“Starlight” – Nailah King

kyoto nocturne ii_linbaoling

Lena loved to move.

Through space, through life and across lands.

The first thing she ever learned when travelling is that, as you land, the lights dotted along the skyline will take your breath away.

One summer she crept onto roofs in Barcelona waiting for nightfall. Against the purple sky, lights twinkled back at her, the warm air rushing over her, her wine-kissed lips chapped against the sea air.

In movement, she felt free. Each new place cast a spell on her—she walked differently. Sometimes a stride of confidence, sometimes one of fear.

Her mother often asked her: “When are you going to settle down? When will your heart be still?”

She couldn’t answer.

Her mind was often so cluttered. A voice would whisper darkness into her ear. When she couldn’t move, she woke up, either alone or with a lover, in despair.

Many nights she’d walk along the train tracks behind her childhood home, wondering if she’d be hit and if she’d be grateful. Or, sometimes, she wondered if she could run fast enough to hop onto the train and ride it to places unknown.

Bright lights were a beacon of hope; new experiences and people.

On sleepless nights, she curled up by the window waiting for sunlight. Her body marked by tiny incisions from the past, she thought about each scar—a map of the past. She wondered why there weren’t passports for sorrow. To mark the ebb and flow of sadness and joy, destruction and rebuilding, regression and growth.

Once, when she was in the hospital, she booked a flight on her phone.

The nurse screamed at Lena but it didn’t really matter. The nurse’s words sounded warped, gargled even, the onslaught of disappointment and disbelief drifted over her. All she could hear was the sound of the ocean. She closed her eyes.

She heard the blaring sound of the train horn and raced along the tracks, dawn rising behind her.


these words by Nailah King were inspired by the work of Lin Bao Ling

A reminder: your fate is permeable


The only time I ever took a pregnancy test I was eighteen years old and living with my boyfriend in a stranger’s apartment in Prague. We spent the days wandering and the nights drinking quietly, not knowing what or how to cook.


I curl into the kitchen windowsill smoking what might be my last cigarette, and silently contemplate this bleak fate. He slouches on the bed twirling the butterfly knife bought that afternoon despite my un-nuanced anti-violence politics. Or maybe I just couldn’t support violence for the sake of masculine amusement.


The kitchen table is draped in pink blossoming polyester flowers and the fridge is mostly empty. I swallow, and clutch to the unfinished sketches of my life, slipping. It is a small kitchen, badly lit and the night sky drops away from my body.


On a walk with mother, she told me that having children doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness. They did a study, she told me. On happiness. Together we unravelled the assumed inevitability that one day, you’ll see, it will just happen. Bam. Motherhood. And eventually you’ll even learn to like it.


Still I shrink away from the word, hold close and fast to the solitude, the silence, the ability to switch apartments seven times in four years.


Even without the study, her words sucked me out of the story. At least far enough away to bring it into focus. Socialization never amounted to fate in any mystical sense of the word. My anatomy does not presume that I was made for this, and mothering, just like any other job, must be knowingly consented to.


There I was: eighteen, tender and bitter with my un-nuanced anti-violence politics, licking childhood wounds and refusing fate. That small pink bar. I taped it to the wall along with the blossoming table cloth.


word by Alisha Mascarenhas 

“I thought about all of the babies in strollers I’ve walked past this week, and about the persistent disjuncture that often presents itself between what we need and what we are told that we need. I thought of how socialization of femininity is made real through direct transmission from those who impress upon our minds most legibly, and how necessary that there are alternative narratives offered to us in these moments. I thought of the economics behind the inevitability of motherhood, and the threatening possibilities that can surface when what appears fated is pulled apart, set aside and seen through.”

colour by Fannie Gadouas

“I am an interdisciplinary artist working with photography, fiber arts and performance. My work explores issues pertaining to feminine, 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.”

bonsais and bad manners


My ticket is one-way, CHICAGO-SEOUL. I’d always wanted to go to Chicago- Bill Murray is from Chicago, and Harrison Ford, too- Han fucking Solo and Indiana Jones. My layover is four hours- not long enough to leave the airport. I’m hungry. Can’t find a place that sells deep dish pizza. Can’t find a deep dish pizza in O’Hare. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough. Maybe it’s just 9:30 A.M. I try to meditate.

I must look ridiculous, sitting cross-legged in my Chucks and leather jacket, trying to ignore the hustle of the masses, molasses. Worrying about looking ridiculous defeats the purpose of meditation, I think. Can’t focus. Take out my laptop. Twenty minutes of free Wi-Fi: That’s all you’re given these days: Twenty minutes. A taste. Bastards might as well be pushing drugs. Take out a book. Kerouac’s Dharma Bums. I read it writing my thesis, not the same as reading it now. Get on the plane. Take off is bumpy in the tail. Cruising altitude.

The sun is so much brighter above the clouds. This is the closest I might ever be to it, I think. I watch the wing tilt up, towards an ethereal blue. People sneer at me and the angry sun streaming in my window. I feel like I’m watching myself from the cloud, or from the ground, like a bird. They’re trying to sleep. I don’t care: Nobody should sleep this close to the stars. Jimmy Page massages my eardrums with the Ramble On as I stare over the pillow-soft clouds. Zeppelin II- so underrated. I remove my headphones when I notice my neighbour talking to someone in front.

Now you see here, Chuck, alls I’m trying to say is equilibrium is possible, even if you have to fly 32,000 feet to find it.

This cowboy, looking like Woody Harrelson, steals me from the clouds. Maybe it is Woody- sounds like him. I’ve been awake too long, I think.

It’s about balance, he says. He is talking to the chair.

Are you talking to me?

Who else?

My name isn’t Chuck.

Look, there: Perfect sorta balance. He points out the window. Man wound tight as you oughta realize there’s a simplicity to this: Equilibrium. You’ve gotta learn to balance your fuck yous with your Feng Shuis, your Bonsais with your bad manners.

We’re flying to Korea, not Japan- wrong Asian country.

I’m saying that in a backwater Buddhist temple or here, up here, at 32,000 feet, you’ve gotta realize you won’t have peace until you reconcile your recklessness, you hear?

I wanted to reach out and touch his hand to make sure that he was real.

You’re pretty smart for a cowboy.

I’m not smart, don’t know a damn thing. He lowered his Stetson over his eyes. Just a man who has to fly 32,000 feet to find his equilibrium, ‘course.

Bonsais and bad manners… I looked back over the clouds. Made sense up here, down there?

word by Josh Elyea

colour by Jade Rivera