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          Prize Pumpkin

          George Murray


          Cut away all other
          flowers from the vine,
          let one fruit take on
          mass at the cost of colour,
          shape, taste, and all else
          besides. A slow spill,
          it flattens, whatever
          pretense of pumpkin
          it was begun with
          left behind in favour of size,
          every seed and visceral
          string within held
          back from splitting
          the pale flesh by
          simply adding more skin.
          It waits in its field,
          a shut-in anticipating
          the beep-beep of crane
          reversing in the garden
          with enormous litter
          telescoping through
          the window’s mouth.
          Ambulance straps wrap it,
          cradle it, elevate,
          evacuate, make it public.
          This monumental shapeless
          shape is what the blue
          ribbon citation
          lls pumpkin, and so
          once defined, it is set
          into a flatbed and sent
          to take its place at the fair.











          The Emergent Property

          Jeff Latosik


          Is crooked math that keeps us from a perch;

          juked sum flowing always after tax, surviving all of our efforts

          to reduce it to a cell or set, an integer of what has come…

          Not additive: more like gearwork gone berserk,

          the macroscopic shaking free of recompense,

          anthill of a hurrine of common sense.


          Could it be what the classic films are said to have,

          something in the chemistry, or is it strictly viz.,

          a liner note we n’t yet see?

          Whatever explains the totality of what you are is something

          nobody n own. In Leslieville, a boy lets loose five bullets

          into someone he doesn’t know and then bikes home,


          sleeps in his room, and when asked he won’t say anything.

          His hands are tied in a double bind of plastic

          to perform his one magic trick and disappear.

          Be sure tonight that laws blink on and industries metabolize

          somebody’s share of oil or a forest;

          iron pours out as piano wire on flatbed trucks.


          Under a bridge, a voice pings back against itself

          but look over the guardrail and there’s no one there.

          Something went another way, decided that,

          or went by blind habit, guided by sonar, radar,

          or the thought that that was louder than it should have been,

          it wasn’t me or there is something that wakes me from myself.






          I Will Provide

          Shelagh Rowan-Legg


          I will provide the knife
          if you will set outside the chalice
          and the ciborium

          How much blood, exactly?
          It will coagulate,
          so perhaps an hour at most
          to fill the denter
          if I keep cutting

          Flesh is easier to obtain in excess
          I will cut it away from my breast

          And this will all be blessed?
          And I n pray again?

          Dear god, please bring me
          a pony and a bb gun
          firecrackers for the night sky
          And the alluring unavailable soul











