“An Ode to My Vibrator” – Fiona Williams

Lethe for Word and Colour magazine 2017

Blue may be the warmest colour, but Purple is what makes me cum.

Many have come and gone and it is only you, my love, which remains constant.

You are
            my confidant—never have I known a greater intimacy

You are
            my paramour—you listen to direction well and never disappoint me.

I am Thankful (to all the gods I don’t believe in) that the stars led me to you, my love.

It has been a journey of self-exploration and

You have taught me the importance of learning to love myself.


these words by Fiona Williams were inspired by the work of Sylwia Kowalczyk

“Displaced” – Jess Goldson

Sylwia Kowalczyk Chicas Blue wall

Golf balls
Clamour away in my stomach
Creating a burdensome, sinking feeling.
A stillness
Brings the collision of emotion to a halt.
What’s forward
But terrifying uncertainty
The impossibility of backward motion haunts me 
A cry for help:
Find me
Hold me
Release me


these words by Jess Goldson were inspired by the work of Sylwia Kowalczyk

“glass” – jesslyn delia smith

Sylwia Kowalczyk_Chicas_Fox

i can will what
will come
in here

i’m some
how better
to breathe

what remains
of air,

where the
time stops, where
we’re left to know the

only by the light

this room is cold
and i am cold
but it is
mine, the

coldness too,

and though the perfect
light is warm

it’s some
thing better
to burn


these words by jesslyn delia smith were inspired by the work of Sylwia Kowalczyk

“Little Trophies” – Michelle Kelm


I wanted to run to the smaller car, the older model Toyota, its front end crumpled like a paper bag. I wanted to run to the aid of the grey-haired woman who was visibly shaken but not visibly injured, hands over her mouth, unsure of whether to get out of her car or not. I wanted to ask if she was okay, had she hit her head, was she dizzy. I wanted to say don’t get up just yet, catch your breath, does anything hurt, help will be here soon. But I was worried she’d brush off my assistance. I was worried someone else would run faster, get there first, and I’d be left breathless in the middle of a wreck, everyone wondering what the hell I was doing.

I wanted to call 911 and report the accident, two cars, one pulling onto a busy street, poor visibility, a tough spot for a left turn, the other going too fast, but I was sure someone else was already calling, and I’d just clog up the line. I was sure someone started dialling as soon as the tires squealed and the glass fell like ice in a warm front. The operator would be audibly annoyed at another call about the same accident. I might be the third, fourth even. I’d hear it in their voice.

I wanted to help the old man sweep the debris from the intersection. He’d come out of the barbershop with a push broom and worked methodically in neat lines. He was used to pushing hair across linoleum, and the tiny slivers of glass on the rough concrete fought him, springing into the air like mist under a waterfall. He rested often, and I thought about offering a hand, but I didn’t know if he’d be insulted. If he would think I was suggesting him incapable of the assistance that he so freely provided. That he might scowl and shake his head at me, certain I must be too senseless to identify my own way to be useful.

I wanted to comfort the passenger from the other car, the newer model SUV. She was probably the girlfriend or wife of the driver, the tall man who was pacing, concerned only about his vehicle. The passenger, the woman, was now sitting on the curb, shocked and in tears. I wanted to acknowledge her upset, to see what she needed. I could go in the corner store I was standing in front of and buy her a bottle of water, a package of tissues, but I thought maybe she’d think that was stupid or the ambulance would arrive while I was in the store and they’d wrap her in a blanket and give her water and tissues, leaving me to walk home carrying water and tissues that I didn’t need, left to sit on my kitchen table. How many days would I stare at them for? Little trophies of my ineptitude.


these words by Michelle Kelm were inspired by the work of Sylwia Kowalczyk

“The Pink Sea” by Jo-Ann Zhou

James Gilleard_4

For three days we have stared at the sea.

For three days we have watched its changing moods and colours, from turbulent grey to blue-green, to this ephemeral pink at sunset.

Tonight the pink is particularly brilliant, the calm lapping sounds like small reassurances of “everything is going to be all right.”

Having observed the sea, I know these reassurances are fickle. Poseidon is tempestuous, and the pinks could turn to angry storms of steel grey just as easily as they could fade to sunset’s late indigo.

We are, in fact, waiting for the sea to turn black. Not just twilight blue, or the deep navy in the hours after the lingering sun fades. We wait for blackest black, when no lights save for the moon and stars shine upon its still surface. We can only hope to encounter no searchlights, no vessels that claim to help but are really meant to keep us from reaching our objective.

When the pinks complete their inky transformation, we will enter the darkness. We pray that when we greet the sea at last, it will be more cool smooth onyx than roiling tar soup. We know there is a chance that we too could become one with the sea, could become part of its spectacular colours, like many of our brothers and sisters before us. 

Despite this risk, we wait for darkness, watching the colours of this great obstacle to what we can only hope is our new home. As we wish away the sparkling pinks for dull blackness, we hope to one day look back at this sea with no fears and see nothing but calm pink water.

these words by Jo-Ann Zhou were inspired by the work of James Gilleard

New Poetry by Nahomi Amberber: “When It Hurts to Stand Next to Him”


Forgive me

For not coming any closer.

