St. Philipâ€™s College Volume 6, Issue 2 Fall 2017
Tiger P.A.W.S. Personal Academic Writing Space St. Philip’s College Volume 6, Issue 2 Fall 2017
Cover Art: Festive by Juan Crispin Photograph Cover Design: Jaime Nicholson Tiger P.A.W.S. is a student publication consisting of prose, poetry, art, and photography created by currently enrolled St. Philip’s College students. The student editorial staff reviews dozens of submissions, selects works to be published, and creates the journal layout each fall and spring semester. The selected works may not reflect the attitudes or opinions of St. Philip’s College or the Department of Communications and Learning. 3
Acknowledgments The Tiger PAWS staff wishes to thank the following: Dr. Erick Akins—Title III Director, Title III Grant Management Ty Williams—Chair, Communications & Learning Dr. Audrey Mosley—Faculty, Communications & Learning Lauri Humberson—Faculty, Communications & Learning Velia De La Rosa—Administrative Services Specialist, Communications & Learning Hope Center Church The UPS Store Department of Communications & Learning St. Philip’s College Public Relations Department
©2017 St. Philip’s College
Selections for Tiger PAWS are printed with the permission of the authors and artists cited. Copyright reverts to authors and artists immediately after publication. 4
Editorial Staff Student Staff:
Dr. Karen Cunningham
San Juan San Miguel
Saren Perales Jacob Perez Reshonna Rifenbury
Submissions for the next edition of Tiger PAWS in Spring 2018 will be accepted through March 9, 2018. Enrolled SPC students are encouraged to submit essays, short stories, poetry, artwork, and/or photography. 5
Table of Contents Festive — Juan Crispin…………………………………………....………...…………... Cover Our Judges……………………………………………………………...……...……………....… 8 “Bike Lesson to Love” — Jacob Perez…………………………………………… 9 What Is That? — Sergio Santibanez.……...…..……………………….………….. 11 “Monophobia” — Jasmine Fleming.…………………...……………………….. 12 “Soul Food” — Elisa Zamudio.…..………………………………………………..… 13 Distant —Hector Barbosa ..…………………...………………………..……………... 15 “Number 22/22” — Richard Martinez ……...………..…………………….. 16 Eye Opener — Saadia Abdi .………………....………………......……………………. 17 “A Life Reshaped” — Megan Jendrusch.…...................................... 18 It Moves On — Hector Barbosa……..……….…………………………….…………. 20 “Paralyzed” — Kennedy Parkman …………………...….………..….….……... 21 Send Me off into Space — Vanessa Perez…..………...……..………………..….. 23 “Music, Bread, and Breathing through Your Nose” — Lilianna Esquivel ……………………………………………………..... 24 Illusion — Saadia Abdi…………………...………..……...………..…………………... 26 Country Rooster — Diane Wilson………………………………………...…………. 28 Let Her Bloom — Vanessa Perez…………………..……………..………...……….. 29 “Sunset” — Tikisha Franklin……..……………..………………….………………. 30 Waterfall, Chihuahua, Mexico — Sarahi Perez….……………..………………. 31 “Copn versus the Judred” — Logan Bynum....…………………..…..…… 32 Stop and Smell the Razors — Jacob Oswalt……………..…………………..…... 34 “It’s Cold in Camelot — Amaris Watje...….......…………………………… 35 Around the End — Courteney Petravage............................................. 37 “Constellation Lupus (The Wolf)” — Faith McGinty……………... 38 Brother’s Protection — Reshonna Rifenbury……………...………………….. 39 “Hera’s Sonnet” — Serena Heras….……….……….……………………………... 40 Osbe — Vanessa Perez…....…………….………………………………...………………. 41 Kai the Koi — Eileen Lisa Munoz.…………...…………………….………...……. 42 6
Table of Contents “Rain” — Tikisha Franklin……………………………………………………………… 43 Among the Flowers — Kara Lazzaretti.…………………………………………..... 44 “Learning through Entomology” — Megan Kopecki…..………….... 43 Dragon’s Eye — Reshonna Rifenbury….……………………………………….... 47 “The Raging Inferno” — Robert Brady………………………………………… 48 Rockport Strong — Samantha Camacho...…..………………….……………... 50 “Uncovering the Soldier Within” — Raquel Munoz....……….…... 51 Yellow Bliss — Raquel Lopez…………………………....………….….…………..... 54 We Are All Wild Flowers — Sergio Santibanez……………………………….. 55 “Heart Write” — Jeremy Santibanez..…………….……………..……..….... 56 “Marianna Issalee King” — Mariah Newton.………..……………….….. 57 “Next Step in My Mind” — Anastacia Casarez.…...….………………. 58 “Remembering an Event” — Tina Romane……....………….…...………. 59 “Opened Closed Eyes” — Daniel Enrique Becerra……..…………….. 61 “Ice Cream” — Kara Lazzaretti……………….…………………………………... 62 Dive In — Vanessa Perez………………………………………………………………….. 63 “Winter’s Warmth” — Serena Heras………….………….…………….……… 64 The Mountains of the "White" City Ashgabat - Amina Jumamyradova 65 Blossoming Mind — Jocelyn Flores…………….……..…………………..…..……. 66 “My First Teacher” — Janis Sanchez………...………………………………... 67 Two Kinds of People — Denise Astran.………………………..…………………. 69 “The Foreigner Who Taught Me Much” - Michael Chembars.. 70 “Pink and Pay” — Brittanie Salazar…………..…………………………………. 72 85 VIN — Juan Crispin……………...……………………………………………………. 73 Tiger’s Paw — Ricki Nicole Ramirez...…………………………………………… 74
Our Judges Prose: San Juan San Miguel, MA, is the Coordinator of the Rose R. Thomas Writing Center at St. Philip’s College. He is also an Adjunct Instructor in the Communications and Learning Department. He has a Master’s Degree in English Literature from UTSA and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from St. Mary’s University. He enjoys traveling, cooking (and eating,) cycling, reading and writing but most of all basketball! He is currently in pursuit of his lifelong ambition to be an NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Coach.
Poetry: Marissa Ramirez, MA, has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Latin American Studies from Oberlin College and a Master of Arts Degree in English from the University of Texas, San Antonio. Before embarking on a career as an English instructor, Ramirez worked as an event organizer with a local cultural arts organization. She has a seven-year-old son, and together they love to travel the world, eat ice cream, and sleep under the stars. Art & Photography: Mitchell Miranda, MA, is an awardwinning artist and photographer and is a graduate of St. Philip’s College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and a Bachelor of Science in Cultural Anthropology from Baylor University; he received a Master’s Degree in Middle Eastern & Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology from University College London’s Institute of Archaeology and is currently pursuing a PhD at Reading University in England. His artwork has been exhibited around the state, and he has been named a Texas Emerging Artist. When abroad, he FaceTimes his pet gecko, Little Man.
“Bike Lesson to Love” By Jacob Perez
There are so many different things you can learn in school, but what can you learn outside of school? Outside of school, everybody learns different activities and skills that could include cooking, cars, sports, swimming, playing pool, dancing, and more. An activity I learned outside of school was how to ride a bicycle. I never rode a bike with training wheels; I went straight into two-wheelers. I can still remember it as if it happened yesterday. I was nine years old when I learned how to ride a bike for the first time. The day I learned to ride my bike was such a funny story; it’s easy for me to remember. For most nine-year-old kids, riding a bike for the first time is thrilling and painful. For me, this experience was more painful than I expected. Not only did I have a huge crush on a childhood friend at my apartment complex, but also this secret girlfriend taught me how to ride a bike. Her name was Abbygail, and we had been friends for some time. She would always ride her bike around the parking lot. As I sat on the curb watching her, it painfully reminded me that I did not know how to ride. One day she said, "You're going to learn how to ride a bike today, and I'm making sure of it." Abbygail and I went to the community park down the street after school. I’m riding in the back as she is driving. Her bike was bright pink with flowers on it, not what I would call a masculine bike, but it’s all I had to use. We arrived and Abbygail calmly said, “Jake sit on my bike, put your feet on the pedals, and start pedaling slowly.” She held the rear of the seat and spoke to me while I was pedaling. It took courage to allow her to teach me since I was extremely nervous, not because it was my first time learning to ride a bicycle but because I was trying not to fall and embarrass myself in front of this cutie. She was my first crush; I had to impress her. The road on which I was practicing was smooth, no bumps that could make me fall. She told me that I was not going to fall because she would be running right behind me. I remembered we were talking 9
about her birthday coming up and what her parents were planning for her. After a couple minutes, I did not hear her anymore. When I looked back, I saw her except she was about twenty yards away from where I was and smiling. I think Abbygail thought it was a good idea to let go without me knowing. Well, it wasn't. I was scared to death; my mind went blank. I forgot how to use the brakes; I lost control and crashed into a tree. Abbygail ran over and asked if I was okay. She then said she let go because she couldn't keep up anymore. I wanted to cry not only because I was in pain, but I was extremely embarrassed. But Abbygail laughed, not making fun of me but sort of laughing with me. She helped me up, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and said, "Let’s practice some more.” I practiced for a couple more hours, and I was getting better. I did, however, fall a few more times but got back up and shook it off. Abbygail said not to give up. Soon I was able to pedal some distance without falling on my face. We left the park, came home, and our friendship was better than ever. I think she liked me back; I never did find out though. A few days later her dad gave me his old bike; it was neon-red. I couldn't believe it was mine. I fell in love with it. This new bike gave me a sense of freedom just as a car would. I took more care of that bike than I did myself. I replaced all the worn cables, oiled all necessary parts, aligned the brakes, and so on. This experience taught me a great life lesson. Not only did I learn how to ride a bike, I learned much more. Freedom and bravery are two things I took away from this experience. I gained a sense of independence by learning how to ride a bicycle and courage to allow my childhood crush to teach me something for the first time. Knowledge is knowledge, whether it’s life lessons or academic; both are equally important in life.
