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Let Me Tell You Gemini Ink helps people create and share the human story. This project was generously funded by the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department and the National Endowment for the Arts. Editing: Jim LaVilla-Havelin, Writer in Residence Layout: Anisa Onofre, Publications Director, Gemini Ink Jen Knox, Writers in Communities Program Director, Gemini Ink Sheila Black, Executive Director, Gemini Ink The author’s work was lightly edited to preserve the original voices. Cover image by Jeremy Gallman, Creative Commons Š 2017 Gemini Ink


Contents Let Me Tell You


Jen Knox, Writers in Communities Program Director, Gemini Ink



Group Poem

Let Me Tell You


While I Was Gone, Greedy World


Alex C.


Alexis T.

Adrian M.


So Much Depends, I’m a volcano, This Girl


The word “emo”, Coffee Shop


The Angel Blues, Old Love, 4 A.M., Motherly Love

20 22

24 27

Amador E. Angel M. Braejon D.

when people change on me, I Am Thankful, life too short Brittney G.

Yeah, I heard about the rose, Where Hatred Comes From, Grew Up Jose H.

Forgot How They Taste!, Seven Little Geese, Long Way Gone Joseph M.

tick tock, I am here or am I there?, life is short, watch what you see I got two brothers


gravy dripping, As ________As________


The Rose, My Beautiful Wife, Scared to Fall in Love Again, I Am


Sarai R.

Kemar S. Rodrigo R.

I am from…, Yes, I’m afraid, Anger

38 42

Shawn R.

School Rock Fantasy, Leave Me, Shot Through, Changed Group poems

I am Waiting, Krier / Signs


Jim LaVilla-Havelin


Can Poetry Save Us? Andrea Vocab Sanderson

we traded in our tears


Octavio Quintanilla



About the Writer in Residence

Introduction There’s nothing soft about the writing in Let Me Tell You, but there is hope and enduring beauty. This collection is both resonant and urgent; the poems are brief but distinct journeys into struggles, survival, and resolve. This is a memorable collection of poems that echoes a time and proves the endurance of spirit. To each of the writers in this collection, my hope is that you are incredibly proud of your contribution. Keep writing, and keep sharing your truths. Gemini Ink would like to thank Bexar County for its support and belief in the power of words and the power of sharing stories. Thank you to Jim LaVilla-Havelin, our Writer-in-Residence at the Cyndi Krier Juvenile Correctional Treatment Center, and the amazing staff who support these workshops. Thank you to Jessica Maupin, Theresea Scheets, Jason Hill, and Jayme Lyons. Thank you to those whose passion for reading and writing transcends. Thank you also to our guest artists, Andrea Vocab Sanderson and Octavio Quintanilla, for sharing your gifts and perspective.

—Jen Knox Writers in Communities Program Director


Let Me Tell You Group Poem Let me tell you; sit back and enjoy. Listen to me when I say, I’m feeling free. All I really wanna tell you is you gotta go. Believe me, when I tell you you gotta go. Pack your bags! is what I wanna tell you. Can I make you listen to me when I scream bloody mary? I won’t tell you to have a little faith. Is a poem a place to tell you that I’m in placement? I’ve been try’nna tell you to leave. Are you listening? I’ll tell you to leave, but you won’t go. Let me tell you about my fortune. Some real stuff I tell you, and sometimes you hear me. Hear me. I’ll fill you in and love you up. Who will tell you, if I tell you a deep truth no ear had heard before? Let me tell you. What more is there left to tell you? You just gotta go. How can I tell you what I can’t tell you? Let me tell you that’s fo sho!


while I was gone Adrian M. while I was gone people switched up on me… we always used to say our love won’t stop growing… don’t you remember all the good times we had? now all I got left is myself and it’s sad… while I was gone things seemed to change now that I’m back it’s still the same… don’t you remember all those times when it was only me and you? what’s left is just the broken-hearted memories you used to do… I know I’ve been gone, but my love for you is still in my heart… and I still remember when we said we’ll never fall apart.


greedy world Adrian M. what a selfish, greedy world. everything is just about money and girls. they will do anything to feel on top of the world. where’s the integrity? where’s the honesty? where’s the loyalty? there’s such bit of us but only the strong survive. to pass it down to our generation— we don’t have to hide. sooner or later, we will all die, but the truth will remain alive.

