“Should’ve Been a Cowboy” Neshan Tung

Good Evening! (Good Morning?) This teaser goes out to everyone who’s drowning their sorrows about finals (essays and exams) in too many vices and have yet to go to sleep, those of you who are ignoring said essays and finals, and to everyone else out there (awake or asleep). You do you, and we’ll keep doing this!

This teaser is a visual by Neshan Tung, who has two other pieces that will be featured in Issue 21!



“A Mata Hari Ripe for a Poem” Katherine Holm

Hello, sorry about being a little late with this teaser. You know those days when your homework is glaring at you and you really should just get it done, but instead you decide to go for a hike in the mountains (far, far away from your computer), and when you get back home you decide to have a bottle of wine to further avoid your homework? Well, that may or may not have happened, and that may or may not be why yesterday’s post didn’t happen until now. But it’s not all bad– now you get a post today, and another one tomorrow!

Today’s teaser is by Katherine Holm, a poet and emerging theater artist in Calgary. She is a drama graduate student at the university of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts, with a specialization in Theater Studies. For her interdisciplinary MFA thesis, Katherine is studying artistic responses to landscape.

A Mata Hari Ripe For A Poem

A Mata Hari ripe for a poem—

she is the essence

glory bound and unyielding,

forthcoming with her body,

a connecting element

dissevered from the greater picture.

The mutinous harmony

of her delicate veins,

the fleshy enemy

swollen and paranoid

from imbibing the impossible rules

that govern her beauty.

Decreed by the feeble-minded

she disobeys her figure and she breaks her form,

her constitution extending as far as it will go.

Primal fear is fused,

her blood coagulating,

following the perfect symmetry

of reckless dancing.

Her lungs are expanding

dropping wet pearls over soft skin,

she is open to the call

and to the impossible tenderness of straying limbs.

A Mata Hari ripe for a reverie—

an enigma, a fury, a contradiction

bundled tightly into a spiralling coil of energy.

She melts like hot wax

dramatically declared dead, red

with spiral spun palms facing up,

raised to a tapestry sky

tangled with the threads of an exquisite dream.

“Brains” Dan Dorman

Our first Teaser is from Dan Dorman! [Dan Dorman is not a human fish. Dan Dorman breathes air and star stuff. Dan Dorman enjoys poetry and birds who sing.]



Upcoming: Teasers!

With our Issue 21 launch just around the corner we’re going to be doing things a little differently. We’re done with our Issue 20 snippets, so if you want to read more from our Rebirth Issue you’re going to have to pick up a hard copy (oh no, a beautifully bound magazine with colour images and bursting with creative works that’s easy to carry around and read at any time, what a hardship!). Instead of our regular Snippets, Editor Features, and Interviews, we will only be posting Teasers for the upcoming Issue (we know, this change is difficult to adjust to, that’s why we’re giving you three Teasers a week instead of our usual two posts). These Teasers didn’t quite make it into Issue 21, but we couldn’t not share them with you!


Issue 21 Launch Details!

Hello! Are you excited for Issue 21? We are, and we’d love if you can join us! It’s happening April 27 (in 24 days!) at Shelf Life Books. It’s a Thursday and it’s after final exams at the UofC, so you have no excuse not to join us. We start at 7pm and have some lovely readers and a musician lined up to celebrate this launch!Nod Launch Pic.jpg

Editor Feature: Allison Iriye

Good Morning! Monday’s snippet was late enough to enjoy at the end of your day, so today’s Editor Feature is early enough to enjoy before work or school (and if you’re already at work or school you can take a break–you deserve it). Allison Iriye is a contributing editor for our team and studies crime and monkeys (not crime committed by monkeys). Take a read of her poem (it’s short and sweet)!


What if the earth’s creator

is the Devil, not god.

What if we all go

to Hell when we die.

What if it’s more like

the heaven we were promised.

What if when we get there,

the Devil takes us into

a comforting, warming embrace and


“I am so sorry you lived through that.”

“Her Red Shirt in Stormy Weather” Ian Chua

Good evening! Instead of interrupting your busy Monday with our weekly snippet we’ve decided to give you a bit of a longer read–one you can enjoy with a glass or wine or mug of tea after dinner (unless you eat really late, then before dinner? Who eats dinner around nine on a Monday? Don’t you have to get some sleep? We should all get some sleep, but first, let’s read this snippet).

