Humble Pie Vol 17

Page 1


© CCA 2020 California College of the Arts 1111 Eighth Street San Francisco, CA 94107

















Humble Pie is California College of the Arts’ annual undergraduate literary arts journal, made for and by students. We feature works in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and visual art by writers and artists within the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. This Volume was designed by Aashi Jhaveri. The cover art was designed by Eunha Kim. Thank you for reading and enjoy Humble Pie Volume 17.

Special thanks to the Fall 2019 Humble Pie staff: Zachary F R Anderson, Gustin Araujo, Romi Bales, Cara Ballejos, Leandro Barriga, Xavier Daniel, Esther Elia, Andie Gener, Journey Giulietti, Ella Hormel, Koko Le, William Tolentino, Ian Wheelock, Kat Zhembrovska, and Caroline Goodwin. Event poster designed by Ian Wheelock.

A note from the editorial board of Volume 17: As CCA moves towards campus consolidation, we feel a collective sense of loss and sorrow. This spring, we wanted to pay homage to the Oakland campus and its foliage. How many of us have walked under the leafy boughs, contemplating art and our human existence? How often have we breathed the green air with its fragrant aroma? Please find, within these pages, visual art by Professor Carol Manahan’s Fall 2019 Plant Matters class as a celebration of that historic place.

Untitled Jiangyue Li Mixed media



15 16 17 18 19 21 22 24 25 26 29 31 34

SEPTEMBER Bella Maria UNTITLED Carly Murakami TAGONG-BAYAWAK Ivy Alvarez TABLÁ ANG MUKHÂ Ivy Alvarez LÓT BÓ DLO Kakou Twa Roz HOME GROWN John Rosalia EL Kumari Pacheco LOOKING UP REDWOOD Annaleah Gregoire OROVILLE John Young TO LOST BOYS AND LOST GIRLS R Thorpe-Murray BIRACIAL Queen Esther GHETTO BIRDS Gustin Araujo INISHBOFIN Ralph J. Long Jr.

FUSION Yuling Zhang (Scarlett)


ROAD TRIP Carlos Quinteros III

39 41 42 44 48 52 55





59 60 61 63 65 66 68 75 77




the continuous beeping a tranquil sunny day a forecast of decay next to you were the Violets slowly dying melting italian ice the spoon drops lips are still wet next to me everyone huddled around you crying years have passed somedays I still smell Violets rotting somedays I feel your presence missing somedays I hear Nona call for you empty the memory of you fading just like those dead Violets still sitting on my desk 15

Carly Murakami

Bella Maria

4”x8”, Pen & pencil, December 2019



Tablá ang mukhâ

Ivy Alvarez

Ivy Alvarez

I blend in when need be

Every month takes another kilo from me. I am airier than I’ve

needs must as the devil requires

ever been, could float away if I wished, all the way like thistledown to my lover, who might be waiting for me. My

o I should not invoke

weight is a mystery, how does one lose it, accumulate it, you

that which I cannot control

take it with you wherever you go. Where will I go now? I gather time by the month, like a host of daffodils that rots

there are words now forbidden

glutinous in a vase. In the bus, all the uniformed girls heat up

for fear of what they evoke

the air with their canine smell, groomed and polished and a little out of breath. They go at their pace and I envy

we spoke of a time when we’d grow

their energy and shine, how their coats gleam. I lose


another kilo in tears, and I chalk it up to fear of loving


and needing but still I need desire love fills winter fox with winter vixen

me up and I am a weight on this earth. Carry me.

February in the north the rocking chairs are empty

Filipino idiom meaning shameless (literally, face is a board)

we have vanished from the story our footprints diverge I cannot see your path from here your eyes

when you close them

you go

Filipino idiom meaning hiding with the head seen (literally, lizard hide)



Lòt bò dlo Kakou Twa Roz

When I was about nine or ten

you’ll feel no blow.”

I’d run around barefoot feeling the dirt between my toes

But I’d blow her off

no care in the world

And with no shoes on

free as a bird

I’d just run off

Nana, our housemaid

Little did she know

would come out, upset

That she was wrong, but also right

A believer in Ayitian folklore

As I live in foreign lands

old wives tales guided her bet

And in foreign tongues write Foreign medicine in my womb

She’d say, “antre nan kay la, put on your

Helps keep my future bright

shoes, run around barefoot and you’ll pay your

While little girls back home


With no sanitation or medicine

your cramps will be worse

Suffer that wretched fate

and you won’t be immune

Where folklore and old wives tales

when you get your period soon.”

Their health dictate

“You’ll bend over in pain you’ll vomit out your brain you’ll wish to god it never came.” Then she’d give me a look And say, “maybe by then You’d be lòt bò dlo And with modern medicine 19


EL Kumari Pacheco

This is my apology. This is me, self-forsaken. Trembling lips, dry as kindling; my mouth pants like a scorched pit. Todo me da pena. My words are soot streaks. He smelled of both in the days I smelled Him; when we’d dance to “El Mariachi Loco.” In His arms, I’d kick up my toes. His eyes like the insides of oysters. The blue parts were cataracts developing. Ay, Abuelito Luis!

