__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

vo o ll u um m ee v 103 103

ss su u ee // ii s 02 02

rreevviieew w

vvvooollluuum mmeee 111000333 // / iiissssssuuueee 000222

cccooonnntttrrriiibbbuuutttooorrrsss ttthhhooom mmaaasss llluuuxxx /// aaappprrrii illl ooossssssm mmaaannnnnn /// hhheeellleeennnaaa aaalllfffaaajjjooorrraaa /// cccaaassseeeyyy ccclllii iffffffooorrrddd /// tttii im mm fffii ittttttsss /// aaalllllleeennn fffooorrrrrreeesssttt /// aaallleeeccc gggooonnnzzzaaallleeezzz /// sssttteeefffaaannnii iaaa ggguuueeeooorrrggguuuii ieeevvvaaa /// eeelllii i ii issshhhii ibbbaaassshhhii i /// m mmii irrraaannndddaaa jjjaaannneeesssccchhhii illlddd /// jjjooossseeeppphhh jjjppp jjjooohhhnnnsssooonnn /// kkkaaaii itttlllyyynnn kkkuuueeehhhnnn /// lllii innndddaaa zzzaaam mmooorrraaa llluuuccceeerrrooo /// eeedddyyy m mmaaadddssseeennn /// tttaaaddd m mmaaalllooonnneee /// m mmii iccchhhaaaeeelll m mmaaarrrkkk /// rrrooobbbeeerrrttt nnnaaazzzaaarrreeennneee /// sssuuusssaaannnnnnaaa rrraaajjj /// aaadddaaam mm sssccchhheeeffffffllleeerrr /// sssuuuzzzaaannn sssii illltttaaannnii ieeem mmii i /// lllooorrreeennn sssm mmii ittthhh /// llluuucccaaasss sssm mmii ittthhh /// rrryyyaaannn sssuuuttttttllleee /// dddeeennnnnnii isss vvvaaannnnnnaaattttttaaa /// aaa... w wwii illllllii iaaam mmsss

sa an nt ta a c c ll a ar ra a r r ee v v ii ee w w s

ssaannttaa ccllaarraa

ssaannttaa ccllaarraa rreevviieew w

vvvooollluuum mmeee 111000333 // / iiissssssuuueee 000222

ISSN ISSN ISSN 232 232 23 2555--2 -2278 78 78222

000555 sp pr r ii n ng g s 2016 2016

999 772325 772325 772325 278006 278006 278006


volume 103 / issue 02


Cover artby by Helena Conrad Roset: cover art alfajora Muses, 2012the threshold crossing back cover Anilines / crossing the threshold on paper

front cover /

chalk pastel and watercolor on wood

santa clara review, founded in 1869, is the literary journal of Santa Clara University and the

C L A R A R E V I E W is not responsible for unsolicited oldest college publication in the West. It is published biannually by Santa Clara University submissions of artwork. to facilitate accurate reproduction of your piece, we in Santa Clara, California and accepts submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, and welcome submissions online via our website: art year-round. SANTA

www.santaclarareview.com

santa clara review is not responsible for unsolicited submissions of artwork. To facilitate

accurate reproduction of your piece, we$15.00 welcome submissions via our for website: subscription to print copies are for one yearonline and $25.00 two years. single and back issues are available for $7.50 (includes $1.00 for postage and handling).www.santaclarareview.com contact us by Subscription to mail print at: copies are $14.00 for one year and $26.00 for two years. Single and back issues are available for $7.50 (includes $1.00 for postage and handling).

SANTA CLARA REVIEW

500 el camino real, box 3212 Contact us by mail at: santa clara, ca, 95053-3212 santa clara review (408) 554-4484 500 El Camino Real, Box 3212 Santa Clara, CA, 95053–3212

(408) 554–4484 or email at:

or email santaclarareview@gmail.com at: santaclarareview@gmail.com

no manuscripts or artwork can be returned unless accompanied by a selfaddressed stamped envelope. manuscripts under consideration will be kept No manuscripts or artwork can be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed stamped for at least four weeks. published inatsanta clara review may pubnot be envelope. Manuscripts under materials consideration will be kept least four weeks. Materials reprinted, in whole or part, without the written permission of the editors lished in santa clara review may not be reprinted, in whole or part, without the written or originators. permission of the editors or originators. thank you to kirk glaser, tedd vanadilok, matt cameron, and arcelia rodriguez Thank you to Kirk Glaser, Matt Cameron, and Arcelia Rodriguez for their continued asfor their continued assistance and support. sistance and support. Thank you to Adobe Systems for providing their DPS platform for the digital edition.

S A N T A C L A R A R E V I E W accepts gifts and donations to help cover production costs. please write or call with queries. santa clara review accepts gifts and donations to help cover production costs. Please write or call with queries.


S A NTA C L A R A R E V I E W VO LU M E 10 3 / I S S U E 0 2

OR

E

G

dit

on e or atalie razian

N

icti

f

OR

E

t

OR

ar DIT stephen hua

webmaster kyra a. wayne

E

C

OE

V

ULIA

R

P T Y DIT elazquez ross

J

cti

d

p

ro u on DIT ordan humble

j

OR

E

E

BROWN

A

T

O

SS CI T DIT J

A

EF

N LANS

OR

-I -CHI

AKE

E

DIT J

marketing DIRECTOR Alexandra Drechsler

OR

S

Q

O

V

S

S

is

d

ty

c

OAR

fa ul a v or kirk glaser

N

O

C

N

N

j

M

N

O

S

M G N D L C

B D en inton imi a mabadi ominique asmeh eilan ishi iley ’ onnell aureen ’ eill iannina ng atalie uintanilla anielle aldanha eah enatro indy tella enry trickland helley aldez illiams

W

S

H

K

K

C

C

C

C

R

L

D

M

B

AL

OR

A

A

B

B

K

M

P

D

E

S

D

H

S

N

B

T

A

S

E

DIT I amual ndalon ysel tamdede yler ergmann atthew ettencourt ick uccola harleen abal elena astro evin ollins chulyer rilley lizabeth eenan evin elly aul enniston indsey andell Jacqueline L

M

E

AN

D

M

K

G

A

SSIST T DIT S abby eutsch Giannina Ong amran uthleb Keegan Pincombe Shelley Valdez


TABLE OF CONTENTS

TESTS

SHEFFY APTITUDE

LICHEN FIRE

THE

TO

mann / reach 09

ss

i

a rlo p

05

mann / scrim 08

ss

i

p

a rlo

BUNDY

ASA

AND

ODE

s

ODE

s

th

oma lux /

TO

IQ

TO

ODE

s

03

oma lux / 04

th

th

oma lux /

HYDRANT

OE

02

TO

ODE

s

th

T Y R

P

oma lux /

s

i

i

a. w ll am / the watermelon 11 effler / love poem 12

ch

S

AM

ith

j

effler / my soul 39

T

azarene / augury 40

ch

N

ith

s

ICTI A

VANNA

ON

TT / uto-da- é 20

F

ALL

OR

PERSONA

s

h

:

48

STOCKHOLM

N

KUE

N

H / lucky 32

j jo n on / p

ph

s

jo e

L

KA

IT Y

LIKE

IS

ENN

/ the big bang 41

SMELL

ER

loren m

F

AM

A

B RO

S

A

d

t

a malone / smokin’ dave 31 D

D

m / bueno 13

ael mark / like esus 30

ich

m

s

s

c

lu a

SANCTUARIES

A

D


/ balmy alley forever 60

ERO

C

LU

ICTI

ALFAJORA

s

ELENA

s

en / life 18

ds

dy

ma

A

I

ST / ca_hwy_1_stinson_beach 44

FORRE

ALLEN

st

allen forre / women 45

S

/ look, out there 71

s

onzale

G

c

le A

/ olling Junkyard eries 01 46

R

itts

mf ti

T

I

F

i

i

t

i

Suzan S l an em / ushimi nari emple 72

i

i

t

i

G

S efan a ueorgu eva / shaman 74 i

t

i

Suzan S l an em / kayaks 73

d

l ffor / muse 77

W

le / aia’s 78 G

tt

s

r an u

i

c

y

s

c

F

d

i

c

y

l ffor / lost in daydream 76 a e

y

s

a e

U

i

G

i

S efan a ueorgu eva / nlikely riendship 75

c

I

THE

u anna raj / encoding 17

/ realized that was nothing to everyone and shouted “ men!” 43

t

shi

shib

EL

THRESHOLD

AR CROSSING

ALFAJORA

ELENA

15

/ finding the light 16

e a

MIRROR

T

/

H

II

S

MY

d

schi

J

d

Mi

H

ON

l / 34

NONF

ran a ane

MOTHER

Z

d

Li

n a amora

omb


EDITOR’S NOTE JAKE LANS volume 103 / issue 02


TO THE READER,

 

It has been said by many great minds that there is no such thing as an original work. All creations and expressions have been recycled, refiltered, and rehashed in different ways. In the context of the literary arts, this view asserts that every story or poem written contemporaneously has already been written by someone many years earlier.

Tony Hoagland, in his book “Twenty Poems That Could Save America,” chimes in on this question of originality with a positive outlook, writing, “poems need to be written and rewritten in the idiom and the tenor of the age. Their testimony needs to be renewed, the currency to be sustained1.” This is an honest way of looking at the activity of writing, and in many ways, it makes us writers and readers feel less alone. It’s like we’re all linking parts in the chain of the human collective. The more tenor we add, the richer the chain becomes, and the more art we have to inspire ourselves with. These new chains might be copies of the original, but they are freshly built, making them strong and alluring. In my two years of serving as the Editor-in-Chief of this beautiful publication, I have had the pleasure of linking four new books to our literary chain. I like to think each issue the staff produces is better than the one that predates it. We publish more established authors, we feature more diverse contributors from across the globe, and we find better stories and poems to select. But given how many changes there have been in writing over the past 100 volumes, “better” seems like a hollow way of perceiving our own publication. A majority of the featured writers in the Santa Clara Review are the up and coming artists of the world. Most of our contributors are candidates or recent graduates of MFA programs who are writing the newest innovative pieces. In this way, we are honored to be a kind of threshold to the new blood of literature since these writers remain at the forefront of changing language and perceptions. And since our publication’s birth year shares a decade with the Civil War, these contributors have been updating our idioms longer than most other publications have even existed. 1

Hoagland, Tony. Twenty Poems That Could Save America: And Other Essays.


But, like many publications, our staff, contributors, and readers have a transient presence. As an undergraduate-staff, turnovers max out at four years, and every so often, the Editor might be afforded two years. New editors remain eager to dip their hands in the publishing world in original ways, and this explains our perpetual production redesigns, progressive publication parties, and a consistent sense of inconsistency in what we want to publish. These changes in editorship are not so unlike changes in language, and this explains why the Santa Clara Review, which has existed for more than 100 years, remains characterized by truth, compassion, and social responsibility. Sometimes flowers must die before others can begin to sprout. Such has always been the case with stories, poems, and even editors, readers, and writers themselves. But the beauty in art will always remain sincere as long as we keep letting ourselves and our words pass when they need to. To the editors, contributors, and readers of the Santa Clara Review, remember to always be aware of the conditions in which you exist. In differentiating the contemporary condition from the everlasting human state, we can feel more awake than we ever have before. But most importantly, enjoy what we have to offer in these pages. It’s a truly special book that we are proud to present to you.

JAKE LANS

editor in chief


THOMAS LUX SANTA CLARA REVIEW featured poet

poems from TO THE LEFT OF TIME (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

1


ODE TO ASA BUNDY SHEFFY THOMAS LUX poetry

which was Robert Hayden’s birth name, reduced from three trochees to two. It was a family issue, his unhappy mother giving him to unhappy neighbors, the Haydens, who raised him, and called him Robert Hayden, though they never bothered to make it legal. From time to time, he’d see his blood-parents—in a blur, his eyes so bad he never knew what they looked like, nor even what he himself looked like, without his glasses, which were so thick sometimes sight got lost inside them. Might he have left, or found, some poems in those dense lenses? An austere militant of reticence: Robert Hayden Asa Bundy Sheffy. Permissionless, I’m adding three more tumbling trochees, making five in row, to inject into your name even more velocity. They’re all I can give you, in gratitude for some truths you left, in deep-set ink, on the page.

2|

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


ODE TO IQ AND APTITUDE TESTS THOMAS LUX poetry

which were given to discern not how smart we were but how dim, and what tasks best fit our talents, or lack thereof. I took the tests and did OK, which perturbed the testers and teachers who inverted the bell curve and saw me as the child in a flipped kayak, upside down, head under water, paddle in the air. I had easy access to an elsewhere. I didn’t fidget, or bounce off walls (kids who did got bounced off walls!), but words didn’t mean much to me, unless they were nouns. I was good at nouns. Tree. Anvil. Hayrick. Nouns I could say with my eye or ear. I focused well on small things right in front of me. That I be a cobbler was considered until handed a hammer and very sharp, small nails. One test said: Consider the clergy, nondenominational, with faith but no God. Another said: Sit him on a seacliff to count sails. A third noted my abilities with a broom. I was glad to know where I stood, even askew. Looms. Gravel. Cabbage. I never meant to confuse those who thought—without malice and with some concern—otherwise: I was average.

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

3


ODE TO LICHEN THOMAS LUX poetry

“…caresses / Too lichen-faithful from too wide a breast.” —Hart Crane

Gray, olive, blue-green, fusty white, scabrous, glued to rocks and trees, this flora of farthest north, of so far south until there’s nothing to attach to but ice and penguins. This venerable life form will not grow on ice nor penguins. It’s a fungus, inside of which live algae. Stubborn, close-clasped to trees, to tundra, gravestones, slag-heaps. It’s been determined: it could live in space! The air alone provides food, rain. It takes nothing from that on which it lives. It helps stone turn back to soil so slowly the stone doesn’t notice, and it feeds a few creatures in hard years: reindeer, and the larvae of my favorite butterfly, The Common Footman. Let us praise their benefactor, lichen! Let us raise that which lies so low, let us include it in encomiums, and let us not forget lichen’s inclusiveness, its understory, nor its gray-green ubiquity.

