Miigwech to all of the post-secondary students who entered the Gimaa Laforme Allyship Poetry contest.

First Place, $500 Scholarship: dialect, by Talia D’Intino

T.D., otherwise known as Talia D’Intino, has been writing since the day she could remember. Her favourite genre has always been poetry but she also loves to write fiction and screenplays. Her debut collection, 12:08, is available for purchase through the author herself, and her second collection titled Heart For Brains can be found on Amazon.ca. Born in Niagara, Ontario, Talia moved to Mississauga at twenty and never looked back. She is now 23 and studying Creative Writing and Publishing at Sheridan College. Besides writing, she has a huge passion for art, fashion, and trying new things. If she’s not at the gym, she’s relaxing at home or with friends; she is always up for an adventure as she believes it is what inspires her the most. She enjoys provocative, bold stories and her style of poetry reflects this. On top of her creative endeavours, Talia hopes to pursue a career in music or investigative journalism. You can keep up with T.D. and her writing through her Instagram account @t.d.writes. For any other inquiries, she can be reached by email @taliadintino@gmail.com.

Second Place, $300 Scholarship: Think of Someone, by Roswitha Bwanga

Roswitha is a current Sheridan College student completing her final year of Visual & Creative Arts. Alongside developing her skills as a visual artist, Roswitha is equally fond of poetry and finds writing a good ay to supplement her practice. While most of her poems spawn from personal emotions, she is starting to write poems that speak to a wider audience. By participating in this contest, Roswitha hopes to inspire people to think from different perspectives and expand their understanding of allyship. 

Third Place, $200 Scholarship: My Friend, I See You, by Bryce Schubert

Slouched over, adjacent to the broiling
aroma of the petite coffee shop, wedged
between a leaky water fountain and a dusty
academic awards display, is the girl flitting
through her own deadpan glint in the reflection
of her laptop screen—that is soon
to succumb to its own variant of
death. She watches students pass her

by, in the Stygian glow of her thousand-word
essay, but none glance her way with a pattering
pounce of pity for the girl—for each face with a
soul is fighting their very own battle; as is the

little girl who collapses on the northern shore of Ireland,
writhing like a gudgeon against the slick surface
of the sea, as she clutches glassy pebbles in her
hands and stares down at the wintry waves.
Only lopsided clouds that reach longingly through
the wind accompany the girl and her coastal reflection,
and she watches, curiously, as the marine life spar
dubiously to stay alive. The reflection in the monitor
presents the delicate and sunken cheekbones of that
restless little girl on her lonesome; only this time,
she doesn’t cry out to the northern sea for her reflection

to guide her. Instead, the darksome tint that is washed over
her screen, dissipates in its secluded and stagnant hue,
until the girl’s curious eyes burn into the pixelated display.

She has found her way. Across the sea, she has discovered
the piece that was long shed from her heart, all those years ago,
on the cerise coastal line of green. Finally, there it is—

a friendly face, staring back at her reflection.

No longer is the tenebrous storm stained over the eloquent
and frivolous display of academic jargon, for she, instead,
finds her own reflection to be rather friendly in its vigorous
glow of new life—

and slowly, the laptop screen presses down to its corresponding keys.

A friend is like a serendipity,

The start of a journey that’s fun and witty.

Just like the arrival of a warm a spring day,

That arrives after the cold winter’s away.

A friend who’s been here for a while.

My friend who loves me, no matter the place,

And cheers for me in different way,

Is there by me whenever I’m in need,

And who’s not being around for interest or greed;

A friend is a relation made by the soul,

Which when brought together, they form a whole!

It is thus a relation that never “stinks”,

As friendship is a ship that never sinks!

The mourning doves stopped singing a long time ago.
And for a time I watched the bird’s nest and thought, snidely,
Maybe they have accepted their grief,
the wallowing sorrow and sparrows. Yes,
maybe they no longer have reason to shatter good silences,
the old loudmouths finally sated.
I held a mourning dove fallen out of the nest
in my hands and it fluttered about—bit me—
and I remembered that old wives tale, about how
birds can smell oil and perfume on fledgeling feathers,
and how it repulses them to the point of abandonment. It’s not true.
It’s not true and yet
I believe it, the conceit that humanity’s self-consciousness
has its own thick pungency:
embarrassment and expectation, huckleberry and mud.
The way that sharks smell fear, doves must smell self-discipline,
and know just how sour restraint truly tastes.
They’re gone now regardless, long gone
the damned things, from fumes or claws or an axe
or a hundred things not satiation.
Foolishly, the realization comes, for I know now that they would
always find reason to sing so long as they were alive.
And not so much about mourning next time, if perhaps
they could help it, so much as
about the spackles of sunlight that waver through
the mothering cradle of their branches,
the solemn grey afternoons, the warm crush of a winter’s rain,
the earthly buzz of another’s presence,
a worm shared between dear friends.
No, anything less than obnoxious song
hides a cruel veneer of discipline—
the instinct to become periphery.
I have never known an embarrassed bird.
I propose they can smell blasphemy.
Because how could one gifted with a throat to sing
resist the temptation to break an awful silence,
crack it like landing talons crack frost on a dawn’s glade?

