I ruin beauty. Crumpling underneath lights,
it doesn’t take much to crush them. Turn the
world dark again. Blunt force, heat in the stomach.
Life as constant bleeding we pretend we cannot
smell. Iron tastes like progress; I poison the stock,
my tongue black with corrosion. I eat at my body
like a starved animal, soft pink and bruising.
I’m just like you; wondering where it all went
wrong, forced to the ground only when it’s too late.
It always is; I lick the salt of the earth and thirst for
something more. I don’t have to live with it but
I still need to survive, and isn’t that the cruellest
kind of comfort? Knowing my body against yours
could kill us both, but not knowing who’ll go
first. My blood mixed with yours, unable to taste
myself. We don’t know who we are without the
other. You couldn’t exist without me to give you
reason to brake. How do I say I don’t want your pity
without sounding more pathetic than I already am.
Neck against tire isn’t enough; you need to step on
it if you can still walk, remind me of our existence.
Destruction entails being alive, or else it’s no fun.
Why kill what’s already dead? There’s no glory in
stillness, eyes opened towards the sky. Despite is
the hardest thing to be. Who are you despite me?
Despite the way I’ve curled around your destruction
instead of my own? Look at the damage I caused
despite myself; how you survived despite yourself.

Once, a deer leapt in front of my father’s best friend’s car,
turned itself inside out and took the front bumper with it.

You say you survived as if I didn’t let you.

KANIKA LAWTON is a Toronto-based writer and editor. She received her MA from the University of Toronto’s Cinema Studies Institute and a BA in Psychology with a Minor in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, 2018 Pink Door Fellow, 2020 BOAAT Writer’s Retreat Poetry Fellow, and Editor-In-Chief of L’Éphémère Review, her work has appeared in Ricepaper MagazineVagabond City Literary JournalHypertrophic Literary, and Glass Poetry, among others. She is the author of three micro-chapbooks, most recently Monster (Girl) Theory (post ghost press, 2019). 

  • Any place in the world: I haven’t gone yet, but one year I want to spend a summer in Italy, writing a poetry collection or novel and biking down well-worn trails and soaking up the sun.

  • Sweetest thing: When a dog runs up to you for pats, or when a baby reaches their hand out to you.

  • Favorite space to write: It’s a total cliché but I love writing in coffee shops and corner cafés and indie bookstores because I like being around people who are also working on their own thing. I rotate between four or five cafés around my neighbourhood that make good coffee, play good music, and have friendly baristasI’m a former barista so I get it. I also like supporting local shops, and it’s nice seeing familiar faces both behind the counter and around the store; it makes this huge city feel a little warmer.

  • Character (TV, book, movie) you most identify with: I finally say Frances Ha for the first time last month and I felt like I was watching myself skip and fumble through my twenties if I so happened to be a blonde dancer living in New York instead of a brunette writer living in Toronto. I really related to her facing setbacks and still marching on and sometimes talking too much or saying the wrong thing (at the worst time) and her self-deprecating humour. Even when I was cringing at some parts because Oh God, I’ve done that too, I found her endearing, and I guess I like to think I can be endearing too, if only because I don’t take myself too seriously either.