assessment (n).

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I met you among the spruce trees, which
rustled as we tested each other by
exposing our wounds from our wars.

You took me down to the rocky riverside
and told me all the ways you came to be
and I arranged in a row all the ways
I let him down, and you brought your
hand to my hand, and I brought my eyes
to meet your eyes.

fasten (v).

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I bring you my self as I am, 
all tender and soft
just as you have brought to me
since the beginning, your
own softness. 

You have made a place
where I can bring to you
the strangeness and triumphs of my day,
my fleeting thoughts and
deepest longings and
all the things I carry on my shoulders, 
and you line them up with me, 
you hold them or nourish them
or, when appropriate, help me
lay them to rest. 

This is the love that we have built together:
that I can be softened
by your softness
and strengthened
by your strength, 
that I can gather you
in your frustrations
and you can anchor me
in my wavering.

This is the love that we have built, 
and it started right from the beginning, 
when we were just two kids
walking each other home. 

fracture (n).

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I am like the chipped glass
I keep in my cupboard;
a ragged piece is missing
off my shoulder and
a craggy trench runs
all down my centre. 

Do not bring your lips to me
do not expect me to hold
whatever you offer up. 

But do not, even in my awkward
state, give up on me - 
if we are careful, I could
maybe hold the flowers
we find on our walk home. 

phantom (adj).

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We loved each other on
the bed we made, which
was tangled with blame and
the notion that you were right
in principle but not delivery,
and I was an mess of feelings that
didn’t have names. You held
my body with familiarity and
looked at me with a gaze that
I did not recognize.

Is this the only place left
for us, where I speak to you
in questions and you paint
me like a stranger?
 

paternal (adj).

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Let me tell you the broadness and depth
of what it means to feed the children: 

There is the the earning of wages, yes, 
there is the bringing home of rations.

But there's more to it: there are piercing cries
in the middle of the deepest sleep;
there are hungry mouths that won't feed and
a tired, beautiful woman whose eyes they inherited with
whom you you have divided the tasks in order to conquer -
wait, has it become us against them?

There is the brutal softness of being awake in the
middle of the night, with nowhere to be but the inky midnight, 
cradling these tiny people who have plummeted
full force into your reality, and it's just you and their
milky gaze, it's just you
and their helpless adoration of your own
helpless features, it's just you
and their prophetic, nonsensical cooing. 

Let me tell you the broadness and depth
of what it means to be a father:

there is the fact that I used to be
a man who knew what needed to be done
and I was made confident by the fact
that I could do the work, 

and now I am a man who has nothing to do
except wake at all hours of keeping
and do all of the work and receive
all of the honour that comes with
feeding the children. 

pursuit (n).

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I had a dream of greatness
I had a vision that my life would include
noble ambition and impressive
pastimes. I had a dream of notoriety
and confidence that the things I chose
to do were the right things, full of courage
and boldness.

No one told me about
the late nights and sleepless mornings
no one told us about the sore muscles and
calloused hands. No one mentioned
the dirt on my tired clothing and
the secret art of crunching numbers and
sharing last night’s dinner for supper
again and all of the wondering if
we would make it to month’s end.

No one told me
about my heart, pulled in
all ways, my mind, spinning
like a top at the edge of a table.

No one told me
that the dream that was
planted would
grow in this way. 

You will find me
living my dream
with my hair messy and
my children laughing,
with projects half open
and half finished,
with eyes clear and
hands full and heart
living in the light.

sight (n).

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I stopped for a moment and the beauty of
all of these things rose to meet me:
that children still learn to ride bikes and
bakers get up at four in the morning to
make perfect, warm bread and
strangers open doors for each other and
also they make conversation on the subway and
here, just when I needed it, someone mailed me
a letter with my favourite words spilled inside.

The leaves remember to come back each spring and
tiny birds chase each other, even in the city and
sail boats still flutter like eyelashes across
the lake on Sundays and
the sun, just when I needed it, stays around later and
is there waiting for me in the early morning when
sleep isn’t easy and doesn’t stay long.

My mother calls and asks all the right questions and
my neighbour planted magnolias on my side of the porch and
the teen cashier at the grocery store is happy to see me and
the old couple beside me are still holding hands and
my friends are champions, inviting me to dinner and
my cousin drew pictures that I keep on my wall and
here, just when I needed it, a song rises to wake me
to show me I am not alone in my lonesome, that
I am not hopeless even when I am sad.

immerse (v).

