Archive for the ‘My Poems’ Category

For perhaps the first time in the history of my poetry, I’m writing about something topical. You might have heard about this volcanic ash that is sweeping Europe right now and forcing airlines to cancel all flights to the surrounding areas. It’s chaos. Don’t expect anything but the busy signal when you try calling Air Canada.

As many of you know, I was supposed to leave for the United Kingdom on Thursday afternoon. Obviously, my flight was canceled. I have been feeling very sorry for myself over the last few days because this trip was important to me, and now everything feels very uncertain. I’ve also been thinking about the hundreds of thousands of people who are stuck in one place or another, who are unable to see their loved ones and have no idea when things will clear up. It’s frustrating because there’s nothing that can be done; there’s no one to blame; and there’s no knowing what will happen next.

That same evening when I should have been on a plane flying across the Atlantic, my friend Paul accompanied me to a poetry show. (You know someone is a good friend when they will spend time with you even when you’re in a destructive mood.) I was so inspired by the evening’s performances — especially some new poems by the incredible Kevin Matthews — that I felt the need to dash home and write something positive, perhaps even uplifting.

The next afternoon, I received a call from CBC Radio 1, asking if I would come in to the studio and talk about my experience on All in a Day with Alan Neal. Guess they had been following my Twitter updates. I had about 15 minutes to get from the Glebe to the top on Bank Street — during rush hour. Amazingly, I made it. On air, Alan and I conversed for a couple of minutes, and then I performed the (rather personal) poem I had written the night before.

And I used this opportunity to promote my upcoming poetry show with Nadine Thornhill with the Dusty Owl Reading Series on May 2. C’mon, I’m only human.

Anyway, here is the poem…


Dear Volcanic Ash

Dear Icelandic shards that clouded the European airspace

That forced Air Canada to cancel my trip to the UK

That prevented me from seeing that someone I love and adore

More than space never stopped us before

But now the price of distance is this

I’ve missed my chance to see her up close

When I yearned for her the most

And I’m not here to place blame

On any natural disaster

Even though this feels disastrous to me

On this hard-hearted day

I promise not to complain

I only wanted to say

Thank you

For teaching me patience

Because even though this hurts more than words can show

I know that when we finally come face to face

These feelings of hate will dissolve

And I will be so so grateful

That I will kiss her that much more fondly

And it will be as beautiful as a third kiss should be

Our embrace will be so steaming hot

That volcanic streaks will appear as mere brush strokes around us

Splashing blood orange vermillion between us

And I would repeat

Thank you

For teaching me patience

Because now I know what it means to be devoted

Because I have waited this long

And I will wait three thousand weeks longer

To be with you

And whether or not this makes us stronger

It will make us remember that we conquered volcanoes to be together

That we dove into burning hot lava

And reemerged untainted

Save for a splatter of colour

That remains a blush in your cheeks

That sustains a flush in my fingertips out of reach

Reaching toward you

No matter how far you might be

And I see

That this has taught me patience

So that if ever I forget to adore you every day

This foray into the power of staying

Will remind me

That you are worth waiting for

And for you I will wait

Till dawn breaks

Till my heavy heart breaks

Until the intensity of these trials

Breaks my weary back

Back to the beginning

I would start again for you

From the beginning

At the beginning of all things

When there are so many possibilities

And I can choose only one

I will choose to wait

For you

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After my poetry performance on Sunday evening at the Spoken Word Plot, people I didn’t know came up to me and thanked me.

Back in high school, we were assigned personal journals for drama class. I loved writing them because back then, like now, I was very analytical and enjoyed contemplation in isolation. One of my favourite comments from my teacher was: “Very honest. Thank you.” I took that as a compliment.

Those who have attended my poetry performances know that while my writing is undeniably personal and that I occasionally (understatement of the year) talk about my sex life, there is nothing that is written for shock value, nothing that would be considered “over share” or “too much information”, and nothing that is not completely accessible to the majority of adult audiences. Heck, I would be comfortable having my mother in the audience.

