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Devour: Art & Lit Canada is dedicated to the Canadian voice.

ISSN 2561-1321 Issue 010


Devour Art & Lit Canada

Find some of Canada’s finest authors, photographers and artists featured in every issue.


Photograph by Stan White


The mission of Devour: Art and Lit Canada is to promote Canadian culture by bringing world-wide readers some of the best Canadian literature, art and photography.

ISSN 2561-1321 Issue 010 Winter 2020 / 21 Devour: Art and Lit Canada 5 Greystone Walk Drive Unit 408 Toronto, Ontario M1K 5J5

DevourArtAndLitCanada@gmail.com Cover Photograph –

Editor-in-Chief – Richard M. Grove Layout and Design – Richard M. Grove

Welcome to this 10th issue of Devour: Art & Lit Canada. As usual we are bringing you some of Canada’s most talented writers, poets and photographers. April Bulmer brings you her feature article on Stan White, an unsung celebrity of photography and poetry. I love all of his photographs but I particularly like the image on the front cover. I personally call it “Watching the Watchers Watch”. We hope you will tell your international readers about this all Canadian Magazine. See you between the pages. Richard Grove otherwise know to friends as Tai


Photograph by Stan White


Devour Content F e atures: – Stan White – Cover, p.4, 6, 8 – Stereo Vision: The Poems and Photos of Stan White by April Bulmer – p.9 – Seven Poems by Stan White – p.15 – Canada in Review with Shane Joseph – p.25 – 37 – “Can’t Afford a Vacation Yet Dreaming of Visiting an Exotic Landscape?” by Ted Amsden – p.38 – 47, 114, Back Cover – “Making History Come Alive” an interview with Morgan Wade by Kimberley Grove – p.48

Poetry Sections: – Open Mic Canada – p.54 – Devour Under 25 – p.65 – Quintessentially Canadian – p.68 – “A Day in Quarantine with a Family of Five Kids” by Matthew Owen Gwathmey – p. 102 – Photographs by Ann Di Nardo – p. 109, 110, 111 – Photographs by Christopher Grove – p. 112, 113

Devo u r : A r t and Lit Can ada


Photograph by Stan White


Stereo Vision: The Poems and Photos of Stan White by April Bulmer

When poet/photographer Stan White plays the musical saw, he creates a ghostly, ethereal tone. It is a shivering vibration similar to that of the theremin, which Stan also plays. His poetry, too, reflects spirited dreams and visions he wakes to capture in the night and commits to computer in the morning. Stan’s photographs also escort us into a world of fantasy and illusion, as suggested by the title of his slim book, “Beyond the Third Dimension,” published in the Netherlands in 1970 and illustrated with ViewMaster reels. In this book, Stan shares his expertise in tabletop stereo imaging: photos of small sets, usually still life.

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Photograph by Stan White

He was an active competitor in this field in the 1970’s and 80’s. “I was competing with the Americans in exhibitions. Some lived on the rim of the Grand Canyon or a five-minute walk from Yosemite. I lived in lovely Ontario which was not too dramatic, so I had to make my own worlds. I would make props,” he says. For a photo of the first flight of the Wright Biplane, for instance, he bought a kit and built it. He also purchased tiny figures from model-railway stores. But Stan’s photographic career began in Birmingham, England where he was an industrial photographer. “Birmingham is on the south edge of an area known as the Black Country, so called since even the grass was black from industry fuelled by soft coal,” says Stan. “In those days photography provided me with a good living. I was photographing a different factory almost every day.”

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But in 1957, Stan moved to Canada where he married and settled in Toronto, Ontario. There he worked as a commercial and advertising photographer. In his late 40’s, he became a teacher of photography at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, focusing on lighting and product illustration. He also ran the photography studio there for 20 years. Stan’s long-practicing interest in three-dimensional imagery inspired him to become involved with the Photographic Historical Society of Canada and with all of the stereo photography organizations around the world. He wrote articles for their periodicals and journals, principally on the subjects of photographic history and stereo photography. His expertise in these areas led him to establish a library of information about stereo photography in cooperation with the Photographic Historical Society of Canada. It is housed in the Art Gallery of Ontario. After he retired in the early 1990’s, Stan began photographing in and around Brantford, Ontario where he now lives. These photos are stored in the local archives. Some of these nature photos quiver with spectral radiance, as do his poems. “Ghosts to haunt the hushing hills,” stars, clouds, woods, meadows, flowers, “nature’s easy curve” and other pastoral images appear in Stan’s poetry, perhaps reflecting the sacred natural phenomenon celebrated by the early Anglo-Saxons and expressed poetically in oral tradition in his native Britain. In a few poems, local place names and terms from the North Country provide his work with cultural richness and an earthy exoticism. It is not surprising, he enjoys the “rugged” poetry of the 18 th and 19 th centuries, though 20 th century poet Dylan Thomas is his favourite. He finds it difficult to write urban poetry. “It is tough to get past the ugliness,” he says. Rather, his personal inspiration is triggered by an intense curiosity about the universe and how he fits into it. “Though I don’t go to poetry. It comes to me,” he says. Stan has written over 1,000 poems. Some are published in journals, books and chapbooks. His favourite and most successful chapbook

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is called “Oddities,” published in 2014. In the foreword he suggests that poetry is the most suitable discipline for reconstructing our world of shattered language which has broken into a million shards. He also believes successful poetry can capture the abstraction of thought and intangibility of feeling. It is “very good exercise for the brain,” he says. At age 91, Stan still practices these cerebral workouts. In the past, he has challeng ed his mind in other ways. He enjoyed f lying

Photograph by Stan White

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radio-controlled aircraft in a park in Brantford. “T he activity demands fast ref lexes, otherwise you are in for a lot of model repairs,” he laughs. Not surprising, Stan’s playful activities are also reflected in flights of fancy in his photographs and poetry. He cites René Magritte, the Belgian sur realist ar tist, as a photog raphic inf luence. He was celebrated for creating witty, yet challenging images. But to some viewers, Stan’s photos are reminiscent of the paintings of Spanish artist Salvador Dalí. Stan’s photos often express humorous, even bizarre juxtapositions he shot on digital cameras and modified in infra red. The often-vibrant images were sometimes hand coloured or computer coloured and were photographed on Ektachrome or Kodakchrome. He created these theatrical dreamscapes long before the advent of Photoshop. The dioramas reproduced in this issue of Devour were originally photographed in three dimension. Stan’s vision is also reflected in his description of music which he describes as a “colour print” compared to “poetry’s black and white.” As a result, he is particularly fond of poetry set to music. “I love it. I think it does phenomenal things to poetry,” he says. The musicality of Stan’s work is highlighted in his recently designed website. There, he reads his poems and the text is as haunting as a theremin. Stan White’s website: stanjwhite.com

April Bulmer's latest book of poetry, Out of Darkness, Light (Hidden Brook Press, John B. Lee Signature Series), was shortlisted for a Next Generation Indie Book Award. She was recently honoured with the Women of Distinction Award given by the YWCA in Cambridge, Ontario where she lives. The poems here are excerpts from her manuscript “Year of the Dog: A Poet's Journal.”

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Photograph by Stan White

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Seven Poems by Stan White

Larks for Breakfast Today, I want to write about a summer from another time and a field that I recall, three wisps of cirrus in its own sky and a girl too, in a flowered dress; her hands soft smooth as sandalwood though she will not remember me. We walked until the zenith of a rise looked out over a tired afternoon nothing of significance a day like any other. It would not have come back to me were it not for her.

SJW. 16 January 2011. 12 noon.

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Gaia and the Mandrake A milkmaid, barely seventeen, who slept in Farmer Therrien’s barn, one April, walking in the fields met an Ancient aged and worn of curious physiognomy: half man, part elfin, oddly sad and from his ragged garment pulled an acorn shaped distinctly odd. Take this, my dear, the Ancient gave (I have no further need of it) and plant it in a covert place that only you shall know and see and tend it, give it honeyed-dew and sun until a flower of indigo shall bloom beneath a Manitoulin moon, and with your hands —no trowel or spade (he wagged a crooked finger) mind, carefully unearth its root and bathe it in a potion of fresh lavender and thyme. When dried, then bury it in straw— the very straw that makes your stable-bed. With that, the Ancient turned and with a twisted gait, half stumbled off towards the settler’s wood. The maid, more curious than simple, took the seed and planted it on Hemlock Edge— a lonely soul-forsaken place near Portage Fall that only the maid should know and see. Indigo it blossomed, flourished, bloomed under an August moon, the maid with faithful fingers, fumbled (as he ruled) no trowel or spade, unearthed the curious root that bathed in fragrant lavender and thyme, was dried like rosemary turned to droughty sun.

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The root was curious as though the earth had fashioned man in its design its form was columna, its colour wine The maid was true to the Ancient's bidding and took the root and buried it in straw— the very straw that made her stable-bed. With harvest stir, the root was soon forgotten. Though oft-times in her restless nights, reminded as she rolled upon it, set it in her sleep, aside. Until the eventide of spring, she wakened from an idle slumber to a frenzy —woke in paroxysms of wild passion; not ravished, not assaulted, not afraid, but charmed, enchanted, acquiescent, pleasured, as if a prodigal —a lost love had returned, and all their years of yearning came together in a cluster like a galaxy of stars. Then slept and woke as though it were a dream and never wanted for another lover yet bore three sons of curious physiognomy: part man, part elfin, oddly sad, who roamed the woodlands; turned a furrow for their summer bed and stood solitary, still as lofty maples bowed to winds as reeds and sedges do. As though a wife had fashioned men of root and stem and leaf and flower who spoke the language of the earth, and each winter, slept.

SJW. June 2000.

