Write On, Downtown A Journal of Student and Community Writing at the Downtown Phoenix Campus Issue 11
April 2017 Faculty Editor
Rosemarie Dombrowski Hayden Blue Ronnie Caswell Anna Flores Chandler Jensen Ryan Krebs Lorissa Sapien Kellen Shover Rosalyn “Ros” Van Amburg
Visit our companion journal at writeon.asu.edu.
Deanna Johnson Mullican Ryan Krebs
Ronnie Caswell Audrey Chery Christen Cioffi Anna Flores Autumn Hintze Ryan Krebs Kristi McLaughlin Carlos Monge Joseph Pentycofe chanelle sinclair Rosalyn “Ros” Van Amburg Jennifer Vargas
Issue #11: Building Bridges, Collapsing Boundaries In this, the eleventh annual issue of Write On, Downtown (WOD), we are proud to debut a broader range of voices, perspectives, and styles, all of which are essential to the (re) birthing of our city as an intercultural, intergenerational, collegial, and communal space of acknowledgment and collaboration. For the past ten years, WOD has proudly showcased the creative and investigative work of undergraduates at ASU. However, an ever-polarizing socio-economic and political climate spurred this yearâ€™s editorial team to seek out individuals who are doggedly redefining Phoenix with both pen and voice, both within the walls of the university and without. Thus, this issue contains profiles of community members, writing by community members, writing from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute students (which has ASU-affiliated locations across the valley), as well as ASU Online students and, of course, Downtown Phoenix campus undergraduates. WOD wants to be the university journal that breaks the mold, and weâ€™re committed to collapsing old paradigms and arbitrary boundaries in the process. If any publication is striving to build bridges between university and community, or represent the partnership between those who are involved with higher education and those who make up the fabric of the city in which we reside, then Write On, Downtown is that journal.
photo by Carlos Monge
In solidarity, The Write On, Downtown editorial staff, 2017
Acknowledgements The Write On, Downtown (WOD) editorial staff would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Barbara Lafford, Faculty Head of Languages and Cultures, for her ongoing support of our endeavors. We’d also like to give special thanks to Mary Ehret for her continued support of both our publication and our celebratory launch luncheon. We’d also like to express our unrelenting gratitude to Deanna Johnson Mullican, the graphic designer for College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, for her partnership with WOD as well as her continued dedication to its promotion and evolution. Most importantly, we’d like to thank all of the writers and photographers who contributed their work — undergraduates, online students, adult learners, editorial interns, and established writers within our Phoenix community. Your talent and vision is an inspiration to us, the Downtown Phoenix campus, and the community at large.
photo by Kristi McLaughlin
We refuse to accept the death of print or the literary arts, and we hope that our efforts will convince you of its continued (and even increasing) value in the 21st century.
Contents War Time: Black and Disabled Rashaad Thomas
I cannot read a book no matter how hard I look
Make Orwellian Dystopia Science Fiction Again
Cocks, Pigs, & Fish
Long Day’s Journey
Perfection in Three
Casualties of War
Solutions for America’s Organ Shortage
The Large and the Small
Phoenix Don’t Love Me
Phoenix Don’t Love You
Phoenix Don’t Love Us No
Autumn Hintze Cassandra Laubach Shawnte Orion Megan Atencia
John Chakravarty Dorothy DiRienzi Desiree Pharias Derik Roof Jonathan Robbins Kelly Luong
John R. Valles
Gutta’ Collective Marco Piña
No Comfort, No Sleep
Bike Rides Home #2
Underreporting Sexual Assault on College Campuses
Predators and Prey
Pages Per Content, an Anti-Fascist Phoenix Zine
Mixed Up Grammar Lesson with the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
I have heard the earth sing longer than the song
Diary Entries of a Fifth-Grade Girl
Indigenous: The Forgotten War for a Seat at the Table
Watch/The First Will
Lorca Floats Over Granada At Night
Damned to Heaven
About the Artists and Editors
Kelsey Pinkney Sarah Hodges
Laura De Blank Anna Flores
Dorothy DiRienzi Eli Burk
Sophie Blaylock Reem Alsharbaji Hayden Blue
Autumn Hintze Ronald Miller Ryan Krebs
photo by Ryan Krebs
War Time: Black and Disabled Rashaad Thomas
Perhaps the primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state of which most men necessarily avoid: the state of being alone. – James Baldwin, The Creative Process
photo by Carlos Monge
Mornings are the heaviest period of the day to be alone. After last night’s war, everything has been appropriated—including a nose bleed with my dreams. Frequently throughout the night, I retreat to the margins from stage 3 of sleep and tend to my wounds by writing. I wake up one last time when the sun is slowly opening the blinds. The bedding and my skin are pressing all their weight on me. I don’t want to get out of bed. The sun offers me enough strength to push my opponents away and sit up. Then, I place my feet on the floor, push my body up, and begin my morning ritual peeing then making a fresh cup of coffee. I grab and look down into my coffee cup to make sure it’s clean. I realize then I’m approaching the frontlines of another war. Sounds of coffee swash back and forth; my brain pounds against my ears. Caffeine and anxiety make my Black body intolerable. I’m imprisoned by my skin.
War Time: Black and Disabled Morning Coffee a dead body floats in a vacant morning cup, face up, no milk, no cream, Black nose and lips skim the surface with the sun, ripples tip-toe to the edge. I lift the coffin and bow coffee towards my teeth death casts my tongue, slowly across. A face appears. It’s me! I can feel a fire ant’s brigade marching in combat boots digging into my skin. No one understands why I’m scratching. I’m trying to scratch the Black off. I pick-up my phone to call in a second line of defense from my contact list. Instead, Facebook is open and nausea twists my stomach like a wet rag and wrings my anxiety out after reading the comment sections of articles about America’s protests for justice. Black people protest police brutality. Brown people march against the kidnapping and the displacement of undocumented immigrants. Indigenous people form a human wall against the black snake threatening to desecrate their land and water. Women are in formation in the nation’s streets demanding men keep their hands off their vaginas. The protests are symbols of Black resistance against America’s hate, against the colorline, and against the white-Black binary. America was built on the backs of Black people and in the image of whiteness; its infrastructure produced through anti-Black racism. I’m resistance and I want to contribute to the fight for liberation. But my brain operates in a different register. I’m unable to stand in crowded spaces so I stay home and fight several wars, alone. The only army I have is my words. I want to fight with my comrades in the streets, but I know they don’t want me by their sides during battle. They say they cannot trust mentally ill people in war time. My comrades are unaware I’m a person with a mental illness, too. Eight months ago, I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder. My identity with fear became salient. Before my diagnosis, I lived in America as a Black formerly homeless veteran, a husband of a Mexican woman, and a stay-at-home father of an Afro-Latinx daughter. Now, I fight another war against ableism. White people claim my mental illness is the catalyst of my paranoia and hypersensitivity to racism. I’m shamed into silence about my mental illness because I don’t want to hand racists and so-called allies ammunition to further discredit my humanity. I also don’t want my Black community to fear me and call me, “crazy,” because my brain operates differently. Basic training, from childhood to 10
War Time: Black and Disabled adulthood, taught me never to leave a comrade behind. They didn’t train what to do when you’re the comrade left behind, at least not because of my Bipolar Disorder. But, in the face of ableism, I realize I’m a witness with a story. I’m the result of America’s war against Black bodies and my story is a weapon to fight for justice. My dope dealer—otherwise known a United States Veteran Affair’s psychiatrist—is a white woman. She doesn’t understand the implication of the quilt of American citizenship that threads race, healthcare, and racism into its fabric. My psychiatrist attributes my issues with race and racism to my mental illness. My dope dealer changes my medication and increase the dosages often. Her prognosis: the medicine will change the mechanics of my race and how I view myself in America. I learned as a Black boy, and now as veteran with Bi-Polar Disorder, that I must always have an exit. But, I can’t always find one. I have come to terms with the fact that in many cases there are no exits. I must stay in this body. I must also fight to have my intersecting identities recognized—I will not be contained in America’s identity boxes. Theoretically, I have tried to embody what Black feminist scholar Patricia Hill Collins calls, “binary opposition thinking,” but I’m Bi-Polar. All Black people share the symptoms of Bi-Polar Disorder. Even though my BiPolar Disorder is connected to serving my country, I have been living with bi-polar my entire life. Before diagnosis my symptoms didn’t appear in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition). They fell under the label of “Double Consciousness,” a concept coined by Black scholar, WEB Du Bois. I have been fighting wars looking at myself through the eyes of my oppressor. It’s very hard learning to fight multiple wars alone. In the past 21 months as a writer I have collaborated with a composition of crying diapers, drippy sippy cups, phonetic sounds, and new English and Spanish words. Even amidst these beautiful sounds of growth and innovation the world has silenced me. But while submerged in silence, I have heard its muffled plea for help. I hear the voices of beasts and angry trolls living under the American bridges we call social media newsfeeds. Before I engage, though, I must craft rules of engagement that speak to my survival. Before, my daughter was born I didn’t fit in any one box. People of different ethnicities, races, gender identities, and sexualities influenced my life. I’ve never consistently frequented one community. I ignored the beasts antagonizing discourse and bans on marginalized lives. Today, I avoid America’s long face that was afraid of the truth for so long. However, when I’m alone, society’s multiple voices hammer through the silence. But, I remain silent to embody self-care because I cannot fight multiple wars alone. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” — Audre Lorde As a form of self-care, I remain silent and ignore society’s discontent with the 45th President of the United States. I’m angry because Black people and other communities of color have been protesting for centuries America’s systemic hatred that elected him. Now white people want to seek justice because it impacts their lives. I’m not silent or angry because I’m afraid of conservative and neo-liberal fire and brimstone, but due to the reality that America doesn’t want to face that we are at war with ourselves. 11
War Time: Black and Disabled War /wôr/ (noun): a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state. Guns are not war’s only weapons. War is also carried out by people who inflict violent words, statements, and ideologies upon their enemies. White supremacy created the battle of Us vs. Them. White men, white women and submissive people of color decided that it was in the best interest of a diverse America that white men be the face of “Making America Great Again.” This was a declaration of war. December 3, 2015 then US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that women will be allowed to serve as members of front-line military combat units challenging the pervasive sexism that exists in all military branches. American citizens are afraid of change. People with disabilities legally have the right to protect their lives along with their loved ones. It’s time for progressive whites and communities of color to realize that like women in combat units on the frontlines, people with disabilities are fully capable to participate in the war against white supremacy – the system that produced my serviceconnected Bi-Polar Disorder as Black man and airman. We live in a time when white America is being forced to slow down and look at itself in the mirror. It’s aging; its diet of fast food and bigotry is finally catching up with it. America is no longer able to run and jump and steal and kill like it used to. White America— obsessed with its image abroad, with occupying countries and “civilizing the world”—failed to take the time to look at its own reflection. What a barbarian it’s become. Rashaad Thomas is a husband, father, USAF Veteran, poet, and Voices of Our Nation’s Art Foundation (VONA/Voices) alum, who resides in south Phoenix, Ariz. He is the recipient of the 2016 City of Phoenix Mayors Art Award for Language Artist. He is a Spring 2017 MacDowell Colony Fellow. His work can be found in the book Trayvon Martin, Race, and American Justice: Writing Wrong; The Rumpus; Heart Journal Online; and forthcoming in the Columbia Poetry Review Hayden Ferry Review and others.
Moon River Autumn Hintze
A desert rain fell warm and soft outside the car. We squeezed each other’s hands like it was the last time. It wasn’t. Fog clung to the front window of my car as we sat silently, Morrissey crooning “Moon River” from a stolen cassette. I had never even seen an Audrey Hepburn movie. Ashing cigarettes out the smallest crack in the window, you stare at me, and I pretend not to notice. I thought it was sexy to act indifferent. I don’t remember the first time I saw you naked, because I was drunk, maybe high, probably both. I’m not sure what you saw in me. I was rarely coherent, and you were always. A part of me hated you for not needing the bottle. But when you fucked me wearing nothing but a blue bandana and your Bob Dylan tattoos I didn’t care so much. Your black curls pooled around your shoulder blades, draping over an inked scene from Calvary that extended the length of your back. You got it while you lived in a Christian commune. A cult? No, a commune. That’s why your parents have to work at Wal-Mart, you explained. They had not held jobs for 20 years. Sometimes your dad did odd handy man jobs and you would go with him. I would sit quietly in the corner, reading books and smoking rollies, relishing in your long form stretching towards the ceiling to unhook a lighting fixture. You wore the same black washed out jeans every day that clung to your thighs. You strode across the floor in worn leather boots with this silver buckle that rattled with each step. Years later I would throw away a pair of my husband’s boots that looked too similar. Of course, you worked with no shirt on. During breaks we moved to the van to smoke a joint. You always had grass, which was another thing I liked about you. You told me you liked me while we were rolling on ecstasy, so I didn’t believe you. We cuddled on a stranger’s love seat until dawn, and I had to rush off to pick up my boyfriend from the airport. From that day on we stole moments together, as if my boyfriend and I were married and I could never leave him. We didn’t have a kid or anything. Maybe we just liked the idea of an affair. It sounded so grown up. I never came when you fucked me but I was too young then to know the difference. Someone told me you thought of yourself as a sex God. Sure, you looked like one and fucked 13
Moon River like one. But God usually takes care of his children, and I hadn’t orgasmed once. Not even on Sundays. During these dark years, years of no restraint, we prowled the valley, endless nights, cheap beer, looking for some nameless comfort. I think our group fancied ourselves some Beatnik poets or something. We were the outsiders of our high schools, a rag tag bunch who found each other through weed dealers, punk rock shows, and chain-smoking nights at Denny’s. We weren’t friends exactly, enablers at best, but we didn’t want to go home to the broken pieces that waited there. Here, someone plays the banjo, and someone else uses a Spiro-graph to recreate pornographic images, and we chug Pabsts as someone talks about their mother’s suicide. We were the people who stole as many “save the troops” ribbons as we could off of car bumpers a few years shy of 9/11. A scavenger hunt for assholes. We frequently ended up at an abandoned mansion up Camelback Mountain. We called it the castle, and it was straight out of a Poe novel. Looming towers, spiked fences, and crumbling brick. I never had the courage to go inside. I remember you walking along the twilight path, boots crunching, singing my favorite indie band under your breath. Were you singing to impress me? It worked. I read in the paper recently that the castle was finally being remodeled after twenty years of sitting alone and empty. I wonder how many broken beer bottles and cigarette butts they found? The ghosts of our kisses left glistening in the moonlight. I was on house arrest when I found out I was pregnant. Fresh out of jail for driving under the influence, I had hit the place known as rock bottom. The man who never made me come had successfully propagated within my body. I don’t know why I didn’t want the baby. I just didn’t. Ideologies clashed. He left. I took care of it alone. Two years of fucking, smoking, and fighting, and you disappeared like you were never there. I hear you have a real baby now, with a woman who is not your wife. I used to dream about what our baby would have looked like. Lustrous raven curls, sea glass eyes and a sharp tongue. She exists somewhere between sleep and awake. But she has stopped coming since my first baby was born this year. I wonder about souls. Is she the same one who would have been born all those years ago? This time of year when the leaves start to change and the air becomes burnt with smoke and cider makes my belly cold. That last Halloween together, celebrating my release from jail, we were dressed as dancers from the twenties, complete with my long cigarette holder and fringe. Just recently, I stopped having nightmares about you; in the last one, you hugged me and told me, “it’s OK.” These harvest nights, I sometimes step out into the yard to gaze at the sky, wondering if the river to the moon is filled with souls. Born in Florida, Autumn spent her childhood on the pristine beaches of the Gulf coast. She’s wanted to be a mermaid all her life, but is content to become an author while she remains landlocked. Autumn is currently a senior at Arizona State University. This spring she will be graduating with her bachelor’s in English, and plans to pursue graduate work in creative writing, preferably by an ocean. Currently she lives with her handsome husband, baby daughter, and two mischievous orange tabbies in Mesa, Ariz.
photo by Joe Pentycofe
I cannot read a book no matter how hard I look Cassandra Laubach
Can you imagine a world where the one sense giving you your reason for living can be taken away from you so easily? Maybe you believe taste is the one sense you can’t Imagine a B. And I would live without; you need it to taste your mother’s hear it buzz Thanksgiving pie. You look forward to the soft crust every year and how past me. the pumpkin filling melts in your mouth with ease. Perhaps, you need hearing to bring yourself peace. You can’t imagine a world where you can’t hear Elton John’s song “Rocket Man” on the radio as you denounce your childhood dream of wanting to be an astronaut (even though, secretly, the dream is still alive). I don’t know what the one sense in your life you can’t live without is. Here comes But, for me, I can’t live without sight. the T. I tend to be more of an observer, trying to soak Watch the Think of an S. in each moment. This is why I didn’t talk until I fireflies flee. I ran from was two years of age (double the time it took other the snake! children to speak). I was too busy soaking in the wonders around me. Successes! If you think about it; everything is a miracle in your life. Think of your vacuum, for example. Yes, a household appliance everyone hates since Imagine a V. it is affiliated with work, but think about the miracle of the vacuum; I wonder if it defies gravity just so you don’t have to pick up crumbs from your rhino’s have car chocolate cake dinner (yes, you can eat dessert as dinner, don’t judge keys? me). How does a vacuum work? Do you know how it works? I don’t know how it works, but I know I’m happy it works and it’s a miracle it does. This is why I am an observer. I find simple occurrences like vacuums, or cars, or the sunrise to be fascinating miracles. I still don’t understand how they work, but I am happy they do. Then I see a G. I see it staring back at me.
I cannot read a book no matter how hard I look Why did I just go on a tangent about vacuums? Because, in order to see a vacuum and see the miracle of defying gravity to clean a carpet, you need sight. Sight is the one sense I know I can’t live And what about a J? Will it look without. I know this because for a rather tragic and say hurray? time in my life I had to live with a cheated sense of sight. It wasn’t like I couldn’t see; no, I was always able to see. I just couldn’t control what I saw. My eyes would jump from one word in a book, to my bedroom window, to my cat, to my pen, back to my book, then to my water I would see a K. Mermaids and bottle, then here, then there, then everywhere besides the one activity I dolphins play. desired to engage in, reading. My parents thought this was normal, believing every child had a hard time focusing. I mean, it makes sense. The world for a child seems large since everything is new and must be learned or explained. But apparently, at least for me, this wasn’t the case. Think of a Y. Then, halfway through kindergarten, my What about the Why can’t parents realized I had a problem. I was the only child W? penguins fly? What if the in my class who could not read. My teacher, a jelly double U is bean addict with wrinkles around her eyes from lost nights of sleep, is really a double a woman I admire. She truly did care about each of her students. She V? told my parent’s I could not read and explained how I was having a hard time focusing. Now, not to spoil the story (but since I am talking to you right now I then see a U. through written word), I eventually learned how to read. So, no need to And I remember you. be concerned, the story has a happy ending. My parents took me to countless specialists. I hated the men who tried to tell me I was never going to amount to anything and never read and I hated the women who hugged me and told me it was okay because I was a cute kid. It’s now the end of my kindergarten year and I still can’t read. I Then comes the Q. HUUUU don’t answer questions with a direct response, and I can’t sit still for CHUUUU, God more than two minutes. My kindergarten teacher I would see an Bless You! noticed something in me though: I was present. I A. And think of riding a sleigh. was not in la-la land. But, this still didn’t explain what was wrong with me. My teacher sat me down one day at recess and said “Cassandra, can you read this line for me?” She graced the page Next came the in front of me with an index card. She was essentially using the index X. I wonder if a lion can flex? card to force me to focus on one word at a time. She did this by hiding previous words and the preview for the next word behind the card so my eyes could not jump around the page. The one good discovery about this is my teacher realized I wasn’t Odd it’s an O. incapable of reading. I was just exploring. I was just trying to take in the Or is it just a world around me. Cheerio? As time passed, my parents found out my eyes could not track the words on the page. It was as if my eyes were acting independently. They each wanted to do something different. As a result, I was always doing something different than the people 17 What about an R? What if there where flying cars?
photo by Christen Cioffi
I cannot read a book no matter how hard I look Imagine an H. I want to see your smiling face. Comes creeping next is F. And I think rainbow butterflies are best.
around me. The doctor explained how, instead of learning how to make my eyes work together, I was using one eye by itself What about an I? Looking out half of the time and using the other eye by itself the at me. other half of time. This is when I got glasses and an eye coach. The woman who taught me how to control my focus, and therefore resulting in me being able to read, was named Betsy. Betsy was a short woman with short dark hair and a long crooked nose resting on top of her long crooked smile. She taught me over the next two years how to use my eyes as partners and not as two separate individuals. Then came E. I finally mastered the art of eye tracking in And I realize
reading is no second grade. ease. I look back and think about how hard it was for me not to be able to do what the other kids could because of my eyes. They could do their math homework, or they could read street signs, or they could read books. I treasure my sight now since I didn’t always have it mastered. It still astonishes me how I began kindergarten not being able to read Cat Think of a C. Would you sail in the Hat, to being in fifth grade reading high school level literature with me? and passing my peers. I truly do treasure my sight because it allows me to read. And reading for me, is the greatest blessing in the world.
