Mandate Good. Short. Writing. The Anti-Languorous Project is an online open-access creative writing hub that publishes antilang., a magazine of literary brevity, the On Editing blog series, and Good Short Reviews. Show, don’t tell; imply and implicate. Antithesize languorous language. antilang., no. 7 Published by The Anti-Languorous Project Victoria, BC, Unceded Territory of the Lekwungen People, Summer 2020 Edited by Allie McFarland & Jordan Bolay Layout & Design by Jordan Bolay & Lissa McFarland Cover by LeeAnne Johnston Logos & Art Direction by Lissa McFarland ISSN 2561-5610, key title: antilang. (online) All rights revert to the original 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 support us on Patreon, Issuu, or by donation.
@antilangmag / antilang.ca
antilang. no. 7
Contents Rachel Shabalin 1 Isolation Haiku Kevin Madrigal 2 Not all heroes wear capes 4 68 5 Safe Yongsoo Park 6 Model Minority D.A. Lockhart 7 From Sobeys Emerges the Short Order Rink
9 This Fire Born of Distant Volcanoes
11 Crow Carries the Word to the Three Oceans
Jordyn River Pickett 12 Lots of Raisins 14 Garden 15 Return James Farrington 16 A How to Guide Summer 2020
Kailash Srinivasan 18 Not Valid Don Martin 26 Charity Is a Four-Letter Word
29 I'm Fine Rachelle Saint Louis 30 Remedy 31 1 AM Concept Robert Bowerman 32 Shopping Cart 33 Fullness Yuan Changming 34 Inner Realities 35 Musings over Metamorphosis
Tea Gerbeza 36 Photographs of Hands After the Yugoslavian Civil War
emilie kneifel 38 conversation Sukhvir Kaur 39 The End of Their Party Prudence Gendron 42 The Boys Are Homophobic Sweethearts
henry 7. reneau, jr. 47 [i ~ me] + mine ≡ [they ~ them] = us
48 phylum chordata, which also includes...
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Jessica Mehta 49 Amputation Scare One 50 To(o) Intimate 51 An Anorexia Thing Stefanie Kletke 52 Chrysanthemum Carol Casey 58 Mother Salt Laura McGavin 59 Afterbirth Niamh Burns 61 Speculum Noah Cain 63 trepan of a wife and mother
64 you were not lazarus Natasha Pepperl 65 "The Stakes" & "to be present in the real world"
Matthew Heiti 68 Damned Good Brianne Battye 72 imagine you have wings 73 winged pair Anjalee Nadarajan 74 Gold in its Wake Haley Magrill 75 Summer Camp Kate Griffin 81 A Cross Section of Light
Good. Short. Reviews. Jordan Bolay 83 On Reviews Jordan Bolay 85 Erin Emily Ann Vance’s Advice for Taxidermists & Amateur Beekeepers
Allie McFarland 88 Kaitlyn Purcell’s ?bédayine Allie McFarland 91 Frances Boyle’s This White Nest
Allie McFarland 94 Andriana Minou’s The Fabulous Dead
Allie McFarland 98 Amy LeBlanc’s I know something you don’t know
Jordan Bolay 102 Conyer Clayton’s We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite
Allie McFarland 106 Sarah Ens's The World Is Mostly Sky.
Biographies Contributors 111 Editorial 116
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Isolation Haiku I. The crows mark the sky like fingerprints, blotches of ink smudged across the page. II. Picking the lint off my couch, I forget the time. In some ways, I have never felt more here. III. The fly absorbs light from the window. My only companion for two weeks.
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Model Minority Dear Editor In response to the call in your esteemed paper Urging Asian-Americans To display their patriotism In this time of crisis Like the brave 442nd in WWII I say we need to do more We need the Freedom Uniform Designed by fashion-minded artists With surnames Wang, Lee, or Nguyen And featuring only the most patriotic colors And the truest of fabrics Complete with matching face masks All stitched with pride in the USA The Freedom Uniform can instantly identify Its wearer as a good Asian and Allow would-be attackers to better
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Zero-in on their targets To hurt and maim Only those truly deserving Implementing the Freedom Uniform Need not cost the taxpayer a dime And can be funded squarely by those it protects Throw in a modest surcharge, a.k.a. The Loyalty Levy And both measures can raise much-needed dollars To help fight this horrific pandemic Unwavering and committed, A Model Minority
Not all heroes wear capes but they do wear masks. At least, Rosa Villa does. For her protection, and for yours. She’s 73. And not a goddamn pandemic is gonna stop her from distributing food to her community when they’re in need. She makes sure each car that pulls up to the emergency food relief pantry is loaded before they’re on their way; a beaming smile on her face, her mouth covered but I can see it in her grin-wrinkled eyes. At 73, she’s still a hero. Not a goddamn pandemic is gonna stop her.
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68 homeless individuals tested positive for the virus at a shelter in downtown San Francisco. They were moved from beds placed 2 feet apart from each other to isolation in hotel rooms around the city. Only in America will you be treated better as a virus than as a human.
Safe “Be safe out there,” says the older Black gentleman working the grocery store checkout in north St. Louis, Missouri where nearly all COVID cases are Black folk. I say, “Thank you, you too.” But is it safer in here? Not a white body to be seen for a mile. What secret is kept from essential workers? What information is held privilege? COVID was supposed to be the “great equalizer,” but survival is only for those that can afford it.
From Sobeys Emerges the Short Order Rink Ice, salt, gun metal slurry aglow in boxstore light cavalcade. They emerge single file smoke skyward like deer crossing empty highways. That they emerge far too long after sunset is innate like the hunger for better, for belonging. Returned to the overstuffed minivan, four men speak of meat cuts, seasoning, the weight of curling stones against tired arms, emptiness of bank accounts. antilang. no. 7
Unpaid leave taken in a town built from the spite of working men dreams. Grand Caravan pulls off, glides to outskirts motel where rusted rocker panels shall be brushed smooth and glistening like ice before rock, after footfall and in dreams to follow, the belief stews that through sheer will they shall come to be known as curlers.
From Sobeys Emerges the Short Order Rink
This Fire Born of Distant Volcanoes Fire, molten rocks seven time zones distant, brought New Iceland through the freshwater heart of the continent. Heat in the aggression of coal cooked water, moved steam ships inland to here, one mile frontage of the great Cree muddy inland sea. Here those in flight took refuge, built what was taken in pyroclastic lightning hissed darkness into the fertile banks of a Hudson Bay trade route, the muscle twitch recall of migration routes and seasonal camps, the certainty that this land craves touch. Here, too, Northwind sets down his exile. Rests the Esso Foley Township Bonspiel Trophy atop his RCA wood box television, basks in the quiet becoming a grassy inlet that greets many, houses few, and wants more. Double-wide lodge on land bought by part time janitorial wages, the hunt for quiet reminiscent of warriors accustomed to victory in war afford only loss outside of survival. In this fire Northwind, ablaze in banishment he thinks little of Meldrum Bay, the anxiety of watching for OPP snipers in the brush, D.A. Lockhart
the knowledge that justice and rest for him like all First Peoples, comes in the distance between himself and battles fought and won. He sends up another waft of wood stove, broken newspaper pallets smoke and heat into the air above Lake Winnipeg, offers its gift to ancestors new, ancient, unseen, calls down thanks, signals a life begun anew.
This Fire Born of Distant Volcanoes
Crow Carries the Word to the Three Oceans So that arrives jagged and rich like the flame burnt caw of crow through mid-winter snow reminding creation of sacrifices and the certainty one just fights to survive, that most losses are pride and pride is what often negates how one survives. It ripples through CBC weekend daytime ad blocks, cut screens on the CHL game of the week, the weekly circulars of small northern towns. Crow arrives in television wave ether with word. Black ragged in utilitarian bird song Gimli Trans National Bonspiel Cracking Tree Moon $50,000 Grand Prize daily 50/50 (518)876-7412 ask for Gretta.
Jordyn River Pickett
Lots of Raisins (for environmental anxiety) A generous pour of organic soy milk into a heaping bowl of off-brand Raisin Bran, Lots of Raisins. Spending the morning trying to decide if the Ziploc bag of weed from your dealer downtown is more ethical for the environment than the government’s excessive packaging. Yes. Close enough to bars to spot neon from your window, you trace the glow-stick EKG with a shaking hand, finger smudging the glass
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Closed to the nausea of the minutia: funds, email; supply, demand; problem, solution. Rhinoceros horn. Oil sands. Recycling scam. It takes about 9500 litres of water to produce 1 tonne of soybeans and 297 to produce 1 litre of soy milk. The intangible responsibility of corporations in legal loopholes shoulders burden on each everyday Sisyphus. You concentrate on peeling the plastic lid off a fountain pop to sip no-straw and Dawn dish detergent concentrates on washing oil off baby ducks. You let the tap run until the water is ice cold since government health officials told you the city runs on lead pipes. You tried to buy insulated curtains for the living room window but someone stole the package from the lobby. Your parents leave the lights of the Christmas tree on 24/7 from November through February. The Earth is a monopoly’s coal stove, burning; and the faceless hand guides your finger down to the bowl, the stagnant pool of now-sweet organic soy milk that you never drink.
Lots of Raisins
Garden The way you move through this crowd: Full dilation attuned to the reverberation of sound, Gliding on parting networks of streams. Struck by a reverent internal monologue.
Jordyn River Pickett
Return The glint after sunset, the continued beliefs: the way you always turn to lack, how loud seems the space between, how far grows the expansion called back in a moment by streetlights. I can write of the same – tile, drought, loss – in craving the same: insulation. Known is a comfort. Repetitive nature of seasons, your thoughts reflected, my self reflected; Say: “here we are again.” Say: “the decorative accoutrements of my living space define me.” Say: “my aesthetic sense is a self I can depend on.” Reflected, and so, witnessed. Snowfall, and so, winter.
