New Poetry: “Espionage,” by Pete Gibbon


CW: sexual assault

Like anyone else, I spent time & energy imagining how 007 I could be.

Like anyone else, taught on reflex to look both ways before crossing
my street

but that’s where our shared experience ends. No daily business ends
of martini goggles for me. No living through exits—lucky for them if it

never happens; also guilty. Also, odds are good
it will happen again, so

memorize that hotkey. No inept guard. No

Paintball Mode. Nights, stacked with antagonists. Every human. Every are. Seems
except with no agency at all. Not like how wrestling’s fake, either. More like

when it’s dark, we’re walking home together & I flip off a car of strangers being rude
she’s not impressed. That’s a grimace. That’s a grimace because

she’s an operative with no security. Raised a spy but treated as an eavesdropper.
More like her opposite of FIGHT isn’t FLIGHT. It’s raped.

these words by Pete Gibbon were inspired by
the art of Pasha Bumazhniy

“A Field Guide to Fairies,” new prose by Samantha Lapierre

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

When I was young, my mom would dress me in a warm coat and bring me out into the autumn woods next to our cottage, and we would look for fairies.

In my mittened hands I held a pen and notebook. My mom held a pack of cigarettes. We would traipse through the crunchy leaves, our boots sinking into the soft ground. We would weave in and out of the birch bark trees, and our dog, Pal, was never far behind.

My mom would tell me that fairies live in small nooks and crannies in the woods. They live in trees, they play under the large tops of mushrooms, and they are magical. They are friends with birds, bunnies, and other creatures.

I’d spot fairy houses and jot down the sightings, and my mom would spot some too. She was at her gentlest during fairy expeditions. She would sip coffee from a travel mug, hold my hand, and listen to my excited chatter before it was time to leave.

When I grieve for my mom now, I grieve for her at her gentlest. The leaves in the treetops turn orange. A chickadee calls out from somewhere in the cityscape. I try not to grieve too hard, or too angrily. When I smell cigarette smoke in the cold fall air, I am still a girl wrapped up tight in her secondhand coat, surrounded by fairies.

this prose by Samantha Lapierre was inspired by the art of Alison Scarpulla

New prose by Annie Rubin, “We Are Survivors”


It felt like dying, only you’re expected to reincarnate much faster: rapid loss of breath, chest heaving to compensate. Dizzy. The room would fade in and out. I watched myself descend into fight or flight, an encumbered observer over my own body.

At fifteen, I asked to be separated from that part of my identity rooted in fear. Was it possible to unlink? Could I attain the division of self: an existence without the weight of imminent extinction?

My father felt it too. He brought me tea one night, bourbon and honey. It Will Help You Sleep, he promised. What If I Die, I asked. You Will, he said. But Not For A Long Time. We Are Survivors, You And I.

They gave me Zoloft to stop the shaking and Seroquel to help me sleep and Prozac when I had the urges to go to temple when it rained and they gave me Lexapro for the side-effect depression. They gave me Klonopin and Ativan and Valium and Xanax was my favorite; it made the room spin the least.

The effort was in solid determination to mute what so viscerally tied me to my ancestors: that brink-of-death anxiety we all know so deeply. It ebbs and flows through our veins tethering us to each other, the Jewish people.

Maybe we didn’t speak Hebrew at our Seders but the bloodlines flowed. We were descendants of those lucky enough to hold on, who knew they had to keep living. At family gatherings, the room would get silent. Why Is Our Family So Small? someone asked once. The Rest Of Us Were Killed.

But the drugs seemed to perpetuate more drugs; we were desperate for some kind of medicalized solution, capitalizing on our ingrained identity. Could we learn to escape? Or to ever quell the pharmaceutical self?

The healing had to begin through the (re)discovery of voice. Shrouded by years of institutionalized hate, the beauty of our culture must manifest itself in celebration, unapologetic lighting candles and sharing kindred spirit. Singing and loving and never- forgetting, we must come out of hiding. I want to hear each voice.

this prose by Annie Rubin, “We Are Survivors,” was inspired by the art of Christine Kim 

From Annie: “This work is inspired by the image of a character looking poised and overwhelmed, the base, supporting a dilapidated castle. The figure represents the protagonist’s Jewish ancestry in the strife and struggle of the Jewish people, who bear a weight that has been carried through generations. Striking colours provided a glimmer of hope through the subversion of institutionalized hatred, confiding in the expansive possibility of self-expression.”

