After the heartbreak year that was 2020, the third edition of The Heartbreak Museum is all about venting and much-needed catharsis. We've invited poets and artists from our community to share their experiences with all forms of heartbreak, in whatever art-form they like. Check above/beside each submission for content warnings and more info about each piece.

The Day You Gave Me Your Bracelet

 

I can only remember one thing about that day. I have no idea what I was doing before. I definitely have no clue what I was planning on doing after. If I try hard enough, I can even forget where we were. Somehow, those details don’t seem important. Somehow, all I have left from this day, is a moment. Its significance lies beneath the shadow of its apparent insignificance. The moment you decided to stop talking, take off your bracelet, and give it to me. You didn’t hesitate. Like it was my divine right. Like somehow this bracelet, which I had never seen before, always belonged to me. You were just keeping it safe for me. Guarding it for me until it was time to pass it on. At this moment, we were the only thing that mattered. The sea dried up. The waves froze. The fishermen went home early. They new ... they new, that the city was barely vast enough to hold us.

***

Look at us now. Seas and oceans are standing between us. I left the city, without knowing what I am looking for. I am trying to make it all worth it, but everything seems so bland and artificial. You were everything that is real, and authentic about me. Without you, I am merely letting life pass through me, like an empty seashell laying on the sand of an Alexandrian beach, too tired from strangers picking it up, confusing its misery for beauty, and its loneliness for mystery then throwing it back, for the next hopeless romantic that comes by. Oh, if you can see me now. I doubt you’ll even recognize me. I am translating my thoughts to a language that is foreign to me. Trying to impress strangers with my adequate grammar, and with my appropriate vocabulary. I use words like “zeitgeist” regularly, and I took Latin as an elective. But it’s okay, I can still go back to the day you gave me your bracelet. I still have that moment. That moment is all I have.

2EB0DACA-DD62-4BC3-B089-971237A8CE26 - E

ode to never having enough time

 

i don’t know what to do with

everything i know about you.

about the cialis, about the

depression, about

the open-mouthed tension 

in my stomach that can’t

reconcile what it means to

stay and what it means

to leave 

when you’re giving me the option.

my thighs can’t recognize that

every time you touch them

it might be the last time your

fingers ever come in

careful proximity to mine.

i’m not mad at you

I’m mad at the universe that rips things

away from me like a child

that wants a toy.

the universe that never gives me enough time

that brings you into my orbit when there is

no possibility for us, when there is nothing

but hoping your therapist has mercy on me,

nothing but a transparency that torments me

because maybe I don’t want to see

your insides yet. 

i’m not fighting you i’m fighting this

part of me that can’t let go

of anyone who i have selfishly imagined

a future with; who i have pulled into my

conception of the universe, 

affectionately gave you a nickname and

memorized your birth date and

told you about my teenage self that

would’ve been so proud to see the outline

of the city from mont-royal,

been privy to the sounds your stomach makes. 

i can’t fix the part of you that wants to

die.

maybe that’s why i feel so strained to take off running.

i think that you might need me,

in a vacuum,

in a timeless shapeless feelingless room 

where my blood isn’t on your hands. 

where my hands aren’t in a knot 

grabbing for something that hasn’t materialized.

I don’t know if i’m with you for you

or for me 

and fuck, i’d be able to answer that if

only we’d been given enough

time.

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heartbreak places (#3)

by amanda

medium: 35 mm film

The Day You Gave Me Your Bracelet

by Yehia Anas Sabaa

@yehia_anas

description of work:

This piece was inspired by one of the last conversations I had with my girlfriend before eventually leaving Alexandria and coming to study in Montreal. It is also inspired by a piece titled The City by C. P. Cavafy: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/51295/the-city-56d22eef2f768.

touchstarved

by Kax

@kaxasry

bio:

Ex-poet performer gone rogue. Montreal origin, Ontario based now, and sorely missing socialization.

description of work:

drawing inspired by and attempting to articulate the isolation and general feeling of being in quarantine alone.

landlocked

by anonymous

medium: collage

ode to never having enough time

by Alana Dunlop

@anotherlanguagetoliein

CW: mention of suicide and depression

bio:

Alana Dunlop is very pretty and very vain.

@anotherlanguagetoliein

vegetal abstraction

by anonymous

medium: acrylic on canvas

description of work:

My summer fling painted this for me on our first date, before everything got messy. I ran into him again in the fall, on my 21st birthday, and he apologized, and the universe released me.

Peonies for u


Sunrise sunrise looks like morning in your eyes
And I feely needy and cloying and yet I dream of holding someone's mouth like a candle flame
on a winter night like a blessing I do not deserve
But I should not
Your beauty is yours and I don't mean to claim
I don't mean to overhold
Peony soft and I kiss you and could be floating
In a pond of waterlilies midsummer,
as velvet and well loved as a street corner marked with dandelions
I want you to feel as lovely as the silver nights and safe arms
That you introduced me to

Peonies for u

by anonymous

bio:

trans*pan mess, writes poetry instead of doing readings for their seminars

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sell-out

by Alana Dunlop

medium: photography

bio: 

Alana Dunlop is very pretty and very vain

mom friend

by anonymous

CW: mentions of blood, alcohol

Drunken Ramblings of a Broken Heart

If I were to spill my heart on this page, every word would merely be your name. Cut me open, and you would find the love letters I never had the courage to write, tangled in my intestines. Though they may be bloody, the letters are as crisp as the daydreams that blind my nights- streetlamps down the boulevard of organs. My dreams feed my cerebrum pictures of you smiling at me. I only think of you when I’m dreaming. In my dreams, I live through what high school could have been if I hadn’t come out of the closet. Every night, we were still friends. This is no metaphor. Maybe, had it not been you who had taken this heart, you would not have had to dash from the crime scene. I wonder why my body always ends up being the crime scene; why I am
only a burial ground of your most fatal flaws. Do you even remember them? When I hold them up to the light, it’s hard to distinguish your flaws from your attributes. What am I saying? You are the streetlamp on a boulevard I have driven past long ago. I barely know you. You were my friend once, ten years ago.

