The feeling of something just beyond your grasp. That you’re slipping away into a place you won’t be found. The feeling that just behind you there lurks in the dark something waiting not so patiently for its chance. The feeling of desperately trying to fight off loss despite how natural it is. The feeling that you need to make it, that one day maybe you will. That feeling of the unfamiliar just past what you can see. The feeling of reaching.
Untitled by Maya vB
Lowes by Jocelyn van Hees
She is the spark
When we were young, we played
And it was easy
When we grew, we didn’t speak
And that was easy too
But then, I was alone
And so was she
Like a buoy in a storm
She became the lifeline
She became the spark
It was only two years
But I guess that’s enough
She’s gone now
And I barely know how to swim
And I’m drowning
Clawing for the surface
Trying to survive in a world
That I wasn’t ready for
For the spark
Falling Short by Samara Cabrita
Everything has always been up for me,
Whether it be the cookie jar or apples on a tree.
The goals I want to achieve,
Anything really, if you can believe,
It’s always been up for me.
The clouds have always seemed just a bit higher
And you know, it’s always been my desire
Despite being quite happy with myself,
To not be a foot below everyone else.
Being smaller comes with its inconveniences,
Like when you’re shopping and nothing fits.
And when I was younger, in gym class being short,
Made it hard to play basketball and other tall-people sports.
I often find myself reaching for all sorts of things
It’d be handy to have a complimentary pair of wings
To compensate for my lack of height,
I’d love access to the gift of flight!
But don’t get me wrong, even if I’m 5’1,
It doesn’t disable me from having fun.
I was always the best at hide and go seek,
The seeker would take ages to try and find me.
And If you lose something inside a small crack,
There’s a very good chance that I can get it back.
So there you have it, a poetic report,
A little bit of insight, on what it’s like to be short.
quiet wonderment by Brynn Duggan
reach for the stars
they said so
i made stepping stools out of gravel and teetered my weight until i could almost
touch the clouds, almost
hold the burning cosmos but
we are not meant to have the stars
only observe them in awe--
i guess what i am trying to say is
not all that is beautiful is ours to have
contentment is not always found in the abandonment of reality to fulfill sketched dreams
it is found in lying down on cool earth and
The Muse by Kate-Lynn McGowan
In order to reach success, it is commonly accepted that your art must influence another artist’s work. But to me, art is successful if someone else dedicates their life to your practice. If they wish to become part of the art itself.
I knew the day of my success had come when she walked into the shop, her hands bunched up in the front pocket of her overcoat. She was nervous, if her motions were any indication.
Smiling, I welcomed her into my workshop. I pointed out the bowls I still had to glaze later that day. The blank canvases which lay on the table at the back of the room, the landscapes and portraits that hung in rows high up on each of the four walls. I brought her over to the secret shelves: where rough sketches and half-painted images dotted the wooden surfaces.
That was when she offered herself to me. “I wish to be your muse.”
Outside the Box by Avalon Fischer
I hear them calling
across this bridge,
where my thoughts remain empty
kept safe from the rude and the crude
from all delusions
wherein we are fooled,
to the reality scratching and biting,
hissing at us
reaching with claws,
tarnishing the very thoughts of innocence,
ruining chances of young minds,
never are we warned of lies
outside these barriers meant to contain us,
a thin shell
strong enough to deceive us,
here we emerge
into the open arms of society,
reaching out, calling for us
yelling and screaming at us,
since a young age
telling us who to be.
7am by Caitlyn O'Reilly
It's been so long since the spring.
I find myself waiting for better things than this.
Sunshine and the smell of chlorine poolside.
Flowers in my hair.
Rocks to scrape my knees on.
Or better yet, to sleep in the whole day.
And not worry about what's left to do.
My own heavy reverie.
Or better yet, a moment to close my eyes.
I spin the world round my finger.
I ask my mom to turn the heat on in the morning.
I try so hard to keep my voice soft.
I didn't choose to be born here.
All of my dreams are of finding something else out there.
