Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Cynics on the Bus Go...

Sitting on a bus in transit, Thursday afternoon in a November-flavoured Burlington - gawking stupidly out the window at all the snow that's too bare to be magical, and serves only to remind me that it's cold outside - listening to Shane Koyczan be better than me on my iPod, when a really ugly kid walks on the bus, eyes glazed over, teeth gnashing like a tiny pink orc. He's followed by his Dad, also pretty ugly, Maple Leafs swag bundling up the expression that screams from cracked smiles "I've accepted my station in life".

All I can think at this moment is - "Why is my mind so ugly today?"

It must have been a shitty day.

For my eyes to be met by nature's painted wonders, my ears to be filled with one of my favourite poets, and my space to have included the "I don't give a fuck" bond between a father and son - and for me to focus it all on the aesthetic of a cynical heart that doesn't often belong to me.

This world deserves better.

This day deserves better.

I deserve better.

So I call it beautiful.

I call it beautiful so many times that the words have dried the oceans of linguistic history until three drops remain


And like peeling hardened black crust from the open wound of a pool of fire, my eyes sting to remember the flavour of oxygen in their presence, sunlight re-announcing its existence as if, for just a moment, the entire world was looking the other way, this place danced in echoes of love and history, swirled in the deft flick of God's Bob Ross fan brush as if to create a happy little me who looks lonely and could use some friends, so here are a bunch of images to remind him just what this place is.

These precious moments flash like little wooden soldiers with red caps, our matchstick existence so bright and blessed that any seconds spent idling on the charred husk of our aftermath seems insulting to the warmth we've shared.

So burn brilliant, touch your beauty to those three drops and evaporate this outlook on life so the rest of us can inhale your positivity.

Life is beautiful. Breathe it in.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Participant Ribbon

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

It may come as a shock that back in school, I was not one of the athletic kids.

Most of the running around on dry land always left me gasping for air, flapping around stupidly in the hope that I could fathom their games, or at least dive out of sight. Recess became a series of experiments in interspecies biology as I tried to convince the fins that helped me swim through oceans of books that they could grip branches easily as any monkey’s paw.

So when the sun rose fiery like hellish laughter casting disdainful rays onto chalk ovals on the grass, I watched – skin drying out as they piled mats and measuring tapes into an obscene arrangement that could only mean one thing -Track & Field - The day they took this young square to a field of round holes with nothing but a mallet soaked in malice, and eyes burning twisted with the suggestion that a fine paste can fit any shape.

With hyenas cackling in the background, I couldn’t help but check the faculty’s sides for spots. I couldn’t help but check their encouraging smiles for foam at the corners. Bright teeth that said “you can do this!” covering up tongues that clucked “you don’t have a choice.”

Once a year, all day, I ran slow, I jumped low, I fell short in every way I could, with no option to opt out, trapped in the field, feeding the track, asking earnestly why we didn’t have yearly spelling bees, or writing contests to be told we didn’t want to make the kids feel inferior. They told me this after I walked off the track at the halfway point because the other kids had already finished.  And as if to back the ass up that had just shit that all over my feet, they presented me a shiny purple ribbon stamped with the word “participant” for every event because nothing deserves a reward quite so much as mandatory participation.

Once a year, all day, I endured humiliation after humiliation, only to be handed a special token for each one so I could look back fondly at those times and say “Yeah. They did that to me.” I could march home with my head held high and say “Look, mom and dad! I failed at something! Stick this fucker to the fridge, because if there’s one thing I want – it’s to be reminded every morning that this school only celebrates the strengths I don’t have “.

All we’re doing with these safety-pin placations is painting over lessons about loss and replacing them with prizes, so we can all grow up accepting that it’s easier to get a ribbon for doing what you’re told than it is to search your heart for the chambers in which your real talents lie.

Fish can’t climb trees, but they live and breathe the same water that allows those trees to grow. Aquaman is helpless in the desert, but there’s a reason they don’t send The Flash to investigate the deepest parts of the Ocean. Our talents are what separate us from the drones we become, so let me be the fish to declare that there is more to life than suffocation on the way up to the canopy, that there is beauty to be found in even the darkest recesses, and that none of us will ever win if we don’t stop running the same circles.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Between Fragments

She told me she didn't know how someone like me could love her, because of all the little pieces of her that were broken.

I told her that little broken pieces were some of the best things we had in common, and if we're both broken, then at least we'll get swept up into the same dustpan.

We've all got little hurts speckling our history like pimples on porcelain, and in those lonely moments when we play connect the dots on each tiny puncture, the lines become cracks and our structure splits to pieces like shattered glass in a little push, and each piece flies off until it meets something solid enough to cut.

