Audio Poems

Audio Poems by Calgary Poet Laureates

Always Have Wine When You Fly
Kris Demeanor

Kris Demeanor is a singer, songwriter and Calgary’s first Poet Laureate (2012-2014). 

Always have wine when you fly

I always have wine when I fly

Just in case, you know

While I scope the seats

Around me for someone to kiss

The German said:

‘Better chance cutting an artery shaving’

I thought: Hey

Wine while I’m shaving

Always have wine when you fly

Always have wine when you fly

Going down I salute you

There’s always something to say goodbye to

There’s always something to say goodbye to

Why not be ready?

I didn’t mean us you silly goose

The goose will stay with its mate when the mate’s wing is broken

Text me when you’ve landed in London

Always have wine when you fly…

The spring that Phil goes to drink from on the moor is dry

The motorbikes riding the riverbed echoing

What is that?

Is that a bat flying a straight line?

I fly

Everyone flies

And the young, they long to fall in love Always have wine when you fly…

Derek Beaulieu

Derek Beaulieu is a Canadian Poet, Publisher, Anthologist and second Poet Laureate of Calgary (2014-2016).


Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Every good artist paints what she is. Art is either plagiarism or revolution. Through others we become ourselves. When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other. Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery—it’s the sincerest form of learning. Invention, using the term most broadly, and imitation, are the two legs, so to call them, on which the human race historically has walked. There is only one thing which is generally safe from plagiarism—self-denial. Success is when one’s imitators are successful. Imitation is criticism. Imitation is human intelligence in its most dynamic aspect. Poetry can only be made out of other poems, novels out of other novels. There is no such thing as intellectual property. I am just a copier, an impostor. I wait, I read magazines; after a while my brain sends me a product. Writing is a public act; we must learn to share our work with a readership: see our work as worth sharing, our voices as worth hearing. Share. Publish your own work. Publishing builds community through gifts and exchange, through consideration and generosity, through the interplay and dialogue with each other’s work. You are out of excuses. Readers are a book’s aphorisms. Art is a conversation, not a patent office. If you don’t share you don’t exist. Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to. Poets are now judged not by the quality of their writing but by the infallibility of their choices. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal. Don’t protect your artwork, give it away. For every space you occupy, create two. I am quite content to go down to posterity as a scissors-and-paste man. Publish other people. Give your work away. Post your writing online for free. Embrace the unexpected. Encourage circulation over restriction. Give it away. Generosity is always sustainable. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but, in practice, there is. Rules are guidelines for stupid people. Poetry has more to learn from graphic design, engineering, architecture, cartography, automotive design, or any other subject, than it does from poetry itself. The Internet is not something that challenges who we are or how we write, it is who we are and how we write. Here we measure success by how many people successful next to you, here we say you broke if everybody else broke except for you. The rest of us just copy.

The Visitation
Micheline Maylor

Dr. Micheline Maylor was Calgary’s Poet Laureate 2016-18. Her latest poetry collection, The Bad Wife is newly out, 2021, and Little Wildheart (U of Alberta Press) was long listed for both the Pat Lowther and Raymond Souster awards. She recently won the Lois Hole Award for Editorial Excellence in Alberta. She teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University.

The Visitation

An owl tells about the wind-shorn ridge,

the place of burrowed bark-warmth.

December dark at 5:30, and he’s chuffed

about the probability of mice under

the slate stones in the back yard.

The world asks me to put down my pencil,

shut down the screen’s blue light and listen:

Hear a soft toe scratch pine branch

flight feathers fluffing, shush-weight shifts

from foot to foot. What pulled him here

startles me from the tangle of student papers

and Covid worries to stand in the lamp-lit frost

and coo through my window? Was he a magic act

sent from another world?  Or Divine mercy?

Sheri-D Wilson

Sheri-D Wilson (aka The Mama of Dada) is a poet, educator, producer, activist and fourth Poet Laureate of Calgary (2018-2020).


The reason we can’t be together is

we’re both roses

and in a relationship

there has to be a gardener.

We won’t need a gardener

If we both grow wild. 

who will water?

The rain. 

The Quickening
Natalie Meisner

Natalie Meisner is a playwright, a professor at Mount Royal University, a wife and mom to two great boys and Calgary’s 5th Poet Laureate

The Quickening

Can you feel it?

an awakening from hibernation

after this, the longest winter’s sleep

in living memory.

From under a blanket of snow

we hear a tiny whispered message

 “wake up, wake up, can you?”

As the frost gives way

the water trickles through

in rhythmic drops:

the pattern is life’s tattoo.

As somewhere deep in the heart

of the forest a new seed

bursts its skin & soon the green

yes, the green will show through

Is there movement, finally?

can this possibly be

the long awaited quickening

the stirring in the land, in the blood

the quicksilver shimmer of new life?

Put your hand here and feel

the stirring of a dream,

the whirring of the bees

through the bark of the tree

the sap runs sweet

up tap roots through the trunk to the leaf.

Will I know you when you hatch out,

baby bird, newborn with legs wobbly

beating the air with flightless wings

still wet from the womb

big eyed & blinking

heart on the quiver,

Will you know me?

Is it too much to hope for

this quickening, I swoon: 

Hand on tree, on hive

on brand new sprout

hands plunged in warm earth after the frost,

deep in the heart of the forest

put your hand here on my belly could this be

the movement,

the quickening we’ve hoped for?