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Magician In those days things was so quiet around here folks came running even for the snake oil men so when she heard the wagon was in town all coloured up like a rainbow and with the painted heads of beasts some said kept changing said they was lions others said they was bears I guess she was bored for she pretty well dragged me down to that patch a dirt next to Ansel’s place where this wagon was parked the whole side opened up to form a stage on which he was already sharping cards pulling eggs out of children’s ears and so there was quite the crowd before he got the whole damned shenanigans under way what with the white rabbits flimsy coloured scarfs the length of a goddam fence and the collected nickels that kept on disappearing oh yes he passed around the hat and he had the crowd in his hand if you can ever say that about a magician but by the time he came to his pièce de résistance as he called it though nobody knew what that meant he needed a volunteer do I have a pretty young lady from the audience he said and before I could stop her she was gone first up on the boards

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where he takes her back of the stage for a minute or two and when next I sees her he’s got her all done up in this scanty outfit tassels sequins and would you believe tights and all the fella’s was a whoopin and I can tell you I didn’t like that and I was ready to slug a few of em’ when James Workman puts his hand on me shoulder steady now he says and I had to admit when I sees her I feels like whoopin meself steady now says Jim and before I knows it this fella’s shuttin her in this here box and pushing swords through her but she ain’t hollerin nor nothing so I spose she was orlright then with a mouthful of mumbo jumbo and in a sudden hush that falls over the crowd he throws open the box and she’s gone just like that and all that’s in the box is a solitary white dove that flies off into the blue over Fargo’s place there was a smattering of applause then the whole caboodle folds back up into the side of the wagon and they all drifts back home to their suppers leaving me and this coffin of a box with all these animal heads what keeps changing I couldn’t figure if they was bears or wolves the danged thing had no doors and I banged on its sides and I shouted to her but there was nobody in there he’d gone she’d gone I figures maybe she’s back out at our place and I makes me way back to the edge of town

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but she’s not there neither so I hurries back but by now the wagon’s gone some said they saw it all four horses going hell for leather on the track to Silver Springs others swore there was but a yoke of oxen and they was headed out Karpov way yet others saw only one nag pulling the wagon on its way to Suanita Gulch they said so I borrows Dobson’s horse and follows their tracks in every direction but never found a hide of them people were decent about it but I knew behind my back they said she got fed up with Jed left him for that fella’s city-slicker folk but to my face they said she’ll come back Jed once she gets tired of him but me I wasn’t so sure for nobody could explain why every evening just afore nightfall a white dove flutters at my window SJW. 24 October 2009. 10:30 a.m.

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Bothy in Northumbria Can you sense this spoil of space from the round of my words after a day’s trek from yesterday how in the speckled light of dusk a chill rain falls? and lost, took a fool’s turn around five now miles off the wall when out of nowhere’s gloom this cot looms menacing yet a godsend of rugged stone and slate a heavy door opens to arable damp of earthen floor one window night-dead now but a hearth with kindling strange this place so many miles from comings or goings I light my candle throw the specter of my broken shadow on the wall hard to imagine less comfort yet a welcome haven from a roofless world on a fireside night I give prayer for he who left me logs sit on my pack eat bread left with luck from noon drink sweet tea for this is a place for thinking and so I think until the fire burns low till a stone ledge built for sleeping hard but better than earth beckons so I sleep and dream in groat-time among the ghosts of shepherds

SJW. 2 April 2011

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Before Feet and Inches the oceans were scanned in crests of waves the heaths in sprigs of heather and the weight of thought was measured by the heft of a single feather springs were counted in irises the set of summer’s in sun the height of sky expressed in stars and the pebble by nail of thumb a living was reckoned on winter’s breath and in increments of stillness death SJW.21 October. 2014.

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Collecting Herbs on the Road to Heaven In peasant words, I was sent by the emperor to Chang-tu taking the only road by way of Szechwan. We pass through the city of weeds over the Chin barrier where six dragons revolve around the sun. Here, to pick herbs under an evening moon among the empty hills beneath Kao Pao. We give the emperor new life. There are many who are fond of the immortals. The path is steep. We leave the horses, in favour of eagles. On our return the white headed crows cry. At Ts’an Tsung bridge, the floods take the horses. Their burdens lost, leaving us with less than stars. We swallow our regrets and turn again towards Tai Pa. Now, we shall not return until after the festival of Wu. Lo Fu will be waiting for me at the fortune gate.

SJW. 11 December 2011. 11:30. a.m.

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Entry to a Fifth Dimension Cross first, the meadow in which you hear the lark singing turn to the willows and the stream will point you to a coppice on a hill. You will know it, from the gallows-tree. Here, you must wait for an April. Follow its evening star on a clear night it will lead you to a hollow of dreams. Choose but one, and in your reveries follow the butterflies‌

SJW. 12 January 2021.1:50 p.m.

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Canada

in

Review

Review Editor Sh a n e J o s e p h

Book Editor’s Note: This issue covers a panorama of work that is reflective of our Canadian diversity. From short stories, to novels, to memoirs, to poetry—the literary range is broad. So are backgrounds of the writers: from immigrants to the home-grown, from international writers reviewing Canadian writers to Canadian writers capturing their experiences abroad. We cover a variety of themes: Indian mysticism; Communist-era mystery; love, betrayal, and the mystical in Egypt and Tuscany; poetical tours of Canadian geographical landscapes and the landscape of the human heart; and the evolution of Canadian stories from plot and character to language and imagery. I hope you will find these books engaging and inspiring as we traverse through the fragile landscape of a global pandemic and search for meaning in a troubled world. Shane Joseph

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Title: Best

Canadian Stories 2019 Editor: Caroline Adderson Publisher: Biblioasis Published Year: November 2019 ISBN-13: 978-1771963275 Paperback: 280 pages

Reviewer: Shane Joseph Whenever I read Canadian short stories, I find them falling into three categories: dysfunctional family stories, stories of memory, and fantasy. I wonder whether that is because we do not have any more grand themes to cast ourselves in after WWII faded from memory. Perhaps the pandemic might give us another slate of stories that may appear in a future edition of Canadian stories. In this collection, we have the usual handful of family dysfunction pieces. A hapless son caught up between a controlling professional mother and a loser musician father in “The Association”; a woman with a brain injury who always puzzled about a free spirited neighbour abandoning her child, is driven by domestic circumstances and a deteriorating mental state to commit a similar act in “Upholstery”; a university student having an affair with her professor learns that one always ends up sad in these situations, despite the “happy” drugs you take to get by in “Again, the Sad Woman’s Soliloquy.” In the stories of memory, I liked Lisa Moore’s “The Curse,” where a random event triggers memory from different stages of the narrator’s memory: of clothes bought and worn, children, student days, dysfunctional small town characters, an orphaned girl getting into trouble with drugs. “A Room at the Marlborough” takes the photographer protagonist, who has come back to attend to his mother’s funeral, back to his teen years when he went on a vacation to Normandy with her as she was on the verge of straying from her marriage at the time; his hobby of reprocessing old negatives at his photo studio to recapture memories of people he once knew ends up being an empty exercise, reflecting the emptiness of his life. Issue 010

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The sci-fi pieces were interesting: plants take on the role of procreating by cutting off their dependence on bees to do the job in “The Second Coming of Plants.” The piece that stuck with me the most was “Alice & Charles” – a dystopian story situated in a world where women are in constant danger of attack and rape and are therefore issued with guard dogs by the government; it is a filthy world full of excrement (dog shit) and menstrual blood (sanitary pads are hard to come by), and the messages of misogyny, survival, feminism and social dysfunction are strong. In keeping with our sensitivity to inclusion and diversity, it was refreshing to see two indigenous stories included as well. I particularly liked “Young Warriors in Love” which fuses indigenous and settler practices into a young man’s quest to woo the woman of his dreams. The short story seems to be moving away from traditional character and plot towards a language and image driven one. The language in this collection is wonderful, beautifully constructed sentences, and the imagery is quite telling. However, being a traditionalist, I still long for the “story” in “short story.”

Caroline Adderson’s work has received numerous prize nominations including the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

Shane Joseph is a Canadian novelist, blogger, reviewer, short story writer and publisher. He is the author of six novels and three collections of short stories. His latest novel, Circles in the Spiral, was released in October 2020. For details visit his website at www.shanejoseph.com

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Title: Songs

of My Soul Author: Damyantee Devi Dabydeen Publisher: Authorspress, New Delhi ISBN: 978-9388332613 Number of Pages: 450 Published: January 2019

Reviewer: Giti Tyagi The book Songs of My Soul is Damyantee Devi Dabydeen’s labour of love for the Supreme Being. The book is a collection of selected Mantras, Bhajans, Philosophy and Teachings from the Golden Ages. The essence of the Ramacharitmanas, the messages of the Bhagvad Gita, the lessons from the Mahabharata and the ambrosia from the Holy Vedas bless the human heart as the sprinkling showers from Heaven. Divided into thirteen elaborate parts, the book pours out philosophical teachings and verses, soothing and healing the readers’ minds, as they delve deeper into the spiritual flow of the ideals and principles that serve as guiding lights to lost souls in the awry course of their eventful lives spent on the earth. The author’s words show the divinely lit path of spiritual realization steering across the wiggly path of the worldly labyrinth that often leads human beings astray. The idealism, the tolerance, the love that spreads far and wide, the intimacy between the seeker and the sought, and the truth that binds humankind together in the expanse of the Universe are marvelously portrayed by the author, who believes that “It is essential that we put these sacred utterances and devotional songs into practice in our daily lives.” (p.8) The Mantras quoted in the book uplift the readers to the realms where neither pursuits nor ventures affect their devotion, neither success nor failure impact their selves, neither criticism nor praise alter their love; tranquility and peace fill the void of the vacant hearts. Songs of My Soul proves to be a beacon of hope and guidance in this world full of chaos, intolerance, hatred, and war, lighting a spark of love and brotherhood, defeating the demon of stress and strife. The book presents the godly verdict that shimmers and opens the inner eyes of purblind, bedazzled, and

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spellbound humans, showing them the right spiritual path leading towards the Divine Decree. “All pervading power of the eternal One Before whom our material world is but a trifle brought into existence…”(p.41) The three poems in the thirteenth part of the book comprising Leonard Dabydeen’s poem “Faith And Trust,” Khalil Gibran’s “A Tear and A Smile,” and MC Yogi’s “Krishna Love” are like a jewel in the crown which add to the beauty, charm, and uniqueness of Songs of My Soul. “When the spirit is frail and flesh is weak: Let Lord Krishna in your heart as you speak.” (Faith and Trust, p. 445) Songs of My Soul lays the foundation stones of peace, harmony, and tranquility in the strife-ridden world, guiding the readers towards the coveted path of spiritual enlightenment and Supreme Bliss!

