notice.

it’s been a month. a long, empty month. on the personal side of things it’s been busy: i got engaged, i’m finding myself at times overwhelmed (in a good way) at work, i’ve been planning the wedding and taking trips out of town, i tried to quit smoking (i didn’t succeed, so don’t ask).

& i’m writing, only i’m not writing poetry.

it’s been empty because of what happens between all the busy, the evenings ahead of me dotted with nothing. no painting my nails, no doing my laundry, no cleaning my house. getting the christmas decorations up was impressive, i guess, but everything else feels so stagnant.

i keep waiting for the chance to make it better. un-erase it, fill the colour back in. in the meantime i’m lonely, and feeling detached from the people i love. i want a room with everyone in it, where no one can hear a word except for exactly what’s meant for them but can’t seem to be said.

Photo 2014-11-30, 1 05 26 PM

in the spirit of lists, reserved so often for february, i have written a list for december.

1 melting snow
2 my breath on the glass, too early in fall
3 crumpled cigarette packs in the backseats of cars; a bottle of juice
4 making (difficult) decisions
5 the tour, still the tour, but what do i say
6 apologizing
7 asking for favours
8 hands inside sleeves, of sweaters, sweaters like blankets, blankets like old conversations with friends, friends like a memory, a memory of hands inside sleeves of sweaters
9 vintage books, lace, ribbon, high heeled shoes
10 ohhh chainsmoking, a habit, old habits
11 not forgetting, despite lack of words

the open mic this month was particularly good. the people i know are particularly good. they aren’t all here and i find i notice that fragmentation more and more as winter edges closer, but they are particularly good. i will never not notice.

story.

it’s
done; you
built a stage not truly for me

and told me: it’s just
the beginning.

i learned to paint, create
a backdrop to your
new story,

memorized how
to forget what we’d written, or

whole hands intertwined. easier
to touch your skin than tell
you, not the truth,
but any words
at all

it’s not over
until we decide
there is nothing to say

she said.

he said / she said is not
good enough, hear me out, it’s not good
enough because the she said (or six said, or eight said) is the part that’s not enough. my virginity was stolen at 14 by a boyfriend who was trying to prove something. to himself, maybe, only, i thought at first, but no, because he told the whole school he’d nailed me. and that’s too bad, because the he said is so powerful, always, it was, it is, it’s so powerful. & he did nail me; that was true. and i was 14 and i thought we were just making out; that is also true. we were in his bed and then suddenly he was inside me and i was not okay and i was scared and when it was over he told me to go home and i went home and i wanted to cry but instead i got empty and alone.

i still think he told everyone because it proved something to everyone. i couldn’t deny it because i’m not a liar, i wasn’t then and i’m not now, all i could say was “it wasn’t what you think it was.”

and he dropped out and switched schools and was gone, just like that. and i stayed.

but no one would date me. boys bet the guys i liked money to wink at me in english class. boys called me slut when i walked in the room, and whore, and worse. boys wrote slut on my locker. boys whispered at me. boys confronted me in the hallway and asked me point-blank why i was such a slut. boys accused me of staring at them in the classrooms. boys called me at my home number and told me i should kill myself because no one wants to go out with a slut.

do you know why he said no when you asked him to the dance
you’re pretty, but if he went with you everyone would
think he’s just in it to get laid

girls stopped being my friend. and of course, sadly, some girls called me a slut. i started getting wonderfully high and found friends who didn’t listen to people inside the school, and that was so special. but it wasn’t easy to walk the hallways every day and know that no one believed what i said.

this was fifteen years ago this january. i don’t talk about it now because i found out then what happens when you talk about it. sex, abuse, power, having something held over you and out of your reach, even intangible, even just the threat that someone would destroy you if you ever told the truth.

women don’t tell their stories. it’s just the way it is. they don’t go to the police, or their friends, or their family. my story isn’t that terrible, in comparison to others, and i’ve only been stronger from that experience, but it’s an experience that should have been told, and should have been listened to & believed when i tried to she said.

when no one believed me there was a long time when i questioned whether it had even happened that way, or if i was remembering it correctly. that is the weight of the power we are talking about here; that’s how real it is. that is horrifying.

i am so proud and grateful that anyone comes forward to tell their own story, regardless of who they are talking about. and there are facts, of course, and there are liars everywhere, there is no honest gender, we all know that. but women can’t be believed, they wanted it, they went on the date, they got in the bed, they accepted the ride home, and sometimes they do regrettable things because of the fear of what will happen if they don’t. that’s how real it is.

war memorial.

clockas much as i try not to react to things like this, personally, especially in writing, i have to say that it isn’t easy for me, personally, (i mean very personally & little else right now) to see the war memorial blocked off with caution/crime scene tape.

i had places in hamilton, before i left, unique & special places that even after they stopped being unique and special i would still return to when i wanted to write, or be alone. city hall, the rooftop of jackson square, gore park, TH&B, victoria park, and beneath the bridges of the QEW. and i had them in dundas too: the carnegie gallery rooftop, of course, the driving park, grove cemetery, the rope swing (sounds so adorable now, and small-townish), the creek.

i feel this connection right now to hamilton that i don’t want to feel but it’s glaringly there: the wreaths & flowers piling at the armoury on james street, the tributes from friends who knew him personally, the hamilton websites & news i follow now talking about my city, my war memorial, my streets. i love feeling connected to my hometown for its places and its people, but i don’t right now.

in ottawa i’ve been lucky enough to pick new places just for myself, that are unique & special, where i can write or be alone. the canal, obviously, the bank street bridge, the underpass, confederation park, never parliament (boring!), the war memorial. these places are more than just places to be alone to think or write: they’re mixed up for me in my memories, the days, nights, walks, conversations, coffees, kisses, confessions, lies, truths, friendships, drunken stumbles home that make up my actually personal life.

also, and this is even more personal, but my birthday being on remembrance day has allowed me (since being in ottawa) to take the day off & visit the war museum, the memorial, and spend some time, reflect on it personally, reflect on it not-personally. so seeing it blocked off is strange. i wish this didn’t sound so selfish, it’s just hard for me to not connect personally to things; it doesn’t mean i’m ignoring the rest of it.

