Archive for November, 2015



Do you already regret the wedding?

Are you into conceptual art?

Or did you hope that someone would come to brush the petals with her fingertip

and know that they were real?

Rona Maynard is the author of a memoir, My Mother’s Daughter, the leader of a one-day memoir workshop and a speaker known for mental health advocacy. Many readers remember her as former Editor of Chatelaine.

(Photo by Rona Maynard)



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abdou“a bike or skateboard wavered”



Flashlight, doesn’t work. Pencil sharpener, doesn’t work. Salad dressing jar with stirring device, doesn’t work. Too inexpensive to warrant returning. Gas, time, et cetera. Garbage. Garbage can, doesn’t work. I step on the lid-opening pedal, and the lid doesn’t open. It sticks. I bang on the lid, then kick it. It rolls across the kitchen, makes a dent in the drywall. It still doesn’t work. I throw all of the above, including garbage can, in a box and put it on the curb.

You’d pay me less, but then you’d go to jail. So you pay me the least possible, according to the law. New opportunities for profitable investment, this is what you are waiting for. While you wait, you suffocate in goods you cannot sell. I suffocate in goods that don’t work. I have stopped making goods and am now making administration and service. They, over there somewhere, are making strange little items out of shiny, colorful plastic with multiple moving pieces that will, upon arrival, not work.

Sunglasses, don’t work either. One lens is darker than the other, causing dizziness and inability to see what’s out there. What is out there? Me, you, they, a planet, but: is it working?

Your cookie, post-meal at the upscale Chinese restaurant in the cosmopolis, tells you that great fortune comes to those who take advantage of the combination of substantial dislocations and greater ability to produce at scale. Lucky you!


Katja Rudolph’s  novel Little Bastards in Springtime  was nominated for the 2015 Evergreen Award. It’s about a refugee fleeing war. Though it takes place in the mid-90s, it’s tragically topical. Katja lives in Toronto with her people and is at work on her third book. Her second, The Year, is epic in length and scope and is being edited. Do you like a long read? Katja does.

She can be found at and @katjarudolph



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peonies“Do you already regret the wedding?”



—on a southern train
—on a midnight train
—(over and over again)
—on a jet plane

making tracks
making a break for it
on the lam
calling it a day
blowing the joint

heading for the hills
pulling up stakes
hanging up the fiddle
throwing in the towel
hoisting the blue peter
lighting out for the country

beating a retreat
hitting the road
striking a blow for freedom

getting lost
shoving off
taking off toddling off trotting off
taking a powder
taking wing
taking to my heels


hightailing it
weighing anchor

—off to the wild blue yonder


Toronto poet and essayist Maureen Scott Harris  has published three poetry collections. Drowning Lessons (Pedlar Press, 2004) was awarded the 2005 Trillium Book Award for Poetry; Slow Curve Out (Pedlar Press, 2012), was shortlisted for the League of Canadian Poets’ Pat Lowther Award. Harris’s essays have won the Prairie Fire Creative Nonfiction Prize, and the WildCare Tasmania Nature Writing Prize, which included a residency at Lake St. Clair, Tasmania. In 2012-2013 she was Artist-in-Residence at the Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hill, north of Toronto. Since 2012 she has worked with Helen Mills of Lost Rivers Toronto, designing poetry walks that follow the city’s (sometimes buried) rivers and streams. Waters Remembered, a chapbook, will be published by paperplates in Spring 2016.


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rudolph“You’d pay me less, but then you’d go to jail.”



First thing I notice: my litter doesn’t look like litter, although it was indeed (I’ve been assured) found littering the street.

Second thing I notice: my litter has no URL. Where has it been for more than two decades?

Research tells me Waddingtons is a publisher of cards and board games.

Research also tells me that in 1941 the British Secret Service had Waddingtons create a special edition of Monopoly for World War II prisoners of war held by the Germans. Hidden inside these games, distributed by the International Red Cross, were maps, compasses, real money and other objects useful for escaping.

At this point I move far, far away from making the actual litter bit the feature of this post; it’s merely the kick in the pants that leads to more research and analysis (specifically, inner musings, as in WTF) which leads to a winding trail through the worm hole of WTF causes people to litter?  I’m not just angry when I pick it up on the road, in the bush or, worse, in our lake… I’m WTF furious.

I journey down this winding trail and around and around and ride the WTF  roller coaster trying to ferret out a ‘source’ for littering, but cannot detach my thinking from the link between litter and the larger problem of pollution. Finally, I twist the few thousand words bouncing around my brain into this representational visual—the result of a protracted cause and effect analysis.


It’s simple and dark by deliberate choice, because there is no answer, only the dreaded question.

I did not misspell cede … I chose it for all that it means beyond seed  [Yield. Concede. Surrender. Relinquish. Abandon. Give Away.]

Bottom line: there’s a devastating legacy inherent in every piece of litter.

Cheryl Andrews  is a visual artist and photographer, depicting her view of the world through words and imagery. She lives in Seguin, Ontario, where she pursues these crazy-makers full time.



