FA L L 2 0 1 8 / S P R I N G 2 0 1 9 VO LU M E 5 I S S U E S 1 A N D 2
A Writersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Guild Publication
Letter from the Editor in Chief I want to thank the club for giving me the honor and the responsibility of editing our magazine “Artifact Nouveau.” Our magazine is made possible because of the collective effort of the San Joaquin Delta College Writers’ Guild. As students are constantly transferring after attaining their objectives at school, our club is constantly renewing and transferring the responsibility of leading the club to a new generation of members. This semester was a process of learning that took all the club to give the best of each of us to fulfill the important duty of promoting the literature of emerging writers. I want to thank Patricia Mayorga, our community outreach advisor, for her hard work and commitment to the club, our advisors Gabrielle Myers and Cassandra Opiela who believe in the importance of having a writers’ club on campus and guide us to grow as writers and as students, the members of the Spring 2019 SJDC Writers’ Guild who worked with enthusiasm and dedication in selecting the works for this issue, and Alicia Alonso, President of the club for this period, for her perseverance, humbleness, and tenacity on leading our club forward. A special thanks to Dr. Sarah Antinora, former advisor of the club, who guided us with passion and devotion. Artifact Nouveau is a magazine made by writers from a new generation. We believe that literature has the power to make people understand themselves, to gain new insights of the world, and to make substantial changes in our society. As you read this magazine, allow yourself to embrace the perspective from writers of different backgrounds, cultures, ages, and beliefs. Allow yourself to explore the power of literature and art, and let it talk to you personally. This issue is a tribute to literature and art, but in this occasion, it is also a tribute to the fight for gender equality. I sincerely hope, dear reader, that you enjoy it. I want to end this letter by thanking all our contributing authors and artists, whose works inspire us to continue publishing “Artifact Nouveau” Ronald Godoy
Table of Contents Dark Dream Wonderland by Magdalena Abrica.....................................1 Lucid Dreams by Qiara Ritts.......................... .....................4 Birth by Jonathan Velez.........................................6 The Lynching of Jonathan West by J.E. Ledesma...............................................8 Winter by Genevieve Macalolooy............................14 I have fallen By Leopoldo Marin.......................................15 Passenger Side by Cristina Sandoval....................................16 Night Dreams by Magdalena Abrica....................................19 The Chocolate By Miranda Velazquez.................................20 The Sting by Jay Frankston...........................................23 Reciprocity by Eva Martinez............................................24 Laughter by Sabrina Ghulam.......................................25 Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never seen Alexandria, but God, do I miss it by Amber Cabaccang.....................................26 Being joyous on the day of birth by C.S.R..........................................................27 For Clementine and Sebastian by Amber Cabaccang.....................................30 Red Spider Lillies by Vanessa Maldonado-Soto........................31 Heart and soul on a nautical journey by Milton Ehrlich........................................33 Sleep smiles and beckons me by Sam Hatch.................................................34
Schizo-praxis By Ronald Godoy..........................................35 On Maple street by Alicia Alonso...........................................36 Peel my heart open by Madgalena Abrica...................................38 The sake of the night by Yumee Sekaii............................................39 Go to your room by Sugar Tobey.............................................42 Copse by Yuan Changming.....................................43 Shouting Accross Time By Amanda Johnston...................................44 Cycle by Summer....................................................46 Flashback By Genji........................................................47 Ballad of a wrecked man By Alicia Alonso..........................................48 Mirror by Jonathan Velez.......................................49 The Third Tango by Katya........................................................50 Language by Cristina Sandoval...................................52 River Entry by Sabrina Ghulam.......................................54 The Good Deed By Quay Stearns...........................................56 How to by Mary Schimtt...........................................57 Echoes of a dream by Jay Frankston...........................................58 Hark by Jacob Kobina.............................................62 Pleasures of sailing by Milton Ehrlich........................................63 Temple by Mariah Diego...........................................64
And then by Neelanjana Shakya.................................65 Hiking by Jacob Kobina...........................................66 100 yeas with Aleksandra Kollontai by Katya.......................................................68 The origin of a family name by Yuan Changming....................................70 Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m coming home by Josh Sartain...........................................72 The Party By Bob Chikos.............................................74 About today by Neelanjana Shakya................................79 Rosy-Blue by Neelanjana Shakya................................80 I am the rainbow by Pawel Markiewicz..................................81 The night wanderer by Mariah Diego..........................................82 Tonto reflects on the lone ranger by Sam Hatch...............................................85
By Kassy Menke
Dark Dream Wonderland
By Magdalena Abrica
He put out a cig Against the back of his palm Riddling his already brittle bones. Up above In a bedroom of sage Of smoke Of “oregano”, but not “oregano”, Because a mother would never buy the weed argument. He swear it’s to medicate, To medicate the numbness he fills with every other “harmless” vice. But a naive mother wouldn’t think twice about the oregano. All sitting on his nightstand. Waiting. Humming mournful tunes. Stars float above Morning and night On a ceiling of recounted dreams and lost memories. 1
Foggy dreams All a blur Once the spoon hit, The spoon with the fire against its backside. It heats, Drowning, Scratching, A sensation of abandoning But staying grounded . in one place. And now was it. A permanent reprieve. With the bugs crawling through Crawling in, Crawling up the throat of a lost voice, Bleeding out tears of psycho insanity. His face, distorted Arms torn away by the father of depression and repression. Tongue ripped out by the monster of toxicity No more is he one. No more is he here. Was he ever? 2
By Angelique Torres 3
By Qiara Ritts
The withering sounds of stillness and silence not heard in the sunshine hours. Lying in bed with the swift calmness, slowly drift away into another world. The roomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s presence of pitch black like you are diving into a black hole, where the journey awaits you. A familiar setting found in the deep, mysterious presence of your unconscious mind. Do you dream of anything? What is it you dream of? This may be your unconscious mind bringing up something you need to face in reality but will only live it out in a dream. Or is this God warning you of something? Or opening up a treasure of knowledge? Next time you dream, remember your unconscious mind is reaching out to your conscious mind. What a mysterious occurrence. Do you remember the last dream you had? If so, take a minute and pause to ponder what is God and your mind (subconsciously) trying to tell you.
