“Checkmate” – Manahil Bandukwala


You enter a room with a checkered floor, a chessboard sprawling outwards. Your side is just you; on the other is a jester, a devil and a centaurette with a gun. You have no weapons. You don’t know the rules. The game is stacked against you before it begins.

White starts. The jester advances forward five spaces.

Black’s turn. You feel behind you for the doorway you entered through, but it’s not there. The only way to move is forward. You brace yourself to run, and smack against air. Staggering back, you find yourself a space ahead of where you were. Only one square at a time for you. A bruise starts to form on your cheek.

White. The devil moves to stand on your left side, brushing your leg with its pointed tail.

Black. You take a step forward and the devil moves with you but doesn’t touch you. There is a window across the room, your only way out. You count the number of steps to the mountains outside. Three. If you survive even one more step forward, it’ll be a miracle.

White. The centaurette cocks her gun and shoots. The bullet flies between your legs and goes cleanly through the wall behind. She gallops forward and stops two squares in front of you, right in front of the window. Her smile teases you to come forward and take her crown; she knows all the rules to the game and you’ve only figured out one.

Black. You stick to your plan. One square forward—the devil moves too. The jester dances around outside confines of boxes.

White. Nothing. They’re waiting.

Black. The window is almost there, but the centaurette sits spread across the tiles.

White. A shadow belonging to no one flits across the wall. Everyone jumps in surprise, including the centaurette. The square in front of you is empty.

Black. You leap forward and jump out the window, falling past storeys until you hit the ground. Glass rains over you, cutting into your skin. You hear a faraway giggle echo through the trees. You are a lump of flesh lying in a bush on a riverbank. The river snakes through the landscape, washing your blood away.


these words by Manahil Bandukwala were inspired by the work of Miza Coplin

“Screams in an empty place” – Jerry Corvil

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Alone in my room, my thoughts are dark
I live in a place where they hate me because my skin is dark.
Whoever says “smile and your misery will be history”
Is lying; the harder I smile the stronger it’s hurting me.

Knees to my chest, my soul crushing into pieces,
Sinking into darkness, happiness is all my heart misses.
Should I even write this; am I ever going to feel better?
I have long been digging from within, looking for a treasure.

Maybe I am not worth anything; should I even keep fighting?
All those thoughts and demons inside of my head.
I call for help, and no one hears me except those monsters under my bed.
I’m asking, to whoever can answer me, how can I survive when my mind is fading?

Those paintings inspire me, tell me there’s still beauty all around me.
I might be sick, who knows? I can only write when life’s hurting me.
Is it ironic to say that the only one who’s always been there for me is loneliness?
I have lived most of my life, lost, scared and confused; I feel better when I’m depressed.

This is what my mind is constantly repeating to itself.
It’s like one side is trying to find solutions, while the other’s killing itself.
I am not asking for much, only need somebody’s presence.
I’m tired of screaming, sitting in this blue room hearing only the echoes of silence.


these words by Jerry Corvil were inspired by the work of Nicolas V. Sanchez



New Prose by Josh Elyea: “On Punching a Nazi”

Passing Through


He had a habit where he’d slowly and meticulously pull the hairs out of his beard and pile them, as though they were kindling to start a fire, on whatever surface lay in front of him. It was a disgusting habit, one he was not fond of and one he would’ve judged others for having, and despite his most earnest and steadfast attempts, he was simply unable to quit it.

He wondered if that’s how Trump supporters felt about their casual racism, about their callous disregard for their neighbours. Maybe they wanted to stop, he said. Maybe they were aware of the shame of their habit, maybe they knew what they were doing was wrong. Maybe they just couldn’t stop.

Who cares whether it’s conscious or not, she says. This is the 21st century—we have Google and Wikipedia, for chrissake—and you’ve got the totality of human knowledge at your fingertips. There’s no excuse for ignorance, she says, and he knows she’s right. She’s cool, of the old-school variety. Think Dana Scully, but with more heart. When she speaks, it’s with a sort of callous candor, a ruggedness of speech that only works when underscored by a passionate sincerity. She listens to old jazz records and calls Louis Armstrong by his proper name (Satchmo, she says with love, and she blows him a kiss across the time-space continuum). As he stares, it seems as though she’s blurred into the landscape, a variety store Venus on the warpath, ready to lay waste to the barbaric conservative politics that have, almost overnight, eclipsed the American consciousness.

The future is female, she tells him, and he knows that she’s right. How could it not be, with an arbiter like this?

Maybe it’s time to take off the kiddie gloves, she says. Maybe, just maybe, the left has been playing nice for too long, and it’s time to stop rolling around in the mud with the GOP.

It’s time to call alternative facts what they are: propaganda.

It’s time to call Trump’s Muslim ban what it is: racism.

It’s time to call the alt-right exactly what they are: Nazis.

Maybe it’s time to stop giving credence to the idea that we’re all entitled to an opinion, regardless of whether that opinion is right. You’ve got the right to an informed opinion, but fuck those people who choose ignorance over equality. Maybe we need to stop playing to our slowest members, and maybe we need to grab these petulant, misinformed, archaic relics of a bygone era by the scruff of their hypocritical necks and smack them until they realize that the only ones who don’t deserve a place in the world we’re building is them.

