Ocean View

Ocean View
I told her I missed the ocean
and she took me to a mirror-
telling me that the colour of
my natural hair had always
reminded her of a sandy beach
caught in the rays of the sun.
My blue grey eyes were the point
on the horizon where the water met
and blended with the stormy sky.
She told me it was okay to miss it
but that darling, I was the ocean to her. 

BB

Cardio Correspondence

I think that when I am asleep
my heart beats morse code
against the iron bars of
my ribcage.

The codes are received by
other unconscious hearts
that respond with lines
of their own poetry as well.

So when you meet someone
and there is that instant
unexplained connection
maybe it was their heart
that received your message
in the middle of the night.

BB

Penpals

I wrote a letter
so the words would no longer
linger and eat at my insides
with their acid intent.

Once the words were written
they were no longer mine
but instead belonged to the world
to perish or prosper.

I waited for a reply
from somewhere I called elsewhere
I should have known better
than to wait for answers from the dead.

Room Review

Room Review
To be read with: a cup of black coffee, spiked with Kahlúa. Like the drink, parts of the book encompass dark, bitter, and sweet flavours.

One of the most unique things about this book is that the author, Emma Donoghue, chooses to tell the story through the narration of her five year old protagonist Jack. I have mixed feelings about this as a reader. I will use the “sandwich method” of delivering my criticism, that is, one negative ‘sandwiched’ by two positives.

First I will say that it takes an incredibly talented writer to be able to delve into the linguistics and thought patterns of  such a young human being and have it come across as credible. After finishing the book, I looked through the acknowledgements and saw that Donoghue did enlist the help of child psychologists and experts. Jack’s intellect is noted a few times as being quite high, which allows the narration to take some liberties with conveying certain things that perhaps the average kindergartener would not be able to do. I also think that if you have children, this style may appeal to you for the novelty of being able to see the world through a child’s eyes. 

While I do acknowledge the talent that goes in to being able to write like this, I am not the type of reader that enjoys narration by characters that are children or animals. For example, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, or The Art of Racing In The Rain. These are all acclaimed novels and I don’t doubt that they are well written or that they resonate with a lot of people, I just find it tiring to be reading something written in a childlike way that could be far more succinct and accurate.

Another positive is that having a young narrator in a book with such uncomfortable subject matter means that Donoghue ensures that the point comes across without it having to be graphic. The reader understands certain things without having to cross the threshold into deeply dark and disturbing imagery, and I think that it’s another sign of Donoghue’s talent that the impact of the story is not lost without this.  

I definitely do recommend this book. The plot was very well constructed, if a bit slow for the beginning. It’s a quick read with a happy ending. If you’re planning on seeing the movie, I would recommend reading the book first. 

 

 

Blood Work and Wine Tastings

The needle slides in easily and
I wince, then watch
the blood spurt into the tube
swilling around the curved vial
like a Malbec in a wineglass.

I wonder if the technician
can infer notes from it as well-
earthy and sarcastic with
bitter undertones and a bold finish
would be what my blood says.

Aged well from a great year
but at the end of the day
the antibodies it stupidly carries
makes it kind of like
the wine is trying to destroy the bottle.

BB

Dust To Dust

When I left the house this morning
the sky was still painted ebony
and the stars glittered by the hundreds to the naked eye
like pinholes pierced through papier mâché
letting a light from elsewhere filter in.

I longed to hold the stars in my hands
and let them slip through my fingers like sand
maybe then my heart would slow down
realizing that we are all just particles of dust
at different stages of incarnation.

We will all burn too bright
we will all fade too fast
but regardless of these truths
someone, somewhere is looking at us the same way
and longs to hold us in their hands.

BB

The Unquiet Dead Review

Unquiet Dead Review
To be read with: tea that is both caffeinated and soothing; you’ll be reading this all night and you’ll be trying hard to remain calm.

This book was everything I could have hoped for from a crime thriller (which is one of my favourite genres). It was fast paced, well written, and the clues were woven in so that some are obvious and make you feel as though you could also be a detective, and others have you slapping your forehead later, since you never saw the twist coming! The bonus of this book is that it is written by a Canadian author and set in and around Toronto. Double bonus in normalizing having a non-white lead detective/dealing with cultural differences and in an every day way and not having it be the climax of the plot.

The plot was sometimes sexy and always dangerous, but it’s really the characters that will keep you invested and reading on into the series. I was thirty pages in and I logged on to the library website to order literally any other book by Ausma Zehanat Khan. The lead detectives are character foils Rachel and Esa: one a tough, hockey player from a dysfunctional home and the other a tall, gorgeous, talented detective that never fails to catch the eye of both suspects and fellow police officers. First, I love that there is a hockey player in the novel, a nice touch of Canadiana without being cheesy or unrealistic. Second, I love that Rachel is the hockey player and Esa is the beauty. Their dynamic together is wonderful. The crime their investigating is stirring for Canadian life, exploring some international roles Canada has played, as well as what life is like here for immigrants rebuilding after a crisis, mainly in reference to the Bosnian refugees of the mid-1990’s. The suspects, witnesses, and peripheral characters in the novel are a clever blend of likeable, provocative and downright loathsome. The interactions between the characters was maneuvered just as skillfully and just as absorbing as the actual mystery itself. I found that at the end of the novel, I wasn’t satisfied with the solving of the case. I wanted to know where the characters were going to go from there. 

This novel did not shy away from  having a Muslim lead character, nor did it exploit it. It did not make Muslims out to be extremists, or to be saints. Rather, it showed that some people are inherently good, some are bad, and most fall somewhere on the spectrum of both, regardless of religion. We need more literature like this. Literature that chooses not to whitewash things but instead show that characters are far more complex than just their religions. Religion definitely comes in to play, it has since its inception and will continue to for the foreseeable future, however there needs to be depth and tact where this is used and this novel delivers on every level.

If the above paragraph isn’t stimulating for you, this novel is exceptional just in terms of being a crime thriller. The mystery has plenty of suspects and moral ambiguity, things I love in detective fiction. There are twists and turns and expertly used back story that keeps you hooked and turning the pages. I think Ausma Zehanat Khan does a great job of slowly unravelling the mysteries of the detectives private lives, to the extent that the next book could be a precursor about either of the main characters and I think it would be wholly satisfying. I recommend this book entirely, as anyone who has come in contact with me while reading it can attest to. Great Canadian fiction needs to be celebrated and I’m excited for more great works from the author! 

 

 

Post Mortem

I got the autopsy report back
some time after your death;
enlarged heart damaged by
so many years of anger.
Esophagus burns from
holding in overdue apologies.
Liver weakened by overwhelming
resentment of the past.
Scar tissue and bruising on
nearly every vital organ.
Under ‘Cause of Death’
the coroner wrote mutiny
the organs were tired of
living an unfulfilled life
and there wasn’t a single damn cell
that hadn’t helped in killing you.

BB