Incite Magazine - February 2022

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Fundamentally, all writing is about the same thing; it’s about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates. — Mordecai Richler

Dear reader, Welcome to another issue of Incite Magazine. For many of us, the year 2021 feels as though it never happened. Rather than having a defined theme, 2021 was a blur of historic events, personal developments, and intense emotions that went by too fast to process. In the blink of an eye, we’ve arrived in 2022, feelings and all. In fact, these sentiments of haste and emotion are what inspired our editorial board to pick this issue’s theme — Flicker. While 2020 was a year of stillness and focusing on the present, for many of us, 2021 was a year of uncertainty and constant change. Yet, even through the darkest of times, we still had hope. Hope for today and hope for tomorrow, to share our lives with one another and intertwine in ways we will never be able to untangle. What better way to process those experiences than through art? As you flip through this magazine, take a minute to appreciate the chapters of your life that went by too fast. The moments where you were too overwhelmed by emotions to think things through with any rationale. Appreciate the little things you took for granted and remember the people you thought you’d never lose. Let this issue allow you to relive those moments and reconcile with the past. Allow this to be a time of reflection and let it fill your heart with hopes for the future. Let the moments that flickered by be reignited as fulfilling memories. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who helped bring this issue to life. This publication cycle flew by and it’s strange not being able to celebrate the launch with you all in person, but may our art help bridge the distance imposed on us by the pandemic. Hoping to be reunited with you all very soon,


Editor-in-Chief (Content)

Sara Emira

Editor’s Letter




staff stories the daisy chain project chicken-eaters cezara ene candlelight suky zheng unprecedented daisy chain the art of bargaining manda ruth novokmet meet me in the dark gillian hodge all’s well that ends crystal lu supernova labiqah iftikhar background scrolling ester chow my lament sarah coker half-light of ghosthood aribah ali distance aaryaman anand don’t believe him sara emira the main character mikaela grahlman when i wake hannah rose rosales routine natalie jean-marie distance daisy chain the note karen li bench 18, kingswood avenue fatima raza future making yvonne syed the radio daisy chain love me not h.m. toxicity daisy chain the moon alex chen 11:39 noah yang girl in the darkness nadeem mirza maybe tomorrow sophie marchetti late night cravings ria patel crimson caves and emerald fireflies heba khan bleed labiqah iftikhar


6 8 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 31 33 35 36 39 40 42 44 48 51 52 54 57 59 61 63 65 67 71 72


art 4 10 15 16 19 20 22 24 26 28 29 30 32 34 37 38 41 42 44 49 50 52 55 56 58 61 62 64 66 68 69 70 73

a fleeting moment janhavi patel untitled eli nolet candlelight suky zheng continuous past evie chapman untitled manda ruth novokmet switching moments sandy luu out of time sana gupta untitled sana gupta stuck in your mind evie chapman remembrance evie chapman light travelled beyond me carol zhang fantastical flicker sana gupta near and far sana gupta didn’t we swear on it all? carol zhang out of the moment sana gupta new flame sana gupta emotions off the menu sandy luu love affair evie chapman the eyes of life evie chapman solace of mysterious gift evie chapman behind the camera evie chapman untitled michelle nicol fates julia lindsay spark out of water sandy luu tunnel vision evie chapman light beyond the woods evie chapman girl in the darkness nadeem mirza float labiqah iftikhar growing pains sana gupta matchbox ardyn gibbs ursa major julia lindsay flicker tina wu playing with fire labiqah iftikhar


We asked Incite Staff:

What is one m life that went

1st year of uni went by tooooo fast! Take me back to those happy days please. — Hannah

Rose Rosales, Content Editor

Every overnight trip! I always look forward to them too much, and I’m back home before I know it!

I was sitting cross-legged, right next to you. We were laughing like we didn’t have a care in the world. Our friends’ eyes were gleaming with joy. I didn’t realize the beauty of childhood until I was all grown up. — Gillian

Li, Content Editor

Hodge, Content Editor Perhaps this is a generic answer, but my childhood. I miss the joy I felt when my mom brought home those orange, red, and blue creamsicles in the summer. When every kid on my street got together after school and played street hockey together. Or how getting from the school bus stop to my house was exactly a five minute walk, which meant I would get home at precisely 3:30 pm, just in time for Phineas and Ferb to come on the Disney channel. I miss the little version of me who would catch caterpillars and take them to school for show and tell.

Summer of 2019. — Tirath

— Karen

Kaur, Treasurer

October slipped into November before I knew what to do with myself, and, of course, midnights where I need to study. I promise to lie down only for five minutes. I wake up the next day, every time.

— Lisa Watts, Communications Director

— Aribah Ali, Content Editor 6


moment in your t by too fast? It’s definitely cliche, but the moment that went by too fast was undergrad! I’ve met so many phenomenal people and had so many amazing opportunities in the past 4 years. I feel like I was moving into my dorm just yesterday, then I blinked and suddenly had to book graduation photos. I’m nostalgic for the moments I’m living in right now. — Sophie

Marchetti, Content Editor

The dinner where my dad cooked his infamous Korean marinated ribs. Time went by too fast (and I ate so fast) for me to appreciate it enough. — Bohmee

Kim, Layout Editor

After a long exhausting day, my partner and I ordered some sushi for dinner. We sat down, opened the packages, and next thing you know, all the food is gone! Time passes quickly for the snackiest. — Noah Yang, Content Editor Everything. — Alex

Chen, Content Editor Watching pretty sunsets :,) — Sandy

The warmth of the summer ALWAYS seems to come and go too fast! I can’t wait until I can feel the heat of the sun on my skin once again. — Madeleine

Randmaa, Layout Director 7

Luu, Editor-in-Cheif (Art)



Chain Pro y s i a D jec e h t T

A daisy chain, also known as a “round robin,” is a type of collaborative writing where each contributor writes one part before passing it onto the next person to continue the piece. Last semester, we connected the McMaster community and created some collaborative stories and poems of our own. You’ll find the four daisy chain pieces speckled throughout this issue, denoted by a little daisy icon. Happy reading!




