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winter 2019

The ALP

Mandate
Good. Short. Writing. The Anti-Languorous Project is an
online open-access creative writing hub that publishes
antilang., a magazine of literary brevity, and soundbite, an
audio collection of byte-sized readings. Show, don’t tell;
imply and implicate. Antithesize languorous language.

antilang., no. 3
Published by The Anti-Languorous Project
Saskatoon, SK, Treaty 6 Territory, Winter 2019

Edited by Allie McFarland & Jordan Bolay
Layout & Design by Jordan Bolay

Cover by Heather Myers
Logos & Art Direction by Lissa McFarland

ISSN 2561-5610, key title: antilang. (online)

All rights revert to the authors and artists upon publi-
cation. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced
without permission from the artists.

The ALP is a federally registered non-profit organisation.
We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada.

@antilangmag / antilang.ca
antilang. no. 3

Contents
Dominik Parisien 1 To write you en français
2 What You Learn, Drowning

ryan fitzpatrick 3 A Less Original Life
4 Assembly, For What It's Worth

Linda McMullen 5 Lauren and the Robin

Christopher Brown 10 Tinder Darling

Miles Mattix 12 Daily Update
13 March

Meaghan Hackinen 14 El Cien

Frances Boyle 16 Beam
18 Choler
19 Unrehearsed

Adrienne Adams 20 Origins

Cameron G. Muir 21 Inertia

Kilmeny MacMichael 23 Love in a Time of Locusts

Winter 2019
Emily Campbell 28 “Minor Scratches on Interior”
29 early bloomer
30 premature

Sarah Varnam 31 Flesh Fashions
32 Sanity

Carol Krause 33 their hands were full of love
34 passing through

Jessica Anne Robinson 35 like mother

Rachel Kearney 36 Mother's Pearls Won't Get You
out of This One

Megan Misztal 38 Salt

Lisa Baird 39 When I think of him now
40 Windbreak
41 To the Anti-Abortion Organiza-
tion That Raised $91,000 to
Build an Abortion-and-Mis-
carriage Grieving Garden
Complete with a Statue of
Jesus Holding a Dead Baby

Melinda Khalif 42 Woman's Womb
43 Henna
44 Empty Spaces

Emma Tilley 45 The Cysterhood
48 Forecast

Kate Boychuk 49 Miniature Suns

Kitty Hardy 55 Elope

Tasnuva Hayden 59 Low Tide

Owen Schalk 62 Cried for Night

antilang. no. 3
Roger Moore 66 M.T. Head

Rosalind Goldsmith 69 The One About—

Trevor Moran 73 The Boy Who Brought the Rain

Marija Lukic 81 My Roommate, the Vampire

Winter 2019
Dominik Parisien

To write you en français
Is to remember
I am learning to forget
the days I dreamt in a different tongue.

I know now words can change
across great distances
as we can
and have
so I resist writing you
en français
for fear the tu
of tu me manques
might not mean you
but only the words themselves.

And, yet,
French still haunts
une ligne ou deux
like the half-glimpsed ghosts
of our yesterdays.

antilang. no. 3 |1
What You Learn, Drowning
Lungs full of river
his lips breathed
into me new life.

2| Dominik Parisien
ryan fitzpatrick

A Less Original Life
O Jughead, I’m tired. I lock my verbs
to spin in place. What taste is there
in questioning this form? I hate it.

Punch the constant clock behind
my eyes. Make sense. State sentence.
Dense syntax. Tense stack. Slack off.

Fuck. It’s all too abstract then,
this poem an array of debts. A tongue
side quench set to mere elocution.

Stamped exceptional. Slide knife
into collapsed set. Slide outline
into category. These sticky thefts.

antilang. no. 3 |3
Assembly, For What It’s Worth
Oh, you just put things together is what
I heard. I only spent 40 years on it,
but somehow connected all the dots.

It’s everyone else’s fault. That’s a
structural assessment, not an ironic
rejoinder or a knee-jerk reaction.

It’s tough, the viscosity of space. The
relations that put everyone in place.
The complexity of it is overwhelming.

So, I don’t get reducing an affect to
“lol so random,” you know? I try not to
miss the non-sequitur for the trees.

4| ryan fitzpatrick
Linda McMullen

Lauren and the Robin
A failing November sun transfigures the window into a
mirror, and shows a fat robin his doppelganger. His wings
startle the glass for the fifteenth time. I had waved him
off, sort of, after his fourth or fifth attempt—but he, like
Elizabeth Warren, persisted.

I put the finishing touches on my review of Monopoly for
Millennials for my “occasional” column at the Midwest Falls
Mail (“Skip the game and save your money for avocado
toast.”). Mom calls, from downstairs, “Lauren, I thought
I’d run to Kohl’s, do you want a ride?”

Mom is navigating this boomerang generation thing as
well as anyone—often by inventing trips to department
stores when there’s a 40% chance of snow and my shift
starts in an hour. Has anybody in the Twitterverse
created a portmanteau for endearing and enervating yet?
(#endearivating)

“Thanks, Mom, but I’m biking!”

antilang. no. 3 |5
“OK,” she calls. When I come downstairs, she says her 30%
off coupon expired and maybe she’ll go later. Presumably,
whenever I’m working next.

“Mom, did you want me to pick up a box of truffles for
tomorrow?”

The Turners are coming over for dinner, and to regale us
with Ryan’s Budding-Genius-In-Residency tales, and to
watch the Packers on Thursday Night Football. I guess I
forgot to tell Barnes & Noble I needed the night off. But Mom
did offer me a ride, so the least I can do is use my employee
discount to obtain slightly stale Godiva chocolates.

“Yes, thanks, hon.”

She’ll reimburse me on the pretext that it’s her friends
coming over and I wasn’t even there to enjoy (“enjoy”) it.
Maybe I’d be less of an ingrate if I were paying my own
rent.

The first downy flakes tickle my nose, and my bike whines
about its rheumatism. I’m not worried, this snow won’t
stick, but passing cars announce doubts about my choice
of transport. It doesn’t matter. I coast down East Avenue
past Aster, Bellflower, and Camellia (fanciful city planners,
obv.) and make a slight detour down Daffodil. I check my
watch. I’ve got five minutes, tops.

It’s 2:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. Matt’s not home, of course;
according to Facebook he got a real job at Alpha Chemical
right out of undergrad. But a Prius sits in the driveway—
It’s Hadley’s, you idiot.

6| Linda McMullen
Amalgamating data from Facebook, Instagram, et al.—the
inductive augury/divination method of our day—Hadley
is a vegan barre instructor at a boutique studio near the
Salem Heights (the only Salem neighborhood meriting a
definite article). Because of course she is.

All those clichés about how junior-year study abroad can
change your life are true. It doubled my college debt; it
prevented me from holding my dying grandmother’s hand;
and it cost me the only guy with whom I’d ever camped,
slept, or exchanged I love yous.

The snowfall has gone from snow-globe décor to nuisance.
It’s hard to see, but possibly a blonde head is pulling back
the curtain…

…Heigh-ho, off to work I go.

That mindfulness podcast insisted that you should take a
moment to appreciate little things. So when I arrive at work,
I don’t think about the runny-nosed pre-kindergarteners
wiping surreptitious snot bubbles under the train table. I
instead inhale the intoxicating aroma of wood pulp, fresh
ink, and industrial glue, with notes of bitter coffee and wet
parka. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

A line spirals toward the in-house Starbucks; Barbara, the
manager, offers her best side-eye emoji impression as I hop
onto the register.

Dad’s voice in my head says: “How is that English major
working out for you, Lauren?” (In real life Mom hissed,
“Arthur, really,” and cut me an extra-large brownie.)

Lauren and the Robin |7
“Hey!” exclaims Danielle, when the line ebbs. She forgot to
take out her nose ring. She’s the only person from work I
actually text. “I’ve got news!”

“You won your dispute with Venmo?”

She offers bedazzled-Disney-princess-eyes. “What?—no.
But I just heard I’m off the waitlist and I’M STARTING MY
MFA IN JAN-U-A-RY!”

Something lurches between my throat and my diaphragm,
though I can probably rule out seasickness inside a Barnes
& Noble. “Congratulations!” I squeak. Then, in a human-
sounding voice, “They liked your work?”

“Yes!” she squeals, too ecstatic to note any questionable
phrasing. She writes YA drivel—this isn’t a slam on young
adult literature, The Hunger Games and The Outsiders occupy
prime real estate on my shelf—but, objectively, her writing
is missing something. Punctuation, consistent verb tenses,
plots not freely adapted from Mean Girls.

“I’m moving between Christmas and New Year’s,” she
grins. “Chicago, baby!” Not too happy to be generous, she
adds, “You should apply too! You’d totally get in.” She
smirks. “If they like that sarcastic stuff.”

“And give up all this?” I ask, gesturing grandly, as a
nearsighted mother drags a crumb-coated toddler by the
child-backpack-cum-leash toward us. “I can help you here,
ma’am.”

Later, Barbara gives me a break from the register, asks if

8| Linda McMullen
she can see me in the back room.

“Lauren, I wanted to let you know, before—”

Here it comes.

“I’m going with Sam for the assistant manager job. I’d
welcome your trying again. In a year or two. With a little
more…”

Entire worlds evolve, expand, and explode in that sigh.

“I get it,” I say.

