New poetry from Oumy Dembele, “MEIOSIS”

evelyn bencicova_druhe3

“Home is not where you live but where they understand you.”

-Christian Morgenstern

in Europe I’m too African
in Africa I’m too European
and in Canada I’m too French
I’m done.

How many years
have I lost
in a camouflage?
Trying to eclipse one side of myself
just to be told
that the other one is wrong?

I’m so stupid.
Self-love? Ruined.
Self-esteem? I’d like to see that.
You. Words. Irony. Jokes. Silences. Looks. Because.I.don’t.belong

It’s like seeking affection and never finding open arms, reaching out to your mum’s hand and
never grabbing it, wandering around the world, homeless, rejected by your own kind

With multiplying comes the division. It’s nature. Maybe that’s how things are supposed to be.
Maybe my home doesn’t exist.
Maybe my will is unrealistic.
Maybe my hope is a camouflage too.
To hide the ugly truth.

these words by Oumy Dembele were paired with the colour of Evelyn Bencicova

“Code Switching of the New Romance,” new prose by Kate Shaw


Spanish cropped up in their discourse in a very predictable way. Their relationship was established in English — her first language, his second — and Spanish tended to couch the more intimate sentiments. For her, it created distance — both from the topic and from him — when they traipsed into territory that was rife with vulnerability, con dudas.

—Pues ¿por qué crees que te sientes así?

Spanish, in case asking directly about his emotions was too big a threat to his masculinidad, to the machismo of his culture. Spanish to distance herself from a fair question, but one that asked for vulnerability from a new partner who maybe wasn’t ready to give it. Spanish, porque tenía miedo.

She used code-switching as a buffer, a way to protect herself when she took a tentative step into the thick haze that was an infinity of potential futures for them.

It was different for him.

—Te escondes con mi idioma.

He didn’t fear that haze. The lack of clarity was something he simply accepted as inevitable, even beautiful in its incertidumbre. His Spanish was meant to pierce it boldly, shoot it through with light — aunque efímera — so they could both see, at least for a second. See each other.

The contexts overlapped almost perfectly. If you didn’t know them — as individuals, as partners — you might think the role Spanish played for each of them was identical. You had to have a much more personal perspective to see that what allowed her to hide was what most allowed him to show.

these words by Kate Shaw were inspired by the photography of Alison Scarpulla

From the author: “What spoke to me most about the photo was the haziness of the image and the reflections. I linked the lack of visual clarity in the photo to the uncertainty of the future shared by the two characters, which they approach in different ways. The idea that a reflection appears identical to the source it reflects without actually being the same is connected to the fact that the characters use Spanish in the same contexts but with very different intentions.”

New poetry by Ivana Velickovic, “Fabric”


We no longer wait in line for apricot pits.
As the arched windows of our building
fall fast, become tombstones,
we are not there.
I let her cling to thick fabric,
dragging her feet,
leaving deep grooves in the soil
that connect small footprints and
form a map of disproportioned scale.
With a head raised to level,
pulled up only by maternal duty and disparity,
I tell her we are impenetrable.
This empty lightness
tenderly strokes her glowing eyelids to rest.
In time, she may return to the rubble,
pick bones for a living
in open fields scattered with footballs and
broken nets.

 this poem, “Fabric,” by Ivana Velickovic, was inspired by the art of Christine Kim

New poem, “Bystander,” by Jeff Blackman

Tell her not to ask what I can do.
Tell her I wish someone else would help.
Tell her I’m not joining the defense.
Tell her something she already knew.

Tell her I read but I did not share her story.
Tell her I checked in & checked away from there.
Tell her she’s not in my thoughts or prayers.
Tell her, from here, I don’t see her territory.

Tell her, here, the fall has been so long.
Tell her, here, we had the Friday off.
Tell her, today, we took a thousand photographs.
We’re working through them. Tell her it’s a slog.


this poem by Jeff Blackman was inspired by the art of Dominique Normand

New poem, “Okay for Now,” by Rachael Simpson


We’ve reached the point in the evening where
our responsible selves have fallen
asleep beside us on the floor. Now
we can talk about what troubles us.

