Amy’s Editor Fave: “Dreams of Blue Roses” by Maddy Robinson

Good evening! We hope you got a chance to enjoy the sun today, and now that it’s getting later and darker (well, almost darker– it will be darker by the time you come in from outside and read this) we have the perfect feature for you. This story is our Editor-in-Chief Amy LeBlanc’s fave pick, and if you came to our launch a few weeks ago you heard an excerpt of it read.

Maddy Robinson, the author of “Dreams of Blue Roses,” is an English undergrad at the UofC who wants a bunch of cats and maybe also a house when she grows up. She likes feather pens, unripe bananas, and indoor plumbing, she loves reading and writing and windy days and finally, run-on sentences. And sentence fragments.

(Note: the ” * ” indicate a really neat progression of the phases of the moon that I, being a techno-peasant, cannot replicate. The first is pictured in the image below. We recommend you check out Issue 21 for full impact)



The Dreamcatcher slid in through the window and sat on the edge of the bed. Melanie slept with the window open, and the breeze stirred thoughts around her room. Hamlet is missing hit the Dreamcatcher first; it smelled like dog. Next was the letter of resignation from the library, effective immediately.

But no Melanie; she did not sleep tonight. Her bed was empty, and swing set in dad’s backyard drifted up from the pillowcase. On her way out, the Dreamcatcher caught staccato details from a grocery list, eggs, detergent, dog food, don’t forget milk.


Outside, the cold November sting. The Dreamcatcher felt nothing, slipping into houses along the street, catching dreams of bumble bees in the rainforest and pinball games and her personal favourite of the night, a dream where everyone was bald. She moved down the street, passing a poster for a missing dog, its corners flipping in the wind.


Floating through Melanie’s window, the Dreamcatcher returned, but she received only stray thoughts from the pile of blankets on the bed: . . . broken sink drain . . . it’s too hot . . . blue roses . . .

The Dreamcatcher experienced too many nightmares to dread reality, but she worried because Melanie worried. Insecurities hung, ugly and silly and she loves me not all braided together. The thoughts gave the Dreamcatcher her own insecurities; it was her job to catch these nightmares, take them away, so Melanie could sleep in peace.

The Dreamcatcher heard a rustle, shuffling upstairs, and she slipped through the door like a needle through felt. She flew up the stairs and settled herself on the far side of Melanie’s couch.

A pot of warm milk steamed away on the stovetop. When the Dreamcatcher flew Melanie heard the sound of fluttering pages, but when she turned she saw nobody in her house, and the Dreamcatcher caught a whiff of unease. She usually liked to spook people. Dreams, like art, were meant to disturb the comforted and comfort the disturbed, though Melanie did not need the disturbance tonight.

Melanie sat on the opposite end of the couch, balancing a mug of milk and her paperback. When she began to nod off the Dreamcatcher moved the mug to the coffee table. And waited.

Nothing. No dreams, no nightmares. The Dreamcatcher felt something floral sweep by, something too alive for autumn, but she could not quite place it. But besides deep breathing, she could sense nothing.

She left before morning.


Melanie had fled the house. The window was shut snug; the Dreamcatcher came in through the wall.

Too many dreams packed the mind, dense, made it impossible to function. The Dreamcatcher would always leave a dream or two for contemplation, food for thought, but this made her nervous. And yet . . . she did not feel a blockage. She could reach into Melanie’s consciousness and swirl it like melted ice cream, but now the bowl was empty. Almost empty. Blue roses . . . Hamlet . . .

Nervousness. When was the last time the Dreamcatcher felt it? She knew Melanie, almost; she liked her dreams the best. Always a grab-bag, always creative. Had the Dreamcatcher spooked her one day, accidentally, making her think the house haunted?

The Dreamcatcher lay in Melanie’s bed and focused. Here she could read the pillow like a novel, thoughts overlapping like pages in a tome, dozens of them, remnants of dreams past. . . . tower with dolphins jumping out of the waves . . . Peter will fire me if I don’t wear black . . . she loves me not . . . thank god she found Hamlet . . . my house is my house but it’s different, we’re on TV . . . blue roses . . . why did the chicken cross the road? To get to grandma’s house . . . That last one had been coming up since childhood. The Dreamcatcher allowed it a cameo some nights, just for nostalgia’s sake. . . . we’re at the carnival and Diana hit the hammer and it made it to the top and she got a big purple balloon for a prize . . .

The Dreamcatcher collected ideas so much so that she forgot what it felt like to have one of her own. But her entire existence rested on intuition; the floral scent from the thoughts caught her attention like a piece of jewellery catching on hair. Like a child tugging at a parent’s clothing. Pay attention to me.