Matt’s lights are on when I bike home. He’s probably
cuddling Hadley on the sofa; I can see the tops of their
heads leaning against each other. I’d supplant her without
a thought. Who says millennials killed romance?

On Thursday morning, Mom asks if I could please vacuum,
and I follow the familiar grooves in the carpet. The robin
is preening on the porch railing, staring down his rival,
who is doing likewise. He launches himself at the hated
apparition, with savage slashes of beak and wing; the
window rattles and the robin bounces off, bewildered.
Then he springs back into action.

Again.

And again.

I throw open the window, and shout, “It’s November,
dumbass! Aren’t you supposed to migrate?”

Laura and the Robin |9
Christopher Brown

Tinder Darling
We went to the zoo and watched the bears. It was your
idea—animals were something we had in common.
Baking, local sports, road tripping, ale. We kept the careful
space of strangers who might, in a crowd, accidently
collide. I spilled myself how I always do, a watershed too
eager to prove its depth. And you responded with that
quiet I’d grown familiar with from all my flops before
you. I would have fled except for the sudden, gentle
weight on my shoulder, your hand like a wish granted.
You steered me toward something in the pen beside us, a
blackish heap just out of view. Bear in the shade.

—Is it sleeping?

—No, it’s hiding. From us.

Later, when you ended things, I social-sinned and called
you. Startled us both. But I thought we had something.
The mercy in your touch. I knew I could be disorderly—
know. If that was off-putting, I could chill. Would chill.

10 | antilang. no. 3
I told you this and picked at a zit on my neck til it bled.

The bear never moved while we stood there. People
passed, the sun crept over, and the bear never moved.
If you watched close enough, though, you’d see the
reluctant rise and fall of its belly: nature, the traitor that
it ever was.

Tinder Darling | 11
Miles Mattix

Daily Update
Sunlight bounds in after all.
A scattered flower, a fuzzy speaker,
clean the beater with the birds flying out,
the children claustrophobic.

Your euthanizers trail confetti across the plains.

12 | antilang. no. 3
March
First, a fossil, a helmet
you liked to hum, a long grass rustle out into the sea,
a gust of molars from a muttering grave.

Miles Mattix | 13
Meaghan Hackinen

El Cien
Cardon cactuses spike from grit, mountains bluing into the
distance. You and I cycling this heat-weary highway for
weeks, each day a repetition of the last. When we break for
water I swear I hear the asphalt crackle under sun.

You lost supper last night on gravel behind a taco stand,
some small town miles from anywhere. You crunched
back to the tent, asked what we were doing here. It’s been
so long since we left.

I quit my job for this, you said.

Today, I point to a prickly pear cactus bent into a ginger-
bread man, a turkey vulture’s wing-fingered shadow—as
if these small spectacles will persuade you.

A switch-backed slope before the highway arcs into a bowl
where things become greener—from some concealed seam
in the landscape butterflies pour in. And the fluttering
parade, postage-sized specks, jolts my memory so I recall

14 | antilang. no. 3
El Cien—one hundred—the name of the Baja town where we
slept last night. And now butterflies beat by the thousands,
sky a chartreuse cloud, thrum of wings and I no longer
need to explain.

El Cien | 15
Frances Boyle

Beam
—cuts through murk, sifts
sediment through fingers
suspends it in the sparkle-tour sabre
that pierces in moments of splash—
tossing water drops so light-tips shine.

—reaches for waterstriders’s
skate over surface, undercuts
frog croak, cicada zing (so few her friends
so short her stay) angles at dawn
and twilight, turns water into trifle—
thick layers that filter one into another.

16 | antilang. no. 3
Beam dapples through tree branches,
caresses ripples, plunges for depths
challenging the shallows,
the pebble rush.

—sings choruses of warm, hums
her way through daylight, invisible
until she strokes through water,
greens it new.

Beam | 17
Choler
Skyscape of shaking fists,
credulous timpani-clatters.
I quake with the others, feel
our terra firma buckle
beneath, the anger a simmer,
a settling fire. Why is the earth
angry at heaven? The stars shed tears,
the sun sweats with the effort
of making dirt breathe, respiration
a release into warmth. Earth,
a sulky teen, wants to make it
on her own, absent the overseeing
single eye by day, the winking
spies by night. Earth resents
the expectation of gratitude
that shines down with the light,
pours down liquid with rain, taps
a morse code reminder with hail
or snow. The earth is angry,
grumbling, afraid the many faces
of heaven will turn away,
leave her as a cold blue stone.

Note: The italicized phrase is from Louise Glück’s “Copper
Beech” in The Seven Ages

18 | Frances Boyle
Unrehearsed
A day of vast clouds and sunshine
built upon ghosts. Bird calls

are sirens, allarums. Half-empty

courtyards where echoes wind and
welcome you. Black silhouettes
on fence-tops see-saw through
summer slush. We enter rapid

stage left, astrut, practice
our pacings,
our automaton grimaces.

Frances Boyle | 19
Adrienne Adams

Origins
My mother picks alfalfa off the road.
Tastes, asphalt with her nose,
picks the sun clean.
Sky dreams as farmed woods
fold history within their bellies.
Baba, I’ve become a black sheep.
You taught knitting needles to dance once,
I remember how bitter peas polkaled
up your lawn,
ringed ‘round your garden,
and horse-radish tears spit wooden spoons.
Grain threshers chased children through fields.
Rocky Mountains birth
your memory,
smells like alfalfa to me.

20 | antilang. no. 3
Cameron G. Muir

Inertia
When I was fourteen, I sat in the very back of our family’s
Dodge Sportsman van as it ran out of gas somewhere
along Highway 39 between Weyburn and Yellow Grass.
I seemed to be the only one to notice the sputter, the
engine dying then catching again, the slight changes in
momentum. Framed in a window beside me, the late
summer swaths of grain streamed past in orderly lines.
If I stared, keeping my head still, the swaths moved not
at all but merely wavered as we passed occasional hills
or sloughs.

The engine’s sound finally gave way to the radials’ soft
flapping on the pavement, but Dad continued to steer,
and Mom continued to look down and count stitches as
if nothing could dare happen until she knitted to the end
of her row. My little brother kept his head low, inches
from his Archie comic, as if in prayer. Dad leaned toward
the front dash, letting three and a half tons of metal and
people and baggage roll on, aided by the prevailing wind,
until he finally guided it to the shoulder. We stopped just

antilang. no. 3 | 21
short of a roadside picnic area that beckoned with a sign,
“Don’t be a Litterbug!”

Still, my parents sat in their captain’s chairs, separated
by the bulge of a 360 cubic-inch V-8, a massive engine
that Dodge engineers couldn’t quite fit under the hood.
My little brother looked up from his comic book. Mom
lowered her knitting. Dad swivelled in his chair and said,
“That’s it, I guess.” I should have offered to walk with
him to the next farm, but I was lazy, I was pissed off, and
I didn’t.

Two years later, my parents divorced without any
shouting. When Dad left with two suitcases, he lingered
at the front door and patted his pockets. I could hear Mom
and the vacuum downstairs—for it was a Saturday—and
my brother pounding out Chopsticks on the piano. Dad
patted his pockets one more time and fished out his keys,
held them in his palm as if there were some answers
there, maybe even some questions. I opened the door for
him, held up one of his bags and said, “That’s it, I guess.”

22 | Cameron Muir
Kilmeny MacMichael

Love in a Time of Locusts
At ten years old, the future scientist pushed the lawn
mower quick as her might allowed across the browning
lawn in front of her family’s home. As soon as the chore
was complete, she could return to reading the mystery
she had checked out from the library the day before.

A mangled grasshopper corpse was flung up by the
mower’s spinning blades. It hit her in the face.

She wiped her cheek and was careful to watch for more…
After the lawn was cut, she stretched out on the grass. She
captured a live grasshopper in her hands to study. Later
she determined it was likely Melanoplus bivittatus, the
two-striped grasshopper of the prairies. She discovered
compound eyes and upside down knees. She fell in love.

The future scientist learned of locusts: when weather
conditions create overcrowded and hungry grasshopper
populations, some grasshopper species change into locust;
they look and act differently than solitary grasshoppers;

antilang. no. 3 | 23
they swarm, first on land as marching nymphs, and
then in the air, travelling long distances and eating all
vegetation in their path.

If she could, she would visit Nebraska in June of 1875,
to see “Albert’s Swarm.“ This was an infestation of an
estimated 3.5 trillion individual Rocky Mountain locusts
covering over 450 square miles. Thirty years later, the last
of the Rocky Mountain locust species was recorded. Any
“locust swarms” reported since then in the USA or Canada
were only a lot of grasshoppers, not true locusts. They still
did damage, but they were nothing like the real thing.

When she learned of the demise of the Rocky Mountain
locust, the now-teenaged future scientist felt guilty on
behalf of her ancestors. They had ploughed, flooded and
flailed a magnificently prolific species off the face of the
planet. She felt cheated, angry. Her ancestors had destroyed
yet another wonder of the world before she even existed.

She learned that locusts still flew in other parts of the
world. Other people dreamed of travelling the world to
see rare flowers bloom or to see the sun eclipsed. She day-
dreamed of travelling for locust swarms while enduring
long lectures at university.

The scientist's first swarm was in northern Kenya. In
flight the swarm sounded like dry leaves blowing along
a road, or water falling down a gravel creek bed. As the
people around despaired, she was overcome with awe in
the face of this eerie life force. She fell in love again.

