“The Pink Sea” by Jo-Ann Zhou

James Gilleard_4

For three days we have stared at the sea.

For three days we have watched its changing moods and colours, from turbulent grey to blue-green, to this ephemeral pink at sunset.

Tonight the pink is particularly brilliant, the calm lapping sounds like small reassurances of “everything is going to be all right.”

Having observed the sea, I know these reassurances are fickle. Poseidon is tempestuous, and the pinks could turn to angry storms of steel grey just as easily as they could fade to sunset’s late indigo.

We are, in fact, waiting for the sea to turn black. Not just twilight blue, or the deep navy in the hours after the lingering sun fades. We wait for blackest black, when no lights save for the moon and stars shine upon its still surface. We can only hope to encounter no searchlights, no vessels that claim to help but are really meant to keep us from reaching our objective.

When the pinks complete their inky transformation, we will enter the darkness. We pray that when we greet the sea at last, it will be more cool smooth onyx than roiling tar soup. We know there is a chance that we too could become one with the sea, could become part of its spectacular colours, like many of our brothers and sisters before us. 

Despite this risk, we wait for darkness, watching the colours of this great obstacle to what we can only hope is our new home. As we wish away the sparkling pinks for dull blackness, we hope to one day look back at this sea with no fears and see nothing but calm pink water.

these words by Jo-Ann Zhou were inspired by the work of James Gilleard

New Poetry by Nahomi Amberber: “When It Hurts to Stand Next to Him”


Forgive me

For not coming any closer.

You remind me too much of my father,

And the type of men

Who destroy

Women like me.


these words by Nahomi Amberber were inspired by the work of James Gilleard

“There Must Be A Name For This,” by Leah Horlick


How to feel like how you imagined the city? A blur of light steps out of a cab. Stem of a glass in a ring on a wet table. Slink, slink. Would it have been better if you had moved into that little beehive level with the SkyTrain, whoosh all day, glow all night, little hexagram. One stool, one door, two windows at an angle with the tracks, tracks, track. Two windows! Rattle rattle goodnight all day. You imagined glass and water, heels and click, the film of alcohol across everything, city city. Little dots of light, little swipes. A secret: Vancouver is actually a series of small caves, mould like a dust of sugar powder, did you know? Saturday night aesthetic: the Chevron station for yachts in Coal Harbour, hovered out in the water, glossy black, little ring, orange light. How long did it take me to realize the white-hot squares at the top of downtown are penthouses? How long did it take me to realize those very regular fireworks are private planes? Why can’t I have, why can’t I have, why can’t I? What if we just kept living together, what if I just tried harder, what if I had moved to Toronto? All the women in this city say I love you, they say centered, we say seawall, we go home and murmur Toronto Toronto Seattle Toronto in our sleep. You don’t understand. I have an obligation to a girl in a barn, to a girl in a car, to a girl in the forest; she says Get Me Out Of Here, she says My Own Apartment. Is it possible to be dissociated not from me but the city. Like here I am arms and legs, here I am oh New York.

these words by Leah Horlick were inspired by the work of James Gilleard

“The Final Transmission,” by Erika Thorkelson


The final transmission from Station Alpha came from General Watkins himself, who had gone to inspect the new device just two days before. Right up until the moment of the explosion, there had been hope that the device, a single man’s dream realized through unprecedented international cooperation, was the solution everyone had been hoping for.

There was no picture in the final transmission. Cloaked in static, Watkins’ voice was thick, moaning even. “The Earth’s heart is heavy.” He sighed. “So much heavier than we could even have imagined…” Then the whole facility evaporated.

Marcella Watkins, the General’s wife and special envoy to the United Nations, knew the voice well. It was the one he used when he wanted her to move closer, toward his side of the bed. It was the voice he used for quiet, reflective thoughts he could only express near sleep.

“Something is coming,” Marcella Watkins told her twin sister while the two drank whiskey on her back porch.

Aurelia nodded, watching the branches of the fruit trees rustle in the hot breeze. She didn’t want to say anything that would add to her sister’s burden, but since the explosion there had been a haze in the air that she didn’t like at all, an unnatural chemical sweetness, like bubblegum air freshener in a smoky truck.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” Aurelia asked for the seventeenth time. “Can I make you some dinner?”