Ch k i c

en -


e t er s 12


My boy is just a little guy, triangle ears and headlamp eyes, white-socked feet that click to my room My girl is just a little lass, a klaxon-snout and mast-shaped tail sailing through the kitchen My pals are loud, sharp and warm circles, loaves and eight-pound wedges, Slinking, sometimes bounding room to room Little lives kneading mine. x






By candlelight I danced on broken glass, In exactly the way I dream of you: How each piece is a fragment of a reflection shimmering, uncertain, mere seconds of fleeting moments. Light, like shards — like ice — a taunting glimmer that I fail to catch. Though, they only attempt to — reach in and out, beyond the soft halo of its wavering flame. Not that I could see much in the dark, but this — of which is a gathering of all that’s left — I dance. Perhaps to celebrate; that some weak, dying glow still casts rainbows, the way the sun does when it catches the teardrops pooling at the corner of my eye. This light, though shattered, is unforgiving. How momentary blindness precedes the realization that it disappears once blackness settles in. Faint, short-lived; not bright enough to be a star, but enough to be a reminder of its likeness to the wish-filled and wistful caress of a longing, yearning ghost. As the shadows quiver and tremble, of course I cherish its magic; marvel — at the soft twinkle of a half-real, half-fantasy imagination. Surely, it couldn’t be wrong to hope. And by candlelight I danced to silent music — In exactly the way I tore myself in two: How the rhythm of my feet and the cadence of my breath matched that of an unheard song. There was a wanting to give away my arms, too, so they could stretch further into that unlit oblivion. I closed my eyes to listen — how the very ends of me sung to every beginning of me; how they made music of each other by gluing and stitching harmonies out of a suffocating silence.

I needed this feeling; of holding the impossible, and the familiar embrace of my wandering, fluttering mind. I needed this feeling — of nothingness, of emptiness — slipping right through every intricate imperfection between my fingertips. So I danced; faster now, the breeze from a dizzying spin wrapping itself around my neck before turning into a leering whisper of unwelcome thought in my ear. There was little time to think — to savour — before it all fell into a flowing, dynamic togetherness of my body racing wild and the air flying out of my lungs. No, it’s not enough — once — twice — I danced, faster still — a swirling melody accompanying this tireless ritual of unrelenting sacrifice, fuelling some desperate chasing of a thing just out of reach. So by candlelight I danced away my last breath, In exactly the way I had blown it out: Gone, with the last wisp of ash and flame; I couldn’t even tell if this was relief. It was, however, almost incriminating just to hold this heart in my hands — watch — as it decayed to dust. But there was never shame in loving; And I am no longer a prisoner. x




Unprecedented How unrelenting is the desire to connect, Pounding against my chest like the echo of a drum. Shakily, I draw in a shallow breath, Words falling like raindrops from my lips in a soft whisper. My timid plea is met with a deafening silence. Perhaps I am always to be alone. What is worse than being alone? Every inch of me screams to just — connect Something to fill this poisonous silence That pounds throughout my soul, a drum Constant, unrelenting, the pang of solitude. And I whisper To myself — my only companion is my own breath. There is nothing to hear but the release of a small breath As I sit out in the garden, cold and alone My one wish flies up to the moon in a whisper In the simple way that stars shine, oh, I wish to connect With a soul in far orbit, we could beat a soft drum And our rhythm could echo and replace this lengthening silence.


But the moon dispels sooner than the silence, Replaced by an orange glow that draws my breath Like music that steals the soul with each beat of the drum. Yet my dark shadow lengthens alone. I am the inky night to the ivory day — inconceivable to connect Even though all it would take is a whisper. I hear you, I see you But do you acknowledge thee?

I hear you Though I cannot acknowledge thee, As I am incapable of seeing you And I fear I that may not be able to reach you, Among bones and flesh My yearning to connect Is silenced by every memory I’ll soon forget To connect, to my understanding, Is something today we would surely regret. x



I can do nothing but wish for some whisper Some ringing of sound to fill my silence For now I will wait until I can safely connect With the heart of a friend, I will no longer waste breath On words that are heard by my ears alone My quiet nights will not sound with the pang of a drum.


The Art of Bargaining WORDS & ART by MANDA RUTH NOVOKMET You are the last thing on my mind. The sun bores through my black jacket, from the domed ceiling above, A warm hug from so far away; I pretend it is you. incite

But the tiles under my feet are still cold. I beg each painting to replace The image I have of you Standing beside me. But the room still feels empty. Nothing has stayed the same. Not the street, not the plants, Not even the places I cannot see. I know you are not a still life. So why did I expect you to stay, Like a painting framed on the wall? ‘You are the last thing on my mind’ Is the first line that I write. Yet, the poem is dedicated to you. x


I know you are not a still life. So why did I expect you to stay, Like a painting framed on the wall?

You are the last thing on my mind.

I know you are not a still life. So why did I expect you to stay,


Meet me in the



It starts with a spark Four eyes meet in the dark And the call of a lark Echoes around us


Your smile touching mine Hands inching down my spine Waiting for the time To say it right But it leads to a cry Countless sleepless nights And loving you in spite Of every little lie

Your tee shirt is stained With the tears that you made In the bed where we lay Before you ran You handed me the pain Like a gift from the grave Of what was meant to be mine Now stranded for all time I still hear the lark sing But its tune is mournful Bandaged and broken As I pray for tomorrow x




It persists with a sob Hurt and anger prolonged You can’t remember our song You got the words wrong

All’s Well that Ends ART by SANA GUPTA WORDS by CRYSTAL LU On a burnt orange September afternoon, We collided like comets flying off-course. Lost in between my rose flush and your sparkling grin; You were the only escape from this overgrown maze. You were the sun with candlelit eyes, And your laugh nestled into the curve of my neck. Crestfallen if you smiled at anyone else that way: I knew you would ruin me. Fate would never bend to our will, Yet your fleeting glance drew me closer Than I would like to admit, and in that moment you’d whisper, “Why does it feel like I have known you all my life?” A handful of golden acacias smother my windowsill, Like the way my face burns when your hand brushes mine With a taste that seals my fate. I don’t think I’m coming out of this alive. 22


Cause every time was “the last time” When one touch led to another, Until I couldn’t remember where I started and you ended, Like a drunk violet sunset at the end of summer. And when our time is up, We’ll go down in the history books, And people will sneer and say, “I knew they wouldn’t last” Even though they didn’t know anything about us. They didn’t know about our stolen glances, Or our midnight rendezvous, Or the words that we could only say in silence, “Have me for the rest of my life.” But midnight memories can’t fix A broken clock that’s stuck at noon. We couldn’t have known that the story Was quickly running out of pages. And when all is said and done, It takes everything in me to slam the book shut, But one last look from you has me guarding the pages, Praying for a happy ending.

Time froze as my voice trembled, As I urged you to leave. But, my eyes begged for you to stay, And never let me go. Tell me you’ll never leave, That you’d love nothing more Than to wake up next to me When the world is ending. And when I run out, You will always follow, Because while the world might burn, You swear you burn for me more. When spring erases winter’s death, And when ambrosias bloom from our grave, Please think of me. Don’t forget me, the girl you left behind. Grab my hand and take me back To that first September afternoon. Let us fall apart to fall back together, Burnt, gold, and broken. Fin. x 23


I buried the dead acacias outside our window, As the stench of rotting roses poisoned the air. In the pause between pages, was this the end Of our bittersweet love affair?