Audio Poems by Calgary Poets

Oranges for Elephants
Shannon Barry

Shannon Barry is a Canadian writer and artist who grew up in South Africa. She writes eco poetry, Surrealist fiction, and she paints abstract fluid portraiture

Oranges for Elephants

Elephant noses

Are slimier than they look.

Rogue trunks

Bopping slippery nostrils on faces.

Dad holds me up

I’m star struck

Afraid and excited

To give them small round gifts

Forever a reminder of my heroes.

Hold your palm out flat,

A sweet offering to colossus.

Careful not to get any slime

On my Ellie from granny,

My very first gift.

He is soft and squishy.

Big ellies are hard and bristly,

Like hugging a hairbrush.

They speak like moving mountains.

Rumble and quake.

They smell like Earth cows

Less sweet, like baked mud.

Feeding oranges to elephants

In Knysna Forest.

I am the mouse

Beloved are the elephants.

Banking on democracy
Paulo da Costa

Born in Angola, and raised in Portugal, paulo da costa is a writer, editor and translator living in Alberta. His poetry, fiction and non-fiction have been published widely in literary magazines around the world and translated into Italian, Spanish, Serbian, Slovenian and Portuguese. The Midwife of Torment is his latest book of fiction

banking on democracy

rack of lamb in a bosc pear

sauce, chanterelle mushrooms

in white wine, plop of champagne

cork and crackling fire devouring

logs as fast as fed. rent

sits two months behind

his thoughts, the decrepit truck

hibernates in a snowed

in back-alley, waits a new

carburetor. the diamond light drapes

candle chandeliers, glimmers on

other precious hands, she

dips her focaccia bread

in the pond of olive oil and balsamic

vinegar, he delicately licks her

ringfinger, her lips tingle, tonight

he shows how much he loves her

this is the promise of this century,

this america, where they too, for a day,

can be king or queen, regardless

of their surname, the colour of their skin

if clean, if american express. his subtle

wishes are anticipated by a grey haired waiter,

who promptly refills bohemian crystals,

who could be his father, and calls him sir.

champagne flutes are raised,

toast to prosperity and love,

the bubbles rise to the rim

as the orchestra blows the first notes

on the metal brass, his feet tap,

he thinks he is free and medieval

walls are now history as he surveys

the room and knows he lives in a country

where he may ask anyone to dance

Warehouse of Dead Friends
Shelley McAneely

Permanent student of life, art, and love. Occasional architect, philosopher, and reader of great authors.

Warehouse of Dead Friends  

we watch, the Sputnik slide across the sky

bleep its way to morning dew

our mortal coils face up

under green Borealis waves

ablaze with desire

our eyes glimmer in the Bigness beyond

your finger traces Orion’s Belt, outlines the dipper

you swipe your tongue along the Milky Way

a peach fuzz tickle makes a touch down on my lip 

not knowing what to do

I push you back to earth

my pulse pauses, realigns to the starry spin 


I gaze up as I drive along this country road

assess the scale of infinity 

wonder, could one of those pinpoints of light

be you blinking messages

from the Milky Way

and have you seen Timothy Leary 

Le Mythe de Employment
Riley Ohler

Having completed his Masters in Education from the Werklund School of Education in 2020, Riley is keen to move his career into new and exciting areas. He is a prolific volunteer in Calgary working alongside many great organizations including the Social Impact Lab, the Bereaved Parents Network and the peer support group he co-founded Dad’s in Grief.

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What I can do
Dymphny Dronyk

Dymphny Dronyk is a mediator and is also a bestselling poet, editor, translator, and a story doula. She is passionate about the magic of story and has woven words for money and for love for more than 30 years.

What I can do

I have been sewing for days,

the dining room table

covered in fabric

the scraps of our past lives –

Hallowe’en costumes, Christmas pajamas

all the shenanigans,

we may never experience again.

I will not see my children

this Mother’s Day, perhaps not this whole year,

and my mother will not see me,

at least not in person.

We visit virtually,

awkwardly hunched around our phones,

screens distorting perspective.

My mother no longer puts in

her fancy teeth for our calls,

her brave face beginning to waver,

and who can blame her?

It is all so hard.

The sunkenness of her jaw

adds decades to her face.

Then again, we all look too old,

and so very tired.

I have been sewing masks for weeks,

the table covered in patterns,

trying to find the perfect model,

a design that will save them,

keep my loved ones breathing,

and stitch our world back together.

I stew tsunamis of soup,

bake avalanches of buns,

and leave dinners

on my friends’ doorsteps,

to suppress the plague of anxiety

that haunts me.

My father, at the green coast,

magnolias drooping in the front yard,

seems almost energized.

He’s always bloomed in a crisis.

I have never been so thankful

he’s a loner.

At least with him I won’t worry

about social foolishness.

I have been sewing masks for months,

the dining room table covered in ideas,

cookbooks, boxes for shipping.

I baked your favourite cookies, I say,

packing yet another box,

to mail across the country.

Are you staying safe?

Are you following the rules?

Will you call me if anything changes?

I have been sewing masks for months,

recycling the soft elastic

that is so scarce,

thinking of my Oma and Opa’s

War Years,

of our relative privilege,

of how they never complained.

