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parenthetical eighteen

march two thousand and seventeen


with work from Jeff Blackman Kaitlyn Boulding Ariel Dawn Christopher Alexander Hayter Chris Johnson Sean Lynch Geoffrey Morrison Adrien Potvin Brady Tighe Jeanette Vo Hava Zitlalik

ISSN 2368-0199 fifteen dollars cdn

(parenthetical) issue eighteen march two thousand and seventeen

(parenthetical) issue #18 © 2017 all copyrights remain with respective contributors ISSN 2368-0199 (Print) ISSN 2368-0202 (Online) fonts used include Kingthings Trypewriter 2 © Kevin King 2010 FFF TUSJ © Magnus Cedarholm 2009 words(on)pages is: william kemp, co-founder and poetry editor nicole brewer, co-founder and fiction editor michael brewer, director of business operations

contents - issue eighteen Note from the Editors

The Light Changes

poetry by Ariel Dawn

An Appropriation of Loss

poetry by Hava Zitlalik

The Load of Shit Came

poetry by Chris Johnson

House of Being Too Tired to Write a Poem

poetry by Geoffrey Morrison

Japan Has No Milk

fiction by Christopher Alexander Hayter


poetry by Kaitlyn Boulding

Well, Happy Birthday

poetry by Adrien Potvin

An unusual, very hot summer day

poetry by Jeanette Vo

The Circles of Sober Hell

fiction by Brady Tighe

The same old fears

poetry by Jeff Blackman

Jewish Boycott

poetry by Sean Lynch


on the horizon Here we are: our last contibutor-filled issue of (parenthetical) before our hiatus. If we do say so ourselves, it’s a killer issue, and we hope you enjoy all the great work from these talented writers! We’re excited now to look through all the back issues of (parenthetical) to curate one or two issues of editors’ picks, launching in May and potentially July as well. We’ve already begun re-reading, and it’s been a blast! We couldn’t be more proud of all the writers who have been a part of our little family these past three years. In case you missed the big announcement in January, we are putting (parenthetical) on hiatus for a little bit while we reconsider how we fit into the CanLit community. That said, it’s important to us to continue contributing, so words(on)pages will continue doing everything else we do: our second annual Blodwyn Memorial Prize is open for submissions until May 1, we have a full list of 2017 spring and fall chapbooks coming out, and words(on)stages is booked through to July, with the support of the Toronto Arts Council. We’ve prepared a longer piece on how we arrived at this decision which you can find in issue seventeen, if you’re curious. Here is a short excerpt, which—while not entirely complete—covers a few of the key reasons we need some time to refocus and reorganize: “Behind the scenes, (parenthetical) has been getting harder and harder to run. As with any new project in this digital age, the need to produce more, the need to continue to be new, is overwhelming— somewhere along the line, it felt like those perceived needs to be new, to be more, were starting to get in the way of what we wanted the magazine to be. We want it to be a place for truly new writers to see their work in print, to be able to add a publication to their bio, to feel the long-awaited vindication of getting published. We have a core set of ideals for (parenthetical) that we don’t want to let go of: there is value in print; writers must be paid; merit is not in a name; books (for better or for worse) will be judged by their covers.” While we’re sad to step away, we’re excited to see how this break will bring us back even stronger, for words(on) pages as well as for all of you: our wonderful readers, our talented writers, and every single person who makes what we do possible and worthwhile. Thank you to every writer we’ve ever published, every reader who has ever stopped by, and all of our supporters. We hope you enjoy the stellar cast of issue 18!

Nicole & William

The Light Changes

At noon a meeting is held. I attend or lie on my balcony staring down. Half past eleven the fellowship smokes and embraces by stone facade before going inside. Stark lobby chairs line walls. Posters of steps and principles. Industrial coffee pot drained every time. The room is dim, bluish silver from clouds or rain by windows. A member is anyone who holds the desire to stop. Who holds the desire. Laminated pages read aloud: prayers, spells, vows. We share. Many men. Cologne and black wool. Mountains of shoulders to ascend. A dream they were at my bedside, guiding me to spiritual awakening. I don’t collect keychains, just hours. The gentleman who channels a Higher Power, sometimes meeting him in the elevator, dark moving space where we belong to one another. We never speak of it, and only in the moment for the still-suffering will I stare him down. The light changes, the waiting body.