Thanksgiving Alex C. Turkey is my favorite. Oh yes, mashed potatoes and gravy are very good too. But sweet potatoes, they’re not so good. Pecan pie is the best dessert, but being with my family is definitely the best part, not just the food.


So Much Depends Upon

(from W.C.W. “The Red Wheelbarrow”) Alexis T. so much depends upon my dad he works hard just for us to have clothes on our back being a firefighter is a tough job what if he dies one day, and I never see him again? what if I’m here, and he dies? people say I’m paranoid no, I just care I miss my dad very much and I want to go home I wanna take back all my mistakes my point is I miss my dad and I need to go home.


I’m a Volcano Alexis T. I’m a volcano that can blow up any time now. All this anger inside me is filling my lungs just wanting to come out. You say I want attention. I say I want forgiveness. You say, I’m full of it. I say, I’m more than what you could be. Yeah, I cry every night, but that doesn’t Make me weak inside. It makes me strong, caring and sensitive. But I’m more than what you see. I’m thankful for the air in my lungs giving me life every day. Yeah, I made a lot of mistakes. and I pray for forgiveness every day. When I throw my fists at the wall it gives me just a little bit of relief, and you gotta think— other people have it worse than you and you gotta watch out for the ones that do.


This Girl Alexis T. I know this girl, curly hair dark skin and a beautiful smile. We used to be close, but we haven’t spoke in a while. Your thing—to run from something, but that something isn’t leaving. I wish I knew what it was so I could change it, not for you but for us, so we could build a better relationship. Yeah, I know you haven’t changed a bit, but you’re the only girl I can’t forget. Every time I see you I wanna hug you and squeeze you even though we be distant I hope you know that I need you in my life ’cause nobody can compare to you. Lately, I know you’ve been going through a lot. You stress me out to where I worry about you a lot ‘cause in the blink of an eye they can take you out of this world. God forbid, but you’re an angel— I can see you glow. You just gotta give it time for your wings to grow. I love you and I just wanna see the best for you So keep your head up, and don’t let nobody get to you. You’re beautiful in your own little way. I can see your pain ‘cause your pain is my pain


and we’re both crazy. When I heard you were doing bad I seem to get these migraines I think we’ve got the same mind frame Lord knows. My point is I love you to death, little sis.


The Word “emo” Amador E. the word “emo” is covered in black, black skin, tight skinny jeans 3 sizes extra small black hair as long as a girl on boys and girls, but who can tell the difference? black scream o’ rock band tees from an emo’s paradise dream named hot topic that screams with emo glee— how neat, huh? emo emo emo what the hell is an emo? I’m a person just like you, and I who bleeds 6 times a week and guess why? people just like you and I are weak and small deep down inside and need to be big and buff and so mighty tuff so they pick and poke at us weaker ones covered in black from our head, to our toes trying not to glow or even show but who would have known we shown for all we could have known was that we, we’re dead and rotten to the bone for centuries, yes, we are seen, but please just let us be but no, you have to be the buff ruff and mighty tuff stuff


oh please, can’t you see the scars that read—please kill me running so happily up and down my wrist taking a sip of funniness I come home to loving parents but is looked down by shame in silence oh, the rain it rains on me as hard as stone but as deadly as it told Oh, it is such a thrill— rehab always gives me chills Oh, please don’t steal the little happiness I have to steal out of my heart that never seems to heal I’ve been dealing with depression since age 3, going on to age 16 I think it’s been so long I belong with music, and music belongs with me so, please, music, will you marry me? no one wants me, but you make me so damn happy and gay damn emos are so strange little Satanists who said that? who is there to blame? sometimes they’re true while I walk with the raw squad crew some laughing and pointing, calling names but what is there to lose? people rule and emos drool wait, aren’t we people, too? who said you can choose? we bleed, we breathe, we cry,


we speak, we weep, we feel just like you we are just like you and you’re just like me but yet we’re seen so differently.