By Angelique Torres
By Jonathan Velez
I am a rhino, But I’m a deer Like currents in the water that make Young men cry. I am a leaf, But I’m a Venus fly trap. Like a virgin drinking whiskey with The sun. I am summer, But I am autumn Writing lines I’ve never heard, but, I’m too afraid to say them. I am rain, But I am thunder Turning away too soon, To fill the spaces in between. Although I’m strong, And I am weak, I give my all to start the fire. Just like a melody
By Chloe Mason 7
The Lynching of Jonathan West
By J. E. Ledesma
Hosea Reeves sipped his coffee and watched his son pack his school bag. Notebooks, pencils, a sack lunch with an apple, and a sandwich. He knew it was tough, but that’s what you had to be. Tough. Tough. “Did you kiss your mother?” Hosea asked his son. Andrew Reeves went to the next room over to kiss his mother goodbye. Andrew Reeves collected his things, said goodbye to his father, and made his way out the door and on his way to school. After watching Andrew turn the corner out of sight, Hosea stood up and moved back to the dining room table and read over the headline once again. 4 ARRESTED IN THE LYNCHING OF JONATHAN WEST . The large, bold, and black ink on the paper jumped out at him and made him feel queasy. He didn’t know the man, but it fostered in him a rage that he didn’t know what to do with. He had been following the story since it first broke almost a month ago ever since they found the body like the carcass of a hanging antelope from an oak just on the outskirts of town. He was 26 years old. Hosea Reeves would slump down in that same chair when he would get home from work at almost 10:30 at night, ashen-faced and sullen still, but knowing he provided. He would hear 8
Andrew in the other room watching television while studying, a practice he allowed for so long as his grades didn’t suffer. They hardly ever spoke about certain things, but Hosea couldn’t help but wonder. He wondered about the four men arrested and where they had been. When Andrew went to sleep, Hosea would peek inside and wonder. His wife Dora wondered too, he was sure. He spoke a little bit of it to her, though found her to just not quite get it. The paper printed the photograph that police had taken of the body that lay sideways, head against the giant stump, shadowed eyes and pursed lips. It didn’t really matter what the paper said in the small ink text. A picture’s worth a thousand words as they say. When Hosea came home from work one night, his wife approached him and in hushed tones told him about Andrew and how he had come home earlier that day. A swollen eye that he could get only half-way open, a bruised cheek and a bruised ego. His teeth were untouched, thank God, Dora had told Hosea, and Hosea sucked his own teeth just thinking about it. In the bathroom, Andrew sat on the little step-stool, shoulders slumped next to the bathtub where Dora was soaking a rag in the water. She scrubbed and washed the blood crust away from his eye and his nose. A hanging antelope. “Who did this to you?” She asked. “Some boys at school.” He responded. “White boys.” Hosea fumed, hearing his wife recount the events. Pricking and hurting like a giant purple sore, she moved 9
gently. It hurt even to blink. Against the stump. Pursed lips. “They were given detention.” With Andrew sent to bed with a bag of frozen peas, Hosea vowed that he would tell his son what this meant. Tomorrow’s news: TRIAL SET FOR WEST LYNCHING. “You’ve got to be tough. Your granddaddy was tough.” He paused: “I’m tough.” Andrew didn’t say anything. “Did you fight back?” Andrew lowered his head and was silent still. So Hosea arranged for Andrew to box against an old sandbag, but the sandbag was old and hard and Andrew couldn’t quite keep up. Dora came out and quickly put an end to Andrew fighting against the old, obdurate heavy bag of sand. When Andrew went to bed that night, Hosea watched him again, and wondered still. Things had changed but they still had a way of retaining shape. Hosea had a day off on Tuesday morning. He grabbed the newspaper, kissed Dora, then stepped outside, got into his car and drove. A hanging antelope is weighed down by gravity, though a solid oak branch can lift it off the ground where its hooves gently tickle the long reaching grass and weeds. Today’s headline: MISTRIAL IN WEST LYNCHING CASE . He was parked a block away from the school. A bird’s eye view of the playground and he watched the children move back and forth, and he kept his eye out for Andrew. 10
Not completely assured, he moved a little closer, but just enough so that he wouldn’t be totally noticed. He saw Andrew on the edge of the playground digging sand alone. Some boys were approaching him. From afar Hosea paid close attention. One of the boys shoved Andrew to the ground, but they didn’t attack him this time. Instead they huddled around him, like statues, and were saying things to him, and Hosea felt his stomach turn and boil. C’mon , he muttered under his breath and through his gnashed teeth, c’mon . He watched as Andrew just laid there on the ground, head down and doing nothing. He imagined a circle of snarling faces that were happy and grinning and making no sense at all. He remembered them laughing and saying things and bouncing these words back and forth. He remembered the kick to the ribs and the spit that would come down like pigeon shit until boredom tore them away. “You cretins, you leave that boy alone!” But he did. And the boys, seeing this tall man at the chain-linked fence shouting at them, quickly dispersed and left further into the schoolyard, and Andrew just laid there on the ground waiting for it to stop. When the school officials met him at the fence and told him that he needed to leave because he was making a disturbance, Hosea defended himself on the grounds that his son was being harassed. The school officials told him “be that as it may” that it would best be left for school administrators to deal with. 11
A few lines down beside the blurb about sports: SECOND TRIAL IN WEST CASE . Eventually people start losing interest. He gripped the chain-linked fence and spoke: “You sit there but this is not the first time!” He’s a boy and you can’t just let that happen! It’s not right ! What does he have to do ? What do I have to do ? Why doesn’t anyone do anything? I can’t do this on my own, he can’t do this on his own!” A final mention on page three lost between the classifieds and a story about dogs. Back at home, the family settled in. Hosea sat and heard the soap and water running over his sons dirt and wounds as his wife tended to their son. She scrubbed his skin of the dirt and sand. Hosea wondered if they would ever wash out.
By Ronald Godoy * Inspired by the poem “Blue Bird” by Charles Bukowski
By Genevieve Macalolooy
Freezing Primitive winter, This year it is more frigid. Now we all chase warmth.
By Gabrielle Myers
I Have Fallen
By Leopoldo Marin
I have fallen I have fallen asleep and awoken, It’s a bright blissful world yet to be broken, I can’t help but admire with wondrous eyes That which resides hidden in clear blue skies. Small droplets of rain waiting to be spoken, And suddenly it becomes all but true. I have fallen asleep and awoken, To a new reality where I am heart broken. Why didn’t I see that falling asleep could only mean, To have fallen in love and not be spoken, To wonder and wish and hope and become broken, There’s just nothing for me to do but sit and wait, Till the dark gray skies clear my only fate. And, then, the rain begins to pour, It all soon becomes a blur, All I wish is for a cure.
By Cristina Sandoval
My thighs stick to the passenger seat, In the summer heat, as I testify. The scripture that erupts from my past Begins as a gasp, Grows into a shallow Growl. Men have attempted to dive Into the caverns where I bury my pride, In an attempt to dash it against the cold, stone walls, But no one has succeeded. I spill the contents of my stomach onto the dashboard And the essence of freedom Enters my airways. Like entering a room Walled with daggers, Floor to ceiling, Closing in as I sing About the euphoria Of love. Like handling the fruit At the farmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s market, Handpicking the ripest melon, The one with the perfect hollow
Drum beat when prodded, knuckle To green skin...only to arrive home, Cutting into the thick rind and finding The insides hit you with a potent stench, And its meat is destroyed by Premature rot. A vision of love, Or the lack of the phenomena, Is projected onto the windshield. Shadow figures play out a scene Where I almost gave in. “Giving in” not being synonymous with “giving up.” More like surrendering. If I’d surrendered... I am aware of my thighs As I shift in my seat. A grin spreads across my face As my company gifts me the wheel. Inexperience hardens my joints, Creates butterflies in my gut, But excitement, and the promise of a better road eases Me into the seat as my company switches places With me. So, I drive.
By Giovanna VillaseĂąor
By Magdalena Abrica
Staring up with half glazed eyes, THC filling every crevice left in my body, there’s you dancing with the smoke, filling the night sky, eyes jaded, cracking, fading. There must be thousands of you crying on the edge of a bed with inebriation psyching your mind. It’s all to run away, away from the hurt, the sorrow. a distant laugh comes running towards me, like a bullet train that’s lost its breaks. My own mind tries to create the illusion. the illusion that I never cared, but I get hit as blood spurts out in the form of curses made to the stars. The man on the moon sighs, and the fog never lifts. I’m left with the broken shards of you. The glass that cuts me blind and breaks me too.
By Miranda Velazquez
It was never my intention to infect an entire city. Well, at first. But being alone for so long, going about the usual days working in my little candy store, Demetri’s Chocolates, hour after hour, wishing at least one of the customers would carry on a conversation that didn’t involve work and children, was beginning to take hold on me a little too hard. Just once, I longed for one of these female customers, any one of them, no matter the size, color, or shape to just look me in the eyes and tell me something beautiful. Tell me that I have nice eyes. Ask me how long it took me, every day, to make these special chocolates just for your sweet, pink mouth. Ask me for my phone number. Ask me what Demetri means, being that it is my name. Ask me out. Kiss me...But nothing. Every day from 10 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., nothing, the sweet vast variety of women would do nothing more than come in, sounding the little gold bell that I had hanging above the top edge of the door, look for which of the brown or colorful chocolates they wanted, pay, fake-smile, and out they would go, never knowing what I had been planning before their next visit. I was so invisible that not one of my customers, or even the town, had picked up on the fact that I had my little business for over thirty years and haven’t aged a pinch since I first opened back in 1987, when I was only twenty-six. What was it about me? Normally, my kind drew people in with just one look or one spoken word but not for me. I used to think it was because I didn’t feed enough or compel enough. I was too damn good. Too good to be a vampire. Killing or lurking in the shadows, brooding, for hours just wasn’t my thing. I only fed once every week on criminals and street thugs who were never up to any kind of good, and it worked for me. I still got my fill. Feeding all night was like an overeating. It wasn’t necessary, if anything, it was dangerous.