I’m just sharing my stories. And some people want to hear them. So that’s why I do it.

It’s impossible to describe exactly what happened Sunday night (though you could see Andrew Snowdon’s review on Ottawa Tonite for a pretty decent description AND video); even I’m not quite sure what happened. All I know is that I was onstage with my dear friend Nadine — who, by the way, was wearing an incredibly sexy purple dress — and it was magnificent. I have never seen her so vibrant, so full of feeling. Her poetry is heartfelt and it is very funny. I think we made a good team. Lauryn, Michelle, and Shu were fantastic on the open mic. And I loved watching people in the audience. I could see Danielle completely engaged in the performance, nodding her head whenever she felt she could relate to what was being said. I watched my new friend Stephanie in the front row, her eyes widening occasionally, and breaking into fits of laughter at the appropriate moments. Paul and Jesse were taking wonderful photos. Nadine’s devoted husband Phil was holding the video camera. Then there was Alix, my drama teacher from when I was only ten years old, smiling encouragingly. And near her were Jan and Jennifer, a couple of professional storytellers that I have adored from a young age.

I guess all I want to say is that I am very grateful. People that I admire actually took the time to come to my show. And then they actually took the time to tell me how it affected them. That means so so much to me, and I hope they know that.

On a related note…

On Thursday I am leaving on a two-week trip for the United Kingdom to figure things out for next year. I expect these next fourteen days to be life-changing, and I have never been so excited. There is the potential for romance, adventure, and new beginnings. I am 23 years old and I have so much more to experience. Let it begin.

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Feathers ruffle like

Modern Ballet practicum

Dancers crinoline

Photo: Jessica Ruano

Image: Edgar Degas

Image: Edgar Degas

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Over the last five years, I have worked as a publicist for numerous theatre companies and arts organizations in Ottawa and beyond. While I have tended to develop strong attachments to these groups, I have always maintained a healthy degree of objectivity in working with them; able to view their work from an outsider’s point of view, to see through the eyes of the media and potential audiences in order to create relationships between the various parties.

This objectivity is much more difficult to maintain when promoting my own work. I often find myself straddling (ahem) the line between vanity and self-deprecation. Do I tell everyone how totally awesome I am, or do I let them formulate their own opinions by simply providing them with the facts? Since I don’t have that objective distance, I might not be my own most reliable judge of talent. So, to a certain extent, I have to rely on the favourable opinions of other people, and not only on my own sense of good taste.

Two such people – local poets Graeme Loh El O’Farrell and Sean O’Gorman – were sweet enough to create a short promotional video to advertise my upcoming feature show with fellow poet Nadine Thornhill at the Spoken Word Plot on April 11 . Here’s the clip:

This is where the self-deprecation comes in: even though I really like what these guys have done with the video, I still think I look like a total dork (or perhaps “adorkable”, as Nadine would say). But is that just because everyone finds it weird seeing themselves on screen? I’ve been told that my poetry (or perhaps more aptly named “poetic monologues”) works well in performance, but does it translate on screen? Heck, I don’t know.

I’ve heard that a promotional video can “make or break” a marketing campaign. So here’s my question: does this video inspire you to bring a truckload of friends and family to my show, or does it make you want to run screaming in the other direction? I would love to hear from people who have seen me perform, as well as from people who had no idea that I have a life outside my computer.

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how to symbolize a kiss
a space between words

how to designate a glance
a sudden surge of alliteration

how to insinuate touch
a single line of imperfect rhyme

how to interpolate  breath
a string of italics

how to replicate love
an endless ellipsis

a new poem, with notes from A.L.bion

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I performed this piece at Voices of Venus last night at the open mic, just before feature storyteller Ruthanne Edward (Team Edward!) took the stage. Her stories were those of brave women – both historical and mythical – who made names from themselves by standing up for their basic rights with wit and elegance. It was truly inspirational.

Detailed in this link, I’m going to be featuring in a number of poetry shows over the next few months. Please contact me directly if you would like more information about these wonderful series, or directions to the events, or encouragement to come perform yourself!

