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antilang. no. 6, winter 2020

Abrupt Environments guest editor jesse holth


The ALP

Mandate Good. Short. Writing. The Anti-Languorous Project is an online open-access creative writing hub that publishes antilang., a magazine of literary brevity, and soundbite, an audio collection of byte-sized readings. Show, don’t tell; imply and implicate. Antithesize languorous language. antilang. no. 6 Published by The Anti-Languorous Project Calgary, AB, Treaty 7 Territory, Winter 2020 Edited by Allie McFarland & Jordan Bolay with Guest Editor Jesse Holth Layout, design, and typesetting by Jordan Bolay Cover photo by Victoria Braun Logos and art direction by Lissa McFarland ISSN 2561-5610, key title: antilang. (online) All rights revert to the authors and artists upon publication. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without permission from the artists. The ALP is a federally registered non-profit organisation. We invite you to follow us on social media and to consider supporting us on Patreon or by donation.

@antilangmag / antilang.ca


Antilang. no. 6

Contents David Groulx 1 Fungus Cream Rozina Jessa 2 Intergenerational Trauma 3 before the world ended Claire Gittins 4 a universe... James Collier 6 mntn pine beetle epilogue Laura Manuel 7 Moving Karin Christian Woodard 15 Cold Snap 17 Goat Hunting, October Conyer Clayton 18 Wilt 19 Footprints AM Kennard 20 Third of January, Twenty Twenty Cairistiona Clark 22 Trawler Set

Winter 2020


Sacha Archer 24 Cancelled Rob Cook 27 PENGUINS WATCH OVER THE WARMING WORLD

Bob Hoeppner 28 Things That Sound True 30 CCD Evgenia Jen Baranova 31 Cemetery A.K. Shakour 32 a run down mt. pleasant road W.M. Faulkner 33 The New Woods Cheryl Ferguson Bernini 34 Adrift christian favreau 37 following Holly Smith 39 Drawbridge on W 3rd St Pavle Radonic 42 Serious Child’s Play 43 The Sandpit Melissa Spohr Weiss 45 Pierogies Kira Schukar 47 Raspberries Collin Van Son 49 Fallout 51 Graffiti Above the Urinal in the DMV Bathroom

Sara Wilson 52 Flood 53 Masons

antilang. no. 6


Kevin Henderson 54 Cider Trucks 55 Colony Collapse K.S.Y. Varnam 56 Culling Erin Emily Ann Vance 57 Anticipation 58 Woodcutter 59 Lighthouse Keepers are an Endangered Species

Winter 2020


David Groulx

Fungus Cream There’s a commercial for a nail fungus cream on TV, they fished out the last striped bass out of the great lakes and now this guy’s talking to me about a goddamn fungus cream, the moose are dying from not enough snow and this guy is gonna tell me, Fuck! I wanna drink a beer and not forget my dead friends and spill a bit on the ground for the moose and the bass and because I was near something sacred

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Rozina Jessa

Intergenerational Trauma i crumble the same way the temples in Gujarat do yet i have never travelled to India.

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before the world ended grandma used to chain smoke outside the wrapping paper was infinite the toys and dĂŠcor were plastic and it snowed for the last time.

Rozina Jessa

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Claire Gittins

a universe... This cut up poem deals with various elements of the physical and natural environment of earth as well as how it is experienced by humans. The poem's composition as a visual piece considers the environment as well. All elements of the piece are comprised of materials from discarded and damaged books that have been recycled into poetry. Even the practice of cut up poetry considers the unique environment of the poet and their surroundings.

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Claire Gittins

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James Collier

mntn pine beetle epilogue this land was held red nd in the red land if anything breathes it ll go up redder still was thought it would end in things so green all would choke didn t know that green could choke too

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Laura Manuel

Moving Karin Defeated petunias droop to cracked concrete from a plastic pot. Their spindly arms hang and reach, hoping for a second chance. A story of frustration is etched on my sister’s door— deep scratches from a wheelchair forced through an uncooperative frame. I inhale bright rays before I enter a stale, nicotine-infused, television buzz. Karin is not dressed. She hunches over an iPad and taps bright colours on the screen. Her short hair sticks up in several directions like a satellite searching for a signal. The condo feels overly warm but Karin wears fleece pajama pants. A faded, green, Beaver Canoe t-shirt sits askew at her neckline to expose a bare shoulder. The Puritan in me rises up, red, shrill and old-fashioned. “Get dressed and wash up,” I think. “It’s nearly noon!” I swallow the scolding. I’ve become adept at burying judgements and covering them with good intentions. I do, however, ask why she hasn’t put in her teeth.

