Category Archives: Poetry

A Gathering of Leaves

By Jessica Lee McMillian

On a shelf of volumes bound to me, binding,
I extend the vertebrae, the body, a gathering
of sewn leaves, limbs of multiple endings,
luminous spines in column palette
 — stacked either way, verticals to heaven — 
tattooed with lofty cursive,
worlds folded under covers
ready for open palms

Under my jacket, I spill anatomy,
my vellum skin, organ of written word
and backbone stacked in raised bands, up
to my ink-cartridge head,
tongue inscribes paper scars

On porous pulp, under nose musk vanilla scent,
under fingertip, text densifies, nerve ends
to cellulose walls — acid-pregnant
and fading bones on shelf, hinges split
under inherent constituents — 
tactile script imprints fingers
in archeology of touch

In fullness and fall of leaves
we harbour the word
in the cycle of autumns
in demise and rebirth of book,
the body ever writes, is written


Jessica Lee McMillan is an emerging BC poet with an MA in English. She likes crooked, shiny things, and her writing explores architectures of perception, existentialism and longing in nature and music. You can find her work in A Poetry of Place: Journeys Across New Westminster, ShabdAaweg Review, RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Bewildering Stories and Pocket Lint. When not writing, doing front-line legal work or teaching, she spends time with her little family and buries herself in books and records. She writes from a charming, gritty, historical river city in British Columbia.

Ephemeral Gold

By Jessica Lee McMillian

November in ephemeral gold
pauses, scales tipping
to shine’s burial

sun drop apparatus,
draws last breath of dream
before spilling rain,

before architecture of dark
makes widow of colour
this tilt of brazen tone,
of diffused focus
is richest in mind,

fully in the eye
but dies in the heart sweetly


Jessica Lee McMillan is an emerging BC poet with an MA in English. She likes crooked, shiny things, and her writing explores architectures of perception, existentialism and longing in nature and music. You can find her work in A Poetry of Place: Journeys Across New Westminster, ShabdAaweg Review, RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Bewildering Stories and Pocket Lint. When not writing, doing front-line legal work or teaching, she spends time with her little family and buries herself in books and records. She writes from a charming, gritty, historical river city in British Columbia.

The Anatomy of a Funeral

By Jessica Lee McMillian

Standard-issue funeral option
tombstones are concrete slabs
like ashes in a cardboard box,
aggregate mixtures of concrete sprawl,
a parade through life and death 
we can’t commemorate.

The horizontal sidewalk ribs
set the tone for every street,
like every memorial,
each fine, horizontal line
strains eye to expansion joints
dutifully stepped over, 
lest a spine you break
the spaces you went rogue–
that which is left out of the eulogy–

courteous platitudes,
and no reminders
of an untimely end,
in lieu of dead flowers,
paths are trawled clean
to keep appearances neat.

Slipped into the gutter lip
down the steel grate
 — the surfaces of psyche — 
resist the wood forms we fill,
the coercion rebar hiding the quakes,

the defiance of footprints
cast in wet, unfinished selves
begging for grass,
begging for a roast, not a speech.


Jessica Lee McMillan is an emerging BC poet with an MA in English. She likes crooked, shiny things, and her writing explores architectures of perception, existentialism and longing in nature and music. You can find her work in A Poetry of Place: Journeys Across New Westminster, ShabdAaweg Review, RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Bewildering Stories and Pocket Lint. When not writing, doing front-line legal work or teaching, she spends time with her little family and buries herself in books and records. She writes from a charming, gritty, historical river city in British Columbia.

Reading Gutters for Grass

By Jessica Lee McMillian

The sky is brittle paper 
on a salt-rimmed horizon,
a smog bath ring
blushing unwashed skin
of alleys,

bruised mint not cutting
garbage juice breeze
or piss in the park

but my eyes are scanning
for more than just survival,
reading the gutters for grass

brushing off grey plastic
as musty cracks in concrete
feed the earth more moss
with scraps for sight

and scent nebulized sweet 
in river algae, a trade-wind 
sucking away city char 
and exhaling perfume 
from the toasting bones
of wooden beams

in weary-of-century-homes
— front doors agape — 
dressed in a décollage
of dust matte paint 

where this baked street 
has green shade 
under its sharp tannin maple
sugaring the signs of triumph 
in such muddle


Jessica Lee McMillan is an emerging BC poet with an MA in English. She likes crooked, shiny things, and her writing explores architectures of perception, existentialism and longing in nature and music. You can find her work in A Poetry of Place: Journeys Across New Westminster, ShabdAaweg Review, RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Bewildering Stories and Pocket Lint. When not writing, doing front-line legal work or teaching, she spends time with her little family and buries herself in books and records. She writes from a charming, gritty, historical river city in British Columbia.

