Compiled by Michael Baichoo (intern) with assistance from Cara Spooner (Education Manager)
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A catalogue of this issue is available on the Workman Arts website, www.workmanarts.com via Issuu digital publishing platform.
Cover page picture: “The Mighty Vibrance” by Laura Laughren
Who we are: What is Workman Arts? Workman Arts is an arts and mental health organization known internationally for its artistic collaborations, presentations, knowledge exchange, best practices and research on the impact of the arts on the quality of life of people living with mental health and/or addiction issues. Founded in 1987 by Lisa Brown (a former psychiatric nurse at the CAMH), Workman Arts has been empowering artists with lived experience of mental health and addiction issues while challenging and advancing perspectives on mental health. Through participation in creative and collaborative projects that encourage the exchange of ideas between artist and observer, and the shared collective experience of audiences engaging in performances or presentation of works of art, connections are made between Workman Arts artists and the public at large. Workman Arts has developed an online magazine featuring artist membersâ€™ poetry, short stories, prose and visual arts called Workman Arts Online Literary Publication (OLP) in 2017. This endeavor, started by Cara Spooner (Education Manager) and Henry Gomes (former intern from Ryerson Universityâ€™s Literature and Modernity Graduate Program), has provided the opportunity for members to express their creative works in an online forum. Simultaneously, these works have generated contemporary discussion, evaluating potent issues through artistic reflection.
Acknowledgments In addition to the remarkable works created by multiple Workman Arts members, this issue would not be possible without the attentive and compassionate staff at Workman Arts, the support of the board, volunteer interns, funders and supporters. To get involved with Workman Arts, visit https://workmanarts.com/get-involved/ ‘Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.’ -Plato, The Republic
EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
SCOTT MILLER BERRY:
RENDEZVOUS WITH MADNESS FESTIVAL DIRECTOR
VISUAL ARTS MANAGER
SCALING PROJECT MANAGER
COMMUNICATIONS & DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Visual Arts Assistant
Table of Contents Topic: “The City: A Place of Acceptance or Adversity”
Works “In Me, My City Sleeps”
“This City is Alive”
(poem with visual art)
“The Liquor Store”
Jaene F. Castrillon
“Fifty Shades of Grace”
Lorette C. Luzajic
“The Seas in Chinatown”
(poem with visual art)
“City of Stories”
“The Screaming Stoplight”
“Walk Through the City”
“Toronto before Samosas”
“The Savouring of Small
Lorette C. Luzajic
“The Forgotten Ones”
“My Changing City”
“Zombies in New York”
Please, But, Alien Thanks, No”
“Broken-hearted Love Letter to Toronto”
“Urban for the Future”
“Grey Flare City”
“The city is an inferno”
Naomi Hendrickje Laufer
“Marie of the City”
(poem and visual art)
Harwood-Jones “Teenage Wasteland”
“Waiting to Breathe Again” Lisa Wegner
The City: A Place of Acceptance or Adversity "This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are." One of Plato’s most famous, yet unidentifiable, quotes still manages to be applicable in today’s societal framework. Depending on what it offers, a city can be prosperous and accepting for some while simultaneously being alienating and even adversarial for others. This duality influences the perception and reputation of the city as individuals will react in accordance to what the city offers. Hence, the city’s identity, in theory, should be reflective of the mentalities and behaviours of the collective individual(s). For Workman Arts’ second online issue for Workman Arts Online Literary Publication (OLP), members were encouraged to bring ideas (via poetry, prose and visual arts) which address the perception of the city. Some questions that were considered for this project (but do not necessarily need to be covered) were the following: Is it a communal oasis where everyone has equal opportunity? Or does the city contain an inherent hierarchy privileging selective individuals? Does the city represent every individual, or does it centralize around a specific, superficial image? Other relevant topics considered were the following: • • • • • • • • •
The City as a cultural community Multiculturalism-or lack thereof Liveliness vs desertion Personal anecdotes about living in the city Comparing urban to rural Current events, policies and politics which influence city life The representation of the individual The City and its treatment of the natural environment Distribution of wealth and classes reflected in layout of the City
In Me, My City Sleeps
By: Christine Waloszczyk
In me, my city sleeps. Buildings rise and fall, expand, contract, with each breath. In me, my city glows brightest neon against the darkest pitch -the iridescent blood flow of imaginings.
In me, the city picks up its pace along meandering streets, shopping for tomorrow, heels clicking on pavement. throbbing to the beat of dreamers who greet each other, somnambulant and faceless. We sleep and wake in layers. There is none here unknown.
See it here, inside me, curled up like a cat around the concrete, eyes of metal-framed glass peeking out -a sentinel, a changeling, swaddled in a blanket of ethereal secrets that whisper naked and scatter
like astral projections above star-kissed towers. We fly in and out of this electric creation of a wild-eyed, insomniac god, magnetic arms outstretched like veins, always routing us home.
My city whirls up inside my head like fireworks and morning traffic. Birdsong on its lips, it wakes me with the scent of hot dog vendors, and love and exhaust and money -whispering the secrets of everything under its sun.
My Hometown It is imperative to differentiate between Toronto specifically and cities per say. In many ways, the blessing of living in Toronto Is its cultural diversity. An egalitarian spirit graces its atmosphere Resulting in the feeling That people are people We are all people.
Indeed, we are all members of humanity. Hopefully positive humanity In as many cases as possible. The city is characterized By a magnanimity of the soul. Resulting in an insightful tolerance That makes Toronto A special place in which to live
As the daily newspapers Unsettle the soul, News from abroad Shores up emotionally My sense of gratitude That my life happens here.
By: David McCue
This City is Alive
By: Ruby Urlocker
This city is made of grey newspaper with little sparks of light scattered, like Christmas lights, lit up blue and green, between the buildings. These are the faces of people I know. They glow. Ragged angels, draped in thorns, Wearing plastic bags. A choir of imperfect voices, Slapping together like reckless waves Down winding lanes of summer heat. It suffocates the mind to be here too long in summer. Better to sit on a park bench with someone I think is special. Spray myself with blue water And rest, lain waste on a hill. Going nowhere but watching the world Of green and sky spin in circles. Or sitting in the dampness of the basement Watching Donnie Darko or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Pretending it’s a day after school in the evening; still in my kilt and blazer and have unfinished science homework On the Electromagnetic Spectrum, and the equations with those 6’s resting On the desk in the study. That would be better than another adult summer, Wasting my time not finishing art projects And talking and thinking about more exciting things I’ll never do in real life. Summer would only be fun if it was with you. I wonder about you. About how you think. I wonder if we’ll both make it through that gritty chaotic spiral Into the otherworldly light on the other side. You’ve got it in you. I wonder if I could rest somewhere on Saturn with you,
And look down and witness all the speckled skyscrapers of our city, Like stars, looking friendlier from eons away. I wonder if I could take a walk, through a jungle with you, Breathing cool air slowly. Inhaling watery oxygen through our lungs that sprout flowers in due time. I wonder how deeply you see the magic woven into things. I wonder if you see grief as a wide-stretching blue ocean and the sting of salt Or a chaotic city of voices overlapping, monotone, confused, Or wires and flashes going off in the brain like a seizure. I wonder if youâ€™ve ever been To the sandbar far off in the distance, Where silence flutters, heaving over you like a tasteless cloud, And where the sun is a dull spot on the face of a sky, made of painted blue metal And full of wondering thoughts like stars, like you. I wonder if youâ€™ve ever tasted the sun-speckle of delight like a single raspberry Soaked in honey on your tongue Or felt the heartbeat of a hummingbird right near your neck. I wonder if You could breathe more easily not in a classroom Or between walls, But somewhere black, and filled with silky night In the wilderness Where the ground is a hauntingly glowing wheat field And no one goes there But you and your shadow.
The Liquor Store
By: Ann Bekooy
As the oldest of five kids, I got to go shopping with my dad Friday evenings. My mom didn’t drive, as many women in those days did not. In 1962, the family car was still the main conveyance and the driver was usually the father. Dad had a 1956 Oldsmobile, his first car. It was his pride and joy. So after coming home from school my mom and I would compile the weekly grocery list and wait until Dad got home with his paycheck and his dirty black stained hands which he always washed with Old Dutch Cleansing powder. Dad worked in construction and came home pretty dirty most days (although he always left in the morning in a nicely ironed work shirt and pants). I had the chore of ironing my father’s work clothes and I hated it because they were made of thickly woven, cotton twill and had pockets and pocket flaps and details that made it difficult to iron. Besides which, he was working on a construction site, who the hell cared if his clothes were ironed? But mom was strict that way, it didn’t matter if he was a garbage collector he’d go to work clean and well turned out. Climbing into the front seat and feeling very grown up to be going with my dad, we followed the same routine every Friday night. First we’d go to the bank to cash his cheque, then a rush to the Liquor store (because it closed at 6:00) to get his whiskey and after that on to Loblaws or Dominion to buy the groceries. I waited in the seat of the car as dad did his business in the bank and listened to the radio. Banks were a very serious place, quiet, solemn with bored tellers behind the caged windows, not a place for kids. Then we would head to the Liquor store which was always in some obscure location (because in the staid Toronto of those days, you were not supposed to be seen buying liquor). Again I sat in the car and watched through the window with keen curiosity as dad went about his business. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario had a little sign outside the building that was barely noticeable but apart from that you wouldn’t know what kind of business it was because it looked just like a lawyer’s office. A non-descript reception consisted of bare walls and a high counter and some forms with a pen attached to a string attached to the counter. I’d watch Dad and the other men (it was always men in those days) line up and wait their turn to fill out the form. Florescent lighting lit up the area and nothing was on display. No pictures or posters or any suggestion of what was for sale. It was a complete mystery to me. Apparently buying alcohol was also a serious business. I saw a man come out with several paper bags and he seemed a bit nervous and kept looking over his shoulder. Afraid his wife might catch him? Or the Sisters of Sobriety? Anyway, I watched Dad as he filled out the form and passed it to the clerk. He would then be directed to another line and wait patiently. Shortly thereafter he would be handed a brown paper bag with a mysterious product inside.