Her Red Shirt in Stormy Weather

He leans on his desk, both his hands supporting his weight. He’s dressed formally like a therapist would, but his face is hidden behind a fox mask. The mask radiates with various colors, but its eyeholes were starkly black. I see and therefore know about the dark of his eyes, but I haven’t the slightest clue of its depths. I don’t know what it is that’s looking back at me. I don’t know how much it sees.

“Sit,” he says—and I (eventually) do.

I’ve gone through several therapists already, each of them being essentially similar in how they charge so much, even if all they do is ask you how you feel about something. I can pay a homeless man five cents and have him ask me the same questions. He might do a backflip as a bonus. Therapists won’t even give me a complimentary high five.

“Why am I here?” I say. It’s a rhetorical question because I know exactly why I’m sitting in this cramped office, facing the world’s worst therapist with his dumb mask. That’s what they call him: the world’s worst therapist.

If you were to ask how he got that name, you’d get different answers from different people.

Some may say it’s because of his snarky attitude. Perhaps some would say that it’s because no one knows anything about him. These two things eventually led to his global fame. I know some people say he’s an enigma of sorts in that no one knows how he ticks or if he really does at all. Others—including me—might simply say that it’s due to how much he charges per session.

My mother paid a thousand dollars for today’s session. My gaze was on her tattered shoes when I told her I wasn’t worth the money. I never looked at her, but I bet her response was the same quiet smile she always gave me.

“That’s a good question,” says my therapist. His raspy voice is filtered through his mask, but his words are so surprisingly clear that I have no trouble understanding him. “Simple question,” he continues. “It’s so simple, in fact, that I’m sure you already know the answer. You’re just asking me to spite me. But let me answer your simple question with another simple question; do you think you need help?”

I bite my tongue. This costly session came at my mother’s expense. I think I should at least try to be nice.

Still, I don’t need help, and, in fact, I never thought I did.

My alcoholic father abused both my sister and me when we were children. On most days, he used his hands or maybe a belt, or sometimes my mother’s torn slippers. On Fridays, he used a monkey wrench, which either hit or pinched our flesh. He marked us with bruises that stacked weekly, none of which any amount of mother’s makeup could cover. So I lived my life in long sleeves and pants, masking my body, as well as my reluctance to sit down because it hurt to. When I was twelve, my selfish sister ran away from home and disappeared from our lives forever. She took with her none of the family pictures. Instead of memories, she took non-perishables and her clothes. She did leave one piece of clothing. She left her red t-shirt that still hung, by one clothespin, on the clothesline the night she left. She left her red t-shirt that still smells like her.

My father had to cope with abusing only me after she ran away. I was okay with it, honestly. I just would’ve preferred it if she didn’t leave traces of herself in the house. It was as if she had left her ghost, and each time I saw that red shirt wave in the wind, it was her flaunting her absence in front of the prisoners.

As I grew older, my father began to hit me less. We were both aging, but as I grew stronger, he grew weaker. I bet he was scared that I’d fight back. Since then, he grew a little tamer. He was still a pathetic drunkard, though.

On his drunkest nights, he would proclaim: “Alcohol is love, alcohol is love.” And maybe at first we laughed at how ridiculous he sounded—and looked, saying it—but one night my mother told him that the joke was getting old.

And he looked at her with his alcoholic eyes and said, “Alcohol is love. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. It even gets to the point where you lose yourself. But see, chances are you’ll wake up in the morning and say—shit.

“But you know what? We drink it anyway. It’s addicting.”

“I don’t need help,” I say.

My therapist just stands there, looking at me through the eyeholes of his mask. After a short moment of sheer silence, he pushes himself off his desk and walks to a nearby table. There, he pours a glass of red wine.

He holds the half full, half empty glass in front of me, and all I do is sit motionless.

“Doesn’t this glass look anything like you?” he asks.

I leer at him.

He then turns the glass upside down, pouring the liquid close enough to wet my shoes.

Now does it look like you?” he asks. “Colorless. Empty. You wouldn’t even bleed anymore if we were to break you.”

He smashes the glass at my feet, and I flinch. “Because you’re already broken,” he says.

