Editor-in-Chief: g.d. currie Administrative Editor: Patrick Outhwaite Managing Editor: Zoe Shaw Faculty Advisor: Eli MacLaren Fiction Editor: Mackenzie Bleho Poetry Editor: Angelina Mazza Visual Editor: Arie Kharasch Promotions Editor: Jennifer Mancini Webmaster: Mihai Patrascu Design: [tin_factory] Scrivener Creative Review Issue 45 - Digital Edition May 2020 Scrivener Creative Review is a journal of arts and letters based in Montréal, Canada. For general inquiries, please visit us at scrivenercreativereview.com, or contact us by email at email@example.com Scrivener Creative Review McGill University 853 Sherbrooke St. West Arts Building Montréal, Québec Canada, H3A 0G5 Printed by XXXXXXXXXXXXX, Montréal
Scrivener Creative Review gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by the Fine Arts Council, the Dean of Arts Development Fund, the Department of English Students’ Association, the Students’ Society of McGill University, and the Arts Undergraduate Society.
Contents Introduction 4
5 14 27 43
12 18 20 22 24 34 36 38 41 53 54 57 58 61 62
A letter from the Editor
Unpacking A Collapsible Newfoundland: An Interview with Patrick O’Reilly Sonal Sher: Carving Knife Marco diPasquale: Superstimuli Maya Mahony: Sool and Isobel Aya Satoh: Variations on Hot Water Joan Meyer: Horror of an Exquisite Corpse Lisa Vlasova: dream of lighter harvests Kaily Dorfman: Seven Years Later Leah Callen: Featherhead Audrey Lindemann: stealin Samira Abed: Milk Smell Tiia Kelly: Hot 4 Century Marie McGrath: Dress Up Tazi Rodrigues: preparation stephanie roberts: Subcutaneous Organ Music DS Maolalai: Levi: the testimony Kobus Moolman: Two Poems Noah Zacharin: three parts pigeon & one part human Thomas Koht: Two Poems
Art and Photography 13 / 19 21 23 26 / 30 / 33 37
Abdullah Quick: Mountain of Steel / Symbiosis Roland Kulla: 9th St. I François Émond: Station Atwater vendredi soir Nathan Bayne: Transcendence / Quarantine / Butterfly Effect Jian Sitri: Chiron
Scrivener Creative Review Issue 45 Digital Edition Copyrights are retained by the artists upon publication. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the copyright holder’s express permission.
Art and Photography 40 42 / 56 51 52 55 60
Anthony Jamie Bucciacchio with Marshall Hoang: A Place I Remember Myriam Wares: Maze / Mystery Garden Christeen Francis: Shatter Alexia McKindsey: The Nativity of Wedgwood Esther Calixte-Bea: 9 degrees Crystel Pereira: Pigeon Man
My original letter was longer than this one. It felt trite and overwritten. Instead: The poems, stories, and artwork in this issue predate the current state of things. They are good, and full of heart. Enjoy them, share them, and be well.
g.d. currie Editor-in-Chief
Unpacking A Collapsible Newfoundland An Interview with Patrick O’Reilly
Patrick O’Reilly is a Montreal-based poet, editor, and archivist-in-utero. Before quarantine measures took effect, Scrivener had the chance to sit down with him and discuss his debut chapbook, A Collapsible Newfoundland. Scrivener: Some poets write entirely for themselves—poetry as its own reward—but you seem to have also cultivated a social-facing awareness. How does this feature in your poetic process? Patrick O’Reilly: If you’re going to be at all sustainable you have to write stuff that you like first and foremost, because you’re going to have to spend a lot of time with it. It’s like getting married—you don’t have to like everything about that person, but you have to like enough. You’ve also got to have the confidence to believe that someone is going to read your work and it’s going to mean something to them. There’s always a balancing of the two. Which is less narcissistic? Is it shutting myself up in a room and writing only what I like, or is it putting stuff out there regardless of whether it has anything to say? One thing about putting it out there, whether it means anything or not, is that people start to engage with it. They can write it off or they can praise it, but you learn something about your process and your poetry from their reactions, and that might make you a better poet. I’ve come around to believing that it’s not enough to sit in a room and write all day, but fundamentally you do have to sit in a room and write all day, just with some purpose in mind. SCR: Does your new chapbook, A Collapsible Newfoundland, represent the culmination of any particular purpose? POR: That’s something I still struggle with because I’m not totally sure I have a point. I’ve never felt like a particularly deep or insightful person, especially compared to a lot of poets that I enjoy who are socially active and very well read. I’m not that guy. One thing that kept me from abandoning the project, as I am often wont to do, was thinking of it as a proof-of-concept book. I don’t always have an argument in my head, but I do have a landscape that I want to depict. I don’t necessarily want to say that it’s a process poem, but a lot of it is about the practice of trying to patch together all the different elements that make up a place. So if I have a point, making the thing is the point. SCR: Why ‘A Collapsible Newfoundland’? POR: The idea of collapse is really prevalent in Newfoundland discourse. We’ve been in a state of economic collapse since long before I was born. Collapse is a very
loaded term there, but I thought of it more as…have you ever seen those peddlers who have a case full of the wares they’re selling that they can close up and cart off? It’s this portable, foldable, shrinkable thing. That was the idea: you take this whole big cosmos and shrink it down to twenty-two pages—all the stuff that you’ve been carrying around from Renews to Port-aux-Basques, to Wainwright, Alberta and back again. SCR: How long have you been working on A Collapsible Newfoundland? POR: I think as a serious, concentrated thing: since 2011. Almost 10 years in the making. You think you’d be further along after ten years, right? [chuckles] It was always changing shape, warping and twisting. I did a creative writing thesis in my undergrad that was a mock epic history of Newfoundland—it didn’t turn out very well I’m afraid. I might revisit it one day, but that’s where I started to come into these ideas. It comes from talking with family about what it’s like to call yourself a Newfoundlander when you don’t live in Newfoundland, when all the places and things that you used as proof of your Newfoundland-iness—Newfoundlandery?— don’t exist anymore. They’re purely constructions of the brain, false credentials. I don’t feel like I’m done with it yet. It might be the thing that I end up doing forever, whether I want to or not. SCR: I got the sense that A Collapsible Newfoundland is concerned with constant return, with coming and going and how those two things are very often the same thing. I felt that particularly strongly in the cycle of poems about Renews. What place does Renews occupy in your landscape? POR: I was born, like most people in my part of Newfoundland, in a hospital in St. John’s. When I was three, we moved to my mother’s hometown, a very small place called Renews. It’s one of those little fishing outports, with about three hundred people, and her family had been there for a couple of generations. We moved there in 1992, which was the same year that the cod moratorium was instituted. So what I grew up with wasn’t this picture postcard version of Newfoundland, it was a Newfoundland in flux. Growing up where a lot of kids’ fathers were living in Alberta working the oil patch, where only a couple people’s parents were still fishing, seeing that sort of uncertainty, it’s a lot to lay at the feet of a three-year-old. What is this place? Why are we still here? What is there around for us? How are we as kids going to have any fun? How are we, as adults, going to have jobs? It was taken for granted that we would all move away eventually. Renews is still the place I’ve lived the longest, however. It barely exists anymore, but it’s where I’m from. SCR: Do you still have family there? POR: No, actually. My grandma lived there, but she passed away last year. That was kind of the final nail in the coffin. I went back for the funeral and everybody from three or four towns around came out because everybody knew everybody,
everybody was related. There were people coming up and shaking my hand saying, ‘how are you Paddy b’y?’, with me not knowing if I knew who they were at all, but they knew me. That was a sensation. I’ve got people there...but they’re not really my people either. SCR: Do you ever feel like your poems are representations of those interpersonal connections? Where there is a need for constant input to stay alive, yet there is a certain point where all that is living is the connection? POR: I try to pay attention to other people, but people as figures or characters tend not to show up in my poetry a lot. There’s not a lot of interpersonal dynamic stuff happening, usually just an “I” that I’m ambivalent about, just sitting there, listening or watching or anticipating. A lot of poems for me are triggered by turns of phrase, like hearing somebody from back home say, ‘I’m after been to the shop,’ and knowing exactly what they mean, when from a King’s English standpoint it’s incomprehensible. When I was six or seven my entire school was brought into the assembly room and the principal gave us all a lecture on how we weren’t talking correctly. She would wander up and down the aisles, bouncing her metre stick on her hand saying, ‘those are his laces,’ and we’d answer back, ‘dose are he’s lacens.’ She told us that if we didn’t learn how to talk right, if we didn’t know how to suppress that accent a little bit, it was going to be tough for us to get work on the road. You know, like you tell a six-year-old—as if that’s at the forefront of their mind. But it did come to the forefront of my mind. I went home and I watched the national news with Peter Mansbridge for a good while after that, working on getting that accent out. I wish I hadn’t so much, and it’s created a lot of uncertainty. If I say a thing this way, is that natural to me or is that a construct? What does my brain say, and how much of my brain has given over to the mainland cable TV gentrification process? That’s why getting back, listening to people talk, tuning my ear to things that I probably said a thousand times when I was a kid but hadn’t remembered, is really important to me. SCR: The common ground seems to be that language is this intimate part of yourself that you are expected to use as your universal public interface. POR: Right. I wouldn’t want to draw too strong a parallel because the experiences are day and night, but when I hear racialised poets in America and Canada talking about code switching, I can relate to that on some level. I’m a pretty pasty white guy, but that I get—the job interview voice, the school presentation voice, as opposed to your out in the garage working on the car with Dad voice. For people who do find themselves oscillating between this or that kind of language pattern, intentionally or not, you become a kind of a hybrid, chimerical thing. I had someone say to me that they wanted to read one of my poems for a project, because they really like the chapbook, but they didn’t feel it was appropriate for them because of the accent. They didn’t want to get it wrong. They had my full
blessing, but I appreciate that they took that into consideration. I’m glad it’s giving people those kind of thoughts. SCR: Does that factor into your voice when you are writing? Are you thinking about how your family will read this versus someone from the general public? POR: Yes, very much. I want to write smart poems, don’t get me wrong. I’ve done the whole thing—I’ve read the modernists. I’m hip, I’ve got it. [chuckles] And I do want to write things that are not just conceptually complex but also linguistically and metrically complex. But I don’t want to do that in such a way that my mom can’t read it and enjoy it. Since the chapbook has come out, I know a lot of my family back in Newfoundland and a lot of the people they know have bought it. They’ve been really proud of me, really supportive, and I expect in a lot of cases that this is the only book of poetry in those homes. That means so much to me: the idea that this is a book that I wrote in one of the most highfalutin universities in the country and that someone in Mount Pearl is reading it and saying, ‘I find that really funny, I like that, I remember when this happened to me.’ At the same time, I hear from some people in what you’d call the ‘poetry establishment,’ saying, ‘oh this is pretty good,’—though I haven’t seen the same enthusiasm and I wouldn’t expect it. They’re engaging with things on a very critical level and picking things apart, but I hope it rewards those kinds of readings as well. SCR: There is a line in ‘Renews 2121’: ‘a national literature begins with a flood.’ How does national literature figure in the scope of your work? POR: One of the tricky things for me and one thing I interrogated both from a poetic standpoint but also in some of my critical reviews is: how can you make a national literature when you don’t have a nation? Ireland has a national literature, America has its canon, Canada is definitely a national literature kind of place… but Newfoundland didn’t join Canada until 1949. There was a whole literature that preceded its entry that has largely been wiped out, and what has followed has been put into a specific little box that we’re just starting to break out of. How do you construct a national literature when what you would have considered your nation, the nation your grandparents were born into, is gone? If you’re a Newfoundlander who lives in Alberta, or a Newfoundlander who lives in Ontario, it becomes this pseudo-nation that isn’t tied to a geographic place anymore. Can you create a national literature from people who are scattered all across the globe? What kind of a nation is that? ‘Nation’ is a word that doesn’t have one strong definition, and a lot of its definitions are ones we should probably shy away from. I am part of a generation whose members have identified themselves as Newfoundlanders while only spending part of their lives in Newfoundland. It’s a kind of diaspora...another loaded term.
