(parenthetical) issue ten november two thousand and fifteen
contents - issue ten Note from the Editors
The Diviners’ Daily Classifieds—Wishes, Wants, and Warts fiction by Natalie Wee The Happiness fiction by Hannah Brown you left a mark on me—dermal poetry by Alabama S. L. Stone a gentle game we play together poetry by DS Maolalai Naked Baby poetry by John Nyman entanglement poetry by katie o’brien In Lieu of Flowers fiction by Paddy Scott The Arsonist poetry by Martina Dominique Dansereau plural: teeth poetry by Kaitlin Tremblay A Delicate Question fiction by Kevin Tosca
Duke by Sara Tilley— reviewed by Nicole Brewer
year two: killin’ it. We’re still another goddamn literary magazine, but now we’re into our second year and still kickin’. It’s been a learning year: from figuring out the best production schedule to uncovering exactly what makes (parenthetical) awesome, every single issue so far has taught us something new. We’re not just a tag team specialist anymore. We’re solidly into our (figurative) twenties, full of hotheaded ambition and plans for the future. We’re full-on, ’90s-era, drug-addled Shawn Michaels. We may not draw numbers like other literary magazines do, but we’re the showstopper of Canadian Literature. And unlike hbk, we won’t lose our smile. We’ll keep going for another year, and another, and another. Maybe we’re more than just another goddamn literary magazine. We’d like to challenge complacency, to be more than just another publication in a bio. We’re a place where a fifteen-year-old writer can be published alongside the editor-in-chief of a longstanding literary magazine; where a seventeen-year-old from the Philippines can be published alongside an award-winning publisher. We’re a place where good writing is good writing is good writing, and we don’t care who it’s coming from. We want your voices. Yes, yours! So thanks for stopping by, or sticking with us, or standing in our corner. We wouldn’t be anything without readers. And readers wouldn’t be anything without writers, so thanks to every single person who took a chance on a little handmade journal and wound up in our pages. Without you—yes, you—we wouldn’t have a literary magazine. We wouldn’t have anything. Here’s to year one. And here’s to year two. And many years to come. Cheers,
Nicole & William #smallpressrevolution
The Diviners’ Daily Classifieds WISHES, WANTS, AND WARTS SEEKING: URINATION CONGREGATION
FOR SALE: ANTIQUE DRESSER
I’m a certified uromancer with a steady practice, but due to recent goblin riots, the economy has taken a turn for the worse. My one assistant simply cannot keep up with the amount of urine I require to make an increased amount of prophecies. “I can’t drink five barrels of mercury a day,” he begged, “I just can’t,” his eyes fever-red pinpricks, skin pallid as a toad’s belly. He has taken to looking like a suffering hog lately, and his feet have taken on a translucent sheen. I fear he will
Looking for affordable furniture on the fly? Something dignified, ancient, and reeking of existential malaise? Boy, do I have a steal for you! As any half-rate illusionist will tell you, the key to impressing visitors is creating atmosphere. This dresser’s blood-slick finish guarantees a deadly gleam in the firelight, and the glittering runestones have a definite character about them. Side-splitting comedians, they are. To sweeten the pot, the dresser even comes free with the following delightful artefacts: one
not last long. This is where you come in. If you heed nature’s call with alarming regularity, or if you desire a moister lifestyle, this is the job for you. No training required. The only requirement is the ability to urinate—preferably incessantly! Payment includes an unlimited amount of mercury, all day, every day. Simply head to your bathroom and shriek, “It’s coming! Ooooh, it’s coming!” at the water pipes to apply. P.S: I offer an unlimited amount of moonshine if you’d like to volunteer for my forays into human sacrifice—fully optional, of course.