4|

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


ODE TO THE FIRE HYDRANT THOMAS LUX poetry

Who has not wanted to tip his hat to the big lug-nut top hat it wears? Unless you were impelled to paint them through a long summer to repay a societal debt, and had also a boss with a quota of hydrants and asses to kick. As an artist, I could not create under such conditions! There was never the right north light. The brushes were cheap and left bristles in my work, which I did not intend. On a few, as symbols of oppression, in the right-by-accident place, they edified and were, therefore, intentional. Because of these and other compromises, I refused to sign my art, with one exception: the hydrant in front of my grammar school, which would have burned down without it in a fire I started. I trimmed a little tuft of grass (we were issued a pair of shears) and writ my initials with the corner of a brush, using the last few drops of red paint from a state paint can during the summer I was asked many times why I was covered with blood.

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

5


APRIL OSSMANN SANTA CLARA REVIEW featured poet

poems forthcoming in EVENT BOUNDARIES (Four Way Books, 2017)

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

7


SCRIM

APRIL OSSMANN poetry

All I ask of wit is that it stand between me and mystery, not like a guard or armor, more like a screen against bites and stings, a curtain, opaque at night, sheer in daylight, swaying in wind, offering glimpses of destiny, a jester singing into the abyss as my ship sinks into the Arctic, strumming a lute as a lightning strike burns the only home I’ve ever known, punning and humming in darkness, as I heat my hands over the embers, as if that last warmth matters.

8|

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


REACH

APRIL OSSMANN poetry

The cut tulips bloom too soon to last as long as I will them to— if another’s will could keep one tulip, brother or parent alive— what altered world would we inhabit? The tulips’ mortal wounds don’t prevent their curving— and re-curving, each time I shift them in their vase, seeking, for reasons I don’t understand, a more perfect symmetry. The sun rises before I do, and the tulips— as if light could save them— have with their dying reach arced again beyond my will for them, sideways, as far as their dismembered stems allow, into its animating grace by the time I wake.

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

9


THE WATERMELON A. WILLIAMS poetry

I. The boy follows coral and plum into the desert, wandering barefoot along the expanse of copper sand sweeping the horizon. He stops. Sand slides up the slopes of his feet as wind beats past his lips open in marvel. The biggest watermelon he has ever seen stretches its belly so far over the land it could pop and its seeds wriggle restlessly like infants in dim pools of light. He lifts a hand and dips his fingers in pink. Before bed, his mother cradles him on their rooftop overlooking patchwork of gardens and water, and says, The stars belong to you. Zahur, see how they gather and wait? Like buds of baby fruit opening up to the sun. He searches murky black. II. The boy goes on to grow watermelons in North African heat, cakes and smooths beds of dirt back onto roots left exposed, observes how his flowers lean toward him as if asking permission to swell. One night in the desert, he hikes barefoot to see stars. Rain tumbles from the sky and he tilts his head back and swallows and it tastes like his own harvest’s juice and the billowing of time and the same burst that awoke those before him, who all gazed into the same dripping stomach and couldn’t remember if that tremendous thing had been nursed by their own hands.

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

11


LOVE POEM ADAM SCHEFFLER poetry

If I lost you I’d lose three states, six small towns, 1 ohio river. I’d be back where I started – 23 again but an old 23, like I’ve been learning a foreign language for the last seven years that I’ve had to drop and forget, a foreign language that could cradle my head in its hands and kiss my shoulder with its tongue a foreign language without a people, or with only one person, one survivor, so nobody else speaks it, without a flag except your face is that flag, without an army except your arms when they’re pale in the sun is that army. If I lost you I’d try to remember you in the mirror, screwing and pinching up my face, wearing a dress, no makeup, to really get into character, to recall your turns of phrase, your silence, or way of singing to yourself after a long day. I’d try to gallop across the space between us, the space that reflects my face instead of your face, to those six small towns and awful markets where I take your number from the red ticket dispenser as the obese drift back and forth in their little cart-machines, and valves hide rainbows inside the cabbages. If I lost you I’d be like the moon without an earth to show up in my sky, and mount an expedition to discover me and land in a flimsy contraption on my surface, to walk to and fro on me with soft white boots, bouncing lightly, leaving a flag like a collar, and a tattoo of footprints, to give me a landmark so I’ll always know where I am.

12 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


BUENO LUCAS SMITH poetry

kelp bubbles, shellacked, pop out of the phone, thanks, yes the line is good, praise god,        how is the prolapsed capital! do you live my life here as I live yours, in ecstasies of what is good?         you sent my poems to your friends that’s a start to life what did they confess about them?         No, don’t say, ok, fine, say. you’re dancing quiet         studying the bones of women the tlaxcalans ate, but you don’t need to answer for the pyramids.         after five bites from the moon I want to ask about your christian sister and whether your dance cascades like the lake         into the valley for millions of years or if you breach teotihuacan with your toddler voice         around the stoned kitchen, when you hang up the kelp plants

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

13


CROSSING THE THRESHOLD

HELENA ALFAJORA

chalk pastel and watercolor on wood 20”x20”

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

15


FINDING THE LIGHT HELENA ALFAJORA

mixed media on wood 24”x24”

16 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


ENCODING SUSANNA RAJ

acrylic on canvas, with beads, staples and film negative strips 12” x 24”

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

17


LIFE

EDY MADSEN oil on canvas 11”x14”

18 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


AUTO-DA-FÉ DENNIS VANNATTA fiction

It’s not true that there are more American college students in Toulouse, France, than Frenchmen; it only seems like it. They descend on the lovely little city in droves for three-week intensive-language courses and study-abroad semesters, staying with local families for more thorough immersion in the culture. So it was that Wilson Marsh, from Alabama, and Connor Litz, from Ohio, wound up living next door to each other one fall on the banks of the Garonne. They enjoyed France but both complained that their families refused to speak any English, and their French was coming along slowly, when at all. Early one Saturday morning they escaped by train to Madrid. They were both small-town boys. Even Toulouse seemed like a big city to them. Madrid was enormous, intimidating. They detrained at the Atocha Renfe, stood in perplexity and trepidation before the ticketpurchase machine in the metro, then finally took the plunge, bought tickets, walked down tunnels, came to a set of tracks and took the first train that came in. In a few minutes they came up out of the jaundiced half-light of the metro into the glorious late-afternoon sun on the Gran Via. They had around seventy-five euros each (they’d heard that Spain was cheap) and a palm-sized map of Madrid, upon which they could not find the Gran Via, a wide Avenue stretching off into the distance, lovely tall buildings catching the brilliant sun on one side, casting cool shadows on the other. “I don’t know. Madrid doesn’t look cheap to me,” Wilson said. “Cheap for Europe, maybe. It’s all relative.” “Too bad I haven’t had a course in general relativity yet.” “They haven’t heard of general relativity in Alabama.” The North/South joshing never got old, but it brought them no comfort now. They stood with their backs up against a building as crowds of pedestrians rushed past, then ventured into the torrent, were swept along for one block, two, until they panicked and fought their way back up SANTA CLARA REVIEW

20 |


Neither was a from a wealthy family, and their tiny scholarship stipends did not allow for as much wine and beer drinking as they would have liked in Toulouse. In fact, they hadn’t done much of it back in the States, either. Connor felt he’d never done much of anything. He was shy, especially around les femmes, and could count on the fingers of one hand the dates he’d had. It’d taken all his courage to board the plane for Europe where he hoped for experiences that would transform him, toughen him, harden his muscles and add calluses to his hands and wrinkles at the corners of the eyes such as a man would acquire haunting smoky brothels or squinting down the sights of a rifle. He well knew he’d never have the nerve to seek out these experiences on his own. Hence his friendship with Wilson, a fiery Southerner right out of a Faulkner novel—or so Connor wished to believe. Wilson wanted to believe it, too, and indeed might have been more temperamentally suited for the experiences Connor hoped to gain, but he’d had precious few opportunities. He’d been raised in a strict Baptist family in northern Alabama and for the last three years had been attending an even stricter Baptist-affiliated college in southern Tennessee where one could be expelled for using profanity, tobacco, or alcohol. Fornication was SANTA CLARA REVIEW

against the front window of a Starbucks. “If I could just find where we are on this map,” Wilson said, squinting at the labyrinth of lines. They started out again, walked a few blocks one way, turned and walked a few blocks the other, leery of getting off the Gran Via. Connor looked at his watch. “Probably we should find a place to stay. They might have a better map for us.” “A hostel would be nice,” Wilson said, and Connor agreed although neither was entirely sure what a hostel was. A kid in Toulouse had talked about staying in one in Amsterdam. They were sort of like dorms, apparently. They sounded fun and, more importantly, cheap. The Gran Via didn’t look like a street where you’d find a hostel, though. They walked into the first hotel they came to. The man behind the desk made a shooing motion with his hands and said, “No no,” and something that sounded like “complete.” Back outside, Connor said, “I guess complete means no vacancy.” “I suspect he thought we were gay caballeros,” Wilson said, and they laughed at that awhile and then went into another hotel, which was evidently not complete, but a room was 150 euros. Back out on the street, Connor said, “I think we’re in trouble.” Wilson agreed, so they did what twenty-year-old American males do when in trouble: they set off in search of beer.

|

21


REVIEW

SANTA CLARA REVIEW

22 |

punishable, it was rumored, by drawing and quartering. Wilson liked to think of himself as one day being mad, bad, and dangerous to be around, but he had a long way to go. They gravitated back toward their metro station, located in a little plaza where, they now saw, were numerous bars and cafes, most with seating outside. In a moment they were sitting at a little round table in the remains of the afternoon sun, jarras of Estrella Damm before them and also a bowl of potato chips, which they tried to convince the waiter they hadn’t ordered but which they finally realized was complimentary. “Hey, I’m starting to like this Spain business,” Wilson said, crunching a chip and taking a sip of beer. Connor nodded, crunching, sipping. Then they noticed the woman. She stood at the railing overlooking the stairs that descended into the metro. Not much older than they, she had long sleek black hair, wore knee-high black boots with impossibly tall heels, a short white skirt, a black top and over it a short white faux-leather jacket. She carried a large square shiny black purse that didn’t seem to go with the rest of her attire. Wilson thought it looked like a purse his mother would take to an Eastern Star meeting. “Wilson, my friend, do you think that’s a working girl?” Connor asked, and Wilson said, “Verily I say unto you, that is indeed a working girl.” “I didn’t think working girls would be that pretty. I thought they’d be harder, you know. Wasted or something.” “Well, that one’s a looker,” Wilson said, instantly regretting “looker,” which sounded like something his grandpa would say. “I wonder how much she charges,” Connor said. “Why don’t you ask her?” “Why don’t you ask her?” They stared at the woman long enough that when they finally remembered their beer, it’d started getting warm. They drank it anyway, ate more chips, and when they looked back at the railing over the metro station, the woman was gone. “Found a customer,” Connor said, bitterly disappointed to have missed the bargaining. “I’m not sure she was a hooker anyway,” Wilson said. “Hookers wouldn’t be out on the street this early in the day.” They made the beers last on through dusk, and then they started off down the side street in the gathering darkness, walking slowly, looking back over their shoulders every few steps to make sure the Gran Via was still safely in sight. They went into a souvenir shop and each found two of three things “to keep in mind” in case they still had money tomorrow morning, when it would be time to catch the train for the long ride back to


REVIEW

SANTA CLARA REVIEW

Toulouse. They came to an even narrower street branching off to the right. They decided they could walk down that street as far as they liked without too much risk; all they’d have to do when they’d had enough was turn around, walk back up to the side street, turn left, and easily find their way back to the Grand Via. This they did. When they emerged back onto the side street, it was not quite nine o’clock. They’d resolved to hold off on dinner until at least ten because they’d heard that the Spanish ate very late—ten-thirty or later—and didn’t want to look like a couple of rubes, but they were hungry. Nearly all the cafés had menus posted outside, most with English translations. They were perusing one of these when a waiter speaking no English accosted them and seemed to demand that they dine in his establishment. They fled, almost literally into the arms of a young woman on the opposite side of the street who pushed menus into their hands and said something that sounded like “pizza.” That was good enough for them. They split a pizza and drank beer—jarras, large ones, again—and marveled that the pizza was almost as good as back in the good ol’ USA. “Probably they learned about pizza from American soldiers in World War II,” Wilson said. Connor about choked on his beer. “From American soldiers?” he said, spluttering. “Maybe they learned about it from Italians.” Before Wilson could respond, Connor started laughing again. “American soldiers in World War II! Wilson, there were no American soldiers in Spain in World War II. Spain was neutral. Didn’t you get past the War Between the States in history class down in Alabam’?” “Obviously you need a refresher course in irony,” Wilson said, and Connor said, “Irony, yeah, right, irony.” Wilson was both pissed and embarrassed. He was sensitive about his educational background, so many of the Toulouse college students coming from big northern universities, Ivy League schools, Stanford, Cal, all over. And if Connor wasn’t Ivy League exactly, Wilson knew that his Ohio college—Kenyon—was top notch. As for his own tiny Baptist college, Wilson’s was the first class whose honor students had been offered the option of a semester in Europe. It was something of an experiment, in fact—if their students came back corrupted, that would put an end to the semester abroad. Wilson had boasted that it was his intent to see to it that his class was the first and last so honored. Now, he decided, trying hard not to glare but to smile collegially at his smirking friend, would be a good time to start. “Hey, here’s an idea, amigo. We need a place to stay tonight, right? How about we pool our money—I think a hundred euros would do it—and hire one of those working girls for the night. For the night, see what I mean?

|

23


REVIEW

SANTA CLARA REVIEW

24 |

We’d have a place to sleep, and whatever else, well, that’d be gravy.” Connor leaned back in his chair and squinted at Wilson as if to see him better and at the same time put some distance between them. “You’re kidding, right?” “Why kidding? We’ll kill two birds with one stone. Get a place to stay and an experience to write home about.” “I think we’d be writing home about an S.T.D.” Wilson straightened up in his chair and thrust his chest out. “Suh, in Dixie,” he drawled in his best Gone with the Wind accent, “we consider an S.T.D. a badge of honor. We don’t think a man’s a man until he’s had at least one case of the clap.” Connor wasn’t certain that Wilson was serious. He’d probably back down if Connor pressed him on it. But did Connor want him to back down? This was what he’d come to Madrid in search of, wasn’t it—experience? So what if they went out on a limb and the limb broke under them? Better to fall than never to have climbed. Better to fall than never to have climbed—Connor liked that so much he was on the verge of saying it to Wilson but then thought, no, too Oprah, way too Oprah. Instead, he said, “We don’t have much more than a hundred euros left. Besides, would that be enough?” “Never know until you ask.” “But wouldn’t she want to go back to our room? We don’t have a room. Would she have a room to take us to?” “Never know until you ask.” They left the cute waitress in the café a euro tip apiece and started walking back up the street, which was now even more crowded with pedestrians ambling along this way and that, couples hand in hand, men in groups of three or four, women in similar groups, older couples pushing children in strollers. Here and there stood women dressed very much like the pretty young one from earlier in the afternoon. Sometimes a man would go up and talk to one of them. They’d chat, smile, laugh. Connor and Wilson never saw one of the women leave with a man, though. “Well, are you going to ask one of them?” Connor said. “Me? Hell no. You’re asking. Look, muchacho, you’ve got to show me you’re truly in this. I’m not going to go through the negotiations and then turn around and you’re nowhere in sight, and I’m left standing there with my dick in my hand.” Connor grinned. “You got that from The Godfather. ‘Standing there with my dick in my hand’—that’s what James Caan says.” Suddenly furious, Wilson said, “So the fuck what?” They walked on up the street until they were back to the metro station. They stood at the railing where the beautiful hooker had stood before and peered down at the steps descending into the acid-yellow light.


