Vol. 5.1

Published January 2020

untethered 5.1 (front cover)

The Little Brown Boy From Nelson
Rozina Jessa

he cups my hands as if he knows me:
is small for the age of seven
has a haircut like a white boy
but grows hair between his eyebrows
too young to be taught how to use
a razor but would know before
all the boys in his class—

his house lives among green feathered
trees and his neighbours are utility poles
the rest exist a five minute drive
down a muddy road so he only
talks to the soil and paints friends
with his finger dipped in the slick
this dirt being familiar to his elbows

he asks me if i’m indian and his eyes are
wide; wider than most indians
and i reply yes and i’m frowning
i should add my eyebrows are plucked
which doesn’t make me any cleaner
and he grips my hand harder and
says they are too and asks what my
name is and i give him a canadian name

he swirls it in his mouth and it agrees
with his tongue and when i ask for his
he tells me rowan only i don’t believe him
i look down at his black hair and i say
how do you spell your name, rowan
and he says
and so i say oh no your name is rohan

he grins and his teeth are whiter
than the sun blazing down on the
crusted berry bushes and he says oh
yes you are the only one who says it
like my dad does but everyone calls me
rowan and i don’t know why but i start

               and i feel the sludge slipping in between
my toes
my foam flip flops ripping as i feel
a low branch
lacerate my heel and my jeans
are brown they are brown
with the brownest soil i’ve ever seen
i am more fertile than
every kind of soil
beneath every plant
and i whisper to every
fragment of greenery here
his name is rohan
his name is rohan
his name is rohan—

Inktober_Day 1

Elena Bentley

I like the kind of oranges
that make your mouth
taste ripe against mine.

The kind of round hardness
that licks the pith inside
your cheeks and sticks to teeth.

The kind of sex
that’s sweet and sour
and sometimes bitter.

Inktober_Day 6

J.I. Kleinberg

J.I. Kleinberg - moon-writer
Inktober_Day 12

Marigold in Full Sun (excerpt)
Kate O’Gorman

Margo steps out onto the patio in her robe. Nine in the morning and already the air is close. It’s been the hottest week on record since a similar heatwave claimed the lives of three people five years ago—Margo’s son included. She moves gingerly around her flowers. Examines the state of her perennials, the collection of annuals in their pots. Hydrangeas and fuchsias are happiest given a little morning sun, but she’ll have to be vigilant this afternoon, when the sun reaches its peak—hydrangeas, in particular, are prone to scorching.

She tightens the slippery belt of her satin robe. Any other day she would have worn her old, oversized terry cloth housecoat. She prefers the way it covers, like a blanket, snuggling her from earlobes to ankles. It was Michael’s favourite too. As a child, he used to bury his face into the pillow-like softness at her hip. She can still feel his little-boy frame tucked in beside her.

The satin robe was a beautiful, if somewhat impractical, anniversary gift from her husband. Normally, the dainty item stays folded near the back of her closet, but today the featherlight fabric is just right. The loose, silky material drapes rather than clings, allowing her skin to breathe better than any T-shirt.

Through the screen door, she hears her husband in the kitchen. The distinct lag of his gait tells her his hip is bothering him again, probably from sleeping too long in Michael’s old twin bed. Anytime he emerges from the main floor bedroom these days it’s only to use the bathroom or because hunger has forced him out.

She calls into the house, “There’s leftover omelette if you want it.”

For most of their marriage, Russell was a busy kind of person—up at dawn performing one task or another. He fancied himself a handyman: fixing the loose hinge on the front door, replacing the battery in their smoke detector every three months, checking the fluid levels in their 1998 Ford wagon. He used to tell Michael, “Every day is an opportunity to accomplish something new.” Lately though, he holes up in their son’s room, curtains drawn, sleeping all hours. She understands why—he’s coping the best way he knows how. She just wishes he would look at her again.

“Why don’t you eat out here with me?” she calls again. “It’s a beautiful day.”

Past the mesh, his silhouette turns. Her stomach flips. Maybe her beckoning is working. Maybe, this time, he will join her. Maybe they’ll talk. She’ll point out how well the zinnias are growing this year, so vibrant and full. He’ll notice her robe and stroke her back between her shoulder blades, like he used to. He might even move back into their bedroom.

His voice cracks from the darkness of the kitchen. “You shouldn’t wear your bathrobe outside. Someone might see you.”

Inktober_Day 25

Self-Care Rituals, Post-Election
Natasha Sanders-Kay

November 2016.
Tear your stress ball in half.
Don’t answer calls.

December 2016.
Do a media cleanse.
Cave only for SNL.

January 2017.
Street glares and office rants.
Be pissy.

February 2017.
Go to a writers’ protest at the White House.
Give yourself
Whatever. You. Want.

March 2017—
— Write —

Inktober_Day 11

Losing our Marbles (excerpt)
Carol Harvey Steski

We were losing our marbles.
But always finding more, stored
in the deep, purple-felt pockets
of Crown Royal bags
starkly repurposed
to hold a child’s currency.

Our kindergarten stock market
saw power change hands
in peewees and jumbo crocks.
Each commodity unique
and valued accordingly,
our portfolios diversified
in a rainforest of orbs:

               Glass globes injected
with ribbons preserved mid-twirl
realistic and mysterious
as jarred pimentos.

               There were solid ceramics,
surfaces pepperminted like circus tents
or dropped into backdrafts,
licked in flames.

               And Tiger’s Eyes
plucked straight from
amber sockets,
still glaring.

Inktober_Day 31

Contributors: Katherine Abbass, Simina Banu, Dessa Bayrock, Elena Bentley, Ben Gallagher, Marshall Gu, Shauna Harris, Amanda Jess, Rozina Jessa, J.I. Kleinberg, Hege Jakobsen Lepri, Margaret Lynch, Tanis MacDonald, Diana Manole, Lori A. May, Victoria Mbabazi, Cara Nelissen, Deborah Ocholi, Kate O’Gorman, Susan Olding, A. A. Parr, Natasha Sanders-Kay, Karen Shepherd, Carol Harvey Steski, Neil Surkan, and Cassie Yochum. Artwork by Sarah Graham.