humming box of bees; partially-regurgitated swamp brew; the pickled remains of old lovers assembled in two jars; a retired poltergeist; the essence of longing for happier days; and a gelatinous, unidentifiable substance that quivers to the strains of an unseen viola. Sure, it might occasionally levitate and emanate blinding light, but what’s life without a little excitement, am I right? I am reluctant to part with it— it’s been a family treasure for the last two thousand years— but we’ve recently acquired a cabinet that also functions as a universe-portal, and thus have no
more need for the dresser. Final price is a firm $5000. Respond via the usual method. PETS: LARGE BROWN BOX Large brown box 4 sale. Approxm size & width of fully grown pelican. Smells of suspicion & regret. Ill-behaved & vicious, able to suck the souls out of small children. Being within 50mile radius induces hallucinations of/&/or neardeath experiences. Terrible whistling noise like shrill kettle when hungry. Pls hurry. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eaten my uncle. I fear I dont have much ti PERSONALS: FIERY DREAM LOVER It is a truth universally acknowledged that a weremoth is drawn to a man with his head on fire. Indeed there were sparks in the dream cafe between Yonge and Bloor, when I stepped in two Tuesdays ago and laid eyes on you for the first time. Never had I seen iridescence so fine. You were lightning-bright, crackling high and so dashingly handsome every winged creature of my body began vibrating with the intensity of a small hurricane. As I watched you completely consume the furniture, I felt sure I would swoon.
Even the smoke rings that formed around your head were perfect. That, and the freckles of gentlemanly ash across your shoulders, convinced me that I could not be devoured by any In that instant you looked right at me and smiled, glowing blue-white with desire. I smiled back. Our beautiful moment was smothered in its cradle when you were seized by the barista for arson. My moths were befuddled and grew frantic, and I was unable to summon my body to come to your rescue. Stop! My mind cried, aggrieved. Can a man not dine in peace? What is this barbarity? I had scarcely gotten to my feet when you were flung cruelly out into the street. The instant they shut the doors, I knew you were lost to me. The chimney is shut, and I fear I am trapped here. I have since taken to hovering at every window, hoping for a glimpse of you, my love. If you read this, please return to the very same establishment. Let us unite once more and unleash hellish revenge upon these simpletons. I shall wait as long as it takes. PROPERTY: BED & BREAKFAST ON THE MOON Your guests are sick of your vacation photos, Emma. The same thing year after year: summers spent mud-swamp fishing, road trips to the Dead Land,
nights lying in bed while you struggle in the jaws of mortifying memories. Is it time for you to give up rock collecting? Perhaps. A change of scenery would do you some good. The silken gash of the moon beckons, beset with the pale dimples of your first love. Beneath the gloomy rocks and the howling void of space, the faint scrape of cutlery echoes. It’s the Solaris Bed & Breakfast. Beyond the glass walls, stars burst like fireworks while cosmic pirates streak in pursuit. You get used to this display after staying there for a light year or two. Gradually, you lose all sensation of the colour red. The glowing innkeepers no longer startle you, and their insect-like clicking has grown to be comforting. You learn to slither and shed as they do. You have never felt so free. When you finally wake up in the bed of your old house, it is almost disappointing. “Where have you been all this time?” Your friends and family demand, frantic. “Where have you been, Emma?” You stretch your unused fingers. The faded paisley of your wallpaper looks, in the darkness, almost like constellations. “Far away,” you rasp, and unfurl your many new wings.
