Issue 12 • Winter 2020

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ISSUE 12

WINTER 2020


Though medicine can seem dark, painful, and often unfor‐ giving, humanity shines light on this darkness. Its gentle touch blooms through the pain to soothe scars and fears. Be‐ cause holding on to hope is half the battle, medicine and hu‐ manity are inseparable.

Sizhe Chen Cover Artist

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letter from the editors

Dear Reader, Welcome to Issue 12 of The Muse. It has been a long year full of uncertainties and difficulties. Even though the hard times are not yet over, this year has highlighted the importance of community, kindness, humanity, and health. This has been the first time that The Muse has produced a mag‐ azine without any in-person collaboration and coordination. This would not have been possible without the incredible work of The Muse team. Everyone has worked hard despite the current circumstances, and there is not enough praise that can be said about everyone’s dedication and passion. Thank you all for your hard work this year. To our delight, we have received submissions from unique indi‐ viduals all around the world. From the submissions of a winner of the Creator of Justice Award in India to the founder of Rumtiden Idea Lab in Sweden, we hope that the various stories will inspire and inform readers all around the world. To all our contributors, thank you for sharing your creativity, vision, and courage. We hope that we can continue to share your story for many years to come. Though the pandemic has complicated everyday life, it has also brought around the opportunity to pay more attention to the people around us. Whether it is learning about yourself, your family, or your neighbours, we have all had the opportunity to gain some newfound in‐ sight on what had been hidden before. The Muse has had the opportu‐ nity to start a guest speaker series with two speakers from the Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre, Dr. Angela Carol and Jude Nnamchi. They were able to illuminate barriers to care in the Hamilton, Canada community, igniting discussions on how we can help address the needs of the most marginalized around us. We would like to thank our guest speakers and everyone involved in this event. We would also like to thank our faculty advisor, Dr. Amster, for her support and enthusiasm throughout the years. It is hard to imagine The Muse coming this far without her help. Finally, we would like to give a big thank you to our readers. Whether it is through volunteering, taking care of family, encouraging your neighbours, or even practicing social distancing, you have all contributed in some way to making this world a better place. We thank you for all your support, and we look forward to seeing you again soon. We wish you all the best! Sincerely,

Samuel Lee

Editor-in-Chief

Alexandro Chu Editor-in-Chief


table of contents

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affection for you out of shape submission from schizophrenia forgotten memories principles of packaging revision this cloistered time life as a cliche three acts deconstruction #selfie2012 left legs lumps in the trees the whos in whoville nervous system terminal blue black coffee 143 mg mural by red zombia lest we forget womb your hand in mine corona hat

Guna Moran Lisa Shen Ada

Sriramgokul Chinnasamy Claudia Milena Farzin Foroutan Lois Hambleton Lois Hambleton A. Whittenberg A. Whittenberg A. Whittenberg Anneliek Nieuwland Victoria Crawford Victoria Crawford Victoria Crawford Pawel Pacholec Amy Bassin/Mark Blickley Nozomi Sabrina Sefton Alexander Limarev O Yemi Tubi Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier Michelle Spencer Hakan Lidbo

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affection for you AUTHOR Guna Moran It was gleaming with the gaze Affection is dumb Affection is deaf Like a speaker it did not speak about the matter like a listener it did not listen to Till the moment of parting it kept waiting in the eyes In the thick green of the desolate woods A tune is ringing faintly Gazing at the eyes I want to see Is it still alive Oh dear No way, no way Cleaving the heart comes out a curious sigh In the teary gaze is it still alive

Guna Moran, a winner of the 2020 Creator Of Justice Award by the International Human Rights Art Festival, is an assamese poet and critic. His poems are published in various international magazines, journals, newspapers, blogs and anthologies. He lives in Assam, India.

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Artwork by David Zhao


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"Is it just because you're out of shape?"

out of shape AUTHOR Lisa Shen

These metallic words ringing from the speaker pressed to my right ear have me for a moment stunned. Let me try to back up. For the past five years, I have lived with an undiagnosed chronic pain condition. I have a burning pain in my palms that intensifies with activity and an‐ kle ligaments that tear like rice paper. These symptoms have guillotined what I am able to do– from walking and standing to simply playing cards with my friends. But in eight careless words, my primary physician of twenty years invalidated every single one of these struggles. My story is just one example of how having a chronic pain con‐ dition is to have your experi‐ ences constantly questioned by medical professionals. "Is it just because you're out of shape?" floats out of my family doctor’s mouth with a tone of skepticism and a small frown. His words show that even after dozens of appointments in which I have tried to explain my symptoms, he still does not believe my con‐ dition. As a solution to my hand pain I have been told, “stop lean‐ ing on your elbows.” Similarly, my rheumatologist has told me that if all the tests come back negative, I should "just try typing a little." This careless mitigation of my


