GAPING AT THE GROUND WITH THE WINDOW OPEN
we are driving up the side of a mountain
when we run into a lone black cow. she stands
with her knees jutting out of her flesh,
black hide strained bursting, wild stitch holding
together cloudy blood and burnt milk.
you park the car, cutting the ignition, tumbling
out. the air is black exhaust wisping away,
feels dry and flat, cool against the raw wet of
your underarms. the cow lowers its head.
and this is the land of the future, here, the
scraped dry red of the earth, tufts of grass
shuddering in the wind. we walk past metal birds
dipping low into the earth, drawing out oil
thicker than blood, black as anything. watch
the clouds yellowing against the sky,
dimming where they meet smoke, joining
hands only to unjoin them. watch
the sun split itself open like a red, red
plum, sharp against the thickening sky. watch
bugs claw their way out of the cracks in the
dirt, the way they swarm the nearest sweetest thing.
making our way back to the highway
we stop by the side of a small stream and plunge
our hands into it, steal plums from a nearby tree
and sink our teeth into them. juice bleeds down
your chin, and we wash the red off our hands
and watch it pool at the end of the water,
the red earth clouding into black exhaust,
then wisping away. the cow lowers its head.
Jessica Le is currently an undergrad business student at Western University. Her poetry has been published in Western University's Symposium Anthology, CSC's Alt Mag, and is forthcoming in 愈, healing Magazine. She lives in Ottawa.
Plasticpoems, 2.28 minutes
Written by Fiona Tinwei Lam
Animation by Nhat Truong
Sound Design byTinjun Niu:
This short animated video depicts two concrete/visual poems by poet Fiona Tinwei Lam from her collection of poems Odes & Laments (Caitlin Press, 2019) about marine plastic pollution
Plasticnic, 1.13 minutes
Written/Narrated by Fiona Tinwei Lam
Animation by Tisha Deb Pillai
Sound Design byTinjun Niu:
A humorous animated video poem about plastic pollution that shows how we destroy nature while seeking to enjoy ourselves in the great outdoors.
The video poem is based on a shaped poem in Odes & Laments (Caitlin Press, 2019)
Note: all words come from letters in “plastic” with no doubling. Each shift occurs with the addition or removal of a single letter and/or a reordering of the letters.
"Quench" originally published in Odes & Laments, (Caitlin Press, 2019).
Fiona Tinwei Lam’s third collection of poetry Odes & Laments celebrates the overlooked wonder and beauty in the everyday, while lamenting harm to our ecosystems. She has also authored a children’s book, edited The Bright Well: Contemporary Canadian Poems on Facing Cancer, and co-edited Love Me True: Writers Reflect on the Ins, Outs, Ups & Downs of Marriage with Jane Silcott. Lam won The New Quarterly’s Nick Blatchford Prize and was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award. Her work appears in more than thirty-five anthologies, including The Best Canadian Poetry in English (both 2010 and 2020) and Forcefield: 77 Women Poets of BC. Her award-winning poetry videos have screened at festivals locally and internationally. She teaches at Simon Fraser University’s Continuing Studies. fionalam.net @FTinweiL
MINING THE MOON (A DÉCOUPÉ POEM)*
a fine gray powder
meet the Moon’s surface
covering lunar regolith
probes discover Helium-3:
a source of energy
trapped in Moon
equivalent value of a metric ton
harness it in reactors
harness it in
dust and heat
700 degrees centigrade
to manage large quantities
for this main reason: dollars
no one sent in proposals
to the Moon
but "cleaner than fossil fuels."
inhale the gas
of the century!
and recovering astronauts
roving robotic miner
who walked the surface
who meet our planet’s needs
makes mining lunar program
INTERLUNE a go,
“probably the only way”
says the Director of the University of
Fusion Technology Program
59 million dollar lunar orbiter
that kind of
needs fusion technology.
putting tens of millions of dollars
into bags full of regolith
during solar winds,
supply energy of a city of ten million
for a year
a shift in dependence
from oil to dust
within our limits
push the lunar mining concept
push the ocean through wind
push us through rare reason.
make their way
1,997 miners are close to breaking;
take the concept back
to Earth because
“they won't go back to the moon”
“going to go back to the moon”
“piggyback on —“
to the moon” “so far!”
