Issue 217 (Gender, Sexuality): “IN THE BATHROOM”



May and Silas lie on the bed. May knows that it would be worthwhile having sex right now—to feel close to him, to remind him that she is not ordinary. Right now she would rather have sex with her substitute science teacher (he had that hair that she liked, it licked up the back of his neck) or the butch woman who had stared at her in the waiting room at the dentist after school yesterday. The staring had made her go red in the face and her vagina spasm in a way that Silas’s gaze hadn’t in months.


Silas turns his slender frame towards her. He is fine and delicate. I’m bored, he grins, let’s cuddle. She grins back and stretches out her arms to pull him in—her arms over his shoulders as always, her body bigger and darker than his will ever be. They kiss and then she pulls back just enough for him to pull back too. Do you want to, he asks, hot breath smelling of closed rooms and wet toilet paper. She pauses. Yes. His eyes coat her in beauty—when he is aroused she feels like he sees her better. She can toss her head and whinny, like a mare, and he will kiss her pulsing veins. They help each other to pull off their clothes: her undies, his exhausted boxer briefs. There is always a laugh here, when her undies are down around her ankles and she is shifting and twisting to fling them off. Sexy, he says.


Moans. Noises she never makes at any other time but that she consciously makes now. Light, quick breaths on his collarbone and light, quick bites of his stretched out neck skin. She doesn’t feel like it until his penis goes in. Then it does feel good, good, like she tells him.


May rolls over, taking Silas with her until he is underneath. She can feel the sweats of each of them slipping and creaking against each other.  She is provocative up here. Silas is beaded lightly all over and his eyes bulge. May resists an urge to reach out and gently move his hair from out of his eyes. This must be over quickly before the sheen wears off and he starts to see the hair on her arms, her pores. Silas tells her he loves her. She feels the warmth of the words in her fingers and her vagina aches just behind and below the labia when she looks down to see his light tuft and her dark one, their tufts, bouncing against each other.


Silas pulls her hips tight in against his own and heaves at her, the sound a bath drain slurping. May breathes out and pulls the sheet across her shave-cut legs. She will bring herself to climax later, will run the tap to quiet her sounds, in the bathroom.

word by Laura McPhee-Browne

From the author: “I saw this art piece as the collage of a girl going through the emotions of becoming a young adult.

This art piece brought back to me the insecurities, anxieties and play-acting aspects of being a young woman, and I decided to write a story that delved into the mind of a young woman trying to be ‘normal’ and to do ‘normal’ things, such as having satisfying, meaningful sex with her boyfriend, despite the ambiguity and complexity of such an act.
Through my story, I also wanted to get across how much pressure there can be on young women to be ‘nice’, to be ready and willing, and to be relaxed, and to sacrifice their own pleasure and well-being for the sake of men, when this is an impossible and unrealistic expectation. I believe that the various slogans in the art piece, ‘BEING NICE IS COOL’ and ‘DON’T FRET’ are the slogans that young women chant inside themselves, when really it should be okay to not be okay.”

colour by Jasmine Okorougo

On Transphobia: “In the flickering light of Bruce Jenner”

11042014_10205205042341878_1057056267_nI should have known because she’d lit a candle- no one lights a candle without some kind of intent. They’re symbolic markers of the passage of time; it would be karmically careless to burn them without a reason to.

But my willful ignorance has gotten me into loads of tight spots: I dress for the weather I want, not the weather it is.

She was painting her nails and she blew on one as the man on TV teared up, eyelid flickering.

      “Do you think he’s lying?” I asked, as if this stranger’s life were a card I’d been dealt to judge. 

She’d lit this big candle and it was just sitting in the middle of the table, like, here it is, I want to fuck you. And I couldn’t help thinking the whole time about this conversation I’d had about how it’s bullshit that a woman is supposed to capitalize on sex, like it’s still an economic equation where it’s all she has to sell and gain by, and yet, I saw that candle and felt like I was probably going to give something away for free.   

      “I think if you feel like a woman, then you are. I believe in that,” she said.