Within birdsong exists themselves in their entireties,
the beginning and end and mating and mourning to all its extents,
filtered down in sweet shame and tittering lilted tones.
The mourning doves have gone and with it, the singing.
They were smarter than I.
Not in their extinction but the singing, the screaming,
the hoarseness of becoming.
I speak them into existence still, a trembling line until something forms,
the image of their slender necks and
wings spackle-burned from overexcited sunlight.
Their open throats and their relentless living,
the song that makes them tangible, gives them shape,
justifies their place across the x y and zed
leaving talon-trails across the sulphur ash.
But it’s nothing we’ll ever understand,
oil and fear marked on every palm line.
And so things must exist for each other, really,
for who can understand the frost if not for bird feet,
who can know the song if not for the silence
who can know me if not for you.
Yes, what we leave behind is brimstone and birdsong.
so sing aloud with your whole throat until you find the right words,
cut away into the foggy forms like a taut string through clay.
Take as many starts as you need as long as you remain sincere.
I won’t ever mind the chittering, the sour notes, the shaking tone,
the fullness of your love,
so long as we carry each other.
Cup your hands and forgive me if I bite, if I don’t understand,
forgive the oil, the smell—
you are monumental and I am nothing.
Yes, in the awkward lines of me, the misphrasings,
the trembling slant of my jaw, the thickness of August’s sweet mornings
and the mud-marks of my boots a size too-large—
that I fear my voice more than any axe,
that I never want to be sated despite it all. Commit it to memory.
And when we walk together, tomorrow and every day after,
I’ll hear the doves again, perhaps,
to join in harmony
and guide us down, down, down.

An intersection between roads

my path crossed yours

as we go different ways

Still, I’ll go with you.

 

When the sun shines

I’ll smile with you

when the rain pours

I’ll wipe your tears.

 

Once the right rose comes

I’ll turn it from red to white

and before you, I’ll walk the aisle

watching you smile, beautifully in white.

 

Let me hear you.     Let me know you.

Let me be,     whatever you need me,

to be.

Til death do us part, will not be enough.

 

Allow me to hunt your ghosts

Take my hand to get up,

Rise before my eyes

feel safe in my arms.

 

We’ll go different ways, we’ll go the same way

and in case you didn’t know,

Forever your person I will stay

wherever you go, I’ll go with you

 

In spirit, I will always be,

for you, whatever you need me, to be.

Your person.     Let me be.

On a mellow afternoon, Sky and I perched our bottoms from metallic swing sets to gaze at the doves fondling their newborns. 

The sun lowered its gaze to show us in clear light the feet trotting toward the sleeping youth of nature’s home. 

Sky and I made a candy string from heart-shaped candy as long as tree branches in spring. 

We came earlier that day and twisted them into the swing chains so our tongues will not water from spring’s heat or the temptation to snatch the doves’ sunflower seeds. 

Sky and I exchanged candies; I got the red ones and she got the blue ones. 

The doves exchange sunflower seeds; We do not know how they conduct their offerings. 

Sky and I swing our swing sets east and west, synchronously; I am east, she is west.  

The west doves migrate to the east and the east doves migrate to the west when rain falls heavier in the west; They are not afraid of sacrifice which makes me think we should be more like them. 

When the west branch begins to falter because of soft rain, the doves of the east nest extend their branch to the doves of the west; The mother dove of the west blushes, but migrates to the east anyways. 

I extend my hand to Sky; She blushes, but accepts it anyways. 

Wherever your legs are going,
However long the journey is,
Even if the steps are incorrect,
I would come along with you
Even if it’s getting distanced a little
I would come along with you
In every sway of heart
I am there
In loneliness
In defeats
you are the one that walks with me
Hooo my friend the one that wiped my wet eyes
friend that stayed with me through ups and downs
The love tthat couldn’t get from mom’s lap
Came and surrounded me like a friend
Sharing with me so much memories that won’t be done in this life time
Our friendship has transformed from (kids)…to(adults)
In loneliness
In defeats

you are the first that walks with me
Hooo my friend… the one that wiped my wet eyes
MY friend that stayed with me through ups and downs
When it rains the papers become boats .
If I see you,
All the playfull of childhood reappears
By increasing silly fights with you
friendship flies excitement.
The knot that signifies beginning or ending, doesn’t get loose.

Two youth heading to the corner store

knowing the clerk would spot them the 10

cents they’re short.

Somewhere the pair had knowledge

they could have afforded not for

him to spare.

 

Lurching for love that takes you far away

from home. A crave for escape, nothing

more.

But pulling at the strings of scope

for who isn’t quite ‘the boy next door’

 

Not greeting someone you know when

crossing time lines in public, even if when

seen.

 

Carson backroads whose destiny is geared

to stay in the places they had been.

 

And the secrets sealed behind lips of bodies

you will never know the name of,

The same bodies that build the title

of your town labeled home

 

Thread laces my lips shut.

But, you slip your nail underneath 

and slice 

the offending fibers.

 

Thorns, shoved through my tongue— 

puncturing the inside my mouth, 

are plucked by your fingertips 

and flicked into fire.

 

Pin prick scars, 

left by the sewing needle, 

begin to fade. 

Soothed by the sound of my own voice breaking through; 

by your encouragement to let words flow freely.

 

We burn the restraints 

that caged my thoughts.

We let the thread and the thorns crumble.

The wind scatters the ashes of the past 

away from our future.

 

And, like cicadas, I speak to you as if you are the sun. 

And, like wolves, you speak to me as if I were the moon. 

Delicately listening to one another, 

day or night; we are heard.

