Collusion Books logo white.png
 
 

Shelly Harder & Kevin Heslop

03/26/2020

 

                    A generation has died.

                                                                — The Guardian

     i.

                    our grand               pa               rents

                                                                 ordinary

                                                  surfaces

                                   touched with

                                                  news

     ii.

     needful               questions

                                   drive

                    you

                    mad

     iii.

     how long?

     iv.

                                   the waiting a ruin, 

                                                                 a doorknob 

                                                                 too sudden 

                                                                 to bear

     v.

     grandparents, heeded strictly, 

                                                                 are cathedrals

                                   from which ordinary 

                                   remorses

                                                  trickle

     vi.

     shall I have counted 

                                                                 the stones?

     vii.

     the cathedral in ruins, weeds

                    whisper

     viii.

     even doorknobs 

                                                                 whisper 

     ix.

                                   — live

Ryan Gibbs & Rhonda Melanson

Waiting

 

 

     i know 

     how many spaces

     to park a tsunami 

     self-isolation

     craved isolation

     from self

     from regrets

     standing on curb

     before freezing 

     for selfie

     visions of horsemen

     quarter me

     pain me

     back to life 

     with a tidal wave 

     under glass

     breaking in transit

Lindsay Crudele & nate greenslit

six feet

     first, taste, then breath, a test

                    i am sick, therefore i am possible

     guilty silence, i hum to hear

                    "i am" is an impossible side of peace

     bound by the body, whose

                    ends are always somebody else's trouble

     scatter the ashes of all my best recipes

                    can't you hear rats scratching to get inside?

     that chapel of our holy everything

                    cold, it's god down here!

     in a moment, it will be the same

                    clearly you've forgotten just whose flag it is you're burning

     dreams confined the color of lightning

                    i defy that suffering is anything but blame by another name

     lay your hands on the scythe between us

                    i can chant with the best of them

     call their ages like a lottery

                    have we been here before?

     i make what i lack

               it's hard to cover your tracks when you can't move

     i take the chance once given

 
 
 
 
 
 

Jenny Berkel & Síle Englert & Kevin Heslop

All the Wrong Ghosts

Live Here

 

 

 

     On one of his last evenings as himself, my brother

     leads me through the fairgrounds: the older sibling's

     job is to explain the fear of falling. He’s seventeen,

     we're both oblivious. It’s always autumn in the dream

     and months from now we'll find him vomiting tarantulas

     into an empty bucket in his lap until he falls asleep. 

     It's autumn and the carnival is brambles, weedy pavement, 

     lustrous sky, the creak of white carousel horses cracking 

     in October sun; a finger of warmth inside the scratches 

     left behind. Bumper cars like ampersands guided by chance 

     and circumstance in a threadbare ballet. He holds

     a strip of tickets like the keys to all salvation 

     and lurches towards a rusted, low-slung moon.

     Across the empty thoroughfare, no barker summons

     but his shadow burned in pinstripes on the ground 

     speaks for him, daring us to try our luck, 

     spin the wheel. Singing our future, the ghost of music 

     calls out a canticle in bells — the clink and jangle  

     clockwork of clanking gears. Sour piano strings stir still. 

     Somewhere tetrapods form and warp between mirrors

     in the funhouse. All the wrong ghosts live here:

     two tucked safe behind steel in the ferris wheel’s cart

     as the whinging round begins. Below, our world

     grows microscopic; the sky pulls us up and away.

     This gravity won't break us when we fall. My brother,

     ecstatic, watches my face fracture in the pulsing

     lights. In the dream it’s always autumn and how

     could we have known that everything would turn?

Atsushi Ikeda & Mac Vogt

Does it look

like a void to you

 

 

It’s like matter sits side by side through these screens. The mean window, our mixed conjectures. Puzzled ink like a finger tracing cold glass, cheek hit grating, weak to the suction and I am krill.

The paints mix. Days remembered when their distinction riddled us. A windowpane each. The cautious wondering of who else? could​ ​quietly receive a glance? this rain? The shared stutter of senses that made the pained blink telepathy.

 

Never a pure understanding. Knew what it’s like not to be you, and fuss around the edges ‘til. Some semblance repairs us, maybe a hole in the sweater, and here it comes: whose fingers combing the fabric, this cozy reality enrobed in? It was the fear of nakedness in a crowd.