What Is That? By Sergio Santibanez
â€œMonophobiaâ€? By Jasmine Fleming I acknowledge that I am not friendless I perceive this exceedingly well This continuous feeling is endless And sometimes my thoughts make me want to yell At night I lay solely in deep tension It is when my distress gets me most Anxiety consumes my attention Around my friends I feel like a complete ghost Having no clue why I fear all of this Or why my fear is constantly with me Most people believe that I am bliss Truly I am not which they cannot see This fear has depressed me for a long time Fearing loneliness feels much like a crime
“Soul Food” By Elisa Zamudio “Sell my soul, huh?” The girl rolls her eyes and takes a drag of her cigarette. She holds the stick in her mouth and uses her free hand to brush her blue braids behind her back. Her friend snorts. She’s smaller than Blue Braids. Short skirt, oversized hoodie, pixie cut. Those stupid John Lennon type glasses. Yup. Hipsters. Easy targets. I laugh. “Yeah. Why not?” I lean against the side of the house and can feel the music pulsating through the walls. “ You guys don’t actually believe in that stuff do you? So what’s the problem?” We’re all standing outside. Someone decided to have a party, so here I am. Me, a thousandyear-old demon and two girls who probably couldn’t get into a bar. Weak. Blue Braids laughs. “Obviously, you do. Why else would you ask?” This might be a little harder than I thought. Usually, at this point, the kids get on with the blood oath in an effort to prove me wrong. Nah, they don’t believe in souls or heaven or hell or any of those dumb stories. Atheism is pretty big right now. It works out for me. I shrug. Can’t be too eager. Gotta let them come to me. “Barely. It’s just an idea.” “Well, it’s a stupid one,” Hoodie chimes in. She shivers. I guess it’s cold outside, but feeling things like the weather is a human thing. Not really mine. “Sorry. Jae is religious,” Blue Braids says as she flicks the ashes into the dirt. “Her dad is hardcore church goer, so y’know. You’re probably offending her.” Damn. So Hoodie is out. Good girls aren’t really my demographic. Hoodie narrows her eyes. “Screw you, Leah. My dad and I are two different people.” Okay, so Hoodie is back in. Can always count on daddy issues. “Well, isn’t being dead inside a thing now? Why not soulless too?” I give Hoodie a glance. “If you believe in that sort of thing.” I pluck the cigarette from Blue Braids and take a drag. Drugs do very little for me. The closest I can get to any sort of high is collecting souls. And I want theirs. “I’m down. You can have my soul if you’ll shut up about it already. 13
Not like they’re real or anything.” Blue Braids touches her nose piercing, then turns to me. “ So what do I do? Write ‘SOUL’ on a piece of paper or something?” “Blood oath,” I say coolly. “Blood oath?” She blinks fast. “That’s how people get herpes.” I chuckle. “I can think of another way. Don’t tell me you’re backing out?” She gives me a stony look. “Let’s just get this over with.” My thoughts exactly. I pull my small black blade from my jacket pocket. I try not to show it, but I’m almost drooling. Hoodie backs away. “Yeah, this is really weird. I don’t think guys with knives are people we should be talking to, especially at one in the morning.” “You don’t have to be here, Jae. Just go back inside if it’s too scary for you,” Blue Braids sighs. I like her. “You can leave if you want,” I say. I’d rather have two souls, but Hoodie is kind of soul-blocking me right now. One is better than none. Hoodie’s face scrunches up, and she storms inside. Bye. Blue Braids holds her arm out. I take the blade and make a small incision in her palm. She winces but quickly puts her poker face back on. I slash mine. Black ooze drips out. Almost looks like human blood. She doesn’t notice. I take her hand into mine and smile down at her. She looks up at me with a smirk. “So what now? Can I not go into churches anymore? Can’t see my reflection? Am I gonna be haunted by ghosts?” She laughs, completely unaware of the damage she's done. I laugh with her. “ Nah, the ground just swallows you into the depths of hell.” We both laugh louder. Suddenly, the dirt beneath us begins to shift. I step back. The earth beneath Blue Braids rips open to reveal a fiery inferno. I see her eyes widen in terror before she falls, her screams cut off by the thousands of charred arms grabbing at her, some covering her mouth, pulling her further and further down. The ground closes up. It’s quiet again except for the sounds of the party raging inside. It’s like nothing even happened. I feel the euphoric feeling of her soul entering my body as I walk along the darkened street away from the house. I guess I should feel bad, but I’m a demon. Not really what we’re known for.
Distant By Hector Barbosa
“Number 22/22” By Richard Martinez And the angel took his stand in the road against his adversary, Wrapped in fire, burnings wings, holding out his sword to stop the hearts of evil men And the rain came down, And ran through the street, Into the gutters and drains, And the stray dog stopped and stared. And sucked up his tongue and sat in humility, To the holy enforcer who did his master’s bidding, and obeyed. Just as he obeyed. Without question. And the homeless man cursed the dog and pulled on the molded rope Whipping the dog with his tongue and beating him with his fist. But the dog sat And held fast, For the man was only man, And blind to the ways of the Infinite. And the dog said, “Leave this one to me. Let me lead him through this concrete desert.” And the angel answered in the voice of his Master, “Now is not the time for deals. Now is the time for debts. And a debt to my Master is always paid…” But the dog held fast. And said again, “Leave this one to me. Because I love him. He is my Master, And I go where he goes. His debts are mine. His fate is mine. And his fight is mine. Because his is my master. And I Love him.” And the angel understood Love. Because the angel Loved his Master. But the angel said, “My Master is owed. And it’s too late,” The angel said, “Too late for love.” And the angel obeyed. And stopped the hearts of the man and beast. And the two souls came before the Infinite to be Judged. And God let them pass. Because it’s never too late for Love. 16
Eye Opener By Saadia Abdi
“A Life Reshaped” By Megan Jendrusch Coach Malone would end up being the lighthouse that would guide me through the storm. I never knew someone could affect me so drastically. This man would impact my entire life much like a train impacting a car. I never knew what life had in store for me. At first, one would think he or she has life all planned out until something unexpected happens, and it falls apart. Inspiration is defined as the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. When my education suffered due to a tragedy in my life, my teacher became one of my greatest inspirations not only in the classroom but in life. First and foremost, education was not something to take lightly in my household. Growing up, I had one job, and that was school to perform at a high level. My father would make sure he knew all my teachers and talked to them often. Failure was not an option for me or my siblings. He wanted what was best for me and did not want me to have to work as hard as he did. My father worked so hard and was like a ghost in our home. Most days we probably would not see him; he did this all to provide a roof over our heads. He often said, “This is what happens when you do not take your education seriously.” It is no mystery why my education was so important to me. It was instilled in me from a very young age. Education was built up high on a pedestal, and I never thought anything could bring it crumbling down. However, one day my priorities would be thrown to the wind. I was a senior in high-school who, like most, was excited graduation was fast approaching. I had no idea that the last semester would be the hardest of my life. January 12, 2007, was a cold and dreary winter day. I walked through the halls of school all day with an uneasy feeling hanging over me. I could not seem to shake it no matter what I did. Later that day, I went to work at Bill Miller’s. Since I had arrived for my shift early, I figured I would give my mother a call. After a few failed attempts, I began to panic. Missing phone calls was very normal for my mom, but for some reason this instance bothered me. After clocking in to start my shift, my phone began ringing continuously, and I suddenly felt a shiver crawl up my spine. My stepfather was on the other end, and by the way he spoke, he sounded like he was in distress. He told me my ten-year-old sister had been mauled by a pit bull behind the house. Everything around me vanished; I could barely catch my breath. I was no longer capable of interpreting the world around me. Five minutes from the hospital, I got another phone call. I could barely make out the words on the other end of the phone. My heart seemed to have stopped as I heard through the sobs, “Do not hurry. She is gone.” After hearing these 18