Of course we ought to strive to live in harmony, of course. In fact, that’s exactly what most of us are trying to do. But there comes a time when punching a Nazi isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do.


these words by Josh Elyea were inspired by the work of Mairi Timoney

On Racism: “Choosing your ethnicity”


This planet is comprised of a collective of starving artists painting prejudiced portraits that hang hidden in family homes. Cheap but sturdy frames are forced around those to whom difference is a prison, painting them with preconceptions and adding them to crowded collections. These brushstrokes soothe worn out eyes but suffocate those trapped behind the chipped glass piling up in petty portfolios.

Mouths do not have slots for double A batteries so why the hell do tongues mimic low-grade labelmakers spitting out insignificant identifiers based on the prominence of pigmentations and the foreignness of fatherlands?

We are all just souls upon bleeding soles traversing the tough terrain only some of us are allowed to call home.

She is exhausted because her ancestors planted their aching feet near the equator rather than the North Pacific. The ink from the classifieds dyes her fingertips a deeper shade of dark because the last name on her resume reads “Latin” rather than “qualified”.

He cries at night because his classmates pick at his afro but never pick him to be on their teams at recess when they run across the field at the school where the confederate flag flies half-mast because its just another Wednesday.

Those sons are dead because he saw them walking down the street and their melanin levels matched that of his entitlement so he pulled his regulation firearm because apparently blackness is still synonymous with corruption despite the alleged 150 year anniversary of the Civil War.

Don’t you get it?

The ability to pronounce and be proud of one’s diversity is a privilege reserved for those who have the ability to choose when to show it.

We live in a world where “dare to be different” is a slogan splashed on the t-shirts and timelines of pre-teens everywhere yet we fail to admit that unless you are lucky enough to fall into the majority, you will be damned if you do.

You will be harassed if you do.

You will be killed if you do.

We are all just souls upon bleeding soles traversing the tough terrain only some of us are allowed to call home. We take one step at a time but walk in circles because the ones who hold the keys are the same ones who refuse to hang contemporary art because their frames cling to the same vintage pieces their parents displayed in their own living rooms.

We are blinded to sameness and seized by difference, never fully allowing the interweaving web of pure humanity to unite us all in the sweet solace of symbiosis.

So she stays sleepless, and he never stops hanging his head. Fox News mornings lead to daylong mourning by faraway strangers thanking God it’s not their own kin suffocating under soil and sun-shriveled forget-me-nots. But from within their palisades of privilege, they never stop to think about who brandishes the brush and who keeps the key.

We are all just souls upon bleeding soles traversing the tough terrain only some of us are allowed to call home.

Don’t you get it? Turn the key. Welcome home.

word by Hannah Chubb

“This piece is designed to be a wake-up call in the face of the racially-driven Charleston massacre, in addition to countless other hate crimes. It is a stripped down reminder that while difference is often glorified, it is a ball-and-chain for those who do not have the ability to hide their minority status.”

colour by Shalak Attack

“Shalak Attack is a Canadian-Chilean visual artist dedicated to painting, muralism, graffiti urban art, and canvases. Shalak  has manifested her artistic expression on urban walls across the world.  Shalak is a co-founder and member of the international art collectives “Essencia”, the “Bruxas”, and the “Clandestinos”. 

“Shalak also works with several other mixed media approaches such as tattoo art, jewelery, illustration, installation, sound, and video making. In the past ten years, she has participated in numerous artistic projects and exhibitions in Canada, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Palestine, Jordan, Isreal, France, Belgium, Spain, Argentina, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Senegal and recently in Sweden for the Artscape Mural Festival. 

Shalak shares her passion for freedom of expression, and has facilitated visual art workshops to youth of under-privileged communities and prisoners in various countries across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and in Africa.  Her artistic work and community art-reach is rooted in the social and cultural values she received from her family growing up across Canada.  Since then, her most impacting education has been learning from different communities around the world. Public walls has become her favourite place to paint, she uses graffiti as an art form to create accessibility to culture for diverse communities.” 

Issue #218: You’re Not Racist If You Find Me Pretty

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“You’re not racist if you find me pretty”

Sitting downtown Montreal, mid-afternoon spring, at the kind of booth that makes your pelvis sink, in the kind of café where you can stay for hours without buying a thing.

And no one has cleared the cups of soggy knotted teabags. The staff are wearing collared polyester and leaning against the display cooler. The windows are level with the sidewalk and people’s shoes and ankles and bicycle-wheels pass by our heads.


Earlier  I saw someone smoking under the awning in the rain and thought of you. I thought of how beautiful you are, and I don’t tell you this, but know that I could and that would be alright too. Tomorrow is your third date with someone more than cut and paste.


What do you do on a Friday night?
I wash my arms.
And your life? What are you doing?
I love you.


Because she couldn’t hear past the barking anymore, the low growl and the hiss.


No, you’re not racist if you find me pretty.


Attends: tu penses que je suis raciste? ?
Je voulais juste savoir
 d’où tu viens
je te trouve          belle.


Your curiosity tastes like vomit. Your curious  entitlement to interrogate my ancestral origins,  colonial narratives of migration, grief, diaspora that we have not unraveled and yet exist through—

to draw forth the accumulation of every other moment before this when a dark body has been a site of violent intrigue.

Because she looks exotic: sweetpotato caramel, something to bite into with pleasure.

Flesh beneath your tongue, your words are never innocent, loaded with power you may not have asked for, granted by default you entrench entitlement.


This is your responsibility, white man: swallow your tongue,

direct your gaze to what’s
charging your bark.


We are not laughing.


You say you’ve been watching men jogging and you’ll let me know how it goes.


word by Alisha Mascarenhas

colour by Jasmine Okorougo