Volume 13 Issue 3 October 2013
The Fantasy Issue
VOLUME 13 ISSUE 3 OCTOBER 2013
I think every fantasy reader secretly believes they know how magic works. LEV GROSSMAN (1969)
Forces at Work
The Sailor and the Sea Serpent
Making Old Bones
Death is Magic
On Bandits, Biology
10 16 19 20
Boundless and Bare
Music is My Fantasy JAMES BLAKE
Chapter One JANET KWON
Front Cover NESS LEE
Back Cover NESS LEE
Inside Back DIEGO JERI
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Fiorella Morzi
THE FANTASY ISSUE
Production Manager Jessica Groom firstname.lastname@example.org
Literary Editor Janet Kwon email@example.com
Art/Photography Manager Roxanne Nicolussi firstname.lastname@example.org
Promotions Manager Stephanie Lesdow email@example.com
Radio Manager HIRING Interns Joshua Howe
CONTRIBUTORS Kody Kohl, Matt Long, Amanda Couture, P. J. Smith, Dearbhaile Houston, Joseph Brannan, Ashley Newton, James Blake, Brendan Fardy, Alexis Castrogiovanni, Ethan Elliott-Kilgour, Andrew Savory, Catherine Lundy, Bennet Catchpole, Matthew Smith, Andrew Cresswell, Matthew Montopoli, Jessica Armstrong, Rebecca Allison
ADMINISTRATION President, Publisher & Chair Allison Leonard Executive Director Bryn Ossington Advertising Manager Angela Taylor Vice Chair Luke Schulz Treasurer Thomas Paddock Director Kate Turner Director Shelby Blackley Corporate Secretary Alexandra Abbiento
CONTACT Blueprint Magazine 75 University Ave W Waterloo ON N2L 3C5 p 519.884.0710 x3564 blueprintmagazine.ca
Whenever we locate our voice in life, as a 13-year-old poet or a corporate retiree, I doubt many understand at that moment the real power it contains. We know we’re onto something, we suddenly feel much more alive. Our vocabulary is made flesh, triggering the use of a language previously unknown to us. Why did I not speak before? To be ready to speak is to acknowledge the often backwardness of our silences, and to not only want to understand ourselves through our speech, but to share those words with others. We carry our survival triumphantly into the thick fabric of story. Bending the limits of our vocal power, fantasy is a transgressor. It actively breaks all rules. We can rely on its malleability and patience, embodying an irresistible charm difficult to detach from: “I must keep writing.” Akin to vision, fantasy encourages long looks, offering more questions than answers. We must dare to move beyond what we think we know. In this issue, contributors have approached darkness and the unfamiliar with a storyteller’s faith, reaching for their voices. Some have just begun; others are deep along their journey. The spookiest thing we can do as human beings is to challenge muteness, to create art and to form connections, to tell. By the light of the moon, ask yourself: “What do I have to say?” Fiorella Morzi Editor-in-Chief
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NEXT ISSUE On the theme of “Style” Submissions due November 8 On stands November 20
COVER Art by NESS LEE In my wildest fantasies there’s no reason why I shouldn’t combine one of my favourite foods of all time with my favourite topics of all time: Sushi and Sex. Personally as an illustrator I have the most fun painting imagery about the humour in sex, and when it comes to fantasies, it gets even better. If you’re a dirt bag like me, nasty thoughts like these come naturally. I’ve just learned how to embrace it with illustration. Check out my web site for more dirty-cool illustrations! www.nesslee.com
Forces at Work JANET KWON
They were sitting in the setting sun, a rich golden that flickered across them. “What if reality is more movie-like than we’ve ever imagined?” “Our conditioning would be complete.” w
The Sailor and the Sea Serpent CATHERINE LUNDY
Moving in-between the sky and earth, sailors and their myths and dreams converge with creatures of their thoughts more real than worth the time to set course on the stuff of darkest fantasies of horror-milling dread berthed screaming in the depths of toil, sun, and rum-stunned minds made tough by reading stinging winds– but weaker still by tender memories of soft respite drunk in on days on land with the salt singing only faintly in their veins one such sailor’s voice pealed brightly through the depths beneath the ship on which he worked and caught the ear of Something by surprise– soothed and charmed despite mistrust of manmade things, the creature swam slowly closer to the source of her delight manifest in one man’s voice: he never saw her but she heard him, the rich contours of his voice slipping ever downward through the wind-caressing waves cloaking her more closely than her scales mirth, wit, hunger, strength and gravity seduced the creature utterly; she listened still more closely and swam drinking in the sound– too close! a sudden thunderclap and sheet of wind sent Something hurtling over the hull; dazed and mad to quit the hell of shouting men, the creature hissed and cast about the deck, sailors whipping out their cutlasses, rough curses punctuating prayers– caged by torches, Something bared her teeth
