Focus EUNICE KIM
News to Me MEG FREER
Thesaurus BOB MACKENZIE
Shoebox Office ADELAIDE CLARE ATTARD
Absquatulate MEGAN MEALOR
on learning again BRUCE KAUFFMAN
The Writing of Our Book EDILSON A. FERREIRA
One More Beer
Potential, Not Power KYLE CLIMANS
Saskatchewan Sky MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON
Birth of a Language PRAJAKTA KHARKAR NIGAM
Tell me a story. ALYSSA COOPER
Bloody Teeth SASHA HILL
The War Correspondent JOSEPH S. PETE
The Power of the Pen MICHAEL ZHANG
Untitled SIMON PERCHIK
Misericordia EUGENE CORNACCHIA
Words ELIZABETH BANFALVI
Healing Words SUSAN KSIEZOPOLSKI
The Librarian and the Webcam Model JOHN TAVARES
DUSKA DRAGOSAVAC & ANONYMOUS
Inside Back Cover ASHLEY KING
FREE LIT MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief Ashley Newton
Literary Editor Eunice Kim
Kyle Climans, Alyssa Cooper, Adriana Green, Bruce Kauffman
Jaclyn Acre, Adelaide Clare Attard, Elizabeth Banfalvi, Eugene Cornacchia, Duska Dragosavac, Edilson A. Ferreira, Meg Freer, Sasha Hill, Michael Lee Johnson, Susan Ksiezopolski, Bob MacKenzie, Megan Mealor, Prajakta Kharkar Nigam, Simon Perchik, Joseph S. Pete, Jackie Powell, John Tavares, Michael Zhang
Free Lit Magazine is a digital literary magazine committed to the accessibility of literature for readers and the enrichment of writing for writers. Its mission is to form an online creative community by encouraging writers, artists, and photographers to practice their passion in a medium that anyone can access and appreciate.
There may only be twenty-six letters in the alphabet, but in combination with each other, those little letters add up to an infinite possibility of words. The use of words comes down to how we’ve been brought to understand our native language(s). They are the catalyst of connection and understanding. Words can stand alone or can create a meaningful impact when carefully put together. It’s always about the message. Just as easily as we can build those connections, we have all used words in ways that tear them down. We communicate by using words, and sometimes, by not using them at all. And just like the infinite possibilities of arranging letters to create words, a single word has the ability to change based on tone, tense, and context. Words may very well be the tools for change we’ll always depend upon, but we must not forget their power as weapons, too. The way you use them is up to you. Ashley Newton Editor-in-Chief
The Immortality Issue July 2018 3
EUNICE KIM focus focus focus focus focus focus forcus forucs forucs fsocus sofuce focurs focus focs focus focus focus cofuso cofus focus focus
BOB MACKENZIE I’ve never met a thesaurus, a monster of words that might bore us with exotic phrases or the latest crazes, but I’m sure it would never abhor us.
DUSKA DRAGOSAVAC & JACLYN ACRE
MEGAN MEALOR Backseat buttercups decrypt the speedway sinew of precursor ploughboys reeking of nerve-ray and shrewd Suwanee dogma Fiberoptic fairgrounds parrot pirates, echo with ignition detonating sky bows latticework spiderlings glassed line origami autobahn Laurelled libraries grumble with skittish sophomores linchettos, limnology, Lorelei caesuras, buried Koine, shopiltees spunky physics of black swan queens Rattlebrained roads croon with cyanide Julias gaslight rabbiteye linchpin of lablab ladders cardiac map of cornerstones Narcotized navies bombinate bathing orchids besiege bowheads and dottybacks poaching mulloway pendants hijacked hymnals of bottled half-seas
The Writing of Our Book EDILSON A. FERREIRA
Who knows how fate works in our lives? Fate â€“ eternal tyrant â€“ rules over all of us. Since we were unborn and not conceived and our parents unknown to each other. Paths to walk by, persons to love and to hate, arrivals and departures, praises and failures. Faith and despair, rejoicing, tears and fears. Every time, every day or hour, week by week, from dawn to evening and noon to moon, mostly unconscious of its guidance, we go pursuing threads around the labyrinth. Would be a warlock by early times in old caves who spelt the words that compose our book? Or a saint who threw the letters from the stars?
Potential, Not Power
Please, don’t call me honey or luv or sweetie KYLE CLIMANS or darling or girl or girlie, for that matter, or or babethe sooner you understand what I am saying, the sooner we can bring this beautiful “My friends, or sexy or chick or yours. debate to an end!”
Ms. Barkesley shook her head before taking another sip of her wine. She had chosen a Chardonnay for once, and she was slowly regretting it. She had eschewed her usual Malbec Please call mehad by my name to be adventurous. because she decided or callwatched me, at all. don’t She as her colleague, Mr. Kwan, selected another piece of beef teriyaki from Okay, hon? his plate while he continued to protest his side. Meanwhile, Mr. Greer continued his argument through mouthfuls of his udon noodle dish. “There’s a reason why we have the ‘sticks and stones’ phrase! Words are wind, as George R.R. Martin said. Just noises which mean no more than the squawking of parrots!” Ms. Barkesley sighed and turned to him, “Maybe you should do less squawking with your mouth full.” Mr. Greer paused for a moment, surprised at the admonishment, but then smiled bashfully and swallowed the last of his food, even as Mr. Kwan smirked and gave voice to his own thoughts. “Well, then if words are meaningless, why do we bother using them?” Mr. Greer shook his finger as if his physical gesture could refuse Mr. Kwan’s point, “That is beneath you, Len. I was being facetious. Anyway, words have use to them, we need them for communication....” “And therefore, they have great power”, Ms. Barkesley quickly interjected. Mr. Greer sighed and looked at the young professor who was determined to not allow him the last word in this conversation. “Ms. Barkesley, I am not talking about words in your field of study, please think outside of the classroom.” Ms. Barkesley frowned, “Who said I wasn’t thinking that way? Words have destroyed empires!” “Empires? Such as?” Ms Barkesley leaned forward, her own dinner forgotten, “Alexander the Great was dying on his bed, and his generals crowded around him begging him to say who would lead his empire until his child was born and came of age. He may have said ‘to Craterus’, or he may have said ‘to the strongest’, we will never know. The confusion certainly didn’t help things in Babylon. Those generals would go on to tear the world apart because one man’s dying words gave them the chance to prove themselves the most powerful. His empire collapsed almost overnight!” Mr. Greer smiled, but not pleasantly. It was the smile of a man who sees an opportunity to bring an argument back into his favour. “Your example does not work. You said yourself that Alexander may have said ‘to Craterus’, but so what if he did? What if he had named a regent to rule while his child grew up? Would the generals have meekly obeyed Craterus, who wasn’t even in the room when Alexander died? Words are meaningless. Those men were primed to rebel no matter what Alexander said. He may very well have been poisoned by some of them!” Ms. Barkesley was already beginning her next arguing point, “What is the first thing that 8
