Conceptions Southwest 2020

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conceptions southwest • 2020



Conceptions Southwest 2019-2020


Copyright © 2020 Conceptions Southwest Published by the Student Publications Board University of New Mexico All rights revert to contributors upon publication issn 1048-8790 c/o Student Publications msc03-2230 University of New Mexico Albuquerque, nm 87131-0001 Printed by Starline Printing 7111 Pan American Freeway NE Albuquerque, nm 87109 505-345-8900 Cover Image: Corpus by Genevieve “Jon” Hartsock Fonts: Sofia Pro, Sabon LT Pro, and Odisseia. Conceptions Southwest is the fine arts and literary magazine created by and for the University of New Mexico community. Its staff consists of undergraduate and graduate student volunteers and is directed by an Editor in Chief selected by unm’s Student Publications Board. Submissions are accepted from all unm undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students; faculty; staff; and alumni. This issue is brought to you by the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico (asunm) and the Graduate Professional Student Association (gpsa). Copies and back issues are available in the Daily Lobo Classified Advertising Office, Marron Hall, Room 107. The Conceptions Southwest office is located in Marron Hall, Room 225. To order copies of our magazine, please contact us at csw@unm.edu or visit our website at www. csw.unm.edu.


Conceptions Southwest

to art, and to you.


masthead Grace McNealy

Editor in Chief

Daniel Morales Advertising Staff Eric Barragan Art Staff Loreena Cain Art & Literature Staff Sarah Durand Art & Literature Staff Micah Glidewell Art & Literature Staff Alan Mena Art & Literature Staff Stella Perry Art & Literature Staff Alex McCausland Editorial Assistant Jeanette DeDios Editorial Staff Oluwaseun Oyeku Editorial Staff Sierra Martinez Production Staff Joshua Tise Production Staff

special thanks Anita Obermeier & the Department of English Susanne Anderson-Riedel & the Department of Art Student Publications Staff: Daven Quelle Business Manager Carolyn Souther Unit Administrator Student Publications Board: Brendon Gray asunm President Representative Makayla Grijalva spj Student Representative Amaris Ketcham Chair, unm President Representative Benjamin Lane asunm President Representative Sammy Lopez New Mexico Press Association Representative Cindy Pierard Vice Chair, Faculty Senate Representative Ryan Regalado asunm Senate Representative Tasawar Shah gpsa Representative


from the editor I

t’s safe to say that this has been a year of challenges for Conceptions Southwest. From fighting attempts to defund student publications at every turn to a release put on hold by global crisis, making the magazine that you now hold in your hands (or read on a screen) has been an uphill battle—but it has been a battle well worth fighting. It is easy to lead and stand by Conceptions Southwest because I believe, wholeheartedly, in it. Now, more than ever, is the time to come together as a university community, to be joined through shared art, through a love of creating. Throughout this difficult year, it has been Conceptions Southwest that has brought me inspiration and hope, as the staff and I read and published submissions from all corners of the community—from undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students; and alumni, faculty, and staff—and from the multitude of cultures that make up our community here at unm and across New Mexico. To me, Conceptions Southwest is more than just a literary and arts magazine: it is a vital voice for everyone in our community; a coming together of different perspectives; an outlet for all of the brilliant creative work that is produced at unm every day, both within and outside of the classroom. It is my hope that this year’s issue will inspire and challenge; that it will be a source of brightness in a world in which it is desperately needed. Reader, this issue of Conceptions Southwest is for you. Grace McNealy Editor in Chief


contents Creative Nonfiction Body of Smoke. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 2002, in an Alternate Universe(s). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Medusa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Open Media Lavender Thoughts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 We Are All Lichen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Nádleehí: Two Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Photography Self-Portrait. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 기억이 필요해: 자화상 Gieog-I pil-yohae: Jahwasang (Memory I Need You: Self-Portrait). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emeralds of Paradise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Point Lobos, California . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chinatown. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . To the Right of the San Felipe de Neri Church. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Marquette Park, Chicago, July 9, 1979. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 호랑이 1998: 자화상 Holang-i 1998: Jahwasang (Tiger 1998: Self-Portrait). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wave Hello . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emma. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vast. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Harold, They’re Lesbians. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Poltergeist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alysia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2 5 12 20 21 33 40 48 52 60 61 64 65 68


Poetry Dayenu. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #11. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Breaking a Mirror, Breaking a Gaze, and Facing Your Double in Your Reflection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . For Brown Girls. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prayer for Dancing Bears. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . On Going Backwards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . :You Have 10 Minutes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How It Will Happen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Body Speaks French (The Body Cannot Speak French). . . . . . . . . The Approach to Heaven (As Viewed from a Cemetery Nearby). . . . .

1 8 14 22 25 36 38 50 56 71

Short Fiction Veneration. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Runner of the Woods. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Apprentice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Loop .9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Phobia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nadine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Denise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

10 18 26 42 53 66 74

Visual Art Self-Portrait (Part One) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Aegean Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Fragile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Triumph of Silencieux / the Worshipper of the Image . . . . . . . . . . Corre, corre, ahí viene la migra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No hay un lugar peor que aquí. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Divine Decomposition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lo que no los enseñan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Corpus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

9 13 24 34 39 47 57 69 70



dayenu ZOE PERLS

poetry | 1

After pacing up and down my bedroom We drove to seder Playing rap, windows down, wind and words hitting us in the face They are all there and my uncle Is eating matzoh with butter even though we shouldn’t eat, and the Candles are lit but first Mama needs to tell us about her road trip, The blue flowers and the tiny town and the three kids. In the Haggadah there is no mention of god We skip the songs, wrap the afikomen in a blue napkin, scrunch our noses as we eat bitter herbs, The door opens, And instead of Elijah in comes Sue, tall and just back from rafting the Colorado River, their boat flipped the first day. I have to get a new glass because I’m driving and I thought Manischewitz was better than it actually was. We dip our hands in wine and mess up all the Hebrew, we laugh, mess up all the English, I drink four glasses of grape juice and do not feel good. All the old and new sins. There is an orange on the seder plate and my uncle tells us he is running for Senate. I am still the youngest so I ask the four questions I ask him about his platform. This Haggadah does not mention Miriam’s cup, but my mom talks about it anyway, And the dad and son that she drove to the bus stop, Thankful for america We are all secretly happy when we are done, telling the story, talking in circles, Say goodbye, say thanks for doing this, it reminds your mother of her mother, We will do this again next year.


Sophia Milcevski

Self-Portrait

2


body of smoke AIMEE LYNN STEARNS

W

Your still-soft, dappled body lolls across my lap. I tilt my head back to feel the last bit of warmth from this autumn day and feel a slight breeze swish through the tall grass. Amber eyes spark suddenly beneath light-brown eyebrows. Silvery strands cling to my dress as you shoot away to run the perimeter of the field, because you heard something, somewhere, in a pitch above the range of my inferior hearing. While you are gone, I tug at a loose string on the hem of my dress and wonder what it was this time that warranted your personal inspection. I watch your silhouette move with joyful speed against the last of the evening sunlight. You have traveled far into the sea of uncut alfalfa as the setting sun casts a hazy glow on the land my grandfather tended and cherished. He is gone, but the land we call ours is spacious enough for the many souls that find connection here. The acequia borders the orchard and you splash through it, inspecting the fence for skunk or raccoon intruders along the same path he followed as he checked for places in need of patching. I was too young to remember, but old photos help me see him checking on his corn and

creative nonfiction | 3

hen I first called you mine you were small, light blue-gray, and speckled. I had many names for you that were not related to your species. I called you my rabbitleaping, snapping turtle, leopard-wolf, love of mine. Your coloring, softness, speed, and teeth reminded me of other creatures. Your legs, short and pouncing, took you all through the orchard and fields. Your days were filled with rough tumbles while chasing birds and long naps in the sun. Now, full-grown, your body is long and your fur is gray ash smudged, swirled, and speckled in charcoal and black soot.Â


his horses as his dogs follow, surveying this same field while they walked.

become gangly and move less gracefully than when you darted across the field. When you find a comfortable position, I take one of your ankles in my hand and examine it. With my fingers, I outline the bony contours covered with silky fur. You pick your head up to look right at me and then turn to face the horizon again, with your head resting between your paws. I lean to rest my head on your back, my hand curled in the white spot at the nape of your neck. I inhale heat, earth, and the sweet scent of alfalfa.

My grandfather was many things, one of which was a sheepherder. If you had been around during his time, he would have taken you to check on the herds. You would have followed him on his horse, slept by his campfire, and eaten his boiled eggs. I sometimes have dreams where I am riding along with him through the piñon and ponderosa. In these dreams he teaches me to understand the land and to love sleeping outside . . . but I was born into a different time, and so were you.

I grab a tuft of hair right below your right ear, and whisper a question to you. I look into the Time is not a concern of yours, smoke to see if you were really listening. Your eyes your body exists only in this are still shut and your breath slows. I press for a moment. reply and you give me a side-eyed look of “sorry, You love it here. You spend most days out in this but you know the answer to that one.” I smile to field chasing the crows. Out of the corner of myself and stroke the patch of velvet beneath your your eye, you notice their black shadows sliding chin. With two fingers, I trace the path from the top across the ground. You are up and across the of your head, between your eyes, down your muzzle field, racing the black shadow disturbing the to your nose, while your concerned eyebrows track calm skies above your home. No one gave you the motion of my hand. Despite how fast you still the job of protector of the fields and skies, but run after the jackrabbits, magpies, and crows, I you take on the responsibility with enthusiasm. can’t help but dread the day your eyes become quiet After, you come trotting back spirited and as cinders—fire at its last lick. The sun melts into satisfied with a job well done. You look at me with the peaks in front of us. You open your eyes, dusky dusky amber eyes, encouraging an invite back to embers in the twilight. Looking into those embers, your resting place. I roll my brown eyes and adjust how can I not believe you have a soul in that body myself so you can climb onto my lap again. You of smoke?

4


Hyunju Blemel 기억이 필요해: 자화상 Gieog-I pil-yohae: Jahwasang (Memory I Need You: Self-Portrait), pigment print on archival paper

5


2002, in an alternate universe(s) LARSON FRITZ

creative nonfiction | 6

Y

I.

ou clean your room, little brother. Your room is for once clean. You are seven years old. Everything in its place now, for the very first time. The Beanie Babies put away. The yo-yos untangled. The Sea Monkeys’ plastic tank dusted. The things you don’t play with anymore are thrown away. And from the room’s four corners, all the funny voices you do begin to speak to one another— hallelujah! opera lady, the old man who spilled his pills, little Joe from down the street, a quorum of childhood ghost-actors. All the silly voices you do at dinner while standing on chairs like Sir Edmund Hillary, performing for us, unbidden, they begin to speak about you when you’re away, and they say When will he forget about us? Throw us away? When will he find a new voice to do? A new way to show off? And when you’re at school, when you’re off pretending to fall, leaping into piles of snow at recess, all the clothes you never wore down to stitches and undone piles of thread are there in your room, wearing bodies of air, full of voices, waltzing with each other in mournful circles, asking where you went, when you’ll be back, if you have time to play—but you don’t, because nothing never ends, and you’re older now. II. You are not afraid of spiders. In fact, half-dressed in your church suit one Sunday morning, miserable as ever at the prospect, you find one in the crook of a budding tree, and befriend it. You convince yourself you have become a spider too and crawl away unseen, while that afternoon we upbraid your room and call your name from neighbors’ porches and desperately comb just-budding cornfields for any trace of you. Mom is already dreaming up posters to staple to pock-marked poles by starlight, sobbing, as you creep your eight legs


over the sill of some other little blue-eyed boy’s

Everyone else: somewhere else. The leaves

room and descend from the cobwebbed ceiling

turn pale and unravel. The days shrink. Every-

onto the arch of his shoulder and tell him into

thing shuts down. We move into the corpse of

his little ear not to be afraid, and then of course

an abandoned Blockbuster Video, forage for

you come back, a boy too again.

snacks wielding cheap plastic lightsabers, warm ourselves before fires of vhs tape and Lunch-

III.

ables wrappers. While everyone else looks down

Mom and Dad split up. They gather us together

from heaven or wherever they left us to be, we

in the living room to say we are no longer one

do bmx jumps from the curbs of abandoned

flesh. They say something about vagaries of

places, call each other names and learn words in

lovelessness we hope you two will never under-

a new language of our own creation, and while

stand. We twiddle our thumbs. Bat our eyes.

the world sets behind the sun, we say to each

Mumble something. It’s summer. No time for

other, Were there anything else for us to do but be

words. They say we love you two very much,

together, were there anything to keep us apart—

as the room’s western windows darken. There

theoretically any reason at all for us to part, in an

is a place for you in this world. And outside,

alternate universe, perhaps—and if telephones and

in the sky above, a summer storm forms. First

long-distance modes of communication were still in

with eyes green and sidling, then with a heart of

operation, we would keep in touch, wouldn’t we?

doppler purple, menacing and gravid with mal-

We would remember, wouldn’t we?

ice. We love you. Very much. As the first sirens shriek, we retreat to the basement and hold

How it was when we were young, sometimes.

each other, huddled beneath a blanket, waiting

Games of hide and seek on the dead-end street.

for the windows to shatter. A family. Together.