Jordyn River Pickett
A How to Guide: How to Perceive an Other Step 1: Unconsciously internalize social norms and prejudices. Step 2: Ignore self. Step 3: Ignore other. Step 4: Unconsciously apply unconsciously internalized social norms and prejudices to ignored other. Step 5: Unconsciously believe that the unconscious application of the unconsciously internalized social norms and prejudices to the ignored other is a fully conscious act of your own choosing and freewill. Step 6: Unconsciously believe that the unconscious application of unconsciously internalized social norms and prejudices to the ignored other represents an 16 |
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accurate definition and categorization of the ignored other’s self. Step 7: Consciously congratulate yourself for being such a good judge of character. Editor's Note: Please remember to never apply active conscious thought to the consideration of an other. Applying conscious thought to an other has the potential to negate all of the above 7 steps and may even lead you to critically engage with your self rather than easily negating another human being's existence. We highly recommend you avoid any such action. Such actions can lead to growth, change, and new insights. These are all detrimental to having a safe and happy social life. And your safety and happiness are our top most priority. Remember, a safe and happy person is best for all.
A How to Guide
Not Valid Asif wants beer. He’s thirsty. An unquenchable thirst that only a good, hoppy IPA can quench. Okay, a good, cheap, on-sale IPA. He indulges once in two weeks, always buys from the same store. Never goes to a bar, never. Spending seven dollars on a glass seems criminal to him on minimum wage. A homeless man in a drenched, red Santa Suit is sitting outside the liquor store listening to the news on his radio. He ignores Asif, doesn’t beg him for a dollar. Three years on, it still baffles him, seeing drug-addled, jobless, moneyless, hopeless men, women in a city like Vancouver. How they walk around carrying their cardboard cries for help: “Spare change, Sir? Spare some change?” Beers are kept way at the back, tall cans and bottles with bright, colourful designs. Five percent, six point five, nine percent. He keeps looking; he likes to look; it makes him feel he can buy anything he wants. Truth is, he can’t. There are other customers. That annoys him, the way they keep cutting across, interrupting his 18 |
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meditation. Some excuse themselves, some don’t. A blond sales assistant in her fifties, her face like leather, is talking to a customer, a tall, wide-shouldered redhead. The blond props open a display window with her foot, two six-packs in her hands. The last of her hair clings to her pink scalp. She gets into right away. “Been training that new guy over there to not be a robot.” She cocks her eyebrows to a thin Indian man stacking wine bottles in an aisle. Two-day stubble on his chin, a gray toque on his head. The ‘training’ isn’t of much help. The man continues to respond to customers with, “Hi, how are you today? Can I help you?” “Hi, how are you today? Can I help you?” The blond notices Asif. “Can I help you, Sir? You look like you need help.” “No, I am alright actually. Thanks.” “Okay, hon.” She returns to the redhead who’s holding an Australian red wine in one hand, a Jack Daniels bottle in the other, contemplating a cider. The blond moves past Asif wheeling a cart with more alcohol, bottles clink against one another. She directs another question toward the redhead. “Got any children?” The redhead shakes her head no. “Not yet? My sister doesn’t have any and is the happiest person I know.” She looks at Asif again. “Still lingering?”
Asif laughs. “We open every day of the week, you know. Even on Sundays.” The redhead says, “Better than going to the church, yeah?” Then laughs guiltily. “This ain’t Disneyland, but whatever, knock yourself out,” the blond says. She glances at the redhead, raising her eyebrows significantly. She walks around with her labelling gun, circles back to the customer. “My sister, she’s happy she has no children. Makes sense. What with social media being what it is today, all the creeps online, it’s for the better I believe. The world’s not what it used to be.” The redhead nods understandingly. “The other day my daughter sent me a selfie in her new nightgown. She’s twenty-one, lives on her own, whatever.” The blond rolls her eyes. “My sister said, ‘Hopefully her nipples weren’t showing,’ and you know what I said? I said, No, but her nipple rings were!” She puts a hand on her hip, sticks her neck out and makes her eyes big. She is imitating her sister’s horrified reaction. The redhead smirks, still undecided, moves toward the section with the premixed drinks. “Oh, my god! You’re still here?” she says to Asif. “Leave before I call the cops.”
Asif finds it hilarious. Such a sweet person, he thinks. He likes when white people joke with him; proves they see him as a person, not just as a colour. He finally locates the beer he wants, three dollars cheaper than usual. He grabs it and gets in line to pay. There’s a woman ahead of him; young, dark-haired, pale with tiny red dots on her skin. She looks scattered. She’s holding a bottle each of vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, and a twelve-pack of beer. Asif wants to be invited to that party. She’s dressed in an oversized beige jacket, blue jeans folded to expose her sockless ankles, white shoes. The line grows behind him. The woman empties all her pockets, looking for her wallet. “I had it, I swear. I swear.” The clerk, a white man, waits patiently for her, never rolling back his smile. When she can’t find it, she kicks the counter and storms out of the shop, leaving the bottles at the counter. The clerk pushes the bottles aside and nods at Asif. “Is that all for you today, Sir?” Asif says, "Yes." “Like a bag, Sir?” “No, that’s okay, thanks.” Asif holds the door for an old man as he enters the store. He doesn’t thank him. Asif shrugs. At the crossing signal, he waits for the flashing white walking man to allow him to cross the street. He wonders whether it will be possible to track the blond woman’s daughter on Snapchat or TikTok. He’s curious about those nipple rings. He should have noted down the woman’s name. Not Valid
What was it? Karen? No. Holly? Ugh. Obviously he will still need her last name, but at least he could’ve started the groundwork. Who knows if the daughter is even friends with her mother on social media? He can hope that perhaps the mother tagged her daughter in a photograph with a sappy status message, feigning to the world how close they were. As he crosses a pretty white couple with their pretty white children and their dog, it lands on him as things often do in retrospect. Did the blond just...was she being...could it be? Nah. He convinces himself that she didn’t mean it, that she was only joking, trying to be friendly. But the incident haunts him. By the time he’s on this third drink, he knows what the blond did is wrong. This is how the conversation should have played out: “Excuse me? Are you asking me to leave? Why? Does my presence make you uncomfortable?” “No, no, of course not.” “Can I speak with the manager, please!” “I am sorry if I offended you. I was joking. Swear to god, I have many Indian friends. I love them so much. I love samosas. Honest. Curry, yum. Listen, I promise you, I’m not racist.” The manager would arrive. “Sir, I think there’s been a misunderstanding. Holly is one of our best employees.” He’d smile, ask him to step to a not so busy part of the store. “As I understand, she was kidding. I apologize 22 |
though if her comments upset you, Sir. To say sorry, we would like to offer you any beer of your choice for free. Enjoy.” He picks up his fourth drink, starting to enjoy this position of power in this hypothetical scenario. He accepts the beer. Why won’t he? Fifteen bucks. But he maintains a pissed-off face as he exits the shop. Some customers who remained silent before, catch up to him as he walks away, saying things like: “I saw what happened in there. What a horrible woman.” “I’m sorry you had to go through that. When will these people get over their white privilege?” —— This cooked-up scenario fires him to do something, take action. He decides he will not let this slip by so easily this time. He pulls out his phone to tweet about his experience. Once he sends the tweet out, he relaxes, like a hot poori that’s been poked to let all the smoke out. The mad pinging on his phone wakes him from his sleep. His tweet has become a whole thread, with people talking about their own experiences. They offer support: hearts, crying emojis, angry emojis. He replies to every tweet with hearts of his own, thanking them for being there, for their kindness. Someone tags the store, and the customer care team gets involved. They are very sorry this happened to him.
Could you please explain the chronology of events? Asif does that, gives them a thorough play-by-play. I just wanted some beer... They will investigate this, they promise, get to the bottom. We will get back to you at the earliest. Meanwhile, here’s a fifty dollar gift card you can use the next time you shop with us. Few days go by. Nothing happens. Then Asif gets this message: Hi, we’d love to get your feedback on your recent experience with us on social media! Please take a moment to share your thoughts with us in this quick survey. They send a link. Well, he begins, research shows us that many white people proclaim to have unbiased values, however their cognitions and behaviour are influenced by subconscious prejudices, which are buried deep within their psyche. Asif writes paragraphs after paragraphs. What happened to me can be classified as ‘covert racism’. What you need is sensitivity training for all your employees, such that behaviour of this kind is not repeated. Not that it will abolish years of ingrained racism, still it’s a step. Also, a gift card will not undo the hurt I have endured. He finishes his scathing tirade with, This is not a case of a few bad apples, the entire orchard is diseased. This is very unfortunate, they respond, and completely against the values we stand for. We assure you we’ll take 24 |
the strictest action and hope to continue to receive your patronage. For the next few weeks, Asif doesn’t go to their establishment as a matter of principle. Instead, he walks up all the way to Upper Lonsdale to buy his beer. Not only is the store far, it is also expensive. This is childish, too much work, he thinks. Plus, he has the gift card. Better to use it before it expires. He ends his boycott. The blond woman is still working at the store. She’s telling the Indian salesman to watch English movies, read English books to improve his communication. Asif avoids her by seizing the first six-pack he finds and heads to the billing section. He presents the gift card to the clerk, jokes that it’s the best gift he’s ever received. After trying twice to put the card through, the clerk says, “Sorry, Sir, this is not valid. Do you have another mode of payment? A debit or a credit card?” Asif pays. He doesn’t want the clerk and the others in the store to see him as another poor Third World brown man. He’s furious. He needs to do something. He read somewhere that white people never move out of the way on the street. On his way back home, he holds his space on the pavement, does not move out of the way.
Charity Is a Four-Letter Word When you are young, you believe that charity is a red bucket and ringing bell and styrofoam containers and grateful eyes and a song by a 90s adult contemporary singer-songwriter telling you about sad puppies. You believe that change is currency that you drop off and someone much older and wiser than you will convert it into homes for the homeless and it must all be true because those puppies on TV look so happy now that they’re living with that pop star. Then you trip and crack your phone screen and can’t tell time properly because suddenly the same adults that gave you coins to put in the jar at the grocery store cash register with the baby’s faces on it are telling you that charity is putting babies in cages because they were delivered through the wrong womb.
