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Fiction

Editor’s Note,

“Love in the Mist” by Tanya Perkins “Resurrection” by John Bernard Bourne “Word Pictures from a Lifetime” by Peter Andrew Smith “Jeremiah” by Ben Gehrels Well, the website has been “Surviving the Fall” by Jody Watson Poetry

“My Pining Muse” by Mary Ann Lamy “African Triangle” by Holli Holdsworth “This Place” by James Goldie “On the Beach” by Rosalind McMurray “Say a Prayer for the Dead” by Teilo Moore “The Question” and “The Truth” by Miriam H. Harrison “Down There” by Sonia Saikaley “Through the Rain” by Paige Cerulli “Urban Lights” by Leslie Ken Chu “I am Becoming” by Clohë MacDonald “A Prayer for Those in Need” by Kyra Harris

Photography Thomas Huston Frances Tibollo Ben Gehrels Reuben Geistefer

built and uploaded, people have submitted from all across Canada and the world (Ghana, Japan, B.C., Washington, Nova Scotia, etc.), edits have happened slowly but surely, and here we are at the premier edition of The Writer’s Block! I extend my heartfelt thanks to all those writers, artists, and photographers who took a chance and submitted their work to the project, and I look forward to reading many more fantastic submissions in the years and issues ahead! Bon Appetit, Ben Gehrels Editor The Writer’s Block

Photo Credit: Ben Gehrels

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My Pining Muse By Mary Anne Lamy

after eons of dry prose countless pages of real my pining muse despaired & left packing her bags for Willen trudging down dusty lanes there to find some younger taut writhing panting poet baring her soul for art

African Triangle By Holli Holdsworth

Cry to the red red blood soil boy In the torn white t-shirt Straddling the ever-widening Evolutionary GAP of Africa With a wide white grin and Dusty fingers sliced Through with the rabid juice Of sloppy yellow mango flesh. His great white hope is not spelled UN On the side of the great white monster speeding by Spitting lumps of gutter mud at him Off on its way to dine wine meet greet retreat Resolutions afar like rice among maggots Fed to agencies without arms Spread over tin ghettos like rust -3-

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Photo Credit: Thomas Huston

Love in the Mist By Tanya Perkins

Among buckets of tuberose, Lily of the Nile and fragrant limonium, Ned Wieborn dreamed of love. You'd never guess, looking at him. Nigella was his favorite--purple, triangulated petals and fragile stem, cobwebby leaflets and common (heartbreaking, heart-waking) name. He muttered it to himself when the shop was empty: Love in the Mist. Ned had an assistant who was twenty-five years old, less than half his age. Maryanne worked mornings, wore tank tops and sparkly blue eyeliner. That wasn't why Ned kept an eye on her. Maryanne had a free hand with the baby's breath; her arrangements had that snow globe feel. She'd also been known to throw in extra alstroemeria when the bouquet description specifically said three, and to chuck perfectly good roses whose outer petals only needed a trim. "Use the snips," Ned told her, again, after rescuing yellow sweethearts from the bin. The snips were actually nose hair clippers but he thought that sounded vulgar. They were perfect for trimming off curling petals. He could get an extra three, sometimes four days out of a rose. Not that he was cheap, not exactly. Ned liked things to look just so. For example, he combed the sides of his hair up and over to hide his baldness. Everyday he repositioned the buckets of flowers in the shop so that the brightest, most eye catching were in front. And he wore a boutonnière every day-sometimes a daisy, sometimes a rosebud, but always fresh. -4-

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The best thing about Maryanne was that she never said a word at Ned hiding in the walk-in cooler, which was what he did when Lucansia Canna came in to the store. Every Monday morning Lucansia picked up an arrangement of cut flowers for the reception area at James, James and Woods, where she worked as a secretary. Ned had never spoken to her--he only knew her name from her signature on the credit card receipt. “We deliver, you know,” Maryanne said once to Lucansia. “Free of charge within three blocks.” And Ned wrung stiff hands from inside the cooler, watching through the fogged glass. But Lucansia Canna liked picking up the flowers and carrying them the two blocks to the law firm. “I feel like a bride,” she said. “It cheers people up, too, seeing the flowers on the street.” Lucansia was short and stout, with hair like a thick grey curtain, parted in the middle and her eyes a melting black. She had burned her bra in the sixties and hadn’t looked back, so that now her breasts were as much a softened memory of sex as the loose skin of her upper arms and her dimply, laundry-bag rump. She wore Indian prints and fat turquoise rings and her neck was strung with loops of silver. But her smile was that of a thousand ecstatic angels--which was what Ned Wieborn saw, shivering behind the buckets of fragile Cattleya orchids and red, red roses. He saw love in the mist. Of course, he would never speak to her. The thought made his heart pound and his hands rattle like old gourds. She was so chipper, so perfect and brilliantly colored. His nerve would fail. She would despise him. Each Monday morning, Maryanne waited on Lucansia while Ned watched her with lovesick eyes, with a passion that he couldn't act on, with goosebumps that only got larger as his love grew. He even named a bouquet after her--“The Lucansia,” composed of pink roses, pink gerberas, blue Love in the Mist, variegated freesia and tuberose, for fragrance. He didn’t tell Maryanne the new bouquet’s name; on the whiteboard he wrote it as “T.L.--Small $35, Large $55.” “To Last,” he told Maryanne. “It’s for the customer that values longevity. Or "Top Luck," which is what it'll bring the customer that buys it. Tell anybody who asks that's what it is.” Silently, he called it “True Love.” At lunchtime, if the weather was nice, Ned sat outside on a bench across the street from the shop and ate a bologna sandwich and drank cold tea from a mason jar. He watched couples go by hand in hand and wondered what kind of spell it took. If the weather was bad, he ate his sandwich in the shop’s workroom. One day, however, he opened up his lunchbox to find that the jar lid had come loose and drenched his sandwich in tea. “Lemme run out to Luddy’s and get you a nice corned beef,” offered Maryanne. “I’ll walk,” Ned said. “Get some sun, seeing how it's so fine." Luddy's was packed. When had it got so popular? He squeezed his way in and stood with his back pressed to the door, trying to decide whether Luddy's famous Reuben--a baseball mitt-sized mound of shaved pastrami and kraut clutched between caraway seed-studded rye--was worth the wait. Or the crowd. There were few moments of pure perfection in life, but Luddy's Reuben came close. And then a strange thought came to him, a new thought, borne upon a waft of savory smells--of how tragic was an agile imagination. No matter how wonderful something was, he, Ned Wieborn, could always imagine something better. For surely his memory of Luddy's Reuben, heightened in the photoshop of his mind, couldn't help but create an unattainable expectation, making disappointment inevitable. Luddy, for all his magic, would never make a Reuben good enough to beat the one Ned remembered. In his musings, he found himself at the counter and ordered. When his sandwich arrived, he saw to his dismay that all the seats in the tiny shop were taken. Except one. In the far corner, there