symptoms has often made me question the reality of my own experiences. After all, the ef‐ fects of my pain cannot be ob‐ served via imaging technology. So in the end, how can I be sure this is real? If pain is simply the brain's interpretation of nerve signals, does mine not exist only in the mind? Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I feel failed by our medical system. I am con‐ stantly shuttled from doctor to doctor, none of whom are able to provide me with a diagnosis. I spend months waiting for re‐ ferrals and trying new medica‐ tions, only to have them fail like all those before. And in all this time, my life is passing by; I will never get these years back.

However, I do believe in the power of physician empathy. As a life sciences student, I have heard peers of mine boast about how rich they will be as specialized doctors. It saddens me to think that such people may be accepted into medical school. Doctors should have a genuine desire to improve the well-being of their patients—not just the desire for a high salary. Moreover, we need to create working conditions that pro‐ mote empathetic behaviour, such as reducing patient throughput and long work hours. Lack of physician empathy is not the only factor that has im‐ peded proper treatment for me. Both Western and Chinese cul‐ ture consider medicine to be one of the most prestigious dis‐ ciplines. This idolization of doc‐ tors exacerbates the power difference between a patient and their medical provider, and makes it even harder for them to have an open discussion about their treatment options. Why would I voice my concerns about increasing the dosage of my pain medication if my doc‐ tor is an all-knowing expert? As a society, we need to stop putting medical providers on a pedestal; they are human just like us, and they are fallible.

That being said, perhaps I should not be so quick to pass judgement on my physician. Af‐ ter all, due to the high volume of patients, none of my doctors can even remember me without looking down at their clipboard first; to them, I am nothing more than a record of visits and an in‐ accurate listing of symptoms. Each time I open my mouth to speak, I effectively hit start on a 30-second timer. Within min‐ utes, they are out of the room, leaving me no opportunity to process the appointment or ask any follow-up questions. Under such a system, how could any The last point I will make is that of my doctors ever understand we need to increase the amount of ethnic, gender, and socioeco‐ the scope of my condition? nomic diversity in medicine. I am no health policy expert. I Like other sectors of our econ‐ do not have a concrete plan for omy, healthcare is not without restructuring the Canadian or prejudice. As a Chinese-Cana‐ Ontarian medical systems. dian woman, I am at a disad‐

vantage when all of my doctors are old, white men—none of whom I feel comfortable dis‐ closing intimate health details to. Unfortunately, the high finan‐ cial barriers to becoming a doc‐ tor—MCAT study costs, medical school bills, and a decade of lit‐ tle to no income—pinch off those whose presence we need most. For this reason, we must increase the financial and social support we provide to medical students of disadvantaged backgrounds. While I wait for such changes to take place, I will continue to make my way through the medi‐ cal system. If I keep seeing dif‐ ferent rheumatologists, maybe, just maybe, one of them will be able to provide me with an ef‐ fective diagnosis and treatment plan. However, in the meantime, I will not allow life to pass me by. I will continue to cultivate the pastimes I am able to ex‐ plore and adapt to this world in every way I can. I will continue to build a life for myself, carving my way through one challenge after another—like a seedling through stone.

Lisa Shen is a 21-year old writer from Mississauga, Ontario. Her work focuses on the topics most pertinent to her: women’s rights, abusive relationships, climate change, eating disorders, disability, the Chinese-Canadian experience, and LGBT love. She was the first place winner of Britta Badour’s Open Drawer Poetry Contest in May 2020. Her work has also been featured at multiple poetry festivals, including the 2020 Voices of Today Festival and Hamilton Take Back The Night 2020. Lisa continues to frequent online poetry events in the era of COVID-19. You can follow her work using @lisashenthepoet on Instagram. Artwork by Sizhe Chen

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AUTHOR Ada Shi This is a picture of a young man with autism. Everyone could tell by the way he looks that he is mentally ill. Before this shooting, they all told me that he was diďŹƒcult to photograph because his mouth couldn't be closed. Because of this characteristic, many people will pay more attention to the external defects, and no one will truly listen to what he is saying. After talking with him, I found that he had a more normal mind than many who are seemingly normal. I asked him, What do you think a normal person looks like? He answered: girls should learn to think, boys should be strong, be friendly and keep smiling. I asked him: What do you think of a good picture? He replied: I believe eyes can talk. Everyone has physical and psychological barriers that they cannot overcome. So are they, so are we. I hope that his photo can bring more positive energy to others.

