• Fridge door
  • Pen affixed in some clever, purposeful way to fridge door
  • Designer pad of note paper, preferably decorated with bright flowers or small animals the like of which are never seen in nature. (Failing this, a used envelope or scrap of junk mail will do)
  • Fridge magnet to hold the above in place. (Your choice of design, provided it is too cute for words)
  • Guilt, for garnish


Use the pen to list on the paper everything in your life you should have done by now, everything you ought to be doing this very minute instead of what you are in fact doing and everything that, by all that’s holy, you should at least try to do before you die. Ideally, your list will include both the somewhat doable (eg – Lose 15 pounds) and what can best be categorized as the do-I-laugh-or-do-I-cry (eg – Try to be a better person)

Ignore your finished list for at least a week and preferably several years.

When the paper is yellowing and the ink beginning to fade, re-read your list, pen in hand.

If you can tick off even a single item, you have failed failure.

Garnish with guilt.

Serves one. As often as you choose to subject yourself to it.


K.D. Miller’s  stories and essays have appeared in Canadian literary magazines, have been collected in Oberon’s Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Anthology, and have been broadcast by the CBC. She has published four collections of stories: A Litany in Time of Plague, Give Me Your Answer, The Other Voice and All Saints; an essay collection, Holy Writ; and a novel, Brown Dwarf.  In 2014, All Saints was short-listed for the 2014 Rogers Writers Trust Award and named as one of the year’s best by the Globe and Mail.
Visit K.D. Miller’s website at:




Up Next:

“torn open, smashed flat – mourning my dead, the future trumped,”


The stripe on the sleeve of a man with a mop
who is waiting on the corner for the light to be

not-red; stop. The flag in a storefront window;
stop. The cap on the kid in the stroller; stop.

The mailbox near the Chua Linh-son Temple;
stop. Last year’s rose on this year’s vine, wilted

by the fire station fence; stop. The cherry flash
atop the cop car, here now, hurrying; stop.

Where am I going? When do I go there?
What’s my name?



Joe Fiorito  is a Toronto journalist. He won the National Newspaper Award for columns in 1995. He is the author of six books, including a best-selling memoir, The Closer We Are To Dying. His novel, The Song Beneath The Ice, won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2003. His most recent book, Rust Is A Form of Fire, is a poetic meditation on the streets of the city.



Up Next:

“Use the pen to list on the paper everything in your life you should have done by now…”




K.P.  Kingston Pen. Used to be so quiet here. It’s true, the prison stole my harbour view, and trying to reason with that despotic monster was just talking to a wall, but what I lost in prospect, I gained in privacy and wind-protection.

Those were the days. I stretched in the sun, lolled at my leisure, clean and happy and untried—because, let’s be honest here—who walks past a prison for pleasure? A few stray dogs, the odd drunk weaving his way to town from the Portsmouth Tavern—that was the worst of the traffic I had to shoulder. In fact, compared to my cousins over at the Market Square or those poor slabs over on Princess, cracked up and cast aside and recast time and again these past few years, all so City Works could fix the sewers, I have to admit, I had it good.

Until they closed the place. Then they stabbed me with an A-frame sign advertising tours, of all things, and sent me to daily boot camp. Did they ask? Do they care? Did they help me to prepare? I’m not as young as I once was. I’m not in good enough shape for this! People on my back from dawn to dusk—townies and tourists, busloads of them—and I’m supposed to carry every one without complaint? Tramping on my spine, stamping on my shins, slopping their sunscreen and sweat and spit and Gatorade and God knows what on my poor, pathetic, pockmarked face.

Oh, Voltaren, my saint and saviour! Whoever it was who left you here has earned a lifetime of easy passage. Never will I trip or trouble that good or just plain overburdened soul, the one who dropped the open tube and failed to notice. Nor will I rise up against the one who now approaches, ready to press and squeeze and smear the medicated ointment underfoot. Out here, in the full glare of the sun, weary, beaten, broken, I splay in my sad condition for all to see.

Go ahead. Rub it in.