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was an empty chair across from where Lucansia Canna sat, clad in a flowing pink batik, eating minestrone soup. For a moment, Ned thought to flee. But the ridiculousness of it--What? A grey-haired man in his sixties, scuttling away, clutching a Reuben with extra kraut to his chest?--stopped him. He swallowed and approached her table. "Er--may I sit?" He said, adding hastily, "It's just there's nowhere else..." Lucansia glanced up briefly and nodded. Of course, she didn't recognize him. She'd never actually seen his face, only a shivery form lurking behind misty branches of mock orange. Besides, she was engrossed in her soup and a paperback held open by the weight of the metal napkin dispenser, oblivious to his flickering eyes. He ate the Reuben gazing at the checkered floor, feeling wretchedly like a peeping tom. In the bright and close proximity of Luddy's, Lucansia shone like a great Buddha, magnified a thousand times. Against his will, his eyes crept to her face, where her eyebrows were a chaos of black fibers. Her cheeks bore a fretwork of blood vessels and tiny blackheads that blossomed like a bouquet of dark Craspedia in the crevices of her nose. One strand of grey hair dragged through her soup, but she ate steadily, like a famished steer, and when she exhaled through her nose, the paper upon which Ned's sandwich rested fluttered excitedly. She leaned toward her soup, her neckline gaping, and he glimpsed puckered, shifting flesh. A strange feeling welled up inside him, not unlike the time he had opened a shipment of purple irises, only to find them crawling with mealybugs. Panicked, he left the restaurant. He had no memory of the Reuben. The next Monday, when Lucansia Canna came in for the law firm bouquet, Ned Wieborn was behind the counter. Rain fell steadily; he'd had to move some of the buckets of cut flowers under the awning and now his shirt clung damply to his back. He felt fine, no nerves. It was as if he had paid a fine and was given the all-clear. "Where's that nice young lady?" Lucansia asked. She wore a red raincoat and broad-rimmed hat and looked for all the world like a Red Delicious. "Cleaning out the cooler," Ned said. He brought out the bouquet--orange tulips and green bells of Ireland. "She's my employee, not my daughter or my girlfriend, in case you're wondering. Or my wife." "Thanks for clearing that up," Lucansia said, and laughed a little. A spot of color appeared in each round cheek. "Well, maybe I'll get something different for next week's arrangement. What's that on the board, the "T.L."? That sounds nice. I love pink roses--oh, and it has gerbera daisies too!" "It hasn't been a big seller," Ned said, wrapping tissue paper around the flowers. "I can't recommend it." "Oh," she said, disappointed. "Well, what does that mean, T.L.?" "True Love," he replied gravely. "Or Too Late. I can't decide which."

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Photo Credit: Reuben Geistefer

This Place By James Goldie All I know is this place where seagulls swoon like dying kites this place, where you cry bummed-out moon hanging low in the sky and me, too scared to put my arm around you scared of what I might say what I might do scared you’ll crumple like paper broken glass setting you on fire sewage plant, fenced in barbed wire mist rising from fecal waters toxic ghosts on the mire you call me a liar -7-

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—issue but when your tears have dried I take you inside green warehouse by the tracks filled with smashed wooden crates and immortal pigeons kiss me and catch your breath aerial tower, behind the old station, winks at God and the houses on the ridge girder frame of the train bridge cages the night holding suicide spirits with dark shapes, uncertainty will there be a nuclear war will it wipe out this town long before we have a chance to see the coast walk the tide, sleep on the shore there has to be more than your unending unhappiness and my weak, coward arms arthritic air, bird shit and death kiss me here and catch your breath

On the Beach By Rosalind McMurray

Sitting at the edge of the water smiling at the wavelets tapping my toes saying hello!hello!