She travelled upstairs with her idea. The fridge meditated a baritone ‘ohm.’ The TV flashed muted pictures that bounced off the wine decanter on the windowsill nearby. A bunch of blue roses poked out of it, flocked by baby’s breath.

The Dreamcatcher could smell the roses, see the smile, feel the laughter. She slipped through the walls of Melanie’s house into the street, following the scent and the feelings with it. Blue roses . . . she loves me not . . . blue roses . . .

People nearby dreamed childish dreams, the banker becoming a romantic, the seamstress becoming a neorealist, the student knowing spiritual reckoning like the toll of a bell. And the Dreamcatcher let them have this night; they would blame it on the full moon in the morning. She followed the trail to an apartment out of her usual jurisdiction, occasionally seeing a blue petal litter the street. . . . she loves me . . . she loves me not . . .

In the apartment Hamlet dozed on the floor. If he were awake he would have seen a figure shimmering like a silver lining in the room, but he dreamed of dancing with rabbits. The Dreamcatcher walked towards the bedroom, silent, and peered inside.

Melanie’s arms haphazardly laced with someone else’s in the bed, a girl the Dreamcatcher recognized from the drafts of a thought. And she definitely dreamed; oh yes, dreamed of wind turbines buzzing in her heart while her and Diana collected frogs on a beach somewhere. She smelled coffee and saw the too-bright petals of blue roses being handed over in a bouquet. She heard a phone ringing, a call to pick up a lost dog. She did not sense, she saw, and smelled, and heard, in a very human way.

The Dreamcatcher could not take Melanie’s dreams simply because they belonged to someone else now. She saw petals on the floor and felt the meaning attached to each one . . . she loves me . . . she loves me not . . . she loves me . . . she loves me not . . . she loves me . . .?

The heartache the Dreamcatcher felt changed her mind. Forget about catching dreams; she needed to paint her own. The wind rustled through the window and the Dreamcatcher knew it was time to go.

She climbed up on the windowsill and flew, morning light cresting the city, birds singing their aubades in their trees. She flew on the updrafts of the wind, catching dreams and leaves and thoughts and a stray blue petal that twirled off the windowsill and into her hand.

Yes, the Dreamcatcher thought, she loves you.



Upcoming: Editor Faves

Hello! Sorry it’s been a while, we’ve been busy behind the scenes with relaxing after our awesome launch at Shelf Life Books. But not to worry, we aren’t going anywhere– we’re in the middle of figuring out the restructuring of our editing team (because, alas, some of us are graduating and cannot continue to be part of such a fun magazine) but we will keep you in the loop on where we are with that (so far, we’ve decided we should think on it).

In the meantime, we’re going to be launching our “Editor Faves” from Issue 21. If you were around in January, then you know about our “Snippets” from Issue 20. This is pretty much the same deal, but instead of jointly deciding which pieces to feature on our blog, each editor is picking one to share with you– that way you can get a feel for what we like and also get to check out some super cool work! We’re launching our first Editor Fave tomorrow, so get ready 🙂

Issue 21 Launch Preparation

Okay, here’s the low-downfor if you haven’t ever been to one of our launches before:

  1. Have a bath. Preferably with a bath bomb, salts, or bubbles. And a cat, you have permission to borrow your neighbour’s if you are lacking a cat.
  2. Read a book of poetry. A whole book. Preferably from a local-ish poet. (Image below is to help visualize steps 1 & 2. Poem courtesy of Robert Kroetsch’s collection “Too Bad: Sketches Toward a Self-Portrait”)
  3. Drink half a bottle of wine (or a full bottle–we won’t judge)
  4. Realise you’re late for the launch
  5. Throw on whatever clothes you have closest to you
  6. Forget to dry your hair
  7. Come down to Shelf Life Books


Alternatively, if you are just getting off of work (or hate baths, cats, and poetry–wait, are you a real person?) you can just swing by Shelf Life Books at 7pm to hear some awesome readers featured in Issue 21 and/or on this blog!

Issue 21 Launch Party at Shelf Life Books

Good afternoon everyone! Just a quick note to remind you that today is the day–we are launching our beautiful Issue 21 at Shelf Life Books in Calgary at 7pm tonight! (Be there or be square!).

Also, how about a shout-out to Shelf Life? Aren’t they fantastic for hosting us? If you don’t know, we have our launch party at a different venue for each Issue, just to make it special, and this launch is at Shelf Life.

