1.Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
2.The Waves – Virginia Woolf
3.We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4.Devotion – Patti Smith
5.Curtain – Agatha Christie
6.Look At The Birdie – Kurt Vonnegut
7.How To Be Both – Ali Smith
8.Even The Page Is White – Vivek Shraya
9.Men Without Women – Ernest Hemingway
10.Surprise Me – Sophie Kinsella
11.Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke
12.Jane Austen: A Radical – Helena Kelly
13.Fascism: A Warning – Madeleine Albright
14.Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut
15.Gallow’s View – Peter Robinson
16.Exit West – Mohsin Hamid
17.A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
18.A Dangerous Crossing – Ausma Zehanat Khan
19.We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live – Joan Didion
20.Beowulf – Translated by Burton Raffel
You once asked me what I held
in the marrow of my bones
and I replied that it was a fire
that raged against ancient thrones
for my body has waged battle
since the dawning light of time;
the scars I wear are a tapestry
of the mountains I have had to climb.
There is something inside me that
causes the flame to spark and ignite
and it burns through me completely
until I cannot ignore the fight
so I cross my sword against sword
raze cities and kick down doors
I tend to my cuts and my bruises
and prepare for the coming wars.
To those who do not know my chains
who have not had to fight for much
my love can seem equally combustible
for some too hot to the touch-
but whether it is about loving or living
I do not fear defeat anymore
the deadliest foe I could ever face
is a world with nothing left to fight for.
So if you are someone I lost
by not choosing apathy over clashes
then I will do what I do best
and remain to make peace with the ashes.
I sat inside an empty room
and I began to write;
as the words came out
I stacked them in neat piles
until they reached from the floor
and pressed against the ceiling.
Column by column was erected-
towers of ideas I needed to express
and when I ran out of space
I began to fill my body as well
until all the previously hollow
seemingly cavernous spaces
where before there had only been
an ache that required something more
were now a home to all my lost words
and never again would I feel
incomplete or disassembled because
I truly existed in my words
and my words truly existed in me.
I wrote the words I had always needed
and said the words I had always wanted
until finally I was whole, I was free.
You and I are facing each other on a deserted street. It must be a little after two in the morning and the sky is a starless monochrome. The streetlights cast halos of soft light that drape gently down our faces and extend shadows on the asphalt backwards from our feet. We are close enough to run and reach out and touch each other but far enough that there is no doubt we are separate. Behind you I can see a thick fog rolling in, blanketing the buildings and the road in an opaque sheet, enveloping the world. As the fog nears your turned back, I call to you to come closer to me, away from the fog. I can hear voices all around and I turn to see people I know, or people you have mentioned, standing beside me and behind me. We are shouting out to you, in a cacophony that hurts my ears and makes my throat raw, but I can tell by your face that you cannot hear us. The fog is swirling so close to you, I can no longer see your shoes or the definite lines of your body; I can see your face as you try to hear what it is we are yelling. We are screaming now, a mob of outstretched hands, begging for you to link just a finger with one of ours, to let us anchor you and keep you safe from the dense unknown threatening to overtake you. The last thing I see as you sink into the fog, is a sad little smile, as if you do not believe that we could support the weight that is on your shoulders, that we would be brought down too.
“We are here,” we call in unison, the air has grown thick enough to touch. “We are not leaving.”
But you cannot hear us through the distance, and you cannot see us through the fog.
I never asked to
be your muse and I
take no prisoners-
so the next time
you wake up in those
dark and unlit hours
dreaming of me
do us both a favour
and set yourself free
because I won’t be
coming back to
do it for you.
I have seen wars
waged in the mind
both won and lost and
I have been destroyed
and rebuilt in time.
You cannot always be whole
or ever be completely ruined;
as long as there is
progression – as long
as you keep fighting
I will never
give up on you.
An ode to these wonderful
four legged creatures
with the tiniest and
simply cutest of features-
they are the only animal
split straight down the line
of personalities that are
either evil or divine;
one quarter fur balls
and another gentle kneading
the third part ungracious
reminders for feeding.
Perhaps the part of cats
most diabolically profound
is their need to push off ledges
anything not bolted down.
But on the other hand
(or paw, one might say)
is how perfect cats are
when enticed to cuddle or play!
When they sprawl on your stomach
or curl up under your chin
you must have that cat
before your nap can truly begin.
Unroll some yarn
so that they can play, sir
or if you want things to get lit
better pull out the laser!
A guilty pleasure
for one and for all
is watching your poor cat
chase the dot up the wall.
Lord have mercy on us
when they reject expensive new food
and when our toilet paper or sweaters
suffer the wrath of their mood.
Blinding is the glory of
a cute cat after a bad day
how quickly a soft belly
can make the stress melt away.
So when you’re in the trenches
of smelly cat litter poop scoops
please remember all of the times
your cat has suffered nose boops.
To adorable, squishy felines
we raise a saucer of milk
to the cute ones and the evil ones
with their fur soft as silk.
I love the way the fog unfolds itself over the city; a virtually opaque phantom, cool, damp and persistent on my lips and skin.
The fog is a delight for me, pulling a curtain across known entities and making me wonder how much we actually remember and retain about the world around us once our senses have been deprived. Can anyone really say that the world still exists beyond the fog?
I visited Jericho Beach for the first time on a Saturday morning of thick, satiny fog. I stood in my sneakers and rain jacket on the piles of driftwood and sand as the ocean and mountains in front of me were slowly revealed. First was the edge of the water with its gentle lapping waves, protruding from the fog in a tumble and then rolling back in under cover. This was followed by the dock extending clearly at first and disappearing into grey the further out it went- I could barely make out the small, solitary house perched precariously at the end of the wooden planks. Visibly the fog continued retreating until I could see a few of the boats anchored and bobbing between the waves a short distance from myself and the shore. The morning light cut jagged shards along the clear water as the fog rose up in a wall, unlike anything I had seen before. It stood in front of the mountains like a sheet a child has hung on the wall for a film projector. As the peaks began to climb higher than the fog, the thick cotton cloud began moving back toward the shore, eventually devouring the boats and the dock that had only been visible to me for a short time, and permeating the area around me until it seemed as if I was alone, save for the fog horns in the distance and the footsteps through the sand of fellow morning fog enthusiasts.
As I drove home across the bridge, the entire world was wiped out. Nothing else existed but the car I was in and the parts of the bridge that were directly in front of my headlights. I felt perfectly at peace.
What does it say about me that I love this natural phenomenon so much? That I find comfort in a form of low-lying condensation that hides me completely from everyone else and erases (for a time) the world in the way that I knew it? This may seem a little bleak but I think that the sea fog settling over my little island city is the most beautiful, wonderful thing.
I love hard and hurt deeply;
Sometimes I have to write my mind
On a paper and burn it
To avoid bleeding to death