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Photo Credit: Frances Tibollo

Word Pictures from a Lifetime By Peter Andrew Smith “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said searching his face for a response. Her eyes were the colour of the new growth breaking forth around them. He stumbled out a compliment about how appropriate her sandals were for walking in the grass and then began to awkwardly apologize for being forward. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said inviting him to join her. Her eyes shone in the candlelight as they made their vows. Even in the dim of the chapel their green was bright with life and promise. His heart filled with a joy and anticipation that made him feel completely alive. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said gently touching her lips to his. Her eyes were dull and tired as she held out the newborn to him. He carefully took their daughter from her arms and grinned widely as familiar green eyes stared back at him with curiosity. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said the hint of a smile framing her peaceful face. -9-

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He held one of her hands gently. Their daughter sat on the side of the bed clinging to the other. In the silence, he struggled to hang on to all the memories of her that made him complete. Tears poured down his face when she spoke her last words and her ragged breathing finally stopped. He pushed past his grief to kiss her goodbye and to say what had always been in his heart. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Say a Prayer for the Dead By Teilo Moore

And the grim master Death Invites them to dance He wants them to hold hands And dance in a long line And the grim master leads With scythe and hourglass. The Bearing of the Casket Wooden Casket! Home of mine forever, home in dark, home in clammy earth, where I must rest with eyes shut and peacefully smile. My goodbyes said and done, done for only the living can speak. Their voices echoing in my envious ears long after they cease. Silence lies heavily upon my mind and drags me down until I wish that I could cry. This wooden casket, home of mine forever, nail it shut. Let me go where no man dwells and memory can fade. Let me forget the sky, the sun, the stars, the moon, and love. What is there left for me in death? I have nothing, but to cling to memory and pain. The Processional Hymn Will you come and follow me, When I but call your name? - 10 -

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—issue Will you come and follow me, And never be the same? Will you come and follow me, In sunshine or in rain? Will you come and follow me, Though it may cause pain? Will you leave your life behind? Will you dance along in time? Will you come and follow me, And never place the blame? When you come to follow me, And are bereft of sight When you come to follow me, And are stripped of might When you come to follow me, And to leave your life When you come to follow me, Are you torn by strife? Will you leave your life behind? Will you dance along in time? Will you come and follow me, When I but call your name?

The Reading a reading from the gospels of our lord savior jesus christ 32then at evening when the doors were shut where the disciples were gathered together came jesus 33and he stood among them my father’s peace be with you he said and the disciples fell to their knees and was shown unto them his hands and his side and then were the disciples made glad 34peace be unto you he said as i was sent

forth by my father so too do i send you forth but thomas one of the twelve was not among them 35and upon his return he declared except shall i see in his hands the prints of nails and until i thrust my hand into his side i will not believe 36 eight days hence when the disciples were once more gathered behind shut doors and thomas was with them came jesus 37run your fingers over my hands - 11 -

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thrust forth your hand into my side and thomas saw and fell to his knees 38 thomas you have seen and believed but blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed the word of the lord thanks be to god


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Photo Credit: Ben Gehrels

The Sermon I always agreed with Thomas. All I want is that gust of wind to come and clear my vision so I can see. Aren’t I allowed knowledge instead of faith? We have just heard a story of faith, or rather, lack of it. Why? Am I trying to tell you that you all need a firmer belief even without knowing it to be true? “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.” What’s so blessed about that? What’s so incredible about standing on a mountaintop, surrounded by clouds, and believing there’s an amazing view out there, just waiting for you to see it? All you need is that gust of wind. So why? Well here’s another question for you: “Why shouldn’t you just jump off that mountaintop? Just decide to make a leap of faith, to fall down and down through layers of mist, and believe there’s a mound of goose feather pillows right below you that’ll break your fall. Why not jump?” I think most of you would ask, “Who’s crazy enough to be piling goose feather pillows at the bottom of a mountain?” But what if you’ve been pushed? A little girl once asked me, “Father, what if the world is inside the stomach of a giant?” And I had to stop and wonder . . . What does one say to that? I could say, “Don’t be silly, Anna, you know the 12

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—issue one— world’s not inside some giant’s stomach,” but what if it is? What if the rain is just the giant drinking some water to wash down a meal? I could say, “Does it matter, Anna? Would it make a difference to you if we were all inside a giant’s stomach?” but I don’t think she’d really like that. It seems like too much of an excuse for not answering the question. I could say, “Anna, you know scientists have proven that we’re not in a giant’s stomach. They’ve sent probes far out into space, to other planets,” but then where does that leave me with my faith? If science is the only description of our world, then how can I believe? Maybe all we need is a gust of wind . . . The Wife’s Lament no you can’t be gone you’re not allowed to you were never this cruel before

Smile But not too happy

why do you hurt me now don’t be gone don’t be dead

Don’t let your eyes tighten so much If you cry now . . .

I could weep for hours all you do is lie there with that small smile on your face you never smiled like that before

Don’t look them in the eye This isn’t Fair! Calm down Not yet Not until you’re alone

it isn’t fair that man should be dead not you you should be here at my side weeping and he should be the one smiling I wish you knew what this feels like

Look them in the eye Smile Be Brave

then maybe I wouldn’t be so alone is this what I want for the last of our memories I’ll never remember you this way so this can’t be goodbye I won’t allow it

no, it can’t be this You’re ok You can deal with it

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I love you it isn’t fair Deal with it this is not goodbye Smile

The Murmuring of Trees in a Moment of Silence dark, dank, shadowy boughs rustling in the wind talk of leaves and dying trees decay of corpse and earth deep in darkness, enveloped blanket made swaddling wrapped round and round and tight closes inward gasp for air here among the trees here among the leaves here among the mud and moss and roots close dark and moisture here amidst the dank smell of evergreen’s decay and shadows sway - black on black on worms squirming, beetles scuttling slithering the ground squelch boots dragging down under ground the following: dead food dragged down and down and down and down to the bowels of the earth slithering through excrement and mud when dragged up again between rock and dirt ‘tween leaf and worm and root moist embrace of earth decaying death’s festivities stirred-up stale scents and bones dragged into the shadows disappeared in darkness dead needles fallen trees shiver and quake their branches speaking, each to each, shiver, they groan and split: yawn snap creak then rustle, whispering leaves sigh 14

