LITERARY & ARTS MAGAZINE 2 0 1 6
LITERARY & ARTS M A G A Z I N E Cochise College Cochise & Santa Cruz Counties, Arizona College Advisors Beth Colburn-Orozco Ron Hyde Jeff Sturges Jay Treiber Rick Whipple
Front and Back Cover Art Art: “Steer #5” by William C. Smith Design: Rick Whipple About Mirage
Mirage Literary and Arts Magazine is designed and produced by students of Cochise College and/or volunteers from the community, with help from faculty advisors. Those interested in participating in the production of Mirage should contact Cochise College at 520515-0500. Visit us at www.cochise.edu/mirage. Hard copies of Mirage can be obtained at both the Douglas and Sierra Vista campus libraries. Acknowledgements The Mirage staff would like to thank the following proofreaders: ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????. Creative Writing Celebration Winners Mirage publishes the first-place winners of the previous year’s Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration competitions in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, if available. The Creative Writing Celebration is co-sponsored by Cochise College, University South Foundation, Inc., Cochise College Foundation’s Diane E. Freund Memorial Writing Celebration Fund, and the City of Sierra Vista Leisure and Library Services, with support from other community businesses and organizations. Visit the Creative Writing Celebration webpage at www.cochise.edu/cwc. The following are the winners of the 2014 competitions: Poetry – Pamela Lee, “Four Haiku” Fiction – Eric Hall, “Kill Yourself ” Nonfiction – Bonnelyn Thwaits, “Annie”
Mirage Mission Statement Mirage Literary and Arts Magazine has a three-part mission: 1. Mirage serves Cochise and Santa Cruz counties by showcasing high-quality art and literature produced by community members. 2. Mirage serves Cochise College by establishing the college as the locus of a creative learning community. 3. Mirage serves Cochise College students by providing them an opportunity to earn college credit and gain academic and professional experience through their participation in all aspects of the production of the literary and arts magazine. Disclaimer Mirage and its staff are not responsible for the veracity, authenticity, or integrity of any work of literature or art, or claim made by any contributor appearing in the publication. Font This year’s Mirage is printed in Minion, an Adobe original typeface designed by Robert Slimbach. Minion is inspired by classical, oldstyle typefaces of the late Renaissance, a period of elegant, beautiful, and highly readable type designs. Copyright Notice All rights herein are retained by the individual author or artist. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without written permission of the author or artist, except for limited scholarly, educational, or reference purposes, to include citation of date, page, and source with full acknowledgement of title, author, and edition. Printed in the United States of America. © Cochise College 2016
Mirage 2016 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Literature A Waiting Game (Awaiting Game) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Pamela Lee Wild Boar Jaw Bone . . . . . . . . . . .2 Ruby Odell Almost Twins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Michael Erickson Flurry Before Snow . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Lavendra Copen Art Afternoon Skies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Loren Gladwill Praying Mantis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Lindsay Janet Roberts Early Morning Tweet Tweet . . .9 David Altamirano Mendenhall Glacier . . . . . . . . . .10 Cathy Murphy Days Gone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Andrea Savage Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Larry Milam Born on the Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Russell (Catdaddy) Gillespie Chiricahua 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Francisco J. Moreno Erie Street . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 David Day Two Chairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Vienna Baker
Literature Read ‘em and Weep . . . . . . . . . .17 Steve Bovée Desert Nights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 Cappy Love Hanson The Man in the Circle . . . . . . .27 Pamela Lee Art Lunar Eclipse 2015 (ver.1) . . .29 Dan Rollins Egret in Flight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Lindsay Janet Roberts Space Stuff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 David Altamirano South of the Border . . . . . . . . . .32 Beth Ann Krueger Steer #5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 William C. Smith Trees and Flowers in Infared . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 Cathy Murphy Huachuca Mt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Francisco J. Moreno Concentrator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36 Steve Bovée Tibetan Flags on a Rainy Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Sharon Lee Yet Another Candidate for President . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Russell (Catdaddy) Gillespie
Literature Aztec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Carmen Megeath R.I.P. (Sic Transit Gloria Mundi) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Pamela Lee BJ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 Gary Lawrence Dusk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 Cappy Love Hanson Souflees for Fleas . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Pat O'Hare Blown Away . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45 Pamela Blunt Morning Mourning . . . . . . . . . .47 Mary Alexander Moon in Loversâ€™ Eyes . . . . . . . .49 Lavendra Copen Come to Die . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 Cappy Love Hanson Dragon Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 Carmen Megeath Art Eclipse Moon over the San Pedro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53 R. J. Luce Once Upon a Time in Ramsey Canyon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54 Joyce Genske Meditation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 James Schrimpf
San Pedro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 Steve BovĂŠe Phil O. Dendron . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 Lynda Coole Sunflower at Midnight . . . . . .58 Phillip C. Micheau Trail Magic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 R. J. Luce Literature - Creative Writing Celebration Winners Four Haiku . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61 Pamela Lee Kill Yourself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62 Eric Hall Annie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69 Bonnelynn Thwaites Biographical Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75 Submission Guidelines
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Mirage 2016 A WAITING GAME (AWAITING GAME)
Something— Ah, yes, the ginger cat, Igor— Is hunting in the snow, Stalking among the stalks and stubble, Now hunching low, Coiled, And ready to (As I am ready for) Spring!
Mirage 2016 WILD BOAR JAW BONE
This weighty bit of bone is still full of life . . . Bone—always shapely and sculptural even eons later. Worn and aged to the color of wellsteeped tea, cracked and fractured, a fragment only with a few missing chips; we can still see with ease the size of this animal full grown—stocky with bristled hair, a small eye. The jaw, the one piece of it we have to examine and ponder, seems to have all its teeth. They’re gnarled and caramel colored, polished with use. Still set neatly in precision along the dip of the jaw that swings up like a slender shoulder blade to meet the skull, the knob of the hinge, it seems to breathe, and we imagine some bunch of leafy matter in between those powerful molars making us know how it was—the crushing of fragrant leaves that once were held in motion here—a vegetarian creature, made for this . . . a huge tongue, a red gullet . . . gnash and grind . . . It feels like a boomerang—it’s something we know; it’s something we don’t know—this piece of bone and all its gleaming remains. Its perfect alignment is a clue. It’s a piece of all that is, a thread to be unwound back to the beginning, the start of everything, the origin even of us—a brother, a mate, a fellow being, its ears perked, snout wet and nostrils flaring, tossing its head, the short-sighted eyes . . . casting the light.
Mirage 2016 ALMOST TWINS
It was just a old wore-out grey Fedora that Uncle Jon lost in that storm. He come out of the barn and, as he turned to slide the door shut, the wind kicked up and stole his hat. It was late in the month of June. That's when the summer storms start up around here. And the year probably would have been around nineteen and seventy-three or so. Uncle Jon liked that hat. He loved that hat. He felt that it fit him quite well. It was a comfortable and sturdy hat. Indeed, that hat had served him well for quite a few years. As far back as I can recall, it was firmly affixed upon his head. That old hat was a bit more than broke in. It was just about wore out. When it was new, it was almost white. But over the years it took on a few different shades. The sweat stains had colored a goodly part of the brim and band a mix of grey and brown. The underside of the brim was well colored, and scented by the smoke from the ever-present Drum or Bugler cigarette that hung from his lip. The crown was cracked in several places, and the whole thing was decorated with a multitude of odd stains and tears. It was an old wore-out grey fedora. His brother Jerome had come out from Oklahoma to visit him a few years before this tale takes place and, when he saw the sorry state of Jon's hat, he set about to buying him a new one. Jon thanked Jerome for the hat, and later that evening he stashed it away on the back of the top shelf of his closet. He took it out a few times. He wore it to Sophie’s wedding and Jim Bob's funeral. Eventually, he started wearing it to church. Now us cousins, we had us a running bet to see which one of us could “accidentally” knock off his hat. We had convinced ourselves that, despite his full beard and bushy eyebrows, he very likely was bald, and he wore the hat to hide the truth. We need to get back to the story. Don't we? In its own mysterious way, the wind, oh so carefully, plucked up that hat from his head that Uncle Jon barely noticed it. Until it was too late. That wind carried it better than eight miles and, oh so gently, set it down on the front porch of Pearl’s house.