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Charity is somehow also defined as the lack of action—I show you charity because I did not fire you when the body you hold at night looks too much like your own—I show you charity when I do not put you on the street and sell your things, because the body I see before me does not match the body I saw before. Charity is no longer change in buckets nor change in hearts, but a reminder, a thrumming mantra, repeating itself like a retail store’s background music that at first was pleasant but quickly becomes a sinister suburban torture: You are so lucky. You are so lucky I am in charge. It would be so much worse for you under someone else. You are so lucky I am on top of you; it would be so much worse for you under someone else. You are so lucky you are not hanging from a tree or heading down train tracks to a final burial behind a fence or on the other end of somebody else’s fists because at least my fists love you. When you are older, you learn that coins in buckets and styrofoam containers of hot food and pop singers with sad puppies are the charitable equivalent of carbon offsets for your conscience, where you give a little money to make your company look better after dumping oil across the Gulf of Mexico—dump as much as you want and then pay someone to plant some trees and all is right as acid rain.
Charity Is a Four-Letter Word
So instead of change we load bullets into thoughts and prayers and give the kids bulletproof backpacks and say we did all we could. Burn down the Amazon, because fire is a tool of change and we are sad puppies waiting for a pop star and Charity is a four-letter word.
Rachelle Saint Louis
Remedy her mug sits on the table
with the bubble of ginger
mustard yellow bleeding
filling my throat
webs of warmth
ebbing out toward curled fingertips
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1 AM Concept: Death to Capitalism if i were to be murdered i’d rather it happen outside my family home death really does a number on property value if a slave is worth more alive then isn’t the electric chair hurting the economy more than black bodies isn’t the loss of unpaid labor causing a deficit to consumers if insulin is so expensive how has demand to live still risen how are people willing to sacrifice quality for quantity this doesn’t match my cost/benefit analysis have i calculated wrong
Rachelle Saint Louis
Shopping Cart A powerful push. Metal and rubber rumble and clatter on pavement. Faster and faster, his long black jacket flaps in the wind and flows behind him like a cape. He runs a red; his life balanced on the back edge of his chariot stuffed with everything he owns.
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Fullness The still of the night Loud with a silver brightness And I too am full
Inner Realities: an Introduction to Chinese Characters 意 /yi/: meaning is defined as
a sound over the heart
念 /nian/: idea is what today holds upon the heart 忘 /wang/: forgetting happens
when there’s death on heart
愁 /chou/: worry occurs when autumn
sits high on your heart
怒 /nu/: anger results from slavery
rising above the heart
忍 /ren/: to tolerate is to bear a knife 34 |
right above your heart antilang. no. 7
Musings over Metamorphosis Of course, I would paint my skin into a colorless color, & I would dye my hair wear two blue contacts, & I would even go for plastic surgery, but if I really do I assure you, I will not remove my native village accent while speaking this foreign tongue (I began to imitate like a frog at age nineteen); nor will I completely internalize the English syntax & Aristotelian logic. No, I assure you that I’ll not give up watching movies or TV series, reading books listening to songs, each in Chinese though I hate them for being too low & vulgar. I was born to eat dumplings doufu, & thus fated to always prefer to speak Mandarin though I write in English. I assure you that even if I am newly baptized in the currents of science, democracy & human rights, I will keep in line with my father’s haplogroup just as my sons do. No matter how we identify ourselves or are identified by others, this is what I assure you: I will never convert my proto selfhood into white Dataism, no, not in the yellowish muscle of my heart.
Photographs of Hands After the Yugoslavian Civil War My Mother’s I’ve never noticed the way her fingers caress her cigarette, a gesture as familiar as holding a child. Her hands are witnesses: kneading dough, baking cornbread, lifting herself over balcony railings, an expression of joy I’ve never seen pass across her face lives in a photograph. Her hands know she’s pregnant be-fore she does. They swell with new life when she holds me, my small hands sinking into hers—palms marked with lines connected to another life. Her thumbs and index fingers callused, thick skin protecting her from old wounds unhealed, left underneath until split open revealing twenty-seven years of things abandoned. Hands held her in place while she negotiated my father’s release from KP Dom 36 |
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Zenica—the man tells her to retrieve my father’s shoes so he doesn’t hang himself with shoelaces. Hands are her tool for survival: she whisks flour, turns water into soup, all on a hotplate on the floor.
My Father’s It took me a long time to realize my father had hands. When I was young, I’d watch him sign my school agenda. He’d take my small hand in his & we’d trace over the letters of his name together, a final flick of a v whispered memories: starving hands axing wood concealed in forestry. Twenty-two years later I come home late & find him sitting on the couch, hunched over the coffee table with a blackened sausage in one hand and half a French loaf in the other. He ate late at night what he forgot to eat during the day. Hands now freely hold food with reminders of starvation remaining in his callused palms. His hands flatten pizza dough, clean apartments, become tools instead of body parts. The edges of his fingernails yellowed by cigarettes, his hands smell of his history: soil, pig bone, sweat from morning runs around the soccer field by our apartment.
Photographs of Hands
[img description: billowing red-line creatures that might just be one. haphazard fingernails haphazardly, one of which is glossy red. one half of the creature(s) asks, “what do you do?” the other answers, “i haunt myself-”] 38 |
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The End of Their Party On the day of the halloween party, an annual extravaganza that Khushi zealously engineered, with themed snacks and decorations, ranging from a 1920s backdrop of a car, to feathers drenched in spider webs, gold and black balloons, and pearls bursting out of every drawer—the same party which would be remembered as the coveted Great Gatsby themed murder mystery and Khushi had taken extra care to splash “blood” all over the decor to give an air of reality, even though the house itself exuded an odd deathly desperation that required no blood, but it hadn’t always been a gloomy space, other than that loose floor board, rather, the misery followed Khushi and Akash to every house they tried to make their home and 1350 Joy Dr. was no different, and Khushi’s husband was no different, and her marriage was no different, so to assume that growth would come from a change in address, as her mother and her grandmother and his mother advised was obtuse, but Khushi went along as a good, docile,
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Desi girl ought to, despite his hard hand cutting her lip only two months prior when he landed a smack across her face because she had dared to stay out with a girlfriend too late and dinner wasn’t made and she knew it was her fault because why wasn’t dinner made and it actually was her fault since dinner should have been made and he worked so hard and it weighed on him and he was being too nice, toying with her, dangling a trinket just above her nose hoping she would go for it and she had reached for it, so of course he had to teach her how to behave like a proper housewife, who must be home when her fatigued husband walks through the door, feet dragging along with his briefcase, and it was while preparing for this themed halloween party that Khushi recalled their first anniversary, October 30, 2014, when he came home early all dimpled smiles with a bouquet in hand as an apology for yelling a bit too loud when she ironed his pants with the crease in the wrong place, and they had raced upstairs to their sunlit bedroom, undressing as they ran and his pants fell all wrinkled to the floor but no shouts ensued, so she held him close to her, let him fill her and shrieked with a false euphoria, which only amplified his right to his manly fury and afterwards she lay there thinking if she had made a mistake—and this same anxiety danced in her thoughts the day of the party as she sat there at the kitchen table sipping her coffee and rubbing the back of her purpled neck with lists upon lists set before her and her anxious thoughts caressed that small belief she kept in a yet smaller box hidden at the back of her mind’s closet of how it all ends, but the culmination of the reflective moment came to a premature end as she heard him 40 |
bustling down the stairs, making her turn abruptly in the chair, which is when she noticed that on this grand morning of the halloween party he chose to wear a large, toothy grin to match the kiss he gave her on the forehead, allowing her to finally breathe a sigh of relief (something she didn’t realize she was holding in), during which time he grabbed a light jacket and began to cram his wide feet into running shoes, and against her better judgment she reminded him of the party and all of the preparations and cleaning and cooking, and she knew she should let him go, she knew it would be for the best, and she saw the small smirk twitch at his lips as he told her to cancel the party, so she sat quietly, obediently as her mother directed her, when her husband began to show his manly “whims,” (her mother’s words) and she heard him run down the hall towards the door, and she heard his foot hit that angry floor board, she heard him guffaw as he tripped and cracked his head on the small, rented, marble pillar, and she heard his last breath give way when the crystal chandelier they had so carefully installed came tumbling down on him, but Khushi did not cry or scream, instead she walked outside to the porch, coffee mug in hand, to take in the cool, crisp autumn air because her party would go on and her party would be spectacular.
The End of Their Party
The Boys Are Homophobic Sweethearts maleness like the human condition + terrifying alcohol —— it’s a landscape I harsh on myself on & where others harsh on me vicious, intertwining ecosystems of harshing and being harshed on —— i’ve been violenced all over this place ——
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even here in my untouchable zone men hold me down and make me taste myself —— i need tits n’ ass to totally eclipse this world —— i want to die a womyn i want a nontraditional family of four fathers —— yeehaw is what men say riding mechanical bulls through the yawning valleys of other peoples’ lives —— when I don’t wear women’s clothes i spend all day signing leases —— men will check you in at the notel —— The Boys Are Homophobic Sweethearts
i’m sheepish i have a bleating heart —— at night when my suitors have retired i touch myself into neglecstacy my toes curling like a crushed witch —— seas of fathers safeguard my chastity —— seas of fathers wash up on kid rock —— the world is full of places where girl = death sentence my one suitcase filled with false mustaches —— i have access to a rich diversity of emotions such as fear ——
i walk the night with the sexual allure of having over two therapists —— skipping, like a decomposing song written with blue notes and brown notes only —— i outpace my loneliness on a tandem bicycle built for one —— i have access to a rich diversity of emotions such as christmas guilt —— hair collects in drifts inside my private dreams of girlhood —— i’m forgiving all my bullies even god tell your heart to stop hitting itself ——
The Boys Are Homophobic Sweethearts
dad, if you’re reading this #metoo was a good thing —— if you’re reading this please put it down and distribute your wealth as reparations —— i can see you, and it’s okay that you’re masturbating as a person who is also a human being you’re allowed to love yourself
henry 7. reneau, jr.
