FA L L 2 0 1 6 V O L U M E 3 I S S U E 1
A Writersâ€™ Guild Publication
ARTIFACT NOUVEAU Volume 3 Issue 1
EDITOR IN CHIEF Vanessa M. Soto EDITORIAL TEAM Dominique Diaz Mikael Honzel Vanessa Lopez
FACULTY ADVISORS Sarah Antinora Gabrielle Myers FRONT COVER ART
It Was an Accident by Natalie Watkins
BACK COVER ART Exit by James Shoemaker Artifact Nouveau is a publication of works from the San
Joaquin Delta College community. It celebrates the artistic and creative works of its students, faculty, alumni, and employees. It is published by the Writers’ Guild of San Joaquin Delta College. The contributors certify the works are their own. The views of these works do not reflect the opinions of the administration or trustees of Delta College.
Artifact Nouveau copyright remains with respective authors
and artists. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. ©2016
SAN JOAQUIN DELTA COLLEGE Superintendent/ President: Dr. Kathy Hart Board of Trustees President: Claudia Moreno Vice President: Janet Rivera Clerk: Richard Vasquez Student Trustee: Rafael Medina Dr. Teresa Brown Steve Castellanos, FAIA Catherine Mathis, M.D. C. Jennet Stebbins
A Letter from the President I am a writer. Sometimes it feels strange to say, but like all poets, authors, playwrights, screenwriters and so on, I write original work that spurs from imagination, heart, and hard work. I often ask myself why I write. What am I trying to achieve? What can I expect people who read my work to think or feel about it? After all, I don’t think my ideas are any more worthy of reading than anyone else’s. But still, I write. Someone important to me once told me that art is a warped reflection of the world around us. Art shows us the world we live in with new eyes. By writing, people are able to build a world with anything and anyone in it. By reading, people are able to live in that world for a short time. Writing allows us to show others the way we view them, and sometimes allows us to see ourselves the way others view us. We all write in some capacity. The important question I think we have to consider as writers is what it is exactly we want to say. This semester’s submissions of writings, 60% originating from San Joaquin Delta College, are reflective of the things we as a writing community have to say as individuals and as a group. I hope you, the reader, enjoy falling in and out of the many worlds built for you in these pieces. Writers put their words on paper, but it is your job to give those words voice. And please, if you want your own words heard, submit to Artifact Nouveau. Thank you, Writers’ Guild, for making this magazine possible. Your commitment to developing and publishing student writers inspires me to believe in the power of the SJDC community, and being in Writers’ Guild has been the highlight of my academic experience. Thank you. Isabella Calabrese President of Writers’ Guild
Thank you to all the contributing authors and artists who comprise our fall issue. We are especially grateful for the hard work of Patricia Mayorga, editor of Poets’ Espresso Review. We also want to thank those who led the fall semester writing workshops: Mary Blackford, Greg Foro, and June Gillam. Lastly, thank you to the following Writers’ Guild members for their editing contributions: Myles Salas, Jaysyn MacDaniel, Peter Hawley, Sydney Cruz, Paola Martinez, and Matthew Reyes.
Table of Contents A Muddy Crystal Ball Makes It Hard to See the Future by Deborah Maroulis......................................................5 Portsdown Hill by Michael Duffett..........................................................7 Labels by Martin H. Levinson....................................................8 Hard Feelings by Gale Acuff.....................................................................9 Her Car by K Holden......................................................................11 Galaxies by Isabella Calabrese ..................................................14 Phantom Pain by Peter Hawley..............................................................14 The Unseen Pollution by Alexander Chellsen................................................15 Death of an Idea by Kaitlyn Cox.................................................................18 Why Doves Cry by Aaron Chapman.........................................................19 Burning by Vanessa Maldonado-Soto......................................21 A New Job in Winter by Taylor Hornbeak.......................................................23
Your Smirk Pays Homage by Sam Hatch....................................................................25
Table of Contents cont. Burning Anger, Cooling Anger by Dominique Diaz.........................................................26 Letâ€™s Kill Them UNDESIRABLES by Patricia A. Smith........................................................27 Tick Tock by Sofia Resendiz.............................................................29 Nothing without Roots by Sarinna Lopez..............................................................38 Notes to You by Vanessa Maldonado-Soto......................................39 When You Are Falling Asleep at the Wheel by Lauren Boisvert.........................................................41 April 26, 2016 by Lyn Lifshin...................................................................42 Rigor Mortis by Christopher S. Lilley................................................43 In the Dark by Peter Hawley..............................................................45 Gunslingers by James Weaver...............................................................46 The Child in Me by Patricia Mayorga .....................................................47 Samuel by Mahdi Akherati..........................................................49 Contributors ..................................................................50
A Muddy Crystal Ball Makes It Hard to See the Future by Deborah Maroulis
