Issue 225: “At Daybreak”

For Jennifer 3 (1)

There is a room in the red house up the block that lets sound neither escape nor enter.  Its floor-to-ceiling window faces East.  The other walls are bare.  In the center of the room stands a canvassed easel off of which loosely hang a palette and brush.  But there are no colors to paint with.

At dawn, the woman who lives in the red house goes to the room and locks the door behind her.  She takes the palette and brush and settles in front of the canvas in a painterly posture.  The brow of the sun emerges from behind the buildings opposite her house.  The sun washes the room in the same hue as scrambled eggs.  She does not speak as she studies the canvas or the landscape in front of her.  She searches them with the intensity of one who is trying to pop her own pimples.

Her stomach’s growl sounds like someone squeezing an empty bottle of ketchup.  Every wall is a window.  The suck-suck of her heartbeat fills the room.  The woman dabs at the empty palette with the dry brush, which she holds the way you might imagine holding a wand.

The sun still rises. She runs the brush over the surface of the palette several times.  An inflating lung sounds like the hush when you go from out to inside a tunnel.   Her control of the brush for all intents and purposes seems limited to Mr. Miyagi’s recommendation to ‘paint the fence.’  The bristles on the brush appear frayed from overuse.  She has been doing this for a while.  Alive, she restores the palette and brush and leans on the wall adjacent to the window.

In this room, she is sound.

A crowd of boys on the street below walks hunched together.  One of them holds a baseball.  They can’t be older than fourteen.  The woman in the room smiles down on them as if they were her own children.  Her grin reveals that her 9th and 10th teeth have been badly broken.  The boys down below look up at her and mock her.  They pretend to paint.  The boys, they have all seen her before.  The woman’s expression, though, remains.

Her ears ring painfully as the glass shatters.  The room gasps for sound as would someone for air.  The baseball rolls across the ground and stops by the base of the easel.  The boys below laugh and walk away triumphantly.  The woman does not say anything but she has stopped smiling.  Their laughter hurts the way it hurts to have a snowball fight barehanded.  The woman wonders why they threw the ball through her window.  She spends the remainder of the morning picking up the glass shards and putting them in a recycling bag.

I wonder if she is a sad woman.

word by Jacob Goldberg

“The artwork that goes along with this painting gave me pause about how I can let technology control my life and consequently, forget to maintain focus and care about on what’s going on around me and inside me.  The woman in this story fights that as she is disciplined and compassionate – she just gets picked on for being different.” 

colour by Yukai Du, an illustrator and animator from Guangzhou, China, currently based in London.

“In 2012 I finished my BA Animation degree in Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, China.
‘Musical Chairs’ was my BA final project, also my first animation film.

Two years later I have received my MA degree in Central Saint Martins College in London.
I focused on research skills during my first year study in MA Communication Design
and then transferred to MA Animation in the second year for a more practical project ‘ Way Out’ – my second animation film.
Meanwhile, I have also been working as designer and animator in M-I-E studio, London.”

On Memory: “A Kind of Red”

Josh - Marina Gonzaleseme

There was a point, close to the edge of my memory, when all my stories started sounding the same, rehearsed; a point when I found myself clicking on the same websites every day, brain rotting, literally rotting in my skull; a point where rage and riot and raucousness were replaced by routine. I’m vitriolic in the face of routine.

I can’t help but feel like I used to be a much more interesting person. And this feeling, it’s pulling me apart. I can’t even tell youwhen I was more interesting – I just was. I can’t tell you what it was.

I’ve often wondered what might happen to my record collection if I were to up and disappear, what’s left of me no more than a puff of smoke carried towards the horizon on a westerly wind. Most of my stuff is just that, stuff…but my records? That’s me, man. If there’s one interesting thing about me, it’s my record collection. 

Faces on album covers, track lists, liner notes, mix tapes, Motown, delta blues, the Clash (original U.K. pressings only, fuck those American re-releases) and Abbey Road and the more obscure stuff, The Gun Club and Captain Beefheart all blur together to form a comprehensive understanding of an individual. My autobiography. The legacy of a puff of smoke. A subject for future study.

Even just talking about this, I can feel an uneasy frustration settle so deep it’s sticking to my bones. I am entirely unable to glue the interesting bits of myself back together. I’m grinding my teeth as I drop the needle on the turntable. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. It’s funny, because I feel red. 

word by Josh Elyea

From the author: “Perhaps more than ever, I find myself being pulled in multiple directions. I’m often disparate, distracted and unfocused in the face of constant stimulation (from a wide variety of sources and mediums). When I saw this piece, it spoke to that feeling in me, the idea of being pulled apart and never quite being put back together, of lusting after some evanescent sense of fulfillment that may or may not lie right around the corner. It was quite a visceral reaction, and it left me wondering if others experiences this sense of deconstruction as well, this feeling of not being whole.” 

colour by Marina Gonzalez Eme 

On memory: “self and other”


Despondent at the sight of her, waxing caramel and silk, bruising blue from apathy. Who it is I am looking for in the shape of her, the curve and weight of her bones. The scrutiny of this survey has everything to do with consumption. Mass of flesh, scent of jasmine, soap, talcum powder.

