Elysium Literary and Arts Magazine 2015

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Literary/Art Magazine Volume 14 2015

Elysium website: http://crhs.dadeschools.net/elysium Coral Reef High School 10101 SW 152 Street Miami, FL 33157 Phone: (305) 232-2044 Fax: (305) 252-3454

We only ever experience now. The past echoes in our hearts and minds, the future lingers just beyond our fingertips, but each can only be seen through the lens of the present. There are moments when our lenses get obscured by the grime of existence, be it fear or sorrow, frustration or desperation. That’s when Hope emerges. Hope is the first star spotted in the night sky. It’s a lighthouse lantern glimpsed through pounding waves. It’s a stifled laugh uttered from underneath tears. Hope’s truest companions are a writer’s pen and an artist’s brush. Together, they brighten our days, one syllable and one stroke at a time.

Amy Meltzer Editor-in-Chief

Pictured: Crystalized Stains, Daniel Ochoa, Mixed Media Front Cover: Looking Towards the Future, Taylor Davis, Watercolor Pencil

About Us


This year’s staff consists of twenty-six students selected from four academies and grades 10-12. The staff meets every Wednesday after school as well as three full weeks in April to work on layouts. All members are involved in matching, proofing, and designing the magazine.

Editorial Policy Elysium, Coral Reef Senior High’s annual literary/art magazine, showcases the creative work of students. The literature and art staff judge submissions anonymously. Final selections are based on style, distinctiveness of theme, and overall quality; the art and literature are then paired by thematic relevance.

Colophon The 2015 staff created volume 14 using Adobe InDesign© CS5.5 and Adobe Photoshop© CS5.5 on Dell desktop computers. The staff selected New Yorker for titles and Adobe Garamond Pro for body text. The cover title was also fashioned in New Yorker. The 2015 edition consists of 124 pages with inside pages printed on 80 lb. glossy white paper and cover pages printed on 100 lb. white linen. Rodes Printing Inc. located in Miami, Florida published 200 full color copies of the magazine (all of which were distributed free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis). To reach a larger audience, the magazine is also featured on the school’s website: http://crhs.dadeschools.net/elysium. The website contains PDF’s of the magazine since 2005, staff photos, awards, news, press releases, and videos of live performances and readings at our annual Books and Books gala.

Special Thanks

We would like to extend our appreciation to Mr. Scott McKinley, Coral Reef ’s visual arts teacher, for his artistic guidance and to our principal, Ms. Adrianne Leal, for her continuing support.

Awards Columbia Scholastic Press Association: CSPA Gold Circle Awards 2014: Columbia Scholastic Press Association: National Council of Teachers of English PRESLM Program: National Scholastic Press Association: (discontinued after 2012) Scholastic Gold Key Winner 2015: Young Arts Winner 2015:

Gold Crown Award 2014-2015 Five awards: 1st place essay; 1st place cover design; 2nd place traditional fiction; 3rd place humor; CM traditional fiction All-Columbian: 2006 - 2014 Highest National Award: 2008-2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 Gold Medal: 2006-2009, 2011, 2012; Pacemaker Finalist: 2006 All-American: 2006-2009, 2011, 2012 Jessica Cruz Sophia Padgett Perez

Editor In Chief Amy Meltzer

Literary Editors Nicole Garcia Raina Levin

Art Editor Amber Plaksin

Layout Editors Caitlin Lopez Sophia Padgett Perez

Graphic Design Editors Jake Pivnik Walter Velasquez

Business Manager Michael Gordon

Faculty Advisor Amy Scott

Literary Staff Maclyn Black Christopher Czapla Audrey Daughtery Jasmine Davis Oriana Gamper Gisselle Lankenau Patrick Martin Valeria Peralta Brian Ransom

Art Staff Samira Abas Jamileh Chemaissem Taylor Davis Trystan Davis Alexandra Llovet Rachel Pe単a

Layout Staff Sarah Gouriche Joshua Ahamed

2 o 1 5


t a f f

Horizon Chiara Ricisak, Prose


The Preacher Nicolas Avalos, Poem


Existence Gabriela Ortiz, Poem


Code Red Cassandra Velazquez, Poem


So Now Nicolas Avalos, Poem


Empty Verses Andrea Jaimes, Poem


Interview with a Writer: Nicolas Avalos Gisselle Lankenau, Interview


Hypothermia Raina Levin, Poem


Innocence Leticia Rocha, Poem

18-19 Demons Itara Moore, Poem


Beguile Gisselle Lankenau, Poem

20-21 Give Me Time to Spell it Out Nicole Garcia, Prose


A Powerful Squeeze Salma Abdelrahman, Poem

22-23 52-53

Help Virginia Ramirez, Poem


The House Where the Cops Always Are Max Barkow, Poem


Roots Andrea Jaimes, Spoken Word


Loose Lips Valeria Peralta, Poem


Pearls Oriana Gamper, Poem


An Older Mind Gisselle Lankenau, Poem


The Truth Virginia Ramirez, Poem


Shaping Gisselle Lankenau, Poem


Release Jake Pivnik, Prose


Hypnosis Valeria Peralta, Poem Daddy Issues Gabriela Ortiz, Poem


Still Water’s Reflection Brian Ransom, Poem


Thalia and Melpomene Daniel Monteagudo, Personal Essay


The Time Before the Greens Ivan Langesfeld, Prose


The Historian Nicolas Quesada, Poem


The Sea Isabela Casanova, Poem


Polygon of Life Cyrus Owens, Prose


Junesong Provision Christopher Czapla, Prose


Moment(um) Alexander Kiener, Poem


Selective Sagacity Anthony Callue, Prose



Knocking at the Universe’s Door Kshitij Kulkarni, Personal Essay


Picking Scabs Sancia Noriega, Personal Essay


Schrodinger’s University Amy Meltzer, Poem


Ms. Camille’s Story Isabelle Camille, Prose


Suspended Animation Raina Levin, Spoken Word


Where to Go From Here Brian Ransom, Poem


The Firedrake Oriana Gamper, Poem


Sunday Itara Moore, Poem Without You I Write Candy-Coated Haikus Amy Meltzer, Poem


Stars Alexandra Upshaw, Poem

80-81 Playing the Hand: Claudio Martinez Brian Ransom, Interview


Cynicism Valeria Peralta, Poem


How to Fall in Love with a Blank Page Patrick Martin, Prose


Chaos the Creator Jasmine Davis, Poem


Fictional Friend Pulastya Bagga, Prose


Night and Day Nicole Garcia, Prose


Postscript Raina Levin, Poem


A Poem for a Woman Oriana Gamper, Poem


Hoping Adrianna Leys, Poem


Snail Trail Rachel Peña, Ink


Sabrina Mendoza: Mi País en Llamas



Alley Cat Trystan Davis, Photography


Smudge Rachel Peña, Gouache and Ink Skeletons Saige Guevara, Scratchboard


Crucifiction Breanna Moreno, Wood Block Print


Monster Girl Adriana Llauro, Marker


Tectonic Daniela Romero, Sculpture


The Brightest Light Amber Plaksin, Sculpture


Con Man Tied in Desert Christian Carmelino, Mixed Media


Wonderland Christian Carmelino, Mixed Media


Merp Jessica Cruz, Art Stix


Is this my future? Sabrina Mendoza, Charcoal


Showtime! Karla Infante, Photography


Sophia Padgett Perez: Terrepic



Natalie Jessica Cruz, Charcoal


Sophia Romina Salini, Mixed Media


Geometry Stephanie Triay, Acrylic and Marker


Amber Natalie Molina, Acrylic Paint


Smoke Jessica Cruz, Art Stix


Innocence Maria Macias, Digital Media Progression Hannah Freeman, Digital Media


California Sushi Roll Samantha Smith, Acrylic


Are You Staying… Karla Infante, Photography


Coi Alisha Vanhemert, Acrylic


Christian Robert Rivera, Marker


Friends Gabriela Espejo, Acrylic


Orange Columns Silvana Raidt, Acrylic on Sheetmetal


Epiphany Jamileh Chemaissem, Mixed Media


Foxes/bearcubs Emily Ehlen, Linoleum Print


A Subconscious Dictionary - An Interview with Breanna Moreno, Amber Plaksin


Animal’s Victory Karla Infante, Photography


Child in the Womb Erika Cantin, Wood Block with Pastel Drawing


Self Amber Plaksin, Graphite


Science Quilt Camille’s Science Classes, Mixed Media


Self Rachel Peña, Ink


Drowning in Happiness Maria Macias, Acrylic


Mandarin Jamileh Chemaissem, Marker


Orange Flowers Amber Plaksin, Art Stix


Daniel Ochoa: An Artist’s Perspective Pioneer Trystan Davis, Photography

Hummingbird 104-105 Camille Etchart, Acrylic on Self-Made Paper Cupcake 1 Maria Macias, Digital Painting


Little Me Taylor Davis, Mixed Media




Portrait of Claudio Sophia Padgett Perez, Photography


Amy Meltzer: Ceramic Art

112-113 112-113

Majesty Jamileh Chemaissem, Marker


Indelible Moments in Life Marlon Caro, Music

Facescapes Nuria Dolphin, Mixed Media


Open Passage Jamileh Chemaissem, Pencil


Checkers Walter Velasquez, Digital


Color-Guard Walter Velasquez, Digital


Birds Eye View Trystan Davis, Photography


Colorful Hope Amber Plaksin, Mixed Media


Don’t Judge Till You’re Over the Other Side Christian Carmelino, Mixed Media


Rising Up Taylor Davis, Watercolor Pencil


Snail Trail, Rachel Pe単a, Ink



Chiara Ricisak The words are not hidden, no longer spoken under your breath. They are boldly scrawled across the page, indigo ink bleeding ruthlessly. They don’t mind, nor do you, that the dark liquid has marred everything in its wake, both paper and person. They take pride in the knowledge that they are comets whose blinding trails of light will sear my memory for years to come. But if only those words knew that I could now exhale, now that the laces of the corset had been cut. The letters on the page didn’t know that, as they were emerging from the womb of your mind, I was thinking about how exhausted I was from tiptoeing on eggshells. I was sick of

being left to pick up my own shards, having to mend both my form and soul. Now, when we’ve finally gotten down to the marrow of the bone, I realized. Not all poisons kill swiftly, but without a doubt, your native tongue is that of demolition. I realized after years of fire and brimstone in the guise of amity that you are Lucifer as well as Venus. You are a vision of pure malice garbed in the cloak of the morning star. I realized that although jagged edged slips of paper would trail in my wake as my feet carried away their irreparable burden, I would feel only the slightest wisp of sorrow.



