Poems by Felicia Zuniga


It is February and I have been pregnant forever


Winter bears down but the baby stays put, he hangs on tight as a migraine
No plans to roam outside in this cold, he holes up in his pot of fluid
I incubate us inside the house, as the blizzard breaks records and entombs everything
Outside the window, I watch the storm’s outbursts, while you stay undercover

He is our first; suspicious of us and this snow globe we live in
He monitors weather warnings, scowling as they say more flakes will fall
When I decide to step outside, he squeezes his eyes shut against the burn of white
Perhaps he wanted to be greeted by heat and honeysuckles instead

I coerce him into a walk and ask, “Do you feel the quiet?” Can you smell the sparkle?
Outside, all is barren. Inside, I am filled to the brim with him
We stumble through snow humps as my bones become numb
He tunnels deep inside, swearing not to surface till spring

I coax him with six sticky sweet Medjool dates daily, hunks of plump pineapple
Where I eat everything including the core, washed down with red raspberry leaf tea
I try to convince him we feast on tropical fruit, surrounded by starfish and seashells
He retaliates by propelling his feet so deep in my belly, I spew expensive snacks

At night, I stuff myself into a pillow fort, wrenched up on my left, while my hips spasm
I cloak him in creamy wool blankets and he plays, satisfied with the sweaty dark
He starts his nightly swim, sometimes he’s too worked up and his hiccups begin
My belly bobbing with each burst from his lungs until dawn

Every morning I rise hopeful, wondering if today he will emerge
Focusing on my feet as I navigate ice sheets on the way to doctor appointments
They poke and knock at your door but you keep it shut, ignoring all visitors
We hear the solid thwomp of your heart and know you must be stowed away

It is February and I have been pregnant forever





No one will tell me how many stitches
Are binding my insides together
A running stitch, internal and external
Embroidered inside me where I was once whole
Now I’m spun with black thread
Hostile knots knitted to hidden flesh


They say it takes a village, to raise a child
For us, having a child, raised a village
An underground labyrinth teeming with cinnamon scones and witch hazel
Gift baskets branch out on our kitchen table
Packages and people surround us, propping us up with walls of support
So we don’t collapse under the weight of this new life


We’ve moved inside, the exterior world no longer concerns us
Only the life we created inside the four walls of our home
The rooms where we now sleep, eat and sway with him
He is the sun we rise to and the moon we rest under
The basement bedroom has become our vacation hotspot
My husband and I take turns kissing goodbye
Before floating down the dark flight of stairs to dissolve


In baby class, we go round the circle
Exchanging nap tips and apps like scraps of gold
How to make them sleep is the Holy Grail
We all have black eyes and snag only broken minutes of shut-eye per day
Everyone is pleased to hear they’re not alone; we suffer together
Taking turns tucking babies into wraps and comparing peak crying times


He is at the breast again, his favourite position
The books say that mothers should be comfortable, but I never am
Back hunched over in pain as I rush to respond
I fold into the letter C and cater my body to all his commands
He latches and slurps like a king
When I try and move, he hisses
When I try and switch sides, he clamps down harder
Choosing to empty one breast, leaving the other full and leaking
I beg him to stay asleep each time I set him down, but he eats every hour
All the minutes of the night become known to me


I see his face everywhere, in unwashed piles of laundry
In the folds of the blankets, in all the shapes of darkness
I wake with a start, panicked, even though he lies in the bassinet beside me
My nipples feel like they are being sucked by a phantom infant
And he’s even followed me into my dreams; I will never be alone again


I don’t recognize my body; I am one of the giant mother pigs
Spread out on display at the Calgary Stampede every summer
Piglets attached to each teat, swigging milk as everyone stares
My hair is unwashed and falling out of its bun
There’s jam on my arm and crumbs stuck to me from when I shoved bread into my mouth
My stomach is soft and thick and puffs straight out
The rest of me is swollen, hobbling around the house
I’m scared to cough or sneeze in case it disrupts the stitches


My skin smells like spit-up, sweat and breast milk
When I feel damp, I don’t know which of the three liquids stains me
If I dare sleep more than three hours, the stinging of my nipples wakes me
Mother Nature warning me I am no longer here to sleep
I am here to serve.





