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Sad Moon AND OTHER WORKS OF FLASH FICTION

By Middle and High School Students in the Harlandale Independent School District

Summer Writing Academy in San Antonio, Texas Summer 2010

READERS AND WRITERS TODAY AND TOMORROW 1


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Sad Moon AND OTHER WORKS OF FLASH FICTION by middle and high school students in the Harlandale Independent School District Summer Writing Academy in San Antonio, Texas in partnership with Gemini Ink, readers and writers today and tomorrow Summer 2010 Gemini Ink thanks Writer-in-Residence Lyle Rosdahl English Language Arts & Reading Facilitator Jessica Acosta Gifted and Talented Facilitator Tamara Slechta and Teacher Stephanie Campos Cover image credit: Xavier Joe Burciaga Gemini Ink’s work in the Harlandale Independent School District and this publication were made possible by the Harlandale Independent School District Student work has been edited as lightly as possible in order to honor the original voices

513 S. Presa St. San Antonio, Texas 78205 www.geminiink.org 210-734-WORD 3


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Foreword:: Lyle Rosdahl Writer-in-Residence These serious writers and I explored the genre of flash fiction. Though there isn’t a hard and fast word count, flash fiction is shorter than the short story. The stories of these Harlandale students rise and reach climaxes (the point of understanding or maximum conflict), buckle and twist and kick and shout. This is partially due to the fact that we considered constraints other than just word counts. We wrote lipograms (stories that omit words with particular letters, “e,” for example) popular with a movement called Oulipo (their interest in mathematics to create forms like the lipogram really opened up these writers’ minds). We wrote using visuals constraints, such as lotería cards and black and white photographs (most of these stories used visual constraints for their genesis). We wrote using strange prompts -- surreal, nearly random sentences -- as ways of thinking about writing. Mostly we wrote. And succeeded wildly. Here are the fruits of their labor. Pluck and enjoy.

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Contents Something Beautiful / Jesus Fonseca / 1 The Woman in White / Selina Bonilla / 2 Refugees / Jesus Fonseca / 5 The Hard Decision / Jonathan Arrendondo / 6 The House / Georgie Rae Jasso / 7 Malaise / Korena Benavidez / 10 Hometown / Aron Martinez / 12 Loteria: The Brightest Star / Selina Bonilla / 14 Silver Soul / Aron Martinez / 15 Packed Up / Georgie Rae Jasso / 16 Sad Moon / Javier Joe Burciaga / 18 She / Javier Joe Burciaga / 18 Crazy / Javier Joe Burciaga / 18 Birds of a Feather / Jesus Fonseca / 20 Malady / Korena Benavidez / 22 My Dream / Jonathan Arrendondo / 23 My Mental Path / Jonathan Arrendondo / 24

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Something Beautiful Jesus Fonseca, 8th grade As the sun sets, I see the stars coming out. The spiders are crawling out from old warehouses and window sills. Soldiers are getting impatient while the street performers play the same music. There are drums being hit, guitars being strummed, and violins sounding very beautiful. I walk a little farther out to a dried-up field. A cactus and scorpion are the only things in sight. I leave the deserted place in search of something brilliant. As I scour the whole city, I come to find a rose. Its very presence radiates beauty. Even the darkest night couldn’t make its beauty fade. I stare at it in amazement the rest of the night. For once I have found something beautiful.

