by That Nikki You Know

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I remember my first slam. It was in a basement art gallery with dirt floors and a smoking room in the back. Crammed into that tiny space, we yelled and cheered and screamed late into the night. Judges scored poems that brought us to incomparable places and it culminated in a reggae dance party. I attended several more before setting it aside in favour of my studies.

Years later, after my first band dissolved, I followed my heart to a writer’s open mic. I read my poetry and was encouraged to perform at the slam. My first slam piece was Under My Skin. It remains one of the most striking poems in my repertoire. I have since been on 3 teams to compete at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (2014, 2015, 2018) and performed my poetry countless times across the country. Memories is a compilation of poems I have performed at slams over the years as a way of encapsulating that time. It is by no means an exhaustive digest, but a curated set of poetry and sound.

In 2015, I performed as Femme Vanir at the Hillside Music Festival. It was my first time performing an entire set of my poetry alone. I performed a poem that I had set to a beat, Love Rain, using the free website,, where users can type anything into a text box that attaches a sound to each letter and loops that sound. I found this added not only a musical element, but another layer of meaning as well. All of the beats in this album were formed by typing thematically linked words into that box.

Poetry has taken me to many places and brought many people into my life that I am so very grateful for. Thank you to Guelph Spoken Word and the Guelph Poetry Slam - all of you lovely poets have shaped me and without you, none of this would have happened! TruthIs…, Beth Anne …, Fannon Holland, Saleem Ansari, Eitan Gallant, and KT Job: You have been my Guelph Poetry Slam teams and family. Throw Poetry Collective team 2018, Andrew Zadel, Alexander “Shakey Legs” Tcatchuk, Bicurious George and Cézure : Thank you for reminding me why I love poetry and supporting my continued presence in the community. Shout out to Sheri D Wilson : You have guided me more than you likely know.


released September 24, 2019

Memories was recorded, composed and performed by That Nikki You Know. All tracks mastered using

Promotional photos taken by Roya Esmaeili.