Drunken Ramblings of a Broken Heart

by Cameron Chiovitti

@maskofpoetry

CW: graphic depictions of the body

bio:

I am a nonbinary, born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, but currently resides in Toronto, Ontario. I currently study at OCAD University in the creative writing program, and plan to pursue my craft full-time when I graduate.

description of work:

This is a piece from a chapbook I am working towards publishing. This poem originated from a tipsy night of reminiscing. It highlights how broken hearts cut deep, even after so much time. 

3x - Jasmine Zhang.png

triptych of 3 times i should have told you i loved you

by anonymous

medium: collage 

Poetry(1) copy 2 - Leah Sarah Peer.png

Heartbreak

by L.S.P. 

@thepeerpost on Instagram

bio:

L.S.P is a medical student, human rights advocate, poet, and writer from Quebec, Canada who aspires to serve humanity and communities worldwide.

description of work:

The poem depicts the inner thoughts and emotions of someone suffering from a heartbreak; of all the "what-ifs" and desire to begin anew to love once more just for that second chance at souls to unite as one, in love.

FH000005.jpg

Blood Blister Fingers

by Noemie Sanschagrin

@noemiesanschagrin and @poetrybynoemie

CW: gory and blood imagery, drug use, family trauma

bio:

Born and raised in Saint Jean sur Richelieu, I went to a super small high school where I stuck out like a sore thumb because of the way I dressed. I felt isolated and that's when I found poetry, I fell in love and I've been writing ever since!

description of work:

This piece I wrote after a traumatic experience with my mother two summers ago. She was on drugs back then and I wrote this to express the way I felt at the time.

Blood Blister Fingers 

I am home 

with my brother and mother 

midsummer afternoon in august 

tornado of fire flying through 

bracing for the incoming impact

 

doctor told her to 

stop smoking weed 

yet psychosis and 

traumatizing her kids 

will never be enough 

to get her to quit 

 

her incoherent screams 

hammer daggers into 

this grey brain matter 

ripping away at my tear ducts 

 

all I did was try my best

for my brother, my father 

the honorary matriarch 

I have become 

 

bloody rib cage wings 

yet I cannot fly away 

run like you have done 

numb, confused, angry 

fearing filled with wonder 

 

orange sky painted 

green with envy 

of a life worth living 

living for myself 

 

a nevada desert dry 

drinking the blood 

of the innocent children 

fleshy pieces bitten out 

of the child I never was

her words burn blister 

into the broken pieces of me

heartbreak places (#2)

by amanda

medium: 35 mm film

Valor

Do not discount great deeds for their roots alone, my friend

So many tales I’ve told, I’ve now grown old of those who walk out before their end.

And in their privileged eyes they see, through scales once claimed by Saul,

The enemy of diplomacy and the greed which makes men butchers all.

While I concede the bloody creed to which I’ve resigned my soul, 

Is best kept to those neglect the authors of their missions’ goal.

This does not mean their well-earned gleam should be stamped as pagan grin,

Nor as the savage mood of a barbarous brood whose lives are marked by sin. 

I marched across the Alps with a Corsican, a Carthaginian once before,

I traversed the whole of Persia with Alexander in his great lust for war.

I manned the battlements of Krak de Chevalier as the enemy lay all about, 

Once more at Byzantium, I fought in vain to keep the Turkmen out.

Equally, my spear ran thru British earls in Shakka’s ensnaring horns,

Likewise, I watched my brothers fall to Pyrrhus in a victory he still yet mourns. 

All this to say the outcomes of my spent blood and dogged toil,

Did not merely mean to me the transfer of some ephemeral goods or now-burnt soil. 

We each are born alone in ways, 

the situation about us too well-rooted for one to singlehandedly up end, 

but it was not the cause of a past-peak rhetorician for my soldiering I did spend.

I am a cog in the machine but a pawn without agency I did not play, 

I am to blame for my misgivings, but I did not die that day.

And for that reason, I shout “High treason!” to the man who will not say,

Bless those souls, by which we repose, who believed in valor in some way. 

Do not misconstrued my argument rude to those who cannot see the succor for this pain,

I too find no reasonable mind who could rectify the dead about them lain. 

I was once young and it stole my youth before I could use it as intended,

The happy heart I once enjoyed was forever-after fractionally pretended. 

Suffering that swings out the door which held you above that sacred floor, 

Wreaks havoc on the mind within, 

Suddenly, you don’t know what affects you now, nor who were back then, 

Just as with addicts who have recovered from chemically induced bondage, we should respect all who’ve made it to the other side,

God only knows the rows pon rows of veterans who stand here today alive, and as with ex-addicts we should hold them in each day with pride.