 

With deep breaths 

during the lull between words,

our conversations are cushioned 

by chosen silence. 

Friendship is the sea. It can be cold and icy, or warm and steamy.
Clear and pristine one moment, clouded by storms the next.
With more faces than the moon, friendship is as ever changing as the tide.
Some friends wear you down like waves lapping against the shore,
others will lift you up like geysers reaching for the skies.
The right friends will stay by your side, no matter the squalls.
The wrong friends will drag you down, until the weight becomes suffocating.
Then there are those like the sun, who stops by to warm your shores,

only to go on their way as night comes.
Many will prefer the lake, or a pool to the open seas,
but they still stop by to dip their toes in and test the waters.
At last, you have the glaciers, drifting by, hiding their pain below the surface.
A once fixed presence, now melting from our inability to hear their screams.

Friend, 
Thank you for always being there,
For showing me how much you care.
No relationship can compare,
I love you and hope you’re aware.

Friend, 
Your smile always brightens my day,
I’m not the same when you’re away.
You always make sure I’m okay, 
In my heart you’ll forever stay.

Friend, 
My time with you goes by too fast,
I wanna make these moments last.
Future, present, or even past, 
Our connection will everlast.

Hurts a little yet i love

When u say goodbye and my heart burns

all i want is you to smile 

Though here i am with no glitter and shine

I wish u knew there’s more to life

I wish u knew what’s on my mind

No! i say when they say walk away

There’s yet another lifetime for us to be

We are meant to be and i know for sure

Finally u said it’s love within us 

And here i am hiding behind me a rose !

Your hand in mine as we walk down the street,

Laughter and joy lighting up our lives the moment we meet.

A sun to my rain, you move me along,

With the power to enchant my day as if nothing’s wrong.

A haven to go, lay down and cry,

Shoulder ready for me, my true ally.

 

My personal fairy to fix all my worries

You are my lamp in midwinter flurries.

 

Sensing your presence in the life around me,

Already writing to you as if it sets me free.

Waiting like a child to hear you speak,

Always finding your hand outstretched when sadness takes a peek.

I live for the joy that trails me on the way home,

For you always seem to have the perfect solution even for the unknown.

 

My personal lighthouse to guide my path

You are the firewood in my cold hearth.

 

Smile on your face as you hear me ramble,

Nodding your head and helping me up when I stumble.

When hoisting each other seems like fate,

And between us the time is never too late.

I wonder about the force that glues us whole,

To last years and the seven seas but still have a soul.

 

My personal pillar to steady my fall

You are the smiling pictures in my empty hall.

 

To have lived and walked alongside you,

Under the falling leaves and misty dew.

I thank the stars and the universe beyond,

Of blessing me with this heaven-sent bond.

To hold hands as we walk down the path of life,

My only wish— to have you in my afterlife.

 

My personal wind spurring on my soaring kite

You are my shooting star on a lonely night.

 

Friend as saviour 
A lost soul in world of darkness 
Panick stricken and under stresss 
Alone in group of strangers 
Looking for someone to be his “avenger “
Someone patted on his back 
A tall guy in hoodie which was black 
“ you need something “ was his first words 
Don’t know how he became  my world 
That’s how a jerry met his tom 
Embarked the journey still going on

I am my own person
with sporadic aversions
to different circumstances;
I’m taking some small chances
to make my advances
out of my comfort zone,
& I am not alone,
as I have the support
of those who I sort
into the particular category
of kind & simply there for me,
people who care about my story,
& call my steps forward strong
as I move along
in development of
experiences & hope
that cement who I am
into the fabric of the universe,
I’m better off besides those
who put me first
as there is such a thing
as a solitary creator,
a comfort evader,
this community sedater
doesn’t know about the true hive mind—
when you generate art & thought,
you comment on the humankind;
no one could be capable
of zesting the rind of life
onto the canvas
or page
or moulding it into clay

if they hadn’t had the world pressed into them
to the artist, solitude is numb
& we are one.

I am speechless, not because I am at a loss for words but you should have already known that;

I never knew the translation of the word friend in my native language before I met you, 

You called me “Ore mi” (my friend) in yours and I call you “Enyi m” (my friend) in mine and 

Even if that was the only word I had ever learnt, I am glad that because of you I’ll never forget.

How faithful are you to that word and how soon do you come running?

 like man when sent word from his lover or butterflies in search of nectar.

 Like a loyal pup to his owner or a keeper to his master.

 

I am no master to you, no, no you are way too stubborn for that.

But there is something beautiful about autonomy in friendship that I have always admired in ours,

That it was okay not to like the things you liked and you likewise.

That it was okay to be myself and be enough.

That we could see eye to eye 

And to you I didn’t have to be perfect, quiet, pretty, classy or tough.

But me and just me.

This autonomy allowed us to be in no need of each other yet gain so much. 

It allowed us to grow ourselves and then together

To fight, express discomfort and even bicker but in spite of all of that I was your friend and ultimately, I was me and not an extension of you or some Hollywood high school fantasy. 

 

My friend in the Morning, My friend at night

How I would long to tease once I first sighted in the day see you and how I would thank God for you every time the sun resigned

Our compatibility surprises me.

How well do your rays of love bright up my gloomiest hour?

How well do your showers of warmth and understanding put out my flames or rage?

How often do you adorn my dark sky with your dazzling stars? 

You compliment me and your company brings peace as fire brings warmth.

