EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Colleen Romaniuk MANAGING EDITOR Chalsley Taylor CREATIVE DIRECTOR Matthew Dunleavy SENIOR POETRY EDITOR Domenica Martinello
SENIOR FICTION EDITOR Karl Fenske
ASSOCIATE POETRY EDITOR Courtney Purcell
SENIOR FICTION EDITOR Hailey Wendling
ASSOCIATE POETRY EDITOR Jenny Smart
ASSOCIATE FICTION EDITOR Rachel Rosenberg
ASSOCIATE POETRY EDITOR Hiroki Tanaka
GRAPHIC DESIGNER Alex Begin
SENIOR ONLINE EDITOR Andy Fidel ONLINE EDITOR Gabrielle Samek
Table of Contents EK-PHRASES Klara du Plessis
the now Alex Robichaud
Claire Covered Tess Roby
I Knew Him, Horatio David Walker
Suiphagia* David Walker
then what. David Walker
Swallow Jennifer Amos
the now Alex Robichaud
Crying Through Airport Security Colleen MacDonald
Before It Fades Kelly Duval
Untitled Poems Eben Hensby
Jokes About the Great Fire Parker Baldin
Passion Series Jessica Kendall Albert
Poetic Justice Simon Banderob
natura Alex Robichaud
Vic Santeria on the Run with the Ruby Barrel, Pearl Handle Gun Salvatore Migliara
offsâ€™goes Alex Robichaud
Orange Juice: The Untold History Daniel Grandy
o Liliane Hudecova
Klara du Plessis In my first language Afrikaans, “ek” means the first person “I” – writing about visual art I phrase myself. I Anselm Kiefer. Im Gewitter der Rosen (Storm of Roses). 2000. Lead books on shelves with dried roses and brambles. The woman in the artwork donated too much blood, she lost weight, she is no longer present for comment. Before the transfusion, she was seen slapping her cheeks to bloom. After, one supposes, she left to the room adjacent to eat biscuits and balance her blood sugar. In truth, she opened a magazine (last month’s fingered pages) and fell asleep on a sheet that caught fire. It was her status as a non- textual element that saved her. Some ladies had cut out the picture in question from their magazine copies and pasted it in scrapbooks with other images of flowers.
II Albrecht DuĚˆrer. Melencolia I. 1514. Engraving. The forehead is the scripture of the body. Which is probably why portraits seem so intellectual. (At a contemporary art exhibit melancholy hangs between photography as a comparison or a joke. I buy a postcard of the alphabet called love note, composing letters to the man of the moment, a dictionary of body language by my side.) Like the calligraphic frown. Even the stones are wrinkling, leaving but the premature quotation of the face.
III George Brassaï. Nude. Circa 1933. Black/white photograph (woman lying curled like a comma). Some weird war against punctuation. Commas are OK. But exclamation points and question marks are being replaced by deadpan periods.
IV Ryan McGinley. Dove, Wandering Comma. 2011. Black/white photograph. “That photograph is mostly lyrical and sensuous.” “It sounds like me.” Like the infernal difference between pigeons and doves.
Facts of life
Alex Robichaud Babies are, soft organic matter. Babies are, compostable. Babies are, about 85% water. They dry with age. Roughly the same as A Fresh Potato.
Claire Covered Tess Roby
I Knew Him, Horatio David Walker
“Are you not entertained?” -- That guy from Gladiator The idea was to convincingly stage a suicide, at first, but as the piece developed the playwright and the director decided that accidental death from autoerotic asphyxiation was more poignant and a better fit thematically. In a tragic turn of events, the lead actor died an all-too-real accidental death from autoerotic asphyxiation during a technical rehearsal three days before the show was scheduled to open. There’s still no proof that it was anything other than a terrible accident, the unique sort of occupational hazard willingly assumed by anyone who plays pretend for a living. Still though, just wow. The only text on the actor’s tombstone, which is in the Jewish cemetery next to the MP’s office, is a joke about that guy from Kill Bill who also died an accidental death from autoerotic asphyxiation. A picture of the tombstone went viral almost immediately after it was posted to social media, receiving thousands of likes and hundreds of retweets, which you’ve got to admit is pretty impressive.
David Walker there’s a creek in yorkshire that is six feet across and hundreds of feet deep. below the surface, the current is so fast that no one has ever entered the water and survived. they say there are hundreds of bodies down there somewhere, but anyway yes of course i still think you’re beautiful.
the creek is called the bolton strid.
it just looks so easy to cross is the thing. it looks like you could just wade across no problem. remember when i said you’re boring and you said you hate me and i laughed in your face and you pushed me out of the bedroom and i put a hole in the drywall and you cried for an hour while i played mahjong and then we got into it again and you called me the worst thing that’s ever happened to you? the bolton strid is full of caves, too — vast caves, completely inaccessible. so we think. there’s no way to be sure, for obvious reasons.
*term coined by David Foster Wallace in The Pale King, meaning “selfswallowing”
David Walker letâ€™s say that every time youâ€™ve ever been drunk you had another five drinks on top of that. the question being how many times would you have been dead by now. run this experiment with other vices, other delights. then regular things. every time you brushed your teeth. every time you went for a walk. every time you said hello. how much more could you have handled before your real physical death. imagine that the answer is no more. imagine that everything in your life has been as much of that thing as you could possibly take.
Jennifer Amos i. At first I cannot place you. Unable to pluck our encounter from the reaches of recollection. Now I want to peel you like a banana ii. I see you have none so I give you half your turn you pop the whole thing in your mouth chew slowly iii. I am capable of complete and devastating hatred all I need is the back of a head or a hand raised in a way I donâ€™t like
Crying Through Airport Security Colleen MacDonald Miss you
have to empty your pockets now.
Before it Fades Kelly Duval I need you to look at my tongue, Mom. It’s so red from this lollypop you gave me.
You look down so I look too but there’s just a pile of dirt on the pavement in this laneway— no, a swarm of ants circling around each other.
