Poetry

Have a Problem? Write a Poem

Photo of the corner of a stack of newspapers taken at an angle. Light sepia-coloured filter over image.
Photo from http://mrg.bz/69cacb.

Have a problem? Write a poem. Don’t worry, here at Make You Write a Poem, we’ve got you covered. Covered in cut-up newspaper. Oh, you didn’t hear? The poems are already here, you just have to find them. Unfortunately, the problems are here as well. What, you think that’s not your problem? You’re the one covered in newspaper, pal. It’s your funeral. No, really, this is your funeral. Haven’t you looked in the casket? Ah, yes, they never like this part … Who am I talking to? Don’t worry about it. You should get to writing poems—bringing them out of the paperwork anyway. That body isn’t going to bury itself!

Uncategorized

Announcement

Close-up photo of a pile of chopped wood on the ground with green leafy plants and grass growing here and there through the cracks.

Hello everyone,

I wrote in this post that I would be making some changes to my online presence and some announcements down the road. Well, we’ve arrived at the announcement portion of the road!

Firstly, I am not abandoning this blog. I will still be here. I will still post sometimes, though likely not as frequently as before. If you’re looking to stay updated on what I’m doing and are interested in snippets of my writing, I’ll still be pretty active on social media. Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Okay, on to the announcement: I’m launching a Patreon page! This page exists as a way to support my writing. I’ve previously made most of my work available for free. I’ll still be doing this with snippets and shorter pieces. However, it’s not sustainable in the long-term for me to make the majority of my long-form writing available for free. Most of my time has been going into maintaining this blog, which I’ve enjoyed doing, but it’s time to transition to something else. I will be changing careers and moving to a new city in a couple of months, so it feels like the right time to change this up too.

On Patreon, all patrons will have access to the patron-only activity feed, which includes works in progress, exclusive pieces of writing, updates, details about my process, other bonus content, and access to digital copies of my zines and poetry chapbooks. There is one higher tier where patrons can also receive three printed zines of their choosing in the mail.

If you’re not able to support me on Patreon, no worries at all! I’ll still be sharing some of my writing here and on social media so please stick around for that. Thank you for supporting my work so far. My platform is small, but I love knowing there are people out there who enjoy my writing.

I’m excited about these next steps. I’m excited to launch this Patreon, move somewhere new, and change up my lifestyle. I’ll be sharing more details about these changes as they come. Like many of us, I’ve been stuck inside for well over a year and life has felt rather stagnant, so it’s exhilarating (and a little daunting) to have all of this change on the horizon. All I know for sure is that I plan to keep writing. The future feels bright for the first time in a while. There are no guarantees, but I’m full of hope.

Sage

Non-Fiction

Queer4Queer

Photo of Sage, a white non-binary person with short red hair, smiling slightly and wearing a blue baseball cap, jean jacket, and necklace with a quartz crystal. There is a bi pride flag hanging on the wall behind them.

I am Queer4Queer.

I’m a queer person. I identify as queer. If you want to get technical about it, I’m bisexual. I am attracted to people of all genders.

At this point in my life, I am prioritizing sexual and romantic connections with women and non-binary people.

Though I am attracted to them, I have complicated feelings about dating men. There have been periods in my life where I’ve stopped dating men entirely in order to explore my queerness, prioritize relationships with non-men, and not feel like such a “bad” queer for consorting with them (though I recognize this last one comes from internalized biphobia).

I often go back and forth on whether or not I should keep dating men. Do I actually want to? Am I really attracted to them? I’m pretty sure that I am, but something as simple as going on a dating app causes me to question my sexuality. As I swipe through prospective male matches, I wonder, am I even attracted to men? I frequently look at their photos with disinterest, jokingly thinking to myself, all of these men are just so . . . men. I don’t think that’s what I mean though. I think what I mean is: all of these men are just so straight.

I think that might be the issue. Most of the time, I’m not attracted to your typical cishet dude. I don’t often find myself drawn to straight women either. I’m a queer person. I resonate with queerness. I’m attracted to queer energy.

What I’ve been coming to realize over the past few years is that I have no interest in pursuing sexual or romantic connections with people who aren’t a part of the LGBTQ2S+ community. I’m attracted to people of all genders, yes, but the majority of the people I find myself attracted to are some flavour of queer—whether they be lesbians, enbies, bi dudes, etcetera. I’m Queer4Queer. That’s it. That’s my sexual orientation.

