“An Ode to My Vibrator” – Fiona Williams

Lethe for Word and Colour magazine 2017

Blue may be the warmest colour, but Purple is what makes me cum.

Many have come and gone and it is only you, my love, which remains constant.

You are
            my confidant—never have I known a greater intimacy

You are
            my paramour—you listen to direction well and never disappoint me.

I am Thankful (to all the gods I don’t believe in) that the stars led me to you, my love.

It has been a journey of self-exploration and

You have taught me the importance of learning to love myself.


these words by Fiona Williams were inspired by the work of Sylwia Kowalczyk

“Displaced” – Jess Goldson

Sylwia Kowalczyk Chicas Blue wall

Golf balls
Clamour away in my stomach
Creating a burdensome, sinking feeling.
A stillness
Brings the collision of emotion to a halt.
What’s forward
But terrifying uncertainty
The impossibility of backward motion haunts me 
A cry for help:
Find me
Hold me
Release me


these words by Jess Goldson were inspired by the work of Sylwia Kowalczyk

“glass” – jesslyn delia smith

Sylwia Kowalczyk_Chicas_Fox

i can will what
will come
in here

i’m some
how better
to breathe

what remains
of air,

where the
time stops, where
we’re left to know the

only by the light

this room is cold
and i am cold
but it is
mine, the

coldness too,

and though the perfect
light is warm

it’s some
thing better
to burn


these words by jesslyn delia smith were inspired by the work of Sylwia Kowalczyk

“Little Trophies” – Michelle Kelm


I wanted to run to the smaller car, the older model Toyota, its front end crumpled like a paper bag. I wanted to run to the aid of the grey-haired woman who was visibly shaken but not visibly injured, hands over her mouth, unsure of whether to get out of her car or not. I wanted to ask if she was okay, had she hit her head, was she dizzy. I wanted to say don’t get up just yet, catch your breath, does anything hurt, help will be here soon. But I was worried she’d brush off my assistance. I was worried someone else would run faster, get there first, and I’d be left breathless in the middle of a wreck, everyone wondering what the hell I was doing.

I wanted to call 911 and report the accident, two cars, one pulling onto a busy street, poor visibility, a tough spot for a left turn, the other going too fast, but I was sure someone else was already calling, and I’d just clog up the line. I was sure someone started dialling as soon as the tires squealed and the glass fell like ice in a warm front. The operator would be audibly annoyed at another call about the same accident. I might be the third, fourth even. I’d hear it in their voice.

I wanted to help the old man sweep the debris from the intersection. He’d come out of the barbershop with a push broom and worked methodically in neat lines. He was used to pushing hair across linoleum, and the tiny slivers of glass on the rough concrete fought him, springing into the air like mist under a waterfall. He rested often, and I thought about offering a hand, but I didn’t know if he’d be insulted. If he would think I was suggesting him incapable of the assistance that he so freely provided. That he might scowl and shake his head at me, certain I must be too senseless to identify my own way to be useful.

I wanted to comfort the passenger from the other car, the newer model SUV. She was probably the girlfriend or wife of the driver, the tall man who was pacing, concerned only about his vehicle. The passenger, the woman, was now sitting on the curb, shocked and in tears. I wanted to acknowledge her upset, to see what she needed. I could go in the corner store I was standing in front of and buy her a bottle of water, a package of tissues, but I thought maybe she’d think that was stupid or the ambulance would arrive while I was in the store and they’d wrap her in a blanket and give her water and tissues, leaving me to walk home carrying water and tissues that I didn’t need, left to sit on my kitchen table. How many days would I stare at them for? Little trophies of my ineptitude.


these words by Michelle Kelm were inspired by the work of Sylwia Kowalczyk

New Prose: “Bystander,” by Nailah King


The little boy screamed when he heard the sound of smashing glass. He crept carefully, his tiny hands grazing the hallway walls. He was petrified, but more scared that he would make a ruckus and make his mother angry.

He knocked on the door.


“Come in,” said the raspy voice behind the door.

The door creaked as he pushed it open. There, sitting by the window, was his mother. The white illuminating her dark brown body, her eyes seemed to glow in the dark.

“I heard a scary sound, Mama.”

She turned to him, all of her warmth filling him like a cup that runneth over. She gestured for him to sit near her. He climbed into her lap. She kissed his head and wrapped her frail arms around him.

“Did you hear it too?”

Her arms relaxed, she patted him gently on the knee.

“Yes, baby”

“What happened, Mama?”

He hopped off her lap, sitting closer to the window, peering out of it intensely, his eyes stirring.

“Where are they taking Daddy?” he shrieked.

She looked at him, sad for her child. Sad that he didn’t yet understand.

They looked down together at a man who had skin like their own. He stood planted, firm, bruises forming. The flashing light of the cop car cast an eerie blanket on the street, covered in red.

The boy whirled around, angry. He didn’t understand.

His mother turned away from the window.

“Mama! What are we going to do?”

She pointed at the cop car.

“Open your eyes, Charlie, and look,” she hissed.

The boy planted his palms against the window, his nose touching the glass, and he stared. The cop car windshield was broken. A bat, discarded, lay on the asphalt.

“It’s not Daddy’s fault,” he murmured, tears stinging his eyes.

His mother merely nodded.

“He did say, if they came back…something would happen,” she said in a sibilant, almost to herself.

He looked out again. There was a woman in a hat staring back at them. He burst out of the room.

“Charlie! Where are you going?” she asked.

But, he was gone.

He struggled to push the heavy building door. Then, he saw her.

He stood there, staring as her blonde hair rustled in the icy wind. Goose bumps dotted his arms. He forgot to bring a jacket.

The cop car was long gone. He didn’t know if he’d ever see his father again.

