In Transit: A Call For Submissions

yolk

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Perhaps every city has its peculiarities, but we have our metro lines, our buskers, our pedestrians, and all those familiar faces we pass by every day in transit, or purgatory, or simply in the morning, before we take this very same line back home. Perhaps, you wrote it down and submitted it to yolk.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Yolk began as an electric conversation around a picnic table in Saint Henri Square.

Our scruffy pioneer and present prose editor had previously approached each of us with an idea, a vision: We would establish our own literary magazine in Montreal. And so it was, or so it would be. After that original encounter, eight individuals devoted to the word resolved that they would gather bi-weekly, on Sundays, and bring something new into this busy, manic world—something that might slow its spin down somewhat and cause its patronage to say: “You know what, it ain’t so bad, is it, Susan?”

We are undergraduate, graduate, and graduated students of writing. Some of us learn our craft formally from accomplished authors in seminar courses, and some of us learn by looking out the window of the world and onto the streets that sing below. Some of us learn from screaming squirrels, old curtains, departed grandfathers, and bowel movements. We learn from old lovers, long winters, imperfect mothers, and from the deep internet where a musical genius remains entombed.

Yolk is cold floors on Sabbath mornings, home-brewed ginger beer in the endless afternoon, and downpours of French-pressed coffee in assorted artisanal mugs. Our first official gathering was scheduled for a duration of two hours; most of us remained for six, departing only to attend to the summons of our own beckoning realities. Together, with time suspended, we talked endlessly of contributing something to disrupt Montreal’s literary ecosystem. Something unparalleled, something true.

But what? There was nothing to discuss. There was everything to discuss.

We volunteer our time, hounding some elusive beast composed of combustible words and works. We are hopeful, truly hopeful, that we can give something new, a new way, a new light, and that if we cannot, we might at least uphold the traditions of our predecessors, cast star-wide nets to capture their echoes. We are a thousand decisions. We are a sanctuary for the orphaned word, the solitary writer, the cereal-eating artist who yearns for company, for the comfort of a like mind; we sit together with them at foggy dawn, it rains a baptism, with our arms and hands intertwined, we form an umbrella—underneath, they scribble madly, the perfect picture.

Yolk in no way presumes to be superior to its contemporaries, but its contemporaries should not presume yolk to be anything other than loud—quite, quite loud. We are yippidy jazzed to address the oh-so-technicolorful magnificence of the human experience, but we are prepared also to address the ugliness, to stare at its wet, hairy snout and into its square depth and to roar in return at the things that yearn to devour our skin, beset our ethos, and dig graves in our own backyards.

There’s so much to say, there’s so much we don’t know, but together, with you, we can placate that ignorance, render it peaceful, tolerable, and perhaps even, fucking beautiful.

And Susan says, “Amen.”
© "Transit Through Bonaventure," oil on canvas, Peter Harris. @peterdharris

Perhaps God's been sold to you from a kiosk when you surfaced from the blue line. Maybe you bought him. Either way, there's a wet pamphlet caught in the tracks of the rising escalator. Perhaps you've heard the masked wolf-man draw out warm notes with a weathered bow on his violin, or, with earphones plugged in, you descended the green line an watched a mad man silently saw at wood.

Concrete joists run East and West above our heads;

Man picks up receiver to payphone and calls 1-800-Oh-I'm-Just-Looking-For-A-Good-Time;

Sandwhiches sold in cellophane;

A pebble is kicked and skipped across tiled floors;

Between all lines, we wait in front of a screen displaying our daily news.

Prochain départ, huit minutes.

You stand on the platform, waiting for the metro to come by and dare not step past the pebbled yellow border. They have all warned you – an electric shock – that sad electricity down below in mother’s womb. Crowds serve as funnels to let those people get to their churches, homes and grocers hovering above our heads.