 

Blinded us. The famed loneliness of, yes, even "I". When the, I think, tender teleology of having nothing to lose meant you clamped nightly. Useless teeth. All those dry faces sobbed hard for simple answers. Looking out is not enough, never.

 

It is this fear that pilots you . . . in the densely fraying dream that separates us at the seam that shed for each flash of life scoffed in the water, the thrashing fish. This vacuum is the thrumming sea. Do you see what I see? The distance fallen into? Each lonely thought gasping against the mesh.

Each hour widens the burgeoning net.

Paola Ferrante & Kate Finegan

Collective Stages of Grief

     Stage 1: Pretend the tree outside your window grows into foundation 

     of your neighbor's house, then you are in the circle 

     of your neighbor's rug, the immediate

     circle where you do not stay apart 

     two metres, do not count 

     the circles to see 

     that it’s a sapling, 

     so much time is 

     left.

     Stage 2: Boil twenty volumes of sap over open fire, reduce

     the time to walk a dog, stand in line, checkout

     in separate rooms for sleeping; morning

     without pancakes melts into days without 

     a shoulder for crying out loud; we want 

     to elbow onto rush-hour trains instead 

     of bumping elbows, get caught 

     in traffic, not inside ourselves. 

     We are up in arms 

     but can't be 

     held.

     Stage 3: If only we can go to the beach today tomorrow we'll form a human

     chain against the riptide. We'll give you toilet paper, wine for St. Sebastian, 

     ripples in the maple tree, if only for the timbre

     of a stranger’s voice, unwavering. Our bedsheet 

     tents hover, like childhood half-remembered. 

     We’ll be good if only 

     we can go outside 

     today. 

     Stage 4: When the clock stops, let it stay; don't move your hands to touch 

     the face. The tree is waving from your window. Your body is a wave 

     plunging into pounds of rice. Your body is a wave spilling into

     unwashed laundry. Sap spews out 

     from the kitchen sink. Your body 

     is part of a wave collapsing, 

     contained in six hundred 

     square feet of unswept 

     floor. 

     Stage 5: When nothing is left 

     tap roots, your toes dancing

     in your kitchen.

VII

Towers

     We temper each other.

     Perceived wisdom — practiced vanity

                    lost;

                                   communal sanity.

     We choose to unhinge, dissolve all 

     membranes — shut mouth against

     pursed lips and tongue bit

     iron                              iron                              iron

                                                                 break open

                    the boulder. It sits on precarious edge

     lowbush blueberries               twirling               noon-blanched bones

                    entreats mountain to send no more than birds

                    half-hatched, pink skin unfeathered.

     Gather the stones, swallow them whole.

     Make a cauldron to stew

     roil                              crack                              sprout

                                                  on this surface

     a new rupture —

                                   hold the edges close

     though every law pulls them apart.

                    Every gust of breeze, prying.

                    Feet stay firm, dream of uprooting.

                    Spine straightens, unfurls its wings. 

     Feathers shed on snowy ground.

     Swords still and               whistling               after battle. A crust 

     of speckled shit and white; an unburnt pyre pokes through

     eye                              haze                              sun’s corona

     a dance of unfathomable distance.

Conyer Clayton & Emilie Kneifel

the weight of cleanliness

     scraped of cells, wait—

     i want to not leave

     myself— but what can i trust 

     if not hands, sloughing

     me circular, fresh if 

     kept gentle, new— i can molt,

     i can gather as dusk does—

     but didn’t i learn to pick skin

     in the morning, rub dreams

     from the corners that 

     keep me

               

     morning my my, you weren't

     asleep, just cupping

     the slivers you ought 

     be letting— a function 

     of love to drop years 

     in the sink— didn't your 

     mother tell, spiralling,

     sunk

               

     can water bond a— we soak,

     you resurface, i— blame me

     before i can breathe

contributors

Artwork for Is It Less Lonely Like This by Angie QuickThe honour of theives (the gangbang) (11"x15", acrylic and oil pastel on paper, 2020), cocksure and riding in the clearing of my heart (the gangbang) (59"x78", oil pastel and acrylic on canvas, 2020), for love of a conman (the gangbang) (59"x78", oil pastel and acrylic on canvas, 2020), my injuries for today; all sport and luxury (the gangbang) (59"x78", oil pastel and acrylic on canvas, 2020), and The honour of theives ii (the gangbang) (11"x15", acrylic and oil pastel on paper, 2020).