How our lungs burned across the yard, how we

The windows shake. Black claws of cloud roil

ran and ran and hid in ditches, how we crouched

outside, seeking a sacrifice, peering through

behind bushes and panted, struggling to hold our

the windows at us, tapping at the glass, seeking

breath through silent glimpses. How we threw

someone to take back with it, back to the place

things at each other and jumped from things, our

where good things gone bad go. You and I we

heels ringing as the sun fell parallel to our faces.

stand up, shaking. We speak to the storm, little

Mom and Dad’s friends’ cars filling the driveway.

brother, say, Take them! If it’s us or them, take

A fire, lit. How we ran into the field and tried

them. That’s what children are for, to not make

to get lost, chased each other until it was dark

their parents’ mistakes, to be better despite all

enough to see the fire and how we crawled to it,

odds—and what ours have never done is offer

leaned back in chairs until we fell back, heels over

us up to something which in fact deserves to be

head into the dark. Someone told a story. Every-

feared. Something which is utterly real. The storm

one laughed. Together. We would remember,

can’t be bothered to reply. It hardly even rains.

right? We would keep in touch, were there any

IV.

reason to part, any reason at all. Not never forget

Brother, the world ends when they said it

each other, never this closeness, this fragile thing,

would. Somehow just you and I are left behind.

would we? If nothing never ends, would we?

7


#11 STAN HARTT

. . . speaking of your “between” meaning, ticks of my watch, between strike and roll of a cue ball, between spin and crush of mandarins and candied maraschinos mulled in a dark rum.

poetry | 8

that a.m., spaced into us, the newspaper ink smell, with a clean-through mid-whiff of caramel coffee and The Times we lived in our distant city. Ten a.m., and now menthol ash of your cigarette, hotel spearmints, and the rude march of commuters bound for Tuesday, we knew and we knew better of our night craft, svelte and outside, and celebrated. A breeze, so I must re-mention your “bet” . . . strikes of our mantel clock, before lace and unlace of an afternoon, a slow bath of copper color, a cobalt washcloth . . . I so want more. ticks of my watch, a silver shiny closure mechanism, all its pieces, I’m supposed to believe, while your turned ignition key releases all past intent.


Juana Estrada Hernandez Self-Portrait (Part One), 19 x 19 in.

9


veneration ANASTASIA GUMBINER

short fiction | 10

I

t would have been a hell of a way to die. I imagined what it must have been like. Waves crashing against the wooden boards, sending salty spray high into the turbulent sky. The screaming vessel being thrown against rocks nestled within the waves, then splitting apart to dispense its holdings on the sea floor. Or perhaps it wasn’t that dramatic. No mythic nightmare borne of the minds of sailors and poets alike. Perhaps the ship simply scraped its belly against a shoal and the crew watched as their wares drifted quietly into the blue. But they didn’t die there, they couldn’t. The statues before me would never tell what happened that fateful day. Their bronze forms only told me how the years had worn them. How undercurrents stripped their luster and stole their armor, leaving them exposed. How fish had made a home of them with no regard to who they were on land. I could still see the bubbles rising from their parted lips, longing to tell names and stories forgotten by the living. The placard on the wall could never share these things. Though the bronzes were never living, a part of them died in that shipwreck and we were left with only the shadows of what they were. I walked around them, hearing my footsteps echo off the pristine walls. I wondered if they liked where they were. Did they miss what they used to be? Did the sun once beat against their sculpted skin as the artificial light does now? I longed to tell them things too. I longed to tell them how the event that seemed so like a death actually saved them from one even worse. How the engulfing waves of the ocean protected them from the consuming waves of a furnace. And instead of standing before someone like me, in the electric glow of the modern day, in even a whisper of their original


glory, they would have been melted into nothing, repurposed as coins for the meanest necessities. But perhaps the warriors would have wanted that. Maybe this was all humiliating. Was it worse to be destroyed or live on forgotten? My eyes scanned the room. It was still just the three of us. I stood in front of them and let our eyes lock and soon began to feel my mind clear. As the silence took hold and the boundaries between times seemed to fade, I saw the figures for what they truly were. There was still life there yet.

11


12

Andreas Archuleta

Emeralds of Paradise, diptych, 8 x 10 in.


Sam Snell

The Aegean Sea, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 in.

13


breaking a mirror, breaking a gaze, and facing your double in your reflection.

poetry | 14

ERIN BENTON

I think about how it would be to feel utterly at home within the static screen that reflects my bedroom. Light pours in from the street outside, orange, golden lighting the soundstage it’s magic hour on the dirty silver screen and I stare at that face, before I step out of frame of the mirror my eyes looking at my hands, and I think about how I wish this was a story with kind endings. Then I step back into the frame, the Shot, the gaze of the other to finish brushing my hair. Where did those shadows under my eyes come from? Whose eyes are those? Who is that looking back at me through a looking glass? This is not some long lost television screen and I am beyond characterization shifting and blurring beyond this single frame this shot I am beyond any narrative


INT. A BEDROOM. The girl brushes her hair, utterly alienated from the land of the living. It has been so long since a good night’s sleep, for she is haunted by the ghosts of the dead. It’s late night and the glow of the lights of the street stream in, the window open. (She’s gone now whispering with ghosts on some distant star)

She steps back into the frame of the shot fingers running through her hair then she looks at herself and pulls at the skin under her eyes. She stares hoping, maybe, that she will transform, maybe, or turn to stone. Then she looks directly into the camera and she breaks she breaks she breaks this screen this fourth wall this prison of glass & eyes that always watch and crave a simple story. CUT HARD TO BLACK.


Sophia Milcevski

Lavender Thoughts, collage



runner of the woods NELL JOHNSON

T

short fiction | 18

he lonely moon rises tentatively above the banks of the Assiniboine River while a solitary coureur de bois strips the scales off of a freshly caught fish. Like the moon, he is delicate and distant; the glimmering skin of the fish plaits off like braids in the incandescence of the night. He is brave to be alone now, but the trait is a necessity. The coolest months create the most lucrative window of the year when animal coats grow thick and hairy underneath the gentle pressures of pure snow. Our coureur de bois does not fear the silence of the icy Assiniboine that stalks the winter months, or the deafening sound of snow crunching under his boots like weak bones. He does not fear the deafening solitude of winter or the stomps of animals, crushing the leaves of a foreign wood. Instead he finds solace in this expanse of earth and world. The simplicity is alluring. There are only a few colors for him to ponder here. Only still white that blinds his eyes and a cold brown, stripped of its warmth by jealous gray. Above all there are few people. During the winter season, our coureur de bois must only interact with others when body and business insist upon it. When he enters Maurepas, his back is heavy with animal pelts. Beads of light scatter off of the animals’ guard hairs, high and hot in the morning sunlight. Sweat presses to his brow under the weight of his haul and the strenuous path of his going. He feels encumbered with every step, his tawny boots digging harshly into snow-footed ground. There is a comfort here, ponders our coureur de bois. There is purpose. His hands are rough against the soft fur as he places the pelts onto the counter. Short, delicate mink hairs pour


over his calloused skin, dry and cracked. A myriad of hues paints the countertop now; there are beaver pelts of rich cacao shining blond at the root, firm stripes of heady black down the muskrats’ backs, the youthful fawn of the red fox. The animals impress him; the natural warmth of their fur and its autumn coloring, their readiness to survive, the total eclipse of light in their ignorant eyes.

weight. It must be sixty pounds or more with the droplets of river water which cling to its thick fur like a pack of young children. He hoists the lonely animal onto his back with frustrating ease, painting the soft suede of his coat with muddy water.

The beaver’s tail swings mockingly against the broad expanse of his back, rigid and undelightful.

Our coureur de bois’ hands are wandering, skating across soft skins, fingering the newly tanned hide, its hard edges. As his fingertips skim across the tanned pelts, he remembers how living things came to be his currency.

The pressure of his successful trap weighs serenely on his shoulders as if it were bars of gold. With stern contentment, he reaches his camp. His tools and objects further down the riverbank create a tiny, picturesque landscape that allows the land to remain pure and untouched; the metals and furs and wood are not a permanent fixture. Instead, they complement the land in glorious extension.

On a February morning, our coureur de bois leaves his caribou tent after a night of dreamless sleep. His black eyes are not bleary or soft upon waking. Instead, he strips open the new day with the ease of a paring knife through tender fat. The sky is already gray, its expanse bearing heavy over the intricacies of the riverbank, the chunks of ice, thin channels of water, the gaggle of twigs and muddy marsh stuck into thick ground. It doesn’t take long for our coureur de bois to locate the rusty trap he had placed the previous day. The land bows beneath him. His boots are firm and thick as his strong legs plod through the marsh and stuttering ice.

He scrapes the viscera, the sweet reds and pinks, shaving off droves of thick white fat. The scraps fall to the snow in clumps, sinking low. The continuous motions of his strong forearms lull him into complacency; he yields to the land, to the clouds, the trees and rocks, the river, the beaver itself.

The beaver is stagnant in dark water, its eyes glazed. Its elongated teeth are yellow among all the muted shards of color on the endless riverbank. Our coureur de bois feels not pity nor fulfillment, only the physicality, the understanding of man and animal that comes only from his occupation. He pulls the animal out of the water, feeling its staunch

In a week or less his presence will have not made a mark. Only the Assiniboine’s memory of our coureur de bois will remain.

19


Sophia Milcevski

Point Lobos, California Chinatown (opposite)

20


21


for brown girls

poetry | 22

ROSANNA SAMUDIO

I wanted to wrap her silk skin Around my arms like a Christmas gift And glue her plastic face onto mine. Maybe then, he would finally see me Behind the blue eyes I scooped out of her sockets, And embroidered the blood vessels of my eyeballs With the ends of her ripped ones. They tangled like branching rivers Wandering on an Ariel fan. You’d think they were vines grown in winter, But you’d be mistaken For they were grapes grown in my vineyard in summer, And extracted into wine. Advertisements of a free world taught me this, To glorify everything you’re not, and attach your vulnerability to it. Thus, they were veins intertwined by desire, Like a doll sewed together by a red thread and dirty needle, And all because I wanted to be beautiful I wanted her sculpted body The way an American society Discovers scraps of red clay Buried beneath wet soils of Indigenous land. Once, this clay was made into ceramic That depicted paintings of my ancestors’ bruised feet, And auctioned off from their starving backs to the conquerors, Now here I was, wanting to be molded into one, A child’s plaything, sculpted out of sugar-loaf white For boys that are easily amused, And all because I wanted him to notice me At last, I would begin my transition. Oh how! The pain conquered my appetite. I had two meals that year, And I will never forget how the world undressed me each day Like cotton spilling out from a thrown-away doll. I was shown the teeth of my ribs


Eating their way through my skin, like a hunter feasting on its prey. I touched the base of my body Where the dirty needle used to stab into my stomach, And all that was left now were bones. The thickness and fragile version of me was finally gone! Yet, one touch from a human being and I’d break into a million pieces. I couldn’t help but to let go, And drown in the pool of my tears. How can this be? I had become less than what I intended to be, And all because I wanted him to love me

23


Max Schwaber

24

Fragile


prayer for dancing bears TORI CÁRDENAS

poetry | 25

Our Mother the Dancing Bear, men in green taught you to waltz on an iron stage, drums and cymbals pounding time. When I hear them, I hide my brother beneath the pale green hay in our boxcar like you told me. He sops his thirst on a wet cloth, finally quiet, our paws cup ears soft as the mouths of dogs. You wove our coats from the same dusty color of our forest in autumn where no tall trees stand besides our cage bars vigas through which even a bear of all ribs cannot pass but cannot be breached by surrounding shadows. Dancing bear mothers can regrow their fangs in the mouths and hands of cubs sharp and small. You pray that I know how to recognize the look in a man’s eye as he decides to kill my brother for his pelt, the look in my brother’s as he decides to let them. How to let him. How to remember which stars to follow, when to sleep, where to dig for grubs and honey, where it is safe to dance in the forest, or the field. For myself. For rain.


apprentice EVA ALLISON

A

short fiction | 26

loud creak echoed through the shop, accompa‌‌nied by the gentle chime above the door. Agnes rose from the tiny wooden chair at her workstation, parted the dark purple curtain of silk, and approached the large counter that separated the storefront from the workstation.