I have lived many lives

A child with knotted stuffed animals
and missing eyes
books and games dented
with bite marks

A schoolgirl with broken hopscotch handles
and purple juice stained notebooks
valentine cards with the slanted scrawl
of long forgotten best friends

A teenager with pages and pages
of diary punctuated with the initials of her great loves
notes from boys revealing all the secret
things they want to do alone together
notes from girls discussing how to do
all the secret things the boys said
they wanted to do

A university student with sloppy essays
slashed with the red marks of professors
eager textbooks bright with desperate
highlighting and mounds of notes reciting
words and meanings you can no longer remember

Old yearbooks, our faces trapped in time
for one perfect instance of youth
and crushing vulnerability
all thrown out in the rush of moving

Long empty bottles of perfume
that still smell like careless high school summers
cheap jewellery from the boy you swore
you’d never leave
swirled together in the vortex of
black garbage bags

I have lived many lives
and I will live many more


FELICIA ZUNIGA‘s poetry has been published in Contemporary Verse 2 – The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, The Antigonish Review and Freefall Magazine. She has written articles for a variety of magazines and newspapers. She has a Master of Journalism degree from Carleton University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in HonoursEnglish, with a Creative Writing Concentration, from the University of Calgary. She lives, works and writes in Calgary. Her published work can be viewed on her website at: http://www.feliciazuniga.com.

Copyright © 2019 by Felicia Zuniga. All rights reserved.

Poems by Daniel Galef


Soliloquy for an Imaginary Tragedy

We’re cast on a lightless, heartless world like dice
thrown by a subtle god. Where once we land:
a gaping gulph, by ruby river spanned,
too swift to ford, too deep ever to ice.

This crystal rill like boundless fire flows
between a world of forms and one of forces,
a hidden cave the crack from which it courses,
the sea to which it drains, no pilgrim knows.

Once waded, it can never again be crossed.
No memory survives it; from out a borne
of placeless, timeless void, we meet the morn
with unseen eyes. The past, like dew, is lost.

Return, and stand at banks of fire gazing:
innumerable fire, the world’s heart blazing.



The Ghost of Antigonish, Nova Scotia to William Mearns

(spoken by the subject of the poem “The Little Man Who Wasn’t There”)

Why think you that I linger on the stair
Advancing on it neither up nor down?
I’m hardly powerless; a hearty scare
Has given me (and this house) wide renown.
And yet I still stand stock-still on the stair
(I easily could upgrade, haunt some manse
With all my fame accrued) and chill the air,
Motionless on my inclined expanse.
Forevermore I’ll wait upon this stair
For you get my state through your thick head:
To ascend (or descend—whichever fate is fair)
Is not the lot of all the restless dead.
“Why are you here? And how?” I wish you’d say,
Instead of “How I wish you’d go away!”


DANIEL GALEF‘s poetry has been published in Measure, the Potcake Chapbooks, and the Scrivener Creative Review. He graduated in 2018 from McGill University, where he was editor-in-chief of the Plumber’s Faucet humor magazine and won the 2016 McGill Drama Festival for his musical play The Stars.

Copyright © 2019 by Daniel Galef. All rights reserved.


‘The Town that Weeps of Winter’ by Mercedes Bacon-Traplin


In a silent town that weeps of winter
I sit and drink tea that burns my throat
I reminisce on the life I’ve been given
And remember the nicotine scented January air
Or the burn of the smoke from a passed joint
Or the touch of lips against mine
And tears stinging the corner of my eyes

My life is made up of fragmented January
In a town that weeps of winter
Cold that creeps into your bones
And ages a young face
Sometimes I feel beyond my years
As I drink my tea through burning tears
Or watch another January pass
In the town that weeps of winter

This town that whispers of stories untold
And freezes alongside its icy river
Sometimes I feel I live in those waters
Somewhere deep and dark where light doesn’t exist
And Ice grows around me as I make my nest
Alongside the gold that this town was built on

This town where summer comes only once in awhile
And my memories are cemented in the snow
Where my wardrobe is made of sweaters
And I cocoon myself in burning showers
Yet nothing seems to keep out the cold
So I sit by the window and watch the snow
In the town that weeps of winter