Another Sunday morning, and a spoiled mashed potato sky blocked the sun. The air was heavy with the kind of shadows that make time stand still. The long-haired girl knew it was an illusion, though, and would need to decide. She fixed her chin toward the gray and folded her arms against the impending rain. She could ride the storm; she had many times. But if the chance to escape the wet and stifled fear came to fruition, she would take it. Her weathered umbrella wore thin in patches and could no longer keep her dry. She wished for the warmth of the sun, or at least the chance to gamble for new worries. Old ones lost their flavor like a worn out piece of gum. The clouds swirled and a deep pit opened at the tips of her toes, inviting her to jump. She thought of Alice when she discovered Wonderland. Slowly, like a shadow cast from the arduous clouds, she leaned over and peered into the black. Her long hair masked her face, isolating her gaze to the immense depth staring back. For a brief moment, she thought her away might be down that hole. But this was real life, and only fictional rabbits and little girls against rote learning used such nonsensical routes to transport themselves. The clouds tightened their grip on the sun, and the sky rumbled in frustration. This was her chanceâ€“she knew it in her knees. She spoke it inward, and echoes of her thoughts spiraled into the deep. She brushed her hair aside and searched the sky for the storm. Withered elements consumed most of her time, as reflected in the dark circles under her eyes. She longed for the peaceful kind of quiet and considered leaving this gray landscape for the moonless alternative below. If only there were a light. Then she could know for sure. Behind her blew an Eastern wind. With it, leaves danced and cheered for her decision. A yellow leaf whirled around her ankles and over 5
her shoulder, finally descending into the hole. She watched it as far as she could see, holding back her hair as if the weight of it forward might tip her after the leaf. In earnest, she was not ready. She thought of asking the clouds if an escape attempt would make any difference. She hadn’t cared to speak aloud before, however, for fear of a reply. Answers, other than her own, were threatening. But if her voice were to shatter the silence, it might whisper, “I do care.” With an ironic sigh, she realized she desperately wanted to be rescued but was afraid to jump. Falling would be a good excuse. If she tripped, she could blame a lack of visibility and a poor landing if things were to be unsuccessful in the hole. She glanced upward in hope, but molding fears into guilt and blame made no light on the clouds. The sky darkened and the wind bayed. She no longer blamed the sun for hiding behind fiercer clouds as well the White Rabbit should not blame her for not jumping as readily as Alice. Certainly there would be no Sea of Tears or Queen of Hearts. She knew what Alice didn’t. She was her own ruler and did not need an inflicted guide of anymore insanity in an unsafe world. Her back straight against the wind, she dug her heels into the earth.
I am the defendant and the judge, she thought. I will go. My sentence is my own to give, and I have paid enough penance to the clouds.
The wind stopped, and her heart raced to her toes as she looked down. The hole was no longer at her feet but was racing behind the clouds to find the sun. “If this parachute just opened,” she asked aloud, shattering the darkness into a thousand white mirrors, “how long have I been falling?” The clouds answered from far away. As long as you think you have. 6
Portsdown Hill by Michael Duffett
It is no longer there, the hill behind The house that I grew up in, the hill From which I descended having made A vow to clarify in words the thoughts That I had carried, tortured, up. I am Still attempting to fulfill that vow. I have labored for decades with words. The torture has dissipated. I now See that much of it, most of it, although Necessary for the poetâ€™s vocation, Was a dramatization of myself. I have now come down from another hill But the hill behind the house that I Grew up in has long been bulldozed down.
by Eva Martinez
by Martin H. Levinson
I am a black Hispanic LGBQ transgendered Native American male who looks like a conventional white guy but that’s only because you see what I appear to be and not a jigsaw puzzle with bent and broken pieces that if dropped in a therapist’s office would scatter its social construction and fall into a multicultural mélange that emerged about 200,000 years ago in East Africa and spread through Eurasia, Oceania, and the Americas, feeding and interbreeding, speaking thousands of different languages, framing the world in ways Charles Darwin and Walt Whitman would say are unique and complex and not easily captured on US census forms where one must check off racial groups that don’t exist in nature.
Hard Feelings by Gale Acuff
Miss Hooker’s my Sunday School teacher and the most beautiful woman in the world and one day we’re going to get married even though she’s already almost old now, 25, and I’m only 10, but in a few years when I’m shaving and driving, not at the same time of course, we can have a few good years together, say when I’m 18 to her 33, just the age of Jesus when they crucified Him and of course I’d never do that to Miss Hooker, still she’d be sacrificing something of herself in marrying me, for ten years old I can sin up a storm and I don’t know if I’m likely to grow better at it, at not-sinning I mean, because just this morning in Sunday School Miss Hooker caught me with a comic book and even though the hero won and bad guy lost it’s still a sin to take them to class, comic books that is, so Miss Hooker caught me with one stuffed inside my workbook at the page with the picture where Jesus hollers out to Lazarus that Come forth 9
and you can see him, Lazarus I mean, dressed up like The Mummy and on his way back to life. It’s a pretty good story. After class Miss Hooker gave it to me, my comic book I mean, and just to show her that I had no hard feelings I asked if she thought Jesus could take Superman in a fair fight. Oh yes, she said–almost shouted–but I’m sure that He’d try to beat His opponent nonviolently. But what kind of story is that, I asked her. I can hardly wait until we’re married.