The Happiness Once, long ago, there was a small girl who couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t remember her name. She lived all alone on a porch of a house, and all she did all day long was spin round and round, round and round. Her coat was too small for her, but pretty, and she was very careful to keep it clean. She had no mother. She had no father. She had no one to be her friend, but she always noticed, nearby, a cloud of bees. They were wild honeybees, who had hidden their hive in the trunk of an old beech tree. The tree had lived for a long, long time by the road in front of the empty house. On its trunk was a heart carved by her father, and as the tree grew, the scar in the wood slowly spread. It was too high to touch now. Every morning, the bees swum out into the air one by one, three by three, round and round, until they had just enough bees in their cloud. Then all the bees floated to the field on the other side of the fence, where a farmer had planted the field with sweet clover. One by one, three by three, the bees slid down the air to sip the sweet nectar in the clover flowers, and then weighed down with the happiness, headed home to their hive. One day, a man came by in a noisy truck, and tied an orange plastic ribbon around the beech tree. The girl hid behind a pillar on the porch. She stayed there, quietly spinning a strand of hair behind her ear with one finger until he went away. She was hungry, so she took a cookie from a tin hidden in a hole in the pillar where a railing used to be. There were not as many as there used to be when she first woke up on the porch a long, long time ago. She was thirsty, but she was afraid of the man with the noisy truck, so she waited until dark before she went to the pump in the yard to get a drink of cold water. She pulled down on the handle, and each time it went up she pulled it down again until the cold water poured from the faucet. She drank from her red metal cup with the black rim. Then she pumped some water into the grey metal bowl. On their way back to their hive that evening, the bees were sleepy and satisfied. But they hesitated, like baby helicopters over the water in the bowl. Then, one by one, three by three, they quickly lowered themselves for a drink of water before they went to bed in their hive in the beech tree. Very early the next morning, the girl brushed off her coat and put on her little shoes, and began to spin, round and round. Soon, however, the man came back in his noisy truck. The girl hid behind her pillar. She stayed there, quietly spinning a strand of hair behind her ear with one finger, and watched as he lifted a heavy chainsaw out of the back of the truck. Brrrrragghh, Brrrraggh, Bragghhhh! He walked towards the tree, and suddenly an angry cloud of bees, so many that they looked black instead of yellow and black, surrounded the man. He dropped his saw, jumped in his truck and drove away.
That night the girl pumped water so she could have a drink of cold water, and pumped water into the metal bowl for the bees. And the bees sighed with buzzing pleasure to have such a cold drink before they went to bed. The next day, the girl woke up on her porch to the sound of Brrrrragghh, Brrrraggh, Bragghhhh! The man was back, but he was dressed in a big green suit, and a hat with screens hiding his face. The girl remembered when the angry men had come, with helmets to cover their faces. Brrrrragghh, Brrrraggh, Bragghhhh! Brraacck. Thud. Thud. The old beech tree’s branches were falling. Then THUD, the trunk fell too. The carved heart was hidden, pressed into the earth. Everything was quiet. The bees were far away in the field nearby. The girl peeked out, and the man was right in front of her! “Hey, sweetheart! What are you doing here?” Sweetheart. That was her name. But no one else, only her daddy knew it, and no one else but her mother said it. She ran to the hole in the fence, crawled through, and ran and leapt through the clover. The man tried to climb the fence but the wire was too bendy. It bounced and swayed under his weight. He watched her for a while, and then turned away. He found her tin of cookies and put them in his pocket. He threw the branches and the trunk with its carved heart, and her little red metal cup with the black rim into the back of the truck and drove away. Sweetheart carefully tiptoed, crouching, back to her porch. The cookies were gone. Sweetheart didn’t spin. The porch was not her place now. She carefully walked to the edge of the road and hid in the ditch full of long sweet grass smeared here and there with honey. She licked her fingers and put her sweet thumb in her mouth. She went across the crumply grass and sat beside the pump. She cupped her hands and drank from the pumped water for the bees into the old metal bowl. She spun the strand of hair behind her ear with one finger. She drew circles on the well stand over and over, waiting until they dried up before she drew them again. That evening the bees returned for their drink of water, and hovered and havered as they did. But when they discovered their hive was gone, they flew back to Sweetheart, who now wore honey everywhere, and made a coat of glistening gold around the girl and together they spun round and round, moving through the hole in the fence, until they came to a thick and quiet woods. Sweetheart was tired. She made a pillow out of her coat, and the bees made her a shining, trembling blanket, and they slept all through the night. Tomorrow they would find the happiness, they would make a new hive, and they would keep Sweetheart safe.
you left a mark on me â&#x20AC;&#x201D; dermal:
that one night when you were drunk and fucked up and made me smoke heroin in the tub with you.
