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Š2011 All Rights Reserved Literacy Journal Association. All rights reserved. Copyrights are retained by the artists upon publication. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the copyright holder’s express written permission. Cover and interior photos by Eleanor Bennett: Design and Layout by Dean Gallant at Pinwheel Design: The views and opinions expressed in All Rights Reserved Literary Journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial board. Please send submissions to: Please note, only electronic submissions in .rtf format are accepted. Visit for more information on submission guidelines and accepted formats for visual arts electronic submissions. Contact for all other inquiries.

Editorial Staff Ryan Jones, Managing Editor, Editor (Non-Fiction) Matt Robinson, Senior Editor Kathryn Bjornson, Editor (Poetry) Afton Doubleday, Editor (Fiction & Visual Storytelling) Sophie Henderson, Poetry Reader Dean Gallant, Creative Director

Board of Directors Ryan Jones, Chair Vincent McGillivray, Secretary/Treasurer Kathryn Bjornson, Member-at-Large Afton Doubleday, Member-at-Large Kristen Sutherland, Member-at-Large


Table of Contents Poetry


janitor Steven Mayoff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Big Cats and Vision Quests

Mystic Flu Julia Gordon-Bramer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Tim Mook Sang . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 A Conversation with the Late Edouard Leve

I Cut Back the Roses this Summer

Julia Gordon-Bramer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Meat and Potatoes

Teresa Tumminello Brader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Amy Jackson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21


Sidewalk Champagne Priscilla Atkins . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Canadian Maple David McVey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

Flaneuses Catriona Wright . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Clean Slate Sean Moore . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

Redux Rose Alessandra Simmons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Larvae Luke Jones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Jacarandas Bloom Alessandra Simmons . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Messages Ben Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

in bloom dana carly andrews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

The Date Sonia Saikaley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

saved string Jane Spavold Tims . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 body language Jane Spavold Tims . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Another Life Sentence K. V. Skene . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 In Halifax watching tourists Richard Collins . . . . . . . . 14 Maplewood Mud Flats Elaine Woo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Brain food Laura Lyall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

Spotlight An Interview with Chloe Jones

Kayleigh Robinson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Bios Artist Bios . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44



Steven Mayoff

the broom at prayer muted bristles between pews a soft itching in the brain begins as a whisper from the hollow nave a reminder of hair and nails inchworming inside a grave or nightcrawlers shaking every blade of grass to life pushing dust closer to the altar looking up at agonized shadings an eyelid’s grace a wood-curl of lip grasping the broom eschewing all images of shepherd’s crook or centurion’s spear to claim he is a janitor and this is a church and that is a crucifix perched high up an oaken idea of all that is pure and mighty dropping to his knees holding up the broom as an offering a rough recreation of the king searching the lunch pail for a thermos and stretching to tip a sip or two between ecstatic frozen lips returning the thermos for later rumination a little something to satisfy any late-night temptation feeling the back pocket for a pair of pliers solid in his trembling grip reaching to the carved hand and gouging the wooden nail with a single turn metal splitting wood another turn of the screw whittling out a withered shaving a breath tickling the janitor’s ear the pliers dropping and clattering to the floor falling into sawdust and gore awakening with brow gouged ruby-red to walk the darkened aisle passing through to another layer of loss and illumination no longer needing to satisfy any late-night temptation


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Mystic Flu

Julia Gordon-Bramer The cats are confused. A soft, padded foot smacks at my cheek, inquisitive claws catch, play in the tangle of my hair. They don’t know what to make of me here, face-down on the bathroom floor, moaning a sweat, heaving all evil. My guts are rearranging, recreating a larger, greater monster than we’d ever hoped to be. The cats chase their tails in the fun of dying me, lying on their level, in this new slower, lower place. My head is a dizzy, spinning, sunken sun full of glitter and cotton; my eyes can see just one dark path inside of me; my skin is joining with its shimmery doubles, dry to wet, heated to cool, true good and most evil—all illusion. And those cats! They won’t leave me, devoted tyrants, devilish appendages. I am protected by my four four-footed soldiers, patrolling water, counter, air and walls. My ego has been licked clean to new skin with sandpaper tongue. I am their Queen; Mother Feline, purged pure and they are mewing their love. How they love, how they love me, this new, flu me.


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I Cut Back the Roses this Summer in the wrong time, I know. Grown wild too long. The years of neglect, dry desert-choked blooms left so much for dead. Merciless, I was lopping off branches, arm’s skin torn by thorns, bleeding streams of dirty sweat. I knew back pain and bee stings, scaring off the lizards, shooing cats. I turned a confused, tangle of claws all dry as Sinai sand to smoothed burnt Egyptian clay.

Julia Gordon-Bramer

I thought, if they could last, so would we. The ancient gangly stalks stood naked, honest, ugly sharp sticks in that dry sea of weeded world. And in some months of golden sun, despite a few bad storms, they grew, fulfilled their lasting promise: blossoms. Scarlet moistened earth in our hands, the chance for beauty again.

A whole work day. A small price to pay to save the beauty rooted.


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Meat and Potatoes

Teresa Tumminello Brader

I pluck your words from the air, drop them in a pot on the stove. Full ripe sentences simmer on a back burner. You declare another obligatory departure, leaves crimple yellow, I discard. Licit courses snag my dutiful attention. Wresting free, I draw your bubbling forward, crack the lid, plunge a fork into humidity, sear to my lips a brussels sprout of sweetness.


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Sidewalk Champagne

Priscilla Atkins

Winged two-dollar bill flutters up-thelip of the tipsy guitarist’s bowler (here’s a tip: use a paperweight), fumble-tumbles past strollers downing sippy hazelnut lattés, like it wants to track its original owner (like, it wants—). Two blueshirt, blue-short boys blade-surfing cement make wind on their skin, two p.m.’s big fat easy. Lipsticked, thirty-something café “girl” (oh, to be her and the blue blur) under green-white-greenwhite-green awning yawns, pinches a petal—no, she’s feeding an Aspirin to the rose; a linen napkin day polished this way that way; over.


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Catriona Wright




You could never walk with wealth and leisure through Parisian Arcades

The city is a shambling graffiti mural, a damp malt gust from an open pub door. Grab your swankiest cane. Dandy your wrists with crass lace. What stray voices

Brisk with roving, we stroll from attention

or practice London with wandering curiosity. So now I am here to give you all those old tactics: a suave gait, aloof empathy. The elongated confidence and ramble of nineteenth-century narrators. I am here to erase all maps, all destinations. Together we will be crowded with impressions, lives.

to attention.

might heckle us in the Ventriloquist Quarter? What errant balls fell us in the Juggling District? Some neighbourhoods are a frayed Persian rug, a grease-nimbused breakfast. Others are water slides: murky elisions. Is any alley ever sufficiently forbidden? What lumpy tsunamis might slime us in Little Rice Pudding? Each strutting detour is a volition. My shirking Flaneuse, look around! Everywhere telephone poles gather layers, palimpsest, threnodies for lost pets, while in a hushed aquarium downtown, a dexterous octopus clatters four Rubik’s cubes in and out of coherence.


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Redux Rose

Alessandra Simmons

A gardener clips your dead heads guaranteeing you’ll bloom again. Bridesmaids & spring bouquets, Tournament of Roses Parade. Hidden tattoos, ceramic earrings. A curtain’s knit brocade. A rose is a ruse is arisen reprinted reposed. O thorn & petal. All is well that ends. But today a twelve-year-old girl learned, in pencil, how to draw your S curl— your compass resurfacing on her paper, your graphite smudged with her fingertips your most private curves shining thick—your stem, a single line, sickly, unbent along the page.


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Jacarandas Bloom

Alessandra Simmons

for Jen Chi Lee

On 8th Street, where the legless & drug-addicted mumble pleading eyes for the change in your pocket. On Raymond Avenue, where a teen shotandkilled sparked retaliation gunfire & prayer, we fast-forward to exhale: gnarled branches set loose a purple-blue. The sidewalk luminous with this syrup, this bubble wrap. A waterfall clipped to the trees, who have not forgotten it is Spring— wring us out, old dishrags, cleaned.


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in bloom

dana carly andrews

still, the feathers part & I am restless. he in the morrow will come creeping in (like leaves on porches, unwanted I sweep) I sleep in down blankets, a fort of sickness, I grind, I grind teeth to weak old chalk & grow roots, planted. and, too early I’m cut to matchwood, woken. he stockpiles questions in gunshot stutter (as soup cans are, for winter in cupboards)
I weep on down blankets a heap, heaving, I weep, I am bent over. he shoves & grows roots, planted.


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saved string

Jane Spavold Tims the mason jar on the shelf is stuffed with bits of string string from parcels and tags string saved for thirty years last night, I tried to call her didn’t want her to blame me for long silence string presses against green glass in loose coils and reels smooth yellow cord rough hemp some day, I’ll de-clutter start with the jewelry box sort chains and pearls turquoise rings and amethyst remind me of familiar eyes thin white twine to bind brown paper to truss the legs of poultry to weave between garden stakes train tendrils of pea saw him in the H1N1 queue nudging his brood I stayed at the end of the line so he could not see me seek immunity bits of string too short to be of any use at all saving string is thrifty and prudent but out-of-fashion


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body language

Jane Spavold Tims

the ditches spin threads across the road fine hair lifted from the shoulders laid across the eyes black ice waits this same wind stirs the surf at Torr Bay hurries me along the Diligent shore moves pillars of salt fog into Deep Cove lifts sand from the Cavendish dune but tonight wind lurks in the ditches disguised as woven snow my teeth are clenched with my right hand I grip the wheel my left remains unconcerned rests on my knee palm turned toward sky the radio is comforting bare centre strip snow-packed and slippery


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Another Life Sentence

K. V. Skene

Time grinds its teeth down to your latest argument, the assurances offered, the syntax overworked, leaving your nerves on edge. You set the table, light the candles, uncork the cabernet and three hours later each tick of the clock is slowly sharpening your tongue but the phone sits silent and you know‌ so you drink to the end of it— to unreasonable butterflies, unseasonable storms, greenhouse gasses, things that blow up in your face, the river rising.