Pearl had been planning to enter her favorite buck, Bubba, in the annual Palominas People and Pets Fourth of July Extravaganza and Parade. She had raised Bubba on the bottle, and he just was as gentle as could be. She used to dress him up in baby clothes and push him around the yard in the stroller that she found in the barn. By the age of seven, Bubba sported a long white beard, and Pearl had it in her mind to dress him up as an old farmer. Always being one to plan ahead, Pearl had saved an old pair of her baby brother, Brian’s, bibbies. Working late into the night and every spare moment that she could find in her day, she modified them to fit Bubba. The costume was just about perfect, but she felt that it was lacking a "certain something.” She just couldn’t put her finger on it. J ust about then, she heard her mother calling from the kitchen: “Pearlie, you best quit yer daydreaming, girl. It’s time to get on morning chores.” As the screen door slammed shut behind her, and she skipped across the porch, I can just imagine the look on Pearl’s face when, much to her surprise and delight, she spied that old grey hat just setting there on the stoop. That was just what she needed for Bubba. It was perfect. She grabbed it up and headed out to the barn to feed the stock, all the while plotting on how to get that hat to stay on Bubba’s head. After the breakfast dishes were done and put up, she ran back to the barn. She grabbed some twine and pulled out her two-blade Barlow. As she scooped a handful of grain from the bin and climbed over the fence, she called out to Bubba. A few minutes later, she stepped back and admired her handiwork. She cut holes in the crown so that the buck’s horns stuck out, and she slit the brim to let his ears wiggle free. She tied the hat around his neck with the twine. It was a wonderful fit. She took it off of Bubba and hid it in the tack room, along with the rest of the rig. Two days later, Pearl proudly led Bubba right down the middle of the road. It was a wonderful parade. As always, it was well
attended and very well participated in. Pearl and her buddy were the absolute hit of the parade. There was Bubba in his finery, and Pearl was wearing her best bibbies and a fine straw hat that she waved at the crowd. What a pair they were. All along the route, people were pointing at them and laughing and applauding her and Bubba. Everyone, except Uncle Jon, that is. He looked just fine and handsome in his new fedora and Carhartts, but it seems that he recognized his favorite hat and failed to find the humor in the costume. It was bad enough that his hat ended up on the buckâ€™s head, but what really galled him was when folks come up to him and remarked on how much alike he and Bubba looked. â€œAlmost twins.â€? P.S. Of course, Pearl and Bubba took first prize that year. And fortythree years later, that blue ribbon still hangs on the wall in her sewing room. P.P.S And the hat? Well Bubba shook it off and after stomping it few times, tried to eat it.
Mirage 2016 FLURRY BEFORE SNOW
Under a livid sky, two ravens shout a flock of crows from skeletal elms. Black corvacious spirits whip like witchesâ€™ rags through volatile air. A lone magpie flies contrary, breasts the feathered whirlwind. Starlings cascade onto an electric wire, are howled away. First flakes gyrate down from the clouds; not a single wing rises.
Mirage 2016 AFTERNOON SKIES photograph
Mirage 2016 PRAYING MANTIS distressed cardboard and acrylic
Lindsay Janet Roberts
Mirage 2016 EARLY MORNING TWEET TWEET pastel on paper
Mirage 2016 MENDENHALL GLACIER photograph
Mirage 2016 DAYS GONE photograph
LOVE linoleum print
Mirage 2016 BORN ON THE DAY acrylic on canvas
Russell (Catdaddy) Gillespie
Mirage 2016 CHIRICAHUA 1 photograph
Francisco J. Moreno
Mirage 2016 ERIE STREET photograph
Mirage 2016 TWO CHAIRS acrylic
Mirage 2016 READ 'EM AND WEEP
It was around my third year of artistic failure that I started making paintings of crying Indians. Frankly, it was an act of desperation. I'd begun my career painting representational landscapes and done all right with them in terms of sales. But in time, I grew dissatisfied and bored with realism. I went more abstract in approach. My landscapes grew flatter, more distorted. The sales faltered and then dwindled to practically nothing. Finally, I abandoned landscape altogether in favor of human figures—gaunt, twisted figures with haunted, staring eyes. Personally, I found them compelling, but apparently I was the only one who did. “Barney Googles with anorexia,” my friend Vercammon called them, mockingly. And he was an artist! The public, of course, didn't get them at all; nobody bought a single piece. The viewers just laughed. This galled me. It was good work. They were good paintings. Maybe they did look a little bit like Barney Google on a starvation diet, but the quality was high. Very possibly, that was the problem. People wanted claptrap, not art—I’d come to realize that much. I read all the fine-art magazines, and it appalled me to see how much money clearly inferior work was fetching on the market. I knew of one painter—a fellow with a national reputation by the name of Gizmo or something—who painted nothing but broken-hearted Indians on horseback. His work went for five figures, and it was absolutely dreadful. I could do better blindfolded. I knew I could. And then I thought to myself, well, why not try a few Indians myself? It wasn't as though Gizmo owned Indians. They were fair game. Stylistically, Gizmo and I were worlds apart, so it wouldn't be theft. I wasn't poaching. I didn't need his permission to paint Indians, or anyone's permission. What did I have to lose? I didn't just jump right into it. You have to get a feel for your subject. I did my research. I must have looked at a couple thousand old black-and-white photographs of Indians. It wasn’t until I could close my eyes and conjure up an image of these handsome people that I started sketching and making studies. Once I mastered the iconography, I had no more need for photographs, or even models; I made it all up out of my own head. My first major portrait was a night scene. It showed a young brave staring into the coals of a campfire. Very dra-
matic lighting. Georges de La Tour couldn’t have done a better job with the firelight. Honestly, I was struck with the sheer excellence of the painting. And it was subtle in a way Gizmo never dared to be. The brave was crying, all right, but he wasn't bawling or anything. His eyes were just beginning to brim over, and you had to look hard to see it. Bang! The thing sold the very first day it went on exhibition. Three thousand bucks! I’d never sold a piece for that much before. Next, I did a figure group with a Southwestern theme. It depicted four women of indeterminate tribe, but you could tell by the light and the distant mesas that it was set somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico. The composition was tricky—an even-number of figures makes for a very challenging group. The women were grinding corn on a metate. Their hair was black and lustrous, and one of them wore it in a kind of a raven-shaped bun, which I vaguely recalled had some sort of tribal significance. This is how I arranged them: Two had their backs to the viewer, one was in lost profile, and one was depicted in three-quarter profile. She was the one with the bun. She was looking out in the distance towards a beat-up pickup truck (it was a contemporary scene) and quietly weeping. Bang! That one sold too—within an hour of being hung. It wasn’t even dry. I painted a sobbing old chief, and it sold in less than a day. Well, what would you do? I hadn't unloaded a piece in the previous thirty-six months, and these three went sailing off the walls on wings of cash. The art gods had spoken, and they spoke pretty clearly it seemed to me. From then on I didn't hold back. I painted every kind of Indian ever made. Chiefs, braves, shamans, maidens, geezers, crones, big Indians, little Indians, men Indians, women Indians, children Indians. And all of them crying. They sold as fast as I could paint them. My friend Vercammon, ever the critic, came uninvited to my studio one day. I should explain that Vercammon paints machines and machine parts, mostly, somewhat like a neo-Impressionist semiabstract Sheeler. He’s actually pretty good. As an artist, I mean, not as a critic. He looked at my work, and his lip curled. “So, this is your new
style, is it?” he said, eyeing one of my weeping maidens. “Well, yes.” “Are you serious about this crap?” The tone was even worse than the words. It was an audible sneer. “What’s that supposed to mean? Of course I’m serious about this crap. And it's not crap!” “No, it’s something even worse. You know what’s worse than crap?” “Enlighten me.” “Sentimental crap. That's what you’re doing here. Pure schlock. Tear-jerker Indians! It makes me sick. You might as well paint sad clowns. What the hell’s gotten into you?” “I happen to find the subject matter important and full of meaning.” “Oh? And what meaning would that be?” “It’s about—loss. It’s about Native American peoples grieving for their despoiled ancestral homes.” “Oh, for Christ sake!” “You don’t think that’s worthy of a painting?” “No. It’s totally fake, coming from you. It’s an affectation. You don't even know any real Indians.” “I know thousands of Indians. I know tons of Indians.” “Like who?” “Tom Begay, for one. He's full-blooded Navajo, and he happens to be a pretty good friend of mine.” Vercammon knew Tom, too. “Tom Begay would puke laughing over this stuff. I suppose this sob-sister brave holding a broken arrow”—he pointed to one of my better efforts—“represents him, huh? Tom never cried a tear in his life that I know of. He laughs his head off about everything. He's a natural comedian.” “Maybe he’s not so jolly in secret. Maybe he cries to himself.” “Oh, no doubt about it! Of course he blubbers his eyes out in secret, in the dark of his locked wigwam.” “That would be a hogan,” I said coldly. “And don’t be too sure that he doesn’t. When he gets to thinking about certain events in the his-