“the nice thing about the war
memorial is that
there are no voices, you
can’t hear a word”

(august 2011)

memorial

details-not-feelings word cloud

i made a little word cloud the day after the tour ended, the thursday, after waking up late and so slowly making my way through a few cups of coffee. last night i transferred it to cardstock & added some colour. there are things i forgot to include, and things i didn’t include because they were maybe just a little too personal, but overall i feel like it’s a pretty decent summary of those five days in the accord.

five-collage-jesslyn-delia

Jeff Blackman has been maintaining the tour website since day one, and he continues to add to it although the tour itself is technically over. it’s still strange to think, we did it.

i’ve already written about the tour (more than once), i know, but it’s going to keep happening. if i’m boring you to death with it then please, before you’re completely sick of it, visit Justin Million’s & Cameron Anstee’s websites to read what they had to say after #ithappened.

the more i think about it the better i think of it, the fonder i look back on it, and i wonder how much stronger (or not) those feelings will get. reading & being published in Five alongside these people is enormous for me. i can’t stop re-reading their work, going over their words and remembering their voices. i never expected, before this tour, to have such a powerful shared experience with other readers. you read with other readers, and you read with your friends, and it’s a good time, it’s fun and exciting, maybe you’re nervous, or they are, maybe not, maybe it means something or maybe it doesn’t.

now it’s something else. it’s like i could read anywhere at any time and still have these feelings (/people) with me, the things we had each night before the readings started, sitting at tables drinking beers together, sorting it all out.

as Cameron so eloquently put it, “the best part of it all was getting to listen to you night after night.” damn you, Cameron, putting thoughts into words.

it happened.

Photo 2014-10-16, 12 29 14 PM

i’m at a complete loss for words. i know that sounds ridiculous on a writing blog, but i’m okay with it. “okay with it” doesn’t even begin to sum up what i’m going through right now. i’m drained, inspired, exhausted, overwhelmed with thoughts, and feeeelings, and i need, need, need to write. i’m going to try to force my loss of words into actual words, which means that i don’t really know how much sense this will make. the last thing i want is to get all gushy here, but just so you’re warned: i’m gonna get a bit gushy.

we wrapped up the An Accord of Poets tour on wednesday night in peterborough. it was the best imaginable ending to the four days leading up to it, the year+ of planning behind it, and all the words that were written and said in advance of it. i’ve been asked for my #1 favourite moment from the tour, and really all i can say is that day/night. we went for dinner before the reading and it just felt so final, but still so exciting; it felt that there was so much left even though it was mostly over. we talked about some of the things we’d experienced during our time on the road, our readings, our nights out, our moments at the al purdy A frame & grave site. just being there, toasting to our tour, sharing a last meal, and then taking the evening to go over our words, sign books for one another, drink together, and prepare for the drive home, was enough to sum it up for me (sadly rachael was not there for this portion of the tour, but she was of course there in spirit).

i went into this tour knowing that i would come away from it closer somehow to these people. for me that’s a really big deal, & a lot of people might not get that but i know that they get that. of course we’ve been friends for years, and we still are, but it really is sort of breakfast club. or i feel like it’s sort of breakfast club. but BETTER, because poetry.

ottawa was overwhelming. it was particularly meaningful for me that our home base friends were in the room, some family, and most importantly our partners. they have been impressively patient & supportive, and it was truly something special to have them there before & during our opening night. montreal gave me a few moments i don’t yet know how to begin processing. the reading was a good one, but it was also lovely to meet new people, wander the streets for booze, stand smoking in another city, come & go from the hotel, and just simply be with these people.

i can’t talk about the A frame in this blog post.

toronto was a night of change for me. the room was packed, and filled with some of the best people i’ve ever known. seeing some my oldest friends in the world did a lot for me, and i appreciate it. the readings that night were incredible. these people inspire me consistently. and just the four of us going back to the house at the end of the night was one of the highlights of the whole tour for me, although i wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly why.

peterborough itself, the reading i mean, was a wonderful way to end the tour. having justin as our host, welcoming dave emery to read with us, jeff entertaining the hell out of the room, and cameron taking on the task of briefly summing up the tour before he read. and my voice shaking at the end, only because it needed to, not because of nerves (imagine nerves on the last night), but because of what was happening, and because it was ending, and because i had to pee, and because i’m not allowed to cry during my readings (perhaps the strictest tour rule), so i had to settle for letting my voice shake. & none of this even begins to touch on the full day: book browsing, zoo browsing, forced photos, highway driving, jeff, cameron, justin, patio drinking.

this doesn’t seem like enough, and it seems like too much, but whatever. i will be dealing with post-tour thoughts for a long, long time.

i’ve already said it, but thank you again to my tourmates Cameron, Rachael, Jeff, and Justin. i love you all. (i told you it would get gushy.)

after.

after it
(all), faucet that
cascades instead of
pours, and more,

i try to savour, also tried,
every moment

in the end the
cigarettes died
out right in my hand,
and then the rain came

in haste i wrote three pages, notes
for going nowhere

i bet you say that, or you
don’t (to everyone)

in the end i wrote three pages
but not enough, enough
to fill a basement or
the back seat
of a car

enough,
and also not

in haste i tried to savour
every moment