To author Ada Shi, art is a visual language, a work without metaphor is like a book without a story to her. Pursuing perfect composition and color of the images is not what she is really looking for, but rather integrating emotions and thoughts into the photos, to discover eternity from transiency. Perfection is a mirage, yet everyone still has their desires to want things to be as awless as possible. As a photographer and artist, she's noticed this happening around our world, that is to say, she keeps her eyes open to problems before each shooting. However, she can’t solve those problems but at least someone will able to think about them once they have seen them.

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Sriramgokul Chinnasamy lives in Chennai, and has an M.A. in Creative Writing Teesside University, UK. His poems appeared in Envoi, Live from Worktown, Nib, Kitaab, Muse India, and others.

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Artwork by Sizhe Chen.

India from have Blue


schizophrenia AUTHOR Sriramgokul Chinnasamy A black panther cub on my neighbour’s window wants to break in through my kitchen window. The cleaver that can defend me shouldn’t butcher me instead Flight and train tickets I book change automatically to a wrong date, either before departure or once onboard When I think of my lost hoodies, I end up receiving ads on them If I see a sculpture on Instagram, I end up seeing a real sculpture by the same day On every fifth of a month, somehow a five pound note passes my hand Are these some kind of hacks or is someone trying to communicate me the near future? I couldn’t differentiate a mirror’s reflection and reality and can feel the surveillance even when the road is empty Everything seems to be an orchestra and revolves around me Even a normal walk in a town center, looks like I am in a Nolan’s movie Thanks for the support, understanding, and medication Still you need to know, you are the cause of it.

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forgotten memories PHOTO BY Claudia Milena

This photo is part of my photog‐ raphy project "Forgotten Memo‐ ries". I began this project in 2016. María Inés is my mother, and she has Alzheimer's. I had taken care of her for almost two years, and my husband and daughter have helped and sup‐ ported me a lot. Although I am now far from my mother and fa‐ ther, I am always aware of how they are doing, and I travel every year to see them.

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Claudia Milena is a documentary photographer and texile artist from Chile. Milena has studied design in Argentina and Spain, where they have lived for more than ten years. Now based in the UK, Milena's artwork is inspired by daily life experiences and human relationships. Milena has showcased their work internationally, with exhibitions in Chile, Paris, and the UK.



principles of packaging ARTIST Farzin Foroutan The whole event of COVID-19 around the world forced people to think about how they could stop the spread of the virus. The idea of this project is to keep the virus locked into an isolated area, as seen every day when keeping in‐ fected individuals isolated from healthy individuals in plastic-cov‐ ered areas. Showcasing the new outcome of early 2020, covered in a plastic bag with the abstract shape of the virus as a suction cup ball toy, made me design this poster with a personal message in a conceptual direction.

Farzin Foroutan is a Berlin-based, Iranian artist who works across photography and visual arts. His work focuses on social issues, people, the simple aspects of human life, and their relations to nature with references to his personal life and experiences. After completing his studies, at the IRIBU University of Tehran in Digital Arts, he started his Master's studies in Visual Arts at the Eastern Mediterranean University of Cyprus.

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revision AUTHOR Lois Hambleton Listening to my eldest son, now forty-one, I’m trying not to interrupt or comment. I love to hear him talk … his reasoning, his logic. Caught in the spotlight on that day when you were three. Your head was unsupported by your neck. I wondered why you slept and would not wake and kept your eyes all weirdly shut. A tiny aeroplane, you clutched. He’s telling me that now he feels so strong, so confident. And life and stuff begin to make more sense. That day we learnt a grown-up game, we learnt to fight. That’s how it felt, to be caught out. That tiny aeroplane was held so tight. And now, he’s thinking back to days at school—“I never felt I understood what others seemed to know, without a second thought. I remember—An Inspector Calls. And mom, I know who wrote it, J.B. Priestly, right? And there it was, you know, that book. It’s half term and the teacher says— ‘When we come back, you will have read it! Right?’ And I was thinking—What the fuck? And are you mad? Because I had some films to watch, a backlog of some mags, a basketball, a drum kit, some research on the RAF. And then, she’d talk about revision? And I would wonder at this alien thing. All through half term that book was in my bag and mom, I knew the book was in my bag. The horror—that was in my bag.” They eased your clammy fingers from your prize, your hand was needed for the drip. Your left thumb, needed for your mouth. In hell we flew, all engines out and you, a cradle in an airman’s eye. Infected fuel, a blood-streaked sky, a spinal fear, we had to fly. I should have helped him with that dread within his bag, a life—just spent revising, unlearning failure, doubt. From child to man, I’ve watched his left thumb hovering now and then around his mouth. Paddle-shaped it wandered, thinking, in or out? But now, he’s timeless eloquence and reading Priestly? Are you mad? Your wingman warned me, ‘Losing height! Your flying boy won’t last the night … his runway, fading with the light.’ Of games, the ravages of Eva Smith and other frights. Had he gone first? I would have winged it, ditched it, grazing tops of forests in descending flight. Don't be caught out—meningitis—know the symptoms.