You say “There’s something I need to tell you.” I thought it’d be good news but then you say “My daddy passed away.”
I don’t know why you bought me this lollypop. Now it tastes like artichoke.
I crunched and the hard bits got stuck in a loose tooth. I’m afraid of cavities so I wiggled it with my tongue and almost pulled it out.
I need you to see my tongue before the red fades and there will be nothing special to see.
Untitled Poems Eben Hensby
I: The night swirls past us, as we stand in its midst. Standing under it, we sway, as fruit on its bough. Our mouths open, in circular sway, open, as the night in its midst. Remembering, the night sways, and in its swaying we remember all the nights of cornered houses. Those houses, talking us into their corners, those wallpapered corners, open for us, gently opening for us, we remember the swaying. The broom, the shovel, the table. These things are not forgot. Not even in the night, not even in the pain, not even in the midst of the longing of night.
II: for Jan Zwicky sitting under the asoka trees, down by the river, little spheres of cold icicle fingers notation cast carelessly up above for all to see regardless of musical ability or inclination I am one of those blind gnawed away his own digits left to shiver in the armies marching for causes and conditions all over the world is too vast for its inhabitants we are notation carelessly cast and all the blood spills out of our veins onto the black surface of whomeverâ€™s hunger. (rearrange my face! o trees of knowledge â€“ I am an asoka lonely as you.)
III: In our light the moon holds hands. Daisies // water in the cup on the table.
IV: We are changed seared by the burning flesh by the burning word whose tongue has changed? whose mouth speaks now? the coin from whose eye tossed to the pond of whose heart? Itâ€™s a ringing so tight that all of the pain is dripping in beads from off of this bell.
V: We hold hands of different cities but I believe in the river that exudes from my scalp when nobody’s looking, else they can’t see, it’s like a fingernail growing and it will go into your mouth before thirst exudes from yours.
Jokes About the Great Fire Parker Baldin
I’m stumbling around in old shoes And making a mess of myself for no specific purpose. It all feels increasingly prosaic Like my friend Kentucky, who throws up In his garage every night and sets his passport on fire. It’s really quite silly, He loves to swim, his mother is a swimmer. I am jumping, jumping all the time Nodding past the old bricks and the buildings, The snow and the troubled cancer patients. I want to listen and code everything like an angelic cellphone, Unapologetic and kind. Haha, I’m always saying sorry! Why do I do that! Parker, How silly all these drinks are, You could probably be happy! My favourite people Are those who are shy and also nice, In them I feel an unequivocal sense of connection (Like Mrs. Kentucky’s piano chords) Mrs. Kentucky knows a man named Preedom, Which I think is great. (Yes ma’am, I will have a glass of your finest wine, Where are the cups?)
Passion Series 1
Jessica Kendall Albert
Passion Series 2
Jessica Kendall Albert
Passion Series 3
Jessica Kendall Albert
Passion Series 4
Jessica Kendall Albert
Passion Series 5
Jessica Kendall Albert
Poetic Justice a play about poetry in rhyming couplets Simon Banderob The Players Clerk, a low-powered flunkie, very excitable and eager to please. Judge Laureate Joe Joelson, a very grand and imperious justice, but ultimately fair. Bobby Freeze, of Poets United, an upstanding citizen, but also over-zealous. Sam Vox, a poet on trial for their life and their art. The Bailiff, a loyal servant of the law.
The Place A courtroom, in the future.
Bailiff Where are we? When are we? I see in your eyes
the strain of understanding, to grasp, recognise,
the place is the same, but the time has advanced -
the flying cars, yes, and the tinfoil pants
but look to the motto they traced out on the mural,
“The poet is the unacknowledged legislator of the world”.
Percey Shelley wrote that in 1821,
but no one believed it ‘till the verse wars begun-
the novelist revolt, and the bloggers’ rebellion,
the essayists seceded and acted like hellions!
Editors everywhere lost their control
TV executive heads were put up on a pole-
Who would have thought that would come from the once-peaceful writers?
Turns out that the scribblers are fierce freedom-fighters... Streets and squares are now named after Cohen, Atwood and Mowatt,
the Earth overrun by a revolution of poets.
They rewrote constitutions with flourishing prose,
and pushed underground there their mouth-breathing foes.
The poets were persecuted - they did have just cause,
but today we must live under their cruel laws.
Ladies and gentlemen, listen - all girls and boys be you mole-folk or Martian, or clone or android, this is poet-court, you’ve no doubt surmised, for his Honour Judge Joelson, won’t you please now all rise!
Judge Laureate Joe Joelson enters, takes seat at throne.
Citizens, you may each now return to your seat
to begin today’s case, whose parties we’ll meet.
Bobby Freeze is the plaintiff, of Poets United
and defendant Sam Vox is who is indicted.
If there’s any more questions that you wish to be answered -
O please shut up clerk, and get back to your hansard.
Tell us the charges, there’s no need to rehearse.
Yes, yes your Honour - I’d just like to say first,
Sam Vox has committed a crime that is worser than worst,
the defendant is accused of using free verse!
Murmurs in the crowd, Judge bangs his gavel.
Order! Order! There shall be order in the court
Get on with the case, for my patience is short.
If Sam Vox is guilty, then as everyone knows
they will face a slow death being crushed by bad prose!
‘Neath the weight of a tonne of Harlequin romances,
and teenage pulp fiction, Sam’ll have very slim chances
of survival! But if Sam is not yet at rest,
then they’ll be beaten to death with an old Reader’s Digest! Now, we are responsible, in the Republic of Poets
to the words we have used, and we all surely know it.
And as is our custom, we defend the statements we’ve made
facing the the world alone, and without legal aid.
So the first to the stand if Your Honour so please,
represents Poets United, the great Bobby Freeze!
Your Honour Judge Joelson and people assembled,
I believe in dear progress, but our gains are ephemeral.
