“Wailsong 4 Sydney” collects instances of a novel form of found poetry that I call the amput(ransl)ation. First, a random string of alphanumeric characters is typed by hand into Google translate, which misinterprets this string as a legitimate entry in one or another language (often, but not always, recognizing it as Arabic script). Then, one or more characters are iteratively excised from the string, producing a descending sequence of alternate translations, until not much more than a stump is left.
While perusing this form, on January 10th, 2020, in the midst of the Australian bushfire crisis, I happened upon a sequence that spoke of Sydney, Australia, of greenness and heat, of smoke, and of payment. Delving a bit deeper, I identified the sequence in question, and explored various permutations of both the string and the type and order of character excisement, ultimately producing this sequence of found poetry, which serves as a dirgesong for the bushfire crisis currently underway in Australia.
It is typeset here in Australia, an open-source typeface designed by Denver Ross that "takes inspiration from the arches of the Sydney Opera House to the waves of Bondi Beach."
Franco Cortese is an experimental poet living in Thorold, Ontario. His poetry was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize and has appeared in Literary Review of Canada, The Malahat Review, Canadian Literature, The Capilano Review, filling Station, ditch, and others. His recent chapbooks include aeiou (No Press 2018), uoiea (above/ground press 2019), teksker (Simulacrum Press 2019), no mỡ, no mo, no mò (nOIR:Z 2020), lo vỡ yo uo (above/ground press 2020), wú hu uu mù iu (above/ground press, 2020), gó go gó (The Blasted Tree 2020), lő co co lỗ (Timglaset, 2020) and lù vũ yǔ (Timglaset 2020). He also has leaflets, booklets and other poetic ephemera out through The Blasted Tree, Penteract Press, and Spacecraft Press. His work has been published both within Canada and internationally, and has been anthologized in Concrete and Constraint (Penteract Press 2018) and Science Poems (Penteract Press 2020).
I NEVER GOT OVER 60 LIKES
When hasn’t life been expendable?
Another train departs
tossed on a heap of disposables
Cell phones plastics mountains
There is no law
Only the monied
This too shall pass
We already know the ending
We’ve seen it
Left before the credits
“I didn’t think it would be such a downer.”
“This sucks, let’s leave.”
“Why did you unfollow me?”
“You unfriended me bitch”
Like that’s the end of the world.
Just one click
In a darkened theatre
We stay to the bitter end
The price of the ticket
To see what might happen
Any surprises plot twists
“I didn’t see that one coming”
The oldies the goodies
The good guys show up
Oft times even only one
To set the captives free
To take down the evil ones
Shot in glorious black and white
Light projected a fresh stream
the cup of one’s hands
When there was free water to drink
“Can I have a glass of water?”
“Water some water please”
“My daughter needs some water.”
You only think you’re tired
The entire tired sick fucking world is
It sucks to be tired
tired of this all of this
Maybe I’ll message Christopher
See if they’re tired, too.
KIRBY’s earlier chapbooks include Cock & Soul, Bob’s boy, The World is Fucked and Sometimes Beautiful, and She’s Having A Doris Day. Their full-length debut, This Is Where I Get Off is now in its second printing (Permanent Sleep Press, 2019) and currently being adapted for the stage. Kirby is the owner and publisher of knife | fork | book. www.jeffkirby.ca
(after A.M. Klein)
The weather cites the welling mercury;
un autre mois comme ça, we'll all be dead –
so say the clamours banging on our walls.
In the papers, calls
for carbon caps are lain next to a sea
of melting rhetoric. Sunburns run red.
A week, and it will break! How many stores
of all their A/C units are blood-let?
Outside their boiled abodes, the city tries
to fight off fire with ice,
cones ripple and dip, kids squeeze their Freezies warm.
There are no winds to fan our fevered têtes.
But it will come! One night this week a boom
will wake the sweltering masses, light will flash,
fat drops will pound upon our window panes,
then roust from cooling rooms
the sardine-tin-packed youth to a terrasse
'til autumn overtakes us yet again.
Alex Manley is a Montreal-based writer whose work has appeared in Maisonneuve magazine, The Puritan, Carte Blanche, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day feature, among others, and whose debut poetry collection, We Are All Just Animals & Plants, was published by Metatron Press in 2016.
These men who talk about war
like they know how to kill people
like they've learned how to kill people
in the millions
Yeahhhh baby, jets, bombs, ships, drones
we got it
you got oil
we want it
you got lithium
we want it
our people are going green
We need lithium
get those fuckin Indians out of the city
We don't need to hear that mother earth shit
unless Johnny Depp says it
cause he smells nice
David Groulx is the author of 11 books of poetry. From Turtle Island to Gaza (Athabasca University Press) is his most recent.