It’s not that I’m not attracted to men at all, it’s that the vast majority of cishet guys just don’t do it for me.

I also just want to be with other queer people, other people who carry queer energy and experiences. In general, I’ve had a better time dating queer folks than I have dating straight cis guys. I won’t list all of the reasons why in this piece, but suffice it to say that queer dating has felt more comfortable, intimate, and safe for me.

Is this it then? Has the ever-questioning bisexual finally figured out their sexuality? Probably not, but I feel like I’m closer to understanding it now than I’ve ever been.


Note: I’m using “queer” in this piece as an umbrella term for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community. I recognize that not everyone vibes with or uses this word, and that’s totally fine. I wouldn’t refer to a specific member of the community as queer unless they identified that way. However, I believe in all of the reclamation work that’s gone into it and see it as an acceptable umbrella. It’s also a useful shorthand to use when referring to the community rather than awkwardly writing out LGBTQ2S+ each time.

Poetry

Happy Birthday, Dad

Photo of a sky, lake, silhouetted trees, and a boathouse. The sky takes up most of the photo and is full of dark, tumultuous-looking clouds. The trees, water, and boathouse are shrouded in shadow.

Content note: this piece deals with addiction, abuse, and intergenerational trauma.


I wish my father a happy birthday.
He tells me he’s drinking again,
And that he hardly heard from anyone.
I can only ever write poems about him.

Write back, he always says.
His emails come quickly, contain hardly anything.
Write back, he always says.
Write back.

I have to come up with more to say, more that I can share.
There are so few safe topics to choose from.
He wants to see me. I don’t know if I can let him.
Just a few years ago, seeing him on the street would send me reeling—
Running, hiding, heart pounding, panic swelling.
I don’t know if he ever saw me run away.

I don’t know how to write that fear into a poem,
And perhaps this is where I fail as a poet.

I never thought I would speak to him again,
Never expected to write to him.
Five years of estrangement passed,
And then I did.
Something within me shifted.
Words like abuser, monster, Jekyll, and Hyde
Moved over to the side—
Making room for
Illness, sickness, and intergenerational trauma.
It took five years for my fear to begin melting,
For my anger to start eroding,
Revealing layers and layers of fresh-cut
Pain,
Confusion,
Compassion.

Write back, he always says.
Get your brother to write to me,
And write back.
Write back.
Write back.

What more can I say, Dad?

Poetry

A Nest of Lies

Those little things that
Don’t add up
Or make sense.
Those things that
Don’t sit quite right.
Are they concealing something larger?

When, finally, we lift this old stone from the mossy earth,
Will we find, writhing on the ground,
Churning in the dirt,
Attempting to flee the scene,
Creatures without mouths, without eyes?

In place of a man, will we find a nest of lies?

Non-Fiction

The Vaccine

Photo of three unmarked vials with clear liquid inside them arranged around each other on a white table. One is laying down with another rested on it.
Image Source

Content note: this piece is about the COVID-19 pandemic.


I walk up to the hospital. There’s a line with a sign that says “COVID VACCINES”. I get in it. A woman lines up behind me and starts coughing. I inch forward. A nurse hands me a medical mask. “You can take off your mask and put this on or put this on over yours”. I put it on over. The mask I wore already has two layers and a filter, so now I have four layers of mask. It slides into my eyes. I fix it. It slides into my eyes again. I am ushered into a foyer, and a nurse with a mask and face shield screens me for the first time. I have to ask her to repeat herself. It’s loud with all the people milling about, and I can seldom hear anyone who wears a mask. “Has anyone in your household been ordered to self-isolate?” I lean my ear towards her, unable to maintain social distancing and our conversation. After a bit of repetition, we settle that my answers to all her questions are no. I am ushered forward again and told to follow the pink dots.

I am grateful for the pink dots because it’s overwhelming inside with nurses, doctors, admin staff, and patients everywhere. I am no longer used to being in places so full of people. I’m thankful for the double masks. I follow the pink dots and am told to stand on a circle. “No, not that circle, stand on the circle at the end”. I walk towards the circle at the end when someone with a tablet beckons me over. Sorry, circle, not today. I hold out my health card, and they do not take it. They don’t take anything from you these days. My details are read off the card and typed into the tablet, and I am screened once again. Then they ask, “Why are you getting the vaccine?” I wasn’t expecting this question. Why are any of us getting the vaccine? Not sure of the appropriate response, I just say “Work”. I give them the name of my agency.

