She Forgot to Pay the Bills by Aysha Anwar

In this thought-provoking piece Aysha explores the obsessive mentality of a lonely girl, who fights to find love from the world but forgets to find love for herself.

She Forgot to Pay The Bills

because what is little light lady without
the high five
the thumbs up
the smirk
the company
the nod of approval she gets from you?

you see?

little light lady wants you to love her.
little light lady has learned how to make you love her.
little light lady has created a step by step list that little light lady’ll use to get you to love her:

First, she’ll agree with everything you say
Second, she’ll listen to your favourite songs, watch your favourite shows
Third, she won’t tell you how much she hates them
Fourth, she’ll drive you to work, to school, to the grocery store
Fifth, she’ll give you the aux cord
Sixth, she’ll cry when you cry, laugh when you laugh, punch when you punch
Seventh, she’ll give your space when you need it, come back when your space is full
Eighth,
Ninth,
Tenth,

it works every time.

little light lady has gotten so good at
giving and giving and giving her light,
everyone has gotten so good at
taking and taking and taking and taking and taking and taking and taking it.

its a system, she says
can’t argue with the system.

but light leaves her with every breath,
escapes through her chrysalis by the second,
it darkens her smile her eyes her body when she gets home,
when she’s alone.

little light lady is now
little lady.

her cheeks so cold,
her heart so slow,
her legs so numb.

she sits quiet,
sits still.

still, little lady wants you to love her.

because what is little lady if not the high five she gets from you?

and it’s not sunny today.
and it’s snowing outside, the kind that shuts down the roads.
and it’s lonely here, the kind that makes you mad.

and the lights, they’ve just gone out.

she forgot to pay the bills.

 

 

 

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The Universe of Us

I sawed a circle into my carpet last night. Clean through.
Choppy, choppy at best. It was more of a squircle with
a branch but never mind that. Through this branchy
squircle hole was not our stainless steel applianced
kitchen, but outer space. Real outer space, with the planets and
comets and all that spacey stuff. The entire universe lived beneath
my bedroom floor becoming thousands upon thousands of
flickering, scintillating stars in an offbeat waltz
with two left feet that bobbled and flamed and
oh the moon.
Let me tell you about the moon.
It nestled itself in the left corner of my squircle branch
rotating calmly, steadily.
A metronome serving as white noise, a mother
winking at the stars. I release this wooden fishing rod
through the squircle and into space. Into the oblivion.
I’m not much of a fisherman but once the string
pulled down I reeled in the tiniest of twinkling stars and placed it
inside a woven basket. I laughed to myself which is always so
embarrassing but I laughed until I captured
tens of hundreds of stars of varying
shape and luminosity until my voice scratched and stomach cramped.
I collected little pieces of the universe until
my fingers grew sore and my eyes heavy and my cheek fell to the
jagged gap in my floor. I slept soundly next to the stars
that night. A sugar-coated girl alone with space, wrapped in darkness,
hypnotized by the metronome of the moon.
To be honest, I actually just saw our stainless steel
applianced kitchen through that branchy squircle
and my parents will hate me for the chasmal
void I’ve left in my carpeted floor, but never mind that.
This is a story, a lullaby,
an every night whisper for my favorite insomniac
and I will continue to carve this floor
to show her pieces of the universe as long as I live.

by: Madelyn Grace

Pretty Dolls by Michelle Moreira

Michelle is a second year student in the English program at Ryerson. Michelle’s insightful look at the differences between being rich and being wealthy takes an important stand against money amounting to more than personality. Thank you for your submission, Michelle!

Pretty Dolls

The wealthy
Like their cars and their toys, where only the
Wealthy can afford.
With their wealthy make-up and wealthy lives,
Where their children go to
Wealthy schools and speak to other wealthy children.
So they learn more things
About the wealthy, and how to look
Perform
Speak
Walk
Like the wealthy.
They all crawl back to their big houses
Where they dream of more things
Wealthy
And fail to rest.
And you and I,
I write about you, not them.
I write about the rich. The rich
In love.
The rich in kindness, integrity
Devotion
Passion
Individuality.
Where we all come together at a bar at 55

And talk about our rich dreams.
To travel, to learn
To live.
And so we learn how to walk
Talk
Think
Drink
Like those who are rich in life.