[i ~ me] + mine ≡ [they ~ them] = us it was us. it was us all along. the they we labeled them. indivisible in our ignorance ≡ the focus of their governing. historically the cause & effect that is us. Note: ~ equivalent; similar ≡ is equivalent—used in statements to show how much of one substance will react with a given quantity of another so as to leave no excess of either (is identical to)
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phylum chordata, which also includes . . . post-chimera/ the testosterone cursed effemanance/: seems girlish in nature?/ transduced/: the best parts of him/ sanssemen/ the vestigial masculine psychologically feminine /to transcend the peripheral gaze of disgust/ & offense /post-transphobia/: the bruises blossomed its stigma /caked with blood /hardened to subterranean trauma/: a vein of nascent coal/ crushed by hydraulic force/ become a war of attrition /vs. the genetic stride of patriarchy /& its Uber-Christian base/ transsexual/: a diamond in the rough snipped & tucked inward /transfigured/: a pelvic wiggle in his walk/ & exquisitely manicured middle finger to the idea that she could be erased/ or silenced
henry 7. reneau, jr.
Amputation Scare One: The Bronx They called me Jennifer Cole and I was scared to die with the wrong name— who would find me? Bother to dig through the morgue for the sickest little candy piece? Yet, I didn’t correct them. Trained my brain to respond to Jennifers, getting full on hope that if nobody could find me, maybe that went for the insurance people, too. That’s not how it works. I left New York’s grimy hospital stuck like a nana’s embroidery, heavy with bills and crossed-fingered lucky starred that I still had all my limbs to love you. antilang. no. 7
To(o) Intimate To intimate is to suggest I shouldn’t (perhaps) tell you Give me prayer hands (higher) so the ropes don’t lash your face. (Bottoms, you see, don’t want rope burns on those cheeks unless they asked for it in advance). It’s too intimate, they said, using measuring tape instead of hemp hank. I suppose it’s fine when doctors family loved ones friends that one celebrity the blogger on IG tells you you’re the wrong kind of thicc but inch by inch in real life is too triggering for some. I’d like to intimate, yet again, that this is not mature/adult/triple-x content, this is the human body canvas form un-sheathed and Does this look sexual to you? Nudity is to intercourse and averted eyes as books are to madness and mutiny. It’s too intimate to intimate that we are beautiful stripped and hogtied in public. Let me paint my experiences in cinema red across crowning iliac crests and count the seconds dripping fast before they shut us down in shameful protest.
An Anorexia Thing It’s an anorexia thing, we watch our hair fall like drunks, tangled between bony fingers in the shower while the down on our arms, face, chest flourish in a sad attempt to keep us warm. We shake like old women in apartments others call roasting as they slip off their jackets so we can judge the fat of their arms, slabs of flesh jiggling fresh as meat on hooks. The thing about anorexia is we love our bodies like an abusive boyfriend loves his woman, an alcoholic loves the bottle, as a junkie loves the next taste. How thin can I get before the bones break through the skin? How much less can I weigh before I float down the streets, a ghost to the masses, but an angel to few? We don’t talk about it, but I recognize my own and it’s staggering in the war zone.
Chrysanthemum Dead fox in the entrance. Mounted heads on the walls. Box of stale donuts on the counter. “Jeopardy” on a screen in the back, a hungover non-contestant getting all the questions wrong. I didn’t sleep the night before, terrified that I’d offend the person who’d be stabbing me for hours, that I’d be unable to navigate that space between strangers who must blindly trust each other upon meeting. That I’d try too hard. (I needn’t worry, they were calmness incarnate.) Before the night before, I was so looking forward to this. The meditative state the pain would put me in. The end result that would make me feel like me. The armour that would protect my scars. The chatter of the machine that would drown out the chatter of my brain. ‘Medical abbreviations for eight hundred.’
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But, the smells. I’d forgotten about my kryptonite. (How? My adult life has revolved around this condition, which dictates my living/ job/ air/ safe/ every/ space.) The alcohol wiped over and over, the fragrant beings and ex-beings filling the room, the hundreds of plastic bottles on the shelves, the disposable casings over the machines, the vinyl-covered beds and stools, the things needed for sterile places. ‘What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?’ The smells did me in. From the moment the machine started, my brain was convinced this 5-foot-tall human with the same sounding name as my dog was trying to kill me, in full panic mode from the exposure to things I’d normally avoid, things that trigger this automatic, protective response. I’d forgotten what my brain could do when I’m overexposed, I’d thought only of the meditative state, the result, how I’d already sat through a dozen hours under this machine, held by others who hadn’t killed me. I thought perhaps this inability to settle was an unexpected lack of pain tolerance from being stabbed in the stomach, an area not previously subjected to the needle (nor teeth, other than those of my Kira). Chrysanthemum
So I told my brain to be quiet, to focus on the rafters above us. But it remained convinced that Ciara-notKira was trying to kill me. When my brain realized I wasn’t going to remove us from the situation, wasn’t going to fight nor flight, it tried to remove itself from my body. Having learned we had a common history in Latin, the delightful homophonous creature wielding the buzzing machine was asking me about the proper pronunciations of horoscope signs. ‘Is it Pie-sees or Piss-cays?’ The question immediately escaped through a hole in the ceiling tiles. My brain couldn’t be located, it had run at least to the next bed over, perhaps just behind the privacy screen, perhaps out the door. (Pro-nun-ciation? Pro-noun-ciation? What are pronouns?) ‘Common spelling errors for twelve hundred.’ ‘See-zer salad is dumb,’ I responded. I had no recollection of any other word derived from Latin. I had no recollection of a word smarter than dumb. ‘It’s Ky-czar.’ Then not-my-Kira was stabbing my throat, threatening to tear it open with their metal teeth. My brain reappeared. ‘You can get a staph infection from a dirty pen.’
(Was that a response, or had it been said hours ago?) I couldn’t stop my legs from shaking, my jaw no longer knew where it was supposed to be. They said I wasn’t moving, but I was certain my whole body was now trying to remove itself from me. (Something tore up the paper bed sheet, at any rate.) Were they, in fact, trying to kill me? Or, worse, were they going to next ask if they spelled a word I hadn’t asked for correctly, heterographically? ‘What is Gertrude Stein?’ My brain left again, definitely hiding in the ceiling this time, left of the Pie-sees/Piss-cays hole and right of the pipes noisily taking away the waste of the upper floors. I hoped those pipes wouldn’t leak on my brain, or at least not on me. Then their chin, etched and held in place by a perfectly placed jaw, was directly above my head. Focusing on the design fading from that patch of skin finally brought my brain back under control, back onto the bed now spotted with black. I could observe the fact that their breath was cold, not warm. (Why cold? Was it the difference between c-i-a-ra and k-i-ra?) (But why couldn’t I smell them?) (Had I died?) Chrysanthemum
‘I need to focus on something, I can’t close my eyes.’ ‘There’s a podcast on the history of truck testicles - two companies exist to manufacture balls for your vehicle,’ they responded. ‘I have no connection to my province.’ Then they changed position, and I had only the rafters to look at again. My brain left. (I have no connection to my brain.) (I didn’t die. I didn’t die. I didn’t die.) Suddenly I was standing in the pepto-bismol walls of the bathroom, waiting to be photographed beside posters of Weird Al. I had ink splattered all over my face, my right hand, my jeans. (Why was the mounted head in the bathroom just a bare skull when the others still had skin?) Someone-else’s-Ciara wanted to meet my Kira. ‘Kira is me in dog-form,’ they said, when they met. They said, ‘sit, Kira.’ Kira cried. They said I sat well. They didn’t sit the whole time. I cried immediately after. My brain is still there, perhaps in the bathroom with Weird Al. (Good riddance. Where were you anyway, brain, when I actually almost died a month ago?) 56 |
A chrysanthemum is usually pictured as a showworthy, tightly packed bloom. Such a flower has no meaning for me. When I asked for a tattoo of a chaotic, wilting chrysanthemum, Ciara/Kira looked at me like I was holding the most delicious treat in the world, like they had found the best stick in the forest. ‘I don’t need perfection.’ (What does a dead fox smell like?)
Mother Salt I searched the soft places for my mother. She was not there. I found her in the raw the bleeding places where high and bitter winds blow wounds open. She was busy being salt probing and stinging and could not comfort me. I found her in my DNAa misplaced phantom jumping out to startle future generations, an astringent puckering at the edges of my complacency drying up the wetlands of my tears with love so deep that none of this can touch it. 58 |
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Afterbirth Was it me or not me, that bloody limbless octopus I’d just expelled? It rests at the foot of my bed, inert. The midwife offers me a tour, lifts the maternal side so I behold its pathway of muscly stones, then flips it to expose amnion, chorion, their translucent sac—Tree of Life, witch’s caul, or pulpy blob usually thrown out as medical waste? Had it ever been me? Formed from embryo cells, spanning eight inches, cord twining like a fat latex beanstalk, branching vessels drained and bluish, raw as meat. Was it meat? Or fetal lungs, thirty-two miles of capillaries? The midwife tells me in many cultures mothers eat it.
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Some dry and grind it, stinking like iron, take its powder in pills. All the minerals needed to stave off weepiness. A part of me now gone.
