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Hello and welcome to the first issue of OffSIDE, Black Moss Press’ online

magazine. I was honoured when Marty Gervais approached me to work on this


exciting project. The opportunity to work with Canadian writers and showcase
their talents is something I am very proud to be a part of. Canadian literature,
especially the brand produced by Black Moss Press should be more accessible
worldwide. So to be able to work on a magazine distributed on the web
promoting these Canadian writers was something I immediately jumped on.

This issue gives a first look into highly anticipated books coming out this spring and summer from
Black Moss Press.We dedicate this issue to the memory of Leila Pepper who passed away on the
31st of December, 2009. She was a great poet that inspired many with her honest and uninhibited
work. She will be missed.

I would like to thank everyone who helped pull this project together. We hope you enjoy this
magazine and we look forward to making more!

Chris Andrechek
Managing Editor

Contents:
New at Black Moss Press January 2010

Susan McMaster
Paper Affair 2
Publisher: Marty Gervais
John B. Lee
Dressed in Dead Uncles 3
Managing Editor: Chris Andrechek
Dave Margoshes

Dimensions of an Orchard 4
Editors: Amber Pinsonneault
Bruce Meyer
Jordenne Rachelle
The Alphabet Table: Memoir of a
Childhood in the Language 5
Designer: Chris Andrechek
In Memoriam:
Leila Pepper 6
Contributing Photographers: Marty
Gervais, Sarah St. Pierre, Amber Pinsonneaut,
Top Shelf 8
Chelsie Marie Pritz
Poetry and Prose 10
OffSIDE is an e-magazine operated by BLACK
MOSS PRESS, a Canadian publishing house that has
been in operation for more than 40 years. We publish
poetry, fiction, non-fiction and photography. Many
Produced by the Black Moss Press editorial team in of our books have won national and international
conjunction with the English Department at the awards. Send submissions for OffSIDE to
University of Windsor. offsidezine@gmail.com
New at Black Moss Press

Susan McMaster
Satisfying on the page, these poems also
form both source and inspiration for much of
McMaster’s groundbreaking wordmusic with
First Draft and Geode Music & Poetry; this is
an important companion volume for readers
interested in her performance poetry and
recordings.

Paper Affair: Poems Selected and New provides a


comprehensive overview of Susan McMaster’s
best work between 1986 and 2007. It is a volume
that everyone who already appreciates her work
will want to own and an excellent introduction
to her unique poetry for all those who love
Canadian literature.

Paper Affair:
Poems Selected & New
Susan McMaster
is the author or editor of some 20 poetry books
In this collection of “Poems Selected and New”,
and recordings, Susan McMaster’s memoir, The
Susan McMaster’s passionate affair with words
Gargoyle’s Left Ear: Writing in Ottawa (2007) looks
on paper distills a quarter century of intense
back on three decades of writing, recording,
living into poetry that springs off the page and
and performance in Canada and abroad.
speaks directly to the reader.
She founded Canada’s first national feminist
magazine, Branching Out, and has edited such
Paper Affair draws together some 90 of
anthologies as Waging Peace and Siolence, along
McMaster’s most-loved poems from books,
with some 40 art catalogues for the National
publications, and anthologies that are now out
Gallery of Canada, where she worked for
of print. It starts with her first full collection,
twenty years. Her eighth poetry book, Crossing
Dark Galaxies, from 1986, and incorporates such
Arcs: Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me (Black
volumes as The Hummingbird Murders, Dangerous
Moss, November 2009), which pairs poems with
Graces, Learning to Ride, Uncommon Prayer,
quotes (in italics) from her mother, Betty Page, is
and Until the Light Bends, as well as poems
already in its second printing. Paper Affair: Poems
unpublished until now.
Selected & New collects her best work from the
1980s to now.
Included are lighthearted favourites like
as “Today I turned everything around”
and “Fucking in the afternoon”; works of
“uncommon” spirituality based on her Quaker
upbringing such as “How God sees” and
“Beware” ; explorations into philosophy,
science, and the human heart in pieces like
“Supersymmetry” and “The logic of hills”;
and evocations of love, grief, and unexpected
comfort in such series as “Voyageur” and
“Ordinary”.
New at Black Moss Press
John B. Lee morality is incidental to the poetry.”

True enough. John Lee is the master of the word,


and as one weaves through the lines of this
rich collection, there is that purest of vision, the
distinct recognition of humanity in all its foibles.

