167 Unique Instances of Having Lived Together

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.

1. In 1919, arguing in a cafe in Izmir about which revolution to join - I wanted to make a break for Rhodes and leave this place, but you wanted to scream down the coast and crash into Beirut on our way to Cairo. We agreed we'd have plenty of time to decide tomorrow, ducked under umbrellas to avoid the column of soldiers whose flag we didn't know, and ran back to the university.

16. We had been running for days. I was tired and hungry and we would take turns carrying each other on our backs. We saw the border ahead of us and ran, and as soon as our feet touched that new green ground you turned and said "Oh god, it was so short." I promised that we'd be back and you said you believed me, and we knew we'd never see that place again and let ourselves be swallowed by Pyrenean giants.

57. Biking down the street I caught your glimpse in the window of the train and tried to read the note you were pressing on the glass pane but crashed into the man who sells hot dogs on the corner. I never saw you on that train again, even though I rode next to it for the rest of the fall and some of winter.

77. You made me promise to keep the boat steady so it wouldn't tip over as you climbed in. After about thirty minutes of rowing around, I said "I hate this canadian shit." You agreed and our shoulders moved like twins, up and over the left side of the boat. We swam to the big rock at the middle of the lake and threw stones into the water until bright orange ships with bright orange men sailed in to save us from the terror of enjoying ourselves.

109. Somewhere warm, surrounded by the colossal wreck of old roman columns and carved out temples, we paid no attention to the death's heads that peaked from under the ground to bite at our ankles and remind us of history we'd never learn. As soon as we found some high ground away from the chatter we sunk spades into the ground and flipped a coin to decide what we'd try to plant first. Figs won out and we tried to figure how many jars of fig jam we'd have to sell to build a house.

133. Laying on some earth, you, wearing one of my shirts backwards, listened to me worry about what I had to do. I was scared because I felt the weight of all history, but when you smiled and said it'd be fine, the sky opened and we fell into it all, not sure where or on what body part we'd land.


Jon Babi will be with you shortly, thank you for your patience.

ginger

sun spice set in soil

sweet hot and

burning brown root

stretch and scathe through

the veins of my mother and

her mother and

hers

her too

through coarse hands she

generates generations the

generous genius forming foundations

out of broken bodies breathing

alive in water

rough juice

tough skin

a soothing kind of blood

letting from her amber slits we all sip

her pungent fountain

circle ‘round daughters

sisters to the place where healers travel

back and forth from soil

to pots and saucers

masters of versatile

medicine makers

bubble and boil beneath the breastplate

inhale fire for damp lungs they have

always known

what you need

i trust in this

knowledge this

tradition of flavour

i trust

in glowing liquid passed

from her cup to mine i trust

in coming home to fill the nostrils whole i trust

in the sacred singeing i feel in my gut

while the world tells me no i trust

yes i trust

in ginger


Magdalin currently lives in Toronto where she enjoys teaching, painting, and stubbornly wearing dresses until it’s actually dress-weather. 

Dear Editor

Dear editor,

So my submission is about... Fuck. I don't know I forget. Probably prose? Yeah, that makes sense. I probably wrote prose. Oh and like, It's science-fiction. I know that because everybody keeps telling me all I write is science fiction. I mean eeeeverybooody. I mean from "that's your thing, man!" down to "Are you still doing that?"

When people say "are you still doing that" I always gotta just say "I guess," because it's nice to be known for something. But I sort of wish I was known for my singing voice, even though I have a crappy singing voice because I like to sing a lot, and I wish it were something people asked me to do more

Okay so like it's a science-fiction story, and it's probably a sad story even though it's got a ton of jokes in it, and someone is going to complain that the jokes kind of ruin it so I'll take them out but then it will be so depressing so I'll actually just take all my scrap note-paper and try to make origami while watching youtube tutorials.

So it's a science fiction story. And it's not about my singing voice. and it's not so much star wars science fiction because I'm not good at spaceships or fight scenes or badguys.

So it's a science fiction story, and it's probably about a lonely cyborg, who gets uncomfortable when people ask if they have genitals, and who makes comments on how gentrified Toronto is getting, and who designs escape rooms and carnival mazes for a living and when people ask what their job is they like to say "I help people get lost"

hey, that's pretty good. Alexa save to notes.

and it's probably about 4000 words.

