SandScript 2020

SandScript is published annually at the end of the spring semester. All works of prose, poetry, and visual art that appear in SandScript are created by students attending Pima Community College.

SandScript is published annually at the end of the spring semester. All works of prose, poetry, and visual art that appear in SandScript are created by students attending Pima Community College.


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Sand Script



Editor’s Note on

the Cover

The cover represents our current state

of affairs. In 2020 we have endured

so much. Although this image is not

a direct depiction of the coronavirus

outbreak, it is a depiction of a brutal

part of history. It’s a reminder that

we have endured. We, the world, have

been through war after war and have

endured. This image struck me the

first time I saw it, pre-pandemic. The

use of the white space, the finer details

throughout the piece, all of it hit me.

This was an image that did exactly

what we as a staff sought out to do with

this magazine. It blended the triumphs

and pitfalls of the human experience so

beautifully. What I take away from this

image is: we will continue to endure,

and we will persevere.

Ulises Ramos

War is Over Only If...

Etching on Zinc Plate, 11”x18”


About SandScript

SandScript is the art and literary magazine

of Pima Community College, Tucson, AZ.

SandScript is published annually at the

end of the spring semester. All works of

prose, poetry, and visual art that appear

in SandScript are created by students

attending Pima Community College. The

editorial board consists of Pima students

and a faculty advisor.

SandScript has received the first place

award in the national contest for collegiate

magazines held by the Community College

Humanities Association in 2015, 2016, 2017,

2018, and 2019. The Community College

Humanities Association canceled the

literary magazine competition for 2020,

noting that most community colleges

canceled their magazines for the year.

Students interested in participating on the

editorial staff of SandScript take Literary

Magazine Workshop (WRT 162) in the spring

semester. This course is limited to twelve

students. Student editors, all of whom

have strengths in different art forms, learn

through engaging in the editorial process

with their peers. In 2020, the SandScript

staff moved the magazine’s process into new

territory by reviewing submissions through

a staff-developed anonymous digital voting

form. Each vote for submissions of poetry,

prose, and visual art was followed by an indepth

discussion that took place in person.

When the coronavirus pandemic broke out

in the U.S., the team decided to move to both

our meetings and the magazine to a digital

platform as part of the nationwide effort to

limit personal contact to combat the spread

of the virus. As a result of the chaos suffered

by the students as they moved, lost jobs,

gained jobs, shifted priorities, and learned

how to take courses online, most of the text

in this edition was accepted with only minor

grammatical edits.

Since SandScript was published during

the pressures and limitations of a global

pandemic, the 2020 team had to make many

difficult choices. One of those choices was

to publish an exclusively digital magazine

for the first time in the twenty-seven-year

history of SandScript. Unfortunately, these

new adaptations cost the staff the time

needed to judge and award the traditional

prizes. Although the staff grieved the loss

of the physical publication they’d been

crafting, they moved quickly and decisively

to transfer their work to digital platforms.

Also, due to the Stay-at-Home mandate,

the staff had to cancel the May Unveiling

Ceremony that publicly celebrates Pima’s

student artists for their talent and effort.

Despite these losses, the staff’s flexibility,

innovation, humor, patience, and tender

care for the artistic submissions of their

peers was a breathtaking feat of fellowship.

Their perseverance was an inspiration

during these troubling and uncertain times.

—Faculty Advisor, Frankie Rollins


Frank Cortes




Special Thanks

Lee Lambert, Chancellor

Dr. Dolores Durán-Cerda, Provost and

Executive Vice-Chancellor

David Dore, President of Campuses and

Executive Vice-Chancellor

Pima Community College Foundation

Kenneth Chavez, Dean of Communications


Pima Community College Board of


Mark Hanna, Demion Clinco, Maria D.

Garcia, Dr. Meredith Hay, Luis L. Gonzalez

Dina L. Doolen, Marketing and


Angela Moreno, Communications at

Downtown Campus

Rachel Araiza, Human Resources Specialist

Leigh Ann Sotomayor, Center for the Arts


Aztec Press

Josh Manis, Business Manager, Aztec Press

Pima Community College Faculty and Staff

Steve Jones at Arizona Lithography

Maggie Golston, English Faculty, Discipline

Coordinator for Creative Writing, and

former SandScript Faculty Advisor

Joshua Cochran, Department Head for

English Faculty at West Campus and former

SandScript Faculty Advisor

We are on social media!

Please like, follow, and share.


Consider supporting student artists by making a donation to SandScript.

For information about making a donation to SandScript, please send us an email at


All donations will go towards student awards and are not used for production or printing.

Donations can be tax-deductible.




Hi friends! I hope this letter finds each

of you safe. I never thought that I

would need to begin the majority of my

letters and emails in this way, but here

we are. I want to start by acknowledging

the pandemic that we are currently living

in. I think that it would be a disservice to

you, myself, and us as a community to not

acknowledge it. As Creatives, I think that

we are also generally aligned with empaths.

I know that, personally, my mental health

has never been shakier and more turbulent.

I am taking the necessary selfcare I need,

but it would feel disingenuous to not

acknowledge that things do not feel stable

currently. Everyone has been affected by

the coronavirus in one way or another.

There are some who are fortunate enough

to be able to quarantine and continue on

with their work, academic obligations, and

keep their families safe. However, there are

some who have lost jobs, homes, and family

members due to the pandemic. I want to

take a moment to show respect for all of the

losses, both physical and spiritual.


We turn to art for guidance and support.

The contributors of this magazine have

gifted us with their art, their stories, and

their perspectives. From the beginning

of the semester it was always our goal

as a staff to produce a magazine that

celebrated the human experience. The word

“celebrate” is used in an odd fashion here

in our magazine. We are not focused on the

happier and lighter moments of our time

here, although those are some pretty great

moments to revel in. We celebrate, too, the

darker parts of our time, the hidden truths,

and the moments when we question the

faith we have in ourselves, our religions, and

the universe. We celebrate the entirety of

the spectrum that is our existence because

we all fall somewhere in between the

happier, lighter moments and the darker,

questioning ones; and it is here in the

middle that art is made. This is where art is

understood. Where we are understood.

I want to thank YOU, the reader, for

following us on this adventure into new

lands as we pursue our first ever online

venture as a magazine. It feels amazing

to be a part of this historic moment in

SandScript history; although, I wish it was

under better circumstances. Nevertheless,

we march forward. Thank you for showing

your support to these creators. Thank you

for showing your support to SandScript.

And, most of all, thank you for simply just

being here and being you. Thank you. There

simply are not enough words in the English

language for me to express my gratitude to

the communities in Tucson for continually

showing me that we are truly in this all

together, and it is together that we will

make it out.


Christopher Valenzuela




Meet Our Artists 266-273

Meet Our Team 274-280

Pull Quotes 16-17


9-8-8 Christopher Valenzuela 18

A 4 & 20 Blackbird Kind of Pi Graysen Norwood 158-159

A Modern Love Tale Cade Walsh 80

A Question of Faith Missy (Tamara) Fowler 264-265

A Shout of Silence Cade Walsh 262

Abiding Effects Cara Laird 42-43

After the News Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith 196

Afternoons in the Park Missy (Tamara) Fowler 64

all the things i never say Christopher Valenzuela 62-63

Am I Enough? Joshua Lindley 74

Atomic Prosperity Reno Roethle 219

Awe Matthew Martella 187

Bottom of the Bottle Christopher Valenzuela 76-77

Boundaries Were Nothing Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith 83-85

c’est la vie (that’s life) Christopher Valenzuela 79

Clouds in the Class Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith 108-109

Colors of a Bruise Angelique Matus 202

Creosote Joy Wendy Wiener 112-113

Danny’s Baboquivari Misha Tentser 180

Darkness Matthew Martella 58

Dead Past Courtney Hayes Armstrong 86-87

Dear Abilify Elliana Koput 115

December 14, 2012 Emily Gill 118

Deluge Mason Carr 121

Desire and Tequila Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith 122-123

Eagle Feathers on Black Sands Joseph de Leon Reilly 132-133

Elizabeth Cara Laird 154-155

Family Voting Wendy Wiener 136-138


First and Last Love Anissa Suazo 23

Giggles and Stomps Anissa Suazo 142-143

Giuseppe Giampaolo Steve Nagy 106

Good Deeds Courtney Hayes Armstrong 156-155

Grief Distribution Cara Laird 171

I Too From Earth Gaze Upward Jack Davidson 172

In Memoriam of My Mother’s Mothers Kat Johnson 174-175

In the Dark Cara Lair7 176

Inadequacy Missy (Tamara) Fowler 183

Intimate Animus Charles Sublette 199

It Would Be Nice George Key 220

Jist Wait’n George Key 200-202

Lazy Bones Courtney Hayes Armstrong 212-213

Liber Somnia Reno Roethle 216-217

Looking Through the Blinds Angelique Matus 214-215

Magic Months Emily Gill 141

Memories of Lost Destiny Brooks 224

Miles From Home Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith 222-223

Mirror, Unbroken Emily Gill 228

Nympha Nervosa Elliana Koput 230-231

One Last Goodbye Missy (Tamara) Fowler 236-237

Partial Family Portrait Steve Nagy 232-233

Poem of a Clueless Man Graysen Norwood 239

Polaris Reno Roethle 227

Quantum Bet Steve Nagy 240

Reality Emily Gill 244

Remembrance of Winter’s Loss Joseph de Leon Reilly 71-73

Safe Emily Gill 168-169

Saint Augustine Green Courtney Hayes Armstrong 234-235

Scars Steve Nagy 243

Skythrone Misha Tentser 246

Sweet, Sweet Saguaro Courtney Hayes Armstrong 248-249

That Moment A.Z. Chance Martinez 250

The 21yr Childhood Kat Johnson 254


The Executor’s Song Steve Nagy 256-257

The Jurassic Period Maria Raygoza 184-185

The Sculpture Missy (Tamara) Fowler 48-49

The Stars Destiny Brooks 60-61

The Voice, Lost; Inspiration, Found A.Z. Chance Martinez 88

The Way I Speak Amanda Valdes 46-47

The Wet Dollhouse Courtney Hayes Armstrong 39

Trapped Yareli Sanchez 258

Voices Kat Johnson 45

We Wendy Wiener 68

When the Dog Bit You Misha Tentser 260

Who Am I? Missy (Tamara) Fowler 252-253

You Shouldn’t Be You Matthew Becker-Stedman 20

Fiction & Essay

A Death in the Desert Lee Fike 24-36

A Wedding Lee Fike 51-57

How to Exercise Self Discipline Matthew Becker-Stedman 116-117

I’m Right Here Heidi Saxton 91-104

I’m With You Christopher Valenzuela 124-131

Lady-Girl Renee Terry 145-153

Rhinocerous Tears Courtney Hayes Armstrong 162-167

Smoke Break Heidi Saxton 188-195

The Flip of a Coin Ian Washburn 204

We Expect the Coming Rains Christine Early 206-209

Your Call is Very Important to Us Kimberly Laney 178-179

Visual Arts

A Study of a Stoic Kathryn Robertson 105

American History Scroll Jack Davidson 261

And Then She Looked at Me Eva Kamenetski 19

Aphrodite’s Rose Kelly Franck 57


Autism Collection: Eugenio’s Family Ana Mary Garza 66

Autism Collection: Humankind Ana Mary Garza 67

Autism Collection: Inside Out Ana Mary Garza 67

Autism Collection: Protection Cloud Ana Mary Garza 66

Benedict Cumberbatch: A Study Kathryn Robertson 86

Blossoming Maya Kendrick 22

Borderlands Elliana Koput 137

Breakthrough Sergio Peraza-Jimenez 139

Bungalow After a Rain Storm Jack Davidson 264

Cactus Juice Brianna Vega 26

Calm Taylor Tang 148-149

Caras Ulises Ramos 205

Celebrations Frank Cortes 261

Change for Breakfast; Growth for Dinner Elliana Koput 255

Chicago, 2019 Jackie Cabrera 126

Chloe Kelly Franck 198

City Hound Frank Cortes 34-35

Clouds Rick Larke 82

Cogburn Brianna Vega 102

Communication Tina Kennedy 208-209

Confined Affection Rhea Stanley 207

Contemplation Myryam Roxana Freeman 128-129

Crown Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum 221

DAY-OR-NIGHT Charles Sublette 18-19

DeathClassic Joseph Roland Ewing 251

Deep Sea Amy Nagy 186

Desire Myryam Roxana Freeman 125

Determination Myryam Roxana Freeman 131

Dimension Mackenzie Harrison 242

Dimensional Guitar Kathryn Robertson 30

El Tianguis Luis Angel Figureoa Medina 252

Everything’s Blue Maya Kendrick 52-53

Falling Tina Kennedy 237

Family Ana Mary Garza 81


Ferns Rick Larke 197

Figure Confined Sergio Peraza-Jimenez 155

Forgotten Frank Cortes 147

Fruits Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum 15

Funk Head Vanessa Ibarra 93

Gateway Frank Cortes 6

Geometry and Nature with Metal Kathryn Robertson 49

Girl’s Team Connie Nicholson 108

Give In, Part 1 Izzy Orozco 40

Give In, Part 2 Izzy Orozco 41

Gossip on Yellow Chairs Connie Nicholson 190

Great Horned Owl Grace M Johnson 160

Green Guy Joseph Roland Ewing 185

Grim Amusement Brianna Vega 182

Habu Sake Brianna Vega 211

Happy Rick Spriggs 60

Head Cheese Vanessa Ibarra 75

Helping Hands Rhea Stanley 69

Hibiscus Sivanes 144

Hide Out Charles Sublette 222

Hit and Run Maya Kendrick 143

HSWW Alexandra Roussard 44

I Heart Calizona Vanessa Ibarra 27

Imagining Tina Kennedy 43

In the Cards Brianna Vega 173

Into Light Kelly Franck 214

Ivory Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum 119

Just a Taste Izzy Orozco 120

Kauri Tree Rick Larke 234

La Sagrada Familia Tom Webster 174

Life of the Party Jessi Moreno-Rosas 225

Man is God’s Religion Jack Davidson 247

Mask Maker Ulises Ramos 210

Masked Self-Portrait Taylor Tang 151


ME Jennifer Prybylla 259

Mexicanas Myryam Roxana Freeman 233

Midnight Oil Maya Kendrick 178

Mindspace Tina Kennedy 286

Moonrise Charles Sublette 248

Mort Alexandra Roussard 135

Octopoda Suppression Alexandra Roussard 213

One Day Closer Ulises Ramos 78

Origins Ana Mary Garza 81

Palmistry Hand Kelly Franck 167

Pancakes Kelly Franck 189

Panteon Nacional Luis Angel Figureoa Medina 110-111

Plexus Eva Kamenetski 133

Portale Jack Davidson 70

Puft Alexandra Roussard 38

Purple Dragon Grace M Johnson 94

Pushya Vincent A. Jones 114

QueenSarahCathrine Luis Angel Figureoa Medina 89

Reign - Lust Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum 217

Reminiscent Eva Kamenetski 24-25

Rhealism Rhea Stanley 194

Sea Creatures Amy Nagy 230

Self Portrait of a Carvers Head Ulises Ramos 162

Slatt Joseph Roland Ewing 181

Smokey I Sandy Delligatti 241

Snowy Owl Grace M Johnson 161

Space Man Lost in Space Zack Ellingson 157

Space Octopus Zack Ellingson 226

Street Food Deli Wurstel Connie Nicholson 166

Sunset on the West Side Vanessa Ibarra 33

Sylvan Portrait Jack Davidson 29

Symmetry Frank Cortes 238

The Kids Luis Angel Figureoa Medina 104-105

The Red Door Reno Roethle 50


The Wishing Tree Tina Kennedy 170

They Climbed It Anyway Elliana Koput 65

Think Outside the Trash Kathryn Robertson 122

Those Squeaky Floors Eva Kamenetski 56

Tree as Reflection of the Universe Jack Davidson 113

Tucson Beauty Jackie Cabrera 152

Two Butchers Connie Nicholson 193

Untranslatable Eva Kamenetski 177

Untruth Taylor Tang 203

Ursus Alexandra Roussard 229

Vanitas Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum 134

Want Charles Sublette 245

War is Over Only If... Ulises Ramos Cover

Water Lily Sivanes 168

Weightless Charles Sublette 164-165

Woods Amy Nagy 140

Wooly Tina Kennedy 37

Wrath Rhea Stanley 90

Yellow Chairs Convention Connie Nicholson 97

Youth Mariachis Connie Nicholson 101


Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum


Painting, Watercolor on Paper, 15.98”x10”


Pull Quotes

A Death in the Desert by Lee Fike

“I was there for a ceremony, one that was rare and tragic to my clients, but was for me

something with which I was all too familiar. In some strange way, it made me the host

and them the guests.”

A Wedding by Lee Fike

“Like every part of the desert, this place was full of life and death, both at the same time.”

How to Exercise Self Discipline by Matthew Stedman

“Let the needle slide in. The pain is unavoidable, no matter how carefully the nurse

handles your arm.”

I’m Right Here by Heidi Saxton

“‘You hear me, Stevie? Even if you take a beating, you always finish the fight.’”

I’m With You by Christopher Valenzuela

“You feel like you spent years nurturing this special part of who you are and it’s not even

yours anymore.”

Lady-girl by Renee Terry

“I kneeled on the bed and reached across to grab her flailing hand. The bedclothes were

cold and slippery.”

Rhinoceros Tears by Courtney Hayes Armstrong

“It was a sight that left Ryan with both a yearning for her own father to hold her, and an

immediate, visceral reaction to what that might feel like.”


Smoke Break by Heidi Saxton

“Maybe if she got to know me, she could adore me like I adore her. Maybe she could get

lost in my words. Maybe she could be hungry for me like I am for her.”

The Flip of a Coin by Ian Washburn

“Steve knew the look on George’s face in a flash, it was that face he got when he had an

idea, an idea that was really gonna cost him.”

We Expect the Coming Rains by Christine Early

“‘What happened with Frankie, it wasn’t just the same as what he does with all the girls,’

she said quietly. ‘And if it was, you think I can move on from it so easily?’”

Your Call is Very Important to Us by Kimberly Laney

“Master of sarcasm that she was, he knew this was an inside joke for him and him only.”



Christopher Valenzuela



That’s it

The End.



Charles Sublette




You Shouldn’t Be You

Matthew Becker-Stedman

I once told myself

in view of a mirror

an insect must become a chrysalis—

the pupa of


I have spun the web of comfort

silken strands a coffin bringing life

to lay down with dying breath

in struggle of rebirth


worth remaining—

do not move from this,

it will break the trace

of all that has transpired


against the person I do not

understand the origin of change.

the transformation that has taken hold of roots—

not as water but as parasitic bites--

sharp and staunch in the sinew,

the meat of stasis.

why do you resist

inevitable as change, as dark and light.

to complete

is not to become new,

is not to become whole,

is to become you.



Eva Kamenetski

And Then She Looked at Me

Photograph, Gelatin Silver Print , 8”x8”




Maya Kendrik


Painting, Watercolor, 11”x14”

First and Last Love

Anissa Suazo

I grow

then falter,

then fall

in the fall,

to your hand raised out.

The foliage,


to slow,


around you and

your lover.

My cracking passionate colors

crumble against their smile,

and for a moment,

a slow moment,


their smile makes your heart falter,

then fall,

in the fall.

The dance ends

on their infinite black hair.

And I fall

in fall,

to your eagerly waiting hand.

“It’s your first and last love,”

I tell you within my amber limbs,

as I land upon your palm of fate.


A Death in the Desert

Lee Fike



left the highway and took a county

road north, roughly paralleling

the desert river—tall, leafy cottonwoods,

mesquites, and desert willows tracing a

thin green line in the valley between blue

mountain ranges on either side. A Turkey

Vulture floated in lazy circles on a thermal,

high above the desert floor. The pavement

turned to sand and dirt almost immediately,

and the smooth, sweeping curves of the

empty road reminded me of my youth, when

I had lived in this desert, an hour away from

the city. The sun was perched on the peaks

to the west when I came to a side road,

marked by a low wooden sign— “Flanagan”

was painted on it, in white paint with drip

lines. Just the sign I was looking for.

I took the sandy road, slow across

the washboard, uphill into the gloom of the

mountain shadow.

An old ranch on the side of a little

hill. A large adobe house with a rusty

corrugated metal roof. A barn opposite,

across a large barnyard, with more

Eva Kamenetski


Photograph, Gelatin Silver Print 8”x8.1”


machines than animals in and around it.

Two or three small outbuildings in a rough

circle around the house. The road led into

the circle and up to a couple of hitching

posts, backed by manzanita and jojoba

bushes, in front of the big house. I parked

beside two big 4WD pickups and one SUV.

Two faded, abandoned cars slumped off

to the side. A transmission and an axle

with rotting tires were lying on the ground

nearby, partially covered by the tall bunch

grass and short prickly pear that was

growing around them.