words, I immediately felt sick, and all I could seem to do was slam my fists into the dashboard. Admittedly, graduation and continuing to spend my time on homework seemed pointless. I was lost in the shadows with no way out. I did not think it was possible for another person to understand my pain. Coach Malone, my government teacher, took a special interest in my situation. He kept trying to get me to open-up and realize that my life was not over. No matter how much I wanted to be left alone, he never gave up. I continued down a selfdestructive path. I would not turn in papers, started sleeping in class, and hung out with a bad crowd. One day he finally got through to me enough that I agreed to sit down and talk. This conversation was a turning point in my life; it helped me start to see meaning in life again. He opened up to me and explained that he had suffered loss as well. Before he became a teacher, his wife was pregnant. He then told me that this was their only chance at a child after many failed attempts. Months into the pregnancy, he was told they would have to make a terrible choice. The doctor told him and his wife that they needed to abort the baby. The pregnancy had become too high of a risk, and if they did not abort, his wife and the baby would both die. Tears filled my eyes as I began to realize other people did understand my pain. He told me that I was too bright to let my future go to waste. He asked me what my sister would want, and I knew she would want me to move on and be happy. The last thing I asked was how he found the strength to go forward. The response he gave to me was like a ray of sunlight shining through the darkest of storms. Coach Malone told me, â€œWhen it gets too hard to look forward, look up.â€? As a result, I began to take control of my life again. I started doing my work and was determined to graduate with the rest of my class. Finishing the last few months of my senior year was not easy, and sometimes the sorrow was still too much to bear. When I felt like I was slipping back into that dark place, Coach Malone was always there. He urged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other to reach my goals. Months later I walked the stage with my fellow classmates. The last time I saw him was through a sea of people. He simply smiled and pointed up towards the sky. I knew this was his way of telling me remember when life gets too hard, look up. In conclusion, this teacher inspired me to continue forward with not only my education but also my life. To this day I think of him fondly and remember everything he taught me. I know in the darkest of nights the light will eventually shine through. It has been over ten years since I from high school, but the lessons I learned still hold true today. Now, after discontinuing my pursuit of higher education eight years ago, I am back in school and pursuing my dream of becoming a pediatric nurse. I want to do this so I can aspire to help people and hopefully prevent someone from going through what I did. I will use his teachings whenever I start to think I cannot do this. When life gets too hard, I will look up. Coach Malone was not just my teacher; he turned out to be my hero. 19
It Moves On By Hector Barbosa
“Paralyzed” By Kennedy Parkman It was a Sunday night as I awoke to the blaring music coming from the living room. As I lay awake in my room staring at my Marilyn Monroe poster, I felt isolated and trapped in a place I that I should have been able to call home. The woman who I called my mother for fifteen years was no longer a significant role model in my life. Her boyfriend, an older, immoral man, had been an unwanted presence in my house for longer than I felt he was welcome. His sequential actions had destroyed my dignity. After being trapped in my room for hours in fear, I attempted to break free. As I walked out into the living room, I saw him standing there alone in the doorway, undressed down to his undergarments. He stood tall while looking at me with a grin from ear to ear. I stood shaking, vulnerable in his path. He followed me as I moved away from him towards the living room couch. I could still feel the pressure of the grip on my leg from weeks before. As I sat, I felt the cold hand reach for my neck to pull me in closer. Oh, the disgust and humility I felt! I wanted to be dreaming, but instead I was living in a nightmare. I felt pressure in my chest as I screamed for help. My mother ran out of the room, sloppy, unable to comprehend the matter of the situation. I felt wet drops fall from my eyes onto my lap, and I felt severe pain in my head. I didn’t know if my mother was ignorant of the situation or if she just didn’t care that I was being subjected to this man—this stranger, a man who not only tortured me but also greatly disrespected my mother in doing so. I pleaded for her help yet received no response. I felt powerless. Breaking from the vulgar grasp, I ran to my room and slammed the door shut, locking it behind me. As I reached for my phone, I knew that I needed to remove myself from the situation and quickly. Though at first I didn’t know whom to call, it became clear that the matter at hand was serious. I curled up onto my bed as I began to whisper into the phone. I could hear banging on my door as my heart began to throb, and sweat seemed to pour out of my body. I stared out the window but couldn’t identify anything in the distance. The screaming in the background faded, and my own thoughts took over. Could I ever love my mother again for what she had or had not done? Would this man 21
finally become permanently removed from my life? Most importantly, how long would it be before I felt safe again? I wasn’t sure until I saw the flashing lights moving through the darkness. I heard deafening pounding at the front door and came out of my room when I saw two men dressed in blue bolting into the house. They came toward me and grasped my arm as I melted in sorrow. I didn’t know how to react to or answer questions from the men of authority while the vile “man” stood closely by me. I took one last look at him and noticed that he didn’t stand as tall as I had last remembered. His head bent downward towards the ground and shook in denial. I turned away and followed the men. I could hear the slurred words of my mom echoing my name in my direction, but I continued to move towards the lights without taking a single glance back. As I entered the vehicle, multiple thoughts crossed through my mind. I was so exasperated and hurt. Why am I the one being taken away? I felt as though I were the criminal. Could I have been the one at fault? I felt shameful and sick to my stomach as I questioned myself. The question I asked myself the most was, did my mother still love me? Did I still love her? My mind was racing so rapidly with these thoughts that I didn’t realize we had reached the station. The men dialed my father to come pick me up. My only hope was that he would be reassuring, empathetic, and most of all loving through all the lunacy. As I sat there waiting, I watched the clock tick as it felt like hours before he arrived. When he walked through the double doors, he looked at me as if I were an inconvenience. At that point in time, his expression was the least of my concerns. I collected my belongings, and we exited the building. I was ready to wake up.
