Purple Toothed Grin

Month: July, 2014

Mean streets no more

The city becomes softer
when you have a baby:
sullen strangers smile
and say hello,
the wind gets playful
with discarded newspapers,
and the unrelenting potholes,
unfazed by our tax dollars,
lull my baby to sleep.

mopping up really only succeeds at making the soap dirty

I used to get my news from the newspapers, drink down the destruction with my morning coffee, the stinging paper cuts little reminders throughout the day that all is not well in the world and the quick-fix band-aids sloughed off in public restrooms as I would try to wash away the darkness with gloppy pink soap only to get humanity all over my hands again when I opened the bathroom door.

Actually, none of that is true. While my family read the first section back to front, I always skipped straight to the funnies.

But they have an app for that and now, when I go to pick up my phone, I do it slowly as if it might explode, shattering into a trillion sharp little pieces, taking my two soft hands with it, catching me in the eye, lodging in there so deep that I never see the good in the world again without seeing the bad.

But that is a virtual scenario; unreal. There is a very good chance it won’t happen to me.

So I just turn on the radio in the living room and let the daily death toll come in waves, crashing against my white walls, leaving salt stains on the couch cushions until I get my sea legs (and, really, isn’t that is the scariest part of all?) and I eat a my sandwich only half noticing the metallic taste and then I wade into the kitchen to stare deep into my fridge until the food rots, cucumbers moulting out of their plastic and pooling in the bottom of the crisper, cuts of meat bleeding onto the shelves turning grey and growing fur as if trying to come back to life as something totally worthy of this world and I just wait for cold eyes to blink back at me and for the fridge light to finally go out.

Only it doesn’t.

Some Unsolicited Advice Concerning Baby Books

Books cannot contain a baby
and if you try to make them fit,
pressing them between the pages
like a blossom, uprooted…

your neighbours will probably call social services on you.

Dreaded Motherhood*

Seven and a half months later
(only eight would have been scarier):
the comb as toothless as my daughter
and the bathroom tiles, hairier.

*the long overdue conclusion to Dreaded Winter

On our anniversary

For D

Today
I wrote you a poem
and when you get home
I’ll watch you read it
and I’ll lick my sappy words
off of your fingers
one
at
a
time
their sweetness mixing with the
sweat and the dirt of
your long day
and I’ll let the bittersweet taste
of another year gone by
rest on my tongue
before I say I love you
and tenderly explain to you
that this is the gift.

Shakespearean Haiku

The crowd fidgeted
expecting more of the same;
Cordelia spoke.

Interior Design

My mother could work miracles
with nothing but a roll of wallpaper:

she decorated the house and my father
slowly disappeared into the background

(though it didn’t hurt that she picked out all
his shirts). For months I searched for him,

finding false hope in every unmatched seam;
running my fingers up and down the walls,

feeling for him in every ripple, every bubble;
pulling and pulling and pulling at the

corners peeled away with time
and pick pick picking at those

stubborn enough to stay stuck. One day
I was sure that I’d found him but it was

just my mother’s shadow on the wall.
The very next day the room was painted a

bright summer yellow; my father never
wore yellow, not even in the rain.

Maybe a sonnet will put you to sleep…

Tonight I sang you my last lullaby
as you are getting heavy in my arms
you have to learn to close those little eyes
knowing that you won’t come to any harm

and understand that though you cannot see
your loving parents sit in the next room
and listen through their hands, attentively,
to your expressions of impending doom

and each of them, at different times, does stir
ready to cradle you til you slumber
but does not want to be the saboteur,
to be the censured one to encumber

your milestone — to sleep the whole night through.
Oh, fuck it, mama’s here to sing to you.

Writing Process Blog Hop

A great big thank you to the talented Judy Dykstra-Brown for nominating me to participate in this blog hop. Her poems at Life Lessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown never cease to amaze me and she may, single-handedly, be the reason that abs make a comeback in my post-pregnancy life: her poems are the perfect blend of insight and quirkiness. I’m also pretty sure she would kill it in a freestyle battle. Thanks for the daily chuckles, Judy!!

And now, questions answered:

1) What am I working on?