Two dogs stood up and began

barking at me from the porch of the adobe

house. One, a medium-sized short haired

black-and-tan mix with long legs and a long

nose, stopped barking in a few seconds and

looked over his shoulder at the front door.

Smart dog, I thought. Alert the human but

hold off on charging to kill the stranger

until Dad comes out to assess the situation.

The other one was all black, smaller and

fluffier with a shorter nose, some kind of

Pomeranian-meets-Jack Russell Terrorist, as

we say in the vet world. This one ran down

towards me, still barking and growling


The human came out directly, a

partially bald white guy, fat stomach,

wearing suspenders that held up baggy

gray trousers. “Shut up, Jack!” he yelled at



Brianna Vega

Cactus Juice

Drawing, Pigma Micron, Paint Markers, 5.5”x8.5”


his little Jack dog, who was now circling me

and growling. I had carried my big canvas

veterinary bag with me as I got out of the

car, and now I kept it low in front of me,

holding it in my left hand with my arm

extended, keeping the bag between me and

snarling Jack.

“Come on up, Doc!” the man called.

“He won’t hurt you.”

I started around the hitching posts,

keeping my bag between Jack and my legs,

but Jack kept circling around, barking like

mad, charging from different directions,

trying to get behind me, trying to get past

my bag. “Uh…How about you bring a leash

down here and catch him up for me? He’s

feeling a little nervous about things,” I

called back to the man. He was Flanagan, I

assumed—I’d only talked to his wife on the

phone—but we’d obviously not made it to

the introduction stage yet.

“Oh, he’s alright,” Flanagan yelled

from the porch.

I looked at the dog at my feet again

as we continued our strange little dance. He

was still snarling and trying to maneuver

around my big bag; I was moving my bag

enough to keep it between him and me,

while simultaneously keeping an eye on the

rest of my surroundings, which were so far

proving to be nothing but hostile territory.

Jack was a cute little thing, but when a dog

acts aggressively around me, I tend to take

what he tells me at face value. Maybe he

just wanted to sniff me; then again, maybe

he had some more nefarious desire, one that

perhaps included biting a hole in my leg and

tasting my blood. A quick glance back at

the porch revealed Flanagan still standing

there, rubbing the black-and-tan’s head

and observing Jack and me with a bored

amusement. No help there.

“You’re a sweet little devil, aren’t you,

Jack?” I whispered calmly to the dog while

fishing a slip-lead out of my bag. Even little

dogs can hurt you if they bite you. But I’d

worked with all kinds of dogs for years, all

kinds of animals, for that matter, and I knew

that keeping fear out of my voice, as well

as a sense of humor, proceeding cautiously,

and understanding their psychology would

go a long way. “Yeah, you’re a handsome

little shit, and I say that as one handsome

little shit to another,” I said, smiling,

breathing, and using a quiet, dreamy tone


Vanessa Ibarra

I Heart Calizona


of voice, as I flipped the loop of the slip-lead

over Jack’s head with a small motion of my

hand. He turned to bite the lead, but I gave it

a little jerk, both to secure it around his neck

and to get it out from between his teeth. He

stopped and looked at me. I immediately

started fast-walking up to the house, not

giving him time to rethink his efforts to

chew my lead in half. He pulled back on the

lead for the first few steps, but I kept going,

bringing him with me, and in about three

seconds flat he started trotting with me up

to the house, a new understanding in his


Up on the porch, the man nodded

to me and then shot an “I’m disappointed

in you” look at Jack. Apparently, he’d been

expecting a better show.

“Mr. Flanagan, I presume,” I said.

“Derek Esayer.”

“Ray,” he said. “Come on in.”

We all went into the living room,

where a woman was sitting cross-legged on

the floor with a Malamute dog lying on his

side in a dog bed, in front of the sofa. The

dog made no move to get up.

Malamutes aren’t super common in

Southern Arizona; they’re the wolf-looking

dogs that pull sleds in Alaska and the Yukon,

and they have very heavy, thick fur to keep

them warm in cold climates.

“Hello,” I said quietly. The woman

was wearing jeans and an Oxford shirt, and

she had tears on her face. She just looked at

me and at Jack, standing there on his—well,

my—lead, panting at her.

“OK if I sit here?” I said, gesturing at

the sofa. I was used to this. The last thing

people thought of when a vet came to their

house to put their dog to sleep was manners.

They were dumb with fear, sadness, and

even horror. They didn’t mean to be rude

or uncaring, they weren’t trying to be

unwelcoming. It was just that in this black

moment, which I understood perfectly—I’ve

had animals that died from euthanasia, too,

and nothing in my life has been sadder—

they did not see themselves as hosts. Their

hearts were full of grief, and complex

feelings of guilt, and maybe even full of

some forced realizations about life, death,

and where we are all going. They were never

going to ask me to sit down—it just didn’t

occur to them—so I asked permission, and

then made myself at home. I was there for




a ceremony, one that was rare and tragic to

my clients, but was for me something with

which I was all too familiar. In some strange

way, it made me the host and them the


“Yes, please,” said the woman.

I sat down and reached slowly

to take off Jack’s lead. As it always does,

walking along with a large man who has

a rope around one’s neck had changed his

attitude about me. Dogs have no shame in

ceding authority to a stronger power. They

just want to know where they stand in

the hierarchy of domination, and our little

interaction had made that clear to him. He

looked at me for a moment and then went

and sat down by the woman. The man

remained standing up.

“Derek Esayer,” I said, looking at the


“Evie Flanagan,” she said.

Now that Jack had calmed down,

I moved down to the floor, sitting on the

other side of their big dog.

“We’re so grateful for you coming

all this way, Dr. Esayer,” she said. “We just

didn’t want to have to take him to the vet

clinic for this. He gets afraid when we go


I nodded. “Yeah, I agree. Of all the

things a vet can do for a dog, this is the one

that’s most important to do at home.”

“We don’t want to do it, but we just

think he’s suffering,” she said. “We tried

everything! The vet says there’s nothing else

we can do.”

I nodded again, I was nodding along

with everything she said and staying silent.

This was the time for her to tell her story

and for me to listen.

“He can barely get up, he barely eats,

he poops on himself,” she said, starting to

cry. “He stays in one place all the time. He

used to be so active! And now he just seems

miserable, all the time.”

I reached out and stroked the

Malamute very lightly, barely touching him.

I ran my hand along his head, neck, and

body. He didn’t react. He was breathing and

staring straight ahead, and not much else.

“What’s your dog’s name?” I said.

“Buck,” she said.

I looked around at the room. Big TV

across from the sofa, gaudy Indian paintings

on the walls, men wearing immaculate

feathered headdresses dancing, sitting on

horses holding lances, women in front of

teepees decorated with bright designs--the

kind of paintings that look “white-washed,”

for anyone who’s ever been to Taos Pueblo

or has seen old, historic photographs of First

Nations villages and people. Ray was still

standing in the middle of the room, looking

lost. The long-legged black and tan dog, who

turned out to be named Festus, had come

over to sit with Evie and me. She licked my

hand once and then sat down by Evie. I

didn’t see any bookshelves.

Evie was giving me a look, though.

“Buck, like in The Call of the Wild?” I


She smiled, as Ray took this

opportunity to jump into the conversation.

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “She read the book and I

saw the movie.”

She looked at her husband a moment,

her smile gone. “We saw the movie,” she said.

“All happy families are alike; each

unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,”

Tolstoy wrote, a truism that I couldn’t argue



Jack Davidson

Sylvan Portrait

Etching, Aquatint, 10”x 12.5”



Kathryn Robertson

Dimensional Guitar

Painting, Oil on Canvas, 11”x14”


with after doing house calls for so many

years. “Good name,” I said, rubbing Buck

again. He rolled his eyes so he could look at

me without moving his head and panted a

few breaths, then closed his mouth again.

I filled out the consent form with

information they gave me—Evie told me

Buck was 13 years old and was a neutered

male. I filled in their names and phone

numbers. Ray told me he already had a

grave dug, so I noted that on the form.

Home burial. When it was finished, I held

the paper up, with a pen, waving it gently in

front of me. “I need a volunteer to read this

and sign it,” I said.

Ray came over and took it. “Always

gotta do the paperwork, eh, Doc? CYA?

Cover your ass?”

“Well, for some things, you want to

have a document that shows that everyone

agrees about what we are doing, since there

is no going back. We…”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, I was just

yankin’ your chain,” Ray said, talking over


“No, no,” Evie said. “Finish what you

were going to say, Derek.”

If “CYA” means “make sure people

understand what is happening,” then yes,

that’s exactly what I was doing. But the

euthanasia consent form also forced people

to confront their animal’s death, and it often

had them facing their own mortality. A

powerful piece of paper, indeed.

I looked at the two of them for a

moment. It was getting darker outside.

Festus-dog was now lying down close to

Buck. Jack was quiet but vigilant, still

watching me and my canvas bag, which

I had kept closed; I didn’t want any

inquisitive dog noses going into it and

making chew toys out of my expensive

medical equipment. Little Jack sat in his

spot by Evie and studied the bag, the power

object that had thwarted him.

“I was just going to say that when

we talk about this, we use words like, ‘put

to sleep,’ and ‘saying goodbye,’ which are

nice ways of speaking,” I said. “But this

paper uses words like ‘death’ and ‘dead,’ so

that there can be no mistaking what we are

talking about and what we are about to do.”

Evie took the paper and read it. “It’s

only two paragraphs, Ray,” she said.

“I know,” Ray said.

Evie finished reading the consent

form, and then she looked at me. “Do you

think we’re doing the right thing? Do we

have to kill our dog?”

“Is that what the paper says?” I said.

“No, it says that we consent to

euthanasia,” she said, looking at the paper in

her hands, “and then in parentheses, it says

‘humane death.’”

“Amounts to the same thing,” Ray


I waited, listening, but no one spoke.

The atmosphere was full of sadness, which

was appropriate. It was also full of a lot of

other emotions: guilt, anger, regret, shame.

“My answer is yes, you are doing the

right thing,” I said quietly. “And no, we’re

not killing your dog. Words matter. Killing is

violent. Euthanasia is merciful.”

They just stared at me. I imagined

their feelings. How were they supposed

to know how to do this? It went against

everything they wanted.

“You have told me that he is showing

every sign of pain and suffering,” I said. “He




is old. He can’t do any of the things that

he’s been doing all his life. He’s suffering,

and you can’t stop it. And he’s going to die,

whether we euthanize him or not.”

“That’s kind of one of the things

we’ve been talking about,” Evie said, looking

at her husband. “Is Buck in pain? It doesn’t

seem like it, but how would we know?”

“Great question,” I said. “Here’s how

you wouldn’t know. He won’t tell you, in

the English language, that he hurts. He will

never change his pleasing facial expression,

the way I would.” I made a grimace and a

show of holding my back. “And he will never

show pain the way I usually show it, which

is by being irritable and hateful to the

people I love the most.”

Wan smiles.

“We know that dogs are capable of

feeling pain, just like we do, but they will

almost never do things that show it. They

hide their pain. They act as though they live

under the law of the jungle. You know the

law of the jungle?”

They stared at me silently, not

ready or willing to be students answering


“The law of the jungle says that if

you show any weakness, someone will kill

you and eat you. There’s an old saying.

‘Don’t limp around lions.’ That’s how dogs


“We humans, of course, live under

a different law. I myself live under the law

of my wife. If I show any weakness or pain,

she will tell me to stay in bed, she will bring

me chicken soup, she’ll rub my feet and call

my clients and tell them I can’t come see

them today.” Evie and Ray looked at each

other, perhaps recognizing one of their own

secrets, or maybe wishing some of these

secrets were theirs.

“So of course, I show my pain and

weakness. Dogs don’t, not unless we have

the eyes to see it. And when we see an old

dog who can’t get up, who limps, who seems

to find it difficult to lie down, who is moving

very slowly, who won’t eat, who doesn’t do

the things that he’s loved doing his whole

life—that tells me they’re in pain.

“‘Euthanasia’ comes from the Greek

for ‘Good Death,’” I continued, still in a quiet


“Good death,” Evie said. It was kind

of a question, and kind of a wondering that

there was any such thing.

“Buck is going to die here at home,

pain-free, being held in the arms of the

people he loves most; being held in the arms

of his mother, as we say.” Evie looked at me,

eyes brimming. All the dogs were asleep

by now. “They’ll never say that about us.

We’ll probably die at TMC, being tortured

to death, with people yelling and pushing

on our chests, machines beeping, and bright

lights shining in our eyes, all kinds of weird


“You’ve got a way with ya, Doc, I’ll tell

you that,” Ray said. Maybe there was hope

for him yet, I thought silently to myself.

Evie handed me the signed consent

form. I opened my bag and pulled out a

syringe, screwed a hypodermic needle to it,

and started drawing up some fluid from a


“So, I’m going to give Buck a sedative

first. And when I say ‘sedative,’ what I mean

is a big dose of pain-relieving medicine, a

sedative, an anesthetic, an anti-anxiety

medicine. These all work together to



Vanessa Ibarra

Sunset on The West Side




make sure he is out of pain. He won’t feel


I focused on preparing the sedative.

I looked at Buck. He was big but had lost

weight. He probably weighed about 70 lbs.

In the vet clinic, they would have weighed

him on a walk-on scale so they could

calculate the dose of the medicines, but this

was one of the many ways house calls were

different. I didn’t think Buck, or any sick

and painful animal, would like to be picked

up and held, squirming, while I got on their

bathroom scale. So I always estimated the

weight of the animal. I studied Buck for 10

seconds, thinking of other animals about

his size and what they’d weighed, thinking

about how much of him was fat (not much)

and how much was muscle (not much of

that, either; he had wasted away), seeing

how thin he was, thinking of what would

be my low and high guesses and coming up

with an estimated number of pounds.

In the early days of my house call

practice, I had used standard dosages for

sedation and anesthesia. They worked fine,

in my opinion, but it wasn’t working for

the human clients. When animals—dogs,

cats, humans, horses—are anesthetized in

the hospital for surgeries, the clinicians

usually use the minimum dose of sedation

required to intubate the patient and begin

gas anesthesia. This means that there is

always some involuntary motion, maybe

some vocalization. As the conscious mind

relinquishes control of the body, it—the

body—makes little motions and sounds.

That’s normal. The animal doesn’t feel

anything. They’re unconscious. Their

conscious mind is offline, so to speak, but

the lower brain centers that control motion

Frank Cortes

City Hound



and muscle activity are the last part of the

brain to become anesthetized. They find

themselves unmoored from the conscious

mind that normally controls them, so there

are a few jerks and squeaks.

But anesthesiologists in hospitals do

not do their work in front of a distraught

human audience of family members. And

that is exactly where I did all my work. The

Flanagans, like all my clients, had probably

never seen any animal become anesthetized,

for good reason. It’s not usually a spectator

sport. In a hospital, the workers focus

keenly on the state of the patient, watching

for anything going wrong. It’s not a time

to answer questions from amateurs and

entertain the hoi polloi.

In house calls, any motion, any

sound made by my animal patients would

have convinced their loving owners that

their animal was suffering greatly, no

matter what I said to the contrary. And,

given what we were doing, in addition to

the fact that any weird motions would

cause great angst with my beloved human

client observers, overdosing was not a risk.

Our patient was not destined to wake up

from the sedation in any event. So I didn’t

monkey around with dosages. I loaded my

patients up, and they very quickly became

profoundly anesthetized.

My technique had incidentally

taught me how amazingly safe common

veterinary anesthetics were. I used a

dose that would have anesthetized a

200-pound animal on a sick, 70-pound

Buck, and although he became profoundly

anesthetized, it didn’t kill him. Good

to know.

“I’m just going to give him this




sedative under his skin along his back,” I

said. “Like where he might get a Rabies shot.

This is not IV, it’s just under his skin. Hurts

less that way, but it will take a few minutes

to work,” I said, as I slowly injected the


And then we waited. I gently touched

Buck, I told him that he had been a good

boy, that he had been the best dog ever. The

Flanagans became quiet, watching their dog,

lying motionless.

“You did good,” I said, stroking him

with a light touch, barely skimming the

hairs. The light from the windows got

darker and darker, but no one turned on the


He took a deep breath, and his

body subtly relaxed even more. “You did

everything just right,” I said to him. My

voice got quieter. “You brought love, and

beauty, and grace to this family.”

Evie, already sitting close to him,

picked up his head in her arms and put her

face by his, silently weeping.

My voice got even quieter. “We can

say, ‘Thank you. Thank you for coming to

the Flanagan party. It would not have been

the same without you.’”

The room was still and dark. Buck

was barely breathing, totally anesthetized.

“No more suffering for you, little

one,” I said, now whispering. Ray still stood

by, motionless, but only Evie could hear

me, and Buck, if he was hearing anything

at all. “I’ve got a lot of friends where you’re

going. You say hi to Aussie, and Sandy, and

Zammer, and JaRoop for me. You tell ‘em

I’m coming. You tell them I didn’t forget

what we said.”

Evie was whispering to him, too,

and salting his face with her tears. “Thank

you, thank you, thank you…” I think she

was saying.

It was dark. I put on a little headlamp

from my bag. “He’s ready. I’m going to give

him this last injection.”

Evie nodded silently; her face still

buried in Buck’s.

“Once this goes in, it works really

fast. This will end his life. This won’t hurt

him at all.”

Evie nodding.

I put a Nye tourniquet on Buck’s

back leg while I whispered to him, “This will

be me, too, Buck, soon enough. You just get

to find out first.”

And then I injected the euthanasia

solution into his saphenous vein, in his back

leg. It went in smoothly with no reaction

from Buck.

And then he stopped breathing.

“He’s passing away right now,”

I whispered.

I touched his chest with

my stethoscope.

I clicked off my headlamp.

All was dark.

The room was silent.

A beautiful life had ended.



Tina Kennedy


Painting, Oil on Board, 10”x10”



Alexandra Roussard


Painting, Oil and Gold Leaf


The Wet Dollhouse

Courtney Hayes Armstrong

My father carves every wooden shingle by hand

stands, never sits, a lonely night watchman on shift

shavings float down upon the Cabernet leather of his tasseled loafers

splinters wedge under his champagne and chardonnay thumbnails that dislodge inside the

cologne-infused pocket of his monogrammed shirt when he reaches for his shiny Zippo lighter

and he chips and chisels, the original square shapes not good enough for his only child, his doll,

or maybe it was the raw reality that leaving them as they were wouldn’t dare take up enough of

his sober time

So, he took the small silver hand saw and shaped each square into opulent, ornate diamonds


I remember his hands shaking like fireflies in a mason jar in a humid Crete, Illinois backyard

plagued with zips of energy that barely allowed him to hold the innocuous white bottles of

carpentry glue whose shape only reminded him of seductive glass that housed

salty scotch and frisky whiskey and brutal bitters and

how dry his mouth was

So, he licked the rim of his empty glass and the mockery of ice turned into lacy, liquid diamonds

I am the puppeteer

pretending to live inside the Merlot walls of the dollhouse

my clumsy, unforgiving fingers danced the doll up lush, paisley Pinot carpeted steps

porcelain legs held on by mere ribbons of fraying cloth and yet, somehow, she was still

more beautiful than I would ever be, and I could only, and simply, smile, as the watchman’s love

poured down my face

So, he wiped my cheek and kissed my tears and turned them into mystical, magical diamonds



Izzi Orozco

Give In, Part 1

Diptych Oil on Canvas, 18”x24”



Izzi Orozco

Give In, Part 2

Diptych Oil on Canvas, 18”x24”


Abiding Effects

Cara Laird


We used to road trip through Mexico.

My mom driving

a beat up, but reliable, Datsun.

Me in the passenger seat breathing

her secondhand smoke.

Or if we had friends with us: in the backseat, reading a book.

I was maybe 9.

We had friends with us.

We sat three across, our moms in the front seat, taking turns

driving and smoking, smoking and driving.

Between two small towns,

somewhere not far from Guadalajara

the road was barely paved, chunks

of asphalt between potholes.

Immersed in the world of

The Babysitter’s Club - all of a sudden

motion sick for the first time in my life

I puked on my shoes

and the empty glass coke bottles

and the crumb coated chip bags on the floor.


Tina Kennedy


Painting, Oil on Board, 10”x10”


After, I could not read my book

even on a smooth road.

For the rest of the trip, it was Spanish on the radio or

old Johnny Cash tapes, or nothing.

I played slug bug with the other kids

bruising our arms:

VW Bugs being very popular in Mexico, at the time.

Or I slept,

drowsy with motion

and boredom.

Road trips still make me sleepy.

I can finally read in a moving car again

without puking but

I can’t stay awake long enough

to finish a chapter.



Alexandra Roussard


Painting, Watercolor



Kat Johnson

The walls are said to hold the distant echoes of the revenants.

When the air holds a magnetism that seems to beckon our youth,

they are reaching cautiously, with icy fingers, past the cloak of eventide.


They slip into shadows that resemble their old outlines and steal the laughter of night creatures who

trade the secrets of a waning moon.