the candle was close to burning out so you threw the jar of hot wax. shattered against the tiled wall behind me. glass hung in my hair. a small piece cut my lip. blood on my forehead, too. glass sunk down to the bottom, nested between our legs. you laid there, casually. waterlogged fingers lit a cigarette. you took the lighter and held it
down, fire hot and rolling. I twisted the gentle fixture between my fingers. you held the flame calm and under it, watched it bubble up slow and thick, then crackle. I inhaled the taste of plastic and exhaled the burn of wet glass. tiny smokestack still bubbling. inhaled
Alabama S. L. Stone
the smell of you and held you in my lungs. felt myself collapse at the neck. head titled back. mouth open. you picked up my heavy wrist in one hand. had the fire of your fingers in the other exhaled and you dug deep that metal heat below the bend of my arched back. my eyes stuck. looked ahead at the faucet. my head would not move. I whimperedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;scared to speak and i hated my voice because it only made you angry. pinched at the meat of my soggy arms if this is what you wanted to do, then okay.
a gentle game we play together
DS Maolal a i
Love is not a gentle game we play together and a crocodile is but a solitary hunting animal and we spent all of our time together drunk on whiskey, whistling like bombs and roaring happy before getting under one anotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fingernails with the needlehard light of morning-after sobriety and she loved wine and cocaine and all sorts of pills which I didnt go for and she told me that I was an â&#x20AC;&#x153;ass-holeâ&#x20AC;? with the hyphen most solidly in place and a fervour that could have been saved for the rosary. She could have died suddenly and cold one morning with rain outside tearing dusters off the feathers of birds but she never did though she tried twice while I knew her because some things are not meant to die. Hands like a born painter who could have never touched any brush but a cigarette and eyes like a fox in a nature scene crouched scared under a bramble of hair and above vicious kill mouth blood pink and slightly open. She never believed the things I told her or else on purpose misunderstood them to take a chance to say something wild and brilliant herself. She is still I am sure saying brilliant things a long way away from me now finally, and hopefully for good.
Round under puff-sun, hot on the toppling, we’re ohso seeable, Mama Sol, sea slurp soapsmooth. Boom-curves trump after trump plus dots and blooms, shush, so our sum only dollops the beachfront dumb and supples it. Bouncing buoy-blushing and sterilized, I belie bubbles of wonder... well, sprung. Lucky no show’s shy hung in the cosmos on this monde bonbon; the beach won’t even snore unboldy, its bullion’s blues and straw hues like a blonde’s. So say we stay plain cute and naked, balled up by the sip bumps doling lull, then tonguing and snoozing. Swelly, sunbeams glow an elbow, navel, pinky – cumulous as fruit snuck in a bowl snug through the moons.
z Naked Baby Hanlan’s Point, Toronto
entanglement I was going to start this poem by talking about tendrils: curling strands of vine creeping up my neck, rooting into the brick walls of my skin like the tendrils of anxiety that sneak into my muscles every day – but I then realized that I fucking hate the word ‘tendril’. it’s greasy. anxiety is not; the tendrils of anxiety that sneak up my muscles are not slippery, not pinguid, not cold, oily, unctuous. my muscles splenius capitis, trapezius, levator scapulae they are well acquainted with this creeping, growing, darkening engulfment and rather than slipping, its grip is vice-like. visceral. perhaps if I were to continue with botanical allegory a better term to use would be blooming: directly under the shoulder blade, just below the muscle there – the rhomboid the serratus and again splenius capitis and trapezius yes, fuck, yes. just there. there is something growing in that small dark place; roses blooming, taking root in my back. blooming. up, up, up through my chest and piercing into my collarbone (clavicular head of pectoralis major); thorny stems becoming intimately acquainted with my internal self. anxiety is not slippery. it sticks.
I was going to end this poem by talking about hands: how yours somehow calm the burrowing rose thorns in my back – but somehow, that does not seem just. I was going to end this poem by talking about backs how lying quietly in your bed somehow stretches out the roots entangled in my (splenius capitis, trapezius, levator scapulae) by simply being near you but that, too, seems not to fit. instead I will end this poem by talking about (fucking) tendrils: how they grow ingratiatingly where nothing else will live – how their lack of obsequiousness their disregard of any opinions regarding their growth is actually something to be admired. yes, the word is oily. but their perseverance, their continuance, that is where I find myself. that is where I meet you.