Gabriela Ortiz Fire is so cruel, I think. I stare, transfixed, at the burning embers Glowing shades of vermilion on my father’s cigarette Alive for the few minutes a day he requires it And then promptly discarded. How can something so instantly and fully Be consumed, Until oblivion and a trail of ashes Are the only things left? But, in a way, it gives the cigarette A purpose. It gives it life. And ends it just as easily. Cruel. (My eyes are burning Because of the noxious fumes But he doesn’t notice.) But what good is a cigarette unlit? Some things are meant to catch fire I pray I may not be one of them. (But, somehow, I know I am. It’s as though I doused myself in Kerosene.)


Smudge, Rachel Pena, Gouache and Ink


Skeleton, Saige Guevarra, Scratchboard


So Now Nicolas Avalos So now, dear love, I tell you my regrets: Where lilacs spring upon the fields of dawn, lurks a maggot who feeds on rotted flesh. This maggot does breed and reside upon a squirming road kill cat, ten minutes fresh, smeared across the street beside a meadow. Blood tinges the air inside the ghetto. Staring at its thrashes, I do nothing and find flesh-hungry flies coating its face. The day next, the heap of meat is frothing; fire ants crawl and chew his limbs with grace. I poke his corpse with maple wood and see his small pristine heart which I pierce with glee. His skull I collect as a souvenir for all to behold and for all to fear. Her thin decrepit hair smells of old piss; bedridden, swollen face and eyes garnet, with gray trembling hands reaching for a kiss. I retract from bony palms of dry sweat. Out of the chapped lips, she beckons me forth but her arm goes limp; her skin is the north. Demons abound and come to poach her skin as the shadows quench her flame; it is dimmed. Final wishes gone unchecked, stuffed with sin will be forever damned and ne’er be hymned. The wrinkled mother passes and her gaze seems to linger in my thoughts through the days and, in long nights, torments my dreams and spoils great strides towards freedom from this mortal coil. The days of youth are spent in idle awe And age will bring the universal law: What’s gold and pure will shine on through the night What’s old and sure will bring the final blight.


Interview with a Writer: Nicolas Avalos Gisselle Lankenau

Nicolas Avalos, a senior in the Visual and Performing Arts program at Coral Reef High School, transports his readers to a darker variety of life, exploring regret, corruption, and the deterioration of man. In spite of his great talent and exceptional writing, Nicolas Avalos remains humble; here, he details his inspirations, experience with writing, and future endeavors.

When did you start writing? I started writing for fun sometime in the middle of 10th grade. It’s kind of vague as to when exactly I started, but it was around then. I’ve never been ultra-serious about writing, but I thought it would be an easy way to pass time, and I ended up enjoying the creative process when I did. Who or what would you cite as your writing inspiration? My father, an avid book collector and movie fan, is probably the biggest influence on me in terms of encouraging me to be well-read. He’s a bit of a bibliophile; he collects all of these first editions and has this immense library which is actually in my room. I wasn’t ever forced to read or anything, but he has a large collection of books and movies and I, admittedly, am entertained pretty easily. In terms of actual authors, I would say Dave Barry, J.R.R. Tolkien, T.S. Eliot and Stephen King have been the most influential. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series has likely been one of the biggest influences and many of the themes in those books are prevalent in my poems. In some of your works, you explore dark subject matter; what attracts you to these themes? This question is a bit difficult to answer . . . I suppose the darker themes come from the writing that I enjoy, which is horror or dark fantasy like Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and all that jazz. Part of me likes being controversial and rebellious; in this way I’m able to live vicariously through my writing, as in real life, I’m somewhat boring to tell the truth. Most of my closest friends know me for my darker sense of humor,

so maybe it’s just how I am. Obviously, I try to be as nice and respectable as possible, but when I write, most of that “façade” goes away. Do you ever experience any difficulty when writing? How do you deal with writer’s block? Let me assure you that writer’s block is a thing. The most difficult thing in my opinion is starting a work. The blank page is just staring you down, and the words that begin a work are always the hardest to write, as they leave the reader with the initial impression. Trying to find the right words for a piece is challenging. Often times I find myself looking at rhyme dictionaries on the Internet to aid me in my ordeal—yes, I cheat. I deal with writer’s block by, honestly, just waiting it out. Most of the time, when I come back to a half-finished or even a finished work, I’ll find mistakes and rewrite or delete some portions. The only advice that I can give—and I’m an amateur—is that you should trust your sense of what you want to be written down. I know that sounds vague, but that’s all I got. You seem to take on different personas in your writing; what interests you about these characters? In my opinion, writing for flawed characters or characters that are “different” is more entertaining in that it provides a sense of escape as I’m writing it. In some ways, I like to become the characters that I write about, which is why I like to write scripts. I can pretend to say what the characters are saying, making the process all the easier. A big influence in terms of flawed characters was when I watched Lost in 9th grade. Everyone on that show had a secret to hide.

Nicolas Avalos Portrait, Sophia Padgett Perez, Photography What’s next for you? Are there any other pieces in the works? I mean, I still consider myself a beginner at writing and I honestly don’t know what’s next. As a long term goal, I’d love to work as a screen writer, my favorite director being Wes Anderson. If that doesn’t pan out, I know that writing will remain a part of my life. In terms of pieces in the works, I am finishing up on the second part of “So Now” and also a long poem called “West” that has been a pain to write. Do you have a particular goal with your writing? When I write, I primarily do so for my own satisfaction of actualizing my thoughts/ideas, and if readers like my work in the process then that’s fantastic, but to answer the question . . . no, I have no real overarching goal or endpoint when I write. I simply write for the love of telling stories, and that’s about it. How would you describe your writing process? Well, it honestly isn’t anything special. If you want to know about how I come up with my ideas, each one starts

off as a simple premise (i.e. a holy man living in times of unholy deeds), and from there, it kind of unfolds, which is a big part of why I enjoy writing so much. Also, sometimes I play some guitar or piano to get me in the mood—I am a musician as well—which actually helps a lot. What is writing to you? Why did you begin to write? To put it simply, writing is a means of expression, just as is any other art form. As a form of communication and entertainment, writing offers a journey that is unparalleled. However, it does require patience and dedication, which, sadly, many people underappreciate nowadays, as they would much rather watch Netflix— which I still prefer doing sometimes—writing is worth it. I began writing to appease my own sense of storytelling. As a kid, I would play with action figures endlessly and create background stories to accompany the characters as they traveled on journeys together throughout my living room and kitchen. Later, I came to see that the only logical step for me was to progress towards writing out their journeys and solidifying my stories. If I had not, I would still be playing with my Power Rangers on my couch. 17

Innocence Leticia Rocha As a child she was quiet, pensive, and shy She feared the world and lived in her own mind. Her thoughts were filled with angels and hope, She dreamt of climbing the greatest slopes But as she grew demons crept and snuck inside All those bits of hope withered and died. The last thing she wanted was to live in her head She tried to run away, but nowhere was left. Every thought, every breath, every step Brought her closer and closer to the end. A beautiful garden, once blooming and bright Became a cemetery, rotting and left to dry. There was no more light, that child was dead All that remained was the noose around her neck.


Monster Girl, Adriana Llauro, Sharpie

The Brightest Light, Amber Plaksin, Sculpture

Beguile Gisselle Lankenau A galaxy spans across your skin. Constellations are born each night. However, these collisions are not divine. They span across the waist and meet near the eyes Where Red Giants once shone, asteroids drift. Oh, great creator There’s work to be done Polaris grows dull Soon our bittersweet encounters will end Even Supergiants have an expiration date. There are other worlds to create This is the cessation Incandescent implosion As blood vessels constrict A chasm forms at the center and I am left catatonic, a frozen star. A black hole.


A Powerful Squeeze Salma Abdelrahman She sits alone on a red bench outside, Her thoughts bottled up, screaming from within. Not one soul stops to ask how she has been; She crouches alone, there’s nowhere to hide. She doesn’t notice the small waiting child Who stares intently and states loud and clear, “There’s something on your face, it looks like fear.” She looks up at him, hair messy, eyes wild. Next thing you know, she’s wrapped in his frail arms She weeps, shaking from the intensity, How she had maintained her sweet sanity Emotions constrained inside only harms. The next second he’s gone, left with the breeze Pulls her arms tighter, a powerful squeeze.


Wonderland, Christian Carmelino, Mixed Media



Virginia Ramirez You’re mistaken, kid, voluntary masochism doesn’t exist. Although you see me, underpinned cleanly, this scene of happiness, of grandiose joy, If you’d just dig inside of me and slowly search, you’d find a naked being, helpless, trembling, waiting for some self-revolution.


Is this my future?, Sabrina Mendoza, Charcoal


Sophia Padgett Perez Terrepic

You’ve Unraveled, Sophia Padgett Perez, Mixed Media

Interaction. It’s one of life’s greatest experiences, and one we too often take for granted. I constantly feel myself analyzing the things in front of me and creating different shots and angles in my head during any event I’m immersed in. We may never know how our interactions are going to turn out, but we almost certainly learn and grow and experience something new and beautiful everyday. I parallel this idea with my use of film photography. I shoot my film and never know exactly how it may come out, but I still use every negative to create what I call my “Terrepics,” complex photo diagrams, which translates to “Earth Story.” As life does, my work builds upon itself when I arrange the photographs. The collective image that is created flows from one person to the next to create a

panel of scenes that makes up the entire event. Through this process, I also explore the idea of memory and how it affects my work. So I began to create performance pieces that utilize the sounds as well as sights of the events I’ve taken part in. I bring my photographs back to the places they were taken and place them up on a wall that I remember was close to the event. From a tripod, I record myself and the passerby who watch me putting up the photographs. In my newer mixed media works, I use these patterns I create and paint them over specific photographs that were used in my “Terrepics.” I have also incorporated items that specifically relate to the people in the photos, such as stuffed animal parts, to represent the interactions I have made with the people with whom I have been so interested.