Damyantee Devi Dabydeen is a Canadian Author living in Brampton Ontario, Canada. She is a successful certified Computer Examiner, Information Security Management, IT Security Auditing, Project Management Personnel and Cisco Certified Network Associate.

Giti Tyagi is an Editor, Creative Artist, Author, Poetess and Reviewer. She is Masters in English, Masters in Education and holds a UGC-NET certificate. She is a former Senior Lecturer from MM University, Ambala, India. She is an Educational Consultant at Karnal, India. She has won several Appreciation Awards for teaching. She is the author of the book ‘Priceless Pearls’, an anthology of poems and ‘Crossroads And Other Stories’, an anthology of stories. Issue 010

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Title: Luminescence Author: Jeevan Bhagwat Publisher: IN Publications ISBN: 9781732763418 Number of Pages: 114 Published: March 2020

Reviewer: Anna Nieminen Luminescence, the second full-length book of poetry by Jeevan Bhagwat, is a bold and at times even daring collection. The title and cover image of the auroras hint at an overarching theme: insight. The book is divided into two parts. In Daylight, the poems tend to reflect humanity’s understanding of communal and ecological interconnectedness. The poems in Twilight move through a dimming or eclipsing of awareness, but the book ends with hopeful poems reflecting a regaining of clarity towards wisdom and even transcendence. Viewed concentrically, like rings on the poet’s beloved linden tree, are Muse poems at the centre, followed by Family, People’s, Nature/Environment, and Cosmic poems. Many of the poems span these categories as the poet approaches the subjects from both micro and macrocosmic viewpoints. Bhagwat is a nuanced writer who carefully crafts his poems with layered meanings and messages for discovering upon rereading. The poem “The Sandhill Burial Grounds (Young & Bloor)” brings to light a little know fact about local First Nations history below this busy Toronto intersection where “these arteries/ still bleed ghosts.” “Scarborough—A Love Poem” chronicles the community’s history and the poet’s lived experience in the former city, which became amalgamated within Toronto in 1998. While outsiders saw “Scarberia” with problems and urban sprawl, insiders saw opportunity, good people, and natural beauty. Bhagwat passionately bears witness, declaring, “for my heart is a song/ that resounds in your name.”

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“Attawapiskat” is a disturbing, even harrowing, poem about despair in this isolated First Nations community in Northern Ontario. It recalls media reports of its suicide crisis in 2016. Bhagwat intentionally takes a narrow view, a snapshot, like shining a flashlight in the dark corners of a tragic scene: we hear the “weight of wails” where “rivers of tears/ are the only clean water around.” Attawapiskat, like many First Nations communities in Canada, is challenged by the inter-generational impacts of a history of racist Federal government policies and being “unheard by Ottawa’s ears.” Readers may feel the impulse to look away but revisiting this poem for a deeper understanding presents an opportunity for self-reflection about complicity and responsibility in this era of reconciliation. In “Ode to Beauty” Bhagwat gets daringly lyrical with his Keatsian-inspired aesthetic and subject. The poem also distinguishes itself by directly addressing the role of poetry in our time: “and when the Poet’s mantra sounds/ to breathe life into you again,/ let your resurrection be/ the death of Greed and Profit’s reign.” In this clarion call for poetry that inspires a transformation in humanity’s consciousness from materialism to imaginative and even spiritual approaches to our interconnected social and ecological challenges, Bhagwat passionately expresses his belief in our potential to rise above our collective flaws by boldly envisioning a beautiful future. Here, he has taken up this challenge to illuminate the way and inspire us. Luminescence proclaims that Jeevan Bhagwat is a powerful and compelling voice on the Canadian poetry scene – a poet who increasingly “sounds his mantras” globally.

Jeevan Bhagwat’s work has appeared in literary journals across Canada and internationally. His awards include the Monica Ladell Prize for Poetry from Scarborough Arts (2003, 2005) and the Scarborough Urban Hero Award for Arts and Culture (2015). His books include The Weight of Dreams and Luminescence from IN Publications.

Anna Nieminen lives and works in Scarborough, Ontario, where she co-facilitates the Scarborough Poetry Club with her husband Jeevan Bhagwat. She is a poetry curator. She guest curated a series of poetry events during Ontario Culture Days 2015 for Scarborough Arts and was the Literary Juror for their Big Art Book: Issue 4 En Route in 2016. Issue 010

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Title: The

Way Things Fall Author: Liz Torlée Publisher: Blue Denim Press ISBN: 9781927882559 Published: October 2020 Number of Pages: 256

Reviewer: Felicity Sidnell Reid Have you missed being able to travel lately? Spanning fifteen years, The Way Things Fall takes the reader back and forth from Toronto’s art world, to the old city of Cairo and surrounding desert with all its mysteries, and to the gloriously nourishing countryside of Tuscany. Rachel Covelli is a young Canadian art critic hoping to establish herself when an assignment from a Toronto museum to work on a multi-media exhibit, exploring the beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians, their studies of the night sky and how these affected their life and art, lands her in Cairo. There she searches for an elusive Egyptologist she has been told about by a friend in Toronto. Walking the hot dusty alleys and noisy markets of an unfamiliar district, she realizes she knows nothing of the man she is looking for. When she finally tracks down, “the star-reader man”, known as Karl Gustav, she falls under the spell of this enigmatic, charismatic character and becomes both his student and his lover. But Rachel is carrying a burden of guilt over an incident in her past, and it is Karl who teaches her that fate will eventually dictate that she make a full atonement for her behaviour.

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Whether through fate or co-incidence, she is brought to confront this when, eleven years later in Toronto, she reviews the show of emerging artist, Steven. She and the painter feel an instant connection, and as their relationship grows Rachel realizes he has also been deeply affected by the same event that haunts her. In her opinion his work has been held back by his own feelings of guilt and it becomes her mission to release him from this bond—her act of atonement, she hopes. She persuades him to move to the beautiful, beloved area of Italy where she grew up. Rachel takes readers with her, travelling between her two disparate lovers, their contrasting locations and her life and friends in Toronto. These three places cleverly reflect different aspects of her character, while the story explores alternative forms of love; the concept of pre-destination and fate and the possibility of atonement for a bad decision. Torlée skillfully pulls readers into both the physical scene and the emotions and thoughts of the well-developed characters through her sensual depictions of both people and places. The conflicts of the basic love triangle underpin a tense plot that engages readers and leads to a conclusion which leaves them with several ideas to contemplate.

Liz Torlée lived and worked in England and Germany before emigrating to Canada. Her fascination with the idea of fate and what is known as “coincidence” fuelled the ideas in her debut novel, The Way Things Fall, and her extensive travel in the Middle East and Italy inspired many of the scenes. She lives with her husband in Toronto.

Felicity Sidnell Reid is the author of Alone: A Winter in the Woods, (Hidden Brook Press, 2015, e-book 2020). Her poetry, stories, and book reviews have been published in anthologies and journals, both print and online. She is the co-host and co-producer of “Word on the Hills” radio series broadcast on Northumberland 89.7 FM Issue 010

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Title: The

Kilt Behind the Curtain Author: Ronald Mackay Publisher: Wee Dram Publications ISBN: 979-8683193768 Number of Pages: 294 Published: October 2020

Reviewer: Dr. Dino Sandulescu After World War II, East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania fell under the hegemony of the Soviet Union and became known as the Communist Block. Few Westerners other than diplomats spent any time or even visited these countries. They languished behind the Iron Curtain, unknown and undocumented until the early ‘90s. The Kilt Behind the Curtain offers a rare view of what it was like for a non-diplomatic Westerner to live in one of these countries – Romania – for two years. The author, Ronald Mackay, was appointed by the Foreign Office of the British Government as Exchange Professor of Phonetics to Bucharest University in the summer of 1996. It was a fictitious “exchange” since no professor in any British university was willing to undertake the hardships that the position involved. Just graduated from Aberdeen University, he barely met the academic qualifications, but satisfied the Foreign Office that he possessed the personal qualities to survive for two years in a distant and largely unknown country whose language he did not speak and whose repressive communist regime would assume he was a British spy. The British authorities believed that at least two of his previous formative experiences would serve him well for such an undertaking. At 18, he had washed up penniless on the island of Tenerife, installed himself in a tiny village, learned the language, survived by working in the banana plantations, and integrated himself into local life. Later, he had served in the 3rd Battalion Gordon Highlanders and been trained in survival and self-sufficiency. Issue 010

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So, undaunted, in the summer of 1997, Mackay made the journey from Aberdeen in Scotland to the capital of Romania by train with little prior briefing other than a warning that as a Westerner without diplomatic status, he would enjoy no official protection from the British Government, that the Romanian Secret Police would monitor his every moment and every conversation and might strive to recruit him by fair means or foul into their service. From the point of view of the raw young man that he was then, the author provides insight into both his life and the lives of the people who befriended him during his two years under Nicolae Ceauşescu’s dictatorship. Some of these friends turned out to be Secret Police informers. One turned out to be a fully-fledged spy, another a Major in the Securitate itself. Ignoring that he was forbidden to leave Bucharest without permission from the Romanian authorities, Mackay travelled the length and breadth of Romania on foot and by borrowed car. He tells of how he made a win-win deal with his seductive informer, talked his way out of an alarming encounter with a squadron of tanks, assisted a young Romanian to defect, and how he barely avoided an international diplomatic incident when he intruded into Charles de Gaulle’s motorcade in May 1968. The Kilt Behind the Curtain offers a unique personal insight into life under the dictator Ceaușescu and the Romanian Communist Party during the Cold War.