She met her future husband.

24 | Kilmeny MacMichael
“There are too many people,” she complained to him.
“We can’t even stop slaughtering elephants. What chance
do locusts have?”

“Fine,” he said, “Which person will you tell, ‘Sorry, you
are one of the one too many? You are diminishing my
enjoyment of an animal that you view as your enemy.
The pioneer farmers of America destroyed their locusts
and established a life of luxury for their descendants. But
you can’t do that. If you do, you will ruin my vacation
plans.’ How wickedly elitist can you be?”

When the scientist didn’t respond, he continued, “Our
first duty, as humans, is to other humans. If you want,
advocate for fewer children in the future. Fewer people
should mean more room for other species. But you don’t
get to decide which people—right now—have a greater
right to a good life than others. Unless you think people
are unworthy of life. Do you? Do you believe that?”

The scientist was ashamed. She took up the fight against
the locust. Of course people had to come first. If there
were going to be more and more people on the earth, then
there had to be fewer locusts. It was sad but true.

Decades later, she was still fighting the locust. She worked
for the UN. She oversaw the spread of targeted parasites
and rained pesticides down on emergent locust swarms.
She tried to save the crops of all the world’s people.

She was still married, but she no longer lived with her
husband.

Love in a Time of Locusts | 25
She was tired at the end of a long day of conferences in
Mexico.

A young entomologist invited her out for an evening drive.

In the car, the scientist babbled. “Sometimes I wonder if
we are the true locusts. More and more of us, and no more
space. We, only moderately destructive on an individual
scale, morphing into our locust forms. Devouring
everything we can, including each other, in a desperate
bid for survival.”

The young entomologist didn’t say anything.

She continued, “I also have this fear, or perhaps it is a
nightmarish hope. If humankind pushes too hard against
nature, it will strike back, fierce and merciless. Locusts
are manifestations of desperation, they are born of
impending starvation. If we keep pushing nature …well,
sometimes late at night, I imagine the tiny clicking jaws
of unstoppable locust armies.” She smiled, embarrassed,
and quieted.

Driving out of the city into the foothills, they turned off
the highway onto a gravel road leading past small fields.
The moon rose.

They parked the car and got out. People were gathered
in a cornfield at the side of the road. These people were
trapping grasshoppers.

“People and grasshoppers have been here, right here,
for thousands of years,” the young entomologist said.

26 | Kilmeny MacMichael
“Together. Sometimes the people lose their crops. And
they are hungry. But the people go on. And sometimes,
the people eat the grasshoppers. But the grasshoppers go
on. You see, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.”

They ate roasted grasshopper, grasshopper dry, with
garlic, drenched in salsa, and wrapped in warm tortilla.
The scientist smiled in a field in the middle of Mexico.
Sphenarium purpurascens, she thought, and the scientist
fell in love.

Love in a Time of Locusts | 27
Emily Campbell

“Minor Scratches on Interior”
Kijiji ad reads:

“Looking to sell barely used casket.
Underground only two years—
we decided to go a different route.
Two hundred dollars
OBO”

28 | antilang. no. 3
early bloomer
bathroom—
first-blood fears
not yet in double digits
is this womanhood?

Emily Campbell | 29
premature
i want to love this body
before i leave it
should pay my respects
for the seven months
mother spent
building me

30 | Emily Campbell
Sarah Varnam

Flesh Fashions
She sews her skins tight
as cocoons, knowing the
absence of butterflies,

the presence of powdered lies.
Her own chrysalis is red,
made from remnant cloth,

patches shed by the dead,
caterpillar queens too vain
to clothe underfed bones.

antilang. no. 3 | 31
Sanity
is a tidy girl, dainty as her name. She wears
white, the colour of a methodical, medically sanctioned
progression through mortality, a procession
of shushed thoughts following to her wake.
She has an orderly’s mind, aspirations to perfect
mental sanitation keeping her spine stick straight.
She skims scary whims, whispering you’re imaginary
to scitterers and wrist-slitters. She says this
was just a slip, a trip in the line; I’ll be fine (I find
her a little smug). She lugs a suitcase full of sweet
placebos, slim capsules of Tomorrow’s Another
DayTM, 10% real vegetables. Her words are tied
tourniquet-tight. Her smile bites back worries.
She never hurries, but every second’s spent trying
not to look over her shoulder. Fear smolders in
her gut, but she drinks 8 glasses of water.

32 | Sarah Varnam
Carol Krause

their hands were full of love
three woman came it was night and i was tired three
woman came glowing light and comfort hands they
surrounded me in love and i don't know if and how and
why they only visited for six minutes and i wish i could
tell you more but these things are ephemeral and yes one
of them was young and one was old and one was dying
and the dying one was all peace so were the others their
hands were full of love and i recognized their faces as my
own i answered in tears i couldn't tell you much more
except i lay on my floor that night and could feel them
still their hands were full of love and i answered in tears
and i couldn't tell you much more except when they came
i was happy.

antilang. no. 3 | 33
passing through
they passed through one by one i couldn't catch them
they moved through slippery and ephemeral they came
in pictures that burned i saw the past so that it was
present and then it passed i asked them to stay but they
said i must be going on and the moments i remembered
were moments of love and the love was so strong my
body shook in the light i asked them to stay but they said
i must be going on and i wanted something to hold me
up i was sinking and she came vision of love and light
and joy can be cruel when it feels so big and bright is the
darkest thing of all.

34 | Carol Krause
Jessica Anne Robinson

like mother
I’ve been trying to write my mother’s body my whole life.
we swap dreams like spit while we sleep. I was born grey
and can’t remember, have spent this decade trying.
I study her face-map, draw her lines onto mine
with pencil, then scrub my face pink raw again.
she is the bronze cast that bore me:
our knees buckle without warning.
we squint smile the same eye,
I can’t quite capture it without a camera.
j’essaie de tordre ma langue comme elle voudrait.
sometimes the French turns in on itself, cripples my mouth,
holds it there. she says she loves me for trying.
I love her sludge blood, hold it close inside me,
consider it fondly when our bruised skin offers it up to me.
I’ve been trying to write my mother’s body our whole lives.
I stole her freckles slowly through the umbilical cord.
I tell her all the time that the only book I write will be about her;
and the better it is, the less I will want her to read it.
I picked up where her Spanish affair left off, but in Paris,
or on the ocean nearby. I’m writing her body with mine.

antilang. no. 3 | 35
Rachel Kearney

Mother’s Pearls Won’t Get You
out of This One
Across the wing span of
my creased palm,
I see my life long affair:
a set of vows to the coast.
No warning of love—a pressed
flower in a past diary.

A charm bracelet
fell through couch cushions:
a memorial among pennies,
under my two (too) thick
thighs. The family unit:
a gallery
for the vintage 2000’s.

36 | antilang. no. 3
A feature film
in which we fight for
freedom, treated like a
fine fur. The American
election—Toronto 2017.

In a basement apartment,
squat between a naked mattress
and January-cold drywall.
The reporter speaks
a language we won’t learn.

Mother’s milk was found
on the electoral candidate’s tongue.

Mother's Pearls... | 37
Megan Misztal

Salt
Tidal waves of your persuasion beat against my barricade.
Salty brine came to cover us both
and as I laid beside you, sleeping,
I wondered if you could hear ‘no’
over the roar of the sea in your ears.

38 | antilang. no. 3
Lisa Baird

When I think of him now
I think instep, ankles,
knee joints.
I think groin and solar plexus.
Windpipe. Eyes.

antilang. no. 3 | 39
Windbreak
all words transcribed from the Hawthorn Farms seed catalogue

When deadheaded stars fall
from a plastic sky

& the heart is a pinched moth
too slow to travel with wild deer,

the naked wound is a bridge.
Is a raw gift to the weather. Once joy

was evergreen. An electric egg.
A golden holy flock. & love,

that bright-tongued workhorse:
magic, multibranching.

Disappointed earthwalker, here
is a windbreak. Here a licorice

light still hangs warm in the belly
& somewhere the long throat of time

keeps summer enough for you.

40 | Lisa Baird
To the Anti-Abortion Organization
That Raised $91,000 to Build an
Abortion-and-Miscarriage Grieving
Garden Complete with a Statue of
Jesus Holding a Dead Baby
Do you
really
think
no one
has noticed
you
conjuring
guilt &
calling it
grief?

Lisa Baird | 41
Melinda Khalif

Woman’s Womb
My womb,
that embryonic sac
men wage wars over.
My womb,
I will keep you unoccupied
and settle there
the Peace of Goddess,
barren to the
fruit of knowledge—
a new Eden.

42 | antilang. no. 3
Henna
My tongue embroiders
words like mantras—
prayers whispered
onto a woman’s hand.

Melinda Khalif | 43
Empty Spaces
There’s a space within my cunt:
a parentheses in a parentheses,
absent of meaning
but full of sound.

44 | Melinda Khalif
Emma Tilley

The Cysterhood
Dear Cysters,

I am sorry that it had to come to this. That our divorce
was through scalpels and disinfectant rather than a
simple text message. I think that would have been much
more comfortable for all of those involved.

I remember the day we first became acquainted. Three
days before my nineteenth birthday. I was rubbing away
the stress of the day and we crossed paths. You were
seated in my left breast, 10 o’clock. You were the sand
dune in a flat desert. I panicked. Parched for answers,
sinking deeper into a pit of worry.