As a people of poets for ages we’ve toiled
for a language expressive, that ought not to be soiled
by radicals! Anarchists! those who would discard
our linguistic purity, the so-called avant-garde.
But reason and rhyme have ruled for years I’m delighted
to say, no small thanks to Poets United!
Weâ€™ve kicked out the malcontents, the bad apples and perverts
with dubious claims to be writing great works!
An artistic rift, I believe we have solved -
Please tell us right now how Sam Vox involved!
Your Honour of course, just last week I was sitted,
in the park eating lunch where I saw said crime committed! They were dressed rather shambly, and stood on a box, performing their poetry, was the accused Sammy Vox! I went to investigate, loving verse as I do, and what I heard shocked me, I swear this is true. I need only have listened for a very short time, to learn the defendant eschewed use of rhyme!
Gasps, hubbub in the court.
Order, Order! I want order returned!
Now speak, Bobby Freeze, of what else you have learned.
I walked up to Vox, so they would be accosted
but I was ignored by that prose-loving bastard.
As an officer of Poets United, I was quickly incensed,
Sam had no ID or artistic license!
Would Sam bite on their tongue or swallow their words!
No! For this refusal has Sam been referred.
Officer Freeze, for now your testimonyâ€™s sufficient would the defendant approach and please not be reticent. Tell us your name and then tell us your story you may use if you wish simile, trope or allegory.
Thank you, your Honour my name is Sam Vox.
And itâ€™s true I performed my poems on a box,
in a park for the people during the hour of lunch,
it is true I met Bobby Freeze, though also his trunch-
-eon - that sticks and stones saying appears to still hold...
but moreover its true - my speech broke the mould.
I used an irregular beat as I spoke every stanza,
my couplets were wobbly as a three-legged credenza.
My imagery was outrageous and intent most abstract
it was quite unusual and may well attract flack.
And Bob Freeze is right - at end of each line
was a fresh brand-new sound. My poem did not rhyme.
Itâ€™s so clear! The confession before us is pure smoking gun -
Just a minute you fool, this court isnâ€™t done.
Citizen Vox, it seems that the story you state
does not contradict that of Freeze’s - so where’s the debate?
I cannot deny that no rhymes were spoken,
but my defense is simple: what law have I broken?
Contempt of the court! Such conduct is vile!
Look at them, your Honour how they sit and smile -
From when the poets took over and all since that time
it’s been the law of land that we all speak in rhyme!
Yes, Indeed your Honour! Objection, Objection!
Judge Clerk! Bring out the law, for a further inspection!
Now, my dear Vox, I’m sure that you know,
you could evade law for some time, since justice is slow.
I doubt very much you had wished to offend,
and if you repent, your life won’t have to end.
But if you stick to your guns and you stick your story,
You’ll be fated to face a death that’s most gory... But whatever the truth, the law waxes poetic,
and you the accused may be found most... frenetic.
Frenetic? Is that the word that you most want to use?
Or is there another you rather would choose.
How dare you ask the questions! I meant to say frenetic I could have instead said Thiazide Diuretic!
My goodness, what’s that? Is it some kind of condition?
Keep up your wise-cracking and you’ll know true contrition!
I take Thiazide as my blood pressure is high,
since I always am stressed to speak well on the fly.
Perhaps it’s this rhyming that’s hurting your heart,
years and years of of strict meter - you suffer for art.
Believe me, I suffer, but from fools like you -
Clerk, get me the law before I throw my shoe!
Your Honour, your Honour I’ve got the law here!
But I’m worried Judge Joelson, that wording’s unclear.
I’m the one who will worry, now keep notes you slob,
you tardy old scribe, interpretation’s my job!
Now read it aloud! Our great law on speech,
how the beauty of language shall have endless reach.
Ahem. “The very first rule of the Poet’s republic
is that words will ring true,
as they are spoken and thought
and so that our descendants may smile
when they savour ageless words
and sending them out again
into the waiting cosmos.”
Clerk, it would seem you’ve skipped a few lines -
SV The Clerk has done nothing wrong. The law doesn’t rhyme. BF
Objection, Your Honour, as a matter of course,
protecting our rhymes is what drives our force!
Clerk, surely this rule is just half of a couplet -
Officer Freeze, will you learn how to stuff it!?
The poets of old believed that they could trust us,
to treat language with love - that’s poetic justice!
They believed spoken art should live in everyday speech
not stuffed up with reverence or soaked through with bleach. This rhyming obsession sounds as boots on the march, squashing and conquering, but where is the art? Where is the art? Where is the art that bends as reeds bend as backs bend in humility? Where is the art that skips like a stone that fears falling-
Your Honour, in the name of the Poetâ€™s United,
I demand Sam be locked up for this shameful incitement!
Our laws have been mocked, to tradition heâ€™s blind,
right before you, your Honour he refuses to rhyme!
Where is the art with the gravitas
of earth catching us with great hands
when we tumble,
where is the art that holds us close
as the earth’s gravity holds us close like lovers?
That is the art in my soul and art called for in law -
Can’t you see this your Honour? This madness must end!
Won’t you lock Sam away? Can not they be suspend -
ed? Disgrace! That this disordered speech be so rife -
Yes, my poems do not rhyme. But neither does life.
We are born in a fit, and we die in a whimper.
Why not speak as we are? What more could be simpler?
Judge bangs his gavel.
Enough! I’ve heard what I need from accused and plaintiff
Before I make my verdict, I’ll need some help from the bailiff.
What is it your Honour, and how may I help you?
I need you to fetch my verdict kazoo.
Now Sam Vox and Freeze - and Clerk, you should listen
I’ve considered the case as is my legal mission.
Bobby Freeze, representing Poets United,
it would seem at first you’ve done nothing that’s blighted
their reputation for enforcing our laws and traditions
but it does seem you’ve acted without a lawman’s precision.