The transgressions of the individual are not washed away in service, 

But the complacency of the noncombative does not absolve them while they’ve given less.

 

If throughout military history it was all to be one great supreme conspiracy which in its blatant falsity did insult everyday morality, 

Then I ask those dissenters of this practice in its longevity, if we do not honor sacrifice, what do we reward the selfless?

 

The Charge of the Light Brigade thunders in the distance as Great War schoolboys are sent once more into Sauron’s hellscape.

 

Are you to deny them glory for their sacrifice’s futility in effect?

Is it only in the results by which we praise or we neglect?

Imagine you stand before the chopping block my friend, as your comrades look on upon your death. 

If there be no reward for martyrs, then why do we dream unchecked?

We have found horrible ways to maim each other, elegantly masked brutality we possess,

We have backstabbed lover equally as brother, that another we love more dearly may more peacefully rest.

Do not assume those who died in struggles fought for their sole gain alone,

If not always, then at least most often, we fought for those back home. 

I am monstrous to she for whom I’d gladly fight the lot, 

But it is only with my defense that she is safe enough to love me not. 

When I am gone, and I return to those whom I watched fall on many fields,

Perhaps my only worth will only be the temporary defeat of some threat that never yields.

 

My love.

Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die.

Although my time to return is nigh, 

I died with brothers at my side, 

Now I am once more allowed to ride,

And believe in she who sits with me astride, 

And my bones don’t ache, 

And the earth don’t quake, 

As the falling shells light up the burning sky.

But here they never reach the ground, 

And guns no longer make a sound, 

It’s just the horse’s lungs and my heart that pound,

Because valor is my only reprieve. 

So I hope that helps you as you grieve, 

 

Do not stand at my grave and cry, 

Although not fair, you now know why.

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YRHRT.jpg

Who Hung the Stars?

Growing up, I used to believe that Zeus was the one who hung the stars in the sky. But Polytheistic religions are a dying breed, and that thought soon passed.


There was a brief period, during the spring of my teenhood, when I stuttered over the idea that Christianity was real, and perhaps that version of god was the entity that hung the stars, and the moon, and maybe the next time god is disappointed in his disciples, he will send an asteroid shooting our way, instead of flooding the world like last time. 


At age sixteen, I was of the firm belief that science was behind it all. The only reason that I was able to see stars, was because the big bang theory had created life, and therefore evolution. I was from then on, obsessed with the idea that stardust existed within everyone's veins.


A year later, I mixed my scientific values with spiritual ones, remedying my original conclusion about stardust, and adding on the belief that the stardust inside of us was what we used to feed our souls. But stardust can curdle like sour milk when provoked, and we provoke it on a day-to-day basis with our hatred.


It is finally now that I realize I have been wrong all along. It was never Zeus that hung the stars, nor was it god, or science. I find it humorous to look back on my previous assumptions, now that I know the truth. But really, was there ever any way for me to know that truth without experience? Looking into your eyes, I am stunned as to how it wasn’t made clearer to me prior to this day, that you yourself were in fact the one that hung the stars. After all, the stars have never looked more beautiful than they do now, glinting off of the reflection of your eyes, beneath the full moon on this cold October night.
 

Yes, watching you as you drink Cava from the glass bottle, teetering on your knee, clasped firmly in one hand, your eyes crinkling as we reminisce upon the memory of our first date, I am reminded that there was a time before you came into my life, and oh what a terrible time that must have been for me. And yet, I still remember the stars being beautiful, and the sun being warm, and the wind carrying the sound of the
birds outside of my bedroom window. So how is it that whenever I think of looking at the stars without you, or feeling the sun on my face without you, I develop a large lump, almost the size of an apple, in the back of my throat, and am surrounded by the urge to cry as the world closes in around me and gradually grows heavier, much too heavy to breath. And when this happens, I have no choice but to slowly count to ten, and imagine that I can still see the stars reflecting in your eyes, because after all you hung them for me. Just as you must have hung the sun in the sky and the warmth in the air, and are the reason that I wake up with a smile on the tip of my tongue, and the beauty of the world staring me straight in the face. Because nothing is beautiful without you here.

A.M.


I was determined
To make you see
How eager and excited
You really made me


I thought I was happy
And told myself finally
Maybe someone will love me
But it was not meant to be


I added the effort
You called me needy
I thought it was forever
But you said you didn’t need me


You didn’t treat me wrong
You didn’t treat me right
You knew my feelings were strong
But you preferred me for just one night


I don’t know what you were looking for
And now I know it’s not me
For us, there is no more
I hope you find your clarity


Yet here I am
Day and night
Not knowing what to do
Or who to cry to


I studied long enough
For more than a month
To know what love is
As if it were a pop quiz


The lesson I learned
was one that I yearned
never taught in schools
only to the loving fools


Now I know what I’m looking for
It’s a love I’ve never felt before
Without you and within me
Loving myself was always meant to be

SCAN0008.JPG

journal entry, 2020

by anonymous

medium: collage (magazine pages, watercolour paint, marker)

Text from Richard Siken's "Landscape With a Blur of Conquerors"

Who Hung the Stars?

by Shaina Willison

bio: 

Shaina Willison is an undergraduate student studying Public History at Concordia University. Studying history has made her realize that everyone is always just waiting around for something to happen to them.

description of work:

This is a silly little poem about falling in love for the first time, and being too infatuated to think about anything else. But with love comes loss, and fear of loss feels like standing on a precipice and waiting to be pushed off.

perhaps you're just trying to keep yourself occupied

by Kax

@kaxasry

bio:

Ex-poet performer gone rogue. Montreal origin, Ontario based now, and sorely missing socialization.

description of work:

drawing inspired by the concept of how it feels to not be able to stop thinking about something anxiety-inducing, even when there is nothing that one can do to change it.

