poetry, Prose

Instead of killing yourself


By Louise Anne Buchler




Instead of killing yourself
You could make a cup of coffee, peel an orange, play a song you loved when you were thirteen, gangly, and coming undone.

You could paint your nails turquoise, lie in the sun, master Russian, watch Hitchcock films, read a classic novel, meditate on Kafka, and re-think existentialism, your life, your hair.
Watch trains, wave as they pass, stand on the bridge, feel small, feel big, take up space, walk, count every step, run, run faster, catch your breath, hold it, breathe out, let go, the universe as small as the palm of your hand, dispersed dandelion wishes, let go, let go and in letting go hold on
Say I love you, say I hate you, write a letter to your teenage bully, write a letter to someone you once loved, write a letter with all you wish to say and do not send it.

Lie on the grass, lie on the sand, plant something, keep it alive, feel the mulch under your nails, smell the wet breath of soil, pull out the weeds that choke and mar, make space for spring in your heart.

Tell a secret. Keep one. Fold an origami crane, unfold, fold an origami you, unfold. Listen to an aria, listen to Bach, listen to the symphony of voices in small spaces, pick out words, write them down. Observe everything.

Instead of killing yourself
Get a cat. Get 12 cats. Get one more. Feed yourself small spoons of kindness. Swallow. Repeat. Laugh at one thing, let the laughter engage your whole body; laugh at the madness, stupidity and beauty around you โ€“ your inner cynic may vomit (thatโ€™s ok). Remember your first race, remember the finish line. Remember yourself at 5,6,7 โ€“ remember yourself with love, the pictures you drew, the smell of sugar paper and oil crayons, Defend the scabby kneed, jewel of you, cast a line all the way back, champion that heart through the decades, wrap it in tissue paper, keep it safe in a cardboard box, champion all the incarnations of you. Remember how it felt when you understood that we will all die.

Try not to worry. Try to stay. Focus on sitting still. Focus on moving forward. Focus on the scudding clouds, the clarity of blue, September. Do not let the whim of others alter who you are. People come. They also go, they drown in puddles, they sail us over oceans of self-doubt. Sometimes they love us. Sometimes they understand. Sometimes they release us with a hook-wound back into the sea. Bid them well. Tread water, float, swim. Donโ€™t stop swimming.

Brave explorer, I know you have climbed a hundred metaphorical mountains before breakfast โ€“ every damn one an Everest expedition, I know something of world weariness, the longing to be still and Novocain numb, here, where everything ceases to matter, that unbearable anaesthesia; itโ€™s a quiet death and there is never a guarantee on the prescription pamphlet that you will thaw from this freeze – like a celebration roast on your birthday, or that change will come, running down the street with the laboured tinkling of a nostalgic ice cream truck or that you will wake a different person, who sucks positivity like a boiled sweet, a mantra of live! Live! LIVE, in your ears. I hear you, I see you, I send my love to you in droves of doves, a deep pelican beak abundant with fish, a handmade kite on a windy day, โ€œa bright red sloop in the harbourโ€ the suicide poets dancing mid air, their words like seagulls declaring their truth โ€“ statements are enough in broken climates. We are adorned in these miseries, the heart’s last vestige, it is a poor fit, we are all runway models with broken limbs, birds who forget their wings, we are stuttering like vintage cars, we are negotiating with our ancestors. We are not broken in need of repair, we never ignore the elephant in the room โ€“ instead we festoon it with marigolds, offer up a cup of tea. We know the impermanence of life; we consult with graves every day, toes dipping the surface, surveying the depth. We write our eulogies on the body, the staccato tattoo throbs the ending, we are anxious all the time.

I find a forced conclusion โ€“ writing it down I imagine we meet on an autumn day, the first leaves scatter like old news โ€“ our hands are cold. We sit in silence, the air perfumed with chimney smoke and the taste of green. We are held in the moment, a devastating despair, we face it together, we sound out sadness, mouthfuls of vowels swelling in gutfuls , escaping the gape, they flap and glide โ€“ our glossy winged birds, squawking and calling, diving like bombers, circling like vultures, spinning with sorrow. Perhaps we cry, perhaps we feed them bread crumbs and worms, perhaps we load slingshots with tiny stones and shoot into the void, perhaps we build an ornate birdcage, perhaps we become scarecrows, perhaps we release them, perhaps they return. โ€œI am not okโ€ we say, โ€œI donโ€™t know if I ever will beโ€ โ€“ for a moment the sky clears, we are a strange tragic chorus, we are a sad repetition. The birds abandon their squawking. We nod in recognition.


