Archive for October, 2015

pirie

Paper.

If I did not list what I wanted, how could I recall all I desire? Thousands of feet of produce.
Such magic cannot come without cost. Celery then carrots, or carrots, or celery.

Almost any paper can and may not not be used against you. Create a distance. Drop this now.

Paper itself evokes chopping, bouquets of thistles and bratwurst. Alyssums. A hug of Alsatians.
(Release the pounds!)
No, keep it. Secret pocket. This paper will self-instruct in—

Plates.

Consequently, a breakfast and a plate: the meal evokes morning. Ceramic manifests pleasure
in shine as a person, out of frame, eats. The plate is for holding food. A plate is for kefi
the irrepressible expression of emotion and joy. Excessive sorrow laughs. Excessive joy weeps.
William Blake nailed it like a crucifix.

In Greece no one throws 1 euro plates anymore. To say opa!—no charge. Flowers,
for sale at cafés to tourists, are thrown, as displaced people watch, beg, incense.

Many things cause hunger. Many things cause hunger’s loss. To remortgage
your hope may cost you your hope. A chip off the old plate.
A ship off the old port. A slip off the old anchor of and/or.

A plate evokes cutlery, company, civility’s failed remarks. Perhaps, it evokes running.
To rephrase, it is netflix and cable bills and obligations to be punctual and productive.

To paraphrase, always carry i.d. It’s like a LARP for a New Canada. You too
can be a Person Without State. This is cooked. This is char’s fragrance. This
is hard to track with dumb noses. It evokes motives, signal, fragility, bank accounts.

Cart.

For today’s purposes, herbs, canned fruit, 7 melons to ball, an overproduction of order.
Once enough food has been gathered, a party is the natural outcome. To this end, it is known to some
as 축제. i.e., it evokes local. Slow. Slow. In Egypt, chouai chouai. Even sex also has to fry
its turnips one side at a time. The metal mesh. The cart, the deep fryer, the potatoes’ kitchen jailor.

A sweet potato cries a syrup which is a sugar, which remains the opposite of salty-bitter,
opposite of bland, opposite of spicy, opposite of savoury. A raw sweet potato is a hammer.
Is an impact. Poor man, smelt the hammer to make nails and staples to fasten down the world
in a vacationer’s paradise. Where is your hammer. Where is your lunch. Decisions of consumption
are made with the body’s intuition, in the unconscious systems, not in the verbal.

Bodies.

The cow walks on her mouth. Cows are more than their milk and stolen boys. Cows are
their lowing, their loving cups of hooves, how they leave their broken O O O O over the earth.

Nothing needs articulation but limbs, yet how to not move the tongue.  It takes the soles
more energy to lean, or stand on peg-legs than to walk a new pace. So, go, autopilot
as the Jetsons, as the 50s, as forgivenesses, as all the body releases back.

Produce.

Understand me when I assure you that sex, I mean, avocados, doesn’t knowingly
sell wasabi as guacamole, but sex is just a middleman and as impartial as to soap.
Curiosity is an asylum. What we never knew we wanted can be bought
and googled and consumed.

Until now, a carrot has been known to some as a reluctant vitamin A and to others as a vigour,
interchangeable with a banana as a tool for a mind, just as a 香蕉 is a symbool.
Forgive us our vegetables, our lack of permanent woody stems,
our શાકભાજી, our سبزی. brothers that share our one air.

Hands.

My håndskrift counts against me. Mind remains the plural of mind. The tzatziki
is tiki lights, is beach barbecue, is pit cooking, is rafts, is bikini, is salty, is saucy, is white,
is spilled on the sand. Canned pineapple has been canned since 1903. Fruit is sex for sale
while showing too many teeth, but that’s just nerves.

Want squeezes around our knowing and no-ledge like so much melted cheese.
Ham is product placement in other shopper’s cart. The opposite of palaeolithic
is a tongue’s periodical. Desire is carefully placed conversational plants
of chitchat with chaps. A ham and a bowl evoke hemispheres, empty and full.
Each day is the haute cuisine of our denials.

Bakery.

Hesitation before answering is the answer. Agreed, a slice and a cake: a slice is not a whole.
Is a jaw’s muscle memory. A cake evokes celebration, retirements, birthdays, funeral wakes.
Is fruit is topped with English cream. Is a slippery slick slope. Is a muddiness, is a speed,
is a startle chased, rolling tumble with a fate complete. aAfat accompli. Is no change of clothes.
Is gap of dunno. Is laughter. Is self-deprecation. Is self with little room left to lose value.
To rephrase, it is an album. It is a snapshot. It is a pixel. It is a pixie. It is a mischief.
It is prochief. It is proficient. It is taking that gleeful stab. There is No Next Lifetime.