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In Halifax watching tourists

Richard Collins

I walk out to blue steps heavy as a bronze icon Churchhill on Spring Garden Standing by park bench lovers my blue skin is splintering power dry granular layers cement cigarette smoke could dress me again, immense as the blue rug or bronze leaden melanin with a steel, wire spinal cord ferro-cemented tidal wave greenish-blue on the waterfront the turquoise gradations pacifies like sea green bristles a kelp olive caressing sweeps away chiseled skin cells the corrosive, jaded salt air foaming green copper sulphates pouring forest patina sheets as I sit on the blue steps watching all the tourists.


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Maplewood Mud Flats

Elaine Woo

At the entrance, a greeting from black bird sentries shod in red and yellow epaulets, backs rigid-straight. I whistle hello. Down the bramble-walled corridor to the surge of the tide. Meet with screams of wheeling gulls and shades of gray upon gray, a sky’s slate yawn, gravel paths underfoot, briny smell of sea shells. I’m one big shiver. Arrival at a lookout point. Hundreds of huddled ducks. As I draw close, their wings blur in one flapping mass, their sound a deck of cards being shuffled. Their exodus trips me.

High above, wings of an eagle slice through the charcoal maw, disappears. Privy to this glimpse, I glow warm, eyes moisten. I look back at the packed earth, tune my ears for my friend, a black-capped chickadee. The day before, she landed tiny before my hiking booted feet, cocked her head to view me, stayed and sang.


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Brain food

Laura Lyall

When I eat, you eat your way into my brain dusty mouth stuffed with cerebral heat, then I am reminded how you like your eggs cooked black. I trace roman arches of cold grease think of how your teeth age, decay. Your coffee always a murky bog, grinds stuck on your pink tongue eaten. When you gouge, peel the spongy fruit of my nervous system I am reminded how you like your women fat buckled. hungry for roundness, though your own ribs stick out.


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Big Cats and Vision Quests


he fall of 2007 was the first that I was not enrolled in school. When I graduated from university with my BA, English, I thought I deserved a break and took the entire summer off from any type of work. Come fall, I needed money.

A friend who writes for Legion Magazine told me they would pay $2,500 for a story on big cats in the Gatineau Hills. Like, tigers? I responded. I had lived in Ottawa my entire life and this was the first I had ever heard of there being tigers roaming the Gatineau Hills. But the magazine was certain they were there. The weather was uncharacteristically dry in Ottawa for September, so I set upon the job with all of the enthusiasm of an aspiring writer. I had always wanted to be a writer. There was something about surrounding myself with literature, as if there was some kind of mystery that, if I read enough books, could be solved. And since I was never going to read many books, I figured I would write.


That summer after I graduated from university, I told my dad that I wanted to be a writer. He told me there was good money in erotica. This capitalist response stuck with me not because I was considering a career in penning smut, but because of a coincidental conversation I had with a stranger a few weeks before. I was drinking a quart of Export at this local dive while waiting for some friends to get off work. Sitting at the bar, to my right, was a middleaged man–a fixture in places like those–with long hair, male pattern baldness and a goatee drinking Bud with Clamato at three in the afternoon. He wore a light denim jacket and similarly coloured jeans, and probably had something to do with the cocaine residue matted on the top of the soap dispenser in the washroom. He struck up conversation with me by commenting that he used to drink Export. Whenever he sees the label, he said, with the sailing ship, he is overcome by feelings of nostalgia. I was suddenly attentive to my new mariner friend. What exotic tales of the sea could he relate? It happened that he had none. What he did tell me, however, was that

Tim Mook Sang

the two most viewed media nowadays are video games and pornography; This ostensibly irrelevant fact, coming from the surly drunkard, carried a poignancy with it that clung to my memory and was still present when my dad gave me his advice. Like I now know of video games and pornography, multitasking is ubiquitous among my generation. Doing one thing is plain inefficient when you can do two. It is an attitude epitomized by superstores and iPhones, and it also applies to our approach to any kind of work. This article for Legion was not just a job. It was a right of passage. I would be moving from boyhood to professionalism. I had heard of a similar ceremony being performed by First Nations. They call it a vision quest. I did not know much about vision quests, vision-questing, or First Nations people and their ceremonies, but the premise of it all seemed simple enough. All I had to do when I was looking for big cats in the Gatineau Hills was not bring any food or water, not wear shoes, and eat a bag of mushrooms.

Preparing for the expedition took a couple of days. Combining the assignment with the vision quest actually cut down the amount of woodsman planning previously required. I no longer had to bring a tent, or any supplies for that matter. I did, however, bring a steak. But it was not for me. The meat would be used to lure the cats. Google searches and Wikipedia provided all of the information I needed on big cats and the Gatineau Hills. Supposedly, and not surprisingly, it was not tigers or cheetahs or any kind of cool safari cat I was to expect. Big cats common to northern North America were lynxes, which I had never seen battling crocodiles on Animal Planet, so knew nothing about. The mushrooms were substantially more difficult to obtain; in our digital age, authenticity is sometimes hard to come by. The guy I normally went to for that type of thing did not have any. But he turned me on to a guy who turned me on to another guy. I ended up having to drive out to Stittsville. When I got there–some square vinyl trailer that took half an hour to find because it was down this gravel path

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that I drove past but thought was a utility road, and may very well have been–the dealer turned out to be this young hippy who, after inquiring what I planned to do with the mushrooms, insisted that what I needed was peyote, yet did not have any. He sold me the mush. Back at my parents’ house where I was living, with all of my ducks in a row, I took a steak from the fridge and left a note that said I was borrowing a car for a couple days. In the Gatineau Hills, I parked in a lot by a small lake. Water is a good reference point. Like the cornerstone of great civilizations, this water would sustain me, and I would develop myself around it. I was certain this was what everybody did when they went on their vision quests: found the water and stayed there until it was a reasonable time to go home, long enough so that everyone would think they had roughed it in the bush and no one could question if they were men. I have heard of more demanding rights of passage. (There is this one community in which, when you come of age, you have to strip bark from a tree and make a rope. Once the rope


is made, you have to climb to the top of the tree that you used to make the rope, tie the rope to a branch and around your waist and jump off of the tree hoping that the rope does not break. After all of this, if you are not crippled or dead, you have to paddle ocean waters in a small boat– like a canoe –and use your rope to lasso a shark. When you bring back a shark, you are a man.) And I had no intention on doing any of them. Orange and yellow had begun to arrive in leaves, but the forest was still densely populated by green. I opened the trunk and sat on the bumper to take off my shoes. When I threw them inside, I noticed a bat in the trunk. It was a Louisville Slugger, something from my childhood that had found itself stored away for an unsportsmanlike use. I took it out, figuring it would also be sufficient for big cats. I closed the trunk. The steak was tucked in my back pocket; it was a thin strip loin covered in plastic wrap. I had a Moleskine and pen in my side pocket, which I always carried. I ate the mushrooms. I walked to the lake and, kneeling to it, cupped

water to my mouth to wash the shit down.

and dirty. I tiptoed, mindful of the ground in front of me.

I walked a kilometre surveying the land.

I stubbed my big toe on a rock, creating a gash that bled heavily. Like a World War One soldier, I worried about infection; I could die out here in the pothole trenches of modern life. Sitting on a fallen tree, I tended to the wound by grabbing the toe tightly and squeezing it until not as much blood escaped. The toe and leg attached to it did not look like they were mine, like I could remove the entire limb like a prosthetic. (Upon further consideration, I decided not to try).

The mushrooms stirred. I veered from the path but tried to stay close to the lake. Cats drink too and, when they did, I would be on them. But then I threw up from the mushrooms. Paranoia settled in. I had a chemically intoxicated feeling, like poison was trying to escape. My sweat stank of fungus. I realized I had no idea what I was doing or, besides a big cat, what exactly I was looking for. Scanning the ground for tracks, I saw only Nike’s. But animals are all the same–leave out food and something will show. Remembering the steak, I took it from my pocket. It felt cold and raw in my hand, so I punched a hole through it with a stick. Using the bark of baby trees for string I fed through the hole, I tied the steak around my neck. The strip loin hung like a fleshy spoil of war. It had not rained but my feet were wet

This was my vision quest, I figured, and the visions were through someone else’s body that was actually mine, and seeing myself as they must see me if they were me. I had to write this down. I took the pen and notebook from my pocket. When the blood from my toe clotted like ink, I dabbed the tip of the pen in the wound and documented what happened so far: I was shoeless in the Gatineau Hills, high on mushrooms with a raw steak tied around my neck and a Louisville Slugger in my hand. Everything was going according to plan. I put the book and pen back in my pocket and continued my quest.

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I again began to walk, and things started to come back to me that make a story. I remembered facts I had studied before embarking on my journey: another term for bobcat is lynx, the Gatineau Hills are the northern edge of the Ottawa valley, the colours of big cats in pictures. In the pictures on the Internet, I could see the city. I surveyed the land. Only trees. I started to cry. Maybe it was the thought of dying, of being an article in next week’s newspaper with its story saying nothing of my epic cultural odyssey and the—often disregarded by the public—inherent dangers of being a journalist attempting to give that very same public a genuine story on which they could rely. There would be a picture of me underneath the headline, and there aren’t any good pictures of me.


What was I actually doing in the Hills? So far, the job had cost me money. The magazine was not going to pay me for a story on big cats with no big cats, and I spent $30 on the mushrooms. Then I started to laugh, hysterical laughter, until I suddenly heard something from the woods, a stick breaking. Was it a lynx? Maybe, but I was not going to risk my life to find out. I struck out sprinting and screaming back from where I had come. A couple of minutes later I was at the car, catching my breath as I sat shoeless in the driver’s seat. On the drive home, I decided to forget journalism. The money really was in porn.