A.M.

by anonymous

bio:

Just a girl trying to find love within herself.

description of work:

Titled the initials of my ex, this piece was inspired by him. When he broke things off at the start of quarantine, I was lost and desperate. After months of learning to love myself, I'm happy he ended things. Now, I'm feeling more confident with who I am, not letting a person or relationship define me. This poem tells the story of how we started, to where I am now. Alone but not lonely. This piece is dedicated to anyone who might feel like healing is not happening, but really, it is.

journal entry, 2020

by anonymous

medium: collage (magazine pages, acrylic paint)

Letter to Loic - Ksenia Shulyarenko-page
Letter to Loic - Ksenia Shulyarenko-page
Letter to Loic - Ksenia Shulyarenko-page

letter to my neighbour who wanted to marry me

by Ksenia Shulyarenko

bio:

Ksenia Shulyarenko is an anarchist with no brain

description of work:

wrong time, wrong place, wrong person

SCAN0012 - mcsway poetry collective.JPG

journal entry, 2017

by anonymous

medium: collage (magazine pages, paint, marker)

Words from "Song Against Sex" by Neutral Milk Hotel

 

She was nearly in my arms again

We had it planned. After the longest 7 days of my life, I was going to get to see her, even if just for a few hours. We were going to meet at a park halfway between us. We won’t get the chance for another two weeks. She could leave any day.

 

I’ve often thought that a happy life requires denial. If love requires work, then joy requires a degree of ethical and intellectual withdrawal. Sometimes you have to kid yourself in order to believe, have to ignore the signs in order to keep moving.

 

It was half a day away, it’s now half a month ahead. She was nearly in my arms again. Then she passed on the message that she’d read. It couldn’t be tomorrow, it wouldn’t be fair to others. For now, we’d stay apart and with teenaged, naïve, broken hearts prop up the health of each other. It was the right move, I shouldn’t have to think nor take a second glance. We made use of time not our own and unjustifiably took an unallotted chance. How strange it is to stare down the barrel of a gun. For in the shadow, one sees the danger ahead about as clearly as the sun. It must be there, we thrust it there, I trust it there to be. Yet I tempt fate and stand just a little longer at the end of that long rifle’s breach.

To check if a blade retains its bite, you run your hand across its back. Surprised you would be if you turned to see your hand become red and black. We know the stakes, we know of death, yet death we do not foresee. For surely it could happen to them, but how could it befall me? If not then death at least great grief, about my life I don’t complain. What loss tomorrow could bare such sorrow as I’d not wish to see the day? On loose riverbanks we make our homes and do not expect the flood. Nor the pain brought on by life’s mere circumstance or loss of blood. In the wild, we grew cataracts that chose what we could see. And now we cry for tonight we lie in heaps of misery. Knowing that the end is near and the middle has yet to be. We sit on floors and do God abhor, shouting: how could he who make the lamb, so happy in its ignorance, make me?

dandelion wine - Darby MacDonald.jpg

dandelion wine 

by d myr

@not.a.marigold

medium: ink sketch (with poem)

bio:

d myr is a multi-disciplinary artist and social rights advocate based out of Tiohtià:ke (Montreal)

description of work:

dandelion wine is a complementary one-line sketch and stream of consciousness poem elaborating on the fraught experience of moving on from a romantic entanglement

10 20 - Heartsigned - Mikhail Dukar.jpg

Heartbreak

by Mika Dukar

bio:

He/him, gay trans and brown. I make video games and write about healing and found families in sci-fi universes.

@mikkdukk on twitter

description of work:

Dragons love too, and their larger hearts make for deeper sorrow.

Cycles

History tears its own heart
Again and again
Until the cycle is broken


We pour the world into a rusted bottle
Until the oceans surrounding us
Drown us with the water
We were thirsty for


We grow dead flowers
Into a struggling earth
Hoping for Eden’s garden
And we wind up dead


What element will you choose?
What is good for your breath?
And how will you break the cycle?

Body Parts


You hand them your heart to touch
And they do not love your poetry


They caress your ears with their fingertips
But never listen to you


They touch your mouth
But never speak to you


They cannot love you
Even if they scoured the earth
To find what was meant for you
They do not love themselves


The body parts
They speak for themselves
They do not need
Poetry

Real love never looks somewhere else


The rhythm never stops looking for a beat


And what they wanted was to untouch me

Cher toi,  

J’ai décidé que je ne t’aimais plus. Je ne t’aime plus parce que ça m’a fait trop mal. Je voudrais ne blâmer que moi pour mes passions maladives, mais je suis déjà trop coupable de tout, et mon dos est tout entier lacéré des sentences au fouet que je m’inflige chaque minute. Je n’ai plus de peau pour la culpabilité.