I remember my freezing fingers
clasping a bottle of a liquid that warmed my chest
And passing it to the next
I remember kissing her outside the theatre
Our breath visible in the winter air
I remember laying in the snow and crying
Melting away with my tears
And this winter town wept with me
With its winter tears

As I stare at the bottom of my empty mug
And contemplate getting another
I watch the sun set in the early afternoon
As the cold fuelled fog creeps in on the banks
And the low hanging air threatens to suffocate
I watch another January pass oh so slowly
In the town that weeps of winter


MERCEDES BACON-TRAPLIN is a young student from the small town of Whitehorse, Yukon. She has been writing for more than half of her life and considers poetry her calling. She is an active member of the LGBTQ+ community and believes it to be an important inspiration for her writing. She is passionate about broadening her horizons and incorporating her experiences into her writing.

Copyright © 2019 by Mercedes Bacon-Traplin. All rights reserved.


Poems by Nofel


I Look Out the Window at the Snowfall

and I remember you. I know it never snowed when we were
together, and, no, the white snow does not remind me of your
white skin, but I still cannot forget when, on Anderson Hill,
I sobbed on your chest, for a good hour or longer, in front of
your remorseful tears, enkindled by your racism, even though
I now know a three-month romance cannot erase your forty
years of white ignorance, even though I now know you were not
necessarily a racist. I look back now as the bus
moves through Gatineau and crosses to the Ottawa side, and
as you fly from Victoria accompanied by a man
with whom you have fallen out of love—I realize racism
will becloud my relationships with men, white or not, and please
do not say sorry, partly because I hate that word, partly
because I am not angry at you. Do you still remember
the poetry I read you? Are you still in love with me? I
do mean it when I tell you that you are my Qur’anic angel
perching, there, at McNeil beach, your head not on my shoulder; alone
you reminisce about our kisses in the morning, my love
for coffee, your love for coffee shops, and our juvenile sex.
I still die at the movement of your beautiful lips when you
indulge in deep thinking, as though you are printing a kiss on
a beloved’s face. I find it odd that no man before me
had been enamoured of your ethereal hand gestures or
effeminate voice. Your love and benevolence I treasure
through my insomniac nights. I am almost certain I do
not want to date you,and, yes, I think I am in love with you.




I like men in whose faces
I behold myself

and poems
in which I find no one

I neither carry my religion
around my neck

nor angels on my shoulders

I want to

and I remember the ageless child
from whom I freed myself


NOFEL is an Arabo-Anglophone Canadian poet. His poetry has appeared in Snapdragon Journal, the Packingtown Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Bywords.ca

Copyright © 2019 by Nofel. All rights reserved.


‘Place Hopping’ by Carolyne Van Der Meer


The Organ Player, St. Joseph’s Oratory

Lucinda is in love
Every Sunday she goes to the free afternoon concert
to see his oversized image
on the big screen in the basilica

She sits in the pew
her eyes locked on the alternating images
his hands, the back of his head
his profile, his feet

His hair, like a lion’s mane, black unruly
the Roman profile, the lips that purse at every crescendo
his hands, red and inelegant
that become the wands of inexplicable magic

as they race across the keys
She feels beads of perspiration
imagines those fingers on her
her body electric with desire

And his feet
oh his feet
as they select the pedals with such certainty
the pointed-toed shoes and colourful striped socks

the one sign of vanity
arresting her
Lucinda holds her head in her hands
to Bach’s Toccata, adagio & fugue in D minor



At Pizza Vesuvio, Champs Élysées  

On this patio we let the wind
undo our hair

around us Cartier Bulgari Lancel
herds of tourist shopping bags

a man in a wheelchair one leg amputated
war veteran perhaps

rolls up to a mother and daughter
waves his hands behind the girl as the mother takes a photo

for just a moment I have admiration
think he is the father

think what a strong family to endure
such hardship but they 

look at him stunned
as he laughs rolls away

we go back to our pizza
wind undoing our hair



Mutt on the Saguenay River

He barks on the shoreline as they search the beach
during low tide. He’s excited by what’s
beneath the water. His yelps are drawn-out groans—

if only he could see this landscape, these creatures
as he swipes his paws against the cool spray.
Now he sinks in pewter-coloured clay,

wishes for crabs that hide in the half-light.