 

If ever we were apart, I am confident that I would be no memory to you

Nor a figment or your imagination,

I can swear that even in the grave I would be very much alive to you

Because you called me “Ore mi” and I called you “Enyim”.

My father enters my private domain
A thunderous tirade fills the air
“Work harder. Buckle down. Get going!
You need 90s to get into medicine.”
His idea of heaven.
My mother quickly follows behind
“Your father’s right, sweetie, listen to him.”
Oh, to fall like Lucifer
To reign in hell rather than serve in heaven
To release myself from this pointless purgatory
To willingly burn in the fiery flames
Rather than meet these overwhelming Biblical expectations
I am the prodigal child
Painting colourful kaleidoscopes on canvas.
My pencil turns into an artist’s brush, my homework a pallet.
The scientific formulae become artistic calligraphy
Before me on the page
Bam, bam, bam, bam!
“You’re falling behind! You’re falling behind!”
The windows of my room suddenly become bars
The sterile, gray walls close in
Darkness descends
The gates to hell beckon

We were told to sit next to each other 

Not knowing we would be friends for the years to come

Awkward hello’s and hi’s were passed

That turned into deep conversations about life and dreams 

We would sing together all our favorite songs; I didn’t know many songs but hers would be my favorite

We would go on walks during lunch and talk about our worries; more hers than mine

I was always a listener 

We have plans for the future 

Attending the same university, sharing the same dorm

Our wistful dreams 

Making plans like these are my precious moments of girlhood

We don’t talk after I moved away

But I feel her presence in many moments

When I go our on walks with new friends

When I listen to our songs 

When I do the things we considered OURS  

Our special things we hold onto 

Our memories we find dear

That follow us at every beginning, middle and ending 

I sit next to someone new, like I had with you.

It’s finally time for a new season to arise,
It’s that time of year when the trees shower us with juicy goodies,
As well as their dazzling leaves that twirl together,
As if they’ve received an invitation to meet us with Sugariness.
The brightness of the sun, casting a gentle light,
The branches and twigs begin to warm, as do the blossoms below.
The scents of these flowers are conveyed by the gentle breeze that flows.
The aroma of the seasonal fragrance will entice anybody nearby.
A magnificent view of the tall trees,
Their long branches are elegantly adorned,
The fruit carried by its arms ripened with its vibrant colours,
That sense of happiness and pleasure is acquired from this sweet delicacy.
It’s finally time for a new season to arise,
Soaking in the beautiful beauty of the once-a-year autumn season,
Embracing every single instant of its freshness,
In a lengthy warm hug of the environment’s preservation and worth.

I hate that I don’t remember the first time we met but I take comfort in the many memories of us since then.

 

The first memory of us that I have is iconic.

 

It’s the first day of uni, you don’t know this but I’m petrified.

 

Clothed in my amour of side eye and once overs, I float through the hallway hoping I look…something enough that no one would notice how shaken I was.

 

You approach me.

I cannot decide if you are incredibly brave or incredibly reckless.

 

I mean, who sees someone at swords’ point and approaches without amour?

 

I look at you with awe (a look you describe as snobbery.)

 

Turns out you remember me or at least a version of me I left on the shelf years ago.

 

Awkward dresses, bright smiles, white socks and brown sandals.

This version of me is braver and more reckless than I am now.

 

You manage to pull her off the shelf and bring her through the next seven years with us.

For this, I am eternally grateful.

 

Most days I still find myself looking at you with awe.

 

Like-

When you weather the storm as if it’s second nature,

Give grace for lemons

Refuse to suffer fools.

 

Do you know you’re the first friend of mine my parents have ever really liked?

I guess this means you are probably the first time my discernment was ever really right.

 

So in case I forget to say it

Or the world forgets to remind you,

 

You are beautiful ten times over 

And not just in the way a mirror tells you,

 

You are beautiful in the silence when your thoughts try to swallow you.

You are beautiful in the heaviness when the waves try to carry you.

You are beautiful in the saltiness when your tears try to drown you 

You are beautiful in the lightness when your laughter seeks to save you.

 

You are prayed for,

You are needed,

You are loved 

                                       

 

                                               Yours always,

                                        Roomie 

                     

                                                  Ufuoma Yekovie

2023

First Place, $500 Scholarship: Your Hand In Mine, by Suha Tariq

Suha Tariq is a Canadian writer and editor residing in Milton, Ontario who is currently completing her fourth year of the Creative Writing and Publishing program at Sheridan College. Suha works as a freelance writer, with previously published work as the Publishing & Web Intern for The Ampersand Review of Writing & Publishing. She is currently working on an author website and blog, and was also featured on Canada One News for their “Students In A Pandemic” special.

Second Place, $300 Scholarship: Untitled, by Dakota Tabicoe

Dakota is a post-secondary student from Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

*This poem was performed by Georgia Laforme.

Third Place, $200 Scholarship: Parallel Lines, by Nicole Abiyo

Nicole Abiyo is a current student at Sheridan College studying Creative Writing & Publishing. She has been writing ever since she was in grade three as she fell in love with storytelling. Her goal is to publish another piece of creative writing in 2023. On top of that, Nicole is a member of her school’s Black student association and is working towards bettering allyship at Sheridan. Her hobbies include scrapbooking, baking and dance. Nicole hopes she can make an impact on people’s lives with her writing.