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“Don’t want to,” she says with a gummy smile. She knows it bothers me. Did she avoid getting dressed on purpose too? “I guess eating will be difficult,” I respond sharply. Already, that familiar tug to get her to eat something wholesome. Karin’s diet is of the processed variety, washed down thick coffee and generous liters of Coca Cola. Over the years, her habits have taken their toll. Pushing her oversized wheelchair is now a workout. And when required to balance from wheelchair to toilet to bed and back, it’s with heavy effort. An expansive and fleshy right arm—her left side paralyzed from the stroke—swings to reach for a mug of cold coffee. “I asked mom to bring me coffee,” she growls, “You know what she brought? A can from her fucking pantry. Don’t know how old that crap was. Drank it anyway. Shit all over the place for three days.” I don’t hide my grimace. I’m accustomed to hearing her talk this way. Profanity hangs from her like ornaments. Her words often startle and shock as she thuds through a sentence. They are micro-attacks on a world that only seems to offer steady misfortune and tragedy. “Hey, make me another, would ya?” Karin huffs as she pushes the cold mug away. I start to prepare a pot and scoop from the tin on the counter. “Not that coffee! That’s the shit mom brought!” she yells. “Didn’t want to throw it out, eh?” I ask, irritated. And I toss the whole can into the garbage bag lying on the floor.

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Laura Manuel


“Pft,” she says in response and turns away from me. She’s back to her iPad to stab at a screen that won’t ask questions. I’m here to make sense out of apparent randomness. The task is to fill boxes and garbage bags, sort and organize. Nothing will leave the house without Karin’s review. She thinks I throw away her things. (Sometimes I do.) I’m guilty of judging the assembly of items that surround Karin like a fortress: an infant’s sleeper, broken clock, acrylic paints, a single gardening glove, Christmas wine glasses, a stranded Air Supply CD, purple witch’s hat, mosquito netting, the Book of Mormon, a fold-out greeting card of St. Peter’s Cathedral. The obscure objects go on and on. I used to believe Karin held on to things because they were more solid than memory, that the objects somehow embodied a previous version of herself. Perhaps belongings are the reification of possibility. People hang on to things for other reasons too. For Karin, material objects provide presence and relevance. Her wheelchair-confined days weave in and out of lonely nights. Time stretches and morphs. Minutes are scarred with loss, monotony and longing. Hours are a complicated knot of grief and hope. As long as she has things, she exists. To separate Karin from her objects is like pulling down walls. Garbage bags are a cruel insistence for Karin to define herself. I often wonder if it’s kinder to let her remain behind her scaffolding. “Where’s that blue vase?” she asks. I look at her quizzically.

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“Damn it. You know. The one that matches the pitcher.” I try to remember but I can’t picture it. I go hunt for Karin’s identity in the basement. I feel a familiar, irreversible guilt: I can’t find it. “Gave it away, probably,” she alleges. I’m reminded how much of her has been handled by me. She knows it too, even if she can’t articulate it. This is the sixth time I have moved my sister. The first time I naively thought I could show up in sneakers and jeans on a Saturday to load boxes into a truck. It was supposed to include sitcom-inspired pivoting couches in a stairwell, friendly jokes with pizza and beer. But people with brain injuries don’t live in sitcoms. When I arrived at Karin’s house on moving day there were no boxes to be seen. I offered to pack up the kitchen. How could I have known then how familiar I would become with her chipped, cherry prints? How I’d learn unpaid bills live beneath coffee rings. That weed is in the cookie jar and Jagermeister lives next to the tomato sauce. We packed it all that day. Every—last—item. Because there was no time for sorting, no time to ask essential questions. I try to clear the table for lunch but clutter occupies every surface. A solemn jar of basil stands next to a bottle of bath oil. Stray hairs are glued to its plastic rim. A bag of cornmeal rests astride the local, rural newspaper. The half-open bag has collapsed in on itself and pale yellow grit is strewn across the municipal Reeve shaking hands with 4H youth. A mysterious black bolt has rolled into a stack of unopened

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Laura Manuel


envelopes that threaten to topple into the open toaster oven. Karin wants to order Chinese but I need to use up groceries that nest like swallows in an unattended barn. Karin’s kitchen explodes with food. But I must be cautious—not everything is how it appears. Bread looks okay. We can make sandwiches. I double-check the date, examine it for mould. It passes. I open the fridge. Ugh. What can I pull out today? “That ham is fine,” she calls from the living room as I give it a sniff. “You bought it ten days ago,” I say warily, rechecking the date. “I’ll eat it,” she says. And she will, if only to spite me. She wants to prove herself. She wants to demonstrate that she doesn’t need to move into an assisted living facility. I start to toss items from the fridge: milk from last month, soft strawberries coated in fuzz, a sour cream container with green crawling from under the rim. Over the years, I’ve become sickeningly familiar with blooms of white, green or grey, the microbial filaments that devour ignored sugars. Even pickled carrots, left long enough, transform into a miniature agricultural landscape. I pull out several dishes of spaghetti and meat sauce, carefully covered in foil. “I made those,” Karin says proudly, “So I could have meals to warm up.” I lift a corner and recognize the white fuzz on top of the meat

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sauce. Good intentions short on follow-through. Simple cheese sandwiches and soup for lunch. An easy meal for me to make but Karin watches me slice cheese with a forlorn gaze. When Karin had the stroke, we were told to expect different forms of grief. I’ve learned grief isn’t linear and it never ends, it simply changes form. In this way, Karin says goodbye to her former life again and again and again. Her will to live is a fight for continuous farewells. She fights for more days backward. “Hey, you want that organic ketchup?” she asks, gesturing to the bottle out of place on the bookshelf. “Not really,” I respond, “Why? Don’t you want it?” “Bought it accidentally,” says Karin, “I don’t eat that crap.” “You mean organic?” “Yeah, I need all the fucking preservatives,” she says, “How else will I live longer?” We chuckle that awkward laughter that trails into truth. After lunch I start to pack her books. She monitors my progress. I hold North America’s authoritative manual on pregnancy, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. “Hey, I want to keep that one,” she says gruffly. “Think you’ll need to reference it soon?” I attempt a joke. “I just want to keep it, ok?” she says.