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Lois Hambleton is from the West Midlands, UK. Hambleton studied literary and cultural studies at the University of Warwick and education at the Birmingham City University. Hambledon's eldest son had a severe dose of bacterial meningitis when he was 2 years 11 months in 1982. Revision talks about how even now, 38 years later, he is still working through the effects of that trauma. Graphic by Gracia Chen.

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this cloistered time AUTHOR Lois Hambleton I’ve been remembering the time my youngest son lay there in A&E. A flattened face, the blood, just trickling from one ear. I’m sorry mom, he’d said. That cardboard bowl I’d taken from the nurse, that careful nurse. Looking back, she understood the simmering, the nerves at worst, that point when love became an unexploded thing a submachine gun on repeat, a thing, that thinks of lighting fires and starting fights out in the street. That careful nurse, she too could see the child upon the sheet my bearded child, the one that smoked and suckled bottled beer. He’s come off lucky mom, she’d said—he must have had an angel with him there. I remembered I was more in need of care than him with fractured bones a flattened face, a wounded jaw. The impact that dislodged teeth and so much more. He was at home for ages on repair and all his brothers, sisters, they controlled him with their healing, altruistic care. And now, he’s safe with me again. His job, that takes him all around the world on viral hold. My wiser, bearded, youngest son… a friendly man, a gastronome, a carnival that’s now without the streets and I have got to spend this cloistered time with all his fun, his acquiescence to that wordless voice. All that he knows of life, of death. I remember when he waited for his surgery, his patience, fearless acceptance as they kept on flying in from Basra, wounded soldiers on the helipad. An army major fixed his jaw, a metal plate and wired teeth. I fed him curry, through a straw.

Lois Hambleton is from the West Midlands, UK. Hambleton studied literary and cultural studies at the University of Warwick and education at the Birmingham City University. Hambledon's eldest son had a severe dose of bacterial meningitis when he was 2 years 11 months in 1982, Revision talks about how even now, 38 years later, he is still working through the effects of that trauma. Graphic by Gracia Chen.

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three acts AUTHOR A. Whittenberg

My children drowned. 16 months ago. 2 years ago. 6 years ago. My children, just as naked as now, just as submerged as back when we moved through the uncertainty of shelters, sustained by government crumbs, their father is not my husband. The voices talk. Pharmaceutical extractions attempt to mute. The voices shout. Are there sharks under the golden gate? I drive to the bridge. God is there, but he blinks, I strip my babies and listen to the smell of the bay. It fills me, the soft rays illuminate. I do it again. Once more. In your news reports, please include: I'm drowning too.

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life as a cliche AUTHOR A. Whittenberg So trite, my boss, stereotypically balding, puts his hands on my shoulder while I was processing words instead of word processing. Are you some kind of writer? he asks. When I don’t answer, his hands move up to play with my earrings, which dangle parallel to my cheekbones.Can you work late tonight? he wants to know. So, I had to fuck him. Certainly, I can’t support myself off my anemic symbolism, my flabby free verse. I need to keep my clerical skills employed. So the next morning, during dictation, in my embroidered white blouse, crisp to the point of snapping, I remain unaltered. Our eyes meet: his loaded with metaphor; mine without the least suggestion of allusion.

A. Whittenberg is a Philedelphia native who has a global perspective. Whittenberg loves reading about history and true crime. Whittenberg's other novels include Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Marine, Life is Fine, Tutored, and The Sane Asylum. Artwork by Celina Liu.