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A Conversation with the Late Edouard Leve


hen I was six I spent two years collecting erasers in a peanut butter jar then ate the entire collection. The large pink dollar eraser was the worst. It never feels like summer until it is really hot and I’m in a basement watching cartoons, which is how I spent the best summer of my childhood. I went to Brownies in year 3, where the girl living in the house behind mine, in the woods, told me to get her help, that her dad wouldn’t let her mom leave the house. My mother didn’t want to get involved in private business. I don’t remember seeing the girl after that. In my early twenties I spent a couple of weeks in hospital for a nervous breakdown. There I met an obese man around thirty years old who kept telling us he knew a major secret and everyone in town would know soon enough, and I believed him. I like the excitement of natural disasters but empathize with the victims. When I was eighteen I scraped the word love into the bottom of a candle and floated it down a stream; a book of


magic told me it would bring me my one true love. A year later I met my husband and moved to Australia. He was twenty-six and I was nineteen. He was my fifth boyfriend. In Tasmania, at Port Arthur, I saw a flash of light over the hospital ruins that no one else saw. The guide made me write it down in a book and told me it was a ghost. I love my family but don’t like most of them. I remember the gravel embedding in my soles as I ran for help when my father tried to kill my mother. A stitch formed in my side and I had to skip towards the house where I babysat so I could call 911. I thought my lack of fitness was going to get my mother killed. I never saw my father cry except the day he shot our black lab in the head down by the river because it didn’t love him. I love my husband but always picture the possibilities of his death. Thoughts consume me and won’t stop until I think of the colour blue. I’m an insomniac and have been since I was ten. Singing loudly makes me feel happy. When I took Effexor I had vivid movie-length dreams; they had better plots than

my novel. But when I’d wake I could never remember them. I play the flute, clarinet, and somewhat the guitar and bass but the only instrument I ever wanted to play is the piano. My mother used to think I was my grandmother reincarnated because I always wore gloves and a hat to church until we stopped going when I was seven. People treat me nicer, especially my mother, if I wear makeup. People like my eyes but in them all I see is my father. I am very sensitive but hate to admit it because I think it’s a weakness. Over my lifetime I’ve only had a handful of close friends, most of them who resemble me. In university I took existentialism and the instructor developed a crush on me online. I am loneliest when I’m in a group of people and have nothing to say to them. Christmas music makes me happy. When I was five I stole a pack of stickers. The neighbour kid ratted me out when I wanted to share them with him. I love travelling but love seeing my photos of my travels more. I need praise from people I admire or I quit and move on

Amy Jackson

to different things. I lived five years in a brand new town that was situated on a migratory bear path. The dollhouse my father built me I used as a spaceship and pretended to be an astronaut. Nothing satisfies me more than making ugly things pretty. My idea of pretty is different to most people’s. I’m more of a cat person. After coming home from the lake, I found my first horse lying on the ground; I held her head in my lap and watched her eyes roll back in her head. It was dusk and I cried for help but none came. I consider Melbourne home and didn’t want to leave. Now I lie in bed and shut my eyes and pretend I’m in my Melbourne apartment on Carlisle Street, the one above the coffee shop I love. I pretend I can hear the number-79 tram clunk past and picture the way my room feels and how the furniture is laid out. For three weeks every Saturday I watched a man shit in our neighbours’ trashcan then wipe his ass with garbage. He was cleanly dressed, alone, and around thirty. Before I left Australia I had nightmares of waking up in Canada.

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Now in Canada I have dreams about waking up in Australia. I never seem to have enough money no matter how much I have. I’m more afraid of failure than I am of dying. I have written my first novel nineteen times and still fear it’s not perfect. It makes me happy to see my stories and poetry in print even though I don’t think any of it is good enough. Something major is boiling inside me, something important, and I am afraid I won’t find the key in time. One of my best friends is someone I met at a writing residency. We’ve only met a few times face to face. My aunt died and no one found her for six days. There wasn’t a funeral because her family ostracized her for being overweight. I’d like a baby even though I never thought I would want one and because it’s not cool to have kids. My husband has nightmares about me not changing diapers and social services taking the baby away. My therapist said since I was having trouble writing my novel, write it for her, which I


didn’t like. Now all she talks about is my writing and the problems keeping me from writing are too trivial for her to discuss. The thing I despise most about people is hypocrisy. I’ve always owned at least one animal. I resent my animals when I can’t go away because of them. When I was seven I dreamed of a murder then saw it on the television a week later. People view me as a nail and themselves a hammer. I’m trying to change that. One time I scratched my arms so bad they scarred. I didn’t know why. Now I do. I don’t attempt to hide the scars. I became a vegetarian at ten but can’t digest most vegetables. I can only drink gin and tonic without ending up in the hospital. In high school people thought I slept with people when I hadn’t. I believe in a god when things are either really good or really bad because I don’t feel I or humanity is capable of producing either effect. African-American slave/racist movies make me nauseated and horrified but I love the idea of the South. If it’s after

midnight I watch black-and-white horror movies (pre-1960). I enjoy nineteenth century Russian fiction more than contemporary fiction. No matter how much I weigh, I always feel too heavy. I’d love to live in France but I don’t think it’ll cure my sadness like I hope it will. Paris is my favourite place to visit. I was almost given a scholarship for photography but wasn’t, so I gave up altogether. Approaching thirty, I feel like an underachiever and it’s too late to figure out what would make me successful or happy. I think most thirty-year-olds feel this way. My father once sat at our kitchen table tapping a screwdriver on the table repeating, “it’s coming, it’s coming.” I don’t like it when good things happen to bad people. I spent fifth grade talking with a bad English accent. I can perform in front of thousands of strangers but not my family or friends. I walk around naked in my house even though people can see me through the windows. And I am glad I don’t

know how my life will go, because I’d probably be too disappointed to continue to slog it out. I think being a writer gives me too much time to contemplate. That is when I find life unbearable. For better or worse, there is someone to stick it out for. Disappointing that someone is even more unbearable.

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Canadian Maple


t’s like Piccadilly Circus,” said Mr Thornhill, shaking his head. The Thornhills lived in a prosperous corner of Surrey and knew London well, so no one doubted the aptness of the comparison.

The Thornhills had arrived that morning on the Sleeper and were quickly whisked to the house by taxi. I’m sure it was their first time in a council house, and they must have been surprised to see how many people could fit into one, even one as spacious as ours. It was only two days before the wedding and a constant procession of neighbours dropped in and then back out again after being supplied with tea and cakes by Mum. Wedding guests arrived off each successive train and bus and, after a cuppa, were sent to one of the rooms upstairs or directed to some other home that was putting up people. By lunchtime, Mum had prepared a vast pot of mince and was serving it up, with heaps of tatties and peas, to all-comers, late-comers, guests, neighbours and some people who’d already had lunch. The chatter


David McVey

was loud and punctuated by gales of laughter while, in the corner, Dad concentrated on the telly, cranking up the volume when the talk got too loud. Sarah Thornhill was the bride-to-be my brother Duncan had met in London. Her wide-eyed parents continued to look stunned as they struggled with the accents of the people introduced to them and as a constantly changing mix of people crowded into the front room. “Is it always like this?” Mr Thornhill asked me, confidentially. “Yes,” I said, “only more so when there’s a wedding.” Now, some 30 years later, I stand in the same room which is now bare, cold and silent. When I move, each step clatters on the floorboards, echoes, erupts. Each closing door sends a thunderous fusillade of sound through the building. Yet there’s an airiness, a sense of space, a feeling that, after forty years of being smothered beneath thick carpets and heavy furniture, the house and its rooms are breathing again.

It had been one of the first council houses to be built west of the river and Dad, then a driver with a local haulier, had taken bricks and cement, gravel and sand, slate and timber, to the site. It was the last year of the war and he also drove along narrow roads that spiralled high beside teetering drops, deep into wooded hills to the camps of the Canadian Forestry Corps. He would emerge again hauling loads of pungent, resinous pine logs. The Canadians were a rough but hearty lot and Dad enjoyed his visits there. Once he arrived only to discover that his load wasn’t ready and he’d need to stay overnight in one of accommodation huts. A large building served as the dining area and dad was sent there to sample a lumberjack-sized meal. Serving behind the counter, amidst the steam and the food smells and the rich odours of earth and timber and sweat, was a local girl. Dad knew her vaguely and they chatted as she served up his massive portions. He found out when she would next be back in town and arranged to meet up with her.

“And that’s how I met yer mam,” he would say in later years, on the many occasions when he told the story. Mum was a collector, a hoarder; she loved salerooms and charity shops and car boot sales and stashed her many purchases up in the attic, in the builtin presses, in cupboards all round the house. “It’s a skip they need tae go in,” Dad would often say. “Och, just watch yer telly,” Mum always replied and carried on polishing her apostle spoons. When my parents had grown old and frail, I moved back into the house to ensure that they could stay together and at home. Mum died soon after and the house was suddenly emptier and quieter and laughter was a less frequent visitor. Dad urged me to get rid of all the accumulated stuff, the physical sum of their life together. But I could only begin the task seriously after he, too, had died. Slowly I emptied the cupboards of hundreds of items; little china presents from Ayr and Nairn and Blackpool, gilt picture

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frames with faded snaps of forgotten, unrecognizable babies, cheap glass vases with plastic flowers still inside, souvenir spoons and thimbles, enamelled boxes and inexpensive ornaments of glass and china and tin. None of them were valuable or beautiful, or suggested the work of a dedicated craftsman. I packed them, along with the memories and associations they evoked, into plastic crates and took them to the same charity shops and salerooms many of them had come from. Mum and Dad’s old clothes went to charities but I managed to sell some of their dark, heavy 1950s furniture. In time, all the rooms were equally gaunt and silent. Only the carpets remained and they were so patchy and worn, all the life trodden out, that I decided to remove them. And when the first of them came up, I struck gold, a sudden vision of hidden treasure and beauty. The floorboards were intact, clean, beautiful, a rich hue like golden honey. As I looked at them I remembered