SHANNON

By Lin Elizabeth

‘i think my mother may be a trigger in my drinking.’ 

‘i think that’s a good observation, why do you think that’

Remember when I sat crying on the hallway floor because when I was 18, you left me, 3 doors down from a man who stole the woman i could’ve been away from me at eleven on a bright sunday? Mark was there, Must’ve been sunday You left again the day after I told you, you love me? Do people leave the ones they love this much? Is it always like this? Is that normal? Do people just go? Did I do that? Will I do that? How do I stop? 

I stopped Drinking & Killing myself

remember when I told you I was a month sober and you still made it about you. 

Sometimes I tell you I love you just to reassure myself, it’s all one sided in a way. True masochism. 

 Ry said it best. You just wanna hurt. You’re good at it. His fingers in my mouth and my mind worried about car oil on his fingers. late night phone calls. neediness. lust. Skipping classes for sex in his truck on cold mornings, where i could escape. I remember hands the best and I think that will never go away. 

Sex is the best drug, I swear. I haven’t even tried any really, but I don’t want to.  

The hell I bring with me is undeserved.

 My grandma keeps asking who I’d marry out of all the men I’ve seen. I tell her myself everytime now. It was him for the longest time, until I started going to AA and getting sober, no hesitation.

Me coming home from the work at the casino at 10 am, his lunch break at work at 10:30, me waiting on classes at noon, editing 10 page essays i wrote half-asleep the evening before, quick sex in our small aparment bathroom while he was supposed to be having lunch. it was usually me instead. 

Now I choose  me. The prize rabbit at the fair. pretty and not to be touched. never again

You never used to be so angry, you were always such a  good, quiet girl, what happened? So innocent, modest, not as much of a bite back.  Drugs change people. Trauma changes people— I just hate how I’m  remembering everything i spent so many years of my life ruining my body and relationships to forget that existed. 


Lin Elizabeth is a 25-year-old writing degree dropout. She’s hidden in the deep sinewy belly’s Arkansas’ River Valley. Writing about sexuality, sex work, trauma, addiction, and sobriety. Her poems have appeared in Applause Magazine, Hypertrophic Press, Sinkhole Quartley, the forthcoming Second-Chance press, and the Idle Class Magazine.

THE DAWN AT NIGHT

By Bruce Crown

Have you stumbled and wandered the streets,
Searching for beauty and splendour like this?
Every evening, she sleeps tucked in your sheets,
Every morning, she wakes you with a burning kiss.
But everyone knows nothing in this world is eternal;
Watch the sunrise from the roof; and become the sky,
She’ll always greet the day to the forever nocturnal,
Her touch is a dream, you might as well jump and fly.

Oh, how that hair is caught in the morning breeze,
The goddess of the dawn who departs silently
And with a quick glance does our souls freeze;
Reaching out, touching, she takes our hearts.
All night we yearned for her coming pleasure:
The light of sex, sparkling sweat, bodies shining
Beyond any earthly desire or divine measure,
Becoming the night, looking at the stars, pining. 
An apparition, a love which always has a cost…
Your dreams are only dreams, awake tired
When the sun arrives, your heart now lost,
With no care to what you last night desired.

Have you stumbled and wandered the streets
Searching for beauty and splendour like this?
Every evening, she sleeps tucked in your sheets,
Every morning, she wakes you with a burning kiss.
But everyone knows nothing in this world is eternal;
The sunlight always surprises, becoming the sky,
She elegantly rises and lovers are cast to the infernal,
How harsh these prizes, if for love you wake and try.

You are special, to have the pleasure of her presence
Even though she may tire of those hearts and desires,
To chase away those bright moments of pleasance
And sleep in her arms made of ice and purging fires.
Will she return with the moonlight as the light fades?
You can’t compete with the sun in this daily hell,
Wandering those avenues waiting for those shades,
So many people around you but not a soul to tell. 

Have you stumbled and wandered the streets
Searching for beauty and splendour like this?
Every evening, she sleeps tucked in your sheets,
Every morning, she wakes you with a burning kiss.
Only the sun has the pleasure of her daily company,
Your dreams are made of glass, broken by her gaze
When night comes to pass; those moans a symphony
Of ecstasy that fades like the ashes of a dream ablaze.

You’re on the streets, cold in the drunken night,
Searching, bewildered, but Aurora’s gaze is gone,
Until her indelible fingers wake you at first light 
And that burning kiss leaves your heart undone.
Every morn and night, she smiles until she departs
To brighten other souls for the long coming day,
But yours, she happily adds to her collection of hearts
And with a smile, condemns you to your merry way.