Send Me off into Space By Vanessa Perez
“Music, Bread, and Breathing through Your Nose” By Lilianna Esquivel I was nine, suffering from a multitude of mental disorders and not being able to sleep. I had been taught breathing exercises, given medication, and seen plenty of people who couldn’t help me, stuck in therapists’ offices and continuously talking about what I feel, what I don’t feel, and why I feel it. I was talking about it without having actually said anything in my designated allotted hour. Leia Echoberger was a wild anomaly and had the curliest hair. She was an unofficial official social worker in-training. Her methods were, to put it plainly, boisterously eccentric. She had taken to bringing in art, music, and books to our sessions. We always sat in her office, which smelled of Thanksgiving season and fall leaves. I had been recounting a dream to her that seemed to bleed into reality. “I don’t even know if I’m awake now.” I was seventeen, preparing to graduate into a world where no one really has a choice in whether he or she gets to participate, reality being, you get tossed into the pool whether you know how to swim or not. “Try floating first.” She smiled, never telling me to rein in my bitter optimistic behavior. She always had an easy natured smile, never condescending or condemning. “Or use a lifesaver, a pool noodle, if you will. ” Mine was a portable CD player, The Smiths, cold winter air, and bike riding. Let it be known, that while I still can’t ride a bike, I love bike riding. I could stand on the back pegs, let the adrenaline raise my heartbeat, and make the excitement bubble up to a bright yellow color. My cousin Mark was my driver. He was a gentle giant, a protector and martyr. He was my partner-in-crime who taught me to protect myself in places where he could not go—and a pain in the ass. My pool noodle was a memory of me and him when we were still young rebels. It was 3:29 in the morning, and the roads were empty. My cousin had been living with us for a while; his dad was working all the time and 24
never making it home. He was older in ways he hadn’t needed to be at such a young age. I had woken from another nightmare, preparing for another sleepless night. Back then, they seemed to roll into each other continuously. I sat awake, staring at the cracks in the ceiling until he felt that I was awake, which never took long. He wordlessly stood up, tugging on my hand. I followed suit, slipping on my boots as he tied on his dirty Converse. The air was colder than I’d thought, but the thought of going back to sleep wasn’t an option. Our bike was an old rusted over thing that we’d left in the rain too many times. It was the only bike that we owned that had back pegs. He tugged it out of the haphazard pile of bikes that we’d thrown together out into the street. It was strangely still, semi-light outside, and the smell of bread flooded my nose, the smoke from the factory billowing into the cold air. Mark owned a portable CD player before anyone in the house, which meant that I also had a portable CD player before anyone in the house. It had been a gift from his dad; it was his way of saying, “Sorry, I forgot about you. Again.” The music was lifted, but he said it was okay because it was for a good cause. My mother had worked at a cellphone repair store with the only computers we had ever seen. He had burned a CD with only one song on it, so it’d continuously repeat itself. “Asleep” by The Smiths played through foamy headphones while we rode in the middle of a dead, busy street. “Is it loud enough?” He looked up at me. I had trouble hearing him, but that was good. I nodded my head, and he nodded back. The road was empty, and the air was still yet felt like ice against my bare skin. We should've gotten our jackets, but it didn't matter now. Morrissey's voice sliced through the silence and filled every corner of my head, erasing every trace of panic and bitterness. I was hanging onto his shoulders, and I let my head hang back, staring up at the mixtures of blues, purples, and pinks that filtered the sky. It was the perfect memory. “Your perfect floatie.” Leia smiled. I don’t need to know how to ride the bike; I just need my back pegs to keep me afloat. 25
Illusion By Saadia Abdi
“I Am Afraid to Go to Sleep” By Richard Martinez I’m afraid to go to sleep, In the bitter, dark of deep A Thing is lurking, trying to keep Me there forever; it’s there to seek My mind a-twisted, panicking Sweating, shaking, chattering. I grind my jaw, and the Mares of Night Show me visionings of broken teeth, Only bones, and ivory, Shattered against themselves. I drank my blood, Cut with my spit, And didn’t make it In time to vomit. Everything is all I’ve tried. “Consult a doctor,” the labels read, “If you have thoughts of suicide.” I lay awake, in the silent Watches of my bedroom keep, Staring at the blinding darkness, And the silence that will deafen me. And in the bitter, dark of deep I’m still afraid to go to sleep
Country Rooster By Diane Wilson
Let Her Bloom By Vanessa Perez
â€œSunsetâ€? By Tikisha Franklin Over the hill, the sun lowers into the blissful night Creating shadows for the howling moon For his bright light is gone but not forgotten The still night carries his restful soul It sleeps until dawn, hidden in the shadows on the night As the wind blows, leaves sweep in the night The world waits for his bright light to end the lonely night For his grateful soul breathes life into the land When morning approaches, the world rises Seeking his morning praise to wake the restful sleepers Bounded by its endless beauty It wakes from its slumber For the sun is mightier than the sword The sun fires the gun, waking the earth from its endless sleep Wiping the darkness away into everlasting light
Waterfall, Chihuahua, Mexico By Sarahi Perez
“Copn versus the Judred” By Logan Bynum As I woke up, the sun shone through the fog covered trees. I was in an oak forest that harbored the cave of a judred. Judreds were enormous horse-sized firefly-like beasts that shot poisonous acid from a sac in their mouth as one of their defenses. This one had been terrorizing a local village, and the villagers were willing to pay quite a nice price for us to take this one down. I turned to my compatriots. We were a rag-tag band of adventurers. But were running low on supplies, and because of that, we needed to get some relatively easy cash. Our band was composed of San, a skilled crossbowman and mace wielder; Matoke, a silent man who was good with a knife and didn’t ever give you a straight answer; Shari, a smart woman who could swing her battle-staff as well as the rest of them, better than most; and finally Rivka; she was gruff, but a good sword fighter, and always had our backs. As we packed our bags and headed toward the cave, San asked me, “Hey, Copn, do you think we are going to get more than a ten-minute fight on this judred?” I shrugged and replied, “I don’t know. From the reports the villagers gave me, he’s a huge fella, and his poison should put you down in a few seconds. So we better stay out of the way of that.” San just laughed and strolled into the cave that we had just reached, but as he walked into it, the judred came flying out like a hornet that had been disturbed from its nest. It flew straight into San, knocking him onto his back, but as it flew to the side, San grabbed his crossbow from his back. He started to aim at the beetle, but it was already in the air. Shari looked up at the judred and shouted out, “Aim at his wings, San!” San shot out his crossbow at the judred’s wing, crippling it. It crashed into the ground, and as it was flailing to get back up, Rivka sliced through one of its legs, causing it to recoil in pain. I grabbed my sword and rushed to Rivka’s side, pulling up my sword to help force the judred back. The judred threw its foot at us, 32
hitting Rivka and my swords, pushing us back. The judred approached us, opening its mouth to shoot poison at us, but San ran up behind us and slammed his bejeweled mace into its head, smacking its face toward the floor, causing the poison that it was about to shoot at us to slam into the ground, evaporating the dirt and stone it slammed into. As we three were fighting the judred, Matoke came up from behind and sliced off another one of the judred’s legs, and then he blended back into the forest. As the judred looked back to see what had happened to its leg back there, it saw nothing. It quickly turned back to its original attackers. The judred started backing into the cave, but it was blocked off by Shari. She put her shield up, and as the judred’s poison slammed into it, she threw the shield from her grasp onto the ground where a giant hole appeared and then grabbed out her battle staff, slamming the judred in the head. As the judred was distracted, Rivka and I stabbed our swords into its back, nailing it to the floor, but he refused to die. San walked up to the judred, and summoning all his might, he slammed his mace straight down onto the judred’s face. The judred was no more. We were all tired from the fight but took one of the judred’s severed legs back to the village to show the villagers that we had slain it so we could retrieve our prize. As we reached the village we were cheered on, but hardly noticed it through the drowsiness that had overcome us. We went to the local inn after securing our prize, and each of us went to our own rooms, preparing for tomorrow. Who knew what the next day might bring?
Stop and Smell the Razors By Jacob Oswalt
Metal Sculpture 34
“It’s Cold in Camelot” By Amaris Watje I feel beginning and the end of the headphone cord. I live in it, and outside there is nothing. Inside, it is just me, wrapped in wire. It is the music that I am just listening to. I see the spherical perfection of a lightbulb. There is no coincidence that the source of light is shaped like a teardrop. Inside, it is just me, clinging to the filaments. I am just watching. My fingertips are tracing over the wrought-iron clasped into mahogany wood. My stone walls are perfect because they do not let anything in. The torches are weak and flickering, and inside this castle, it is just me and my creations. I am the silhouette of a female profile. It might have been said for centuries, but eyes are not the windows to the soul. Inside my mind, it is just me. I am just writing, and it is cold in Camelot. I have been writing ever since I was twelve years old. I was never serious about it until last summer when I took a creative writing class for teens with The Potter’s School. That class transformed the way I looked at writing by its alteration of my writing skills and its creation of an entirely new world that came to be named Camelot inside of me. “Crap, . . .” It only took a glance for me to realize that I had entirely missed the first online class meeting on a Tuesday morning in the summer of 2016. The class met Tuesdays and Thursdays on the online platform, and the upcoming Thursday found me sitting at my desk apologizing to the instructor for missing the first day of class. Ms. Gaines was a graceful and easy-going instructor who liked for her students to have as much fun as they could. The primary goal of the class was to create and manage a successful WordPress blog. The assignments were fantasy and poetry based, both genres I was inexperienced in. I never thought that I could write poetry, but later experiences proved me wrong. The almost daily interactions with my creative classmates hydrated my long ignored creative impulses. In starting the class, I did not know how to write a whimsical short story. My reality-grounded imagination was stubborn at first, but soon the constant creativity in my classmates flowing around me loosened a dike in my mind. My first venture into the fantasy writing realm was with a rather clichéd story about a prejudiced dragon who meets an even more biased human child. My 35