Time froze voice trem As I urged to leave. B eyes begge you to stay and never





Broken, I broom up My pieces Glittering In the Bright sunlight. Like stars Beautiful But Burning. x



Background Scrolling I read the last page of each book before I finish the first chapter It doesn’t have to be after the first line or first few pages But I can’t help spoiling it before anyone gets the chance I love thinking this next book might be my new favourite book The one I mention to strangers in cafes Thinking they might bring a piece of me into their memory a treasure for a far away day I paint myself into every picture that I see Sorted by an unimaginably grand machine predicting how I’d like to see the stories of every person I’ve ever met Or maybe the machine is a satellite or something floating in the sky



Maybe I heard about those storage cloud things in one of those video things I saw once Invisible to the eye yet stores an infinite amount of everyone’s everything in a jumble of wires and code filled with the stories of us Little people running after our own voices But I seek with every blink and breath The annoyingly presistent charm of humanity I scroll and watch and rewatch again to live in your life through this box I blink and wish to see myself there of engagements and birthdays and laughter and hugs Dancing in the background Singing so loud music fills my lungs x ART by EVIE CHAPMAN WORDS by ESTER CHOW





Winter finished, spring came, and summer felt cold. The leaves are falling now and the children are laughing, but all I can think about is you. It’s almost been a year since I wrapped my arms around your body, feeling the bones protrude. You would shake me in an embrace that meant a thousand “I love you’s” and I would laugh before telling you “goodnight”. The memory still hurts. You held yourself with dignity And I was there when you breathed your last. It was shaky and raspy, a sound only made by the dead. And I’m worried your image will fade from my mind. And I’m sad that you’ll never meet my partner. Or that my future kids will never know the taste of your cooking And I fear that one day I won’t be able to remember the sound of your voice — Light and warm with a hint of a Dutch accent. Each encounter of ours flashes before my eyes, and I wonder if this is what the ending feels like. Is there light before darkness? I know you won’t come back. That you won’t be the first person I see when I wake up on your couch. And I won’t hear the radio blaring from the kitchen or the little shuffling of your slippers. It’s empty without you here. And I have resigned to that feeling. x







When love looked you dead in the eye and asked about me, you were the one to blink first. I am not one to hold grudges. After all, love arrived unannounced, throwing itself through your bedroom window and falling gracelessly by the yellow vase. It walked with fragile footsteps, a lazy eye, and outstretched arms. It was my mistake to have thought you would have the upper hand. Of course, I was once again mistaken to have thought I would be doing the haunting.

Tilt your chin up in this halflight, still your hands like an archer, and take aim. Do not blink. Sorrow weaves itself into the shape of a woman covered from head to toe in sapphire stones. Bitterness is a man who is always drinking and has a tight, toothless smile.


Anger pushes up on the tiles of the floor, threatening to shake the ground beneath us. Love has curled up within your shoes, cradling its head in once outstretched arms. The look in your eye makes me feel nervous, and you are now doing the haunting. There is something strung taught between the two of us. It coils and knots, like the string of a hunter’s bow. I finally understand why you always used archery metaphors when teaching me to play darts. Do not blink. When we spoke of love, did we speak of two different things? My heart is on my sleeve, and yours is cradled in your shoe. Like two damned peas in a decaying pod. What is it doing in your shoe, with its gasping, open mouth and lazy eye? I always had trouble meeting others’ eyes and your gaze was never one that knew hesitation. Do not blink (or, at least, please do not blink first). 31

We were standing in this half-light, the outline of my figure softened while harsh shadows veiled the left side of your face. Your right eye, defiant and unwilling, aloof and maybe in love, but I never did see the left one. The memory aches, and it is an ache for ruination, to tear everything apart. So what if the two of us were unlovable; at least we could still play darts. Sounds of you crowd the room, but never with words. Only echoes. When the billowing smoke and cusp of a man looks me dead in the eye, I am still the one that refuses to blink. But if you are to haunt me, I request only this: please linger a little longer in the doorway. All of ghosthood pales in the presence of your company, and it has been so long since I last saw your face. x


Nevermind all that. Where were we? Flames licked cobblestone, amber light pooled in your eyes and your glass. The two of us were just as weak and watered down as your drink. There is an ache that claws and gnaws when I remember your upturned face and shifting eyes. You were teaching me how to play darts, I recall, and you always, always, won when it came to darts.

Half-Light of Ghosthood




distant It is 11:20 PM. I lay in bed, aimlessly staring at the ceiling. My chest feels heavy, every breath more tiring than the last. Every sinew of my body aches, as if I was drowning in a sea of my own melancholy. It’s an indescribable feeling. To be in a room full of people and yet feel so alone. To see and talk to others, and yet feel invisible. To be a ghost trapped in a cold cage of flesh and bones. I wonder how it feels. To have someone’s warm hands hold yours. To have someone look you so deep in the eyes that they could see your soul. To be reminded of starry nights and perfumed boulevards whenever you are with them. To be so full of blood, that every waking second feels different. More unique. More warm. I get up and sit by the window, overlooking the city. I see all the lights, glittering the horizon with life. And I think to myself, every single light out there is another person going through the motions of life. Maybe they are falling in love, or maybe falling out of it. Maybe they are with their friends, singing pop songs from their youth and intentionally annoying the hell out of their grumpy neighbour. Or maybe they are drinking in silence, reminiscing about the good times of the distant past. I smile to myself. There is a strange charm to life — one that connects us all with invisible threads. It’s a dangerously beautiful thing, to walk by a stranger never knowing what they have gone through. To never know who they have loved, who they keep in their prayers and who they have left behind. And yet feel their pains and joys. I know that wonder is out there, strutting through the avenues of the human condition. I hope to meet it someday. x ART by SANA GUPTA WORDS by AARYAMAN ANAND




I remember when you told me About the boy you’d just met Who promised you the world And I said Don’t believe him I remember how you’d tell me about How much he loved you How much he cared And I found myself biting my tongue Don’t believe him

Or when he invited you over that day Promising that nothing would happen And you blindly went along Because you believed him Although I warned you Don’t believe him


I remember when he made that joke Crossing several lines And when you called him out on it He promised he’d never bring it up again But I warned you Don’t believe him

But nothing happened So for a second I doubted myself For a moment We believed him I remember our shock As we heard his version of What happened that day The way it spread like a wildfire because They believed him

And just like that Your love story became a nightmare and it was your turn to yell How you wanted to scream Don’t believe him Don’t believe him Don’t believe him But your pleas fell on deaf ears And I held you in my arms As you sobbed Gasping for air as your body trembled aggressively And how relieved you were when I promised that I don’t believe him If you could go back The first thing you’d tell yourself now is Don’t believe him x





The Extra. “Here, I sit in an old theatre On a rainy afternoon However, it is not pouring outside, But within the pages of my deranged mind.