Friendship is an ally
A strong foundation on which forever we will stand
Honor yourself, honor myself, and honor those who made up our past
Trust is in the words and the present story; it lays in the stone and brick of those structures
They are cold and gone now.
The friends of yesterday tell their stories; we unite and I listen
I yearn to support your heart and spirit
Seeking to reach and learn about your divine breath, where you hold mine
In delicate palm, we build in trust and silence and yet we both understand
We are on the right road.
Far beneath your reach, I see the divine light
Warming up the earth as we take our hands and reach up to the sky
Sunlight peels across our faces and our smiles break open onto the wind
Feathers can float in the comfort that we have with each other
Paths can be crossed, lost and then found again
We are here, standing on the beauty of green, open and together.
Blessed and lighting up the sky with our divine breath
We laugh, learn, and let it all go
Just as we did when we were first born.

What is a friend–an ally?

One who stands close to hold you when you cry,

Covers you in the line of fire,

Standing by your side when things get dire,

Lends a helpful ear when life gets tough,

Your navigator when the road becomes rough,

Late night drives at 3am talking about life,

Could be your spouse–your wife,

Your brother–your sister, 

The misses–or mister,

Someone who listens with intent, 

Who means what they meant,

Makes sure you’re well fed,

Provides a safe place to sleep–a bed,

A shoulder to lean on, 

Holds the trophy with you when you’ve won,

Gets invited to the backyard barbeque,

Helps puts the pieces together when you’re missing a clue,

The coworker who goes the extra mile,

The customer who tipped you just to see you smile,

When it’s empty, fills your cup,

Staring at the clouds with you, looking up,

After every argument both of you amend, 

Always sincere, you must always commend,

Takes you to the hospital when your body is paining,

Gives you a ride home when it’s raining,

The teacher who puts in that extra effort to help you pass,

My always hungry husky Scypher when he’s giving me sass,

Helps you get that job with an amazing referral,

The breakfast buddy who shows up at the same time everyday–the squirrel,

Your friends are unique to you,

There’s no specific figure or who,

Anyone who looks after your well-being,

Keeps your head clear, mind freeing, 

Makes you feel unalone,

Maybe your long lost doppelganger–your clone, 

Give them a hug and cherish, 

Never let that connection perish, 

Because you never know when you’ll have to say goodbye,

To that friend–your ally.

Seeds buried within a layer of soil,
The basal desire of a spirit that is whole,
Sweaty, calloused hands sow and toil,
Yearning for that which completes the soul.

Buds spring fourth among the stem,
Closer, closer, but not quite close,
A great potential lies with them,
To become something grandiose.

Through labour and heart,
Through cold and through heat,
The full blooming does start,
Long after you’d chance to meet.

There is no set end,
Call this the final stage,
Call them my friend,
Despite how we age,

The day will come when we turn the final page,
But we’ll cherish the story told,
As the curtains close upon the stage,
As we brace against eternal cold.

my kin is the wind, my kin is the water  

my kin are the leaves cascading in autumn  

my kin are the ripples in oceans of time  the passing of ages, I feel as if mine  

my kin is the soil, my kin is the seed  

my kin are the roots in the bed of the freed  

my kin are the shackled, enlightened, the veiled  the suffering, the suffered — the tried and the failed  

my kin is the spited; the misguided mind  my kin is the land where our spirits align  

my kin is my respite  

my kin is my friend  

my kin is my neighbour  

beginning till end 

Whispered frostbite shudders and shakes
away through air that nips.
Cold pulses through this jacket worn,
where blood is thicker than water
but mine runs too thin
like the threaded fabric
of the jacket jeering
I’m disposable,
despicable,
deficient—
so I race across the overpass
with stinging skin and
freezing lungs.
My hemorrhaging heart stumbles
into your coat of arms.
Hug out the bruises,
unbraid the veins,
shock me til I breathe.
You hold me,
molding me out of my mess
against aortic valves
which match their blood to mine.
This coat calls me
canny and
charming and
cherished—
so I thaw across the overpass,
finally warm.

If I could paint it,
I would use the most beautiful colors.
A thousand shades would never be enough to suffice its beauty
unnoticed.
My heart was so persistently, irrevocably, abundantly filled
with your essence,
With your colours.
I could hardly call it my own possession.
If I could describe it,
I would say it is as resembles as the ocean
As infinite and as deep as our devotion.
Let your waves take me to wonder.
Until the water filled and heaven my lungs and drowned
me.
I could say it was the sky,
As vast and as infinite as the stories we shared.
And the secrets we kept.
I could say you were darkness in the ways you blind me.
Surround me.
I could say you are my own relief in the ways you heal me.
Complete me.
A flower in my garden,
The sun above my head in the way you warm me.
The moon in the way you carefully watch me.
You would always have my heart,
even when we become strangers to our eyes and we part
ways.
No words exchanged.
The silence would melt me away.
Because I would never be able to erase the ways you were
part of my life.
The trace we left behind.
Made of beautiful flowers and infinite stars.
How can I ignore it?
How can I bury it with as much as a goodbye, words unsaid
and stupid fights.
when you are the air I breathe, The very laugh that
echoes beneath me,
Pure joy and beauty.

You enlighten me.
My past, my present and my future with the things you
teach me.
Mold me.
I would never be able to paint it.
No matter how hard I have tried.
For I would never be able to portrait the feelings you
bring me,
with any color or any paint
Perfect shades, perfect contrasts, perfect lines.
Would never express the beauty you hold in my life.