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The Woman in White Selina Bonilla, 11th grade Each night she woke up screaming but no one was in the house to hear. She’s alone, she’s been alone for a while now, but is still unable to cope with it. This night is the same as all the other previous nights and it still picks at the open wound left in her heart, which has yet to heal. She sits up and cradles her knees to her chest. She squeezes her eyes tight, hoping it will shut out the flashing images from that dreadful night. The heavy rain, the skidding car, the sound of metal, the sudden plunge into the lake; the memories come flooding back. With each flash is another ache in her chest. She missed him. She missed the future they planned together — but that was taken away — everything was taken away from her, snatched angrily, ripped from her hand by the slippery road, raging water. She couldn’t handle the pain anymore and knew what would make it go away. She was thinking about this daily, and no matter how much the pain wanted her to, there was something, something familiar in the back of her mind preventing her from doing so. Tonight, tonight was much more than she could handle, and she didn’t want to feel like this anymore. The pain was unbearable, it needed to go, she needed it to go. She slipped from her bed and dressed in what she wore that night. She pulled the elegant dress, crumpled in the back of her closet, out and the precious jewels hidden in her jewelry box. She dressed absent-mindedly in the unscathed attire and was unaware that she was ready ‘til she found herself staring at her reflection in the mirror they picked out together. She stared at herself, in the dress, and remembered the night of music and dancing, the pure happiness she felt when he pulled her close to dance, and whispered “I love you” in her ear. The sound of screeching metal disrupted the memory, causing her to wince and turn away. She slowly looked back at the mirror, with her hair in disarray and the dark circles under her eyes. She then made her decision — tonight is the night. 2


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Selina Bonilla


The bridge was deserted as she looked down the paved road that had taken her world away. She stared at the broken rail that had yet to be fixed, the twisted metal mesmerized her. She slid her fingers down the cool rail ‘til her fingertips felt the jagged ends. After she slipped out of her shoes, she placed herself between the destroyed rails and gingerly held each damaged end. Below her was the lake — its quietness taunted her, for she wanted it roaring like it was on that night. A tiny sigh of remorse escaped her lips, as if she was exhaling the pain that stabbed at her heart, before her body fell through the air. The water took her gently. It engulfed her as a blanket as she plunged deep within the lake, then she slowly rose to the surface. Tiny rivulets in the water diminished and the water went still. Everything went still. She felt the familiarity warm her and cradle her, causing a smile to slowly form. It felt unusual to smile, she hadn’t done it in while, but the warmth hugged her. She laid back and closed her eyes, dreaming of his face.

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Refugees Jesus Fonseca, 8th grade Scene 1: Carrying out garbage isn’t fun; especially on Houston Street. I was carrying rotten fish and a basket of dead rats. The street was full of bad things. But the light on a tree made it a little better. Just then a man came and said, “There’s bombs being tested here... run!” Then, a bomb fell on a hill nearby and the shock wave knocked me and the man down. Scene 2: I was eating lunch with two highly notorious serial killers and we were trying to figure out how to kill this French designer dude. It was just starting to rain and two lovebirds were having a picnic so I laughed a little bit. The news was on and I heard that a bomb had been dropped on Houston Street. Then I remembered, I was there. Scene 3: Inside a house, a witch was boiling some kids. A crowd of gypsies was cheering and I was rushing through. The crowd was thick and they were fighting back. I ran, knocking people over. Then someone fell and grabbed my leg. The people started to notice and were realizing I wasn’t one of them. They picked me up and then a bomb hit the ground and everyone went flying. I was on the ground so I was safe, for now.

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The Hard Decision Jonathan Arredondo, 9th grade The hard decision was very tough for me. I thought about what I should do to him. My life was drifting away from me, just from the decision. The hard decision was tearing my eyes because he did those bad things to me. Now I would have to make a decision that would lead me to justice. The hard decision made me feel afraid, wondering whether he will come after me one day. Maybe he’ll try to hurt me again. The hard decision chose for me to make a choice. A choice to put him behind bars for life. The choice freed me to never live with that situation again. The hard decision will help me for now on. That guy will never be there to hurt me again. He will be gone and I don’t have to see his face. The hard decision gave me my justice and now I will always be safe.