Dad saying, on some long-lost occasion, “The floors in aall these houses are Canadian Maple. There was lots of it going at the end of the war. Aall the houses here got it, aye, aall of them.” When Dad had delivered the building materials for these houses, he hadn’t known, of course, that 20 years later he’d move into one of them. I was just a toddler when we flitted, from a smaller house on a newer council scheme about a mile away. I remember, as the youngest, being allowed to sit in the cab of the removal van, high above the streets, feeling like a queen in stately procession; I even waved to passers-by. At the new house I clattered up the stairs before the carpets had been put down, rejoicing in the racket and the rhythm. I didn’t have the eyes, then, to appreciate Canadian Maple. The last Christmas dinner in that front room is a precious memory, now, even though at the time it had seemed a sad parody of the riotous festivities

of earlier years. Duncan and Sarah are in Australia, while my sister Dawn is rarely in touch. So it had just been me and Dad sharing a small piece of turkey breast. Dad laughed when I recalled the Christmas when we had to haul every available table and chair into the front room. There had been Mum, Dad, me, Duncan and Sarah, the Thornhills, Dawn and her husband, Sandy and their two teenage children, Ryan and Jenny. I remember Mr Thornhill remarking, hesitantly, “I say, do you really think we’ll all get in here?” “Och, aye, it’ll be fine,” said Mum, thundering into the room bearing four plates piled with turkey and roast tatties and vegetables. “We’ve fed mair than this in here!” The tatties and veg had been Dad’s work. Both front and back gardens were furrowed and fruitful like a small market garden. He watched all the TV gardening programmes and shook his head sadly in disagreement with the

methods they recommended. Once, Mr Thornhill had admired the garden as Dad showed him round. “Dae ye grow a lot of veg yerself then?” Dad asked. “Er, no, just flowers and shrubs, that sort of thing. We have a gardener who does all the hard work.” “Aye, we have one o’ them as well,” said Dad. “Me.” When I started showing prospective buyers around the empty house I felt like I was trying to sell some secret part of myself, rather than a heap of brick and timber that I didn’t need any more. Most people were sympathetic when I explained it was the house I’d grown up in. One couple, with a three-year-old, had seemed interested and so had a young Asian couple, both of them nurses at the hospital (“Guess how we met!”); the girl was a few months pregnant. I’d love either of these bidders to succeed, so that the house could return to the beginning of

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the cycle with new children growing up knowing its peculiarities and smells and sounds and sharing in family festivals and events. Then I showed a local builder round. He was a brisk, no-nonsense man who talked of alterations and conversions, extensions and renovations, of buying-to-rent. He tugged at wires, poked power points, scraped at exposed plaster and squeezed a small screwdriver between the floorboards of Canadian Maple. I winced at each aggressive, intrusive gesture but, of course, in his mind he was merely examining lifeless things. At one point he asked, “Your folks bought it through right-to-buy, then?” “Yes, about 20 years ago.”


“Tidy profit, then. Good investment, that.” He was missing the point so much that I didn’t bother to reply. I thought of the two young couples, and knew, somehow, that this man would eventually be the successful bidder. And I felt a new sense of loss. Now I’m waiting for another viewer to come to the house and I’m walking from room to room, checking that everything is clean, ready, empty. My footsteps resound on the golden floorboards and echo back from the bare walls. The house has been depersonalised, robbed of its history, its character hidden—apart from the Canadian Maple.

I see pity in people’s eyes when I tell them about my mum and dad. In fact, they both passed away peacefully in hospital, but I still experienced a sense of failure that they had not been able to die at home. Yet as I look round, even though the house has been rid of their furniture, their clothes and knick-knacks and decor I think that perhaps something of them, of their loving spirit, some echo or memory, remains here within the austere silence. I hear the familiar chime of the doorbell, amplified by the bare walls, and I clatter across the Canadian Maple towards the front door. There’s a human shape visible through the frosted glass. I pause, consciously trying not to listen to the things in the house that call to me, and open the door.

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Clean Slate I The top of the ravine where the next shot was being set up banked the grounds of the Royal Provincial Museum. The long rolling lawns which were pristinely manicured during the spring and summer were now draped in a four-foot layer of snow like the icing of a grand, rich cake. The sun had been out all morning and honeyed the snow to a wet cotton-candy consistency, and you could just drag your hand through and retrieve an instant compact scoop. Spend a minute rolling it to a glassy smoothness, and it was ready to fly. Hard to resist conditions for any snowball addict. The crew spent the hour before lunch dodging snowballs from the famous screen actor. Like the others, who were pretending not to notice the hard packed snowballs whizzing missilelike though the air with terrific velocity, Rusty ducked a fast one, narrowly missing his head and slamming hard into the side of the wardrobe trailer. Twisting away, he shielded his eyes from the showering shrapnel of ice and fought to set up the video monitor.


Sean Moore The screen actor was a New Yorker and immensely famous, the talk of the town for years to come in this medium-sized prairie-city where they made this bomb, who would describe the city with one distanced adjective for the late-night talk-shows: “cold.” But for all that yet to come, for now the screen actor was not a bad shot and would have hit the majority of his targets had they not been so agile. For what might otherwise have been a refreshing ice breaker, had graduated from playful to irritating to stressful in little time. The snowballs had bore down on the crew with such a menacing speed and force as to stir up that, somewhat repressed these days, fight or flight autonomic response. The assiduous crew, who neither flew nor fought but just continued working, were sitting ducks in the eyes of the famous screen actor. As Rusty stood by, for the most part watching the bombardment, he considered his promise to his girlfriend. He said he would talk to the screen actor, try to reach some kind of truce. Now, it seemed, was his definite best chance. He looked up at the sky, dotted with puffy clouds like exploded popcorn with extra butter.

II Not long before, Rusty sat with Daria, a slightly waifish girl but for her exceptionally big cheeks, who was his best and only girlfriend and who was a geophagite. It was the first time they spoke that day and she began with, “So how is it going with-,” when he pressed an index finger into her pillowy, muddied lips, and grumbled, “Don’t ask.” Daria finished swallowing a mouthful of costly Mississippi soil and reached for the glass of turbid water on the table between them. As she drank, Rusty watched the grit wash clean from her mouth. It was just that he’d heard the question enough times already. So what’s it like working with a movie star, his friends and family asked, one of the finest and funniest thespians of American cinema ever? Rusty’s stomach groaned when he looked down at his plate of sprouts, a thimble of hemp oil sitting to the side. Daria was constantly cleansing. Liver cleanse, colon cleanse, kidney cleanse. Mind and body and spirit. She was a strict vegan and focused acutely

on her PH levels. The first week of every month was a painstaking festival of alkaline foods: broccoli, kale and Swiss chard, Brussels’ sprouts. And that was dessert. Daria went so far across the cleansing spectrum she came around the other side: eating dirt. “He called you a fairy, again, didn’t he?” It’d been happening as matter of course over the last two weeks, the famous screen actor calling Rusty a fairy. It might’ve had something to do with the way he had held the slate. His wrists weren’t sturdy. They tended to bend over time with the weight of the thing. “Tinkerbell. Pixie,” she said to goad him. It was sort of true though. He was magic, in a way. Or at least, he could see in the dark, and very well. Could see like a blind man, maybe better. Could see like that for a long time now. It all started in the darkroom. Like being trapped in an elevator during a power outage, he learned to deal with the dark under intense conditions. A jammed magazine could

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lock him in there for what seemed an eternity. A collapsed core would unspool and it could take hours winding it back. Rusty knew he had to be patient and careful in the dark. He learned first to see with his hands. And after a while, the darkness pressed into a current, slow-moving like up-hill flowing streams he could sense more than see. He learned to trust the dark. It was peaceful and focused, and it was always cleaner than the light.

“You should grieve. You should sue. Promise me you’ll put an end to this name calling.”

“Nip it in the bud. Or else it’s going to fester.”

“I don’t know.”

“Can’t work in a peanut-butter factory if you’re allergic to peanuts.” “How are you going to stand up for me when you can’t even stand up for yourself?” She had a point. Daria frequently needed defending, and Rusty had altogether stopped coming to her rescue. It was always something, an off-handed remark, an inside joke, subtleties: a bowl of top-soil next to the humus and pita, plants hidden in the cupboards. Cute at first.


“I promise.” “If grown men can’t stand up to prima-donnas and fairy-bustin’ movie stars, how on earth can they stand up to dictators and war criminals, arms dealers, drug cartels, corrupt politicians?”

Daira sucked up another handcupping of dirt, stretching out her cheeks. She closed her eyes, and for a moment, resembled an earthworm. He had worked in the dark long enough to see that dirt had become a new religion. You had to eat dirt to get clean; you had to wage war for peace, dissonance for harmony, conflict for salvation. Rusty didn’t want to fight, not with anyone. He wanted to preserve what energy he had left and enjoy the weekend. So he agreed. He would have a discrete word with the screen actor the next best chance he had.

III While Rusty contemplated how to best approach the screen actor, the portly director of photography from Bellingham walked through the crossfire and was instantly hit in the face, sinking to his knees. The screen actor cried out, “Sorry sir,” and after that, the snowballs stopped flying. It was over. But Rusty had lost his chance to act. The scenes that took place next on the skating rink were difficult. The slippery footing around the famous screen actor was treacherous. Becoming increasingly impatient and prone to outbursts, the screen actor abused the ADs, derided the director, chewed out wardrobe and swatted hair & make-up around like fruit flies. And just when the irritated actor’s nerves were completely frayed, it was Rusty’s turn to step-up and hold out the slate in front of his face and call out the information written on it, the alpha-numeric sequence, without stammering. This is, of course, where Rusty’s troubles with the famous screen actor all began.

Clear and exacting words were the aim. Like a high-diver hitting the pool’s surface with barely a ripple, the best Rusty could be was near invisible. The actor shifted his weight, teetering on the verge of another snap. It appeared there were too many things looking to sabotage his concentration. Rusty crouched in the wings and waited for his cue. Everything was set to go, but he was nervous. It was amazing, he later would think, how the very simplest of tasks could become unnaturally difficult when so much depends on them going well. Rusty grabbed the slate off the camera cart, looked down and saw the word: fairy. Good grief, he thought, rubbing the slate with the spongy eraser on the end of his marker. He was horrified to find that the ink would not rub off. He tried using isopropanol and Kimwipes. It still wouldn’t come off, and he started to panic. They were about to roll. His heart skipped as he went to find the first camera assistant.