You remind me too much of my father,

And the type of men

Who destroy

Women like me.


these words by Nahomi Amberber were inspired by the work of James Gilleard

“There Must Be A Name For This,” by Leah Horlick


How to feel like how you imagined the city? A blur of light steps out of a cab. Stem of a glass in a ring on a wet table. Slink, slink. Would it have been better if you had moved into that little beehive level with the SkyTrain, whoosh all day, glow all night, little hexagram. One stool, one door, two windows at an angle with the tracks, tracks, track. Two windows! Rattle rattle goodnight all day. You imagined glass and water, heels and click, the film of alcohol across everything, city city. Little dots of light, little swipes. A secret: Vancouver is actually a series of small caves, mould like a dust of sugar powder, did you know? Saturday night aesthetic: the Chevron station for yachts in Coal Harbour, hovered out in the water, glossy black, little ring, orange light. How long did it take me to realize the white-hot squares at the top of downtown are penthouses? How long did it take me to realize those very regular fireworks are private planes? Why can’t I have, why can’t I have, why can’t I? What if we just kept living together, what if I just tried harder, what if I had moved to Toronto? All the women in this city say I love you, they say centered, we say seawall, we go home and murmur Toronto Toronto Seattle Toronto in our sleep. You don’t understand. I have an obligation to a girl in a barn, to a girl in a car, to a girl in the forest; she says Get Me Out Of Here, she says My Own Apartment. Is it possible to be dissociated not from me but the city. Like here I am arms and legs, here I am oh New York.

these words by Leah Horlick were inspired by the work of James Gilleard

Finding Who You Aren’t At The Party

word by Sam Fresco 
colour by Burkhard Müller

Chet looked down at the bushy red fox. The fox looked back.
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You have to get home, Chet – you don’t belong here, said the fox.
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Chet stumbled back: his head was spinning. He ducked out of the crowd, standing over him. He ran past the counter and into the lift. 
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The doors closed. No buttons. It started going up – the lights above the doors showing it near the roof. 39, 40, 41, 42. 
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As he came out on the roof, a man in an ill-fitting brown suit was panting, hands on knees. 
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Celeste, where the hell have you been?
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Why do people keep calling me that, he thought. 
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Here now. 
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The small man lit a cigarette and offered one out. Chet hesitated because he didn’t smoke.
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Johnny, come on, what’s the matter?
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And Johnny now? 
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He took a cigarette although he felt he had never smoked before.
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OK, so we got your little shit. Now you just, y’know, you beat him around a little and we’re all down here. OK?
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He looked down to the short and balding man. No: a teenager
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A man held red gloves to Chet. He took them. The teenager spat out a tooth with a clump of blood. He couldn’t help feeling that he himself looked a lot like the teenager.*
word by Sam Fresco 
colour by Burkhard Müller



Ellen was at the warehouse party where red, green and white lights pierced the stale air. Where the bass carved out all grains of thought. Where the quiet girl in the small mask had offered a line of coke with nothing more than a simple nudge.

On the side she tapped out a neat slug from a small silver capsule. Chopped from bigger clump to small clump with a driving license. Ellen remembered staring into the eyes of the girl on the ID card, the sideways face rapidly elevated before being slammed back down into the spongy white.

Mesmerized Ellen drifted to the tapping face.  Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap – it drew her in… she drifted back to her own ID, to her younger self, to her first time ‘tapping’. It was about six years ago, she had been 19 and still in college. In Lucas’s room before the night out, she could feel the pulsing vibe of the pre-drinks still seeping under his bedroom door. Lucas had drawn out a small baggie and smiled.

‘Want some?’ he’d asked, and Ellen froze– she should have thought of this decision before this moment.

I shouldn’t. But why shouldn’t I? They do it in the movies all the fucking time. From rap stars to rock stars, porn stars to gangsters.

The whole damn world was shoveling this idyllic feel-good fun stuff so why shouldn’t she?

She leaned down, held a finger to her left nostril and inhaled sharply – feeling the shards of Hollywood race through her veins until nesting itself in that little nook under the front of the skull. A sigh of relief, followed by a sigh of high serenity.

“Fuck yeah,” chuckled Lucas, holding out his hand for the rolled up bank note off her. Copying Lucas from earlier, Ellen slid her thumb and forefinger along the rim of the card and licked it; she felt like a million bucks.

The memory of looking down at the card drew her back to the warehouse party. The girl was still staring with titled head in leering anticipation.

“This stuff,” jabbed Ellen, “it’s fucking pixie shit, no market cutting bullshit.”

“You have to tell me how you get this.”

The silent girl looked directly into Ellen’s eyes and titled her head awkwardly. She looked somewhere on the spectrum just after alert and before petrified. Slowly she stretched out the crumpled note in her left hand. Ellen took it and read, albeit somewhat confused by the peculiar request, and went to ask the girl who had disappeared from sight. She hadn’t said answered her question.

Leaving the party, she her feet falling in step, one after the other, leading the way to Regent’s Park, just as the note had said.

What the fuck am I doing

Ellen began to take her shoes off and step into the water. The long grass was nodding; the human intervention had caused a large ripple disrupting the otherwise peaceful surface.

What exactly is supposed to happen now? What the fuck was she expecting?

The water began to tremble.

word by Sam Fresco

colour by Young Wavey

From the author: “One of my best friends has just moved to Tokyo. I caught up with him recently on FaceTime and he told me about their New Years Eve procession which gets the whole city to dress up as foxes and march from shrine to shrine. Legend has it that on New Year’s Eve, foxes gathered from across Japan under a large tree and disguised themselves in human costume to visit the Oji Inari-jinja Shrine.

I researched and found that Kitsune (狐) is the Japanese word for fox. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shape shift into women. 

Amongst the spaghetti of stories I discovered, two things jumped out at me that I found utterly fascinating;

1 That some folktales speak of Kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

2 – Tales distinguish Kitsune gifts from Kitsune payments. If a Kitsune offers a payment or reward that includes money or material wealth, part or all of the sum will consist of old paper, leaves, twigs, stones, or similar valueless items under a magical illusion.True Kitsune gifts are usually intangibles, such as protection, knowledge, or long life.

So in modern society what really is material wealth? And where would a Fox find a woman to ‘take over?’ If so, under what illusion?”