Here comes the P. Would he like to go dancing? What about a D? Now from the pages I have to flea.
Then comes an H. I wonder if stars are brighter in space?
Imagine when I could not read My brain didn’t have time for the deed Then I knew From my mind stories flew I can be an astronaut Or a teapot I might be a wizard Then be a man eating lizard I can become a dancer Or a deer named Prancer In my head I can’t be anything Since from reading characters come playing Letters are fun With them, I am never done I have all the stories I need They are in books, wouldn’t you agree?
Now I see a Z. Oh how I wish I could read.
Then came N. And I think of a cow named Ben.
I cannot read a book no matter how hard I look I gained inspiration for this piece from Donald M. Murray’s “All Imagine an M. Writing Is Autobiography” because I feel he conveys how our writing Will the mountain peaks is influenced by our experiences. This piece was very much influenced ever end? by my personal experiences with not being able Lower is the L. to use my sight properly. I do wonder if his other Now beat the theory about how “all reading is autobiographical” affected the way you wizard’s spell. read this piece or if you chose to read it at all. I believe my perspective on life has affected why I chose to write this piece, which causes me to believe what you took away from this piece was affected by your personal experiences, as Murray’s theory would suggest.
photo by chanelle sinclair
Cassandra Laubach is a freshman at the Cronkite School. She has always had a passion for literature. She spent her childhood at her local library where she learned how to read. Reaching her teenage years, Cassandra began to volunteer at her local library; she would do so for six years only stopping to acquire a college education. Cassandra is a philanthropist who has been part of organizations such as Girl Scouts of America and National Charity League. Recently, Cassandra held a Monday morning news update on the Blaze Radio; a Downtown Phoenix radio program. Cassandra hopes to continue to pursue a career in Journalism.
Make Orwellian Dystopia Science Fiction Again Shawnte Orion
Your swamp is a disaster. Pathetic. Stagnant water and flaccid leeches. Sad. I will declare it a National Park so I can shut it down. Drain it so it can be refilled with the greatest alligators you’ve ever seen. Tremendous alligators. My swamp will be luxurious. The biggest and greatest swamp. Huddled masses of parents will try to send their kids to my swamp using their swamp vouchers. So we’ll have to build a wall. A yuge wall that won’t cost a dime, believe me. A great great wall paid for by cancer patients who had the nerve to pre-exist. Shawnte Orion has published a recent book of poetry The Existentialist Cookbook (NYQBooks) and a new chapbook Faithful as the Ground (Five Oaks Press). His poems have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Barrelhouse, Georgetown Review, and New York Quarterly. He has been invited to read at bookstores, bars, universities, hair salons, museums, and laundromats. He co-hosts the monthly Caffeine Corridor Poetry Series. batteredhive.blogspot.com
photo by Anna Flores
photo by Ronnie Caswell
Cocks, Pigs, and Fish Megan Atencia
Tropical mountain island air sounds like an oxymoron until the sea salt licks your tongue and begs you to step off the precipice to dive into it. My mother’s Philippine hometown has this familiarity. There are no paved roads here, just slick river rock paths and forest green jungle gyms where you can play hide-and-seek with the village kids. They always win, unafraid of straying into the orchestra of monkey hoots and bird calls and falling coconuts. I take my chances with the rocks. My uncle’s farm is across the river at the base of a lush mountain, and he raises livestock alongside his rice paddies. He is most proud of his fighting cocks, red-combed and tethered to the rich earth’s mandible with stakes. They carry razors on their ankles, and I wonder if they ever feel afraid of that power. I know I would. Sometimes blood is still blood, whether it is red or spilled or used to tie lives together with heartbeats and veins. His pigs are over three hundred pounds. The pig pens, one per pig, is not much longer or wider than an eight-person dining table. When I visit, the pigs jump up and put their cloven hooves on top of the crumbling brick. I swear they are smiling as they press their noses to my hands, wet and clammy and caked in either grub or shit. My uncle doesn’t tell me if they have names, as if they are innocent children whose parents wait to see if they will survive long enough before deeming them worthy of love. They jiggle in places I never imagined a pig could. My older cousin eats fat with his fingers and calls it a delicacy. Pigs are not raised here for their meat. Fat is more tasty and filling, he says. Nutritional emptiness kills the chronic hunger pains on fiesta day, one of the only celebrations that calls for a slaughter. Children go from door to door asking for just a taste of each family’s feast. My cousin’s little sister goes with them, and I save her the fat from my plate. My aunt apologizes that there are so many greens and so little fish for our sinigang, but the oceans are empty these days as fishermen fight to make a decent day’s wage. I say it’s fine, thank her for dinner, and tell her it reminds me of home. Back in America, my littlest brother only knows how to cook salmon. He fries it in bright olive oil with rich Cajun seasoning, all cayenne and garlic and salt. I am exhausted from a day of work followed by a commute across my yellowing Arizona homeland, more 26
Cocks, Pigs, and Fish “the Sun” than “the Valley of,” more hours standing in front of a computer than hours bending over a paddy and browning like my uncle. So I let my brother serve us the fish for dinner atop jasmine rice imported from Thailand. It is just me, him, and our inbetween brother around our too-large table. There is room for seconds. I remind them to take their vitamins and drink their milk before going to bed. Afterwards, I listen to their heavy, healthy, weighted footsteps climb up the stairs. I wash the dishes, scrape the white, coagulated fatty acids from their plates and toss the scaled brown skins in the trash. My brother yells down the stairway banister. The house echoes, and I hear him all the way from the kitchen. His beta fish had jumped out of its bowl in his bathroom and into the sink. I rush up the plush carpeted steps, tell him to hurry and put it back in the water. It can still survive; beta fish live in shallow, dirty rice paddies and breathe oxygen from the surface, not just through their gills. He is standing in the hallway and tells me it’s too late; the fish had already made its way down the drain. I imagine it following the pipes like a river current, resilience carrying it through the sewage. I wonder if it will make it to the ocean. After we take out the water and put away the empty bowl, my brother watches the I-10 from his patio. He leans against the crumbling, rusting rails. My heart follows the fish. Our brother walks in, footsteps shaking the second floor of our home as it tilts across the Pacific, tectonic and ringing in our ears. There is salt on our tongues and city lights up ahead. They are green, green, yellow, red and red and red. Megan Atencia is a Phoenix-based spoken-word poet studying global health, English literature, and Spanish at ASU. She is constantly fascinated by the fact that humans exist and create extraordinary things every day, to the point where she gets overwhelmed and stays home with a fluffy blanket and her equally-fluffy dog. Her current projects include poetry therapy groups at a local mental health hospital, community workshops, and a poetry series and mini-press called Criss-Cross Poetry. She is also online at mayagainpoetry.com.
American Man John Chakravarty
I shit my pants at the BMX track when I was five. There’s no poetic way to say it, but it feels good to have that off my chest. No one could have noticed me-they couldn’t hear over the sound of Freebird. And they couldn’t smell through the gasoline firing full throttle from the dual exhaust, framing that confederate flag sticker. I was a good Catholic boy and confessed to the inner walls of the parking lot outhouse. This moment, equal to all of the others, make up the man that I am today. I lose sleep wondering which events make a man into a dictator. And what made America shit its pants again. 28
photo by Autumn Hintze
John Chakravarty is a writer currently studying English with a focus in creative writing at ASU. His main focus is in writing short fiction and novels and while at Phoenix College he received the Presidentâ€™s honors award and an honorable mention in fiction for the Maricopa County writing contest. His work was featured in Marooned. John is also a visual artist that works in traditional and digital mediums to create complex illustrations. He has contributed to group shows in Arizona and around the country, including the Phoenix Skate Deck show, a stencil art show in Los Angeles, the Bookworms show at the Flame Run gallery in Louisville and others. John lives in Phoenix, Ariz. with his wonderful wife and three dogs.
Long Day’s Journey Dorthy DiRienzi
I am 73 years old. That astonishes me, because in vast areas of my mental chronicles and cartographies, I am so much younger. I can still smell the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey when I was 9— ocean, sweat, and the sharp tang of Coppertone suntan oil. I am the youngest of three kids, not old enough to leave at home alone. The upholstery on the back seat of Dad’s Nash feels like a winter coat and smells like my mother’s Pall Mall cigarettes. “Come with us to visit your grandmother, Dottie.” A broken snow chain on a back tire clips the rear bumper, so I pretend we are in a horse-drawn sleigh clopping across the countryside to my Pennsylvania Dutch relatives. Someone jostles past me in the cafeteria at Temple University in 1963 to reach a back table of athletes; loud cheers break out. It’s Bill Cosby, a few days after his initial appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Pain slices my guts in the labor room at Jefferson Hospital. This is my first child; I know absolutely nothing about babies! I’m 31, terrified, tired beyond belief, and my husband Anthony wakes, head resting at the bottom of the gurney. “Can I help you?” Exhausted from just finishing laying new tile on the floor of our house, he is out of the action here, not necessary, and asks only because he feels obliged to. Now, looking at that child as she approaches middle-age, I glimpse a country where I have no rights, no citizenship, only a visa that affords diplomatic courtesies. That was a country I once laid claim to, waged wars to preserve, and dedicated whole treasuries to maintaining. This new landscape—the country of Seventy—is frightening in its own unique ways. Forgetting why I entered a room, or the name of an actress (the one in that movie that so affected us when we saw it how many years ago?). Worse, for a writer, having to use a damned computer dictionary to find a synonym that would have leapt unbidden from the 30
photo by Ronnie Caswell 31
Long Day’s Journey keys a few years ago, or spelling that wretched word bureaucrat without Microsoft Word throwing a hissy fit. This Seventy is also a land with leaking borders. Not an “illegal immigrants” or a “barbarians-at-the-gate” kind of leak. These marauders know me intimately: knees whose piercing pain tell me all the cushion has worn away and needs to be replaced; vertebrae that grind when bending; and eyes that close while reading my favorite author because fatigue swoops down. And sudden realizations that I have been misled, or stupid. It has taken over 70 years to reach a point where I can finally see the lay of my land, beyond the confines of other people’s interpretations, other persons’ maps. As if I were standing on a ledge, I can see where my borders have been broken, infiltrated, or obliterated long ago. Where I allowed incursions because others demanded my attention, lied to me about duty, or refused to take responsibility for themselves. I finally understand that what I see, what I feel, is as valid and deserving of consideration as the next person’s explanation. Perhaps I am not as singularly odd as I have always thought. Perhaps I can finally say I allow you to go here, but no farther. What is the difference between being merely naïve and overtly gullible? Between the childhood mandate to obey without question or hesitation, and the need to believe in both compassion and truth? How long did it take before I could stop denying the reality I knew for the manipulations others devised, and to have the courage to weigh their actions against their words? Most of my life. Dorothy DiRienzi has published poetry and essays in many journals since 1987. She has an MFA in creative writing from Arizona State University, and is a retired editor/publisher of the University Policy Manuals Group at ASU. She previously worked as an editor and indexer of medical reference and textbook titles in Philadelphia, Pa. for 38 years.
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Perfection in Three Desiree Pharias
Most of the time it was small, like having to make sure that my curling iron was unplugged. The alternative was seeing my apartment building quickly consumed by a ball of fire, the sparks erupting from the socket to catch my Tiffany-blue rug aflame. I’d be out the door to leave and I would have to go back and check it one, two, three times. Or I would check my alarm no less than three times, back-to-back-to-back, in order to ensure I would wake up on time. If I didn’t check it, I could be stuck in traffic for hours, crippled by the heaps of plastic and glass that surrounded me. I would be right next to that less than womanly mother with the screaming kids and the distasteful coffee stain on her shirt. You know, the one that sings along to Pat Benatar and tries to ignore the screaming kids because she’s secretly sick of them. I would have to force myself to look straight ahead, because it’s more proper to pretend not to see one another in times like these. I always had to polish my heels three times. The idea of someone looking down at my feet and thus looking down on me left me petrified. There was also something about the third time being a charm that enticed me, even if I don’t really believe in that sort of thing. People expect the “crazy OCD people” to be these old men with greying hair that have to flip the lightswitch 25 times. Sometimes, though, it’s the girl in the cube that has to hit save three times, back-to-back-to-back, or the boss will have have her head. People think other people are too busy to judge. That they’re too busy with their three kids or their three wives or whatever the hell obsesses the self-obsessed mind. But those people are wrong, everyone is critical. If you look put together, you are, at least that’s the general belief. So that’s what I try to do. I didn’t know how to stop the threes though. The three checks, three washes, three clicks. I wanted it to stop. A proper woman wouldn’t need to do things three times. A real woman would get them right the first. I decided to mask myself with big sunglasses, and drive an hour to the doctor, so no one would know who I was. Since I looked innocent and put together with my shoes matching my bag and belt, or maybe because he didn’t have the time to sit very long with me, the doctor gave me pills 33
photo by Christen Cioffi art installation part of the Phoenix Art Museum Modern Art Collection
Perfection in Three in a matter of 5 minutes. But I was supposed to take one, not three. They’re strong, he said. I tried to take one, I really did. And when he stood there watching me, I had the selfcontrol to do as he instructed. His disapproval would be worse than me disobeying the rule of threes. I was right on schedule the next morning, doing my eyeliner at 5:18 a.m. I did it in one, two, three strokes, and the wing of my left eye was at an angle that did not correspond with the right. I tried it again, one, two, three times. It still wasn’t right. I could picture all the girls in the office, with their physical perfection, and their perfect families with the husband in a suit and a baby in a jumper. They would sneer at me, their lips coated in a perfectly pink hue. They would see my imperfections, that I wasn’t the perfect picture. That I was not the whole package. I was just a pathetic attempt, a missed chance, a failed opportunity. A long string of accidents and mistakes that ultimately make up a mess of a woman that no one will look up to or admire, or care for, or even see. My breathing got more rapid as my rule of three didn’t work. So I took three pills, because I could control that, and I laid face down on the floor and breathed in once, out one, two, three times. My mind began to quiet and the control returned. Three pills felt good. For the next few weeks, that’s what I did. I took one, two, three pills. In my daze of calm, in my serenity, I looked at Mary in the next cube. Her purse was a different shade of blue than the one inside of the flowers of her floral print dress. I laughed aloud in my cube, and she looked up at me in confusion because normally I’m too busy counting to three to make a peep. “Nice try, Mary,” I said between giggles. She slowly turned back to her computer screen, which annoyed me. Even as I was getting better, people were still superior to me. If someone said that to me, I could never ignore their underlying sentiment the way she did. It would gnaw at me until I screamed aloud in a fury. “You’re a pathetic excuse for a woman, Mary!” I screamed aloud in the office. Every eye was on me then, and Mary kept on staring, as if she was so damn secure with herself that she didn’t even want to know why I thought so. I continued to scream, about how all of my womanly colleagues were the most pathetic beings on this planet. I was fired immediately after I threw my paper weight at Mary. I drove home, and the women that I passed by in my car, with their frizzy hair and naked faces, didn’t seem so perfect to me. So instead of following my rules, I didn’t take three pills, I took four. And four felt even better than three. And I sure as hell didn’t care how I looked doing it either. Desiree Pharias is a graduating senior of ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, majoring in journalism and minoring in English. She has held internships at The Arizona Republic and Phoenix Magazine to name a few, but her greatest joy and ultimate hobby is creative writing. Her piece “I Believe in Guitars” was included in Issue 8 of Write On Downtown when she was a freshman, before she was ultimately included again her senior year. In times of uncertainty regarding university plans and career paths, creative writing is a sanctuary for Pharias and she plans to continue this passion far beyond college.
Hospital Derik Roof
He’s lying on the table, belly down. His eyes are on me, and I think back to conversation with the psych unit’s Doctor here in the hospital: “why is he this way?” On the spot, I told the doctor about autism, while wondering why I was telling a psych doctor about a disorder he should know more about than me. “He’s got social barriers, communication barriers; he gets frustrated, acts out.” The Doctor says “he’s got narrow eyes, features are mildly dysmorphic—associated with intellectual delays.” I’ve never looked for a function of behavior in a kid’s appearance. I thought of phrenology and went quiet, letting the kid’s mother agree with the doctor. I’m looking at him now though. Facial features—mildly dysmorphic—focused at me; he says, “I wanna go home.” His cheek’s drawn up and stuck to the table, so it pulls taught when he talks. “I fuckin’ hate it here; everybody’s mean to me.” My supervisor met us at the hospital. He’s seated to my right, at the crown of the boy’s head. He asks, “do you know why you’re here?” “I wanna go home. All the other kids make fun of me and try to fight me. They don’t even do anything to stop it.” James, my supervisor, asks again, “do you know why your mom brought you here?” His heavy cheek is like a puddle on the table, making space for the water in his eyes. “I threw a rock at my friend and his head got burst open.” I imagine the blood, the scene. I threw rocks when I was a kid. I tell myself I never meant to hit anyone, but I did hit a kid once. I swear I didn’t think I could throw that far. I just wanted to chase him off. I hit him square in the center of his forehead and he ran past me, through the wash and back to his house. He was screaming and trailing blood through the air, on the ground, steeped in his clothes. I apologized a thousand times. I never meant to hurt him. I didn’t have any reason to hurt him. I was just a kid doing a stupid thing without thinking of consequences. On the phone yesterday evening, His mother told me all about it: how he’d tried with a smaller rock and then went for a big, smooth, round river rock. “The boys’ clothes were all covered in blood.” She said he didn’t know why he’d done it. The words Social barriers, 37
Hospital communication barriers. are screaming in my head. We’re often afraid of what we don’t understand. There are others who don’t understand their entire world. Too much world, too much fear all at once and the parasympathetic nervous system reacts. It’s fight or flight. I’ve been there before. I’ve been hit, kicked, bitten. One kid even bit a hole through my thumbnail. You can’t get mad. You can’t. Mom wanted to know if she’d done the right thing in taking him to the hospital. He’d been admitted before and he told her that he wanted to go back. He was afraid. He needed a safe place. “I just didn’t know what else to do,” Mom said. The boy I’d hurt disappeared into his house and his mother treated him with butterfly stiches. I was a guest, a friend of his brother, with nowhere else to go. I climbed a tree in the back yard and stared at their home. He could have been dying inside. I’d never seen so much blood. Back in the exam room, he jumps down from the table in his hospital socks, slips on the linoleum, and falls into a heap on the floor. “I wanna go home.” Derik Roof has spent his adult life as a caregiver and support provider for individuals with special needs and seniors with disabilities. He spent the last year providing care management, for youths with ASD, as a social worker in the field of behavioral health. He is currently spending his days hiking mountains and making things out of wood in honor of his late, very talented father. Derik’s poetry has appeared in Four Chambers Press publications as well as The Paradise Review.
photo by Joe Pentycofe
Casualties of War Jonathan Robbins
Please, Emily, tell me how you won the war. I haven’t seen you since treatment two years ago, but I see your smile every day on Facebook along with your beautiful hourglass curves. Tell me how you learned to love your body because I’m still at war with mine. I have no one else, Emily. Therapy’s not doing it for me anymore and all our friends are fading away. Andrew has completely disappeared, though his body has been disappearing for months. Flo is a liar—she says she’s okay, but she’s living off Americanos and hardboiled eggs. Jess is going back to treatment because her esophagus nearly ruptured from purging. Alyssa’s hair is falling out in clumps, but at least she’s being tube-fed in the hospital. Christa says she’s vegan just so people won’t realize she’s trying to kill herself again. None of us went to Julie’s funeral because we were all too ashamed to show each other how much weight we’d lost.