My first time

My father taught me to write
in books
Ones full of words, throbbing with ideas

One day I picked up a book
of his, it smelled like a good memory
I opened to a random chapter
my eyes saw a square bracket
herding a phrase together

I went to ask my father
about the marks he had made.
– Once you wade into a river,
you must remember where
you cast your line.

I ran those words over in my head.
Like an old coin you weave
through your fingers, the
rhythm of the unconscious.

I was reluctant to carve up
this soul I spent money on.

My first attempt was in pencil.
A book of poetry I left at
a girlfriendโ€™s house.

I went back to the store to buy
my own copy. It still looked the
same as the last one, unwanted
memories crawling out of its spine.

I wrote in the book
like a draft of my own.
My pencil skated through pages,
my head engorged in the words.
I couldnโ€™t wipe off the excitement.

Months later, I told my father about
this book I had devoured.
He picked it up, pencil marks
leaping at him like headlines.

– Someone has studied this.
He said.
– Oh, that was me.
I muttered.
– Thatโ€™s interesting.

A smile rippled through him.
For a second I could see
pride splash in his eyes,
a curious carp coming to the surface.



Canadian nuances

Canadian nuances – Part 7: The grizzly arrival

I remember tossing and turning the night before I left Vancouver. The morning I left was a mixture of brew great coffee/pound down some Ritalin/panic slightly/jump on the bag until the zip merges.

Bad weather circles these big changes. Much like the ripple a fish makes. Will your reward be a fierce archetypal mammoth that exhausts you…or will it be an overgrown fleaย  – an inflated ending – that brews inside the heart of moody clouds? I digress…

I left in the rain. I paid a cab, and slowly inched towards the yellow submarine. Coffee thundered in my chest, bees and butterflies bounced inside my head like giddy popcorn struggling to get comfortable. I remember driving down Main street. It was 5:30am. The sun was asleep along with the sensible. I watched the rain give the street an unconscious hue.

This was a street I wouldn’t see for a long time. I worked on this street. I cried in the rain. Found friends. Caught snatches of banter. Felt the golden face of the old clock watch over me…an invisible parent on a drunken night. Now I couldn’t mourn for this street or myself. It seemed very far away behind the taxi window, stained with rain.

I arrived at the bus station. I stood in line. I glanced nervously at strangers hoping their story mattered as much as my own. I was leaving home after a frantic week of planning, rhythmic drinking and watered down goodbyes. The anxiety made me drunk. I wasn’t falling over…just everything was in a haze at the station. Conversations flickered past without a glance.

I weighed my bags, paid the extra cash, dragged the dead weight to bus 19. Cabins of steel lined up, perhaps they were saluting me? I think I saw at least two throw a palm over their face muttering “didn’t someone tell this dude to pack less?”

On the bus I watched a movie on my laptop, read a chapter from my book, stared at the mountains and stowed vodka into my flask to oil the joints. It’s nothing to really write home about. The chaos happened, naturally, when I was one hour away from Banff. The moment I felt chuffed about the first 13 hours, collided with a jarring thump under my seat. A passenger in front of me jumped up a minute later and scuttled towards the driver like a frightened cockroach.

We stopped. There were mutters from passengers about us hitting a deer. Planting a murky syllogism in a leader’s head only leads to more marbles dancing across the floor. The driver pulled the bus over, checked the side of the bus and didn’t see any visible signs of trauma.

He tossed a coin inside his head, and continued. Burnt mechanical popcorn crawled through 52 nostrils. Shards of worry and an warning beep drummed faster than the fear in our hearts. We pull to the side of the road for the second time. The young driver stands up to talk to us.

A sense of shame clouds him. He forgets to use the bus intercom and starts muttering something to us. I’m two thirds from the back, I can only assume the first 6 people understand him. Myself and two other passengers raise our voices and ask him to use the magical microphone. We get told there’s a problem with the brake line. We now have a 3 hour wait. A shorter version would be something like this…

The bus dies. Bad news. 3 hour wait. The air conditioner died an hour before the loud thud.ย  Driver gives up and turns off the engine. Silence. The Wi-Fi dies along with the electrical outlets and we can no longer charge our phones. Now the cry of the 15 month old baby punctuates the situation. Many get up to smoke. We open the emergency windows for air. I walk outside and share my mickey of vodka (neat) with a gaggle of smokers. I tell them it’s neat. No one complains. We stare at the throbbing sunlight on the mountains, the beauty seems so far away now. The vodka paints a smile on me and I hand out a couple of my granola bars like Oprah trying to disrupt that sombre stares. I fall asleep.