The bench was hard, it was uncomfortably warm in the metro, and with people coming and going and trains screeching in every few minutes, they could not sleep. A young man curled up on the next bench had no such trouble. He was fast asleep when they first noticed him and as far as they could tell never moved a muscle the whole time they were turning and shifting, their limbs, backs, bottoms numb and aching. Still, they might have stayed there all night if Connor hadn’t suddenly prodded Wilson and whispered, “Look at those two black dudes.” Both were very tall and skinny. They wore sneakers with no socks, tank tops, something like bicycle shorts, and stocking caps that fit tight to their skulls. They were coming up from the other end of the platform. Was there another metro entrance in that direction? It looked as if they might have come up out of the tunnel that the trains disappeared into. Ignoring Wilson and Connor, they stopped at the bench where the boy lay sleeping. They bent over him, peering down, and then began to pick at his pockets, very delicately at first but then more boldly, turning him from his side onto his back so that they could get at the other pockets. Connor thought of giant praying mantises, leisurely picking meat off some helpless thing still half alive. The boy, drunk probably, began to come awake. He said one word that they couldn’t understand and then uttered a low but rising wail like a surgery patient with the anesthesia wearing off but the scalpels still in him. “NnnnnnahhhhhoooOOOOO!” “Shouldn’t we do—” Connor began, half rising, but Wilson said, “Let’s get the hell out of here or we’ll be next.” They ran down the platform to the tunnel that led to the stairs, and then up onto the plaza once more. It felt like they’d been down in the metro for hours, and they’d expected to find the area deserted, but there was still considerable traffic along the Gran Via—only a few steps from the metro entrance—and a fair number of pedestrians in the little plaza and down the side street.

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA REVIEW

It was a long time before either would say what both were thinking: that they’d seen people sleeping on the benches in the metro earlier in the day, and that might be a solution to their problem. Finally, Wilson said, “We could go down there and rest awhile. It’s too early for this hooker stuff anyway. Too many people around.” “Right,” Connor said, grateful to follow his friend’s lead. Grateful and also disappointed.

|

25


SANTA CLARA REVIEW

26 |

“I feel like shit. We should have helped that guy,” Connor said. “Do you enjoy a knife in your ribs?” “How do you know they had knives?” “I know, believe me.” “You don’t know shit.” Wilson, two inches taller and thirty pounds heavier, felt like smashing Connor’s little rat-like face, went so far as to double up his fists. But the wind went out of him when Connor said, “Yeah, sure, now you want to fight.” Wilson shrugged and said, “Well, they’re still down there probably if you want to play the hero.” “I don’t want to play anything, but I sure as hell want to do something. I didn’t come to Madrid to just walk around and walk around and walk around.” “OK, fine. Lead on, Macduff. I’ll follow you.” Connor looked left and right, then focused his attention toward the narrowing end of the plaza. “Let’s go talk to that one,” he said. “That one what?” Then Wilson saw her, standing next to a tree that rose up out of a round brick planter off the side of the plaza. She looked cold in her short skirt. “You want to talk to her, go talk to her,” Wilson said. “Yeah, well, you’re coming with me.” When Wilson didn’t move to follow him, he added, “You have half the money, remember.” They walked down toward the woman. She was older than the woman from earlier that afternoon and not as pretty. She looked hard, in fact, even “wasted” as Connor had thought hookers would be. Wilson expected him to go walking right on past her, but Connor slowed down and then sort of sidled, crab-wise, toward her. “Hola, boys. You wan’ some fun?” “How did you know we spoke English?” Connor asked. The woman rolled her eyes and said again, “You wan’ fun?” “How much does it cost?” Connor asked as Wilson looked on, amazed, as if he’d just seen mild-mannered Clark Kent emerge from a phone booth in cape and tights and leap into the sky. “For two?” she said, nodding to Wilson. “Yes, both of us,” Connor said. The woman named a figure, which Wilson didn’t catch, but Connor must have because he said, no, fifty euros. The woman laughed bitterly and said something in Spanish that might have been a curse and turned to walk off but then turned back and said something else. They went back and forth for a minute until Connor said, “One hundred euros,” and the woman


“Don’t run, walk normally,” Wilson told him, the only thing either said as they went on down the narrow street, away from the side street that would have taken them back to the metro. They came to a broader street and took it until they came out into a plaza, much larger than the one with SANTA CLARA REVIEW

said OK. She gestured for them to follow her. Connor started off after her, but Wilson grabbed him by the shoulder. “Hey, one hundred euros, that was supposed to be for all night. All night, remember?” “Don’t worry, it’s for both of us.” “Yes, but all night.” “Don’t be stupid,” Connor said, pulling away and walking off after the woman. Wilson stood for a moment and then followed. “You didn’t have any right to make that bargain without consulting me,” he hissed to Connor, all too aware that he sounded querulous and absurdly stuffy. Connor whirled. “Then stay out here and wait for me. If she’ll take one hundred for both of us, I’m sure she’ll take fifty for me.” Before Wilson could reply, the woman stopped, turned, and said like a teacher whose patience had run out, “Boys.” Then she walked on, Connor following her. Wilson came along behind. It wasn’t far, down the side street to the narrow street branching off to the right, which they’d briefly walked down that afternoon. She came to a door that opened onto a tiny office where a man sat behind a desk reading a paperback. The woman said something to him in Spanish, and he handed her a key without looking up from the book. They followed the woman up a narrow flight of stairs that rose to a little landing, then turned and rose on up. When they were just about to a second landing, Wilson suddenly pushed past Connor, raised his fist, and hit the woman squarely in the back of the head. She collapsed facedown on the stairs and lay there. Wilson stood straddling her. Connor pressed himself back against the wall. They both stared down at the woman. Then Wilson bent over, took her purse, plunged his hand inside, and came out with a number of bills, which he crammed into his pocket. “Come on,” he said, pushing past Connor, who opened his mouth to say something but didn’t. Connor followed him down the stairs and through the little office where the man behind the desk glanced up without interest. Then they were back out into the night.

|

27


SANTA CLARA REVIEW

28 |

their station. They continued on through the plaza and took another street branching off, then another. They were lost but no more so than any other moment in Madrid. They came to a café or bar, its windows dark, with half a dozen outdoor tables enclosed behind a low wooden wall. Wilson looked around—there were few people on the street now—and then moved into the enclosure and turned to Connor. “We could sleep here,” he said. “I thought you were going to use the money for a room,” Connor said. “What money?” Wilson said. And then he remembered. “Oh.” “Wasn’t that what you did it for?” “I don’t know.” “That’s the first thing you’ve said today that wasn’t a lie,” Connor said even though he knew that wasn’t true, either. Wilson didn’t deny the accusation, though, and maybe because he didn’t, or maybe just because Connor was so very tired, Connor stepped through the opening in the enclosure and was the first to lie down, his back up against the wooden wall. Wilson did the same on the other side of the opening. It’d grown chilly, but the wall gave them some shelter and also kept them from being seen by anyone walking by. Although both would have said they couldn’t possibly sleep on that pavement smelling of stale beer, before long they slept. They woke the next morning with a cloudless blue sky above them. Cold, stiff, and hungry, they walked off down the street, which soon opened out onto another large plaza, not irregularly shaped like the others they’d seen but a perfect rectangle with stately buildings, all four stories high, on each side. It was Sunday morning, and there were only a few others about. The sun felt wonderful on them as they stood in the center of the plaza, taking it all in. Then Connor thought of something and took his cell phone out. He’d meant to take photos to email back to his folks in Ohio but had totally forgotten it until now. He trained the cell phone on an especially impressive building on the side catching the full sun. He’d taken one photo and was framing another when he heard Wilson snickering. “You see what that is, don’t you?” Wilson said. Then Connor saw it, too. The lovely rose-brick façade he was photographing was in fact as huge tarp hanging from the top of the building to the ground, printed with the image of a building in the same style as the others ringing the plaza. No doubt it concealed construction going on behind it.


SANTA CLARA REVIEW

Connor slapped his forehead. “Wow, that was smart, wasn’t it? Some photo! Oh well, it’s digital. I can erase it. No harm done.” Wilson shrugged. “Keep it. That’s Spain, too, I guess. It’s all Spain.” Connor was considering what to photograph next when he was startled by a cough right behind him. Wilson, too, was startled, whirled, and raised his fist but then, embarrassed, let it drop. It was a little old man, unshaven, with greasy gray hair and a stained tan windbreaker zipped up to his throat. A bum. A street person. “You know where you are, don’t you? You know what is this plaza?” he said with only a slight accent. The man edged up closer, so close that the front of his jacket was brushing against Connor’s chest. His breath was sour. Connor leaned back away from him. “This is the Plaza Mayor,” the man said. “Ah, the Plaza Mayor,” Wilson said. The man reached over and took Wilson’s forearm. “The plaza just there, that way, ten minutes walk—maybe you were there?—is the exact center of Spain, the geographic center: el Puerto del Sol. Yes? The geographic center. But it’s said by many that here is the true soul of Spain, in the Plaza Mayor. You know what happened here, of course?” They shook their heads. Connor took a step back—that sour breath—but the old man took a step forward so that he was still almost brushing against him as he continued to hold on to Wilson’s forearm. “The Inquisition,” the old man whispered. “Right here where we stand. The Inquisition, yes? The auto-da-fés. Auto-da-fé? You understand?” They said yes yes, they understood, Connor backing quickly away while Wilson tried to pull his arm free, but the man held on, his hand feeling like a pincer, until Wilson reached into his pocket, pulled out some euros and pushed them at the man, who took them and began turning them this way and that as if he weren’t sure just what they were, and this allowed them to make their escape. They hurried off in search of a metro station, then on to the Atocha Renfe where they caught the train for Toulouse. Even leaving by mid-morning it was well past dark before they got back to Toulouse where their families were waiting, eager to hear about their experiences and impressions of Spain, but the boys had no language in which they could make themselves understood.

|

29


LIKE JESUS MICHAEL MARK poetry

They all pretty much look like Jesus— the women, too—by the time they’re taken off solids. He especially does. In only a diaper, his beggar’s beard, long hair I can’t wash without a licensed nurse’s aide. “Don’t be shy!” He lurches in his chair, says it clearly—urgently, twice, “Don’t be shy!”   He tries to pull his diaper but his right arm stopped working yesterday. I grab the plastic urinal by his cigarettes and remote control. He doesn’t want to piss himself again. “Don’t be shy!” An echo from my parents, my teachers. I was a timid boy, slow to speak up. Lonely, shy boy the girls called me, even when they knew my name. I pull his grey diaper to the side, hold the container and put him in it.