When the metro disappears beyond the bend, when the subterranean submarine launches towards the Biodôme, you surface in the place where you can see the city from a distance, though only one track away. Other lines lend themselves towards surfacing and burrowing beneath the streets, rising from the hush into the hullabaloo of cars and traffic on Décarie. You find yourself anywhere in the city and feel that little pulse beneath you, the cement throbbing between your toes. On all the sidewalks you walk along, you see that big blue box with the STM arrow guiding you down towards…

The jazz of the Metro, the trumpet in your neighbor's headphones, the whistle in an angry mother’s voice, the drum of a man asking for change - these are all the flames burning beneath, the effervescent pockets rising as the pot boils.

And now we step onto the metro....

Someone on FaceTime – someone crying – someone drinking (we've got a 12'er) – someone running around the poles – someone waiting for dear life that perhaps this very time, when slowing down en direction Montmorency, the jolts on track won’t be so abrupt.

We are the odd bodies every time we step into a new car. Eyes shudder from their rest to look up at us, leaning uncomfortably against the poles and waiting until the next procession, the subsequent fleet of bodies who become the next batch of strangers. The cars look to eat us whole, to make us one of the many sedentary crowds, ingest us into the sea of heads bobbing and leaning with every turn the car makes, until we are one slinking unified body snaking through tunnels. Worms dip into holes and we can see the car before the car before the car before ours turns into the bend.

And more than often, we share glances and quick acknowledgements with those passing by.  We look into the weary eyes of that working man sitting in the car over, and our cars part in opposite directions, as is the way with all people we meet. We are sad and feel our shoulder rattle against the cold plastic. We look into the dark tunnel at our own reflection, thinking of him until the next set of eyes we meet, until our reflection turns into the next station.

A woman holding plastic grocery bags looks out at the black tunnel through the window. We want to dance with her, though it seems like she’s got a hunch no one can fix and no doctor can diagnose because she has simply walked on too many sidewalks. Though when we ask her to waltz, she gives us a sly wink, and with a tumescent posture says, "Show me what you got.” Our scruffy pioneer pulls out a harmonica from his coat pocket and begins blowing into reeds – the rest of our band of merry pranksters stomp on the ground, swinging between the poles. We hop between seats and slow dance to the vibrations echoing through the cars. Because the dance of the rubber tires on the tracks is the same as ours with her; a celebration of the squalid, of movement, of the transitory nature of our underground.

Up and down long staircases, when escalators stop moving and the power in the city has run out, the natural light and gusts of wind flood into the next station.

Between stations…

Bodies falling. Littered Garbage. Backpack caught between sliding doors. These are the things that stop the metros, hold up the lines. The heart lies somewhere beneath, always beneath, slouching somewhere with tracks stretching like arteries. The city is always waiting for the Metro.

Perhaps you’ve seen these things and written them down on a dirty napkin or a coffee cup. Perhaps you've decided not to throw it out because you knew that some of the great works could have been dispensed as trash, but instead they traveled in coat pocket and accumulated a night’s worth of words. Perhaps you’ve marked it in your notebooks and revisited it since, or never have but you know it’s there; and perhaps, after all of your Metro rides, there is something at every station that makes you think this city is truly your own. Perhaps we all think that, and the city belongs to us all.

We only met our friends in Little Italy because we accidentally took blue line one night and hopped off at De Castlenau, and all the while, at every stop, we heard mother’s voice ringing prochaine station as we clutched the reigns of the metro, reminding us that, like all other 67 stops, this place exists. Perhaps every city has its peculiarities, but we have our metro lines, our buskers, our pedestrians, and all those familiar faces we pass by every day in transit, or purgatory, or simply in the morning, before we take this very same line back home. Perhaps, you wrote it down and submitted it to yolk.

We’ll be waiting for you at the next stop.

