‘Girl, Under Construction’ by Claire Avisar

IF YOU WERE A BATH & BODY WORKS CANDLE

you would read:

notes of
Malibu, toaster waffles
and rooftops
painted in allspice
late-night Italian
samba and whisky stones
balconies covered in ice
sparklers
on her birthday cake
the grape shots
they serve at Tokyo
and glasses of Prosecco
that turn into five
an empty chair
at Christmukkah dinner
(insert the faint reminder of a bad decision)
your first
menthol cigarette
what is supposedly your last
menthol cigarette
shards of glass
against fingertips
the happiness that is
standing alone
on St. Laurent street at 1am
with a new copy of George Orwell
in frozen hands
premature loss
and a failed writing career

 


QUEEN CALAMITY

if all babies are born
of angel whispers
drawn by plump curls
and with plush words
that echo like an ocean breeze
then I must be by a different name

who is it that painted me?
which heavy hand broke
the broad-stroked brush?

perhaps Michaelangelo
had he known that beach
would have mixed me a dark red,
for I was conceived at winter’s edge
when wandering waters
grew heavy for the shore

christened by collision
still I rise
so quietly on Saturdays in June
and still I climb to worship my mother
for housing and weathering the storm

in her stone cold pews
still damp from morning prayer
I sit and ask of the sea
if she knows why tranquility
(my own sister)
has never been a friend to me

 


FROM THE FIRE ESCAPE

There is warmth
in stone and concrete,
the blue
       blackish
hue of frost-bitten streets.

Less like the cottage
marble countertops,
more like lusty
gravel is to apple cheeks.

If not from  his heart
there is always blood
which flows from the lips
of the alleyway
outside the apartment.

Windows shatter,
white paint chips.

 


CLAIRE AVISAR is a 4th year undergraduate student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Although she left an academic career in English Literature to study Anthropology and History, she has not yet escaped her passion for the English language, and has continued a penchant for creative writing. Throughout personal struggles with mental health, eating disorders, finding her womanhood, and other quintessentially millennial afflictions, poetry has become the lens through which she is able to process our complex world. Besides a means of personal expression, she is also an adamant advocate for the power of writing, in all its capacities, to empower individuals and communities to create change. Her work has appeared in on campus publications such as the McGill Daily and The Veg, and she is working towards curating a manuscript. She hopes, if nothing more, these poems bring a moment of peace or connection to those who read them.

Copyright © 2018 by Claire Avisar. All rights reserved.

‘Old Prints|New Words’ by Natacha Gagné

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« J’aimerais connaître. Grolier limitée Éditions, Montréal. 1974 »

 


NATACHA GAGNÉ has always been fascinated with words and books, even as a child. When she got her old typewriter and some old books, it began to come together. The illustrations served as a catalyst that helped her words come to life. In a world where we can erase and photoshop everything, Natacha finds that the permanence of the typewriter ink helps to let go of the idea of perfection and embrace the little flaws of her work, the double letters, the spelling mistakes, as part of its DNA.

Copyright © 2018 by Natacha Gagné. All rights reserved.

‘Retrospect’ by Danica Smith

Sometimes it is the life
you walk valleys through
rather than climb peaks for
that are better for you;

easier on your lungs,
heavy with the weight
of the altitude and regret.

 

(Oh yes,
the view can bring you
down to your knees
and you can feel pride
in your palms
for having the strength
to scale mountains
despite the blood

but what if
you chose
the flowers?)

 


DANICA SMITH is a writer based in upstate New York and Montreal, where she is studying political science and history at McGill University. She has been writing poetry for several years, as well as fiction.

Copyright © 2018 by Danica Smith. All rights reserved.

‘Gesso (Daughter)’ Ilona Martonfi

Seventeen years Ma lives here, a studio loft. Nine foot ceilings. Downtown Shaughnessy Village, Montreal. Third floor, elevator, balcony. She still has the unframed blue nude oil I painted, the year she left Pa. “I don’t like my earlier work,” I’d tell her. “I’ll gesso over it. Use the canvas again.” White is never ours, never something we do;

sunlight stripped bare. Concrete walls. Hardwood floors. Ask us: “Don’t you miss home? A house, apple trees, raspberries, pink wild roses. Do you know why I paint on washi paper?” Eldest sister’s shuttered story. Big ill body. Glassy-eyed psychiatric ward. Excavated from the fabric of a photograph. Plum-purple collage. A girl playing acoustic guitar. Songs on Zoloft drugs. Ma still hoards her long silk taffeta wedding dress. White gloves. Tulle veil. Pearl necklace.