next story was a bit more original, featuring the adventures of two young naiads (water spirits) in the world of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. Not surprisingly, considering the nature of art, not all my literary spurts were as sunlit as my first few stories. I once heard someone say that if I reached out into the darkness, it would hold my hand. Inside my mind were untapped reservoirs of vision that I was not aware of. The creative writing class unlocked channels of inspiration, both pleasant and gruesome. I first saw this when we were assigned in class to write a letter from a historical or fictional character. Leading a couple of linked ideas that I had, my research turned up Angela Rabaul, Adolf Hitler’s half-niece and love obsession. After eight years of being held in close confinement by her possessive uncle, Angela committed suicide at the age of twenty-three. I took it upon myself to write her death note. In the death note, I implied strains of insanity writhing in Angela’s mind as the reason for her suicide. This was the beginning of my reaching into the darkness. Like I said before, I never thought I could write poetry. The long nights I spent with a notebook in my lap and a pen between my fingers proved me wrong. Everybody told me I was good at writing, but that did not mean that I was writing about something good. The inside of my mind began to change after a while. More rooms were created, the nature of them uninviting to any but myself. The stone walls I had constructed fitted together tightly to protect what was inside of my mind. I had created a castle that was full of myself and what I dreamed about. We were things that needed to be better but could not. Camelot was born. So many of my nights were spent, headphones fixed firmly over my ears, staring at a wall for hours. I wandered the halls in Camelot. They were always so cold. If it were the right kind of night, I’d find the dark holding my hand and pulling me into rooms that it helped me create, showing me things I’d never seen before. Those rooms helped me write down what the dark wanted to hear. It has taken me a year to get where I am now: to be able to lock the rooms in my mind that I do not need to be in and still write well. I realized that my mind had come to depend on dark and horrific elements to make my work more sensational. It was almost painful training myself to suppress the dark themes in my writing. My skills have been stressed and honed through these experiences, and my perspective of writing has acquired an aspect of jadedness that will not leave. I could never destroy the castle in my mind. It is still cold in Camelot, but the warmth of sunlight cannot be blocked out. 36
Around the End By Courteney Petravage
“Constellation Lupus (The Wolf)” By Faith McGinty I’ve never seen her, but the simple knowledge of her existence is enough to sustain me. By nature, she’s meant to live in close communion with those who hunger for the same things: the light of the moon, the rush of the wild winds, and the solemn, reverent stillness of the woods. The desire for the elements courses through her veins, every bit as tangible as her own life blood. She understands who and what she is meant for, which is the very reason she is an outcast. In ancient myth, she was only ever on the fringes of lore, overshadowed by those unoriginal beings who conquered and killed and lusted. She is an enigma, incapable of being known by any save the few remaining members of her tribe, a tribe that she has never known, only heard through distant, otherworldly howls or sensed through a haunting scent of home carried by the North wind. Some have tried to tame her to be their own, their pet, their property, and at times the yearning to belong and be known, however imperfectly, was so powerful that she almost let them, but to submit to a leash-led existence would be the death of everything that defines her soul. So still she searches for a soul made from the same fabric as her own. Still she wanders, on and on, among the stars we’re made of. 38
Brotherâ€™s Protection By Reshonna Rifenbury
Marker and Colored Pencils 39
“Hera’s Sonnet” By Serena Heras Your charming smile usurped my naive heart, but your wandering eyes caused pain anew. Logic calls for us to cut ties part, yet I take you to me, for I love you. I am betrothed to your force to enchant but, I would divorce your feign to others. My every seed of doubt you did replant, each hope of troth ruined by your lovers. Reasons may one day arise that sway me, however, until then I seek to mend our splintered relationship. As for she, I, an enemy to me, will contend. For I stand and break those chains once again, yet I shall never be free from your reign.
Osbe By Vanessa Perez
Kai the Koi By Eileen Lisa Munoz
â€œRainâ€? By Tikisha Franklin She is force and fierce Her tears fall from the sky For she feels pain not suffering Her eyes are filled with sorrow For she seeks love not war The clouds of her mind begin to flutter As the waves of her mind drift into the deep sea The mane of her voice knows no lies For eyes tell the true story of her life in vain A storm approaches her presence Her fears become blain As the reign of her power runs through her veins Her spirit becomes part of the shadows For rain cries but not weak She is plain but always drain She is driven by endless sorrow Drowned by clouds of her mind For she is rain Surrounded by darkness Consumed by life 43
Among the Flowers By Kara Lazzaretti
“Learning through Entomology” By Megan Kopecki When I first started my 4-H entomology project, I did not know much about entomology other than it was the study of insects. I quickly learned that there are billions of insects and that some of them look exactly alike. Through 4-H, I learned how to identify insects and tell if they were pests or beneficial. Using this knowledge, I would then go and compete in the 4-H entomology competition. I also learned how to correctly pin and display insects in a shadow box for an entomology collection. Through the 4-H entomology program, I not only learned how to do one of my now favorite activities, but I also had someone to teach me, was able to see the difference between academic knowledge and entomology, and learned how they are both equally important. As stated, I first learned about entomology through the 4-H program, which at the time was something I did not know anything about. My beautiful mother was the first to introduce me to entomology. On many occasions, she could be heard saying, “Learning can be done anywhere, not just sitting in a classroom reading a book.” Even though I did not think it would be fun at first, I grew to enjoy it. Studying entomology became a huge passion of mine. The first thing that I did was to make flashcards of the insects I had to identify for the competition. In addition, I went to the entomology meetings once a week and took notes at every meeting about the insects I needed to study. I also read all the handouts my teacher gave me to help me study. There were some things that I could easily learn by myself, but for things such as the identification of the insects, I needed the help of my teacher, Ms. Jenna Cotter. Ms. Cotter has been a tremendous help in teaching me entomology. She is a younger looking woman with blonde hair, two kids, and a kind voice. She is a middle school science teacher with a degree in entomology and a love for insects big and small. Because of this love, she works with many 4-Hers in the entomology program. She teaches us how to correctly identify insects and helps us memorize what order the insects are in for the test. One thing I remember she did, which really helped me when I became a senior in 4-H, was to point out key characteristics to identify all the different insects and their orders. With her help on how to effectively study for these competitions, I really learned how to work under pressure. Even though this is not traditional academic learning, I do feel it is equally important to my school work as this work ethic has helped me prepare for my TSI testing 45
needed to enter the dual credit program. Even though entomology has helped me to complete schoolwork and timed tests under pressure, the knowledge I gained from entomology can be considered different from academic knowledge. A typical school would teach its students some basic science whereas entomology teaches one specific science relating to insects. Schools typically only cover the general science topic. However, when I took entomology, I learned insect anatomy, scientific entomology terms, metamorphosis, collection, pinning, and preservation methods. In addition, in regular schools they would teach human anatomy while I learned much about insect anatomy in the entomology program. I also learned new words from the Greek and Latin languages while studying the entomology glossary and the insect orders. When learning in a traditional school setting, students may not be exposed to as many of these words. Even though entomology supplied me with useful and fun information, traditional learning is equally important because of the knowledge it teaches students to prepare for college and beyond. Accordingly, I believe that the knowledge that I gained from school and entomology are both equally important. School has prepared me for college and adult life whereas entomology has exposed me to some very useful information about insects. School has taught me basic knowledge, such as math, science, and English. On the other hand, by studying entomology, I have learned such things as which insects carry disease or which ones could potentially harm me. This information is equally important and very useful. In addition to regular schooling, I believe that more people should be exposed to entomology so that they can learn which insects are beneficial, which are harmful, and which are inconsequential to mankind. If more people knew which insects were helpful to the environment, then they would leave the insects alone to do their job. In addition, if more people knew which insects were harmful or dangerous, then there would be fewer insect-related accidents and injuries. In summary, entomology has had a great impact in my life and for my well-being. It has taught me things such as how to take notes in class, as well as how to take timed tests and get over nerves when competing. It has also helped me to understand the importance of learning a wide variety of information and how to study on my own. This activity taught me that not all insects are bad and that we need most of them to help keep the environment functional. However, entomology has also taught me that there are more than a few insects out that are deadly or dangerous. I truly believe that if my mother had not made me do entomology, I would never have learned to give everything a chance and be as open-minded as I am today. I also gained a mentor and a good friend through this program, as well as a wide variety of knowledge. 46
Dragonâ€™s Eye By Reshonna Rifenbury