a despot does when they take control? What is the first right that flies out the window when a tyrant is in charge?” Mr. Greer sighed, “Pray tell us.” “The right to oppose him! The ability to speak out or write down a counterargument, or even to mock him with jokes! Free speech is so often the first thing to be attacked by those who want power because they know that is where power is found! In words!” Mr. Kwan was frowning at the heated debate, but Ms. Barkesley was getting annoyed with Mr. Greer. She had been putting up with his attitude for the entire night, and it came from a very sensitive issue which Mr. Greer was dealing which involved one of his students and her vicious complaint to the school’s Board regarding a statement he had made in his class. Ms. Barkesley had worked with Mr. Greer for more than five years, but she had privately sided with the student’s complaints, and she knew that Greer’s arguments here reflected an outrage within himself that he might be tarred and feathered for what had been mere words which he considered as immaterial as the bacteria which lived in cheese or on human skin. He refused to consider the power which his words had had on his student, for if he did, it would force him to consider that he might very well lose his reputation and job over a few spoken words. Mr. Greer spoke up again, “You’re exaggerating, Ms. Barkesley–” “–Am I?” Ms. Barkesley asked, feeling real anger for the first time. But Mr. Greer was so far gone that he no longer cared that courtesy and etiquette were fast fading from the dinner table. Even the waiter who was overseeing their table actively avoided them when he saw the expressions on their faces. Mr. Greer continued, “Words are silenced during tyranny, I’ll admit that. But words are the spark, not the fire. Actions have always changed things, not words! When did white America finally pay attention to what minorities wanted? Was it a strongly worded letter, or was it when millions of them boycotted the buses or marched on Washington?” “How dare you!” Ms. Barkesley was truly angry now, but years of teaching and dealing with old men had taught her that screaming and throwing a temper tantrum never got anyone anything except the most basic sort of attention. For many people, the attention they gave was the kind of attention which was filled with an urgency to merely silence the screams rather than pay heed to what was being said. But while she kept her voice low, there was no hiding the rage dripping from her lips. “How dare you evoke something you do not understand. You think the people could have marched without words to rally them? Without words to express their concerns? Or did that “I Have a Dream” speech mean nothing to you whatsoever?” The food was abandoned completely. It grew cold on everyone’s plate. Mr. Kwan looked from one professor to the other, even as they ignored him to stare at each other. Mr. Greer waved a dismissive hand, “Words are just a tool to push people into actions to make a change through actions! That is what matters in the changing course of history!” Ms. Barkesley glared at him, “You are so narrow-minded in your view of words. They are what forms our lives and our views and our understanding! They are often the last things which can save us!” “Save us? That is ridiculous! Anne Frank wrote a whole diary, and it didn’t save her family from the Nazis when they seized her!” The two of them began shouting in earnest. People at nearby tables turned to stare, either in shock, or in frustration as these two professors raged at each other. Three waiters hur9
ried towards them and asked them to take their disagreement somewhere else. Both professors hastily paid their cheques and stormed out, so consumed in their anger that they did not even notice that Mr. Kwan had not followed either one of them. Instead, he resumed picking at his food, knowing the truth which his colleagues had been too angry to see for themselves. Words are exactly as powerful or valuable as people believe them to be. They can mean all the difference in the world to a person, or they can be spoken and forgotten two minutes later. Like so many things in this world, the truth about words is complicated: the pen may or may not be mightier than the sword. Words can drive a person to kill themselves or kill thousands around them. Words can also evaporate into the aether as swiftly as they are conjured up. However, so long as one person exists to create words, and so long as another person exists to receive those words, the potential of words will be immortal and limitless.
Birth of a Language
PRAJAKTA KHARKAR NIGAM A million nuances Rose and held hands, Formed the longest chain ever, And beamed. Words, they were Innocent as babies Yet hand-in-hand, Powerful beyond measure Together they announced, “Congratulations, it’s a language!”
I have to be careful when I speak Blood running all in my mouth Tangled twisted wires in my teeth Mangled mouth to speak clear words Articulate this hate for timid speech Whispering I hate you while Smiling politely with crooked teeth Sweet tooth, my words taste like candy These crooked lies spoken delicately Too much sugar in my speech Cavities tunnelling rot Blunt mastication of these sweet words Done now, quiet down, no Done now quiet down no I said no Like Moses parting the Red Sea Smiling with beet red blood dripping from my lips I found the flavour, delicious meals of long prose I have to be careful when I speak Blood running all in my mouth All these tangled twisted wires in my teeth Don’t need the alcohol to loosen this noose on my tongue I don’t slur my words, cause I don’t drink mulberry wine That I kissed off your mouth You want to give me your diction I’ll chomp that in two, no honey I don’t swallow my words Wrapping my poison words in cellophane Bone Jagged like mountaintops Fangs sharper than a crocodile bite Not the prey now the predator I have to be careful when I speak Blood running all in my mouth Tangled twisted wires in my teeth
DUSKA DRAGOSAVAC & JACLYN ACRE
The Power of the Pen MICHAEL ZHANG
The Worth Rebellion. A rebellion meant to end the corruption of the government and bring peace back to America. A bloodless rebellion, the Council had promised, but had quickly descended into what was going to be the carnage-filled and violent event of the century. What stopped it was words, words spoken from the mouth of a lowly Page. The lowest of the low, Pages held practically no power in the Senate, even before the collapse of the American economy. My name is Brock Lynn, and this is my story of how words were the tool by which a full-out war was so narrowly avoided. The wealth gap had only widened during the 22nd century, with more corporations emerging as the dominant forces in the shadow of the rapidly declining power of world governments. Everything fell under the capitalistic war machine, becoming rapidly privatized as a result of the â€œsurvival of the fittestâ€? philosophy everyone seemed to take on as the years progressed. While this generated enormous revenues and helped to stabilize the post-privatization economy, the consequences were substantial, as seen with the Void Depression, a catastrophic event that threw world markets into complete chaos. The US government, severely weakened by the depression began to crumble. President Simpson was found hanging from a noose in his room a week after said depression. The suicide of the president and the subsequent election of his crude vice-president Carver Jackson, the American people began to realize how much of a farce American democracy truly was. Under Jacksonâ€™s autocratic rule, the entire country, once a beacon of democracy and Western might, became a train wreck overnight. With the collapse of several major banks from the depression, the already fracturing American economy was utterly broken. Despite its best efforts, America was unable to reverse its broken economy, the American people suffering immensely as they found themselves unable to afford even the most mundane of basic necessities. The government simply became more corrupt as time went on, focusing little effort on the plight of its civilians, instead focusing on keeping its own politicians well-fed and dressed. Thus, the rebellion began, led by former Democrat Senator, Bernard Code. The senator was one of many who had protested vigilantly against the corruption of the American government, but was given little heed. Disgusted with the nature of his work, he quit and founded the Democratic Movement for Equality (DME). Alas, the means of which they used to achieve these goals were far from peaceful. They called for the blood of the politicians, and Code agreed. He argued the government was beyond saving, its senators and Congressmen a bunch of crooks that deserved to be burned at the stake, without even considering diplomacy as a possible solution. While the government behaved less than ethically, I believed in seeing the best of everyone. Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent, as my favorite writer Isaac Asimov liked to say. 13