Speculum In the old days, they used to use a scalpel. That was before they found out you could split a person in two by way of the vagina. They told us that wombs that can’t host life need to have the bodies attached cleaned out or they would rot. He reaches up into me, I feel him from the other side. The gown tugs up over my hips without my noticing. His hands snake through me, the cervix opens like a venus flytrap, my body splits like firewood. I’ve been cut into so many times now my intestines feel like an old hose, stepped on and worn down by neighbourhood children. Their rubbery inclines grow thick as he caresses the full length like pushing buttercream from a pastry bag. I come all the way out my throat. Just a small splat on the top of my bruised breasts. The blue of the gown juxtaposed under the tiny figure that dripped from my mouth is bright and I’m filled with hope. Doctor is still reaching around up there. I get antilang. no. 7
the sense that it’s not over yet, these events tend to persist. I look over on the counter where the speculum sits in a dish filled with grey water, I’m not sure whose. Mine was emptied at last week's appointment. When I looked at my grey water, on its own, emptied from me, I saw tadpoles swimming around, synchronized in little circles. They danced the shape of my mother. They spelled my father’s name. I cough up a chunky discharge now instead of urinating because water coagulates inside my throat and waits there; scared with nowhere to go. Doctor has filled the length of my body with the length of his, he lays on top of me with his hand pumping my stomach. I look away, aware of the rules. More things drip down my chin but they aren’t part of me. I’ve learned to forget the things that leave my body as though they were never there to begin with. I try to look to the other side of the room but there's a black veil over my eyes, it stings, fades and refills itself. I must be crying again. I reach my hand for the thing on my chest but it’s left me. “Well that’ll be all, thanks for coming in, I’ll see you next week.” Doctor snaps his gloves off and slips them into a biohazard bag, places it in a cupboard labeled ‘Womb-men surgery’ and leaves the room with a vial of black flies. I lift my hand and find the thing from my chest curled under my neck where there’s still a tuft of hair left.
trepan of a wife and mother toddler wails on father’s knee as barber bores into mother’s skull with a crown saw. barber bends, makes an oh with his lips—gently blows the site raising a fine cloud that mists mother’s coat a lighter shade of gray like flour from the pre-haunting. it smells like blood not bread as he forceps free the disk, unpeels the filmy dura mater, exposing the electric valleys of mother’s mind to free, lord willing, the invisible haunter from its cave. father brings toddler to mother whose wrists are bound with gauze, whose scalp is stitched jaunty, whose eyes plead no and drops that small weight into her lap. antilang. no. 7
you were not lazarus you did not pull the tube from your throat drag your death sheet through the ICU interrupt our waiting with a well-rested grin —— I long to share a shorelunch to rub my finger along the edge of your skull’s dime-sized dimple and believe to feel your windblown smile, the blue glow of lake and sky to hold the elsewhere bodies in which your organs burn —— hybrid, switched bodies don’t expire we turn them off
“The Stakes” & “to be present in the real world” Following the unexpected death of two young family members, I turned to poetry as a way of creating beauty from pain. Grief and trauma can cause the same phrases and images to play on a mental loop. During a week of particularly intense grief, I wasn’t able to come up with any new poems on my own. But found poetry allowed me the creative freedom I needed to find my voice. To create the following poems, I used articles and color blocks from a TIME Magazine. Then I added stitches by hand to create more texture, feeling, and durability. I used colorful thread and unorthodox patterns so the sewing avoided resembling the hospital stitches that are burned into my memory. Then I used Photoshop to add more borders. Though it wasn’t intentional, the poems that resulted have underlying themes of grief—but also speak to the intense connectedness that is humanity. antilang. no. 7
Damned Good He becomes a car salesman as he walks into the dealership. He’s five minutes early but the transformation happens at the last possible moment. He’s not a car salesman as the doors go swish and the air conditioning goes woosh but then he steps over the threshold and he’s just a car salesman. That’s all he is now. That’s everything. The tile floors shine, the cars in the showroom shine, the countertop he steps up to shines. Sally’s name tag shines and her teeth shine as she smiles shinily at him. “First day?” “First day.” “Well you know what they say,” she says, in a knowing Sallyish way. “What doesn’t kill you.” The hesitation is unnoticeable to anyone but him before he laughs, like a car salesmen, because he is a
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car salesman. He eyes the big door behind the counter. “The boss in?” “Wanda? She never leaves,” Sally says, rolling her eyes. So Sally to roll her eyes. “Go on in.” He smiles, straightening his car salesman tie and pushes through the heavy glass door into Wanda’s office. There she is, Wanda, dropping a pod into an off-brand Keurig. She’s wearing a car salesman’s jacket and car salesman pants, because, he understands, she’s a car salesman, like him. Only, unlike him, her name is on the marquee outside. It’s the same logo on the coffee cup she’s bringing up to her lips, while she stares at him over the chipped rim. Wanda Fine Cars. The steam fogs her horn-rimmed glasses. “You the guy?” “I am.” She takes another sip. “The last guy Harv sent me didn’t work out. He looked the part but he couldn’t sell a free meal to a starving man. I need a damned car salesman.” “You got one.” She drains her coffee and pops another pod in the machine. “You want a coffee?” She drinks coffee. She’s Wanda. Wanda is a car salesman. Car salesmen drink coffee. “Sure.” “Good. Last guy, he was a tea drinker.” Matthew Heiti
They take their coffees back out to the lobby. “We’re going to reconnoiter the herd,” Wanda says to Sally as they head off to the showroom. Wanda gestures at one car and then another with her mug. She says Italian things that he understands to be the names of different brands. He eyes the badges on the hoods and mouths the Italian words. He’s always been a quick learner. “How do they look?” she says when they’ve finished reconnoitring, raising her cup to him. “Fine?” He laughs in a decidedly car salesmanly manner and raises his own cup, with the logo facing her. Wanda Fine Cars. “Better than fine.” “Good good good,” she says, turning back to the front door as it a stampede might come at any moment. “I tell you. The car companies, they think these things sell themselves.” She runs a finger down the sleek red hood of the car next to her. Maserati, he now knows. She turns back to him and jabs him in the chest with the same finger. “If that were true, they wouldn’t need us. And what are we?” He feels the pressure of her finger through successive layers of polyester and wool. He shakes it off. It’s not an accusation, it’s connection. Wanda and he, they’re the same. “Car salesmen.” “That’s right. Damned good ones, right?”
Not waiting for an answer, she clinks her coffee cup to his. “Go get em, killer,” she throws over her shoulder, heading back to her office. He stands in the middle of all those shiny new cars, shiny new him. The coffee, still sloshing back and forth in his cup, drips to the shiny white floor. Spat, spat, shiny black spatter. Just coffee. Not a red spatter smeared redly all over the dirty basement floor. It’s not happening all over again, like the last time. That’s not him. It wasn’t him. He’s a car salesman.
imagine you have wings woke up one day and there they were: torn through blades, bloody, twitching unfantastic, unfeathered, unangelic close eyes as they spread: ridged, naked, mammalian blue-river spread of veins across goose-bumped skin pulled taut
but they lift they lift
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winged pair you have a feather stuck to your shoulder I run a finger along the edge and you shiver the base of it embedded in the blade a sapling of wings to come angelic and avian I close my wings around you—naked and mammalian and frightening you say, I always wanted to take a road trip with you I say, we will when the weather’s good
Gold in its Wake milk-skinned. pink skywash, once hers, now communal, blood becomes silt becomes life out of life seeps like sun out of sky, a wash of gold in its wake of pain, no sorrow. bronze-cast in dying light, neck bereft of garland, a different day an Agamemnon trophy. no lute, no lyric, no feast, no carouse, fore-fathered curse Leda stands on the shore watching. 74 |
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Summer Camp “It will be like Summer Camp,” Ma says. I’m not sold yet, but Ma says she gets to decide for me because children don’t have rights until they're at least eighteen in this country. Fake Summer Camp at Aunt Molly’s house is a hundred hours away from Meadow which is where I live with Ma and Indigo and the baby who cries all the time and Willow who is very old now and likes to run around with her clothes off. There are others too, but my brain gets tired naming them all. I have lots of friends at Meadow. Cow is my friend, and so is Chicken. Rabbit used to be my friend, but then he died and I buried him next to the carrots. We’re happy at Meadow, even when it rains through the hole in the roof. Ma told Indigo to fix it before Mister Sir got there. I’ve never met Mister Sir. Ma says I’m not allowed to until I’m older. I asked her when that would be and she said she would let me know. When I was smaller Ma would hide me under the bed when Mister Sir came. I don’t fit anymore.
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“I have to pee again,” I tell Ma from the back seat. “You just went!” Ma pulls over to the side and I hop out. “Don’t get it on your sandals, Marley!” She shouts out the window. The rest of the trip is windier and my breakfast flops up near the top of my throat which makes my face a bit greener than normal. Aunt Molly’s house is the same as the one next to it and I wonder if she ever gets confused and tries to open the wrong door. Ma kneels next to me. “You’re not staying?” I grab her hand even tighter. “I’ll be back before you know it,” Ma says. We hug and I can’t help but notice that her body is very stiff. Aunt Molly takes me up to my room. I ask her to keep the door open a crack so I don’t run out of air. She gives me a funny look. Falling asleep is hard because I’m not used to all the pillows on my bed and I can’t find a comfortable spot. I wish I could have brought Cow, but Ma said he wouldn’t fit in the car. When I wake up there’s a girl in my room. “Beth, are you botherin’ your cousin?” Aunt Molly yells from the kitchen. “No!” Beth yells. “Come down and set the table for breakfast!” “In a minute!” Her head whips back around. “Why is your hair so long? Momma said you were a boy.”