A friend once told me that I was more than a broken heart. We stood in the middle of a lightning storm as the sky painted its own cracks and I thought how foolish and small mine looked in comparison.

Then I thought how beautiful they must appear to anything that sees us as vast as we see the sky.

When our voices cry in thunder and we weep floods to drown the tiniest things, when the splits in our spirit illuminate the clouds above our heads we are each of us, inclement weather.

Our scars are the dotted-line paths charted across the maps of our bodies that detail a route from "love me" to "it's over" but love, like any other journey, must always take the journey back and bring us home again.

We are all fragmented spirits - having lost more blood from our cuts than we carry in our veins, but like wrinkles are signs of people unafraid to laugh in spite of this world's horror show, scars are signs of people unafraid to love no matter how much blood they lose.

I told her it doesn't matter how broken you or I are, because love in this world is less like a jigsaw puzzle that fits together and more like a bucket of mismatched Lego - Leave the perfect fits in the commercials they came from, here, we slap together an array of shapes and colours and no matter the outcome, we have built something beautiful and entirely unique.

So expel the hurt like a sickness, cast it from your body like a gift from Hell and stand open, armoured, proud, and prepared to reclaim your place among the strong.

She told me she didn't know how someone like me could love her, because of all the little pieces of her that were broken.

I told her I don't know either.

But I love you all the same.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Instructions for Living with, and Surviving Depression.

It is imperative to note, before reading this manual, that you are powerful, you are beautiful, and you are not alone.


1. See a depressive episode descending before it lands. Like the moon crashing lazily into your home, there is nothing you can do to prepare. The sky is falling like it has so many times before, so close your eyes, and let gravity take over.

2. Watch your eating habits deteriorate, along with your social life. Try to force repair to both, and withdraw, feeling defeated when you find yourself bringing down those around you, and come home to vegetables spoiling in your fridge beneath a half-empty pizza box and beer you bought with bill money.

3. Open up to friends and be prepared to be met with a mix of uncertain support and inexperienced advice. They can't all see the crater where your bedroom used to be. Hear, once again, that you are choosing to feel this way, and that the amateur psychologists that live in your social circle-jerk know your mind better than you do. Spend the day feeling like a waste of everyone's time.

4. Read everything you can about depression. Online sources, comics, books, anything you can get your hands on for a quick boost. Solidarity becomes your morning coffee.

5. Feel weak, horrid, and alone. You don't get a choice in this matter; your mind has taken over. Realize that the energy it costs to want to get better is more than you have right now. Find yourself wishing, not to die, but to simply stop being.

6. You are chained to a telepathic stalker that periodically reminds you why you don't own any good, sharp knives. Your logic in this state is faulty in its eyes. Try to tune it out as best as you can, it knows all your secrets and will use them to press its lips to your wrists and siphon blood from your veins.

7. Suicide is not an option.

8. Suicide is NOT an option.

9. Acknowledge your nothingness. For all your inability to move, you are not allowed to stop moving. Focus on the paradox of what others would call your "wasted days" and let it anger you. Let your heart become rage and thunder because feeling hate is better than feeling nothing when you've lost faith that feeling is still possible. Scream and curse, spit vengeance at your pillows, you are a beautiful disaster and this is your reckoning.

10. Hold tightly the memory and energy of your outburst. Channel it anywhere you can, making sure that its destructive potential does not exceed your creative energy. Draw pictures in the ashes, and push yourself to new challenges, breaking apart typical conventions because your glory is anything but typical.

11. When the dust settles, step back and observe your creations. Draw conclusions about the artist as though you were in any gallery, speaking in hushed whispers of the power and beauty exhibited here. Collect it all together as an instruction manual on building a new moon whenever yours falls from the sky.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Thunder King

We called him the Thunder King

In a town too small for homeless but too large for community
He fit both roles like a pair of generous socks still warm from the tumble

Disheveled, unshaven, beaming an underpopulated row of crimson gums
He lived at night in our thunderstorms, silhouette appearing with each blinding flash like he could only be summoned by our electric Earth.

Us kids would rush to the windows for a first row showing of his ritual. A good enough storm, and he'd be sure to hit every street eventually. With a voice like the ancient blade of a battle-hardened Samurai, he'd slice through the torrent with a song that always signaled us of his arrival.

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

And there he'd appear, naked in the rain, beard and matted body hair soaked and dripping, spinning, twirling, dancing like Hell was at his feet and movement was his only salvation and sustenance. The dirt of a dry season trickled down the scalloped definition of his ribs, life's dirty hand of cards washed clean down his legs and ran off into stormdrains as he celebrated himself in what was more baptism than shower. The armour of grime caked on to protect him from the bladed indifference that threatened to cut him daily had been cast off, and the reality of the human beneath was able to begin again with a smile that believed somebody still cared.