Ronald Mackay caught the travel bug early when he biked all over Scotland as a schoolboy. Within a couple of decades he’d lived and worked in the Kingdom of Morocco, Franco’s Spain, Ceausescu’s Romania, Zhivkov’s Bulgaria, Echeverría’s Spain and Trudeau’s Canada — and that was only the start.

Dr. Dino Sandulescu is a Joycean scholar and linguist who taught at both Bucharest University, Romania and at the University of Stockholm, Sweden.

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Title: Two

Thousand Seventeen: Sesquicentennial Poems Authors: John B. Lee and Richard M. Grove Publisher: Sanbun Publishers, New Delhi, India, 2018 Number of Pages: 181

Review by Basudhara Roy In Writing for an Endangered World, Lawrence Buell observes, “Environmental connectedness requires acts of imagination not at one stage alone but three: in the bonding, in the telling, in the understanding.” In this collection of forty-nine exquisite poems, twenty-nine poems by Richard M. Grove and twenty poems by John B. Lee brought together on the sesquicentennial anniversary of Canada’s birth, one comes across a rare narrative of the soul through place-bondedness. Diverse as these poems are in their themes, style and depth, no reader can deny that their brilliant welding together into a compact composite owes itself to an overarching topophilia. To me, these poems are predominantly about place and the ways in which we root in and relate to it. Begotten by the spirit of a landscape that is as untameable as it is undecipherable, these poems can, in Timothy Morton’s words, be termed as ecological rhapsodies in which nature is both protagonist and witness and in whose rhythms, both sustenance and wisdom are to be discovered. For readers like me, unacquainted with the Canadian landscape, Grove’s poems offer an almost photographic access to it. Immensely fascinating about his style is the undeniable cinematic way in which he captures things in motion, in medias res. In poem after poem by Grove, one comes across a consistent zooming-in upon the minutiae of a workaday life to reveal its irreplaceable splendours. In all of them is an open-eyed clarity, a stark realism balanced by a deep empathy for the world that marks the neat, distinct click capturing his images. In Lee’s poems, the reader is metaphysically driven inwards to journey from the world to the self, and from the clarity of language to the poignancy of expression. With images that are lush, opulent, and inordinately tender, they

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offer an unforgettable portrait of the invincible human soul that stands aglow despite the pain and darkness that comes one’s way. In their metaphoric accuracy and poetic logic, these poems are unbeatable, rising at their best to become both ornate odes and heartfelt elegies that assert both the ubiquity of loss and the invincibility of hope. As local as they are global, as rooted as they are expansive, and as profound with truth as they are with wisdom, the poems in this bilingual collection are accompanied by translations in Hindi that will go a long way towards admitting many Indian readers into the cultural spirit of the Canadian landscape. Undeniably universal and quintessentially Canadian, this is a collection that bespeaks a rich, fertile, and enigmatic bonding in words between two imaginative and linguistically powerful minds. Here are poems that call for close, deep and reflective reading, and to which one will always yearn to return, in love, hope and overwhelming joy.

Richard M. Grove (Tai), Poet Laureate of Brighton, is publisher, photographer, painter, poet, prose writer, has 20 titles to his name. He is the President of the CCLA, founding president of BAC, former president of the CPA and former VP of CAA (Toronto)

John B. Lee is the only Canadian to be Poet Laureate three times simultaneously; Brantford in perpetuity, Norfolk County, lifetime and Canada Cuba Literary Alliance. In 2017 he received a Canada 150 Medal from Canada for “his outstanding contribution to literary development both at home and abroad.”

Basudhara Roy is Assistant Professor of English at Karim City College affiliated to Kolhan University, Chaibasa. She is the author of two books, Migrations of Hope (criticism) and Moon in my Teacup (poetry). She writes and reviews from Jamshedpur, India. Issue 010

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Can’t Afford a Vacation Yet Dreaming of Visiting an Exotic Landscape? If you can travel through your surroundings with the eye of an artist, heart of a poet, prepared to explore, you might find astonishing locations are close at hand. In 2020, seeking relief from the isolation of COVID and wanting a break from a novel I had been writing, I headed out on the roads of Northumberland. I am a motorcyclist. While local paved and oiled roads are not as tightly curved as in Europe, they do offer corner fun and straightaway thrills, black and white patrol cars notwithstanding. Give a photographer a tank bag where he can sit his camera and you have a recipe for photo fun. The County has over 500 kilometres of roads. I have travelled most of them. Gone lost and found on many. In fact, I have come to enjoy not knowing where I am. Just like living in Mexico, which I did for five years, and where I came to appreciate exploring a landscape that demands discovery. And where I earned my photo chops that continue to prompt me to discover the new, anew, every time I lift my camera Here is how it works for me. I am travelling down a gravel road, not too fast because the stones are rough and the view is fresh and unknown. It’s late spring. There is vibrant green everywhere. Ferns have sprayed their green fronds. No tree leaves show signs of blemish. It’s a time of year I love. No need to adjust the saturation slide bar when processing photographs. The road I am on has whimsical name. The kind that makes you smile and wonder about people Issue 010

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who named it. As I go along, I think about what was on their minds and what they were up to back in the day. It is one of the many sideroads in Northumberland where there are few homes. How did I get here? Well, I just whizzed along deep breathing the air of the woken-up countryside on a better road when I saw a colonnade of seriously old maples overhanging this road. They disoriented my sense of Time. How long have they been here I wondered? Were they human height when buckboards travelled this road? Were they the last trees standing when the land was cleared for crops and thus predate settler life? I had to see them. Old trees always deserve a closer look. Without thinking, I was on this less travelled road, pardon the cliché. And soon enough after a good looksee, puttering along in first gear, I found myself surrounded. Northumberland is thick with forests and there I was without warning in a tunnel of dark green. From warm bright yellow light into cool blue shadow. The brown gravel of the road no longer dominating my view, now just a wide path through the chaotic clutter of tree world. Only a little opening the size of quarter, in the distance assured me that I would find my way out.

Coming up to a mysterious gate whose decrepit sign informed that this is Eden, I slowed to a stop. Behind it, the space obviously disturbed years ago, showed overgrown indications that the forest has been laughing merrily at the expense of those who can’t follow through on their projects. What would I find if I walked deeper into the property, I wondered? A vined-up trailer rotting quietly? A rubble stone foundation camouflaged by raspberry bushes? A little further on, I came to a mailbox in front of no house, only a double-tire track leading into the tangle. Again, I wondered what lay deeper in the forest. A hoarder’s shack of questionable treasures surrounded by a rusty barricade Issue 010

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of farm machinery? Or a quiet Millennial camp where posts and beams are being dug in and lifted in the quest for a unique country paradise? If this be Eden, for surely there is no moment better than the one in which you find yourself, it is passing strange to not know where you are but find your circumstances give hints that something is afoot. As anyone on a vacation knows, it’s all about allowing yourself the time to indulge in acts of speculation and reflection, entering into a meditative consideration of a place and its inhabitants.

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Leaving the forest behind and breathing easier under the big sky doesn’t break the gentle wanderlust that Northumberland inspires. I often stop just to enjoy the moment and the long view certain spots in the County provide. Usually, god’s good garden surrounds me. A vibrant display of roadside veg whose colours pop out including those of my nemesis, lovely little poison ivy, that ankle-high sweetie who constantly reminds me I am no god. On many roads, few cars disturb the tranquility. I can stand and breathe deeply the unpolluted air. Depending on the time of year, the sweet tassel tops of corn can be perfuming the neighbourhood as easily as the horror of spread chicken shit can befoul it! One of my favourite nose treats is standing amongst a bevy of old white pines on a sunny day. It gets real hot on a county road. Brings out the best in plants. Just like down south. And then there are the breezes that come with the heat. Always moving, mixing in with the imaginary winds of history past that seem to flow from old farm houses. I never pass through a day that I don’t notice with some humility, the sky, too. I love Northumberland’s big overhead canvas. Where Valhalla reigns in cloud

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palaces. Where the Apocalypse in the dark colours of an approaching storm may be in seed. Where If I could lie down upon those brilliant dunes, I could imagine eternity as a comfort. Northumberland. A county of hill and dale. Prosperous agriculture. Moderately populated. Where the residents festoon their front yards with fantasy, messages, little altars of hope and goodwill. A water-veined southern Ontario location that’s also water bordered. Lush. Green. Actually, quite free of human noise in places. Or light at night. Where a solitary walker can follow a dog down the road without worry even chat up a gopher or watch a threesome of deer leap in unison over a fence as gracefully as any antelopes traversing the Serengeti. I have photographed its wonderful countryside on and off for over 30 years

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During the summer, I put over 10,000 kilometres on my bike from May to October. I was up with the sun. I returned home only when the air leaked out from forest gullies cold as an air conditioner blast even as the evening wind was languidly dancing across open fields of feather browns to the music of the setting sun. Now around 4,000 images sit in my hard drive. I have amassed images on themes such as mailboxes and abandoned structures, forests, rivers and bridges, convenience stores, roadside markets, signs, front yard displays and much more. Needless to say, there are landscape beauty shots and setting sun photographic pearls. The kind of images I would collect if I were on holiday. If you can leave behind worry about time and bring an artistic sensibility as well as a poet’s imagination to the scene in front of you, mindful of conventional tropes that dictate how you should interpret the world, you just might find yourself on an exotic vacation. Ted Amsden December 2020 Brighton, Ontario www.tedamsden.com tedamsdeninfo@icloud.com

