Requiem At Breakfast


She made excuses. So many excuses. For him. For his abusive behaviour misbehaviours. She loved him. So much. So much that it broke her wide open inside. And, in his own disturbed way, he loved her. Wait, does a narcissistic sociopath even have the capacity to love? She could see it, the way his mind fought with itself and the raging passions of his heart. Okay, he got angry a lot. He suffered a terrible childhood. So, of course he should feel anger. No one understood. “When have I ever done anything wrong?” he would ask. He didn’t so much mean to ask this question as he did mean to assert it’s truth. Everyone just seemed to set him off. He blamed them all. Mostly, he blamed her. She blamed herself.

She did so many foolish, naughty and evil things that pissed him off, causing him to drink, rage, insult and leave her. When he drank he became scary, drunk with rage, possessed by rage. Words flew from his lips, words that humiliated her, cut her down to size. When he left, he refused to tell her where he went or when he’d return. She knew he had another girlfriend, a place where he’d seek refuge from her, from her craziness. He denied it, of course. His denial made it all the more real. So, she got on her knees and begged him to stay, gasping between sobs, gasping for air. He looked down on her with perfect disgust. She worried he wouldn’t come back; she’d die without him. Cruelly, he played on her fears and walked out the door. Leaving her in ruins. And how could she blame him? Stupid, stupid lying slut bitch. She provoked him. Every. Single. Time. She got what she deserved. Why did he bother, anyway?




Attic-Leon Emphraim-faded.jpg

People are just layers and layers of secrets and he can see mine, I feel it. His eyes scour me, peeling away layer after layer and searching each one. I look into his steel-coloured eyes. I see nothing there. They’ve turned to glass. I feel my heartbeat everywhere and it has a thin, papery feeling to it, like it will make a crunching sound if pressed too hard. And then, and then, he steps out of the light, and shadows, like dark water, slip into his eye sockets. So, without a word, without a sound, and holding my breath, I turn and begin to walk away from him. I quicken my pace, pressing into the distance before me until everything between us becomes a vapour ~ all of it, the secrets, the lies, the suspicions and even the tender moments.

And suddenly, so suddenly, I collapse, as the whole of my grief flies out of my mouth in gigantic, mournful, wailing sounds. My vision goes black at the edges, then fades. When I open my eyes I see a swath of bodies, their eyes peering down curiously at me. After a few eternal seconds, I stand up, only to feel like I’ll collapse again ~ the heat of so many bodies pressing against me makes it nearly impossible to breathe.

Without warning he appears before me, his breath brushing my mouth like a kiss. The letters of his name sit delicately on my tongue, discreet in the alphabet like a wish. We find ourselves transported away to a silent and empty place, a place without language, a place where hearts just bleed red instead of words, a place where everything looks red, rather than static white. And my heart, wide open like a net, sits at his feet, hoping to catch the sparkle that had long spilled out of me, and into him.

White noise descends upon me and roars inside my head, crushing my thoughts until they splinter into slivers of themselves, and disintegrate into non-existence. Everything sounds like the snap and crunch of breaking bones. My heart crawls from its socket, up to my throat and into my brain. And my words? My words have become prisoners, locked behind my clenched teeth. So, I have become impotent, a sort of mute, a fizzled spark, like lightning in a bell jar. I sit, dazed, in the unfurnished place known as my mind, watching my sanity swing like a pendulum between reason and madness. I wrestle with the volatility of words, the uncertainty of feelings, and the impossibly of certitude. Guilt flickers. And the heartbeat of this space thunders in my ears.

Time pulls thin like taffy. He, once made of beaten gold, lives in the marrow of my bones. I find I cannot flush him out. And the stories, they linger inside me, urging me, like dying stars gasping for their last light, to tell them into existence. I contemplate questions, so many questions. And I wait for the walls to whisper their answers to me. But they don’t. I chew on my grief, which tastes bitter and stale. My throat smoulders. And the shadows, they tumble, as I fall out of the light. And into a pit of broken glass. My soul has become an orphan. The world looks fractured in my eyes, made of jagged, broken angles I can only measure with worming droplets of my blood. And so, I try to patch all the shards together, only to feel like a wounded child with scarred hands.