You could walk down the street and pass them by 

And you’d never even think about what kind of person 

They are or might be

You can’t 

And you know you won’t 

You will not get the chance to meet 

Every single person you pass by in your life 

And it’s alright because that is life 

And I see the beauty in that because it illuminates the very known Existence of just how unique each life is 

So my friend is not special to everybody

But they are special to me 

I hope to spend everyday going forward that I’ll always have the chance to walk besides them as we walk down the street

And while we walk down the street I hope to understand exactly what kind of person they are and might be. 

How wonderful is it that this is life? 

How beautiful it is that this illuminates the very known existence of just how unique each life is?

I am not special to everybody 

But to be special to somebody 

How lovely it is to be 

I knew when lovable brown eyes met mine. Canine.

Forever, one and the same, it implies. Canine.

 

I’m risking my life, the doctor reminds.

My friend’s condition, the doctor advise. Canine.

 

Your coat, a tri-colour pattern, unwind. 

Halloween, wish you dressed up in disguise. Canine.

 

You taught me, with strangers, to socialize.

Energetic, yet calm, I idolize. Canine.

 

You always bring me to the hottest guys.

Remember, you and I, and exercise, canine.

 

Run miles and miles, escaping modern lives.

Out of breath, bodies sore, don’t stop, unwise, canine.

 

Can’t go outside. We need to compromise.

Snow days, you hate the cold, so you comply. Canine.

 

Surprised, I can’t believe you ate three pies. 

So small, but so strong. You forget your size. Canine.

 

I will help you sleep. Lay between my thighs.

Late nights, I always sing you lullabies, canine.

 

Roxy baby, above it all, we rise.

Now, I must go home, I apologise. Canine.

 

I fear, when the time comes, to say goodbye.

Begin life anew, and leave you behind. Canine.

Being a sister,

Means having best friends by my

Side for a lifetime.

 

First, she was my mom

Admire, her strength, devotion

Now, she’s my best friend

 

My Great Uncle Jay

My best friend, taller than life

A blessing to all

 

 

Release me
The fingertips pinching tight the
feathers pressed against silver spider silk
Release me
The snap of ceramic sheet the
launch pierces whispering blade of grass
Release me
The weightless tunnel the
spade tip slices through a vacant oasis
Release me
The heavy keyhole locking the
graceful spear in a bull’s heart

We two are misshapen boulders,
Thrown up on shore by life’s squalls,
The scars of time and chance
Engraved on our cracked and fissured faces.
I am unwhole now.
Like you.
Too old for past rage.
It wore me out.
Rage I birthed amid ragged screams.
Rage I cared for,
Nurtured,
Year upon year.
It grew,
Carved its own space
From my humanity.
Then receded like a tempest in the morning.
Quiet damage in its wake.
Empty vessels, we are.
Me from absented rage,
You from your own absence.
Stay we in the netherspace
Between tides,
Between ebb and flow.
Let our erosion into dust be together.

While the world is on the edge of changing

Everyone is trying to find a place to fit in.

Looking for an ally or a true friend 

A pure bond that lacks definition.

 

A friendship made of trust and care

It is something that can never get old.

In times of joy and in times of despair

It’s the best thing that we have.

 

An ally stands in solidarity

Not with words, but with action.

To create a space of trust and understanding

Where everyone is seen and respected.

 

It’s an unwavering commitment to inclusion

A voice to those who are unheard.

A willingness to challenge the status quo

And to listen and learn from each other.

Friend. 

A word that has always been a mystery to me. 

I had always wondered what it had meant. 

Why did it take me 18 years long? 

 

Friend. 

Everyone understands it as something different. 

I have had many of whom I called that. 

But how many were real?

 

Was it you who I met in grade 3? 

I wonder, how long did it take you to decide I was not worth your time? 

Seven years and you threw me to the side. 

Did it take you more than seven minutes to decide? 

 

Tell me who do you call a friend? 

The girl who stood by your side when she needed you but when things got hard for you she left? 

Tell me why? 

We never did fade away did we? 

 

You just woke up one day and decided you had enough of me. 

Why did I try to hold on for so long? 

I should have given up the second you did. 

But I am always the one putting in the effort. 

 

Friend? 

Is that what you thought you were to me? 

Were you a friend when you made me feel insecure? 

What about when you made me feel like I was worthless? 

 

Where were you when I needed you. 

I was there, wasn’t I? 

I held your hand. 

I stayed on the phone. 

 

Friend! 

Where did you disappear?

Why did you leave? 

Was it me or was it you? 

 

How did I call you a friend? 

You tore me apart.

Piece my piece. 

You took away what little self love I had left. 

 

Friend. 

Took me too long to understand the meaning. 

I worry that I am wrong sometimes. 

I worry sometimes that I will get hurt once again. 

 

But you wouldn't, right? 

You aren’t like the rest. 

If you were, 

You would have left. 

 

Friend. 

A made up word that people throw around.

ode to kyra

the months sprawled 

a sweet summer drawl

extra salt on popcorn

and to chase tequila shots

and on those cucumbers 

you like so much.

blowing herbal smoke

from your bedroom window 

gossiping like children

before adulthood

pulls us apart again.

i miss your ginger hair 

and your thrifted clothes

and though you’re not my valerie 

you are so dear to me

or so the song we play 

driving along the shore goes.

