Page 1

TREE. volume 1. issue 4.


Divisible by Two K Chico

2 I Know What It's Like Melissa Rocha 3

What's Practical Christopher Casuga

4 Petal Dreams L.A. Johnston

5 The Creature Wesley Golangco 8

Unfinished Poem Tanisha McClain

9 Upon Close Graduation Bright is the Brink of Sanity Dima Medvedko 10 Modern Marvel Rachel De Vera

11 There Is Magic In Your Arms Gina Vittore 11 Distance A Haiku for Ben Barnett LOLLERCOASTER Kathleen Crippen

See Guys I Really Am ... Colt Laney


Mama I wish Tanisha McClain


At My Own Rachel De Vera


I erased the first line

Either... Devon Batey



Contributor Collage 18

To Merced: Merced comes alive in the summer. At least, I've always felt that way. There's something about that daily see­saw­­that extreme, repeating, dry heat which balances against the pristinity of the night­­which calls in an examination of ourselves. The poet Jared Stanley once told his students, "Merced is the most interesting place you will ever live." I believe him. There is a critical point where the density of life interferes with our ability to appreciate it, and be appreciated. Merced is a town for writing, for elaboration, and for imagination. As the summer goes on, let our poetry grow and adapt. See within elaborations, between lines, and consider just as the weather comes most temperate. The summer will see two more issues of TREE, issues 5 and 6, mid­summer, and summer's end. I encourage any and all Merced artists to write, create, document, and scribble throughout the summer­­Submit to TREE. Your voice will be heard. Merced will change you. WRITE YOUR EXPERIENCE, ­W.B.St.C

Tree Branches.

Tree Branches are blogs, record labels, publications, web sites, musicians­­ anything culturally associated with Tree. Contact us if you would like to add your project! ­ poetry blog ­ poetry blog ­ record label ­ poetry blog ­ poetry blog


Editors William Benjamin St. Clair Jordan Cowman Graphic Design William Benjamin St. Clair Cover Design Ursula Vasquez TREE. Logo and CoBa Ad Melissa Eisner

Special Thanks. Justin Duckham Marcia St. Clair

Ara Casey Omar Chowaiki Frank Cowman Loretta Cash Denise Burkhardt Jason Liske Adam Trelatsky Mike Burton Eleni Valas

...and everyone else who backed TREE. on Kickstarter!

If you’d like to submit art, poems, ramblings, theses, photos, illegible scribbles, or handprint turkeys to the next issue of TREE, please email Jordan Cowman at

TREE. editors

Divisible by Two There is an entry in the diary That I kept on and off. From when I was 8. "Ariel is 16. I don't have to live anymore than that. I'm halfway done." When I was 16, I moved out of the family house, And walked the streets at night. But nobody killed me. Even though everybody said, That was the way to do it. But I was patient. Then you helped me save his life The winter I was 20. I didn't know they made men like you. Now I'm afraid of dying. Because everybody says That death doesn't have a buddy system. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong. Maybe you're dessert. But now I don't want To leave the table. K Chico


I Know What It's Like I know what it's like to have somone's heart on a string, although their hearts were so shrivelled that even in their best moments they could not love me with joy or dignity. One of these times I was reading Madam Bovary and a line from it cut right through me. "She resented the happiness she gave him." I've known people about whom I've wondered that if I didn't love them, could anyone, and still I walked away. I know whats it's like for someone to have my heart on a string, I have lost my will completely. I have been led tenderly down the primrose path to places where monsters hide. I have been devoured. Though I run from it all, though I look back on none of it kindly... it's been a really long time since then, years have slipped away in total silence. I start to wonder these days is that all there is? Could anyone ever accept me? Is it for everyone's benefit that I do my best to be a good mother, daughter, sister, friend and not take any more temporary excursions from my straight path from cradle to grave? I have been sitting beside somone many many times where music played with each word they said, where a poetic narrative was constantly running ,unexpressed , of their utter perfection and then suddenly the music is gone and I realize that everything I love about this person is all in my head. If that is all there is then I am disappointed in myself for suffering the way I have. If that is all there is then it is a good thing that I'll never have another chance... but if anyone asks me as my years alone grow longer and my life grows shorter at least I can say I know what it's like. Melissa Rocha


