NorthWord Literary Magazine - Volume 4, Issue 5

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volume 4 | issue 5 | FREE

northern canada collective society for writers president Dawn Booth secretary Warda Syed treasurer Sundas Shamshad public relations director Kiran Malik-Khan e-mail web

This Issue: Volume 4, Number 5 Spring 2021 ISSN 1920-6313 cover Treasure Cooper design & layout Rachel White-Murray issue editor Florence Weber managing editor Jane Jacques president emerita Jennifer Hemstock

Proudly published in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada 56°44’N | 111°07’W

contents 1


Florence Weber



Phani Timmaraju


gold (sun) and silver (snow)

Sorina Doiculescu



Owen Erskine



Veronica Wood



Scott Meller


flushed cheeks

Kaeley St. Peter



Karen Larkin


hope through stories

Fareedah Sarek


to and from work in december

Ezra Rhys Fox


her beauty

Jennifer Toutant



Douglas Abel




dearest summer and winter solstice

Joanne Leitch



Scott Meller

volume 4 | issue 5

editorial Solstice has always held a magical feeling for me. I love the contrast between light and dark, it fills me with energy in the new growth period and suggests hibernation during the darker time. I have learned through the submissions that is not the way with all: Some folks struggle emotionally with the darkness of the winter solstice while others embrace this period to go within, nurturing creativity in poetry, writing, fibre arts, painting, cooking, family and so much more. I have learned that both periods of solstice are polar opposites yet the same as we are blessed with a new day, both provide a period of nurturing humankind as well as dearest earth. Still others think of Solstice as a rhythm playing with the effects as though it’s a heartbeat that speaks to the soul. Time changes everything, providing rebirth which brings love and hope. I learned that Solstice has her own calendar As for the darkness and cold being compared to a Witch’s tit, how cold is that? And I wonder how one would organize 2574 haikus?

Florence Weber |

issue twenty - three editor


northword: A Literary Journal Of Canada’s North

Words in Motion 2021 Elementary:

Magical Moon Claire McKay It’s forever changing Yet always the same It’s forever gone Yet always there

High School:

Once Upon a Troubled Time Francois Marais Tomas was still in the station- the tickets in Sir Topham Hatt’s hand. The people afraid of the pixie dust that had swept the land.

The magic of the moon It’s always wondered me

Humpty Dumpty sat alone on his wall He was sick, and wouldn’t let the kingsmen near him at all.

I lie there thinking What would it be like To hang from above To talk with the stars

The 3 little pigs were safe tonight. Through his mask, the wolf couldn’t huff and puff with all his might. The Seven Dwarves worked from home, a clever scheme. To keep Snow White safe, from the wicked queen. Old Santa fell ill- and was forced to make a call The men at Amazon, instead of Rudoloph, led the present haul. Rapunzle couldn't trim her long hair of gold. All barbers and hairdressers were carefully controlled.


UNDAUNTED Billy Graham

And Cinderela had to clean extra - wishing a cure would her befall Because the handsome prince had cancelled the ball!

At the Fork of the three rivers roaming free lies the smoky whispers from a past frontier… Revenant traders stood with Dene and Cree melded in kinship they sought to persevere Totemic heritage connecting water and land… Resilient respect steeped in a deep resolve… Fort Mac strong a unity in mettled stand... Bonded souls resisting a common exsolve A community of strength and steadfast guild forged by fires and quenched through disease… Faith the essence that again seeks to rebuild to witness the elders who dance winters breeze Undaunted in spirit we have become defined For not what we gain but what we give is truth… The past and the present teachings entwined… Herein our home wherein the heart lies in sooth 2

Congratulations to our top 3 poets for Words in Motion 2021! Submissions for the 2022 Words in Motion Poetry Booklet will be accepted from September 2021 to January 2022. Visit us at and follow us online for more information.

volume 4 | issue 5


phani timmaraju

One chilly morning, one rare sight

My bridal gown was sparkling in joy

My body was heavy to tilt and see but I tried, tried, and tried.

