HOME = GARBAGE
looking out the window
from my teta’s balcony
at the news on my laptop
some days they look the same
and some days they don’t
my aunt says this is weird
there have never been any military tanks
in zalka before
three days in a row
imagine the difference between
this looks weird
and military men directing traffic
on a daily basis
rifles slung across their shoulders
waving the cars to keep going
stop, turn left
cars in two lanes somehow
fitting themselves four wide
stop, keep going, turn left
this country is corrupt says my uncle
this country smells like garbage
contracts with the garbage company left unrenewed
military men pinching their noses
while directing traffic
if we can’t manage garbage
can we do anything right?
we stop, keep going, turn left
people sling bags of rotten garbage
over mountain sides
drop garbage onto houses
into the ocean
anywhere but garbage disposal
where to dispose
when there is nowhere
four months and my uncle is hospitalized
lungs filled with pollution
hundreds of people in the country
beirut protesters push
industrial garbage bins
into the middle of the road
try pretending that doesn’t exist
aimed at government officials
people start to move them
most people drive around them
an obstacle course
in preserving ignorance
let us press our ignorance deeper
throw bags over the shoulders of refugees
this country is too small
as though that’s the only problem
religion into garbage
brown sludge building
when it’s too hot to stay inside
my family heads to the beach
stops at a checkpoint
on the way up the mountains
the military man with a rifle
across his shoulders barely looks
wipes sweat off his brow
bored, nods, motions us forward
the privilege of christianity
there are hundreds of military checkpoints
in this tiny country
hundreds of bored military men
stop, keep going, shmel
there are thousands of palestinians
in refugee camps in this country
stop, undocumented, prohibited
by checkpoints in and out
stop, undocumented, prohibited
I don’t live in zalka anymore
but every year I visit
the garbage keeps growing
downtown beirut skyscrapers
hiding the garbage
close the back windows
or we’ll smell garbage
speeding on the only highway in lebanon
past garbage piles in flames
taller than the gas station beside it
my uncle’s lungs filled with garbage
this country is corrupt, says my uncle
and I ask him why he’s still here
it’s home, he says, his nose plugged
my family came back 18 years ago
this is home, they say
lungs filled with garbage
Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch is a queer Arab poet living in Tio’tia:ke, unceded Kanien’kehá:ka territory (Montreal). Their work has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry 2018 anthology, GUTS, the Shade Journal, Arc Poetry Magazine, Room Magazine, and elsewhere. They were longlisted for the CBC poetry prize in 2019. knot body, a collection of creative non-fiction and poetry will be published September 2020 by Metatron Press, and The Good Arabs, a poetry collection, will be published in Fall 2021 with Metonymy Press. You can find them on Instagram and Twitter @theonlyelitareq.
no nuclear winter
no ice age
no second coming
no robot revolution
a pear tree
"Anti-Apocalypse" previously published in Bad Animals (Insominac Press, 2018)
Tom Cull teaches creative writing at Western University and was the Poet Laureate for the City of London from 2016-2018. Tom’s first collection of poems, Bad Animals, was published in 2018 by Insomniac Press. His work has appeared in such journals as the Rusty Toque, Long Con, and the New Quarterly; his poem “After Rivers” was included in the anthology Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (MSU Press, 2019). Tom is the director of Antler River Rally, a grass roots environmental group he co-founded in 2012 with his partner Miriam Love. ARR works to protect and restore Deshkan Ziibi (Thames River).
AVIAN ODES—CANADA GOOSE
The chill, glassy mist just then
Dissolving into hints of sultriness
Echoed with jubilant honks,
Avian position-signalling on high,
Pulling my gaze up to your magnificent
Flying V’s northward bound
Flinging joyful vernal greetings.
Come the ordained crisp autumn day
The calls echoed again off frosted fields
As your arrow formations streamed south,
Bidding farewell until spring warmth
Once more crept in.