Sonnet XIX JOSEPH BRANNAN
When Letheâ€™s flow to blind Saharan sun Has shrivelled, dried, and Stygian waters dammed Beneath the yoke of industry will run No more, then might the masses, penned and crammed By all the worlds and words that still enthrall, Rise up, in all the panoply of the young, Consider the chains: apathy, the fall Of this once noble Promethean tongue. Perhaps furnished feathered words may wax bright Wings from this decadent despair, then will Self-centred thought give way to loving flight Set forth from labyrinthine hearts, until Might we loose these pinions, these ah! bright wings And shelter beneath them all Godâ€™s good things.
P. J. SMITH
Creation Myth BENNET CATCHPOLE
In the beginning, there was Darkness, and then, suddenly, there was Light. Darkness was afraid of Light and ran from it, and as Darkness fled, Light chased after it, and Light grew until it encompassed all that it could see, and Darkness fled until it was out of sight, and that was the first day. Now Light looked around at that which it illuminated, and above, saw a surface, and Light found it good and pure, and passed a hand through it, and named it Sky. Then Light looked below and saw a surface, and it was smooth and beautiful. Light passed a hand over it and named it Earth. Then Light looked further still and saw that, as Darkness had fled, it had distorted Earth’s surface with footprints, and had left huge, jagged uprisings in its wake. And in its hurry to escape Light, Darkness had stumbled, and had created huger rifts still, and when it had stumbled it had cut itself, and its blood had dripped in the rifts and had filled them. Even though Light tried to peer down, its glow could not illuminate the depths of the caverns and the thickness of Darkness’ blood, and it feared to go there and found them cruel and tainted, and cold and lonely, and it left them to Darkness and called them mountain and Sea. Now Light grew angry at Darkness for disturbing the purity of their world, and went searching for it, but Darkness knew that Light was coming and fled from sight to the far side of Earth, and Light followed it, and that was the second day. From then on, Light continued to search for Darkness, and he placed a great lantern in the sky which he called Sun, so that he might find darkness wherever it was and snare it. But Darkness feared light, and so he placed a mirror in the sky which he called moon, so that he might see Light approaching and could flee to the other side of Earth. And so Time came to be, and to pass, and continued on ever after. Now as Light moved about Earth’s surface, his warmth brought Earth into consciousness. And Earth embraced both Light and Darkness as her creators and took them as parents. Earth saw the failings of Light and Darkness, and the discord they had sown, and she wished to have children of her own, and to provide for them, and care for them. Earth hoped to show Light and Darkness of their failings, and to bring them together. And so, desiring children, Earth went to Sky and, partnering with him, gave birth to all creatures. These creatures roamed across Earth, and took a mate, and together went to the region which suited them best. The children gave names to these regions, and settled there, and soon came to embrace either Light or Darkness as their favourite and learned much from their chosen grandparent. Then Sky came down from his seat above Earth, and he spoke to his children, and named them. He taught them to live from their mother and from each other, and to fend for themselves. And after many years, he returned to his seat above to view his children, and to look upon them with pride. As time went on, Light and Darkness came to draw their grandchildren into their struggle; they spoke to them and whispered in their ears as they slept, imploring them to fight amongst themselves as a means of striking against the other’s favourites. The children did this and soon, war had begun between many of Earth’s children. This angered Earth, who had sought to unite