walking in both directions

[note: if you’re picky about the formatting of poetry staying the way I wrote it, please click on the post to view it with the original spacing]

I wish our falling out was like Hiroshima
that mushroom clouds stretched in fine grey carpets
for miles in each direction,
and that when we spoke to each other
we could hear worlds burn.
But this, this cool dissemblance
logical, discussed, like a thick needle pumping blood
from my arm into a bag: I
will not, I can not lie still. 
Small, sharp pains, fleeting–
our heartbeats keep us rocking back and forth,
holding aches in both hands.
This story is written as it writes itself onward,
and we burn with fever-eyed desire
to tear out the pages;
to flip forward
or back
anything but this blind fumbling for answers–
but our hands keep slack at our sides.
I am walking in both directions, both towards
and away from you
and neither of us have the heart to stop
and ask for directions
because neither of us want to know.


Prairie Rituals

There was a funeral. It was exhausting. But over ritual 6AM coffee at my grandpa’s favourite (and only) coffee haunt the morning we drove back, it settled into my bones that I knew I would come back. I knew it surrounded by his friends, where nothing needs to be said but a comment here and there on the baseball game the night before, and the latest happenings in “the big town”.

His favourite waitress came to the funeral. As everyone filed past, shaking hands and speaking words, she introduced herself.  “I know,” I said. I did. Every morning, my grandpa would walk through the restaurant doors and call out “‘Morning, Norma,” before settling into the same seat he had settled into for years. She’d bring him a cup of coffee, and ask him how he was doing. “Oh,” he’d say, “Same as always”. At the funeral, I pulled her into a hug. Shakily, she said ” I’m going to miss him,” as tears welled up. “I know,” I said, “Me too”.

When I walked through the restaurant doors at 6:00 in the morning, I saw her, heavy-handed with coffee carafes.

“‘Morning, Norma,” I said.

She looked up and smiled, a thin, wan smile, but a smile.

I will go back. And they’ll all be there, before daybreak, coffee in one hand, and newspapers in the other.

photo credit: kootation.com

–photo credit: kootation.com–

a blogless abandon


How’s it going, WordPress? I hear you’ve been getting along just fine without me, but I thought I’d pop back in and say “Salutations”.

Things have been, shall we say, a little raucous around these parts. A little topsy-turvy. Helter-skelter, even. After exams I flew out to visit my grandfather in the wild open prairies, utterly exposed to the wrath of Dust with nary a tree in sight. It was tough, seeing the man you crawled into bed with when you were five years old to watch Saturday morning cartoons (a real treat — we’ve never had cable in our house) brought to his knees like that. I can’t put a face to the grief he must be wading through, chest-deep, every day. The woman he loved for over sixty years, gone. I took some of her jewellery back with me, at his behest. I felt like a thief.

Then, the same day I flew back to Vancouver, glorious city surrounded by mountains, I repacked my bags and leapt into my pre-vacuumed and rather shiny (yet still scrappy and beat-up) 1992 Saturn Coupe, drove to my Christopher’s house, and nabbed him and all his worldly belongings. Well, not really. But I did pack him and his stuff into my dinky car and drive him up to Squamish, where we spent the first night together in ages. It’s hard to describe the feeling of sleeping next to someone you love after a long time, of being able to reach out in the night and touch them, pull them close. Silk is the closest I can get, silk charmeuse floating on a summer breeze. We woke up together, and set off on a road trip that included the sweetest hostel I’ve ever laid eyes on (Hostel Shilo-works), Skookumchuk hot springs, and a lot of corn pops.

The week I came back, I worked full-time and started the summer semester at SFU. I’m taking two medieval lit courses (awesome) and one 18th C. course (lord spare me). That same week, my cat died. It hasn’t been nearly as hard as it was when my dog died eight months ago, but it wasn’t easy. I grew up with that cat, she slept with me and woke me up by  stepping on my face. I’ll miss her. I do miss her.

Things haven’t been uneventful. I’m regaining my footing, though. And I will, life willing, be blogging more. I like blogging. I like you guys. Now if I can find a way to watch Game of Thrones while blogging, I’ll be on top of everything (two seasons in three days, I am a fiend). In the meantime, here:

steel girl

take my melted flesh and bones
pour them into this hourglass
let them set until
the heat fades
these pliant steel struts
wrap around me, I am chosen
I am a steel girl, laced in the past
half history, half whispered triumph.

I received a corset for my birthday, made at Lace Embrace Atelier in Vancouver, BC. It’s the loveliest thing I’ve ever owned. So many people pitched in to make it happen, it was incredible. My friends are the best friends since chocolate dipped pretzels.

