LITERARY & ARTS M A G A Z I N E Cochise College Cochise & Santa Cruz Counties, Arizona College Advisors Ron Hyde Jeff Sturges Virginia Pfau Thompson Jay Treiber Rick Whipple
Front and Back Cover Art Art: “Mission Girl” by James Schrimpf Design: Rick Whipple About Mirage
Mirage Literary and Arts Magazine is designed and produced by students of Cochise College and/or volunteers from the community, with help from faculty advisors. Those interested in participating in the production of Mirage should contact Cochise College at 520515-0500. Visit us at www.cochise.edu/mirage. Hard copies of Mirage can be obtained at both the Douglas and Sierra Vista campus libraries and the centers at Benson, Fort Huachuca, Nogales, and Willcox. Acknowledgements The Mirage staff would like to thank the following proofreaders: Dennis Gordon, Elizabeth Lopez, Diane Nadeau, Nischa Roman, George Self, and Curt Smith. Creative Writing Celebration Winners Mirage publishes the first-place winners of the previous year’s Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration competitions in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, if available. The Creative Writing Celebration is co-sponsored by Cochise College, University South Foundation, Inc., Cochise College Foundation’s Diane E. Freund Memorial Writing Celebration Fund, and the City of Sierra Vista Leisure and Library Services, with support from other community organizations and businesses. Visit the Creative Writing Celebration webpage at www.cochise.edu/cwc. The following are the winners of the 2014 competitions: Poetry – Lars Samson, “Words These Days” Fiction – Bonnelyn Thwaits, “Community Service” Nonfiction – Deseret Harris, “Korea”
Mirage Mission Statement Mirage Literary and Arts Magazine has a three-part mission: 1. Mirage serves Cochise and Santa Cruz counties by showcasing high-quality art and literature produced by community members. 2. Mirage serves Cochise College by establishing the college as the locus of a creative learning community. 3. Mirage serves Cochise College students by providing them an opportunity to earn college credit and gain academic and professional experience through their participation in all aspects of the production of the literary and arts magazine. Font This year’s Mirage is printed in Minion, an Adobe original typeface designed by Robert Slimbach. Minion is inspired by classical, oldstyle typefaces of the late Renaissance, a period of elegant, beautiful, and highly readable type designs. Copyright Notice All rights herein are retained by the individual author or artist. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without written permission of the author or artist, except for limited scholarly or reference purposes, to include citation of date, page, and source with full acknowledgement of title, author, and edition. Printed in the United States of America. © Cochise College 2015
Mirage 2015 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Literature Omnivorous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Lavendra Copen The Blessed Suso . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Michael Gregory Assignment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Lavendra Copen iii
Art Canci贸n de Lluvia (Monsoon Song) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Marcela C. Lubian Santa Fe Ranch, Nogales . . . . . .8 James Schrimpf Great Zot!! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 John Hays Draco Baby . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Lindsay Janet Roberts Dancer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Larry Milam Past Traditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 John Hays Scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Yolanda van der Lelij Driver of the Bus . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Lynda Coole Desert Rainbows . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Gloria Fraze Shells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Judy Fitzsimmons
Literature Inner You Out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Steve Bov茅e Presence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 Lavendra Copen Art Boats on Parker Canyon Lake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Karri Fox Avatar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Lindsay Janet Roberts Desert Highlights . . . . . . . . . . . .31 Daniel N. Rollins Whimsey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Lynn Dottle Mission Girl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 James Schrimpf Antelope Canyon . . . . . . . . . . . .34 Debi Lee Hadley Bisbee Falls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Louise Walden White Blooming Cereus Cactus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Angie Rivas Cochise College Pit Fire Performers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Sharon Lee Keyboard Reflection in Cheap Sunglasses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Lynda Coole
Literature Our Wilderness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Leslie Clark How Is It That This Comes to Pass? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 Ruby Odell Plunge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Leslie Clark The Roadrunner’s Tale . . . . . . .43 Michael Erickson Horse and Willow Tree in the . Moonlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Ruby Odell Moon Pocket . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48 Georgia Dust Art Following Daddy’s Footsteps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Rebecca Tyler Sky Hook . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Russell (Catdaddy) Gillespie Ladder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 Yolanda van der Lelij Vic (Victor) Power . . . . . . . . . . .62 Richard Byrd Piñon Jay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 Sara Nolan Sunset Thunderstorm . . . . . . .64 Beth Ann Krueger Tortoise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 Jana Shephard Mardocco Yellow Taxi in Lowell . . . . . . . . .66 Gloria Fraze Chiricahua Foothills . . . . . . . . .67 Sara Nolan
Tlaquepaque . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68 Debi Lee Hadley Kingfisher Reflections . . . . . . . .69 R. J. (Bob) Luce Arrival . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70 Nischa Roman Literature Not My Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71 Cappy Love Hanson Reminisce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73 Trinity Higgs An American Solitude . . . . . . .74 Cappy Love Hanson En el Nombre del Padre . . . . . .75 Beth Orozco Origami Tears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83 Trinity Higgs Prelude to a Storm . . . . . . . . . . .84 Beth Ann Krueger Literature - Creative Writing Celebration Winners Words These Days . . . . . . . . . . . .86 Lars Samson Community Service . . . . . . . . . .87 Bonnelynn Thwaites Korea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90 Deseret F. Harris Biographical Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91 Submission Guidelines
. . . . .85
Mirage 2015 OMNIVOROUS
Poems are omnivorous. This one just devoured one porcupine two yellow pickup trucks three crab apple trees and is still trying to digest them slapping its bloated belly not even covering its mouth with its hand when it belches.
Mirage 2015 THE BLESSED SUSO
The blessed Suso in his youth choosing Wisdom for his beloved had her painted in all her beauty by a brother with a gift for that —the Mosaic prohibition having been for some time now lifted through imagination as the eastern fathers taught the punning pope concurring that icons bear faithful witness to the transfiguration of matter by light— on parchment he carried to his cell longing to be in touch with her color line shape divine proportion her presence preceded by desire to know to understand more deeply found only by those who go slowly in holy curiosity The beautiful calling to the soul Ecstasy the soul in ascent despite the risk of monk’s disease presenting in various guises —sloth for one, the noonday demon making him indecisive at best
given to despondency inert before all tasks falling asleep with his head in the book waking into a sense of privation confessing to being abjectly unfit for such an ambitious vocation 3
â€”hallucinations for another giving credence to phantasms the castrate and cannibal god casting a leaden pall on things the god more subtle a certain feeling of uncertainty something not quite right about to happen in sight of an archaic smile black humor sotto voce behind the saturnine visage â€” eros heroycus yet another that melancholic disorder the soul pulled towards the beloved image written in the imagination attendant spirits so agitated they soon exhaust the red blood leaving nothing but black bile a wobbled head filled with vapors
the brain dried the psyche oppressed ungodly visions and feelings transforming contemplative intention into intimate contradictions an incapacity to conceive the incorporeal yet desire to embrace it a violent lust for the unattainable which impossibility exasperated inclination spiritual depravation might well drive lovers mad incontinent as vipers insatiable beyond restraint like asses having commerce with women they claim to despise entirely leaving the practice in disarray the order in vile and utter contempt for which excesses attending physicians concluding that only by a touch of the spear that caused it can such a mad wound be healed prescribed: coitus and drunkenness and on the theory that opposites seek balance: fasting and walks
through flowering meadows by gentle streams where birds and minstrels sing the same song until the fires burn themselves out the spooks go back where they came from the mother Christ hold him again a satisfaction in her eyes 5
Mirage 2015 ASSIGNMENT
For Jim Sagel, who recognized that poems are all around us. Poems suggest themselves like assignments, as though the teacher too long dead instructs from stone and sky. Write the poem of the alien elm, the deep-grooved cottonwood sucking at the river’s breastwork, the high-flung pine shaking off its snowy cloak. Poem in the millet seed, thistle seed, sunflower seed set out in hanging banquets for the wild birds. Poem of the neighbor’s bob-tailed tiger tom, sitting zazen under the feeder tree like a golden Buddha, his rainbow-round leap at sparrow-flesh enlightenment. The neighbor’s Labrador, rolling at the gate to have her belly worshipped, her easy, upside-down ecstasy. Poem of the neighbor, walking at moonrise to her mailbox with a single letter like a living creature, its white velum skin and dark stamp eye. Poem of the crescent new moon caressing her faint, encircled lover. Poem of the poem living its organic life in the soil of every present moment, each one seen for the assignment it compels.
Mirage 2015 CANCIÓN DE LLUVIA (MONSOON SONG) acrylic
Marcela C. Lubian
Mirage 2015 SANTA FE RANCH, NOGALES photograph
Mirage 2015 GREAT ZOT!! photograph
Mirage 2015 DRACO BABY metalwork
Lindsay Janet Roberts
Mirage 2015 DANCER lineoleum print
PAST TRADITIONS photograph
Mirage 2015 SCALE oil
Yolanda van der Lelij
Mirage 2015 DRIVER OF THE BUS photograph
Mirage 2015 DESERT RAINBOWS photograph
Mirage 2015 SHELLS ceramic
Mirage 2015 INNER YOU OUT
I couldn't lie to myself any longer—I needed a new face. Really, really needed a new face. Not that there was all that much wrong with the old one. I’ve seen worse, plenty worse. It wasn't hideous, exactly— it just wasn't appealing. It didn’t please. It didn’t gladden. It didn’t sing. It wasn’t ruggedly handsome, or even rugged. No single feature was grotesque, but the aggregate was . . . well, if you found it on your plate, you'd push it away. Alone, standing before the mirror, I coldly surveyed my entire phiz, inch by unsatisfactory inch. From brow to chin, cheek to ear, above, below, from the side . . . Then I closed my eyes, hoping it would all go away. It didn't. That's when I made up my mind. It's intolerable, I thought. It's got to go. Plastic surgery was the only answer, of course. But quite frankly, the prospect scared me. Which plastic surgeon, for example, to choose? There were quacks out there, I knew, charlatans who would dice and chop with reckless abandon and leave you with the face of a hyena. Was it worth the risk? I had just about reached the conclusion that it was not, when Fate stepped in and took me by the hand. I was sitting, as it happened, in a dentist’s office, waiting on an appointment, and, bored, was leafing through the pages of a glossy magazine—I think it was Celebrity Dunce Parade. Yes, that was the one, I remember gazing with envy at all those impossibly perfect faces. And then something struck me with the force of an electric shock. I found that I was staring at a full-page advertisement touting the Facial Reconstruction Clinic of one Dr. William H. Pettingil. Fate was not being subtle. The ad was everything I was looking for. Pettingil was “Award-Winning” and “Surgeon to the Stars.” The clinic was licensed in various states and had won gold medals and commendations and such. And this, I knew, was a source I could trust. Publications such as Celebrity Dunce Parade do not allow any but the very best to advertise in their pages; you can bet your last dollar on that.
The ad read, FED UP WITH YOUR LOOKS? IT’S TIME FOR
A NEW YOU!!!!! Below was the image of an archangel. Two archangels, rather—a man and a woman, and both equally gorgeous. They were smiling rapturously at each another. YOU can have the face you always wanted! The face hidden within, the face you DESERVE! and finally, LET THE INNER YOU OUT. I could learn more, the ad informed me, by visiting their website. I cancelled my dental appointment on the spot and in less than an hour, in the privacy of my home, was staring feverishly at the computer screen. Boy, what a box of eye-candy the site proved to be! It started slowly, on a muted tone. Music began to swell—trumpets, organs, and celestial choirs—and a ghostly, animated something materialized out of the primordial blackness. It resolved itself into a face—an animated gnome-like face, which magically morphed into an Adonis. (The gnome even looked a bit like me, I marveled.) Again and again, the miraculous transformation took place as I watched, fascinated. Then the face faded away in a dissolve and was replaced by an extremely realistic cartoon figure, a guy in a mad-doctor's smock. He was wearing one of those reflector things on his forehead. He cupped his hand to his mouth and announced in the voice of God Himself that I had found the home of THE PETTINGIL SURGICAL CLINIC Specializing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Which was, for a limited time only, offering an “introductory procedure” at an “attractive price.” Dr. Pettingil (or at least his cartoon surrogate) advised me to “ACT NOW” to learn “EVEN MORE,” and icons began to pop up over the screen like mushrooms.