katie o’brien n
In Lieu of Flowers Troll, the homely prick, flicked his cigarette at me from the bridgehouse. Or, maybe he didn’t see me and had tossed it without looking. He used to be a village idiot, hassling folks at the Dominion Store to let him push their shopping carts, until he got promoted to bridge operator. Trenton had crazies to spare so up he went, to bake in the sun. I scampered to the burning butt. Quite a few butts in the vicinity already, different lengths and colours. The brown ones probably from since before the last rain which, to hear it from Gramps, was “nigh on a month of Sundays ago.” I preferred the most recent ones, the ones with at least an inch of smoke-able left. Those were prime. Usually, all I found were filters. If you’d ever observed me riding a bike, you’d have seen me occasionally squeal to a halt and dive for the curb. That meant I’d spotted a keeper. Troll was inclined to smoke right into the fuzzy shit— unless a boat showed up. He needed two hands to crank the bridge open and closed, I guess. A coal barge had just shat itself out the other side so the butt flicked at me was two inches of gold. Quick as a snap I had it stubbed out on the sidewalk and my butt baggie whipped out. That’s where I kept found butts still worth smoking. I also kept whole cigarettes I stole from Gramps. That was a different kind of sly business because you couldn’t take one from a new pack, and you couldn’t take one from a nearly empty pack. You had to get it so enough still rolled around in their little half, kind of loosey-goosey, but not so much that he had to wonder “where the fuck did all the emptiness come from?” Also, you couldn’t steal from the new half until he’d opened that little foil segment. It’s impossible to take off those foil tops without wrinkling the hell out of them. I tried it once and had to listen to a bitch-fest about “why is there only nine on the one side when there’s supposed to be ten?” He felt inclined to blame the tobacco company that once, because Gram was in the room. I think he knew. My point is, you can only get two—maybe three—tops, out of somebody else’s pack. I tested the black end on my tongue then dropped the butt in the baggie, then choked the neck off with a twist tie, as tight as I could. You have to choke the neck good, otherwise your clothes smell like Doug’s World of Tobacco and Pipes. Most 12-year-olds shouldn’t smell like that and Gram wasn’t an idiot. She did the laundry. Anyway, a babe I was trying to meet was working at Couch-Newton’s, our department store. Pretty sure she smoked. In Trenton, the prettiest girls all smoked like crazy.
The Arsonist This is how your life goes: you find a house and it burns down, so you build a new home inside someone else’s skin. They become the spaces that hold you together until the day they become what pulls you apart. Your canary heart stops singing and you should be the one to leave, you know this, the same way you know that a horse is still a horse even if it is not running, and you are still alive even when you are standing still. There are a thousand suns beneath your fingernails and a storm of coal dust rising in your lungs. You are the opera before it hits the stage, orchestra upsurge, bring down the chandeliers. This is how your life goes: you find a house and light a match because you have always loved playing with fire, and the notion that you might deserve to be happy is ludicrous. So you find someone to become your skin, so you can set it on fire again, so you can dance while you burn and it isn’t suicide because you are dancing and it can’t be sin because you are already burning. Your charred flesh knows the next scene, has already memorized all the soliloquised apologies, knows how the end will play out. Here is the part where you swallow your warning bell and let them fill the hollows between your toes. Here is where you wrote your names in the dust and promised you would not ruin each other. (Here is a shipwreck.) (Here, our bodies, tossed by light.)
Martina Dominique Dansereau
in the teeth of, (I don’t know about you but I’ve never heard this one before): in spite of, contrary to, directly against, closely related to: set a person’s teeth on edge is this like: you get under my skin, in more ways than one, so I, with my teeth, (in the teeth of ) bite through your skin, not just to muffle screams, we have far more effective plastic toys and leather straps for that, but to let you know that I am here I am here I am here these teeth marks are identifiable, my fingerprint on your skin, a branding, to get my teeth into, a way to devout myself entirely to you. That was foolish, I know. My teeth marks will disappear from your skin, covered in layers of clothes and a good lie (you were always so good at making me believe those obvious lies), so yes, my bite will fade Kaitlin but I will still be left with the taste Tremblay of your blood in my mouth.