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Laura Manuel


I place it in the ‘keep’ box. I stack it next to the governmentissued driver’s manual. Karin talks about getting her license again and the truck a neighbour is selling. “Your driver’s license will never happen,” I want to tell her realistically. But I retain a kind silence. Hope often appears unreasonable or irrational. I was told to daydream with my children no matter how ridiculous. A wild imagination is hope in disguise. For Karin, hope is housed in objects. But she cannot save everything. A cigarette hangs from Karin’s dry lips. The spongy filter is lightly squeezed in her toothless mouth. She looks like a Halloween pumpkin forgotten on the porch. “Where’s that green BBQ lighter,” Karin asks. I do a cursory glance at surfaces still bursting with clutter. During lunch I’d placed her smoking items together in a tin near the window. A red lighter rests inside. “That lighter doesn’t work,” she says bluntly. “Then we’ll throw it out,” I say. It wasn’t a question anymore. “No! Keep it,” she shouts as I lift the edge of the garbage bag. “Sometimes they just start working again. It might start working again.” The word ‘might’ hung almost tangibly in the air. It filled the same space as ‘if’ and ‘maybe’ and ‘when’.

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Karin spies the green BBQ lighter between a stack of appliance manuals. She clicks it into the air before her and leans forward. There is a hint of a smile through the first wafts of smoke. My eyes water as I return the faulty lighter to the tin. I’m still unsure exactly what I’ve saved.

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Laura Manuel


Christian Woodard

Cold Snap The geese hinge across thinning dark I wake through their door saying south They say the dirt you ate as a child I say who they say loosestrife girl from a bed of oilslicked reeds home opens and closes on their wings I demand my lost pieces return as snow geese

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that I might bury myself in pure white feathers but morning drifts in from the horizon large too large lighting down among the decoys as swans

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Cold Snap


Goat Hunting, October Wearing white we are harmless a scrap of snow another soul child’s dandelion seed blown past our shadows she sees them stretch down the yearning slate as puppets of our fathers kneedeep recalling an old word for violence something like the wandering goat the bear batting salmon from the stream the storm tearing the land’s clothes or waking up after doubt gnawed down to the stubs of our teeth whisper to the beast with the barrel of your finger if her side blooms the wound speaks a quiet elderberry for the strange scented wind, the rocks that stood & walked after themselves inviolable on the slate

Christian Woodard

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Conyer Clayton

Wilt He picked chamomile flowers on his walk home from work, reaching through a chain-link fence into an abandoned property. Set them on a plate to dry, petals down and stems snipped on the windowsill for weeks. They float limp in my mug, stain hot water brown.

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Footprints A lifespan seen clearly can crush a ribcage, bones splintered— birch bare shell. Stretched and heavy regardless of time. A hole is a hole despite what fills it.

Conyer Clayton

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AM Kennard

Third of January, Twenty Twenty I smoke my cigarette down to the bone, as though A thing cannot be finished until it’s dead. The smoke thrashes out in panic As ember crushes against black plastic. The snow is almost melted from the trees A few days after the new year, The drifts gently hardening a skein of ice. To my left through the trees The horses place hoof before hoof. White with brown spots appearing & again Between tall thin trunks that guard them From me & the dogs that run through their willow-like legs.

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Last night, a US drone killed An Iranian general, claimed responsibility like The IRA announcements of my childhood. Just Another forgotten outrage in a few years. But this morning the world waits On yet another precipice. I think of the house I bought but no longer live in, The life I realized too late wasn’t right; The cats I will rarely if ever see again & the weighty tears that hang in the doors. The horses are mostly silent, keep to themselves; Only the sound of ice & snow compressing in their steps. Their stable needs cleaning, but well-fed They wait out the winter, ready to be ridden again.

Third of January, Twenty Twenty

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Cairistiona Clark

Trawler Set My wetgear’s damp—it never dries. I slide my legs inside and my feet into steel-toes. Through the fire door and into Mr. Clean dead fish dish soap stomach goo salt steel refrigerant lab The watch leader’s here. Big bag, she says and lifts the hatch. redfish redfish redfish redfish silver hake redfish pollock redfish jumble onto the belt, build over the lip and onto the floor. Stop! Hoe the tumble one-fish-thin, sort off the largest ones and tweeze

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shrimp polychaete squat lobster brittle star comb jelly myctophid Restart. More hands help us sort, pour red-spined bodies into baskets. Weigh them, keep them, dump them. I log in and type: species 30, weight 29.4 30.8 27.3 29.6 26.2 At the belt again, pick and turn operculum, gills, eye sockets, lateral line, finlets, skin Species known by feel. A basket of silver hake at our steel station. Remind me, the cutter says. length sex weight maturity otolith stomach Scrape and bang. The net again.