Bruce Crown is from Toronto. He is an alumnus of the University of Toronto and the University of Copenhagen. He splits his time between Copenhagen, the Riviera, and Toronto. Find him on Twitter: @brucecrown, Instagram: @wittyoutlaw, and on his website brucecrown.ca.

DREAMS THAT FLY

By Bruce Crown

I woke with the dawn
Shining on my face,
Away from you
My love. 

I went to the bakery
And I bought bread
For you
My love.

But you’d already left. 

I went to a florist
And I bought flowers
For you
My love. 

But love was already blossomed in you.

I went to hell
To bring fire
For you 
My love.

But you were already ablaze.

I went to a jeweller
And I bought a diamond
For you
My love.

But you stole its sparkle.

I went to the sky
To bring you the sun
But I found you there,
My love.

And you were already alight.

I had a dream
Of heavenly paradise,
You were there,
My love. 

And you told me to leave without you.


Bruce Crown is from Toronto. He is an alumnus of the University of Toronto and the University of Copenhagen. He splits his time between Copenhagen, the Riviera, and Toronto. Find him on Twitter: @brucecrown, Instagram: @wittyoutlaw, and on his website brucecrown.ca.

Climbing

By Jonathan Koven

On the crags
of cinnabar skeleton,
rocks destined for the end,
sky-plaque pearls over 
my palms, and I wish,
I wish it all to stay.

The world, the green world is
aging but seems
perfect watching
the partridge dance, wings striping
as grace notes
before red blizzard.

Cool, clouds
cut over
shoulders;
body as stanza,
and the mountain
a page turning fast,
too fast.

Shut my eyes to
watch my beating,
beating heart,
like blush in shadow, loaning,
in moments knowing
a value undefinable.

Spirits flock and
depart, wholeness and
separation; perhaps, perhaps
I flit as fledgling,
part of yesterday, already
waning—a waned dream.

Leap, leap angelic
sky borne back to
trillion-trillion currents,
and here I imagine
a summit grows higher,
the direction we all flow.


Jonathan Koven grew up on Long Island, NY, embraced by tree-speak, tide’s rush, and the love and support of his family. He holds a BA in Literature, and Creative Writing from American University, works as a technical writer and is Toho Journal’s head fiction editor and workshop coordinator. He lives in Philadelphia with his best friend and future wife Delana and cats Peanut Butter and Keebler. Credits include Lindenwood Review, Night Picnic, Iris Literary, and more. His debut chapbook Palm Lines is available from Toho Publishing. His award-winning novella Below Torrential Hill is expected winter 2021 from Electric Eclectic.

Before It Passed

By Jonathan Koven

swallow these pains

unconscious

beautiful

creation . . .

brain to foam

obsidian listener

the sob resets

dew reflow

petaled conjoining

sap red
sap red
sap red!

vapid groan!

stupid sun spiral!

blading quick

before calamity

leak red

as grief rouses

palest filter . . .

core fantastic

scarlet

out

the heart riverbed

before no color remains


Jonathan Koven grew up on Long Island, NY, embraced by tree-speak, tide’s rush, and the love and support of his family. He holds a BA in Literature, and Creative Writing from American University, works as a technical writer and is Toho Journal’s head fiction editor and workshop coordinator. He lives in Philadelphia with his best friend and future wife Delana and cats Peanut Butter and Keebler. Credits include Lindenwood Review, Night Picnic, Iris Literary, and more. His debut chapbook Palm Lines is available from Toho Publishing. His award-winning novella Below Torrential Hill is expected winter 2021 from Electric Eclectic.

To Bring a Pulse

By Jonathan Koven

A moment might be parched until
you dive entirely into Love, childlike.

Its blue shuts, like sky
to baby bird, blue.

Framing its little form with it,
flooded by chance of a fall.

Love, sky fondly stilling
baby bird to kingdom.

Kindly doused in drink,
every remnant yet to live.

Alive within horizon song,
the rest, chatter by the sun.

Silent thrust,
reverberant,

softened beak with Love, wings raised
on wind’s cradle, rinsed without ransom,

adrift over
the dream.


Jonathan Koven grew up on Long Island, NY, embraced by tree-speak, tide’s rush, and the love and support of his family. He holds a BA in Literature, and Creative Writing from American University, works as a technical writer and is Toho Journal’s head fiction editor and workshop coordinator. He lives in Philadelphia with his best friend and future wife Delana and cats Peanut Butter and Keebler. Credits include Lindenwood Review, Night Picnic, Iris Literary, and more. His debut chapbook Palm Lines is available from Toho Publishing. His award-winning novella Below Torrential Hill is expected winter 2021 from Electric Eclectic.