“Crying in Paris” by Lannii-Lee Pettiford

Ryerson student, Lannii-Lee Pettiford’s collection of six photos, “Crying in Paris”, was titled after the photographer’s emotional response to losing the majority of the 35mm images shot during a full day of touring the city. These six photos were all that could be salvaged from the roll within the film camera after the undeveloped film was accidentally exposed to sunlight upon its removal.

Rather than spoiling the photos, the exposure added a pleasing new element to the subjects captured, giving more dimension to the images rather than taking away from them.

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Ten

– Cree Toner

She was twenty-three years old and home for the first time in almost ten months. Home was home because she was born here, because over there was where she had her first kiss and because she could still remember all the names of her elementary school teachers; it could not be home anymore because she had to make herself small again to fit back here, because three hours away in an apartment that her mother would have called “deplorably small” was her girlfriend and their cat, a string of Christmas lights and a wall papered with lists of things that the two of them were going to do together one day: Find a recipe for really good Béarnaise sauce. Visit that ice hotel in Amsterdam. Make something that has never existed before.

She had made it as far as driving to her house and she could see the tree in the living room. For a moment, she remembered Christmas mornings past that all sort of blended together into a warm blur- wrapping paper strewn across the carpet, mugs of powdery hot chocolate and the flimsy paper crowns they wore at the dinner table.

She could still feel her mittened hand clasped in her father’s gloved one as he led her up the icy steps of the church. She and her family were at service every Sunday and she was always surprised by how many more people came for Christmas Eve mass. “These people are not true followers of God, Katherine,” her dad would whisper in her ear as she sat perched on his knee, in the pew right at the front that was theirs every week. “Yes, Daddy,” she would try and steady her heart against these bad people. When she was very young, she loved to watch her father’s sermons. She loved the way everybody listened to him. She loved that sometimes, if he was in the right mood, she could catch his eye and he would wink at her. Once after service she had asked her father if he was God. For a moment, anger flashed across his face, and then he laughed and laughed.

Katherine had turned the radio off in the car and she watched as her mother plugged in the lights of the tree and fiddled with the cards strung up on the wall. She couldn’t go in, not yet anyway, and so instead she was in line at a coffee shop. It was the same one she went to every day in high school; by the time she was a sophomore, the baristas all knew her by name. “It’s Katherine,” they would say with a smile, and often they’d have her drink ready before she’d even ordered it. Now she didn’t recognize anybody there and nobody recognized her. She couldn’t decide if the anonymity was delicious or depressing.

The girl behind the counter called out, “Next,” and it took Katherine a moment to realize she was speaking to her. The girl was probably sixteen, wearing purple eyeshadow and a thick gold necklace. “Do you know what you want?” she asked pointedly. “Um.” The girl looked at Katherine expectantly. “I’ll just get a medium latte.” She called out “Next” before Katherine had finished paying.

Katherine moved to the end of the bar and watched as a middle-aged woman steamed a little pitcher of milk. The woman wiped the steam wand off with a green cloth, poured the milk into a mug and then began steaming another pitcher. Katherine felt something move beside her and looked down to see a boy, no older than three. His hair was blonde and he was resting his chin on top of the counter. “Woah,” he said every time the woman restarted the process of steaming the milk.

The woman handed Katherine her latte. Though she ordered it to go, she went to a chair by the front window and sat down. The paper cup was warm against her hands and she held it until just before the moment when it would begin to hurt. She sat it down, cooled her hands on the leather of the chair, then picked it up again.

She remembered being seventeen, sitting on the back deck with her mother, Abigail. It was early June, a few days after her high school graduation. Katherine was digging her fingernails into the jean material of her shorts and promising herself that by the time she counted to ten she would release her fingernails and be honest with her mother.

“Patricia called this morning, sweetheart. She wants to know if you’re planning on going back to camp.”