“I am a boy,” I say. Beth does not appear convinced. “Momma says you live in a weirdo commune.” I don’t know what to say to this. “I bet you can’t even read,” Beth says after a minute. “I can read,” my voice has gone sort of quiet. I don’t think I like Beth very much, but Ma said I should try to make friends. I stick out my hand like I’ve seen Indigo do before and I ask if she will be my friend. Beth’s face contorts and she says she doesn’t want to touch me because I’m probably carrying diseases. Aunt Molly has made a strange, flat thing for breakfast. It’s salty and crunchy and tiny bits get stuck between my teeth. I don’t really care for it. “Beth, why don’t you take Marley next door to play at Julie’s house?” Beth pulls a horrible face. “Don’t be weird, weirdo.” Beth says before we go in. Julie’s mother frowns at my long hair and makes me wash my hands before I can play. “Can he talk?” Julie asks Beth. “A bit, but not like you and me.” Beth says. We play a game called Cops and Robbers. “Too tight!” I shout as they tie me to the chair. I struggle and the rope burns my wrists, ripping at my skin. Haley Magrill
“Sit still!” Beth growls. “You’re in jail.” “No! You go to jail!” I shout in their faces until Julie’s mother comes running into the room waving a soapy sponge in the air. We have to leave after that. Aunt Molly is surprised to see us back so early. She says she doesn’t have time to call a babysitter and we’ll just have to come do the shopping with her. I tell her that I stay home by myself all the time at Meadow. She gives me the same funny look again. “Beth, hold Marley’s hand. There’s lots of cars,” Aunt Molly says. I can tell that Beth is not pleased with this because she makes a big show of holding her breath until we’re all the way to the other side. The door opens by itself and I jump back, searching for the invisible hand that opened it. “What is this place?” I ask Aunt Molly. “It’s a supermarket, dummy.” Beth scoffs. I’ve never seen so much food before in my life. I wonder if Ma knows about supermarkets. We trail behind Aunt Molly as she wanders through the aisles. The lady in front of me has a bag of peaches in her basket. My mouth begins to water. It smells so much better than the strange, flat thing I ate for breakfast. I pick one out of her bag and sink my teeth in. The juice is sticky and warm and dribbles down my neck. “What are you doing?” The lady says, whipping around. I drop the peach from shock and it squirts onto my sandals. 78 |
“Honey, you can't take food from other people’s baskets.” Aunt Molly says. “If you want something you have to buy it first.” The lady gives me a dirty look and stalks off. “Buy it?” I don’t understand. “Yes, with money.” She shows me the papers in her purse. I let out a very small, “oh.” At Meadow, when we’re hungry we just eat. We move to a colder part of the store where there are lots of squishy red things wrapped in plastic. “Is that a brain?” I ask Aunt Molly. “Brain? No, sweetie. That’s beef.” “It’s cow,” Beth whispers in my ear. My stomach flips over. Suddenly, all I can smell is blood. Aunt Molly doesn’t notice me back away. She’s arguing with the man about the prices being too high. I go through the aisles trying to sniff out the peaches. Instead I come across a long aisle of dead fish. Their mouths are pulled open and I have to fight the urge to stick my finger inside. And then there’s a box filled with the saddest lobsters I’ve ever seen. I press my hand to the glass. There’s a big one standing on top of the pile. He tells me he is the king and he asks me very quietly to let them out. I peek quickly over my shoulder to see if anyone is around and then I snatch the first lobster out. It wriggles as I pull off its elastic hand cuffs. I do the same with the rest of his friends until the tank Haley Magrill
is empty. They scuttle away. I tell them not to worry when the screaming starts. “Please remain calm!” A voice shouts over the loudspeaker. “Marley!” Aunt Molly rushes over and yanks me away by my elbow. As she’s plowing us toward the exit I can see the peach lady throwing bags of lettuce at my lobsters as they clip at her ankles. I’m very worried that my friends will be squashed. Beth looks as though she’s just swallowed some bad medicine. For once, she doesn’t have anything nasty to say.
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On Reviews Reviews are challenging to write and dull to read. There, I said it. I’ve often struggled with the idea of writing/reading reviews. On the one hand, writing and publishing a review is a great way to pad your list of publications and can increase the attention given to a new work (especially if it’s from an emerging or marginalized author), and reading reviews can be a great way to find new favorites. On the other hand, who wants to read 50,000 beautiful words just to write 500 less beautiful ones summarizing them? And do you really need to read a glowing review of a book that’s already shortlisted for several awards and/or on the best-sellers list? You know it’s good, just go read that book! This reveals the first challenge: finding the right book to review. Came out two years ago? Old news. No one’s reviewing it? Might not be very good. Someone’s already said all there is to say? Why didn’t you review antilang. no. 7
it sooner? This is why at The ALP we’ve decided to start reviewing books—often debuts—by emerging authors—often previous contributors to or editors of antilang. & soundbite—that fit our mandate literary concision. Knowing the authors also makes it easier for a small lit mag such as ourselves to get a hold of advanced review copies and allows us to give each review a personal touch. The second challenge was finding a style that we would want to write and that readers (we hope) enjoy reading. We believe all writing should be poetic, that beauty ought to be found in all genres, styles, and formats. So, we decided to take a creative approach to review writing, to imbue our reviews with a certain aesthetic, and to mirror their structure on our slogan: Good. Short. Writing. That is, [Descriptor]. [Descriptor]. [Noun]. This slant facilitates a focused reading on the core of each book, a close consideration of the essentials of style and structure. This tactic keeps us concise while leaving room for other readers’ reviews. Now that we’ve made seven attempts at this technique (just in time for antilang. no. 7), we’re opening up for submissions. Send us your Good Short Reviews of concise creations (or longer works that collect brevities—story cycles, suites of poems, novellas, etc.) on Submittable, employing our slogan’s syntax as a template, and be sure to check out the books we’ve reviewed in the following pages. We look forward to reading about what you’ve been reading, and fostering a space for reviews of a more creative vein.
We are very excited that our first review of good short writing is of two-time antilanger Erin Emily Ann Vance’s debut novel(la), Advice for Taxidermists & Amateur Beekeepers, available from Stonehouse Publishing. Mothering. In this story surrounding the mysterious death of Margot Morris, her two daughters, and unborn baby, Vance’s writing explores the roles, rituals, and relationships of the mother figure. Advice calls typical, nuclear family notions of motherhood into question through the Morrises. Margot’s daughters each have a different, non-parental father. Her sister, Sylvia’s “blissful motherdaughter moment[s]” are “strange and unfamiliar” to her own daughter. Margot’s other sister Agatha mothers bees when she cannot carry children to term. And finally Tasia, the sister-in-law, raises her child in a mobile home disguised as part of the landscape and doubling as her husband’s taxidermy workshop. Whether the women are mothering their children, one another, or their careers, each act in Vance’s text is a task as delicate as beekeeping and as heartfelt as grief. Gothic. The Morrises live in an old manor house they managed to afford because it had once been the site of vampiric rituals conducted for moths. The book is, at its heart, a classical Gothic about a house in decay and a family tree at risk of deterioration as Margot’s branch— mother, daughter, sister, nieces—burns in a fire under suspicious circumstances. The uncertainty surrounding 86 |
the deaths serves as centerpiece, amplified by smalltown superstition and the mythos that encircles the Morrises. Obituaries. The novel proper opens with Margot’s obituary—a framework for the entire narrative. Each of the Morrises moves through grief, first in a focused intensity leading up to the funeral and then in a natural and gradually elastic coming to terms. The novel loosens our sense of time by only showing scenes that tie into this undulating relationship to loss. The book’s structure and narrative shifts perspectives, nurtures paranoia around seemingly supernatural mysteries, and weaves its tale around death. Advice mothers these Gothic obituaries and raises them in the unexpectedly haunting setting of smalltown southern Alberta. ~Jordan Bolay
Mothering. Gothic. Obituaries.
For our second Good Short Review we took a look at Kaitlyn Purcell’s ?bédayine, and not just because she was our guest editor for antilang. no. 5. ?bédayine truly encompasses our mandate at The ALP for Good Short Writing as it comes in at a tight 88 pages and is the 2018 winner of the Metatron Prize for Rising Authors! Floating. Kaitlyn Purcell’s debut book is, on a surface level, a story about a young Indigenous woman navigating her traumas (past and current) primarily set in Edmonton. However, Ronnie is not defined by her trauma, nor is she lost in her grief. While she appears to distance herself from both by relinquishing her agency through drug use, Ronnie opts into treating her life with equal weight as her dreams. This enables her to float above her actions and relay them plainly. Poetic. Metatron’s blurb on the back of the book refuses to categorise Purcell’s work as a novel, or other western categorizations of narrative. Instead, the book’s first readers and reviewers reflect on the poetic nature of this work. At antilang., we really enjoy genre blurring, and Purcell does this with a fresh nuance that allows narrative to coexist with deep attention to detail and restraint. Instead of letting her characters or the story to take over, she balances all elements of writing so that each component lifts all others. For example, pages 46-50, “2C-i Times Three” describes what is simultaneously one ongoing drug trip and multiple Allie McFarland
drug trips separated across weeks or months by repeating the same images so that each page is both a deterioration and distillation of the previous. This technique of repetition is used throughout the book and gestures to the looping experiences of trauma and grief and the coping mechanisms used by the narrator, Ronnie. Grief. Purcell’s book is a contemplation on the implications and fallout of extended grief. A reader cannot ignore Ronnie’s subject position as a Dene woman cut-off from her cultural roots–a severance caused by colonial violence and enacted by community members in Fort Smith. Ronnie’s trauma is evident throughout the work, starting with the blank spaces between words on page 1. But the book refuses to dwell on her trauma, letting it exist as one aspect that leads Ronnie to her relationships with various people and drugs. The narrative is Ronnie’s search for solace from her grief and her attempts to imagine a world that does not end. ~Allie McFarland
Floating. Poetic. Grief.
Our third review dives into France Boyle‘s second poetry collection, This White Nest, available from Quattro Books. Boyle’s poems have appeared in antilang. no. 3 as well as no. 4 – Succinct Speculations. Familiar. This White Nest draws on images familiar in two senses: they are commonplace, yet instill a strong sense of family that permeates the collection. Birds, trees, and relationships combine to form a subtle and nuanced take on what constitutes family. A singular speaker weaves through landscapes across Canada and gives these places the same attention she bestows on her companions—whether they are people or memories. While this speaker weathers stormy seas and the loss of her mother, the poems always call the reader back home. Back inside, to a place not necessarily safe, but familiar and forgiving, that extends to the yard and the lake of childhood. Earthy. Maple trees and finches, plucked apples and roses, it is impossible to find a poem in Boyle’s collection that does not hinge on and celebrate the recurring growth found in non-human entities. As the speaker negotiates ghosts, she acknowledges her connections to the earthly world, insisting that these phantoms, spectres, and fairies are also of the same dirt and wind she knows so well. In the truest sense of the words, This White Nest is rooted in the physical earth.