Home Grown

Chattering like so many birds. I was seated

John Rosalia

like those shoulders of His, soft bone.

on the hip of my mother-tongue: a swell

Mixed media

Smoke and flames: His orchard’s lifeblood. In the pit, rotten branches bristled with fire; we children chased the dogs that chased the tusas into their holes. La Familia Magaña. He had eight children who had children who had us. The orchard shrunk with each passing year. And His mind hissed out softly. Sharp wit 22

swapped seats with tongue. ¿Qué, estoy hablando japonés? Spanish further thickened in my mouth. Or else melted in my cheek like a candy, ghostly; a pinprick of sugar. Now, my shying aways almost sear me. Le temía. This maddening migration; this parched hearth. My teeth sing with a thousand lost words. If this is not my eulogy, If this is not me, self-forgiven, Please. Allow a memory to light me.

Looking Up Redwood Annaleah Gregoire 10x10in, Oil paint and pumice gel, November 2019




To Lost Boys and Girls

John Young

R Thorpe-Murray

Running through the yellow grass,

To lost boys and girls

heat-hard mud sears my soles I hit the water like a failed skipping stone,

The black matte turtle shell helmets

spinning once, then sinking slowly,

War long gone scars

drifting towards the mossy floor, wrapped in a cocoon of bubbles

What did you do wrong to be involved? Such a mess of glued

all sounds muted to distant echoes.


Touching bottom, toes lost in velvet green,

To be involved in so many deaths?

I open my eyes to swirling currents and

To get lost in the melee of what it means to unbecome yourself?

glimpse your face, shy smile hidden in the refractions

You are a child of God-lost-soul

and I wonder where you are today what cocoon wraps around your body,

And you will never be able to come back from this

what sounds fill your ears, how the light twists for you,

I wish I could give you a hug

what happens when you die?

-Tell you a secret The devil wants you dead and lost… With your soul so it can keep it Dear lost boys Skipping swim trunk sunburnt sidewalk days You used to be innocent Were told to be good parents And can see their still That devil Government Un-cares acres of fill 25


Deducting bullets and metal parts

Dates loved ones

For parts lost And making metal money

Pretending it is a fallacy of syndrome

For less medal profits’ cost

The soul money falls from The still wheel of idiom

How many arm raisings and lowers must we attend? How many veiled hidden gun salute skin cap ceremonies must we

What did you do wrong, to be involved in such a mess of glued


bodies? So many deaths.

Dear lost girls

To get lost in the melee of what it means to unbecome yourself?

It is not your fault You curled your hair at the dance

Control watch

Were told to be good parents


Put on your most fun shoes

Not fleeing fashion into fashions un-fled

To fit the club

Your parents’ sewn initials of their great grandparents’ silk sewn namesake handkerchief

But money countries meat in greedy cannibal board rooms

picture frame

Meet claws the red inbred blood shot dilation pupils


Eugenic monopoly games’ seizing countries’ world leader

is enough You are a child of God-lost-soul

Have you watched the news?

You Deserve more

Then why feed her?

It’s not your fault You are enough

My family

I hope you can come back from this…

My brothers and sisters you

It’s not your fault


You are enough 27


Biracial Queen Esther 18”x22”x1”, Acrylic on backgammon board, Fall 2019

Ghetto Birds Gustin Araujo

Asked mommy

Ghetto Birds watch

Why they do that?

As I wake

She don’t speak

Scoop me up

Remembers badge

Soil clean slates

Protect and serve He wonders

So I pray

What that means?

Pray the lord my mass to save

Ghetto world needs protection and servitude

Pupa Living in a ghetto world

I’m sure they protect and serve

Hawked by Ghetto birds

But who

Waiting Anticipating

He wakes up

Shoot a black man

Thirteen years old

Leave him on the curb

Heard banging on the door Takes a peek



Ghetto Birds hunting ground

Badge, gold

Sending scouts

Protect and serve

To raid To thrash pupa’s nest

What the fuck

Watches them tear down the doors and walls Justified because a neighbor called


Ghetto birds at the window Scouts at door 32

Inishbofin Ralph J. Long Jr. Mommy comes

My grandmother came from before. Before cars and

Opens up nest

planes, before telephones and electricity when peat

To the calamity

and candles marked time with sun and tide. When

That’s in ghetto world

myth and history were unseparated. Bound to Bofin with a gossamer web of tales. Ancient, modern, true

Like flash

at first telling and suspect at the next, each story about

Heard the words

home. Sea, rock, mist, currachs, selkies, priests spooled

Pop a cap in his ass

out through the decades in Brooklyn flats where steam

He remembers the badge

pipes rattled in a Greek chorus to echo her brogue. Island cousins of varying degrees came for Sunday tea weaving more into the lore of this never seen place.

To guard and succor?

For children bored by catechism, there was magic in They hold cookouts

fairies and sprites speaking to the living. She’s thirty

with burgers and dogs

years dead. My memory of all this is fading. I long

Served with gloves to safeguard

to know what of her remains there. I’m torn by fears

Ghetto birds defend from inside walls

that the ferry crossing will erase the childhood wonders

“To serve New York”

of the white cow, the martyred monks and hoary spirits

Protect its youth

by turn good and evil. I can see St. Colman’s, Day’s and Cromwell’s Barracks as if I had walked the island

I realized

a thousand times, yet, think that there will only be a

Obscure New York from of Ghetto World

melancholy chill if I hike the fog shrouded shore.