“Daddy, how come you have to fill out all that paperwork? And how come I can’t come in too?” Dad smiled. “Oh this is Canada. They are very prudish here when it comes to alcoholic drinks. They need to control how much liquor is consumed and who’s doing all the drinking. Why do you think it is called the Liquor Control Board? Of course, they don’t want children inside. Children are not supposed to see or know their parents are drinking. It’s all very silly really but that’s the law here” “So, what kind of information do they want to know?” “Oh, nothing, just your name, address, occupation and age. Then I check off what I want to buy and they process the request out back, and I guess I’m okay because they always get me what I want. I am obviously over twenty one.” We drove on to the grocery store as we continued the conversation. “Daddy, cousin Piet told me that in Holland you can drink when you are fourteen years old. That means in five years I could drink too, I mean in Holland right?” “Yes, back home it was not a big deal for teenagers to drink and we never had a bigger problem with alcoholics than here. But Canada is so strict, it’s this stupid conservative government here. Something left over from the prohibition days I guess.” “What is probation” “Prohibition hon. It means they made it illegal to drink alcohol and made it unavailable. In a way, they are still trying to do the same. But of course, it is legal now to drink in your own home or in a tavern. But never on a Sunday of course.” “Why not on Sundays? Why can’t we even shop on Sundays? There’s so many rules, it’s just like school” “You’re supposed to be in Church and not drinking and making merry. Sundays are serious here. Very serious.” “But what if you don’t go to Church? I mean what business is it if you want to drink on a Sunday? Don’t we usually have visitors over on Sunday afternoons? So what if you wanted to serve some booze with the tea? I just don’t get it” “Neither do I, hon. But that’s the way it is”
From a child’s perspective it all seemed very strange. Like a back alley drug deal or something criminal or really sinful, buying a bottle of booze and drinking alcohol in Ontario in general was a very serious affair indeed. My how times have changed.
Meeting Place With its spear-edged tower piercing the blue skies like a warrior claiming victory in battle, This is where subways run like arteries underneath the flesh of the city where street cars still rumble by and buses run 24 hours a day This is where you can buy a cappuccino in an East Indian restaurant This is where the artists, the junkies, the sex trade workers, have moved out from a middle class neighborhood that became a rooming house ghetto in the great depression that has started to become a gentrified ghetto, as Liberty Village abandoned warehouses that housed art studios turn into condos, turning Liberty Village into another Yorkville This is where the trendies between Yonge and Bathurst and the nouveau Bourgeoisie of the beaches are beaded together through Queen Street West like multi-colored baubles and pendants on a necklace This is where communities within communities fit inside each other like Matreshka dolls, This is Toronto, â€˜The Meeting Placeâ€™
By: Pamela Chynn
By: Jaene F. Castrillon
A little drop of red mixed with yellow landscape of this body (whispers of black and white?) my crooked fingertips brush the uneven edges and striations of my scarred barren lands When I was 7 I thought I was a red indian everyday after school the group of girls; black, white and beige waited to beat me up because I wouldn't join their group give them a quarter play their silly games they didn't like me and my tennis ball in the corner ignoring their picture perfect girly ways just that tennis ball “bop bop bop” off that bricked wall the color of red, blood spouting from my nose I always wondered if they beat me up because I was the only red indian they ever saw Not understanding I wasn't that at all I went home to my yellow mother with her anger and grief; the color of the Yang Tze a tidal of disappointment My dusted josh stick burning ancestors opium jandiced skeletons Colonaziation, a trade for tea so they could pour their cold white milk into our perfect browness our proud imperial culture reduced wisps of opium smoke curling I always wondered if she beat me up because she thought I was a mixed breed whore Reminding her of my father's misdeeds My bronze brown skin of his and not light like hers “I see your father in you” Is that the lying, cheating, abuse that she sees in me Telling me I will grow up to be just like my Dad, She can't even see how both of you adults laid blows on my tender body Punishing me for nothing I've ever done and everything that I am existing surviving suffering Sometimes my Colombian Papi
would magically appear
and I would say to
myself yes, I remember this word Father yet I found no connection to this dark brown almost black stranger a child's yearns for his twisted love I was always Daddy's little girl Sometimes he'd push me down the stairs for fun Smush those cigerettes in my light brown skin for kicks Play hide and seek to my deep dread and then darkness as my body shudders with memories long forgotten Ashes to ashes Dust to
dust When he finally took me “home” to Colombia I was lighter then everyone, clearly I didn't belong My Grandmother felt I was an affront to God my skin being muddy red and yellow mix that it was My hair thick like them but straight like the opium pipe As I realize I am not a Red Indian Race being a strange concept but I remained a dirty whore At 39 I am sobbing in a car An Elder talks about Indigenous identity I cannot recall the words that knock the wind out of me I am sobbing and repeating “I am indigenous?” To a car full of Native friends who laugh at me “don't you look in the mirror everyday?” What is a reflection IF I never really knew what was looking back What does it mean to be Canadian, a settler of indigenous descent, a country built on the blood of the Indigenous of this land, what does that identity even mean anymore when it smeared red with the blood and onamen of my relatives? What does it mean to be Chinese, born in Canada and raised in Hong Kong, colonized by the British and the Japanese, taught to hate “mainlanders” and raised in a British system white wash gender bind suffocating every piece of queerness? Taught about my yellowness and cowardice but thank you for the tea! My impeccable manners Verbosity fitting for a Queen The taste of corrupted milky tea tainted in my yellow mouth yellow, the color of a sickly disabled coward a self hating Chinese an unproud Canadian What does it mean to be Colombian? I can't even speak Spanish, the colonizers tongue What is my tribe or language? Lost to a waterfall of bloody history? am I part of the lineage of Colombians, that is mixed Afro-Colombian/Spaniard and Indigenous? Three colors mixed into one color that is still white washed beat down worn down like denim in the wash white rocks cyclically pounding and tenderizing, assimilating our realities now a worn out tired old whore What does it mean to a kid born in Canada and raised in Hong Kong? A queer raised as a woman who has grown to speak an almost illiterate Spanish with a Chinese accent? Perfect Cantonese for a Philipino looking bamboo star And English being my native tongue The irony drips from my red lips without a home Yellow, Red, Black and White What does it mean to be this scarred brown landscape, neither here nor home, who am I? What is this face? Who is that in the mirror? What
am I? Will I ever feel home in this bag of bones? Smear colors and tainted ancestoral memories where do I belong? who claims me? What is home? Ancestors, can you even recognize me? Are you still there when I dream?
Fifty Shades of Grace
Sometimes when wandering the concrete and bustle and beauty of city streets downtown,
By: Lorette C. Luzajic
I think of how cities all seem to be filled with sex and cathedrals.
The Seas in Chinatown Like dabs of an impressionistic paint brush fruits and vegetables shine in their outside wooden crates, as we walk down Spadina Street. Through Chinatown, the aroma of raw fish in this area is alluring to me, lingering and echoing through my senses, like my childhood memory of the South Coast Newfoundland sunset painting the whole sea blood red like the contents of a tea sachet dissolving into water. The realization dawns on me that some languages whisper and sing â€œEsperantoâ€? so softly so sacredly to the subconscious sanctuary of my mind. Such as the universal scent of the sea washing over me, wave after wave.
By: Pamela Chynn
By: Fiona Seth
"It takes all body types" Said the gossip columnist From her page 6 post In her 1982 way. And lo and behold And it was there in her dark violet cashmere Which hid her protruding round curves The man in the grey trench coat approached and bent down He asked, â€œAre you looking for love?â€? I think she sat in a teal blue diner That smelled of fried food and Lysol I watched her as she pulled out her cigarette (In the age when you could do such things) And lit it Smoke curling up and up She paused, looked up and batted her Perfectly curled black eyelashes, Opened her purse, and plugging in a quarter for the jukebox Played an old Tina Turner song And she said "Yes, in fact I am; would you please sit down" So began another banquette romance. Not the first one here It melted like grilled cheese into some distant Toronto day In the heart of the west end On a streetcar route Out by the bay.