J’ai trop longtemps espéré – toi, ton regard, ton attention. Mais si j’ai espéré, c’est aussi ta faute ! Ta faute, toi le premier pécheur! La première démone! Sur mes blessures, toi le premier regard! C’est toi qui as vu que je voulais disparaître, toi qui n’as pas voulu que je disparaisse ! C’est ton regard qui s’est peut-être arrêté sur mes croissants sanglants, ou sur mes poings serrés, ou sur ma calligraphie trop foncée. Tu as causé ma grande saignée. Et je suis revenue.

Si tu ne m’avais jamais vue tu ne me m’aurais pas fait tout ce mal ! Je suis tombée amoureuse mille fois, mille fois j’ai été invisible, mille fois c’est passé, ça a pincé un peu, ça a laissé une petite tache d’encre sous ma peau et c’est passé. J’ai de tatoué en lettres minuscules tous ceux et celles qui m’ont ignorée, et c’est bien, ça va bien, et je ne les oublie pas, et je vais bien.

Pourquoi ne m’as-tu pas ignorée dès le départ ! Pourquoi m’as-tu fait croire qu’on pouvait marcher ensemble sans que je sois une embûche, pourquoi m’as-tu répondu en premier lieu, si c’est pour ne plus jamais répondre, si c’est pour ne plus jamais exister !

Tu m’as fait du bien. Tu m’as écoutée, un peu, au début, quand je pensais trop à tes lèvres. Tu m’éblouis du reflet de tes écailles et de tes cils ; c’est chuchotant, et tu me séismes de tes poèmes et de ta voix magmatique ; et tu profites de tout ça pour t’enrouler, et lentement envenimer ta proie. Je suis pleine d’acide ! Je me dissous de l’intérieur, tu as distillé dans mes veines ton poison, et tu es parti, tu m’as laissée convulsant de douleur sur le parquet froid de la ville entière, je ne sais pas où je t’ai abandonné, dans une école ou une salle de classe, ou dans ma minuscule chambre en résidence, ou sur un trottoir mal éclairé de Montréal, ta carcasse

est quelque part par-là, je t’ai abandonné, tu n’es plus dans ma tête ou dans mes rêves ou dans mes yeux, je hurle tu n’es plus dans ma tête ou dans mes rêves ou dans mes yeux, pour que ça devienne vrai, et puis soudain je n’ai plus besoin de le hurler et tu n’es plus dans ma tête ni dans mes rêves ni dans mes yeux, je t’ai expulsé de moi, de mon téléphone, de ma géographie.

Je ne t’aime plus parce que tu m’as fait trop mal, ça me dévorait de t’aimer jusqu’au fond des enfers, ta bouche me dévorait, tes mains qui n’étaient pas dans mes paumes me dévoraient, j’ai tout craché. 

J’avais besoin que tu sois tangible, parce que je m’effondrais dans la vraie vie, j’avais besoin de toi, j’avais besoin que tu me parles parce que tu es le seul à pouvoir vraiment me sauver, un peu, ou me noyer, surtout. Comme tu ne m’as jamais réécrit j’ai dû construire moi-même mon scaphandre avec si peu d’oxygène dans mes poumons, et j’ai nagé jusqu’à la surface violente de l’eau, j’ai pleuré longtemps dans l’interface des deux éléments, toujours tu ne venais pas, alors je t’ai laissé tomber et tout à coup j’étais plus légère, je flottais mieux. 

J’aurais sans doute pu continuer à t’aimer longtemps. En ce sens, je te remercie d’avoir cessé d’exister, parce que ça a brisé ton sort, parce que ça ira mieux bientôt. La vérité, toute crue et cruelle, c’est que j’ai besoin de compter sur quelqu’un. Et il est impossible de compter sur toi.

« Que le jour recommence et que le jour finisse

Sans que jamais Titus veuille voir Bérénice1. »

1:  Titus et Bérénice, chanson de Bénabar (en duo avec Amylie)

Cycles + Body Parts

by Zeina Jhaish

CW: Allusion to death

bio:

Zeina Jhaish is a poetry editor, performance poet, and educator. She loves the ocean and being busy.

 

@zeinajhaish on Instagram

website: zeinajhaish.weebly.com

description of work:

These were two seperate poems but I was too unbothered to separate them since who inspired them did not mind for my poetry much. Two bodies of poetry combined into one, hopefully telling of a story that can help THEM find who they really want, one day.

 

Ceci n'est pas un sonnet

by anonymous

CW: Allusions to depression and self-harm

 

Goodbye


The time has come to say goodbye.
Much earlier than we expected.
Much more painfully than we expected,
But the time has come.


So goodbye to the memories;
To the hallways filled with busy people,
Drunk, laughing, talking, dancing.
Goodbye to the lights on and off,
To calling this building home.
Goodbye to what we expected to happen;
To all we planned and wished for for the next little while.
Goodbye to the skyline,
Sometimes hiding behind the fog, but always there to watch us in the morning,
And sparkle for us at night.
Goodbye to the cross at the top of Mount Royal
That always shines as a beacon above us,
To guide us home wherever we are in the city.
Goodbye to the little shoebox rooms.
Goodbye to it all.


I need a break,
I’m tired of goodbyes.

What Happened This Summer?

Do you remember when you made my nose bleed in the back of the truck?
And you kissed me to taste my blood,
To prove to yourself you’d done it.
Back when summer was a feral thing,
And we were wild animals prowling in it.
Slinking through the night,
Where you would pull my hair,
And I would bite your neck.
When we were too strong for our own good,
And our tanned and bodies forgot how to be gentle,
And we would shove each other away,
just to yank each other close.
To knock teeth,
And laugh cruelly.
When the anger we shared was heartbreaking,
And the roughness made us raw.
Until we grew tired of being carnivores,
Craving each other's blood.

