Archive for December, 2015



  • We always lie to those we love. That’s why it’s called an “an act of love.”
  •  Whoever says grief ennobles has never lost a child.
  •  The worse kind of pain, to miss something you never had, and even worse, never will.
  •  Expectation is one of the great sources of suffering.


Susan Musgrave’s  career as a social misfit began when she was kicked out of kindergarten class for laughing, and sent to the library to contemplate her heinous crime while seated on the “Thinking Chair”. She understood, then, that books and thinking must be considered dangerous, and they became her favourite forms of escape. Not long afterwards she dropped out of kindergarten for good.

Her first book of poetry was published when she was 19. Of Songs of the Sea Witch, her grandfather said, “Even Shakespeare had to write a lot of rubbish to begin with.”

She has since published close to 30 books in various genres including poetry, fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature. She owns and manages the Copper Beech Guest House in Haida Gwaii and teaches poetry in UBC’s Optional Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing. In 2014 she was awarded the Matt Cohen Award in Celebration of a Writing Life from the Writers’ Trust. Her most recent book, a Taste of Haida Gwaii: food gathering and feasting at the edge of the world (Whitecap) was released in November, 2015.



The Litter I See Project will return in January.

(until then, pick up your rubbish!)

And a happy season of light to all…





High-rise hair-raise, letters of intent
Visions and revisions, cool A+ shoes
To-do wish list lipstick hit list
Eagle’s eye cam view, wheelchair whirls you
Write it with a Sharpie, write in sugarcane
far from LA TV, loose-tie surgery
Imaging success in crumpled paper clothes
Foot it neatly, plastics family!
Doodle bubble bugger phone, denim our uniform
Use every inch, in life and art
Chatty underwear says no secrets here
DWS could be Doing What’s Smart…
Makes nothing happen? Tell it to the teases.
Poetry’s here to pick up the pieces.


Kateri Lanthier’s  second collection of poetry is forthcoming from Signal Editions, Véhicule Press in Spring 2017. She won the 2013 Walrus Poetry Prize. She is the mother of [co-litter-contributors] Nicholas Sinclair (13), Julia Sinclair (9) and William Sinclair (7). Nicholas Sinclair enjoys being a member of his school’s robotics club, taking nature hikes and thinking philosophically. Julia Sinclair enjoys doing fractions in math class, running laps and drawing cats. William Sinclair enjoys dancing while wearing his fedora, writing poetry and playing the piano.



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musgrave1“We always lie…”



In her heyday hosting a get-together wouldn’t have fazed Loretta, but trotting from store to store under a harsh sun, panting, unsure what was already in her bag and what was still to be purchased, she realized that the hey!  had left her day years ago. No longer could she whip everything into shape—not her kids, who were grown and running loose in a cracked-up world; not her home, once pristine and party-ready; not even herself, although her hair was newly permed into ridges already softening with sweat, releasing a floral perfume with chemical top notes. It went without saying that Harold was in worse shape, sprawled on the Chesterfield watching televised sports like he’d taken a vow to see his teams through thick and thin, season after season, till death do them part. In the last few months his state of hygiene had sunk to a level beyond spousal rescue. And the people gathering tomorrow weren’t any folks you could make pleasant conversation with, but her own family returning to the homestead. Every lapse would mean something to them. If she burned the beans or offered a drink in a cloudy glass, glances would be exchanged. Harold’s stink would certainly be noticed. And the yard gone to ruin, a waist-high unmowable meadow. She’d swung the rusty scythe a few times around the back door, creating a rough patch for chairs, but left the rest wild. She planned to say it was better for the environment that way. Your father and I are against lawns. We’re into preserving habitat for wildlife now. The kids probably wouldn’t buy it. They were primed for decline.

“Don’t go to any trouble, Mom” her eldest daughter had said on the telephone. “We’re bringing all the food.”

Well, Loretta wasn’t falling for that nonsense. When family came, you fed them. No matter how fractious they were. And so there would be salads and fruit, lots of roughage, because the grandkids had refused to eat her roast last year. Nothing with a face, they’d explained, smirking. She was serving shrimp this time. She’d never seen a face on a shrimp. And the green salad would be sprinkled with bacon bits, fake meat anyone could eat. Plus cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions—no, someone had an allergy. Was it a son-in-law? Anyway, she’d leave onions out—cottage cheese sprinkled with dill, plenty of crackers, and a rainbow Jell-O mold to add cheer to the table. For dessert, peach cobbler with Cool Whip. They wouldn’t dare find fault with that.

