July 11, 2019

As soon as I saw you, I knew we had known each other for ten thousand years. I quickly scribbled down Greek letters, Arabic numerals, and Latin presuppositions, and calculated that we had lived 167 lives together, some of them minutes long, others a lifetime. As I spend time with you more and more flash into my mind in no order – I have begun writing them down in hopes it will tell me more about the 168th life I am in now, to make this the longest and sweetest of them all.

7. Collecting amber on Koenigsberg shores, my bones begged me to get out of that icy water, and my eyes cheated me. You caught me before my head fell under and told me to sleep; when I woke up I was in a warmer place with your hands in my hair. The amber bought us the time and the carriages we’d need to leave that sea behind and find warmer shores.

19. On a local train cutting through rock and rivers, we sat across to each other as strangers and barely said a word. On the layover in Naples I saw you sitting at my favourite spot on the pier and sat next to you, and we spoke about the varieties of exile. You told me you were getting off at Florence; I threw my transfer pass to Bolzano out of the train window that night.

25. Every day at 4 in the afternoon, you would buy four lemons at the fruit stand I ran since my father died. For the first time in that life I suddenly thought of running a fruit stand as a great career choice and wondered how long it would take to build a lemonade stand, and how to ask you if you’d like to run it next to mine.

34. I ran out of the bar at the same time you ran out of the cafe. Even through the rain, we both knew what had happened to the other. I ran across the traffic and down to you in a coat that nearly swallowed me up to tell you my name, but just ended up saying “I want to tell you everything”. You told me I could, and we walked through the rain and the snow to your favourite bookstore.

51. We both ran out of money and decided to work in the alps over the winter as funicular operators. You ran the car opposite to mine and I could only steal your glance for seconds every half-hour. Stuck on that miserable mountain during snowstorms, we planned and planned and decided to jam the cars parallel to one another to hold hands across the drop.

91. Resting under shade from walnut trees, we compared notes from the workshop on caring for small-scale farms; it took only 10 minutes before you fell asleep on my shoulder. I did not want to wake you after the long day, so I spent my time counting birds until the sky turned purple and carried you home, thinking about tomorrow and about the ladders we’d have to build.

118. Labouring under the weight of heavy shadows and gnarled roots, we started our days with black tea, and heard the artillery batteries’ din echo in the valley. A small radio told us where the front was, and every inch it staggered away from us, the weight lifted and we could breathe again. You wondered if anyone would be back to work on the farms that had been left behind.


Jon Babi is happy to see you again.

July 20, 2019

they entombed god in paper,
in the books of men who hated the world,
hated the dripping honey of the thigh and
all shapeless things and who,
in exhaustion,
netted it all in excessive reason.

man stood before man,
divided by a
screen
of
words
like frosted glass.

the pedants saw this and adored it,
and so they continued to assault the world
with their words,
mummifying it
until words were all that were left,
pallid and inadequate,
an empty blossom of paper,
beneath which persists
mute breath
and drinks
and smoke
that shreds this ever-regenerating origami, laughing in the tatters.


Adam Zivo is a conglomerate of anxiety and faux self-abandonment.

July 23, 2019

This is the ballad of a broken heart. 

Your voice is frozen in time and you’ve been singing the wrong note for a dozen years. 

Where does the anxiety of losing what you can never have come from? You think you have fallen. But you cannot tell if your heart is really singing, or just drowning in nostalgia. 

You can’t control the shape in which the objects of the moments imprinted upon your unconscious are distilled.

***

His mouth. You think of earlier, when you were sitting across one another in the sushi restaurant he’s obsessed with. You wonder if he’ll ever get sick of it. He takes your hand in his on noticing the hard mounds of flesh on your ring and middle finger. Callouses. The time sways slowly. What was it again that Leonard said? There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. Of course you don’t think he’s perfectly pure. Nothing is. Nothing is exactly anything. But can’t we pretend? He tells you to dismantle the binaries; pure-impure, perfect-imperfect, virtuous-wicked. You feel something inside of you shudder. That old familiar feeling of being told how to be because what you are isn’t good enough. You feel like shattering the glass in your hand on the floor, taking one of the shards and drawing blood to show him right then and there that you have a heart and it’s already breaking. 

***

Now when you walk up the street in the direction of home you smell smoke from the wood burning oven at La Palma. The smoke embalms the street with a scent that brings to mind a place quite unlike it, with the limbs of its trees decapitated, grappling for something its crooked arms cannot contract around. Your mind wanders. The smoke continues to burn, unable to be seen. You feel a spasm in your left shoulder and think about the woman that was on your bus earlier, how she started talking to herself and shrugging her shoulder up to her ear over and over.

***

Did you know that our planet is one of billions within the galaxy? Did you know that our solar system is part of an even greater system, located in a very particular point of the Milky Way, so that life on Earth subsists as this amalgamation of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and whatever else? Did you know that right now we’re floating in space amongst so many other round balls of rock and gas and slush, but it doesn’t seem that way because of how thick the atmosphere is, and because at the core of the Earth is a special substance which protects it from solar showers and dangerous pellets of fire. When you look up at the sky you are only seeing fragments of something that will never cease to expand.

***

We all want to come undone at some point, but only when we’re good and ready. Sometimes a lifetime isn’t long enough. Sometimes we grow impatient. You have been so recklessly impatient. Where might you be otherwise?

***

On the precipice of a memory somewhere is a dimension that is neither here nor there, neither then nor now. No man’s land. And what belongs in this patch of timelessness? Discarded thoughts. Moments where you know the what but not the when. Brown eyes. Clouds shaped like frogs. Green lilac parks. A bunch of parts with nothing to belong to because you forgot. 