SCR: These terms tend to become loaded in an academic context—rightfully so, given the broader audience and dispassionate stance required by the discourse. There is a qualitative difference when you are talking with your buddies, trying to figure out for yourselves what it means to be whatever it is you are. POR: That’s very much the case. I was reading a book recently by Jennifer Bowering Delisle called The Newfoundland Diaspora where she analyzes whether or not you can fairly say that Newfoundlanders are a diasporic community. We do a lot of things that diasporas do. We identify outwardly as Newfoundlanders. You go anywhere in Canada and you’ll see a car with one of those pink, white, and green stickers in the window, or you’ll hear people talking in bars about ‘home.’ I was on the metro last week and I thought, ‘that woman is from Mount Pearl,’ not even just Newfoundland but specifically Mount Pearl. Where some of the wrinkles get in is that, in some classical definitions, diasporas are indigenous, and a lot of people who identify as Newfoundlanders are settler Canadians. Diasporas are often fleeing greater hardships—our economy is bad for sure, but we weren’t facing genocide or civil war. I’m perfectly open to the debate. If someone with a better education than me wants to say Newfoundland isn’t a diaspora, then okay, I don’t have any particular horse in the race. But it is something like that...we’re not even an immigrant community because we’re Canadians now. A similar example was in the American dustbowl when all the Okies went to California...that Grapes of Wrath narrative. Was that a diaspora? I don’t know. SCR: Or all the Acadians shunted down to the South? POR: Yeah, was that one? If you’re exported as a kind of government program, is that a diaspora? I think there’s a certain amount of implication in diaspora that you left, not of your own volition, but because you made a life or death choice on the side of, ‘I have to leave,’ rather than, ‘well, I guess the government is forcing me to leave now.’ It’s kind of ambivalent. What I do know is that Newfoundlanders find each other when we go places, and we’re happy to see each other...usually. Newfoundlanders like other Newfoundlanders a lot more on the mainland than they do when they’re in Newfoundland. SCR: Who, in your opinion, are we not reading enough of? POR: Bertille Tobin, who was a housewife in Newfoundland in the middle part of the twentieth century. She is not remembered at all. She wrote one book and it exists in one library in Canada—the University of Toronto Rare Books collection. The situation being what it was, she didn’t really get to show her work to the world. She wrote largely about the seasons changing and stuff like that, but in this really off-the-wall way. Here’s the start of a poem called ‘The Apple Tree’: ‘The apple tree is full of quadrilaterals polygons triangles of all sorts.’ Bringing in that weird geometric language in the midst of this otherwise very Victorian nature poem is just like...what kind of mind you must have to be doing that in 1943, when you don’t
really have a poetic community! SCR: So, what’s next for you? POR: I am writing. Once I got this finished, I felt a little more confident in my writing. It’s been exciting. I’ve got the foundations for another chapbook, and maybe for a full book. The real crossroads for me is: ‘Is this a vein that I want to go into?’ Because having worked on A Collapsible Newfoundland I feel very much in this pocket. Would it be beneficial for me to try to do something else entirely? I’m writing poems about this, poems about neuroscience or marine biology, poems about old I Love Lucy episodes…I think I’m in the stage of just doing whatever the fuck I want, and it’s getting to some good places. The big thing right now is I’m finishing up this degree, and then maybe this summer when I’m unemployed, and bored, and I haven’t been able to afford to eat for a couple days, and I don’t have any energy to do anything but write, maybe then I’ll get to the real work on it. SCR: What do you need a break from? Or what do you want more of? POR: I have the same answer for both. We’re in this state of really big political crisis, a really divisive, chaotic time, and that’s exhausting. But maybe that’s what you’ve got to do to effect the kind of change you want to see. So as much as I click onto Twitter, or whatever, and immediately sigh and turn it off again—it needs to happen. I need to be more active. I need a break from poetry, but I want more. It’s all the same thing. It’s exhausting, it’s hard work, it’s sometimes discouraging, but it’s good for you. It’s vegetables. So I guess more of everything, and less resistance.
A Collapsible Newfoundland is published by Frog Hollow Press and can be ordered directly from the publisher via their website: www.froghollowpress.com
Right: The poet in Renews, NL. Photo credit: Lisa Banks
Aya Satoh Variations on Hot Water TASTE
the quick saliva flush from under the tongue before I vomit and remember the
of loss—long silver chopsticks that my mother, grandmother and aunt used to take my grandfather’s bones from the fire. I am unsure of the
behind all this. My native face and foreign body so incongruous to
and to what would have been expected of me had my father not moved us to Gloucester, Mass. without my mother’s consent before I was born but while she was pregnant. And her
rage filling up juice boxes and littering the cracks of the Volvo. What we claimed as the torture of being in the same room with real Japanese children nine o’clock to twelve every Saturday for years. And the repetition of
cousins in Tokyo, painting their boomboxes with Magic Markers and savoring macadamia nut chocolates so much slower than us. Not the post-war
or the way my grandmother flavored hot water with mustard and called it curry.
Carving Knife Sonal Sher
It is Holi, the festival of colours but you just want to eat the ham sandwich in peace. You remember playing only once, at six with cousins that you don’t see anymore. The surviving memories are of reddish skin, rubbed hard with soap for hours to remove the patches of colours, all of which had assimilated into a greyish green shade everywhere. Of men on the streets, their faces greenish grey, silver, charcoal, dark vermillion laughing boisterously like an indestructible king. The story goes that once there lived an immortal ruler, deathless, blessed so by a certain god. He turned evil—plotted murder of his son—but good had to triumph, and so the son fought back. Invoked weaponry, another god and saved his soul. And thus it became blasphemous to consume meat today. You don’t really know why you celebrate Holi; maybe it’s because of a third god, the promiscuous one who would rub colour on the faces and bodies of the women in his village, insecure of his own blue. Or a fourth one, the god of love who returned from ashes. You don’t know. You don’t know and grow confused about your feelings for the nest of figurines and photographs in your home-temple, the lower cabinet of a wardrobe. Who amongst them deserves your complete submission, for some day he or she might save your life? Outside, the children play with each other, guns in hands, dousing each other with water. But you just want to eat the remains of a ham sandwich, the only edible item in the refrigerator. You have been lying on the bed for a week. It has not gone away, the tiredness that welds you inside the blanket, making you believe that just one more dream will make it vanish. Your only company is the black and white stray cat that comes and goes through the window. This friendship came as a surprise. There was no food supply at first, no reason for a creature to want you. It must be someone trying to make contact, you rationalised, your father… and looked for a sign. Perhaps the way the cat nuzzled against you, played spontaneously and sat in silence for hours—but the images feel fabricated almost, like the powers of the almirah gods. None of the gods advised you to be an omnivore and you learnt early to neatly divide faces into sets and sub-sets. Vegetarians, vegetarians but egg eaters, non-vegetarians who only ate chicken, only ate fish, only ate lamb and… those; those who eat everything, you heard in whispers. You had wondered what everything meant but never asked for you were too afraid of what the answer might be. A phone ring assaults the numb air, your whole body is clammy with sweat but you unpeel it from the bed. It is the number that your motor functions are programmed to pick. The decision is already made. Hello, Your palpitating mind is cemented in time and the tongue takes over. A mandatory exchange of chitchat floats over something brewing, walls contract, air
gets hot, and before you know it she is there (for a casual visit) and it has been one-hundred and forty-four hours since you last heard your own voice. You instantly become something foreign, homeless, having abandoned her, no longer bowing to the almirah gods for they simply disappointed you, their code failed to reboot your life repeatedly till you finally snapped your fingers and her universe turned to dust. You killed them to save yourself. She saw the vacancy and slipped into the empty spot, “only to keep the seat warm.” Crumbs to find the way home. She considers your godlessness juvenile, advises not to consume intoxicants (meat) every eleventh day of the lunar month, on the lunar eclipse, days of the ancestors, days of the gods, days when they vanquished evil, their birthday, rebirth, marriage, visits home, construction of new homes. You pretend to nod along to the diktat, guilty. Only you know that you are a meat eater, a secret beef consumer, your godlessness has transitioned from childish to obscene and you are afraid. The cat pops up outside the window for the second time in the day, like a persistent salesman. And you can’t help but slide the glass pane to let it in. The cat instantly climbs up the window and lands on the two-seater sofa close by, jogging through the corridor and confidently towards the kitchen. One particular night, in a particularly lonely moment it had climbed into your lap, pupils dilated, pitch black mass of gravity, momentarily sucking the darkness away. From then on the cat had come and gone as it pleased. She calls the animal filthy, just as the cat’s paws hit the floor. Hurls abuses that feel like a condemnation of not the animal but your relationship with it. She has changed too, her last alliance, with a fifth god whose demands are absolute. White. So pure that you dissolve, into an opinion of you that floats in the air, making, adjusting, unmaking, till finally the only thing that you have in common with her is lost. The purity pierced a hole, and memories have been forcing out all at once, tearing you apart. Food does not taste the same anymore. Lunch becomes dissent. A host of words amasses inside your skull tearing against your bones to be let out. And you now find yourself locked inside the bathroom deeply distressed and applying a cloud of smoke to preserve the fabric of sanity. You come out, choosing to believe that she does not really hate the animal, that deep down she wants to pet its soft, clean fur and that she too will change her mind, as once you had. But you feel her unwelcoming stare at the cat, preoccupied with licking itself clean, freezing out the disapproval, and you feel a spasmodic thrill; of someone standing their ground against your god, for you always fail, reduced to a pasty broken biscuit that had been dipped into hot tea. Finally victory when, after many hours, she pets the cat. You gloat about predicting that this would happen and then immediately criticise your indulgence and stop. She streaks the fur a bright yellow from its neck down to its tail with the Holi colour, blessing its alien body. The cat slips out of her grip and climbs the centre table, nestling between the dried flowers and a pool of wires, to clean itself. Licking the yellow off.
