Midnight on a Tuesday

My grandma had just died.  Did I tell you that already?  That may be something you would want to know.  My grandma had just died and I had been feeling quiet lately.  Some days, you want to drink vodka and meet everyone in the bar, and other days, you want to drink tea and listen to Leonard Cohen sing.  So I left the bar early and walked home even though it was snowing.  It was snowing even though it was the end of March.  I felt cheated by that.  I was having one of those days when you feel like you deserve something really good.  Every ATM I passed I imagined might spontaneously spit twenties if I looked at it right.
I kept looking across the street, expecting to see someone I knew walking in the same direction as me.  It was Bloor Street, in between Lansdowne and Dundas West, and I imagined calling out to the person I knew on the other side of the street.  It was midnight on a Tuesday, and it would just be us and the snow coming down between us.
“Where are you going?” I would ask.
“I’m going home.”
“Me too.”
Neither of us would cross the street.  We would have our conversation double volume over cars and under bridges
“Where did you come from?”
“I had to work late.”
“Oh, I was at a bar.  I needed to leave though.”
I was a little drunk, but only because I hadn’t had dinner.
“I can feel myself dissolving.”
It would matter what we said.  It would be the saying it that mattered.  At Dundas, I would go south and my friend across the street would keep going straight.  We probably wouldn’t even say goodbye, just drift apart to be absorbed by the night.
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Sound Between Sound

We are here to hear the sounds between the sounds
We took a streetcar through a Saturday to hear
The cellist breathe and the sheet music flapping
We are in a church in a city and outside there are
Skyscrapers, and outside there is a snowstorm
And inside the piano is played so gently
We can hear the hollow tapping of the keys themselves
And it breaks our hearts

Dancer

To Amber and Corey

He said the guys he danced with were nice.
He said the guys he danced for thought he was nice.
He told me all this over the telephone while I ate
pancakes and played Jenga.
He didn’t even have to dance.  He could take drugs
or jerk off or whatever, as long as the guys
he danced for wanted to watch.
I’d met him the night before.
My friend had picked him up while we were being escorted out of a club.
The most glamorous way to leave a club is to be dragged out by bouncers.
The most glamorous way to enter a club is with a pyrotechnics display.
They paid a lot of money, those guys he danced for,
watching through computers in New York or Madrid,
and he said that made him feel good,
that they would pay a lot of money to watch him dance
or take drugs or jerk off or whatever,
and I think it was fine.
I didn’t know why he was calling me anyway.
It hadn’t been me he’d been making out with
in the Pizza Pizza across the street from the club, but maybe
I had been the one to invite him to eat pancakes and play
Jenga with us the next day. 
He said he would have come only his train into the city was delayed
so I spoke to him while he waited,
and I think it was fine,
I mean he wasn’t unhappy,
at least any more unhappy
than anyone else in their twenties in a city is.
He said his clothes made him happy.
He had nicer clothes than anyone I know.

Today You Are Waiting

Today you are eating cold pizza out of a grocery bag.  Not a Zip Lock bag, a grocery bag that you had to pay five cents for because you forgot your re-useable bags at home last week.  You also forgot to shower last night, but you put on extra deodorant this morning, and you’re hoping no one will notice, or was that yesterday morning?  Has it been two days without showering and did you even put on deodorant this morning?
The woman beside you on the streetcar has lobsters instead of hands, and each lobster has its own aquarium.  The sound of the water bubbling makes you have to pee and you’re wondering if she’s judging you for eating cold pizza out of a grocery bag at eight in the morning.  She must have her own problems though, so you think you’re probably safe.
It’s days like this that remind you of that day in grade eleven.  You were sixteen, and you started crying for no reason, and you couldn’t stop.  It was early.  You had gotten ready for school.  You were waiting for your dad to drive you, and then you were crying.  You cried so hard you almost threw up, and you didn’t have to go to school.  Sometimes, you’re sure that that day you stayed home was the day all the other kids were told what it would be like and what to do.  You’ve lived on your own for seven years now, and you still feel shockingly unprepared like one day you will be caught in the rain and simply dissolve.
The woman with the lobster hands is half asleep beside you and her lobsters bob in their aquariums as the streetcar stops at the next set of lights.
You wonder what you’re doing here, not here as in the streetcar, but the existential here, as in why? And you wonder if you’ll start spontaneously bleeding from your neck.  Last week on the streetcar, a man shot blood across half the passengers.  Is it bad you were a little jealous of all the attention he got?  He was at the front of the streetcar and you were at the back.  You didn’t even get hit, and now you’re here again today, eating cold pizza out of a grocery bag and waiting.

