Elysium Literary and Arts Magazine 2010

Page 1

Front and Back Cover art by Evan Gilbert

Coral Reef Senior High School 10101 S.W. 152nd Street Miami, Florida 33157 Phone: (305) 232-2044 Fax: (305) 252-3454 Volume 9

ELYSIUM Experience: the world as we perceive it, the words we employ, and the actions we perform. It is through experience that we grow as individuals, that we establish our place in the world, and that we learn to progress. Only through the ardors of experience, through the blisses of triumph, the agonies of loss, and the satisfaction of cognition, may we begin to create what may be called our own true identity. The pursuit of identity is not without its cost; often our sight is impaired by our fixation on, often our obsession with, the kinetics of minor details, and in that blindness, our sense of identity is transformed, contrived, and deformed. In this sense, our EYES, bewildered, betray us. Only by regressing to a state of unbridled simplicity may we regain control of our progression, may our grasping HANDS correct our course. From this uncomplicated state, we may reemerge with our own identity: our true FACE. Our journey as artists is not unlike this cycle—we grow into our own selves in the pursuit of our own unique style. Art, in effect, becomes the pinnacle of our self-assertion.

Jolie Shapiro, Editor in Chief Jolie Shapiro, Editor in Chief


Elysium’s 24 member volunteer staff meets Thursdays after school from October to May.

Literary Staff

Fabiana Alceste Jorge Cartaya Audrey Perkins Rebecca Raskin Cody Robertson Jake Schiff Emma Singer Catherine Zaw

Art Staff

Maria Arteaga Angie Llanos Raye Ng Anette Nolasco Lian Ortner Melanie Patterson Lynette Vargas Ryan Volum

Layout Staff

Keilani Rodriguez Eva Suarez

Editor in Chief Jolie Shapiro

Literary Editors

Michael Cisneros Anna Mebel

Art Editor

Esther Mitrani

Layout Editor

Natasha Thornton

Promotions Manager Ayodele Jolibois

Technical Advisor Emma Singer

Faculty Supervisor Amy Scott

Editorial Policy: Elysium, Coral Reef High’s annual literary/arts magazine, showcases the creative work of students grades 9-12. The literary and art staff both judge the submissions anonymously. The works are selected based on their style, distinctiveness of theme, and overall quality. The art and literature pieces are then matched based upon thematic relevance.

Colophon: The Elysium 2010 staff created volume 9 using Adobe InDesign CS2© and Adobe Photoshop CS2© on 24 Dell© desktop computers. The staff selected TwCenMt Bold for the titles and Candara for the text, back cover, and staff pages. The layout editor chose the Chiller font for the front cover. The 2010 edition consists of 90 individual inside pages and is printed on 80 lb glossy paper. The cover is printed on 100 lb glossy paper. Rodes Printing published 275 full color copies of the magazine all of which were distributed free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. To see past issues and performance clips visit: http://crhs.dadeschools.net/elysium or http://amyscott.com/elysium.

Special Thanks: We would like to extend our appreciation to Mr. Scott McKinley for his artistic guidance and to our principal, Ms. Adrianne Leal, for her continuing support. We would further like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Mrs. Sandy Robertson and Starbucks© for their generous contributions to our fundraising activities.

© 2010. All rights reserved to each copyright holder.

POETRY/PROSE 10 Prologue: I Would Have Hands

13 15 18 20 22 23 26 27 30 31 34 35 38 39

Growing Pains Drift! Fossils Anatomy Death of a Quirky Girl Your Shadow Sentimientos de Insatisfacción Our iFuture cheeky cigarette smoke Winter Air Malignancies Crossroads Façade Interview with a Writer

Cody Robertson


Rebecca Raskin Isabell Manibusan Maria Arteaga Camila Bernal Michael Cisneros Rachel Gonzalez Mario Hernandez Ian Campa Isabell Manibusan Catherine Zaw Jorge Cartaya Laura Comin Catherine Zaw Anna Mebel

HANDS 46 48 49 51 53 55 57 62 63 65

The Bathers Graphomaniac Red Crack To Brad and Laura These aren’t tears. Summer Reading Je-ne-sais-quoi, or: On Being a True Artist Juntos grin like a cat, shake me loose Morning Routine

Oliver Acosta Anna Mebel Gabriel Rodriguez Fabiana Alceste Isabell Manibusan Anna Mebel Michael Cisneros Mario Hernandez Isabell Manibusan Anna Mebel

FACE 71 74 76 77 80 81 85

Possibilities in Ink Ode to Who We Used to Be Aperitifs From Victim to Friend Queen of the Canal The Deepest Ocean Interview with an Artist

91 Epilogue: A Prayer for Life

Cody Robertson Jorge Cartaya Camila Bernal Jorge Cartaya Ayodele Jolibois Angelica Martinez Emma Singer

Cody Robertson


Octopalmae vulgaris

11 14 16 17 19 21 24 25 28 29 32 33 36 37 40 41

Furia Growing Pains Jellyfish Portal Callinectes homo-sapidus Placebo Effect Six Rounds Allegro’s Revenge T.V. Nocturnal Glacier Valley Faceless Self-Portrait Equilibrium Portrait of Isabell Art Spread

43 45 47 50 52 54 56 57 61 64 66 67

Serpentine Dream Fantasma Brainwash Reds Creep Quick Stop Newfoundland Scribble Me Smoulder Pique Comfy Couch 68 Art Spread

69 The Last Gasp 72 Fuerza Bruta 73 Irrevocably 75 Pepper 78 Your Move 79 The River Styx 82, 84 The Other Half; Brushfire 86 Aztec Sugar Skull 87 Sourtongue (Left); Paranoia Scene Right) 89 Art Spread 92 Sewage

Natasha Thornton Lynette Vargas Isabell Manibusan Caitlin Ryan Maria Arteaga Natasha Thornton Adrian Cardona Anette Nolasco Natasha Thornton Victoria Diaz Taelher Sealy Anette Nolasco Lucas Gargaglione Lynette Vargas Melanie Patterson Amy Scott Maxwell Flugrath, Evan Gilbert, Angie Llanos, Ryan Volum Natasha Thornton Lynette Vargas Maria Arteaga Melanie Patterson Angie Llanos Eva Suarez Anette Nolasco Stephanie Moore Eva Suarez Eva Suarez Patrick Oleson Stephanie Moore, Jolie Shapiro, Natasha Thornton, Ryan Volum Evan Gilbert Ana Juan-Gomez Ryan Volum Lynette Vargas Natasha Thornton Eva Suarez Lynette Vargas, Raye Ng Adrian Cardona Andrea Espinosa Taelher Sealy, Natasha Thornton, Lynette Vargas Maria Arteaga

Natasha Thornton, Octopalmae vulgaris, Gouache and Ink.



I WOULD HAVE HANDS CODY ROBERTSON I would have hands: mine are too effeminate to be rightly called such. Ah hands effete, the velvet, vim-less back of which I know too well, your callused underbelly speaks of your suppressed desire: ye hands that feel compelled to hide, wish to become as Hyde’s Hands: a ‘quiver with life. I would have hands that would claw at my face, that would tear psychodynamic globs from my visage, and reassemble this pusillanimous vessel of clay. I would have hands that would brashly pluck the ripest, the plumpest of forbidden fruits, Hands that would prodigally pump prodigious streams of juice down throat and trickling, let it absolve my face. I would have hands that would sully themselves in mankind; Hands that would get dirty with the quintessence of dust. I would have bestial hands, rapacious hands, Hands that would never know society’s encumbering moral vestments, Hands that would find their zippers instead. I would have new-born hands, which would lightly grasp at God’s accusing finger; Hands which would supplicate only with the thought of Saint Theresa’s unconscionable Ecstasy. I would have vital, muscular hands, Tom Buchanan’s, Capable of cruel leverage, of indulgently excessive handshakes. I would have unpredictable, mischievous hands, with thoughts all of their own, Hands which would clench, And release, in rhythmic paroxysm; Flaubertian hands, of obvious phallic connotation. But, I would have eyes too.



Lynette Vargas, Furia, Gouache.

It becomes increasingly difficult

for the artist to forge his or her own identity amidst the clank and clutter of quotidian life. The untrained eye easily falls victim to sensory overload; the jarring cacophony of the bells and whistles of a heavily adorned lifestyle often confuse and misguide us down the path towards self-realization. These eyes deceive us; instead of revealing the true nature of the world around us, instead of reflecting inwards towards our identities, they shroud, leaving the images distorted, and our perceptions skewed.

