“Tiny Stones” – Leah Horlick


Whether or not it was you
who set off the firecracker in my backyard, all that matters
is that I thought
it was you,

writing to the landlords I’m just sending this to you now
so that in the morning
I don’t think that this was a dream.

I await the presence of someone who understands
the genetic impact of a siren. I pull a siren
around me and glow silent, I pull a web of nerve endings

over my own face and touch everything like it is covered in dust—
dust is a shawl, dust is a veil of static. I reach a hand through
thick white noise towards a feeling.

Everything you say sends me further into myself
whether you like it or not, whether you mean it.

I fell off the horse into a bush of thorns and it was a choice between
the thorns and the hooves—can you guess which I chose?

I overwhelm my house with peonies.
When I go home I shut the door and my

eyes and my phone in a drawer
and I sleep. In the morning I look at the Internet to remember

what I look like. I drink so much water
I boil everything—

basil and rose petals,
yarrow and chamomile,

eyeliner and sitting in the dark theatre.

I slowly weigh myself
down with tiny stones.

I hide another set
of eyes beneath my dress.

I slowly accept that this new scar will come out
every time I sit
in the sun.

Sometimes I call it having a flashback.

Other times I just
like to have everything
in one place to get a good hard look
at my life.


these words by Leah Horlick were inspired by the work of Olaf Hajek

“City” – Samantha Lapierre


City, please be gentle with me. Be kind when I close my eyes and the pitch black becomes starry neon lights. Be sympathetic when I ride the streetcar alone, when I fall on the sidewalk and bust my knee open, when I descend wobbly stairs into basement bars illuminated with glowing red lights.

There are streets lined with Internet cafés, shadowy music halls and hole-in-the-walls that all house anonymity. I feel like a very small anonymous blip on your ever-growing radar.

Our necks twist and turn as we leer to recognize a familiar face. We pick fresh fruit from the market stands; cars whiz by and I hear a bicycle bell in the distance. Dead fish rest in storefront windows and people shuffle by. Everybody is hastily going about their own business.

I’ve given you a year of my life, and I’m not sure how much more I have left to give. City, please be gentle with me.


these words by Samantha Lapierre were inspired by the work of Olaf Hajek


“Seeds” – Erin Flegg


For two weeks straight we lay flagstone, my head emptied of any thought that isn’t engage your core, what happens when we’re married, lift from your legs, how do bodies shift, protect your wrists.

We work every day, more hours than we’re used to, to finish the job before a deadline imposed by a surgery that will change everything, but only a little.

When we finish you tell me you have a surprise for me. We get in the truck packed full with tools and gravel and lunch scraps and you drive me to the nearest nursery, tell me I can have any plant I want.

In my excitement I forget to lock the passenger door, drop dust and crumbs from my clothes as I touch dry hands to shelves of zinnias and calibrachoa, different colours than the ones already hanging in a pot on our deck. On the boulevard is a bed of poppies, paper thin and swaying yellow and orange. I’ve been trying for years to grow poppies but the morning glory always ravage them below ground. Shadowy invaders hide behind pale blooms and grow large on a diet of my tulip and crocus bulbs. Seeds and seeds and seeds and no fruit.

In the spring I planted seeds in plastic pots indoors, hoping to keep them safe on the second floor. I worry about them more than I did last year, probably something to do with turning 30, ticking clocks and revolution.

In the back of the nursery there are Icelandic poppies, big and showing pink at the tips of their pods, about to burst. I consider one, its stalk thick and hardy, its tallest pod independent but inviting. I imagine it in the backyard, then take a step back from the display. I think about my existing allegiances, the potential still buried in poor dirt and plastic. I want it, but I shouldn’t. Too much is already at stake, too much time spent comforting my own frilly green leaves as they attempt to sprout stalks and pods of their own. I have to give them a proper chance. They’re so delicate, the comparison might crush them, and I can’t sacrifice any more flowers.

One shelf over are the anemones, white with yellow centres. They’re nice but they’re not enough. Don’t fuck it up, you say, poking me gently in one rib and smiling. This is very important.