“Don’t you see That life and art They are the same They blend together Day by day And we are playing a role Whether we know it or not.

Quiet little voices Roam the stage at night and I often fear that they might be mine, Do they wish to be heard? Do I?”


Three minutes until showtime.

You pretend to love him, Pretend she is the one, Pretend you do not care, When someone stumbles on your heart.

“I am not the lead, Nor am I the protagonist Who is supposed to save the day, For I am an extra lurking in the shadows, Just waiting behind the stage.

Save your words, Pretend. Pretend. Pretend. Until you forget it was merely a silly act.”

I do not have a memorable face, But one you’d walk by and instantly erase, I am nothing but a walking smile to most, As they are to me.”

30 seconds until showtime.

Two minutes until showtime. “I do not wish for the spotlight, For it often looks down upon the words I speak Nor do I relish applauses directed at me,

I rehearsed my lines, My monologue And I hope you enjoyed The preview For what’s to come. 10 seconds until showtime.

Would the audience trust the words I say? Or would they simply boo me off stage? For in madness there is truth.”

“Break a leg darling!” I say to lead, And of course She does. For she, is me.

One minute until showtime. WORDS by MIKAELA GRAHLMAN ART by SANA GUPTA

Action. x 36





this is a memory of a memory of a dream she asks me have you learned how to fly? I tell her no, but I learned how to walk away I play her laughter on repeat her smile on shuffle if I close my eyes she sounds like my favourite song

I want to ask her do shooting stars sleep in? do they lose their shine when they fall? these are all the things I miss about you but don’t want back

she says wait wait I know this song, but I don’t know the lyrics she hums pretending like she wrote them she says wait don’t you think we grew a little too fast? with roots intertwined but not connected

when we meet again I do not tell her that she is beautiful the way she lights up when she talks about the people she loves about the things that scare her and the things that hurt I do not ask if I’ve ever hurt her I just listen I listen I listen to the cracks in her voice I flinch she laughs I second guess her laughs but laugh with her anyway the way we always do — isn’t that what we always do? x

she takes a backseat in my memories is the forefront of my daydreams I find her in delta waves she catches me in random eye movements how can I sleep like that?



My watch vibrates gently, telling me it’s time to get up. I quickly leave my bed and get ready to shower. I don’t think about it too hard. I turn the shower on, take off my pyjamas, and get inside. Don’t look down. With my outfit chosen for the day, I grab my mascara and fill in what little facial hair I can find. There I am. There are still a few hours before class. I scroll through TikTok for a while, seeing a collection of dances, arguments, and fun trends. One of my favourite creators reveals his top surgery results. It’s about time I see some queer joy. My classmate looks for me across the room. I hear her say, “Has anyone seen her — sorry — them?” I know. It’s hard. The group sings along to a Shania Twain song. There is joy in the room around me, lighthearted fun. But I feel myself retreat into my own head. Why does my voice have to sound like that? I miss singing. Back in my room again. Before I change into my pyjamas, I stand topless with my eyes closed. It almost feels real. x WORDS by NATALIE JEAN-MARIE ART by SANDY LUU 40




Alex knew that she was lying, but he went along with the farce anyways. It was a small, simple thing. A lie that perhaps she didn’t even realize was a lie. “I can’t wait to grow up,” Anna said. “I’ll have tons of friends, and I’ll go out to town, and we’ll all run through the fields together! You can be there too, I guess.” She stretched out on the cool stone floor in a way that was almost cat-like, though he would never hear the end of it if he pointed that out. “Yes yes, and you’ll swim in the lake and soar over the seas. That’s our princess.” Anna giggled. A spout of white light shot the fireplace, sending the flames up to lick the edges of the spit-roasted chicken. Good. She had controlled her fire. Alex watched her continue to talk and giggle her way through her grand plans for the future. She gestured widely with her arms, sweeping and emphasizing and pointing here and there, and with each swoop, he saw the fire dance along to her movements.


Time to lighten the mood. “You could always run away with me,” he joked as he knelt down to spin the chicken on the spit. This was them. Joking as soon as things got serious. Anna snorted. “And have you nag all day? I’d rather take your brother. He’s handsome and I bet he knows when to stop poking at a chicken,” she said pointedly. Anna was born with the gift. Her magic was wild and boundless, just like its owner, and that meant her future was going to be far from how she dreamed it would be. She sat up after a while, wiping her lightly sooted hands onto her dress. Alex saw her hands and noticed what she was doing and widened his eyes a bit, looking pointedly at the black stains. Anna realized the marks. “Ff- I know, I know,” Anna sighed. “Sorry, I’ll wash it.” “You wouldn’t have to if you-”

“My brother, considerable yet foolish. He couldn’t tell between a chicken and a rooster if his life depended on it, Anna. You’re better off with me.” “With you, huh?” She rolled her eyes and gave him a playful shove that set Alex off his balance, knocking over a large pile of books behind them. They shared a look of distress as the sound echoed through the hall and almost on cue, heavy footsteps followed. “Anna how many times have I told you that it isn’t safe for you to be down here during this time?!” The voice called out angrily.

“I know, Alex.” Anna admitted. Practice makes perfect after all.

Frustration engulfed her as fire crackled at her fingertips, daring to spill to the floor like gasoline. The fireplace behind her roared with the same intensity it had that night. Emotions, like catalysts to the perfect storm.

Like the good servant-boy he was, Alex went over to the basin of clean water. He took out the cloth that he kept tucked into his front pouch and soaked it. He handed it to her.

In walked Lawrence, swathed in a his dusty black robe. Too long, it dragged on the floor behind him. Half-moons shadowed the skin under his eyes.

“Thank you Alex,” she whispered, and she began to wipe the soot from her palms and dress. But slowly, the tears dripped down her cheeks. With a cold, dry thumb, Alex began to wipe the tears from her face. Princess Anna stared into the fireplace. “Father won’t ever let me leave, will he, Alex?” His hand stilled on her cheek and he tilted her head up. “You’ve got soot on your nose,” he whispered, still holding her face in his palm. He noticed how close they had gotten and cleared his throat.

“Anna!” He glared at the young fire-mage. “You know better than to be here, at this time of night. With him.” Disdain laced Lawrence’s words as he frowned in Alex’s direction. “Come with me. Up to bed--” Anna opened her mouth to protest. “Now,” Lawrence cut in. Flame-tips itched the palms of Anna’s hands, but there was nothing she could do. Catching Alex’s eyes for an instant, she turned on her heel, in the direction of the dormitories, and the magic went out. x







He was still moving, somehow, or perhaps everything else was moving, spinning, zooming in and out like footage from a car crash.