Those quiet, alluring whispers between faded wallpaper and cobwebbed corners.

And when we stare into our stained-glass mirrors, absentmindedly,

intoxicated by our ego,

they fall hushed,

mistaking our vanity for a bold invitation to bear company.


The Way I Speak

Amanda Valdes

Naturally I’m a fast talker

I use a lot of gestures

My words don’t articulate as clearly as I want them to

I’ve become too used to being cut off mid-sentence, I’ve been too used to people not hearing me.

Not being quite loud enough.

I’ve become too used to being told what I say is not important, so I now only allow myself to

speak when I think people will pay attention.


I speak quickly because I feel that I’m taking up too much time in a conversation, that I’m taking

up too much air.

In a conversation I wait for them to ask me questions,

wait for them to start the conversation because apparently nothing I say comes out the right way,

apparently, it isn’t important.

My words are a ticking time bomb ready to explode.

My words stumble on each other like a runner trying to make it past the finish line,

so I can finish on time, so I won’t be cut

off or interrupted.

When I try speaking at times, my tongue becomes a fish out of water.

My words become knocked



When I speak, I only speak up to get it out of the way. So people can stop asking why I’m

so quiet. They ask why I never speak.

I tell them, I had a voice, but someone ripped it out of me I don’t know where it went.


I have been a mute only living through observation because I’ve never had the voice to speak to

gain an experience of my own.

I can’t tell you how many times people have told me, “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard you


And I can’t help but think that I now speak in written words and not so much actual words. You

won’t hear my voice but you’ll hear it, you’ll feel it.

Until I discovered poetry, I realized I hadn’t been able to write more than one word replies.

With poetry I don’t have to hold back what I want to say on the inside.

The way my words now end up colliding like newlyweds on their honeymoon,

Poetry is my excuse to use my voice again.

With poetry I found out my voice can come out of hiding, can be found again, can be restored.

I find that I can only get people to listen when I’m speaking in similes or metaphors.

I hope one day soon my sentences will slow down and I won’t have to feel like there’s a

stopwatch tied to my chest


With poetry I don’t want an excuse to be silent anymore,

I want to be able to use my voice to fill the room with air without feeling like I’m suffocating.

I want my voice to leave people silent, to leave them speechless. I no longer want to feel like my

words are meaningless.

This is how poetry has restored me.

My words don’t stumble as much with poetry, a clear conscience where they aren’t afraid to hide

the truth anymore.

Poetry gives me the space to not have to worry about my sentences feeling like a countdown.

Poetry is the only way I allow myself to speak. This is how poetry found me.

This is how I speak.


The Sculpture

Missy (Tamara) Fowler


Her voluptuous body

radiates warmth from an inner glow,

a vision in blue-lined marble.

She is powerful and fearless,

boldly facing the world in all her glory.

He believes he could mold her further,

shape her to his vision of perfection.

But his hands are not those of an artist—

clumsily selfish, chipping off piece by piece,

chiseling away at this sculpture.

Each day thinner and weaker,

the cuts grow deeper,

cruel words breeding fractures.

Eventually one small nick

could break her like cheap porcelain.

Yet, on and on he hammers away.

Day after day she sits alone,

discarded and forgotten,

serving no purpose

except to give him an outlet

to express his frustrations,

his own failings as a person.

She anxiously waits for those days,

wills herself to be invisible so that perhaps

by some miracle he truly forgets her—

wondering when the day will come

that she becomes too brittle,

cracking apart till she is irreparable

so that he, at long last, discards her

and her flaws and imperfections—

when she will be so far gone

that her shape is unrecognizable,

too much for him to bear.

He cannot begin to understand

she’s not who she was—or—

who she longs to be.

He leaves her misshapen,

blaming inferiority of the material

and the poor tools he was given.

He’ll cast her aside without care.

She hopes that happens soon.

When the day came to pass

taking her by surprise

a most brutal crushing blow

in one motion everything she was

all the potential of what she could be—



Kathryn Robertson

Geometry and Nature with Metal

Sculpture, Steel, 2”x1.5”x2”


An explosion of jagged shards in every direction

one for every part of her that was destroyed

settling, blanketing surfaces in white

a frighteningly cold, crisp, blizzard.

From the worst of the pain imaginable,

she becomes beautiful again

peaceful as a winter’s night.

The calm after the storm.



Reno Roethle

The Red Door



A Wedding

Lee Fike

It begins like this—tall Cottonwoods, Sycamores, and Arizona Ashes, murmuring in

a light autumn breeze. Their voices originate in their roots buried beneath the river,

the power of that water rising up into the canopy to whisper its tale through the shimmering

leaves. I listen to the story as if in a dream, told in the language of the canyon, its native

language of rock and wood. Their tale will soon be over for the year, as the leaves fall, some to

the creek-side ground, beginning their journey from the tree crests to their roots, while other

leaves land in the water, floating away to fertilize downstream lands. The leaves will molder in

the lonely earth, the shaded, sandy, riverine soil, and will finally become the earth itself, as will

we all, following nature’s cycle of creation, growth, maturity, senescence, death, and rebirth,

into a new form. The trees give back more than they have taken from the earth; they add

their chlorophyll-derived energy, new carbon chains, new nutrients for the next generation.

Their moist, wooden roots break the bedrock, millimeter by millimeter, making new resources

available, adding to the never ceasing flux and flow of the biome, the inexorable force of life

that the earth longs for, aches for. Life wanted to happen here; it wants it still, here on this

planet, bathing in the warm light of this sun. It began with a desire as dire as sex, an urgent

urge that could not be denied.

And what about us, the human animals, the builders and destroyers, the talkers and

occasional listeners? Somehow, we, too, will nourish our next generation. We will feed them

with… what? Truth and love? Or will it be lies and ruined dreams? A nutritious heritage of hope

and success, or the poisons of hatred, regrets, and a legacy of failure? Will they be able to build

on what we have left them, or will we leave them to rediscover life for themselves?





Carmen and I rode up the creek

towards the mountains, winding through

the trees, crisscrossing the creek as we

searched out the smoothest trail through

the boulders. The horseshoes made their

characteristic click-clacking on the stones,

together with the slow-motion ker-PLUNKs

when the nine-inch diameter foot of a

thousand-pound horse plopped down

into two feet of water. We were still in the

urban-ish area, but we saw almost nothing

of the city. We were in a long and narrow

piece of wildness, a desert place that was

sometimes dry, sometimes a nicely flowing

stream, and sometimes a flood like the

wrath of God. Today the water was tame

and fresh, and the world smelled like horses,

and green, and love.

It was our wedding day—long in

the making, short in the planning. We were

going to be married at my house, which

would now be our house, the house built

by my great-great-grandfather Jesús

Ignacio Olivares Ramirez. There wasn’t

much left of the original house. It had been

rebuilt several times over the centuries,

although there was still one section of

non-weight bearing adobe wall by the old

kitchen that my grandfather told me was

the original. And he’d still let me climb on it

until I was six.

Our friends and family were getting

the house ready for the wedding and the

party, their gift to us. Everything was

taken care of. So I left on Easy right after

breakfast. I picked up Carmen at her house,

a quarter mile upstream, and we headed

into the mountains.


Sabino Creek rises from icy springs

Maya Kendrick

Everything’s Blue

Painting, Watercolor, 8”x8”


high on the slopes of the highest mountain

in the Santa Catalina range, Mt. Lemmon,

home to the southernmost ski area in North

America. The climate there resembles parts

of Canada more than southern Arizona; as

close to heaven as we can get, around here.

The creek leaves its alpine forest home

in a hurry (as the young are wont to do),

plummeting down from high escarpments,

carving narrow chutes through the steep

granite massif. It drops 6,000 feet in

elevation in only seven miles, watering in

turn conifer trees, then oaks and junipers,

then continuing to change life-zones

with each drop in elevation; manzanitas,

shin-daggers, century plants, and finally

ocotillos and prickly pears, where it ends

up serenely flowing out onto the floor of

the Sonoran Desert. It continues south

two miles to Carmen’s house, built in 1979,

another quarter mile to mine, 200 years

older, and then it gradually and gracefully

sinks into the sand, accepting its fate and

its all-too-short lifespan, contributing to

the underground river that goes through

Tucson, the Rillito, and continuing

on, enduring the purgatory of every

misunderstood and abused desert river,

until at last it finds rest in the Sea of Cortez.


My Easy horse and Carmen’s horse,

François-Marie, whom she also called

Twinkie sometimes, were old pals now.

François-Marie was a sorrel quarter horse

mare, shorter than Easy by an inch or three,

a little stockier, and a couple of years older.

They walked close together, side by side,

when the trail was wide enough, sometimes

making Carmen’s and my legs rub together.

Their sizes were similar enough that nobody




got too pushed around. Easy was a highenergy

Appaloosa, a young six years old, but broken country. We left the trail and went

along the base of the mountain, rough,

he was calmer with François than he was up a small wash that appeared to lead to

with anybody else; normally he was a fast a dead end. But in less than a quarter of a

walker, thinking more about seeing what mile, a hidden passageway was revealed.

was around the bend than taking time to There was an opening to our left, an overlap

smell the roses, but Twink was like a big between the stony walls that led to a hidden

sister to him; he liked being around her, and oasis, invisible from the main trail. It was

even if he was rowdy, she maintained her a little valley that reached into a nook of

queen-like composure.

the mountain, an acre or two in size. The

So, we

granite cliffs rose

all walked along

sharply in an irregular

companionably. The

circle on every side,

sun dappled through

completely enclosing

“Like every part of the desert, this

the trees and the

the pasture except for

place was full of life and death,

stream kept up its

the narrow entrance

both at the same time.”

white noise. This

we’d come through on

was what we loved,

its southeast side. It

a respite from the

was our own private

modern world, moving through this demiparadise

with the rich sensations—the

light of late autumn.

sanctuary, lit this morning by the low angle

sounds, sights, smells, and feelings of travel

We hobbled the horses, took off

on horseback—of another time, an atavistic their bridles and put on halters with short

dream that she and I had been in before and lead ropes hanging, loosened the saddles

a dream that Carmen, Holly and I had all

a bit and left them to graze. Carmen and I

shared, together and in every combination climbed up onto a pile of boulders and sat

of twos.

side by side, 10 feet off the ground.

It didn’t take too long to cover the

“So,” Carmen said. “Today’s the day.”

two miles from her house to where the

“Today’s the day,” I said. I leaned into

mountains abruptly erupted from the

her, put my arm around her, and gave her a

ground, shooting up steeply. It was here

long kiss.

that the Forest Service land began. The river

She took a deep breath, looking at

continued upstream to a recreation area,

me and our secret valley with a happy smile.

but we turned east at the Forest fence and “This is such a beautiful place.” The entire

rode along it, a hilly, rocky route, until we area was quiet, far from traffic noise, and

came to a gate.

here, behind the mountain walls, it was even

“Ah,” Carmen said, “so this is where more peaceful.

we’re going.”

She scooted a few inches away from

We’d come this way before. Through me on the rock, making room so she could

the gate was a faint trail that led northeast hug her knees to her chest—one of her


comfort poses. “I came here a time or two

with you and Holly, remember?” she said.

She had taken her baseball cap off

and was letting her hair move in the faint


“Yes, I do remember.”

“And I imagine you came here with

her before I even knew you, too,” she said.

I nodded. Holly was my late wife, my

soulmate, my friend, and the mother of my

daughter. Carmen had been friends with us

both. Holly had died over three years before.

Ovarian cancer. “Yes, we did. She loved this

place,” I said.

The sun got higher. It was warm

but not hot. We watched the horses nosing

around the ground and scraping at the rock

with their front feet. The sun glinted on bits

of mica in the mountain walls surrounding

us and made the angled quartz inserts shine

with a clean white light.

We were quiet then, but it felt like

there was something to say. I had brought

my saddlebags up onto the rock with me,

and now I opened them and pulled out some

little boxes of food; multi-grain crackers,

brie, pears, blueberries. A big bottle of water.

I moved over to create some space between

us and laid the food out on the rock. I spread

some brie on a cracker and handed it to her,

leaving the box with the fruit in it open. She

smiled and said, “Thanks,” and took a bite.

“I know we’ve talked about this,” she

said, “but now here we are at the day, and

I’m still… I don’t know. I love you, I want to

marry you, and yet there is a part of Holly

that is still here for me.”

I looked at Carmen in her riding

clothes. She was wearing a white, long

sleeved western shirt with snap buttons,

jeans, and boots. She was strong and brown,

like Holly had been, but she was a little more

filled out. She was born almost two years

after Holly and now she was 38, twice the

age Holly had been when I met her. I was

52. Carmen had been a good friend to us, a

frequent visitor in our home, and we in hers.

I nodded. “Yes, she is still a part of

me, too. She always will be, because of Beck

and also just because our marriage was a big

part of my life.

“But then again, I don’t think you’ve

spent the last 20 years being a nun,” I said

with a smile. “We both have history.”

“Well, yeah, but still… I mean, I know

it’s right, I think you and I are perfect,” she

said, “and yet, there is this added dimension

of sadness and loss and maybe a few tiny

shades of guilt and betrayal of my friend.”


“So… here’s the thing,” Carmen said.

“I’m just going to say this to get it out. In

actually marrying you, I feel like I’m taking

over something that’s not mine. I want to

be—I want to continue to be—with you,

and I know, I already spend a lot of time

with you in your house and with Beck, but

somehow, to actually marry you and move

in with you, to become the ‘lady of the

house,’ to become the step-mother, it feels…

well, it feels great, but it also feels wrong

somehow, like I’m erasing Holly. Replacing


The horses had wandered a little

bit around the park, and now they drifted

closer to us, listening to our voices. Like

every part of the desert, this place was full

of life and death, both at the same time.

Walk just about anywhere in the Sonoran

Desert and you’ll find a ton of life, a huge,



Eva Kamenetski

Those Squeaky Floors

Photograph, Gelatin Silver Print 8”x8.1”


diverse array of life forms, and you’ll also

find death everywhere; trees with some live

branches and some dead ones, every kind of

cactus with both living specimens as well

as dead cactus bodies lying casually on the

desert floor. Death seems to be a part of life

here, and the desert doesn’t let us forget it.

There are plenty of dead plant carcasses in

wetter, more temperate climes, of course,

but in those places, they tend to be covered

up with climbing vines, moss, grasses,

bushes, and sprouting trees greedy for the

additional light that the absence of the

fallen trees allows in. The dead are hidden

by the living.

There is no hiding death in this

desert. Indeed, the dead form a part of the

structure of the desert itself, they are as

much a feature of the desert as are the

living. When the big plants of the desert die,

the first thing that happens is that their

green, watery skin shrivels and falls off.

Then their moist innards dry up and blow

away, and ultimately what is left is their

secret, inner structure. Their backbones,

their skeletons; the spirit that let them live

for so long in this place somehow remains.

A hidden beauty is revealed; the complex

weavings of cholla wood, the long, straight

spinal columns of saguaros, their spindly,

fragile ribs ordered together to form a

powerful tower.

In life, these plants were hardworking,

their green skins harvesting the

energy of the sun. They busily stored up

water to fight the arid heat; your basic,

journeyman plant, doing its thing.

In death, at last we see the true

power of what was holding them up the

whole time.


“Holly had her place here,” I said,

“and before her, my parents, and my

grandparents, and their parents before


them, all the way back, for generations. That

house is made of adobe, it is made of the

earth of this place, with a history extending

back uncounted eons.

“It feels to me as if none of us really

own it—it’s truer to say that it owns us. And

it, and I, and everyone who is a part of this

place, including Holly’s spirit, all the way

back to my ancestor Olivares-Ramirez, who

came with de Anza, all welcome you as the

next Mother Superior of our—your and


She sighed and moved closer to me. I

pulled her even closer, crushing her against

me, and I put my hand low on her abdomen,

still flat today, but soon to become swollen

and round.

“When are we going to tell people?”

she said.

“I think who we tell is the question.

Beck, and…”

She thought for a moment. “Hey,

Easy,” she whispered, looking at the horses.

Easy lifted his head at just that moment,

looking at us. “I’ve got some news for you.”

“Oh, please. That guy’s a

blabbermouth. Tell François-Marie instead.”

“Our friends are pretty smart. They’ll

probably figure it out when they start

hearing a baby crying in the house.”

“They might just think it’s me—you

know I cry all the time.”

“Hmm… True. How about the shitty

diapers? Will that differentiate you and

your son?”

“My son, you say? Ah, yes, our son,”

I said, tasting the words as they rolled

over my tongue. “He was proven to be well

endowed on that last ultrasound.”

“Just like his father,” she whispered,

holding my head close with her hand.

“Remind me again about that…”


Our clothes made an adequate bed

on a clean spot of desert sand—no withered

cactus skins with a few stray thorns left; I

checked—and we melded together with an

urge as powerful as an ocean wave, with a

force as gentle as a late autumn sun, with a

mutual care and technique that kept most

of the sand off us and out of us—but with

enough sand to keep us grounded in this

smooth-rough world.

She didn’t let this interrupt our

conversation. “I know I can’t be Rebecca’s

mother,” she said.

I gazed into her eyes from an inch

away, smiling.

“But I don’t think I need a title to

pour love out on all those that I call mine.

And I call you mine,” she said, snuggling

closer, even as we were making love, even in

the very act, her lips touching mine as she

spoke, breathing her words and her ideas

with our rhythm, breathing her love and her

life into me. “I call you mine, you and all of

yours, and I make myself yours, me and all I


“And I, you, likewise, to include us

all,” I said. “We are all of them…”

“…united in love and purpose, for you,

for me, for everyone…”





Matthew Martella

Darkness has a soul.


It is not evil.

It is without action, intent, or meaning.

Darkness simply observes,

Beholding the dancing expressions of light.

Light is said to be the infinite one,

But without humble darkness’ stage,

What games could fractal rainbows play?

Do not fear that deep, beautiful soul.

That infinite eye that beholds all light.



Kelly Franck

Aphrodite’s Rose

Sculpture, 5”x15”


Rick Spriggs


Sculpture, Ceramic and Copper, 14” high


The Stars

Destiny Brooks

The stars litter the midnight sky

Creating a beautiful work of art,

An everlasting story

The stars provide a pathway to a world of light

Where darkness isn’t feared.

Alone I sit, cold and in pain

Curious of the wonders above

Curious of how my life could have been

My tears dry up as I look upon the twinkling mass of petite lights

And I stare and wonder


I wonder whether it’s freedom I look upon

Or entrapment

Whether given the choice would they leave, or would they stay?

It was a choice I had to make for myself...

Like the stars I provide light for not only myself but for others

However, my world is surrounded in darkness

But it’s the darkness that allows people to see the real me.

In the light, I hide the pain that has haunted my life for as long as I can remember

But as darkness falls, I feel everything I have endured slip between the cracks in the walls

I have created for myself

I’m in a frozen state, never sure what may become of me until the day the little light in me burns out

and I cease to be who I am now.

A pawn in a game of time...


Forgotten and casted away to make room for the new...

To make room for the better...

Although the stars provide light, hope and a pathway to better,

They like us won’t last forever,

They’ll tire of their prisons in the sky

Only visible when the sun cascades into a journey of sleep

They like us can only shine for so long before the darkness wraps its arms around it and


what little light it has left...

We all have a light in us, some shine greater than others, but we’re all the same

So, as I stare upon the stars, I look upon my choices: Should I stay, or should I go?

Would life be better without me or would people miss me like they would if the stars were to



all the things i never say

Christopher Valenzuela


I drink a lot of coffee because hey at least I’m not addicted to cocaine anymore and

somehow it feels better to say I drank 4 grande iced coffees instead of I took a full 20bag to

my nose last night.

I’m doing fine as long as I’m not worrying about what I say what I do what I think what I

wear if I’m being too gay if I’m not being gay enough and honestly I don’t know if I can be

left alone with my thoughts most of the time.

I love my friends but sometimes I wonder if I am even good enough to be their friend I

wonder if I am too dumb or too uninteresting for them to really like me because how can

people like this want to be around people like me.

I want to fall in love but there is some part of me that feels like I don’t deserve to drown

myself in it like I want to and so I block myself off from others because that feels so much

easier than trying to let someone in again only for them to leave.

I am gay and I only say that because it is just so much easier than explaining that I am

like water I am fluid in all aspects of who I am and who I love and who I fuck and my

preferences change day to day and moon to moon.


Sometimes I feel like I got to spend all this time nurturing and loving this queer part of

myself only to be forced to share it with the rest of the world so that they can use it to give

themselves substance and damn that’s fucked up because I shouldn’t have to feel like I

can’t ever really own myself.

Sometimes I think about all the “straight” men I have “corrupted” and I cry because maybe I

was only trying to prove to myself that I wasn’t worthy of knowing what love felt like and

why would I do that? Because hurting myself is easier than letting other people hurt me.

Sometimes I wonder if my friends will ever really understand who I want to be when I

grow up because it feels like I am in the wrong for wanting to be so ambitious and for

wanting to leave a me-shaped imprint on the minds of those I meet. But what does the

imprint of someone who is so fluid even really look like?