30 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


SMOKIN’ DAVE TAD MALONE poetry

He pursued forgotten passions the hoarding of sports cards, neon beer signs, landrace weed and glam rock fashions— not in dress—but in the churlish, reminiscing of before time turned and hurried past when dirty bars and angular guitars clashing in the speedy rush for a glimpse at greatness, or at least in his mind, a wresting from him something more than heinous: the simple indifference of his passing over, talent wasted for a different heir; not this now, heart thrice-stented, shin-splinted, potbellied prince of a suburban kingdom slowly chopped and quickly minced into equal parts pettiness and unflinching greed, unbecoming death before the warm conceit of care. Is this the product of a life dedicated to a hairline crease in a Topps Palmer from ’73, a Warrant drum break recorded to tape from an old TV; lamentations in the garden of previous loves, then subsequently, devious loves, wilted by amphetamines? The answers unacknowledged as we sift through garden weeds festering around a few splintered, hardly growing trees. and sun does shine, but a certain sour ink bleeds out from the pockmarked ground time measured in little hopes and rotund secrets a patchwork of choices to different degrees like the stains of mixed soil on the sides of my knees

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

31


LUCKY

KAITLYN KUEHN fiction

It was after school when my mom caught me looking at it. There was tons of rain that day, fat heavy drops you had to stop and catch on your tongue on the way to the bus stop. I got to wear my yellow boots and stomp through the leftover dead brown leaves. They were too soggy to make the crunch sound but still mashed together nice and sent little spots of mud jumping everywhere. Like frogs. My mom caught me looking at it later in my room after I hung up my raincoat and left my boots by the door so I wouldn’t track mud in but mostly so I wouldn’t have to hear about tracking mud in. And then I put my backpack down by my bed and made sure Lily was playing in the living room so I could shut the door and she wouldn’t bother me about playing dolls or watching a little kid show with her. And I knew my mom would be on her computer “just doing last minute things” for work, even though these last minute things took a lot longer than minutes and made her complain to Daddy that she wanted to go back to school. And Daddy would stare at his plate and say he wanted that for her too, but in the meantime he was still waiting on his promotion, and that these things take time to get passed through the network of idiots. When he says that Mommy usually gets really mad and I kick Lily under the table and she knows it’s her cue to spill her milk or real obvious feed her peas to our dog Jeffrey and this usually distracts Mommy and Daddy and they stop fighting and speak sternly to Lily, but not too sternly because she’s still little and her big green eyes take up about half her face and neither of them can stay mad at that. So I sat in the closet on top of all Lily’s and my shoes and under our hanging shirts and pants and I knew I wouldn’t be bothered ’cause of my mom and her computer and my sister and her TV shows and my dad and his still being at work and Jeffrey taking a nap by my mom. And I pulled up the sleeve of my favorite t-shirt which had Scooby-Doo on it which was a hand-me-down from my cousin Will and my mom asked me 32 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


if I really wanted a boy t-shirt but I said it wasn’t a boy t-shirt, it was a dog t-shirt and I insisted on it because Will was my favorite cousin and he moved to Minnesota almost a year ago. But I wasn’t thinking about any of that because I was excited and pulled up my shirt sleeve and stared at it, tracing ’round it with my finger and pressing it to see if it changed color in the middle, got lighter or not, but that’s when my mom came in to ask what I wanted for dinner and I pulled my feet into the closet real fast. But she still saw me and asked what in the world am I doing sitting on the floor of my closet. I didn’t get to say anything back because next she saw my arm and stood frozen for a second. And I didn’t know what to do so I yanked my sleeve down but she came right over and yanked it back up and said WHAT IS THAT? and WHERE DID YOU GET THAT? and I started crying and said I couldn’t tell her. Because Jackie had given it to me at school. Jackie had them all over her shoulders and back and on her collarbone, hidden by her sweater. But she rolled up her sleeve and showed me and said they were called hickeys and said you got them by sucking on skin through your teeth. And she laughed when I stuck my arm in my mouth and tried to give myself one and told me, no, someone else is supposed to give them to you. But she wouldn’t tell me who gave ’em to her. She got all serious and said you’re not supposed to tell who gives them to you, someone who loves you gives them to you but you gotta keep it a secret. But telling me about it got me wanting one and since I couldn’t give one to myself she said she would as long as we put it in a place grown-ups couldn’t see so I pulled up my shirt sleeve and got one on my arm, like where you get a shot. But I couldn’t tell my parents that when my mom called my dad to come home and they both asked me over and over where I got it and if someone had touched me or if an adult had made me get in a car with him. And I finally got real upset and said it wasn’t an adult, it was a kid but I still wasn’t saying who. And they made me swear this was true a couple times and that I would tell them if anyone, especially an adult, tried to touch me or do anything to me I didn’t want and I didn’t know what that had to do with hickeys at all because I asked Jackie to give me mine on purpose. But I said okay. And by this time my mom was crying and my dad was saying little boys had no business doing that to me and I should tell a teacher. And then he took my mom out of the room to get her to stop crying. And then I went over to my window and opened it and let in the gray air from the gray street and thought about how lucky Jackie was to have someone love her, even if she had to keep it secret.

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

33


MY MOTHER’S MIRROR MIRANDA JANESCHILD nonfiction

I wonder if making breakfast the next day is the episodic completion to a horror. As if to say, “Really, everything is all right,” or “Don’t be concerned, it never happened.” In the morning there are no apologies, no acknowledgements; we are only told to come to the table for breakfast. “I’ve made a special Sunday morning meal.” Dad is smiling but his voice sounds strained while he wakes me. He gathers my two brothers and me, and we step in line from our bedrooms, down the hallway and to the dining room table. It is a rare, quiet, dim Sunday morning from the typical cacophony of three spirited kids racing to the table and their I-am-goingto-beat-you-shouting, chair-shuffling, cereal-pouring-snap-crackle-andsugar-pop-milk-splashing-into-the-bowl start of the day. Instead, eggs, bacon, and orange juice lie waiting at a muted table. Mom is sitting at the end of the table while Dad corrals us to our designated spots. I sit at the corner across from Mom. We don’t say anything while we eat. In her white lace nightgown, shoulders hunched up by her ears, Mom’s head is turned slightly to the right. She is pretending to eat, picking up a fork then sliding and pushing some scrambled eggs on the plate, then stopping and leaving them there. Her hand returns to her lap. It feels like I am not supposed to stare at her, but I want to figure out what is wrong. I look at the buffet next to our dining room table that holds the family china and silver and find mom with a black eye inside the mirror. But wait, is that what a black eye looks like? I gather and sift through the many memories of when my brothers and I would tussle and wrestle and smack each other, and I realize I’ve never seen a black eye before. My heart beats so loudly, I think everyone can hear it, but I have to check her face to be sure. I glance from the mirror to her at the table, and then back again. Her mouth tightly shut, she keeps her face down, fixed on her plate, not eating, and it takes so long to find her right eye that I have to stare hard to confirm. I don’t want anyone to see what I am doing. I get 34 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


flustered and look down at my plate. I have to start over, staring at the mirror until I finally land on her right eye. Yes, it is black and swollen all around her halfway shut eye. I stop eating. I ask to be excused and leave without looking at anyone. Late the night before, I am pulled from my bed and land on the floor. The room is dark except for a living room light shining through my open door. The floor is cool stone in our adobe Phoenix home. I am rolling from my back to front, thumping. My body is underneath something heavy, pulling me, all this pressure on my chest. Slowly, muddled, I wake up, not sure what is happening. Becoming alert, I see Mom on top of me. She is hugging me tight and rocking me from side to side. She is kissing me over and over again on my face while we bump around. I am trying to figure out why, and where I am in the room, which is tossing about out of control-the ceiling, the door, my bed, a light across the floor. Then Ben, my little brother, calls from his bed, “Mom… Mommyyy…what are you doing?” It is strange, the things you notice when something is not quite right. Under my bed I see bright little cotton balls floating among a field of sparkling particles. The one light streaming into the room illuminates each speck of dust and casts long shadows tethering into darkness. I wonder why I’ve never noticed this little world before. I want to crawl on the floor beneath my bed and examine the glowing fluffy balls that are shaped like geodesic spheres interlocked into a maze. I tell myself that I want to come back another time and pick up one of the dust balls. Mom is saying, “I love you. You are my little girl, the only one I’ve ever really loved. Do you love me? Do you love me?” “Yes,” I say, “I do.” Ben is saying, “Mommyyyy… what are you doing?” Bewildered I say, “Yes,” again. I am tired. I want this to stop. It is weird. I look under my bed again and wonder how I can get away. She keeps kissing me with wet lips on my eyelids, and I want to wipe off the slobber. Ben is screaming, “Mommy!” She says, “Fuck you! Fuck you!” I remember that we are not supposed to swear. “I hate you. I hate men. I hate you. Don’t talk to me!” Ben’s voice becomes a moan, “Mommy.” Over and over again, she says, “Fuck you, I can’t stand men. You are disgusting. I don’t want you in my life. Only my little girl I want and love.” We are making so much noise, I am wondering why Daddy hasn’t come into the room. I want this to stop. “Daddy!” I yell. He doesn’t come, and the tossing and turning goes on for so long. I keep looking under my

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

35


bed. Ben is calling, too. My mother says, “Fuck you. I hate men,” and Daddy is not coming. I start to push and kick to get her off. Then I see the back of my big brother Chris’ legs walking down the hallway, away from us. Why is he going the other way? He should help us. Suddenly the pressure on my body is gone. I feel I am floating off the ground and light is almost blinding me. I have to squint to see the room. There are black forms above me. I then register that Daddy has grasped Mommy, and their bodies are intertwined into one dark lump. His elbows are under her armpits with her arms bent to the side, her hands flailing. Her legs are dragging, kicking, “Let me go, you asshole. I hate you. Fuck off! Let me go!” I don’t remember how I get back to bed or to sleep, but I remember being woken up for breakfast the next morning. In bed one night, about a week later, I watch Mom in the living room regarding herself in the mirror. A glowing lamp surrounds her almost silhouetted body. What if she comes in my room again? What will I do? I do not know. I am more curious than afraid as I watch her look at herself over the marble-top cabinet at the end of the hallway. I’m supposed to go to sleep. Lying on my back, I close my eyes, but I can’t help but to open them again and see her looking. Mom’s face is two to three inches from the glass. She turns her head slightly to one side, then the other. Dad told me right after the night she pulled me from my bed and dragged me across the floor hating men that she had been drinking whiskey and taken too many pills. “That night your mother didn’t know what she was doing.” Has she been drinking? Has she been taking pills? There are a lot of pills in orange bottles in her medicine cabinet. She told me once that she often needed to take Valium to calm down as well as sleeping pills to go to sleep. I’m watching her in front of the mirror. She returns here most nights when everyone is asleep. She is calm, soft, and gently moves her hands from touching her face to picking up her cigarette. It’s not like the times she sits at the dining room table after dinner, neck muscles stiff, eyes not looking at Daddy or us and her hands shaking as she reaches for a glass of wine or a Lucky Strike to put to her mouth. Then she trembles as she reaches for her silver lighter, the flame oscillating because her fingertips can not move in a straight line until the cigarette end glows orange. She blows out smoke with a precision to the side and puts the lighter down easily, smiling as though now everything is okay, and I believe her. At the end of the day, I am reassured by her return to the mirror. A rhythm marked by a slight turn of her head to one side, then the other. Her SANTA CLARA REVIEW

36 |


presence is consistent while her fingers predictably brush her cheek and chin. She pulls her nose and touches an eyebrow. I have come to rely on these quiet motions, an intimate viewing of her private world that warms me. Mom chose to leave several years later but the mirror stayed. It took me three decades to sense into and shape my uncomfortable feelings. I didn’t know how much I missed Mom until I had my own daughter. It’s not that I didn’t want to remember her, it’s just that I was kept very occupied with the sudden surprises of my family life. Granny, Mom’s mom, said that Dad killed her. Dad said that she had tried to kill herself several times before. I think they both were telling the truth, but I chose to hate Dad. Also, Dad kept me busy for years sorting through his lies, being angry at him, and I would stay away from home for days or weeks at a time without him even noticing, but I couldn’t help from craving his attention. I do recall coming home at the end of the day and catching Mom looking in the mirror over the cabinet in the living room. During those moments, Mom was alone and quiet, and my secret viewing of her became a return to warmth and comfort. But after a while I became practical. I wanted to know if, when I was her age, I would examine my face so intently. It seemed so tedious. One day, I asked her if I could go to her face and look closely to see what she was looking at. She let me touch her skin and it was stretchy. I saw so many pores and told her that they were big. She laughed. I ran to the mirror to compare her face to mine. I tried to push and pull my face around like she did. But it was stupid, so I stood back and looked at the mirror. It was old. The shiny reflective material had cracks and dots and was peeled away at the corners. The wood frame was faded gold leaf paint with carved rose swirls in it. The mirror was mounted over a white marble-top oak cabinet. Mom recreated the design of the mirror over the marble-top cabinet in all the houses we lived in. This configuration became imprinted on my mind. It is strange how the mind will turn a small memory into a comfort of hope, and then hope becomes an object. I created these units in all my homes, too. Once, after our house burned down in 2001, a friend, Leigh, gave me an old mirror to replace my mother’s original mirror. Leigh didn’t know it was a replacement. Looking at the gift, then back at Leigh, I couldn’t figure out how to tell her what this gift meant to me. This mirror was old with reflective shiny material that was cracked, splattered with dots, and peeled away at the corners. My heart pounding, I felt relieved--I could still have my memory, my object, my Mom. This mirror is over a marble-top oak cabinet in my hallway in Santa Cruz.

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

37


My daughter never met my mother. Daily, I watch her walk from her bedroom, down to the end of the hall in our Santa Cruz home, and look at herself. Tilting her head slightly to the right, she fixes her clothes and then brings her face close to the mirror and brushes her cheeks and chin. Then, satisfied, my daughter leaves the house, but her imprint remains there, with my mother and the mirror over the marble-top cabinet.

SANTA CLARA REVIEW

38 |


MY SOUL

ADAM SCHEFFLER poetry

I try not believing in my soul, which is easy, but soon there’s a horrible headline about people dying slowly in a mine collapse and before you know it my soul is up in arms, shimmying, doing a boogie which it claims is a mourning dance but looks more to me like a mating display, as if it arranged all those disasters just to show me how undaunted and heartless it is, like a vat of acid perched on a shelf that waits its whole life for somebody to push it so it can burn it’s way into something.

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

39


AUGURY

ROBERT NAZARENE poetry

Before the deluge Father stands motionless, examines the heavens, breathes in the cuprous smell of ions. The cattle in the barnyard huddle and murmur solemnly. I stick my hands in Father’s pockets, searching for pennies to place upon his lifeless eyes.

40 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


THE BIG BANG LOREN SMITH poetry

The Big Bang zaps my retinas, shakes her banging hips into the night with the harmony of a hula girl. And my big love goes bang, goes to Bermuda like a bottle cap from a big shaken bottle. Booms like a bomb blowing up in the firework sky. Zips and zooms in my hair. Bangs away at the nail in my heart. “Light of my night!” “Yeah right,” she says - goes BANG! with her big ol’ heels. Whips by me like a flash and her tongue ring bangs against another girl’s belly button and my brain says “Hell with this.”