The woman kneeled, still facing him.

“Did you know the man they took away?”

“You saw it! Why didn’t you help?”

He pushed her and watched her fall to the ground, as if in slow motion. He watched her tumble, instantly regretting what he’d done. Still, he stood with his tiny frame, chest rising and falling with anger. He said nothing, as she had done.

He walked back to the building and reached for the correct buzzer.

Above, a woman in all white looked out the window.

these words by Nailah King were inspired by the work of Mairi Timoney

New Poetry: “Later,” by Jess Goldson


‘See you later,’
I say to you
as I leave you for the last time.
I do not know it yet, but when I return
our pool will be dry.
There will be no evidence
of our glorious summer days
soaking in the sun;
nor remnants of our gin-soaked laughter,
as we trudge through the snow in the winter.
You are gone; I wish I were.
I see telephone lines as they reach through the countryside,
searching for you,
and I feel your voice vibrate through your body,
while I rest my head on your chest.
I see the curve of an arch,
and I remember how miraculously our bodies fit together.

these words by Jess Goldson were inspired by the work of Mairi Timoney

New Prose by Josh Elyea: “On Punching a Nazi”

Passing Through


He had a habit where he’d slowly and meticulously pull the hairs out of his beard and pile them, as though they were kindling to start a fire, on whatever surface lay in front of him. It was a disgusting habit, one he was not fond of and one he would’ve judged others for having, and despite his most earnest and steadfast attempts, he was simply unable to quit it.

He wondered if that’s how Trump supporters felt about their casual racism, about their callous disregard for their neighbours. Maybe they wanted to stop, he said. Maybe they were aware of the shame of their habit, maybe they knew what they were doing was wrong. Maybe they just couldn’t stop.

Who cares whether it’s conscious or not, she says. This is the 21st century—we have Google and Wikipedia, for chrissake—and you’ve got the totality of human knowledge at your fingertips. There’s no excuse for ignorance, she says, and he knows she’s right. She’s cool, of the old-school variety. Think Dana Scully, but with more heart. When she speaks, it’s with a sort of callous candor, a ruggedness of speech that only works when underscored by a passionate sincerity. She listens to old jazz records and calls Louis Armstrong by his proper name (Satchmo, she says with love, and she blows him a kiss across the time-space continuum). As he stares, it seems as though she’s blurred into the landscape, a variety store Venus on the warpath, ready to lay waste to the barbaric conservative politics that have, almost overnight, eclipsed the American consciousness.

The future is female, she tells him, and he knows that she’s right. How could it not be, with an arbiter like this?

Maybe it’s time to take off the kiddie gloves, she says. Maybe, just maybe, the left has been playing nice for too long, and it’s time to stop rolling around in the mud with the GOP.

It’s time to call alternative facts what they are: propaganda.

It’s time to call Trump’s Muslim ban what it is: racism.

It’s time to call the alt-right exactly what they are: Nazis.

Maybe it’s time to stop giving credence to the idea that we’re all entitled to an opinion, regardless of whether that opinion is right. You’ve got the right to an informed opinion, but fuck those people who choose ignorance over equality. Maybe we need to stop playing to our slowest members, and maybe we need to grab these petulant, misinformed, archaic relics of a bygone era by the scruff of their hypocritical necks and smack them until they realize that the only ones who don’t deserve a place in the world we’re building is them.

Of course we ought to strive to live in harmony, of course. In fact, that’s exactly what most of us are trying to do. But there comes a time when punching a Nazi isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do.


these words by Josh Elyea were inspired by the work of Mairi Timoney

New Prose by David Emery


A house is not the same twice. Even if I stare long and hard and try not to blink and let the breeze distract, the house changes right in front of me. That was and was not my room. That was and was not the crooked porch roof. Was that wall always that short? It’s not the way I remember it and can’t be. How dare the house change? How dare it bend time and space? A person can’t be prepared to expect that. It used to be simple to start at the mouth of a neighbourhood and make your way to the belly. When you’ve been gone from a neighbourhood for twenty years, and you make your way back to that neighbourhood, that neighbourhood tries to throw you up.

Some neighbour I don’t recognize gives me a dirty look from two doors down, watching me to see what I’ll do. She’s tired of watching kids break through the plywood planks, carrying spray cans in their backpacks; when she calls them out they laugh at her wrinkled face and toss rocks at her Oldsmobile. You can’t blame a woman like that for being suspicious. I don’t half believe I’m standing here myself. Down the road, kids play ball hockey, treading new marks into freshly seeded grass, thrashing their sticks against the concrete curbside, taking chips out of something that always kidded me into seeming permanent. It would always be the same street and the same sun and the same gardens and trees, but at some point it stopped being the same. Now it stands here like a forgetful elderly relative, politely asking for a reminder, some flicker of a memory I can lay before it to make the house say, “Yes, I am the house you remember; you have all my love, you always have and always will.”

You don’t grow in a house. The house shrinks around you, becoming too small for your body until you have to escape through a front window before it splinters and cracks from clenching at your waist. Mostly they don’t bother to knock houses down. Curious. They stay standing and you keep growing and before you know it everything is in bits and pieces. This house is a standing nightmare. I wish I had the guts to step inside and reclaim that bedroom that was and was not mine. I’d yank the plywood out of the window and stay looking out at the streets until the sun went down, and the kids playing ball hockey were called in to eat, and the falling sun spread rays through the branches of the trees that have also changed, and the woman eyeing me suspiciously called the police on me.

If I’d been dragged out of here by force twenty years ago, that might have killed the urge to come back. I wouldn’t be standing in front of this house, watching it change, feeling myself shrink, feeling digested.

these words by David Emery were inspired by the work of Mairi Timoney