Sometimes I make my own theatre

Like this evening

Walking down Main Street in Vancouver

I offered my umbrella to this girl passing by

Not for the rain

But because she was sobbing

And I wondered how other people could have ignored her for two whole blocks

This pretty young girl with braids in her hair

A colourful scarf around her neck

Tears mixed with raindrops

I offered her my umbrella

Because we seemed to be going in the same direction

And I thought perhaps she needed the company

I needed the company

We walked in silence for a few moments

And then she began to blubber and curse

Reliving the last quarter hour

She had been standing on a crowded city bus

No place to go

No room to move

And this man pressed his pelvis into her body

Rubbed, pushed, prodded

Cornered her into a corner

Smiled a sickening smile

She didn’t want to make a fuss

Cause a scene

Walking along, she scolded herself for not having done something

Usually I stand up for myself, she said

Usually I do something

I’ve been harassed before, she said

I’ve felt this feeling before

Haven’t we all, I replied

Then assured her that the next girl would do something about it

But would she?

Or would she, too, stay quiet, so as not to draw attention

Then I wondered

Would I have done something?

Probably not

I would rather say – nothing

I would rather keep to myself

After all, it wasn’t rape

Though it certainly felt that way at the time

It wasn’t rape

But I never thought of him the same way again

How can we share our stories

When they aren’t so black and white

We can call it by a different name

But it’s still there, present, prodding

I had a story, and my dear friend listened

This girl had a story, and I offered her my umbrella

We should all have umbrellas on hand

Just in case

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Poet’s Revenge

Perhaps you weren’t aware

When we got together

That I’ve had my experiences

I’ve had to weather the storm

Of relations. You’re not the first

To burst this bubble of mine

There’ve been plenty of swine

That have messed with my mind

Tried to unwind me from this

Positive self, this notion of bliss, this

Something I came to without you

It just went amiss for a temporary time

But now I’ve had time to recline

And opine that perhaps it wasn’t me

And that actually there was something behind

Those sweet eyes of yours

The ones I adored

As you poured yourself into me

Pushed me to belong to me

Singing along with me

This happy little tune

Of getting to know. you. better

And you’d better know what you’re saying

When you say things like that

As a matter of fact

You’d better keep track

Of the number of times

You try this on girls

Or so I’ve been hearing

Now I’m just clearing the air

To be fair to me, to you, to another possible her

In fact, should I tell her?

Yeah, it’s tempting, but whatever

She’ll figure it out, sooner or later

And maybe then her and I’ll be friends

Grateful to be rid of such a careless guy

Writing collective poems wondering why

We wasted our time giving it a try

Because words have power

And word of mouth is strong

And before you know it

Your reputation’s passed along

And there goes your chance of ever getting laid

Or even getting paid for a decent acting gig

But that’s what you get when you act like a pig

Yes, you poor stupid boy

You’re going to regret it

What were you thinking?

You don’t fuck with a poet

Written by Jessica Ruano
April 2009

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When I kissed you

When I kissed you –

I was in a good mood

A good night out it had been

Feeling like I owned the town

Nothing could bring me down tonight

And when I feel this good

I like to be kissed

Forceful and sweet

Like apple cider inhabiting

Every tasty morsel

Of your mouth…

My eyes are closed

Enjoying the moment

And when I open them, I see –

Your pants around your ankles

And that’s when this story starts to get bitter

See afterward I asked a male friend of mine

If this is normal behaviour

Does passionate kissing

Only make men think

What they’re missing

Out on?

Apparently, the obvious answer is yes

Jess, what did you think?

I think I thought I knew what I was doing

But clearly those beautiful moments

When lips reach lips

Tongue touches tongue

And sunbursts collide

With rainbows and violins and purple hair

Is merely code for foreplay

Fore-play: what comes before the playing

As in, not a separate entity unto itself

Did I miss the memo?

Is kissing no longer an acceptable expression of affection?

Is it all or nothing for the rest of my adult life?

What about those great times, lover mine

When you and I tossed around on the couch for hours

Smiling and laughing, content with the adolescent splendour of it all

There was never any presumption that this was only just leading up to…

What? Love-making?

