Texts: Excerpts of 4th Year Creative Writing theses
R. Vincent Harris, from Politically Correct Language of an Undomesticated Indian: A Collection of Poems
Donna Wallis, from Filling in the Blanks, A Memoir
Claire Kirk-Cape, from Burnt Chocolates for Mister Mike: Poetry
Vincent Harris, from Politically Correct Language of an Undomesticated Indian: A Collection of Poems. Inaugural BU Creative Writing thesis, supervised by Di Brandt, with committee members Dale Lakevold and Tomson Highway (Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Arts), 2007
I walked into the beer vendor, and there you are.
I stand in line to buy my six-pack.
The seconds seem like hours.
Years after we parted ways, now we pass like ghosts.
You fade with each new lover. Days turn to years,
Yet somehow, I look for that bit of you in my one nights.
Time and place change I have changed.
You look the same.
The attraction we had fades like the ghosts we have become.
Voices linger, smells, touches, love, and lust.
Meet in passing at that vendor
Should have been an indication that this friendship
Was nothing more than time and place and circumstances,
Game 7, Calgary at Vancouver.
Your smile haunts my memory, the gold hairs
Of your trimmed goatee, your tight small strong frame
tough hands, the way you hugged me good night
As we cuddled on the futon on our hung-over Sundays,
The silences between us on the long drives
to the Saskatchewan River, to skip stones
together away from prying eyes, our secret.
I miss the way you play with your ice and rye,
How you were my knight in the night
of my traumatic ghosts. I never let you in.
Now you are a ghost like so many others.
You are free and a ghost to me.
Spring on the prairies
Soaked black earth fields,
fresh green tight wombs
dripping sweet afterbirth,
snowball clouds floating north,
Distant lawn mowers sputter,
munch dead grass and leaves,
renewal of fresh green.
West winds blow away
winter dust, western rains
cleanse and wash away
the sleep of a long winter.
Across the hills,
fleeting shadows dance,
flickering sundance of rays
waltzing in the day.
Call Me Ms. Parker
Pigeon! Why do you move
your head like a scat jazzman,
skit, scat. skeet, swoon.
I dig you in all your scavenger ways,
brother, we're not so different.
Donna Wallis, from Filling in the Blanks: A Memoir. Creative Writing thesis, supervised by Di Brandt, with committee members Dale Lakevold and Jim Forsythe (Drama), 2008. Donna Wallis received the Dean of Arts Silver Medal in 2008.
THUMP. Thump Thump ThumpThump.
What the fuck? I said to myself, when I heard the noise coming from the apartment wall. I picked up the phone and dialed Darlene’s number. We lived next door to each other in a crummy apartment building on Simpson Street.
Is everything okay over there, I asked. What are you doing, what’s all the racket?
Everything’s fine, she said.
Are you sure?
Yes, yes, she said. I’m okay.
Do you need help with something, I can come over.
No, I’m fine, really I am just fine.
The awful thing is… she wasn’t fine. When Darlene first suggested I move in there, I wasn’t crazy about the idea. Hopeless drunks hung out in the sleazy bars on Simpson Street, as well as hookers and downtown druggies and dealers. It was the seedy area of town, directly off of Victoria Avenue and May Street. Years later Darlene told me the night I had phoned, Sean Rae, her boyfriend at the time, had thrown her into the wall.
What! I said, when she told me. Why the fuck didn’t you say something? I could have phoned
the police. I should have after Richard went fucking nuts.
He was there. He said he would fucking kill me if I said anything on the phone. He said that right before I picked up the phone.
Well, what the hell happened after you hung up? I didn’t hear any more noise.
Darlene told me that it was a wake up call for him. He grabbed his keys and left, never to be seen again.
I don’t know what it was about us girls, that we ended up with men who were violent. Shortly after moving into my apartment on Simpson Street, I came home one evening and found a letter on my coffee table. I recognized the handwriting as Richard the Second’s. He promised he would never lose his temper again. He promised he would never drink again. Fucking right, you won’t, not with me anyway! I said to myself.
I looked around and the place was empty I checked the windows in my living room and one was cracked open a bit. I didn’t remember leaving it open at all. After I finished reading the letter, I phoned Darlene.
Well, I didn’t see anything suspicious this evening.
We lived on the second floor above the storefronts of the building. Our apartments faced the back parking lot, not facing Simpson Street. Our apartments also had the flat roof of the storefront jut out beyond our apartments, so we had a roof top patio of sorts. We planned to barbecue out there in the summertime. I had moved in the middle of March. It became obvious to Darlene and me that Richard II had used the fire escape and climbed onto the flat roof, and then jimmied my window and climbed in.
Fuck, I thought to myself. I don’t need this shit. The next day I phoned the French’s residence hoping to catch Richard II. He was there. I asked him if he broke into my apartment to leave the letter.
Did you read the letter? I want to try again.
I read it.
No! Like I’ve said before, we’re done and if you ever… come near my apartment again, I’ll call the cops. You have a record. Who do you think the cops will believe? Leave me the fuck alone!