“The greatest living poet in English”


- George Whipple

John B. Lee
was inducted as Poet Laureate of Brantford in
perpetuity in 2005. The same year he received
the distinction of being named Honourary Life
Member of The Canadian Poetry Association. In
Dressed in Dead Uncles 2007 he was made a member of the Chancellor’s
Circle of the President’s Club of McMaster
Dressed in Dead Uncles is an eclectic collection University.
of recent poems from John B. Lee. The title He has well-over fifty books published to date
is an eponymous reference to a poem in the and is the editor of seven anthologies including
collection that honours his late uncles and two best-selling works: That Sign of Perfection:
humourously pokes fun at his own sartorial poems and stories on the game of hockey; and
predicament as a teacher of English when he Smaller Than God: words of spiritual longing.
resorted to wearing cast off clothing inherited In 2009 John won both the Golden Book
from late uncles. A dark elegy employing black Chapbook award for his chapbook, One Leaf
humour to honour the dead, it is in keeping in the Breath of the World, and the Rubicon
with a personal conviction that “much writing is Chapbook Award for his book, Let Light Try All
ancestor worship,” and “it is memory that keeps the Doors.
us sane.” His work has appeared internationally in
over 500 publications, and has been translated
In the editing process of these poems, which into French, Spanish, Korean, Hungarian and
range all over the map, Lee, a writer whose Chinese. He has read his work in nations all
involvement is clearly matched with an over the world including South Africa, France,
emphasis upon all things “souwesto,” wrote Korea, Cuba, Canada and the United States.
to one of the editors that in all poetry he He has received letters of praise from Nelson
looks for “the ideal reader.” But in doing so, Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Australian Poet, Les
he does steers away from being “in any way Murray, and Senator Romeo Dallaire. Called
exclusionary or elitist.” He says, “Let me clarify “the greatest living poet in English,” by poet
what I meant. Like a literary artist who wishes George Whipple, he lives in Port Dover, Ontario,
to satisfy and entertain the casual reader, but Canada where he works as a full time author.
who also wishes to reward the close reader, a
reader who might return again and again as
we do to Shakespeare who entertains, but also
rewards with a deeper understanding the reader
who returns to the text. That said, I agree with
your cautionary comments on didacticism.
Where you caution against ‘lecturing’, I am
entirely in accord. My poems are neither
didactic nor are they morality tales. The
New at Black Moss Press
Dimensions of an Orchard The Alphabet Table: Memoir of a
Childhood in the Language
This new book by Dave Nargoshes is a collection
of poems that treads territory between earthly Language is a miracle. It comes to us as a
desire and heavenly disdain. The first section, mystery that few of us remember. We spend the
Forms of Devotion, depicts a familiar cast of first years of our lives growing into it, as if it is
characters, including Adam and Eve, Cain and an oversized suit we have inherited from a dead
Abel, Job, Lot, Jesus, and, of course, God - even ancestor; yet to put on that suit, as sloppy as it
God’s wife makes an appearance. Poems in may be, is to discover a sense of liberation for
other sections look at art, the environment and the mind and soul. The sad thing is that few of
women in their various roles as mothers, lovers, us remember, in detail, those moments when we
wives... were transformed by the process of coming into
Dave Margoshes the language.
is a writer living in
Regina. His stories The Alphabet Table tells the story of how
are poems have been a writer not only remembers those special
widely published in epiphanies, but how he struggled, often
literary magazines and painfully, to grow into them . From the moment
anthologies throughout he taught himself to read or the instant he
North America. His first became aware of language itself to the
story collection, Bix’s realization that his life would be one spent
Trumpet and Other immersed in and dedicated to language, The
Stories, was named Alphabet Table examines the impact that words
Book of the Year at the 2007 Saskatchewan Book have on us. Where do words come from? What
Awards. His most recent book of poetry, The is the purpose of language? How do we use
Horse Knows the Way, was published in fall language to grow into ourselves and become
2009. His books include eight volumes of fiction, who we are?
four of poetry and a biography. Along the way,
he’s won a few awards, including the Stephen Bruce Meyer is the
Leacock Prize for Poetry, the John V. Hicks author of 30 books
Award for fiction, the City of Regina Writing including Dog Days:
Award and the Saskatchewan Book of the Year A Comedy of Terriers
Award in 2007. (Black Moss Press). He
His latest novel, Drowning Man, was published is Professor, University
in spring 2003. He’s also the author of a Tommy Studies, English at
Douglas: Building the New Society, a biography, Georgian College where
and a resource book on Saskatchewan used in he teaches in the Laurentian University BA
schools across the country and in the United program.
States.