CAROLYNE VAN DER MEER lives and writes in Montreal, Canada. She has two published books, Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2014) and Journeywoman (Inanna, 2017). A third book, a collection of poetry called Sensorial, is forthcoming from Inanna in 2021. Her poetry and prose have been published internationally.

Copyright © 2019 by Carolyne Van Der Meer. All rights reserved.

‘them’ by Andres Dillon


to them my face
              is nothing but
                           another face hanging.

to them my body

                           a forgotten shadow –
                           shifting in the water.

to them my words
              are only
                           sounds amid distorted winds that blow
                           lost lines of letters
                           and nonsense sentences.

to them I am
              what they to me
                           another face
                           another body
                           another sound


ANDRES DILLON, born and raised in the northeastern mountains of Mexico, is a passionate architecture student that finds through poetry a way of liberating himself from the constant strains of life. He is also co-founder of the regional literary magazine Cuatro Versos, publishing young and emerging writers.

Copyright © 2019 by Andres Dillon. All rights reserved.


Poems by Taylor Gray Moore



The train approaches the platform,
all the people clap. A stooped old
woman in a patchwork shawl tells
le maire how it happened
that hallowed day back in ‘67
when all the grass turned green.
She was young then; she
wore a little red skirt, carried
a little white bag and spoke
fluently out both sides of her mouth.
All of us still remember, or
at least
remember remembering,
the joie de vivre with which
she embarked that hallowed day.

Doors finally open, all the people
clamber inside to take their places.
Chantieres—some young, some old,
others completely ageless—
occupy the front seats playing
guitars, harmoniums, fiddles,
sing of golden days both future and past
while Richler and Groulx make sweet love
in the back.
Oh look! Oh look! Someone’s taken a hand!
Oh look! All the Montrealers & Montréalais
have taken hands and begun to dance!

All the people, at long last hand in hand,
promenade down the aisle, train passing
smoothly under their tortured dreams
and l’Autoroute du Souvenir.
They’re beautiful in the shining light
of every shining station passed,
in the dark between they’re all
remade half and whole.



for Matt BT

Last night we took the old bike,
that one we never used,
out of the closet
and led it out to the alley
behind our building—
abandoned it there,
placed it outside our lives.

It’s still sitting there,
will always be there.
It’s going to be designated a public art installation
by l’arrondissement du Plateau-Mont Royal
and will remain in place for generations.
It will come to symbolize this place, this time,
somebody will link it to Leonard Cohen
and his final years. They will say that
it was the bicycle he rode home on the last day of his life,
carrying groceries in the basket. They will debate
what produce he bought; how many eggs, how much milk.
Everyone will forget that he died in Los Angeles—
they will instead repeat the story enough to make it true
for legions of young dreamers
making pilgrimages from across the Earth.

Later still, it will be held up
as an example of the life and beliefs
of us inhabitants of 21st century Montreal
by people who will not know what a bicycle is.
It will be declared either a hood ornament, a trellis
or a religious icon. They will see the faces
of holy men and women in the chains of our bicycle,
and there anoint them.

But for now all we have is more room in the closet.
We’ll move furniture and clothes
into this vacated space.
We are freer now, cleaner,
a great weight has been cast off.
Perhaps we can fly now,
emerge out of time,
pull something immortal from this cold, empty here.


TAYLOR GRAY MOORE was born in Vancouver, BC, in 1992 and has lived there for most of his life. He attended McGill University in Montreal, where he obtained a B.A. in English Literature. His work has previously appeared in The Lark, Pulp Magazine and the Spadina Literary Review.

Copyright © 2019 by Taylor Gray Moore. All rights reserved.