Winter past was deep, consistent;
Now it staggers all around,
Reeling under humanity’s blows,
Glistening white morphs
To sulky brown mud,
Defiantly open water
Supplants sparkling ice.
A few goose homebodies
Spawned many more of you that
Seize what’s on offer, spurn the effort
And trade glorious flight for ungainly
Waddling about and strolls through traffic,
Expropriating luscious, manicured turf,
Cheerfully crapping all over your squattage;
Soaring nobility mutated to a
Grey-brown-black wingéd pest
Herded off the cathedral greensward
By a bellowing leaf blower;
Target practice for a skulking
Archer in a London park;
Clubbing victim of a sportsman
Whose putt was ruined by an
Inopportune anserine klaxon.
Undaunted, you multiply and toddle on,
Once a belovéd seasonal herald,
Now flocks of Cassandras trumpeting
Warnings, flaunting consequences,
Announcing a battle joined.
Jennifer Wenn is a trans-identified writer and speaker from London, Ontario. Her first poetry chapbook, A Song of Milestones, has been published by Harmonia Press (an imprint of Beliveau Books). She has also written From Adversity to Accomplishment, a family and social history; and published poetry in Beliveau Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Open Minds Quarterly, Tuck Magazine, Synaeresis, Big Pond Rumours, the League of Canadian Poets Fresh Voices, Wordsfestzine, and the anthology Things That Matter. She is also the proud parent of two adult children with a day job as a systems analyst. Jennifer Wenn's website.
STAND BY THE LAST STREAM
Mother, I can hear you cry
with every pipeline being
laid to unrest deep in your folds,
deep in your layers.
I can hear you cry
and those who believe
Stand by the last stream
it’s only a matter of time
and stories will be told
of a time when water was
clean and free.
It will be a fairy tale in
good books sold at
It will be what dreams
are made of
and what man will
Stand by the last stream
watch it struggle
trying to complete the circle
with nothing left to prov.
Stand by the last rive,r
gather around it
to pray hard this doesn’t end
the intentions of Mother Earth.
Remember the slow trickles,
the last sounds anyone ever hears
of a time when water was clear
and a time when it was free,
a time when water fell from the sky
clear droplet, clear droplets
that could be tasted
as it fell.
Stand by the last stream
that feedds the life of our animals
who trusted Mother earth
to always provide.
Imagine the new bear or the new child
not knowing where the last stream is.
What will become of them?
Stand by the last strea,
the last unmurky source
of life, peace and renewal,
gurgling, choking for breath
not a fish in sight
because they are all in farms and zoos.
Stand by the last stream
as our children's’ children
gather round and wonder why,
saying they could have done a better job,
and they’d be right.
Stand by the last stream,
with your friends and loved ones
and reminisce about a time
when you could reach in with both hand,
almost in prayer and cup the water
and drink straight from Mother Earth-
the breast of mankind.
Stand by the last stream
wondering what happened,
turning into a 3rd world country
as the trees that once stood tall,
fall by the wayside waiting to be
turned into more paper for more
signatures and stamps of approval
to go ahead and destroy the last stream.
Stand by the last stream
with your child looking on
at the last crystal clear wate
trickling to an end
and try to find the words
Try and explain what no one
will understand and hindsight is
Stand by the last stream
as money floats by
instead of fish,
and gold can’t be eaten,
and silver can’t be eaten,
and diamonds can’t be worn,
and animals can’t be saved,
and the trees rot on the ground
while children swarm singing
in empty playgrounds
by the last stream,
and you can’t give a newborn oil,
and not even the dandelions will grow,
and the birds won’t call,
and the pictures you see in your head
will only be a story...
and the only thing left will be regret...
Will you stand
stand by the last stream...
Previously published in Seven Sacred Truths, Talonbooks in 2018.
