CANADA is a country, a country carrying within its belly a myriad of races, dialects, clans and love. Where Laughter is abundant and stories of the land. A gem. Canada is an embrace of freedom, a ray of hope and a wink promise. It is country like any other country hated and loved. With its historical mistakes and its current successes. It is country gifted of writers and blessed of poets. I love Canada, the same way, I love all nations under this red, black, white, yellow, blue earth God created for us. I am overjoyed to meet a legendary storyteller from this great land of beauty and creativity. When at the same time our world is negatively thrashed to pulp by the menacing, ravaging and savaging virulent COVID 19. And as well shaken by the violent hand of Satan, Satan is racist, Satan is the stigma, Satan is Black phobia, Satan is White phobia, Satan is Indian phobia, Satan Chinese phobia, Satan is the devil. We are one, God created with same image and similar standing and with all his love BLACKLIVESMATTER and so #ALLLIVES MATTER. Today for the first we feature a short story sizzling with mounting tension, intriguing suspense . DARCIE FRIESEN HOSSACK is a professional Writer and a Prolific storyteller. UNIQUE. Her stories portray sloppy and rough terrains of Canadian traditions, family and historical moral trends. Darcie boldly wields her pen to tell intriguing stories of her land. HOSSACK is an award wining writer and the story teller in her has mastered technicality of mounting tension, conflict and intriguing suspense. TIME OF THE POETIC REPUBLIC is sincerely gratified to feature prowess and archive talent in the person of DARCIE FRIESEN HOSSACK, I welcome to the country code-named TIME OF THE POET REPUBLIC, Aluta Continua- (Blurb by Mbizo CHIRASHA)
SYNOPSIS OF LITTLE LAMB
Set on the Canadian prairies, where fields of wheat and other grains quilt the land, Little Lamb is the story of a Mennonite boy in the 1950s. Henry is the youngest of a family of brothers. In an environment that often takes more than it gives, Henry’s father is as harsh as a Canadian winter: determined that his boys will toughen up as they grow. The older boys have already learned. Henry, now, is next in line. Sensitive and sweet, Henry tries not to disappoint. But when he becomes attached to a late season lamb, he’ll soon find he’s fallen into one of his father’s lessons. Told through the voice of one of Henry’s older brother’s, the story is a heart-aching look at a story the author derived from the experiences of her own father.
LITTLE LAMB by Darcie Friesen Hossack
My brother may seem stupid. But really, Henry is just young. Not too young to know certain things, mind you. Like that we’re Mennonite. Which of course means we’ve received Menno Simmons book of enlightenment and understand that farming and inventing new ways to be backwards is the only sure way into grace. But that’s not good enough for Dad, so he’s made up his own footnotes. For example, we’re the last farm within a hundred miles to go without a flush toilet, and that makes us little closer to Heaven than any of our neighbours.
That’s the easy stuff to understand. The kind you just know because you’re born to it and it’s talked about all the time, at breakfast, dinner and supper and every moment that it can be crammed in between. Then there’s the stuff a kid can’t learn until he’s learned it. And like other things around here, the last to come is last to get a bag of sense. Or anything else.
Take, for example, the Sears catalogue. It’s Dad’s until he gives it to Mom. Then she tears out pages with pictures of practical things and saves them in case she’s allowed to order them. And when she isn’t, she uses them to line the kitchen drawers. That way, to get rid of all the mouse droppings that collect there overnight, all a kid has to do is crumple up some paper. Which is good, because unless you’ve tried to dig those little turds out of the corners with your fingernails, you don’t know how much easier the paper is.
Usually, the pages in the drawer’s picture things like grey wool socks, like the ones that get shredded inside our field boots by a mealy mixture of shattered hay and mud, churned with sweat that turns to mortar. But a sock can still be saved if you know how to work a darning needle. So, there’s no cause to be hasty ordering fresh ones.
A new pair every Christmas would be swell, though.