Quiet. These poems offer observations of the quotidian with quiet certitude. “And so at last I climb” finds the speaker in her bed, cozy under a quilt as “cabin walls complain / as they brace against / the buffeting wind,” a familiar scene, but written with a pared-back language that allows the reader to hear the galloping wind and the creaks of the wooden walls that stand against it (19). The language calmly and self-assuredly relays a scene, a moment, a brief thought, without excess, and this creates spaces for the poems to breathe. To sigh. To communicate with each other in whispers. ~Allie McFarland
Familiar. Earthy. Quiet.
Andriana Minou launched her latest book, The Fabulous Dead, on March 24, 2020 with Kernpunkt Press. This book can be shipped to Canada through the publisher’s website (you know, in case you now have a lot more time at home and need something new to read). Minou has 3 books previously published by Strange Days Books, Underage Noirs, Dream-Mine, and allouterra. Her work has also appeared in soundbite, vol. 2. Surreal. The Fabulous Dead is a surreal re-imagining of (primarily) Western historical artists. The “I” character is introduced in the first story as the Skyscraper Queen of the Rumors Motel. She listens to “the Fabulous Dead,” and as she cleans, their voices become mixed, their stories mixed-up, so much that she is able to transform herself into their stories, or even into the dead themselves. The fabulous dead, the artists, are put into strange, almost dreamlike situations. Nietzsche and the “I” character share figs while watching a cult-like ritual performed by monks who make cats mate on a Greek island. A man named Jack attempts to grow potatoes but ends up with miniature Marlene Dietrichs. Princess Alexandria Amalie has a glass piano in her stomach that won’t stop playing. The Skyscraper Queen suffers the onslaught of voices and stories until she is able to forget her existence, and in this way, forget her own story and end the cycle (until another Skyscraper Queen emerges).
Referential. The artists referenced throughout range from wellknown figures, such as Nietzsche, Lewis Carroll, and Galileo, to less commonly known names—JeanBaptiste Lully (a French composer in Louis XIV’s court), Robert Falcon Scott (British Royal Navy officer who explored the Antarctic and brought a piano along for the voyage), and Margherita Luti (one of the painter Raphael’s lovers). But don’t let the over-abundance of references turn you away—most important historical details are delivered inside the stories or through footnotes. Along with the reference to famous people, every vignette in this collection also refers to food or drink. The dead, it seems, revel in coffee and sauerkraut, ice cream and whiskey, much like the living. The Skyscraper Queen herself indulges in lists of food until it seems she would burst. Food and drinks are sensuously described, but the consumption of them is the key element tying these stories together. The characters consume foods and drinks the way the Skyscraper Queen consumes their stories and identities (and, perhaps, the way readers consume details of the lives of famous celebrities). Vignettes. The Fabulous Dead is marketed as a collection of short stories, but this seems inaccurate. The stories are very short—averaging under five pages each. For each vignette, the reader is dropped into a new setting 96 |
(often anachronistic to the figure being followed), then introduced to the character and their quirky situation. Not much is resolved or complicated—rather, these scenes are surreal slices of life, placing famous historical artists into unexpected, occasionally absurd contexts. The bookending stories of the Skyscraper Queen serve to provide a framework for these vignettes. She flits through these lives, and the reader follows her through vignettes that are fun and oftentimes outrageous, but on their own often leave the reader wanting to know more of how the situations play out. ~Allie McFarland
Surreal. Referential. Vignettes.
Amy LeBlanc’s debut poetry collection I know something you don’t know is a short book with a long title available now for order through local bookstores or directly from the publisher (Gordon Hill Press) to be delivered to your door. We recommend you brew yourself a mug of tea (with milk, preferably) and tuck into LeBlanc’s enchanting poetry. Bewitching. In case you haven’t noticed, witchy feminism is a prominent movement in the Western world that invokes symbols of witchcraft to further female empowerment / gender equality. LeBlanc’s I know something you don’t know is a stellar example of this writing, due to her gentle command of language and the characters she conjures. These characters are women, mothers, little girls, but also rosin, foxes, and an avocet. These female-coded characters exert agency over their own bodies and forms. For example, in “Pick,” a male character seems to control the woman’s body, but, importantly, she is the one who “seals her lips and eyes / for the afternoon,” thereby letting him believe he has convinced her to listen to his spiel of “film reels and crooked spoons.” In “Birthing Black Rabbits,” the male doctor vomits upon seeing the offspring, and in response, “The mother bit / his hand.” In intimate moments, these women refuse male gazes, opinions, and actions, whether the men know this or not. The seemingly inanimate women are quietly their own, in “Rosin,” the ‘she’ spreads through many lives and endures the “affliction” of being “tied together with string,” but the reader is left with the sense that she is multiple and will prevail. Further, the Allie McFarland
forces that bind her are not named or even gestured toward, rather, Rosin has become and is always in the process of becoming her next form, and those outside forces are merely inconveniences. Feminist. As these women prepare recipes for poisons or tinctures, the reader is also reminded of contemporary issues surrounding body positivity and eating disorders. In “Wafer,” the first person speaker directly addresses these themes which previously in the book had only been subliminal. The poem opens with “My waist is not thinner / than a piece of paper” then proceeds to describe the non-food items the speaker has recently consumed. While some, like “bone chips” fit into LeBlanc’s fairy tale world, others like “cotton balls” are scarily real. The women in these poems face judgments and expectations not unlike those in our world, but here they are aware of their powers and therefore show us the possibilities for overcoming adversities. Fairy Tales. The poems in this collection are incantatory—their rhythms and themes lull readers into an alternate world where spells and potions ensnare the senses (Harry Potter reference!). But these are not the types of spells likely to be found at Hogwarts. True to original fairy tales, these fables often feature dark undersides—more than once, a poem in this collection mentions poisons, often as the consequence for not 100 |
respecting a woman’s power. The characters in these poems inhabit a world similar to our own, but with the rules of fairy tales a la the Grimm’s Brothers, resulting in a concoction that lures you in as it warns you of the poison lacing your glass. ~Allie McFarland
Bewitching. Feminist. Fairy Tales.
We seem to be enamored with short books bearing long titles, and Conyer Clayton’s We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite is no exception. This debut full-length collection of poetry is part of Guernica Editions’ First Poets Series and can be found on the publisher’s website or at your local independent bookseller. Intimately. Clayton’s speaker intimately engages with many topics, from lovers to abortion, nature to death. There is a closeness that pervades through each poem, a love that need not be sexual (though it sometimes is) nor even always personal. It is captured in the couples who “exchange / loaded glances over freckled shoulders and distracted backs” (37), but equally in forests, rivers, and soil. The speaker links the corporeal and the ecological, the personal and the natural: “Same earth of my body. Same earth of her body. Same earth of her ashes poured into lakewater.” (25) The line structure reflects this intimacy—careful, caring repetition that flows with gradually-shifting words like water at a lake’s estuary; a patient verb that lingers alone on its line.
Enjambed. If an intimate tone unifies this work’s content, then enjambment harmonizes the collection structurally. The book’s award-winning opener “Seeds” exemplifies this unity of form and content:
“Just missed disturbing a mosquito nest brimming
with potential babies. What kind of father would you have been?” (13)
We feel the full stop; both reader and speaker know what the nest contains but the line’s spacing and, therefore, pacing allows us to experience the staggering weight of the connections being made. The shift in line length then acts as a pivot, moving us from metaphor to the first of many sincere questions asked by the speaker. These questions lead to realizations, which are themselves amplified and multiplied through enjambment: “… This is your real
home. You’ve never been your own person.” (34, original italics)
The stanza break separates the notion of “the real” from the idea of the home, just as the following line break emphasises that to not be yourself is to have never been home. This doubling of meaning mirrors 104 |
the other duplicities within the work. Dualities. We Shed Skin Like Dynamite brings together dualities, many of which are listed in the book’s back cover blurb: "addiction and co-dependence, sex and art, nature and death." But beyond these are the kindred voices, characters, spectres—the “you” and “I”; the “my” and “her”; the “ivy mammoth” brought down “with whirling blades” and the mother who “died last night in her sleep” in “Full Sunlight” (15). Finally, each part of the collection is paired with an epigraph taken from one of its poems. Part I quotes “Our thoughts bound in the open air” but its source, “Trending Towards the Fall,” presents
“The only property that matters: our thoughts
bound in the open air.” (23)
The joyous leaping becomes a state of entrapment, the medium of that freedom becomes property. Delve into Clayton’s writing to discover the dualities of “this mess of skin” (50) and “How efficiently we grieve” (63) in parts II & III of this powerful debut. ~Jordan Bolay
Intimately. Enjambed. Dualities.
