Friday, March 25, 2016

Forget about enlightenment

By John Welwood

 Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins.
Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones.
Open your heart to who you are, right now,
Not who you would like to be,
Not the saint you are striving to become,
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.
All of you is holy.
You are already more and less
Than whatever you can know.
Breathe out,
Touch in,
Let go.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

(A short story in) 100 Words

By Taryn Renee Nasis

There, growing at an alarming rate, was a snail, clinging to the bowl, half in and half out of the water, black as a Balinese pearl, and just as shiny and captivating. Flushing did nothing to sway the snail from its post. She didn’t have the nerve to prod it. And she most certainly didn’t have the nerve to poison it. So she let it live in her home to grow alongside her, tasting everything she herself tasted and bearing witness to a very private view of her femininity. She called it Constance, not for its habits, but its gift.

 As an artist, Taryn Nasis works with paint and synthetic polymers on canvas. As a designer, she creates print media that attempts to bridge her identity as an artist with my identity as a researcher. All of these roles meet on common ground, and that is her infallible hope to investigate and document various processes in social relationships. She is particularly attuned to the processes of longing and belonging, disenfranchisement and solidarity, rejection and attraction, and the power dynamics between humans that result as a function of all of these things.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Classic Hair Designs

By Moya Cannon

 Every day they are dropped off
at Classic Hair Designs,
sometimes in taxis,
sometimes by daughters,
often by middle-aged sons
in sober coats,
who pull in tight by the kerb,
stride around to the door,
and offer an arm.

How important this
almost last vestige
of our animal pelt is.
How we cherish it –
the Egyptians’ braided bob,
those banded Grecian curls,
the elaborate patterns of Africa,
the powdered, teetering pompadour,
the sixties’ long shining fall over a guitar,

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and the fine halo
of my almost-blind
ninety-two-year-old neighbour,
permed and set
in the style
in which she stepped out
with her young man
after the last World War.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Art AIDS America

By Greg Bisendine

 An artist reacts to artists reacting to AIDS in America.

 Thank God the AIDS crisis is over, thank God it’s a problem of the 80s,
like parachute pants, spiked hair and cocaine addiction.
I am at a museum, I am at an exhibit about AIDS,
I am surrounded by art about dead people,
art by dead people.
This is not my story. I am not affected by AIDS.

As if AIDS was a storm over some other part of the city,
a hungry lion burst from the forest into an unsuspecting African village,
a sinkhole that swallowed an entire family when everyone else was at the county fair.
As if AIDS was a speed bump that America encountered on the best road trip ever.

As if AIDS was not a metaphor at all but a virus.
A virus that eviscerates immunity,
a virus that oozes and bleeds and drips inelegantly from orifices and sores,
as if it was a virus that strikes at the core of our squeamish fear of sex,
a virus that punishes men for sex with other men,
punishes men for fucking.

Thank God the AIDS crisis is over.

A patriarchy fears nothing as much as emasculation.
Fears nothing as much as a man submitting to be penetrated like a woman.
Faced with this aberration in nature, President Reagan, and our leaders, and our people
were struck mute.

As if thousands of disease riddled corpses were speed bumps
for which America did not slow down.
And instead of lifting up the sick, the righteous
called fire down onto the abomination of homosexuality,
proclaiming AIDS as just punishment from the God
who had already stated his sexual preferences
when he brought us an immaculate conception.

Art about AIDS is not immaculate, it is ugly and uncomfortable.
There are fluids in frames,
a leather shroud of sweat,
paintings like open sores,
and the stained underwear of a man
who wasted to his death decades ago.

Thank God the AIDS crisis is over. This is not my story. I am not affected by AIDS.

I take a blue pill every morning as a gauzy shield against HIV infection.
I take a blue pill every morning because the secret I’m not supposed to tell is that
sometimes I choose hot, risky, MESSY sex over the immaculate interaction.

I take a blue pill every morning and most days when I do I don’t think about AIDS.
But sometimes, when I walk through a graveyard gallery of men who looked like me,
I remember how at 24 I learned that being true to myself meant I might die for it.

I take a blue pill every morning because drug companies and politicians are on board now
and want you to know that sex should be safe because,
if you can imagine,
you’re at risk, even
if you aren’t gay.

This poem was previously published by Drunk in a Midnight Choir.