The main room of the store was dark, save for the small glass window on the door. The shelves lining the walls of the room housed a collection of figurines, relics, stones, and other knickknacks. Strings of paper figurines, feathers, and crystals hung from the ceiling in haphazard arrangements. Above the curtain, a large skull sat on a shelf, greeting all of the people who wandered into the small shop. Agnes was stunned by the young woman waiting patiently in front of it. Her fiery orange hair fell from the hood of her cloak, and her eyes sparkled with wonder and excitement. She was gazing curiously at the small jars of black, violet, emerald, and scarlet on the counter, a special order to be picked up later that day. “I’m here to place an order for an elixir.” The young woman’s gentle voice shook Agnes from her trance. “You’ve come to the right place,” Agnes stuttered, fumbling for the notepad behind the counter. “What exactly do you need it for?” “I need something for my brother, James,” the young woman said, looking at the floor. “He’s been ill and has only been getting worse. I was told to come here and ask for help.” “What sort of illness?” Agnes’ pen waited for details she would use to fill her order. The woman fidgeted with a small silver ring on her right hand. “It began with a constant fever and now he has small


blisters all over his skin.” Her voice quavered. “I’m

leaves, peppermint leaves, and Irish moss waited

not sure what else to do. No one has been able to tell

for her fingers to uncork them. The chair felt cold

us what it is. I can’t afford any more doctor’s visits.” and steady underneath her. From the small bowls Agnes stared at her notepad. What could she she spooned out ingredients despite the heavy fog settling in her head.

say to soothe the woman? She felt clumsy when speaking to customers, or anyone for that matter.

Since she had started working the counter by herself, Twigs crunched under Agnes’ feet as she she’d tripped over her words or remained speech- slowly treaded through the woods by herself. A less, just like with the woman who stood before her. bag dug into her shoulder as she walked over “Is there anything you can do?” The young the rough terrain. She stopped at the first trap woman’s eyes pled to her.

and looked carefully at the bird snared in the soft webbing. The cardinal was no longer strug-

“I have something in mind. It shouldn’t be too

gling under the clear strings that bound it.

much in the way of payment. We are always open to some negotiation,” Agnes said, hoping to offer

It must have worn itself out after the first few moments of captivity and now awaited its fate.

some semblance of comfort. “Thank you so much.” The woman’s voice caught in her throat. “When should it be done?” “Elixirs only take a few days to make. Things

Agnes stooped down next to the bright red bird

aren’t as busy as they were in the past. It should be

and eyed it carefully. Morgan’s voice still echoed

done the day after tomorrow.”

in her head.

“Thank you so much!” The woman turned

All we need are a few feathers, Agnes. It makes

quickly and headed out of the door.

no sense to kill the creature just for a few feathers.

Agnes vaulted over the counter and ran to the

Be gentle and kind to it, the voice directed.

door. She flung it open. She had forgotten to ask the

“Just the feathers,” Agnes whispered to herself

young woman her name. Crowds of people walked

as she opened the trap. The bird tried to fly out of

back and forth through the busy streets, but the

the trap, but Agnes snatched it from the air and held

young woman wasn’t among them. She didn’t want

it tightly in her hands. The bird was stunned at just

to leave the shop unmanned and cursed herself for

how quickly it was caught again. Agnes pulled two

being so neglectful.

feathers from each of its wings, barely avoiding the

Agnes sighed and schlepped back inside. The

angry bird’s beak as it tried to peck at her fingers.

skulls that hung from the wall glared at her with

“All right, all right! I’m done. You’ll be fine,”

their empty eyes.

she reassured the frightened cardinal and released

“Oh, shut up,” she hissed at them.

her hold on it. It sat for a moment in her hands,

At the counter, she lifted the slab of old wood.

surprised at its sudden freedom. Finally, it opened

It creaked, its hinges rarely used. At her worksta-

its wings and flew back into the canopy.

tion, she plopped down into the chair. Bottles of

Agnes wrapped the feathers in a small cloth

dried herbs sat on her desk. Elderflowers, dandelion

and placed them gently in her bag. She shook the

27


dirt from her pants, Morgan’s kind words playing

“Oh, goodness, is there anything I can do for you, dear?” a gentle voice called from the recesses.

in her head again. That’s perfect. That should be enough for this

Agnes’ legs gave out underneath her, and she

week, the voice praised her. Let’s go ahead and

collapsed on the floor. Her mind filled with a black

finish collecting from the rest of the traps.

darker than she had ever seen before. When she awoke, her mouth had a strange, bitter taste. She

Morgan’s death was still fresh. She had no idea

looked up to see the slender face of the person

how old Morgan was when she passed away, but

gently cradling her. The woman’s silver hair fell

her knowledge suggested that she had been alive

like starlight in soft ringlets to her shoulders.

for centuries.

“What happened? Who are you?” Agnes slurred.

Agnes turned to look to her right and imagined

She blinked her eyes.

the thin figure of Morgan keeping perfect stride

“Rest. I gave you medicine. Give it some time,

with her. Her long green cloak flowed elegantly

and you should start feeling yourself again soon.”

behind her, and perfect white curls spilled out from

The woman removed her thick green cloak and

her hood.

placed it gently under Agnes’ head.

Agnes had fallen gravely ill in the middle of

In the back room of the shop, a large black pot

the winter shortly after losing her parents. She

suspended above a fire pit bubbled. The mix-

had an extreme fever and chills and was unable

ture inside was clear, with small pieces of green

to eat for days. After turning her away, unable

herbs floating in it. Agnes grabbed five different

to help, the town’s doctor told her of the place

bottles from the shelves: one containing lime juice, a very small one filled with tiny round

to which he sent all of his lost causes.

orbs marked “Spider’s Eyes,” another full of

It was a small store in the middle of town owned by a peculiar woman.

small white sage leaves, one full of rosy-colored kaolin clay, and a large jar filled to the brim with deep-red hawthorn berries. She walked quickly despite the balancing act of carrying all five jars at once and laid them down on a small

“If anyone can help, she can,” the doctor said

table next to the large pot. She lifted the jars,

as Agnes left his office for the last time.

poured out some of the contents into her hand,

She stood before the large door and stared at it

and tossed them into the roiling liquid.

in fear. The only thing that could help her through

Agnes had felt so alone in the workshop since

this sickness was on the other side. She pushed hard against the dark wood and walked into the dark room.

Morgan had passed. She’d never really been interested in working in the apothecary until Morgan

She was surprised by the number of trinkets

pushed her to start learning. It looked so compli-

lining the walls. She chuckled at the sight of the

cated and felt like too much trouble. Morgan did

skull hanging above the dark curtain before cough-

her best to try and simplify it for her. At first, Agnes

ing up bile.

started by only measuring ingredients, and when

28


Morgan felt she was ready, Agnes created her own

At her workstation, she played with a tiny

elixirs with supervision. Morgan tried to let Agnes

spider she’d caught tiptoeing on the counter.

make mistakes, but she always stepped in at the

The small wolf spider ran across the desk, and

last minute to correct Agnes before she could ruin

as soon as it seemed to be getting away, Agnes

it. With Morgan gone, Agnes had no one to stop

placed her hand on the table in front of it.

her from getting things wrong. She hurried back to the shelves, retrieved the two red feathers, and dropped them into the pot. She stared at the mixture, trying to figure out what else to add to it. She looked back at the recipe book

Each time, the spider panicked, turned around, and ran the other way. Agnes’ game continued until she heard the door creaking open and the tinkling of the small bell. She

for guidance.

jumped up, letting the spider scurry off of the table

Morgan didn’t need reference books when she was making her own elixirs. She knew exactly what each ingredient did, which would work the

to safety. She grabbed the jar full of translucent liquid and waited at the counter. The young woman rushed to the counter, a

best with others, and the exact amount of each

slight bounce in her step this time.

ingredient to reach the desired potency. When she

“Is this it?!” she chirped.

pushed Agnes to learn the craft, Morgan created several reference books for Agnes to use. One was

“Yes, I finished it yesterday. I hope it is to your

an encyclopedic book of ingredients and their uses.

liking,” Agnes said, barely able to contain her own

The second was a short tip book that showed how

excitement.

to prepare each ingredient and how to use all the

Agnes slid the jar across the counter toward

equipment. The final book that Morgan wrote was

the young woman. She picked it up carefully and

a recipe book that contained instructions for all

looked inquisitively at the light-red-tinted liquid.

the remedies she had so far needed. Agnes clung

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, peeking

to these books when Morgan passed away, reading them carefully each time she made an elixir on her own. It felt like Morgan was there, guiding her through the process.

at Agnes from behind the jar. “Five silver pieces.” “Of course,” the woman said and reached into a small sachet tied at her hip. She counted the silver

“I think that’s it,” Agnes said to herself, trying to calm her nerves. “You don’t want to overdo it.” She left the mixture to simmer for an hour and then carefully siphoned it into a large jar. The

and dropped the five coins into Agnes’ open hands. “Hopefully, it will be some time before I see you again,” the woman said as she looked intently at the elixir again.

smell of the mixture was strong, nothing like the sweet-smelling mixtures that Morgan guided her through in the past. She placed a cork in the top

“Hopefully,” Agnes said, placing the silver into a large box underneath the counter. “Before you leave, what is your name?”

and prayed that it was right.

“Clementine,” the young woman called over her shoulder.

29


Agnes rearranged the bottles on the shelf

Agnes prepared the same elixir, using the

in the back room. It was hard for her to keep

original recipe as a base. She looked through

everything as neat as Morgan had. Agnes took

all the ingredients on the large shelf, waiting for

an empty bottle off of the shelf and filled it with

something to catch her eye. Something that she

chamomile flowers drying on a rack nearby.

could add to get something a little more potent.

The door flew open in the shop, and the sound

She grabbed a bottle of snake scales, a bottle of

scared Agnes. She dropped the bottle, sighed at the

cucumber juice, and a bottle of rose hips. She

sight of glass and herbs on the floor, and hurried

took them to the book on the desk and looked

to the curtain. When she opened it, Clementine

up each of the ingredients.

was at the counter with an empty bottle in hand.

Agnes felt like she was betraying Morgan if she

“Did I do it wrong? I had him drink the

strayed from the recipes she had carefully crafted

whole thing. It’s been days now and nothing has

while alive. It was hard enough for Agnes to accept

changed. Not even a single blister has faded,” that Morgan was gone, but it was even harder for her to accept that Morgan’s recipes could be Clementine panted. anything but perfect. She had made so many, and

“Please calm yourself,” Agnes said. “Why didn’t it work, then? What’s wrong?”

Agnes was sure that Morgan had never had this much trouble. She couldn’t even imagine someone

Clementine fought to catch her breath.

running into the shop because something Morgan

“It’s probably just the elixir I made. I can have

made hadn’t worked.

another one ready for you by tomorrow,” Agnes said.

Frustration nestled in her chest. It had been

Staying up all night was no problem for someone nocturnal by nature.

hours of checking the entries in the book and defeatedly returning the bottles to the shelf only to grab more to check. After checking the bookshelf, she sat down in

“I don’t have any more money.” Clementine

the chair at the desk and stared at the three bottles

clenched her hands tightly around the empty bottle

that she found on the shelf that could work as

and began to shake.

possible additions. One was a bottle of peppermint.

“It’s not a problem,” Agnes said, trying to calm

The entry for the herb in the book was short, but

the girl. “This one is on me. Just come by in the

the strong smell and taste seemed promising. The

morning and it should be done.”

second bottle contained broadleaf. It had a longer

Clementine looked up at Agnes, surprised at the

entry in the reference book. The third was comfrey,

kind gesture. “Tomorrow? How early tomorrow?”

a common ingredient in other health-related elixirs,

“Come by as early as you like.”

but whose bright purple color frightened Agnes.

