Issue 38: Summer 2017

Introduction.

Bringing the Magic.

by Amy Jones

What makes a good piece of writing? A good story, well-told, is what I always say, what everyone always says, and of course it’s true: we want to be...

Shared Obsessions.

by Vivek Shraya

As a writer and artist who has and continues to regularly submit work to various grants, journals, and publishers, I am intimate with the stresses i...

Fiction.

Coat the Blade.

by Kirsti Salmi

The bracelet was embarrassingly tight. It choked the woman’s wrist as she held her hand out over the reception desk, brandishing two neatly-folded twenties. Tiny purple gemstones winked under flickering light. Eve had seen her share of amethyst baubles from tourist traps off Highway 11-17. She considered the bracelet, then rolled her eyes toward the faltering chandelier lolling overhead in the lobby. “Apparently they guide you,” the woman offered. “The stones.” “Good. You need it. You’re lost.” The woman’s eyes widened, and Eve took advantage. Grasping her hand, she flipped the woman’s palm upward, gave it a tug over the lip of the desk. Eve dragged a fingernail over the lines etched in the woman’s flesh. Heart line, head line, life line. “So it’s true,” the woman breathed. “I’d heard—well, people on Trip Advisor. They mention you. You come highly recommended.” Eve nodded, not lifting …

Low Risk.

by Michael Melgaard

Betty spent a long time thinking about it. A friend of a friend had mentioned to her that a friend of his up in the city was selling some candy mach...

Fledgling.

by Eréndira Ramírez-Ortega

1. His keys land somewhere and the noise awakens her. As Mara works to keep her eyes open, she remembers that it is time. This is the moment, she is...

Lights of Townless Homes.

by Derrick Martin-Campbell

The security light clicks on as I pull into the drive and boom there he is, my brother: barrel-chested and breathing steam, stoic in the doorway of ...

Poetry.

TBH.

by Nancy Jo Cullen

1. Teenagers are pulling their braces off with their bare hands Illuminating the unlit valley of adolescence with their exposed midriffs Subjecting mothers to the Sacrament of Contempt Mothers are crying into their cold-pressed, non-gmo organic juice The mothers of the mothers have had too much sun Fragile little snowbirds, their bones are disintegrating Such extremely low thresholds for enduring discomfort They can’t even; they just can’t Nobody asks to be born Not to mention all that plastic accumulating in the landfill When they said crisis response planning they meant anti-wrinkle cream Accustom yourself to plaintive disregard Nobody asks to be a YouTube instructional video gone wrong Not to mention all that human trash accumulating in the belly of the whale       2. Not to mention all that human trash accumulating in the belly of the whale Nor the invisible doctrine of the …

The Pianist.

by Isabelle Zhu

Divorced, my mother kept the piano so one day, I could have returned to her. Elizabeth Bishop says, write the loss to right it, but I don’t know who...

Date Night.

by Jenna Lyn Albert

after Lucas Crawford’s “My Last Meal”   A mid-price Spanish red of subtle vanilla tones, I almost look like I know what I’m doing if not for the cor...

Awareness Achievement Denied.

by Spenser Smith

I am drunk off Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi. Fizz seethes past incisors and tongue. Count this carbonated burp        *burp* as a Prayer for Paris. “It’s ...

re: council.

by Renée Jackson-Harper

duly convened in council – duly noted that they want to the rich land back, duly, as aforesaid aforesworn – aforeswearing that convened in cou...

Anxiety.

by Emily Skov-Nielsen

Rewind from the cicatrix—you know what? Screw it. Pull the rug out from under my retro daze, pull the tape out, all of it, unspool this VHS metaphor...

Women's Studies.

by Nolan Natasha Pike

Hours pass in the lecture hall of these beds. My armpit, your left shoulder. On camera, all of Quebec between us, we will talk about how my stitches...

@Hereafter.

by Amy LeBlanc

He says that she’s unattractive, but the subtext is that he doesn’t like girls who are more comfortable in their skin than he is with his masculinit...

Essays.