Babel From The Alpahabet table:


When I was about two and a half or three and
Religion is the language ready to eat my meals at a real table, my mother
the snake employed when he went down to Honest Ed’s on Bloor Street
and returned home with a tray table. They
whispered to Eve, telling her
were new, almost novelty items in the early
delicious lies. Reason is the language 1960s. The premise behind this piece of fold-up
God thundered to show his pique furniture was that one was supposed to make a
that the snake had anticipated TV dinner, set up the tray table (often referred to
his next move. Adam resisted as a TV tray table), and eat dinner in front of the
cynicism, a language whose time TV or, after one was finished, lay the TV guide
upon it or fold the table and store it in a closet
had not yet come.
near the TV for the next night’s usage...
In Memoriam
Leila Pepper by Marty Gervais

I will never forget the three University of Windsor To those who knew her well, she was that smiling
students who went to see this elderly poet at the end of Walkerville woman whose exuberance and love of life
November. was evident in everything she did. She celebrated the
Maybe they expected someone feeble, someone whose moment.
mind slipped, but instead they encountered a woman Midland poet and friend Roger Bell said of her she
of wisdom, quick wit, and someone with spunk. was “so full of joy and laughter and energy.” Fellow
And when these students clambered into the car poet, friend and teacher Dorothy Mahoney said she
afterwards, they couldn’t stop talking about her. was “pretty special.” And Ottawa writer Ronnie Brown
One of them finally remarked, “I want to be just like described her perfectly when she wrote to say she was
her when I’m 96.” “one hell of a lady.”
The poet I’m speaking about is Leila Pepper. On New True enough.
Year’s Eve, she passed away.
I know why these three young university students
came away with the impression they did — they had Invasion
encountered someone independent, someone certain
about what she wanted in life, someone who didn’t by Leila Pepper from Love Poems for Several Men
speak in platitudes.
To them, “Danny,” as she was known to her friends, The moon-drenched lake is alien tonight
didn’t espouse feminism. She lived it in her own quiet, silver and cold from the window I stare
and conservative way. at the indifferent stars as they weave
And when these three students went to see her, she patterns of my childhood and I am sad
didn’t pat them on their wrists in a motherly way, and thinking of this old cottage when I am gone
confide in them how different or difficult life was for I am jealous too knowing that strangers
her. will hear the dark sound of racing water
Danny lived for today. as the waves’ wild horses mount the shore
She spoke clearly to each of them of what it meant to while in the shadowed room behind me there
be herself, to know it was never too late to strive for where flickering candles burn the hours down
perfection, and never too late to embrace one’s dreams. some unborn lovers’ eyes will hotly hold
She spoke of now, today, this moment. across the firm barrier of my oak table
In the space of a little more than an hour, those three and an intruder who does not care
students learned more about life than any credit course will take our pictures from the wall
this or any other university could offer.
That was Danny’s way.
hers and mine
If at times, Danny seemed self-deprecating, you knew By Sarah St. Pierre
better. She knew if her poems failed to lift off the page for Leila Pepper
and sing on their own. She knew if her message didn’t
quite materialize in the words she chose. She also knew her skin and hair, white and translucent
mediocrity when she saw it — you didn’t need to tell her forehead droops
her. She wouldn’t stand for it. almost
Danny knew, too, that if she had something she needed can’t see her eyes
to say, she was certain she’d find the words to do that. a cloudy blue
And like any poet, Danny, too, knew that at 96, she
was running out of time, and wondered out loud about “if you’ve lost your vanity”
the body of her work that had not yet seen the light of she declares
day. She had plans. She had ideas. She wasn’t about to “you might as well be dead”
stop. Not yet. she removes her oxygen tube
From an early age, Danny was writing. At 18, for the photo
she had published a story in the prestigious Liberty
magazine. But her career was put on hold to marry and cups behind us clink
raise a family. as residents celebrate