Goodbye

by Erica Brown 

bio:

Erica Brown is a second year student at McGill majoring in Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, and Social Justice Studies, and International Development.

description of work:

"Goodbye" is a poem I wrote right after McGill announced its closure in March and we were told to leave rez. It's my grappling with trying to understand what was happening and my own heartbreak at it all ending, and trying to say goodbye to it all.

What Happened This Summer?

by Erica Brown 

CW: blood, gory body imagery

description of work:

What happened this summer?" is a poem I wrote about a very intense relationship I had this summer with a man who was engaged to another woman. I wrote it after the relationship was over and I was trying to understand how something that started so lightheartedly, albeit naively, became so aggressive and caused me so much emotional, and physical pain.

Unmasked

I am most aware of my body in the moments it refuses to hold me, falling out of the moon’s grip just as my fingers graze flight. My biggest regret was inheriting gravity.


The day is another crackling connection and speaking of myself in the past tense. We ask each other to remember and we ask each other to forget. Time stretches until it snaps beside our ear drums like,


hey, wake up already.


Give me permission to be lonely and I will wade into an empty night, let the unharmed snow cast a glowing spell atop my icicled body. But don’t tell me the world is frozen static.


I came back to my city and my neighbourhood greeted me with new condos where the Iranian bakery used to be. Every face a hallowed puddle. I have lost track of the things that I take for granted.


Yet still,


You give me the morning as a constant. Nowhere to go but into the warmth of you.
Your hands lowering the blade I hold to the dawn’s wet throat.


Your voices, the gusts that clear the smoke from my lungs on eternal evenings.
Your unmasked anger, my lasting lullaby.


Oh, my sparkling mirrored chandelier dream. My sincere and sinuous stone-bounded shore:
Remind me that I still deserve touch. When the pavement starts to look like my reflection,


the goldened vermillion rivers farther than my feet can carry me, the stars too anxious to make more than a shadow of an appearance, the city, unmoving,


I think of your hands, nearer than even I could ever imagine. Your eyes, clutching one another in unwavering fists. Holding the promise of an enduring earth, until descent is all I can long for.

Unmasked

by Mahta Riazi

@mahtariazi

bio:

Mahta Riazi (she/her) is a queer Iranian/Canadian poet, community worker and educator currently living in what is colonially known as Montreal, Canada. She is passionate about friendship, tea, and most recently, puzzle-making. Her poetry appears in inQluded magazine, FEED literary magazine, Voicemail Poems, Headline Anthology, and Yolk literary magazine.

description of work:

This poem is a broken-hearted love letter to my community who, in the most terrifying moments, continue to mourn together, love together, and fight for each other. This is a poem of gratitude, of longing, and of patiently waiting for the day I can hold my people close to me. 

 

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heartbreak places (#1)

by amanda

medium: 35 mm film

Valor

by Brian Schatteman

@stoicphoto311

CW: allusions to war/personal violence

bio:

I am a U0 BSc student looking to earn a joint degree in theoretical mathematics and environmental biology. I most consistently pursue art through photography but I write poetry and prose for myself every once and a while.

description of work:

While the motivation for martial conflict is seldom moral, the decision to serve is fundamentally a sacrifice, performed in the hopes of defending others. This poem thereby offers the heartbroken family members of servicemen the small consolation of knowing their loved one pursued something truly honorable in a world where selflessness is rarely properly rewarded.

Laeta

To you, whose name means laughter.  

Grainy pictures, yellowing at the edges
pinned lazily to the wall,
smashed plaster carpeting the floor.
In this place, where conversations were whispers
like two old spinsters we talked;
Cackling away our last days, 
Nothing sacred to us
Reverence only for each other,
Laughter our prayer, 
In our hubris,
We though not even years could separate us,
your armchair a throne,
one last embrace,
one last pillow for your back,
Before being carried away by howling Valkyrie,
whose wails means death
in their steel sepulchre,
your halo made of wires, you left me,
smothered,
as sunlight through a window
floods a dying candle. 

 

Now the newborn silence cries out,
Over empty sterile corridors,
Falls back,
To wait again to bring and break again,
Pauses and exhales, 
Remember me, for anything that did not bring pain,
In this quiet place where the days now linger,
Yet still shirk away from our fingertips,
this place where they think
that sweet citrine scents stifle the loss
or that through bleach you cannot smell
the expiration.
Love turned to contempt,
your home, now shrine
each visit a lamentation.
Wearing.
Its broken gutters
dripping onto exposed stone.

 

Laeta

by Thomas W Brown

CW: mention of death

bio:

Thomas is a PhD candidate in Neuroscience at McGill. Originally trained in archaeology he transferred to neuroscience after working in a nursing home.

description of work:

During my undergraduate I worked in a nursing home, one of the residents I just clicked with, we used to joke that she was my grandma and we would laugh all of the time, she'd tell me stories and give me shards of wisdom. She met everyone in my family and I visited her when I graduated too (bringing her my degree). After I finished working there (to focus on MSc), I used to go back and visit (once a week if I could) because she wanted to know how I was getting on. One day I turned up for a visit and I was told she had passed away. Even though I had seen death a lot while I worked there (and made lots of lovely friends), her death felt different, and for some reason I wasn't able to bring myself to ever go back.

thank god we broke up

created by Alana Dunlop, produced by Dumb Bitch Productions

@dumb_bitch_productions on Instagram

bio:

Alana Dunlop is one half of the creative partnership behind Dumb Bitch Productions, a no-budget production company that makes amateur documentary films and literally edits them on iMovie.

description of work:

"thank god we broke up" is a short film composed of interviews with three of Alana's friends about their worst heartbreaks.