Coffee Shop Amador E. I walk down the morning street as druggies greet me for some pocket money. I can only give a few blessings—“God please save them.” I see a coffee shop smiling so steadily while...* I walk right up to the coffee shop, a blind man opens the door to greet me, “Good morning! help the people in need, not me my time is almost up pray for me brother and I’ll pray for you.” Pretty people surround me, wearing doll-like masks, laughing, but one— a thin twig-like woman drinking a cup of her own tears of self pain and pity. The food to her is poison—a single nibble or bite will kill her she thinks and believes with a hatred passion. I order a cup of coffee, read the black and white paper to find twenty-one people dead by hungry bullets for blood—shot by satan’s sorry victims lost in a lake of fire forever. It doesn’t really surprise me. I sometimes wonder who’s next on death’s list— the man next to me? or me?


I look over the paper A young man my age looks down and just hates me. He wishes he could be out with the true man he loves, instead he sits and hates in an endless rage of bitter silences. A wife next to me calls her husband—drunk off of mistrust and superstition— he cheated more than sixty times being so called “married” to her, but her being desperate ran back to him more than one hundred and seventy-five. I drink the bitter coffee down walking down a brokeless, starless night street to wake up to a poor druggie a married father picking up a sad lonely hooker a blind man who cares more for other than himself pretty ugly insincere people surrounding me laughing trying to fight their demons murder of the innocents by the wicked twisted minded who got nothing to lose but everything people drinking in hate because they have issues people look down with shame never looking at their pain inside wives with their brains replaced with their hearts as I try to fake another smile.

*Edited version


The Angel Blues Angel M. While I was gone, I missed the holidays. We always used to say—smile now, cry later. Don’t you remember when we got high for the first time? Now, all I’ve got left is myself. While I was gone, I missed my family’s birthday. Now that I’m back, I’m making changes, and I’m staying. Don’t you remember all those times when we were little and bad? What’s left is just us against the world. I know I’ve been gone, but I’m here to make a change for the better. And I still remember when I used to cry because I was alone. Do they still call you by your name or nickname? Is there anything left of you that can be fixed? I’ve got the Krier Blues— All I can think about is my family. Can you help me remember the old me? Since you left, I’ve never been the same.


Old Love Angel M. When I looked into your eyes I saw our future together When I saw you were angry, I tried to be there To hold you, to love you, to cheer you up. Though you pushed me away and hit me with words I know, I think you didn’t mean I feel useless to you I see the hate in your eyes when you look at me The love between us has disappeared As though it never existed Okay sweetheart, I’m looking for my new love. Good bye, old love.

4 A.M.

From a line from a poem by Wislawa Szymborska Angel M. They say no one feels good at four in the morning. I feel good at four in the morning. I feel alive, I feel high Could be drugs, thoughts, feelings, my life I just love to stay up late. To you four a.m. may be early, To others, they don’t think anything—they’re asleep. But I’m still awake Not ready for the next day Just barely ‘bout to go to sleep At four a.m.


Motherly Love Angel M. Dear Mom, I loved you so much, but I’m tired of trying and caring to be in your life. I’ve never wanted to give up but you’ve made me want to. You choose him over your kids. You’ve left us in the streets for him. You choose water over blood and that water still didn’t love you. You even threw everything away for drugs, even though you let us do them with you. I just want my Mom back— the one that used to love me. I can’t seem to figure out why you left. I just can’t seem to bear the fact you’re gone. Please, help me before it’s too late to. I lose my mind, but I just want to say— is this your way of showing me love? So, goodbye Mom. Tell me when my real Mom comes back.


When people change on me Breajon D. When people change on me, that’s one thing I don’t like. I’m looking for the money. I’m try’nna keep on the lights, tired of keepin’ struggles and hustles, very long nights. I’m living wrong so I guess that’s why my life ain’t going right. I been try’nna change my ways. The lord is my witness, but I been falling short. Feels like the devil out to get me. I’m so hard headed sometimes I don’t like to listen— Same thing with my big brother, now he locked up in a prison.


