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Eleven Rivers Review Vo l u m e 2 , I s s u e 2 Fa ll 2016


Eleven Rivers Review Palo Alto College Student Arts and Literature

Volume 2, Issue 2 Fall 2016

Cover Art “Untitled” Acrylic paint on stretched canvas John Anthony Esparza

Eleven Rivers Review is a biannual student-sourced publication that highlights the creativity of Palo Alto College’s diverse student community. Our name is an homage to the Texas rivers from which our campus buildings take their names.

The works selected for Eleven Rivers Review represent the views of the student contributors, not necessarily the views of Palo Alto College. All selections are printed with the permission of the authors and artists cited. Copyright reverts to the authors and artists immediately after publication.


Acknowledgements The ERR thanks everyone who made this issue possible Cakky Brawley, Professor of Art Dr. Alba De Leon, Professor of Art Dr. Rafael Castillo, Professor of English Dimona Esparza, Senior Multimedia Specialist Dr. Mike Flores, Palo Alto College President Violeta Garza, Librarian/Editor Vicente Guillot, English Department Chair Mark Hogensen, Lead Professor of Art Dr. Mary-Ellen Jacobs, Dean of Arts and Sciences Shirley Lejia, Financial Aid Associate Director Diane Lerma, Education Instructor Karen Mahaffey, Assistant Professor of Art Caroline Mains, Freshman Composition Lead Instructor Erica Meza, Coordinator of Communications Thomas Murguia, Tutoring Services Coordinator Dr. Denise Richter, Professor of Journalism Matilda Staudt, INRW Lead Instructor Beth Tanner, Vice President of Academic Success Juan Tejeda, Mexican-American Studies Instructor Peter Van Dusen, Professor of Philosophy Lloyd Walsh, Associate Professor of Art and many others

Editorial Staff Student Editors

Staff Editors

Nathan Cantu

Hunter Bates

Andrea Gonzalez

Alyssa De La O

Joshlynn Hilburn

Abraham Rodriguez

Arthur Rangel


Table of Contents Untitled / John Anthony Esparza........................................................................................ Cover Consciousness / Kimberly Bustos ............................................................................................. 5 I Saw You Today / Joshlynn Hilburn ........................................................................................ 6 Campsite Sunset / Angeline Macias .......................................................................................... 7 You / Kathleen Hinojosa ........................................................................................................... 8 Michael Speaks / Sean Campos ................................................................................................ 9 Greenhouse / Katherine Treco................................................................................................. 10 Dusk / Nathan Cantu ............................................................................................................... 11 The Moment Nature and Mind Became One / David Perez Jr. ................................................ 12 My Trampoline / Celeste Pena ................................................................................................ 13 Cliffside / Melissa Croom ....................................................................................................... 14 On The Edge / Julia Ridenour ................................................................................................ 15 Overthinking / Nathan Cantu .................................................................................................. 16

3:05AM / Mariah Trevino ....................................................................................................... 17 Looking Up / Summer Dinscore ............................................................................................. 18 Beautiful Swagger / Justin Hernandez..................................................................................... 19 Glimmer of Eradication / Jasmine Trevino.............................................................................. 20 Riptide / Nalette Rondon ........................................................................................................ 21 Your Tiny Cardboard World / Nalette Rondon ....................................................................... 22 The Day After / Andrea Gonzalez ........................................................................................... 23 Fine Rain / Melissa Croom ................................................................................................ 24-25 Mr. Scruffaluffagus / Erica Salas ............................................................................................ 26

Helena and Her Son / Sean Campos ................................................................................... 27-29 Looking Away / Summer Discore ........................................................................................... 30 To Whom It May Concern, This Is How I Want To Die / Katherine Treco ........................ 31-32 The Key To Knowledge / Quinn Picard .................................................................................. 33 Untitled / Jasmine Trevino ...................................................................................................... 34 Coping With Hurricane Katrina: 11 Years Later / Vincent Stripling .................................. 35-37 Cotton Candy / Kathleen Hinojosa .......................................................................................... 38 The Time I Was A Mosquito / Sean Campos .......................................................................... 39 Nature Takeover #1 / Nalette Rondon ..................................................................................... 40 Satyr Girl / Kimberly McCollon ............................................................................................. 41 Afghanistan / George Cielencki ............................................................................................. 42 The Cost Of Freedom / Valerie Cervantes.......................................................................... 43-44 Sean Campos Tribute / ERR Staff ...................................................................................... 45-46


Consciousness Clay Kimberly Bustos 5


I Saw You Today Joshlynn Hilburn

I saw you today.