Shadow of the Lake by Farima Qolami
Her Car by K Holden When he opened the passenger side door Just as he had done so many times ago The smell of cheap coffee mixed with her perfume took him back to the time before He sat where he had sat so many times before Everything looked as it usually did In the cup holder, a half empty cup of gas station coffee Certainly rancid by now With a smudge of the shade of red she almost always wore on the mouth piece In the backseat, her school bag sat Untouched for months yet still containing school work Upon this sight, he thought back to her handwriting Each page emblazoned with her name at the top In something not quite cursive But not quite print either Something in the middle The perfect characterization for a girl whose favorite word was “perhaps” In the CD player, he was certain her favorite cd still lived Stopped on a song she’d never get to finish The visor held her other CDs by various indie bands The console still held her phone charger and Bluetooth speaker It was almost like she’d be right back He was almost certain she was in the driver’s seat Right beside him The girl who a mutual friend had introduced him to Saying not to worry because she was cool The only girl who didn’t make fun of him for being a senior in high school and still not knowing how to drive 11
And offered to give him a ride so he wouldn’t have to take the bus any more The girl who would sing along to all the songs on her CDs Though she could not hold a note to save her life And would throw her head back, laughing, at the stupid jokes he made And every single time she sung or laughed, he fell deeper in love Still there were bad days When she would not sing along to her favorite song Or laugh at stupid jokes Sometimes, she just needed silence The dashboard decorated with pictures of her friends Told more of her story than she ever could His eyes floated to a picture taken of her and her best friend just a week before Her last picture She had been so close Almost a high school graduate But her life had been cut mercilessly short at some gas station By some guy who was too busy robbing the place to care She could’ve been saved While she was on the way to school When he had the flu Her funeral the largest he had ever seen Though she didn’t believe in anything Streets had to be shut down He couldn’t believe she was gone “Happy birthday, babe. I still love you.” He whispers Tears streaming down his face like a storm 12
Cup and Light by Kassy Menke
Galaxies by Isabella Calabrese I travel galaxies. Here and there, Lightyears, miles, and inches. It’s all the same. Each star has countless twins, And in my travels I have met many MEs. Many MEs have met many YOUs as well. Some of our stories are the same and some aren’t but I guess what I’m trying to say is that we know each other. And we have forever. Nice to meet you.
Phantom Pain by Peter Hawley Around, all around, the shadows gather. My dread grows as the stroke of death falls against my eyes. It wounds me, and my essence drips To the wicked earth that is my prison. In my numbness I fall limply While nothingness takes my hand. Now alone, my soul falls upon dead eyes. This is your love. 14
The unseen Pollution Dear Albert,
by Alexander Chellsen
I cannot determine what your thoughts or opinions regarding the contents of this letter will be or decide what you choose to do with it, but one thing I can do is request you to avoid being naïve or self-absorbed enough to think I am writing this letter to apologize for my lack of effort to communicate with you in the past four years. I should also add that I am not writing this letter to extend an apology for Mom, and I sure as hell am not writing this letter to forgive you or accept any of the apologies you have offered because a) you never conveyed the words “I’m sorry” once in your communications to me, so why should I show you the mercy you never showed me? And b) your definition of expressing your remorse for leaving Mom and me is sending several belated birthday cards you purchased from the local Walgreens and a ten dollar Starbucks gift card for my graduation, which I can assure you will never suffice as a peace offering. My driving motivation for writing this letter is to thank you. Thank you for not involving yourself in my life or trying to keep in contact with me since my junior year of high school. Thank you for letting our family fall apart so Mom and I could build an indestructible one without you. As I think about it more critically, perhaps I should not allow you to have all the credit for your departure, considering the indisputable fact that Mom demanded you to leave. But in defense of your actions, which is a position I almost never undertake and hate to justify, you left without throwing one of your notorious drunken temper tantrums. I do feel, however, I can give you complete credit for opening my mind to the destructive effects of addiction and unhealthy behavior through observing your unappealing alcoholism. There have been countless incidents in high school and college where I have been offered liquor, cigarettes, mind-altering drugs, and been tempted by others to engage in all kinds of reckless behavior. But in every occurrence I was strong and wise enough to overcome the peer pressure because I learned at a very young age the negative repercussions that entail with participating in an unhealthy lifestyle. When you spiked my 12 oz. can
of Coca-Cola with an overabundance of whiskey that dark, snowy December night you left in an attempt to get me drunk with you, you screamed violently at Mom for pouring the entirety of your bottle of Jack Daniel’s down the kitchen sink drain. Mom wanted no more to do with your inebriated self and made a nonnegotiable ultimatum with you: “Seek help for your addiction or leave once and for all.” In drunken rage, you smashed the empty whiskey bottle on the hardwood tile floor and Mom escorted you to the door. That night I vowed never to take part in behavior that was detrimental to others’ and my well-being and safety. Your departure may have left Mom and me temporarily without a provider and placed us in financial jeopardy, but it forced Mom and me to become the people we never could have become if you still held an active part in our lives, and I thank you for that. With your exit rendering Mom and me without financial support, Mom enrolled in online classes at a nearby community college in order to pursue real estate full time and I was offered a job as a waiter busing tables at your favorite diner downtown, where you used to spend many mornings with a hangover. While employed in the kind, quaint establishment, I learned the importance of a good work ethic and experienced some of the rewards that result from being diligent. I once foolishly looked to you for guidance in the path I took in life and wanted to follow in your footsteps with my career. In kindergarten, Miss Fleming asked the class, including me, who we wanted to be when we grew up, and I stupidly answered, “my father’s assistant.” When I was old enough to understand your occupation, but still young enough to be susceptible to your bullshit, I wanted to become a commercial crab fisherman when I graduated high school. But when you abandoned Mom and me, I relinquished my stupid, immature aspirations to work with you at a crab fishery on the West Coast, and I began to pursue environmentalism by joining the Earth Club at my high school. While an active member of this group, I learned how I could help the environment prosper rather than worsen. Like I realized that farming seafood via unethical methods and helping local California ecologies were mutually exclusive, I also became aware of the fact that our relationship was equally incompatible. My grades improved significantly as a result of me surrounding myself with peers that saw the intellectual potential in me, instead of spending time with someone who constantly discouraged it. With 16
you, I was unhealthily comfortable with the disadvantageous state I was in, but without you I was shown the endless possibilities life could offer and challenged to become the man I never thought I could be. As a result of receiving exceptional grades, SAT scores, and actively engaging in extra- curricular activities at my high school, I was presented with numerous acceptance letters from renowned and respected universities all over the state. I am currently studying Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution at UCLA and I am in the happiest and most satisfied place I have ever been. I have learned a lot in my classes, but one easily-comprehensible piece of information I have been reminded of in almost all of my ecology courses and that I would like to communicate to you is this: the most harmful kind of pollution to ecosystems and environments is that which cannot be seen. In my former years when I called you “Father,” I was ignorant of the fact that I could still be surrounded by a poisonous substance, even though I could not perceive it. It was not until you left that I was able to see past the smog your polluted mind and tongue emitted into the atmosphere of our home. Thank you for turning your sight from me so that I could finally open my eyes. Sincerely, Jonathan P.S. Please do not write back, and for God’s sake, do not bother sending me a cliché “thank you” card for this letter either.