They were people too, and I knew a brutal massacre would have little to offer in terms of a long-term solution. War was declared the next month, on the 25th of April 2150. The Council of Executives voted overwhelmingly in favor of conflict, with only one voting against and two abstaining. The sole executive who voted against the motion was Vlad Washington, a RussianAmerican who had fled Russia after the government’s failed attempt to revive the Soviet Union. He had chosen America as his destination due to its reputation for freedom and liberty, hoping to accomplish the “American Dream”. Alas, his dream fell apart only mere months after his arrival in the country. Once he had arrived, the US government immediately shut down its immigration programs, preventing anymore from coming on the grounds of “national security”. Thus, he was unable to bring his family over, despite them being in critical danger due to their political beliefs. The man worked immensely hard to become a senator in a bid to improve the fortunes of other Americans and prevent the same fate from happening to them. The day after the law was passed, I met with Dragonuv in the backroom of the main office to discuss the results. He was clearly agitated when I walked into the room, wringing his hands as he frantically paced back and forth. “Dragonuv, I know the passing of the law is of great concern to you, but you cannot simply sulk and wait for it to go away on its own.” I said, trying to awaken my friend from his stupor. The man had been through so much and yet had remained resolute in the face of it all. Seeing him so anxious and broken about the matter made my own heart ache. He deserved better than this, all of us deserved better than this. “Lynn, my friend… I cannot help but think of our cause as hopeless… The brutes running the organization claim they are doing it for the common man’s sake, but it’s painfully clear they are every bit as corrupt and misguided as the very government that betrayed us.” Dragonuv spoke at last, his voice tinged with despair. “Sit my friend, your constant pacing is making me worried as well.” I said, trying to calm him down. The agitated Dragonuv obeyed, looking down at the floor and refusing to meet my eyes. “We can still call the war off if we are able to rally enough votes…” I tried to argue, but was cut off by Dragouv abruptly standing up, the man’s mouth twisting into a deranged grin. “You’re kidding me, aren’t you Lynn?! How can you remain so optimistic in such a period? All these years I have broken my back for the sake of peace and love for this country… the same country that killed my wife and child by refusing to let them in during their time of greatest need! What makes you think there is any hope left here?!” He ranted. My eyes widened as I saw him edging his way towards the nearby window as he shouted. “Dragonuv! What are you doing?!” I shouted as I got up, realizing what he was intending to do. “Olga… my love… Rose and Sasha, my daughters… I will be with you soon…” He continued. I quickly sprinted the short distance between us and leaped forward to grab him… but was too late. I watched helplessly as my best friend hurled himself out the window, the shattered glass shards falling to the ground like my broken heart, even as his maniacal laughter filled the night air. I slammed my fists into the wall, tears streaming down my face. How much more blood must be uselessly spilled before we could reach the ideals the DME was founded on? 14
As the sound of police sirens and horrified screams filled the air, I turned around and walked off, my mind blank. Dragonuv’s death was written off as a suicide the next day. I was the only one present at his funeral. Something drastic had to be done. I had to be the one to do it. It was up to me to convince my fellow DME members of the error of their way. There was no one else. I was determined to carry on what my deceased friend strove to do, I could not simply let his legacy die. There was a general meeting the next Friday, a meeting that anyone, including Pages, could attend and speak. It was the only opportunity where I could have my voice heard. When Friday came, I was ready. I had spent countless hours brainstorming, writing, and polishing said speech to the point of obsession. Even when my fingers and wrists were cramping from the effort of typing and editing, I pressed on for the sake of not only Dragonuv, but the millions of other Americans whose fates depended on it. The sky was engulfed in dark clouds when I stepped out of my apartment, volleys of rain being ejected from the gray masses like the tears of God himself. “Heh, the weather today really does fit my mood…” I thought as I made my way to the bus stop. Twenty minutes later, I made it to the auditorium, a hulking gray mass of a building, I pressed the speech to my chest, hurriedly scribbled on a piece of worn paper when my printer broke this morning as I sprinted up the stairs to the auditorium where the rest of the DME was gathered. I had made reservations to speak a week prior, needing to make sure my words were heard. My heart pounded in my chest as I made my way to the podium, the sensation feeling like stabbing knives. This was my first and last chance to stop all-out war and more needless bloodshed, and I knew it. If I messed up, there would be no turning back. The lives of million depended on the effectiveness of my speech. I took a deep breath as I gazed upon the dozens of hardened faces in the rows before me, their cold, logical eyes boring into mine. Code himself sat in the very back, flanked by four heavily armed bodyguards. “Greetings, I am Brock Lynn. I am honored to be here.” I said, taking a bow. One could have heard crickets chirping if there were any in the room. I gave a nervous laugh before turning my attention back to the speech. “I am here to present to you a speech, now I know what you are thinking, what in God’s name does a lowly Page have to offer that your greatnesses do not already know? Well… hear me out first…” I continued. I had peaked their interest. The very thought of a Page, the lowest of the low, teaching them something made them curious despite the sheer absurdity of such a notion. Every word had to count. “As a great man once said, the day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace. This was said by the activist Mahatma Gandhi, one of the many we based our principles as an organization on. This speech is meant to envision a pacifist solution to our conflict with the government, in memory of my late friend Vlad Dragonuv.” With that, I began. 15
Three hours later “And that, my friends, is why violence is not and never will be the solution. The last thing we need is pointless bloodshed. As a member of the DME, even if only a pathetic Page, I plead for you to make the right choice regarding the war. I thank you for your time.” I backed up, my throat burning. I had finished, the countless hours spent slaving away at my desk, the thoughts of my dead friend plaguing my mind, I had done it. I waited in silence for a minute, looking out into the sea of unimpressed faces. After several hours’ worth of preaching and pouring my heart out, they had no reaction, no reaction at all. Dejected, I picked up my tattered speech and was about to make my way off when a slow clapping filled the air. I whipped around in shock to see that Senator Code himself had stood up, a smile on his normally stoic face as tears streamed freely down his face. As I watched in shock, other members of the audience stood up and followed Code’s lead, the entire room erupting into a chorus of palm slapping against palm. I simply stood there, shocked that this was actually happening. “Mr. Lynn… you have truly proved yourself a masterful wordsmith… I, no, we are thoroughly impressed by the sheer emotion present in your speech… We believed the American government and its cruelty to the people could only be toppled with violence, but after hearing your talk, it appears we have lost sight of the fundamental values on which this organization was founded…” Code said. The rest of the audience murmured in agreement, some of them looking down in shame. “We cannot be like them… we need to find another method of solving this issue, and the next government-DME meeting is next month, so it appears we will be arriving with a mindset on negotiations instead of war.” Code continued, getting up from his chair and coming down to meet me face-to-face. The other executives burst into applause once again, my own eyes tearing up as I clasped his hand tightly. We could reach a resolution to this economic crisis. We could save the rest of America’s population from starvation and death. We could rebuild the link between the government and its people. We could do it all, all through the power of words. Thus, the pen truly is mightier than the sword. I wonder if Dragonuv heard it, I wondered if he was proud of me. We were entering negotiations with Carver’s government next week, I was chosen as the spokesperson for the DME. I was ready. As we exited the auditorium, the sky had cleared and the sun’s shining fingers extended through to greet us. Once again fits the mood.
