Featured Writer of The Week: Paige McPhee

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I got lost in the met last Summer.

During a week in July where the air was as thick as the mobs on the city sidewalks, I became separated from my Mother and Sister in the icy cool of the Metropolitan, sifting from one room to the other like a grain of sand in an hourglass; seamlessly, without much effort or control.

As I developed my own current and flowed from work to work, I found myself thinking that if I were to become truly lost, I probably would not care. There were worse places to lose oneself, than around pieces of priceless art in a bevy of likeminded strangers.

There is a painting I specifically remember of a forest fire. Initially I was drawn by the bright red and yellows of the flickering flames, but it is the green that resonates the with me the most. The low hills coated in modest moss, untouched by the fire, furthest from the creeping tongues and crawling char.

I always found that funny as a child, that when building a fire you could not use anything green.
“Nothing fresh off the trees, girl. they just won’t burn,” my Uncle said, snapping brittle branches in his steady hands, and feeding them to the fire.

What a strange resilience life has to destruction.

I imagine it is that same resilience that keeps blood flowing when a parent loses a child, air passing through lungs when a wife leaves a husband, when a company becomes bankrupt, a building bombed, a city flooded.

With the setting of suns, and rising of stars, there is an otherworldly continuum that seems to spin the globe. to rise bodies out of beds, minds to mend, and hearts to heal.

and although we may not feel inclined – those mornings where our bones feel of steel, our chests heavy and heaving under the pressure of an empty hand, wallet, or car seat – it is the green that keeps us going.

Green that we may find in the smile of a stranger, a passage in a weathered book. the embrace of a loved one, an image in a dream.

We must remember, that although we may feel defeated or alone, beaten by brutality unwarranted and undeserved, or simply absent in the presence of our own person, that there are things that even fire cannot burn.

Copyright © 2015 Daniella Beca MyCompositionNotebook

I’m Still Here by Beth Hallows

I’m Still Here – Beth Hallows

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I sit and watch the people from my window seat.

I could sit and watch strangers for hours. Somehow, it calms me

Admiring what they are wearing, wondering where they are going, questioning why they are laughing; it brings me peace.

I find inspiration in the strangers I watch. I wonder if they are like me. I wonder if they are sad.

The city is buzzing with runners and joggers, drivers and j-walkers. But to me, it is quiet.

People are so interesting; I become intrigued to know why a couple is carrying cardboard boxes filled with bubble gum pink gift bags.

I want to know

Why some people look so angry. Why their steps are so deliberate, why their faces are frozen.

People shout, people smile, and I want to know what for.

But some people look different

They are sad. It’s in the way their shoulders hang

And suddenly, I am with them.

My coffee gets cold, but still, I sit and watch

Because guessing the lives of these strangers makes me feel so much more

More than a cup of coffee ever could.

I think I see people I used to know, and a double take makes me realize they are not but

I wonder where everyone is going

How they got there, where they plan to go after it.

I wonder if people are lost; not just in the metaphorical sense, but literally too.

There is something in watching all these people move forward, that catches my attention

Because I am stuck; I’ve got no idea where to go.

But these people do. So for a brief moment, while enjoying my window seat,

I can imagine I am someone else; somewhere else, with some exceptional place to go.

Copyright © 2015 Daniella Beca MyCompositionNotebook

Saudade

“I’ve never heard that song before, I like it. Play it again would you?”
“Why? It’s not going to the sound the same” – an excerpt from Diary of an Awkward Girl. 

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The word Saudade in the Portuguese language, means to long for something. Nostalgia. That’s not quite the word for it, but it’s close enough. There’s no word for Saudade in the English language, I’m not making that up.

We will never have the same experience twice. How do I know that? Because driving through Times Square at 8pm on a Monday night will never feel the same, ever again. It’ll always be a beautiful sight, but you never get that first euphoric feeling back. So you have to shut up, sit there, and take it all in. Think about the way you’re feeling, how hard you’re digging your nails into the palm of your hands out of excitement. Your heart’s racing, and you can feel it as your fingertips are pressed against the glass. Remember that. 

We will never appreciate that moment of clarity, where it stops taking us 10 minutes to get out of bed. Because it eventually becomes a routine. How messed up it is it, that getting over someone becomes a routine. It’s even more messed up how many times the average human has to pick themselves up repeatedly. What’s even more messed up, is that in an instant we can relapse to that person, to any instance that feels like home. But the slightest gust of wind creeping through the window, reminds you of the cold February air, and how somethings don’t fit as well as they used to. 

I picked myself up again, and assumed I was more than ready before my heart could tell me otherwise. Until I’m seated in a restaurant, in a city that is about to steal my heart, and suddenly that familiar guitar riff echoes throughout the dimly lit space. The waiter drops a coaster off in front of me that says Saudade, and I question fate, signs, and all that  jazz

I question how I came home in August to the notion that a new kind of beautiful mind, whom never read a damn line of my work could potentially be what’s best for me. That every single time this year I drank about you, or drank until I was in front of you was happening for a reason. That this ideal human being, was never going to break my heart. Because don’t I deserve that?