I am told which door to go through. I have no autonomy. I’ve become compliant, turned into putty. Another nurse asks me to stand on another circle. Someone else is told off for standing on the wrong circle. I enter the doctor room. Their names are posted on each tiny cubicle. Dr. This, Dr. That. I see an older woman getting vaccinated. A doctor is explaining to her that the vaccine is not a substitute for social distancing. I follow the line and move to a new circle because it seems to make sense, hoping I’m not doing it wrong. Everyone is terribly close together, but there are screens everywhere to prevent virus particles from floating into mouths and eyeballs. I am sent to cubicle six. My doctor’s name is John. I feel a sense of familiarity, like I’m always encountering doctors named John, though I don’t think this is actually the case.

I sit down and neither of us speak. He is looking at his tablet. He asks for my name, and I tell him it’s spelled with an I. I’m screened for the third time. I still don’t have any COVID symptoms. I am told that this is not a substitute for social distancing and wearing masks. I tell him I understand. I get the evil eye because I am a young person. I swear, Doctor, I’ve been good! Doctor, doctor, I have an anxiety disorder. I’m a hypochondriac. Trust me, I’ve been good! I am given a choice of arms and sacrifice the left one. “Do you consent to the vaccine?” “Yes”. God, yes. It’s quick, painless. “Well, that’s it, you’ve been vaccinated.” “Thank you!” “Go over there. You will have to wait for fifteen minutes to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction.”

I am directed to a hallway where people are lined up and waiting on chairs between screens. They print out my ticket and tell me I am allowed to leave at 12:21. I hear the nurses tell others that they can validate their parking at the welcome desk. I left my ticket in the car. Damn.

When allowed, I exit the hospital with a little more autonomy (though not a lot). I use sanitizer before I leave. I’m not protected just yet. I get in my car and begin the hardest part of my journey. I don’t go back in to validate my parking because I believe that would disrupt the order of things. Just a few people out of place in there could throw everything into chaos, and then I may end up on the news: Local vaccinations stalled by careless redhead over parking dispute. The person in the car in front of me struggles with the parking meter, but eventually, the bar rises and they are free.

I drive into place. The person ahead of me left their ticket in the machine. For some reason, I pull it out and try to put it back in. Then I try with my ticket. Then I try with theirs again. Then mine. There’s a car behind me. I realize then that the machine is telling me to stop putting the tickets in upside down. I put in their ticket again. It tells me it’s already been used. Duh. I put mine in again. It says I owe six dollars. We’re getting somewhere. I pull out my credit card and tap to pay on the contactless “tap to pay” spot. It beeps. Nothing happens. The car behind me pulls into the other lane, pays, and leaves, which I am grateful for. I don’t need a sustained witness. I tap my card about six more times. I begin tapping my card all over the meter. Sometimes it beeps, sometimes it doesn’t, but otherwise, nothing happens. I will die here.

I have to call for help. I press the green “call for help” button. A voice answers.

“Hello?”

“Hi, um, I’m trying to pay with my credit card, and it isn’t working”.

“Have you tried putting it inside the machine?”

“Like where the ticket goes?”

“Yes”

OH”.

Thank goodness there were no other witnesses.

“Thank you!” I say. They hang up.

It accepts my payment, and I leave. As I roll out of the parking lot, I say to myself, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. Not the vaccination, just the parking.

I was impressed with how well-organized and efficient they were, like a well-oiled machine, easily able to handle my chaos. If the hardest thing about getting vaccinated is leaving the parking lot, that means they’re doing something right. Thank you to all the frontline workers, the nurses, doctors, screeners, and admin staff, for working long and hard all year to protect fools like me. Your services are essential and greatly appreciated.

Poetry

I Like to Walk

Sidewalk and road at dusk going off in the distance to the left. Two lit streetlamps visible with connecting wires. Parts of two shadowy trees visible on either side of image. Sky contains some light pink which fades into a dark blue.

I like to walk through urban wastelands.
I like to walk where I won’t stumble upon anyone.
I like to walk where the grass is dead and the buildings are disused.
I like to walk past peeling billboards, abandoned advertisements.
I like to walk out of pedestrian-friendly zones, out of friendly zones.
I like to walk in areas only meant to be seen for seconds through a car window.
I like to walk where the aesthetics have never been considered nor cared for.
I like to walk where I’m not supposed to go.