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

41


I REALIZED THAT I WAS NOTHING TO EVERYONE AND SHOUTED “AMEN!” ELI ISHIBASHI

digital art

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

43


CA_HWY_1_STINSON_BEACH ALLEN FORREST oil on canvas 24” x 36”

44 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


WOMEN ALLEN FORREST

pencil, ink, watercolor 11”x15”

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

45


ROLLING JUNKYARD SERIES 01 TIM FITTS

digital photography

46 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


PERSONA OR: ALL SANCTUARIES SMELL LIKE STOCKHOLM JOSEPH JP JOHNSON fiction

MONDAY. John drew in the bathroom air, humid air laced with deodorant and soap. It was filling, cleansing. He paused. Held. Released. He formed the exiting air into his finest Max von Sydow accent: “My name ees Yo-han. My fay-vrit sit-ty ees Stohk-ome.” Again. Each syllable equal. Staccato. Hint of a roll to the ‘r,’ but not like a Spanish roll. Breathe in. Gentle. Breathe out. Be natural. Be Swedish. His mother’s voice, flat and accentless, called from beyond the door and reminded John that he was only John, and he was going to be late for school if he didn’t hurry. John broke eye contact with his almostScandinavian self. It would take much more work to undo sixteen years without a convincing heritage. His mother called again. John gave one last look at the mirror, angry with the unfinished adult that glared back. He left the bathroom, retrieved his coat and backpack, and draped a cyan-and-yellow scarf around his neck. It would be cold today. Cold like Stockholm, land of John’s forefathers—of Grandfather, and Ingmar Bergman. November crept through his charcoal-gray coat, through his storebrand jeans, through his flag scarf. The oppressive season was over. Longer nights and a brighter, cooler moon now restrained the obstinate sun that bleached paint and burned grass in central Washington. It was time for a quieter season, for white, frosted lawns and darkened evenings. It was time for holidays. Advent. It is called Advent, isn’t it? John pulled a white mess of wires from his pocket and placed speakers into his ears. The cables hung like a stethoscope that transmitted his pulse between his mind and heart and told him not that he was alive, but how he should live. It was eight blocks of controlled atmosphere—each song specifically chosen for him, by him—a soundtrack with John as the protagonist worthy of his own theme. He’d programmed a Bach piece in an attempt to undo years of alternative rock and his sister’s dance pop. He was SANTA CLARA REVIEW

48 |


beginning to recognize, maybe even enjoy, the warmth of the Brandenburg Concerto’s second Allegro. He’d added St. Matthew’s Passion just for winter, the perfect score for the gap—was it called Advent? Epiphany?— between Christmas and his very first Lenten season. John walked east down Spruce Street toward the Community of Christ Church. The CCC parking lot was the last outpost of public underage smoking in Yakima and, for some reason, the police and school did little to stop it. It was holy ground, sacred ground, or some kind of neutral state; no adult set foot on weekdays, and no student loitered on Sabbaths. Perhaps the elders assumed the teens were coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking refugees of an AA meeting. John kept his head down and continued past the church, staying on the other side of the street. “John,” someone called from the parking lot, and he stopped. It was Tina. The white girl with short black hair, standing between Jorge and Aaron, just to the rear of Mike and Randall. She wore black leggings, black boots, black coat. Black lipstick and eyeliner. John watched her pull away from the stucco wall, a shadow escaping its master, as she drew from her cigarette. It was impossible to tell if the cloud around her was her smoke or breath, or the smoke and breath of the eight other smokers. John could imagine this group of orphans at seventy, facing a sagging death, talking— through those strange robotic voice boxes—about sex and music and the good ol’ days with the other patients in the cancer ward. Mike would hit on the nurse, and Randall would show his faded, blurred tattoos, and Tina… well. What would become of Tina? John lifted his chin from his scarf and nodded at her. It was a faint nod, but she would see it. He attempted fleeting eye contact with the mascara where her eyes would be. He buried his hands deeper into his coat pockets. “Hey, Yo-han,” called Jorge. Why does he say it that way? He used to be “George,” didn’t he? No one made fun when he started saying “Horhey.” John exchanged a glance, an acknowledgment, with the tall Mexican boy with the shaved head and unconvincing goatee. He looked both ways before crossing the street, dropping the headphone from his left ear as he walked toward the church, toward the nicotine fog. “What’cha listening to?” said Aaron. Besides Jorge, he was the only non-white in the group—Indian. Native American, not India Indian. “Swans,” said John, because Aaron thought Swans was the greatest band in existence. “Some War on Drugs, and—” He looked at Tina for approval. What was her band again? “Waxahatchee.” “We might skip first period,” said Jorge. “Mike has his mom’s car.” “I can’t,” said John quickly. “I have pre-calc. Mr. Thompson knows

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

49


my mom, so she might find out.” “Maybe tomorrow,” said Jorge. “Do you want a smoke?” said Aaron. “No, thanks, I better go. I’m on third floor.” “Hey, Yo-han,” said Jorge. “How’s your sister? She doesn’t walk by here anymore.” “Meg’s fine. She comes early, for zero period—Advanced Poetry or something.” John fidgeted and shivered. “I better go.” “Hey, Yo-han,” said Jorge. “Cómo se dice later in Swedish?” John looked down at his feet. “Hej då,” he said quietly. “Okay, Yo-han. Hey-daw,” said Jorge. John pulled away. He snuck his right hand from his coat pocket for an underhand wave to Tina. She pulled the cigarette from her black lips, lifted her bloodless hand, and returned the gesture. John crossed Seventh Avenue—the moat surrounding the walls of A. C. Davis High School—the boundary that separated the castle from the modern world. He hid his headphones before one of the corrupt sheriffs could confiscate them. At lunch, John was surprised to find Tina and Jorge and a few of the other church smokers still on campus, at the collapsible benches in the multi-purpose room. They usually went to someone’s house or KFC or one of the fifty mini-marts in town. Jorge ate from a steel tray, his food separated into little compartments. Tina was next to him, and Mike and Aaron sat across. John thought Tina looked somehow both pleased and anxious when she him. It was hard to tell with her—perhaps he was only seeing his own pleasure and terror, but he went to sit with them anyway. He pulled a plastic-coated sandwich and Fritos from his bag, a lunch his Mom had thrown in while he was taming his cowlick and practicing dialect. Jorge helped himself to a Frito while Tina chewed on an unnaturally pale pile of potatoes and turkey gravy. “I didn’t think you guys would be here,” said John. “Tina didn’t want to leave,” said Jorge. “She said she wasn’t feeling well.” “I hate eating here,” said Mike. “It’s creepy. The Nazis in the office probably have hidden cameras.” “Yo-han,” said Jorge. “Has Tina always been so moody?” Tina continued grazing, unmoved by Jorge’s jab. “How would he know? We never hung out that much,” she said, saving John. “We just used to go to the same church.” “Damn,” said Aaron. “You go to church?” SANTA CLARA REVIEW

50 |


TUESDAY. John made a wide detour around the church. He had nothing to say this morning; he was too tired to fake a smile or make excuses for not hanging out at lunch. Instead he walked east, down Tieton, and entered the campus from the park side. He followed the cement walkway into the cement courtyard, past the cement benches, toward one of the cement stairways. He scaled each step, avoiding eye contact with packs of red- and blue-hooded boy-men. The janitors had painted over the third-floor lockers, again. A futile effort that would be undone before the day’s final bell. By Wednesday, John’s locker would have a fresh spray-painted XIV; by Thursday, it would be scratched out with a key, perhaps sprayed over with XIII or CPV. It didn’t really matter to John. The gangs rarely touched the white kids. The hallway filled with other students murmuring about the new layer of paint or the cold or their neglected homework. Two sophomore girls stood back-to-back texting other people. They took shifts, keeping watch so that a teacher wouldn’t surprise them and take their phones. A couple of juniors exchanged last minute gropings. Two freshmen talked about a new Star Wars theory. “Hey,” said a voice. Barely a whisper. John turned around. Tina stood there, alone and dark and pretty. At least, still holding the form of prettiness. “We’re skipping first. You should come with us.” “I can’t skip,” he said. “Is it because of Jorge?” John didn’t say anything. “He’ll behave. You should come.” “I really have to go to class.” “Please, John.” “You have Jorge and Mike and Aaron.” He held steady, like a real man. “John.” He took a half step backwards. “I can’t.” Ask me one more time, please. Make me go. SANTA CLARA REVIEW

“That was a long time ago.” “Maybe you should start again,” said Jorge. “Confess your sins.” Tina gripped her right wrist and tugged down on the sleeve of her coat. She balled her fingers and slammed Jorge’s arm—hard, from the sound of it. Then she picked up her still-loaded tray, tossed it into a trashcan, and walked out of the lunchroom. Jorge watched her go, rubbing his arm and smiling. “Man, Jorge,” said Mike, “You’re not getting any today.”

|

51


WEDNESDAY. John avoided the smokers’ church again, though this time he had a reason. He’d been taking this other route every Wednesday and Friday since school started, since he returned from the summer with his father. Since he declared he was a Lutheran named Johan. Mom didn’t take it well: Did your father tell you to do this? I thought he didn’t care about church. He’s never cared. Bethlehem Lutheran was a red-brick building one block from the high school. John imagined these bricks were made from holy soil and purified by fire. There was no cloud of student smoke at Bethlehem. Maybe it was because on Wednesday and Friday mornings the church opened the doors to students, offering juice and donuts and a chance to escape the cold. It was a shelter. John needed shelter. “Good morning, Pastor Beck,” said John. “Hi, John. Do you want to help the Wilsons set out the food?” “Sure.” John walked through the opening lobby—was it called the narthex or the nave?—down a hallway, past classroom doors and the pastor’s study, into the coffee-scented fellowship hall. It had collapsible brown tables, white walls, and old prints of robed and bearded Jesus as a shepherd. John greeted Mr. Wilson. He always wanted to ask him what he did for a living—if he was retired, why he was here, why he was always happy. John wondered if he, too, would wear purple sweaters one day. Mr. Wilson set plastic forks on a table. He walked toward John with a full smile and extended hand. John joined his hand and squeezed, giving a quick, firm shake. “Laura’s getting the last tray together. Could you help her finish cutting Danishes?” John walked into the kitchen to see the tall, elegant woman cutting a pastry into perfect quarters. Two confident cuts. A white collar topped her purple sweater. Always a matching pair. Other students appeared. John recognized Alice Jensen; they were in band class together as ninth graders. There were two younger boys, lifelong Lutherans, homeschoolers who lived nearby—Was it Dan and Don or Dave and Doug? “Hey, guys,” John said. Then there was Robert Page, the one guy who no one ever doubted, the alpha male who captured all the good Teutonic spirit that birthed Lutheranism. He looked twentyfive and solid, like a wrestler, and had a short mohawk that would have looked phony on a lesser person. He was the smartest and politest of the student Lutherans, and he loved the Wilsons and the pastor, and he loved confession, and he closed his eyes when he took the bread and wine. He always crossed himself afterward. Robert also loved leather jackets and old punk bands and took communion in a Black Flag shirt. If I could be SANTA CLARA REVIEW

52 |


someone else, I would be Robert. The Wilsons and Pastor Beck ate and talked with the students and, for the moment, the divide between the ages and identities disappeared. Then some of the older members trickled in, and when the elders outnumbered the young they left the fellowship hall for the sanctuary to take communion. It was open to all, but except for Robert, none of the high schoolers took part. John had never taken Lutheran communion. He was still in membership classes and making up for missing Confirmation. But he liked to watch this strange ritual, liked being in the sanctuary. The air was quiet. Aged. It mingled with the wooden pews and the altar and ornaments, the sacramental wine and crumbs of blessed bread. Had John felt surer about it, he might have said “holy” air. He thought of how Tina had once described smoking to him. When you breathe it in, she said, it fills your lungs and arms and neck, and it’s like your body releases, and you feel a moment of rest. Maybe that’s why it causes an evil like cancer. Because it promises what only should be given by sacramental air. The final bell rang and the halls erupted. It was as if the students were Eisenhower-era laborers freed from the production line. The dayshift gathered their lunchboxes and scurried toward cars and buses. They flowed into the halls, the smell of new spray-paint mixed with perfume and Axe and perspiration. Voices shouted, sang, and whispered in a symphony of liberated noise. The metal lockers slammed, outer doors squeaked, crumpled papers littered the floor, and in a moment, like the calm after a car crash, the halls emptied and it was over. John stayed by his locker. He shuffled his books around and searched the bottom—perhaps Tina had dropped a note through the vents. He hadn’t seen her since Tuesday morning—her friends were in the lunchroom, but she wasn’t. Maybe she’ll come back. She knows where my locker is. He played a movie scene in his head, the cheesy American kind: the couple is supposed to meet up, but there’s a delay and the girl misses the boy by a half second—a turned corner—leading to ninety minutes of rejection and pain and misunderstanding. But John had no right to expect Tina. This was no movie and there was no misunderstanding. John had been very clear. John closed his locker and descended the brick-and-concrete citadel. He walked slowly, scanning courtyard and walkways. He finally crossed Seventh in search of the Church Nine. Jorge was there, as were Mike and Aaron, Leonard and Cindy. There was Steve and another girl John didn’t

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

53


recognize. “Yo-han. Qué pasa?” said Jorge. “Hey,” said John. “Where’s Travis and Tina? I haven’t seen Tina since this morning.” “Travis is home watching his little brother,” said Aaron. “Tina. She said she wasn’t feeling good. Smoke?” John waved the cigarette away. “How come you never stay?” said Jorge. “I just always have to be somewhere, I guess.” “Do you have to be somewhere right now?” said Jorge. John flirted with telling the truth, with saying his mom wouldn’t be home until after five and Meg was at volleyball and no one in the world knew or cared what he did on weekday afternoons. “My mom’s sorta a neat freak, and I have to clean the bathroom, like scrub the toilet and stuff. I’m probably already late.” He scrambled to add more to his story. “And I have a pre-calc test tomorrow I have to study for, so I better get going. Is it three already?” John made a quick glance to the wrist where his watch would be if he had one. “Maybe tomorrow.” THURSDAY. John stared at his reflection, the torturer. He stared at eyes that should be blue and hair that should be blonde. He cursed the face, and it cursed him back. He criticized the clothes—the bland wardrobe accented by a dull head filled with a mediocre mind. Gentle, Johan. Breathe. John walked to school by the smoker’s church. He even crossed on the north sidewalk, right in front of the group. The cloud was smaller. He counted eight. No Tina. Why join, why breathe in death and emptiness if there’s no Tina? “Hey, Johnny,” said Jorge, touching John’s neck with an icy hand— John had forgotten his scarf. “Yo-han. Your sister’s a senior, right? That why she’s so busy?” “Yeah,” said John. “She’s picking out colleges.” The faint sound of a violin floated from John’s headphones as they hung down his shoulders. He tried to find some comfort in the scraps of treble that linked him to a home he’d never seen in color. “Can I ask you a question,” said Jorge. John nodded. “What do you think about Meg and me? I never see her with a guy, so I figure she isn’t seeing anyone.” “I don’t know,” said John. “She seems pretty serious about not dating, since she broke up with Glen.” “Good to know.” SANTA CLARA REVIEW