‘Malaga Moon’ by John Drudge


The warm ocean breeze
Docks its thoughts
High up
On the white sand beach
Up to the patio
Of the bodega bar
With the windows wide open
And the stars near
Where men from the mountains
And drifters
From the shore
Mingle in a multitude
Of loud moods
The day’s unrest
With cheap cold beer
And oysters on the half
Under the watchful eye
Of a boastful moon
On a deeply inked
Malaga night


JOHN DRUDGE is from Toronto, Canada. He is a social worker working in the field of disability management and hold degrees in social work, rehabilitation services, and psychology. He has written poetry off and on for most of my life, starting around age 10, and although he has always enjoyed the process, he has just recently begun to submit poetry this past year and has a book entitled, “March” coming out this month with a publisher.

Copyright © 2019 by John Drudge. All rights reserved.

‘God is so hot right now’ and ‘More and Other’ by Osher Lee


God is so hot right now

At the oofroof I wrap tefillin and,
cloaked cozy in my bar mitzvah tallis,
am asked to perform the coveted honour
of hagba, raising the Torah above my head,
spread wide and naked, for all to see.

7:30 in the morning, at a shul far from home,
I wrap straps of leather around my head,
around my bicep, arm, hand, and fingers,
making sure they are tight enough
to leave a mark (even now, hours later).

With the phylacteries draped and hanging,
I mustn’t have impure thoughts. Though I do:
memories of being a teen, joining the other boys
in the early morning concentration, taking off half
a shirt to wrap and be wrapped in leather.

I centre myself by folding a prayer shawl
around my shoulders, bringing together
the knots and strings that fringe its four corners.
The fabrics are redolent of my own history,
And even the shmata factories of our past.

My brother and his wife-to-be ask me
to serve the difficult but sought-after role
of raising the holy scrolls of the old testament
to the heavens, opening it for the congregation
to see, to sing to, to bless, to be blessed.

In the anointed room of lights and memoriam,
of stained glass and old men, I wrap leather
around my skin, pressing and ripping into me,
into my forehead, my forearm, my frame,
my muscles, my flesh, my memories.

I wrap cotton around my torso,
pulling corners over shoulders,
feeling edges on my neck.
Breathing deeply through my nose,
I remember who I was and am.

I grip the scrolls of animal skin
and—like a lever—I pull down to lift up
the wisdom, heavier than expected,
the words of past and present, and
perhaps the future. I wonder.

At the oofroof I wrap myself in tefillin,
I wrap myself in my tallis,
I wrap myself in memories,
I wrap myself in family,
and I raise the words for everyone to see.



More and Other 

The less we interact with our senses,
The more we are barred from the present,
The more we are living in pasts and futures,
Which can’t exist beyond our heads.

So lips, please go on feeling,
Tongue, please don’t stop tasting,
Smells, please keep remembering,
And hands, please hold some hands.


OSHER LEE is a high school teacher turned graduate student living in Montreal. He studies the way the internet impacts young people, their learning, and the environment. Lately, his favourite poets include Leanne Simpson, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Billy-Ray Belcourt, and Maggie Nelson.

Copyright © 2019 by Osher Lee. All rights reserved.

‘All Week’, ‘Secret Electricity’, and ‘Intersection’ by Danielle La Valle



A single crystalline tear
A mildew stained ceiling

What is magic
But a fervent longing?

The dead words I carry with me
Meretrix, slatern, trollop
Dead words have power

And all week the moths came to me
Their ermine capes
Their rust coloured bellies

“Take us to the dark”

And I did
Their wings soft as new rose petals
The dark cup of my palms




The crackle and hum
Of secret electricity

By water vapour

Slices of velveteen

Your half-moon eyes
Your Grecian nose

These things
That are not for me




For one week
The awkwardness of death hung low

It stopped to play with people’s hair
And to read the cards taped to the traffic lights

It plucked petals from the flowers people had left
Poked its fingers into ice-cream cones
And made swirls on the tops of cappuccino froth


DANIELLE LA VALLE is a writer of short fiction and poetry. She enjoys expressing herself through a variety of mediums but her true passion has always been to write. She has been writing stories since she was seven and in that time has managed to fine-tune a quirky imagination into a unique voice. Her writing tends to be dark but is often tinged with hope. She often employs supernatural themes as a way of navigating the female experience in general, and more specifically, the experiences of women whose emotional and psychic landscapes are at odds with perceived norms of femininity.

Copyright © 2019 by Danielle La Valle. All rights reserved.