Not a woman, I thought: you can’t decide to be a woman, can you… you can’t know what it is until you live with the certitude that someone could insert a new life into your own body… the uterus, soil for colonization…    

I took her from the front, time burned, and the next day my hair smelled just like the candle and I wondered how much it had cost her.

      “Haven’t you ever looked in the mirror and known that the person that you are is more attractive than the face looking back?” she asked.

      “Are we attacking my looks now?” I said. 

      “No, see, who we are is more important than what we are. That’s why we’re different from animals. That’s why we can be women without uteri, or men with them.”

word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour by Marcus Denomme

Dénommé is currently based in the Coast Salish Territories of so-called Canada, Marcus Dénommé’s works use abstraction to disrupt and critique institutional norms.

Coming from a background in street art, Dénommé’s multi-disciplinary work ranges from expressionist drawing/painting, to relief and estisol printmaking techniques, to performance art, and can be recognized widely throughout Canada.

Their work has been displayed in the Foundation Exhibition at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2015), and all the way to the public murals of Haileybury, Ontario (1995).

Dénommé seeks to engage with the communities in which he is living, and to use art as an accessible voice against patriarchal colonialism.

Support Word and Colour’s live art event!





she dreamt in tiny fists

untitled (1)

She dreamt in tiny fists. The fever pushed at her eyelids when she kept them shut, and leaked out and over when they were open. Each morning Nathanael came to her with tea and the newspaper and an orange but every afternoon she woke to find the tea cold and the orange so soft and pungent she had to pick up and throw it away, an effort that made her grunt—a wild sound against the curtains.

She didn’t know what day it was, or what time it could possibly be. She only knew that she threw the oranges in the afternoons because of the clock that ticked like loss on the blue wall. Sometimes she threw the orange at the clock, but it was invincible.

Each hour became a cold and wobbly upper arm that no one ever touched or thought about. Perhaps this was what depression was like, she thought, as she blew her wretched nose and spluttered into the sleeve of her dirty nightie, but it wasn’t: she could see that through the waves.

Once, after throwing the orange and wondering for a long time whether it had landed on the air vent where she imagined it heating up and bleeding out onto the floor, she sat up and turned and bent her legs and lifted, and then she stood.

Her head was still on the pillow as she rocked gently there on the carpet. Eventually it met her in its place and together they walked to the corner of the room where the orange lay, nowhere near the air vent, perched on top of a yellow dress she had forgotten all about.

She laughed then and coughed and a purple snake slid past her foot before she tipped herself back in and under the covers.

Nathanael came at night to pick up the oranges and dispose of the bits of newspaper she had used as tissues. One night he had six heads—one night, seven incredulous eyes. Then there was the night that he had one face, and it was beautiful, and she wished she would recover so she could love it better and kiss it more.

That was the night it was over. Suddenly her stomach ached for food; it writhed and echoed with hunger. Can I have some soup, she asked, lightly and without commotion. Nathanael smiled and opened the curtains to the moon.

word by Laura McPhee-Browne

colour by Young Wavey

From the writer: “When I first saw this piece of art, I was instantly reminded of a dream; a feverish dream of the sort you have when you are ill with the flu, and sleep is confused and brief and uncomfortable, with a sort of sick surrealism just around the next corner.

When I have had a serious case of the flu in the past, I remember thinking in quick bursts about things that later made no sense. I remember having no appetite except for relief from the heat and the pain, and I remember feeling like I was going to be sick forever and ever. This story is an attempt at encapsulating how it feels to have the flu, and the dream-like nature of being stuck inside an unrelenting fever.”

the artist

Paper Cut

She would look back in later years and ask herself if she had been right. It was irrelevant, quickly became removed from the frame of present life, but, still, she wondered.

Never one to plan for failure, she had certainly positioned herself to be right, that night: she had worn the right dress, invited the right people, ordered the right drink. She had educated herself thoroughly on questions of technique and style. Where necessary, she had asked Paul minimal questions, inquiring about his influences but not prying into his inspirations: she wanted to appear intellectual, perhaps in possession of knowledge unavailable to the simple attendee, but not to flaunt her connection to the artist.