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I am in the everything place
which is too close and too much
and all at once, like standing
too close to a painting, 
overwhelmed by this
tiny corner of blue.

I am in the tender place
where everything is soft and
temperamental, where the
walls are made of questions
and doubt, where the air
seems thick and soupy
like summer heat that
won't break, where the floor
is made of shifting sand.

silk (n).

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Who is going to love the softness in me?
Here I am, made of hum and hammock,
with ribbons for limbs, bones of feathers,
brought often to tears and to the floor
in overwhelming wonder that
we are each oceans, just held together
by the armor of our bodies and
the rumor that we need to be hardened
in order to stand.

I've seen the look before, and
I see it again from you, 
you're afraid I will drown you
with the petals that keep
pouring out of my chest.

celebratory word project giveaway.

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 So I just wrote thirty poems in thirty days. This is the third time I've challenged myself with this feat (with the original April Word Project last year and again in October), and it's always the same cycle: the first few days it takes a really long time for the poem to "arrive," I spend a lot of time staring at the wall, or out the window, or generally lamenting to myself. Always finding it difficult to find the time to make it all happen. Around day eight, a bit of a shift comes and I might come up with a banger, and then somewhere around day eleven, all of a sudden I'm taking notes on my phone and writing things down in the middle of work.

With each of these month-long projects, this lesson is affirmed: if you make space for art, something will always arrive to you. And, the runner-up lesson: you're not always going to make The Best Art Of Your Life. Which is totally okay. But you have to be ready (limber, research done, mantel prepared, etc etc) for when it does come. So doing the work, and thanking it for coming, no matter how small it may seem, is all you can do. 

So, a giveaway:

as a thank you for following along with The April Word Project, I'm giving away two poems about whatever they want! For the winners last year, I wrote mooring (n). to commemorate a reader's journey with anxiety, and circadian (adj). as an anthem about starting a new chapter for another reader. 

How to enter:

ON INSTAGRAM: Screenshot and share your favourite #aprilwordproject poem in your insta-story or on your profile and tag/ mention @visitjessjanz. Make sure you're following @visitjessjanz on instagram. 

ON FACEBOOK/ TWITTER: go to visitjessjanz.com and pick your favourite April Word Project poem, and share it on your account. Make sure you tag me (Jess Janz on Facebook and @jessjanz on Twitter) so I can see that you've shared! Make sure you're following the Visit Jess Janz page on Facebook. You can see the whole collection here. 

I'll be doing the draw on Friday, May Fourth, so you have a few days to pick your favourite!

xo Jess

(Photo by the brilliant Steph Ironside from Iron & Bragg Photography).

excuse (n).

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I don’t have time to create;
there is too much to worry about, like
not looking like the pretty girls, and
if what I learned as a child is true, and
all of the little catastrophes everywhere.

And, I am already late;
late to work, late to understand,
late to catch on, late to gain
skill and strategy.

And, there are the others;
they are talented and accomplished
and so well prepared and
polished with their manner and
also the right equipment.

I could not even dare to
begin now.

gesture (n).

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You crossed over to me
from the other side of my kitchen like
to you it was crossing an ocean -

- it was that big of a gesture,
this tiny, precious thing,
that you would take
the first step and not me,
that you would leave behind
your points of reason (so well
prepared) and your solid
arguments and your need
to be right, and wrap me up,
even with your chin trembling. 

implicate (v).

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I now understand
the ritual of mourning clothes,
a physical veil to signify that
we are not yet ready to join the world;
they would act as a suggestion of how
strangers should approach us:
with the greatest softness
and a wide berth.

How many times have I been
unraveled by a well-meaning barista
asking how my day is going? 
How isolating when you can't
answer fully: "I am making sense
of myself after
my entire world fell apart." 

I now approach the world
with such delicacy, since
we are not adorned in our
mourning clothes, but
carry with us all the ways
we are surviving.

billow (v).

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Wade out with me
past the sea grass and sand bank
past the tide pool and shelled reef,
past even the calm and gentle water,
to the place where we hover
and feel like we could be swallowed whole,
to the place that the water turns
from silver to enveloping blue,
to the place where the waves break
and gather into themselves
and that’s how they become tall.