What's Practical Verse as but verse is a sticky situation Standing there, naked as birth and proud as an American His dong just flapping in the wind, It's just not practical to me. I can't acclimate my words to the weather Without a warm coat of musical pitch Or the fictive map to a destination But that's just me. I'm not comfortable in my own clothes anyway Squirming and writhing like a half足formed worm Escaping a cocoon Shouting like "I CAN'T DO IT! I CAN'T BECOME A BUTTERFLY" But yes you can. The failure to succeed is still success If failure is but only the act of inactivity And so many I know walk nude and free without care, without excuses, without a backing band Maybe some day I will go solo, and free, and nude, not giving a care or cares But for now, i'm putting on clothes. That's more practical. Christopher Casuga


Petal Dreams You speak of your past How each one plucked Picked, pulled, peeled Petal after petal And not tenderly placed them around Did not press them Dry them Save them for later Or put them away for safe keeping. But your petals I peel and peek And layer after layer Discover the uncovered territory That exposes Explains You and yours. And I place I Press I Tenderly Place your petals between glass Mount each petal Save each petal Place each petal under my pillow

With hopes of petal dreams. And with each pluck That pinches at those private places I provide a sense of security Secure a trust Establish my honest to goodness trust In you and yours And allow you to peel And peek into My sealed places That I have saved for your keeping. L.A. Johnston


The Creature The Man had eaten so much that day; so, so much it was impossible to tell how much exactly. But in his hazy memory he recollected his thoughts; several beer can chickens, a dozen juicy spicy hot links and an entire vegetable platter that had been laid out to form the words "Suck My Balls" He attempted to stand and steadied himself on the couch. It was night and the house was clean; not a scrap of food to be seen, a house so impossibly and impeccably clean for such a creature. And so he walked, he lumbered over to the Denny's across the street where he kicked the door open and broke it, got his foot stuck in the glass and bled all over the floor until he finally untangled himself and limped over to the counter. He slammed the counter and bellowed "THE GRANDEST SLAM POSSIBLE!" and The Manager immediately understood; while most would expect a wry smile or playful wink to occur between the two, there was nothing but a quiet and staunch understanding between the two of them; a special connection between The Manager of a local Denny's and The Man who broke the door of that Denny's. And so The Grandest Slam Possible was brought out onto the floor and The People stopped eating and fell quiet to witness the spectacle; one dozen fried eggs, two dozen sausage links, three dozen bacon strips and four dozen buttery pancakes, all on an extravagant silver platter. The Man tucked a napkin in his shirt, grabbed a fork and knife and ate like never before, scarfing down the meat and starch like it would never end and 5

wishing he could just live and breathe in a world of pancakes and sausage. He dropped the fork and mauled the food like a savage, swiping at it viciously like a lion and as he did so, The People's smiles dropped, the Manager backed away at the horror he brought into the world and everyone grew frightened as The Man grew in size before their very eyes. His skin stretched and his clothes ripped as he ballooned rapidly outwards, knocking over glasses and plates and chairs and tables and decorative plastic plants. The Man kept eating and eating as The People fled, the restaurant resonating with the sound of his fat fingers clawing frantically at the metal platter. The People didn't dare look back余 they just ran hysterically into the night, like a banshee of death and disease had been unleashed upon them. The Man finished his meal and sat for just a moment on the floor, drenched in sweat and grease before letting out a deep and contented sigh. And then he vanished in an instant, like his body had been stretched so thin and so expansively that it turned to dust and disappeared. The next day, the streets lay barren and empty, The People too scared to come out of their homes. The sun rose for nothing that day. Wesley Golangco



Unfinished Poem

I lay my restless head in my hands Before I let out that earth shattering primal scream. You look at me blankly and say That things are never quite as bad as they may seem I pour out my heart Unto a deaf and dumb ear And though the pain consumes me And it tears me apart I cant keep it from you. You that makes me nash and weep You that haunts my dreams You that once made me believe that true love actually existed. I am scorned and broken My wings will never fly I will sing no more From my dry and battered soul. My eyes dim, my sight becoming jaded I am no longer that free flying spirit that you once knew I am a shell of that which I once hoped to be I am never what I wanted to be I was always a step behind. Time will never truly exist in this hell I call reality I will search endlessly for the unattainable. I will walk in circles and pass through the footsteps Of the girl I used to be. I will paint pretty pictures when I want to paint of blood I will be dainty and sweet When I want to rip your eyes out. I will be the antithesis of everything you love I will be the true meaning of everything that matters I will lose myself only to be found by me as a stranger And all the while I’ll think of you I’ll whisper your name And hope that eternity wasn’t too far for me to run In order for you to catch me. Tanisha McClain