I look up at the sky and wish away all the streetlights in the world.
Sometimes waiting for someone else to figure out everything feels like torture.
If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
All of my dreams are of leaving this behind.
But in the early morning haze, I want it all.
Every class and every book in the library.
Every street a familiar way.
A cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows and being able to walk to my friends' houses.
My cake served on a silver platter.
Sometimes the streetlights can be pretty, too.
When it's still dark I can make-believe they're stars.
Just for a moment, I want to ruin all my plans.
7am and the sun's risen.
The alarm's going off.
Reach out and turn on the light.
Diluting by Vanessa Berish
My split ends
on the bathroom floor.
painted your favourite colour.
stained with bottled scents.
Your preferences are
You said I look good in red,
and now my closet is bleeding.
You insisted I change,
and I became your greatest desire.
Your compliments are
I will be anyone you want me to be
if it means I am yours.
Untitled by Olivia Ersil
you are laughing,
head tilted back,
i sway in the motion,
turning to see my eyeline
clean of you,
you are stretching from the blue,
already kelp-wrapped hands grabbing
at my neck,
i lean over the side
wavering between pity
there is no decision of
my own to be made.
you reach up, pulling down,
the metaphorical bucket of crabs
brought to life
in your grasp.
now too pulled under,
i submerge my
ears in the cold,
we expire under
i gasp for the sky,
you clutch at my sides.
Mario Kart by Kayla Nixon
The bitter warmth of tea,
Burns my hands through the ceramic,
Briskly, at your kitchen table,
Miles of silence between us,
You laugh, and it's that familiar merry tune,
That we always sang together,
Except it's a solo, to a joke I didn't tell,
Your hair isn't french braided,
And my arms aren't sore,
I listen to you, slipping back to before,
And I remember,
All of the times,
My muddy shoes, your clumpy mascara,
I carried you through the woods,
You awoke at sunrise,
We never faced the day alone,
I remember everything,
Everytime you skid your knees,
Everybook I lent, that you never read,
Our golden ages,
Teaching eachother to skate,
Birthdays, tree picnics, your fat cat,
I See The Light by Aila McNeill-McKinell
I see it everywhere.
I see it in a room when the switch is flipped.
I see it tied around the pine trees, the fences and the houses when Christmas comes around.
I see it when I'm watching a movie.
I see it in the night, when the sky grows dark, giving the stars their chance to shine.
I also see it when an addict becomes sober for good and rebuilds their life.
I see it when a doctor saves countless lives that are on death's door.
I see it when a war finally ends, and no more lives have to be lost.
I see it when a PTSD-riddled soldier, after much time and a lot of work and support, can heal and truly live.
Everywhere there is darkness, there is light.
Where there is one, the other will be there.
No matter how long it takes, what form it takes, it will come to you.
My dad loves going to places like Home Hardware, Home Depot, Canadian Tire…
I think a lot of dads born between 500 B.C.E. and 1967 share this love.
He loves it.
It's a religious experience for him.
Lowes is another popular one, too.
As a child, he would drag me there in the summer.
We'd just stand there.
Making our way slowly through the aisles.
Stop. Go. Wait. Wait. Waiting. We're—we're going back. Wait. Go.
But every once and awhile he'd ask me what I thought about this or that.
"What do you think about this?"
"I don't know, Dad. I don't think much about garbage disposals."
I would get so bored, I couldn't move my feet.
That's what happens when you're a kid.
There is a level of boredom where you can't support your own body weight.
As soon as I walked into a Lowes I would just collapse.
I'd walk in and say, "Oh, I can't handle this."
The legs would just give out.
The greeter at the entrance would watch my dad say, "Would you get off the floor?"
I'd get up, walk around for a minute. Nope.
I would be flat on my back in the middle of the floor.
"I can't get up, Dad. I'm so bored."
Then he does that thing all parents do…
The whisper scream.
"I said GET UP..."
He'd try to haul me on my feet and twirl me around like spaghetti.
To no avail.
"I'm so sorry. Just leave me."