__Nonexistent Country

 

I never understood

the tragedy of this

until now,

this bubbling of worlds

beneath the skin

all for another

with whom you only share

this one, lonely one

 

I wove myself tales

so believable

I thought I was living

their plots,

a common spider convinced

it was spinning Arachne’s web

without her same fate

and faults;

just fantasy stitched 

clumsily but with care 

to the ends of my sleeves,

fingers curled 

around it so tightly

the fibers became more real

than bone

 

Perhaps I lie better

than I know,

to trick myself 

these were not only 

dreams

but potentialities 

to find courage within

to grasp;

unalone 

in this one world 

we have 

Nonexistent Country

by Danica Smith

@danica.smithy

bio:

Danica Smith is a writer based in upstate New York and formerly Montreal, where she studied and graduated from McGill University. She has been writing poetry for several years, as well as fiction.

jacques_heartbreak_museum - J M.png

home

by Jacques

@jacques.a.vit

medium: prose and photography

bio:

Jacques is a local geography icon, multidisciplinary artiste, and future eccentric professor. Who are you? What do you want? I'm not sure how to answer that.

description of work:

a reflection on the places and people we call home, the pain that comes with changing, and the heartbreak of leaving.

feb. 10, 2021. 

@ 10. 58 pm. 

 

you left your red lighter on my living room windowsill. 

a poem by sophia blackburn

 

you’re leaving

and i can’t ask you to stay.

it seems that maybe you left months ago 

and i didn’t even realize it—

you’re just taking some time to yourself, 

you said. 

too busy with your art and 

making focaccia bread with your cousin, 

you said. 

you’re doing fine and living life as usual, 

you said—

only this time, 

you’re doing it without me. 

 

where did you go, my love?

i’m calling you up

and you’re meeting me with a voice 

that sounds so very near, 

yet it immediately crumbles into pieces 

(like dry rose petals)

when i try to hold on to it—

you’re slipping further and further away. 

is that still you

on the other end of the line?

i can barely even recognize you anymore 

for you are so distant from me. 

where did you go, my love?
won’t you say my name again

and call me by the nickname you had for me, 

let it drip thick from your lips 

like cherry blossom honey. 

won’t you look at me again

with those round hazel eyes of yours

and ask me how I’m doing?

 

i miss you 

and yet you keep pushing me further and 

further away from you.

you are building walls between us 

with the frigidity of your own disappearance—

and i’m trying to crawl my way back to you,

digging and clawing through all the shit you 

throw in front of me:

half-assed lies and excuses in the attempt of conviction 

that we are really okay—

yet you keep burying me under 

the heavy burden of your silence 

and the crushing weight of 

all the things we have left unsaid.

you are suffocating me 

with your games. 

 

you call me your best friend one day

and then the next,

it feels like i am nothing more 

than just another stranger to you.

my love, where did you go? 

if only you knew

how many nights i’ve spent

toying with scenarios in my mind 

about where this could have possibly 

all went wrong,

would you still leave me 

drowning in my own misery?

the only thing is that despite 

your every effort to convince both yourself and me 

of otherwise, 

i know exactly how we ended up here. 

you didn’t even have to say a thing

because i knew it all along, you see. 

and i wish to god 

you didn’t have to hide yourself away 

because of who you are made to love.

you shouldn’t be afraid to let yourself 

feel all the beauty  

you have been blessed to experience. 

 

you’ve said goodbye sooner than 

i’d have imagined,

and yet perhaps the fear of love

had already made you set one foot out the door 

and ready to leave 

at the first touch of vulnerability. 

now that you’re gone, 

maybe i’ll remember you 

by the music you introduced me to 

and that i still listen to on long train rides back home; 

dancing in your car @ 3 am in 

empty parking lots of abandoned corner stores;

us laying in damp grass on tepid august afternoons 

and your fingers braiding my hair;

me making you mushroom ravioli and your favourite 

red wine tomato sauce 

while you watered my plants;

you peeling oranges in the library 

and perfuming the air with sweet citrus scents.  

 

if i never see you again, 

i will still remember you 

by your signature red lighter that you left behind 

on my living room windowsill. 

you left your red lighter on my living room windowsill

by sophia blackburn

@iii.am.sophia

bio:

sophia is a psychology major and avid lover of all things art and poetry and literature and real conversations that allow for deep human connection. she is a fan of dark chocolate and rain and cozy home-cooked meals

description of work:

this is a poem about thoughts and feelings on the subject of processing the end of a close friendship when lines begin to blur.

Double Vision (1) - Anna Berglas.jpg

Double Vision

by Anna

@annaberglas

bio:

Anna, a tea-lover, aspiring English major, and U0 student, loves experimenting with her art. She can be found in libraries during non-covid times, and reading during our current dystopian timeline.

description of work:

This piece explores the end of a relationship through multiple lenses. Each visualization can exist on its own as an illustration of the emotional turmoil, loss of self, and grief that accompanies heartbreak.