EUGENE CORNACCHIA this dream birthed in a deserted churchyard a fallen roof slate upon which written in carbon “misericordiae est papiliones” my gaze drifts to the veiled moon she translates for me the latin “the mercy of butterflies” a congregation of ghosts their winding sheets tangled in thorny roses grown wild the charcoal willow stick drops from my fingers
ELIZABETH BANFALVI What words do you use the most? What words do you use to describe yourself and others? Do you compare or do you use powerful words to be able to describe others and yourself? So often we don’t realize what words we use the most often. In workshops I do, I always ask an attendee to describe why they are there. I listen to the words they use not necessarily what they say. The difference is the repetition of the words. Can’t or won’t usually means they think they are unable to function or change somehow. Should have, could have or tried and it doesn’t work suggests they feel like a failure. These are all words that are defeating. They somehow don’t believe they can do what they want. We don’t realize that our words come from our life and upbringing. Look back at how our parents spoke and their beliefs. Children learn from their parents how to feel about life. Some luckily have very progressive parents or teachers who help them think differently but some don’t. Once I listened to some speakers who came from a shelter and there was such a lack of belief in them even though they spoke of how far they had come; their eyes told a different story. They often fall back into old habits. Some just mumble and you can hardly hear the words they speak. Their heads are bowed somewhat and they had a hard time connecting with their eyes. Their speech was the same. They couldn’t connect with their words. Words project what we believe. Some of the best speakers don’t have to shout but others believe that they have to talk loudly and aggressively. That tells so much. When you believe in what you are saying, there is a confidence there and no need to shout. The words come from a different place than just the mouth – it comes from your confidence. The combination of words expressed are fluent and flow easily. You can also hear easily and your attention is easily captured. You just know how the speaker is feeling and if you can believe them. When you listen to a song and you can close your eyes and just listen, you know the words hold truth. It might be sad but there is a truth to the words. Poems and writings that are genuine are easier to read and you also remember them. Think of all the poems, writings and songs you have heard and you will be able to remember some and not others. Words – make a sentence, paragraph, or story. There are nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives and some other parts of speech. It is simple to use words to make a statement. When you have a quality of life, the words come easier.
So, if you want to change your life, first change your words. It starts with the words you use.
SUSAN KSIEZOPOLSKI Unheard Unspoken Unseen Words What would they say? How much do they convey? Hidden in innuendos Hurled Heated Words Where would they land? Echoing in silence Enunciated Emancipated Energized Words Would they then be heard? Appraised in reverence Amazing Agonizing Analyzing Words Who would find them? Lurking in the dark Loving Luxurious Lullaby Words Waltzing to songs playing in my head Healing me
The Librarian and the Webcam Model JOHN TAVARES
For the past twenty-one years, in the medical school library, Mark worked at the same job since he graduated with a sociology degree at the same university twenty years ago. It was fair to say he forgot every term paper and academic essay he ever composed, index card by index card, and every monograph, article, textbook, and academic paper he read during endless semesters studying the noble social science. Having received an honors degree in sociology, he realized sadly he had no use for the framed piece of fine paper; it was not as if he could earn a living as a civil rights activist, or a sociologist. While Mark studied for his degree, he started working part-time in the university library and then the affiliated medical school library. Mark’s role in persuading a student from stepping down from an eighth storey ledge from which she threatened to jump the seven storeys to the mezzanine, to crash to the carpeted cement floor, near the circulation desk, landed him a full time job, even if de-escalating a potential suicide was totally unrelated to a librarian’s responsibilities. The episode also provided him the only time opportunity to tell someone about the circumstances surrounding his own parents’ death. While Mark tried to persuade the student on the verge not to jump, and to distract her while he waited for professional help to arrive, he somehow ended up telling her about his parents’ own death, which an insurance executive claimed was a suicide. His parents died in a fiery car crash, a head-on collision with a sixteen-wheel transport truck hauling a massive cement mixer, for a condominium construction site, on Highway 401. The cause of his parents’ death would not have been scrutinized if it were not for his father’s unusually large life insurance policy, according to the insurance agent. The amount of life insurance he possessed, the agent insisted, was unusual for a man of his father’s position. According to his medical records, his father, as a young man, the agent said, had a medical history of suicide attempts and mental illness. This insurance agent added the highway patrol took witness statements indicating his father crossed the expressway median, driving his car into the opposing lane, into incoming traffic. Mark blew up over the agent’s insinuations and over the telephone lost his cool. He said he wanted nothing to do with his greed, his insurance policies, and his corporation. Hunt down someone else you can swindle, Mark said. Mark did not even know his father had a life insurance policy or a history of mental illness or suicide attempts as a young man. He did not ask to hear about his turmoil or past psychiatric history. The silence on the line then was almost palpable. He realized at least one other person was listening on an extension or speakerphone. There was a click and the line became clear, crisp and pure in sound fidelity. In the middle of the agent’s apology, he hung up the telephone. Meanwhile, the medical student, who looked ready to jump and fall several storeys to death or critical injury stepped down from the ledge, and apologized. Sobbing, she gave him a hug and said she was sorry for his loss. What also helped clinch the job for him, the head librarian said later, was that he was the quietest student employee she ever encountered. He spoke only when necessary, a trait which impressed her; she thought most librarians she employed talked too much, chattering gratuitously, frittering precious time. Meanwhile, the unionized full-time job in the university library, Mark observed, had comprehensive benefits and paid him better than most entry-level jobs for university graduates. Having inherited his parents’ house, he was also able to build his comic book, music, and movie collection. As the dust on his parents’ urns for cremains 21