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pattering of little footsteps falling sliding slithering splashing exploding watery muck shattering spreading sheeting ground down to mulch and mud all overhead the pounding of their little feet echos in my head stale air stinks of mold and rotten flowers left too long in stagnant water slowly filling space decay of death alone stay here ground

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The Communion We gather together. We of one body. Together. Here. Kneeling before you. Supplication from your hands. Deliver us. Bread baked before rising I am innocent of this man’s blood Broken. I wash my hands of it When was it torn to pieces? During, or after The words were spoken And food was shared to remember freedom The sustenance for the promised land For ancestry. Their dead. When is it torn to pieces? During, or after The words are spoken In the weekly remembrance of a death The sustenance for the promised land For ancestry. The dead. Is it in this that 15

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—issue We, being many, are one body Take. Eat. This is my body, given for you. Where was it given? Imagine the pain horror on a hilltop to turn your head to your hands your wrists bound and to see a hammer and then the blood and your body’s weight supported upon the very pain that kills you Perhaps it was as the sledgehammer bore down upon the legs and snapped them that bits of flesh flew off and into the disciples’ hands. Or maybe it was the crown of thorns that tore at the face and hair to fling down the body into their waiting hands. Is that my ancestry? Is that what I eat? Perhaps this piece here is an arm, or a finger Have we ravaged the body? and is it a pile of severed limbs? and do I plunge my hands into it to gorge on the flesh?

Take. Drink. This is my blood. Shed for the forgiveness of sins. Innocent? Aren’t I killing him still? As I pour his blood down my throat Aren’t I standing beneath his corpse with my mouth held open to catch the drops of blood as they trickle down and out of his wounds? Mad isn’t it? He dies, I kill him, His blood flows in my veins And his body becomes one with mine. So do I die with him? Each of us crossing the threshold of death . . . 16

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—issue Do this in remembrance of me.

Your breathing becomes erratic In. Out. In. In. In. Your legs give out. Bones to dust and ash as you fall face first to the ground. Your flesh torn away bit by bit by bit What’s left of you sink down and down and down.

A sob.

Do this in remembrance of me. The Discussions of the Dead I hear their tears: darkened noise of quiet sobbing and the dirt and the mud days, always, of cold rain and soft ground tulips lying long forgotten fertilizer over so much our slumbering beneath the earth moist and wet and seeping within under stone and water and muck left to drown choke from lack of air and we slowly die I hear no slowly decay I see no slowly rot I speak no slowly forget I do no Slowly we are forgotten Never let me go My children never knew me Never into that darkness and sleep She comes with roses, sometimes, and leaves them above my head I am frightened It’s always the smell that wakes me drifting down and down and down I will miss and be missed I am young yet! into what used to be my nostrils so many memories left to create so much left to live 17

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Searing pain wracks me still but I am dead. Bone-splitting, earth-shattering, to remind me of springtime and beginnings explosion, its fire liquid agony It was her scent and I remember My flesh gone with my last memory but I am dead. I never saw it coming. charred bones placed in the ground Sleeping I died covered, but all my remains An instant of pain the bullet entered my brain Dead of night and calm I sighed and breathed my last My body once one piece and whole and I fell to the ground. At first I longed for vengeance No flowers, though I left them, but I am dead. and after years have past my family gone before me a part of me still does but I am dead. and I follow after Their memory spinning round my skull but I am dead. All our bodies: food for worms our markers broken and unread slumbering beneath the earth we are left only our voiceless mutters. We are the Dead The Dismissal Now go forth into the world After all you have seen Go forth. After all you have seen Have faith After all you have seen Live Laugh Love 18

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After all you have seen here And throughout the years of your lives Remember To love and to serve the Lord. The Recessional Hymn What of the seeds sewn in your life? For what have your memories achieved? Cut down by death’s harvesting scythe This will we all have received. Dark blanket, black hole, your palace Crowned kings and peasants and worms Where eyeless sockets glare malice That cold, wet earth affirms Now rot and decay will render Underground, all one and the same Regardless of tombs of splendour All which has hidden your shame. Slowly, slowly and years to go Squirming to the carrion call: Our bodies through their stomachs slow For worms are the masters of all. Dark blanket, black hole, your palace Crowned kings and peasants and worms Where eyeless sockets glare malice That cold, wet earth affirms. Say goodbye, goodbye to this world From which you are faithfully led All your rage is futilely hurled, So let’s say a prayer for the dead. The Covering of the Casket Wooden Casket! Home of mine forever, have done. Lay oaken bones to rest under green fields to sleep, sleep long and peaceful. Who can sleep? My ears will be filled with worms and the clatter of unheard, unseen memories. Worms sifting through my mind for I am dead. Buried beneath 19

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black earth and all my eyes can see is dark until they rot. My body naught but fertilizer under ground and grass and trees. This wooden casket, home of mine forever, cover it with dirt, oh, let me sleep! Leave me in peace to rage against the unfairness of the world, that I should die. They move away, Away from the dawn In a solemn dance Away to the dark country Whilst the rain Washes over their faces Cleans their cheeks of tears of salt.