I am Thankful Breajon D. I am thankful for my mom for bringing food to the table. I am thankful for her doing the things I wasn’t able. I am thankful for my little brother, and my big brother, too— he’s the one who showed me the way my first day of school. I am thankful for family— without family, I’d be lost. I am thankful for the truth. With no truth it’s all false. I am thankful for air, the reason I breathe. I am thankful for my vision, the reason I see.

Life Too Short Breajon D. Life too short to be living life in the fast lane. Know some people sitting in prison from the cash game. Keep it a hundred so they can’t give me a bad name. Follow my conscience, So I don’t run into bad things.


Yeah, I heard about the rose Brittney G. Yeah, I heard about the rose that grew outta concrete—sounds something like a blessing. It charges it to the game when people come testing the rose, ain’t tripping, never stressing. When no one cared it slowly rose from the crack. Started walking without legs. It never looked back. People walking past like it wasn’t there, & now they don’t walk past, they stop & stare now they care, but the rose is stingy— it don’t want to share.

Where Hatred Comes From

From painting by Vincent Valdez

Brittney G. Hatred comes from jealousy. Jealousy comes from Wanting. Want leads to desire. Desire leads to jealousy and jealousy leads to hatred. This hatred will never go anywhere. It may feel as if it is, but will always creep back on you. It’s a problem that will never be solved, a cycle that will always repeat itself. Hatred, jealousy want, desire, desire, want, jealousy, hatred.


Grew Up Brittney G. Grew up with my pops abusing my momma. These people don’t know what’s wrong. They say that’s part of some trauma. Moms dipped to Texas boy. I tell you, all this ‘bout hot as a sauna. Been out here ever since. Been in these streets since I was 13—done sold everything – drug from weed to cream. Used to smoke loud like it wasn’t a thing. But now I’m doing 6 to 9 months, ain’t no more doing 2 weeks.


Forgot How They Taste! Jose H. Turkey gravy on my mashed potatoes giving them flavor making them very enjoyable to eat. Here I look at the mashed potatoes and think of the Thanksgivings I’ve had with my family I pick up the spoon and try to enjoy the mashed potatoes here but something is missing so I think to myself is it my family? is it salt? is it my mother’s love? went home and I ate mashed potatoes at home it seems that I’m missing something what is it? I don’t know I think I forgot how the mashed potatoes I used to always think about and crave I forgot how they taste.


Seven Little Geese

From a postcard prompt

Jose H. seven little geese roaming down these street one step, two step headin’ up the bridge where are we at? we’re in Brooklyn. got hit by a car, oops, not again.


Long Way Gone Jose H. I came a long way just to hit these steel gates. The DA & the judge—they sent me far away. I think back and I wonder where else I could have been. But now, I’m here at Krier, trynna get my mind right 9 to 12 months how long I can be here. The fighting and the Code Green Push me so far back 50 points lost every Monday. Then one day I finally snapped— and told myself I need to change now. I came a long way to throw this all away— Jose, wake up—you came a long way.


Tick Tock Joseph M. tick tock the clock goes time flies like water flows not all rap is about cars, clothes, and …. I’ve been into music since I was 13 and I just figured out how rap unfolds— It’s all about reality rap, and what music shows. I really don’t care about nothing. I don’t care about this place. All I care about is money, and rubbing it in my face. It’s sad, but that’s the truth— I’ve been chasing commas all through my youth. Now I’m stuck behind a door waitin’ for the snacks to come through. on the cool You said, you would write up in a cell reminiscing all night Wake up at six for hygiene. Then at 7 we go to eat. All I’m rockin’ now is a wrinkled white tee, no more foreign no more bling the only bling I got is on my feet and that is shackles when they transport me gotta keep my khakis creased and my shoes clean. Don’t care what others think but I’m not messy. I asked for writing paper and they gave me T.P. I pray to the lord and hope he answers me I asked him a big favor that’s to be free cuz right now everywhere I go there’s a guard behind me.