Wait that's too much.

It's probably about 350 words.


Ben Berman Ghan is a writer and editor, and you know what I don't know anymore because I'm graduating and I'm stressed, and can I even call myself a writer/editor when I'm not writing/editing?

Oh geez, oh geez, this is stupid, it's only me responding to a tweet. Please don't think I'm a jerk.

Please. 

Pleas

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Ben Berman Ghan


Ben Berman Ghan thinks writing his bio in the third person makes him obnoxious and he believes his girlfriend is embarrassed that he never wears matching socks; you can buy his book here.

Adebayo.

He’s a nice young man, he treats me like a million dollars. Adebayo. Adebayo calls me the best thing that has ever happened to him. His wealth is of little significance to me; I make enough money to be comfortable on my own. Adebayo, oh, my Adebayo. Ade mi tells me sweet rubbish that confuses my senses. When he whispers, he brushes his lips against my ears. I think I love him. I think he's the one.

We've been together for 2 years.

"Doyin, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. You complete me, you make me a better man! With you, I feel whole. Will you bless me and be my wife?"

"Yes! Yes, yes, yes!"

It's two months later, I'm home anticipating the weekly bouquet of flowers he sends every Thursday.

We met on a Thursday, our first kiss was on a Thursday and he proposed to me on a Thursday. I hear a knock on the door.

Odd. Tayo, the delivery man, always uses the doorbell.

Her name is Taiwo. Taiwo, alakoba. (Taiwo, the trouble maker) She's a month pregnant for Ade mi.

Ade mi, is it true? My darling Adebayo. He hit me for the first time.

I got my bouquet the next day, it came with an extra rose. Ade mi, he didn‘t mean to do it. He loves me.

It's five months later. I'm in the Emergency Room for the third time. Ade mi tells my family we're on vacation.

We've been married for a year and eight months. I'm pregnant. Ade mi killed our child.

Why won't my love die? Why won't I refuse the flowers?

Ade mi has brought in a mistress. He does not want to make love to the scars he created. Atinuke, his mistress, comes in. Her heels squash the rest of my dignity; her nail polish is the blood of my third miscarriage.

Ade mi makes me serve them food. Atinuke is my cousin.

It's six years later. Ade mi is dead. Atinuke killed Ade mi; He hit her too.

As I reminisce the gruesome details of my past, Tayo, the delivery man, rubs my neck.

Tayo. He kisses my scars.


Moradeyo Adeniyi lives in Mississauga, Canada and spends her free time making the world a better place.

Pocket Camp Poems

Screenshot from Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Screenshot from Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

#1

listen – there’s no one around to help

is a lie I told myself when the sun

went down and left me to my stones,

my untended gardens, my pockets

full of dead or dying insects, my head

empty of all its water, the thirst I felt

met by oceans. but migratory animals

are always in the process of returning

and I’ve made a home out of patience,

a shelter out of presence, and an open

palm pink with the promise of ripe fruit,

all this here to say: look – I am around.

#2

look up! they added a feature

that makes it possible to see the sky

#3

every day overflowing with presence

every day its own reward

every day complete!


Terrence Abrahams was co-parented by the Animal Crossing series.

Let's Not Play

In 2018, I ran a video game fan-blog, where they PayPaled me $12 to explain how pixelated penises don’t work:

Jacob Seed, a “dragon”-level antagonist of the first-person shooter game Far Cry 5 (Ubisoft Montreal/Toronto; 2018) is fanonically 47 years old, w/ all the stressors entailed to AAA game villainy. He is a Gulf War veteran and you can’t fuck him. You can’t write a 438-word drabble on AO3 about how this grizzled Marine would take your 21-year-old Original Character on a Rated-M-for-Mature sex-marathon. He’d die! First, Operation Desert Storm probably fucked up his lungs and maybe his foreskin! Moreover, he doesn’t actually have lungs, or foreskin, or testosterone because he’s fictional, and so is his penis. In the annals of an overworked Québécois programmer’s desktop server, “Model Object #JAC303 for Erectile Function” was never on the office Trello board. They paid no one to render Jacob Seed’s dick, so it doesn’t exist.

