parkdale writes-the annex session one

one week ago, a trio of us met in an apartment crammed to the gills with kitschy props. we’re talking hundreds of lamps, clocks, salt and pepper shakers, ceramics, and not one but two framed photos of the same elderly pomeranian.

we had some lovely homemade quiche, mint tea, and snuggled into our own couches to free write and each threw in two words to make faux sestinas.

(lindsay, if you’re reading i did not contribute a single strange word this time!)

they’re not amazing, but here they are:

icy moors
floating bergs
ships poised
latent cracks
ferocious waves
steely submission

ferocious minds
poised to attack
latent misogyny
floating in thick air
icy tones
steely glares

all clouds don’t float
steely air freezes frames
latent moisture lurkes
poised to become
ferocious wind
forcing icy tears

steely dan
latent alcoholism
generations ferocious
icy mugs
floating dreams
unsteadily poised

steely submission
latent hate
poised resistance
floating future
icy intent
ferocious revenge

when i read that last one, our house raised both fists and yelled “WHOO HOO! WOMEN FIGHT BACK!” and it’s always great when people get your fumbling poetry.

our next date is set and i’m looking forward to all the group writings that 2018 will offer.


“new ideas need old buildings”-tile at dufferin station

i’ve already been reprimanded this week for spoiling the nba playoffs, so let me not do this to a woman’s show.

but belladonna the blest or dm st. bernard‘s sound of the beast is everything, and then eleven more everythings. do yourself a favour and go see it. please. if one of the city’s finest (the finest imo) poets can roll through (and i think he even bought a ticket because he’s not a personal friend of the inspiration’s), you can too.

ok-psa over, do what you want.

i’ve been feeling the feels since i was in montreal for a week and a half, doing everything and nothing, and with the birth of babies all around and work never ending (and still not beginning), i know it’s not an accident that i ended up in the same room as these two that i run into so randomly it’s become specific. the fact that there was a stage and words and so many ideas layered and folded into ideas that if a mille-feuille crepe cake could be a thing that could be witnessed and absorbed and spoken and felt, this would be that thing.

i’m largely not a fan of the tiles at dufferin station, especially of the two that are close together near the main entrance, one reading “blah blah blah new immigrants” and the other “occasion to turn around”, like wtf?! but i never noticed this one before, or perhaps due to its proximity to the aforementioned as well as the “lemonade living” (and i paraphrase all these tiles, except for the one that i board the train at every day on my way to work which reads “something happens here”, because, well, who has time to footnote tiles, or remember them properly and such?) i’m too busy getting to the punchline of 3/5s when it’s so meta and brilliant, when accountability happens and its calling for is further justified when the perpetrator responds by throwing her kids under the bus. when a discussion about whose lives matter is brought about without the use of those slogans so familiar that have lost their lustre, but is named nonetheless, and stories are woven so beautifully that you forget for a moment that they’re tragic but flower petals are still gentle, whether or not they’re unbreakable, and you decide, we decide-but things are complicated, and we do what we can….

(i’m writing a new piece called “poets talk in circles”….but then again, that’s been the ongoing story of life itself)

place is a thing. theatre passe-muraille is a place. it’s been one of the most reliable places that i have crossed paths with dmsb over the years, and toronto is a place-also one of the most reliable locales. it’s an old building that’s housed almost 50 seasons of new ideas, and even though it’s been fixed, i still just can’t push that door…and i’m glad that i didn’t stay away when the latest ad joined-even when she was the first person to fire me from a job at a little theatre that we both worked at in mtl-what are the chances, right?

but there are no accidents, and (the) space (between our ears) is the real place.

we gotta work on that time-bending piece, but then again-we’ve been working on that project our whole lives.

this is why i scheduled a volunteer shift on my first day back to work after a long vacation of doing everything and nothing, horny as hell but great-full for the life choices i’ve made not to have kids and a dog (though i really, really love dogs and kids). it’s nice to be able to walk in and out of that for a week, because if it was real life, i woulda had to work all day and then go home to single-mother kids and a dog.

this is why.

i live for this and i am ever great-full to this woman for reminding me to do it by doing it.

shoutout to maddie bautista-we may have only met tonight (in this life) but it’s far from over.

fresh kills

the buddhist monk asked me, “what are you doing? killing?”

i can’t lie to anyone, let alone a buddhist monk, so i sighed, looked him straight in the eye and owned up to my actions, “yea. i am killing.”

“that’s not very nice.”

and then he went on to make a strangling motion and talk about how he saw the suffering in the eyes of animals and we spoke brokenly about compassion and cigarettes that i mistook as clove.

why was i killing? (with great energy and precision, it should be noted). i was killing because i was frustrated and tired and premenstrual and hangry. i wasn’t feeling particularly great-full, and was on the verge of tears (and full out crying) all dang day. i was killing because i was feeling powerless, and projecting all of these feelings into a deft swatting arm.

i was killing because flies are vermin, and it is satisfying to end a problem (real or perceived). and because they are as plentiful as all of the not-so-easily resolved “problems”, you can get caught up in a killing trance. stay in that mesmerizingly distracting sense of accomplishment.

amanda started not to wipe the blade, and i followed suit. i killed recklessly and left the bodies, broken and bloodied and made macabre jokes about aging out the job of child soldier, but being qualified to train them. i started talking to the flies as if they were my trainees. skipping the three step training module and going straight to the double reward of extra shit if they slaughtered their families. (the flies are smaller this year than they have been in previous years).

today was the first day that i embraced the plastic fly swatter. i usually favour a towel for its quick whip and large surface area. i reflected on my best kill when i caught a pair off guard-during coitus interruptus. except i was the interrupter. aw, yea. did i ever interrupt her. and him. or him and him. or them and them. however the fuck flies fuck-i don’t really give a fuck. i just wanna fuckin’ hate. (tell me who you want to fuck and hate).

apparently-i am capable of total and complete fly murder.

but i can laugh at myself. when i relayed this story to my colleagues, i was asked:

“do you know why that monk is here?”

i guessed, “because he was thrown out of the monkery?”