Assist the murders committed by ghetto birds

I want what cannot be. To have sepia photos come alive; to walk the floors of her father’s house; to breathe in

Save New York from Ghetto world

stove smoke and learn of her before America, husband

Feed its youth to the dirt

and family. I know the pub holds stories but with two pints my limit, there is no will to see an evening through for what may not come. She would object to a whisky at sunset, but the defiance might conjure her shade to share truth. 33



Road Trip Carlos Quinteros III

Driving through tunnels Holding your breath ‘Til the end A wish worth blue lips

FUSION Yuling Zhang (Scarlett) Bio Art



Anthro-gramming after Pieter Bruegel’s The Hunters in the Snow Aldona Dziedziejko Mornings here are always marked by the glowing flesh

Skidoos roar and slide on their thin tarsal feet

in the space where the clouds split.

over slabs of lake-

Tomorrows hover in the pale green skies, ice,

one creature’s shell is another’s exoskeleton

and the ups and downs of cello strings. Crows, Ravens, Rooks gently fill out the traceries of black branches like Gothic cathedrals, rayonnant in their sweep. Snow-capped sandy boulders look like hay bales. I forget where I am having traveled from the coast where the livid surf is feral to the harsh, flat inland - then up North, harsher still, as if guided by some dark, hungry compass. Mornings are always marked by the thuds in the shacks where birch logs split. Readying for tomorrow’s cold, men throw firewood into their flatbeds with rhythmic, steely claps. Hutches slam, ignitions detonate and tires throb on icy roads a trucking motion girded with Airtex panels.



Tenderness Under the Full Moon Salem Condello

the big “bad” wolf is a kind man. no one believes it. not when he gently holds Red’s delicate hand not when she caresses his scarred face and tucks a lock of his hair behind his ear. he is tender and no one believes it. she-devil, they call him. witch wicked monster abomination brute sunshine, Red calls him. sugar honey love sweetheart darling

Plant Personas Marjorie Abrigo

one night when the Hunter calls him ‘woman’

5”x7”, Digital, December 2019

he flashes a wolfish grin and tears him apart.



Boxing Practice AloraLee Gates

She walked into the empty gym smelling of mint and whiskey.

Red takes her cloak and wipes the blood

A tall man greeted her by the door with a long whistle and playful hiss.

off his chin.

“Long night?” he is a man and She groaned in response and pushed past him to make her way to her

no one believes it.

favorite punching bag. He stepped to the side and fell behind her like he always did on these slow mornings. She lead the way towards the back of the gym, far from the morning light that peaked in the windows. As he followed behind her the sharp scent of her sweat hit his nose. “Couldn’t even bother to clean up for me. Actually, I did hear that bedhead and smudged makeup was in style this season,” he teased and gestured to her hair. “But hey, at least you brushed your teeth.” She flipped him the bird without turning around. He hummed. “I do love our chats.” The two stood together in a far back corner of a dark room The tall man was slouched in a weak embrace with a punching bag, as the small woman jabbed her fists into the cushion. She grunted with each swing, shoulders flexing and sweaty wisps of hair flinging droplets of sweat onto the floor and her wrapped hands. Her 43


clothes were shaggy, workout attire stretched with years of aggressive

tone dropped and dragged with a cheeky smirk.

use and faded into a washed grey.

“Don’t want to lose my title of ‘Heartbreaker’.”

The man steadied the bag, barely absorbing the woman’s tiny rage in his

The woman scoffed as she rolled her eyes in his direction. “You think I

shoulders. He slowly blinked at her then paused, sighing when she didn’t

can’t break a few hearts? Look at these guns.” The baggy sleeves of her

look back to him.

shirt slipped down to her shoulders as her arms flexed in strong angles. She gave him a smirk of her own.

He settled for releasing the bag and reclined against its side as she continued her assault without him. “You’re really tearing up the punching

“That’s not all you’ve been breaking,” he chuckled.

bag.” Her smile dropped. “I hope you’re not here to nag me more.” “Just working up a good sweat.” She sharply exhaled with two jabs in tandem. “Is it bad to keep my body in fit condition?”

“No, just here to be your spotter.”

He laughed as if she told a joke. “I wouldn’t call regular binge drinking

“It was just my bathroom mirror.”

keeping your body in fit condition.” “What did the mirror do to deserve your fist?” “Shut up, smartass.” She sent a stronger punch into the bag. “I fell into it. Jesus. Mind your own business. Wasn’t like I broke something He shrugged as he backed away from the bag, a careless swing in his

of yours anyway.”

arms and focused side-eye on her. “Anyway, I didn’t say working out was bad.”

He sighed and batted his lashes at her. “No, the only thing you’ve broken

“You work out just as much as me,” she said with another punch, “even

of mine is my heart,” he said sarcastically.

more so.” There was another combo of fists, fast and sloppy. “I’m about to break your face with my fist if you don’t keep this bag The man rested his weight to one side, hands slipping into the pockets of

steady.” She bounced into her stance, her arms shielding her face and

his sweatpants. “True, but I need to keep conditioned for the ladies,” his

eyes hardened on her target.



The Smell of Roses AloraLee Gates

“Aggressive,” he drawled out and resumed his position of holding the bag.

Sara glared at Tom across the conference table during the weekly work meeting.

The punching continued, muffled fists and grunts the only sound echoing Tom had joined the company one week ago and Sara couldn’t ignore the

in the room.

warning signs flashing in her mind. “Talking with your fists must get tiring,” the man eventually said. “How His charm and confidence were refreshing at first, but they melted into

about a water break?”

deceit and arrogance when he was tasked with actual work that didn’t Another hit, strong enough to knock the man’s shoulders back.

involve flirting with his coworkers.