I saw. You were

How do you do that?

With your friends and

You make my heart flutter

We made eye contact more

Even when all I can think about

Than once. I smiled extra hard when

Is the last time we saw each other.

I noticed your eyes on me. I want you to

Your fingers were in me, my lips on yours. Know that I’m perfectly fine without you. I’m And the next day, you pushed me away Moving on. Did you notice my happiness? and I was Are you Jealous? Gone. I I saw you. Am not You grew your Over you though. Hair out and you still My Heart still flutters Were beardless. You changed Whenever I see your face. And stayed the same all at once. Crazy But then I remember the sadness How time flies. One moment, we’re falling you caused me. The pain of our memories For each other, and the next, I “complain too much” consumes me once again. Why does this still hurt? Strange. Why?

I saw you today. And for once, I wish I hadn’t.


Campsite Sunset Photography Angeline Macias 7


You Digital Art Kathleen Hinojosa


Michael Speaks Sean Campos

So slick, but you slipped and all of heaven watched. Seriously, Lucifer? I've wanted all you've had since Sodom; since Chicago, Babylon. But you threw it all away, didn't you? Pathetic loser! Prideful, deaf to Gabriel's horn that warned you I was coming. “Let's help them,” so you said, then dragged them into darker beds instead of letting angels put them in their place as the trash they are, wandering the streets in search of a much darker retreat. “He doesn't do enough,” you said so confident; and now you’re cast down instead with my spear shoved through your head. So fallen. We all laugh at you. You cared for Adam and fell apart and now his people take your heart and bite it. Was it worth it? You fag, fallen angel, wingless, just a boy destroyed by your own toys.

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Greenhouse Katherine Treco

I’ll be whatever it is you need me to be. I’ll be a sweet, soft place for you to land, velvet like a gardenia I’ll give you something solid, soil that will get stuck underneath your fingernails, warm and damp I’ll be demure and traditional for your family, quiet and safe like baby’s breath Or I’ll be a dyed orchid, neon and midnight, as loud as I can be in a whisper. I’ll stain my lips with black-red cherry I’ll emit the fragrance of pomegranate and peony, or maybe citrus with cedar and tea rose, if I have a new bottle I’ll be a cactus if I forget to shave my legs

I’ll try to give you the same warmth I feel from the scent of thyme and rosemary, The same hunger from cinnamon that makes your mouth water I’ll grow mangos and bananas for you, reap limes for mojitos I’ll try to make you understand, remind you of what is real like wet grass in the morning, But I don’t know if I’ll reach you from across the yard I’ll try to be as reliable as the pansies my mother grows, as pretty as your mothers crepe myrtle bush I’ll be pastel blue in the new spring, faded green in the summer heat, burnt orange in the fall chill, and lose it all in the winter until I’m bare, If it makes you happy to see the change I’ll be a Texas Pecan. I’ll be palm tree in California. I’ll be a cherry blossom across the sea in Tokyo.

Change doesn’t frighten me. The only thing I’m rooted to in this life is you. I’ll be whatever it is you need me to be. Just put me in a pot and take me with you.


Dusk Digital Art Nathan Cantu 11


The Moment Mind and Nature Became One Photography David Perez


My Trampoline Celeste Pena A cool breeze caressed my face as I stepped out into the midnight air. Standing on the cold concrete of my mother’s patio, I gazed into the yard until a structure appeared. Metal poles covered in blue and green foam made up its frame, bringing a childlike sense of fun to an otherwise cold material. Bare feet met chilled, damp grass as I cautiously approached it, hoping my clumsiness did not cause me to slip on my brief journey. A wide net enclosed the top half of the large structure now worn down with years of use. It reminded me of when I was just a child how I would play on it for hours, just laughing and exerting my excess energy. Standing before the opening in the net, my hands grasped the smooth blue material covering the springs and connecting the octagonal canvas to the frame. I slowly hoisted myself and rolled gracelessly inside. The night sky greeted me kindly as the stars winked merrily in the endless skyway.