I become suddenly thirsty and my legs fold in like a hand. From every angle calls some small adjustment, something not quite in place, not quite concealed. I remember the shirts I wore in highschool, carefully selected from your laundry pile and big enough for my body to move beneath them unnoticed.

Meanwhile she moved with such a lightness I had never been empty enough to feel, spread her toes across the bathroom counter smoothing lotion into her calves; she had six children for the institutions of God and marriage. What I saw for the sake of this story was the width of her waist on an inhale, saw her spinning across the living room floor. She praised my poetry then stopped calling altogether.

Of course I never expected she would, and this is not really about her, or the blue light of my new apartment where no one eats and everything is covered with a film of dust and the smell of smoke. I blink into the mirror and take a sip from a white, enamel cup stained with her lipstick. I know that I will see her in the kitchen and she will have cut her hair again. She will be quietly frantic, pouring cream in her coffee and letting the filter drip. The garbage can is full of dust and the ends of her cigarettes stained with lipstick.

If the weight of my bones were a little less dense. If I did not bruise under the touch of her fingertips. I could step into this room unfeeling, dressed in animal prints and steel, chewing a stick of gum.

word by Alisha Mascarenhas
colour by Gan Chin Lee 

On Consumption as Religion: “Print Nation”


Print Nation


Oona was woken with a shove of the alarm. Thrust out from blissful nothingness through ever-lighter hoops, consciousness clicking its groove to bring a bleary world into focus. She passed the morning broadcaster in room 117B, tuning in to the daily download.

         … another day of fantastic performance with the corporation hitting total sales of 68 million yesterday – over target but as always, room for improvement…

Her crisp striped dress, fresh from the delivery draw, she filled her mind with the days work – excited as always.

          … and with 17 new opens yesterday and another 1300 upcoming until the end of this quarter we have plenty to get on with, it’s booming business as usual!’

Oona picked up the final piece of uniform, moved towards the sink; once again it captured her attention.


She observed the tiny dark red patch amongst otherwise perfect chrome tubing. The tiny rust that had evolved into a tiny leak with a tiny drip. The tiny puddle in the nook of the room.

“Did you find it?” said her sister.

Greta’s mousey brown eyes, squared and neat, glimmered like fish scales under the mirror light.

“Oona, you have to promise me this will be just ours. A bond between two chamber sisters.”

Oona knew that when she had to pray at day recap to MOD that evening, the Almighty One would know this memory.

“Block this out at prayer, it’s possible, I’ve done it.”

Greta’s fingers dove into the crack in the concrete where the puddle had been building, tearing out a piece. She scraped the dust away gently so they could see it.


 Small green straw with two small green spoons.

“Oona Forty-Three of Chamber 117B, do you know what this is? This is what the Customers call, a plant.”


The buzzer sounded for check-in. Greta covered up the corner with the dust then concrete and they grabbed their headphones before walking out the chamber.

The morning download finished.

        …And remember folks, one day we will get to the Golden Gates and that day we will all be rewarded by MOD.

Briskly they headed out before parting ways –Greta assigned to Food Print and Oona to Physical Server.

The shutters pulled up and in walked the first of the days Customers.

“Welcome to McDonalds, how can I help?”

word by Sam Fresco

From the author: “Once I received this image, I looked up some facts on McDonalds and was stunned to find the following:

  • McDonald’s feeds 68 million people per day – about 1 percent of the world’s population (and more than the population of the UK; twice the amount of Canada)
  • 1 in every 8 Americans has worked in a McDonald’s
  • McDonald’s’ $27 billion in revenue makes it the 90th-largest economy in the world.
  • On average, McDonald’s opens a new branch every 14.5 hours
  • A recent study by Scholosser (2002) found that the Golden Arch’s were more recognizable than the cross

So it got me thinking: what if it printed food took it one step further and printed its staff? In that case, where’s the line between a corporation and a religion- a CEO and a God?

colour by Kojiro Ankan Takakuwa

On Family: “Bug”

152251_orig (1)


when Benny was 1 and I was 7, I took him down to the park near our place on the lane named after Shakespeare

he’d been at the pool with Mum all morning, tucked behind the blue walls on Alexandra Parade, and his tuft of soft hair was still wet

he nestled into my arm as we walked along the cooking bitumen, and when I crooked my arm to let him in, he cooed like a bird would, if a bird was Benny

at the park I climbed us up the ladder of the slide and put his bum on the cool grey top of it

he giggled as I backed down the rungs one by one and as I walked away from him and the slide and the sand and the dog poo, I felt my heart get bigger slowly like a blowing up balloon

my heart kept getting bigger and bigger as I walked down the street towards the milk bar, and as I was paying for my lemonade icy-pole it burst

Benny was wailing when I got back

I told him I’d just gone to get us an icy pole and he didn’t have to be sad

he was choking on his tears but then the tears slowed to hiccups and then the hiccups slowed to snot and I told him he’d crawled into my heart like a funny little bug, and it was just as well you can’t spray bug-spray near your heart

word by Laura McPhee-Browne

“This painting is beautiful, and reminded me of familial love. 

It reminded about how it for me was when my brother was a baby, and how older siblings often experience a cacophony of emotions when they are confronted with siblings, emotions that are strong and fierce and both negative and positive.” 

colour by Kojiro Ankan Takakuwa