Standing in the back of my small, beige store in the back room with the dim, white ceiling lights and chrome pallets of candies lined along the motionless conveyor belt, I was finishing the last touches on my hand-made cherry quartet, decorating the top with an electric-blue swirl around an orange-pink heart. It was finished. It was all finished and ready to be displayed out front for everyone to devour. I even added my own special ingredient, just a touch. My blood wouldn’t really turn them until I killed them and fed them more, but they would become very ill to the point of nearly perishing and becoming a ravenous animal before they knew what was happening to them. Sunlight would still be their worst enemy until they were full vampire. I carefully set the finished chocolates onto the chrome palettes and placed them in the big, long glass display up front. If my revenge plot wasn’t so important to me, I would have been nervous as hell, waiting there for the first customer of the morning to try the free sample. The high-pitched-but-subtle ringing of the little doorbell would have shocked the dead nerves in my body awake and enough to make my heart go about beating, once again bringing some color back into my cold cheeks. The little bell rang, and in walked the first customer of the morning. I stood there behind my glass counter, putting on my biggest smile like always, greeting the young, petite brunette with the half-shaved head of purple hair. I told her “Good Morning,” and offered a free sample of my poison disguised as one of the cherry quartets. She actually gave me an ecstatic grin and accepted, taking a small bite of the sweet, dark chocolate. She would barely notice the hint of saltiness hiding within the bold flavor of the candy, but just enough to realize it was a delicious flavor like no other. Purple Hair put the rest of the candy into her mouth, complimenting my work with a soft “Mmmm,” and looked at the display of rainbow chocolates, searching for what she wanted. Revenge never tasted…well, we all know how that line goes.
By Gabrielle Myers
By Jay Frankston
I felt the sting of the bumble bee and everything turned upside down. I lost my balance fell off my feet and tumbled to the ground. My speech got slurred and nobody heard my incessant cry for help. Somewhere in the distance a dog was barking a loud and screaming yelp. My eyes were blurry my head was pounding there was a whistling in my ears all my senses had lost their grounding I shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have drunk all those beers.
By William Crawford
By Eva Martinez
You came in to my life like a majestic thunderstorm yet ever so silent and tender. I was the cold glass of water that pressed against your parched lips. You have shaken fruit off my tree that was overdue for pruning without asking yet required. I gave you hope during your days of uncertainty and transition walking along your side. Your spirit has awakened fiery giants within me that have caused urgency to ground myself in faith, Hope, and love. I stimulate and stir your soul like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s night, which brings about the reassurance of warmth. The exchanges have been intense and fierce; filled with curiosity, respect, and jubilation. You give and I accept. I give and you accept. Thankful.
By Sabrina Ghulam
I remember his laughter. I recall it. His face, which must be a shard cut out of heaven Creases in his eyes, his mouth The sound leaping, repeating around us, Lapsing into nowhere because He takes it and spends it Holding on for as long as he can Until he feels the moments fade, And he stops Until nothing comes back to him, And longing takes its place Because he needs the sound. He needs it to take up space inside of him and everywhere else. So, the sound itself is difficult to cease and wafts away like smoke. But that It wouldn’t change how I feel. It doesn’t. How I feel won’t change when each breath he takes is closer to despair. When he blindly grasps for happiness, And we can do nothing. We cannot see, we cannot feel, we cannot hear His pain And my fear. Oh, how we all laugh these things off and away. How we all wait for something miraculous to ease all of these troubles How none of us know better than to do anything else? But laugh, As if laughter could do anything For us.
I’ve never seen Alexandria, but God, do I miss it
By Amber Cabaccang
I can’t stop saying sorry For the beautiful mess we’ve made, But when he holds my hand, I only picture your face. Him and I are black and white, and I favor watercolor paints. With patience and time, you and I collide And create the perfect shade.
Being Joyous on the day of Birth By C.S.R
I was in my boudoir getting ready for the day when I suddenly heard footsteps from behind my folding screen. Seeing the silhouette from the other side and knowing no one else would dare enter my room, I knew immediately who it was. “Vater,” I cried out, cupping my exposed flesh and covering my undergarments, “I’m still indecent!” His voice was calm and collected as he said, “Fully undress.” I was flushed and almost scared, but I didn’t know what to make of the situation yet. “And put on these.” Suddenly, his arm had outstretched into view, revealing clothing that was hanging from his arm. It was underwear, but the kind men would wear. I took the garments and soon realized that there was a sort of phallic-like object tucked in between for me to wear. I felt embarrassed for a moment but shook it off and did as instructed. It fit perfectly and something just felt right about it all. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a smile upon my face that said to me that I was happy. I looked over to my side and saw some more clothing draped over for me. They were some of Jean-Paul’s old clothes. I put them on and stepped out from behind the folding screen to see my Vater sitting at my vanity. “If you’ll allow me, I’d like to do your hair.” He stood up and gestured for me to sit, so I went and complied. “This is all a bit unusual...” “We are quite unusual people in this family, wouldn’t you say?” “Fair enough.” My Vater did some braiding and folding of my hair, making it pressed rather close to my head. “There we go.” He 27
put a cap on my head. “And this will do for now, until we get you your own.” He stood up and began to move away. “Come along.” I followed him downstairs and to the entrance. He was opening the door, but I began feeling nervous. “Wait. I don’t know if I can do this. I’ve never gone out dressed like...this. Except at a costume ball.” He simply stared at me, turned away, and extended his hand back toward me as though to offer comfort and support. I felt a small grin emerge on my face and I took my Vater’s hand. And like that, the two of us strolled down London, hand-in-hand until finally we reached a tailor shop. We entered and my Vater spoke to the clerk, “I’d like to get this one fitted.” The clerk didn’t take a moment to start and say, “But that’s a-“ but just as soon as he had started, he just as quickly stopped. Perhaps it was a look he was given or the fact that he wasn’t about to turn away a paying customer, but his tune soon changed. “Of course! Come right this way, Sir.” While I was being measured, my Vater scoured the shop, seeming to pick out articles of clothing he felt would work on me. He occasionally would lift something up, letting me see in the reflection and wait for a shake or nod of my head before putting it aside or back depending on my reaction. He also went through some accessories and would come to me as I was in place and drape or compare ties, cravats, or ascots on my shoulders and neck. He even came over with some caps and top hats, placing them on my head and seeing how they looked and how I reacted to it. “Alright, Sir, we’re set on the measurements and it looks like you’re about sure on what to get.” “More or less.” “We do have something in shop though that might just fit perfectly. Something to be taken home today if you catch 28
what I mean. Only if you fancy it, of course!” My Vater exchanged glances with me, and I gave a shrug and nod as to express permission to give it a try. “Alright, bring it out.” I tried on the set and I was immediately elated. The clerk was right, it was almost a perfect fit and I liked seeing myself in it. It was a bronze and yellowish color with a brocade pattern. “We’ll take it too.” I heard my Vater say after having stared at me in it. He signed the order forms and paid the clerk a very hefty sum and I felt myself becoming flushed with embarrassment. I typically liked to be spoiled, no lie, but I don’t know why it felt different. Maybe it’s because it was something I really wanted, and I felt like I was being rewarded for it for no reason. “Alright, Charles De Lamberte, time to head home for tonight’s festivities.” I started the day as Charlotte and ended it as Charles. I never would have suspected such a scenario would come to me at any given day, but to say I liked what I saw in the mirror was an understatement. Charles looked and felt so right. I felt so right. And I think my Vater really could see that. I was now his “girl-son” or his “boy-daughter,” as he began to joke, but in such light tone, held a strong importance. He saw me and now not only could I see me too, so could the world.
For Clementine and Sebastian
By Amber Cabaccang
I’m not ready for you yet. but when I am, I’ll give you everything. hold my finger in your hand. I’ll brush your hair and sing. you’ll have his hair his ears and my small dimple. but right now, it just seems it’s not that simple. I promise you all that love I hold will be yours one day. but all I do is so I’m prepared to hold you and say, “Welcome to the world-Don’t you know I’ve waited quite a while? you have my big cheeks, but I’m glad you have your father’s smile.” 30
Red Spider Lillies
Red spider lilies, Guardians of the buried, Disappear in spring. Noxious and yet not, They are life and death cycles That slowly fill up Like cups of water That are either half empty Or simply half full. Their dangling fingers Stained white with the hopes of the Buried, their stems these Straws that fill with blood After year-long oaths are formed Between the deceased-A welcomed promise Of a timed putrefaction, Bonding them all Until spring arrives.
A Drippy Journey
By Casey Yturri 32
Heart and Soul on a Nautical Journey
By Milton Ehrlich
In my dream last night, a grand piano falls from the sky playing a tune, I never heard before, a melancholy melody, rooted in a time before I knew my name. I sail out of Murray Harbor with Barnacle Jim at the helm— my eyes glued to the binnacle, following a flock of seagulls chasing a huge Blue-fin tuna. We come about in a strong wind and land at the Pictou Beach resort. It starts to rain. The dance hall is deserted, except for a busboy and young waitress who plays Heart and Soul over and over and over again. On this rainy summer afternoon, they’re moved by bodily heat into the privacy of a storage room— innocent and unsure of whether they’re coming or going— mutual virginities fly out the window like carrier pigeons released to deliver classified messages. 33
Sleep Smiles and Beckons Me
By Sam Hatch
Yes, sleep smiles and beckons me. I accept the seduction of appearance. The convenience of the prosthetic soul. I accept conscience withering To a wisp of regret, And in a warm, gentle fog, Muffling anxiety, I finally drop off.