When I wear it, sometimes I feel like I’m nullifying decades of feminism and battles for women’s rights, but then I think “it’s my right to wear what I like, and what I like happens to be a corset”. I wasn’t born in the wrong era, I was born in exactly the right one: where a girl can wear jeans one day and a corset/crinoline/bloomers/skirt/blouse outfit the next. I can get tattoos and piercings, go to university, speak my opinion freely, and vote on election day. I can learn my favourite things from every era and chances are, there will be a subculture in Vancouver replete with weekly or monthly events and like-minded people for me to share my interests with. Burlesque is making a comeback. Steampunk was invented. We have healthcare and plumbing and corsets and pocket watches and Lindy Hop, and I plan on revelling in every patchwork minute of it.

© Emily Bragg 2013

Alive and Painting

I’m still here. Starting to paint a few new pieces. Yay, canvas! Hopefully the smell of acrylics will drive away the rest of this damn cold. I’m less than impressed with being sick, but my baby sister got her wisdom teeth out this morning so I can’t complain too loudly about my headaches and fevers and hacking and wheezing. Poor girl. She’s muddling through a haze of tylenol 3’s and antibiotics and steroids, which is more than I ever got. I made the most of the codeine, but she’s not looking too peppy. 

But paint. Paint I will. In between playing soup/yop/drug dispenser. 

Also, just a reminder? I like you guys. Y’all are a pretty nice crowd. ❤

Liebster Award!

Colour me flabbergasted, tickle me pink. I’ve been nominated for a blog award, by the ever-effervescent and beauteous Kay over at Casual, Possibly-Nonsensical Ramblings! If you haven’t heard of Kay, check her out (she has some really great stuff), and if you haven’t (like me) heard of the Liebster Award, I’ll bestow upon you what knowledge The Great Oracle Google has bestowed upon me.



The Liebster is a fun little award meant for bloggers with under 200 followers (like myself), and is composed of elevens: 11 nominations, 11 facts, 11 answers, and 11 questions. Here goes:


1) The Blangert/J’aime Les Velociraptors I hope you’ll join me in nagging this crazy woman to blog more. She’s brilliant.
2) Stranger Than Fiction Some pretty slick poetry, and a pretty cool guy.
3) SomethingNewPlease This man is fucking hilarious. Prepare to spend hours reading.
4) Chatty Owl Freaking gorgeous words right here. Nice lady, too. She doesn’t do the whole blog award thing, but I’m nominating her anyways ’cause you should go check her blog out.
5) ieatcatsforlunch I like him a lot. A lot. 
6) writingthebody  Some truly, truly cool stuff.
7) CombatBabe A hands-down, kickass, fabulous writer.
8) Easily Ignored Don’t ignore him.  He’s a cool guy. Writes some cool stuff.
9) The Kat & the Falling Leaves This woman is unbelievably nice, and has great taste.
10) feministlawprof This lady is one badass lawyer, and an awesome writer.
11) Movita Beaucoup Her blog makes me drool. And then chuckle. And then drool some more.


1) I’m crazy about cutting my hair. I get so excited about haircuts, and I spend ridiculous, unstudently amounts of money to go to this one stylist at this one salon near my house because she’s so good. Right now I’ve got a half-pixie, half chin-length curly bob going on, and my stylist’s been begging me to put some colour into it so maybe I’ll do that next. Dark teal, anyone?

2) I love fresh flowers. I’m hands-down not one of those girls who don’t like flowers. I love flowers. If I had the money to do it, I’d buy fresh flowers every week. They make me at least 38% more happy on any given day.

3) I have a not-so-secret longing to own a corset. Not because I’m uncomfortable with my body as it is, but because they’re so pretty. When I get one, I will wear it everywhere. Maybe not to work, though. Could get a little uncomfortable.

4) I laugh louder than you. I’ve had many people tell me they can hear me across the room, or even in the next room, or across the house. I’d like to think it as a trademark, as opposed to plain obnoxious.

5) There is nothing nicer-smelling, to me, than an opened bottle/tube/jar of acrylic paint.

6) My favourite movies, like Kay, are the quirky, sometimes gloomy, long-shot-of-driving-car kind of indie movies that you can’t discuss with most people, but when you do find someone that knows what kind of a gem you’re talking about, it’s an instant bonding moment. Favourite example? Benny and Joon. That, and Bollywood (if you don’t know what that is, your life is sadly lacking in 3-hour drama-laden glitterfests). Oh, and Monty Python. Nothing is funnier than Monty Python.

7) I’m taking Farsi as a language class in university, however, even though this semester is the fourth Persian class I’ve taken, my conversational skills are still unbelievably limited. I do know how to say “patriarchy”, though. They give you the darndest vocab.

8) I have a small collection of onesie pajamas. I hope one day to call it a large collection.

