I did. Green tea. It’s good for you and you basically get the same buzz. I see Leanne cheating. I get a knot in my gut the size of a cantaloupe. Shit shit shit shit shit. I pretend to turn away and pray that none of the other kids notice. I know that her Dad just got out of jail and her mother’s probably still fucking Jeremy Santana. I feel so bad for her. Leanne. Beautiful Leanne.
Thursday March 5, 2015
The Fig Tree
“I’m ready for something bigger.” I took a deep gulp of air and I said that to myself. I did. I was, in that moment, feeling very existential. I wanted to know things about myself. I realized I wanted to enjoy my own abilities instead of waiting, forever waiting, for someone else to tell me that they enjoy them. “How is that living?” I exhaled and I said that to myself. “How is it?” If I might, I’d like to paint the scene for you so perhaps you’d see how silly it is too.
You wake up, you dread enjoying your own gifts because you’re afraid someone else might disagree with you or have an opinion about what you’ve made. You make a bowl of quick oats and banana, and you tell yourself internally how bad you are for wanting to spend time doing the things that bring you joy and amusement and pleasure. You clean the dishes and you imagine a world where there is applause for you, but you see it as its own entity and not attached to the doing. Then you put on your jeans and you notice that you don’t ever see the part where you’re actually enjoying your own ability. You can’t envision the perfect happiness that comes from simply doing that thing, and you can’t fathom for even a split second what the feeling of truly expressing and connecting would mean for you.
So you throw on your winter scarf and head out of the house to once again avoid doing what you know your heart bleeds for.
Bizarre, isn’t it?
Saturday February 28, 2015
overheard at Amanda’s house
I begged Birdie to let me have a look but she told me I was being impatient and to show some courtesy. When I asked her what courtesy meant she shushed me so fast it sounded like a bullet was zooming right past my face. It was my idea in the first place to “borrow” uncle Ray’s ladder and creep up the side of the fence. Birdie didn’t trust me with being the first set of eyes on Old Annabel Winkler because she was convinced I wouldn’t be able to
control my laughter and I’d give away our hiding spot in seconds. Then she got up there and all she was saying was “ooh” “woah” “oh my gosh” and “no way!”
Wednesday January 21, 2015
from a e-mail from Twitter
Don’t be scared of putting your best foot forward. Now I know you’re one of those people who blame fear of success, of actually getting what you want, for not being productive, proactive, brave. I have to tell you that because I don’t want you to think that I don’t know that it’s a real thing people do or that it’s common.
I know all about that stuff, and there’s no judgment here. I’m just letting you know that if you have the ability, that’s half the battle. I mean, sometimes people want to excel in areas where they don’t have any knowledge. You. You at least have some capabilities so you’re ahead of the game in the sense that no one has to teach you those things. The thing I will teach you, though, is how to love yourself and how to stop believing that fear is a suitable excuse.
Saturday April 12, 2014
A can of Magners
When he makes his way back into the classroom, the letter “F” has fallen from the felted alphabet that’s pinned up above the blackboard. He wonders if its a sign. “F” for “Failure”. “F” for “Fucked”.
He hadn’t meant to do it. But he had. The rumours circled faster than vultures to a dead deer.
“He’s a fat fag! Look at that fat faggy nasty ass face!” He’d walked in, just before Jay punched Alfonso in the nose. More blood. More broken. He’d seen it since September, one thirteen-year-old picking on the other, bullying the other, rallying the other eighth graders with the power of an army general. He’d been patient. He’d dutifully given detentions and sent home notes. He’d even called in Jay’s father for a meeting. He’d been stood up.
He moved faster than he knew he could. He pulled one boy off of the other, face covered in tears and snot. He threw all one hundred and three pounds of Jay Eiserman up against the wall. The inspirational quote calendar fell to the floor. “You lay a hand on Alfonso again, you little shit, and I’m gonna kill you.” Jay dropped to the floor, rage shooting from his eyes. He ran to the Principle.