Or so you call it.

Our kisses need to get to know each other first.

Our hands need to grow accustomed to the soft fabric

Of our clothing first

Our eyes need to become acquainted with our smiles

We need to undergo a sort of progression

Please, please, aren’t you listening?

I’m being as clear as I possibly can



Haven’t you seen those posters sprawled

Across the walls of my university?

No does not mean maybe

Stop does not mean go

And mine does not mean yours to fuck around with

But with every reluctant glance

With every, Darling be tender now

With every, CUT IT OUT

You return that ridiculous disappointed look

Like this is my fault

I was leading you on

Because I love to be kissed

I do… I want to be kissed

I want – NOT THAT

So then I do something incredibly stupid:

I compromise

Stupid because it is less that what you want, more than what I want

And I have learned

That a bitter compromise is not a true compromise

And now I feel bitter

I feel resentful

My mouth feels dry and my throat feels heavy

I want to rip up pillows and tear down curtains

I want to throw martini glasses out the window

I want to feel better

Make me feel better

Make me feel better

Kiss me, please, just kiss me, please

No wait – I forgot

We don’t do that anymore

Do we?

Written by Jessica Ruano
September 2007

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It speaks volumes

What’s. This. Look you’re giving me?

You ask, gently

As I lay sprawled out, completely naked, beside you

What’s on your mind? You persist, with a kiss

And I wish I could give a straight answer

But my head keeps bubbling over with inanities

Something about, didn’t we just meet, and

Haven’t we known each other for years, and

Doesn’t it feel like, yes, we’ve done this a hundred times

And once again you’ve left me breathless

My neck cranked over the edge of the bed

Gasping for air, hoping my heart doesn’t burst

Hoping I don’t bloody fall off, just like

Remember that last time?

No, wait, you wouldn’t, and neither would I

Because there was no last time

Except, of course, in my imagination

But I am enjoying the newness of it all

Not knowing where this is going

Or what you’re going to do to me next

And perfectly content that I have the a priori knowledge

Of knowing exactly how to fit into your arms, and

Being in the exact right position, able to kiss your face and neck

When I feel inspired

Inspired to kiss, inspired to lick, inspired to love

Keen on grinding and groaning and grabbing and rubbing and

Hoping that you won’t mind being a little bit late for work

Because I could do this for hours

And even then that leaves very little time for staring

Deeply into your eyes

As you ask me these stupid questions

About what I am thinking

Darling, I have no thoughts

They left me with those kisses you loved

Look, there, you’ll find them all over your body

I’ve given you everything I have

And now you actually want me to

Speak. In. Complete. Sentences?

Look at me – I have no clothes on

How much more honest can I get?

I always thought nudity spoke volumes

I mean, of all the ridiculous faces I made over the last couple of hours

Delirious as anything, as you persisted

In doing the most heavenly-ungodly things to me

You make no mention of those, and yet

You choose this particular expression to stimulate conversation?

And you look at me now

As though I were some incarnation of Venus

And I look at you

As though you have the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen

Written by Jessica Ruano
February 2009

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My love affair with haiku

Haiku magnets

This summer I created a haiku website and posted a new haiku everyday. I managed to write 101 in total! I love writing them because they can be created in an instant; capturing an image, a moment; much like a photograph. They also make great magnets. Here are a few of my favourites:

She smoothes the shapes with

Her fingertips to commit

Them to memory

Words flit free

Like rickety slaps

Of the tongue

If I had my way

This year would pass as quickly

As time does with you

I recognize you

Immediately and yet

My gaze shifts swiftly

Like surfboards hitting

Radio waves sassy hosts

Serve sportive segues

Your hands continued

To search for her body through

The curves in my hips

Did you feel it when

Nervous eyes evaded sight

That sinking feeling

This bruise inflicted

By him conflicted says blue

And black turns him on

This child could be my

Child could be if only my

Brown hair were blonder

My innocent plea

Please open me carefully

Close me with caution

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