Toronto Incognito, Please, But Alien, Thanks, No
BROKEN-HEARTED LOVE LETTER TO TORONTO
By: Mayra Gemm
For so long I’ve longed to get out of the city. Its noises.... smells sights... and tastes dispel any notion of the mystical for me. Yet my foreigner’s face and accent hinder me from peaceful living in the country as those of darker skin may know all too well what I mean. Meanwhile the city’s heartbeat rushes towards a certain stroke. Pollution congests arteries both human and traffic fogging up thinking connecting becoming a laborious chore without any guarantees of genuine communication from one’s core. The pressure of the economic engine demands black hole desire to take over everyone’s will. Never will there be enough of anything to satisfy an emptiness that never needed to be filled but outgrown instead. Most citizens refuse to see, or reject this truth as the numbers of destitute people Increase exponentially under one small common leaky roof. Now the buried rivers diverted from their original course find it almost impossible to distill ephemeral densities: hatred, wrath, pride and greed to name a few.
These egoist perversions rain on our lake. Hierarchical attitudes: we drink in our tap water we become afraid alienating each from one another and from ourselves. It can feel so lonely to live here. Why do I? I remember my first subway ride: a rocket launching an adventure into subterranean mysteries. My mind, initiated, started making inquiries into invisible hidden history. I recall hearing the languages of the world tickle my ears and work my acoustic curiosity overtime joyously. So much is learned when sounds of diverse experience are kindly translated; encountering something new that resonates as something familiar. I reflect back on times when my universe widened by a trip to my local library igniting wisdom sparks in the darkest corners of my ignorance. I count all the endless opportunities although some more within reach than others to stretch my sense of self in all humanly possible ways the learning never stops in this place.
Beyond all this in all my wanderings around the New world I haven’t found the kind of people I’ve met here anywhere else I’ve called home. I think the name of this city points to my destiny. This has been the “Meeting Place” of my most important connections. All the people that have hurt and loved me here have guided me towards the authentic self I now purposefully embody. So I sit near my favorite city valley inside my sleeping box on my favorite chair atop this seminal paradox and stay put. Toronto I hate you. Toronto I love you. You break my heart only to set it free.
City of Stories
By: Elissa Timothy
The city is wet and romantic. The sun set an hour ago. Our pub dinner is going well with the beer. The loud music over the speakers is blending with the voices of the patrons, in a sort of tug of war that happens when kids play Red Rover. I am with the club. Our sculptures from the latest month are being brought to be fired by one of us. She retains the man who owns the firing oven and does the baking of our sculptures under her retainer status. So, to celebrate yet another month’s of work, we are celebrating at a downtown pub. We’re hearing the music… I can tell. Our continual eye contact is exciting. The business is definitely a reason for being here. We take our profits and often go for the very authentic “London’s Fish ‘N Chips.” Working with our hands is something we find very rewarding. To watch as each piece comes into completion… Sometimes even to the effect of creating beauty… We relish our talents and love being a part of the club. We think that with the way things are, is probably going to never change, to never get any worse, or to get any better. The constant traffic in and out of the bar is happening right beside us. Our booth is one of the more quiet places here. That people walk in here to not only to have a meal, but to find their dates, makes being here something like a new beginning every time. We are early. We miss the storm. One of us comes quite late and laments that the storm made everything too wet. She shakes her umbrella and closes it. She says that if she had known that the rain was coming down like a giant sheet, , she would’ve taken a cab. She keeps going with her story and says that the outdoor temperature is freezing, despite the May month. She picks up the side of her leather jacket to show us that there is no lining, and simultaneously shakes it to let some of the rain off. She then, finally, settles to sit near the edge of our booth. She smirks that the half circle for a booth is one of the most wasteful designs. We pretend to ignore her, but she keeps mumbling under her breath that the circular seating layout is illogical when it comes to making profit; that nothing compares to the square and rectangle seating arrangements. And so, we continue to ignore her as the music, at this point, is cutting through our deaf ears. It is classic Guns n’ Roses… one of the bands that never fail. The teacher then tells her to sit down and hands her a menu. She says that we’ve all ordered already, and are now waiting for food. She points at her Guinness and suggests that she has one too. We are getting buzzy. We start to laugh at jokes. I notice that something unusual is happening. A small group of university kids has walked by. They are well-dressed. None of the fashion punk thing. Haircuts quite decent. And nothing with being loud. They obviously are not here
to make trouble. I am tense, though, thinking that when something unusual begins, something even more unusual is bound to follow. I tell myself not to make it an issue, as really, I can’t think of any of it as an issue in any way. So, I relax, and take a sip of the beer again. It’s on tap, which for some reason is always fizzier than any can or bottle. The group has begun to talk and engage with one another; not like the usual yelling which frequently occurs. I turn to my right side and ask the girl who appears to be close to my age if she has decided where to go for summer vacation. She says her full-time job is looking busy now and mentions that since she and her fiancé are not yet married and are without kids, they are able to take the weekends off with an extra day from their vacation time for each week. When she asked me if I was going anywhere, I told her about my husband and kids and how the kids want to see Disney Land again. And my husband wants something with less sensoryengagement. We laugh. We mention to each other that perhaps we could do a night-like tonight once in the summer before starting the next season’s club’s activities. I ask her, because she is talented, how her drawing for a fountain is going? She says that she doesn’t know if she has enough technical ability to make it work! I literally laugh. Getting started is the difference between not doing it at all and succeeding with it! I try to give her confidence, but as I flail with descriptions of success, she gives me a look, which I interpret as “Oh Please!” I give up and sip my Guinness. In the slight lull, I notice the group of young university kids walking out of the pub. Since they are going the opposite way and towards the door, I guess they have an after party to go to. I slightly feel regret, and gingerly take a sip of my beer. The fizz hasn’t dissipated yet, and I lick my lips to taste the fizz. Then, on my left, an older woman part of the club asks how I feel about my sculpture this time around. She herself is an amateur artist. She modestly claims she won’t describe herself as an emerging artist because she doesn’t feel confident. She says again, that once someone asks her for a commission, then she might reconsider her status again. So, I tell her, that I feel that I am making progress. The first few attempts before I made the version I wanted to fire, were what I call “Monsters.” I tell her that their misshapen-ness made me feel that they were monsters rather than the beginning of a statue. She looks seriously at me and suggests that I keep my attempts as these are the evidence of early talent. That there is something in those “Monsters” that will be inspirational! I look at her with admiration. Thinking somewhere in there is probably someone who is very wise. She has been with the club for a year now, which means she has made three sculptures. I ask what her motivation is and following a good-naturedly laugh, she says ‘time’. “When time passes by slowly, and you can continual walking past dog walkers and their dogs, and you know
that you know more than the news stories inside a newspaper or TV News Show, then it is time to try something new and exciting. And sculpture seemed to be a very large ‘Monster’ that needed to be mastered.” She grins at me, picks up her pint of Guinness and sips. I do the same. In this second lull, I turn my attention to the group. Our meals are arriving. Pub fare. I have done what is expected, and ordered, “London’s Fish n’ Chips.” I greedily reach across the table to the waitress and take my ordered meal. I put it down. I say thank you. It smells good. Just as the waitress is about to leave, I ask if she can bring me some malt vinegar, and, if possible mayonnaise! Oh, and ketchup (I have fries)! Most of us get started on the meal, just the teacher and the mature lady start to talk as they sprinkle salt on their dishes. I listen, thinking the fish are very big. Apparently, the teacher likes the mature lady’s work and says that her sculpture this time is remarkable for its idea of motion. That it is the opposite of the usual way sculptors show beauty and power—which is through the strength of muscle, and the beauty of “stance.” Or how the body stands. It is very hard to find an artistic way to accomplish things like that. I am impressed, and I think of the people at this table and how many of them would be impressed too. Most of us I think. I then try to figure out why the teacher preferred that particular sculpture, and not ours. I then think that I do not know how to sculpt. As the teacher and the mature lady start their dinner, I throw out a query. “Who wants to do a field trip to Orange Town to see the Garden of Sculpture there? We could do it before the last class when we pick up our fired objects!” There is some sort of enthusiasm. It seems to me that others have also heard of this place. We nod our heads and start to calculate in our heads the expenses. The teacher then weighs in. If we think about the way she teaches about measuring, the sculptures in the garden will appear to have nothing to do with measurement. Then she says, “It’s because larger sculptures require sight, and sight is enigmatic. Looking at something depends on size. Looking as an average person, we require that something ‘looks right’. For smaller pieces, measurement actually helps the appearance of the piece to look real.” There is silence and pause as we try to manipulate this piece of information in our minds; to try to prepare ourselves for another ambush. Someone says that it sounds like the Garden of Sculpture will be very eye-opening; that we can experience it altogether! All of us goodnaturedly laugh. Someone asks if we can bring cameras. The teacher says most likely. The sculptures cannot be copied from a photograph. We eagerly eat our meals. It is nice to have this social connection. There are many couples who come in. It is apparently double-date night that this place is famous for as evident with the
way tables for four are everywhere. There are also high top tables and comfy booths that groups of two and three could be seated. This place is large, but they expect that you order your alcohol. The music is all cool. No dance. There is also the lack of those electronic games that fill some of the other bars (the ones that run with the idea of purchasing your destiny through an electronic gambling machine). As the lull continues and I get a few bites in, someone says, that they want to invite us to her home for a summer bar-be-que located in the Red Faun area of the city. She says not to worry about the location, but that she thinks we can keep in touch until the start of class again? We hesitate a moment. There are a few voices who suddenly want to speak at once. The summer is busy: vacations to the cottages, boats on the lake. Can we bring dates or hubbies? She says yes…come if you can. Bring dates, hubbies, and kids! It’s a big backyard… which is well-maintained for looks as well as cleanliness for rodent-and-mosquito-free living. She says with a gentle voice, that her home is often open to guests. All sorts of us say that we are grateful. “Thank you, and email us!” The teacher then asks her to email her address. As we finish our meals, and the last of our beers, our waitress comes around for the last time. We give up our plates and our empty glasses, and give our napkins a final use. As the waitress takes the last plate, she asks if we would like a dessert? “Something to go with a liqueur?” We stare at her and at each other. And almost, in unison, we say, “No, thank you!” “Check then?” We ask for separate bills. Waiting for the bills, we start to small talk again. We are warm enough to admit to our inspirations for our creations. How something loved, like a puppy, or a child, led to our inspiration to craft it in a three-dimensional art form. How our expectations never felt fulfilled with the creations. And it feels impossible. Our desertion of our works coming from regret and cluelessness. That trying again without somehow knowing, is like trying to jump through a hoop of fire. And the bills arrive. The waitress patiently distributes the pieces of paper amongst us. We sit quietly and study the bills. Making sure that we make the appropriate payment. We walk out of the pub as a group. We feel the chilliness of the night air. Someone makes a joke. There is no more rain. She shakes her leather jacket again. We hug each other, say goodnight. Look for buddies to walk to cars with. And we promise to join the teacher in the fall again. That we are all going back to the grind with a bit of creative license!