Ten. “Um. I don’t know, Mom. I thought you said I could be done after last summer?”

“You know how much it means to your dad.” Her church, her father’s church, had been running its summer camp since Katherine was three. She’d been going every season since, as a camper for ten years and a counsellor for four more. At some point between those fourteen summers, church camp became another bullet point on the list of things Katherine was bad at. They played capture the flag and decorated flowerpots with paper crosses and doves. At the end of each session, they had a service with all the campers. For these services, her father wore jeans and a shirt with the camp logo on it and a baseball cap. He said things like, “Jesus is actually not that different from you guys!” and, “The coolest thing about God is how much He loves us.” Katherine was thirteen and painting a mural on the side of the church garage the first time she heard the word “dyke”, muttered under the breath of some boy who was cleaning his paintbrush beside her. At home that night, Katherine and her father ate ham sandwiches on the picnic table where she and Abigail now sat. She remembered the sun was warm on her bare legs and her father let her have two bowls of mint chocolate chip ice cream after supper. “Today was so great, Katie Cat.”

Nine. Eight. She closed her eyes; she was eleven years old, sitting cross-legged on her bedroom floor with her best friend Valerie, their lips pressed together; she was fifteen and in the cafeteria with her friends, scrambling to make up the names of boys she knew she was meant to like; she opened her eyes.  

Seven. Her mother nudged Katherine in a way that was meant to be playful. “Patricia said they’ve had a lot of boys sign up. Maybe a little summer romance before you go to school?” Abigail’s eyes were equal parts bright with the joyous prospect of her only daughter finding a nice boy to fool around with for the next two months and with the deep-seated anxiety that this would never be the life her daughter would choose.

Six. Five. It always confused her how people could have so many contradictions within themselves, like a riddle her grandfather once wrote on the inside of a birthday card for her; “I went to the pictures tomorrow/I took a front seat at the back/I fell from the pit to the gallery/And broke a front bone in my back/A lady she gave me some chocolate/I ate it and gave it her back/I phoned for a taxi and walked it/And that’s why I never came back.” Her parents were the kindest people she had ever known. Four days of the week, her mother made dinner for the widowed man who lived in the apartment building at the end of their street. Her father mentored a group of foster kids after school on Tuesdays and sometimes on the weekend they’d come over and have pizza and play Katherine’s old Mario Kart games. In the front hall of the house they had a wooden plaque that read Love Lives Here. And yet they could be so hard and relentlessly unforgiving in a way that frightened her. They said cruel things but disguised them in kind words and they loved everybody, except for the people they absolutely hated.

Four. “Mom, I-”

“You could go on a few dates, at least. It doesn’t have to be anything serious and that way you’ll know what to expect at college… you won’t end up making any mistakes. You’re a good girl.” Abigail smiled.

Three. Two. “I know you and Dad… I know that-”

Abigail reached out and pried Katherine’s hand away from her thigh. She ran her fingers over the tips of her daughter’s, the way she used to when Katherine was little. She was silently pleading with Katherine to keep everything the same. So Katherine smiled and she swallowed everything she wanted to say, and said instead, “One more summer might be okay.” It was a balancing act, one she had been trying to maintain for as long as she could remember. It was the art of existing without ever existing fully.

Eight weeks later, Katherine would call her mother from her shoebox of a dorm room. She told Abigail, in the gentlest way she knew how, that she was not, and could never be, the kind of daughter her mother wanted. “I’ve known since I was eight,” she said into the phone, eyes closed tightly even though she was two hundred kilometres away from home. “But you always wear dresses,” was the first thing Abigail said. “Your father can never know,” was the last.

Katherine’s cell phone, tucked in the pocket of her coat, vibrated against her leg. The blonde boy was still standing at the counter. She could not remember what it felt like to be enchanted by the most ordinary things, though she could remember spending an entire afternoon in the backyard with her parents searching for four leaf clovers and so she knew at one time she might have been able to listen, over and over again, to the paper-tearing sound of foaming milk with the same intensity that he was.