Our parents would begin shutting blinds, and pulling us from windows as if the flash of skin was more harmful to our eyes than the flash of lightning.

"He's just a crazy old man"
"He's sick, and you shouldn't be watching him"
"It's not good for you to see these things"

We kept questions quarantined to our own quarters, queried in quizzical quiet, the riot of physical buried in the borders of our hearts - What was so damaging about a man who life abandoned claiming life from the raindrops? Dancing not with the Devil, but in spite of him and dreaming aloud with danger shrieking down from the clouds. It was almost as though our parents didn't want us to believe that there was someone stronger than them.

He was like a thread unraveled and allowed free roam by the fates, as he tied our stories together through neighbourhoods that kept to themselves. While parents called him crazy over coffee and cookies, we developed bonds in backyards comparing stories meshed with hyperbole until he was an unclad superhero, capable of splashing so precisely that water would seek its way back home and leave dry patches wherever his feet trod.

In this way he had become legend. They called him mad. We called him the Thunder King, and we stood in a sense of communal unity against those who spoke in ill favour of his particular brand of magic.

But as calendars flipped and changed, teeth escaped and replenished, and shoes shrunk around our feet like the velcro had fragmented into laces that wrapped our childhood in tiny nooses, we gradually stopped watching his dance. The sword of his voice grew dull and was weighed down by an iron price he could no longer keep paying. Eventually, all we heard was the distant thunder, heralding in the slow, but inevitable arrival of our adult lives, and the change in our thoroughly programmed minds that measured him on a scale from God to Madman.

In the late years of our adolescence, the summer we were deemed learned enough to act as societal contributors, we had allocated our value to stamped ink on a roll of paper, as though our blood-bound lessons defined us no more than the clothes we wore. We laughed and dreamed our parents' dreams for us in a late-night revelry that brought us to an old stone bridge, finely marinated in stolen brandy - the first of life's bitter flavours to which we would soon grow addicted.

He reeked of rot, of stale piss and vomit, and the back of society's hand. His eyes open wide, frame shrunken back in terror, he shook in such a way that would make dancing impossible.

How could this be the same man, from all those years ago, who owned the thunder?

Pity melted into disgust melted into anger at this lie our childhood minds had promised us. Sneers and insults became spit launched in his direction as he cowered, trembling against the cold stone of his open home, lacking the strength or self-respect to defend himself or even escape from our onslaught. Somewhere in the torrent of our cruel, drunken storm, the bottle soared from an overzealous hand and shattered on the wall just above him, raining shards of glass and streaks of brandy into the matted, wild tangles protecting his head as he cried out in terror, caught in harmony by one of our voices shouting "wake the fuck up, old man!"

We left as we arrived; in waves of cruel laughter.

Not a week had passed, when we were struck with one of those storms defined by 36,500 days, uprooting trees and splitting suburban life like the forks of lightning were silverware selected when God decided to eat us all. Roofs were catching ablaze, lighting city streets in a Roman apocalypse. The arrhythmic drumbeat of windows rattling set our hearts into palpitating terror as the roads began to overflow, water cresting the lips of curbs in the violent ebb and flow of Poseidon's temper, as suddenly, slicing through the air, clean, crisp, and like new, came a sound our beaten hearts had long forgotten.

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you

CRASH - bolt splits tree like a celestial axe and we dash to the window to see him, spinning, twirling, dancing

CRASH - Sweet dreams that leave all worries

CRASH - Water seems to evaporate in each of his footsteps, drops bouncing from his flailing arms back into the sky above

CRASH - in your dreams whatever they be

Dream a little dream...crash...

None of us shielded our eyes, we watched heaven send a crooked beam to his body and claim his journey complete. Anything that might have been left of him was washed, like his skin always was, down stormdrains until he simply stopped existing.

And why he chose this time to reappear was beyond understanding, after we saw the reality of his world and pissed on it to spite our own loss of imagination. It was like he saw what we were he needed to save some part of us before we just became our parents. Whatever the reason, we were granted one final reminder from The Thunder King, before he left us to design our own fate, to dream a little dream of whatever we wanted, so long as that dream belonged to us.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Crusade

Our love once breathed like the ocean was its lungs, and the ebb and flow of  its salted oxygen kept the blood pumping through the artery we shared.

We were a magical thing, beauty like simple baking, fire like celestial sex, moonlight like midday.

But our flight proved itself gliding. Our volcano proved a matchstick quickly en route to char, and in the last hush of a dying ember, you managed to find the passion needed to kiss me goodbye.

And it's a shame, you know?

You were so close to a universe of secrets so mystical and divine that the angels would weep to chance upon their revelation.