Home sickness sits in the passenger seat of my car as I drive along the busy streets of
a new city and blast the songs we played in parking lots.
Seventeen feels so far away when you are twenty one and the reach of your arms
doesn’t span to towns where pieces of your your heart sit in their beds and write essays
in libraries and click the FaceTime button in the group chat just to feel a little closer
together.
The sound of giggles that only come from gossiping about hallway crushes and the glow
of what growing up must be acts as a permanent reminder that time doesn’t let you
stand still. It erodes the ground beneath your feet in “what days work for you” formations
that sink so deep you can’t help but feel like maybe high school wasn’t so bad.
Maybe, because you had them, it was really special.

The first day we met, I don't know you,
But my impression of you was never rude.
Mostly, friendship begin with friends thinking each other as mean,
But our was different and clean.
We laughed together at stuff,
From sitting with each other in class,
To talking to phone for hours.
It was easy and nice when we were young,
Seeing you everyday and having that fun.
Talking about crushes, eating food in class,
Sitting in the ground gossiping,
Without counting the hours.
You were always there when I need,
Saving me from other kids who were mean.
Understanding me when no one does,
Telling me it will be okay, it's just us.
And even if you can't understand what I'm going through,
You were there hugging me without any clue.
You are like a Mirage,
Even though you aren't there,
You give me hope,
And help me stand against all my fear.
But time changes everything.
Now we are so far.
Sometimes talking with each other is difficult,
But in my life you're still the star.
Sorry for not feeling to call you,
Sorry for not replying you,
But I know whenever I'll be alone you'll be there for me
And I'll be there for you.
Standing there like an armour,
Protecting each other from this world,
Being each other sword, surviving the battle.
You are my Saviour,
You are my friend,
I love you always,
And I'll love you till the end.

I have learned that people are ironic, bitter, and dry.

Not many people are sincere. 

 

To me, friendship is more than just being friends with someone. 

In life, when you find another person who makes you laugh until you cry tears of joy. 

All you need is just one person who makes you happy to be alive.

That person who will truly turn your black-and-white world into colour. 

Before you realize you tell them things you never thought you would share with another soul. 

 

If you think, 

You gave my life meaning.

I finally have a purpose to continue living now that I know you. 

 

Then you are the luckiest person in the world. 

 

For you have finally, found your other half.

On kinder nights with grey clouds above,

I reminisce under street lights, speaking of

The thoughts I hold tired and tender in my head. 

The sun will soon rise but all my saints are dead. 

 

It came first for their insides, 

With cruel statistics and harrowed headlines. 

Where mothers’ hands could not stretch, 

Fathers’ eyes would not hide their retch. 

 

Then the outsides, in unholy institutions. 

Eaten away slowly. No respite. No restitution. 

There are no holy bodies once enslaved,

Only corpses lingering outside their graves. 

 

A pious passion devouring their saintly lives,

Do you pray to the body or the martyrdom that survives? 

Now say grace and grieve for all that existed. 

A feeling heart was gifted, but the feelings turn twisted. 

 

I sit and look for little miracles in my room. 

In the clouds and the rainbows and the dandelions in bloom. 

Today's sunrise was quite lovely, 

But I’m still here, rather lonely.

My friends build me up and tear me down,

All within one swift motion.

Tearing down insecurities’

Replacing them with perfect bricks of bravery. 

My chosen family is the only place I feel safe.

 

The love you get from friends,

Breathes life into your heart.

My friends never fail to make me smile.

White teeth spackled to the front of my face, 

 

I need a place to feel at home.

I need a place where I don't feel lonely,

Even when I'm alone.

Their hearts are my home.

 

My friends and family make me feel safe to be,

Unapologetically me.

Place is visiting Toronto with her dad, who is excited to show place a new beach that he frequents. Place pulls up to the park and instantly hates it. 

“The park is smaller than the parking lot”. 

Alas, they get out of the car and walk down to the beach.

Place unleashes Ajidimoo and the 100lb lab-husky-shepherd runs down the beach. 

This is place’s home territory. This is Mississauga-Anishinaabe territory.

Place walks down the beach and notices the dead fish laying on the shore. The sight triggers internal grief and place makes a mental note to try to forget Lake Ontario completely.

What have they done to me?

How do you hang our flag but still pollute our rivers and cause shame? 

What would it mean to do more than hang flags, do more than territorial acknowledgment? To abide by our Anishinaabe law? 

To love Lake Ontario instead of killing her.

Place looks down the beach. A man, not far in the distance instantly looks annoyed. He waves his hands up in the air, signaling. Place feels terrible and runs to him, calling, “Ajidimoo, Ajidimoo”. The man, instantly seemingly uncontrollably angry asks, “do you speak English?!”. The man is unfamiliar with anishinaabemowin. Looking behind, Place see’s dad running towards her.

“He should not be running”.

He has cancer because this place caused his cancer because this place is a cancer.

Dad is visibly upset that this man is yelling at place and Ajidimoo. Place feels fire brewing uncontrollably in her throat. Place wants to yell at the man. Place is angry.

Do you speak English? His voice rings in place’s mind.

A reminder that we do not belong here.

Place is angry and so she yells at the man for yelling at Dad and place and Ajidimoo. Place instantly feels ashamed.

This place brings out the worst in me. We do not belong here.

And so place and Dad go back to the car.

~~~

Place tells this later to displacement, and displacement laughs. “Easier to be with me, huh”?

Place thinks for a moment, “it only masks the grief”.

Displacement says, “wow that’s deep... shall we go?”

Place says yes. And they head back to displacement’s place, leaving but running.