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The House Georgie Rae Jasso, 11th grade The outside of the house looked normal enough; a little worn down, well, a lot worn down. Shutters hung off the second floor windows and the steps leading to the porch were broken. My dad had just brought this house from a little old lady he knew since he was young. I know this tired old yucky house. Supposedly he was going to fix it up. Just like the ‘63 Nova sitting in the backyard since last Christmas. He always does this kind of thing. Mid-life crisis or something. “Come on Magen!” My dad called to my sister, Mina, and I. (My mom had chosen not to come, not that I blamed her). “Yeah, if it doesn’t collapse on us,” I joked. As soon as I stepped up to the porch I got this strange vibe, as if I had walked into a cold gust of wind. I stopped and stared at the door, suddenly feeling frightened. “Um, come on!” Mina yelled to me pulling me out of my trance. “Oh… ha right. Sorry,” I replied with a nervous laugh. Inside, the strange sensation did not go away but only worsened. I couldn’t blame myself. The house looked as if it had been uninhabited for centuries. There was no furniture, the paint was peeling, and there was a musty smell. Looking around the living room, a fire place caught my attention. It was strange how the fireplace was unblocked but still let in no light considering it was mid-afternoon. I walked towards the fireplace. There was a huge window beside it that I hadn’t not noticed until now. The view from this window was beautiful, which felt strange considering the view of the house was not so beautiful. The grass had a freshly mowed look, while the trees looked new and young. I felt stuck in this spot and did not want to leave. Mina and Dad were exploring and having fun, while I was spending my time in a pointless gaze. Suddenly I felt that vibe again, but more then a chill. It was like a 7


Georgie Rae Jasso

hand was being run down my back. I turned quickly on the spot but no one was there. “Dad! Mina!” I yelled. “What? What is it?” My dad asked as he came running down the stairs. “Dad, I don’t like it here,” I explained, trying not to sound so whiny. “Oh Magen,” my dad laughed, “you’re just being silly.” 8


That made me mad. “Fine whatever,” I replied, trying to be nonchalant. When my dad went back up the stairs, I decided I was going to try to explore the house like them, but that little plan didn’t happen. Instead I stayed where I was by the window, by the fireplace. Eventually I had to sit down and still I gazed at nothing in particular, but still transfixed. Then I heard a high-pitched scream from another room. It was Mina. I ran to the room she was in. She was just standing there with her water bottle, but she looked shocked. “What happened?” I asked as I entered the room and put my arm around her shoulders. “Well…I...I don’t know. It…it was just…just…” she stammered. “OK just calm down a little,” I suggested as I pulled her into the living room. Even in this situation, I still wanted to be in the living room. Mina sat down with me on the floor. Something must have happened to her like to me, but she was younger and scared more easily. “You don’t like it here either, do you?” I asked. She shook her head. “I already told Dad, but he just blew it off,” I grimaced. Now that I thought of it, it was strange that Dad didn’t come running down when Mina yelled. There was a sudden thump from above. Mina and I looked at each other. “Let’s go see what he’s doing and complain some more,” I suggested to her. When we got upstairs however, that was deemed unnecessary. Dad came running down the stairs. He was covered in dust, and looked like he wanted to cry. “Girls, grab your stuff,” Dad ordered. I wasn’t going to argue, but I had to admit I was curious. “What happened up there?” I asked. There was no reply. He was ignoring the question. “Whatever,” I said with one last glance to the window as I exited the door. We were halfway across the lawn to the car when I looked back to see the outside view of that window. When I looked I couldn’t catch my breath. There was a man clear as day standing there, but when I looked back again he was gone. “We’re selling the house!” my dad exclaimed as we piled into the car. 9


Malaise Korena Benavidez, 8th grade She lived in a forgotten forest near a small town. Humans have spotted her a few times, but very few have lived to describe her appearance. They say she is a small little girl whose pupils glow bloody red and her smile can blind anyone. An old woman has seen the girl up close — she says the small child looks like a 14-year-old. She wears a long, black funeral dress, and a matching veil. Her hair is black and long. It touches the ground, and her skin is pale white. Detectives have worked for decades to find an explanation for the girl, but nothing so far. One detective said, “She must be a hallucination, it might just be in peoples’ heads.” The small town didn’t believe in the detective’s work, so they decided to send out search parties to find the small child. Years passed and all the search parties that were sent have gone missing. Sightings grew more frequent throughout town. More townspeople disappeared, never to be found again. Scientists found the town more interesting. They wanted to explore the mysteries of the Ghost Child as they called her. Discoveries have been made of the missing people. They found them next to a small creek in the forest. Some were barely alive while others were left dead, floating down the creek. They notice that the survivors have bad bruises and large cut wounds on their arms. Survivors say they were saved by the creek because the Ghost Child wouldn’t come near it for some reason. Some say she wouldn’t come near the creek because her body might be hidden among the rocks. Scientist searched through the creek to find the body, but with no luck. Centuries went by and scientists gave up on the search for the body and named her Malaise because her body is surrounded by creatures. 10