We went to many doctor’s visits together. Air-conditioned
hallways, ultrasounds, blue goo on skin, bonding with
fellow patients over penny loafers. I stared at the ship
mobile hanging above my head, wondering if this is what
it felt like to be a baby. Thought that the first time I would
go there was because I was pregnant. Mom came with

antilang. no. 3 | 45
me every time. Ran to fill up the parking meter, protected
the shopping basket carrying my clothes, listened to my
ramblings when I wanted to replace the quiet.

Somehow, we lived together. Longer than some friend-
ships, some boy band fantasies. The left for five years,
the right for three. I adapted my sleep to fit you, snaked
my arm like a river in-between left breast and right. I
tolerated you more than my sister leaving her clothes
in the bathroom. I forgot about you enough times that
now I remember you more clearly. Occasionally, you
would remind me of your presence. A sharp pain in the
night like a knock on the skin, overhearing one side of a
telephone conversation.

Hello? Hi, it’s me again. Just wanted to see if you were still
there. Yep. That’s it.

I thought you would get the memo and move out on your
own. Pack up your mass and hibernate until I never say
so. But apparently, there were only three ways for us to
part:

1) Menopause.
2) Pregnancy.
3) Scalpel.

The doctor told me that anything bigger than five
centimetres was enough to take you out. I suppose, unlike
many other millennials, tiny house living was just not for
you. She told me that getting rid of you would also mark
a permanent end to bikini season. Not that it ever really
had a chance to start anyways.

46 | Emma Tilley
So, there I was. A hospital room first-timer in two gowns
(enveloping from the front and the back like a group
hug) and warmed up socks. Waiting. Lying in the bed
with the sheets pulled up to cover my prickly legs. My
parents making jokes because there was no TV besides
other patients and their families. Glimpses of other lives
through the slits of curtains.

Please don’t hate me for the queen wave I did when they
wheeled me into the operating room. I was trying to be
funny. Trying to forget that while I was asleep, my body
would change in ways I had no control over.

Your baby cyster is still alive and breathing below my
left nipple. After you left, I forgot that others could take
your place. That I could house more than I had seats at
the table. Now, I spend every day prepping myself for
the next goodbye.

Whenever that is.

Hope it’s cozy where you are. That you don’t wake up in
a cold sweat because you keep dreaming about knives.

Love, your sister.

The Cysterhood | 47
Forecast
She mistook the documentary on blizzards to be the
weekly weather forecast. She began preparing herself
for the biting cold, the imminent fear that nipped at her
ankles, while wearing shorts and a tank top.

We peeked out the window and saw different places.

48 | Emma Tilley
Kate Boychuk

Miniature Suns
The sun beat down on her face, her back, her shoulders.
Freckles already dotted her skin so much that they were
less like constellations and more like galaxies. The skin
of her arms often turned red during the summer heat,
despite the application of sunscreen.

The poetry of a Sunday afternoon was written by “people
like her” who had used up all their energy during the
week and now could only find space by creating it. She
needed that gap, that brief burst of beautiful aloneness.
There was no fire left to boil the water in the kettle. There
was no water left safe enough to drink. There was no air
left to allow herself outside. There was no earth left that
wasn’t littered with trash.

As the sun continued to beat and her hunger continued
to grow, she sighed. As her heart continued to beat and
her loneliness continued to grow, she sighed. All her
responsibility weighed on her suddenly. Body went limp
with exhaustion. Her mind went blank with confusion.

antilang. no. 3 | 49
Everyone kept telling her not to worry, but she worried
endlessly. She gave up counting her worries before she
gave up counting the stars. It was daylight now and only
one star counted.

She wasn’t a diamond; created under extreme pressure
and therefore extremely strong. She was an opalite;
created by spinning confusion and fire. She could split
apart easily, like the shell of sunflower seeds, with a
cracking sound. Rejected. Besides, her bones ached.

The soundtrack to her last summer as a child was dogs
barking and the sound a pop can makes when it’s opened.
The feeling was that of peeling an orange with her hands
when her fingers cut into the flesh and juice stings the
papercut she almost forgot she had. She was watching a
helium balloon shrink in the heat.

It made her wonder; would she lose her value and shrink
beneath the sun? And who would mourn for her if she
did?

Peaches were soft but bruised easily. A picnic for one. A
hornet landed on the tip of her thumb and juice dripped
down onto her white dress. The colour was everything
that she wanted to be. Alive, and craved for, and seen as
beautiful. So many of her peers wanted to be the hornet
but she wanted to be the peach. She just didn’t want to
bruise like a peach.

Someday, she would hear a song on the radio and
remember her first kiss. Someday, someone would ask if
she remembered a song and she would remember her first

50 | Kate Boychuk
heartbreak. She wonders what kind of alcohol she’ll prefer
when she’s older. She doesn’t trust her tastes right now.

That night, her skin red and her hair weighed down by
sweat and traces of dry grass, she arrives at the party. It
is her friend’s sweet sixteen. Later, her friend will thank
her for holding her hair while she puked. Right now, she
is too busy making sure everything is perfect. There are
more helium balloons. There are endless people that she
doesn’t talk to. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Growing
up wasn’t supposed to bring tears to her eyes.

When the music she likes is playing, the dance floor
is empty. When people are dancing, she doesn’t like
the song. She wants fresh air, but she wants to pretend
she knows how to play this scene. She wants to show
them all that she can remember the cues. She makes eye
contact with a stranger and they begin to not be strangers
anymore. Suddenly, like a bandit in the night, she creeps
through the open window of another’s life.

She drinks beer from a magenta-coloured cup. Her new
friend smokes cigarettes outside, and even when the
smoke drifts into her face, the air feels clearer than in the
house. Eventually the sun sets, and she forgets what her
hair looks like and what everyone else’s hair looks like.
With the freedom to breathe, her lungs open and she
exhales fire that spirals through the air. When she looks
in the reflection of a car window, the fire is only words.

Vodka and the comfort of darkness give way to dancing
and daring to laugh without fear. She loves her friend.
Three girls, for they are still just girls, spinning and

Miniature Suns | 51
swaying. Everything comes easy now. The cry of seagulls
in the distance is drowned out by the scraping of a
skateboard on the concrete.

When her newly sixteen-year-old friend goes upstairs
with her boyfriend, she gulps down the last of her drink
and heads back outside. She finds the girl she met, and
they saunter off. They look like children and they smell
like smoke and beer and sweat. They open themselves up
and share in voices not as quiet as they think. The new
friend trips and scrapes her hands. It feels like watching
a supernova up close. They see the stars scattered across
the sky. It feels like discovering a new galaxy.

Rich in neon and exuding obstinate confidence. Stumbling
over cracks in the road, they eventually wind up at the
same park she had been at earlier. Her new friend rolls
down the hill, laughing and hollering. She runs down to
join her and collapses nearby. Their heads spin; the earth
spins, though much more slowly.

She sees dandelions bursting from the ground like fire-
works. She thinks they look like thousands of miniature
suns. One by one she begins to devour them. They taste
like light. They burn her throat. Her friend joins in the
feast as they crawl together across the sprawling green
and yellow landscape.

In the morning, she wakes to the vibrations of a jogger
jogging by. She is behind green shrubbery, unseen by the
careful eye of the paranoid mother. There is no sign of her
friend.

52 | Kate Boychuk
She looks again at her hand. It is bright yellow in colour,
seeming to be stained from the dandelions. Only, as she
continues to look, her entire arm is bright yellow as well.
Every visible inch of her skin is the same. Her hair is now
green.

She walks to the water’s edge. The geese startle and swim
out from the stony shore into the deep, dark waters. She
looks down at her reflection and sees herself repeated
over and over in the ripples of water. She experiences the
sudden urge to become the ocean. She wonders if anyone
still owns a water bed or if she could sleep comfortably on
the waves of the sea.

The water is green and feels like ice despite the hot
noonday sun scorching the shallow rock pools. Within
these pools are tiny purple fish that swim to and fro,
looking for an escape. She wants to help them, but they
are too slippery and too fast.

Floating freely on a wave, she heads for the horizon. The
bright yellow does not wash off her skin. Seaweed tangles
around her ankles. She feels alive as she kicks herself free
from the treacherous plant. Within her, a fire is burning, a
literal fire that propels her toward the edge of everything
she thought she knew.

She has the power of countless miniature suns. Nothing
could hold her back. She walks a dry path in the middle of
the water. She has with her a light more brilliant than that
of any earthly source. It radiates heat and lights up the
darkest shadowy places of her soul.

Miniature Suns | 53
At the edge of her world sits a child four years old. Her hair
is such a mess that birds nest in it. At her feet sits a wolf
with emerald eyes. Wait, are those her eyes? She reaches
for them, certain that the wolf had somehow stolen her
eyes. She tears them from the wolf and puts them back in
their place on her own face. The child looks down at the
blind wolf. They both rise and without a word dive into
the abyss.

She watches as they disappear. The sun has grown cold in
her absence, so she wanders back to the park. Her friend
is there now and is equally bright yellow and grassy
green. They embrace, and the earth shakes. The power
of thousands of miniature suns blossoms forth from their
bodies.

54 | Kate Boychuk
Kitty Hardy

Elope
One night alone, in the woods, and then my love will join
me.

He’ll come around the bend in the abandoned logging
road, veer off to zig zag up the goat path. He’ll crest the
ridge and emerge, resplendent, from the tree line. I’ll be
bathed in sunlight, wearing my sage-green dress, the one
he likes, then, when he finally sees me.

