Poems

The Train

The train rumbles, the drunk stumble, the suits mumble and grumble away.
The sights are of city lights that drown out city lights
But there’s nothing quite like it.

A hundred people headed direction.
Not knowing how close to close connection we are

The train rumbles, the drunk stumble, the suits mumble and grumble away.
The sights are of city lights that drown out city lights
But there’s nothing quite like

Short Stories

Be a Man

I picked her up on my way home from work.  I opened the door for the both of us.  She went to the bed and I went to my computer trying to avoid thinking about it.  She sat there looking at me expecting me to talk about what had happened.

“Talk to me,” she pleaded.  “What happened?”


I remember when I was little my family went on this road trip.  I was stuck in the middle seat with my sisters on either side.  I wanted to sleep, but they were bored.

We made a pit stop.  I don’t know if it was part of the plan or if my parents were tired of me crying.  I tried telling them what happened.

“What kind of boy cries so much?”


I told her what happened.  She wanted me to talk about it and when I gave her a non-answer she started talking about how I always do this.  Maybe I always do.  But what more could I say?  I didn’t know what I was feeling.  I was mad or sad or confused and scared.  I felt like my lungs were filled with something and I couldn’t breathe.  I didn’t need her to talk; I just needed someone with me.  I didn’t know how to ask for a hug so I sat next to her.  I guess she was tired of trying.

Honestly she was right.  I was being selfish.  And this became about her.


I was always on the smaller side.  Everyone wanted to see if they could squat me.  I guess it got to me.  I started working out and I never got big, but I was making progress.  My sister was really proud.

This one time Dad took us out to dinner so he could eat with his friends when my sister brought it up.  He didn’t even look my way.  He turned to his lady friend and talked about how he was double my size when he was my age.

I don’t know what I wanted.  It’s not like I was expecting anything resembling support.  He always talked about how a man ought to live without asking how I spent the day.  I guess I let that get to me too.

I stopped going to the gym.


I just wanted to sleep.  I turned my back and covered my head with the blanket.  She stopped herself and almost unwillingly put a hand on my shoulder.  She didn’t get a response.  She was right about me needing to talk and me always doing this, but I didn’t know what else I could say.

She tried being nice a little longer.  But she got frustrated again.  Told me I needed to grow up.  Be a man.


“Be a man.”  That’s what she said to me then too.  I doubt that she remembers.  The first time she tried, it ended with me in tears.  What kind of man does that when there’s a half-naked girl on top of him?

Ultimately she got me to do it.  I mean, I said yes.  I had to have.

Short Stories

Escape

It had been eight months since Michael Pierce got released from prison.  He got 2 years for a trafficking charge 8 years ago.  When he went in, Mike was on the smaller side and got picked on so he bulked up and learned to defend himself.  He learned his way around.  The Official Version was that “Michael Pierce has become aggressive and manipulative.”  And the years started adding up.  “From initially a model inmate, Michael Pierce has become a high-needs offender that would need a lot of work in the community.”

On the inside he stayed clean from drugs and away from gangs.  And eight months after moving in to the halfway house, Mike was working two jobs, got a car, and was on his way to completing his personal-training certificate.

He got lucky with the house and the house got lucky with him.  The house normally only took low-risk offenders whose main problem was addictions and Mike was neither of these things.  But he was motivated.  The system has a way of breaking you down.  There was no way he was going back.

He got close with some of the staff, but never talked much about his family.  It had only been a few weeks since he made contact with his dad.  The rest of his family he hadn’t spoken to since well before his incarceration.  They were planning to meet up face-to-face in a month.

Mike Pierce was in the office during a shift change, “Machine Gun Johnny.  Leader of the Flying Dragons.”  Three hours later he was found dead, face down in his closet with a needle in hand.

family · Short Stories

Stuck in the Middle

I almost remember it like this, with Em glaring at a young, happy me.  Happy that he just got a new game or had a nice time out with Mom or Dad.  I almost remember her being angry at my naïveté.  But if I were to be honest with myself, I know it wasn’t like that.  There was no shouting or glaring or contempt.  She saw a young, happy me and she bent down, whispered in my ear.  She took away whatever trust I had in Mom and Dad out of love, not to be cruel.

I thought she was crazy.  But something like that has a way of staying with you.  A few weeks later, Mom bought me some game console and a week after that she told me I’d have to decide in court who to be with.

