em lib o la -p c k mi ar m co y b
issue five january two thousand and fifteen
r ge in ll be ow r ha st de nt bri bro n y ma sa lsa ney erm on ns ai itt r j hns yo br nve jo e l va de ris tin kel ul ch ris nic rev ch ra ra ltz rd dge ci siq sa phe ri ra kki she owb tr ni zz li rry te
k r o
m o r
s u l
ISSN 2368-0202 fifteen dollars cdn
issue five january two thousand and fifteen
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
(parenthetical) issue #5 © 2015
william kemp, co-founder and poetry editor nicole brewer, co-founder and fiction editor michael brewer, director of business operations
issue five Note from the Editors self-portrait [eight] poem by Christine Lyons Quag story by Lizz Shepherd Keepsakes poem by Terry Trowbridge i’m not sure why poem by Denver Jermyn Beauty poem by Nikki Saltz Westerly poem by Samantha Bellinger Nautilidaeism poem by Rasiqra Revulva Grandma Mary poem by Cira Nickel Anytime at All poem by Chris Johnson Small Town poem by Brittney Broder Forest for the Trees fiction by Ailsa Bristow Reviews— two chapbooks reviewed by William Kemp The Blood Mile by Andy Lyberopoulos reviewed by Nicole Brewer
co nt en ts
Another goddamn literary magazine.
(But wait, we’re different!) We are words(on)pages. We are The Rockers of Canadian literature, in which we’re Shawn Michaels and Canadian literature is Marty Jannetty. So get ready to be put through a barbershop window, Canadian literature. We are writers, we are editors, we are readers. We are tired of the cliquishness of the literary community, we are tired of unpaid internships, we are tired of baby boomers not retiring. And to change all of that, we started another goddamn micro-press, literary magazine, and reading series— changing the small press scene one emerging artist at a time. We are an organization created by emerging writers for emerging writers. And this little personally designed, hand-bound zine is proof to our contributors that their years of late nights and awful jobs and first drafts and rewrites are worth it. This zine is more than just tangible proof that their shit’s pretty rad. It’s our way of getting off of our asses and making sure the voices we think deserve attention get attention. On a bi-monthly basis (parenthetical) will feature mainly Canadian contributors and any non-fiction will be grounded in CanLit. Our goal is to create a community of emerging Canadian writers and publishers that will serve as a catalyst for inter-press conversation about how to take advantage of our constantly changing circumstances. We all know that in publishing and bookselling we are the David to a multi-headed Goliath of a few select publishing houses and book retailers. And it may seem like they have us trapped underfoot, but we hope that this zine, and by extension, this organization can help to incite a change in the small press community. We want to show that small presses and emerging artists don’t just have to survive in CanLit—they can thrive. Sincerely,
Nicole & William #smallpressrevolution
self-portrait [eight] Christine Lyons
black dresses are for funerals or getting laid (flasks too) pick up dirt delicately with your hands rub it on your cheeks (as if you’re blushing as if you threw some on the coffin) the morgue tiles as cool on my thighs as his hands carving letters on the gravestone (count my blessings i’ll never read them)
s ons y l ne
eig it [
Quag Lizz Shepherd
Quag was a bit of a loner, and the rest of the group liked it that way. He often sat staring at women from the sides of the cave, leering at them and making them turn their backs as they were preparing the meat. Sometimes he would knock berries out of the hands of the gatherers and cackle as the berries tumbled into the soil at the bottom of the cave. But as the winter was approaching, the problem of Quag wasn’t the most pressing one. The area around the cave had been, in recent years, depleted of game and it was getting increasingly difficult to feed everyone. The berries hadn’t been numerous enough that year, and there was danger in traveling far from the cave to hunt and pick. As the air was getting colder, the hunters spent part of their hunting trips looking for new caves that the group might be moved to. The ones who were left behind at home during the hunt made faces at Quag to amuse each other. Sometimes Quag tried to make faces or flap his arms to amuse them back, but no one ever found him funny. His antics often scared the children and made them cry. This usually made him mad, and the rest of the group knew very well he would likely throw things if they didn’t laugh at him. A group of hunters decided to force Quag to go along on the hunt to help bring home some meat and fur. For a long while the group had resented him sitting around the cave during hunting and picking. He never wanted to find the food, but he was often the first in the cave to grab a handful of berries or a new pelt when someone brought them back. The day they took him hunting, he refused to follow along with the hunters’ coordinated actions. He scared away some of the game by stomping. He refused to get into the typical formation he had seen them use before and instead ran in front of the arrows, trying to tackle the beast by himself. Despite the verbal warning of the leader, the arrows had already been thrown. Quag took a large one to the leg just as he was about to reach the animal. With Quag unable to walk, the hunt had to be cut short to allow the other hunters to drag him all the way back to the cave. That meant they couldn’t drag back the one animal they had managed to take down, and it tired them for the evening. When the hunters arrived back carrying Quag, some of the kinder members of the group tended to him, but the arrow had gone all the way through Quag’s leg and exited on the other side. Two women and one man, all inspecting the wound, gave each other knowing looks. His leg was broken. There would be little chance that he could walk again, and he would certainly never hunt. They gave him old berries to help him sleep.
lizz sh d epher quag
In the morning, the group had moved on to a new cave that had more potential game nearby. They had moved out as soon as there was light, staying quiet and moving the furs and arrows as quickly as they could. They knew he would be angry when he found them gone, and they helped each other get out of the cave quickly to avoid the noise and upset it would have caused. The new cave allowed them to fare well through the winter, with plenty of berry bushes nearby and the kind of small game they counted on during the coldest parts of the winter. However, in the spring, it didn’t keep them dry enough from the rains that moved in. Itchy, red skin drove the leader to think about the old cave. Making the sounds they heard from the birds and water outside that cave, the leader convinced them to move back. Everyone carried a bundle back, hoping there would be no terrible scene from Quag. Most of them smiled when they walked back into the group’s former home and smelled the familiar scents of moss and clean soil. A few felt sad when they saw the scattered bones along a wall that had to be those of Quag. But the group was strong, and this warm season would be a good one.