her family, not to see them further divided, and at times, her anger would boil over and she would act against the children who had displeased her, shaking them from her back, burning them with her blood or blowing them with her breath. At other times, it was Sky who would become distraught or displeased by the actions of his children, and he would weep in sorrow or attack in anger as he saw fit. In a last effort to end the feuding of their children, Sky and Earth came together once more and created two special children in which Sky took particular pride. He gave them distinct titles of Man, and Woman, and into Man he put a part of his own essence, and into Woman Earth placed a part of hers. To these children Sky taught special things, and in turn made them special. And he told them that they would take care of their brothers and sisters and mother, and that he would be watching them from above. Sky told them this, and they listened, and they did not listen; he told them that if they failed to uphold this task, then he would come again to greet their mother Earth, and that united, they would exact a terrible vengeance. And so Time passed on. And eventually, after Man and Woman have failed in their task, their mother Earth shall succeed in hers and Light will find Darkness, and Sky shall be reunited with Earth, and all will become nothing once more.
Boundless and Bare MATTHEW MONTOPOLI
The man walked along the road, forward alone, passing little and seeing much. There was a forest up ahead, brown stalks silent in the air, leaves at the ground, piled from long ago. The man went through the crippled limbs head down, watching the cracks in the pavement and the way the paint had bent and flaked, borne away on weak winds. The traveler thought to himself, What if a great man had failed? The road withered away and a scene floated up: shining mud covered armor, bloodied shields, arrows sprouting from necks like wayward branches. On one side were these men, and on the other were bearded figures, axes and rounded shields, climbing over the dead. They looked brutish but moved precisely, keen eyes deep in their brows. One of them looked at the man as he passed and called to him in a foreign tongue and the man nodded back. And at the far side of the field lay a white horse and a dying man next to it, and the traveler kneeled there. The dying man was draped in a scarlet cape, leather armor cracked where an arrow had ignored it, and his balding hair and marbled head melded with the earth. The man looked up at the traveler and moved his mouth but the force from his eyes departed and his strong jaw went slack. The traveler continued on, leaving this scene behind, and exited the forest. What language would I be speaking now? he thought. What kind of place would this be? There was a desert in front of him, and it basked in the orange of the setting sun behind the traveller. To his side was a white column, tilted and cracked, and chunks of marble on the ground beside it. Its shadow stretched out, bending with the curves of the ground. More columns and walls stood solemn in this place, having held meaning but since forgotten. The man rested in these shadows until the sun set before embarking across the desert. In it, he thought to himself, What if there had been no cradles, no civilizations? He crested a dune and a village spread out below him. He saw small fires light drying skins and wooden poles and tents, and dark figures moving through them, and a baby cried and a mother shushed. As he walked past, the traveller looked up at another dune and saw a line of eyes, lit in the moon’s face, and he sighed and looked about. The men from the dune came down swinging clubs and stoned axes, and the people in the village screamed and ran, and tents burned and food taken, water used, until there was nothing left when the man crested the next dune and the village disappeared. What kind of language would I be speaking now? And where would this place be? In the morning he came to the end, the place he had been looking for. The soft lapping of the waves calmed him and he sat, although the water was grey and covered in ash. There was a fire down the beach next to him, just a smoking heap now, and the man went to it and warmed his hands. He smiled and looked about but there was no one and he chuckled and sat next to the burned wood, looking out to the end of this place. And if there had been no fire? Behind him was an embankment of tall rocks, and every so