Ariel Dawn


An Appropriation of Loss

Three weeks before term’s end, the sister of our anatomy teacher is found dead in her apartment and our exit exam is cancelled, closure substituted for a final dissection of fetal pigs still slick with mother’s mucus. Ours sits stoic on a tray before me. I am unsure of what to do with this offering. The district-assigned substitute stands at the front of the classroom, a pacemaker in place of a once-frantic heart. He reads quickly from a lab manual: before incision, determine gender. You blush, search for its sex. It’s a boy, you say, and I imagine smoking a blue-banded cigar. Nine months after graduation, our first year of university nearly full-term, you sit shotgun in some safety-tested station wagon, racing a winter storm through cross-stitched cornfields. You are a wreath on the side of the road, a cautionary tale, a footnote in the paper: Evergreen student killed in Iowa crash. When I find out, I feel some

simulated grief burrowing into the soil of my stomach, a seed that would have sprouted if I’d known you’d meant something before you were gone. We reach the end of the dissection, the pig a grey-pink parcel unwrapped in front of us. The substitute tells us to take away the heart, explore its crevices and fluid-filled veins. You cut carefully, jaws of life moving through bones and tendons. The heart is discarded after first inspection and we examine the thoracic cavity, the spaces it leaves behind. I taste formaldehyde at the back of my throat. We finish the dissection and the substitute moves from table to table with a trash bag for our unwanted organs. I watch you palm the heart in your hands as you would a baby bird. You are surprised by its lightness, its impermanence. I didn’t think it would be this small, you say. I didn’t think it would be this insignificant.


Hava Zitlalik

The Load of Shit Came after Wallace Stevens

The going of the GDP is like a sewer flowing; like shit flowing through the national mess hall, under wrinkled noses; under wrinkled noses that are like politicians’; upturned, bedizened, while chapped lips still whistle as a plumber might when they pass the time in your bathroom teasing out an hour.

Chris Johnson


House of Being Too Tired to Write a Poem


I leave the muffin tray to soak and I hope tomorrow is better. I was wrong to write like blithe tricycles, To make baubles that crunched like candyglass In a dandy paddle-battle of gurning understudies. I was wrong to write like blithe tricycles: Crawling around tonguing underseat gum, a festoon In a dandy paddle-battle of gurning understudies. How could you write home if you hadn’t unsettled yourself? Crawling around tonguing underseat gum, a festoon Demagnetizing meaning, shrinking the actual world: How could you write home if you hadn’t unsettled yourself, Named the hand-waving that kept you from being clear? Demagnetizing meaning, shrinking the actual world To make baubles that crunched like candyglass, never Naming the hand-waving that kept you from being clear. I leave the muffin tray to soak and I hope tomorrow is better.

Geoffrey Mo rrison

Japan Has No Milk Japan disconnects. Japan wants some milk. Japan notices the dimensions and the camera. Japan stares at its tense keeper. Japan brings its own commentator. Japan stalls. Japan condemns the keeper. Japan remembers the communist anniversary. Japan doubles as a market, notices the horizon, the sun. Japan thinks. Japan is a philosopher—Japan speaks—why can’t Japan offend Japan? Japan is alarmed by dramatic mathematics. Japan has its own money. Japan feels the weather change. Japan carries an umbrella to guard against the breath coming off the moon, rolling across the water. Japan stops. Japan feels Japan. Japan is degraded by its fame; a disturbing fear floats on the wind. Japan cannot sit still. Japan fears the communists. Japan ignores its minister early and often, whenever possible. Japan cannot conform outside Japan. Japan is a product. Japan has engineers who fiddle beneath the sea, playing with the wind. Japan coughs. Japan cannot be edited. Japan is always edited. Japan plays with its dialect. Japan insults its keepers. Japan still wants some milk. Japan does not forget. Japan insults the commentator. Japan is an arcade. Japan worries what the communists think. Japan is getting ready. Japan built an imaginative village. Japan takes symbolic risks. Japan makes crude gestures. Japan says don’t ignore me when you ignore me. Japan goes pale. Japan complains. Japan is anxious. Japan is annoyed. Japan wonders—does this commentary condemn itself? Japan will not listen. Japan knows its engineers are rigorous. Japan likes to be on top. Japan is the symptom. Japan has a suicide mask. Japan is out of milk. Japan thinks about getting an ambassador. Japan skips breakfast. Japan emails a farmer about the milk situation. Japan hates. Japan censors Japan. Japan cannot see without darkness. Japan will die of an addiction. Japan told its engineers to work on the addiction. Japan quibbles with the commentator. Japan wants to see the transcript and receive final cut before the commentary is released. Japan is wrong. Japan sneaks within Japan. Japan protests Japan. Japan pauses. Japan is a ghost. Japan brandishes its pixelated member. Japan is a capitalist enterprise without any milk. Japan is a fascist. Japan withdraws its application from the pool. Japan ignores the keepers. Japan doesn’t listen to keepers. Japan makes a duplicate of the transcript. Japan remembers how to make duplicates. Japan has official and unofficial transcripts. Japan is unaccredited.