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Additional reading

Sundogs

Flash-Fried 2.0

“IN TRANSIT, OR PURGATORY, I SUPPOSE…” Perhaps God’s been sold to you from a kiosk when you surfaced from the blue line. Maybe you bought him. Either way, there’s a wet pamphlet caught in the tracks of the rising escalator. Maybe you’ve heard the masked wolf-man draw out sad notes with a weathered bow on his violin, or, with earphones in ear, you descended the green line and watched a mad man silently saw at wood. And so, on orange, on green, on blue, yellow line… A pebble is kicked and skipped across tiled floors. Man picks up receiver to payphone and calls 1-800-Oh-I’m-Just-Looking-For-A-Good-Time. Sandwiches wrapped in cellophane. Coffee sold in Styrofoam. Concrete joists run East and West above our heads. Between all lines, we wait in front of a screen with the same advertisements. “Prochain départ, huit minutes.” You stand somberly on the line, waiting for the metro to come by and dare not step past the pebbled yellow border. They have all warned you – an electric shock – that sad electricity down below in mother’s womb. We wait like funnels to let those people come out, let them get to the churches, homes and grocers hovering above our heads. When the metro arrives and disappears beyond the bend, when the subterranean submarine launches off-island towards the Biodôme, you surface in the place where you can see the city from a distance, though only one track away. Other lines lend themselves towards surfacing and burrowing beneath the streets, rising from the hush into the hullabaloo of cars and traffic on Décarie. You find yourself anywhere in the city and feel that little pulse beneath you, the cement throbbing between your toes. On all the sidewalks you walk along, you see that big blue box with the STM arrow guiding you downward, towards… The jazz of the metro, the trumpet in your neighbors’ headphones, the whistle in an angry mother’s voice, the drum of a man asking for change: The effervescent bubbles rising that don’t quite make the surface, the heat bubbling beneath before the pot boils. And now I step into the light blue cart. Someone on facetime – someone crying – someone drinking (me too) – someone running around the poles – someone waiting for dear life that perhaps this very time, when slowing down en direction de Guy-Concordia, the jolt on track won’t be so abrupt. I am the odd body every time I step into a new cart. Eyes set in stone shudder from their rest to look up at me, leaning uncomfortably against the pole and waiting until the next procession, the subsequent fleet of bodies who become the next batch of strangers. The carts look to eat us whole, to make us one of the many sedentary crowds, ingest us into the sea of heads bobbing and leaning with every turn the cart makes, until we are one slinking unified body snaking through tunnels; worms dip into holes and you can see the cart before the cart before the cart before yours turning to a bend. More than often, I share glances and quick acknowledgements with those passing by. A woman holding plastic grocery bags looks out at the black tunnel through the window. I want to dance with her, though it seems like she’s got a hunch no man can fix and no doctor can diagnose because she has simply walked too many city sidewalks, up and down long staircases when escalators stop moving and the power in the city has run out… But the natural light floods into the next station. I look into the eyes of that single mother sitting in the cart over, and we see each other’s sad eyes, and our carts part in opposite directions, as is the way with all people we meet, and I am sad and feel my shoulder rattle against the cold plastic. I look into the dark tunnel at my own reflection, thinking of her until the next set of eyes I meet, until my reflection turns into the next station. Between stations… Bodies falling. Littered Garbage. A body upright and vertical topples to horizontal. These are the things that stop the metros, hold up the line. The heart lies somewhere beneath, always beneath, slouching somewhere with tracks stretching like arteries. The city is always waiting for the metro. … Perhaps you’ve seen these things and written them down on a dirty napkin or coffee cup and decided not to throw them out because you knew that maybe all of the great works could have been dispensed in trash, but instead they travelled in coat pocket and accumulated a night’s worth of words. Perhaps you’ve marked it in your notebooks and revisited it since, or never have but you know it’s there; and perhaps, after all of your cart rides, there is something at every metro station that makes you think that this city is truly your own. Perhaps we all think that, and the city belongs to us all. We only met our friends in Little Italy because we accidently took blue line one night and hopped off at De Castlenau, and all the while, at every stop, we heard mother’s voice remind us that this place exists. Perhaps every city has its peculiarities, but we have our metro lines, our buskers, our pedestrians, and all those familiar faces we pass by every day in transit, or purgatory, or simply in the morning, before we take this very same line back home. Perhaps, you wrote it down and submitted it to yolk. We’ll be waiting for you at the next stop.