How We Deal With Trauma


word by Keah Hansen

colour by Garry Tugwell Smith

content warning: violence

Her steel flanks glisten under a sordid sun. Scream white when sparring with that heady fire which scalds and percolates. Steam abates and disappears under the softer consciousness of the moon. In a world of duality we see seek healing our gendered symbols. We trail our fingers with alacrity over constellations of great queens. Bury our toes in the soil of wildflowers.  In a world of gender, the male deftly danced us to the mantelpiece and left us there to sweep and decorate and gaze about winsomely. Coddling the hearth with a dainty steel prong. Another wary night- the room is aflame as steel and her fire twirl and jest.

At the present moment we find our battleship sinking into black waters. She heeded caution and wore her armour willingly, heaving bells of alarm when the first missile singed her pristine sides.  In that vast ocean of a house, the cries besides the mantelpiece dissolved at the mudroom, unheard by the neighbours outside. Dashed twice on the rocks; a champagne flute smote under his gaze; the fire burned the scented candle wax and the moon waned to hide the rosy cheeks of the slipping ship.

Watch her picking ash off her skirt. Laundering out the lingering smoke of last night. Watch him watching her as they resume position- his fire rising out of that chimney and filling the world with another declaration of maleness. The delicate steel prong with flower etchings rests mutely by morning, like the battleship that poises leaden on the ocean floor. Salty water urges rust to spread up her shoulders and into the newly formed cavities.

This water mutes and oppresses. It won’t offer rebirth to she who has so many others to birth and support. Her body is a symbol of victory for patriarchy- the self-effacing female imprinted onto the minds of millions like a postcard of a battleship at rest. A war song rolls over the banks, prettying words of chauvinism.

For now, we pour our healing and ourselves into smaller symbols of identity. The ocean will someday offer its support– after countless battleships have chipped away and yielded to the currents- then women too will claim this territory as reverential. The mythic female will nest in these digressive and mysterious tides and the battleship will morph into a chanting pacifist baring flowers and peasant skirts. Identity is formed by such symbols- the kind that animates and roars and threatens to enflame a house with words.*

From the author:

“As I started writing this piece, I was inspired by the symbolism of the sunken warship resting on a seabed, and reflected on the processes of healing for different types of people, honing in on women in particular. However, these musings inspired a digression on the symbolic as a catalyst for growth and as a figurative location for anchoring, which unleashed a self-reflexive essay on the transience of the meanings behind symbols and the potency in claiming symbols for tangible social change.”

Read more words on mental health by Keah Hansen

See more colour by Garry Tugwell Smith

On Art and Relationships: “Extending the Pattern”

for josh

word by Josh Elyea 

colour by Mojo Wang

          Jane knows that compartmentalization is the key to a healthy relationship. She’s put all the little boxes where they belong, and for God’s sake, she’s going to leave them there.

          Jack says the simplest things in life are the most insidious. Comfort, for example. No good can come from comfort, he says. He’s speaking while deftly disassembling a French press that hasn’t been cleaned in months; Jane is only half listening, since she’s just put on Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros and is ruminating on the late singer’s post-Clash career with a keenness she’s not able to summon for the tired lecture aimed in her general direction. Rather, she’s enamoured with the sound quality pouring from their new BOSE Sound System. You really do pay for quality.

          It’s only after a large purchases, like a new BOSE Sound System, when Jack and Jane fight about money. It’s only in those moments that Jane’s chosen profession matters; only after the limited square footage of the apartment has been claimed, carefully cordoned off with a clear presence on either side does it matter what she does for a living. Jack wouldn’t go so far as to suggest she do something else with herself; no, he’s fairly certain art is where she belongs. He’d sure to like to see her make some money from it though, and he’ll be damned before he feels awful for saying so. Or, at least, that’s how this argument went the last time they had it, and the time before, and before…

          It’s not like Jane is overburdened; student loans notwithstanding, she owes a few hundred dollars on a VISA and has an unpaid cell phone bill in collections (she’s only recently stopped receiving calls where a bland, deathly voice asks “Hello, may I speak with Mrs. Jane _____ about an outstanding and quite frankly egregious debt…”). Other than that, she doesn’t owe a cent to anyone. So she’s just getting by right now – so what?   

          Often, Jane wished Jack would try and understand what it meant to be an artist, what it meant to try and create something from nothing. She wished he wouldn’t stare so obviously when she said she didn’t make much progress on her novel that day, and that he wouldn’t move with such reluctance when removing his credit card from his wallet to buy things like BOSE Sound Systems. Hell, she wished he’d stop buying things like BOSE Sound Systems so she didn’t feel so indebted to him, so she didn’t feel like she owed him anything.

          Jane looks towards Jack and sees there’s a torn piece of wallpaper where the counter-top ends; looking behind it, she can see that the little black and white boxes don’t end where they appear to, and the pattern extends far beyond her cursory understanding of it.


See more colour by Mojo Wang


sleeping over


A prickling sensation creeps from the bottoms of her feet up the backs of her calves and thighs. The silkiness of the satin sheets underneath fades to cold cement ground. His left leg is sprawled just below her knees, occasionally twitching with the rhythmic echoes of his snore-embedded breaths. She doesn’t move it. Her legs can do the sleeping tonight. They can have the pins and needles. Since she too, with eyes wide open, is on pins and needles.

          When will he be gone?

Just like all the other ones.

That’s all she can think about.

College girls always joke about fears of waking up with a stranger in bed Saturday morning.

Her biggest fear on the other hand,

Is waking up without the stranger Saturday morning.

        “Don’t leave me tonight, okay?”


Honestly, it’s not because she cares about them (at least she tries not to). It’s not the who, but the what, that breaks her every time. It’s the reminder that to these thirsty bodies, she’s esteemed for nothing more than the vacant space inside her (and every other female). She’s a Marlboro. Lit up. Inhaled. Exhaled. Until the last bit of romanticism and hope is sucked out and released; foul and toxic secondhand smoke that pleads to be appreciated one last time before evaporating and losing all evidence of existence. Then disposed of. If she’s lucky, she burns out before they’re done (at least she’s left with some dignity). If she’s not, they’re done before she burns out. And she gets stepped on. With a little extra pressure in the toe box, just in case she’s not out with the first step.

Nothing more than a butt.

That’s what she is to them.

Why does she still do it?

Some presume she’s masochistic.

Some think she’s outright stupid.

However the rare few, like the one sleeping beside her right now, knows otherwise. He knows that behind her indifferent eyes, hidden emotions and sarcastic comebacks:

She’s been hurt, deceived, and mistreated.

She’s tired of clubs, parties and alcohol.

She hates empty words, hookups and promises.

She sleeps with both eyes open, because she’s reluctant to yet again lose this game that she thinks she finally knows the rules to.

She’s still hopeful.

What she doesn’t know, is that she has finally found someone, who feels the exact same.

Someone who is determined to dismantle her walls.

Someone who plans to patch her wounds with his own skin.

Someone who sees her not as a cigarette, but as a cup of coffee.

The Americano with a spoonful of sugar that he can’t start a morning without.

word by Eleanor Tsang

colour Pixel Pancho