Daniela Elza & Anne van Amstel

What Leaves

     We met in a poem with a tree in it,
     shedding its leaves on an old continent.

     The branches that sheltered us have grown.
     We keep coming back to their embrace.


     We are still together in a picture on the wall.
     It falls down from time to time.

     Each time we hang it up,
     we trust in the same rusty nail.


     How the light sits on those leaves
     before they throw themselves to autumn.

     Each year we save some from the mouth
     of a devouring god.

     Their reds, oranges, and yellows
     will last at least until spring.


     Our tree has a red mark on it,
     barely visible in the dim winter light.

     Its branches throw shadows across our walls.
     We live in fear of the axe.

Reading by MA|DE, who collaborated on “Death Goes Green.”

Roxanna Bennett & Khashayar Mohammadi

To Be Sifted

     R. “to be sifted is to be fiction”

     I am Buddha & so can you
     be a black-eyed Susan

     in a livestreamed zoo,
     everything’s connected

     in this beautiful world
     to the birds of prey,

     scarab beetles, trepanning,
     the nether world, fake cedar

     stain deck whorls, seven studs
     lined up in a row

     like a spine full of bolts
     Habit merely March, inward

     violets, across the street,
     windows, more daily unravels

     the dog cries in its sleep, who knows
     what brokenness crosses the cut

     O I know nothing, it is bright
     on either shore, the moon is cold,

     not what it was, thinned at
     high tide, silent engines

     approaching widening
     the light.

K. Under the Bodhi tree

     my only empathy
     is on the silver screen
     and I say
     y’know I feel it too
     that a body/
     into predicament
     can muster enough
     joy to forget
     |                      \
     and the stoics
     taught complacency
     to escape the guilt
     that befell all sitters
                      |     and     |
                      we sat und
                      er the tree
                      and we lea
                      rned and w
                      e learned a
                      nd we lear
                      ned and w
                      e learned  \
                      |     that        \
                      if we tree-sit fo
                      r long enough w
                      e can heat up one
                      another’s cheek with a
                                                and hear



Death Goes Green

     One species’ trash is another species’
     sustenance, this is the paradigm
     of all endurance. Endings in
     unended landscapes. An ant

     responds to its hill, ergate child
     held close by gravity. The sky looks
     bigger today. Absence will do that
     to a space, like when fungus disappears
     plastic into itself. But death has always
     been green like that, its bone roots
     reaching out — pushed into living soil.

     Escape from Trash Mountain, so many
     unmade things. The bears play dead;
     an old tree falls and they pretend
     not to hear. Close their eyes to the night
     and make the moon disappear.

     Garbage is never ugly in the dark.
     The moon does not exist if nobody
     is looking; it goes out like a snuffed
     candle when the sun blinks.

Manahil Bandukwala & Conyer Clayton

from Sprawl

     At the same time I sip
     from an ice-filled cup,
     what luxury, someone struggles
     to breathe.

     We exhale cautiously —
                         now air is poison.

     in Karachi or Kentucky or

     a woman
     wakes up from a gentle dream.

     Warm winds and soft
     grasses. Vibrations
     of a passing herd.

     A friend once told me
     that ecosystems thrive
     when we forget them.

     Will we flourish
     when we are lost,
     squinting toward
     the horizon?

     A wagon wheel digs
     deeper into muck.

     In a place

                         far far away

     there is a hill with no footprints.

     There is a hill with no footprints,
     a river unswum, an island

     that rose and fell
     without a person knowing.
     It was lost

     and its unknowing
     new flowers bloomed. Colours
     and scents we’ll never know.
     Our decades of excavations

     refill themselves. A year from now
     we can claw back
     our way to where we were—

     or become forgotten ecosystems.

     Warm winds and soft grasses, yellow
     wildflowers on parkgrounds.

     We can know riot but now,

     can we learn to wait? For summer
     to solve our problems.
     A flash thunderstorm

     cleans the garden. The flowerbeds
     are ready for planting.