The Screaming Stoplight
A stoplight that screams for attention and contemplation
By: Ruby Urlocker
Walk Through the City
By: Christine Waloszczyk
Walk through the city center in your belly, dodging green garbage bins across February sludge. All six senses alert and smoking frosty thoughts out into the air, like fairy dust. Hand the homeless man a loonie -put word out on the street. Thereâ€™s always something in particular youâ€™re looking for -answers to questions, barely formed. Always someone to catch you, and when you fall, like a tree, You will be heard.
Toronto before Samosas
By: Ann Bekooy
Toronto Before Samosas, Before Fallafel, or Hijabs. Toronto before Reggae, Before blacks roll up the sidewalks Sundays, Downtown a ghost town. No shopping allowed. No playgrounds open. No liquor bought or sold. The Lord’s Day. (Supposed to be in Church.) No outdoor terraces. My childhood Toronto: white, up tight, Anything foreign suspect, to be feared, Toronto before Bhangra, Before Caribana, Before Bollywood or “Inclusion”. Hangings at Don Jail. Boring Toronto, Ashbridges Bay, Sunnyside Beach, Signs said: “No Dogs or Jews allowed”. Homophobic Toronto: 1972 Being Gay Meant: surely you are morally corrupt, And therefore must be mentally ill… (Look it up in the DSM!) Toronto before the CN Tower. Before Ontario Place, Old Victorian Architecture. Toronto the Good One-time City of York. Toronto the Conservative. Honest Ed’s—My Toronto… City of the Eaton’s and the Masseys and the Hudson Bay Company. No blacks hired, no Asians, no accents please. Toronto the polite. Excuse me is it Spadeena or Spadayna? Toronto a blues city: Yonge Street, The Gasworks, The Hawks Nest, The Colonial Tavern
Yorkville, Hippies long hair, nudity, disgusting. Challenging Obscentiy Laws. Toronto before Turbans and beards. Before brown people. Toronto the clean, Toronto the small, the quaint. Subway north to Eglinton. After that: nothing. Toronto of Maple Leaf Gardens, Johnny Bower, Frank Mahovich, Phil Esposito Toronto of Chum and Rory Oâ€™Shea. Toronto that busted Keith Richards. Toronto the dull Toronto before rainbows on Church Street. A different Toronto. A Toronto you didnâ€™t know. My Toronto: before Samosas or Asian immigration. Boring Toronto, Dull Toronto, White Toronto. Oh how I welcome the smell of curry.
The Savouring of Small Amusements
Bubble tea, bow ties, used bookshops, bluegrass buskers
Lorette C. Luzajic
the city comes alive again when we are mindful of its details
The epidemic of bed bugs and other unwanted house guests that plague homes in the city. The cost
By: Emily Sweet
. of replacing items riddled with pests is unbearable for many low-income families, as are the bug bites.
The Forgotten Ones
By: Emily Sweet
A raccoon roosts on a black bag, His Claws Meant to feel the cool squish of mud, A summer day's blessing. His Claws Just sharp enough to shimmy up a tree, To scour the lush forest for a drink. His Claws Tearing through foreign plastic, Frantic for fish once freshly caught. So close. …Almost there. …Rip! A door slams. A dark figure descends the drive; the raccoon's boogeyman. He collects remnants of a salmon and rotting vegetables: Enough trash for a meal. The figure is running now, arms flailing, objects hurling towards the raccoon. Garishly lit by a humming streetlight, the sun's sickly cousin. He scoots away, meal in mouth. An egg makes contact with his soft fur, Covering his charcoal gray rings in a yellow stench. Just another stinky scar of survival. Oh does he wish for a fresh river to cleanse his coat. His assaulter’s palace tops what once was the best bathing pond. The raccoon doesn't understand. He longs for the grassy meadows, where he can snuggle with the sun. He yearns for living forests, with animals and bugs at every turn. He nestles in a dumpster between forgotten items, with no more worth than the broken toaster beside him. Cloaked in yolk, the raccoon consumes the slippery smell that he now calls food.
My Changing City
By: Elissa Timothy
The dilapidated shell is sadness A feeling at the thought of death As a give-up of life. Nothing else seems nascent there A nine month pregnancy before reality can be Our thought triggered when our sight bears on the more and more skeletal appearance.
Despite pedestrians and constant traffic all the time, The cockroaches and mice and cobwebs gather; The increasing disuse. But before we can finish weeping, The shell faces demolition and dust Time proving that everything becomes nothing.
The color on the corner is un-naturally bright Perhaps a preparation for rain and inclemency. A desert despite the closeness of the high school; Pocket change can buy a pop and doughnut Growing wide a joke about consumption What we have left after home work
Zombies in New York
A zombie melting into a puddle of goo
By: Ruby Urlocker
in apocalyptic New York City
By: Marisha Pula
Urban for the Future There are villages which are ancient. They date from long time ago. There are scattered like lost. Historians do not want to let them go.
Villages are like heritage. They need to be preserved. It is not the age. They have to be modernized.
Villages are becoming like towns. A doctor is more available. There are doctors. Villages are more able.
Urban is not only for the city. It is a look. It is a style which is pretty. It is worth a book.
By: Beatrice Nkundwa
Grey Flare City
By: Ruby Urlocker
Wet trees and yellow Saturn eyes, A face sketched out of wax crayon, Tattooed on the solar system as it breathes, Purple ice flower eye holes, A giant, rising celestial automaton, Full of jagged beams and pipes crammed with sucking white noise. Uneven red bits of string to mend flashing blue hands covered in Band-Aids. Leaning Telephone poles like shaggy, midnight strangers They want to walk, where the shadows leap on stone walls, inside this gas-lit industrial city full of stop lights and black rubber coated wires, tatters of fabric hanging from them, highways where cars drive in a flash to Victorian times without drivers, covered in whistling scabs. This is a nightmare. The rapids fall down like screaming sirens. You recognize the sound From when your fluffy white cat, almost a ghost, Lay down in the narrow green shrubbery and died. Then the world was gone. Your sentences forgot. You cannot continue. You hold a metal triangle and clang it quietly in the woods While the dim sun hits fitfully sleeping pavements, cracks torn out of the ground, smoothing them â€˜til they dream like breathing animals. I know this woods. Great things happened here. But I canâ€™t enter because all the leaves arrange into your monstrous face And each step, in the realm of hollow, dusty trees Would be stepping on something alive.
By: Eve Crandall
When city sidewalks and buildings overwhelm the elemental landscape of sun, earth and water, the EarthDancers remind us of our connection to them. Their dance is always joyous - they remind us to be present and to notice the beauty in everything, even the sidewalks and buildings.
