cast iron from the Nordegg general store

I burnt my uncle’s hamburger tonight

The thick industrial smell swept over my tiny space for hours

Pasta ruined

Italian scorned

And now as I take a butter knife to the revered cast iron,

the sound of rusty pulleys

screeching train breaks

a heavy steel box being dragged across concrete

blacksmith spears clanging by the forge

black gasping into amber,

I think of it scraping your heels

ash bouquets adding texture to the shower floor

chafing until you too turn red

embryonic glisten

i punch sunflower oil

its all i have

into the skillet

a crumbling moon

toss it into hell to bake

i want you to touch it

i want you to wash it with suds

this pan of shit you picked up

in a mountain town of coal eyed ghosts

on a night you blew so cold

I slept in the car

it should have gone in your pile

during the sectioning of our accounts and limbs

but you have enough ferrous alloy

and your gait is hunched

and i am too light

On apps and romance

The last time I was single, Tinder didn’t exist. Which is hard to believe perhaps. It was 2011 and I would met new potential matches at parties through mutual friends or at the bars when the Journey song came on.

I met my last boyfriend outside my new place of employment when I moved north. We shared a newsroom for 9 months. The one before that was unfinished business from prom. Others I found accidentally on a Cuban trip, a late night at the wrong club, friends of friends at blurry birthday parties . . . It was all face-to-face. There wasn’t always honesty, but the run-ins were real.

Now, I can pick up my phone, reply to a message from a complete stranger and within the next few hours discover he suffers from whiskey dick, has a dislike of cigarettes and beer, is looking for “chill” and “fuckable” and wants to be entertained.

Hell no.

I don’t need you to quote Jane Austen. But there is absolutely no authenticity (or mystery or attraction or curiosity) in a blue bubble on a touchscreen that simply states: so what do you like in bed?

Again: we’re getting sex all wrong. I’m not a believer in marriage. And I certainly don’t hold true to abstinence. But yet again we’re cashing in on this consumerist, commercialization of an empty lifestyle. Order up a brunette with a six pack for free (might cost you a pizza and a pint), get what you want and get out. Scroll for more options. No effort required.

And I get Tinder is a meat market, according to the street. Match.com and OKCupid are where you go to “date.” Fine. But I’m not looking for a boyfriend. I am however looking for a connection.

How can you be doing anything but wasting time if there is no connection. And why are we all so centered on sex as a conversation topic … as an ice breaker even?

Trust me… I’m the one who goes into a detailed explanation on my journey to reclaim the word cunt when I’m at a dinner part… I have no beef talking about all sorts of lips and juices and orgasms and the like.

However, if you’ve never met me bro, don’t you dare think you are entitled to ask me what my favourite position is?

As if your favourite position with one partner transfers over easy-breezy to the next. As if sex is programmed and selfish and static. As if you know it all already.

Hey how about this? How about you curb your inquisitions based on preconceived notions of 21st century charm and “how best to puff my chest electronically” and why don’t we see if you’re brave enough to even allude to such subjects in person, over green tea, on Main Street, in the town we remember to walk around in now and then?

Bravery is sexy to me. Bravery and kindness and social and self awareness. I don’t really give a fuck if you can last a good 1.5 hours. Does anyone?

There is so much for to squeeze and taste out of meeting new people than just the physical.

And as for sex. Here, this is the cookie:

Sex is not a goddamn performance.

Sex should feel as natural as drinking water.

It should not require confidence.

Sex should happen, because the moment is ripe.

Ripening lips, ripening labia, ripening cock, ripening pupils, ripening state of being. Ripe and augmented and brimming. Your energy goes to your pumping heart, then to every external nerve, then to theirs, on fire.

You bask, roll, play in it. You sigh, moan, laugh.

It’s not about being “good in bed.”

It’s about being happy.

One should never worry if they’re doing it “correctly.” Sex is not factual. I don’t want your cookie-cutter sex, I don’t want your meticulously crafted, calculated, fool-proof fuck. I don’t want a show. I want you. Let your instincts, urges and whims define that. It’s enough.

What do most girls like? Forget about it. Statistics are meaningless when there’s only one. Hello, here’s me. Here’s you.