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Korena Benavidez


Hometown Aron Martinez, 8th grade On the way to my hometown, I stumbled upon a different town in which a group of men talked about how brave you have to be to wear a hat. I was confused by this. They started talking about how death will come for you if you eat a pear in 3 seconds. As I was leaving the strange town, I stopped to buy some boots that had a design of a moon on them. I tried them on and as I did I saw a parrot staring at me. It didn’t take his eyes off me, so I left as soon as I could. It only got stranger from there on. I got to another town in which I saw a group of drunk men talking about how the world was being held by an Apache. Their talk made no sense to me, so I decided to leave. When I got to the outskirts of the pueblo I could see my own town in the distance, so I started walking. As I was getting close I saw a cactus bearing fruit. That was strange because cactus don’t bear fruit this time of year. In the shade of the plant I saw a scorpion resting, hiding from the sun. By now I was about 20 miles away and I saw a small river that ended close to the town. Then came a woman in a boat who asked me if I needed a lift. I said, “Yes.” She said that she could only take me to the pine tree. The pine tree was close to the end, so I said that would be fine. As we were passing a palm tree I started to catch fish. This must have offended her because she slapped me with her hand and said to get off. She left me next to the palm tree instead of the pine.

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Loteria: The Brightest Star Selina Bonilla, 11th grade The rain poured heavily on my roof as I looked out the window, watching the ocean. In the midst of the ocean a red tail, as red as the ripest apple, whipped causing more of a disturbance in the water than the pouring rain. I quickly climbed up the stairs, to get a better view of the ocean through the bigger window. When I caught another glimpse, a woman’s face poked out of the water. Her eyes settling on me before she sunk below the surface. At the sight of this beautiful woman of the sea, a feeling of dread overwhelmed me. As the feeling grew, out of the corner of my eye something flapped angrily towards me, causing me to flinch and duck out of the way. When I realized that nothing had come to the window, I dared another peek. My neighbor’s flag waved rapidly in the wind. This was my angry beast. I gave an easy laugh at my paranoia and made my way back downstairs. I went to the kitchen to turn on the tiny radio sitting on the edge of the counter. I turned the tiny knob and music seeped out of the speakers. The music settled my nerves until the house grew dark. The music became less helpful and I began to pick at the fruit sitting in the bowl before me. The uneasy feeling still nagged at me and I was unable to eat, so I gave my nibbled remains to my parrot, which pecked at it happily. I felt a sudden urge to go upstairs. I slowly made my way upstairs. Uncertainty began to spread throughout my body. The window sat before me, but a shadow darkened the room. I quickly turned around witnessing the shadow form into man. My throat tightened, forcing back a scream. The man’s dark skin was difficult to see, but his piercing eyes shined bright. “Have you seen her?” he rasped. I stood there not uttering a word, as my eyes grew bigger in shock. 13


“Have. You. Seen. Her,” he pronounced each word. “The woman, the woman of the sea?” I nodded slowly, afraid to trust my voice not to shake. “She’s death!” he raged. “You weren’t suppose to look at her!” “I – I didn’t know,” I whispered, “Wh-what is she?” “Her name is Airiana. She’s a mermaid. Not like those happy, good mermaids you see! She’s evil and demented, and I was able to capture her. I was her keeper, but she escaped. I’ve been all over looking for her, following her. She loves games. She loves to capture someone’s attention, and then go after them. She’ll be after you,” he paused. “If you see her, look for the brightest star.” And with those final words he vanished. I stood there in complete shock; I wasn’t able to comprehend all that had just happened. The room was silent; the radio had turned off when the man appeared. The last note the musician played lingered in the air with the hum of the deserted room. I sat down on the little wooden chair placed in the hallway and sat there rolling the news I had heard through my mind. Mermaid? Mermaid? Mermaid. It finally settled within my thoughts helping the shock melt away. A black spider caught my attention; it stood out in the lit house. Lit? The house was now illuminated with sunlight streaming through the windows. Daylight had set in without my knowledge. I slowly made my way to the big window. The weather was clear and the rain was gone. Tiny waves splashed as something red skimmed across them. Red. I frantically began to search for the brightest star in the day lit sky.