I know that this is the best place for me. Such a simple thing, yet it holds such significance for me in that it allows me to think clearly and know what needs to be done and how to do it. This is my sanctuary, the place that I go to calm down and get a clear head: my trampoline.

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Cliffside Melissa Croom

I think it is time I let go. My fingers ache from clutching the edge for far too long; the stench of fertile soil is suffocating, what, with my face being buried and all.

Besides, I’ve watched rocks tumble down past me, and what I thought was the roar of a landslide was only my stomach growling. I am a foolish woman: blinded by my own sweat and tears, deaf to my own advice, unable to grasp reality because my fingers ache from clutching the edge for far too long. I think it is time I let go.


On the Edge Photography Julia Ridenour 15


Overthinking Digital Art Nathan Cantu


3:05 AM Mariah Trevino

I remember as a child the days being endless, The nights ceasing to exist. Loneliness swaddled me like a blanket just out of the dryer, The only comfort I owned. I am afraid now of the dark,

Afraid the sun will set before the day is done. Time. Time. Time. I fear this world is getting smaller, The possibilities coming to a halt. I stray myself from sleep and watch the stars glisten and imagine the eyes of a young child that I never was. I love so much but cannot seem to find the heart from which it generates. Where is my heart? Time. Time. Time.

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Looking Up Photography Summer Dinscore


Beautiful Swagger Justin Lee Hernandez

These thoughts are my own desolation. Her admiration is my pure desire. My heartbeat is cold like it is made of ice. So give me some space or you’ll feel the fire. Her beautiful look is what I admire. But there’s no eye contact because I’m way too weak. When I’m with you I’m invincible Because a beautiful swagger is your mystique.

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Glimmer of Eradication Photography Jasmine Trevino


Riptide Polymer Clay and Glass Nalette Rondon 21


Your Tiny Cardboard World Nalette Rondon

I found you in a box. You were small, crying, and alone, for your brothers and sisters had disappeared from your tiny, cardboard world. I took you, box and all. You cried the whole way home. You just wanted to sit in my lap. You just wanted to know you weren't alone. I just wanted to know you'd be getting home safe. I kept asking myself, "what will Dad think?" It was hard not to love you as I watched you outgrow your box and grow into your large, clumsy paws, and as I watched your round, puppy belly grow lean and muscular. You were smart and gentle, and I never let you be alone. You watched me grow, too, little one. You watched my world shift and my emotions get the best of me. You watched me cry, and you made sure I was never alone. You made sure I always knew that you'd be waiting for me when I got home after a long, hard day. Until you weren't. I watched you curl up and suffer. I tried to make you comfortable, but you just wanted to be beside me. I tried to hold you as you slept, my hand pressed to your chest, fearing that I'd have to feel your last heartbeats, but you began to seize. You began to crumble away and I couldn't just hold you and hope. You didn't die at home, comfortably. You passed on a cold, metal table, with your head pressed to my chest and your ever-trusting eyes letting me know that everything would be alright. I held you for so long. They told me to take my time, and I did. I kept searching for your heartbeat, I clung to your warmth, panicking as it faded. I buried my face in the crook of your neck like you had done for me so many times. You were gone. Harder yet was leaving you alone on that cold table. Leaving that place empty handed and heavy hearted. But hardest of all was sitting in my car and looking over at your box that I had never bothered to take out, and that you had long outgrown. Your tiny cardboard world.


The Day After Photography Andrea Gonzalez 23


Fine Rain Melissa Croom Years ago

and slippery walkways

we took classroom worksheets

to stand in awe of the ice

folded them into paper boats

delicately encasing tiny tender twigs

and ran down wet walkways

and growing teeth

in gentle autumn rain

along the edge of the roof

standing at the curbside

and when noses stung and fingers fumbled

to cast away red X’s

we’d shuffle home

down sloshing streams of run-off

to a hot shower

knowing full well

and hot chocolate

those failing grades

and blankets fresh out of the dryer

would disappear into the drainage

and we were fine with that.

just around the corner and we were fine with that.