accumulated, though, he grew flabbergasted at the upkeep for the house, the taxes, the utilities, the bill for cable television, which he canceled, the sewage and water, but he conserved and decided against boarders or tenants in his spacious house. Now he had storage space and a library for his comic books, vinyl records, compact discs, and VHS and DVD movies. Continuing to work full time in the medical library, night after night, year after year, he lost any ambition to advance in another career. Mark found himself a slave to his position, benefits, even his growing pension. For twenty years, he worked almost every night of the week, shelving books in the stacks of the medical library, with numerous quiet alcoves. Although the medical school was sizable, relatively few used the medical library, at least during the late night and evening hours he worked. That was the impression he shared with his co-workers, with whom he traded novels, videos, compact discs, records, comic books. At times, he groused, he believed his job was a waste of his education, but who was he to complain, and he gladly worked the night shifts. No workers wanted to work the night shifts, but conditions, in his opinion, then, were ideal. Foot traffic through the stacks and library was lightâ€”there were fewer naĂŻve questions, comments, social interactions, bothersome supervisors. He did not have to shelf and organize as many books. Instead, he spent late night hours searching for misplaced, lost, missing books. Sometimes a patron complained they returned a book, but they continued to receive fines on their university account and a notice from the library requesting the immediate return of the overdue book since another patron requested the volume. His job included hunting down the books patrons may have indeed returned to the medical library; he had about a fifty percent success ratio. Nobody would second-guess an obstetrics and gynecology professor, eight months pregnant, in her claim she returned a medical library monograph, worth four hundred dollars, on sudden infant death syndrome, even if the book drop was as strong as a bank vault and as fireproof and burglar proof. He went to the stacks to hunt the volume down and then sought missing books in the pharmacology section: a monograph on cocaine addiction; a slim bound research paper on subacute bacterial endocarditis from intravenous drug use. While he searched the stacks, which closed in an hour, at midnight, he spotted the young woman who would change the course of his life. Sitting in a yoga position in forty-fourth aisle of the medical library stacks, she wore a silk eye mask and lingerie. She touched herself as she gazed at her laptop screen. A denim jacket and short skirt lay beside her laptop. He watched her through the space in between the bookshelf and the books. She fingered herself as she gazed at the screen of her laptop. Well, to each his own, he thought, having already accidentally walked in on a pair of library patrons having sex in the aisles or in the study carrels or the washrooms or a caretakerâ€™s closet. He closed off the section with a book cart and the chain and red printed sign to indicate the section was closed. The last thing he needed was a scene. He decided to move to the cardiology section to search for a handbook on arrhythmia from a research symposium. When he returned a half hour later to search for the volume on antibiotics, he was relieved to see the woman was gone. He had to admit, though, he thought she looked fetching in her lingerie and her facemask, which had an elaborate, ornate design. When he finished work at midnight, though, he did not expect he would see her again. At the end of his shift at midnight, he went to The Campus Drugstore, opened twentyfour hours, seven days a week, which, apparently, sold more birth control pills than any pharmacy in the city, or province, according to the campus newspaper. He needed to buy his usual pint of cookie dough and decadent chunky chocolate chip ice cream, though. A new employee worked the checkout, and he guessed from the pharmacology and psychopharmacology textbook 22
propped open on the counter, beside a calculator and pencil, she was in pharmacy student, working towards her bachelors of science degree in pharmacy. When he paid for his pint of ice cream with a twenty dollar bill, he thought she only gave him thirty-nine cents change when, according to the price scanned from the bar code, he should have received fifteen dollars and thirty-nine cents, after sales taxes. He dismissed the discrepancy to inexperience, sloppiness, or the fact she was a student who could use the cash. She actually looked as if she was his age, about forty, which only enhanced her attractiveness in his eyes. After the Great Recession and mill and factory job losses, after massive layoffs in the manufacturing sectors in the Greater Toronto Area and in mining and forestry in Northern Ontario, he encountered plenty of mature students, some lost on campus. The campus was virtually abandoned on a Tuesday night. He waited for the last express bus and took the subway train home. He ate his ice cream while he browsed through a textbook on psychiatry. One of the occupational hazards for him, working in the medical library, was that he recently developed a predilection for the heft and diction of medical textbooks. Before he went to sleep, he logged onto his computer, checked his e-mail, and viewed his favorite adult video website. Checking the most viewed videos for the week, he noticed near the top of the list of the most popular videos was the scene that transpired earlier in the evening in the library. The girl in the silk half mask and lingerie was touching herself before a video camera on her laptop in the aisle of the library. He thought he even recognized the titles of some volumes in the pharmacology section. He shrugged, thinking that, even though he worked in a sometimes dreary, bleak library, he had seen and heard everything, so he was not shocked or outraged. He went to bed, and, after he surrendered to restless limbs, he took a sleeping pill and had the most bizarre sleep imaginable. The following Tuesday evening at work in the library, he hardly thought about what transpired, as he searched for a book on opioid addiction reported as missing. By the time, he made it to the forty-fourth aisle the masked webcam model performed again. He thought her taste in lingerie impeccable, and her mask elegant, mysterious. Enraptured, fascinated, he watched from behind the stacks of thick, heavy medical volumes. Then he heard footsteps in the stacks with urology volumes and monographs and sealed off the aisle fortyfour in which she, in lingerie, sat spread-eagled in front of her laptop with book carts and the chains, indicating the section was closed. He raised his brow and shrugged again, realizing from past experience this matter was out of his hands and it might be imprudent to call security or even notify a supervisor. A decade ago, the last time a similar time incident occurred, he reported it, and university security became involved. The freshman students were expelled. Accusations were levelled and charges and counter charges were pressed and later dropped. The incident even made the local evening news. Library administration even found a reason to lay him off work for twelve weeksâ€”the first time he was forced to take any unpaid leave, aside from the usual vacations, in four years, and he thought he learned his lesson. When he finished work, he bought a bought a pint of cookie dough and chunky chocolate chip ice cream from The Campus Drugstore, open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, in the university commons, open through a bordering concourse to the boulevard and bus stops. While he took a spoon from his backpack and ate the pint of ice cream, he waited at the bus stop in the frosty night, his exhalations creating clouds of white smoke. Then he took the last midnight express bus to the subway station for the twenty-minute ride south and, if he skipped the westbound bus, a short midtown walk home. That night he turned on his computer, logged onto the Internet, and noticed a new video of the masked beauty posted to his favorite adult website. The woman, he realized, was actually closer to his age. His favorite part of the video was her lovely and charming smile. Her lingerie made her look even more sexy, he 23
thought, than say, if she was nude, but then again it was an inappropriate to pass judgement on a woman’s appearance in the university library. Still, he thought she looked compellingly beautiful and projected an elegant image of eroticism. Her face, her long hair, and her shapely, athletic body were the stuff of fantasy. The following week, a co-worker who shared his passion for comic books and science fiction movies, joined him for coffee break in the university library staffroom. Chad noticed a video on an adult video website. He confided in Mark about the amateur adult videos he saw online, shot in the medical library, and complained he was worried. He was afraid they might get in trouble for not catching the woman, whom, he noted, was putting on a live sex show in aisle forty-four, which contained part of the pharmacology section of the medical library. Mark tried to reassure him not to worry, but Chad continued to fret and worry. Chad worried their supervisor might accuse them of absconding, neglecting their jobs. This is the only incident, Mark said, trying to reassure his co-worker, even though he already saw the same woman thrice. His fellow librarian said she was a webcam model, who broadcast a live show and received fees, tokens worth cash, from viewers online, with