“It’s an amazing find,” Professor Stevenson said, holding up the bone to a bank of camera flashes. “It’s not just a leg bone, it’s one that had been injured by another early human. It’s proof of both early tool usage in this particular age as well as human-on-human violence,” he said, still smiling and holding the bone in the air. “What is the most significant information this bone can give us, professor?” a tall reporter in a brown blazer asked. “It is perhaps what it can’t give us that is most significant to me,” Stevenson said, looking at the bone intently. “Imagine all of the things he knew,” he said. “Imagine the wisdom of this person, the generations of knowledge and abilities that had accumulated in him. This would be someone who could teach us so much about human nature and the essence of survival. It may have been a leader, or perhaps a hunter or even an artist. It was certainly someone who was clever enough to survive to adulthood, and even to live for a time after a major injury. “Through this DNA we will try to discover more about who he was and try to assess as much as we can about his remarkable life. Perhaps the only thing we’ll never know is why we found his bones deep in a trash pit,” Stevenson said, still looking at the bone in awe.
Keepsakes Terry Trowbridge
A pensioner retrieves his electric bill from the mail and pauses to look at November’s humid gloss. He idly puts one corner of the bill between his teeth while snowflakes settle on the brittle lawn. He can hear the television through a broken window that he cannot afford to fix. Tomorrow, he will nail a blanket to the frame, but for now, he will count the snowflakes as they land on his hand and melt, and he will count each white blessing, he has them all, that make up his perfect smile.
ro wb ri dg ke e ep sa ke s
i’m not sure why Denver Jermyn
I dreamed I saw you perform in an unfamiliar cafe. you put your poetry to music and I thought it unnecessary. afterwards I ordered coffee and told jokes that didn’t impress your friends at all. as I got up to go you knew my name, said you did your research like an admirer and I didn’t understand, but we embraced, our bodies and knees tight together. I stepped out and you stepped away towards your friends. I stole a glance at the back of your head through the door. then I awoke in an empty hotel room. nothing here or there will ever look familiar.
i’ m n
Beauty Nikki Saltz
I was born in Johannesburg in a whites-only hospital. My parents wrapped me in soft cream blankets and settled me in to a three-bedroom home, with lush gardens and a concrete shed for the maid. Her name was Beauty. She had a toilet and sink by her bedside, cement floors and no electricity. She must’ve looked at the tungsten windows of our bungalow, at their warm glow, too tired and desperate to fantasize about arson. She just needed the paycheck that came with washing our shoes and pretending to love us kids. But how could she love us kids when she was so afraid of getting caught letting us share the lunch off a black woman’s plate? Peter was the garden boy, even though he was well past fifty. His white whiskers shone in the sun
lt be z au t
as he sang Xhosa love songs to the chrysanthemums. I tried to learn about flowers from him, but he’d just keep singing. When I was persistent, he’d ask me, quiet and afraid, for a cup of tea. I hurried into the house with the stealthy, soundless footsteps of a mouse getting into the cupboards with its blacks-only mugs which were not for us to drink from or touch. Us kids didn’t understand why. Beauty and Peter seemed fine but the world suggested otherwise even as Apartheid fell and exploded like landmines. Suddenly everyone needed guns. Everyone was angry with everyone. April 10, 1993: they murdered Chris Hani. My family sat around the radio trying to rub the crime from our eyes. My brother and I, we never really understood but my mother cried and my father wouldn’t stop saying “This ain’t gonna be good.” Mandela called for peace,
where there could be no peace— not for the lost, the guilty, the bystanders, and the loving families with mugs for them and mugs for us. So we fled the house, the violence, the murders, the vengeance, but our family was broken all over the world. My grandma died without her little girl and although I cried, we all knew we were still better off, having crossed the sea for progress. Progress like Michael Brown. Progress like Trayvon Martin. Progress like Sean Bell. Progress like Oscar Grant. Progress like Renisha McBride. Progress like Jonathan Ferrell. Progress like Eric Garner. My heart feels full of shame that is white and broken as porcelain, and the struggle feels hopeless as going back and tracking down Patrick and his blacks-only mug, and finding the maid in her concrete room weeping by her candle, wondering who could’ve been so cruel as to call her Beauty.
Westerly Samantha Bellinger
Forest grounded with dirty knees, ringlet-ed hair, zero control and my sun-ripening smile, I stride up towards and bound to my sky north, high north allotment without you, without anyone, just Here there are garden plots and off-leash vermin, thickets, rambunctious bushes, squat shrubs and needle-work pines. I’m going running there. You can watch me in the distance while you sit on the parched leaves. Galloping legs, true-wild and thick, bucking it all off, shaking, sucking in air. Stay where you are. I have told you time and time again: no, no and never. Unsaddle me please. Politely, divinely, let me run, alone and fast. space to breathe.