For your excessive violence makes me a touch nervous, I sentence you to some community service. Now Vox, your verdict is far more complex, though to throw you in jail is my first reflex, looks like you’re not leg’ly bound to rhyme what you say, but you’re not off scott-free, I’ve a warning most grave.
The law may not care how you structure your words but whatever you say is invariably heard. Call it experimental or free verse, however you christen your poems, folks’ll know that the rhymes are a-missin’. They may question or laugh or put up a fuss, your verse is quite strange and accept this you must. Though the law’s on your side, there’s no mind I can budge, in the court of public opinion, there’s no law and no judge. One more thing - Clerk, it’s clear that poets-court is for you a great strain
so you’re hereby transferred to court of small claims. That is all, case is now closed, that’s the best I can do. you’re all free to go once I blast this kazoo.
Judge trumpets mightily upon his kazoo of judgment.
Vic Santeria on the Run with the Ruby Barrel, Pearl Handle Gun Salvatore Migliara
Four guys standing, one dead, and three guns in La Miseria Gin Bar in Uscita, Lazio, Italy. Two of those guns are pointed right at me and the human shield whose left temple is kissing my snub nose: one of Mikey’s goons wearing cheap cologne and a tasteless zigzag striped vest. These are tight odds. The Barman’s brains are all over my pant legs. I’m more than sure he sold me out. Barman, your martinis were one measure of gin too short. I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell you. Still, they got the job done. I didn’t even get to hang my hat in this small joint where the checkered floors are spotless beneath the cracked brick walls and Da Vinci sketches. There’s a booth that looks like it would’ve done me good with that Pagliacci painting hanging over it. Palm’s got sweat from the goon’s neck. I can almost feel how tight his adam’s apple is in his throat. Don’t worry, pal. I won’t end you. I’m one of the good guys. I just need to bluff until something figures out. Mikey’s holding that pistol too straight. Fuck, why’d it have to be him: last face you never see coming? Heart’s pumping. The gun he was sent for must be worth more scratch than I thought for the Big Honcho to spare this kind of muscle.
“Gonna grab a smoke, Mikey,” I say.
“Sure, Vic,” he answers in that gravel voice.
“Cigarettes,” I say to the goon I’ve got hostage. He pulls out a soft pack of Lucky’s from his left vest pocket. “Don’t even think of moving,” I say to him, grabbing his pack of smokes. He’s shaking. He’s staying put. “For a P.I., Vic,” Mikey says, “You sure are lousy at hiding your tracks.” “Didn’t think they needed hiding,” I answer, lighting the cigarette, smoke burning my eyes. Goon#2 to the right of Mikey looks clumsy in that tipped hat. Maybe I can shoot him in the head, but four gin martinis make a man more ambitious than capable. I can definitely get him in the gut. Sure, shoot his intestines, and then push Goon#1 towards Mikey. I’ll fire another shot. Get Mikey in the dick. Dive behind the bar. Make for the exit. Grab a bottle for good measure. “Alright, Vic,” Mikey says. “I’m jetlagged. Where’s the diamond gun?” I’ll admit, the shadow bars from the window blinds slitting his face and shoulder is pretty intimidating. “Ruby barrel,” I correct him. “Pearl handle.”
“I’m tired, Vic. The gun.”
“Did you check up your wife’s cooch?”
“What happened to you, Vic? You used to be less of a hassle and a pretty quick problem solver.” out.”
“Things started to stink too ugly. I wanted
“You’re hands are dirty and frankly, I don’t care. I like you. I would have let you be. But Honcho isn’t happy and I like money more than you.” “I never sawed anyone dead, Mikey.” “So you’re a good guy? Fine. Sure. Look, I tried. I’m tired. Tell me where the gun is and I’ll say you’re dead. No one will come looking for you. Let’s make things easy. I want to fly back home and get me a nice burger on Duluth.” “Christ, you’re getting fat, Mikey. Don’t you think I would have found a piece that hot? It’s a philosopher’s stone affair, a rotten apple you expect to bite golden.” “I don’t care. I need to bring something back. You think I want to be here in fucking Italy? I’m wearing shoes worth more than this town, and the first thing I step in is a pile of donkey shit. And then I have to kick some fat, drunk wop with more fingers than teeth right in the balls a few times for laughing at me. I’m Irish, Vic; I fucking hate Italy since a wop looked at me funny. I hate the people
loafing around in suspenders and their better-thaneveryone-attitude. I hate the smell of fish on the street, and tripping on bad cobble stone roads. And sometimes, Vic, I even hate you for being Italian. But those stubby legs and ugly face are reasons enough. Just give up this redemption shit and tell me where to find the gun.” What a dick. But you’ve got him distracted now. Shoot! Shoot him. Push goon. Shoot. Dive. Shoot. Now, Vic, now! You’re the good guy. You’ll make it. Just shoot! Make for the exit. Get out!
“Don’t you hate anything about Italy, Vic?”
“Besides that I can’t get laid and those warts on your nose attached to that balding, patchy face? No decent game of poker.” And just with that, bangs like cherry bombs bounce off the walls, and I’m diving through a symphony of bullets, blood stinging my eyes.
The puke burns my throat as it splashes on the cobbled alleyway, all over my red leather shoes. Gin martinis never do good when they’re coming out. Hell, they never do good going in, either. Fuck, it’s hot out here. That shootout was a mess. Left shoulder’s throbbing. Slug’s definitely stuck. Good thing I play gangster with my right. Tight odds? Vic, you’re as smooth as a fresh shave. Better find a doctor. Right after I puke up this last bit. White shirt’s
soaking in blood. At least it matches my tie. Hope someone can get the brains off these pants. I’d hate to lose ‘em; they’re fucking nice black pants. Goon#2 dropped hard. Pretty sure I got him in the face. Couldn’t grab a bottle. You’re getting too old, Vic. I hope Mikey got shot right in the cock. There’s an old, fat, bearded man sitting on the floor with suspenders but no shirt. He’s got a bottle of wine on him, and he’s staring at me like his stomach hurts from kicked balls. Better check how many rounds I got left. One. That’s just aces. “You okay, Signore,” the fat drunk asks me in Italian. I flick the cylinder back into my snub nose and point it at him. “Vino,” I say. He smiles wide at me; all four of his yellow teeth and cratered red gums. He’s an ugly bastard, and I point the gun between his legs. “Like I can use it anymore,” he laughs, nose flush. Forget this act, Vic. Taking hooch from a drunk is like making opera with baseball bat music. I grab the bottle off him and the swig doesn’t feel as good as I need it to. Head’s feeling like scrambled eggs. Saliva’s pooling under my tongue. Stomach’s gonna hit the inside of my mouth again. “Non ancora, per favore!” I hear the drunk cry out as the wall beside me splinters bits of brick in my face.