Photo Credit: Ben Gehrels

Resurrection By John Bernard Bourne

It’s April, and the last of them have arrived, in memory, spirit and otherwise. Curses, and things left unsaid, undone. We will never see 1994 again, and all other years will never seem quite the same. There are some moments I keep to myself, flashes and stream of consciousness that creep up on me unsuspecting to both haunt and soothe. If ever there was a time to withdraw, this is it. They should have laid you out in Exhibition Stadium, but nobody else shared that connection with you. It would have been a private service, just you and I, somewhere that only we had. Another time, another place, this will all make sense. It 20

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will eventually mean something profound, something to base my whole philosophical outlook on life. I carved messages on your stone. I made a promise to never look back, to never come back. I even thought of not coming today, to make some grandiose statement and imply that I am better than all of this, that I have something else that is superior and that I would not share it with anyone. But nobody asked or demanded. They let me have it. *

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Somebody explained the resurrection to me. Not in a linear, narrative way that almost seems secular. And not in a religious way, which would have made me reject it outright. It was something else… I have never taken the train on such a seemingly long journey. Into the darkness of Northern Ontario and beyond, I would have felt more secure travelling in spurts during the day. My thoughts and visions would have been different. Conversations float through me as I participate, like an out of body experience. I play the part, react in the appropriate ways and laugh at the appropriate times. But I look for signs of life. Not a light, nor the abrasiveness of a town. I look for silhouettes, a movement in the darkness. This morning, just as dawn was creeping up, we rode along the edges of a small lake, a small community hovering to its edge in the distance. Ice still stubbornly clung to the edges and I imagined what it looked like in the winter. I have been riding with a man who works for the railway. He is on his way to his posting in the bush, on the lookout and the ready for any trouble with the lines. Three months on, three months off, alone in the wilderness unless something tragic happens. Free food, place to stay – just be ready. Ready for change or the inevitable passage of time. Next stop is his. *

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Stones and stigmata Upturned, moved, revealing the myth Shrouded in infamy Walking… As I press my fingers into the holes Revealing oaths and blood. *

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Winnipeg in the springtime, caught between loss and pilgrimage - somewhere in climate purgatory. Trying to cross over. The image of Portage and Main levels me like a song by Randy Bachman, incident to the tangible. I touch the concrete and renew my sense of discovery, boyhood fantasy converging into reality and experience. This is what emancipation feels like. *

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Snow in April. I woke this morning, completely oblivious to the fate nature (and you) had brought me. What was the message? You closed down the city, closed the schools, 21

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wreaked havoc in the countryside, just to show me that you hadn’t forgotten. Something to keep me off-balance, always guessing. Asia saw it for the first time, a foreign anomaly forging part of his culture and heritage. When I woke him up, I said “you have to see this. You’ll never see anything like this again.” Snow in April. It’s both a celebration and a dirge. Absurd, but not so debilitating and surreal to suggest apocalypse or reckoning. But did it have to be a storm? A freak snow squall is to be expected, but this? Until next time… *

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The bushes have been dug up, stones (white) arranged in the shape of a heart. You can read the names and dates now, solar lamps (disguised as rocks) rescue it from being nocturnal. Shin and Asia stood by the slate, running their tiny fingers along the engravings. We cleared leaves away and counted the flowers out (just to be fair). Grandma had talked earlier about an apparition, something she mostly hears in the night. It’s you, and I think she wants to tell me something about it, but she is being cryptic. She looks so fragile, and her house has grown so small. *

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It’s tomorrow already, and don’t think that I have forgotten. The images you gave me – you and your father in the boat, on the river – have not been lost. There were moments that I keep tucked away, ones that I still keep to myself. Things you wanted only for me. Pick me up. I’m picking you up now, and carrying you upstairs, where Shin and Asia wait for stories and memories.

Photo Credit: Ben Gehrels

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The Question

The Truth

the question is not why I sing but how after silent silencing silence I remember the words at all

I’ll tell two truths and a lie: I’m a liar I’m a liar

By Miriam H. Harrison

By Miriam H. Harrison

Down There By Sonia Saikaley

Hands grip metal edges naked under the hospital gown she lies on the examining table paper sheet crumples as legs spread. She stares at the ceiling photographs of a tropical vacation palm trees, seashells uncovered in white sands. She closes her eyes remembers her childhood home: the sea, mountains, goats, dusty roads and fields. 23

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—issue She used to be a village girl roaming the countryside resisting dark-haired Samir, her beloved in sheds, olive groves, riverbeds his desire throbbing against her thighs. Don’t let anyone but your future husband touch you down there, her Babba warned.

The cold steel of the speculum slowly enters her. She winces, clenches her jaw, sees Samir’s bright face in the pictures on the ceiling, his hands pushing up her skirt. Now she lies still until the doctor asks her to open her legs wider.

Photo Credit: Frances Tibollo

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Jeremiah By Ben Gehrels And her kissing my neck all wet. Handing herself over to me gift wrapped in nothing. Nude and needy. No. No. No. Too risky for her. Even with all the modern contras and mantras. Always happens to someone else until it happens to you. Standing up, leaving her unopened for her own good. The one percent demon. Living proof: yours truly. Eighteenth birthday. Mother chain-smoking behind the screen door. Changed the locks, Jerry. You don’t live here no more. You’re a man now. Drag after drag. Red eye winking in the darkness. You fucked up my life, Jerry. Don’t you ever come back. Street wandering demon now. Filthy mistake. Life-long penance eating out of trash bins. Confined by choice to the pavement tundra. Limping through the rain. Keep the children indoors, here comes Jeremiah. One day through the grapevine: kicked the bucket. Better off without her. Damned anyway. Blood runs thicker than water. Brodie St. bells calling for my head every Sunday. Ding dong the witch is dead. Now off with his head. St. Andrew’s. Two natives minding the steps playing hot potato. Brown paper bag. Couple stones wetting their gullets. Fee fie fo fum I smell the flask of a red injun. H’llo chaps, lend a drink? Not to whites we don’t. Face smashed in. Broken glass. Dumped in the Kam River overnight. Dead on the Lam in the Damn Kam: Chronicle Journal, front page. Cop chewing a cig poke-prodding with a stick. Shoulda kept his mouth shut. Partner nods, mumbles gravely into his walkie. Keep the children indoors, here comes Jeremiah. Keep walking. Eyes downcast. Smile and they think you’re up to something. Frown too deep and you’re scowling. Only fists mean something. Only stones survive. Young ones walking about jerking off ‘I’ ‘I’ ‘I’. What, old man? Wanna piece of me? Wanna peace of mind, more like. Gotta learn respect out here. No cutting the line for soup and don’t beat up on the elderly. Find it funny, they do. Got yer cane! Got yer cane! Watcha gonna do, gum me? Stuff them vitamins down me throat? Fucking kids. Close your lips in a hurry if you’d seen what I’ve seen. Done what I’ve done. To wear my shoes for a day you’d have to go barefoot. Calluses come with time. Within and without. Always walking but never going anywhere. Just limping circles through the rain.