—Excerpt, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers To The Psychiatric Ward: A Memoir

 


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). The Tempest (Inanna 2020). Founder and Artistic Director of The Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre Readings. QWF 2010 Community Award.

Copyright © 2018 by Ilona Martonfi. All rights reserved.

‘You Enter a Wilderness’ by Greg Santos

FOG-MIND
on anxiety

You enter
a wilderness.
Another flare up.

Bats in an attic,
your thoughts get locked in together,
wings jostling for importance.

You feel your heart racing,
you put your fingers to your neck,
your wrist, back to your chest.

No sign of a heartbeat.
Did it somehow sneak out of your chest,
a thief into the night?

You focus on the crack of moonlight
through the door.
Maybe your heart snuck out that way.

You somehow remember the moon is a mirror.
That thought momentarily comforting,
before your thoughts cloud over once again.

You can only wait
for this fog-mind to dissipate,
but who knows how long it will last?

 


THAT MOMENT

My mind is doing jumping jacks.
Only my beloved, our doctor, and I know.

I am used to sending off my poems into the unknown.
They go forth like little pioneers.

But this is different.
It is the hum before the computer shuts down.

It is that moment after the movie trailers end
but before the feature presentation begins.

The exact second when the dog
spots the popcorn kernel hovering mid-air.

It is the tick before the tock,
the instant before the clock strikes midnight.

That jolt of electricity before lips first touch.
It is the moment before the line turned blue.

And again the moment before another turned blue a
second time, just to be sure.

 


INVISIBLE GUESTS

Alone in our apartment
I notice how quiet it really is without you.

The creak of my chair, the clicks as I type,
my breathing, the hum of the fridge:

sounds I took for granted,
amplified by your absence.

Tapping from within the walls, mice perhaps,
dull breathing of heating vents, the apartment

filling with invisible guests.
I put on Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

Voices of ghosts
to keep me company.

 


GREG SANTOS is the author of Blackbirds (Eyewear Publishing, 2018), Rabbit Punch! (DC Books, 2014), and The Emperor’s Sofa (DC Books, 2010). He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He regularly works with at-risk communities and teaches at the Thomas More Institute. He is the poetry editor of carte blanche and lives in Montreal with his wife and two children.

Copyright © 2018 by Greg Santos. All rights reserved.

‘Body[p]arts’ by Lea-Maraike Sambale

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POEM / New Skins

 


LEA-MARAIKE SAMBALE is the winner of the nation wide literature competition of the Eckenroth Foundation, Germany (2006), and the young Literature-Forum Hesse/Thuringia, Germany (2008 and 2013). Her work has been featured in the anthology “Nagelprobe 25” and “Nagelprobe 30”. After moving to Montreal in June 2018, she started to write her poems and texts in English and experimented in combining them with selected sounds.

Copyright © 2018 by Lea-Maraike Sambale. All rights reserved.

‘Destiny’ by Bini Israel

He, swift and poised to circumstances
Even to dicey cares unpredictable
Loomed in grief, swallowed up to curses
Very mean at heart, perplexed most unruly to cravings

Behold, He the universe strong held
Frames of creature, watches with strength, knows
Though subverted, ruined, ready against stronghold
Who knows Him, His essence, desire to save

Strayed out-frail understanding still
Arms to guide, guarding inept purpose, why live?
Hanging over him, why course, when, where of life?
String of destiny, ever to, will linger!

Wherever, Mighty hand time to fulfill
When to be, devastated but hands of faith
What a deliverer, He help to and fro send
Who, a father, lovely with hand mighty

 


BINI ISRAEL is a seasoned writer. He has been writing for the local and international media, and recently worked for Cherry Africa Magazine. He is married with a son.

Copyright © 2018 by Bini Israel. All rights reserved.