By William Crawford 34
By Ronald Godoy
By Ronald Godoy
God, Drag me out of these geometric days. Out of the omnipresent bars of this obscene world. Release me from the logical bruises That my psychiatric pilgrimages inflicted on me. Tear out of me the rationality that you imposed to my ramblings, Because, today, I urge for my wounds, And my weariness needs to effervesce on its pus. Remove from me, God of the mirrors, These bandages that have put my pieces together, Banishing from me, my own voice, For so long 35
On Maple Street
By Alicia Alonso
On Maple Street lays an old house made of rotting wood and rusting metal. Almost everyone stayed away from the house, afraid of its owner, an anti-social elderly man who never left his home. A young girl, at the ripe age of ten moves next to the old house. She skips down the sidewalk, eager to greet any potential play mates, so she skips to the old man’s house, knocking on his rotting door with precision. He answers, glaring at the small, freckled blonde. “Would you like to play?” She asks with a voice sweet as dripping honey. “I can’t. I’m not allowed to, not at this time.” “Why not?” She pouts, clearly frustrated. “It’s against the rules.” His eyes darken into hollow pits, hiding whatever was deep within the elderly man’s mind. The man looks over the young girl’s shoulder, checking for any bystanders. Against his better judgment, he offers her to come in. “Do you like to cook?” The young girl walks into the kitchen, staring at various kitchen utensils. The house’s owner carefully walks behind her, answering “Yes.” “Little girl. You shouldn’t be here.” The man begins to find guilt in his heart until the young lady turns, holding a knife in her hand. The knife was the man’s last thing on his mind, as he stares at those black, sullen eyes. The girl had transformed into something grotesque, something very unnatural. Her skin was too pale, too slimy. The man’s heart pounded against his ribcage, as what was once a girl 36
approaches him with impossible speed. She thrusts the knife though the man’s stomach, pressing until the knife scraped the man’s spine. She grins too widely, exposing countless needled teeth and touching the corners of her white lips to her eyes. “Let’s play.” She says in a deep voice, stabbing the man in his thigh and twisting the blade in a circular motion. The elderly man screams in pain, falling over onto his back. Something cracks inside the man’s skull, causing blood to pour from his mouth and nose. The girl swiftly drags the knife down, as if cutting a piece of meat off a steak. Deep red blood drips from her victim’s lips as he cries for help one last time, but his plea fell on deaf ears. The little girl snarls at him. Her black eyes were wild and inhumane. The man tries to fend her off, but she sat atop him and stabbed him into a bloody pulp, cackling in the process with an odd voice.
By Kassy Menke 37
Peel my heart Open
By Magdalena Abrica
Peel my heart open. let its lost love seep through the transient flesh blanketing my bones. Through the heat, feel the coursing crimson colors. Find the old and look anew. A passing jewel, drowning, yearning life, being hidden amongst waves of passion, terror, grief, frozen; cold it sits. Emerging from a ruby red river of beaten solace. Treasure the torn heart given, gifted, through gore and grace.
The Sake of Night
By Yume Sekaii
If the world gave me every opportunity to explore it I don’t think I’d have the capability to move I’ll sink into the night and pray I don’t see the morning My feet dug themselves into the ground Pidgeon toes that lock the knees The heaviness of correction breaks it in If I could die right now and have the world forget me I would be too scared to run forward Because losing it all is so much worse Donning this tight black suit Enter the discotheque with a misbuttoned shirt Begging for attention and peace “I want to dance with you” Taking my hand so sweetly, so shockingly The motions capture me, begging to be followed If I could run right now, I don’t know if I could Voices and faces forged on years of connections help me sleep at night As I think of what the word “absolute” means Let me end it all tonight Snap this neck of mine and silence all of my aches But I can’t even have that So instead I’ll just crawl into a restless daydream Thinking of all the “I love you” that the flashy lights in39
fluence I want to ask, if that’s okay with you, to think of this as a game The glass that holds me up breaks once again It cuts up these fermented feelings and lets me drown in them Needlessly splashing the years old hate and sorrow Grant me the request of pretending like you care Humor my need for love and validation and physical affection The voices of self loathing will push me back, don’t worry As if asking why you pull forward There’s tenderness I wish I can feel in your eyes The way that my disposition weakens makes me laugh I think that if I could do anything at all, I’d stay right here And watch as my body unravels under your gaze It does no good to rush I’d say “The way I appear in your eyes” I don’t want to drag you any further, so I let myself lie in the cold of the night They say that change will let you reach your goals “Won’t you forgive me?” A quip I make as I repeat the phrase “I’m sorry” I want to finally break this spell of fear and hopelessness But the morning comes too soon
Possession In Color
By Frecia Chirinos * Title translated from the Spanish “Posesión a Color”
Go to your room
By Sugar Tobey
Filled with sports memorabilia posters of fast cars varsity football pendants and boys adventure books
She built a fictional bedroom perhaps for the son she would have preferred the one who never grew up or moved away
By Brittany Elsholz
By Rebecca Skogh
By Yuan Changming
Standing tall against the frozen sky Your skeletons are the exquisite calligraphy Of an entire season Your name is curly writ Not in water But with wind 43
Sculpture by Amanda Johnston - 2019
Picket signs drawn from important protest marches that span time and cross international borders: - Illinois suffrage Movement: First state to win women’s right to vote (1919) - Miss America Protest: End beauty standards oppression of women (1968) - Australia Council of Trade Unions (ACTU): End 25 cent pay difference ( 1969) - Million Mom March: End gun violence in schools (2000) - Slutwalk: End rape culture and victim blaming by police (2011) - Women2Drive: Saudi Arabian campaign to lift ban on women driving (2011) - Women’s March on Washington: Largest single-lady women’s protest (2017)
Curling Leaves wrestle between themselves A howling wind whistles to itself The light blue grays Is this death? A naked tree branch scratching against a house A screaming wind calls out The sky cries Is this the end? A blanketing snow lies over me Ice touches the dying green Is this death the end? No, it is the beginning of life
By Kassy Menke
Murasaki, If I could see you walking amidst the pines, once again, Would you be today as the fruits on harvest? Give me from your fingers, the thirst that they confessed among my hands, And let’s open together, from my chest, like yesterday, Any Pandora’s box you’d choose to release 47
Ballad of a Wrecked Man
By Alicia Alonso
I drink. I drink. Inside this crowd, alone. I hear screaming and shouting A scream, a kick. A missing link. A missing link. A subtle moan. It was just an outing. Time slowly ticks. The taste of blood, that red ink. That cracking sound of crushing bone. A sheer knife of doubting. That slow tick, how it mocks and mimics. Forget! Forget! Before I hit the brink! Before I sink! Before I become him, he, who I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t condone. That sheer knife of doubting. A simple pinch from that knife that licks.
I drink. I drink.
By Jonathan Velez
I want to paint, A beautiful picture, Of me, Banging my head On the wall, To make the Thoughts, Stop coming. To release, All the buildup, of testosterone I have kept Inside my body. I’ll take the, Color Red, And paint the, Blood, Real slowly. I’ll even paint, A pretty shadow To make the Black, Look lovely. I’ll do my best, To get it published. So that the world Can see. That I could paint, A pretty picture, If it would just let me, Be me. 49
The Third Tango
My daughter is playing at the square with the city band a contraption, which stands for a classical piano, -synthesizer it is called-My dad, who is horribly unnerved by noise, abusively says. synthesized time unites all the sound and sense, and I still somehow hope that it will unite all the old Slavs. He kept beseeching god that she not be like me--a naked whimnot to stitch for the score She plays the waltz from the First Echelon of a Soviet film Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never managed to see, but I do remember some of the remakes local allusions on that theme Comrades who go to the Kazakh steppes with the intent to enrich themselves overnight I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to watch it, I lived one myself, the Kopaonik excursion the years in which rock nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;roll died and there was no one to drive with me on the midnight train when drunk I shed my hymen with the first machinist man from the disco in an unease attempt of not to remain the only chaste before the certificate of graduated maturity 50
and to continue some domesticated and already famed bone-breakers -- who translate every imported idea unspeakably literally -pulled the first guns against real bullets of some who had but billiard cues, another fault in their brains and the pumpkin was crushed before it flowered, our shortened graduation excursion through our shortened land. No one danced with me at the graduation dance for there were thirty-two of us skirts at that language school. My daughter is playing the first tango from the Echelon she follows the music with her left foot, yet we are still in the same drained land, I am dancing to her earthquake in my own path and I know already nothing was ever in vain, that now it is not me, it is she who will pay them my debt
By Cristina Sandoval
I tried speaking your language. My tongue didn’t know the way your country is housed in your mouth. My body felt equipped with new limbs. Foreign hands. Baby feet and milk teeth. All I wanted was to dive into your skin. I’ve fantasized about traversing the landscape of your hands, mapping the insides of your elbows, gently paving the paths with my finger tips; speaking my name into the inside of your lips. I dream in color and film, and you’re in each scene, saturated and bright as every star developing-combusting-in red lit rooms.
Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve searched, every night, for the subtitles to translate your body. All dreaming has done is made me want you more, made my hands desperate in an attempt to reach you. I want you as my own. I travel with boulders rolling down my back, crushing my spine on the way down this mountain--This beast I thought I could climb.
By Kassy Menke 53
By Sabrina Ghulam
It falls like a stream from my mouth G No, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t quite fall, how does sound fall? No, it flows, it curves, and moves gracefully up and down the staircase of pitch. F sharp Sometimes these changes are small, like a jutting rock, a crevice in the unchanging water. It ripples, it shifts, but never falters. F natural But the stream is unpredictable, and I only permit the water to move down a half-step. Why do I let the water flow? Sound does not flow if no one is to hear it; therefore, it cannot be water. Water is strong, unchanging, but I am stuck at the height of this note. F The stream from my mouth drips and shakes. It does not taste like water. It tastes like dry, utter defeat. D sharp This note usually satisfies me, but the jump is even lower and just hurts even more. I should just stop. How do you stop water? E I struggle to compose myself and the water, and the jittery drops become a stream, a thicker stream into a river. 54
And I realize that water never goes away. Sound never goes away; it moves us and is inside us. F sharp I take this step smoothly, not as unsure as before. I may not change course, but I will never change what I am. I will erode the rock that forms this crevice that holds this water. A I reach for air and let it sway my notes, my sound; air is the vessel for which sound travels through. F sharp And I descend. G
By Kassy Menke 55
The Good Deed
By Quay Stearns
By Mary Schmitt
Begin with the walls of your living room, No longer just green but a sage green so deep The scent of moss and morning Is stronger than your coffee’s aroma. Slow your breath, Your eyes, Here is the wall to the left of the archway; Square in the wall’s center, Black and white photo of a pond Touched by rising sun. Let your arms rise, too, In front of the photo, Its black and white, Silver, Its gray dawn Make a frame in the air with your hands, Those hands that have held the face, Been given the kiss, Of so much nervous, angry, complicated love. See – Allow yourself to see – Another rush of alchemy, Every bundle of light Opened in each of the photo’s clouds, Pulsed through the photo’s mud-rimmed island, The many grays of grass breaking tall through water. Then lower your hands. Touch the worn, pretty clock of your own face.
Echoes of a Dream
By Jay Frankston
Although I never came close enough to the fire to be scorched, the radiation has penetrated my psyche and Nazi boots trampled my dreams, and Loreleis and Lily Marlenes sing under the lanterns of my past. I recall my childhood in Paris in the late 1930s. Small and puny and dressed in the name FRANKENSTEIN, a joke to spiteful children of my age. I was the subject to laughter and derision, and a deep loneliness sucked me in, a loneliness from which I have never come out. It was the time of the “Crosses of Fire”, surging fascism with its inevitable anti-Semitic credentials. It was then that I found out that I was a Jew. On the note-books I brought home from school, scribbled in children’s handwriting, the words “DEATH TO JEWS” and “HANG THEM ALL” made me first aware of a religious background I had inherited and had not taken to mind. Unthinking children, with no way to vent the bitterness that was invested in them by their authoritarian parents, ran through the streets like wild dogs chasing the Jewish lamb into a corner and biting its legs. Since there were only a few of us in each neighborhood I ran the streets alone, fleeing from the horde of misguided children and seeking refuge where none existed. And in the distance, I could hear the sound of those heavy boots marching in cadence and crushing the grapes in its path until the juice, the color of blood, splattered the streets, and the sidewalks, and the gray walls of the houses of Paris. And in the quiet that followed, a 58
long hand, with bony fingers, reached into every corner of the French night to pluck out the Jewish flies and send them off to Auschwitz. Some had sensed the impending doom and fled from the field of disaster, and some lay so quiet and still that the hand did not see them, but most were caught in the web and carted away to their deaths in the ovens of the devil. I was one of those who escaped the carnage. I found myself alive and well, living in New York, fifteen years of age, not quite understanding what had happened and yet branded by an everlasting loneliness which still lives in the marrow of my bones. It was not until a few years later that I first became aware of the magnitude of the slaughter that had taken place and something inside of me rebelled. Some Jews, whose faith had never been stoic, seemed confirmed in their doubt by the question they raised on their theistic flag pole: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Where was God when six million of his chosen people were slaughtered like lambs?â&#x20AC;? And every fiber of my being revolted against this simplistic attitude. There were no outbreaks in those camps, few attempts to resist the fate that they succumbed to, no interference with the events that led them to their unnatural end, and I could not help but wonder why. And there I was in the grips of my adolescence, angry and proud, and promising myself to let no one scratch the surface of my moral fiber, reaching deep within myself for the gleaming sword of justice with which to do battle in the name of righteousness. And I entered the field of law charging on a white stallion, like a gladiator in the arena, like St. George and the dragon, like Don Quixote and the windmills. And for nearly twenty years I rammed my spear into the belly of the monster, and 59
he was barely scratched. But I was tired and weary. My body was scarred, and my spirit was bleeding, and I had to tend to myself. So, I took off my sword and gave away my horse and retreated to the woods. There I sat under a tree, meditating on the state of my being. I dug my fingers into the rich black soil and planted the seeds of my discontent. The seasons changed and when spring came around, I saw that my seeds had given birth to beauty and realized how blind I had been. How everything is perfect. How there is no such thing as right or wrong, there is only that which is. How there is an order in the order of things, and everything is in that order. And I folded my hands and let out a resounding “OM” which came out of the depths of my soul and surrounded me with a total sense of well-being. And then . . . I had this dream: Over the gate the sign read “AUSCHWITZ”. The ground was cold under our feet as we stood naked, all in a row, waiting to be taken to the showers. That’s how they did it you know, only sometimes it was a shower, and sometimes it was gas that came out of the shower heads. And the ones that followed loaded the corpses on wheelbarrows and took them to the ovens for cremation. And there we were, shivering in the cold, following and followed by naked bodies whose flesh had fallen off from malnutrition, and the dreadful shower house some distance ahead. And I saw these two Hassidic Jews in front of me praying in Hebrew with undiminished faith. And I saw these two Jews in back of me grasping a last hope and saying: “Maybe it will be really a shower. After all, it’s a shower once in a while. Who says it will not be a 60
shower today?” And I saw myself in the midst of them, walking quietly with resignation, my hands folded in front of me and the words echoing in my mind: “Everything is perfect. There is no such thing as right or wrong. There is only that which is. There is an order in the order of things, and everything is in that order.” Everything? EVERYTHING? And the words exploded inside my head, and I let out a resounding scream. “NO! NO! Not everything. Not this, I must stand. I must fight. I must resist. Give me back my sword. There are millions of us and only a few hundred of them, and if we have to die, we will die our own deaths and not theirs. And the night faded and swept my dream away; and with the morning that followed there descended upon me a great confusion, a conflict within me between that in which I am a crusader, and that in which . . . I am a priest.
By Anonymous 61
By Jacob Kobina
In the mid-air, where heads are smouldering, your daughter is singing and filling the musical cadence left behind in the meaningless specters by her late great grandfather, her voice arresting a deadly locution, we, the audience, still waiting to trace those collective words from the gulf and beyond. Your uncle after long interval with physical existence in the deepest slumber, he claps and teased by old paddies and soldiers, who carry trays full of cups, the bird sits in an up draught, the sky returns its night colour which is packed with stars and sulphur smelling, their wet heads glistening in the early dew are small treats to become plenty for all, they are burred in fatigue, her wings in the bow.