He feigned a groan with a roll of his shoulder. “No? How about a stretching

He was a slimy man with too much gel in his hair, oily skin, and a habit of

break?” He passed her a coy smile over the edge of the bag.

slipping away from blame when a project went wrong.

Her fists hurried into another storm, scattered and sharp and all aimed at

As Sara watched him during the meeting, she couldn’t help but remember

tender vitals. She grunted with a heavy release, lips fluttering against the

a moment from her childhood.

hiss of her breath, sweat beading at the tip of her chin threatening to fall. The redness of her face deepened as her pace increased.

When Sara was eight years old she was sprayed by a skunk. She was so ripe, the smell didn’t dissipate for at least two weeks and she was forced

“Hey, take a breath alright,” he cautioned.

to go mingle at school with teasing and nicknames like ‘skunk butt’ and ‘the stink patrol’.

“Just hold the damn bag!” Leave it to children with their sharp simplicity to dig into one’s esteem. The man stilled against her stare, relaxed and calm with steady hard

Like gritty pebbles rubbed into a bloody knee, the scar lingers.

eyes under heavy lids. He stepped towards the bag and wrapped his arm around as if to comfort it from her beating.

Being bullied wasn’t so bad, Sara had the tongue of a rattlesnake’s tail to warn anyone bold enough to test her. But those nicknames were a friendly reminder of her mistake when someone wanted to get a stab in.



A knife right in the foot.

the spot. He froze and stared at the gnarly rose bushes along the fence.

She had been walking her dog one night after having convinced her

Sara scrunched her brows together and cocked her head to the side.

parents she was old enough to venture outside by herself. It was only the

“What are you doing, boy?” She gently yanked the leash.

backyard after all. The dog tottered to the side with the force of Sara’s pull but refused to The air was crisp like fresh apple cider. It was early autumn and the night

take his eyes away from the bush.

smelled of the clear rainfall that happened only an hour earlier. Stars pinpricked the sky just like the freckles along Sara’s cheeks and dimly

Sara rolled her eyes and slouched into a heavy sigh. “Come on,” she flung

illuminated the dewy grass of the lawn.

the leash up and down.

There was a tall wooden picket fence that wrapped around the backyard,

Just as she was about to grab the dog’s collar, a timid rustle of roses

a barrier Sara trusted to keep all forms of danger out. It was lined with her

caught her attention. Her eyes snapped up to see a fluffy black and white

father’s roses that he failed to upkeep. Wild roses curling up the fence,

cat emerge from the thorns.

tempting with their danger. “Look! It’s just the neighbor’s cat again,” she scoffed and sauntered over Sara remembered feeling safe that night. She lived in a comfortable part

to the cat. With her head turned back to her dog she missed the arch of

of town, friendly neighbors, quiet nights, and that fence.

the fluffy tail angled her way.

Naive confidence pushed Sara’s chest out as she flung open the back

A sharp hiss shocked her back around where she was met with a burning

screen door with a bang. She clipped a leash onto her dog’s collar and

mist that soaked her from the chest down.

scurried across the porch towards the stairs. With an old knit leash in hand, she tugged the family’s small dog down the porch steps and

She shrieked as her arms swung up to protect her face and fumbled back-

skipped through the backyard.

ward when the smell assaulted her. The dog yapped between his growls, dancing in and out of lunges as the assailant scurried away under another

Her dog sniffed quietly, stepping as his nose wiggled through a sudden

rose bush.

snort. His ears perked, head twitched and tiny paws rooted themselves on 49


Two Skinny Knees Marcello Cologna Jaramillo

The rest was a blur muddied by tears and the odor that stung Sara’s eyes.

I remember sitting in parking lots with our too skinny knees knocking against each other.

Her father had run out of the house but hesitated when covering his nose before scooping her up, stripping her clothes, and passing her off to her

I remember spending 10 dollars on kazoos and sticky hands, chasing

mother for a bath.

down our urges as we ran red lights and loitered in Mexican food restaurants. Neon signs burning my eyes.

It was a mark that wasn’t easily washed away. I remember being told that you were a bad influence, how you were Sara brought herself back to the present with a subtle shake of her head.

always talking shit about all the friends you had, how they all sucked and

The memory left a sour taste in her mouth as she watched the man across

found a way to betray you.

from her, shoulders back and hands tucked behind him with an elegance only reserved for fancy dinner parties with butlers.

I remember swallowing my words, so sharp they felt like diamonds or broken glass,

His walk swayed too comfortably for her liking after everything she


learned about him.

when will it be me? when will it be me?

She trusted him in the beginning, even felt that a small part of him cared

when will it be me?

for her, and that had been the monkey wrench. Turning back to her family dog instead of looking ahead, assuming safety when it wasn’t guaranteed.

I remember sitting in my closet, leg cramped as you gave me a stick and poke,

He wasn’t a friend.

I remember getting caught with a tattoo gun to your thigh.

There was a skunk in the rose bushes.

I remember our knuckles being bloody and bruised, as I watched you break your hand for the 6th time. I remember just the two of us getting shit-faced in my room in the middle of the day, and you wanting pancakes. You asked if I got sober and I lied



and said yes so we could go for a drive.

some terrible picture book of a dying friend.