“I really hope it will work this time. I’m not

A handful of chamomile flowers that were not

sure how much longer I can put him through this.” covered in glass from the earlier incident with the Clementine placed the bottle on the counter and bottle lay on a white cloth next to the other herbs. walked out of the door.

Agnes stared at them, and her mind wandered

“Well, let’s try again,” Agnes said to the

to the only place it had gone in the past three

empty bottle.

months. She thought about Morgan and how she

30


would never be in this situation. She remembered

omile. She turned to the large pot bubbling in

how confidently she did everything. When she

the corner of the room and dropped them all in.

began working with Morgan, she’d amused herself

She stirred furiously until the mixture turned a

with the idea of one day being as great as her, but

muddied brown. She hurried back to the desk,

sitting in the chair, staring at the herbs before her,

scooped up the bottle of comfrey, and emptied

she thought of how she would never be the same

half of it into the pot. The liquid turned a dark

as Morgan.

purple. Agnes shrugged and poured the rest of the bottle into the pot, and the mixture lightened into a vibrant purple, the leaves from the

Agnes and Morgan were inseparable after

other herbs floating gracefully.

Agnes recovered. Morgan offered to teach the girl her craft, and Agnes happily accepted, hav-

She spooned the mixture into a fresh glass

ing been uninterested in anything else. At the

bottle. Before sliding the cork into place, she added

beginning, she held bottles and bowls for Mor-

an extra pinch of peppermint.

gan while she worked, took orders for elixirs

Its scent reminded her of the strong stench of Morgan’s concoctions, but this was the first one that felt truly hers.

from customers, and followed Morgan into the woods carrying the heavy bag into which she put herbs and other things for her shop. As Morgan aged, she pushed Agnes to work more while she watched. Oftentimes, she would become frustrated with Agnes’ uncertainty or pace

She stared at it on the desk while she sat back in

and took over. Agnes felt like she could do nothing

the chair. When her heart stopped pounding in

right but longed for Morgan’s approval.

her chest, she rested her head on the wooden desk for a much-deserved nap.

One morning she entered the small shop and knew something was wrong. She walked into the workshop to find Morgan collapsed on the floor.

The knocking on the door awoke her and she

It was hard to balance the number of clients

raced for the door, the small bottle in hand. She

that Morgan had, and fewer and fewer people

opened it carefully. Clementine bounced ner-

stopped by the shop. It took Agnes twice as long

vously outside of the door, a coat protecting her

to prepare anything without Morgan’s guidance,

from the rain as it poured around her. Agnes

but Agnes refused to close the shop. She worked

held out the jar, its contents sloshing against the

tirelessly, terrified of losing the last piece of Morgan

glass. Clementine looked at the bottle curiously

that she had left.

before taking it. “Lead the way,” Agnes said.

Agnes rose from the chair and shook off the

They both scurried off into the rain, Clementine

fog clouding her mind. She poured a small hand-

clutching the small bottle tightly. They arrived at a

ful of peppermint in her palm, removed three

small house, its gray stones blackened by the rain.

leaves from the jar of broadleaf, and picked up

Clementine glanced back at Agnes before opening

the cloth holding the last of the untainted cham-

the door.

31


The inside of the house was cramped. The sound of the rain falling on the roof and harsh coughing echoed throughout the home. Clementine led Agnes into a small room at the back of the house.

blue, and a pitch black. Agnes scrawled down a few notes about her newest concoction and turned her head toward the heavy curtains as the familiar creaking of the door and the soft bell sounded.

A young woman with fiery hair walked into the shop with a young boy following close behind her. Agnes was excited to see what the young man actually looked like since the boils cleared from his face. Small, circular boils covered every inch of There were only a few scars left in their place, a exposed skin. The boy shook as he coughed, small reminder of his close brush with death. Clemand bile covered the blanket. entine approached the counter and toyed with the “I’m back, James. This is Agnes; she made this for silver ring on her finger. you.” Clementine knelt next to the bed and glanced “I know that you’ve been busy lately. I can only back at Agnes, who was staring in shock at the young imagine how hectic it is around here now that word boy. “I need you to drink the entire thing.” has spread about this shop again.” Clementine’s Clementine uncorked the bottle and pressed eyes met Agnes’. “Do you think that you could use it to the young boy’s lips. He drank greedily and another hand or two around here? I left my job after sputtered as he swallowed the last few drops. James fell ill and I was looking to start working “And now we wait,” Agnes said, finding a place again now that he’s well. I feel like we both owe you to sit on the floor beside Clementine. so much. We’d love to help as much as we could.”

The body that lay in the bed terrified Agnes.

The black pot bubbled in the corner while Agnes ground thyme in the small bowl on the desk. The strong scent of orange peel wafted out of the pot and filled the room. On the desk sat a book turned to a new page and three bottles of various colors: a deep emerald, a light

32

Agnes’ eyes beamed with joy. It had been hard working alone. She remembered how much easier it was to work through the night with someone there beside her. She had never instructed anyone before, and she was excited for the new challenge.


Tobin Pirayesh-Townsend

To the Right of the San Felipe de Neri Church, 8.5 x 11 in.

33



Genevieve "Jon" Hartsock

The Triumph of Silencieux / the Worshipper of the Image, woodcut, 28 x 36 in.


on going backwards ZOE PERLS

I. When everything started going backwards, I was unphased. The girls in the bathroom jumped with glee. Tights snapped across the body—ballet pink, and dust, and black mesh, Jean jacket held tight across the stomach. The Midnight Girls finally had a remedy for what they had done.

poetry | 36

II. The Red Velvet Cake is still in the fridge from the last Saturday, B got it for her birthday and you can’t sleep—you battle for an hour with yourself under the too-heavy covers—you stumble into the kitchen, Make sure there is not a monster hiding in the pantry—turn on the fluorescent kitchen lights. Then get to work, Eat the cake, hear every noise, Every eulogy screeched into the air, for the molecules of air your body pushed out Towards the margins. III. The girls who can go backwards look like everybody else, But they never get too drunk at parties, Seem calm at the end of the night, calm about the cake.


IV. When I asked her if there was anything else she needed to tell me, if she ever, you know, In her family’s backyard, She told me that sometimes she went backwards to feel in control, In Boston everyone is sad and there are no trees, so the girls went backwards, and I was jealous, and the Red Velvet Cake has cream cheese frosting, and I felt my body on the porch swing that day. V. So, you see, the world going backwards is nothing new, it was always the dream, piped and in a paper box, the goal, the Crutch and the crook of the boys Who would only love you backwards. The restoration of what once was, Put the cake back into the fridge, Let it dry out.

37


:you have 10 minutes STAN HARTT

:You have 10 minutes

poetry | 38

you have 80 years—like an orange and blue parade— you have 3 seconds—like the swab, the vaccine, and the alcohol— you have 10 minutes—like a payphone call at a rest stop— you have an hour and 20 minutes—like a stopover at Albuquerque to change planes— you have an extra 2 hours—like three slow drinks in the airport bar. :You have 10 minutes people have high expectations— i do, they do you do, he does, so does his friend. :You have 10 minutes you have 3 weeks—like the last time— you have 4 days—like a mountain train to Denver— you have 25 minutes—like the letter you didn’t want to have to write— you have 45 seconds—answer the question. and you have the morning: to touch a mist fading across a damp pasture. and you have the afternoon: to cross a mountain of granite and spruce on horseback. and you have the wonderful evening: to watch oak logs smoke and glow and warm themselves to quiet ash. :You have 10 minutes


Juana Estrada Hernandez

Corre, corre, ahĂ­ viene la migra, 9 x 12 in.

39


Barry Kirk

Marquette Park, Chicago, July 9, 1979, 11 x 14 in.

40



loop .9. STAN HARTT

Part .E.2. Found: shirtless, screaming at headlights that trace 178, a highway near the desert missile range.

short fiction | 42

Contents: smooth, green quartz crystal in the right front pocket of filthy, sweat-soaked jeans. Comment: the most beautiful thing I found in X days of wandering, looking for the exit that marks the entrance. I found a clear, green world of rippled flashes of gold—streams and cool clouds of sparkling mist. The stone was my passkey. The highway patrolman shoved me into the back seat. Later: I sat in the waiting room, though I’d already been discharged. I wasn’t sure where to go.


Part .A. I think I: would like to abuse drugs, except I’m scared of the effects. I wish I: could just get in my car and drive away, except what would I do when I got there? I dream I: can fly but always wake up on the ground. I left my: Boy Scout Handbook back in San Jose, where it can do the most good. I use the: Yellow Pages and tv Guide. Addendum: Beneath a loose floorboard in my old room, in a rundown neighborhood is a handwritten promise to Jesus to stop masturbating. I saw my life lie as loose change left quietly at a closed cashier’s window. Pick it up, spend it . . . it’s yours. Part .B. My consciousness turns like the clicking dial on a rotary phone. The numbers pass through the spinning circles

43


without going anywhere. And yet a call is placed. My train ticket blew away but another train leaves in an hour. The point is . . . sharp. Or dull (on the other side). My shoes fit a million different fools, and were made a thousand miles an hour by people who only live because I bought them. See, there’s a little blood mixed in the glue. A frothy-mouthed lunatic sees aliens and chases hotel doormen, but recovers his manners and pleasantly asks me for a cigarette. I lost my big Kabloona but won’t need one where I’m going. Part .C. It’s almost morning on the banks of Japan. But here, it’s late afternoon and I’m closing my bank account. I quit my job so I could finally find the time to sell everything I own, to watch my friend play pool by herself . . . to win and lose at the same time, to take the money I have

44


and visit a swank hotel . . . to stay three nights: On the first, to make love to someone beautiful. The best I can buy. On the second, same thing, without paying. The third night, let me rest and think. And watch a lot of cable tv. Part .D. Everything comes to an end. I knew this the first time I went to Disneyland. My best beginnings never last. And the middle becomes tedious after a while. It all comes at the end, if it comes at all. I’m headed for the desert to find it. I’ll get out of everything I used to get me there. I’ll walk away from the highway and the neon . . . across the sand of space that’s shone bright forever. Across the bright hot sand

45


till it turns gold and orange and warm. And the horizon is within my moment, like an Apache blanket to cover me and carry me to the stars. Part .E.1. I waited: in the Waiting Room looking at the big, glass-faced clock, with its long, black minute hand moving very . . . very . . . Later: I went to this big, air-conditioned McDonald’s next to a highway . . . [loop back to beginning (Part .E.2.)]

46


Juana Estrada Hernandez

No hay un lugar peor que aquĂ­, 9 x 12 in.

47


Hyunju Blemel 호랑이 1998: 자화상 Holang-i 1998: Jahwasang (Tiger 1998: Self-Portrait),Pigment print on archival paper



how it will happen

poetry | 50

ZOE PERLS

It will happen like this On the way back from a Target Superstore, on the highway In the back seat and listening to old cronies while they bicker, you will not be in charge of the aux and You will almost be in tears, about the bodies, about how they roll around each other, and how your voice gets higher when you are stressed and how that’s probably annoying. You will look to the front seat where bickering has been pulled into singing, or maybe silence, and you will remember that they feel all of this too, that you are nineteen in November and the heavy body of that fact will sit upon you as the left blinker clicks and clacks. Caroline will find a sealed beer on the corner of Carlisle and Central and you will all scream, that communal summer genuflected squeal, as it hisses when popped open. It will happen at home, you in the room next door, you remembering that everyone is feeling something, you walking around the living room for the hundredth time that night. You get to finish the beer. And it will happen like this too, Two heads tucked under each other Falling asleep, glazed eyes staring at photos of a summer trip on a childhood bed. In the car, listening to the Doobie Brothers at night as he drives, you tracing the edges of gift shop stickers stuck to the glove compartment with the drooping fingertip of your hand. And all the stores here close at ten p.m. so You have to wait till tomorrow Which is probably okay. You will cry here too, of course, a sigh of relief that this is it here, this sweet rock and roll and the tapping of the beat on your wrist. You will fall asleep quickly, and it will feel comfortable And you will wonder and worry if that is good. And it will happen, of course, like this, As you drive yourself to your mom’s house, sobbing at one a.m. You will run into her arms, and she will make you orange tea, acrid all over the mouth,


Smile as she tells you everything will be okay Nod along as you skip rocks past the things you guys don’tusuallytalkabout. She will tell you that you are similar to her, in some ways, but not everything, like how she doesn’t put milk in her tea like you do, but you don’t add that to the list of differences. You walk circles around your childhood home, this is the milky remembering. Then, as always, you will find a place of rest alongside the blue tv. And you will fall asleep, so easily In your childhood bed, Never alone, Surrounded by the weight of people who feel it all Too.

