“Code Switching of the New Romance,” new prose by Kate Shaw


Spanish cropped up in their discourse in a very predictable way. Their relationship was established in English — her first language, his second — and Spanish tended to couch the more intimate sentiments. For her, it created distance — both from the topic and from him — when they traipsed into territory that was rife with vulnerability, con dudas.

—Pues ¿por qué crees que te sientes así?

Spanish, in case asking directly about his emotions was too big a threat to his masculinidad, to the machismo of his culture. Spanish to distance herself from a fair question, but one that asked for vulnerability from a new partner who maybe wasn’t ready to give it. Spanish, porque tenía miedo.

She used code-switching as a buffer, a way to protect herself when she took a tentative step into the thick haze that was an infinity of potential futures for them.

It was different for him.

—Te escondes con mi idioma.

He didn’t fear that haze. The lack of clarity was something he simply accepted as inevitable, even beautiful in its incertidumbre. His Spanish was meant to pierce it boldly, shoot it through with light — aunque efímera — so they could both see, at least for a second. See each other.

The contexts overlapped almost perfectly. If you didn’t know them — as individuals, as partners — you might think the role Spanish played for each of them was identical. You had to have a much more personal perspective to see that what allowed her to hide was what most allowed him to show.

these words by Kate Shaw were inspired by the photography of Alison Scarpulla

From the author: “What spoke to me most about the photo was the haziness of the image and the reflections. I linked the lack of visual clarity in the photo to the uncertainty of the future shared by the two characters, which they approach in different ways. The idea that a reflection appears identical to the source it reflects without actually being the same is connected to the fact that the characters use Spanish in the same contexts but with very different intentions.”

On Family: “No applause for a hero”

50108d1d5ba0277995e238c6fe5396e2 (1)

“Teach your children well, their father’s hell did slowly go by,

And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,

So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”

“Teach Your Children,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young


‘What a fucking spread!’

‘Who woulda thought?’  Frances agreed.

‘Bagels, lox, whitefish, coffee, salami, bologna, provolone, macaroni—”

‘Chicken salad!’

Several parents crowded the cream cheese station at the back of the auditorium.  Henry admired his wife’s breasts as she crouched to pick up a tomato.  37.5% of the couples there were gay.  Mr. Hall, the middle school coordinator, wore a pesto green suit.  The hunchback look worked for him.  Everyone there paid $2.75 to ride the train to P.S. 463 if they didn’t hop the turnstile.  But by the looks of it, there were a few who might’ve jumped.

‘Hey!’  Caleb, 4’6”, rushed over and hugged his parents.  ‘Thanks for coming!’

‘Our pleasure!’

The chatter inconspicuously petered out when Mr. Hall tapped the microphone.  ‘Family, friends, distinguished guests: thank you for coming to P.S. 463’s annual Role Model Day!  In humanities this year, the students considered adolescence.  In lieu of their studies, they reflected on their role model’s unique qualities that they hope to emulate as rising middle schoolers.  Today, you will hear some of their thoughts.’

A little girl climbed on stage.  Mr. Hall adjusted the microphone stand appropriately. She looked down at her notecard: ‘Hi.’

After a pause, the audience realized it was being invited to exchange greetings.  ‘Hi!’

She continued, ‘My name is June Langley and my role model is Hermione.  Most of all, Hermione is a genius.  One day, I want to be a genius.  Hermione also helps Harry beat Voldemort again and again and again.  I want to defeat evil, too!’  June bowed, and the crowd cheered.  An ‘I love you sweetie!’ and, ‘You are a genius, babe!’ were made out from the clamor.  Surely it was June’s parents.

Another girl stepped on stage.  Her name was Anne Carney.  She had no index card.  Her role model was Serena Williams.  Serena, she informed the crowd, always wins and hates to lose.  Anne does, too, she tells the full house.  When she grows up she wants to be successful, like Serena!  The sound level meter for June’s speech reached a higher altitude.

Now Caleb hurried up the steps.  He took a piece of crumbled paper out of his pocket and unwrinkled it.  This had BOY written all over it.  Not once did he lift his eyes.  ‘My name is Caleb Monroe and my role models are my mom and dad.  Mom wakes up everyday at 5:00 and packs my lunch.  She fills the fridge with my favorite snacks.  Dad fought in court for my autistic brother Fred to go to a good school.  He drops me at basketball practice after school and always wants to play.  They are exhausted from work and then come home and cook.  If there is no food, they go shopping.  And tomorrow they’ll do it all again. They do not get paid for this job, and never ask for anyone to clap for their demanding work.  Being a parent is so heroic.  There’s no applause for a hero.’

The audience has no idea how to respond.


word by Jacob Goldberg

“After I learned that “La Practique Du Calcul” roughly translated to “basic calculus,” I wanted to write about how difficult calculus was for me but easy for others.  With that in mind, I hoped to sketch a story about something that I feel is at once important, simple, and uniquely hard: showing appreciation and love for those that really matter to us.”

colour by Julien Coquentin

On the Environment: “Forest for the Trees”



It was a place of possibility.  Where anything could happen.  Secrets hidden behind every tree.  Discovery around every bend.  Adventure was everywhere.