Shelf Life is a cute book store in Calgary on 4th street and 13th ave SW. They regularly host magazine launches (like ours! and filling Station’s, which is next week, May 3rd) and book launches. Actually, they have cool events all the time. Check out their Facebook page for more info: . If you’re in Calgary you should probably check them out (and if you’re not in Calgary then you need to ask yourself why you aren’t here). Here’s a link to Shelf Life Books’s website: and if you’re on Instagram you should follow them because they post pictures of books and a really cute dog. Anyway, hope to see you in a few hours!

“A Short Account of the Myrtle Chicken’s Terror” by Ethan Vilu

Good morning! This is the home stretch–our Issue 21 launch is TOMORROW at Shelf Life Books! And here is our last teaser for this issue–if you want more you should come check out the readings at our launch tomorrow.

This piece is by Ethan Vilu, an undergrad at the University of Toronto who studies Christian History and East Asian Studies. Their poetry has been published in Peculiar Mormyrid and The Trinity Review. Originally from Calgary, their time is evenly split between Southern Ontario and Alberta.

A Short Account of the Myrtle Chicken’s Terror

Deep in the cavernous depths of the forest, under the verdant carpet of ferns and towering conifers, a myrtle chicken ran sprinting across the moss. Ducking under logs and other deadfall that was strewn across the forest floor, he knocked the caps off of some polypore mushrooms as he moved quickly towards a nearby clearing. Everything in the forest, as far as the chicken could see or could even conceive, was resplendent in green, in all shades of green imaginable – it was a vast altar, an eden of leaves and spores that the myrtle chicken ran through, going on and on through the deep, primeval veil.


Off in the distance, barely audible to the one who was myrtle, two other chickens were moving with powerful focus towards the same clearing – one of them was the color of asparagus, and the other was a green that was as dark as a rainforest midnight. Running swiftly through the interwoven devil’s club and ferns which formed the underbrush, they passed over divots and rises in the earth in their determined pursuit of the coming open space. Sunlight shone through the spruces and the pines, whose needles were a green which spoke to endless eons, and to endless rebirth and life – and the chickens moved as if in a sea of green embodied.


As the three chickens – those of myrtle, of asparagus and of midnight – advanced at last upon the clearing, they were joined at all sides by chickens in all shades of green which may be known by the mind. There were chickens in endless variants of spring and early summer, and chickens the color of a manicured lawn; there were chickens who were like limes and bright green apples in their plumage, and there were chickens like avocados and olives fresh from the tree. There were chickens like shamrocks and seaweed and mint, and like all manner of leaves in the world; there was even a chicken whose green feathers could only be described as neon, and a chicken who shone bright as a priceless emerald. All of these birds converged as one upon the forest clearing, and together they found immediate, primal, beatific ecstasy, for they were the consciousness of green itself.


And they ran. They ran as the living movement of that embodiment across the floor of the forest, through the lush, imminent trees that were as tall as the sky, through the endless waves and manifestations of the undergrowth which moved out towards eternity. They ran and they ran, accelerating as they moved through the verdancy, and together they raised a call, quiet at first but soon radiating piercingly through all parts of the forest. With this movement and sound, the green chickens spoke to a joy unimaginable to us in its scope, a joy of perpetual, final simplicity, of all of the shades in full consonance with the universe. A joy which should have gone on forever, should have destroyed any feeble sense of time itself, but which instead came to a screeching, skidding, tumbling, heart-shattering halt at an unexpected drop in the ground.


For in their euphoric movement through the forest, the green chickens had come upon a lake, and the lake was blue.


It was unambiguously blue.
It was, without qualification, a deep, radiant, and unreserved shade of blue.


And the chickens, in a moment, like the snuffing of a candle, lost everything that was theirs.  All that they’d had, and all that they’d known, disappeared into that lake of water and sapphires, of blueberries and cornflowers and oceans of never-ending depth.They stood at the banks, and all of them were silent. All of them, except for the myrtle chicken – who, after a time, let out a cry which reverberates with us to this day, a scream throughout the vanishing ages, a lone, terrorized wail.

“Aboris” by Allison Keizer

Good Afternoon! As promised, here’s our last poetry teaser for Issue 21!