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Silver Soul Aron Martinez, 8th grade Here lies my silver soul So painless and so cold The night as black as coal My life is ticking, turning old Why should I feel this pain? I am no longer here to stay The heavens cry in the form of rain My soul is now at bay Never will I be so cruel My heart now has a hole Why was I such a fool? To my silver soul

Aron Martinez

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Packed Up Georgie Rae Jasso, 11th grade The day started out normal enough. My dad went to work early in the morning as usual, and came home after. However the day did not progress as it should have. He had just finished his dinner. His favorite, spaghetti, made today by my mom. She was the best cook, the best mom, and the best wife. If only my dad believed that too. “I have to run an errand,” he called out to my mom one day as she was doing dishes. “Oh, oh, can I come?” I asked. I had been home all day and needed the fresh air. “Um…yeah, if you would like to…” He replied hesitantly. This was strange, but I was distracted by the thought of getting out of the house. We got into the car. During the ride, he asked about school; I asked about work. We joked. The ride ended at a diner. “Gosh, Dad, we just had dinner and you’re hungry again?” I joked. He gave a nervous laugh. “No actually I’m meeting a friend here,” he replied. “Oh, O.K.” I said. I had expected to see Jimmy, one of my dad’s coworkers. I was shocked to see a woman waving us down. “Sweetie, just go sit at the counter and order a drink or something,” he suggested. “Yeah, I will,” I replied while I eyeballed the woman who was waiting for my dad. I sat on a stool and ordered a tea. I looked back again to see Dad in deep conversation with the woman sitting across from him. She seemed to have that natural beauty to her, a sort of glow. I wondered if what I was thinking was true. Could something be going on with my dad and her? I tried to distract myself with my phone but decided that the effort was pointless. I was too distracted by him and her. Why had he let me come along? He knew what he was up to, and yet he agreed to my offer to join him. Time passed and I kept glancing back at the booth he was sitting in. Was it just me, or did there seem to be way more affection than 16


was necessary? He would constantly touch her hand or put her hair behind her ear. They looked natural together, like this happened all the time. Ignoring them was useless. Finally after what seemed like hours, my dad got up from the booth and walked over to the door signaling me to follow. He was smiling, acting normal. I started to walk to the door while I glared at the woman. On the ride home, he tried to talk to me constantly and explain, but I put on my headphones. I couldn’t take this. When we arrived home, I ran to my room. I knew what was about to happen and I did not want to be there to see it. I sat there waiting for that one sound that would tell me it had been done. “Just get out. Out, out, out!” There it was. I ran out of my room to see my mom yelling at my dad. She looked surprised at the news, but more angry then anything. He was trying not to look at me or my mom as he began to pack up his things in a suitcase I never knew he had. My mom, furious and hurt, left to the kitchen. After a while my dad started to walk out to his car. I followed him. He saw me staring and asked. “Would you like to come?” I looked at him. He looked sincere, but I couldn’t take him seriously. “No, never,” I replied, a note of finality in my voice. He nodded as he got into his car. If I had hurt him I didn’t care. I watched for a while as he backed his car up; holding back the tears that would soon come. After a couple of minutes I jerked myself out of my daze, and joined my mom inside.

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Three works of fiction Xavier Joe Burciaga, 9th grade

Sad Moon

The moon is in love with the sun but he could never have her. So he goes behind the clouds to hide his face and cry.

She

I have a smile on my face when she is around me. I think of nothing when she is with me. I cry when she is gone. She has found someone else, my friend since elementary has stolen my love from me, why can’t they both die? Even if I killed them what’s the point of life? I still love her.

Crazy

You ask me what’s wrong, you ask me why I’m no fun. “Well, if you want to find out what’s behind these cold eyes you’ll just have to crawl your way through!” While you crawl you might see an old man laughing on my brain punching and pushing my buttons to make me go crazy. And if you look closely you might see me in the corner. We are just separating. You’re just bringing up tension. Did I mention that I’m just fading away? You ignore the old man. You wonder towards my fading face. You say, are you ok? No I’m crazy.