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“Someone wrote this with a permanent marker.” Rusty showed him how it wouldn’t come off. The first camera assistant took a new non-permanent marker from his own bag. “You want to see a magic trick?” He smiled and popped the cap. The sharp smell of fresh marker stabbed Rusty’s nostrils as the first camera assistant filled in the whole surface of the slate with solid black ink. Then he took a towel. With each wipe the surface of the slate came away clean, bright and white, just like magic. The script supervisor called out the numbers, and Rusty wrote them down. Scene 2E, take 5. He stared at the E. He forgot what it stood for. Of all the hell to be in, why such an idiotic one? Sure, he could replace the standard word with many others: Epsilon, Ether, Edward. But such an unprofessional deviation might throw the screen actor off. It might become a knot in his mind and tie up his performance, what might have


otherwise been that award-winning performance. And if he should flub his lines, substitute the name of the character Richard with Edward only because it had been so cruelly dropped in his mind’s reservoir, it would all be Rusty’s fault. The screen actor might not even notice where it had come from, just that something was amiss and that somehow that fairy of a clap-boarder was responsible. Alpha, baker, Charlie, ran through his head, stopping suddenly. His mind, blank after delta, was like an asthmatic jogger trying to win a race. The screen actor, who was sensitive about his thinning hair, stretched his neck. He was becoming impatient with the hold up. A hair light, “of all the kinds of light,” was being quickly set in place. It felt like he’d been waiting all morning to get the scene over with. The DOP from Bellingham ran up to him and measured the light hitting the back of his head. “Let’s get this done,” the screen actor sing-songed. “Where’s that fairy with the clapboard?” Rusty rose from his spot. He chewed

a piece of minty gum methodically, cupped a breath-filled palm over his nose to make sure he was fresh anyway and discretely smelled his underarms for any offending odor, which would be thrust in the screen actor’s facial region. Then they locked it down, called out: picture’s up, and Rusty stepped towards the screen actor, careful not to make eye contact. He lifted the slate square with the camera lens and the first camera assistant gave him the thumbs-up. And then he heard the magical words: roll sound…speed, roll camera…rolling… It came out clean. He said it with stealth and precision, sounding expert to his own ears. Echo, echo, echo.

IV It was late and the lights were off when Rusty pushed open the door to his apartment. It’d been a frightfully long day, so he made his way im-

mediately to bed. He was under the covers before he noticed that Daria was not lying next to him. Briefly, he wondered where she might have been, but then sleep quickly took over. As he entered the hypnagogic state of sleep, Rusty saw his befreckled, gingery namesake, the beer-guzzling son of the famous screen actor’s most beloved character, flying on a pair of wood-panelled wings, lamenting his dead dog and grandmother. When he awoke in the morning, the spot next to him was unwrinkled. He sat up with worry. He wandered through the apartment, half-hoping she would be hiding somewhere. When he walked into the kitchen he saw the note on the table. Rusty sat down in the chair and read it. Daria had left for a retreat into the Grand Canyon, to do some advanced cleansing. She was going to be adding a special kind of rock to her diet, a slate. She had even talked about it a few weeks ago, saying how some people went too far. There was a special machine that pulverized the rock into a fine dust and when mixed with water it made an edible paste.

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He read the postscript. Daria said she was on a permanent vacation. The darkness told Rusty she had met someone, was cleaving a nice clean piece of slate. Rusty set off to his last day of work, fighting the urge to eat the note.

V The final set-up, a scene in a television station, the weatherman worried, a blizzard on the way. Giddy with anticipation, the crew were red-eyed, had been working for almost 18 hours. But there was energy in the room. It was the “window shot,” which meant the very last one. In a few minutes, it would all be over. Rusty was careful to close the sticks down gently, one last time, in front of the aging face of the famous screen actor, and he then moved swiftly out of the shot, back behind the camera to watch the film counter on the magazine bob its way toward empty. He looked at his stopwatch, and he watched the gears of the magazine turn and listened to the faint thrum


of the film moving inside through the hectic path of rollers and spindles, a spellbinding sound that had a way of lulling him to a place of false security. He thought about the negative, scaling through a garden of gears like a snake, a wet-looking dry skin moving across the gate of the camera where it became tattooed with light, life and story. He thought more about gardens and snakes, and then gnomes and fairies. He thought about fairy godmothers, in particular, how nice it would be to really have one. And as the scene played out, he entertained the idea that everyone had a fairy godmother of some sort rooting for them, the entire crew, even the screen actor, despite his downhill career. They had been anticipating the moment eagerly, when the director cried out, “Cut!,” with gusto. There was a quick collective intake of air, but before they could bellow out a hearty cheer, they heard: “Don’t Cut!,” a shout from the famous screen actor, now turning from his surprised co-star and looking directly into the camera, the crew behind it. “I just want to say what a privilege and an honour it’s been to work with you

all in this very cold place. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hard work and determination, your talents and good humour, and I want to thank you all for making this such a wonderful experience. Except for the fairy with the clapboard.” Laughter and cheer cascaded as the film rolled out. While everyone shook hands, Rusty carted the magazines to the truck.

VI He was alone when he shut the door to the darkroom and laid that final magazine out in front of him. Turning off the light, he exhaled and relaxed for what felt like the first time all night. Finding the locking mechanism, he removed the lid and slid his fingers across the tight roll of exposed film. It contained all the last scenes of the shoot, which would amount to some of the most pivotal scenes of the finished film. It represented the total time, labor and artistry of the whole day, and more. Its worth was immeasurable. He thought about the legacy, of not just the screen actor, but of all

the artists tied to that very roll. Right now, it was everyone’s baby and he was the lone obstetrician in the delivery room. He thought about the many sequels to come, the award-winning performance, the walk down the red carpet. He thought of the famous screen actor’s acceptance speech. But when Rusty considered his own legacy an unusual thing happened. As his eyes burned in the cool dark and panic boiled over in his stomach and fear and dread pounded through his chest, a trembling hand lifted from the exposed negative and shook toward the switch. When frosted light sliced through the dark, Rusty thought he saw the split-second transformation as the life-painted coil of negative turned solid black. He could almost hear the searing of the celluloid. The antiseptic pungency of the chemical reaction, filling the small closet of a room like freezing water in a punctured submarine, numbed his senses, spun his mind. It smelled like suicide. As he popped the stillbirth off the core and canned it, he thought about Daria with her belly full of rocks.

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Luke Jones

Joey: A gangly thing dangled between two wooden columns, old and fraying twine, slender bamboo stalks cut like the pipes of an old church organ, clattering whenever the slightest breath of a breeze swept across the porch; a wind chime or so it was meant to be. It was a gray morning. I had risen earlier than anyone else in my family. Nestled comfortably in the lap of an old rocking chair, I fished the wheat pieces out of a bowl of Lucky Charms. I thought of Cesar, how he’d eat only the marshmallows. But that was all I was willing to remember of him at that moment. A puff of wind startled the bamboo chime, and it chattered excitedly like an old woman shooing away a puppy. I noticed an object attached to the largest stalk, an earthen tube crammed into the aperture, a wasp’s nest perhaps. As I rose to examine it, my mom opened the front door, and Angie, her chocolate lab, spilled out onto the porch, toenails click-clacking on the wooden planks. “Mornin’, Joey,” my mom said as Angie licked me excitedly.


“Good morning,” I muttered. Mom ran her fingers through her sleep-ruffled hair, coaxing it into place. She looked out over the marsh that butted up against the front yard. A pair of egrets strolled through the cord grass, white ovals with slender necks, too distant for their spindly legs to be seen. “My, it’s gorgeous out here,” said mom. “Wish we owned this place.” “I suppose that’s what a vacation’s all about,” I said. “Gives you a slice of the life you wish you lived.” Mom nodded. “Me and your sister are gonna run to the store. Would you mind taking Angie for a walk?” “Alright,” I said. My sister, Darlene, emerged, combing her damp, shoulder-length hair. A boney fourteenyear-old, whose green eyes peered through clumps of mascara, she was dressed in her usual outfit: spaghetti straps and short shorts. Mom handed me Angie’s leash, and I attached it to her collar. My mom and Darlene climbed into our family’s mud-stained minivan. I watched it amble down the

dirt road that ran beside our vacation rental, kicking up a cloud of dust that lingered lazily for a minute or two before settling.

front, tossing a football. They must have been brothers; same jet black hair and dark eyes, same high cheekbones and square jaws.

Cesar. He entered my head as Angie bolted out into the road. I held her leash as if it were the string of a kite wheeling in a gust of wind, though I nearly forgot she was on the other end of it. The meandering dirt road was too much like the one at the military academy. I broke into a jog, and the imaginary Cesar ran beside me. We were at the rear of a line of sweaty boys, each with a tidy crew cut capping his scalp. Breathlessly, Cesar echoed the cadences of the drill instructor. “Get the hell away from me!” I shouted. I stopped running and the boys darted on ahead of me. Cesar glanced back at me. There was a heaviness in his dark eyes that I had never noticed before. Suddenly I was alone again with Angie, who was taking a number two beside a scraggly mimosa.

They both turned and looked at me. “Hey,” I said without a smile.

We passed another vacation rental, a white-trimmed cape cod with a pier in the backyard that jutted out into the sound. Two teenage boys were out

“Someone yelled ‘Get the hell away from me!’” said the older one. “Was that you?” “Yeah,” I nodded, “some stray dog was following us, getting mine all riled up.” “Oh,” he said, tossing the football to his brother. I kept on walking, resisting the urge to look back at them.

Cesar: “My name’s Cesar,” I say to my new bunkmate, holding out my hand. “Joey,” he mutters. His hands are cold and his eyes are icy. Frigid gray eyes, the colour of a winter storm. Joey. An instructor buzzes his hair into a crew cut. Clumps of orange-red falling on the floor. I don’t care about any of this, his eyes say. I refuse to care.