Upon Close Graduation Exhaustion, Sleepless nights A struggle See the light but no avail A posture Sitting down Hunched over Hitting keys Receiving grades Believing That ahead Are restful Peaceful days Of happy rest I struggle Sleepless nights Exhaustion Hitting keys Receiving grades Dima Medvedko


Bright is the Brink of Sanity Bright is the brink of sanity, A soft abyss of cotton. Warm is the sea of vanity, A worthwhile life forgotten. A plunge into sweet oblivion, Embracing all that's worthless. Distractions flock by the millions, Diverge a life from purpose. Dim is the path of duty, A journey never ending. Hidden are virtues and beauty, Success is always pending. Oblivious sweetness of vanity, Deceptively pleasant yet caustic. A playful murder of sanity, An idiot turned an agnostic. I seek the end of my duty, Paid for in quiet and suffering. Searching for truth and true beauty, With my soul as an offering. Dima Medvedko

Modern Marvel

You can’t do this to me. Can’t

carve my curves into a marble goddess take the hammer and thrust down, all your might stored at the tip

crackling and shattering the months we’ve built me up

you praised me in the early times, kissed the marble that gave your lips freedom to a world of words that never dare leaked from your lips caressed my porcelain face in your palms, got lost and I’m tarnished

left me to weather the weather because I became too heavy for your shoulders yet, when the sun shines on me, you come back and dust me take the cloth of your old garb and melt the rust away speak to my deaf ears ­ about you, about me how I shine so bright in the sun

how I’m beautiful enough to sit on a kings’ throne how you made me and can shatter me

how I need to impossibly move my already hardened self to please you well, too late, I tipped over and was set free. Rachel De Vera


There Is Magic In Your Arms There is magic in your arms I’m convinced. (See the Circle of Astonishing Transmutation! See Impossible Feats!) I step in and they disappear mountains of pressure oceans of doubt tides of longing zooming rush of adulthood that pushes and pulls and grinds and cuts and drains and burns me through and through. But no just your heartbeat, your smell, your magical arms, your breath. poof! good as new. Gina Vittore


A Haiku for Ben Barnett

Why does six­hundred forty­five miles seem so far when driving in my car

Help a fangrrl out and make Kind of Like Spitting a thing again, pls.

LOLLERCOASTER How many shitty haikus can I write today ...proximately three. 11

Kathleen Crippen

See Guys I Really Am a Horrible Poet, were Katie Around I Wouldn't add S's to wor'ds and End Poems in a Random Names Just to Rhyme Crime rates must be on the rise if Main st. is littered with these guys, I hate to sound even remotely like a bigot, but as I put this pen to pad I promised to write it as I see it, and as you listen to my rhyme please try to keep in mind, that I of all men have no grounds to judge, YET If this group of MEN has made it to this side of the tracks he must have come into something that he usually lacks, I want no trouble tonight, we didn't come out here for a fight, but my temper tends to run hot, and insulting a young lady is a lesson I never forgot,

Lately I have had this allergic reaction to almost everybody's action, I am tired of careless speech, but I don't know how to teach and like a child I lash out, What the hell is funny about a lady standing in front of a dumpster? I cannot stand the constant callousness to human plight, nobody even bothers to hide it from plain fucking sight, It started with a hatred, not for you but for me,

When I lifted the veil of my numb, my manic facade started to come undone, I started seeking to train my mind as my thoughts fired ablaze, keeping my mind shrouded in haze, The more I silenced the thirst listening past whatever came first I started to understand the hate, As I clawed for an escape from this state I hoped it would dissipate, but as it only became readily apparent I had to wonder if evil in humans is inherent, When you look around it's everywhere, not just in you and not just in me, Every expression of faith or American dream contains a grain of mockery, some stab at what has to be right.

Now the company I once craved was a thing that left me confused, all of my friend's are good people, they would do anything for anyone for nothing and never again bring it up, so why tell me why do I now leave the exchange wanting to demand that they change?