Casualties of War
It seems hopeless, Emily. The treadmill at the gym talks to me, promises to wash away my calories like sin if I sacrifice my muscles and bones on its alter. I’m losing the war. We need the epiphany you found, the divine intervention— what saved you from our hell, Emily? I have to know because I’m terrified, wondering which one of us will die next. And sometimes, the only solace is when I imagine it’s me. Jonathan Robbins is a 22-year-old senior at ASU pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in English. He plans to continue his studies at the graduate level and eventually earn a PhD in criminal psychology. By night, however, he is a passionate writer, and he hopes to be a published novelist someday—using criminal investigations as inspiration for thrillers, of course. But aside from these ambitions, Jonathan’s life currently revolves around pampering his Argentine Mastiff, Batch, and Netflix binges—he cites Buffy Summers as his greatest role model.
photo by Ronnie Caswell
Solutions for America’s Organ Shortage Kelly Luong
At the innocent age of nine, Ruben Navarro was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy - a disorder that damages the brain’s nerve cells. At the time when he’s supposed to build sandcastles and swing on monkey bars, Navarro spent his days in the doctor’s office. As the years passed, his physical and mental state deteriorated at a rapid pace. He was no longer able to walk, let alone maintain his balance. By his early twenties, his mother decided to place him in an assisted-care facility. Just two weeks before his 26th birthday, Navarro was found sprawled on the ground, rendered unconscious and barely breathing. He had suffered from a heart attack. Upon getting rushed to a nearby hospital, Navarro was hooked up to numerous machines, which did what his body was now unable to do (Mckinley, 2008). During the heart attack, the oxygen supply to Navarro’s brain was cut off, resulting in irreversible damage. After reports of very minimal brain activity, the doctors determined that nothing further could be done to help him. His mother was devastated, as any mother should be. Yet, through this time of grief, she agreed to donate his organs. The plan was to go as followed: Navarro would be declared dead, removed from life support, then have his organs harvested. All within 30 minutes. Any second longer would cause damage to the delicate organs, making them inviable for transplant. In a desperate race against time, Dr. Hootan Roozrokh, the attending physician, “ordered up excessive doses of the painkiller morphine and Ativan, an anti-anxiety drug, so that Navarro would die within that crucial half-hour” (Chawkins, 2008, p. 1). Succumbing to the drugs, Navarro passed away eight hours later and Dr. Roozrokh was charged with a felony for dependent adult abuse; He was found innocent (Chawkins, 2008). This was the first case of its kind in the United States, but is it all that surprising? Not really. Because Navarro was a registered donor in a vegetative state, Dr. Roozrokh saw this as an opportunity to perform a transplant and save another life. It’s an issue that hasn’t been addressed widely in media, but America has been facing an organ donor shortage for years now. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, 119,972 people need an organ transplant right this minute. One more person is added to this list every ten 43
Solutions for America’s Organ Shortage minutes. There are more people in need than there are willing to give, so it’s no surprise that 22 people die each day, hoping to get another chance at life. In an effort to shorten the gap between the waiting list and registered donors, a handful of people have led various campaigns, followed by media coverage. Despite bringing awareness to the issue, the number of donors remain at a striking standstill. “… Organ donation has increased only slightly in recent years while demand has grown dramatically, leading to long waiting times and high waitlist mortality rates” (Cameron et al, 2013, p. 2060). When it comes to organ transplantations, many ethical values come into question. It’s impossible to find a solution that is both effective and accepted by everyone, but with the growing list we need to establish a starting point. Currently, the United States uses an opt-in system, where a citizen is only considered a donor if they register prior to death. The better option would be to implement an opt-out system of presumed consent, making everyone a donor unless they choose to remove their name from the list. Countries who have switched to an opt-out system have seen a dramatic increase in the number of donors and successful transplants. “Spain has had great success in raising organ donor rates, leading the world with 34 deceased donors per million people” (Kershaw et. al, 2011, p. 2). Alongside an opt-out system, there should be more time and effort put into educating the public about organ donations. If people fully grasped the importance of transplants and how it works, there would be no reason to reject the donation of their loved one’s organs. Many states allow the patient’s family to deny the organ donation, even if the patient is a registered donor. “The NHSBT recently disclosed figures claiming that the families of deceased registered organ donors have said no to donation on more than 500 occasions since 2010. Their refusal to led to an estimated 1200 people missing out on a transplant” (Griffith, 2016, p. 103). In situations like these, ignoring the family’s wish to refuse donation would only add fuel to the fire, so it is critical that the public becomes educated. Providing thorough information for families of the patients would make them more willing to allow the donation of organs. Through a study, it was discovered that “the main reasons expressed by families to justify refusal to donate the deceased’s organs were: denial and rejection of brain death; belief in a miracle; fear about organ trade and unknown organ destination” (Ghorbani, 2011, p. 406). For many families, comprehending the concept of brain-death is challenging. The heart is still beating, the chest is still rising, so how can he be dead? If we take him off the ventilators, we would be killing him. He’s going to wake up any day now, we need to wait. These are the thoughts running through their minds and this is how they rationalize with themselves. In reality, there is irreversible damage to the brain that cannot be seen with just the human eye. He has lost the ability to talk, move, think, and feel. So instead of waiting for an impossible miracle, the organs should be donated to someone who has a chance; Maybe a little girl who wants to run on the playground with her friends or maybe a father whose only wish is to walk his daughter down the aisle. If we make an effort to educate people on the concept of brain-death before they have to make the decision, they would be more likely to give permission. A person who is grieving will not be able to think logically, therefore, they should be educated early on. Most Americans claim to support organ donation, but only 30 percent know how to register to become a donor (Kershaw et. al, 2011). It’s time to turn words into actions. With 44
photo by chanelle sinclair
Solutions for America’s Organ Shortage the current system, people register by checking a box on their driver license application. Simple yet daunting. It’s a hard decision to make when you’re preoccupied with passing your driver’s test. Surely most people save the trouble and mark “no”. If the United states decided to implement the opt-out system, the steps required to register will no longer be needed, and potential organ donations would be maximized. Many people make the argument that an opt-out system would infringe on human rights. In their eyes, implementing this system would be making a statement that human bodies are a possession of the state and government. Even as someone who supports an opt out system, I acknowledge this point of view and how it may be unsettling; but people will always have the ability to remove their name from the donor list at any given time, if they so choose to. Presumed consent will not take this right away from them. Still, the idea causes discomfort for many people. Workers in the medical field, however, tend to be more accepting towards the idea of presumed consent. Maybe it’s because doctors become desensitized to death, no longer viewing the unfortunate ones as human beings; humans who once talked, once walked, and were once a part of the world are now just cadavers. Or maybe the constant stream of patients facing organ failure remind them of the desperate need for donors, making them focus on who can be saved and not on who was unable to be. The way they view death is something others may not be able to grasp easily. H. Emson, an experienced pathologist, believes that cadavers are possessions of the state. “The body should be regarded as on loan to an individual from the biomass, to which the cadaver will inevitably return” (Emson, 2003, p. 125). Once a person passes, the soul departs, leaving behind the body. It will become useless - decaying into elements of the earth - unless the organs are donated, in which it’ll become a beneficial resource. For this very reason, he makes the argument that it should be required for cadavers to donate their organs. People might not be able to accept it at first, but “we can safely predict that in the long run its popularity would recover as it became accepted as the status quo” (Rippon, 2012, p. 356). It’s hard for many of us to truly grasp the importance of becoming donors, simply because we’re fortunate enough to have a healthy, functioning body. We don’t know what it’s like to wait for a phone call, fingers crossed, hoping that an organ match has been found. We don’t have to make trips to the hospital - several times a week — to get kidney dialysis, nor do we have a tube connected to our chest, pumping medicine that prevents our heart from failing. It’s easy for us to feel discomfort at the thought of being “cut open” after death, but think about the people who are alive, yet constantly suffering. With the combination of an opt-out system and the education on organ donations, the United States would be able to solve the shortage. Each person has a purpose on this earth, but because of certain circumstances, not everyone is able to live the life they intend to. By encouraging people to register as donors, countless lives will be saved. Who knows? Maybe in the future, you’ll be the one who needs an organ. Will you refuse to cut open your body then?
Solutions for America’s Organ Shortage References
Cameron, A. M., Massie, A. B., Alexander, C. E., Stewart, B., Montgomery, R. A., Benavides, N. R., & ... Segev, D. L. (2013). Social media and organ donor registration: The Facebook effect. American Journal Of Transplantation, 13(8), 2059-2065. Chawkins, S. (2008, December 19). Transplant surgeon acquitted. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/19/local/me-transplant19 Emson, H. (2003). It is immoral to require consent for cadaver organ donation. Journal of Medical Ethics, 29(3), 125–127. Ghorbani, F. (2011, March). Causes of family refusal for organ donation. Transplantation proceedings (0041-1345), 43 (2), p. 405. Griffith, R. (2016). NHSBT consideration to ignore family override of consent to organ donation. British Journal Of Community Nursing, 21(2), 103-105. Kershaw, J., Nunemaker, L., Hinds, M., & DeCosta, J. (2011). Reforming the USorgan donation system: Policy insights from the experience in other countries. Global Health (1937-514X), 4(1), 1-6. Mckinley, J. (2008, February 26). Surgeon accused of speeding a death to get organs. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/us/27transplant.html Rippon, S. (2012). How to reverse the organ shortage. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 29(4), 344-358. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5930.2012.00576.x Kelly Luong is a freshman on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus majoring in nursing in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation.
photo by Carlos Monge
The Large and the Small John R. Valles
Want to hear a cliché? When I stand on a beach and look out at the vast ocean I feel tiny, like just another speck of sand among a million trillion grains. Big fucking deal. Who doesn’t? I was a murderer by the tender age of seven. I’ll never forget the Christmas I opened my Red Ryder BB gun. To be honest, it’s a piece of garbage, but to every kid of my generation it was the legendary gun from the classic holiday movie. “Don’t shoot your eye out!” My mom loved saying that to me whenever she got the chance. Somehow the jape never tired for her and she would cackle her weird laugh and slap her knee like she had written the line and it was her masterpiece. Sometime later, I was in the backyard shooting empty Coke cans or cardboard boxes, I don’t remember which, and a little bird lighted on a branch just over our rooftop. Before I go on, I should note that the Red Ryder is not man’s crowning achievement in ballistic technology. The pellet would fly in a rainbow shape hitting a foot or more low at a measly ten yards. I took aim at the little bird above the gutter and, as I had become accustomed to, lifted the sights well above its head. I mean it when I say that I did not, not even a little, believe I would hit the bird. I don’t know why I was even trying. I squeezed the trigger. An oddity about such a low powered BB gun is that you can watch the bullet fly to the target. That gleaming BB, Copperhead brand, flew in the prettiest line ever. A gilded arch between my gun and the bird. What I didn’t know when I took the shot is that my brain was way ahead of me. Hours of shooting at cans had taught my brain, unbeknownst to me, a great deal about the trajectory of a .177 caliber steel ball. The BB found its home and the bird fell to the roof, flapped a couple of times, spastically leapt off and fell to the pavement. I immediately starting bawling. I dropped my gun and ran to my mom and told her what I had done. She came outside and she didn’t go easy on me: “Why did you do that?” “He was just a happy little bird!” “You killed him for nothing!” 48
The Large and the Small She made me dig a little grave for him. He went into the hole wrapped in foil and my conscience was just a little bit heavier forever after. When she was telling my father later I heard her say it was a Cedar Waxwing. A pretty little yellow and blue song bird. The BB put a hole in in the side of its head. I caught the kid that lived across the street digging it up the next day and told on him. His name was Bubba. Seriously … Bubba. What a dick. You’ve got to be kidding me? You’re a pussy. And you’re a soldier now? This country must be a joke if you are one of the people charged with protecting it. When I was in seventh grade my family took a trip to the Grand Canyon. I only lived in Phoenix for nine short months, but this was the only time in my childhood—before or after—that we actually had a little money. We were able to take real trips and stay in decent hotels. To this day, my father will say those nine months were some of the happiest of his life. I was excited about the Grand Canyon. Two years prior I had seen a movie about the canyon on an IMAX screen as part of a school field trip to the museum district of Houston. I was amazed at the scope of the Grand Canyon as it was portrayed on the biggest movie screen I had ever seen. This could not have possibly prepared me for standing on the South Rim. The phrase, “it doesn’t do it justice,” is thrown around often about movies, photos, and paintings. This is usually the best we can come up with when faced with the impossibility of describing something that defies description. My visit to the YouCan’tDoItJustice Canyon was no different. I remember the pinyon pines that grow there. These drought-resistant trees can grow from thirty to sixty feet tall. The pinyons on the edge of the South Rim were diminutive by comparison, as if they decided they could only grow as tall as the canyon made them feel. I stood there, just another tree, and I was sure if I closed my eyes I would be forever lost in the canyon that doesn’t care about me, you, or the pinyon pines. I’m yawning over here. How is this any different from the beach cliché? “Look at me, I’m so small.” Give me a fucking break. My dog died last year. Aries was a black lab and he was older than two of my daughters and nearly as old as my first daughter from a previous marriage. For me and my current wife, in many ways, he was our first child. We made a plethora of mistakes with him too, as one tends to do with first children. He ended up overweight from years of supplementing his diet with table scraps. Obesity led to hip problems and during those last months he could barely stand. Sometimes he would slip in the kitchen and his front legs would go straight out to the sides and for moment I would know that this time, for sure, he had snapped a bone. He would struggle to stand and growl at us when we would help him. Was it because of the pain or the indignity of it all? The night I knew that it was time was July 4th, 2015. He loved to follow me when I would walk down the street, especially to our friend Travis’ house to see his dog buddies. Slowly he would struggle along in his side-to-side waddling way. It was late, near midnight or later, and I was drunk. Most of the adults on the cul-de-sac were in the same state 49
The Large and the Small following our street party. After I said bye to Travis and his wife, Aries and I started our way back. We live on a short street and there are only three houses between ours. Aries had to stop on the way back. He just laid down in the road like he was done. I got down on the concrete next to him and petted his course fur while slurring encouraging drunken words to him. “You’ll be alright, boy. Get up.” “We’re almost there. Just a little further.” “Please get up. Please.” He finally struggled back to his feet but after ten steps he was down again. I ran to get his water dish and brought it to him. He eagerly lapped at it and eventually, with great effort, made it to his feet again. He lumbered on despite his shaky legs. We did this four more times. On the last time, at the bottom of our yard, I promised him we would end it soon and that he could finally rest. On November 14th, 2015, a vet put Aries to sleep on our living room floor. Two days prior, I had dug his grave in our backyard. I could barely breath through my sobs when we were putting him into the ground. Wrapped in a favorite blanket, we lowered him into the hole—soaked from a recent rain despite my attempts at covering it up—and all I could think was that I was putting my best friend into the goddamned mud.
photo by Christen Cioffi 50
The Large and the Small You killed your dog. He didn’t die. Dying is passive. Killing takes effort. First you killed him by being stupid and feeding him junk, then by “putting him to sleep.” Wake up asshole, he’s not sleeping. When I arrived in Afghanistan it was night time. We flew in on a C-130 cruising with lights out from a country that, a week prior, I couldn’t have pinpointed on a map within two thousand miles. The night is so complete there. It isn’t city dark. It’s country dark. The generators that many of the villages run on are shut down in the evening because gas is expensive. I dragged my gear into the “hobo hut.” This was one of the tents that transient soldiers stayed while waiting to go to their out-sites. It was as dingy, dirty, and disgusting as you may imagine happens when ten to fifteen men have to stay in a tent together and no one has to claim responsibility for it. The females had their own hobo hut, population: two. I woke before five in the morning because I had to piss. Peeing always sucks while deployed to places like this. You can’t just stumble a few feet over the carpeted floor, naked and barefoot, to make it to the master bathroom. Instead, you put on clothes and flip-flops and walk outside over sand, mud, or gravel—never grass—to the nearest port-a-shitter. If it’s cold, you’re cold. If it’s raining, you’re wet. If it’s hot—and it usually is because all of the best oil deposits are located in the assholes and armpits of the world—then you’re hot. At 4:45 a.m., I wasn’t expecting the nuclear bomb that went off in my skull when I opened the tent flap. The sun had left its celestial orbit and landed somewhere near Kabul. Are you kidding me? A full sun before five in the morning? Once the searing pain in my eyes subsided, I opened them to an out-of-focus glare. Slowly, my pupils constricted and my vision cleared, revealing that I was surrounded by Hesiod’s titans. In the utter lack of illumination of the previous evening, I didn’t even know I was near the mountains. The shock of being encircled by these towering behemoths stopped me in my tracks. I slowly spun a circle, mouth agape, and took in the majesty of the Hindu Kush mountain range. I had seen mountains before. The rounded peaks of Camelback Mountain, the slopes of Flagstaff, and a drive through the ancient Appalachians. The Hindu Kush is different. It’s part of the Himalayans. Sharp snow-capped peaks (in July!) stood in quiet arrogance in the knowledge that I couldn’t comprehend such heights. They stand immobile and uncaring. Shoot any birds while you were there? Kill any dogs? Did you do anything remotely worthy of the position you held and the rank on your chest? My youngest daughter, Gwendolyn, was a home birth. My wife, Carly, knew it was time—this wasn’t her first rodeo. We grabbed our prepacked bags and took off to Womack Army Medical Center. Soon she was in a triage room on the baby and mother floor, machines hooked up to her measuring muscle movements she couldn’t do on her own even if she wanted to, waiting for admittance to a delivery room. Nurses and doctors came and went, checking the long scroll of paper haphazardly piling on the floor. One of the doctors returned to the room a few minutes after he had left from another paper check. “You’re not in active labor yet, Mrs. Valles.” “Yes I am.” Her eyes were also adamantly saying that she was ready. 51
The Large and the Small “No ma’am, that’s not what the machine is saying. I’ll be back with your discharge papers in a moment. You’ll need to go home. Try walking, that helps. Eat a meal. Don’t worry, you’ll baby will come when she’s ready.” I should add that this doctor looked like he was about twenty-two years old and I would be shocked if he had a child of his own yet, but, he’s the doc. Now, I am firmly in the camp of “support the pregnant woman no matter what.” After all, happy wife, happy life. But, in the face of an “expert” opinion, who are we to talk back? We later learned that he was an intern. On the way home the contractions were getting more severe. We decided to make a quick stop to pick up our best friend, Laine, also affectionately known as “second-wife.” I would like to say I was bringing Laine to support my wife, but the reality is I felt like I was going to need some help by night’s end. By the time we got back to the house, Carly was on her knees on the floor mat leaning over the seat of the passenger chair. It is only a twenty-minute drive from the hospital but the bumping and rocking of the car hadn’t helped the situation. Laine helped me escort her to the bedroom. We got her in bed and the pain increased with each contraction. The timing didn’t seem quite right, they were still a bit far apart, but the pain was obvious. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I called another friend—a doula by profession. I left Laine with Carly and walked to the other side of the house for the phone call. As I was trying to explain the situation to her, Carly started screaming. It was the most horrific, primitive, and unbridled scream I ever heard. The doula on the phone heard and said, “Oh God! She’s about to have that baby! I’m on the way.” Before her sentence was finished I was sprinting back to bedroom. When I walked into the bedroom I saw Carly on her side in a fetal position and Laine was on the phone. She had called 9-1-1 in a panic. I went to my wife and tried my best to say some calming words. I’m sure they were garbage, but I can’t really remember. Laine started to pass instructions to me from the emergency operator. The first instruction was simple. Get her onto her back and check to see if there is a head. How stupid. Of course there isn’t a head. That kind of stuff only happens in movies. OH MY GOD THERE’S A HEAD! A little circle of glistening and matted black hair. What the hell am I supposed to do now? The operator talked me through the contractions and assured us that help was on the way. I knew our doula friend was on the way also, but she was at least forty minutes out. This was on us. Carly and me. My daughter’s head soon came out—but then no more would follow. I had seen the birth of my first two daughters. After their head comes out, another push or two and the body smoothly follows. What’s going on? Why can’t I finish this? What am I doing wrong? Gwendolyn was turning purple. After we had fought through another contraction, a strong but gentle hand squeezed my shoulder. I looked up to a fireman staring down at me. “I can take it from here, if you want.” Yes. Yes, I want. I went around to the left side of my wife and went on doing what I was supposed to do: hold a leg and speak encouraging words. The fireman, also receiving instruction from 52
The Large and the Small the 9-1-1 operator, had to turn my daughter. Her little shoulder was stuck on my wife’s pelvic bone. When she came out she was quiet. Silent, actually. He put her on my wife’s stomach. I placed my cheek on my wife’s skin inches from my daughter, staring into her little purple face. Please cry. Oh god. Oh god baby, please cry. Please cry for me. Please.
