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From the archives

The March of the Cheezie

Our snacks as a history of ourselves

Model Behaviour

A Haida village as seen in a windy city

Beyond the City Limits

Diversity and rural Canada


if you threw your shoe into the machine of the world

if you have a shoe

if we all threw all the shoes at once,

jammed its great cogs and pistons,

if it groaned and gradually slowed.


if the trucks pulled over, and the drivers abandoned them,

if they went home to their families.

if you ate what was in your cupboards or your garden

if your cupboards were empty

you went to your neighbour, your friend, your auntie,

if a stranger fed you.


if for a day or a week

if for a week or a month

we turned out the lights and dusk fell like leaves,

if we listened and let our eyes adjust

if we threaded together our fingers

looked across our tables and saw one another

if we could see clearly, in the falling dark.


if no one showed up for work

if the magnificent glow of the grocery stores

and the shopping malls was extinguished,

if the coal plants sputtered

their trails of smoke tapered and vanished,

if the smog diminished and the stars came out

if the moon called you outside

if you didn’t have to get up early.


if the car engines stalled

and no one stopped for gas.

if the buses ceased to rumble and squeal

if the subways sighed to stillness.

if the fluorescent bulbs ceased their buzzing,

the batteries failed, and the fans went quiet

if the turbines and the dams and the generators quit

if we decided we didn’t need them

for a day, or a week.


if the pipelines could drain,

an end to extraction and pumping

if thousands of barrels per hour lingered in the ground

mingling with the sour gas, the bedrock and sand,

if someone approached the pipes sprawled like huge dead fish

and struck a gleaming side with an empty fist

if it rang and reverberated like a gong.


if it found the tuning fork of the railroad, a pure tone,

if the ringing infiltrated the cities and the small towns,

the tired fields and forests,

if it danced over the lakes and rivers,

and slowly diminished,

if we all heard it,

if it prepared us

for silence.


Basma Kavanagh is a poet, visual artist, and letterpress printer who lives and works in Nova Scotia, in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. She produces artist’s books under the imprint Rabbit Square Books. She has published two collections of poetry, Distillō (Gaspereau, 2012), and Niche (Frontenac, 2015), which won the 2016 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. Ruba’iyat for the Time of Apricots will be published by Frontenac House Press in fall 2018.