On Mental Health: “blue”

Rondeau 3

She felt all sorts of colours, but she noticed blue the most.  Its thin translucent shade seemed to seep into the corners of her eyes, through her tear ducts, tainting everything in a filmy azure haze.  It was vague and arbitrary.  Resting above her heart, compressing the edges ever so slightly on good days, or sitting clammy and heavy (as a stiff tongue) on not-so-good days.  Such weight meant lengthy exhaling and slight inhaling, her chest exhumed its fire as the oxygen departed.  Her shoulders rolled forward, concave, curling inward.

The blue was pervasive.  It was a tinge with the boldness to disobey the doctors and smut her everyday life.  It was prescribed that she share sadness and cool shades with the therapist on Mondays, and reinvigorate her heart and head with pilates on Tuesdays and piano on Wednesdays.  Her room was painted yellow, an attempt to restrict pathetic fallacy.  From Thursday to Sunday she was unmoored.  In such barren gaps, she aimed for off-white and neutral shade.  A dank white was as martyred as it was innocent.  Shinning like an exemplary virgin untainted by any distressing moods, she perfected a bared-teeth smile and upturned eyes.  In the schoolyard and dining room such whiteness was encouraged by her mother’s wrinkled brow.  She floated down the sidewalk.  A wispy white cloud pulled through a royal-blue sky.

The abject arrival of the sadness dumbfounded the medical men.  No predicating calamity validated the diagnosis.  She was bred with a full palette.  Rosebud bushes and rose-rimmed eyelids.  Spinach salads and vitamins in colour-coded bottles.  It was juvenile and chaotic.

The flooding of blue necessitated a quarantine of colour.  Its existence was permissible, but in controlled segments.  She would be a swirling kaleidoscope.  In the turvy checkered shape, eyes would roam, seeing nothing lucidly.

But on Sundays, she found pleasure in evoking the hue.  Blue, cerulean, plum, indigo: she let her lips wander over their sounds.  Stepping out of the yellow rooms and white shrouds, she made her way to the seaside.  Alone at the cusp of this cumulative blueness, she could rest.  Other colours slipped off the edge and fell into its abyss.  Carmine reds, vivid greens and rusted oranges overpowered by the silver-blue mass.  She wouldn’t dive in- she was satisfied sitting on the shore.  Though comfort lie in this watery body, she held out for other colours to come through.

word by Keah Hansen

“I relate the colours of this piece to emotions.  The distinct yet blended shades symbolize the complexity of our moods, while the lines represent an artificial attempt to restrict or regulate feelings.  The prevalence of blue represents depression, and society’s discomfort with it.  While the protagonist tries to understand her mental state privately, she is subjected to regimented treatments.  Her accepting its existence is a cathartic step in recovering from it.” 

colour by Emilie Rondeau

“My visual practice is a transgression and alteration of our perception of reality. I encourage free and intuitive interventions. Although abstract, my paintings carry the memories of atmospheric gardens, nebulous spaces, organic landscapes and architectures. Made of solid and bright colours, washes, painted and drawn marks, the compositions are reminiscent of complex and dreamlike environments. From the infinitely big to the infinitely small, cosmic or cellular spaces transport us with a strong impression of movement and energy.

The lines intersect and intertwine, linking shapes and colours together. Sometimes fast and agitated mark making succeeds to slow and smooth gesture. Colour is pure and vibrant. The harmony is rich and thoughtful within the limits of strangeness. A delicate balance takes place in this continual research for new visual forms. The eyes travel, search and rest. My paintings are an invitation for a trip in between the painting surface and your mind.”

On Mental Health: “Fight or Flight”


It was an invisible voice, driving him onward.


He took comfort in knowing he wasn’t completely alone, but he paused, motionless, for someone else to lead the way.

“Hide,” the voice repeated, this time almost a shout.

Faint rustling, as someone else approached, were muffled through his own heavy breathing as he turned to stare, head on, into yellow evolving eyes. He was face to face with death.

He remained, unmoving, assessing what it would mean to his survival: the choice to fight.

He glanced behind his shoulder, out of options, as the eyes grew less distinct and he was forcefully pushed back into his helpless body, unable to run, no longer in time to hide.

Heart beating wildly, chest rising, yet he felt no air reach his lungs.


He opened his eyes and the room was no longer spinning—chest no longer growling. His stomach felt heavy, a bead of sweat meandered down his right cheek. He swiped at it, halfheartedly, with the back of his hand. There was no forest, no golden eyes staring him down, just a microphone in hand and an audience on looking, an uncomfortable pause between applause and speech, hanging in the air as they waited for him to begin.

“Yes-” he cleared his throat.

“Thank you all for coming out tonight.”

The hairs on his arm still stood on end. A shiver ran through his body. “Keep calm,” the voice now instructed.

