‘Beyond your cherry trees, Mamma’ by Sandra Sjollema

You told me not to pluck, Mamma
The dark maroon cherries
But I let the dark pink
Petals rain down on me
Over the years

In silk grass
I sat silent
Like the good girl
You wanted me to be
Circled and darted me eyes
To catch each shrug of wind

You cleaned the houses of the rich, Mamma
Had to make a living in the town
With half the rainfall and the manors
On the cliffs
Private tennis courts
Gated driveways

I used to tag along

You said you had to work
You said
This was not
The mother/daughter reunion
Dust in the corners spilling
Over the lines
Between some kind of control
And dirt

I romped in the dirt in our backyard
Bungalow by the beach

Sat on roughness
Three cracking steps

Sat waiting
For your blue Toyota
To pass me in a dash
In the blur
Approaching dark

 


SANDRA SJOLLEMA is originally from Tsawwassen, B.C. and has lived in Montreal for many years. Her poetry has been widely published on-line and in hard copy anthologies. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including Where the wild lives (Sitting Duck Press, 2008) and Un/daunted in the Black and Gold (Sitting Duck Press, 2014). Her poetry discusses personal and political issues, and sometimes both at the same timeShe is a part-time university professor, researcher, and community organizer.   

Copyright © 2019 by Sandra Sjollema. All rights reserved.

‘Zsófia at the Ballet Barre’ by Ilona Martonfi

Swathe yourself in knit warm-ups. Unschooled. Clumsy, naïve,

Step into the illusion, into the nothing, Zsófia. Black painted walls and the ballet
barre, dim and dusty attic loft. Rose-pink tulle skirt. Glissando. Disembodied.
Dancing en pointe. I wonder if that girl still exists as you were on that day, Zsófia?
Large round windows, with a view of Montmartre. Paris. 18ème arrondissement.
Bringing the body chaotic. Flattened, angular choreography. Simple, least beautiful
gestures, I am touching your face. You say, I am cold and distant. Innocence. Dark and
purity sides. Consumed by light. Nameless. Questions. Because I drew you into my
madness. Daughter, how can this be? Swan-maiden as mortal woman.

 


ILONA MARTONFI is the author of three poetry books, Blue Poppy (Coracle Press, 2009), Black Grass (Broken Rules Press, 2012) and The Snow Kimono (Inanna Publications, 2015). Forthcoming, Salt Bride (Inanna, 2019) and The Tempest (Inanna 2020). Founder and Artistic Director of The Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre Readings. QWF 2010 Community Award.

Copyright © 2019 by Ilona Martonfi. All rights reserved.

‘Triptych’ by Willow Loveday Little

I made you my altarpiece.
Even your well-balanced hinges
Were washed gold by candlelight.

I.
You are made of three men
Who confront the origin
From three cardinal directions.
I am the North Star.
I picked you
Because I love being flanked
By symmetry:
On the outer panels,
Two triplets in stride
And one right down the middle
Carry my litter, mirrored
In profile from torso to the illuminated
Gilding of your genitals
And identical Roman toes. I am
Aroused by palindromes.

II.
Cracked tempera outlines are
An eagle’s view of a dusty canyon.
You are stronger together.
Together. My holy men.
Quarrel wastes breath but
You don’t breathe. A painting is
Lungless, so sleep
Your air away;
Oxidation corrupts plywood.

III.
Circles eat themselves into
Stupor but triangles elect
A leader whose throne
Is acrid incense. Burns them stable.
The pyramids are proof.

False idols are a joke to
Me. My laughter
Echoing against the space between
Shards of stained glass bright enough
To reach fingers to the Madonna’s
Image, like the lung’s alveoli
Grasping at the throne’s cusps
Is the only testament I desire.

 


WILLOW LOVEDAY LITTLE is Montreal-based writer and poet whose work has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, Westmount Mag, and Write or Die Tribe. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University and is an active contributor to Graphite PublicationsandMedium, where she holds Top Writer status in three categories. Passionate about creative process, Willow curates the event series, “Pieces of Process.” You can find her on Medium, at Instagram handle @willowloveday, or on LinkedIn.

Copyright © 2019 by Willow Loveday Little. All rights reserved.

‘Untitled’ by Emily Jones

I

I used to side with the universe
I trusted the wind and its wildness
I leaned between the trees like a lanky treat 

Now I stamp out every arrogant thought
Every gem I turn into a stew

I’ve learned that my heart is small, my mind is small,
and my hands are small,
twinkling like toys at the end of my limbs

Like the witchy one, I exert my will in the woods of light and shadow

I sleep on a heap small enough for a child


 

II

My family possessed the major quality of valor

But someone planted the seeds of fear and doubt,
we came tumbling down

The women of my family were known for their black eyes that flashed
My eyes turn to mist and fade at the sight of things

I have the qualities of an aging woman
The wavering voice, the worried expression,
the tell-tale precision and imprecision of my manner

It’s enough to make one want to be a man
or to go tumbling down in an act of valor

Sword flashing in the hand in the field


 

III

When the wind truly blows, will this little one of the mass,
pipsqueak of the farm, flow like grass? 

