I am fine until very suddenly I am not, chopped off at the knee by a memory cascade triggered by the most banal of things. I idly think of cleaning the shower curtain, running it through the wash, and instantly I flash to the one Tony and I bought together in Seattle, printed with a map of the world of colourful countries, indelibly marked with borders and cities in small black letters and a thousand domestic memories. Cleaning the bathroom mirror the day we moved in, hot water, hair dye, kissing through the clear plastic expanse of the Baltic Sea, the day I put his painting up in the kitchen next to the oversized pocket watch clock I bought for the wall, hauled on the bus from Vancouver as the perfect housewarming present, the evening we curled up on the floor of the bedroom closet, reading children’s stories by flashlight in the artificial dark. Hours spent in every room of a home we built for two, an apartment we found together, it’s all there, trapped in the recollection of one simple object, one of hundreds I’ve examined or held in my hands.

I have always been this fragile.

…But That Was [Yesterday]

Song on repeat, fingers frigid from typing, everything around me perfectly still. We’re talking about dying, about family in the hospital, about relationships that never were, chances that perished almost as quickly as they had become. I think about fire, about how much tragedy stains my heart, how much sorrow clogs my breath. The boyfriend who committed suicide, the woman who was almost my mother, dragged to death, pregnant, under a truck. Family wrapped in white sheets, counting minutes. A different parent, one of many, confused, waiting to die. There was a phone-call. Later, at some unknown time, there will be another, and perhaps the person on the line and I will cry together.

I’m helplessly needless and needless to say I owe you.
Helplessly needless and needless to say I owe you.

Outside is cold, the rain has half frozen, but I expect colder still. Clothed in frost, in the shirt of someone I used to love, winter is crawling through the windows, offering loneliness in place of flowers, memories of years when I still had a future. They play out like beads on a string of days, tallied in small bursts, bright but too long ago. How is it that days are so long, while years are so short? Fractions of lifetime stretched out over bone. Cells replicating. I used to believe that one day would be easier. Soon I will be too old for it. I will be done, the last page written. The book closed. Somewhere out there, past the glass, there is snow.

Well I’d wait ten thousand picks for just one more chance, just one more chance to see your face again.

The people around me do not know how to cure this sorrow. Tender, they insist on holding me or pet my hair, as if rocking silently is enough. Shivering, I require more, to engage, to pull my intelligence out from my pain. Perspective as everything. (Not everything broken can be repaired.) On the east coast is a grandfather, lungs filling with fluid, and a boy near the phone. We write back and forth, filling the void with comforting words, distractions, poetry, and rough jokes. We write back and forth and I do not know if I am helping. I do not know if I am like my friends, heartfelt yet inadequate, offering solace that would comfort me, but not them.

Well I’d pull, teeter away, at the earth with my teeth, the earth with my teeth to touch your face alive.

The piano kicks in, quiet, insistent, with a sound like birds. I am collapsing, fracturing, splintering, shivering into pieces. If someone were to touch me, I would explode, shrapnel embedded in every wall, with a sound like a wounded animal, terrified and very, very young.

You lie helplessly still as your face falls apart.
You lie helplessly still as your face falls apart.

My stress betrays me. Inside of my belly, chemicals misfire, hormones fail. I do not release an egg. “Progesterone secretion is prolonged because estrogen levels are low”. My womb is lost, continues singing for fertility, even with the map misplaced. The walls thicken, then slough. Bleeding seven days, eight, now thirty. A flood. I grow pale. The red spills like an endless creek, enough to fill a pail. I am a tributary, coloured scarlet. Chunks of flesh escape me as big as the palm of my hand. My breath vanishes, the world glitters, and suddenly exhaustion, fatigue. It is too much effort to ask my heart to beat. I cannot move. My body is a heavy as lead, my veins filled with gold.

With wax and wires and hair from the back of your head.
With wax and wires and hair from the back of your head.

With my blood, so sleep. I am awake in the dark, endlessly so. My breath solidifies, but my dreams do not. Instead I write, I reply, my back-log of messages attacked, finally, until dawn, the sun a smudge of gray the same tenor as a cough. To a former lover, lost for too long, I write, “Your silver hair makes me think of feathers, of flight, and the purity of light seen through the fractures of a crystal. Perhaps you are, in fact, slowly turning into a dove, one the colour of lightning, a tongue like glass and a brain ripe with electricity.” Our love was a wonderful thing, poetry balanced on edge, the quirky, deprived, and mad meeting together as one. Maybe somewhere is a world where it worked out.

Well, I can make your face brand new.
Well, I can make your face brand new.

We stay up late, my current love and I, an ordinary history of affection warped by misunderstandings, his lack of experience, the way he abandoned us the first time we fought. Where do we go from here? Defining what is wrong is only a first step, almost a year late, too late, almost a year since it all began. My eyes are glued shut with salt, hot and sad. His arm bleeds where it scraped against the side of the bed. My role has been counselor, not partner. Tearing words from his tongue has been almost impossible, the squeezing of blood from a stone. Together we have been teaching him responsibility, and though he is quick, he resists.