A Delicate Question
Leda was a loud, spicy lover, and Henry was an oversensitive noise man, damaged by a crippling case of considerateness, so the question, involving Mr. K (their upstairs neighbor), was a delicate one. “How do we do it?” Henry asked, becoming, with each knee-shaking, breath-stealing, ear-piercing session, more preoccupied, more worried about what they were inflicting upon poor Mr. K. “We don’t,” Leda said. “We fuck.” “But we’re fucking nonstop. And you sound like a pack of horny insane wolves.” “You want me to shut up? Is that it? You want me to screw like a fifteen-year-old dying under her parents’ roof?” “God no!” “Then?” “Then we have to ask him. We just do.” “No, we don’t. And you know what? If anyone’s the horny insane wolf around here it’s you, mister. I really don’t think it was me who pinched my nipples and stuck four fingers in my pussy at four a.m. No, I really don’t.” Henry couldn’t, with absolute certainty, call Mr. K a recluse, but it was the rare time indeed when the two actually crossed paths. He appeared normal enough when they did, when they exchanged the usual pleasantries, but wasn’t that kind of normality, that readiness to swap the obligatory wordjobs, the facade of—the gateway into—depravity? What if Mr. K were dangerous? Or evil? A dangerous, evil man? Henry’s mind worked like a paranoiac pogo stick, but he had to focus on the problem at hand, not let his imagination ruin the present’s resolve. It was at the mailbox wall on an otherwise ordinary cloudless Tuesday when Henry, suddenly finding himself an elbow away from Mr. K, popped the question. “Do you?” “Pardon?” Mr. K said. “Do you?” Mr. K looked left then right. “Do I what?” Henry, following Mr. K’s prudent example, looked left and right to make sure the coast was still clear. He lowered his voice, got a good conspiratorial whisper going. “Do you hear us?”
“Hear you?” “Leda and I. You know...” “Excuse me?” Mr. K said, but he smiled an ambiguous smile and Henry knew he knew what Henry was asking. “I’m asking about the sex,” he said anyway. “Oh.” “I’m asking if you can hear us having sex. I’m asking, really, if we’re bothering you with the sex.” “I hear you,” Mr. K said. “Shit! I knew it! I friggin’ knew it!” “But you’re not bothering me, not at—” “I’m so sorry!” “Don’t be,” Mr. K said, locking his mailbox. “It’s just life, and I like hearing life.” Mr. K was fifty something, twenty years older than Leda and Henry. He could’ve been wise, but Henry had encountered such little wisdom on this planet he figured Mr. K was simply being polite, that outrage and murder were dancing between his ears. “It’ll never happen again!” Henry declared, storming off to his apartment. When Leda came home from work, Henry accosted her in the hallway. She didn’t even have one shoe off when he said: “He hears it—all of it! Every last squeak and moan. Every slap and scream. Every raunchy, pornworthy word. My God! Do you know what we are? We’re those people. The ones I want to maim.” “Calm down.” “The oblivious noise-makers! The zoo creatures! We belong in a zoo! We’re beasts!” “We’re doing nothing wrong.” Henry was distraught, pacing. “I’m gonna have to gag you with something. If I use my hands you’ll probably just bite them or suck on them and distract me. And how the hell would I be able to tickle your asshole?” “So what are you telling me here? No more sex?” “Silent sex! Pay attention!” “You’re impossible, you know that? I’m taking a shower.” “We’re killing the man!” That night, when they made love, Henry made sure it was a respectable hour. He shoved pillows between the headboard and the wall and tied a pillowcase around his lover’s mouth. When they were finished,
Henry rolled onto his back and let out a satisfied sigh. “You seem pretty pleased over there,” Leda said, letting the pillowcase drop to the floor. “You look rather radiant yourself.” “Yeah, but...” “But what?” “Well, I don’t exactly know how to say this, but... I thought about him.” Henry’s head whipped toward hers. Though they hadn’t yet dabbled in the character-testing ménage à trois swampland, Mr. K’s upstairs’ presence had been subtly sucking him into it. “I thought about him the whole time,” she continued, “what we’re doing for him, and you know what? It made me feel like he was with us.” “Shit!” “What?” “I’ve felt like that for weeks!” “It made me hot.” “It makes me hot, too,” Henry said. “We’re perverted!” “What? Why?” “Perverts! Incorrigible perverts!” Leda and Henry continued to sex their silent sex, and they both continued to think about Mr. K while they did. The lovemaking was troubled, conscious, and good. Weeks turned into months. On those rare occasions when they met, both lovers would blush and hurry through the pleasantries with Mr. K, grinning like adolescent monkeys. But, near Christmas, Henry thought of something. “Our silence is too loud,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s just too cotton pickin’ loud.” “Can you remind me again why I agreed to move in here with you? Do you remember if I had control of any one of my senses?” “It’s screaming,” Henry said. “Jackhammer lungs! Weed-whacker chords!” Leda sighed a patience-tested sigh. “So?” “Fire alarm tongues!” “Okay, okay. So what do we do now?” “We go back to the noise, go back to it like gangbusters. It’s the only honest thing to do.” And they did. And not long into the New Year, on a day when Leda and Henry had returned from a brisk winter’s stroll and were triaging the junk and bills in their mailbox, Mr. K appeared and went to check his.