Let’s Get Drunk and Touch Each Other

Then punch each other then drink more.
Let’s press our faces to your kitchen floor.
I want to take your face with me everywhere.
I’m going to unzip it from your skull
and keep it in a cigarette box.
I’m going to look at it every day.
Is that ok?

When we die, let’s be buried together.
I want the maggots that eat you to eat me too.
Come, let’s drink more.
Get back beside me on the kitchen floor.
Can I kiss the skin behind your elbows?
Can I touch the skin between your toes?

I’m going to inhale your hands so you can feel the inside of my lungs.
I want you to tell me how they feel.
Let’s steal things from charity shops
and sell them on the internet
and donate the money back to charity.
Let’s pretend we’re tightrope walkers,
telephone talkers,
Tom Hanks stalkers.
Let’s pretend we understand each other with perfect clarity.

Sometimes We Try


Sometimes we try not to think
about how scared we are of ourselves,
how our rooms smell
after a night out and the taste
of the bean burrito we had for breakfast.

We try to be nice to each other
and buy each other americanos
and listen.  We are trying to remember
what it was like to hold hands and kiss
like we did before this mania overtook us.

We try to say the things
that seem true to us and to listen.
We try to listen.  We are trying
to be sincere and have feelings
and say things and buy each other
americanos.  We are trying to listen.

Learning to Sew

That was how I wanted it always to be, the darkness that covered us like a hand over an open mouth, the darkness that carried us so far away we knew we’d wake up with the post codes of our parents homes still on our tongues, the two of us dissolving in the forever with our sadness packed away in the leather bags we’d sewn ourselves, cross stitching our initials on the fronts when we were only six in scouts and never guessing what weight they’d one day hold.

Cigar Smoke


At one in the afternoon, Sadie bought the cigar box at the community yard sale down the street from her flat.  She was only going for milk, but the old man behind the card table in front of the brown apartment building reminded her of her grandfather, the one she’d never met.

“How much for the cigar box?” Sadie asked.  She asked because she wanted to hear the man’s voice.

“For you baby? Just a kiss,” and his fat lips became fatter as he turned them towards her.  He didn’t remind Sadie of her grandfather anymore.

“How about a high-five?”

“Sold.”

Sadie slapped the man’s hand and took the box back to her apartment.

Sadie’s apartment was too full of junk already.

Sadie didn’t remember until later that day that she had gone out for a reason other than to buy a cigar box with a duck engraved on the lid.

The box still held the scent of a bar’s back room, smoke and whiskey and the memory of the bar owner’s harry wrist and gold watch.

Sadie set the box on the desk in front of her.  She flipped it around a few times then pushed it to the corner where a glass lamp without a bulb and a porcelain doll without a foot already sat.

Sadie looked at her hands and waited for something interesting to happen.  It was two o’clock, and then it was four o’clock.  She turned on her computer and read the Wikipedia page for palm reading.  She followed from link to link until she was reading all about the Spanish Civil War.  She didn’t know how she’d gotten there.

It was already six, but Sadie knew she’d have to wait until at eight to eat, or else she would get fat, and no one would want to have sex with her.

Sadie sat on her bed.  It was somehow already eleven, and she somehow had a glass of wine in her hand.  She was waiting for her roommate to get ready so they could go dancing.

Sadie sat opening and closing the gold-hinged lid of the cigar box, fanning herself with the bar’s backroom smell.  The wood paneling, the perfume from the owner’s wife, the old man’s past was stashed inside that box.