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Ted Amsden

Ted Amsden

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Ted Amsden

Ted Amsden

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Ted Amsden

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Ted Amsden

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Making History Come Alive An interview with author Morgan Wade by Kimberley Grove “Put down that book. It’s time for supper.” Morgan wanted to obey his mother, but the lion Aslan was in a horrific battle with the White Witch so he couldn’t think of eating. This might have been Morgan Wade’s childhood scenario because he loved the CS Lewis series of Narnia books when he was a boy. They ignited his imagination. He told his parents that he was going to be an author when he grew up. Living in the small town of Tottenham helped with that dream as he had his favourite teacher, David Anderson, for grades 3, 5 and 6. “He gave us many creative writing projects,” said Wade. Wade lives in Kingston, a city steeped in history, with constant visual reminders of it in relics like Fort Henry. He decided to do an in-depth study of its history. “There has been a lot of history written about Kingston. It’s very rich historically. It lends itself to storytelling so well. It just cries out for novels.” The power of fiction is that from the safety of your own couch, you can really go deeply into that and ask yourself important questions. When he reads it he can’t help but wonder what people were thinking. Were they afraid, motivated by conscience to do the right thing, or concerned about patriotism? He imagines their emotions that led them to their actions. It is that questioning that leads to interesting characters for his novels. Each of his books begin with an in-depth look at history of a specific period. “I hope they [the readers] enjoy it, I hope it is entertaining but for someone who loves history I hope that it transports them to a different time and place and they get the chance to inhabit the lives of some of the characters, to imagine what it was like to be these people.” He expects the reader to examine their own life and wonder what they would do if they had been in a given situation.

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George Orwell, author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four, is Wade’s favourite writer. Wade thinks he has read everything he wrote. His most admired work is Orwell’s essay Politics in the English language. To him, it shows that “Clear prose can help you fight dictatorships and wrong thinking, help you identify truth from fiction. He [Orwell] was a champion of human freedom and dignity in the face of huge institutional challenges.” If the reader thinks of Orwell’s essay Why I Write, looking at the four points he makes it is clear that Wade is incorporating some of the same principles. 1 – Sheer egoism: Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc. etc. Egoism is not to be confused with egotism as Wade is a humble writer. Enjoying his clear writing style, he was asked if he would accept a writers-in-residence position. He modestly answered, “I don’t think I have the profile. I think it would be valuable work. Editing for me, clarifies my own writing.” He remembers telling a neighbour that he hoped to be a writer, but the response was not encouraging. “She took the wind out of my sails by saying that I shouldn’t bother because they are a dime a dozen.” Though Wade has a memory of that comment, it didn’t stop him. He studied at the Humber school of writing where he learned the importance of being ruthless when editing. He is the author of three novels, The Last Stoic, Bottles and Glass and Paper & Rags, published by Hidden Brook Press. 2 – Aesthetic enthusiasm: Perception of beauty in the external world, or on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. “Good prose is like a window pane,” wrote George Orwell. Wade has adopted the concept in his writing. His description is that window to the external world at times and his choice of words is the right arrangement as in this passage of The Last Stoic. “The sun’s leading edge dipped behind the low hills ahead and shadows distorted the landscape. Marcus refastened the broach of his tunic against the cooling air. The monotony of the journey had inflamed his imagination and he was aware for the first time of his remoteness from home. A misshapen shrub around the bend resembled, for a moment, a prowling animal. Rustling in the long grasses betrayed sneaking highwaymen.

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He crested a slope. Every three hundred feet or so, on either side of the road for as far as he could see, stood crucifixes, one after another, silhouetted black and looming against the reddening sky, with a slumping figure fastened to each one.” (The Last Stoic, page 10) He avoids the clichés. There are no honey melting sunsets, and yet the reader can imagine the scene. Another example of this vivid writing is when he switches to modern day America and writes, “Mark had camped down at a rest-stop along a stretch of the freeway where the Interstate became the New Jersey turnpike, just past the many rows of hulking 18-wheeler rigs, orange and red running lights like patio lanterns strung along the perimeters of their cargo, idling diesel engines emitting an endless hushed rattle, drivers catatonic in the fold-out bunks of their compact cabs. A quarter mile away the turnpike roared with a host of travelers finding their way through the darkness. The windscreen glowed softly with the unremitting white lights of the distant sixteen pump service station. Inside the car, dashboard instruments cast a low, blue phosphorescence. He sipped from a can of frigid, metallic-tasting Budweiser. For a moment, he felt intrepid. A stranger amongst strangers. Unburdened. (The Last Stoic, page 17) In Wade’s second novel, Bottles and Glass, he takes the reader into the taverns of old Kingston after the war of 1812. His writing was so genuine to the period that in 2016 a talented theatre director, Brett Christopher (now managing and artistic director of The 1000 Islands Playhouse), in Kingston requested

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Wade to convert his novel to a play. It was sold out for 5 nights. The play was extended by having the audience visit bars in the city with the characters. “It was a thrill of a life time,” said Wade, “to see the characters you have written come to life.” 3 – Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity. Certainly, there is an historical impulse in all of Wade’s novels. Too often students have found Canadian history lacking in excitement. By detailing the challenges of characters in various classes in the 1800s, he helps the reader realize what society was like in those times. In that time period, Canada offered an immigrant the chance at starting life again as one character comes from England to escape a scandal, the protagonist is constantly struggling to make a fair wage and a woman is saved from prostitution by becoming a doctor’s assistant. Wade brings out the plight of women in those times, as well as the poverty that was rampant. To bring history to life as Wade endeavours to do, demands a great deal of research. Words like grape shot (ammunition for gun or cannon), or quills (pens for writing) or pelisse (a woman’s cloak) all help to authenticate the history he is writing about. An example of how he crafts them into his story is in this sample: “Jeremy laid the quill he had borrowed from Antoine into the narrow trough of the writing box. He dusted a measure of fine pounce over the still damp words, gently vibrated the sheet of paper, and then tipped it, allowing the excess powdered bone to fall to the floor. Once the ink was dry, he folded the letter and sealed it with melted beeswax from the lit candle on the writing desk.” (Paper and Rags, Page 224) One of his characters, Lilac, is shamed as a prostitute and displayed for the towns people to gawk at in the pillory before being sent to jail. His portrayal of her encourages the reader’s compassion, rather than disdain. 4 – Political purpose – using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people’s idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Wade’s book , “The Last Stoic” is a reflection of this idea as his hope it that his reader will see the parallel of Ancient Rome and modern United States. He

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read a lot about stoicism. He comments that stoicism “seemed to be a fiber that made ancient Rome, when it was great, strong.. “ He fears that the stoicism of the original founders of the US has been lost to the detriment of the country and the world. As Orwell states, “I write it [the book] because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” Wade does this comparing the two histories. When the hero of the Ancient Roman story, Marcus, meets an old man in prison he comments on what is happening in Rome. The reader can’t help but think of today’s society. “Two primary passions afflict us Marcus, Romans no less than any others. Appetite and fear. They are excessive impulses. Disobedient to reason. Ruled by these passions people become slaves to pleasure or distress. It’s the easiest thing to do; the passions are always there, beckoning. They can be held in check, but never can be eliminated. It takes a lifetime of study, training, and self-discipline to rule oneself. ” (The Last Stoic, page 217) Wade’s process for writing is to begin with an overarching concept, sketch out an outline and then fill in the detail. As his books are historical, he does

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research and then he starts to put plot points down. “With Paper and Rags, I had that last scene in mind and I knew I wanted to get there.” He was able to do that on less than the 9 drafts it took on The last Stoic.” One area that Wade might differ from Orwell is he sees writing as more pleasure than drudgery whereas Orwell said “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.” Wade encourages others to write with his own guidelines for the wannabe writer. 1) Find books on writing to see how others do it. Two suggestions are Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Writing fiction: a guide to narrative craft by Janet Burroway. 2) Share your work with people you trust who will give you substantial, honest feedback. If you can find somebody like that, that’s a real treasure. Friends and family will willingly read your stuff but you probably won’t give you complete honesty and you really need that. 3) Be willing to read others’ work and give in-depth feedback for them will always improve your own writing because you will be focusing on what works and what doesn’t work.” 4) “Write and read as much as you can.” 5) Even with a day job, it’s still important to put aside specific writing time. Wade has organized his work schedule so Fridays are his writing days. Readers can look forward to what Wade’s writing days will bring to us because although his writing is steeped in historical fiction, it forces us to think about today’s reality.

Kimberley Grove has been published in the Globe and Mail, The Christian Science Monitor, The Toronto Star and various smaller publications. She has taught writing at Loyalist College, the Trenton Air Force Base, the Colborne Community Care Centre and Ciego de Avila University. Her teaching comes from a love of reading what others have to share.

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April Bulmer “Open Mic Canada” Editor Introduction to “Open Mic Canada” By April Bulmer In his lovely poem, “Meadow,” Don Gutteridge assures us “that love can be as deep / as the last breath before / death.” Death is personified by Maria Caltabiano in her poem, “Without Petals.” Death rests on a swing in the narrator’s garden, haunting her as she mourns a loss and questions her own identity. John B. Lee captures the identity of his little dog in “Jack Russell Sergeant Barking at Waves,” as well as the nature of the bay where he plays. John incites us to ponder what the water might dream beneath its “blue sheets of sleep.” Brian T.W. Way dreams us into another dimension. He introduces nonsense verse to “Open Mic Canada” with original sequels from popular nursery rhymes. Richard Stevenson also nurtures our inner child with a poem about Chupacabra, a legendary creature in the folklore of Latin America said to attack animals, especially goats. Chupacabra has poor table manners, says Richard. “What’s got into you / besides mammal blood?” he jokes. However, in “Colour Me Red,” John Di Leonardo, a celebrated Canadian artist and poet, is so moved by an early 20th century oil painting of Marchesa Casati he gladly receives a kind of transfusion of blood: her blood into his veins. He is rescued by her light. James Medd writes of the challenge of renovating a home and its familiar patterns of light, darkness, and shadow. Finally, Becky D. Alexander reminds us of the light that 19th century abolitionist, Mary Ann Shadd, shed on racism. As a journalist, teacher, lawyer and the first Black woman to publish a newspaper in Canada, she “helped pull back the curtains on segregated thought.” May Mary Ann’s spirit continue to cast beams on the shadow of this dark plot.