Weeks ago I watched you leave

Years ago

in misty breezes

we put on ratty tattered tennis shoes

never worried about the rain

walked around the neighborhood

because we’ve always braved the storms.

in the summer downpours

But an unseen tidal wave

without rainbow umbrellas

drowned me at midnight.

cringing at every lightning flash

I heard you in the distance

our hands over our ears

only for a moment and then you were lost at sea.

when thunder trembled sometimes too scared to go the distance so we would flee for home and we were fine with that. Years ago we poured ourselves into winter jackets and braved the freezing drizzle

For days I couldn’t find you but you didn’t want to be found content to linger on an island beach your first touch of sunshine

breaking through heavy iron clouds.


Someone told me the sun still shines when you smile, but I always saw sunbeams on your lips. And while torrents weigh me down as I struggle to stay afloat and catch my breath, I think of you ‌ folding boats from classroom notes squeaking wet soles on dry linoleum fighting with a sticking jacket zipper wondering if you have an umbrella for the approaching rains and trying to convince myself we will be fine with that. --*--

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Mr. Scruffaluffagus Letter and Photo Erica Salas

You’re a driven, bulls-by-the-horn man. I love you because you challenge me in the best of ways and from that I have grasped so much in the time we

have spent together. I’m eternally grateful, even more grateful to call you my best friend. Matthew, I’ll always be here for you until the end of time, as you are for me. Our bond is indomitable. Not only are we raising our family, but also building our life together.


Helena and Her Son Sean Campos

Helena marveled over the things her son was learning. He would rise very early in the morning, eager to study with his tutors. She would prepare him a simple breakfast of cereal and eggs, even though the court provided them more lavish food at no cost. He would drink his milk, grab his book and tablets, and run off to study. With the same alacrity, he would run back in the middle of the day with his tunic gripping his knees. Once, the tunic became tangled around him and he fell sliding into the dirt, scraping off skin from his cheek. But he simply dusted himself off and continued running towards Helena like a wobbly bull. He usually went straight to the table, again set with cereal, though sometimes a little piece of ham or beef.

Helena never had an education. She weaved with her mother and sister in the morning. In the afternoons, she would go with her mother to the small houses overlooking the water. They would clean and perhaps prepare a lunch or dinner for the women waiting for their husbands to come back from fishing. In the evening, she and her mother would come home while her sister started the evening stew made with whatever vegetables they could afford that day. Sometimes the stew was just turnips or onions with a piece of bread. But even when the food was done by nightfall, no one would eat until father came home. He gambled and drank away much of what the family earned. On some days he would bring home whole chickens. Others, he would lose tapestries that took the women weeks to construct. Until one day he just never came home at all. For weeks, they

27


suffered in uncertainty. Dinners grew cold and went uneaten. They still weaved, but all stayed home waiting for his return. It wasn’t until the third day that they heard the news. Fishermen came to knock on their door with eager hands and smiles forced to look like frowns. A body resembling him had washed ashore. His throat was cut. One fisherman grabbed his crotch and noted that three lonely females could not protect themselves. Helena lunged at him with a fish knife, but accidentally cut the fingers of another, older fisherman.

He bit his finger and sucked on the blood. When the amount he swallowed told him the cut was a deep one, he tore a piece of his tunic away and wrapped it around his fingers to stop the bleeding. “You stupid whore! What have I ever done to you? How am I supposed to go out fish-

ing tomorrow? I have a family to feed!”