Maybe that's what adulthood is,
The ability to go to the most boring places of all time and remain sturdy as a rock.
DMV, boat shows, supermarkets, banks.
I’m not sure I’m cut out for the world of adults.
Apricot Tree by Millie Farley
Her personality radiated. I hadn’t known her for even a month, yet I felt I’d been observing her for years. She gave off the aura of an imaginator, an optimist, someone with too many wants and wishes. Ones that didn’t correlate with reality, ill thought through, quickly thought through and altering regularly.
She gave off the energy of a dreamer. But the sort of lazy dreamer, whose dreams were only ever dreams, relying on superstitions—dandelion fluff in the wind and the twirl of candle smoke—instead of actual work.
She was a girl who would sit under an apricot tree, waiting for an orange-red fruit five branches up to fall directly into her opened hands. Then, there I’d be: climbing up, five branches high, bark scraping my knees, imprints left in my palms. I would grab the apricot from its high branch and struggle back down with the fruit cupped in one hand.
“And maybe you would allow me a bite,” she suggests, leaning back her weight onto her wrists.
“If you’d helped, I would have. Otherwise, I think I will keep it to myself,” I counter.
“Do you even like apricots?”
I didn’t. The both of us then sat underneath the apricot tree.
“Scoff at me as I sit on the ground, reaching with my hands open. But Valentine, you are no better, with nothing to even reach for.”
Then she looked over at me and her eyes said ‘I know the life I want to have, do you?’
Drowning by Sadie Johnstone
sometimes I feel like
I’m drowning at sea
10 feet under
but nobody can hear me
open my mouth to scream
but no sound comes out
the more I try to scream
the more I choke
in my throat
my vision’s blurry
I reach out my hand
in the murky, frosty water
I feel numb
everything’s getting colder
would someone please
give me an anchor
pull me to the surface
and drag me to shore
but nobody can hear
so I’m slowly sinking
in my vision
The Unnatural History Museum by Niko Stevens
“Where there is a monster, there is a miracle”
My favourite place in all of London has always been the museum. A place filled to the brim with knowledge. It kept extinction behind glass, dissections in bottles, and dead things pinned along the walls. I could spend hours staring at the ornate stonework, the gargoyles on the roof and the skeleton in the lobby. A place of extraordinary life that I could get lost in.
It was called Oxford’s Museum of Natural History, and I was convinced it was only missing one thing.
Well, a dragon and a unicorn. A few mermaids couldn’t hurt. There were no werewolves in sight, even on the day of the full moon. I searched top and bottom for even a single firebird feather, but no dice. There were no gryphons or harpies, not even in the aviary. The sea monsters were nowhere to be seen. Though there were vampire bats in the nocturnal gallery, all the Dracula’s were out.
No matter how much I searched, I couldn’t find my forgotten, mythical creatures.
Mirror by Kathryn Burns
It was in those split seconds, brief moments that I could see her. Standing in front of the gold-rimmed mirror I could just see a ghost sitting at my feet. She sat peacefully, wearing a haunting look on her face. Her blonde hair was almost white and floated about her head, framing her face with a few gentle curls. Her ringlets glowed in the early morning light and I could not avert my gaze.
I used to be afraid of her, when she first started showing up. I would scream and crumble to the ground, sobbing into the heels of my hands. And by the time I stood shakily, sleeves green with snot and my face slick with tears, she had faded. I was all that was left, deep purple bags under my bloodshot eyes. Hair stuck to my cheeks, asking myself who she was. This little ghost girl who looked so much like me; she could’ve been my younger sister.
She looked up at me, I was so much taller than she was. It probably didn’t help that she was sitting on the ground.
“Hello.” she said softly. So softly I almost mistook her weak little voice for the sound of wind outside.
“Hi.” I whispered.
“Can you help me?” she asked quietly. She looked up at me with these huge gray eyes. This was new. She had never spoken to me before.
“What’s the matter?”