He’ll come to me and sweep loneliness from my shoulders
where it’s draped like a cloak, drop it to the rocks beneath
our feet and add to it frothy layers of linen and silk, lace
and bombazine, peeled from my skin.

He’ll lay down his jacket and take me right there in the
bowl of the cirque, and it won’t matter one bit because
the next day we’ll ride across the border to become man
and wife.

——

antilang. no. 3 | 55
For hours I’d climbed the overgrown mountain road. I
rounded a bend and in front of me, just as she had said
there’d be, a goat trail criss-crosses up to the bowl dug
into the mountainside where a glacier had sat enthroned
in some forgotten time.

I catch my breath at the trail head, but only for a moment.
With death at my heels and a storm rising behind me, I
climb faster and crest the last hill.

There she sits, a blue figure, cold and alone.

Overwhelmed, I rush to her. The wind whips across my
cheeks the second I step from the shelter of the tree line,
spitting pebbles and hard rain into my eyes.

I blink, wanting only to keep sight of her, but the scene
blurs, like a memory recalled from a distance. She is still,
petrified wood.

The howling wind drowns my bootfalls as I approach,
but a murmuring rises above both, her voice intoning:

One night alone in the woods and then my love will join me...
Only one night...only one. We’ll be married and then what will
my daddy do, send the sheriff after us? We’ll be untouchable.
Only one night, alone.

I watch my hand as though it has become detached from
my wrist. It moves slowly, in freeze frames, falls heavily
on her shoulder.

Her flesh lurches beneath my touch.

56 | Kitty Hardy
“I knew you’d come.”

And she turns her face to me, her emaciated face, rivers
worn deep in her cheeks from endless tracks of tears. Her
eyes, sunken so deep I can’t see the end of them except
for a glint in the back of the caves, search my eyes. Her
lips part, cracked and ridged, the mouth of a volcano. It
speaks: “My love? You’ve aged so.”

——

Doctors have told me it’s dangerous to wake a sleeper, and I
fear to snap her from her reverie. But I have to get her down
the mountain before this storm blows in, or we’re both done
for. Already the rain turns to ice, slick on the rocks.

“Forgive me.”

I grab her around the waist and throw her over my
shoulder. She bends like a sapling, her bones hollow. Her
ribs quiver, pliant beneath my fingertips.

During the descent she asks only one thing of me: “Did you
bring your horse?” Her voice far away, in some distant past.

“Nobody has horses any more, ma’am.”

——

She sips apple juice, propped upright in a crisp hospital
bed. The shroud of the past is still weaving its webs of
rosy pink gauze around her starved mind.

Elope | 57
My supervisor appears beside me. The crimson of his
Search and Rescue badge the only colour that doesn’t
wither under the acrid fluorescent light.

“The old lady’s daughter is on her way to relieve you of
your vigil.”

My laugh, stretched tight as the sheets around her splayed
legs.

“Lucky thing you got her off the mountain before the
storm. It’s a white-out. No power across the whole
county. Boss was ready to call off the search after two
weeks of no-one seeing hide nor hair of her. Lucky thing
you found her at all. Old biddy disappears without a
trace around here it usually means she was swallowed by
the mountain. How’d you know where to look?”

I peel back her fingers, extract my hand from her grasp.

“The daughter told me. Described the place perfectly
from the memory of some bedtime story her mom used
to tell her. Something about running away from home to
marry her true love.”

“Romantic.”

“Yea, but he never showed.”

“Never showed?”

“Never showed.”

58 | Kitty Hardy
Tasnuva Hayden

Low Tide
Everything that should have tasted sweet tasted rusty,
or maybe everything that should have tasted rusty
tasted bitter, or even, thinking back, a little salty. On the
morning they found the stranger, wrapped in kelp and
seaweed, I’d caught a cold.

Three weeks later you said, “nice to meet you” and
topped it up with a whip-cream smile. You have what
my aunt calls calculating eyes. Could you tell that I went
a little weak? Pretending that you came here for me. That
you keep coming back for me. That you’re not here to
measure the vanishing ice. That the Sami and their dying
languages are not enough to keep you occupied.

You tell me “it begins when it begins”. Convinced that
the vetehinen aren’t real. But then, men with wings have
existed since prehistory.

White-blue hermit crabs still fell on the water that day.
The doctor kneeled next to the stranger’s body, checking

antilang. no. 3 | 59
for a pulse through latex. Barnacles grew on his jaw line
and in a half-crescent along his sternum. Between the
slivers of shoulders, my eyes darted back and forth. His
gray skin flaking like fish scales in the sea-salted mist.
Cheekbones serrated. One eye bruised shut. Feathers
billowed up into the sky.

Pinpoint a location and an epoch in time. Between
70°01’10’’N and 23°32’09’’E. At the young and unripe
age of sixteen. It makes you laugh, makes you choke on
your coffee.

Mapping the beginning of a story is hard enough. Is it
when you begin to think it? When you, the scholar of
love, walked into it? Maybe, it began three weeks ago, or
maybe it began today.

It will come to a point, you assured me, that words will
become meaningless unless written in blood.

Every winter, a black sky tinted with aurora and
punctured with starlight, filters intoxicated dreams
through to the Arctic—a north wind, a white bear, and
a merman. Polaris, she barely moves. Yes, we had that
discussion too. That your heart is a space heater, and if
it hadn't been for you, would I ever have kissed with a
smoky mouth? Clinging to paper and ink. Maybe that’s
what it means to be a virgin after all.

End of winter marked by bloated skin.

Anywhere that is conducive to a mirage, anywhere at all.
The shallow tide that also drags with it forests of giant

60 | Tasnuva Hayden
kelp, dead seal cubs with missing eyeballs, and starfish
with fat and tangled arms, but it is all the same when you
finally get to say hello, whether on a spine or on the sub-
zero Borealis.

Low Tide | 61
Owen Schalk

Cried for Night
He lacked even the most tenuous understanding of the
complexities of human vision, and he didn’t want to
learn. He believed the reason he could see anything at all
was that every visible thing, in the moment of being seen,
was literally in contact with his eyes, literally touching
them. He continued to believe this even after it was
demonstrated for him that other objects could be passed
between the vacant space of sight without severing any
physical connection. He refuted any and all evidence with
the claim that these new objects were simply displacing
the initial one on the surface of his eyeballs, like a water
strider sliding beneath a lily pad and upsetting the
perfection of its contact with the pond’s surface.

‘Are you so vain,’ someone asked him once, ‘that you
think the whole of the sky comes down when you step
outside just so it can touch you?’

‘No,’ he replied, and explained in lesser terms his hypo-
thesis, or more accurately his firm conviction, that the

62 | antilang. no. 3
entirety of the universe consisted of a tangible collection
of objects, their number literally uncountable, all stacked
atop each other on the gelatinous bedrock of his eyeballs,
strata of varying size and shape and color that were in a
constant process of realignment in order to produce in his
brain the illusion of a moving world outside of himself.

‘So are you here right now?’ someone else asked. He said
he could be nowhere other than the base of the stack.

‘So then, what are we?’ asked someone else. ‘Just the
floaters on the surface of your eye?’

He was quiet a moment, then answered. ‘It’d be hard to
float when you have the weight of the entire universe on
your back.’

This belief, that the totality of perception was made up
of a mountain of shifting plates whose movements were
so swift and seamless that they produced in an otherwise
inert mind the mirage of a life being lived, was so unusual
that none of the psychiatrists we sent him to were aware
of a single case study in the past. Nonetheless, they
achieved a modicum of success in confronting the source
of his delusion, which one of the doctors claimed had
its origins in a traumatic childhood incident wherein a
group of friends jokingly nudged a Scottish burial cairn
and it collapsed on top of him. Another believed his
condition’s cause was embedded somewhere in his ideas
about art, and they provided the following quote from
him as evidence: ‘When you find yourself really feeling
a painting or a book, it’s impossible to think there isn’t
something physical connecting it to you. There has to be

Cried for Night | 63
a tangible contact happening there, otherwise how is it
touching you so strongly? With air?’

These diagnoses, while both tentative and conflicting,
were effective for a brief time in assuaging his all-
consuming need to discuss his fictional reality at all times,
with anybody who would listen. I recall during this period
having a number of entirely ordinary conversations with
him, ranging from the topic of food to nature to romance.
We even slept together again, and while we were lying
beside each other in the calm darkness of the bedroom,
I ventured to ask: ‘Now how could we have done that if
I’m just a panel on the surface of your eye?’ He didn’t say
anything, just stared at the shadow of the curtain where
it undulated liquidly on the ceiling. Outside, the crickets
crackled. ‘And if you still think you’re right,’ I went on,
‘then how do you explain sound?’ He was quiet for a long
time, and then he was asleep.

I now regret returning to the topic that had been his
unwavering obsession for so many years. I’m not so naïve
to imagine he’d completely forgotten it, but part of me
wonders: if I hadn’t chosen that moment to broach such
a sensitive subject, would his subsequent descent into
the extremes of vision have been so rapid, and so self-
destructive?

