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.

Advertisements

one-hundred-forty-nine.

the only thing missing in this neighbourhood
is a thrift store;
a collection of goods and clothes and stories
from lives before today’s.
the smell of vintage perfume
and baby powder fabric softener –
like the scents in an old blanket
soaked in the thread by the body
of its previous cuddler.
cleaned for years with white vinegar,
lavender extract.
now on a rack for sale
to start another chapter,
to kick off round two.

bloor west village.

one-hundred-forty-eight.

crunchy steps up a hill,
a partly snowy sidewalk.
no headphones today,
enjoying the sounds of the stray bird,
the feeling of flurries beneath my feet.
in between the shade and light,
like window blinds.

a change of scenery. a january afternoon.

one-hundred-forty-five.

“on which nights are you restless,
tuned into every toc of the clock
and every scratch of the cat?”

well, on the nights my eyes are closed,
but i can see through the lids
and listen to every crack and creek.
well, on the nights when i can feel
the draft from the vent
like waves from the sea.
well, on the nights when i am laying,
but my brain is moving
on its own two feet.

one-hundred-forty-three.

i thought i wouldn’t get through you.
i was stuck at the start, in a pool of hot
tub water, stuck to one of those water jets.
you were attacking me —
or was i letting other people do that?

my friends said, “your eyes are dark,”
and, “i’ve never seen you this low.”
i was drowning in that pool of hot water,
i was stuck there,
dreading the air free from my bed.

i learned: i have to be strategic
about what i give myself to.
i love so hard and so deep that
when i’m forced to give something up,
i crack more than a broken joint.

i learned: i define, “career,”
and my job doesn’t define me.

i learned: i can still do good and do well,
without being hollowed in hell,
surrounded by people who won’t lift me up,
who will tell me i’m failing, only because
it will guarantee them the raise
and me: the same job with bad pay.

i learned: you’re just a year and you aren’t forever,
but with lessons
and hurdles
and journeys uncovered.

one-hundred-forty-one.

“does ‘corporate’ just mean a place
where people talk about their juice cleanses
and the number of times they almost ate a donut?”
it sounds like it,
so i will sit here redefining the word,
informing my colleagues that i ate a donut on sunday,
filled with hazelnut cream.

one-hundred-forty.

once, a boy told our classmates we had done things we hadn’t
because i broke up with him.
he said i was good with my tongue;
though my tongue had never touched him
or his greasy braces.
we “dated” for a few weeks; i don’t count it.
when his lies didn’t catch on as fast as they could’ve,
he started telling people things that were really true:
“she has hairy arms. really hairy arms.”
someone pushed up the left arm of my green fleece uniform sweater
and said, “woah, he’s right.”
i waxed my arms for a long time,
naired them and scarred them,
got grounded for making the house smell like chemicals;
never wore t-shirts, either.
do you see what happens when we automatically
give boys more power?

one-hundred-thirty-five.

there are the smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.
there are the lights at night, twinkling brightly.
there are the snowflakes, sticking to rooftops,
’tis the season for coconut-chocolate and fried dough.

there too are the to-do lists and gift lists and naughty lists.
there too are the credit card bills and dinners you’d rather avoid.
there too are the busier streets and louder sounds.
’tis the season for questioning how and why we sprout,
energy levels low, no patience (no doubt).

one-hundred-thirty-four.

ninety-nine per cent wearing a scowl and fitted dress pants.
elbows crushed, close quarters.
a belly aching with hunger,
dreams of quiet, antsy to be home.
hoping for dim lights, a candle.
then, there is that one per cent,
seeking locked eye contact;
once secured, a soft smile.

riding the rocket with the one in the red pants.

one-hundred-thirty-three.

empty:
a slow drip from a mug on its side,
resting slightly over the edge of a table,
warm tea soaked up into a scratchy carpet;
nothing left to consume,
like a store after a sale,
tussled t-shirts and mismatched socks;
a headache pounding above my right eye,
my teeth aching from grinding their bones,
my whole body is exhausted;
repeating the words that burned,
my eyes retracing invisible scars,
a heavy tongue, a heavy breath:
awake.