Pleasures of Sailing
By Milton Ehrlich
The world is on fire. To subdue the heat, I step off the world in the best way I canâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; shipping out across a turbulent blue sea. I take a drag of salt air as if it was a last breath, and listening to the music of the waves lapping on the side of my boat, I forget all words. Flocks of seagulls, sentinels of the deep, screech dire warnings. Purple clouds spit sheets of snow. Surging waves rock my healing sailboat. It pitches and plunges in a dance macabre. Chill winds cut like a knife. We come about and head for port, with a frozen smile on the mermaid perched on the bow.
By Mariah Diego
They say your body is a temple, but my mind is the least tranquil place I can think of. It should be filled with visitors who provide hope and comfort to one another But the conversations among my visitors could not sound more dissonant. Instead of the soft, low hum of prayers, I hear the harsh, loud stir of chaos. Instead of being gently doused by the calm waters, I drown in them. They say your body is a temple, but my mind is the last place Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d expect to find peace.
By Sabrina Mendenhall
By Abigail Glass
By Neelanjana Shakya
When you fit your mouth Into the darker half of the moon, The shadows of its geometry changes. Your breath burns colder, And the edges of your shoulders Begin to fold, The skeleton of the universe brings to glow, And before you could have time to wonder, You begin to fade. 65
By Jacob Kobina
Nat Turnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s body was flayed and dismembered, his skin sewn into relics, his flesh churned into wagon greaseâ&#x20AC;Śall in hope of preventing a legacy. -The Birth of a Nation The black Bible is his traveling book and everywhere he stops his feet dust and whirlwind and leave everything in blank and empty, he goes into a trance of composure and somehow he hears someone Giggling and hurrying up with the Arcadian insignia in one hand, he waits to hear more names Which have no vowels to soil rags, he allows his head hanging haplessly until those shadows reeling into a corner To return to their start with the halo and half hale and hearty, he grapes his mouth in the handkerchief. Time and ice Melt away in the same direction more than one sense, he ignores a fresh mind for playing the Infant stage to form a bridge
Between credit for a man and his energies untrammeled by precedent as barrel thundering as he half falls From unconscious conflict and neurosis, almost a standard methods in a very varied picture used for various crafts, He asks for drinking water but cannot take a sip, he flops and squirms on the floor, his dreams are eaten up by a black corona light.
By Jeffrey Desersa 67
100 years with Alexandra Kollontai
But I only wanted to protect and defend you to bury every memory of painful embryo and woe of social wrong trenches and weeded roofs. I wanted to prick off your eyes with a golden hook so you see to act as your speed bump that whore at the corner of the street an orphan, a patient, a widow a saint, a sinner, a boxing bag, a spittoon so you feel better. To drop off to the size of a bean gray afternoon with no whiff to be the voice of the first bugle and that grindstone sabre from the hook and the rake to unbury from the cradle to the grave each and every sore pestiferous and to be the first to lie in it by choice. For you, I wanted to clench my teeth to stretch you in the body of a timid runt and back to break so I can prove how much I love you with deeds not platitudes. To break all of your windows, and your display of bogus nails, and your windshields. To drag you by your locks onto the waves of a new revolution, a new world to make up for it and not be left high and dry 68
on a ripped off declaration on consumer basket with flour and oil on an auction sale on a doormat at the Delta exit on a bag of soup, a sack of grits To be your Lupa a mother for you, Romulus and Remus, should we build on those forums our world new and brave? so that upstream rushes all that still can breathe free and out of the grove and forever against the disgrace of us all. From a handful of ash, I would have risen for you if you could only pardon my extended hand
By Frecia Chirinos * Title translated from the Spanish â&#x20AC;&#x153;Tumbaâ&#x20AC;?
The Origin By Yuan Y:
You are haunted by ‘Y’, not because it’s the first letter
in your Family name, but because it’s like a horn, which the water buffalo in your Native village uses to fight against injustice or, because it’s like a twig Where a crow can come down to perch, a cicada can sing towards The setting sun as loud as it wants to; more important, in Egyptian hieroglyphics It stands for a real reed, something you can bend into a whistle or flute In pronouncing it, you can get all the answers you need, besides You can make it into a heart-felt catapult and shoot at a snake-head or Sparrow as long as it is within the wild wild range of your boyhood
Is surely a part of you, while you sound no more than an S single letter U, which is nothing but a copy of a chick; you used to be on the bank of The Nile, where U can be changed into V within an European word as in Yvan It’s said you have the makings of a Victor, a powerful us or unrepresentative Who begins the unit, the union, the uniform, the university, the universe
of a Family Name Changming A:
As the first born to the Semitic family, A was originally A picture of an alef or ox, the agricultural energy that was rotated twice until Alpha loomed up in the Greek psychoscape even before Adam became the chosen father of all Europeans close to Athens, where Apollo had acupunctured wisdom and knowledge into Aristotle, the intellectual ancestor of modern man, who inspired Alexander to make the first effort of globalization, which did not reach East Asia, the land of Ah Qâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, the largest hotel for All travelers until centuries later, but it is Atomic bombs that will blow up all our pasts and send us through America to a higher civilization, where the drop of an Apple is to enable us to fly to the other side of the universe Along the cosmic string as Africa, the heart of human darkness Awaits for Buddha, Jesus, Allah or an other unknown Author to come and rotate for the third time A scarlet letter of A
No, nobody knows this but you are really no more Or no less than the old Egyptian metonymy of a stream, river Lake, sea or even an entire ocean, where there is always water Where there are always fish rather than a synecdochic Z Pushed straight upright On the bank of the Euphrates
By Ray Vargas
I’m Coming Home
By Josh Sartain
It’s been a long time but Momma I’m coming home. It’s been a long while but this journey has led me through my trials and tribulations. I’m not the same man. This lifestyle takes more than it gives. The more it feeds, the less I believe that I will make it out alive and when I don’t acknowledge the beast, the Devil comes out of hiding and takes my soul. Morning becomes night and my body becomes the feast. What if I can’t become the man you want? I’m not a troubled teen like I used to be. The alcohol killed my suicidal thoughts and the moonlight walks stopped my drinking addiction. It seems as if at the age of two, I would have 72
had a prediction of what my life would have turned into if I stayed in the arms of a drug addicted, self inflicted Mother. That may have been a little harsh for you have turned into my number one fan. It’s been a long time but Momma I’m coming home. It’s been a long while but this journey has led me through my trials and tribulations. I wake up in the morning and my back aches. I pop a pill or two to ease the pain. I’ll do whatever it takes. My phone rings and they need me again. I’m always on the road as the Devil sings. I’ll travel a state or two passing by so many faces. It’s all a blur with all these places but when I’m up on that stage it’s like I was meant to be. Time to pack my bags and I’m on the road again. It’s been a long time but Momma I’m coming home. It’s been a long while but this journey has led me through my trials and tribulations.
By Maggie Hodson
By Bob Chikos
Community College was a blossoming. I had been a heavyset, shy mess in high school. In college, I lost the weight, hit the books, and eventually made friends through the Student Senate. By winter break of my sophomore year, I was invited to my first college party. My friend Paige hosted it at her vacationing parents’ house. Paige and her two older sisters had been home-schooled on religious grounds. This was their non-Amish rumspringe. I wanted to bring my girlfriend, Anna, to the party. I never had a girlfriend before Anna. This was kind of a big deal. It wasn’t to be. Anna said she couldn’t make it. She was always canceling at the last minute and I felt like a boyfriend-in-title only. We had a great time when we were together, but lately she seemed to keep making excuses to not go out. Years later, it made sense when I learned I wasn’t her type - no guy was her type. The house was a medium-sized ranch and was already filled. Entering, I recognized a few from my school, but most faces were new to me. As I sat in a chair, next to the Christmas tree, the doorbell rang. Paige’s sister let in Paul, Paige’s unrequited crush. He walked in the entryway and surveyed the room, trying to identify a familiar face. From the dining room, Paige started toward the door. “Hey Paul!” I yelled from my chair, waving at Paul. We didn’t know each other very well. He said, “Hi” without being able to name me. “Hey Paul, take a few steps back.” Paul looked at me quizzically. “Two steps back.” I motioned with my hand for him to step back. He stepped back.