54 |


“Hey Aaron,” said Mike. “Georgey-boy is trying to bone Johnny’s sister.” Aaron laughed as Jorge shot both of them a keep-it-cool-in-frontof-the-brother glance. Dear God. Please don’t let that happen. “What about Tina?” said John. “She’s a little weird.” “You still together?” “I don’t know. Haven’t seen her since Tuesday. I think she’s still sick or something.” “I got class,” said John. “Always to class, Yo-han. It’s not the real world. You know that, right?” Real world. What does that even mean? “See you.” “Hey, John,” Jorge said. “Say hi to Meg for me.” John stood on the third floor balcony. He wasn’t high enough to say they all looked like ants. They still looked like students, like people. Some he even recognized. There was Peter Thompson, in his Navy pea coat. There was Jaime Salvado, shivering in his hooded sweatshirt, more afraid to cover the red than of freezing to death. He and Jaime had been best friends in fourth grade. There was Gale Smith, an androgynous junior who only hung out with other androgynous girls until softball season. She and Meg used to be friends. Most were anonymous. The four black girls followed by guys in black and orange lettermen jackets. There were the musicians emerging from zero-period band. There were a few Yakamas, aliens in a land that once belonged to them. They were followed by the country boys—the cowboys. Both cowboys and Indians were minorities at Davis High. And then there were administrators and teachers and security patrols trying to appear friendly, but always looking, always watching out for a lawsuit. But there was no Tina. FRIDAY. Bethlehem Lutheran was still foreign to John, especially since for ten years—since the divorce—his family went to the Baptist church. To John, Christianity spread through pop songs and grape juice and flyers, through multimedia lectures urging him to make Jesus the Lord of his life. He’d grown up going to youth group, playing games and telling stories and talking about making “God-honoring decisions.” Sex. Always sex. Not even Mike and Aaron talked about sex as much as youth group did. John didn’t want to talk to the scattered churchgoers. He wished that it was Wednesday and that he was able to take communion. There was

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

55


something wrong in him, almost like a sin worth forgiving. He snatched a blueberry bagel and a paper cup of orange juice, briefly greeting Pastor Beck, the Wilsons, and a couple old ladies he recognized from Sunday mornings. He ate and exited, past Robert and his mohawk, into the hallway. He looked at the classroom doors and marveled how dormant the church seemed. He wandered into the narthex, past doors that opened right, to Tieton Avenue, and left, into the sanctuary. He wasn’t ready for Yakima yet. The sanctuary was dark, lit only by a bulb near the altar and the emerging sun filling the windows. The tobacco-colored pews, slowly warming, exchanged small creaks, like waking trees. The altar was empty. In the third row was the darkened shape of head and shoulders, a pilgrim or vagrant who had claimed solitude before John could. The head—the dark, short-haired head—shifted briefly and looked back. The silhouette turned forward again, facing the altar. A bodiless voice floated in the air. “Hi, John.” “Tina?” John moved toward her, stepping in and out of the light, watching the great room for apparitions of saints. He sat on the edge of the pew, only a breath from Tina, or someone that looked like Tina. She was stripped of her raccoon mask. Her eyes were hazel. The mascara and lipstick were absent, and Tina’s face was pink and plain. Her skin had contours and acne—flaws usually concealed by caked-on powder. This Tina was unfinished. She was still in black, but looked more like a mourner than a member of the undead. There was something improper about looking at her. It was as if John had chanced upon her emerging from a bath. He wasn’t supposed to see her this way, unadorned, unmarked, unveiled for the presence of God. He finally had a sense of how a woman’s exposed calf awakened Puritan passion. He understood a Muslim man’s desire when removing his wife’s covering, discovering her hidden, flowing hair. Tina was naked and John was hazy with wonder and shame. He sat beside her, holding his hands together, restraining them from reaching for her cheeks or lips. He sat and calmed his heart. Gentle. Gentle. Breathe. They sat in silence, eyes parallel, staring to the altar. They needed a first word—permission to split the air. And John, in a moment he couldn’t understand, unclasped his hands and slid his left toward her right, and his fingers covered hers, and the two frozen fists formed warmth, a nest where life could be nurtured. Without breaking their forward gazes, they sat. Tina inhaled. She drew her breath, a full breath. She released, and she said, or maybe it was the walls that said, “I’m pregnant.” John heard, but didn’t speak. He kept his hand holding hers and let the words ring and thought about what they meant, and in a moment of SANTA CLARA REVIEW

56 |


grace, he didn’t think to ask who the father was or whether she told her parents or what she was going to do. He just sat. John felt Tina turn. Maybe he felt the air move. He shifted toward her, gazing at her chin. His eyes ascended her face, chin to lip, lip to lip, lip to nose and then to the eyes, those foreign yet familiar hazel eyes. “Do you remember all those videos they used to show, back in youth group?” she said. “They used to tell us our bodies were temples and that the world would try to destroy the temples. They used to say how God wanted us to be pure.” John nodded. Tina bit her lip and exhaled. “Do you think God is angry at me?” It was a simple question, but John couldn’t form a yes or no. He didn’t have a right to answer. How would I know? If He’s mad at you, He must hate me. “I’m sorry I didn’t go with you Tuesday,” he said. Her head dropped. She tightened her grip on John’s hand. “It’s okay,” she said. “Is that when you found out?” “That’s when I knew.” “Jorge said you were sick.” “That’s how Jorge would describe it.” John faced the empty altar. On Wednesday and Sunday Christ would be there, and he would offer forgiveness. None on Friday. “There’s a movie I saw this summer—when I stayed with my Dad,” said John. He paused, waiting for Tina to tell him to stop or go on. She said nothing, and John, having no better idea, continued. “It’s about this pastor and he doesn’t believe in God, and he asks, ‘Why have you forsaken me,’ just like Jesus did, and God doesn’t say anything. So the pastor thinks that means God’s not real. So he tells this fisherman maybe nothing matters. The pastor actually says that, and the fisherman loses all hope and he shoots himself by the river—’cause he’s scared of nuclear war or something, and if God doesn’t care, why should he?” John waited, but Tina said nothing. She breathed, and that was consent. “It turns out that the pastor’s wife had died, and he couldn’t see God after that. But he keeps doing his job. He gets up every Sunday. He does the Lord’s Supper and he tells people the wine they drink is the blood of Jesus and that their sins are forgiven. Some people believe it and some don’t, but he still gives it out, because, even if he doesn’t believe it, that’s what he’s supposed to do.” John swallowed. He hadn’t said this many words to another person in months. “At the end, there’s this hunchback guy, and he’s in a lot of pain and

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

57


he tells the pastor he doesn’t think the torture and crucifixion was the worst part of Jesus’ death. He said he thought it was feeling forsaken by God and his friends and how that suffering must be the greatest a person can experience.” Tina squeezed John’s hand. “Do you believe that? About suffering?” she said. “I think so. It all made sense,” he said. “Maybe it’s true or maybe it’s just the way they think in old Swedish films. I can’t explain why, but I understood it, the way that I can’t explain why I’m here, in this church, but I understand it.” “You understand Swedish films?” “Not Swedish, like the language, but how Swedish movies feel,” John said. “Something about them. My Dad has dozens of those movies. I watched them all summer. He was off at work, and I was home alone because Meg didn’t come and I can’t drive. So I just watched those movies. There was this one about a girl who goes crazy and thinks God is a spider and there’s another one about a knight playing chess with death. I tried to learn chess, but I suck at it.” “Is that the deal with ‘Johan’?” said Tina. John struggled to answer. He knew it was connected, but he never tried explaining it. “Dad told me about how my grandfather came from Sweden. Mostly I just think of those movies, and they make me feel more alone, but more not alone.” “So you’re acting Swedish.” “I am Swedish. More than any other thing. But those movies made sense. I started thinking maybe I come from somewhere.” “Maybe you should just join the film club,” said Tina. “Maybe.” “And this church?” “Grandpa was Lutheran. He said no self-respecting Swede would be anything else. Dad said Grandpa almost didn’t go to his wedding because Mom’s a Baptist.” “Harsh.” “Dad doesn’t even go to church. But I like it here. It makes sense to me, like those movies.” Tina was prettier than John remembered. He pictured himself kissing her cheek, but left it undisturbed. Perhaps if he were Italian, if he were Giovanni, he would have seized her and caressed her and kissed her until she was enraptured, and the church would glow with candles and summer warmth and an invigorating Mediterranean breeze. But he held the moment, held her hand, and tried to burn the image of her naked face into his mind. He tried to connect it with the face he had always known. “I haven’t been in a church for a long time,” said Tina. “Maybe the SANTA CLARA REVIEW

58 |


reason I feel dirty now is because of the way I was clean then.” “You should come here. Like on Sundays,” said John. “I don’t think it’s for me anymore. But I think it fits you.” Tina reached her left hand into her pocket and drew out a phone. “Three minutes till class.” John paused and breathed in Tina and the wood and the stillness. “Maybe we should sit here a little longer.” Tina clenched John’s hand, and it warmed. “I think I love Jorge,” she said. John’s grip softened, but he summoned his Viking ancestors. He tried to sound strong, not envious—concerned, not petty. “Jorge doesn’t even know you.” She let out a short, dry laugh. “Do you know me, John?” “Better than Jorge.” “I’m not sure about that.” It felt like a slap, but John took it without blinking. He considered it. Maybe she was right. Maybe he didn’t know anyone. But he would know himself after the pastor gave him the sacrament, after his mother accepted him, after his father returned home, and after Tina left Jorge. He was close to being himself. For now, in this moment, he felt like John. I think this is me, right here, he almost said. And he held to Tina as long as she would be held, and spent a moment—together and alone—in eternity where there was no high school or Jorge or divorce, only sanctuary. No shame, only sacrament. No persona. Only Tina and John and air that held the fragrance of old Swedish films.

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

59


BALMY ALLEY FOREVER LINDA ZAMORA LUCERO fiction

Chuy Rosales is working on sketches for the Taquería Frida mural when baby-faced Justin, the third landlord to buy his house in as many years, shows up on his doorstep flashing titanium-white teeth. “I’m planning to sell after I rehab the property and it’ll be easier without you in it,” Justin says after a quick hello. Planting his feet firmly on the threshold, Chuy mimics Justin’s cheery voice: “I come in peace and mean you no harm.” He nods towards an unruly shrub blooming vermilion at the bottom of the stairs. “See those geraniums, Justin? Planted by my abuelo in the fifties, que descanse en paz.” “If you move by June, you can stay rent-free and I’ll forgive the back rent. It’s a generous offer.” “My old landlord traded art for rent. One painting, one month. It’s a generous offer.” Justin makes a tsk-tsk sound. “I’m sorry, Mr. Rosales.” “Pues, chinga tu madre and all of your unborn children.” Justin’s smile vanishes, leaving Chuy perversely invigorated. A week later, Chuy comes home from the market to find the San Francisco County Sheriff’s eviction notice duct-taped to his door. Shaking with rage, he rips it up and phones Sylvie at the Tenants Union. “Seventy-two hours—court order? Can he do this?” “Is your rent paid up yet? That’s key, like I said before. You’re sixtyone, been there your whole life. That’ll buy you a couple of years. And if you end up having to move, you’ll at least get relocation costs.” Chuy knows relocation all right. As a kid, he pitied the urine-soaked drunks passed out in doorways of the last chance bars in the Mission District. Navajos, according to his abuelo, moved off reservations by the Feds. In the name of urban renewal, Chuy has witnessed the black community pushed out of the Fillmore, the Filipinos physically removed from the I-Hotel. And 60 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


Talk about timing. Chuy hadn’t planned on going to Mundo Villa’s barbeque. The invite for Sunday, relayed through their mutual buddy Gato, had come as a surprise, given how Chuy and Mundo left things two years back. But as his abuelo would say, la vida funciona de manera misteriosa— life works in mysterious ways. Having no gas money, he catches a ride with Gato, who swoops into Balmy in his ’69 Skylark, Midnight Blue, “My Girl” blasting, wearing a backwards-flipped Giants cap like a damned teenager. “I’m glad you decided to come,” Gato says. “It’s like a big family reunion.” Chuy slides in and turns off the music. “I’m not going up there to socialize.” “Relax, homes. Six K is nothing to someone like Mundo, lucky for you.” At last they’re on the Golden Gate Bridge, flying high above the choppy blue waters, the East Bay hills in the hazy distance. Babbling on like a television in an empty room, Gato points his chin towards the silver Jaguar cutting into their lane. “Sun shines bright on kings and pawns alike. Everything’s gonna work out just fine.” Chuy isn’t as convinced. Two years ago, his Celica rattled itself to death near Gilroy, and a day later a hardly-used van—courtesy of Mundo—was delivered to his house. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen his homie, but Chuy wasn’t one to question how or why. The vehicle was a godsend. Filled with gratitude, he drove to Vegas, where the Buffalos were playing the Hard Rock. Huge mistake. Not that he’d had high expectations musically—he almost cringed every time he heard them on the radio recently—but damn. It hurt Chuy’s heart to see the Buffs play like zombies, a bloated Mundo swigging off a bottle of tequila, coming in late on ragged solos that went nowhere, the audience indifferent. Spotting Chuy in the audience, Mundo burst into laughter. Afterwards, Mundo poured shots in the cluttered dressing room and relaxed into his armchair, reminiscing about good times on Balmy. Chuy listened quietly from a barstool, averting his eyes SANTA CLARA REVIEW

now techies with fistfuls of entitlement were occupying the Mission like a conquering army. Everyone Chuy knows has been affected by owner moveins, mind-boggling rent hikes, unjust evictions. La Galería Libertad—his artistic base for thirty years—is now a pinche hipster café. Of the longtime residents of Balmy Alley, only Señora Lopez and the Crespins remain—the Aguilars, Robertsons and Riveras forced out to who knows where. “You have till Tuesday,” Sylvie says. “Relocation, my ass.” Chuy’s mind, already spinning, lands on the only person he knows with that kind of dough.

