On Memory: “A Kind of Red”

Josh - Marina Gonzaleseme

There was a point, close to the edge of my memory, when all my stories started sounding the same, rehearsed; a point when I found myself clicking on the same websites every day, brain rotting, literally rotting in my skull; a point where rage and riot and raucousness were replaced by routine. I’m vitriolic in the face of routine.

I can’t help but feel like I used to be a much more interesting person. And this feeling, it’s pulling me apart. I can’t even tell youwhen I was more interesting – I just was. I can’t tell you what it was.

I’ve often wondered what might happen to my record collection if I were to up and disappear, what’s left of me no more than a puff of smoke carried towards the horizon on a westerly wind. Most of my stuff is just that, stuff…but my records? That’s me, man. If there’s one interesting thing about me, it’s my record collection. 

Faces on album covers, track lists, liner notes, mix tapes, Motown, delta blues, the Clash (original U.K. pressings only, fuck those American re-releases) and Abbey Road and the more obscure stuff, The Gun Club and Captain Beefheart all blur together to form a comprehensive understanding of an individual. My autobiography. The legacy of a puff of smoke. A subject for future study.

Even just talking about this, I can feel an uneasy frustration settle so deep it’s sticking to my bones. I am entirely unable to glue the interesting bits of myself back together. I’m grinding my teeth as I drop the needle on the turntable. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. It’s funny, because I feel red. 

word by Josh Elyea

From the author: “Perhaps more than ever, I find myself being pulled in multiple directions. I’m often disparate, distracted and unfocused in the face of constant stimulation (from a wide variety of sources and mediums). When I saw this piece, it spoke to that feeling in me, the idea of being pulled apart and never quite being put back together, of lusting after some evanescent sense of fulfillment that may or may not lie right around the corner. It was quite a visceral reaction, and it left me wondering if others experiences this sense of deconstruction as well, this feeling of not being whole.” 

colour by Marina Gonzalez Eme 

On memory: “self and other”


Despondent at the sight of her, waxing caramel and silk, bruising blue from apathy. Who it is I am looking for in the shape of her, the curve and weight of her bones. The scrutiny of this survey has everything to do with consumption. Mass of flesh, scent of jasmine, soap, talcum powder.

I become suddenly thirsty and my legs fold in like a hand. From every angle calls some small adjustment, something not quite in place, not quite concealed. I remember the shirts I wore in highschool, carefully selected from your laundry pile and big enough for my body to move beneath them unnoticed.

Meanwhile she moved with such a lightness I had never been empty enough to feel, spread her toes across the bathroom counter smoothing lotion into her calves; she had six children for the institutions of God and marriage. What I saw for the sake of this story was the width of her waist on an inhale, saw her spinning across the living room floor. She praised my poetry then stopped calling altogether.

Of course I never expected she would, and this is not really about her, or the blue light of my new apartment where no one eats and everything is covered with a film of dust and the smell of smoke. I blink into the mirror and take a sip from a white, enamel cup stained with her lipstick. I know that I will see her in the kitchen and she will have cut her hair again. She will be quietly frantic, pouring cream in her coffee and letting the filter drip. The garbage can is full of dust and the ends of her cigarettes stained with lipstick.

If the weight of my bones were a little less dense. If I did not bruise under the touch of her fingertips. I could step into this room unfeeling, dressed in animal prints and steel, chewing a stick of gum.

word by Alisha Mascarenhas
colour by Gan Chin Lee 

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.”