Trevor Abes: Writer


How if you’re a city of one that goes ham on infrastructure

I’m a crowd with nowhere to sleep

How you delegate responsibility by having been drinking

How you wear drapes and curtains when you have something to hide

How your travel history is a flower bud with deflated balloon petals

Mine Kate Spade polka dot islands

How you spell the word YES with one Y and a bunch of As and Ss

As an antidepressant

How you savour a hug like marmalade

How you take selfies for self-care

How your coping mechanism is hurting me

How when you krump with your skirt scrunched up in one hand

I think our disturbances are compatible

How your drug is company

How you think D’Angelo’s Black Messiah is too emotional

How your recovery position looks like you’re bracing for an earthquake

How I never told you that I woke up with yellow nails

And thought I had liver disease but it was really turmeric

From last night’s lamb stew

How if you accept that we’ll all end up reincorporated in dirt

I make staying out past daybreak a higher priority

How you mess up my hair like I’m a toddler

Half of my head caved in like spray-painted chocolate in the sun

How kissing you is like an edible version of the instant

When you transition from dark movie theatre back to daylight

How if you miss the non-committal friendships of bartending

We don’t touch knees on the couch

How you project the shadow of some scrub you almost married onto me

To forgive yourself for living as a stereotype until the age of 24

How we built a friendship over WhatsApp

How I should have known that shit left gaps in you

My unconscious went right ahead and filled


The bedside heartbreak peer-review

The bee hotel rendezvous

The overcast brunches

The heads on shoulders on subways

The smoke in your kindness in my lungs

The gap between your teeth

The space it affords me

The huns, the babycakes

The mix CDs as restraints

The tanks in the background of your favourite childhood memories

The intimacy you replace with exclamation marks

I recycle as coffee straws on sleepless mornings

That you exhaust me like an electric car

That I walk like I want to be caught


That our rapport feels like a bird in a nest in a wall where a brick should be

Poem for My Landlord’s Dog

Zoe and I,

We tight like sneakers and tree branches

A seance like Leon Bridges and the past

Spirit animals like Fireball whiskey and cinnamon heart candy

We tight like knee caps and ledges

A double-act like showers and reflection

The missed connection of caution tape and a beauty-pageant sash

We tight like curbsides and history

A mirror image like company and vitamins

Pre-destined like homesickness and curiosity

Tailored like Tinder and drinking under tables

An ocean like air and melted glass

When TV Watches Back: Coyote Collective’s Like a Generation

Picture One

The terrifying thing about watching a lot of TV is that most of the damage it causes is both delivered and received with a smile. Understanding this smile is the central concern in Like a Generation, the latest play from Toronto’s Coyote Collective.

Read my review in Sewer Lid Magazine.

Letters to Hip Hop (video)

Letters to Hip Hop

Dear Hip Hop,

When I listen to my favorite MCs, my anxiety drifts out and sits beside me. The greater the freshness of my playlist, the faster the self-loathing loops in my head become breakbeats to write over.

Dear Hip Hop,

My father is Filipino. My mother is French. As a Canadian, this means I belong to three cultures rather than a third of each. With expandable memory to find footing in any community that feeds me.

Dear Hip Hop,

That you are founded on authenticity means you contain the seeds of your own evolution. MCs will cater to the prevailing concept of realness, mostly sound the same, and bring an end to their era by smothering it with itself. Or someone will change the meaning of the all-encompassing pronoun ‘it’—as in “keeping it real” and “you know what it is”—and with it the music. These wakes and revivals may feel like knives to the heart, but they are your history of survival through adaptation.

Dear Hip Hop,

Any D’Angelo song gets me swaying like a lawyer to a witness.

Dear Hip Hop

In one of his Day Today video diaries, Wiz Khalifa defined ‘keeping it real’ as eating the same foods when you’re famous as you did when you were not. In his case, this applies primarily to Pop Tarts, Doritos, Cheez-Its and Hostess Cupcakes. I can only hope that, in my case, I will one day elevate honey on toast and Sour Cherry Blasters to determining factors in my existence.