“The Raging Inferno” By Robert Brady It felt like it was the longest night of my life that I’ve ever faced. I was at home sleeping with my family when the fire pager awoke us with the deafening tone of the emergency signal for our fire department. I can still hear the voice through the pager. “# 15, Engine 151, Rescue 151, Tanker 151, Engine 121, and Ladder 121. Residential house fire with occupants trapped. Please respond emergency 1.” I jumped out of the bed and got dressed as fast as I possibly could. I grabbed my keys and radio and ran out the door to my truck. As I pulled out of my driveway I turned my lights and siren on to race to the fire as fast as I could. With my siren wailing in the night like a wolf howling at the moon and my emergency lights glowing like Christmas lights against the night sky, I radioed the engine at the station awaiting a crew; “I am going direct to the scene. I will advise the situation when I arrive.” When I arrived on scene, I saw the house with flames shooting out of the windows and flames dancing from the roof top, lighting the night sky for miles. The smoke from the fire was billowing out of the roof and windows and darkened the moonlit sky. I could hear the cries from the family inside, begging for someone to come help them. I reached in the back of my truck and grabbed my fire gear and immediately started to get it on faster than I had ever done before: boots, pants, jacket, hood, helmet, gloves, and radio. I called to the engine to find out how long until they would be there. The driver had advised me he would be at least 5-10 minutes out. I radioed to him that when they arrived to send the crew in the house to assist me with bringing the family out. My chief was yelling at me on radio, advising me to wait for additional personnel to arrive before making entry. I advised him that I couldn’t wait for them to arrive; I was making entry to save the family. I reached in the back of my truck and grabbed my axe. I raced to the front door of the house as fast as I could. With all my strength, I was able to knock the door off the hinges. My adrenalin was flowing. My training kicked in, and I got on my knees and started to crawl as low to the floor as possible to keep away from the thick smoke. I felt the wall with my hand and was following it, not letting go because it was my lifeline to getting out of the house. I yelled out, “Fire Department! Where are you?” I could hear a faint voice over the roar of the fire. 48
“We are in here. Please hurry. We can’t breathe.” I followed the voice until I found the family. I found the father, mother, and two children in a bedroom that was engulfed in flames and smoke. I told the father to hold one of the children and the mother to hold the other. I grabbed the woman and child in her arms and nestled them close to me and told the father to hold on to me and not let go. We started our way back along the same wall I had used to crawl in on. I kept yelling to the father, asking if he was okay and to tug on my coat to let me know he was there. As we were feeling our way to the front door, the smoke and fire were growing intense around us. We were having to get lower and lower to avoid the smoke and flames. I finally heard a very familiar sound in the distance of the engine’s siren roaring to our rescue. As we made it out of the front door, the truck had made it to us. The crew immediately jumped from the truck and helped me guide the family to safety. As we got them to safety, I called for an ambulance to come in and assist the family, making sure the family was not hurt. The crew grabbed the first hose off the truck and ran towards the fire like knights rushing to fight the dragon. The fire was raging out of control. My crew fighting gallantly like we were trained started to get the fire knocked down and under control. The next truck arrived on scene, and the crew grabbed another line and went to battle the fire alongside of the other crew. They were able to contain the beast and knock it out within 25 minutes. The chief arrived on location and immediately came to check on the family and me. He pulled me to the side and asked what I was thinking running in with no backup. I explained I had no time to wait; the fire had spread too far too fast. The family was my priority. After he cussed me out for a little while, we were able to clear the scene and return back to the station. We had a lot of work to do. Cleaning up after a fire of that magnitude takes a long time. The Chief called for me to come to his office. I was nervous about how his reaction was going to be. I walked into his office and closed the door behind me so everyone didn’t hear his reaction. He asked me to return my lieutenant badge to him. I handed it to him calmly, realizing that I was in trouble for my actions. He said, “Congratulations, you are now a Captain in this fire department.” He handed me my new badge and new helmet. I was shocked. He explained to me that if not for my judgment call, that family may not have survived the raging inferno that was their house. 49
Rockport Strong By Samantha Camacho
“Uncovering the Soldier Within” By Raquel Munoz Transitioning from civilian to soldier is not always an easy task. For some, it comes naturally, but for others, it's like talking to a brick wall. The military was the best thing that I could've done. I learned strength, responsibility, leadership, and courage. There's probably many other things I learned as well, but that’s what helped me mold into the person I am today. From a soldier's perspective, these four words can make a life changing impact. So, I laced up my boots and got moving. Right from the start, strength was something I knew all too well. It was 3:00 a.m. on October 29, 2008, when my recruiter came and picked me up from my house. My dad and step mom started crying, not really knowing when they would see me again. I picked up my backpack with only my paperwork and toothbrush in it. I placed the backpack on my back, then I proceeded to hug and kiss my parents goodbye. Without a tear in my eye, I headed towards my recruiter's car. The airport was my next stop, but the Army was my next journey. When I landed, I was placed on a bus headed to Fort Leonard, Missouri, which people called “Fort Lost in the Woods.” There's nothing but trees surrounding the inside and outside of base. I start to think to myself, Raquel, what have you got yourself into? I wasn't the only one to think this way, but I didn’t show it as others did. At night when the lights were off, you could hear grown women crying because they were homesick. I was eighteen and homesick, but I would journal my feelings. I couldn’t show I was weak. I was now in one of the toughest branches in the military, the United States Army. I had to be strong. Right away we are taught responsibility. We're issued an M16 and have to make sure it's always clean. Does anyone know how hard it is to clean a weapon that has been used by so many soldiers before him or her? I will never forget the greasy, oily smell of the weapon oil used to lubricate my weapon. I promise cleaning it all day will never get it good as new. Everywhere we went our weapons went with us. Everywhere I went the weapon literally went with me; the restroom, shower, cafeteria, and even when I slept, it was right next to me in bed. Next, we were responsible for our beds every morning looking exactly the same, “dress right dress is what the military calls it.” At the end of the bed, the blanket had to make a 45- degree angle, not 46 or 44, but 45. A quarter could bounce off it from the tightness of how the sheets and 51
blanket were pulled and tucked. Our wall lockers had to be the same as everyone else's in the room. Inside our wall lockers uniforms hung on one side, and physical fitness uniforms hung on the other. We were not only responsible for our own wall locker but for our battle buddy's as well. Another role everyone is given is a leadership role. I was given the role as platoon sergeant. I was now in charge of making sure my whole platoon was in the right place at the right time. My platoon contained forty-five males and eighteen females. I was only eighteen in charge of soldiers double my age. I had to make sure all the soldiers in my platoon were in the right uniform and knew all the information that was given by the drill sergeant. One thing for sure was one’s leadership style determined how people remembered someone. Personally, I always pushed soldiers more than they though t they could go. I learned, “Always be the leader; people would follow.” It was a run day ,and we had been running 60/120s, which were 60 second sprints and walking 120 seconds. I was so exhausted my legs felt like jelly. I could wring the sweat from my physical fitness uniform. All of a sudden, I heard my name being called. “Munoz, come here,” a drill sergeant said. I ran over quickly and replied, trying to catch my breath, “Yes, Drill Sergeant?” She looked me up and down and said with a smirk on her face, “You're going to pace this soldier in her two-mile run.” I thought to myself, My legs are jelly waiting to give, but what came out of my mouth instead was, “Roger, Drill Sergeant!” Right away the female soldier started falling behind. Instead of yelling at her, I encouraged her with positive words. “Don’t give up!” I would say, or “Come on. I know you can do it.” My drill sergeant had been watching the whole time. We crossed the finish line together with a sense of accomplishment for both of us. The drill sergeant came up to me and said, “Munoz, you could've given up on her, but you didn't.” I replied with, “That's not what battle buddies do.” She then said, “I would follow you any day, Munoz.” I felt a sense of pride rush through my body. Hearing those words from my drill sergeant gave me more confidence. I then felt like the leader I would love to look up to. Now, I've never been a fan of heights in my life, and courage came into play on the day we had to do an obstacle course. This obstacle course was intense from running, jumping, diving, and swinging, not having any time to think about what I about to take on. Then I came face to face with the 52
last obstacle called “Ranger Tower.” I started climbing the tower hooked to nothing going up, one step at a time, telling myself, don’t look down. My legs were shaking and my palms constantly sweating to the point I had to rub the sweat off on my pants. The wind was making the tower sway back and forth. I was just thinking, God, if I die, please make it painless and quick. I finally reach the top and guess what? We have to zipline down. I look at my drill sergeant and say, “I'm ready as I'll ever be.” I pushed off the edge of the tower to where I felt nothing underneath me and felt my heart sink into my stomach. I reached the bottom and kissed the ground. I built up the courage to face one of my biggest fears and walked away feeling prouder. The day of my graduation from basic training I walked proudly across the stage, knowing I'd become a different person within. The person within transformed into a soldier with more life skills. I gained the strength to try new things. I learned responsibility for not only my actions but others’ as well. I was the only one awarded the leadership award from my platoon. Last but not least, one of the most important things I learned was having courage to face my fears.
Yellow Bliss By Raquel Lopez
We Are All Wild Flowers By Sergio Santibanez
“Heart Write” By Jeremy Santibanez Sometimes I have to let my heart write, although I've had a hard life. Never gave my trust for lust ‘cause love was at a far sight. I've always needed glasses, but With you I'd never pass this up, Life was like a plastic cup, And pressure always smashed it up, Until I found you and you lifted up my spirit, Taught me how to love again even though I feared it, I feared that it would break me down, Take my crown, You pick me up I'm safe and sound, I have never felt peace, but with you I'm always near it. The rhythm of your words soothes my pain like the rain, And my brain can't be tamed without the sound of your name, I adore every part of you, every living particle. I could never take advantage couldn’t manage to leave your loving heart in two. You brighten up my darkest room, Those places where I’m never feeling alright, Takes a lot to trust ‘cause trust could turn into a sharp knife, Sometimes I have to let my heart write, Although I've had a hard life.