And immediately you rush to its side fearing it might poison itself. As the colour fades into a cloth wipe, a rot strengthens the air. She does not like the attention that you give the animal. You feel her unwelcoming stare. Biscuit. Hot tea. Dissolve. Hello, All that remains now are her eyes looking at a body that looks like you and is mechanically wiping a street animal—a no good infiltrator who feeds off you and offers nothing in return. You want to escape and the only way is to stop cleaning and briefly you do contemplate the severeness of the poisoning if you do. But the words wake up again, eager to crush everything around, sure that the cat would die if you stop. You feel them shift down from your skull to under your lungs, trying to burst out through the pipes in protest. Crack. The stare continues to bait but you can’t let it out. You run to the bathroom. You tell yourself to not fuck up, again breathing in the smoke, one second at a time, till finally the mind begins to hit submission. You inhale knowing that your lungs cannot take this much smoke and that you have already smoked once this morning but you negotiate with yourself, make an exception. It is a time of crisis you tell yourself. You promise yourself that you will give up weed for a whole week as soon as she is gone but as you take a second puff you feel that even a shorter purge would suffice, that it will all be over soon. Eighty-two thousand eight hundred seconds later precisely. You hear seconds pass by, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, till the colony is sedated into another slumber. You take a long shower and stare out of the window distracting yourself, watching the black and white dog chasing its tail, the woman walking with the basket of fish, the children firing at each other with water guns. You remember that one Holi with the cousins, warmth of the February sun. You cry. You want to stay in the cloud of smoke and steam but you prepare the face to smile. And this is when your stomach grumbles. You immediately think of the leftover ham sandwich in the refrigerator and it fills you with salty nutty cranberry-hued hope for the first time since sunrise. All you want to do is eat the ham sandwich. As you step out the cat is waiting right outside the bathroom door and it follows you around in hopes of feed. You call it greedy, open the front door and drop the cat outside and then close the window pane so it won’t sneak back in. Colony sedated, infiltrator out, you congratulate yourself on mastering the art of peace. The stomach grumbles again, you take out the sandwich and wait as it heats over the pan, convinced that you are following the accord. As you bite into the sandwich she asks, “What is in it?” Ham, you say casually, walking the thin line because you believe your flawless narration of the Gayatri mantra would save you if there ever comes a time. Because beef fry doesn’t remind you of home (unlike others). What is in it? Ham. What is in it? Ham. What is in it? Ham. You repeat the words to yourself repeatedly till the phone ring assaults the numb air of your home again. The cat is snoozing by the window in the late after-
noon sun and it has been eighty-five days since you last heard her voice, when she left (right after the sandwich). You know that the words will be opaque, pleasantries, a quietly brewing horde; but you will never mention the real contents of the sandwich. You will never be asked. Because she never stormed out of your home to wash off the stink; because you donâ€™t need to talk; because DNA, love, blood, telepathy; and that she believes she already knows who you are, or are supposed to be. You decide to take her call: Hello,
Joan Meyer Horror of an Exquisite Corpse I live in a little blue house in one of many contemporary impressionist villages It is, of course, derivative: the same seascapes and mountains since Cezanne There are only women here which means something horrible has happened. Our bodies do not become the objects of art without first being subject to terrible suffering. To be depicted is to be a victim of discursive violence. Gaze hits the side of your face like the slap of an open hand. (Still I needed to be seen. I guess that’s how I got here. I died one of those slow deaths anyone could see coming But no one would witness.) My neighbours are almost all naked. There is a doll who appears to be made of porcelain and has too many appendages. Two ballerinas fused together at the torso their twenty toes still en pointe. On the other side of town several severed heads float above the ocean. Their long black hair trails behind them swirling like dark storm clouds as the waves crash against the cliffs. Some ivory child is constantly crab crawling in a backbend balancing a marble globe on her stomach. Don’t ask me what that’s about. She has the wide eyes of an old votive but no mouth.
Lisa Vlasova dream of lighter harvests My neck is a world of birds. On a whim I remove the organs from the latest, rubberize its flesh and make an air balloon. The kids love it. Flush with success, today for arts and crafts I look into limestone carving. I hear canopic jars were a great hit with pharaohs. My albatross, failed conquistador, also ought to have his heart weighed. He looks too regal in the skies; the kids in their nightmares learn what massacres heâ€™s won. I felt bad for the children, who should dream of lighter harvests: hummingbird and nightingale and honeybee. Deflated, I consigned the albatross to my menagerie.
Seven Years Later Traffic sparks through the window, off the unfolding stars. Over the fading sky, spiders creep, spinning and spinning their cloudy webs, waiting. I think there is no patience like a spider’s patience. No lure like the sky’s lure, waiting, like the pinked evening stretching over me. The stars drip petals like teeth, waiting. From the couch I see my lover watching me. He likes to think I’m looking at the sky, but I’m looking up at the porch roof, wanting a swallow’s muddy nest. But the spiders have eaten the swallows, yes, and the petals as they flared, eaten the planes but spat out the roar above me. It goes like this: I don’t want to grieve anymore. From the couch my lover laughs and closes his eyes. A fat black spider edges lower, clouds spilled like dirty lace in its wake. Close by, the bass of a car radio nibbles my skull, my wary bones. Stars flood the soft dark with dandelion seeds. They say the wish is in my hands, but it’s still my breath they need.
Leah Callen Featherhead Fred has feathers in his head and fish scales along the backs of his hands. His secret desire: to shush the sidewalk, to seal up and stop its jerk cracks from takinâ€™ over. He thinks time is a butcher, the seasons are psycho. Fall is so scattered and Winter makes no sense. Fred likes to spit at the sunrise, its celluloid red. His spit, it gilds. Itâ€™s glory. All night long, Fred sits and waits with the jerk stars for that fucker jury to make up their velvet minds.
These hearse men like the coroner who carried Lavinia away, those small-town Sherlocks don’t know shit about blood comin’ out of the driftwood or how he fished her little pink wig out of all that denim water. Now, his heart is nothin’ but rapids and he’s drownin’ in them. So, he waits for who-knows-what and spits at the stars, spits at God, says sorry to the sand, mumbles in rum until his brain flies away like a seagull spooked by a cannon and his eyes go blind with seawater.