What must I learn from a pandemic, I wonder,

as I walk deeper into the quiet forest,

where the fairies,

freed of our polluted thrum,

no longer social distancing,

have returned to their green places,

as the mountains have grown back

to their true height

in skies as blue and clean

as they were in my youth.

I have been baking and sewing

and dreaming for months now,

every cup of sugar my love,

every stitch an incantation.

Fresh face tattoo
Rhaeannon Gerritsen

I am a fourth-year English Major at Mount Royal University. I have been competing in poetry slams since I was in grade ten and have an immense love of literature! You can find more of my work at Rhae Sunshine on youtube.

Fresh Face Tattoo

He drinks more mountain dew

Then the fact he ruined his life

By tattooing his face

I also know it was a bad idea, just so we’re all on the same page.

  • “Prison for Wizards” By Shayne Smith

Hungover in the morning, headache by sunrise,

I’ve baked in the vacation blue of a tv screen.

Letting worlds rush past me in the evening,

Branding capitalist infomercials into my eyelids.

Watching and rewatching sitcoms and cop shows.

Trying to avoid the food network because what the fuck is a cordon-bleu.

For some reason, this always leaves me feeling empty,

Watching comedy just waiting for the same asinine punchline.

Listening as his Cheeto dusted fingers break off more than he can chew,

He drinks more mountain dew,

I liked coke… the fun kind.

We waste time watching cartoons turn into nightmares

Dreams lay waste to our dustbowl.

Cracked and dry are our throats.

Blanket curtains protect the outside world from us,

The bedsores of society, the King and his fish wife.

Boredom holds us to the floor, fascinated by the stains on the ceiling.

I put stars up there just so we’d finally have something to stare at.

Wondering what other damage he caused with the penknife other

Then the fact he ruined his life.

Mistakes marred our knuckles and forearms.

Regrets needled into our fresh skin.

Lowlifes all labelled with the same machine…

“Welcome to the loser’s club.”

I use to grieve each loss of clear skin,

Gang names tattooed over with black space.

I can’t erase that part of me only mask it with red roses.

Tracing over letters hoping to make marble of the mundane.

Now we only tattoo in the lowercase

Tattooing his face.

We wore hoodies and stole cheese hoping it wouldn’t go bad,

Rotten and no good like the rest of us.

We were hood rats,

Kids from the wrong cabbage patch, selling drugs at the train tracks.

The rabid dogs of the community, I use to believe in pack mentality but I know now.

We were just the animals who couldn’t escape the cage.

Praying that the adrenalin of belonging to something would set us free,

I traded ballet shoes for a pocket knife,

Learning to dance on a new concrete stage.

I also know it was a bad idea, just so we’re all on the same page.

Josephine LoRe

Josephine LoRe’s poetry has been read on stage, published in literary journals and anthologies around the world, put to music, danced, integrated into visual art, interpreted through ASL and globally zoomed.  She has two collections:  Unity and the Calgary Herald bestseller, The Cowichan Series

La quarantaine … quarantin … forty days                    

there must be forty ways to finish an Easter roast

the first day thin sliced with French-cut beans

sautéed garlic, almonds, corn niblets in butter

a glass of red wine

the next day at lunch in a lidded pan with Boursin

a shake of tarragon, spanish onion, sautéed pepper

red cabbage and mushrooms on the deck

honey-brown beer

then oriental noodles crisp-fried in tahini

scallion, coconut flake, satay sauce

and a quick fry of beef

munching caponata from a jar

as I stand at the island

chopsticks from Goats-on-the-Roof

the last of the Pinot Grigio in my glass

then to break things up perogi lunch today

are there really forty ways? 

I don’t know

tonight it was cold-sliced

with baked squash and spring mix  

red wine again

squash seeds in the oven

with sea salt and chili

I’ve never roasted squash seeds before

and why forty?

it is a such a biblical number

a number of great portent

the desert and all that stuff

forty days and forty nights

like the Arabian nights, although those guys

could count way higher with their Thousand and One

and this does seem somewhat biblical in scope

epic almost, and we’re back again at covid

I thought of Passover the other day

as I stood at the island eating caponata

from the Italian market; it is one of those things

I never learned to make although my mother did

at the end of every summer

eggplant and olives, capers and those little globe

onions, sweetened tomato

there is a lot of sugar in caponata

and like my father I have a hankering for sweet

my aunt thought of the Passover as well

in this pandemic, dreaming that Mother Mary

had instructed her to make the sign of the cross

on the door in olive oil so that covid

would not enter her house

Extra Virgin? I asked my sister, certain

I would be sent straight to hell for such a blasphemy

as we both laughed

forty days … forty ways

forty ways to eat a roast

a meal meant for family

but there is only one left of me

the kids in their own nests

making their own meals

in their own mountain homes

recalling brunches and potlucks of days past

easter-egg hunts, baskets brimming

chocolate before breakfast

eating the ears off Mr. Bunny

tomorrow’s breakfast, steak and eggs perhaps

this is day twenty-seven of isolation for me

though in some ways it feels like forty

forty days and forty nights

forty thousand nights

Hearts must bleed
Thorsten Nesch

Thorsten Nesch is a traditionally published and award-winning author.
Currently he is working on his dystopian novel set in Lethbridge, 2112, supported by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts with Literary Arts Individual Project Grant

Hearts must bleed

I love to remember
how you pulled me
just with one hand
a little bit too fast
like in an Independent movie
where the people have dreams
but no goal to go to

I love the things
you tell yourself
and I tend to believe
as much as you don’t
as I watch you
building your future
on the rubble
of the bridges
you burned

I love to forget
the forlorn gesture
how you cupped my hand
when I gave you fire
the flames licking
your palms
and reflecting
in your eyes

I never forget
what you told me:
hearts must bleed
before they can truly love
now I wish my heart
would have bled
before we met
because hearts must bleed
before they can truly love

Adetola Adedipe

Adetola Adedipe ( aka aloT of Poetry) is a 25 Year Old South African Born published poet and spoken word artist. By sharing her life experiences with sexism, racism, mental health and more she aims to create a community that encourages anyone and everyone to love themselves andmbe unapologetic about it.