What I really regret about the catalogue, though, is that all the dirty pages are torn out of it; the ones with women in bras and girdles. I know Dad tears them out because he thinks we’ll sin with them while doing our business in the rheumy old out shed. As though anyone would want to be in that damp, creaky, reeking upright coffin a half-second longer than we have to.
After Mom and Dad have had their way with the catalogue, then it’s ours, and what’s left is a picture book of things we can’t have. Things Dad doesn’t think any kids of his could ever want. He’s too thick between the ears to realize that those are the pages that tempt us the most. Henry is only eight years old and he couldn’t care less about the pages with women’s torsos in their white cotton scaffolding. The only women he knows are Mom and the one-and-only teacher at our stupid school, and neither of them have anything under their dresses that any of us want to see.
Instead, when we got the last winter catalogue, reminding us that it was now 1954 in the parts of the world that weren’t Mennonite country, Henry was bent on getting a sled. Pretty unoriginal of him, if you ask me, since each of us boys wanted one at one time or another. When it was me, I even offered to do extra chores, which was pretty stupid. I got the chores, all right. But never saw a sled. Lesson learned.
But then Henry figured it out, too, when he inherited a pair of ice skates with the slackest boot leather you’ve ever seen. They’d already been worn by three cousins and our other two brothers. With no support, his ankles fells inwards and ached. It was colder than a witch’s tit that day, too (I learned that saying at recess from Erich Wiens, who everyone knows is going straight to hell). When my brother tried to skate on the frozen slough that he trudged a whole mile from the house to get to, the ice was too cold to thaw under the blunted blades, and all he managed to do was shuffle from end to end, his feet growing cold, then dangerously hot, then numb. Then he had to walk all the way home in the deep snow and, by the time he got back, was howling like we’d stuck him in the meat grinder. He blubbered even more when Mom dunked his feet in a bowl of warm water and rubbed his toes, which had gone white. But he stopped pretty quick when Dad came in and gave him the biggest bawling out of his life for being such a little wiener. None of his toes even fell off.
After that, Henry didn’t want a sled. He tore out the page with its picture, crammed it into his pocked, and snuck it into the outhouse with him. Exactly the way Dad worried we would if he slipped up and gave us a chance to go in there with the girdled ladies.
Of course, I didn’t see what Henry did in there, but I know. Same thing I did with a picture of a hockey stick once: Crumpled the paper to soften it slightly before sending it to a more fitting end.
So, instead of playing around, which never got anyone anywhere except roasting on the Devil’s spit, Henry has had learned to appreciate the distraction of hard work. But he’s got another lesson coming, I can feel it.
Problem is, he likes to clean the barn and, so far, Dad still lets him do it as often as he wants. Henry enjoys shovelling out the cement shit-trenches after the cows have been milked. He replaces their soiled hay with fresh stuff. And I’ll give it to him that it really is the better of the chores in any season. But it’s also a trap. Since the birth of a late lamb, Henry has tried to steal time from other things—like thinking about his sinful nature or praying for orphans in Bolivia. Instead, he hurries through mucking out the rest of the barn and leaves the lamb’s stall to the last.
I know Henry thinks I’m just like Dad. But I know the chill of warmth Henry feels when the lamb sucks on his fingers, eager for salt. I know, too, how my brother slides down to sit on his heels, to watch the lamb as it plays, all innocent and oblivious of what it’s for: To become lamb stew.
They’re all the same, lambs. Sure, every animal born on the farm is cute and whatever, until they get the axe or, like the kittens, dunked in the rain barrel. Or until they grow up, produce some offspring of their own, and then get the hatchet.
Henry’s lamb is no exception. It has spindly, elastic legs and it’s all stupidly adorable when it pops up on all four at once as if bounced, or nips at its mother’s tail or climbs up onto her shifting mound of wool. Henry laughs when it does that. He pinches his nose to keep quiet—he’s already smart enough to do that, at least—as the lamb teeters onto its mother’s head and then either falls or jumps into the fresh nest of hay. It sucks, and then sleeps, and then Henry comes to the house for supper at exactly five o’clock.