As usual, I have multiple projects in the works (admittedly, some more active than others): I am collaborating on a pitch for a television show with two other talented ladies; cross your fingers for some fresh CanCom, folks (FYI: it stands for Canadian Comedy and, yes, I coined it. Just now). I’m also working on a blog with a brilliant artist/welder/craftsperson-extraordinaire combining my fancy words with her fancy pictures to create magical worctures (coined that one too. Yup, I’m on a roll. Just please don’t tell her I call them that). I also co-write a sketch comedy blog for that niche market that wants to read their sketches instead of watching them on YouTube. They’re out there somewhere. Honest.

BUT, with all that said, I think that the most truthful answer to the question is: making time to write. Since April’s NaPoWriMo I have been writing poetry on this blog largely as a way to stay sane while motherhood puts me through the wringer.  Poetry gives me freedom to dig deep but to do it at my own pace. In my own style. Quietly while my daughter sleeps.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think it differs only insofar as it is mine: my voice, my word-vomit, my distillations and ruminations. I guess, at times, we are quick to categorize poetry as lofty but I definitely work to keep mine playful. I love wordplay and I embrace the pun. While the poems might not be overtly funny, I like to think that there is something in them that might make a reader grin. It’s likely that because I have focused on writing comedy for the past couple of years that I now habitually write with a punchline in mind. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t but it does keep my writing moving forward.

My poems are all works-in-progress. My voice changes as frequently as diapers in these parts. Sometimes I think that I should be searching for my voice but I’m pretty sure that my voice will find me (being all non-corporeal, it has the advantage, after all).

3) Why do I write what I do?

Motherhood unleashed a fury of emotions, as it is apt to do. Given the 24/7 nature of the whole deal, writing allows me much needed, tiny little moments to reflect on my life, to escape into this mind, to filter out all the baby talk and reconnect with my grown-up voice. I’ve always been afraid of losing myself in motherhood as if some Kafka-esque (sorry) transformation would take place and I would wake up as some entirely different person, someone my friends wouldn’t recognize or understand. But writing poetry has kept me grounded throughout these early months of motherhood and claiming these moments allow me to be more true to myself and consequently more present with my child. It also gives me a couple of things to talk about that don’t involve poop.

4) How does my writing process work?

My writing process used to involve a lot of reading about writing and thinking about writing but I can (finally!!) add the act of writing to the list. Since the birth of my little girl I find myself sitting in dark rooms, wandering through the cluttered hallways of my mind (sadly mirrored by the cluttered hallways of my post-move apartment) finding words and sentences and notions coming to the surface. If I am lucky enough to have a my phone or a pen nearby (and a free hand), I will jot down a few thoughts then and there and then if my cat-nappin’ babe decides to snooze I will rush to the kitchen (simultaneously denying the existence of laundry, dishes and my nagging bladder while pretending there is something delicious cooking on the stove) and I will write like the wind.  Right now there is very little revision involved since my moments are few and far between but I’m sure I will attack a lot of them with a red pen at a later date.

Whew! That’s a whole lot of first-personing! So, let me pass this blog-hoppin’ torch on to two talented women that I am lucky enough to know out there (here?) in the real world:

Notes on a Napkin: What were they thinking?
Tamara Lagrandeur is a funny lady.  In fact, I’ll wager that in a couple of years, she will be THE funny lady. We met in a waiting room while applying into a university playwriting program and instantly bonded over our distinctly non-thespian ways and our mutual assessment that we were the only normal ones in the bunch (sorry to all the wonderful weirdos we’ve since opened our hearts and minds to). She was my rock throughout theatre school (well, more aptly, she was my pebble. She is a wee one, after all). She is co-creator of Notes on a Napkin: what were we thinking (full disclosure: I am the other Napkin Writer). I also had the pleasure of being stage-manager for two productions of her hilarious one-woman play “The Motherhouse” that can be found in Out on a Limb: Short Plays by New Playwrights.

Project Alphabet: London Eats.
Joanna Haber has super powers: her writing makes people salivate. And laugh. And miss her terribly. Those are three pretty rad powers. Her reviews of the London food scene manage to make me hungry for dinner (five hour time difference notwithstanding). Her writing is as insightful as it is delicious and she marinates every post in her obvious love of food, exploration and friends. Ever the traveller, what could be a simple restaurant review transforms into a mini geography lesson giving us a little amuse-bouche of all the places she has been.  She is one smart cookie.

Let this Blog Hop continue!! Tamara and Joanna will post their blog hop entries in the next week or two.  Visit their blogs to learn about their writing processes and stay for their wit and charm. You won’t regret it.

Somewhere

Salted kisses swell
lovers shimmer in the distance
clothes pepper the sand