Believe me, I acted. I clicked every button on the site, and it was like hitting the jackpot at the slots. The screen simply exploded. Out poured info-tainment, edu-tainment, music, sound effects, tutorials, ever-branching “exploratoria,” pyrotechnics! What a smorgasbord! Eyes, ears, nose, lips, chin, cheeks, neck, wrinkles, blotches, bulges, bags, pouches, all beckoned and tempted. Tucks, lifts, implants, spider-vein excision, exfoliation, de-pilation, re-pilation, laser sculpting, flab dispersal vied for my attention and excitement. There was even something called, mysteriously, cerebral liposuction. It all built to a frenzied crescendo which subsided, in a masterwork of theatre, to a calm, dignified peroration. A simulated man appeared and filled the screen. (I’d chosen the male option, of course; I couldn't wait to see the women’s spokesperson!) He was incredibly, almost supernaturally, handsome. He was wearing a sou’wester and smoking a pipe; his hands were clenching a ship’s wheel. He had a beard, and his “merry, slightly crinkled blue eyes” (which were described in a sidebar) shifted from side to side, seeming to be scanning the North Sea in search of whales, or babes, or something. He was Rugged Handsomeness incarnate. Suddenly, he seemed to look me straight in the eye and began to speak, in that same God-voice I’d heard earlier. This is what he said: “As you cruise through the seas of life, your FACE is your vessel. From the superstructure of your forehead to the bridge windows that are your eyes . . . from the hawsepipes of your nostrils to the mighty chin that cleaves the waters . . . your FACE commands the waves.” He gave me a stern look and commanded me to TOUCH OR PLACE CURSOR OVER A FEATURE, THEN CLICK. I was so excited. I hardly knew what I was doing; I stabbed at random. I must have hit “nose,” for what came up next was “But what comes before all else, leading the vessel in stately triumph, jutting proudly ahead and parting the mists of the high seas, is the ship’s PROW . . . your nose.” I hit pause, got up and half-ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. My prow needed remodeling, all right. Compared to the guy’s in the picture, it looked like the snout of a garbage scow which had collided with a wharf. Back to the screen.
“A nobler, more seaworthy prow can be yours. Your FACE can be a sleek windjammer, a mighty ship sailing life’s seas in search of adventure. PETTINGIL’S CLINIC will reshape your bowsprit and set you on a new voyage of discovery.” Oh my God! I couldn’t wait to get to the shipyards. I made my reservation on the spot. The cost was staggeringly high, but expense be damned; the seas of life beckoned. The clinic was located in California, and I caught the next available jet. Exactly twenty-four hours later, I was standing before the blond-oak and bronze doorways of the Pettingil Clinic. I was reassured to see that the building was smack in the heart of the highrent district: a neighborhood of fancy law firms, engineering offices, medical specialists. This was no back-alley nose-job arcade—not that I'd ever doubted, after viewing that website, that Pettingil was anything but first class. I entered, heart beating fast, and the arctic blast of air-conditioning made me go numb all over. Equally numbing was the splendor of the lobby. I suppose Buckingham Palace is decked out something like that, when heads of state visit, but it could hardly be as imposing. The place was a cathedral of glass, stainless-steel, and fine wood. Each chair was a masterpiece of the furniture-maker's art, each side-table a tribute to the tastes of Louis XIV. Even the magazines were of the highest literary merit, Celebrity Dunce Parade, of course, being prominent. A buxom, raven-haired receptionist, a direct descendent of Nefertiti by way of Marilyn Monroe, bade me sit. I sat. Overwhelmed. Humbled. What was an ordinary shmuck, a . . . a nobody like me doing in a place this . . . magnificent? I didn't belong. This was a place for the lords of the earth, not me. Each passing minute made me feel smaller and smaller. And then—a door whisked back, and the great man himself entered. It was Dr. Pettingil in person, and I couldn't suppress a gasp. He was wearing a mad-doctor smock, like the cartoon in the ad, but that was the end of the resemblance, I can tell you. The doctor was Physical Perfection. I mean his face; I don't know what the rest of him looked like. You sim-
ply couldn't take your eyes off his face. Every hair was in place, like molded plastic. His skin was flamingo-pink and burnished to a dull glow. He smiled at me, and his teeth formed such a regular grid it looked like he had an ear of snow-white corn clamped behind his lips. And his features—chin, mouth, nose, and so forth—were flawless, Olympian; no mere human ever had such features. It occurred to me on some level that Dr. Pettingil must have been his own best customer. Which, truth to tell, was the most powerful endorsement that could possibly be made. The most amazing thing about his godlike features was that they were absolutely motionless. When he talked I could see his sugar-corn teeth going up and down behind his lips, but his mouth never moved. He never blinked. His eyes were merrily crinkled, but they didn't move. If he breathed, it was not visible. His nose might have been made of pink marble, his chin of high-density polypropylene. Nothing on his face stretched, or rippled, or creased. It was eerie and beautiful. He gripped my hand (you’ve seen the sculpture of David by Michelangelo?—that was his hand, except it was warm) and shook it firmly as he spoke. His voice was perfect, of course. Not Jehovan, like the ad, but with a mellow timbre that oozed manly friendliness. He said, “Welcome to our clinic.” That was all, but I almost fainted from the sheer music of it. “Or rather, I should say, welcome to your home. Naturally”—he gave a deprecating little laugh—“it’s not really your home. We are a professional clinic specializing in reconstructive surgery. But it’s our sincere hope that you feel the same level of comfort here that you would amongst family, in the privacy of your own four walls. We at Pettingil Clinic recognize that facial reconstruction is a highly personal decision, and we want you to enjoy the level of trust and support that you would surrounded by your family. Our goal is to advise you to the best of our professional ability as well as with understanding and support. Above all, we want our customers to feel comfortable, at ease, and among friends. At all times we want you to feel as though you may turn to us for support. If you have any questions, we will be happy to answer them, in a setting that is private, comfortable, and supportive . . .”
And on and on like that. It lulled me along like a serene river, and at some point, I must have gone into some kind of trance because I woke with a start as he concluded “. . . standards of professionalism, privacy, and support that are second to none.” “Where do I sign?” I yelped. The musical laugh. “We're getting a bit ahead of ourselves, aren't we? There's no need for haste, after all. Haste is something we discourage. Let us begin with a cost-free, complimentary consultation,” said Dr. Pettingil. “Now. May I?” He gripped my face very tenderly and scanned it for a full five minutes, making little clucking sounds. “Yes, yes, yes,” he said from time to time. At last he let me go and went and washed his hands in a sink, then returned and gazed at me with a very benevolent expression—at least it seemed benevolent, as far as you could read it on his motionless face. “So, then. Which, ah, deficiency would you like to have corrected?” “I was thinking of my—well, my prow,” I said. “Massive, radical, reconstructive rhynoplasty. Good choice.” “I mean my nose.” “Quite,” he said. “Forgive my professional jargon. I’ll use lay terms, if you prefer. I prefer them myself. It's my belief . . .” “I want a windjammer face,” I broke in. “I want to sail through life's seas, every sail taut with . . .” “Yes, yes. And sail you will. We'll begin, as you wish, with the nose, which frankly exhibits an advanced degree of suidate prognathism— but there I go again. It would be as accurate, and more honest, simply to say you're sporting a regular oinker there—a steel ring wouldn't be out of place in it. But that can be fixed! Similarly, your frog’s chin, your Dumbo ears, your bloodhound eyepouches, your chimp's brow, and your slobbery, anteater lips can all be put in order, with the proper implants, rasps, and grafts.” “I want my vessel to, um, cleave the, uh . . .” “. . . Cleave the waves, yes. On life's adventure. That iguana neck could be reefed in. The sunken, orangutan cheeks can be implanted with honest bone.” “Can’t we just repair the prow?”
“Whatever you wish! We can give you a prow like Hercules, or a brow like Aristotle himself. Or any combination of features. The choice is yours. But you mustn’t decide on impulse. We want to be understanding, private, and supportive, in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere. Please take as much time as you need. Results may vary. Michelle”—this was directed at the Marilyn Monroe-Nefertiti cross behind the desk—“would you take our new friend on a guided tour through some of the options, please?” And he glided away in a cloud of cologne before I could fall down on my knees and beg him to choose for me. Michelle was a marvel of silicone and tissue-grafts in her own right, but for the moment I had eyes only for the display screen. It was an immense, wraparound panel on which a series of simulated faces, all blindingly beautiful, were projected. The features could be manipulated by means of a joystick. Michelle let me try first. I wasn’t very good at it; the noses all turned into grotesque excrescences under my hands. But the experienced Michelle (or maybe it was the software) produced a matchless array of noses with titles like The Sheik, The Knife Blade, The Merchant of Venice, The Conqueror, The Scholar, The Pugilist, and so on. I was particularly taken with a model called The Roman Patrician. I kept going back to that one. It was a prow to grace an ocean liner. A nose so noble and distinguished that ordinary people, I was certain, would fall back in awe at the mere sight of it. Yes, my mind was made up. The Roman Patrician was the one for me. “Wise choice, excellent choice!” Dr. Pettingil said an hour later as we stood before an eight-foot high, shimmering holograph of The Nose. “A very popular model. You have a good eye. The Patrician fits the underlying structure of your skull, such as it is.” “Thank you,” I said, blushing. “This nose can serve as a scaffold, or armature, or even an anchor, if you will, upon which to build the remainder of the face.” “Anchor! I like that nautical stuff.” “There is, however, something that must be understood,” he said.
He wouldn't do it! That is, he wouldn't do it right away. He told me, quite firmly, that reconstructive surgery was a solemn, momentous decision, to be made only after lengthy consideration. He said I had to think it over for a month, or at the very least two weeks, before he would consent to do the procedure. “You've lived with the face your Maker gave you all this time. Surely you can stand it for another fourteen days. Many people, in the end, choose to stick with their original physiognomy, no matter how unsightly, unfortunate, or repulsive.” I begged. I got down on my hands and knees—I'm not ashamed to admit it—and kissed his foot, as tears of yearning ran down my face. “I don’t need time to think it over,” I pleaded. “I want the Roman Patrician. I can't live without it! Please, Dr. Pettingil.” “I'm very sorry.” “I'll pay you anything! Anything!” “Perhaps it could be arranged,” he conceded. “You may make an appointment with Michelle for tomorrow morning, if you truly wish.” Oh, I did. I sobbed out my gratitude, and the contract I signed became so damp with tears that Michelle had to dry it out under a heat lamp to be sure the signature was legally legible. I camped on the doorstep of the clinic that night, and when Michelle opened the portals early the next morning I rushed in like a steroid-crazed fullback, shouting, “I'm ready! Make it happen! Transform me! I'm ready!” “Easy, tiger,” she said. She handed me a stack of forms—many, many forms—to fill out, and I signed over money—much, much money, for optional extras such as anesthetic and bandages—and then it was time. Michelle had never looked better as she gathered up the papers, and I reflected to myself that once I had my new prow in place, maybe she would look at me with equal interest. How could she resist the Roman Patrician? I remember very little about the actual surgery—mostly on account of the drugs that were given to me. Dr. Pettingil did not scrimp on the drugs, not a bit. No wonder he was Surgeon to the Stars. It all passed in a kind of blurry swirl and float and buzz—and that was just the pre-op conference. The actual procedure was simply
a black void. The last thing I remember seeing before going under was Pettingil’s motionless eyes, like plastic knobs staring over his surgical mask. His nose made a fine white prominence beneath the mask. Soon, I would have a nose like that.