Susan Olding  is the author of Pathologies: A Life in Essays, selected by 49th Shelf and as one of 100 Canadian books to read in a lifetime. Her award-winning writing has appeared in Maisonneuve, The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, and the Utne Reader, among others, and in anthologies including Best Canadian Essays, 2016 and In Fine Form, 2nd Edition.


*Photo — ‘Voltaren’, by Susan Olding.



Up Next:

fiorito“The mailbox near the Chua Linh-son Temple..”


He waited at the bus stop for a while, trying to read a copy of the free arts weekly he’d shoved in with his groceries, but the wind kept yanking at the pages, rattling them until he staggered back into the doorway of an out-of-business costume shop to get out of the wind. He put the bags at his feet, knowing that he was no longer really at the bus stop, that if the bus came he stood a lesser chance of it stopping for him back here, but it was a cold day and he was tired.

The cover story was an article about a band he hadn’t heard of, called the Simpletons. They were local too, started out playing together at some high school on the Danforth, branched out to east end bars, signed to Arts & Crafts. It made his throat hurt, dry and burning like an approaching cold. He didn’t resent their success—god knows, anyone who could escape the Value-Village-sweater life was a good omen for the rest. But the fact that he’d never heard the Simpletons, not at a fest or a showcase, hadn’t run across an EP or had a friend mention them, that felt like a bad omen. Like he wasn’t in the main circles anymore, like the acts who had new sounds were playing at bars he hadn’t even heard of. And who could he even ask about what bars, what neighbourhoods? It felt like everyone he had in his phone had gotten a job in marketing or teaching something, was spending Saturday nights trying to fix leaky taps and taking toddlers to the emergency room because they’d eaten an egg of Silly Putty.

A stronger gust of wind yanked the paper out of his hands—maybe he wasn’t trying that hard to hold on to it. The pages separated, most skittered east in the direction the bus would eventually take him, some flying up above his head until he lost track. When he glanced at the ground, he saw the page he had been reading, the baleful pride in the photo of the Simpletons, but he didn’t bother to pick it up. He saw the blue lights of the bus flash in the distance, and bent to gather his sacks of waffles and salad dressing.



Rebecca Rosenblum  is the author two short-story collections, Once and The Big Dream (Biblioasis, 2008 and 2011), the chapbook Road Trips (Frog Hollow Press, 2010) and the novel So Much Love, forthcoming in March 2017 from McClelland and Stewart. She lives, works, and writes in Toronto.



Up Next:

olding-hers“let’s be honest here—who walks past a prison for pleasure”



King Jack ruled with iron fist,
kept mortals in his kingdom
from living frivolous lives,
made them account for each coin,
every smile.

Not a benign monarch
who cared for his children,
not a father to his family.
No, King Jack ruled
his kingdom with iron fist,
with whip and weapon.

When clouds gathered
at the horizon,
slowly at first,
piling up and over each other,
dark, threatening –
King Jack ignored the threatening storm.

The people whispered,
They met
in secret,
in wishful whispers.

When the storm broke loose
in all its fury
wind and floods swept King Jack
and his army away,
washed shackles off
his people.

Relieved of the ruthless King
the kingdom breathed a sigh
of relief.
A burden lifted,
a ruler crumpled, faded
because no harshness, no violence,
no threat, no dominance
can foster love.

Long live the Queen.


Margriet Ruurs  is the author of 35 books for children. Her newest title is Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey (

She speak at schools around the world. When she is not traveling she runs Between The Covers, a book-lovers’ B & B on Salt Spring Island, BC (



Up Next:

rosenblum“He didn’t resent their success—god knows, anyone who could escape the Value-Village-sweater life was a good omen for the rest.”



Growing up, I believed in
the power
of the think-through.

If I could think it through, to the worst, and still
face it, the thing that plagued me, it would recede
and wither, wisp its way into fantasy,
an oft-banished foe.

But Donald Trump is President and Leonard Cohen is dead.