Green Bird with Bugs by Joe Mariscal (low fire ceramic, smoked terra sigilatta 6” x 18” x 3”)
Death of an Idea by Kaitlyn Cox
There I go in excess Or there goes my excess inwards No–my innards outward Sizzling into death like duds on 4th of July Kiss goodbye my creatives Synapse shut down Lights flicker off for the evening Can I trust myself to return for duty tomorrow? There goes my excess Paint splatter and ink stains I can’t hold on to a feeling too long Artistry means excess is essential Only when I let the excess die inside this chest, breathe it through my nostrils and hold till the idea suffocates does it become just that Extra Excess Existential Crisis Exo-Skeletal remains calloused and mummified around golden light that once called itself inspiration I try my best to fertilize ideas so they don’t decay inside A green thumb can be learned apparently There I go, head first in excess Ideas never die They quickly find a resting spot inside from which to eat raw pieces of you One pulsating fingertip at a time Vibrating to create Yet remain painfully still Frostbitten reminders that you have talent
Why Doves Cry by Aaron Chapman
I let a dove cry in the palm of my hand. Applied pressure and watched a pure spirit turn black as a rotten banana. Lifted my hand and the outcome was a cold raven. She held a cold raven in her hand. Warmed its spirit and watched it turn white like pouring bleach on a tan carpet. Opened her hands and a dove spread its wings. They say Eve bit the apple first. Maybe Adam accidentally sent Eve his location. She saw him examine it and figured she would test it for him. Then the world turned upside down. I don’t want to be a player no more and all she wants to do is play and go pro. Eve may have been the first woman scorned, banned from Eden just from curiosity. Curiosity killed the cat. Who came up with that? Maybe a man watching a woman go seemingly crazy while protecting her man? And all he did was watch, never lending a hand. Forgetting she is his rib! All this man knew was conquest, roam and gain Rome, and she is just left to ponder who’s coming home. Is it King Misogyny or the man that loves her with the strength to move mountains? Very rarely is he that man she fell in love with; more than likely it’s King Misogyny. He needs a concubine to fulfill his fantasy. You could never have enough good pussy! Aint no pussy like new pussy! So I put her on the back burner. Stirring occasionally to keep from burning. Trying new dishes not realizing she’s boiling over. Sensitive and needs attention like milk butter and cheese over a hot eye. Lord, how could I! When I was tryna put my noodle in her alfredo. The best dishes are the perfect marriage. Supposed to have skillz in the kitchen. Every man should at least know one dish. Ain’t found mine, too busy scorchin’ the pot. 19
My game look good but I ain’t makin’ the shot. I should be Houdini the way I turn doves into crows. I don’t want to be a player no mo’; honestly I’m not a player I just crush a lot. That might be the issue; I ain’t loved a lot. Instead of listening when the dove cried, I just muted the sound. It’s probably a beautiful song as the rain turns purple. Next time I’ll plug my headphones in and play you on repeat..... I let a dove cry in the palm of my hand.
Peace by Farima Qolami
Burning by Vanessa Maldonado-Soto Trickling desire Forms embers over her body, Creating warm flame. With her fire stoked, Her lover watches her burnâ€“ Hot, harshly breathing. Warmth becomes passion, Watering growing embers Into transformed smoke. Wisps of her start To pile onto the bed Waiting for ashes To become of her. In diminishing Embers, collapsed, She is beside him, The lover who watched her burn, Flicker, then go out. In fallen ashes, She sleeps in charcoal With left over smoke, Consuming all him She had grown to love, fond of The passion now goneâ€“ Now un-stoked, and withered. 21
Pirata by Joe Mariscal (low fire ceramic, smoked terra sigilatta, 13” x 12” x 15”)
A New Job in Winter
by Taylor Hornbeak Morning comes bleak, Blowing in through the screen Now so pathetically torn Behind our cold window which cannot close, and blue peaks slowly through the partial tear like the iris of some great eye, knowing that we are each there, just taking the time to study you and I. This is Tuesday. Only Tuesday, we have one week. A dream to seek: Apologies descend from the rafters – Shambling on down the wooden steps Of some dusty mind, retaining Regret and folly unshaken, and whispering …it is not true… yet worry filches its way through cracks in the planks, carried upon the backs of minivans sedans and semi-trucks which bustle up and down the ave outside with thanks for the luck, without any pride.
This is Monday. Only Monday. We have one week to go.
One tear-stained cheek. Salty water Drips over listless lips, 23
I have to say â€“ (I need to say) â€“ one helping hand is slapped away, leaving warnings that are like warriors into sacred slaughter with full and fiery souls; forging from fire our unsung goals.
On Thursday we must go. On Thursday we have surely gone. Long gone and very much on past the bleak.
by Natalie Watkins in collaboration with Levonte Crosby
Your Smirk Pays Homage by Sam Hatch
Your smirk pays homage To my absurdity. What can I do? I doff my tin foil hat To honor your insight. After all I am not Quixote. I lack the Donâ€™s epic innocence. I know a windmill When I see one. Still I wish the cosmic boy Had not cursed me with an ego, Tying that rattling can To the tail of my hapless dogsbody, Driving me through squalid alleys And shabby backstreets For the amusement of loafers. Well, I must be thankful For small mercies. The boy did not douse My tail in kerosene And flick a match. Better for this old dogsbody To live with annoyance than agony.