51


Alexandria Fortin

52

Wave Hello


phobia NELL JOHNSON

“W

here would you feel most comfortable, in all the world? Envision yourself there as I’m talking to you; it will make the recollections seem less real and less able to hurt you.”

As soon as he tries to conceive of happiness, it betrays him. He only thinks of conventional serenity: green expanses of treated grass, picket fences pure as clouds, beach chairs and blond women in Bora Bora. “If that’s too difficult, imagine yourself somewhere familiar, like your bed, or your kitchen table.” He can’t help but feel the anxiety of 9,855 nights in that gray bed, the pull of the sheets against his pale skin as his body shifts in fear. He is afraid to think of the ways the metal frame could reject him, the rust, the decay, the inevitable brokenness. The kitchen table is the worst. The organic material fades in his mind; a time-lapse of wood decomposing plays in his mind. He sees cracks, he sees algae; the legs of the table snap like heartstrings. He feels the reverberations of his father’s cold fist against the painted wood, he remembers a shattered bowl on the tile floor below, his heart palpitates like it wishes to leave his fragile body. His eyes open, rapt. “I can see that you’ve made a mental association that upsets you. Would it relieve your pain to explain it to me?”

short fiction | 53

His therapist is a broad woman; her words reach. She enunciates every syllable as if announcing a horse race. With the back of his head rigid against an armchair, his eyes close and he wonders if he’s being tricked into seeing her as a replacement mother figure.


If he wasn’t afraid to, he would shake his head

bleached hair and long legs, but every time he

so vigorously his skull would detach from the

dreams of fucking her it turns into a nightmare of

nuchal ligament holding it in place.

cracks. The bed is sliced down the middle by a man

“Could you try to explain your phobia to me

much larger than he wielding an axe. She is chopped in half, but her grisly death is not what torments

in general terms?”

him. It is the fear of physical breaking; the things

She has struck a chord. That, he can do.

that are supposed to hold him will always fail. He

“I’m afraid of things falling apart,” he says confidently, having been saying that same phrase ever since he could form the words.

wakes up with stained sheets anyway. When he finally has sex, it ends in complete petrification once his mind hones in on all the shaking; the shuddering of her body, the rhythmic thunk of the headboard. He imagines the mattress

He remembers the horrors of elementary school

falling out, the bed frame shattering under the

as the syllables fall out of his mouth. Why would

heady weight of his thrusts, and begins to panic.

anyone let children play with blocks that were

She leaves, and the bed is stable again.

meant to fall, to be rearranged? He watches the primary colors, the building blocks meant to be

It occurs to him that the therapist has been talking.

sturdy, being kicked down by a careless girl in blond pigtails. He shrieks and cries for hours, and when he superglues his structure together the next day, his mother is forced to buy his class new blocks. As a child, he did not play with others for fear of scrutiny. He became well-known to the teachers in the grade above him before he even got there, as his screams could be heard from down the hall. He thinks upon it in shame, and tries not to think

“—your locus of control does not span very far. It is impossible that all the structures around you could break as if they were nothing—” They are nothing, he wants to say. When has the human race made anything that could last? He cries and shakes at night thinking about all the architecture shattering to pieces in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. “—you could exert control over your phobia

about all the years his phobia removes from his life. Middle school proceeds in a similar fashion, yet with every year of maturity comes more oppor-

by becoming an engineer, or reading books on the topic. What a great way to—”

tunity for isolation. Instead of taking refuge in the

He wants to laugh. The nonfiction books are

library like any normal outcast, he fears the asbes-

on the second floor of the library. He couldn’t make

tos in the paint could make the forty-year-old walls

it up the narrow staircase without a panic attack.

fall down, so he lies down in the grass at the corner

He leaves the therapy session more shaken than

of the football stadium. Bug bites are a small price

before; each crack in the sidewalk to his home looks

to pay for structural integrity.

deeper now, and more precarious; he is afraid the

In high school, he makes the mistake of

bones in his own feet will snap in two like popsicle

getting tangled up with the guidance counselor.

sticks. He walks gingerly on the balls of his feet to

She is gorgeous, a grad student of twenty-six with

cushion himself.

54


When he reaches his house, he is pleased to see that his mother’s car is absent from the driveway. She stains every single one of his worst episodes. It is impossible for him to disconnect her soft words and her soothing touch from the roar of panic at every junction of his life, so he stops trying.

The last step is his favorite. Concrete pours over the foundation of the bridge like glorious honey. It amazes him. He cannot stop watching; he is afraid it will harden when he looks away, and that is his favorite part: the liquid becoming solid, the impermanent becoming the permanent.

Instead he lies on the carpet for comfort like he always has, working his hands into the bundles of fibers like working cilia, feeling the texture on his bare feet, and closes his eyes.

He watches it condense; the molecules become tighter and move even slower with every added ounce of his concentration. Once the atoms come to a variable stop he wants to leap onto the bridge like it is the coolest pool of crystal-clear water.

Now he thinks of paradise, his most comfortable place. He builds a bridge in his mind; it is thick and sturdy and sleek as a whistle, it shines ebony

Instead, he gives himself the pleasure of savoring its stability.

and onyx at once against moonlight. Its dimensions are flawless and unparalleled, the planning divine. He works this image in his head hundreds of times before he can make himself certain of its permanence. He re-envisions its building; the perfectly etched blueprint and its bespectacled, god-like architect, the stages of its production, steel beams flawless in proportion and placement. There are no workers, only the architect. He can only see the edge of glasses hunched over the blueprints with a scrawling pen. Each material flies onto the bridge as if magnetic; no human hands are required, there is no chance of failure now. He trusts the faceless architect and the bridge’s divine metal.

He tests the integrity of the massive structure one toe at a time, then tests the full weight of his heel and foot; his body is heavy now, it comes crashing down on every molecule of concrete, and he is free in the absence of paranoia from his race and species, he trusts this bridge, every cubic inch of it. He barrels down it in the breathless night and in the void of any air or sound other than the rhythmic pulse and slap of his bare feet, secure.

55


the body speaks french (the body cannot speak french)

Of ancestors who have no idea what she’s doing now, don’t know that Mama got out of the Bayou, got out of the whiskey, out of sweet humidity on the cheek, and there’s Some kind of fish hook to your family, but this time It’s a net, pair of panty hose and confession, Pink crawdads in a kiddie pool on Easter and headbands pushing curly hair to a halt. And in Paris, she could say please and thank you and ask for fresh bread (I’ve been practicing the same for years) (Fish hook holding the stomach back) But nothing was familiar, you see The women in the cold living room hold confession, they do not say please, do not say Thank you Do not feed you fresh bread, (make it wait).

(I’ve been practicing the same for years).

You see she (the body, the same) was not from there, she was from under a fold of hot fat, rice and beans, sugar from the cane, from evaporated milk and day-old fruit. You see, Take the body and bring it low, Speak French and bring it low, simmer it on the stove, Feed everyone for supper.

Cati Ambriz

poetry | 56

So we never talked about how everyone (the body) spoke French until my grandmother and All the aunts with their French names sitting in the cold living room, who she only knows through that thick mosquito-ridden wall of a different language. (citronella) That tonal switch, stock exchange, when you click into a new tongue

Divine Decomposition, lithograph, 30 x 22 in.

ZOE PERLS



medusa BELLA DAVIS

I

creative nonfiction | 58

don’t go anywhere alone in the dark, not by foot. Walking to the grocery store at sunset, there’s a stone sitting in my belly. Why does it almost feel like first-date butterflies? There will be no nervous laughter, no hand holding, no “So . . . what do you do for fun?” As much as I want to be someone who can be cold when she knows she should be, icy, stony, head of snakes—I smile. Guy outside the store, sitting on his motorcycle. I can feel his stare and I smile and I regret it. When I come out ten minutes later he’s in the same place and then he’s coming up on the street behind me. He stops a few yards away from me, and I—stupid stupid stupid—turn back. Maybe I dropped something when I walked past. Maybe it is simply crucial that I stop and hear what he has to say. “Would it be rude if I asked for your number?” And I think, here is a person who doesn’t understand anything. It almost makes me laugh, but I stop myself because I’m afraid I might not stop if I start, so I simply say, “Yes.” He rides away but I can hear the sound of his bike echoing through the street and I look for places to hide. The summer before college, my mom and I packed up the few belongings I still had at my dad’s house for the dorm as he sat in the living room. “You really need to get pepper spray.” I took the single piece of advice he had to give me about this shiny, brand-new venture, slightly tarnished now, and tucked it away, ashamed.


I think in your own way you were trying to teach me to be unafraid but isn’t that just part of being a woman in this world? I tell myself I don’t need to be afraid of the dark anymore, but walking down the street my stomach still does somersaults—look what I can do!—and I feel queasy, Tilt-a-Whirl nausea like I’m on a first date that is not going well. Like a first date? Romanticize it so it doesn’t kill you. If I let it, this rage will consume me. Once, I was younger and learning how to place the sensations. Maybe I should just be grateful for the attention. When they call out to me from across the street, maybe I should be positively beaming, rosy cheeks aflame with a girlish shyness and a shade of pride, and say thank you, thank you for noticing me, thank you for affirming my existence! You like seeing me smile? You should see me glare. I’ll turn you to stone. Isn’t this also part of being a woman?

59


Hyunju Blemel

Emma, pigment print on archival paper

60


Caleb Brenden

61

Vast


we are all lichen LAURA C CARLSON

We are all lichen1 toward a resurgent symbiosis amid news of one million extinctions2 in death we meet at stone3,4

open media | 62

Always a we, never a me5 embracing eight percent of the Earth6 Astronaut Xanthoria elegans has met cosmic space7 Cora cyphellifera is 126 species8 Rare cyanolichen, Erioderma mollissimum, sensitive to pollution and acid rain: endangered9 Cladonia rangiferina, staple for arctic caribou, frozen in melted glacier, unreachable through only inches of ice.10 In this age of loss11 our ancient presence is waning too take note: the possibility of immortality will not save you Hope is not the certainty that things will go well, it is the certainty that they are worth doing Lichen of slow growth, a micron a year, of ageless wonder, as old as the eldest tree we meet as interwoven assemblages invoking you embrace We are all lichen


inside text

1

Gilbert, Scott F., et al. “A Symbiotic View of Life: We Have Never Been Individuals.” The Quarterly Review of Biology, vol. 87, no. 4, 2012, pp. 325–341.,

doi:10.1086/668166. 2

Díaz, et al. “Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem service.” ipbes, 2019.

3

In honor of my grandfather’s burial in February 2019. His gravestone is new and lacks lichen growth, but is surrounded by trees blanketed with lichen.

4

Pringle, Anne, et al. “ESTABLISHING NEW WORLDS: THE LICHENS OF PETER-SHAM.” Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the

Anthropocene, edited by Anna Tsing, University of Minnesota Press, 2017, pp. 157–168. 5

Yong, Ed. I Contain Multitudes: the Microbes within Us and a Grander View of Life. Ecco, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018.

6

Gadd, G. M. “Metals, Minerals and Microbes: Geomicrobiology and Bioremediation.” Microbiology, vol. 156, no. 3, 2009, pp. 609–643., doi:10.1099/mic.0.037143-0.

7

Brandt, Annette, et al. “Characterisation of Growth and Ultrastructural Effects of the Xanthoria Elegans Photobiont After 1.5 Years of Space Exposure on the

International Space Station.” Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, vol. 46, no. 2-3, 2015, pp. 311–321., doi:10.1007/s11084-015-9470-1. 8

Lucking, R., et al. “A Single Macrolichen Constitutes Hundreds of Unrecognized Species.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111, no. 30, 2014, pp.