That night, she lingered in front of the pieces known to be masterworks, gesticulated near the controversial (and higher-priced) items, pointed out canvases that she thought friends and connections would enjoy. She lost sight of Paul only a few times throughout the night.

It pleased her deeply to see that he seemed to be enjoying himself, was engaging in conversations with pleasure, losing the usual rigid reservation that bordered on condescension and inevitably settled over him in groups.

In other words, the evening was going well, until she saw it.

She couldn’t fathom, at the time, how it had arrived there, how it had come to be hung on the wall with a little white card next to it, a blurb and a title and a price, without her having noticed, without someone (not Paul, certainly, but someone) informing her of its existence. But exist it did, on a scale more immense than anything else in the gallery: her head, her bare shoulders rising above the gathered party, her face drawn in either ecstasy or a half-sneer of pride.

The other form on the bed, she had to assume, was Paul, sprawled at her knees, legs spread.

He kissed the arm, flung sideways, that pinned him to the bed. He had no face, no skin, no shadows, a collage of bright colours with the outline of a human man. Beside him, she looked like stone.

Other onlookers moved away as Faith stood looking up at it, overwhelmed by unidentifiable emotion. His hand was on her back, he who seemed to prefer not to touch her when he could avoid it. In later years, she would remember thinking he had drunk too much; through the tide of wounded shame washing over her, she had that one petty point of clarity.

He moved so that he was standing in front of her, between her and the colossal painting.

“Is this a confession?” she asked.

He faded from her life, some time after, managed to evanesce though there had been papers to sign and furniture to divide and accounts to split. There should have been a shared existence to break apart but really there was just the painting and then the wondering, occurring at larger and larger intervals in the life that followed him.

word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour by Eugenia Loli

From the author: “I was initially curious about the male figure in this piece. The crime-scene outline seems to indicate that he’s absent, but even if he has already left the bed, his relative colour and movement give him a presence and appeal that his companion lacks.

Where has the man gone, and why has he left? What is it about him that would leave such an imprint behind? Has he left it on purpose? Art naturally demands that we tell stories; it presents us with startling, intriguing, even troubling images and leaves us either to supply our own explanations for what is happening and why, or to remain startled, intrigued, and troubled.

In this case, my answer to the picture was to write about the woman in it, who I thought was likely to have her own questions about it.”

his wolf


Dad got anxious. Mama didn’t: she just swished around beautifully like colour in a paintbrush jar, singing Moon Shadow and tying scarves around her forehead so I never really knew how big it was. But Dad was anxious. His thin body shook inside his dressing gown, taking the tea Mama would bring him in his match-stick rouge hands, thanking her with his quiet voice, his normal voice; the voice I never heard raised.

Dad was so thin because he barely ate, and anything he did eat he told me he tapped away. He did tap it away—I watched him each night after school as he sat as close to the fire as he could in winter, and as close as he could to the fan in summer, his foot tapping at the floor and his hands tapping at his crooked, dancing leg.

Dad wouldn’t eat pigs—he said he was too fond of their pink hairy backs and the way they really had those curled tails you saw in picture books. He wouldn’t eat apples for obvious reasons; ‘they’re so happy up there on the tree and then we cruelly pick them down.’

When Mama would make me eat my carrots and corn, Dad would sit there smiling faintly, his plate free of anything but bread and thick shiny butter. He didn’t have to eat carrots and corn. I didn’t shake like him.

One morning I got up early to see whether Mama had left the butter on the kitchen table. I liked to spoon curves of it into my mouth before we had breakfast, so the grease would sit warm and safe in my mouth. I remember it was winter-time because I dragged my mittens onto my feet after searching to no avail for my slippers and they made it hard to get down the stairs without slipping. As I passed their room I heard Mama’s voice low and hurried and edged my head around the door. Dad was lying on the bed, flat and old, and Mama was standing above him. She was crying—I could see the tears dropping onto the doona and the air felt thick with worry and damp. She looked over at me.

‘Daddy’s sick darling. He’s very sick,’ she said, gulping, clutching at the doona’s soggy edge.

