“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying
stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” N.R. Narayana Murthy

Prompt of the Month Alpha House TWC Group

BV Submission

Since I first laid eyes on her,
I knew this was not my place to prosper.

Like a fork without a prong,
This is somewhere I don’t belong.

Whether in the penthouse up high,
Or, the ditch where I’d cry.

This is somewhere I don’t belong.
Like a chameleon changing colours,

I’ve tried to be like others.
But my heart is too dark,

My pain has left a mark,
This is somewhere I don’t belong.

Trying to fit in, with a bottle of gin.
On the stage I sing my song.

This is somewhere I don’t belong.
As I try to look for help,

I simply will not accept myself.
This is somewhere I don’t belong.


You were a tiny, startled being, thrown forth from water.
Our mother says that you cried and were inconsolable.

Now you are a man and the city holds you. The city is a grey, noisy womb.
It is a dusty belonging. Your mind is wrapped and firmly swaddled in neurological pathways that strike
as they sway.

The city holds you.
Your days, in your apartment are elongated moments.
They are stretched almost to breaking and then repeated.

The city holds you as you mumble your truths that are sometimes guttural yelps from your balcony.
Your belly is a rock-a knapsack of pain.
Your thoughts are an explosion of digitally repeated patterns.

I drive by and see you on a walk.
I am reminded at the sight of your bare, size eleven feet on the cold sidewalk, that I have new socks for

The city holds you.
Traffic swishes and sways, cradling both sizes of you.
Oh, to shrink your pain, to place you back in your watery world where tiny toes are your horizon-
strange, yet familiar shapes that keep you company.


Funeral for the Truth
By Ellise Ramos

I came from the Philippines at 14,
and immediately recognized
the abyss that separates my narrative
from everyone else’s history.

My history is of salt water and dried fish.
Sunny, humid days and afternoons spent with
my back on the grass, toes curled,
watching the clouds go by.

Yours is of winter, hugging cups of coffee,
the initial sweet taste reinvigorating your body for the rest of the day.
Coffee, the quencher of all thirsts, the muse of your mornings,
the tradition that keeps a family close, one mug at a time.

I was 20 when I walked down the streets of Port Credit,
forgetting the place I had in your world.
A fuzzy, brown dog came bounding down the steps and pushed his head under my palm.
I asked the owner, “Can I pet him? Is he friendly?”
And he said, “Maybe not with the Chinese.”

I was 23 when I noticed,
sitting in a restaurant with my friend,
an old man, his white son and his son’s Filipino wife staring at us.
I could see from the look of the Filipina’s eyes
that something was about to happen —
something she was already desperately
trying to apologize for.

The old man wheeled his chair over to my table,
put both hands on my shoulder and asked:
“You from the Philippines?”
I nodded, my fork and spoon in mid-air.

“Good. Come with me. I can give you everything. I can even send you back home. I have

His son kept apologizing, but to my friend, not to me.
His Filipino wife went down on her knees, put her forehead on mine, and said,
“Pasensya ka na. Matanda na eh.”*

What is it about me that makes people think I am for sale?

As each winter passes,
and more snow gathers around me,
winter jackets accumulating —
it’s so easy to forget
that I used to belong to an island,
whose history is marked
by 300 years of subjugation —

that the colour of my skin
is different from yours,

the language I speak
is borrowed

–it is not my first, and will never be my own.

Toronto is a multicultural city,
and we can be so accepting and open.
But denying the existence of the abyss we have to cross to reach each other,
is a funeral for the truth.

We are all blinded by the lens that owns us,
and bound to pasts we cannot destroy.

*Translates to: “Please have patience for he is old.”