I was always struck by the trees.  So much bigger than anything we had in the city.  And so many.  No matter where you looked, there they were, towering above and continuing on past the horizon.

Walking beneath them today, I’m reminded of the games of hide and seek we’d play in their shade.  The time I came upon the perfect spot.  When no one could find me, I cried my eyes out, waking hours later to Mom’s touch as she picked me up and carried me back to camp.  To the bonfire.

I craved the smoke’s heady scent in my nostrils while simultaneously doing everything in my power to avoid its brutal sting to my eyes.  Every night Liz and I would get one step closer to the perfect s’more recipe.  It’s a miracle our teeth didn’t fall out with all the scorched marshmallow and melted chocolate we ate amongst these trees.

In later years, we discovered the lake.  The forest stayed to its shore, watching on as we swam and played.  It became near impossible to get us to leave the water.  We’d spend full days splashing about, emerging only when our bodies became too tired to keep us afloat.

It’s still hard to believe this will be my last visit.  I wanted to protect this place.  To protect the memories it’s given me.  Now all I want is one last dip in the lake.

I never knew there were so many different machines for destroying trees.  I can only hope the water will drown out some of the noise.


word by Grant McLaughlin

colour by Julien Coquentin


On Sexual Abuse: “Sizzler”


unnamed (1)

‘Is that all you’re having?’ Phillip has looked over her meal and seen that she is starving. It is the peak of a Melbourne summer outside and Merry feels fat and tired and large enough as it is. He frowns and pushes the breadbasket towards her. ‘You don’t have to worry about your weight, you wouldn’t suit being skinny. Have some bread.’

‘I’ve always been fat.’

art fiction 

Suddenly she doesn’t care about anything except what this conversation could be. No one since her father has ever brought up her weight. She has never talked to anyone about it either but now she feels she might be able to tell Phillip something, something that could perhaps explain.

He doesn’t reply with anything, doesn’t deny her statement. Merry feels a little light-headed, though she has hardly touched her Amaretto Sour. She fishes around in the glass with her fingers and pulls out the cherry, dangling it above and then down into her mouth.

art fiction 

‘Don’t do that. Women shouldn’t eat with their fingers.’

art fiction 

She wipes hand on the paper napkin beside her plate, mouth slightly watering from the effort not to lick.

After Phillip has gone back for more veal schnitzel and duck gravy and they are lily-lipped and cloud-eyed, he asks her if she will take him home.

art fiction 

‘I live with this old woman who hates it if I have guests. I think she’s in love with me.’

art fiction 

He smiles a little and adjusts his sagging shirt collar. Merry feels that the woman is most certainly in love with him; she understands through the liquor that the woman flirts with Phillip in her tattered kimono over eggs and beans for breakfast and that she has a cat who curls often on Phillip’s knee.

art fiction 

‘What’s her name?’ she asks.

‘June. Why?’ His voice has coloured slightly—it is a storm in the distance, in the heavy clouds.

‘Oh, I just wondered. June is a nice name.’

art fiction 

He frowns, forcefully, as if it will help him to tolerate her stupidity.

art fiction 

‘She’s just my housemate. She’s old and sagging and pays most of the rent.’

art fiction 

There is a familiarity to Phillip’s forehead that she did not see before. It’s in his crooked eyebrows, the slight pouches of muscle above each one that move when he talks like they are his voice. It must be the reason why she feels a pulsing in her groin at every word he speaks—because she knows him.

      They have dessert, coffee, more sours, more smooth froth on lagers like chocolate milkshakes. It is Phillip that decides when they need to leave, and he doesn’t come back to her nervous, cluttered flat after all. He starts to eat at her neck and then her chin in the taxi on the way there and tells the driver to stop so that he can fuck her up against an alleyway brick wall that is sprayed in red and green and blue: coloured words she can’t read but that she thinks just might mean everything.

       Just as he pushes himself in she sees who his forehead is. Now it’s her father with his hand up under her dress, pulling at her nipple too hard. She closes her eyes and tries to remember the sound of Philip’s voice. She hears sirens and feels strangled breath heat the skin that covers her neck tendons.

“When I saw this art piece by Fannie Gadouas, I immediately felt protective towards the woman with the blood and strawberries in her lap, with all her vulnerability so blatantly displayed. 
The character of Merry in my story ‘Sizzler’ is a vulnerable character because of her background, and the way her femininity and innocence was abused by those closest to her. Despite this trauma and vulnerability, Merry keeps living and trying to find something better for herself. The strawberries replacing most of the blood in Fannie Gadouas’ piece inspired the resilience inherent in the character of Merry, and reminded me of the resilience I have witnessed in so many (less fictional!) women I know and love.”

colour by Fannie Gadouas

“I am an interdisciplinary artist working with photography, fiber arts and performance. My work explores issues pertaining to femininity, identity and experience. By re-appropriating various traditional imagery, techniques and rituals, I question and challenge the way gendered identity is constructed, inherited and perceived in western society. Textiles is, and has traditionally been associated with the feminine realm. Critically engaging with techniques such as weaving, knitting and embroidery allows me to subvert and question my own role as both woman and artist. In this sense, my practice as a whole becomes a performance in which the process holds more relevance than the resulting objects. Informed and greatly influenced by feminist theory, the work I produce is a critical response to the social structure of western society.”