Trawler Set

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Sacha Archer

Cancelled These pieces are from a series titled Werk from Work, a one year project in which I composed concrete poems from found materials while on the job during my stint as a Copy and Print Associate at STAPLES.

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CANCELLED

Sacha Archer

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Sacha Archer


Rob Cook

PENGUINS WATCH OVER THE WARMING WORLD A machine skinned by a leopard seal continues in raw silence with its bloody mouthfuls of krill. It falls and gets up, falls and gets up until the air hurts too much to move with even the smallest whimper, or endure the smallest talon of wind. The nestlings wait, unfed, where the echoes of mountains collapse. They do not know how to say that the cold, like a god, is leaving them. Tonight the penguins follow the compass static to the end of the tracks they left, the machines blinking like bodies, the penguins already warming into mud. They huddle and listen for the nematodes leaving in their unseen ships. The endless lines of machines that will not mate stand swaddled in the thinning brown snow.

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Bob Hoeppner

Things That Sound True The earth licks the salt on the rims of its beaches. The earth bows its glaciers in an arc over the found penny of a pod of whales. The earth toddles around the sun, trips, bashes its mouth on a coffee table on which lie three different books, blood everywhere. The earth cries for help from the dwindling trumpets of elephants. The earth cries whitely from the udders of cows fed God knows what. The earth eats children, egests adults all over. The earth paddles out to camps of bonobos grooming each other, then surfs on screams in the marketplace.

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The earth is chapped from washing its face with money. The earth combed its trees with above-ground nuclear testing. The earth explodes beneath us. The earth kicks a can down the road and over a cliff that overlooks a cannery. The earth weeps crimes from its islands onto indifferent shoulders of continents. The earth wears a hoodie of satellites and gets shot for no reason by meteors everyday. The earth is afraid on both sides of the riot police’s shield. The earth asks our names and we answer with stones.

Things That Sound True

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CCD There was an argument between air and flowers as to which held up the other. Meanwhile the bees which mediated between air and flowers were dying. Air and flowers were so busy arguing they didn’t notice until flowers said “there are fewer of us” and air did not recognize its own body. By that time bees were buzzing that they held up both flowers and air.

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Bob Hoeppner


Evgenia Jen Baranova

Cemetery translated by Sergey Gerasimov from Russian The dead grow until they reach the stars. Lungwort, sweet clover, ditches and ditches. Here rests Sergei Ivanovich, he is simple, he always wanted to be a grain. It's hard to live in a hut of grass. Thoughts struggle to break free, and the dead grow. Here is Francis Philippovich Labbe, he was buried here one day. Layer after layer, unknown, unaccounted for. A hard-toiling ant rolls a tiny pebble. The dead grow while we are here. Don't step on the grass without knocking.

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A.K. Shakour

a run down mt. pleasant road as i run down mt. pleasant road a crushed cardinal lays all flattened feathers & popped pomegranate organs, limp like wet newspapers in the middle of the dirt road. dust covers it as i run past. poking out behind furry stems, the raspberries grin. i run closer to the trio of trashed TVs dumped among the lush green leaves. their thick ends point to the sky. now, in the sky this morning as a herd of geese migrate, clouds float, squawk above my head. i sip black coffee & i think about that fallen cardinal. cardinals mate for life. but i am not a cardinal.

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W.M. Faulkner

The New Woods I am being timid with my words Timid in the woods I don’t know their names But the trees, the trees They know mine

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Cheryl Ferguson Bernini

Adrift It is in the hands of nature and fate that I arrive. The sun is full and brilliant. Its heat passes into the depths of the water and warms me. I’ve returned to a familiar place that transforms with every season. I cannot be certain what exactly is being altered; but I know it, I can feel it. I’ve lost a scale or two on more than one occasion. The river’s mouth opens before us, but our arrival is untimely and we must wait until the tide turns to assist us once again. Water carries not only vitality but destruction. Objects. These relentless things. Although I am only a small fish, I understand. There is something not quite right. An avalanche of discarded bottles and wrap and plastic waste gradually descends. This false earth is overtaking the river. Stress. Distress. I spin, only to find myself one against thousands. Pushing, thrusting, fins and tails pummel my body. I force myself ever forward, towards the sea. The swells part before me, and I venture into deeper waters.