I asked her what was wrong with him, standing as tall as I was just there in my mittens.

‘His wolf has come again darling,’ she said. ‘His wolf has come to scare him.’

I ran to my bedroom, tripping on stairs in knotted wool mittens, grasping at the wooden edges to pull myself up and up.

I sat tight on my bed, wondering when my wolf would come.

word by Laura Mcphee-Browne

colour by Monsta


little red riding hood

massini 2

Little Red was going to her grandma’s house in her red cape that was supposed to protect her from the bad men the men that wanted to hurt her. Little Red had never seen a bad man in the forest and she thought it was sort of silly; she had seen plenty of men in the city they looked at her and she was told to be afraid but she was sort of curious. Here in the woods there was nothing just Little Red and her grandma and her grandma’s house with scones in it there were always scones in her grandma’s house and she didn’t know what to do about all the scones any more than she knew what to do with the men. Blueberries in some of them.

Grandma said “Take off your cape Red” when Little Red got to grandma’s house, and that made sense because now here in the house there was no danger she could take off the cape and be safe so she obeyed. Grandma was reading something Little Red couldn’t see the title of it but it looked serious.

“Eat a scone” said Grandma but Little Red ignored that as politely as she could because she didn’t feel like eating a scone. She had brought a basket with wine in it, sweet juice of fermented grapes and Grandma drank some now and it stained her mouth so that it looked like she’d sucked on a painting of a Red Delicious.

“Where did you get such big teeth” Little Red asked and Grandma smiled and said

“When I was your age I looked just like you”

Little Red didn’t know what to say but still she tried to look polite

“I looked just like you but I didn’t know the things you know and life was much easier then”

“How did your skin get so loose”

“There were rules and that made things simple, we followed the rules and they told us what to do”

“How did your face get so long”

“You took off your red cape Red”

“I don’t need it here Grandma”

“Your shoulders are bare, aren’t you ashamed”

“I thought it was safe here”

“I had shoulders just like yours and they’ll hurt you”

“My shoulders feel fine Grandma, the basket wasn’t that heavy”

“Come here I want to touch your face Red”

“I don’t think you should Grandma”

“Come here I want to feel your skin and those shoulders”

“How did your claws get so sharp you’re scaring me Grandma”

“I want you to always be good and never get hurt”

“No one will hurt me Grandma I wear my cape always”

“That’s good Red eat a scone you’re too thin”

word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd 

colour byAnaïs Massini 

cold souls

HideandSeek_LorisLora (1)

This all started because he’d seen an old movie where some stoned chick with an 80’s crop cut said something about when you grow up, your heart dies. (You’d know the flick; kids in detention.) It was supposed to be funny, but it scared the shit out of him. Nothing funny about compromising your soul, he’d thought. That’s why they were out here in the cold, freezing their tits off. This was about never losing sight of your soul.

                The mask was a little tight against his face- it felt right. The fox had cost him $17.99 at the costume store, a small price to pay for immortality, and it was one with him now,  a new face. His true face. The book of voodoo had said they had to choose masks they thought reflected their character, their true selves. It said this was the most important part of the ritual. Before you could change something about the world and your place in it, you had to know, really know, who you were inside. In your soul. That’s why voodoo doesn’t work for grown-ups in the West: they’re all dead inside.

                His breath in the cold leaves little beads of condensation that run down the inside of the mask and out the bottom. He watches them and listens to the crackle of the fire underneath the languid, off-time clapping that seems to pervade most any pagan ritual. The children’s chanting is hushed now, but it’ll grow, feverish and in leaps and bounds, to a frenzied crescendo when the moon is brightest. He isn’t sure they’re speaking the right words, but he hopes whatever gods they’re praying to get the jist. Through the slitted eyes of the fox he tries to count the number of snowflakes the fire touches. He can’t. There’s too many, a million. If the magic works, the flakes will never melt. The inevitable thaw that follows the cold will never come, and they’ll endure, ageless, in the depths of winter.

word by Josh Elyea

colour by Loris Lora 

the Bengal’s meal


The drug, I’m told, is a fairly potent offshoot of the LSD compound studied by Timothy Leary in the mid-late sixties, whose experiments (and subsequent documentation of said experiments) with the drug were in no small part responsible for its explosion in popularity with the Flower Powerers. As the acid kicks in, I begin to wonder whether the old adage “they don’t make ’em like they used to” can be applied to hard drugs: I have a difficult time believing they made shit like this in the sixties.