tory of his people.” “Which you’re appropriating and using for your own profit. That's one thing Tom might not laugh about. I can see him shooting you, all right, but I can’t see him sobbing like a little child over a busted suction-cup arrow. Even if he does, in private,—which I doubt—I know damn well you didn’t sneak in there with your easel and paints and canvas and catch him at it.” “I don’t have to paint from life. I use my imagination.” “That’s for damn sure!” “It’s real on a deeper level than you seem capable of understanding.” “It’s totally bogus, completely disgusting!” “And I suppose your paintings of tractor transmissions are trueto-life and meaningful?” “Any tractor transmission has more life in it than those cuties you’re painting.” “What, exactly, is wrong with depicting the pain of native peoples?” “‘Native peoples’! There you go again; that’s what I’m talking about! When did you start to talk like a pompous ass?” It went on and on like that for a half hour or more. In the end, by way of summation, he denounced me as a fraud, a charlatan, a thief, and a poseur, while on my part I pointed out that he was a hypocrite, a hack, and a dog-in-the-manger. Things were a bit chilly between old Vercammon and me after that. Art is hard on friendships. Privately, I had to admit that Vercammon had the better of the argument. I knew perfectly well that I was painting hackneyed, dreadful schlock—even if it was much better painted than most hackneyed, dreadful schlock. But what was I supposed to do? Go back to starving? Turn my back on those juicy sales? Be a martyr to Art? What the hell was “Art” anyway? Did anybody need it; did anybody want it? Of course they didn't. But people wanted those crying Indians, all right! Just the same, I went out of my way to avoid Tom Begay. And only
partly on account of Vercammon’s prediction that he might shoot me. I was pretty sure that Tom would find the whole thing hilarious. Still, I didn’t want to look him in the eye. None of my other artist friends, I should add, were any more sympathetic than Vercammon. The only compliment I got—if it was a compliment—was from Betsy Kraft, the sculptor, who said that my new style looked a lot like Gizmo’s, “only cornier.” I was a pariah in the artist community, maybe, but I did have two loyal supporters. One was my wife, Vicky. She worked a regular job that brought in a regular paycheck and more or less supported us both, paying most (or I suppose I should say all) of our expenses. Or did, up until the time the Indians started paying the bills. “It’s good work that you’re doing,” she said. “It’s honorable work. And people actually buy it. It brings in some income for once, which is a goddam welcome miracle.” She made a gripping motion. “There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in doing commercial art,” she went on soothingly. “Artists have always painted what the market demands. Throughout history. Do you think for a minute those Renaissance painters enjoyed doing portraits of stuck-up aristocrats and their snotty wives? Or painting bloated angels floating over a spun-sugar Virgin holding a marshmallow baby? But that's where the commissions came from.” I knew that, of course, but I was still uncomfortable with the direction I’d taken. “It makes me feel like a fraud, doing these genre things.” “A successful fraud, for a change! What’s so terrible about success? You’re a painter, for God’s sake! Isn’t that what you want?” “Maybe I do. I'm not sure.” “Look, if you want to do the Barney Googles—” “The gaunt figures!” “. . . the gaunt figures, you can do them on Sundays, and save the weekdays for painting the stuff that's really worth something. Don’t give up what works! Do give up the—you know—other drecky stuff that doesn’t work! Forget your pride. It’s not worth a plugged nickel.” “It isn’t quite that easy,” I said heavily.
She just didn’t understand it. I mean, the creative part, and how hard it was to cast it aside. She wasn’t an artist. She didn’t understand my misery and inner conflict. She was right about the financial aspect, though. My God, the way those weepers sold! I was pulling in the money by the wagonload. It was almost embarrassing. My other great champion was Gordon Grogan, of the Gordon Grogan Gallery, where my work was hung. Gordon was a friend, sort of, and had exhibited my work from the very beginning. He’d even stuck with me through the years of zero sales, which showed extraordinary loyalty in a businessman. Gordon was the very image of a successful gallery owner—tall, cool, handsome, impeccably dressed; he looked a great deal like the Devil, in fact, although without the pointy ears. One afternoon, as I writhed in an agony of self-doubt. (Maybe the public was right, I thought in a panic—maybe my new work was actually better than my old. On the other hand, why did it feel so false to me?) I blurted out my doubts to him. Gordon was of a necessity very, very savvy about the art world, and I knew he wouldn’t be afraid to tell me, in the bluntest language, whether what I was painting was legitimate “Art” or contemptible rubbish. I put it to him straight: was I wasting my talent? He brushed that aside with a caustic laugh and an impatient shake of his head. “Forget all that. You’ve hit the Mother Lode with those lachrymose Indians. That’s what counts! That’s talent. Don’t screw it up. You just keep doing exactly what you've been doing and don’t deviate from the true path by a hair.” “But I’m not so sure what I've been doing is the ‘true path’.” “Of course it is. It sells. In your own way you’re a great artist, so long as you keep churning out those whimperin’ warriors.” For a moment a suspicion crossed my mind—fifty percent of the sales price went straight into his pocket, after all. But I dismissed the thought as unworthy. “It just doesn’t feel right, Gordon. I’m not a Native American myself, for one thing.” “So what? Do you think you're only allowed to paint people who look exactly like you, who grew up like you? We wouldn’t have George Catlin then, would we? Delacroix was French and he painted Arabs.
Frederick Remington was fat as a bullfrog, but did you ever see a fat person in one of his paintings?” “I don’t quite see the—” He cut me off with a smooth chuckle. “You know, I admire that ‘Native American’ bit, by the way. Nice shtick. Very pious. Very PC. Best not to insult the models.” “It’s not a ‘shtick’! I’m trying to be respectful.” “Oh? Did you ever stop to consider that the term ‘Native American’ is damn near as insulting as ‘Indian’? It’s naming a whole race of people, a whole hemisphere’s worth of civilizations, after a secondrate Italian map-maker. Kind of ironic, don’t you think?” “I don’t know. Maybe it is. That’s not the point. I just don’t want to feel like I'm exploiting anyone, that’s all.” “Oh, get off the soap-box. You’re making it, my friend, you’re becoming a name! Your sobbing-indigenous-people’s series, if it makes you feel better to call it that, is a friggin’ gold mine! In a year or two, I can get you a major show in New York or L.A. You know what these paintings will sell for then? Old Gizmo will probably hang himself out of envy.” Yes, he probably would hang himself. But not out of envy. For the first time, I understood what he must have been going through all these years. Sad Indians had taken over my life. They had me surrounded. They’d put some tribal curse on me. They’d given me success and spirited away my painting ability. For the strange thing was, the quality of the paintings (and I don’t mean just the subject matter) was going down. Yet the sales kept climbing. I literally could not paint them fast enough. It was madness. What was it about crying Indians, anyway? Nobody bought paintings of crying Scotsmen. Nobody ever spent good money on a painting of a tearful Korean, or a grief-addled Turk. It was Indians or nothing. Why, a fairly respectable modern art museum (you would recognize the name) wanted one of my pieces for their permanent collection! Not one of my old pieces, not one of my distorted landscapes, not one of my gaunt figures, oh no—they wanted a whimperin’ warrior!
I was puttering in my studio, cleaning brushes, when the crises arrived. I knew it would come; it had been building for a long time. I almost welcomed it. It was like a great wave breaking over me. I looked at my latest work, arranged about the walls, and it was as though I was seeing it for the first time. Here was a Commanche child bawling over a broken toy horse. There was a Pocahantas-type howling at the moon, yonder a melancholy Inuit sniffled over a slab of seal blubber. A big canvas, fully fifteen feet across by seven high, took up most of one wall. It was nearly completed. I suppose you could say it was my crowning masterpiece. In the left foreground, an incredibly noble-looking chief in full war bonnet was leaking tears; beside him a beautiful young woman (his daughter maybe) was crying in a proud yet broken manner, her cheeks sparkly with tears; on her back she carried a papoose, and it was crying; at her feet, a dog with shiny eyes was baying dolefully; in the background the entire tribe was gathered, bawling hysterically. It was the biggest mass crying jag in recorded history. Vercammon was right; he’d been right all along. I put down my rags and slowly walked up to this painting, and I addressed each person in it. “You make me sick,” I said. I went around the studio and formally told each painting that it made me sick. Then I felt a lot better. I destroyed those paintings, though they were worth a lot of money. And from that day on, I never painted another crying Indian. I went back to my old style, keeping my work hidden, and I attacked the subject matter with a vigor I truly didn't know I had in me. My landscapes became flatter and more distorted yet, my figures gaunter and ever more haunted. I was doing the best work of my life, and I knew it. I even, purely out of defiance, painted a portrait of a gaunt but laughing Tom Begay, with eyes so wide and haunted and staring as to make Barney Google look like a habitual squinter. I finished eighteen canvases in just under six weeks, a stupendous output. And all of it was good. But Gordon Grogan wasn’t having any. He wouldn't give me a show. He wouldn't even display the work, any of it. “Oh, no. No way.