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I am lost. Alone. I begin my reluctant odyssey. A sound travels, washes over me. Without warning, ensnared and unable to swim, I rise. My body flips and jerks; I gasp for breath. Grabbing my tail and lifting me from his net, I am now eye to eye with the fisherman. He exclaims that I am just too little. I am tossed back to the depths. With luck on my side, I press on. Strange sensations fill me. I attempt to plow through the water and debris, but my body is a burden. My fins are consumed and calcified. Birds hover above, scrutinizing the tide for their next morsel. I fear being discovered. It is quite uncustomary when the feathered predator chooses not to attack; the blunted determination is a peculiarity in the day’s hunt. An oily bacterial sludge covers the sea like a second skin. Something pecks the water and returns to flight. Ahead of me, a flotilla of sea turtles performs their ethereal dance among the plankton. Observing. Examining. I ponder the strange forms before me. A plastic cape rides the back of one, while another wears a shiny, transparent collar of rings. Another is nearly cinched in two. The waters now fade from a heavenly turquoise to blueblack. The once polychromatic reef, teeming with life, has now diminished to an alabaster white. Desolate. Above me is a canopy, but not of seaweed and kelp. In their place are plastic bottles, floating and undulating at the surface, obscuring the sun. The water is feverish. I surrender. It is both a beginning and an end. Succumbing, I am finally altered. I lose my memories. I eternally wander to nowhere.

Adrift

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On this day, I find myself ensnared in an underwater trap. The faint recollection of a previous encounter escapes me. The fisherman yanks and tugs. I observe him, his face, his mannerisms, as he pulls me, jerking and heaving, from the web of nylon line. I finally begin to understand. He is becoming just like me.

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Cheryl Ferguson Bernini


christian favreau

following it begins with birds, always birds, many birds, just enough wings outstretched over poplars the interlocking feather feather feather feather feather just. enough. above. the beak, between the eyes, an answer in the form of a fragment and a fragment in the form of grief and silence. it hurts to wonder if given the space to forget we learn anything; another rhyming stanza all hurt, and gain. and again.

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no more am i the one who wrote kireji for the birds always birds, many birds have come and gone as if an endless winter as if a south were someplace beyond smoke

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christian favreau


Holly Smith

Drawbridge on W 3rd St December Sunday, warm as the first late March day with its whisper of wind. come outside Wandering through a cozy bungalow neighborhood then an abrupt left hook, smack into a ribbon of blacktop tumbling downhill into instant industrial skyline— warehouses and the colorlessness of drab parking lots and dead shrub. The erector-set lace of girders and bridges, a silo domed round like an observatory, and highway, highway, highway elevated above a river snaking beneath, glittering fiercely in the winter sun suddenly remembering its heat.

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A modest line of five cars stopped at the candy-striped barricade at the mouth of the raised drawbridge. Driver's side doors stand open, folks out on the road as the slow-motion scene spooled before them. A small black freighter with a collar of white wrapped under its deck like a poured stout with crisp head. The boat a moving graphic slid off an art deco shipping poster to lurch before us on this miracle Sunday. Seagulls swirled above like schools of fish swimming in the sky. Or the drifts in a shaken snow-globe. The confetti of white bird bodies falling in such slow downward curves. The wind fed the birds drafts on which to wheel. Our cynicism hushes the talk of mystery, but there it was, framed by the steel of a drawbridge painted garbage-bin-green in Cleveland, OH. The bulk of my intangible self rushed out to go swimming with the birds and wind in the wind and feel the lazy pull of the boat down the Cuyahoga.

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Holly Smith


But then the reality. We were waiting at a traffic light. Exit mystery. The drivers slam themselves back into cars.

Drawbridge on W 3rd St

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Pavle Radonic

Serious Child’s Play Today the life section (the exclamation mark dropped in recent months) carries a feature on the importance of child’s play. (“Taking play seriously” on the cover and ROOM FOR PLAY for the piece.) One stay-at-home mum on the floor with her two youngsters “believes in encouraging independence;” as might be guessed from the colourful sheets of insects distributed on the laminate. An expat has bought a bespoke step climber for her little boy and also a custom-made Pikler Triangle. Third “letting loose daughter’s creativity” has constructed a dedicated play area on the tiles behind the living-room sofa. The state of play among enlightened Singaporean parents. Our Jono on the other hand, concerned about shuttered environments for his only child, has ventured further, renting his Tampines flat and taking a lease on a bungalow out at Changi replete with grass, vegetable garden, trees and a short walk to the water. Last report: visiting toucans delight his little girl.

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The Sandpit Young Indian dad at Diggersite corner pink UNREAL tee on his phone while his child played in the pale sand. Opposite, a Chinese husband and wife in front of their own children, quietly sitting, patiently. Our chap casting a furtive look at his counterpart on the other side as if at a worrisome reflection. In the passage by the escalators at Level 3 another dad mounted on a bent blue polar bear, or maybe it was an elephant? He was behind, little girl in front and a happy, happy tune playing on their ride. Between the ears of this beast flashing red and green a console, steering wheel somehow hidden. In the narrow space the pair could not be rounded and needed to be followed slowly in procession. Unaccompanied older kids given the entire back half of the third floor for their circuit in the yellow trucks—out round the elevators, up and down the passage either side, and swing back behind. No stage event on Ground today, no concert or talent quest. Occasionally closely supervised rock climbing walls were erected there; once or twice monthly smooth and costumed US or UK Emcees compering special events. Even in the condos the heat posed the problem: what to do with the kids? The safest urban environment on the planet availed not a jot at 96% humidity. The common resort from another time and place—Go play outside—impossible here. If you told Singaporeans that ecologically speaking their city-state was never meant to be; that it had been madness to sink all the concrete, steel and glass slap bang on the equator; that all the technology, automation, robotics and innovation would not alter hard truths that had been well and truly beyond the ken of the celebrated local helmsman who back in the day had thought aircon the pinnacle of human invention—if you