The cake evokes batter, heat. All is a factor, a factory, a fire. Is a loaf to a flame.
Is a rock to the lame. Is a limping.  Cake is age, mortality, death. Just one, a single piece,
a single. Senki. No one. Each thing is on the plate without touching. Each person
in the room without touching. Each word in the earhair without, well, echo.
(Ma, sad mole’s trying to steal the soapbox again.)
Out of step is a kind of blessing.
How many soldiers on the bridge must march to set up a sympathetic vibration to shatter it?
Angers Bridge, 1850. 483 soldiers and 4 curiosity seekers and a thunderstorm wind.

Light.

I stand, but, the rhythms, they refused me first. Light is a vision of itself.
In this way, light is a particle mirror. It is a cleanse diet of butter tarts.
A jesus blowing music into a saxophone. Air out is a potent aphrodisiac.
Relentlessly whimsical, the multitudes net out to have one collective gender,
a choir of heartsongs in a band so wide left side cannot hear harmony of right.

Check the pockets of sunlight for change and other weapons.
There are days when sunlight is just a deterrent. Is just a detergent.
Days when lemon and lime can’t find enough sugar to bind them.
It’s the oxygen that eats the wick, the paper, is the smoking cigarette,
is a μπανάνα is a sigaro is a carrot stick clenched and snapped.


 

Pearl Pirie writes like nite-lites but without electricity sometimes. Her most recent book is the pet radish, shrunken (BookThug, 2015).

She can be found at www.pearlpirie.com.

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macdonald2“A rabbit can lie like garbage on the roadside, a wrapper flattened and flung by the rubber roar of petroleum fire,”

janzen

If only I could forget Jack’s party. It was in early February, or was it March? We were invited by a little dirty card. I say dirty because that was the state of the paper, with smeary fingerprints, and a ripped corner, not that it was pornographic. In fact, he used a kid’s invitation with a clown on the front. He must have dropped it in our mailbox. I said to K—let’s not go, okay? let’s not. And K said—I know why you’re saying that. And I understand. But not going is not an option. I wish you hadn’t even said it.

I told K—but I’ve already said it.

K is often confusing like this. Denying reality. As if the two of us could stick our fingers in our ears and sit down in a corner of our cluttered living room and make up our own reality if we could just agree on what it is.

And if K is like I’m saying then Jack is several notches up on the dial. Jack’s house is like another reality. You never know what you will find. I thought he was a hoarder because the first time we visited, his house was full of ancient puppets, vinyl records, board games, and piles of costume jewellery from the 1950s. I told K my opinion, but K just laughed—you’ll see K said.

Then the next time we went there, the whole place was empty. We sat on the floor with four others drinking red wine from Dixie cups and there wasn’t a stick of furniture in the place. I didn’t understand what anyone was talking about. At the end of the night, Jack went upstairs and came back with a black snake coiled around his arm.

Another time it was people speaking Chinese or something like that, sharing home-cooked noodles so spicy they made me sick.

There was the collection of discarded Tim Horton’s cups a few months later. Jack took us around and told us where they had been found. He had written out a little card for each one. Hundreds. I didn’t wait for him to get through more than twenty.

I am a nervous person and I like to know what’s going to happen, so as time went on, even the suggestion of Jack’s house made my skin contract in a chilly sweat. What K thought of Jack is hard to know. He never agreed with me when I said—Jack is crazy. K said—Jack is an artist.

It was so cold the night of Jack’s party. I was wearing a parka and could hardly see a thing because the fake fur was in my eyes. K knocked on the door but no one answered for a long time.

Oh God, now I’ve built it up and you will want me to describe it. You’ve listened this long wondering what on earth happened at Jack’s party. You know you might have to say—there, there. You know you might have to calm me down if I get hysterical, but still, you want me to tell you about it.

But I told you at the beginning. I don’t want to remember. I have no idea why I’ve even told you this much.

Beth E. Janzen’s  fiction has appeared in Riptides: New Island Fiction and in Galleon III. Her poetry has been published in journals such as The Antigonish Review, Grain, and The Malahat Review. Her book of poetry The Enchanted House (Acorn) was nominated for the PEI book award in 2008.