all rights reserved



That Nikki You Know Montreal, Québec

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Track Name: Instagram
We’ve got Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter Document your whole life! #nofilter
Put it on the web for everyone to follow
and even though your stream is full, your life is sad and hollow Like your mind, you never seem to find the time to swallow Words, facts, or figures, only pictures of the bottles
That you drink every day to keep a glaze on the parties lest you see what was next After bulbs flashed and you said “CHEESE!”
It’s a tease if you think this is real
Just a shadow of the past you constructed out of zeal
Showcasing all you wish you were, omitting all you would conceal And no one is the wiser if you lie or if you cheat
But wouldn’t you rather see the truth than live the ruse of the elite? Only fragments can be seen so you miss what lies beneath
And like your next door neighbour’s window
Or the speed at which the wind blows
Your senses will defy you
Knock you down and bold-faced lie to you
They’ll never let you know what waits beyond that window But you'll see, you’re next in line
For the glory of our times
Is in telling our life story like a solid work of fiction
And we’ll never say we’re sorry for it’s our very strange affliction
To fashion fake puppets out of friends and friendly neighbours
Giving titles to our albums like they’re sequels to The Avengers
And our adventures make us soar to far off lands and distant shores But nothing could compare to the pictures we need to share
With the world to validate
All our fun or love or hate
Needing text to keep us strong when our thoughts are all but wrong And we’ve lost the will to hear our own voice between our ears
Or listen to our fears
Or let our faces show our tears
Until those faces can face the years
As more than a montage of status updates to maintain the status quo Instead we should learn, reflect and really try to grow
For the flow of life is so much more than pictures
And that 60 second video made it 60 seconds quicker
Each new shot is just a Flickr that brings us closer to our maker
So when we’re old we can remember A life
We never had
Once removed from the truth
Buried deep
A passing fad
But reality is overrated, right? It’s all mind over matter
And history was always written by those who meant to flatter
The winners, the crusaders, the rich and those in power
Who take great pains to curate an image twice as great with every hour So when we look at their personal media
We think their lives look so much easier
But we don’t see what they won’t show us
And they’re never gonna know us
So how are we supposed to grow up
In a world with pictures blown up
Miles high into the sky
Like an omnipresent eye
Catching everything we do
Like it’s destined to be news
Until we find it’s all a sham
Like what we post
On Instagram
Track Name: Sea Lion Woman
I’m a sea lion woman who drinks coffee and tea A sea lion woman who is just like me
I’d rather be the singer than the muse
But that singer has awfully big shoes
And I know my feet are big but one foot’s a little smaller
And lord knows I’ve lived in squalor
So there’ll always be space within that leather case for feet
I’ve got a long way to go walking knee-deep in the snow
Before I can really say that I’m better off this way
I try to be a singer, giving my degree the finger
But my fears, they often linger
That I’ve made severe mistakes and I give myself the shakes thinking how much work it takes But the beating of my heart is like the beating of a drum as I flee from it all
Breaking straight into a run
And I feel as though I’m staring through the barrel of a gun And I run
And I run
And I run
And I run
But will I ever find all the dreams within my mind
That I hope will all come true even though I can’t fill shoes of a person out of time
Who feels rhythms in her rhyme
Like a pulse
Like a pulse
And I’m drowning in a sea full of mediocrity in art
And I’m feeling like a flea or a burning effigy at heart
For I can’t seem to find my way in this world
Just the way I unfurled from the dreams of a girl
That I twisted and twirled beyond all recognition
Like a ghostly apparition
And I’m swirling without hope like i’m hanging from a rope and my hands reach out and grope For fame
And success
But only grasp a mess
That shows I’m talentless
In a time of brilliant stars all playing seedy bars
Where no one is on top and the music never stops
And we work in retail shops building up our chops
For a chance we’ll never get just to play our brilliant set while we waste away in debt
But at least I wrote a song so I guess I’ll go along
Even though I might be wrong
But the playing of that song makes me feel like I belong
To a world of tea and coffee
With words as sweet as toffee
That drip like honey from my tongue
That drip like honey from my tongue
‘Cause I’m a sea lion woman who drinks coffee and tea I’m a sea lion woman you just wait and see
Track Name: Why Do I Do?
Why do I do all the things that I do when I do all the things that I do?
I do what I do when I want what I do when I know what it is that I want.
And if I could conclude that the things that I do are the things that I do want to do
Then I’d do all the things that I wanted to do because that’s just what I would conclude. But let me be clear on this point for I fear that my point may be awfully unclear.
There’s a fear that I hear bouncing round in my ear
It’s a fear that is coming from here
And this fear that was here that I hear in my ear isn’t fear that resolves in a year.
For the fear that was here has been taken to here and I’m shaken for fear that it’s stuck. So, I managed to pluck all my courage and tuck all my courage where it won’t get stuck And it’s been my good luck to know when I’m stuck so I know when to not give a fuck.