Juliann Garisto studies English at the University of Toronto; she is currently reading collections of poetry by Jim Morrison and memorizing the international phonetic alphabet.


July 31, 2019

The Sophomore Philosophy Club

 

It was supposed to be role-play night for the Sophomore Philosophy Club, but it went south very quickly. Schopenhauer had gotten the whole thing off to a bad start by asking Heidegger for twenty dollars, which Heidegger obliged because it suited his theory of linguistic interrogation, thinking that, at last, the old question of Schopenhauer’s coin on the tavern table would be put to rest because he’d have to pay up. But Schopenhauer shoved the bill in his mouth, and Hume argued that Schopenhauer didn’t know where the bill had been, or who had handled it, and the whole business was uncertain, if not questionable ad extremis. Besides, shoving money in one’s mouth was disgusting.

Spinoza who had been watching everything through a large magnifying glass he’d brought with him as a useless prop for the evening said: “Well, that’s the last you’re going to see of that twenty.” 

And then turned to Schopenhauer and said: “You’re an idiot, you should have asked for a brownie or a sunburn,” meaning, according to Berkeley who hastened to explain that a sunburn was a fifty and a brownie was a hundred, that all the money in the world was actually inside him and he just had to find it for himself. 

But Heidegger didn’t get the connection between the slang term for large denomination Canadian bills and thought that Spinoza was telling him to eat shit, and that’s when the fight began.

Heidegger lunged at Hume, but Hume stepped out of the way because he understood the fundamentals of human nature and saw the anger coming, but in doing so tripped over Plato and spilled Nietzsche’s beer. Nietzsche, Hume was certain, threw the first punch, but it was Russell who took it on the chin as Plato tried to dodge the fray and fell backwards into Anselm. Anselm knew there might be trouble as he’d had an a priori premonition that philosophy could get out of hand, even at the undergraduate level, and pulled a hammer out of his backpack, screamed “God!” at the top of his lungs, whirled around, and caught Nietzsche in the side of the head which made him cross-eyed for a second, just like the real Nietzsche who appears on page 365 in Understanding Philosophy by Hunter and Hoote. At this point, Nietzsche, covered in blood and beer, staggered forward with his fists flailing and took out Plato who fell squarely into Socrates who was sitting there asking: “What the fuck’s going on?”

The two Greeks fell to the floor – Aristotle had known enough to retreat to a safe corner in the room where he could get a better definition of what was happening. Socrates fell on Nietzsche’s glass and opened up a huge wound in his hand. He stood up, looking at the blood, and said: “Why am I bleeding?” Hume and I (I’m Leibniz) looked at him and said: “Know thyself.” To which Hume added: “The unexamined hand is not worth shaking.” And we decided to get the hell out of there. Nietzsche was heard hollering at Aristotle: “I’m going to make a tragedy out of you,” as we headed down the hall on our get-away.

A little guy, who was supposed to be Machiavelli but who was late for the real-politick of the evening, met us on the stairs. He was lugging a two-four, and I said: “This is the best of all possible worlds.” And Hume said: “That’s cheating, you’re parodying yourself.” 

And I said: “Well, hell, why not? There’s more beer there than we can put back in an hour.” So the three of us headed off to the park down the street from the dorm.

Machiavelli, Hume and I were joined under a large maple tree by Aquinas who had gotten out via the fire escape. “You know,” Thom said philosophically, “I can’t make any order out of what’s going on in there.”

Hume took a long chug of beer. “It is human nature,” he said. “Just human nature.”

“No, I beg to differ. I think it is perfect. It is the expression of the monads that govern the universe, the beauty that makes each leaf on every tree a work of mathematical perfection. Beer is also mathematical perfection.” We clinked our bottles.

We sat for the next several hours beneath that maple tree. A soft breeze was blowing under the leaves and rustling them in the night. The campus police were busy breaking up the Sophomore Philosophy Club in the dorm … the entire fourth floor had become engaged, engineers battling with psychologists, battling with historians, and so on.

After a long silence, Thom said with a sigh: “You know, that’s what’s fucked up the Western mind. There’s no fucking arguing with the world but that’s what all this philosophy bullshit is about. I’m switching my major next term to literature. At least by the time I get to the last page of a novel I’ll know how it ends, and there’s always that blank page after the final one. That scares the shit out of me, but it makes a pretty profound statement. I always draw a sunset on it, and a cowboy with his back to me, just to ease my anxieties.”

And as he said that, I pictured cowboys riding off into the postcard perfect sunset with silhouettes of mesas rising around them in the afterglow like the last scene in the Magnificent Seven, and considered how we might have saved the village if we’d given it some thought.

 



It’s a Girl!

 

Charles and Charlotte Morgan are delighted to announce the birth of their daughter, Megan Antonia Esther, at St. Mary’s Health Centre, the first grandchild for Cynthia Morgan and the late Cecil Morgan, and Esther and Tony Bassingthwaite. Megan will attend Anderson Street Public School until a gun incident in her fifth-grade year after which she will transfer to Saint Ursula’s Girl’s Academy where she will participate in drama and choir while attempting to complete her pre-secondary schooling under the supervision of Principal George Masters who will be charged with molesting Megan’s best friend, Wendy Chisholm. Megan will apply for numerous colleges but will only be accepted into Rockford College because a bout of depression, possibly caused by her educational experiences, will leave her with low grades that will not permit her to enter a better post-secondary university. At Rockford College, Megan will study anthropology, but will fall from a second-story window during a dorm party. Charles and Charlotte Morgan will announce further arrangements and details as they become available after a family-members-only service and ask that their privacy be respected during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St. Mary’s Health Centre Post-Natal Care Unit.


Bruce Meyer is author of 63 books of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, and literary journalism.