I’ve been sitting in the dark for so long.


I find it comforting. I find it warm.

In a place where I can’t be seen

A place where I can’t be hurt

Where only I can hear my

Sorrowful Songs.

However, I still find myself

Growing at an angle.

Like a plant whose leaves desperately

search for:

 The Source of Growth

The Promise of Future

The Hope of Tomorrow.

I opened the Blinds today.

And just like my tiny plant

Sprouting in the darkness

I found myself

Leaning towards the light

And I am
Es Sybom

Es Sybom is a 16 year old writer, artist, and hair dye addict. They are an avid fan of pop-punk bands that take themselves too seriously, the colour yellow, and movies with Winona Ryder. 

And I am

And I am a cardboard cutoutOf every contour of shoulder blades through a t shirtAnd I am every red haired pretty boyEvery lukedavidmickfreddie And I am running faster even though my lungs acheAnd I am doing push ups by mistakeAnd I amListening to punk rockAnd I amBaking cookies for my momAnd I Am on tv And I Will never see myself on tv And I am drowning in my own self pity, and I am not funny, and I am not pretty, and my hair is not red, and my voice is not mineAnd my body flat/curved/flat/curved in ALLTHEWRONG PLACESLiminal spacesGas stations I amA roadside attractionI amDead in a dumpster.I amTied to a fence. I haveNothing but the stars, and mountains, and trees, and god, and trees, and stars— And godDoesn’t exist. And IWould rather kissThe hands of every man with blood on his knuckles Than tell you I’m one too. Im every blue haired pretty boy, Every stuartpaulmatthewjamieEvery single crying baby 
Kiss my hands, kidBeg me for forgiveness. 

Sabrina Uswak

Sabrina Uswak is a writer and editor living in Calgary, Alberta. Her first book, All the Night Gone, was published by Stonehouse in 2020.


I still remember having ice cream.

Muted green mint

studded with chocolate peaks.

Fixating on scraping that melted palette

round and round the short paper cup

as we sat in total quiet,

behind industrial buildings, between fields.

A family road trip—Cochrane or Bragg Creek—

windows rolled down to catch the smell of August wheat

and heated sun, rising higher and higher

to shatter every night into hues of orange, red, magenta.

—Or maybe we were coming back from camping in Kananaskis, from

watching moths shred against swinging candle lanterns—

When my dad turned the ignition on and

my mom collected our spoons,

a man staggered out from my peripheral,

through shin-high grass to still,

arrive on scene,

in cowboy boots that pooled around his knees.

Just a picture

in jeans, blue sweater, ball cap (maybe)

more silhouette than dimension,

the lowering sun pulling out his shadow,

dragging it along as we started to drive away.

The tracking shot framing him off-centre,

radio murmuring low in neutral tones

—my parents focused, elsewhere—

as I watched the line of his shoulders fold

as he took two steps

and crumpled.

I willed him to get up,

for the grass to part,

as that field shrank smaller and smaller,


Speaking in thumbs
Jill M. Armstrong

Jill M. Armstrong is a Calgary/Moh’kíns’tsis based multimedia artist, constantly seeking rapture/poetry in earthly form.

Speaking in thumbs

i won a language
a herd vocabulary
no music
no instructions
i won an a
cappella prize
a delicate
fine tune
made from rhythm
heavy phrase and wasp
paper whisper best
amplified from
the industrious diaphragm
the tympany we
wear between organs
sharpened by lip
geometry and measured
i absorbed a language
without translation
i lost a word
and then i lost
most of them my
became meat
hangs from bone
hangs from meat
an organ of vowel
taste and sigh
i ordered a language
without a menu
speaking in thumbs
an incubator for the incomplete
a fallen architect of rhyme
in the mirror yawned
a chamber unchoired
a branch unbarked
and no percussion
but but anxious teeth
and a ticking tongue
clocking the rate of unravel
an opus in chains,
and in the echochamber
behind my face
small boys wrestled
tested dominance
smelled like wet dogs
their testosterone
a fuel they knew
nothing about
i was forced to fit
my ideas with gravity boots
until lightning
that bright sneak
channelled down
the wiring between
my walls to smoulder under
the tympany we
wear between organs
in the basement
until i erupt
in significant form rounder
than a shout more
folded than a swan
consonant-free cacophany
has a pressurized smell
deep crimson with no surface
my nose tastes blood

speaking in thumbs
running too thick through
air running too thin
at the tops of mountains
and six-storey walk-ups
sound needs
rivers to turn
corners consonants
to deflect it and wrap
vowels around
my mouth became
unworthy of room service
a derelict in the lobby
in a hotel
of the chewed lip
and in the echochamber
behind my face
small boys wrestled
tested dominance
smelled like wet dogs
their testosterone
a fuel they knew
they could light with a match

Parts, Some
Logan Pollon

Logan Pollon is an MA student in English at the University of Calgary with a focus on medieval literature and creative writing. He has been published in Drifting Like a Metaphor: Calgary Poets of Promise (Frontenac House), FreeFall Magazine, and Haiku Page. His plants love him.