Feet planted, gun raised, crowd silenced. With a bang, he flew. Every muscle in his body contracted and relaxed in synchronized precision. One moment the wind was on his side; the next, he had surpassed it. Focused on the sounds of his own breathing, he knew, nonetheless, the crowd was chanting his name, the favourite to win the race. White lines, painted fresh this morning, stretched into a bend now, and with a strategic lean, he gained two more feet ahead of his closest opponent. He wasn’t going to lose now, not when huddles of fans waved photos of him across the field. He could feel them roaring in the vibration of each step, the buzzing in his ears, the intoxicating taste of imminent victory. A faint line of pink ribbon undulated straight ahead. “The anatomy of a track champion: the intricate balance between power and lightness”, “1996 Olympian and Three-time national champion takes fourth title despite injury”, “Undefeatable: track winner rewrites history for the fourth time”. Headlines of his victory echoed, drowning out doubts that had plagued him for months as he recovered from a ruptured ligament. They had dismissed him, counted him out – now he imagined them gaping in awe and envy and disbelief – what had driven him to train as if nothing else mattered. His ego sighed with relief. It was all going to be worth it. Fifty meters. His pace quickened, tossing his torso forward with growing thrust. Thirty meters. He could begin to make out the logo of the sponsoring company – some giant in the yogurt industry – printed on the pink ribbon. Fifteen meters. A kick. A snap. Pain shot up his leg, crossed his hip, and he wrestled with himself in a violent jerk. The crowd must have gasped; or at least he imagined they did. He tumbled forward, driven by a momentum that he could not afford to lose. Ten meters. On his knees now, gravel and blood and sweat in patches of brown and blue and crimson red. He was still moving, somehow, or perhaps everything else was moving, spinning, zooming in and out like footage from a car crash. It was later recounted to him that he had practically crawled to the finish line, a defaced veteran. According to witnesses,

he had asked for the results of the race, and they had been kind enough to lie. What took the place of a pre-planned celebration party was a suffocating ride to the hospital, then silence from the doctors – the kind that sought confirmation before delivering bad news. Even before the words came, he knew he’d never compete again. After a six-hour surgery, he was ordered to rest for two months, then learn to weight-bear, then attend physiotherapy for as long as it would take to regain the ability to walk. He said little for a while. There was little to say. There was also little reason to eat. Soon, all of his belts needed to be hole-punched anew, so he resorted to sweats. His schedule cleared with hours of nothingness every day, and those hours were excruciating. At first, he sought out company to fill the time, but something in people’s eyes made him feel small and broken and wrong whenever he looked anything but sad. People never hesitated to tell him what was best for him: “get outside more”, “it’s all about protein”, “at least you’ve won all the trophies one could possibly win”. The worst of all was the way people tiptoed around him as if he would dissolve into smoke if they chewed too loudly. Gifts and condolences streamed in, and he donated most of it to the local Good Shepherd’s. He opened some of them, though, curious to find out what exactly one sends to someone who had just lost his career. One of the gifts was hurriedly wrapped in baby blue. Within the box were a second-hand toy piano and a note that congratulated ‘Aunt Stacy’ for her ‘second newborn’. In a strange rage for which he could not place the origin, he smashed his hand into the keys, hard. The cacophony made him feel something. He wasn’t sure what, so he did it again. Then again. And again. 45


That afternoon, he donated everything but the miniature piano, which he left sitting next to his bedside lamp. On sleepless nights, he’d reach out, and the drumming notes would stifle the rising sense of doom and lull him into sleep. When he despised himself, the instrument would agree in ugly disharmony, and he’d feel understood. He never learned the names of the keys, but he began to emulate what he heard – songs from radio stations, anthems – and he began to write songs of his own. He never recorded any of his creations, and he took pride in knowing they would always be his.

The bell sang three times, and from behind the screen emerged someone with shoulder-length silver hair tossed into a low ponytail. Eyes narrowing, she waited. “Hi, you don’t know me, but I received this keyboard in my mail by mistake about a year ago. I live on Peynard, not Devnar, you see.” Unsure of where to place his hands, he decided to hide them in his pockets instead. The woman inspected the toy curiously, then inspected him more curiously, “Whom was it from?” “I don’t know. I never looked, sorry.” He lamented, staring at her slippers. “And you held onto it? For a year?” She dragged the last word so it became more of a statement than a question. “I shouldn’t have; I realize that now. It’s just that – it helped me, the sounds of it. I could press a key, and it would play, and that was comforting to me. It’s crazy when I say it out loud. I don’t know, I can’t quite explain it.” His voice reduced to a whisper. Suspicion lifted from her face, and in its place spread wonder and nostalgia that split into profound melancholy. She restored her voice with a cough, “do you play, then? Are you a musician?” He chuckled, “Not at all. I think I’d own a proper instrument if I were a musician…not that this isn’t proper.” He gestured at the child-sized piano, white plastic protruding where the paint was chipped. She caressed where he had first smashed the keys the year before. “Would you like to come inside?” “I’d like that.”

He caught his own reflection in the counter - dark-eyed, a black hole - all he was missing was the scythe. Seasons passed, and he found a job as a librarian at the university. It was part necessity – funds from his sponsorships had dwindled to next to nothing – but it was also a reason to leave his room every morning. Some days, in the quietude of an underused library, he’d conjure up songs in his head, playing them over and over until he could return to his piano and bring it to life. One night, as he was cleaning the counter for closing, something shone against the marbled surface, and he felt a sharpness – not exactly painful – where he presumed to be his heart. He was suddenly overcome with resentment for Death, as intense as the gnawing feeling deep in his chest, for the unspoken expiration date that took and took but never gave back. He caught his own reflection in the counter dark-eyed, a black hole - all he was missing was the scythe. He hurried home and rummaged through closets of cardboard boxes and gift bags and souvenirs. It was a poor habit of his to keep useless scraps as memoranda, but how thankful was he now that he’d kept a note that wasn’t even dedicated to him. Scribbled in the right-hand corner was an address, and he ran out, leaving behind the disarray that represented everything he owned.

The melody echoed itself as it rose, rapturing into a frenzy of notes, before dissolving into the carpeted flooring, soft and burning against his toes. The entrance opened into a living room, with a two-person couch stationed in front of an empty fireplace, and between them, a grand piano. He could see his reflection in the dark, polished surface, and the sight alerted him to how she must have thought he was begging for food or money.



