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The Trillium

Issue 1, Winter 2014

Dedicated to Canada’s dynamic literary culture

“A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter as fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together. - Margaret Atwood

Welcome to  the  inaugural  issue  of  The  Trillium,  a  Canadian   literary  magazine  celebrating  the  best  of  the  written  word.   In This Issue

To New Beginnings

to the first in what hopes to be a long

Featured Writers




What an incredible journey and

poetry, short stories, and other

M ichael H. Tkachuk

labour of love this has been. The

Canadian creative writing within

Branka Petrovic

editorial staff is proud to present

these pages.

Ursula Vaira

the first issue of The Trillium.

Susan Ioannou



Rudyard Fearon

sincerely hope that The Trillium

opportunity to sincerely thank the

will allow both our writers and

Ben Nuttall-Sm ith



readers to realize and explore the

David Groulx

contributed their work to this

wondrous effect that the written

M onica Graham

issue of The Trillium. It is talent

word can have.

Allan Briesm aster Linda Stitt Karen Calaiezzi

Words hold great power, and we












publication successful. We would also like to take a


The Editorial Team

moment to welcome our readers

The editorial staff would like to acknowledge the contributions of Anne Del Riccio, Kayla McDonald, and all other individuals who dedicated their time and expertise to the editing and publication of the inaugural issue of The Trillium.


The Trillium  –  Issue  1,  Winter  2014  

T HE L IVING L IGHT – M ICHAEL H. T KACHUK The stellar orbs that bedeck the nebulous cosmos, And diminish the cosmos by their radiant essence, Were deliberately fashioned for an ephemeral existence, To expire when they’ve served their designated purpose; With a violent explosion at the end of their useful phase, The remnant debris plummet expeditiously to the ground, And finds its niche beneath an earthly mound Henceforth consigned to its eternal resting place. Reflective of these stars are we that inhabit this earth, With perishable bodies largely composed of stardust; are likewise crated to tentatively fulfill the creator’s quest ‘Till death explosively extinguishes the living light of birth And lodges the remains beneath the earthly crust But the soul commits to an eternally spiritual fest.

Born and raised in Angusville, Manitoba, Michael Tkachuk holds degrees from the University of Manitoba, Brandon University, and the University of Ottawa. He served in the Canadian Armed Forces for four years before becoming an educator.

O VERHAUL – B RANKA P ETROVIC Tall Poplars II (Approaching Thunderstorm), Gustav Klimt, 1902

Upon closer inspection, whatever rises no poplars but a sea of speckled trout spinning green, blue and violet into impossible coincidence. Meaning that starts off miniscule, expands when the eye is situated far enough to see leaves twinkling in the breeze, but even then, mislead. The promise of forever, married to the fields that need ironing. The black curtains that must come down. How memory works itself into a storm,


drags whatever past out into the light

With its veil of silence and hum of calm Evening cometh to quiet me With its cloak of darkness and still of shadow Evening cometh to hide me With its inky flight and sweeping wings Evening cometh to free me With its somber whisper and liquid eyes Evening cometh to find me With its august crest and knowing soul Evening cometh to absolve me With its tranquil breath and solitude Evening cometh to save me With its endless but elusive wake Evening cometh to take me home

and holds on. The storm approaching, a mosaic of angular fragments. The asphalt you walk over on your way to work. Ashes painted into.

Branka Petrovic holds a Masters of English Literature and Creative Writing from Concordia University. Her work has appeared in several magazines and journals, and in 2012 was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize.

“A scattered, discontinuous life is the postmodern norm; most of us, raised in generic suburbia, come from nowhere; writers of this drifting cohort seek to root themselves in language. Each book is a room in the home that the rootless writer, the deracinado, seeks to build out of words, ideas, images, and narratives. “ 2 2