However, she never stopped writing. It was always a birthday
there. All through the Second World War, she kept a she’s celebrating too
diary. going home
But it wasn’t until Danny was in her 60s when “the house better be clean”
she started in earnest to pursue her career as a writer. she shakes her finger at her
She met the legendary W. O. Mitchell, the author middle-aged children
of Who Has Seen The Wind. Mitchell had come to
Windsor as the writer-in-residence. It was Mitchell who a voice interrupts on the PA
saw in Danny a writer of enormous talent. He offered we wait for the quiet
to help, mostly to encourage her and to light a fire “she’ll talk for a half an hour”
under her. From there, her work blossomed, and she she waves her hand
started publishing.
In 1997, Danny received the Mayor’s Award the quiet patience does triumph
for her book, Love Poems for Several Men, and made and I begin...
the headlines in her remark to then Mayor Mike Hurst.
The mayor, in mentioning that title, had remarked I’ve read this poem over the weekend
playfully, “I guess I’ll have to read that!” but mild butterflies rumble
Danny, in typical spunky style, shot back, “Why don’t must get the words right
you buy a copy!” after all, they’re hers
Her words stole the show. my eyes scan lines
In November when I accompanied these students — my mouth forms words
Sarah St. Pierre, Marie Jeannette and Kellie Chouinard a poem
— to visit Danny, it was for the intention of doing a shimmering in the space
performance of her work for her. between her face and mine
In a small way, it was to honour her. It was to celebrate I’m in my own head
her writing. At the time, she was living at Central Park and yet, I hear another voice
Lodge, and the students sat in wonder before this feisty I glance up to see
woman with wit and charm. she’s staring at me, repeating her words
And when they read from her books, they caught birthed from the ancient typewriter she asks for
Danny shutting her eyes and moving her lips, silently I’ve come to the last line
mouthing the words of her poems. In that moment, no need to look at the page
they had made a connection with this woman. her eyes and mine
It was something they will never forget. our mouths synchronized
It’s that connection that is so familiar to all those who even with an exhaling breath
knew Danny Pepper. She had a way of getting into the poem hovers
your heart. She was a treasure. disappears in her smile
Top
Shelf
Maria’s Nightmare
By Elizabeth Teichroeb But sometimes a hitch in the family’s plan would
© 2009 Kathleen Quiring require the children to spend a month or so in school.
Maybe the father would have a few more weeks
When I was a kid, not many people noticed the required of him at the factory; maybe relatives would
Old Colony Mennonites. need the house in Mexico for a while longer. Then
the nervous children would timidly occupy desks in
But I noticed them. I remember them. This the classrooms and huddle with their siblings beside
is because I had a unique perspective: I was one of the school walls during recess, until their chance to
them. I shared their history, and the fear of the disappear arrived again. As soon as the opportunity
dominant culture that has been bred into their blood arose for the family to return to Mexico the children
courses through my own body. Except that I grew vanished again without a trace. Everyone expected it.
up differently, because my mom once dreamed of They came and went like snowfalls. Teachers merely
being a writer. All her life, she has regretted the way endured the children’s temporary stay. Nobody in
her parents moved her and her family from home school ever bothered to get to know these kids – first
after home, school after school, always running, as of all, because of the damage it would inflict on their
Mennonites do, leaving her unable to spell out a reputations; secondly, because Old Colony Mennonites
single sentence. So she made sure that we, her own usually speak only an obsolete dialect of German; and
children, would live in the same town throughout our thirdly, because everyone knew they wouldn’t be there
childhoods, going to the same school and growing up for long. However, sometimes – if the Mennonite child
pretty much like non-Mennonites, so that we could was particularly odious in appearance or manner – the
read and write. And through the years of my childhood “English” kids (as Mennonites call them) would have
I watched my people fade in and out of our lives. I saw some fun with them before they disappeared again
what went through. forever.