Thus, we become lost.

GROWINGREBECCA PAINS RASKIN I keep a fetus in a jar and treat It better than It’s biological mother would have. I feed It fish flakes three times a day. It prefers the red colored ones. It will grow up to be strong. Maybe a doctor, or a soccer player. When It is a child, I will help It with It’s homework. I will let It play in traffic and like all good parents I will yell when It puts a hammer through the television. I will support It through science fairs, and teach It how to make a homemade bomb out of soap. I will sternly tell It that blowing up your enemies is wrong even though watching their detached hands wriggle around on the floor is much more entertaining than cable television these days. When It is a teenager, I will perform a botched lobotomy on It so It forgets that It loves me. It will date, and do all the things I did but wish my little baby won’t do. I will let It sit in jail for the night when it commits It’s first crime. I will be mad on the drive home but let It put the ax through It’s bedroom walls because even the landlord needs a little reminder of what little children are capable of. I will applaud It’s good grades and be at every soccer game or dance recital. When It grows up, I will send It on It’s way with a carry-on bag and my best wishes. The bag It will sell. The wishes It will gain no profits from. I will watch at a distance as It starts It’s own family and repeats this process all over again. Because, after all, that is what good parents do.


Anette Nolasco, Growing Pains, Ink.


DRIFT! ISABELL MANIBUSAN Bonfire today! crumpled ideas ripped what-ifs soiled memories cast away how-it-ought-to-be’s greedy tongues lapped up the insane the incredulous the forsaken leaving powders of regret waiting to be puffed away by anxious breath


Caitlin Ryan, JellyďŹ sh, Acrylic on Canvas.


Maria Arteaga, Portal, Gellatin Silver Print.


FOSSILS MARIA ARTEAGA As a child, I never knew why we moved around so much, but I never considered it anything out of the ordinary. I actually never considered it at all — it was just something we did. While other families camped, my family moved. We never went far enough to change much: houses were never homes, neighborhoods never meant anything. The last time we moved as a family, I was in the third grade. This house was our largest yet, and one of the first to be built in the complex. Because we were the first family to move in, it became our clubhouse, our playground in its entirety. Our starved little townhouse had a view of the man-made lake, and the absence of fences marked the distinction between our property and its surrounding wasteland. It was my first backyard. My brother and I explored it for hours. The ongoing construction site fed our imagination and provided us with materials—empty beer bottles, cinderblocks, and wooden planks with rusty mails—that we used to build our world. We began

finding fossils: round, pointy, rough, cast, mold fossils. Some we dug up, some we simply stumbled across. Our playground was ridden with them. At first, they were great treasures: corals and lion paws, but mostly bivalves, like oysters; we once had a reason for accumulating them at the foot of a small tree, but eventually we forgot it. Over time, fed by small hands and tender hearts, the miniature pile grew with abandon. One day, my father laid down new grass and my mother planted red flowers. With dirty feet we huddled together on lawn chairs, around Le Moulin de la Galette, as my mother introduced me to Renoir and my father promised to take us to Paris. Years later, the mound of fossils was covered. Neglect destroyed my mother’s flowers as walls were put up between us; my brother stopped talking and my parents fought. My family fell apart. Since my parents’ divorce, we’ve moved twice more and I’ve been told it’s strange to move so frequently. I still think of the fossils often.


Natasha Thornton, Callinectes homo-sapidus, Gouache and Ink.


ANATOMY CAMILA BERNAL The mirror cracks, and I can’t piece myself through a distorted reflection. This dress doesn’t let me breath, and with one swift movement it lays abandoned on the floor, vibrant red against a pale pink carpet. Broken pieces of myself bounce back into my eyes and crawl their way into my brain. Layers of armor starting with my skin. I peel it off in solitude and stare at the details of my flesh, burned with names and words. The strong muscles in my legs, and the weak ones of my heart. I can run, I can run so fast your hands will not grasp my arteries and pull me back in. The nervous system that has built its nest above my spinal chord; A crown of fears and insecurities. Bones, the foundation of my character, The pains of adolescent growth, The bones stretching, elongating, strengthening, so that I can stand up in front of this cracked mirror and look deep inside where memories are splashed like ink stains, Where I could pick my self up piece-by-piece and slip the silk dress back on so it could hug my curves and become my armor.



Adrian Cardona, Placebo Eect, Digital Imagery.


He died today, In somber grey and Black sock, matching Black business belt and Humorless shoe, Dressed as if waiting, Ready, for her own funeral. Once of the rotten, The rancid, the vicious, The maggot, The heroine of long-lost Boys with wide eyes, Punk rock wishes and dynamite dreams, Rebel, rouser, rotten, rebel yell muffled, choking, To quiet death rattle, Long, colored tube socks Pawned for Tight noose of neck tie. Heroine of my dreams, Gone now, Made up and never looking back.

She died at seventeen (of old age) A martyr of the quest Of youth, The queen of the alchemist Attempting to turn iron to goldInstead our age becomes us golden gods, Causing storms, Turning the iron-wrought constructs Of youth To weathered orange rust. She of bleached teeth Quietly resigned To the wills and whims of William-men and Wilma-women Wills that were For her kind to die in the name of decency. Her tombstone reads: “Here lies Montmartre, and where is Peter Pan, now?”


YOUR RACHEL SHADOW GONZALEZ My thoughts lead back To the disdain you left On my sheets, skin, lips. The loathing I see when In the betraying glass My outline holds the gun to you.


24 Anette Nolasco, Six Rounds, Ink.



Natasha Thornton, Allegro’s Revenge,, Ink and Gouache.


En los tiempos de ayer, Soñé con los días del futuro. Como se desatará, o quien será parte de él. Soñé con los cielos y los mares, El intrépido placer de volar, Y una o dos carcajadas para dar. Con esos amigos, los que me dejaban alcanzarlos cuando iba muy lento, Los que me apoyaron cuando me faltaban dedos, Y los que se reían de los chistes sin gracia que yo daba. Pero hoy todo eso me falta, No tengo sueños, sólo nostalgia. Se me escapa todo del alcance de mis manos, Y no poseo nada, absolutamente nada. En lo que pensé que mi futuro caería, Se ha convertido en telarañas, sin balance y atrapado en la desesperación. Pero por qué, Porqué darme por vencido, Porqué perder la fe en mi mismo, Porque no mirar hacia delante, a un futuro lleno de esperanza, Y porqué no tener paciencia para que llegue lo que falta.

Yesterday, I dreamt of the days of tomorrow, Porque soy humano, How it will unfold: who would be a part of it. Y es parte de la naturaleza I dreamt with the heavens and the seas, Complicar su propia existencia. The intrepid pleasure of flying, And one or two chuckles to share With the friends, those who let me catch up when I went very slow, Those who lent me a hand when I was missing fingers, And those who laughed at the humorless jokes I gave. Today, all of that is missing, Instead of dreams, I have only nostalgia. Everything escapes my fingerless grasp, And I have nothing. Absolutely nothing. Where I thought my future would fall Is now a spider’s web, and I am trapped without balance in desperation. But why? Why give up? Why lose faith in myself, Why not look forward, towards a hopeful tomorrow, And why not have patience to await what is missing? Because I am human, And it is human nature To complicate our own existence.