Marcella shook her head, loose bits of her silver chignon swaying side to side. She was still wearing her office clothes—a sleeveless white blouse and green wool slacks that must have been far too warm in this unexpected weather. The matching blazer was somewhere in the house.

Even in this state and at their age, Aurelia couldn’t help admiring her sister’s figure—heavy breasts, narrow waist, round hips. She was the shorter of the two, but certainly the better looking. No wonder her life had gone so well—until now at least.

“All those petty skirmishes,” Marcella said, her voice just above a whisper. “All those years of worrying, and in the end, it’s some damned mad scientist scheme.”

Aurelia looked at the lines on her own hands as if they would tell her what to say. “Life will go on,” she murmured, gathering a smile for her sister. “You’ll see.”

Marcella gazed at her twin, admiring how life had spared her the wrinkles that dug valleys in her own skin. She took Aurelia’s hand in both her own and shook her head lightly. “I don’t think it will,” she said.

Aurelia nodded and the two sat on her porch, hand in hand, sipping their whiskeys and breathing the lavender air until the sun went away.


these words by Erika Thorkelson were inspired by the work of James Gilleard

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

the world can come to you


There’s a now-redundant wall outside the (currently unsponsored) stadium, on which someone has scrawled a strange, pseudo-cubist bird. It’s bulging, ever-watchful eye was painted at some point before tech made that kind of old-school social mischief – the real good stuff – obsolete. Graffiti doesn’t give you the same rush as virtual reality, ya dig?

The stadium hasn’t been used in years. I’d venture to say that the bird is the only one watching sports in person. People can’t be bothered to leave their houses for anything, let alone sports, since the nationwide rollout of the Microsoft Xperience Holographic Immersion Throne v.2.1 ™ and its accompanying Virtual Reality processes.

Why go out into the world when the world can come to you?

The tagline from the commercials was secured with some science gibberish, something about how a series of small pulses from the throne’s electromagnetic halo could be delivered to the part of the brain responsible for…whatever…and a neurological substitute for an external stimuli could be produced… all very sci-fi, except, you know…it was real.

The Microsoft Xperience Holographic Immersion Throne v.2.1 ™ was real. It was here, in America, and it was addictive. Look on a long enough timeline and you’ll see abuse follows the distribution of any groundbreaking technology. Most of the time, this abuse stands to exacerbate some mental burden, some level of active participation that can easily transition to passive consumption. That’s not marketing: it’s a fact.

Passivity became the norm. Of course, some people will argue that it was status quo long before Microsoft (hell, I might even be one of ’em) but something just clicked in the American psyche when that fucking chair came out.

It was like all the little bits and pieces of the broken people of America were glued back together as soon as the electromagnetic halo, like a scorpion’s tail ready to sting, fired that first electric shock straight into the brain. The MXHIT v.2.1.

External stimuli are irrelevant once you figure how to manipulate intra-neural connections. There’s no reason to trudge all the way to a stadium to watch a football game when you can download a bioprog that makes your brain think you’re there, eating nachos and drinking beer with all your famous friends (Scarlett Johansson’s been the most downloaded bioprog three years running). All of this from the comfort of your own living room.

What hard-working, overeducated, underpaid American could resist that?

Could you?

Some days I sneak past the bird and into the stadium. I sit way up high, in the nosebleeds. I can’t imagine being able to afford ones close to the field. I breathe deep and picture tiny players scrambling around the dilapidated field far below. The stadium seat isn’t as warm as the one I’ve got at home.

word by Josh Elyea

colour by Mark McClure

From the author: “When writing this piece, I really wanted to ponder what it was about the contemporary moment that’s so threatening to “the real” (I know that’s vague…bear with me). I’m often distracted by questions of authenticity; authenticity of art, authenticity of experience, anything. This piece gave me the opportunity to analyze some of those questions through the technological filter that’s omnipresent in our everyday lives. It’s overwhelming to think of the sheer speed of technological advancement these days, and it begs the question; how does technology affect our understanding of authenticity? Is there something to be said for genuine experience? Hell, if that’s your argument, does technology diminish an experience at all? Or does it enhance it? Life’s not as simple as sitting in a chair anymore, and I really wanted to take a look at why.”