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deconstruction AUTHOR A. Whittenberg In the name of the Fa‐ ther, the Son, and the … oh, you know the rest… I’m Sister Ardeth Mar‐ garet Katherine D’Arby, and I have just been sentenced to three years. He knows what He’s doing. It will be three years well spent, that I assure you. Those souls locked away need my guidance, and it won’t be my first time on the inside, as they say. It won’t be so bad. I hope we will be able to stay together though — myself with the other Sisters Jacqueline and Carol. I pray that they won’t split us up. I’ve known them since I first en‐ tered the order. We were so young then, thinking we could save the world…

The judge had such harsh words for us. Such harsh words. He said we were “dan‐ gerously irresponsible”. To that Sister Carol said, “Nuclear war‐ fare is dangerously irresponsi‐ ble!” And that judge told her to Shut Up! Shut up, he said. Imag‐ ine such talk. Shut up, he said. Some government prop‐ erty should be destroyed. All the papers made such a big deal about the blood. We used our blood to make crosses on the missiles. I’ve been with the order for 20 years. I would do it again. And then we used a hammer. Pounding and pound‐ ing. If only we could turn it into salt.

A. Whittenberg is a Philedelphia native who has a global perspective. Whittenberg loves reading about history and true crime. Whittenberg's other novels include Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Marine, Life is Fine, Tutored, and The Sane Asylum.

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Artwork by Cezara Ene.


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#selfie2012 ARTWORK BY Anneliek Nieuwland I made this work to process the operation I went through by re‐ moving my uterus because of fibroids. The operation went ex‐ tremely wrong: while operating, they tore my artery, which led to massive internal bleeding. I spent a whole day in intensive care. A month afterwards when I received a follow-up from the gynecologist, they acted like nothing had happened. For me, it is still a mystery as to what exactly went wrong. The operation was in 2012, I made this artwork in 2019.

Anneliek Nieuwland is a contemporary artist from the Netherlands, creating her own world using textile forms such as sewing, crocheting, and knitting as carpentry, sewing, and painting. Growing up in a very loving, but conservative nest, there was no question of Nieuwland being educated in an art academy. After speaking to an artist that began attending an art academy at an older age, Nieuwland was inspired to study at the Nieuwe Akademie Utrecht five years ago. Her thesis covered women's sexuality.

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left legs AUTHOR Victoria Crawford Flying rat some people called her, One of dozens, pigeons waiting in the driveway trees for the evening seed scatter Leg broken, one female who showed up— careless, I figured she’d die soon And gave her extra food That left leg smacked me My left leg gimpy in a wheelchair after a stroke no walking, just a sunset seat with pigeons Her personality grew on me In daily struggles with that bent stick leg toes knotted into a clawed fist— I dragged along, behind a walker Clubfoot I named her, mocking us both, but a month found her returned to the flock’s dinner scrum functional Cane in my left hand, I stand throwing seeds, walking into knowing that what you do for the least, can be done for you

Victoria Crawford suffered from a stroke a few years ago and the recovery of walking, speaking, reading, and writing abilities took two years. While re-reading old books from her childhood, she learned to read again and put letters together into words instead of gibberish. She began writing poetry and using how-to books to help recover. Crawford has published in journals such as Please See Me, Kaleidoscope, Hektoen International, and other traditional magazines. Artwork by Cezara Ene.

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lumps in the trees AUTHOR Victoria Crawford & George W. Ross

Black lumps perch in oak trees, clumps flee through the brushy salal misliking our noisy approach. As George and I hike, I trip in an unseen hole How did you not see that hole? You’ve been missing a lot lately. my eyes make me a walking miracle— you should get checked Nagged by friends when I cannot see signs, they claim I shouldn’t drive and I know I cannot see the morning birds in the jacarandas, or discern the griffon flying in the clouds Those same tricksters plotted against me, running me off the road hope pushed me under the knife Fear is spectral, my ghost whispers "your eyes!" Trust led me accept the surgeon’s tools as steely friends to my milky eyes; I emerged into a bright world sharp and detailed, enthralled by curling clouds. I shouldn’t have waited so long: do it now, Victoria. Difficult to believe in vision restored, George’s leap of faith a trigger Cataracts, twenty minutes tops, claims Dr. Paradee, one eye, then the other, a team to help at every step. Slices of eye, so simple? Wild turkeys chuckle in the oak trees and white-tailed deer leap away. On a walk with my old friend, we watch the scurry of clouds, and I step over the hole with a new way of looking at things


the whos in whoville AUTHOR Victoria Crawford

Victoria Crawford suffered from a stroke a few years ago and the recovery of walking, speaking, reading, and writing abilities took two years. While re-reading old books from her childhood, she learned to read again and put letters together into words instead of gibberish. She began writing poetry and using how-to books to help recover. Crawford has published in journals such as Please See Me, Kaleidoscope, Hektoen International, and other traditional magazines. Artwork by Angel Cai