OUR iFUTURE IAN CAMPA 2012: the year that mankind will be obliterated. At least that’s what we’re being told. History’s most prominent, intelligent, and influential authorities all seem to have reached the consensus that about three years from now, everything we know and love will cease to exist. The Book of Revelations, Greek oracles, astronomers, Nostradamus, the Mayans, even John Cusack are all advertising their own special brand of apocalyptic mayhem. The scientific community will find their answer in the prediction that a planetary alignment will cause the Earth’s poles to shift, thereby forcing up to become down, north to become south, and every day to become opposite day; the solution: every cartographer in the world (yes, all four of them) must start designing maps of our new upside-down world so that the tourism industry does not suffer. Christians, however, can look forward to a much warmer and brimstone-filled prophesy; their only hope for salvation is to align themselves with one of the two sides: a soldier of Christ or a Devil’s advocate. Adherents to the Glenn Beck school of thought believe that President Barack Obama has some sort of secret magical power that will eventually bring about the end of the world, but that can only be activated by passing socialist programs and universal healthcare; their arsenal against the Apocalypse seems to be drawn-out Fox News segments and demands that their country be returned to them from some nonexistent band of nation burglars. Hypochondriacs maintain that either bird flu or swine flu or al-Gaddafi’s fish flu or some other flu in which the animal itself is unaffected, but that is the bane of human existence, will decimate the world’s population and reduce the survivors to wandering, cannibalistic nomads; they can be seen stocking up on hand sanitizer, canned food, and hazmat suits for their Cold War-era underground shelters. Of course, amidst all the confusion and terrifying theories, Hollywood is there to guide us like a crooked lighthouse shining its light in the wrong direction during a torrential night at sea. Hollywood’s extensive budget and special effects technology make its doomsday hypotheses especially

convincing; their method of survival somehow involves convoluted plots and hundreds of millions of dollars from disgruntled moviegoers. Regardless of which theory is correct, it is apparent that 12/21/12, which looks more like an arbitrary date selected by a lottery machine than a seriously concerning portent of disaster, will be devastating for anyone still alive during that time. But what if there was another theory, one that was avoidable and perhaps even hopeful? Fortunately for the human race, my doomsday auguring is just that. It involves a company that started out small and laughable, but that has grown into an electronics industry giant and has developed a cult-like following. I am, of course, referring to Apple Inc. Their iconic lowercase “i” prefix is found in all aspects of life, from the iPod to the iPhone to the controversial iUrinal, so it is only a matter of time before they take over the world. Skeptics will say, “That’s impossible. Anyone that lets me listen to my hundreds of Britney Spears songs anywhere I go could not possibly be evil. Steve Jobs loves us.” Be that as it may, Steve Jobs no longer has control over his own destiny. He is the Dr. Frankenstein of our era, and his monster has already been unleashed upon our unsuspecting planet. Except this grotesque crime against nature is not a reanimated corpse or sentient robot army. No, it is something much worse. Steve Jobs’s monster is the “App”. Granted, it is difficult to comprehend how such seemingly harmless, albeit occasionally useful, programs could lead to the complete downfall of the species that put a man on the moon, invented existentialism, and created the McGriddle. However, that is a naïve and superficial observation. To truly know and analyze Apps is to recognize their destructive and dangerous nature. Although spawned only a few years ago, Apps have taken the world by storm. Everyone has come across an App at one point or another in their lives. No matter where you go, from the crowded streets of New York to the remote heights of the Tibetan countryside, you are guaranteed to find someone using one of these little seeds of evil. $200 million worth of Apps are sold from the iTunes store each month. If the government released its own App instead of sending billions of dollars to failing corporations, the economy could have

recovered by now. Apps, like a government Magic 8Ball in which the only answer is “another government bailout,” or a quail hunting game featuring Dick Cheney and his friend/victim, could have generated enough revenue to end the global recession. It is their everoutstretching reach and continuous permeation into the lives of all inhabitants of Earth that give Apps their truly destructive power. Most iPod and iPhone Apps appear to improve our quality of life, make tasks easier, or entertain us when we are bored, but beneath this guise lies a hidden, perhaps even accidental, evil: every App slowly deteriorates our evolutionary adaptations - speaking in strictly Darwinian terms, Apps, one by one, replace the genetic traits that enabled us to survive and thrive. Something as simple as the Flashlight App, in essence a blank white screen, yet a favorite among users, reduces what little remnants of night vision humans have left to nothing, completely crippling mankind in the dark. The GPS App, a default on all iPhone models, eliminates any natural sense of direction man has to the point that some people can’t even navigate to their kitchen from their bedroom without the use of technology. Consider this: green sea turtles can instinctually find the same exact beach, that they themselves hatched from, every mating season across vast expanses of ocean, but they don’t use iPhones; the correlation is undeniable. Apps even reach across age barriers with old favorites like Pacman, Tetris, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Sure they appear to be nostalgic walks down memory lane, but with the reemergence of these games comes the reemergence of such epidemics like Nintendinitis and Pac-Man fever. In the 80’s and 90’s, these conditions afflicted thousands of gamers, and the responsible games are now available as mobile applications for cell phones. Now that players no longer need to take breaks, the numbers of victims can only be expected to increase. Books available electronically will evolve into books that read themselves to us, and texting, as it continues to become more and more popular, will overtake speech as the main medium of communication; Apps will simultaneously bring about the end of the written and spoken word. Thus mankind, once with great achievements and even greater aspirations, will be reduced to a society of mindless, Facebook-

Victoria Diaz, T.V., Charcoal.

checking, perpetually-twittering automatons. Luckily, as I mentioned before, there is hope. The salvation from imminent destruction I proposed is best summarized as “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Apps do serve as useful assistants for everyday life. In fact, I suggest that everyone become familiar with Apps. Only through education of the hidden potential of Apps can we hope to avoid collapsing as a society. We must become sentinels, watching the Apps, and the vanguards of our future. Steve Jobs, with his hypnotic hand gestures and mesmerizing black turtlenecks, must never be allowed to become too powerful. Thankfully, Bill Gates and Microsoft Corp. are keeping Apple at bay. Until that fateful day in 201 2, no prophet can possibly know what will happen, but as we wait, some in crippling fright, others in strange anticipation, we must remember that Apps can never replace the indomitable human spirit.


Taelher Sealy, Nocturnal, Sharpie.


cheeky cigarette smoke ISABELL MANIBUSAN i fell in love with a girl of knocked knees and clumsy feet. “oh, i can’t dance...” but i swung her onto the linoleum and she stepped on my polished shoes, twice. the girl who could never hold a grudge with her copper resolve and water morals, she claims her writing betters with sleep depravity, she’d call me up at 5 o’clock in the morning and i’d listen groggily as she read me her poem. her cheeky little grin flowed through the telephone line into my ear and i listened to every nonsensical bit. her fluent adverbs and floral adjective trudged through my jagged syllables and harshly exaggerated verbs. i fell in love with her smooth shoulder blades and bruised hip bones. i kept her cheeks red and eyes batting. me, this person of rough laughter and diamond idiocy. i’ll never know why she caresses my raw knuckles or loves the feel of sweat in my hair. or why she insists on making me her burnt cookies and laughs when i try to eat them anyways. i fell in love with the way she would take my cigarette from me and take a little puff, then blow the smoke back at me. her eyes were mischievous as she took the heel of her rainboot and crushed it. “these will kill you one day.” she had me knotted in her black tight curls and glued onto her bubblegum pink nails. she was stitched onto the pocket of my jeans and rotted in the grime of my palms.


WINTER AIR CATHERINE ZAW A sheet of navy satin streaks the sky And ivory light Rustled sun meeting moon through the trees Upon a frozen lake, piercing the ebony water, Wishing for purity, a boot stuck in the ice Down the snowy path, Away from the winter air,


Anette Nolasco, Glacier Valley, Spray Paint.

Nothing bids farewell.

Lucas Gargaglione, Faceless, Oil on Canvas.

MALIGNANCIES JORGE CARTAYA She cuts across a discolored canvas. A diseased jaundice yellow, Welling crimson that follows The path of her blade. When she was young, As green as he is yellow, She used to watch with wide eyes when Her betters would cut, expose and excise Only to sew everything back together again. She used to find it ironic: Inflicting harm, picking and pulling apart, Peeling back all the layers of skin, muscle and bone Actually served for the better, Reaching the malignancies underneath. Yet now the irony escapes her. The more she cuts, the less she cares. Cut. Expose. Excise. Suture. No excitement or emotion. just her and the malignancies. Just her and the sterile jaundiced skin Welling crimson when she runs her fingernail Across it.


CROSSROADS LAURA COMIN He had lied to me Found the panties on the floor Barely-there red lace Found in the briefcase Pink lipstick and phone numbers His forte: young blondes Red six-inch high heels Matching bra on the dresser Earring on the floor Goodbye wedding ring He was the man of my dreams Now he is a she


Lynette Vargas, Self-Portrait, Gouache.


Melanie Patterson, Equilibrium, Gouache.