Pavle Radonic

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wanted to try those lines of reasoning, a respectful whisper was best, and watch out for your neck. No one was really to blame. Singapore was not on its Pat Malone in the matter. But really. At such a locale?... Of course Dubai and the others had followed the lead. California’s elaborate irrigation system breaking down; Australian farmers growing rice in the deserts. Was there any stopping the juggernaut? Not to mention the psychic consequences. All that followed from the malls, the grid, the chokehold regimen. “Catastrophe in action,� the critics surveying the contemporary urban scene elsewhere termed it.

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Pavle Radonic


Melissa Spohr Weiss

Pierogies While I eat Nutella with a tablespoon, Opa’s cane clip-clops war stories into peeled and cigarettestained linoleum. Ninety-seven years old, he fades English to German to Czech, guttural throat stretching syllabics by the kitchen table. Opa asks for a sausage link, crouches atop mahogany stool, thanks Jesus for breakfast. In Russia, he traded labour for rye bread. Arbeit for Brot. His mom’s pierogi

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recipe lost in Siberian cold. Yet here I am, munching pantry snacks for breakfast, struggling with food in a different way. Opa pokes his fork into scrambled eggs, shuffling them across yellow bone china. Pierog mit Hßttenkäse, he notes. Potatoes. Fresh berries.

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Melissa Spohr Weiss


Kira Schukar

Raspberries I am scrubbing the counter when the bowl screams and the raspberries drop to the floor they make an indifferent sigh a sigh that caves in I cradle them like children infinitely delicate and infinitely expensive1 pre-washed bubbles designed to bleed but it wasn’t a disaster2 a mess is never a disaster I will take them to the compost pile then to the dirt what a girl I was then what a body3 to be swept into a dustpan and forgotten this house has no smell and lysol makes me dizzy but how else to clean deep red splatter from the tile I think I saw one hide herself under the oven she has clothed herself in that inedible dust the soul selects her own society4 and she has made herself untouchable 1 Sylvia Plath, “Fever 103°” 2 Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” 3 Adrienne Rich, “Seven Skins” 4 Emily Dickinson, [303]

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my palms leave prints on the tile that I will leave there I could leave them as a symbol of my indifference towards dirt my rebellion against lysol and washcloths but what is the use of rebellion if I am the only one who sees it and all I will leave behind is dirt once I found written words have a fullness and violence5 meaning poems are the rot that coalesces into dirt and there are galaxies of women there doing penance for impetuousness6 dirt that sticks under my fingernails stains the soles of my feet unwashable armies of dirt-soldier-raspberries dirt-soldier-women marching across this white kitchen floor my powerful breast stroke was a declaration of war7 dirt that I will breathe into my lungs and use to hurl my scream my scream that stains

5 Gertrude Stein, “A Transatlantic Interview” 6 Adrienne Rich, “Planetarium” 7 Audre Lorde, “A Question of Climate”

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Kira Schukar


Collin Van Son

Fallout I can hear my sister sandpapering over the kitchen sink. Her progress is slow— the grain too fine—so I go to find her something coarser. Down in the basement our oil tank stands, bison-like on its four stubby legs. Cat litter clots still crumble underfoot, decade-old reminders of the sixty red-dyed gallons that overflowed one winter night and soaked the floor in diesel. That spring our ferns all wilted. A year later the birch stopped budding. The hydrangeas, their flowers color-coded to changes in pH, expired with a flourish: cobalt to lilac, lilac to a bloody pink, pink to brittle empty stalks.

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In a cabinet below the taxidermied seabass I find the good sandpaper and bring it upstairs to my sister. Her work is loud and fast now, the sound no longer soothing as it smooths. I haven’t asked what she’s making, partly to distance myself from the mess: even from here I know the wood’s shrinking, is raining dust like tired ash.

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Fallout


Graffiti Above the Urinal in the DMV Bathroom I STILL DRINK AND DRIVE and below that ME TWO and below that ME 3 and below that my shoes, covered in piss ’cause I’m shaking so bad and now it’s Christmas Eve and I’m nine again stretched across the backseat of a milk-gold minivan winding with the Schuylkill on the way to Midnight Mass across the river all drifting scabs of ice loom eight blinking steeples of steel tress and cable, soothing the valley with red, asynchronous bulbs the radio plays to silent night I rest my cheek on the cool of the window Kelly Drive throws another curve and oncoming lamps glow warm through my lids I open to the bleating of bathroom fluorescents high above the towers sing wringing out their invisible light

Collin Van Son

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Sara Wilson

Flood My father’s wristwatch harbours the tick of Tritonia nudibranchs trampled by tides. They speak the language of time and warn that clocks corrode the day. Only the ocean can tell the truth of our movement between stars. I press the sound glass and wrested metal, a moment’s tidepool, to my ear and believe the prophecies of these salted slugs, they speak it so consistently: there is no better metronome than this beating of the sea.