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When they cut my hair, I was angry. It was long, down to my shoulders. Do you know how long it took me to grow my hair out like that? But there was this sense of freedom in it, too. Like I was letting go of something I was tired of holding onto. Everything has meaning to me. Everything symbolizes something. I wonder if other people look at the world that way. Sometimes I wish people could see my childhood home. The place my mother rented after she and my father split. If they could see the tear in the screen door, the dirty brick steps, maybe they’d understand me. If they could just see the black iron railing, maybe they’d excuse me for turning out the way I did. Joey follows his parents as they tour the academy. His shoulders are hunched and his arms are crossed. They are pointing and cooing at everything like a pair of tourists: the cool and musty stone chapel with its gothic windows shaped like rocket boosters, ready to blast off into the late summer sky; the parlors adorned with solemn portraits of the same old man and woman I swear I’ve seen gracing the walls of every funeral home and


old-timey eatery I’ve ever been in; the cafeteria where the faint scent of ammonia lingers over the tables and chairs; the classrooms wallpapered in periodic tables, world maps, and posters of presidents; and finally the dormitory with its sturdy bunk beds and tidy desks. My mother had, after finishing her tour, placed her hand on my elbow and whispered to me You’re going to love this place! as if leaving me here was the most wonderful thing she could possibly do for me. I had a dream one time that I was naked. I know, I know. Everyone has those dreams. But mine was different. At first I was ashamed, and I tried to hide. But everyone else I saw was naked too. They were all just standing around, sharing their deepest darkest secrets, telling them like they were a locker room joke, or a bedtime story, or something. I wasn’t ashamed any more. I began to say everything about myself, to say everything I could possibly think of, not caring if it was bad or good, wrong or right, sensible or nonsense. It was a declaration of independence, a middle finger raised to fear and embarrassment. I woke up feeling free.

Joey is an egg that won’t crack. The more he clams up, the more I want to pry him open. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just bored, or curious, or nosy. I do know a few things about him, though. We were both dealers before being sentenced to this shitty military academy. Small-time middlemen, but even that had given us a sense of power. He was a mercenary; I was a missionary. Only in it for the money, he had smoked a few joints, but that was it. I’d tried everything I could get my hands on. “Joey,” I whisper. The lights are out, and my fingers explore the wood grain of our bunk bed. “Ever think about the kids you sold to? I think about them sometimes. Maybe they ended up just fine, got accepted to some Ivy League school or whatever. But maybe they didn’t. If I got them started, is it my fault if they’re all strung out in some alleyway?” “I don’t ever think about those kids.” Joey replies coolly. “Wherever they ended up, it was a result of their own choices, not mine.” I hate this place. But you know, maybe I’ll emerge from here a better

person? I hope so. I really do. I hope Joey does as well.

Joey: The dirt road ended, becoming the gravel driveway to a grandiose gated mansion nestled among clusters of live oaks on a narrow point of land. A gentle wind flitted across the sound and the muddy islands that lay beyond it, stirring sea oats and the leaves of the scraggly oaks. The sky overhead was a thin gray, and I could see storm clouds rolling in from the ocean. I started walking back toward our rental house, tugging at Angie’s leash, trying to pull her away from the new world of smells she had discovered. We strolled past the brothers again. This time, I didn’t even acknowledge them. A black cat was rubbing its body against one of the Japanese maples that guarded the front of their driveway. Angie barked excitedly, straining at the leash. The cat froze for a second, and then took off running, inviting Angie to come bolting after it. She jolted the leash so hard that I planted facedown into a gravely patch

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of the road. I could hear the younger brother laughing. In an instant, the older one was at my side, helping me up. I wiped my wrist across my nose and saw that it was smeared with blood. “Son of a bitch,” I muttered. “Would you like to come in and wash up?” the older brother asked me. I shook my head. “The house I’m staying at’s right down the street.” I said, turning to walk away. I called for Angie a couple of times. Finally she came trotting back over to me. I grabbed her leash and took her back to the house. After letting her inside, I washed my face under a spigot by the porch, rinsing off the caking blood and dirt with a stream of sulfur-scented water.

“You know you’re not allowed to make phone calls,” my dad said, repositioning himself on the couch, “and I especially don’t want you talking to your old friends, you hear me?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Just a friend of mine’s mother.”

“Yeah, I know, Dad. I won’t do it again. I promise.”

Hello? she had answered.

I stepped back out on the porch. There was a broom with a hollow metal handle leaned up against the banister. I took it, walked over to the wind chime, and crushed the bottom of the wasp’s nest. A gooey liquid oozed from it. I broke more of it apart. Inside were fragile, black, pill-shaped cases, one of which had ripped open. A white wasp larva, strange and alien, seemed to stare at me, its eyes, unable to blink or close, dazzled by the bright sun. Exposed, it was already dying, its body not yet prepared for this unexpected world.

Hello, is Cesar there? Who’s this? Her voice had sounded sharp, bitter. A friend of Cesar’s, someone from the Academy. Cesar’s dead.

“I heard you talking on the phone last night,” my dad said to me when I came inside. “Who were you talking to?” He was sprawled out on the couch, resting his head in the palm of his hand. Gray hair poked through his fingers like weeds sprouting between the cracks in the sidewalk. The TV was on, some older show playing, Ozzie and Harriet, I think it was.


likely, some voice whose face she didn’t want to imagine, let alone see.

“Look me in the eye, son.” My father demanded. My eyes wandered stubbornly, the back of the couch, the stubble on his chin, the flecks of green in his irises, finally resting on his pupils, which punctuated his lecturing gaze like two periods. “Who were you talking to?”

A click, the soft hum of the dial tone. A minute must have passed before I set the phone back on its cradle. I had read the story of what happened in the tone of her voice. An overdose. Cesar’s mother had found him lying in his room, lifeless. I was just one more person for her to blame, another punk-ass teenage drug addict, most

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Ben Murray


ou. Three letters, then the period. That’s all. The snow bank onto which someone had carefully traced the letters presumably with glove-tipped fingers in the January chill gleamed in the early morning sun, and I wondered how long it would take to become snow-blind standing there following the dips and curves and outstretched arms of the You’s characters. The anonymous writer. Someone in the neighbourhood? An office drone briefly embracing eccentricity on the way to one of the anonymous glass towers downtown? A homeless person? Kids? I was at a loss, and I loved it. I loved the mystery and I loved the author’s word choices. After the last snowfall it had been Being? and the previous time the uncharacteristically verbose Time is up? followed by an arrow, pointing up. I looked around. Not a soul. Not even a single car churning up the brown-sugared street, spinning its wheels in the unlucky road snow, the snow that just missed coating cosseted boulevards and lawns by a few feet. I looked at my watch. Still


early. I fished out a pair of sunglasses from my jacket pocket, not wanting to put the snow-blindness theory to a test. I figured that now I looked too cool to be some nut mesmerized by a snow bank. Now I was a cool guy mesmerized by a snow bank. The glasses indicated intention, resolve even. There must be something pretty heady about that snow bank for that man with the sunglasses to stare at it so. I smiled, my eyes moving back and forth from the You to the nearest picture-windowed home front, imagining unseen figures standing behind the glare-suffused glass and murmuring to one another about the mysterious man in the sunglasses staring at the snow. Perhaps the author him or herself was standing there, brimming over with pride that they had drawn such a captive audience to their work. A rapt, cool fan. What more could a writer wish for? A dog barked, once, twice, three times, a high-pitched yip of a sound which seemed to originate from somewhere indoors, from within one of the houses lining the street, perhaps. A

little schnauzer maybe, perched on a windowsill, its small furry form stretched forward as if ready for takeoff, its little wet nose leaving smudges on the glass, the man in the sunglasses so close, yet so far. I wondered. Was I truly living in the present moment right now? No past, no future, no memory, no planning, the You before me free of any associative baggage. A reminder maybe to breathe in the moment, the outstretched arms of the Y embracing snow banks, roofs and tree canopies, stir-crazy dogs, the world entire. I brought my arms up, mirroring the Y, the tips of my gloved fingers a few feet closer to gods and vapor trails, the street light’s Wellsian, looming eye. Hands up. I come in peace. Snow yoga. My raised arms took me to another level, I knew. From intention to potential insanity in one swift muscle glide upwards. You. Are crazy. Only a crazy person would stand before snow bank graffiti, arms outstretched as if caught mid-flap. A man either about to pounce upon or disembark from the earth.

I closed my eyes, the shaded white of the snow an afterimage somewhat lightening the pupillary dark. The closing of my eyes all the fuel and force I needed to lift me upwards. A man about to take off, then. I flew, hovered really, maybe a thousand feet above the city, before zooming down through a kind of Google Earth plunge through the stratosphere, the troposphere, into the tidy grid of square and circle and line. There was the street, there was the motionless man in the shades, there was the You. A dizzying descent, and yet I craved more. I wanted to burrow deeper, into the snow, into the altered snow of the You, to ride its curves and lines, skimming the declivities and slopes like a luge racer in slow motion, a sightseeing luge racer. But I could only stand, a few feet above the snow bank, its mysteries intact. I felt conflicted. I relished the mystery, but I also longed to become it. Man dives into snow bank, never to surface. I opened my eyes. Even with the sunglasses, the white world was a bright flash against my retinas. My

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arms had begun to tire, and I let them drop to my side. I looked down at the snow, half expecting the You to have vanished, my reason for being at this particular spot in life no longer traceable, excusable. “Hey!” A voice from behind me. I turned. A woman was standing by a parked car, a red daub across the street, keys in her hand poised to unlock the car door. “Is there something wrong? What are you doing?” I removed my sunglasses, as if to assure her of my benign intentions. As my eyes blinked in the white glare, I saw a woman in her fifties, a professional woman in a smart black winter coat and slacks. Her manner was brisk. Standing there, awaiting my response, she looked like she had only a given number of seconds for me to assuage her fears, to assure her I wasn’t a threat to neighbourhood normalcy. On a whim, I decided to be mischievous. “My dog is buried in the snow,” I shouted, pointing to the snow bank.


