by Gary Garrison
Author Gary Garrison worked for the Mennonite Central
Committee for almost a decade, coordinating visiting
programs in Canadian prisons. In Human on the
Inside, he gives us the personal stories of inmates,
guards, staff, and even one victim. Providing a
counterbalance to fear-mongering about criminals, he shows us the humanity of those caught up in the correctional system–and the difference volunteers can make in the lives of prisoners.
Join us for the official launch at
Thursday, March 5th, 7 p.m.
Audreys Books – 10702 Jasper Ave
Admission is free, all are welcome!
For more info contact 780.423.3487
Other readings will take place on the following
Friday, March 13th, 3-4.30 p.m.
Grant MacEwan University, Room 6-228
Hosted by the MacEwan Sociology Student
Admission is free. Pizza and drinks will be served!
Saturday, March 28th, 6.30 p.m.
First Mennonite Church – 3650 91 Street,
Volunteer Appreciation Night
Hosted by the Mennonite Central Committee
Open to all members of the public.
We hope you can join us!
The thistles insist they, too, belong
on the quarter near Ranfurly, Alberta.
Around wooden fenceposts, derelict tractors,
gray, swaybacked granaries, corrugated,
twisted, bent by too many prairie winters.
Nothing will even nibble on thistle stems,
the sharp barbs on every bud and leaf
enough to fend off even starving field mice.
But the monarchs, pink ladies, and bees
swarm the perfumed purple blossoms,
suck sweet nectar, stroke this one’s pollen
on that one’s pistils to make more thistles.
Red polls, swallows, hummingbirds
line their nests with thistledown, nurse
their princeling chicks on silken cushions.
When the nests fall apart, the thistle seeds
surf the gusts well into Saskatchewan.
Thistles love the west more than Scotland.
Their roots drilled so deep in subsoil clay
that when plough and pickaxe decapitate,
they sprout again and spread year after year.
They overwinter like locals, bear the snow,
the Arctic blasts, the 40 below Februaries
as well as the people who lived off buffalo
many centuries before there were fences.
Spitfires roar over the horizon,
swarm the countryside in sixes,
pepper with hot lead the freight trains,
the trucks, the horses and wagons,
anything that might feed the Nazi army.
In a ragged strand, families each day
from November to March trudge
cross-country in wooden shoes
60 kilometers from Amsterdam,
drag toddlers in toy wagons
through foot-deep snow
through shoe-sucking mud
through wind-driven sleet
to beg for cold potatoes
at the farmhouse door.
Over thirty thousand
starve to death in the city.
Sixty-five years later
the sixteen-year-old boy
from that eight-acre farm
still watches those faces,
still shudders in that cold,
still plants Bintje potatoes
in his Millet, Alberta, garden
to feed great-grandchildren.
No cars, no roads, 20 miles
or more from the nearest town.
A shopping trip two days, at least.
Three times a week the steam locomotive
chugs in loaded with groceries and visitors.
Dead calm endless boreal forest,
whistle shrieks, engine pants,
coalsmoke billows, sparks fly,
steel wheels rumble against rails,
clouds hiss out undercarriage.
On hot, dry summer days children crowd
dining car confectionary
craving ice cream, rare as cheese
from the backside of the moon.
Forty years he works the railroad,
hoists blackened ties to his shoulder,
disappears into the woods on his speeder,
bosses the crew to check and fix the track,
and always home in time for supper.
Now cars and trucks race up the highway,
snort exhaust, stuff their tanks full of money.