But you should know better. You should know me by now.

So it doesn’t escape my mind, and I’m driving through the city thinking that you’ve walked through these same sidewalks. I wonder if it was the city that changed you.
I wonder if you wonder about me. I wonder if I made you see the world differently or in its complete form. And I wonder if I make you Nostalgic? Or something like that, not quite, but close enough. 

Daniella

Stained Muse by Adriana Moraes

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You like your girls clean
Unscathed
Untouched
Pristine
Porcelain skin canvases for you to paint your sins
You decorate them with your stencil blade
Lock their pores in
Blood and Liquor and Tears
each medium a delicate selection from your palette of regrets.
In the mornings
you set your unfinished work free
Half human
Half yours
It walks aimlessly through a city of Murals and Museums
but nothing compares to what you’ve done.
A starving artist
who feasts on clean girls.
Until you met me.
I’m not a clean girl.
I have unruly hair
sprouting from a skull with opinions.
I have a contorted mouth
bruised
from voicing my thoughts.
I have tainted eyes
bloodshot
from unmasking
pretty
deceiving ones
like yours.
I’m covered in myself.
There is no room on this stained skin left for you to ruin me.
So I’ll ruin you instead.
And I’ll leave you in the morning.
This time I’ll be the one
with the stench
of Blood and Liquor and Tears
lingering on my fingertips.
Walking straight lines through the city.
Avoiding eye contact with your art.
– A.A.M.M

 

Your French Needs Work by Kristina Pantalone

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This week I’ve decided to post a few featured pieces that have been emailed to me, as I try to finish up the final stages of my book. Kristina’s story was incredibly familiar, and put my friend group in disbelief once I shared the email with them. The piece of writing that came with it was even better. I spent Saturday afternoon with her and our mutual friend Emily (who does a mean Chris Brown impression,) and because they’re both writers, I showed them two efforts of mine that aren’t making it to the web. The more I surround myself with like-minded individuals, the more grateful I become. This is just the beginning for Kristina. Ladies and Gentlebloggers, I give you “Your French Needs Work”

* * *

Think of the theatre when you think of Goffman,
She says, and the skeleton in my peripheral laughs,
Tickling her ribcage as it bubbles
Up and outward –her hidden
Injuries reflected in the shininess of his forehead as he grimaces the flu away
As well as the fluorescence

It’s half-past two when we talk about space
And the existence you exist in

It makes me wonder why everyone started wearing hats inside
-Flu season?
But the draft doesn’t explain why you only act human in your sleep.

Be kind, my father said to me
And my mother, not unkind,
Told me to let go or at the very least, be smart,
When letting go has always eluded my sensory perception

All my life, I try to listen
As I think, maybe I’ll get there one day

But broken hearts are serious things;
They splinter without precision,
Crack away at the meat of it
And bleed slowly out while you liquidate
The savings at the local bank

Your father waits for you in Nice
But I’ve always been patient, though tiny,
So not nearly heavy enough to keep
You on the ground

Cash? No, check, please, but please use lead
To carve the digits into me
Because I won’t spend it all in one place.

Shall we say bon nuit
Before I say goodbye?

The Rum Diaries

It’s 10:15pm on a Sunday, my Bleachers vinyl has situated itself in its new home, and I’m in a good place. 

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April’s flowers have bloomed, and I’m quite content with the direction in which things are going right now. I realized that when I was sitting in a Cab with my best friend, who was incredibly sober, and had to put up with me singing Gospel versions of Alt-Rock songs. Sponsored by Beck Taxi.

I think that’s my favourite part of the night, you’re sobering up and coming to the realization that you’ve had a good night, and you’re surrounded by individuals that have the potential to inspire you, even when you’re holding their hair.

I tend to create some of my best work, in these Taxi Cabs or the Washroom Stalls. I am the reason for Gracies’ bathroom line ups.

For good reason of course.

I’ve chosen the best pieces, and I’d love to share them with you. It’s my most honest work, with a lot more Grammar and Spelling mistakes.

January 18 2015

He seems disinterested in the world
But looks at me under the glow of streetlights
Like I matter
Hm

February 6 2015

I’ve written to you everyday
I write to God, I beg for answers
And when I’m mad I question his existence
I turned to religion, but Lord knows I’m begging for a Sinner.
I lose myself in bottles half empty, because I’m trying to fulfill the void you’ve left
(Ouu dark)
I asked the cab driver to give me a sign in hopes that he would bring me to you
But even I didn’t know where I was going
Or who I was going home to

February 19th 2015

People ask me what I see you
I tell them that you’re a Rock God
That I’m front row at every show
You started tuning out, technical difficulties I guess
What a rush you get from the attention of the audience
Your encore glare could kill a man
Leather God
Leather God
A rock song just came on the radio,
That’s odd