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what if your job was as a collector of debris along a stretch of highway between two towns? where would you start, where would you finish?

what if you spent your days driving between the two towns, half on the shoulder, half off the road, a yellow arrow sign flashing atop your truck cab.

what would you find?

you would find tire remnants, partnerless shoes, soiled diapers, broken chairs, stained mattresses, road kill – dead skunks or cats or deer or rabbits – piles of excrement, some human.

you would find gloves and bras and shattered televisions and cassette tapes and gigantic plastic coke bottles.

you would stub your toe on a heavy chunk of air brake and be thankful for your steel-toed boots.

then, on that final day, you would find a price tag, a small white piece of cardboard stuck to a used tissue. or is that a fabric softener sheet?

it’s an innocuous item, a minor throwaway, not worth a second thought.

but you would be frozen, paralyzed.

after all the crap you’ve picked up, after all the tossed cigars and cigarette butts (why do smokers consider the world their ashtray?), after the used tampons, beer cans, and half-eaten mouldy hamburgers, this is it, this is the one that will make you walk away, turn in your garbage poker, and hand over the keys to your truck.

you will find a job slinging coffee, or babysitting the neighbour’s kids, or mowing lawns, knowing that, whatever you do, you will be forever plagued by a question.

what costs $5.48?

Myrl Coulter  is an Edmonton-based writer of fiction and nonfiction. She is the author of two published books, most recently A Year of Days (UAP, 2015). Her first, The House With the Broken Two: A Birthmother Remembers (Anvil Press, 2011), won the 2010 First Book Competition sponsored by the Writers Studio (Simon Fraser University) and the 2011 Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta award. Her work has been published in Geist, Avenue Magazine, and several anthologies. She is cautiously optimistic that her third book will make its published appearance in 2017.


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andrews“I did not misspell cede … ”


Who was that woman?

And why did she leave this piece of paper in the mailbox?

Must be for my daughter Linda, she knows everybody.

But I’ve never seen this woman before, or her big fancy car.

Something like the one driven by that snob Susan next door.

Fancy-car woman doesn’t realize Linda left me here on my own for the weekend.


While she and my grandchildren go off to some resort with her new man-friend.

Some kind of criminal he is I think.

Maybe they’ll marry and let me go back to the island.

I never wanted to come here, to be my daughter’s maid and babysitter.

Living  under the radar, as Linda warns.

But at least I’ve been living with my grandchildren while they were growing up.

Linda threatened me with never seeing the grandchildren again if I was ever caught.

It’s time for me to go back now though.

I’m tired of living in this prison of a different world.

I want to return to where I know my neighbours, where I’m part of a community of people just like me.

Not an illegal minority in a world where laws must be obeyed and everyone else is educated.

Where people must read in order to survive.

Reading just wasn’t important when I was growing up.

Better to know how to cook and clean and grow vegetables and raise children.

Reading books was of no use to us.

As long as I stay inside this house, I’m okay.

But what kind of existence is this for an old woman anyway?

(And what does this piece of paper say???)

Just this once I’m going to walk out that door and go for a walk along the beach.

That will remind me of home, I know, and will make me cry.

I’ll take this piece of paper along with me and throw it away. (I hope it’s important.)

That will teach Linda for leaving me here alone.

Then I’ll start to plan what to do with myself.

Maybe Linda’s new boyfriend will pay for my airfare.

Now that’s strange… I was sure Freddy’s white and purple dinosaur was here on the front step before that woman came.

I wonder if she stole it.

Freddy will be very disappointed.

You just can’t trust anyone these days.

Susan M. Toy  is a writer/publisher who divides her time between Canada and the Caribbean. Under the auspices of Frontier College, she volunteered as a literacy teacher on the island of Bequia, prompted to do so by a report that 40% of the people in St. Vincent & the Grenadines are illiterate. Susan now promotes reading, writing and authors through her blog, ‘Reading Recommendations’ and writes about whatever grabs her interest at, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing


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coulter“it’s an innocuous item, a minor throwaway, not worth a second thought”

Doesn’t matter. Leave it there.
Move on, pull out, nothing’s on sale.
Let them roll over it, don’t even see it.
Leave it where it’s fallen.
Everyone can know, no one cares.
Do you care? Does it matter?
Hard math, that was. Hard truth.
Train leaves at five, never stops for flagging.
Train isn’t a taxi, eh? Shut up.
Move on and shut it out.
Could be a beggar. A thief.
Could sing for your supper.
Could lie for hours curled on the couch.
Or on the tracks, or take the last of it, board, move on.
Move out.
Leave the cart, you can do it.
Leave the aisle. Leave the hard light.
It’s wrong to leave it.
Sorry I’m in your way. Excuse my reach into your life.
What’s $3.99 less 18%?
How many days do you have left?
Do any days still have heft?
On the back you had written,
that feeling of leaving/like falling through ice
Leave it where it is.
Leave it where it lies.