Dear Hip Hop,

If Pac and Biggie were granted a Second Coming, they’d apologize for the mess they left you in. They’d apologize for leaving you in Diddy’s hands for so long. That is how big of men they would have become.

Dear Hip Hop,

Grandmaster Caz said “you don’t invent anything, but you reinvent everything.” You flipped the record player into a musical instrument. You turned violence on the streets into bars with backing beats. You split the white person into a hybrid of many names, like Macklemore or Iggy Azalea.

Dear Hip Hop,

Iggy Azalea may rap like she bought her Atlanta accent on eBay, but she’s got more mic skills than 50 Cent, Kanye at times and DJ Khaled in his dreams.

Dear Hip Hop,

My parents bet on me early. When they bought the 13-year-old nerdlet version of myself an uncensored copy of The Slim Shady LP, they had no idea a pill-popping would-be-wife-murderer would be the foundation for my adventures in poetry.

Dear Hip Hop,

In 1939, philosopher G.E. Moore offered his proof for the existence of a physical world, a world outside of our minds. He said, “Here is one hand, and here is another.” He did not specify a colour.

Spoken Word Takes a Turn for the Outrageous

Outrageous is a new spoken word series in Toronto that’s turning heads and making friends by breaking all the rules. Read my article about it here or by clicking on one of the images below.

If you’re in the city, come by for Outrageous X on September 29 at 8 p.m.

From Outrageous VIII: Alex Hood on bass and Callum MacKenzie on sax as the Rainbow Jackson Free Jazz Experience. Photo by Maite Jacobson.

From Outrageous VIII: Alex Hood on bass and Callum MacKenzie on sax as the Rainbow Jackson Free Jazz Experience. Photo by Maite Jacobson.

Outrageous screenshot

The Illustrated Life: An Interview With Writer And Cartoonist Salgood Sam

 Here’s my chat with Salgood Sam on The Rusty Toque

Salgood Sam (photo by Niall Eccles)

Salgood Sam (photo by Niall Eccles).


If On A Winter’s Night Michael DeForge: Redefining The Horror Comic In A Kim-Kardashianized World

“If On A Winter’s Night Michael DeForge” is my first op-ed for Sequential: Canadian Comix News and Culture. It’s about Toronto-based comics artist Michael DeForge (Ant Colony, Adventure Time) and his very particular use of horror. Have a read.


If on a winter's night Michael DeForge on Sequential comix


A response to Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle

Here’s my response to Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle of films in today’s LightNews, the Luminato Festival’s daily newspaper. Give the image a click to read it. 




Photo by Hanry Swyk

Photo by Hanry Swyk

I’d already dropped a subway token into the turnstile when I realized I hadn’t said goodbye to you. You gave me an autograph, went on stage to tell a story, answered audience questions with six other cartoonists, and three hours passed. I went to pee as soon as the Q&A was over, but when I came out I realized I didn’t know anyone there. So I left


I thought about going back to the bar, checking out the merch table again, maybe taking a stool and having another beer. It’s not that thinking of staying made me feel good enough to leave and go home. I wish I’d stayed. I wish I’d taken a chance and kept to myself, read the comics I’d bought right there minding my own business to see if that drew anyone to me


Not anyone. Really just you


I’d bought your comics. I read both of them on the subway in less than five minutes. That tells me leaving was a mistake. No guarantee anything memorable would have happened in a bar full of artists and enthusiasts and regulars who would have been there anyway, but I see now that it’s the right environment for it. What would I have expected from reading alone on the stool? Nothing but my proximity to you, my fulfilled resolve to be as close as possible to someone whose work and personality I feel passionate about


I’m switching to the southbound train. I’ll be there again soon. I’m sick of early nights; they don’t make me feel safe like they did when I was a teenager, when I didn’t understand the six-feet-under sensation of introducing myself to strangers who share my interests for what it is, a minor obstacle. The frightening part of that sensation, the possible rejection, goes away when hoping everyone likes me is replaced by what I love