I must admit that noisy can Keeps me from sleeping too much In the cool under some smelly, abandoned house, Keeps me alert and running. Sometimes I just know the greasy twine Is fraying and some day The can will simply bounce away behind me, Land in some rubbish heap, And leave me running free with my tin foil hat, As if by magic, sprouting wings.
Burning Anger, Cooling Anger by Dominique Diaz
My eyes burn with the flame from my soul. The red shows in my eyes. My fire burns deep within. It shoots out my mouth. Burning all ties I ever had, With no feeling as everything burns. I guess I just donâ€™t care. A tear runs down my face. In that one tear all the feelings are released. The fire is cooled by sadness, Cooled by the tear that ruins the anger. Why do I care so much, To let the tears ruin the anger? I guess I care too much.
Dreamerâ€™s Sunset by Briawna Freeman 26
Let’s Kill Them UNDESIRABLES
by Patricia A. Smith In 1619, the first African slaves brought to the American shores were Black skinned people some as black as tar. Me too, I am like them. Well—I ain’t as black as coal, but I’m dark skinned. I’m like the midnight sands of the Kalahari or the fine dust granules resting on the volcanic seabed at Madagascar. Is my skin hue kin to? In other words, I’m nothing but disintegrated prehistoric fossils. Today—another police killing happened in Charlotte, North Carolina; a black tar man killed by a pale pink face—again. In 2016 America, Blacks, moreso men than women, are selectively breeding honey-brown babies at an alarming initiation—lighter the progeny better the chance to survive the bullet’s color palette. Walnut and Cocoa blends Caramel-gold even creamy vanillas, generally, blind the eye of the gun’s stream-lined barrel 27
I ain’t shedding my crystal Black skin for nobody! I like my Black Skin, I like my qualified Blackness, I like every inch of Me. I like the way my teeth glow in the dark, I ain’t swapping-in my SootBlack egotism for nobody! Pale skinned Pinks White smiles Black hearts Yet, Still—After 400 years of physical and psychological rapes, Finally, the black brutes bow to that Americanized Eugenics theory; rid the undesirables, by any means necessary. All because they startle easily, we—being like the Lion’s Roar. However.... Genetically though? Oh well! For whoever answers that call. That’s your right. But—for me.... Ain’t nobody gonna bleach My Silvery Black Voice! I like Me. I like the way the white of my eyeballs shine truth against all dark odds, I like myself. I ain’t no UNDESIRABLE I AM simply a vigorous Black Soul fighting against spiritual wickedness—Not against that which is natural that’s all. That’s all. 28
by Sofia Resendiz My footsteps echoed off the marble floor as I made my way through the care facility. I glanced at my watch and pressed the button to display the date. Twelfth of October, the year two-thousand-onehundred and sixteen. It was my nineteenth birthday, but I had no chance of getting the day off. I was due in class in about two hours. I looked out the window at the flawless day waiting outside, then thought about the dark lecture hall and my heart sank. What a shame to waste such a gorgeous day. First on my list of many errands was visiting my grandmother. I reached the front desk and smiled politely at the girl in the nurse’s uniform.
“Addison Montgomery. Here to see Commander Rose Montgomery. I’m her granddaughter,” I said, flashing my Identification Card.
She looked something up on the computer, then nodded.
“Have a seat. The doctor will be out to speak with you shortly.” After a plane crash took my parents when I was seven, my grandmother was pretty much all I had left. She retired from the navy and stepped up to raise me on her own. I felt awful that I hadn’t visited much in the last year, but college had consumed the majority of my life. I was just thinking I should make more of an effort to come by on the weekends when a doctor walked into the waiting area. She was young and tall with long, red hair and she was donning a white lab coat. “Are you the next of kin for,” she glanced at the tablet screen she was holding, “Rose Montgomery?” “Yes.”
The New World Order Blues, #14 (ink on paper) by Allen Forest
“Well, I’m sure you already know your grandmother is unresponsive to the longevity pills.” There was a time, long ago, when people would succumb to illness and disease, even as children. But then the Longevity Pills came along. People could take this pill once a day and it would keep them young and healthy for decades upon decades. It doesn’t work on everyone, though. Every now and then, a patient is unresponsive, doomed to age as nature intended like people did in the old days.
“Yes, I know,” I replied.
“Some patients who are unresponsive don’t have any immediate threats to their health, so they still have some time left,” the doctor explained. “In your grandmother’s case, however, I’m afraid there is an immediate issue. It’s called cancer.” I remembered learning about the disease in history lessons at school.
“Like people used to get in the old days?”
“Yes. And it’s a very aggressive one that has spread through her blood cells. This is the reason we called you. Your grandmother refused to do the regular screenings, and I’m afraid we’ve caught it in its late stages.”
It was like all the warmth had been sucked out of the room.
“You mean she’s dying? She’s only sixty-seven! People are living into their two-hundreds now!” “People who respond to the pills do.” The doctor looked at me with sullen eyes. “She has a month left, at most. I’m sorry.”
I swallowed through the lump in my throat.
“There’s something else,” she added. “I’m sure you already
know this, but I must remind you. Unresponsiveness to the longevity pills is genetic. One-hundred percent inheritance rate.”
“The pills won’t work on me, either.”
“Correct. Do you have any questions?”