“space agency barriers”
“don't see any others
a variant of this plan
in this playful time,
balls of gas, may not be
right, 1,997 miners
close to breaking.
“won’t go back.”
the miner collects $145, the Program
collects $59 million
this kind of gas, safer?
1,997 astronauts brought back
building up, would pick up
it's a possibility
breaking the Ocean
so now; project another way
to repel the breaking,
if we sit on our hands
by the factor of 3,
we blast through Luna
can’t go back
a depth of choice.
in fact, main reason
seems to be generated
miners shift the Moon’s surface.
that’s enough to lure
we could float
on facts, repel reactions
in enough crude,
found a clean source overall
helium-3 captured interest
stimulus, captured thousands --
but the planet’s needs
off the table.
the breaking continues
years go on…
billions of humans
without a Moon
* “Moon Dust: The gray powder may hold a source of clean fuel.” By Dave Cravotta. Final Frontier, November/December Issue, 1996, pg 40.
Whitney French is a storyteller and a multi-disciplinary artist. She is the editor of Black Writers Matter, a critically acclaimed anthology published by the University of Regina Press in 2019. Additionally, Whitney French is also the creator of the nomadic workshop series Writing While Black. The work featured is an excerpt of her forthcoming science-fiction verse novel. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
YERSINIA PESTIS IN ALBERTA
During the bubonic plague, Thieves’ Oil (a blend
of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary)
was placed on hands, ears, temples, feet, and inside of
beak-like masks to avoid catching the plague.
It will be manageable at first.
a brief tremor in the arms and legs,
squirrels will drop from electrical wires
and robins will lose their voice.
The pain will be no brighter
than a flickering candle
A man on a podium
will tell you not to worry.
The men behind will nod.
They will post signs
telling you to exercise
You will sink your body
You can ignore the
darkness in the sides
of your ribcage. You cannot
avoid the shadows on
It will get better
before it gets worse.
To contain the infection,
gathering in groups
will be prohibited.
The tremors will return
and they will be violent.
You must always wear
long pants to keep
the insects from your ankles.
If you find dead birds,
leave them be.
Avoid physical contact--
it can spread
through saliva of the infected.
Wrap black thread around fingertips
to keep the sickness contained:
Amy LeBlanc is an MA student in English Literature and creative writing at the University of Calgary and Managing Editor at filling Station magazine. Amy's debut poetry collection, I know something you don’t know, was published with Gordon Hill Press in March 2020. Her novella "Unlocking" will be published by the UCalgary Press in their Brave and Brilliant Series in 2021. Her work has appeared in Room, PRISM International, and the Literary Review of Canada among others. She is a recipient of the 2020 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award.
I WAKE WHEN THE BIRDS TELL ME THEY WANT TO DREAM
a form gathers sweat on every surface
skin touch feathers touch skin
pull wings apart
leave pile of quills
outside bedroom window
hot air blows around
it is springtime
animals come out
for lucidity through
of promised tea
aftermath of sex lies
in warm laundry piles
bird tells me not to worry
it sings a melody in my ear
just before i wake
i can’t help but listen
the bird is the first
to believe me when i say
i spun clouds into silkworms the night before
every house was a beacon lit up
of candlelight in smokescreened
can’t handle early dawn rays
i match the bird’s tune
with a wooden flute
it tells me please stop
are not mine to play
Manahil Bandukwala is a writer and visual artist. Her most recent project, Reth aur Reghistan, is a collaboration with her sister, Nimra, in which they research folklore from Pakistan and interpret it through poetry and sculpture. See more about the project at sculpturalstorytelling.com. She is the author of two chapbooks, Paper Doll (Anstruther Press, 2019) and Pipe Rose (battleaxe press, 2018). She was the 2019 winner of Room magazine's Emerging Writer Award, and was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize.
ONLY THE SUN
Who will notice when this leaf is gone?
It is only a leaf,
tiny, trembling, green; tomorrow’s auburn.
No one will know. Only the bird will know.
Who will notice when this love is gone?
It is only a love,
a ghost thing with no edges or shape.
No one will know. Only I will know.
Who will notice when this song is gone?
It is only a song,
one sound set beside another like a pair of shoes.
No one will know. Only we will know.
Who will notice when the sun is gone?
It is only a sun,
a hole of gold burned in an endless sky.