I remember how we didn’t drink like it was water or air,

I remember waking up to a call of you being in the hospital.

we drank like it was the antidote for the poison we inherited from our

I remember feeling nothing,

parents who didn’t breathe life into us, but screamed it. I remember being just as bad as you, scaring myself and taking pills that made me wake up the next day in a sweat with a headache that felt as if my brain was trying to kill all my bad ideas. I remember us getting high and not even liking the way it felt, but we did it anyway because that’s what you do when you are unhappy- you make yourself worse. I remember you being homeless, as you slept every night away from a home that still existed but decided it didn’t have room for you anymore. I remember how suddenly only sad songs could remind me of you. I remember trying to get clean, having my body shake and hands grow cold as you continued to take pills while sitting next to me. I would smell the smoke on you, breathing so deep I’d hyperventilate. I was getting better as you got worse, so I fell down the grave you dug yourself so you wouldn’t be so alone. I remember your ribs starting to show so much I could count them all, like 53


Journée Internationale de la Bisexualité Lee Rossi It’s our 20th wedding anniversary

and loving. Young couples (of Gallic heritage)

but also International Bisexuality Day.

push perambulators past the Pompidou

What a lovely coincidence!

and play with their toddlers on the grimy flags,

People flagrantly smooching

beneficiaries of the government’s largesse

on the streets of Paris and the two of us

and fear of Algerians—who also happen to be

walking hand in hand past gay Parisian

French citizens—juicing procreation

stores, one that calls itself “i do MARIAGE”

as if it were jihad. It’s all a bit confusing

and another named ‘small,’ a smartcar

to those of us, visitors from Puritania,

parked in front. We spend all day

for whom a plein air peck is an act of daring,

examining the latest bras and heels,

and save the French stuff for behind closed doors.

the newest tourists and tourist traps. And what about the Lego hooker (in primary colors) pasted high on a wall, her pixellated contours the latest in pubic art? Hemingway called Paris a Moveable Feast, but feast feels too sedate for this orgy, this bachanal of looking




Marriage Lesson: Napa River

Sense Memory

Iris Jamahl Dunkle

Amy Bobeda

Moon, a thin slice of itself, sickle curved

do the clouds part for loneliness?

in the bosom of the darkened mountains.

cresting. the sun cradles the moon at sunrise.

Day’s heat still rises to meet it — something

flesh falls from hollow bones.

in us shifted Teutonic plates, buckling—

the osprey eat dinner alone. together.

Sometimes your voice is a red-tailed hawk screaming.

the bees may not make it through winter.

I carry the river’s silver voice in my purse like a charmstone.

we cannot pollinate this old growth home.

When we passed, the egret barely lifted his head—

the berries stain purple under jagged thumbnails.

focused on the glint under the surface.

boy kitten asks, ‘how do we paint our dinner?’

Moon keeps telling me I’ve been rising for years.

needles bend under padded paws

I just can’t see my own reflection on the river.

the future weaves in translucent spider threads.

And every day the threat of Earthquakes;

peaches ripen sweeter fallen undertow.

can’t build without losing ground.

wasps drown in heavy nets, never tasting anguish.

When the heat finally gives in, I hold

Their nest, splayed ragged on the roadside.

the moon’s gaze, let it slice into me.

How do we see, if we don’t slow down to look? Hope is the nourishment. Cupping the moon, silverhanded, we harvest.



Morph Tony Bernardo 11’’x14’’, Ballpoint pen, 2019

Today Carlos Quinteros III

Today I.

Watching her

My credit score dropped


I bought another pack of tobacco

about the life she will lead

My father’s friend died last night


He was 48

The rearview mirror reflects

My father’s age

an empty backseat


In his ceasing vision

Thomas complained of chest pains

his daughter appears fast asleep her head held up by the seat belt

Not the type of pain like sending off his daughter on her first date

My credit score dropped the same day

nor like waving goodbye to her

Thomas’s heart stopped

on her way to college.

In his fading moments

It was a paralyzing pain

he did not wonder

Pain that causes panic Pain that makes one start questioning their course decisions.

He wanted one last glimpse of his daughter.

He held his chest as he clammed up into the passenger seat. The rearview mirror reflects moments of his daughter sleeping in the backseat



Everything Is Romi Bales

They are themselves, Are themselves are themselves are themselves, Becoming, and being, again and again. They are each other and are themselves again. The world here is all trees, Trees, and rats, and ferns, and rivers, and chipmunks, and beavers, Bears, foxes, wolves, hawks, Mice that scurry, snakes that slither, Ravens who flap their wings in slow motion,

Pushing the air,

Pulling the air, Pushing the air, Pulling the air. The world here is sky, Cumulonimbus, stratosphere, hail, snow, the water cycle Rain falling on their cheeks, becoming dew on grass, Stars spinning, whirling, staying still, Cassiopeia, Scorpius, Pisces, Orion,



Kajri Popat


30”x40”, Mixed media, February 2017

The world here is bodies.


Their own, each others, someone else’s. 65


Shelf Life Christopher S. Bell

Her hands have long fingers, her neck smells like jasmine.