photo by Audrey Chery
Pleasepleasepleaseplease. Finally, after about a lifetime, give or take, she let out a whimper, and then a wail. My relieved exhale felt as if I had just breathed out my entire soul. We maneuvered her up on Carly’s body so she could see her better. I kissed my wife. Then I fell backwards and sat with the wall keeping me up. I stayed there for a while. Blood on my hands, arms, and chest. It wasn’t until a paramedic, who was highly disappointed to arrive after the birth, asked me if I was okay that I finally got up. I told her I needed a minute. I gave my wife and daughter a little more love, then walked to the kitchen, and crumpled to the floor. I couldn’t seem to catch my breath and the kitchen seemed to be tilting oddly. I felt like I had come seconds away from killing my daughter. Laine saved the day with a Xanax and glass of water, and I was soon reunited with Carly and our newest addition. Carly always says she was amazed by my transition from Scared Husband to AllBusiness Soldier. She claims she saw a switch flip and she knew we were going to be okay. She was obviously delirious from pain. Fuck. I remember that like it was yesterday. 53
The Large and the Small Sometimes … I want to see the redwoods touching the sky. I want to disappear into the depths of the Carlsbad Caverns. I want to see the Great Pyramids. I want to be on a little boat in the middle of a giant ocean. I want to stand at the foot of the Rockies and see if I can glimpse the highest peaks. I want to look around and see nothing but Badlands. Sometimes … I just want to feel small and be surrounded by something that I can’t fathom, can’t bend, can’t move, and can’t hurt. Something that doesn’t rely on me. Something that views me as just another speck of sand among a million trillion grains. Something that doesn’t give a fuck about me. Me too. John Valles is a husband, father to three beautiful girls, career soldier, and full-time student at Arizona State University. He’s an aspiring writer and desires to teach high school English after he retires from military service.
The Invisible Poet Gutta’ Collective
It was an unusually sticky monsoon summer Phoenix day when I encountered a middle-aged Black gentleman in front of Circle-K wearing dirty clothes and heat exhaustion. He carried a backpack and a few wrinkled papers in his hand. Most street hustlers (otherwise known as people experiencing homelessness who we like to avoid) catch my attention. I used to be one. He asked me to buy a poem of his for $0.50. I have bought much less valuable for $0.50 and decided to buy his poem. I didn’t read it immediately. I honor the words of fellow poets in silence. It was written on a typewriter, titled “Untitled.” By the poem’s end, Phoenix was transformed into a living being, walking, and talking to me like a close friend. The poem’s rhythm and tone beautified the hot, polluted days of the urban summer desert and made me empathize with not only the poet who wrote it, but for the old, young, rich, poor, Black, white, Latinos living in Phoenix. It shook me; and in doing so, altered how I see and appreciate Phoenix. “Where are all the Real Poets?” I said, “Where are all the Real Phoenix Poets?” This isn’t a call to action, but an honest question. It’s hard to find real Poets who share their passion for poetry in a language to which people can relate. There are moments of reality, despair—and at times creative hope—in this rising Phoenix metropolis. But, when in search for a Real Phoenix Poet you won’t find him or her easily. The Black man’s poem reminded me of Ralph Ellison’s novel, the “Invisible Man.” Both have significantly shaped how I see the world. He became my Black superhero, the “Invisible Poet.” The images in his poem showed me the heart of Phoenix I once took for granted; the Eloteros, the tiny Chihuahua pushing the Walmart cart, the little Brown lady and her kids selling tamales on the corner, the Brown lady wearing a bright mauve hijab, the Black Bag Lady singing while walking down the street, the foots steps a child running for the metro bus, and the Black and Brown construction workers building the city in 110°. I am less interested in discussing where or even what determines a “Real Phoenix Poet.” It’s likely the conversation will lead to a debate rife with personal opinions that ultimately describe white men and/or women as poets and their white experience as 55
The Invisible Poet the only relevant material for poetry. These arguments, of course, are made by the very same poets that frequently profess their cliché love and lust for Arizona’s urban terrain in their poetry. The Invisible Poet’s words on paper encouraged me to remember the moment’s texture and sound when he approached me. The poem spoke of his daily run-ins with salty streets and angry pedestrians yelling, “Get a job!” His words invited me to see the world through his eyes. I saw the image of a man, not a “homeless person,” standing in the harsh sun reaching into the shadows attempting to make ends meet by sharing his poetry. What I want to know is where art enthusiasts might find poets who can move them to change their perspectives on the world. Poets don’t have to make their audience laugh to humanize our city’s despair. But, like other invisible poets in Phoenix use their candid vision to report the news in the street that may make audiences uncomfortable, but who, in the end, invite readers and listeners in their lives they may never otherwise encounter in their daily lives. Where are all the Real Phoenix Poets? I’ll tell you, you won’t only find real poets on Roosevelt Row or Grand Avenue: they aren’t invited into their pristine gallery spaces. You won’t find them at local bookstores as a featured poet. You will rarely find real poets in the halls of the ivory tower or on Phoenix’s exclusive social media groups. But you will find the Real Poets standing in front of Circle Ks and trudging through guttas’ in Phoenix’s ghettos and barrios selling poetry for $0.50. All you have to do is look. The Gutta’ Collective is a representation of the invisible poets, homing pigeons and physical and mental guttas’ that course through Phoenix’s ghettos and barrios sacrificing their lives to deliver their poetry. We want you to see us, stop for a moment, listen, and share with us your story, because at times it feels like Phoenix don’t love us, but we sure love Phoenix. — Marco Piña, Joel Salcido, Rashaad Thomas
Phoenix Don’t Love Me Marco Piña
Dear patron saint of home invasions and Swisher Sweets, a ghetto-birds wing’s cut across my gaze as it illuminates every dead-end street, to reveal elaborate Teocallis in back-yards, carelessly constructed from empty cases of Budweiser. Cracked lips and famished veins plea to the one who will listen. Please accept these magic eight-balls as our offering. Orphaned bullets and a raided meth-house require a daily exorcism. Is there a 55th Lotería card called “Pájaro en fuego,” does it melt Jordan’s and gold chains off corpses? Burn hot enough to light every two-dollar candle I will use in this life to remember the lost? I weep to a hand-me-down reprint of an unemployed hippie, whose eyes burn through me when I ask if it’s okay to go to the corner pharmacy and get something for the pain. Who blinks yes when I ask if substances could sweep away enough of a past to resurrect the dead, but blinks no when I ask him if it will happen in my lifetime. Marco Piña was born and raised in the village of Maryvale on Phoenix’s Westside. He is a reformed knucklehead and Veteran who communicates the unspeakable through poetry. He is an MFA candidate in poetry at Arizona State University. He is currently a poetry editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review (HFR), and will assume the duties of HFRs international editor next fall.
Phoenix don’t love you Joel Salcido
stray dogs of Aztlán, selling racked calling cards to Mexico for funds to numb the pain, gritting teeth with cocaine smiles, morning moustache cologned in Bud Light, the bronze lint flicked from the navel of the moon, another Angel ground in the dust, a head stuck on spun, a dull needle scabbing the veins of the avenues Phoenix don’t love paisas holding vigil at Home Depot, twelve Oaxacas huddled like the last supper praying for a sunrise of green in the endless night of concrete, wiring sweat money waiting for tortillas from home, another forsaken bastard of NAFTA, imported maíz wandering for shade in a desert sprawl of fractured cement Phoenix don’t love abuela’s at the bus stop nodding-off from the narcotic daze of jobs, arthritic legs folded like WIC vouchers, clutching EBT like lottery tickets, another matriarch enslaved by rent, spine on permanent bent, the question mark shadow cast by unending madrugadas Phoenix don’t love moms of nocturnal pilgrimages to the cathedrals of Capitalism, keeping the temples godly with skin anointed by cleaning solvents, in Wal-Mart dawns thumbing coupons with pumice hands holding a knock-off Louis Vuitton, another bride of pride resisting sleep struggling to keep the front and the lights on Phoenix don’t love the flickering Virgen candles of in-memory-of roadside altars, the bilingual JW’s littering barrio Saturday’s, the mute Maya peddling fake silk flowers in loud restaurants, the teenage couple pushing a stroller jaywalking across Indian School rushing to the lightrail, the perpetual occupiers of DES offices, the schizophrenics with apocalyptic beards extolling the imminence of the End from their curbside churches, the zealous congregations in detox clinics tithing for the salvation of Suboxone, the rotting leftovers of the offerings to Huitzilopochtli Phoenix don’t love 58
Phoenix don’t love you the collusions of pigeons bobbing affirmations to the gutter, the roof rat’s eyes glowing in the spotlight of helicopters, the gangs of street dogs barking metallic responses to the nightly fireworks, the alley cats in heat echoing the lusty wails of tires, the families of roaches furtive in their midnight office hours, another abandoned zoo of deportees from Eden Phoenix don’t love you brown boy speaking Los Angeles dialect, earthquake refugee too street to be smart enough to stay gone, another lost cause not worth betting on, an inevitable fuck-up, a prophetic tongue waiting to be swallowed by the sun—Phoenix don’t love. Joel Salcido was born a Los Angeles cockroach and smuggled to the Westside of Phoenix. He translates the poetry of the barrio pigeons into brujería. He is a poetry editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review and an MFA candidate in poetry at Arizona State University.
mural by Griselda Nevarez photo by Kristi McLaughlin
Phoenix Don’t Love Us No Rashaad Thomas
Phoenix struck thunderously with panic, wet herself across the city’s face beneath the seven a.m. stubble. Down I-10’s south shoulder, three cars drunk, hung over count ten moderate heels to toe on Baseline’s back – stripped a grown child dignity spineless, deadsleep chained to a WalMart shopping cart and plastic body pillow. At the intersection of El Central and 7 th Ave Bow-legged monks wore vegan nicotine-hides in a bus stop cage. Throat chants “Um Spare change to offer” “Om Mani Pad Me Hum” Riders donate smiles into bowls made of confederate songs and ignore the brown cymbals shaking, “Buy, sex, lose everything”
Phoenix Don’t Love Us No Transgender Jitterbug Jesus heads the corner boy altar call benediction. Claims he can walk on puddles and turn beer into urine resurrect enslaved Phoenicians building portable bathrooms over abandoned heroines in vacant parking lots
photo by Carlos Monge
Domestic terrorist victims wash-up, crushed dried – up canals, behind broken refrigerators emptied on early Thursday morning for leftovers, time capsules document Black, Brown and Indigenous death
Rashaad Thomas is a husband, father, USAF Veteran, poet, and Voices of Our Nation’s Art Foundation (VONA/Voices) alum, who resides in South Phoenix, Ariz. He is the recipient of the 2016 City of Phoenix Mayors Art Award for Language Artist. He is a Spring 2017 MacDowell Colony Fellow. His work can be found in the book Trayvon Martin, Race, and American Justice: Writing Wrong; The Rumpus; Heart Journal Online; and forthcoming in the Columbia Poetry Review Hayden Ferry Review and others.
No Comfort, No Sleep Kelsey Hess
I’m riding on a neon golf cart that is taking me up a dark, winding hill. I can see islander parties below me back on the mainland and fireworks shooting off into the starry night sky. I wonder if this visual is inspired by a trip in 2013 that I took to St. Maarten with a color palette from Inherent Vice. I watch dark green waves crash onto a beach from afar, littered with solo cups and tea lights. Spilled Bacardi sticks to partygoer’s feet as they stumble into the sand. I try to text my roommate: Amanda. Please come and wake me up. The sleep paralysis thing is happening again. I can’t focus my eyes on my phone. I need to wake up. I decide to jump off of the moving golf cart, landing face-first on an emerald green and white tile floor. My head begins to bleed; I feel nothing and my eyes slowly open. In October, I found myself trapped in an ultra-modern, bright white house with wallsized windows and plush beds. I had a feeling that this was my house, adorned with tall pitchers of ice water and slices of cantaloupe placed on blown-glass platters. But with a hazy memory, I look back on that day and don’t remember the sliced fruit and cold water, instead remembering the disappointment of splashing water on my face to no avail. My joints were sore and my body exhausted after jumping through a glass window, tumbling into a pool as glass shards and chlorine slowly choked me. I was dreaming beneath the surface of the water while desperately trying to find my way to transport myself back to my brightly lit Phoenix bedroom. A condition that 8 percent of the public is affected by, and yet stories of it travel like myths, something everyone has vaguely heard of and no one affected wants to bring up. A close friend of mine described her paralysis as one of the most haunting experiences of her life. She remembers similar symptoms; chain links holding her brain tight as her body turns pale and clammy. And I agreed and empathized, although we found no solace in each other’s pain. Is pain lessened when you have people to share it with? Usually I would argue yes. But the isolating, deeply personal nature of dreams – and the entrapment in them – is chilling 62
No Comfort, No Sleep and lonesome. Each time, I’ve woken up in a cold sweat, shaking as I find myself part of a sunny, beautiful, Arizona afternoon. And I stay very still as I try to regain my senses, my sense for real life, letting old, sticky tears stay glued to my cheeks as I check the time. Each time, I have been asleep for about ten minutes. I text Amanda, who has nothing comforting to say beyond I’m sorry :( Kelsey Austin Hess is a creative writer based in downtown Phoenix, Ariz. She writes creative nonfiction and poetry. She was one of the founding editors in launching rinky dink press in 2016 and her first-person essays have been published by Zócalo Public Square. Kelsey is a senior and digital journalism major at The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She moved to downtown Phoenix from Los Angeles in 2013 and is inspired by Arizona sunsets and the outline of the Westward Ho.
photo by Christen Cioffi
photo by Joe Pentycofe
Bike Rides Home #2 Kelsey Pinckney
The Deli across the street barely has a name anymore. The neon sign that proudly announces itself is only actually neon for six-letters. I try sounding out the lit letters as I lean down to unlock my bike from the makeshift bike rack outside my work—just a part of a metal fence that is kind of secured to the ground. “It’s Ow-teli,” a tall guy in torn clothes chuckles. He stops next to me, facing the sad Deli. “Ow-tel-ee,” he sounds out again and grins, looking to me with shiny eyes. I curse as I wiggle my bike lock open, and then stand up straight, lock and keys in one hand, my fingers clutching the bike handle in the other. I stare at the sign for a few seconds. “It’s a catchy name,” I nod. He laughs and takes a drag of his cigarette. “Nice bike,” he says as he swings the cigarette-free hand toward me, and then trudges past me, down the street. I shove my bike lock into my backpack, mount my bike, and ride off in the opposite direction of the tall man. My bike lock really sucks, but I’ll never replace it because the guy I’m dating told me once that it’s a lousy lock and that I should get a more secure one. “What do you mean? If I have so much trouble unlocking it, wouldn’t that mean that someone without the key would have an even harder time?” I smiled and cocked my head to the side. “No. Come on, they’ll just cut it,” he replied. I’m annoyed by how serious and concerned he is all the time. But I’m still going on dates with him and no one else. I stop at a stoplight and stare into the dark and empty restaurant next to me. I wonder how long it’ll take me to stop getting surprised every time I notice that all the local establishments are closed when I’m riding my bike home at night. These are dead hours. The hours that only exist for those who have decided to become nocturnal—risking sanity, safety, and cancer in the process. Everything else is dark and quiet, but we are awake and wondering if there’s anything we’re missing when the sun is 65
Bike Rides Home #2 out. I shake my head quickly, as if to shake the thought out from my ear, let it drop to the ground, crush it with the wheels of my bicycle. I look to my right and notice a couple of cockroaches on the sidewalk – the larger one is following the other really closely and keeps jumping forward and landing on top of it. The smaller one consistently wiggles out from under the larger one and continues forward. This cycle happens over and over until I notice one inexplicable tear rolling down my left cheek. I shake my head again and straighten up. “Cockroaches,” I mumble. I look both ways across the intersection and ride through it, running the red light and not giving a fuck. I turn onto my street and speed up. I almost pass my house but stop suddenly enough to dismount gracefully and take a few steps backward and onto my driveway. I walk my bike up to the front door and I feel like that Deli sign—like only one part of me is lit at any given time and none of the parts make any sense without the others. “Owtel-ee,” I murmur as I fish in my pocket for the house keys. Kelsey Pinckney was born and raised in southern California. In 2013, she moved from that desert to this one in Phoenix, Ariz. She serves as the managing editor of Four Chambers Press, which constantly feels too good to be true. She is addicted to literature, people, and the growing pains that come with “being a writer.” She is currently attending Arizona State University for her bachelor’s in community advocacy and social policy, and lives in the Garfield District with her cat, Truman (Capote).