Azlen Elza & Daniela Elza

teaching a machine to write poetry by feeding it my body (of work)

loss .08

     the maple leaves [     ] gather
     with their blue hands
                                               even the story
                                               of the mind     that blue fan

     my intro—      preens language            (bet
     the fire there the words
                                                            (the sun—

                         was to the lake swirling
                         a lash of gravity lingers into the night

     like mourn.
                                             she said
                                                            by name.


     in the silences
                         anthologies of our need
                                   words them into harmony

                         we feather what is absent
     them & crow
     surface of the poem

     you wake the sky
     the trees are pools of words to you.

     the thin blue     how     beyond hope
     intro—           what is not of

     you are caught into      chain      the city.
     [     ] your name forms a hollow
                                                            a cracking

     the absence that meets the mind

                            the children remember
     when the breaking

                                                their dead
                                                we do not [     ]

     the mind’s pool of words
                                                  with fallen rain

     the musty rooms
                                        too burdened
                                                                                by histories.

     the grammar of the wings

     here      I could be said      (in the story.

     I am me      now.

     their beaks into a thought

                                        the egret
                                                  so still
     the horizon.

Kate Felix & Leo Guipard

Leo Keeps It Real


All artwork created for Is This A Good Time by Tristan Onek’s AI Aesthete.

Manahil Bandukwala is a writer, editor, and visual artist. She is co-lead of Reth aur Reghistan, a literary-visual arts exploration of folklore from Pakistan, conducted in collaboration with her sister, Nimra Bandukwala. She is the author of two chapbooks, Paper Doll (2019) and Pipe Rose (2018). She is on the editorial team of Canthius, was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize, and won Room’s 2019 Emerging Writer Award.

The disabled poem-making entity known as Roxanna Bennett gratefully resides on the aboriginal land covered under the Williams Treaties of 1923 (Whitby, Ontario). They are the author of the award- winning Unmeaningable (Gordon Hill Press, 2019), unseen garden (chapbook, knife | fork | book, 2018), and The Uncertainty Principle (Tightrope Books, 2014).

Conyer Clayton is an Ottawa-based artist and gymnastics coach, originally from Louisville, Kentucky. She has 6 previous chapbooks and 2 albums and currently writes reviews for Canthius. She is the winner of Arc’s 2017 Diana Brebner Prize and The Capilano Review’s 2019 Robin Blaser Poetry Contest. Her debut full-length collection of poetry is We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite (Guernica Editions, 2020).

Azlen Elza is a computer programmer and designer whose projects lie in questioning or inventing the future of human-computer interaction—whether designing new ways to learn using technology, teaching artificial intelligence to create art, music, & images, or (as in this case) fine-tuning these algorithms to collaborate with us on poetry.

Daniela Elza’s poetry collections are the weight of dew (2012), the book of It (2011), milk tooth bane bone (2013), and the broken boat (2020). In 2011, she earned her PhD in Education from Simon Fraser University. Born and raised across three continents, Daniela is used to crossing borders, to dwelling in liminal and in-between spaces. To date, she has worked with over thirty collaborators.

Kate Felix is a writer, film maker, and failed home-schooling parent from Toronto.

Leo Guipard is a newly minted fifth-grader. He hopes to become a jet plane pilot before they all get replaced by drones.

MA|DE (est. 2018) is a collaborative writing partnership comprising interdisciplinary artist Mark Laliberte and writer Jade Wallace. Their poetry has appeared in Vallum Magazine, Poetry is Dead, PRISM International, Trinity Review, and elsewhere. MA|DE’s debut chapbook, Test Centre, was released by ZED Press in 2019, and they are currently working on their first full-length collection.

Khashayar Mohammadi is a queer, Iranian-born, Toronto-based poet, writer, translator, and photographer. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks Moe’s Skin (ZED press, 2018), Dear Kestrel (knife | fork | book, 2019), and Solitude is an Acrobatic Act (above/ground press, 2020). His debut poetry collection, Me, You, Then Snow, is forthcoming with Gordon Hill Press.

Anne van Amstel is a Dutch poet and psychologist. In 2016, her third book of poetry was published by Nieuw Amsterdam. She is a regular poetry contributor to Hollands Maandblad, which rewarded her with its 2015 poetry prize and in which she has recently started to publish short stories. Her work has been included in about thirty collections of poetry. Together with Rob Kloet, drummer of Nits, she made the CD Vlinderslag (2009). Anne lives and works in Amsterdam.

Is This A Good Time: divination collaborations was edited by Síle Englert & Andy Verboom and published by Collusion Books (in collaboration with 845 Press and its ebook, June 2020: A Pandemic Anthology). Collusion Books, an imprint of long con magazine, operates in K’jipuktuk, Mi’kmak’i, the traditional, unceded, and unsold territory of the Mi’kmaq. We are all Treaty People.

Is This A Good Time: divination collaborations is copyright © 2020 by Collusion Books. All rights reserved by the named contributors.