The Whos in Whoville gave me a young thrill with words like humdrum, flapdoodle, conundrum. with Nancy Drew, I solved a mystery or two. My nose stuck in a book, I was easy to overlook but on the written page lived friends at every age Until with one fell stroke, my speech and words were broke on a lesion in my brain, like yarn in a tangled skein. All my friends were lost, in darkness, everything tossed In Green Eggs and Ham I met again old Sam-I-am bidding me to try, try, try so words could be my ally In stroke’s fell depression, I revived at charming indiscretion with Elizabeth and Darcy’s love as he sweetly kissed her glove, tender understanding once again of words, pages, and pen As each early friend came to help me mend, and reconstruct myself, old books upon my shelf like Whos in Whoville sing for me to read once more



nervous system ARTIST Pawel Pacholec The nervous system is a very complex mechanism that is responsible for different emotions, feelings, moods and can regulate our overall health. It has the capacity to calm us down and suppress stress levels. There have been many studies that show that there cannot be healthy individuals when their nervous system is out of balance. This is probably the ďŹ rst place where we should look after for our health and wellbeing.

Pawel Pacholec works with collage technique putting much emphasis on composition and esthetic outcome where each element is placed carefully into position. He has been exhibited in the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania and Poland and been published in many different magazines. He has studied arts in the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk (Poland) and photography at the University of Arts in Poznan (Poland)

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terminal blue ARTISTSÂ Amy Basin & Mark Blickley

Amy Bassin and writer Mark Blickley are New York interdisiplinary artists who work together on text-based art collaborations and videos. Their text-based art book, 'Dream Streams', was recently published by Clare Songbird Publishing House.

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black coffee 143 mg AUTHOR Nozomi I was never one to get my thoughts across in one line, but you know that already. This makes book dedications at worst impossible and at best insufficient. It would take a few thousand books to deliver a single dedication to you; more than the half-empty bottles littering my bedroom floor, their contents saturating my veins. If only it was you I’d recklessly taken. This constant wish to bring you relief when I only make you sick — that’s in my head, right? “Write a novel.” He says so easily, without understanding the struggles since I’ve tasted this complex drug, savoured and rationed. Don’t throw me to the wolves, just in the water where Ophelia laid. Should we turn to the arts to quell these feelings of insanity? Keep me at arm’s length, I don’t care, just keep me. With a cure like this, there’s nothing left to sacrifice to madness. Just tell me what to write. You tell me 800 000 people suicide each year but there’s an ambiguous four that even I can’t decide on; your words hurt and I tell you those are real numbers. I’m too sick to be human. “You’re more similar to everyone else than you realize.” Yet I don’t dare read his words for fear of overdosing on intangible feelings of anxiety that will spur a moment of cruel clarity. Keep me in your Neverland, my Dreamland, let’s not wake up. No, it wasn’t a lie. I prefer your works to any book or bottle on my shelf. I’m breaking bad habits by writing about you. Let’s not make this a habit, though. Who will search for me within these buried words when you’re gone? We exist in separate realities bridged by the occasional demon, so find me, my demons. I no longer cross toxins; cleansed water drowns me and I scramble to drink distilled poison. “Do you think everyone thinks of you that much?” A lapse of judgement or a side effect of elixir qualities; there is a society in him that I want to follow. I don’t care what everyone thinks so long as you do. Not a stray sheep, just a black one. What a worthless venom, you’ve failed to kill me and I expose my neck—again. I’ve laced your drinks and lined your bed with belladonna and even though my lips are smeared with rose, it seems you only feel the thorns. What a fine punishment. Prescriptions labels and lousy dedications, oh how they fail to capture anything: May I write about you? Someone dear to Nozomi urged her to write her experiences and frustrations out but with the happiness that person brings, she finds it diffi‐ cult to feel in order to write. Describing this per‐ son as a elixir at the same time poison to her mental wellness, she vents her love-hate feel‐ ings in a characteristically inarticulate and hec‐ tic fashion akin to their personal correspondences.

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Artwork by Karthyayani Ramesh.



mural ARTIST Sabrina Sefton When I was in high school, I was part of a visual arts program which allowed me to learn about a variety of visual media and how to use them to convey thoughts, ideas, and messages. I had planned on taking a visual arts course in first year university, but since all classes have been moved to vir‐ tual settings, I found that art pro‐ duction courses couldn't be as immersive and engaging as I had hoped for. My passion for visual arts has shaped who I am today, leading me to pursue a career that allows me to explore creativity, critical-thinking skills, and handson experiences. As part of my high school curriculum, I started a coop placement at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital's simulation centre (SimSinai), which involved provid‐ ing simulated emergency environ‐ ments for medical professionals to practice and learn in. At the end of my 6-month placement, as a final project, I painted a mural for co-op students to hang their picture. I de‐ cided to paint a tree for the wall as it symbolizes growth and shows the significance of not only where you came from, but also where you plan on going.