“Hello,” he said. “Hi,” Leda and Henry said at the same time, not fooled by the friendly tone, ready to be reprimanded like the naughty, reprehensible children they were. “I’m moving,” Mr. K said. Henry squeezed Leda’s hand, thinking, We’ve driven the poor bastard out of house and home! “Job change,” he explained. “You know how it goes.” Leda and Henry nodded in unison. “We didn’t get to know each other as neighbors should—I haven’t been around much—but it was good having you two so close. If you’ll permit an indiscretion, though, I was starting to get worried.” “You were?” Henry said. “About what?” “You.” “Why?” Leda asked. “Because I didn’t hear you anymore.” Leda and Henry looked at one another, then back at Mr. K. “It made me want to remind you to never forget what life’s about.” “Noise?” Henry asked without thinking. “Sex?” Leda hazarded. “Love,” Mr. K said. Leda and Henry watched Mr. K snatch his mail without looking at it and walk off toward his apartment. “Nice guy,” Leda said. Flummoxed, Henry asked, “Was that genuine? I mean, was it?” “Yeah, I think it was.” “Then let’s do something for him.” “What’ve you got in mind?” “A going away present. A last hurrah.” “A hurrah?” “Tonight,” Henry said, “let’s give ’em the works.” “Does this mean we’re gonna get the special box out of the cellar?” “It does,” Henry said, and Leda made an elongated “ooh” noise, a noise that drove him and his loins wild. “We’re going to do it up for Van Gogh—for the ear, Leda—for the ear.” “Yeah,” Leda said, “let’s do it for love.”
a review of
Duke by Sara Tilley Pedlar Press | Spring 2015 | $22.00 | 420 pages Sara Tilley’s novel Duke is one of the most extraordinary reading experiences I’ve had this year. Even if the story itself had had no complexity, no arc, no development, no point, even if it had been missing everything that makes a story a story, I think I would have enjoyed this novel enough for it to make my top 10 of 2015. Before I really get into it, let me just share some of the praise from the back of the book—because really, it sums up exactly what made the book wonderful for me: “Sara Tilley’s Duke is an endlessly inventive, innovative, miracle of language…. It’s the rarest of literary things, life itself etched into the printed page.” –Wayne Johnston
“A marvel of voice: living, ecstatic, precise— Tilley’s coup d’état seizes the novel form and transfigures it into a luminous performance.” –Kathleen Winter Indeed, I picked this book up from a small press fair without any prior knowledge of either the novel or the author, and I picked it up for two reasons: the insane praise on the back, and the unbelievably captivating interior. The book uses a crisp, modernized version of a Courier-like typeface for Duke’s letters and journal entries, and the writing itself is spaced oddly across the pages—seemingly random huge spaces in the middle of sentences, capitals here and there and nowhere you’d expect them to be, text struck out, bolded, massive in some places. Contrariwise, in the few sections of more “normal” third-
contributors Born in Hastings County, currently living in Toronto, Hannah Brown worked as a screenwriter for anyone who’d pay. Her script How to Call Cows won first prize in an NFB screenwriting contest, and a brief memoir about her brother, “The Education of a Class A Mechanic,” appeared in This Magazine. More recently, “On Any Windy Day,” an excerpt from her novel-in-progress Listening to Joe Henderson was published in the May (#15) issue of Superstition Review, two poems were published in the June 21 version of Lynn Crosbie’s Hood, two poems appeared in untethered, and in October, Harpoon Review published “Bangande,” an excerpt from a novel in progress, The Furtive Ones. Martina Dominique Dansereau is a (gender)queer writer from the lower mainland of Vancouver, Canada. For xem, writing is a