He closed his eyes to shake himself of the attack, there was a bottle of Valium waiting for him at home, for now, the task at hand remained.

word by Annie Rubin 

From the author: “The harsh edges, intensely vibrant colours, and the vivid animal-like quality of the artwork inspired an intensity motivated by animalistic instinct. The jagged edges and bright lines were reminiscent of a sense of anxiety, in this case manifested in the form of a panic attack. Such an episode takes place as the body’s natural “fight or flight” instinct to combat present danger replaces logic. While many people have suffered from panic, our society rewards silence around the issue, perpetuating a stigma around mental health.”

colour by Marina Gonzalez Eme

politics of the locust pose


There was, of course, Joan.

It was Tuesday, and it was drizzling out of a low sky. The clouds looked preoccupied. Elijah’s 1900h yoga class was held in a studio on Delancey St. between Ludlow and Broome. Joan was one of the regulars. And on that Tuesday, she, Elijah, and I were the only ones who showed. The studio probably used to be a smoking room in one of the tenements, given the smell. Certainly the most curious item in there was a folding screen.

Tuesdays are my busiest day: I leave for work at 0630h, arrive at around 0800h, work until 1700h, whereupon I return to the lower east side for therapy, leaving me about ten minutes to get to yoga, which is thankfully three blocks from my house. As we waited for Joan, I considered the unpalatable pathos involved in paying someone to listen to your thoughts for a given amount of time. I am likely to discontinue therapy.

When Joan arrived she used a tissue to dab at the corner of her right nostril, which wasn’t leaking any material as far as I could see. She looked like a walking Nike advertisement and unrolled her yoga matt at about ping-pong distance from me. I have been doing yoga for four years.

Elijah began the session. He reminded us that no one was to speak. That this was an advanced class. I had done yoga with Joan for three of those years. A white noise machine hummed along outside the studio. Yoga has taught me many unexpectedly sexy facts. One is that if enough of the people in a room are quiet, you can hear the sound of perspiration. Another is that some people have the capacity to flex any combination of their abdominal “packs,” whenever they choose. And as I sank into locust pose, we sank into the quiet.

The session ended earlier than usual. Joan used one of the gratuitous Clorox wipes that Elijah leaves out to wipe the sweat off of her mat. When we leave the tenement, Joan asked if she could use the bathroom at my house because she lives back in Brooklyn, and my house was on her way to the F train. The air had the texture of a peach. It still rained. A picture falls out of Joan’s wallet; I pick it up.  Fog collects on the windows of every apartment. It was then that I learned that Joan is the type of woman who keeps a picture of her chiropractor in her wallet.

When we entered the house, I removed my shirt, soaked as it was from the rain. Joan found the bathroom easily enough. And I was slicing carrots for dinner when I heard the bathroom door open behind me. Joan said, Thanks partner. And as I began to turn, I felt her naked breasts drag across my back. My temple popped like a chicken you’ve left in the microwave too long.

word by Jacob Goldberg

colour by Andy Rofles 

From the author: “The chief thematic concern of this story is the nature of people beneath the masks that they sport everyday – and Joan is wrestling with trying to take hers off; she is trying to be human.”

Am I an anyday person?


When I lived in a tiny balloon, I did not know someone had the scissors. I thought the world was rubbery and hermetic, the way it feels when you read inside a moving car. Every day, every teacher, every traffic jam assured me that things were meant to repeat themselves – I thought that was the deal. Do what you are expected to do and everything stays in place. I paid a tax for every missed thank you – I got cornered through every lie. Parents, family, society, looking out for my way of doing things, holding me accountable for the perpetuation of our good values.

Us, we lived high on helium, so their tactics of masks and deceit stayed far. We kept them at bay with bunkers of reeky diaries, Michael Jackson shreeks and daily marble tournaments. I gave the fuzzy stickers to my best pals only, and together we read about species going extinct which we would grow up to save. We knew some were out to wreck it all with their boredom, and we were eager for our turn to come. We would make things right. We would melt the herd of frowns and expose raw beauty. It would shine invincibly.

Did we implode or were we severed?

Was it all planned or did it fester until it could no longer handle us inside?

One day, something cut the cord, broke the diving bell, and young oxygen became stale.

In some parts of the world, they train children to carry guns. In other parts, they train them to carry mortgages. In both, the key is to begin infiltrating the mind before it has the chance to form itself around the body that holds it.

This way, kids become anyone.

An anyday person among anyday people.

The last plane crashed inside because it wanted to die innocent. And then we popped: we stayed stuck in the free-fall for a long time, before there were ever any followers or any marginals. We used to be on the same page before they enlisted some on the front, others on the back, and crumpled and twisted us against one another.

I keep shards of childhood tucked beneath my veins, so that I don’t forget we all come from the land which growing-up destroys. I carry stickers that I give out to my best pals only. They read, “Do Not Ever Grow Extinct.”

word by Hoda Adra 

colour by Strautniekas

From the author: “The artwork inspired thoughts about childhood as a homeland, and how we might go through personal acts of resistance when faced with the pressure of belonging to the dangerous adult world.”



floating-away_650 (1)

Ken and Mavis lived at number 9 Flosstooth Avenue. Ken loved Mavis like a dog loves its favourite bone—he would chew on her every now and then to remind himself what true gristle could taste like, but then he would bury her, and all that she meant, and would wait for weeks or months until he dug her up to gnaw at her all over again. That way it was special, and that way Ken knew he would never get bored of his favourite bone. Mavis didn’t like being gnawed at every few months; she told him just before she asked him to leave that she expected constant gnawing. He hadn’t realised that, and offered to never bury her again, but by then it was far too late.