After our night together I didn’t see or hear from him for
almost a month, and when I did he’d already undergone
the procedure, and there was no reversing it. The blinding,
that is. It would be simple, surgically speaking, to remove
the five-foot plastic rods he’d installed through his dead-
ened pupils and drilled into the bone of the sockets so

64 | Owen Schalk
if they snagged on anything they wouldn’t tear the eye-
ball out with them, but he is adamant that they must
remain, and soon be extended, and ultimately upgraded
to the point where they become remotely telescopic,
lengthening on their own to any distance imaginable in
order to physically touch the nearest perceptible object,
be it a coffee mug or the clouds, so that, in his words, ‘I
can finally feel the weight bearing down on me, instead of
just knowing it’s there.’

Cried for Night | 65
Roger Moore

M.T. Head
I sat in class, head in hands, avoiding eye contact. I hoped
the priest wouldn’t point me out, call on me, nominate
me with a finger, but to no avail. He called my name.

“You have sixty seconds to speak about,” he paused, then
produced the rabbit from the hat. “Matches. Come along,
stand up, sixty seconds, starting,” he watched the second
hand go round on the classroom clock, then counted
down, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1…” waved his hand, and shouted:
“Start now!”

Images flashed through my head: matches: cricket matches,
boxing matches, rugby matches, soccer matches, chess matches,
matches to light the burners on the gas stove, the oven, to light
the fire in the fireplace…matches, matchsticks, Match Box toys,
Dinky toys, toys for little boys, toys for big boys…

“Fifteen seconds have gone...you have forty-five remain-
ing.”

66 | antilang. no. 3
“When I think about matches, I think about…”

…the first spring day in the bungalow, our summer home. The
rooms are cold and damp after the winter and nobody has been
here since last year. We lay a fire in the grate, but the wood is
damp, as is the old newspaper we gather from our last visit.
We search for sugar to aid the blaze that we hope to start, but
the sugar bowl is empty. We go to the stove. Cold, winter ashes
crowd the fire bowl. We scrape them together in a desperate
search for charcoal remains… but we find nothing. We move to
the oil-fired lamps and oil stoves. Matches dragged across soggy
sandpaper fail to spark…

“Come along, boy. We haven’t got all day. You’ve got
thirty seconds left.”

Silence fills the room. It is broken by the childhood
sniggers and chuckles of long-forgotten classmates
who never became friends My cheeks grow red. I start,
stammer, and stop.

…we leave the bungalow. Go next door to where our neighbours
winter over. We knock on the door. “Can you lend us a match?”
we ask, holding out our hands. Mrs. Williams beams at us. “A
match,” she says. “First time in after the winter?” We nod.
“I thought so. Saw you arriving. Wondered why you hadn’t
come earlier. The weather’s been nice. Here: I can do much
better than a match.” She moves over to the fireplace, picks up
the little coal shovel, scoops up a generous portion of her fire,
heaps on another lump, then two, of fresh coal, and “Here you
are,” she says. “Just put it in the fireplace and add some wood
and coal. This can be your first fire. Here, you’d better have
some matches too.” “Thank you, Mrs. Williams,” we say. “No

M.T. Head | 67
problem,” she replies. “It’s good to see you back. It’s been lonely
here this winter without you.”

“Time’s up,” the priest says. “That’s sixty seconds of
silence and you can hardly find a word to say on a simple
subject. Are you stupid or what?

My face turns red and I suffer the hot, burning cheeks of
childhood shame.

68 | Roger Moore
Rosalind Goldsmith

The One About—
The rain fell heavy and he never stopped walking.
Drenched, his clothes stuck to him, clammy and cold in
the wet, but he never stopped walking. He walked faster
and faster, his shoes buckets of water, walking walking
in buckets of water and the rain fell heavier and heavier
until it hurt his head and soaked into his skin and into
his sneaking bones, pounding down now, driving down
torrents on him, now windswept and drilling sideways
into his head, the sky black, but he would not stop nor
would he take shelter.

He took pleasure in this decision to walk because he
had not one dog-mauled scrap of an idea what else he
could do. And the rain might help. The rain might force
desperation, force him to take action, or make a plan, or
get a job, or think of:

No, better call a friend or read a book. Go home, and
watch a video: Sia, Adele, Rihanna, Amy. Steal a car and
drive to Detroit. Why Detroit? Could be Chicago. Climb

antilang. no. 3 | 69
up the stairs of an eighty-storey condo, up up to the roof.
Howl at the black moon and wait for the echo to howl
back, rage out blind in the dull dementing night. Then
think of:

No. Rob a bank and buy a condo. Memorize words—any
words all beginning with f. Start with: Future. Futile.
Fantastical fury fentanyl fluorescent fabricate funicular.
Fool. Tell a joke—the one about—Take a walk down a
neuronal pathway, dissolve in the rain. Eat an ice cream
cone, curse God—what God—curse Nietzsche. Invent a
god, any god. Fake it through just fake. It. Through. Be
fly. Think of a small startup business, a money-making
enterprise, yes, that’s it. A YouTube channel. Call it
Whizzshit and play videos of how-to lectures framed in
toilet bowls. A million hits, yes, or a tattoo place, a million
holes. Call a friend? Go to the gym. Work out the body ‘til
the high-flying mind peaks and with a parabolic glide,
folds up, stops. Think of—

No.

Sing Broadway tunes to the davening scholars of Tal-
mudic law, crown the faithful with the stolen halos of
angels, bless them in anger, sing Hallelujah and capsize
the crib-bound baby Jesus. Tap dance on the heads of
martyrs. Plead the fifth and go down singing. Get a tattoo.
Needling pain punctuating each minute so it feels alive.
Feels. Think of—

No. Run to the end of the city of the damned just keep
going in the rain. Learn a new language learn eight.
Italian, French, Farsi, Pashtu. Send a text. To the ex? Hi,

70 | Rosalind Goldsmith
so great not to hear from you in so long and then string
of: grinning emoji cats yellow faces teared up with joy
hahaha. Delete delete. Delete Snapchat. That is a must do.
Buy a wing suit and skydive off the edge of the earth. Call
a friend. Hope to, hope not to—think of:

No. Tell a joke—the one about—call a crisis line and
scream flaming white murder at them, cannibalize
their sympathy, mock their warm forgiving hearts—the
ground zeros of hypocrisy—until they hang up. Cut off
an ear and send it to the ex. With a note that says: I am
listening. Then go to Emergency. Think of:

No. Tell a joke to the triage nurse, the one about—sit
there, bleed, life chuckling and frothing out of the sliced
skin, easy as that. Then think of:

No. Take a peek ‘round the curtain. Watch people in their
last moments. Count the snake-rattling breaths—there
are videos of that. Watch the seep of blood the spill of life
all the pain of losing and the loss of love. Arms reaching
out for other arms and the tears flowing freely and the
wailing of grief. Feel. That. Feel. Think of:

No. Puke in the sink the yellow bile. Drop acid, drop—
there are videos of that too. Hallucinate the end. Envision
the life hereafter. See the spirit drift up from the body.
Wild luminous colours, the soul coughing itself out into
white rainbows and the beauty of the last firing swan-
singing neurons. Ultimate consciousness. Paradise then.
No. Such. Luck. Cut it. Think of:

No. Call a friend. Invent God. Go to a party. Text. Check.

The One About— | 71
Facebook. Check. Reddit. Check. Drink Tequila, tell a
joke, listen to a joke, think of:

No. Tell another joke, the one about—think of:

No. Run. Run in the rain and keep going just keep going
til lungs burn from the shear and suck of air. Run and let
the rain torrent down all over, all over and in and in and
brain deep, just keep on running and think of:

No. Remember—what—what? Think of:

No. Not that.

72 | Rosalind Goldsmith
Trevor Moran

The Boy Who Brought the Rain
Depending on who you asked, little Danny Dresden was
either born a miracle or delivered as a scornful scourge
to the village of Humblegoose: POP 110—a thereabouts
figure dictated more accurately by how cold the previous
winter had been in correlation with those passed the
age of physical usefulness. It was a village manned and
maintained mainly by farmers who depended on the lush
green grass growing in great grazeable garnishings for
their cattle who nourished themselves along bountiful
fields of various crops. Seldom would a land of such
generous abundance be discovered twice in a single
lifetime, and all who lived there felt blessed for having
found it just the once.

Eight years prior to the circumstances of the current day,
little Danny Dresden was born on the kitchen floor from
between the legs of his very own mother—as luck would
have it—although unfortunately evaded by legitimacy
due to one scandalous drunken evening and an ever-
absent co-creator. But the months preceding that event

antilang. no. 3 | 73
even still would prove to play an imperative role in the
boy’s life due to conditions outside of his control.

The land had been dying of drought.

For almost a full year before the birth of little Danny
Dresden, not a drop of rain had touched the hills of
Humblegoose. The grass withered, the crops perished,
the cattle starved, and the farmers were found walking on
air with far more frequency than usually expected from
their tenuous occupation.

It wasn’t until the wailing cries from a pair of brand new
lungs signaled the heavens from a pool of placenta on a
linoleum floor that the clouds returned, finally, with dark
imposing shade and claps of thunder, followed by great
stuttering streams of rain, soaking the scorched earth
and barren lands, missing not an inch of Humblegoose,
leading the residents out into the lanes and streets, en-
couraging elation and untethered joy to be sung from
their weary hearts.

It was immediately established by the midwife, now
cradling little Danny Dresden in her arms as he hollered
and screamed, that it was no mere coincidence such
a miraculous occurrence would befall their desperate
village the very same moment this brand new being
introduced himself to the world in a pouring of tears.