Sarah Ens bursts onto the Canadian poetry scene with her debut collection, The World is Mostly Sky, published by Turnstone Press and launched via Zoom on May 7, 2020. Refreshingly stark yet melodic, we shamelessly stole our first keyword “nimble” from Jeanette Lynes’s description of this collection during its launch. We hope you support Sarah by purchasing her book from your local bookstore or directly through the publisher’s website! Nimble. Ens’s collection is in three parts that thematically move from nostalgic recollections of home to the difficulties of living in and navigating the contemporary Western world, and into the importance of women’s friendships and solidarity. But the poems contained here are nimble for more than their ability to weave through these themes. On a structural note, they range from standard lyrical poetry (if there is such a thing as a standard) to prose poems to extended poems to poems that play with spacing, voice, or quotations from other works. The piece that perhaps best demonstrates Ens’s poetic prowess is “Floriculture,” where two poems braid themselves together to form the impression of three poems in one (it reads as a poem regardless of if you read it through, or as only parentheticals, or only nonparentheticals). Just take a look for yourself at the opening of the first stanza:
“My mother (spent summers kneeling) Took pride in my muddy crunching, (between carrots/potatoes/beans/ radishes/raspberries/peas) my reaching To the earth. I do love”
This form continues on with the lines and voices alternating, each giving more form and context to the other, but also sufficiently stable on their own. Prairie. As with the quoted poem above, Ens’s book spends a lot of time in the earth, particularly in her Manitoban hometown, where she contrasts her childhood and adolescent memories with the reality of new condos appearing on the once flat land. While some poems demonstrate the speaker’s sadness at the loss of silos and the changing skyline, they do not dwell in sadness, preferring to merely relay the changes while tying the speaker’s disappointment to that more general sense of leaving one’s childhood firmly behind. This documentation of change and loss follows in the tradition of other prairie writers, such as Robert Kroetsch, Dennis Cooley, and Barbara Langhorst, putting Sarah Ens in good company. Celebrations. While writing about altered landscapes and lost places sounds dreary, Ens makes it anything but. Instead, she focuses her energies on celebrating the experiences 108 |
the speaker had in those places, and the potential for something new to bloom. This is most evident in the final section of the book, “Powerful Millenials on the California Freeway,” whose title really captures the essence of the poems therein. Here Ens focuses on relationships between people, the way they grow up together and also grow together. The poems seem to realise that though a place has changed, and is in some ways unrecognisable, so too have the people who did (or still do) inhabit it. Ens celebrates both people and prairie, complicated as each are, through her nimble pen and apt understanding of just what each poem needs. ~Allie McFarland
Nimble. Prairie. Celebrations.
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Contributors Brianne Battye is a writer, poet, and narrative designer. Her first poetry chapbook, wholehearted (845 Press), released in 2019 and her short fiction appears in Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights (Tor). Robert Bowerman is a retired teacher living on Vancouver Island. He has twice received honourable mentions in the Vancouver Island Contest for Short Fiction (2018 and 2019) and received the Meadowlarks Award for Short Fiction in 2019. His Poetry has been published in The Nav (VIU). Niamh Burns is a queer, non-binary Irish-Canadian poet, fiction writer and philosophy student. Their work has been published in Across The Margin (Best Fiction 2019) and Visitant Literary Journal. Noah Cain teaches high school English in Winnipeg. His poems and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in various publications including CV2, Prairie Fire, & Glass.
Carol Casey is a member of the Huron Poetry Collective and the League of Canadian Poets. She has contributed to a number of publications, including five anthologies. Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include 10 Pushcart nominations, 8 chapbooks, & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry & BestNewPoemsOnline, among others. James Farrington has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Windsor, ON. His work has appeared in Grain and he has presented/performed his work across Ontario, Canada. Kate Griffin (and her feline entourage) strives to explore the enormity of our cosmos with the linguistic filigree that is poetry. She considers herself an apprentice when it comes to wordsmithing, but appreciates your appreciation. Prudence Gendron (she/they) is a Montreal-based writer, white settler, sometimes-radio personality, and total softie. Before transitioning, she played the guylaphone at the professional level for appreciative members of the state. In between intense periods developing a paradigm-shifting poetics, you can catch her at the queer bonfire, waxing romantic about dad music to a stump she’s drunkenly mistaking for an obliging crush. Tea Gerbeza is a disabled poet and paper quilling artist. She is currently an MFA in Writing candidate at the University of Saskatchewan. Her paper art can be found at @teaandpaperdesigns.
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Born in a meteor crater, Matthew Heiti has published a novel, The City Still Breathing (Coach House Books) and a play, Black Dog: 4 vs. the wrld (Playwrights Canada Press). He writes at harkback.org. LeeAnne Johnston received a BFA from the University of Alberta in 2015. Drawing influence from comic books, folklore, and monstrification they explore ways to represent intangible experiences with a focus on mental illness and invisible disabilities. Their work emphasizes imperfect markmaking, stream of consciousness, and finding comfort within the uncomfortable. By making work that expresses feelings of discomfort, isolation, and unease LeeAnne creates a new language to help people relate to each other. Sukhvir Kaur is a first generation citizen of South Asian descent. She is a J.D. working as a program manager for a non-profit organization by day and an aspiring writer by night. Throughout her legal career, Sukhvir worked closely with immigrant communities and continues to support her Punjabi-Sikh community through her non-profit work. Her poem, "The Patriot Tax," is to be published in the Santa Clara Review. Stefanie Kletke is a copyeditor living in Edmonton, Alberta, wondering what to do with her life. emilie kneifel is a sick fish, goo fish, they fish, blue fish (critic, poet, editor, and co-creator of playd8s, a show for you if you need it). find 'em at emiliekneifel.com, @emiliekneifel, and in Tiohtiáke, hopping and hoping. D.A. Lockhart is the author of five collections of poetry, including Devil in the Woods (Brick Books 2019). His Contributors
work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry in English 2019, Grain, the Malahat Review, CV2, Dalhousie Review, and the Fiddlehead, among others. He is the publisher for Urban Farmhouse Press based out of Waawiiyaatanong (Windsor, Ontario, Canada). He is a member of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation. Kevin Madrigal is a decolonizer of food, art, and health. As a Chicano first-generation child of inmigrantes Mexicanos, he hopes to honor his ancestors and work towards a better future. Haley Magrill is a Canadian writer. She has previously published short stories in Mojave He[art] Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, and The Cabinet of Heed. Don Martin is the author of two collections of poetry. His previous work, The Playground, was selected by Barnes & Noble as part of their #BFestBuzz campaign. He lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his husband and their pets. His latest collection, while I wait to be a god again, came out earlier this year and debuted at #1 on Amazon’s LGBT Poetry list. Laura McGavin's poems appear or are forthcoming in The Literary Review of Canada, Room, CV2, Riddle Fence, The Maynard, and elsewhere. She lives in Ottawa. Jessica Mehta is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, interdisciplinary artist and poet, and award-winning author. She’s the Editor in Chief of Crab Creek Review, an editor at Airlie Press, and the owner of an awardwinning small business. MehtaFor is a writing services company that offers pro bono services to Native Americans and Indigenous-serving non-profits. 114 |
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Anjalee Nadarajan is an emerging writer. She is a graduate student at York University. Yongsoo Park is the author of the novels Boy Genius and Las Cucarachas, the memoir Rated R Boy, and the essay collection The Art of Eating Bitter about his oneman crusade to give his children an analog childhood. He lives in Harlem and gets around on an old bicycle. The daughter of a Persian refugee, Natasha Pepperl writes to try to process the smooth and sharp of life. Her writing has appeared in HuffPost and The Denver Post. Jordyn River Pickett is a writer and fool (among other things) who’s just trying to figure it all out. Now living in Montreal, in July 2019 she self-published a short collection of poetry, Rides, which is about carnivals (but not in a corny way). On Instagram as @jrscribe. henry 7. reneau, jr. writes words of conflagration to awaken the world ablaze. In case of tyranny, Google: henry 7. reneau, jr./poetry to remove the size thirteen jackboot from your imagination. Rachelle Saint Louis is a Haitian-American writer, born and raised in South Florida. She received a Scholastic Art and Writing Silver Medal in 2018 for her poem “Red Blood Cell.” Rachel Shabalin is a writer living in Calgary. She is currently the Arts Editor for filling Station magazine. She enjoys minimalist forms and walks by the river.
Kailash Srinivasan is a fiction writer living in Vancouver. His work has appeared in The Selkie, Oyster River Pages, Sidereal, Queen Mob's Tea House, Bad Nudes, Lunch Ticket, OxMag, Santa Ana River Review, Going Down Swinging, Regime, Tincture, and others.
Editorial Jordan Bolay holds a PhD from the University of Calgary’s English Department, where he studied archival trace, Canadian literature, and new media. He has edited for filling Station, The Fieldstone Review, and The ALP. He is the author of two chapbooks, poems f(or/ ro)m my father | poème a/à mon père (Loft on EIGHTH) and how to make an English exam interesting (The Blasted Tree). His poetry, fiction, and criticism have been published online and in periodicals across North America and Europe. Jordan is currently at work on a manuscript of prairie poetry. He writes, edits, and teaches literature on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen and Scia’new peoples of Vancouver Island. Allie McFarland holds an MFA in Writing from the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of English, where her thesis—a concise, genre-blurring, womancentric narrative called a novel(la)—was nominated for the College of Arts & Sciences Thesis Award. Her debut novel(la), Disappearing in Reverse, is forthcoming fall 2020 with the University of Calgary Press as part of their Brave & Brilliant series. Her writing has most recently appeared in release any words stuck inside you II (Applebeard Editions), untethered (vol. 4.2), and The 116 |
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Fieldstone Review (no. 11). Her poetic suite “Lullaby” won the 2015 Dr. MacEwan Literary Arts Scholarship. She is bi, drinks martinis dry, and currently runs a notfor-profit used bookstore on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen peoples of Vancouver Island. Lissa McFarland is a (mostly) visual artist from Calgary on Treaty 7 territory. Her work has appeared in NōD, Hooligan Mag, and antilang. She has designed and illustrated the cover art for each of antilang.’s print anthologies as well as The ALP’s logos. She's a lesbian, intersectional feminist, sandwich connoisseur, and Naruto enthusiast. You can check out her artwork on Instagram (@lil.trshlrd) and contact her for commissions and custom designs at lissamcfarland.com.
Want to appear in this lit mag?
antilang. no. 8 Open for Submissions July 1 – Sept. 15, 2020
Contribute to antilang.
What we’re looking for: Good. Short. Writing. Previously-unpublished work in any form, any genre, as long as it is brief (under six pages) and of exceptional quality. Poetry, short/flash fiction, creative essays, fictocriticism, 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). 12-point Times New Roman, one inch margins, maximum SIX (6) pages, regardless of form, genre, or number of pieces. ONE (1) piece per page, regardless of its length. Provide your entire submission in ONE (1) document and please only submit once per reading period (short stories and poems can be submitted together). Please double-space all prose. MS Word files (.doc or .docx) for textual pieces PDFs or image files for visual/hybrid work. Please send all submissions via Submittable and include a 30 word bio (we are all about concision, after all). @antilangmag / antilang.ca