Our voices touch like whiskers
and scratch the door.
A heaviness pulls at our sleeves.
I thought you were asleep, we say.
How much did you hear?

We put ourselves properly to bed.
Pour another glass. Something
knocks into us—

bad dream
I had another
don’t know
what to do.

We do not raise our arms.
We do not shoot questions.

Over time, the moon lines up with the window.
Glasses pile on the table
like small sunken ships.

It was right there
says someone
about a deer in the yard.
We point as though we saw it, too.

this poem by Rachael Simpson was inspired by Dominique Normand‘s painting, “Walking Out”

New poem, “Resistance,” by Francine Cunningham


can you feel the breaking?
i don’t know if it’s my heart, or something older
the cracks in my spirit are easier to see
they show themselves on my face
in the way my smile falters,
in the darkness etched under my eyes

i wake up from dreams
running in an endless loop
the skin of the earth cracking
molton fire spewing
childrens’ skeleton husks
dehydrated from the inside
hearts thudding, dust raising in chest cavities
the water of the earth running like the foretold fire
lakes and rivers burning their stories to the sky
telling about how they were ravaged
how their banks were used as dumping grounds
can you not imagine a day when the sky is painted red with the haze of endless fires?
when the black clouds of progress have spewed too much,
taken up too much space in the sky
where the ground shakes down our buildings, reduces everything to the same size
the soil only producing poison

my grandfather had a gift
could see death in his dreams
would sit at bedsides,
help souls pass over
and i have to wonder,
are the truth and future finding their way to me back to me?

the light which normally lights my soul is dimmed
the world feels somehow different, can’t you feel it?
that something out of sight has changed and we are now living in the last days
i have read the prophesies,
of the war of water, of the next culling
i have seen the brutality of our war against the earth
the way in which we seem to hate it
grind it up, rip it apart, spew our waste all over it
but i know there is life, buried like seeds, threaded throughout this prophesy
those seeds are the people and the light they carry inside of them

but my heart breaks whenever I see one of our seeds taken away
when they are pushed to hanging themselves in closets
when they are viciously beaten killed tortured, just for existing
when the very act of saying no is an affront

and have also felt the swelling of hope that comes from an act of resistance
when a woman stands up for the water
when a brother helps another up, carries him on shoulders until he can walk again
a greeting spoken in a revived language
the drums giving life to the earth
the dropping of tobacco and the cleansing smoke of pray

these are the pinpricks of light that cast my dreams into doubt
these acts are the resistance
these are seeds of hope

this poem by Francine Cunningham was inspired by Dominique Normand‘s “Two Women” 


New poem, “Sabbat,” by Leah Horlick


In years past it’s been scraps
of paper, candles, a drainful of hair —

anything to light on fire in effigy
of the calendar, walking figure eights

through Strathcona trailing rosemary
and smoke. This year I am keeping

it simple, throwing salt out of my own
eyes, casting mascara circles, going

to synagogue — I need all the help
I can get. Years past I’ve been all true love

and boundaries and I release this codependence
and this year we are just basic, elemental — protect the land,
protect the water, the people protecting the land

and the water, forgive me for the sin of succumbing
to despair.
All the witches are indoors soothing

their pets from the firecrackers, toilet paper ghosts
stranded out in the wet trees. Today you wanted to show me
the last blaze of that tiny arbutus in the traffic circle on your way
to work and you turned me into a red trail of feathered leaves. The best

thirty-five dollars I spent all year was on a psychic who told me
to learn to say not yet. I need all the help I can get. I sweep out

the devils. I zip up our house like a tent. A bright ember,
a blue gem in the slick black fur

of this city. The tiny, solid fire of you
at the centre of my life.

this poem by Leah Horlick was inspired by Dominique Normand‘s art 

“Buzz,” prose inspired by Nikoladze’s sound machine

L says to T, “Do you ever hear sounds coming from your fingers?” She’s examining the tips of her fingers, the little grooves put there by the strings of T’s guitar. She holds her fingers to her ears. “I swear I can hear a buzzing sound.” L is learning to play. Ever since T told her that guitars have songs trapped in them waiting to get out, she’s been practicing. One day I’ll free them all, she thinks.