"This year, for or the first time in memory,
the monarch butterflies didn’t come . . . Last year’s low
of 60 million seems great compared with the fewer
than three million that have shown up so far." / NY Times, Nov. 22, 2013
terrific millionfold monarch migration
in the forest of my youth in the filtered light
of a morning I did not know was morning
amidst populations I did not know would instruct me
sexualized in the coupling force beyond mammal selection
an electrical transmission below the level of sunlight
filtered through towers of living monarch forests
spinning cathedral glass exploded from axis
a diagram of surfaces, light refracted
into flocks of autonomous magnetic sensors
spinning away and toward meridional centers
hundreds of millions of representations
each caught in the eco-swirl of its own sexual
metabolic foraging exploratory hungers
the task is not to become cinematic
for the screen here is exploded the data streams
points of light humans waving their cells
network engines humming data servers
grounding the flock in some undisclosed location
each click an ear of corn burning off the potential
in massed hives of inequality the city humming
with its "own" light that is not its own
burning out the fields the wilderness of flowering
medicinal intelligences shrinking the margin
of attainability the growth gross surplus punishes
straggling monarchs only seem weak until they are
collapse of the network no more visible than its rise
in the shadow of swarms who crowd source explore
cycling inward but what do we counter
the task is not to become elegiac
yet to remember clearly when there was light
brought by other intelligences when the economic
relations were already fucked nothing primary
to experience but the orientation of the objects
in this field of ontological relations massed evidence
available to travelers catching the updraft
of laboring hungering heat at colonial borders a boy
could still hound me into those woods wanting
a bit of change that wasn't in my pocket I could
still be left alone with the flaming alien masses
finally to catch a ride atop a load of resinous timber
back of a truck loaded with logger exhaustion
in the slow economic violence not yet the terror of cartels
the task is to breathe in as well as out
catching a bit of monarch fire in a gentle swarm
in a Clear Creek Canyon above the Colorado
below the towers of Zoroaster Temple, in the early light
of a love whose extinction seemed impossible
impossible as the solitary roving fluttering monarchs
each minding its own tenuous relation minding me
to care for the buried threads of now to then
the spots of time and spaces stitched by migratory
desires, memory, all will power the free-fall struggles
down and up economical topographies of relation
yet actual bodies blinking across the fossil landscape
migratory swarming intelligences only dimly aware
of their own orogenic and plate tectonic powers
the task is to honor the contact and the fire
not the program, to be methodical in action
doing our thing, basking in microclimates, longing
for the heart of the heat of the sun of the swarm
massed in genetic code, memories stored as images
impulses, without which the sprayers roll in silence
across fields of shining corn bundled and sheathed
in cash-clad towers only seeming to be seeds
the deadly vertical updraft of minerals and nutrients
exhausting the soil in row after row of green
desire unmixed by memory, an engineer's paradise
in name only, behind every drone a man
and paymaster, behind every monarch a million
who have always been relation the wing-clad
boughs only seeming to be leaves but who notices
when a network goes offline a constellation
extinguished in the penumbra of failing telescopes
Founder and editor of the influential journal ecopoetics, Jonathan Skinner is the author of Political Cactus Poems (2005), Warblers (2010), Birds of Tifft (2011), and Chip Calls (2014), and his essays have been anthologized widely. He teaches at the University of Warwick.
I ought to start with someone else's gain,
step outside myself, put on the red
and distant visor, be the other queen.
Remember what is still to come. Forget.
An ocean, say, with pebbles full of eyes –
or what were once the outer skins of sight –
how beautiful they are, intact and white
against the deadened grey, intense cerise.
Or maybe sand instead; the other side
of memory. A hundred million minds
A sparrow hops across snow.
A dog barks.
The wishbone though.
Intact and delicate
like a canoe slicing
through the nothingness
that should have been
a heartbeat. Strength
so often gets overlooked
in the pink hour of
dried blood. And so we miss
the open mouth of determination,
the way a foot is lifted not
towards or away from
Ayesha Chatterjee is the author of two poetry collections, The Clarity of Distance, and Bottles and Bones. Her work has appeared in journals across the world and been translated into French and Slovene. Chatterjee is past president of the League of Canadian Poets and chair of the League’s Feminist Caucus. She is poetry advisor for Exile magazine.
There is one road in and out –
mountain to sea and back again.
We take it while we still can,
trail the steady line of traffic
climbing towards a choked sky.
Streams only travel in one direction
or dry up in heatwaves such as this.
The temperatures are still rising.
Last night, as the children slept,
we watched light streak across the sky
illuminating our shack on the hill –
the back steps built close
to jagged shrubs and grass.