9) It’s a secret wish of mine to be musically adept. I can sing, I can compose, but I can’t play. As this puts me in the strict minority amongst my friends, I hope to make 2013 a year of some instrumenty proficiency.

10) I wish I could swing dance. Lindy hop. Charleston. Actually, I can Charleston with the best of ’em, but I don’t know how the rest of it works. I took an intro class, and I can’t figure out where the beats are. This is the second year I’ve been dancing Salsa, so I’ve become mildly capable on the Latina front, but there’s an empty place in my heart where Lindy would fit just perfectly. I love the music, the steps, the energy, the people….awrgh.

11) When I feel poorly, I milk it for all it’s worth. Unless there’s something pressing, I’ll cancel all my engagements for the day, drag a duvet and two heaties over to the couch, pour myself a strong cup of tea and watch a variety of my favourite “sick” movies.


1) What made you decide to start a blog? My first blog was started because I’d never done the whole blogging thing before, and myself and my friend Scott decided that starting a joint blog dedicated to procrastination during finals was the best way to survive the treacherous ground of exam season. I scrounged up the courage to start my own blog because I realized that not only did I really like blogging, but that all the creative writing I was doing was just hiding away in the deep recesses of my computer or between the pages of old journals, gathering dust. Having this blog motivates me to keep writing (and once I get around to posting art, that too).

2) Favourite meal ever? Chinese lettuce wraps with pork filling. My mum’s dahl and rice with korma tofu. Tacos.

3) If you invented a time machine, where/when would you go? London, 1926. Or America, 1940. Both have unbelievably great style. Oh wait, no, New York, 1998. Just in time for Ani DiFranco’s release of Little Plastic Castle. 

4) What’s the top thing on your bucket list? Become fluent in another language. Have one of my paintings hung in a gallery. Get a full-body massage.

5) Favorite movie? A three-way tie between the afore-mentioned Benny and JoonIn Her Shoes (my official #1 “sick” movie), and Mixed Nuts. 

6) What’s a bad habit that you have? Late. I’m chronically late. It’s a terrible, terrible habit that I have. My Christopher gave me a pocket watch for Christmas. My dad laughed.

7) Do you have an idol?  Someone you really look up to or that has influenced your life in some way? Ani DiFranco, my mother, and Mama V. (I’m awful at choosing just one.)
+ Ani, because my mother listened to her when I was little, and I got absolutely hooked when I was twelve. She has a song for every emotion I’ve ever experienced, and much, much more. That, and being a gorgeous, kickass woman.

+ My mother, because she brought so many unique things into my life. I was homeschooled until grade 10, and in those years I learned more about reading passionately, other cultures, fine arts and street smarts than I could have ever done if I’d been stuck in a classroom colouring maps. She’s a crazy wonderful woman, and though we occasionally have our differences, she knows me so well.

+ Mama V: Ms. Vincent. My high school drama teacher. I have never met a woman so incredibly dedicated to her craft, and her kids. Students, I mean. She would stand for nothing less than utmost quality both in her class and in the school productions, and after school she was fantastically scary and inspiring, whipping us into shape and fine-tuning our performances until they rang clear as glass. I learned more from her than I learned from any other teacher in that school. And yes, those dedicated drama freaks like myself, we called her Mama V.

8) What is your guilty pleasure? Eating chilled Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk straight out of the can.

9) Favourite colour? I have too many to list. All the colours of the ocean, the bright, vibrant green of new leaves, scarlet, dark teal, and deep reddish-orange.

10) Dream job? Jesu, Kay, you’re making me go through an existential crisis here. I think maybe singing for a successful band that made beautiful music that people danced to. If not that, a successful writer.

11) Last thing that made you laugh until you cried? When my Christopher told me a story about how his older brother sent his favourite toy car to Africa when they were little. Being the oldest child in my family, that is golden. It’s so perfect. Because it’s a good thing to do, to donate to toy-drives for kids in Africa. And he’ll never get it back.
I laughed for ten minutes straight. There were tears rolling down my face. He was so unimpressed.


1) The last time you did a cartwheel?
2) Your secret passion?
3) Something special that someone gave to you?
4) Favourite smell?
5) Top three artists (music, art, writing, whatever)?
6) The last time you partied like a rock star?
7) When was the classiest you’ve ever felt?
8) One weird habit?
9) One thing that always makes you laugh?
10) Favourite article of clothing?
11) Signature dance move?

Whoof. That was fun. See you on the flip side, and stay streets ahead.

© Emily Bragg 2013

a feline diagnosis

the back of my throat tastes
chlorine, hard
slick with tears and disbelief
i want a sledgehammer
to rule out all word
give me back my quiet
and take away this raging unseen terror
let me mourn her
not her
give her back
give me her back
i want her curled against my shoulder sleeping
not trailing plastic tubing
and dragging paws.

© Emily Bragg 2013