When I came to, I had no idea where I was, who I was, or why I was so heavily bandaged. A huge white mound loomed before my eyes. After a long while clarity returned to me. I realized that I was in the clinic. That I was in the recovery room. That the job was done. And that the white thing in my vision was my new prow! Excitement surged through my blood like boiling acid. I lurched to my feet and staggered into the bathroom and clawed savagely at the bandages and—and then Michelle pounced on me from behind and pinioned my arms. “Oh, no you don’t,” she said, and wrestled me back to my hospital bed. She was strong. She tossed me down with easy contempt and wagged a forefinger at me. “No peeky!” she commanded. I was not to touch that bandage, she said, for at least seven days. I was not even to think about sneaking a look; she would stand guard on me twenty-four hours a day to make sure that I didn't. She wasn't kidding! She’d have made a great prison guard, that Michelle. Nothing got by her. No sooner would my hand make a surreptitious move towards the bandage, even in the dark, than she would slap it away and scold me. It pained her to do it, she said, but it was only to assure my comfort and support during my recovery, she said. And if I didn’t cooperate, I would be sorry. I cooperated. Seven days. It was agony. My new nose, my new prow—It!—was there within reach, covered only by gauze, and I couldn't even trace its shape with my fingertips. I was consumed with frustration and curiosity, but I forced myself to endure. And The Day did arrive, at last, as all days must. The formal unveiling was orchestrated for maximum effect. I was moved to a special viewing room with optically perfect mirrors. The Doctor himself came to unwrap me. His flesh was pinker and more radiant than ever, his sugarcorn teeth were on
full display, and his hair was as rigid as porcelain. “Michelle, hold him, please,” he requested. She gripped me from behind; my head was nestled between her breasts. And then, with calm, practiced hands, Dr. Pettingil began to unwind the bandages. The beautiful Michelle held me in a clinical, erotic embrace. The final strip of gauze came away, and at the last second, I clapped my eyes shut and turned away in a spasm of terror and dread. “Don’t be afraid,” Michelle whispered gently and squeezed my hand. “Open your eyes. Go ahead. Look. It’s you. It’s a new you.” “A new you,” Dr. Pettingil echoed. I looked. A strange, strangled scream tore loose from my throat. With bulging eyes I stared. MY GOD! My NOSE! It was EXQUISITE, GORGEOUS, MAGNIFICENT. It was more noble than the Ruggedly Handsome Man’s; it was more godlike than Dr. Pettingil’s! It was a MASTERPIECE! “I believe the procedure was a success,” murmured the good doctor, with quiet satisfaction. I wept tears of joy. Michelle held me steady, her breasts nuzzling my ears. I could hear the beating of her heart. As for my heart—well, I thought it would explode with happiness. I was released that afternoon, and returned home. Two, then three weeks passed. Gradually my tearful fits of joy dried up; slowly, I began to feel a gnawing unease, a disquiet I could not identify. I took to studying my reflection in the mirror, sometimes for hours on end. I found myself exploring not merely The Nose but the rest of my face. With mounting horror, I took it all in: the frog’s jaw, the Dumbo ears, the chimp’s brow, the bloodhound eyes. Nothing had changed. Except that now, in contrast beside the Nose of God, the remaining features had become not merely unsatisfactory but unspeakably HIDEOUS. “They’re intolerable!” I shrieked aloud one morning. “They’ve got to go!” Dr. Pettingil was gentle and understanding. Michelle, too, was an
angel of compassion. “It's a not untypical reaction,” she said, with a pitying sigh. “It’s fairly common, in fact, to feel as you do.” Dr. Pettingil added, “I went through something very like it myself.” He leaned toward me confidentially. “I originally went in for a simple chin augmentation.” His voice fell very low, and I swear a tremor, or a motion, or a twitch, or something, fleetingly animated his face. “I wanted to get into the movies, you know.” Michelle laid her soft hand on my arm. “For me, it started with just a tuck. Just one little tuck!” and a tear spilled over her artificial eyelid and down her reconstructed cheek. Dr. Pettingil shook himself and became the professional once more. He touched my face in a series of places. “The baboon cheeks can be rebuilt into something more human. The yak’s wattle under your negligible chin can be knotted tight. Your loathsome complexion can be masked by a series of injections. Your simian forehead . . .” Dr. Pettingil was generous, as I knew he would be. He gave me a discount because it was such a comprehensive job: the works, top to bottom, ear to ear. Soon—in no more than fifteen or twenty years, if my money holds out—Total Rugged Handsomeness will be mine. And—who knows?—so, maybe, will Michelle. I even got a bonus on the deal. Dr. Pettingil agreed to throw in the cerebral liposuction for free.
Mirage 2015 PRESENCE
There are not just two here now, the human viewer and the stone, but three: the first light that reveals them, each one to the other. 28
Mirage 2015 BOATS ON PARKER CANYON LAKE photograph
Mirage 2015 AVATAR metalwork
Lindsay Janet Roberts
Mirage 2015 DESERT HIGHLIGHTS photograph
Daniel N. Rollins
Mirage 2015 WHIMSEY ceramic
Mirage 2015 MISSION GIRL photograph
Mirage 2015 ANTELOPE CANYON oil
Debi Lee Hadley
Mirage 2015 BISBEE FALLS oil
Mirage 2015 WHITE BLOOMING CEREUS CACTUS photograph
Mirage 2015 COCHISE COLLEGE PIT FIRE PERFORMERS photograph
Mirage 2015 KEYBOARD Lynda Coole REFLECTION IN CHEAP SUNGLASSES photograph
Mirage 2015 OUR WILDERNESS
Seven small-town New Jersey cousins ventured into our wilderness, in reality, about one square mile of deeply ravined woodland, where no one on the outskirts of Trenton could manage to perch a house. It belonged to some obscure religious group which had erected crude wooden buildings on the woods’ edge and left the rest untouched. We considered it all ours, since they were usually rolling holy elsewhere.
We’d wander from the oppressive safety of our grandparents’ too-warm house, escape from the gathering of grownups, with their boring anecdotes and watchful eyes, to become ourselves in the excitement of the forest. Always something new—a lightning-struck tree, splintered and blackened, a new patch of unearthly plants, monstrous, soggy piles of leaves, their musty odors released by the latest deluge, taunting our nostrils. Enraptured each year by clusters of Jack in the Pulpit, conjured, we were sure, by the absent pious ones—hence the name. That delicate flower with its sinister life’s mission, its basin filled with fragrant liquid, attracting thirsty insects in. When bugs were sated, the bloom ensnared them within its slick-walled, lovely bowl. There they remained, slowly digested by the carnivorous plant. One of our many competitive games was to find the victims in the most grotesque state of partial maceration. Another was who could run the fastest and farthest into the darkest part of the woods, where ancient oaks arched out all trace of sunlight, without scaring ourselves so badly we’d have to emerge back into the relative safety of the group. Who could creep closest to the marsh, without succumbing to the parent-told fable of the girl who got too close and was gulped down by quicksand before anyone could respond to her pathetic screams. We all discovered much about ourselves in those years and those woods. Tested our resolve, our fleetness of foot, our daring, and our propensity for challenges. Now, the two youngest of us have gone beyond memories
of that place, or perhaps to where such memories are all that still exist. Those of us who remain on earth with that forest still think of it with wonderâ€” a magical realm for innocent seeking, since succumbed to adultsâ€™ reality.
Mirage 2015 HOW IS IT THAT THIS COMES TO PASS?
Our faces turning from a delicate layering of flesh along the bones to a terrain of rain maps fine rivulets, deep gullies on a parched desert.
It is not, they say, that the rivers of veins grow swollen and rise rather it is that the sensuous flesh withdraws and appears to resettle elsewhere. What was rounded and soft, or firm, muscular what thrilled the blood in our days of the green sap rising the geometry of flesh cannot remain. There is frost, blight, and drought. There is the natural order of things. We’re like the trees in their seasons. You can feel it now, can’t you—this pulsing in every living thing? Storms lie down on the contours of our faces, on our very bodies. Our beautiful hair grows sparse. We embrace the return of ancient injuries. Oh! I love you! Is the heart of the tree also like this? Bright green beginnings, golden flowering days, the red autumn glorious wind, the wild of winter, forgiving snow? I’m thinking of the deepest core of it—that part pulsing with forces. Let me remain strong that vultures find a home here! The sap rises every year. In the summer we danced. I am here now in that blaze just before the fall.
Mirage 2015 PLUNGE
Diagnosedâ€”a disease out of nowhere, I sit in my light-filled kitchen attempting to choke down some leftovers. Mental shuffling of internet information, printed pamphlets, grim pronouncements of the white-coated ones, all about a treatment that threatens to be more sinister than what it attempts to cure. My cat perches on the chair next to me, staring and purringâ€”to comfort me, I hope, though more likely lusting after the shrimp in my pasta. I pull one out to feed her, when without warning, a writhing, patterned curlicue plummets from the skylight, bounces once off the table, then lands at my feet, hissing and coiling. For a moment, Iâ€™m stunned into stillness. The feline, intrigued, leaps down to investigate. That thrusts me into motion. I grab the cat and shut her in safety, punch three numbers on the phone, then return with a broom to keep the poisonous one at bay until summoned officials arrive. A friend, upon hearing the story, says, Imagine how the snake felt. Yes. Somnolent sun-baking among tall grasses, snatched by a sharp-beaked creature, which, chased by a smaller bird, screeches, loses grip. The fall to the roof below, then the slither to a clear dome with a baby-snake-sized hole in its side. The wriggle through, the plunge into yet another fray.
Mirage 2015 THE ROADRUNNER’S TALE
I woke up early the other day and decided to take my coffee out in the yard. I settled down on the bench with my mug. I sat under the willow tree, which was just beginning to bloom. The flowers on the willow tree are my favorite—delicate and lacy, with a beautiful mix of lavender, pink, and white. The sun was just peeking over the mountains, and a cool, gentle breeze was beginning to stir. The first bees were buzzing around the flowers, and the dove and the quail were starting their day, flitting around the yard, stopping for a drink of water, and sitting in the trees talking about what a fine morning it was. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of movement. As I turned my head, I saw that it was a roadrunner. He had been sitting on one of the low branches in the pine tree and jumped to the ground and scurried after something. After just a few feet, he stopped. As he raised his head up high, I could see that he had caught a small lizard. The little critter struggled in vain as the bird snapped him up and ate him. I must have made a sound that got the roadrunner’s attention because he turned around and stared at me. As we looked at each other, I asked him, “Was that good?” Much to my surprise, he nodded his head and replied, “Yes, it was—quite tasty and tender. Just the way I like my lizard.” With that, he took a few steps and flapped his wings and flew up to perch on the arm of my bench. As I watched him, I suppressed a laugh. But not that well. Roadrunners are not the most graceful of birds at any time, and when they fly, it is a most pitiful sight. He gave me a dirty look and said, “What are you laughing at? Don’t you know that it’s rude to laugh at another’s misfortune?” I stuttered and searched for the right words, but none came. I was caught entirely by surprise. I had never come across a talking roadrunner, and I explained this fact to him and apologized as best as I could. Now, I know what you’re going say. I probably said the very same thing to myself. But not being one to shy away from
controversial subjects, and more than a just little curious, I asked him to please explain how it came to be that he was able to carry on a conversation with me. “I’ll be happy to do that, but you’ll have to excuse me for just a moment. That lizard was a bit on the salty side and quite dry as well. Just let me get a drink of water to wet my gizzard, and I’ll tell you the whole story. “Contrary to what most humans believe, most animals can speak quite well. We birds talk among ourselves all the time. Indeed, we birds are quite verbose, due largely to the fact that our penmanship is somewhat poor. Why, some of the greatest speakers that the world has known have been birds. This is a well-known fact. Most people don’t realize this because they make too much noise to hear us, or they are just too busy to listen to what we have to say.” “What are you talking about?” I asked. “I hear the sentry quail as they tell the covey that all is safe and well. I hear my hens when they brag about the fine eggs that they’ve just laid. And I hear the doves as they call to their mates.” “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get what you’re saying, but all that you really hear is just the big, loud stuff. You never catch the important stuff that we chat about all day long.” “Well, I’m sorry, I guess you’re right. If you talk to me, I’ll try to pay more attention.” “Alright. Fine. What would you like to talk about then?” “Well, to be honest, I’m curious about something, and I think that you might just be the one to set me straight. Can you tell me why, out of all of the birds in the desert, the roadrunner is the only one that can’t fly very well?” “As a matter of fact, I can. It’s a somewhat embarrassing story, but if you promise not to laugh, I will tell it to you.” “Okay. I promise.” “It was a long time ago. Long before the people came to the desert, so long ago that we animals were just beginning to make our homes here. We were all trying to figure our place in this new world.