- Steven Heighton

The Trillium  –  Issue  1,  Winter  2014

C AN A P OEM M OVE A M OUNTAIN ? – S USAN I OANNOU Can a poem move a mountain? Or are mountain and poem one? Let us speak our poems to the air, if first we can carve them from the earth, where deep and massively indifferent they hide, serene among mineral folds and trickling crystal, hardened between the molten flows below, the eroding sediments above. They don't need us. Like earth itself they simply are. They hoard their own glitter, hardness, and magnificent clarity. They accept the press of ages, their slow metamorphoses under the pressures of heat and time. Why should they care otherwise? We are the greedy who crave the wealth they can bring -- not money, but the purest grade ore that whispers underground the secrets of ions intermingling, of geodes bristling amethyst, of the slowest motion forming, reforming rifts and strata, moving the continents. We are the ones who are broken on their hardness, their jagged edges. We are the ones who, to survive, must study the dark complexities of the way down, bending over our pages late into the night by the light of our fierce desire. In this lonesome mine, the descent is steep, unstable, and long, in search of an unmapped lode. No wonder some snatch at zirconia's flash, or stop, too shallow, at fool's gold. Such alchemy brings the glow of applause. Credits weight the carats of their names. Traders award stock praise. The solitary and desperate dig for more. That is the only way, as caught between the poles of Death and Love, the centre's magnetism draws us in. We have to know, to find that chunk, to tuck it into our shirts, humming with the heart's beating, our talisman. How? We have three simple tools. The magnetometer is intuition. As we bend, intent, its numbers' upward dance tells us: There, under there, start to dig. Next are words, to bore into rock, blunt at first as a pneumatic drill; deeper, as subtle as a hand-held hammer's pick. The third tool is courage: to risk the wrong fissure, to force our words through layer upon layer, to go on believing through damage and dross. How often the drill bites askew, the opal shatters. Our hands ache, the darkness suffocates. Time drags slow as tectonic plates, and patience smokes like a match. Does it matter that we strike bornite or sulphur, and not aquamarine? Does it matter to anyone that we drill on and on, or even at all? No more than it matters that the rain falls and a Soufrière breathes. We do what we are, digging throughout our days to find out what digging is, the sweat-stained spirit’s straining. Each piece we pry out and haul up, will it glint back a split-second of knowing? In sunlight, one by one we lay out rows. We love their subtle colourations, their smoothed or rugged surfaces. We fondle them, speak to them, hear them whisper back: where each formed, what it rubbed against, where some day it longs to go. Go? Nothing remains that doesn't metamorphose. These poems, gneiss heavy, so long pressed in, aspire like restless swallows for air, would taste sky fire before they melt into lava once more. Who else can speak them aloud to the atmosphere? Who else will crush them free, blowing their luminous dust into wind and sun? To articulate is to sacrifice our pretty hoard. To articulate is to surrender, dissolve within another meaning, cyclic, massive, unseen. To articulate is to hope, that at the far edge of the wind a willing ear is waiting, that words by which we chipped the poem free ring true, that its colours will alight in his eyes, rub her palms to caring. This dust translates us, eon by second, beginning to end. And those who ask about value, the meaning a poem conveys? The poem is not a miner's ore car, rattling from shaft to shaft. The poem is the crystal, the mineral -- or it is not. Value is genuine substance, whatever its quantity and grade: to tip a thousand industrial drills, or fire a single ring. Our task is to mine, to raise to the light, lay out. And those poems too ancient, too beautiful, too full of longing, to set free into the air.

Susan Ioannou is a Toronto poet, who also writes literary essays and fiction. Her many books include Coming Home: An Old Love Story (Leaf Press), Looking Through Stone: Poems About The Earth (Your Scrivener Press), and A Magical Clockwork: The Art of Writing the Poem (Wordwrights Canada). 3

The Trillium  –  Issue  1,  Winter  2014

F ROG R IVER – U RSULA V AIRA (excerpts) Notes from an outpost cabin in the northern Rockies VI


Perfectly still, river becomes mountain becomes cloud.

A gunshot. Someone has killed that which he desires.

Canoe becomes bird, the hollow bone.

Downstream, a grizzly stands up to taste the air.

I am afraid to look down— vertigo and the belly’s lurch

Love is so dangerous: the bared throat.

I remember your cheek against mine, a held breath.

A mouse runs like hell along shore. Be careful! I want to call out.

Have I mentioned I could fall?

Someone has flagged the trail. Lucky for me.

Ursula Vaira grew up in northern British Columbia, and has a passion for the outdoors. Her first collection, And We’ll See What Happens, was published by Caitlin Press in 2011. She is the founder and owner of Leaf Press, publishing poetry online and in chapbook and trade book format since 2000.



At forty, I am thinking these things:

The slaves have entered

I must rearrange this room… Shift the bed to the other side, I have slept on that side far too long. Shift the settee to the window, I have faced that wall too long. There is no window… I must build a window. So that I can look out At that tree…at that tree


the sulfurous doom whipping the master as you would a stupid mule.

and we stand in the market

That only I can see.

and bray.