She can be be found at: www.bethejanzen.com

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pirie“Cows are more than their milk and stolen boys. Cows are their lowing, their loving cups of hooves, how they leave their broken O O O O over the earth.”

savage

“I tried to set up something new,”  the impala announces into the phone. “From now on the rule has to be NO DRAMA.” Silence, not so much as a whisper or a rustle of inner speak. As he listens, his ears twitch, and he rubs his soft, mobile muzzle with one of his front hooves. “I don’t want to lose you,”  he says. Then, “I love you, too.”

[Author’s note:  The “dialogue” was collected, as aural litter, from a phone conversation by the man (Impala) in front of me in an airport line up.]

Candace Savage talks to herself incessantly (inner speak) and occasionally writes things down. She lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

She can be found at www.candacesavage.ca

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janzen“We sat on the floor with four others drinking red wine from Dixie cups and there wasn’t a stick of furniture in the place.”

hegerat

I’ve dropped three of the four pieces of litter in a construction dumpster. I’m on my way to a reading at Loft 112 in the East Village in Calgary, an area in transition. New, new, new, springing up around the over-crowded refuges and their clientele.

I’m doing this because our mayor, Naheed Nenshi told me to. No, no. He didn’t tell me to go to the reading, although if he’d personally invited me I would have been there half an hour early. If I’m lucky I’ll arrive before the break and in time for wine. If I’m lucky, before I get there I’ll also dispose of litter #4, an envelope I’ve wrapped in several layers of crumpled tissue and stuffed into the deep pocket of my raincoat.

No, the challenge our mayor issued to the good citizens of Calgary was to keep our city clean, to pick up litter wherever we see it. My husband claims the mayor specified “four pieces of litter each” but I’m sure the mayor said that one in four litter picker-upper citizens could make the difference. I don’t pick up my neighbours’ litter when I’m out for a stroll. That’s their responsibility. But here, when I crossed the garbage strewn vacant lot, I pulled myself up short when my first reaction was that someone should do something about this mess. Ah, Conscience, you have such messy priorities. And so – four pieces.

Why keep the envelope? I can feel it in my pocket while I’m schmoozing, sipping wine with my fellow writers. Because many a good story has begun with the arrival of an unexpected letter? In this case, the envelope bears only a printed TO: Nicholas in the upper right corner. But I know there is more. I gingerly lifted the flap and saw the single folded sheet of ruled paper ripped from a coil pad.

Back on the street, I pull the envelope from the swathing of tissue and as gingerly as I picked it up an hour ago, use my fingertips to remove, unfold the lined message.

Nicky me and Katie miss you Mum’s not doing so good. I seen Deeno the other day and he says your still around and he thinks maybe at that homeless place at night. I hope this gets to you cause you have to come home. Love your brother Kevin.

This is an old story. A sad one I’m not even tempted to steal. But tomorrow, Monday morning, I am going to hand deliver this letter to Mayor Nenshi’s office, with a note telling him that litter is no big deal. Homelessness and sad kids are The Big Deal. And I am issuing him the challenge of finding Nicholas and making sure this city gets things right and picks up the Nickys and Katies and Kevins and their mums who are lying at the side of the road.

Betty Jane Hegerat  is a Calgary writer, occasional teacher, for whom one of the greatest benefits of writing has been her membership in a huge community of writers.  Betty Jane is the author of two novels, a collection of short stories, and a work of creative non-fiction that is a hybrid of fiction, memoir and investigative journalism. Her short fiction and essays have been published in various literary magazines and anthologies.  Her newest work, a novel for teens, will be published by Oolichan Books in Februrary 2016.  At the 2015 Alberta Book Awards, Betty Jane was the recipient of the Golden Pen Award for Lifetime Achievement in Writing. She was deeply honoured and humbled by this recognition.

She can be found at http://bettyjanehegerat.com

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savage“From now on the rule has to be NO DRAMA.”

gordon

Mary Poppins had more than magic, she had certainty. Maria was all golden doubt. But both characters faithfully provided childcare. I work too regularly to be flighty-Mary or Mrs. Banks-the-suffragette & I never liked older men, so where does that leave me? Able to vote & marry for love, that’s what. Most nights, I want to slump in a chair, looking at feminist porn on my phone, but I make dinner & shuffle laundry. I move the mental furniture around. But the older I get, the less I’m sure of and even Julie Andrews lost most of her voice & then her husband. When I walk in the woods, I fill my bag with other people’s trash. It doesn’t make me any sunnier. But when I fight with my partner, I can instantly access my mother’s despair, like it was a necklace she’d passed down. A blasted heirloom. She was too smart for her own good, their friends muttered, as they watched my father move out. Characters on TV sitcoms proclaim “Happy wife, happy life,” but I told my partner that if he ever tried to apologize with jewellery, I’d leave him.