“The birds, of course, took to the sky. The mice and the rabbits took to the fields to eat the grass that grew there. The dove and quail also chose the fields to eat the seeds from the grasses. The lizards, too, chose the fields and also the trees to eat the insects that lived there. The hummingbird and the bee and the long-nosed bat chose the air—all the better to feast on the nectar of the flowers. The coyote and the snake, of course, went where the mice and rabbits were. “Along with the hawk and the raven, my great-grandfather chose the air so that he could find his meals that much easier. Now, when my great-grandfather looked around, he realized that Hawk and Raven were much better at hunting from the air, and he decided that it would be best if he could run on the ground as well as fly in the air. He practiced hard, and he became a great runner and successful hunter. “One warm summer afternoon, Coyote, tired and hot from chasing his lunch, took a break and lay down in the shade of a mesquite tree. While he lay there, Raven landed on a low branch on the tree and asked Coyote what he thought of Roadrunner and his success in hunting. “‘Well, I personally don’t think that it’s fair,’ said Coyote. ‘I have to run around all day chasing my meal while Roadrunner can fly around up high until he spots his meal, and then he not only can swoop down from the sky but also chase the lizards under the brush and catch them.’ “‘You know what?’ said Raven. ‘You’re right; it’s not fair. But what can we do about it?’ “As they conversed, a plan was concocted. To understand what was going on, you first have to see that Coyote and Raven were not very nice guys. Coyote and Raven were petty and jealous. They would steal whatever they wanted without a second thought. They would do whatever they could to get their way. They knew that Roadrunner liked to spend his evenings down by the river, and they hatched a plan to get even with him. “Raven and Coyote were sitting on the warm sand by the bend in the stream where the water slowed. Studying the stars and speaking
softly, Coyote pulled a jug of Bacanora that he had found in the desert and hidden in the sand for a moment just such as this. Bacanora, as I hope you know, is Mexican moonshine. “When Roadrunner came by, as he most always did, they invited him to join them for a sip or two. As they waited for the moon to rise, the jug was passed around. “The jug was just about empty, and Roadrunner was quite drunk when the moon finally broke free of the mountain’s grasp and leapt, it seemed, into the sky. Coyote and Raven pounced on Roadrunner and proceeded to clip his wings so that he could no longer fly. “Coyote and Raven burst into a rude song as Roadrunner yelled and screamed nasty curses at them. Great-Grandfather jumped up in the air as high as he could and flapped his wings fiercely. Over and over, he tried and tried until, finally, in a fit of frustration and exhaustion, he flung himself to the sand. As he gasped and wheezed and tried to catch his breath, he slowly sobered up and came to understand just what a mess he was in. “That was the day that Great-Grandfather swore off hard liquor. And from that day on, we roadrunners have pretty much been grounded.” At that, the roadrunner stood up a little taller and looked to his left. “Now, if you will excuse me, I see a big, fat, juicy grasshopper over by that other willow tree, and I think he would make me a fine dessert.” He then jumped off the bench and ran after the grasshopper. He soon caught up with it. And, as he gobbled it down, he looked at me and flapped his right wing as though he were waving a goodbye. I watched as he sauntered across the yard, heading for the barn. He slipped through the hole that the ram had punched in the board by the door, and disappeared into the shadows. As I finished up my drink, I pondered on this rather odd meeting. And I came to this conclusion: I think that roadrunner was actually quite fortunate because I know for an honest and true fact that, when I drink too much Bacanora, I hear funny things, and I can hardly walk.
Mirage 2015 HORSE AND WILLOW TREE IN THE MOONLIGHT
Sung Dynasty 960-1280 A portrait of a well-fed horse shadowy black with white boots tail and mane of washed charcoal tethered with a slender stroke to a willow tree grazing at the ink-smudged spring-lush grass 47
Not a glamorous shape it has the grace of reality head bowed to the roots looking inward almost not truly seeing but full of tasting I should write a book someday Confessions of an Image Collector for this card has lived in a wooden box with many others for at least forty of my sixty-eight years Even now as it sits on my desk newly found and born again I love it the same as the day I first flipped through the card rack of a long-forgotten museum gift shop And felt my heart stutter and slow then rush up again to that force of unspeakable recognitionâ€”this is art â€”miraculous! And through all the centuries it sustains me!
Mirage 2015 MOON POCKET
“Moon Pocket, come back!” The volume and strain of urgency in my voice startled me probably as much as it did my saloon full of drinkers. Moon was one of my best customers. At least he always tipped well—that is, allowing for his meager budget. He left a quarter on the bar for every sarsaparilla he ordered. Yes, sarsaparilla. I tend bar at a saloon that serves some cola-corporation reinvention of that soft drink. It’s mostly tourist kids who get served the stuff, Sioux City Sarsaparilla, when hauled by their parents out of the highdesert sun into the cool stale-beer-scented air of our tavern. Kids are allowed in the bar during the day and early evening. The place can get pretty rough at night. There’s plenty of hard drinking in this bar, but Moon Pocket drank only sarsaparilla. I work in Tombstone, Arizona, as a barmaid—and now assistant manager—at Big Nosed Kate’s, a place laying claim to being “The Best Cowboy Bar in the West.” Coincidentally and somewhat unfortunately, my name is Kate. My nose, fortunately, is not all that big. A little long maybe, but not wide like that of the original Kate, who as the story goes, was the first woman of ill repute in the town and girlfriend to Doc Holiday. “She Loved Doc Holiday and Everyone Else Too,” reads one of our more prominent bar decorations, although I’ve read elsewhere that no evidence exists supporting the claim that Mary Katherine Horony Cummings was ever a prostitute. Lack of accurate historical evidence, however, never stopped this town from thriving on dubious legends and wild rumor. Sometimes I’m told, as I pour a beer for a new customer—always some guy without a wife or girlfriend by his side—that I look something like a dark-haired Barbara Streisand, a compliment I’m not always sure how to take. I’m a little sensitive about my nose, especially working at this bar with this name. Anyway, Moon came most nights, arriving early evening so as to claim the same stool, the one most tourists avoid if any other seat is available. But Moon liked to hunker down in the corner, up against the far wall, under the old dusty buffalo head. There, by the neon Miller High Life sign, Moon could be found (not that anyone
would be looking for him) sipping his sarsaparilla as he read and wrote, penciling in annotations in a book’s margins or taking notes in his dirty black leather-bound journal. If you’ve ever been in one of those best-cowboy-bars-in-theWest, our saloon is not hard to visualize—double swinging doors, squeaking softwood floors, walls decked with wild-west memorabilia: saddles, buckles, pistols, rifles, ten-gallon hats, the obligatory painting of the lounging nude. Ours even exhibits a dusty bison head, under which Moon Pocket sat, hunched over his book and dusty journal, dressed in his dirty black trousers, long grimy black coat, and worn black cowboy boots. He topped off his attire with a greasy black cowboy hat. From a distance, under the profile of the buffalo head with the sallow glow of the neon Miller sign haloing the faint but visible coating of dust on his dark attire, Moon’s figure resembled that of an unkempt sulking crow. In a town where at least half the local men outfit themselves as if extras in a spaghetti western, most customers glancing in his direction—unless they were regulars and had established a nodding acquaintance with Moon—wouldn’t have noticed the one unique aspect of his cowboy garb: the front of his hat. Moon avoided close contact with those of his own species, and most bar patrons—both tourists and regulars—steered clear of Moon. He didn’t smell that fresh, for one. For two, he wore a dirty 5” x 6” white card pinned to the front of his greasy black hat with bold but wobbly handwriting in black that read, WIFE WANTED. I encountered Moon a few times before I started tending bar at Kate’s. I spotted him while exploring Tombstone and the surrounding high desert with my now ex-husband after we first arrived in the area. Moon would be walking alongside the road with his unleashed dog and only companion. Horatio, a mid-sized mutt, perhaps a border collie mix, wore a coat as dark as Moon’s and sported a white patch on his chest. Horatio walked dependably close to Moon’s side. The pair presented a curious sight facing oncoming traffic. Moon would invariably be reading while he paced the side of the road, holding before him a hard-cover book of some kind,
his eyes focused more on the text than the path before him. From a distance, the two dark pedestrians, with Moon’s white card on his hat and Horatio’s patch of white on his chest, comprised a rather clerical spectacle. Moon, clutching his book against his chest as he strode the side of the road with Horatio, gave the appearance of a stern Western minister reviewing some verse of the Holy Book with his loyal deacon, Horatio, treading faithfully by his side. Later, when I made Moon’s acquaintance at Kate’s, I never heard him call Horatio using the dog’s full name. He elicited some appalled reactions from tourists in the form of censorious glances and mutterings when calling his dog: “Come, Hor.” Dogs are banished from the saloon. In fact, the sign outside the double-swinging doors reads, “No Horse Thieves, Card Sharks, or Dogs Allowed!” The sign, I understand, has undergone some revisions that may reflect a slowly evolving cultural sensitivity in this town “Too Tough to Die” that prides itself in hosting Helldorado Days. At one point, earlier in the previous century, the sign read, “No Horse Thieves, Chinamen, or Indians Allowed.” In the late 1960s, I’m told, it was revised to “No Horse Thieves, Card Sharks, or Hippies Allowed.” The current version at least has reduced its last discriminatory restriction to that of another species—the species, however, that Moon seems to prefer over his own. Nonetheless, Moon observed the rule, or rather, Horatio did, as he lay outside the double-swinging doors, patiently waiting for Moon to finish his last sarsaparilla. As I mentioned, Moon didn’t talk much. He pretty much kept to himself and Hor. Nonetheless, since I served him plenty of those sarsaparillas, I got to know him a bit as my nights at Kate’s wore on. For one, I learned how he got his name, or rather, how he re-named himself. He mentioned some book he had read in which one of the characters had, upon experiencing a seemingly fortuitous event during a time of distress, reassured himself and his comrades that they were now in “God’s pocket.” Moon commented that he had never particularly felt himself under the protection of divine providence or a recipient of its benevolence but had, on some occasions,
when walking at night with Horatio, felt some kind of consideration or at least acceptance of his existence on his piece of earth from the moon. He told me that he felt this most when this celestial body was in its waning phase. “I’m, at least, if not in God’s, sometimes in the Moon’s pocket,” he explained, turning back to make some note in his frayed journal. Despite the aversion I shared with my bar patrons over his offputting demeanor and aroma—not to mention the card pinned to his hat—in the few months I had worked at Kate’s, I’d developed a certain degree of something perhaps a bit more than tolerance for Moon. Perhaps it was his literary bent. I had graduated with an English degree from a small college back east, fallen in love—or so I understood the sentiment—with another graduate (he had earned an engineering degree), and moved to southeastern Arizona, where he had secured a position at the nearby military installation. It wasn’t long, however, before I began to distinguish the earlier sentiment for something else. It wasn’t long before he recognized another woman as something of an improvement over me. You know how these things go. Anyway, I read somewhere that desperation is the raw material for drastic change. I had the raw—very raw—material I needed at the time. Part of my change surfaced as a new attitude toward the terrain to which I had been transplanted. I decided I liked it out here. Something about the landscape, which I had first reacted to with aversion and referred to—in letters to my two friends—as “desolation warmed over,” started to appeal to me. I also grew fond of the eccentricity of living in a western “ghost town” alongside people who did not seem bothered by the irony of populating one. Moon and I had one thing in common: We both had been rejected by the local college. I had tried to get a job teaching there, and Moon had submitted some of his work to its literary magazine. Neither of us was successful. So I took the job at Kate’s, while Moon kept reading and writing—and here we were. I still am. Sometimes, after I had placed a sarsaparilla before him, Moon