Sometimes this city is a bright and fluffy, pop-soundtrack-mov-

Her fingers are also long, her neck smells like smoke.

ie-trailer moment swelling from all sides as you rush up from the subway

Packed into the back seat of a car, like moving boxes,

depths into an eternal motion of whimsical ecstasy, but usually it’s a bitch in tight clothing. All of these bodies sitting tuned-in, coughing up today’s

Everything is skin

fresh virus as we look for inspiration in the clutter. I used to find it in glim-

Everything is touch

mering piles of bile floating towards the sewer, or from the over-styled an-

Everything is hair

tique dolls dancing to their next audition; the frightful shimmer of a dream

Everything is sweat

evaporating on their foreheads along with the previous night’s drugs. It

Everything is smell

was once as easy as looking my wife in the eyes and waiting for her to see

Everything is breath

all the same undeniable sparks within me, long before they corroded into

Everything is soft Everything is safe Everything is fingers Everything is toes (Curled) Everything is legs Everything is jasmine Everything is arms Everything is music Everything is smoke Everything is smiles

smoke and dust like a firework. She’s already posted six times today. Two tweets, one an overlap from Instagram, but then another selfie just to lure them in. They click without knowing her motivations, how Marie makes a calculated move only half the time, but expects my full support regardless of the execution. It’s an argument on Facebook about feminism; her points valid, although liking them would only feed the flames. I’ll see their extinguished glow the second I walk through the door; all of these supportive strangers light years from understanding just how loud each compulsion ticks before the battery runs out. Five years together, and I’m stronger because of her appetite to

Everything is eyes

argue, fully aware of all the displacement it can cause; why sometimes I

Everything is bellies

walk straight home after the subway, but usually circle the block just to

Everything is breasts

take it all in. There’s always a song to center my feet beneath this specific

Everything is heartbeats

patch of pavement. We could live anywhere, but she likes it here best. I

Everything is small

turn down the volume after the main gate, and lurch upstairs to the muffled sludge of guitars and bass.

The world here is all trees. 67


Unlocking the door, Marie’s fingers jump off her laptop; large cup

“Did you shoplift that line from some Ryan Gosling movie?”

of java steaming from our coffee table. “Hey,” I sigh, pulling out my ear-

“No, it’s how I actually feel,” I reply, cynically.


“Sorry,” Marie sighs. “I know I’m here right now, but my brain is

“Hey, did you finish early today?” she asks.

another ten places.”

“No. This is usually when I get home.” I toss my jacket over a chair

“Well I should shower anyway,” I kiss her on the cheek and stand

in our sliver of a kitchen. “How was your day?”

up from the couch.

“Did you check the mail?”

can’t force it, especially with all of these pervs coming out of the wood-

“Shit, I forgot.”

work. I need time to process things when it’s all said and done.”

“It’s alright. I’ll take a gander here in a bit.” She goes back to

her screen while I shut our bedroom door and undress; my dirty clothes

“Alright. Betty keeps getting on my ass about this article, but I just

“Will it ever be over, though?” I ask, somewhat blindsided, before

she looks up at me, eyes half-rolled. “There’s always some new scandal,

remaining separate from hers despite similar shades. The shower squeals


before warming slowly. I let my hair fall below my eyes and soak up every

“This is more than just tabloid fodder,” Marie replies. “Shit is

bead, reflecting on far better occasions before cutting myself off. I want

changing everywhere, and maybe it’s supposed to happen this fast, be-

to feel clean and clear-headed, but so much still lingers. The strangers

cause frankly, a lot of us are tired of waiting around for it.”

calling out into the cold air as if their voices even register, hoping I flinch or

drop some change to validate them.

“Hey, you know I’m right here with you,” I plop down next to her on

the couch, as she tries not to smile.

of the bathroom in a towel. “It didn’t come today,” she says, somewhere

“You’ve said that so many times that it really makes it hard for me

Marie’s much more difficult to please, standing tense as I step out

to believe you.”

between shocked and disappointed.


“What, are you saying that I don’t feel these same things?” I sug-


“If you did, maybe you’d be a little more active. We need to be out

“Faye’s book. I ordered it two days ago, but Prime up and shit the

bed on us.”

on the streets, get our voices heard.”

“Maybe it’s just late. UPS delivers up until eight, I think.”

“Did you even leave the house today?”

“She’s coming over for dinner at seven.”

“I grabbed lunch from the corner,” Marie says.

“That’s tonight?” I ask, dumbfounded.

“Well beyond that corner there’s all kinds of shit that I see every

“Yeah, and we’re gonna look like a bunch of assholes if we don’t

day, but when I come home to you, most of it doesn’t matter anymore.” 69

have that shit on our shelves.” 70

“Like she even cares,” I say, rationally.

drop these celebrities from my feed. They’re not contributing to my hap-

“Well even if she doesn’t, it still would’ve been nice to have it out

piness, and even if we were on level playing field, something tells me I’d

or whatever.”

ignore their calls every once in a while.

“We shouldn’t have to curate our apartment to better suit whoev-

Faye Hollis graces our front gate at 7:15, high but fashionable. I

er’s coming over.”

turn the lock and compliment her corduroy jacket as we head upstairs.

“You just don’t get it, dude.”

Marie pulls her into the fold, while I open a bottle of red and listen to their

I hate when she calls me dude, like we’re back in college or some-

voices from the bedroom. My wife portions out the food and puts on her

thing. It’s impossible to tell if Marie’s really hurt, whether this situation will

latest playlist as we rehash the last month in-between bites. Our guest

benefit from my genuine concern or if it’s just another internet grievance.

compliments the cook, and I let Marie have this one despite my contribu-

All of our friends in this city were people we sought out to admire, com-

tion. She’s needed the attention since we first met Faye at the club, and

menting when necessary before they considered us worth their time.

that realization happened. Oh, you’re somebody I should know.

