my atlas

2 - Leah

I have to confess to being an absolute intolerable lay-about for the past twelve weeks. Never before has so many eggs on toast been consecutively imbibed. But after week twelve, something changed. You see, I began being able to read the brightness of other people’s souls.

Now – bear with.

I would never lie to you, my reader. A few nights ago, I was watching the box and I could see and feel the density and energy in the souls on screen, you see.

Imagine a sort of X-ray sense, an unlocked potential from partially losing my vision. Not better hearing but a heightened instinct for character.

Quite quickly I’m proud to say I started spotting a pattern. It wasn’t to do with how ‘famous’ or how ‘good’ humans they were, nothing as crude as that, it was to do with their real actions in our little society, you see: watching the whitest ones shine darkest.

The real problem whirs in our nightmarish collective of unhappiness and inequality… while the rich get richer, they stamp up the prices of opportunity and education. Meritocracy?

Bullshit, I’ve always said, only difference is that it’s now in my face, glowing from the screen. Can’t ignore it anymore.

As I watch the oozing blackness pulsate around every orifice of the spiffingly rich and white, I begin to realign where I stand in this mess of a melting pot.

I’m now the guardian of the gates, the one thing that has the god-given ability to grab the status quo by the horns and flip it on its head.

I can physically suck out their prejudices…

I can cure them of their illness.

word by Sam Fresco

colour by el Decertor

bonsais and bad manners


My ticket is one-way, CHICAGO-SEOUL. I’d always wanted to go to Chicago- Bill Murray is from Chicago, and Harrison Ford, too- Han fucking Solo and Indiana Jones. My layover is four hours- not long enough to leave the airport. I’m hungry. Can’t find a place that sells deep dish pizza. Can’t find a deep dish pizza in O’Hare. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough. Maybe it’s just 9:30 A.M. I try to meditate.

I must look ridiculous, sitting cross-legged in my Chucks and leather jacket, trying to ignore the hustle of the masses, molasses. Worrying about looking ridiculous defeats the purpose of meditation, I think. Can’t focus. Take out my laptop. Twenty minutes of free Wi-Fi: That’s all you’re given these days: Twenty minutes. A taste. Bastards might as well be pushing drugs. Take out a book. Kerouac’s Dharma Bums. I read it writing my thesis, not the same as reading it now. Get on the plane. Take off is bumpy in the tail. Cruising altitude.

The sun is so much brighter above the clouds. This is the closest I might ever be to it, I think. I watch the wing tilt up, towards an ethereal blue. People sneer at me and the angry sun streaming in my window. I feel like I’m watching myself from the cloud, or from the ground, like a bird. They’re trying to sleep. I don’t care: Nobody should sleep this close to the stars. Jimmy Page massages my eardrums with the Ramble On as I stare over the pillow-soft clouds. Zeppelin II- so underrated. I remove my headphones when I notice my neighbour talking to someone in front.

Now you see here, Chuck, alls I’m trying to say is equilibrium is possible, even if you have to fly 32,000 feet to find it.

This cowboy, looking like Woody Harrelson, steals me from the clouds. Maybe it is Woody- sounds like him. I’ve been awake too long, I think.

It’s about balance, he says. He is talking to the chair.

Are you talking to me?

Who else?

My name isn’t Chuck.

Look, there: Perfect sorta balance. He points out the window. Man wound tight as you oughta realize there’s a simplicity to this: Equilibrium. You’ve gotta learn to balance your fuck yous with your Feng Shuis, your Bonsais with your bad manners.

We’re flying to Korea, not Japan- wrong Asian country.

I’m saying that in a backwater Buddhist temple or here, up here, at 32,000 feet, you’ve gotta realize you won’t have peace until you reconcile your recklessness, you hear?

I wanted to reach out and touch his hand to make sure that he was real.

You’re pretty smart for a cowboy.

I’m not smart, don’t know a damn thing. He lowered his Stetson over his eyes. Just a man who has to fly 32,000 feet to find his equilibrium, ‘course.

Bonsais and bad manners… I looked back over the clouds. Made sense up here, down there?

word by Josh Elyea

colour by Jade Rivera