stay at home order by Jody Chan

Jody Chan – “stay at home order” – Upcoming in Issue 9 of Canthius (Sept 2021) more caution was called for. on TV the premier spoke the same paradoxes as before but louder. less gathering, more masks. or rather, more asking the obvious questions. on whatever grounds one must identify oneself to officers. soy candles now curbside only, frankincense and vetiver, the red insides of plastic bags. if I contract COVID I might need a bed with a ventilator, of which there is already a lack. this is how I convince me to care about my safety. when I talk to you I watch myself on screen. I’m writing to look for signs of life inside me. a quick blue static, a red tulip rooting. late December I remember we drove down to the water. we read poems to it. the day so cloudless we could barely look at each other. you counted the ducks, I counted the cops gathered unmasked, doing what cops do. we watched them watching us. a dabble of geese, a gaggle of blue uniforms. we did not hold hands. I’m addicted to longing in a real way. I want to make friends with it. the less you text, the more I do. once, you told me no two people perceive colours the same. what you call blue I might call blood, and vice versa. while watching white supremacists stage a coup I think about kissing you. I lay lips on the electrical pole buzzing to feel truly alive. I fuck with my chest open. I haven’t been touched in five months. the cops shoot some selfies. I die a little of it though I know I’m not supposed to. I scan and fill out another consent form. I focus on keeping the houseplants warm. when I call you on the screen I try to make eye contact. it feels like waking up in someone else’s body. loneliness, I think or a bouquet of splinters to the gut. a sudden nausea. a great blue distance. I’m addicted to colour, the aloneness it describes. think crimson bulb, my neck, the tulip fading in the attic. I think how dare I go making images out of death but then look down to face my bottles stacked around me. my obsessions never thank me— not red, not blue, not English, not you. I’m trying to have better things to do. I write uncapitalized sentences. I obsess over emails, think this is where the revolution will take root, in an empty inbox, in a hospital bed I did not use. I ask the blue buzz in my head is it possible to die from loneliness. Google says as lethal as 15 cigarettes a day, or having to work for rent. I give myself a little death to bring sleep on. I can kill me quicker than any lover ever has. my copper wrists attest. I want to write a poem in which red does not appear but my memory is not that place. I train my hands to paint capitalism in an unflattering light. that’s all I meant to do. everyone is obsessed with blue these days. call it caution. call it a boundary. you distract me. I die of you. I can love the distance between us. I can. Bio: Jody Chan (they/them) is a writer, drummer, organizer, and therapist based in Toronto/Tkaronto. They are the author of haunt (Damaged Goods Press), all our futures (PANK), and sick, winner of the 2018 St. Lawrence Book Award, and can be found online at


Canthius celebrates poetry and prose by women, trans men, non-binary, Two-Spirit, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming writers, and these poems were chosen to reflect that diversity. The poems also speak to the currency of the world and human occupation of these current times. Jacqueline Valencia’s “Micro macro” from Issue 2 (Spring/Summer 2016) and Faith Arkorful’s “Migrant worker as Temporary Illusionist” from Issue 5 (2018) reflects the relationship between the minutiae of micro and the overarching influence of the macro. Similarly, the three upcoming poems in Issue 9 (September 2021)—Jody Chan’s “stay at home order,” Bahar Orang’s “What can be disentangled from language,” and John Elizabeth Stintzi’s “Where The Hours Go”—point to how our relationality, or the way we relate to each other, has its basis in being human, being alive.

–Sanchari Sur, Former Managing Editor, Canthius


Cover image of Canthius, Issue 09. Image is colourful and depicts and the lower half of several bodies, from belly button to feet, displayed symetrically and artfully, reminiscent of flowers.

Canthius Issue 09 includes new writing from Callum Angus, Tara Borin, Sophie Crocker, Jody Chan, Sofia Ezdina, Jennifer Alicia Murrin, Alton Melvar M. Dapanas, Bahar Orang, Roshni Riar, John Elizabeth Stinzi, Hannah Senicar, Kate Sutherland, Erin Wilson. This issue’s featured visual artist is Caitlin McDonagh.