In a heated meeting of views she said that I cared to much yet empathized so little, I only nodded but where I offered no words, I withheld every budding possible point of view,

but along with my sobriety came a search for some source of piety余 since I now try to abstain from frivolous speech and none of the rhetorical avenues carried any weight I knew she was not the source of my hate but the accusation stuck and for 24 hours I struggled. In a socially charged atmosphere I tried to relate and out came the hate, filled with disgust I needed to get out of here, now once again nothing is clear,

Floating down a river, no metaphor here, quite literally falling behind on the merced river, unwilling to paddle with the rest of my troop, because this day has no place for me in the group,

Mexican beer, distant joyous cheers, and broken phrases my twisted anxiety can turn into jeers, these were my opponents, my thoughts were our weapons, but back to the point, somewhere between longing for a joint and wandering off, I realized how my empathy muscle had accrued it's atrophy余 to empathize takes more than knowing your fellow souls size, one must relate and in this incarnations hand lies a failure to understand, I see the answers to your problems, yet what appears to me as gargantuan Golems is quickly answered with laughter by you, try harder or just do what everyone else does,

BUT I CANT AND I WONT!!!! and understand each other we don't, but I swear to god I love you all, and I will ALWAYS pick you up should you fall, this isn't a breakup we will still share our Saturday night highs

But there are definitely some problems, and I needs to solve thems, It really is me and not you but goddammit if it isn't killing me still, by the way how is your mother Matt Hill? Colt Laney


Mama I wish Mama I wish I could tell you it would be magically be okay. With the wave of a wand I would turn back time Make you spit up the word toxins poisoning your insides. With a flick of the wrist, help you unleash all the unshed tears All the self taught lies All the night terrors All daydreams gone awry All of your fears Vanquish all the side whisperers Defeat all your inner demons Kick the shit out of broken memories Mama I wish I could be stronger for you Able to bear the burden Build up walls around And help you fly away Put a glass box around my father, possibly Buy you your own personal island Where you can be you Where no enemies dare to tread Wish I could love you unconditionally in person Wish my heart didn’t break with the sight of your fading Wish that wishes and dreams and dreams came true. I wish… I wish… I wish…For you Tanisha McClain 14

I erased the first line I don't know how to feel

a river of small blocks flows around my body

no slip condition no slip condition small blocks flow around my body

black cubes axes blue tumbling through dark space in liquid


turbulence forms shapes and unbeknownst familiarity springs gushing springs over my unfamiliar unfamiliar unfamiliar life

splashes cool against my eyelids protected behind glass behind glass I rest protected eyelids sleep sleep

At My Own I am an empty sardine tin, you are the whole.

We used to be filled with salt, our bodies too much for the world

but now the time has passed and the inches of my mind swim away from us You are moist for me, but I am dry.

I want to drink from you again and be lost in the sea

but I walk on dry land with the hot sun taking me away from you

We would sweat under the cold stars and wrap around like starfish your grip is tight, but mine is loosening like a washed knot My eyes used to see new color when you’d appear

now your colors have faded with the beating of trends leaving you outdated. Too vintage for my tongue.

My eyes bored and wanting to see the colors of pure sun. We have burned and charred scars on each other.

I fear that I have left too many red lines across your untouched skin.

It was only touched by my fingers, us so soft. Silk from Chinese caterpillars pulled to their death. I pulled and pulled and pulled till I wanted no more of you

when is it me who has not pulled on my own fibers of newness and only dip you in fire making you burn just at the tip of my fingers instead of

turning my hand around and pointing my finger at my own Rachel De Vera 16

Either According to my calculations Or We all buy the farm Once i removed the brain I knew i was on to something Innovative, Feeling it throb and extinguish It was all so simple suddenly, I could see life rush back Like a chicklet Responding to decapitation,

The body can’t help but twitch Any more than i, a harvard man Studied in fields Of math, the world and clitoris Hypothesized i could keep this Inside a jar forever inside Some fairy tale, Yet failed to carry the ten, Instead i burned the body Hygienically and resumed my Cunnilingus, My neuroimaged futurescape, And then i tagged the toe Here she lies, love of my life Number eighteen Of the headless clutch. 17

Devon Batey

From left to right, top to bottom:

Ben St. Clair, Devon Batey, Melissa Rocha, Christopher Casuga, Tanisha McClain, K Chico, Kat Crippen, Wesley Golangco, Rachel De Vera, Dima Medvedko, Gina Vittore, Colt Laney.

Thank You!


TREE Issue 4  

Poetry from Merced, CA. TREE is fueled through a monthly night of poetry at Coffee Bandits. It emerged spontaneously, is community funded, a...

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