She pulled out a bench from under the piano, and from under its cushion, three sheets of music scores taped together at the edges. Without signaling him to sit, she began to play, her short, stubby fingers transformed into ballerinas dancing on the snowwhite enamel. The melody echoed itself as it rose, rapturing into a frenzy of notes, before dissolving into the carpeted flooring, soft and burning against his toes. As the final chord lingered then faded into a silence that he’d never known, he could breathe again.

got mixed up with his address, past the music store from which he had purchased his first volume of music scores, toward the park where he had jogged every morning before the injury. She strode through the metal gates, pace quickening, and vanished behind a hill. He fought to catch up, dragging his foot. At the top of the hill, he could spot her, a somber monument of black and maroon against neat rows of headstones. Carved on the stone in front of her: in loving memory of Ruth, July 1996 - February 1998. They both stood, motionless, thinking of the child that was buried too soon - one from memory, and one from imagination – and it all made sense. In an implosion that blasted the floodgates open, he told her everything: the injury, the race, the public humiliation, the hollowness that enveloped him for months, the chattering in his head that would not be silenced, then the anger – oh, the anger – that drove away anyone that had ever cared about him. He explained loss, for the first time, to someone who understood it all too well. The wind stabbed his tearstained cheeks like needles, but he couldn’t stop. He sobbed frantically like a hurt child, and he could feel himself growing lighter with each breath. When the spasms in his chest slowed, and there were no more words left to spill, she held him and whispered, the first words she’d spoken to him that day, “Thank you. I knew, all of it. We used to watch you, Ruth and I. You were marvelous. Then you showed up at my door, I couldn’t believe it. I could tell you were hurting, just like I was. Thank you for telling me, for trusting me,” then she looked up at the dimming sky, “thank you for finding me.”

So it was decided. He took lessons from her and paid a substantial fee, and she accepted it without protest, understanding that he needed to give more than she did. Every week, he arrived at the front porch with half an hour to spare, and each time, she invited him in. Their conversations grew longer and deeper, and they each shared their stories with a sincerity that was all unreserved but for one carefully packed part of their past.

He explained loss, for the first time, to someone who understood it all too well. The wind stabbed his tear-stained cheeks like needles, but he couldn’t stop. He bought himself a piano and placed it under the window of his bedroom, overlooking the field outside his apartment. Each day, when the sun beamed directly above the complex, spilling warm golden rays onto the keys like spotlight on a stage, he would perform, not for an audience, but for the summer breeze; for the sweet scent of honey and sunflowers and freshly cut grass; for the lover and friend he had yet to find; for the gnawing sense of longing in his chest, and he drew on that longing and built worlds around it. He played with a force that drowned out the noise whenever it was quiet, too quiet. One week, he arrived for his lesson, eager to show off the fruits of his practice. Instead of letting him in, she stepped outside. Without inviting him to follow, she walked on, down the lane whose name

The recital was scheduled for a Saturday afternoon. The program pamphlet listed his name in clean, italicized fonts, among other names of mostly gradeschool children. When it was his turn, he strode onto the stage and left his music sheets unopened – he did not need them to play his own music. He searched the expectant crowd for her eyes and found them, glistening, and she responded with an affirming nod. Wrists arched, fingers hovering above starting position, crowd awaiting. With the crisp chime of the first note, he soared. x


Bench 18, Kingswood Avenue “I have been here for centuries, Sometimes I am part of the sand or the rain pouring down on you. You will find me in the first fall of snow and the first summer breeze that you may miss But most days, I sit here waiting to be free” 1999 Alina I walk to the Queen’s Park bench, my unofficial nightly dwelling. Except, today there is someone sitting there. Someone strangely familiar. He sits there, incandescent under the streetlight, I could even make out the inimitable brown specks in his golden eyes. Although, I don’t remember them glimmering like that. His brown hair, longer His eyes, still deciphering me. Azar She was not the same person who had told me all the frivolous old school gossip. No, she held secrets. She had grown into someone I didn’t recognize at first glance anymore. She didn’t speak as loud, every word she said had meaning to it. It hits me like a blaze of lightning that the person sitting next to me is not my childhood best friend. What did she do all these years I was gone? Has she gone through life with companions far better than I or was she alone? “Time, what an enchanting and appalling thing For most, it’s an ever changing constant For some, it’s a confinement of lost people and enduring reminiscences” Alina When I go back to the bench there’s no trace of him. Perhaps I had made him up in my mind all along, and he flickered out of my life as swiftly as he had entered it Sometimes, I wonder if he was real at all 2099

Alina I’m awake. There, in the middle of the busy station, there he is. “Azar! Azar!” I yell. I had missed that smile. WORDS by FATIMA RAZA I reach towards his hand, we touch and ART by EVIE CHAPMAN A bright light glows. x






Future Making

My past self apologizes to me subconsciously for not having captured all the details the first time I tell her, there is no way you could have known when to start recording anyway A seed does not know how beautiful it will grow to be as a flower, only that it will become one. x




I wish I could seal moments filled with budding potential into a jar Moments that have already been lived, only recognized for their formative significance in hindsight I’d watch them light up before my very eyes, like fireflies, just one more time

“You have ten minutes before I find you. Pray that I don’t.”



RADIO THE THE RADIO When I flipped on the radio that night, I couldn’t believe the voice I heard coming through the speakers. It was hard to make out the words but I recognized the voice immediately. The intonation of each word brought back every memory. The warmth heated my cheeks and the voice’s smooth tone presented a calm wave over my racing thoughts. It was the voice I never thought I’d be able to hear again in this lifetime. The voice that used to give me joy and comfort. The one that once said “I’ll always be with you”. l quickly pulled over to the side of the road and turned up the volume to hear what the voice was saying.

not daring to breathe as I waited for him to say more. But it was only silent static that came through. Moments later, the channel switched back to radio hosts talking about their Friday night plans and the traffic on the 403. Ten minutes. That’s all I could think about. Pray? He should be the one praying. The hosts continued to talk about the buildup due to a three-car collision. I hoped he was in one of those cars.

“You have ten minutes before I find you. Pray that I don’t.”

I took a deep breath. I needed to focus. I knew 10 minutes would be more than enough time for him to track me down, but it was more than enough time for me to be ready, too.

I froze, the previous warmth in my cheeks instantly gone. What? Was he - was he talking to me? How did he know I was listening to the radio? How did he know I was listening to this channel? How was he even allowed to say that on air? I held my breath,

Tires squealed against the pavement as I swerved back into traffic, hiding my 2016 Chevrolet Malibu in a forest of headlights. I slid into the middle lane on the highway and relaxed my death grip on the steering wheel. Buried in a sea of identical cars with

THERADIO THERADIO THERADIO THERADIO THERADIO the veil of the night sky, there was no way he’d find me out here.

“Joe.” It was coming from the radio vent.

I peer to my left and to my right frantically searching through the drivers around me as I count down each and every minute. 7 minutes...8 minutes...9 minutes pass as I continuously tap the steering wheel with my finger admist the traffic.

“Joe.” Shut it up. Shut him up. 5 minutes. x

My palms heated with moisture as I glanced at the passenger’s seat. The knife lay, silver and shining and cold, an answer to a question I couldn’t dare to ask weeks ago.