I will be long gone
I will have walked in the wind and passed on
many hundred years before

On what side did I step? 

I walked like an Egyptian
I went the human way

My whole body, like a skeleton, music in the air

Oh, what will those hands grab next! They said
What messages will pop out from the jaw, what ideas from that bowl for a head?
What will those knees do? What will her hips say when she walks? 

I’d gone to preach to the smallest of things, my red lips parted
Nope, nothing of note!

So what if God made me his little mute
I heave as a slave heaves, by the sheer will of my stance

Sheer will! From dawn of time, the end of his disc

 


EMILY JONES grew up in the north, on the prairie, and by the sea. Her poems have appeared in the Denver Quarterly, Mandorla, Vallum, White Wall Review (and upcoming in The Island Review). She holds an MFA from the University of Chicago and was winner of its emerging writers series in poetry. She lives in Montréal and teaches poetry to youth through the QWF.

Copyright © 2019 by Emily Jones. All rights reserved.

 

‘Frozen Fire’ by Mayy Elhayawi

She can hear his voice
But lives in silence
She used to see his face
Before blindness
She can smell his smoke
But her fire is frozen
He intrudes into her loneliness
But her skin is dead
Her heart is motionless
She doesn’t know
Why she survived so long.

 


MAYY ELHAYAWI is an Assistant Professor of English Poetry and Cultural Studies at Ain Shams University, Egypt. She was a post-doctoral Fulbright Alumna at Stanford University, the Leader of the Fulbright Humanities Circle in Egypt, and a Guest Speaker at different universities including: Yale, UC Berkeley, UC Merced, Stanford, Florida Atlantic University, San Francisco State University, and the University of Texas, Kingsville. She has published a book titled Paradoxes of Diaspora in the Poetry of Derek Walcott and Seamus Heaney, and a number of articles and poems in international anthologies and journals including: Universal Oneness, Verbal Art, Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies, Other Modernities, among others. Her areas of research include diaspora literature, gender studies, digital humanities and media studies. She is currently the Chief Learning Officer at Experts on Demand, an IELTS Speaking and Writing Examiner at ILSC, Canada College and Conestoga College, Instructional Designer at Dawson College and Teacher Trainer at TEFL Academy, Canada.

Copyright © 2019 by Mayy Elhayawi. All rights reserved.

‘unwilling’ by Evi Cox

“superwoman!”
they caw
you can’t be her, do all that!

and i wonder
did anyone ever ask her
if she
wanted
to be
“superwoman?”

perhaps:
we are
what we are

by default.

 


EVI COX thrives on the interplay and collision of words, emotions, and sounds. A Toronto native living in Montreal, she is also an accomplished translator with a Masters and a Ph (no D). Contact her at: shesfoundintranslation@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2019 by Evi Cox. All rights reserved.

‘Oh, Canada’ and ‘Patera II’ by Christina Strigas

Oh, Canada

Watching the sun rise is one of the most trusted things.
I’m old school. Old soul for shining love.
In Greece, the sunrise overlooked the ocean,
in Canada, the sunrise overlooked Park Ex. 

When I was eight,
I saw Greece in your eyes.
I understood what the word immigrant implied.
All the looks, questions,
Where were you born?
I’m Canadian. I’m Greek.
I’m Greek-Canadian.

I’m nowhere to be found.

I mostly feel like a sea animal—
Life,
hooked me;
it adored my Canadian skin, its delicacy
flapping my fins in the air.
Olive complexion, dark hair and eyes.
Oh, you look Greek or Italian.
You have an accent.                    

Did you know the ocean grave is so silent?
There is no grandiose ocean here.
Canada is civil. Makes no war.
Canada opens up its arms to immigrants like us.
It wets our words with ghosts,
not the ones in movies or reality TV;
the real ones that terrorize immigrant dreams.        

Canada has clawed cold cuts on my skin,
The dry scathed skin of winter.
I’m allergic to the cold now,
Still translating documents for my mother since 1980.

They make me write about how she came to Canada on April 29, 1960.
She had two birthdays
my grandfather changed it to 1943
for food, survival;
and now I’m filling out 10 page applications
to prove she is who she says she is
after living here for fifty-eight years.
It’s always hopeless
When you can’t speak the language
You live in—
But it is hopeful
To have a nomad soul.  

You can be a stranger in two countries.
I see proof of that every day. 

 

PATERA II

I crashed on the floor
Next to your dead body, Patera
You were wrapped in a red flannel blanket of fire.
Your last breath,
Of three deep sighs . . . a matchstick
Flaring-up a crowd of love
We watched the horror.

Around your nailed feet,
Edges of years,
Like a quick flame,
Your light disappeared
Brushed by fingertips
An odyssey of stops,
A heart wrenching eulogy.         

But the saints are calling you—
To dream on a bed of red clouds,
they want your Good Friday bonfire.
Light up the glow Father
Patera, kalinihta.
Goodnight

When you died ten years ago,
the world shifted gears;
Greece and its olives,
Its braced trees
Seem so distant now
Miles of gravel
Now a dead memory

Epic to recall
How you stole cucumbers
in your youth,
How you got tired for days,
Walking miles to reach school—
No swings, amusement parks

Merry-go-rounds.
No lights on the village streets.
No telephones,
Just one
soccer ball to bring your name in arenas. 