whom she also interacted through voice and instant messaging with her laptop. Meanwhile, some viewer in cyberspace was recording her show and uploading the video to an adult website. The following Tuesday, Mark found her in the middle of the aisle, dressed in dark lingerie and mask, curled up in yoga position, which would hurt his joints and muscles, but she looked comfortable and relaxed, as she sat in front of her laptop. He certainly wasn’t going to interrupt her show and, through the gaps in the thick, heavy volumes and bound medical journals in the stacks, he watched as she performed her show. She had a Wonder Woman tattoo above her left breast, which stretched her bra. She also had a distinctive dimple, beneath her black lace masquerade mask, and her large breasts looked natural. She was neither fat or slim, looked healthy and fit, and had the flexibility of a contortionist. He got the impression she was an avid practitioner of yoga, or had even participated in gymnastics, judging from the positions and poses she assumed. She looked about his age. He thought she would be a catch, even if she was a webcam model, maybe because she was a webcam model, broadcasting a live show from the medical library in the basement of the university, whose videos subsequently appeared on an adult website and received thousands of views. Then Wednesday night as he bought his cookie dough and chocolate chip ice cream and paid with his credit card, he noticed her Wonder Woman tattoo, drawn above her breast, barely covered by the opening of the tight polo shirt of her drugstore uniform. She also had a distinctive dimple her erotic silk masquerade couldn’t conceal. Mark was slightly taken aback. While he always tried to treat her cordially, he found her rather cold while she worked in the drugstore, whereas the woman in the library smiled broadly and seemed inviting and open. Mark figured she acted that way because she worked the graveyard shift in a drugstore. He decided not to say anything to her while she was working as a webcam model in the library stacks, but he did think she deserved a heads up or some kind of warning. He noticed she had coffee in the commons area during her break before midnight and decided he would try to approach her before he caught the express bus to the subway station, while she smoked her cigarette on the sly and sipped her cup of coffee, which she ordered from the Starbucks café before it closed at midnight. He took a seat near her table in the food court, opened his carton of ice cream, and stabbed the frozen cookie dough and chunky chocolate chip ice cream with a plastic spoon. “That’s a remarkable burlesque show you put on in the library.” 24
Startled, Carol wasn’t certain what to expect. “I beg your pardon.” Mark offered to buy her another coffee, since she finished her small cup already, but she dragged on her cigarette and complained she had enough caffeine until her next coffee break, when she would make a mug of instant coffee in the microwave. “There’s no smoking in campus buildings,” Mark said, smiling. He sensed she was uncomfortable, but warned he worried the police or security would become involved. He nurtured no opinion of her videos or artistic performances, but others would judge her, which might result in dire consequences. She stood up and left for her part-time job as a cashier at The Campus Drugstore. Mark realized he probably made a mistake, even though, as he gazed at her walking back towards the store, he had no doubt she was the woman in the library—the Webcam Model, as his co-worker, Chad, a British-Portuguese student from the Azores, doing a master’s degree in American studies at their Canadian university, referred to her. The following day when he arrived at the library with his spill proof coffee cup and lunch box for work on his regular nightshift, like he did 5,240 nights before, the supervisor handed him a letter from the chief librarian. He was dismissed from employment at the library, effective immediately. The letter, printed on high quality, heavy bond paper, contained about five pages of boilerplate legalese and euphemism that covered the library’s backside as an employer. They attached a business card with his appointment with a counsellor in human resources to help manage his transition in the workforce. Then, while he stood near the reference librarian’s desk, outside the corridor to the staff locker room, a security guard told him he needed to leave. The security guard seized his elbow, but he asked him to keep his hands to himself and not to touch him. He protested he wasn’t resisting, or refusing to follow instructions, and never during his entire career, if could call the drudge work a career, the whole time he worked in the library. Still the security guard escorted him out of the library and off campus before he could plead his case or lodge a protest. First, he bought his ritual pint of cookie dough and chunky chocolate chip ice cream from The Campus Drugstore. Meanwhile, he downloaded to his hard drive and burned to a DVD three videos from the library of his favourite webcam model from his favourite amateur adult video website. That was the last video she recorded in the library, as far as he knew. Then the videos were deleted from the adult video website. A month passed before he returned to the university library, as a patron, since he needed to return books he could no longer renew before they were overdue and he was forced to pay daily book fines. He kept his university alumni card up to date, since, among other perks, the membership card allowed him to save money on fast food from the campus fast food restaurants. Now the alumni card gave him access to the library as an external borrower. He went at night, the time he usually worked his shift, when the library was quiet, and there was little foot traffic, chitter chatter, gossip, noisiness. When he went to buy a litre of cookie dough and chunky chocolate chip ice cream, indulging in his nightly comfort food ritual a last time, he found Carol stilled worked in The Campus Drugstore, but she called security. A guard in a black paramilitary-style uniform hovered nearby. She finally smiled, as she had in the videos he saw earlier, which left him slightly enchanted. That’s how he knew she was the woman in the videos, he thought. He wanted to tell her he loved her smile—at least the smile he saw in the adult videos, the webcam shows. He wanted to tell her about the four-bedroom house he lived in and how he’d like her to join him in living there. He wanted to tell her how he admired her looks and grooming and the fact that she returned to university as a mature student, in her early forties. 25
But she appeared a changed woman, a different persona outside the videos, inside the library and the pharmacy. Her life began where his fantasies ended. He took his pint of cookie dough and chunky chocolate chip ice cream, placed it in his backpack, alongside the receipts for the fines for overdue books from the library, and took the final express from the university campus to the subway station for the last time. Carol, for her part, remembered his name from his credit card. She found out where he lived from the telephone directory. She bumped into him accidentally on purpose at a Starbucks cafĂŠ near his house. By then Mark found a job in fines and overdues and then interlibrary loans in the Toronto Public Library system, at the library branch at Bloor Street and Dufferin. The Bloor/Gladstone library, a small architectural gem, had probably the ideal demographic for him, the patrons being comprised of a young, hip crowd, where even a speed-dating event was even hosted every second Tuesday night. Later, she claimed she was astonished when he told her she was the first woman he ever dated. She moved into his house shortly after she started work at a pharmacy in his neighbourhood, the summer after she graduated with a bachelor degree of science in pharmacy. Within a few years, she hoped to buy the independent pharmacy from the owner, who expected to retire after he finished chemotherapy for leukemia, had a pacemaker inserted into his chest and made a decision about elective open-heart surgery. She paid him rent, at below market rates, which covered the cost of his home property taxes and house insurance. She felt confident that once he stopped worrying about his movie, music, and comic book collection, he would notice her more, pay her better heed, and they would both be happy together.