The knife laid there, beckoning me from the same seat where he sat when we made those promises. Promises we made as boys. Now, we could remain those foolish boys, or we could settle this like the men we’d become. 6 minutes. The traffic inched forward at a dead crawl. My nose itched, so I took the left hand off the wheel to scratch it. I could feel my eyes bulging f orward in their sockets, although the mirror showed them flat.




love me not ART by JULIA LINDSAY WORDS by H.M.

i was pink and rosy and cotton candy sweet. maybe that itself is a recipe for disaster. maybe it’s just coincidence. you were masked with too many colours that were never your own. too many words that were never for me. peel away the rose petals — love me, love me not love me, love me not love me, love me not love me, love me not love me, love me not love me, love me not (i’ve stopped relying on fate) i still find the signs: a crinkled love poem in the bottom of my bag. the christmas box on the dresser. a drunken phone call six years later. (i like to think i’m still pink but you told me you might die and i don’t really give a fuck, do i) x




Toxicity 56


crinkled memory unfolded like gum wrappers i chew again and again the way you fit in my mouth i’ve tasted this before before before

alien blood drip drip drips down the drain you’re killing me from the inside slowly slowly my mind a graveyard she buries memories of the times we spent together decay turns them to monsters and when it rains water droplets glisten against my lips dulling the taste of licking the copper pot i’ve tasted this before before you smile with teeth that are scattered like broken bones and before i know i

i am still bitter on the inside. my skin is lush and sweet but in the back of my throat bitter lingers acid laces my esophagus as you crawl out from the depth of my guts dripping venom onto my tongue who are you to define me from inside? who are you to leave right when i can’t face the light?

i do not want to be free when the foil faces me Showing red red lens red lips red touch i’ll chew the gum swallow some never spitting it out x

neon signs glow but i can’t let you go i’ve tasted this before before before





A wave washed over me. A comforting breeze that heralded the advent of spring.

The Moon


I was seven years old when I saw the moon for the first time. It was a presence that defied expectation, a celestial figure that demanded attention. It radiated light and illuminated the otherwise dark and dreary backdrop. The stars and their feeble glow were candles next to the raging conflagration. I teetered in tune with the throbbing rhythm. Glimmering spots pulsed and danced in tune. A droplet fell to my chest. One, two, three. Tears. The salty tracks were numb. How had I lived for so long without this? “Br… thh,” a faint voice murmured. “Bl...k.” I ignored it. A hindrance. Unimportant. Moon bright-er. Brilliant. Best. A loose and grainy material populated my oral cavity. It had no taste. Chunks broke into crumbs that disintegrated into powder before dissolving. I spat. The milky white haze was deafening. I couldn’t hear any scents. I blinked. Blinked. Blinked. Tears again. Where had the Moon gone? Something struck my back and planted itself there. It was firm. Strong. It resisted resistance. I became aware of a cool, firm material underneath me. My vision returned gradually, ebbing in and out like the morning tide amidst a seasonal storm. I was on the ground. I had spat out something brown, a concoction of dust, sand, and dirt. The voice was clearer now, a bird’s cry against galeforce winds. “Breathe,” it said. I breathed. “Blink.” I blinked. The head priest — my grandfather — stood above me. He shook his head with a dry contortion of his lips as he repeated the mantra. After a moment’s reprise, he lifted his foot off my spine. “Good,” he said. “You have promise. Tomorrow, we will return.” He left with large strides, not once looking back. The inner sanctuary was closed once again. The Moon was there, just behind the drawn curtains. The jeweled 59


I saw myself as a young adult, burdened by responsibility after his peaceful passing, yet rising to the occasion. I saw myself facing the Wa o, oooooooo ooooo ooo oooooooo oooo. I was laughing, baking treats with techniques gleaned from the academy’s far-flown students with ingredients sourced far and wide. I saw myself rearing successors. They were adorable, spewing claims that they were already acclimated and requesting I step down. I saw myself grow feeble. A helping hand steadied me as I made my way down the familiar path to the inner chambers.

flowers that crept up the walls and encircled the hall in complex crystalline curves were no longer captivating. The visiting caravans filled with troupes of melting voices and rare succulent delicacies from the north were nothing but distractions. Nothing compared to the Moon. A discrete sense of unease rippled through me. Grandfather would not have left me. He would have — did — escort me out, aware of the risks posed by one’s first exposure to the Moon. It was why all caretakers acclimated themselves from a young age; those who lacked experience risked losing their minds without supervision. Grandfather was a meticulous man with high expectations and as dedicated as any head priest before him. My hand, reaching, came to a halt on the fine fabric of the curtain. Its soft fabric swayed and conformed into bizarre shapes. Behind it, I knew, the Moon sat in bed, with the same eternal countenance. It was a comforting memory, an intimate memory, a memory I could never have formed at the age of seven. Something was wrong. Horribly wrong? Terribly wrong? Inconsequentially wrong? Wrong. The sanctuary shook. The enchanted everblooms lost their petals. The carved guardian beasts grew fuzzier until they were nothing more than abstract shapes. Screams. Visceral cries echoed through the sacred land, funneling into the inner chambers. Lawrence, the traveling merchant, whose bride vanished after attracting the interest of a rogue mercenary group. Headmaster Laura, who was the only survivor of the first interspatial bombardment. The knight, Grist, whose three children were hunted by an escaped outlaw in his absence. They would still be alive today, as children, yet unmarred by the War. If I was here now, I could change things. With what I knew of the future, I could — “ ” A wave washed over me. A comforting breeze that heralded the advent of spring. A parent’s warm embrace. A thick blanket on a winter morning. The immersion of a hot bath. Understanding. Affection. Love. The Moon. . . . Breathe. Blink. Breathe. The overwhelming presence receded ever so slightly, tempered by a sufficient supply of air. I saw myself as a teenager. I was a precocious, annoying child who would sneak into the inner sanctuary to present gifts and baubles to the Moon. I insisted I was ready, that I could supplant Grandfather if only he would be so kind as to retire.

“Thank... you,” I said. My voice was foreign, rough and dessicated. I fought for every sound against my knotted vocal cords. With herculean effort, I cracked my eyelids open. There sat the same mesmerizing figure I had seen for the first time many decades ago. There was the one constant unaffected by the decay of age and imperfection, which walked the banks of the river of time. The Moon. For the first time, the unchanging face smiled. A naive giddiness bubbled up inside me. It was unbecoming of my age, stature, and legacy. I smiled, for the last time. x



11:39 The night falls, amber squares lit between the whispering trees, The lives there look so still, their time flowing like honey. Yet my life — an incessant pendulum from one Monday to another, Leaving me nauseous and disoriented. Stretched like a bland gum between the teeth of morning and evening, I lick at the last drops and not remembering what yesterday tasted like. Do you smell that? You asked me as I settle down between the cats, My hair still damp from the shower. This too won’t stay But I know exactly where I am as we disappear into the crackling hickory, your warm hand in mine. x WORDS by NOAH YANG ART by EVIE CHAPMAN



Girl in Darkness ART & WORDS by NADEEM MIRZA

It was a place of black tar lacking light. It was a place filled with the breath of polar ice. It was a place that could never be a paradise. There that girl was out of sight. Scentless air in flight, as there she sat alone as a price, for she was to be a sacrifice, given up by the ones who stole light.