often there was a cave. The man heard a hoot and turned to look, and from one of the caves a figure came out, haired arms low, jaw slack, eyes dull. He trotted out to the man, hooting and huffing until he stood tall and gave a shout and a pound of the chest. The man chuckled and stood as well, pounding his chest back, and shouting, “I am king here.” But the figure took no heed of his words and they shouted for some time, until a softer call came from the cave and the figure returned there, breathing heavy. Would I be speaking? Would this be a place? The traveler sighed and continued down the beach until he found a group of people behind a hill, tattered and weary like him. There was a squat boat in the water, tied with rags. The people turned to the man and called, and he told them he meant no harm. A man and a woman met the traveler. They were leaving, they said. “To where?” the man asked. “Somewhere. And if there is no somewhere, we’ll die quietly and happily.” This was the woman, and the traveler watched her. “And what of humanity?” “What of it?” “Isn’t there something we should do?” “It’s too late for that,” the other man said, and he pulled the woman away and back to the boat. But the traveler yelled, “We can try again,” and the dozen people looked at him. “We can do it all again.” After thinking and looking at the poor man, the woman said, “This is a place of single chances. We had one once, but it’s been spent.” She snapped her fingers. “Millions of years of progress, gone like this.” She shook her head and walked away. The man watched them go, and so he watched the last flame extinguish itself, with no turn of tongue to relight it. And he thought again to himself, about all the things that had existed, and felt good about them. At least we had done that. At least to him, there had been something worthy, maybe just some fantasy, some mirage of greatness. Behind him, the lone and level sands stretched far away, and the water offered no more meaning than that heap of dust, on this small rock.
Perfectly Still MATT LONG
The lake lay still in a way I never could. I sat uncomfortably on the wooden bench, overlooking the body of water. It mocked me with its sleek perfection. My legs jittered unconsciously. I chose the perfect time to come today. I tended to come whenever the others chose to. They guided their leashed dogs. They held hands with one another. The small ones rode by in gangs on their bikes. They chattered until they spotted me, sitting on the bench, watching the lake. I felt their stares latch onto me as they passed. I didn’t turn. They could stare all they wanted. I didn’t care so long as they kept walking. Sometimes though, there’d be a wise guy. He’d stand around with his dog, pretending it needed to shit. He’d keep his beady eyes on me. I wouldn’t move a muscle except for my wriggling legs. He’d never get closer than 3 feet. After a couple minutes, he’d say something like, “What are you doing over there?” I’d lower my head. I wouldn’t turn around. He didn’t deserve it unless I needed to. “Watching the lake,” I’d say. “Don’t you have something you need to do?” “Don’t we all?” It ended one way or the other. I preferred when they walked away. The lake rippled. It took so long for a lake to reach a perfect stillness that I couldn’t afford to wait until it returned. Yet, I didn’t want to leave. It rarely happened that I found the lake in such a peaceful state.
Minutes passed. I heard footsteps approach. I didn’t turn around. I kept my hands on my thighs and waited as the person approached. “What are you doing over there?” He asked, in a deep, stern voice. “Watching the lake,” I said. “Why?” I didn’t say a word. I thought that would get the point across. He took another step and broke the usual three-foot perimeter between them and me. “Turn around.” I hesitated. “Turn around and stand up.” I heard his sick breath panting out of the rank hole in his face. He clenched his mouth shut. His nose whistled. I slowly stood. My legs kept wriggling, causing a slight bob. I didn’t break eye contact with the lake. When I stood fully erect, the man approached. He got within a foot when he stopped harshly. His nose wrinkled. His hand shot up and shut his nostrils. “Please present your registration,” he said, “And stand perfectly still.” He waited longer than I expected before he repeated, “Sir, your registration. And stop moving those fucking legs.” I strained to keep my legs in motion while standing still. I couldn’t. I toppled over. “I knew it,” he said. I gazed upon the calm surface of the lake as the bullet burst through my skull.