No way in hell. I run a business. You want my advice?—you burn every one of these canvases. This stuff would ruin your sales. I’m talking about all of your sales. The value of every painting you’ve ever done would go down, and that includes the ones I bought as an investment. You can’t go backwards in this game. It’s career suicide. No, I won’t be a party to it. Say, why don’t you do some more of that morose Eskimo stuff? It’s attracting a lot of attention. Nobody does sobbing Eskimos but you.” “You’re not listening to me.” “I’m afraid you’re not listening to me. I’ve been in this business a long, long time, buddy. Go back to what you were doing.” “It’s my new work—or rather my new old work—or nothing!” “Then it’s nothing.” And he meant it. But so did I. I stuck to my guns. And I did have my show, in the end. Not at the prestigious Gordon Grogan Gallery but in a little gallery-and-crafts store called Bob’s Art Hut, tucked into the corner of a shabby strip mall. Unfortunately, I didn't sell a single painting. Not a damned one. And I haven’t sold one since, not for the last twenty months. As for Vicky—well, she packed her things and walked out the door. She said I was a fool and a self-righteous fool, and my crazy crusade was absolutely the last straw. She started going out with, and before long moved in with, that bastard Gordon Grogan. I doubt very much she’ll ever come back to me. I had to give up my studio when I could no longer cover the rent. I can hardly stand the smell of paint any more. Who’s weeping now?
Mirage 2016 DESERT NIGHTS
Cappy Love Hanson
Dark drives its wedge deep between day and day, creaks night open like a wrought-iron hinge. Moon rounds the mountains late behind cloud-scribble, finds stars already scuffling for position, swaggering around Polaris. Those first years, sitting out in plastic chairs amid the grass and creosote—landed as any two people with graves awaiting them—we felt starshine light on our cheeks like tiny celestial kisses. The sky’s slow spin polished our rough-edged days smooth. But sit out here enough decades, and stars begin to sting like nettles. Now the galaxy’s a gritty wheel that sandpapers flesh and bones and hearts back to their primal components: stardust to stardust.
Mirage 2016 THE MAN IN THE CIRCLE
Vitruvius was an architect, First century BC. For him Man was the model For Perfection and Proportion; Thus, temples should reflect that Scale.
The circle is a perfect geometric form, A symbol for sky and heaven, for God. When Vitruvius puts his striding man inside, Man’s navel is the center, A reminder of Creation. The square is the other perfect form And stands for Earth and groundedness. When Leonardo stands his Man in the Square, The Center becomes Man’s sex, Suggesting PROcreation. Davinci’s Man Inside a Circle Inside a Square Combines the two ideas: Man the Created and the Creator.
Vitruvian Man On the Euro coin Signifying Italy, As a logo for Health, As an image for NASA In the movie “Contact,” Has a rebirth as RECreation. Etched in gold and Launched into space (With our planets on the obverse) This was the symbol meant to say To other Intelligent Life in the Universe, “We are here.”
Mirage 2016 LUNAR ECLIPSE 2015 (VER. 1) photograph
Mirage 2016 EGRET IN FLIGHT photograph
Lindsay Janet Roberts
Mirage 2016 SPACE STUFF pastel on paper
Mirage 2016 SOUTH OF THE BORDER photograph
Beth Ann Krueger
Mirage 2016 STEER #5 acrylic on canvas
William C. Smith
Mirage 2016 TREES AND FLOWERS Cathy Murphy IN INFRARED photograph
Mirage 2016 HUACHUCA MT. photograph
Francisco J. Moreno
Mirage 2016 CONCENTRATOR oil on canvas
Mirage 2016 TIBETAN FLAGS ON RAINY DAY photograph
Mirage 2016 YET ANOTHER CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT watercolor
Russell (Catdaddy) Gillespie
Mirage 2016 AZTEC
It was all there But it was fragile like glass Breaking as you touched it Like light Through the music of armor Like light on the glint of swords And horses Coming on the night wind (Tezcatlipocaâ€™s domain) Treading the trails Toward The most terrifyingly Literally Offered Hearts The blood-matted hair of the high priests Their Blood Magic Adorned in the flayed skins of women To signify their Double Being â€“ While inside the Teocalli Jaguar and Eagle priests Chanted And new heads were arranged Upon the tzompantli . . . O Hernan Cortez first beheld the great city of Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519 . . .
Mirage 2016 R. I. P. (SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI)
Here lies (on the asphalt) the formerly well-rounded form of a box turtle who once lived in a slowly mobile geodesic dome of plain, but pretty solid, geometry. Now he exists (that is, remains exist) in one plane only, a flat Mercator projection of his former hemispherical self: three dimensions down to design. My joggerâ€™s stride crosses (blesses) all his carapace meridians in one homeward bound. (May we both) Rest in peace.
Mirage 2016 BJ
So I’ve been sleeping on the couch, pissing and washing up down at the Clark Station on Auburn the last few days ‘cause the john’s in her part of the apartment. She’s been holed up there ever since I dropped the dog off in the country last Tuesday. Three days now. Hell, the way she yelled and swore that night when she saw how the dog’d torn up her new shoes, I thought, That’s it. Enough. I can do something about this. I’m fixing this problem at least. That’s what I get for thinking, my old man would’ve said. It’s not like it was the worst thing in the world, dropping a dog off in the country. Not like nobody ever did that before. Some farmer’ll take care of him, surely. Probably some fat old farm wife in a red-and-white checkerboard apron with a plastic red-andwhite checkered table cloth over a chrome-and-Formica table will feed him table scraps. Til he chews up her shoes. I could’ve taken BJ out somewhere and done worse. A lot worse. But I didn’t. So when I got home late that night after dropping him off, even though I have to get up early for work, what’d she say when I walk in? Thanks for doing that for me? Thanks for solving that problem? Shit, no. Instead she says, “Where’s the dog?” Took me ten seconds. “Whatd’ya mean, where’s the dog?” I stood straighter. “I took care of it.” Then she looks at me like I strangled a goddamn chicken in front of her. Stomps off to the bedroom. Slams the door. The one between me and the bathroom. Finally she yells, “Don’t you come back here without my dog!” I worked that first day, drove by the spot I’d dumped him after work—but it gets dark early here in December so I couldn’t see anything. Worked late pouring concrete, couldn’t get back the second day. Told my boss I had to go to the dentist today, the third day–just so’s I could look for the dumb dog in the daylight. I don’t have much hope. I mean, if you were a dog, would you stay out here? I mean, shit man, you got dropped off out here on this road. I’m on my fifth cigarette now—my last. It’s already dark. Temperature’s dropping below zero. Wind chill is rough. Typical. Should I call him again? I open the door to rub the butt out on the
gravel. The dome light comes on. Shines bright in the dark. Makes me think of the porch light at the apartment. Of coming home empty-handed again. Twice so far. Now a third time? That tinny voice in my head says it again: She thinks more of some damn dog than she does of you. Then I hear a rustle. Snow crunching. Behind me. BJ? I can’t see out because of the dome light, but I pull the door shut, squint. There. There he is. Big tawny mix, long white belly, tongue hanging out, tail going in circles like a frigging copter like he does, squirms and shakes his whole body whenever he sees you. I fling the door open, take a couple steps out. He jumps through the exhaust cloud at me, rolls me over, stands on my chest and licks my face, barks right in my ear so hard it rings. Twice. “Go for a ride?” I squeak out. I can’t breathe; he’s on my chest. One bound, he’s in the car. I get up. Brush myself off. Can’t stop smiling. I’ll be damned. I climb in, step on the clutch, shift the car into first. Sit with my foot on the clutch a whole minute, feeling the engine rumble under my insulated boot, listening to the Camino idling. Then I drive back toward town to get BJ a steak for dinner with the last of my gas money for the week. After that, I’m not sure where the hell we’re going.
Mirage 2016 DUSK
Cappy Love Hanson
Dusk, and the air unbusying itself of a summer day. Elms sigh and lift on a little dance of breeze, perhaps something American Indian, up moves instead of stamping. Hingey creaks leak from fibrous junctions, twig to branch to trunk, still pliant with monsoon rain. Leaves begin to turn, as if each one has photosynthesized itself a sun, now rolling to expose its pale and trembling belly to the little winter of the night.
Mirage 2016 SOUFFLEES FOR FLEAS
My ankles are soufflees for fleas For which they get down on their knees And thank their tiny deities.