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Xavier Joe Burciaga

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Birds of a Feather Jesus Fonseca, 8th grade Always friends never enemies Together, forever, for eternity Always there and never here I’m right beside you, do not fear Age is only a number Words can never dissever This love we share I don’t care What anyone says It will be alright I lay down to sleep and wonder If I will wake up like any other Person in the world Who has ever loved Never separated Hate is overrated No need to cry Look into my eyes Hate, anger, and misery I still have the will to be Never worried or scared

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Jesus Fonseca

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Malady Korena Benavidez, 8th grade Malady lingered in a cornfield. She screams a wicked scream. Her anger and rage was taken out on a small home near the cornfield. A small family that isn’t rich nor poor nor fooled to believe the screams in the cornfield. Then a little girl that is about 5 years old fell for the screams and decided to adventure out alone for the girl named Malady she had heard so much of at school about. “Malady!” She called over and over again but no answer. She ventured off farther towards the cornfield to search for Malady. She held her arms close together and cautiously walked into the cornfield quivering in fear. The child called Malady’s name again. Then a response. “Hello?” was the reply that sounded gloomy and dull like a normal response from a young girl. The girl grew comfortable with the response and kept moving farther and farther into the cornfield, hearing the same response repeatedly. She stopped. A white glowing light flickered in the distance like a fallen star. The girl found it very valuable and darted towards it. She gazed at the light with amazement and noticed a girl figure in the light. “Malady?” the girl asked. “Malaise?” the girl asked. In a blink of an eye the Malady and the small girl disappeared into the darkness. Years passed and there was no sign of the small girl nor Malady.

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My Dream Jonathan Arredondo, 9th grade My dream was to become a famous singer To meet my idol Mariah Carey Sing with her and make my brother jealous My dream is learn how to play the guitar Create country music Sing my favorite country song My dream is to act like an angel around my parents for One day Maybe I’ll wear a halo so that they know I’m behaving My dream is to stop being skinny Build muscle on my body eat very healthy My dream is to live a dream To never stop dreaming Always keep myself on the right track

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My Mental Path Jonathan Arredondo The blade of the shaver was calling my name I picked up the blade and ran it through my skin As I watch the blood come down my arms and legs I screamed real loud so that the pain wouldn’t hurt so much I thought of myself drowning in a river and never panicking Letting myself fall into the water So that my body sinks slowly in Always feeling like this, may have a reason to this People may think I’m mental But to me I’m just headed down My Mental Path

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Jonathan Arredondo

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About the Writer-in-Residence: Lyle Rosdahl holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and English with Honors from Concordia University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard. His work has been published in Clockhouse Review, Rio Grande Review, and Tarpaulin Sky. His current work often utilizes mathematical constraints to trigger literary creation (Oupilo, or “Ouvroir de littérature potentielle,” a school of artistic thought founded by French mathematicians and writers in the 60’s) and explores the relationship of word and image in painting, photography, cartoon, and website creation. He teaches developmental English at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas. Visit his website at www.lylerosdahl.com

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“Gemini Ink nurtures writers and readers and builds community through literature and the related arts,” is our mission. Our four programs serve an average of 5,000 patrons annually: Writers in Communities (WIC) sends professional writers into diverse community settings to work alongside students of all ages, needs, interests, and abilities in free workshops based in oral traditions, reading, and creative writing. The Autograph Series presents writers of national or international stature — many of them recipients of major prizes such as the Pulitzer or National Book Award — in a free public performance and a ticketed colloquium luncheon the following day. University Without Walls (UWW) offers three semesters of feebased reading groups and workshops and also many free literary events, all led by professional writers, scholars, and interdisciplinary artists. Dramatic Readers Theater (DRT) features professional actors interpreting literary works in free performances, often accompanied by original music. For more information, visit www.geminiink.org or call 210-734-WORD (9673) Toll-free: 877-734-WORD (9673)

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Sad Moon And Other Works of Flash Fiction