Allison LaSorda


Hook an eel and reel it in. It wraps around my hand
and wrist like a boa constrictor. My cousin yells
to hurry up and get the lure out, but the muscle, the persistence.

For the past week I’ve been visiting. I hug people,
see them pause. Someone concedes
they last saw me at a funeral.

Resolving expectations leads to loneliness.
There are blueberries in an old ice cream bucket.
Things grow faster than I remember; I eat quickly.

Clouds look different, more cheerful, which stirs mixed-feelings.
Ancestors made nuisances of themselves here, casting
their nets, planting, skills that have long left my blood.

A high school friend tours me around the valley sites:
the pig farm he can’t afford will be developed;
this used to be that. The drive makes me ravenous.

Stay in his childhood bedroom. He tells me he used to open
a drawer to lock himself in when he got in trouble.
Later, I open the drawer while I undress.








Derek Beaulieu









Your Father the Game Show Announcer

Billeh Nickerson


Each morning he introduces breakfast
in a big booming voice:


And your mother is an announcer as well.
They met at announcer school.


And sometimes they synchronize:


And late at night
while they think you’re asleep
they make announcer love:


And by that point,
you’ve plugged your ears
and hidden your head
beneath the pillows.

You dream of a normal life,
free of exuberant announcements,
free of the pressure to follow







Alternate reading of Wuthering Heights

Tanis Franco


tanis franco








Melissa Bull



From the spatium of the boggy Circus Maximus
celebrants trill alleluia a capella,
rattle tambourines.
We pace the ancient racetrack past them
in the wake of a gust of nuns.

We are visiting ephemera,
stony-eyed stalks of marble,
our febrile bodies
wax pale behind wrought gates.
We grasp gilted apses
in ornamented veneration without end.

We are gawking miniatures
suckling clementine desserts
from piccolo cucchiaios
scrabbling Roman slabs shooting selfies
among the ostentatious graves we haunt.


Starlings swarm over Rome
at dusk in pointillated counter-currents,
the delicately etched double hooks
of their thousand wings crest
into jet strokes then dissolve, clamour,
and thin out –
a threadbare chintz spread taught
over a dimming titian night.
Their murmuration whistles over the Tiber.








Stuart Ross


Al at Moore’s menswear store in Ajax,
Ontario, is a pretty good guy. Not just
because he found me a nice Italian suit
for $199 ($270 with tax and alterations)
but because he found one below my budget
instead of trying to upsell me
like the guy in the Cobourg mall.
At first Al said “a little spare change”
would get me the really good suits
but I said I didn’t have any
and he believed me.
Also, Al looks good in a black suit
and not like an undertaker.
He delivered his corny suit-seller’s jokes
knowing they were corny. And he also
marked my sleeve cuff with a sliver
of white chalk just like my grandfather
Sam Blatt used to do, a tape measure
draped over his shoulders like a tallit.
When my grandfather was in Branson
Hospital dying, he scrawled
some Hebrew letters on a piece of
paper towel because he couldn’t talk.
I still have the paper towel but I’m
scared to find out what the Hebrew
letters spell. The cheap suits all looked
cheap but Al kept trying, even after
the store had closed. It’s the first
suit I’ve bought since 1972, the year
of my bar mitzvah. I told this to Al.
It was a bit of a test to see if he flinched
finding out I am Jewish. He didn’t.
This suit is for my wedding. I won’t
need another until my funeral. But
maybe if I stay in good shape,
take care of myself and eat well,
the beautiful suit Al found for me
will still just about fit.


