Hayley Bernier (she/her) is a queer Canadian writer, who at the moment is favouring and focusing on poetry, especially in relation to her family history. She completed her MSc in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh in 2020, the same year she received a special mention of the Grierson Verse Prize. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in From Arthur’s Seat: Volume 5, Spoken Word Scratch Night, The Pittsburgher, and more. You can read her sporadic posts and see some cool photos she’s taken if you follow her on Instagram.

Follow Hayley on Instagram @burnyayhayley

Read more of Hayley Bernier’s work

wanting what you can’t have (Kissing Dynamite Poetry)

Family Snapshot, 1998, Lost in Storage (The Pittsburgher)

Two Accounts of Witnessed Animal Murder (Spoken Word Scratch Night Zine Vol.2)

Midnight on a Tuesday (The Pittsburgher)

Within the first two months of the MSc, my uncle died. He and the rest of my family were in Quebec, Canada, where I am from, so it was a very particular kind of grief, to be away from everyone. This is one of the many pieces written in his honour, written in the pantoum form.

The Old Hipster of St-Henri

He was finally going home

Just like he always planned

Friends in vinyl, record player in chrome—

He held a problem in his hand

 

Just like he always planned

To return to rural oasis

He held a problem in his hand

Pension declined: a technicality crisis

 

To return to rural oasis

Laden with vincible lungs and dark liver

Pension declined: a technicality crisis

Rent overdue, bills to pay, he could only quiver

 

Laden with vincible lungs and dark liver

Back to the hospital bed he must go

Rent overdue, bills to pay, he could only quiver

In the very groans of him he saw life unfold— I know

 

Back to the hospital bed he must go

Ample hands rush to hold his

In the very groans of him he saw life unfold— I know

He begged for life in all cases

 

Ample hands rush to hold his

Take his pulse, temperature, blood

He begged for life in all cases

Reluctant to admit the heart’s plagued thud

 

Take his pulse, temperature, blood

His apartment sits patient and hollow

Reluctant to admit the heart’s plagued thud

Black dresses and shoes soon to follow

 

His apartment sits patient and hollow

We packed it— felt the emptiness resound

Black dresses and shoes soon to follow

Ash, in a box, in the ground.

 

We packed it— felt the emptiness resound

Friends in vinyl, record player in chrome—

Ash, in a box, in the ground,

He was finally going home.

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