FAÇADE CATHERINE ZAW Diamond was the most beautiful of rocks, Emerging from black grey stone. She was pleased to be the first selected By those who tunneled deep to find her But for all she was satisfied with herself, Apparently no one else was: She could not have any impurity Not a scratch, not a speck, not one feature No less than perfect And so she was cut, Shaped into expectations for every facet Forced to squeeze into the socket of a metal ring Made into a symbol of ultimate expense and sacrifice Dreams and fulfillments, even an embodiment Of burdens and failures–so heavy that she Was dropped into water and flushed down a drain Only then did she realize: Beauty is a curse, and she had been among those chosen to fall


INTERVIEW WITH A WRITER ANNA MEBEL She cites relationships as her major source Isabell Manibusan is a young author of inspiration. Her poems are constructed with a brimming with ideas and inspirations. She has a love affair with words, spinning phrases in her mind fascination regarding how two people can change each other and the way they treat other individuals. until they become poems. She often plays with She is interested in different types of relationships, grammatical structure in her poems, leaving some from heterosexual to homosexual. A bisexual completely lowercased and employing parenthesis herself, Manibusan is passionate about equality, and and brackets. she purposefully leaves the gender of her subjects “I use parentheses and brackets to make ambiguous in her poems. things optional. With parentheses you can choose She prefers poetry to other forms for writing to read it or not.” because of its abstract nature. Her style of writing came about because “No one thinks in complete sentences, so of an online artist community, deviantart.com. It poetry is the art form truest to thought.” allows members to create profiles and post their The choice to write in lowercase letters is an writings or art for peer review. Seeing the poetry of aesthetic one, uppercase letters Corina90 made poetry being too bulky and assertive to “No one thinks in complete convey her ideas. understandable to Her other influences include her and pushed her to sentences, so poetry is the art cartoons like Spongebob and Yo create her own work. form truest to thoughts.” Gabba Gabba and the witticisms Manibusan is not afraid of Shakespeare. of harsh critique, and Her style is forever changing, and Isabel the virtual community has helped her hone her confesses to attempting rhyming poetry in the writing. manner of Shel Silverstein. Throughout her growth “Having the Internet to research other as an artist, her imagination will remain a driving people’s works has been beneficial to my writing. force. Instead of just having a journal of poem-scraps, I get When she is asked about her creative to have an audience for my work.” process, she launches into a story, “Well, I will The Internet has also been instrumental be walking down the street, and I will see a man in allowing her to fill in the blanks of her youthful standing on a street corner drinking his coffee. I inexperience. will look at him and I will wonder, is he standing “I have never really experienced anything. there because he is waiting for someone, perhaps a woman? And what if, at that very moment, she is I have never lived in an apartment in the Bronx having an affair with another man in the apartment by myself, but the Internet helps with that. [Manibusan’s piece “These aren’t tears” is set in the upstairs. And when the coffee drinker finds out, will he be enraged, depressed, or want to join in?” Bronx area.] I can read about people and make up my own stories based on them.”


Amy Scott, Isabell Manibusan, Mixed Media.


Maxwell Flugrath, The Fire Within, Gouache.

Evan Gilbert, With Eyes Like These, You Can See Everything, Oil on Board.

Ryan Volum, Couch, Film Photography.

Angie Llanos, Static Reections, Digital Photography.


hands Natasha Thornton, Serpentine Dream, Color Pencil and Ink.

Artists become freed

when we rid ourselves of the mirages of false vision and choose to rely instead on our visceral experiences. When we purge ourselves of the supposed and instead immerse ourselves in the known, or what is felt to be true, we are able to evolve through regression. In a sense, our hands deconstruct until we are left with that which we can control, alone in the solace of creation. Our art, the product of our blind hands, becomes our anchor to reality, a guide to truth, both of the external world and of our own selves.

Lynette Vargas, Fantasma, Scratchboard.

THE BATHERS OLIVER ACOSTA Our bodies, chiseled, ďŹ ne, yet worn Our tattered rags, too large and torn Our garments stripped, with ďŹ gures bare Our beauty dead, fake smiles and hair They do not see, nor think, nor care I came to cleanse, to wash and bathe I do not care how long it takes I see the red, and each worn trace I cannot scrub it from my face


Maria Arteaga, Brainwash, Gellatin Silver Print.


GRAPHOMANIAC ANNA MEBEL Let’s hail to the graphomaniac, lying around in unwashed jeans, figuring to become anyone (perhaps a Joyce). He sees his mind drenched in espresso and longing (his mind a grand cathedral for truth, beauty, and indifference). But he forgets the world’s chiaroscuro he forgets the stinking cigarette butt in a house dressed in peeling flower wallpaper (grandma’s), the sweet stench of rotting apples in the garden, dad’s weary brown eyes, eyes like Einstein’s (trying to find the theory of everything).


REDGABRIEL CRACK RODRIGUEZ I never did the dishes I never washed the clothes She took me up the mountain To let me decompose She started off the driver I started off her friend Things were going smoothly Til we came ‘round the bend The crack was merely fortune She sent me like a dog To rub my figures on it I didn’t stay there long A moment’s all she needed I heard her peel away At first I stood there motionless Hoping she’d come back my way Thank god, I heard her coming But she was in a rush Alas, she hit me going 50 And turned me into mush.


Raye Ng, Reds, Digital Photography.



This one’s for my friends’ parents; Please try to understand The reason for their odd descents And raucous garage bands. They’ll sleep on my bathroom floor again Not too long from now To “escape my step-dad’s wrath.” And then? I wouldn’t dare to disallow. They’ll keep patching up their clothes With pins and studs and spikes, And pierce their eyebrows, lips, and nose, Continuing their irreverent strikes. But I can’t watch the destruction Of my punk-enthused best friends And though I’ve aided the production, All I can do now is mend The broken spirits of these youths. Maybe it’ll happen at a house, At a park or in a telephone booth. But for now, We’ll scream “Oi! Oi! Oi!” while the streets we roam, Echo with the grumbles of the upper class Trying to sleep through our shouts And the crunch of the empty bottles’ glass Will drown out our sorrows and doubts.


Melanie Patterson, Creep, Digital Photography.


THESE AREN’T TEARS. ISABELL MANIBUSAN My eyes shoveled the tears out of the drive today. It was getting a little hard to see through all the salt. So, no. I wasn’t crying. The news hit me with your plain grey suitcase on your way out, the one with the elephant sticker I had stuck on. I thought you were getting that milk I had needed to make my quiche. But you went out and got so much more than milk [or quiche]. I found out about your girl that lives in that rickety apartment in the Bronx; even though she doesn’t have an accent when she says hot dog or quarter. I spoke to her on the phone, you know. She had wanted to know what your favorite food was. I told her it was quiche. I went to her rickety apartment today and gave her the recipe with the rest of your things, even that poster with the kitty on it that said, “Hang in there, baby!” She’s very pretty and young, almost like a model. Those green eyes were like a garden of beauty and serenity. Didn’t that sound poetic? I thought it did. So, did I cry when you left? No, my corneas overfilled the tub and the water was just overflowing. Don’t worry about it though, I’m sure they learned their lesson.


Angie Llanos, Quick Stop, Digital Photography.


SUMMER READING ANNA MEBEL When I first walked into my babushka’s house after a threeyear hiatus, I was shocked: the house where I had once found mystery and excitement under every nook and cranny had become a shriveled, broken world. I was too shy to utter anything beyond a polite greeting to my relatives, wishing I could shrink back to the time when this house was the most familiar place in my world. Yet, after listening to stories about clever cats and anecdotes filled with self-deprecating Russian humor, I resolved to love the walls adorned with fraying flower wallpaper as fiercely as I did when I was smaller. Even the hobbling stools and the ancient refrigerator stirred a sense of compassion in me. My summers in Ukraine reminded me of the reality I lost. My relatives were happy, but their standard of living stood in stark contrast to my life in America. There was a burgeoning middle class in Ukraine, the cities were filled with European shops, and my father’s sister was proud to announce that her family bought a new apartment. My family readily welcomed my dad and I. Babushka cooked up a storm, making blinis, varenyky, and borsch. When we visited, we spent most of the time with my father’s side of the family. Vacationing on the sea, we visited Tatar markets, worked on our tans, and I read classic Russian novels. I braved through Raskolnikov’s brilliant monologues on murder while chewing baklava. Viewed through the prism of War and Peace, my understanding of the world was expanding. In Ukraine, what was most apparent was the resilience of the people. Taking economic turmoil with a sense of humor and an enterprising mind, they were adept at survival. The government, however, was clearly ineffective. The infrastructure was in shambles, and my aunt often joked that to get home, a person must know all the bumps and holes in a road. The politics of the country were akin to a darkly humorous satirical novel: government officials were making up a new language for legal documents and forcing a ludicrous brand of nationalism onto its subjects—pitting the Ukrainians against Russians, forgetting that half of Ukraine actually consisted of individuals of Russian heritage. I am almost always happy to return home to a bookshelf full of books read and re-read, but memories of my Ukraine trips have a strange quality to them. The beautiful country that I can never quite call home haunts me.