Terrepic: Miami Beach, Sophia Padgett Perez, Installation of Black and White Photographs on Beach Wall

Terrepic: Coconut Grove, Sophia Padgett Perez, Installation of Black and White Photographs on Alley Wall



Andrea Jaimes The seed of oppression has been planted into my lungs And you keep on systematically watering it. Now it’s grown, and I’m having trouble breathing. They have grown out so far, they’ve gripped my heart, torn it apart, Latched themselves onto the ground, I’m having trouble moving forward. These roots of oppression keep growing, Digging so far into the ground they’re touching the remains of bodies, Buried in unmarked graves, with lost names, But at least we know the cause of death: too much melanin. I’m hoping that after all these years, their bones have gotten white enough so that they’ll finally have some rights. But we live in a world where privilege and opportunity have “a look” Where cultures lose their names, But they are not yours to pick at, Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to take things that aren’t yours? But these roots don’t listen. They’re the type of weed in your backyard that are persistent, That you see in every crack and corner of your garden. These poison roots are preventing us from blooming, flourishing, and blossoming. These roots seem to think that some are more deserving than others. When did skin color become a crime? And when did human rights become color coded? These roots are the type that no amount of weed killer can get rid of. But these roots grow more than one way. They’re still trying to inch their way up our thighs, Spitting the words hatred, sexism, inequality, and generalization, Thinking that they own my body. These roots of oppression keep trying to unlock gates they don’t have the keys to. Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to touch things that aren’t yours? I know that women have been closing off their bodies so tight, they’re bruising. But we’d rather suffer and live through the pain than give up our rights. You don’t own me. These roots don’t get to tell me what to do, how to style my hair, what to wear, when to speak, or when to stay silent. But we live in a world where the only place I feel safe is in my own body. But your filthy words and unwelcomed actions start making my body feel more like a cage and less like a home. And now I sit here, trying to scrape your words off my skin, Trying to pry these roots out from within me. But this is an unjust world, where they hand me a fork to pull you out with, and they give you fertilizer. The roots whisper, Didn’t they ever tell you not to aim for things you can’t handle?

Natalie, Jessica Cruz, Charcoal


Geometry, Stephanie Triay, Acrylic and Marker on Canvas

Pearls Oriana Gamper Last week you gave me a necklace four rows of coral pearls and two large rubies one on each collarbone Such a lavish gift would surely curl my toes and make me gasp as I profess my love to you Now, imagine my surprise when a few days later the pearls’ colors shift forgetting their vibrant shades Shifting from red to purple to my deepest dismay then green and yellow before it fades



Gisselle Lankenau The sculptor sought a paragon. Yet the clay resisted. It was a battle of a thousand hands against kaolin. As knuckles crashed upon its exterior, it softened, gradually changing color. Curious as to how the pale surface transformed under his force, He began to mold his masterpiece. It was now splattered with darker hues of red merging into yellow, each time he threw the clay against the wall in frustration, He suddenly became delighted with its altered state. However, with time the color faded. He had to be consistent. For years the battle between the artist, and his medium continued, until she tried to leave. So the sculptor baked her at 350 degrees And waited for her to harden, to throw her one last time. His perfect china doll. Broken.


Innocence, Maria Macias, Digital Media

Progression, Hannah Freeman, Digital Media



Valeria Peralta

The dream is collapsing It’s shaking beneath your feet It’s throwing off your balance But it does not touch your smile -a fixed point in a trembling worldYou are spinning around it A spiral of black and white and I am left hypnotized I want to frame your destruction and hang it on my wall You have more than fallen apart You have been rebuilt wrong Around your black hole lips That bend time and space You are both the aftermath and the storm I am stuck preparing for a hurricane that has already passed


Daddy Issues Gabriela Ortiz

A history of hypertension, alcoholism, gambling, and mental illness A heritage of story tellers, poets, writers artists and musicians Like a cruel brand imprinted on her hide, like the burden, the stigma, the cross she must carry for the rest of her life (“Where’s your fa**er? Where’d he go?”) there is half of his blood that flood through her veins, there is half of his DNA that she can’t rip away (“But you must still love him, you must still respect him, you look so much like him, after all, he is your fa-”) No, don’t say it. Blood may be thicker than water, but hate will always cloud over his daughter’s love (He’s done his damage, because whether he meant to or not, he broke her trust)

“Where’s your fa**er? Where’d he go?” 36

Are you Staying? , Karla Infante, Photography

She has been drifting away from the light, down this convoluted road, led by the spite and bitterness that cloud over her eyes Away, she wanders, away from the light It’s become too blinding, too clear, too bright, too many shadows of the past visible She’s become distrustful, the betrayal present and fresh like the memories she can’t erase, still clouding over the years she can’t get back, the childhood she never had, (“What’s wrong with her?” “Daddy issues.”)


The Preacher Nicolas Avalos I am a Preacher who lives to teach men in days of crumpled skies.

I see the world disintegrate and remold itself into something rank like a runted phoenix whose pollution fogs busy intersections with a thin yellow vaporcaustic to the soul.

After all that I have seen

When cauliflower nights

as a keeper of blackened deeds,

summon such doings of woe,

I know I am not for

I hope a lilac scented dawn

my sons will blister, pop

will come

and then bleed.

and blink on the distant horizon bringing verdant fields once more

I am the Preacher

but, by the politics of

who fears for

moons and suns,

their melted cries.

winter dread has come to stay

I taste the bitter land

to put the dreams of men at bay.

on which He looks over in rays of sunken eyes while they do nothing but

These misty days comprise of preaching to underprivileged gnats who sin with ignorant bliss. They are minute and serve no purpose other than to feed the flies.

swallow pills, lick the pavement and sulk in drapes of vibrant lies. There are no more cows to give us milk when our bones will surely snap. I sit on a park bench under A bloody sunset surrounded by

When the coming crystal day overwhelms with a scorching heat that burns away the façade of those smug liars and businessmen, the youth will be cold and rampant; both clinging to their passive existence which yields only regret and sorrowful nostalgia. Am I contempt in the degradation of man’s spirit? Of his want to succeed?

dead leaves and I only wish that I could feel the sun as in my youth.

I cannot see the holy light that shines on Earth with blinded sight; That guides drowned sons through plains of civil strife and that takes me away from this cruel and anguished life. I am a Preacher who has failed in days where flowers die; Where industrial jungle gyms sprout gray behemoths

As the night grows dim and savage,

which graze the fallen skies,

hooters call for bitter sex

where no one can tell

in dampened alleyways

the difference between

where rats are kings.

true praise and hidden lies.

I hear their naked bodies shuffling and splashing

I am a preacher

in puddles of city waste

who dreads to see

and virgin tears.

the days where no one’s wise

Christian, Robert Rivera, Markers



Sabrina Mendoza

Izquierdismo, Sabrina Mendoza, Colored Pencil

Bon Appetit, Sabrina Mendoza, Acrylic


Mi PaĂ­s en Llamas

Alley Cats, Trystan Davis, Photography

Code Red

Cassandra Velazquez The air is bleeding red with the malice of man, the cries of children, your sins. Shirts pressed, shoe shined, cars buffed, hair combed: a malleable protective rosary. Red guilt will drip from your hair, ooze from your open pores, infest your brand new Bentley. As you pull, and drill, and stab into the mother earth, you will feel it. As you zoom away from the city desperately trying to escape all that you have done it will grasp at your elbows and the backs of your knees. Scrub away that grimace of surprise and look at the plates moving scraping their hands together creating scars among the cement streets that suffocate the earth. No matter how many times you finger the cracked flesh the alarm will not cease. It has blared like a fire alarm in an empty fire house, like church bells before an execution, like a lullaby before gun shots. Stay and listen. Ignore the crutch that cowardice offers. Do not sew up the past for it holds the answers to your future. Leave alone what is meant to be left alone for the world is opening up and you will be the first swallowed.


Empty Verses Andrea Jaimes

Your answers come from God, While I don’t get any. I tell you it’s getting bad again, that I want to stay home, I don’t want to be around other people. So you drag me to a crowded church for a three hour service. You pray. I tell you I’m having those thoughts again, You tell me only God can give me answers, Help me, heal me, save me. You pray. I tell you it’s not working, that it’s becoming too much. So you force holy water down my throat, Into my ears, eyes, and every pore. You try to exorcise an illness that has been latched onto me for so long. You tell me it’s ok, that I just need to let God take control. You pray.

And I’ve been praying for a rapture to take me from this sick world. And I’m drowning in your holy water And I am so scared. But instead of throwing me a life saver, You toss me a Bible. You pray. You tell me to trust God. But who will you pray to when I have A bottle of pills in hand, Or when I’m asking for the strength to pull a trigger And your God can’t hear My prayers.


Crucifiction, Breanna Moreno, Wood Block Print

But I know that no measure of empty prayers, Bible verses, or hours of service can baptize me and cleanse my soul. This is what I call the great tribulation. But believe me, it’s lasted more than seven years.



Tectonic, Daniela Romero, Sculpture

Hypothermia Raina Levin When exposed skin is faced with frigid air, We yield to fractured hearts and broken minds. The piercing daggers target trust laid bare, We recognize we should have seen the signs. Waves of unforgiving cold, buffeting, Unwitting entrants of this lonely land, With the one, sole goal of embittering The sad, the blue, who need a helping hand. When icy winds send shivers through our cores, We console ourselves, decide it won’t last Brace ourselves to fight; to survive these wars, And whisper that the worst is in the past. When every dream is converted to fear, We must meet the coldest day of the year.