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April Bulmer Full Moon Her pale mask. How it fits against her skin to conceal, perhaps the blisters of fire, or the scars of a love turned violent or mad. I think, too, of my father in his black balaclava in the brisk Canadian air. A wool hood, and beneath he rouged with rash as I do, even the scalp beneath our wild dark hair. Tonight, the Lord. His face cream a thick blue. But in the morn, I imagine His skin is pale and clear as a white rose petal damp with dew. For I prayed He heal the worry lines and crow’s feet of His early days, when I was a primitive woman learning to bathe: washing my long, lean body, my hands and face. Nourishing them with mud. Though green veins remained and the runes of my palms too: the fine maps designed by God. His plan for my days when my father hunted, and I wiped the blood from his tired face.

Predictions The morning opens the palm of her hand. I read the blue veins, the mount of Jupiter, the lines like rivers flowing into the hard, white flesh of her land. I divine the bones of winter: limbs of trees fallen in pattern. The Lord will rise again.

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Probus Women’s Club Damp and cold again, though E— tells us it is perfect weather for apples. I imagine an autumn day, the fruit rouging on its branches, bearing the weight of spring and the light of sun, like my heart. M— wears a heavy cross at her neck. Her husband is dying slowly of cancer: a tumour like a bruised pomme. We sing “O Canada.” Then observe a minute of silence for the lads and others in Humboldt, Saskatchewan who lost their young lives or were injured. A hockey stick propped against the podium looks like a crutch. I imagine the parents lying limp like stalks of spring wheat on the prairie. Perhaps the land is fallow this season and so they will not stand rooted and bloom in the wind or in the irony of rain.

The Y The doctor prescribes an iron supplement and a daily brisk walk for my fatigue. Yesterday, I hoofed it down the street to the Surplus Store in the sleet. Today, I join my walking group at the Y and circle the track in my new Nikes. In warmer months, we hike the bush behind the facility. The forest floor is bony with roots, as though ancients have risen from graves. I step cautiously over their remains. One hiker is heavily tattooed: a green serpent falls from her limbs, as though from a thin tree. Another holds an old toothpick between his lips like a dog with a little bone. I am shy: my tongue lies like a small fish in a dry pool. But when we reach the forest of dead trees, I want to fall to my knees on a prayer rug of needles like a martyr or fool.

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Open Mic Canada Editor, April Bulmer https://aprilbulmer.wordpress.com/

Don Gutteridge dongutteridge37@gmail.com London, Ontario Meadow For Tom in loving memory I am showing off the milkweed meadow where I spent an afternoon of summers among the milting greenery and puckered pods untucking their secret silk we waft aloft, and where butterflies wobble on wounded wings grasshoppers hop over themselves in the wind-curried grasses and larks in the clear air sweeten it with song and out on the marsh, marigolds as orange-orbed as an autumnal moon and cattails with their feathered fleece, and I am glad you’re with me to perpetuate the past in the present, know there is a wild child in all of us and that love can be as deep as the last breath before death.

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Maria Caltabiano caltamaria@hotmail.com Montreal, Quebec

Without Petals Death sits on a swing in my garden, playing at plucking  petals from my cherished flowers one by one in a game  of take-me  take-me-not, then throws the stems away stone-faced— as if I weren’t here watching, breaking, collecting from the mourning grass remains of  what used to be. What remains  is a whisper wondering: Is a flower still a flower without its crowning petals? Am I me without you?

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John B. Lee johnb.leejbl@gmail.com Port Dover, Ontario Jack Russell Sergeant Barking at Waves there where the lake lay siege on the land cresting the world in a wet shatter like frangible glass the little gentleman stands taking the force of each wave full in the mouth he gargles a bark and swallows in vaporous sips from the beautiful brevity of the fracturing surge catching wet light, water light and sharing the usufruct of the breakwall holding himself true as a fortress holds true with twin purpose at the bay’s edge  all gather-back  in the dragging of a long veil of rivulets draining away in energetic retreat with the deep urgency  to be deeper out there in the undulous shrugging  as of a thinker in blue sheets of sleep

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Brian T.W. Way Rednersville, Ontario Nonsense Verse is always intended for adults as much as it may be enjoyed by children. Including the likes of Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Dr. Seuss and Dennis Lee, the silly songs, nursery rhymes and fantastic tales of nonsense literature, usually driven by edgy humour, dark irony and topical themes, have been a part of the literary canon dating back to ancient oral traditions.

SEQUELS: a trilogy mary mary had a little bear its fur was white as snow and everywhere that mary went that bear was sure to go winter came with ice and cold the land was starved and dead and mary went to see her gram or so that fat bear said trumpty trumpty dumpty sat on a wall trumpty dumpty had a great fall and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men enjoyed a very large omelet with scallion and parmigen

baa baa, baa, black sheep have you any crack yes sir, yes sir right here in my pack some for the vicar some for the clerk and some for the wee children who play in the park

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Richard Stevenson richard.stevenson@shaw.ca Nanaimo, British Columbia

Cryptid Hodag Kangaroo Chupacabra, cryptid hodag kangaroo, drains yet another ewe! Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s impolite to suck insteada chew? Chupacabra! What’s got into you besides mammal blood? Must be nice to leave the table without taking your leave. Rude though. Impolite! Why not pay for grade A steak, put it on a plate? Get used to utensils!  Dab with a napkin, man! Clean up when you’re done! Don’t need drained stoats, dead mangy old goats, sheep skin coats! Get outta here! Take the fleece, and, please, brush your teeth!

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John Di Leonardo johndileonardo.ca Brooklin, Ontario

Colour Me Red (Inspired by Augustus John’s Marchesa Casati, Oil, 1919)

I come from the moans of Toronto streets to look into the Marchesa’s eyes   fiery air away from pc crowds with pendulous hands and I thought of Bukowski’s words “If you’re losing your soul and you know it,  then you’ve still got a soul left to lose*”  and from Luisa’s eyes there flowed into mine her blood in my veins     a light    unrequited love

* Charles Bukowski, quote

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James Medd jamesdmedd@gmail.com Kingston, Ontario Revamps Since possession I have revamped my dwelling Ofttimes Discarding patterns of old To replace anew Adjusting fixtures of past To fit afresh Yet Through every opening Sunlight continues To cast the same shadows While moonlight persists To illuminate familiar darkness

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Becky D. Alexander thebeckster.alexander@gmail.com Cambridge, Ontario

Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893) I watch you sprout roots as a ten-year-old  student in your Quaker school, and from your father’s Free Man upbringing  that nurtured your abolitionist soul,  as you process one-way tickets at that Delaware station for the underground railroad. In the daguerreotype, you appear to be about 30, around the time you settled in Windsor, Canada West, your likeness stamped on the backdrop of those long ago black and white days. I see you at work, your fingers stained with the ink of typeset as you forge your route to glory with the Provincial Freedom— first newspaper published by a Canadian woman, first black woman published in North America. One of your eyebrows peaks more than the other, you stare out, questioning a world  confounded by the view that freed men, slaves, and white-washed immigrants must live and learn apart: you kicked all of that out of the way— just debris on a tired path. The strength of your teacher’s arm, and hard-earned law degree held the cord, helped pull back the curtains on segregated thought.

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Bradley McIlwain Devour Under 25, Editor Introduction and Call: In Sarah Shannon’s poignant and moving poem, “A Reflection,” her words powerfully express the challenges, but also hopes, of overcoming the Covid-19 global pandemic. Her words shine through, “as difficult as the year was,” to spread optimism and hope in the New Year.

Devour welcomes submissions from writers Under 25 from across Canada. Are you an experienced or emerging poet? Have something to say? We’d love to hear your voice! Send your submissions to Bradley, the Canada Under 25 Editor. We look forward to hearing from you! Bradley McIlwain lives in Ontario, Canada where he is inspired by songs in nature, and examining our relationships within it. He graduated from the University of Toronto’s iSchool, where he received his M.I. in Library and Information Science. Bradley is the editor of Buried Horror, a space for fresh voices in horror, speculative fiction, and poetry. Bradley’s latest collection of poems, Elementals, is available on Amazon and Indigo.

Sonnet XLIII Walking in and out of doors after hours — the key in the lock explores other rooms in other towers; I hear the saxophone sigh underneath the barroom sign and the neon colours keep me high drifting in and out of time — the city light serenade sweet brandy wine as wisdom masquerades the Saturday night divine — my glass, half full of words contemplating other worlds.

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Sonnet VI Midnight —I hear the freighter on the old train track in the west — whistling mystery; not long ago, I followed the path, with a book, a rucksack and a dream that suited me down to the mud on my boots no difference — between the earth and my being in the end, as in the beginning the mountains and old tree roots always worth seeing; I think about it now and then open meadows, vast golden valleys … visualizing when my next journey will be when, when … if I could, I would head down to the sea hop on the nearest galley going any place trekking new & untrodden space.

Sonnet IX In the valleys deep we wander wild meadows; all the flowers are yours to keep — between us, the cosmos echoes of marigold and violet illuminated in the autumn night … contemplating endless stars, and the unscalable size of it burning in celestial light; your eyes, keep time and harmony like the heart line on your palm love, and your sweet astrology — the still point of the calm; and your lips, a lucid dream piercing, mystical and serene

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Sarah Shannon

A Reflection As I sit back and reflect On the year gone by A world changed forever A fact we can’t deny The pandemic changed our language, Words we would rarely say, Curbside, quarantine and lockdown, Are now said every day. As difficult as the year was, Full of challenges and pain, No handshakes hugs, or gatherings, Perhaps optimism kept us sane. Despite all the obstacles and adversity, We somehow managed to cope, With the vaccine in our future, This New Year allows us to hope.