Nothing is there. Not just Ken Doll “nothing;” Nothing-nothing. You undo his belt and his character model vivisects. A transparent diaper in its wake. His skeleton wasn’t motion-captured for love. It was made to twist, and shoot, and shout, and succumb to (not suck off) your avatar in a mountainside sniper fight. He was not made for mountainside embraces.

At this point, you might be saying, “Original Poster, a Potent Checkpoint is not a prerequisite for a High Score, If You Know What I Am Saying.” I do. I’m not naïve. I know where cogs go to grind. But Jacob Seed is mean. As mean as a video game villain who is almost 50 years old can be. Even if he could fuck, he would not. Not with a fox, not in your box, not in a house, and not with your mouse. Not with you. Drop the console. Stop being horny. I’m begging you.

---

~~ Thank you for the request <3! If you like what I do, please share the love on my Ko-Fi, linked here! ~~


It's easier for Christine H. Tran to just say she lives in Toronto, where she will do her PhD.

terrestrial helium

terrestrial helium

terrestrial helium has often been

considered to be a non-renewable resource

because once released into the atmosphere

it readily escapes into space.*

regarding voyager I (1977)

voyager I has been found;

it has been turned around

and politely pushed back

in the direction it came from,

assumed to be lost.

armageddon shaped like a key

you know, you say some things like they're the end of the world.

90 million miles today, tomorrow

your cold eyes run

lost into a dead field of stars,

brushing their palms through them and

feeling the course, hard light, fading;

make no mistake: there is

undeniable warmth

in the reliable sun.

such nice things

why did you have to say

such nice things

to me?

your words appear to be made

entirely out of

terrestrial helium.*

palaeozoic daydream

ah, the next time around,

i think i’ll be

a trilobite.

*okay, poetic metaphors aside, let’s be honest

in the end, we were all very wrong about helium;

there is so much buried beneath the Earth’s crust,

released by volcanos, created by radioactive decay;

we simply can’t get enough of the stuff

your words are made of the steam

that rises from fresh tea and

i’m sorry for freaking out earlier


Sam Avery currently lives in Montreal where they are attending Concordia University and hoping that things will be okay. 

They’re Not Giving Me the Information, or Of Reincarnation, Writing, and Taxi Chits

I saw some visions and they were true. But I couldn’t get the real information, the ‘skinny,’ though I don’t think people use that term, on the topics I wanted. Oh well who is to tell? This is how it works, and I didn’t make the rules. I saw this nice person in the vision and she was sitting on the sidewalk or rather the boulevard. Oh, she was a good person, better than good, someone with a truly kind heart, and had broken up with her boyfriend. She was crying. That was all I saw and all I got. Then someone I knew it turns out knew this person, and I said, Hey, I saw that person, though I had never seen that person in real life. And, it turned out that the information was correct, and specifically so, meaning they had broken up and were sitting down there shedding a tear over the situation. So, this kind of thing happens, but it’s practically useless. I never did meet the person I saw, or try to. There is no reason, really.  What I really wanted to know was where I came from, and why, and this type of thing. But the spirits won’t tell. Here is a funny thing. You can be evolved, astute, enlightened even, but it doesn’t mean you are a super-psychic yogi. I once met a spirit medium that talked to the other world and she was almost wholly accurate. Yet, she wasn’t psychic. The two are two different things. Anyhow, however it all works, - there are rules. There are rules here and rules there and rules abounding everywhere. I might have been a guy named Hartley Coleridge, who I had never heard of one way or the other. Poor Hartley was a mediocre poet who had a little success but not much, didn’t marry. Wrote some nature vignettes and some sonnets apparently. Lived in the country in a nice cottage setting. Ran with a female briefly in town earlier on that his tutors disapproved of, they thinking that she was bit below his class in life. That’s what the world scholar said anyhow, though it can’t be proven. They say Hartley might have been a better writer than he was given credit for. They are re-examining that now. He had elbow trouble though. That means trouble with the booze. I don’t have that. Maybe I overcame my drinking addiction in between lives. I am quite serious about that. No joke. I know how serious it is. For example, I used to work at a place, a shelter, and if five guys wanted to go to a meeting, the place would pay for it, with a taxi chit, you know, but if say, only four wanted to go- they couldn’t go! So, being a rebel, I would kind of fudge the book and call the taxi and let them go. In the name of health and healing and positivity. Why should the four not get to go for such a silly rule?  And by the way, nose trouble doesn’t always mean one is nosey, but that means trouble with ‘the cocaine.’ I don’t have either. I just wanted to know who I was in the past life, and why the heck the universe has me learning all these things- books, literature, people, and places. For what? But, they ain’t saying. You get bits of things here or there, but not really enough ingredients to make a meal. You have to settle for a snack. I am keeping an ear out, and a third eye, hoping they invite me to dinner, but I somehow doubt it. I am so hungry. So hungry on this journey I am practically starving. If I were them I would give me a taxi chit and a gift card for a restaurant both. But I am not them. I am just me. I saw some visions and they were true.