 

Ariel Gordon is a Winnipeg writer. Her second collection of poetry, Stowaways (Palimpsest Press, 2014), won the 2015 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. When not being bookish, Ariel likes tromping through the woods and taking macro photographs of mushrooms.

 
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hegerat“I’m doing this because our mayor, Naheed Nenshi, told me to.”

oops

Posted: October 12, 2015 in allison howard
Tags: , , , ,

howard

“Hey, Matt, what’s up, man?”

“Dude, best news ever, parents are gone for the whole friggin’ loooong weekend. Party central at our place!”

“No way… cool. Let’s get the word out.”

* * *

“Hey, best blowout ever, man! Three days of non-stop partee! Better get this shit cleaned up before your parents get back.”

“Yeah, no biggie, but I still have to mow the frickin’ lawn.”

“Anything else you were supposed to do?”

“Nope, that was it.”

“Cool. Hey, man… do you notice like a… weird smell?”

Allison Howard co-edited A Memoir of Friendship: The Letters Between Carol Shields and Blanche Howard (Penguin 2007) as a joint project with her mother and co-writer, Blanche Howard, and has been published in York University’s, Canadian Woman Studies. She is a former social worker living in Penticton, B.C.

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gordon“I want to slump in a chair, looking at feminist porn on my phone,”

drunk

Posted: October 8, 2015 in rolli
Tags: , , , ,

rolli

I can’t remember why I started drinking, even. I used to be able to remember. Then I forgot.
“You should see a therapist,” Janice told me. My sister.
“It’s not that big a problem,” I said. “Not yet.”
Janice grabbed my neck.
“Just go. It worked for Dad. And for Mom. Do you want to end up like Biscuit?”
I stared at the table.
I was pretty drunk.
We finished our drinks.
On the way out, I grabbed Janice’s neck. Or I would’ve fallen down.
I apologized.
“Thanks for breakfast,” she said.

Mom let me taste her margaritas. Growing up. Just one sip from each one. She could knock back quite a few.
“Doesn’t that taste awful?” she always said.
I always answered, “Yes.”
“So you’ll never drink them when you’re older?”
I always said “No.” Every time.
One night, coming back from a friend’s, I found my dad lying on his back on the lawn.
I helped him up. It was minus twenty.
“You forget how cold snow gets,” he said.
I helped him to the bedroom.
Mom was lying on the bedroom floor.
Biscuit and I picked her up and lay her on the bed next to Dad.
She opened her eyes for a second.
“Don’t tell my kids I was drinking,” she whispered.

Dr. Hollowood looked the part. He had hardly any hair, just a few scratches on the side. And glasses.
Though his office wasn’t like I’d pictured. There were no bookshelves or sumptuous carpets. There was no couch. There was a chair.
“Why do you drink?” he asked.
“I have no idea,” I said.
“Try to think.”
I thought as hard as I could. I was drunk.
“What are you thinking of?”
“What was the question again?”
We talked for maybe half an hour.
Dr. Hollowood looked at his watch.
“That’s all the time we have today. It’s my daughter’s wedding.”
I was wondering about the tux.

The saddest people in the world get together every morning. They wait in line for the liquor store to open.
I know most of them, though not really.
I was waiting in line.
The woman at the front of the line kept rubbing her face.
There was a young guy by the door. Sitting behind an empty guitar case. He didn’t have a guitar. I guess he was hoping for the best.
“It’s 10:01,” said the woman at the front, tapping on the glass.
The door opened.
On my way in, I tossed a quarter into the guitar case.
The guy looked up and smiled.
He still had a few good teeth.

Dr. Hollowood crossed his legs.
“Did you have a happy childhood?”
I knew he was going to say that.
“It was pretty happy, yeah.”
“You mentioned your parents were both alcoholics?”
“Yeah.”
“I guess I was happy anyway. I was a kid. It’s strange how that works.”
“How do you mean?”
“Well… You’re unhappy as a kid. But you’ll never be that happy again.”
Dr. Hollowood touched his chin.
The door opened. A man ran into the room.
“It happened again,” he said.