          Reasons For My Success

          Spencer Gordon


          I was not nice. I was not nice?enough. I was not nice enough to the right people. My niceness was too sual; my niceness was designed for acquaintances and so had no lasting impact. I rried out acts of niceness too long ago for people to remember today. I expressed niceness too long ago for those distributing acts of niceness now. I grew weary of niceness in all its forms. I forgot the intention behind my niceness. I was not nice consistently, or deliberately, in public, and so withdrew my general, fit-for-acquaintance-style niceness, a quality ready for all-comers, to a shrinking circle of people I really did re about, for whom I could maintain the energy required of niceness, and for whom my niceness changed character, becoming intimate, or something not quite nice at all. My acts of niceness were spotty, irregular. When I attempted acts of niceness in public I felt strange and inauthentic in growing intensity. My acts of niceness cowed me. I felt hot and ashamed for my expressions of niceness, especially when these expressions were not acknowledged by their recipients. I felt expressing niceness made the objects of my niceness uncomfortable, ocsionally, or made these people for whom I was expressing niceness turn against me and tegorize me as ‘not nice.’ The people for whom I performed niceness were the wrong people, insofar as they are, today, no longer in positions to perform public acts of reciprol niceness; or they are not accustomed to expressing private acts of niceness; or they do not possess long memories; or they feel no need to reciprote niceness, or at least not to me, or to those like me: to people in my prediment. I failed to understand that I was and am not deserving of niceness, per se, or period. I failed to account for all the terrible things I said out loud and in private, usually while intoxited and happy, thinking I was sharing niceness—for the wasted months and years of my life when being nice was of fundamental importance to me. My acts of niceness, not being public or consistent, made others believe I did not wish to receive acts of niceness myself: that I was somehow above or uninterested in public acts of niceness, when in truth I craved them desperately. I was furthermore not nice in sufficient public and private degrees to people who interpreted my niceness to certain distasteful people as problematic. I was nice to people who are today irrelevant to public consideration; I was also nice to people who are not fit recipients for public niceness, for whom extending niceness was an ethil breach, or a sign that my niceness was too fluid or generous, despite my niceness being of a sual, passing nature, as mentioned. I was not nice enough to people who believe niceness must be parceled out judiciously, selectively, to others who, by fact of their relationship or discipline or social standing, are deserving of public or private acts of niceness more than others, regardless of the overall volume of niceness being expressed. I was not nice enough to those who, through some history of being hurt or abused or drained, considered their own niceness a limited resource. I failed to be eligible for niceness from those who feel acts of niceness are made primarily for public consumption, on momentous ocsions, and for a select group only. I was, paradoxilly,?too?nice to make a fuss about those who were?not?nice, specifilly to me, or to others with whom I held acquaintance or even friendship; I failed to reveal my private sense of injustice or hypocrisy, cruelty or betrayal in a public setting, and thus was tegorized as someone who was ‘not nice’ (though less ‘not nice’ than if I had expressed the full storm of my emotional life, as then I would be ‘not nice’ to a much more damaging, severe, irreparable degree). I failed to grasp how others could be nice in public to people they deemed problematic or ‘not nice’ or insufficiently deserving in private, and thus I refrained from expressing niceness to those I was hurt or betrayed by systematilly, to my detriment. I failed to grasp that acts of niceness made in person are of lesser quality or importance to public acts of niceness made from a great distance, and with far less intimacy. My niceness had limitations fit to my disposition and imaginary sense of self-worth. I failed to sustain the energy necessary for daily, weekly, consistent acts of niceness due to my body’s aging, that stated sense of inauthenticity, a general weariness borne out of failed applitions and unnumbered rejections, the demands of dull and pitiless work, and a sense of injustice sprinkled throughout all public gestures. Resigning myself to not being nice, or being deemed ‘not nice,’ or not especially deserving of niceness,?felt nice, bizarrely, but only for a few months, after which I again felt it would be nice to feel included in the worldly, public exchange of niceness, but by then it was too late to re-enter with the same enthusiasm or trust as I felt when younger and less experienced with the vagaries of being nice. To measure my lack of suitability for niceness from others I compiled a voluminous list of every person with whom I’d shared an acquaintance, correspondence, and/or friendship, then wrote 3 to 7 reasons beside each, in sharp bullet points, explaining why each person might not be nice to me, why they would not extend niceness to me, and why I deserved this withholding of niceness. This list included those who were closest to me; those who had extended niceness to me in the past, and why they had stopped doing so; and those who had never expressed niceness to me in the first place, and why that was the se and would continue to be so. The work of this list was decidedly ‘not nice,’ and was intensely private and shameful, loaded with painful revelations and remembrances, though it felt nice in the same way a spanking feels nice, or a ndle-lit confession, or chores or a punishment or a sentence; the way a failing grade feels nice, or a reprimand at work; the way a traffic ticket or a dressing down by a superior feels nice, but it did not stop me from trying to think of newer, nicer things I could do for people to vindite myself in their eyes and be the subject, or object, of nice expressions once again, or ever. Where I was headed with this list was an unliftable feeling of ‘not niceness’ in my chest and a ‘not nice’ urge to sob. This list beme my votion, my sole hobby, which replaced my older hobbies and votional activities that were, to my chagrin, bound up in dense, complex feelings of niceness, equilibrium, fairness, and withheld niceness, and so charged my nights after my ‘not nice’ work was finished with a sense of purpose and clarity, a lack of generalized guilt and a new sterling specificity regarding the shame I felt for myself and my failure to express niceness in adequate degree, quality, and amount. Using my list, and knowing deeply that this was folly, I went on long mpaigns of niceness, whereby: regardless of how it made me feel hollow or aggrieved, confused or impotent, I wrote relentless nice messages to people and performed niceness in public spaces, hoping these unrequested and unmitigated acts would cleanse my spleen and guilt, but they did not, for they burnt up like smoke, so to speak, cycling skyward to form billows that were, rather than recognizable in shape, as if emanating from any conscious mind, instead incomprehensible, chaotic; neither nice nor ‘not nice,’ but merely drifting wisps of vapour, empty of content or memory; clear and lovely as a glass held up to clouds filled with rain.