In the little rural grade school where I spent my When my classmates and I graduated from
childhood, kids were accustomed to seeing Mennonite kindergarten we entered what was old territory for
children in their awkward dress and blushing freckled Maria Neudorf. She was in her third year of grade one
faces enter the school system for a month or two and and therefore she had already sustained the torments
then disappear. It is generally understood among Old of two other classes before mine got to her. Her father
Colony Mennonites that the public school system is had evidently gotten a good-paying factory job here
a corrupting force. There is no mandatory education in Ontario, and the family had decided to stay. In
system in Cuauhtémoc, Mexico, so that is where most addition to the cardinal sin of begin conspicuously
of them have settled. But as it became increasingly Mennonite, she committed the horrendous crime
difficult for them to earn a living in Mexico, many of being ugly. She was big for her age, which was
families in the 1980’s and 90’s started coming back to compounded by the fact that she was older than the
Canada to work for short periods of time. Everyone in rest of us. She had dark brown hair that hung in thin,
Leamington was familiar with the cycle by the time I greasy curls around large white ears that stuck out. She
was in elementary school: the families of five to twelve had a wide face, lipless mouth and tiny squinty eyes.
would come out in spring each year when it was too Her voice was hollow and hoarse. Her throat and left
late to enrol in school, and, as soon as they were able, cheek were covered in faint brown skin discolorations
mother and children were out on the tomato and bean that resembled coffee stains. Her old hand-me-down
fields with their wide-brimmed hats while the father clothes smelled of what I believed for most of my life
took shifts at the factory. As soon as they started to be the smell of Mennonites; I would later learn that
getting calls from the school board in the fall, these it was merely the smell of poverty. Maria’s third and
families would disappear again to their farms in Mexico worst crime was that she was not ashamed.
until the monster subsided again the following spring.
Maria was thus a source of great amusement I clearly remember the thrill we all felt at the news the
for the other kids. They called her Maria Diarrhea, next morning – we rushed over to Gary, a classmate
taunting her by claiming she smeared the contents of and the prime witness, to get as much information
her toilet onto her neck to give her the brown marks as we could at recess. When did it happen? Did he
on her face. Our classmate Derek noticed a striking see the ambulance? Was there blood? The next day,
resemblance between Maria and the pair of gorillas Jimmy’s cast was met with great reverence: at recess
pictured on the the kids solemnly signed it with a marker he’d brought
from home and took turns asking question about what
classroom calendar, and started a trend in which he it felt like to have a broken arm and what the casting
and the others would pull on their ears and puff up process was like. Ellen and I even followed him around
their cheeks and make monkey noises in her presence. during the lunch break to see how he managed with
Since Maria wasn’t shy, there were many opportunities his plastered arm. It was not every day that a kid knew
for them to gleefully attack her mispronunciations of someone with a broken appendage.
words and awkward vocabulary: like most English-
speaking Mennonites, she would innocently use words However, I don’t even have a vague memory
like “ass” in everyday speech, which is scandalous in of how Maria broke her arm that year. But she did. I
grade one and would be reported to the teacher with don’t even know if it happened at school or at home.
great relish. For the most part, though, kids ignored It just didn’t matter. Nobody cared. I only remember
her, not thinking she was really worth their attention; that at one point she had a cast and a sling. It was big
the mockery only tended to occur when she made a and bent and . . . bare. Just dirty white. No signatures.
spectacle of herself by saying something inappropriate Insignificant.
in class or laughing too loudly at jokes that the in-and- One day, when our class was playing tag on the
out Mennonites made to her in German. She never playground equipment at recess, I was rounding the
cried over the taunts so I assumed they didn’t bother end of the wooden bridge by the firefighter pole when
her. I noticed Maria sitting on the playground gravel with
her back against an orange plastic wall, her shoulders
Maria was one of the few Mennonites outside slumped and her good arm clutching her cast. Afraid
of my own family I ever got to know as a kid. Since that she had re-injured her broken arm I stopped to
I had no popularity to lose, I allowed her to be my ask if she was okay. She looked up at me with her
backup partner when my usual buddy, my cousin big brown face full of tears and anguish. I decided to
Bernie, wasn’t in class or was taken by someone else. sit down next to her and ask her what was wrong: an
And since I was relatively respected for being smart, injury would be rather exciting to report to the lunch-
I periodically acted as a meagre shelter for her to hour monitor. She explained that the boys had been
hide behind in times of great distress. In this way, teasing her again. I was a little disappointed. It didn’t
we established a bit of a friendship during our year seem like a very big deal. This kind of thing happened
together. She lived just down my street, so sometimes, all the time, I figured she should be used to it by now.
when my sister and I biked down the road, she would I asked her why that would make her cry. Her voice
come out and let us play with her skinny three- went high and cracked as she wailed, “You would cry
legged kitten until her mother’s angry voice called too if all your worst nightmares came true!” and she
her back inside. I was too young and naïve to feel dropped her head again, sobbing loudly as the tears
uncomfortable with the old, stuffy smell that wafted dripped onto her faded purple jogging pants. I felt
out from their ill-repaired windows and the long weedy rather awkward at these strangely adult words, not
lawn that whipped at our legs as we walked across her knowing how to respond in children’s terms. I spent
yard. the rest of the recess just sitting there, quietly shifting
around white stones on the ground with my fingers
One day during that same year, Jimmy Langley while she sniffed and stared mournfully at her blank
fell off the monkey bars after school and broke his arm. cast.
The last thing I remember of Maria was that she wore homemade brown pants can be seen wandering around
an old-fashioned velvet dress with navy ribbons and town on Sundays, shyly clustered together and avoiding
bows on the last day of school. The kids made fun of eye contact with the other people in the streets. Many
her, asking if she was going to a ball to dance with the more Mennonites these days, however, are taking the
prince, but she was proud of her fancy clothes. I never same path that my parents did. They are buying little
saw her again. Her parents must have finally found a houses for their enormous families and beginning to
better place to take her, somewhere where education send their children to regular public schools, looking as
would no longer be able to corrupt her and her family. much like the other kids as is possible in second-hand
I doubt any of the other kids noticed. I even wonder clothes. Nowadays many Mennonite kids even tend to
how long it took me to notice that she was gone. By be indistinguishable from the others, as more families
grade two I was busy trying to be friends with Josie, a are made up of literate parents who no longer fear the
pretty new “English” girl from Ohio. dominant culture.

