Monday, November 26, 2012

Susan Kernohan


And the party debris. Women danced on tip-toe
dressed as disco balls dressed as helium balloons.
Your friends are leaving the continent.
Soft footfalls in the kitchen, up the walls of your heart;
winter sun shallow in a dishwater sky.
On Thursday, a sudden wedding.
What can it mean?
Tomorrow is perpetual, is always eventually a chasm.
Be fresh and huffy, get a haircut, live another year
dutifully trying not to be who you are.
The last person to ever listen to radio news
said to the last person ever to subscribe to a print newspaper,
We cannot concern ourselves with these eventual chasms.
Best to ask for what is small and repeatable, for problems
less than 180 pages long. Goodbye again, including yesterday.

Susan Kernohan works in a library in North York where she runs a writers' group for teens. Her writing has appeared in CV2, grain, The New Quarterly, Taddle Creek, This Magazine, Hardscrabble, and sub-Terrain. Susan lives in Toronto.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Marko Sijan


The infant screams, gets suckled, laughs later
when he sneezes creamed spinach on her face,
before he cries and rubs his bum as a woman
waddles by in the grocer’s aisle: “Mama, she fat!”

The boy wonders what’s eating his mommy but
then he throws up her liver and onions. She spanks him
with a wooden spoon, sprinkles sugar into a bowl
of chopped apples, mangoes, kiwis, peaches and
sends him downstairs where he nibbles first her fruit

followed in youth by new breasts. In the basement he chews
on why his mom hates his girlfriends and doesn’t talk
about her past; why she serves up her cancer and implants
years after the fact. All the meat she pounds and fries

fattens the man who finds out her father fondled her,
until he couldn’t get it up anymore and shot himself.
She thinks her son doesn’t know, while a secret of his own
in which he wishes her dead omits her breasts,
the succulent ones he misses and can’t remember.

Marko Sijan’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction have appeared in journals such as Canadian Notes & Queries, Maisonneuve and This Magazine. He blogs at The Huffington Post and co-edits Encore Literary Magazine. His novel Mongrel, “a stuart ross book” out from Mansfield Press, was named one of the “Best First Books” of 2011 by The Globe and Mail, and long-listed for a ReLit Award in 2012. Marko lives in Montreal.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Caroline Szpak


This is how a lawn runs
from you — it enters
every room at once.
I want to call it
a marionette but it’s cut
short and crowded, lubricated
like anything that involves air
and something heavy.
Tell yourself I never wanted you
with firm light that strikes
your teeth like a tipped glass.
Lost Muppet, I pull
every string, explain it away
— a swimming pool that packs
itself with bodies and asks
if it’s raining — it is, the downpour
can’t come to any other
conclusion. Oh, is that
what it is, does it come
with a name
it can keep
on a conveyor belt,
suffer it neither
here nor there.

Caroline Szpak was born in Istanbul; she’s lived in Poland, Toronto, Victoria, and now calls Toronto home again. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in This Magazine, subTerrain, CV2, The Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and the chapbooks Expense Account and Garland Get Your Gun (both from Horse of Operation).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mark Laba


A sinister warning came,
carried on the wings of
a hesitant budgie.
“Capitalist pig,” it chirped.
“You said it, toots,”
I replied, beating my face like
exfoliated meat on
the typewriter keys.
What was it to be?
A speechless couple ready to punch my ticket?
A photo of Orson Welles in his underpants plucking a chicken?
A cravat with cigar burns, lying on the side of a desert highway?
All I know is that if you weighed my despair
it would be about half a pound of flank steak,
not taking into account its
parasitic twin, Frederick, heir to a hairless mole rat fortune,
all his when he turns eighteen.
Damn him. I wear the galoshes in this body.
There’s murder in the air, as imminent as
the murder of crows darkening my breakfast nook
where I eat Cap’n Crunch and stare down the budgie.
“You should’a been a crow,” I say, between satisfying and crunchy mouthfuls.
“You should’ve been Hans Christian Anderson dying of mushroom poisoning. But instead it’s just you and your carpet sample book that you pleasure yourself with on the shores of Lake Erie and that, buster, is more than anyone needs to see.”
I looked out the window.
The sky was like a giant pinball machine.
I thought, Nobody has any business being here,
especially me,
but then again, if I were a one-armed xylophone player from Baltimore,
well, that would be a whole different story.

Mark Laba is the author of many books and chapbooks of poetry, including Dummy Spit (The Mercury Press, 2002) and Movies in the Insect Temple (Proper Tales Press, 1981). His chapbook The Mack Bolan Poems (Gesture Press, 1986) won the bpNichol Chapbook Award. He is the co-author, with Stuart Ross, of the pork-noir novel The Pig Sleeps (Contra Mundo Books, 1991), and his poems were included in the anthology Surreal Estate: 13 Canadian Poets Under the Influence (The Mercury Press, 2004). You can also read his highly thought-provoking work on Mark lives in Vancouver.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Steve Venright


I once saw the reflection
of a hole. So young was I then,
so resolute in my
doleful glimmering.
The grace of this lifetime
is that I have grown more
frivolous with age, have
seen all my closets repainted
a dozen times or more
by elderly boys and girls
who come unbidden
at any hour of the day,
singly or in pairs (at least once
as a trio), without my consent,
in colours I neither chose
nor knew existed.

I once saw
the reflection of a hole —
though it may have been
the shadow of a coffee spoon,
teased to breaking by
a prankster kettle
whose mirrorous convexity
caught my child-gaze
and met it unfazed,
stretching a world I
barely knew all out
of shape—like a
magician whose only
so-called trick is to
punch you in the face.
And yet, I’m pretty sure
that somewhere
there was a hole.

Steve Venright’s books include Straunge Wunder (Tortoiseshell & Black, 1996), Spiral Agitator (Coach House Books, 2000) and Floors of Enduring Beauty (Mansfield Press, 2007). Through his Torpor Vigil Industries record label, he has released such CDs as The Tubular West by Samuel Andreyev and The Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor: More Outrageous Recordings of the World’s Most Renowned Sleeptalker. Steve was born in Sarnia, Canada in 1961. At 20, he crossed the plains of Southwestern Ontario, and has resided in Toronto ever since. Visit him at and