To the Missing Island Youths

Where have you gone?

police tape, news cameras

thousands of Facebook posts

not a word, not a trace

five lives, teens, youth

are there more of you?

more—that vanished like morning fog

look, search, question, follow-up

find nothing

what does it take to erase a person—five people

surely more than a week, a month

Where have you gone?

pouring over each clue, seek similarities

island born, under twenty-five, slight build

odd ones out, queer, creative—different

too different to connect, to alike to ignore

are you together, wherever together is

lost, but not found

you leave a space greater than you occupied

hundreds search, thousands weep

Where have you gone?

taken, stolen

escaped, free

questions without end

will you be seen again

five people,

do you rest without

those who best love you

Where have you gone?

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Voice in the Snowdrifts

Storms are intense.

This week, in my area of the world, we’ve been stuck in a perpetual winter storm for five days. In an Island community, where there’s rarely ever snow, we now have over a foot and it’s steadily coming down. What’s more, the sun pops out now and then to melt just enough snow into ice–only to have more snow fall on it.

This means holing up in our houses. If we do venture out, walking can be dangerous business. Just today, I had a good friend fall and injure themselves pretty bad–I mean, it’s nothing life threatening, but it will certainly be a literal pain for months to come.

The crap storm that is Trump is no different. Normally, I am very active in keeping informed in world politics. As a Canadian, I especially pay attention to my neighbours to the south. Since the election, I have no idea what sources to trust. On a daily, sometimes hourly, basis–my newsfeeds and inboxes are filling up with rumours, lies and direct quotes that make my heart hurt deeply.

Like my winter storm, I’ve retreated. I’ve hidden my voice in the white noise. I’ve shared articles, talked to friends and colleagues, but avoided adding my own opinions to the mix. I feel like we’re overwhelmed. At least, I am overwhelmed. I’m not done fighting though; I just need a break.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve no energy for fun, friends or any more feelings. I keep being invited to things, but it’s all I can do to go to class and get my homework done. Part of that is second semester blues, but a large part of that is the frivolity of it all. I get annoyed at small talk  and silliness. I don’t judge people who are able to do that, to cut loose and have fun–I am not one of them.

First, I’ve never really been able to goof off or play around. I crave deep intimate intellectual connection. Which is ironic, because I love Ron Burgundy and Zoolander.

So here I sit, trying to change the world from my laptop.

~Cheryl Folland

Breaking the Silence: The Resistance.

I’ve been trying to think of what to say in the wake of events over the past six weeks. The world is a messy place right now. At times it can feel overwhelming and even pointless to add to the volume of dissenting voices.

It can feel like the sound of my objections, my values and my heartache will be drowned out by the rhetoric of hate. Yet, I speak, I write and I march.

Maybe this is you.

Perhaps you’ve been scrolling through social media and noticed people you’ve loved and respected are telling you to quiet down. Perhaps they’ve posted “let’s make Facebook cuter” posts to draw attention away from the horrors happening around them. Don’t let their denial discourage you.

I hear your voice. The world hears your voice. If you’ve any comfort at all that you make a difference, look to The Women’s March. Worldwide women, men and gender non-binary folks stood side by side in solidarity with those losing their rights and freedoms. They marched for the voiceless. They marched in mourning for democracy. They marched. They weren’t passive.

Again, in light of the terror attack in Quebec City against Muslims peacefully worshipping, we march. This hate, it needs to end. We must not ignore it. I refuse to lose myself in cute cat videos, in personality quizzes, in Netflix binging. I also refuse to lose myself in engaging in comment wars. Protest is not about fighting the opinions of others on social media, it’s about action.

Put your mind and body into action however you can. Don’t feed the trolls but don’t let them silence you. If you have a story to tell, and nowhere to tell it, I am here for you. Visit the contact us page and tell me your story. Your story of hurt or your story of hope. Stories move people. They fuel revolutions. Welcome to the resistance. We’ve got your back.

2017: Will It Be a Good Year?

I suppose any year where I make it to the next year unscathed can be counted a success.

I don’t know about you, but there are a few things I see happening this year that only a year like 2016 could’ve initiated.

On January 21st, people around the world are taking to the streets marching in solidarity and protest of Trump’s inauguration. His presidency is likely to set back freedoms and human rights of marginalized people of colour, LGBTQ+ individuals, women and immigrants to worse than 25 years ago.

What can I do about it as a Canadian? I can create space for one. If you need a platform to be heard from, take mine.

I can listen, empathize and fight for the freedoms I’ve long taken for granted. Reach out to our neighbours south of us. I’d be naive to think that this new leadership will not effect my life. Already, racial and gender based hate crimes in Canada have increased.

Reactively, minority groups have begun to band together in support of one another. People have become more generous where others have pulled back. It seems that collectively we are bracing for something volatile but what?

Reading Twitter battles between Trump and, well, anyone–I am fearful for what will occur at the hands of someone so hot-headed. At the same time, I am hopeful for those watching from behind relatively safe borders to open their hearts and homes to the wave of disillusioned voters and political refugees that we are certain to see.

For anyone who is doubting this, take a minute right now and review the immigration numbers of Americans to Canada after Bush was elected, and then remind yourself of all the internet memes depicted Trump as worse. There’s a reason the Canada Immigration Site crashed for over 24 hours after the election closed.

Now is not the time for the world to be silent, but we have to be careful that our voices don’t turn into another bully chant. Let’s be preservers of human dignity. Let’s feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick and love the broken-hearted. Only then will it be a good year.

What Makes Me Dangerous

The response to an in-class prompt about people who are endangering the American Dream in the wake of #makeamericagreatagain . Thank you Sonnet L’Abbe for an amazing semester of poetry. Note: my mother is not a hoe–society gave her that label as a single mother, not me.

I’m so dangerous

You don’t even know

I’m in the fast lane

I’m a gay daughter of a liberated hoe

Thinking for myself

Raging against the machine

I’m a beggar of pardons

Where fuck the man is the Queen

 

 

Critical thinking has changed in my lifetime

To thinking critically

Social media feeds angry trolls

With little regard to the damage of words

Yet it is I who is dangerous

With my promotion of equality,

freedom and social justice

I’m dangerous with my dissenting voice

 

Calling bigotry and racism for what it is

Fear mongering and a refusal to accept the truth

We are one humanity but

don’t tell the right winged

Right winged. What a paradox.

Wrong winged is a more accurate term

Ideals that clip society’s wings

Making it unable to soar

Forcing antiprogress that leaves us grounded

In the very nests of hate our predecessors

Fought and died to free us from

How this generation can simultaneously revere

Someone like Lincoln or Nelson Mandela

And loathe everything they stand for

 

It’s the addiction to buzzwords and trending topics

Here I stand dangerously on the edge of unpopularity

Refusing to bend to the overwhelming hate

Throw it all on me and I’ll exchange it for truth

We are one humanity, one Earth, one universe

 

I’m dangerous because I think; thinking leads to change

Change scares people, figuratively and literally

In an age of digital currency

Money still talks, the wealthy still mock the poor

I’m dangerous, leave your tip at the door.