Maria is only one example of dozens of other But I, like many others who grew up the way
Mennonites who passed in and out of our class, all I did, can pick out a Mennonite in a moment without
leaving only faint traces of memories in my mind, all even talking to them or hearing their giveaway last
crying out for significance. I recall Agatha, bent over names. Though often dressed and groomed in exactly
her desk with her face pressed into the inside of her the same way as the rest of the kids, I can just sense it,
elbow and her long red hair shaking with her sobs as in a way I am still trying to figure out. I can feel my
the boys pointed and laughed at her lumpy homemade kinship to them. And I know they can pick me out
lunch. I remember Neta, dressed in a homemade purple too. Like them, I also still find myself occasionally
dress and second-hand freezing under the gaze of the average Weltmensch
(“worldly person”), whether university professor,
green corduroys, bravely delivering a speech about police officer, or dentist; I hold my breath, afraid
birds in front of her class in her best English, to the they will notice I don’t belong. I feel the fear of the
scorn and delight of her the other kids. I remember Mennonites – their fear of insignificance in a world
the boy who didn’t make it past his first week of school, that has never valued any group of people that lacks
weeping fearfully at the doorway of the school bus a written language or a country of their own. Their
because he didn’t see his name over any of the seats aunts, uncles and older siblings can attest to the pain
and he couldn’t understand the bus driver. A guy from of not mattering. They have felt Maria’s nightmare and
grade eight loudly observed: “He’s crying just ’cuz he shuddered.
doesn’t have a seat!” And I remember the bus-driver’s
son pointing at the Mennonites outside in their yards as
we drove along and shouting, “M&M’s!” – the code-
word for “Mexican-Mennonites,” the most offensive
name for a fellow human being available at that age.

Things have slowly been changing, though.


Fewer and fewer Mennonites are living the way they
did when I was a kid – at least in Canada. My culture
is changing with alarming rapidity considering my age
(I’m only twenty-one) and the differences I can already
see. A few Mennonite schools have been established
in the county, so families don’t have to run to Mexico
every fall. Many families are beginning to settle here
for good. All year long, now, groups of teenaged
Mennonites in their matching floral dresses or
Indescribable if you want to start somewhere, you should start here.
this is important.
© 2009 Matt Fryer

i have forgotten what really happened, how it started
Indescribable. (ended). i know less now than when i began.
she is what defines nothing
mint conditions, everything is perfect * * * * *
forbidden fantasies, courageously craving
passionately pursuing i plan. everything is planned. maps on my bedroom
treasures unknown placed delicately wall are filled with penned lines, route connections,
words and voice combining in beautiful sounds times, speeds. i plan the route i will take when i bike
untouchable, glowing halo across canada. i plan the route i will take when i travel
eyes opened with sites seen europe by train. everything is planned and taped up.