photo by Carlos Monge
Underreporting Sexual Assault on College Campuses Sarah Hodges
When I was 12-years-old I was sexually assaulted by my 23-year-old male cousin. My aunt begged me to lie to the detectives about what happened, and turned a blind eye to how I was affected. My cousin and I were very close when this happened and part of me didnâ€™t want him to get in trouble, so I complied. For three years, I received no justice and no form of help from my family. A woman I consider a second mother, went as far to tell me that it was my fault because I let it happen. I only began to get closure when the case was reopened after finding a letter written by another victim explaining what happened to her. When brought to court, four other victims surfaced, making six total victims. My family ignored what happened to me because they loved the other family member too much to send him to prison. I experienced victim blaming, injustice, shame, self-image issues, depression, anxiety, and self-harm. I am only one of many to have been put through this situation or a similar experience. When I hear that yet another woman has been raped fire runs through my veins. Hearing that sexual assaults often are covered up by university reports infuriated me and I swear I could feel my heart crack. This was brought to light by the uproar surrounding the controversial court case that swept social media. This case involved a Stanford swimmer named Brock Turner, who had been shown to the public as a clean-cut athlete with amazing swim records. The photo circulating with this story was not his mugshot, but rather a yearbook photo. The media is corrupt and another issue when it comes to righting sexual assault. There are claims of wanting it to end and how awful it is; however, when push comes to shove, they donâ€™t really care as much as they claim to. Which is why they chose the good looking photo rather than the unkempt reality of Brock Turner when he violated a woman. He raped an unconscious, intoxicated woman behind a dumpster, yet the judge let him off with a six-month sentence (Stack, 2016). While the judge in a criminal court case may have been to blame for the ridiculous sentence, I want to know how the school responded. Did they expel him or merely suspend him for the length of his sentence? Are 67
photo by Audrey Chery
Underreporting Sexual Assault on College Campuses
they going to ensure he cannot attack any other students on campus? How does something so serious and traumatizing not make the list of priorities on college campuses? Why would there be so much corruption in the reporting of incidences? Is it to protect the college’s image and reputation? Do they genuinely lack the proper resources and/or systems? Is it the lack of reports from victims themselves? How can the number of reported sexual assaults be improved? Walking onto a college campus on move-in day is both exciting and terrifying. There’s a new-found sense of freedom and independence, as well as the harsh reality of being on your own in a new environment. Add to that the Red Zone. Most people, myself included, aren’t aware of this very important term. The Red Zone is the start of the semester until Thanksgiving break. This period is when freshmen, women especially, are most vulnerable to sexual assault on campus (Bogdanich, 2014). Sexual assault is a topic that should be well known to college students, including what to do, who to tell, etc. More often than people would like to believe, someone is sexually assaulted on campus and many assaults go unreported to the federal government in campus crime statistics. What is considered sexual assault? Rape and sexual harassment fall into this categorybut what exactly do those terms mean? Joanne Belknap and Edna Erez (2007) define rape as, “nonconsensual oral, anal, or vaginal penetration or nonconsensual oral sex performed on another’s genitals,” and continue to explain that most incidents are not forceful, but rather coercive and exploitive (p. 190). Sexual harassment is then defined as, “any attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship, or to subject person to unwanted sexual attention, or to punish a refusal to comply … Sexual harassment can also be physical and verbal/emotional and psychological” (p. 191). Any sort of inappropriate contact without 68
Underreporting Sexual Assault on College Campuses permission is sexual assault. Even if the person agrees at first but eventually changes their mind. The moment someone says “no”, any further contact is also sexual assault. Earlier I asked if schools lack the resources and/or systems required. The answer is yes. According to the research of an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Baltimore, Tara Richards, many schools do not have a Title IX coordinator or a confidential victims’ advocate. She reported that many don’t even have an assault prevention plan (Field, 2012). If a school does not have people in positions to specifically handle incidents, how can a student who was just assaulted feel comfortable to report it? How would they know who to go to? Not knowing what to do will deter a lot of people, because it would then be easier to just not do anything about it at all. Some may argue they would go to a friend or even confide in a professor or their Community Assistant, but if the school does not have prevention plans in place, it is safe to say they don’t train students, faculty, and staff on how to respond to such reports. A common belief is that strangers commit most rapes. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The Sexual Victimization of College Women Study revealed that in 36 percent of incidences the offender was a classmate, 34 percent was a friend, 24 percent was a current or former boyfriend, and 3 percent were acquaintances (Fisher et al., 2007, p. 70). That means that in 97 percent of incidences, the victim knew the offenders. This is a huge contributor to underreporting on campuses. Some women may not think they meant to hurt them because they are someone they’re familiar with, or perhaps they don’t want them to get into trouble for making a terrible mistake. Some may fear retaliation for tattling. For example, an 18-year-old freshman at a college in New York reported a football player for rape and was then threatened and harassed by football players on his team (Bogdanich, 2014). Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) should ensure the protection of a victim, and an offender, especially during an investigation. In addition, every college campus should have active victim empowerment, not just once in an orientation where it’ll be forgotten and/or ignored. This empowerment should also help people understand the importance of reporting sexual assault- especially by someone they know as those are the most common types of offenses- and should constantly be brought up around the campus and advertised to students. Thus, no matter what time of the year they or a friend is victimized, they’ll know how to respond. Another reason reporting may have some issues is the Clery Act. The Clery Act, passed in 1990, had intended for IHEs to address the issue of college men sexually assaulting college women, and was amended multiple times so that 1) IHEs were required to develop rights and policies for victims of sexual assault, 2) reporting requirements were clarified, and 3) schools were required to provide access to the names of registered sex offenders to campus community members. Yet, the threat of punishment for noncompliance is weak. (Shafer, 2007, p. 88, 91). The intentions of this act may be well, but it’s silly to amend an act so many times in hopes of addressing this issue and not put into place ways to ensure it will be followed. According to Shafer, 63 schools had violated this act in 1997 and no sanctions were levied (p. 91). Not doing anything to reinforce the Clery Act tells IHEs across the nation, “We would like you to do this, but if you don’t that’s OK”, which is like telling a college student “Writing this essay is important for your education, but I guess you don’t really need to because it won’t affect your grade if you don’t.” Despite the act trying to minimize the sexual assaults on college campuses, they’re actually enabling schools to 69
Underreporting Sexual Assault on College Campuses avoid confronting them, so many will and have been swept under the rug. An obvious reason for underreporting is at the individual level. Many times, a victim is not comfortable reporting what happened to them. The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study revealed the most common reasons given by women for not reporting a rape, or attempted rape includes: 1) not thinking it was serious enough; 2) not wanting others to know; 3) not wanting family to know; 4) not clear a crime was committed or harm was intended; 5) lack of proof; 6) the belief the police wouldn’t think it was serious enough; 7) not knowing how to report it (Fisher et al., 2007, p. 70). With distributed and easy to access information from the school to educate its community, most of these can be improved- such as not thinking it is serious, or that crime and harm were no intended. Not wanting others and family to know is a little more complicated as this involves a traumatized person not wanting to open up, but victim empowerment can also help here. Reinforce the term “survivor” in place of “victim” on posters and in speech. Build them up rather than shame them with label of “victim.” Underreporting, from both the victim and the IHE, sexual assault is a problem. So, to improve the numbers of reports, schools need to have the appropriate positions and training as well as systems and programs to deal with sexual assault on campus. Also, there needs to be an increase in awareness among everyone in the campus community. They need to know exactly what rape and sexual harassment are, what the Red Zone is, and that most sexual assault is committed by someone known to the victim not just some random stranger lurking in the darkness following you to your dorm. This one is a lot harder to have any say, but there definitely needs to be some changes to the Clery Act. Not having repercussions in place for violators is unacceptable. Finally, and most importantly, victim empowerment. Encourage “survivor”, because that’s what they are. They survived something terrible, but they will be alright. They will grow, and be even stronger for it. Survivors are stripped of part of their identity, everyone in their community should build them back up. Sexual assault does not define you, and the lack of reports does not mean what happened is unimportant. It means there must be growth and change in the way things are done.
Underreporting Sexual Assault on College Campuses
Belknap, J., & Erez, E. (2007). Chapter 10 Violence Against Women on College campuses: Rape, Intimate Partner Abuse, and Sexual Harassment. In Campus Crime (pp. 188-209). Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas. Bogdanich, W. (2014, July 12). Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t. The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/us/how-one-collegehandled-a-sexual-assault-complaint.html?_r=0 Field, K. (2015, December 11). How Much Can Campus-Crime Reports Tell Us About Sexual Assault?. Chronicle of Higher Education. p. A12. Fisher, B. S., Karjane, H. M., Cullen, F. T., Blevins, K. R., Santana, S. A., & Daigle, L. E. (2007). Chapter 4 Reporting Sexual Assault and the Clery Act: Situating Findings from the National Campus Sexual Assault Policy Study Within College Women’s Experiences. In Campus Crime (pp. 65-86). Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas. Shafer, L. K. (2007). Chapter 5 Women, Gender, and Safety on Campus: Reporting is not Enough. In Campus Crime (pp. 87-101). Springfield, Illinois: Charles C Thomas. Stack, L. (2016, June 6). Light Sentence for Brock Turner in Stanford Rape Case Draws Outrage. The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/07/ us/outrage-in-stanford-rape-case-over-dueling-statements-of-victim-and-attackers-father. html?_r&_r=0
photo by Autumn Hintze
Sarah Hodges is a freshman social work major at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. She hopes to work at the Department of Child Safety after graduation and eventually work in schools as the social worker. She loves writing and dabbles with poetry and fiction. Her nose is almost always in a book full of magic and romance.
photo by Ryan Krebs
Predators and Prey Laura De Blank
Winter evenings in the desert get dark by 6 o’clock, and as I lead my group of five adolescent males across the prison yard to the library, a solitary owl, with a wingspan as broad as the reach of my arms, angles its body to swoop between us. Its speed and silence scare the conversation right out of us. Summer evenings, after a monsoon rain, are filled with the mutterings of toads. The ground is covered with them and I have to watch my step. They blow themselves up as big as footballs trying to scare us away. The boys leave my side to dropkick them over the fence. I hurry everyone along as fast as I can. For ten years, I worked as a counselor under contract to the Department of Juvenile Corrections. For most of those years, my substance abuse groups and individual mental health sessions were held at Black Canyon School. My main job was at Tumbleweed—forty hours a week for 28 years. During those same years, I had a variety of second and third jobs that lasted about ten years apiece: instructor of psychology at Phoenix College, clinical consultant for the counseling model Functional Family Therapy, and chairman of the Board of Behavioral Health. At this time, 1985-1995, my second job was with the Department of Juvenile Corrections. Two evenings a week I drove up Route 17, past the Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers signs, and took the Happy Valley exit into the desert, following the narrow macadam road that lead to Black Canyon School. At that time, Black Canyon and Adobe Mountain, two contiguous juvenile prisons just north of Phoenix, euphemistically called schools, had slightly different populations. Adobe Mountain School held the general juvenile male offenders, and Black Canyon School held the mental health juvenile male offenders. Both prisons were surrounded by a high chain link fence topped with triple rolls of razor wire. A section of the fence separated the two prisons and the two sets of boys. Unlike my job of counseling delinquent youth at Tumbleweed, where I was usually greeted with a groan and the comment “Oh, it’s you again,” counseling at the prison was good for my morale. I would enter the prison gates, sign in, and walk across the yard of 73
Predators and Prey grass, sand, and pebbles to be greeted at the dormitory with cries of “Laura, Laura, Can I see you this evening? I need to talk to you.” Some of those voices didn’t even belong to my clients, just kids joining in the general din of excitement. The boys could either talk to me in the library or sit in their cells. It wasn’t my choice or theirs who came. Like every other aspect of their lives, access to counseling was decided by the prison officials. Each evening, between the hours of 5 and 9, I held one group session for five boys and then three individual sessions. Since no documents could leave the prison, at the end of each evening I sat at one of the tables in the small library room to write up my case notes. It helped to do it immediately so that the boys’ stories wouldn’t run together in my mind. If I had been allowed to wait until I got home I’d might have forgotten whether it was Kyle’s mother who shot herself and Shane’s mother who hung herself, or the other way around. The counseling groups were supposed to be about the prevention and reduction of substance abuse, but since the boys had not used drugs since getting locked up, they unanimously thought they no longer had a problem. No counselor wants to be the voice of doom in the face, however unrealistic, of client hope. I didn’t want to look at them gloomily and say, “Oh yes, you do indeed have a problem, and unless you attend my groups you are screwed.” Instead, I asked them where they would be if they weren’t locked up, and most gave the same response: “I’d be dead by now.” So we worked on the skills that would keep them alive: stopping to think before you act, how to make decisions, how to recognize options and make a plan, how to talk to others, how to solve problems or negotiate solutions without running away or numbing yourself. As they talked, the boys made a hundred comments that broke my heart, while I sat there listening with a calm I didn’t feel. Jeremy, looking in the bag of candy I’d brought each boy for Halloween, said, “Oh, a Pixie Stick. My step-father always gave me one of those to stop me crying after he molested me.” When he turned 14, Jeremy felt he was old enough to run away from his home and his stepfather. He stole a car that he didn’t know how to drive, and took it north on the highway. Rounding a bend, he lost control and crossed into oncoming traffic. The accident killed a pregnant woman. Without a decent adult in their lives, the boys became both predators and prey. After group was finished and I returned my five boys to the guards at their dorm, I would call for my first individual client. “Where’s Jake?” I asked the most approachable female guard when I couldn’t find him. “He was belligerent this afternoon, picking fights with everyone. He’s been sent to solitary and can’t come to your session,” Her eyes held a gleam of satisfaction in telling me this, more I thought in opposition to me than to Jake. “Can I go to him?” “I suppose so,” she replied without expression, “but they won’t let you in or him out.” If ever a kid could use a counseling session, I thought, it was when he was in solitary. On my way across the yard, I saw three guards talking together in a pool of light. I stopped to ask them whether I could take Jake to counseling or get him out early. They gave 74
photo by Carlos Monge
Predators and Prey me an immediate and unanimous “No.” They talked to me about rules, and the importance of them. I found Jake by peering through each high, small window in the row of solitary cells. If I stood on tiptoe I could see him, a pale, drooping boy in a barren room, sitting on the concrete frame of a bed molded to the floor. Even his limp blond hair had given up. I tapped the glass, and he looked up from his hands to see my head from the eyes up. He came over to the door and touched the thick glass. The only way we could hear each other was to shout. Looking down, I saw a two-inch gap where the door didn’t quite meet the threshold, perhaps for air or ease of mopping. I motioned Jake to sit down on the floor near it, and on my side I slid down too. Now, though we couldn’t see each other, we were close enough to the gap to talk. “Are you OK?” I asked. “Yeah, I wasn’t earlier, but I’m OK now. Can you tell them I’m calm and get me out of here?” “I’ve tried, Jake, but they tell me that you’ve got to take your consequence. They’ll let you out in 24 hours if you stay calm.” We talked a bit about what had upset him – nothing and everything. He’d had no mail and no visits, and another boy, noticing his disappointment, had laughed and said, “Your mother’s probably too busy fucking one of her boyfriends.” Jake punched him and everyone else he could reach. Slowly Jake and I ran out of words. We sat on the floor back to back, on either side of the door. I saw motion out of the corner of my eye and found the tips of Jake’s fingers extending toward me under the door. I laced my fingers in his, and we sat in his solitude. Laura de Blank has studied writing with Elizabeth McNeil since her retirement several years ago. She had plenty to write about — a husband, three children, three children in-law, seven grandchildren, and a wonderful career as a counselor with homeless and delinquent youth in Phoenix. Writing her stories has given her a deeper understanding of her past and the people who shaped her. It has also enhanced her present as she looks at the world with fresh curiosity and appreciation.
Pages Per Content, An Anti-Fascist Phoenix Zine editorial profile by Anna Flores
The creators of Pages Per Content wish to not disclose their full names. They are referred to, in his interview, as BJ and MF. BJ and MF produce the zine out of their home in west Phoenix and accept submissions mostly through their Facebook page: Pages Per Content. The three of us met on a weekday night at their home. They sat on the bed with their cats. BJ smoked a cigarette while MF scrolled his laptop and packed a bowl of marijuana. PPC is obviously controversial. Why? I mean it’s really the community that’s drawn to it that creates that image. It started off just being anti-capitalist because it is a DIY. It’s gotten more into politics here in Phoenix. The material has reached that point. People feel violent and the content reflects that. We don’t tell anyone what to write. We don’t edit anything out. We just let it happen. Our message has always been fuck fascism and fuck cops. It is controversial but people respond to it, they relate, and they write about it. (BJ) Have you witnessed emotional shifts in your submissions because of the intense political atmosphere here in Phoenix, especially in this area? I saw something change during Occupy. Pages Per Content was like in its second issue when Occupy happened and all of the writing, all of the art started to look political in that way and now, as soon as Donald Trump became President-elect, that following issue was full of Trump shit. (MFA) What are the goals for PPC? We want to take down the New Times. (BJ) PPC is a part of taking back what is ours and giving a space for people who feel strongly about what affects them to create. That has always been the goal: to create. And now that 76
Pages Per Content, An Anti-Fascist Phoenix Zine
photo by Anna Flores anti-fascism has become more of a mainstream thing … I mean there has always been anti-fa* content in this zine from the very beginning and now everyone is writing about it which is—I don’t mind… but they’ve gotten there through riding the wave. PPC is rooted in it. (MF) The creators of Pages Per Content have developed friendships and relationships with other anti-fa organizers and artists from cities on the east side. Its part of their overall plan to distribute the zine nationally and then therefore also internationally. What have you learned from having connections in Chicago and New York? The issue that was published right after the election— All of it was anti-trump but in different ways. There are certain political stances coming from each city. Phoenix is standoffish and Chicago is super liberal. New York—we are still working on getting more submissions from there but we are interested to see what will come out of that space. (MF)
photo by Anna Flores
Pages Per Content, An Anti-Fascist Phoenix Zine Who reads PPC? It’s always been the anarchists. Those are the people who like it the most and we have people who follow it on Facebook now so I can’t say they are all anarchists but it’s definitely people who are of that persuasion. Who are anti-government and anti-censorship. We don’t censor for social reasons either. We have received many pieces calling out certain social movements and groups and shit like that and we’ve even had people write in bashing “call-out” culture. (MF) We allow these people to have a discussion through PPC. It creates a dialogue that people may not be willing or able to have in person and through one issue you can see both sides of the conversation. (BJ) That is why print media is so important. (MF) And we do this in a way that’s not manipulative. You know, how news stations modify these conversations to the max in order to get a story out of it. We aren’t trying to build a story. We don’t do buzz words or click-bait titles. Whatever people have to say, they can say in Pages Per Content. It’s an open platform. (BJ) Do you think you’ve seen a rise in people wanting revolution? They’re not getting involved in, what I would consider, anarchy. (MF) They’re trying. But I don’t think a lot of people really understand what it means to radicalize yourself in a productive way. Everyone is very emotional right now and they know things are fucked. But people who are leaning toward radicalization have never had to think this hard about the state of things. (BJ) What PPC is trying to do as well is brainstorming for productive ideas to dismantle the system. (MF) Who submits? Chicago, New York, Germany, Chile, other countries and of course, people who live here, who are affected by the injustices of this state. (BJ) Anything else you’d like to say? Fuck America. (MF) PPC is submission based. That is what is important. If we stand for anything we want people to liberate themselves from propaganda. The true way to alleviate people from the propaganda is to show facts and honesty and free expression. No censorship, no guiding ideologies, and most importantly, having a place to challenge ideas. You know all these other anti-fa zines that I’m sure will pop up over the next couple of years will just be the same shit over and over again. You’re going to get sick of seeing Trump with a fucking Hitler mustache. We can be part of something without selling yourself to the idea. You don’t have to be obedient. If someone wants to challenge anti-fascist ideas in a constructive way, I mean, we will print it. I mean, no Nazi is going to submit to us. (MF) But if they do? If a nazi submits to PPC, what would happen? Then we’ll ask them for their address … So we can mail them a few copies. And all their other information. (BJ) 80
Pages Per Content, An Anti-Fascist Phoenix Zine Any last thoughts? PPC encourages people to think for themselves especially when they become political people. You have to keep questioning all movements. People need to be faced with new ideas, they need to challenge and evolve. We want to push a platform that will force people to think for themselves. Tell us whatever the fuck you want to say. (BJ) We are not good people for doing this. We arenâ€™t trying to use this as a social project for our own expressive purposes. PPC accepts that people who submit or read us are flawed human beings trying to navigate our way through a fucked-up world. (MF) MF and BJ dedicate their daily time and energy into creating discourse and encouraging action against the injustices that touch the marginalized due to fascism and capitalist oppression. They allow their zine to carry out these conversations in a way that is hard, brutal, and beautiful. They have managed to create a community of people willing to not only listen or speak, but to move. *Anti-fa= Anti-fascism or Anti-fascist
photo by Autumn Hintze
Anna Flores is an undergraduate student at ASU majoring in English. She plans to attend law school and maintains an online poetry portfolio. She writes about her experience as a bicultural woman living in America and also reflects on the social marginalization of minorities through her writing. She is passionate about community and art in Phoenix and plans to continue participating in its growth.