Itara Moore Demons wrap around me, Shadowing me with their sins. They choke me with their desire And wound me with their dreams.

Every now and then an angel shall appear. They’ll stay for a short time and watch, Before going back to better things. Though few do try to help, but they’ll Soon grow weary.

Leaving the damned to rot In their cursed flesh.

So I accept my impious burden, As they force a crown of thorns On my head. Tonight, I’ll pray to the Silent god for peace.


Con Man Tied in Desert, Christian Carmelino, Mixed Media


Merp, Jessica Cruz, Art Stix

Nicole Garcia Frail. If someone were to pull me off the pillow,

Rooms are not locked in this house. There is no

they’d surely crumple me in their fist, having had no

privacy. “She’s not here,” he says. My mom is probably

intention to hurt me. Then again, that would be the

right by his shoulder, no surprise there. She just

only way for me to make my way off the bed. I’ve

mumbles a few words in response, too faint to hear.

tried craning my neck and rolling over onto my side,

Suddenly, there’s wind under me again and it’s

but the wind has been stronger than my resolve to

pushing me upwards. Someone’s hand is clutching

start the day. I don’t think I have the strength, or the

my side, wrinkling the edges, smudging the words

backbone to pull myself up.

written on me in ink that has not had time to dry. Her

The glow-in-the-dark sticky stars spread out on

face appears. Confused. Annoyed. I can’t decipher her

the ceiling are not glowing anymore because sunlight

expression. I just know it’s a reaction to something on

streams in through the window. I count them. Once,

me or in me or just . . . me.

twice, three times I count to 28 stars. That’s all there is to do.

After adjusting her glasses, she leans in, making the air around me hot and stuffy, before reading aloud

13,14,15... They disappear in a flash, like shooting stars that I

what seems to be staining my skin. My dad then takes me from her grip, rather

can’t wish upon. A gust of wind has blown me off the

harshly. I’d resist if paper could protest. After reading

bed and now I’m swaying, nearing the dusty wood

me, he turns to my mom, a bewildered look on his

floor, a movement much like that of the playground

face. I wish I could see what they’re seeing, so I could

swings coming to a stop. Until the flat surface beneath

somehow clear up the confusion.

me flattens me out. Vibrations resonate through me

Instead I panic, fluttering out of their hands and

in rhythmic shuffles. Someone must be approaching

sliding under the bed, terrified they’ll just pass me

the door. The voice is muffled, sounding like someone

around like a dollar bill whose value depends on

trying to speak with a mouthful of paper. I’m assuming whoever holds it. I need time to learn to sound out the it’s my dad. He doesn’t hesitate to turn the door knob

vowels scribbled on my chest before others have the

and push the door slightly open.

chance to spell me out instead. 51

The house where the cops always are Max Barkow That’s the house where the cops always are They know there will be trouble so they never stay far One cop, two cop, three cop, four Every time they visit they have to bust down the door Promises of eternal love, shattered across the wall Just like the shattering of the wife’s antique crystal ball Lies of marriage about ‘till death do us part While the husband lies to the cops, begging for a fresh start Bruises rest lightly on the wife’s cheek As the husband rests on the sidewalk, handcuffed and peaked Tears of agony seep down the children’s face As the parents marriage seeps away; it is a basket case Love left this house, never looking back It is evident with their hearts being full of cracks The family hunts every night, pleading for her return But she is never coming back, no matter how much they yearn Hope may be close, but reality is too far Because they live at the house where the cops always are


Showtime!, Karla Infante, Photography


Sophia, Romina Salini, Mixed Media

Loose Lips

Valeria Peralta

I think there are silences louder than sounds And I’m not sure whether it’s more profound To love your screams or your shut mouth Your silence is louder than the noises of frustration Always climbing up the mountains of your throat When the sound track is our breathing And the night the burning coat keeping us warm I think your silence is so much more Than those vacant words I heard so many nights ago When I tried to raise my voice but the falling sky Shut all the exits for the words I wanted out So you listen to my silence and I yours Trying to make sense of the white noise That permeates the air, dense around our bodies We are travelers through the vacuum of each other’s mind Lost with no way out


Amber, Natalie Molina, Acrylic Paint

An Older Mind

Gisselle Lankenau Fingertips brush against Paper-thin skin Following the path of her veins, She trembles beneath his touch. They lead to a forgotten piece of land Where the ocean of hair once Crashed upon the shores of the skull. He kisses the terrain While obscure memories rest In the unkempt reservoir Of an older mind. Where are the eyes? The piercing, alluring eyes Toward whom each glance was Paralyzing. They are old relics in a lost city, Consigned to oblivion. As they Hang framed on the display of a lost museum I will remember us as we are now. Wrapped in rumpled skin and Grey hair, lying by one another Anxious for our final breath. 57

The Truth Virginia Ramirez Four old ladies on the porch, they talk. The museum of their wasted lives, hidden beneath their words. Maybe the one that criticizes my short skirt hides, with fear, some story from her youth she doesn’t dare tell (although it was one of the best nights of her life). Or the spinster, probably still a virgin, criticizes the immorality of the modern customs, while observing with envy, the couple that kisses on the street. Four old ladies watch the world through wicker chairs, judging it with the same words, repeated never-endlessly. But, when they’re left alone, when they’re dead, they live in the memory of the crazy night, that short red dress, that night of love.


Smoke, Jessica Cruz, Art Stix

California Sushi Roll, Samantha Smith, Acrylic

Release Jake Pivnik

The impression of loneliness washes over me like the sea, closing my eyes and opening my heart my mind drifts backwards to my first trip to the ocean. I hold my breath Unbearably hot sand forces my feet to the water which clings to my toes tighter than my grandmother’s hugs. Jellyfish stingers smashed in the surf, sting longingly. How perfect, to drown oneself in the winter. I exhale Moonlight illuminates the far away dock, a lone fisherman at its shoddy end pulling on a tangled line he should have cut years ago. I shake my head, but he can’t see. I hold my breath Icy waves crash against my timid chest and I step forward. Foamy sea risen to my neck, soapy bubble baths filled to the top never smelled as sweet. Three steps forward Life offers me a final breath, I begrudgingly accept. A welcoming abyss, with a depth I can’t fathom. Inching forward I lose my footing, a happy mistake. From the ocean we began, and in its depths I’ll remain. I exhale


Coi, Alisha Vanhemert, Acrylic


Still Water’s Reflection Brian Ransom I think of the young man With fire in his heart And venom on his tongue Burning through events. The poor fool. Does he not realize that time tempers all flame? Rounds all roughness? Quiets all loudness? Makes still what was once perennially in motion

And as black fades to grey And grey becomes white I think of the young man swallowed by time By events And I wonder what he would think of me.


Thalia and Melpomene Daniel Monteagudo


entered the subway and donned the mask that I had not worn in years. As it clicked into place, I felt my eyes droop, my mouth relax, my smile straighten. My face warped into the same grim, mourning look as the Russians beside me, and I felt the train jerk into motion, not one person making a sound. That mask was worn and weary by the time I stepped foot off of the plane in Miami, but every time I went back, it slid on just the same.


light up the entire building, old family friends from before we had left dragged us into the apartment to celebrate our visit. Plates upon plates of bulging pierogi, ruby red borsch, and crackling roast kuryitza sat on the table, the smell intoxicating after a long day on our feet, but the one thing that entranced me were their smiles; their happiness, their laughter, all was like a warm summer day, melting the ice mask off my face.

The masks I have worn in life are varied and plenty. Like the Greek actors of ancient times, I had become adept in clipping them on and off. Split between the cultures of the biggest enemies in contemporary history, my Russian heritage battled against my newfound American lifestyle, and I became used to wearing the disguises of Thalia and Melpomene, Comedy and Tragedy, being sanguine or sullen. The woman sitting next to me on the plane had only worn Thalia’s for all her life; born and bred in Mississippi, her contagious smile, thick drawl, and engagement with half the plane in conversation, only confirmed my suspicions. Likewise, the faces on the subway, harsh and deadened by the cold, were wearing Melpomene’s. Hopping to and fro, from America to Russia, these masks became second nature to me, smiling one second, erasing it the next.

Long after I came back to Miami, did I truly understand what had happened in that cramped apartment. The masks that we wear are made from the cultural fabric of our heritage, but we put them on and blind ourselves to each other. We think of each other as so different, so impossibly agreeable that we forget all notion of compromise and claw at each other’s throats. What these men wearing masks of religion, yelling and arguing about Christianity or Islam, don’t see is that all of them go home to their families, hang their masks up with their coat, sit down, and enjoy a dinner with their family. The true tragedy of modern times is how little we understand of our fundamental character as human beings; underneath our masks, we live, dream, and love, like every other human. Underneath a coat of emotional frostiness, the Russians on the subway smile and enjoy life; beneath their extroverted exterior, Americans keep their lives reserved.

From the subway, my mother and I walked back to my uncle’s apartment. As we walked, I couldn’t get those sullen, emotionless faces out of my mind. I asked her why Russians do that, but all I received was a shrug and deadpan “They’ve always done that”. As we ascended the stairs and opened the door to the apartment, an explosion of voices greeted us. With smiles bright enough to

If I were to go back to that subway now, and look at the mirror of the train window, I would see dark eyes, brown hair, and an indifferent face gazing at me. Once unmasked, however, and released from the hold of Thalia and Melpomene, America and Russia, those masks that divide us so, I could look again, and proudly see a human being staring back.

Friends, Gabriela Espejo, Acrylic

The Historian Nicolas Quesada An ocean of stone, the rubble of ages lies before me. A sphinx, a horse, a column, a skull All weather, all fade. Yet I continue to brush off the grit of time Hoping to find one glimmer, a lighthouse for mankind.

There is an endless dawning of creation and destruction Flawed with scattered shadows in its monochrome glory Is it my own madness, my own passion that drives me?