The reading was on the second floor. I’m climbing stairs with a shiny chrome finish, walking through an open door into a crowd I just left. There are maybe 40 people, most of them in small groups, the occasional loner sitting and enjoying the atmosphere, hand on backpack. The conversation is loud, friendly. There are people here who are men and women, one, the other, or neither of the two. I ask myself if gender-discrimination could be partially forgiven with land and reparations, or some appropriate financial cocktail, like the mistreatment of indigenous peoples by the Canadian government. Probably not


I order an organic beer in a bottle, sit and re-read. Your comic’s bright white paper is a magnet for light. Nobody is looking at me, but I feel like everyone is. I see you sitting by the stage with a pink-haired writer who tried for red and a matriarch of Toronto’s visual arts wearing her signature headband. I’m on the lookout for a chance to say hello without butting in, which should be easy. After six months of silent recovery from vocal abuse, you can speak briefly if absolutely necessary. When I get to the page of issue #1 where you’re diagnosed, you rest a hand on my shoulder, lean in and whisper with intention


“Hi, you”


I can tell you’ve been thinking about those two words for a while. Your lips are red with afterthoughts, colliding between us, here, now, into something I don’t have to speculate on anymore. I can’t name it, but it’s giving me confidence in my curiosity for you. You who I’ve shared more smiles with than words


I offer to buy you a glass of room temperature water hoping it’ll make you laugh. You breathe out a “shhhure” and beam a waxen grin that tells me you’re letting go. You gesture that you can eat and drink pretty much anything as long as it’s not too hot or cold. The mental tools I use to understand this are doubtlessly shared by all and the keys to peace on Earth. When your water arrives, you run the back of a pinkie along the glass to test it and give me two thumbs up. Knowing your work, I didn’t expect to hear you speak tonight. I was prepared to have the entirety of our shared experience be an instrumental. In a ruled notebook you ask what I think of your voice, and I say something about it being warm and dignified, like royalty without prejudice. You say mine is deep, mobile, prone to inflection. I ask if there’s anything you didn’t find a way to say in the absence of speech. You say you said it all, sometimes horribly, sometimes beautifully. You flip to a fresh page and hunker down to fill it. I’m listening. I may stay out til morning


Hardest Fever

Photo by Alessandro Galantucci.

Photo by Alessandro Galantucci.

Before the oven reached 350 degrees

I stopped taking you for granted and exhaled

All my evil out the screen door that leads

To our terrace so I’d stop moving so much

In bed and disturbing you from sleep


I would have done it sooner

But I didn’t know I had you

Until the pancakes, flowery books, reheated

Leftovers, bus trips through small towns,

Coffee and crisp fruit, blanket senescence,

Swept crumbs, showers, ceaseless fascination with

The outcomes of our days, walks, hot dogs,

Exceptions, predictions, secret spice mixes,

Gin cocktails and laundrist ruminations,

Beet salads and the diminishing shame of

 Routine brie on brioche afternoons

Said hey, smarten up


Impression of Noel Fielding

Photo by Zach Zupancic.

Photo by Zach Zupancic.

I’ve just eaten a jalapeño pepper baked at 180 for 90 minutes, middle rack, center sheet, little sea salt, cooled, refrigerated and allowed to sit in its own juices for a couple of days, chopped up thin, mixed with some cream cheese and spread onto a brown pita. My mouth is a sauna. There are naked Russian men in there, stewing, smoking cigars. Their aim with the ashes isn’t all that great, but I can forgive them for that, because I know they’re unwinding after a long day. All old Vladimir’s had on his mind lately is alimony this, alimony that, but he’s been snoring like a wildebeest since he dipped his toes in. Aleksandr has been out of work for a while, the passport office didn’t renew his contract, and I hear he’s hitting the Russian Standard pretty hard; right now, though, his poker hand has his full attention. I can feel their tension dissipating into open air. That’s why I haven’t gone for the milk.


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