Marco diPasquale Witness
“State your name and occupation.” “Caprice Beauregard Smith. I work retail.” She has big eyes. No, really. The eyes are so enormous, the pink muscle holding them in place quivers, stretched thin. A culinary sculpture of the face, crafted with the distinct intention to disgust, might employ gobs of chewed Hubba Bubba moulded around half spheres of coconut pulp. When she bobs her cranium left and right, they jiggle in their stretched bone sockets like egg yolks over easy, like they could burst at the slightest touch. The bristled toes of a lone housefly or a stray BB from the kids next door might do the trick. But her eyes are stronger than that. For all their moist vibrations, they possess remarkable structural integrity. An X-ray of the head would reveal the mechanical struts intersecting through her skull. They cradle the eyes from behind and hold them in place if a sudden force jolts her forward, like a rear-ending or a particularly bad sneeze. On Tuesdays and Thursdays she meets with a physical therapist to strengthen her eye and neck muscles. She feels odd when he refers to them by their proper names: the lateral and superior rectus. Rectus? He has a thing for me, doesn’t he? She takes a swig of Vitamin Water, purses her balloon animal lips, and complains she doesn’t want to get bulky. But that was yesterday. The eyelids were surgically removed and replaced with battery-powered silicone flaps, a mechanism that automatically moisturises the balls with lubricant stored in a one-litre reservoir clipped to her blonde curls. She refills it often, especially when she’s crying. Crying because her terrier shit the bed, crying because she chipped a nail. Sometimes, she cries just for the fun of it, to see if she can. When she’s not crying they still leak everywhere: alas, the price one pays for beauty. But it was her choice, and that’s what counts. She made sure of it. She made sure her eyes were cavernous orbs that hungrily suck in the light of the world and now she sits there proudly before the room of scribbling, shuffling lawyers because she saw the hand, the knife, the man, and the blood. She saw everything. Judge “And is Smith your married name?” “No. I’m unmarried.” Atop his high podium, the Judge is a black fire hydrant in a robe with great arms that curl around the room like snakes filled with helium. He can extend them with little effort as far as he pleases. They float and hover in spite of gravity and in
one hand, resting on a regal, brass sconce across the room, is the gavel: a modest, wooden device of no great significance. He bangs it sometimes. At lunch he uses it to crack open the shells of hard-boiled eggs. Of course, with arms that long the procedure often takes place out of sight, felt but unseen. Once, he broke an exposed light bulb in a stairway by accident. The egg, if you can believe it, was still at home, clutched in his wrinkled hand in front of the gaping Frigidaire. When he reported this humorous serendipity to his buxom secretary, her mouth rose into a smile, revealing the dimples of her cheeks. This made the Judge’s day. That was yesterday. Today is boring and dry and procedural. Today is not the Judge’s day. All along the windowsill beside the desk in his private office are small, paper origami animals he folds while court is in session. A mean feat, but the real challenge is contorting his face to appear wholly present while his mind focuses on the delicate creases of a grasshopper or rabbit or frog. Oddly enough, the satisfaction he derives from remaining undetected is greater than the act of folding. Some people get their thrills from jumping out of airplanes, but the Judge gets his from defrauding taxpayers. Right now, if his hands were right in front of him (instead of in some backroom somewhere) he’d rest his chin upon them and curl his lips into glum repose. Nearly an hour has passed since the witness was introduced. Bailiff The prosecution holds up a Ziploc bag with a bloody bread knife inside. “Did the knife look like this?” She leans forward, angling her plane of focus toward the evidence. “Yes. It did.” At this moment, the jury, just in the way you might expect them to on daytime television, lean forward in their seats, and exclaim a collective ooh! This is also the bailiff ’s reaction, who would express it freely, if not for the physical constraints of his uniform. The armed bailiff (to the right of the stand) wears a ball gag in his mouth to show he is not afraid of pain. Human Resources upstairs insists it isn’t necessary but he does so anyway, drooling all over his starched shirt. He loves every second of it, loves every second of the warm, dank fabric losing its rigidity and clinging to his chest. He shaves this chest once a week with a straight razor and hair-dissolving chemicals to accentuate the drooling experience he so craves. He also wears handcuffs behind his back—to show he could break free at any time and should not be trifled with. When he’s angry, he snarls and foams at the mouth like a stray dog. The drool turns the light blue fabric into dark blue. By the time he returns home to his wife, he reeks of throat musk and stress. His wife loves a man in uniform.
His Wife “I love a man in uniform,” she says as he’s about to leave for work. “Thanks. I suppose I love you too.” “Care for a smooch?” “Sure, honey.” Her jaw unhinges. A totem pole smeared in avocado toast emerges from her throat. A wooden tongue, it’s as thick as a tree trunk, thicker at the base. It just springs up from nowhere, a nowhere inside of her. The skull bends around it like hot rubber, like she isn’t made of anything at all. And just like any other piercing or body modification, it’s affixed to her body by a chain that hooks around the inside of her pelvis. When her husband first proposed the idea, she thought it’d be horribly painful but how wrong she was. During the installation procedure, all she felt was a little prick, a little prick on the inside of her arm and everything went numb. They split her open with poise and precision, lowered the totem within her cavity, and sewed her back up. Good as new, like getting your teeth cleaned! The commissioned artist, fresh out of CalArts, claimed he drew inspiration from the Sistine Chapel. He carved his name underneath the base, carved his insignia in the wood. It looks like this:
Prosecution “So as I was saying, I saw him do it! He went and killed a man and I saw it happen!” “You’ve established that for the court, Miss Beauregard. You can stop talking now.” “Does the prosecution have anything further to offer the court?” An armless lawyer, whose tailor has neatly removed his sleeves so that his torso resembles a black thumb with a wart on the end, holding a piece of paper in his mouth, rests his feet upon the prosecution’s table. He spits the document out and, with a moist drawl, sucks back in a thread of saliva that had managed to creep its way down his chin while he was waiting for his chance to speak. He clears his throat. “I rest, your honour.”
The Bible The Bible’s cover is made of flesh, alive and pulsating. On it, there is a grinning, noseless face with lily white teeth that looks like Jesus. It likes to smile. Around the top, a thorn branch of green plastic is fixed to machine-bored holes designed to spill blood. The blood is stored in a reservoir set in a rectangular hole cut into the blank pages between the covers. During the manufacturing process, the Bible is superglued shut. “It’s a Bible, not a book.” That’s the response you’d get if you called the number on the box and complained the Bible wouldn’t open. And who’d want to, anyway? Hands are placed over its grinning cover, not within its pages. Words are said and the ritual is completed. The court is in session and the witnesses can be trusted. But after the trial, before the next one begins, an old eunuch is strapped upside down to a broom pole and wielded by a sombre janitor to recycle the spilled blood back into the reservoir so the next hearing can be properly ordained. The eunuch has a suction tube that runs from his mouth, inward down the throat, and out again at the back of the neck, into the reservoir. They call it the Holy Vacuum and store it in a closet they call The Holy Closet. The flesh Bible itself is stored where no one can find it (except the sombre janitor): under one of three stone slabs throughout the courthouse. Heavy slabs of black marble. There is a hallway in the courthouse, under the courthouse, a long, narrow hallway that connects the courtroom to the room of the sombre janitor. There are only two doors in this hallway: (1) the courtroom door and (2) the door of the room of the sombre janitor. The hallway is dark and tiled, with wallpaper you might expect to find around an infant’s crib: cartoon bluebirds with worms fluttering here and there, delighted by their extance. The sombre janitor walks this hallway every day, to and from work, and does not know this, because the hallway has been pitch black since the day he started working at the courthouse, a very long time ago indeed. If you stood in the centre of this dark hallway at eight o’clock in the morning, the sombre janitor, fast on his way to work, would strike you with his broom trolley, killing you instantly. Painlessly, too. If the convicts in the courtroom knew this was an option, they would surely rather plead to stand in the path of the sombre janitor than face the long needle that goes prick. Prick indeed, by the sharp, silver arm of the state, by the potassium chloride straight from the Governor’s medicine cabinet, which leaves the body stiff and still to rot until the saving grace of clemency. Textual absolution. It’s said there’s a sleeping grizzly bear soundly snoring atop scores of names yet to be exonerated. While the stiff still lies cold and insensate in its prison yard grave, awake as the day it was sentenced.
The Body The body lies foetal on the bed, buried beneath the covers. Unremarkable. Catatonic. Only the nostrils protrude to draw in the necessary oxygen. If it possessed enough control, enough will, it would surely siphon off that urge altogether and fade into the lifeless pile of meat and sheets and bones it so desperately desires to become. Submerged in prolonged darkness, its eyes have long since made their adjustments. And through the gaping irises, through a haphazard crack in the sheet cocoon, the faint red glow of a digital alarm clock makes it squint. The blocky digits are unreadable from such an angle, but this light that reaches into its terminal burrow speaks of two certainties: one, this is reality, and two, today is a bad day. A bad couple of days all compressed into one continuous stream of sleeplessness and if something is not done… It has heard the stories. Other bodies turning up in the oddest places: under bus stop benches, within the brick foundations of high-rise ghettos, even inside cars with the engine still purring away. The person inside long gone and the limp shell all that remains. Televised talking heads babble on about a mental health epidemic but this is far more than mere melancholia. A deep spiritual malaise presides over the streets outside. Over the streets of the entire nation. It twists and turns and wedges its hooked tendrils into any untethered mind. Bodies line the streets, beggars and executives alike. Rags or linen, it affects them all the same: a deathly numbness. You know you’re already done for when the tips of your fingers lose feeling. The numbness grows and grows like an invisible tumour on the nervous system, on the soul itself. And if you looked closely at the bodies lining the streets, the chests would rhythmically rise and fall; the bodies aren’t even dead, just husks of their former person, kept alive through habit alone. And in this new and tired state of things, a truth is arrived at, gathered from what worldly whispers do penetrate its shell: if it simply laid there and held its breath and accepted the apathy spreading itself like a great stain across its chest, then it would surely die. Instead, with the last of its will, the last speck of smouldering ember lodged within its fading heart, it begins to fantasise. A moment passes. And passes. Until a gust of air rushes out its nostrils, propelled by a rapid contraction of the abdomen: the foetus of a chuckle. Proof its cross is bearable. Proof its boulder is pushable. The joke itself has something to do with a courtroom and a Bible and… a ball gag? Uncanny. But the body pulls the covers back and slowly begins to rise from the depths: the fantasy has served its purpose.
