“Learning to stay gold”

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word by Sean M. Hogan

colour by Stephanie Rivet 

I had just turned twenty-three when some friends introduced us at the drive in theater in the summer of 68. The book The Outsiders had just come out and you looked every part the greaser with your leather jacket and blue jeans. I was afraid. Not of you, but what you represented. What loving you meant about myself. When I told you this at the end of our fourth date, I had every intention of breaking things off. You just kissed me, gently, for the first time. You said that we were Ponyboys and we had to stay golden.

You called it, “a place for us,” when in 1976 we moved from our small town in Lancaster to the row house in the Washington Square West district of the city. Before, we had been out of place in those rural backwoods and farmlands. Philadelphia dubbed our neighborhood the red light district, a center for debauchery; but with your Midas touch, you made our run down house a home. The bed I ordered from the Sears catalogue hadn’t arrived in time, so we spent the first night painting the living room blue before making love on the tarp and falling asleep in each others arms.

In 2007, the city painted the street signs with rainbows. You were so happy; happy to be recognized and acknowledged. And we were recognized. When those young men saw us holding hands and their fear and ignorance turned their hands to fists the nurses wouldn’t let you visit me in the hospital because you weren’t family. I couldn’t see through swollen eyes, but I could cry. For nights I was alone until I felt your arms and heard your voice. “Stay golden,” you whispered through a kiss, words strained but forced through your own swollen lips. Through it all, you never lost hope. Even when the judge let our assailants off easy with time served. Even when someone threw a burning trashcan through our bay window, you merely knelt and swept up the broken glass and joked that they at least had given us a bin to place the trash. Then you knelt again and prayed. For them.

            In 2014, we were married in LOVE Park. The iconic statue above our heads could never truly represent how much I loved you. It was a clear day, and the green trees stood still in attendance with our closest friends and family. Beneath their shade, we took a photograph that shows your teary eyes looking into mine, capturing a moment I never want to fade from my aging memory. Today, fresh tears blur my sight as I stare up at the colored signs of the neighborhood you helped to build. The colors swirl, like my dancing memories, like leaves falling from the branches of our seasoned life. The cancer took you from me in June, and I do not want to say goodbye. Of all these colorful memories, I remember to stay gold.


See more colour by Rivet

On Death and Instagram: “The Right Filter For My Memory”

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My eyes raced to skim over the part of the text that was relevant to our current conversation in hopes of catching on to the gist of what was being discussed. Of course I was finding it impossible to formulate anything barely intelligent to contribute. As per the usual, and despite his general lack of insight, Micah’s hand bolted sky high. In a seminar of 11 graduate students he had somehow consistently missed all of the social and visual cues and extended his unusually long arm, fingers arrow straight towards the ceiling, as though he would combust if he could not speak.
 Death and Instagram
Dr. Meyer glanced at her watch and subtly but expertly waved Micah’s hand down, squinting her eyes and pursing her lips as if to say in that one brief facial expression.
Death and Instagram
“I know, we’ve run of out of time, I’m so sorry we’ll miss your gems of wisdom.”
Death and Instagram
Micah’s hand returned to the table and he nodded his head as if to respond, “You’re too right, I need more time to explain my genius to these folks.”
Before letting us go, she concluded: “In the corners of my mind are memories, deep in the archives, rarely if ever recalled. The truth is you have to train yourself in the art of that kind of excavation and it is work. You can easily rest your laurels on those moments prompted by a photo that has been sat in a dusty frame for eons, you can access it so readily that you begin to conflate the image for the history of the thing. Do you remember being there? What did you wear? How did you feel? You’re all so busy capturing the moment that you miss it. Do you remembering being there? Or texting, staring into your phone, applying filters? Do you remember being there?”
Death and Instagram
I chuckled thinking to myself. What does this old lady know about Instagram? Dr. Meyer was 68. Her probing questions anchored deep and roused me. I had covered over the covering over, forgotten what I had forgot, and there was a persistent gnawing, a dull reminiscent ache: the photos only captured so much, there were too few of them to ever imply an iota of the significance of your time and place here with me.
Death and Instagram
I don’t know when I lost you, really. Maybe it was when you moved, or maybe when you lost your leg; you had already begun to slip away. I couldn’t grasp your death until I saw you go into the ground.
Death and Instagram
Every now and then your face surfaces above the mossy mist. Your milk carton full of buttons had a very particular acrid smell, and the touch of your soft wrinkly skin felt like pure love; sewing needles kept in plastic film canisters and the fans you took to church. You are not far – I see you.

colour by Nadine Doune 

“Nadine est née à Montréal, d’une famille venant de s’installer d’Algérie. Elle grandit dans l’école buissonnière, une école dédiée à l’apprentissage par l’art. La musique et le visuel sont toujours présents dans sa vie, dès qu’elle le peut elle voyage avec son violon et ses poèmes/dessins au Mexique, dans l’ouest Canadien, et aux États-Unis où elle s’y installe un an. C’est une autodidacte qui apprend par les expériences, la rue est son terrain de jeu et où elle est le plus inspirée. Elle essaye de rendre la connaissance accessible en donnant plusieurs ateliers (notamment dans une coopérative d’art communautaire nommé le Milieu qu’elle essaye d’aider à bâtir). Elle est intervenante sociale, vend des popsicles artisanaux, et travaille présentement sur un projet de prise de parole chez les femmes immigrantes.”

“Nadine was born in Montréal to a family who arrived from Algeria. She grew up in the Buissonière School, where learning is achieved through art. Music and aesthetics are always present in her life, as she travels with her violin, her poems, and her drawings to Mexico, to Western Canada, and to the United States, punctually for years. The street and her experiences are her main sources of inspiration. She works to make education and art accessible by giving workshops – notably in Le Milieu, a community art cooperative that she’s involve in. She is currently working on a project that centers on the voices of immigrant women.”

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