|

61


Gato’s Skylark rumbles past rows of leafy grapevines, green turning gold under the August sun. “Mundo is back on top, baby! And still real as real! Vato quit pot and took up Pilates, vato may be partying with Prince…” “Yeah, yeah,” Chuy says. His nerves are ragged. He’s hardly eaten or slept, his mood swinging from anger to panic and back, raging against the landlord, the mayor, late stage capitalism. Eviction is unthinkable. “But what if he doesn’t help me?” “Mundo don’t forget his roots. He’s helped plenty of us.” Rubbing his chin, Chuy realizes he’s forgotten to shave. One summer, he and Mundo had shared a paper route. Chuy’s mama would wake him in the dark and make him breakfast—she hadn’t gotten sick yet, so he must have been nine. They collected the bundled newspapers from the delivery truck waiting on 24th Street, sleepwalking down empty sidewalks in the fog, shivering. Chuy complained like hell until Mundo reminded him of the ice cream at St. Francis Soda Fountain. They went there after they finished their route. It was the real deal, none of the ice milk you’d find at some joints—double scooped in a cone, vanilla and strawberry, chocolate dipped, rainbow sprinkles. Back then, everybody knew Chuy was an artist and would always be one. Mundo was the surprise. He took up the saxophone in middle school, practiced nonstop. In high school, he and the Buffalos played dances, weddings, community fundraisers, the Fillmore. Then came a major recording contract, and the Villas moved to Los Angeles. Mundo insisted on Chuy’s now-iconic portrait of the Buffalos for the cover of Fly, their first hit album. That’s how Chuy, newly graduated

SANTA CLARA REVIEW

62 |

from Mundo’s swollen belly. “Okay, I know what you’re thinking,” Mundo said, “but a lot of folks depend on Mundo Villa for their paychecks, and Rita likes her things…” “Used to be no one could touch you.” Mundo frowned. “No matter what I do, they want Fly.” He muttered about an upcoming gig in Moscow. “Russian mafia. On Thanksgiving. It ain’t easy.” “You’re getting buried in your own crap. Trouble is no one is telling you. You can do anything you set your mind to.” It had to be said, but in the angry silence that filled the room, Chuy understood it was time to go. He finished his drink and rose. “Anyway, I appreciate the van. Sincerely. If there’s ever anything I can do for you…” “Try some reality.” Two years later, three months ago, Mundo took home seven Grammys for the new Buffalo CD, Caminos, including Album of the Year.


SANTA CLARA REVIEW

from the Art Institute, became the unexpected go-to graphics guy for seventies rock bands. Unlike Mundo, Chuy couldn’t deal with L.A. or the record business. After a chingazo with a record producer at a party—might have been over a girl, or the producer’s frequent, casually racist remarks; Chuy’s recollection was fuzzy—he returned to Balmy and got a job teaching in an afterschool arts program. His photographer girlfriend Patsy moved in, and when Diego was born, the neighbors celebrated with a humungous block party. Less than a year into the job, everything changed for Chuy. He heard it first on the evening news—the cops had put one of his students into a coma for graffing a schoolyard wall. Chuy had taken a liking to the kid, who was always drawing cars. Chuy had taught him how to shade to give the cars a metallic sheen. The spokesman for the police cast the fourteen-year-old as a criminal who deserved every skull-crushing blow. Something shifted inside Chuy. After the memorial service, he gathered his paints and brushes and covered his garage door with chotapig marionettes raining bastonazos on the kid while city honchos pulled the strings. His neighbors gathered as he painted, whispering as though just seeing the truth might get them in trouble. The mural completed, he looked around with blazing eyes and saw walls begging color and shape, begging stories untold. On the fence down the alley, he began painting his barrio, beautiful and bright as the sun: kids with oversized backpacks like tortoise shells, gente waiting like Godot for the Muni, teenagers strutting, yellow and green sparking beneath their soles. Brown and working-class folks absent from galleries, museums, history books. He convinced the neighbors to give their walls to Art. He painted his beloved abuelo who had since passed into another world. He painted a lost boy crying for his mama—a self-portrait, according to Patsy. Other artists found their way to Balmy, and before long its walls featured rifle-toting revolucionarias, two-legged briefcase-carrying rats, streetcorner jornaleros desperate for work. “Acrylic on wood fence, admission-free! Balmy Alley—for, by and of el pueblo,” Chuy declared, grandly waving his brush. “We don’t need no stinkin’ museos.” It wasn’t long before the media noticed. ArtWeek deemed him “a Chicano artist to watch,” gushing about his “boyish good looks,” as if that had anything to do with his art. While the Buffalos were tearing it up on the world’s stages, Chuy travelled the globe painting walls: Phoenix, Havana, Amsterdam. These days, mural commissions are rare. He manages to sell a painting every few months. He regularly barters his smaller artwork for pot, a tune-up, a crate of strawberries to share with the few neighbors who remain.

|

63


“Party’s already started!” Gato says, parking on the freshlyasphalted driveway. They both get out and head towards music booming, coming from the rear of the sprawling stone house surrounded by olive trees. Cadmium-yellow birds dart across the manicured grounds, chirping melodiously. A marble fountain sprays sunlit water into the air. “I’m going inside to take a leak first.” Chuy needs to calm his jitters and plan his approach. Gato nods and walks around towards the back of the house. The front door is unlocked. The living room has a grand piano, burgundy leather furniture, a photo of the Villas with the Obamas on the mantel. Chuy’s attention is drawn by the art on the walls. Garza, Almaraz, Chagoya—a surprisingly decent collection, he decides. A gold-framed canvas near the fireplace catches his eye. With a shiver of pleasure, he recognizes the painting used for the cover of Fly. His painting. He chuckles, recalling the windy day he sketched it plein air, posing the Buffalos on the stoop of his blue cottage. At the top is Indio the bassist, purple shirt unbuttoned, so stoned on acid he kept cracking up at the clouds racing overhead. Boris with his skyscraper Afro, in the citrine robe a Japanese fan had gifted him. Sallie, squatting on the sidewalk in a newsboy cap, drumsticks across his knees. Mundo, slouched against the rail in carbon-black braids and faded Levis, cradling his sax, smiling slyly, as if he already knew he was the new-crowned king. Chuy had slid himself in there too, in the reflection in the bay window, pencil in hand. Chuy bites his lip to check the unexpected moisture brimming in his eyes. For all Mundo’s success, their last meeting had made it clear what an unhappy, drunken mess he was. Not that Chuy’s in any better shape. He had put it all out there for his community, pencil to paper, brush to wall, letting nothing between, not even his family. And for what? To lose everything? “Balmy Alley forever!” Startled, Chuy turns to see Mundo’s warm smile. “Hey, Mundo. You’re looking good.” Mundo embraces Chuy. “Twenty months sober, I’m proud to say. Las Vegas, man, that was a low-point, verdad?” Behind rose-tinted glasses, his friend is glowing—bare-chested in turquoise pants, the potbelly history. “It’s good to be back home...not saying Napa is the Mission.” “Not even the Mission is the Mission anymore,” Chuy says bitterly. Mundo laughs. “So how are things with you?” Chuy’s heart stalls and sputters. This is the time to ask, but before he finds his voice Mundo says, “I’m glad you’re here. Let me show you something.” He steers Chuy towards a cavernous kitchen at the other end of the house where a woman is peeling mangos and others are working steaming pots, and points to the wall opposite the cooks. “That’s where Rita wants a mural. Her concept is about depicting the bounty of the SANTA CLARA REVIEW

64 |


SANTA CLARA REVIEW

Americas...chiles, aguacate, chocolate...tú sabes.” Mural? The wall is flawless, about ten by fifteen, primed. Chuy puzzles Mundo’s words until it strikes him: Mundo is responding to his Las Vegas offer of “anything I can do for you.” A gesture he hadn’t expected his friend to remember, much less take him up on. Mundo’s extended arms make a heart shape. “And in the mero centro, a red corazón surrounded by yellow lumbre.” The man’s gotta be joking. Chuy will never paint a hokey heart in anyone’s kitchen, not even Mundo Villa’s, no matter how desperate he is. And he is desperate, sin duda. His anxiety rises to his throat, making it hard to swallow. “Hey, Mundo, listen. I need a loan.” The words emerge choked and pathetic, but Mundo seems not to have heard him. He’s still examining the blank wall. “Or blue flame? Que crees? You’re the artist.” “I’m being evicted,” Chuy insists, louder. “Mundo!” A pigtailed girl in a swimsuit enters from the patio. “Rita’s calling you!” Chuy steps between Mundo and the girl. “If I don’t come up with six thousand by Tuesday, I have to leave Balmy.” Mundo hesitates, cocks his head as if processing this information. Chuy feels his face getting hot. When he has money he spends it, when he doesn’t, ni modo. He’s never had to depend on anybody’s goodwill. He waits, jaw aching from tension. “Okaaay,” Mundo finally says. “Listen, I have a party to tend to. Let’s talk later.” He ambles out to the patio, leaving Chuy’s mind like a ricocheting pinball. Did “okaaay” mean yes? When was “later”? Tomorrow Mundo might be in Tokyo, and Chuy will have to plead his way through the flunkies who don’t know shit about Balmy. Across the patio the guests are clustered silhouettes against the sun. In the pool, chamaquitos splash water, shrieking with joy. He thought suddenly of his son Diego, who used to love to swim. Chuy took him to the public pool a few times during that long summer, the summer that Chuy painted “Mi Gente Cósmica” in Berkeley. One breezy, indigo evening, Patsy flew to Rome for a photo shoot—a paying shoot— and took the boy with her. “You’re the hero of the barrio, giving it all away,” she said as she packed. “But I’ve got a kid to feed. Plus everyone knows you’re fucking that pinche puta poet from Stanford.” Patsy thrived on drama. Would she have returned had Chuy begged her? The past is past—even if he still visualizes Diego as a six-year-old. If he thinks about it, though, Diego is old enough to have his own kids. Chuy avoids the water droplets flying from the pool and scans for

|

65


Gato. He’s nodding at familiar faces here and there when a woman flutters up and brushes her lips on his cheek. “Chuy Rosales!” “Oh, hey, Rita.” Mundo’s wife is in a silky jumpsuit, cobalt blue. Her arms are bare, her hair blue-black crow feathers. “You ignoring me?” She crinkles her nose. “I didn’t see you,” he says, caught off-guard by her playfulness. He knows Rita prefers he not exist, which he attributes to the three, maybe four times they slept together in Malibu while Mundo was touring. A lifetime ago, yet it’s still in the air whenever they’re in the same place. He’s not proud of it. He doesn’t recall if he was with Patsy at the time, but jeez, Rita was an exotic creature with wild hair and that smoky voice. He’d been crazy for her. Why sleep with any woman otherwise? These things never last, though. With time he discovers flaws: nose too thin, thighs too thick. Inevitably, someone more perfect passes his way. What had been the problem with Rita? Today she looks as dazzling as ever. Chuy grins, taking in her bright amber eyes. “So, about the mural...” Rita says. Of course. The mural. Feeling like a hooked fish, Chuy blinks rapidly. He’s anxious to avoid talk of flaming hearts. “You alright?” Rita’s touch on his hand feels like charity. “There’s something in my eye.” Turning away, he imagines her fuming. Rita’s used to getting what she wants.

SANTA CLARA REVIEW

66 |

In the guest bathroom, the mirror reflects dark hair shot with silver, eyebrows protruding into space like tree branches; chin stubble more salt than pepper. Chuy resembles his abuelo more each passing day. “What will happen to all my stuff?” he mutters to his grandpa. His garage is crammed with paints, brushes, ladders, scaffolding, the paraphernalia and trappings of his life. Then something catches his eye; a small object winking from the sink counter. He picks it up and holds it close to his face. A gold band, a faceted stone, a pinprick of fire at its core. A twist in sunlight and the room flares into a galaxy of translucent reds seamlessly flowing into brilliant oranges and yellows and violets and indigos, shimmering luminosity so overwhelming and unexpected, Chuy can hardly draw breath. This world, he thinks, this mysterious, gorgeous world... It might be thirty seconds or thirty minutes before a cloud covers the sun and the light is gone, leaving him buoyant, confident that things would work out fine, like Gato promised. As he dries his hands, the ring again flares and glitters. Without a second thought, he shoves it into the pocket of his jeans and joins the party. Mundo is at the grill. Gato, Mundo’s niece Felicia, and her girlfriend


lounge in chairs under yellow umbrellas, drinks in hand. Someone pumps up the music and people begin singing along to Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars’ “Billionaire.” Chuy chuckles, enjoying being in this specific time and place, feeling a nice buzz from a shot of tequila. It’s a sweet gathering of long-time friends. No fast-talking agents, no Hollywood producers, no self-absorbed wannabe stars. Chuy has to hand it to Mundo for keeping his two lives separate. Chuy’s rumbling stomach reminds him that he hasn’t eaten. He loads a plate with beans and nopales, grabs a beer, and heads towards the grill. Rita’s cry, “My ring is gone!” bursts Chuy’s mood like a pricked balloon. “What?” “Where?” “No way.” A chorus of voices. Chuy resists the urge to turn around. “Mundo gave me that ring when I turned forty.” “It’ll turn up. It not like anyone here’s a thief.” Thief? The word shakes him. His grandpa once told him, if you decide to be a thief, mi’jo, don’t fool around, make it Fort Knox. Meaning, stealing is not an option. Why did he take it? It could be rhinestone for all he cares. The ring was beautiful—simple as that. And now the whole vibe has changed as Mundo goes inside to look for the ring and others follow. They return murmuring, reassuring, embracing Rita like they’re at a damned funeral. Chuy’s insides are like jelly. He considers dropping the thing in a planter, but what if someone saw him? Thankfully, a DJ arrives, a wild-eyed cubano who gets people dancing, and the search peters out. Chuy’s appetite is gone. He keeps to himself the rest of the afternoon, waiting to talk with Mundo. He watches his friend chewing on an unlit cigar, regaling guests with tales of misbehaving rockers. Soon the sun is gone, guests are leaving, and Chuy realizes Mundo is nowhere to be seen. His stomach churning, Chuy finds Gato in the kitchen, holding a carton of leftovers. “Where you been,” Gato says. “Ready to split?” “I still gotta talk to Mundo. Where did he go?” Rita is saying goodbye to her cousins at the entrance. A gust of wind rattles the trees. “Time to leave?” she says to Chuy a little sharply. He experiences déjà vu of her twenty-something self saying this. It wasn’t quite a question then, he recalls, and it isn’t one now. “Where’s Mundo? I need to talk with him.” Rita shrugs and turns back to the cousins. Chuy finds Mundo indoors, descending the staircase, his brow furrowed. “Hey, Mundo—”