“I’m waiting for him to thaw out.” I couldn’t be certain, but I thought I heard her mutter an exasperated “Fuck off,” before opening the car door and getting inside. I put my sunglasses back on and turned back to resume my study of the snow bank. As the car sped past behind me, I imagined the woman extending one perfectly manicured index finger from behind the car window, flipping me the bird from within the security of her scarlet Lexus. Or perhaps the same finger was punching the tiny letters on her Blackberry keypad, calling the cops, informing them of the loiterer, the threat to neighbourhood equilibrium. I wasn’t in the mood to sit across from a bored desk cop with projectile caffeine breath, so I decided to leave, taking one last lingering look at the You, imagining my eyes having lungs, breathing in the sight with deep vitreous inhales, filling capillary and nerve. Where would I go? I’d already reached a kind of destination. The You would almost certainly be the highlight of the day. I considered turning back the way I came, retracing my size 10s in the

as yet un-shoveled walks. I liked the idea of my tracks leading to the You, then stopping there. I could perhaps even walk backwards to complete the aesthetic effect, but I knew this would be pushing my luck. I didn’t have much practice walking backwards, and I’d want to do a neat, traceless job of it, and that would take time. No, had Lexus Woman actually called in about the suspicious character, I’d be caught for sure, a potential thief or stalker hopped up on something or other, a speed-freak in reverse slow motion. So I walked on. Briskly. Like a man deadlined, scheduled. A block away and I already missed You. I looked to my right, to my left, scanning snow bank and windrow for another message. Dribbled yellow holes the only marks in the virgin whiteness. Another message, but meant for dogs, not men, for dogs to sniff out sex and health and age. Dog ID. I considered going to the office. It was presumably still there, my name presumably still written small on the embossed door plaque. I saw myself pass Karen, her eyes agog, fingers poised over her licorice black Dell

keyboard and staring at the prodigal lover returneth. I luxuriated in the imagined moment. It would be almost worth it to shock her implacable facade, phasers on stun. Almost. The relished moment would quickly pass and then what? The tedium of explanation, of reconciliation. I did miss bits of her: her wry sense of humor, her laugh, the usual suspects of legs and tits. But not the strained attempts to not cling, all that effort put into ensuring the affair remained casual. A Canada Post van sped by, a red and blue paint box colouring the white world. The driver, a man in his thirties maybe, sported a wall-to-wall grin, a streak of teeth glimpsed behind glass, and I wondered what could be so amusing so early in the morning. I imagined the back of the van, brimming with brown parcels, each about to find a home; the rewards of someone having let go. Maybe the guy was just tickled pink to be the messenger. Or maybe it was the end of his shift, the promised lands of sleep and televised women’s beach volleyball scant postal codes away.

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I’d walked maybe a half a block further when I heard the crash behind me, a shriek of metal against metal followed by a deafening silence. I turned, saw the van jammed up against a lamp post , the vehicle halfway onto the walkway, a suspended front wheel spinning. I ran towards it, thinking how important it was not to slip in the snow and deflect attention from the main event up ahead. There arose voices, shouts behind me - the neighbourhood had been rudely awoken - but the path was as yet clear before me. I would be the first to reach the scene. My mind flashed a series of horrific still images: a blood-spattered dashboard, the postie’s twisted body slumped over the steering wheel, his grin rictal now behind shattered glass.

single word neatly scrawled in a snow bank directly across the sidewalk, a few feet from the van: Listen. I listened to the pounding of my heart, the muttered “Fuck you” of the woman earlier, listened to the sound of the van smashing into the lamp post, to Karen’s laugh, to the rasp of the dented red and white driver’s door as I forced it open now. Kneeling down, my head against the dead or unconscious postie’s uniformed chest, I listened for signs of life: beats, breaths, my own urgent Can you hear me?

The van had jumped the curb at the end of the block across the street from me, and I bolted across the road now, bee-lining towards it. Up ahead it was eerily silent. Steeling myself for the worst, I slowed down to a walk a few feet from the still vehicle, the spinning wheel a slowing twirl now. As I took a deep preparatory inhale, my eyes fell upon another message in the snow, a


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The Date


Sonia Saikaley

hrist,” Ben muttered, wiping the blood from his chin with a towel. He held the razor again in his shaky hand. “Steady now, go easy. Remember what your old man said when he first taught you to shave. Go slow and easy. Don’t rush. This isn’t a sprint. Nothing could be so urgent that you have to butcher your face. Slow and easy, son.”


Leaning into the mirror, Ben held the razor close to his chin and tried again. When he felt another tremor rise up his arm, he stopped and put the blade down. It had been two years since the car accident. He had grown a beard. It was just easier this way. He looked down at the scars on his arm and remembered holding Sherry for the last time. Tomorrow would’ve been their tenth wedding anniversary.

He wiped his eyes then picked up the razor. As he shaved, he wondered if Sherry would mind that he had met someone. The doorbell suddenly rang. He smiled and thought she’s always punctual. Like Sherry. “Be there in a second,” he called out. Now with steadier strokes, he finished, wiped his face and went to answer the door.

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Spotlight on Chloe Jones

An Interview with Chloe Jones Kayleigh Robinson: When did you write your first song and what was it about?

Chloe Jones: My first song was written when I was quite old actually, about 18. I think it was something really depressing about the sky being grey. I can’t remember exactly but I have a recording of it somewhere and it wasn’t very good. That was probably my first pop song.

the whole class. And we then had to use that music software called cuebase. You can basically just plug in your keyboard and make a complete pop song, add drum beats to it and record your voice. It’s all do-it-yourself nowadays. I learnt how to do that when I was about 19. Then I got all the software at home and just kept on doing that myself and just everything myself until I met some musicians I could work with.

KR: When you first started, what did

KR: Do you prefer working solo or

you use to record yourself?

with other musicians?

CJ: My mum and dad got me this

CJ: Definitely with other musicians;

4-track recorder. I just used to play the piano and record different layers of it trying to make songs out of it. I used to do that for hours. It was really basic. Until computer software came out. Then I got some of that and I started recording everything on the computer and it’s just amazing. I went on a course on how to do it.

they come with different ideas and it definitely makes it a lot stronger. And it’s a lot more fun, too. At the moment, I’m working with this guy called Matt Fudge and we’ve come together and formed a band called dreamplane. He’s a genius at all of this stuff. He invents sounds and records them. So, we’ve joined together and we’re recording stuff. We’ve literally just started this. We’re just recording now and trying to get a track up soon online. It used to be, up until really recently, just me. Chloe Jones on my own sort of with musicians backing up, but now we’ve combined and it’s great.

KR: Did you take any classes in school to help develop your music?

CJ: Yeah, in England I went to this music school called ACM and I went on this course. I was the only girl in


Kayleigh Robinson

KR: So you’re planning to continue with the duo for the next while?

CJ: Oh definitely. I’ve never met anyone like Matt. I feel so relaxed around him. We’re both really similar and we work really well together. I’m just so lucky to have met him.

KR: What inspires you musically? CJ: I suppose the music I love inspires me most. I love Radiohead. I really like Swedish music at the moment, Lyyke Li and this band called Niki and the Dove. I really like the sound, the electro-synth-pop kind of sound. David Bowie and Prince, a whole mixture of stuff. I’m influenced by everything. I’m really into the new sounds that are coming out at the moment. My sister has introduced me to rap, mainly Kid Cudi. I love that. Even rap inspires me. The way they phrase their words, I think it’s really powerful.

people and different things happening, every experience I have just really inspires me.

KR: You travel a lot; do you think that adds to that inspiration as well?

CJ: Yes, my family has travelled a lot. Especially moving here, it’s so different and I’ve had so many new things happen to me such as relationships, break-ups, some bad things, and some good things. It’s usually the bad things actually that inspire me more in my songs. I’m trying to draw on more positive things lately. I’ve got a few more uplifting songs that are coming out.

KR: Where is your favourite place that you’ve been in your travels?

CJ: At the moment, I would say


Montreal. It feels very artistic there. The buildings intrigue me. Some of them are falling apart but they look really cool. The graffiti there is so cool. I just love walking around the city; it makes me feel really good.

CJ: I’d say fashion and just the

KR: What has been your favourite

people around me in general. When I go to different places and see different

place to play in Halifax so far?

KR: What about non-musical

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CJ: The Seahorse Tavern, just because I’ve had some good nights there where there’s been lots of people and the energy’s been really great. Also, I played in this art gallery on Gottigen Street called 2053. It’s this new art gallery and it’s a really cool space. My friend called Nick Everett, he’s a songwriter and he had a CD release and it just had a really cool feel. It was a great space and the people there were really into the music. We didn’t have microphones or anything. Nick’s got a new EP coming out soon. We’re doing another concert together in the future with a symphony orchestra, hopefully at the gallery. He’s really cool.

KR: Do you enjoy the symphony? CJ: I never really imagined myself playing with them but they came up to me and said they were planning on doing a concert, their first pop kind of thing, and asked me if I was interested. I didn’t know what to expect or anything. They were really great. They’re going to score all my songs, I believe. It’s just going to be an amazing experience I think.

KR: What instruments do you play? CJ: Piano. I was trained in classical piano for years. I thought I was going to stick with that but I edged more towards techno and pop. I teach piano


at the Maritime Conservatory. I still love classical music, especially piano. I learned a bit of guitar and violin as well, but I’m not very good. I’ve recently gotten a glockenspiel. I love creating unique sounds. I sold my keyboard and I got a synthesizer and I’ve been enjoying playing that. You can do so many cool and different things with it.

KR: Are there any instruments you want to learn to play in the future?

CJ: I’ve always wanted to learn a wind instrument, like the saxophone or something. I don’t know if I ever actually will pursue it. I’d also just like to get better at the guitar.

KR: What would you say are some underlying themes in your music?

CJ: I suppose life in general. Time is a big theme in all of the songs. Memories, love, lust, especially time because we’re living in this under-the-clock world. That also is a recurring theme. And also, the end of the world is kind of coming into it a lot.

KR: You mentioned you’ve recently been writing songs, what have they been about?

CJ: One of them was about just living in the moment and taking it slow, not rushing everything. I just

sometimes feel like I get so caught up in everything, and everyone does now and then. People just aren’t thinking about what they’re doing right now. So I wrote a song about that. Another is called “Face the Fire” which I’m recording tomorrow. It’s kind of intense and about how you should just face your fears and embrace the moment without getting caught up in the past and future. Both songs are about just being in the moment. I feel like when I’m playing, being in the moment is so important so that you’re not anywhere else, you’re right there focusing on the music.

KR: Do you think growing up in England had an effect on your music because of the culture there?

CJ: Yes, and not even just the music, but where we grew up (South London) is a real diverse culture. There’s such a mixture of ethnicities, and people from the entire world are living there. It’s kind of rough; it’s not particularly that nice. But actually being around that is kind of inspiring. You can experience a lot without even really trying. The school I went to had a huge mixture of backgrounds. It’s definitely inspiring. But then coming here is great too. It’s really put things into perspective and I realize where I’m from and I’ve experienced a lot of new things here and different people. So I’d say every experience that I’ve

had affects my music. I suppose I would be a different person if I’d grow up somewhere else. But growing up in London definitely helped build what I’m inspired by.