The dynamic time could not stop me, I tilted a little more each second, ignoring

the vibrant colours of the blooms, I continued to to dream, dream and dream

My children came out of their homes

To check on their gardens and clean up their abodes Nothing bothered me and I kept on sloping With hope, hope, and hope

Each day my hope was nurtured

By the warmth of your sacred smile

My eagerness was boundless and I continued To tilt, tilt, and tilt

One special morning your warmth was winning the race Your brightness guided me to the darkest of space I can feel you by my side, uninterrupted For long, long, and long

My children called it the solstice The happy ones celebrated you The learned ones explored you

But I, just loved, loved, and loved For you are my Sunshine

and I am your dearest earth,

I will continue to incline towards you For ever, ever and ever


northword: A Literary Journal Of Canada’s North

gold (sun) and silver (snow) sorina doiculescu

Morning brings a silver frost on the muddy land of falling leaves.The earth is shivering into the chilly northern wind, rising a fluttering sound above the trees. With a deep pale voice he sings to the sun; “Ouu you, my golden flower in the sky, where did you go so far to feel, so far to touch!

Now my skin is pail and icy, no lushy green is caressing

my feet, no beloved symphony of nightingales are whispering in my ears.

You left behind a silver cloak of ice and snow, with its spikes is slashing all my life I made with you. “

Evening comes and casts a cool dark grimly shadow on the gloomy earth.

With a mighty gasp of air, he swings his night wings

above the frosty ground and makes his way through the naked trembling trees on the horizon.

The earth then looks with fear at his golden flower in the sky;

“Did you, my pretty one, abandoned me?” The silver sprinkles falling from the clouds are dancing in excitement around the skinny trees, and with a cold smile they rest softly at the earth’s feet.

A rift in the darken sky is showing a ray of golden flower shining on to earth;

“My dear earth, my love for you is avid, with every little

silver snow that fallen your heart bit is stronger, your skin is ticker and your warmth is flaming.

The grass is gracefully hunching over to your feet, the leaves are flying down the wind, the water is making his

own nest to cradle the fish. All this my dear earth, will

rise next year with admiration that you gave birth once again to all the critters and greenery.

Because my dear love that is the essence of my golden

A sharp howl is crying at the earth; “You poor deserted earth, nothing to feed, nothing to

ray of life!"

warm. Your crust is dying of hunger. You poor deserted one. “


owen erskine Glasses fog with masks

Warm days have headed south Hope to see sunlight


volume 4 | issue 5

soulstice veronica wood Change

Is the essence Of life.

Seasons pass. Hair grays.

The bright pink mug

(The one you’d use for coffee)

Is suddenly far from your favourite. Opinions shift,

The brain’s tectonic plates Pushing///// Up//////

New ridges in The mind.

Hearts change.

What once felt beautiful, What was longed for,


scott meller The autumnal equinox is marked by a riot of colours dancing through the leaves of the trees a balance of light and dark

and a comfortable temperature. It announces a change to the season

as we turn the corner in our journey around the sun and head towards the winter solstice. Darkness, bitter cold, snow.

What freshly preserved, icy playground is this? Yet somehow, it holds in its crystalline grasp a promise of spring.

Has grown pale.

The Vernal Equinox is marked by the melting of snow


and the songs of dormant creatures

Hearts break, into Tiny


And then,

They’re restored. Reborn.

It was a soulstice, The day

I was reborn. A soulstice,

a carpet of green peeks through the wilderness echo from the woods.

It declares a promise of the new

as we emerge from the darkness into the light, ever closer to the summer solstice.

An ever burning light, with accompanying warmth. A reward for surviving another year of toil and a loving embrace for us all

as we survive into another day.

The day I found Your love.


northword: A Literary Journal Of Canada’s North

flushed cheeks kaeley st. peter scarce is life

beneath the snowy wooded umbra all creatures obey

languid like our eyelids

or the creek that barely flows

old man winter casts his paleness

upon the sparkling frost

our moon hangs heavy

like the snowy boughs

this scene is dark


bleached then with patient zeal the sun breaks

the songbird sings

embellished with feathers from angels’ wings

mother nature’s cheeks become flush

a divine pulse

the promise of 4 more minutes of light

solstice karen larkin

the standing still of the sun invites the deep stillness in me to reveal itself

a time when the brightness and the darkness become one, united in support of life

the cool darkness wraps my heart in comfort while the lingering light sparks my spirit my world moves through this desired stillness it is welcome here


volume 4 | issue 5

hope through stories fareedah sarek

This short story is about how even in hard times just like in a Solstice the Sun can shine brightly for you and higher than it was before.