Rudyard Fearon is the author of four collections of poetry: Free Soil, Spin, Noise in my Mind, and Lost Tongues. He is currently featured in the television series Heart of Poet, and his work is being archived by the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library.

Born and raised in Northern Ontario, David Groulx is proud of his Aboriginal heritage, which features prominently in his work. He is the author of six books of poetry, and his work has appeared in over 160 publications in 16 countries.

The Trillium  –  Issue  1,  Winter  2014



Then who can sight the shadows on the wind, or hear a single note sung by a stone?

We were always one. There was only One; there never was anyone else.

Within a calm, feel how the evening light sighs to diminish. Sense the pain of dawn… Think the chaotic torment with which clouds assemble, swell, disperse. Project the grief in vanished language, in bulldozed belief. Ask dying fish what difference: fire and mud. Tread far enough apart from fear’s refrain to match the pace a forest would have strode into a meadow, had it not been paved. Ask through the unlit chambers down your brain. Ask the last frog, last bird in a species whether your fouling nest might yet be saved. Allan Briesmaster is a freelance editor, micropublisher, and one of the founding partners of Quattro Books. He has been actively involved in the Toronto literary scene for many years. The most recent of his six full-length books of poetry is Against the Flight of Spring (2013).

HEARING SILENCE – MONICA GRAHAM The nightingale sings a song for free a symphony hypnotizing and toxic. With open ears it fades, and you’re gone. Taking the sweet sound as you go. But onwards is the only place to go,

But to make the sport more scary we played at the game of adversary and hid ourselves in mysteries swathed in our separate histories and dreamed of finding One. But it was always One. One hung upon the cross, One sat beneath the Bodhi tree and One was good and One was bad and One was all there’ll ever be, shaman and cynic, sinner and saint. Behind the mask, beneath the paint, beyond the blade of arbitrary time, there has been One, integral and sublime being whatever, however, whoever it chose to be, being you, being me, being itself in myriad manifestation. And, not to spoil the game, but just to have a moment’s celebration, let’s recollect with love and jubilation, that we are One.

uncovering great pleasure in the growing silence. Monica Graham is a student living in Sudbury, Ontario. She is an avid reader and writer, and a frequent volunteer in the healthcare field. She aspires to further her knowledge of literature and medicine through postsecondary education.

Linda Statt’s mother read poetry when she was in the womb and she emerged, she was told, crying in iambic pentameter. She lived for many years in Thunder Bay, where she began the process of what Carl Sagan described as “matter coming to consciousness”.


The Trillium  –  Issue  1,  Winter  2014

GRANVILLE ISLAND REFLECTION – BEN NUTTALL-SMITH Guitar picker crooning while two deaf-mutes sign so loud I can’t hear the words he’s sobbing into the microphone under the red awning on a lazy Granville Island summer afternoon Tiny tot tied to his nanny by a loving eye teases pigeons while midday shoppers hunt for parking spots and long-haired daddy in sandals and shorts dripping ice cream cone in one hand, pushes a stroller with the other. Give the man a Loonie for the song, for his sorrow, to assuage the loneliness. President of the Federation of BC Writers and a member of the Writer’s Union of Canada, novelist and poet Ben Nuttall-Smith writes about people as he explores exotic lands. His latest two books of poetry have just been published by Silver Bow Publishing of New Westminster.

“It’s a discovery of a story when I write a book, a case of inching ahead on each page and discovering what’s beyond in the darkness, beyond where you’re writing.” - Michael Ondaatje THE SEDUCTION – KAREN CALAIEZZI Shiny, bright and polished to perfection, the romance of the trumpet is divulged, it’s melody sweet, flowing through the air, melting its audience bit by bit, starting with the heartstrings, then slowly working its way down, through the entire body, filtering it into a pool of cool, purifying and detoxing, transforming and inspiring, taking my breath away, seduced by the trumpet player, in this great love affair with his instrument. Karen Calaiezzi was born in 1960 in Cochrane, Ontario. She has published several poems in Toronto’s “Outreach” newspaper and The Positive Thinker’s online newsletter. She was also a featured poet in the first issue of an online journal with the Ambassador Poetry Project, and has three published chapbooks. Interested in submitting your work to The Trillium? We accept poems, short stories, flash fiction, essays, and book reviews on a rolling basis. Visit our site,, for more information. 6

The Trillium, Issue #1