Mirage 2016 BLOWN AWAY
Today was the wind’s birthday. It took a deep breath, and it blew hard. It blew out all the lights. It blew out all the computers. It blew out all the cash registers, refrigerators, traffic lights, and ipods. It blew out city block after city block of commerce. 45
I hope it made a wish. And me, I was running on empty. I thought I could just search a little farther for fuel. But like I said, I was running on empty, And the wind, It had blown out all the gas pumps too. So the wind rocked us, Gusting across our steely transports As we were on our way, Thinking our busy, important thoughts And taking it all for granted. It took just a few gusts of wind To bring us to our knees, Put us in our place, Show us just who was boss— Not us— Just how insignificant and fragile Our complicated world is To the wild currents that whirl around the earth.
Today it was only a few strong breaths from the lungs of the universe, A few minutes of pause Before things returned to business as usual. Gratitude for what is And what so easily could come to a standstill With just the right marriage of wind or heat Or empty aquifers.
Mirage 2016 MORNING MOURNING
The coffee pot persists Its slushing sound Early morning noise For breakfast.
Breakfast—brake fast Slushing morphs into Screaming brakes Brake fast—not fast enough That morning—that child Too late the brake I sit with my cup Of remorse.
Mirage 2016 SOLITUDE
Let lesser lights go This study in memory This coming home to you And nothing So much. The veil is thinning now. Showers of golden leaves Drop On the bricks In the patio. And there! Your winter’s Transparent bones. Still the sparrows keep their courses: In chinaberry, quince, lilac Their chattering joy Their grand accompaniment To autumn— Silhouettes on barren limbs— “The darlings of shut-ins.” That pocked, abiding rock shifts ceaselessly in transit. No less so its servant images. Across the eyes’ desiccating globes each blink swells saline seas. The lunar light remakes itself a dozen times a minute in those salty surfaces, assembling metaphors whose stony source deludes our vision. It’s the speed of light that tricks. For those of us who tumble willingly into such enchantment’s arms, it’s the speed of love, the parallax inscribed like cords between the eye and heart.
Mirage 2016 MOON IN LOVERS’ EYES
That pocked, abiding rock shifts ceaselessly in transit. No less so its servant images. Across the eyes’ desiccating globes each blink swells saline seas. The lunar light remakes itself a dozen times a minute in those salty surfaces, assembling metaphors whose stony source deludes our vision. It’s the speed of light that tricks. For those of us who tumble willingly into such enchantment’s arms, it’s the speed of love, the parallax inscribed like cords between the eye and heart.
Mirage 2016 COME TO DIE
Cappy Love Hanson
In the first wash of summer dawn, a kestrel flies in from wild mesquite and creosote grassland to hunker on our disused stove vent, head tucked under the wrist of a tawny wing. She doesnâ€™t even startle when the back door bangs against its stop like a shot, so I know she ranks with other sad omens: the brown towhee who hugged my car tire for heat, the house finch who thrust his bird-poxed head between the railroad ties we stacked for steps. From a closet, I unearth an old canary cage and find the kestrelâ€™s tried to fly and crashed and now lies splay-winged on gray pavers. Her fever, when I lift her, blisters my heart. Her ripping beak can only open wide and wider as she pants. The kestrel lies behind bars on the sheltered deck while I phone wildlife rehabbers, emerge with car keys, only to discover that in those
few minutes she has died alone, wings slumped, head to one side, dark eyes staring. I carry her out to the wash behind the house, hold her up to the wind, spread her wings among the desert 51
marigolds and poppies. For the rest of the day, the sky feels too big, much too empty to look at.
Mirage 2016 DRAGON YEARS
There she is as well may be In scarlet skirt For all to see White hair coiling Up like smoke Jesus Christ her fire and rock Dragon years Dragon years Maria at ninety-two wandering the streets Like an animal
Mirage 2016 ECLIPSE MOON OVER THE SAN PEDRO photograph
Mirage 2016 ONCE UPON A TIME IN RAMSEY CANYON photograph
Mirage 2016 MEDITATION photograph
Mirage 2016 SAN PEDRO oil on canvas
Mirage 2016 PHIL O. DENDRON photograph
Mirage 2016 SUNFLOWER AT MIDNIGHT pencil painting
Phillip C. Micheau
Mirage 2016 TRAIL MAGIC photograph
CREATIVE WRITING CELEBRATION WINNERS
Presented in this section are the winning entries of the Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration, 2015, in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
Mirage 2016 FOUR HAIKU
First Place, Poetry Competition Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration, 2015 Near Ramsey Canyon, A flock of wild gray turkeys With peacock in tow. 61
Winter has arrived. The Sandhill Cranes are burbling At Whitewater Draw.
Outside my window, There's snow on the Huachucas, A finch at feeder.
I've lost my hearing. While I can see Bouquet meow, I must feel her purr.
Mirage 2016 KILL YOURSELF
First Place, Fiction Competition Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration, 2015 The bridge that cuts across the bay of the city is an international symbol. It’s on post cards. Every movie that takes place here always shows a wide shot of the bridge. Everyone knows it, even if they were never here. There are always tourists stopping along it to snap photos of the suspension towers or the skyline of the city or a nice group photo of everyone in their pack. People will walk across just so they can turn around at the other end and head back to their car. Just to say they’ve been there. I was there, man. The night lights of the city breathe life into it. They reflect off the surface of the water and make a pattern of something you’d see in a modern art gallery. Little ripples of orange and blue and yellow breaking and forming a thousand at a time then dying out seconds later and replaced by the constant ocean surf that is there. The bridge was completed in 1937 and was the longest suspension bridge in the world until some ambitious engineers in New York built a longer one in 1964. The main span is 4200 feet long, and the two suspension towers stand at exactly 746 feet. And as it’s a suspension bridge, the deck that pedestrians use is held up by massive steel cables. If one were to break, the extra stress it would put on the other cables could potentially cause them to snap one after the other. The whole bridge would collapse into the bay like a marionette with the strings cut. It’s six lanes across the deck. The people in charge of running the bridge, the bridge people, also change the lane markers during peak traffic hours. So instead of three lanes going south and three going north, four go south into the city during the morning hours when everyone is heading to work, and four go north in the evening when everyone is racing out to get home. That’s clever. The bridge people who thought of that should be proud. The paint they use on the bridge is called “International Orange,” and they are always painting it. They use a special kind of paint that helps the bridge resist corrosion and rust. Special order
bridge paint, probably by the barrel. They start at both ends and work inward, and by the time they finish it, they have to start painting it again. So many layers of paint. “International Orange” paint. They picked the color because it’s easier to see in foggy weather. The fog can be so thick that you see nothing but more fog. The distance from the deck to the water is between 230 and 245 feet, dependent on the tide. The bridge is a popular spot for jumpers, people committing suicide by going to the bridge and letting go of it. It takes just about four seconds to hit the water. One. Two. Three. Four. Impact. The ocean water is cold, so cold it alone could kill you in minutes, even during the hot summer months. The shock of hitting icy cold water from 240 feet up is suffered by all jumpers. Most of them probably gasp in horror or pain and inhale water into their lungs. This is the drowning part. The bridge now has a reputation for jumpers. Everyone who walks across it has the thought of jumpers in their head, even if it’s just a quick little reminder that “people jump off of this. How about that?” Everyone knows it. The local newspapers don’t even bother covering them anymore—unless someone jumps and lives. It’s partly because they don’t want to encourage people who are thinking of doing it, but it’s also because people just don’t care about reading about them after decades of it going on nonstop. The average is a jumper every twelve days. The most popular location for jumpers is right in the middle of the bridge, lamp post 69. Right in the middle. The middle spot just feels right. Symmetry is nice. It’s pleasing to see something match up perfectly. It wouldn’t feel right to jump at a point that wasn’t symmetrically placed. It’s inelegant. It’s ugly. No one wants to jump off some crooked spot. Symmetry is nice. The local government is embarrassed about the reputation.