I am here or am I there? Joseph M. I am here or am I there, does it even matter? Behind a door or in the free— the world still turns and people do the same stuff. You have to realize at some times you have to be selfish if you’re really hungry for success cuz in the long run who’s gonna be there… you and only you can make the difference It’s like driving a car who turns it on? you who’s at the wheel? you you make every turn—just make sure it’s the right one. We live in a never ending loop hole of negativity— even if we stay positive we get dragged down by this sorry community Oh well, it is what it is— that’s why you gotta work hard and just deal with it.


Life is Short Joseph M. life is short, but I am young these rhymes flow off my tongue I’ve made some choices that are kinda dumb but in the end you see what comes— I’m posted up in Kingdom come. If I sin, then what will be done because I sin a lot for fun for doesn’t mean I’m finna run. I sin because the money comes— Every sin is kinda dumb but like I said, I’m kinda young.


Watch What You See Joseph M. watch what you see speak what you do this world is corrupt and you might be too it might be too late like, what can you do? they want us to be perfect, but what’s perfect to you? low minimum wage how can we get through they want us to struggle and be happy too? like, how can it be—is that really true? keep secrets from us, but that’s not really new. everything bad that happened they already knew oh well, at least I’m livin’ and keepin’ it cool I could just turn up and act like a fool.


I Got Two Brothers Joseph M. I got two brothers, one in the same position. He’s older and wiser— tricks like a magician. He said, “keep my eyes peeled,” Like I’ve got a vision. He said, “know your objective, because you’re on a mission.” I used to be all about the drugs, ‘til my PO watched me pissing. Now my mind is on God— I think I’ve found what I’m missing. I hope nothing stops on my path— I don’t need another collision. I’ve done so much bad, now I really just need to do so much good. All this time I’ve been bad, but maybe I was just misunderstood. No matter where you come from, no matter what hood— you can always turn around like a real man should. It’s just so sad it took me this long to realize that, just maybe, I could.


Gravy Dripping Kemar S. gravy dripping off my spoon, it feels like Thanksgiving mashed potatoes mashed together “help us!” they scream, as they are being devoured into my stomach “Thanks for your sacrifice and suffering” “No problem, a lot of my turkey homeboys go through the struggle every November— homies getting fried, homies getting stuffed— they rip our legs off, thinking they’re tough. R.I.P O.G. Turkey So Saucy

As__________As__________ Kemar S. as hot as an ocean, drip, splash, is the noise it makes, it’s hot as the sun hit his face, splashing, dashing restless sea. it’s not hot as it seems to be sometimes angry, sometimes glad but the others don’t know your sand tectonic plates shift it’s hot water, water, water, ocean.


The Rose

After Tupac Shakur

Rodrigo R. I heard about the rose, as a matter of fact I am the rose— proving governments’ laws wrong. They say I’m a menace, that all I know is thugging— but I make straight A’s and read at a college reading level. Took me out the game, put me on the side line but now I see who really kept it G when no one else ever cared about me.

My Beautiful Wife Rodrigo R. Your image keeps on playing in my head like a song. I know I did wrong, but I Also did right. I had to fight through those nights when I wasn’t with you. FYI I still miss you complicated dislocated is my heart yes, I know, but you still took it back why is that, though? I don’t know but I just wanna say thank you for giving me life—I’m sorry you had to be the one to pay the price my beautiful wife.


Scared to Fall in Love Again Rodrigo R. Every time I hear your name is like I can’t breathe. Hard to believe. What we been through. You were the only one when I was down that could help me pull through. Late night arguments turn into connection and love, oh my God, I think I’m in love, but that love can disappear in the blink of an eye. I guess I’m just a sucker for love, but I will never change on my thugs to be honest with my heart. I’m scared to fall in love again.

I Am Rodrigo R. I am from the ghetto where people are afraid to walk alone at night. I am from the hood where thugging is misunderstood. I am from a poor family, but yet we’re still family. I am from a 2 bedroom house, but it’s home. I am from the streets, but I do not stand alone. This is my temple so I will keep moving on.