“Can I see her?”
She nodded. “Follow me.”
I followed the doctor through a brightly lit hallway until we reached room 212. I walked in and saw a small, feeble figure lying on the bed, wrapped in a wool blanket.
“Grandma?” I asked. She didn’t answer.
“She may have some trouble hearing you,” the doctor said.
I approached the bed and spoke louder. “Grandma?”
When she turned and faced me, I almost didn’t recognize her. It was like she had aged ten years in one. The distinctive green color of her eyes, however, confirmed that it was her.
“Addie,” she said weakly.
“How are you feeling?” A stupid question, but it was all I could think to ask.
“I feel about as good as I look,” she replied.
“I’ll leave you two alone,” the doctor said softly, closing the door. I dragged a chair over to the bed and sat.
“What are you doing here?” my grandmother asked.
“I just wanted to see how you were doing. Has the facility been 32
Paris, France, 1980 by Mark Wyatt
taking good care of you?” foot.”
“Oh, yes,” she replied, bitterly. “I’m getting waited on hand and
I smiled. This was somebody so independent, she used to scoff if somebody so much as held a door open for her. Do I look so delicate that I can’t lift a three-inch thin wooden door?
“That must drive you nuts,” I said.
“There’s nothing to do here, Addie.”
“Oh, it can’t be that bad. On my way in, I saw a game room full of stuff to do. They have TVs and computers–” “That’s what I’m supposed to do with my time now? Play games? Do you know how much I used to get done in a day?” “That was then,” I said. “But this is now. You’ve done your duty for your country. Now, you get to relax. I know it’s hard–” “No, you don’t,” she said, sharply. “You don’t know. But someday, you will. Did they tell you the pills won’t work on you either?”
“I would do anything, Addie. Anything to keep you from lying in this bed one day. Slowly losing what makes you you. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.”
“But, you’re still you.”
“Am I? Needing everybody’s help for every little thing. Watching from this bed as each day passes me by, one after the other after the other. Is that me now? If it is, I wish I would have died on the frontlines when I was your age.”
I shook my head, about to object but she cut me off.
“Don’t tell me not to talk like that because it’s the truth. Those who die young are the lucky ones. They don’t wither away.” “But–” “I’m withering away,” she cut me off. “I’m disappearing. In this new era where people are living well into their hundreds, I’m dying at sixty-five. It isn’t fair and it doesn’t make sense, but it’s happening. And all I keep thinking is, what am I leaving behind after I go? And you know what the answer is?”
She reached over and put an icy hand on my cheek.
“It’s you,” she said. “You are what I’m leaving behind. You’re my legacy. Make it count. Make the most of every second you have on this earth and get as much done as you can, before your clock runs out.” She took back her hand and faced the wall again. Conversation over. Suddenly, the door opened and a nurse came in. “Rose, would you like to sit in the quad for a while?” she asked, her cheerful tone cutting through the quiet room. “It’s a gorgeous day outside.” Suddenly, she looked at me, concerned. “Sweetheart, are you alright?” I didn’t understand the concern, until I caught sight of my reflection in a mirror hanging on the wall. Tears were streaming down my cheeks. “I’m fine,” I replied, mopping my face with my sleeve. My voice came out strangled and unrecognizable. “I’m too tired to go outside right now,” my grandmother waved the nurse away. “Check back later.”
The nurse nodded before turning back and shutting the door.
For as long as I could remember, my grandmother had been solid as a rock. Unshakable. But now, it sounded like she was giving up. Then it hit me. As I looked at her laying there, grey and bone-thin, I realized I was looking at my future. …
I wish I would have died on the frontlines when I was your
As I walked out of the care center, I couldn’t get what my grandmother said out of my head. I had known, of course, that one day I would die. Death is an inevitability for everyone. But now I had stared my future in the face. Dying had been put into words. Slowly losing what makes you you. Nothing could be worse than that. That wasn’t the only thing ailing me, either. I had always thought I had decades ahead of me, but what if I was wrong? I was resistant. There was no magic pill that could keep me indestructible. I could wake up tomorrow and find a lump in the back of my neck. What then? Suddenly, I felt dizzy. The hallway I was walking down began to spin. When I had woken up that morning, I was looking towards the future with excitement. I found the idea of not knowing what the future held to be thrilling. Now, not knowing what the future held made me sick to my stomach with fear. The future became dark and filled with monsters hiding in every corner, just waiting to take me out. The overwhelming feeling of dread stopped me in my tracks. I realized then that I had been circling the same floor of the care center over and over again. It was eighty degrees outside, but my arms were covered in goosebumps. My eyes fell onto a sign on the wall, hanging above a door. ROOFTOP ENTRANCE. I glanced quickly to my left, then to my right, just to make sure I wasn’t being watched by any doctors or nurses. After making sure the hall was clear, I sprinted through the automatic door.
I climbed the flight after flight of stairs until I reached the roof. It was deserted, apart from a flock of birds perched on the edge. I walked over and looked down. Cars were speeding down the expressway below. It would be so easy, I thought. One move and there would be no more worrying about dying like my grandmother. I could go now, on my own terms. I wish I would have died on the frontlines
when I was your age.
I put one foot on the ledge, then the other, glancing upwards for one final look at the sky. Shutting my eyes, I took one last breath, filling my lungs to full capacity. I wish I would have died on the frontlines when I was your age. I clenched my fists and jumped.