Sore knees, dusty clothes and a dry mouth have etched their reality, But History’s ghost calls me, tempting primitive desires with images Of grandeur, of power, of permanence, all headed towards impeding oblivion.

I can never leave unless I find That perfect remnant of a past life.


Orange Columns, Silvana Raidt, Acrylic on Sheet Metal


Polygon Of Life Cool earth greets him when he wakes up and nothing else. He pulls himself out of the dark and blinks before noticing a shadHer talons encircle the furry blob in the mere seconds she graces the earth. She swoops back up, up and up before leveling and surveying the vallThe crack of his shotgun echoes for what feels like minutes throughout the vast expanse. He watches somberly yet satisfied as his target plummets to the earth. Did it drop someIt never saw her coming. She wouldn’t usually resort to this but It was standing awfully still and the cubs haven’t eaten in days. She roars at the unfaltering moon before dragging him away.

Cyrus Owens

Foxes/Bearcubs, Emily Ehlen, Linolium Print


Animal’s Victory, Karla Infante, Photography


MOMENT(UM) Alexander Kiener Life’s ambiguity unfortunately and unexpectedly culminates, The threshold of existence is demanded at the moment when death is eminent and everything you know is up

in the air, like a car thrown from its clutch on the ground. At that moment precisely can one step out from their suspended wreck, analyze the mechanics of life and the source of his culmination.

At that moment. He is safe. Shielded from the inevitable state. Shielded from momentum, by a moment frozen and salient, as the opportunity comes only before it is too late.

You yearn as you grow. You grow as you learn. There is no stopping the path that is set forth from the unknown.

There is no stopping the momentum of the end, but the moment right before it. Protection stems from the cause of the end, and he knows it.


Self, Amber Plaksin, Graphite

PICKING SCABS SANCIA NORIEGA* Maybe it’s the fresh, pink skin that


smack of her hand to the side of my head

emerges from its ragged, brown prison

soon ended the satisfaction. “You’re going to

but there is a strange satisfaction you get

leave a scar”, she’d say. I never listened. One

from picking scabs. For me the berating

day I got the bright idea that the mole at

of a Caribbean mother in my ears and the

the left side of my face that had earned me

nicknames and constant teasing was the same size

by the police. I felt the fear that been coursing

and pigmentation of the scabs that I had painlessly

through my body wash away in place of a boiling

removed from other parts of my body and thus it

anger as I realized what had happened. The sad,

could be removed in the same manner. Yelps of pain distressful tears were replaced with tears of rage and and what seemed like quarts of blood later I realized bewilderment. Why do they hate us? how wrong I was. Years later, I’d wish to scrape off a part of

That moment solidified something I suppose I had always known subconsciously. I had

myself as I watched my father being handcuffed.

known it when I’d asked my dad why he always

My sister and I stood powerless, tears running

spoke in Spanish when we went into a high-end

down our faces as we held each other on the gravel- store and he said, “It’s the only way they take me stoned road. “Porfavor, mi hija esta allí!” “Please my seriously.” I had known it when people were taken daughters are right there!” my dad said. Until that

aback when I’d tell them my background. I had

point, I’d never seen my dad, a lighthearted and

known it when my Abuela (grandma), an old-

vivacious man, raise his voice or shed a tear. In that fashioned, white Cuban woman would speak of moment I saw my whole life crumbling, I feared

Obama’s election as making African Americans

I would never see my father again. I was stunned,

“think they’re all that.” In all these instances it is

why hadn’t they given him a chance to explain

clear that despite boasts of how much the world


has progressed, it still remained that there was an

My sister who locked her keys in her car, had called my dad to see if he could open it. Someone had alerted security that a suspicious-

established hierarchy. In that moment I’d found that I couldn’t hide behind my Hispanic blood in shame. I learned

looking man was breaking into a car and the police that no matter how much I tried to indirectly scrape were called and arrested him upon their arrival.

off the scab that was the melanin in my skin, it

“Porfavor, mi hija esta allí!” The policemen stopped, would always be with me, and with the amount of one of them said “Tu eres hispano?” “You’re

people who have lost their lives and everything they

Hispanic?” The police apologizing, “Perdoneme

had to right the wrongs in the world, I had better

porfavor,” undid the handcuffs and allowed him

accept that part of myself because ultimately, all

to tell his story. My father was a biracial man born

picking scabs does is leave scars.

in Cuba, black enough to be assumed a criminal *Winner of Scholastic Silver Key Writing Award

Schrodinger’s University Amy Meltzer Fidgeting fingers grip at the creaking mailbox Reaching for an answer buried by saliva and Scotch Tape. The envelope is sealed, but the future is both open and closed. A tug on a fisherman’s line, A ringing telephone without a number, The long awaited result of a seventeen-year-old social experimentEach predicament purrs with the anticipation Of solidifying its state. Truth is though, They told you to think outside the box because they can’t recognize what goes on inside. Fill in the corresponding circle, remember? It’s not aerospace engineering or quantum mechanics, It’s obedience school, Conditioning you to keep digging for what they tell you to find. So open the letter. Read it. Obliterate two-thirds of your present state: Accepted or rejected. But decide for yourself to accept or reject The contents of a trivial piece of paper. You’re in the box, You hold the answers. Keep them guessing.


Self, Rachel Pe単a, Ink


pe n d e d s u S

Animation Raina Levin

Quiescence used to work for me But it’s not all it’s cracked up to be They bombard you with their shrapnel outbursts and caustic spew, They say the problem is not them, but you. And you accept it. It’s no coincidence that quiescence and acquiesce sound so similar Because when you give in, it’s always a silent submission. You didn’t always feel this way. But now you can’t breach the conversation Because you don’t want to be the subject of ridicule. Because when you’re tongue tied, Thoughts askew, All you know is they’re doubting you. Sometimes the words are viscous and trapped in your throat And you have no option but to swallow them back down When you know you should just let them flow free So you don’t suffocate under their weight. And you’ve grown so parched Without the water of a willing listener That your mouth dries up and your brain shuts down But it doesn’t really matter, Because no one was going to care anyhow. And there are all different kinds of silence too. Drowning in Happiness, Maria Macias, Acrylic

Silence sprung from ignorance, Silence that comes from bliss. Silence born out of fear, The silence of inadequacy come clear. Bone-chilling silence that cuts straight to the core, The silence that leaves you wanting much more. Even the silence of “I can’t speak your language But you won’t learn mine!” But no matter the type, there’s a process. You start out, firmly tied down, Containing your words, containing the truth, You think you’re on solid ground. And then the stakes get higher but you’re sure that You can keep it all inside Because you already know that silence is a state of suspended animation. But then it gets more and more difficult to maintain your silent balance And the ground is unsteady beneath your uncertain feet And all it takes is a gust of wind until— A moment of calm before the storm. Defiance burbles up to the surface. It begins as a tingle but now arrives full force, In all its glory. And at first it may just be Ridding yourself of all that pent up emotion, An eruption of opinions untold; Spewing back vitriol Because it’s all that’s been hurled at you. But then it becomes a habit; innate, As instinctive as breathing air And you’re comfortable sharing yourself with the world. It’s empowering and overwhelming and You begin to regain sight of your individuality. Quiescence used to work for me But now I can’t stand passivity I plant my feet, resolve not to retreat Because no longer will I be beat 77

Oriana Gamper I am a patchwork of much lukewarm blood constantly transporting words that are rife with dampness the wet, limp, indecision definesthat if I were a firedrake, purified in flames and filthied by greed, ripped together of carmine passions, made sick by your beauty as I am, I would hoard you. I would breathe hot flames over skin like marble, smooth and cold, until an inferno escaped from deep in my core I burned life into it, tore a scream from stony lips. Sooner blind you than forfeit precious emeralds cleaned daily with gentle tongue. Your pearls, that are mine, more valuable than the piles of diamonds. I’d burrow out the nest, ashamed of pushing you down into the depths upon gold coins and endless treasure, cannot stand up to the way you glimmer. Even underneath this belly of molten lava gushing my life’s elixir between twisted horn and iron claw, I’ll keep your golden heart buried. Only hidden from othersyou remain my treasure. 78

Mandarin, Jamileh Chemaissem, Markers


Alexandra Upshaw When the stars wake up And peek out from beneath Ebony sheets Sewn from the night, Their eyes blink in awe From their own Dazzling auras. When the stars wake up And smile down upon Slumbering planets Exhausted from their orbits, Their teeth reflect the light From their own Blinding sparks. When the stars wake up And swiftly pirouette across Magnificent cosmos Singing in harmony, Their flares leap with grace From their own Inspiring hearts. Every night when the stars wake up And glide through a Never ending universe Painted to perfection, They search the sky To no avail 80

For the hand that holds the brush.

Orange Flowers, Amber Plaksin, Art Stix

Red Dot, Daniel Ochoa, Mixed Media

Daniel Ochoa An Artist’s Perspective

I have always had a passion for art and the constant need to be creating. I am consistently making artwork in any and every way possible. I love being able to gather different media and materials and create something completely new. I have never had strict processes or steps that I follow when making art. I let my mind flow and just go with what I believe looks the most pleasing. I love turning things that people wouldn't normally consider "art" into art. In my work I use many different types of media and imagery: plastic shopping bags, report cards, and medical procedures such as x-rays. On top of all these layers, I draw faces with reflective "beams" coming out of the eyes. The purpose of this is to convey a new perspective about all the different types of media included in each piece. The "beams" are reflective so that the viewer can see himself in the art and get a different point of view from it. I use countless layers of different media to give the art work depth and transparency. The reality of being able to combine all these different things to create one unified piece of artwork excites me.

You x Five, Daniel Ochoa, Mixed Media

Gastrointestinal, Daniel Ochoa, Mixed Media

Agglomerate, Daniel Ochoa, Mixed Media


Pioneer, Trystan Davis, Photography


va le ria per

Cynicism I believed when I was little That by climbing out my window And reaching out just a little bit further, I would touch the moon. Maybe take a star as a souvenir Of my fearless escapade, Wear it around my neck, And make the dull world shine. I believed that talking to the dandelions Would keep them company, And I left the park everyday Feeling like we parted as unlikely friends. Maybe I’d become so popular by word of wind They’d make me their queen. It was so exciting I forgot That most considered dandelions weeds. I believed rocks were creatures Who through misery decided to build A tougher shell than ever seen before, And I looked at them with pity when I skipped by.