“I don’t actually believe that, you know,” T says, “that thing about songs being trapped in guitars. It’s just something some musician said ‘cause it sounds cool.”

L says the real reason she’s practicing is because she wants T to fall in love with her. Then she says, “Just kidding,” because she is, partly, though another part of her isn’t. She’s seen the way he looks at those girls in bands when they go see shows. Bass players, keyboardists, lead singers playing guitar.

L watches YouTube videos of people playing songs on the guitar and tries to imitate what they’re doing. Most of the time the people in the videos talk too fast, or the camera angle is off and she can’t see where they’re placing their fingers. Rewind, pause. Rewind, pause. Find a different video to watch.

T is out seeing bands every night now. He usually calls and asks L to come but then he’ll say things like, “But if you’re tired, don’t worry about it,” or “I think those guys won’t go on until late, so it’s okay if you don’t want to.” So, she stays home and practices until her fingers burn. Sometime after midnight, she goes to bed with aching hands and wrists, and falls asleep imagining her fingers are red and glowing under the bedsheets.

The next week L barely hears from T at all, just one text that says, “Hope your week’s going okay. Let’s hang out soon,” followed by a champagne bottle emoticon. She types, “Okay, sounds good,” then stops before sending it. She erases her reply. According to the formula—take the total time you’ve been dating someone and divide it by two—she’ll forget about T in about a month or so.

On the bus, she examines her white calloused fingertips now permanently indented from the stress of the guitar strings. She thinks of the tips of T’s fingers, remembers how they looked the same as hers do now, dry, white, torn, how they felt rough on her cheek when he touched her face. She places her own rough fingertips against her cheeks then moves them back towards her ears so she can hear the buzzing sound again. She wonders if maybe one of the songs that was trapped in T’s guitar has crawled out of it and into her fingers. Whatever it is, it isn’t a very good song, she thinks. There’s no melody to it. It’s just a bunch of random notes and pitches. When trapped songs are freed, do they need to be decoded somehow?

L is listening so hard to her fingers that she misses her stop and has to backtrack two blocks in the rain to her apartment. When she gets inside, she takes off her coat and hangs it in the bathroom so it can drip into the tub. She goes to the living room to get the guitar but it’s gone. Then she remembers T still has her spare key.

She stands there in the middle of the living room and closes her eyes, lets her feet sink into the floor like she’s standing in an inch of warm water. Her fingers are vibrating now and the room is filling up with the buzzing sound and without even realizing it, she starts to hum along.

words, “Buzz,” by Tariq Hussain, were inspired by the colour of Koka Nikoladze

Poetry inspired by Film: “Pieces”

New Blue Eyes
This Sudden and Correct Amount of Mirrors for The Modern Age
Agoraphobia: Nature Is A Solid
Slum Knock
Shame Follows Intellect: Home Edition
The Foulest Ball
The Curtain No Longer Drawn, The Yard Dreaming Itself Into Rooms
…Now Throw Your Rope
Jealousy: It’s What’s In The Mix
convins me ths flor is betr sharp
Approaching Grief (When You’ve So Long Been Stone)
Clear Tape Need
“Through Ares’ Ire, The Whole Of Mars Made Snow Globe”
Pearls Remember Glass
Squirrels Run On Power
So You Think You Can Dance While Burgling?
Saskatchewan Kaleidoscope
Chaos Tracing Hot Heart Shapes Into Stuck, and Disparate Trees
A Single Sailing Arrow
Was A Secret
Commit To Pieces
Peter’s Gate
Portrait of an Artist as an Old Photo of My Dad Leaning Against His Siren Red Chevelle
“Move Me And My Dead Starling To The Sill For One Last Look At Those Avocado Trees”
Everything’s Coming Up Dustpan
A Handy Guide For Zero
Not For Solitary
A Garrison Tinkle
“What’s A Former Square?”

word, “Pieces,” by Justin Million, inspired by the colour, “Yet to be titled,” by Koka Nikoladze