By Eve: Crandall
The city is an inferno Trapped in a molten entourage Our city lost under erosion Wears a mask of depravation And derives synergy from the lost enigma Of shattered gargoyles etched in stone walls Evoking the purging of lost souls And transformation into shadows that watch weeping petals And regurgitate ashes that hide in the tunnels chasing the shadows away and weeping with irony who wears a tainted mask as ether conforms to a tangled dance. The reverie perturbed by melody whist the Siren's chant emerges from the sea And vacillates digressing with integrity And coincides with harmony spilt like water And she burnishes her song, the lullaby of nymphs beyond. The city submerged becomes lost in a conservancy of serenity And the stars tears fall
By: Naomi Hendrickje Laufer
An â€˜average womanâ€™ composed with combinations of three shades, symbolizing the layering one has via their surroundings
Marie of the City
By: Elissa Timothy
The sudden cry of an eagle, its voice high pitched, cuts the smog of the city. Suddenly death is in our lungs. Our heads bend upwards, sighting the eagle in its flight across the narrow sky, disappearing further past the tops of buildings, only dark shadows. The cloudiness due to factory manufactures and our love of driving cars despite constant idling. The constant amount of pedestrians on the road and sidewalk plentiful as guppies in an aquarium, make the day seem unending. Marie walks out of the office building and so accustomed to the smog, just continues with the flow of pedestrians. She is walking towards the subway, ready to go back home to the suburbs. But not much is different there. She is not thinking about much. She has already conquered much of life, thinking during work. She is ready to relax. Her need to accomplish and achieve made each day outside of home. And home is safe, without potential attack, without failure, without loss, and without acrimony. There is no chance for dying at home. On the subway car, there are too many people, and Marie is standing all the way home. She grasps the pole, and sometimes the strap overhead, and stands with all the others in a sort of zombie existence. Being very close to strangers causes the need to be in a small box, allowing her the freedom to be alive despite not noticing anyone and not caring about the need to not touch anyone else. The exhaustion of getting up every morning and coming back home when the day is over, makes her think her home is actually just a box for her to sleep in â€Ś and to have one important meal in every day. Now, being in the subway again, she is thinking that it is the second time she is seeing a particular man. He got on a couple of stops after Marie, the same as the first time. And, also, he has to stand like she has to stand. He is tall. And is dressed in a suit, like the first time. And carries nothing in his hands. Marie thinks that he has a wallet inside of his dress jacket, if not in his trouser pockets. She quizzically looks at him. He does not notice. And Marie imagines he is some senior management or partner, and that every now and then he takes the subway because an appointment, a dinner date, or a meeting, is going to happen. She imagines that whatever it is, it will happen in a well-appointed location, full of important people and important money, and costly accoutrements and victuals. That this important date is someone who is also a mover and shaker. Someone who manages many things and many people and someone who knows how to address this particular man, who knows how to address them. Marie muses about the man, and notices he gets off two stops later than he did last time, at a stop in mid-town. He looks like he knows where he is going and quickly mounts the stairs, they being closer than the escalator. Then, as he ascends, the train leaves the station. Marie thinks
that he is going to have dinner while he works his clients and co-workers as they sit at a table and eat. It will be in a well-appointed restaurant where the food is original and fusion, where the music is background accompaniment, and where it is busy, but not completely full. There will be many reservations, as the particular restaurant sources for the ultimate freshness. The quality of the food makes the menu spectacular and expensive, and the cliental select. The unwritten promise and the unspoken rule is that it is the venue that serves as the replacement to the gentlemen’s business clubs that used to exist. The ones that took in the businessmen that came from the ivy-league universities, who took the students from exclusive private schools. The men that were the habitual and common source of a city’s renown and power and money. That this restaurant now caters to. Marie then thinks, “Those clubs are so passe!” Now, knowing and being, in several and many, exclusive places that are “secret” are what defines the new era of business. That it is a matter of being mentored in. Where and who your mentors are will be your “club.” The business is something the mentees will have to define for themselves. There is no longer any “education” by the “educated.” All is a free-for-all. All business people will have choice and freedom! All will have a destiny that they define for themselves! So, the train moves on. The next stop coming and pending. Marie soon loses any thought she has about the particular business man. She holds on to the pole and continues to ride the subway to the next stop. Her mind wanders. She has no awareness of the other riders. Everyone is silent. It is the usual state of things. Everyone is too tired from work, and are not looking for more work, especially to striking up a conversation with random strangers. Who knows? They could be full of diseases worse than cooties! And, relaxing herself into thinking about everything in the dark, Marie thinks that her eyes probably look like they have glazed over. She turns her head, and looks to her left, then to her right, and then at the window that looks like a black mirror. Her reflection uncustomarily shocks her. She thinks she looks much older than she feels. Sort of like a late-middle-aged woman, stuck in middle-management. What has happened to her style!?! What has happened to being in “the scene?” Where she has been a popular person? Where and when did it all disappear? Marie lets go of a big sigh. She is too tired to put herself through a long self-analysis. She says to herself, “Dinner is soon. I could make hot dogs or heat up the pot-pie that I bought last week….” She contemplates the possibility of liking dinner, especially if it will cook itself. Then she promises to roast a chicken the coming weekend to make up for frozen food. The train rumbles. Marie notices the passengers who get off at the stop and sees that several passengers get on. Going further and further away from the centre of the city she notices that the people look less and less like the rat race that populates the downtown. That the people perhaps don’t run the treadmill of production, but run at a pace of well-cooked Thanks-Giving
or Christmas dinner. The harried look of pressures seems to fade. Like time has passed the phase of city-based existence. Where the reason for life is to create opportunities for everyone, and not just people who are qualified. There is someone near the door who catches her attention. On first glance he doesn’t look extraordinary, but Marie thinks that he is some sort of musician. He does not have the usual short haircut, but a little bit of a wavier style. He is not in a suit. And his jeans are not dirty or ratty. He could be on his way to a gig or a rehearsal. She continues to contemplate. Perhaps his phone has several sets of playlists, full of music that he either loves or wants to study. And judging the fact that he leans on the panel beside the door, Marie thinks he could be making up a piece of music right now! “Perhaps it will be the next melody that will become popular!” She imagines something classical. Then thinks that it is something someone can play. Maybe he will set up the next trending beat, the one that makes the summer’s best pop song! He doesn’t travel far and gets off a couple of stops after he gets on. Marie thinks he is a lucky guy. She thinks that if she had a choice to meet someone, it would be the musician and not the business man. That the idea that stress kills all creativity is probably something real. She imagines that the musician is a person who can work anywhere. Even if his guitar is missing, a musician can start up a beat and sing a tune aca pela. She can’t think of a tune immediately, but she thinks creativity is something that happens outside of any rules or conscious construction. Getting near to the end of the line, Marie is able to get a free seat. She sits down gratefully. Then the train starts to stop and go and moves slowly when in motion. It continues so for a few minutes, then a conductor starts an announcement about the situation. “There are signal issues on our route. We will be continuing to move slowly for the next few minutes. We appreciate your patience as we continue to move slowly.” There are far few less passengers on the train now. The emptiness of the train seems to make the sound of rumble very loud, and motion to be more pronounced. Most of the passengers are sitting. There are a lot of people dressed so averagely. Jacket, trousers, and some in jeans. About half of them are carrying bags, that perhaps held lunch, and some bags look like there are laptops, and a few people are reading tablets. The emptiness feels like a reprieve. That pressures are melting. A man sitting diagonally from where Marie is sitting has his ankle on his knee. He looks straight ahead and is fidgety. He seems not to notice anything at all. Perhaps he is going home? But, also, perhaps he is going to work? He has a backpack beside him. He is wearing a button-down oxford shirt and jeans. Again, pretty typical at this station so far away from the downtown. But, then again, uptown corporations are “relaxed.” They are a different breed of creature.
Soon, the train is pulling into the station. The announcer comes back on, â€œWe are entering into the terminal station. Please take all your belongings with you. And thank you for riding with us!â€? Marie gets up with a little more energy than what she came on with. She stands at the door, until the train pulls into the station and then when the doors open, quickly exits. She is thinking that she is close to home now. Outside, the start of dusk is happening. The sky is cloudy, and the light everywhere is diffuse. Crows in their usual flock sit on the tree branches of a tall tree. With the sudden rush of a large engine, they caw and fly off into the distance. Looking like they are flying higher and higher into the sky. Then they fly beyond sight. Their black bodies like shadows that disappear. It is unusual for large birds to be in the city. They usually like the space of fields and small forests. The chance that carrion can be found is multinudinally greater where there are more rodents and other wild fauna. All wildlife love the run of space.