KR: What is the amount of success that you want to achieve?

CJ: I’d like to be well-respected in what I do. I’d like for people to enjoy the music so that I’m inspired to continue with it. I’d like to be able to carry on with what I’m doing and not have to have like a full-time job. I don’t want to have to teach piano anymore. I want to continue on with travelling to experience things. I don’t really want to be famous or anything. I’d like to just be respected and to feel good about what I do.

KR: Is there anyone you want to collaborate with?

CJ: I wouldn’t mind collaborating with a rapper. I just think that would be kind of cool. Actually, we’ve had a few people asking to remix stuff. I’d be interested in remixes and stuff like that. I don’t have any yet but there’s this guy who does all these cool remixes of local artists and he contacted me recently. I’ll probably do that in the near future.

KR: If anything was possible and you had a dream collaboration, who

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would it be with?

CJ: Thom Yorke from Radiohead, that would be really cool. He’s the musician I respect the most.

KR: Is there anywhere you’d like to perform?

CJ: New York City, California, somewhere really weird like a cool underground concert. I’d like to do a secret show where you have to follow clues to get there. Also have shows in the woods, or on the beach. I’d definitely like to maintain intimacy at the shows, though. As soon as you get too successful I think some of your integrity can be lost with it. I’m really aware of keeping it small. Working with Matt now, I’m trying not to include too many people because it’s so strong with just the two of us. The most important thing to us is people liking what we do in music and doing the best we can with it. Then if success comes with that, it’s great; but if not, at least we’re really happy with what we’re doing.

KR: When do you think your new music with Matt will be released?

then after two weeks release another. We were going to do another EP but our style is constantly changing, so we decided to do one song at a time. So instead of releasing one body of work every 12 months or so, we’re doing it this way. The online songs will be free; people give their email address and we’ll send them the audio file.

KR: Are you playing any shows in the near future?

CJ: We just got accepted into the Music Nova Scotia music showcase, which is in November. Lots of people from the industry go to that, so that’ll be exciting. We’re hoping to go on a mini-tour somewhere. But basically I just want an excuse to go back to Montreal. Next year after we’re done recording, maybe go back to England. In May we went to England and played a few shows and that was really fun. Lots of people at those shows were doing similar stuff to what we’re doing and there’s a real electro theme there so we’re thinking of going back there and spending more time. Maybe we’ll rent a place there and stay there a few months and play a few festivals and just have fun.

CJ: Hopefully, the beginning of September. We’re going to record a bunch of songs and we’re only going to release one song at a time online. Let people download the song, and


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Unknown Town

I walked alone an unknown town, Hoped you’d hear my wish and I’d be found. I fell asleep, but I fell too deep. Hoped my dreams would make me complete. Where did it go, Where did it go I’ll write you a note, But you’ll never know, Bury it deep, For our love to grow, When the sun is high, And time on our side, I’ll find you I’ll find you But you’ll already know, You’ll already know. We used to strum our lives to our song, The sun broke through the clouds, We could do no wrong. But all too soon things had to change For better or for worse Who knows. Where did it go Where did it go I’ll write you a note, But you’ll never know, Bury it deep, For our love to grow, When the sun is high, And time on our side, I’ll find you I’ll find you



When I wake up from this nightmare Everything’s still. Nothing can make me feel better, I’m convinced it was real. But there’s no one around now, To comfort me in my distress. Where are you to tell me I’m wrong, That you never left. I won’t fight my insomnia I’m holding to my insomnia And I hope things will stay the same. I try to go back again To see if I can set things right. But each time I shut my eyes, You fade further from sight. I think I was overtired, I think I’ve made a mistake. Please let’s go back again, Now that I’m wide awake, Now that I’m wide awake. I won’t fight my insomnia I’m holding to my insomnia And I hope things will stay the same. Now I’m afraid to sleep, I shouldn’t stop now, Can’t rest my eyes. I’ll stay awake, So I can keep control. I think I was overtired, I think I’ve made a mistake, I hope it’s not too late.

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Artist Bios Dana Carly Andrews is currently in her fifth year of her university degree. Following her four years of the acting program at Dalhousie, she chose to stay and absorb more knowledge in the art of writing. She is an independent singer/songwriter who enjoys spending afternoons under the shade of trees reading Leonard Cohen and Margaret Atwood.

Priscilla Atkins, originally from Illinois, has lived all over the place including

Creative Writing (Poetry and Fiction) from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She teaches World Literature for Lindenwood University in St. Louis, and English for St. Louis Community College. She is also a scholar of Sylvia Plath and has articles published or forthcoming in many academic journals.

Amy Jackson is an Australian/Canadian who has published short fiction

Massachusetts, California and Hawaii. She currently hides out as a librarian and transcultural diversity advocate. Her poems appear in Poetry London, Shenandoah, Southwest Review and other journals. She lives in Michigan, near the lake of that name.

and poetry in Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada and Japan in magazines, anthologies and journals. In 2007 she was a finalist for Young Writer of The Year in Australia by The Sunshine Coast Literary Association. She was also granted the Harper-Collins/Varuna Masterclass Residency in Australia for her novel. This year she is working on a novel with the help of The Canada Council for the Arts.

Eleanor-Leonne Bennett is a 15-year-old photographer from North West

Chloe Jones is a singer-songwriter. She comes from South London, England,

England, UK, who has won many photography competitions.

and moved to Halifax four years ago. Her most recent EP is entitled Old Palace and is self-described as electro-pop. She currently teaches classical piano at the Maritime Conservatory.

Teresa Tumminello Brader was born in New Orleans and lives in the area still. Her stories are online at Hobart, Clapboard House, 971 Menu and elsewhere, and in print, most recently in Coming Home: A 2010 Main Street Rag Short Fiction Anthology. Her poetry appears online in Willows Wept Review and Mused, and is forthcoming in Halfway Down the Stairs and Perspectives Magazine.

Richard Collins was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He currently resides in Hubbards, Nova Scotia.

Julia Gordon-Bramer’s most recent poetry publications include the Women Arts Journal Quarterly, Big Bridge, Off Channel anthology of Midwestern Writers, Bad Shoe, and Arkansas Review Journal of Delta Studies. Recent awards include honorable mentions for the James H. Nash 2011 Poetry Contest by the St. Louis Poetry Center and for the 2011 Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest, and the Regional Arts Commission’s Arts in Motion contest. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in


A resident of Boston, Luke M. Jones is working on his masters in creative writing at Emerson College. He is the editor-in-chief of the online magazine Words Apart. His work has appeared in The HazMat Literary Review and in Slush Pile Magazine.

Laura Lyall is from Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador. She graduated from St. Thomas University in 2010 and currently resides in Fredericton, NB.

Steven Mayoff’s fiction and poetry have appeared in magazines across Canada (including All Rights Reserved) and the USA, as well as in Ireland, Algeria and France. His fiction collection Fatted Calf Blues won a 2010 PEI Book Award, was shortlisted for a 2010 ReLit Award and has been selected for this year’s CBC CrossCountry BookShelf.

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David McVey worked for many years at the University of the West of Scotland

Tim Mook Sang has previously been published in Crow Toes Quarterly,

and also taught Creative Writing for the UK Open University. He has published a number of academic papers and many short stories while his other non-fiction focuses on history and the outdoors. He enjoys hillwalking, visiting historic sites, reading, television, and supporting his home-town football (soccer) team, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy FC.

Canadian Literature, New Fairy Tales and Bywords Quarterly Journal.

Alessandra Simmons, originally from Los Angeles, has served as editor

Sean Moore is originally from Edmonton, AB. He has lived in Toronto for ten

K.V. Skene’s publications include Only a Dragon and Calendar of Rain, winners

years writing short fiction and film scripts, including The Answer Key, which had been nominated for a 2009 Genie Award for best live action short drama, and Chili & Cheese, winner of the 2009 Marin County Film Festival for best short film.

of the 2002 and 2004 Shaunt Basmajian Chapbook Award, Edith, (a series of poems on Nurse Edith Cavell), Flarestack Publishing (UK) 2004, Love in the (Irrational) Imperfect, Hidden Brook Press 2006 and You Can Almost Hear Their Voices, Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2010 (UK). A Canadian, K.V. currently writes from Oxford UK.

Ben Murray’s debut collection of poetry, What We’re Left With, was published by Brindle & Glass in 2007. His writing has been broadcast on CBC and CKUA radio and recent poetry or fiction credits include Vallum, The New Quarterly, CV2, and the anthology Bad Romance: An Anthology of Dysfunctional Desire, published by Freaky Fountain Press.

Kayleigh Robinson is a 16-year old student at Sacred Heart School of Halifax. She loves music and film. After graduation, she hopes to move to Montreal to study journalism and French.

Sonia Saikaley lives in Ottawa and has previously taught English in Japan. She graduated from the Humber School for Writers and has had her fiction and poetry published in Every Day Poets, The Caterpillar Chronicles, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Things Japanese: A Collection of Short Stories, the anthology Lavandería - A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Word, Quills: Canadian Poetry Magazine, [Word]: A Journal of Canadian Poetry, and other publications.


for Indiana Review and has poems forthcoming in WomenArts Quarterly and Post Road. She’s a teaching fellow at Indiana University - South Bend.

Jane Tims has published poetry in various Canadian literary magazines, including The Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review, The Pottersfield Portfolio, and Whetstone.

Elaine Woo’s previous publication credits include Gusts: Contemporary Tanka, Ascent Aspirations, one cool word, Ricepaper, Asian Cha,, and West Coast Line. She has also presented or read at a children’s literature conference at the University of British Columbia in May 2010, the Poetry Tent at Vancouver’s Word on the Street Festival in September 2010 and the Mayworks Poetry Festival, Nanaimo, BC, May 2011. Forthcoming work includes poetry set to voice and piano music at the Art Song Lab, Vancouver International Song Institute and poetry in the Vancouver V6A Anthology.

Catriona Wright is a Toronto-based poet and writer. She recently completed an MA in the Field of Creative Writing at the University of Toronto. Her work has appeared in various Canadian journals, such as The Puritan, Existere, and CV2.

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