Sometimes I just sit in my shower and let the water hit my face while I dissociate and think

about all the things I’ve done wrong because I didn’t make time for the gym this week, or

last week, and I ate that whole plate of French fries but didn’t eat a salad and maybe having

an eating disorder wasn’t such a bad thing to have if the alternative is this.

Sometimes I think about just taking a shot or buying a bag and setting up lines because

I’m bored with my routine and all I do is wake up and go to school and go to work and

smile and wave and pretend like I’m not actually falling apart and it feels like I have no

fun anymore and didn’t my friends call me more often when I was this manic dream that

couldn’t remember if today was last week or next month and I miss not feeling anything

because at least I never worried about if I was good enough on the outside.


Afternoons in the Park

Missy (Tamara) Fowler


Walking in the park

kites in both your hands

A basketball tucked

Under your left arm.

I’m trailing behind

Making sure you don’t

Drop or lose our stuff.

It is what you are

Good at most often,

Losing anything.

Last week you even lost

Your wallet on your own bed.

We pass the giant

Sprawling juniper

Up the gently sloped

Hill that we prefer

With fewer trees here

Less chance of a kite

Getting stuck again.

You get kites prepared

Launching them high up

Tethered down to you

By the thinnest line

Like you’re tied to me

Fragile and rigid.

Your face lights up and

My heart breaks open

Because you rarely,

Hardly ever, smile.

But when you do it

I treasure every one.

A pigeon flies past

Children giggling

Playing on the slide

Breaking me from my

Contemplation of

The lines of your face

Sharp and soft combined

Playing in the park

We become kids too.


Elliana Koput

They Climbed It Anyway




Ana Mary Garza

Autism Collection: Eugenio’s Family

Sculpture, Clay, 19”x6.10”


Ana Mary Garza

Autism Collection: Protection Cloud

Sculpture, Clay, 10.6”x5.7”


Ana Mary Garza

Autism Collection: Inside Out

Sculpture, Clay, 8.4”x4.3”


Ana Mary Garza

Autism Collection: Humankind

Sculpture, Clay, 16.1”x9.8”



Wendy Wiener

We is the label on the family box

that contains layers of right and wrong, good

and bad, who we accept and who we

reject. The lid fits snugly. Smugly


We passes from generation to

generation, from home to

home. It goes along when travelling,

domestic or abroad

We allows no space for discussion or

dissent. We has no room for why. We

is simply the way things are done. It’s

how we live and we die.

But maybe, just maybe, someone needs

to look, to see if perhaps things have changed

Find twine and tie the lid down tight, then

continue as always

Maybe this is the time to untie

the knot, to pick off the tape

and open the box. Dig through the layers

of always

But maybe, just maybe, someone wants

to peek, to seek the reasons for

these rules. Tape the box shut and continue

as always

Air out those family biases and

convictions that have lived through time

Withered thoughts without purpose

On its contents a new light shine

A senseless idea

An unwarranted fear

A prejudice held so dear

Oh, the possibility to be free

from what is no longer We.

Return these feelings to the box, marked

We: This ignorance is now history



Rhea Stanley

Helping Hands

Drawing, 18”x24”



Jack Davidson


Color Woodcut Plate, 6 3/4” x 8 1/2”


Remembrance of Winter’s Loss

Joseph de Leon Reilly

Stay safe,

I went away to the north,

North to get an education.

I love you!

Stay safe,

Six classes and a passion,

Scholarships and hard work,

Passionate in our future.

I love you!


Stay safe,

Long months away,

We talked less than before.

I remembered to call every week.

Every week getting longer,

Away from your side.

I love you!


I love you,

Inscribed on a small band,

Rose gold to compliment sage eyes,

Forged into a puzzled ring.

You would never be bored,

Afterall, you had my heart on your finger

A small band complicated and tight,

Stay safe.


Stay safe,

Classes went well,

but you needed help.

And so, six plus stipend and a job.

Grades fell hard,

But you were well.

I love you.

I love you,

Meals became short.

You needed my coat,

To Maryland for a military ball.

Have fun!

You went with a friend,

But would not call.

Short on time,

…please stay safe.


Stay safe,

You needed more,

But you wouldn’t call.

I hope your dad is okay.

I sold what I didn’t need,

More hours to work.

I love you.

Stay safe,

My parents called me home,

Only after seeing skin and bone.

I’ll be home soon.

I love you…


I’ll keep her safe,

I left my future in the January snow,

With a tear in my eyes I saw the picture.

An invitation with you in white dress,

In the arms of uniformed man,

With love,


Stay safe.

I left that place with nothing but a suitcase,

Leaving only a walnut box and rose gold ring in the snow.

…I loved you.


Am I Enough?

Joshua Lindley


Am I enough?

Once promised yearning of your sweet embrace

Forbidden feelings falling from your face

The mask slips from an endless life of faux

Must the many moon passes frighten you so

Am I enough?

A soft touch cooling the skin, boils the blood

The thoughts of you coming in like a flood

The dreadful denial eating through the soul

When the brash babbling banter takes its toll

Am I enough?

Will a champion best the trials of your heart?

Stone fracturing, removing the rampart

Rise the conqueror of scattered debris

Am I enough for you, to be set free?



Vanessa Ibarra

Head Cheese



Bottom of the Bottle

Christopher Valenzuela

You put your hands around my body. Keep me close. The same way the men in

those novels your mom used to read keep their lovers. You put your lips to my neck

drink me.

You let me warm your body, fill in all the spaces you didn’t know were left

empty and you won’t ever know that they’re empty

not if I’m right here to fill them up.


I promise to never let the world hurt you.

I promise to keep you here with me. I promise

you’re beautiful. I promise to never flood you

like the monsoons in summertime. I promise

all sorts of things, intoxicated in your touch.

And we dance and sing and play and laugh and time

is anything but linear

when I’m here with you.

And this is euphoria. This

is what the poets and the storytellers have all been chasing. And

you found it, bottled up here with me.

You put your hands around my body. Keep me close. The same way the men in

those novels your mom used to read keep their lovers. You lose track of all your days they

seem to blur into one.

You think

I’m to blame and so you say that we’re done.

You make excuses for why I’m no longer around, but you can’t seem to think

about anything else. And all your friends can do is talk about the nights when we

flooded their feed. And I am needy,

so I show up to all the

places they invite me, knowing damn well that you’ll be there

and hoping you


might see me. And maybe

you think to yourself I wasn’t all to blame. Maybe there are plenty of fish out there,

but we don’t have the hooks and lines to reel them in. So you reach out for me

wary of what I might do. But I take you in

wrap you up in my scent

hoping you’ll realize that I meant all those things I promised.


put your lips to my neck

drink me

You let me warm your body fill in all the spaces you now know are empty, but that I can



they are


And this is euphoria.

You put your hands around my body. Keep me close. The same way the men in those

novels your mom used to read hold their lovers.

And I don’t keep all my promises.

Your empty spaces are left at that.

Cold and barren


but you still cling to me because I am strong and proud and selfish

and oh, so needy. I need you just as much as you need me. And I want you to

drink me let me fill those spaces

but soon those craters become

caverns and those caverns

become canyons and I am not a

river that runs into the ocean.

So now we are both just spent lying on the floor in the aftermath of our dance.

I am empty

so are you.

Still you put your hands around my body. Keep me close. The same way the men in those

novels your mom used to read keep their lovers. But you never read those novels so

you don’t know what comes after all the crying and the kisses in the rain and the ecstasy.



Ulises Ramos

One Day Closer

Photopolymer Plate, 10”x11”


c’est la vie (that’s life)

Christopher Valenzuela

C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la

vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie.

C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie. C’est la vie.

C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est

la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est

la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.C’est la vie.

C’est la vieC’est la vieC’est la vieC’est la vieC’est la vie

C’est la vieC’est la vieC’est la vieC’est la vieC’est la

vieC’est la vieC’est la vieC’est la vieC’est la vie.

C’estla vieC’estla vieC’estla vieC’estla vie

C’estla vieC’estla vieC’estla vieC’estla

vieC’estla vieC’estla vieC’estla vie

















A Modern Love Tale

Cade Walsh


Forsaken now as he was in

The past

A heavenly cry

A heavenly groan

He lies on the bed

As she moans

The cloth falls to the carpeted floor just

As the stars had fallen in the twilight

Hour of that

Forsaken evening

Could she hear the thoughts layered and

Rattling around like a scrap of parchment

With the name of the dope dealer around

The corner who would always treat you

Like an actual fucking human being

Lost in the wind

But she was prey, indeed so as he said

In the jungle where they found themselves

Clothes clustered on that carpeted floor space

He entered and felt the force

Almost immediately

Could he not do this here, at this time, at

This place, with his palms laid bare to the


Visions thrust into his mind like the

Strokes he was about to perform

in sacred ritual

But he was paralyzed, still

Lilies floating on the bright blue surface

Of that lake he had envisioned not too

Far in the past

Was this to be as the millennium

Marched onwards

Looking up, cursing the heavens with

A cry and a moan

Cut down like wheat from a scythe of


Oh how the ancients feast

Oh how they revel in the capture of this

Deranged beast


Ana Mary Garza


Sculpture, Clay, 10.6”x7.8”


Ana Mary Garza


Sculpture, Clay, 21.6”x5.3”


Rick Larke



Digital Photograph, 8”x10”

Boundaries Were Nothing

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith

I imagined the clouds were the Angel of Independence in Mexico City.

Wings, arms ready for the next day,

the next earthquake,

the next time smoke from Popo infused

the car horns, the future crowding into el metro.


When I was 18, I spent the summer there with my mother who libraried her days in

academic adventures. Most of my days were filled with journeys through los calles

with the almost-grown children of my mother’s old law school friends.

One thought himself a formula one driver,

because at 18 who does not believe they cannot be anything but beautiful

and bullet-proof

Another a wanna be banker, financier -- a nerd who spent a grip of time

getting ready to venture out into the incredible pollution:

No wrinkles on his clean clothes,

his hair in perfect resistance to the mythic winds.


The young woman was on summer break

from some boarding school near New York. A bad seed?

Her mouth was a ripe papaya.

Some nights the four of us ended up at wild parties,

the loud music vibrating everyone’s desires.

And there, in rooms crowded by privileged youth,

I sensed that boundaries were nothing more than suggestions,

inconsistent reckonings.


As long as one kept the drugs discrete,

or did not end up naked,

passed out in a pool of vomit in front of Bellas Artes,

all was in play.

Mota was passed around, some pills came out,

and there was never enough ice to keep the cans of beer cold.

Some boys put on lipstick and the girls danced with each other

all night long,

Prince’s music making everyone forget the devaluation of currency.

And as long as I did what my mother wanted--

meet others and practice my Spanish,

what was the problem?


Of course later it became obvious--

health and joy are never as interesting as that which

seduces damage.


We all hated walking back to the car,

knowing it was too late to sleep.

The drives home were fast and quiet.

Wheels screaming and no one saying nada.

What graceful words can be shared at 90 miles per hour

on an empty 6 lane boulevard

that circled its own history?

Because it is known that no one should believe

too dearly in a life that could vanish.

They all knew I would leave before September,

going back to a regular life,

and each of them looking at each other’s eyes,

and understanding they will be taken out of this life and destroyed.

One day they would arise and look like their fathers,

work where their fathers worked,

behave like their fathers.


Men who were too old at 45, men who imposed an order above all else.

Starched shirts, coming home and napping in the middle of the day,

maintaining the expression that says,

“I just watched a car hit a stroller and no me pasó nada.”

That summer ended.

None of us old enough to understand

little of hope’s indifference.

My inner Boy Scout repeating melancholy I who had been we.


Kathryn Robertson


Benedict Cumberbatch: a Study

Painting, Oil on Canvas, 11”x14”

Dead Past

Courtney Hayes Armstrong

We should have cornbread sometime, you and I

Shoot the breeze, chit chat, you know, chew the fat

And think back to when we were high, bright eyed

Wine and grey salt lines of sweat on your hat

Handsome you, when you winked at me, I’d winked at you

Climbed to the top of the loft of nude wood

Cocky you, wanted me, I’d wanted you


But I knew we never could, never should

You ever return to that yellow barn?

I heard it call you when I grabbed your hand

Knives sharpened and horses squealed in alarm

You spared the mares but cut my virgin land

It would be wrong to ever dare abstain

Here, shuck this corn and we’ll go once again

I would slather you with melted butter

Let it drip down my forearms onto you

Merely larded sticks on one another

I’d beg, plead, please, anoint me all of you

No words this time, only hot silent vows

Closed eyes, wide lips peaking above my hips

The stars our sole witness, duct tape on mouths

Our breath caught in twinkling celestial fists

The memory razors me into lamb

I traffic the blood with a tourniquet

Your love too strong for the cloth-covered dam

Your marrow my heart’s only ligature

Am I wrong? Are you wrong? Were we so wrong?

Wait, I can hear the stars singing our song


Boy, you’ve changed, but not into a man

With your towheaded views yellowed by hate

A fisherman in fields of maize, stagnant

Rubbers glued to the muddy stalks of fate

Loneliness does not make you waterproof

It can not extinguish love’s pheromones

Jump free out of those soggy socks and boots

Leap into my pan of pure masa love

You won’t, you can’t, you wouldn’t ever dare

That would paint you hungry, unsatisfied

So, you smeared suicide into the air

Made me bleed to prove I, too, am alive

Forgive me, I send you one last invite

We should have cornbread sometime, you and I


The Voice, Lost; Inspiration, Found

A.Z. Chance Martinez


Who are you? You—who couldn’t choose?

You, who dared light that fuse,

Only to lose and lose, over and over!

Seemingly faster and faster––

A wild thing with no master,

It is your voice—your voice that sings––

Which rings, through my mind,

This is why, you, I seek to find!

Freedom of this bind; once, my muse

But alas, simply, only, a fleeting ruse,

But one, again, I’d choose, for you

Inspire such love, pain, joy; yet you

Know not what you do, for you

Of so very few, but again, alas

This feeling too, shall inevitably pass!

So, to another, who shall inspire;

Feeding an ever-growing, ravenous pyre

Consuming, entirely, frail sanity

Seeking out any who would free me––

Calling out any, who’d make that choice!

Screaming out; a dying plea…

Then, only then, did vision come to me;

There! hidden in front of me; the voice

Inside which continued to hide,

Found, before one drowned—rejoice––

You were never that face; another––

You were one and the same; together

In that place, the face in the mirror;

That needn’t ever fear, for no matter

Your voice, true, begs to be let go—

Begging, needing to scream to show

A daz’ling display of fireworks…why

Can we never, truly, fully see that voice

That echoes inside of me—a cry

Begging to be found in every dying sound…

Singing, only wishing, yearning to be free;

Our voice, our rock, hidden upon the ground

Needing, waiting, ever-lively, ever patiently

To be found; truly, undeniably unbound—

Free…to be, to sound, for all to see



Luis Angel Figureoa Medina


Photograph, 8”x10”



Rhea Stanley


Drawing, 18”x24”


I’m Right Here

Heidi Saxton

Steve brushed the small gash on

his head. His fingertips came

back sticky, coated in wet, hot blood. Steve

planted his palms in the gravel and pushed

his thin body up. His vision blurred and he

swayed to the left, reaching out towards

the hot metal pole holding up the swing set

to steady himself. Blood poured from his

forehead onto the rocks in heavy splats. His

stomach turned at the red splotches. He

didn’t notice the crowd of sweaty fourth

grade boys gathering around them. All he

could hear was his heart. Thud. Thud. Thud.

He grasped the hot metal pole

holding up the swing set. Steve looked up at

the goliath boy. I need to get out of here.

The goliath was only one year older

than Steve, but he had almost thirty pounds

on him. The goliath’s shirt rode up exposing

his large belly. He barreled towards Steve

hunched over like a football player going in

for a tackle. He pushed Steve to the ground

and grabbed onto a fistful of his shirt with

his beefy, dimpled hands. The goliath hit

Steve in the face. He could taste blood. He

wiggled out of the goliath’s grip and scuttled


The students booed when Steve ran




towards the fence lining the playground.

“Yeah run away, coward!” the goliath

screamed after him. The crowd cheered.


Steve didn’t turn back. He clambered

over the chain-link fence protecting the

playground from the decrepit neighborhood

surrounding it. The blood from his forehead

mixed with tears streaming down his face,

but he kept pushing forward, forward,

forward. His tennis shoes pounded against

the cracked asphalt and his feet ached and

his heart slammed against his ribcage. But

he kept running.

He slowed to a jog once he got close

to his house and used the hem of his shirt

to wipe the remainder of the blood from

his face. By the time he reached the bottom

of the crumbled brick steps in front of his

house, his whole family was standing on

the porch. It wasn’t very often Steve saw

them all together. They almost resembled

a family, a broken one perhaps, but one

that might actually love each other. His

older brother, Justin, had one arm wrapped

around their mother and the other slung

through the shoulder of his backpack.

Steve’s oldest brother, Toby, sat on the

top step looking down at him. She must

have taken Justin and Toby out of school

early so she could gather them into her

performance. Steve watched his mother

twist her face into one of despair.

“I’m too upset to even look at him

right now,” she wailed. She was only thirtysix,

but she looked old, older than Steve

had ever seen her. Her sweatshirt hung

loose around her small frame. He could see

the heavy bags under her eyes beneath

her makeup and the gray on the top of her

head growing into her dyed-brown hair. She

pulled a cigarette and a lighter out of the

back pocket of her velvet sweatpants.

Toby looked bored, but Justin’s eyes

were wide as though he were truly moved

by her act.

“Look at you, Steve. Your shirt’s

covered in blood.” She looked down at

Toby’s disinterested face and back towards

Steve’s bloody one. “I don’t know why I even

bother with you.” She pushed Justin away

and looked at all three of them. “Any of you,”

she spat, slamming the screen door shut

behind her.

Justin winced. Toby stood up from

his perch on the steps and sauntered down

to Steve. Toby was tall for fourteen with

a bit of muscle, bleached blonde buzz-cut

hair and a diamond stud in his right ear.

He was wearing a wife beater and low

riding sweatpants with the waistband of

his boxers peeking out the top. Toby’s face

looked just like the pictures of their dad

that were littered around the house. He

tried hard not to with the hair and earring,

but the resemblance was undeniable.

Steve once asked Justin why Toby

wanted to show everyone his underwear.

“Toby just wants to look tough,”

Justin told him. “You know that piercing he

said he gave himself in the bathroom? I was

at the strip mall with him when he got it.


Sometimes it’s just easier to pretend, Stevie.”

Steve thought Toby did look tough

towering over him.

“Mom got a call from the school,

one of the kids told a teacher you got into

a fight. This is your first fight, yeah?” Toby

cracked a smile and clapped him hard on the

back. “Ten years old. Good shit, Stevie. Next

time don’t run away like a little bitch. You

hear me, Stevie? Even if you take a beating,

you always finish the fight.” He picked Steve

up and threw him over his shoulders in a

fireman carry. “Let’s get ya cleaned up.”


On a humid Saturday afternoon in

July, almost three years later, Justin and

Steve celebrated their birthdays. Steve’s

birthday was three weeks after Justin’s, but

Mom always had their parties together to

save money. Steve begged Mom for a party

all on his own, but she called him selfish.

Justin pulled Steve aside before the

party started and promised him it would be


“I didn’t really invite anyone,” Justin

explained. “It’ll basically be your party. We’ll

just be sharing a cake.” He looked down at

his feet.

Justin had the same dimples and

blue eyes. He was tall like Toby but much

thinner. Sometimes when Steve would look

at him, he’d be scared that Justin would

be carried off by the wind. He was wearing

his nice button-up that Mom bought at

Ross and jeans for the party. She liked to

take care of him. When they were younger,

Vanessa Ibarra

Funk Head




Grace M Johnson

Purple Dragon

Hand Drawn, 8”x10”



Justin would sit at the edge of Mom’s bed

and watch her curl her hair instead of

playing with Steve and Toby. At one-point,

Steve was jealous of perfect Justin, the

favorite, but he liked spending time with

Toby more anyway.

Toby ran up behind the two and put

Justin in a headlock.

“I have gifts for the birthday boys,”

he said, tussling Justin’s hair. He pulled two

boxes out from the drawer behind them.

“Here you go, Stevie. Open that baby up.” He


Steve ripped the Christmas wrapping

paper off his box and pulled out a fresh pair

of Nike track shoes. He traced his finger

over the bright white fabric. They looked

expensive, too expensive for the stained

salmon carpet in the hallway and peeling

wallpaper. Steve went in for a bear hug.

“Thank you, Toby.”

“No problem. You’re a real runner

now. Gonna be the fastest boy out here.”

Steve watched as Justin carefully peeled

the paper off his gift and lifted the lid off the

box. Steve stood on his toes and peered into

Justin’s box. Inside was a slightly beat up

laptop and Moleskine notebook. He looked

between Justin’s frowning face and Toby’s

cocky smirk.