Mixed Up Grammar Lesson with the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Shawnte Orion
Betsy DeVos does not lay before the Senate hearing committee she lies Shawnte Orion has published a recent book of poetry The Existentialist Cookbook (NYQBooks) and a new chapbook Faithful as the Ground (Five Oaks Press). His poems have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Barrelhouse, Georgetown Review, and New York Quarterly. He has been invited to read at bookstores, bars, universities, hair salons, museums, and laundromats. He co-hosts the monthly Caffeine Corridor Poetry Series. batteredhive.blogspot.com
photo by Christen Cioffi
The Doll House Dorothy DiRienzi
When I become pregnant with my daughter in 1974, we live in a South Philadelphia apartment in a neighborhood in transition, where racial tensions simmer, empty storefronts proliferate, and more and more houses become derelict. I don’t want to raise a child here; I am due to deliver in five more months. With a personal loan from a local bank, we purchase a small house close to my work. On a street so small no parking is allowed, in a house so small (688 square feet) it is essentially two rooms stacked one on top of the other, plus a basement and a kitchen shed tacked on the back. The upstairs splits into two tiny bedrooms, with a closet-sized bathroom in one. Our double bed takes up most of our room in the back, and Anthony builds shelving in the front bedroom, where the crib and limited storage will be. A doll house, easy to child-proof. Anthony rips out tacky paneling on the first floor, paints the plaster walls white, and lays linoleum tiles throughout. We hang weavings and indoor plants—“Ah, the California look” one neighbor says. “Are you Italian?” Catherine, my next door neighbor, asks me. “You don’t sound Italian.” Anthony’s relatives in Italy kept asking the same thing last year. Catherine is the self-elected head of the street cleaning committee. Every Friday in the summer she opens the hydrant in front of her house around 10 a.m., and the housewives of the street come out with pails and brushes to scrub their granite stoops. Bella Vista is a small area in South Philadelphia, not far from my workplace at a medical textbook publishing house on Washington Square. A very poor area in the mid1800s, often settled by former slaves and Irish immigrants, it gradually became a haven for Italian immigrants in the late 1800s. We speculate that the homes on St. Albans between 7th and 8th Streets might once have housed servants for the larger houses on surrounding streets. We are told it was built around the time of the Civil War. 84
photo by chanelle sinclair 85
The Doll House South Street, only a few blocks north, had been a largely Jewish mercantile community, but plans for constructing an expressway there and population movements to the suburbs drove them out, making properties affordable for artists, coffee houses, and nascent galleries and theaters. We have lots of artist friends in the area. After the expressway plans are scrapped, Bella Vista becomes gentrified, appealing to yuppies who can’t afford the escalating prices of the abutting Society Hill or Center City properties. Italians join the exodus to the suburbs of South Jersey. We buy this house for $9,000. Our neighbors think that is outrageously high; no one has spent more than $4 or $5 thousand for these tiny homes. As most of our neighbors are the children or grandchildren of other neighbors, they believe we were bamboozled. “Pretty,” she says. The printed tin dollhouse sits on our dining table in the little St. Albans Street house. I was up late last night fixing it up: using a lace trim for window curtains, arranging all the furniture, and a woven bookmark scrap to use as a rug. I found the house at a thrift store on South Street a month ago. Just a few bucks, and since I had not yet been able to make a house—all the patterns I bought, and the how-to books—this would do. And it was just like the one I had as a kid. Cheap, but OK. I searched all over downtown for dollhouse furniture, and I’m pleased. I am home from work today. The tension in the office is tangible. It tastes bitter, and working with my manager Mary goes straight to my gut, twisting my stomach into knotted cords. We all keep our heads down, trying not to catch her eye. I call in sick, because I am. Sick of the worry, the fear. Of keeping it all together—the job, home, sufficient money coming in. Of finding yet another person to care for my daughter while I am at work. She is pleased with the house. I give her the man and the woman, little plastic figures with bendable arms and legs. They can sit in the chairs as well as stand straight, not like the clothespin dolls I had for my house, so stiff they couldn’t use their plastic sofa. This has become my fantasy home, with wonderful things and wonderful parents. No one fights here. “Pretty,” she said. I will give her everything I missed: love and no endless arguments between her father and me. She will live my fantasy childhood. Eighteen years later, as she crosses the country by train with a hoodlum and stolen money, my therapist looks at me for a long time. “I know,” I say, through tears and a bubble of mucus. “I know. I know … She isn’t me.” Dorothy DiRienzi has published poetry and essays in many journals since 1987. She has an MFA in creative writing from Arizona State University, and is a retired editor/publisher of the University Policy Manuals Group at ASU. She previously worked as an editor and indexer of medical reference and textbook titles in Philadelphia, Pa. for 38 years.
I have heard the earth sing longer than the song* Eli Burk
Before I watched you die, the silk and flare of your red scarf singing remind[ed] me of that Alabama church. But luxury begins in Charleston, out in the wild, silence among their bodies in the moonlight. A powerful image the bulletâ€” something so dangerous waits for me. The small minority, closer to an illusion, carried along a continentâ€™s heart, wakening in the blindness of redemption. The floodwaters pressing her gift like flowers and persistent mysteries, as if the two were the same thing.
I have heard the earth sing longer than the song For something so dangerous, I let the red scarf go. Can’t sing if you can’t breathe, can you? *A cento is a poem comprised of lines from other poems. This cento features the following poems: “Heartbeats” by Melvin Dixon, “Elegy for a Year” by Joseph Fasano, “American History” by Michael S. Harper, “Hurricane” by Yona Harvey, “You Make the Culture” by Amy King, “Porcelain” by Carl Phillips, “Wild Silk” by Brian Russell, “Mask” by Carl Sandburg, “the bullet was a girl” by Danez Smith, “Continuum” by Anne Waldman Eli Burk’s love for creative writing came at a young age. Now in his fourth year at Arizona State University, Burk’s love of writing has transitioned stylistically from journalism, to music and now into poetry. In his free time Burk enjoys dabbling in music production, coaching the game of basketball and spending time with his family throughout the Phoenix area. Burk will graduate from Arizona State University in the summer of 2017 with a degree in community sports management.
photo by Joe Pentycofe 88
Bad Brain Sophie Blaylock
Until I was eleven, I was told I had an excellent brainâ€”good grades, avid reader, all the hallmarks of intelligence that must add up to a truly excellent brain, definitely one that was better than average. When I was eleven, a weight settled in my brain, making it curve in and around itself, loop endlessly in thoughts that only I could follow, get caught in cycles to the exclusion of everything else around me. I no longer had a good brain. That same year, I was put in a support group, one designed to teach autistic kids like me the social niceties that our brains were too heavy to notice. We were told the autism was a bad brain overlapping our own, but our good brains were underneath, we just needed to find the motivation to unearth them. I never knew how to say I couldnâ€™t tell the difference between my brain and the bad brain. This was my first exposure to a group made up of other people with their own weights to carry. I spent most of my adolescence searching for groups of people like me, for people with bad brains, with weights to carry. When I was sixteen, another weight settled on my brain, making it whisper sweet thoughts of oblivion, of not existing, of being smothered. I spent five years of my life learning how to carry one weight, only for another to make its home in my head. That same year, I found online support groups, made of people carrying their own weights, dealing with their own bad brains. I found friends in the earliest chat groups, AOL, Reddit before it was even called Reddit. We talked about abusive relationships, bad sex, smoking, all the different ways of hurting ourselves that made the weight lighter.
photo by Christen Cioffi
Bad Brain It was freeing, screaming into the void only to find that others were there to catch my words or scream along with me, lifting the weight from my brain, at least for a while. Thoughts of death were easier to carry when I knew I had friends half a world away waiting to take them from me. Over time I drifted away from those spaces, trying to heft my weights on my own, but the thing with depression is that it fluctuates. Light days made me feel like I had never needed those groups at all; heavy days were spent aching for help, buried under the boulders of my own making. When I was 21, I was invited to be a member of an online group of women, all dealing with their own bad brains. For the first time, I had more than enough support to carry my weights. For the first time, I was in the position where I could help others carry theirs. We talked about relationships, bad sex, good sex, depression. We freely shared understanding for girls struggling with school, tips for finding jobs, commiseration when one of us lost a loved one. The feeling was like those early spaces online, except I knew these women, knew their faces, their stories. The realization that others are there to support me, is mindblowing, is full-body shivers, like the moment just before crying. The feeling of weightlessness, for the first time in a decade, makes me break down. Sophie Blaylock is a Phoenix transplant and lover of reading, writing, and photography. She is currently a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and hopes to use her degree to expand the perspectives of others. When not in classes, she spends her time biking around downtown Phoenix, going to local writing events and trying to keep a garden alive in 100-degree weather.
photo by Christen Cioffi
Diary Entries of a Fifth-Grade Girl Reem Alsharbaji
Dear Diary, Do you ever wake up questioning if you even slept? Like I know I put my head down, but did I even sleep? Must be the nerves. Today I’m starting school in America. It’s been a total of three days since I’ve been back from Jordan. I feel like I don’t belong here anymore. Everything feels different. This is where I’ve lived majority of my life, why do I feel like this? I’ve walked these same floors but yet now it feels unfamiliar under my feet. I feel misplaced. Like I’ve been put in a movie with no script. Oh well gotta go get ready for school. Wish me luck! P.S. Mom made chocolate chip pancakes so I know it’s going to be a good day! Dear Diary, Today was my first day of fifth grade. My mom let me ride my purple bike to school. I pulled up in front of the building and froze. Panic rose in my body as I stood staring blankly at the building in front of me. I forced my Jell-O legs off of my bike and parked it at the bike rack. I gave myself a little pep-talk and walked in. What was wrong with me? It’s just school. You can do this! Just don’t tell anyone that you just returned from Jordan. I don’t want them to think I’m too different. I followed my classmates into my new classroom for the year. I looked around and compared it to my old class back in Jordan. What a difference. The almost bare stone walls were replaced with numerous colorful posters. The green dirty chalk board was replaced with a bright white new white board. New class. New life. My teacher introduced herself as Mrs. Smith. She’s tall and young, bursting with energy. Today was just a fun day. We introduced our selves to the class. We had to say our name, favorite color, and what school we came from. When it came to my turn I said my name, my favorite color, and that I went to a school close by (lies!)
Diary Entries of a Fifth-Grade Girl Dear Diary, It’s been awhile since I’ve written. You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had! I have to rant. Today my teacher called me to her desk before recess. I was so scared. I felt like the air had been sucked out of the room! It took all of my energy to walk up to her desk. I thought I had did something wrong in class. Oh my mom would have killed me! But you wouldn’t believe what she told me! Apparently my mom had talked to her because she wanted to know how I was doing. She could’ve just asked me! My teacher and her decided to take me out of my class and put me in this program for students who have just moved to America. So much for blending in! Dear Diary, Oh I have so much to write about today! It was my first day in the program. And I hated it! The classroom was so tiny it was like a shoebox! There were no desks just one long table so that we were all forced to sit together The walls were plain white with only one small window into the outside world. Don’t even get me started on the teacher! She had bright orange curly hair and wore bright clothes to match. But her voice; It was weird. It was as if her voice was taken from that one surfer dude in that Disney movie I like a lot, and put it in her body. It was so calm and slow, like she had no energy. It made me want to fall asleep. It was going to be a very long year. P.S. She can’t even pronounce any of our names! Dear Diary, Ugh my new teacher is going to drive me insane! She just keeps on giving me worksheet after worksheet I’m going to lose my mind. It’s like she’s trying to make me hate it. When we’re not doing worksheets we’re using flashcards. She puts a card up and we have to say what’s on it. BORING! I can’t be the only one in here who hates this style of learning! There’s has to be a different way she can teach us that doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out strand by strand. Dear Diary, Today a group of girls saw me after class and asked me why I haven’t been coming anymore. I freaked out. What am I going to say? I don’t want them to think I’m stupid and can’t speak English! I was lucky because at that very moment a soccer ball came flying at our heads and took the attention away from me. WHEW! I never been so grateful for an old, flat soccer ball in my life. Dear Diary, I actually have something nice to write about today. I made friends. There’s these two Haitian twins I talked to today. They’re so funny and love to talk. They’re the type of twins who look identical and finish each other’s sentences. They make me want to have a twin. We hung out during recess and I taught them a new double-dutch move and they taught me how to hang on the monkey bars with only my legs. It made me feel like my body was floating in the air and all my worries just disappeared. It’s so hard to explain, but it felt amazing! (Maybe I’ll grow up to be a gymnast?) Anyways the twins are really awesome! 95
photo by Autumn Hintze
Diary Entries of a Fifth-Grade Girl
They just moved to America and are learning English little by little and they’re doing great! I think they’re smart and brave. Most of the kids are learning English. It must be so hard. When I moved to Jordan last year I at least knew a little Arabic. P.S My teacher realized that I work a lot quicker than the other kids so she’s going to give me more advanced worksheets. Dear Diary, I think I’ve been looking at this in the wrong way. Maybe I should be more positive? It’s been a couple months already. I’ve become pretty close to a lot of these kids and they’re awesome! I just wish we didn’t always have to work on worksheets! Oh well, only a couple more months left! I can do this. Dear Diary, Today my teacher told me I have to pass a test to “graduate” from the program. If I pass I get to join my old homeroom class the following year! I’m going to make sure I pass. I’m going to definitely study hard. Dear diary, How many of these worksheets exist? Gosh! That’s all I can talk about today. My hand is too exhausted. I feel like I rewrote the entire dictionary! Dear Diary, Only one month of school left! This year felt so fast! I can’t believe I’m going to be in sixth grade next year. I feel so grown maybe my parents will give me a cell phone. Ayways, my Haitian friends are moving to a new school next year because they’re 96
Diary Entries of a Fifth-Grade Girl moving. I’m really going to miss them. Even though we only met this year, I feel like I’ve known them for years. They have that kind of impact you know? I know for sure now, I have to pass the test because I can’t even imagine surviving that program without them. Dear Diary, It’s the last week of school and today our teacher let us have a party and bring food, snacks, and drinks. A lot of kids brought food from their countries. Wow our class is diverse! My mom and I spent the morning blending chick peas for the hummus I brought. The whole house smelled like chickpeas and cumin. I made sure I brought enough. It was pretty fun and I was really full by the end of the day! P.S. I’ve been hinting at my parents for a phone. I don’t know if they’re getting the message. Dear Diary, I’m sorry I haven’t been writing this past week, I’ve been stressing out over my grade on the test. I hope I did well. The test felt pretty easy but maybe it was too easy? Did I overthink the questions? UGH, it took me less than a half hour to take! Did I rush it? My parents are going to be worried if I don’t pass. Dear Diary, WOOOHHHH! Today was the best day ever! My teacher called me to her desk after class and I freaked out again! She had my test in her hand. It felt like the last time all over again! These walks never ended well but not this time! This time she told me I passed and I can leave the program if I want to. I was so happy; I didn’t hear anything she said after that. I saw her mouth move but no voice came out. I told my mom as soon as I got home and she was so proud of me. She took me for ice cream at Dairy Queen to celebrate. I got the vanilla ice cream dipped in hard chocolate, my favorite! Today was the best day ever. P.S. MY PARENTS ARE BUYING ME MY FIRST PHONE!!! I can’t believe I just found my diary from when I was in fifth grade! Wow, I have grown a lot as a writer since then. Honestly, I have that program to thank. The program has proven to me that through hard work I can achieve anything I set my mind to. Cheesy, I know. However, it is true and this program solidified this ideology for me. In Brandt’s text, “Sponsors of Literacy”, he defined a sponsor as “Any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach, model, as well as recruit, regulate, suppress, or withhold literacy.” He also mentions how some institutions unintentionally become our sponsors. I believe that the program was my literary sponsor because it enabled me to reach my literacy potential. The other students who were in the program were a huge inspiration for me. They came to America knowing little to no English however it never stopped them from working twice as hard as the average fifth grader and they were never shy about expressing where they came from. They inspired me every day to work harder in achieving my goals even if they were small. Rereading this diary, I now realize this more than when I was young.