seen sites with opened eyes * * * * *
halo glowing, untouchable
sounds beautiful in combining voice and words this is how it happened:
delicately placed unknown treasures
pursuing passionately i wasn’t wearing a helmet. canada day 2008 & i was
craving courageously, fantasties forbidden biking downtown side streets. maybe i drank too much
perfect is everything, conditions mint water (maybe i didn’t drink enough). i glanced down at
nothing defines what is she. the map clipped to my handlebar, lines drawn in black
Indescribable. ink (route marker). i looked up at the point of impact.
the car’s front end colliding with my bike/colliding
with me. metal kissing skin.
postpartum
© 2009 Sarah Morris i was more upset about the silver cross being torn off
my neck than about the blood. dripping from my arm,
the baby was not born in the hospital my fingers, down my leg. riding pants torn up the leg,
but dug out from the cracked sidewalk, knee to hip. my leg torn up. the car with a smashed
not floret of marigold headlight, gash across the hood. the woman driving
but the root of a mandrake, yelling at me. like it was my fault. like i had the stop
pulled out into the world sign.
with a violent grasp from blistered hand.
i couldn’t hear her over the ringing in my ears. i kept
thrown away in the field hearing her car & my bike impacting, the crunch of
watched by creeping charlie metal on metal. couldn’t feel the throbbing down my
and queen ann’s lace right side.

on my next bike ride, i look down at the map still
clipped to my handlebar, & am surprised to see drops
the other side of red blood dried on the paper, on the black routing
© 2009 Kellie L. Chouinard
lines. i am surprised to find blood dried onto the brown
leather handlebars and seat, onto the orange-painted
when you start something, you should start at the
steel tubing.
beginning. or the end. move backward in time until

months and years blur together and you forget how old
* * * * *
you are in each scene. in each line. if you start at the end,

you may remember what the beginning was when you
there’s a dream i have.
get there. i have invented so many beginnings that are

endings, i don’t know which is real.
i’m walking in the snow, listening to the crunch crunch

under the soles of my shoes, & i’m holding a pair of

gloves in my hand. i don’t know why i’m not wearing
the gloves. my hands are red-cold, knuckles cracked Do contractions count as one word?
& bleeding. i’m walking across a bridge & the wind
is so strong it keeps pushing me backward, i have to “Let me just tell you that—”
lean, walk hunched forward. i’m crossing this twelve
kilometre bridge between nova scotia & pei. i can see “Oh my God! Look out behind—”
the other side & it’s sunny. the beaches are naked sand,
the trees are green, people are swimming. every time i He wanted her to want him.
look up, i want to be on the other side so much that i
walk faster & faster until i’m running. but the thing is, i She stole coolers from the fridge.
never do get across. the bridge just keeps getting longer.
“I should have used protection.”
* * * * *
He really should have used protection.
if you want to end, start here:
And that’s the last we heard.
it was july 1987. i had a pink & red tricycle, white
streamers on the handlebars & my sister riding along He didn’t like the taste.
on the back.
He did not like the taste.
there was a man in a car, two blocks from home. jeans
& fingerless gloves (black, studs at the knuckles) & The drink’s taste made him nauseous.
i don’t remember his shirt. he held a hand out to me
& i remember his acne-scarred face, red bumps rising He said, “NASCAR isn’t a sport!”
out of tanned skin. crooked teeth. i remember cowboy
boots even though i didn’t see them (he was in the car). Steven punched him. He punched back.
pushing the passenger door open, saying he had candy.
dried blood on the passenger seat, on the red velvet “She was grinding against me!”
interior.
The bouncer confiscated his fake ID.
i remember a woman in the backseat. she was smoking,
flicking ash out the window. The Wonder Dog wasn’t so wonderful.

the tricycle moving down the sidewalk & then my sister She laughed so hard she peed.
& i banging on the screen door, our front door, & the
tricycle abandoned on the grass. She cried so hard she peed.

A high school senior, inspired by Ernest “The Best Picture Oscar goes to…”

Hemingway’s possibly apocryphal “She wrapped her car around a—”


example, tries his hand at composing a
six word story “Seriously. He’s got a thyroid problem.”
© 2009 Brian Jansen
“To defuse the bomb, cut the—”
For sale: Fender amp. Used once.
Great big tits. I’m in love.
Dog for sale: a loyal Lab.
Do you think it was deliberate?
Fender guitar for sale: never touched.
She found it less than erotic.
He bought it to impress girls.
They pretended not to be sad.
There’s a fly in his soup.
It seemed like a good idea.