“How did you pay for this?” Justin


Toby shrugged.

“You’re the smart one, Justin. You’re

gonna get outta here. I know it. I just wanna

help you do it. Same goes for you, Stevie.

You’re both getting out of here. Oh, I almost

forgot!” He rolled his sleeve up to show a

new tattoo. It was all three of their initials

messily printed on his forearm. “We gotta

stick together.” He put his arms around

Justin and Steve. “We’re family. I’ll fight for

both of you. No matter what.”

“The smart one,” Justin muttered. He

smiled, but Steve thought it looked empty.

Later that night, they cut the grocery

sheet cake down the middle. Mom had

written a fifteen for Justin on one side and a

thirteen for Steve on the other in rosy-pink

frosting. She placed it on a bulky table she

had Toby move to the small concrete patio

behind their house. The thick, checkered

vinyl tablecloth Mom always used for

birthdays was ripping down the center and

the weathered plastic chairs sat unsteadily

on the patchy yellow grass surrounding

the concrete. The boys from Steve’s class

huddled around the cake. Steve thought

they looked more excited to gorge on the

cake than to mumble along to Happy

Birthday. If it weren’t for Toby kicked

back in his chair, laughing and smoking a

hand-rolled cigarette, Steve would’ve been

miserable in the trashy backyard.


The first time Justin came home

high, Steve was fourteen. He almost got up

and crawled into Justin’s bed to hold him,

but he couldn’t get his body to move.

Justin had come home late that

night. Steve heard him in the bathroom

throwing up before he saw Justin’s outline




stumbling around their room. Justin

couldn’t stand up straight, and he collapsed

into bed. He let out a soft cry like a wounded


The next morning when Steve saw

him, he wanted to say something, but he

didn’t know how. He wanted to tell Toby.

Toby would know how to fix this, but Justin

looked fine. Steve kept his secret, but it kept

happening. Eventually, Steve stayed up

every night waiting for Justin to shuffle in,

collapse on the bed and cry out quietly in


Steve was angry at Justin, or maybe

just at himself. He couldn’t tell. But when

Justin would sneak in at night, Steve

wanted to scream at him to stop, but he was

too afraid. He said nothing.


In high school, Steve joined the track

team. He loved the way running made him

feel. When he really pushed himself and all

he could hear was his heartbeat. He stopped

thinking about Mom coming home high

late at night, Toby failing to find a job or

finding Justin sobbing in the bathroom, the

homework he didn’t finish or the money

he didn’t have. The thudding in his chest

drowned out all the other noise and he felt

weightless. He could outrun anything. When

Steve laced his tennis shoes, he was free.

The summer before junior year,

Steve was out running every morning at

4:30 when all the dingy houses were still

sleeping. This was the perfect time to break

in the new pair of red tennis shoes Toby


Connie Nicholson

Yellow Chairs Convention

Painting, Oil on Canvas, 16”x20”



in the new pair of red tennis shoes Toby

bought him for his birthday. He liked to

start slow, a leisurely jog, no music, just

him and the asphalt. During the silence, he

would let all the thoughts rush in at once

and submerge himself entirely in them. If

I don’t get a scholarship, I’m never going to

college. Justin cries every night and I pretend

not to hear him. Toby is going to be stuck

here forever and I can’t save him. I caught

mom stealing money from Toby. Where

does she disappear to? Why does she hate

me? Just before he drowned, he would run

harder and faster until all he could hear was

his heart slamming in his ribcage.

When he came back home an hour

later, two policemen were outside. His entire

body tingled and the hair on his arms stood

up. He climbed the stairs up to the porch

and approached the officers. The older one

noticed Steve first. His face was creased in

a permanent frown framed by an unkempt

beard. Steve noticed that he missed a button

on his uniform. His partner was younger

and clean shaven. He rocked back and forth

on his polished boots, like a puppy dog

eagerly awaiting dinner. The officers asked

to be let inside, said that they needed to

speak to Justin. Steve gave the screen door a

harsh shove and gestured for the officers to


“I’ll go get Justin.”

Steve rushed into Toby’s room. It

smelled like weed and dirty laundry. Steve

jumped over the piles of CDs and movies

scattered on the floor.

“Toby, wake up,” he whispered

harshly. “The cops are here and mom’s not

home. Please, Toby. They want to talk to

Justin. I don’t know what to do.”

Toby squinted up at Steve. “The

cops? What are you—”

“Toby, please, I’m scared. Help me,” he

said, hiding his shaking hands in the pockets

of his running shorts.

“Hey, Stevie. Pull it together, bud. I’ll

fix this. I just need to… Go talk to the cops

and tell ‘em Justin will be out in a minute.

Be cool.”

Steve explained that Justin

needed to get dressed and offered the

cops something to drink. The older officer


“We won’t be here for very long,

sport. Just need to have a quick chat.”

Steve perched awkwardly on the

plastic covered floral couch. Every time he

readjusted, it made a terrible squeaking


“He’ll be out in a second,” Steve said

for the third time.

Toby walked out of the cramped

bedroom, Justin in tow. Toby stood with

his back straight, pants pulled all the way

up, and marched forward. He was taller

than both officers, but he looked infinitely

smaller, like a child trying to keep pace with


“I’m Toby, Justin’s older brother.

What seems to be the problem?”

He sounded like he was reciting

lines from a bad cop movie. Steve glanced


between the cops and his brothers, fighting

the instinct to run out the front door.

“We have multiple reports of

students saying they saw an adolescent

male selling cannabis resin on school

property. One of the gym instructors

found a backpack under the bleachers,”

the younger cop said, appearing to get

more excited at each word. “The instructor

conducted a search of the backpack and

found one kilogram of cannabis resin, along

with multiple assignments with your name

on them, Justin.”

“They found two pounds of hash in

your backpack, kid,” the older cop explained.

He sighed deeply. “We’re here to bring you in

for questioning. Justin, how old are you?”

Justin opened and closed his mouth

before looking at Toby. His eyes were wide

and glassy. He looked scared; the most

scared Steve had ever seen him. Smart,

thoughtful Justin was hunched over

panting like a beaten dog. Toby had the

same terrified look in his eyes, but his voice

was steady.

“He’s eighteen.”

“Great. Justin, we’re going to have

you get in the car now and take you down to

the station for some questions,” the younger

cop said, placing a firm hand on Justin’s


Steve squeezed his eyes shut. This

can’t be real. This can’t be real. He could

hear Toby protesting, begging to go with



He could hear Justin let out a soft


“Please, Toby. I can’t.”


He heard the screen door hit the

metal frame and then the car door slam



“Justin, I’m right here,” Toby

screamed. “I’m coming to get you.” He looked

back at Steve. “Get up, Steve. We need to

go. Fuck. Steve, go start the fucking car.” He

paused. “I’m gonna fix this. Steve! Where are

you going?”

But it was too late, Steve couldn’t

hear him anymore. He was out the door,

feet pounding on the asphalt. I can’t be

here. Before he even knew where he was

heading, he saw his old middle school in the

distance. He slowed to a walk, instinctively

reaching for the small scar on his forehead

and shuddered. He threw his body against

the chain-link fence. He looked out on the

street in the direction of the police station.

You can’t run. They need you right now. He

took one last look at the playground before

heading to the station.


Steve sat on the thinly padded

benches at the front of the police station.

He watched the receptionist eat a tuna

sandwich. He licked his fat fingers after

every bite. The whole room smelled like

tuna. Steve couldn’t look away. If he did,

he would see Toby pacing the room in his

sweatpants and t-shirt. Every few minutes,




Toby would sit down on a bench and run

a hand over his buzzed hair, stand up and

walk to a different, equally uncomfortable


Finally, Toby settled on the bench

next to Steve. Toby pulled rolling paper and

tobacco out of his pocket and, with shaky

hands, sprinkled the tobacco onto the thin

paper. He placed the cigarette in his mouth

but didn’t light it.

“Stevie, I don’t know what to do. I

think I’m gonna call mom.”

An hour later, a beat-up yellow

Cadillac pulled into the parking lot and

dropped Mom off at the front door. Steve

could feel Toby getting angry already, but

he was too scared to look so he watched

the receptionist finish off the last of the


She stumbled into the building

wearing stilettos, too high for a forty-twoyear-old

woman, and the same short dress

she left the house in two days ago. She

pointed to Toby.

“How could you do this? You let this

happen. It was your drugs, wasn’t it?” she


Steve stopped listening. It hurt too

much to hear her yell and to hear Toby’s

voice crack.

“I’m going outside,” Steve said,

standing up. He paced the parking lot. I can’t

be afraid. I need to be strong like Toby.

Shortly after their mom arrived,

Justin shuffled out into the lobby.

“Oh, my baby!” she cried and lurched

forward into a hug.

Justin pushed her off.

“Let’s just go,” he said.

Justin refused to talk about it for the rest

of the week. He lay on the bed, unmoving,

in the room he shared with Steve. Steve

took refuge in Toby’s room, sitting on the

floor, asking questions Toby didn’t know the

answers to.

Later that night, Toby went to talk to

Justin. Steve could only make out some of

their whispers.

“It isn’t mine,” Justin whispered.

He said something else about a favor and

money, but the sound of Toby pacing on the

creaky, wood plank flooring made it almost

impossible to make out.

“Listen to me, Justin. We’ll lie, tell

them that the hash is mine.” Toby was never

very good at being quiet. “You know what

I always tell you. You’re getting outta here.

I’m stuck, Justin. I’m telling them it’s my

hash, and I put it in your backpack without

you knowing.”

“Stop,” Justin hissed.

“Shut up, asshole. We’re in this. We’re

family. It was my hash.

The next day, the family met with a

state-appointed attorney. He looked as if he

had just woken up, tousled salt and pepper

hair and sloppy clothes, but it was four in

the afternoon. Justin sat in between Toby

and Mom, and Steve squeezed in next to

Toby. The attorney sat slumped across from

them in the cracked leather breakfast nook.

“It was my hash, sir,” Toby said. He


was wearing nice jeans and had taken the

diamond stud out of his ear that morning.

“It’s important that you keep the

story straight,” the attorney explained.

“Justin says it wasn’t his and he didn’t sell it.

We can work with that. Don’t change—”

“It was Toby. Of course it was Toby,”

Mom said. “Look at him.”

She was also pretending, Steve

thought. Pretending like she cared about

Justin, about any of them. “Okay. Then I

recommend you make a confession and

we’ll move on from there. You will be tried

as an adult because you are over the age of


Steve was terrified. His eyes darted

between the attorney’s hands gesturing and

the linoleum covered table.

“I’m gonna be fine. It’s my first

offense. They won’t put me in jail for

something stupid like this,” Toby stated.

“It’s hard to say. If you cooperate

with the police, plead guilty, it will be on

your record and you still might go to prison.

Possession with intent to sell is a felony


Prison. Steve stopped listening

and let the word roll around his head.

The meeting went on for another fifteen

minutes, but Steve was long gone. He only

realized the conversation was over when

Toby laid a hand on his shoulder.

“Take care of Stevie, Justin. You hear



The courtroom was stuffy.

Connie Nicholson

Youth Mariachis

Painting, Oil on Board, 6 3/4”x11 3/4”



Brianna Vega


Drawing, Pigma Micron, Paint Markers, 5.5”x8.5”


Everything was either brown or puke green.

Steve was sitting on one of the plushy green

benches behind Toby and his lawyer. Toby

looked small, smaller than Steve had ever

seen him in Dad’s suit. Steve did his best

to dress up but the only nice clean shoes

he had were the running shoes Toby had

bought him. They looked pristine next to

the stained brown carpet.

“All rise for the honorable Judge


The judge loomed over the court in

his stiff black robes. He reminded Steve of

an executioner, and as the judge raised the

gavel, Steve imagined it coming down like a

guillotine on Toby’s neck.

Steve couldn’t focus on any of the

words. He could only drown in his own

thoughts. He’s going to prison and it’s all

Justin’s fault. My fault. Why didn’t I take the

blame? I’m a minor—maybe they would’ve

been nicer to me. My fault. Toby is going to

prison. Save him. Save him. Save him.

“How do you plead, Mr. Toby Miller?”


“Guilty, your honor.”

Stop him. This can’t happen. Toby

will be stuck here forever.


“Very well. Mr. Miller, you are hereby

sentenced to three years in a minimumsecurity

prison and charged with a five

thousand dollar fine.”



The week after Toby left, Justin


moved into Toby’s room. The summer

ended, but Justin never went back to school.

Steve would come home from practice and

find Justin in the same place as when he

left for school that morning. Justin must be

curled up in Toby’s bed all day. He certainly

smelled like it. That’s what Steve thought

about during his runs. What is Justin doing?

Throwing his life away after Toby saved it.

I should help him. Eventually, the running

didn’t calm his brain. He went faster, but the

thoughts kept building, inescapable. It was

time to talk to Justin.

Steve felt a sharp pang of guilt

looking at Justin lying motionless on the

bed. He navigated the piles of laundry and

clutter on the floor, and stood over Justin.

“He was wrong, you know,” Justin

said, opening his eyes to look up at Steve.

“Wrong about a lot of things. He pretended

to know what to do and how to fix

everything, but he was wrong. Wrong about

the big things.”

“Justin,” Steve sighed.

“Sometimes you should just give

up. The beating isn’t worth it. In the end,

you hurt more people than you help when

you incapacitate yourself for no reason.

You can’t save everyone, you can’t just go

around fixing problems for people, because

when you’re gone—” he whimpered. “When

you’re gone, they can’t fix the problems

for themselves. Stevie, it was my hash, my

weed. I was selling. I needed the money to

buy,” he stuttered, looking up at Steve.

“It’s okay, Justin.”

“No. It’s not. I lied to him and he

sacrificed his future for mine. And Stevie,”

he whispered, “I—I wouldn’t have done the

same.” Justin rolled over, turning his back

to Steve. “He fixed my problem but there

are more, and they just keep piling up, and

I can’t save you. I can’t save myself. I’m just

like her. Selfish. Pointless. It’s all pointless.”

“Let me help you.”

“You can’t, Steve. Not with this,”

Justin whispered.

Steve could hear his heartbeat get

steadily louder and his feet itched to move.

He tried to listen, listen to Justin, listen to

himself. Maybe Toby was wrong, and he

shouldn’t have saved Justin the way he did.

But it doesn’t really matter now.

He laid down next to Justin on the

unwashed sheets and stared at the same

cracked ceiling Justin had been looking at

for a month.


I can’t fix every problem. But Toby

was definitely right about one thing. I can’t

run from this. Even if I can’t fix this for

Justin, I won’t let him do it alone.

Justin’s breathing shallowed and

Steve could feel him shaking. He reached

out for Justin’s hand. He repeated what he

heard Toby say.

“Justin, I’m right here.”




Luis Angel Figureoa Medina

The Kids

Photograph, 8”x10”



Giusseppe Giampaolo

Steve Nagy

& then there was Giuseppe Giampaolo

whom we met 20 years previous

when we were all clients at the methadone

clinic. Since then, Giuseppe Giampaolo

we would see on occasion on the

Sun Tran 15, Giuseppe Giampaolo


with his carpenter’s tools & belt & hugeass

orange bucket from Home Depot. We laughed,

seeing the thinning & graying & turning to a

half strawberry & half platinum blond of

Giuseppe Giampaolo,

6’4”, 240 pounds of linebacker brawn,

with a once scarlet mullet of a mane,

widow’s peak down to the eyebrows.

Totally ginger. Totally sanguine. We

broke into loud laughter (people

looked at us but we couldn’t give two shits).

We remembered taking bets at the

methadone clinic of who could guess

the name of Giuseppe Giampaolo.

Of course, no one could guess the

name “Giuseppe,” let alone, “Giampaolo”

& as we kept laughing,

Giuseppe Giampaolo

smiled & flipped us off at

Speedway & Campbell where he got

Off the 15 at Taco Bell…

We gave him back the bird.

We swear we saw fresh tracks

on the freckled forearms of

Giuseppe Giampaolo.


Kathryn Robertson

A Study of a Stoic

Painting, Oil on Canvas, 11”x14”



Clouds in The Class

Connie Nicholson

Girl’s Team

Painting, Oil on Canvas, 16”x20”

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith

All of the students looked like clouds when

they wrote. They composed the sky

and one asked can we

write motherfucker, or chinga?

The more years I taught

the less I knew.

They probably asked wanting my reaction

more than any sense of real rebellion.


They arrived on time, books in order, clean shirts

none of them smelled of cigarettes or mota.

They reeked of toothpaste and fabric softener,

and dark eyeliner won the face paint tournament.

Some shared what they produced.

Is this them? Or what they practice thinking?

We all wanted to hear,

and what does a 50 year old

teacher want to hear?

What could surprise me?

Rolling Bob Marley-size joints in the car?

A boy kissing a boy with spring tenderness?

A lonely uncle sleeping

without his pants on the couch?

The pet mutt carrying

off the familia’s roasted chicken?


One student wrote about being a goth

for two months, their longest

commitment to anything.

Another described her tired

grandmother’s efforts to contain her. The padre

coming over for empanadas and

faith sessions.

When I retired part of me asked,

who could abandon such beautiful days?



Luis Angel Figureoa Medina

Panteon National

Photograph, 8”x10”



Luis Angel Figureoa Medina

Panteon National

Photograph, 8”x10”


Creosote Joy

Wendy Wiener

Creosote bush after a rain

Musical with resins and phenols

A scent so intense

Like a djinn spiraling in

Redolent with pine bark and myrrh


Dance with this plant, this amazing plant

Let it drip-drop its essence on you

To encircle you with a sensual scent

That whispers desert secrets so true

A mystical treasure in common dress

Conjuring skills to survive

Larrea tridentata (whoosh)

A bit of magic will help you to thrive

A mild toxin from the roots tells other plants to scram

Shallow roots that vacuum the rain

Quicker than other plants can

Dancing branches lithely bend

Trickling water from their ends

Tiny leaves sporting resinous coats keep

Browsing animals at bay, but

Creosote’s a welcome mat for

Burrowing animals in need of shade



Jack Davidson

Tree as Reflection of the Universe

Etching, Aquatint a la Poupee Coloring, 11 1/4 ”x16”

Dig your burrows under my roots where you will be hidden and safe

This in turn will loosen my soil so rain can penetrate

Welcome microbes and fungi too to our symbiotic community

Where each one can be unique, yet live in desert unity

Dance, dance, dance in the rain

In creosote-infused joy


Vincent A. Jones



Painting, Acrylic on Canvas, 20”x16”

Dear Abilify (),

Elliana Koput

A masochist’s hypothermia,

I needed your arms like a bird’s nest

needs a blizzard. From wall to wall,

spitting cheeks, we danced across fine

ice with bruises, green like Christmas pines.

The sidewalks were caressed by soft

white sheets; mine were stained red

when you climbed into bed with me.

On frigid nights, we sipped paper bags,

and into my blue ears, you whispered

sweet nothings of conviction. Spring

finally came in hues of pink and pleasure.

You melted like every speck of sleet

from the serotonin season that we’d

grown so stuck in.





How to Exercise Self Discipline

Matthew Becker-Stedman



1. Take the


stack of paperwork. It’s thick and


you’ll slice

papercuts into fingertips with the flip of the pages, the corners

stained wet with spit. Grip the pen in your hand, cheap plastic

grinding against your palm. You need to be honest with your


answers. There are a million possibilities


and it only takes one


wrong utterance to change the outcome. Write words like they are

a permanent tattoo upon your forehead. People will see and make

judgements. This is a death waiver.


2. Do what the nurse tells you. There is a dress code, a costume

the theatre production. Play the part, rehearse your lines, the

show must go on. Put your valuables an unmarked bag. Wallet,

ID, phone. You won’t know where they are until days later. Try


not to worry because there are more important things at hand.

Change into the thin gown that shows too much skin for the

professionalism of the environment, the tight socks with grips on

the bottom, the shower cap that won’t feel a drop of water. The


mirror will ask you to hesitate. It begs you to examine yourself.

Look away.

3. Let the needle slide in. The pain is unavoidable, no matter


how carefully the nurse handles


your arm. Grit your teeth. Stare


at a wall. Hold your mother’s hand. Delicate veins show through

transparent skin. When was the last time you had water? Did you

eat after midnight? There will be blood on the sheets. They didn’t


ask for your


blood type. The needle separates


skin, replaces silver

with red, the process is a process. Remind yourself there years

of training behind their actions. There are schools and degrees and

certifications for mutilation. It is not mutilation.


4. It is not mutilation, it is election. You made this bed, lay in it.

The blankets are the sky, soft and never ending. Remember that





this is a choice you couldn’t avoid, that had to be made. You didn’t


make the hotel bed before you left.


Will you ever feel the plush


embrace of your sheets back home again? One last sleep and this

is the bed you do it in? Try not to let your mind take over. The

moment will be as patient as you are.