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Bruce Kauffman “Quintesentially Canadian” Editor

Bruce Kauffman lives in Kingston, Ontario and is a poet, editor, workshop facilitator, programmer/host of a spoken-word weekly radio show, and organizer of a monthly open mic poetry series. In addition to having appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, his published work includes 2 chapbooks, and 4 collection of poetry with his latest, an evening absence still waiting for moon, having launched in May 2019. He has edited 7 anthologies.

art i wonder that if in hibernation bears in their sleep create the art in their worlds their work created with the paint of memory and as fluid as water as fleeting as breath

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mid november mid morning morning slow quiet this sunday morning this solitary walk back home a bag of groceries at my side the baggage of a lifetime on my shoulders back not another soul on this sidewalk ahead or even behind here in this wind cold but not yet bitter here along this, a hollow street on one an empty park on the other side across the street an unpainted wooden deck and on its rail a large white coffee mug and the same distance into the park on its still green grass a pink slightly rolled up hoodie sweater either left behind the mug

both the sweater

remnants? or a vanishing?

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to a park, revisited to you park, if whispered secrets shared with you twenty years ago, kept both then and now could only mean we must still be friends coming back on you now for again the first in all this time, though, i am afraid i have to say how much you’ve aged branches lost even full trees felled and some of those mid sized then i do not see now and these smaller trees i remember even less i thought i knew you better and i am quite certain this now reflecting pond sitting on your west side was not there back then and i am quite certain, as well, that on this pond’s surface i know neither the face nor the man looking back at me as i look upon that image and then through it

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Quintessentially Canadian Poetry Editor: Bruce Kauffman Photo Editor: Richard M. Grove

DS Stymeist dstymeist@yahoo.ca Ottawa, ON

Erasure Smothered under snow, the black boughs, the black humps of rock. The layers silence breath, the tread of boots, the passage through black spruce. Stride by stride, limbs trudge until the glow of aura rises. Foot fall breaks apart other prints, bruising snow into a new set of tracks. Paw marks and hooves crisscross — the strut of whitetail, the skitter of mice, and there, the pounce of fox, a tuft of ruddy fur caught on rusty barb. Remains fade, become illegible, mist floats from the bog, a halo rings the diminutive, sullen sun. As I walk, I obliterate the traces, obscure these transient signs. As I walk, I iterate insignificance, erase myself.

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Chuck MacInnis

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Andrew McCallister

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Nathalie Sorensen nsorensen@cogeco.ca Kingston, ON

Not Knowing Snow falls gently on birch trees this morning a fresh coat of white on white. Each tiny flake a crystal, a six-pointed star, unique in the world. Lucent gray clouds hover over the houses, the street, the thickening snow, and I stop, take in the ease. There is so much to see, to feel, to hear. Smoke curling from chimneys, neighbours shoveling, my dog’s cold nose, muffled bells in the distance. Beneath the snow, roots and bulbs, closely held in the frozen earth, sleep. They will sense the changing season, when to stir, unfurl. All this I know, but immersed in this white world, awake to the immensity of what I don’t see, don’t hear, don’t feel, I too fall quiet, rest in the unknowing, tune my mind to the trees, to the falling snow, and to the boundless immeasurability beyond.

Sally Quon

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Sally Quon sally_quon@yahoo.com Kelowna, BC

Lost Generations Years ago, we came, we saw, we judged. We tore you away from your mother’s love, your father’s guidance, the wisdom of your Elders. We took away the language of the plants and animals, feeding you, instead, words that left a strange taste in your mouth. We spread our lies, our disease, and didn’t understand that you saw your god and ours the same. We beat you. We starved you, and when we were done, we cast you aside not one of ours; no longer one of your own. I wish you would believe me now, when I tell you I’m sorry. But why would you?

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Brian Zavitz

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Brian Zavitz

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Maria Caltabiano caltamaria@hotmail.com Montreal, QC

Fall’s Flame This fiery glow— can I name it and in naming make it mine? This serviceberry tree opens like a red umbrella over ribs of wood one cannot close. Let the bonfire in— let me be a concert hall for the symphony of shades wrongly named Fall… I’ve come to love the autumn so— much more than spring. Seems nature says goodbye with much more fervour— delirious with colours— cherry wine, tangerine, a fever of feasts lest you forget snow covers it in monochrome.

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I’ll always have a certain thing for early spring’s hello in greens, germinating hope, fresh dreams and vernal rains that wash away the winter’s waste. But no— now autumn is my flame, my heart ablaze. This poem, part of her collection ‘Drawing Daybreak’, is set to be published with Guernica, Fall 2021

Anne Pelletier

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Bradley McIlwain

Richard Johnson

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Ann Di Nardo

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Chuck MacInnis chuck@chuckmacinnis.ca Merrickville, ON

Woodsmoke Out of my memory Comes a vision Of woodsmoke Drifting Upward Through the trees Reflecting Random patterns Across The sunbeams Filtering Earthward Through The branches and leaves

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Antony Di Nardo dinardoa@me.com Cobourg, ON

The Lawnmower The nuthatch sits at the top of its food chain. The lawnmower’s up there too. Look at them both on my planet Lying down in a sentence like that. My ears turn to the grrrr of motorized blades While my eyes settle on the pines, Trees that dictate more words to the page That I can catch: One for every falling leaf, One coming my way now And landing as a curl in the cup of a birch, Autumn down on its knees and taking a sip. But my neighbour’s lawnmower’s set on “Rabbit” And making a racket, going back and forth Back and forth on my planet That’s deep in the pines. Deep in the pines.

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Anne Pelletier

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Anne Pelletier

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Mia Burrus miaburrus@gmail.com Baltimore, ON

an untitled poem about snow The snow hissed in crystals across the field, spun out like floss then flattened into a satiny sheet, blinding me to its fine diamonds. No canvas so boldly and brightly displays the resolve of the coyotes, the hunger of the voles, as the unblemished snow. Now blue-stockinged tree shadows drain out from inky windbreaks. The smell of snow rides in on what’s left of the wind. Sunset, and a sudden scentless reverie of crimson-lipped, dripping tropical plants burns out in the monochrome dusk. Inside, the red of the fire draws out the sun’s short day. Far above the velvet clouds the sky must be jet and set with fine diamonds.

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Dan Turcotte dan@petshopproductions.com Roslin, ON

Canadian Winter I do love a Canadian winter So Pure So calm SO soft The cold keeps the hurry at bay Some happiness Visits Warms The Canadian winter is not the last season It’s the resting Rekindling Restoring And in the late fall of my life, it reminds me That my daughter Is springing To life For a season more May the snowflakes kiss her eyelashes always My joy My protected My eternal life

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Sally Quon

Sally Quon

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Ann Di Nardo

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Lee-Ann Taras leeanntaras@kos.net Kingston, ON

Our Garden in October squash imbued with the hue of mocha cream green tomatoes neglected and forsaken on the vine ideal for spicy salsa or sizzling in the pan beans persistent and stubborn in their bearing of fruit pick and eat them raw steamed or blanched and frozen a plump, round pumpkin ripe and ready for Hallows’ Eve sunflowers tall and bright yellow in their beauty shy from a frost reddish, purple blossoms on Thai basil its’ leaves now faded and tough flat and curly parsley lush in extravagant bushes potatoes red and white caked, deep in the earth cabbages silver-green and ruffled just like the kale the pots of geranium, hibiscus and begonia lavender, rosemary and thyme now tucked away in our house to over-winter a bird bath made by my hands stained with black paint on cement placed by the hanging bird feeder bursting with seed millet, sunflower, peanut and grain an antique wooden and tin holder of suet loaded and left for the birds to get fat

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Kamal Parmar serenity.343@gmail.com Nanaimo, BC

Flaming Sunset on Vancouver Island The sun is mouldering and the sky is on fire. Velvety hills dappled with cypress and conifers, flecked with sunlight and shade, rise up silently towards the tawny sky. Hemmed in the horizon, a turquoise lake mirrors scarlet hues that change to a soft grey in minutes. In the wide chasm of a summer evening, a burst of swallows takes wing, black specks disappearing into the grey expanse. The sun sinks below the horizon and the lake shimmers no more. Its placid waters faintly visible in the mist-swirled valley. The sacred hush of the evening broken by a swift, as it slices the balmy air. A cuckoo calls his mate. Sitting on a hill, I watch Brennon Lake below, so still. The evening star beckons from the landscape hallowed by the twilight. I hear a whisper from the heavens, “I made this just for you.�

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Cindy Conlin

Cindy Conlin

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Patricia Calder

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Dinh Le Doan phung7170@gmail.com Beaconsfield, QC

The Earth Tilts Its Head Back The earth tilts its head back further and the slanting sun becomes a glob of flame that loses its warmth. Midwinter. We live in a chilly world. Trees clatter their teeth on bad wind days. And snow raining down day after day. The earth’s belly swells with undigested snow. And the cedar hedge blooms white from head to toe. And on a rare warm day ice may fall from the sky. Icy remains of a wayward comet that plunged to earth —lest we think the worst’s over in midwinter.

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Teresa Hall thallartist@gmail.com Scarborough, ON

The Grizzly I will walk in the wild world, far from my mother’s side. My footprints marking the edge of the shore, on my way to the timberline. Tall pines and white mountains beckon, this is where I’ll survive, in a dark den for the sleep time, deep in a snowy hillside. In the springtime when I awaken, I must find a mate somehow, then I’ll vanish into the hinterland, I belong to the forest now.