I wanted to create stories because I saw how they changed people. I wanted to tell

stories that would give people the courage to change the world they lived in. After all the world was constantly asking nothing more than to be changed. Soon though I'd find out that accomplishing my dreams would be less likely than I imagined.

I was ten when we heard the first bombs drop in our town. It was two weeks later that my baba had to rush us in the middle of the night to pack all of our things. I

knew Syria had problems I always did but when you're a kid things just never seem as bad because somehow you manage to carry an unbreakable faith in humanity

and the world. Children manage to carry more hope in their eyes than most adults

combined. We spent weeks fleeing to turkey because we knew our home couldn't be called home anymore.

At that point, we all cried in our prayers not because of what had happened but

about the simple fact that our entire family survived. I have my older sister, next is

my older brother then there's me and lastly my little brother. My little brother cried a

lot when he was first born. He doesn't as much anymore but to be fair not many of us have many tears left to cry. I don't think my mama has run out of tears though since she still cries in her prayers and her sleep too sometimes.

I heard my parents talking the other day it turns out some of the people we knew

back in Syria weren't able to make it as we did. The worst part is their bodies can't

even be buried because there's no time or place to. It's as if war won't even give you the peace of grievance. War won't let you forget about the blood that was shed or souls that were lost. It suffocates you and makes you feel like an escape would be impossible.

A month later is when I first heard about Canada. It was a place where there was no war; where kids could dream of creating stories and change the world. It was going

to be our escape and bring us the safety that war had robbed from us. It wasn't easy though to get to Canada. It took us four years and even then my baba and older

brother couldn't come with us. I miss them both so much. My baba was the one who named me. My name is Amal which means hope in Arabic. He said that when I was born he was given a new sense of hope for the world. My baba says that soon when

I'll be able to tell all these stories I'll spread hope to the world just like my name says I will.


northword: A Literary Journal Of Canada’s North

to and from work in december ezra rhys fox

Endless black and cold as a witch's tit the dark stretches, draws itself long

nothing for it to shove hands in pockets and duck your head against it ignoring icy breezes under your coat.

At night walking through it again

her beauty jennifer toutant

stars above and it's not past five

her beauty is not like that of other girls

The sun rose its head

seeking those who understand her

inky-black and nothing else.

to spit some light for a few hours or so you heard.

The world will turn itself, soon.

under the cold moon, she howls calling in her tribe her pack

her people

You keep that thought close,

her beauty is not like that of other women

between your fingers for months

BEing in ritual with herSELF

worrying it

counting the days

until sun on snow dazzles you.

on the darkest day of the year, she sits calling in her guides her energy her spirit

her beauty is not like that of anyone else's as the seasons change, so does she steady in her power

knowing it's all within her knowing it IS her


volume 4 | issue 5


To Every Thing

There is a Season? A column by douglas abel

Well before spring came this year, I had this article almost completely planned out. I had started to gather my thoughts around the time of the official “shortest day of the year” (which wasn’t) in 2019. The theme: solstice. It was an idea

productive of an interesting topic, one that had intrigued me for some time. Through rather random research I had discovered all of the following:

That solstices and equinoxes, seasons and length of days, were not nearly as chronologically regular as we tend to assume, or wish.

That, because of the actual shape of the earth’s orbit, and the position of the

sun relative to it, the seasons do not, in fact go “round and round,” but “ellipsoidal and ellipsoidal”—a fact not productive of great song lyrics!

That spring, summer, autumn and winter are of different lengths. That the shortest day of the year may not, in fact be so, nor the length of day and night equal at the equinoxes.

That, after the astronomical winter solstice, sunrise may continue to come

later and later for several days, even as sunset stays at the same time, or comes slightly later as well.

That the actual dates and times of equinoxes and solstices shift backwards and forward from year to year, and not just because of the insertion of “leap years.”

That midsummer does not happen in the middle of summer, nor “the bleak midwinter” in the middle of winter.

As I gathered these facts, my theme took shape: the complexity of regularity. Then the virus came, and the human world was knocked off course, even as winter turned inevitably into spring.