“He’s under the mistletoe, Paige, go get him!” Paige laughed and blushed. I hadn’t noticed the blonde with too-thick black eyeliner next to me until she brayed, “Ha ha! That’s funny! Ha ha!” “Oh, Paige kind of likes Paul. I was just teasing.” “Ha ha! I bet you embarrassed her! Ha ha!” Her name was Melissa. She didn’t seem particularly bright. She laughed at everything I said. Soon, William, from the Student Senate, appeared. William was…unique. Then again, community college attracts all types. He was on the Student Senate, but it was obvious he had special intellectual needs, what my mother charitably would have described as “slow”. My friends and I wondered how he got into college – even community college. He was 23, never worked, and took just a few classes per semester, while just hanging out at the campus the rest of the day. I would guess he was too low-functioning to thrive at a job, but too high-functioning to qualify for any group home care. He was almost always gloomy and enjoyed subjects like aliens, religious miracles, and TV shows featuring women doing aerobics. As the party heated up, the noise level rose. “Melissa, this is William. He’s also from the Student Senate.” “What?” Shouting, “I said, ‘This is William. He’s also from the Student Senate.’” “Oh, hi William. I’m Melissa.” She said, offering her hand. “Nice to meet you.” William offered a limp hand in return and, eyes downcast, responded, “Yeah.” The noise made it impossible to talk. The three of us grabbed our coats and went outside to the wraparound porch. It was late-December cold, perhaps 20 degrees, but Melissa was shivering like it was 40 below. “It’s so cold!” She said, rubbing her arms. “It’s not that bad.” I said. “Ha ha! Speak for yourself! I moved here from Southern Cali-
fornia. This is my first winter in Illinois. I can’t stand it.” “Why’d you move?” “My dad got a job transfer.” While Melissa and I stood talking, William sat silently on a porch chair. I wasn’t used to a girl laughing at anything I said. I wasn’t attractive in high school but, since then, I had developed the physique of an athlete. I slowly realized she was trying to get me to like her. I didn’t know how to play this. Since I started liking girls, I was never able to get one. Now that I finally had a girlfriend, another was mine if I wanted her. Even though my relationship with Anna was sagging, it was important to me that I stay loyal. “I’m not doing anything on New Year’s Eve, if you wanted to come over to my house.” She said, then smiled. “My parents will be out.” “Oh, well, I actually have a girlfriend.” Her eyes dimmed and her face sank. “Oh, you do?” “Yeah. We’ve been going out about a month.” “She should be here,” she said, then raised an eyebrow. “If you were my boyfriend, I wouldn’t let you go to a party without me.” “A-hem,” William interjected. “Say, Melissa, I couldn’t help but overhear that you said you don’t have any New Year’s Eve plans.” As he spoke, he shook his right hand from side to side, as if he were preparing to roll dice. “I could come over. I’m available. I just need a ride.” He made near-eye contact with her and smiled, showing his visible teeth plaque. Melissa was in a tough spot. I could see that she liked me and wouldn’t let a hurdle like my girlfriend stop her. On the other hand, she also knew William was my friend so she needed to be kind. “That’s very nice of you William but, uh-” The middle of the sentence hung in the frosty air. She didn’t seem like the kind of person who was accustomed to being nice to people with lower status. She looked to me for help. I didn’t know what to do, either.
“Well, William. I just met you tonight.” “But you just met Bob tonight and invited him over. He has a girlfriend. I don’t.” He stood up and threw his arms out. “I don’t get it!” “We could be friends first, how about that?” “I have enough friends! I need a girlfriend!” Melissa looked at me. I shrugged my shoulders. “I’m freezing,” Melissa said. “I’m going inside.” Before the door closed behind her, William asked. “Why won’t she go out with me?” “I don’t know William. I don’t really understand girls, myself.” “I’m 23 years old and I’ve never had a girlfriend,” he said, as spittle formed at the sides of his lips. “You could have two if you wanted.” I felt for him. I didn’t have one until I was 19, long past most of my peers. But for him, there was still no end in sight. I also understood how social status worked. She was way out of his league. William leaned on the railing and looked into the darkness beyond the front yard. “It’s hard, Bob. I’m so lonely.” “I know what you mean, man.” “No, you don’t! You have a girlfriend!” “I didn’t get one until just a month ago.” “But you could get one at any time. Look at you – you look like Tom Cruise! I look like-” he pointed to his waxy face “this.” “It took a lot of work to get in the shape that I’m in. I work out every day.” I danced around the real issues – he was socially inappropriate, intellectually stunted, and physically unattractive. But I couldn’t crush him like that. He already knew this through the mirror that society held up to him on a daily basis. “Come on, man,” I said. “Let’s go back inside.” “You go in. I’ll stay out here a little longer.” I walked toward the door. Through the window, I could see Melissa. She perked up in her seat, smiled at me and, with her eyes, traced my movement. I heard rapid-fire party laughter through the walls drowning out an R.E.M. song.
I put my hand on the doorknob, then turned to look at William. I heard him sniffle. I walked through the doorway, past Melissa, and into the kitchen to get a drink. From the kitchen, I could see William through the dining room window. His face was in his hands and his head was shaking. I grabbed two cans of Sprite, walked past Melissa on the couch, and back onto the porch. I approached William. “What do you want?” He asked, wiping slobber onto his sleeve. “I got us some Sprites,” I said, handing him one as I sat in the chair next to his. “It’s too hot, noisy, and crowded in there.” “Don’t you want to be with all those cool people?” “Pfft,” I said, cracking open my Sprite. “None of those people ever compared me to Tom Cruise.”
By Rebecca Skogh
By Neelanjana Shakya
My fingernails are soft today, Coarse: The dust beneath them. There are dots in my eyes, Lines in my mind, Fangs in my heart And whirlpools in my toes. I feel this feeling of feeling, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Oh, so clear!â&#x20AC;? The glass with no outline. Poisoned stars glitter as they go, Crop circles puddle in pools And the brick of butter Sharpens its edges. Today I am a splatter of patterns And this Is my lens.
By Alicia Van De Bor
By Neelanjana Shakya
I saw all of time, In a single wrinkle, On your perfect rose Shirt. I folded our memories, Ivory kerchiefed, And slipped it into your breast Pocket. I left my hair Around your collar, Forgetting to break the Tie. And now I listen To the winter, As my eyes begin to snow And my heart begins to blue inside.
I am the Rainbow
By Pawel Markiewicz
I, a priest, am waiting behind the magic rainbow, in the beautiful Druid-temple, illuminated by the fire, that does not burn brightly, but shimmers such the magical jack-oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;-lantern. Its sparks and sparkles are called the earthly sea of wonderful feelings. I, the real Apollo, am waiting behind the mystical rainbow, in the cloud of Zeus with beautiful muses, like hummingbirds, who never cry, but create gentle laughing, longing wings, these wings belong to the honorable nice bird of melancholy. I, a falconer, am behind my winged rainbow, next to the dreamy hawk, you release it into many gusts, so that it does its first flight like a golden eagle and buzzard, in a lazy air soul, the magic bird has the courage of the poet. I, a collector of antlers, am waiting behind the old rainbow. In the light, gentle jungle of the angels full of noble deer that keep the traces of hope in the heart as in the cup of the souls. These dreaming hearts are able to perpetuate all dreams of the forest.
Tribute to Edith Massey The Egg Lady
By Frecia Chirinos
The Night Wanderer
By Mariah Diego
She was an aimless night wanderer. She had no destination, unless you consider desperately seeking out purpose in life to be a point one could arrive at. The streets looked particularly empty that night, and the closest thing she’d had to human interaction was reading a “no smoking” sign. Each night seemed colder than the last, and as winter progressed, the clouds that her breath created grew more opaque. 82
Her vision was fogged by them, but also by the permanent lens of sadness over her eyes which made everything look so bleak. Her fishnet stockings provided her little protection from the freezing wind and frigid demeanor of others, though she paid no attention to how cold she was. She only worried that the intense chattering of her teeth would disturb the tranquility of the street upon which she was an intruder. This was often the case. She always tiptoed around puddles and did her best to keep her footsteps inaudible, no matter how taxing it was. She feared that her presence was a burden on the street that maintained perfect order and wholeness without her. Perhaps this was why she found herself strolling through the night air in the first place. She hoped to suddenly stumble upon a neighborhood where she felt like her existence was vital rather than bothersome. Until then, she silently trudged through the darkness, because it was the only thing that seemed disinterested by her occupancy rather than annoyed.
By Frecia Chirinos 84
* Title translated from the Spanish â&#x20AC;&#x153;Antifazâ&#x20AC;?