Contemporary Fine Mingei Yunomi by Shiloh Gastello, (cone 6, electric-fired, porcelain, slab-built, hand-pinched, satin-matte glazed, 4.5” x 3.25” x 4”)
Nothing Without Roots by Sarinna Lopez A Red Oak lays the foundation for years to come He is rooted deep down into Mother Earth His leaves provide for young buds in the sun His branches offer opportunity not promised at birth The Red Oak is gentle and patient in ways He nurtures in nature and matures his seeds He offers detailed care throughout the days In hopes that they may soon follow his lead When the time has come to release the ready Some will linger while others will float away Carried by the wind slow and steady Each little seed going its own particular way Only the Red Oak remains tenaciously tall And stands his ground for those early fallen
Sunflower by Kassy Menke
Notes to You by Vanessa Maldonado-Soto
He writes notes to you Every single day, but this One stands out the most. With shaky fingers, You pull the large note off Your silver locker. The paper is thin, But it carries shivering Dread down your shoulders. Taking a deep breath, You re-read the black paper Hoping it’s not true. Fearlessly, it read:
The lights are turned off, But you’re still awake. I see you waiting Beside your window, Black hair loose and curly, free. Like a river stream, Your layers cascade Past your shoulder blades, further Down, down your breast. I saw you sneak out, But I won’t tell anyone If you let me in. I hope you read this, I have always been watching You, my only love. You do not know me, But I do know all of you. You can know all me, too. -Sincerely yours. 39
Toppling Mushroom by James Shoemaker
When You Are Falling Asleep at the Wheel by Lauren Boisvert
The sky is white with heat and breath
I drive with eyes half closed against glare
lashes clenched as fists or clams. I put on my best black dress and wonder
â€œwhere will I have my funeral?â€?
I would like my heart to be buried in Iowa City
and my hands to be buried in my heart.
What is it to be heat and breath and moon in the day time?
When you are falling asleep at the wheel
and you have things to do today and now is not the time to die.
I would like my head to be buried in a hollow tree
and my poems to be buried with it.
April 26, 2016 by Lyn Lifshin
goslings already losing their yellow after less than a week. The earliest Iâ€™ve seen. Just one week ago the mother goose seemed restless. Now 3 goslings as the sky goes from cobalt to slate
rigor mortis by Christopher S. Lilley
the morning after i killed myself filled a glass with the river styx and emptied it into my stomach i awoke with death in my bones and a chill in my breath the morning after I killed myself shuffled off this mortal coil and grew accustomed to biting dust i became a phantom a spectre, a haunted house. i awoke with the weight of skeletons on my breath my tongue tasted of dried marrow the morning after i killed myself i had planned to simply rest in peace lay down my head and sleep but instead, the sunrise was dawn of the dead my skin possessed my eyes vacant my hands hollow my voice buried 43
the morning after I killed myself I buried my voice held a funeral for my joy made eulogy of my limbs with no thought as to why they still moved the morning after I killed myself i was not â€˜betterâ€™ i was not happy it was not as if I saw miracle in my misery or meaning in melancholy and yet, with all of my death gathered on the tip of my lips i still woke up vacant as my eyes were, they could still see hollow as my hands were, they still held buried as my voice was, it still sang empty as my life was, i still lived i still lived i still loved i still was loved the morning after i killed my self my muscles remembered the old me remembered the one buried in the casket sacrificed to Hades himself what they didnâ€™t know was that for things to become new old things must die. 44
InbyThe Dark Peter Hawley I am the one enveloped inside the darkness. I had traveled towards the fire, and the fire came. I had escaped the longest sight from humanity. I had seen the most depressing town road. I had encountered one victim on his journey. But avoided his face, unable to frighten. I had fought silently and ended the noises made by men. I had torched their homes and eaten their cattle. I had ripped apart their children as payment for their cruelty. I had done all of this under the guise of the night. But on my travels came startled screams Coming from homes in several towns. It did not help me change or turn away. And farther standing at a monstrous size, Was my own self refelcting off a shallow pond Explaining that our fates are never true or false. I am the one enveloped inside the darkness. 45
Gunslingers by James Weaver
As soon as issues arise, it becomes high noon, and we become gunslingers in the middle of a duel taking ten paces each step dragging away from the other walking toward a better life as if each step could be erasers when all we really want is for ten to be announced and see who could fire an apology faster.
Istanbul, Turkey, 1980 by Mark Wyatt
The Child in Me by Patricia Mayorga
The park was filled with the excitement of children’s laughter while the gaiety of the day burst past each cattail lining the pond where ducks quietly directed ducklings to the shade of cool marsh beds. As swift as an acorn knocked about by a busy squirrel, loneliness wrapped itself tightly around my shoulders.
I’m not really sure when it happened but there is no doubt somewhere along the way, pieces of childhood shaved off me like melted ice from a cone of blue. Swinging as high as the bird of my imagination used to sail me to unreachable heights. Climbing towers of trunks so that I could perch upon a perfect seat made me queen of the oak. Aladdin’s magical corrugated carpet, its seams torn from boxed to flat, secured my ten years while sailing me over bumps of hilly green landing me in sand piles of a poor neighborhood park that I called mine. My knees miss the steady balance of a flamingo stance as I calculated the next hop within perfect squares of white drawn on cracked pavement. Twisted knots of white and red fade somewhere in arches swayed by the chants of girlfriends with untied oxfords counting my success. I never noticed becoming taller or when I traded dangling ribbons for butterfly barrettes; it just seemed to happen like the seasons that blend their presence into the 47
day while the other slips away. My dangles were swings suspended off braids of twisted metal made from a magnetic magic that drew my bottom to thick leather straps, a perfect fit. My thin limbs decorated with small scrapes marking my day took on a pilotâ€™s strength of lift that pulled and pushed me higher and higher to the thinness of clearer, fresher, safer air. And if I could just get a littler higher, then I could skip in the clouds while licking sugar drippings from edges that my tiny fingers brushed on the way back down. I loved my childhood house up in the fork of the Olympian oak that held me close in her warm hug. Tree creatures were not enemies to fear but were friends living in a private world high above where songs were sung to us by fairies rustling and straightening the house for company. Below, my carpet laid, the perfect size, taking me to granules of toe ticklers that often hid in my torn tennis shoes. Digging with sticks lent to me from the oak, I could hear the faint voices of little friends from China who were sending greetings from afar. I wonder where they grew to and if they lost their balance smudging chalk across forgotten pavement. The lonely dangling knot swings and my penny for hope forever lost from my shoe. I lay across spades of green pressing my ear to a tickle of yesterday while earth creatures welcome me home.