Our day-to-day routines were drastically disrupted. Swelling stock markets tanked, hundreds of thousands of workers ceased to be employed, tens of

millions of people were told to seek isolated refuge in their own home—and tens of thousands died as the breath was squeezed out of them by an invisible enemy. Governments acted early and late, wisely or stupidly. There were eve-

ryday acts of heroism, benevolence, ignorance, selfishness and greed. Many

who had lived smugly, in comfort, now felt real fear, perhaps for the first time. As I write this, in the second week of April, 2020, the same questions are in the minds of millions. How long will this affliction last? When will our lives finally

get back to normal? What will change, and how much, when and if the virus subsides? What, in fact, will the new “normal” be?

Over a century ago, W. B. Yeats wrote about events that had, for him, world-


northword: A Literary Journal Of Canada’s North

altering meaning. They occurred at a complicatedly

We can take this once-in-a-lifetime (I hope!) opportunity

lunar calendar, under an arbitrarily imposed formula. At

have created, and in the structures we have imposed upon

variable seasonal date, determined by both the solar and Easter 1916, things had

All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.

(W. B. Yeats, “Easter 1916”)

In the space of those few violent days in Dublin, the world

of Ireland was transformed. In the space of a few weeks in

late winter and early spring 2020, our world has similarly changed. Utterly. If temporarily.

For us, here and now, in the midst of the plague, Yeats’ lyri-

cal statement becomes a challenge. For us, here and now, will a “terrible beauty” be born out of what has happened

to our complicated, interconnected, interdependent, frag-

ile and threatened human world? Will we learn lessons that are clearly, starkly, there to be learned?

the complicated but regular order of nature. How ironic it is that the present human disaster has led to a significant

decrease in pollution, has perhaps even delayed slightly

the advance of climate change! If we still needed proof

that we are the cause of both, the virus has given it. “Leave me alone,” the earth says, “and we’ll be fine. Mess with me, and you may not be—fine, or here.”

The months ahead provide a pivotal opportunity to

rethink, reset and refashion. There will be shocks that

must be felt by everyone. There will be costs that must

be fairly shared. But we will have a chance to create a more just, more equitable, safer and sturdier human

world, where what is essential for general well-being is

privileged, and what is simply privilege is restrained or rejected.

Those lessons could fill a book. Personal support workers

Will we take the chance? Or will we scramble back to

they don’t have to scramble between multiple jobs and

until the next disease or disaster strikes, when we will

and health care aides need to earn a decent wage, so that institutions. The warehousing of our supposed loved ones in understaffed, ill-equipped institutions must be

managed better, more safely and more humanely. Gig workers must not suffer under the fiction that they are

what has sort of worked before, and go on as we have once again wail, “Why did this happen? Why didn’t they do something to prevent it?”

“Sorry,” says the earth, and the truth, “but you are ‘they’.”

“contractors,” and must be given benefits and a social

If we fail to “seize the day,” time will still roll past. The non-

to “contract” them. Governments must learn that “too

come, summers, autumns and winters. Days will shorten

safety net, at the cost of those companies that pretend

much” care and preparation for disaster is an oxymo-

ron. Shareholders must not be privileged over those who

generate their profits; dividends must be cut, not wages. Our complex interconnected reality must be better

managed, so that the technology that allows so many

to “work from home” does not make that work vanish, as interwoven, “just-in-time” supply lines create deadly

shortages of essential goods. Countries cannot demand

circular cycle of the seasons will continue. Springs will

and lengthen; nights will lengthen and shorten. But they will do so, as they always have, in spite of us. They may even do so without us.

Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours. Nothing is certain, only the certain spring.

(Robert Laurence Binyon, “The Burning of the


that everyone “shelter in place,” when too many home-

We are the ones who need to care. We are the ones who

to shelter.

to come.

less and destitute people have no “place” at all in which


to make real, positive changes in the human world we

need to insure that we are here to greet the next spring

volume 4 | issue 5

Advertising Rates Why advertise in NorthWord? First initiative of its kind - NorthWord is Wood Buffalo's first literary magazine, privately funded by local residents comprising the social profit group, Northern Canada Collective Society for Writers (NCCSW) - this means we need your support today! • Market to promote education, literacy, and talented writers in the region and Northern Canada • Support the arts – foster the written word in our community. Northern Canada Collective Society for Writers – NorthWord RPO Clearwater P.O Box 30480 Fort McMurray, AB T9H 0B8 E-mail: For more information, please call: Kiran Malik-Khan: PR Director - 780.880.7666 Digital File Specifications: • A press-ready PDF, TIFF, EPS, PSD (layers flattened) or A1 (text flattened) version is acceptable. • Files should be 300dpi and sent to:

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northword: A Literary Journal Of Canada’s North

contributors douglas abel is an actor, director, writer, theatre historian

Originally from Drumheller, Alberta, scott meller has now

and voice and speech teacher. He is using his sheltering-

called Fort McMurray home for more than 20 years. Scott

at-home time to work on a novel, and to organize his 2574

is a proud Champion of the arts with his colleagues at Arts

haikus—to date.