Parts, Some

Water the calathea by

the washroom window and kiss

the pouring hand

that brought the rain,

a cell is seldom singular

Science insinuates you

are a social organism, being a self

reflected,         refracted,

that many mitochondria

might power fingertips

to ascend scissors,

clip keratin,

a family of follicles

surrounding your soles

in your personal porcelain tub-

ninety percent of hair is in anagen,

extending past a precipice

while you sweep the tiles

around the sink,

the second time that morning

You are plenty of peninsulas,

even archipelagos are attached

below the tide,

and all the pipes

of your place


Ode to Calgary
DJ Stagez

Dj Stagez is a Canadian hip hop artist who calls Calgary home.

Ode to Calgary
Like a fiery blaze across a dark night
Like a shooting star that will not dim her glow
Or cower for the fickleness of time
She lies couched in the comfort of the majestic Rockies
A beam that flares with a steadiness of ambient confidence
O she is a city in a valley of decisions;
a cradle and yet a graveyard,
Beckoning for budding innovative new ideas
Destroying in her wake out of date worn out notions
She is a legacy across the vast globe
As a song of hope in the hearts of young people along the undulating hills of the savannah
Singing her fame for open arms,
A ballad of glamour and allure to those from the great expanse of Asia and far away Europe
A place of refugee to those in the Americas who seek to make a fresh start in her ever
expanding glee of opportunities
A melting pot of hues and all shades in between
A crucible of experiments in the never ending drama of learning to live together
She is a city and many may say
But more than a city most agree
She is the home of the greatest outdoor show on earth
A place, and I’ll wager although am not a betting man,
Where if you ever feel so low
Take a reflective walk along its myriad streets and let me know if it won’t all the difference

I’m just a kid
Tayo Dummer

Tayo is a student at Calgary Arts Academy. He is an empathetic extrovert adapting to life as a kid in the midst of a pandemic. His inspiration comes from Amanda Gorman’s poetry for the presidential inauguration. 

I’m Just a Kid

I’m just a kid
I love my food
I love pizza and pasta
Apples and pies
Ice cream and mochi
Burgers and fries

I’m just a kid,
What happened out there?
No Restaurants are open
No MacDonald’s to munch
No pool parties to jump in
No picnics for lunch

I’m just a kid!
Why, why, why?
COVID hit the world
Food Line Ups grew
The Stores closed down
And Vaccines, we need a slew

I’m just a kid
What Can I Do?
Plant a big garden
Stay home all day
Wear a clean mask
Watch anime, anime anime

I’m Just A Kid
What Can I Do?
Baking classes
Food drives
Help Neighbors
Make pizza

I’m Just A Kid
That’s what I’ll do

Downtown Ramada Denver
Jana Tzanakos

Hello my name is Jana Tzanakos. I have three dogs. I am currently a fourth year English student at Mount Royal University.

Downtown Ramada Denver

I step out of the elevator into the lobby, kiss him softly

A man sucks on a woman’s nipple outside the window

I stand watching from the room they cannot afford

I watch for a few moments, how can I not

Privacy comes with a cost, and for what it’s worth

the toilet in my room overflowed anyhow

out in the sun, I light a cigarette

my lips rounded, sucking chemical

a nipple would be healthier

I tiptoe over a puke stained sidewalk

Hear a whistle to compliment my femininity 

Dirty, my shoes need to be put in the wash

Walk a mile, find coffee for the two of us

We are tired from a long night in privacy

Say hello to the woman who has put away her nipple

No sorry, I do not have any change

I tried to change I tell her But parts of me are still the same

She smiles, nods, goes back to kissing on the puke stained sidewalk

later in our room, I direct his lips to my nipple

we can all learn something from each other

we are more alike than we tell our ourselves

we are more alike than we tell ourselves

we can all learn something from each other

later on the sidewalk, I direct his lips to my nipple

She smiles, nods, goes back to kissing in the hotel lobby

I tried to change I tell her But parts of me are still the same

No sorry, I do not have any change

Say hello to the woman in a button up jacket

We are tired from a night on the streets

Walk a mile, find coffee for the two of us

Dirty, my shoes need to be put in the wash

Hear a whistle to compliment my femininity

I tiptoe over a puke stained sidewalk

a nipple would be healthier

her lips rounded, sucking chemical

out in the sun, she lights a cigarette

The two complain that the toilet in their room overflowed

Privacy comes with a cost, and for what it’s worth

She watches me for a few moments, how could she not

We make eye contact through an act she cannot socially afford

The man sucks my nipple as she watches through the window

Step into the sunlight, let her watch, kiss him softly

Someday this will all make sense
Kendall Bistretzan

Kendall Bistretzan was born and raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and now resides in Calgary, Alberta where she will spend the summer working as a full-time investigative reporter and a part-time barista.

Someday this will all make sense.

When I was fifteen, my best friend wanted to die.

And I did not know.

