1920s archival back & white photograph of a Gypsy/Traveler’s caravan ablazed — Traditional funeral ceremony.
Archival photograph public domain

Burn it
You can burn it all
The books
The quilts
The poetry
The dried paint on the boards
The pictures in their frames

When I die
Burn it all
You can burn it all
Like the gypsies did
A caravan on fire
Diaries ablaze
No secrets revealed
No shame relived
No memories to smile to
A life forgotten

A presence
On this lushious land
At this time in Time
A body to burn
Used up to the core
Tired to the bones
A skin like rag
And hair so thin
Eyes sunked in
Burn it all you can burn it all…

Projet Nuage | Silver Cloud Project 2020 ©AJ Vallee

About a year ago now, I published a text, a poem about my mom’s declining health and self due to a case of Alzheimer that consumed her before our very eyes in a matter of months. It was an ode to her passion for literature, to her bright mind, a woman ahead of her time. What I hadn’t realised then was this piece was marking my stepping into mourning or rather, the acceptance part of that process.

This was followed by having to admit her into a care home during the winter and, only a few weeks later, not being…

Une réflexion #BeyondCovid19

Black & White photograph of a bouquet of flowers standing on a chair.
©Photo by AJVallee

Ça fait déjà quelques années que je me demande si on est collectivement prêts à vivre les deuils en rafale qui nous attendent.

Mon questionnement a émergé aux annonces successives du décès de ces gens de talentueux, pourtant encore jeunes, humbles mortels qui de leur vivant ont pour plusieurs été des héros, je pense notamment à Prince, George Michael ou David Bowie pour ne nommer que ceux-ci. Jamais dans l’Histoire de l’Humanité avons-nous côtoyé de si près nos idoles, nos modèles, ces demi-dieux ! …

Lettre à Michel Tremblay

La bibliothèque de maman ©Photo par AJVallee

Québec, décembre 2019

Cher Monsieur Tremblay, Michel,

C’est une drôle d’affaires pour moi que d’aller acheter votre dernier ouvrage. Ça ne devait pas se passer comme ça.
Je ne devais pas avoir à m’en occuper,
c’est elle qui devait le faire.
Elle devait l’ajouter à sa liste de commissions,
celles de Noël.
Elle devait aller chez Pantoute, celle sur St-Joseph car,
bien qu’elle habite en Haute-Ville,
“dans St-Roch y’a du parking.”

Elle devait donc s’y rendre
en acheter deux copies.
Elle devait emballer l’une d’elle dans un papier savamment choisi pour moi et le ceintrer d’un ruban qui aurait matché.
Elle aurait ajouté…

A Xmas Story written for the ‘Your Holiday Mom’ project in support to LGBT youth — 24dec2019

Photo from the early 80s, excitement on a little girl’s face as she discovers Christmas stockings filled to the rim!
Photo by AJ’s dad :)

Oh yay ! You’re here !

I’m so glad you made it in time to see my dad perform the Christmas tradition I so adored when I was little, one I kept believing in even after I found out Santa didn’t exist. He’s doing it for the little ones in the family tonight so that it will hopefully be perpetuated through times and generations ! Because, you know, it’s important to keep warm memories alive.

So let me explain…

When my brother and…

©Photo by AJVallee

I opened the door
Her smile beamed
She came in and introduced me to my dad
He shrugged
We let it lie
Just like we did with every nonsense her confused brain
would trick her into believing made sense.

It had become
More and more difficult to hang out
a little easier each time
As months went by
She faded away
Her body was the only proof that she had once been herself

She mostly laughed at her own inner jokes
Everytime I had been alone with her
If only for a brief moment
She would lean in wanting to confide a…

Straw hat resting on the dashboard of a car rolling on a road, sunny day blue skies.
©Photo by AJVallee

I finally spotted it amongst the other cars.
There it was, standing still, as reassuring as a familiar face in an overwhelming crowd.
The state of it though.
The matte finish of its fading paint made it easily recognisable.
A tarnished spoon misplaced in a polished silverware set.

I had grown accustomed to it, hanging by the thread of its decades of good service.
I sat in the truck and waited for a reason to leave.
I would turn the key in, hear the usual clinging of its aging parts : the loose mufler, the hissing sound of the ineffective fan, the…

In a field, a single tree at dusk.
©Photo by AJVallee

The harvest had been good
So much had been learned
We had sung old homeland songs acapella, each perched on a cherry-tree top
The fruits had this dark sweetness
One for the basket. One for me
One for the harvest. One for me

The view from here was phenomenal
The air was so crisp it sharpened the vision
Its purity hurt my citygirl lungs
All around us the foothills to the Alps only echoed nature’s gifts
The wind brushing the leaves of trees I didn’t know the name of
Birds I had never heard before
The sound of bells lazily preceding cows in the field
We disturbed…

Cold Blue Ocean Waves Rolling Offshore.
©Photo by AJVallee

Were already over
We loved each other
We made each other laugh
Wanted the best for each other
Yet incapable of offering it
Our hot tempers
Never giving in

It had dawned on me on day
We had no project in common
No house to renovate
No trips around the world to plan
No startup to start up
And there would never be babies to raise

In one last attempt to patch things up
To convince ourselves it wasn’t all that bad
We went on a roadtrip
17 hours between here
and the end of the world
1000 km to cover the distance between…

The ocean in a purple nightfall light.
©Photo by AJVallee

Fresh clean linen
And the cat purring
A gentle sun ray
On a baby sleeping

The roar of the sea
The thunder
The rain
The quiet before a storm
The smell following it

A crunchy toast
Done on both sides
A hot black coffee
In that funny mug

Billie singing in the moon rise
And more wine swaying your mind
The stupid joke that makes you weep
And the friend laughing to it

The dew under your foot
On the cool morning grass
The crispy snow singing
under your step at night

The cool northern breeze that comes in
The bonfire…

AJ Vallee

Stop. Look & Listen. That’s Life happening. Sometimes en Français et parfois in English. www.ajvallee.ca

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