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Stephanie Waring

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Stephanie Waring

Stephanie Waring

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John Mundy john99mundy@gmail.com Merrickville, ON

My Restless Spirit For weeks and months the river flows  until the weather circles back  to harder times  when the water slows  steaming on frosty mornings  until one December day  It stops. The river’s frozen. Now wind and snow throw   new patterns across the ice. It can be a mirror    like a summer day   except cracked and frosted,  throwing fractured images of skidding, leaden skies. Or I stand far out   from the river’s bank  on sculpted waves of snow   watching crests drift past.  Best of all are the coldest days  when the surface cracks and booms  like a living thing.  The river, my frozen river,   sooths my restless spirit. 

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Richard M. Grove

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Richard M. Grove

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Richard M. Grove

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A Day in Quarantine with a Family of Five Kids Matthew Owen Gwathmey gwathmey@gmail.com

8:00 AM: The self-sufficiency experiment fails again. A kid’s attempt to grab a box of cereal from on top of the fridge ends in that kid falling off of the counter and knocking off all the cereal boxes. Pretty impressive, actually. You try to be more concerned with the moaning kid than with the balls, clusters and flakes of cereal strewn about the floor. 8:15 AM: You have inadvertently chosen what you will be eating for breakfast when you give the coconut milk kid almond milk and the almond milk kid coconut milk. Your idea for them to just switch cereals is met with derisive laughter, as the coconut milk kid cannot eat little O’s and the almond milk kid

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cannot eat puffed rice. It looks like you will be eating two bowls of cereal this morning: little O’s with almond milk and puffed rice with coconut milk. You combine both creations into a large mixing bowl because it all tastes the same anyway. 8:30 AM: Coffee can’t percolate fast enough. 9:00 AM: By this time, the “morning routine” should be finished up (kids eaten breakfast, dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, clean dishes put away, dirty dishes loaded, anything else anyone might need to do to get ready for the day). Everyone realizes that this time is completely arbitrary, and there are invariably stragglers who are still in their PJs or haven’t touched their toothbrushes in weeks. You frequently remind the kids that you used to have to do all of this by seven in the morning! Plus make school lunches! Plus pack school bags! Plus, six months of the year, put on snow jackets, pants, hats and gloves! So what in the world is taking everyone so long?! You feel a little bit better after yelling this.

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9:30 AM: “Free” time, though the list of what is acceptable during “free” time is so short that it hardly resembles anything that is free. The list of allowable activities during this time: Quietly playing with Lego Quietly playing the keyboard (headphones key here) A quiet card game A quiet board game Quietly searching a place you haven’t left for months for something, anything that seems new and interesting. Best spots for exciting finds include: under beds, in the corners of closets and the plastic tubs in the basement. This specific day, one of the kids finds these posters underneath the shoe rack in your closet. You totally forgot about these posters, cannot even remember where they came from, just that you had planned on getting them framed at some point and then completely forgot about them. You thank said child for finding said posters, try to turn it into some kind of teachable moment, clean up the dust bunnies that inevitably come from dragging out something from a floor space that has never been cleaned, roll the posters back up as carefully as possible, then stuff them right back where they came from, to be forgotten until the next quarantine.

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10:30 AM: School work. You’ve been promised that a solid hour and a half of learning at home is equal to a day at school. You are sure that the person who said this was not very good at math. Or ever homeschooled. A solid five minutes with everyone at the table working is tough to get most days. You have never been this far behind in emails your entire life. Daily emails from well-meaninged teachers suggesting this activity or that exercise. It’s not their fault you have five kids and once received eleven emails with work that the kids “could” be doing. You have to ask to the one empty chair: when did you sign up to be a pre-K to Grade 9 teacher? For a while there, all the proposed work (it can only be theoretical, because nothing is submitted for a grade anymore) was to be done electronically. Good for the environment but not good for the family with five kids, one computer, and the printer with no ink. So you now have paper packets of work for them to do. You thank one intrepid principal and ask for forgiveness from the earth each time you bring out education. This one particular math problem you are helping a kid with today is about recycling. At least the work is environmentally friendly. Jill recycled 4,320 pounds of material from her school, like she did every four weeks. She had to do it, as all those milk cartons and juice boxes were building up and taking over every classroom again. If there were three times as many milk cartons as juice boxes by weight, how much milk does a kid need to drink in a day? You get a barely-controllable urge to throw all the packets of paper in the recycling. To help the environment. Noon: Cereal for lunch! 1:00 PM: Reading time is the best time! You take pride in the number of books you have in the house, then realize that most of the kids’ books are from the public library. Will they ever need them back? You start to think of the books as your own, even peel off a few of the circulation stickers. You don’t throw them away, however, in case they do eventually send out email notices stating that the books are overdue. 2:00 PM: Around this time is separation time. The key is to not have everyone in the same room. Judging by the mood in the house, you can divide them into groups of two and three or two, two, one, if someone wants some “alone” time (hard not to laugh when someone says this). If the mood is too intense, give everyone “alone” time. You have just enough rooms for everyone to occupy one of them, alone, so send them all off at random and enjoy the

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twenty-eight seconds of peace. You may have to keep recommending things they can do in their assigned room. The kid sent to the laundry room will particularly have a boring hour. This is a good time to catch up on some laundry!

3:00 PM: This is the one time today you will venture off of your property. Shake off that nervousness you feel. It’s hard to believe that something you’ve done hundreds of times (going on a bike ride with the kids on the trail by your house) now makes you anxious and slightly worried. Believe it. Just a few months ago, you wouldn’t think twice about leading this bike gang along that paved path, hollering for bike bells and stop signs. Now, as you all don masks with your helmets, remind the kids about the importance of social distancing. Even when biking on the trail. Demonstrate this distance by using a jump rope also found in the garage. When one of the kids remarks that this is the width of the trail, and if we encounter someone else along the path, then to keep a proper social distance we will have to move off the pavement. Then another kid wonders how this can be accomplished where the trail goes over the stream, and either side drops down a steep precipice… Laugh off their concerns. 4:00 PM: A thorough scrub down. Happy birthday to us. 5:00 PM: Cereal for supper! 6:00 PM: Break down and let them play video games. 7:00 PM: Remember you have a dog that needs to go for a walk. Walk around the yard thirty times.

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8:00 PM: When asked about a bedtime snack, you offer a small cup of cereal, dry, to be eaten by hand, as all the spoons are dirty. Amazingly, no one is that hungry. 8:15 PM: Cereal for bedtime snack! It’s a completely different food when eaten dry and by hand and out of a cup! Have everyone stretch out a pinkie finger to make it fancy. 8:30 PM: Regale the kids with a bedtime story, usually jumpstarted by a family photo. This particular story is about how the dentist left a wisdom tooth in your partner’s mouth. Ask everyone to count to four. Yes, even the four-year-old can do it quite easily. Explain that most people have four wisdom teeth that have to be removed at some point. Ensure that everyone can still count to four. Explain that soon after your partner woke up from having her wisdom teeth removed, she very carefully (explain to the kids the importance of being very careful with your mouth after wisdom teeth removal, there are stitches and a lot of blood) ran her tongue along her bottom teeth. What should have felt like soft gum and stitches felt like a tooth. A visual check confirmed that yes, there was still a wisdom tooth there! Role play the visit the next day to the dentist. You play the role of the dental surgeon, as you first promise that in no way could you have forgotten a tooth, then guffaw, then act amazed and apologetic that you indeed cannot count to four, that you only removed three. Guarantee that no one will be charged for the removal of a tooth that was not removed. Remedy the situation right then and there by suggesting that you use a pair of pliers and local anesthesia to get rid of the offensive remnant. Pretend to pull out the final wisdom tooth and display the tap root to the kids in a moment of triumph. Question the symbolic significance of your profession in a heartfelt soliloquy. I pull out wisdom from people’s mouths. Yet it does not make me any smarter… They should be ready for bed now. 9:00 PM: Spend about an hour trying to convince the kids that sleep is important, that routines are important, that the “early bed, early to rise” garbage means something real. Play relaxing music that they don’t really know. Issue 010

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Mazzy Star maybe. Do not play upbeat music to which they know every word and will start singing while jumping on their beds, like Big Block Singsong. Oh no, do not make that mistake again. With towels, drapes or anything sheet-like you have handy, try to prevent rays of light from coming in through the windows to persuade them that it is indeed nighttime. If you must, threaten to separate them or banish them to the most uncomfortable couch in the house. Realize that you are playing the long game. Silence by 10:00 PM is a victory!

10:00 PM: Finally, an hour alone from the kids. Make sure the show you watch with your partner does not require you to think too much. Stare listlessly at the TV and laugh a few times when you think you should laugh. Though a voice in the back of your head will mention the words “intermittent fasting,” snacks and drinks are a must during this hour. 11:00 PM: Bring cereal boxes down and put them on the table. Go to bed satisfied that everyone is alive. Do not try and figure out what day of the week it is. Ponder why you are so exhausted. Hope you will sleep in to 8:30 AM. Repeat.

Matthew Gwathmey lives with his partner and children in Fredericton, New Brunswick. He studied creative writing at the University of Virginia, and has work published in The Malahat Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Fire, The Fiddlehead and The Iowa Review, as well as other literary magazines. He is currently working on his PhD at the University of New Brunswick. His first poetry collection, Our Latest in Folktales, was published by Brick Books in the spring of 2019.

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Ann Di Nardo

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Ann Di Nardo

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Ann Di Nardo

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Christopher Grove Click the link to see more pics by Christopher Grove: https://pixels.com/featured/winter-shoreline-at-presquile-christophergrove.html?fbclid=IwAR3HyU754iYHLexMPjwMVn8IEgpKXq7njpy8vSwz15HGa8l1w6_uIkKkx8E

Christopher Grove

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Christopher Grove

Christopher Grove

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Ted Amsden

Profile for Hidden Brook Press

Devour: Art and Lit Canada, issue 010 Winter 2020 - 2021