Don’t worry about taking it too slow. We got time. We got infinite rhythms, combinations, possibilities. Explore each fuck. Take our time. We can do a different one later.

Don’t worry about making me come. I’m here. Right where I want to be.

I am overwhelmed by wanting; you don’t have to convince me. I want you because I like you. So don’t put on a front. Don’t taint this.

I’m frustrated—it’s just authenticity I want.

It’s originality.

It’s passion.

It’s joy.

Don’t say that something I like is ugly. Don’t compare yourself to the rest. You will live and die with and within your experiences like everyone else. If someone thinks you are amazing, they are not wrong. Their universe is as real as any other; it is forged through perception.

I don’t care if you accidentally slammed my head into the wall, if you slipped out, if my arm cracked, if the delightful pressure of your wet lips on my anything made a silly sound. There is no right way and no wrong way.

“Good in bed,” what.

You’re good in my bed. I’m pleased you’re there. I feel it suits you.

Shove your technique. Let your memory swallow it. Fuck me like you’d fuck me, fuck me like you feel.

This isn’t a test.”

– Anonymous, from Tumblr

As for me. I got lucky on Tinder and did meet a great guy. We just didn’t really mesh when it was all said and done the way I know I can mesh. My last was magic. If I’m going to put myself out there again, it’s got to be above that.

So I’ve deleted my account. I need a little faith in people again. People away from their phones. And maybe that’s the thing; we’re all looking so hard for love or for good sex or a good friend, we’ve forgotten to look up and breathe.

My ex, who I met organically in -50 degrees C by mere chance, used to say “just love” when I would get distracted by small things.

He didn’t know much when it was all said and done. But that “just love” has always stuck with me.

We can’t even begin to do that on keyboards.

And while sure, Mr. Selfie King with the hipster beard and tats, you may just be after a good fuck… That’s surface level shit. The energy that gives you peace and fulfillment—no escaping that, that’s love. Not just heterosexual, heteronormative, romantic love. All different kinds of love. Love nonetheless. Say what you want to say but even those on Tinder are looking for something they’ve lost the capacity to articulate: that same feeling we get the in the shower when we’re done washing and just standing under the waterfall, eyes closer: closeness. Connection.

Day 23: #28daysofwriting

If you’re going to be a bridge burner

A mighty lumberjack who fells paper dolls’ legs

You better god damn well

Be an artist

You better be inking your crooked inclinations

Your well of a body

Your masked lips

Down in some sort of a permanent fashion

Oh my god, you are a waste.

Tonight I’m going over my poetry from the past six years to submit three to The New Quarterly by Friday. This #28daysofwriting challenge has truly been life changing and helped me navigate my soul work once again after such a sticky time.

Day 22: #28daysofwriting

I went home for the weekend for my younger sister’s birthday celebrations and neglected the challenge. Discussing tobacco farm love letters with my Grandmother seemed much more important. And it was. As well as holding my mother and changing my car battery with my father,

In his coveralls, walking in our snow-covered backyard, the world so pristine and insulated, I couldn’t help but smile. And feel at home. And healing.

It is one of the first times I’ve been close to been wholly at peace in a year and definitely since the demise of my relationship.

I’m on my way. And one thing I’m not is stuck. I’m not even miserable anymore. Or sad.

I would be sad if I’d lost a good man.

The difficult truth is I didn’t.

I have been reading of compatibility and psychological marriages. I’m still not sure what all happened that lead to my sink into self-loathing and dependability and control obsession and isolation. I’m not sure who is to blame more though I know we were both at fault for failing each other. I’m sure it doesn’t matter. All is part of the greater picture.

And we learned so much.

I’m stronger, wiser.

I know not what to do again.

And how important my identity is.

How to stay true to myself, even in the massive tidal wave of romantic love.

Now, it’s time to sleep.

There has been too little sleep these past six months.

Day 18: #28daysofwriting

I am an over-waterer. I am always brimming.

Take you down to the banks,

Where your hair turns into kelp

And I into a barnacle on your sole.

I trespass on the Black Sea

sinking ships I am so heavy

Only to explode in the ozone

after that unbearable lightness Tomas talked of.

I drill the most delicate holes in beings

In absurd, hard-to-reach places

Planning to bore in with the level on my hip and hang my art

Only people are not trees

They clumsily bruise roots and pull up, take to the blades

To avoid baring it all come winter.