But then I do what I do when I don’t have a clue how to do what it is that I want
Which is to do just the thing that I don’t want to do, or at least, what I rather would not. Because if I knew how to do all the things that I’d do if only I just had a clue
Then I’d do all the things that I wanted to do because that’s what I wanted to do.
But how do you do all the things that you want when you want all the things you can do? How do you know what you want when you do when you don’t have a clue how to choose? I don’t want to choose.
I want to do what I do because I want what I do
So I guess I should do what I want.
But that fear that I hear bouncing round in my ear makes me do what I rather would not
So I guess what I want, what I really, really want is to not base my wants in my fears
To dismantle the fears that I’ve built up for years so I know how to know what I want
And when I know how to know what I want when I want and to do what I want when I do Then I’ll know what I want and I’ll know what to do and then maybe I’ll share it with you
Track Name: The Truth About Santa
When I found out the truth about Santa
I walked the ever so long walk down my driveway
For my ever so tiny legs
I felt the tears coming forward
Tingling behind my eyes
Tingling behind my nose
Tingling in that place that can go either to your eyes or your nose and usually, Annoyingly
It goes to both
Because our bodies are healing machines made to push out pain in all its forms This body
I used to know it well
And in that moment, I took my body, used my every so tiny legs, turned around And ran
Past the house
Past the backyard
Past the swingset and the compost Over rocks and snow
I ran
To the edge of a cliff and cried
I cried in all the ways I’d seen crying done before
I cried it out in the woods where no one could share my pain
And after it was done
After it was out
After I’d decided that suicide was not an option and I was too young to run free I knew, I had to go back
To the house
Through the backyard
Past the swingset and the compost
Over rocks and snow
Go back
From the edge of the cliff where I cried
The next day in class my teacher asked, “Why did you miss school?” I knew that was a question I didn’t want to answer
Consequence all too clear
I worried I would cry in front of others
I worried they would laugh at my stupidity
I worried that my answer would cause the same pain in me for those others who held the same belief in magic, mystery and whimsy beyond what this world ever showed
At a time and place
Where they couldn’t run
Past the house
Past the backyard
Past the swingset and the compost
Over rocks and snow
They couldn’t run
To the edge of a cliff
And cry
Track Name: Butterflies
You captured my eye like butterflies Dancing round deer flies
Over snow?
You confuse me.
Dipping paint into brushes, your heart rushes forth And back and forth and back and forth
You’re lively
Like gasoline to the eye lively
Like falling 8 million feet from the sky lively
Like sparkling lights writing letters to lovers in the wind You’re like the wind
And try as I might I can’t hold your moonbeams in my hands Wish I could hold you in my hands
You're a problem
I stopped trying to solve
A cube with colours I've never seen
But I've seen puzzles like you before
Puzzles that knocked me out by my knees before
Puzzles that leave me wanting more
And after the last piece is placed,
I look beyond the frame because I know that there's more
But I can't see it and I can't ignore
The connection between your shapes
Just dipped in different paints
I've seen puzzles like you before
But your colours are far more vivid
I'd swear that you're different
You didn't come from any box because nothing can hold you
At least, I can't hold you
Because you’re saintly
Halo wrapped around your crown
Just king me, bring me safe into your arms
In the towers made of endless dreaming stones
Till we sink, dropping deep beneath your shores
And wander like we’ve not been here before
Till we whisper lovers’ thoughts forever more
Then you’ll leave me lying cold and on the floor
Creating walls where none could yet escape
I’m your Rapunzel and by far my great mistake
Was in cutting my hair before you could think the climb it For I feared too much of the witch
Who would push me down below the thorns to blind me Blind me from the truth that you’re deathly
Like polonium in my tea cup deathly
Like a pole through my skull deathly
And I see you wanting more and I wonder
If I’ll still be wanting more
If I love you, will it be like ones before?
Too much?
Or just right?
Like butterflies, dancing round deer flies over snow.
Track Name: Lock and Key
If home is where you hang your hat
Then there must be a million people with veils draped on their crowns Thin wisps of memories
Of memories
Of memories
Just a memory
If home is where the heart is...
I came from a broken home No broken bones
But broken
Cracked apart like leather Too worn out
Too used up
Too much love given, and not enough accepted So my home is broken
Each piece has its own lock and key
That I give for free
One person at a time
Like Oprah on Christmas
You get a key! And You get a key! And You get a key!
Like sacred bread, there’s an endless supply
Love giving those keys
Strip tease but no sex
Because there’s always more locks to keep me safe
As far as I can tell there’s no master key
I’ve looked
And looked
And looked
But don’t touch because sometimes
Open arms feel more like sinkholes
Tight hugs, more like traps
And sometimes I’d rather be in the traps I know than the ones I don’t So I lock up before I leave the house
Safe and hidden within these walls
With so many doors, I forget where I live
Home feels spread thin
Thin wisps of memories
Of memories
Of memories
Just a memory
Of where I’ve hung my hats
There were times I thought I’d found it
That fabled master key
Because they opened more than one
But never all