Samuel by Mahdi Akherati Samuel; Life was still flowing like the strip of blood coming out of your chest. Everyone was doing their jobs The postman was delivering letters The bullet was carving your chest The neighbor’s woman was milking her baby It was only you who did not want to die properly You did not want ... did not want! Like Uncle Jose, who did not take a look at his lungs’ photos, you struggled You were a good man who just said: “No ...” You did not open your fist so that the scream in between your fingers would not drop down You were a good man; Only your raging breath, like a bull, would scatter the dust ... You did not want ... did not want! Otherwise, life was still flowing, Samuel; In the gun-calling morning, you woke up, went out to the street and at night your empty place came back home; It sat down on a chair and said goodnight to your wife.
Contributors Gale Acuff has taught college-level English in several countries and has had poems published in many journals and in three of his own books. Anselmo J. Alliegro worked with some of the best artists at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and he gained a scholarship to Parsons School of Design in New York City. Mahdi Akherati was born in Mashdad, Iran (July 19th 1986). His BA is in Literature from Payam Noor University of Neyshabur. He has participated as the referee of poetry festivals in Iran. Also, he has 300 reviews that are written about contemporary and classic poetry. Lauren Boisvert is a poet from Orlando. She tweets @morgothbauglirs. Isabella Calabrese is a Theater and English student at San Joaquin Delta College. Aaron Chapman is a communications major that wants to tell his story to the world and gain an education about the world while doing it. Alexander Chellsen is a fiction writer, poet, and songwriter from California who currently attends the University of Idaho. Kaitlyn Cox Dominique Diaz: I write, go to school, and do theater. Not much to me. Michael Duffett was born in London, educated at Cambridge, and is now teaching English at SJDC. Briawna Freeman is finishing her first year in college and is happy to have the opportunity of being published.
Allen Forest is a graphic artist for covers and illustrations in literary publications and books, the winner of the Leslie Jacoby Honor for Art at San Jose State Universityâ€™s Reed Magazine, and whose Bel Red landscape paintings are part of the Bellevue College Foundationâ€™s permanent art collection. Shiloh Gastello Sam Hatch is a retired Delta College English professor, who is fascinated by the joy and challenge of writing. Peter Hawley is an English major that wants to write a great book or two. K Holden is a simple, disgruntled student. Taylor Hornbeak: Writer. Musician. Philosopher. Martin H. Levinson is a member of the Authors Guild, the National Book Critics Circle, a book reviewer for ETC: A Review of General Semantics, and the author of ten books and numerous articles and poems. Lyn Lifshin has published over 230 books, edited four anthologies and is the subject of the documentary Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. Christopher S. Lilley, a New York native, is a poet, writer, singer and multi- instrumentalist. Sarinna Lopez: A resilient, first generation, Cambodian-American who is determined to defy all odds. Vanessa Maldonado-Soto gets inspired staring outside of car windows, especially with soft music playing in the background. Joe Mariscal Deborah Maroulis works as a part-time teacher but is a full-time person. In
between classes, she writes what the voices tell her to. Eva Martinez Patricia Mayorga Kassy Menke is a graduate of SJDC and CSU Northridge. She loves acting, writing, and photography. Farima Qolami Sofia Resendiz James Shoemaker: A photography major–he doesn’t make shoes, but he does take photos. Patricia Smith, also known as Patrician, is a poet who just finished two years at SJDC and her first year at Las Positas College in Livermore, CA. James Weaver has been published in journals throughout the central valley including Penumbra, Collision IV, and Susurrus. He is currently working on his first book. Natalie Watkins’s work can be found on Instagram @natilism. Mark Wyatt has been photographing people wherever he goes since around 1980. He posts his images regularly on mwwyatt.wordpress.com.
Get Published in Poets’ Espresso Review Patricia Ann Mayorga invites submissions to Poets’ Espresso Review to be mailed to Patricia Mayorga at 1474 Pelem Ct., Stockton, CA 95203 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Free submissions can include poetry, artwork, and photography. All materia must be appropriate for most age groups. A two to four line biography is required. Please include a photograph if possible, a return address, phone number and email address.
The Astronomer by Anselmo J. Alliegro
San Joaquin Delta College Get Published in Artifact Nouveau Artifact Nouveau is a magazine of works by students, faculty, alumni, and employees of San Joaquin Delta College published by the SJDC Writers’ Guild. Works by writers and artists unaffiliated with Delta College may be selected for publication for up to 40% of the overall content. We accept literary and visual art submissions year round. All genres and mediums are welcome. Submit to email@example.com. Literary Submissions • Poem Length May Vary (limit 5 submissions) • Short Stories and Essays: Max 1500 Words (limit 2 submissions) Visual Submissions • Colored/Black and White • JPG Format at 300 DPI • limit 10 submissions
Guitar by Kassy Menke
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