She was nearly ready. She just had to nip into Eaton’s for a few items. Scurrying toward the entrance, she patted herself down looking for the list but couldn’t find it. No matter. In the cool brightness of the store, she could remember perfectly. T-shirts and underwear for Harold in practical navy or black to hide stains, and track pants, extra-large. For herself, a new bra. In a jiffy she’d find the one she liked among the rows of sturdy boxes standing at attention in the lingerie department—cross-your-heart support to brace a woman for the challenges ahead.

What a relief that some things didn’t change.


Laura Rock’s  fiction has appeared in Canadian, U.S., U.K. and Irish publications, including The Antigonish Review, Pear Drop and Southword and is forthcoming in The New Quarterly. Anthologies include the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize (Munster Literature Centre, 2013) and How to Expect What You’re Not Expecting (TouchWood Editions, 2013). She lives in Lakefield, Ontario.

Follow her on Twitter @laurairock



Up Next:

lanthier“Doodle bubble bugger phone, denim our uniform”



Posted: December 10, 2015 in alice major
Tags: , , , ,


What appointments am I missing?
What year is it?
—What mission
am I setting out on
along this hallway/ highway/
—sky way?
Surely it is spring beyond
this corridor? Hope?
—Green. Leaf. Gap.
punched along the edges.
So much torn away.

Alice Major’s  tenth collection, Standard candles, is now available from the University of Alberta Press.

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gaughan“In the last few months his state of hygiene had sunk to a level beyond spousal rescue.”



First, the pines monolithic in white sand moonlight
then the slushie blue and cherry red flashing behind
Paul’s old truck.
Sent us on our way when he sobered up
thrust into the great big maw of the prairie sky.
One more Bob Dylan song and I’ll scream. He smells so sour I wish
they hosed him down in the tank. Body wash. A luxury.
All the fragrant people forgetting they have dirty arseholes
Just like Kerouac said. Just like Kerouac said.

That sky went from one side of you to the other,
terrifying the god into people, that sky.
And then the mountains, the raised hackles of earth.
With your heart in your mouth, you forget you’re hungry,
you have other, metallic tastes.
A highway where women disappear like they’ve been
swept away. A straw broom for the poor people, the
same thing them stupid first pigs made their houses out of.

Down through clouds at sunrise,
2 hours on the ferry and made 14 dollars playing Jesus songs
for bread and cheese. Can’t get cold cuts, they go bad too fast
sleeping in the spruce bush. If it don’t keep,
you’re throwing up with no healthcare
At some point we rent a motel room by the week. Cereal and milk
on a good day.   Tourists are on their way out, it’s September.
Steven has AIDS and he says there’s a church where you get
apple juice in boxes but they stamp your hand so you only get one.
We pretend the ketchup packets
from McDonalds where we go to pee
are spaghetti sauce. Someone takes money from Steve and
he is about to bite them, yelling I have AIDS mother fucker

This is around when I leave, and you throw yourself in the ocean
because you are human litter.
Tried to clean up the best you could but there’s
crap everywhere still
and I’m still hungry most of the time

Dawna Matrix  wears many hats, including insurance broker, poet, mother, chauffeur, and occasionally just a chapeau made of fire.  She lives in Oshawa with her husband, daughters, and a grumpy cat.



Up Next:

majorWhat year is it?



Guaranteed unless
wrapper damaged or open
Medicare Bandage

Is that real litter?
Think about picking it up.
Put it in the trash.

Some child skinned a knee
a bike or skateboard wavered
But why hurt others?

One dirty bandage
will not fix the injury
of sad Mother Earth.

Angie Abdou is a novelist with four books to her credit. The most recent is Between (Arsenal 2014). She teaches Creative Writing at Athabasca University.

Note: ‘The Band-Aid Haikus’ were written by Angie’s children, Ollie (8) and Katie (6)

(This was so interesting to do with little kids. They were genuinely perplexed —“Is that real litter! Why would someone do that?” They came up with the lines—other than the first, which came from the package—and we worked together to count out the syllables and make them fit. ~ Angie Abdou)


Up Next:

hicks“One more Bob Dylan song and I’ll scream.”