Some knew about us already, courting Marie and I in a similar fashion. It

felt good to be known strictly on the basis of my work, how a significant

and waiting for the next track to carry us away. Faye’s phone is the first to

portion of it was directly influenced by her.

beep, while ours remain silenced, eager to please like children waiting on

their parents before a movie. “These idiots find me somehow every time,”

Then they began to sway us in different directions. Suddenly my

At meal’s end, we empty the bottle, drifting to the living room

voice wasn’t loud enough, but that didn’t matter; Marie’s was already

Faye sighs before typing.

spreading into the night. Outsiders saw me as strictly her partner, pretend-

ing like they knew me based on whatever rants kept her occupied. I’ve told

listen to reason.”

her on multiple occasions to keep this idea of us separate from all those

“And arguing just feeds the flames.”

ungrateful heat-seekers, but it’s a lot harder when you’re married. We’re

“Dare I ask where the conflict is here?” I suggest.

a solid compound now, silently preparing our portions of the meal while

“It’s just some asshole getting on my case about the gender-bi-

some fresh tastemaker plays in the background.

ased article I wrote last week,” Faye says.

“What a prick,” Marie adds.

mumbling what I think the lyrics are on the chorus. Marie glances over as

“Yeah, I know. It’s like dude, you’re not gonna convince me that

the water boils, trying not to laugh. We slowly converse; a word here, a

the way men have been writing and portraying us for the last hundred

comment there, as all the ingredients mix together. She checks her phone

years isn’t complete bullshit.”

sporadically, while I sift through another day on mine. Maybe it’s time to

I can’t remember the name of this band, but still hum along before


“I know what you mean,” Marie replies. “It’s so hard to get them to

“It’s like arguing with a Nazi,” my wife adds. 72

“I don’t know,” I say, half-nervous. “There are still plenty of things written by men with strong female characters.” “Yeah, but are they even getting it right?” Faye asks. “Or is it just another twisted male fantasy, making women do and say what they want?”

to witness a great migration from this city into the world. Will these faces googled after gallery openings pay me a second glance or will they already have a back-up plan? Our guest eventually stands a bit wobbly and sends out for a Lyft, before drifting to our bookshelf. Pulling out a paperback, Faye asks how

“And why can’t these scripts be written by women instead?” Marie observes.

it is; my wife pretending like she didn’t love the story, characters, climax and conclusion. I haven’t read it; my free time regularly-consumed by all

“Exactly, because our voices need to be heard,” Faye adds.

manners of interaction and distress. Tonight will soon blend in with the

“But to completely discredit all of these things I love solely based

others. Marie will eventually stop crying and channel her frustrations into

on the gender of who created them isn’t a very rational way to live life,” I

an Amazon customer service email, and I’ll be here to proofread it and


whatever comes next. “Maybe that’s the only way to get things to change, babe.” Marie’s

condescendingly affectionate, placing her hand on my knee to either silence or reassure me. I want to say more, to argue like this conversation matters. If people listened to this podcast on their way to someplace nicer, maybe they’d learn more about themselves and what stretches the boundaries of sentiment and convention. But we’re just a bunch of drunken hash-tagging millennials who hate that term, but are unfortunately subjected to it. Never mind this revolution, spiffing up our Facebook pages as we approached adulthood only to have them vanish right out from under us. We eventually downshift to lighter fare, talking shit on people we both know and follow out of some vanishing compulsion to save face. Faye’s brutal when she lets her hair down; my stomach churning slightly as I consider whether I should defend any of them, uncertain if they’d do the same for me. Which one of us is more concerned with making a better impression, and will that ever amount to much? Maybe I’ll live long enough 73


The perfect shape to drop to the earth Glenn Ingersoll for Helen Luster Bee-drone in the honeysuckle, telephone ringing through what you say softly, neighbor’s telephone’s calling’s others’. The bumps of the vertebrae under my hand as the old cat passes to leap and settle into the lap you put together, an arrangement of peace and colors. In the cradle of your hands, you rest your glasses from their focus. “I don’t know if it’s a poem,” she said. Or you said. You said. What happens leaves a shadow, what was prevented, too. How much light gets through.


Oakland’s Horsetails & Oakland’s Tree Fern Zoe Holtzman Collage and Pen

Authors and Artists Marjorie Abrigo is a sophomore majoring in Animation! She loves to

Tony Bernardo is a painter and illustrator from Miami, Florida. His work

create stories based on her surroundings. This piece is an interpretation

often explores surreal themes through distortions, exaggeration, and

of various Oakland campus plants personified! Each one has their own

scale. For more work by the artist follow on Instagram.

unique attributes that resonate with what plant they represent. Amy Bobeda is an artist from the Bay pursuing her MFA at Naropa Ivy Alvarez’s poetry collections include The Everyday English Dictionary,

University where she writes, styles hair, holds circles, and dances the

Hollywood Starlet, Disturbance (Seren) and Mortal. Her latest is Diaspora,

waking dream.

Vol. L (San Mateo: Paloma Press, 2019). Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived in Wales for almost a decade, before arriving in New

Salem Condello is a first-year creative writing major at CCA. As a

Zealand in 2014.

transgender artist and activist, his short stories and poems are often centered around queer themes. Through his craft, he aims to make other

Jasmine Alvarez is an undergraduate CCA animation student.

queer people feel “seen” and to assert that the art world needs more diversity.