vital part of healing from trauma and mental illness as well as a platform to share xyr voice as a marginalized identity. Xe performs in the Vancouver Poetry Slam and xyr poetry is forthcoming in Doll Hospital Journal and The Phoenix Rising Review. Xyr passions include anti-oppression, queering platonic relationships, radicalizing self-care, cuddling pythons, and going on midnight walks in the rain. You can find more of xyr work online at numinouslights.co.vu. DS Maolalai is a graduate of English Literature from Trinity College in Dublin now living in Toronto. He has been writing poetry and short fiction for several years, and his poetry has appeared in such online publications as 4’33”, Strange Bounce, and Bong is Bard, and in print in three issues of the Chicago-based Down in the Dirt Magazine, Out of Ours, The Eunoia Review, Kerouac’s Dog, More Said Than Done, Star Tips, Myths Magazine, and most recently the Unrorean broadside, by whom he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. John Nyman’s verse, visual, and conceptual poems and poetics have appeared in a variety of print and online publications including Rampike, Cordite Poetry Review, and Hamilton Arts and Letters. His first full-length collection, Players, will be released with Palimpsest Press in spring 2016. Originally from Toronto, John is currently completing a PhD in Theory and Criticism at Western University in London, Ontario.
katie o’brien is a Calgarian poet originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland. At the University of Calgary, where they are currently studying, they work as Editor-in-Chief of NōD Magazine and as the Coordinator of Q: The SU Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity, with the eventual aim of pursuing joint careers in creative writing and sex education. They have been published in NōD Magazine. katie dislikes lying, sings a lot, and doesn’t kill bugs. Paddy Scott has been published in FreeFall Magazine, ByWords, and The Feathertale Review among others. He lives in Trenton, Ontario, with his son and daughter. Alabama S. L. Stone is not from Alabama, she is from North Carolina. Raised on the humidity of the South, she relies on her family name for inspiration. Her poetry has appeared in several of her favorite small press zines and she was an official poet in the “PoMoSco Project” while working with The Found Poetry Review. Kevin Tosca’s stories have been or soon will be published in Redivider, Literary Orphans, Paper Darts, Prole, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Paris. He and his work can be found at www.kevintosca.com. Katilin Tremblay is a writer, editor, and gamemaker living in Toronto. Her games focus on horror, mental health, and feminism, and her writing has been featured on Playboy, The Toast, and The Mary Sue. Natalie Wee is a 21-year-old Cultural Studies & Critical Theory MA candidate. Currently she writes poetry and prose on her portfolio, wondersmith.co.vu. Checking it out will grant you eternal life. Refunds not included.
This publication—issue ten of the literary magazine (parenthetical)—was published by words(on)pages in the month of November in the year two thousand and fifteen. It was designed, printed, and bound in Toronto, Ontario, by words(on) pages co-founders William Kemp and Nicole Brewer, who used Adobe InDesign for layout, and was typeset and designed using Kingthings Trypewriter 2, Adobe Garamond Pro, and FFF TUSJ. It was bound by hand with paper, thread, needle, and patience. Front and back covers were printed by Sebastian and Brendan Frye at Swimmers Group in Toronto. (parenthetical) could not be produced without the support of Michael Brewer, words(on)pages Director of Business Operations. For this issue, we were unable to pay a proofreader, and don’t like asking for free work—please forgive any inconsequential errors.