“Who you trying to get crazy with, Vic?” Mikey says in the distance. “Did you forget me? I’m the Shadow Walker. The Red Head. I’m the last call, Vic. I’m the last face you never see comin’!” Oh…fuck. One round left. Run. Another bullet clips my ear, but legs keep rushing one foot in front of the other, my hands with the snub nose and bottle of wine. Run. Don’t stop. Keep running. “You again!” Mikey shouts, followed by the drunk’s howls. “Aiiiiii!” Get to the street, Vic. Where there’s cover. Where there’re hands to play. Get to that light at the end. Can’t believe he missed twice. Mikey’s getting fat. Gives me a better chance. Run. Can’t let him get the gun. Can’t let him get your only ticket out of the hole. It’s a thing of legend. Fucking priceless! Run. The answer to a Mexican love affair: a chicken farmer’s wife, the tyrannical town mayor, and his daughter, her lover. That’s the gun. That’s money between your knuckles. Lungs: searing. Ignore the shoulder. Run. Run faster, dammit! He’s shooting at you! The wooden crates on the floor are bursting! “You need glasses, Mikey!” I shout. Not the time for your big mouth, Vic. Don’t trip. The sunlight from the street’s starting to blind me. I’m so close. I can smell the cream on espressos, the stink of gut pigs, the citrus of tangerines being peeled. You’re going to make it, Vic. Run. Run until the clatter of your shoes on alley
stone is drowned by the sweet accordion serenades and jokes about how ugly the people from Napoli are. I can hear it! They are ugly! You’re going to make it, Vic. I’m going to make it. Tires screeching from a short stop hit my ear drums. There’s a red and white cycle blocking my exit, and some scrawny pretty boy along with it. “Cazzo!” he says, spitting at my shoes. Doesn’t he see the gun in my hand, all the blood on my shirt? “Move!” I shout, breaking the wine bottle over his face, splashing wine all over both of us. It was good wine, but you gotta jump over him, Vic. Don’t stop running. I dart across the street into the closest open door visible. I slam it shut. Fingers fumble on the lock. Twist it. Safe. You’re safe, Vic. Breathe. Wipe the sweat off your face; it’s starting to sting. Light a cigarette. You’re as smooth as an ace-ten bluff. Glancing around, I’m surrounded by useless junk. Majestic statues and busts, big and tall, of sculpted bodies in togas with tiny peckers and curly locks of hair; Zeus, Hercules, Hades, and the less memorable ones. You’d think there’d be a statue of Athena with her tits out, wouldn’t you, Vic? Damn it. I have all of Italy, and I run into something Greek. These blue walls are making me nauseous. I can barely move around the place with all this crap
everywhere. Legs feel like used up bedsprings. I’m getting weak. Gut’s getting a little too big. Good thing Mikey’s fatter. A chunky woman steps through a bead curtain of blue and white circles with black dots behind the counter. She ain’t that old, but she’s got a mole the size of the Parthenon on her left eyebrow. It’s got a whisker the size of my thumb. She’s as close to pretty as seven-deuce is to the nuts. She must get her kicks with that drunk in the alley. Funny, Vic. Funny funny.
“I need a place to hide,” I tell her in Italian.
“Espresso?” she asks with her hands up.
“Signora, I don’t have time for this. Look at my shoulder.” “You’re going to be found. Guys like you never get away.” She’s a keeper, Vic. All of Italy to play mouse and you run into a Greek oracle nutcase. “Signora, I’ve got this gun pointed at your head. I’m the good guy, alright? So give me a place to hide.” There’s sweat still dripping down the short ridge of my nose. There’s smoke from the cigarette between my lips curling up the side of my face. “I’m
one of the good guys, understand?” But that doesn’t seem to change the look on her face. That blank stare rounded by the chins folded over her neck. Not appalled. Not afraid. “Maybe,” she says. “But you’re definitely not one of the pretty ones.” What is it with this dame? “Don’t make me shoot you,” I say. “Mhm.” The store’s almost dead quiet between us. There’s just a loud ticking from some clock I can’t see, and the whirling sound from a fan that’s lopsided on the ceiling. “Alright,” I tell her, waving the snub nose around my ear. “Give me an espresso.” She takes her sweet time walking through the beads. I follow her into the back room where there’s a simple white stove, a small wooden table and two chairs. There’re seven bronze and ceramic plates of naked men hanging on the walls, and three framed photos of ruined monuments and beige rocky cliffs over blue water. “Real swanky, Signora,” I say, watching her grab the handle of the moka pot with a rag that looks damp and definitely dirty. She’s got working hands:
veiny, coarse, dirty, strong. She tips the moka pot it over two cups. Black, decadent, bitter, creamy, velvet espresso waterfalls from the spout. The smell just sinks me. Warm and flavourful. Energetic, but only meant for a calm frame a mind. It’s medicine for the morning heartbreak; the remedy for a bad beat on the river; a man’s second favourite kind of woman. It’s what cigarettes were made for. Spark up another one, Vic. Get cocky. “Someone just walked in,” says the woman with a smooth voice. “Basta with the prophesy talk, Signora. I’m a gumshoe man.” “Then you heard the glass of the front door break?” Oh fuck. How’d you miss that one, Vic? All this thinking about espresso and dames is going to do you in! Only one round in the cylinder. “It’s a million degrees out there, Vic,” I hear Mikey say. “Every single door is open for the breeze. It got me wondering why anyone would keep one closed. Easy pickins, Vic. Plus, that fairy boy saw where you went.” I point my snub nose at the woman, and put a finger to my lips. She smirks and moves behind the stove. I can hear Mikey moving around the store, checking the rows. Slowly, I make my way towards