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

67


“Have you seen Rita’s ring?” Careful to meet Mundo’s gaze, Chuy raises his chin and squares his shoulders against the alarm welling up inside. “I’m just worried about losing my place,” he says through the pounding in his ears. Chuy recalls shining shoes with Mundo in North Beach on New Year’s Eve when tipsy gents were generous to little brown boys. They’d taken divergent paths, lived days and nights the other could never imagine, but they had the same starting point. That meant something, didn’t it? “Go home,” Mundo says. “I’ll call you.” The sky is pure El Greco, crackling with electricity. In front of the Skylark a chain of brake lights glows the vermilion of his abuelo’s geraniums. Gato is uncharacteristically silent. What is the deal? Mundo can buy a zillion rings with bigger stones, more fire. Anyfuckingthing he desires is Mundo’s with a snap of his fingers. Anything, including saving Chuy if he choses. In the middle of the span the rain hits, bouncing off the hood. The squeak-plonk of the wipers makes Chuy want to jump out of his skin. “Use the seatbelt, man,” Gato says, his eyes on the road. “Shit happens.” “Always rely on you to state the obvious.” “Still an asshole after all these years.” Neither spoke for a while, and the back-and-forth of the wipers lulled Chuy’s mind until it began wandering again. “I’m not cleaning your crap,” was Patsy’s mantra. She bitched that the house reeked of turpentine and pot, moaned about crumpled paint tubes, piles of unopened mail, brushes standing in jars of water, canvasses in varying stages of completion stacked against walls. She’d whine about Chuy and his buddies talking shit until dawn, leaving empty bottles in their wake. She’d complain about the half-eaten apple he left on a shelf this morning, pale flesh turning to mush. Back home, Chuy pulls the ring from his pocket and drops it into the mug where he keeps Canadian pennies and orphan keys. He yanks off his shoes, stretches out on the lumpy sofa. He dozes, dreaming of Diego swimming at Ocean Beach. He wakes with a start from a fitful sleep, sometime before sunrise. His eyes are blurry as he brews coffee and drinks too much of it, all the while contemplating the yellowed sketch of his abuelo tacked to the kitchen wall. The old man had encouraged his gift from the start; raised him with SANTA CLARA REVIEW

68 |


SANTA CLARA REVIEW

a full-hearted cariño. Chuy checks his cell. Nothing. He’s grinding his teeth from the coffee. When a messenger rings the doorbell at three thirty-seven, the jangle reverberates in his chest. Standing on the threshold, legs wobbly, Chuy rips open the envelope with trembling hands and stares at Mundo’s check for the full amount of the back rent. In his throat is a lump as vast as the world. Woozy, he sinks into the sofa and covers his eyes with his hands and sobs great chestheaving sobs, fat tears rolling down his cheeks. When there are no tears left, Chuy calls Mundo. If a flaming heart is Rita’s and Mundo’s desire and he can make it happen, por qué no? The call goes to voice mail. He decides not to leave a message. After shaving and wolfing down the remains of a pizza, Chuy takes a sketchbook, a pencil box, and a plastic baggie of pot outside to sit on his front steps. A fucking Google bus roars past at the corner. He rolls a joint and fires up, keeping an eye on two figures down the street who might be casing cars. He tokes and a sense of well-being suffuses him. Catching a flicker of movement by his own car, Chuy jumps to his feet. “Hey, babosos! Get away from there!” The shadows scatter, but not before the smallest turns around and sniggers, “Watch out for the viejo!” Fucking chamacos, Chuy thinks. Let me see you draw a hand like I can, fingers, knuckles, flesh endowed with a vitality that would astonish Michelangelo himself. Sitting back down, he selects a stick of charcoal, rolls back the frayed sleeves of his green hoodie. He pulls the soft nib against the tooth of the paper, depositing a trail like fine soot, smooth and uniform, not thick, not thin, exactly the line he intended. A coppery sheen covers everything on the street that isn’t sunk into turquoise shadow. The sun is low in the sky. Chuy takes a deep, satisfying breath, crisp air expanding his lungs. He is buzzing with happiness. Beauty all around—straw-yellow weeds pushing through cracked concrete, the sweet aroma of bee trees, Señora López and her yapping terrier. Across from the doorstep is his mural of two vatos gangster leaning in a Falcon convertible, music ribboning out from the radio. Chuy sighs, aware he’ll have to repaint it soon. Reds inevitably shift to pink under the blazing Mission sun, even with a UV seal.

|

69


LOOK, OUT THERE

ALEC GONZALES

digital photography

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

71


FUSHIMI INARI TEMPLE SUZAN SILTANIEMI

digital photography

72 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


KAYAKS

SUZAN SILTANIEMI

digital photography

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

73


SHAMAN

STEFANIA GUEORGUIEVA oil on canvas

74 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP STEFANIA GUEORGUIEVA oil on canvas

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

75


LOST IN DAYDREAM CASEY CLIFFORD oil on canvas 36”x48”

76 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


MUSE

CASEY CLIFFORD oil on canvas 24”x36”

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

77


GAIA’S WOMB RYAN SUTTLE

welded iron, mixed media 36”x31”

78 |

SANTA CLARA REVIEW


CONTRIBUTORS’ NOTES SANTA CLARA REVIEW volume 103 / issue 02

SANTA CLARA REVIEW |

79


Thomas Lux is an acclaimed poet, educator, and innovator. He was educated at Emerson College and at the University of Iowa. He is an author of 19 books of poetry including To the Left of Time (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), The Street of Clocks (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001), The Cradle Place (Mariner, 2004), and God Particles (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008). He is an editor of the forthcoming I Am Flying into Myself, The Selected Poems of Bill Knott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017), for which he also wrote the introduction. He currently teaches at Georgia Tech as the Bourne Professor of Poetry.

April Ossmann is the author of Event Boundaries (Four Way Books, forthcoming 2017), and Anxious Music (FWB), recipient of a 2013 Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant, and former executive director of Alice James Books. She is an independent editor (poetry, essays, reviews): www. aprilossmann.com; and an Editor-in-Residency for the low-residency MFA Creative Writing Program at Sierra Nevada College.

Helena Alfajora is currently in her final quarter at SCU. In June, she’ll graduate with a BA in Studio Art and English. A curious child, Helena often finds herself down the rabbit hole, journeying through the colorful palette of life. Mad tea parties are a must.

Casey Clifford recently graduated from Santa Clara University with a major in environmental science and a minor in studio art. Although Casey has worked with many different mediums including charcoal, acrylic, and mixed media, she has recently developed a love for oil and has created many paintings of the human form. This is Casey’s fourth year being published in the Santa Clara Review.

Tim Fitts lives and works in Philadelphia. He is member of the editorial staff at the Painted Bride Quarterly and teaches in the Liberal Arts Department at the Curtis Institute of Music. His short stories have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Granta (online), Shenandoah, among others. His photography can be viewed at the Thomas Deans Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia. www.thomasdeansfineart.com/#!fitts/sitepage_17 Allen Forrest has created cover art and illustrations for literary publications and books, and is the winner of the Leslie Jacoby Honor for Art at San Jose State University’s Reed Magazine. His Bel Red painting series is part of the Bellevue College Foundation’s permanent art collection. Forrest’s expressive drawing and painting style is a mix of avant-garde Expressionism and post-Impressionist elements, creating emotion on canvas. SANTA CLARA REVIEW

80 |


Ever since Alec Gonzalez got his first camera for Christmas in 2012, he has been obsessed with the idea of freezing time. He loves the idea that a photo can capture a moment that will have passed just moments after having hit the shutter button. Any moment can tell a story, and he likes to capture those moments with his photography.

Stefania Gueorguieva is a studio art and German double major with a minor in international business. She has been painting with oil paint for most of her life and has always been fascinated in showing the emotions behind people’s expressions with paints. She plans on continuing her art education after her graduation and branching out to different mediums such as sculpture. Eli Ishibashi is an artist from San Francisco. After graduating from the prestigious Santa Clara University, Eli went on to pursue his dream of affording an apartment in the city, but he gave up and moved back home a few weeks later. In many ways, Eli’s work often captures that essence of perpetual failure and isolation.

Miranda Janeschild is a pediatric Occupational Therapist, dance teacher, and performer who has a history of telling stories as a performing artist. Presently, she is in an improvisational physical theater troupe, The Sommadics, and prior to that directed and choreographed a theatrical dance company, Mir & A Company, from 2002 - 2009. She lives in Santa Cruz, California with her family. Joseph JP Johnson teaches literature and composition at Central Washington University. He is currently an MFA student in the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. He has won the Editor’s Choice Award for Carve Magazine and published poetry and stories in Flash, The Fictioneer, Mused, Rust+Moth, and The Penwood Review with upcoming work in Aethlon and DoveTales. Kaitlyn Kuehn is an English and environmental studies double major at Santa Clara University. She enjoys writing both fiction and creative nonfiction and is a member of the SCU Style and Voice Club. When she’s not writing or struggling with time management, Kaitlyn runs through the forest at speeds much faster than she’d like with her SCU cross country teammates.

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

81


Linda Zamora Lucero, executive/artistic director of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, is working on a series of short stories set in SF’s Mission District where she was raised. Her story “Take The Money and Run – 1968,” was published by The Bilingual Review (ASU, 2015). She thanks Ray, Marcelo, Esther, Felicia, Elaine, Karen, Thaai, Hillary, Stacey and Robin for support. Edy Madsen was born in Seoul, Korea and graduated from Kyunghee University. She is now an American citizen and works for Bon Appetit at Santa Clara University. A lover of nature, her many paintings are of landscapes from around the world, several of which have been published in the Santa Clara Review. An exhibition of her art was held at Santa Clara University in 2015. Tad Malone, a junior English major at Santa Clara University is a fifth generation journalist. His professional career began as a columnist for ABCNews.com. After two years in Oxford, Malone transferred to SCU in 2014. He is currently a contributing writer for San Jose Metro newspaper, a regular contributor to the magazine Cypher League, and editor of the literary magazine PAPINO.

Michael Mark’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Gargoyle Magazine, Paterson Literary Review, Prelude Magazine, Poet Lore, Rattle, Spillway, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Sugar House Review, Tar River Poetry and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. michaeljmark.com Robert Nazarene founded MARGIE Review / IntuiT House Poetry Series, publishers of the winning volume for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. He is the author of two collections of poems: CHURCH (2006) and Empire de Mort (2016). He is currently publisher and editor-in-chief of the online review: theamericanjournalofpoetry.com Susanna Raj is a senior, double majoring in psychology and studio art. The essence of a moment, an emotion, a way of life, or a state of mind are the challenges that she likes to tackle through art. Art allows her to create a new vista to better understand the created world.

SANTA CLARA REVIEW

82 |

Adam Scheffler grew up in California, received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is currently finishing his PhD in English at Harvard. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such as places as The American Poetry Review, The Antioch Review, Rattle, and North American Review. He is the winner of River Styx’s 2014 International Poetry Contest.


Suzan Siltaniemi lives in the Bay Area. She was introduced to photography in the early 1980s. She is primarily self-taught, with some formal study in photography. Her early work was primarily black and white; her current work is primarily color. Her interests are wide-ranging: portraiture, nature, travel photography, street photography; capturing the beauty in the ordinary and extraordinary. www.siltaniemi.com. Loren Smith lives in small town Grantsville, UT where he substitute teaches. He and his wife just bought their first trampoline and are planning on having a campout on it soon. Loren’s work has appeared in more than twenty different journals and magazines. He has also been accepted into the MFA program at Oklahoma State in Stillwater, OK. Lucas Smith is a writer and poet from Orange County, CA, and the Gippsland region of Australia, currently residing in Melbourne. His work has appeared in The Lifted Brow, Cordite Poetry, Angle and elsewhere. Ryan Suttle studies environmental science and studio art at Santa Clara University. He draws artistic inspiration from his studies, focusing on the separation of individuals from the surrounding natural world. Utilizing mediums like clay and steel, he aims to juxtapose anthropogenic industry with the delicate beauty of nature and to promote a more holistic view of humanity’s place in it. Dennis Vannatta has published stories in many magazines and anthologies, including Chariton Review, Boulevard, Antioch Review, and Pushcart XV; five collections of stories; and a novel, Around Centralia Square, by Cave Hollow Press. A. Williams has appeared extensively in Elan Literary Magazine and has received the Gold Key for poetry and creative nonfiction in the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. She is currently a student of literary fiction and poetry at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

REVIEW

SANTA CLARA

|

83


Congratulations to the winners of the

notre dame review book prize published by the university of notre dame press

2013 James D. Redwood

love Beneath the napalm short stories

2015 John Shoptaw

times Beach poetry

2016 Thomas McGonigle

st. Patrick’s Day a novel

University of Notre Dame Press 310 Flanner Hall Notre Dame, IN 46556 574-631-6346 http://undpress.nd.edu/

Notre Dame Revew B009C McKenna Hall Notre Dame, IN 46556 574-631-6952 http://ndreview.nd.edu/


S A N TA C L A R A RE VIEW

S U B S C R I B E T O D AY

ON

R

b

s

y

O

ne ear u SC IPTI $15

ON

s

d

c

AN

ue D Ba kor er $7.50 s

ss

I

UAL

di

In vID

R

U

y

Two ear S BS IPTI $25

subscribe at: c

i

c

t

s

an a lararev ew. om


since

1869

Profile for Santa Clara Review

Santa Clara Review Vol. 103 Issue 2  

Santa Clara Review Vol. 103 Issue 2  

Advertisement