That’s too much power for one key to hold Power I’m not willing to give to any one person So I’ve made homes in hearts of strangers One small piece with one small key
Air bnb
For one night only
It’s a great place to visit
Never a place to stay
And I never liked to wear hats anyway
And I wonder about this master key
This holy grail of trust
Does it exist?
And if it does
Will I die with it covered in rust?
Track Name: Divided
La radio puisse mon attention
But I break back into my mother tongue
That negative tongue that always sticks out just a little too far
Just enough to always be pulled back lest it get perpetually in the way Like a child pulled back from busy streets
Mais la radio puisse mon attention encore
I live in a city who knows many languages but says few A city who gives us her cold shoulder for so long
But, for those fleeting moments of heat
We endure it
I live in a city, broken by/i-polarity, pushed into a frenzy Paper bag and bend me
Like you wouldn’t friend me
Let me think that you’re never coming back
She’s a lover of the most dangerous sort
I live in a city who only loves me back when it’s convenient Yet I live in a city of dreams
My dreams have once again become The fox to my hound
The drug to my problem
The lint to my sheets
Stuck together, for better or worse
My dreams have inspired me more than waking ever could
My dreams mask the ribbons in the night
And take flight though I’ve forgotten how to drive or astral travel
I unravel deep in city streets
Where the taste of beer is always close at hand
As I wrap myself in man
I forgot to take control
And my dreams are struggling to take control
I want them to
Because dreams are limitless and waking is full of borders
The paint by number version of the masterpiece
I want the new canvas and the blank tapes
I want to mail my art to every friend I ever had just to see what they send back
I want to paint a new life into my skin
And sing the anthem of my generation
I want to do away with reason and live by heart
Mais la radio puisse mon attention et j'écoute des chansons anglaises translated to french
It’s like drinking soy milk when you really want cream
It’s just not quite the same
There’s something lost in translation
With a cotton candy wig in a karaoke bar
Melodies sung in accents only some can hear
It makes me miss New York
With its underground jazz bars and rooftop cuddle parties
Where for me, language was never an issue
where I was surrounded by artists from Montreal
But where are those artists now?
When we’re colocs in the same city?
We live in a city too small to have our space, too big to have community and forever divided by language
When I was growing up, I was bullied for being too french
Here, I am too english
Despite the beauty of languages
I’m climbing the tower of Babel
And sometimes those who understand choose not to
And though I do live in a city of dreams that I love,
She doesn’t always love me back and my heart is forever
Track Name: Under My Skin
Beauty department to heal your soul
Deep cleanses, microdermabrasions, anti-oxidant facial scrubs with extracts of
Tea tree oil, witch hazel, citrus, chamomile, aloe
And it just gets under my skin
Seal in moisture and dissipate redness
Calm your inflamed nerves
Minimize your pores as you would minimize your fears
And it just gets under my skin
Hide yourself, hide your pain, hide your history under your skin
We see flawless, computer-generated sirens who depict a world of “model citizens”
Where hair is always shiny but never greasy
Where sweat only exist as uniform misting to play against the light
Where thighs extend into eternity yet never touch
And they remind me
Don’t put your hands on your face
Don’t put your hands on your face
But if I don’t put my hands on my face then everyone will see it
And everyone will know
I’m no model
I see my flaws as clearly as Polaris on a dark, country night
I long for skin smooth as cream, hair that billows like smoke and eyes that shine like the moon And every night, after I try to scrub away the disappointment in the mirror
And dab at every last insult with the latest miracle cure
I crawl into bed, pull the blankets up over my head like a cocoon and pray that in the morning I’ll peel away the covers and emerge
This never happens
When I wake up I still see red
When I wake up I still see spots
But if beauty is only skin deep then I shouldn’t have to dig too far to reach it And if I tear it all away, pick out every blemish and imperfection
Squeeze out every impure substance and strip it down until I bleed
That blood
Must be the beauty I hear so much about
And it’s in me
It runs warm and smooth, through all my organs and beats within my heart It fills me up and without it I can’t live
And every time I scratch at my flesh
And see that familiar, scarlet stain
I imagine that the blood would pour from my wounds
And flow over my features
Until I am encased in its beauty
I’d let it drain from my veins and my heart would stop pumping but it would seem worth it Because my lifeless body would finally display all that beauty that was inside me
All that beauty I couldn’t see but tried to touch
All that beauty that I so desperately want to be there
Under my skin
Track Name: Love Rain
When I was a little girl I had this cd
of Jill Scott
Love Rain Down on Me, on me Down on Me
Jill Scott
and she was not
like anything I'd ever heard
not like Spice Girls
but she had spice, girl
she was blue
bluer than nypd
smoother than summer breeze cooler than ice cream
I wanted to be
Love Rain Down
I always loved the rain.
It was dark, not like night time dark but like concrete dark
like earthy ground
like smokey bars
smokin smooth cigars
feeling mystery in every cell
Everything looked better in the rain magical
high contrast
dramatic pigments
and moss that looked
so green (sung)
against the dark tree bark it was so green (sung)
and when I fell in love, I was
so green (sung)
Love Rain Down
I always loved the rain.
I wanted to be like the rain falling down
down and I loved to fall
I found every reason I could to fall
like an addiction
Love Rain Down
I was caught caught in love affair after love affair after love affair
Love Rain Down
like an addiction
didn't need help
didn't want help because down was fun down was hot

down was easy down was dirty and I felt too clean
Love Rain Down
Down down I was too down I forgot who I was
I forgot what I loved
I forgot
Jill Scott
I got caught
cycles of victim
cycles of poor me
cycles of excuses
no excuses anymore
I still want to be
like Jill Scott
like sounds and words music and poetry
music and poetry
like music and poetry (sung) together (repeat) (sung)

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