I met Janice for lunch.
It was May 23rd. I hoped she wouldn’t remember.
“You’re looking better,” she said.
“I’ve had maybe one or two drinks,” I said proudly.
I’d actually had three.
I hadn’t been that sober in a long time.
Janice looked wistful. She poked her spaghetti wistfully.
“You know, it’s been ten years.”
I knew she was going to say that.
“Hard to believe it. Ten years since—”
“I’ve gotta go,” I said, getting up. “See Dr. Hollowood.”
I grabbed my coat.
Janice rubbed my hand.
“Lunch is on me,” she said.

It was just about 10:00.
The woman at the front of the line was trying to rub her face off.
The guy behind the guitar case was sleeping.
The door opened.
When I got to the door, I stopped.
“I don’t want to do this anymore,” I said out loud.
I tossed two quarters into the guitar case.
The guy didn’t even wake up.

When I was seventeen and he was nineteen, my brother was driving us home from a party. We’d both been drinking. A car jumped over the median and hit us.
I remember … we were upside down.
I undid my seatbelt and fell down.
I undid Biscuit’s seatbelt and he fell down.
They think his neck was broken already.

Dr. Hollowood and I went golfing.
The first swing, I sliced pretty bad.
Dr. Hollowood lined himself up.
“It’s a matter of confidence,” he said. “Imagine the greatest golfer in the world. You’re him—only you’re better.”
He swung.
The ball landed right on the green.
I tried it. I imagined I was the best golfer in the world. I don’t really follow golf. I thought of Jack Nicklaus.
I hit the ball.
I hooked it, this time.
“Now you’re overconfident,” said Dr. Hollowood, laughing.
I lifted my club like I was going to smash it.
“You know what,” I said. “That’s it. Maybe that’s it. My drinking. My confidence. I basically have zero confidence.”
“Genetics is also a strong factor,” said Dr. Hollowood.
“You’re probably right,” I said.

I met Janice for dinner. It was my turn to pay—usually I’d pick someplace cheap—but I was saving so much by hardly drinking, I thought what the hell. We ate at Chez Pedro.
“You look great,” said Janice.
“I’m sober,” I said. I was.
A taco shouldn’t cost $30. I ate it slowly.
Janice stared at the table.
“I’ve got some flowers in the car,” she said. “You … want to come?”
“No,” I said. “I can’t deal with it.”
“No problem,” she said. “I understand.”
I stared at the table.
“What the hell,” I said, looking up. “Let’s go.”
Janice smiled.

There’s a ritzy cemetery downtown. Biscuit’s buried in the cemetery across from it.
Most of the headstones are pretty small and cheap. When I saw how shitty Biscuit’s looked in comparison—I’d never been there—my parents didn’t have a lot of money—I cried, just about. It was just an iron bar. The across part had fallen off.
Janice put the flowers down and cried.
I felt horrible. I needed a drink.
I hugged her.
It was bad.
It wasn’t that bad.

I saw Dr. Hollowood once a month. He recommended three times, but that’s a lot of money.
I had an appointment.
I was waiting to cross the street.
“Is my zipper open?” said the guy beside me.
It wasn’t.
He looked down.
“Is my dick out?”
I shook my head. A couple times.
He looked horrified.
“Then that means … I just pissed myself.”
I didn’t even laugh. It could’ve been me.
It was me. Just a few months ago.

I haven’t gotten drunk in a year. I haven’t had a drink in six months.
It’s not a long time.
It’s a long time.
One morning, walking past the liquor store, I was barely even tempted, I saw the guy with the case. He had a guitar now, too.
I’m not sure why. But I smiled.

Rolli  is a writer and cartoonist from Regina, SK, Canada. He’s the author of two short story collections (I Am Currently Working On a Novel  and God’s Autobio), two books of poems (Mavor’s Bones and Plum Stuff), the middle grade story collection Dr. Franklin’s Staticy Cat and two forthcoming novels – Kabungo (Anansi/Groundwood, 2016) andThe Sea-Wave (Guernica Editions, 2016). As a creative columnist for The Walrus, Rolli publishes a new short story and cartoon every week at thewalrus.ca. His cartoons appear regularly in The Wall Street JournalReader’s Digest, Harvard Business Review, Adbusters and other popular outlets. Visit Rolli’s website and follow him on Twitter @rolliwrites.

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howard“Anything else you were supposed to do?”