grown up guilt

my grandmother always turning on the light for me while i read and a flare of annoyance
grandma i can decide how much light i need to read i can turn it on for myself
i am practically grown up now

in our grad student apartment he always turns the light off without a word until i say HEY and he
says you don’t need the light on its daytime for god sakes, saves on the electricity bill

and i think of her pinched forehead sweet like strawberry jam hovering over my eight-year-old tense shoulder like fishing line taut rolling my eyes in an exasperated huff
her eyes might strain without the light, she says i don’t want her eyes to strain



Good Times

The kind of happiness you
become brimming with
A joyful contentedness like
walking trepidatious with a too
full coffee cup
Anxious that your loveliness might
slosh over
eventually it
probably will
a little
But these are such times
of swelling hearts and
happy poems and
spilled coffee has never seemed so much
exactly like spilled coffee



Side Step

He was growing in
side me
I felt his elbow jab
my diaphragm I
t breathe as his
tender foot punctured a
collapsing lung
I needed him
evacuated sucked
dry me quietly weeping on
a stretcher covered
in paper
Where is my mother?
Am I mother now?
When does the title
begin and
when does it trail off
As the wheels of the gurney
glide toward engine room
As the forgiving eyes of
young nurse ask you to count
from ten
When does m/otherhood end
When is my body mine
alone again
Can I go home and
light a candle now
shaken relieved mourning
a forgotten cell
dank and multiplying
like virus
reeling of you
reeking of an
unfetchable loss
Grant Me Mercy
I am fucking free again



"I wanted to kiss you hard" Or, Missent Texts

A deleted cosmic 
flippant trail of 
spewing digital archival 
whirls about present and 
unauthorised grasping

The evidence of an affair is 
hurriedly hushed is 
swept under a quiet 
apartment bed 
But what if we gathered the 
quotations the 
sunlight that bathed 
the sheets the forgotten 
sweaters the stolen 
kisses in angular hallways 
and filed them in 
Public Record 
to bear our sins clean to 
hold up our misspelled affection 
and say, 
"Here is where It All Began, 
Here and Why and How."

If we catalogued the 
remnants the 
Thai food receipts 
then maybe we'd have more 
than deleted messages 
than despairing 
dispatched information 
how can we burn 
fragments of 
zeros and ones 
how can I kick 
a lost 
text in the



Lost Translations

Does the city you're in 
reek of me 
Do you tread the pavement 
wondering if my footsteps 
haunt the road that 
stretches between crosswalks 
Do my footprints linger
like shallow imprints made 
on poured fresh concrete 
Do you trace them 
First like shadows then 
like wading through snow that 
reaches your hips 
each step pulling 
longing agony 
Do you wax poetic on 
my thighs spreading with 
the divide that opens Elgin into 
Rideau and Confederation 
A war memorial erected at 
my tangled centre 
that wrenches the two streets apart 
thinking of sacrifice 
thinking of resistance and 
put to one side 

Or do you drift unencumbered 
A cruise boat setting off 
drinking tea and purchasing snack bar crisps 
Does your desire flow 
bursting and transient 
with the water of the canal 
that marks this heaving 
diplomatic city 




Your love
once engulfed me 
waking dreaming hours 
thoughtlessly obsessed 
an icy cave coated crystallized 
with passionate reckless mantra

But with Spring comes
rebirth of mind
promising breeze
melting memories until
they are a streak of
salt stains on city streets 
a gust of sand blown free

How is it that 
I think now with
indifference without
rage or longing
Your face a 
glimmer in an April
Your breath the 
monotonous whir of
cars on a distant highway
Heedless, Omniscient 
and wholly ignored 




Fig. 1
We are sitting, appropriately spaced
he and I
spaced roughly eight
smooth hard inches
from one another
on his parents’ couch
delicately lit
yellow light
reading his poetry

Fig. 1b
I flip through his books
find lines I like
to proclaim aloud
and his hand
his fingers
his palm
the tendons of the
tendrils that lead from knuckle
to nail from marrow
to keratin

Fig. 1c
I lean forward elbows 
on knees
flip and read
and the twitch takes
form as his
knuckles, no
the smooth
layer between each joint
they stretch
to glean
they drop
or shrewdly pass
they glide the length of my
spine as I grasp
the spine of
his words
and with 
this graze

Fig. 1d
A pause
His left hand outstretched 
clasping one casual beer 
comfortable in our
warm light in our
gap that begins to
converge as our space
did he glean Why did he
run the length of his finger
down me
to feel my hair to touch my shirt
to tell me
to thank me
as I feel hot blood or vomit or
cum rising from
hip to
chest from navel
to aorta
and My God was there ever a person on
this earth who wanted to reach out
and touch the face of another as
I do now