La da la da la da da da da da da da da da da

Dawn painting the top of the mountains, the world’s orbit sliding day into place. The urge to shift from bed, to draw on the window, withers against the memory of warmth, of shifting discussions, the lace of conversation drifting over my eyes like something imagined from a far away land.

You are warm, you are warm

There are only four ways for a relationship to end; stuck together or split apart, drowned with misery or flavoured with subtle joy. Duality doubled, basics, building blocks, the future laid out as cabled strings that tie lives together. Abandonment, paperwork, making tomorrow always better than today. I fought for us until he apologized, truth the most harrowing weapon of all, and then my heart burst, as if there was nothing left inside the pain but exhaustion, terrible, cruel, but free. Even so, we are lucky. Now, no matter how it turns out, as a couple or merely friends, we will find peace. We’ll love each other until death do us part.

Come take my hand and I’ll take your hand
And I will bring you out
Come take the line and I’ll take the line
And I will pull you out
In the sun

culture crawl!


Tony is in town for a long weekend this week, released from Microsoft’s gray walls by U.S. Thanksgiving, a holiday that celebrates giving the locals smallpox blankets. Or something. Wierdos. Anyway, quite handily, this weekend is one of my favourite Vancouver events, the East Side Culture Crawl!

So! Great!

*does a little dance*

Also, tonight is APHRODISIA, a dance party/alt local fashion/art show at W2, curated by Ash Turner and hosted by Crystal Precious.
And, for those with tickets and a word in, tomorrow is Global Warming.

In the next yard there were dogs that barked at me, and a llama.

picture of part of a thorn, taken by tony

Burrs in back the building, glass shard sharp, spiny as dried up sea creatures, something ancient, full of dusty venom, and camoflaged, invisible on the rough brown ground. The washroom was back there, a gray cinderblock building as inviting as a brick to the head, but my shoes were in the van. He found me there, helpless, caught like a confused fox in a trap, both feet pierced, and picked me up and put me on the stairs, where I could safely sit and pluck the curved thorns from my abused feet with my fingernails. My Sir Walter Raleigh, story told and modern, with a black knit hoodie instead of a cloak, a gesture as comfortable sweet as sitting by a fire.

They blow in from the neighbors, said the woman inside, as she handed us plates of box-mix flapjacks, weak eggs, and hard, greasy bacon. Her eyelids were painted an oddly stereotypical blue, the living memory of an old TV show, her hair styled like she attends a christian church. We use chemical weed killer, she continued, but there’s no stopping the wind. You’re lucky it’s not spring.

Outside, after, as I gingerly stood on the gravel shoulder of the road, trying not to regret breakfast, I saw an RV drive by towing a tall net cube full of colourful plastic balls behind it on a trailer. It was familiar, as we had paced it on the drive down, neighbors on the highway, stopping in almost all the same places. The driver smiled at me in recognition, and waved, and it was like we were friends.

It was warm there, once the sun came up, as wet as it is here.

love songs

Tony had a wonderful surprise for me when I arrived in Seattle: two tickets to the beautiful and bizarre Billy Nayer Show, the band that birthed That 1 Guy and one of the best movies of all time, The American Astronaut.

jhayne & the billy nayer

Flanked by Bobbie Lurie and Cory McAbee on the first night of the newest Billy Nayer Show tour. This one’s for you, Mike! We all love you!


October 23 – Portland, OR
October 24 – Arcata, CA
October 26 – San Francisco, CA
October 27 – Seaside, CA
October 28 – San Diego, CA
October 29 – Los Angeles, CA

good thing we didn’t get the wok, too

Today I am putting together a set of Ikea shelves as an act of devotion, running the pieces through my hands like rosary beads, expressing a sweet swell of affection with every screw and wood dowel. On half a whim, Tony and I went to Ikea yesterday, fount of all things storage solution, to unearth a set of shelves to go under my computer desk and slaughter all of the spaghetti cord monster clutter there. We found some that seemed perfect – tiered, white, with a cut away back for cords – but fifty freaking pounds. Not being drivers, either one of us, it was decided that walking the flatpack box to the skytrain would count as an adventure, if a somewhat dubious one, in part spurred by the fact that we both need significantly more exercise and that the station, while a few blocks away, was in no way far. An idea which would have been completely fine if we had walked down the correct highway, which we did not.

Instead of turning down Highway 1 we stubbornly continued along Lougheed, completely ignorant of our missed turn. Eventually we found a gas station and called a cab to rescue us, but not before Tony, bless him, insisted on carrying the unwieldy box alone for about twice the distance as would have been required to get to the train station, all up-hill, proving without a doubt that he is willing to carry my damned metaphorical books as far as a boy can and still walk the next day. And so, today, here I sit, surrounded by computer parts, boards, and pages of wordless instruction manual, assembling the shelf like Lego for grown-ups, breathing his name into every piece so that it may stand in my room as an unobtrusive yet significant statement to love.