What Beer Can Do

Shine my buckle, baby, he yells in my ear,
pulls me tight against him,
and two-steps me around backwards,
sloooooooow, sloooooooooow, quick-quick
one body with too many feet
we stumble, no gliding here
in the Big Tent of Nashville North,
just tired river silt and dirty
tarmac that trips our best intentions,
the bitter stain of crap beer
on my loosened tongue,
sweaty cologne of drugstore cowboys
with undertones of puke,
sloooooooow, sloooooooooow, quick-quick
the whole place as surreal as
the bucking bronc named Luscious Bubbles,
and the fake breasts on full neon display.
Up on Centre Street a billboard admonishes
that good girls keep their calves together
but I dance my way through bad covers
and worse jokes,
slooooooooow, slooooooooooow, quick-quick
my thighs spreading against his,
my belly polishing that buckle.

~ Dymphny Dronyk

Dymphny Dronyk is a writer, editor, mediator and mother. She is passionate about the magic of story and has woven words for money (journalism, corporate writing) and for love (poetry, fiction, drama, mystery novels and songs) for over 25 years. Her first volume of poetry Contrary Infatuations (Frontenac House, Quartet 2007) was short listed for two prestigious awards in 2008. She is also the author of the memoir Bibi – A Life in Clay (Prairie Art Gallery, 2009).

With Edmonton poet Angela Kublik, she is the co-publisher of House of Blue Skies, and co-editor of the bestselling anthologies: Writing the Land – Alberta Through its Poets (2008) and Home and Away – Alberta Poets Muse on the Meaning of Home (2010).

Dymphny is a founding member of the RE:act Art & Community Together Collective, and currently serves as the President of the League of Canadian Poets National Council.

With Calgary’s inaugural Poet Laureate, Kris Demeanor, she is co-editor of The Calgary Project – A City Map in Verse and Visual.

Book Launches!!

The Calgary Project – A City Map in Verse and Visual is here!!

REact cover front no flaps 01b

We are so excited to be celebrating the anthology and all of our amazing contributors – the wonderful artists who have so generously shared their work with our project.

The anthology, featuring the work of more than 90 Calgary poets and visual artists, is now available at your independent bookseller!

Owl’s Nest Books
Pages on Kengsington
Shelf Life Books

Order from Amazon.ca

Please join us at these celebrations:

Main Launch – 30 Poets & 15 Visual Artists
Sunday, March 30, 2014
2-4 p.m.
John Dutton Theatre,
616 Macleod Trail SE, Calgary

Poets and Artists Muse on the Influence of Place
Sunday, April 6, 2014
10:30-11:30 a.m.
Unitarian Church
1703 1st Street NW, Calgary

Youth & Mentor Celebration
Sunday, April 27, 2014
2-4 p.m.
Loft 112, East Village,
535 8th Avenue SE, Calgary

Poetry and visual art from The Calgary Project will continue to be posted on this Blue Skies site during the coming months. Check back often!

Alberta Girls

The muses at the front of the class
dream life begins
beyond the frost-starred windows.

Trudging home to sunset bell
in boot-crunching snow
and cows spill in to fill corrals

and home is far across the yard
till horses stabled and watered
and alone in the manger prairie girls

glow by the light by the door
and they are solitude and beauty
in their denim jackets and their wheat-straw hair

in their cowgirl blouses and their coal black hair.

Adulthood races in: grass fire.
Part-time jobs as counter-girls, cashiers;
awash in city lights

the cart boy’s yell delivers us to
prairie girls, their eyes so clear
and filled with so much sky

they explode the darkness in you.

By summer all is light. Sky
as it was in the beginning
is now and ever shall be

evening everlasting.

Fire smoulders at night.
Below the stars you find
the darkest places in Alberta girls.

They love you, brand you
in their towns burned black
against the mountains’ sunset glow.