Gustin Araujo is an animation major based in Oakland. He was born in New York and moved to CCA for his undergrad, and has enjoyed California

Iris Jamahl Dunkle was the 2017-2018 Poet Laureate of Sonoma County,

living since. Gustin’s writes based on his experience as a gay Afro-Latino

CA. She’s published four poetry collections and her latest, West : Fire :

living in New York and California. He really likes tropical juices.

Archive will be published in 2021. The University of Oklahoma Press will publish her biography on Charmian Kittredge London in fall 2020. Dunkle

Romi Bales is a queer young adult fiction writer living in Oakland,

is the Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.

California. They occasionally dabble in poetry. They are a senior in the Writing and Literature program at California College of the Arts.

Aldona Dziedziejko is a first-generation immigrant poet and educator. Her poems appeared in Antithesis, Juice, CV2, subTerrain, Poetry is Dead,

Christopher S. Bell is a writer and musician. His sound projects include

BAD Dog Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and Northern Appeal. She has

Emmett and Mary, Technological Epidemic, C. Scott and the Beltones and

received the Lina Chartrand Poetry Award for an emerging female poet.

Fine Wives. Christopher’s fiction has recently appeared in Big Echo, The

She is a settler and teacher in a hamlet of the Northwest Territories, Tłı̨chỏ

Fiction Pool, Maudlin House, Midway Journal and Other People’s Flowers

region belonging to the Dené people.

among others. 79


Queen Esther is an Assyrian-Irish visual artist, but is also so much more.

Eunha Kim was born and raised in South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. in 2004. Having struggled with feelings of displacement, cultural clashing,

AloraLee Gates is an animation major and casual writer on the side. She

and disorientation between past and present, Kim constructs a vivid

enjoys science fiction and cuddling with her three pets, Inara, Malcolm,

visual vocabulary portraying anxiety, alienation, and a desire to belong

and River, after a long day.

using traditional Korean masks.

Annaleah Gregoire’s work utilizes a multitude of materials to speak on

Jiangyue Li is an undergraduate CCA student.

subjects relating to her roots in natural environments and the process of adjusting to the fast-paced lifestyle of the city, healing from past traumas,

Ralph J. Long Jr. is the author of the chapbook, A Democracy Divided

and embracing the strange and uncomfortable.

(Poetry Box, 2018). His work has appeared in Stoneboat Literary Journal, The Poeming Pigeon, The Avocet, Zingara Poetry Review and the

Zoe Holtzman is a Jewelry Major at CCA. Most of her work involves

anthology Ambrosia: A Conversation About Food. He graduated from

people’s relationship with nature and how different cultures interact with

Haverford College and lives in Oakland California.

and within it. Bella Maria is probably not your cup of tea. Glenn Ingersoll works for the public library in Berkeley, California where he hosts Clearly Meant, a reading & interview series. A multi-volume

Born and raised on O’ahu, Hawai’i, Carly Murakami draws inspiration from

prose work, Thousand (Mel C Thompson Publishing) is available from

dancing hula since the age of three., and as an e-book from Smashwords. He keeps two blogs, Kumari Pacheco is a Chicago-born, Saint Louis-raised fiction writer and

LoveSettlement and Dare I Read.

editor at The Daily Fandom. An alumna of Missouri Fine Arts Academy Marcello Cologna Jaramillo grew up in San Diego and is both a visual

and Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies, her short stories examine the

artist and writer and his Jewish, Mexican-American, queer identity often

cracks in everyday relationships. It’s Kumari’s first year at CCA. She loves

comes up inside his work. He aspires to address poverty, disability,

everything except having to draw hands.

addiction, mixed-race identity, queer identity, the juvenile justice system, Kajri Popat created her piece “Me” using layers of paper, pencil, and pen.

and the foster care system.

She has a passion for intricate pen drawings, which influences her every 81


day. The piece shows different aspects of her life; she is an Indian woman,

Born and raised in Sacramento, CA, John Young earned a bachelor’s

a Libra, and has a passion for travel.

degree in English from the University of California, Davis. He currently lives in the Bay Area. John’s poetry focuses on the intersections of family and

Carlos Quinteros III is a poet trying to write a crooked beginning into a

nature, dreams and reality.

straighter end. Scarlett Zhang is an alumna of California College of the Arts. Her work is John Rosalia is an undergraduate CCA printmaking student.

deeply influenced by her passionate curiosity for the world. Working collaboratively with various people, she views each project as an opportunity

Lee Rossi is a winner of the Jack Grapes Poetry Prize. His latest book is

to explore thoughtful spatial possibilities and use of materials intertwined

Darwin’s Garden, from Moon Tide Press. Recent poems appear in The

with a strong commitment to environmental sensitivity.

Southwest Review, Rattle and The Southern Review. He is a member of the Northern California Book Reviewers and a Contributing Editor to Poetry Flash. Ross Thorpe-Murray is a bisexual male whose writing pertains to self-reflection, awareness of race, creed, cultural, sexual identity, nationalism, politics, and human consciousness. Ross was homeless in his car for two years until he was inspired by singing and performing Rock Rhythm and Blues; which helped him move out of that space. Kakou Two Roz holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing and a minor in Writing and Literature from the California College of the Arts. She is an organizer, educator, and dancer. Kakou was born in Haiti, raised in South Florida and now lives in Oakland. Ian Wheelock is a recent CCA graduate.



Gate/Light artwork on the first and last page of this journal were created by Jasmine Alvarez. Thank you for reading this volume of Humble Pie.

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