And were I to lay out these truths to you, I imagine your ankles might shatter under the weight of regret that would declare Earth's core your home and push you deeper and deeper like Icarus suffering an identity crisis.

You see, my darling...

...I'm Batman.

Tasked by gods & men alike to protect our fragile city from all who would name each day armageddon, and with this information come to light, I can better respond to your reasons for calling this off.

I understand that you need space. We all feel crowded sometimes, and that short-breath panic can send us rocketing from our feelings like a batarang that never comes back. What you must know, is that I am the night! And all you would need to do to achieve the space you require is look upwards into the dark sky, take a demon-winged breath and count your luck upon the stars.

I remember you saying the sex we had was just a bit too vanilla, and you needed some strange now and again. I was holding back, my love...I didn't want to scare you, but in the face of vanilla, I am a motherfucking Baskin Robbins. I dress in rubber and beat up crazy people as a HOBBY and then bask in Robin's ability to do the same when I grow fatigued and need to watch a teenager in tights kick some ass. So gear up and prepare to go spelunking through my psyche - crank that helmet-light to full and gaze into the awe-inspiring maw of my cavernous subconscious where you'll find an ocean of my mind's deepest thoughts, composed of equal parts kink and bats. So if freaky is what you're after, let me just tell you I have a separate utility belt full of gadgets they don't allow on daytime tv.

So on dark nights, this dark knight sits silent, stoic, perched atop a gargoyle's thought process hunting crooks and kisses alike and questioning why it is you ran away. You can't hide from love, like crime can't hide from me. So then why are you still gone?

Do you need more convincing?

I single-handedly make this city a safer place for every family populated by good hearts.
My IQ and my bank account are constantly trapped in a race to infinity.
I know six types of secret karate.
I have a fucking butler. Do YOU have a fucking butler?

I simply don't see how you can't find safety and security in the arms of a possessive megalomaniac with a severe martyrdom complex, an -obsessive- need to discover every detail about every situation, and a blatant disregard for interpersonal social reasoning because of a misguided belief that he represents an idea higher than the laws of man.

I just don't get how you can walk away.

I mean, after all...


...I'm Batman.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Food Chain

Recess is like a zoo opening every cage for a few minutes just to see what happens.

A sun-cooked asphalt abattoir protected under the blanket of parents and teachers broken record repeating “kids can be cruel”like they were giving us permission.

I didn't always get it as badly as I could have, thanks to my schoolyard superhero.

He'd appear as if from nowhere, his very presence ensuring I would not be picked on when he'd don a mask of red that I'd pull from his nose with my fists.

I was the 2nd most bullied kid in my class

And if today’s regrets could speak to yesterday’s dilemmas,they’d say “Stand up for him. He needs a friend.”

The hardest thing to accept is that it wouldn’t have done any good.

The survivalist in me knew that times I picked on him were my own moments of sick celebrity and acceptance.

The social food chain was speaking, and it did me no good to be eaten alongside him.

I didn't have to outrun the bear, I just had to outrun him, and keep my eyes trained off the marks its claws would leave.

I don’t feel I have the right to soften hearts with tales of torture at the hands of other children without first admitting that I, too, cranked the wheel on the rack. I can’t make myself judge,jury, and executioner without including defendant – found guilty,to the list.

It didn’t matter that the adulation faded faster even than the stains on my knuckles – I never missed an opportunity to transfer the schoolyard magnetism onto him, who deserved it far less than Idid. Because in him – there was not the ghost of cruelty. There was not a trace of cowardice. There was kindness, and interest, and all sorts of positive things to break him of.

Today, I just want to scream at the top of my lungs at the faceless fists and feet who wrought hell on the tarmac.

Just rear back and scream “Go Fuck Yourself!” and find myself unable for fear that the volume may crack my mirror and find me visibly outnumbered by jagged glass moments I wish I could take back.

We should have stood together…should have raised voices in unison making “stop” less of a plea, and more of a command. We should have been brothers in arms, but I took up arms against him,even when under the same uniform of matted mud hair and split lips –that hatred took a hold of me and I spread damage wherever I could like a friendly fire – with kindred my kindling.

The hardest thing to accept is that it might have done some good.

You don't have to outrun the bear when you're bigger than it, you link arms and make enough noise to send the bastard scampering back to its den, but this is more than the panic of children can comprehend, so I ran.

I ran, and I want to apologize, and I want him to tell me to go to hell.

I'm not looking for forgiveness or absolution.

I'm looking to tell people that this is what bullying is:

It's scared kids hurting scared kids before the group of scared kids hurts them.

There are no forest predators in this place. Just a herd of deer, some of whom have learned to sharpen their teeth.