Eva Suarez, Newfoundland, Silver Gellatin.


Anette Nolasco, Scirbble Me, Ink and Tempura.


Je-ne-sais-quoi, or ARTIST ON BEING A TRUEMICHAEL CISNEROS Forget the petty, naïve, and moronic preconceptions you have been entertaining regarding art. Art, that is, good art, has nothing whatsoever to do with purity of expression. Whether art serves as an emotional, spiritual, or even vital method of release is of absolutely no relevance to its caliber. The aim of art is to be pleasing, to appeal to a very specific yet nameless audience of a self-appointed upper tier of critics and connoisseurs. Of course, art should never be pleasing to the masses, those simplistic and offensive dregs of the sophisticated world – any art that does appeal to even one of those cretins cannot, obviously, be considered “good” art, as caliber is prime and thus not divisible by the lowest common denominator. Good art, in all of its abstract and apostrophic glory, should only attract the detached predestined – those who can appreciate the nuances of the vague, and then congregate at tobacco-stained coffee shops located outside of the sphere of society to discuss, appraise, and gleefully critique. It is the aim of worthy art to criticize, rather than to convey or consider; after all, what is the point in posing a question or confessing true emotion when it is so much more risqué to relay an anti-social condemnation? It would be savage to assume that anyone of any significance would have the time or patience, let alone the interest, to read a simplistic poem that

innocently conveys something as trite as the joys of love, the pains of loss, or the confusion of adolescence. This is considered “bad” poetry, and must be avoided at all costs. Really, who in their right mind would bother with such repetitive and universal rubbish as a love poem when there is a perfectly nihilistic snippet of artistic lines attacking the very concept of love itself to be absorbed? To convey raw emotion is to be a poor artist and a lesser being. Tired as I, the critic, am of having to read bubblegum simplicity, I have benevolently donated precious hours of my time to create a how-to guide on creating good art and being a true artist. It should be reiterated that the only art worth the medium it is printed on is the art that boils down emotions into meticulous syntax and polysyllabic words, into deliberately profound, though unobvious, subject matters and aesthetics. And what of love and loss? Save it for Ask Abby; no one of any importance cares what makes you happy or sad. All that is of relevance is what sounds interesting and mysteriously artistic to the ear of the critic. In short: 1. Write only about complex and exceedingly different subjects. How personal the topic is to you is irrelevant; write to be interesting, not to be understood. 2. Never use end rhymes. Ever. Forget the fact that some of the greatest poets of the English language were hailed for their


manipulation of the end rhyme; it is trite, uninspired, and nowhere near as complex as art should be. 3. Don’t use words that have but one sound to them. Cram as many syllables into one sentence as humanly possible to reassure the critic that you are indeed more intelligent than the dreadful masses. 3.5 To that same end, be sure to overuse words like “plethora” and French phrases such as “je-ne-saisquoi” and “la Boheme” to remarkable degrees (the French are the only culture that will ever understand you, even if you don’t speak the language). 3.75 Don’t use contractions, either. 4. You should never speak directly to your audience; this creates a forced and unwelcome bond between the artist (who is above society) and his reader (who may be a part of society). 5. Art that is cute, endearing, or smile-producing (unless that smile is a malicious grin, a pained wince, or a manic-depressive and macabre acknowledgement of the desolate state of the world around us) is absolutely worthless. 6. Always renew your poetic license before attempting to break conventional grammar rules. 6.5 If conventional grammar is to be broken, do not stop at but one rule; borrow from the Cummings playbook: punctuate nothing and Capitalize even less. 7. Never attempt to create irony;


the astute and learned members of society have no time to stoop from their critical pedestals to rifle through double-meanings. When in doubt, never forget these two cardinal rules: 8. Be vague to the point of incomprehension. The true artist is a mysterious figure, and his art is enigmatic. There can be no criticism made against something that cannot be understood. 9. Always attack society, for it is the enemy of true art. Even when all else fails, there is no need to lose hope; after all, creativity is a privilege of the elite, and thus cannot possibly be accessible to even those who follow all nine holy guidelines. If the creation of true art is not within reach, then you may still attempt to resemble the true artist. The effect of emulations is much the same as the satisfaction of making good art: you become entitled to artistic apathy and transcendence to a level of existence that is above society. Thus, even if you are incapable of producing quality art, you may still fit the mold by following these quick guidelines. The ultimate goal here is to disassociate oneself from society in such a way that interest in oneself is cultivated, rather than lost: 1. Learn to love the corners of a room. At any social gathering or event, the corners are the best friend of the artist. Moodiness and sulking levels must be maintained high, such that these corners actually seem to

darken with the presence of the artist. 2. Invest in a dark beret with matching horn-rimmed glasses. The object here is to look different and unique, so it is necessary to wear the uniform of the artist. 3. While you’re at it, invest in a black turtleneck, tight black pants, and/or a black blazer. 3.5 An alternative to black is a painfully bold color, such as bloodshot red. In this case, it is probably best to wear something like colored boots or an obnoxiously matching scarf, just to bring the point home. 4. While on the topic of clothes, it is important to remember that generic consumerism is the enemy of the artist. Thus, it is important to only shop at bleak thrift stores. 4.5 The alternative to this, of course, is to simply buy everything at American Apparel – a chain store that cares more about the Bohemian spirit than making money 5. Either shave your head or grow hair out to the shoulders. There can be no middle ground. 6. A quirky eating habit, such as raw veganism or extreme caffeination (the act of forsaking solid food for cups of coffee and organic teas), can really only help your image. 7. Never smile. 8. Type everything using an antique typewriter. When asked (by your teachers, loved ones, etc.) why you simply don’t use your computer, simply yell at them that you are an artist and storm out of the room, ranting about socialism.

If doubt exists about the execution of one of these points, or in any situation in quotidian life, simply remember this one guiding principle: 9. To be a true artist is to be miserable; the one unifying factor between all recent worthy contributors to the canon of humanity has consistently been a sense of nihilistic dread for themselves, their fellow man, and their environment. Any true artist, then, must follow the mold of the lifeloathing misanthrope, maladroit, or miscellaneous malcontent. I sincerely hope that the general stipulations in this guide have proven useful in the construction of your own individual artistic identity, capturing that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that embodies the spirit of good artistry. Simply remember to follow these instructions to the letter, and you will do well in the realm of the true artist. To offer one final piece of advice: as an artist, if there aren’t at least three people who would love nothing better than to punch you square in the jaw, you are not doing your job.


Stephanie Moore, Smolder, Digital photographty.


JUNTOS MARIO HERNANDEZ Cuando estoy sólo sueño con el horizonte y las palabras me fallan. No hay luz en una habitación donde no hay sol, Y el sol no se aparéce si no estás aquí, junto a mí, a mí. Por cada ventana se abre mi corazón, el corazón que te has ganado. Dentro de mí has derramado la luz, La luz que encontraste al lado del camino. Juntos A sitios que nunca hemos visto o recorrido, Ahora marcharemos, navegaremos juntos en barcos a través de mares, Mares cuales cesan de existir. Juntos los experimentaremos. Cuando estoy solo sueño con el horizonte y las palabras me fallan. Y claro que sé qué conmigo estás, conmigo. Tú, mi luna, estás conmigo. Mi sol está conmigo, conmigo. Y juntos A sitios que nunca hemos visto o recorrido, Ahora marcharemos, navegaremos juntos en barcos a través de los mares. Mares cuales cesan de existir. Los reviviré junto a ti Los mares y los cielos que hacen que mi amor trote por ti, Los reviviré.


When I am alone, I dream of the horizon and words fail me. There is no light in a place where there is no sun, And the sun does not appear when you are not here close to me, close to me. For every window, my heart opens- that heart which you have won. You have spilled light inside of me, That light that you have found beside the path. Together. To sites that we have not yet seen nor walked, Now marching, navigating together on boats traversing seas, Seas that cease to exist. Together we will discover them. When I am alone, I dream of the horizon and words fail me. But I know that you are here, close to me, close to me. You, my moon, are close to me, My sun, are close to me. And together To places we have never seen or walked, Now we march and navigate together in boats traversing seas, Seas that cease to exist. I will live them over with you The seas and skies that make my love endure, We will live them once again.


grin like a cat, shake me loose ISABELL MANIBUSAN we ran through the rain and jumped into the puddles. you unclipped my hair and i shook my morals loose until water and beliefs dripped in my eyes and i was temporarily blinded {by love} we let the wind chill us to our bare innocent marrow, and we held each other as our cells shivered {your body was so close to mine} we looked into each others eyes, silently, because we had shushed lips that were hushed closed, {his lips were the seal, his quivering breath the staples} we shared existences and were content with sitting, {gawking} at each other until the stars yawned and the sun fell into a slumber, falling out of the sky {into our hearts} the cheshire cat grinned at us from his lofty perch in the sky; the big dipper made his whiskers twitch.