Maybe it was inevitable or a sick twist of fate, But as my steps became heavier, My breaths longer, mind larger, and youth so far away. Thoughts turned to praise for the ones who decided to hide away.



Majesty, Jamileh Chemaissem, Markers


haos the Creator sat thinking in a box, created by his brother Harmony, who composes as he walks. And Chaos, stuck in four lines of simple, plain design, searched within the box for something he couldn't seem to find.

From the depths of the sea, he called up a form— something bright and untamable, and he called it a soul. "Help me rise up." And the soul heard his voice— so Chaos and the soul leaped out to rejoice. Harmony, spotting the soul, cried out, "I need my own partner!", and with a great shout,

Chaos raised his eyes to the sky with a sigh. The box had not broken. He couldn't see why. "We've created a world," Harmony said with a grin. "Why can't you accept the place that you're in?" And Chaos stood up, brushing his cloak to the side. "I must break down the box," and he started to rise. "You break down that box, you'll set the world to destruction!" Harmony clutched at his shoulder, "Man doesn't need that kind of corruption." Chaos pushed his brother off— and Harmony pushed right back, and Chaos hit the left wall with a smack— and they go back and forth to this very day, arguing about whether or not the box should go away.

Chaos the Creator

So Harmony, angry at the sudden outburst, stomped his foot on the ground, and rooted the trees in the Earth. Chaos took a step back, and tripped on his cloak, and found himself in the sea and he started to choke. So he heaved and he coughed as Harmony took a breath. And the sun rose up, as the moon sank left. But Chaos was determined to beat his brother down. He refused to lie back and let himself drown.

Chaos was dragged forward, through the dirt and the trees, while Harmony was tugged and brought to his knees. The soul and the mind raced quick towards each other, and they all crashed together— the lovers, and the brothers. There was blinding white light, and a wave of dark after that. Chaos and Harmony looked up to find Man, who bowed and tipped his hat.

Jasmine Davis

His brother wouldn't speak to him, but to sneer with clear disdain, and their father was unknown to them, without form, shape, or name. So lonely Chaos stood within the box of his demise, and raised his hands in slow motion beneath Harmony's distant eyes. "I will end my loneliness!" Chaos called, with a tremor in his voice, as Harmony paced the lines of the box, ignoring Chaos by choice. And as Harmony counted, by ones, twos and threes, Chaos spun in a circle, and around him grew trees.

the spirit of the mind descended from above— but before he could claim it, mind and soul fell in love.

If you're siding with Harmony, I'll give you your space, but I don't think you'd like the world to have such an ordinary face. But if you side with Chaos, then you should be put to blame— for Chaos is usually better contained. 87


Facescapes, Nuria Dolphin, Mixed Media

Night and Day Nicole Garcia The gift he gave to her sleeps by her side

After school, she’ll kick her shoes off and

night after night. Every morning, she folds the

shove them under the bed, then gently lie down

quilt neatly and places it under her pillow. This

across the center of the quilt, not wanting

is the same pillow which absorbs her thoughts and dreams for 6 hours a day, if she’s lucky. Those nights, where sleep comes by her like an old friend, she sits by the blanket with her

to disturb the fragile order of her own tiny universe. Afternoons like this lead her to believe that maybe things are just black and white, right and wrong.

head near the headboard, where it should be. Sometimes she’ll toss and turn, but the quilt

Sometimes she’ll raise her knees to her chest

follows persistently, terrified of being dragged

and lazily straighten her legs one at a time to

to the floor by the monster lying under her bed.

test her balance, to test how long she can lie in

When she unwrapped this present, she shook

between two extremes before toppling over to

it in front of her the way you would a sandy towel on a beach. The sand that was shaken off was collected in an hourglass that stopped counting seconds the minute he passed away. Now she

one side. Both day and night are greedy for her attention. If the quilt could speak, it still wouldn’t manage

curls up to the moon on the nights that greet

to utter the words she’s craving to hear. She’s

her with open arms and a comforting darkness.

hoping for at least a whisper, a stutter that

The nights which are not as forgiving force

might hint at the hour of the day he meant for

her to turn around completely. Her feet will rest

her to fall in. If she manages to wake up from

on the headboard while her head turns towards

a dream at exactly that time, maybe he’ll wake

the end of the quilt that bears a bright sun with

up beside her, pulling the quilt to his side of

a beauty that blinds those who haven’t seen she

the bed.

who bathes in its warmth. She’s convinced herself that the moon has its days, like anyone else, where

She’d follow his movements without realizing

it’d rather wax and wane on its own command.

it, the way the moon chases the sun but never

Some time apart would do both of them good.

seems quick enough to catch up. 89

Checkers, Walter Velasquez, Digital

A poem for A WOMAN Oriana Gamper

Girls and boys watch out, because the other is only after one thing and if that thing were love, Then wouldn’t that be something?

But please, please, forgive me if I look for it there Because I don’t know where else

Where do we find this Slippery little thing called love? I watch you and my gaze slides down, and in thanks, casts up to skies above

Or search, in the shimmering of your hair I have to try and find it in your big doe eyes because all your sweet voice tells me are lies, lies, lies

Because the way you look, I really think you could love me I can tell because of legs that stretch on for eternity

Got caught looking at your breaststrying to see into your heart this whole goddamn timeI wonder what you would do If I tried to make you mine

Believe me, I speak true when I say that the swing of your hips Isn’t worth half as much as the words on your lips

“Wouldn’t that be something?”



The Time Before Greens Ivan Langesfeld

In the time before greens, there were blinking reds and blinking yellows. I do not know when the greens came about, but they were nowhere to be found. It never fails to excite. Waiting to turn onto a side street, it happens! The red light, all on its own, starts blinking. Everything changes. Slowly, the other cars disappear down smaller and still smaller streets, finally reaching their eagerly awaiting families and going to bed. I too, must go back, but it is not my time. Deserted, the streets lay wide open. Selene, immersed in dark shadows, illuminates the sky, dragging high above the clouds, my sole companions. How I miss its emptiness and solidarity! The clarity and memories that have been shared with it. I do not seek out this time; it seems to find me

on its own. A restless night is enough to open the door. And once inside this time without time, I enjoy it thoroughly, yet I know I will not regret leaving it. It will always be there, waiting for me. A winding road, an unwinding soul. I find myself driving late at night, and nothing could feel better. Reflecting comes easy, there are no distractions. A long week’s worth of thoughts come pouring in, but I am calm. Things get sorted and resolved, and I find myself feeling content. The door creaks open, and I enter. I nudge my mom and dad, tell them I am home safe. The smooth sheets wrap around me as my pillow catches my falling head. Au revoir, my friend with those warm, blinking eyes. I will see you soon.

Birds Eye View, Trystan Davis, Photography

Don’t Judge Till You’re Over the Other Side, Christian Carmelino, Mixed Media


The Sea Isabela Casanova

My friends live in places far away.

But I don’t want to wait.

People like me. Just like me.

So I’ll be gone by noon.

I don’t see them enough to satisfy,

The sun will rise and I’ll see me,

But I hold onto their blissful dream;

But not the me I yearn to be.

The dream of living the lives they lead.

So I’ll run from that person

Living like them is what I need.

Who pretends to be,

I’m not quite there;

And drown myself

I’m afraid I’ll never be.

In the shining sea.

I’m not there yet,

Maybe down there I’ll find my friends.

But they say “You’ll see.”

They’ll meet me with the same salty end;

They say “It’ll be alright.”

Hiding from people they’re forced to be,

They say “You’ll be there soon.”

And finally living completely free.


Junesong Provision Christopher Czapla


eclining low in a worn cloth chair, we bask in summer’s warm arms. As it makes lunch with the shining sunlight, a view the same from eleven years ago stares back; a stucco Caesar salad of orange tile roofs and token crouton trees. Suburbia’s ambivalent caress of concrete copy homes against a blank blue sky waves for a yawn turned nap on the sunken office chair. Behind closed hazel eyes, paradise becomes clear.


he tropical metropolis. Five blocks away from sandy shores rise executive skyscrapers reminiscent of downtown Miami. Towering windows inhale entire walls on the penthouse floor. The vista from here on this personal slice of Elysium keeps feet frozen and eyes afire across a sun-slit horizon. Watch Apollo bring down his pride deep below the glowing blue coastline, casting shadows upon the entangled web of hustling avenues below. A lone outward glance leaves a dazzled wide smile with a hearty laugh to the world I’ve always known to be more than fantasy. Welcome to Florida.


ynthesis between urban sprawls and swaying palms in metropolitan cities brings unparalleled harmony that wears a sharp suit above and Hawaiian shirt below. Lose the blazer and jump into the open misadventure through hurricane streets. Follow them to any flavor of day possible. One such avenue makes a casual afternoon forest trek worthy to be one among the stars.


arving through the thin path lined with dense leaves was little trouble. Grass running coarse fingertips past my knees merely adds a forceful tone to the green story being told around me.