Moon AMANDA COUTURE
My mother and I walked in alleyways and slept in swaying cornfields. When she died, she gifted me to you, my father. You did not want a daughter. You wanted a Wife. I danced a long dance in your shadow, my father. My mother taught me to dance in passing and to count every star. One night I counted the stars for you, my father, And you looked into my motherâ€™s eyes for the first time, And you weaved my night-time hair into ribbons, And you lifted me to help me dance, my father. My father and I ran on sidewalks and waded watery years. I can still see you, priest and warrior, my father. I was your Darkling Fairy. I was your Little Lady. You found me a crinoline white gown, my father. My childhood taught me to fight and to trust. Now I am in the sky, a white star, my father: Where my swirling ribbons are counted in your eyes, Where my hands are in your calloused hands, Where we are dancing unendingly, you and I. And the sidewalks and cornfields are dancing, And the Sun and the Lady are dancing, And I am your magic gift to the world, my father.
Energies KODY KOHL
Drink like you are on T.V. And cheat like a dramatist Begging for a star role in a Fictitious life, join the Proud buffoons dancing under Bright lights, vomiting trash; People who become exalted From the overabundance of, Or false merit of vices. Men walk by their feet Until they are tricked into Walking on their knees; too Easily is this contrived That the fantasy is, that, They believe they float three feet Above the ground. We eat our own flesh, Yahoos and murderers Of children and the falsities of Neighbors passes with Indifference over the Earth: The river has no need For words or your blood. So keep it. But, The state of poverty Does not have much real Connection to you and me. I mean that we really can see: Something we might want to rethink With that next profligate drink. Because, poverty, you donâ€™t have to Solve it when we are not the one Drinking solvents to get high. See, you just like me; I am never shorthanded For a glass of wine or a Cup of tea. See, for us It is too easy to forget, do nothing; Living some fantasy, Called being complacent. v
Another Journey ASHLEY NEWTON
The hands dripped with blood, A monster had not been salvaged Though its blood was too thick, too dark To be impure In the darkest entrails of night The shadow that leads the path The footsteps that follow the shadow Walk unevenly and leave no mark A light scent of snow hung in the forest Wondrous eyes gazed at frozen history Immovable like light in the blackness With a sigh that longs for a fire The shadow did not let the uneven footsteps rest It pushed against the white and pure snow Snow so pure it begged for defeat Snow so pure it fell like coaxed sugar That was when the shadow vanished At the turn of the trail, the end of the search The fallen demon staining the sweet sugar With sweet death It was heard that the monster Longed for freedom He simply believed in his dreams, hopes, and life Attributes so commonly human, but so rarely common for the inhuman ETHAN ELLIOTT-KILGOUR
Uneven footsteps wrapped themselves around him The beast could not relinquish his breath Violence spoke the words of liberation And carried the beast home in his blood But home was another journey These uneven footsteps were required to endure Another journey, another truth Another reason to believe in the sweet, sugary lie of dreams And the death of all that is commonly inhuman
REBECCA ALLISON Amongst the stars we dreamed We saw the beauty of the universe From our homes We saw as nothing became new worlds and lives Then as we saw no more to be born into creation We fell to the earth below We look to the stars for answers Yet amongst the world below We see imperfection Where we once believed perfection And to this end we create We aspire to bring beauty and perfection Within ourselves a light shines A phoenix awaiting its rebirth From ashes arises new flames And each flame burns a dream within To return to our place among the stars.
Music is My Fantasy JAMES BLAKE
Sometimes songs are just songs. Some meaningless dribble that some producer thought was perfect for the beat in question. It gets mass produced and within a few months every fad loving teenager is head-bobbing to the beat without realizing the song in question condones something they are completely against. But that’s only sometimes. Other times songs are much more than just songs. They speak to you in a way like no person ever could. The perfect match of lyrics and music captivates your soul for every single second and when the song skips a beat, so does your heart. That’s when you know you’ve found something special. Your very own conversation with humanity that no one else can understand because in that moment, it’s just you and the music inside whatever fantasy it invokes. Nothing else matters in that moment as it is just you and the infinite fantasy of music.