the bead curtain, standing straight against the wall. I don’t think he can see me. “I don’t know what got into you,” Mikey says. “Honcho did right by you. Never put you in anything too shady. He just wants the gun. We could have helped you out of the bind. Sure it would have cost you some of that morality you like to talk about.” He’s behind the counter. He’s getting closer. Fuck. Fuck. “This ain’t a world for heroes, Vic…” His arm bursts through the bead curtain and grabs my neck. “…because everyone needs to get paid.” Oh shit, something on the wall is digging into my back. His grip’s tight. I can’t breathe. I forgot what a giant he is. Shoot him. Raise the gun and shoot him! Mikey grabs my wrist, squeezes tighter on my neck. He’s banging my arm against the wall. Don’t pass out. Don’t drop the gun. Fight. Fight, dammit! The bullet in my shoulder is keeping me from fighting back. It gave up. This is it. This is your last call, Vic. I can feel my face pooling blood beneath the skin. Free hand drops the gun. My arm flails wildly for something to use. Don’t pass out. Fight. Resist. Run. I can feel the heat from the stove on my palm. I can hear my fingernails banging against the metal of the moka pot. Still got another hand to play, Vic. I grab the moka pot. It burns. Burns bad. I whack Mikey on the shoulder with it. My hand’s
searing. Mikey’s skin’s scalded where the espresso spills. He groans. I hit him again. I hit him in face. I feel air balloon my lungs. Mikey’s on the floor. I can breathe. I cough instead. It hurts. I can smell again; espresso and skin blistered to the muscle. Being alive hurts so much. “Jesus Christ, Vic!” he shouts, hands and knees on the floor, reaching for the snub nose. Kick him! Kick him in the chest. There’s pain in my toes. I think the big one’s broken, but hearing the breath cut from Mikey’s lungs makes it hurt something sweet. I give him another kick in the stomach and pain shoots through my foot like a nerve exposed to the tooth. Toes are definitely broken. I pick up the gun, point it at his head. I breathe deep. One round. Last round. Only round. BANG sounds off in the room and wood from the chair breaks all over the floor. It’s the Greek woman. She’s got a goddamn shot gun! She’s pointing it right at me. Get out. Mikey’s on the floor, grabbing my leg with one hand, holding his stomach with the other. Shoot him and run, Vic. “Easy. Easy,” I say to her, gun still to Mikey’s head. “Let’s not dance to scatter shots.”
“Drop it and get out,” she says.
“Just let me do this. I need to do this only
She pulls the trigger quicker than I do. Pellets tear into my ass. The snub nose drops and I’m hobbling out the store faster than I can cry out. One hand’s pressing my shoulder, the other one’s on my sore ass. Fuck, it’s bright outside. The people are passing me by wearing oversized sunglass that shimmer in the sun. People are looking at me and I can see my reflection a dozen times all warped and darkened and gorgeous. This kind of attention isn’t good. They’re faces look shocked. They’re noticing the blood. Mikey’s going to get up soon if that woman doesn’t have her way with him. Christ, what a nutcase. Shut up and move, Vic. Keep moving. Faster. Faster for fuck’s sake! I grab the first person close to me, a man in a brown suit and too much brylcreem in his hair. “Train station?” I yell at him in Italian. His eyelids pop wide. His lips get tight. “I’m one of the good guys! Train station!?” He swats my hand off his shoulder. He points down the street. First stroke of luck all day. Convenient. “Grazie, faccia culo,” I say and plant the heel of my broken foot on the ground, moving forward. You’re going to make it, Vic. You’re going to get out. Keep moving.
The train station’s bustling with life. There’re gypsies in circles and on their knees, their kids tugging at the pants of the guys in suits, of the guys in short sleeved button shirts. Some of the braver scamps are tugging at women’s dresses. This is the only place I’ve seen in this town where people are
in a rush to get somewhere, to do something. Even the groups of foreign expatriate smokers standing around seem to be dragging at their cigarettes with some urgency of time. They’re not noticing me. No one’s noticing me. That’s good. That’s real good. You’re incognito, Vic. Just the way life should be for a stud like you. I need to get on a train. No one’s going to sell me a ticket looking the way I do. Gotta jump it. Mikey’s never going to catch me. My eyes scour the ceilings for the schedule. There’s a train to Calabria leaving in two minutes right to the left of me. Full house, Vic. I make for the platform. All I can smell are cigarettes as I move through the pain from the crowd bumping against my shoulder. I’m pushing against them. They’re calling me an asshole. Gotta move faster. There such a throbbing from my foot and ass. The smoke from the train is streaming up into the air. Bell’s ringing. Train’s rolling. Let it. Gotta make it. You’re going to make it. Move. Move. That gun is going to make you a mint. Life’s going to be easy. No more gumshoeing. No more sleaze. Just simple living. Easy peasy. Well, a little bit of sleaze. But for now you gotta move, Vic! Get on the back of the train. Hobble. Hobble faster. Get on the back of the train. Not a whole lot of platform left. Grab the railing. The warm touch of iron feels so promising. Pull up. Hop on. It’s going to hurt. Do it. You’re doing it. You’re going to make it.