The summer before the end, the neighbours on the side with the dead rose bush that looked like a mutant spider moved out. A few weeks later a dual-cab UTE was parked in the driveway when Ken got home from work, and after some careful investigating from the kitchen window through Mavis’s homemade gauze curtains, Ken gathered that their new neighbour had moved in, and that he was a tall, broad-chested man, with the necessary bulges to wear only a singlet as he loped from his UTE to the door with boxes and bags. Ken saw that the man with the necessary bulges had two lean and hefty dogs. Ken was terrified of dogs, ever since he had been chased by a pack of gnashing greyhounds up and over the slide in the playground one afternoon when his father had forgotten to pick him up from school. He felt trapped in the house, and told Mavis about it when she came home weary from the salon, but she didn’t seem to be listening, and just stood and watched out the window until the sun went down and there was nothing to see anymore.

A couple of months later on a Friday Ken decided to leave work early. He arrived home to see that Mavis was already there, and though he called out for her in every room in the house but he couldn’t find her. Mavis didn’t like to walk anywhere; if her car was there, she had to be too. Ken poured the tap for the kettle and as he poured he looked through the gauze straight into the man with the bulges’ living room. There he saw Mavis, completely naked and dancing around the room with the man with the necessary bulges.

Ken hadn’t wanted to leave, even after watching Mavis and the man with the bulges in a variety of positions all over the living room that made him begin to sweat under his arms and in between his elbow creases. When she came home that night, crumpled and smelling of dog food, he had offered to stay in the spare bedroom. That she simply agreed, and didn’t seem to need to ask him why, told Ken that he would never unearth his favourite bone again.

word by Laura Mcphee-Browne

colour by Ilya Shipkin

From the author: “When I first saw this illustration by Ilya Shkipin, I saw the man and the dogs he was feeding as dangerous, as hostile. As I came back to look at the illustration again and again, I began to feel that there was a special relationship between the man and the dogs; that they knew each other well, and perhaps looked after each other.

My story, ‘Ken’ is about a man who does not feel comfortable in his own skin like the man in this illustration surely does. It is about the threat that confidence and mystery can be to a flailing relationship.”

caught us drifting


Well they caught us drifting through the fingers of trees, wandering in seamless departure from the essence of things. We withdrew and abandoned the impulse to document; to fix what is most fleeting; to brighten the darkest hollows of the mind.

An inhale the sound of a gasp:  to impress upon the skin of a page, we took the impulse of the full moon, drawn up from between the folds and foliage of the mind to smear the light of dawn, the pastels of dusk, refusing to lose the immediate pleasure of the tactile.

To make a mark, gesture upwards, scratch the ceiling of what is possible: We are unbound by flurries of furious distraction to grasp the instrument of our making.

Write it down. Make a joyful stain: etch what is unknown and unknowable until it hits the steady surface. We will not be impeded by what presses bustling against our shoulders and hips, urging us forward, faster, into action without a moment’s pause to ask ourselves, “Is this what we wanted? How many hours remain?”

We settled for hustling, propelled by the urgency of thoughtless expectation, unawake to the voices wailing at us from within our bellies, to create: to return life with life. We died every night in a stupor, tracing well tread neuropathways that brought us comfort and apathy. 

And they shook us at our core and said,

Hello! I am love with you! You are unbearably beautiful and you have so much more to give!

They asked us to document and fix what is most fleeting so that we never lost the tactile. They told us to seek light and a higher plane. They taught us never to settle. They said smear the light of dawn with your mouth, wake up and loosen the binds of your muscles to the bones and burn the sap that adheres to what is familiar. None of this is what you think, and everything you say will be used against you. Dark laughter is a censor that shows us what we hate in ourselves.

They told us to shed what is stale, reach gasping for all that is holy and alive in us.

Listen, they are whispering: know that the depths of the tides move in you as well. Bring them forth in offerance and in the most tender humility, children: you are holy and you are the dawn and you are so much more than this. We love you, and we are also trapped. Slowly, gently unbinding. 

word by Alisha Mascarenhas

colour by Sam Rowe

From the author: “I wrote this in a process of learning to persistently refuse the censors we are surrounded with: the pressures of productivity, the insistent draw to external stimulation that pulls us from our deepest selves, the infiltration of a busy world into the sacred realm of the mind. I wanted to honour the vital creative process, to respond to the struggle of validating this work despite all that tells us it is unimportant. And I wanted also to somehow draw light to those special beings, visible and invisible, who/that compel us to continue and show us the power of our own potential.”