At the top of the box was the river behind the house where the old man grew up.  There was a swing set and the blue dress the old man’s first love had worn the day she broke his heart.  There was the square hole they dropped the old man’s young father into and the egg-salad sandwich the man threw up that afternoon.

Sadie saw that the old man’s anger was white like the inside of a shell.  When the old man drank, the anger turned soft pink and sad like a Tuesday morning in December.

As Sadie herd her roommate’s hair drier in the bathroom, she saw the old man working in the car parts factory, inspecting the burn on his forearm, the first few grey hairs on his head, his first marriage, divorce, marriage again, two kids and the bridge the man almost jumped off one night on his way home from work.

Sadie sat the box on her lap and looked through her blinds as though they were a window.

Sadie knew the box was empty, but there was a heaviness to it.

She had heard black holes were millions of times heavier than the earth.

Sadie couldn’t imagine anything heavier than the earth, she really couldn’t.

The heavy emptiness of the box was more the heaviness of hunger.

The old man’s hunger was a carved out cavity where a heart should go.

The bar owner’s wife in the back corner of the box with her black eye, and still, all Sadie could feel what the old man’s hunger.  Not for food or sex or alcohol, it was hunger that started in the heels of the man’s feet and spread through his body like someone had hung him upside down and pulled a plug.  His blood was slowly draining.

“I’m ready,” said Sadie’s roommate.

“Finally,” said Sadie.

Sadie set the box down and forgot about it.  She went to the club with her roommate, and the music went unce, unce, unce.  It was dark, and Sadie wasn’t sure that anyone was there, just flashes of arms in coloured light.  It was as though the limbs were not attached to anything, or if they were, they were moving as autonomous beings.  Everyone had windows instead of eyes.  Everyone wanted to be wild.  Vodka-soaked, loose-limbed creatures, everyone was wild.

On the dance floor, Sadie’s hunger was a mouth the size of the ocean, and no eyes.  When she felt it, she thought of the word infestation, but she didn’t know why.

“Fuck,” she said into the cigar box when she got home.  The words shifted out the silence, but they echoed back to her as the voice of the old man, the one she thought was her grandfather, asking her for a kiss.

Sadie closed the box and opened it.  She had the taste of a young guy’s whiskey tongue in her mouth.  She could still feel his stubble on her chin.

“Fuck,” Sadie said into the box again.  It was 4am, and she was still too drunk to sleep.

Sadie fought the urge to go on facebook.

Sadie fought the urge to throw up.

She sat on her bed and watched the cracks in her walls until they became cracks of light coming through her blinds.  It was a new day again.

Everything

I want to tell you everything that has ever happened to me and for you to bury the everything in an acorn in your back garden where nothing grows.

And on nights where we get too drunk, we will cry as though our bodies are 90% water and we can’t keep it in anymore.  The sun will rise as soon as it sets, and we will trace the lines on our empty palms and ask what happened to everything?  How could we throw everything away?

When I was young, I’d shove my sins through the sieve of the confessional box, straining away the shame of being a human being one whispered misdeed at a time, trying to be good and stay good as each day I got older and everything got harder to resist.

And when are drunk, we will love each other more than when we are sober.  Our skin will be like light and each sunrise will be more beautiful that everything we’ve ever seen.  We’ll feel younger then, like fetuses filled with organs and waiting to be released to a place where we are imperfect and everything is shit and everything is light.

And when I am old, I want to hold everything in my hands and say, here is everything.  I am old and here is everything, and I think that even then, I’ll still be afraid to die, my sins will still be on me after all of that straining away.

I don’t hope to know everything or be everything or see everything.  As of now, I know nothing, but I have a feeling we might be acorns, and I have a feeling we might be light.

One-Man-Panda

This is a maze we cannot escape from.
This is a rain that will not end.
Our umbrellas have turned to backwards bats and flown away.
Here is a party we are throwing.
Here is a man dressed as a panda.
Everyone else is in normal clothes.
The films we loved as children will always make us cry.
No matter what we ate for breakfast, we will always be hungry again.
This is a wall we thought was a window.
This is a hand we thought was attached.
This is the sadness of a one-man-panda
drunk on cheap beer and dancing to ABBA
alone in the basement.