“This amusement park that goes beyond Magic Kingdom is my nexus of expression. Home.” Weaving through packed branches, I emerge below the shady canopy that barely illuminates the fallen brown pine needles piled thick above rich soil. Swallowed whole in the humid woven trenches, I make the snow angels’ distant cousin while giggling madly. Later, deep meditation comes easy with a lost concrete block and loyal green journal for company. Dying twilight fuels my famed disappearing act from bottled stress, screaming out wildly as I dash under frail branches and sprint through the tall wooden soldiers at arms. Standing still at the tree lines’ edge, panting, I stare straight above, and through the hearty branches that encompass tears and joy a firm grin holds true. This public secret is a seven minute skate on a longboard and a concrete divider jump away from a bedroom with a lone window. A cozy cove part of a vast haven, the hermit crab’s shiny shell; the Forest.


ith all the world being a stage, the sunshine state is a unique black box with consistent temperance. Tie a lounging hammock among the palms for the generations to come. On this hammock, serene breezes sooth tired bones to exhale modern smog for the refreshing current.


oar with it through the rich red palette sunrises, wafting through spare clouds and the deep blue yonder. Land justly within the lush green bloom. Tranquility flows freely; breathe in deeply.


ot by blood but by heart does allegiance beat fiercely a rhythm loyal to the home of Pollo Tropical. Our ardent bond runs through nooks and crannies with deep rooted nostalgia, holding firm to the isolated panhandle free of icy winters. This amusement park that goes beyond Magic Kingdom is my nexus of expression. Home.


loud crash of the Chinese evergreen becoming acquainted with the floor ends death’s counterfeit. The beige clay pot is forsaken; nature’s son lies defeated in the loose mound of soil spread across white tile. However, exposed outwardly are thin sprawling roots crying liberty. With a smirk, he later meets its eternal home on the front lawn.


uch like its owner now, our ties grow firmly entrenched in paradise.

Epiphany, Jamileh Chemaissem, Markers



What is the main concept? The main concept is that I want people to see my faith coming through in these pieces. What is your inspiration? My inspirations are pretty much my grandmother and Jesus Christ. Is there a specific story behind your art? I wanted a way to get out what I was feeling inside. Not all of my pieces have a happy story and they represent how I feel. Is there a specific story you want to share? Yes, the first one I made. It’s three pieces; it’s called Trinity Tree. For me, it’s like God is number one, Jesus, and then the Holy Spirit. Their presence surrounds the environments or places I want to be. Do the colors mean anything to you? I like bright colors because they draw people’s eyes and they are more symbolic. Are the colors a symbol of how you want to convey the Holy Spirit to people? Yes, exactly. 98

Is there significance within the environment of each cross? It kind of moves throughout. The blue symbolizes water, usually tears, but happy tears. There are roots to hold it, and it sort of branches out and moves on to petals and flowers for a more sensitive feel, and I want people to see it for what it is and feel whatever they feel. I don’t expect them to feel the emotions that I put into them necessarily. Do you have a particular thought process? Make the skeleton and fill it up with whatever my mind fills it. Like a subconscious dictionary.

“My inspirations are pretty much my grandmother and Jesus


Left page, left image: Bloody Battle, Breanna Moreno, Acrylic Left page, right image: Love Surrounds me, Breanna Moreno, Acrylic Right page, left image: Trinity Tree, Breanna Moreno, Acrylic Right page, right image: Yeshua, Breanna Moreno, Acrylic 99


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with Pastel Drawing

Selective Sagacity Anthony Callue


t’s an odd feeling, dismissing something of such magnitude. Hundreds of thousands of people live everyday for it; countless have died for it. Empires have risen and fallen; civilizations have been conquered and coerced into it, all leading me to shake my head, religion. I will never forget when Phil turned to me on the bus and nervously proclaimed his doubt of the Holy Trinity’s existence. Grey town homes blurred by 100

as the bus drove Phil and me to another day of seventh grade nothingness. My first thought was of concern; I didn’t want my best friend to burn in eternal infernos for something so simple, or worse, he’d be grounded for a few weeks. God exists because everyone says so. There’s even an ancient manuscript written by him or through his hand or something. Why would Phil doubt something so powerful, so divine?

Thus, our daily conversation of video games and girls took a turn for the best. Every day Phil would have a new question for me. “What if they’re wrong? How do you know God loves you? Why don’t you believe in Norse gods?” And every question cut my faith little by little, leaving only a glaring ignorance. Although every twelve year old thinks he knows everything about anything, I had no answers for Phil. Day by day Phil’s carefully phrased nihilist knife cut away my façade of religious knowledge, leaving me naked onstage, a bumbling fool dancing around his edged questions with careful mutterings. He wasn’t trying to shake my faith, just confiding honest questions to his best friend. Like clockwork, our bus drove by the CVS at 9:11AM and I’d tell Phil to drop it as the bus driver hushed us so he could get a good look at the empty train tracks. His questions stained my mind. I couldn’t focus on subtracting 3x from the left side of the equation or the structure of plant cells. I instead thought up answers to his questions and on the bus ride home would proudly dish them out. “They’re not. He does. Because Norse gods don’t exist.” As we drove back to the grey town homes he’d so frustratingly articulate the ignorance and hypocrisy in which I knew I had rooted my answers. I’d watch at church and wonder if God was really making that shaky old man dance, or if he was just moving to the beat of the choir. I like to sit down in the shower. With the curtain drawn back, the only thing that exists in your world are your thoughts and the sound of cascading water. It is a time to think, to ponder, to question, to answer. I bowed my head and uttered His name, and prayed for Phil to see the light. As the water dripped from my head I stopped. In this shower, there was only myself, the water and a few hygienic products. I stood up, feeling stupid for talking to myself.

The grey town homes blurred by the next morning. Phil’s newest question was like a divine intervention: “How do you know God’s listening when you pray?” Sighing, I turned to him and told him that I don’t. We were quiet well before getting to the train tracks. As the chains of Anglicanism fell from my mind I started to explore other religions. Islam and Judaism were essentially the same as Christianity so I shifted my gaze farther east to Siddhartha Gautama, Confucius and Brahma. I spent my summer reading assignment on faraway philosophies and beliefs, from the polytheism of Hinduism to the Eight Fold Path of Buddhism to the ethos of Jainism and the balance of Taoism. With every click of my mouse I learned more and more about the other side of our blue orb, pulling information from each and every paragraph and page of religious iconography. My showers were no longer me slumped against the wall, but sitting upright, hands on my knees, breathing out “Om” until I felt the floating sensation described by a comment on some blog. The grey town homes blurred by yet again, kicking off our prestigious eighth grade year with the exact same image of seventh grade year. Phil had just returned from Germany and after telling me of his trip he turned with that look of an incoming question. I cut him off and told him about all the learning I had done. Our bus trips quickly expanded from blurred grey homes and the CVS by the train tracks to ancient Chinese, Islamic, Germanic and personal beliefs. Every day we travelled back to 500 B.C.E. Buddha to the 1700’s Protestant Reformation to the mid-1900’s existentialism, until we’d be hushed by the bus driver as he peeked out for nonexistent trains. Though our conversation would wither, our minds stayed alive, buzzing with knowledge that set us free. 101

Knocking at the Universe’s Door Kshitij Kulkarni


I’ve always liked exploring. My parents’ go-to comment about me is, “He’s too excited about things.” As I grew, this extended to me simply learning. In fifth grade I marveled at solid rocket boosters and large transportation robots during a field trip to the Kennedy Space Center. I studied the assembly plant which housed shuttles before they were taken to the launch pads. I came back from the trip and told my dad, rather naively, “I’m going to take you to the moon in 10 years.”

Over the summer of my junior year as part of my internship, I tinkered with the confocal microscope at my local university’s otolaryngology lab. The neurons lit up like fireworks. I coded in MATLAB for hours creating fluorescence diagrams. After seven weeks, I was able to probe deeply into the workings of neuronal networks and calcium cycling. The petri dishes, centrifuges, and laminar flow hoods excited me. I brainstormed with graduate students. It was seamless.

When I entered high school, my romance with exploration grew. I transitioned to the minute scale and became obsessed with the human brain. It was an elegant machine, unlike anything I could conceive. I was addicted to learning about this artistic grey matter. In class, I would doodle compressions and rarefactions entering the basilar membrane, weaving their way to the auditory cortex.

That’s the thing about science; it’s as visceral as it’s cerebral. It allows me to feel, explore, and love. It gives me a chance to free myself from worldly things and for a few seconds dream and bring it all back again to helping people live their lives. I, for a small amount of time, am able to knock at the universe’s door and dare to ask it for answers.

Science Quilt, Ms. Camille’s Science Classes, Mixed Media

Ms. Camille’s Story

Isabelle Camille

About 1x106 years ago, my high school physics teacher gave us an assignment that sparked a question that ignited a passion in me. He asked us to go home, and by experimenting, find three objects: one that would float in water, one that would stay in the middle, and one that would sink. With this very simple exercise, I understood that we could manipulate the objects around us to understand the world. I practically had our whole house floating. If it were not for my siblings, I might not be here today, because I wanted to test my

father’s brand new transistor radio! We are talking late 60’s, in Haiti where our radio was the first of its kind on the whole island! My density lab started the flame in me to be a scientist and a teacher.

or inventor of African descent who has contributed to the development of America. To accompany their presentation they must demonstrate the person’s endeavor on a 9” by 12” felt without using

Art and science can be paired. I always like to include different disciplines in my course. Every quarter, my students have to do a project that incorporates the arts, engineering, or technology. In celebration of African American History Month this year, I assigned each student a scientist, engineer,

their name, hence the peanut for George W. Carver, the Siamese twins for Dr. Ben Carson, and the street light for G.A. Morgan. Then over December break we met at my house to put the felts together in a quilt to be ready for our celebration in February.

Where to go from Here Brian Ransom

The dark, clear night air stretches itself out through my mind; Where trees and train tracks meet; Where the sky burns green and purple, The Northern lights and sunset and the dead of night exist all at once, And rocks and grass splash under my feet; Where the air is sometimes running water and Life bends across the unlit horizon –

Sometimes I wonder, Is there another person in this Forest? She sometimes flashes her face across the sky And the highest tree I can climb doesn’t take me any closer to her than the ground; But she paints the midnight such a beautiful color.

In the place where I don’t sleep or I only sleep, My footprints leave tracks as to where I’ve been And I cross them, Over brooks and through streams, Through trees and mountains and caves, And feel anxious and excited and scared but certain Of the steps to come where there are none.