5. It’s time. Let them help you from the bed. Did you already say

your goodbyes? There is only one you need to say. The IV pole will

drag behind you. Don’t let it slow you down. There are too many


things in your way. Say goodbye again,


because it might be the last


one and you aren’t sure. You won’t be sure of anything with the

anxiety coursing through your veins, a paralyzing anesthetic.

6. Let the nurse guide you. Take her arm and wear it like a life


vest, keeping you afloat amid the debris of a sinking ship. She

is all you have this moment. This is the moment that makes

a difference. What will you tell yourself as you walk this short

hallway to the OR? What will you believe as they lie you down


on a cold slab that feels six feet underground? You will need

something. Something to keep you from turning and running. The

truth is, nothing will stop you from doing what your mind and

body are telling you to do. It is you who must stay. You who must


continue walking. You who must bear the sting of the needle, the

slice of the knife, the pull of the stitch. You who must lay down your grave and envision it freedom.


7. Comply when they strap your


arms down. They are preparing


your wings for flight. Respond when they ask how you feel.

Ignore the commotion around you. The nurse is there for you.

Grip her hand and listen to her words. You will be fine, she says.


Your thoughts


will tell you otherwise. Don’t believe


it. Believe in

her. Believe in the surgeon. Believe in your choice. Believe in your



8. Get through it.


9. Come out on the other side, alive.



December 14, 2012

Emily Gill


A boy I knew told me

the bullets from an automatic weapon

sound like a jackhammer against

the wall. He said that’s how you know

it’s happening.

I don’t go to the movies anymore.

It used to be my favorite place;

a quiet dark theater, a way to lose myself in

another world. Now it makes me feel trapped

despite the blinking red exit signs.

The idea lingers

in the back of my mind,

always. I have not felt safe

since December 14, 2012.

Two hours later, my teacher

telling us of six-year olds murdered

in their elementary school classrooms.

I went home and cried.

What are my tears, compared

to theirs? I see teenagers on television,

first demanding, then begging

for change. No one does a thing.

I want to scream, but why

should my screams matter

when theirs didn’t?

The stories keep coming. This time

a high school, an airport, a concert,

a church even. I am angry.

I am sorry, sorry I can’t stop this,

sorry money matters more

than the lives of children.

I remember, being in school,

we read a story in English class:

Suffer The Little Children by Stephen King.

I don’t go to the movies anymore.

I’ve tried, but instead of the film

on screen, all I see is blood.


Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum


Drawing, Charcoal on Toned Paper, 12.68”x10”


Izzy Orozco

Just a Taste

Drawing, Ink on Bristol Paper, 14”x17”




Mason Carr


Before the flood

on the bad days

she dreams of the endless

flat yellow

landscape the color of

the rattlesnake’s belly

She lies still

her skin a blanket

of endless flat yellow

and the land curls

around her

in predatory embrace


her stomach in its grip

Her heat-caked mouth

stretches open to scream

and then

She wakes up


Through the looking

glass beside her bed

she watches the endless

flat yellow

Sand grains catch the air

disturbed by the howling wind

flying off to breed

the flat yellow



On the good days though

before the flood

she dreams of the after

Of an endless

shifting blue

She lies on her back

floating on the sun

soaked sea

She savors the moist

terroir on her tongue

Below her beasts’ circle

and their skins are cloaks

of endless shifting blue

Below her

a shadow rises

and eyes closed she smiles

and then

She wakes up


Before the flood

she dreams of the after

What will she dream of


when the after




Desire and Tequila

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith


I would steal bottles

of Patron for you. That is what I yell to my wife,

as I wash the dinner dishes. It is my grito of desire.

She responds, she’d rather

have me jack a vacation of walks

on tropical island beaches.

That requires imagination and leaving

the casa I explain. And tequila will

redeem and save, this I know,

because that sentence is number

six on tio Ricardo’s list of “Top Eleven

Reasons to Drink Tequila.” He

composed the list on business cards.

He was serious about desire and tequila.

Kathryn Robertson

Think Outside the Trash

Pine, Epoxy, Recycled Glass and Glass Bottle, Fairy Lights

Sculpture, 2”Lx2”Wx2.5”H


My wife thought tio Ricardo was

gorgeous, so that allusion is powerful

like a summer storm in the mountains. When I met

my wife, I know she thought I had uncles and

aunts, but soon she discovered

I had tios and tias tambien. Bonus.

learning my family history requires

ancestral trigonometry.

And when tequila and whiskey join together the result may be tres leches pasteles

and rhubarb pies, and corned beef hash paired with chimichangas.

At our wedding, the line of guests

waiting to eat the wafer reached outside

the church. The priest forced into retrieving

more wafers. My brother and I the

only two who did not take communion.

Two heathens invading the sanctuary. There my

brother looked bored, asked if I had any tequila left

in my Virgin de Guadalupe flask? Claro que si. That was a

classic Ricardo move too. We both fired

back the smoothness, the room so

quiet we heard the candles and eternity.



I’m With You 1

Christopher Valenzuela


The day begins like all the others…slow. The sun comes creeping in to steal you

from your sleep. You feel your muscles ache with that second day burn from

the gym. You can’t quite remember your dreams, but you know they left you wanting. Your

alarm hasn’t gone off to rocket you into your routine, so you lay there. You lay there and

you scroll through your social media feeds looking at pictures of happy people, people who

know who they are, people in places you only wish you could go. You see birthday wishes,

celebrities waxing poetic about how they’re just like us, another pop song hit number one

on some chart, your friend’s adventures from the night before. You double tap each picture

you see because you hope if you send out enough love, it might get sent back to you. And

you spread love so thin it might as well be called likes. And you like every picture on your


1. Title taken from The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway. “I’m with you. No matter what else

you have in your head I’m with you and I love you.”


Myryam Roxana Freeman


Photograph, 8”x10”



Jackie Cabrera

Chicago, 2019



Your alarm goes off and you head

into the bathroom, your cat following,

stretching and yawning in kind with you.

You hit shuffle on your playlist and start

your shower as the familiar beat echoes

through the room. The water from your

shower is hot, but it doesn’t burn, and the

pressure is almost perfect. You stand under

the steady stream and think about the day

ahead of you. You think about work, about

classes, about your friends and how much

you miss being around them, about your

mom and your sister and your nephews and

how you should tell them you love them

more often. You think about everyone but

yourself as water washes over your face,

slowly becoming more lukewarm as the

minutes tick by.

You look in your closet, towel

wrapped around your waist and body still

dewy. You look at your work uniforms and

feel something inside churn at the thought

of the khaki shorts and the purple polo,

but you’re off today and don’t have to wear

them. You look over your t-shirts and jeans

until your eyes reach a small brown skirt.

It’s perfect. You grab a button-down shirt to

wear with it and a pair of underwear from

the bin on your shelf. You set the clothes

aside to be steamed out. You look in the


This is where you begin to think

about yourself. You see the fat around

your waist, even with the towel covering

it. You see the bags under your eyes that

restless nights and early mornings bring

with them. You see the different colors of

your skin tone like a rushed paint job on a

hot summer day. You see your brown eyes

that remind you of chocolate ice cream,

but someone once told you they looked like

honey and whiskey. You smile at yourself,

let the smile work its way into those

chocolate ice cream bowls until just enough

light reaches them you can almost make out

the honey and whiskey.

You start with moisturizer that is

supposed to even out your complexion.

Then you dab concealer under your eyes

and along your forehead and chin. You take

a sponge and push the cream around and

inward, working it until it almost perfectly

blends in. You brush foundation on your

skin, smoothing it out here and there until

you can barely remember what color those

bags and blotches were. You add color to

your eyelids, reshape the shadows of your

face, and bold your eyebrows. You do all

of this with the skill of an experienced

architect. You know just what lines of your

face need to be accentuated, you know

every flaw that needs to be covered. And,

finally, you grab a tube of lipstick. You paint

your lips until they seem naturally plump,

like you were somehow born with a pout

that you can’t help. You smooth the color

until it’s a perfect shade of red, the matte

finish reminding you of felt on canvas. You

look at yourself in the mirror and you smile,

but this smile doesn’t work its way to the

eyes; it already lives there and the lines at

the edges of your eyes where it pulls your

face up are proof. This smile radiates from


You get dressed and you can’t feel

the fat that lives on your waist, your legs

don’t feel as bulky in stilettos, your feet

don’t feel as big at such an intense incline.

You spend most of the day alone.

Your friends all have work or other




priorities, but sometimes it’s nice to have

some time to yourself. You head to a café

and find a table on the patio. You decided

to start reading more Hemingway a few

weeks back because it felt like the Real

Writer TM thing to do. Turns out even after

finishing two whole books you still don’t

like Hemingway. You’re reading The Garden

of Eden and you feel uncomfortable at his

depiction of what you assume to be a queer

woman. She’s manic and chaotic in all the

worst ways. And then you begin to wonder

if your friends view you as this type of

manic and chaotic.

You think about when they say, “Hey

sister!” when greeting you. You can never

tell if they’re being genuine or not because

for so long, they poked fun at it. Now all

you hear is the irony those words were once

laced in.

You sit there, drinking your iced

coffee and reading some cis-gendered

straight man’s view on the queer experience

and you wonder if all straight people think

this way. Surely, it’s not, but suspicion still

clings to your thoughts anyway.

You notice the looks you get from

across the patio, the looks of older women

who whisper things about your skirt. The

looks of men who don’t like the face you

meticulously painted on for them all. The

looks of children who wonder why a boy is

wearing girl’s clothes. You notice all of them

and wonder if your friends ever notice when

people stare at you this way. Why would

they? They’re not socially conditioned to

look out for these stares. They haven’t

trained themselves to know when these

stares are just looks, and when they’re about

to be threats. They never felt the need to

know how to throw a punch in case it ever

came to that. You make eye contact with

one woman in particular and you smile back

at her. You’ll catch more flies with honey

than with vinegar. The line from a movie

you watched over and over as a child plays

through your head. She sneers a bit and

begins to talk to the women at her own

table. They all slowly turn to look at you,

one by one.

A group of friends want to go out for

some drinks at the bar down the street later,

you text them back that you’ll be there and

go back to reading your book. You decide to

go with them because they’re your friends

and you love to spend time with them, but

they don’t realize they picked another place


Myryam Roxana Freeman


Photograph, 8”x10”

primarily frequented by heterosexuals.

They haven’t thought about it because they

don’t have to. They just enjoy the bar and

the drinks are cheap. They’ve never really

had to think about what the target audience

is, but the target audience isn’t you.

Later, when you get to the bar, you

order an old fashioned. The bartender gives

you a quick look of surprise. He thought a

boy who looks like you wouldn’t want such

a manly drink. You don’t say anything. You

give him your card to leave a tab open. You

know from experience when you’re dressed

the way you are in a place like this, you

might need more than one drink to really

feel comfortable.

One of your friends comes and finds

you, they want to introduce you to some

coworkers they have. You approach the

group of people and smile, give them your

name. They smile back and tell you their

names, but you don’t register what they

are because you’re too busy shaking their

hands, making sure you have a firm grip

like your father taught you. Every time you

shake someone’s hand, you remember when

you learned that a firm handshake shows

you’re proud of who you are, that you have

confidence. When you learned that no son

of your father’s would be a pussy boy with a

limp handshake.

“This is my gay best friend,” you

hear your friend say and you feel the

familiar sting of the label, but you brush it

off again. Sometimes you wish you could

just be someone’s best friend, but it always

feels like you’re required to put gay as the


“You have to tell them about what

happened at your job the other day,” your

friend says.

“About my nails?” You look down

at your hands where you had recently

removed acrylics. The nails still have the

dried dust and glue on them. It won’t go

away until the nail has grown enough.

“Yes! I cannot believe they pulled


The boy and girl stare at you, waiting

for you to let them in on the story.

“Well, essentially what happened

was they gave me a paper saying I needed

to remove my acrylic nails because they

were against health code,” you begin the

story. You feel like you’ve told it a hundred




times since it happened. “Which is fair, they pause every now and then to explain your

are. And so, I told them that the female

pronouns are interchangeable because you

employees were all wearing them and if I

don’t really identify with either masculine

needed to remove mine then they should

or feminine. You don’t explain that even

have to remove theirs. After all, it is health some gays who do identify as strictly

code, right?” You pause, waiting for them to masculine sometimes interchange their own

either laugh or agree. They just nod their

pronouns, it’s simply part of the vernacular

heads and keep listening. “My managers said of the culture. Sometimes you even throw

they would ‘make the rest of the staff aware in a witty reference from gay pop culture.

of this rule as well.’ So, now I’m just waiting None of them get the joke. All of them laugh

for everyone to remove theirs too.”

and say, “You’re so gay! I love it!”

“Can you believe that?” your friend

You feel the familiar pang of

begins. “They are totally only doing it

loneliness for a split second. Their words

because you’re a boy. That’s so wrong.” The burn like the shower water should have.

other two chime in with their agreements You laugh and shrug your shoulders, “I sure

and apologies.

am! Just your friendly

You smile and

neighborhood faggot.”

thank them. You hold

You look around,

back your comments

hoping someone else

“You feel like you spent years

on how you’ve heard

is listening and feels

nurturing this special part of

the same apologies

all the same things

who you are and it’s not even

and cries of outrage

you feel when you’re

yours anymore.”

again and again, but

in a space like this.

they’re never been

All you see are the

directed at your management staff. You

familiar stares from new faces. You don’t

hold back the feeling of wanting to point

notice that your friends make a face at the

out that not one of the women at your work word faggot. They don’t know you spent

refuted the removal on your behalf. They all years cowering away from it, that when

chimed in with rebuttals of “I’ve always had you use it now it’s an act of defiance against

them,” or “I was hired with mine on.” All of people like Hemingway. People who have

them said to you they thought management this skewed sense of what it’s like to be

was being unfair and you should be allowed queer and deal with the facts of living life.

to wear them, but none of them said it

When you get home, you go into your

directly to management. None of them

bathroom and you turn on the sink. You

thought it was their cause to join. They just feel the water warm under your hand. And,

begrudgingly mumbled their displeasure at just as slowly as the day began, you remove

the situation.

the paint from your face. You spent all day

The conversation continues and

smiling and laughing and shrugging off the

you offer your responses here and there

comments about your gayness. You feigned

when it matters. You tell stories and have to the confidence this painted face could give


Myryam Roxana Freeman


Photograph, 8”x10”

you. The confidence of someone defying

roles set forth by a patriarchal society.

You’re the poster child for living your most

authentic self, loving every part of your

feminine and masculine nature. You got

just as many cheers as you did sneers, and

that feels like a small victory. Slowly, you

begin to recognize the inconsistencies in

your coloring, the darkness that vacations

under your eyes. You begin to recognize the

boy who lives under the martyr. And you

know you’re not really a poster child for

anything, but sometimes you feel like you

have to be. Sometimes you feel like you’re

not allowed to own your gayness without

the rest of the world owning a part of it too.

You feel like you spent years nurturing this

special part of who you are and it’s not even

yours anymore. You feel just like a tube of

lipstick. Something your friends can paint

on to prove their substance. They’re so deep

and cultured because their gay friend wears

makeup and dresses. They can’t possibly be

homophobic or bigoted when you’re their

friend. They’re allowed to poke fun at gay

culture because you feel the need to be

self-deprecating about your gayness when

you’re around them.

You throw on a large sweater

because it makes you feel daintier than

wearing a shirt and sweats; and you lay your

head down on your pillow. Your eyes begin

to feel damp as you think about it all over

again. You think about work, about classes,

about your friends and how much you miss

being around them, about your mom and

your sister and your nephews and how

you should tell them you love them more

often. This time when you think about it all,

there’s no shower to wash the tears just as

quickly as they come. There’s no extra water

for you to hide behind. And you feel lonely,

because out of all of your friends you’re the

only one who feels a little queer at any given

moment of the day.



Eagle Feathers on Black Sands

Joseph de Leon Reilly


In the eyes of a child in an abandoned museum,

Dusty, broken, never cleaned,

A framed painting on textile and canvas,

A memory of my Grandfather’s stories.

Not of the young doctor conscripted,

Laying as men died, not once remised.

No, but of the boy who fought for those men sent off.

A soldier who sought a better tomorrow.

The man who saw friends leave among waves,

Who separated from his wife forcibly,

Who sought hope in a land of prosperity,

Who fought for the freedom of his island home.

Yet only a child, what did I see in the stories of my Grandfather?

In those far off islands where men died,

In that scene of war,


Eva Kamenetski


Photograph, 6.7”x10”

In those cliffs where men went and where they died?


To what did those childish eyes of mine reveal?

Not the horrors of war,

Nor the savagery of man,

Neither. But only their valor.

Amongst cliffs of black and brothers in arms,

Five men placed an icon,

Braving promised death and torrents of fire,

They ascended for those fallen below.

A flag raised against tyranny,

A reposting of wrongs,

A symbol carried by every man under it,

That symbol that lay to rest all who fell with it.

That field of blue standing in vigilance,

Emblazoned red in the blood and bravery of those men,

Over the white of those innocent left behind.

Left there on those rocks rallying men.

That icon they raised for both me and you.



Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum


Painting, Watercolor on Paper, 14.6”x10”



Alexandra Roussard


Painting, Watercolor and Gold Leaf


Family Voting

Wendy Wiener

The month is November

The year is forever

The subject: our right to vote

We welcomed a daughter in July ‘93

Snuggling her, in November

We voted


March ‘96 another daughter is born

With one in my arms

One holding his hand

That November

We voted

‘98 midterms we’re at the polls

When from my side a little voice tolls

I’m 6, I can color the circles

You’re a little too short, to tell the truth,

You can’t see over the voting booth, but

Nearly 2001, the new century begun

Slid it into the ballot box

Proudly slapped on the sticker

I voted

she stood by my side with a gleam in her eye

picked up the marker

and carefully voted

Colored the right spots

No fair, I want to do that too

The same height rule applies to you


Elliana Koput




In 2002

Slid it into the box

Sweetly pressed on the sticker

I voted

by her father’s side

noting the look of pride in his eyes

she gently took the pen from his hand, and voted

Colored the right spots


2004, 6, 8, 10 Like this, we voted

November 2012, at age 19, her own ballot she excitedly voted

November 2014, at age 18, her own ballot she delightedly voted

In 2016, with hopes so high, for

President the four of us voted

One would advance a woman’s place

The other a misogynist, a total disgrace

We voted for safety in this world

For all women, for all girls

Hope quickly faded and turned to despair as new reality sucked out the fresh

air. For days weeks years democracy cried under storm clouds of despicable lies


But in 2018 we returned to vote

coloring the circles with earnest hope of

electing women and men-not-just-white

to rescue us from our current plight

so all people would be represented

In 2020 we’ll vote once more to end this era of misery, hoping to finally close

the door on this chapter of American history


It’s messy, it’s maddening, it

can be morally saddening


You can speak up

Write letters

And bicker

You can snicker

And after you vote

You can put on your sticker

I voted


Sergio Peraza-Jimenez


Drawing, Charcoal




Amy Nagy


Painting, Gouach on a Wood Panel


Magic Months

Emily Gill

Autumn arrives, source of my soul’s delight,

crisp leaves floating down from their former homes.

First chill frosts my windows during the night,

come morning, through this world aflame I roam.

The muted sunset in late afternoon

reflects shimmering gold in my wild eyes.

On a black pavement sea, under full moon

watch me dance beneath a star speckled sky.

Such jubilation do your short days bring,

sweet Septembers, Octobers, Novembers.

As I skip, a hangman’s song I sing,

like aching bones, my soul remembers.

Alas! Bright yule and pine announce your end.

Farewell decay, rebirth, my dearest friends.



Giggles and Stomps

Anissa Suazo

I miss the time,

of quick and quaint adventure.


and stomps,



and flops.

Shoe laces knotted.

Hot summer

heat blotted,

like ink



on the dirt

dusted clothes.

Now all is just


bills and

vitamin pills.

I miss the time,

of imagination forming potential.


Maya Kendrick

Hit and Run


The far

near the backyard

and the fetched,



Or the words that


like the easel sketch,

the truth from low


Now all is just boxed

in a frame

and without aim.

Gone is the time,

sand that quick

in the wind that rises,

and turns the page.


flew by,





Painting, Oil on Canvas, 16”x20”



Renee Terry

Phase one to befriending a

tarantula, be still. Phase two,

smile. Phase three, offer a flat hand for her

to investigate.

I slid soundlessly off the wooden

stoop by the tin door of the shed and

lowered my torso to rest on my forearms in

the sand. So pretty—the luxurious fur on

the spider’s legs and back spiked, as though

coated with a hair gel, and picked with a

comb; the rich copper, brown, and orange

colors on the body and legs. Such confidence

when she walked, keeping her eight graceful

legs in motion, no hurry, we’re cool.

“Hey, lady. Tonya?” I breathed gently,

lifting a soft waft of fuzz by her face and

looked for the witness mark of her slightly

shorter starboard leg. She must have lost

the appendage in a tussle a year or so ago.