Audrey Lindemann stealin haha my red eye looms foamier than urs ripening and hypening like a blessing and disguyse imma this thief / imma that thief burpin into / yer tupperwares at night 2 cops â€Ś copulatin squarkin n squirtin squealin like forkchops in their wittle styhighs my departner awwww yer departner yep, gorge ous gargorl cursed the company tore up that wire frilling the piglets skewering(echo:) -ering -ering on quaillewds like she think she hone this face! blurrfect speciman showmethe I told you I told you the correct the currrect way to be awake! (witha hard k) cook crook oh finest minest deftly chefing thyself edible n supplicated
“life” is so sufferful that it’s almost … fluffy as my minest’s mind dish more carmeleyes-d n carcinomanic than pork roll the sort she perved @ the macrofficial blundercurrent summit the sort she baked on toher caked out flexoskeleton I luver I do! n me takin turns beatin on the cops (beatin and beatin them) wither crow bar whether pun ish watchiner grow old still wailin on those stupid cops liberatin thur structural pigtegrity (lovin on muh ladybear) (swear I’d stealer the sun)
Samira Abed Milk Smell that little ugly seed of pus hugged deeply in the fat jiggling skin of my leg the robot part of me wants to reach in and heal myself and grab that seed and pull and scrape the fetus out of me sweating hands white then pink then red [that terrible lump out of me] would instead that I wrap a hot towel press softly massage her to sprout.
Tiia Kelly Hot 4 Century We practice our anticipation We fill bathtubs with last century’s water in case the new century forgets to bring some We make a habit of ourselves planning for the worst Not because we like to be prepared but because we like to watch our foresight pirouette down the drain with knowing flair Knowing the century has saved us once again I was lying last century when I said I was in love Really I’m anticipating the love that comes next The love that’s at a higher altitude than this one on a mountain somewhere Where the dwindling of oxygen makes me happy and deluded There’s nothing brave about that I just thought I should say it before you try to finger me through my jeans again Before the century ends and I’m fingered into the next one I’m taking the century like a lover I’m christening it with my sweet glossier™ lips That’s a lie……. it’s the opposite I let the century do what it wants as long as it drives me home afterward There was a commercial for the century that told us it would feel like ripples of light lingering over a body of water Our own bodies lit up with something passing through them The things we’ve always wanted for our bodies but wouldn’t admit to wanting It didn’t tell us the centuries have been unsustainable Their soft plastics tumbling through the local business district like elite hairless divers
Moving on us with such quick heat we can barely get our shirts off I love you less than I love waiting for the century to kill me Less than looking for ways to be urgent that are careful enough to hide the urgency Even when the century has pit stains from exertion I am loving you less than I could be The newer centuries will lack the pizzazz of the former When we turn a purse upside down to watch the change tumble out it will be all silvers and no gold The economy of centuries no longer profitable in the way it once was We’ll realise it was only capitalism convincing us we could love better or occupy our bodies another way I told you once that I’d die in an apocalypse cos I’d be too slow to run from something trying to kill me You said in that circumstance my adrenaline would kick in so it wouldn’t matter Running is purely chemical……. you just need to be scared enough Like…… maybe if we’d leapt into life with the spirit of Bear Grylls avoiding a televised death we’d have survived a bit better I’m sorry about the fingering thing but I did respect your enthusiasm Maybe in the next century with the next person you could try unzipping the jeans first Maybe in the next century with the next people we won’t need all this urgency
Marie McGrath Dress Up To pass time in the hot classroom I fantasize idly about dressing you up in my clothes. It is so easy: the oversized lavender sweater, my favorite despite bleach stains, a pair of black leggings with piping across the knees, knobby socks and black chelseas and perhaps a beanie or the black felt hat whose brim flops coyly down covering the face. What we would do after you are wearing my clothes is, oddly, not part of it. Just the wearing. The look. It would all be too big drown you in folds of cotton and knit and I am lost in deciding whether I enjoy the idea of me suiting you so nicely or of me being someone else altogether; deciding between swallowing and being swallowed up
Sool and Isobel Maya Mahony
Sool sat in his car, praying. He kept his Bible in a zip-up fake book in the glove compartment. The fake book was a gift from his mother. It was made of heavy green fabric and printed to look like the Bible. A Bible in a Bible. The real Bible had a simple brown cover and pages so thin they felt like satin. Sool was parked halfway up a steep street. Hibiscus flowers peeked between the electric fences that topped the walls around the big houses. At the far end of the street reared Table Mountain. Cloud hung heavy and white on the mountaintop. This was the one moment in the day when Sool was alone. After he had said goodbye to his wife Isobel and his son Will (who still hadn’t moved out) and his dog Bear, and before he picked up his first client. The car cradled him. A glass house. A conservatory. Rain fell faintly against the glass. Sool flipped through to his favourite psalms and prayed aloud. His voice came out gruff and strange at first but as he prayed and prayed his voice softened and warmed like honey. Soon he was singing, the Bible shut, his fingers drumming on the cover. By the rivers of Babylon… Auntie Thandi, singing in the church choir, her mouth open so wide you could see the gap between her two front teeth, her wrists jangling with purple bracelets. The stringy little river that ran through the fynbos behind school, where he had taught his crush, beautiful Eliana, to catch minnows, the both of them kneeling in the mud, holding the wriggling shiny things in their cupped hands, the sun pressing their shoulders like a benediction. Before Teacher dragged them inside for Arithmetic and told Eliana’s mother that she had been playing with him. Eliana was Coloured too, but her family was light-skinned, and Sool’s was dark. The next day Eliana’s big brother Roy had held Sool’s head under the river water, Sool’s chest filling with heat, mouth open, trying to bite Roy’s fingers, clawing, until Roy released him, to retch and shudder on the riverbank. Don’t put one dirty hand on my sister. Eliana, running toward them in the sunlight, her school shirt coming untucked, screaming at Roy, What are you doing! Sool, huddled and vomiting, unable to look at her. They never spoke again. And there we wept… It surprised him, that memory. He hadn’t thought of it in years. Roy had become a successful lawyer who owned a ritzy apartment building in Seapoint. And Sool had no idea where Eliana had ended up. But things were different now. Sool’s son had dated a white girl for a while. And then a Black girl. And now Will wasn’t dating girls at all, but boys, which Sool had accepted after Isobel had said, I’m not losing another child, Sool, no way, no how. She meant the stillborn baby. She still thought of that baby often, he knew. More often than he did. She had stopped believing in God when it happened: the baby would have been a girl—they would
have named her Dana. So they let Will bring around his boyfriend, a white Jewish kid named Jonah, who had a round, friendly face, and an earring. Such were the times. Sool, to everyone’s surprise, liked Jonah. Jonah was kind, witty. Both boys studied at the University of Cape Town, had met in a lecture. Sool hadn’t been to university. He couldn’t, under apartheid. If he’d been born after apartheid, he wouldn’t have been a driver now, that was for sure. But also, not Will’s father. Not Isobel’s husband. So there was no use thinking of it. Sool didn’t want to shrivel up with rage like his father had, rocking back and forth in a wooden chair. Someone knocked on the car window. Sool glanced up. It was a young man in an orange raincoat. His afro made the hood poof out. Sool rolled down the window. “Yes?” “I just want you to know that the Lord hears your prayers,” said the young man. Sool studied his face. There was no sign of mockery. Also no sign of the troubled intensity that marked the faces of the men in the city centre who paced between the beggars, shouting about Armageddon. The young man looked sincere, his eyes clear and certain. “Thank you, son,” said Sool. The young man nodded, and started to turn away. Sool stuck his head out the window. “You need a free ride anywhere?” “No, thanks, man. I’m close by.” “All right.” The young man walked long-legged up the hill and turned the corner. He was wearing a backpack. Maybe he went to the university too. Sool kissed his Bible, zipped it inside the fake Bible, and tucked it in the glove compartment. Then he just sat there for a moment, staring at the corner where the young man had disappeared. Maybe this was a sign. Isobel didn’t believe in signs. But Sool felt jittery, elated, like he had just gulped down a gallon of coffee. The Lord hears your prayers…
On Mondays Isobel cleaned house for a Haitian poet named Mirlande. Before Mirlande had become a poet, she had been a dancer, and she still moved like it, so graceful, with her slender shoulders and her white hair coiled at the nape of her neck. Isobel always felt large and unwieldy around her. “Good morning, Isobel,” said Mirlande, in dirge-like tones, as Isobel struggled in the front door with the vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner didn’t use to be a struggle, but lately everything ached: Isobel’s feet, her hips, her neck. Where does it hurt? Sool would say, when they were lying in bed, and then he would kiss her there, his moustache tickling her skin, Isobel struck quiet by the tenderness that still persisted, after all these years.