“Let me ask you another question. It’s a simple question, really.

“Do you want help?”

Stop messing with me. I can’t answer you. Who gives you the right to change my normal?

I’ve never been outside the city, so all I really want is to travel. My grandfather was a sailor, and I respected him until he disappeared like my sister. There was this phrase he said when he came back from the seas, and my mother complained about the lack of presents.

He said, half laughing and half grumbling, “Seven untameable seas and a billion times

more insatiable souls.”

I wanted to sail the seas with him. Even if people didn’t like me, I’m sure the sea could.

Maybe one ride could’ve prevented my sister from running away. Maybe it would’ve rid the smell of iron. Maybe it could’ve washed the red off her shirt that hung on that stupid clothesline. Storm winds are strong, so someone take that shirt down before the wind claims it. One clothespin isn’t enough to keep it in place. Even if it’s my mother’s.

“We’re done here,” my therapist says. “Get out.”

I stand and turn. I open the door neither slowly nor quickly.

My eyes meet my mother’s, who had been waiting outside the whole time.

We walk, in silence, as the door behind me closes on its own.

Editor Feature: Allie McFarland

Hello hello! We know we did an Editor Feature last Thursday, but it’s just that time of the semester and the week ran away from us before we could do our regularly scheduled interview. If you were really looking forward to the interview, we’re sorry, and we’ll get our ducks in a row for the next interview week. (You weren’t really waiting for an interview, were you? Shouldn’t you be writing an essay or something? We know that’s what we’re busy doing). Anyway, here’s a poem from Allie, our managing editor (it’s short enough that you can take a break from your essay to read).


The world’s gotten too thick.

Our horizon stutters

shingled carmine, coquelicot.

Spun ink stains, tendrils

That accentuate, perpetuate, pervade.

A sense of cinnamon, cardamom,

crushed poppy petals

And just a dash of cloves.

Cirrus strands as spiders webs

stretch thin between buildings.

Strands of hair stick

to lips cracked into crevasses up cheekbones.

And then the clouds shift.

Pillars to mark an edge.

“Lyra I” and “Lyra II” Tasnuva Hayden

If you’re a student, you’re probably drowning in essays or mid-terms right about now (we know we are!) so we recommend taking a three minute break to read this week’s snippet. Here’s your weekly dose of Issue 20 by Tasnuva Hayden, a Calgary-based writer!

Lyra I

binary stars collapse eclipses

vibration strings discrepancy in Mercury’s orbit—

flawed Newton’s gravitation

Arctic mechanics and quantum winds

codify meta-energy mathematics

dead-tissue harmonics permeate every life form—

with the exception of Ginko Biloba

evolved from the Archeon of the Precambrian

four thousand million years past

a fractioned second past north, orchid petals gravitate

coughs up scant bearings

spins the compass needle to post-modern mass extinction

narwhals logarithmic-spiral towards the ocean floor

jaws heavy with decaying flesh

above the pressure of the frozen meniscus

radiant dragon tears evaporate past Vega

Lyra II

Lyra II.png

Editor Feature: Kirsten Cordingley

Hello! Just a quick reminder that tomorrow is the deadline for all submissions for Issue 21! Okay, now that that’s out of the way we can move on to our Editor Feature! This week we’re featuring Kirsten Cordingley, our Copy Editor. She is currently working on her BA in English (so not surprisingly, reading a good book is one of her favourite pastimes). Here are two poems by Kirsten!


A decrepit spine

of aging paper,

filled with lines

of squirming eels

along white skin

and yellow curves,

eating hors d’oeuvres

of flowery words.

Towering bark

holds their cases

and orders them by

their names and faces,

so reaching fingers

and curious eyes

can find their insight in

quotes and rhymes.




Little mugs with coffee and wasted crumbs,

Slow lilt of music and the echoing hum

Of soliloquies aimed outwards

Into the spicy space of caffeine fumes,

And burning toast with little room

To move our legs or fingertips,

But closely knit and brightly lit,

We spend our days with coffee cakes,

Creating symposiums in the air,

And we decorate with enticing stares,

Despite the bitterness on our tongues,

We stay to hide amongst the sugar lumps,

And sweet honey drops that stick to our elbows

That keep us there amidst the constant hellos.