Sabrina Sefton is a first-year student at McMaster University.


red zombia ARTWORK BY Alexander Limarev The stamps were designed and manufactured during the first wave of the pandemic.

Alexander Limarev is a freelance artist, poet, and photographer from Siberia, Russia. He has participated in more than 900 international projects and exhibitions, and his artworks are part of private and musum collections across 64 countries.

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lest we forget ARTIST O Yemi Tubi Lest we forget Our unlikely heroes As week by week by our doors’ steps With hands, pans and pots applauded As they answered the call of duty Gallantly like courageous armies, With People of commonwealth and foreign-born, With the common purpose to serve and protect, The Queen and the country they love so dear.

O Yemi Tubi is a Nigerian-born, US-trained artist, residing in the United Kingdom as an artist with a unique personal style. Most of his recent paintings were influenced by political and social upheaval of our world today, and the words of Renaissance artists. He does not artwork solely for decoration, but rather to evoke feelings.He is a member of the Fine Arts America, the Society of All Artists, the Association Embracing Realistic Art, the Circle Foundation for the Arts, World Citizen Artists, the Langley Arts Council, and the International Association of Visual Artists.

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womb ARTWORK BY Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier

Womb is a visual art photo‐ graph of what was originally an ice sculpture of a human figure. The ice sculpture has been lay‐ ered with other photographs I have taken, to create this end result.

Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier is an Indige‐ nous visual artist, writer and photographer. Her photographic art has landed on the covers of Pretty Owl Poetry, Wild Musette, Arachnee Press, Nebo, Existere Journal of Art and Litera‐ ture, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Gigantic Se‐ quins, Crack the Spine, Ottawa Arts Journal and others. Karen presently designs custom face masks using her visual art.

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your hand in mine AUTHOR Michelle Spencer It's eleven o'clock, and I'm going to a meeting when the phone rings. My first thought is, "Let it go to voicemail," but for some reason, I answer it. I am met with an ominous silence and the call disconnects. Seconds later, the phone begins to ring, so I glance to check the number -- it is the same as before, so I answer it once more. A woman's voice, faint and fragile, whimpers, "Please help me." On the surface, her voice is breathless and frail. Underneath, her voice was screaming and spi‐ raling, close to the point of break‐ ing, like a piece of twine stretched so far with only a single strand holding it together. The woman continues, "I just received a call from the hospi‐ tal. My mother was in a car acci‐ dent; she was flown to your trauma center. The doctors said her injuries are substantial, she probably will not make it, and I should get there as soon as possi‐ ble. She is 87 years old. She lives an hour away from me. She's all alone and probably frightened, in pain, and oh my God, she’s all alone! Please help me!" This woman’s world just caved in, yet my mind immediately went to my family; we are only hu‐ man. We kiss our loved ones goodbye in the morning, but sometimes, when caught in a rush, there is only time for a text. It is these circumstances that re‐ mind us of just how fragile our world is. Life as we know it can go from full to barren in minutes, and

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we must simply watch it happen. I ask the caller for her name, and she replies, “My name is Marge.” I tell her to breathe and I ask if she has someone to bring her to the hospital; her safety is a concern as well. She explains that her daughter will be arriving shortly to take her to the hospital; they should be here within an hour and a half. Marge begins to sob, "You don't understand, my mother, her name is Ann, is all alone. She just called me before she left to go grocery shopping. What do I do? What happens if I don't make it there in time and she dies… all alone? Will I be able to see her if she passes before I get there? I can't let her go through this all alone; I need to be there. I need to see her, to tell her it's going to be ok, to tell her that I love her." I ask Marge if she prays, she tells me yes, they are Catholic. I ask if she has a Rosary and I in‐ struct her to bring it with her and pray with it on the car ride to the hospital. I can only imagine that the hour and a half ride will feel like twelve to Marge, and I realized that she could benefit from some‐ thing to focus on until she arrives. "Marge, breathe, drive safely, and when you get here, go to the Emer‐ gency Room and ask for me. I will take care of you and make sure that you are able to see your mother and be with her." Our hospital has a program called NODA (No One Dies Alone), which has volunteers that are trained to be present with people