“Good morning,” said Isobel. Mirlande’s house was beautiful. It had yellow walls and dark blue trim, and everywhere hung bright little paintings in wooden frames. There were also bookcases, full of slim volumes of poetry. Sometimes, when Isobel was dusting the books, she would try to read them, but they made no sense. This morning, Mirlande followed Isobel around as she vacuumed. With any other client, this would have annoyed Isobel to no end (she didn’t need supervision), but Mirlande just wanted the company. She had been divorced for decades and her son had gone off to Australia with some hussy, so now she lived alone. Today, Mirlande wanted to talk about the next-door neighbours, who were renting from Canada and had taken a liking to sunbathing nude in their backyard. “They don’t realise that I can see them absolutely clearly from my upstairs windows,” said Mirlande, loudly, so as to be heard over the roar of the vacuum cleaner. “Or maybe,” she said, her eyes crinkling, “they do realise, and are trying to tempt me into some sort of extravagant sexual tryst. Thank goodness it’s raining today. I don’t think even Canadians could consider this sunbathing weather.” Every sentence Mirlande spoke was weighted with moral certainty. For instance, as Isobel was scrubbing at the grout in the tiles of the kitchen counter, and Mirlande was describing the Canadians’ dog, Mirlande said, not that I like dogs, as if liking dogs were crass and repugnant, something similar to public urination. Isobel found herself collecting moments to tell Sool at the end of the day. Mirlande said this, Mirlande said that… Mirlande was Isobel’s favourite client. She had moved to South Africa, post-apartheid, to be a part of the new Rainbow Nation, to connect with liberation theologists and poets. She treated Isobel as an equal. Not like the Afrikaaner woman she worked for on Thursdays, who didn’t let her use the bathroom. Isobel had a bladder of steel, because during apartheid she had needed to have a bladder of steel (you never knew when you were going to find a Coloured bathroom), but just the thought of not being allowed to use the toilet enraged her so much that every Thursday she almost quit. Finally Mirlande sat down at the table (even sitting down was graceful when Mirlande did it, like floating into the chair) and started reading a book. Isobel could clean in quiet. Isobel used to hate quiet. She had been the most talkative child out of all the siblings, and teachers were forever getting her in trouble for talking in class. If there wasn’t anybody to talk to, Isobel would put on music. Quiet had creeped her out. That was before Sool. They had met when Isobel was working with her best friend Ayanda at the Pick n Pay. Isobel felt trapped there, working in a grocery store while the revolution was happening outside. As they restocked the shelves, she and Ayanda would argue about it: Ayanda thought pure Marxism was the way to go, Isobel thought they just needed to get the Afrikaaners out of power any way they could. All their
customers were Black, like Ayanda, or Coloured, like Isobel; white people didn’t venture into the township. Isobel and Ayanda got to like the regular customers, like Busisiwe, who had six children, and old Mr. Naidu, who played the trumpet. And the quiet young man who always stopped by on his way home from work. He maintained the grounds for the big church down the block, and so always had patches of dirt on his knees from tending the flowers. At first, Isobel didn’t think anything of him. But gradually, over the months, she started to realise that he was, frankly, gorgeous. “A specimen of mankind,” she told Ayanda, who snorted, her idea of a specimen of mankind being much taller and more swaggery. It was true, Sool was a few inches shorter than Isobel. But his face had such interesting cheekbones, and his hair curled so beautifully at his forehead and at the back of his neck, and his shoulders were wide and round and his hands were wonderful. Isobel was up on the ladder stocking a high shelf when Sool cleared his throat and asked if she’d like to spend time with him that evening. That’s how he put it. Spend time. Isobel almost fell off the ladder. For over an hour that night, Isobel fussed over what to wear, Ayanda on the other end of the phone. “What does spend time mean?” Isobel moaned. “Is this dinner? A movie? A party? For all I know he’s dragging me to Bible study at that church!” “I highly doubt he’s taking you to Bible study,” said Ayanda. “Wear your blue dress, it’s not too fancy and you’ll look beautiful.” “Okay,” said Isobel. But she didn’t hang up. “You’ll be fine,” said Ayanda. “It can’t possibly be as bad as your date with the D.J. Now go, enjoy yourself, and you can tell me all about it tomorrow. And knee him in the nuts if he tries anything you don’t want.” “Okay,” said Isobel, and hung up. She had never felt so nervous in her life. More scared, sure. Plenty of scary shit went down in this neighbourhood. Every day, people got murdered by police and by gangs, and overdosed on tik, and died of AIDS. But more nervous? No. This was unprecedented. Isobel waited in her blue dress on the sidewalk outside the bank, across the street from the grocery store. People were sleeping on cardboard. Graffiti scrawled over the walls. And there he was, walking toward her through the evening light. He wasn’t alone. He had a dog with him. Not on a leash. Just loping along beside him. A big, golden dog with a friendly smile. Dogs weren’t supposed to know how to smile, but this one was definitely smiling, its mouth curving up, its tail chopping through the air. “Sorry,” said Sool, instead of hello. “I had to bring Mickey. Long story. Are you okay with dogs?” “Of course,” said Isobel chipperly, though her only experience with dogs was the awful snarly pitbull that had chased her down the street as a child. They stood there, quietly, Isobel fiddling with her blue dress. It was too fancy. Was this even a date? If he brought a dog along, did that mean this was just a
spending-time-as-friends thing? And then this dress made it seem like she thought it was a date and she was just making an utter fool of herself? “You look beautiful,” said Sool. “Oh!” said Isobel. “Thank you. You do too. I mean...” But he was smiling. “Want to walk him around?” “Sure,” said Isobel. Years later, Sool would confess that he had brought Mickey as a diversion, so that Isobel wouldn’t realise he was too poor to buy her a nice dinner. His plan was to use Mickey as an excuse: oh, the restaurant won’t let us in, because there’s no dogs allowed, too bad, guess we have to go to the cheap pizza take-away. But the diversion tactic was unnecessary. Isobel was so nervous that she thought she might puke if they ate, and so as the light faded and they kept on wandering around, she said, “I’m not really in the mood for dinner tonight, are you?” and Sool said, “No, not really.” Sool was quieter than anybody Isobel ever hung out with. If she wasn’t saying something, or he wasn’t directly responding to a question she had asked, he seemed content just to walk around, looking at things, or at her. Also, it was obvious he loved the dog. Isobel had never had a pet, never had any desire for a pet (they couldn’t talk) but found it endearing how affectionate Sool was toward Mickey. They walked up the little hill behind the KFC, on a narrow, thistly path, Mickey loping in front of them. Sool hadn’t touched her. She hadn’t touched him. And now they sat down at the bench, overlooking the city. The sunset faded and the little bits of broken bottles in the dust caught the orange lights turning on below. The night before there had been riots and someone had been necklaced, the fire belching smoke, everyone screaming and running. But tonight was quiet. The sky was very high up and streaky with cloud. Mickey came clambering up onto the bench between them, and at last Isobel stopped talking (she had been talking constantly, very fast and without really knowing what she was saying, for the past half hour), and resorted to petting the dog. The fur was silky and she could feel the body heat beneath it. Sool was petting the dog too, the both of them petting and petting, not saying anything, Isobel staring fixedly ahead at the city lights because Sool was so beautiful and so kind and she didn’t know what would happen if she looked directly at him. And then Sool put his hand on top of hers. Her breath caught. “You have ice hands,” he said. “You must be cold,” and stood up. She sat looking up at him, bewildered. She would have happily sat for hours with his hand on top of hers but apparently he had only wanted to touch her for about a second. “I guess,” she said. She was shivering; she hadn’t noticed. He opened his arms. “Come here, Isobel,” he said. She stood up, and stepped into his arms. He was warm and wonderful. She was right eye-level with his curling hair. They were pressed very close together, just standing there, and she squeezed her eyes shut, and could feel her heartbeat rocking through them, or maybe it was his, and then he bent his head, and kissed
her, very gently, on the shoulder. Imagine being that nervous about Sool! Comfortable, loving, grumpy, Sool, with his picky eating and his patience teaching Will to tie his shoes, again and again, The bunny goes around the tree… and his belly squashy now (she liked to lay her head on it) and his moustache turning grey. “Have you ever heard,” said Mirlande, “of a poet named Rilke?” “No,” said Isobel. Apparently the quiet time was over. But that was all right, she was about done with the kitchen. “Shame,” said Mirlande. “Schools these days…” As if Isobel had just recently popped out of the school system. Isobel went upstairs to change Mirlande’s sheets. Mirlande followed, talking about the disastrous state of segregated schooling. From the windows, Isobel could see down into the neighbours’ backyard. A white family was out there, despite the drizzle. All clothed, thankfully. The father napped on a lounge chair. The mother held the hand of a little girl in a red raincoat and pointed at the scraggly flowers growing by the fence. The girl was hopping up and down a bit, not really listening, her face turned up to look at the rain; and for a moment, the girl looked right at Isobel, and her little mouth opened in surprise, and her little hand waved. Isobel waved back. She felt it again, the old familiar grief, a river of it. “Isobel?” said Mirlande, and Isobel turned around, trying not to look stricken. “You’re thinking of your little girl,” said Mirlande, very quietly. Isobel had worked for Mirlande every Monday for fifteen years now. When Isobel had lost the baby, Mirlande had brought over sponge cake and marmalade and flowers folded out of paper. Had said, If there’s anything I can do… Isobel nodded. Mirlande opened her arms. “Come here, Isobel,” she said.
Will was in love. There was no two ways about it. He was a mess. He couldn’t stop glancing over at Jonah in the driver’s seat, with his friendly teddy bear face and his scruff of a beard. Early on in their relationship, walking between classes, Will had caught himself looking at other boys. Thinking: this one is skinnier, or this one is sexier. Or, I shouldn’t be dating a white guy. And then one afternoon Jonah had waited for him at the steps in front of the university. Will had seen him for a long ways as he walked toward him. Jonah wasn’t on his phone; he just stood there, gazing out at the view of the city in the afternoon light, holding on to his backpack straps. As Will had gotten closer and closer a panicky feeling had started fluttering through him, like: oh God, what did I do to deserve this wonderful person, and what’s going to happen when we graduate? Just yesterday, when Jonah hadn’t texted back right away, Will had sunk into spirals of despair: he doesn’t love me, I’m too clingy,
he wants to leave. And when Jonah had finally texted back after about six hours, Will had actually cried. What would his father have said to that? And now here they were, driving from school toward Will’s house on a regular Monday afternoon, like everything was fine and certain. The houses around the university were big, with trees and flowers behind the walls. Jonah’s family lived in this neighbourhood, but Jonah lived in the dorms, because his family wanted him to get the full college experience. Which Will found extremely annoying: his parents wouldn’t have let him go to university if he didn’t live at home; it would have been too expensive. As they got closer to Will’s neighbourhood, the houses got smaller. The walls became chain link fences. The rain had stopped, leaving shining puddles everywhere. Jonah remembered the way without asking, the left turn at Will’s old school, the right turn by the basketball court. Wind blew leaves and flowers through the air. They pulled into the driveway. Dandelions were coming up between the paving tiles. Bear napped on the front step. Will’s parents were so proud of this house. It probably looked small to Jonah, Isobel’s old family home. The government had expelled her family during one of the Group Area Acts, turning the neighbourhood into an all-white zone. And then the Navy had taken the house from the white occupants to use during one of the wars, and then abandoned it, and when Isobel had finally gotten it back after apartheid (her parents and siblings hadn’t wanted to deal with the government), the first floor had been full of squatters, each with their own corner of blankets and possessions, and the second floor had been full of sailors—the squatters were renting out the rooms. Will’s parents had paid the squatters to help them clean out the house. “Lizards in the kitchen, cockroaches in the cupboards, rats in the walls,” Isobel always declaimed proudly, Sool nodding along. Through the front window, Will could see that his parents were both already home. Sool was chopping something on a cutting board. Isobel sat at the table, with Ayanda, who lived across the city and was over all the time. “You okay?” said Jonah. “Yeah,” said Will. He unbuckled, but didn’t move to get out of the car. He looked over at Jonah. Jonah was looking at him. “Are you uncomfortable with me coming in?” “No,” said Will. “Okay.” “My dad likes you now.” “Good. I like him now, too.” And still, Will didn’t get out of the car. He didn’t know what he wanted to say. He felt trembly and weird. Sometimes it felt like there were only two ways his life could go. One way was impoverished and miserable and involved getting shot, and the other was shallow and safe, sauntering through the city centre, swilling booze. But at university, and with Jonah, it seemed like there was an entire other way to be in the world. A third way. Curious and thoughtful, affectionate, hopeful, ready
to work toward some better future—though people shook their heads and spoke about corruption and said that no better future would come. Someday soon, he and Jonah would drive up to Signal Hill to watch the sunset over the huge blue ocean. But right now, the only place Will wanted to be was here. Evening light came in through the bug-smeared windshield and gilded Jonah. The wind knocked softly. “I’m impatient,” said Will, “for the present. You know that feeling?” He reached out and ran his knuckle under Jonah’s chin, feeling the scruff of stubble. Jonah snatched hold of his hand, and kissed it. “Yeah,” said Jonah. “I know.”