They put up fences and guardrails to try to stop jumpers. They have signs posted telling you you’ll will regret it, that people love you, that there is a better way. They have phones set up that you can use to talk to someone while a security guard races to their spot to talk you down or tackle you from the banister. Cameras originally meant to add security in a world of terrorism also watch for jumpers. They try to monitor and watch anyone who looks like they might jump. That’s because of the signs. They recognize these signs. Anyone walking alone and looking somber is a jumper. Anyone who’s dawdling around for too long or shuffling back and forth is a jumper. Anyone who’s remained in the same spot and stared down at the water multiple times is a jumper. Very few are actually crying or in tears before they jump. Most happen during the day, not at night like many would think. It’s in that mid-afternoon period between lunch and dinner. Most jump during mild weather. Very few occur during inclement weather, especially strong rainstorms. No one wants to have to walk in the rain. Most jumpers are men. Three-quarters are men. Women are a different breed when it comes to killing themselves. They prefer ways that are looked at as being less painful. Drug overdose. Idling the car in the garage. Men go for methods with more assurance of success. Jumping off a tall structure. Guns. Shotguns are popular. Buckshot moves faster than you can think. The average jumper is forty-one years old. Right in that mid-life crisis bracket. A lot are going through a depression. Maybe a depression of circumstance, like they lost their job or their wife left them, or one of their children died unfortunately and unexpectedly. Or it’s a depression of the self. Everyone knows those types. The ones who are on pills and therapy their whole lives and never, ever get better, no matter how many great things happen to them. Those people are naturally doomed. And a few are only old and feeble and have nothing left to live for, so they jump. Not terminal, just tired. Some of them have no next of kin, and so nobody identifies them, or mourns them. Like they never even happened. There are many people who travel to the city just to jump. They
fly in. Probably save on not having to check any luggage. Some take cabs to the bridge, get out, and walk to their favorite spot so they can jump. A lot of the local cab companies now will no longer take passengers there, because most jumpers stiff their drivers on the fare. Some won’t even take people near it, especially if they’re traveling alone and have no luggage. Other jumpers buy rental cars and leave them in the bridge’s parking lot while they head up to the walkway and jump. This is another sign the bridge people use to keep track of jumpers who were not witnessed by anyone. Ninetyfive percent of them die on impact. Another three percent later die of drowning, sharks, boat propellers, whatever. So two percent live. That would be one in fifty jumps. They’ve recorded 1,690 known jumpers, and thirty-four survivors. They’re always seriously injured. Broken legs. Collapsed lungs. Cracked vertebrae. Whatever body part hits the water first is the part that is the most damaged. The ones that hit head first are the ones that never survive. You need your head to live. The survivors always regret it. Or they are supposed to. They get interviewed by local stations and lament how “once my feet left the barrier, I wished I hadn’t jumped” to a polite lady journalist doing a human interest story. It must also be true of the people who jumped and died as well. Imagine the last four seconds of that life: The water quickly rushing to meet them and saying, “Hello,” and then they realize how awesome life is. They have an epiphany. They want to live and love and laugh. Impact. Dead. It’s not an actual jump. It’s a letting go. It’s a fall. But “jumper” is an easier term over “faller.” The best way to track them is the bodies. Merchant or Coast Guard vessels report any bodies they find. If they can, they’ll scoop them out. Fisherman sometimes take bets on who’ll find the most carcasses. They call them Bobs. This is because of the way the human body floats and bobs up and down in the rough ocean current. “Got another Bob out here” they call into their radios. Male, female, young, old. After scooping enough bloated corpses out of the water, they stop being Mike or Mary or Susan or Jacob and they
just become Bob. I didn’t fly into the city, and I didn’t take a cab or rent a car to get to the bridge. I don’t remember getting to the city. I was just there. I slept that night on a park bench with my hoodie folded into a nice pillow. A dog barked at me that morning, and I was back in the Presidio. I was given the President’s Knowledge Award in fifth grade. Everyone told me I was such a bright kid. “You’re going to go places, kid.” I wonder if they knew that “going to go places” included jumping from a metal bannister. I went to the beach and watched the waves break in and out. I dug a hole in the sand long enough to fit me and laid in it. Normal people wouldn’t want their sneakers or jeans wet and sandy, but it didn’t matter to me. My stomach grumbled throughout the day. No one bothered to tell my stomach where it would be by the end of the day. You need food, even if you are dying. You’re not supposed to want to do this. You are supposed to want to live. Tell yourself a thousand times, and it still means nothing. And as the sun was closing in on the horizon, I made my way directly to the bridge. You want this to happen. I want this to happen. You love your parents for what they did for you. You hate them for what they did to you. It’s such a beautiful bridge. I like the color. International Orange. It matches the setting sun. Everything was coming together just perfectly. And then it pops up next to you, lamp post 69. The symmetry is so nice. And the 6 and 9 are rotations of each other. That’s two kinds of symmetry. Just perfect. I used to be afraid of heights when I was little. Go to your death willingly, and the fears are all gone, especially the logical ones. We’re afraid of heights because we could die from it. No one could rightfully blame you if you had a fear of heights. It’s dangerous. A beautiful couple passed by me as I looked out into the bay and the city lights slowly began to fill in the water. They smiled at
me and said hello, and I smiled back and nodded to them. But their happiness only reflected my emptiness, and I lost that final bit of resistance. People who show their happiness openly are the worst. Keep it to yourself for the sake of others. This is not crazy. This is a normal reaction to everything around you. Going on, that would be crazy. This is just you doing the right thing. Now let go. Let go. Look out over the water and give up any control of anything, and all things will be right in the end. One last exhale of air. A tussle of the beard, cracking of the back. All in preparation of the thing to come. Preparation for nonexistence. It makes no sense, but you do it anyway. Climb over the bannister, peer down at the blue-gray wall beneath you, and let go. The first second is the shock. That sense of weightlessness. Falling is a downward float. Everything goes away. After that first second, you adapt, and it becomes nothing but wind. You are supposed to regret doing this by now. But you don’t. All you need to do is close your eyes so the wind doesn’t burn into them. The seconds don’t drag on for eternities. Life doesn’t flash before your eyes. There are no epiphanies. Nothing but that dry pain of the air rushing into your eyes. Don’t brace for impact, it’s not going to matter. Everything is going so well. A quick thought about what could have been if some little variable had changed. Maybe if I got more hugs. Maybe if I was or wasn’t breastfed. Maybe everything would be completely different if I never wore a green shirt. I should have studied harder. Never smoked weed. Been a team player. Stayed away from cottage cheese. Impact. And then everything becomes murky and dark and wet. When you’re concussed, you’re not sure if you’re looking at the sunset through the water surface or the stained glass windows of some artful church canopy. The salty brine seeps into every little crack and swallows you whole. The toxic sting of pain that starts from the legs finds the brain, and it quickly becomes impossible to think. And that means there is nothing else.
I couldn’t feel the water moving over my arms and head, up my nose and into my ears. I couldn’t sense the coldness or pressure. I couldn’t tell if I was sinking, or what my name was. I couldn’t count to ten. I couldn’t even figure out the blackness. Even the blackness goes away from you, and then nothingness fades in. I could smell movie-theater popcorn for one last moment. And then nothing. Then I was Bob. 68
Mirage 2016 ANNIE
First Place, Nonfiction Competition Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration
The isolation, the dirt, the flies, the manure, the communality of death, and the tapestry of animal suffering are all part of the ebb and flow of the family rancho. This ugliness competes with the commanding beauty of the brown and green mesas. When the short rainy period storms into our desert, we are overwhelmed by the urgent fertility of every living thing in our realm. It is an orgy of frantic toads, humming insects, operatic song birds, trudging tortoises, and pairs of bounding jack rabbits. Mosquitos fly in squadrons, along with flies and flying ants. Bees and hornets swarm to enlarge their kingdoms. The backdrop changes to an urgent verdancy with ferocious, brutally armed flora. If it is green, it will stab, scratch, or tear your flesh. The water swells the cacti to epic girth, and the thorny mesquite and cat claw trees boldly encroach onto the dirt roads. The sapphire blue sky is empty or dotted with white cumulus clouds. In the space of a few breaths, the sky fills with menacing slate blue clouds and deadly strikes of electric fire. A rider on a horse is the tallest thing on the top of the mesa among the barrel cactus and ocotillo. If he is struck down, he may not be found for days. My family lives alone. Our nearest neighbors are two miles away. But we don’t know any other way to live. My children and I thrive here. No amount of inconvenience can make the monsoons any less glorious. The luxury of surface water is too exquisite. “The cows sure look pretty when the desert puts her wedding dress on,” I said over my right shoulder to my seven-year-old son, Will. My horse shied a little to the right when a jet black baby calf jumped out of hiding from the five-foot-tall wall of careless weeds on the left side of the dirt road. “Goddamn it, Annie,” I said when I kicked her out of the interlocking trees and bushes on the right side of the small road. I had a nasty scratch on my right thigh and also on my right ankle. The
flies immediately found the blood. Will involuntarily clamped tight to my belly and his heels clinched into Annie’s sweaty brown flanks. Annie humped up and tried to bolt. I pulled back on her reins reflexively, stopping her, and asked Will to loosen his death grip on both of us. The little terrified calf was in a full-out bawling sprint with our two young, and therefore foolish, border collies in hot pursuit. The calf ’s tail was held straight up like an elephant’s trunk as he and the dogs vanished into the brush on the right side of the road about a hundred feet in front of us. I didn’t call the dogs back. It was a beautiful morning, and I sort of felt like chasing things myself. I also knew there was no need to worry about the calf. Within seconds, the first and then the second dog awkwardly fell, or more accurately, flew backwards out of the weeds. Their strange method of travel was soon explained by the cow, ear tag number 90 Yellow. The calf ’s mother was displeased with the juvenile delinquency of the stupid dogs. Enough was enough—90 Yellow tossed her head at me twice, clearly asking if I wanted a piece of her too. I declined, and she disappeared back into her refuge from the sun. Will asked if he could ride in front of me. “No.” “Why not?” “Because you always snivel that your balls hurt. Then I’ll have to stop and drag you right back to where you are now,” I said with finality. “But I can’t see,” Will whined. “Well, if you weren’t such a pansy, you’d be on your own horse right now.” Will was silent. Sweat trickled down my back. We both reeked of insect repellent and SPF 50. Some droplets of sweat ran into my eyes from under my beat-up straw cowboy hat. My eyes burned from the chemicals and salt. The sting was bad enough to cause my nose to run. I couldn’t wipe it on my sweaty right shoulder because it wouldn’t be doing my nose any favors. I was just wearing a sports bra and miniscule spandex shorts.