who are at the end of their life. The program was founded at Sa‐ cred Heart Medical Center by criti‐ cal care nurse Sandra Clarke in 2001. Her philosophy was simple, "No one is born alone, and in the best of circumstances, no one dies alone." I let the Emergency Room know that the family is on their way, as well as a NODA volunteer, and ask them not to call the morgue to remove the body until the family leaves. The impact of the accident had been too much for this woman's body to fight. Her heart‐ beat returns briefly, then slips away swiftly like the water that trickles onto the beach, then gets ripped back into the throat of the ocean. In the hour and a half it took Marge to arrive, the team had worked feverishly to resuscitate her to no avail, and soon she faded, peacefully with the grace of a beautiful ballad coming to a close. I head down to the Emer‐ gency Room to sit with the patient once the volunteer has left. The family would be arriving shortly. I feel this family would take solace in knowing their loved one was never left alone. She lay there peaceful as if she was sleeping, her arm


stretched to the side of the bed, hand open. I took her hand in mine, sat in the chair next to the bed, and imagined what her day was like just three hours before the accident. Was she shopping for dinner for the family? Was she picking up creamer for her morn‐ ing coffee? Or perhaps it was a treat for the grandkids. She lay in this hospital bed, life quickly slip‐ ping away. Soon she will be with the angels. What Ann was going to do for the rest of the day had she not met tragedy will never be known. In a mere few minutes she will leave this earth and the lives of the people in her world will never be the same. The nurse rouses me from my thoughts to let me know the family has arrived, and I begin to make my way to the entrance. As I get closer, Marge looks up. She must have sensed I was the voice on the other end of the phone ear‐ lier, as she comes running to‐ wards me. In a panicked voice, she asks, "Am I too late? Is she still alive? Please, you have to tell me." All I could do is put my arm around her and say, "Come, let's go see mom." Two days later, Marge came to my office, her eyes still red and swollen from the tears of the past few days. She smiled, thanked me, and handed me a notecard that the volunteer left. In‐ side was written: Please accept my sincere sympathy with the passing of your loved one. It was both an honor and a privilege to be with them dur‐ ing the end of their life’s journey here on earth. Your mother was in and out of consciousness and not in pain. The doctors were working

on her and reassuring her con‐ stantly that you were on your way. They made sure she was comfort‐ able. The nurses remained by her bedside to attend to her needs. They provided her with heated blankets, fixed her pillow, and soothed her. At one point, your mother moved her arm to the side of the bed and opened her hand, and I met hers with mine and never let go. She crossed over about a half an hour later, peacefully, our hands still intertwined in the circle of life. It was an honor to be able to be present with your mother at this time; please know your loved one did not leave this world alone. You and your family are in our hearts and thoughts during this difficult time.

are moments like this when you realize there are no apps or virtual video ability that can fill this gap. Your hand in mine, two pulses beating, two hearts connecting. Never underestimate the power of another human's presence.

Peacefully, Sandy Marge looked at me and said, "I took your advice and brought my Rosary with me for the drive, except instead of praying, I ripped it apart in anger. In that in‐ stant, I was mad: mad at myself for not being there for my mother, mad at God for letting this happen, mad that my daughter was driving in my place, mad that I could not take the wheel and plow into a tree in order to die and be with my mother. This kind volunteer made the unimaginable more bearable. Knowing that my mother was not alone while she took her last breath gave me the strength to go on." We live in a world full of technology created for our pro‐ ductivity, to keep us connected through social media, to have news at our fingertips to keep a pulse on global happenings. There

Michelle Spencer works in a hospital, and has four beautiful children and a wonderful husband. Spencer enjoys writing as it is cathartic, and enjoys sewing. Artwork by David Zhao.

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corona hat PROJECT BY Hakan Lidbo

The Corona Hat helps you keep your distance from your fellow citizens during a pandemic. Es‐ pecially useful in Sweden where there has been no total lock down, but the citizens them‐ selves have had to be responsi‐ ble for keeping social distance. The hat is built from a set of spare car parking sensors, a battery pack from a robot vac‐ uum cleaner and a busted globe. Whenever someone is 1.5 metres or closer, the hat beeps. The closer other citizens get, the faster it beeps.

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Hakan Lidbo founded the Rumtiden Idea Lab in Stockholm Sweden, where his team explore the intersection between new art forms, science, and society. Following a career in electronic music with more than 350 records released within numerous genres, he is now exploring new ideas with the same inexhaustible energy in the fields of interactive art, games, innova‐ tions, architecture, society, media, events, and robotics.


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notes

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notes

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ISSN 2563-7274 (Print) ISSN 2563-7282 (Online) published Winter 2020 themusemcmaster.ca