~~~

Place sits by the ocean with displacement. They overlook another colonized place, sitting on a rock in a park named after a colonized name and surrounded by million-dollar homes. Place thinks, “A Nish far from home”.

But it’s clean here and there are no dead fish on the beach. The parks are bigger than the parking lots. Place feels more like themselves but thinks “Am I a colonizer? Am I any better?”

I do not belong here.

Place thinks, “Where do I belong? Am I that person on the beach, telling Lekwungen peoples that they do not belong? How do I become a better visitor on Lekwungen people’s territory? What would it mean to abide by Lekwungen law? To care for their lands. To make sure their parks are larger than the parking lots. To make sure their fish do not wash up on the beach? To make sure they don’t feel ashamed for speaking their own place-based language”.

Displacement laughs and says, “Ah yes, the Lekwungen, I know them too”.

Places eyes narrow. “How do we find place in displacement? Can we be one and the same?”

Displacement shrugs.

Place hesitates but continues. “You know I’ve been thinking about Toronto”… “The needle of the CN tower is like a representation of the cancer of colonization, and it’s the needle of immunotherapy. It’s a representation of the disease and the cure”.

Displacement, swiping through his phone, says “wow, deep again”.

Place laughs and says to herself, “maybe it’s time we do our own healing. Maybe it’s time we try to heal the cancer of place”.

Displacement hears and nervously laughs, “Have you been out walking by the water again?”

Displacement knows place thinks the deepest by the water. A Mississauga through and through.

Displacement rolls his eyes, annoyed and worried about what place is up to and concerned about an impending breakup. Displacement throws a blueberry into the air and catches it in his mouth – for a moment, the blueberry is neither here nor there. “Here”, displacement says, “have some blueberries. Anishinaabeg love blueberries, don’t they?”

Place looks at the blueberries, wrapped in plastic, and reads: “Made in Mexico”.

 

The clouds drift in the sky, so free and so light, each person has a choice, to choose their own plight.

The destination may be the same, no matter the way, when I choose my own path, I can strive for my dreams each day.

A symbol of strength and courage, I arise.

With the fire of ambition in my eyes.

 

The embodiment of dreams and inspiration.

Bringing light to the darkness of this nation.

I am the foundation of a new beginning.

The source of creativity, igniting passion.

 

Here, at Sheridan, the sky's the limit.

With opportunities waiting at every summit.

Where young minds gather, seeking to know.

A place of learning, a place of growth.

As students explore and their passions are shown.

Where the journey of life, is just about to to known.

Kind fate had me rapidly come from Hong Kong afar to join you 

A roaring plane brought my infant self to these Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation treaty lands

But we are unduly separated by the dark abyss of millennia

I have been here just a little bit past three decades and you have stayed for much, much more than that

Yet you and I remain intimately related still

Deep roots of our mutual family tree stretch on below underneath it all 

Beneath the superficial differences, similar sensations bridge common humanity

I keenly saw it in your piercing eyes peering from old photographs of the enigmatic Midewiwin 

I felt it poignantly when your thick raven hair unabashedly danced to the powwow’s resonant drumbeat 

I heard it sublimely as the native flute’s pentatonic notes unerringly struck a chord in me as a young boy

I fondly smelt it due to the smoke wafting up from the smudging sage on the iridescent abalone shell 

I tasted it so vividly from mere water that the sweat lodge’s womb must’ve birthed me anew  

While humid heat cleansed me from within, your grand benevolence was what gave me pause

Your faithful stewardship has left this land’s natural beauty nearly untouched in pristine conditions

Maple syrup, tobogganing, and canoes are some of the cultural gifts I am profoundly grateful for 

What’s more, upon meeting, you made an indelible impression 

Such that I remember how with generous smiles and genial tones 

You told me tenderly about your dear home, Turtle Island, as if it were mine too 

Giving rides and sharing food, you warmly welcomed me like one would a long lost connection

After I finally grasped the litany of hard tragedies which had unfairly befallen you 

My aching heart could not help but bleed reminiscent tears

Through fire and water you bravely went, O my relatives!

Out of Allyship, your tumultuous history is now entwined with my own 

 I stand tall and strong with you against the myriad evils stemming from bigoted marginalization

With wholesome truth carefully spoken to serve as the foundational bond

May two worlds reconcile to eternal friendship without an end, taking care of this universe hand in hand

For countless arrows tightly bound together into one dream

Shall surely not easily splinter asunder at the seams

Friendship is a treasure rare and true,

A bond that grows with every passing year.

It brings a light to brighten all we do,

And lends a hand to dry away a tear.

 

In laughter and in sorrow, through it all,

Our friends remain a constant, shining star.

With open hearts and listening ears they call,

And help us to go on, no matter how far.

 

With friends beside us, we can face the day,

And chase away the shadows of the night.

Together we can find a better way,

And make the world a more beautiful sight.

So let us treasure friendship, dear and sweet, For in its light, our souls forever meet.

Call me gently into that night
Whisper secrets in the absence of light
Lay with me as I am
In moments of joy and strife
Whisper words of delight
Lay with me, hold me tight
Peer over the edge with me
Into the unknown rife
Whispering still, deeper into the night
Unbreakable, our bond will stay
Sung in harmony, we'll pave the way
United in pairs, we'll face the day

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