New poetry by Ivana Velickovic, “Fabric”


We no longer wait in line for apricot pits.
As the arched windows of our building
fall fast, become tombstones,
we are not there.
I let her cling to thick fabric,
dragging her feet,
leaving deep grooves in the soil
that connect small footprints and
form a map of disproportioned scale.
With a head raised to level,
pulled up only by maternal duty and disparity,
I tell her we are impenetrable.
This empty lightness
tenderly strokes her glowing eyelids to rest.
In time, she may return to the rubble,
pick bones for a living
in open fields scattered with footballs and
broken nets.

 this poem, “Fabric,” by Ivana Velickovic, was inspired by the art of Christine Kim

New prose, “Macaroons,” by Erin Flegg


I stopped being able to see the art in the situation. The crack down the centre of the table where the two halves came together was always clogged with the leftover crusts of things, clumps of flour and milk, the hardened white sinews from the inside of a pepper. I would tear fingernails trying to dig it out, doing so almost absently in the mornings while she made pancakes or slices of ham or sometimes just peeled fruit with a sharp knife, right on the table, leaving the light translucent spray that comes from lifting the tough skin of an orange.

She hated to shop for groceries. She never said it out loud but I think it had something to do with the fact of money, the tangible, generally negative change that happened to her material worth in the world after paying for a block of nice cheese. How it took the romance out of the thing. She didn’t believe in saying that kind of thing out loud. I came home from work one day in the winter with a bag full of big hunks of white chocolate. I had no intention of eating it and I knew she didn’t like it. It was a small test, I suppose. To see if she could resist something that should have been so sumptuous, resist turning it into something she could hold up, if only to me, and declare through her own culinary grace that this, whatever it was, colourless, malleable, opaque stuff, had romance. Even if neither one of us did. I sat on the floor by the stove, my back against the island and my feet pressing against the dishwasher, while she melted the chocolate in a metal bowl over a pot of water. She wouldn’t tell me what she was doing and I stopped just short of accusing her of having no idea herself what she was making. It probably would have given me away. In the end she made macaroons, searching the baking cupboard and unwrapping open packages of ingredients from their grocery-bag coverings to find the coconut shreds and oatmeal, mixing them into the thick puddle. She coloured it with a pinch of curry powder and cinnamon. Antioxidants, she said, flicking a bit of the brown dust onto me from above. I grabbed her by the ankle and bit her calf, still tense from pressing her weight forward into the stove. She jumped to one side and accidentally flung the wooden spoon out of the pot. It dropped molten clumps of chocolate on the floor and the top of the island and then hit the back wall. Like a baby after a fall, she waited wide-eyed for me to show her what kind of tone we were going to use to move forward. I got up and went over to the wall, sat down again and started to lick the spoon clean. I smiled without looking at her and she started to laugh. She threw her tea towel at me and used her finger to swipe up the drips from the countertop. I just sucked on the wet spoon, grinding bits of coconut between my back teeth.

this prose by Erin Flegg, “Macaroon,” was inspired by the art of Christine Kim 

New prose by Finn Morgan, “Home Enough”



CW: abuse mention (child)

A peach morning, shards of grass sneaking into the sidewalk, branches swaying dull and dead. I arrive at the building gate and I am shaking, shaking still; should have kept the winter coat. I call the number saved from the last round of search scrolls and feigned phone pep. The concierge answers: “I’ll be right there!”

I am courteous, perform norm, stand straight and feminine, chuckling at a stray comment on tattoos and irresponsibility; be in-group, be in-group, be in-group to get what you need.

In the elevator, unmoving, with steady smiles. My tired eyelids linger closer shut with each rumble conveying us up, up. I hear the crash and the sobbing; the anxious adrenaline snaps me to wake. Concierge and I meet glances and she, with a light nod, softens her smile. The elevator sounds at the 22nd. “It’s right over this way,” she says, pointing, as the door rolls slowly open.

The hall is well-lit but there are scuffs on the wall. From neighbours? Is the building not maintained? How much can I afford to care? How much does care cost?
Concierge fidgets the key and jerks the door. A good lock. The apartment inside is fine. Nice view. Thick walls. Clean enough. Big enough. Enough is enough sometimes. Concierge points out the kitchenette, the fridge, the bathroom, the balcony. I remove my coat as we look around. I yawn and I hear a small sniffle as we head towards the bedroom.

The concierge gets a call. Issue on the 4th, will be right back.

I don’t expect the shaking and unsettled breathing to leave with her but I am still disappointed when it doesn’t. I open the room door, feel empty. I close my eyes, knowing exactly what will appear: a child with thick ringlets, crouched and sniffling in the corner of the open closet. This child lives in every empty room I visit. Ever since our first room was emptied. I know them well. Sometimes they tell me when I need to leave, sometimes they just need to be held. I am tired and this room is wide enough, sunny enough, so I tell them:

“She won’t find you here.”

“But what if she does?”

“There are locks on the door.”

“But you’ll still hear her.”

“We’ll drown her out.”


“Music. The Shower. However we can.”

“And what if we can’t?”

“We’ll survive.”

“I’m still scared.”

“I know. Me too.”