Friday, March 4, 2016

To This Day

By Shane Koyczan

When I was a kid
I used to think that pork chops and karate chops
were the same thing
I thought they were both pork chops
and because my grandmother thought it was cute
and because they were my favourite
she let me keep doing it

not really a big deal
one day
before I realized fat kids are not designed to climb trees
I fell out of a tree
and bruised the right side of my body
I didn’t want to tell my grandmother about it
because I was afraid I’d get in trouble
for playing somewhere that I shouldn’t have been
a few days later the gym teacher noticed the bruise
and I got sent to the principal’s office
from there I was sent to another small room
with a really nice lady
who asked me all kinds of questions
about my life at home
I saw no reason to lie
as far as I was concerned
life was pretty good
I told her “whenever I’m sad
my grandmother gives me karate chops”
this led to a full scale investigation
and I was removed from the house for three days
until they finally decided to ask how I got the bruises
news of this silly little story quickly spread through the school
and I earned my first nickname
pork chop
to this day
I hate pork chop
I’m not the only kid
who grew up this way
surrounded by people who used to say
that rhyme about sticks and stones
as if broken bones
hurt more than the names we got called
and we got called them all
so we grew up believing no one
would ever fall in love with us
that we’d be lonely forever
that we’d never meet someone
to make us feel like the sun
was something they built for us
in their tool shed
so broken heart strings bled the blues
as we tried to empty ourselves
so we would feel nothing
don’t tell me that hurts less than a broken bone
that an ingrown life
is something surgeons can cut away
that there’s no way for it to metastasize
it does<
she was eight years old
our first day of grade three
when she got called ugly
we both got moved to the back of the class
so we would stop get bombarded by spit balls
but the school halls were a battleground
where we found ourselves outnumbered day after wretched day
we used to stay inside for recess
because outside was worse
outside we’d have to rehearse running away
or learn to stay still like statues giving no clues that we were there
in grade five they taped a sign to her desk
that read beware of dog
to this day
despite a loving husband
she doesn’t think she’s beautiful
because of a birthmark
that takes up a little less than half of her face
kids used to say she looks like a wrong answer
that someone tried to erase
but couldn’t quite get the job done
and they’ll never understand
that she’s raising two kids
whose definition of beauty
begins with the word mom
because they see her heart
before they see her skin
that she’s only ever always been amazing
was a broken branch
grafted onto a different family tree
but not because his parents opted for a different destiny
he was three when he became a mixed drink
of one part left alone
and two parts tragedy
started therapy in 8th grade
had a personality made up of tests and pills
lived like the uphills were mountains
and the downhills were cliffs
four fifths suicidal
a tidal wave of anti depressants
and an adolescence of being called popper
one part because of the pills
and ninety nine parts because of the cruelty
he tried to kill himself in grade ten
when a kid who still had his mom and dad
had the audacity to tell him “get over it” as if depression
is something that can be remedied
by any of the contents found in a first aid kit
to this day
he is a stick on TNT lit from both ends
could describe to you in detail the way the sky bends
in the moments before it’s about to fall
and despite an army of friends
who all call him an inspiration
he remains a conversation piece between people
who can’t understand
sometimes becoming drug free
has less to do with addiction
and more to do with sanity
we weren’t the only kids who grew up this way
to this day
kids are still being called names
the classics were
hey stupid
hey spaz
seems like each school has an arsenal of names
getting updated every year
and if a kid breaks in a school
and no one around chooses to hear
do they make a sound?
are they just the background noise
of a soundtrack stuck on repeat
when people say things like
kids can be cruel?
every school was a big top circus tent
and the pecking order went
from acrobats to lion tamers
from clowns to carnies
all of these were miles ahead of who we were
we were freaks
lobster claw boys and bearded ladies
juggling depression and loneliness playing solitaire spin the bottle
trying to kiss the wounded parts of ourselves and heal
but at night
while the others slept
we kept walking the tightrope
it was practice
and yeah
some of us fell
but I want to tell them
that all of this shit
is just debris
leftover when we finally decide to smash all the things we thought
we used to be
and if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself
get a better mirror
look a little closer
stare a little longer
because there’s something inside you
that made you keep trying
despite everyone who told you to quit
you built a cast around your broken heart
and signed it yourself
you signed it
“they were wrong”
because maybe you didn’t belong to a group or a click
maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everything
maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth
to show and tell but never told
because how can you hold your ground
if everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it
you have to believe that they were wrong
they have to be wrong
why else would we still be here?
we grew up learning to cheer on the underdog
because we see ourselves in them
we stem from a root planted in the belief
that we are not what we were called we are not abandoned cars stalled out and sitting empty on a highway
and if in some way we are
don’t worry
we only got out to walk and get gas
we are graduating members from the class of
fuck off we made it
not the faded echoes of voices crying out
names will never hurt me
of course
they did

but our lives will only ever always
continue to be
a balancing act
that has less to do with pain
and more to do with beauty.