I love him the way people love faded photographs. He holds all the beauty of the world and feels like home. Only the photograph’s torn, the beauty, broken and that home, burned to the ground. Loving him makes me feel like Icarus, whose wings melted when he flew too close to the sun. My love has become a phantom pain, a spectre. And now the sky sags with rain it will not shed and my arms have grown tired of holding up the air around me. A war rages inside my mind. Can I find no way out of my mind? Will this grief ever stop clenching at my heart like an owl’s talon clenches its prey? I long to collapse into bed the way a corpse collapses into a shallow grave. And I long for the reprieve of a dreamless sleep.

Alas, I can find no reprieve. The warring factions of my mind will simply not allow it. The battle rages on. It rages on for so long that each side has all but forgotten just what they begun fighting about. Words pile up in the ether of my mind, trapped there, prisoners of war, the casualties of my grief, the casualties of my love for him. How many times can love kill me?

I don’t know.

The walls have no answers and I’ve lost the key to the attic of my mind.

A Topography of Disaster

paco s

Everything falls apart, crumbles to a fine dust that leaves a bone white cloud in its wake. This bone white dust coats my throat, making it nearly impossible to breathe. I gasp, my chest heaves as I struggle to draw air into my lungs. I cannot. I feel hungry for relief, a reprieve from this monster stealing the air from my lungs.

Your sister died.
What? I didn’t even know she was dying. How?
Stage Four stomach cancer.

Disaster. I didn’t know. I had a feeling, though, because of the lymphedema – mum told me about it. I don’t think Gail didn’t want her to tell me. She didn’t want me to know. She didn’t want me to know. She told our sisters. She didn’t tell me. She didn’t tell mum, either. I never got to say goodbye. She never gave me a chance.

We have to talk about your dad.
Okay. What’s going on?
He’s got Alzheimer’s.

Disaster. Mum never told me. I had to find out from my sister. Angry, I felt angry. And disenfranchised. Shut out. Living two provinces away intensifies the feeling of disenfranchisement. I can’t say find the diagnosis surprising. I certainly saw it coming. I can’t say exactly what tripped the breaker and when. I can only say that hearing the words your dad and Alzheimer’s in the same sentence shattered me. It felt like I’d lost him. Only worse, because I knew it was the beginning of a long series of successive separations from him, each taking him farther away from me than the previous one.

He’s deceased.
What? Oh. How?
Oh my gawd. How did he–?
In the park near his apartment. There was an apparatus.

Disaster. The guilt – inexorable, suffocating, profound. The grief – labyrinthine, eviscerating, the kind that finds me howling uncontrollably in the bath. My thoughts turned to morbid things – what did his last few seconds feel like, how long did it take for him to die? And my heart shattered to think of the despair that drives a person to believe death will make life better. When I ponder the 18 years we spent together, the family we raised, the life we built, I cannot compute the event horizon of this grief.

Welcome to some of the recent disasters of my life: events that have cast me into the frozen deep sea, banished me into the darkest forests far from all connection anything and anyone familiar (even myself), flung me over the edges of my world.

Objects In the Mirror

“Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear,” she whispered to herself as the wet road whipped passed and the urban panorama flashed and flickered like scenes from a vintage film. The world seemed to have cast itself in black and white today with very mundane shades of gray in between. The words “closing time” appeared in the mirror, far off in the distance. And she remembered. She looked again, just to assure herself. The words looked tiny, far away. She closed her eyes.