I like to walk with music.
I like to walk all alone.
I like to walk out here in the open.

I like to walk at night after the joggers have returned from their flight.
I like to walk until the muscles in my legs twitch when I stop.
I like to walk where I can sit on the ground and type out a poem.
I like to walk where I won’t be given funny looks for writing a poem.
I like to walk until I am unimportant, unworthy of comment.
I like to walk through places that don’t matter as a person that doesn’t matter.
I like to walk where and when I won’t be seen.

I like to walk through urban wastelands.
I like to walk,
And I like to pause
Without holding anyone up,
Without drawing any attention.

I like to walk at dusk as the joggers are just finishing up.
I like to walk as the sun sets, as the heat follows it out of the pavement.
I like to walk where the ashplant is cracked, and there is no one around to complain.
I like to walk until I empty every last thought from my brain.
I like to walk to the bus shelters without waiting for the bus
Because I like to walk.
I like to walk.
I like to walk,
And often,
I wish I never had to stop.

Non-Fiction

A Strained Relationship

Photo of the top half of a blue glass bottle. In the background and out of focus is a yard with green grass, trees, part of a shed, and two wooden Adirondack chairs.

Content note: this piece discusses alcohol consumption, binge drinking, intoxication, and trauma. It also briefly describes sexual assault.


I have a strained relationship with alcohol. I don’t really drink except when I do. Throughout my twenties, drinking gradually evolved from an enjoyable activity to one I’m rather afraid of. There have been too many nights where I lost control, too many days lost to hangovers, and so many apologies that I’ve lost track. When a night went well, people told me I was fun and funny and crazy, the life of the party. I miss being able to be that person. When a night didn’t go well, people told me I was crying and yelling and crazy, that I’d killed the party. I don’t miss that and am afraid of becoming that person again.

I was drunk when I yelled at my friend about her girlfriend who sat listening in the other room.

I was drunk when I threw myself out of a cab and into a snowbank.

I was drunk when I hurled nonsensical accusations at my boyfriend. I was drunk when he carried me home.

I was drunk after sneaking shots of Irish whiskey away from my friends in-between the shots of vodka we were doing together. I was drunk when they carried me crying through the streets with my strapless dress hanging around my waist. I was still drunk hours later when I woke up in my bed after blacking out and asked if they still wanted to party. I was drunk when they told me I had killed the party.

I was drunk when I tried to leave and he pulled me onto the floor, ran his hands over my body, and whispered his repulsive desires into my ear. I was drunk when I went still and silent, when I needed to spring into action, to fight and to run. I was drunk when I shoved my elbow into his gut, releasing his hold on me, and fucking ran, ran, ran.

I was drunk when I broke my best friend’s laundry basket and puked on his dorm’s bathroom floor. I was drunk when I tried to clean it up with my socks, and he told me the biohazard people would have to come. I was drunk as I imagined that scene from E.T. with horror: people in head-to-toe gear storming in, taking over.

I was drunk when an angel found me crying alone in a laundry room. I was drunk when she introduced me to her friends and took me out for the night.

I was drunk on prosecco on my champagne birthday when I stood up on a chair and made announcements to the surprising number of people who liked me enough to attend.

I was drunk on red wine in your bathtub when we poured it into the water and watched it turn a cloudy grey.

I was drunk on hard liquor on New Year’s Eve when I calmly and carefully made myself throw up in the toilet and then came back downstairs for snacks…and more liquor.

I was drunk and standing by myself in a bar while tears crept silently down my face. I was drunk when you asked me what was wrong and told me it’s okay, wine makes you cry for no reason too.

I was drunk when a little voice inside my head whispered that it wanted more, more, more. It never wanted this to stop. It wanted to feel powerful and brave and invincible forever.

I was drunk when I told you I loved you and made you cry.

I was drunk when I ran out of your house in socks and a t-shirt in the middle of February, and you had to chase me down the street.

I was drunk when you found me hiding in a stairwell, when I was a scared and needy puddle. I was drunk, and I wanted you to look for me.

I was drunk when I splattered glow stick goo all over your basement, ripped down your curtain rod, and then smoked a cigarette while sitting on your floor. I was drunk when I held my friend’s hand and took her to the bathroom to clean the blood off of her feet. I was drunk when I ran the three of us a bath, and you threw up in the toilet. We were drunk when we put you to bed soaking wet in the freezing cold glowstick room after laying an unopened sleeping bag on top of you.