Making Old Bones ANDREW CRESSWELL
I walk as if lost, but heading in the right direction. A dog in the lead, stunted cedar and blueberry mix. The mesmerizing cadence of silver waves; Undulating liquid of pure light soothes me. Ancient grasses bend and hum in homage to wind and wave, While rocks - broken, half-buried - slam into places they appear not to belong. Glancing skyward, sorrowful, solitary sea-birds are competing for height, arguing in low registers. Underfoot simple pink flowers, gathered in great armies, stand erect in the sun.
Death is Magic JOSHUA HOWE
The Warrior frowned, his strong features prevalent as his jaw tightened. “You do not control destiny, Wizard, nor does anyone else. I’m afraid that if you get in my way, you will be the one in need of burial.” The Wizard gazed at him, tears in his wrinkled eyes, and struck the ground forcefully with the blunt of his staff; sparks flying. “I cannot allow you to go, my friend. I am sorry.” “Then no longer shall you call me by the name of friend,” the Warrior spat as he drew his heralded blade out of its golden sheath. “Say your prayers, Wizard. If I need slay you to reach my son, then I shall.” The ancient Wizard merely shook his head, his silvery beard blowing gently in the breeze. The Warrior stared at him with caramel eyes and drew in a deep breath, starting towards him; muscles ripping under armour as he walked. He raised his blade at once; high in the air. The Wizard looked up at the towering figure, his hoary body standing as tall as possible; right hand gripping the staff tightly. The Warrior hesitated a moment, eyes locked with his old friend, and then brought the blade down hard. CLANG! Forced back by a spell, the Warrior regained his balance and glared at the Wizard, who stood unharmed and sad. JESSICA ARMSTRONG
In time comes the death of all creatures, no matter how big or small. The Wizard knew this to its truest extent, though the Warrior did not. The Warrior saw death as an option, something that could be chosen; another path to take. If he did not wish to die, then he sincerely believed that he could avoid it. It was for this reason that the Wizard had approached him. He had known the Warrior for many, many years. “If you go on this final journey, then your death is certain. I have foreseen it,” the Wizard said. It was true, he had. It had come to him in a terrible dream in the middle of the night that shook him to his very core, forcing him to sit up in bed in a cold sweat, shivering and trying to expel the horrific images from his mind. But the Warrior merely laughed. “Dear Wizard, you are overflowing with worry and I fear that age may be distorting your clever mind. I shall not die on this journey if I do not so wish it. There is not a creature alive that can withstand the wrath of Haégsr!” He tapped the sheath at his waist once with his index finger. “You act rashly, my friend,” the Wizard warned, “I do not lead you astray. Have I ever done so before? Nay. I tell you that if you go to rescue your son, you will die.”
Vines erupted out of the ground suddenly, wrapping their tendrils around the Warrior’s legs and holding him fast. He struggled mightily but could not rip free of the growth. Lowering his blade, he was about to cut the vines open as he felt another pull on his body; this time coming from his left arm. Looking back, he was shocked to discover that a tree had a strong hold of his limb. It’s roots were wound around his muscles tightly, as if they’d been growing there their entire existence. “Wizard! Stop this madness!” The Warrior called out angrily, staring at the hoary man’s form as he felt his sword rip out of his hand and whizz through the air over to the Wizard. “I cannot, so long as you act a fool,” the Wizard muttered. A second tree had taken hold of the Warrior’s right arm now, locking him up entirely in a mass of vegetation. “Release me at once!” He roared. The Wizard just gazed at him sadly. “WIZARD!” The old man turned and began shuffling off in the opposite direction, heart heavy and shoulders slumped. If only he had listened. The pain would not be nearly as severe. But he insisted on saving his son. If only he knew. The Wizard looked up at the rolling clouds as he worked his way out of the Enchanted Forest, leaving the shouts of the Warrior far behind. If only he knew. The Wizard shook his head and muttered something in Elvish under his breath, then started the trek across the Greens to give the orders to murder.