Tazi Rodrigues preparation in the kitchen we press squash into puree, pour abandoned smirnoff over stevia leaves & prepare for winter. the vodka pulls green from the leaves, gives us a bottle of extract the colour of the sea, which we put on the living room shelf next to the jam which is next to the books which we are also collecting for winter, for days when we will drink stevia extract straight from the bottle and finally read all those books about chameleon biology. this is what we prepare for â€“ the seasons shifting enough that we can drink sweetened vodka with abandon and pretend we are drinking the sea, eat cheese with sticky ground cherry jam that will glue all the pages together so we wonâ€™t have to read about chameleon biology. i think we know that december snow in montreal has the same consistency as puree and we will melt into it, seep into the streams of water running down the roads but for now there is still hoping, still anticipation of snug afternoons spent on the couch under our preserve shelf, and there is such happiness in preparing for this with you.
stephanie roberts Subcutaneous Organ Music I, naked and wet on the clef of the bed with the muse of quiet rain running this, Tuesday in June, edge of small town. Post shower, post in love, post grad, post christianity, the complicit precipitation challenges blank page, an uncracked spine, a folded map, organ interlude. Circle coconut oil between the hum of palms massaging soles, rubbing breasts, shoulders, flanks, buttocks, and hams, pulling out all stops. No name for this bridge (I decided) —not grief, nor disappointment, definitely not self-pity, (a contagion my mother vaccinated me against). The integumentary’s ubiquity makes us forget it worrying instead over the liver’s knife fights with gin, heart starvation, and mountain-view systolic. Cinnabar skin waxes très chill with memory. Patiently gloss every affront with persistent pressure—intent on cool & containment. Dusk lowers itself A380 into Montréal, arch melancholia and purple-blue drama could be a mythical creature of West Indian nightmare. At the moment intimacy sweats connection, I am bereft even while security and sunscreen are kneaded between my fingers. Abuela warned about duppies, sowing heritage into my cornrows. Jesus! It is comfort to believe fantastic surfaces are answers to the inexplicable. Is there a portmanteau for horror & harrow when betrayal scars resignation into the heart? A thrust under skin—glass dagger refrain, this the name for that.
DS Maolalai Levi: the testimony he felt it in his arms and it stayed warm in his arms and weighted him. behind him his wife was quiet, watching their bedroom door. in another room, his other children slept. cornersâ€”and sometimes he took corners, when earth piled or plants made snags. the furze bent under his feet and sprang backward, waiting for morning and the smell of the sun. the air was cold, the dew rising from the ground like snakes and satan. it took too long, but he reached the river and dropped it. and the sound was muted, roaring and still so loud. over him the moon was an eye, the stars eyes. gods chittered and tore sods from the turf. wildness blew like feathers. there were no trees. the world, ancient thing, aware with corners, and he one small part standing on it.
Kobus Moolman Little Girl Her grandmother sits on a green plastic chair with a broken back. Her mother sits on an upturned beer crate. Her sister sits and sleeps on her mother’s lap. Her auntie (on her mother’s side) sits on the stump used for chopping wood and for chopping off the heads of chickens. Her mother’s disabled cousin sits in her wheelchair, the one with the stupid front wheel. Her father hasn’t been seen for three years, since he left to find work on the citrus farms near Clanwilliam. She sits on the bare earth with her legs crossed and her blue school skirt tucked tight beneath her legs in case her father should ever come back.
Old Chairs The old chairs move by themselves at night in the lounge when the little snakes come out. They cannot get comfortable on the cold tiles no matter what position they sit or stand in. The old chairs stopped dreaming long ago of ever going back to the warm ocean and the summer thunder storms. They barely make a sound when the carcasses of dead birds appear overnight in their laps. The old chairs have resigned themselves to the smell of animal fur, and to cold nights on their own without dreams. They have resigned themselves to dying far from the white sand where their umbilical cord is buried.
Noah Zacharin three parts pigeon & one part human the world pours out of and over itself. in choking surfeit, clatter and froth, dust and feathers and harder things: beak and claw and faith. I have always been one to float on prayer and expectation but the thick pulse of the crowd necessitates savoring a single seed, a square inch or two of space. red eyes, iridescent neck, head moving
with each step
like a leather-workerâ€™s awl:
I am some wonderful dancer. I am some wonderful dancer. though flight is within easy reach, I wrap my heart in a shawl of wings, and scratch at the hard ground ignoring how much of me it already contains.
Thomas Koht Fragments on an English Beach 1 Ashy chassis, anchoring bloomerang, you have conspired against my wishing well, the buildup and the chill defeat. The water had no say. It simply ran. It held the square-shaped lights, the albatross, the catamaran. 2 My head went through the window. My arms cast Xâ€™s on the sand at night. Two drunk altar boys traced the stillest of these with deflated red balloons. I saw myself before myself, and it felt warm, like a scorpion slowly rubbing my ribs, clicking through my colon. Eyes shut, now. Thank you for tuning in to channel YOU. What will you be watching today?
3 I stood in my shoes too long. I walked across the empty floor, counting every step. I could smell the sea. I placed the sea-soaked cigarette between my teeth. Rum-eyes, now, and three flights of soul courtesy of Macon. My shanks were like elephant brains chewing through space in leaden wanderlust. 4 I knelt on a log I imagined was a fire hydrant, my toes bent into the sand, glass shards reflecting Cygnus, frozen in flight, the droplet dropping from the tip of my nose and disturbing the sway of a small pale flower. Change is good, I thought, change: gathering strength so that it might crush the hands of time.
The Day October Vanished
For A.P.—ride far, my loving friend
Of course my body was going to wind up having power over me, but it wasn’t supposed to happen this soon. My sealed and teetering ribs without a cliff to tumble off, my feet without shallows in which to suffer the sky. Where then have we shined, my friend? An oxygenpoor hush wrapped in charcoal, I taste the watery wisdom of the void the day I learn: your birth will forever be celebrated in black. I write down the final message you sent me. “Do what it fucking takes.” Each letter I cut out, crimp, and lay against the withered blade of a leaf. I watch as each leaf scoots away. Life is there always taking in the dead things. Every time I think of October 27, I am an enviably absolute absence, breathing no man’s breath, pale searching for signs of a punchline in the blow by blow of how we arrived at your imminent autopsy. Below, the ladle scooping mushroom soup for four sounds to my ears like a jangle of icicles in a fishbowl. Make that soup for three. October 27: The flame reluctantly stays in my pocket, like a thirsty dog, like the lone angels in the pink heart of the sun that beats upon Guatemalan flowers. I picture liquid zinc oozing out of my eyes, how you and I crooned with the robin who would pledge your grin to the fallible engine of sleep. I must now find courage to sing our songs alone. You would have hated the music they played at your funeral.
You would have hated the chaplain’s furtive echoes: “wear these wings, but remember—you are no comet, my son.” And the moment of silence that followed, and the moment after, and the moment after...waiting for what these bodies will make of us.