“Heavens above,” exclaimed the midwife. “A Gift!”

Danny Dresden’s mother agreed, although entirely
unaware of the superstitious nature from which the

74 | Trevor Moran
midwife was basing this claim. And she would never find
out, nor see the world again from anywhere but the flat of
her back on that linoleum floor as her pulse gently faded
to nothing, with her freshly-birthed bundle now placed
into her arms to hear the final futile beatings of her heart
against her chest: buh-bump, buh-bump, buh-bump...

——

Little Danny Dresden was raised from that very moment
by the village of Humblegoose. And no more grateful a
village could be for his presence. After all, he was the boy
that cried and brought the rain! He was the boy that fed
the lands and filled the wells! He was the Gift! The Gift!
The Gift!

But of course, a single gift to be shared among an entire
village such as Humblegoose POP 110—a thereabouts
figure dictated more accurately by the desire of the
naturally compromised to ignore hints of an overstayed
welcome—needs to establish some rules to encourage
fairness, such is the nature of democracy.

And so, in the name of all that is just, the residents of
Humblegoose organised a weekly meeting in the local
church where they would each voice their opinions on
who needed rain and who desired sunshine, and then
they would vote on the weather for the coming days,
depending on what benefited the majority.

It was a solid plan, and everyone was always respectful
and civil throughout the proceedings, and the only
component ever failing to cooperate wholeheartedly with

The Boy Who Brought the Rain | 75
the fairness of this system was little Danny Dresden, who
took years and years of conditioning to remain numb
until necessary. Fortunately, sedatives were found to
work wonders after the initial three years of chaotic and
unpredictable weather brought on by temper tantrums
and the like, and the methods of making the boy cry when
needed were eventually fine-tuned from the crude days
of pinching his underarms to now merely leaving him in
a dark room until the natural fears of a child produced
the desired outcome.

And of course, when the clouds needed parting, and the
lands starved for a golden glow, there were no shortage of
sweets and hugs and tickles for little Danny Dresden, who,
although wildly confused by the bipolar actions of his
guardians, always looked forward to these days the most.

By now, little Danny Dresden was deemed old enough to
attend the weekly meetings, and so he would sit quietly
up on the altar as the priest moderated the discussion from
the pulpit, granting an equal allotted time per speaker.

“Alrighty then, folks,” began the priest, “let’s kick off
with a quick show of hands for a full week of sunshine
first and see if we can fly through this one, shall we?”
The pews were split half and half with varying waves of
extended and folded arms.

“It looks like the farmers are needing a bit of rain,” said
the priest after a quick glance. “So, I’ll ask you, gentlemen,
will you be needing a whole week of it?”

Little Danny Dresden remained wide-eyed and shut-

76 | Trevor Moran
mouthed while the farmers of Humblegoose murmured
and mumbled between themselves before one stood and
spoke on behalf of the rest.

“No, not the whole week. Two days on, one day off, and
then two more after that would be ideal for most of us,
we reckon.”

“Any days in particular?” asked the priest.

“Just as long as it’s in that order I think we’ll be quite happy.”

It was, as always, a very pleasant exchange between
a village of considerate residents, ever welcoming of
reasonable compromise.

“Well then”, continued the priest, “any days in particular
that the fishermen would appreciate kinder waters?”

Little Danny Dresden, still wide-eyed and shut-mouthed,
let out a feint yawn without making much of an effort to
cover it with his hand, and the fishermen of Humblegoose
chittered and chattered amongst themselves before one
stood and spoke on behalf of the rest.

“The rain isn’t ideal, but it’s manageable. As long as he’s
not throwing a strop the winds will be calm, so let’s leave
it up to the village.”

“Very well,” said the priest.

But before the priest could even pose the question, an arm
shot up from the back of the crowd.

The Boy Who Brought the Rain | 77
“Mrs. Lovett?” said the priest. “Is that yourself?”

“T’is, Father.”

“Go ahead, you have the floor.”

Mrs. Lovett stood and the congregation turned heads to
see her, all except little Danny Dresden, who remained
wide-eyed and shut-mouthed on his lonesome on the altar.

“I just wanted to remind everyone that myself and a few
of the ladies from the knitting club are planning a bake
sale on Saturday afternoon. We’re trying to raise money
to mend the roof of the community hall. It’s very difficult
to use the needles in the damp, you see. So, perhaps we
could have some sunshine on Saturday? After all, there’s
nothing wrong with a moist sponge, but no one wants a
soggy teacake!”

A delightful little chuckle was shared around the con-
gregation before the priest agreed this was a fine idea if it
suited the farmers and fishermen alike.

“Alrighty then, folks,” continued the priest. “Why don’t
we go for a drop of rain on Thursday and Friday, a break
for the buns on Saturday, and another belt of it on Sunday
and Monday, sound good?”

But as everything was being seemingly agreed upon in
unanimous fashion, a rather gruff and rumbling objection
was barked from the entrance of the church.

“It can’t rain on Sunday.”

78 | Trevor Moran
This particular bellow possessed with immediacy the
attentions of everyone in the echoing chambers of the
church, including little Danny Dresden who for the first
time since finding his seat on the altar decided to moisten
his eyeballs with a solitary blink.

The man at the entrance was a mess, with a belly full
of rum, and fire on his breath. He was recognised by
all, but acknowledged by few, which is why he would
remain quietly skulking in the doorway most every week
throughout the democratic proceedings, as nothing more
than a silent witness. But not today.

“You wish to have the floor, sir?” asked the priest, albeit
with a less-than-enthusiastic tone.

“It can’t rain on Sunday,” replied the man.

“And why not?”

“It’s the boy’s birthday.”

One by one, the eager heads of the congregation fell slowly
to a bow, and solemnity took hostage the atmosphere of
what was to that point an otherwise jovial room. All but for
little Danny Dresden, who held his stare upon the messy
old man who had rum in his belly and fire on his breath, and
as a subtle crease of a smile began to form across the face
of little Danny Dresden, the sunlight began to beam with
delicacy through the magnificent stained glass depiction of
Christ on his throne, coating the timid heads of the citizens
of Humblegoose, and casting a perfect purple glow on the
messy old man who no longer looked all that messy at all.

The Boy Who Brought the Rain | 79
“Of course,” continued the priest. “Thank you for that
reminder, sir. Quite correct. Quite correct, indeed.”

The old man receded from the purple glow of the stained
glass, and ushered himself back out of the church, but the
light remained, along with the pleasant expression on the
face of little Danny Dresden.

The plans were altered immediately without the slightest
notion of objection from the now equable crowd to
accommodate the celebration of little Danny Dresden’s
birth: the boy who cried and brought the rain. The boy
who fed the lands and filled the wells. After all, he was
the Gift, and it was his birthday, and the ever-considerate
democracy of Humblegoose would never dream of being
so cruel.

80 | Trevor Moran
Marija Lukic

My Roommate, the Vampire
I think my roommate’s a vampire. A socially-anxious,
blood-sucking, animal cracker-eating vampire.

Last night this rustling sound coming from the kitchen
woke me up. It must have been 4 am and she was rum-
maging around. I heard crackling that sounded like it
came from her hidden box of animal crackers. I tried
to roll over and go back to sleep but then she started
crunching, and crunching. It just went on and on. I was
like, okay, go to bed already, some of us have a midterm
tomorrow.

She continued viciously chomping into those animal
crackers. I could just picture her fangs tearing through soft
doughy elephants, lions, and bunnies, her face furrowed
into a snarl, hanks of blonde hair hanging in her face.
Surely that would be the end of it, she would stuff that
demolished bag of cookies back into the cupboard and
go to bed.

antilang. no. 3 | 81
Then I heard footsteps and my door creaked open a
sliver. She was here to eat me next. Stupid Kijiji. Why
did I have to get a roommate? Living with a stranger was
dangerous. She could be a drug addict, or a serial killer,
or just a bloody vampire! I had told my mom as much
but she thought I was overreacting, and we could use the
money, but she’d change her mind about that if she knew
I was about to get eaten. I missed my mom. It would be so
sad if we never went to Starbucks again or bitched about
guys or tried stuff on at Guess or went for long walks
and had deep conversations about life. I yanked myself
up, my back slamming against the headboard. My fingers
fished under the pillow and closed around the pointy
part of my hoop earrings.

She hovered in the doorway, her fangs dusted with
animal cracker crumbs.

We stared at each other for a long time, me doing my
best Buffy impression with my earring stake. After a last
longing look at my neck, she shuffled away.

The night crawled by. My eyes hurt but I opened and
squeezed them shut to stay awake. Somewhere around 6
a.m. I marshaled myself and slowly swung my legs over
the bed. Holding my keys so they didn’t clang, I eased out
the door and then ran.

On the drive to school, the sky lightens. I must have
imagined it, I convince myself.

Between last-minute studying, I get pizza with friends
and don’t talk about vampire roommates. They talk about

82 | Marija Lukic
some guy and I stare at the oozing pizza sauce.

I stop at Metro for groceries on the way home. Turning
over a bag of chocolate chip muffins, I pause. Containers
of veggies and health food take up her side of the fridge
but, other than last night’s secretive animal cracker
crunching, I have never seen her eat.

Hyperventilating under the fluorescent lights, I say aloud,
“Enough already.” Then I call my mom to tell her that in
the latest sucky installment of my life, I am now living
with someone who actually wants to suck my blood.

“You think Nikki is…a vampire?”