Maybe the leg would be fully restored after

her next molting. “Not going to stop and say

good morning?”

Tonya’s butt lifted as she picked

up speed heading for her hole by the




cinderblock. The sun had only been up an

hour, so she was probably returning home

from a wild spider night partying in the

stones by the wash. Tonya was such a slut.

I rose from the ground and brushed

the grit from my elbows. The unending

cloudless blue sky promised another dry,

one-hundred-ten-degree day. Swell. Can’t

wait. It had been four months since I got

here, and it seemed like yesterday, and,

simultaneously, that I had been here

forever. Maybe a time-bending, folding in on

itself Einstein thing.

Here. Griswold, Arizona, taking care

of demented Grandma Missy in a trailer,

miles out of town, with the nearest neighbor

a rumor to the east. I never went that way—

the washboard rutted dirt road hadn’t been

scraped since the rainstorms last spring.

Thinking about why some government

contract employees might come out to blade

a path no one drove on, it came to me why

I talk to spiders. I also spoke to Grandma

Missy and Lilith, the former demon dog

who showed up at our doorstep, broad and

black, but who now had the idea of where

dinner came from and acted accordingly.

Of the three, Lilith listened the best, while

Grandma talked the best. Tonya was Tonya.

That being said, I was thankful

Grandma hadn’t had a bad day since

Sunday, and it was Tuesday. No bathroom

fights changing pants, no silverware in the

toilet tank, modest marching around all

night trying to find her circadian sleep cycle.

I went back into the dusty shed

to finish sorting the box of photographs.

Searching the top stack, I wondered if

Grandma had a picture of me. I wasn’t

sure my family had many photos of me,

so finding one here would be borderline

supernatural. Mom never bought my

brothers’ or my school pictures, and I was

very seldom doing something around

the house in Ohio worthy of a by-myself

picture. No running around third base,

no second chair clarinet. This was me

vacuuming; this was me hanging up


There was a Yellow Pages phone

directory for Griswold and the surrounding

communities in the box. It was probably

less than one-hundred pages, and that

included advertising. The newer phone list

from 1971 was in the trailer, on a bookcase

holding up a fallen framed print of two

ducks and a goose, torn from a children’s

book. The caption read, “Duck, duck, goose.”

When I asked Grandma if there was a phone

number so I could get pizza delivered out

here, she told me I’d be lucky to get buried

out here.

I continued my search in the

photo box and lifted a green fabric bound

scrapbook holding the covers tight, so the

loose pages and pictures didn’t fall out.

There were black and white photos that

looked pre-1950, yellowed prints of men in

old military uniforms, and even tintypes of

unnamed solemn children, set-jawed men

and tired women staring at me from history.

I slowed my picture turning when I got to

the brightly colored Polaroids of the 1960s.

There were younger family members in

platform shoes and plaid bell-bottom pants,

the older women in print house dresses, the

men in pleated pants and tucked-in, shortsleeved

Grandpa shirts. So many grinning

children, birthday cakes, and chopped off

heads. Mostly, Uncle Phil, he was so tall that


Frank Cortes

even when he stooped low, only his smile

and chin would be visible in the photos. I

recognized most of them from Dad’s side

of the family—strangers to me except for

funerals and infrequent Christmas holidays

when the dinner was served at Phil’s largerthan-anyone-else’s

home. If Uncle Phil cared

enough to send pictures to Grandma, why

wasn’t one of his kids here, instead of me,

caring for Grandma?

Continuing my rummaging, I

stopped at two photos of Grandma,

her sister, Elisabet, and her brother-inlaw,

Randall, and set the journal on the

overturned milk crate. Her love for her

sister was what had brought Grandma to

Arizona—first to help Elisabet take care

of her terminally ill husband, and then, at

his passing, to take care of her sister. My

parents were mad at Grandma for selling

her house in Ohio, and squandering her

money helping Elisabet with medical bills

and overdue property taxes on the trailer.

I guess they thought the proceeds should

have been their inheritance.

The first photograph was of

Grandma, Elisabet, and Randall in front

of a Mexican-style restaurant that had a

matador and bull mural painted on the



outside stucco wall. The two women were

standing behind the slumped man in the



wheelchair, and the painted red matador’s

cape swept above Grandma Missy’s head.

The picture must have been taken just

weeks before Randall’s death. Grandma

and her sister seemed well; they still had a

healthy weight but nervous waiting-for-theroof-to-fall

smiles while Randall was all in.

He personified that poem I read at school

about not going gently into a good night. His

head rested against the chair back at an odd

angle because I imagined he couldn’t lift it.

The bright noon sun reflected on the black,

bruised pattern on his forearms. I wondered

that someone who was that thrashed by

cancer could still curl his lip in anger.

The second picture was taken at

least six months, maybe eighteen months

later, because snow covered the peaks of the

stark blue mountains in the background,

and there was a low winter sun. Elisabet

had probably already had her heart attack

because she was thin, and her smile was

accepting, unlike Randall’s demeanor had

been. I would have to wait for a lucid day to

ask Grandma why she didn’t bring Elisabet

back to Ohio after her husband’s death, why

she didn’t come home. But I respected it was

a twelve-year-ago decision, and it must have

made sense at the time. Probably had to do

with money. Hand-to-mouthers make a lot

of compromised choices.

Last Sunday, or maybe Saturday,

Grandma had a wakeful, focused day. I

told her about Tonya, and we talked about

as much family as she could recollect. The

best part of being in this dreadful coffin of

a trailer was when we could visit like that,

me telling her who she was when she was

young—that she had finished high school,

and enough nursing school to be certified.

That she wanted to be a Licensed Practical

Nurse but that she married and had

children and put them first. Then just like

she knew my thoughts, or maybe I knew her

mind, she said, “Don’t you stay here when

this is over. No matter how it ends, promise

me you’ll leave.”

She put out her hand, and when I

took it, Grandma Missy pulled me near. I

looped my finger gently around the bent

hook of her little finger. “I will. I promise I’ll

go and not look back.” As if not looking back

made it more a pinky promise.

Taylor Tang


Painting, 20”x16”


Keeping of one mind, Grandma felt

my distress because she had said, “Don’t

worry, you’re a strong one.”

The sun must have ducked behind a

cloud because shadows replaced the patches

of light filtering between the dried wood

planks and window that made up the east

wall of the shed. I swept up the scrapbook

and photos. It didn’t seem a good idea

to bring the pictures in the trailer. They

were safe if they remained in the box on

the shelving. I wanted to bring one of my

paperbacks with me to read, hide it in my

bedroom, but Grandma might find it and

wash it in the sink, or encourage Lilith to eat

it, so my books stayed behind.

I kicked my shoes off and entered

the trailer. The thought of bringing in some

shitty-dust Hantavirus from the shed’s dirt

floor was right up there with my fear of

scorpion stings, and black widows. I knew

to choose my Arachnida friends wisely.

Still, after moving to Bumfuck, Arizona,

the cumulative worries of living alone with

Grandma had given me a chest-pounding

hyper-vigilance that hadn’t plagued me

since I was seven years old and convinced

me a Babadook lived in the shadows created

by my baseboard nightlight.

I drew a calming breath, stepped

forward, and felt an icy rush of slime.

Anticipating the texture of the worn

living room rug heightened the shocking

sensation of cold on my bare foot.

“Ugh!” I half jumped then slid,

toppling into the rocking chair. I tried to

catch myself and reached for the wall. The

straight-edged armrest gouged my torso. I

lifted from the overturned chair, rubbed my

tender ribs, and turned to see what caused

my slide. “Damn!”

Bending low, I could see the puddle

on the floor had a viscosity that lifted it

from the threadbare rug. There was no

texture or chunks in the fluid, just white

strands suspended in the liquid. Lilith

turned away from me and bumped against

the end table, her tail thumping a bass

rhythm on the trailer floorboards.

“Did you do this? Liiiillll-ith?”

My voice lowered. Instead of her usual

dismissive are-you-still-here attitude with

me, her head dropped forward leaving the

black furry twin peaks of her shoulders and

butt. “I’m not mad. You okay? What did you





I looked about the floor for any halfchewed

remnants. Retrieving the dustpan,

trash basket, and a piece of cardboard from

the kitchen, I squeegeed a volume of the

gelatinous egg white goo onto the dustpan

and into the can. Gag me special.

“Grandma, you’re too quiet in there,”

I said more to myself than Grandma—

wherever she was in the trailer. Lilith

turned in response. Her muzzle matted in

white, her black hair showed through like

dirty snow. It wasn’t frothy, and she wasn’t

drooling, so it probably wasn’t rabies, which

would have been a damn good trick because

she seldom went outside. I stepped closer,

crouching for a better view.

“What did you get into?” I extended

my fingers tentatively like Adam in the

Sistine Chapel. Even without rabies, she

could still bite me really good. She didn’t

lean in toward me friendly, so I crossed to

the bathroom to get a washrag.

“Grandma, what is going on here?” I

stepped around the door frame. “Grandma?”

She lay still on her bed, her face

turned up, mouth agape. White blotches

spotted her gown and legs. A large porcelain

cream tear-drop shape smeared from her

cheek and extended into her matted frenzy

of white hair, which had transformed into a

dirty gray hank of rope.

“Oh, no, no, no.”

I winced at Grandma’s forearms. A

sheer white film that lifted and crusted like

peeling burned flesh blanketed her arms.

Long rake marks from her elbows revealed a

pink flesh tone. Lilith joined me, her coarse

hair bristling against my bare leg, causing

a tickling shiver that radiated up to my


“What is that?” Lilith didn’t respond

and skulked to the foot of the bed. The

sweet rose fragrance that had been a mild

undertone in the sour bile stench of the

dog’s vomit permeated the stuffy, hot

room. It was like the funeral director had

been left out, and black flower wreaths had

been brought directly to my grandmother’s

hospice. I couldn’t open the window because

the last repair was a solid sheet of glass in a

wood frame.

As I stepped to her bedside to inspect

Grandma’s arms, her blue eyes blinked

open, and her maw snapped shut, then into

a smile. I hadn’t recovered from my start

when she grasped my wrist and yanked me

closer. Her hand was alien; wet and cold and

fleshless like a bat’s grasp. I struggled.

“Look what I can do.” Grandma

smoothed the sludge on her arms briskly

and called out to Lilith. “Show lady-girl what

we do.” The dog stayed obediently at the

foot of the bed but turned her face away.

“Show lady-girl.”

Lilith looked at me for a reprieve, and

I looked back at Grandma.

“Dog!” she snapped. Lilith inched

closer to Grandma and sniffed her forearm,

like a Royal Court sycophant, then bowed

and dutifully licked her hand. Grandma

threw back her head and squealed. She

reached under the sheet and came up with a

handful of slop and pasted Lilith across her

ear and jaw with it.

“Stop, Grandma! Don’t do that to

Lilith.” I kneeled on the bed and reached

across to grab her flailing hand. The

bedclothes were cold and slippery. “Ugh.

Stop that. You won’t be happy until the dog



Taylor Tang

Masked Self-Portrait

Drawing, 11”x11”


bites you.” Her greased forearm slipped

from my grip.

“Dog likes it!” Grandma’s hysterical

giggling continued. “She likes it!”

“Lilith doesn’t like it!” I clutched the

fabric cap sleeves on her nightgown and

pulled her across the bed away from Lilith.

I spat through clenched teeth, “She comes

to you because she wants to please you. No

one likes being tormented.”

I looked around to

see the source of this slimy shit storm and

saw my empty lotion bottle by her pillow.

“Grandma, the whole bottle? That was

brand new.”

“You left it out for me.”

“It was in a shopping bag, in a

shoebox under my bed!” I screamed.

While I started to collect the slimy

bedclothes for the laundry, Grandma lay

still, staring at something near the closet


“What else is in this goo?” I pinched

a thicker lump of gunk and smooshed it

between my index finger and thumb.


“Nothing? Fucking Crisco!” I followed

her gaze to an open blue three-pound

canister on the floor. The white slope of lard

in the can ended in a frenzied hole where

Grandma had dug out handfuls. “How am I

going to clean this up?”

“Didn’t do it.”

Not knowing where to start, I

dropped to the floor in frustration.

If this was cooking oil, I could

start cleaning it up with sand or

wood shavings from the shed.

But Crisco? Maybe if I left

everything as is and put broken sticks and

crumpled tumbleweed throughout the

trailer, I could call the Sheriff or the church

ladies for a well-check, and they would take

us to a mental hospital in Tucson. My low

laugh was between a sob and a giggle. I

stretched onto my back.


Jackie Cabrera

Tucson Beauty


“I can’t take it,” I said. “I’ll clean this

up in a bit. Friday or Saturday.”

“Me too.” Grandma went to her knees

and rolled to her side next to me on the

floor. “What’s so funny?”

“You should get a towel. With your

sloppy nightgown, you’re going to look like

a doughnut rolled in nuts and brown sugar

when you get up. A crunchy donut-stick.”

Grandma retrieved a towel and

spread it out next to me.

“Dog likes it.” Grandma started again.

“Came to me and licked my hand.”

“No, Grandma. Lilith came because

she loves you. Period. You took advantage.” I

wanted her to understand. “Some people do

things they don’t want to do for people they


Her manner, her body was engaged,

but Grandma’s eyes were unfocused,

tracking side to side.

My chest caved with pain. “Love

compromises. You end up like a dog,

vomiting on the floor,” I said more to myself

than her.

Grandma tensed, a spark of

understanding, a flash of shame? “The girl

did it, not me.”

“Oh, right, the other grandma.”

“It’s a little girl who’s bad.”

“Yeah, well, you tell that little girl to

knock it off. I’m serious. I’ve had enough

sweaters in the toilet, lace-less tennis shoes

in the refrigerator.” Fatigue that stops

crying and hysteria and laughing set in, and

I lay empty.

Grandma looked puzzled. Her head

turned back and forth like a newborn

listening for a voice, looking for a mother.

When she saw me, she smiled and said, “I

love you.”

I lifted onto my elbow and waited

until I had her attention. Her vacuous

marble blue eyes returned to the center as

she studied me. I’m sure she didn’t know me,

but she responded with a smile when I told

her I loved her too.

Grandma said, “Whenever I have a

good thought, you are there.”

Oblivion darkened the fleeting


We lay together on the rug at the

foot of the bed with our feet in the hallway

until the sun was on the other side of the

trailer. I watched the patterned wallpaper—

there were fairies, and disembodied eyes

peering through the rose and teal foliage—

and listened to the exertion of Grandma’s

breath. Living here had become a forever

time out.

Hearing her soft movements, I

turned on my shoulder to see what she was

doing. Intent as a scientist—did Madame

Curie have white hair matted in a sticky

braid? Grandma studied her index finger

and thumb. She pressed a dirty pearl of

shortening between them then released her

fingers slowly to test her resistance theory

from the viscosity of the grease.

“You like that?” I lifted a splotch

of the fully-hydrogenated fat from her

forearm and smeared the tip of her nose.

“Like Lilith?”

Grandma ignored me with a

scientist’s focus and calmly observed,

“Fucking Crisco.”




Cara Laird



All the voices in a courtroom

combining: a pointed finger.

Elizabeth sits, stunned, eyes swollen

sleepless, carefully applied

mascara streaming and smeared

nails bitten to the quick of chipped

glitter polish

missing her baby

in a childlike way—she is still a child, after all—


what is yours because it is yours.

The judge asks Elizabeth,

does she understand?

A whispered yes, a nod:

a lie.


Elizabeth’s baby falls asleep

across town

surrounded by the wrong

smells and sounds

in a stranger’s arms.


Sergio Peraza-Jimenez

Figure Confined

Drawing, Chacoal


Elizabeth cries in my little square illusion

of privacy

in what used to be a warehouse of goods

now a warehouse of good intentions

and pain. Her mother

is embarrassed, but

not for the reasons she should be.

She is skilled in denial.

The cycle continues.

This girl does not know how

to be a mother—I tell her

she can learn. But

her own mother

has been telling her otherwise

for so long.

I can see Failure bright

as a neon sign

in her tear filled eyes.



Good Deeds

Courtney Hayes Armstrong

I remember my father boasting that he had the IQ of a genius,


schooling me that people were allowed into Heaven

based on how well they treated their animals

I might have been six


And the incessant grass of depressed grey

shag that crawls across his empty apartment in contempt

the only furniture a plastic patio set, mismatched

and one glorious, serious necessity—

a pinball machine

I remember playing with the cherubic boy

whose essence dripped flowery fabric softener

and I linger for hours in the aisle of fruitless detergents

unscrewing countless green plastic lids, sniffing, huffing, desperate to free the hologram

of that nameless babe out into my world for just one sticky second

And the enchantment of the pinball as it shoots like a cannon

from the metal coils of spring, as it smacks plastic and spanks dense flippers

fevered lights and sirens that sing out our only faults,

that we are sweet and young

but to my father, our happiness is too sweet, too young, and much, much too loud

I remember my father’s eyes wet with arcing voltage, throttling,

full-tilt fury

and he grabbed my cat and cast it over scolded railings of ornate pretension

fear paddled the insides of my stomach, bobbed and then retreated

I had blocked my father’s entrance to Heaven



Zach Ellingson

Space Man Lost in Space

Illustration, 8”x10”

And he crags above me, a volcano swarming with frothing fingers of ire

fists balled into bases of question marks and he asks me,

“Who do you think you are?”

and I stand, stagnant in brackish silence, because, I simply

do not know


A 4 & 20 Blackbird Kind of Pi

Graysen Norwood

Four & twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened the birds began to sing.

A very special pastry for a very special king.


For the king had royal counselors, but one of them untrue.

To take the kingdom for his own is what he planned to do.

Those loyal to the royal could not get a message through,

For the royal counselor traitor screened all the messages too.

Now the king he liked mathematics, so mathematicians in their attics

Put a code into equations, informations and persuasions;

Indications with these clever tricks to open up a pastry pie.

With three point one and four one six this message passed the traitor by.

Four & twenty blackbirds baked in a pi.

Those loyal to the royal found some blackbirds that could sing

With sweet voices born of pigeons. (This was a very special thing).

These birds would sing sweet voices sitting high upon their stools

To call out fifty shieldmen loved by wise men and by fools.


So, a wizard in disguise

Brought the king some royal pies

As an old & simple baker man who bore the royal mark,

A frail and harmless man that left the traitor in the dark.

Four & twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.


The king, he opened up the pi, three point one & four,

And opened up the pastry pie, the blackbirds sang a little more.

Devoted little pigeon birds

Upon a backless chair

With all the royal words

And of the treachery now aware...

By the four & twenty blackbirds baked in a pie,

That when the pi was opened who all began to sing.

(A very special pastry for a very special king.)



Grace M Johnson

Great Horned Owl

Hand Drawn Illustration, 8”x10”



Grace M Johnson

Snow Owl

Hand Drawn Illustration, 8”x10”


Ulises Ramos

Self Portrait of a Carvers Head

Rod’s Bod, Danish White, and Black Slip Ceramics

Sculpture, L12”x W8” x H14”


Rhinoceros Tears

Courtney Hayes Armstrong


here are two things I will disown you for, Rhino,” Ryan’s father said. “Don’t ever

marry a black man and don’t ever get fat.”

The buildings outside the car window sped by so quickly that Ryan could see only the

horizontal lines left in their wake, like those used to show motion in a cartoon, charcoal streaks

void of any true color or dimension. She rode beside her father, silently. She had no other

choice. She patiently waited, to be spoken to, to be given permission to speak. In all true loyalty

of her six-year-old innocence, she adored her father. And however unrequited, empty, and cold

it may have appeared, William loved his daughter, as well. Just not without a few exceptions.

Ryan was confused about several things.

“What does disown mean?” she asked first.


“You won’t be my daughter


“Whose daughter would I be?”

“Well, if you married a black man,

you’d be Tyrone’s daughter.”

“What’s a black man?”

“You don’t know what a black man


“Preacher Snyder?”

“Ryan, you’re smarter than that.”

She scooted down in her seat, flushed

with embarrassment. His words, fiery

embers that shot at her fragile armor of

self-confidence, tarnished the silver vigor

that should have been much brighter, more

resilient at her young age.

“Clothes don’t make someone black,”

her father continued. “It’s the color of the

skin.” He downshifted his 1972 Volvo at

the approach of a red stoplight. He raised

an eyebrow and pursed his lips. “Who’s

that little boy in your class, the one who

played Santa Clause in the Christmas

performance? He’s black.”

Ryan thought back to her school’s

holiday recital, and of her Kindergarten

classmate, Courtney White, the lucky,

cherubic boy who had been chosen to wear

the coveted fake beard and red suit that

all the other students had been denied.

Because of this, and maybe solely this,

Courtney was now the most popular kid in

class. Ryan loved the way that he took time

during every recess to draw for her. Only for

her. Vibrant, colorful hopscotch pads, whose

squares and triangles somehow became

castles and meadows, their symmetry and

detail far more elaborate than she was able

to draw.