would ask if I had read a particular writer or a particular work. I have to admit that, although possessing a masters degree in English literature, I am not nearly as well read as Moon, who seemed to have read everything I have and much more—and seemingly more deeply. Moon never attended college but once mentioned that one of his methods of self-education was to read the essays of Addison and Steele, copy them, turn them into poetry, and then back into prose. Moon would often knowledgably refer to a work with which I was totally unfamiliar or which I could only vaguely recall. I don’t know if I’ve given you enough background to put what happened that night into proper context. I’m not sure there is a proper context. But here’s the situation. It was Friday night, and the saloon was full. Outside, it was cold, but the late-fall desert wind that had swept dust and debris with relentless ferocity through the streets for the past several days and nights had died down, leaving our high-desert sky calm, clear, and shimmering with stars. Orion and his eternal cohort, Canis Major, were poised at the zenith. I know this, for Maggie, the other barmaid and assistant manager, had given me a break during which I took the opportunity to step outside the back door for a smoke. Maggie was about Moon’s age, perhaps a decade older than me. I will turn thirty in July. Maggie stood a few inches shorter than my five-foot-seven-inch frame. To tell you the truth—with her medium-length, curly red hair, ruddy complexion, and buxom build—she fit the stereotypical image of a seasoned Irish barmaid. Her education ended with graduation from the local high school. Like me, she was a childless divorcee. Unlike me, she had little interest in literature. Also, unlike me, she frequently called her customers “Sweetie” and “Honey.” She did so, however, in a smoky, brusque voice, much deeper than mine. Although she also served Moon his sarsaparillas, and I sometimes saw them engaged in some kind of conversation, I was fairly certain that their talks never centered on literature. I must admit that, although Maggie seemed more at ease with the culture of Kate’s and could interact with her customers in a friendlier and more intimate manner than I—she
made better tips—I couldn’t help but feel a bit superior with the education and literary interests that I shared with Moon. I assumed that Moon recognized and appreciated the difference. Inside, it was growing loud and boisterous, Kate’s patrons having had sufficient time to down enough of our wares to feel themselves, their fellow bar patrons, and life itself becoming more amusing and remarkable. What to a sober barmaid can appear as silly befuddlement can be experienced—I know from other experience—as an exuberant and mystic gaze into the hearts of oneself and one’s companions where one discovers goodwill and commonality in being human. Most of our customers had apparently reached this altitude. But not one fellow, as it turned out. As I reentered the saloon, Maggie was working the near end of the bar, so I moved down to the other, where, between Moon and Bill, leaning into the bar, stood a tall, bulky man I had never seen before. At first, he looked like a typical biker. Before I describe him, though, I guess I need to introduce you to Bill. He, like Moon, is one of our regulars. Being one of our regulars, however, is about the only thing Bill has in common with Moon. Bill seems to have a hard time keeping to himself. Unlike Moon, he is eager for attention. He dresses in imitation of Buffalo Bill Cody. He does not let much time elapse between his utterances, which most often center on the topic of which he is most fond— himself. I’ve worked long enough at Kate’s to have some experience with bikers, who often rumble into town, especially during Helldorado Days. Although often coarse and profane, they usually coexist peacefully with the mix of other tourists. If fights erupt, they normally occur between the bikers themselves—or, more rarely, between them and the self-styled cowboys who sometimes pit their own Silverado-and-Ram-pickup-style bravado against that of the Harley riders. The bikers usually swell into the bar in groups after a final rev of engines announcing their arrival. This particular biker, however,
appeared to be alone as he leaned against the bar between Bill and Moon. He sported a great untrimmed black beard, a filthy black bandana covering his head like a pirate’s, and the requisite black leather jacket dangling with chains connecting who knows what. As I approached, Bill motioned to me with his empty beer mug, indicating he was ready for a refill. I walked up to him, saying, “Sure, Bill,” and reached for his mug. My hand was suddenly arrested, however, by a hard grip on my wrist. Startled, I looked across the bar into a red-nosed, pock-marked face and beady eyes framed by black scraggly whiskers and his pirate-like bandana. Large yellow teeth were bared as he snarled, “I was next, Bitch.” He pulled my wrist down to clink Bill’s empty mug on the counter. “Isn’t that right, Cowboy?” the biker pirate scoffed, turning his snarl into a taunting challenge to Bill. What felt like the paw of a bear released its grip on my wrist. Blackbeard’s chain-enhanced chest was level with Bill’s head. The biker was not only tall but hefty, perhaps six foot six and weighing a good 270 pounds. Bill, who as I’ve indicated, was not usually at a loss for words, mumbled something like “I guess so.” Now, I’m not sure what came over me—I’m usually not physically or even verbally bold—but I shot back indignantly, “You’ll wait your turn like everyone else,” and reached again for Bill’s mug. More suddenly than it had sprung upon my wrist, Blackbeard’s bear paw was now closing around my throat. “You beak-nosed, ugly whore, bring me a double Jack Daniels now!” He released his hold on my neck, and I stood stunned for a second. With some vague hope for assistance, I turned to Bill. Bill caught my eye for a split second and then lowered his glance as if he had found something of interest to examine on the floor. Maggie, who was at the other end of the bar, turned off the music, and in an instant, the boisterous din of the bar vanished. The silence, however, was soon broken. A loud, clear, and confident voice rang through the room: “Well, boys, should we give a misguided youth a chance to apologize to this lady or just go ahead
and teach him a lesson?” The voice came from under the bison head, and I, along with all of the patrons, stared with amazement at Moon, who had risen from his seat, his hand resting on his journal. He looked like some public official taking the oath of office on a Bible. Something about Moon’s voice must have done it—a voice perhaps inspired by Moon’s reading of Henry the V’s speech inciting his men to battle at Agincourt. Whatever the cause, most men in the saloon—locals and tourists—rose, the only sound coming from the scraping of their chairs against the floor. Maybe twenty in all, the men stood, staring silently at the biker. Perhaps sensing the safety of numbers, even Bill rose from his barstool. Blackbeard turned in surprise to see a bar full of men standing in silence—apparently willing to take him on. His beady eyes surveyed the room for a moment, and in the corner of one, I saw the flicker of fear. “Fuck this!” he murmured. Without looking at anyone, staring straight ahead, his chains jangling, the biker made his way through the room to the double-swinging doors, shoved them violently open, and stepped outside. As the doors creaked back and forth, Moon sat down, and so did the other men. Maggie turned up the stereo. I shambled a couple of feet to Moon’s corner, put my hand over his, which was still resting on his journal, and stammered, “Thanks, Moon.” Moon didn’t look up. He just nodded and turned this attention back to his journal. I walked toward Maggie’s end of the bar, and as I passed Bill, I heard him mutter, “Sorry, Kate.” As I reached Maggie, she put her arm around my shoulder, asked if I was OK, and hearing me reply in the affirmative, told me to take another break. As I stood outside in back of the saloon once again, fumbling with my cigarettes and matches, I noticed Orion and Canis Major still overhead, and the waning moon rising over the Dragoon
Mountains. For some reason, I thought of Horatio lying out in front of the bar. I wondered if he had snarled when Blackbeard passed. What happened next fills me with humiliation every time I recall it, so I will attempt to tell it quickly and to the point—if there is one. Maggie was at the end of the bar replenishing Moon’s sarsaparilla. As I took my place behind the bar, Maggie approached me to ask again how I was doing. I was still shaken but recovering. The paw on my throat had scared more than hurt. Maggie and I switched places, and as I moved to Moon’s end of the bar and she the other, I noticed that Moon had been writing on a small piece of paper, not into his journal or books as usual. Two or three male customers approached Moon. They wanted to thank him and shake his hand. Moon turned in his stool and acknowledged their appreciation with lackluster handshakes and averted eyes. This was enough of a distraction for Bill, who reached over to snatch the piece of paper on which Moon had been writing. “Look, Katie, what we have here!” announced Bill, as he slapped down the paper in front of me. Written in Moon’s wobbly handwriting were the words “Will you marry me?” “Looks like you got yourself a proposal, Katie!” said Bill in a loud voice heard by most of the bar. “Whoo-hoo! Can’t wait to see the little Moonies you two will be a’hatchin’!” The drunken customers nearby joined in Bill’s laughter. And, sorry to say, so did I. As Moon turned to confront Bill and me, I said between nervous giggles, “Moon . . . just because you helped me out here . . . doesn’t mean I’ve fallen for you!” Moon took one long look at me, then at Bill, turned, gathered up his journal and books, placed a quarter on the bar top, and in a fashion similar to Blackbeard’s exit, walked to the swinging doors, looking straight ahead. Unlike the biker, however, he used just one hand to push aside one of the doors gently, holding his journal and books under the other arm. The door, unlike it did after the biker’s exit, swung little.
I stood still for a moment. Bill had stopped laughing. So had the others. “Moon Pocket, come back!” I yelled, as I made my way around the bar and then through the crowd. When I pushed open the double doors, neither Moon nor Horatio was to be seen. I spent some time looking up and down two side streets before giving up the search. I didn’t see Moon until late the next afternoon on my way to start my shift at Kate’s. He was walking ahead of me on the wooden sidewalk. He walked with a limp, and Horatio was not by his side. I ran to catch up to him, calling his name. When I did catch up, he turned, and I was stunned at what I saw. His face was misshapen by ugly black and blue swellings. One red bloodshot eye glared at me from under one of the worst swellings. “What happened, Moon?” my choked voice squeaked, as tears began swelling in my eyes. “Where is Horatio?” “The biker jumped me. He killed Hor,” Moon answered, turned, and walked away from me. “I’m sorry, Moon. I’m so sorry!” I yelled after him, too shocked to fully comprehend the situation or to chase after him. When I entered the saloon and had somewhat recovered from the horror of the sight of Moon and from learning Horatio’s fate, I found Maggie and began to report what I had just seen and learned. “I know,” she interrupted. “I know all about it. Moon and I will be leaving town next week.” “Moon and you?. . . Leaving town? . . .Together?” “Yes. The note was for me, Kate. I accepted.” Maggie explained to me that she and Moon had fallen in love over the last few weeks. She knew his drawbacks and what the rest of the town would think and say about their romance, so after she found Moon in the morning, gotten him some medical attention, accepted his proposal, and discussed things with him, they had decided that she would quit her job. They would head to Tucson, where they would marry and stay with her brother until they came up with further plans for their life together.
That night after my shift, walking home under the waning moon, I noticed the gleam of something white in the dust—a piece of cardstock. Turning it over, I read the words, in Moon’s unmistakable scrawl, WIFE WANTED. Later, I dreamt that I saw Horatio running down one of the Tombstone side streets. I ran to catch up with him, yelling, “Let’s get out of here, Hor!” We ran until the street ended. We continued running—now into the cold, empty desert toward the sliver of moon on the horizon. Then, somehow, Horatio and I were one, running on four legs. And something on four legs was chasing me. I came to a large fallen and hollowed-out cholla cactus and was surprised that I could squeeze into it. From inside, I could see that I had been chased by a coyote, who began clawing the end of the cholla, which now appeared to be as big as a hollow log. I looked to the other end to see another coyote, clawing. I was trapped. Clawing and crunching sounds grew louder and louder, and just before it seemed that claws and teeth would reach me, I awoke crying softly, “Moon Pocket, come back!”
Mirage 2015 FOLLOWING DADDY'S FOOTSTEPS photograph
Mirage 2015 SKY HOOK ballpoint pen
Russell (Catdaddy) Gillespie
Mirage 2015 LADDER oil
Yolanda ver der Lelij
Mirage 2015 VIC (VICTOR) POWER photograph
Mirage 2015 PIﾃ前N JAY photograph
Mirage 2015 SUNSET THUNDERSTORM photograph
Beth Ann Krueger
Mirage 2015 TORTOISE photograph
Jana Shephard Mardocco
Mirage 2015 YELLOW TAXI IN LOWELL photograph
Mirage 2015 CHIRICAHUA FOOTHILLS photograph
Mirage 2015 TLAQUEPAQUE oil
Debi Lee Hadley
Mirage 2015 KINGFISHER REFLECTIONS photograph
R. J. (Bob) Luce
Mirage 2015 ARRIVAL acrylic
Mirage 2015 NOT MY TIME
Cappy Love Hanson
Not your time, people have insisted, every time death has sent assassins.
When lifeguards dragged me from the deep end, where I’d thrashed in my just-learned Australian crawl, eyes clamped shut against the chlorine’s burning blur. Flailed to exhaustion, inhaled water. Then, face down on hot concrete, big hands forcing fountains out my mouth, retch, gulp of air, light. Not your time, kid. Years later, a distracted driver, looking right, turning left, screams of tires and twisting steel, shatter of glass, and then the paramedics rumbling up. No one alive in that little pickup, but later, Not your time. Sometimes the assassins struck within. Hong Kong flu hallucinations: dragons trying to gobble me alive. A medication reaction mimicking cardiac arrhythmia, face down on a scuzzy movie theater carpet. An ovary blowing up in midnight lovemaking, its ripped cyst pumping potential death from my diaphragm to my pelvic floor. Surgeon in the recovery room, Not your time. Food poisoning from bad bacon. Water poisoning from too much, from sluicing away my salts. Telling the 911 operator I might be having a heart attack because I thought I might and knew they’d roll the rural ambulance. And the driver, Not your time.
