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Poetry collection

in the old beach house, Natalia Tola Maldonado

somewhere between the skinny highway

leading to the ocean 


the small velvet boxes 

i used to keep lovers names 

…i found trails of my old teenage self, 

                how i loved in this unbroken melody of heartbeats louder than a 60s ballad…

and yet i tiptoed my way through 

                                    life and its fairy lights 

terrified of small paper cuts, curfews and 

                                    and apple red crushes 

i cut myself into lunch box halves for anyone 

who showed a little affection

a little affection and there i was, 

laughing at your barely funny jokes as my heart flew all the way to

                   the unmarked side of the moon

how i yearn to go back to a time where my soul was small and green!

recklessly in love with butterfly rings and other flimsy things!

i miss that feeling when you meet another person and love is a strange language that 

cuts through you somehow 

presses you somehow 

back then, 

i wrote you everywhere, 

                   purely in cursive letters 

how there’s just something about your eyes—glassy like you’re punch-drunk on secrets 

my tea and my monday daydreams would be consumed entirely by you 

but innocence is as funny thing 

you don’t know you’ve had it until you lost it          

and i’ll dip my old ballerina shoes into 


              i’m not grateful for the reasons i lost it

not grateful for the heartbreaks 

 that ate out my heart and then my hands! making me into a poet and a smoker! 

because now i’ve grown to love the 

bitterness of salt rims and wine coloured nails

i would eat my younger self for breakfast

(and tell her to not car crash her way through love)

life’s a play and i’ve forgotten my lines, Gökçe On

between notes app poems

and declarations of love in nineteenth-century scriptures

i look for myself

unsure, and (at least somewhat) determined

i track myself down 

in the words i wrote in the past

in the words written by dead people i never got to meet

in the words spoken by strangers on transit

all of a sudden,

i’m in the middle of a crowd 

       green flashing lights surrounding me

i don’t know where i am

       did i ever know for sure?

there’s something wrong with me 

every time i blink, 

i  keep thinking i’m back home 

       with sand under my feet and the sun shining on my face

but home is oceans away – and i’m stuck here 

in the middle of this 

       crowd of people

i keep looking for a familiar face 

       a safety person, someone to hold on to 

i don’t know any of these people, 

but they all seem to know me 

       did i forget their faces

              or maybe just their names

                     how i met them, and how we ended up in the same place?

violent lights and 

violent kisses,

shades of violet, 

and the feeling of missing 

       why do i miss people i’ve never met? 

pretty boys in tasselled vests kissing 

one of them looks exactly like 

a friend i used to know in high school

       achingly nostalgic 

you haven’t known freedom

until you’ve seen two pretty boys kiss

       without getting harassed 

it’s the type of freedom children feel when playing without thinking about the time 

the type of freedom you feel swimming in the crystal clear sea as the light reflects on the surface

       creating psychedelic shapes and colours

              blinding you a little 

                     in the best way possible 

The unbecoming of strangers, Natalia Tola Maldonado

i recall when you threw out my name

into the unknowing thrill 

of april’s dark 

a skinny figure peeking in the middle of 

                                                        9 PM shadows 

and the most imposing yellow house in your blue neighbourhood 

as you called out for me on our third date, 

your voice was a

sweet but lemony thing

my name being drank like a strange, 

foreign bottle of limoncello 

as i made my way through 

           your dress shirt rolled up to your 


or your 

               secretive black curls exploding and expanding 

my heart sang and hummed to the tune of a new love, wondering if this would be

                                                                the last? 

i couldn’t help but wonder 

how many chances we get all 

making human connections 

that curse our body like 

                                          flaming birds escaping 

rusted cages

       how much luck can we wear out in a lifetime?

                    does it wash out of our blue jeans? 

do we collect it out of 

black cigarette ashtrays?

is it hidden in our childhood pyjamas? 

how many times do we give out our last name? last favourite book? and last 20-dollar bet to


if this new love will be your last one?

writer’s block, Gökçe On

i don’t hear the sound of the keyboard clicking away anymore

i just sit 


              stare at my screen

waiting for a muse

or realistically 

just a coherent thought

i know i want to write

it’s not a lack of enthusiasm 

but whenever i sit down to put words on paper

it makes me feel sick

       maybe it’s not the words

              but what they remind me of 

making me feel the pit in my stomach 

the feeling of wanting to throw up 

       but not having the energy to 

what is the opposite

of having butterflies in my stomach



                     slimy, squirmy, sickening bugs?

something is eating away at me

i can’t put it into words

       – how do you explain an abstract concept to someone who has never felt it? 

i’ve forgotten all the words

       in all the languages i know

and so, the words decided to forget me 

                                            just like you did 

it’s just me and the keyboard now

no typing 

no words 


Spring in Montréal, Natalia Tola Maldonado

this is me writing old school


about old school


           blue windows and tiny girls in 

beige berets 

or the women outside the nightclub 

 holding each other tightly, almost to death

silent tears staining tight cocktail dresses 

this is a gorgeous city mostly populated by 

metropolitan, pretentious 

                   rats and rubble 

where people have little love, little sugar on their coffee and little battery on their phones to call you back






of playfulness kept in the bottom of tall, pink stiletto heels or 

 little green vials in downtown bars 

the art of living is everywhere you look 

violins echoing and mimicking the 

violent street noises, 

                         (old volvo cars clashing 


                                           new lips crashing)



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