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Masons A dry poppy is a rattle that says ‘hollow’ with a hundred words while the holes in our fences have been stuffed with the seeds of blue orchard bees. This jar is the start of a kind of nest, soda-lime glass and wax waiting to spill its sticky fruits and syrups, provisions for whatever is supposed to come next. But what endures is the stonecraft: the spent rubble that marks laden graves. There are different kinds of impact. The seas on the moon chew starlight, meteors mold mouths: the hungry Mason crater, a tired poppy in full bloom.

Sara Wilson

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Kevin Henderson

Cider Trucks Over the dirt road they pass, two just like the others. Crushing wet patina, straying the loose dry beneath, waxed white, they sear and scatter morning over my father’s field, while on his grandfather’s fence I peel another of so many eggs and watch the auburn expanse give twice to diesel grey.

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Colony Collapse : is not dramatic – a fluffy pollen-roller or a tight triple-bodied jacket type – But a medium – some skinny hair on a sturdy body for questing. : hovers by the fresh tulip sprouts – where the potted hyacinths were on the last warm day. : touches ground often. It is all loose soil now. The big bandit waggles & spins, shows direction & distance to the window sill, the pilfered pots. : lands on a tangle of milk-white weed roots, stumbles into a divot.

Kevin Henderson

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K.S.Y. Varnam

Culling I have no use for images of wheat fields, children with sun in their hair, women bright with fertility, arms heaped with grain, feet in the fecund dust. To my ears, “harvest� speaks of hunger, All Hallows; the hanging ropes of the gallows swing with the waving wheat. My voice echoes the uncertain rhythm of the heart; one day the beat will stutter, winter descending with the rush of a scythe. I bite fresh-picked fruit with the appetite of famine.

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Erin Emily Ann Vance

Anticipation Tonight I will dream the pleats in my dress are Spanish moss and that I am the ancient tree in which the magpies hide their sacred things.

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Woodcutter For Mark You flick sap from your beard and I breathe in the forest from the crook of your arm. You hold me like the spruce holds a moth, your boreal mouth the offshoot of thick, honeyed air. You sleep with your lips ajar and in your breath I hear the whip of the branches as they fall, the whir of the chainsaw and your sigh, your grunt, your coaxing, your whispers bouncing off bark like a child's prayer before an operation. You sculpt her and your cuts are ribbons on the forest floor. You whimper in your sleep and your fingers reach for me, sticky with the relief of trees and rough from the ache of metal on wood.

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Erin Emily Ann Vance


Lighthouse Keepers are an Endangered Species The aquarium sits on the night table with fish the colour of dandelions plucked out of the sea wishing I am tongue-tied, heart-wrecked, the ghost of a cheap whiskey in my glass. Out the window, I watch the black waves crush the little boats like grounds in a pepper mill spilling into the glass cage of the Pacific. I turn off the beacon, turn away from the sea and the letter calling for my resignation. I watch my fish dive in and out of their plastic shipwreck. I shine a penlight into the tank watch the squirm, the shake, the ripples those small bodies make before I tip this glass world on its side.

Erin Emily Ann Vance

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(Maybe in a thousand years this lighthouse will crumble into the sea, the bones of these gasping fish will mingle with the bones of the boats I let wreck against the rocks.)

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Lighthouse Keepers are an Endangered Species


Antilang. no. 6

Contributors Sacha Archer works in numerous mediums as well as being the editor of Simulacrum Press. Some of that work can be found on his website. Archer lives in Burlington, Ontario with his wife and two daughters. Evgenia Jen Baranova is an author from Russia. Her most recent poems have appeared Poetry Northwest, Persephone's Daughters, The Raw Art Review. Cairistiona Clark is a fisheries scientist who writes poetry and fiction. Her poems have been published in Fog Lit, Sewer Lid, and Open Heart Forgery. She lives in southwest New Brunswick.

Conyer Clayton has 6 chapbooks. Her most recent is Trust Only the Beasts in the Water (above/ground press, 2019). She won Arc's 2017 Diana Brebner Prize, and writes reviews for Canthius. Her debut full length collection of poetry, We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite, is forthcoming May 2020 with Guernica Editions.

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James Collier is a queer settler living, writing, and studying on Treaty 6 territory, stolen Papaschase and Métis lands. Their work has appeared in Glass Buffalo magazine, Plenitude, and CV2. Rob Cook’s most recent book is The Charnel House on Joyce Kilmer Avenue (Rain Mountain Press, 2018). His work has appeared or will appear in Epiphany, Harvard Review, Hotel Amerika, Birmingham Poetry Review, The Antioch Review, and Crab Orchard Review, among others. He is currently working on a novella.