I could not see his hurt because I never wanted it to be there in the first place. A boy whose eyes once radiated warmth, whose smile offered solace, had become the vacant shell of a not-quite man; a boy I didn’t recognize, and I said nothing.

Because I am a coward.

Because I wanted it to go away.

Because I feared death

And he feared life.

But he, ever the warrior, would do the impossible. He would start by surviving, and then he would begin to live, and after a whirlwind of adolescent euphoria and trauma alike he would blow out the candles on his 21st birthday cake.

But there are days of doubt. Weeks of isolation, where thoughts wander to the dark “what-ifs.” Glimpses of what could have been had he been as weak as I.

“What could I have done?” “Where were the signs?” “Did I kill him?” “No,” they say, “A choice is a choice,” and yet I made the choice to turn a blind eye while he filled up a bathtub and I made the choice to deafen myself with the static in the moments before the needle hits the first song on that first record for the last time, yet we lower the casket mourning his choice while daring to believe we could not have done more.

An empty chair. A smaller circle. Tears shed over a tragedy, over what could have been, but not the person that was.

The real world doesn’t stop when his heart does, but mine will never be the same again. I am dead on departure; cold and despondent, buried and mourned, thisis the price I pay for my ignorance. I lay but I do not sleep, tormented by a boy both deader stronger than I, and as my burning eyes draw to a fruitless close, I allow myself a moment to turn back the clock.

We are fifteen and nothing is forever.

We are fifteen and our future is marked with insurmountable potential.

I have seen it dear friend, I have lived it, and it’s only living when we take our bows together at our sold-out senior production, it’s only living from the passenger seat of midnight drives when you’re behind the wheel, it’s only living when bright-green car is in our high school parking lot half an hour before anyone else’s because the view of the sunrise from the window adjacent to our lockers is too beautiful for either of us to miss. Live with me, and if that’s too much to ask, simply live, and we’ll figure out the rest as we go.

We will march across a make-shift stage at the front of our high school’s stuffy gymnasium and grasp our diplomas, we will throw our caps in the air as if they could reach the moon, because anything will be possible. You will be a musician, an activist, a fucking warrior. You will tell your story, unashamed, because there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Take my hand,

Take it now

So we can walk this road together.

And when we reach our destination, I promise this will all make sense.

My station
Terry Mullane

I am a retired engineer and started writing poetry about 2019. Since then, I have self published two books of poetry. I enjoy writing poetry!

My station

The train’s black soot

Tobacco pipe drippings

Coated the country

A garotte

A stitched black scar

Picked raw

On its incessant

Tight schedule

To unload hope

And money scams

I had no plan

No poster destination

For now

I preferred to be alone

Holding on to my despair

Despite hunger

And my bones rattling

Upon the boxcar’s metal floor

She kept rocking me to sleep

Moving me down the line

Waking drifts

Intermittent dreams

Diffuse delirium

Of deities and golden harvests

Streaming through

An open sliding door

I was from nowhere

Going nowhere

An “end-of-the-line” default

Wishing someone

Would intervene

And give me

A name

A home

A station

To call my own.

They are listening
Kelly Kaur

Kelly’s works have been published in the International Human Rights Art Festival, Best Asian Stories 2020 and her first novel, Letters to Singapore, will be published by Stonehouse Publishing in Spring 2022.

They are listening

I have wandered aimlessly through the nooks and crannies of my lopsided houselaid on my arched back
etched histories on the ceiling

fervently prayed in the darknesssplattered words of hopeon beams that defiantly enclose me
these walls 
have earsstoring shameless secrets 
I zigzagfrom living room to dining roomfrom kitchen to bedroomback and forth a caged beast
some daysthese walls suffocate
like a madwomanI peel layers and layers of of interrupted lives
wordlesslyI erase life as I know it
I erase the warm embrace of strangersI erase the migration between continents
thisthis is all I have
my haven is my heaven
my heaven is my haven

I learned how to be a woman…
Sarah Micho

Sarah Micho is a university English studies major, currently based in Calgary, Alberta studying in her final year. As a forever student of life, her post-graduate plans include the time freedom to nourish her never-ending curiousity and continue to explore interests in poetry, writing, cultural criticism, fashion, arts and culture and global issues.

I learned how to be a woman in my family

To sequester my tongue in exchange for love

To fold into myself and offer obedience as gift

To withhold my sex as symbol of purity

In my family there is a wall

We do not talk about issues

We do not say the things that truly bother us

My siblings and I each live in our own worlds

Left unbothered like a ghostly presence in a house

We are strangers at times

Holidays lately have felt forced to uphold a sense of closeness

A sense of familiarity

At times I crave a different familiarity

A way of being that feels honest, raw and truthful

I am always in search of my truth

I am inheritor of my many truths

You see, my mother taught me how be a wife

Impounded into my head a constant shrill of cooking as a measurement of my worth

I grew up knowing all the wrong measurements to view my worth

My mother tells me I am growing into her beautiful

A carbon copy of her

Don’t we all fear emulating our mothers in adulthood?

She sees me as an extension of her personhood

My own person shrunk in favour of whichever mirror she chooses to look at

We come from a lineage of complex traumas

Like many

My journey here on Earth is to unlearn

To uncover who I was before I learned how to be a woman in my family

Beauty of a Word
Alisha Davison

Alisha Davison lives in Calgary, Alberta. She is an Honour’s Roll Student at Mount Royal University completing a Bachelor of Arts and pursuing Education in the future. She dedicated this poem to her late Grandfather, Charlie. R. Mingo.