Sometimes the assassins were too big or too numerous to fight. My father sucking solace from a bourbon bottle and my body. Soul-squeezing, glass-ceiling professional prejudices. Love affairs that ate my heart raw. One day they’ll win. But for now, by dumb luck, medical miracle, the fortuitous alignment of stars and cards, playing the hand as dealt, playing it as it lies—by what my great-grandmother called sheer mule cussedness—I’m still here, ready for my next allotment of breaths, the next attempt on my life, and grateful every single day.
Mirage 2015 REMINISCE
Your resentment towards me Was like a strand of hair Growing slowly and so gradually That you didnâ€™t even realize it Until it wrapped around your ankles And tripped you.
Mirage 2015 AN AMERICAN SOLITUDE
Cappy Love Hanson
for Edward Hirsch Having quit the cactus garden, where Iâ€™ve spent this early-summer afternoon chicken-wiring to keep cottontails and jacks from gnawing the prickly pear for their watery caches, I stride out the field-fenced gate and breast waves of creosote that press their natural suit against our cleared caliche island. Like Wordsworth, I long to stroll the Lake District; like Beaudelaire, the Seine; like Eliot, the thronged bridges above the Thames. Here, monsoons are weeks away, the only water in sight a clutch of clouds across the valley, pleated like accordions, that spit dry lightning and wheeze thunder. I whistle no particular tune to my boot beats down antique deer and javelina trails, to the airy rhythm of my lungs, and mean to concatenate from these another cadence that the breeze will take up and amplify into a poem about mesquite dangling wizened seed pods against the sunset, while scaled quail gain refuge in the lower branches. But then the wind shifts, and like a tide cycled by the moon, the clouds heave to and sputter their electric death straight toward me. My impulse to keep my pace indefinitely dies as I turn back and tramp across the stony ground toward home, with its endless rivers of dirty shirts and dishes.
Mirage 2015 EN EL NOMBRE DEL PADRE
Julieta was stabbed to death by her ex-husband before sunrise. Since there was no police presence in the mountainous region of central Honduras, it was up to the village men to take matters into their own hands. They were planning an execution. As they huddled together out near the front gate of Julieta’s childhood home, their broad mestizo shoulders appeared to hold the weight of the full moon as it slowly rose in the eastern sky above San Javier. The men were farmers who grew coffee and frijoles on the hillsides. They were husbands, fathers, and community leaders who attended Mass each Sunday. Not one of them owned a gun. Instead they would use machetes and knives. The women stayed away as was customary. The act itself would never reach the ears of those who were not present. The men’s torches lit up the night sky, and the honey-colored bottles they passed around shimmered in the firelight. I knew from witnessing similar gatherings that when the alcohol took effect their somber tone would turn to wailing and shouting. People did not run from their crimes. Julieta’s ex-husband knew before he did the unthinkable that he would pay with his own life. Was he close enough to hear the men as their voices slowly rose with despair, anger, and fear? I wondered if he felt remorse and drank, too. Drank enough so that his fate would come like a hellish nightmare from which he’d never awaken. In some ways it seemed death pardoned the ex-husband. It was better than being ostracized or sent to prison, as neither is forgiving. For a while, I stayed in a town where a rural jail stood between the hill country and river community. The haunting moans that arose day and night from behind the adobe walls were a constant reminder that perhaps there was hell on earth. At least in death, God had the final word. I turned away from my thoughts and the men at the gate to lean against the entrance of the small house. The adobe felt cool. The scent of packed earth was natural and fitting for such an occasion. It was hot in the main room—the kind of heat that crawled over me and made my skin itch. I preferred standing on the porch. The
warm early evening breeze lightly brushed over my skin, sending goose bumps up and down my arms and across my chest. Earlier in the day my neighbor, Gloria, told me about the murder. She explained that Julieta had left her husband months before to live with her aunt in San Pedro Sula. Julietaâ€™s husband was known for drinking and beating his wife. Her family believed she would be safe, tucked away with relatives in the city. She had returned to San Javier to collect her two children from her motherâ€™s house. Julieta had been stabbed to death on the front porch where I was now standing. I reached out and touched the newly whitewashed wall. It was sticky. Someone had cleaned and painted the porch before people began arriving. Afraid I might cry, I abandoned thoughts of looking for traces of blood in the dirt at my feet. Death and stories of death were commonplace; from the young women who died in childbirth to the starving dogs in the streets, it seemed pervasive. And I was powerless against it. When I first arrived and witnessed something I could not tether to my own experiences, indignation would rise up from someplace inside myself I believed moral. I would often cry or rant or blame an unjust God. A wise friend, who observed my outbursts, finally had enough and told me the story of the ax. A small group of Catholic priests went to Africa, bringing food and the word of Christ. Once they were on the continent, they traveled three days on foot then two by boat before arriving at a village they believed was in need of their services. It was a peaceful village, and the people who lived there seemed to have everything they needed. After several days, the missionaries convened. All agreed there was little they could do to help the natives, until a young missionary mentioned a peculiar custom. It seemed before any work could be done, someone would approach the chief and ask permission to use the only ax in the village. The missionary confessed he had been spying on the chief and found that the ax was only granted to people who had been kind and respectful. The other missionaries scoffed at such a custom. How was anything to be built in a village that had only one ax?
The missionaries decided to send word back to Spain with a request for axes. When the axes arrived, the missionaries handed one out to each family. With their work done, the men set off on their journey back home, filled with pride and purpose. Years went by and the remarkable story of the missionaries was discovered in the archives by a young priest. He shared what he had found with the bishop and asked permission to go to the village where the first missionaries of their order had traveled. Once on the continent, he too traveled three days on foot and two days by boat. When he arrived at the site of the peaceful African village, no one was there. An old man appeared from the jungle and stood in front of the priest. When the priest asked what had happened to the peaceful people, the old man told him that the village had died long ago from greed, jealousy, and disrespect. This is not your ax, I reminded myself when I witnessed customs so different from my own that my emotions welled up inside me, threatening to spill out in hurtful ways. Julieta’s death and the impending murder of her ex-husband would change me in inexplicable ways, like countless other experiences I had cataloged during my travels. I would not tame or rescue Honduras; rather, it tempered me. From where I stood, I could see into the crowded salón. The whitewash was worn through in areas, exposing the adobe bricks. The dirt floor was packed from years of wear and tear. It had been swept clean earlier in the day before Julieta’s body was put on display. Not a thing hung on the walls, but there were plenty of holes suggesting that maybe Julieta’s mother had a box stored somewhere holding photos and trinkets she would take out much later to restore the house to its original purpose. Julieta’s petite, lifeless form was shrouded in thin white muslin and lay stiff atop a woven grass mat supported by a crude wooden frame. I could make out her features and the yellow striped pattern on the dress her aunt had chosen earlier in the day before preparing her niece’s body for the grave. Somewhere, I had heard people must
be buried within twenty-four hours. Bodies in that part of the world are not neatly packaged after someone dies. Decomposition poses a health threat. Fluids dripped from Julieta’s stab wounds and were absorbed by the dirt floor in her mother’s living room. I watched through the eyes of an ancient biology that understood what I was viewing was natural. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. But the sterile world I had come from had not prepared me for this truth. I thought of the juice stains and muddy footprints my sisters and I left behind on my mother’s carpet when we lived at home—when we were still girls. This was something entirely different. Behind Julieta, a framed close-up photograph of her as a girl sat on a lace-covered table illuminated by white taper candles. In the photo, her dark braid came over her left shoulder and rested just above her heart. The white collar of her shirt suggested she was wearing the national school uniform when the picture was taken. Firelight danced through the flowers, palm fronds, and grasses stuffed in enormous clay pots that rested on the ground next to the table. A thick musky residue of smoldering incense hung in the air. Grieving women on wooden benches lined the walls and the interior of the room. Their shoulders pressed together in solidarity. Those closest to Julieta reached out and stroked her. Julieta’s mother was bent over her daughter’s body—her right hand buried under the muslin near Julieta’s shoulder. With her eyes closed, she rocked to the rhythm of prayers. Her tears spotted the muslin like dew. The mourners were led in prayer by a weathered old woman who held an enormous cracked, leather-bound prayer book close to her chest. Her withered arms quivered in response to its weight. She wore a floral print dress that perhaps fit her when she was younger, but she had shrunk to the size of a child and reminded me of a little girl playing dress-up. She recited a line, and the women repeated her words. Their soft murmurs rippled through me in cadence with my own breathing. I had known nothing of the prayer book the year before when the same old woman led prayers for a young mother who died from
cancer. Having at least a small understanding of what I was witnessing comforted me. The prayer book had been left centuries before by the Spaniards. At the time, it was entrusted to a doña, a matriarch, in the village. The old woman leading the prayers did not open the book. She had never learned to read. Instead, the book and prayers, recited for years by her mother, had been passed down for generations. This was her legacy and an honor. Her Spanish was infused with an Indian dialect no longer spoken in the village. The Indians of long ago had left their mark on the Spanish priests’ prayers. No one seemed to question the strange words they chanted. I looked around for a place to sit. A little girl lay sprawled out on a bench right inside the door, and I reached in to tickle her feet. She smiled and moved to curl up on her mother’s lap. Bending down to grab my backpack, I was startled by a hand on my shoulder, but instantly calmed by the voice that followed. “Hi, Beth, sorry I’m late.” It was Sister Katherine, a friend of mine who lived in San Javier. She had been out of town and received news of Julieta’s death earlier in the day. I hugged her, and we squeezed in next to the little girl and her mother where the heat enveloped us. Katherine let out a deep sigh and patted my hand before producing a rosary from her skirt pocket. Minutes passed before the old woman set the book on a small table next to Julieta’s body, leaving one hand on the cover. Tapping it, she thanked God for the prayers and the women for bringing food. She stepped forward and motioned for all of us to follow her out behind the house to the kitchen. Sister Katherine took my hand, and we walked over to Julieta’s mother. The sight of Katherine sent the older woman into hysterics, and she collapsed in her friend’s arms. Katherine led the grieving mother to a bench. My Spanish often drained from me like water through fingers when my emotions surfaced. I wondered what Julieta’s mother thought of the güera—the white girl who did not speak. I was embarrassed for not having the words to express my
condolences and turned my attention to Julieta’s slight frame. She was like an exotic flower pinned under glass, beckoning me to examine her. I was drawn to the unsettling stillness. Her hair had been neatly combed and fanned out around her head like a dark halo. From a distance, the muslin hid her wounds. Up close, her thin arms were bruised. Her ex-husband had not come out of the dark wielding a knife; instead, there had been a struggle. Perhaps he had begged Julieta to take him back, or maybe he had forced himself on her and she had pushed him away. In any case, anger and violence had won. I looked at Katherine. “I need to get some air,” I said. Outside, the women mingled while motioning their husbands to come in for something to eat. Eventually, the women gave up on the men, who continued to pass bottles of liquor, and instead focused their attention on cooking and watching after the children. The scene was similar to funerals I had attended back home in Wisconsin, but the reality was something entirely different. The men were drunk beyond reason, while the execution of the guilty party loomed. Like Julieta’s violent death, the duty the men were obliged to carry out would change the fabric of the community in unpredictable ways. Two young children would grow up knowing their parents through stories and photographs. An eye for an eye is risky business, but I could not stop the inevitable, nor did I have the desire. My ideals were bound to a culture thousands of miles away. While I was still on the front porch, a young girl handed me a plate of food. “Buen provecho,” she whispered before skipping off—her giggles trailing behind her. I smiled, realizing I was still a stranger. Even after I had worked alongside the women in health education for nearly a year, they still didn’t know what to do with me. I am nearly six feet tall with green eyes and light hair—a curiosity to be studied among the short, stout women. But it was more than that. I was almost thirty, still single and, unlike many of the traditionally clad Catholic nuns I worked with, a laywoman who wore jeans and hiking boots. The women struggled to create a place for
me. They were gracious and helpful, but as the young girl who served me food reminded me, I was an oddity, an outsider. The frijoles smelled earthy and familiar. I gathered up my backpack and followed a footpath out behind the house in search of someplace quiet where I could take in the night. A lush meadow led to a silhouette of mountains that jutted out of the earth far up into the sky. I sopped up the juices on my plate with the remainder of a tortilla and left the empty plate teetering on a fence post before walking out past a small cow pasture into the field until the sound of mourning women faded. I had given up most creature comforts shortly after I arrived in Honduras, but the habit of looking for them remained. I searched figures in the darkness for a log or tree stump to sit on. Instead, I spotted a boulder that must have been brought to its resting place, as it was the only one in the meadow. The moon was full and impregnated with the wisdom our natural world craves. I was not alone. The farther I walked from the house, the closer I was to everything wild. The ruckus of birds and the rustle of ground animals in the tall grass heightened my senses. I belonged among the things that once terrified me. Resting my back against the boulder, I lifted my skirt past mid-thigh and set my legs down in the cool, damp grass. I had never met Julieta, but I grieved for her. She was part of an intricate web so tightly woven that her absence had already begun to erode the peacefulness and wellbeing of San Javier. The shouting, like the howling of wolves, coming from the men who continued to drink, was proof of that. These mountain villages were small and isolated. People relied on each other. They also relied on the stories of their ancestors and their belief in God to make sense of the world. Those who had suffered such a heinous end as Julieta were elevated to near saintly status. Her life was not in vain. There would be lessons shared in her name. The first day I arrived in San Javier, the church bells were ringing at San Ignacio, a tiny Catholic Church near the crossroads at the
edge of town. I wondered why bells would toll in the middle of the afternoon. That evening, I attended the service for the young woman who had died of cancer. The bells had been for her. I listened closely, and a faint sound rode on the breeze—the bells tolling once again at San Ignacio—this time for Julieta. The air cooled, and the moon filled the sky with light. I pulled my knees close to my chest, and from my backpack, I dug out the rosary that Sister Katherine had given me. I wrapped the silver beads around my wrist and pinched the crucifix between my fingers. I sent my prayers for Julieta upward beyond the stars. En el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo. Amén.