Woodpeckers are going extinct.

I emptied to comb the universe with you

But you took one look at the gases

The implosions

Compressions

And hiked back west into hills where you can’t even feel the ripples of your own syllables.

I picked up my bones

Made a raft

Went for a baptismal swim

Weighed down by all these sweet cedar woodchips.

I will count my way back into a forest.

I have 10,000 hearts

All those aortas sighing

Blood goes round and round.

Day 17: #28daysofwriting

Ok.

So I know what went wrong on my part. I lost my identity and I lost my happiness and you are not to blame for that.

I centered my entire happiness on you, and that was wrong.

I lost myself because I lost my hobbies. I lost my friends because we moved. I had to do everything with you. I wanted to do everything with you, because you were my only good friend there. But I didn’t have to. I shouldn’t have.

Things to always do for my own independent happiness:

– drinks with friends

– hosting dinner parties

– gardening

– walks

– yoga

– reading

– swimming/sauna

– poetry

– baking

– pro-choice rallies/activism

-DIY projects, such as making a headboard

– Knitting

-making my own cosmetics

– festivals

– craft beer events/tastings

– museums/art galleries

– exploring new places

– volunteering with newmarket’s community garden folk and maybe the theatre group with the town

– maybe try burlesque

– join a writers’ group

– take the motorcycle course

– get into photography

But you’re still a foul-hearted bluebeard who collects pure love to lace it through your hollow bones in hopes the decor will distract the pus-covered demons that crawl in your black, black veins.

Still the worst/best thing that happened to me.

Still stuck.

Still sailing on regrets and scars you’ve given on a sea I’ll never be.

And you stabbed your cartographer. Marooned your guiding organ, your siren, the telescope view of a better life than the one blood gave you.

Day 16: #28daysofwriting

Her spoonful of scalloped potatoes fell onto her blouse when she heard his name.

She was in the dining room with her grandmother and a few cousins when the door opened in the kitchen and she heard gasps of welcoming and surprised exchanges of “Happy Easter.”

Someone tossed her a wet napkin and she was muttering to herself when he walked up to her and spoke.

“Missed your mouth, Cel.”

He was smiling in that unsure kind of way, a little bit of built up anger curling on the left side. He opened his arms for a hug.

Robotic she fell into them. Sawdust and cigarette smoke filling her nostrils, time travel no longer simply for the books.

“You weren’t going to tell me you were back in the country?” he asked.

She stared. Everyone was staring at them. Her mother was trying to start a conversation in the kitchen about the ham to little avail.

“Figured you’d find out one way or the other,” she breathed out quickly.

Two years. Over two years. Another’s pale flesh to drown in. Unsent letters. Undialed numbers. She’d said all she had to say before she left and he had sat in the stagnant pool and was still sitting there. No splashing.

“Sit down and have something to eat, Seamus,” her aunt finally said to him. “Lots to go around.”

He crossed the room and grabbed a plate.

She was so very cold. Ambushed. Where was the control? This was her gathering, damn it.

He was startled by how unchanged she looked and taken aback by the plastered smile. With him, there’d always been a ease with her. She floated, chirped incessantly, smashed fire hydrants with the whisper of her fingers on his arm, the order of a beer he’d never drink again, a frustrated protest during a winter walk, throwing her arms in the air in defeat and he had been so humbled he’d grabbed her and kissed her though he was not hers to be kissing.

“What have you been up to since you got back, Cel?”

She scooted her chair back into the table, eyes downcast. “Interviews. Gardening. Painting. You know, the works of course.”

“Of course.”

“What about you?”

“Me?” He put his fork down and clasped those stubby hands together, brown elbows building a truss with the white laced table. “I’ve just been waiting for you to get back so I can marry your ass.”

Her grandmother let out a sigh. Her father, she heard, choke slightly on his salvia, followed by a hoarse “what?”

She frowned. He hadn’t seen her do that before, she realized, watching his struggled to keep a blank face.

The static was coming for her.

“Don’t forget to try the pudding, Irish family tradition.”

Her chair scraped back. A potato fell to the floor. She put on her mukluks.