In the meadow by the abandoned school bus.
White panties with blue flowers. Daisies bending to the wind.
What wasn’t new then? What isn’t old now?
Her hard kisses on your mouth.


Lee D. Thompson was born and raised in Moncton, New Brunswick. His fiction has been published in five anthologies, including Random House’s Victory Meat, New Fiction from Atlantic Canada and Vagrant Press’s The Vagrant Revue of New Fiction, and in more than a dozen literary journals across Canada and the US. Lee’s first novel, S. a novel in [xxx] dreams, was published in 2008 by Broken Jaw Press. In addition to writing fiction, Lee is a guitarist and songwriter who records under the name Pipher.


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toy“Reading books was of no use to us.”


By the time we reached Medicine Hat, I realized that Suzie, my new fake girlfriend, was not going to let it go.

“So you’ve written it all down, Larry?” she asked again. “All five years?”

Her uncle’s security job in Regina was supposed to come guaranteed, no strings attached. But then just before we hit the road, Suzie decided Uncle Bob might ask for my work history. I scribbled a few words, the sum of my life now crumpled into my back pocket.

“My uncle is a straight shooter.” Suzie was incapable of silence. “A meat and potatoes kind of guy. Beef not chicken. Baked not mashed.”

She laughed at her own jokes and jabbered all the way to Moose Jaw, pointing out cows and clouds and cars and lack thereof.

“And office cleaner, don’t forget. That night job. You mentioned it when we were at the Co-op and you made that big production of not putting the Windex in the cart. A cleaner is nothing to be ashamed of, Larry.”

That job gave me hives. Literally. Turns out I’m allergic to cleaning chemicals. After a while, I gave up trying so hard, not bothering with their potions and sprays. Mostly, I flopped on the couch in the reception room and tried to come up with workarounds for the shit going on at home.

At Swift Current, Suzie asked if she could drive for a spell. I thought it might shut her up some having to concentrate on the white line. It didn’t.

Miles later, after an endless monologue about her string of bad waitressing jobs, Suzie said, “What about painting? You included that, right? A good house painter is nothing to sneeze at.”

That job was a fiasco, gruelling hours, lasting less than three months. Owners expect you to stay through the second coat, but how could I leave her alone that long, day after day.

At Moose Jaw, Suzie said, “And you wrote down your mom, I hope. I mean I know it wasn’t a real job, you weren’t paid or anything, but at least it helps to explain what you’ve been up to.”

I made Suzie stop the car. After we traded places she steamrolled along.

“Caregiving and security, they’re totally the same almost, except you’ll get to wear a uniform this time. Think about it. Solving problems on your own. Making split second decisions.”

I cranked up the radio.

Suzie pulled her uncle’s pamphlet from her purse and cranked up her volume to match. “Listen to this. Always there. Peace of mind. We’ve got it covered. That’s you, Larry, in a nutshell. Keeping everyone safe. You’re perfect.”

Uncle Bob’s pamphlet preached a crock. There is no peace of mind. You only think you’ve got it covered. You can’t keep anyone safe.

Suzie leaned in as far as her seatbelt would stretch. “What’s that? What’s that you said, Larry?”

“I said she’s dead,” I repeated, bellowing this time.

Things stayed pleasantly quiet after that.

Fran Kimmel  writes and teaches in central Alberta. Born and raised in Calgary, Fran has worked all kinds of jobs including youth worker, career counselor, proposal writer, communications coordinator, and VP for a career consulting firm. Fran firmly believes in raising the literacy bar and has worked with several non-profit groups towards this end. One of her favourite assignments involved translating documents into plain language for Persons with Developmental Disabilities. Fran’s short stories have appeared in many anthologies, including twice in The Journey Prize Stories, and her first novel, The Shore Girl, was winner of the 2013 Alberta Readers’ Choice Award and a Canada Reads Top Forty selection.

Find her at

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thompson“Hard math, that was. Hard truth.”


A rabbit in the wild can
patch into dry grass, sand
into a clump, harden
to rock. A rabbit will fold
her ears flat and wait
for a fox, or us, to pass.
We won’t see it, won’t
know a thing.

Female rabbits will
reabsorb the soft
tissues of foetuses
into their bodies if
a hard winter’s
coming. No

A rabbit on a road can
freeze or bolt.
A rabbit in a yard will
graze, will
(as every farmer in my family
tells me) eat a kitchen
garden to stubble.

A rabbit can
lie like garbage
on the roadside, a wrapper
flattened and flung by
the rubber
roar of petroleum
fire, the monster
wheeling past fields and
pines, past warrens
hidden from the road
named Conservation Drive,
the crash that makes
we drive by. We
won’t know a thing.

madonald1 - Copy

Tanis MacDonald  is the author of three books of poetry and is working on the #FaunaWatch manuscript in Waterloo, Ontario, where she is Associate Professor in the Department of  English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.

(Photos by Tanis MacDonald)


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kimmel“At Swift Current, Suzie asked if she could drive for a spell. I thought it might shut her up some having to concentrate on the white line. It didn’t.”