          AS YOU GO

          Guy Gavriel Kay


          You spent the morning together
          at the kitchen table comparing
          rucksack, backpack, knapsack
          in online dictionaries.

          Displacement activity.
          He was ready for you to run him
          to the airport and away.

          You don’t send a child into the world:
          that presumes too much,
          makes it about yourself.

          He’s doing this. Choosing to travel
          a long way for a long time.
          And yes, you did the same years ago.

          That’s part of the feeling today,
          memories overlapping the moment.
          The way time runs but is always circling.

          His pack weighs less than yours did.
          Back then travel books and a sleeping bag
          and a metal frame…

          and you n still remember
          how your parents looked
          when you said good-bye:

          welcome to that.
          Live on the other side now.
          Images of your own first time
          abroad are shockingly vivid,
          so easily summoned back.

          You know he’s confident
          (don’t be too much so),
          alert, open to experience,
          unafraid to be alone.

          He knows he has limitations
          in what he’s seen and done
          and wants to push those back,
          and you want this for him, fiercely.

          Your heart is wide open
          this morning to the wish
          that good things
          come to him out there:

          people, places, days and nights
          being built towards a life
          to look back upon
          (stay safe).

          But that same heart
          you feel to be opening now
          will miss him the way
          a person misses air

          when they hold their breath,
          watching someone
          crossing a high wire,
          far above the ground.

          Godspeed my child, the world
          is wild and wide, but not
          to be feared beuse of this.
          Know you’re loved. Know it as you go.













          Lauren Turner


          Reapply my lipstick with a prayer to keep me heart shaped.
          ……..My dearly beloved is a red red cherry.

          My cherry never popped. A boy’s hand plucked out its stone
          ……..behind Babylon. I was 19 then grew

          slick with pussy blood, whirling into a knock kneed scramble
          ……..for any taxi’s plush derrière.

          From another’s open mouth, his greedy hand would beckon
          ……..to Mike. My modern day amoureux

          is named Michael. It’s a trash bin coincidence, a lil O-faced gasp
          ……..leaving red on the globular fruit

          I teethe, lovingly. My soft na?ve bits were harvested like organs
          ……..and later went stalked

          by tumors, suiciding what’s left. Still, born love is red and exists
          ……..in menstrual blood, every time

          we seed to create nothing. Sway my blanched hips underneath
          ……..scuzzy satin, I’m effervescent at burst.

          That’s how we know it was special. My red red lipstick takes a gun
          ……..of cigarillo, letting you into the secret

          alley where Mike bleeds me out of me, on repeat, with every man.
          ……..I never could flesh myself anew.












          I Sweep the Steps on Monday

          David O’Meara


          The future is needy.

          All that hope.

          Last week
          it desperately wanted what this week’s
          only background,

          patchy developments yet to come.
          rry me around, I said

          fetal in the duvet.

          Outside, I pause below
          clouds playing shadow-puppets on radar,
          the air dark with radiance
          like the nave in Sainte-Chapelle.


          A short climb to domestic views.
          The sky jams the tree in its scrapbook.
          One branch, like a witch’s finger,
          scrapes the metal siding,

          knotted knuckle keening in wind.
          I push tumbled twigs about,
          the hibernated slurry,
          leaves, dust
          and litter’s dregs, disassembled

          of something whole we used
          up and threw away.