Fortunately, that never happened.  According to Mom, Dad straight up said he didn’t want us.  He ended up getting us on the weekends.  Unfortunately for him, he mostly only got me.  Everyone else was too busy.  Looking back, maybe I should’ve been a little harder to get.  I wanted Dad to like of me so much I became spineless around him, but I think he hated those types.  It’s funny how that works.  But, he tried.  He would always mention how he’s proud of me.  It’s cute looking back.  I never believed it though.  See, Dad had this “what a man is” speech that he always did.  I got the hint.

It’s also funny how my being so timid around Dad caused so much friction with Mom.  Dad never paid the child support on time and so it was our job to wring it out of him.  I remember this one time, Mom got so mad at me.  She yelled with tears in her eyes about how we don’t respect her or the money she makes.  How we take her for granted because I “forgot” to ask Dad.  I’m sorry Mom.

I’ll admit, it got better when we got older.  I remember in Grade 11 I really wanted to be a writer and I told Dad.  He really did want to support me, but his eyes gave it away.  Later, when I told Mom about wanting to go into counselling, she did the same.  But I get it now.  Parents have a weird way of dealing with showing their love.

I remember this one time, I had some “girl trouble” and Dad talked about the divorce for the first time in 15 years.  He talked while he scribbled on some scrap paper.  I think it helped him focus.  And, for the first time, I realized that they went through the same shitty divorce that I did.

Mom was a trooper too.  When I was in university, I remember seeing Mom look so fragile.  The worst part was that I couldn’t tell if she had gotten old or if she was always like this.  Em told me, Mom would buy the big bag of rice but leave it at the bottom of the steps until we got through enough of it for her to carry.


He stopped for a second.  He hadn’t gone to either funeral, but he always meant to visit.  He thought maybe now he could be honest with his parents.

He told them about what the other had done to and for their children.  Apologized for how much distance he created, for having a courtroom wedding that neither knew about, and ignoring most of their calls.  He hoped that they didn’t mind lying next to each other.  It just seemed kind of fitting.  In life they separated, but here they were together again.

He promised to bring his kid as soon as he’s born then started to pack up.  Before leaving he left a bottle of wine for Mom, a 6-pack for Dad, and some flowers between their tombstones.

Short Stories · These Four Walls

I. The Beginning (These Four Walls)

Jonathan lay in his bed tossing and turning but the moment his mind drifted from trying to find a comfortable position the images would come back.  He wanted to scream but when he opened his mouth nothing would come out but a whimper.

He was exhausted.  Everything that happened actually happened.  And it happened fast.  ‘A miracle’ they said.  Everyone from the 911 operator to the paramedics called it a miracle.  Paul’s legs were shattered, his left arm was hanging by the skin that kids his age make jokes of, and you could see Paul struggling to breathe.  And miraculously—although unfortunately for Jonathan—Paul was still completely conscious.  It reminded him of a scene from Evil Dead.  What a fucking miracle.

“Aaaaaaah, you got to get shwifty.”  Jonathan rolled around and reached to turn his off his phone, but thought given the circumstances people might want to reach him.  He looked around and saw the sun was starting to rise and the annoying little blue jay that always came by was already making a mess of the balcony.

“Hello.”

“Hello, this Ellie from the Coquitlam Victim Services Unit.  Can we speak to Jonathan?”

“This is h—  I’m hi—  I’m Jonathan.”  What an awkward question he thought.

The victim services lady asked Jonathan about how he was doing and he answered truthfully.  He slept about 2 hours in bits.  He only ate a bag of cheetos or two.  But at least he drank a lot of water.  And tomorrow he’d be meeting up with a couple friends.  The lady asked if Jonathan had considered counseling and if he would like a referral and if she could touch base with him next week.  He hadn’t, he might, and she might as well to make sure he wasn’t going to do anything stupid.  They never would end up calling back.  Probably because of more important things to deal with.

He was awake and it was morning and he thought it was probably best to get up but his limbs felt heavy and he could swear he could feel that his blood was coming to a full stop.  If it weren’t for his dislike of sharp things, letting out some of the pressure didn’t seem like a bad idea.

Two figures at a distance were watching Jonathan with great interest.

“I told you.  Everyone has a breaking point.”  One said to the other.

“He’s just struggling.  He’ll come around.”