Two feet on the iron grill back of the train and I’m standing like a royal flush. This is it, Vic. This is what winning feels like. This deserves an espresso. And a beer. And a cigarette. Light one up, will ya? You. Fucking. Made it. The cool wind sooths the burn on my hand. The loud sound of steel bars turning huge steel wheels grinding on steel rails is symphony of the righteous escape. I stick my hand in my pocket to feel for the gun. The gun of trouble; the barrel all encrusted in rubies so flush with crimson gleams, the pearl handle that’s got this yellow-beige gloss to it. Still, it’s smooth like the look of gin poured from the shaker. I press the cylinder open. Holy fuck. Three rounds. I could’ve killed Mikey. Thing’s so old probably doesn’t fire anyway. And I don’t think Mexican’s are known for their handy work. A man with a thick black moustache comes out the door wearing a blue coat and silver buttons on the collar. I give him a nod, take a drag from the cigarette and stare at the train station and small rolling hills getting smaller. He takes one look at me and sees the gun, the red finger marks raised on my neck, the dark blood stained on my shirt, the swelling on my hand. He sees the whole handsome mess that’s Vic Santeria and he thinks I’m trouble. They’re going to book me at the next stop. This ain’t good, Vic. You don’t have
the scratch for a bribe. They’ll confiscate the gun. You’ll be a busted draw, and Mikey’s going to find you and gut you. Play it cool, Vic. Bluff.
“My ticket’s inside.”
“I’m not letting you back in.” He stands.
“I’m not going to hurt anyone. I’m one of the good guys.” “I’m not letting you back in.” His fists tightening. Who the fuck does this guy think he is? “This isn’t the time to play hero,” I say. Move.” “No,” he says, taking one stiff step towards me. His eyes shift to the gun shaking in my hand. He jumps on me. I keep shouting at him as we struggle, “I’m the good guy! I’m the good guy! I’m the good guy!” He steps on my toe. The pain thunders up my leg. It’s excruciating. I shout. I get the gun on his chest. I pull the trigger. He stumbles backwards, blood seeping through his coat. He falls over the railing and then I don’t see him anymore. I didn’t mean for it to happen. He shouldn’t’ve played hero. He should’ve let me through. Oh fuck, Vic. It was an accident! You’re the good guy. Why couldn’t he understand that? It’s not my fault. It was him or it would’ve been me. I’ve made it out. And that’s when I feel it: a vengeful hard poke digging behind my head. The ruby barrel, pearl handle gun taken from my hand. This is it. This is the bust. Mikey? This is the end.
Orange Juice: The Untold History Daniel Grandy
The United States government has been cooperating with Big Orange companies like Tropicana for years to suppress the Orange Juice Pill.
Let’s look at the facts.
In 1971 a woman by the name of Sandy Sullivan was researching powdered orange drink. Frustrated at most commercial brands – which tasted like plastic shopping bags smeared with marmalade – and working three jobs just to make rent in her downtown New York City apartment, Sullivan needed a citrus fix to rival the giants such as Minute Maid, Tropicana and the like. Said fix needed to be cheap enough to fit her prohibitively small budget; so severe was her debt, Sullivan was living off scraps of bread crusts and molted snake skin that the tenants of other apartments threw into the dumpster behind the complex. One sordid night, when the rain clung to the windows like burnt cheese to a casserole dish, Sullivan and her late partner, Virginia Richards, were watching the TV – maybe M*A*S*H, but possibly Happy Days (the details surrounding the Orange Juice Pill’s history are hazy and oft-suppressed by the Government and Big Orange companies). Next-door neighbour and male model Tiberius Starling, in an interview in 1988, reported
hearing “[S]creams of jubilation, exaltation, celebration, like firecrackers had just gone off in the young couple’s lives”. Starling’s uninspired simile aside, these shouts of joy were likely due to Sullivan’s eureka moment, in which she realized, through methods unknown, the secret to unlocking the Orange Juice Pill. Government agencies, however, attribute the screams to “feverish joy at the events of M*A*S*H”. Researchers, conversely, posited that the episodes of both M*A*S*H and Happy Days were rather unremarkable that day. Coincidentally, Starling gave his interview three days before he died of a purported “allergic reaction to citrus”. Suspicious? Obviously. Sullivan created the Orange Juice Pill over a period of two weeks, with the help of her live-in lover and fellow amateur scientist, Richards. When pressed for an interview, all Richards would reveal, in hushed tones, was: “The secret... is in the pulp! Dehydrated pulp...” before beginning to hyperventilate into a brown paper bag she had brought with her. Richards was found dead a week after the interview, the victim of an unsettling vice grip incident. Her head was crushed to a bloody pulp, with the words “FRESHLY SQUEEZD [sic]” smeared on her apartment walls in what appeared to be Tang residue.
The Pill was orange, small, and about the size and shape of a Ritalin. It was powdery, and was designed to be dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of cold water. The effervescence fading away, a glass of 100% pure orange juice would come into being, as tasty as if it were squeezed from a real orange by muscular hands, according to various sources. Sullivan’s plan would have brought orange juice to the market that was affordable, easy-to-store and non-perishable, while still retaining that lipsmacking taste.
But Big Orange wouldn’t have it.
Threatened with a new giant emerging on the horizon of orange juice production, Minute Maid and Tropicana got together – for the first time in history – to plan an attack on their would-be competitor. They enlisted help from the government, who knew that any mass-produced orange drink that was that cheap, tasty, and accessible would drive the masses away from drinking fluoridated tap water, which everyone knows keeps the population docile. “All hell will break loose,” said the head of Minute Maid, allegedly, as reported by a Big Orange whistle-blower, years after the incident. The aforementioned whistle-blower’s drowned corpse was found shortly after the report, but experts say his lungs weren’t filled with water...
They were filled with orange juice.