Council Wood Buffalo, and an ever seeking student of new,

treasure cooper is a self-taught Metis artist who is currently exploring her heritage through beadwork, finding inspiration in traditional women’s teachings. Her cover piece is called “Sundance.” sorina doiculescu was born and raised into an artistic family in Europe. In her early age, after passing her second grade, she began writing poetry and prose while she was doing her homework. With a Bachelor’s degree in Design and Visual Art, now she is a dedicated artist in the Wood Buffalo community. Tip toeing thru the poplars with his tongue in his cheek. owen erskine is a Chef, Dad and Born ’n Bred Northerner. Working to find words to express thought and feeling. ezra rhys fox is drawn to northern latitudes. His main source of inspiration is the natural world.

pioning arts, or learning new expression, Scott can be found spending time with his wife, Natasha, and daughters, Emelia and Evelyn, enjoying every nuance the world has to offer, and pursuing happiness. fareedah sadek writes, “I'm a grade 11 student. I've been reading and writing since I was a seven-year-old child writing horrible poetry and I hope that people can find solace and comfort in my stories the way I always have.” Fort Mac hometown girl, kaeley st. peter is an aspiring artist, dabbling in writing, fabric art, watercolours and mixed media. Her family is her greatest joy and inspiration, both in this realm and the next. Clichéd as it may sound, she owes most of her ideas and creativity to the magic of Mother Nature and her fascination with the human condition. dr. phani timmaraju is a science educator with great pas-

For over 37 years karen larkin has been a positive voice

sion for literacy. Apart from teaching and training, she loves

of personal growth and motivation in the Fort McMurray

singing Carnatic music and enjoys long conversations over a

Community. She is a generous supporter of the good, an

small cup of coffee.

expression of continuous learning, a curator of the beautiful and a bring-er of Sparkle. Karen loves and understands the power words can carry, and yet has often found silence can say as much. joanne leitch is a mother of 2 boys, photographer, and Administrator for camp operations in the Oilsands. Moved to Fort McMurray in 2010 from Ontario, she has been a freelance photographer for local publications. Although writing is a new adventure, she loves the process, and is inspired by the immeasurable talent of local poets, bloggers, and writers.


interesting, and fulfilling artistic practice. When not cham-

jennifer toutant is a yoga teacher and spiritual coach who has been sharing her written words with others since she was a child. She lives in Fort McMurray, Alberta and uses her public blog (Inspired Mama) to inspire the hearts of others through storytelling and poetic prose. veronica wood is a fourth year student at Keyano College and a substitute teacher. She is intrigued in combining faith and science fiction in writing, but sometimes a poem comes out instead.

volume 4 | issue 5

dearest summer and winter solstice joanne leitch

You are my awakening and my hibernation My warmth and my cold

My longest and my shortest day You are my light and my dark

My blooming and my withering

My planting and my harvest end You are my rain and my snow My love and my sorrow

And always and forever, my hope for tomorrow


northern canada

collective society for

soulstice scott meller

“Hey Ewe!” the green grass bleated

writers statement of purpose:

To publish and support the work of writers in northern Canada.

as the sun beated time on the drum.

call for submissions

With a rum and a squiggle

deadline May 30, 2021

Parum pa pum pum!

it’s hey diddle diddle,

the sheet goes over your head! It’s a bed, not a robe

but you start to unclothe

NorthWord Volume 4, Issue 6 theme Amalgamation

guest editor Luay Eljamal We’re always looking for prose (3000

and expose the truest of true.

words or fewer, fiction or nonfiction),

Yes you, dear reader, are complicit

from current projects, and visual art.

in this meter

and the measure of colour and hue.

“Not true!” it’s denied, but we cannot hide

from the light at its highest peek. I see you.

I hear you.

I speak your name as my own.

poetry (50 lines maximum), excerpts

please submit as a microsoft word or image attachment to: The Editors, for advertising and business inquiries, contact

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