Yesterday I saw a kid’s glove mushed into the golden
leaves and muck of the sidewalk. Fuzzy, striped pink – magic
minis; they grow from tiny to ginormous
like the Grinch’s too-small heart – expanding
to host legions.

So I think it through.

She was playing, or being dragged by a harried
mother. It slipped from her grasp, tumbled
from her pocket. Forgotten. There will be a scramble
next time they leave the house, a patting down of
pockets, an inventory of jacket sleeves and dark corners
behind bins.

But Donald Trump is President and Leonard Cohen is dead.

So I think it through.

The glove is grimy. A flattened cigarette butt
rests next to its ring finger. The word sordid
comes to mind. So: the child was snatched
by a Stranger or a Known Someone, is unsafe,
sobbing, her glove cast off in the struggle.

Lost, lost, lost.

Tell me, where’s the crack that lets the light in?

Because somewhere a little girl is twirling
like a cat after her own tail, spin-searching
for a gone glove.


Heather Birrell’s  most recent story collection, Mad Hope, was one of the Globe and Mail’s top 23 Canadian fiction titles of 2012. The Toronto Review of Books called the collection ‘completely enthralling, and profoundly grounded in an empathy for the traumas and moments of relief of simply being human.’ Winner of the Journey Prize for short fiction and the Edna Staebler Award for creative non-fiction, her work has appeared in many North American journals and anthologies. She makes her home in Toronto with her family.



Thanks to the writers and readers who know good trash when they see it.

And thank you all for supporting literacy.

If the donating mood takes you, don’t fight it—the literacy elves at Frontier College will be ever so grateful for any crumbs you can spare. See direct link above. Or here.


Happy Hols!


The Litter I See Project will return in the new year.





Posted: December 6, 2016 in tim wynne-jones
Tags: , , , ,


So it comes down to this:

  • CIVE 327 Hydrology and Open Channel Flow


  • ENGL 102 Isolation and Alienation


I mean I’m going to be a civil engineer, right? Like my father. I just have to live with that. They’re paying my way – the whole ticket — “because a degree ought to lead to real employment in the real world and the real world will always need civil engineers.” Got it, Dad. Really.

Then again, I do need that Arts credit which I’ve been avoiding, because… Well, I don’t know. Because:

  • The Arts building is all the way across campus
  • There are all those books you have to read
  • The kids in the class will totally know — will smell — that I’m not one of them

Is that why?

And it’s not like I couldn’t just “bird” it out and take the Harry Potter course, like a lot of my classmates. I read those books already and you can buy term papers real cheap. Get it out of the way. Get on with my real life.

Okay, decision time. Let’s approach this rationally the way a good engineer would. Let’s be practical because, after all, the world is a hands-on place where everyone acts reasonably towards the common good and what’s useful and sensible and no-nonsense is the rule and will ultimately win the day and make the world a saner and more productive place.

So, what’s on offer?

Choice (1.): “Introduction to the water cycle, flood frequency analysis, design storms. Analysis of hydrographs and rainfall-runoff response mechanisms in urban and natural systems. Mass continuity and water budgets at the watershed scale. Impact of land use change on hydrologic response. Quantification of open channel flow; subcritical and supercritical flow regimes. Dynamic forces on submerged structures and low/scour beneath bridges.”


Choice (2.): “The study of a variety of works centering on the theme of individuals in crisis, the stress being on people at variance with their inner selves, other persons, or their world. The course will discuss the process in which wisdom and maturity are gained as the ultimate products of suffering.”

I’m just going to write down the date, right here. Commit it to memory. Take a deep, shaky breath and face the music. This may be where it all begins to come undone.


Tim Wynne-Jones  has written thirty-four books for young and old. He has won two Governor General’s Awards and been short listed six times, most recently for The Emperor of Any Place. He’s won two Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, two Arthur Ellis Awards, presented by the Crime Writers of Canada, as well as an “Edgar” from the Mystery Writers of America. His books have been translated into a dozen languages. Tim was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012.



Up Next:

birrell“…Donald Trump is President and Leonard Cohen is dead.”