The surreal thing about sleeping is that time becomes a wormhole. You awaken, intuitively knowing that a considerable time has elapsed since you closed your eyes despite your awareness feeling as though no time at all passed. It can seem mind bending to those with friable minds. When is real? How does one tell the difference between sleep and awake? Because, at times the distinction can seem somewhat random. And, indeed, objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

She opened her eyes to the sound of a howling sound that made the air bleed. A barbed tentacle thrust itself through her chest wall. Her sternum split into shreds, toothy like a tree branch torn apart in a windstorm. Her ribs snapped like large dry twigs. An inky darkness streamed from the gaping, jagged hole in her chest. The darkness contained all the dirty things that kept her from plunging head first into the oil slick of pain waiting for her beneath the surface. A stream of dirty things that once seemed so pretty, that once seemed like a kind of life support, had become a hemorrhage, exsanguinating her vampirically.

A malevolent voice whispered in her ear, “It’s closing time my dear.”

She tried to speak. The words formed themselves on her lips, though they had no sound. No. I still have time. I saw, in the mirror. It was so far away.

The voice laughed maniacally, then replied, “My dear, objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.”



When I think of faraway I think of the colour blue. The colour blue has a very short wavelength, scatters the farthest, reflects the most. The farther away an object, the more blue it appears. We strive toward blue, yet never entirely grasp it – like the horizon. Blue lies at the edges of what we can see. It represents longing, desire. No matter how much distance we’ve travelled, we never arrive there, at the edge of visibility, at the faraway point.

When I think of blue, I think of faraway, of where I am not and cannot go. I think of lost, lost to me, absent.


Rain Forest

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I returned from The American South with a hunger for the forest, my forest, my pacific rain forest. A friend of mine reminded me that, upon my return home, I needed to get inspired by my own locale – where I live. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Indeed, it did. It also enabled me to see with new eyes the beauty of nature within my grasp.

And so, I set out to fill my hunger for the forest. In Vancouver we only need hop on a bus to get to the seclusion of nature. We have a choice – Stanley Park, Pacific Spirit Park, Cypress Falls and Deep Cove to name only a few. On this day I decided on Stanley Park, Vancouver’s jewel.

I set out on a very sunny afternoon, the temperature 5 degrees celsius with only a wee light breeze. The park wore a palette of gold, copper, emerald, russet and even red, convincing me that many trees choose to wear their finery in autumn, not spring. I began at Lost Lagoon, worked my way to Tatlow Trail, to Lover’s Walk, the Rawlings Trail to the Seawall at Second Beach and finally to Sunset Beach, where I caught the tail end of the sunset.


Lost Lagoon – a landlocked, artificial lake developed with the creation of the Stanley Park Causeway at the Coal Harbour, extends the Burrard Inlet. Once a tidal mud flat and a rich source of clams and other sea creatures for the Musqueam, Squamish and Burrard First Nations, it has become a nesting ground for many bird species, both migratory and non-migratory.

An urban oasis, home to more than 200 species of birds, including a large colony of great blue herons, Stanley Park consists primarily of second and third growth and contains many grand Douglas fir, western red cedar, western hemlock, and Sitka spruce trees as well as an abundance of ferns and moss.

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Walking amidst the lush emerald green moss dripping from the trees, I felt like I’d travelled to an entirely different dimension – a magical one, the kind that not even the mind’s eye could conjure up. I could scarcely believe this place I called home had so much beauty. I knew, yet, I had no idea.

Welcome to my landscape.


jill ebrahimi

I stood on the street, watching tiny cracks in the window glass spread out like fingers. I stood on the street, watching this web etch itself.

I stood on the street, rooted to that one spot of ground. I could hear the wind whisper secrets in an unfamiliar language. I strained to hear, as though that would somehow enable me to understand these strange, esoteric sounds.

I stood on the street, rooted to that one spot of ground. The distant bleating of a car’s horn grew louder, closer and more desperate.

I stood on the street, rooted to that one spot of ground. Those tiny, jagged glass fingers seemed to beckon me forth.

I stood on the street, immovable. A raven flew past me, circling me before landing on my left shoulder. “It is time,” she whispered.