Japan is a hypocrite. Japan exemplifies Japan. Japan bombed a foreigner. Japan forgot. Japan was bombed in return. Japan did not forget. Japan waits underneath the cloud, as milk rolls in on the wind. Japan calls its mother on the cellular phone. Japan feels cynical. Japan is malfunctioning. Japan goes to the bank and hides in the vault. Japan hides its money under the mattress. Japan has a futon for a mattress. Japan rolls up the futon and puts it in the closet when it has company so there is more room to sit on the floor. Japan’s futon is full of dust. Japan takes the futon to the back yard and hits it with a mallet to knock the dust out before company arrives. Japan renames Japan. Japan faints. Japan renames Japan, “Japan.� Japan recycles. Japan blinks, dreading its own existence. Japan grinds in agony.


Christopher Alexander Hayter


It takes time to turn cabbage into kimchi. Let things do their own work: malt-barley & hops, sourdough starters, jars brim-filled with vinegar, sea-salt, sugar, cucumbers, garlic, dill, the peaches we picked in Annapolis Royal, & allow them their stages, salty brines, time alone. If you want to turn the closeness spoons find in drawers into a tangier form of tender, you need to hold the silence enzymes love. When you drink cider do you regret the loss of apples? It’s the change that happens between the first draft and the fifth and we know when we hold each other in your doorframe, nothing is lost here and all is gained.

Kaitlyn Boulding


Well, Happy Birthday

Liked the glowing parts, said and the icing; eyes shift indifferent to Lacoste polo; but perhaps his peers might

liked the sparkling part cannot yet differentiate

starts in the fall nervous; frames teachers through popular imagination, does not yet differentiate yet. Likes the glowing parts.


or think of uniqueness

Adrien Potvin

An unusual, very hot summer day Even the crows were panting. Cool, slick avians with the sideways glances and forthright attacks— they recognize people, did you know?— crept into the shade on what seemed the hottest day of the year. The air was cotton, the sky red. I woke to strange sunlight oozing through the slats. Like the sun had fallen and was warning us to get down on our knees and repent. At that moment I realized I feared neither death nor finiteness but I did fear being alone. And I mean loneliness in the sense that people must look out for one another when the world ends, or what could be said about humanity? Never mind putting on your own gas mask, for what then is the point of having lived? I saw a lone crow sitting on the grass, its feathers tufted, giving it a vulnerable appearance. You almost never see crows squatting like that. And I thought,

poor little bugger, what can I do? But the laws of nature say to never force a crow to trust you for that would surely mean its death, were it to trust humans. This makes me sad. For the sake of the crows, we need to continue being a threat. I thought about a murder of crows against the red sky. Do they know the symbolism we have attached to them? What do they know? What do we know? How much will knowing protect us when it’s our turn? A red morning sky means low pressure. It isn’t the end of the world, after all. Did the crows know that?




The Circles of Sober Hell 1st Circle of Sober Hell The Unmade Bed of Sleepless Hot Nights It’s too hot to sleep, and so you toss and turn among the sheets and find no comfort. Every position gnaws at you; every side of the pillow is the wrong side. Lying awake, you go through all of you the mistakes you’ve made, and how they have all led to your current situation. When that train of thought derails, you think of all of the things that you could have done to grow as a person and get started on a better life. This works, until you come to the realization that you’ve done none of those things, and probably won’t because they are too much work. You follow this with a long lamenting stare at the ceiling, where with eyes open you dissect micro-moments of your life that you’ve given immense weight to. You feel disgusted with your body and all of the sweat pouring off of it. You think of things you could do if you got out of bed. You do none of those things and lie there and think more. 2nd Circle of Sober Hell The Sad Fridge This is a reminder that you still can’t fill the fridge. Despite all of your money, despite having a job, and despite being an adult most of the time, your fridge is still empty. You’re reminded of your own incompetence at keeping yourself healthy every time you open it. This hell continues until you actually fill the fucking fridge. Even then, be sure to beat yourself up for not having all kinds of healthy, fresh, and colourful items inside of it. There is no coconut or almond milk, no fruit, no expensive cheeses for expensive bagels, and no pro-biotic yogurt to help your guts. There are plenty of half-eaten slices of pizza though. Think about how hungry you are, and then order pizza because you don’t want to do your dishes. Then feel bad about that choice. Think to yourself that green beer bottles would add some shade to the whole enterprise, and then realize that you again thought that beer was food, and that this is why you’re not drinking. While thinking about what kind of food to buy, remind yourself that you don’t actually know how to cook anything, and that any food you buy that isn’t pickles isn’t going to magical turn itself into some orgasmic meal.