Abra Cadabra BRENDAN FARDY Abra cadabra, I’ve got tricks up my sleeve Abra cadabra, here’s a thread for you to weave But no magic do you know, so you don’t know how to sew and you don’t know how to knit I make sweaters, scarves and quilts, better come get it And these items which I knit, come directly from the wool But no sheep here exist, so this yarn must come from bull It may not make sense to you, Nor did it add up to the last ewe Who was awake when counting sheep still yielded more than a few So now go back to sleep, or I’ll put you to bed Make you sleep in the stable with these domesticated farm animals which you’ll dread With the flick of a wrist and a tip of the hat, I flick your card out of the pile and aim it at where you sat Not where you’re sitting, nor where you will sit ‘Cause I flick cards with such force they reel backwards through time Shattering the laws of physics in silence like a mime We’re seven dimensions short of a feasible string theory Better yet make it eight because X, Y and Z are all that remain When I get time in my grips, and apply my lethal strain For there’s sand in the hour glass without a single grain And the ink blotches on this page don’t amount to much gain If tide detergent takes ‘em out, and erases the stain If the inked words are lifted out, by the hoist of some crane There’s only one street left to walk, and the road’s name is main But the streets are wet, from the water from the rain So you better watch your step, and you better check the lane Where the blind spot lingers, waiting to bring pain To the lunatics alike and the perfectly sane Because time links us all together in a coiled up chain But time keeps on ticking as sand behind a glass pane ‘Til time itself succumbs to death, becomes mortal and gets slain After all we made time up, to track our own disdain To lean on like a crutch that’s been swapped for a cane But again I remind you, of the magic which you lack No sorcery skills can you conjure, to defend from attack An impervious natures turns out, to simply not be your knack So turn around to your six, and watch your own back Because the wolf bites hard when it’s leader of the pack But the alpha male is the same, as the rabbit from the hat They both poof and disappear, and my magic does that ‘Cause the tricks are up my sleeve, and from there they deceive Now your countenance is puzzled, as though your mind’s been hacked But relax as you realize, it was all just an act.
Chapter One JANET KWON
It was a rich golden yellow, almost the honey brown of ale. In its wake, the yellow leaves cast the green ones into shame. For once, they’re the ones plagued by shadows and spoils. The breeze shakes the scene, the flickering shadows reminiscent of the days spent in the parks, a time when the setting sun was only a setting sun, and there was no real understanding of the end of a day. Cars whiz by on the nearby road. They transport us to those days when we walked alongside our mothers. And just like that, the melody of a vaguely familiar 90’s song starts teasing you, and you can’t quite figure out when or where the memory takes place. What you do remember is the burning desire to catch up to your mom, to not let her out of your sight.
“Hurry up, James!”
The sun beats on him from above, and the kids egg him on from below. James continues up the rickety steps. He nearly loses his footing twice, but finally he makes it to the top. He plunks down on the dusty wooden floor.
The shouting of children is noticeably absent. James notices a girl sitting in the corner of the tree house. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
So this boy is the next one to go, huh? Should I tell him how this goes down or is that cruel? He looks awfully young...
