Words in a Storm

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.

Like Cherries

My poem, Like Cherries, is free to read at Malarkey Books. In it I explore one of the best days my partner and I had while experiencing homelessness in Toronto. It seems the right time for it to come out, as we are all of us trying to find our own best days in hard times.

Be well, and enjoy the poem.

Home is an Anti-virus

I am writing this in my home. I am writing it indoors, with heat and clean water, wearing washed clothes, my skin not itching, my partner’s voice rising and falling in the next room. I am safely housed.

This is true now, but for some of my life, it wasn’t. I’ve lived in an unsafe home, a group home, a shelter. I’ve crashed on couches. I’ve slept rough, slept in my school, slept in spaces not meant for humans. I was me, the same me I am now, but alone and hungry, frantic and deadened all at once. I knew I was disposable.

Over 20 years ago, I met a person who was precious and amazing. He was disposable too. I knew him for weeks, not months or years, but I think about him all the time. He was clever and challenging, generous and creative. He caught TB in a shelter. Because of the nature of crisis-friendships, I don’t know how he is now, or if he is now, but I knew him long enough to see him fall apart. I knew him long enough to learn that illness will always come for humans in shelters, in care facilities, in prisons, in mental health wards. As long as it stays in those boxes, we don’t hear much about it.

And what can I do? I tell stories from my own limited perspective, from this warm place that coats the memories in gauze, making them less sharp. I am here in my home, safe, at least six feet from the world.

What is home, in a time like this? Home is an anti-virus. It keeps us safe. Home is personal protective equipment, covering our most vulnerable parts. Home is an avatar of community care. Home is, and should be, a right.

The Pandemic Chapbooks to Support Charitable Giving initiative by 845 Press and Collusion Books includes a poem I wrote called For Chandrahas, Who is Likely Dead. It is about my friend, about illness, and about home. If you donate to a charity — any charity — you can get a copy of the chapbook for free.

There’s a charity in Toronto called Sanctuary that is taking care of people, members of our community, at great risk and in the most challenging time possible. They are doing this in the face of immeasurable hardship and loss. I hope you will consider donating to them, and to the folks they serve.

I wish there was a way to pull all this together, to end it in a way that is satisfying, but much like the situation, there’s no easy conclusion. There is no bow to tie, just a hundred, hundred loose threads that require a communal will and concerted effort to begin to gather.

In all this, I wish us safety. I wish us a thing called home.

How to Survive Surviving a Crisis

Poet and professor Orchid Tierney has organized a virtual reading series called Distāntia. She calls it “an experimentation with intimate social distancing through remote access poetry.”

My poem is about the value that people who are often forgotten bring to a crisis. The wisdom of survival doesn’t always wear a three piece suit. Sometimes it wears a Chewbacca onesie and hides out in its blanket fort, thank you very much.