Fig. 2
Two single beds
together separate
so blindingly separate
he says he will
sleep on the couch
no we are separate enough
don’t widen this gap any
he crawls adjacent
lean form under covers
that used to be for
brother and he
where is here
where is this body placed
please edge closer I can’t
have this crack
between us
and he concedes

Fig. 2b
My lips when
have they been such
wanderers such
impolite, unasking
skipping mouth and
finding the length of
his neck nestled creeping to
his lobe as he

Fig. 2c
He pulls   breaks
he says he can’t when
he’s with another when
he’s made a promise
he cannot fall
I cannot push
and yet I    shove
thinking of
those hands those
knuckles those
tendrils leaning collapsing
particles caressing
the contours
and the

Fig. 3
We eat sushi suitably
sixteen implacable inches
from one another
across a food court table
talking of
work school family respectable lovers
speaking of confused
We are 
just friends 




She scares me
her angular frame and darkened eyebrows
next to my roundness
my circular breasts and hips
I delight in the fear
that I can fall into her severing eyes that soothe and
as she photographs me splayed on
a bare mattress
spotlights burning
creasing my skin with the knowing of
her buoyancy
the fretless fingers that play
I surrender performance
shield wit fancy other notions of value
I submit apprehension under her
gazing palms under her
caressing lens
a dripping, plead for vanquish
She accepts
dragging sweet shadow
across drawn eyelids, delightfully blind
prying me open




tense lexicons bar our borrowed phrases
modify our possessive prepositioning
your words apostrophize me
I am simile
an absent definition
an oxymoron
bracketing assumptions of subjectivity
an ongoing study, a conjunctive bridge
you run on dash to find Me
hoping for palindrome
hoping that as you read forward
you wind around
and find yourself there
that a sweet semi-colon may join
our absolute clauses
mirrored, possessive
that your research will lead you to
a triumphant period
the etymology of EM-ǝ-lee
rather than the terror of
ending a sentence with



object petit a

I draw a circle round 
your missing presence 
A singing pendulum of 
where did you go 
were you ever here 
were you ever you 
Or just a projection 
A blasted chord captured 
on film 
your negative shadow loops
endlessly on 
an undeveloped spool of 9mm
I fooled myself thinking I 
captured an idea of you 
and me, a mere amateur 
round the editing table
hesitant scissors in hand 



Four Grandparents Past

I am stranded Prospero
desperately whirling in land-locked
Southern Ontario
forming chaotic creasing
oceanic shorelines
to exile you with me
to wrench you back to me
Olenka, Bruno, Basia, Bernard
I seat you round a beachside fire
and ask
A conference entitled
“The Miraculous and Unexplainable Ways I Came to Be”
the hows of it
but when they appear they appear
as sea salt stone
lapping away at each question
at each gentle tide
and by moon’s turn they were
a lick of foul breeze
a smell of burnt kerosene
and the faint, teary exhaustion of Poland, 1939

I am just Patrick Stewart brandishing a driftwood staff
made of Flexifoam
calling gales in veils of history
of our story
I call up magics
on a barren plywood stage
house lights up
I infest my mind with beating on
and hum
I have done nothing but in care of thee
I have done nothing but in care of me
I have done nothing
asked little
listened rarely
I stumble scramble through photographs
crash back into me
How could I have asked you in your last days?
You smiling softly and saying you led a good life
all bones and
stretched on a sterile hospital bed and
slapping myself for thinking
now you really look like a Holocaust survivor

What else can I do
but write
each violently co-opted memory
hunching over each line
a wrinkle forming at each
alchemic verse at each
tangled pore
a usurping sorceress
leaving clenched tearstains
across textbook pages

Now my charms are all o’erthrown
or never were
just dreams just lies
just teary conversations over wooden
dining room tables
remembering childhoods plagued by
the Memory
With the help of your good hands
I could stitch
careful not to clap
with needle in hand
the sound might drown the sea  



Backseat Passenger

A station wagon sidles up to our burping Yaris
on Highway 400
a kid, maybe 13
with a flip in his shagged brown hair
window gazes curiously
and quarter-smiles
a twitch in his soft
still baby young cheeks
And me with my
too cool sunglasses and obnoxious
snap my eyes to the front seat headrest
unwilling to acknowledge the
decade and a half
connection that intertwines
me and this kid
through glass
while parents natter in the front
us kids
contemplate the road

Copyright © a contemplation (Emily Jones) 2013. All rights reserved.