When you find the darkest
places in Alberta girls
they show you everything they’ve longed for

in their dreams uplifted till they all turn inside out.
In their clapboard towns tornadoed
by the weight of so much sky

they are hardly held to the earth.
You are not enough
to hold them there yourself.

They know sky and darkness, enduring
like the coal seams
pressed into this windblown land

they ignite the darkness in you.

* * *

~ Ian Ferrier does spoken word and music shows throughout Canada, in New York and in Europe. He has released one CD/book Exploding Head Man (2004) and two CDs, What is this Place (2007) and Pharmakon MTL – To Call Out in the Night (2011). He is the founder of the record label Wired on Words, of the Mile End Poets’ Festival, of the online magazine LitLive.ca and of Montreal’s monthly Words & Music reading series, now in its 14th year. He currently creates voice, verse and music for the dance project For Body and Light.

This poem will be included in The Calgary Project – A City Map in Verse and Visual
published by House of Blue Skies & Frontenac House, 2014

Sandon Mine

The rain abates, the air left dank and sweet with spruce breath. Madid moss in the ditch holds the imprint of hooves.

Anne’s finger becomes a baton, tipping its point to each wildflower that she spots. She chants their names, an incantation of gratitude for the end of the rain.

Phyl is deaf to this roll call of flora. She gives a surly jerk, as she strips sodden gloves from pruned up joints, puffs warm air into palms. A halo of steam encircles her face.

A cyan Ford sedan crawls by. Its tires on gravel, like molars grinding cubed ice. The passenger window rolls down, a slit, so a man can call: Like a drink?

The Ford pulls over, and Anne and Phyl dismount. The men say they are workers from the Sandon mine. They pass a beaten glass bottle of rum and coke, and the women gladly share. The men say they slowed, for they knew them somehow.

The rum runs its hot fingernails down the girls’ throats, pools in their empty stomachs. Anne’s eyes gone glassy, she laughs too much at the feeble jokes told by the men.

The men say, Leave your horses at the camp. Come with us to Nakusp. We’ll buy you t-bone steaks. We’ll take you to the sauna.

Anne can almost taste the charred flesh; Phyl feels the warm flush of basking in hot humidity. Then Anne’s rain-slick fingers slip on the bottle. A frantic grasp and she clutches at the neck before the glass is dashed. They say no to the men, send them on to their camp to inquire after a farrier. Phyl tosses the bottle off into the underbrush.

~ Emily Ursuliak grew up in the rolling hills southwest of Bentley, Alberta, but now calls Calgary home. She recently completed an MA in English at the University of Calgary where she’s been working on her first novel and her first collection of poems. You can find out more Emily at: www.emilyursuliak.com.

You can read more poems by Emily here, including Sunnyside, which is included in the Flood section of “The Calgary Project – A City Map in Verse and Visual.

Run Training

an hour before sunset
dogwalkers lope
out the Weaslehead
as I run in

my shadow plows
the advancing path
last spider of the year
scoots for cover

shivers of feathers
in poplars
puff and chip

air musty with
willow
tints of dust

necks straining, stretched
three determined ducks pull
last light over the river

four deer, no five
pose above scrub
ears on my exhalations.

If you looked at me
at a solid 8 km
even just glanced
you’d see blue
perfect power-blue
haloing my body.

~ Juleta Severson-Baker

Juleta lives in her hometown of Calgary where she writes, teaches poetry and performance at the Mount Royal University Conservatory, works as a birth doula, and raises her two children. Her poetry has been previously published in All That Uneasy Spring (a Leaf Press chapbook, ed. Patrick Lane), the journals NoD and Freefall, and online at Verse Daily. In 2010 she won Freefall magazine’s 20th Anniversary Chapbook Contest with her collection A Hundred Pelts. Her first full-length manuscript, Incarnate, was published by Frontenac House Press in 2013.

This poem is included in “The Calgary Project – A City Map in Verse and Visual”
published by Frontenac House and House of Blue Skies, 2014

To read more poems by Juleta click here.