Raised on bread and lentils,
Hand-prepared— in a clay sink,
In one room with five siblings,

You left Greece with a five-dollar bill in your pocket
a Greek-English dictionary in your bag.

 


CHRISTINA STRIGAS is a full-time teacher. She teaches ESL to adults at McGill University, and French at a public elementary school for The Montreal English School Board. She is also a Course Lecturer at McGill University. Her work has appeared in Feminine Collective, SpillWords, Neon Mariposa Magazine, as well as some that will be publishing some work in the upcoming months, such as: Pink Plastic House, Thimble Lit Magazine, Rhythm & Bones, Twist in Time, and The Temz Review. Her poetry book, Love & Vodka was recommended by CBC News and made the Ultimate Canadian Poetry List. She has written two novels for MuseItUp Publishing. She lives in Montreal with her husband and two children.

Copyright © 2019 by Christina Strigas. All rights reserved.

‘Trílcica’ by Eugenio Garza

J’ai tant neigé pour que tu dormes
So you can sleep far away…

Now, look for me.
Touch my side of this bed in the middle of the night.
Look for me
in your dreams, as if you were searching for an ancient truth.
Explore my ocean with an astrolabe
and under the nautical moon look for me.

Dig through the rocks with a flashlight.
Flow swiftly towards the light, lost soul.

Hunt me.
Wake up, open your eyes and look for me in the darkness.

Look for me,
even though you will never find me.

 


EUGENIO GARZA studies Economics at the University of Monterrey, Mexico. His work has appeared in Palabras que cuentan (UDEM) and Revista Levadura (UANL). He is co-founder of the independent literary magazine Cuatro Versos (www.cuatroversos.com).

Copyright © 2019 by Eugenio Garza. All rights reserved.

‘Two Arias’ by James Dunnigan

On the Hill by Rome Boulevard 

You, leaning by me in the bowing grass
at noon, late summer, on a yellow hill
telling me love has become like the face of the night
             and you do not remember where the bikepath is
             and have forgotten to put on your shoes
             and circling your arms
around the nape-knot of a birch’s neck
             say that you loved me once. 

I have brought you as close to my heart as a seed is to soil
that raises it into a tangle of leaves,
cool and odorous the soil, sweeter the yielded grain,
and the wind moving under the branches of us
             will carry our dust and reflections
over the lakeshore rocks
             and over the road-veined hills
             and I don’t care anymore where they carry us. 

You lean beside me in the yellow grass
on noon’s late hill august and shadowless,
holding between you and your bending arms
the white face of the distant sun.
I know then all my nights and mornings will be yours
             and the days thereafter will warm to your countenance,
dawn, lend its brightness to your movements
             and the murmuring evenings borrow from your voice. 

I have shrouded my heart like a seed in the earth
that sun may never shine upon its sorrow
but the roots have grown deep at your urging
             with branches as soft as your arms;
                           their leaves, bright as your waking eyes;
                           their shade, at day, inviting as the night.


Saisonnière

aaaaaaBrighthaired, in black,
you drift over long rows of fruit
and bags of earth and boxes—
Summer’s summer,
             whose shadow
             freshens the cherries,
wets the pavement weeds.

Like you I’m a worker in water and fire.
I nearly burnt down my apartment
leaving the propane on.
And when I shovel ice in at the fish store,
             I throw it exactly
             outside the counter.

Your hands command the things they touch.
I’ve never seen a person work so finely
             with buckets of garbage water
or carry a barbecue lighter more gently
             into the breathing gas.

aaaaaaaI don’t know which:
             to see or to be seen by you,
delights the evening crowds the most.
Even in your contempt you’re golden
letting us go with a smile I know is a smirk
although a smirk would be enough;
             a smile being enough for hope
and hope itself being a kind of smirk.

And when you give me back my change,
             drop two warm coins into my palm,
your hand, though it retreats from mine,
             drags its cool shadow down my arm.

 


JAMES DUNNIGAN is a graduate of McGill University. Author of The Stained Glass Sequence, he was the winner of the 4th annual Frog Hollow Chapbook Competition in 2018. His work has appeared previously in Maisonneuve Magazine and is forthcoming in CV2.

Copyright © 2019 by James Dunnigan. All rights reserved.

‘Infinitival Infinities’ by Yuan Changming

To be                   a matter when there’s no question
Or not to be       a question when nothing really matters

To sing           with a frog squatting straight
On a lotus leaf in the Honghu Lake                  near Jingzhou

   To recollect               all the pasts and mix them
Together like a glass of           cocktail

To build                        a nest of meaning
Between two broken branches on                  Ygdrasil

To strive           for deity
Longevity        and
                                                     Even happiness

To come            on and off line every other while

To compress                  consciousness into a file and upload it
Onto a microchip

To be                        daying to                       die

 


YUAN CHANGMING published monographs on translation before leaving China. Currently, Yuan lives in Vancouver, where he edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) and BestNewPoemsOnline, among others. 

Copyright © 2019 by Yuan Changming. All rights reserved.