Current Issue

Summer 2024, Volume 45, No. 2


What do Oogie Boogie, graveside whisky toasts, leeches, Winnipeg’s Golden Boy and Pride Rock all have in common? They can be found in our summer contest issue! Check out new work from John O’Neill, Basma Kavanagh, Shashi Bhat, Kerry Ryan, Trisha Cull, Traci Skuce, Rocco de Giacomo & many more!


Cover image by Tétro

MRB Fiction Contest Winners
Judged by Conor Kerr

Morgan Christie
Traci Skuce
Su Chang

MRB Poetry Contest Winners
Judged by Bertrand Bickersteth

John O’Neill
Kerry Ryan
Y.S. Lee

MRB Creative Non-Fiction Contest Winners
Judged by Jeanette Lynes

Basma Kavanagh
Kim Fahner
Trisha Cull

Shashi Bhat
Patricia Robertson

Leah Bobet
Kat Cameron
Lisa Comeau
Rocco de Giacomo
Karan Kapoor
Andreas Lohstraeter
Gerald Arthur Moore
Misha Pensato
Patricia Young

Creative Non-Fiction
Pauline le Bel

In the network of your brain: the Ferris wheel
by Rocco de Giacomo

at early dusk, before the lights come on. The Swing
of the Century lifts you from the deep end of
a pool into an old sky. Aquamarine, and beyond that
an anvil of cloud, looming and planetary. Bare arms
in the breeze, you watch for lightning the way you wait
for a stone in the darkness to hit water, a filament to shock
the faces of houses like someone turning on the bedroom light.
Your arms cast wide, yet you haven’t touched a single
part of this in years. You’re afraid, a neutrino, a ghost
particle beyond the Shackleton Range, an unhearable cry
in the ice. The cables that run two kilometres deep terminate
a finger’s breadth from you. C’mon on. All it would take is a
touch, and you would light up the whole room.

Fiction Preview

Golden Boy
by Patricia Robertson

The Boy lies in the hold of the ship. Not a normal boy—a seventeen-foot figure made of bronze and then gilded. A runner, like the messengers in Greek mythology. He carries a sheaf of golden grain in his left arm, while his right hand holds a torch. He represents eternal youth. He weighs five tons. He rests on straw, wrapped in canvas, lying in the hold before sailing across the Atlantic.
Above him, on the passenger deck, are three young women, three new-fledged nurses embarking for the field hospitals at the front lines. Let us call them Rosie, Becca and Thérèse. None of them has ever left home before. They are young enough to believe in what they are doing. They met in a training program designed to prepare them for front-line nursing. They do not yet know that nothing can prepare them for front-line nursing. The ship surges with troops, though on separate decks, the presence of young women being thought a provocation to young men going to war.
Of the 950 young men so recently processed through basic training, only 177 will return. Most of those will return with injuries, physical or mental.
Of the three nurses, only Becca will come back.
But the Becca who returns will be an entirely different person from the one who left.

Creative Non-Fiction Preview

An Elegy with an Ode at Its Centre: Poets, Planarians & the Practice of Attention
by Basma Kavanagh

Two worlds touch where the spring surfaces. One, the green world inhabited by humans, washed by sun and moonlight, alive with sound and scent, and, beneath our feet, another—an unfathomable place of darkness, where water, minerals, stone and time contrive the ground we rely on. It’s neither solid nor immutable, but compared to our fleeting bodies, it might as well be both. Its slow churn and enormous mass keep us from falling into space, tugging on our every particle and cell.
Over and over, I return to the spring, trying to see deep into earth through clear water, following the rippling movement back to its source underground. Trying to see beyond sight, I stare at the past—the water and bedrock—hoping to glimpse the future. The futility of this weird endeavour leaves me drained and demoralized. Can’t you just be normal? In another time, it might have been my task to guard this water source, or interpret its movement and moods for others, opening my mouth to let wise moisture pour out in the shape of words. Perhaps the form this task takes in our time is coaxing a story from its trickle.

A new friend, a poet, died last year, as winter shrivelled and spring furtively approached. Before becoming ill, she often sat in the woods, translating the hours into breath taking work. We conspired through this witchy habit, attuned to our surroundings, to extract potent language from every kernel we unearthed. It takes a combination of patience and tenacity, a nameless hunger for a food few others recognize. When we met, we didn’t talk poetry—we talked owls and flying squirrels, ruby-throated hummingbirds, little brown bats and fly honeysuckle. Now, nearly two years into the pandemic, I happen upon a chickadee bathing in freshly fallen snow—just as it would in water or dust, something I’ve never witnessed before this moment. I clock the elegant form of each nude tree pressing against voluptuous wintry sky. The whisper and crackle of dried beech leaves and rustling pine needles graze my ears, but there’s no nourishment in any of it. My feet planted on the same mysterious earth, too numb for grief, I forget how to feel.

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