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Invoice number: 23011993

by Amongst Other Thingz

@amongstotherthingz

CW: hints to sexual assault, violence against women, trauma, phobia

bio:

I write, amongst other things.

description of work:

This is why it never works out. 

dandelion wine

You grew tired of me
told me you couldn’t say the words you used to
something about how you couldn’t sleep in my bed no more
               didn’t matter how much dandelion wine dribbled from my lips
                                 you were sick of my cheap yellow words


But how do you tell someone who don’t love you no more
you’ve sewn them fields of wild self-sabotage
                  and that in the midst of the bruise-coloured bloom

                                                                  the honeybees have fun amok?

& now, you’ve gone and taken a new lover
& when you touch her do you feel my skin, like silk under your hands?
or was I just a cheap knock-off of all that shame you kept dog-eared in
your library?

                                 I’m not sure but I think the answer’s yes.

why all this resistance then?
               it’s what we agreed to,

                                 all part of the process

where we cauterize our guilt by placing prettier, rounder mouths
on all the spots that hurt


& in the daylight the marks they leave on us
all first place ribbons
in the race to prove
who’s better at forgetting all those

         

        cheap
                  yellow
                            words.

She was nearly in my arms again

by Brian Schatteman

@stoicphoto311

CW: death, knife mention

bio:

I am a U0 BSc student at McGill hoping to pursue a joint degree in Environmental Biology and Theoretical Mathematics. I am also a photographer and a hobbyist writer who's high school experience at a public boarding school was cut short as a result of the pandemic.

description of work:

This poem describes my disappointment to learn that my girlfriend, who I had been separated from as a result of the pandemic, had to cancel her plans to meet up with me after finally returning to Illinois after spending most of the spring in Texas. We broke up not long after.

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the sound of leaving

by amanda

medium: photography

Spring will come

 

봄이 오려나 봄이 오려나

Spring will come, spring will come.

Butterflies fly into my stomach

So I cut it in the middle to make a crop top.

 

Spring is coming, spring is coming.

My shoulder blades stab me through my skin

I can’t lie on my back

But I can lie to her face

In the mirror

 

I say,

It’s getting warmer, it’s getting warmer.

You’re getting warmer

You’re warmer

Warmer.

 

But what if I can’t warm up

Would you love me if I was still frigid

In spring

I should kiss you now when you can’t tell

 

I heat up underneath my blankets

My heart tucked in with my own hands

날개죽지 밑에 큰 아픔이 있다

날개가 피어나려나 보다

A prettier, rounder name for shoulder blades

Wing bones

My wings are sprouting.

one summer night

 

our love story was always in winter. each winter we held hands with the excuse of the chill, scarves burrowed and returned to see each other again. i sometimes wonder if when we spend a summer together it would be enough. 

 

would the curtains close after a heated summer, is it because my birthday is in the summer, so you’ve never told me happy birthday and i feel like i didn’t get my fill of love from you. 

 

my heart feels like it’s about to burst. but unfortunately it doesn’t. unfortunately the opposite of a broken heart isn’t the heart turning into dust. nor is it a new one, but simply 

 

a mended one. 

 

unfortunately i have to go on with a mended heart. 

unfortunately the opposite of i love you isn’t 

i hate you, but 

i’m sorry. 

i’m afraid so.

i’m afraid. 

i’m afraid you were too afraid.

Spring will come

by Shelly Bahng

@humflow

bio:

Shelly writes about loneliness and togetherness.

one summer night

by Shelly Bahng

@humflow

i don't want to share with you

by Carol Altimas

@lightofcarol

bio:

lover of words and rhythms, fan of all things comfy & reminders of summer time

description of work:

"i don't want to share with you" is a video of me, the artist, reading a poem for two audiences: someone i cared about and the audience. to the person i cared about, i recount how i don't want to share with, but throughout unintentionally end up sharing with them about where i'm at and how i feel. the same notion goes for the audience. this notion brings the question: maybe i really did want to share after all?

caterpillars have feelings too

the sun shines on the greenhouse girl from ottawa illuminating the shimmer of the red strands of her hair, kissing her freckles, and complimenting her sapphire diamond eyes that turn to me as she laughs

i think i like the greenhouse girl. 

 

i admire the garden nymph as she tends to each stem to make it straighter

waters each flower so it blooms brighter 

and i feel like a caterpillar 

a traitor who she treats with a kindness that i do not deserve 

i eat away at her hard work until i metamorphosize into a butterfly

catch her eye, spread my wings, and fly away 

a coward who appreciates her 

from afar 

 

because she can offer me an entire garden, family dinners, and show me off because she helped me grow too 

without her i would remain in my chrysalis 

but i have nothing to give her 

a family who will see her only as another species 

lies to keep her safe 

for i fear that they will revive the horrors of gulliver’s travels. 

they have clipped my wings as a precaution so that i cannot fly closer to her

i can only crawl unnoticed. 

 

she reaches out to me and i recoil

a gentle touch can result in 

a broken wing

Caterpillars have feelings too

by Penelope Marie

@samers22

bio:

A small Montreal caterpillar trying to keep warm during the winters of her life. Moved by the promises of spring.

THANK YOU FOR VISITING THE HEARTBREAK MUSEUM.