I Am From Sarai R. I am from here. Here is wherever we are from. I am from the multicultural neighborhood. I am from the cooking of my mom’s Puerto Rican rice to my dad’s Popeye’s Chicken. I am from everywhere and no where at all. I am from my dad’s love of hip-hop and R&B from my mom’s love of country. I am from my dad’s rap songs and I am from my mom’s velvety voice as she sang to me during a thunderstorm. I am from WiFi and shopping and ballet recitals. I am from betrayal to hurt to no more role models.


Yes, I’m Afraid Sarai R. Yes, I’m afraid to get hit by a man. Yes, I’m scared of 18 wheelers and pains. I’m highly afraid of bugs and you won’t catch me at the zoo. Don’t you dare laugh, because who are you? I don’t like walking by people and they laugh. I get so defensive, like stupid, fast. I can yell, but I can also scream. I can slip out of cuffs, if you know what I mean. I can cook if it involves the microwave— spicy chicken ramen noodles can come my way. I’ve seen people who are no one to judge my looks. I see you in the free wearin’ them crocs— like, ugh!


Anger Sarai R. In all my anger there is silence, temptation is fed to me like bread the color of my anger is not red, and I have to pick a time to cleanse myself of this hatred. my venting is like soap, and I have as much time to let them hear how I feel as the sand in the hourglass allows. I take a deep breath, relax my fingers and give it all I’ve got I’ve got as much grace as a sailor, but I say it with pride.


School Rock Fantasy Shawn R. The buzzing of the static interrupted by the quaint click of the wire connection as they all turn their heads unanimously only to be struck by hyperventilation. Skin feels like goose-bumped hyper-polarity when the guitar, bass, and drums roar simulteaneously. I strike each string, press every fret with deadly precision— the crowd rumbling in excitement rushes out of division. Upon completing the riff comes the pulsing eye of chaos the split second of electricity blown through a bullet-proof silence. I explode the chords as a vivid verse begins— this, along with vast rings of rage partakers provides a sixth sense pencils, papers, notebooks, all go airborne over the school fence.


Leave Me Shawn R. The problems, they come and pass. My happiness—it’ll never last.

Just leave me be for the rest of the week.

This world full of complication Try to burn away my frustration Just leave me be for the rest of the week. Just leave me be, just leave me be, Just leave me be for the rest of the week. I cannot foresee why the world has forsaken me. It’s the little simple things that make me strange. It’s the little simple things that will never change. Just leave me be, just leave me weak.


Shot Through Shawn R. My heart has been shot through— your eyes, such a vivid, bright blue. They stayed with me that night and the next. That smile of yours could put me to rest. So strange and undefined— Your heart in my mind. Take me to a time where you could be mine. You’re so far, but held so close in my heart. You’re so beautiful and you have been from the start. Take the compliment and don’t deny. A girl like you should never lie. I can only reach you from the phone, but don’t you dare think you are alone. My heart has been shot through— your eyes such a vivid bright blue. I have no means of proof, but I think I’m in love with you. Don’t hold in the pain, you can tell me anything. Please, don’t cover your face in the pictures you take. A smile with those eyes, and everyone cries. My heart has been shot through at the mere sight of you!


Changed Shawn R. Things have really changed this past year. I walked around my neighborhood. In this moment I understood. Things have really changed, this past year. Changed Slowly things became more and more clear. Houses have been painted; owners come and go. Objects—replaced or dated, Many that I’ve known. The alley where we chilled the most is now weathered and overgrown. I hardly even recognized the stone— been here thousands of times mostly drunk or high I remembered the chopper looking for me When I didn’t come home. This was the place I’d always known.