There’s a plant I don’t recognize. There are no flowers, just wide flat green leaves on narrow stems, fanned out like enormous nasturtiums. On the tag is a dark flower. It’s a hollyhock, or at least it will be. The tag says it will bloom deep burgundy and solid, almost black except for tiny yellow centres, by late summer. I pick it up and try not to imagine what it will look like, leave space in my mind for it’s unfurling.

I carry it on my lap in the passenger seat, dig a hole in the ground in front of our house and plant it. I press the dirt in with my hands and sit down next to it. Everything will change, but only a little.


these words by Erin Flegg were inspired by the work of Olaf Hajek

“Foxglove” – Keah Hansen


Rough hands
The open ended
For life
In this chalked over
Of soil
Worms and cat
Be damned
Packets of seeds
In the barren
Echo chambers
Stained with
Small blight
Residue of last years
Failed perennials
Soils that seem
To collect rocks
Like rainwater
Save the draining.

I tend
To pull
This dirt up
In sparkles
And turn the stones
To mica
Splashed between
The sun and
Looking damp
As if to quench
Though offering
Hope in
The cast-off shapes
Of stalks I
Pulled out
Piece by piece
Last year with my
Arms all crossed
To stop the flint
Caged inside
My ribs
From being sodden
By the storms
Some plant life
Seems to

This year
Is no different
My chin
A spade
I’m making
Place for you
By shaking my head yes
Or no
Learning how
To till the soils best
Most oxygenated
And minerals peopled
In healthy
I’m counting
The hours
Until the bells
In your blooms
I think
They’d sound
Like milk drops
The dew
I taste
In new growth
Your petals
Cupped in joy
Like feet flexed
With root systems
Made proverbs
My questions
In anachronisms.

The wind returned
And familiar.


these words by Keah Hansen were inspired by the work of Olaf Hajek

how to escape a whale


Becca’s leaving the city. She’s accepted this: after the fight, the crying, the insults neither really meant or believed, after all the ways in which they’ve hurt each other – it’s time. She’s leaving. It’s not just him. There is, after all, a whole city. She could avoid him if she wanted to. But it’s that, it’s the city: The city is the problem.

Lately, she suspects that the city is following her – the same placid towers, the same ageless fire hydrants, the same cheery, nondescript shops trailing her from block to block. Its serenity, its immutability, make her want to scream in her state of perilous irritation. She used to love the city.

She used to hum to herself as she walked through it. She used to smile at strangers on its streets.

Now, especially at night, it seems smug. Streetlights glow with calculated eeriness. Its inexplicable rustlings take on a self-important tone, as if to prove that industry and vigor will always exist in the city.

She had come here to feel that things were happening. Even when she herself was doing nothing, she could walk out onto the street and smoke a cigarette and watch the million odd goings-on passing her by and feel that the night was not wasted. Look, a man in a velour suit with an iguana on his wrist – pet or accessory? And over there, those two women, well-dressed, middle-aged, wearing a bit too much bronzer perhaps, that woman has just stuck her ice cream cone directly into the face of her friend.

She wanted to go to street markets, to art galleries, to neighbourhoods she’d never seen before, and partake in culture and romance and all of the borrowed nostalgia of other people’s lives.

She wanted to go out at midnight and get drunk on gin and tonics and revel in the sad, seen-it-all glamour.

It was her who had loved the city. Not him. They’d had an argument once: he’d told her that living in the city was like being a mite on the back of a great, eternal animal: You could drop right off and nothing would change. But you could also burrow your own tiny hole in the surface of the animal, and you would be free to do so. The city would continue in its forward momentum, unbothered by the specks living on its skin.

“That’s ludicrous,” she’d said. “We anthropomorphize cities, giving them entities, but they’re just made up of people. If we all disappeared, they wouldn’t keep going on their own.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“A city is not a tree with no one to hear it. Besides,” she’d added, “look at Detroit.”

Becca’s leaving the city. Every time she tries to picture being somewhere else, she can only see herself floating: Treading water, she watches its million winking points of light recede into the dark.

word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd 

colour by Carlo Stanga