I get shaken. I am barely awake. The driver is busy saying too many words that I can’t process. Others ask more questions my consciousness stirs. My Quรฉbรฉcois sidekick tells me something like “we’re getting on the rescue bus. grab your shit.” I give a slight cheer, and redemption pulls me into the new bus. Clean, leather scented, warm…all the signs of salvation. I juggle a few things and pound my bag into the overhead slot. Two elastic bars fuck with me. Drum roll please…

A new driver emerges. He’s older, something inside me relaxes. His hair looks like a burnt cigarette. We’re on our way soon. Great. The old bus has an “airlock system” and our baggage is trapped. I’m told we have to wait a few hours for it. One driver says my luggage is headed to Calgary and I must go there and get it. The rescue bus driver tells me it should arrive in Banff (my destination) a day later.

17 hours later I get off the bus. I say goodbye to strangers, and walk into darkness. I have a laptop, coffee grinder, French press (coffee plunger), no coffee beans, a heavy laptop, the clothes I’m wearing and a lonely bag of trail mix. I sit at the bus stop to wait from my brother. My knees applaud the brisk wind. I’m wearing shorts, of course. I feel incredibly sober again.

I spot a bobbing flash-light. I’m not sure if it’s a security guard, or a tourist riding a drunken bicycle. A beaming face emerges. The beady eyes of a brother, an old friend, a bouncy critter with a deeper heart. We fling our arms around each other after four years. We laugh. We separate. Seconds stagnate and we stare. We soak up the soul that lingers behind the eyes.

We embrace again. Holding, smelling, feeling, being.


days escape [untitled]

days escape

people teardrop onto the street, life throbs
conversation cigarettes from hand to mouth to laugh
mountains circle the town like an old stain
monument and mass watches me like a
steady shadow it clings to my conscience
with words you lost and a girl i remember

between breaths
riding waves of wine and ripples of your smile
our stares coagulate
our souls drunk on their own geometry

your eyes are full of music
a song flows into my bones
you lean into me
i tell you my name
we hug and you bury your breasts
into the tide of my smile

your speech is thick
a young river trying to find itself
the night is old…you are still young
wine weighs on your words

i want you to get home to your bed
but you are still sketched in my head
a warm hand pours into me
your eyes tell me you will be back

words stir
our hands separate





The PowerBook – Jeanette Winterson (review)

The PowerbookThe Powerbook by Jeanette Winterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A modern day collage of memories, love, philosophy, history and the grit that lies underneath all of us.

That’s my attempt to sum up the novel in a single sentence. What’s it about? Well, the chapters are laid out with headings you will see on a Apple computer (e.g, SEARCH, NEW DOCUMENT, EMPTY TRASH). Even the title is “The PowerBook”, which has the same layout as a MacBook does (i.e. an Apple Mac laptop for the layman). The story line flickers between an entity online called Ali (or Alix) who writes stories for other people for a living, and a love triangle in Paris. A guy who falls in love with two different women on separate occasions.

I read this in spurts over 3 days. Most of the chapters are around 3-5 pages. If you’re prepared for a postmodern story line that hops back and forth leaving some questions unanswered, this may be for you. Perhaps I was too caught up in the swirling metaphors and visceral imagery which, in turn, propelled me to keep reading.

The PowerBook may not answer all your questions on love, and the inner cogs of lovers. However, it’s a beautiful and moving read. I reckon you should give it a go.

If you’re in-love with someone else while you’re reading it…even better!



View all my reviews

poetry, Rantings, Uncategorized

4 am massacre

a verbose bird
typewriters outside my window
like a bell ringer who downloaded
too much cocaine

my cement legs
refuse to muscle up the courage
to deal with this imbecile

instead my mind
fondles the delicious trigger
of a 12 gauge shotgun
because no pussy pistol
will justify this moment

“but wait…” says the brain
maybe marinade the base of
the tree with gasoline and happiness
the flicker of flame and
stench of smoke
will help him finish his argument
and muffle voices in my head

“let’s go for convenience”
retorts the devil in my dreams
breadcrumbs in a shopping bag
and the cheerful glisten
of a baseball bat
to bring an end to the
symphony this asshole started





there is a story [untitled]

there is a story behind the
shape of your skin
the husk of your smile
guitar contours lace
the rhythm of your stare

โ€œthereโ€™s a circle, that
canโ€™t be brokenโ€ฆโ€
curses – stir through the
smoke of your cigarette

denim and man
forged into veins of your beard

a tin can
rattles in a song you
sang above the poised audience
begging for air



Original draft