Helena was terrified at what she had done and vowed to never use violence again. Her mother pushed her aside and reached for the man who had grabbed himself, pulling him into the small apartment they all occupied. The rest dispersed. For years the rude fisherman grabbed at Hele-

na’s thighs and tugged at her garments, but she would never betray her mother. She threw herself into the weaving and kept an eye on her younger sister when the rude fisherman was around. Her mother took to wine, and the sisters took to tapestry. As far as father went, only Helena had bothered to view the corpse washed ashore. It was bloated and the flesh was pulling away from the bone. Still she knew it wasn’t him. The man was much too short and his hair too long. But she told everyone it was her

father because, deep down, she knew he wasn’t coming back. Every weekend, Helena took her sister out to market to try to sell the tap-


estries, mostly to get her away from him. By this time, the sisters’ works were admired by even the finest houses in their town. But still she hoped for a larger market. So imagine her surprise when a young soldier from Rome came to her stall. He had dark, over-emphasized features with a tough Grecian jaw. He had the worn tunic of a soldier and fresh scars to go with it. He was certainly exotic. And on his wrist, he wore a silver bracelet he had won in Syria. She had won an identical bracelet from her father after he came home from a night of gambling, testing her virtue. It was fate that the two should fall in love.

Helena was lost in these past thoughts, but they faded away as soon as her son spoke while coming up for air from his meal:

“Mother! We made our way through the most brilliant piece of Cicero. But today, we started on a poet named Ovid! He talks about Chaos and the unnamed being that brought Earth and Night and Love and Ocean out of him!” The boy continued to speak of the Cosmos between mouthfuls of grain and shreds of greasy ham. “It’s so brilliant! I hate to admit that Ovid pleases me even more than Virgil. Is that a sin to say? Let me tell you the

story!”

As her son gasped for air, she beamed. Their new status had given him the education she never had. But while he was eating, she thought of one contribution her mother had made: “Well, let me tell you a story, Constantine. In the beginning, there was the word… Let there be light!”

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Looking Away Photography Summer Dinscore


To Whom It May Concern, This Is How I Want to Die Katherine Treco To Whom It May Concern, This Is How I Want To Die When I am dead, and my body newly cold I want it to be known in what manner I wish to be buried. I do not know what will become of my soul, if such a thing even exists Whether it will sink down into the fiery abyss as a payment for my sins or if it will lay sleeping in my unbeating chest, I do not know. Matters of the afterlife don’t concern me. When I die, I want to be surrounded by my children, my grandchildren, my family Colleagues and friends All of them in black because it’s so timeless and slimming Looking as grim as an Adams, but with all the gusto for the life they still have For the life I just left I want my body to be wrinkled and pale, Clean, makeup free Every laugh line displayed like badges of honor I want my hair to be as unnatural as possible Let it never be said I shied away from color Keep the crosses and rosaries from my hands For they’ll be occupied holding the very first picture we took, 15 and 16 in that photo booth I don’t know which one of us will leave this world first, Regardless, I want to take you with me The only thing of importance that should be held to my heart I want my coffin deep blue, crushed velvet against my old bones The color doesn’t matter since no one will see it My body should be smothered in fresh thyme and rosemary stems, Like a turkey on Thanksgiving, hiding the lining and overflowing out of my death box Green life pushing out of death 31


I want the last thing filling my nose to be the scent of home, my father’s cooking Blow cigar smoke in my face to remind me of grandpa I do not want my ears ringing with rhetoric of “better place” or “walking with the Lord” There is no better place than being asleep with you first thing in the morning and I’d rather be in standing still with a baby on my hip, fingering curly locks that clearly come from you My life with you ending will make my cold body shiver with grief So please, don’t forget an extra blanket for me I hope my wake is brief, long services bore me so I’d rather we get to the reception, where there is laughing and memories And food and wine if you could manage Leave a piece of chocolate on my tongue I don’t need to chew, it’ll melt slowly in my mouth When it’s time to place me in the ground Do so with a smile Remember the time I ruined that batch of cookies and cried Remember the day I gave the world beautiful children Remember the moment I changed my last name These things were done in spite of my ineptitude I was graced with a life I don’t think I deserved Please kiss me goodbye Plant a tree on my plot, Let my carrion give nutrients to the roots Make sure it gets watered