Day 15: #28daysofwriting

It has been months and my emotions are still of an international scale.

They trapeze within an instant and I go from humming to myself, elated at a new recipe and the calm of the solitude to resenting cooking for one, missing the way he always got out of the shower first to fetch my towel, salt down my chin after a peaceful walk in weather too much like when we met.

It’s all mad.

I found our apartment insurance form, with both our names on it. It stung. Then the receipt for our dance lessons.

For a time, it had all been so right. It will never make sense to me why he didn’t fight for us, why he let go, why he changed his mind.

Then again: why had I become so unhappy first? Why did I morph into a jealous, somewhat controlling fiend with so many needs and no enough attention? Was he too young to support me when I needed it? A simple guide? I did step outside myself and relinquish the seal skin but he stood by and did nothing.

And true love doesn’t surrender. It evolves.

I must toss it up to a greater plan in place. And so I do.

But I am still breathless at all the pain sometimes. And part of me knows this ache will live on long after I forget his iris texture.

I feel myself freeze when I think of the things he said, what he did, how he behaved at the end, so unmanly, so cruel.

And I lose sight, disturbed that happened to me, furious I let myself love someone so damaged and selfish and unreliable. I falter. I spend the rest of the day in bed crying.

Alas, I have to admit I had no control over it. That I am a boss and he is not. While I am not blameless, I am not a victim and I have survived a tornado. This windswept hair will be someone else’s addition, not completion or salvation.

And alas, while that first year he made me so bliss-brimming contagious in my glee, it was a passing moment. It was never crafted to last forever. We were too different. I cut from persian rugs, he from stained sheets. Not to put myself above him, but simply because we look at life differently. And I was not brought forth from my lines to bolster up a mere boy and nourish him and try to tug at him to please me for the rest of my life.

There has to be a reason for this misstep, for this searing tear through my red ribbon.

Let me try to find it tonight.

Things I know from his leaving:

• There is a destiny.

• Love is unpredictable and vast and fleeting and fast.

• Love can happen organically without me orchestrating anything from dates to conversations to seductions.

• Trust should not be played with.

• Test him after that first failure to see if he returns to put up a fight.

• Friends are crucial. Hobbies are crucial. Time together in balance is also crucial.

• Love is not enough.

• He must love you more.

• Do not pay for his clothes, boots, dental bills.

• Try not to take heart in the fact he will never be loved again the way you loved him; that is beneath you.

• Your family will save you.

• You must eat through this.

• He fed his ego. You rarely do. There are bigger things.

• Know next time to dispose of any lover who falls asleep in the middle of sex with you; it’s inexcusable no matter how much alcohol. You are a carnival.

• You know how to bend now, how to argue, how to apologize, how to make up, how to ease into certain routines, share your life and your heart fully. That is a beautiful thing. You know how to trust. You know how much the risk is worth. You can now differentiate between the worthy and the passersby.

• How to cry. How to be real.

• The difference between having drinks together and drinking together.

• How to be grateful for having a childhood. And parents.

• How to return to who you are, who you were meant to be after a long departure.

• You loved. Wholly and purely with everything you had. Not everyone can do that. You will love again and deeper as it will be with a worthy. This is all that matters. How much you love.
• You forgave him the moment he slipped. You just have’t realized it yet. It is also illustrative of the goddess you carry in your walk.
• He told you and you know, you were the best thing that ever happened to him and your time together was the happiest he had ever been. And to give that to someone with such a long, hungry shadow, that is something.

Day 14: #28daysofwriting

Tonight I have little to no time. But there is a very important occasion tomorrow to which I want to write something special.

Happy birthday to a womyn, a sister who has been by my side for the past 16 years. I wish so much I could take you out for a drink tonight and dance you around something akin to a ballroom & laugh until we can’t stand. You are such a blessing, a figure of wisdom and compassion and adventure. I do not even know how I would have made it through the past two years without you and your inspiring creativity & just your soothing presence. Through thick and think, you are always the radiant lighthouse. I love you more than words can say and am grateful for you every moment. Happy birthday you beautiful peony, you insanely talented artist and fellow silver wolf. May it be as aglow as you inside and out. All my love. (Ps. your turn to return the mother province! There are gardens to grow together and lake trips to be had!)