“What do we do?”

“What we can.”

“Will it be enough?”

“It has to be.”

When Concierge returns I ask to start the paperwork. Home is wherever I’m without you.


this prose by Finn Morgan, “Home Enough,” was inspired by the art of Christine Kim 

More Interesting Things



The bottoms of the little creature’s feet were rough, as if they were covered in the tips of hazelnut shells. This was a thing it didn’t much like about itself. If it could have gotten some kind of procedure to fix its feet—surgery, maybe, or even something more temporary like a medical pedicure—it would have done it, but it wasn’t sure that it had time or money and besides, it didn’t even know if such a thing existed. Sometimes, just as it was about to fall asleep, the creature would feel the skin on the soles of its feet catch against the smoothness of its bed sheets (especially if the sheets had just been laundered), and it would wince.

Today, the creature was hurrying to work. As it scurried down the sidewalk, the petals on its back fluttered in the wind. The delicate, podlike lashes around its wide eyes blinked, keeping the debris of the city out of its face. The creature was carrying a stack of important documents. It wore a backpack and a satchel and was almost indistinguishable underneath it all—it must have looked, to passersby, like a worried fire hydrant. It didn’t wear much of anything, being covered in bright, yellow feathers (unlike poor, naked humans) but it wore a pair of dress shoes to the office—not because of its horny soles, but because it was afraid of the condensed exhaust and glass dust on the streets around its place of business. These dress shoes protruded from the bottom of the moving stack of bags, papers, and glittery fluff that was the little creature.

Rounding a corner, the creature caught a man staring at it. It was aware of its unusual appearance—how could it not be—but sometimes, it also caught people staring deeply into its eyes, which were a swirling, flaming mash of reds, like the palette of an indecisive stop sign. When the creature looked deeply into another person’s eyes, it could see an awe and an uneasiness there that made it think that it might be more powerful than it itself suspected. It wondered what this power could do. Sometimes it felt that, being an extraordinary creature, it should be trying to do more interesting things with its life. It knew, at the very least, that it should be asking for a raise.

The creature was so distracted by the staring man and its own racing thoughts that it didn’t see the bicycle coming around the corner. It was knocked onto its back, violently. Its papers were scattered through the intersection. As it went flying inconveniently through the air, it heard a small child on the sidewalk yell, “Mommy, what is it?” As it landed, it heard the cyclist yell, “Oh shit!” It could see the reds of its own eyes. It hoped to God it didn’t die before it had the chance to do something about its feet.   

word “More Interesting Things,” by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour, “Lemon Bear,” by Mi Ju

on the loss of Prince and Bowie, “The Before Breakfast Blues”

owen gent

I’m writing a song about the time I waste in line at the coffee shop. I’m calling it The Before Breakfast Blues. It’s a standard blues shuffle, but instead of covering the usual topics of wine and women, this one laments the type of folk who stand in line with me for fifteen minutes, only to realize at their chosen moment that they’ve no idea what they want.

       The guy in front of me is talking, too loudly for the morning. He’s an older guy, some kind of professor. Tweed jacket, patches on the elbows. For his sake, I’m hoping the woman standing next to him is a student, not a lover.

        “Not a Prince,” he says to the girl next to him. “The Prince. The Artist Formerly Known As. He died last night, at Paisley Park. I give it a week before he’s on the cover of Rolling Stone. A cover that used to mean something.”

       What a year, I’m thinking. First Bowie, now Prince? Talk about losing some characters, man. Sure places an impetus on seeing McCartney while he’s still kicking.  

       “The worst thing about losing Bowie was that it didn’t feel like losing one guy – it felt like losing twenty. We lost Ziggy Stardust Bowie and Diamond Dogs Bowie and Scary Monsters Bowie.”

       And I’m thinking that’s some fairly astute commentary for a man with his arm around the midsection of a woman a third his age. He’s right, you know? We didn’t just lose Bowie or Prince, we lost dozens of different iterations of those men, and they were both so skilled at the art of metamorphosis that each new character they espoused was a testament to man’s ability to constantly evolve, to strive towards something different than what came before, even if people really liked what came before, because sometimes trying something new is more important than sticking with what you know people dig. That’s what I call courage, my friend. Changing despite assurances of success.