When she puts it like that—“Yes!”

“You watch too much TV. How did your midterm go?”

“Fine. I just don’t want to go home because I’m afraid
she’ll eat me.”

“And why, exactly, do you think she’s a vampire?”

“She sleeps all day and rummages at night. She’s just so
mysterious in general. She pretty much doesn’t leave her
room when I’m home. Like, did I do something to offend
her? She never talks on the phone, never has people over,
and never tells me anything about her life. I ran into her
last week by the car and she was so…twitchy. I asked
what she was up to and she goes like, ‘nothing much.’
Which is fine but that’s always her answer! Nobody does
nothing much that much. It’s weird.”

My Roommate, the Vampire | 83
“She’s probably just shy,” says my mom. “You should try
to be her friend.”

Lucky me, I got the shy vampire. Whatever stops her
from eating me, right?

“Do you want to go back on Kijiji? We could probably
still get that lady, the nurse—“

“The one that says she goes to bed at 9?” I set down my
muffins, shove them away with my pinky, and pout.
“Fine, I’ll talk to Her Vampiness. If you don’t hear from
me in an hour, I’m probably a bloodless corpse.”

“Charming. You are always so dramatic.”

On the way to the apartment, I rehearse. So, Nikki…are
you a vampire? Too direct. Please don’t eat me? Pathetic.
Show of strength. Be like Buffy. I’m going to slay you with
my earring…This is going nowhere.

I suck in a breath and barge in. Her door is still closed
and her shoes are still there. Brown suede clogs, lined up
in the same spot by the kitchen counter as this morning.
Does she not go to school anymore? I creep towards her
door and lie in wait, weak little human me up against a
vampiric introvert.

The door blows open and she stands framed in the
doorway, a hulking girl in cow onesie pajamas, blinking
and rubbing her eyes. “Hey,” she says.

“Hi,” I say. “Listen. I wanted to talk to you.”

84 | Marija Lukic
She twists her hands and looks at her feet. “Okay.”

“Are you finding the place okay? Like, do you need
anything?” Like blood. Or human victims.

“’M’okay.” She smiles closed-mouthed.

“That’s good.” I glance out the window for inspiration
and notice the sun streaking and dancing patterns across
the beige carpet. It stops right before where she stands, in
the shade. Our eyes meet, and I deliberately take a single
step back.

Her shoulders slump and her blue eyes shimmer. Is she
trying to glamour me? A single tear falls. She sniffles,
maintains eye contact, and nods the tiniest bit. “I’ll go,”
she whispers, but the sun stands between us.

I cross my arms over my chest, look pointedly out into the
light, and shrug.

“About last night,” she says. “I just wanted to talk to you.
I don’t know anyone here yet.”

Something strange twists in my stomach as she stands
alone and hunched over. I mean, I have secrets too.

“You don’t have to go,” I say, and close the blinds. We
look at each other in the dark. She doesn’t lunge for my
throat. “Maybe we can go for coffee or something.”

“Yeah?” she says. I see a flash of fang in her hopeful smile.

My Roommate, the Vampire | 85
“Sure. Why not? We are roommates, so we should get to
know each other.” I hook my arm around hers, and drag
her towards the door.

“Getting to know each other? That sounds like fun.
Maybe we could go a little bit later in the day though…or
not,” she says, and snatches a hat and sunglasses on our
way out.

“I think we’re going to get along great!” I say, as I walk out
into the beautiful day with my roommate, the vampire.

86 | Marija Lukic
antilang. no. 3

Contributors
Adrienne Adams is a poet, artist and curator dedicated to inter-
sectional space. She curates Woolf’s Voices (aka Virginia); joking it's an
excuse to howl in public. Published in FreeFall, Wax and forthcoming
anthologies. @adamsel.adams

Lisa Baird is a poet & a queer white settler living on Attawan-
daron/Mississaugas of the New Credit territory (Guelph, ON). She’d
rather write poems than bios. www.lisabaird.ca.

Kate Boychuk is a Canadian writer. She enjoys writing haiku
inspired by day-to-day observations, lyrics inspired by vague concepts,
and short stories inspired by belief in something greater than humanity.
Follow her on Instagram @dangerouswriter.

Frances Boyle's books are Light-carved Passages (poetry) and
Tower (a novella). Her poems and short stories have appeared in literary
magazines ranging from long-established to brand new projects. Visit
www.francesboyle.com.

Christopher Brown is pursuing his PhD a city of magpies. In
2018, he was selected for the RBC Taylor Prize's inaugural Emerging
Writers program in non-fiction. His most recent work can be found in
The Feathertale Review and The Lamp.

Winter 2019 | 87
Emily Campbell lives on Treaty Six territory. She runs a bi-
weekly writing group and her work has appeared in two anthologies,
Let’s Fly Away and The Bolo Tie Collective Vol. 3.

ryan fitzpatrick lives and writes in Toronto. He is the author
of two books of poetry: Fortified Castles (Talonbooks, 2014) and Fake
Math (Snare, 2007).

Rosalind Goldsmith lives in Toronto and began writing
short fiction several years ago. She has written radio plays for CBC and
a play for the Blyth Theatre Festival. Her stories have appeared in the
Quilliad, the Danforth Review, Flash Fiction, Thrice Fiction, Pop Shot UK,
Litro UK, and filling Station.

Meaghan Hackinen is a writer, cyclist, and retired roller girl
originally from the West Coast in BC. Her prose explores relationships,
experiences on the road, and encounters with wild places.

Kitty Hardy writes from the solitude of Alberta’s boreal forest.
Her poetry has appeared in NōD Magazine and From the Other Side.

Tasnuva Hayden is an emerging Canadian writer of Bengali
descent, residing in Calgary, Alberta. She studied creative writing,
linguistics, and engineering at the University of Calgary. Her creative
writing has appeared in NōD Magazine, J’aipur Journal, chapbooks, and
anthologies. She is also the Fiction Editor at filling Station—Canada’s
experimental literary magazine.

Rachel Kearney is a young emerging Canadian writer, currently
studying creative writing at York University in Toronto.

Melinda Khalif is a 19 year old English Literature undergraduate
at McGill University, Montreal. She was born in Lebanon and has lived
for several years in the UK with her family before immigrating to Canada.

A Toronto-based poet and lover of caves, Carol Krause’s writing
explores the gift and wound in mental disruption. Carol supports youth
to make meaning of their experiences through discussion and art.

88 | antilang. no. 3
Marija Lukic is an emerging writer living in Oakville, Ontario.
Her first short story “Gray Jello” has recently appeared in Montreal
Writes and she is currently working on her first novel. When not writing,
she enjoys acting and studying psychology.

Kilmeny MacMichael lives in western Canada's Okanagan
Valley, where she writes flash and short fiction. She has been published
online with The Ilanot Review, Watershed Review, Flash Fiction Magazine,
and other publications.

Miles Mattix's poetry has been published in Badlands Literary
Review and will appear in the winter 2019 issue of Raw Art Review.
A dual citizen of Canada and the USA, Miles lives with his family in
Bellingham, Washington, where he works the graveyard shift at a non-
profit housing facility.

Linda McMullen is a wife, mother, diplomat, and homesick
Wisconsinite. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Chaleur,
Burningword, Typishly, Panoply, Open: Journal of Arts and Letters, Allegory,
and many others.

Megan Misztal is a writer with an MA degree in English
Literature. She was awarded the George Johnston Poetry Prize in 2015
and has previously been published in Bywords magazine.

Roger Moore is a member of the WFNB (Writers’ Federation
of New Brunswick). He lives in Island View, New Brunswick, with his
cat, Princess Squiffy, but he lives on the far side of the hill from the St.
John River, with the result that there is not an island in view from his
windows in Island View.

Trevor Moran is a thirty-year-old writer from Cork, who writes
wide-reaching articles about mental health and depression. This is his
first publication of original fiction.

Cameron G. Muir is a retired lawyer, now returned to
Saskatoon as a student in the MFA in Writing program at the University
of Saskatchewan. Cameron writes contemporary and historical fiction.

Winter 2019 | 89
Dominik Parisien is a writer, poet, and editor. His chapbook
We Old Young Ones is forthcoming from Frog Hollow Press. Dominik is
a disabled, bisexual, French Canadian.

Jessica Anne Robinson is finally a Toronto writer, who
has had poetry published with Room Magazine and Hart House Review,
among others. You can find her on Twitter @hey_jeska.

Owen Schalk attends the University of Manitoba, where he is
enrolled in the English Honours program. One of his stories has been
included in the Faculty of Arts’ magazine, The Arts Tribune, and another
has been published by the Paragon Press’s literary journal The Nabu
Review. Almost all of his free time is spent reading and writing.

Emma Tilley has a BA in Creative Writing from Kwantlen
Polytechnic University in Surrey, B.C. Her debut chapbook will be
published by Rahila’s Ghost Press in 2019.

Sarah Varnam is a queer, disabled, and neurodivergent Toronto-
based writer, artist, and editor, as well as the founder of The Quilliad
Press. They have two parrots and worry too much.

90 | antilang. no. 3
Contribute to The ALP

What we’re looking for:
Good. Short. Writing. Any form, any genre, as long as it is
brief and of exceptional quality.

Poetry, short/flash fiction, creative essays, ficto-criticism,
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and collaborations across media. If you have a piece of
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antilang. and soundbite).

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temically silenced or have otherwise gone unheard.

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