I slowly crouched down so I could see into her nearly transparent irises. I wondered what she could be afraid of. If she was a ghost, she was already dead. That ruled out a lot of scary things, such as being hit with a pickup truck, sliced to death by an axe murderer or abducted by the strange man who lived on the corner of Appleby and Morningbird. “What are you scared of?” I asked.
Seeing Everyone I Hate At The Rideau Centre by Kara Brulotte
the sky is orange and it is all
happening again, these days
are consuming, these years are
a word - we
break into houses and hearts and arts
school concerts, we
see everyone we have ever loved and
hated and cursed out, cursed to find
cigarette stubs under our fingers, to find
dollar store incense in the closet, smoking
hands on thighs and jawlines, lipstick lining
broken glass, we sit to avoid it. white collar phantoms stare
with an unseen wanting, unblinking, chasing us
around corners, asbestos nights, we are
choking on the
the dust and
the century: reaching out
for dry knuckles, for
pocket lighters, for
an early morning. jump start
the car and run into the darkness, visible
breaths, outrun these broken bones, this
eclipse. the horizon calls, with its black
hills and black lungs. we watched
a star die for the millionth time, frozen grass
under our feet - nothing
below that -
Cowboy & Spaceman by Hinata Derouin
I'm reaching for a piece here. I'm sure half the Lit Program has already made that joke but I'm unoriginal. Or maybe just great minds think alike.
I'm reaching for this piece like I'm reaching for the sky. A cowboy, smack dab in the midst of a duel with his mortal enemy. The sun is blazing on our backs, sweat trickling down from our foreheads as clumsy fingers fiddle with a trigger. Faced with a do-or-die situation. There’s a cowardly urge to abandon this piece, nestled in the roots of my mind. My hands are rising, shakily, ever closer to the blue, cloudy whisped sky. The piece is wandering from me. I don't know how to lasso and straggle it into something better than it is. I fear that these words might not make it out of the solemn decrepit recesses of my notes app drafts.
I'm reaching for this piece like I'm reaching for the stars. The words jumbled and crowded like a galaxy sprawled underneath my fingertips. I yearn for those words in the sky. I'm assembling them like puzzle pieces, grabbing an adjective, throwing in a verb and hoping for the best. I dream for this piece to mean something, to hold a weight as heavily important as how I feel when I look at the night sky. There’s a need, a pull for emotions to somehow squiggle their way into this piece like a shooting star across the plains of the night.
I'm sure this could lead to some nice metaphorical reference to Woody and Buzz from Toy Story. But maybe I'm reaching for that joke too.
Untitled by Ivy Janes
My mother always told me to reach for the stars. She said that if I didn’t make it, at least I’d have felt what it was like to touch the sky. My mother was so very wrong.
I shot off, and I flew, but now I am left in the dark.
Trapped in the lonely place between the stars.
I felt isolated, cold, and nothing else.
I was so small and so very alone.
I was afraid too.
And I was surrounded.
Surrounded by the dark lonely cavity that has swallowed me whole.
Tethered to nothing, hardly to my own body.
You know how they say “no one can hear you scream underwater?”
Well I learned way back in my childhood that that isn’t true.
I used to play in the pool with my siblings, and we would have underwater screaming competitions together, able to hear each other loud though distorted as we wailed our lungs out at each other.
Those submerged together underwater can hear each others screams.
But that isn’t true here.
Water can only stretch so far, run so deep. Such laws don’t apply to the abyss that envelops me now.
It’s so very empty here. Not empty like hollow - but empty like endless.
I swear that if I cried out, no one would hear. Even if they too were exiled with me in this frigid purgatory.
Its all so suffocatingly vast, yet somehow I feel stuck to the spot instead of adrift. Fixed to where I’ve fallen in this daunting abyss.
Stuck between space, and time, and dark, and nothing.
Oh how I hate the nothing. I wish each passing moment that I could find the energy and the movement to thrash against it,
But instead I remain still. Silent. Submitting to the dark. To the weight of the nothing.
I reached for the stars, and landed in a never ending all consuming void.
I fear I’ve landed here forever.