A Bitter Candy

We’re all little people down here,

don’t pray with our hands.

Four-legged at the beginning/

you’re a winged-thing aren’t you?

Still scared of the dark,

we sleep under the sheets.

Father’s climbing up the ladder.


We’re all little people down here,

don’t pray with our hands.

Grandma’s candies are bitter,

smoke stains, a winged-thing.

Drink that milk, she said.

Four-Legged at the beginning/

through ten nights of rain.


We’re all little people down here.

Get up! Stand tall!

Don’t pray with your hands.

I cut my shin on the table’s edge,

but we don’t limp ‘round here.

Our mouths are washed,

Mother’s all bitter now.


“Kick them when they kick you.

You’re a winged thing now!”

When they spit on your cheek,

drink the beer from the can.

Four-Legged at the beginning,

you’re a big girl now,

or a mean mean woman./


He’s still scared of the dark,

but he laughs sometimes,

“We’re all winged things, aren’t we?

Four-legged at the beginning.”

He blindfolds himself

with one big hand.

We’re all little people down here.

We don’t pray.


Yasmine Shelton

Yasmine Shelton is an emerging musician and writer based in Toronto. She is currently finishing an English specialist at the University of Toronto and is studying arts management at Canada’s Music Incubator. Her writing is built around images of her home by the stockyards and the Humber River in Toronto. The factory buildings, the tall grass, and the river burst through her work, tethering her songwriting and poetry to a mix of industrial and natural landscapes. She has been published in numerous Canadian literary journals and continues to perform at music festivals and venues across the country.

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