“Marianna Issalee King” By Mariah Newton It feels like I never got the chance to say, “Hey” I’ll never understand why our Creator took you away You were a blessing taken away too soon Now every night I look up at the moon It hurts because I don’t get to hold you tight And I don’t even get to kiss you goodnight I’ll never understand… But I long for the day I’ll be able to hold your hand I try not to cry, but I cannot resist Even though you were only here five days you, my daughter, DID exist Every day I wish you never left me,
Photograph by Mariah Newton 57
“Next Step in My Mind” By Anastacia Casarez Never leaving you seemed safer Clenching to your side was my habit My shield and guide against the world My cover as I played pretend I want to be a big girl Why can’t I decide to leave? Have my roots grown in too deep Has my mind finally given up? Have I defeated my chance to fly with waves? The sky swarms with dark clouds of comfort In one moment my arms outstretched...take me before I remember to think...breathe...even blink
“Remembering an Event” By Tina Romane My family had been sitting for 13 hours. Every time my father was hospitalized, it was a long, drawn out process. Every time we brought him, it was for the same condition. I always felt I could tell the medical staff what they should do to make it better. They insisted they had to run tests, all the while knowing we would arrive at the same conclusion. My father was diagnosed with congestive heart failure years prior. Three months before this visit, he needed a pacemaker with a defibrillator installed in his chest to help his heart function properly and possibly bring him back to life if the pacemaker didn't work. Fast forward to this date, at the hospital, and my father’s lifesaving machine has decided it is going to charge itself up and repeatedly shock his heart over 300 times in 13 hours. His doctor knows it needs to be removed, but he is waiting for approval. I am standing in the ER waiting room, thinking to myself, Why hasn't anyone turned that damned thing off? And it can't possibly be a good thing to allow it to jolt his heart whenever it decides to. His defibrillator was set at the highest number allowed in a human. Let me put this in perspective for anyone who may not be able to conceive what exactly this little, 3-inch diameter box can do. As I walk into my dad's room to visit, I hear a loud whirring noise. It is ramping up and getting louder. It is a high-pitched, squealing sound. Within ten seconds, I see my father bounce on the hospital bed, literally come up in the air as though he is levitating for a split second. I am horrified. I can see the wall on the other side of the bed between his body and the bed when the defibrillator goes off. He is begging me to tell the nurses to turn it off. I promise I will and calm him as best I can. I cannot believe what I am witnessing, and I ask about the approval for the replacement. His nurse isn’t at liberty to give me the information but calls for his doctor to come speak with us. As I walk back to the waiting room, I hear the whirring noise starting to ramp up again. I remember grabbing the wall and bracing for the hit my father is about to receive. One hour later, the doctor arrives. He has three men in tow. They are in suits, all matching, all the way down to their shoes. It seems odd now that I noticed those details. The doctor explains that he is still waiting for approval. He says that this device has a drained battery that will not stay fully charged like it should. “So we're supposed to just let him lie in that room being electroshocked?” I said. “And if the battery is dying and will not hold a charge, how 59
long are you planning to leave it inside him?” The three men just sit behind the doctor with blank looks on their faces. I ask, “Who do I need to get approval from? Is it another doctor? Is it the hospital? WHO?” No one says a word. One of the men puts his head down and looks visibly uncomfortable. It suddenly occurs to me that these men are who I need approval from. I can feel the blood rise all the way up from my feet. I am so angry I can spit nails. My hands start shaking. I can't believe that the entire time we have been waiting, there are three men in suits that can remedy this whole situation! I look at all three and ask, “Who are you, and what exactly do you have to do with my father and his case?” Only one answers: “Hello, my name is ‘blank.’ We are here to evaluate your father because he only recently received our device. We have been with him a few hours since he came in. We are monitoring for any changes.” Changes, they are monitoring for changes. “And are you doctors?” I ask. I get three “no ma'ams” from them. My temper shoots through the top of my head. I stand up and ask exactly who sent them and from where? Their response is that they are from the manufacturer of the device and have been sent to monitor whether the device can be saved—not whether a human can be saved, but a device. He explains those devices cost upwards of $100K, and considering my father only recently had his installed, they are evaluating whether to remove it and replace it with a new one. " “YOU PUT A DEVICE IN MY FATHER, WITH CRAPPY BATTERIES IN IT, SAT AND WATCHED IT SHOCK HIM REPEATEDLY, KNOWING IT IS DAMAGING HIS HEART FURTHER, AND YOU ARE TRYING DECIDE IF YOU SHOULD LEAVE IT IN HIS BODY?” I yell. It is out of my mouth before my brain can register what I am even going to say. “This is a human being that your company is supposed to save. You make these devices to prolong life. You didn't check the batteries before you put it in?” He simply states that no one is perfect, and it is trial and error. I sit and burst into tears. My dad is four doors down, still being shocked every few minutes, and I realize that his doctor is not even allowed to decide if they can replace the P/D. He can't even tell them to turn it off. The manufacturer gets to decide who to give the devices to, when to replace them, and when to turn them off, not our doctors. Three hours later, the decision is made that the device will be replaced. I have no further contact with the men in suits, with their smug, matching shoes. The entire 20-hour process leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Twenty hours of being shocked and men in suits staring at him defeated my father. He opted for just the pacemaker and set the wheels into motion to prepare for his passing. I received a package shortly after his death. It contained a small, metal 3-inch diameter device, with the batteries intact. It took six months to arrange for the men in suits to pick up the device they were so worried about before. I had to listen to it charge and shock the cardboard packaging it came in for six months. 60
“Opened Closed Eyes” By Daniel Enrique Becerra Can’t stand this society, Where people live life blindly. Where we are provided substances to kill time, But to get a hold of it one must simply lie. I don’t blame him or her for the paths they have taken. Pigs don’t know they’re eating bacon, Because they have been forsaken. But we the people won’t put effort for a change, Due to the fact that there won’t be anyone to blame. What if your pillow woke you up And started talking to you, Pointing out your realism and not your IQ? Then asked you what is your fear, But drugs or alcohol are clotting your ears. Then you start thinking about suicide while your cheeks slide down tears, Because you didn’t overcome a fear. It’s better being alone, Than being someone’s clone. Most won’t understand my message, Won’t care about the purpose, Because they’re part of the circus. If you have truly seen reality in depth, You’ll care more about your happiness than riches and debt. 61
“Ice Cream” By Kara Lazzaretti
Ice cream The perfect remedy for a crushed dream When things don’t go your way When you hear the words you hoped he’d never say There always that sweet frozen confection To help you deal with a lost love connection I don’t know why a spoon and frozen treat Can remind a broken heart how to beat But I’m not going to question Its frozen perfection
Dive In By Vanessa Perez
“Winter’s Warmth” By Serena Heras
I always like winter best, you can smile from a lover’s gesture, laugh, blush, and love. Lots of adventures, and welcoming arms with gentle smiles at the arrival of you. Listening to fond memories, Outside at the church with the bells that tolled in cheer as we left. And go to the mountains with your guidance, and be comforted and warm. All the time, not only when you go to bed and sleep.