Contributors Samira Abed is a fourth-year English Major at UC Berkeley. She is interested in sensory imagery and melodrama. She is currently writing her first chapbook and the poem “Milk Smell” is her first work to be published. She can contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Nathan Bayne is from Chicago, currently studying fine arts at Concordia University. He is primarily self-taught. Starting his practice in traditional media, he has since been working to incorporate a digital perspective into his work. The modern world in all of its beautiful, electronic dissonance is his muse. For Anthony Jamie Bucciacchio, the past holds precious value that the present cannot always offer. With that in mind, he and Marshall Hoang discussed creating a dystopian world of nostalgia, where their nameless character, an extension of their memories, would wander. They tackled themes of individuality and solitude— hearkening back to the days before social media, when they would spend hours cultivating the endless sprouts of imagination. The atmosphere of theatre-arcades in the late 90s, and the smell of comfort food emanating from classic Montreal diners hold a place in their hearts forever. Esther Calixte-Bea is a visual artist born in 1996 from Haitian and Ivorian descent. Her artistic practice varies from painting to self-photography and she is currently completing her Bachelor degree in Painting & Drawing at Concordia University. She is known for her Lavender project, which received a lot of media attention and was featured in Glamour UK in February’s Self-Love Issue. She continues to address the subject of female body hair through her work, using herself as the subject of her photography to help normalize, create a discussion, and show that body hair is beautiful and natural on women, contrary to popular opinion. Leah Callen is a poet and playwright with her MFA in creative writing from the University of Victoria. Her poems can be found in Canadian and American journals: The Malahat Review, Barren Magazine, Vallum Magazine, CV2, and Kissing Dynamite. Her latest rhyme appears in a Twin Peaks anthology by APEP Publications called These Poems Are Not What They Seem. She volunteers as a contributing editor for Barren Magazine and lives in Vancouver, BC. Marco diPasquale is a third-year student of English and Philosophy at the University of California, Davis. Between hiding from shadow people and managing a vicious caffeine addiction, he aspires to be an author of weird fiction and poetry, or at least someone who can file their taxes on time.
Kaily Dorfman was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. She has an MA in English literature from UC Santa Barbara, and a BA in the same field from UC Berkeley. Currently she is an MFA candidate in poetry at UC Irvine. For years François Émond has eaten typeface and made thousands of magazine pages. As a graphic designer, his job was to build layout with alphabet and images. Now he is on his own, and all that boils in his head and everything that his eyes give him as news and impressions, he tries to put down on rectangular paper. www. behance.net/francoisemond Christeen Francis completed her BFA at NSCADU, spent nine years in New York City, and returned to her hometown of Montreal to complete her MFA at Concordia University. A printmaker and musician, she ran a print shop in Brooklyn and played in several bands. She is committed to social and political print that engages with local communities and the public at large. She has exhibited in Canada, the United States, Germany, and Iceland, and is a part of Justseeds artist collective. Her research interests include the right to the city, urban wildlife, displacement, and the homogenisation of cities and culture. Tiia Kelly is a writer and editor from Melbourne. She is interested in the link between cultural consumption and identity, writing about the way different forms of media frame our understanding of the world. She is currently completing her BA in Creative Writing and Screen and Cultural Studies at The University of Melbourne. Her work has appeared in Kill Your Darlings, Voiceworks, Kissing Dynamite, and elsewhere. Thomas Koht (aka Tomasz W. Wiszniewski) is a Canadian poet, writer, and artist of Polish descent. His debut chapbook, Death Is A White Balloon, was published via Bywords Press in 2019. Thomas is currently developing his second collection of poems, which will be a set of nontraditional elegies for a dear, late friend titled Thirteen Silences. Roland Kulla is fascinated by the built environment. He reflects on what the structures tell about their builders as well as their interaction with nature and the results of time. Since 1998 he has focused on the engineering ingenuity that creates bridges. He paints with a hard-edged realism and on a scale that highlights the monumentality of the forms. In addition to Chicago he has featured other “bridge” cities such as Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, and Berlin, creating more than 300 paintings. Although people are not the direct subjects of his work, they are integral to it. The structures stand as proxy for human experience. He creates places and moods that invite the viewer to enter into the work and form their own relationship to it.
Audrey Lindemann Maya Mahony hails from California where she is a senior at Stanford studying English and creative writing. Her work has appeared in Terrain and The Leland Quarterly and received several campus prizes. Maya studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, which inspired her to write â€œSool and Isobel.â€? DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019). Marie McGrath is a poet and maker living in Washington, D.C. She spends her time writing music, poems, and stories, cooking for her podcast, How Easy is That, managing five unsuccessful Instagram pages, and running a non-profit. Marie received her BA from Boston College and her MFA from the University of Florida. Alexia McKindsey is a Montreal-based artist born in 1996 whose work investigates the potential of domestic space and its artifacts. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Concordia University, her artistic focus lies predominantly in an oil painting practice. McKindsey is interested in how our homes reflect the collective memory and mythologies spanning the generations of a family. Pulling from the physical facades and precious relics found in these domains, McKindsey collages their fragments together in order to map out the physical progression of time and tradition that encompasses these dwellings. Joan Meyer is an American/Canadian poet, artist and educator. She is currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland where she attends the University of Edinburgh, teaches English literature in local schools and lives with her partner, Anna. Her work centres on feminism, lesbianism, judaism, mental illness and trauma. You can find more of her writing, both creative and academic, in Canvas: McGill Journal of Art History and Communication (2020), Scrivener Creative Review (issue 44, 2019); The Channel: McGill Department of English Review (volume 12, 2019); The Derot: McGill Journal of Jewish Studies (volume 16, 2017) and The Nearest Poetry Anthology (2014).
Kobus Moolman is Professor of Creative Writing in the department of English Studies at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. He has published seven collections of poetry, two collections of plays, and edited a collection of poetry, prose, and art by South African writers living with disabilities. He has won numerous local and international awards, including the 2015 Glenna Luschei Award for African Poetry for his collection A Book of Rooms. His first collection of short fiction, The Swimming Lesson and other stories, was published in 2018. He recently edited a special issue on contemporary South African poetry for the American journal, Illuminations. Patrick O’Reilly is a writer from Renews, NL. His work has appeared in The Walrus, Numéro Cinq, Scrivener Creative Review, and other journals, as well as in In/Word Press’s 30 under 30 anthology. His debut chapbook, A Collapsible Newfoundland, was published by Frog Hollow Press in 2020. He hates bios with quirky endings. Crystel Pereira is a visual artist specialised in oil painting and she is currently doing her BFA in painting and drawing at Concordia University. She has been painting since 2018, and has since exhibited her paintings in various exhibitions. Her work explores our relationship to our environment, and the effect of perception and memory on the visual world around us. She is interested in the ability of an image to arouse complex emotions with subjects that leave room for interpretation. She is also interested in the application of traditional methods of oil painting to portraits, with a contemporary take. Abdullah Quick is a multimedia artist and explorer of urban industrial environments. He grew up in one Chicago’s industrial corridors and has grown accustomed to the remnants of industry. His research into the social and environmental effects these sites have on their surroundings fuels his interest in highlighting these less noticed aspects of urban life. He tries to capture the juxtapositions between these sites, the natural environments they replace, and the communities they both sustain and erode. His process begins by photographing these sites and overlaying maps of affected areas, abstracting those maps to showcase his drone footage within rebuilt virtual representations of those environments. stephanie roberts is a Québec-based writer who was born in Central America, and grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been featured in Poetry Magazine, Arc Poetry, Crannóg, The /tƐmz/ Review, Room, EVENT Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the author of the self-published poetry collection The Melting Potential of Fire and rushes from the river disappointment (McGill-Queen’s University Press, May 2020). Twitter/Instagram: @ringtales
Tazi Rodrigues currently lives in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal). Her writing, which is rooted in transit, has previously appeared in Room, Vallum, and CV2. Aya Satoh received her MFA in poetry at the University of Montana, where she was a poetry editor for CutBank. She has been published in Apogee, Anomaly’s folio Radical: Avant Garde Poets of Color, and Bennington Review. Sonal Sher, a Srinagar native, is a screenwriter in the Hindi film industry. She writes fiction about alternate realities when she’s not deconstructing old Bollywood songs and tending to her kitchen garden. Her work has appeared in Chicago Review, The Conium Review, The Hindu, Emrys Journal, and The Daily O. Jian Sitri does horrible things to old books. They’re facsinated by the potential of radial symmetry and the horror of indeterminate growth. Lisa Vlasova would like to be thrown off a horse and saddled with purpose on her road to Damascus. Unfortunately this sort of thing is unlikely to happen. In the meantime, she rudely insists on looking behind the veil. Myriam Wares is an illustrator from Montreal, Canada, whose work is greatly inspired by culture, storytelling and mythology. Using a surrealistic approach to convey meaning, she specializes in editorial and book illustration. Among her clients can be found magazines such as Maisonneuve, This Magazine, and The Atlantic. Currently, she is illustrating a collection of Quebec folk tales set to be published in the summer of 2020. You can follow her on Instagram @myr.illustration or on her website: myriamwares.com. Noah Zacharin was born in Montreal, where, decades ago, he began playing music and writing songs and poems. Somehow the endeavour continues to fascinate and engage him, and he is consequently at work on any number of projects. As a lover of ravens, crows, and their kind, he’d like to remind you that corvid is spelled with an ‘R.’ noahsong.com.
72 SCRIVENER will return...
Montreal-Based Literary Magazine
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INAUGURAL ISSUE: SUMMER,2020
ARCPOETRYMAGAZINE Over 40 years of poetry
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F iddleh e a d The
Atlantic Canada's International Literary Journal
Looking for a literary slam dunk? Then memorize our new contest deadlines! Weâ€™ve changed our contest format from one contest with two categories to three separate contests! As part of this revamping, weâ€™re introducing a creative nonfiction contest!
Creative Nonfiction Submissions Open March 1
Deadline: June 1
Submissions Open June 1
Deadline: September 1
Submissions Open September 1
Deadline: December 1
thefiddlehead.ca/contest | thefiddlehead.submittable.com/submit
Submissions open each Spring and Fall. Subscriptions and back issues available.
contributors Samira Abed Nathan Bayne Anthony Jamie Bucciacchio Esther Calixte-Bea Leah Callen Marco diPasquale Kaily Dorfman François Émond Christeen Francis Tiia Kelly Thomas Koht Roland Kulla Audrey Lindemann Maya Mahony DS Maolalai
Marie McGrath Alexia McKindsey Joan Meyer Kobus Moolman Patrick O’Reilly Crystel Pereira Abdullah Quick stephanie roberts Tazi Rodrigues Aya Satoh Sonal Sher Jian Sitri Lisa Vlasova Myriam Wares Noah Zacharin
Featuring an interview with