The reputed hallucinogenic properties of this particular concoction, nicknamed The Bengal by the ever-growing population of acid-users in the Greater Toronto Area, would seem to explain not only the sudden appearance of the fuzzy death machine, smack in the middle of a reluctantly-attended dinner party, but also why I, sitting on the couch, seem to be the only one who is vaguely unsettled by its presence.


The fichus beside me has no immediate response. I wonder if I’d have better luck with the poorly-potted orchid across the room, where a man with a stunning Selleck-esque moustache and a woman wearing a sweater made of what appears to be ocean waves are enjoying a lively conversation about what I’ve found to be the only obligatory topic at such gatherings: American politics (what with Canadian politics being completely devoid of the incendiary talking points required of the vaguely-informed yet heated exchange that always occurs at these sort of functions). I ignore the roars of panthera tigris and tune in.

     The overwhelming cultural and political ambiguity surrounding the renewed American presence in the Middle East…

Selleck 2.0 reaches for an hors d’oeuvre. The tiger watches. For God’s sake man, not the cocktail weenie: YOU’LL LOSE A HAND.

     I yell: YOU’LL LOSE A HAND

The tiger looks to me. Green eyes ablaze, tail twitching with a sort of unsettling anticipation, it watches me.

     I yell: WHAT’S HIS NAME

If I’m going to be eaten, I deserve to know who ate me.

     Reginald, comes the disinterested response.

The woman, in waves, pipes up.

     Rather regal name for a tabby, isn’t it?

     He goes by Reggie.

     I yell: TABBY…TIGER?

A light-bulb flickers in my acid-soaked brain. A tiger morphs into a tabby. At first, I am relieved. As the man drones on about drones, I long to be eaten – give me death over politics at any time of the night.

word by Josh Elyea

colour by Akvile Magicdust 



On the street she walks along most days there is a wall. The wall is one side of a building and is tall and made of brown bricks, neatly piled and cemented together. The wall has been painted in one spot, up high, and it is this painting of a triangle fox that she watches as she walks. The fox is brightly coloured, with kaleidoscope eyes. The first time she saw it was not so long ago, for she is new here and has only had the courage to walk the streets since she has known to some extent where they join. She told Miles about the fox that first time, but he frowned and kept typing and she couldn’t really explain about the yellow parts and the cave cheeks and the spike of its ears, or how it made her scared and safe at the same time, so she stopped, mid-sentence. Later he touched her hair as he walked to brush his teeth and asked her to tell him more about the tiger. She didn’t correct him.

Then there are the days when she walks down the street with the wall with the painting on it for no reason other than to look up at the fox. She isn’t very busy—jobs are like lucky pigs here—and she feels small and blurry in the apartment on her own. Sometimes as she rounds the bend and lets out a small sigh as she sees the fox up high, there is an old man standing where she stands when she looks at the fox, and he is looking up, too. He gives her a heart ache, with his grubby mittens in the middle of summer, the same drooping plastic bag by his side, every time. She feels so sad – her heart is an emptying bath. But he always moves before she gets to the spot, so, without guilt, she can look up, drinking in the kaleidoscope gaze from above her.

She is looking up at the fox one day, at that time in the very late afternoon when you can almost smell the sun sinking. She does not see the man until he backs into her, his grey hair combed straight and his jacket sticky. She apologizes; chokes out a laugh; wants him to know she does not fear him. He doesn’t seem to hear her. The man stumbles and she moves to let him as he tilts back his head and looks up at the fox. He is saying something—she can hear something croaking out between his upper lip and jaw. She cups her ear to hear him. 

word by Laura Helen McPhee-Browne

colour by DAAS