Brian Michael Barbeito, a Canadian writer and landscape photographer, is the author of Chalk Lines (Fowl Pox Press, 2013). 

Bread Eater

Arizona has the type of heat that kills bread. Flat loaves tumbled out of our oven and onto the countertop, over-proofed in a matter of minutes. A bread machine, the eternal gift of the 90s, aged on a high shelf until the heat cracked the plastic, too. Yeast dies here by the millions, I expect — yeast is very small, after all. Here, flat bread flourishes. Flat tortillas, pinned under a cast iron press, served with butter for breakfast; I love tortillas and they do not sustain me. My mother flipped them with her hands. She gave me clementines and a tortilla in a bear-shaped lunchbox.

My dad wasn’t from Arizona but he killed bread just the same. He arrived in Tempe after some war, he went to the supermarket for stale bread and was happy. He ate the heels dipped in milk.

Here is an archive of the bread I ate in Arizona: supermarket whole wheat. Tortillas. The sweet bread at the sandwich chain in Fiesta Mall.  

I don’t remember eating good bread until I left Arizona. Originally, we stayed nine long years for my dad’s job. It must have been strange for my family — they travelled in caravans forever before the war. They had a horse named Sieg. They walked for hundreds of years trading salt and spoons and eating bread between Rajasthan and Ostia and back. Then the war came and the Nazis came and they were forced to settle down and wait and finally pack it in for America because no one cared about “the gypsy problem” across the pond. The point is, I think we were never supposed to stay in Arizona. My great uncle called it “horizon fever” - the uneasiness you feel when you’re standing still. We were meant to get to Arizona and then move on. The bread here was not made for us.

My nana knows how to make good bread out of anything: einkorn, spelt, seed, salt, water. You don’t need yeast for good bread, you just need fresh air. The more fresh air, the better: she recommends walking your leaven across the Levant for a good rise. My nana always baked outside, even after she settled down in New York City in 1964. She put her oven on the balcony and cooked outside on the 17th floor in the dead of winter. She cooled her loaves on the handrail and insists she only ever knocked one into traffic. When she drops bread, she apologizes to it. When she drops bread 17 storeys into traffic I imagine she must buy it flowers. She sent my dad away when he was six—“it’s no good to stay so long in one place”— so for years he never ate the thick pieces of rye bread that she handed out, cut too quickly from a hot loaf, rolled around a pickle (this is not a good snack, I do not believe you will like it). My nana never apologized for this, I'm not sure she had to.

I don’t know what my point is here, but it’s something to do with movement and bread and race. Bread is everything to some people. I don’t understand the language but I know my grandmother uses the same word for “person” and “rye bread”. To be is to eat bread. Our bread is supposed to collect wild yeast across whole continents. To eat our bread, you have to move; my mother’s tortillas were a bread for standing still. (Upon flying for Canada, she was relieved of her tortilla press by a strict TSA agent. It seems symbolic in retrospect). We make my grandmother’s bread now, the dough ferments outside in good weather.

There is einkorn bread waiting on my counter today. I feel happy about this. There were once people who were good at killing my people, failing that, they took away our movement, then our bread, our culture. Even when they didn’t kill us, they managed to kill something in us. My dad still eats supermarket bread.


Kitt Peacock is an interdisciplinary artist and breadmaker, currently living the nightmare in Vancouver, BC.