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Photo Credit: Ben Gehrels

Through the Rain By Paige Cerulli Wet shoes against wetter sidewalk, he ambles into oblivion, Into what has become the rest of his life – This world of subway trains and angry taxis, Uncaring cold and overcast skies. The air is never tasteless and his eyes are never clear, But this is what he knows- this is what he is. The sidewalk vendors know him by name, 26

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With their pizza, pretzels, and knock-off purses. Head down, gaze in the gutters he wanders Past newspaper stands, carriages pulled by unfairly-thin horses. He no longer reacts to sirens, alarms, insults flung from fourth floor balconies, Or to the Styrofoam cups of coins shaking in the hands of the homeless. He steps around candy bar wrappers, Neon flyers pulled down from their stoplight posts, Newspapers tossed aside, wet and soggy, Their pulp-like mess sad confetti on the streets. He’s taken to window shopping to pass the time, Pill-popping to make it a little easier, Not caring to make him a little stronger. He can’t remember the last time the streets were dry, The gutters not flooded, When last he saw the sun.

Urban Lights By Leslie Ken Chu I want to go where it smells like cigarettes all the time Where manhole covers aren't always where they should be found And the air is as stale as the dirt that once caked our palms Where the city lights shine brighter than our self-conceptions And exhaust fumes rise from motorcades of thousands Where coffee shop regulars look for the next big idea And late-night diner-dwellers stub out cigarettes on cracked pavement Singles flats with guests who spend the night Mass transits to next exits, and then they're gone The scenesters The hanger-ons The dead-beats And the vagabonds The people who populate and their stories as rich As the soil that once laid beneath eroded foundations Just waiting to be uncovered The staples of city clockwork And the people who run them Those are the things I want to know, if only for a moment To make their fleeting acquaintances Ones to be remembered

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Photo Credit: Ben Gehrels

Surviving the Fall By Jody Watson The day that Myacus fell was a beautiful summer afternoon. Whether July or August, it was a day I’d rather forget, but I am forced to remember what it taught me and the fact that change happens... In the summer of 2003 I left the women’s shelter, having lost everything. My dignity had been stripped from me like the experience of my first pap test, and it was as though the essence of whom I was before the test was gone forever. I re-experienced that feeling of loss at the shelter. When people descend to the shelter system they often fall straight through it, missing the lessons of trust that it contains. Peak experiences aren’t necessarily good ones, because often they are the point in life when sadness overcomes you, and you begin to believe that you will not survive. But you do. I did. I was standing at the sink in the “un-kitchen” of my new residence (“open concept,” is what the people on the other side of the river call it) with what remained of my stuff piled and heaped all around me. I had just happily reunited myself with my make-shift family: my cats, Myacus and Korn, when I turned around and saw Korn sitting in the open doorway leading out to the balcony. He looked up at me with a sort of sad warning in his eyes, and I knew immediately that something had gone terribly wrong. If he could have talked, he would have 28

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screamed. The sound was like deafening silence. I knew in an instant—call it pet owner intuition—that Myacus had fallen. [As I write this, hands squeeze around my throat and fire burns in my belly. I don’t want to feel this pain again, but I know I have to. I know that the tears will come, the anger will seethe, and I will want to run. But instead I will write.] I looked frantically over the rail, and the first thing I saw was his eyes looking up at me, even before I noticed the twisted shape of his body. I don’t remember running down the five flights of stairs, but when I picked him up, I could sense his feeling of relief. He didn’t cry or make a sound; he just lost control of his bladder. I assumed his life would soon be over, but I carried him back to my apartment anyway, some maternal part of me instinctively taking the stairs knowing that the elevator would scare him. After making Myacus comfortable, I called Animal Alert for help. “Cats aren’t born with depth perception,” said the lady on the other end. “They only see the bird and don’t realize the drop. They just don’t get it.” I needed to clear my head, so I went for a walk. The saving grace to my new home was that it came with the most incredible view: right across from Gibbons Park was The Grosvenor, a luxury high rise where they pay a fair price for that view. As I walked through the park along the river, I was aware of the sun’s warmth on my face. Was he scared? What was he feeling? The tears came then, as the shock mercifully began to fade. And when the sadness shifted to anger, I knew I was ready to pray. Further down the path I found a bench beside the river. The area was open and there were people around, but I didn’t care: I cried like there was no end. But there was an end, and eventually I stopped crying and began to speak to the Creator. I’ve lost so much, I prayed. I can’t bear to lose Myacus. Please let him live just one more year. I’ll pray for him every day, and I’ll be stronger then. As I prayed, I could slowly feel myself coming back to life within. The sound of the water, the cleanness of the breeze, and the warmth of the sun gently soothed me, and began to fell okay again. The lessons came in dribs and drabs, in ups and downs. I fell my fair share of times that year, and Korn and Myacus were right there with me, but Myacus was never 100% again and neither was I. Eventually his poor little body couldn’t fight anymore, and he died in October, a year from the day he fell. I assumed it was heart failure. Though most lines appear to be straight, I’ve learned that they’re often slightly curved: there are no absolutes. I used to believe in should-have’s and what-if’s, but I’ve come to realize that reality is all about the way you look at it. Now sometimes when I walk along the edge, I understand the importance of looking around myself. The fall may have actually saved my life. Korn and I love to sit on the balcony nowadays, especially on nights when the moon is full. I’ll say, “Korny, look! There’s a bat! Do you think it’s your brother?” And in that moment I feel comforted, knowing Myacus will never fall again. 29