Indigenous: The Forgotten War for a Seat at the Table Hayden Blue
“Some people just need killing … Indians were a pest who needed to be removed from the land in order for people to live there.” — anonymous (from a 2017 conversation) She’s sitting cross-legged across the table from me, feigning comfortability between bites of pizza in a matching track suit and loose braid. She laughs half-heartedly as she reads the words I handed her, turquoise dripping from the ears her smile usually reaches. It isn’t a sincere laugh, because nothing is funny. It’s the quiet laugh of practiced casualness in the face of blatant racism. Brooke Curleyhair is Diné (din-eh), a member of a tribe more commonly referred to as Navajo, and incorrectly labeled as Indian — she is not from India. Hers is a heritage grounded in one of the largest of the five hundred sixty-two federally recognized indigenous tribes in the United States. At twenty, the coal miners miner’s daughter from the small town of Kayenta, on the Navajo Reservation, is a junior at Arizona State University specializing in education, an accomplished athlete, and a recipient of the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship. She has also been a resident of the downtown Phoenix community for the last three years. The textual venom I handed her was written publicly by a member of that larger Phoenix community just a few short months ago. It is one of many examples of a society wherein members of her own community speak of her people as though they have disappeared from the face of the Earth. While many, if not most, non-natives certainly wouldn’t echo those exact sentiments, they remain indicative of a much more subversive issue. One that impacts us all, Native, and non-native alike. We, as a community, exist within minutes and hours of twenty-two distinctive indigenous tribes without ever having to leave the borders of the state of Arizona. Our cities and towns touch some of the most abject poverty in the whole of the developed world. Many indigenous persons travel hours just to reach a grocery store, and even further to meet 98
Indigenous: The Forgotten War for a Seat at the Table the mandated educational requirements of the Federal Government by simple attendance in school K-12. And all of this rarely acknowledged without a sensationalized headline plastered across the screen of our iPhones. But for Brooke and her people, these issues aren’t a sensation, or even uncommon. They simply are. They are individuals that faced genocide at the advance of an invading army, and whom were forcibly relocated again, and again, by means of violence and political intrigue. They are a people missing from the conversation in a nation obsessed with race and class, and a local community that prides itself on diversity, inclusivity, and altruism. A people, despite the centuries-long plenary authority of the United States Federal Government, that only gained citizenship in 1924, the right to vote in 1957, and the right to practice their religion in 1978. We as a community, and a country, have forgotten a people relegated to unfamiliar lands and engineered poverty across the nation. Indigenous population’s rich histories, cultures, and identities hidden in a campaign of forced invisibility through caricaturing, mythologizing, and assimilation. We have forgotten the people that came before, whose voices have been plastered over in a matte of cultural obscurity to the point of not being real — not being human. But Brooke is very real, and so are her people. And our blindness, unintentional or otherwise, disadvantages us all. I sat down with Brooke to discuss what, if any, influence this has on her life and her goals, and what it’s like to be a Native woman in this larger community beyond the borders of her home. HB: Did you always want to be a teacher? BC: Graduating [high school] I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I didn’t know that I wanted to go to college. I always thought that something would happen with sports. That I would get a basketball scholarship, or a volleyball scholarship. I never thought it was going to be education. That would have been my last thought. When I realized it [sports] wasn’t going to happen, I leaned toward academics. But even then, I wouldn’t have been fully successful without mentors. Specifically, Ms. Fuller, God bless her soul. HB: What did she teach? BC: She taught honors English my sophomore year. Then she moved over to the middle school to work in administration, but she still did after-school sessions applying for colleges and scholarships, because nobody else had the same knowledge about it, or wouldn’t have as willingly put aside time to do it. I went in one day after school, and she had already filled out an NAU application for me, and a UofA application, and an ASU application and was like, “Okay, it’s done. Just put in your personal information now.” And I was like, “I don’t know if I want to do this.” HB: Are you the first one in your family to attend college? 99
Indigenous: The Forgotten War for a Seat at the Table BC: A four-year university, yes. HB: So, it’s Freshmen year: you’re here, you’re declared as an Exercise and Wellness major. What was your impression of that first semester? BC: First of all, in my classes, and even on my floor, it was just myself and one Hispanic girl. We were the only two people of color. So that was the first thing that had taken me aback. HB: Was Phoenix a new experience? BC: Not necessarily, but the downtown campus was extensively new. It wasn’t like anything I expected it to be. We had mostly stuck to the suburbs on previous trips. HB: You lived in the downtown dorms your first year. Did you spend a lot of time outside of Taylor Place, and the classroom? BC: Not a lot. Just because I didn’t know how to incorporate myself into the community, and everywhere I went it kind of felt like people were looking at me. Especially in my classes, being female as well, it was different to see a brown female person in a S.T.E.M. field. But as far as ASU overall, my first week and a half I could not sleep at all. You know that, on the Rez, once it’s seven or eight and the sun goes down, there are like no lights on – just here and there. So, it was difficult to see that there were all these lights on, and that people didn’t go to sleep at “bed time”. HB: When did you decide to switch to Education? BC: The end of my first year. I mean, it was easy and I wasn’t failing at all. The curriculum was rigorous, but ASU gives you a lot of help. I just overall wasn’t happy. I could do it, but I dreaded going to labs, and I started to find comfort in writing lab reports. It was what I knew, and I loved to write. I also found that I was leisure reading on the side when I should really have been studying for a lab. I think that literature in general – I love it so much. Living on the Rez is so secluded, you don’t experience things you’d experience in other parts of the world. Literature in general was an outlet. I felt like reading different books I had seen, like, half the world. HB: So, literature was already an outlet for you, but you were also very social in high school. BC: Yeah. I feel like I dove into sports because that’s what’s expected in my family. When it came down to it, my parents put a huge weight on both [academics and sports]. Growing up it was, “Make sure you have good grades, but make sure you’re excelling on the court as well.” HB: Was it your parents’ hope for you that you left the reservation? 100
Indigenous: The Forgotten War for a Seat at the Table BC: Yeah, I think they hoped that I would get off the reservation and “do something” with my life. Regardless of the outcome, they absolutely wanted me to get some form of education. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Brooke applied for, and was awarded, the Last Dollar Scholarship. The award not only covers the entirety of Brookes undergraduate collegiate costs, but advanced degrees up to ten years of education in areas designated by the Foundation, including S.T.E.M. fields, and education. According to US News and World Report, in 2014 only 67 percent of Native students nationally graduated high school, a full seventeen points lower than the national average. High School graduation rates at schools run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior that manages the Federal Government’s legal and political interactions with Native tribes, hover at an astoundingly low 53 percent. Only 9.3 percent move on to higher education. Lack of opportunity, mismanagement at the highest levels, and some of the worst funding in the developed world continue to contribute to the educational crisis within Native borders, and beyond. However, many bright young Natives return home prior to the end of their first year, and not for a lack of funding, aptitude, or desire. How, in a community as diverse as Phoenix and a university home to thousands of foreign exchange students from all over the globe, can this be possible? HB: The downtown Phoenix community prides itself on being inclusive and nonhomogeneous. Do you find that to be true for you personally? BC: I mean, I think that ASU itself prides itself on diversity. I did an interview on student life and they plastered me on the front page. I think that anytime they see they have this minority student striving they’re going to plaster it. HB: You hinted earlier that prevailing attitudes and preconceptions towards you and your people, not just as a woman, but a native woman, impacts you and your academic success, and ability to socialize outside of the academic environment. BC: Yeah, I think so. I mean, if I want to socialize, I will. But when you introduce yourself like, “Hey, I’m Brooke Curleyhair”, and the first thing I’m asked is, “Oh, how does that happen”, and it’s like, “Oh, well I’m Native,” and then it’s like, boom, stereotype, stereotype, stereotype, stereotype, is this true, is that true. I feel like you’re made into an everyman character; basically the spokesperson for all Native American people. Your judgements and outlook on the community is how it is for all Native Americans HB: So, that happens outside of the classroom? BC: Yeah, definitely. But I don’t think it’s limited to just Native American people, because I feel a lot of people don’t see me as Native American, they see me as Hispanic being that we’re in Arizona. Whenever we’re out and about we do see people staring at us, and people will speak Spanish to us. I have a lot of respect for the Hispanic/Latino community, so being mistaken as Mexican I don’t find offensive. 101
photo by chanelle sinclair
Indigenous: The Forgotten War for a Seat at the Table I feel like being identified as a minority in the city of Phoenix is the most I can ask for. Could it be better? Yeah. Being an athlete [in high school], and being to state tournaments, and playing preparatory Catholic schools, and other private institutions, being in that situation, and representing the Navajo nation, there are a ton of racial stereotypes that happen. So, it isn’t new to me. We would hear things like, “beat them, they’re just dirty natives,” or, “Oh, they’re good because there is nothing else to do on the reservation. All they do is dedicate their lives to sports because they’re not smart, so it’s ok that you lost.” HB: And what about now? BC: Yeah, of course. The first time it happened to me directly I was shocked. Very, very shocked. I was taken aback by the amount of ignorance that people can have, and overall the lack of cultural knowledge. Also, my roommate my first year, when she found out I was Native, couldn’t believe it. And it just blew my mind because she’s from Yavapai county. There’s Yavapai natives around her all the time. HB: Do you feel like an “other” living down here? BC: As far as when I’m downtown, or in Tempe, I think that I definitely am. And that can be in a variety of ways. I think I’m an “other” in the sense that I’m Native, I’m female, and I’m in college. But, specifically, as just a Native, I think that I am, yes. HB: How does it impact you knowing that there are 175,000 of you just a few hours away, but people here seem to have no idea what you are, who you are, other than the things they’ve seen in cartoons and westerns. BC: It bothers me a lot. I think one of the biggest things that bothers me is that the Grand Canyon is basically the opiate of Arizona. It’s plastered anywhere and everywhere it can be, but the Grand Canyon is a huge part of the reservation on both ends. I mean, there are the Supai natives that live in the Grand Canyon, and no one even acknowledges that, it’s just about the waterfalls. And I think that is extremely irritating. And I think it’s extremely irritating that people categorize Arizona as a Republican state when something like half of the state is a reservation land. So, I think that in a big sense, we are completely overlooked. I feel like people don’t see anything beyond Tucson to Prescott. HB: Do you think that impacts your daily life? Especially as a younger woman experiencing all this for the first time.
BC: Yeah. I think that coming down here I thought that I have to see, for a lack of a better analogy, the glass half-full. Just because I can take in any situation, and know that, even if someone is racially stereotyping me, I can teach them rather than be
photo by chanelle sinclair
Indigenous: The Forgotten War for a Seat at the Table upset about it. So I do think I take it into my daily life whenever I have the opportunity to teach someone about myself or my culture in general. I’ll do it. HB: Is the glass still half-full three years later? BC: Given the current political situation, and meeting people who have different views, and meeting people who empower me, it does give me more of an angry feeling. More of a half-empty perspective. But, then I do have to think about exactly what it is that I’m fighting for. HB: There are five to six million people in the Phoenix area, most of whom aren’t Native. Do you think that there is opportunity here to shine light on your people, and improve things for them if there were better understanding? BC: I think that - and obviously this is a generalization - but I don’t think anyone would really care unless it affected them. There’s the whole Dakota Access Pipeline thing, for example. This could ruin the water for several hundred thousand people, not just Native Americans themselves, but it’s not something that people care about. Once the water is polluted, and hopefully it’s not, then they’ll care. But Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water. Unless it affects the “correct” people, then, they’ll care. I think when I came to Phoenix I was completely optimistic. I thought that going into a new environment, I have something to prove and something to show. Now that I’ve been here for a while, it’s more that I’ve been taught that I need to worry about myself. Brooke’s sentiments are seemingly common amongst her people, and indigenous peoples across the nation. Talents aside, she attributes much of her willingness to continue through to graduation to her ability to keep close ties with her family, to have a piece of her home here with her in her sisters and cousins. Even more, she remembers where she came from. She remembers who she’s fighting for, and the opportunities she wants to provide her people, her peers. HB: What advice would you give to a student in your [Native] community going to ASU downtown as a freshman?
Indigenous: The Forgotten War for a Seat at the Table BC: Sleep with the lights on for a whole week. No [laughing]. I would tell them to be prepared in every aspect that you can. Mentally, physically, culturally, spiritually. And do not forget what you’re doing it for. A big part of my fourth semester I fell away from my end goal, from why I was doing this, and I felt like I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons. I was just doing it for myself. But, in reality, I’m doing this for the future students that I’m going to teach. I’m doing this because education on the reservation is a joke, and I need to do everything in my power to make it better. HB: What do you want to do when you return home [to the Reservation]? You said you wanted to teach at the high school level? BC: I do, and I know that Monument Valley is more well off than most reservation schools, so I would put in an application at any school and take whomever wants me. I’d lean more towards boarding schools, partially because the pay is better for those with a graduate degree, and the people that go to the boarding schools very much need the schools. They can’t make the commute, and they don’t have the type of support system that I’ve had my entire life. So I feel like connecting with those students is going to be more rewarding than being at a public school. HB: Would you send your own children to ASU, whenever you decide to have those? BC: ASU would probably be one of my top choices. HB: You wouldn’t have any reservations about sending your child to this community, and this school? BC: No, it could certainly be worse. ASU is something I know, and can prepare them for. HB: Are you returning to ASU for your Masters? BC: I want to! HB: What is your hope for the future of your people, and others like you moving into communities unfamiliar to them, especially in Arizona? BC: I hope my people stay exactly as they are. I hope they will always remember where they are coming from. I hope they strive to return to the reservation and provide people within the reservation with knowledge that they aren’t able to receive [otherwise]. And I hope they find a way to succeed. Given all the different odds that are against people like me, I just can hope they become successful individuals and represent the reservations/natives as best as possible. In one of his letters, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made this truth clear: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” 106
photo by chanelle sinclair
photo by chanelle sinclair
Indigenous: The Forgotten War for a Seat at the Table The cultural majority have laid down our obligation to ensure the survival and inclusion of those with fewer hands on the rudder, an ideal many claim fundamental to the founding of this nation, and a lacking that significantly impacts the psyches and resulting success of the Native populations. Their cultures are not only theirs to lose, but our own. Different perspectives, ideals, lives, and stories, are vital to the community we continue to build here and on a national scale We, as a population, play a significant and direct role in the renewed success of communities that, for hundreds of years, have existed under policies designed to suppress and homogenize and have nearly succeeded in wiping the identity of millions of people from the map – policies that enable some to discuss real human beings with real lives, real families, and real hopes and dreams as though they do not exist. We have missed opportunities to embrace peoples and cultures that continue to make the ultimate sacrifice for their people and for ours. They have fought in our wars and championed our causes. The flag of the Navajo Nation, and many others, still fly high at marches and rallies across this state and the country, standing proudly for life, liberty, justice, and freedom. In a local community wealthy in cultural opportunity, and a national political climate in the midst of dramatic change, we must ask ourselves what defines us. What defines us as people? As a community? As a nation? For these answers, we simply need look across the table at our fellow man. What does he or she look like? Do they only look like us? They shouldn’t. Brooke Curleyhairs exist all around us. They sit in your classrooms, in your offices, and in your churches. And they’re hungry. Theirs are a strong people, a proud people, a people longing for opportunity, for a voice. They don’t need a hero or a gladiator, they simply need be given a proper place at a table that was theirs long before it was ours – one that should already exist. A place to remind the world that they are here, they were first, and that all are made stronger when provided equal footing. A reminder many desperately need as we march towards an uncertain social landscape that could very well redefine what it means to be an American, and a human being, for generations to come.
Indigenous: The Forgotten War for a Seat at the Table Hayden Blue is a veteran of the business world, abandoning scotch and expense accounts for lattes, laptops, and the dollar menu. An active advocate for LGBTQA+ and minority rights, and a rabid feminist, he can be found most days with cat on keyboard and gin on side table as he ponders life, love, and what it means to be a human. Occasionally, he writes full, coherent sentences, and almost always remembers to thank his partner for putting up with his â€œartistic mood swingsâ€? (read: lack of coffee). Liz Lemon and Grumpy Cat are his spirit animals, and he believes temperatures below sixty degrees arenâ€™t suitable for sustaining human life. He hopes one day to write the aforementioned sentences for an audience slightly more prolific than his pets.
Watch/The First Will John Quinonez
CAUTION\ WATCH FOR ROCKS\ Always. STRONG WINDS MAY OCCUR\ Often. WORK AHEAD\ WINTER CONDITIONS\ GET NAILED\ SILVER CAMRY\ Keep mind of 2007\ HORSE CROSSING\ MULE CROSSING\ ELK CROSSING\ Birds Above CIRCLE\ Ignore BADGER SPRINGS\ 5 MILES AHEAD\ NO SERVICES\ Apparently Littered with Badgers.
Watch/The First Will
JESUS IS LORD\ PULL OVER\ Avoid BLOODY BASIN\ SLIPPERY WHEN WET\ NO REST TILL\ DEAD HORSE PARK\
10 MILES\ No Horses. Safe to Cross. NOT WHEN FLOODED\ It’s a curious thing to take To the Desert, Timid It makes a Quiet Beast Eyes Always Open.
John Quinonez is a writer, teacher, artist, and events coordinator living in Phoenix. He has served as the Flagstaff Slammaster, board member of the Executive Council of PSi, chair of the Northern Arizona Book Festival, and Host City Coordinator for the 2016 Individual World Poetry Slam. His chapbook, “A Thirst for Bull Song,” is a collection of poems responding to the Folklore and Living Along the Great Arizonan Highways.
photo by Christen Cioffi art installation part of the Phoenix Art Museum Modern Art Collection
Broken Autumn Hintze
Sitting in the smoky room, my babysitter, Joanie, watched TV through large wire frames. Her skin, like most of the population of Florida, was dark and leathery like a sea turtle. Joanie didn’t mind if I watched the grown-up shows. Indiana Jones ripped out another man’s heart with his bare hands, cigar smoking time traveler Al on Quantum Leap used language I had never heard, and the makeshift bombs of MacGyver left me in awe; springing from the dusty couch, I sang along with every theme song. She was a staple in our home, washing dishes while a long skinny cigarette hung out of her mouth. Her pastel tank top was riddled with crusty holes, arms slick with sweat from the ever-present stick of the Florida summer. Joanie listened to all my stories, and she was always there. I liked to think she saw strength in me that I couldn’t yet. This girl can handle life. This girl is so smart, so gifted. This girl can read at a 5th grade reading level before kindergarten. This girl is fine on her own. She writes in a diary every day and carries around her mother’s books. She is fine, she will be fine. My mother often said “I’m not mother of the year, but your therapy will probably be minimal.” I didn’t trust my parents; they never came home when they said they were going to, and in the mornings my mom had what I called “morning smell.” Upon waking my mother would yawn, mouth open like a bass, her tiny form stretching out, tired from her late shift waiting tables, dizzy from her later shift of forgetting her late shift waiting tables. I would hug her close and her morning smell would surround me. Whenever I cook with garlic or smell red wine, my mother is there. “Stir the sauce so it doesn’t break.” She would say, thrusting a wooden spoon into my hand. I faked stomachaches so my mother would come home from work. Eventually she caught on, and the unease in my belly went away because it decided to settle in my heart and give way to nightmares too disturbing for a five-year-old. 114
I loved to ride my bike around the paved circle that curved around a small swampy pond, home to spiky finned sunfish, snapping turtles, and possibly an over grown algae eater I had thrown in years ago. I would take golf clubs and mow down high pond grasses in search of frogs and butterflies, side stepping snakes, baby alligators, and sea gulls. The suburbs of Florida tried to be civilized, but the wild always got in. I frequently fell off my bike during those bike rides. The usual kid injuries, skinned knees, a few bruises. I never crashed my bike when I was with anyone else, but when I rode alone I was a menace. I would lie on the side of the road, screaming every neighbor’s name I knew. “Sue, Jim, Anthony, Sarah, Brian, Rose, Tammy, Ryan, Alex, Anyone!” Inevitably someone’s mother would come out and take me into their home. I would sit quietly sniffling at their kitchen table as they bandaged me up and assured me nothing was broken. It wasn’t my fault, kids fall all the time. We had a mutt of a dog, Max, who didn’t like to be home either. His hair was long and in his eyes and he always had one tooth hanging out. He wasn’t a dog you wanted to pet if you saw him. He spent most of his life in a tiny cage, until he bit a neighbor’s daughter on one of his outings, and he was sent away. We often got the call that Max the mutt was on someone’s front lawn. On one particular day, I gallantly volunteered to rescue Max, as much something to do as a way to show Joanie how grown up I was. Grabbing Max’s nylon red leash I bolted out the door and on my bike. I rode with no hands, pedaling as fast as I could go. The wind in my straw blonde hair, my soul lifted higher than my childhood and the suburbs. I started singing Disney theme songs, since they were the only songs I knew anyway. Had we ever been to church, a hymn would have been more appropriate. I started to imagine how proud my mom would be that I saved Max. I am the gifted child, I am strong, and I don’t need any help. Maybe she would even feel sad that I didn’t need her anymore; I experienced a foreign sense of pleasure at this prospect. Still pedaling, I let the leash drag along the ground, imagining that Max was on the leash already and that I was triumphantly returning home. I started to sing, “Go doggie, go doggie, go!” when suddenly the world stopped. Everything froze, silent, and I seemed suspended in air. Then terror struck, as only terror can when you are five and you know something bad is about to happen, but you don’t understand it. I came crashing down hard on my left side. I lay on 115
photo by Kristi McLaughlin
Broken the crumbling curb and felt the beginnings of awareness come back. My face was on fire, my knee was bleeding, and I couldn’t get up. A slow vibration began. Soon my arm was throbbing. “Sue, Jim, Anthony, Sarah, Brian, Rose, Tammy, Ryan, Alex, Joanie! Anyone!” No one came. Nauseous, I began to panic. What if a car came and didn’t see me? What if my parents forgot about me? What if. . . . After what felt like an hour and my voice had turned hoarse, a neighbor finally heard me and came running with Joanie. Joanie carried me to her smoky station wagon and carefully laid me on the backseat in between her Marlboro beach towels and cracked cassette cases. My mother didn’t meet us at the doctor. This time, my arm was broken. Born in Florida, Autumn spent her childhood on the pristine beaches of the Gulf coast. She’s wanted to be a mermaid all her life, but is content to become an author while she remains landlocked. Autumn is currently a senior at Arizona State University. This spring she will be graduating with her bachelor’s in English, and plans to pursue graduate work in creative writing, preferably by an ocean. Currently she lives with her handsome husband, baby daughter, and two mischievous orange tabbies in Mesa, Ariz.