By: Markus ‘Star’ Harwood-Jones
He holds me. I hold him. We are holding each other and breathing, catching our breath. The orange light from the city at midnight makes my room glow. I run my fingers along his skin, slow, just feeling; delicate. I’m finally old enough to take the canoe out at night by myself. I don’t wear a lifejacket, but I bring a lantern, my journal, and a few crystals; priorities. He’s wiping up, telling me he’s never loved anyone so much. He’s so thankful. He’s laughing and crying and I am pulling myself up along the bed. The lake is empty, save for a few lights from cabins along the shore. Waxing moon so bright it fills up the night, slowly moving along the treeline. I dip my oar into its reflection, moving into familiar darkness. I lie down in the canoe and look up. I feel empty. I wonder if it’s because I smoked before he got here. He can tell, but he doesn’t care. I care. I stare out at the grey darkness of the night sky, the city below lit up like the stars have travelled down into these homes and office towers and condos. I get up to blow out the candles, turn off the music, throw out the condom. I pull up on a little island and watch the silhouettes of trees as the moon falls out of sight. Cracking across the sky, the Milky Way divides up the constellations, dancing on the water. Surrounded, I only know which way is up by my internal compass. Close my eyes and breathe, holding onto a worn piece of opal, smooth in my fist. In the morning, we kiss awake. I watch the sun as it traces along the carpet, finding little bits missed by the vacuum. I resist the urge to get up and start cleaning, so I go make breakfast instead. He tells me he loves me before leaving. I say it too, hoping it’s true, wiping up the
crumbs from the counter. I donâ€™t know how to feel anything but worry. Commune with love, the stars tell me. Like a breath, in, out, the canoe gently sways against the rocks. I touch the rose quartz around my neck, trying to remember how. My oar drips shadows, reflecting starlight, a universe in each drop. I paddle home.
By: Ruby Urlocker
I got out of the hospital the day my dog died. I had the bitter aftertaste of medications in my mouth as I walked home from the bus station. It was Thursday evening. When I opened the front door my mom came to me, red-eyed. “Oh honey,” she said. Her face looked like a shriveled dandelion. “We have some bad news.” *
It was almost laughable how predictable I was. Knowing nothing since that last great year. I went to the top of the Wasteland, of course. The Wasteland was what Ted and I called it. It was an abandoned office building with a roof you could climb. Nothing special. But we were what made it special. I stood on top and looked at the sculptures left over from a few years ago now. They glinted under the cold sky, looking like miniature transformers. Ted and I had made them out of blue glass bottles, during my favourite summer. Back when everything made sense and we could have adventures climbing trees, shoplifting, and just making every day an adventure. We never really said to each other that we were friends, or more than friends. Running down a rusty tunnel in a park no one knew about, hearts throbbing in the wind, and desperation. We were always together. We knew we loved each other without having to say it. Although I regret not saying it now. Shivering in the cold air, I wished Ted were here now. In his brown trench coat with the pockets and his scruffy willow-the-wisp golden hair. I’d cave into him as he hugged me, and tell him everything. Even the parts that always feel wrong to confide, even to him. He’d understand. Even though there were so many things he couldn’t understand in real life, in this fantasy, he would understand everything. He would absorb all my words and hold them. Without wavering. The wind blew. I thought about heading in. But heading into the apartment, where oil paintings of bowls of fruit and people with no expressions hung; where my mom would play classical music in attempt to ‘quiet my mind.’ Heading into the apartment for what? I could imagine the awkward dinner. My mom sitting across the table from me, asking me questions, poking me about things stirring inside that I couldn’t even tell myself about; all of them prickling, anxiety-ridden and predatory. Questions about what actually happened 2 years ago. Digging up the past when I was just merging into being myself in the present, after all that
wasted time. Thinking maybe, somewhere along the road, if I could ever find a real meaning in life again. I could imagine the waiting silence of the kitchen inside the apartment. My mom’s clinical, inspecting look masked through friendly eyes. I belonged out here, in this graveyard of memories. With these dusty, half-broken things of the past. There were pop cans and old plastic bags on the roof, and an old backpack, tope colored, with a few pins on it. One of them was a rainbow. The other was black with the white letters “NO.” Buttons from Hot Topic or some store like that. There was other stuff. Bits of debris from other people’s lives. People self-conscious about their childhood would bring items to leave here, like small teddy bears or bouquets of fake flowers. Things they didn’t want to throw away but couldn’t bear to keep. Ted and I never brought anything, those days when we were together. We were too happy to think about our broken childhoods. We were rich. We were lucky. We were teenagers with rainbow streams inside us, happy and addicted to wonder. Sitting here, for the first time in 2 years, the texture of abandoned objects felt like a second skin. Like I could breathe through it. Metallic and brown, rusty things like the wheel of a bike and the knob of a faucet. Torn patterned fabric that looked like the sky, with a pee stain on it. A metal tiara with rhinestones and strands of brown hair stuck on the teeth. It was like the River’s Styx in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, a combination of fond-loved treasures, grotesque and full of holes. Looking at it all made me feel uneasy. Like I was looking at moldy flowers, or the intestines of an unhealthy person. Perhaps what would be my intestines in the future, after years of taking…that. I’m lonely. That’s what I suddenly realize, standing here in a desert of junk. Though a loneliness that has more to do with just being nowhere in life than it does about being with people. An inner grief masked by numbness. Covered by thick dullness you cannot get past (trust me). The sky was turning to cobalt, and my mind went off on a spiral. I thought of the last time Ted and I were here. We just sat on the edge of the building and swung our legs. Looked into the pond of blackness beneath us, lit with dots of light. The city streets and stores and pedestrians not visible. I remember Ted whispering animatedly in my ear, “You can feel the city breathe here.” And then I looked further back, beyond the city, at the ocean where I thought I could see the small, black sails of boats. I became swallowed up by them. There was nothing but the queer glow of the ocean and the boats slightly moving, almost singing in silence. Shadowed sails like black, evil wings. Ted put his hand on my shoulder, and then pulled me close. My heart fluttered. He wrapped his arms around me. “It’s ok Carrie. You’re safe.” I felt a pull from my heart, after
months of numbness. I ached. I threw my arms around him, almost violently. I felt like a lost little girl just coming home from a long and terrible, pointless journey. There was a warmth emanating from his chest. I pressed myself against it. I could feel the love that was inside of him. I felt rescued in his arms. And all I could think was, ‘Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,’ and I thought it at him with all my love and affection. Afraid to say it out loud not because I felt insecure, but because it might lose the meaning that it had, already being said in my heart. Since that night, I went back on my journey to nowhere. And now I’ve returned again, though in a real sense, I haven’t. I’m not present anymore. I cleared a space in the litter swamp and sat down. I breathed. Looking at things was a strain. I put my head in my hands, and didn’t look at anything again until my mom called from the kitchen window of the apartment. “Carrie! You’d better come in, it’s getting late!” She was in her bathrobe, her hair frizzy and wet. I looked at the bottle sculptures one last time. There were five of them. The summer we made them, there had been eight. I watched them glow in the dim light, like a scientific experiment. A permanent mark our friendship had left behind. When I tramped inside the apartment, my mom was waiting in the kitchen. Her hair had more grey in it than it did two months ago. Her face was more wrinkled. She put a hand on my shoulder. “Carrie, are you ok?” “I’m fine, mom.” I turned and went upstairs. No dinner. Seeing my room again was depressing. That light, almost turquoise shade of blue on the walls that I had chosen years ago when I went through my mermaid phase was still there. Looking at it now, it was the color of sickness. A toxic color that made me feel like I was swimming around in my own vomit. And looking at all the objects in the room; my bed that was unmade, my reading lamp and clothes thrown over the floor, just the way I left them before I was sent the hospital, and thought I might never get out again. And the grey, dusty light coming in through the window over it all. The room was too still. It felt like a tomb. Even the things that always made me feel like myself, my orange stuffed animal chicken named Kevin, a photograph of a purple milky way, the giant chalk drawing of a lady with hair sticking up and Tim Burton eyes with ridiculous pink eyelashes I did on the chalkboard back of my door, they all felt like they weren’t mine. Or it felt like I wasn’t the person who owned them anymore. My mom came upstairs and knocked on the door. She opened it. “I was thinking of getting some laundry done. If you have anything you want me to wash,” she said, looking at me. I just stood there and stared. I didn’t know if she could really be my mom anymore. “No.” I said.