News to Me MEG FREER
Threw me for a loop, what came in the mornin’ mail. Don’t usually get purty postcards with flowers and trees! News about poor Bob, from our sis. Not much, mind you. “I seen Bob the other day. I’m trying to get him out. He’s lock up with a bunch of nuts.” He’s in Battle Creek, Michigan, fer cryin’out loud, breakfast cereal capital of the world. Course he’s with nuts. No address, just Detroit, Mich. But everyone knows us by now, thanks to Bob bein’ mistook for that other guy. Postmarked 10:30 last night, arrived today. Wish ev’rything was that fast. Nice card, though. Shows Irving Park—you ever been there? ‘Goose Park’, it oughta be called. Can’t see the fountain, but I know it’s there. Great place for a hospital. Sis used to took her lunch over, prop her feet up on those ol’-fashion outcrops of rock, feed the ducks and geese. Anyway, I’m ramblin’. Hope Bob gets out. We got to look after each other. We’re all he got. “Be seeing you,” as the card says.
ADELAIDE CLARE ATTARD When I was twelve Mom handed me a shoebox a few days before Christmas I lifted it open As though I would find a living thing inside Held the box as if it housed a hamster Or a beating heart I looked for poked holes so they could breathe But instead In the box were movie passes on top of those decorative curls you find in Easter baskets “What are these for?” I ask She answers, “They are from the YMCA” My face twists in disgust “For what?” I lower the box from my lap As if I would have preferred a hamster Or a beating heart Mom explains how the YMCA gives presents to low-income families during the holiday season She explains with same look of shame that is so often painted on her face “Low income” I repeat Those two words hard to swallow Like a kernel in your throat Low income When dad just bought a new house with another woman Low income Mom wraps herself in a grey wooly cardigan she’s had since she was married A lifetime ago Jeans ripped from wear Her eyes perched atop bags that weren’t there last year Low income I close the box and say no thanks Picture myself sliding the tickets across to the movie clerk With “underprivileged” written across my forehead Low income like a Mattress on the floor Movie passes for the poor Ungrateful girl Money can’t buy you what you want anyways 28
on learning again BRUCE KAUFFMAN you say you want to learn everything to learn all the words what they are in their fullest and deepest meanings i would suggest you grab the latest dictionary unabridged and open it not from the front but instead the back begin with the end of the z’s and work then word by word to the front you will then quickly arrive at the w’s and will find in it the word ‘wisdom’ spend much time with this word months years decades an almost lifetime even until it becomes no longer a word becomes instead your pulse and breath then before you simply close that book quickly move toward the letters
‘l’ and ‘k’ and ‘i’
thumb through their pages quickly to find only the words ‘logic’ ‘knowledge’ and ‘intelligence’ and with your pen cross them out they will for you then have already become simply almost words typos mismatched letters together meaning nothing then page to find and with your pen circle the word ‘intuition’ beside it place 3 bold exclamation points and draw a heart beside it then scratch out cover its own definition there because it is a word that cannot adequately be defined it knows what it is and you beyond words now know as well then close the book and as a gift to them place it on someone else’s well used shelf 29
One More Beer JACKIE POWELL
He was the kind of man people came to with their problems because they knew his answer would always be to wordlessly share a beer from his garage fridge. John would throw open the garage door, pull up two green beat-up folding chairs, sit his neighbour in one while he grabbed two beers and a bag of kettle chips from a cupboard. Then he’d tilt his head and listen to his neighbour’s story from start to finish without interruption, just a nod of his head and a watchful look from his deep, brown eyes. When his neighbour’s story ended, their voice trailing off eyes staring into the distance, John would lean forward and ask just one question, “One more beer?” Depending on the answer, he’d pat his neighbour on their back, squeeze their hand and stand up to either watch them leave or get them one more beer. John had been a fixture in our suburban community for about eight years. At six feet one inch, his bulky frame hidden in a brown sweater and baggy pants, he had a slight stoop from leaning into people with his one good ear. He didn’t talk much about his former life, but he had one of those sixtyish age faces that seemed familiar like you’d seen him somewhere before. No one seemed to know where he’d moved from or much about his family, other than that his wife had passed on before he came to our community. When asked, he always managed to deftly shift the topic of conversation back to his neighbour’s concerns or go on about his current wood-working hobbies. John’s garage workshop was lined with all kinds of crafts. Generally, he’d source an idea on the internet and then build it. Sometimes he’d make games or home improvement items for neighbours. He made me a structure to keep the robins from nesting on my front porch. He never sold anything for a profit, he just loved the craft. One time when I’d wandered across the street to see him, he was working on a bed frame for a guy rescued by the John Howard Society. John had met the young man through some type of volunteer work and the guy needed furniture for his new apartment. John was really concerned that the frame looked nice and not like a homemade job. It was obvious to me that John felt a lot of compassion for this man he didn’t know. Two days later John said that the guy liked the frame and asked him to make some side tables to go with it. For several weeks, I was woken up at eight a.m. by the sound of his buzz saw and the zap of his nail gun. His productivity motivated me to get started on my day and show up to work on time. The day I got fired from my job, I loaded up my box of belongings, drove home, parked my car and headed right across the street to John’s garage. When he saw me coming, he put down his nail gun, pulled up the two folding chairs and grabbed two beers and a bag of kettle chips. While he listened, I railed against the injustices of the world, cried at the end of my rant and nodded yes when he asked, “One more beer?” John didn’t judge me, advise me, nor rant with me. He just sat beside me, held my hand and watched me fall apart. I felt much better after my garage session with John and months later when I found new employment, we celebrated with several beers and a couple neighbours. My new job meant spending a lot of time on the road plus several months in another province assisting company expansion. For long stretches, I lived in an Airbnb, put in crazy hours and rarely checked my social media feeds nor emails from home. I first saw him on national news. I’d grabbed a Starbucks latte that morning and perched myself on a stool at a window counter where I could watch commuters rushing to work. I checked my news feed and there was John, by himself, surrounded by photographers, coming out of a police station, eyes downcast and mouth clamped shut. He looked all alone in that scrimmage. Microphones were jammed inches from his mouth, journalists shouted questions at him as he pushed forward through the crowd. My heart 30
immediately broke in pieces for him as I thought about all the kind things he’d done for me and my neighbours. I wished I could comfort him like he’d done for me and I wondered what the heck had happened. The story was a cold case from fifteen years ago. More bodies had been found in a serial killer case. DNA technology had finally linked the killer to the bodies. The news showed pictures of victims’ families going in and coming out of the police station. Photographers carefully lingered on the anguished faces of broken parents and journalists sympathetically interviewed family members who could speak. Lots of folks hugged one another and cried on the front steps surrounded by loved ones and the Police Chief making his statement. Turned out the killer was no longer alive. He’d been shot by police ten years ago in a domestic dispute and they’d identified him as John’s son. I was stunned. I closed my news feed and stared at my cell phone. The sounds of conversation and grinding coffee in Starbucks faded away. I couldn’t believe this was the John I knew. In all the moments that John had listened, it had never occurred to me that he might have a difficult story of his own. To our community, he was just that good neighbour in our quiet neighbourhood who lived a regular life. As my mind and emotions swirled with confusion, I absent-mindedly opened my cell newsfeed. I clicked on a video of a journalist giving her analysis outside the police station. After she rehashed the story highlights and before the cameras cut to John getting in a taxi, her closing words were, “without a killer to put behind bars, should we point the finger at the parent? After all, what kind of parent raises such a monster?” I closed the video and looked up in disbelief. Around me I watched people going about their day as if nothing had happened. I struggled to my feet and steadied myself with the window counter. I had no words to describe how I felt. Now I remembered why his face seemed so familiar. I’d watched John and his wife on tv, surrounded by the press, after their son had been shot, trying to exit from the same police station a decade ago. It was déjà vu from a new angle. I picked up my coffee cup, tossed it in recycling and stepped out of the dimly lit café into sunshine. The street was busy with people heading to work and noisy with construction. I looked around uncertain about which way to turn. I felt helpless and distraught. I didn’t know what to do. Should I go to work or head home? Should I call someone in my neighbourhood? As I stood there, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to calm my jumbled thoughts. It occurred to me that for the past eight years whenever I needed someone to talk to, I wandered over to see John. With that thought, I opened my eyes and resolved to do one thing when I returned home. I’d cross the street, knock on John’s front door and wordlessly bring him kettle chips and one more beer.
MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON Saskatchewan sky, just a preview of love, chip off an edge of prairie chip an edge off winter– and opening multiple eyes toward spring. They-lovers, find themselves near evening bush fire– great seal fish and open lake, cuddle together– so wonderful there– where she comes from, where did she go to from here.
Tell me a story. ALYSSA COOPER
I want to tell you a story, but I don’t have the words, so instead, I will show you a
I will show you a list of numbers in a notebook, and an empty pill bottle, and the plastic bracelet that was my gift
yellow carnation. on the night that I tried to learn to fly. I will show you a handful of coloured sugar, a single sweat-stained drumstick, and an eye liner pencil, the label rubbed off by my restless hands. I will show you a tangled guitar string. I will show you a bandaged hand, a tall, pillar candle, and a name poked into skin with a
I will show you roses hanging from the ceiling, drying into dust. I will show you text books and pencils and blank canvases, I will show you pots of paint thickening into uselessness, and still you will not understand, but you will see them – and maybe that is enough.
dirty sewing needle. I will show you a boat in a harbour, and a smudged portrait in a sketchbook. I will show you coloured glass and green eyes and cork-screw curls, I will show you a bear stitched in blue, and iron maiden t-shirts. I will show you dollar store gloves with the
I want to tell you a story. I want to tell you about the smell of a steel staircase, and the sight of purple-blue spot lights, and the magic of lips pressed against microphones, so painful-wistful-beautiful that it brings a tear to these stoic eyes. I want to tell you how grateful I am to still be
fingers cut off,
and you will not understand the significance, but you will see them.
but I don’t have the words. So let me show you, instead.
The War Correspondent JOSEPH S. PETE
Ernie Pyle filed dispatches about the sweaty grunt, the common man, fed an anxious, news-starved homefront weak and jittery from paltry rations, got his typewriter-clattered copy devoured by the presidentâ€™s wife, bit into the gleaming gold of a Pulitzer Prize. As the roving Scripps-Howard battlefront correspondent lugged his hefty Corona 3 into yet another fight, armed with only his words, a sniperâ€™s bullet splattered the back of his skull out on the hot beach sand. -30The unyielding deadline of time claimed the Ernie Pyle Museum in his hometown, the journalism school building that long bore his name and the faded remnants of his storied reputation. They erected a bronze statue of him hunched over his typewriter on campus, but misspelled his job title, a journalistic sin he may have himself sometime committed in haste while trying to make a shrapnel-riddled hell feel real oceans away.
SIMON PERCHIK Branching out and this hillside bit by bit unraveling the way your shadow keeps to itself just by darkening, fed the dirt you once could see through as if nothing was there to hum then swallow some old love song that came into the world facing the ground still trying to leave you and night after night you listen for these smaller then smaller stones eating alone as the cry forever struggling from its harsh stranglehold to keep up, side by side and stay.
DUSKA DRAGOSAVAC & JACLYN ACRE
CONTRIBUTOR SPOTLIGHT: Michele Sabad Michele is a former contributor to Free Lit Magazine and is celebrating the release of her new book, Camp Follower: One Army Brat’s Story. Michele takes us on one army brat’s journey with stories about a childhood in Calgary, Germany, Labrador, and Saskatchewan; becoming a young Air Force wife and Hockey Mom in Edmonton, Kingston, Winnipeg, and Cold Lake; building a career in Information Technology; and finally, settling in a new culture and life in Ottawa and Aylmer, Quebec. Michele’s story will interest, inspire, and enlighten both those who grew up in “the life” and those curious to peek at how this kind of life turned out. Author Biography Michele retired from careers as a Database Administrator, computer programmer, and lifeguard. She was born in Calgary, Alberta, but grew up on military bases in both Canada and Germany, and now lives with her retired Air Force husband of over 40 years, Don, in Aylmer, Québec. Besides her writing, she loves hiking, sports, music, and travelling. And family. A reader since her mother first tossed magazines in her crib, she still loves all kinds of books, and will continue writing as either herself, Michele Sabad, or as her author social media persona of Stevie Szabad. Follow Michele’s writing on her author website stevieszabad.com.
OUR CONTRIBUTORS... Without the submissions from writers, artists, and photographers, Free Lit Magazine would not be possible! Please take the time to visit other websites linked to projects our contributors have been involved in, as well as the websites/social media platforms run by some of this issueâ€™s contributors: JACLYN ACRE - Facebook KYLE CLIMANS - Twitter ALYSSA COOPER - Website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook DUSKA DRAGOSAVAC - Website EDILSON A. FERREIRA - Website ADRIANA GREEN - Website, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube SASHA HILL - Website MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON - Website, Poetry Videos, and Facebook Group BRUCE KAUFFMAN - Finding a Voice on 101.9FM CFRC ASHLEY KING - Portfolio, Instagram SUSAN KSIEZOPOLSKI- Website BOB MACKENZIE - Facebook, Amazon Author Page, and Reverbnation SIMON PERCHIK - Website CAROLINA ROJAS - Facebook
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