Cree poet Wanda John-Kehewin studied criminology, sociology, Aboriginal studies, and creative writing while attending the Writer’s Studio writing program at Simon Fraser University. She uses writing as a therapeutic medium through which to understand and to respond to the near decimation of First Nations culture, language, and tradition. She has two poetry books published by Talonbooks, two children’s readers and is currently working on a graphic novel. She finds time to write between the lines.
SOUTHERN GASTRIC-BROODING FROG
collected by David S. Liem
38.4 mm snout to vent
smooth, slimy skin
prominent eyes, black
with gold spots
round blunt snout
jaws close snap
streams, spend days
summer rains initiate breeding
fertilized eggs, tadpoles
develop in the stomach, are birthed
through the mother’s mouth
fully-formed froglets spew forth
1978 summer rains late
1979 rains very late
1980 & 1981 rains late again
last seen in the wild December 1979
last captive frog died November 1983
THE CALL OF THIS SPECIES
The grunting of a pig a hen cackling the bleat of a sheep
the low bellow of an ox a cricket singing near the water
a dog’s bark a duck quacking young crows cawing
a delicate insect-like tinkle a broken banjo string
a finger running over the small teeth of a comb
a squeaky door being slowly opened a carpenter’s hammer
the tapping of paddles on the side of a canoe a cough
a watch being wound a nasal snarl
a low-pitched snore two marbles being struck together
sleigh bells the clangor of a blacksmith's shop
P-r-r-r- pip-pip-pip-pip poo-poo-poo-poo-poo-poo
purrrreeeek cr, cr, cr cre-e-e-e-e-e-p, cre-e-e-e-e-e-p
pst-pst-pst queenk, queenk eeek! kraw, kraw, kraw
jwah, jwah ah, ah, ah, ah krack, krack, krack
ca-ha-ha-ac, ca-ha-ha-ac, ca-ha-ha-ac pé-pé, pé-pé
kle-kle-kle-klee cran, cran, cran, c-r-r-en, c-r-r-en
creck-creck-creck cut-cut-cut-cut ric-up, ric-up, ric-up
ru-u-u-ummm ru-u-u-ummm grrruut-grrruut-grrruut-grrruut
grau, grau gick, gick, gick, gick tschw, tschw, tschw
wurrk, wur-r-r-k trint-trint tr-r-r-onk tr-r-r-onk, tr-r-r-onk!
The call of this species has not been recorded
fragmentation of forest
clearance of cloud forest
movement of the cloud layer up the mountainside
ice in the montane grasslands
severe dry seasons
drought-related increases in evaporation
successive fires extending deeper into the rainforest
construction of a dam upstream
construction of a cable car
pesticides used in maize farming upstream
conversion of habitat into a golf course
invasion of mist flower
introduction of the Bullfrog
lack of genetic diversity
heavy parasite loads
exportation for the pet trade
stress due to handling for data collection
Kate Sutherland lives in Toronto where she writes poems, makes collages, and teaches law. She is the author of three books: Summer Reading (winner of a Saskatchewan Book Award), All In Together Girls, and How to Draw a Rhinoceros (shortlisted for a Creative Writing Book Award by the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment). A new collection of poems, The Bones Are There, is forthcoming from Book*hug Press in Fall 2020. These three poems are part of a longer sequence about extinct frog species which will appear in its entirety in the new collection.
WALKING INTO THE OCEAN
I frequently think about walking into the ocean. My sense of obligation to the earth simply the flimsy contract of a collapsed toy ship factory. I wonder how long fish would live if no longer fugitive to keel, kellick, and angry boom chain. Giving Botox to the water, the workers of our county must have looked forward to the coolness of soil when they drowned. The last of their incense breaths fleeing from Pender Street, home between ashy pages of quiet night and negligent morning. That portion of motherland was christened Oriental Hawaii. Which part did you name me after? I watch as you twist together umbilical buoy with steaming red sausage. Squeeze blood from wet towel.