11091– 11096., doi:10.1073/pnas.1403517111. 9

United States, Congress, cosewic, et al. “cosewic Assessment and Update Status Report on the Vole Ears, Erioderma Mollissimum, in Canada.” cosewic Assessment

and Update Status Report on the Vole Ears, Erioderma Mollissimum, in Canada, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, 2009. 10

Struzik, Ed. “A Troubling Decline in the Caribou Herds of the Arctic.” Yale Environment 360, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 23 Sept. 2010, e360.

yale.edu/ features/a_troubling_decline_in_the_caribou_herds_of_the_arctic. 11

Young, Ayana. “Kerry Knudsen on Lichen and Life After Capitalism.” For the Wild.

63


Logan Monroe

Harold, They’re Lesbians, 24 x 36 in. Poltergeist, 24 x 36 in. (opposite)


65


nadine ZIAH GUZMAN

short fiction | 66

W

hen Opa Eldin passed away, my younger brother Klaus and I were sent into the depths of his home to excavate any artifacts we deemed worth keeping. My grandfather was a self-proclaimed “collector,” believing his home to be a museum dedicated to his life. Walking through the door, one might think his house was more suited to be on an episode of Hoarders. Boxes were stacked against every wall, some covered in a layer of dust so thick they looked more like crouched animals. We took a small box down and opened it to reveal many clouded jars labeled: braune, blaue, grune, and grau. Holding a jar, Klaus turned the box and found thick letters spelling out “augen.” He looked to me to translate. “It means eyes, Klaus.” He gasped and dropped the jar. Tears rolled down my face from laughing so hard. “Klaus! Those are doll eyes!” “I knew that! Asshole . . . ” I laughed so hard I choked on the dusty air as Klaus stomped away from the house. He stumbled down the front steps. He was drunk but didn’t think I would notice. I might not have if he hadn’t forgotten the reason we were there. I swept up the remains of the jar and its contents before following him to the truck. The next day we went through box after box. Every time I came across doll parts, I had to stifle a laugh while Klaus shot me dirty looks from across the room. We finally got through the entire front room and moved on to the first bedroom. I took the key my grandfather once wore around his neck from my jacket pocket and unlocked the door.


The cleanliness and femininity of the space was a shock after coming from the cave-like front room. Pink walls were lined with shelf upon shelf of dolls. This room was where Opa kept all of his special dolls; dolls he made for Nadine. The dolls were beautiful, each one more lifelike than the last. At a small pink table, child-sized dolls held a tea party, while tucked into bed was my grandfather’s finest work. Under a thick quilt lay Little Nadine. My sister’s features perfectly immortalized in porcelain and paint. She was barely a child when she disappeared, and it broke Opa’s heart. Klaus hadn’t been born yet, and Nadine was gone faster than my brain could create memories. Neither of us could feel Opa’s pain at her sudden disappearance. After Nadine was gone, Opa shut himself away in his basement. He made dolls day and night, placing them on shelves he built into Nadine’s walls. One night, grief-stricken and drunk, Opa locked himself in the basement. When he emerged several days later, haggard and stumbling, he was cradling a doll. This doll was the exact likeness of Nadine, and he tucked it into Nadine’s bed. From then on, he spent every moment he could with his “Little Nadine.” He read it stories, set it at the pink table with tea and cookies; he even sang it to sleep. Every few years, he withdrew into his basement to make other dolls, dolls that looked more human than not. He made these to keep Little Nadine company. Near the end of his life, Opa spent every waking moment in Nadine’s room. Klaus moved in with me; he hated the doll and hated Opa for loving it more than he loved him. We would go to

Opa’s house for visits and end up playing cards until Little Nadine’s bedtime; only then would he see us. The night before Opa’s death, Klaus left his house and vowed to only return if Opa got rid of “that damned doll.” Of course, he didn’t. There it was. Even as an adult, my urge to touch the snow-white porcelain of that doll had not faded. I wanted to know my lost sister, and holding the doll was as close as I could get. I lifted Little Nadine from the bed; she was heavier than I imagined. I looked at her tiny hands, her pink lips, the perfectly placed eyelashes. I began to cry. I cried for Klaus, for the sister that was taken from us, and for all the moments of my Opa’s life that were lost on this doll. Klaus cried too as he opened his arms for Little Nadine. Klaus took one look, teeth clenched, and hurled it against the wall. There was a terrible cracking sound, then nothing but Klaus’ harsh breathing. Shards of porcelain surrounded Opa’s princess. Little Nadine’s face had collapsed, revealing empty sockets where clear blue eyes had once resided.

I carefully removed bits of the tomb my grandfather had built around my sister, freeing her bone by bone. A small paper note, the shape of a heart, was lodged in her ribcage: “God forgive me.” The dolls having their eternal tea party looked on.

67


Kymon Palau 68

Alysia


Juana Estrada Hernandez

Lo que no los enseĂąan, 27.5 x 19 in. 69


Genevieve "Jon" Hartsock

Corpus, woodcut, 28 x 36 in. 70


the approach to heaven

(as viewed from a cemetery nearby) STAN HARTT

it’s like this . . . and i’m more sure of this than i am that it’s good. i’m reclining in the driver’s seat of a sun-yellow coupe, parked on a hill . . . looking off to the next hill where no road is.

not unlike the dead leaves that will themselves fall in six months, or five. i catch the scent, greatly thinned, but feel the effect nevertheless, and see from a distance, the place and hear its song. i know i can’t go, my theory—a crude truth religion— works its purpose when it seals my tears in resin amber moments, and shows the veracity by mere attempts to visualize my hobbling body hacking up the glen, near roses flattened in the tracks of my car.

poetry | 71

the hill i’m on is a parking lot, and i’m a cripple in a three-piece suit, waiting for the wind to gather the scent of the next hill’s cherry trees, splashed in its rock ice stream, and offer me the droplet mists of what falls behind.


nádleehí: two spirit

Authorfirst Authorlast

KYMON PALAU

Title, medium, dimensions

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watch the film

The surrealist elements of the film take inspiration from British photographer and filmmaker Nadia Lee Cohen, whose works utilize 50s and 60s American aesthetics to create alien exaggerations of modern life. In a similar fashion, “Two Spirit” dresses up its main characters in 50s housewife garb, long acrylic nails, and heavy drag makeup. Surrounding them are campy commodities from American culture—plastic jewelry, cheetah print bags, and cheap motel bedding. As the two characters pose statically with various objects, 50s elevator music plays in the background, making them seem as though they were pulled from old catalogues for housewives to peruse. The hostage’s muffled cries continue in the background, though, reminding us that they are not just props for products but also fodder for dangerous stereotypes and assumptions.

open media | 73

K

ymon Palau is a filmmaker and photographer whose Navajo and Tongan descent shines ‌‌through in his works. His short film “Nádleehí (Two Spirit)” is a culmination of themes he has explored prior—of gender identity, colonization, and the alienation of the “other.” The film follows “two men dressed as women,” as they are described by a police officer, as they drive out to a motel with a person who they have taken hostage. As the title suggests, the two characters are likely more than how they are described—in Navajo culture Nádleehí can encompass a multitude of gender expressions that do not fit within the Western gender binary. By being equated with cross-dressers, the two figures are both forced into this binary and into the outskirts of society, where they can be understood as threatening and abnormal.


denise GREGORIO TAFOYA

D

short fiction | 74

enise made up pasts while she cleaned teeth. Checkered herself with intrigue and worldliness as she scraped tartar and water-picked molars. It had started when an attractive, but terribly obnoxious, twenty-someyear-old male waltzed into Dr. Galbreath’s after three years of “funneling through Europe,” and proceeded to not-so-elegantly hit on her while she sucked saliva out of his mouth with her periodontal instruments. She wasn’t completely turned off by his floppy gums, borderline gingivitis, and the slight, off-white discoloration on his upper lip, but more by how easy he thought she was gonna be. Like, here is this local woman, for his intents and purposes sex-starved and scrubby, and here comes me: young, hip homecoming king who’s accustomed to bedding older, trysty European women. So, when the young man proffered an unsolicited, “yeah, Madrid gets so rainy in the winter,” as she dabbed at his prominent chin, “but you wouldn’t know nothing ‘bout that, huh, sunshine,” Denise couldn’t take it any longer and told him: “Actually, I don’t mind the rain. When I lived in Seattle, it was my favorite part. You know, how the city smells afterwards.” That seemed to put a damper on his fantasy of her, but he did manage to ask, between her sucking more saliva out of him, “What part?” and later, “For how long?” How she came up with “Federal Way,” and then, “for six years,” Denise couldn’t say, but six sounded like a strong number—giving her age and stability—and “Federal Way” was maybe the name of a bank off of Eubank, a street Denise traveled on during her short commute to work.


Dr. Galbreath told the swaggering traveler that

smugly, while also not having any idea how her lie would hold up under any interested scrutiny.

he might consider getting his wisdom teeth pulled, and that, at the very least, he should come back to

“Wow,” he gargled under her, “I’ve heard dope

get his cleaning finished, because “your tartar was

things about Canada. Do you, like, know how

too thick to take care of in one sitting.”

they’re one of two countries to completely legalize

When Dr. Galbreath left, the kid—‘cause that’s

marijuana?” At least, Denise thought that’s what he

really what he was, his birth year dangerously close

said, because she was scaling his disgusting mouth

to the year Denise started high school—acted like

pretty aggressively.

his three years of built-up tartar was all just some

“Yes, I always thought they’d be on the cutting

desperate, libidinous façade Denise was using as an

edge of that,” Denise said matter-of-factly.

excuse to see him again.

The rest of the short cleaning went like that;

“Well, thanks for spending so much time on

he gargled up questions from under her, and she

me,” he said sarcastically, and Denise asked if he

answered them to the best of her creative ability.

worked and when would be a good time next week

When it was through, and it was clear he was

to schedule the rest of his cleaning.

gonna ask for her phone number, Denise wracked her brain to come up with a way of including her

“What’s a good time for you?” he said, pains-

factual children in her fictional past. But he beat

takingly flirtatious.

her to the next line, stepping a little bit closer to

“We . . . ” Denise said, “have an opening at the

her and saying:

same time next week, if that works.”

“So, is there like a floppy gum hotline I could call?”

“Okay, Denise,” he said, make-cute reading her nameplate by her terminal, “I’ll see you next week.” His tone was all, you-crazy-lady-I-bet-you-

Which, if Denise was being objective, was not

can’t-wait.

a bad line at all; in fact, it made her smile for the

“Yup,” Denise said, her eyes not leaving her

first time, but it was a regretful smile because that

computer monitor like the root canal scheduled at

line was wasted coming from this guy. And Denise

two required her immediate attention.

said, gently:

When Ron—a strange name for a male in his

“No, unfortunately, but it’s like I tell my kids,

generation, or strange to Denise because he struck

just concentrate on brushing away from the gums

her more as a Ronnie—came back to “fine tooth”

and, of course, floss.”

his mouth, he asked her more questions about

That pretty much put a bow on it. Ron got a

herself, like he’d read somewhere that this was a

cleaning scheduled again in six months but didn’t

better way to pick up women than poorly humble-

make any other overt come-ons toward her. The

bragging about your travels.

wisdom teeth didn’t even get brought up.

“So, did you go to hygienist school in Seattle?” he asked, shrugging on “hygienist school” like he’d just coined the term.

Denise had never lived anywhere other than

“No,” Denise said out loud, “actually, I went

New Mexico. She was born on Indian land

to Alberta for school. In Canada,” she finished

north of Santa Fe—Tesuque—and she wasn’t

75


even considered Native American. She went to

Nicanor was a tiny comfort, though. She hugged

Pojoaque High School, lettered in volleyball and

him in the lobby of the casino, and his tough-guy

track, and was too bright to fall for the reserved

act made her laugh—like he was really gonna track

Native boys and bombastic Hispanic ones that

this Indian down and kick his ass. Oh brother.

chased her.

Occasionally, she let Nicanor make love to

After high school she was practical: she went

her—always on her terms and with his agreement

to community college for dental hygiene in Santa

that it wasn’t to be taken as a sign of their insepa-

Fe, lived at home in Tesuque, and worked at Camel

rability. His face killed her afterward, though. He’d

Rock Casino at the buffet.

look at her, his thick eyebrows craving her approval and needing to be trimmed, while his eyes urgently

But now, instead of boys flirting with her, she got used to the vacant leers of grown drunk men—especially at the casino.

loved her. She was embarrassed for him—how hopelessly he was in love with her was mortifying. When she graduated and moved to Albuquerque for her first dental job, he still called her and pretended like she was a big shot too good for him.