Remind yourself, as you stand in the soft, hospital like glow of the open fridge door, of all your previous failures at cooking, and picture a towering monolith of scorched pots. The only mercy of the sad fridge, is that opening the door and staring into it, cools your down a little. 3rd Circle of Sober Hell In the Fetal Position in the Shower The refuge of a cold shower on a hot summer day is just another inconvenient nightmare as you rest your head against the acrylic wall you haven’t cleaned in who knows how long and think about how your life is over at 27. You shower longer than anyone should when taking a cold shower. You rinse, lather, and repeat more times than you could ever be dirty enough to need. You slip to the floor of the shower, curl into the fetal position and close your eyes in an effort to see and think absolutely nothing, and just feel numb. Your thoughts are persistent though, and won’t wash off, and you end up thinking about all of the things you could accomplish in the future if you could only see past the futility of continuing on. All feelings of “If I did this, I would maybe be able to work on my dreams and my goals” are met with crippling, undeniable evidence that none of that effort is going to do any good. As cold water sprays on you and runs down your skin, you feel as though you will be alone for the rest of your life, and that all attempts at dating will end in failure and sadness. You think about all the famous people who died at 27 and realize that you’re not famous enough to die. You realize that all actions when you leave the shower will be meaningless and that you will always end up back here, in the fetal position. 4th Circle of Sober Hell Standing Outside The Liquor Store Waiting for it to Close You are standing outside of a liquor store waiting for it to close. You’ve left your apartment and told yourself you’re going to go and buy a big bottle of something, and that all of this sobriety bullshit is finally going to be over and done with. Temptation grips every bit of you, and churns around your insides. This hell burns like the fire in your lungs from of the 15 cigarettes that you’ve smoked back to back. It burns like the part of your lip you opened up when you pull one burned down to the filter out of your mouth with shaking hands. Your resolve crumbles like the ashes off the end of each of them. You’re

waiting for the open sign to turn off, so that you will be free of this temptation, and able to return home for another sleepless night. 15 steps forward. 15 steps towards the door. 15 steps back. Light another. The answers are not forthcoming, you think to yourself as your fingers tighten on the filter of a Marlboro red, while your other hand clenches and unclenches in your jacket pocket. You check your watch: it’s 15 minutes to closing time. Inside the liquor store, a whiskey symphony cues itself up with a few taps to the front label of a bottle. A beer bottle choir clears its voice in preparation for the sweetest siren song you’ve ever heard. Light another. 5th Circle of Sober Hell Sobriety in a Vicious Summer A beer will cool you off, and calm your mind. That’s what your head says. A bigger lie you haven’t heard in some time, but the cooing voice that’s tapping on your skull sounds awful convincing. To make matters worse, everyone but you is out enjoying themselves and celebrating life, drunk as skunks and making the streets scream with pleasure at night. You feel more alone than you ever have. Going out into the city becomes less and less of an option, because you will only be tempted more and more by hordes of young people just like you, who are having fun in a way that you no longer can. Every bit of you will slowly be eroded away: your willpower, your happiness, and your desire to maintain this façade of personal health that you call sobriety. Good days will occur at random and give you some hope of going forward, but these are just the tricks of this particular circle; done to make things all the worse when the reality of the situation comes crashing back down on you. Hope is the curse they afflict upon you, showing you an island of salvation in a sea of whiskey thoughts, before crashing another wave down upon you. Easy escape beckons, as easy as twist-off tops, but that door opens off the edge of a cliff. Sometimes though, falling off isn’t such a bad thing, you think, because you feel like you’re flying for a few seconds.