Sullivan tried to bring the Pill to the public but was harassed by the government. A subtle propaganda campaign ensued, which was used to smear Sullivan’s reputation as an amateur scientist and an orange juice drinker. Posters went up around the city, decrying Sullivan as a fraud, as having a pact with the Devil, and even as someone who rolled her toilet paper under instead of over. Soon, screams of “If God wanted us to drink this sinful powdered concoction, he wouldn’t have put oranges on this Earth!” peppered Sullivan’s daily travels. Passers-by mocked her, and threw 100% Florida oranges at her, supplied by the government for this purpose. It was very rough for Sullivan; at some points she couldn’t even visit the corner store on her street without being called an “orange oppressor,” “citrus renegade,” or “crazy cat lady” (one of the blatant lies of the propaganda campaign; Sullivan only owned one cat at the time). Eventually, it got to be too much for Sullivan. Grocery stores wouldn’t accept her product, Richards was being kidnapped nightly at 8:00 P.M. and returned at 9:00 A.M. the next morning, with no memory of her disappearances, and each of Sullivan’s day jobs had fired her for “controversial outside activities that reflect poorly on the company”.
Each dismissal notice, despite the companies in question being unrelated to one another, was signed in the same handwriting, with the same format and wording. At 3:12 A.M. on a Sunday, getting up to have a glass of orange juice, Richards found Sullivanâ€™s limp body on the kitchen floor with her throat stuffed with oranges, blocking her windpipe. Her neck bulged grotesquely, illuminated only by a single, stark oven light. To this day, the circumstances surrounding the death are foggy; experts still disagree over whether it was a suicide, or if foul play was involved. One thing is certain, however: The secret of the Pill died with Sullivan. Richards knew bits and pieces, but not enough to replicate the Pill on her own, despite trying for years afterwards, up until her own death. The Orange Juice Pill never took off. It soon faded from the collective memory, thanks in part to the fluoride in our water, which everyone knows inhibits short- and long-term memory. Many didnâ€™t even believe in the Pillâ€™s existence at the time, let alone today. But the facts are indisputable.
Contributors Jessica Kendall Albert Jessica Kendall Albert has her Bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in Art History and Studio Art. She is a multidisciplinary artist who works primarily with acrylics as well as chalk pastels. Her realistic style is influenced by Renaissance and Baroque art, emphasized by her meticulous attention to detail and form. This series, Passion, was developed through the use of chalk pastels and was created with the focus of studying the human form. Jennifer Amos Jen is from Vancouver BC, and currently lives in Kingston, ON. She has degrees in Psychology and Journalism from Queen’s and Ryerson universities. Jen has published non-fiction in Canadian magazines, and is now working on fiction and poetry. She recently had her first poem published in Feathertale. Jen is still seeking a career that consists of book-reading, nap-taking, and kitten-hugging, but in the meantime she does Communications.
Simon Banderob Simon Banderob is a poet, storyteller and actor living in Montreal, Quebec. He is studying Theatre and Development as well as Political Science at Concordia University. He is active in the monthly Throw! Poetry Slam, and represented Throw! in the 2013 Canadian Festival of the Spoken Word, competing in the semifinals. Simon is also an alumnus of the 2013 Victoria Spoken Word Festival and a veteran of the Victoria, Peterborough and Toronto Slam stages.
Kelly Duval Kelly Duval is from Montreal, studying English Literature and Creative Writing at Concordia University. One of her favourite words is lozenge.
Daniel Grandy Daniel Grandy is a student at Concordia University. An artist and a writer, he enjoys long walks, pizza and sleeping in. More of his work can be found... on his hard drive, as he hasn’t had the decency to make a website devoted to said work. Get on that, Dan! Build your personal brand! What are you doing with your life!? Quiet sobs can be heard from his apartment in Montreal.
Eben Hensby Eben Hensby is a sometimes-poet and a sometimes-philosopher. Coming from the West Coast of Canada, he is now studying Philosophy at Concordia. He is interested in Martin Heidegger and continental philosophy, as well as Canadian poet-philosopher Jan Zwicky. Although he has been writing poetry for a long time, he has not tried to publish it in quite a while. He is grateful that these poems have come. Colleen MacDonald Colleen MacDonald was born in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and now studies Creative Writing at Concordia University.
Liliane Hudecova Liliane Hudecova is pursuing her studies in English Literature at Concordia University. Born and raised in Montreal, she has always been attracted to visual aesthetics, cinema and musical artists. Her unusual habit of covering walls with any images she can find inevitably led to her endless love affair with photography. She cites her influences as Billy Corgan, Gus Van Sant and Quentin Tarantino. She currently writes and works as a photographer for local website Montreal Rampage. Salvatore Migliara A misplaced son of Montreal, Salvatore Migliara is willing to write eulogies for hamburgers, advertisements for disposable income, and funny fables for loved ones. Previously published in Panoram Magazine, he usually starts his stories with sex or violence because writing is about entertainment as much as challenging constitutions. Salvatore Migliara is a carrier of pens whose thoughts fire around like marbles in a pinball machine.
Klara du Plessis Klara du Plessis is a poet residing in Montreal. Currently, she is working on a book project, tentatively titled “Hell Light Flesh”. Klara wrote and performed in a multi-disciplinary show of poetry, music and dance, “Medusa Shaved” (Montreal, December 2013). Klara was shortlisted for the 2013 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, and curates the monthly Résonance Reading Series. She holds a MA degree in English Literature from McGill University.
Alex Robichaud Alex looked in the mirror this morning and saw two feet upholding a petite statured woman, framed by thin arms, slight wrists, and small hands, topped with a collection of unruly hair; she wonders how she hasn’t blown away or snapped in half as of yet. Alex lives in Japan, she doesn`t remember how she got there. Sometimes she feels electric, sometimes nothing at all.
Tess Roby Tess Roby is an artist, musician and writer based in Montreal. Her photographs capture an eerie beauty in the mundane; a documentation of what will soon be lost. Roby has been published internationally, in the UK and Mexico, and is currently in her third year of studies in photography at Concordia.
David Walker David F. Walker is a writer from Edmonton currently studying English and Creative Writing at Concordia University in Montreal. His poetry has appeared previously in Headlight, and his play Beware Beware will be produced this summer at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival. He also works in theatre as an actor, an improviser, and a musician.