"Towers" — VII is seven voices fused into one exquisite corpse: Manahil Bandukwala, Ellen Chang-Richardson, Conyer Clayton, nina jane drystek, Chris Johnson, Margo LaPierre, and Helen Robertson. Based on the belief that seven minds are better than one and that many ideas make joyous chorus, we say: We are I and I is VII. Formed in March 2020, VII is based in Ottawa, Ontario, the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg.

"Collective Stages of Grief" — Paola Ferrante's collection, What to Wear When Surviving A Lion Attack, was published in 2019 by Mansfield Press. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in PRISM International, The /temz/ Review, Grain, CV2, and elsewhere. She won The New Quarterly's 2019 Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award and Room's 2018 Fiction contest and was longlisted for the 2020 Pacific Spirit Poetry Prize. She is the Poetry Editor at Minola Review and resides in Toronto. Kate Finegan is the author of the chapbook The Size of Texas (Penrose Press, 2018). Her work has appeared in PRISM International, The Puritan, The Fiddlehead, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. She is editor-in-chief of Longleaf Review and lives in Toronto.

"03/26/2020" Shelly Harder hails from rural Ontario with a first chapbook, remnants (Baseline Press, 2018). Kevin Heslop is the author of the forthcoming full-length collection the correct fury of your why is a mountain (Gordon Hill, 2021).
 

"six feet" — Lindsay Crudele writes fiction, poetry, and more and lives in Boston, tending to many creatures. Her most recent story, “The Spy Who…,” appeared in Queen Mob’s Teahouse this March. nate greenslit is a teacher, writer and musician.

"Waiting" — Ryan Gibbs is an English professor who lives in London, Ontario. His short stories have appeared in anthologies by Cranberry Tree Press and Lighthouse Publications 2002, and his poems have appeared in Illumen, Tower Poetry, and The Windsor Review. His children’s poetry has been included in the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness. Rhonda Melanson is a poet living in Sarnia, Ontario, and has been published in many online and print journals, including The Boxcar Poetry Review, Quill’s, Lummox, Philadelphia Poet, and The Windsor Review. She has published a chapbook called gracenotes (Beret Days Press).

"the weight of cleanliness" —  Conyer Clayton and Emilie Kneifel are new friends. Their work has appeared in Arc, Canthius, The Fiddlehead, Vallum, and elsewhere. Em's web show, PLAYD8s, airs every Wednesday at 8 p.m. until April 22. Conyer's debut full-length, We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite, is forthcoming from Guernica Editions in May, 2020.

"Does it look like a void to you" — Atsushi Ikeda is based in Montreal. Mac Vogt is based in Toronto.

"All the Wrong Ghosts Live Here" — Jenny Berkel is a singer-songwriter and poet from rural Ontario. Between playing concerts across the globe, she writes, teaches English, and works at the library. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Hart House Review, The Maynard, The Literary Review of Canada, long con magazine, and elsewhere. Síle Englert is a poet, fiction writer, and multi-disciplinary artist. She is the author of Threadbare (Baseline Press, 2019) and a forthcoming chapbook from Anstruther Press in spring, 2020. Her writing has appeared in journals such as The Fiddlehead, CV2, Room Magazine, Canthius, The /temz/ Review, Crannóg Magazine (Ireland), Freefall Magazine, and The Minola ReviewKevin Heslop is the author of the forthcoming full-length collection the correct fury of your why is a mountain (Gordon Hill, 2021).

Is It Less Lonely Like This: isolation collaborations was edited by Jason Dickson & Andy Verboom, titled by Angie Quick, and published by Collusion Books (in collaboration with 845 Press and its ebook March 2020: A COVID-19 Anthology). Is It Less Lonely Like This: isolation collaborations is copyright © 2020 by Collusion Books. All rights reserved by the named contributors.

Collusion Books, a project of long con magazine, operates in K'jipuktuk, Mi'kmak'i, the traditional, unceded, and unsold territory of the Mi'kmaq.

We are all Treaty People.

Collusion Books logo.png
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon