Full Steam to Hades

We’re going down, Captain.
Going down where?
Down to the bottom,
the sea will see you there.
She sinks,
with my best mates and me

 

Time to meet our maker,
to meet Davy Jones.
The Reaper of the Deep!
We have been forsaken
by Poseidon’s cruel throne.  

 

A chest and fourscore men,
Plunge to despair.
Full steam to Hades!
Our bounty will be shared.
She sinks,
with my best mates and me. 

 

In just a few leagues,
over just a few more stones,
we could have been free,
to live as Kings
to live as we please.
We have been forsaken.
Icarus foretold,
by our lust for gold.

 

A chest and fourscore men,
Plunge to despair.
Full steam to Hades!
Our bounty will be shared.
Bottoms up.
To my best mates and me.

Arrows in a Quiver: From Contact to the Courts in Indigenous-Canadian Relations: A Book Review

 

 

Indigenous-settler relations, sovereignty, and legalities have a long and tumultuous history in Canada. Unfortunately, this means that the average Canadian does not have the context nor perspective to understand this history, resulting in widespread acceptance of half-truths, racial bias, and a lack of empathy towards different cultures. On the positive side, a wealth of peer-reviewed literature exists in the academic ethos that can assist in closing the gap that exists in Indigenous-settler relations. One of the best examples of this literature can be found in James Frideres’ newest book, “Arrows in a Quiver: From Contact to the Courts in Indigenous-Canadian Relations.” This literature is also complimented very well by the striking painting found on the cover of this book, provided by artist Lawerence Paul Yuxweliptun.

This 2019 release by the University of Regina Press discusses the implications of a colonial government structure in Canada and how a restructuring of many policies and the structure that systematically represses Indigenous people must take place in order for reconciliation to occur. However, the book is not all on the deficits that Indigenous people face. The title in itself, “Arrows in a Quiver”, refers to the tools that Indigenous people in Canada are utilizing to make these reforms such as grassroots political movements, nonviolent protest, engagement with provincial and federal politics, and Indigenizing Canadian law at the courtroom level. Frideres expertly provides the historical and legal contexts required for any reader, regardless of education on Indigenous-Canadian relations, to understand the necessities that are required in Canadian legal reform to achieve reconciliation. As one may guess, this book is chock full of Canadian laws and policies both historical and current but do not need to be intimidated by this fact. Unlike other law texts that I have read, I found this book to be surprisingly easy to follow. Frideres finds the incredibly fine line between adequately describing law and not littering the text with jargon or an academic dialect that may alienate casual readers.

Not only does Frideres describe the laws and policies that affect Indigenous people in Canada but also actively applies them to examples via cases and academic research. The weight of this evidence truly makes this book feel like an in-depth review of the political and legal landscape in Canada and the level of care and research put into this book cannot be understated.

In conclusion, “Arrows in a Quiver” is a fantastic and enlightening read for anyone to further their understanding on Indigenous-settler relations and to become a part of the solution for the reconciliation that is needed to close the gap in our ever-divisive nation.

 

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

Gravity Proof… A New Universal Law… Zone State and Other Unusual Short Stories: A Book Review

“Gravity Proof… A New Universal Law… Zone State and Other Unusual Short Stories”
by Karl G. Blass
Reviewed by Ben Charles
ISBN: 9871775110705
CDN $19.99