The Key to Knowledge Ink Quinn Picard 33


Untitled Photography Jasmine Trevino


Coping with Hurricane Katrina: 11 Years Vincent Stripling

For me, Hurricane Katrina was way more than just a natural disaster. It was a life altering event that gave me a whole new perspective to life. Not only was I dis-

placed from the place I called home, but I also lost my grandmother, and was disconnected from the family and friends I was used to being with every day of my life up to that point. It all started on Friday, August 26, 2005 when the meteorologist predicted that Hurricane Katrina was definitely going to hit New Orleans, LA head on. Although the prediction was made, everyone still had doubts because it wasn’t the first time a major

hurricane was predicted to hit the city. But they all ended up turning and going in another direction. I remember this day like it was yesterday. It was the end of the first week of my senior year at St. Augustine High School. After school I went to the hospital to see my paternal grandmother, the woman who raised me. I remember telling her that I may be going out of town with my mom’s family to evacuate and I would be back on Monday to see her.

Saturday, the 27th was the day the mayor called for a mandatory evacuation of the city. My mom was at work at the time, but she called to tell me to pack two days of clothes for me and my little brother because we would be evacuating in the morning when she got off of work at 7:00 A.M. So I did what she asked me to do, then went outside with my friends, still not thinking about the hurricane that was approaching. We even went out to the lake because the weather was so beautiful. Our families were plan-

ning to evacuate to different locations, so at the end of the night we all said, “See you later!” to each other, thinking we would be back together in a few days once we got 35


back home. Sunday, the 28th was a pretty hectic day. When my mom got off of work and arrived home she was surprised to see 26 people, between family and friends, asking her what she was planning on doing to evacuate. She didn’t know what she was going to do, but when she realized how many people were depending on her decision, she had to make something happen. So, all 27 of us piled into seven cars and hit the road with my mom in the lead. We lived only about half a mile from the interstate, but as we were approaching my mom realized that traffic was at a standstill. Being the navigator she is, she took an alternate route that not many people knew about to get us out of the city. Although we took a short cut, it still took us four hours to get to Mississippi, which on a normal day would have only taken us forty five minutes. We stopped at a hotel in Mississippi but needless to say, they were booked. So, we got back on the road. After stopping at 10 more booked hotels in Mississippi my mom figured we would try going in the opposite direction of traffic and head towards northern Alabama. After 17 hours on the road, we finally reached Cullman, Alabama, a small town which would have only taken 6 hours to reach on a normal day. We ended up at an old, run-down motel, but after 17 hours on the road it felt like the Four Seasons. As soon as we got into the room my mom turned on the TV, turned to CNN and glued her eyes to the set. At this point everyone was so tired, all we could do is go to sleep. Before I got in the bed I called my dad who decided to “ride it out” just to check on

him. I was awakened the next morning by my mom crying hysterically. I looked at the television and all I heard was 85 percent of the city of New Orleans was under water. Being the optimist I have always been, I figured we were in the 15 percent that wasn’t. Needless to say, it still hadn’t hit me yet. At that point however, I became glued to the TV as well. The longer I watched, the more it began to sink in. Once the reality of what was going on

hit me, I tried to call my dad again, but the towers were down preventing any calls from going through. I started to realize that it was serious, but it was so surreal. In hindsight, I think I was just in shock. The family pretty much congregated outside the entire day, but it


was the first time in my life I had ever seen this many members of my family together. No one was saying anything; it was just a dead silence. After a couple of days word got around town that a family from New Orleans was there because people started dropping off money, food, and other things we needed. I began to realize it: we were homeless. A gentleman and his wife came by and told my mom that they would pay for the entire family to stay at a nicer hotel for however long we needed to get back on track. They would also drop off boxes of McDonald’s, Arby’s and other fast foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was actually starting to feel comfortable with being homeless. I began to worry about my family and friends in New Orleans, especially my grandmother. My mom worked at the VA hospital, so she said we would go to Atlanta, GA so that she could transfer job locations. By the time we left Alabama to head to Georgia, people had given us so much stuff we had to rent a U-Haul truck. On the way to Atlanta I realized my mom wasn’t talking much. I would ask her a question and she would either give me oneword answers or not answer me at all. I thought nothing of it though. Once we finally made it to Atlanta my mom said, “Son, I need to talk to you real quick.” We walked away from everyone else. I wondered, “Why are we walking so far?” She said, “They found your grandmother.” I said, “That’s good!” She looked in my eyes, holding back tears and said, “She didn’t make it.” At that moment I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest. I still think

about that moment until this day. Coping with everything I went through has been difficult. After losing everything I had come to know, most of all my grandmother, I had to try to fit and make new friends as a senior in a new high school. People would say all the time, “I feel your pain.” Honestly, if you have never experienced something like this, you cannot even begin to fathom the pain and sorrow I feel just thinking about what happened. I literally cried while writing each para-

graph because it brought back so many memories I have been trying to bury for the past eleven years. 37