Mirage 2015 ORIGAMI TEARS
If my tears turned into origami cranes, I would cry one thousand & then wish to never know you.
Mirage 2015 PRELUDE TO A STORM
Beth Ann Krueger
White maresâ€™ tails Paint an azure sky Arms rise to the beauty Sharing with one Who walks in clouds
CREATIVE WRITING CELEBRATION WINNERS
Presented in this section are the winning entries of the Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration, 2014, in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
Mirage 2015 WORDS THESE DAYS
First Place, Poetry Competition Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration, 2014 We pass words with our palms faced down. So listeners cannot see that the deck is worn. As if the string of noises is all that is required. And the breath in the words just boring detail. We flourish words in a fan that aligns all the corners but shows no face cards. Our wagers hide our uncertainty and bluff plays we have yet to realize. Just more losses thrown into the pot. Letting it rot. Without sight or breath. Or palms touching.
Mirage 2015 COMMUNITY SERVICE
First Place, Fiction Competition Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration, 2014
The final class of heavyweight crossbred hogs floats out into the small outdoor grassy arena. The daylight has faded to the early evening glow that movie directors call the magic hour. Auburn, black, and white hides gleam with oil. A cloud of gnats is stirred up by their hooves. Soon a flickering halo of tiny bugs surrounds the animals and tickles our eyelashes. Excited pigs cavort in the cool September air. In the porcine world, playtime means a hockey game—a fight is always breaking out. Burly ring stewards with dirty knees make sense of the chaos with solid boards to separate brawlers. A fearless hundred-pound youth is pulled aside by an attendant as he attempts to get between a pair of two-hundredand-seventy-pound animals with poor eyesight and sharp teeth. The boy's freckled face shines with sweat after the effort to protect his gilt. As soon as the board is introduced between the squealing pigs, they drop the dispute. Once they cannot see or smell each other, the fight is forgotten. The white barrow now sports fresh red streaks on his side as he roots off through the freshly mown grass and tries to lie down, exhausted from the skirmish. The boy's black and white gilt races off to start yet another scuffle. Her grunts of “wheh, wheh” warn the next victim she is coming. A white hog races across the grass toward a group of pigs meeting and greeting. His trajectory is as straight as a cue ball. The group of pigs bursts apart like a racked set of billiard balls. A little girl with greenribboned pigtails is knocked over by her copper gilt and comes up with brown splotches on her crisp white shirt. The pungent manure is ever present, and none of us can smell it anymore. We can smell the glorious greasy food. The swine show commences at five p.m. on the first Thursday of the Cochise County Fair. By the time the last championship class starts, the audience is starving. The exhibitors sniff the air, and the exhibits themselves trail ropes of shining saliva. The oil from the concession stands is still new, and the perfume of corn dogs, funnel cakes, and
fry bread surrounds us and whispers to our noses, blowing soft kisses to our lips. My mouth waters. The statuesque judge takes command of the class and reduces the field down to the first place animal. The parents, grandparents, and community all murmur while seated on bleachers, sitting cross-legged on the grass outside the ring, or standing behind the fence. Following each class, the audience discusses and dissects the judge's choice. Everyone will be talking about it for weeks, even years. Doubts surface about a woman's capabilities in such matters. Her Irish gift of gab tells us her red hair is not from a bottle. Children under eight are too young to exhibit animals, so they are relegated to Frisbee, football, and tag, all played at once on the grass behind the bleachers. Their shouts and laughter are muffled beneath the crackling loudspeakers. Little nippy Jack Russell terriers, lumbering gentle-eyed Labradors, or crafty black and white border collies are included in the games and are able players. They also act as a quick clean-up crew for dropped or vomited food, a common problem for the under-eight crowd after enjoying that sickening pink candied corn. The crowd knows why I'm here. I am observing the show while leaning on a cottonwood tree next to the show arena. Sporting a pair of pig-feces-colored coveralls, I hold a long wooden broom handle fitted with a cup holder. My community service is about to begin. I am the ethics police. After the class, I will collect urine from the champions for drug testing. I am flanked by my team of veterinary students. These future professionals are so enthusiastic about their calling that they volunteered to collect pig pee. Using big words and gloves makes it a professional event. Every year, drug testing at the tiny county fair is the hardest thing I will do. This year is proving to be no exception. The champion of champions will stand for thirty minutes worth of pictures with the proud boy, the beaming family, the smiling judge, and the newspaper. To keep the pig standing, he will be fed out of a dish the entire time. There is a string attached to the dish so it can be towed around into this or that position. I know that I and my urine
sampler will not be a welcome intrusion. I restrain myself and my two rabid students as his sparkling stream trickles in between flashes onto the piece of AstroTurf set up for the photographer. The most difficult aspect of swine urine collection is excruciating boredom. It can take hours. I always memorize jokes for the kids and crew, as the process can stretch long into the night. The boy is shaking hands with the judge when the hog discovers a puddle where water has drained from the wash rack just behind the photographerâ€™s backdrop. Worn out from his hour of fame, the pig drops to his white knees into the black mud. The family and boy rush to his side, trying to stop the inevitable crash of the massive white hams wavering above the slop. With a deep sigh, he falls over to his side with a loud slap, all four legs stretched out straight. Black droplets splatter his human entourage. The hog whispers a few grunts of contentment and then settles into deep rhythmic breathing. Postprandial nappy time has arrived. Despite gentle nudging and offers of food or water, the white mountain of pork does not move. The champion needs his beauty rest. I settle onto a bale of hay and wait. There will be no cheating on my watch. "Johnny! Where's Johnny?" I hear yelling behind the bleachers. "I told you to watch your brother, Goddamit. Where is he?" The shouts dissolve into a scream. Strength of Scene My scene is rich in all five senses. Something is going to happen; Johnny is missing. It is astonishing how few readers are familiar with rural life. How did the kids raise the pigs? You can't just carry a pail out into a pen; they will eat you if you fall. When parents go to the fair, they are focused on the show. Child predators are not. All those unattended children are available for the taking. In the midst of an idyllic setting, the show management is aware that the competitors will cheat; ironically they have ignored that there are worse things to fear. Were you surprised?
Mirage 2015 KOREA
Deseret F. Harris
First Place, Nonfiction Competition Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration, 2014 Kathryn’s hands fluttered about, patting one child gently on the back, holding a board book for another. She paused to lift a child up onto the church pew and then dug into the diaper bag for Cheerios. She held a finger to her lips to quiet her oldest, who had gotten a bit carried away playing with a toy car, then deftly grabbed her second youngest as she bolted for the aisle. Even after her brood had calmed somewhat, momentarily content to suck on fruit snacks and crayons, her hands rubbed against each other as though she couldn’t bear to leave them empty. Delicate hands that easily switched from wiping tears to sketching Teddy bears, from whispering secrets in ears to tickling tummies, seemed far too small to manage four children aged one through seven alone. Her capable hands never stopped moving. An elegant watch, a stylish bracelet, an expensive wedding ring, and short but carefully shaped and painted nails that matched her lipstick and coordinated with her dress adorned these hardworking, capable hands. Close examination revealed painful chapping from daily four a.m. exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals and rough scrub brushes while her children and sister slept. Distance hid the reddened fingers and palms, the split skin at the joints. The service ended, and Kathryn’s hands guided her older children to their various classes and then returned to the pew to gather an hour’s worth of debris into the diaper bag and collect the baby’s car seat. She balanced the baby in one arm and her supplies in the other as she sidled into her own class, late. With a sigh, she sank into the nearest chair and lowered her load. Exhausted, somehow she managed a smile for her neighbor, who offered to take the baby. Empty once more, her hands fidgeted, digging under nails for invisible dirt, plucking lint off her skirt, and massaging sore knuckles. Gradually her movements slowed and became smaller as her fingers spun her wedding ring around and around. Eventually her hands stilled, clutching each other in her lap until even that tension ebbed, and they lay trembling, right cradled within left, bereft.
Mirage 2015 BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
Steve Bovée continues to reside in Cochise County, despite the pleas of the local residents.
Richard Byrd is sixty-six years old and has done photography since he was eight. He still has his original camera, a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. He had everything from Instamatics to Hasselblads but now finds that capturing a meaningful moment, whether in a portrait or a landscape, is more important than high resolution with a full range of tones. He now shoots with one digital camera with one lens. Leslie Clark worked as English faculty at Cochise College for several years. She retired in May 2013 after forty-one years of teaching English and is enjoying her reading, writing, and traveling time. Her poetry and short fiction have been widely published, and her poetry chapbook, Cardiac Alert, was published by Finishing Line Press. Leslie is editor/publisher of an online poetry journal, Voices on the Wind. Lynda Coole humanely shoots a lot of musicians in the Cochise County area. Lavendra Copen grew up on the cattle-ranching, alfalfa-growing dirt roads of Cochise County. After college in New Mexico, her life took an abrupt turn that landed her in the maelstrom of New York City. The Big Apple cost her a husband but blessed her with a daughter and two granddaughters. Now she lives and works—and hopes to stay—in the more peaceful Huachuca Mountain foothills. Lynn Dottle grew up in The Valley of the Sun, a.k.a. Phoenix, Arizona. She spent twenty-one years as a full-time Army wife and mother, and worked in the business world. With a muse for all things creative, she keeps her hands busy taking classes at Cochise College, and dabbling in clay, watercolor painting, and photography, along with a variety of other creative endeavors. Lynn
lives in Sierra Vista and loves family, friends, and adventures. Georgia Dust thrives in the high-desert, wild-west town of Tombstone, Arizona, where, in her private theater, she produces and directs plays of her own creation. Her literary criticism and political texts reflect an abiding empathy for the poor. Happiness, for her, is to love and be loved. She asks no one to walk in front of her, for she may not follow. She asks no one to walk behind, for she may not lead. Michael Erickson’s grandfather passed on to him his love for writing and storytelling. His parents encouraged him in his passion for music and history. He and his family are long-time residents of Hereford, Arizona. You can most likely find him in his studio writing and recording his stories and songs. He claims, “Most of my stories are true.” Judy Fitzsimmons’ ceramic work demonstrates her many years of working in the field. She started attending art and ceramics classes in 1996 at Cochise College. She has continued to love and learn the craft of ceramics by attending advanced ceramics studies at Cochise College and numerous visiting-artist ceramics workshops in Arizona and at Santa Fe Clay in New Mexico. Karri Fox, originally from Tooele, Utah, has lived and worked in the Sierra Vista area for twelve years. She graduated from Cochise College with an AA in mathematics and from U of A South with a dual-major BS in mathematics and computer science. Her hobbies include photography, drawing, and playing the piano. Gloria Fraze grew up in the San Francisco Bay area surrounded by nature, ocean, and hills. She has always loved art and photography, but it wasn’t until retiring to Arizona in 2005 that she had the opportunity to explore its incredible desert geology. Her photography reflects her love of both areas. She works hard to capture every
image as a reflection of what her mind sees at the moment the shutter opens and closes.