No one will know. Only the dark will know.
I wake up with a protest sign on my chest
in my own bed, no chanters or marchers near.
I wake up to the sound of the ocean rattling
like paper unfolding, the clear voices of unseen birds.
I wake up in a fast-moving vehicle on a highway--
sun choosing the passenger side, the green blurred
trees an anonymous crowd, a hum of uncertainty.
I wake up to the sound of people arguing. I wake up
already peeing into a toilet; the mirror has aged me.
I wake up in an apartment I used to rent
years ago, though the wallpaper has changed
and I can’t be sure I’m not a ghost. Somehow
the same things propel me forward.
I wake up to the small hole a cigarette makes,
a punctuation mark in someone else’s turmoil.
The sandy snake of smoke climbs the wall.
I wake up on a bus between countries
and for a minute I’ve forgotten my own name,
just a dry mouth and a body, a set of eyes.
I wake up to the blind gray face of a mountain;
though I have never gone mountain climbing
I’m wearing the boots for it. I stretch, look around.
It appears I have all the equipment and it’s a new day.
Emily Schultz will publish her newest novel, Little Threats, in fall 2020 with GP Putnam’s Sons. Her novel, The Blondes, released in Canada with Doubleday, in the U.S. with Picador, in France with Editions Alto and Editions Asphalte. Named a Best Book of 2015 by NPR and Kirkus, it recently became a scripted podcast starring Madeline Zima. Her poems have appeared in
Minola Review, rust + moth, Humber Literary Review, and Taddle Creek.
EPISTEMOLOGY OF THE ICEBERG
An iceberg used to mean
like an iceberg
was to have
the surface. To go
on. Now, an iceberg means
impermanence. To melt into
something. To disappear into your
body. To run into an old friend
at the market and be told
you’ve changed. Now, an iceberg
is something you can argue.
Like politics or history. Like
memory. How old were you
when you saw the iceberg?
Your mother says eleven.
You say fourteen. You stood
on the shore in PEI, your hands
and breath both frozen. A mass of ice
bigger than your house, your school.
If only ten percent of an iceberg
floats above the surface, what does
that mean for the other ninety? Back then,
an iceberg meant mystery— a second truth
below the water. Now, both truths
Gabrielle Drolet is a poet and journalist based in London, ON. Her work, which focuses on politics and queer identity, has been published in The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Teen Vogue, VICE, and more. She's currently completing her undergraduate degree in English and Creative Writing at Western University.
bow to the Passenger Pigeon
genuflect to the Great Cruising Auk
sing praises to the frogs that sing no more
the Rocky Mountain Grasshoppers
the Northern White
the Coral awash
in acidic seas
the Bramble Cay Melomys
first of the mammals
officially wiped out
February 18, 2019
by climate change
while ocean levels rise
in ever burning
through extinction’s heaven
let all their death throes
hymn celestial halls
David White was a participant in Renga: A Collaborative Poem (Brick Books 1980). In 1994, in completion of his Ph.D., he wrote “A Territory Not Yet On The Map:” Relocating Gay Aestheticism in the Age of AIDS. His first solo collection of poems is The Lark Ascending (Pedlar Press, 2017), followed by Local Haunts (Pedlar Press 2019). For many years he taught Theatre History and Writing at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario.
A SONG CALLED EVENING
Enduring a life not lived she tried to sing a song one evening, but what came out
broke her heart and turned her into water. Loneliness filled her body. It so happens
that the more she moved into it the more she began to leak. Gasping for a remedy
she hugged her sleeping babies, but it didn’t work and in the gloom she become
a river, then a rapid, turning into a torrent. She could not contain himself, it was
past eleven, and there she was past the place of returning.
Coming our way the size of a mountain.
The polar caps are melting the water is here
Poor man and rich will taste their fear.
It was a simple song, maybe a country song, or a rock song, or a song for a drum.
What she did know is that it filled the core of her being. A song spilling out of her
heart, her eyes, her mouth, her ears. Swept away she flowed with such force that
to her astonishment she found herself knocking down things – finally! she thought
as she collided with churches and schools, apartment buildings and grocery stories,
corner stores and offices, malls and police stations, you name it.
The bible people gathered to pray
While others danced and sang, and they all had one thing to say
the end of the world is here, the end of the world is here.
