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

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.

I ate a thin girl for breakfast today

by H. E. Casson

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 magazine in Winter, 2001.
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

At Times I Hate You, Emily

by H. E. Casson

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.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Food To Spare

by H. E. Casson

“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 magazine in Winter, 2001.
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The Don’t Hit Me Dance

by H. E. Casson

It was a hopping from one leg
To the other
In front of mother
A hop-hop
Muscles tensed
I sensed her anger
Stand as I can
Taking it like a fully grown man
But beforehand
My performance
My only chance
The don’t hit me dance
(I gave it that name
In remembrance)

And the partner
The parent
That sent me ahead
The tensing
The dread that began with the words
Get the yardstick
The ruler
The wooden spoon
And wait for me
In your room

What caused the dance
Was the game in my mind
That wanted to run
And to leave it behind
But knowing my size
And my age
And relation
Prevented me
From leaving my station
Beside the bed
With the dance in my head
And the stick in my hand
She would use on me
Repeatedly

I would do the dance in public places
When she would show one of the faces
Saying
Wait till we get home
Wait till I have you all alone
And anger
Hid behind the stare
Of righteousness
And only this
Defense I had been given
To dance
And keep on living

Published in Fireweed.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

In Christie Pits

by H. E. Casson

The wading pool is emptied out
The trees have left their leaves about
You wear no coat, but breathe a cloud
In puffs that float above the crowd
At play in Christie Pits

Last night the swings were flipped around
You try to reach them from the ground
Your sister climbs to set them back
While father mimes a heart attack
Brought on at Christie Pits

You snack on fruit and carrot sticks
On cans of pop and peanut mix
You heed the words from all the mums
To feed the birds but not the bums
Who sleep in Christie Pits

The swing is swung, the slide is slid
The climbers climbed, the rides all rid
It’s time to go, you beg to stay
A second NO! You turn and say
Goodbye to Christie Pits

Published on labyrinths.ca.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

I Was Once a Dancer

by H. E. Casson

I was once a dancer
Perhaps the very best
That the world had ever seen
A cross between a spinning top
And frijoles saltarines
And if I sometimes fell
It was a part of the dance as well

I was once a dancer
Until someone told me dance
Is not just movements
Picked by chance
But a very specific
Leap or stance

That must be
Choreographed, rehearsed
Frontward, backward
Left and reversed

And suddenly
I was not the best
Nor even highly rated
So now I do not dance
In fact

I hate it

Written for, and performed as part of, Ryerson University’s Disability Studies event, Arts With Attitude.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.