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Photo Credit: Frances Tibollo

I am Becoming By Clohë MacDonald Something about the way the sun shines on the empty lines left on my forearms, outlining the new trails of hair, makes me aware that I am becoming. Every morning I wonder, Where will the newest addition be? slowly designing me all over again, brand new. Blank slate doesn’t describe it. What’s left still lingers and figures it’s way into this ocean of opportunity, full of exploration, rejuvenating, 30

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These winds of change arrange my afternoons talking to myself out loud, realizing I’ve heard this voice before. For a decade; no, more. Rattling in my head, waiting to be lead out through my vocal chords; the first words unsure of themselves. But words are the fruit of the mind, and I am sure these words are mine. It is a gift to be able to share them with you; to be able to fill a room with my views. I am becoming. And I will become until I can find A way to define an end; Or decide not to, Because I could. Hell, I should! Why settle for simplicity when we’re all capable of becoming the change we need to see? Representing the range between you, me and the trees is only fair for what we receive. To live and breathe amoung family is the greatest gift. Be thankful for this. Appreciate the bliss that is new beginnings and waves of possibility. Estranged anonymity is nothing When you can show your face as you age. 31

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A Prayer for Those in Need By Kyra Harris I pray for their healing I pray for the healing of those that are suffering in the depths of marginalization and oppression all over our globe. I pray, Lord, that you will hear my voice And as you hear my voice, that you will raise up theirs You will lift it above the soft mumblings of the street And you will allow the reverb to become like thunder in the sky And you will let everyone see That the blood is on all of our hands, Lord That we are all responsible For abandoning these people, Lord And holding them down With our fine tuned ability to ignore the systems of power That reign over our society And hold these people up in a jail cell And you tell them, Lord You tell all of the Bible-thumpers All of those people that trip over the words written In your holy book night after night Meeting in their Bible study groups In the middle of their suburban homes Well you tell them, Lord That the Bible was just words Passed down like a billion year old game of telephone But that your presence lies around those that are suffering Those that are suffering Not because they don’t have God Not because they don’t know the Bible Not because they choose not to know the Bible But because they don’t have love and support of human kind Because they don’t have acknowledgement Because they don’t have voices Not because they choose not to have voices But because they are on the margins And it’s hard to hear muffled voices from the margins from the middle of your suburban church that’s built conveniently so that no bus routes can take you there. Well that may not be sinning In the words of the Bible, they may not be directly violating 32

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And law or regulation to prescribe them to act or think in a certain way In order to be deemed good Christians They may not be offending you, Lord But they are offending me And I would hope that you would instill in these people The fact that being blinded by the Bible Being blinded by any holy book Does not excuse refusing to see Refusing to see the people that need help in the communities around us And by help, I do not mean inserting Christianity or further crushing the traditions of people all over the world by forcing communion down their throats And by help, I do not mean inserting English into communities so that they can become part of the Western economy and partake in your English church services And by help, I do not mean choosing to give the gift of the Bible, rather then giving the gift of a healthy meal, safe drinking water or an open ear to listen, to just listen. Not to talk anymore Because we white, Christian folks Well we’ve talked a lot We’ve had weapons wielding the word of the Lord For centuries. We white, Christian folks We are weapons of mass destruction Of the mass destruction of languages, cultures, traditions of people all over our globe It’s time for a change, Lord And I would hope that you would instill in these people The fact that being blinded by the Bible Being blinded by any holy book By being so focused on conversion and spreading the truth That they fail to share the love that you blessed each and every one of us with Well it just takes them farther from you, Lord It just takes them farther from you. So firstly I pray I pray for the healing of those that are suffering in the depths of marginalization and oppression all over our globe And secondly, I pray for your people that are not suffering I pray for your people that are too tied up in the word of the Lord That they’ve forgotten about the presence of the Lord Lord I pray that they put down their Bibles And start listening to the stories of people that our culture has destroyed Lord I pray that you let those stories of struggle Become their holy books.

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Photo Credit: Ben Gehrels

Contributors Teilo Moore… is from Woodstock, Ontario. He currently attends Saint Francis Xavier University and is working towards a BA Honours in English. An interest in medieval drama and theological dilemmas drives his poetry. Miriam H. Harrison… is a young writer living in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. A member of both the Sudbury Writers' Guild and The Ontario Poetry Society, her poetry has been accepted for publication in the upcoming anthology, Island Treasures, as well as in The Ontario Poetry Society's tri-annual publication, Verse Afire. James Goldie…is in the third year of his undergrad, currently studying English literature at the University of British Columbia. He is in awe of writers John Darnielle and Shane Koyczan.

