A Group of Poems Is Called a Whisper

Today I’m going to share the poems I had published while I was on pause.

The first, Salt, was published in poetically magazine‘s premiere issue, wonders of winter. It’s perhaps my most intimate poem.

My minison series, The Seven Stages Via Kübler-Ross, appeared in the third issue of The Minison Zine. A minison is a 14 letter sonnet, and is the shortest form I’ve experimented with.

Three of my poems were published in print journal The Avenue‘s sexuality and gender themed issue. They aren’t available online, but the issue can be purchased here.

If you enjoy my poetry, you can always find more of it here.

CENTRING OUR CREATIVE COMMUNITY

Author Dianna Gunn wears so many hats, I’m starting to think she’s a hydra. When she’s not prolifically penning stories, recording podcasts, or helping authors learn how to market their work, she’s busy creating virtual conferences. There’s one coming up on February 20th called Worldbuilding Deep Dive. I’m particularly jazzed for the Accessibility in Worldbuilding: Understanding How Disabled People Move Through Your World panel. All of the panels are free, though spaces are limited. Writers can sign up here.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

How I Got Here

(CW: Trauma, anxiety, neurodiversity)

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

and

could

not

go

inside.

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.

Two New Poems

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.

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.

How to Survive Surviving a Crisis

(CW: Pandemic, poverty, unsolicited advice)

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.

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I ate a thin girl for breakfast today

by H. E. Casson
(CW: Eating disorder, gender dysphoria, body discomfort)

I ate a thin girl for breakfast today
I heard her bones crackle as they gave way
I watched my belly grow in size
I saw the fat distending my thighs
She tasted like two-day-old gristly chicken
I thought, as my arms touched my sides as they thickened

I ate a skinny girl for lunch
I heard her crunch

I ate a slender girl for dinner
She didn’t even flinch
She swallowed the air until she was thinner
Counted every inch

I ate a thin girl for breakfast today
(I used to be like you, I grinned)
In keeping my promise
I fed her a steak
Then carefully shovelled her in

I ate a thin girl last night as a snack
I was a thin girl and I’m not going back

Published in the Meat issue of (Ex)cite (2001).
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At Times I Hate You, Emily

by H. E. Casson
(CW: Isolation, mental illness)

At times I hate you, Emily
Though as a poet my love is due you

I hate the legendary words
That grew in your ecstatic solitary
The words that have said it all
So simply
That my prose is a tease
Seeking attention
With unnecessary frills

I hate the room on the second floor
Where you hid out the world
Denying the worth of any
Save those words
All voices, to you, were letters
Shrouded in only white
The scholars say
You shut the door
And turned us all away
So every moment that I do not hold
Every thought that I do not translate to perfection
Every distraction I indulge in
Makes me less a poet than you

Still, I love you, Emily
Though as a poet my hate is due you

I love you for how little you lived
For now your words remain
Unmarred by an overshadowing woman
Until you are not Emily the poet
But Emily the poems
They seem to have been birthed from the very ground
Organic and untainted by human intervention
Poetic purity with no intercessor

I love you because you are already dead
Any your poems are a record
Of a poet before therapy
And self-help books
And Oprah made us whole
And stole our words
Abandoned us, silent
By unburdening our hearts
And curing our muse

Emily, I love you
For as a poet, my love is due you

Published in Jones Av by Oel Press in 2001.

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Food To Spare

by H. E. Casson
(CW: Food, hunger, neglect)

“You eat meat?”
She asked, incredulous
I said no
Then I said yes
Sometimes
I suppose
It feeds my gut
And teases my nose
It sits in my throat
And flavours my tongue
It’s comfort food
From when I was young
And mother would feed me
A chop so big
I forgot when I tasted
That it was a pig

But then, she cares
Her eyes are wet
She is a cow, in dreams
I’ll bet
(Just look at those eyes)
So I rationalize

That I was hungry for almost a year
(No politics for that, I fear)
An empty belly made me see
That I eat them
Or they’ll eat me

And lettuce didn’t fill me up
And orange juice didn’t please my cup
But a pizza pie with bacon strips
Pleased my lips

Reminding me of mother’s chops
The happy smell in butcher shops
And times when hunger was not there
And times when I had food to spare

Published in the Meat issue of (Ex)cite (2001).
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