Eva Suarez, Pique, Film.


MORNING ROUTINE ANNA MEBEL She slips o her skin to rearrange her bones, heightens her cheeks, softens the jaw line. Casts shadows in her eyes, reddens lips.

She desires freedom, for purity after transformation, for a vague odor of smoke and owers to mix with her skin.

She is stuck in the amber of time, waiting for her face to change the world.

Every morning, she forces herself to become, become, become, once more.


Patrick Oleson, Comfy Couch, Oil

Patrick Oleson, Comfy Couch, Ink and Gouache.


Ryan Volum, Moment, Digital Photography.

Natasha Thornton, Jason, Charcoal.


Stephanie Moore, Isthmus, Charcoal.

Jolie Shapiro, Into the Mist, Digital Photography.



Evan Gilbert, The Last Gasp, Ink.

The artist emerges

from the comfort of simplicity, a blank canvas.

From the foundation of the known, we are able to synthesize a new perception of the world. A symphony is born, not of overloading senses, but of sensual appreciation– the certain and vital truths of realization.

Out of the cycle of deception, redemption, and cognition, we are finally able to forge an identity; not a transitory mask, subject to removal and replacement, but a face, solid and unmoving.

Thus the spirit of the artist is finally found.

POSSIBILITIESCODY IN ROBERTSON INK The stage is lit, dimly; a soft phosphorescent glow emanates from a small lake. The outline of a tenebrous shore is just discernible, beyond that, an impenetrable blackness pervades in ambiguous infinity. The stage is silent; save for the mild lapping of the lake on and off the shore… on and off. Its repercussions echo in cavernous eternity. Suddenly, there is a disturbance amid the shallow waters of the lake; a desperate thrashing. [A vague sketch of a man is perceived, he appears to be clawing clumsily to the shore. His face is of yet indistinguishable.] Narcissist, I: I crawled wetly from that viscous primordial soup, half drowned, clinging to the damp shore, out of myself, hoping, praying to grow out of my gills quick enough to take selfish gulps of that which had for so long been denied me. It was the stories and it was the fish that forced me out. Darting, multiplying, discordant thoughts, they were organic tyrants that consumed one another in orgiastic frenzies. Still they grew; no room existed for the both of us. I gazed down upon the lake’s surface. It betrayed no sign of conflict, its obstinate surface persisted in undulating in pious serenity; coldly, lucidly it appeared to forget my passing. I noticed with some satisfaction that the level of its waters had dropped, displaced. It was in that moment I first beheld my rippling visage; I was frozen, awestruck. The eyes were what riveted me, kneeling to that shore; there was a sublime indulgence to be gleaned in how those glassy blues reflected my reflection, back and forth, indefinitely. It made one feel deathless. It was then that I realized how apt was my reflection, how, (in a trenchant way), accurate. Peering closer, flaw searching, I examined each pore individually. Eyes burrowing into the mundane wrappings of identity, the poor pixels, the endless ink blots that make up me. It was the sheer enormity of the task, interpretation, which flooded my senses with despair. Pneuma, the godhead:

******* It was the fall.

The fall shocked me. Not his deadly floundering, his struggle for life, his drowning; It was the fall. But looking upon him, how could I not feel pity,


Ana Juan-Gomez, Fuerza Bruta, Photography.

“Embrace the struggle Cody.” ******* P.E. Me (premature enlightenment—not... what you’re thinking...): Remember the funeral, how wet he was still, a stiff wet blanket. The casket leaked and the eyes leaked and through it all we were all soaked: the sermon hailed from fire and brimstone but in spite of our plebeian fear, it inspired a certain hope, a certain burning sense of urgency Pandora knew. Remember how we turned to each other with that holy fire burning in our belly, how we laughed and knew that if we did not find an antagonist we would provide him, how we rushed out of that temple feeling that the world was fresh and new, spilling out into the streets beseeching the pedestrian to feel the enlightenment of our truth. And it was I who yelled the loudest, running out amid the traffic screaming: “Live!” “Live!” “Li- ” The MackTruck just woke me up. And in the darkness, I begin my day. I rub the muck from my eyes, I shower it off. Rinse, Wash, Repeat fogged up the mirror, I can’t see my teeth, But I am sure they’re still there. I get dressed then eat or did I get it backwards? Why wry rye Grabbed the Great Gatsby, Stowed away Fight Club, I’m nothing but what I’ve read. I’m… I’m late for the bus the worn iPod shuffled, A Day In The Life played crossing the door.


to be nothing more than a gilded cage. And we felt as if we were fools, as if the odyssey we had bled, sweated for had been for nothing. But we reached to the highest tower of this gilded cage and when we looked out to the horizon we each saw something. You saw a road winding and instead pointed to the west,

to the

to the sea, where an Atlantis–a brilliant emerald–stood boldly, parting the turquoise of the waters. You sighed and said that Atlantis was lost, that those that went looking for it lost themselves to the sea. Both of you argued. You said that the diamond city was no mirage, and she said that Atlantis was not lost. When you turned to me and asked what I had seen when I looked out on the horizon, I merely shook my head and left you to your argument. The next day you slung a pack over your shoulder and told me that you were going to the desert. Mirage or no, you would brave the relentless sun and reach your city of diamonds. You left then, alone and solitary. I watched until you were a speck in the horizon, until the yellow sands swallowed you up and you were lost to me. She made for the port and boarded a ship. From the deck she waved at me, yelled that she would find Atlantis and that the sea would not swallow her up. I watched as the winds turned her ship’s sails into concave clouds, and then she too was gone, devoured by the turquoise after all. And what did I see when I looked from the tower? I saw no diamond city past a desert of depravity, or an Atlantis parting the waters of the sea. What I saw was our journey. This Ithaca was a gilded cage, but it was not being fooled by the glimmer of gold that made us fools. No, it was not recognizing how rich already were when we reached it. The laughs we shared, the blood we spilled, the tears we cried. The days when we laid

on our backs in green pastures and watched the eternity of the blue sky, or when we ate together around our makeshift camp. Together we outsmarted the Cyclops. We clung to one another when crossing the ocean, Poseidon’s waves unable to pry us apart. It was not Ithaca that would make us rich, no, it was the journey. I saw that when I looked out from the tower, and while you both saw the lines of the horizon, I gazed on eternity. There will always be an Ithaca. For you it was a diamond city that may have been a mirage, and for her it was a lost city that she thought she’d found. Yet even if you find that your diamond city was not a mirage, you will discover that it wasn’t diamond at all, but a cheap imitation. Even if she reaches Atlantis’ lost shores she will find that it has already been found, and that her dreams of glory and fame were for naught. It is not Ithaca that is the treasure, it is the odyssey. We were too foolish to realize that, and we went our separate ways, unknowing that the Cyclops could overpower us now, and that Poseidon’s fury could easily throw us overboard without someone to whom we could cling. We used to be cavalier and reckless, the three of us. And now we’re are nothing but disillusioned cynics who try to give hope one last chance that will inevitably fail, misplaced as it is. Yet I will keep my eyes open, my journey never fading from my memory. We may fade, but Ithaca never will. Take comfort in that.


Lynette Vargas, Pepper, Gouache.


APERITIFS CAMILA BERNAL My right breast is bigger than my left. Eroded by the winds. Cup it. Protect it. Let it tenderly rest upon blades of grass.


