Stage 2: Anger

I can’t stop writing about you
because it’s the only way I know how
to come to terms with
the anger
the grief
the ache
the absence
the confusion
the misery
the regret.
None of this feels real
and you don’t really feel gone –
it’s a cliché that happens in novels and on sitcoms
but young men don’t die
in the real world
or at least they never used to,
not to me.
It wasn’t real
when the news shook my core
and broke the ground I used to walk on;
it wasn’t real
when people told me they were sorry for my loss
because I didn’t feel like I had lost you yet;
it wasn’t real
when I said goodbye to your ashes
and I kept reminding myself it wasn’t you;

it was real at 1 a.m.
when I screamed at you in my head,
when the anger broke over me
like a tidal wave
and I wanted to slap and hug you
and demand to know
why you did it
and how you could have been so

Anger is understandable
they tell me

but they don’t mention the guilt.

– the five stages of grief


They say you took something
and I’d like to believe it was the hand of God;
and even though you were atheist
you took it all the same.
I wonder if the pills you took left a bitterness on your tongue,
the way saying your name
paired with past tenses leaves
a numbness on mine.
I don’t even know if it was pills,
I was given two letters:
and was forced to string an alphabet of conclusions around them
that started with a party
and ended with a funeral.
As if you could describe the way you laughed
with three syllables,
two letters,
one word –
as if anyone could understand
how alive you were
when your death
is what they will remember you for.

– what did you take


  1. You looked like Hercules from the cartoon Disney movie. When I told you this, you laughed.
  2. You were 25.
  3. Your laugh was like fireworks, spontaneous and mesmerizing, a show all on its own and it drew people towards you. When we saw The Good Dinosaur in theatres, the hallucinogenic scene had you laugh louder and harder than anyone else in the theatre. I started laughing too because yours was so infectious.
  4. You were at a party.
  5. You may have denied it sometimes, but you were such a people person. Everyone wanted to know you and be your friend because you had such a reputation for being the nicest, most helpful guy they knew.
  6. You were too young.
  7. You were a fierce friend. You were quick to defend, support and help everyone you cared about.
  8. You had graduated seven months before.
  9. You were scared of birds. You especially hated the bird mural that was painted on your bedroom wall last year, but you didn’t know it was there when you rented the room. You really fucking hated birds.
  10. You had a girlfriend.
  11. You loved to dance and sing. I remember going to pub nights with you and having to physically take three steps back because you were twerking so energetically. I also remember you continuously messing up the words to “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore… even though you knew the lyrics were wrong, you sang them proudly and without fear.
  12. You had a family.
  13. You ate my ice cream when I left it at your house for a week. I wasn’t even mad because I knew you’d do it, despite promising not to.
  14. You had aspired to grow old to become, as you put it, a crazy old man.
  15. You were always asking about everyone else. It’s the little things that people remember, and I remember you asking me how I was and how my day was going from back before we were friends. It was so nice.
  16. You were my friend.
  17. You were the best goddamn newsroom leader in the world last year, and I made sure you knew it. You checked in with lower-year students hourly, you always gave amazing suggestions to broaden story pitches, you edited everything so thoroughly… you were everything that anyone could want in a boss.
  18. You were just starting to travel the world.
  19. Moments after making fun of Tyler for falling asleep in my car on the way to Ajax, you fell asleep beside him.
  20. You never gave up.
  21. You were one of the only friends I had last year, at a time when I felt caught between cities and friendships. You never minded when I came over to your house (every single day) because I was bored. You were so understanding.
  22. You were always talking about a future you’d never see.
  23. You made some of the funniest gym noises and faces in the world, but you were completely unfazed by people staring. No one else’s opinion of you mattered, and that’s just how you lived your life.
  24. I hated writing all of this in past tense.
  25. Your age.



It’s hard to think
I’m worth so much more than this
when the patterns men develop around you
weave themselves contrarily.

After the first few boys
you start blaming yourself
for choosing weak men, unworthy men.
You vow to find a partner
equal to and worthy of
your strength.

After the next several relationships
burn out in similar fashion,
you start blaming yourself for everything else.
You vow to find yourself
and spend years searching
for the ghost of a scared 14-year-old girl,
asking her what went wrong.


After you’ve been used as many times as I have
After you’ve heard every excuse
After you’ve stopped hoping for anything from anyone
After you’ve gutted memories from yourself you had forgot you even had
After tearing yourself apart on the thorns of men

you stop blaming yourself
and start building yourself.


You’re not like other girls

Translation: a compliment
masquerading as an insult
to my sisters.

I’m not looking for anything right now

You like
the feel of my legs
long and smooth
beneath yours,
but not enough
to make them
the only pair of legs you’ll
sleep beside.

You’re really beautiful

Translation: you weren’t listening
when I told you last week
that I’d rather be called
so much more
than a person with favourable genetics.

I don’t want you getting attached

Translation: you will leave
and when you do
you would like to be able to tell your conscious
that you warned me,
not for my benefit,
but to make yourself feel better about leaving.

I don’t think we can be together, but you never know

Translation: you’re already
tasting her lips in lieu of mine
but you’re like everyone’s favourite
quarterback: you have got
to keep your options open.

You’re not who I thought you were

Translation: I am so much more
than you bargained for, and you
are terrified to stand in my shadow
as I take on the world
head first.