Grain Winter 2022 Newsletter

The theme of our winter issue, “a lull, a numbness, a lumen” from Joseph Kidney’s poem “Oscail do Bhéal,” heralds the New Year with mixed emotions of a world still in the grip of a pandemic, yet we hang on to glimmers of hope. Birdcall, a child’s laughter, the lull and numbness before the lumen of snow.
But lumen has many meanings, not just the measure of luminous flux or visible light. It refers to the biological tides of the body, pain and the fear of it. These images leap or lurk within each piece in this issue. A ghost speaks from her unmarked grave. A skateboarder contemplates sex, drugs, and philosophy as he “power(slides) across galaxies.” A woman shares insights and a bag of sunflower seeds with Ginsberg.
This Short Grain issue is a deep dive and a soaring ride. My gratitude to judges Phil Hall and Susan Olding, congratulations to all Short Grain winners, thanks to all contributors, and to Eric Louie for his illuminating artwork!

Mari-Lou Rowley
Editor, Grain



south of sutured harbours
in the hydric rill of swallows
and swollen bulbs of rain, where
bodies usher bodies into being
we press the floors to sleep,
the anchors in our blood
tightened by riparian blooms

sister says
did you notice the oil and grain
on the loading dock, sugar estate
phantoms burnt on moth silk
the burly men on rum rows,
she says
in what billowed cure will birth amass,
aquatic prayers rise to another red eclipse

SOMETHING INFINITELY OLD [Excerpt] | by Traci Skuce

The doe appeared in the dim morning light. A muted brown blur emerged from bare, black branches that edged the opposite side of the road. I lifted my foot from the accelerator. She bounded across the oncoming lane and then in front of the Jeep ahead of us. Their brake lights brightened. I pressed my own brake pedal to the floor. Our old Rabbit skidded, stopped, bumper this close to the Cherokee.
The Jeep’s hazards flashed yellow-orange, and its exhaust plumed and spewed. I turned the radio off, my hands tremoring. My ears were muffled as though I’d changed altitudes. All I could hear was heartbeat.
Then my ears popped, cleared, and there was nothing but the sound of my daughter chewing her peanut butter sandwich in the backseat—a loud, impetuous chew.
He hit the deer, she said. It’s probably dead. Chomp chomp chomp.
It was true. The Jeep must’ve hit her because she didn’t reappear on this side of the road. She didn’t dash into the tall, frosted grasses just off the shoulder. Still, I scanned the scene for a twitchy tail or a dewy black eye but saw only spent bulrushes and a distant row of naked alders. I shifted the car into reverse and backed away from the Jeep, and then into first, angling my car onto the shoulder.
You’re not going to get out and save it, are you?


This riot of gulls, the force
of these careening bodies,
hammering wings, this wind
ripping open the flaps of my coat
to make a sail of me,
could pelt me seaward, into the strait,
but I am held here, held to the point
by the notes of a ukulele,
yes, a small stringed instrument,
played by a man parked on the cliff
in his pickup, a man facing five bars of light
that come down to the sea,
reach right into it, five bars
almost hidden by cloud
so I have to look hard
to see the transformation of this day
into something other than a gap
between the past and the future,
other than a rift,
and so these song particles,
hardly arranged in a pattern at all,
riding the wind like tiny bleats
for a nanosecond each,
are enough.


E-CON [Excerpt] | by Craig Kelly

The email was sent to my personal account. That’s why I didn’t notice it at first. That account is set up on my phone and kept separate from the computers I use for the operations. For obvious reasons.
There are six operations running that need constant supervision. The largest is a GoFundMe page for a child in Iowa. He’s been diagnosed with cancer and needs forty thousand dollars to get the necessary health care to save his life. His parent’s health insurance provider has denied their claim. Something to do with red tape oversight. The father works as a janitor and the mom volunteers at a school for special needs children. They don’t make enough to cover the health costs. Their heartbreaking story has spread like wildfire through social media.
The child is fake. The family is fake. The story is fake. It was cobbled together from human interest stories and a quick Google image search. The rest was my creative flare, honed through years of drafting sad sack stories. Quick tip for making fake donation pages: never take an image from the first page of a Google search. If anyone is looking to debunk you, they’ll only go to the first page. No one ever goes beyond.


Bong in the armoire, on the floor a caved in steel guitar,
an unmarked urn in the corner above the cupboards
above the piles of ash, wet drywall, glass that we’re
shoving into buckets and bags. We’re wearing dust
masks and “Stutters” shirts. Scott Stone, curlicue
mustache, the project manager's assistant, the parvenu,
tells me to go downstairs. To cozen? Howbeit,
I slug my weight in ash bags to the garbage pit.
I’m eighteen and I get to hit some walls
with a sledgehammer. Then I’m given a drill, “you
take out the screws.” The bookshelf I unscrew
from a wall in the basement is peeled off its caulk
revealing a small room with no light fixtures,
a heat lamp and a shower drain. We all take pictures.

Water Dancer, Oil on Canvas

Artist's Statement

Eric Louie is a Vancouver-based painter whose vibrant compositions are being recognized by numerous collectors both public and private.

Louie’s sculptural, organic abstracts allude to landscape, still life and even portraiture. His signature metallic, shimmering forms, achieved via many thin layers of luminescent glazes, are central to the virtual worlds he creates. Louie’s works possess a chameleonic ability to exist comfortably among a multitude of aesthetics, from 1920s Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern through to the late 20th Century and into the forefront of contemporary design.

Louie holds a B.F.A from the Alberta College of Art and Design, where he was awarded the prestigious Jason Lang Scholarship. His work is included in numerous private and public collections including CIBC, Encana Energy, NBC Studios, Paramount and MGM Pictures, as well as the City of Calgary. Louie has shown his work nationally over the past decade in more than 25 exhibitions.