This morning we packed everything
and left, shoved pink flip-flops
and beach-balls into the boot,
headed north. We saw flames
above the trees. By nightfall
that road was blistered, nothing
but a scorched leaf-littered underpass,
a net for fiery embers and sparks.
Burning strips of eucalypt bark
leapt from one side of the black lake
to the other. We watch the news,
recognise place names, on digital maps,
not meant for tourists. We walked
those beaches where huge groups
gather, waiting for the ferocious fires
to burn themselves out, return again
to ash-dusted patches of land.
When life comes down to a headspace of air
beneath a jetty – the atmosphere toxic –
and above swirling tornadoes of fire,
the house burning down to the ground,
trees glowing scarlet in the haze, hissing,
spitting out sparks, and a fireball sun
beaming yellow, eucalypts exploding
under a Mercurian orange-streaked sky –
you cling to wood, cling to your grandchildren,
let the youngest lock fingers around your neck,
her blonde curls bobbing on the cold surface,
her eyes wide, lips a thin, pale line – wonder
where their mother is, if she’s praying, check
for five heads above water. Make your case.
Stephanie Conn is a poet and current PhD Researcher from Northern Ireland. Her first collection The Woman on the Other Side (Doire Press, 2016) was shortlisted for the Shine/Strong Award for Best First Collection. Her pamphlet Copeland’s Daughter (Smith/Doorstep, 2016) won the Poetry Business Poetry Competition. Her most recent collection Island was published by Doire Press in 2018. Stephanie is a multi-award winning poet, including the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing. She is the recipient of a range of Arts Council awards and has read her work locally, nationally and internationally. Find out more at https://stephanieconn.org/. Follow @StephanieConn2
8 POEMS: SENRYU, HAIKU, KYOKA, TANKA
How did she do it
Red Riding Hood, luring wolves
Was it expert marketing
or her flawless marksmanship?
Is this blazing earth
just angry - or signing
The heavens last night
Poured out their discontent heart
Flooding our basements
Showers in forecast
After us comes the deluge
Our prospectless toast
Too drunk to dream a future
Our off-key drinking song
While the ice cap thaws
I'll regret my lusting for
Gentler winter winds
Lonely ice flake floats
on lukewarm Arctic waters
- my eyes are melting
The edges of existence
now bend toward depression
tiny bug bites won't disprove
our insect collapse
I offer my scratchy arms
In pursuit of atonement
The city's humming
I listen for sounds of hope
through morning traffic
Hege Jakobsen Lepri is a Norwegian-Canadian translator and writer. She returned to writing in 2011 and had her first story published in English in J Journal in 2013. She has since been published widely in Canada and the US. Her most recent work is featured or forthcoming in The New Quarterly, Carve Literary Magazine, Hobart, Agnes and True, Journal of Compressed Arts, Gone Lawn, Belletrist, Crack the Spine, Prism International and elsewhere. You find her on her on twitter @hegelincanada, Instagram: @hege.a.j.lepri and on her website: www.hegeajlepri.ca
bottles plastic bags underwear gum wrappers
receipts caps toothbrushes lighters cups
end up in the sea’s vast net of light
waves heaving the weight of
our waste back and forth
back and forth
tumbling shards of beer bottles
into oblong pebbles of sea glass
weaving bloated plastic bags
into nooses for seagulls
breaking bottle caps
into bait for lantern fish
Our sparkling garbage dump
brims with cockles and crap.
our hands throw
the giver of life receives.
"Flotsam" was originally published in Firesmoke, Mawenzi House, 2014
Sheniz Janmohamed (MFA) is a firm believer in fostering community through collaboration, compassion and creativity. In her own practice, she strives to embody words through performance, land art and writing in the ghazal form. A poet, artist educator and land artist.
Sheniz has performed her work in venues across the world, including the Jaipur Literature Festival, Alliance Française de Nairobi and the Aga Khan Museum. Her land art has been featured at the Aga Khan Park, the Indian Summer Festival and the Art Gallery of Mississauga.
Sheniz is also the author of two collections of poetry: Bleeding Light (Mawenzi House, 2010) and Firesmoke (Mawenzi House, 2014).
Sheniz visits dozens of schools and organisations each year to teach, perform, and inspire creativity in her students. In 2015, She was awarded the Lois Birkenshaw-Fleming Creative Teaching Scholarship, and holds a Artist Educator Mentor certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto).
Sheniz is also the founder of Questions for Ancestors, a blog that encourages BIPOC writers and artists across Turtle Island to ask questions of their ancestors as provide advice for their descendants.
Sheniz is currently working on her third collection of ghazals.
An anthology of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
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