          New stalks breach rolls of soil
          like a burst couch.


          My porch. My staff and straw.
          My six treads down.
          My peninsula amid compost bins,
          sidewalk, chrysanthemum and linden, this
          provisional mount to my works
          and days, each plan
          a false trail
          where I play a poor man’s Hesiod

          left to wait
          in this shoe-gazer’s almanac
          remade by the age
          of Big Oil and plastic.


          Panic seems to live in my ear,
          plus the radio

          and a revving at the stop-signs.

          I shift the piles, spray the lids,
          curse drudgery,

          but out here, free at least
          from click-bait.
          A squirrel’s eye
          radars over movement’s
          could-be predators, if only to outlive
          the imminent, heavy rain.

          The past, with its exhausted magic,
          needs us too.

          All fa?ade, the gutters drip
          and a Google search shows nothing.

          I step toward the porch
          and hold the storm between shattered
          blades of light.
          A predicted front
          will pass this way, still completely startle,

          and this day will have me for its dinner, or let me go.











          Prime Time Horror Story

          Paola Ferrante


          When they report about abandoned r seats used
          to lure female motorists to a lotion next to
          a wooded or grassy field
          I know the way the story’s going like

          little girls will go
          through bloody mary
          in the bathroom
          mirror. Every time she looks
          she sees scratches from

          what the man looking in the window would pull out
          of his pockets, not being sure if he wanted her
          blood all over

          Later on it’s the man upstairs
          where they say a woman’s place is
          in the home lling to say

          have you checked
          the children why haven’t you
          aren’t you
          glad you didn’t turn on
          the light

          from the t.v. See what’s happening in Ameri.
          There’s a man with a hook hand
          ready to tear off her roof
          same shape as a coat hanger
          used down a back alley;

          the man will always say he’s concerned with the state
          of the children. Doesn’t he know she’s heard it
          before, way back from the babysitter around
          a mpfire where little girls are always told
          the killer is right
          inside the house.










          Ecstatic Temporality for Dummies

          Matthew Tierney


          Hat brims, lapel pins, taupe vests.
          The class of portrait photographers
          with vintage meras
          hops around me, my pint, the patio.
          A single robin settles on a point of view.

          Idealists ask grandiose questions.
          Realists spring a pop quiz.
          Like, when stranded on a desert island,
          with what material and how large
          should one spell out HELP?

          Seconds, days, years,
          we feel them pass psychologilly.
          Brain scientists n now use
          reverse psychology
          to transport you to the Roaring Twenties,
          the Left Bank, Boulevard Saint-Germain—

          Probably not your idea of a good time.
          Forget I said anything.

          (One hand encounters the other.)

          A ladybug plays dead on
          the coast of my dampened coaster.
          A plane burbles above my big wobbly head.











          Young Money

          James Lindsay


          We want more brightness than money n imagine.
          — Timothy Donnelly, “Dream of Poetry Defense”

          This poem is an attempt at learning
          how to wear flip-flops with confidence

          around the oddball hub where acceptance
          has begun to slowly settle in. Acceptance

          in the understanding that this is home now
          and will remain home for as long as it takes

          the hazmat team to retard and tame the bed
          head of fibrous crystals, promising ncer,

          lurking in the nooks only contractors know.
          Where privet money and imagination begin

          to dim—childless as this space is—noon
          is when first classes will start settling in.

          Lesson One: exposed toes are much more
          vulnerable to bloody stubs. re for them

          like a litter of hatchlings, otherwise, seeing
          as there are no children here, watch out

          for them with the vigilance of the young
          money, who leave lights on in the hundred

          rooms of this mega-mansion, ignoring
          hydro bills higher than devout iowaska

          decibels or burnouts hidden in the shadows
          of dark parks, who’ve saved their allowance

          to seek a new sound source, a heavy twang
          with a tendril on the dimmer switch, an eye

          out for subtle changes in the light, the same
          old disagreement between dawn and dusk.