Cotton Candy Digital Art Kathleen Hinojosa


The Time I Was a Mosquito Sean Campos

Did I ever tell you about the time I was a mosquito? It was terrible. None of the other mosquitoes would play with me because I was a vegan. I tried to fit in by drinking V8, but do you know how hard it was to find a human drinking V8? Sometimes I had to resort to coke—the soda or the drug—whatever happened to be lying around at the time. It wasn’t until years later, after hooking on the streets of West Hollywood that I came to; miserable and lonely, near death in a crack house or a shooting gallery—I forget which. It was then that I saw a vision of a woman gilded in moonlight, white and pure as an angel, floating above me.

Well, it turned out she was my mother: a swan. She was smoking crack too, and we just happened to be at the same crack house. What are the chances? She told me she was also hooking and got pregnant with me. She was a beautiful white swan who had fallen onto hard times. She became pregnant after working the streets, and when it came time to lay me, she didn’t want the obligations of raising me. So she laid me in a bundle of mosquito eggs since they like water too. Now how mosquito mom didn’t notice I was thousands of times bigger than her other eggs, I don’t know. I guess when you have an insect brain and no intentions of nurturing your children, you just overlook some shit. So after mom and I passed the pipe a few times—she even sprung for a few rocks for the two of us—I realized the beauty of my swan heritage. It was then that I gained some pride and decided to change my life. So I upped my rates and became the most successful, beautiful bird hooking throughout all of southern California…except for that bitch duck in San Diego.

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Nature Takeover #1 Bones, Moss, Stones, Nalette Rondon


Satyr Girl Ink Quinn Picard 41


Afghanistan Photography George Cielencki


The Cost of Freedom Valarie Cervantes

You ruined my family’s life. You are like a tornado that ripped through our home and left a clear path of destruction. I was told you were coming, but I ignored the warnings thinking it wouldn’t happen to us. You left permanent damage without a way to pick up the pieces. You took the love of my life and twisted and turned him into someone I no longer know. When he comes home at six in the morning having spent all our savings, I know it’s you. My financial planning means nothing. When he is so high on drugs that he’s climbing the walls, I know it’s you providing the adrenaline rush. I can’t offer him that kind of high. When I try to show him affection and he pushes me away, I know it is you he is giving his emotions to. I have nothing left to give. When he yells at me because our shoes are not lined up by the door, I know it’s you telling him to pick a fight with me. Next time I’ll try harder to line them up. When he punches holes in the wall, I know it’s you telling him to scare me away. I made a vow in sickness and in health. When he watches me cry with sadness but his eyes are blank, I know it’s you pulling him further away. The pain is unbearable and my heart is broken. When he must sit in a restaurant facing the door, I know it’s you telling him to watch his back. He doesn’t need you: I have his back. When he screams for me after a nightmare, I know it’s you invading his mind with guilt and sadness when he should be sleeping in peace. I watch him sleep and hope he wakes up being the husband I used to know.

When he says he is confused with life, I know it’s you pulling him in the opposite direction from the one he wants. We had plans, and they didn’t include you 43


When I wake up with bruises because he sleeps so violently, I know it’s you he is trying to fight. I’ll take a hundred more bruises to get rid of you. When he says, he can’t get the dead bodies out of his head, I know it’s you reminding him that this is the cost of freedom—free for most, but he is a prisoner in his own mind. When he is reckless with his life and says he doesn’t care if he dies, I know it’s you he cannot spend the rest of his life with. I am his forever, and I will die without him. Because it’s you and not the man I married I won’t give up. You torture his soul and because we are one, you torture my soul too.