“Look, kid... I don’t know what to tell you except that you’re probably a goner.” “What... What do you mean?!” “I mean... Well, I don’t know what I mean exactly. But everyone I meet winds up dead. So, I figure, you’re no exception.” “No way! That makes no sense. I feel fine!” And he did. He could still feel the cold in the space above his ankles where his socks don’t quite reach. He could still feel the heaviness in his bladder from wanting to go pee. And still he could curl his toes, and twist his fingers. Boy, 8, falls to his death – Mississauga, ON (J. Smitty)
Yesterday, at approximately 5:30PM, a young boy fell to his death after attempting to climb an abandoned tree house. The child was at the scene with 4 other boys his age. They were unharmed. A memorial service will take place at Brixonnia Public School on Friday at noon... 19
DEARBHAILE HOUSTON Cut away the seams, we don’t need them anymore. Your hair – too long and in your eyes – it makes you look stupid and shy. It will look better on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor. You have lost the puppy fat. This is good. Your rough elbows and ribs are free to rise from thin skin. They will think that you are breakable. But we know. We know how hard your fists can hit, the way your skull can crack against things and not break in two. The bag is packed. The door is unlocked. No letters because you are not like that. Not sentimental. A letter means thought, it means caring, it means I’m coming back. Which you are not. No car, just your two feet to the bus stop. You could go by his house. Bad idea. He knew of your plan but thought it just another of your childish endeavours like faking a stomach ache or cheating on a test. Condescending, that’s what we said when you first saw him. You didn’t listen. You think of him tonight, maybe asleep, maybe at his desk reading, orange porch-light coming through the open blinds. Don’t think. It’s time to go. “How long can you hold your breath?” he asked. You are meant to be watching Mary as she flails around in the shallow end with the other kids. Instead you sink deeper into the water. You feel his hands press on the top of your head, keeping you in place. You do not struggle. He lets you go after a moment or two. Six days later, he kisses you, his pruned fingers grazing your jaw. A woman gets on the bus at the next stop. She is not used to public transport. Golden hair and a jewelry set. Three bags. She sits beside you, knots her hands and looks the other way. The steady run of the wheels lulls her to sleep. You dip your hand gently into her leather bag. You take her purse. She is still asleep.
You move beyond the kiddie pool (Mary can look after herself) and the no-running signs to the river. You cut your knee jumping over the fence. When you were younger you were told not to go to the river with its scum water and the moored traffic cones. A current could take a fancy to you and drag you all the way to sea. But not with him. He tells you about the Pacific. The fog and tiny crabs on the beach and the bleached light that stuns your eyes as if you’ve just walked out of the dark of a theatre. Three days and you already miss home. Not home but its embellishments-heating, your bed, the background noise of the television. We didn’t think you’d be this weak. But you are nearly at the sea. You are running out of money and worrying about where you will sleep when you have to leave the grimy limbo of the bus. Don’t think of the particulars, think of the sea. You have only known the mountains which are like the arms of a parent, keeping you in. Don’t go too far now. Think of the sea. Of the water rushing over you and your eyes shut. Of not being able to see beyond the black. The salt water stinging your skin. There would be a pressure in your brain and lungs as if somebody has just placed their hands on the top of your head. Your bones like driftwood. How long can you hold your breath?
On Bandits, Biology ALEXIS CASTROGIOVANNI
Trying to turn a thought inside out So the shiny underside of the skin shows And though sinister, The membrane tells a lot It is a map, a manifesto The meaning of your breathing in the dark Of holding onto your stomach With some shock of electricity running down the spine And it is true, that we all walk through life So badly mistaken Trying to be like ballerinas, when really It is the elegance of a surgeon That will do us best in the end.
Teeth chatter in our heads when the TV goes on That square goliath of impossibility Of any story being louder than our own. Classrooms and back seats fade actions into memories Far from the safety of a CD alone in my bedroom You come closer with your palms up, And into some warm pool, Some reflex that shakes the body from the elbow. Architecture that we build on my bed Arches unlike anything man ever built Sweat in the curves behind my knees And a fever that will bleed itself out, burn out all the bridges Every purpose under the sun boiling down to rosewater That they sprinkle on the graves in the late afternoon light, While they hum low.
Chess ANDREW SAVORY
Like a game of chess we are pawns, Moving from space to space, Place to place, Here to there. Oblivious to our movement between areas of black and white We accept the direction that we are going, And as we look to see that distant dim light, All we meet is the impenetrable knight. As the night closes in around us, The opportunity to acknowledge the gray fades, Our fantastical vision of a king and queen becomes a shade Of that which we desperately hope to become. Caught up in the game we play, Constrained by this board of four walls, Together we lose ourselves in the fray, Yet we fail to hear the pawnâ€™s faint call.