Where calm and quiet midnight reigns, At the center of movement there is still, And a beating heart at the prospect Of where to go from here. 104

Hummingbird, Camile Etchart, Acrylic on Self -Made Paper 105

Cupcake, Maria Macias, Digital Painting



Itara Moore Hands find their way beneath a soft cotton shirt, Mapping out bare skin and the planes of a broad back. A yawn gets muffled in pillows. “Don’t worry about it,” Because it’s Sunday, Sunday mornings means you get to hold him close; To relearn all the ways their bodies can move together. This means going down beneath covers And listening to your name spill from his lips like a prayer. This is where they build cathedrals out of comforters. Purification is in quick and sloppy kisses, baptism in sweat. “I’m building a safe space for you to stay.” It’s in his palms and the way his lips press gentle kisses To the scarred space between skin. Making himself less fractured, less of a cohabited body, He’s fortifying himself against the gun-riddled nightmares. So that you can sleep easily wrapped in warm arms. They are shedding war-hardened skin, Giving themselves this day of rest before They have to gear up for tomorrow.


Little Me, Taylor Davis, Mixed Media

Snickers So many chuckles We’re two pea(nut)s in a pod Well, we were at least

Butterfinger You slip-slide away Falling out of reach and grasp Cocoa-covered skin

MilkyWay Too plain for my taste Are the constellations of This lonely nougat



Playing the Hand Claudio Martinez

Brian Ransom

fter five weeks in the uterus, a child’s brain begins to develop. After four months its ears are formed

Ɔ ƅ

body, other times not. At the age of four, Claudio was enrolled in a first

enough to hear the world. At about eight months, the steps program, a center that provided specialized care child begins to start putting on weight and preparing for children with disabilities. At this time he couldn’t for birth – about half a pound a week. Finally, at nine walk, and the doctors said that he would never have full months, the child is ready to be delivered. It takes nine

control of his legs to do so. At four years old he proved

months for a child to grow and develop in the uterus. them wrong for a second time. He received a new type of surgery on his spinal cord at a St. Louis hospital; it

For Claudio Martinez, it only took six.

Claudio was born three months prematurely was after this surgery that he was able to walk for the with a disorder called cerebral palsy. At birth his wrist was about the girth of your finger, and for a while it was “touch-and-go”. The doctors predicted that he had six months to live, but six months passed, and then another six months, and he was released from the

It takes nine months for a child to grow and develop in the uterus. For Claudio Martinez, it took six.

hospital at the age of one.

first time – for a few years with leg braces, and then on his own legs. Even with his physical disabilities, he was determined to never be treated differently than any of the other kids. It was this determination

As Claudio explained it, having cerebral palsy that led him in fifth grade to undertake a mountainside is like having a light bulb hooked up to faulty wiring;

hiking trip as a part of his Boy Scouts requirements.

the bulb flickers, regardless of what you replace it with, Being aware of his disability, his superiors told him that because it’s the wiring that’s causing the damage. He

they would be able to find another way for him to meet

uses this analogy to describe the relationship between the requirement, his nervous system and muscles; while he’s able to work but Claudio was determined . After several arduous out and strengthen his muscles as much as he wants,

hours, he completed the hike, proving to himself and

it’s the signals between his brain and muscles that are

to others that he could do exactly what he set his mind

flickering – sometimes he’s able to fully control his

to. He attributes this fortitude to his mother, who


always made sure he knew that his attitude not his circumstances that determined who he was. “It’s not always about the cards that you’ve been dealt, rather

“What makes him different

how you play your hand in life,” he told me. In fact, not only has he succeeded in driving his own life for the better, but recently he’s also begun to help shape the lives of others with similar conditions. He decided to return to the first steps program

is the person he decided to become. “

to share his story. He gave the kids tips about things like dealing with bullies or making the most of what they are able to do physically. Afterwards, he remembers that a woman came up to him in tears and introduced him to her two-year-old son, who had severe developmental disabilities. She told him that his speech had given her “a light at the end of the tunnel.” Since that success, he’s continued to spread his message of hope in speeches at other programs and schools, and views this project as a potential career path and definite passion throughout his life. Now, 18 years old, Claudio has wrestled on the school team and helped devise plays for the football team. He’s gone from not being able to walk to scaling a mountainside. He’s changed the lives of dozens of others similar to himself through his speeches and brimming attitude. The truth is, although he’s always sought to be treated the same as everyone else, he’s not. He’s stronger. What makes him different is the person that he decided to become, a person of great strength, leadership, and self-awareness. It’s how he’s decided to play the hand.

Portrait of Claudio, Sophia Padgett-Perez, Photography

Amy Meltzer: Ceramic Art 112

Black Mug, Amy Meltzer, Ceramics

Marshmallow Mug, Amy Meltzer, Ceramics

Blue Mug, Amy Meltzer, Ceramics

Indelible Moments In Life This is an original composition by Marlon Caro, written as a wind ensemble to be performed by Coral Reef Senior High’s orchestra. To see the performance of the entire piece (approximately twelve minutes in duration), please go to: https://youtu.be/cSqsI2yfJIU

Open Passage, Jamileh Chemaissem, Pencil


How To Fall In Love With A Patrick Martin 1.

Out of nothing, you will create something.


The mind is made up of its experience. What ends up on the page is a manifestation of your past.


Writer’s block is a sham. Anyone can write, and claiming that there’s nothing to write about is an insult to the world around you. If you wrote yesterday, you can write today; the question is simply whether you can do it to your own satisfaction.


You may simply be as scared of opportunity as you are already in love with it. Notice the synonymous use of “blank page” and “opportunity”. If a blank page isn’t an opportunity to express yourself, then what is?


You have nothing to write about? Fine, admit it.

6. 7.

“I have nothing to write about.” Again.

“I have nothing to write about.”

8. 9. 10.

“I have nothing to write about.”

“I have nothing to write about.”


But that’s not true.


So why can’t you write about it?


“I have nothing to write about.”


Then write, write anything, and stare at it hard.


Write a word, write a sentence. It will come alive, and stare back at you.

Color-Guard, Walter Velazquez, Digital Media

Fictional Friend Pulastya Bagga


did it on a whim. I had no idea what I was getting into or what would happen; I just did it. When I was a child, I loved letting my imagination run free and writing stories about wizards, trolls, aliens and even lost dogs; so when I started writing a story about a young, curious boy a few Decembers ago, I thought nothing of it. That’s the thing with writing; she’s seductive. She’s an amazing dance partner, and when I found her, I wanted to sway with her word after word, twirl through each sentence and waltz with every chapter. When I first started writing my novel, I had the audacity to mimic the greats. Experimenting with the narration of Dostoevsky and the poetry of Nabokov, I wanted to impress the paper with my ‘dance’ moves. Then, something incredible happened. I accidentally created him – my protagonist – and all thoughts of sophistication left me. My aim became to write words so pure that they disappeared, leaving only story. I decided that I would write someone wholesome – someone beautiful, intelligent – and just a little bit insane. I had no idea what I was getting into.

“That’s the thing with writing; she’s seductive.” Attempting to write a character with the depth and complexity of a real person is a process which evolves as you grow. At first I wrote to experience things I had never before, wanting to get all the adventures from my head onto paper so I could revisit them later. Now I write to get the emotions out of my heart, and be able to translate the heights of joy and the deepest darkness of despair from pen to paper. My character helps me with that. With him, I want to capture the grandest moments of giving and sacrifice and the lowest desires of taking and hurting.

My character (after 130,000 words I still haven’t given him a name), is a part of me. He’s a fragment of me trapped in a word document on my computer, yearning to get out so he can come to life in someone else’s mind. Although I created him, he’s taught me more about myself than I ever figured I would know. Every time I open my laptop, he offers me an escape, an opportunity for me to sit with myself, fishing for my innermost thoughts and feelings. At first I was afraid of such an intense isolation, but I began to cherish it more and more. As any writer knows, no matter how hard you may try to look organized, on the inside you have a chaotic explosion of thoughts and images and sounds and feelings and actions and daydreams and questions and half thought out explanations and answers that do not make any sense at all. Shoving these thoughts into words creates order out of pandemonium. By writing daily, I began to expand my horizons and became more creative and flexible. I became more open minded by looking through the perspective of characters I wrote, and now I’m able to appreciate people from all walks of life even more. As I would write my protagonist, he would write back to me. When I was content, I would not write. When I was suffering, I would make him suffer. When my grandfather passed away, I made him feel the tightness in my throat when I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. I made him feel the sting of fresh, hot tears when I broke my promise, and I made sure he dealt with the same moments of tender, ridiculous nostalgia that hit me. Despite all that, he still offered his advice, “You bought a bouquet of roses today to pay your respects. Now buy another one, and pluck a single petal from a rose every day. And when the last rose is bare, that’s when you know it’s time to move on.” 117

Colorful Hope, Amber Plaksin, Mixed Media

Postscript Raina Levin There’s something comforting about endings; Odd beauty in their resounding finality. Ripping off that band-aid of insecurity, Burning away all loose ends, It’s just immensely satisfying. There’s something about this end that was liberating. I’ve severed those ever-so-tenuous strands that once bound us So I’m no longer tethered, but floating freely, Drifting away because you don’t bog me down anymore. I used to think that approval was necessary, But I’ve tired of tailoring myself to your industrial mold When we all know I was never going to fit anyway. I’d thought that letting go would send me Crashing, flailing, careening Down to the ground. But instead I’m being supported by the wind. It’s fickle, but more reliable than you ever were. Because I’ve dissolved away my dependence And I’m trying to absolve you of the blame. I’m making progress. With this, that faintest wisp of you that remained Has been expelled, banished from my brain.


Rising Up, Taylor Davis, Watercolor Pencil

Hoping Adrianna Leys I hope there are days when you love being alive. When the sunrise becomes the most beautiful sight you ever saw. When everything fits And feels effortlessly right I hope there are days you become one with the waves When the ocean sings you a song and you are Blissfully floating With a smile permanently etched on your face Your heart full of contentment I hope there are days where you fall in love with the moment. And you want nothing more than to just be. So go on, Just be.


Sink, Kristie Hinkle, Gouache

Visit this link to hear spoken word pieces and the full version of Indelible Moments in Life

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