Eating the sky
June Read

Proud to be one of the seven Magpie Haiku and Tanka poets here in Calgary – working on our 2nd anthology. Additionally, I chair the THIRD ACTion film festival

Eating the sky

park swing lifts

higher and higher

each push releases

a wider smile

with his mouth wide open

he declares

“Today, I’m eating the sky”

So you don’t know my name
E. Melanie Watt

E. Melanie Watt, Ph.D. is a Calgary author of multiple science-based books and articles for adults and children.

So you don’t know my name

So you don’t know my name

But you know that I love you

So you can’t get the words out

But you can take much in

So you can’t give advice

But you can hug with comfort

So you can’t find your way home

But you know when you’re here

So you don’t know my name

But I know that you love me

Brutal beginnings
Daniella Snyders-Blok

Daniella Snyders-Blok is a grade 12 student performer and writer at Saint Francis High School. You can find her drinking tea, indulging in a late night Reese’s Pieces and writing her un-published book called The Nothings. In the fall, she will be attending the University of Victoria to double major in Writing and Theatre.

Brutal Beginnings

I saw a house on the corner, sculpted by the hands of the sky

Owned by a girl, no older than 13, skin as shiny as moonstone

Smile so light that I could see the feathers sprouting from the creases of her cheeks

Hair shining, as swift as the water moving in a river bed

Mirrors of the deep sea, lost and long

People saw her beauty, the flower of a rose

But nobody saw the thorns winding their way around her heart

Or the words slithering down the base of her spin, leaving scathed ruins wherever they walked

A house, empty except for the mouse

The only one who was around, the only one who did anything

Her mother, single and so desperate for love that she would live with a stranger and leave her child home


An empty fridge just like the heart ripping itself into pieces slowly tearing off each layer until all that is left are the petals of expectation and fear

But there is nowhere to hide

Depression lingers like a shadow, threaded pins and needles to your feet until the mere ground you walk on turns against you

All of a sudden you are upside down, drowning in the very air that keeps you alive

Anywhere she goes, the permanent scars left on her heart remains scathed

But home is a safe haven from the violent chains reaching for her throat

School is a cascade of words that sink into your head, planting weeds inside your mind until there are no nutrients left to bloom

The waves of words forcing their way down your throat, cramming disease after disease

Until those tears have cried all they can cry and those pretty little glass eyes shatter and you go blind

But when you’re buried under the earth, you’ve actually been planted

Every plant feels the crushing weight of the world before it breaks the surface and sees the sun

Every glowstick must break before it can shine

And the snow falls for what seems like ever before it hits the earth and melts away

And when you run out of tears to cry, you can open your eyes

Water breaks rock after years of pushing and ridicule

But its persistence is what breaks it through

So, I dare you to try

I dare you to dance in the rain and let it soak you through, because when the storm passes you will always find your rainbow

And I dare you to hold on until the darkest part of night so that you can look up and see the stars

And I dare you to put down the book you’re reading and pick up a pencil because any second of the day, you can write your own story I dare you to try, because every chapter of your life will start with a brutal beginning

Spring comes a garden
Kerrie Penney

Kerrie Penney writes poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction.
She won the 2020 Funny Pearls competition for her quirky short Buffalo Glue. Her work has also appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Calgary Herald and blue buffalo.

Spring comes a garden

Audrey and I bury our sins

on a spring day

she knows before I do

the truth of the seasons

reasons, reminds me

it’s the same blue sky

even bluer now

in winter.

next thing you know we’ll be sweating in the garden

I read the card / her sweet note

hits a chord/for a moment


on this darkest of days / and nights

and drinking

anxious and aching/ still sinking

I remember the garden

on our knees we dig

pulling and planting

and pleased.

Compost, rich and warm

last year’s garbage transformed

I did nothing, but turn it

a little water, and wait

I learned it from her

aerate, rotate.

now hot tears

addictions and fears

we both struggle

even without this pox upon us.

And the squirrels / such bad manners,

I throw a rock/ Audrey scolds

she’s good for me that way

sings of sticks and stones

and bones

all this I remember

while outside, skeleton trees

wave brittle arms

and still the squirrels scrabble

babble/ hard frost

longing and lost.

Write a song she suggests

for your longing

and grieving

it’s lighter now in the evening

and soon we’ll be sipping

marigold tea

A confusing construction
Katharine Barrette

I’m a Librarian at MRU. I’m maybe-trying-to -find-my-way-back-to-writing after a number of years and lives lived. Right now poetry makes the world feel like a more hopeful place.

A confusing construction

Tu manques a moi, tu manques

de moi…

a confusing construction; “If A is missing to Z”, if “Z is missing from A”, as it is in my second language

it feels somehow more accurate, precise, in how the tus, the you’s the a’s and z’s and faces and voices and moments

are missing to me, from me.

Speaking in a room filled with colleagues and not hearing my own voice

Pulling open the heavy steel door of the warm bar filled with laughter and gestures and searching faces

for the ones that make a smile break across my face

Walking to the crest of the hill, holding small hands and looking out over everything laughing

Singing loudly to the music in the car on my way to somewhere:

to work

to a home

to a party

to walk

to a store

to meet a friend for a drink

to an appointment I’m nervous I’ll be late to, with no time to pay for parking.