Katherine thought about that girl sometimes, the girl who sat on her father’s lap and hated an entire church full of people she knew nothing about, the girl who agreed to hide herself so things could stay simple for her mother. She wondered if that girl would recognize the Katherine who held her girlfriend’s hand in the mall, the Katherine who hadn’t had a Thanksgiving at home in three years.

Her phone vibrated again and Katherine promised herself that by the time she counted to ten she would stand up, get in her car and go home.

“I am” by Joe Joyce

With the mention of sunny days and mysterious love interests, Joe Joyce crafts a poem that’s as sweet as it is haunting.

I am

I am walking the appalachian trail
in pennsylvania
and i imagine there is a woman
standing by a church
and it is very green
and she is eating a peach

she hasn’t got much
in the way of face
but her eyes tell me everything
i need to know
and for an impossible sunlit moment
i am in love

she disappears among the trees
and i am left alone
without answers
in the fresh air
and the warm,
warm sun

Why I Still Drink Coffee by Kris Dionio

A personal significance is explored and reflected upon in this poem, bringing up the idea that even someone’s everyday essential, coffee, can mean the most to them in many ways.

 

Why I still drink coffee

The doctor told me to stop drinking

coffee, but there was something endearing

about the way my hands trembled

 

–it reminded me of when we first met.

We used to sit in cafés

with nothing between us,

 

except the table

with two paper cups laid on top. The white

cup clasped in your pale, rough hands.

 

You and I aren’t together anymore,

 

so, I drink

my coffee by myself. And with

the soft shaking of my trembling hands

 

I pretend you’re still

here.

Local Festival: Witchfest North “Out of the Broom Closet”

To get the city into the spirit of Halloween month an event centered on our local witch community is here!

Starting on October 5th and ending on the 31st,  Monica Bodirsky, WitchCity Arts, WIMA Toronto and Lady Betty Jane Ware host an art festival for all women who identify as Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans. It is meant as a safe space in which everyone can share their creative project with others in the community and the public through various events around the city of Toronto.

Map of events
Map design and illustration by Daniel Rotsztain.

The festival was influenced and inspired by the repeal of section 365 of the Criminal Code of Canada, a law which stated witchcraft as illegal. Monica Bordirsky took this as an opportunity to come up with a place for artists who are a part of the witch community to showcase their exquisite work.

Sara's Soaps and Candles
Soy candle display by Sara’s Soaps and Candles at the Wicked WITCHcrafters Fair.

Most recently from October 13th to 15th the festival took over the Artscape Youngplace for three art and craft themed events. The first on Friday, Lucky Divination Parlour which was focused on displaying artists as well as free tarot and oracle readings.

Saturday was taken up with the Wicked WITCHcrafters Fair, a collection of around 20 artists showing off their work, and finished pieces available for purchase. Vendors included were alchemists, traditional artists, illustrators, authors, jewelers,  and one of a kind collectors. All were excited to be present and extremely open to discussing their work as well as process. Most pieces on display were related to the theme of witches, pagans, and women in general.

Finally on Sunday a workshop with Monica Bordirsky and Lisa East called Painting the Goddess focused on spell casting. Participants were also instructed on painting their own stone for the workshop, costing $10 to join.

Throughout the rest of October the festival will continue to travel throughout the city, with all events featuring local talent in the spotlight. Before the end of the month there will be an oracle as well as tarot cards workshop, discussions with a witch panel, musical performances and much more. Check out Witchfest North on Facebook for a full event list.  If you’re feeling the witching spirit check out some of the future gatherings coming up!

https://www.witchfestnorth.org/

29 Years

Tristan Calayan

Sitting in a window, the breezing city plays

The phone wrangles my brain.

There is only one shadow that I see.

I felt the wall lean away, I missed the depth of your voice.

To crack you up, I made myself cry.

I could feel the sun wither my skin,

From the moment that I saw you,

We could’ve been good friends or another.

You had to move somewhere farther,

With the sunshine on your back.

If only, I could take you back, to when I first saw you.

For now, I’m tired and wired to ruin too easily.

You know I dreamed about you,

For 29 years before I saw you.

You know I dreamed about you,

I missed you for 29 years.