I get it all mixed up—the water from sausage oil, sun spots from badges of living. Tell me the difference between my bones and the bones of whale shark. Only, this nuclear explosion paints in tiny brushstrokes like iron filings. My ghost grips my neck until I can breathe again. My fear is that the ocean knows too much, would reject me too. The pomelo at the corner of our fridge untouched for months. Face torn up like sausage skin. Roof of my mouth softening, mistaken for glue. The ocean is a fable, seaweed stuck between front teeth. If we laid out our hides side by side, which of us would have more scales? And after all of it: I ride nekton back to before I walked. To find my baby-body fed. To find the coolness of soil in the ship yard’s false summer heat. Safe? A warmth I have betrayed has betrayed me.
Who can say if this daydream is more about walking than about water. More about the empty swing than about the drop. More about daring to steal a pillow from a sleeping giant. Unwound spool and a jar of kitchen grease, honeying frozen flies. Somehow the tea is still cold; it’s like you have forgotten who I am. What would you do if I could become a worm wedged between subduction zone boundary between us, waking up to everything, gone? The ocean is not a feeling, not a child, not a mother, not a worker, not a word. But she is still learning from contours of glass—just like we are.
jia you 
putin marches chinese soldiers across shanghai streets.
fear the Uighur terrorists, jiuma warns me,
and no sooner, street stands steaming with nan and kebab
fold into the hollow sprawls of massage parlours, german furniture stores,
french bakeries, italian pubs, American sex toy shops,
local shoe shops doubling as sunday school, real
massage parlours, a lego construction of western carpets
and han ornaments. disappeared.
students tell each other before gaokao: “jiayou.”
mothers tell their children before gaokao: “jiayou.”
thick wallets tell their diasporic offspring before AP economics: “jiayou.”
translation: build pipelines transporting oil between Skovorodino and Daqing
translation: build pipelines transporting greed and colonialism across Turtle Island
rupture water with oil.
drink oil-flavoured bbt with the thick straw of a gun barrel.
brush your teeth with bitumen paste, rinse
extract it from skin browner than ours.
take it, drink it. until the sun never dares set
on our civilized, meddling kingdom.
yellow powder amalgamated with sheens of white--
xiaojie the fairest in the land. a quick nod,
scorching back scratcher: got you covered.
advancing grades, following orders, guaihaizi marching westward
until we lose ourselves between the failure of 89%
and the success of swearing allegiance to the queen
(making the last payment on the mortgage). filial, determined,
loyal to the very end.
there would be no chinese faces protesting pipelines that day.
I wonder if we’d need to drink poison from these waters we
steal from to see the filth on our hands. but
you cannot bribe a river to love you, forgive you,
no. not today.
because the Yangtze remembers the poppies that poisoned,
the villages evacuated, the children sold, the maozedongs and
elizabeths laundered exchanged transported.
just so little xingxing could go to school.
just so little favourite grandchild could have a better life.
just so we never have to talk about 49, 66-76, 89 tucked between
the eights in our addresses and phone numbers,
the ones and zeros of our pockets. just so.
you tell me,
“jia you.” but how can you
when you do not know the name of this river. when
you do not know where your bones will be buried.
when you have crushed your veins between big data and the sea.
just so we never have to talk about
what we pretend not to know.
a bottle of cooking oil, crushed by a tank.
 jia you means “add oil,” another way to say “good luck”
 gaokao is the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, a prerequisite exam to get into higher education in the People’s Republic of China
"jia you" previously published in Tributaries: ACAM undergraduate student journal
Jane Shi is a queer Chinese settler living on the unceded, traditional, and ancestral territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Her writing has appeared in Briarpatch Magazine, Canthius, The Malahat Review, PRISM, and Room, among others. She wants to live in a world where love is not a limited resource, land is not mined, hearts are not filched, and bodies are not violated. Find her online @pipagaopoetry.