The imbrication of all of these

layered and interlocking pieces of my days

of the things missing from me

are rubbed away slowly across hours and days and weeks and months

Smoothed out and slippery,

tous les choses qui manquent, the things missing to me, from me;

it is a confusing construction indeed.

Sally Njoroge

Sally Njoroge, also known as DJ Okast is a Kenyan born artist who is riding through the waves of life in Mohkinstsis/Calgary. Sally’s goal in poetry and music is to bring people together and make sense of this crazy beautiful life we are living. She enjoys exploring ideas around identity, family, nature and spirituality.


From the moment we come into this world we are met with nurturing hands.

We do not choose to be born but somewhere along the way we must decide to live.

The point is to see what we become.

We are not concrete, we are not meant to stay put in one place until we crack. 

We are air, and we are water, fluid in every sense possible.

And even when we are deprived of energy we still rise up every morning and we become


And in the new day,

we look forward but we are led by more than just our sight,

because we know the horizon is an illusion to our eyes.

So our duty is to keep on moving,

to grow, and see our fruits make a home for us.

Our beings are filled with mystery and uncertainty

but equally a ministry of agility, with depths we have yet to explore.

We are constellations, and compilations of good and bad songs,

the choice is ours to find what we want to live for.

Meet your heart with the awe of a creator.

Concern yourself with the act of labour.

An idle mind will get you no where.

It has been written,

you do not just wake up and become a butterfly.

Adapting is the light without an end because we are always becoming.

Guard your spirit, and let it remain unbreakable.

Living is letting all this organized chaos shine within this fragile shrine we call life.

And the next time we ask,

what is the point to all of this? 

Remember we are all artists,

and we are always in the process of creating,

always in the process of making mistakes,

and always in the process of learning something new each day.

So live in joy, knowing each season comes with a new canvas.

Cast out your regrets and celebrate the skills you’ve cultivated.

Ride against your fears and let your curiosity led you to understand this…

life is filled with possibilities, and if we just keep moving forward, we will be compensated.

Days of quarantine & fineness
Laurie Anne Fuhr

Laurie Anne Fuhr, multimodal poet and songwriter, is the author of night flying (Frontenac House 2018) and a poetry instructor. She will launch a new open mic in 2021 called ASCEND with focus on transcending racism, phobia, ageism, ableism, addiction, and abuse.

Days of quarantine & fineness

it doesn’t matter

if you’re knotting macrame,

experimenting with new flavours

for your Soda Stream (raspberry & lime – ooh!),

baking sourdough or leaving that to newbies

while you dig your hands in tough, dark

pumpernickel dough,

stitching a needlepoint

of a schnauzer

in a polka-dot bowtie,

placing diamond stars

in a velvet sky

with tweezers,

painting a whitetail deer

by number

(just a little outside the lines)

or identifying the Birds of Alberta,

fine-dining at your impressive

collection of feeders—

or if all your home activities

blur into one vague,

lovely, indelible impression:

there are many fine things

all through the day,

many love songs to sing,

a wonderful


to laugh with,

so many reasons

to be happy,

to not lose hope.

Through your eyes
Josie Charlene Veness

Josie Charlene Veness is an Aquarian witch that writes through love, hardships, and believes that poetry is the best form of therapy.

Through your eyes

When I saw the happiness

in myself through your eyes

I almost didn’t believe it.

Because you made me see

something I forgot could exist.

Something I forgot existed

in such a calm capacity.

Like I was so blinded before

by the franticness of what and

where I thought I was going.

And by what I thought

and felt I wanted.

Until I saw the happiness

in myself through your eyes.

Like for the first time,

I was loving without agony.

I was loving without fight.

I was loving without question.

Because you let me do exactly that.

And when I express how I feel

you don’t leave me with questions.

I used to think that love was a question.

Is it real?

Can it be real?

Will I have it?

Will I ever know it?

When I’ve never known it

to look like anything beyond

the questions that come from the doubt.

And not knowing your own worth

enough to even recognize the differences.

Like I’ve been in this constant battle

of acceptance or of rejection.

Like there were so many rules

and timelines on feelings

of expression and of pace.

But then you happened

and this happened

and my happiness surprised me.

You surprised me.

You were so sure and that

meant that I could be too.

And that surprised me because

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared space

between bodies where it was safe

to be sure and to feel sure.

But this somehow became the space

and the in between that makes me whole.

That makes us whole and you didn’t just

understand that, you understood.

Like you had been through just

enough to be there for me and

by going through that you could

help me overcome these fears.

It’s amazing to meet someone

that is on the same page of healing

and continuing to do so.

And to meet one another in a place

that we can flip the next pages together

makes me feel the exact happiness

that I see in myself through your eyes.

Do not doubt the will of life
Christine Pendleton

Christine Pendleton is a General Science student at Mount Royal University. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, gardening and writing

Do not doubt the will of life.

Just be with the Earth in Her state

As all is intertwined with Her fate

Do not doubt the will of life

Even in the midst of peril and strife

When all may seem dead and gone

Or twisted and turned from the natural dawn

A simple seed will wait for its right condition

The breath of strength through nature’s selection

The sovereign Earth and Her manifestations

Draw from the cosmos energetic transmutations

Align yourselves with the Earth and Her forces

Listen well to what the inner core says