Seriousness and the Sublime: An Outsider's Guide to Nerd Culture.

by Annabel Howard

These days I will, on occasion, drop a casual reference to Captain America or Mass Effect, or mention BioWare or Batman, or finally agree to my husband’s pleas that I join him for a round of HeroQuest, “mother of modern board games.” On such occasions, a rare pride burnishes his eye, as if I’ve done something truly exceptional—which, in a way, I have. For the record, I am not a gaming gal; I’m not a gamer at all, nor a “gal,” for that matter. And I’m definitely not a nerd. I’ve learnt since childhood to admire the humanities, read the classics, and pay attention to things like shoes and hairstyles and interior design. My proper English accent and I are more likely found with a glass of Syrah and the complete works of Ovid than rolling a twenty-sided die or gripping a console control. The first time …

Father John, Moral Pornographer.

by Atar Hadari

About twenty years ago, in a Tower Records in Times Square or Piccadilly Circus, I picked up a marked-down copy of John Preston’s first essay collection, My Life as Pornographer. It had blurbs on the back from cult figures such as Pat Califia and Samuel R. Delaney, and in its pages I found, in addition to the Harvard University lecture that provided the title piece, a much less exalted series of profiles from an abandoned book on the sex industry. One of these included an interview with a male prostitute-cum-body artist, tattooist, and body piercing jeweller: In the beginning, you think, This is going to make my dick hard! And that’s the greatest rush I’ve ever had, all drugs barred, finding something new and different to make my dick hard beats them all. But I can’t leave it alone. I have to ask the next …...

Interviews.

“A Relationship to Play, A Relationship to Craft”: A Conversation on Poetry and Stand-Up Comedy.

by Kris Bone

I blame Mitch Hedberg for all of this. Close reading and literary criticism have never been things I come by naturally. In fact, a twelfth-grade English teacher nearly put me off reading and writing forever with a rambling, pedantic interpretation of Of Mice and Men—I’ll never forget the way all the fun bled out as she droned on about what it all meant. Serious writing, I thought, was engineered specifically to be taken apart. And, by extension, all other types of writing were just frivolous entertainment. Ten years later, things have changed. Mitch Hedberg’s stand-up first made me wonder whether there was something in common between “serious” poetry and “frivolous” comedy. Hedberg, for those of you who have the misfortune of not being familiar, was an American comedian famous for his non-sequiturs and peculiar, stilted delivery. (Look him up. I’ll wait.) You’d be remiss to …

Reviews.

Chockablock with Drops: A Review of Carellin Brooks's One Hundred Days of Rain.

by Gavin Tomson

One Hundred Days of Rain Carellin Brooks BookThug, 2015. $20.00, 192 pages.   In One Hundred Days of Rain, winner of the 2016 ReLit Award for best novel as well as the Publishing Triangle’s 2016 Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, Carellin Brooks describes rain as “unvarying and monotonous.” Such a phrase could also describe her book. Rain’s Vancouver-based protagonist, “our heroine,” lives a variant of the same day over and over; her life repeats with little difference. “This weather is driving me crazy,” our heroine confesses toward the end of the book. The book might drive readers crazy, too. The book’s heroine, a broken-hearted writer (we never learn what she writes) and mother hurting from a slow, messy divorce, is something of a Sisyphean figure. Despite her daily efforts to solve or at least subdue her sundry problems, they come back to nag her again and …

Sifting the Stream: A Review of Laura Broadbent's In On the Great Joke.

by Neil Surkan

In On The Great Joke Laura Broadbent Coach House Books, 2016. $18.95, 88 pages.   Yes, Laura Broadbent’s In On the Great Joke is funny, but there’s nothing worse than an essay on the mechanics of humour. Luckily, this collection is also disturbing, theoretical, and enigmatically spiritual. Like a teen on mushrooms looking at his first Breughel, initial giggles widen into an earnestly whispered, appreciative what the fuuuuuckkk. With unsettling accuracy, Broadbent captures the paradoxes and tangles of being alive, the Great Joke of our existence. Reading, she argues, is akin to “alchemy.” Like a fistful of pebbles turned to gold, she has succeeded in coalescing a study of Taoism, a series of interviews with dead authors, scripts for five short films, and a variety of prose essays into a single volume. The collection finds, as Broadbent’s ventriloquism of Clarice Lispector puts it, “a kind …...