“no-his last job was at the chicken slaughterhouse, and he couldn’t handle the killing.”

that explains the strangling motions.

you know what compassion is? compassion is shaming someone without shaming her at all.

compassion is holding up a mirror so the killer can shame/hang herself.

why do they call it “killing” when you do something well? when you rock the flyest outfit or do the best standup set?

why are we so focused on “slaying” and being the only one? we can’t count it as an accomplishment unless we eliminate all of the “competition”.

why don’t we talk about how lonely it is to kill everyone around you? why do we act like there’s no room for all of us when there absolutely is?

why do we get so stressed out when we’re not killing that we settle for walking dead?

corey booker said on the philly free library podcast tonight (to me), “you can’t be a great lover without knowing immense heartbreak”.

it’s easier to kill (and die) than it is to live, and that’s what we do when we give up.

but we (the royal) do not give up.

tomorrow will come and bring forth new opportunities to keep living and helping others keep living.

with all the gratitude for the spirits, earthbodied and otherwise, i give thanks for the library book that i did not lose after all, this buddhist monk, a well-stashed tandoori chicken naan, palo santo, that visioning exercise, and my homegirls who are already holding space for me on that boat spa.

i promise not to kill any more, or not exhibit any more “virgo misery”, at least until my birth day.

she wrote it

“if you’re willing to hear things as poetry, you will”

“to draw the demons, let them die”

“sadness finds solace”

i first heard about this series four weeks ago-my dear friend meghan morrison sent it my way, but i couldn’t make it then. two weeks ago though, it was a different story. tucked away on the second floor of a cozy yet haunted bar in the annex, some lovely women gathered to write, and welcomed me among their ranks.

it was intimate, beauty-full, casual and non-pretentious. there were varied (yet set) prompts and little bursts of time to write to them and share. it was pouring rain outside, and it was the perfect soundtrack. magically, all (weatherly) precipitation stopped when we wrapped our last exercise.

here are some of my personal gems created that evening:

word bank poem:

everyday conversation
bake crispy
naturally switch
relaxing sometimes
alone again
here ourselves
begin cheese
entertainment finally

from our group “dip”:

what’s the matter with living in the past?
those who forget history are doomed to repeat it
though i guess so are those who remember-shit.

from our solo “dip”:

time is an elastic band-we stretch it as far as it can go, and try not to let it catch our fingers when it snaps back

womens-the group reconvenes this evening at 6pm at the central (603 markham st)-i hope to see you there.

stickboy-a novel in verse by shane l. koyczan

“She told me that fantasies are appealing
because we can’t see past them.
That when we are in the midst of a fantasy
we are like horses with blinders on
that narrows our vision,
and never allow us to see the true shape
of what our actions entail.” (88)

i had to read this one quickly because it was overdue. i borrowed it weeks ago when i was researching for the poetry prompt that we were asked to prep for. i went to the reference library to look through their permanent copy of visiting hours , but couldn’t walk away with anything that was as moving as mister koyczan‘s live performance-though i can’t seem to find the one that got me all those years ago on a cube in the front row of a lost tribes of the sun show in gastown when he made my heart melt with his pause, “scribble”. little did i know, this was under my nose the whole time-perhaps i was dissuaded by the label “novel”. i like this one a lot more than anthology of red, though i’m still not sure if there’s a formula to this classification (there probably is). bigups to marissa stapley for her well-attended and well-appointed book launch for mating for life-and the turtles. thanks to the turtles.

poem from the last session

“do you know his real name? it’s christian book, but he changed it to christian bok so that people wouldn’t refer to him as the bible.”

huh. i love it when you share the brilliance with poets and people bring it right back. shouts to david for bringing him back into our workshop and gave us the prompt to start a piece with “what.” which is like the janet. album, which is supposed to be read “janet period” and not just “janet”. the idea is to work with “what.” and not “what?” or “what!”. here’s what i got:

what a cantaloupe does in its free time
is its own business
what phosphorus persists is seldom
what a marksman shoots at is rare to visit.

what xylophones are here to resist is
what brie is to a pear
what a pomeranian must beware is
what is lurking beneath the shadows
of what his caretaker is aware of

what pens ink in notebooks-
what secrets are under the stairs-
what lies dormant in the dermis that shows
when we are clothed
exposed to the yearning-
what the arrows are burning
beneath seven chairs to the left of Sterling

christian bok vs. pam rehm

we worked with a poetry mashup prompt last night, and i had to share this one.

thank you to christian bok and pam rehm for writing such beauty-full pieces that i used as raw materials.*

if endear is earned
writing is inhibiting
and meant to identify
scribbling in ink
two halves in nihilistic witticism
compose impish hijinks-
one meaning of childish insights
within rigid limits
which means instilling
priggish misgivings-
a token of critics blind with hindsight
a knot i dismiss
a note of nitpicking
criticism which flirts
with a noting in the head of griping dimwits
how it feels to be sniping
whilst indicting nitwits
to have your heart dismiss
simplistic thinking
and be the dear one
who is still illicit.*

*remix of acts of love and chapter i

i got an idea out of this exercise, and i’ll be tapping some of y’all to execute it with me. until soon.