She’d never dated, not seriously, in high

Sometimes, she would give him the go-ahead on driv-

school—nobody at Pojoaque did she deem worthy

ing the forty-five minutes to see her on the weekends.

of committing her feelings toward. In Santa Fe, she saw a string of loser boys who she never really committed to, but it was expected that she at least

Her first job was a far step from Dr. Galbreath’s

entertain their advances. One, Nicanor, was a

in the heights. She worked in a strip mall dental

waiter at a surprisingly affordable little restaurant

clinic—next door to a Mexican supermarket—off

inside a downtown hotel.

of Central and Atrisco in the Valley. Most of their clients didn’t speak English. The ones who did

Denise didn’t know he worked there until

were South Valley parolees or older, retired white

their first date, when he took her to Del Charro,

women who had lost their dental insurance.

his work, and proceeded to leave her stranded at their table for long stretches of time as he chatted up

Denise roomed with a local ‘Burque girl, Alicia,

employees and disappeared into the kitchen. Maybe

who owned her own house off Lead and was a

he thought that would impress her.

reclusive, mature-aged student at unm who had some vague connection to northern New Mexico.

But really, Nicanor was the sweetest of the

Maybe their tías had once been friends.

Santa Fe boys she met during her two-plus years of school there. Once, when a drunken patron of the

Alicia and Denise grated on each other’s nerves

casino had cornered her in a secluded area of the

for six months, but by that time Denise had saved

dining hall and proceeded to tell her vulgar things,

enough for a proper security deposit and moved out

she had called Nicanor and he was there before her

of the crummy house off Lead into a one-bedroom

shift was over.

on the southwest side, below Coors.

The drunk Indian hadn’t touched Denise, but it

When Denise turned twenty-three, something

was demeaning all the same—made more humiliat-

changed inside of her. It was like she emerged from

ing by that fact that she had let his words get to her.

her hardened cocoon and was now a kowtowing,

76


sentimental young woman. She looked at her new

they were living in antiquity and had no business

self from every angle, trying to determine what

advising on matters of modern heart.

had happened, why suddenly she felt this repulsive

It hadn’t been six months after the birth of

compulsion to be loved. Maybe even to love.

their second child, their baby boy Daniel, when

It was in this state of softened shell that Denise

Denise learned he’d been researching leaving her.

met Tanner, a blond Midwest transplant stationed

They were living together, but he’d been tele-

at Kirtland Air Force Base. Denise told herself he

interviewing out of the state and had put his house

was a novelty—his name, first of all, was so hysteri-

on the market.

cally Caucasian that she couldn’t imagine introduc-

When she confronted him, one night after

ing him, by that name, to any of her northern New

dinner, about the real-estate agent calling while he

Mexico relatives.

was at work, he told her unforgivable things.

Denise was drinking at a Nob Hill bar, and

Mainly unforgivable because they were things not composed in the heat of the moment, but things stewed on, sharpened and edited in dark, vicious places in the mind.

he’d been buying her drinks and making her laugh disinterestedly. Before closing, he said, with such evident disdain that she couldn’t help but cracking up—also she was drunk: “Wouldn’t it be cool to fall in love tonight?” They hooked up at his house in the heights, but just made out. In the morning, out of an unknown impulse to appear less prudish, Denise started to

“You think ‘cause you’re hot for northern New

scratch an underside of him with two nails, and he

Mexico that makes you beautiful. And you’re so

woke up to her touch.

damn self-consuming, you don’t even realize it.” In the course of their yelling, he accused her of “never

“You’re going to scar me, Denise,” he said. But

actually loving me, Denise. You’re incapable of

she didn’t—eventually employing her thumb. He

loving another adult.”

just came and then went to brush his teeth.

Denise mainly cursed at him during this entire

At some point in their three years together

episode, and cried, but not in front of him.

they moved past scratching and Tanner impregnated her twice. Only after the first time—Denise

Feebly, he told her in the following weeks that

three months pregnant—did he accompany her to

he was sorry, “for that exchange of words,” and

Tesuque to meet her parents.

that she and the kids could come with him to Maryland where he had been clandestinely promoted.

There was nothing funny about it. She wasn’t sure who was more embarrassingly awkward,

But Denise ignored his apology and told him to

Tanner or her parents. Tanner didn’t even make a

“fuck off,” and that if she was incapable of loving

pretense of trying the posole and tamales her mom

another adult then he was insufficiently equipped

had cooked, and her father kept saying Tanner’s

to be a father and that the kids were staying with

name like he’d tasted something bitter, “Tan-NUR.”

her. He didn’t fight her.

The idea of marriage was a land mine they all

He helped her get an apartment off Eubank,

avoided, and Denise tried to assure her parents that

and moved their children’s stuff into it, and the only

77


thing that prevented her from scratching his eyes

also, judging from her appearance and Amelie’s

out was the way her daughter asked him, “Daddy

age, because they assumed Denise had been an

fly, but be back?”

irresponsible and poor teen mom. Like she was the poster child they had in mind for their Planned Parenthood donations.

Denise had been working irregularly around

Their looks suggested to Denise a young-and-

her pregnancies at the clinic, and though they

pretty-can-be-a-motherfucker attitude. At least that’s

would have taken her back with open arms, she

how Denise interpreted their overwrought, passion-

wanted a clean, fresh beginning.

ate inquiries into “how she was holding up.”

Dr. Galbreath’s wasn’t even hiring, but she

Karen, the mother to Amelie’s closest friend

walked into his carpeted waiting room, one week

Hailey, was the absolute worst. Amelie had let blab

after Tanner left, and dropped her resumé off with

to Hailey one time when she was eight that she was

the receptionist at the faux marble front office.

secretly not showering in the mornings because the

Two weeks later, she was working there part-

hot water was out. Denise had been getting around

time and unsuccessfully muffling her cries at night.

to fixing the boiler, but didn’t want just any old

Amelie, her three-year-old, asked her in the morn-

handyman to walk into their new home.

ings, “Why mommy sad? Daddy be back.”

Karen had taken Denise aside, as they waited

The sadness twisted to hate, and then the

for the kids after school, and not-gently-at-all

hate was just wrung out by time, and Denise was

offered her husband to fix “any of those annoying

comforted by the fact that she could recognize

male things that need to get done around a home.”

herself in the mirror again.

Denise didn’t take her up on her offer, but politely said, “Thank you, Karen, but the hot water

She was back to just being Denise.

was fixed today,” lying but also congratulating herself for not telling Karen to go to hell. “Oh, you just keep us in mind for the future,

At thirty-four, Denise was continually mis-

sweetie. My Bill has gotten so lazy since he retired,

taken for being in her twenties—which was

it would do him some good to remember how to

both complimentary and infuriating at the same

fix things.”

time. She was petite, and supernaturally thin—

And for the last two years, every conversation

though she exercised more than ever now—and

with Karen was a reminder that Bill was at her beck

her skin still smoldered with smooth youth,

and call. And had she mentioned he was retired, at

except around her fingers, where it was clear

the ripe old age of forty-five?

from her wrinkled webbing that Denise had been through all kinds of hell, and not just the periodontal kind. She’d taken to wearing gloves,

Denise had moved from the apartment Tanner

even into late April.

had helped her get after three years—an inter-

The white mothers at Amelie’s Montessori

val where she had budgeted diligently—once

school looked at Denise with unconcealed pity,

she had been hired full-time at Dr. Galbreath’s.

not only because of her single motherhood, but

Denise was determined to give her children a

78


true home, not a baby mama’s apartment, so she

Tanner confessed to having an affair with

bought a three-bedroom single-story close to the

his hairdresser, basically the whole time they

same neighborhood where she had roomed with

were together in Albuquerque. Denise didn’t say

Alicia. Now that neighborhood had a bougie

anything, just hung up on him. He wasn’t apologiz-

new title, University Heights, but Denise was

ing to her, she figured; he was relieving this guilty

still able to get an affordable mortgage before

burden for himself. Denise called him the next day, and cut him off

the property value truly shot up. It had a back and front yard, and they planted

before he could get started:

a garden in the backyard, and when Daniel turned

“I’m getting Amelie a phone, not to use outside

five he was insistent on installing a waterfall, having

of the house, but you are going to pay for it and it

seen it somewhere and it having stuck in his child-

is so you can call her directly. I never want to hear

hood fascination. Denise eventually acquiesced,

your stupid voice again.”

but made sure the pool at the bottom could never

It was the most level, mature insult she felt comfortable wasting on him.

exceed six inches.

They had a home, and Tanner called once a month, but Denise never talked to him for longer than it took to shuffle the phone from child to child. After a year in the new house, Tanner started to make up excuses to talk to

All his reckless, arrogant self said was, “I’m sorry for hurting you, Denise.” Even in apology, the prick was acknowledging the power he had wielded over her.

Denise too, things about the kids he was worried about. Telling her to cash the occasional

The kids still talked to Tanner, but lately

checks he was sending them. She corresponded

he was calling less and less often. Denise dis-

coldly with him for two months, and one phone

tracted them with whatever they wanted, and

called ended with Tanner saying:

she didn’t know how to feel about the fact that they seemed resigned to the fate of never seeing

“Denise, I miss you.” She pretended to mishear him and said, “The kids miss you too,” hoping her tone said they had forgotten all about him.

their father again. Not any time soon, at least. Fridays were Denise’s off day. After dropping the kids off at school she did her grocery shop-

“Stop it, Denise, you heard me. I miss you.”

ping, renewed any of Daniel’s allergy medica-

“No, you stop it,” Denise replied, and hung up. But it had been a small vindication for her.

tions that needed it, and occasionally bought him new, irregular T-shirts at Fallas, the dis-

When he called back sooner than usual, and

count retailer he was adamant about outfitting

had talked to the kids, Denise was on the verge

him. Daniel was always falling in love with

of suggesting that if he visited she wouldn’t be

places based on their name.

completely opposed to it when he said, “Denise, I need to tell you something.”

Once, Denise had driven them on a lazy Sunday to the clinic where she had first worked in Albuquer-

79


que, and Daniel wasn’t so much interested in her

brighter, and overall just more special, but Amelie

old place of employment but in the Mexican super-

yelled, “I know, Mom, I’m not white, you don’t

market next door that had been renamed “El Super.”

trust me, and you think . . . you think . . . ughhhhh

They had to go inside, and Daniel spent a good

. . . I hate you!”

thirty minutes squealing in delight over the raw tripe,

Denise rose and left Amelie’s room, not neces-

beef tongue, and menudo at the carnicería window.

sarily angry, and later she almost smiled, thinking

Since then, Denise had to pretend that she got all

about times she, as an almost-teenager, had had

their groceries at El Super, and kept spare plastic El

similar spats with her mother. There was a content-

Super bags around to put her co-op and Walmart

ment in knowing Amelie was just a normal pre-

purchases in for him to unpack on Friday afternoons.

pubescent girl. She had already forgiven Amelie before her

Amelie was more difficult to please, but she never betrayed her mother’s grocery deception to Daniel.

somber and beautiful daughter knocked on her bedroom door before bedtime and said, “I brushed and flossed, Mommy,” a word she hadn’t used since she was seven. “Good, get to bed, Amelie,” Denise said,

Instead, she dragged them from the Winrock to the Coronado mall on the weekends, and

pretending to be stern.

made Daniel and Denise follow her while she

“I’m sorry, Mommy, I don’t hate you.”

shopped, but at a safe distance in case she ran

“I know you don’t, but it’s late,” it only being

into anyone she knew.

9:30. Amelie walked into her room, lay on top of the

Sometimes, Denise let her see a matinee with a

comforter, and hugged herself against her mother.

group of white girls from Montessori, or her afterschool Spanish group, but Denise was always careful to inspect the group for xy chromosomes.

Denise brushed her daughter’s wild chestnut hair, and after a moment, Amelie said: “He doesn’t love us like you love us.”

Once, Denise had made the mistake of waiting for her right in the lobby of the theater, and Amelie had been crushed to find her kid brother and her mother waiting for her as her and her friends’ giggles emerged from something pg. She hadn’t made a big deal about it in public, but pouted in the front seat on the way home. Amelie had cried in her room, and Denise had sat on her bed and tried to apologize, but then turned mother on her when she couldn’t believe she was bending under her own daughter’s whim.