      So now I’m thinking about guys like Prince, guys like Bowie, and about how they might the epicentre, the genesis if you will, of this phenomena that I’ve been noticing: used to be, everyone wanted to be a somebody. Now, it isn’t enough to be a somebody: everybody wants to be everybody. People don’t want to be rock stars or actors or authors, they want to be rock stars who act in movies and who just saw their memoir hit the New York Times Bestseller list. But what these new kids on the block miss, the thing that they lack that Bowie and Prince had in spades, is candour. Honesty. Truth. I’m talking about soul. Bowie and Prince, these guys changed based on what came from within, not from pressures placed on them from the public. Great souls aren’t found in folk who acquiesce to the desires of trends and fads, they’re found in people who work towards reconciling the myriad of characters inside them, and using that process to sow a little truth along the way. That’s what doing it with soul looks like.

these words by Josh Elyea were inspired by the colour of Owen Gent

Lines & Anemones


word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour by Burkhard ller 

Every day that I leave the house I feel that I am leaving it wearing a sign (or maybe an expression? An outfit?) that says “here I am, world. Have at me.” I feel this way even though – when I do leave the house – I leave it also wearing the cozy winter coat of privilege, not to mention an actual, real winter coat. I can’t imagine how hard it must be without these things.

There are these little lines in between everyone’s lives, aren’t there? There’s this space in between everyone and it’s like we’re all just extending these tiny tendrils across it, these little, feeble gooey white groping things with suction cups on the ends, and sometimes we meet someone and we manage to say things that make sense and actually express anything that we really feel or mean, and if they do too and enough of our tendrils stick to enough of theirs, then we feel better for a bit, like someone actually knows us. But even if you do that for your whole life, your whole life with the same person (and that’s problematic, too, let’s talk about that) how many of your little limbs could you extend? How many of theirs could you touch?

I got on the streetcar after spending the night with a boy and on a cold corner I saw a couple walking by and I thought about how he would react if I suggested that we spend an entire day walking around and telling each other every single thing that passed through our minds. We could take turns, do an hour each and then switch. He’d told me in words that were decisive and made sense that we could never understand each other completely, because I’m white and he’s not and I’m a woman and he’s not. I agree. There’s something noble in the futility of trying to understand, though, isn’t there? There’s something beautiful about learning to replace understanding with empathy, about reaching out and touching the tendril even though you can’t stick to it.

Sometimes there are chasms between people. Sometimes the lines yawn. Sometimes two people have pushed enough times that their plates push further and further apart, sometimes one person has made a moat around themselves because of something that happened. Sometimes that moat is not a bad thing, sometimes it is not wrong to require someone to have very long limbs before we let them reach us. 

So we’re all alone, playing a giant game of tic tac toe, reaching out from our separate boxes with words written or spoken or felt, or with devices, these electronic arms with which we send cries into the ether and hope for ethereal responses, echoes in the chasm. And maybe some people are closer to the edges of their boxes than others. It’s all very lonely and very hopeful.*

word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour by Burkhard ller 

On Art and Relationships: “Extending the Pattern”

for josh

word by Josh Elyea 

colour by Mojo Wang

          Jane knows that compartmentalization is the key to a healthy relationship. She’s put all the little boxes where they belong, and for God’s sake, she’s going to leave them there.

          Jack says the simplest things in life are the most insidious. Comfort, for example. No good can come from comfort, he says. He’s speaking while deftly disassembling a French press that hasn’t been cleaned in months; Jane is only half listening, since she’s just put on Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros and is ruminating on the late singer’s post-Clash career with a keenness she’s not able to summon for the tired lecture aimed in her general direction. Rather, she’s enamoured with the sound quality pouring from their new BOSE Sound System. You really do pay for quality.

          It’s only after a large purchases, like a new BOSE Sound System, when Jack and Jane fight about money. It’s only in those moments that Jane’s chosen profession matters; only after the limited square footage of the apartment has been claimed, carefully cordoned off with a clear presence on either side does it matter what she does for a living. Jack wouldn’t go so far as to suggest she do something else with herself; no, he’s fairly certain art is where she belongs. He’d sure to like to see her make some money from it though, and he’ll be damned before he feels awful for saying so. Or, at least, that’s how this argument went the last time they had it, and the time before, and before…

          It’s not like Jane is overburdened; student loans notwithstanding, she owes a few hundred dollars on a VISA and has an unpaid cell phone bill in collections (she’s only recently stopped receiving calls where a bland, deathly voice asks “Hello, may I speak with Mrs. Jane _____ about an outstanding and quite frankly egregious debt…”). Other than that, she doesn’t owe a cent to anyone. So she’s just getting by right now – so what?   

          Often, Jane wished Jack would try and understand what it meant to be an artist, what it meant to try and create something from nothing. She wished he wouldn’t stare so obviously when she said she didn’t make much progress on her novel that day, and that he wouldn’t move with such reluctance when removing his credit card from his wallet to buy things like BOSE Sound Systems. Hell, she wished he’d stop buying things like BOSE Sound Systems so she didn’t feel so indebted to him, so she didn’t feel like she owed him anything.

          Jane looks towards Jack and sees there’s a torn piece of wallpaper where the counter-top ends; looking behind it, she can see that the little black and white boxes don’t end where they appear to, and the pattern extends far beyond her cursory understanding of it.


See more colour by Mojo Wang