But Henry has gone and made a mistake today. He didn’t show up for supper. And although it was only a matter of time until he slipped up, now he’ll have to learn that mistakes never go unrewarded around here.
I’m the first to find him in the lamb’s stall. He doesn’t wake up until I roughly rock him with my foot against his hip. “Hey, Mary, wake up,” I shout.
Henry asks what time it is and I tell him that it’s “After supper. Mom’s worried sick and Dad’s sick of her worrying”. (That’s something that Dad would say). “He wouldn’t let us look for you until we all cleaned off our plates.”
You’d think we’d be hungry and grateful and want to finish our supper after all the work we do. But you haven’t tried our mother’s cooking since Dad hit the oldest, gnarliest, pronghorn deer on the whole damn planet with the truck and brought it home. I don’t know what part we ate tonight, but I think there’s a butthole stuck in my throat.
“Is he mad?” Henry asks, rubbing his eyes with his fists like a little girl.
“Are you stupid”? I ask, adding grit.
He wants to cry, I can tell he does. He’s thinking about throwing sheep dung at me and I wish he would. I probably deserve it, but it’d also wipe that quivering lip off his face if he did something that required a pair of balls. But the ringing sound of Dad’s boots clomping across the cement floor of the barn quickly makes Henry’s courage go limp.
Stand up. Don’t look up, I think, as loudly as I can.
But he stays down, with his legs folded behind him. He’s holding the lamb’s ear between his thumb and fingers, stroking it. If anyone’s ever asked for a beating, that’s exactly how to do it.
He looks up and I think, don’t look down.
He looks down, though. He knows he’s in trouble, but doesn’t get what he’s done wrong.
I know his muscles will be icy by now, from the cold that’s crept up through the cement to infect his legs, but Dad comes and towers over him, glowering long enough to make him really feel it, and then a little longer, for good measure.
“You come find me when you have something to tell me,” Dad says. He never says what we should come tell him. We have to figure that bit out for ourselves.
Before he leaves, Dad spits on the floor, as though he’s spitting the taste of fatherhood out of his mouth. Henry looks at me when he’s gone and I call him a little shit. I mean it to help toughen him because scar tissue is stronger than regular skin. Henry needs to learn that Dad doesn’t have any soft edges. He cherishes his anger, keeps it clenched like a closed fist around a sharp pebble until the stone has created a scar. He has a collection of these souvenirs, gained from teaching each of his sons a lesson.
By the next morning, Dad’s sighs are coarse enough to scour Henry’s shame, which he’s carried through the night, to a fine polish. I can practically see myself in its reflection.
It’s a school day today and we’re already late and waiting to be dismissed from the table. If we have to run to be on time, the breakfast that’s lumping in our guts will turn to cement.
“We have to go. The teacher will be upset with us,” Henry ventures thinly, a feeble attempt to save the rest of us. We use the distraction and leave him as a sacrifice. It’s him Dad wants, anyway.
“You go too,” Mom says to him before we’re all out the door. Then, to Dad, she says, “He’ll be late and Mrs. Kelson will think we have trouble at home.”
“You’re too damn attached to that lamb,” Dad says, unable to deny his wife’s good sense. It’s a parting shot that hits its target squarely between the shoulders before Henry limps away.
Outside, the lamb is in the barnyard with its mother, separate from the other sheep. Henry stops to pet it and tells it, “Don’t worry.” When it pushes its nose into his hand, he promises to be back soon. You can see that the affection makes my brother ache. The way he walks away from the lamb, I can tell he’s already learning.
I can tell, too, that Henry is nervous. When he is, he hums while he walks, fitting notes together like a puzzle with no solution. He begins to twist a frayed thread on the cuff of his sweater until it becomes a hole, its fibres reaching out to one another across the damage. He falls way behind by the time we’ve walked the two miles to school, and the next time I see him is through the classroom window when he nearly walks right past.