The Mountains of the "White" City Ashgabat By Amina Jumamyradova
Blossoming Mind By Jocelyn Flores
Mixed Media 66
“My First Teacher” By Janis Sanchez Where would one be if there were not someone there to teach and lead on one’s past experiences? We would all start at the beginning, making the same mistakes they have made. Luckily, we have teachers, teachers who teach and share a wealth of knowledge, teachers who have already walked the road we are on and have special insight to make our walk easier. Teachers are not just the kindergarten teacher who taught us the alphabet, the science teacher who engaged our attention in class, or the college professor who opened our minds to new ideas and reasoning. Our first teachers are our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, caretakers, the neighbor who taught us how to put a bicycle chain back on a bike. My first and favorite teacher was my great-grandmother Santos, whom we now remember as Santitos. Santitos was the eldest in my family, and she was filled with a wealth of knowledge. I have learned plenty in school, but personally, I treasure all that I learned from the women in my family. The different generations that imparted their wisdom and experiences to me, I am thankful for them. I have taken full advantage of the knowledge they shared with me throughout my childhood and now in adulthood. I feel like I have had an advantage in life, knowing the simple teachings and cautions that they have shared. Santitos took care of me while my mother worked. She was up at the crack of dawn, listening to the news on the radio while she prepared breakfast. I could smell the fresh coffee saturating the air and the refried beans frying on her iron skillet. Then, the music would start, so energetic that it would drown out the static from the AM station. I knew that it was time for breakfast. I would wake up ready to eat. Santitos served me a small plate of refried beans and an egg. Finally, my taste buds would savor what my nose was smelling. She would read while I ate. I was so intrigued and wanted to know what she was reading, so I asked, “Grandma Santitos, what are you reading about?” She then placed the article in front of me and asked me to read. Nervously and confused, I informed her that I did not know how to read and that I had not even started school yet. She told me, “It is okay. I did not learn how to read until I was older, but I did not go to school to learn how to read. I had to teach myself.” I admired her intelligence, but would I ever grow up to be smart like her? My great-grandmother explained how her mother died when she was a young girl, and her father moved them to San Antonio to gain employment. Being the eldest of three, she had to stay home to take the place of her 67
mother. She learned how to cook, sew, and read at her own leisure. She explained how heartbroken she was when she would see her siblings off to school as she stayed behind to take care of the house. After our morning conversation, we went outside. To my amazement, she caught a chicken. She snapped her neck and plucked her feathers over the sink. My great-grandmother Santos was preparing for dinner. She began with the housework and had the house in order before my parents came home from work. After dinner, we went outside and tended to her garden. The entire time she never tired of me and my questions. She made me laugh, fueled my curiosity, and taught me along the way. On other days, I would accompany her to run errands. Santitos did not drive, so we would walkâ€”yes, walk! Before we left, she would lay out all her money for the month. Then, she divided her money into folded sheets of paper, simulating envelopes, for the different payments she had to make that she placed in an envelope altogether. She had one for her insurance, utilities, prescriptions, and groceries, and a real envelope for her savings that she would hide. We then proceeded to walk to pay her utilities, then to the pharmacy to get her medication, then to the grocery to buy her food and household products. Our last stop was my favorite of all, Winnâ€™s. We went there to purchase thread, material, and sewing patterns. On our way home, she always bought me an ice cream to help cool me off. Finally, we raced inside the house to get a gulp of ice cold water. Importantly, on our outings, she would teach me how to be polite to others. Santitos, taught to me to wait patiently in line and wait my turn to be attended. She explained how to approach the employees with questions and how to mind my manners. Thinking back, I remember she never let me point. I always had to use my words to describe or walk up to what I wanted to show her. This was her pet peeve, pointingâ€”never point! I can honestly say that my first teacher taught me so many things. I learned to not wait on anyone to teach me or do something for me. I learned to be independent, strong, and confident. I learned to cook, clean, and organize my household duties. She taught me to pay for the important things first and always keep a savings. She taught me to be kind and courteous to others, but not too trusting. We are constantly learning. Learning from home and hands-on learning, in my opinion, are more engaging and universal. We need to know these basics to run our lives, our families, and our jobs. A formal education is equally important, but not everyone can teach a formal education. It takes years of learning from a specialized team, then certification to teach what you have learned. When we have learned handson, there is always an opportunity to share what we know with others, and no certification is required. I know that I am empowered to teach others, even if I do not have a degree in teaching, but I have plenty of experience in other areas. 68
Two Kinds of People By Denise Astran
The Foreigner Who Taught Me Much By Michael Chembars “And the Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration is low!” we said in unison. He grinned widely, stuffed the paper in his waistband, and saluted . “I thank you, comrade Chembars! Let us open up clinic for day!” He saluted me. “Indeed, comrade Captain. Let’s.” I returned the gesture of honor, after which he spun around on his heels and marched away, back to his apartment to change into his scrubs. As I watched him return to his apartment, I never thought I would learn all the practical things that I now know about veterinary science at such a young age, let alone from a foreign veterinarian. I had always loved studying the two following things: how to become a veterinarian and the defunct nation of Yugoslavia. When I discovered he was from Serbia, I couldn’t stop talking to him or about him. During my time at the clinic in which he worked, I performed everything from folding surgical drapes to maintaining homeostasis with the sanitation products and even “doing” blood work. How did I end up in this atypical yet stellar medical facility, one might ask? I began working there subsequent to my interning at the place for two weeks the previous July, thanks to a university course that allowed me to do so. The intense two weeks were well spent, and I learned much. At the end of the course, the owner of the clinic loved the work I did, and after the class was over, she allowed me to stay. However, she was an extremely busy person on a day-to-day basis, taking care of numerous patients and fighting it out on the telephone with thieving lawyers, so who was I left with to instruct me? The excellent surgeon and superb Serbian doctor, Slobodan Stojadinovic. I vividly recall August 20, 2016. My first act when I arrived at the clinic was generally to replenish the sanitation supplies. From under one of the laboratory cabinets, I grabbed a one-gallon jar of dark blue chlorhexidine disinfectant concentrate and set it inside the sink. I then collected all of the empty spray bottles and filled them to the brim with concentrate and water. Doctor Stojadinovic taught me exactly how much water and chlorhexidine to mix together. As I finished the weekly restocking of disinfectant in the vet clinic that Saturday morning, I heard the Yugoslav national anthem playing loudly from the apartment, which was connected to the clinic. I looked at my watch, which said 6 AM. “Right on schedule,” I mused to myself as I walked into a small room near the laboratory. I grabbed a roll of blue, uncut surgical drapes and scissors from the shelf, preparing to slice my weekly ten pieces for future deployment in 70
surgical packs. Doctor Stojadinovic was the one who taught me what length to cut them and how to fold them correctly. Just then, I heard a loudspeaker blaring from the apartment next-door. “It is on this great day, comrades, that the Yugoslav Army. . . .” The recorded pep talk droned on for about five minutes; it was loud enough to substitute as coffee for me that morning. I walked over to the laboratory section of the clinic, grabbed a vial of blood out of the fridge, and following the necessary sanitation procedures, placed it into the analyzer. Again, it was Doctor Stojadinovic who had rigorously equipped me to prepare blood samples and how to process them into the VS-2 testing machine. On Friday night, he extracted the sample from a hapless German shepherd affectionately called Butch who was suffering from a rare ailment. “We want to watch MCHC when you do test Monday,” he said to me in his broken English. “Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration?” “Exactly,” he said with a wide grin. He taught me what that meant also. The printer spewed out the results, and after analyzing them (Butch’s MCHC was high), I heard his apartment door swing open. I hurriedly prepared myself for his arrival. I then held the piece of paper next to my chest with my other hand at my side. All the other doctors and technicians in the clinic ignored him as he marched down the hallway, then made a right turn, heading for me. He stopped his goose-stepping two feet in front me, his sixfoot stature towering over me like a stone statue. He was in his full Yugoslav Army dress uniform, the one he had from the war in ’91. And yes, he even held his Yugoslav SKS rifle in parade fashion. After a second of silence, and after we had both clicked our heels, he spoke. “What is that you have in hand, comrade Chembars?” spoke the Serbian doctor with the rich accent of a Slav. I extended the paper with my left hand, and he took it with his right, as the rifle was in his other hand. “Comrade Captain, I bring you the blood report of Butch the dog!” “And the Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration is low!” we said in unison. He grinned widely, stuffed the paper in his waistband, and saluted. “I thank you, comrade Chembars! Let us open up clinic for day!” He saluted me. “Indeed, comrade Captain. Let’s.” I returned the gesture of honor, after which he spun around on his heels and marched away, back to his apartment to change into his scrubs. Not only was Doctor Stojadinovic an excellent surgeon, but he also taught me everything I currently know about being a veterinary technician. Foreigner or not, he knew how to effectively instruct me by acting instead of speaking. Crazy or not, he changed my life forever—for the better. 71
“Pink and Pay” By Brittanie Salazar Money is an object plain and simple, so why must we use this as a status symbol? We scrape, we scrimp, we save, but all we get is one step closer to our grave. I work the same as you, so why is this object given to the blue? Pink has just as many skills as blue, but somehow pink doesn’t have a clue. So if men are blue and women are pink, why do men earn more of this paper printed in green ink? Pink, blue, and green are just colors, so why is blue worth more than the others? I could fight and scream and kick, but in the end this pink label will still stick. I came from the same country as you, but it doesn’t matter; what matters is not the colors red or white, which make pink, but the color blue. Pink must come together and hold on tight, for we stand for a purpose and for what is right. This country was founded by our forefathers, but I stand for my mother, sister, and my two daughters.
85 VIN By Juan Crispin
Tigerâ€™s Paw By Ricki Nicole Ramirez
Literary art journal composed of St. Philip's College students' writing and artwork and edited by a student editorial staff