A gleam softer than moonlight, yet sharp enough to slice radiance into the life trapped in the night. Dancing forth at such a height. She could see the glistening gneiss. Towards it she reached thrice, until she could feel it ignite hope. That would invite her freedom towards the lights. It embraced warmly twice, before leading her past the crystallite. Showing her such spectacular delight. Which she had never felt when forced to be like Christ. In a place of white honey shining, where white petals clicked their warmth was a heaven. And there in the open, the girl found her light. x



She had never seen a winter’s daylight. Nothing touched her despite being free of any vice. She strained to even hear the patter of mice. Until she saw it flicker in her eyesight.







Imagine us in Paris. Well, you in Paris, me visiting. You, knowing the best-kept secrets of the city. Me, excited to see it all. The last time I was in Paris, I was too young to understand the romance, the beauty. The flame of the city was lit, but I was blind to its warmth. I liked the fountains, the women in their leather boots and fancy hats, and the libraries. But I didn’t love Paris. I think I could now. I feel the heat it emits. Even thousands of kilometres away. I can imagine it, you know? Meeting you in Paris, in that little cafe a couple of streets down from the Champs-Élysées, it’s not too busy. I barely speak French but you’re fluent, so I make you translate while I try to make friends with the barista. He doesn’t want to be friends, but you translate wrong so I don’t feel embarrassed. I tell you all about my travels while drinking smooth, dark espresso. We wander the city. I insist on having a baguette in one hand; you grab hold of the other so I don’t get lost. We stay out late into the night, wandering back towards your apartment at three in the morning. Parisian late-night pizza is harder to find than I expected, but it’s worth it. We’re on a fire escape, talking about our dreams and the ones we’re living right now. You tell me everything about Paris, everything you didn’t expect and everyone you’ve met so far. I feel warm. I am so happy for you, proud of us. Fulfilling our dreams. Just like we always planned. But sometimes plans come crashing down. Like someone sneezed on our house of cards. Water poured directly on a flame. And then what are we supposed to do? Life feels more than uncertain now. It feels like it will always be missing something. As if the plans we had made could only happen then. The window is closed, the doors are locked. The wick is damp, even now. So we have to imagine. Imagine we make new plans, one day. To make ourselves proud. We’ll light the candle again. Maybe tomorrow. Imagine us, in Paris. x





It’s too late The window barricades the royal blue With a crown sparkling of a jewel or two As the clock ticks past midnight Not a twinkle in my sight I lay still

I see you I catch a glimpse of your shrine Unrightfully so, you are no longer mine... Count sheep, they say Watch them leap, they say But I can’t help it Because late night when I can’t sleep Is the only time you’re mine to keep I crave your energy A raspberry chocolate synergy An intertwined hershey swirl That melts while your tongue twirls A midnight snack one may say But I’m too late It is now morning And I’m left starving x



My eyes stare at the ceiling Wish-less, my mind does some stealing In this dark abyss Yet my sight is pure bliss










Crimson Caves and Emerald Fireflies A crimson cave at the epicentre of my wilderness, suspended in, brimming with, encompassing an overwhelming darkness, housing a graveyard of buried grievances amongst the suffocating roots of secrets because the torch of humanity was extinguished and the sun has set on forgiveness but it is in the moments of tormenting silence when the survival instincts compel us to choose between fight or flight but there is no escape from the endless tunnels of narrowing vessels — atherosclerosis inflames the layers of despair builds artless plaques that cannot be contained in these harrowing hollow chambers. Until it shivers — in a distant aquamarine network of varicose veins forming a constellation, that glimmers as the stardust escapes from Hope. A tiny lantern in a blanketed forest; the light at the terminal of misery in a never-ending tunnel; fairy lights elucidating the fragile capillaries; emerald fireflies that have decided to illuminate my chambers by befriending the darkness. The scorching heat of failures is transient when basking in the cerulean moonlight of success — Walking across the blistering sand of misery is a testament to your resilience, celebrated by the quenching oasis of Hope. x




BLEED Our enraptured souls Watch the red petaled rose Where our hands bleed From its hidden thorns. x WORDS & ART by LABIQAH IFTIKHAR





incite magazine volume 24, issue 1 “flicker” Published Feburary 2022 Incite Magazine is McMaster University’s creative arts and writing publication. We

aim to unite a community of creatives by promoting self-expression, collaboration, and dialogue within our university campus and the city of Hamilton. Every aspect of Incite’s writing, graphics, multimedia, and event production is carried out by our

wonderful student volunteers. If you would like to get involved, feel free to get in touch by emailing @incitemagazine

editor in chief (content):


Sara Emira

(Content): Aribah Ali, Aaryaman Anand, Alex Chen, Cherry, Ester Chow, Sarah Coker, Sara Emira, Cezara Ene, Mikaela Grahlman, Gillian Hodge, Labiqah Iftikhar, Natalie Jean-Marie, Heba Khan, Kenzie Lewis, Karen Li, Crystal Lu, Sophie Marchetti, H.M., Nadeem Mirza, Manda Ruth Novokmet, Ria Patel, Fatima Raza, Hannah Rose Rosales, Rochelle Rosales, Rozhan, Ariella Ruby, Yvonne Syed, Hayley Vandermaarl, Vicky Xie, Noah Yang, Suky Zheng, (Artists): Ardyn Gibbs, Sana Gupta, Labiqah Iftikhar, Julia Lindsay, Sandy Luu, Nadeem Mirza, Michelle Nicol, Eli Nolet, Manda Ruth Novokmet, Janhavi Patel, Tina Wu, Carol Zhang, Suky Zheng

editor in chief (arts and production): Sandy Luu

layout director:

Madeleine Randmaa

treasurer: Tirath Kaur

communication director: Lisa Watts

content editors:

Aribah Ali, Alex Chen, Gillian Hodge, Karen Li, Sophie Marchetti, Hooriya Masood, Sowmithree Ragothaman, Hannah Rose Rosales, Sarah Lopes Sadafi, Noah Yang

art managers:

Evie Chapman, Sana Gupta, Carol Zhang

layout editor: Bohmee Kim

cover art:

The White Angel (detail) by Jo Purcell




I’m interested in contemporary vision — the flicker of chrome, relfections, rapid associations, quick flashes of light. Bing — bang! - James Rosenquist

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