He slinks through the door and into the back of the room. He’s trying to be very small, but it only makes him more visible.
Later, when school is let out, we start by walking home with him. But he’s slow and mopey and we leave him behind to find his own way. Before we’re too far ahead, though, we turn back and bleat, “Baa.” We feel sly. Slick. Smart.
Henry takes our taunts and continues to shuffle, looking as though he’s been filled with lead by our shots. But we’re doing him a kindness. He’s about to find out whether he has enough scar tissue to protect him.
We’re the first onto the yard and so we’re the first to see it. We walk by, all of us, and look right at it. It’s the only way not to see.
None of us can run back and keep Henry from it now. He’s too close and he’s looking down at his feet, one shoelace trailing through the dust and tripping him.
“Don’t look up,” I say under my breath. But he looks up and sees Dad, sees the mat of bloodied white fleece that’s hung up beside him to be scraped. Except for its head, which still has its skin on, the lamb has been stripped to its sinews, and hangs from a hook through the tendons of its heels. Henry looks at Dad then.
“Don’t cry,” I say quietly. And he doesn’t.
“Don’t look away,” I say. And he doesn’t.
DARCIE FRIESEN HOSSACK is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta.Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), DARCIE is now completing her first novel where, for a family with a Seventh-day Adventist father and a Mennonite mother, the End Times are just around the corner. DARCIE is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, a chef.
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MBIZO CHIRASHA, Chronicler at Africa Writers Caravan. Founder and Author of the Time of the Poet. UNESCO-RILA Affiliate Artist. Featured Poetry Artist at WorldBeyondWar.Org. Freedom of Speech Fellow to PEN- Zentrum Deutschland,Germany..Literary Arts Activism Diplomatie 2020 Poet in Residence at the Fictional Café (International publishing and literary digital space). 2019 Sotambe Festival Live Literature Hub and Poetry Café Curator. 2019 African Fellow for the International Human Rights Art Festival( ihraf.org) , Essays Contributor to Monk Art and Soul Magazine in United Kingdom .Arts Features Writer at the International Cultural Weekly .His Profiles , Interview and Poems are featured on poesis.si ,in Slovenia. Founder and Chief Editor of WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS. Founder and Curator of the Brave Voices Poetry Journal. Co-Editor of Street Voices Poetry triluangal collection( English , African Languages and Germany) intiated by Andreas Weiland in Germany. Poetry Contributor to AtunisPoetry.com in Belgium. African Contributor to DemerPress International Poetry Book Series in Netherlands. African Contributor to the World Poetry Almanac Poetry Series in Mongolia. His latest 2019 collection of experimental poetry A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT was released by Mwanaka Media and Publishing and is both in print, on Amazon.com and at is featured at African Books Collective. Mbizo Chirasha is the Originator of the Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Campaign. Founder and Creative Director of Girl Child Talent Festival and GirlChildCreativity Project. 2003 Young Literary Arts Delegate to the Goteborg International Book Fair Sweden (SIDA AFRICAN PAVILION) .2009 Poet in Residence of the International Conference of African Culture and Development (ICACD) in Ghana.The Vice President of Poetsof the WORLD,poetasdelmundo.com ,African Region. Global Peace Chain Ambassador. 2009 Fellow to the inaugural UNESCO- Africa Photo- Novel Publishers and Writers Training in Tanzania. 2015 Artist in Residence of the Shunguna Mutitima International Film and Arts Festival in Livingstone, Zambia. A globally certified literary arts influencer, Writer in Residence and Recipient of the EU-Horn of Africa Defend Defenders Protection Fund Grant, Recipient of the Pen Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant. He is an Arts for Peace and Human Rights Catalyst, the Literary Arts Projects Curator, Poet, Writer, publicist is published in more 420 spaces in print and online.
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