“You don’t want me to wash those clothes scattered all over the floor?” she smiled. “No,” I looked up at her and tried a smile. She closed the door. I thought about going downstairs to see Jasper, who would wag his tail, a mop of furry, unembarrassed joy, but then remembered he wouldn’t be there. He was dead. I sat on the bed. I lay down. Pulled the covers up over myself. I pretended that this moment was where my life would end. That everything down the road of the past had brought me to this point, which was the final point in my history. And life would be nothing more than this moment. And then it would stop. I would never be me or not me in a cruel altering cycle between the two again. I snuggled into the grey blankets. It was giving up on life, but it made me feel a bit better. I remember the time things started to fall apart. I was out of control. There was this day, 3 summers ago, when I was walking to the convenience store and everything felt…as though all the color had drained out of life. Everything felt like the blowing tatters of plastic on the back of freight trucks carrying things long distance on a road. The day was humid, and for some reason I couldn’t see clearly. Everything in the outside world seemed to have this quivering shakiness to it, and a smoggy film around it. And then these little movements in my body that were happening: my legs walking, my feet hitting the concrete, my arms swaying slightly; they all seemed to become a hundred times more jarring, like some electrical force inside me was making every part of my body jerk. I could feel every little thing on my body. The rubbing of my jeans. The debit card slicing my thigh in my pocket. Why didn’t I just put it in my purse instead? Or just hold it? Why didn’t I bring my purse? Or why didn’t I just take the bus instead of walking through the heat? I remember destructive waves of traffic right beside the sidewalk. The giant wind and crushing noise of cars. Someone honked their horn. Everything got incredibly, intrusively loud, like the physical objects in this world were all laughing and jeering at me, and the air was dense and humid like the inside of a plane. “THAT’S IT!” I yelled. Then I stood still. The cars and the trucks and the road felt like they were made out of cardboard and there was nothing inside them. They were mindless, moving mechanical shapes that could head strait towards me and kill me. Easily. A bus could come out of nowhere and kill me. My quick agitation, the waves of prickling, obsessive thoughts faded into primordial fear. And I walked on and on to the convenience store without stopping, like a mindless faucet spitting, feeling nothing but fuzzy numbness, my body subconsciously blocking out the fear of being hit by a bus or being shot or being raped. Things got worse from there. The giant presence of something invading my life, once there, grew, like the rumbling of a storm; some spiritual presence of something other than me, like
the malevolent ghost of some old, sagging monster, brown and big as a mountain, opening its mouth to eat at my life until it became moldy, inhuman pulp. Unrecognizable decay. The feeling of ‘something else present,’ was there when I was with Ted. When we sat right next to each other, it was as if we were underwater and couldn’t communicate. We wanted to be close, but there was something glitching in reality, in the air around us, polluting our hearts so they couldn’t feel as intensely. I felt the love I had for Ted drain away. Without realizing it. We were still together. We still talked, like nothing was wrong, but there was this tenseness. This shallowness and disquiet behind everything. We didn’t know what to say to each other anymore. And then one day, years later, I woke up with a cold shock and wondered what on earth I had done, and wanted to call him, but he was far away, and had told me he never wanted to hear from me again. It’s funny, because I used to think of myself as one of the sane ones in society. One of the more mentally developed, more creative, more full. I had a beautiful mind. I had someone who cared about me and who I cared about. I had a face that I found strikingly attractive, with messy hair and brown, shining eyes. I read Edgar Allen Poe and Lovecraft, and went on shopping sprees to Goth stores downtown with my friends, back when I had friends, and head-banged to my favorite music on headphones, and went to school, and learned and took it seriously, even the things I didn’t like. I had a dozen real meanings in my life. And then the seasickness came. Washing over everything. Subtle at first. I could ignore it. But like one drop of oil in water, it distorted everything in the picture. Nothing was ever the same. It slowly infected my life, rendering it full imbalance, and insane tidal waves of insecurity, doubt, and anxiety in the mind filling up until I couldn’t think clearly enough to do any work at school, or have a stable conversation with my friends. “Insanity always comes from fear,” someone had told me once, in a fantasy or a dream, her golden smile fading into stretching fields of auburn wheat. In a place I felt like I belonged to, inside my heart. “And those who fear love or can’t love, they’re only like that because they’ve been deeply hurt before. Because they’ve been traumatized.” I remembered the first 2 years of when I became a teenager. I was 13. I sat in class, romanticizing everyone’s charismatic personalities. During my first year of middle school, I had been surrounded by the smartest people I had ever met. That was the year I started writing poetry and really singing. Riding my bike, going to the beach. Life was innocent. I was happy. I glanced at my cell phone and thought of texting Ted. It was out of the realm of reason. Before I went into the hospital I tried texting him. He gave the same lecture every time. “We have to distance ourselves from the past. Being together is not going to be good for either one of us,” stuff like that that I just couldn’t believe. So I messaged him again. Again and again. I didn’t want to believe it was over. I still don’t, deep in my imagination. There’s still this part
where that doesn’t register. The responses were almost always the same. A colder, closed-up version of Ted that I used to not know. Or sometimes he just never responded. I decided to scroll through all the instant messages I had of Ted and me. I looked at the really old ones, from when he was still here. “Goodnight,” says one of them. “I hope you have sweet dreams about the Wendigo and baking your family into cheese soup.” I read it again and it made tears fall from my eyes. Then I read our messages from the last good time we had together, after Ted moved. When I thought it was all over. He had driven all the way here to surprise me one night. Randomly. After we hadn’t talked to each other in five months. He texted, ‘look our your window.’ I looked out, and saw him wave from the top of the Wasteland. The top of that stupid office building. My heart leapt when I saw him. It felt like a miracle. I waved back, a giant, excited wave. I ran out to meet him. It was cold that night. We were both in hoodies. He had brought a lantern so we could see each other in the dark. I looked up at his face. The hair over his eyes and his slanted smile. “You look like an older brother,” I said. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” he asked. “I don’t know.” We had sat on the edge of the building, in each other’s arms. He said nothing about how awful I had been. I tried to wrap him in my arms and let all my affection for him drain out of me and flow into him. That was the night I said thank you. I opened my window and breathed, looked out at the city. A stippling of tiny lights in the darkness. The shadows of buildings. The sound of cars mimicking the sound of the ocean and that lingering salt smell that I could barely taste. I felt I could look out the window forever and get absorbed by that blackness. That night I dreamed of Jasper and Ted. We were all on a big, wooden boat together that the sun reflected on, making it warm brown. We stood in a sort of group hug. I could physically feel them next to me. But then they started floating away. I looked down and realized I wasn’t on the boat, I had my feet stuck in this frozen marsh with a bunch of twigs in it. The boat was heading out to go somewhere far away. I couldn’t do anything. I tried to jump across, but my legs were frozen in. I just stood there and watched them float away, Ted waving, a big smile on his face. The next day something awful happened. For no apparent reason. The Wasteland caught on fire. When I looked out the window and saw the building in flames, I felt myself choke, as if I had swallowed all that fire.
It was rumored some teenage delinquent had done it. I thought it must have been that guy with the jagged, black hair who rode his bike all around town, spray painting walls of buildings with messages like, “I’ll find you,” and “There is a gap between the silence and the stillness of the world. I’ll meet you there.” I saw him every now and then on playgrounds, just sitting on the swings. He had a look of loss in his eyes. I didn’t know who he was. There were firemen in the parking lot. A truck with a blaring siren. Smoke tendrils drifted through the sky like strange, monstrous arms. There was greyness over everything, ash residue coating the faces of people standing around. There was no one in the building, of course. It had been empty since my mom and I had moved here. I watched as the firemen hosed down the building and went inside the windows on the long staircase that came out of the truck. It felt like watching an operation on someone I knew. Seeing the person’s organs pulled out. And all of those strangers suddenly invading the space that had, in a way, I realize now, been declared sacred by Ted and me. The firemen stood around in a circle, conversing about the whole thing after they put out the fire. And then they did one final check of the building to make sure it wouldn’t fall down. Then they left. It made me feel better to think it was that guy I’ve seen around town who did it. The iconic symbol of troubled teenagers. I’m 21 now, but I still feel like I’m 16. Frozen in age. Like my brain is stagnated. I’m looking at the building, right now, from my window again. The glass bottle structures aren’t there anymore. The side of the whole building, where Ted and I used to sit and dangle our legs over the edge, is smothered with blackness, and little bits of the stones are missing. It’s coming round 8 o’clock at night. I go to bed at 8:30 these days. Wake up at around 11. Then spend my days part-time in college studying something I’m mildly interested in. All this time, I know at the end of my life, I’ll never get back. But what can I do? What can I do? I thought I saw a figure up on the top of that building just now. Spinning in a circle in the setting sun. It might have been the guy who burned it down. That random guy who’s a mystery I somehow think if I knew more about could fill in the gaps of my own messed up story. It makes me feel a little better, thinking it was him. And that in that moment, while he was spinning, he felt a burst of sunlight on his chest, like a handprint, and started humming to himself, tunelessly, and felt brilliantly, vibrantly alive.
Waiting to Breathe Again
By: Lisa Wegner
Alone amongst thousands. Suffocating amidst richness.
Where is the city Iâ€™ve always known?