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Sonia Saikaley… lives in Ottawa. She has recently returned to Canada after having spent a year in Japan where she worked as an assistant language teacher. Her work has been published in Urban Graffiti, Black Cat 115, Zygote, the anthology Burning Ambitions, FreeFall, Bywords Quarterly Journal, Bywords.ca, Jones Av. and blueskiespoetry.ca. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Reuben Geisterfer… was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. He was abandoned as a small child and reared by a herd of pygmy alpacas that are indigenous to the island of Hispanola. Due to a diet of wild grasses and Alpaca milk he grew exceptionally tall and was referred to by the locals as: “gwo ti blan fou sa ki kouri ak bet nan mon yo” which roughly translates to “the crazy tall little white boy that runs with beasts in the hills.” After being rescued by bandits and finishing high school he moved to Quebec in 2003. Thoroughly disgusted with having to smoke outside (a habit he picked up from the bandits) during the frigid Quebec winters, he built an igloo beside his new home where he nearly smoked himself to death on a blustery February afternoon. After a few years of drifting, he is currently an arts student at St. Francis Xavier University. Reuben enjoys good books, good company, and especially good coffee. He keeps an Alpaca in his closet too. Leslie Chu… is a previously unpublished, third-year art history student at Saint Francis Xavier University. He has been writing for the past year-and-a-half and draws inspiration from lyricists including John Darnielle and Matt Berninger. Leslie is from Antigonish. Peter Andrew Smith… is a fiction writer who lives and works in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He and his wife Meredith share their house with two dogs who demand walks at all times in their lives. His fiction has appeared in such publications as Neo-Opsis, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and The Drabbler. A listing of all his fiction and non-fiction works can be found at www.peterandrewsmith.ca. Holli Holdsworth… was born in Toronto, Ontario Canada, obtained her under graduate degree in African Studies and Sociology at the University of Toronto, and is currently living in Accra Ghana where she works as a regional sales manager in the telecommunications industry. Tanya Perkins… dodges raindrops in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, daughter, dog, cat and two fierce rats. A full-time student at Western Washington University, her poetry, fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Chronogram, Labyrinth, Jeopardy and Whatcom magazines. Ben Gehrels… is currently studying at St. Francis Xavier University towards an HBA in English Literature. He is a fiction reader for the Antigonish Review, and has had his poetry, prose, and photography published in magazines such as Inscribed, The Poet Grow-Op, The Southernmost Review, All Rights Reserved and the Frequent and Vigorous Quarterly. An essay of his was published in Elder and Leemaur's Challenge the Experts, and he has a review of Julia McCarthy's Stormthrower forthcoming in the Antigonish Review. John Bernard Bourne… was born in Toronto and has lived in various places, including the Northwest Territories, South Korea and Holland Landing. He has travelled extensively through North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Beginning his career as a 35

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singer/songwriter, he released The Voice Within in 1993 and After Tournier in 2007. His writings include the chapbook A Season Far Removed (1999) and In Search of Milton Acorn (2000), both published by Windigo Press. He has had non-fiction, poetry and prose appear in various publications around the world, including Macleans ,Stellar Showcase Journal, Big Pond Rumours, Bywords, Ascent Review (Canada), Log in Seoul, The Korea Times (South Korea), Taj Mahal Review (India), Niederngasse (Switzerland), and has appeared in the anthologies Nuit Blanche: Poems for Late Nights (The Royal Sarcophagus Society) and The Monster Book of Canadian Monsters (Colombo and Company, 2004). He currently lives and writes in Brockville, Ontario. He can be reached at johnbernardbourne@yahoo.ca. Mary Anne Lamy…lives and writes in Elkhorn, Manitoba, Canada. A very small prairie town. She has had poems published in Room of One's Own, Briarpatch, Excite. Some of my past activities include writing for the local papers, The Virden Empire Advance and the Brandon Sun. I was co-editor of two anthologies put out by Dennis County Writer's Group and editor of a magazine called Next Year Country, put out by myself and a fellow writer. Frances Alexandria Tibollo… is currently a full time student at St. Francis Xavier in Antigonish, Nova Scotia where she is in her third year of her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Honours Political Science and International Development Studies. She is the Founder and President of the Oaklands Foundation, a not for profit organization concerned with education and development in impoverished nations, and enjoys politics, reading, writing, and singing. Frances holds a second-degree black belt in the martial art of Teakwon-Do, and is fluent in English, Italian, Spanish and French and aspires to study Mandarin. She hopes to encourage other youth to be active and involved members of not only their home communities, but also called to be active members of their global community. Rosalind McMurray…grew up in Guelph Ontario, but her family has a house in Sandy cove (on the Digby neck) in N.S which she has visited every summer since she was 7 months old. She is currently a student at StFX University, although last year she was a student at the University of King's College. Also, her work has never (to her knowledge) been published. Clohë MacDonald…is an 18 year old queer, transsexual writer who would really love to call himself an activist. He is genuinely appreciative of all of the gifts his life has brought him, especially his beautiful view of the ocean from his home in Doctors Brook, Antigonish County. He has always had a deep fascination with words, and their power to share emotion, knowledge, imagery and connect people of all varieties. Thomas Patrick Huston… is a writer, published photographer, musician, and awardwinning filmmaker. His photography has been published in The Potomac Review and After Hours. He currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, and teaches in the education department at IUPUI. His interests include animals, Europe, eschatology, and the photogenic. Jody Watson Paige Cerulli Sonia Saikaley Kyra Harris 36

The Writer’s Block

The Writers Block - Issue #1  

The Writers Block is an online literary magazine that publishes new, forceful writing. Each issue contains a selection of poetry, prose, art...

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