Russell (Catdaddy) Gillespie graduated with a BFA from Arizona State University in 1981. Over the years, he has had several group, two-man, and solo exhibits throughout Arizona and New Mexico. He has taught air brush at Eastern Arizona College and is currently showing his work at Hoppin’ Grapes in Sierra Vista as well as at Magnetic Threads and Heather Green Studio and Gallery in Bisbee, Arizona. Michael Gregory’s books and chapbooks include Hunger Weather 1959-1975; re: Play; and, most recently, Mr America Drives His Car, Selected Poems, published last year by Post-Soviet Depression Press. Since 1971, he has lived off-grid ten miles from the US-Mexico border in the high-desert grassland of southeast Arizona. “The Blessed Suso” is from his Pound Laundry (forthcoming from PSDP), a book-length poem based on the life and work of Ezra Pound. Debi Lee Hadley was born in Taylor, Arizona. Her love for the outdoors inspires her art. She has experimented with clay, paint, varnish, and more unconventional materials, producing imaginative scenes with raised and carved features, resulting in tactile, three-dimensional surfaces. Debi has expanded this technique to headboards, doors, and wall art. She is currently a member of the Huachuca Art Association and has art featured in Fifthwinds Gallery, Quarles Gallery, and Sparks Furniture. Cappy Love Hanson has been shaped by three distinct lives: on the California beaches, in the New Mexico mountains, and in the Arizona high-desert grasslands. Her work has appeared in Writer’s Digest, The Santa Fe New Mexican, Blue Mesa Review, New Millennium Writings, CutThroat, and other publications. She has just published a memoir, Love Life, with Parrots.
Deseret F. Harris earned a bachelorâ€™s degree in English at the University of Arizona. She began writing poetry at age five and loves expressing her thoughts and emotions through language as well as music and dance. She and her husband of twenty-one years, David, have two children, Morgan and Liam, and a dog named Gigi. John Hays was born in Texas and has degrees from Northern Arizona University and Brown in geology and planetary science. He stumbled into photography after the death of his parents on Thanksgiving several years ago. He started with skies (sunrises and sunsets) and photographed his children's cross-country and track teams. He continues to shoot the skies of Arizona and photograph people. Trinity Higgs is nothing but a bug trapped in amber, as are we all. Beth Ann Krueger has been writing for as long as she can recall. Her works include essays, short-short stories, and nonfiction articles. Poetry is a new venture for her, and she credits this to a very inspiring person in her life. Her photos have been in several Arizona and Montana galleries, and many have also been published. Beth Ann has a wilderness first-responder certification and enjoys hiking, reading, camping, and birding. Sharon Lee was born in the shadows of NYCâ€™s skyline and was educated at Pratt Institute and Penn State University, where her love of art, nature, painting, and photography emerged. With camera always in hand, Sharon captures landscapes and people with the intent of telling a story. Several years ago, she moved to Bisbee, Arizona. She is an active member of her community, participating in local art shows while supporting community artists of all disciplines. Marcela Camarena Lubian is a self-taught acrylic painter. Her wildlife, floral, and landscape paintings present a rich collection of
vivid Mexican colors. Her connection to her heritage inspires her to represent her passion for it on canvas.
R.J. (Bob) Luce was a wildlife biologist in Wyoming before retiring to Arizona. He lives near the San Pedro River and photographs the river and its environs in all seasons. Bob has provided photos for books, outdoor magazines, and wildlife field guides. He has written a photo-essay book: River of Life, Four Seasons along Arizonaâ€™s Rio San Pedro. Jana Shepard Mardoccoâ€™s first experience with photography came in the form of a film-development class taken by mistake, but after working in the darkroom and developing film, she was hooked. This accidental class opened a door into a new world, giving her the chance to capture what she sees. She has since enrolled in more photography classes and hopes to further her love for the art and make a career of it. Larry Milam has enjoyed living in Old Bisbee since 2000. He is a freelance illustrator and creates artwork for both national and local clients. Hiking, photography, and printmaking are a few things he does for the fun of it. Sara Nolan is an associate instructor for Pima, Eastern Arizona, and Cochise colleges. She has taught computer science, digital photography, and nursing courses. She currently teaches at Cochise College, Willcox Center, as a CNA instructor. Sara has been a photographer for over forty years. Active in the Willcox Art Society until recently, she has received several awards for her nature photography. Photographs in this issue are from a one-day drive to Chiricahua National Monument. Ruby Odell has been writing poetry since the late 1980s. In 1991, she joined a poetry circle headed by Peter Levitt in Los Angeles. She was selected three times to attend Squaw Valley workshops led by
Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, and Lucille Clifton. She has lived in Bisbee for three and a half years with gratitude for the love and energy of the many artists, poets, and musicians who share their art with such commitment. Beth Orozco holds an MFA in creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University. She teaches creative writing at Cochise College and UA South. Beth splits her time between Sierra Vista and Animas, New Mexico. Angie Rivas was born and raised in Douglas, Arizona, in Cochise County, land of breathtaking sunsets and moonrises. After graduating from Douglas High School, she attended Cochise College, where she took many photography classes. Angie captures the beauty of chollas, yuccas, and prickly pear cacti. She has a passion for the night-blooming cereus (pictured), a unique cactus whose flower blooms only at night, and one night only. Angie lives in Sierra Vista. Lindsay Janet Roberts earned a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design in 1980 and an MEd from the University of Arizona in 2009. She teaches art at Bisbee High School. She lives and breathes art. She also has a huge passion for recycling, so much of her work is made from recycled materials. Daniel N. Rollins has had no formal education in photography or art; however, his photographs and artworks have received numerous local awards. He began with film cameras early on and then switched to digital imagery several years ago. Now, he considers himself one of the emerging unknowns who are creating digital works of fine art. His unique eye recognizes the unordinary, and his photography catches the extraordinary. Nischa Roman is a recently retired energy healer and counselor living in Bisbee. She is excited to have more time for creating abstract
paintings, unusual collages, and new books. Designing wild alterations to old books, sardine cans, chairs, and lawn flamingos helps channel her inner child's rowdiness constructively. Her art has been shown in Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona.
Lars Samson is a retired technical writer and former newspaper reporter and editor. As a journalist, he was a reporter/photographer for the Beloit Daily Call, editor-in-chief of the Eastern Arizona Courier, and a reporter for the Phoenix Gazette and CityLife magazine. Lars resides on twelve acres near Whetstone, Arizona, with two dogs and whatever wildlife happens onto the ranch. He has bachelor degrees in journalism and U.S. government from the University of Arizona. James Schrimpf is a Nogales photographer who has been published in Arizona Highways and was a cover photographer for Discover Southern Arizona. His photographs were featured during the annual Chicago Artist's Month. His Icons and Totems series was displayed in a one-man show in Santa Cruz County. His photos were published by Nikon Camera Corporation. James was a high-school photography teacher for twenty years. Bonnelyn Thwaits is a rural veterinarian for all creatures, large and small. She has lived with her family at their ranch in Benson, Arizona, since 1998. Bonnelyn is grateful for the tremendous support of her mentors, teachers, and long-suffering husband. She is blessed be living a charmed and joyful life in a caring, sometimes crazy community. Rebecca Tyler is an artist with a heart for natural-light photography. She has the ability to see beauty in everything she observes and everyone she meets. From landscapes to the details of the day to special moments shared between loved onesâ€”through each experience capturedâ€”her images share unique stories of life.
Yolanda van der Lelij was raised in the Netherlands. She came to the USA in 1994 with her family to farm in the Willcox area. She developed an interest in painting four years ago and took courses at Cochise College in Willcox. She has attended workshops from Clement Scott and Glenn Renell. She likes to paint in oils with a focus on objects and still lifes. This year she plans to do more pleinair. Louise Walden was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1952. She and her husband, Jim, moved to Willcox, Arizona, in 1990. In 2010, she attended a one-day watercolor workshop and started pottery classes at the Bucket List Studio in Willcox. In spring of 2011, Louise signed up for Painting for Personal Pleasure classes at Cochise College, taught by Karina Stanger. Louise still paints regularly and takes workshops when she can.
Mirage 2015 SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
General Information: Submissions are accepted from Cochise College students and residents of Cochise and Santa Cruz counties in Arizona. All entries must be the original work of the person or persons submitting them. Each person may submit up to five pieces of writing and five works of art, all of which must be submitted digitally. 99
Writers and artists who wish to have their works considered for publication must submit them for the year in which they are solicited. The Mirage staff will evaluate only works submitted specifically for the upcoming issue of the magazine. Writers and artists are welcome to resubmit material that was not previously accepted for publication in Mirage. However, they should also consider submitting fresh works that represent their most recent and accomplished artistic achievements. Works are selected for publication via an anonymous process: Each submission is judged without disclosure of the writer’s or artist’s name. The staff of Mirage reserves the right to revise language, correct grammar and punctuation, revise formatting, and abridge content of any literary work, including the biographies of writers and artists. In matters of mechanics and style, the Mirage staff defers to A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers. The staff also reserves the right to crop, re-size, and modify works of visual art in any way deemed necessary to ready them for inclusion in the magazine. Submissions will not be returned.
Requirements for All Submissions: All submissions must include a cover sheet with the following information: • • • • • •
submitter’s name address phone number email or fax number a list of the titles of all works a brief autobiographical statement of seventy-five words or fewer, written in the third person
To preserve anonymity during the selection process, no name should appear on the entry itself. The Mirage staff acknowledges receipt of literary and artistic works by email. If you do not receive an email acknowledgement within a week of submitting your work, it is possible that your submission was not received, and we suggest that you contact Cochise College by phone for verification at 520-515-0500. Requirements for Prose: Prose must be submitted as Microsoft Word document files, using Times New Roman font, size 12. Prose must be double spaced. Unless unique formatting is integral to the piece, literary works should be aligned on the left margin and not printed in all upper-case letters. There is a 4,000-word limit for prose entries. Requirements for Poetry: Poetry must be submitted as Microsoft Word document files, using Times New Roman font, size 12. Single spacing is permissible for poetry. Unless unique formatting is integral to the piece, poems should be aligned on the left margin and not printed in all upper-case letters. There is a 2,000-word limit for poetry entries.
Requirements for Visual Art: Artwork and photographs must have titles or must be identified as “Untitled.” If necessary, artists should indicate correct orientation. When taking photographs of artwork for submission, pay attention to lighting and orientation in order to prevent shadowing, glare, skewing, or unintentional cropping. 101
Artwork and photographs must be sent as digital files. Compression: Please do not compress photos when emailing them. Compressed photos lose information that cannot be restored. It is not like zipping or stuffing files; photos cannot be “unzipped” or “unstuffed.” Many programs will automatically downsize photos for emailing and viewing on a computer screen, but there is usually an option for sending the photo without reducing its size. Please choose that option. Resolution: Printing on a press requires high resolution: What looks good on a computer screen or from a laser printer will not necessarily look good when printed on a press. An image copied from a webpage will not have the proper resolution. All images need to be at a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch (DPI) and at 100% of their original size. Photos should be at least 6 x 9 inches. A minimum resolution of 1800 x 2700 pixels in JPEG format is best. If, for example, a photo is only 480 x 640 pixels, it is too small for the magazine. Furthermore, any attempt to resize or resample may cause problems because print resolution will be determined by how the photo is ultimately sized for the magazine. IMPORTANT: Unless digital photographs of art are submitted according to the guidelines above, the magazine cannot use them.
Where to send submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org