Oh my babies, she thought, stretching out her arms in front of her as she had been
taught when she was a little girl. Oh my. But that old feeling of emptiness,
disempowerment, shame, was fleeting because in the moment she felt for
the first time who she was, and she liked it. Why hadn’t she been taught this?
She knew. She flowed with power, and she was going to use it. Hell yes.
Water is power. Water brings beginning. That much she knew.
I’ve seen it it’s true there is no denying.
From each single wave they’ll be no hiding.
It will strike with all the force of creation.
If only she could remember more of the words, but it was getting late and it was time
to return home to snuggle her babies, tidy the place, maybe watch some tv. It was time
to pull the curtains aside. Time to clean things up. Time to make her own way. Nobody
was going to do it for her. It felt good to stretch her entire being. She could do it,
she could make things sing as she plowed through them. This was living. This is what
would get her through another day. Oh, how she loved her two babies. She would
give them the world.
We turn on the tap
without a thought
and with a weary sigh
we greet the day
with things (to do)
while the water runs out
and we stare
like robots (as we fill our coffeepot).
of this and that
but never all the ways
we turn on the tap
without a thought.
Is it because
we think everything
can be sold
as a reward
for our hard work
with our hard-earned pay?
Content to fill
with things (to have)
while the water runs dry.
I can attest
it is true
I have seen the yachts.
The lakes go foul
while the speedboats play
And we continue
to turn on the tap
without a thought.
there comes a time
to connect the dots
because the power
presses to sway
with things (desired).
They make us dream
we’ve hit the jackpot
a continual onslaught
but those who see
know it is time
to take a stand
for we cannot continue
to turn on the tap
without a thought
And submit to a life
of things that are
Between land and water so glassy
not a ripple to disturb what you see,
a plume of green tendril sweeps
across your legs like an invitation,
an invocation that awakens your body,
numb swimmer of absolute beginnings and endings.
Into this morning you go naked
and clear to bedrock
propelled by a shard of beauty,
of what little is left after such a long drought. What is it
that cuts through you through the exhausted surface
to a fourth dimension where fish,
turtle, loon, serpent
mingle below a necklace of cottages,
and – lo and behold – sprout from your limbs,
your trepidation, disbelief, wonderment,
nothing less than a terrestrial gulp
the size of a lake as you continue
harder than ever
to swim on.
"Sentient" from Treaty #, Wolsak & Wynn, 2019.
Armand Garnet Ruffo was born and raised in northern Canada and is a member of the Chapleau Fox Lake Cree First Nation. He is recognized as a major contributor to both contemporary Indigenous literature an Indigenous literary scholarship in Canada. As an educator, he is currently the Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, On. As a poet, he was honoured in 2016 with a “Lifetime Membership Award” from the National Council of The League of Canadian Poets.
He is the author of numerous books including Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird, a finalist for a 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award, and Treaty #, a finalist for a 2019 Governor General’s Award. His latest film is a collaboration called “On The Day the World Begins Again,” a short video poem about Indigenous peoples’ incarceration, which premiered at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival in 2019. It can be accessed at https://vimeo.com/336947329. He most recently co-edited An Anthology of Indigenous Literature in Canada (Oxford U Press, 2020).
YOUNG BLACK MALE
Young black male, in panic in view of red and blue
On top of the roof, a dangerous crew, violent group
Gas lighting you, all lives matter, blue lives matter
My weary blues muted by America's white chatter
Institutional lies, now we're institutionalized
Thirteenth amendment, blacks used by the whites
Still locked up for grams, dope runners with no bodies
Thoughts that jog in my head is that I might be Arbery
How swift would cops make Maya Breonna Taylor?
Well suited for destruction, who's Uncle Sam's tailor?
Haunted by thoughts of dad lost, his poor boy
Might go George Foremen on killers of George Floyd
Say race don't matter? you made race matter
Once you started spilling African plasma
American heroes? NO, just protected villains sir
Making a killing, making all these killings occur
My name is Mandela Massina. I am a Canadian student of Congolese descent at Western University, in London, Ontario Canada where I study English Literature and Creative Writing. In response to the unjust murder of George Floyd, I wrote this poem as an attempt to express my thoughts. It is the most honest I have been in a piece of writing.
Watch Your Head is an online anthology of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
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