Lorca Floats Over Granada at Night Ronald Miller
Every night a new play is performed in our city. Tonight, the play will require four sets. I’ll journey from one to the next and you may follow if you wish. We will be floating just a few feet above the streets and the Cypress trees. We’ll visit old haunts and see old and new faces. Tonight, the tourists are admiring the Cathedral of The Incarnation. A filthy legless man is begging for money, with his arms outstretched, “Pobrecito, pobrecito!” A woman all in black has made it to the top step, on her knees. She’ll crawl to the Alter on the hard stones to light a candle. Across from the Cathedral of The Incarnation we view the new billboard of American actress Gwyneth Paltrow. She is reclining and has a bright smile. I’m fascinated with her new beauty products. In the plaza the Gypsy woman is selling roses. The young students are pouring martinis and toasting to nothing. “Everyone must have a rose for The Festival this evening. Its only two euros”, the gypsy announces. The tourists begin chattering, “A festival! We have to go. We can tell everyone that we were at an authentic festival.” My country home is nearby. It’s no longer in the country as the city has eaten the land over the years. Tonight, I’m curious to see if the girl has come back. I enter our garden. There’s the Historical Society’s caretaker. He can barely walk. His back is bent but he radiates a sensitive soul. He leaves the back door open, I think on purpose. How does the girl know? I peer through the first floor window. You’re there, at the baby grand piano. Such concentration! Such improvisation! No one knows of your genius. Where did you learn modern jazz? You’re a secret sun ready to explode on our Granada. I can still hear the jazz bands from my day. Full lush sounds, and the singers we all fell in love with. And the clubs, of course, were another story. Do you know that Manuel sat at that piano? That’s where he composed El amor brujo and the music for our puppet plays. They called it, “Decedent Trash.” 117
photo by Joe Pentycofe
Lorca Floats Over Granada at Night Why are you crying? Please don’t cry. Suddenly you twist towards the window, with a startled look. You stare right at me, through me. Now it’s time for you to tour the house. I follow you through all the rooms. You touch the photographs. There’s Manuel. There’s Igor with Salvador. Then you touch the photo of me with my cohorts. Stop crying. I know your destination. Now you smile. You are gentle with the puppets. You know they are fragile. If you could only hear how the kids screamed when the room turned pitch black and the la bruja appeared in a spectral light. Good lord, why such a tortured face tonight? Time to get back home? I’ll help you compose an excuse. You brush something off the piano. You carefully shut the back door. Was that a sigh of relief? I’ll see you to your apartment block tonight. I’ll watch over you. The din of crowd noise can be heard for blocks away, as if there was a football game or a protest in progress. The plaza of your concrete apartment complex is lit with the blazing light of the full moon. Let’s check the time. It’s three am. We say it’s the hour of ghosts. You greet your friends with hugs and kisses. They ask, “Where were you?” You sign that your lips are zipped shut. There’s your mother in black, looking towards you. She gives a fine performance, affecting nonchalance. The bottle of Licor 43, is passed to her. Everyone is sorry for her loss. The drink softens the edges of her evening. Elderly women sit in folding chairs around your grandmother. You run to her. You hug her with teenage urgency. Your Grandmother says, “He lived a good long life, don’t be sad.” So those tears were for your grandfather, not for this poet and his sentimental puppet shows. You meander to your friends and sip from the same bottle as it makes its way through the throng. Young boys are kicking a football against the concrete wall by the old men who are smoking cigarettes and drinking. The men warn they’ll kick their asses if the get hit with the football. How many generations are together in this stark white plaza? Now the two Flamingo players arrive. The one plays the black box while the singer rants about a tragic death. The old men shout, swept up by emotion. Could it be? One of my
photo by Kristi McLaughlin
Lorca Floats Over Granada at Night poems! Is that why I float above this city every evening? Is it pure ego? Do I still exist in their minds? I become aware of an old soul floating beside me. He says it’s nice to see everyone out on a beautiful summer evening. It’s your grandfather. I introduce myself. He says, “I know whom you are. I’ve sat in you garden and listened to the birds.” I extend an invitation for him to meet me there tomorrow evening. “There’s someone I want you to meet.” “He says, “Sure, I have nothing better to do.” Suddenly all the light is gone. Without warning an unknowable force is pulling me once again back to the place. It’s darker here. It’s beyond the city. The wind is picking up and there is the smell of rain. Only a few drops will reach the ground. This is where they took us. Where they stood us in line. Where the metal kept hitting us forever. Where I flew to the immense orange moon as if it was an image in one of my poems. If I’m forced to return to this desolate place so be it. It’s just another mystery. Tomorrow evening, in my Spanish garden, your grandfather will learn about you. Don’t worry he’ll never tell. Ronald Miller is relatively new to Phoenix. He grew up in Philadelphia and spent many years in Oak Park, Ill., outside Chicago. He is a retired social worker who worked in the State of Illinois child protection division as an investigator. An avid reader of fiction, he appreciates good writing and finds it a challenge and a pleasure to try his hand at writing as well. He is happy to be chosen to be included in this issue of Write On, Downtown.
Taylor’s Place Editorial profile by Ryan Krebs
As Taylor sat in class he couldn’t help but notice the color of the girl’s fingernails that sat across from him. They were red, not blue, and suddenly he realized how much rested on this distinction. Echoing through the large auditorium, his foot tapped out an erratic rhythm. While the background noise of the professor’s voice droned on, the outline of his phone burned deeper into his pocket. Every hair on his thigh stood on end, like little antennae, both yearning and dreading any slight vibration from this small rectangle. Why hadn’t his mother called by now? She had been with him in that frigid office when the doctor told them what to look for. He remembered specifically that once the fingernails turned blue, it was only a matter of hours before … *buzz buzz* *buzz buzz*. In a blur of movement he fumbled across the long aisle of students, kicking aside backpacks and water bottles, muttering, “Sorry, excuse me”, as he went. As the door whipped open, the sunlight caught him off guard, and he covered his eyes as he scrambled to bring the phone to his ear. The voice on the other end began slowly as Taylor looked out over the courtyard. He could see that it was a beautiful day. There were new flowers growing along the lawn and pairs of students laughed as they walked each other to class. In the distance the sun was lowering over the mountains, dyeing the outstretched clouds blood-red as it sank. Nothing would have been different over those mountains. Across the oceans and under the deepest caves the truth would still have found him, lurking in the corners of his mind. There was no escape. Through the small plastic earpiece the words poured, dripping and slopping like tar, filling up the empty spaces between denial and delusion. With each new word the tar began to swell, and unleashed a suffocating anger inside of him. Darker and darker, the turbulent liquid whirled, causing a deafening roar that became so loud and raucous that he could no longer find the strength to listen. As the roar reached it’s climax he felt his eyelids slowly close, and in this darkness the chaos of his thoughts simmered into a distant murmur. Taylor pressed deeper into the empty space and felt time sweep by him. The little stars left trails as they raced past his face, and when 120
Taylor’s Place he reached for them they slowed down so that their tails revealed a moving image. In the densely-packed space it was hard to focus on a single image, but one star in particular caught his attention, and he struggled to hold it in place. Taylor felt the heat from the little white ball and as it pulsated the image slowed down enough so that a single face was visible. It was his father. From the tingle on his neck he could tell that it was summertime. The sun cooked through the bill of his backwards hat and sizzled his unkempt hair. It wasn’t the sweat that bothered him, but the uncertainty of his surroundings. He’d never seen so many people his age in one confined area, and the sea of maroon and gold swayed uneasily around him. Through the commotion he saw his father waiting for him, where he said he’d be, by the office his construction team was remodeling. Taylor waded through the crowd and saw his father’s stony face melt into a smile. Finally, after years of awkward interchanges and repressed emotions he was able to face his dad with a sense of pride. It wasn’t happenstance that he chose this university, and the look of pride welling up in his father’s eyes comforted him. It was his first day of classes. As they maneuvered around oncoming bicycles and pedestrians, he watched his dad take each step forward, not leading, but walking alongside. Taylor knew that they would never be equals, and he was fine with that. He liked knowing that his father was there with him, guiding silently through the years that had shaped his knowledge of the world. Reaching the large octagonal building, there was a second of doubt, a momentary silence that brought back all of the memories of solitude, and then his father reached out for him, and they embraced each other. Taylor felt the cool, air-conditioned hallway beckoning him inside, and before the door swung shut, he watched his dad walk deeper into the crowd of students. For a second he could only see the top of his head, but as a passing car crossed the road, his father disappeared into the distance and Taylor was swallowed by the darkening hallway. Stumbling through the void, Taylor scrambled to catch a star, and speeding through the deep spaces of his mind he grasped the little ball of light closest to him. Generic halogen lighting lit the freshly waxed hospital floors. The general commotion seemed distant as Taylor watched a set of wheels glide towards him. He recognized the figure in the wheelchair but felt the presence of a stranger when he looked at his father’s face. This was after the second surgery. Taylor could tell because each time they wheeled him through those swinging silver doors, part of his father never returned. With a muffled voice the doctor began to explain that the last ten percent of the brain tumor was unremovable, and stifling a croak in his throat, he looked at Taylor’s mother, reassuring her that her husband still had five months to live. All the while Taylor had been watching his father in the wheelchair, trying to decipher his thoughts. The pair of sunken eyes that belonged to his mentor were searching. The lights in the hallway flickered, and then their eyes met. In them Taylor saw the years of sacrifice, hardship, laughter and commitment that had been shared with each member of the family. A single tear welled up in one corner of his eye, encapsulating the pain of knowing that much of his work would be left unfinished. Step by step, Taylor held his father’s hand as the nurse wheeled him to the side of the curb. Those stout legs and gravely hands would no longer be the harbingers of change. Mercado, Cronkite, Polytech and West, these hands had helped shape the way the university campuses functioned and thrived. Sam, Jeni and Taylor, these hands held them up when they were too young to walk. Now Taylor helped load his father into the car. Each 121
time he helped move his father he noticed the load became lighter, his hands wrapped around the arms, cradling him into the seat. His mother’s car drove off, while his father looked beyond the glass and into the glaring midday sun. Without hesitating, Taylor stared into the white light that engulfed the asphalt on which he stood. The light burned his eyes but soon the pain subsided and darkness once again enveloped him. In the dark of the abyss Taylor could no longer tell in which direction he was moving. Having lost control of the white light he now floated, paralyzed. Hours, maybe even days he waited, not wanting to recall himself from the empty space in which he stayed. Below him he heard a rumble, soft at first, but gradually growing nearer. There was a push on his back, then a shove from the side. All at once he was thrust forward, flailing as his limbs flung wildly around him. Flying faster towards nothing, he smelled the scent of fresh rain. The smell of Palo Verde trees and moist desert soil filtered through his senses, he remembered the funeral. Tears flowed down his cheeks as the wind whipped through his hair. Stormy monsoons thrashed about inside of him, releasing the memories he had pushed away. Taylor could feel his fingers and toes tingling, the deadened sense of touch was recovering. In his chest the beating heart once again began to pulse. In a single moment he opened his lungs, breathed in, and opened his eyes. Through the swinging doors, students began to rush. The classroom was emptying out into the dusky afternoon air, shoving past Taylor as he stood motionless, cell phone in hand. His mother’s voice was on the other end, calling his name. It was a Wednesday, and they had plans for dinner. Taylor knew this campus, and turned slowly as the crowd around him thinned. He knew his father would be there, behind the blurred faces that fervently pushed along, making their way to the places they would go. Behind him the setting sun had only minutes until it’s death, fulling a cycle of life in one day, only to be reborn again tomorrow. Before the horizon swallowed it whole, it cast one last defiant beam of red light upon the brick wall, illuminating a small bronze plaque. There was his father. Although he could no longer see his face, Taylor knew that the memory of his life would be forever cemented within the halls of this university as well as his heart. With a final bow, the light left the plaque, and the sun rested peacefully under the cover of the starry desert sky. Ryan Krebs currently resides in Phoenix, Ariz. Having previously worked in Los Angeles as an audio engineer and creative director, he now studies English literature and philosophy at Arizona State University. When he isn’t writing papers or postulating existential dilemmas, he enjoys photography and long drives in his truck, “Hot Mary.”
photo by Carlos Monge
Damned to Heaven* Jonathan Robbins
I need[ed] something awful. My stomach laughed itself into hollow. My back on a table, my knees by my head, aching for that ticking pulse, each throb of the heart danced [as] I’m fingered for the final time. Heaven’s the condom splitting into light. Between each stammering heartbeat I kiss the darkness. He won’t talk, tongue panting and slathering. He’s hard as a rock. His eyes [never] met mine— very cold, very hot, then nothingness. My friend and I rarely speak of one another. No place. No face. No strings. In my mind, everything’s shrill needling, the noise of death, 123
Damned to Heaven
in divine rage [I] hate him more than the venom in my veins. To heaven, bound by faults and sins, to that slice of heaven I screamed, “There is [no] life outside of the bedroom.” And the place [of] death, Asshole Alley, the shit of a hundred thousand worms, [my] own unholy death certificate reading: In sex clubs it was the whys and wherefores that brought on his heart attack while fucking. *A cento is a poem comprised of lines from other poems. This cento features the following poems: “On PrEP or on Prayer” [“spare us your burial rights”] by Sam Sax, “When I Spoke” by Alex-Quan Pham, “The Negative” by Tom Sleigh, “Host” by Jericho Brown, “Pantoum” Randall Mann, “Balcony Scene” by Jameson Fitzpatrick, “Waste” Afaa Michael Weaver, “From the First, the Body was Dirt” by Camille T. Dungy, “Live Long, Die Young” by Kirill Medvedev, “Said” by David Rivard Jonathan Robbins is a 22-year-old senior at ASU pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in English. He plans to continue his studies at the graduate level and eventually earn a PhD in criminal psychology. By night, however, he is a passionate writer, and he hopes to be a published novelist someday—using criminal investigations as inspiration for thrillers, of course. But aside from these ambitions, Jonathan’s life currently revolves around pampering his Argentine Mastiff, Batch, and Netflix binges—he cites Buffy Summers as his greatest role model.
photo by Anna Flores
About the Artists Audrey Chery was born and raised in Nancy, France. She moved to Arizona in 2009 to pursue her “American Dream” but had no idea what she was getting herself into. She holds a master’s degree in French linguistics from Arizona State University. She currently teaches lower-division French courses at ASU and is hoping to obtain her PhD in the future. When she’s not teaching or tutoring she enjoys hiking, traveling around the world, and discovering new coffee shops and restaurants around Arizona. Christen Cioffi is an analog and digital photographer based in downtown Phoenix. Also a creative writing student at Arizona State University, she is currently taking a year off to create and share more art on a personal, local, and global scale through her online art collective Momentus Collective. She loves film photography, food, traveling, concerts, spoken word, storytelling, and books. To check out her work and adventures behind the lens, follow her on Instagram or Twitter: momentuscollective.com, instagram.com/chriisten, twitter.com/chriisteenn Born in Florida, Autumn Hintze spent her childhood on the pristine beaches of the Gulf coast. She’s wanted to be a mermaid all her life, but is content to become an author while she remains landlocked. Autumn is currently a senior at Arizona State University. This spring she will be graduating with her bachelor’s in English, and plans to pursue graduate work in creative writing, preferably by an ocean. Currently she lives with her handsome husband, baby daughter, and two mischievous orange tabbies in Mesa, Ariz. Kristi McLaughlin, formally of Nebraska has lived in Phoenix since 2004. She works in the legal industry. She has a passion for the law, art, music, animals, and history. In her free time, she enjoys concerts, sporting events, being outdoors, and traveling. Carlos Monge is a Phoenix local and a prolific filmmaker, director, and editor of his increasingly popular CM Films. He is the manager of the Phoenix-based skateboarding clothing and apparel line, WITCH. A former student of The Art Institute in Nashville, Carlos works as a photographer at Lou Coopey Photography, Arizona’s largest independent photography studio. He can also be found filming in several cities: Chicago, Venice Beach, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Las Vegas, and every Arizona city under the sun. Follow his fascinating artistry on several online platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube. Joseph Pentycofe, formally of Erie, Penn. has lived in Phoenix since 2003. He works in the IT industry. He has a passion for music, history and cooking. In his free time, he enjoys concerts, barbecuing and traveling.
photo by Ryan Krebs 127
chanelle sinclair: photo-taker, whiskey-drinker, deep thought-thinker. wife, mother, musician and lover of the life photographic. She has had a camera in her hands since the sixth grade when her teacher taught the entire class how to build a pinhole camera out of an oatmeal box and transformed their classroom into a darkroom. The process of capturing light through that little box and telling the stories of her life as she chose to see it was pure magic for her, and it still is to this day. chanelle sees everything as a story to be shared and savored â€” even the everyday moments, the little things, the places and faces we can take for granted in this hustle we call life. When not photographing, chanelle can be found cooking, performing music with her husband, traveling across the world and drinking whiskey. Sometimes all at the same time.
photo by Autumn Hintze
Jennifer Vargas is a 2016 graduate of Arizona State University. While she holds her degree in public policy and public service with a concentration in emergency management, she is a talented singer and musician. Jen excels in theater and has most recently performed for the Tempe Center of Arts. She has also been seen on PBS and contributed musical recordings for the Herberger Institute. She lives in Phoenix with her partner and two dogs.
About the Editors Rosemarie Dombrowski (editor-in-chief and co-founder of Write On, Downtown) is the founder of rinky dink press, the co-founder/host of the Phoenix Poetry Series, and an editor at Four Chambers. Her poetry collections include The Book of Emergencies, which was a 2016 Human Relations Indie Book Award recipient (Personal Challenge category) and The Philosophy of Unclean Things. She teaches courses on radical poetics and creative ethnography at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. Additionally, she’s the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, Ariz. Hayden Blue (community editor) is a veteran of the business world, abandoning scotch and expense accounts for lattes, laptops, and the dollar menu. An active advocate for LGBTQA+ and minority rights, and a rabid feminist, he can be found most days with cat-on-keyboard and gin-on-side-table as he ponders life, love, and what it means to be a human. Occasionally, he writes full, coherent sentences, and almost always remembers to thank his partner for putting up with his “artistic mood swings” (read: lack of coffee). Liz Lemon and Grumpy Cat are his spirit animals, and he believes temperatures below sixty degrees aren’t suitable for sustaining human life. He hopes one day to write the aforementioned sentences for an audience slightly more prolific than his pets. Ronnie Caswell (editor and photographer) is an English lit major with a love of creative writing who is graduating in the spring. He works as a shift lead at Peets Coffee and Tea where he frequently makes new drinks so that he can stay up late and finish assignments the night before a due date. He hopes to become a creative writer and work in the publishing industry or become a teacher and help others improve their reading and writing skills. Anna Flores (editor and photographer) is an undergraduate at ASU majoring in English. She plans to attend law school and maintains an online poetry portfolio. She writes about her experience as a bicultural woman living in America and also reflects on the social marginalization of minorities through her writing. She is passionate about community and art in Phoenix and plans to continue participating in its growth. Chandler Jensen (editor) is currently a sophomore at Arizona State University, majoring in English and double-minoring in French and psychology. She is a writer of literary fiction and a proud editor of Write On, Downtown. Ryan Krebs (editor and photographer) currently resides in Phoenix, Ariz. Having previously worked in Los Angeles as an audio engineer and creative director, he now studies English literature and philosophy at Arizona State University. When he isn’t writing papers or postulating existential dilemmas, he enjoys photography and long drives in his truck, “Hot Mary”.
Lorissa Sapien (editor) was born and raised in Phoenix, Ariz. She is a senior at Arizona State University and will be graduating with a degree in English literature. She is a writer, reader, and coffee drinker. Kellen Shover (editor) is a student and sometimes a writer and editor. Rosalyn “Ros” Van Amburg (editor and photographer) is graduating from ASU with a bachelor’s in creative writing. She’s contributed poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction to a handful of literary journals and juggles between at least five pseudonyms as she drafts longer works. Her pastimes are crocheting, reading, and Netflixing. She and her devoted husband raise their two kids in Tempe, Ariz.
A Journal of Student and Community Writing at ASU's Downtown Phoenix Campus