Monday March 31, 2014
the hotel shampoo bottle
I was born here, wishing that I wasn’t, cause, when I was young everything was better when it wasn’t, when I wasn’t, when it just wasn’t. Hoped for the things I didn’t even know were things, but wanted them just cause I wanted them, just cause I didn’t have them, and that somehow made it better. I wanted what I didn’t know. Cause I didn’t have to milk any cows growing up, didn’t have to stay up late watching any infants while mom passed out on the couch watching TV instead, didn’t have to run from my parents after the age of 6 cause they weren’t chasing me anymore, they weren’t out to get me. They were never out to get me. But when I was good and young, I thought everybody was. Didn’t trust the people I should have trusted most. Thought maybe it came from reading, maybe it came from the teachers who shouldn’t have been teachers, who didn’t like kids and so didn’t like teaching kids things teachers should like teaching. But I wanted those things too. Wanted someone to see my stories and tell me they would be great some day. Wanted someone to tell me I’d grow into my face and not to listen to those other kids who had parents who didn’t want to be parents who were teaching them things they shouldn’t be teaching cause they weren’t teachers or the kind of people who could be.
Friday March 14, 2014
Nelu’s Birthday Card
When I welcome baby Preston I will tell him, “you’re little and I’m big, so that makes me the boss of you!” He will laugh at all my jokes and tell me I’m his favourite sister with his eyes, and we’ll both giggle cause I’m his only sister! I will take him for walks and introduce him to Mr. Andrews who rakes our lawn, and Mrs. Edwards who helps us cross the street with her bright yellow vest. Then when the grass is dry, I will take him to the park and show him what the sun really looks like! I will feed him chunks of bread dipped in Cheese Wiz, and he will make sure the flies don’t land on our stuff by drooling everywhere! I know baby Preston will drool because my Mommy told me so! She said, “He will drool as much as you did,” and I drooled a lot! Baby Preston is supposed to come from Mommy’s tummy in exactly one week from right now. If he doesn’t show up at 2:22 PM, he will be late for his first big appointment. I will teach him how to always be on time and run when Mommy or Daddy calls him. Sometimes you think you’re already running very fast, but I will show him that he should always run fastest before dinner.
Thursday February 20, 2014
Amanda taught Julia how to read, how to blow bubbles with her gum, how to play games on the Compquest plus, how to tie her hair back in a long ponytail so it wouldn’t get in the way while swimming. She held her hand when they crossed the road and taught Julia to wait until all the cara had passed and after the magic song was finished. Amanda taught Julia the magic song: Never run across the street, it’s the safety of the beat! Julia loved to sing it any time of the day and Amanda liked to remind Julia not to sing it unless there was a road that needed crossing. Amanda didn’t want Julia to fall behind in school, so she taught her how to listen, how to strive for good grades, how to do word problems in math class. She taught her how to kiss a boy, how to trust her instincts, and how to wear her high school uniform so people wouldn’t make fun of her. Amanda taught Julia how to look at the world with a kindness that she would never ever forget.
Monday January 27, 2014
The Grid Toronto, January 23-30, 2014
If you were to teach me how to knit, you might realize that I have the patience of a toddler. You wouldn’t be as impressed as you are by the words I know. I would drop stitches and curse in ways you thought only truck drivers and prostitutes knew how. You and I, feet tucked under our bottoms, cradled by the couches soft cushions, the hum of the radiator coo-ing us towards stillness, knitting needles clinking together, our balls of wool somehow, magically, not becoming tangled together. When I finally have something to call something, a tiny square without too many holes, you look exceptionally proud. I say, “it’s so slow!” You say, “that’s the point.”
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Edgar Allan poe
if you thought you couldn’t find your way, you might have convinced yourself to never look, to never learn to read a compass.
you instead know two things about yourself: one, the only time you ever cry is when you have been made to feel embarrassed, and two, the first thing that pops into your head always makes you laugh. you don’t necessarily feel like you’re capable of being anything but those two things, and even when you can sense the self-deprecation in your own inadequacy, you somehow can’t quite get over that it’s absolutely true. now someone told you once that you were fine just the way you were and if people didn’t see that then it was their problem. but one of them had someone tell them that they were fine just the way they were, and then shitty just becomes relative. good becomes relative. and you are lower than your potential because you believed it when you heard it, and you didn’t know how to change it.