W.M. Faulkner is a young artist, worker, and patient in the Hudson Valley, New York with work published in Genre: Urban Arts and The Rue Scribe. christian favreau

is a poet and activist living in Montréal (Tiohtiá:ke). His work has appeared in The McGill Daily Literary Supplement, Graphite Publications, and Vallum.

Cheryl Ferguson Bernini is a published designer and builder of words and ideas. She is an American Expat living in Italy with her husband and their four felines. Claire Gittins is a third-year student at Brock University in St. Catherine's, Ontario. Her work can be found in her debut chapbook “The First Sailor’s Used the Stars to Navigate and Other True Things.”

David Groulx was raised in Ontario, Canada. He is proud of his aboriginal roots, Anishnabe and French Canadian. Won the John Newlove Award for poetry 2019. Has as published 11 books of poetry. Kevin Henderson lives in New Jersey. This is his first published piece.

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Bob Hoeppner has been a submarine radioman, bartender, and software developer. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Sijo, Red River Review, In Parentheses, Panoplyzine, Leaping Clear, and Poetry South. Rozina Jessa is an Indo-Canadian writer from Vancouver, BC. More of her work can be found through her instagram page: @rozinajessapoetry Born in the UK, AM Kennard has made Canada a home. His work has been featured in The Antigonish Review's Poet GrowOp program & The Character I.

Laura Manuel writes creative nonfiction. She was a finalist for the 2019 CBC nonfiction prize and is currently working on a book about ultrarunning. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Australian by birth and Montenegrin origin, Pavle Radonic’s almost eight years living and writing in S-E Asia has provided unexpected stimulus. Previous work has appeared in a range of literary journals and magazines, most recently Entropy, Map Literary, Citron Review, Orca Journal & La Piccioletta Barca.

Kira Schukar is a sophomore English student at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. When she isn’t writing, she can be found hiking the Mississippi River trails, catching a late movie, or knitting. A.K. Shakour is a 4th year student studying English Literature at The University of British Columbia. She has a poem published in The Garden Statuary. Her work can also be found on Atunis Galaxy Poetry, The Foundationalist Journal, and Liberated Pen Journal.

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Holly Smith is a high school English teacher in NJ. Her work is rooted in the shifting landscape of her city and how the world echoes in her students.

Collin Van Son is an emerging poet and playwright out of Penn State University. His poetry can be found in Typishly and Cathexis Northwest Press. Erin Emily Ann Vance studies Folklore in Dublin. She wrote a very short book with a very long title, Advice for Taxidermists and Amateur Beekeepers (Stonehouse Publishing, 2019). K. S. Y. Varnam is a queer, neurodivergent, and disabled Torontobased writer, artist, and editor, as well as the founder of The Quilliad Press. Melissa Spohr Weiss lives and studies in Fredericton, NB. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in several literary journals, including CV2, Prairie Fire, and The Malahat Review.

Sara Wilson is a graduate of Vancouver Island University where she earned her BA with a major in Creative Writing. Her poetry has appeared online and in print in various anthologies and literary magazines including Dinosaur Porn, Sharkasaurus!, Nod, and Event. She is a Red Seal Sheet Metal Journeyman.

Christian Woodard is a wilderness guide based in Wyoming, finishing his first semester of a poetry MFA through Warren Wilson. His work has appeared recently in The Tishman Review, Artemis Journal, Barrelhouse, Plough Quarterly, and others. A more complete publication history is available on his website.

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Editorial Jordan Bolay holds a PhD from the University of Calgary’s English Department. He writes, edits, and teaches literature on the unceeded territories of the Lekwungen and Scia'new peoples of Vancouver Island. Jesse Holth is a writer, editor, and poet living on Lekwungen territory (Victoria, BC). Her work has appeared in Grain, Room, Canthius, and other publications. She really loves the ocean. Allie McFarland is a prose poser and probable poet. Lissa McFarland

is a (mostly) visual artist from Calgary. Her work has appeared in NĹ?D, Hooligan Mag, and antilang. She's a lesbian, intersectional feminist, sandwich connoisseur, and Naruto enthusiast.

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Want to appear in this lit mag?

antilang. no. 7 Open for Submissions Mar. 1 – May 15


Contribute to Antilang.

What we’re looking for: Good. Short. Writing. Any form, any genre, as long as it is brief and of exceptional quality. Poetry, short/flash fiction, creative essays, ficto-criticism, flash memoir, photo essays, comics, postcard fiction, and collaborations across media. We support diversity in both the form and content of writing and we prioritise voices that have been systemically silenced or have otherwise gone unheard. We welcome and encourage simultaneous submissions (because you should have the opportunity to submit your work widely). We can only accept translations with the written permission of the original author. 12-point Times New Roman, one inch margins, maximum SIX (6) pages, regardless of form, genre, or number of pieces. Please double-space all prose. MS Word files (.doc or .docx) only for textual pieces. Please send all submissions via Submittable and include a 30 word bio (we are all about concision, after all).

@antilangmag / antilang.ca

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antilang. no. 6 - Abrupt Environments  

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