FROM VICTIM TO JORGE FRIEND CARTAYA I was six-years-old the first time it happened. There I was, watching Inspector Gadget at my grandmother’s house. One minute I was entwining the fingers of my left hand to somehow mimic the movements of Dr. Claw’s aptly named claw and the next minute I had completely lost control of my left arm. It’s hard to describe— losing control of your own body. It’s frightening, maddening and so morbidly interesting at the same time, almost like your body somehow just acquired a life of its own, one that doesn’t include you. That’s the terrifying part. As a six-year-old, I simply chalked this strange occurrence to being a fantastical nuance of my left arm that I hadn’t been made aware of. The fear that had gripped me during the tremors faded away. I boasted about it; I was fascinated by it. The adults in my family, well, they weren’t. My aunt, who had been watching me that day, told my parents and later told my grandparents and cousins and aunts, until I was the only one who wasn’t scared senseless by my rogue arm. It was a mass, a tumor, exactly half a centimeter long, and was pressing against the part of the right side of my brain that moved my right arm and leg. It was an impostor, a foreign alien in my skull. They didn’t know how it came to be; they just knew it was there. And they needed to take action. 77

For this ‘operation,’ this ‘surgery’, I had to shave off my hair. Naively enough, that’s what I cried about when my parents told me what would be happening. Losing my hair. . . You see, I didn’t know that I would be medicated, laid out on an operation table and then have a drill literally rip me open. Rip me open . . . Well, the operation was a ‘success’. They said I was very lucky. That’s only half true. You see, here’s where that odd thing about me comes up, that ‘something’ a lot of people have noticed, asked and expressed concern about. . . maybe even bothered and mocked me about. I woke up to a changed body. I had lost all movement in my left arm and leg, a ‘side effect’ of the surgery. The doctors had given me my life, but they had also stripped away basic movement along with that tumor. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t twiddle my fingers or my toes or wave. All that was left was this pain. My scar seared—that place where the drill had broken through and into my skull and staples were all that was holding it together. It hurt to laugh; it hurt to cry; it even hurt to talk and smile, sometimes. All I knew was that I wasn’t the same anymore. But that wasn’t a bad thing; it had just happened. Besides, I could be ‘fixed’. Occupational and physical therapy would restore movement

to my lost limbs, and eventually they did. One day I could walk again, and later I could run. I could climb stairs and hold a hand and pet a dog. And I felt something I had never felt directed toward me before . . . . Pity. It came as ‘ay, pobresito’ and ‘ay, Dios mío’ from family and even from complete strangers, who would step aside when they saw my wheelchair or my stunted hobble. Only my parents pushed me to be better, only they expected no less of me then they did before. But pity is infectious, because soon after people began

Natasha Thornton, Your Move, Oil on Canvas.

to pity me, I began to pity myself. I looked in the mirror and didn’t see ‘me’ or ‘just a kid’. I saw a victim. It wasn’t my fault! I’m special, I’ve been wronged. I’m handicapped, disabled, a cripple. I deserve your pity; I deserve special treatment. No, I’m entitled to it. I would look at my limp and my weakened arm and begin to make excuses. They didn’t have to be inventive, not when the perfect excuse was plain to see. Teachers no longer expected me to get to class on time on account of my ‘difficulty’. P.E teachers went easy on me. My

best friend, who had always run ahead of me before, waited for me to catch up. Why should I work when I had gone through so much? I was owed so much, wasn’t I? I was entitled to peace, to love, to understanding. I hated the world because the world hated me, and as though proving its hate, ‘tragedies’ of which I was ‘faultless’ befell me regularly. And all through this the limp remained, and people asked, and I told them and expected their pity and understanding; and in the mirror there were the bandages and gown, the staples burning along my scar. And I kept making excuses and hating the world, when in reality I hated myself. Deep down when I scowled and glared at strangers and made excuses, I was looking at myself with so much disdain. I hated the limping. I hated the self-pity. I hated how I chased friends away and kept new ones a safe distance away. I hated how I never gave my all anymore, and consequently, failed. I hated the excuses, and I hated the bandages that persisted, and the gown that lingered and the burn that remained where the staple had been. My self-imposed solitude within my battered fortress that had endured so much at the hands of the universe—myself, myself!—had stunted my growth, and I was lonely. But somewhere

I became a ‘friend’, and then they showed me that the universe didn’t revolve around me, that life wasn’t a melodrama about my hardships. I tried becoming someone else, someone that better fit this mold of ‘friend,’ but how could I, with those bandages around my head, and the hospital gown on, and the staples slowly becoming infected? I’m unwrapping these bandages and letting fresh air in. I’m taking off this old hospital gown. And finally, I’m removing these staples that have been holding together a wound that had closed up a long, long time ago. I take off these excuses, these insecurities, these selfpities and cast them aside. I don’t need them anymore—I never did. They are no longer my crutches. I can walk fine without them. I pull them all off until I stand here, raw, unprotected, yet utterly and completely myself. You see, it’s called the past because, eventually, you have to get past it. Get past the past. Take off all those masks you have on. Tear down every last defense standing between you and the world, everything that’s not you. Then just look out. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

along the line I stopped seeing myself as solely a ‘victim.’



Eva Suarez, The River Styx, Digital Photography.

Huddled over a pot of stew, my grandmother worried out loud, “You know, there are crocodiles in there. They had it on Channel 7 News that a crocodile was walking around here, right by the canal next door, and only God knows how many baby crocodiles follow her around. You don’t want to find out, do you?” I certainly did not want to be gobbled up by a crocodile, or any of its children for that matter. The crocodiles may have lived in the canals of South Miami, but they were much more tangible in the canals of my grandmother’s imagination. Still, I kept away. That all changed when I was nine. My father, my brother, and I rode our bikes to the park down the street from my house. At the park, the grass ended where the canal began, without so much as a fence for protection. I stayed in my sandbox, safe and sound. My brother, however, had other plans. In search of an adventure, he convinced me to walk near the water to see if we could see any fish. Heeding my grandmother’s warnings, I resisted for as long as I could before my brother persuaded me to walk next to him, adjacent to the canal. I kept a safe distance until my brother and I thought we saw a fish. I got closer to see its scales but slipped on the wet bank of the canal and came face to face with the very fish I was observing. I was nearly submerged, flailing, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a newborn crocodile heading right in my direction. Afterwards, one could not even allude to the canal, the park, or anything that even sounded like the word crocodile in my presence, without eliciting death throes. This continued for days on end where I was afraid of my own shadow if it made too many sudden moves. Then one day, my grandfather

came to visit with a plain, white mug and a set of paints. I inquired time and time again, but he would not tell me what he was painting. Finally he revealed his masterpiece; on a plain white mug, there was a small painted version of me in a crown and dress worthy of royalty, next to a small, narrow body of water. Next to me sat a tiny green animal, which if I did not know any better, would have been a frog. At the top of this drawing, in big red letters, read the words: La Reine du Canal (Queen of the Canal in French). In my grandfather’s liberal interpretation of what had transpired, the crocodile looked more like a beloved pet than an instrument of death, and the canal looked more like a puddle than the body of water I thought would be my last resting place. Right then, I was no longer worried about what it would feel like to be eaten by a crocodile. Since that time (I am 18 now) the paint has all but washed off, and my belief in my grandmother’s cautionary tales has considerably waned. I visited the park some time ago, with a younger sister, telling her about the shenanigans that occurred when she could barely walk. While there, I noticed that there was now a small wooden fence that separated the park from the canal. For the first time in a very long time, the certainty of protection did not faze me one way or the other. As my Creole grandfather is fond of saying, “Meme gwo buisson gen ti feuilles.” Even the largest bushes have the smallest leaves.


THE DEEPESTANGELICA OCEAN MARTINEZ My father’s eyes were ocean blue. Not the kind of ocean that terrorized you and convinced you there were dark creatures beneath it, waiting for the first sign of human life to attack. It was an ocean that took you, that swayed you side to side until you wondered: where is land? Where does the infinite sense of disorientation end? When one was taken in by my father’s ocean there was no swimming against it. You wanted to surrender, to sink deeper and deeper until your helpless fingers could barely feel the heat radiating from the sun’s violent rays. Every human being knew what it was like to lay below the water, watch the seagulls fly and think, “I do not want to resurface.” There was a myth greatly treasured by all who had experienced his captivating glance that when God threw Adam out of Eden, he took the color with him because it was too precious to leave behind. God hid it in a box beneath the first ground he set foot on. Millenniums later, my father’s house was built above it. My father’s soul was so pure at birth that the color rose into it and penetrated through his eyes. I do believe that the myth brought up the idea that your eyes are the windows to your soul. Then again, no one’s eyes were like my father’s, but that was just a tale they told to pass the hours, to explain phenomena like natives once explained the rain or death.