Denise didn’t say anything initially, composing herself, and then told her daughter that her father loved her very much, more than she knew, and not to compare her parents like that. But it bought Amelie thirty minutes more of screen time, as they watched some forgettable original E! News programming. Before ten, in trickled Daniel, wearing his one-sleeve-wider-than-the-other Fallas special shirt and Avengers boxers, and he said, “I love you too, Mommy,” climbing into bed with them.

They argued, and Denise went with the old standby, “You aren’t like those other girls,” and

Around noon on Fridays, when Denise had run

truly she had meant that Amelie was prettier,

all the week’s errands, she texted Caleb. Caleb

80


was the result of a drunk, ironic Thursday-night

He showed up with a tilted grin, and said,

perusal of Match.com about six months ago.

“What a cute neighborhood,” and she took him to

Denise had filled in her profile with white-zin

her bathroom, the only place the kids didn’t make

inspired platitudes, pilfered from Pinterest and

regular appearances, and when it was over she told

commandeered with steering sarcasm.

him he should leave.

“Fate is made by the bold.”

“You mean there’s no lunch?” he asked, and she

“Don’t need the validation.”

thought he was kidding, but then she looked him in

“Don’t regret anything because at one time it

the eyes for the first time and saw he was sincere.

was exactly what you wanted.”

She shuffled him out of there when he started to kiss her.

For the smoking section she wrote, “only fools,” and under children she put, “yes, two lil monsters.”

She considered putting a stop to it after one

In the morning, erasing the “only fools,” part,

Friday, when they weren’t making eye contact in

she reluctantly checked her matches and saw that a

her bathroom and she already knew she couldn’t

square jaw and close crop had messaged her:

text him the next Friday because Daniel would

“You seem really selfless and grounded.”

be off from school. He decided to blurt out, midcoitus, and with a pause between every third sylla-

Caleb was a twenty-seven-year-old med stu-

ble, “You’re such a freaky girl, Denise,” like he was

dent at unm-h, and Denise had only entertained

some rap star, and not a wannabe pediatrician. And

going on an initial date with him to Wild Avo-

he said it like she needed to hear it, more than he

cado because she truly wanted to get a look at

needed to say it.

this guy in person and ask what in the fuck he

But she just ignored his texts for two weeks,

was doing on Match.com.

and then messaged him when she felt certain her

It turned out that he was on Match.com

hatred for him had been mistaken and was more

because “Tinder has changed for the worst, and

indifference than anything else.

really it’s too superficial,” and also, Denise determined, because he was stupid.

Denise’s mother still kept her apprised of the

“I really need someone who challenges me intellectually,” he said, and Denise tried hard not

life of Nicanor Torres—whom her mother had

to upchuck her avocado bagel. He wanted to “erad-

always carried a flame for since he had dropped

icate diabetes from the ground up, that means start-

Denise off one night thirteen years ago and

ing with the children,” and the most intellectual

spent an hour watching a telenovela with them

thing he did, from what Denise could gather, was

in the living room.

Sudoku. But she was pretty sure he pronounced it

Nicanor was divorced, still living in Santa Fe,

wrong. Tall, handsome, and stupid.

but as a restaurant manager, and had a gorgeous

When she determined Caleb maybe wasn’t a

little girl—around Daniel’s age—whom Nicanor

psychopath, she texted him before their third lunch

worshipped. From what Denise gathered, the mother

date, “Lunch, my place,” and then her address.

was out of the picture, living in Texas somewhere.

81


Nicanor had turned his beautiful daughter, Gabriela, into a Seahawks fan and a flamenco dancer. Sometimes, when Denise closed her eyes, she imagined a world where her Daniel and Nicanor’s Gabriela would meet and have a torrid, perfectly symmetrical romance. That they would be high school sweethearts and go to college together and then matrimony. Maybe Denise’s mother was the one to remind her of Nicanor, but also maybe Denise liked all

the Facebook photos of him and his daughter at CenturyLink, and at flamenco performances, and of Gabriela sitting on the oak bar of the restaurant her daddy managed. Maybe Denise messaged Nicanor weekly, telling him how beautiful his daughter was and how great of a father he was. Maybe Denise did all this under the alias of Nicole Newman. Nicole Newman lived in Federal Way, Washington, was a rabid Seahawks fan, and was a thirtyfour-year-old recent divorcée with two kids.

82



contributors Eva Allison graduated from unm in 2019 with a bachelor’s in English studies and a concentration in creative writing. She was born and raised in New Mexico and is relocating to Aurora, Colorado to pursue a career in elementary education. (“Apprentice,” p. 26) Cati Ambriz is a visual artist and daydreamer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her works range from printmaking and 2d works to 3d works and community engagement pieces. Much of the work she has crafted has been derived from her personal experiences of coping and existing in a chaotic world and a deep yearning for global transformation rooted in equity and compassion. Her work is also informed by the biological structures and divinity of the natural world we are a part of. (Divine Decomposition, p. 57) Andreas Archuleta is a senior anthropology and ethnography student at the University of New Mexico. His desire to practice ethnographic studies lead him to work with the Wayuu over the summer of 2019. The Wayuu are the indigenous inhabitants of the arid Caribbean peninsula of La Guajira, Columbia. (Emeralds of Paradise, p. 12) Erin Benton is a senior English major. She has previously won the Lena Todd and Karen McKinnon awards for poetry, and has been twice published in Scribendi literature and arts magazine. She has a passion for storytelling in all mediums. (“Breaking a Mirror, Breaking a Gaze, and Facing Your Double in Your Reflection,” pp. 14-15) Born and raised in New Mexico, Hyunju Blemel spent her early years exploring the appropriately named Land of Enchantment. Always in hand were the collection of family cameras that were frequently dropped due to sheer wonderment. She is still found capturing the happy, sappy, and vibrant moments life has to offer. (Memory I Need You: Self-Portrait, p. 5; Tiger 1998: Self-Portrait, pp. 48-49; Emma, p. 60) Caleb Brenden is a New Mexican student, photographer, and graphic designer. His work can be found at calebbrenden.co. (Vast, p. 61)


Tori Cárdenas is a poet from northern New Mexico. They are graduating from unm with a master’s of fine arts in poetry in May 2020. (“Prayer for Dancing Bears,” p. 25) laura c carlson is an interdisciplinary artist dedicated to queer ecologies and multispecies justice. carlson has participated in group and solo exhibitions, lectured, and attended residencies across the globe. carlson’s most recent awards include the Puffin Foundation Environmental Award and an Albuquerque Public Art Program grant. (“We Are All Lichen,” pp. 62-63) Bella Davis is a senior studying multimedia journalism and international studies. She spends her free time writing, hiking, and daydreaming about life after capitalism. Her work has previously appeared in Limina: unm Nonfiction Review, of which she is the current editor in chief. (“Medusa,” p. 58) As a sociology and philosophy student, Alexandria Fortin is passionate about human dynamics and the collaboration between the individual and the collective. She lives with her two cats, Llewyn and Franklin, and dedicates all of her artistic accomplishments to them. She hopes to one day work on a film with her boyfriend and future husband, Robert. (Wave Hello, p. 52) Larson Fritz is a haphazard conglomeration of nerve cells, bones, memories, and desires who lives in New Mexico and occasionally tries to use language in a meaningful way. (“2002, in an Alternate Universe(s),” p. 6) Anastasia Gumbiner is a senior at unm pursuing a degree in art history. She has been writing and painting since she was able to and plans on continuing. This is her first publication. (“Veneration,” p. 10) Ziah Guzman is a constant reader and occasional writer of short fiction and poetry. (“Nadine,” p. 66) Genevieve “Jon” Hartsock received their bachelor’s degree in


printmaking from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Jon is currently pursuing their master’s degree in art history at the University of New Mexico, with aspirations to pursue a master’s degree in printmaking after. (The Triumph of Silencieux / the Worshipper of the Image, pp. 34-35; Corpus, p. 70) Stan Hartt has an it background, but is a lifelong creative with an interest in writing and inventing (particularly board games). He has recently finished a screenplay and is working on a short book about the coming Presidential elections. Conceptions Southwest is the first to publish any of his writing (and at age 61, he is delighted). (“#11,” p. 8; “:You Have 10 Minutes,” p. 38; “Loop .9.,” p. 42; “The Approach to Heaven (As Viewed from a Cemetery Nearby),” p. 71) Juana Estrada Hernandez is an mfa printmaking graduate student. Juana received her bachelor’s degree in printmaking at Fort Hays State University and is currently residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Self-Portrait (Part One), p. 9; “Corre, corre, ahí viene la migra,” p. 39; “No hay un lugar peor que aquí,” p. 47; “Lo que no los enseñan,” p. 69) Nell Johnson is a sophomore who studies English and Russian at the University of New Mexico. She was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Among her favorite topics in fiction are masculinity, regional identity, and family dynamics. (“Runner of the Woods,” p. 18; “Phobia,” p. 53) After graduating from unm, majoring in communication and art, Barry Kirk taught television studio production at the university and began a career in editorial photojournalism. He then transitioned into a successful career as an award-winning cinematographer. Today he gives back to the community by teaching cinematography at unm. (Marquette Park, Chicago, July 9, 1979, pp. 40-41) Sophia Milcevski considers writing and shooting as a part of her. In love with her typewriter and Pentax, she interprets the world both by putting words on a page, and through her viewfinder. She’s


been previously published in a local poetry anthology. (Self-Portrait, p. 2; Lavender Thoughts, pp. 16-17; Point Lobos, California, p. 20; Chinatown, p. 21) Logan Monroe works in the world of the theatrical. Referencing influence from the colorful ‘80s. Focusing his work in camp and the uncanny. (Harold, They’re Lesbians, p. 64; Poltergeist, p. 65) Yá’át’ééh and Mālō e lelei. Kymon Palau is a descendant from the Salt (Áshįįhí) clan, and born for the Tongan people of Tongatapu, Tonga. He is a nineteen-year-old artist who has a passion for producing art that he hopes invokes, inspires, empowers, and reveals taboo topics that society tries to crumble up and forget. Kymon is currently attending the University of New Mexico studying film and is currently working on his screenplay for his third film, Red Man. His career goal is to create films that bring awareness and acceptance of his indigenous people. (Alysia, p. 68; Nádleehí: Two Spirit, pp. 72-73) Zoe Perls is a sophomore at unm studying English and political science. She was a staff member at Conceptions Southwest for the 2019 edition and is a Scribendi magazine staff member for the 2020 edition. She enjoys writing, talking, and thinking about farmer’s markets, the political nature of flower fairies, and the power of girls sitting in circles together. (“Dayenu,” p. 1; “On Going Backwards,” p. 36; “How It Will Happen,” p. 50; “The Body Speaks French (the Body Cannot Speak French),” p. 56) Tobin Pirayesh-Townsend is a film major at the University of New Mexico with a concentration in cinematography. He is originally from the Pacific Northwest and draws inspiration from the natural and unnatural world. He plans to continue exploring photography in relationship to film. (To the Right of the San Felipe de Neri Church, p. 33) Rosanna Samudio was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 21, 1996. She graduated from cnm with an aa in English and is currently a junior at the University of New Mexico. She is now


majoring in English and minoring in Chicano/a studies. (“For Brown Girls,” p. 22) Max Schwaber is a multimedia artist working at Sandia National Labs as a 3d animator. He grew up in Germany and moved to New Mexico three years ago to study film. (Fragile, p. 24) Sam Snell is currently a junior studying studio art at the University of New Mexico. Born in Utah in 1999, he has lived in Albuquerque most of his life. (The Aegean Sea, p. 13) Aimee Lynn Stearns is a proud Lobo alumna from Northern New Mexico. Her work has been previously published in Conceptions Southwest. Also, she served as 2017-2018 Editor of The New Mexico Review at nmhu. Aimee Lynn was just accepted to a farming apprenticeship where she can reconnect to the land and be with her dog, Theo. (“Body of Smoke,” p. 3) Gregorio Tafoya is an aspiring novelist with an advanced degree in comparative literature from Project Gutenberg. He will forever be jealous of the creator of storiesaboutprince.blogspot.com and wished to have been the first writer to lament about not writing the play Arcadia. (“Denise,” p. 74)



Inside:

Drama!

Murder!

Love!

Family!

Heartbreak!

Choose your own adventure!

Friendship!

Childhood nostalgia! Cultural critique!

Ghosts! Dolls! Bears! Lichen!

. . . And much more!