A collapse. Remembered liveliness, dwindling but still in my palm
Contributors Ann Bekooy is a singer/songwriter and storyteller who has lived with Mental Health challenges and as a result has lived a rather unconventional life. She has performed her work in local clubs and festivals at Ontario venues such as The Secret Handshake, The Tranzac Club, Nuit Blanche and of course, Workman Arts. Under the pseudonym, Ann Becoy, Ann published her first novel: Memoirs of Hippie Girl in India, recounting her crazy misguided youth as a teenage drug smuggler and her hippie days in India. She just completed a graphic novel entitled “Stories from a Bombay Prison” and she is currently working on a sequel to the Memoirs, as well as a collection of short stories. Beatrice Nkundwa is a poet, freelance writer, journalist and artist. With her work, she attempts to contribute to a better world, writing on a daily basis and reflecting on issues that have relevance in both the past and present. Beatrice has published a book with Amazon, titled Event Poems. She has also created a blog to share her poetry. Christine Waloszczyk is an emergent writer from Toronto, Ontario, who is inspired poetically by the rich environment of her home city. Christine studied Spoken Word and Film at Workman Arts, and has published poetry in WA’s First Starts and Beginnings, as well as Ohio Poetry Association’s A Waking and Rustling Within. A graduate of U of T, Christine is currently a Creative Writing MFA candidate at Antioch University, Los Angeles. David McCue was born in 1957 in Toronto. He studied piano at the World Conservatory of Music from 1962 until 1972. Since graduating from Ryerson University in 1981, he has been a freelance writer. He is a member of Workman Arts and is a published poet. He is happily single and lives in North Toronto. Elissa Timothy is an on again, off again, writer. Her projects include poetry and short stories, often combined with performance pieces for site-specific installations. Her podcast, titled "Mother Daughter", is on the cloud and includes voice actors from Workman Arts. The address for the podcast is soundcloud.com/wwaudiostorytelling. Elissa's most recent poetic publication is part of the group blog, https://messageinabottleproject.tumblr.com. The entire project will become a site-specific installation later this year. The individual poems and medication bottles will each be included in the installation. Emily Sweet is a mixed media artist in Toronto. Exploring many mediums in her Fine Arts program at Centennial College has allowed her to find her own personal style. She has shown her work in countless art shows and auctions across North America, including the internationally curated Tech Art Show at The Ontario Science Center. Emily has been published internationally, by the U K clothing line Zulily and Think Big Magazine in Washington, DC to the Montreal-based apparel company Mister Dress Up and Toronto's own Comic Jam Book. Emily's art questions social stigma and promotes change through colorful Dreamscapes. Eve Crandall is a self-taught maker and artist, whose current focus is mixed media collage, pen and ink and markers, and also fluid acrylics. She works in a variety of media, in images and in words, hoping to convey a world-view that embraces hard won life wisdom, compassion and personal growth. She hopes the visual messages will resonate with the viewer and accompany them on their journey.
Fiona Seth is a genderqueer illustrator, author, poet, filmmaker and erstwhile marketer from Toronto, Canada. They use pen and ink with digital colourization to make retro-feeling illustrations in vibrant archival inkjet editions. Their second poetry collection, The Air That I Breathe: Volume I is available on Amazon and Kindle, as well as their debut memoir, She Said What About Love, is available through Amazon, Kindle and iBooks. Genova explores, experiments, and examines almost anything, for better or for worse. She likes to meet (new) people of any background in person to converse, to learn new skills, and to share the world, diverse perspectives, opinions, and stories...the more time advances, the more she realizes how little she ever knew and will ever understand. Genova pursues many activities and cherishes certain people with a love of the absurd and a twinkle in their eye. Jaene F. Castrillon is a disabled mixed race 2spirit interdisciplinary artist, activist, author & award winning filmmaker who explores their relationship to the world through Indigenous teachings, ceremony & the wisdom of the land. His/Her art celebrates the brilliance and heart-break of living a life less ordinary. Laura Laughren (lorahliemaybe) is a Vancouver born self-taught diverse artist who lives in Toronto Canada. As a member of Workman Arts she centers her visual work in a variety of mediums and techniques. With a powerful mastery of color, form and depth, her pieces speak with intuitive loose and fluid brushstrokes, combining complex layering and wet-on-wet techniques. She takes inspiration from nature while conveying a serious and urgent undertone. Laura’s work is included in many private collections and has been exhibited in solo, group and juried exhibitions in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec since 1989. Lisa Anita Wegner is the creative producer of Mighty Brave Productions, a small multi-media production company. During a harrowing stage of her life when she was diagnosed with complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she began exploring various forms of visual art and performance as a means of healing. Her art practice grew to focus on the possibilities of artifice and adopted personae as a means of exploring truth. Her work has been shown at the Phoenix Art Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gallery 1313, Art Toronto, Toronto International Art Fair, Buddies in Bad Times, Artephx, Mesa Fine Arts Centre, Body Break, Lunacy Cabaret, Real Asian Film Festival, NXNE and Nuit Blanche. Lorette C. Luzajic is an award winning mixed media visual artist and writer in Toronto, Canada. She regularly shows her work in galleries, fairs, events, and journals. She is also the editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal devoted exclusively to creative writing inspired by art. www.mixedupmedia.ca Marisha Pula is a Toronto based illustrator and artist who creates work that is not only visually composed, but carries and contributes to a narrative. She paints on wood using gouache or acrylic, with resin. Often she uses an overwhelming amount of small objects to illustrate multiple ideas within a theme. She approach subjects concerning environmental changes, gentrification, marginalization and social justice. Currently she is creating a series exploring how the artist’s ideas, intentions and use of materials impact the environment. Markus ‘Star’ Harwood-Jones is a space-case and day-dreamer living in Tkaronto. As an author, illustrator, and film-maker, Star’s main artistic works include the all-trans documentary Mosaic, the Confessions of a Teenage Transsexual Whore zines, and a collection of short stories titled Everything & All at Once. Markus holds a BA in Sociology from Ryerson University, where he was the co-founder of
the Trans Collective. Markus is presently a graduate student at Queen’s University. Learn more, www.starkisscreations.com. Mayra Gemm was born and raised in La Paz -Bolivia before immigrating as a teenager to Toronto, Canada. After a health collapse in her early 20s, she has been using songwriting, singing, playing guitar and drawing as self-healing tools. Mayra discovered she enjoyed writing poetry serendipitously 3 years ago. She’s in the process of merging words, music, sound and movement into a unique improvised performance style of her own. Naomi Hendrickje Laufer (a.k.a. ‘Black Rose’) is a poet, visual artist and interpretive dancer born in the city of Toronto. Through the arts, Naomi tries to give voice to those neglected in society. She dances mostly to music played by street musicians and has facilitated groups in poetry in motion and ad art accepted into the being scene and Nuit Blanche exhibits over the years. She loves Europe, nature and languages and edible wild flowers.
Pamela Chynn currently lives Toronto with her black cat, Cleopatra. She is a member of Workman Arts, a participant of Sister Writes, and as well a participant of InkWell. She is currently in the process of completing her Novel Writing Certificate at George Brown College. Ruby Urlocker is a 20 year old writer, poet, singer-songwriter, and visual artist. She loves to spend rainy days inside being quiet, reading hardcover horror books, particularly with whimsical illustrations. She was influenced by Tim Burton at a young age, as well as Neil Gaiman and HP Lovecraft. She loves artwork that is dark but colorful at the same time. She began writing stories when she was six. She fantasizes about getting married, in a dream come true, and living in a cabin in a woods or the countryside, making elaborate clothes for her children and putting art up all over their bedroom walls, and singing all the time and making every day spent with her family magical. Talia is a Toronto-based visual artist who has a passion for using a variety of colours and tones when creating her paintings and digital art. Talia also enjoys writing poetry using her new creative and technical skills which she developed while studying art history in university. She hopes in the future to have more of her creative work exhibited like her acrylic, “Cityescape” which was bought by Target Store for presentation.
Want to See More Works from Workman Arts? “The City: A Place of Acceptance or Adversity” is the second issue for Workman Arts Online Literary Publication (OLP). The first issue, “First Starts & Beginnings”, consists of poems, short stories, prose and visual art pieces which depict the vast diversity embedded in origin stories and revelatory moments in individual lives. This issue can also be found on the Workman Arts website, https://workmanarts.com/ programs-events/ongoing/firsts-starts-beginnings/. Workman Arts also published a Literary Anthology in 2012 called ‘All that is Real’. To purchase a copy, visit: https://workmanarts.com/purchase-hire/merchandise/all-that-is-real/
First Starts & Beginnings (2017) (cover: “Starry Ignite” by Marisha Pula)
All that is Real (2012)
“As Workman Arts celebrates its 30th anniversary, it continues to bring to the
public, thoughtful and thought-provoking presentations […]to activate vital dialogue and social change to challenge the stigma associated with issues of mental health. Workman Arts is a diverse, inclusive, collaborative organization that supports meaningful recovery based activity grounded in artists practice, production, peer-supported mentorship, public presentation, community-building engagement and advocacy.” - (Bryen Dunn, “Workman Arts “Being Scene” – March 1 to 25, 2018 (Toronto)”, theBuzz, 2018)
“Workman Arts has overwhelmingly evidenced the benefits of engaging those with mental illness with the arts, through the many artistic careers and passions that they continue to foster. The organization produces works and supports artists in the fields of theatre, film, music, visual arts, literature, and more.” “In a climate projected to be increasingly accommodating, the future appears a bit brighter in light of the widespread success, beneficial results, and supportive community that Workman Arts has helped form in their development.”- (Alexa Battler, “Workman Arts: A Canadian Pioneer in Mental Health Treatment”, Minds Matter Magazine, March 30, 2017)
All that is Real (A Workman Arts Poetry Anthology): “Here you will find poetry that “rejects nothing and includes everything” from angelic exhortations, searing testimony and self-talking wisdom to the vile bragging of demons. Sometimes the poems are naked and sometimes they revel in brash poetic finery but they never lose the urgency and the honesty of those who dare to report on “life beyond the edge of invincibility.” – Robert Priest
Back page picture: “Encroachment City” by Laura Laughren