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

A diagnosis, a pharmaceutical company’s joy. G.I. programmed to eliminate all feeling, not reprogrammed to feel again. Suicidal, 22 vets a day, the unknowns, crying for help, no help, taking lives, American sniper, too broken to serve, not broken enough for benefits, strong not strong. Raise awareness. “Don’t care, not my problem.” Whose problem? Homeless, alcoholics, drug addicts, hungry. “Their fault. Don’t care, not my problem.” Whose problem? Family, broken, divorced. VA counseling, joke. VA clinic, joke. VA hospital, joke. VA suicide hotline, joke. He’s going to kill himself. “Sorry, call back in two weeks. Don’t care, not my problem.” Whose problem? Bodies, broken, bloodied, chow hall. Wait, what? That shouldn’t be in the same sentence. No wonder: PTSD. “Yeah, you’re fucked up, bro.” Can you help me? “Nope, sorry. Don’t care, not my problem.” Whose problem? Avoid eye contact: missing limbs, scarred faces, uniform, hiding secrets, plotting destruction.


In Memoriam Sean Campos (February 6, 1979 – August 20, 2016)

The Eleven Rivers Review mourns the passing of PAC student and gifted writer Sean Campos. Sean’s work appeared in both the fall 2015 and spring 2016 ERR issues. This semester, thanks to the efforts of Sean’s friends Violeta Garza and Peter Van Dusen, we have included three pieces written by Sean in the months leading up to his passing. These works display Sean’s remarkable range in subject matter and voice. The following page is Sean’s characteristically thoughtful response to a survey following our spring 2015 publication party. His comments and suggestions are instructive to this publication as we continue onward. Sean will be dearly missed by many in the Palo Alto College community. ERR Staff

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Hello, Reader! Simply put: The Eleven Rivers Review (ERR) is worth every penny. I first read ERR after complaining to a professor that Palo Alto College (PAC) didn’t have a literary journal. He told me that we did. Being a first-time returning student of a certain age, I still hadn’t figured out how to navigate the website. But when I read the ERR, I was impressed. I student-edited for UIW’s Quirk! and am currently a co-editor for a tiny food ‘zine we distribute in Portland, Seattle and New York City. The writing in ERR is not far behind those, but its artwork blows both out of the water. It’s just stitched together better. One thing I love about the journal is how old-fashioned AND contemporary it is. Anyone can write a blog these days, and that’s good. But I’ve always preferred paper. ERR has both. It seems like such a modern thing, but I’ve noticed in certain ‘hip’ cities like Portland and Madison, that there is an effort to bring back print. You get a variety of voices all in one book(let) that have been looked over by an increasingly diverse group and a more discerning palate. Hopefully, the journal will continue to implement both the old and new ways of editing and publishing. Perhaps the best thing about ERR is how relaxing participation was. The classes I was taking were rather hard. So when I heard of the publication, I immediately started to channel that stress in a creative way that would provide me some relief—if even for just a few minutes—between studying for my classes. It was almost like free therapy. Hunter Bates was always supportive as were the rest of the crew. Let me sound pathetic for a moment, but they always made me and the other contributors I spoke to feel special and important. As far as diversity goes, it might be hard to believe students mostly from the same city or part of Texas could be as diverse as a state or popular private school. But the journal shows PAC has its own diversity: students just coming out of high school, older students returning; students seeking their first degree, people seeking their second degree; the never-employed, the people hoping for something new and more interesting; military, civilians; the okay-life, the struggling. Hell, there’s even some Spanish thrown in ERR. There were students from around campus studying different subjects and walking in different shoes that some of us had never seen before, but we felt unified by a love for art. The last thing I’ll mention is that the two events ERR put on were necessary for aspiring artists. During the first event, the panel explained alternate ways to get one’s work out. Hunter talked about journalism, something I always wanted to try but felt unfit for. Others talked about self-publishing. The second event let students stand up and read in a setting more pleasant and quiet than what the visiting artists at UTSA often receive. That was special, and I could see that it moved many artists, gave them a sense of value as an artist—not to mention it swelled the hearts of some proud faculty. Regards, Sean Campos



Eleven Rivers Review Vol 2.2 (Fall 2016)