That is how ranch women sunbathe. I wear swim suit-like apparel and lavishly apply sunscreen combined with insect repellent when I switch irrigation pipe, clean out pivot sprinklers, drive the tractor, or ride my horse on a vuelty. Vuelty is bastardized Spanish for a taking a big look around the ranch. I always wear a traditional cowboy hat so I won’t get skin cancer or, even worse, wrinkles. On this particular vuelty, I was not getting much sweet air on my back since Will stubbornly refused to ride his own horse. Will doesn’t like to ride alone when we ride “naked.” This is how he refers to the horse’s saddleless state, not to my lack of a proper riding habit. I also ride barefoot. Why else would I paint my toe nails? I do wear a t-shirt around my neck in case I ride up on someone. This is not likely. I was currently checking things out in a five-thousand-acre pasture. We are so isolated, we don’t even have curtains on our windows. Will had seen Vern, our crop analyst, in field number 3 this morning. “What if Vern sees you, Mom?” This was asked with much anxiety. I turned sideways on Annie’s back and looked him in the eye. “I don’t care. Vern has a mother, too.” “But, Mom.” “Will, I am wearing more than I do at a swimming pool.” Annie stopped abruptly, and my pubic bone rammed painfully onto the bony arch of her withers, just like a bad bicycle mishap. Will compounded this by ramming behind me from the sudden halt. “What the hell?” I gasped. Annie’s ears were at attention. Her head was up like a stick pony. Every muscle trembled against my legs, telegraphing her fear. There was a man standing in the road. His large black eyes met mine, and he smiled. A quick flash of straight white teeth. His black hair was cut short, what I could see of it under his hat. The straw hat was new, in much better shape than mine. He was wearing a chambray Western-cut shirt and jeans. Both were lightly starched
and beautifully ironed. He filled them out like an athlete. This was no mojado—he didn’t walk here from my fence line. He could only have come from a vehicle, and that meant the river bed. He must have been trapped by new flooding in a normally dry and passable wash. I knew he was a narco, the Spanish term for the wealthiest members of the impoverished class. He could be trafficking in people, drugs, whatever. This was not the time or place to find out. The new undocumented immigrants are not impoverished farm workers desperately seeking work after walking hundreds of miles through our unforgiving environment. The new smugglers are dangerous people. One of my neighbors was shot in his wash just last year, and he was armed. They even shot his dog. They shot Robby in the back while he was radioing his brother back at ranch headquarters for medical assistance and a possible flight-for-life. He had ridden up on a group of men laying on their bellies in the warm sand, and my neighbor thought they needed medical attention. Considering my current state of hygiene, I looked so ridiculous that offering a reward or lure of a ransom would be laughable. He probably thought I was homeless. “Perdoname. I want your horse. I have an appointment and I am late.” I pondered the wisdom of dismounting and standing helpless in front of this man. Mercy would not be a factor in his decision process. My right arm wrapped around Will’s slim waist. I held the reins with my left hand. My only advantage was that I knew what he didn’t. How to run through the desert turned jungle. “Just a moment—I have to get my son down first.” I turned to the right and grasped Will tightly with my right arm. Then I spun Annie to the right and straight into the tangle. I felt the three shots before I heard them. The first one struck Annie. I felt the push of the impact and Annie grunted. Annie suddenly ran without restraint. The bit was in her teeth, and she was flying. Will stiffened and hugged his head low between my shoulder blades. My left
shoulder burned, and my arm and hand went numb. I was losing the battle to hold the reins with my fingers, so I put the reins in my teeth. When I hit the road to the corn field, I headed straight through the corn. No one can see through a corn field. I knew I was safe. Then Annie fell. Will was thrown, and Annie rolled clear of me. There was blood coating both of her sides, her tail was red with it. I thought she was dying. I scrambled towards her to search her for a wound, but she got back up to her feet, breathing heavily from her run. She had tripped on a wheel rut and seemed to still be rideable. Both of us were black with mosquitos. I found Will about three feet away. Blood was pumping from his abdomen and red froth was coming from his mouth. He was not moving at all. “Oh, God. Oh, God!” I threw his fifty-two pounds up over Annie’s neck and swung up behind him. I let Annie run home unguided, while I applied pressure to his visceral wound. As we came to Juan’s, the first ranch home, I begged, “Whoa.” Annie slid to a stop. My obedient Annie. I screamed for help, pulled Will´s body off her neck, and worked on my son. He was breathing, and he had a pulse but it was shallow. He was pale, so pale. I was keeping the blood from leaking out of his body with my hand, but he was bleeding into his abdominal cavity. “Please God, Please, please, please, please.” It seemed to take hours, but the response time was under fifteen minutes. Juan had called 911. I knew that this was a great personal risk for him. Juan had no papers, two children, and a wife. I looked up and saw the helicopter coming for us. I glanced around and saw Annie slowly crumple. Blood was dripping from her nostrils. I chose to stay with my son and continued to watch Annie begin the slow lazy leg movement that signaled that death was not far. Juan was about to flee, but he looked down at my lovely mare and knelt by her head. He told her of horse heaven, green pastures, no hard work. He spoke in Spanish, the language of God. Juan stayed with my brave Annie long after she had died.
Mirage 2016 BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
Mary Alexander Growing up in a peripatetic family and then being an Air Force wife forged a desire for Mary Alexander to see the world. She has traveled on five continents, lived seven years abroad, yet claims southern Arizona as her home. She retired after twenty-five years as a career clinical social worker. She writes from her experiences with many cultures and locales. 75
Vienna Baker Vienna Baker is a local aspiring artist. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Arizona in 2011 and specializes in painting and printmaking. She occasionally teaches art workshops for the Center for Lifelong Learning. Pamela Blunt Pamela Blunt divides her time between Bisbee and the magical Sonoran Desert near Tucson. She loves the arts and has written poetry since she was a child. As far as she is concerned, it doesn’t get much better than a hike with her husband and her dogs. She is a psychotherapist and is currently the national Executive Director of the Sensory Awareness Foundation, a mindfulness approach she’s practiced since 1980. Steve Bovee “Steve Bovee lives and works [sic] in Cochise County.” Lynda Coole Lynda Coole strives to capture moments with consideration and respect for negative space. Lavendra Copen Lavendra Copen is a native Arizonan, educated in New Mexico, tempered in New York City, and gratefully living and growing organic vegetables in the Huachuca Mountain foothills. The granddaughters she has raised are becoming young women, and she hopes her poetry is maturing, too.
David Day David Day has lived in and photographed Bisbee for twenty years. He is continuously amused and often astounded by the ever-changing and quirky nature of the town. Lately, David has been photographing in Cochise County with the iPhone camera using the "Hipstamatic" application. He intends to create of book from the images. Dave loves to share his photographs on Facebook and Flickr, and has shown his work in several Bisbee galleries. Michael Erickson Michael Erickson’s grandfather passed on to him his love for writing and storytelling. His parents encouraged him in his passion for music and history. He and his family are long-time residents of Hereford, Arizona. You can most likely find him in his studio writing and recording his stories and songs. He claims,“Most of my stories are true.” Russell Gillespie Russell (Catdaddy) Gillespie graduated with a BFA from Arizona State University in 1981. Over the years, he has had several group, two-man, and solo exhibits throughout Arizona and New Mexico. He has taught air brush at Eastern Arizona College, and is currently showing his work at Hoppin’ Grapes in Sierra Vista as well as at Magnetic Threads and Heather Green Studio and Gallery in Bisbee, Arizona. Loren Gladwill Loren Gladwill is a journalism student at Cochise College. He grew up in Douglas, where he has always had a fascination for the beauty of the desert in Cochise County. Loren has aspired to be a writer from the time he was young, writing stories and mock novels to delight his family. He now spends his time writing about the world around him and taking photographs with his wife and son.