My mother was blind. Her wild hair fell down her back, transforming into waves of secrets, each curl hiding a story no one would live to hear. She was not a woman anyone could dream up. She was real, made of flesh and bone, although I believe dreams coursed through her veins. Her skin was earth. The foundation of all humanity lay within one feel of her bronze colored touch. Although she was unapproachable, it did not stop them from staring. She walked with a gait that unconsciously triggered an adrenaline rush through their effeminate bodies. She could feel this while she walked. She never knew though, that they stared not because of her disability, but because she was a vision. There was no way to explain her way of breathing or blinking. The way she’d disappear for days and be found atop a tree marked with imprints of her shoes as she tried to ascend onto its highest branch astounded them. She’d hug the trunk as if it was her sanctuary. There she’d sit, gazing far beyond the horizon, looking to the far limits of the sky she could not see. “Someday I’ll know what I am looking at,” she’d whisper. And if what she’d see would be shattered chaos, she’d still be convinced that it was beautiful. My parents’ love consumed them like a forest fire, devouring all that came in its path. It stealthily gained momentum, silently devising its rabid attack until it flew over

the undergrowth and set every root ablaze with its vehement ardor, dashing past the oaks and the cypresses without ever anticipating its demise. The fire ended like all fires do: in ashes. I became the embers of a love exhausted; the only remnant of what once had been an inferno of passion. My father only loved her because she fell for his thoughts and words, his reserved way of expressing an ounce of his unfiltered emotions instead of his eyes. But when she obtained her vision he ran away and she never saw him again. I know now that he was a coward, too afraid that if she could really see him, she might look at him like everyone else did. But even more than that, he ran away because he could not look at me. The night my mother obtained her sight was the night that I was born. I can only account to magic to explain why I was born blind. It was as though I had given her my sight, leaving me with a face people described as monstrous. I was ugly, and this I knew without looking at my reflection in the mirror. I know now that my father left because he could not understand how something so disgusting could be bred out of beauty. And so I grew up believing that if one day my eyes could be as inexplicable as his, I would be beautiful. My father was found dead with his head lying against his mahogany desk five miles out of town. Five miles. For years I wondered what my father would think if I found him. I still felt the

Lynette Vargas, The Other Half, Oil on Canvas.


love of a daughter towards my father. A deep, incomprehensible love that surpassed any resentment I should feel for his disdain. After everything, he was only five miles from my town’s borders. I won’t deny that I cried. Those tears were my only reminder that my eyes served a purpose, they proved that there was something in me that people couldn’t see. Not a face disfigured, but a relentless spirit willing to accept the man that had abandoned her. With a pencil in his right hand and leftover cyanide pills in his left, the authorities claimed death by suicide. I did not question it—the signs were all there. But beside his weathered body there was a note. The ink was still wet when they read it, but by the time it reached me, the ink was practically engraved against the brittle paper. Even with his unfinished sentence I knew my father came to love me in the last moments of his life, and the pain of regret coursed through him so rapidly that he resorted to those simple words they found written on the note. “I leave my eyes to my daughter. Tell her she…” I’d never know what he meant to tell me, but the day I woke from the transplant, the only words that mattered were those that gave me what I always wanted: beauty. Before I entered a state of unconsciousness, I only thought of what people would say when I awoke. I, the monster


they treated like a pariah would have eyes the color of ethereal wonder. They would put me on a celestial pedestal. “The girl with the eyes,” they’d call me. And I’d love it. The first thing I saw was an oak outside the hospital window. So beautiful, I thought, with its ancient wood and roots that held centuries worth of answers. But as I began to look closer, my heart filled with distress. The trunk of this old oak did not go up for miles into the sky, and its branches did not caress the universe’s infinite galaxies. Its leaves did not embrace the clouds’ surfaces. When I had been blind I could listen to the gentle trees singing songs of serenity to the wind. Now, it simply stood there, unaware of its own existence. Dumbfounded, I searched for anything that would overturn this sudden understanding. Flowers! My eyes found a patch of petunias in full bloom a couple of feet from the truth. I found no comfort in them either. When I knew no colors, I had played with their petals. They seemed so vibrant, so responsive. I had spoken to them and they spoke back. Now, they stood there, erect in their very bloom. Silence entered my windows and spread until my bones were weak with melancholy. I looked down at my hands and my tears landed upon them, with every drop my body shook violently. Please. Please do not let this be it. It could not possibly be that what I had

imagined was not real. I shrank deeper into my own void. I was a child then, a baby looking at the world for the first time and realizing that it was broken. As much as I wanted to look in the mirror into the eyes of someone I did not yet know, I couldn’t. If I looked at myself I knew that I would succumb to everyone else’s standards of beauty. I would lose myself so deeply that I would forget how I once pictured the sky, the grass, and my mother’s face. No, it was important to remember. It was vital to remember that the world not as I saw it, but as I felt it. Beauty was something that grew within me and made me love. Beauty was my mother’s voice and my father’s last words. Beauty was falling asleep to the trees’ lullaby. I was beautiful. Not because I had my father’s eyes, and not because the color that streamed out of them was like a river crashing against eroded stones. But because I was. And I, just like every individual who could close their eyes and see, held the deepest ocean in my glance. I sank on the hospital floor, closed the curtains, and shut my eyes.

Raye Ng, BrushďŹ re, Mixed Media.

INTERVIEW WITH AN ARTIST EMMA SINGER Adrian Cardona, a senior at Coral Reef Senior High school, is a modern day Andy Warhol. Inspired by the psychadelia of the 1960’s as well as his Mexican heritage, Cardona is currently producing his own line of clothing, skateboards, and posters that creates a mixture of these aspects. When did you begin with your art? I have been creating artwork ever since I was a child, way before I learned how to read or write. However, my career as a professional artist began early October last year when I decided I wanted to begin my own line of artwork to compete with modern day pop culture icons such as Romero Britto and Ed Hardy. What program or medium do you usually use to create your art? I only use Adobe Illustrator to create my artwork because it

is a vector based program. The advantage in using a vector based program is that I can print my artwork as large or small as I want without having to worry about pixilation or loss of quality. Do you believe that graphic design is where the future of art is headed? The practice of graphic design itself involves the use of symbols, images and/or words to create visual communications and representations of ideas and messages. Therefore you could say that graphic design has existed ever since people began using visual advertising to market products and brand names. What I strongly believe in is that artwork as we know it is heading into a digital era. If we head into a digital era I believe artists will no longer have to worry about masterpieces fading with time. However, it is very possible that with this new era artists will have to deal with intense competition and competitive pricing, along with piracy issues. Why are skulls so prominent in your art? First off, my line of


artwork,”The Sugar Skull Experience” is a fuse of psychedelic imagery and Mexican tradition. With that in mind, I chose to use psychedelic imagery and the word “Experience” to pay tribute to my biggest role model, Jimi Hendrix. I chose to use sugar skulls (a very iconic symbol in Mexican tradition) because they are commonly placed on tombstones as a gesture of honoring loved ones who have passed away. The prominent use of skulls in my artwork are my way of paying respect and honoring psychedelic imagery and music, which both play a big role in my life. Do you believe that mass producing art reduce its integrity? On the contrary, I believe the true value of art lies within the message of the artwork. However, I believe that much of modern day pop art such as Romero Britto’s work has less integrity because, to me, his artwork does have any true message or deeper meaning. Many modern mass-produced artists strongly focus on using minimal, simple and colorful artwork in order to please the public eye and maximize profit/sales. I believe that kind of art has no integrity and shouldn’t be in the same category as art made by Andy Warhol, Wayne Thiebal, or Alex Katz.

Adrian Cardona, Aztec Sugar Skull, Graphic Design.



Andrea Espinosa, Sourtongue- Deathly Serial Idiots Pt. 1 (left) Paranoia Scene (right), Ink on Paper.

Taelher Sealy, Oasis, Ink and Gouache.

Natasha Thornton, Kelsey, Watercolor.

Lynette Vargas, Face, Oil on Board.

Natasha Thornton, Chain Drive, Conte Pencil.


A PRAYER FORCODY LIFE ROBERTSON Through my field I walk, into the gloaming. I walk to rest; I walk to fulfill, the sum of life; Roaming I bleed into each managed row And still I roam, even though The gods of art do loom across the loam, Sowing the living quilt; That I walk on, they deign to measure my merit and my guilt; My life, my work, Too often orotund and dour, Is saved, saved by the grace of a single gracile flower. At the end of roving, a privileged glimpse: at the edge of a new horizon, A familiar flower does like orison, Rise from this body, No longer moribund, but fecund.



Maria Arteaga, Sewage, Gellatin.


Coral Reef Senior High School 10101 SW 152nd Street Miami, Florida 33157 305.232.2044

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