Shannon Bramer










Farewell, My Sea

Gillian Jerome


The morning the quake hit the city
I swore I’d ride full gallop into that sea
and never look back. I listened to Jay-Z, shoved
tiny nectarines into my satchel,
and fled West past the Prime Minister
who stood at the corner of 4th and Trutch
disguised as a Dutch milkmaid with rosy cheeks.
Kits beach was furious.
But I found my pony di Esperia
standing in my dory and so put myself
upon her and we rowed—
At Howe Sound a gang of dinghies
shepherded by muscular oilers slicked up around us.
In their faces the coast was a Shrinky Dink.
Dogs and cats galore were chucked and dunked
into the floatsam. The masked activists who had lain
their bodies down beneath bulldozers at Burnaby Mountain
flung themselves straight as arrows off the Sea-to-Sky cliffs.
Pony and I, in those first days, small in our boat,
shared our raisins and stale Triscuits with pirates
from Fort McMurray who stabbed each other up for their last rails.
All of the city’s private property was now public, but useless,
floating as it was, in shit. None of it, not the iPhones or Jaguars,
the Hunter boots or toy giraffes imported
from France, now bobbing maniacally in the water,
mattered. We shared stories and whatever raisins were left.
Alanis Obomsawin, sitting around our campfire beside Pauline Johnson,
asked what colour the sky was. St. Kateri Tekakwitha,
Ike and Tina, Joan of Arc, Marco Polo, Snuffaluffagus— they all came
galumphing back. Buffy St. Marie. Neil Young. Louis Riel.
We all sat around roasting raisins—
all of us intermittently
marooned on an unidentifiable Arctic island at Great Bear Lake. The sky?
We hadn’t looked at it.
Babies cried. Laura Secord handed out milkshakes.
Georgia O’Keefe stood as still as a petroglyph, entranced
by the horizon. We’d come too seldom
to the ocean. We were too busy with the 21st century.
But eternal return isn’t infinite. Not everyone comes back,
nothing lasts. My pony refused to do the dirty work
and her brackish eyes were glassy. On her way to the slaughterhouse,
years ago, standing in a dark box car, despondent, she felt the sudden
hospitality of a man’s arms around her neck.
Turns out those arms were Nietzsche’s, crash-test dummy,
beloved by thousands of boy students of philosophy
the world over, lover of blood and birds and horses. When, after more
Arctic transit, we moved from ice cap to ice cap and watched off
the coast of Greenland the final outburst of the tide
flower up and die, we stopped
so that Pony could peer into the oily face of the sea.








matt robinson


everything laid bare. the dog? blissfully unaware, padding through

some faded haze of dream, its indigo folds. your favourite levi’s,

lap splayed. crotch agog; in need of repair, redress. it’s saturday;

there’s coffee; it’s morning. and near two cups in, your back’s stitched

with the riveted hunch a november’s reticent, grey-scaled light asks

of fine effort like this. the day’s already confounded posturing, each next

thought a seaming. more patch, more dogged denial and thick-thumbed darn,

than original. a slack, frowzy derivative. and you know this, this

uneven arithmetic; the domestic tetris of each inner thigh, how each step is

both unspoken terror and vague hope, all at once. a knit-and-purl logic.

truth is, you only wish your worry unseemly. each breath: a thread weight,

drawn – upholstery’s thick gauge a knowing nod to coverings-up. this

is, at best, a juvenile failure. middle school fumbling. your uneven stabbing

a staccato sheet music for some psalm to the little-known saint

of dropped stitches, loose knots. suffice it to say you’ve pricked your numbed fingers,

but you’ve yet to draw blood. your pockets hold nothing but vague recollections

of clenched fists and chewed nails, the cotton a loose gauzy liminal

staunching some yet unseen wound. you wish, once again, you’d been as transparent;

understood what worked denim might proffer. about effort and fabric?

about honesty, about mending? no. about how fray serves as both verb and as noun.

sometimes, all at once.







The Clock

A. F. Moritz


The clock began to tick. Or I began
to hear it in the room where it had always
ticked and I had rested. The rhythm

appeared, like blood that had been there
circling invisible that surges from some cut,
that bursts open a flaw. A spurt, another,

regular. Won’t they ever end? Won’t it run out?
And it keeps running out, the blood in the terrified
attention fastened on the fountain. The drops

fall on the floor, gather, and flow out of sight
to harden somewhere, lose the nature of blood,
be knowable as blood to the scientist only

who comes later, tests the dust
and says at the end of scrutiny, This is blood.
The motionless face of the clock had begun

to forge forward, in that room that long had held
my body lying still. It was speaking now
a rhythm that ought to underlie a song. A rhythm

made by the mind’s arithmetic, as it figured ways
the skein of featureless ticks could be arranged:
iamb and trochee, spondee, dactyl, amphimacer,

all the paeans… A rhythm that made my breath stop
with conviction the next tick wasn’t coming. Star systems
were conceived and died in the silences

between each two. “Unbearable suspense”, it’s called:
the heart expecting to recognize it’s dead,
it’s been dead while the brain had to wait

a further second—the length of all true thoughts—
for the blood’s stoppage to reach it. Impossible, that ticking.
It can’t exist. In my room, in the resting of my body

there was no time, no future for any new sound
to come from or to sound in. All was silence.
And yet the ticking had come. So all was now

a prow moving in a sea
of black places that were not
till it cut into them. The voice of the clock

went on that way in my craw, dragging me
between excitement and exhaustion
while I longed to be left alone, to be restored

to the quiet of before, where I was paused
permanently, to consider until I could grasp it
this being underway.








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