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  • Pearle

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

These days,

we connect in grid formations

through blue light.

Stories are told,

costumes may appear

and glasses are spilled and refilled.

I think the most beautiful part

of this new world is how old friends

simply blend right in.


Blue Light Belly Laughs, by Pearle

Lives and creates in glorious Muskoka, Ontario. Pearle has embarked on a journey of creative reinvention following some life altering health issues. Her poetry and photography are inspired by nature and finding raw beauty in everyday life.

"This piece was inspired by the many zoom calls my friends and I have had throughout the pandemic.

This particular group of friends I've had for over 25 years.

Our ability to slip back into youthful silliness and complete hilarity despite the trying times has been such a respite."

Instagram: @poesybypearle

  • b. pick

If it hadn’t been for the two hour line at Giordano’s, I may have never found you off a beaten path from the Tri-State Tollway.

I think often about our introduction, your Midwestern twang and my Northern vim and vigor; we made an odd pair -- we were never a pair to begin with. I knew you for less than a moment, I’ve thought of you every moment since.

To say that you were a muse would be an understatement. I think of you often as a kindred spirit, but I don’t think that quite fits either. Perhaps you were a soulmate of some kind, but one whom I was only privileged to be privy to for a few fleeting glances.

I remind myself of the way that your tongue pressed through the gap between your two front teeth as you spoke. The nasal tone that you exuded as you breathed light into a dull and deserted bar was enchanting in a way that eluded me then, and still eludes me now.

This isn’t to say that you were beautiful. In fact, you looked no different from any other young single mother from Michigan, expatriated to a Chicagoan suburb might look. Dark hair, half-lidded and exhausted eyes, with bags beneath a deeper burgundy than the red wine you spilled on my mother’s designer purse. You carried your weight in your hips, which I wonder about often, considering the burden you bore on your arms -- and the heavier burden on your heart.

I remember the glazed and empty look in your over-lined eyes as my mother asked just how dangerous Chicago was. You explained how your husband died, how he was shot in warm blood, not cold; instead of letting tears befall you, the words you used were antithetic, your tone monotonous, and your face blank.

It was then that I learned that pain doesn’t necessarily equal beauty. Instead, pain looks like a broken down bar with the best pizza north of Chicago, pain looks like the heel on your shoe that broke halfway through your shift; it looks like wage labour and beer spilled on your t-shirt as you hold back tears.

In the same way, beauty might just be the snow cherry toned lipstick smudged against your teeth, beauty might be hair so frizzy that no elastic can contain it; it might be the faded nametag whose contents I don’t quite remember.

Part of me wishes that I’d stayed, built a home for us in the liquor store parking lot across the street. Instead, I hold onto the ghost of you and the first stage of grief as I disappear back home down the I-94E.


Moretti's by b.pick

b. pick is a poet and creative non-fiction author based in small town Ontario. They currently study remotely at Western University, where they are heavily involved in LGBTQ2S+ and feminist activism. Their work has most recently appeared in SAPPHIC and Grubstreet Journal.

Twitter: @_bpick

Instagram: @b__pick

  • Jacob Dalfen-Brown

Sam winced from the whiskey. He stared down at Alice's white Adidas. She had her legs outstretched to the side of the table. The shoes were badly scratched five months ago, now they were more scuff than sneaker. She sipped from her hazy amber beer. The faded purple kiss of her lipstick marked the two empty glasses beside her.

Sam zipped up his jacket. Someone had engraved 'I think I'm losing it' into the table. The sky was a flat blue. It felt lower than usual. There was a candle burning between them. Sam hovered his left hand over it until he felt his skin start to burn. He took an ice cube out of his glass and let the cool water drip between his fingers and onto his jeans.

Sam finished his drink. He hadn't seen their server for at least ten minutes. Was she avoiding them? He put the ice cube back in his glass and swirled it around. The cocktail list was written out in purple and green chalk. A fifteen dollar cocktail with Earl Grey tea, an eighteen dollar drink with mezcal and grapefruit syrup. He looked down the list searching for the one with the lowest price and most ounces. 'The Gas Stove' had rye, cognac, vermouth and brandy; perfect.

A breeze cut across the patio and blew out their candle. Sitting there, Sam saw two Alices. Her red hair, cut short when they met, now down below her shoulders. Her cheeks were smooth where the smile lines that stretched from her cheek bones to her chin used to be. The freckles on her nose that blossomed in the summer sun were absent among the fallen leaves.

Alice turned her face towards him. He looked away at the scuffed sneakers, the engraved table, the suffocating sky. She let out a breath. He unzipped his jacket. He could see the server talking to someone at the bar. Sam drank the melted ice water from his glass.

“I'm going in to get another drink.”

“Yup,” Alice said.

Inside, electronic music played. An old soul sample crooned over a syncopated drum beat. Sam walked to the bar and waited to be noticed. The ceiling lamps were dimmed. Fake candles shined yellow electric light on the faces of the other drinkers. Sam leaned his arms against the bar and stared at the bottles of liquor. Patron, Hendricks, something called Arak. The server moved in front of him.

“What can I get you?”

“The Gas Stove.”

“Sounds good.” She turned away from him and grabbed a mixing glass. She filled it with ice and then looked back over her shoulder. “I can bring it out to you.”

“That's okay.” She shrugged. She took her phone out from under the bar, scrolled through it and tapped play. The music changed to an eighties sounding pop song. Big bright synths twirled over a swinging bass line. Sam liked it.

Alice was staring out into the street. She drank from her glass, swallowed and drank again. The waitress was wearing dark high-waisted jeans and a white bodysuit with black stripes. Her hair bounced against her back as she shook his drink. Her face was reflected in a mirror on the wall. She smiled big. There was a gap in her bottom teeth.

Sam could see her tongue dancing along with the bass drum. He looked out at Alice. She was nearly done with her beer. He looked at the beer taps and back at the server. She peeled a strip of orange rind, spritzed it over the cocktail and dropped it in. She mouthed along to the song. She closed her eyes when it got to the chorus. The synths swelled into a climax. The other guy at the bar was staring at her. His eyelids were low. His shirt was too tight.

“I'll settle up,” Sam said.

“Both of you?

He hesitated. Alice was scrolling through her phone. Her lipstick now a mauve. “Yeah, both of us.” She handed him a bill. He handed her cash. She turned back to the guy at the bar. His eyes got big.

Alice glanced up at him. He put his glass to his lips before sitting. He shivered just from the smell. She eyed his drink. He brought it to his lap. She went back to her phone. He looked at her face, the shoes, the engraving, the sky.

“I paid,” he said.

“I still want another.”

“I thought you were done.”

“I wasn't.”

“I didn't realize.”

She let out a breath. Sam unzipped his jacket. Shoes, engraving, sky. He drank. He kept a straight face this time. He smiled. She was on her phone. A bus boy came out to clear their table. Alice tilted back her beer and handed the glass to him. There was nothing on the table blocking his view. He saw her in full as she was now. Long hair, smooth cheeks, faded freckles. He looked into her eyes and he said it.


Northwood by Jacob Dalfen-Brown

Jacob is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto who is trying to figure out this whole 'art as industry' thing.

TW: @DalfenBrown

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