Tonto Reminisces about the Lone Ranger By Sam Hatch
Just ask Calpurnia—you know the lady who took care of Jem and Scout for Atticus. Just ask Jim, Queequeg, or Chingachgook. Of course for the last two, you’ll need to speak Polynesian or Mohican. They’ll all tell you it’s not easy being an ethnic sidekick to a Supreme Enlightened White Man. One like Queemosabe*. Now here’s a guy who’s also a charismatic vigilante, a crusader on a mission to clean up the Old West. Of course, not everybody wanted it cleaned up. Like all self-respecting vigilantes, the guy more or less had the franchise on good violence. You remember him, the Lone Ranger-- the white hat, the powder blue spandex riding suit, the black mask, those silver bullets. Queemo was my friend, and yes, I was his faithful companion. Still he was a little eccentric. Not just the powder blue spandex. No, it wasn’t just his weird fashion sense. I don’t think he was wired like the rest of us. Maybe charismatic vigilantes never are. Wantin’ to support law and order yet despairin’ that the official law men can ever get the job done. Havin’ to take the law into his own hands. So Queemo was definitely a big second amendment guy. Probably a occupational psychosis for vigilantes. You know, those silver bullets puzzled me. Who knew a vast international vampire conspiracy was tryin’ to annex Texas to Transylvania? Or maybe those silver bullets were some sorta talisman of virtue. Well, he had a lot of that—virtue I mean. When I found Queemo lyin’ in a gulch behind some mesquite, he had nearly bled out. His eyes were kinda feverish—askin’ for help. So I nursed him back to health. Yes, Indians can be Good Samaritans too. After all, some people used to think we were descended from the lost tribes of Israel. Of course, Quemo was grateful. We quickly became best friends—a dynamic duo. Of course, he always gets top billing. *Queemosabe is pronounced “key-mo-saw-bee.” Accents on the first and third syllables. Queemo is just a nick-name I gave the Lone Ranger. Nobody called him that but me. Tonto
You know, his real name was John Reid--a good Scots-Irish name like Jackson, Boone and Crockett. The lone survivor of a massacre. A Texas Ranger troop led by his big brother—a guy Queemo idolized. According to Queemo, he was 10 feet tall and wrestled alligators for fun. And the only time Big Brother had to get really serious about wrestlin’, was when he was ambushed by a grizzly bear—definitely a bad decision by the bear. Well, all those Texas heroes slaughtered by the fiendish Butch Cavendish and his gang of bloodthirsty cutthroats. Cavendish was a sort of sagebrush Dr. Moriarty, whose evil laugh haunted Queemo even more than the William Tell Overture. That guy Cavendish was so evil, one time after his grandma had made him an apple pie, he actually squirted tobacco juice half way across the old lady’s newly mopped kitchen floor. Then, he laughed like he’s just a harmless. I doubt Grandma Cavendish saw that. When Queemo heard about it, he was speechless. Was it survivor guilt or revenge or chivalry that turned Quemo into a charismatic vigilante? Maybe it was all three. Of course, he did make his mask out of his brother’s bloodstained vest. There had to be something visceral percolatin’ below all that high-mindedness. When he caught up with Butch Cavendish and his killers, Queemo was plannin’ to Mirandize them and give them a chance to surrender peacefully. I think at some point—was it before or after the massacre?—he filed a homestead on the Moral High Ground—a lush plateau with beautiful vistas but very sparsely populated. We met a lot of people in our travels who said they had homesteads on that plateau—parsons, missionaries, and upright pillars of the community. But no one was actually living there; they were all waitin’ to retire first. Queemo, on the other hand, told me he’d dug a well and built a snug little cabin on his property. He said there were a lot of wild hogs runnin’ wild up there. I asked him what kinda hogs. He winked and said, “the ones that have wings.” I never saw his homestead, but I’ve never doubted him. Except about the pigs with wings. Well, gettin’ back to Butch Cavendish. Of course, I can’t help thinkin’ Queemo wouldn’t have minded if Cavendish laughed
at his offer to peaceful surrender and told him to go to blazes. Then Queemo would get a chance to put a silver slug or two in good-for-nuthin, massacring, tobacco spittin’ brain. The way I see it, after the visceral satisfaction of good violence, a high-minded, charismatic vigilante has every right to move on, so to speak, with a clear conscience. To the more delicate emotions of humane regret. No use broodin’ and spittin’ tobacco juice on a conscience which had every right to be clean. Of course, the schoolmarms and the parsons loved Queemo’s humane regret. I guess, in some ways, I’m like his silver bullets—a talisman too. I’m his flesh and blood symbol of his faith in the “Declaration of Independence.” You know, “All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” I suppose American heroes sometimes need a faithful companion of color, a symbol of American virtue, a recognition, even a reverence for universal humanity. “All men” tosses a mighty big lasso. Now, I realize it’s an honor to be a symbol of American high-mindedness and a faithful companion to a genuine American hero, but I do get a little tired of speaking cigar-store Indian: “Sheriff need help, Queemosabe. “Me wait for signal, Queemosabe.” “That heap good plan, Queemosabe.” “Me no more talk heap drivel, Queemosabe.” I know Queemo’s a very decent guy, but I’m still waiting for the equal billing he promised me when we started our vigilante act. I know he’s got the tragic and mysterious Byronic past—the terrible massacre, the trauma of losing the brother he idolized--a trauma that continues to haunt him and makes pretty schoolmarms desperate to console him. I, on other hand, before I met Queemo, was just a kindly Good Samaritan Indian, wandering the Old West, leaving Gideon Bibles for the spiritually parched at desert water holes. Apparently, out of sheer niceness. Niceness is one of those essential qualifications in the ethnic sidekick business. You know, Mr. Rogers in buckskins. Now that’s about as un-Byronic as you can get.
Yes, I’m the guy whose life had no meaning—nary a smidgeon--until I rescued a Supreme Enlightened White Man and he anointed me his sidekick. Well, somebody tell me why I couldn’t be the hero with a tragic and mysterious Byronic past? Anyone ever heard tell of Indians being massacred? You think there might have been a Cherokee Byronic hero or two haunted by the Trail of Tears, or maybe a few Sioux dog soldier brooding over Wounded Knee? I’d put money on it. Queemo’s actually not a bad guy-even with all the foot-dragging on equal billing. There are just times when the faithful companion thing gets a little old. You know, Queemo creates the strategies for defeating evil in the Wild West. He delegates the menial work to me. He is the one who gets to be grandly modest—”No thanks necessary, sheriff,” “No need to thank me, ma’am.”I stand off to the side admiring him (think of Pat Nixon transfixed by the sainted countenance of Dick) —he gets all the wistful, longing looks from the beautiful school marm or the sheriff’s lovely daughter. Well, Queemo is a Supreme Enlightened White Man. Awhile back, when Queemo and I needed some time away from each other (cleaning up the Old West can get pretty stressful sometimes), I ran into Dave and Frieda Lawrence at some health spa in Taos. I like reading Dave’s stuff. But I think he could use an editor. Those sections on “suave loins” can be mighty tough to slog through. Well, Dave is always telling me to liberate myself from white consciousness and connect with my dark and primal self. Well, that might be good advice. I’d get into therapy if the medicine man could promise me a harrowing inward journey down a twisting path to a really sunny primal self. What’s wrong with sunny? Dave reminds me sometimes of Henry Ford. Remember he used to say you can have a model T in the color of your choice as long as it’s black. Even an anti-Semite can have a sense of humor. Maybe it’s better that Henry never bought the “lost tribes” theory. Sorry, I’m wandering a bit. So Old Dave doesn’t really approve of Queemo. When he starts talking about Queemo, he gets all Freudian on me. He tells me to think about somethin’:
“Why does your best friend ride a big white stallion while the William Tell Overture crescendos and shout like a Wagnerian baritone, ‘High-ho, Silver, and away.’ How come Queemo hogs all the operatic high-ho’s? How come you never get a ‘highho’ or equal billing?” All I could think to say was, “Dave, there’s deep and then there’s up-to-your chin in quicksand deep. I actually figured out that part about the big white stallion and the ecstatic high-ho’s. A long time ago. I appreciate your doing therapy on a down-trodden red man. But couldn’t you sell that sparkling swamp water to somebody else?” Dave can get pretty intense sometimes. So Queemo is my friend. He is a Supreme-Enlightened White Man. I’m not denyin’ it. It’s that I wish sometimes his enlightenment was just a tad bit more supreme. You know what I mean?
By Frecia Chirinos * Title translated from the Spanish “Ritual de Escape”
By Sophia Charles
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You Know the Change will do you Good
By James Gobel