I Am Waiting

Inspired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti Krier Group poem / October 13, 2016 I am waiting to see my family again, soon. I am waiting for the day to be over. I am waiting for my future to come. I’m waiting for my time to be done. And I’m still waiting. Patiently, I wait for my freedom. Day after day, I wait for my level. I am waiting for success. In the dark, I am waiting for the light. Hopelessly, I am waiting to be home again. I am still waiting. Along with everyone else, I am waiting for my time. We’re all waiting for excitement. I am waiting for something. Without giving up hope, I wait for me to go home to my family. Still, still, still waiting. Against all odds, I am waiting to drop my album, Empire in January, go get it on iTunes. Without a sound, I am waiting for Hope to Rejoy my life So I can be happy. I’m still waiting for yo girl to hit me up. You can keep on waiting. I sit at the doorway, and wait for you. Or is it me? I haven’t stopped waiting for who I am. And I am waiting for me to be with my family again.


And I, too, am waiting for my dad to hold me again. Tirelessly, I wait for the day I get out to be with my family. And I wait, I am waiting. Each day, I wake up and I wait for God to give me a sign. You know I’m waiting for money. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow I was waiting I am waiting and I will be waiting for the day I get out of this place. Wait.


Krier / Signs

From Carmen Tafolla’s “De Volada Insurance—Faster than a Flying Chancla” Group Poem 99 cent breakfast taco! Chevron Marbach Babcock Camelot 2 Datapoint Candlewood Independence Belltower Stop Deer on the Northside Walmart Ingram Culebra Meat Market The Burlington Coat Factory San Juan Gym W-E-Z Mart Southside McDonalds on W.W. Sunrise Park Goodwill


Can Poetry Save Us? Jim LaVilla-Havelin words thrown against the walls and wires what else to do? change in the world is about being and believing it starts in words when words work when they are given the weight and will they have when they are not turned as tools or toys to mesmerize when words crack concrete grow through it, rise risen, rose into light we know and pass it on


We Traded in Our Tears Andrea Vocab Sanderson We traded in our tears for scowls and disbelief. We shook shoulders and our grief. With clenched jaws and fists we pounded the air imagining the ignorance of an unseen foe. We let the steam blow off like octopus tentacles inky anger. We anchored ourselves to the grievous moments. Being poets, we took to the paper to purge our passionate indignation. Knowing we could never vaporize the injustice, but maybe for a moment just quail our frustrations with a litany words streamed. Somehow the intensity of the moment seemed to string us to our emotions and tie us to the memories that unleashed our angst. Just days earlier we were working through our walls and demons, thanking our ancestors for their strength and creed. Today, we are holding bloodied cries in our itching palms waiting for the tides to recede, but the water rages on.


Visitation Octavio Quintanilla He’s five, I kiss him on the lips. Learn to do this, I tell myself, and he’ll always love you. Who can guarantee? How can I tell him, so young, recklessness has been the animal I fed with my own body? I could lick sunlight off my wrists, like sand, and still, I won’t know how to tell this boy how he got here. There I am, in his iris, waving back at myself, till now all I’d ever wanted to be trying to crawl out. This time, we drive so we can talk about what he deems forgivable. If I could only pocket what he says: each word


a smooth stone, to remind him, years from now, when I throw them against a window pane, that he’s always been the past catching up to me, and I’ve never had anywhere else to go, but here.



About the Writer in Residence Poet, editor and educator Jim LaVilla-Havelin is the Coordinator for National Poetry Month San Antonio and Poetry Editor for the San Antonio Express-News. LaVilla-Havelin’s fifth book of poetry, WEST, will be published by Wings Press in 2017.


Gemini Ink helps people create and share the human story We offer three semesters of fee-based CREATIVE WRITING CLASSES and reading groups, and also many free literary events, all led by professional writers, scholars, and interdisciplinary artists.

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.

AUTOGRAPH SERIES presents writers of national and international stature— many of them recipients of major prizes such as the Pulitzer or National Book Award—in free public performances. Contributions and donations of time and resources are gratefully accepted. For more information about Gemini Ink, visit or call 210.734.9673.

geMInI Ink 1111 navarro st san antonIo, teXas 78205

Let Me Tell You  

Youth poetry from Cyndi Krier Juvenile Correctional Treatment Center in San Antonio, Texas.

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