Beth Ann Krueger Some of Beth Ann Krueger’s favorite birds are Gila woodpeckers, cactus wrens, dark-eyed juncos, ospreys, house finches, gnatcatchers, and hummingbirds of all types. She grew up in Maine, has lived in various places, and enjoys hiking, reading, photography, and sketching.
Gary Lawrence Gary Lawrence is a published short-story author with an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He currently teaches composition and creative writing for Glendale (AZ) Community College (online) and composition for Cochise College (face-to-face, Sierra Vista). Gary’s collection of short stories, Baffled, was published in 2013. He was interviewed by NPR in 2014 and most recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Short Story America Prize competition for “Eagle River.” Pamela Lee Pamela Lee has lived in Turkey, Italy, Iran, and Argentina, as well as in eight different states, including Hawaii. She has traveled extensively, climbed mountains, led ski tours, flown airplanes, run marathons, and taught high school English. Sharon Lee Sharon is a professional English tutor at Cochise College, Douglas campus. Her visual arts include painting, photography, animation, graphic design, and fabric arts. She attended Pratt Institute in New York City and lives in Bisbee, Arizona. R.J. Luce R.J. (Bob) Luce was a wildlife biologist in Wyoming before retiring to Arizona. He lives near the San Pedro River and photographs the river in all seasons. He has provided photos for books, outdoor magazines, and wildlife field guides. He has also written two outdoor mystery books and a photo-essay book: River of Life, Four Seasons along Arizona’s Rio San Pedro.
Phillip C. Micheau Art has always come natural to Phil and has been one of his favorite endeavors. Phil’s medium of choice is colored pencils, but he also likes to work with graphite pencil and ink. Descriptors of Phil’s style include “patient and detailed.” His philosophy of art is that he can interpret, on paper, anything that moves him visually. Phil’s goals are to continue growing technically and creatively, and to establish himself in the greater art community. Larry Milam Larry Milam lives and works from his home in the hills of Old Bisbee. He is a professional freelance illustrator, creating images by hand with scratchboard and ink, and his work has a natural woodcut look. He has done many logos and sign designs in Bisbee and Cochise County. His personal interests also include block printing, stencil art, photography, and hiking. Francisco J. Moreno Francisco J. Moreno uses his camera to capture aesthetic experiences that he wishes to share with everyone. Cathy Murphy Cathy Murphy is a photographer who teaches digital media art classes at Cochise College part-time. She lives on the mountainside in Bisbee with her doggies: Rosie, and Peaches Marie. Her work may be found on-line in the Historical Division of Getty Images. Robert Myers Robert Myers is twenty-nine years old and originally from Flagstaff, Arizona. He is currently attending Cochise College trying to complete his goal of becoming a mechanical engineer.
Ruby Odell Ruby Odell has lived in Bisbee for several years now and is thriving in the creative energy. She comes from Los Angeles and has written poems for about twenty-five years—some good, some not. She is also a painter, a collage artist, and a dancer crazy for drums! Ruby is grateful to be among you in this time of such concern and grief, reflection, and joy! 79
Pat O’Hare After living in Tucson for fifteen years, Pat O’Hare decided that her bliss lay in Cochise County. She has been writing since she was eight years old, when she actually wrote a murder mystery. Mystery is her forte, and poetry comes a close second, and to have her short stories put into a book has been her fondest hope. At seventy-one, she still works in Sierra Vista and lives with her four cats in Whetstone. Lindsay Janet Roberts Lindsay Janet Roberts teaches art at the high-school level. She has a BFA from CCAD and a M.Ed. from the U of A. Having a huge passion for recycled art, she likes to work in many different mediums, experimenting alongside her students. She has a passion for the Sea of Cortez and its wildlife. She is a desert rat, as well as a sailor, and has been working on a portfolio of underwater photography. Dan Rollins Dan Rollins aspires to grab the attention of his viewing audience with his original (and sometimes rather unusual) works of digital fine art and digital abstract art. With no formal education in computers or art, he just “wings it” on his home computer, netting him numerous local awards. Each of his digital pieces had its birth as a photograph taken by Dan himself, and the finished product is nothing but Modern Maturity!
Andrea Savage Andrea (Ande) Savage didn’t set out to be a photographer, but her passion to express herself evolved into a pursuit to document her world through photographs. She doesn’t photograph subjects; rather, she photographs the way they make her feel. Her camera is a canvas, and the light she uses to capture each image is her paintbrush. It gives her great pleasure to create and make bodies of work that push her creative boundaries. James Schrimpf James Schrimpf is a Nogales photographer who has been published in Arizona Highways Magazine and was the cover photographer for Discover Southern Arizona Magazine and Mirage Magazine. His photographs were featured during the annual Chicago Artist's Month. His “Icons and Totems” series was displayed in a one-man show in Santa Cruz County. His photos were published by Nikon Camera Corporation. James was a high-school photography teacher for twenty years. William C. Smith William lives with his dog, Allie, and tries to be creative. Bonnelyn Thwaits Bonnelyn Thwaits is a rural veterinarian for all creatures, large and small. She has lived with her family at their ranch in Benson, Arizona, since 1998. Bonnelyn is grateful for the tremendous support of her mentors, teachers, and long-suffering husband. She is blessed to have been gifted to live such a charmed and joyful life in such a caring and sometimes crazy community.
Mirage 2016 SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
General Information: Submissions are accepted from Cochise College students and residents of Cochise and Santa Cruz Counties in Arizona. All entries must be the original work of the person or persons submitting them. Each person may submit up to five pieces of writing and five works of art. 81
Writers and artists who wish to have their works considered for publication must submit their works for the year in which they are solicited. The Mirage staff will evaluate only works submitted specifically for the upcoming issue of the magazine. Writers and artists are welcome to resubmit material that was not previously accepted for publication. However, they should also consider submitting fresh works that represent their most recent and accomplished artistic achievements. Works are selected for publication via an anonymous process: Each submission is judged without disclosure of the writer’s or artist’s name. The staff of Mirage reserves the right to revise language, correct grammar and punctuation, revise formatting, and abridge content of any literary work, including the biographies of writers and artists. In matters of mechanics and style, the Mirage staff defers to A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers. The staff also reserves the right to crop, re-size, and modify works of visual art in any way deemed necessary to ready them for inclusion in the magazine.
If you do not receive an email acknowledgement within a week of submitting your work, it is possible that your submission was not received, and we suggest that you contact Cochise College by phone for verification: 520-515-0500. Submissions must be sent via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Requirements for All Submissions: A single cover sheet must accompany submissions with the following information: • • • • • •
submitter’s name address phone number email a list of the titles of all works a brief autobiographical statement of seventy-five words or fewer, written in the third person
To preserve anonymity during the selection process, no name should appear on the entry itself. Please submit works in electronic form. Submissions should be sent as attachments and not included in the body of the email. Requirements for Prose: Prose must be submitted as Microsoft Word document files, using Times New Roman font, size 12. Prose must be double spaced. Unless unique formatting is integral to the piece, literary works should be aligned on the left margin and not printed in all upper-case letters. There is a 4,000-word limit for prose entries.
Requirements for Poetry: Poetry must be submitted as Microsoft Word document files, using Times New Roman font, size 12. Single spacing is permissible for poetry. Unless unique formatting is integral to the piece, poems should be aligned on the left margin and not printed in all upper-case letters. There is a 2,000-word limit for poetry entries. 83
Requirements for Visual Art: Artwork and photographs must have titles or must be identified as “Untitled.” If necessary, artists should indicate correct orientation. When taking photographs of artwork for submission, pay attention to lighting and orientation in order to prevent shadowing, glare, skewing, or unintentional cropping. Artwork and photographs must be sent as digital files. Compression: Please do not compress photos when emailing them. Compressed photos lose information that cannot be restored. It is not like zipping or stuffing files; photos cannot be “unzipped” or “unstuffed.” Many programs will automatically downsize photos for emailing and viewing on a computer screen, but there is usually an option for sending the photo without reducing its size. Please choose that option.
Resolution: Printing on a press requires high resolution: What looks good on a computer screen or from a laser printer will not necessarily look good when printed on a press. An image copied from a webpage will not have the proper resolution. Files of artwork need to be at a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch (DPI) and at 100% of its original size. Photos should be at east 6 x 9 inches. A minimum resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels in
JPEG format is best. Any attempt to resize or resample may cause problems because print resolution will depend on how we ultimately size the photo for the magazine. The minimum size is important. If, for example, a photo is only 640 x 480 pixels, it is too small for the magazine. IMPORTANT: Unless digital photographs of art are submitted according to the guidelines above, the magazine cannot use them. Where to send submissions: email@example.com
LITERARY & ARTS MAGAZINE 2 0 1 6
Cochise College's Literary & Arts Magazine