one-hundred-sixty-five.

fortune,
not in a pay cheque.
summer,
on a sunday morning subway ride.

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one-hundred-sixty-four.

sitting on the curb
just to feel the sun.
eyes closed,
no headphones.
a reminder that the heat,
the brightness
and the way your eyes flutter
when the light coats your centre
are real,
unlike the typed out problems
in your inbox,
explaining tasks to complete
with weak
direction.
something the giant star in the sky
would never even think of doing.

one-hundred-sixty-three.

i don’t have one identity.
i am instead a layer of multifaceted bricks,
each level a different chapter,
each hue a new idea,
each bump a unique thought
and each shade a valuable step.
i am a combination of passions and possibilities,
i am not a static two-dimensional wall.
i can take risks, feel regret
and still carry on.
i can be flourishing personally
and still want growth professionally.
i can feel too tired, yet content,
and strive for a harmonious status quo.
i can be happy with what i’ve built
and still manifest a steeper climb.

mantra.

one-hundred-sixty-one.

wise:
not for the letters at the end of your name,
but for the self-reflection and questions:
“why does this experience cause me _____?”

blame. shame. pain. gain.

one-hundred-sixty.

a long drive
way into the trees,
so high the sky
is barely visible
until the break in between.
the stream trickling
under the paved bridge
to an open body of aqua,
turquoise-green,
fresh, rocky water.
a quick glimpse of the scene
before you speed by
and the forest looks like a blurry photo,
again.
not enough time to check if the
river was running dry,
but enough to recognize
it was flowing fine.
at first glance.
at first probe.
at first inquisition.

the passenger’s seat.

one-hundred-fifty-eight.

that sound is either
the wind gushing between glass panelling,
or a truck whizzing on the highway.
each possible when living 10 floors
up in the sky.

though, when that one robin grips
onto the balcony,
tweeting without limit,
and the spiderwebs bloom
from unit to unit,
it’s impossible to misinterpret
that the season is changing.

the sun will stay a little longer and,
the afternoons in the warm living room,
with the walls tinted yellow,
will become evenings.
mid-mornings by the window,
will be become wake up calls.

i don’t know what i’d do without
seasonal reminders
that something better –
as comforting as houseplants kissing
sunny floor corners –
is never that far away.

one-hundred-fifty-five.

how do you become confident in a name?
one you were assigned at birth?
how do you allow it to roll off your tongue,
without the fear of how others
will automatically perceive you?

tell me.
i don’t know what that’s like.

one-hundred-fifty-four.

how hard it must be for you
to dress yourself in your best,
each day,
thinking your charm, broad shoulders
and your expensive taste
will make the world bend their knees,
let go of personal beliefs
and fall into you and over you,
fall for whatever
you want us to believe is truth.

how hard it must be for you
to laugh and flirt out of error,
to give up your seat,
and be the “gentleman,”
simply to bypass glass ceilings,
that were never even installed
for people like you.

you’re not used to people like me,
questioning your activities,
encouraging humility,
so you spend more time wishing me
a good morning, a lovely weekend,
thinking it’s working,
thinking you’re as smart as your suit.

a crooked smile,
a few shiny teeth,
but you still haven’t figured out
that while i’m sipping on tea,
saying, “have a good night,”
i’m furiously analyzing
how you secured a job
at a higher level than me.

you invest in your business relationships
the same way you buy your belts,
leather stitched together
by an underpaid worker
in a third world country,
all to make you feel important.

and you’ve never had to use your brain
to succeed.

one-hundred-fifty-one.

untouched and stale,
crusty and undesirable.
hard pink icing
bulking,
on chalky chocolate-chips.

cream cheese filling, once gooey,
a bold, cold contrast,
now smushed like the
moody clementine peel
renting the space
at the bottom of your bag.

this is what you sound and feel like,
when you don’t invest in
connection, representation.
an unwanted, deserted cake.
a slab of dry, choking dough.
a wall of rotting egg yolks.

you had the potential to empower,
until you let it slip:
you prefer titles and looks,
like sprinkles and candles,
over impact.

you prefer the sound of your voice,
like a singing, cringing hallmark card,
over growth and working smart.

still, even though you’re deep,
in the shallow cardboard box,
opened by colleagues just curious
enough to see what you are,
you’re a mockery of a treat,
and yet the system says
you’ll forever make more than me.

gender pay gap.