“Gravity Proof… A New Universal Law… Zone State and Other Unusual Short Stories”, written by Karl G. Blass is the result of a delightful passion project from a truly brilliant mind. As a scientist by trade, the Austrian-born Karl G. Blass has made a new trail for himself with the release of this short story series. That being said, Blass is no stranger to publications as he has been published and patented over eighty times throughout his career on various topics within the field of Clinical Biochemistry. After obtaining a PhD and an M. Sc. from the University of Windsor in the 1970s, Blass went on to become a professor of chemistry at the University of Regina and a clinical biochemist at the Regina General Hospital from the mid-seventies until the new millennium.
Blass’ aptitude for the sciences rings loud and clear in the first chapter of this book, named “Gravity Research Stories”. By the author’s own admission, the third chapter is the most appropriate place of the book to start if the reader is seeking a casual short story experience. The first chapter, however, is a thought experiment that challenges the reader to consider how gravity functions within the context of the reality in which we live. I must admit that Blass’ explanations of slow-motion states, atom density, repulsion forces, and Einstein’s theories were over my head, but I found them to be fascinating thought experiments, nonetheless. I would recommend that anyone with even a passing interest in physics and the sciences check this book out for the first two chapters alone.
Although the book begins with the fruits of a mind well-versed in the fields of science and research, the following chapters are rife with stories from the author’s fencing career, as well as anecdotes of his personal life and the Old Country. A personal favourite of mine comes with a brief story of his grandfather being a respected hunter both in the Old World and the New but promised his wife a fur coat made of coyote. After many unsuccessful attempts of finding one in the harsh Saskatchewan winters of the 1920s, he finally sees two within firing range. Unfortunately, it was also when he was driving his wife ten miles by horse and carriage to the doctors due to a hand injury and never did get his Saskatchewan coyote. The book is also filled with tales of drama and gossip from the University of Regina and a cool introspection into the budding years of the institution.
“A Gravity Proof…” is testament to the fact that academic and creative writing need not be two separate entities. Blass has created a truly one-of-a-kind literary experience that both stimulates the mind and tickles the soul. It seamlessly transitions from complex physics equations and tense fencing duals to the mundane but observant quips on the English language and life in Saskatchewan. This is a must-read for those seeking a unique literary experience.

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

The String Play

Actors of ice
tumble and wrestle,
dip, dive, and parry
to a pitch-black stage drop.

Enter Stage Right,
the archer comes.
Hooded and silent
a friend of the night.
The orange curtains open.
Stillness reigns over distilled rains.
Frigid tundra tumblers play their games.
The artist now in cover.
Calmly caressed in the cover of crystals.
The weight of the clouds rests on the back of a sleeping giant.

Enter Stage Left,
His Majesty enters
from luscious greens.
His crown is magnificent.
Seven Jewels on each side.
His crown, divine.

Crisp.
Quiet.
Cool.

Hoof meets snow.
Nose meets grain.
Wood meets wood,
and string meets bone.

With a flick of the finger, feathers meet the air.
The end meets the start.
Tobacco offered to the earth,
obsidian hardens the heart.

The artist sees the fall of a King
and shakes off his white robe.
He dips, and he bows.
He carries the regal beast.
The artic acrobats keep on dancing
and the curtains close.

 

Book Review – Corridor Nine: A Novel

“Corridor Nine: A Novel”
by Sophie Stocking
Published by Thistledown Press
Reviewed by Ben Charles
ISBN: 9781771871815

“Corridor Nine: A Novel”, written by Sophie Stocking and published by Thistledown Press is an exceptional novel that expertly encapsulates the extremes of soul-crushing emotions and outlandish behaviour in a way that is very accurate to the human experience. Even though this novel could be read within a weekend, it packs wallop. At under 200 pages this novel makes no room for literary fluff, every word is a thread that weaves into a beautiful and fantastical yet tender and tragic story of life and loss.

The story follows Bernadette Macomber, who thought that she had all but completely cut ties with her troubled father, Fabian, to begin again and start a family of her own. In the wake of Fabian’s sudden suicide, Bernadette finds herself returning home. All is not over for Fabian, however, as he finds himself in a completely foreign afterlife named Corridor Nine and in the company of an angel/griffin-figure named Bune. As Fabian transverses life-after-life, Bernadette or “Bernie”, is left in the mundane to seek the source of her father’s recent insanity. As the twin narratives consecutively play out, they also intertwine to result in the closure that both Bernie and Fabian so desperately seek.

As mentioned, this novel is a relatively short read but a truly delightfully one. Those with an inkling towards supernatural series will have a seriously good time tearing through this novel while also enjoying more mature tones, narratives, and characters than something like the Harry Potter or Twilight series would have to offer. That is not to say that young readers could not enjoy this novel, either. There is a certain exuberance to this novel that exudes from all its aspects, from the mystery of Corridor Nine and this universes’ afterlife, the fantastical qualities and characteristics of Bune, to the bizarre remnants of Fabian that he left behind. There were very few parts of the novel that it was not apparent that this story was truly a passion project of Stocking’s and it was story that she had been burning to tell. In fact, the cover painting of the novel, also rich and vibrant, is a work of Stocking’s as well. While it is not the most unusual thing in the world to see authors create their own covers, it is rarely executed so well and is honestly a breath of fresh air.

In conclusion, this is a delightfully read for nearly all ages. It perfectly blends the relatable themes of loss, guilt, and conflicting feelings about loved ones with the imagination of the supernatural. This far exceeds the quality that one would expect from a debut novel and I am excited to see how Stocking’s career flourishes as a great Canadian author.

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

The Loudest Voices

The loudest voices
talk the most and
say the least.
The loudest voices
cause deaf ears.
It does not bother them,
so long as their sound does not cease.

Cease and desist,
or at least try to resist,
the urge to be the loudest voice in the room.
This is best off learned now, learned soon.
The boisterous bask in their self-righteousness
and close their eyes while they clamor in empty victory.

It is the silent that are content to be acorns,
laying in the shadows and soaking the lessons scorned.
Patient, content.
Knowing that an Oak tree will be mighty in the ground
without ever making a sound.

Southern Blend and White Wine

Southern Blend and white wine

one half raw

and the other refined.

 

Do not pack me in
to fit into your lip.
Do not box me up
and use me for a sip.

 

I belong with the wild grapes
growing together under the sky.
Toiling, sweating, sunburnt.
Alive.
Thinking, listening, feeling.
Asking why?
An imortal soul
inside an indignant ape.

Turn My Mind Off

What goes up,
must come down.

What comes around,
goes around.

Fiesty fatigue feasts
on original obligations.
Greedily glued to the game.
Anointed to an apex.

Where are my next steps?

Aren’t I always in motion?
Will day not always become night?
Can I not do anything without reactionary notions?
Can I not get out of light?
I’m going to try my best to not be on,
time to turn my mind off.

Au Revoir à Rien

Sometimes I wonder what’s in the dark.

Sometimes I wonder what lurks behind closed eyes.

Does the world end with a nap?
Or does the soul emerge from the mortal cocoon,
shedding the drudgery, the prejudice, the shackles of our pathetic past?

What was I supposed to do here?
I’ve been told that I need to find my Dad.
I called out for him, he went out for a jug of milk.
So I shrug and I sulk.
What’s the purpose of finding a purpose? I’d be dead lyin’ if I didn’t say that my deadline happening at any moment makes me feel alive.
Bless my poor little heart and the stress that I put it through
Earth returns to earth.
My hot blood spurts a scorching statement, it spits in the face of chance.

Fuck you and your comfort.
I’d rather be full of piss and vinegar
than full of regret.
Fuck me and my polite reserves
this is my life, it belongs to me.
I’d rather ruffle some feathers
than be a bird in a cage.

Stay on guard
Stay pissed off.
Smile in the face of anxiety
We chose half-truths and easy answers
over hard decisions
over rethinking our biases.

We chose of life of being
Docile, infertile.
Medicated, sedated.
tame, lame.
simple, limp.
Formulaic, archaic.

 

Choose life.

 

A Bright Man.

I don’t follow the newest news.
I don’t know how to say no.
I may not be a bright man,
but I do have some light, man.

How can I be well-read
without and good-reads?
How can I be a leader
and not tell another where to be led?

Is that a revelation?
The word reveals nothing, much ado.
Is that a revolution?
The world doesn’t revolve around you.
Is that evolution?
Stagnation loves having nothing to do.

Change takes time
But we take no time to change.