Brady Tighe


The same old fears

Of course you may go out but you must know when I alone lay down our son, full of formula and promise I instinctively envision single-parenthood while I sing him “Wish You Were Here� for the hundredth night. When I was seventeen I envisioned that anthem sound-tracking my painless, accidental death featuring my cuckolding crush weeping over my body, as Pink Floyd synced the monitor, and up the camera went. I am thirty-one and you are thirty-one. In the nursery, our son maws gibberish in the dark. The female cat who you correctly identify as my cat, whinges. O wife, come home to me, and soothe my nervous hinges.

Jeff Blackman

Jewish Boycott “This day is engraved in my heart in flames.”

–Hertha Nathorff, A German Jewish Doctor’s Diary

Frau Doktor shoved a Brownshirt aside when he said the soap shop was owned by Juden, not enough humans did the same when young men barred windows soon to be broken. Frau Doktor knew this as Teutons slapped markers on doors signaling the coming slaughter. The complacent assumed the avalanche would end soon and yet it was just prophetic dust before the fall. Frau Doktor knew as she warned friends on the street:

“This is only the beginning,” she’d state. The gentiles brushed away her comments, smiling and patting her shoulder while the next year they’d pretend she’s alien to them. Frau Doktor knew the air smelled the same for now as the scent of carrion discomforting Aryans


hadn’t yet drifted over the flowing Spree and into the town square where citizens would shrug shoulders, pocketing fingers ringed by gold teeth of former neighbors. Frau Doktor knew this, and like Sisyphus

Sean Lynch

she kept pushing.

contributors Jeff Blackman’s latest chapbooks include I don’t know what you need (Horsebroke), Unit (Phafours), and The Night Goes (puddles of sky). Please visit for new poems, videos, and digital books. Katilyn Boulding is a poet and PhD candidate in the department of Classics at the University of Washington in Seattle. She holds an MA in Classics from Dalhousie University and thinks, reads, and writes about women and weaving in the Ancient and Contemporary world. Ariel Dawn lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Her poems appear in places such as Ambit, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Elbow Room, Tales from the Forest, and Canthius, and are forthcoming in A Furious Hope anthology. She is studying Tarot and finishing her first collection of poems. Christopher Alexander Hayter is a PhD Candidate in Creative Writing at Georgia State University. He received an MFA from San Francisco State University. He was the winner of the 43rd Annual Agnes Scott College Writing Festival Fiction Contest in 2014. His writing has been published in Cutthroat, PANK, Pif Magazine, Talking River, Jelly Bucket, The Binnacle, Underground Voices, Print Oriented Bastards, and other journals. He is currently editing his first novel and drafting his second. Chris Johnson lives in Ottawa and works as coordinating editor for Arc Poetry Magazine. His chapbook, Listen, Partisan!, is from Frog Hollow Press. Sean Lynch is a poet and editor who lives in Camden, New Jersey. Lynch’s poetry has appeared in Hamilton Stone Review, Poetry Quarterly, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and elsewhere online and in print. His work can also be found at

Geoffrey Morrison is from British Columbia, but has also lived in Toronto and London, Ontario. He was a longlist finalist for the 2014 Lemon Hound and 2016 PRISM poetry contests, and has poems in Lemon Hound, ditch, and Echolocation (online). His critical prose is at The Town Crier and The Rusty Toque. Adrien Potvin is a writer and musician currently living in Guelph, Ontario. He is a member of the Guelph-based poetry group &, Collective, and has appeared in their books &, 1: works by &, collective and &, 2: this happened to one of us. He has also been published through Vocamus Press, in their yearly Rhapsody anthology. Brady Tighe is a writer living on the west coast. His fiction and poetry work has appeared in numerous local publications, and he has worked as a journalist for VIU’s student paper, The Navigator. He enjoys black coffee and vinyl records. Jeanette Vo lives in Richmond, British Columbia. She holds a BA from the University of British Columbia where she majored in English Literature and Psychology. Her work has been published in Vallum and Prairie Journal and is forthcoming in filling Station. Hava Zitlalik lives and writes in Seattle, Washington. This is her first poetry publication.


This publication—issue eighteen of the literary magazine (parenthetical)— was published by words(on)pages in the month of March in the year two thousand and seventeen. 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.

is that a word? yeah,it means kind of off to the side; part of the whole, but ultimately inessential.


so like poetry? yes - adds colour.

so like art.

with thanks to siblings & friends writers & readers coffee & tea moms & dads

(parenthetical) issue 18: March 2017  

Eighteenth issue of the bi-monthly literary magazine from words(on)pages.

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