We barbecued on the roof top all that summer. It was nice, just us two girls hanging out together. One night we splurged and bought steaks to cook. Darlene grilled them to perfection. The steaks were so juicy and tender, they melted in our mouths. We added a couple of deliciously baked potatoes and a tossed green salad to our masterpiece meal. As we were finishing up our dinner, Darlene looked out her living room window that faced the roof top, and yelled, Oh my God!
What, what is it?”
I looked out the window, and saw heavy, black smoke billowing out from beneath the hibachi that we had placed on the black tar roof. We ran to the window, scrambled through it and Darlene quickly picked up the barbecue. Beneath was a puddle of melted tar that continued to smoke.
I scrambled back into the window and filled a juice pitcher with water. Darlene placed the hibachi barbecue on the cement windowsill, directly outside the living room window, and I drowned the red hot briquettes with water. A cloud of grey smoke filled with tiny ashes blew all over us.
I ran and filled the pitcher again, and dumped it on the smouldering briquettes. We were fanning the air around us and laughing so hard, we could barely stand up straight.
Can you believe that? We almost burnt the whole place down.
Yeah, we’ll have to get some sort of a stand for that thing.
We continued to water and monitor the barbecue for the rest of the evening. We laughed about that meal for years!
Claire Kirk-Cape, from Burnt Chocolates for Mister Mike: Poems. Creative Writing thesis, supervised by Di Brandt, with committee members Dale Lakevold and Johanna Leseho (Educational Psychology).
for Atienah, on her 10th birthday
Reclaim your spirit, call back your soul
you Daughter of the Great Lakes, wonder lost child
Ashes sprinkled like dew drops on frailed petals
East West North and South winds take no form
to sustain you anywhere you land up
So remember a home to claim your sight
What is your right birth? Is it under a Star, a Moon
that hum in harmony and reveals its secrets
while unraveling time? Is it the Ancestor’s Spirits
of unrest in Heaven or Hell? Claim space
You one of the Great Traveling Seas Don’t be crushed
by babbling fools who will eventually
be strung up by their folly
Track the Sands align lips to Skies and so Be
* Atieno in Kenyan means “Daughter of the Great Lakes.”
There is where I got the name of my 2nd daughter Atienah.
for Michael O’Donoghue, in memoriam
Your shadows passed fumes over my mood
that miserable Toronto winter evening at cousin Reece’s spare
her spare room housing the spare love that she always had
waiting in line for the next spirit that life threatened to sour
Why you’re looming in my head space why the hair on my body
tickles a cold breeze empty feeling wet myself cool sad breeze
from New York City you are vibrating on my plane
but again New York fast life glitter life
I recall bright funny as hell long laughs on Saturday Night Live
too much for island gal scared of what price to pay for Eurocentric
version of success too pricey for my soul for another who dares
to take the path of the road with much less footprints
Why does this night do pulse my heart so and loose me thought of
“I should just call Michael” pas possible to answer a call
with no thoroughfare lines in either direction my energy shift
blow fumes to my finger tips beckoning me to touch base
Only to hear from the woman who took the place of wife
her sugar-salty tone How on earth could you know just this morning?
He called your name clearly and you reaching to touch
at this moment I am so sorry he’s gone A brain aneurism
Your statue tall and cynic sick ice humor funny man-child
like telling me to write at a lame 18 years aged What stories?
What about! Told you I needed stories a stream of stories stretching from
the Christopher Columbus Islands Prairie Canada to die for sun
shining in South Africa flamboyant skies of Europe guns at Raffa Border
in Middle Eastern dew told you stories hold me close in reverse
Island diaries Mafrica bloodies Versailles garden of Marie Antoinette’s tears
icy freezer teeth clenching life tales to tell
Now at 40 something to share a kettle pouring warm lemon tea time
but you are gone not quite leaving rolling stones as my grandma use to say
they gather no moss your National Lampoon loving life
on a Saturday mixed up milky ways with jokes
Your eyes spied through my soul and threw me into the Grinch
salt of world earth running to save the world
though it was just a line from some Movie star to the star struck extras
on the set to wet innocent pants off
Now we vibrate our truth connect to say Cut! this is a take, this one is a wrap
on the set fully decorated psychedelic colors lit up for another Action!
let us call wardrobe call the stunt guys and gals beckon angels to tickle
your smile for a real take of the final Good Bye
Ode to Grandpa Archie
My daddy say, “I am a true African”
His father’s father raised them up
from the ground, raise him up
He use to say a prayer every night
to keep dem devils away
Jah nah mo Jah nah mo Ibi pan ko jo ah kono
After despising his ways
of setting them lone miles apart
I chained myself to his stories
welling them in my soul
I gubbled them up to take them
along my many scorching pebbled roads
of life to find a people, my people
Hell way in Khan El Khalilia, Egypt
the cradle of civilization, some say
a wandering dreamlike place
I met a See-er man from West Africa
he taught me the same prayers
to keep the devils away