Allison Keizer has both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education from the UofC, which makes sense as she is a passionate teacher, writer, and photographer. She strives to introduce her students to the magic of creative writing and enjoys incorporating her love of the outdoors into all her work. She has a poem series in Issue 21 where you can see all her interests work together!



static stains wind

deep carmine




on fingertips


gauzy and yawning

blurry zephyr





pulsus erythrean



canines wink




ebbs and summons

immersed in





sine fine




of nebula


unlit ocean


effervescence of





“ut domum” 

Back Issues & Issue 21 Launch

Good morning! The countdown is on– only 57 hours until we gather with you lovely people at Shelf Life Books! Can you believe it’s so close? And you haven’t even picked up our last issue yet (or you got that one but not the one before it) and you were really meaning to get a copy before Issue 21 came out. Don’t worry about it–we’ve all been there, and that’s why we have a handy-dandy online shop! You don’t need to stress about tracking us down in our office at the UofC campus (especially if you’re from out of town)–you can purchase a back issue right from this blog post!

Here’s the link to our online shop:

If you want a back issue this is the place to get it because we won’t be carrying copies with us to the launch of Thursday. The link is also available anytime through our “shop” link on this website (right next to our “mandate” and “submission” buttons).

nod pic.jpg


Artwork by Lissa McFarland

Good evening everyone! Only a few days until the launch of Issue 21, and to get you as excited about it as we are, we’re giving you a teaser a day! Tomorrow is poetry, Wednesday is prose, so that means today it’s some visuals!

Today’s work is by Lissa McFarland, an ACAD student who works in multiple mediums (ink, watercolour, print media, and digital media). Her work engages with narrative to encourage the viewer to interact with the piece and fill in the story. Other pieces by her will be featured in Issue 21 and as the cover (which appears on our blog home page right now!)



“Selections From Detour” by Sacha Archer

Hello! How’s your Saturday night going? In need of a pick-me-up? Or Inspiration? Are you three drinks in and considering becoming a philosopher? Good- a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to any/all of these questions means it’s time for you to read our latest Issue 21 teaser!

This is a conceptual piece by Canadian writer Sacha Archer. Sacha has received the P.K. Page Irwin Prize for his poetry and visual art in 2008, and in 2010 he participated in the Elise Partridge Mentor Program. You can check out other work by him in our past issues, as well as in filling Station, ACTA Victoriana, h&, illiterature, and Experiment-O. He has also published two chapbooks- Dishwashing Event, Part One: Tianjin, China (no press, 2016) and Dishwashing Event, Part Two: Ontario (Puddles of Sky Press, 2016). And you should be on the lookout for his forthcoming chapbooks- Acceleration of the Arbitrary (Grey Borders) and Detour [D-1] (Spacecraft Press).

Detour is a conceptual translation of the Dao De Jing. ‘Dao,’ in the context of the Dao De Jing, is traditionally translated as the ‘Way’. This can be understood as a path. With Detour, I sent the text of the Dao De Jing on a detour, passing it through a number of automatic internet translators. Each section, passed back and forth and through the translators, was translated (altered, progressively lost and/or found) 81 times (81 being an auspicious number, and also the number of sections in the text). While the resultant text is a very different animal than the original, I can’t help but feel there is a fidelity of intent embedded in it.


In this world, but I hope that you will have to be certificate. The world should not be a guide, use this tool will not be able to guess what it is not possible. *

* If you have found any weight * , are willing to neglect to a period of similar to change his pants, convened the density in determining products, all suppliers must withdraw. *

* In the Middle East, mentally handicapped and fear, and social trends. * Fixed flights and other currencies, or from his trousers and Peace Committee, must be paid before his disciples.


Parker died, does not recognize the government officials forklift. Protection of the king of sports. The aircraft did not know in the world, she, her husband, in this case, the knowledge of the Committee, for example, the banks of the river signal.

“Little Desert Flower” by Michael Lee Johnson

Good evening! Here’s your regularly scheduled Thursday post: a teaser for next week’s launch! Just a reminder that we launch Issue 21 next week at Shelf Life–we’re looking forward to seeing you there at 7pm! Here’s a short poem by Michael Lee Johnson to get you in the mood for our upcoming readings!

Little Desert Flower 

Out of this poem

grows a little desert flower.

it is blue sorrow

it waits for your return.

You escape so you must from me

refuge, folded, wrapped in cool spring rain leaves-

avoiding July, August heat.

South wind hellfire burns memories within you,

branded I tattoo you, leave my mark,

in rose barren fields fueled with burned and desert stubble.

Yet I wait here, a loyal believer throat raw in thirst.

I wrest thunder gods gathering ritual-prayer rain.

It is lonely here grit, tears rub my eyes without relief.

Yet I catch myself loafing away in the wind waiting fate

to whisper those tiny messages

writer of this storm welded wings,

I go unnoticed but the burned eyes of red-tailed hawk

pinch of hope, sheltered by the doves.

I tip a toast to quench your thirst,

one shot of Tequila my little, purple, desert flower.