IT WON'T END WITH A BANG,
it won’t end with DEFCON 1,
but with muddied water guzzled down desperate throats
and mothers crying at shallow graves.
with winds whispering away whimpering cities,
and brothers packing mothers and sisters to safety.
it won’t end with the masses.
there will be no riots in the streets,
instead they will run blue
and be made seas gushing into coast.
it won’t end with a hero.
no, the hero will die of pneumonia,
or starve when the livestock have died from dysentery
and mildew has taken the plants.
we won’t be chased.
if we had been, we may have run.
instead, death will crawl at a sickly pace
and close the space between us.
it will end how it all started…
with water rushing shores,
earth cracking open,
and fire razing forests,
to make room for new inhabitants.
but not with a bang.
Ayman Arik Kazi is a Muslim, bisexual, Bangladeshi-Canadian immigrant and a student at the University of Western Ontario. That's a lot of identifiers. He founded the Western's first community for spoken word artists and poets, Spoken Word Society. He has written for several small publications like Young Voices and The Reckoner of MGCI. Ayman likes weaving the many aspects of his often conflicting identity into art that offers a scope into his mind.
NONE OF THIS IS A METAPHOR FOR ANYTHING
In the car I traced the power lines with my fingers
and hopped over the poles like little toads
real little jumpers like the ones we collected together
before the marsh was condos
that must’ve been 25 years ago today
it feels longer
we were born under the high watermark
and knew what that meant
how many metaphors do you need to make sense of a dying planet?
at least one more? at least one more
nothing gets to the point I’m trying to make,
there is no such thing as real sacrifice anymore
the difference between fake blood and real blood
is roughly how much we’ll pay for it
Tyler Engström's first book of poetry, Thee Golden Age of the Internet, is forthcoming from Frontenac House in 2021. He was a 2017 finalist for the Writer's Trust RBC Bronwen Wallace Award and his writing has been found in FreeFall Magazine, Freq Magazine, and the poetry anthology Drifting Like a Metaphor: Calgary Poets of Promise. @tylrengstrom
Survivors crawl across
withered black comb, invisible
apocalypse, sisters wandering
lost in the corn fields, seduced
by filaments of silk, the toxic
pollen. Scooping up death--
no distinction between friend
and foe, all obliterated
in service of unblemished
fields, poisoned bees
littering the ground.
The low hum of welcome
washed into air,
torn apart by a breeze.
Sent down streams
like the limbs of Orpheus;
the queen perched on her throne,
wondering who will come to feed her.
Regal head tilting patiently,
big eyes surveying the decay. Where
is her long train, her cloak
of swarming bodies,
tight as tapestry? Gone,
all gone. Her own body
meaningless without them.
“Colony Collapse” has been published in a previous version in Hamilton Arts and Letters and in Under the Gamma Camera (Gaspereau, 2019).
Madeline Bassnett is the author of the poetry collection Under the Gamma Camera (Gaspereau 2019), and two chapbooks, Pilgrimage and Elegies. Her poems have appeared in journals including long con magazine, Prairie Fire, Hamilton Arts and Letters, The New Quarterly, and in the anthology, In Fine Form, 2nd Edition: A Contemporary Look at Canadian Form Poetry. She is currently on the board of Poetry London and teaches in the Department of English and Writing Studies at Western University. She lives in London, Ontario.
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I LAID THE EARTH'S FOUNDATION?
at the heart of garbage
the -away of the throw-away
circling us in:
The desert of the real
a mouse click away
crack turn schism
salt to melt all winters away
where were you when I laid the Earth’s foundation?
and I build Arks for when Noah comes back
Khashayar Mohammadi is a queer, Iranian born, Toronto-based Poet, Writer, Translator and Photographer. He is the author of poetry Chapbooks Moe’s Skin by ZED press 2018, Dear Kestrel by knife | fork | book 2019 and Solitude is an Acrobatic Act by above/ground press 2020. His debut poetry collection Me, You, Then Snow is forthcoming with Gordon Hill Press.
Watch Your Head is an online anthology of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
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