February 21st 2015

A homeless man asked my father for a quarter
and because he was used to the idea of expecting less
from people, he was shocked when my dad gave him more than he asked for
Whilst asking “Is this enough?”
When you told me that people perceive you in a different way
That it’s never going to be enough for people to shift their perceptions
I questioned how I could go from being a 3am thought
To sending you in my direction
And the more I drink, the more I repress, and the more I try not get nostalgic
The more I wish I could ask you how much is enough
And if you’ve had enough

March 28th 2015

A boy asked me today how I could write a dozen and more pages about a person
Why does the world need to know about this boy?
How could someone so quiet, silently expose so much
Because I could devise up a series
For someone that won’t publish their emotions
And it doesn’t take a well written heart
To write a best-seller
And I’m not an artist
but I could draw the way you looked in my eyes
And it still wouldn’t suffice

April 8th 2015

He was looking at me, adjusting his watch
Staring at my lips
and just by looking into his eyes, I knew that it was the type of gaze
That would haunt me as I was drinking tonight
It was the type of gaze,
“Baby I’ve already broken your heart”

April 23rd 2015

I think your favourite song just came on the radio
People often curse their loved ones favourite songs
Because it makes them nostalgic
I just want to sing them out loud

Until next week,
Daniella

Efforts by Bianca Scarlato

It’s 2:13pm, in R-Squared, a Cafe on Queen and Tecumseth. I’ve got one exam left to go, and Bianca and I are editing this post, while the barista plays Arctic Monkeys discography. Of course he would.

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On the last week of the hiatus, we’ve got Bianca Scarlato’s efforts. I’m once again lucky enough to have her work. Bianca will get into these writing fits and send me these at 3am, that’s usually when our best work comes out. After I finish sending her “WOOWWW” in caps, I asked her if I could collect a bunch of her After Hours pieces and publish them.

Ladies & Gentlemen I give you Bianca Scarlato. See you next week for #Clean.

***
Giving a girl what she needs isn’t always what she wants. If I were a boy I’d tell her how I feel. She’ll tuck me away and carefully place me in the friend zone for convenience. I’ll lose my return ticket back to when I thought I had a chance.
Us girls, we want what we can’t have.
See, the second we find the boy we thought we were looking for, he isn’t looking for us.
And we’ll wait for him.
And that boy who’s waiting in the friend zone is who we go to for help. And he tells us were stupid and wasting our time. But we don’t listen because we think we know what we’re doing.
And when us girls lay awake at night anxious because maybe he’s fallen asleep or our last fifteen texts didn’t send. We’ll call you. And you won’t answer. Because you’re with someone else.
And we’ll miss you.
But when you listen to our voice mail telling you that you were right all along. You’ll drop that second girl because she wasn’t worth half of the first. And when you get to my house with my favourite flavour of Ice cream and sit on the foot of my bed,
“Will you do me a favour?” I’ll ask. And you’ll reply with “anything” and mean it. “Will you lay down next to me?” And you do.
And for a second you’ll lay there in silence, not touching. But feeling.
This is it. You got out. Your hearts pounding and your palms have never been more wet. It’s funny how things work out for the best. You’ll run over the scenario three times in your head before leaning over and –
My phone will vibrate and the screen will light up. “Hey” it’ll read.
And I’ll reply to his text and hope you’ll go home.

***
Love yourself.
You have to love yourself before you love the boy who broke your heart, before your favourite pair of shoes that kill your feet, before your favourite food that hurts your stomach.
Love yourself because when you’re alone, you’ll never feel alone. When you’re sad, you’ll get over it.
Don’t worry about what happened yesterday, a week ago, a month ago. There’s a reason that you’re alone. The boy you were with yesterday, a week ago, a month ago, he’s not alone. He’s with a girl who’s going to be alone one day too because she didn’t love herself enough to be with someone better.

***
Last week changed my life.
I had my heart broken, pieced back together, I laughed, I cried, I became my own best friend, and my own worst nightmare.
24 hours can change a lot. A minute can change a lot.
Forgiveness isn’t weakness. Forgiving is one of the strongest things you can do. Forgiveness is seeing yourself in another person and learning through their eyes.
You have to learn.
Ask your friends for advice. Tell them what you want to do, let them tell you what you should do. Don’t take their advice. Don’t take anyone’s advice. Make your own choices so that you’re to blame when you make a mistake.
Screw up and screw up again. Don’t pretend to be perfect because no one’s ever learned that way.
Show him your cuts and bruises. He’ll rub alcohol on the wounds and it will burn, but it’ll get better. The crying girl sitting in her bedroom asking herself why this had to happen, she’ll get better. The girl who couldn’t think straight enough to write an introduction paragraph, she’ll get better.
But you have to know, that the secret to getting through the week isn’t letting him hold your hand and walk you through, it’s you taking his hand and placing it in yours. It’s you picking yourself up,dusting off your knees, wiping away your tears because you finally learned to trust yourself.