Thanks to Taco Bell Quarterly for offering me my second nomination for the Best Of The Net for poetry.
For the first time, I’ve dedicated most of my efforts not just to creating, but to trying to share what I create. That part has always been the wrench for me.
About two years ago, I left my job. When I say I left my job, what I mean is that I got onto a bus, rode it to the subway station, got out and stood on the platform
My body rebelled. I full-on froze. My mouth tasted like I was chewing tinfoil. My heart was a wind-up toy from the flea market let loose under my ribs. I called HR and told them I couldn’t do it. I quit.
You don’t need to know the details of what happened at my job to spin me out. It was an echo of a recurring trauma, played out like a house of mirrors and it triggered my flight or flight. (And I’ve never had fight. Not ever.)
I left. I got a part time job to help with the bills and started sending words out.
I live in a neurodiverse bubble that makes enjoying my own accomplishments complicated — even impossible. I’m sharing my nominations because I want them to stay in my brain. I want them to imprint as deeply as the bad stuff. I want to remember how I felt when I heard. How my body reacted. What my mouth tasted like. What my heart did.
A poem I wrote about a place that gave me something when I had nothing is out in the world. Thanks for that, TBQ. Thanks for giving my story a home. Thanks for giving me a reason to pay attention to what my heart does.
SCIFAIKUEST is a journal of short form science fiction and fantasy poetry published by Hiraeth Books. The August 2020 issue features my poem, wings pulled to body. I’ve received my copy of this issue in the mail and its full of small bursts of creative wonder. If you like your speculative verse in bite sized form, this is for you. The issue can be purchased here.
by H. E. Casson
(CW: Sexual assault, child abuse, pregnancy)
If I ever liked the night
If it ever liked me back
That was so very long ago
So long ago
It may have been
Inside the womb
Ripe with the smell
I remember it well
Of his cigarettes
And her ice cream cones
The sound of their fights
The frenzied tones
Through the thin skin walls
I remember it all
If I ever liked the dark
With the sparklers
In the park
To scare away
To convince the day
To stay (which was impossible)
At a festival in the early fall
If I ever liked the moon
When he came into my room
Like the fights
Inside the womb
An exploration of my
Thin, like hers
Afraid, like him
Originally published in Fireweed.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
The Daily Drunk’s Bob Ross themed call resulted in this poem, Paint, about watching a man that was all edges soften just a bit when he created. One thing Bob Ross did, intentionally or not, was give men of an era that demanded a damaging masculinity permission to be gentle.
If you’d like to enjoy some Bob Ross yourself, his website is here and his youtube channel is here.
I first wrote my poem, In Patient, while I was hospitalized because of debilitating symptoms that hit at my intersection of mental illnesses. The poem has lived on my computer for about 20 years, a small moment in a long relationship with my disability. Literary magazine Serotonin not only gave it a home, but they gave it a loving home. Now they’ve nominated it, along with 7 others, for the Best of the Net 2020. I’m heartened by the changing conversation around neurodiversity and mental illness and I’m grateful that my experiences are a part of it.
I’ve been enjoying litmag prompts and themes as inspiration for poetry. My last two published poems were both thematic, though very different.
My poem, The Unbuilt Dollhouse, delves into plans I made, on the smallest scale, for a life I couldn’t have. It was published in the Haunted Dollhouse section of Kristin Garth‘s tiny journal, Pink Plastic House.
The other is about dinosaurs. Why? Because they’re awesome. The Dolichorhynchops at the Royal Ontario Museum is about, well, the dolichorhynchops at the Royal Ontario Museum. It was published by The Daily Drunk as part of their dinosaur prompt.
My odd little poem, The Last Episode, is live at The Daily Drunk. It’s about The Office, Lost and Dante’s Inferno.
I’m still writing, still publishing. I’ve been overwhelmed, so I’ve been forgetting to post. ADHD/PTSD in a pandemic is a heckuva thing.
BUT! I’ve had a few things published recently.
My short non-fiction piece, All Ten Provinces and Both Territories, has been published in Flash Nonfiction Food: 91 Very Delicious, Very True, Very Short Stories by Woodhall Press. This essay recalls a time I traded something precious for something necessary. It’s also about how delicious pizza is when your belly is empty.
My poem, In Patient, is featured in litmag Serotonin. It’s an oldie, written about 20 years ago while I was an inpatient at a mental health facility. Challenges related to my mental health contributed to the long pause between writing and publishing this poem. Publishing isn’t accessible to neurodiverse and disabled people, in part because it wasn’t built for us. Indie publishers like Serotonin are creating spaces built for us, by us and because of that, pieces like this can find a home. I’m grateful for the small shifts, but it does make me want more change, bigger change.
I will try to post again soon. Until then, may you find the eye of the storm and take a deep breath.
My short story, Golden Arches, is set at the Rexdale McDonald’s that I worked at as a teenager. It’s a story about class, poverty, and doing crime. Golden Arches has just been published, along with 22 other poems and stories, as part of Workers Write! Tales from the Classifieds. It’s $2.50 for the PDF, $12.00 for the print version, and $1.99 for the Kindle.