I was drunk on the half-empty bottle of vodka and orange juice I held in my hand as we sat on the swings and flew. I was drunk and full of the future.

I was drunk when I stripped naked next to the fire, when you laughed and said my name before we all dove into the lake. I was still drunk when I joined the others hotboxing in a tent even though weed fucks me up, and I don’t like it. I was drunk, and then I was crossfaded, sick, disoriented.

I was drunk and full of possibility when I ran out of the house, called your name, and then held your hand and said goodbye.

I have a strained relationship with alcohol. It’s not all good nor bad. It’s not cut and dry (heh). I go through periods of sobriety. I go through periods where I drink cautiously. Occasionally, I lose control, the alcohol imp in me waking after a few drinks and driving me to have more, more, more…

When I drink, I awaken my fun side. I awaken my wild side. I awaken my no fucks given side. I awaken my destructive side.

Over the years, I’ve learned that vodka and trauma make a terrible mixed drink.

I guess you could say I practice harm reduction when it comes to alcohol. I mostly avoid it, and when I drink, I tend to do so cautiously. So cautiously that I rarely let myself get drunk, as that’s usually when I lose control of my behaviour and how much I consume. I also get wicked hangovers after just a couple of drinks these days, which makes it feel not particularly worth it anymore. I don’t miss the hangovers. I don’t miss drinking most of the time. I do miss the person it allowed me to become sometimes: fun, bold, adventurous, wild, and free. I don’t miss the person it brought out at others: angry, sad, destructive, tactless, and self-loathing.

I have a complicated relationship with alcohol. I don’t really drink except when I do. That glass of wine you put in my hand? It makes me nervous. It can also make me fearless, spontaneous, reckless…

Drinking enhances and exaggerates whoever I am, whatever I’m carrying inside. There are days when I have a beer and all it does is make me feel sad and hopeless and vaguely nauseous. There are days when I have a beer and it makes me feel lighter, looser, and more carefree. I can’t predict what the next drink will bring out. I can’t predict who I will be.

It’s not all bad, so I don’t cut off all contact. It’s not all good either, so I’m wary of our interactions. I’m not sober, but I don’t really drink either. I have a strained relationship with alcohol. I wish I didn’t. I wish it was simpler. I wish I could go back to when drinking was fun and exciting instead of fraught and disconcerting. I wish I hadn’t inherited this perilous relationship with alcohol that goes back generations in my family. I wish it was simpler, but it’s not.

I have a strained relationship with alcohol. I don’t really drink anymore. Oh, except when I do.

Poetry

I’m on Testosterone, You’re in a Corset

Close-up photo of pink flowers and green leaves on branches of a tree.

Content note: this piece discusses transphobia.


I’m on testosterone.
You’re in a corset.
You’re more visible than me,
So you’re treated differently
At this event, within this scene.
It’s like people don’t quite know
What to do with you.
They think they know what to do with me,
But they call me a girl,
Indicating they really don’t.

Is it a warm welcome
If they do not see me?
Is it acceptance
If it comes with erasure?
Is it friendly
If they keep saying she?

They show me how they treat trans people
With how they treat you.
It’s subtle, but it’s there.
They show me how they treat trans people
With how they treat me.
It’s subtle, but I’m here.

Uncategorized

It’s a Zine Release Day!

Guess what? New zine, that’s what! Details are listed below.

Guess what else? New zine store! You heard that right. I will now be selling my chapbooks/zines on Gumroad. Check em out here.

A stuffed long-neck dinosaur is propped up against a window with open blinds across it as if looking out. Yellow filter over image. White text in the bottom left corner reads "Quaranteen / Quarinteen". Both words are crossed out. Below them is the word, "Quarantine".

Quarantine

Quarantine is a 40+ page zine that contains creative non-fiction, poetry, and semi-fiction I wrote throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a photo series I created with my companion Peter while in quarantine. In these pieces, I draw upon humour, the surreal, and hope as coping strategies for an especially challenging and strange time. I use my work to step outside of myself, imagine a better future, and be playful as a way to get through the shutdowns, the lockdowns, and the quarantines. Many pieces in this collection are also available on my blog and Instagram, though they have been re-edited and formatted for this publication.

Order the Digital Zine | $6+ CAD

Order the Print Zine | $7+ CAD

In keeping with the tradition of zines, I also accept trades! Contact me here to work out an exchange of creative work.