Now that her father mentioned it,

Ryan realized that Courtney’s skin was, in

fact, black.

“But Courtney is my friend,” she said.

“Of course he is, honey. Even I have

black friends. I’m not a bigot. But I didn’t

marry one of them and neither will you. And

don’t you dare get fat.”

William steered the Volvo into

the parking lot of a small, family-owned

“ice house”, the lone convenience store in

the small town bordering San Antonio.

Its small, dilapidated brick structure was

autonomous and determined, ignorant of its

impending demise when franchises would

soon encroach and swallow up the area.

“Stay put,” he told her and got out of the car.

The summer day had crisped and

cooled, its edges brown and mild, in search

of someone to allow it to finally rest. It was

the time of year, and time of day, when

Texans sat with their arms out, eager to

embrace the early night’s warmth, and

Ryan allowed herself to be hugged in return

by the placid, heated air of the evening’s


She picked at a scab on her elbow

while a man walked by, his arm around a

young girl, perhaps his daughter. It was a

sight that left Ryan with both a yearning

for her own father to hold her, and an

immediate, visceral rejection to what that

might feel like. Her body recoiled as if

it were happening, the act artificial and

uncomfortable, and she instantly took back

the thought.

It wasn’t that her father was an

unlikable guy. Just the opposite. He had

been voted “Most Popular” in high school.

“Most Handsome” in college. “Most Likely

to Succeed” while getting his masters at




Harvard Business School. But all was lost

in translation when it came to affection,

accolades or positive reinforcement for

the one person who could have benefited

most: Ryan. His only daughter. His only

child. William was determined to rear her

unspoiled, tough enough to endure any

of the cruel hardships that she would

inevitably encounter in life. He also, just

simply, lacked the sensitivity that a young

girl needed. Nurturing wasn’t part of his

skill set. And because of this, Ryan was

destined to spend the rest of her life trying

to gain the smallest sip of approval from her


He walked out of the shop, his

confidence aglow from the overflow of his

charmed life.

His biceps protruded from the tight

sleeves of his Boston Marathon t-shirt, his

quads bulged beneath his corduroy OP

shorts. He held open the door for a young

woman and smiled at her. His wide grin said,

High School Valedictorian. Summa Cum

Laude. Purple Heart in Viet Nam. The young

woman batted her eyelashes and smiled

back at the stocky redhead. She giggled as

he blew her a kiss and then pretended to

trip over a curb going back to the car.

Whatever William wanted, he got. In

whatever William attempted, he succeeded.

And whatever William told Ryan, she


And from the truest, warmest, most

vulnerable recesses of her six-year-old

mind, she believed that if her father loved

her, then she, too, was significant, worthy,


He hopped into the car without

glancing at his child in the passenger seat.


Charles Sublette



He was holding a package of candy. Ryan’s

stomach started to flutter.

Oh goody, she thought. A treat.

Her father, still silent, began to

unwrap the bar. Ryan wiggled excitedly

in her seat as she recognized the small

rectangles that were labeled Bit-O-Honey.

He popped one piece of the

confection into his mouth and worked its

stiff, nougat texture with his teeth. Ryan’s

mouth watered as she anticipated her

father giving her the next piece.

One for you, one for me, she thought.

Her dad brought the next piece to his

nose, inhaled its molasses scent, and softly,

almost daintily, placed it on his tongue.

Okay, two for you, two for me.

He took the third piece to his mouth,

bit it in half, and pulled the remainder of

the taffy into the air, looping its texture into

a beautiful arc, before finally placing that

entirely into his mouth as well.

Ryan’s eyebrows furrowed.

Hey, it’s my turn.

She opened her mouth to say this,

but then quickly snapped it shut. A few

months earlier when visiting New York with

her parents, they had gone to the Statue of

Liberty. It was the last trip the three would

make together, the last hurrah before the

Big D. The divorce. Ryan had fallen in love

in the gift shop with a small glass replica of

the green lady. She had made the mistake

of using three horribly dirty words: “I want


Her father had punished her by

refusing to buy her the miniature, or

anything else for the rest of the day. He

hadn’t even allowed her a glass of water.

Ryan learned her lesson. She now



Connie Nicholson

Street Food Deli Wurstel

Painting, Oil on Canvas, 36”x42”


sat, excruciatingly still. Coffee-flavored

sunlight streamed in through her window,

cinnamon-colored dust illuminated by its

rays. The breeze suddenly sucked it all out

the other side, through her father’s window.

In the coolness, Ryan sweated.

She wondered if still there were a

chance that her father would give her a

piece, find her deserving. She had behaved

perfectly that day, adhered to all of his

codes of behavior. No excess fidgeting.

No loud bodily functions. She had done

absolutely nothing that would indicate

her age. She figured she had earned a small

reward, one small edge, of a piece, of a bite,

of a Bit-O-Honey, at least.

Ryan just knew that the next piece

was hers. She watched as her father threw

it up into the air and opened his mouth wide

to catch it. It landed on the pink pillow of

his tongue.

Darnit, she thought. Cool, but darnit.

Her mouth watered again. She

watched him take not only the fifth segment

of confection from the wrapper, but the

final, sixth piece as well.

Ah, she thought. He’s going to split

the last two between us. She suddenly felt

ashamed that she had gotten mad at her

father, that she had doubted his love for her.

He had been saving the last piece for me.

William shoved both pieces into his


He then crumpled up the wrapper

and tossed it onto his oiled dashboard.

Ryan had never known her father to leave

trash anywhere inside his vehicle. The

discarded paper lay perfectly at her eyelevel.

It taunted her with a fruity, zealous

laugh. She forced herself to look away from

it. She didn’t want her father to see her

disappointment. She knew that she must

have done something wrong. It had to have

been her fault.

She looked far away, up into the

now dark sky. A lone star shone, like heated,


crystallized sugar before it hardens into

another substance. A glass-like shard

flashed at her in acknowledgment, urged her

to not let her father see her disquiet. Ryan

didn’t want him to feel bad that she felt

bad. But an anger welled up inside of her, a

disease of unsteady waves that ebbed and

receded. She had a conflicted, underlying

sense that her beautiful, wondrous father

had been toying with her.

“You know, Rhino,” he said as he

reversed the Volvo out of the parking space.

“Self-control. That’s what it’s all about.

See there. Look at those fatties walking in

the crosswalk.” Ryan looked out the front

windshield and saw two young women

strolling across the intersection. Happy


“There they are, two hippos, taking

their sweet time. Maybe if they walked

faster, they’d lose some weight,” he

continued by mouthing the words towards

the women. “They obviously don’t have the

willpower to put down the Pop-Tarts after

eating the first one. Disgusting, aren’t they,


She hated it when he called her

Rhino, but she would never admit it.

She knew what he was referring to, the

rhinoceros. Every time he called her that,

she thought of the animal. Senseless.

Reckless. Enormous. She was ashamed to

be compared to such a beast. It wounded

her, splashed her armor with acid, further

mottled it because of the reason for the

name. Rhino wasn’t a term of endearment.

It wasn’t something cute. It was because one

night, Ryan had foolishly let her guard down

when she thought she was simply sating

a primal need, hunger. But to her father,

she had been inappropriate, gluttonous,

repulsive, when she had eaten two pieces of

pizza all by herself.

“And Rhino, you’d better learn to

have some self-control or you’ll be just like


She sat and looked at the smiling,

laughing, happy women in the crosswalk.

She thought of the rhinoceros, but

differently, now. Noble. Majestic. Serene.

She saw beauty outside her window, outside

her world. She yearned to be a part of it, to

be whole, to be loved, among the beautiful


Kelly Franck

Palmistry Hand

Sculpture, Painted Wax, 4”x7”





Water Lily

Painting, Oil on Canvas, 16”x20”


Emily Gill

Door locked,

porch light on, windows shut tight,

shades drawn. Check inside

the closets, the cabinets, under

the bed, behind the sofa. Hear a sound,

freeze, heart pounding out

a war song, battle ready.

Your stomach drops, bile rises


in your throat. Grab a knife

for protection. Decide there is

no one, nothing, but remain

terrified by every shadow, branch scraping

the window, creak of the floorboard.

Check the door again, feel the lock

with your fingers, seer the image of security

into your brain, it is locked.

Do not check the door again. Pace for five

minutes. It’s locked. It’s locked. It’s locked.

Nothing. Everything. I just am, you say

with a scream scratching the back

of your throat. Swallow it back, remind yourself

you are not dying. You are safe.

The door is locked.

It’s late now. Shut yourself

in your bedroom. Push the dresser in front

of the door, just to be safe. Look under the bed

one last time. Swear you heard someone

in the hallway, move the dresser, look

but there is no one, nothing.


Reassemble your barricade then climb

into bed, let the weight of the blankets

smother you. Squeeze your eyes shut

pleading with your mind to cease the reel

of violent possibilities, the nightly show.

Lie in the dark, the silent stillness, wondering

if you locked the door.

A magnetic force pulls you to the door, you must

check, to be sure. To be safe.

Call your husband at work, even though you swore

you wouldn’t, asking one last time

when he will be home. Late

he tells you. What are you so afraid of, he asks.


Tina Kennedy

The Wishing Tree

Painting, Oil on Canvas, 30”x40”



Grief Distribution

Cara Laird

My friend’s garage was full

of brand new, achingly unused

nursery furniture, baby clothes.

She cried showing me the

video baby monitor

they would never use;

I am sure she imagined her baby

on that screen

rather than attached, strung like a puppet

to the NICU monitors

high pitched beeping

harsh tape all over his

fragile, new skin.

She could not keep these reminders

and also, could not explain

to dozens of strangers

why she didn’t need them.

She might splinter - actually crack open,

bleed her fury at their

well intentioned feet

if one more person told her

her baby, dead, is god’s will.

I fit everything into my truck

piece by piece, a Tetris challenge

to get it all in one trip

so she could be finished

with this minuscule, massive portion of grief.

I carried it all away

and sold every last piece:

each hand crocheted blanket

every single “little brother” onesie.

I suggested she do something joyful

with the money.

So, she took her family to California,

sat on the beach

watched her older children

splash wildly, so very alive

pictured her lost son floating on the waves

headed out to sea.



I Too From Earth Gaze Upward

Jack Davidson


When the sun sinks out of view

and the earth does turn to night anew,

it is in this gentle, still and quiet desert air,

distilled and floating-- filled

with perfumed scent so very rare,

the plants breathe in sweet life again.

They hold themselves upright this night,

feeling not alone and thus beholding

the images they are, of each and every star.


Brianna Vega

In the Cards

Drawing, Pigma Micron, Paint Markers, 5.5”x8.5”



Tom Webster

La Sagrada Familia

Archival Pigment Print, 15”x15”


In Memoriam of My Mother’s Mothers

Kat Johnson

Sometimes my mother’s voice

takes to the center stage of my mind.

Her rosary dangles from the rearview mirror, swinging back and forth

as if it were a pendulum being used to induce hypnosis.

She steps valiantly into a singular spotlight.

Her actions are completely independent of my own vain influence; they are practiced.

Her phantom is opaque and I can hear the click of her heels across the stage.

She takes a deep breath and in an act of love,

or of obligation, she says,


“Do everything in the eyes of God and teach your daughter the same.”

She says it slowly with the strain of our ancestry hanging heavily on each word.

It’s mesmeric and her voice sounds like mine,

except it’s deeper and filled with all the whimsy of a timeless soul.

Her voice carries the weight of her mother.


We speak in the tongues of our predecessors.

Their stories are preserved in old fables and the

masa that gets stuck between our fingers while we roll tamales in the afternoon.

My mother’s voice has borne every truth.

One day, in a voice that is deeper and filled with all the whimsy of a timeless soul,

I will take my place in the middle of the stage.

While my daughter faces the fluidity of her world, foregoing the rosary,

opting instead for the clarity of herb and Whitman, I will appear to her and say,

“Do everything the god within your veins deems holy and teach your daughter the same.”

It will be in the tongue of my mother bearing the weight of her mother.

We the women of the church, we the women of brujería,

speak through our children as if they are limp, empty poppets.

It is the psalm of our ghosts.


In the Dark

Cara Laird


He calls my name in the dark.

I wake and hurry half asleep

to soothe his mind,

to smooth his hair and sheets.

He rests his head on my chest,

lulled back

to his sleep

by his first



This is my work, always:

answering to my name called out

in the dark.


Eva Kamenetski


Photograph, 8”x8.1”



Maya Kendrick


Your Call is Very Important to Us

Midnight Oil


Kimberly Laney

Greg sat on the windowsill of his second story apartment’s bedroom gazing out

at the complex below him, with a half empty water bottle in hand… He did this

almost every day and in doing so, had become familiar with the moves of his neighbors’

choreographed daily routines. As the sun began to set and the busy street roared with rush

hour traffic, the waitress from the breakfast place two streets down would gather as many

of the half empty water bottles and fast food wrappers from her car as she could hold, and

clumsily walk them to the dumpster, stopping to pick up the trash that fell out of her grip

after every couple of steps. Sometimes, she’d make it in time to run into Simon from the A

building when he takes his chubby Chihuahua, Uma, out to do her business. Around this time


on weekdays, the girl who lived in the

apartment directly below Greg’s would

sprint out to her car, backpack bouncing

ridiculously with each stride, it seemed

as though she was always running late.

Greg couldn’t help but smile as he saw

her jet out to her car below him. He liked

her, Downstairs Girl. She always lit sweet

smelling incense when she’d get home as if

to let the complex know she’d got in safely

and she played her music just loud enough

for Greg to sing along from his room above.

She had good taste. He wondered if he’d

ever get the opportunity to tell her.

A bead of sweat dripped from

Greg’s forehead down to his brow. His air

conditioning was set to a cool seventyone

degrees but when he waved his hands

in front of the vent, no air came out.

Frustrated, Greg returned to his windowsill

and dialed the complex’s maintenance

number. It rang twice before a woman’s

felicitous voice took over.

“Thank you for holding. Your call is

very important to us.” Her cadence made

Greg believe that his call was important to

her, and that soothed him some.

It was his day off from the MVD

and since he hadn’t worked up the energy

to leave his home yet, her voice was the

first he’d heard all day. He was grateful

that it was such a pleasant one. After her

message, the phone rang twice again before


“Thank you for holding, your call

is very important to us.” Greg could have

sworn he heard her smile through the


She was bubbly, he could tell—and

somehow, he just knew that she had a sense

of humor that matched his entirely. She

was a perfect combination of friendly and

sardonic and knowing that, he couldn’t help

but laugh after the phone rang twice again

before she graced his phone once more.

“Thank you for holding, your call is

very important to us.” Greg heard the dry

humor in it now. Master of sarcasm that she

was, he knew this was an inside joke for him

and him only. He felt her laughing about it

on the other end of the phone. A breathy

laugh, full and absolutely content.

He found himself fantasizing about

what their life together might be like. He

tried to picture how her soothing voice

might sound if she were to sing to him. He

imagined she’d have similar taste in music

to Downstairs Girl. Maybe she’d have long

brown hair like hers too. Although she’d

light candles instead of incense and would

never run herself late.

Greg wondered what she was

picturing from her end of the phone and if

she’d be disappointed when she saw him.

No, she was without a doubt into short

guys. He knew it. Just another perfect thing

about her.

“Thank you for holding, your call is

very important to us.” He could listen to her

all day. In fact, he hoped he might get to. He

had so much to tell her.

Taking a deep breath and gripping

his half full water bottle close, he spoke out

to her, “I love you.”

“Uh, thank you for holding. This is

Josh. How can I help you.?”



Danny’s Baboquivari

Misha Tentser


dusty carpet floors

and deer skulls on the walls

I lean against the worn wooden bar—

a perfect stranger, melting into

the surroundings like a Dali painting

anonymous by way

of being unremarkable

a face, a place, a mood

I take a shot and a beer

drink quietly while absorbing

the madness all around—

the dancing, the yelling, the ruckus

brings me peace

to see the people releasing

all that they were told

all of those words dissipating

like puffs of smoke

I think of Siddhartha

sat underneath a tree

in meditation and reflection—

could this noise be my tree?

this soundtrack of working people

blowing off steam

the solo bartender says to me,

thank you for your patience

unaware that for me,

time has twisted and contorted

beyond recognition

for I could sit here twenty years

feeding off this racket

subsisting on liquor and beer

until my liver failed

and the rest of my body

sunk into this bar stool

becoming one with

this place I call

a piece of home



Joseph Roland Ewing


Painting, Oil on Canvas, 6.6”x10”



Brianna Vega

Grim Amusement

Drawing, Pigma Micron, Paint Markers, 5.5”x8.5”



Missy (Tamara) Fowler


The plane seatbelt straps

That just don’t reach

The scale that refuses

To budge at all

The breath that you

Can’t seem to catch

The pants that try as

You may just won’t fit


The ring that is forever

Too tight to wear

The plastic chair

On the verge of collapse

The stares of strangers

Never minding their own

The need to turn sideways

Through the doors at home


I know inadequacy

With stubborn, endless intimacy.


The Jurassic Period

Maria Raygoza

I am a Brachiosaurus

I am unusual and tall

My legs are short

my neck is long

I dine on trees, leaves and plants

Ginkgoes and Cycads are a treat

I am a mighty dinosaur

I am ready to stretch


I am a Brachiosaurus

My name stands for arm lizard

I have 52 teeth in my mouth

And I am 50 feet tall!

Everyone around me is different

There is a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors

We are either carnivores or herbivores

But we all reside on planet earth

The world is beautiful

Green surrounds us, waterfalls all around us

Its peaceful and serene

The world is still

At night everything is silent

Everyone is under the spell of slumber

Or eating a last snack,

Before drifting on to sleep


Joseph Roland Ewing

Green Guy

Painting, Acrylic on Pad, 7.5”x10”


We peer at the dark sky

Its limitless and magnificent

There are 10,000 stars

And the moon is beaming upon our skin

There is a big bright star today

And it is getting brighter

And brighter

And brighter


Amy Nagy

Deep Sea

Painting, Ink, Charcoal, and White Pen




Matthew Martella

In the coming and going

Of all things

The impermanence of all forms

There is suffering in

Holding on to anything


Like a fistful of sand underwater

Everything is undone

In time

But there is infinite sand

Infinite forms will be made

Peacefully behold the

Coming and going of them all

There is contented joy in awe


Smoke Break

Heidi Saxton



always work weeknights in our

tiny hole in the wall restaurant.

A modest brick building wedged between

a gift shop and a modern grocery store.

Despite the outward dingy appearance, the

inside was warm. Honey colored wallpaper

lined the dining area, bright colored tissue

paper banners and potted plants hung from

the ceiling, dated mesquite tables, creaky

chairs and booths were placed haphazardly

on the deep orange floor. Tourists and

residents alike flooded into the small dining

room on busy weekends when we make

most of our money. That’s why I prefer

weeknights. Never too busy. There are

rarely more than ten customers at a time,

so I get to slip out the back door, light a

cigarette, and let my mind wander.

The regular weeknight staff was

small, only three of us each night, just

enough to keep up with the regulars and

occasional walk-ins. In the kitchen, there

was me and one other line cook, Tony, and

a waitress, Kelly. Tony’s hefty and solid, a

staggering six-foot-six, 280 pounds, middleaged,

dark-skinned Mexican from Nogales,

just two hours away from our small

restaurant in Tombstone, Arizona. The

opposite of Kelly, who is bubbly and goofy,

standing just above five-foot-three with

shiny hair down past her shoulders, which

she kept in two matching braids framing


Kelly Franck


Painting, Gouache on Watercolor Paper13””x10”

her soft face. She’s much paler than I am,

skinnier too. I like to think that dainty Kelly

would fit perfectly into my arms. I’m more

like Tony; tall, dark, and stocky.

Two years ago, when I first started

working there, just barely seventeen, I

was afraid of Tony. I was the first woman

to work in the kitchen. I started as a prep

cook on busy weekends, dicing onions and

peppers, and washing the dishes at the end

of the night. Most of the other men in the

kitchen barely paid any attention to me

scuttling around them, trying desperately

to keep up. On my third shift, Tony watched

me trip on the uneven terracotta tile and

spill menudo all over the floor. I had never

been so embarrassed, my face almost as red

as the soup coating the tile.

“Aye, Mija, it’s okay. What’s your

name? Carmen?” he said as he pulled me up

off the ground. “Let me help you clean this

mess up, okay?”

I remember telling him I wanted to

quit. He listened silently, helping me with

the dark stain on my uniform. He convinced

me to stay and swore he would teach me

how to be the best cook in the restaurant.

He took care of me, and he kept his promise.

He taught me how to season food from

smell alone and how to multitask so I could

keep up with the orders. In a few months,

I could run the kitchen by myself and was

promoted to line cook.

That’s when I met Kelly. She got

hired just a few months after me. When we

both got switched to weeknights, she and

Tony became close, and he took care of her

like he took care of me. All of a sudden, I had

friends, people I was excited to see every

day. Kelly was so charming. I loved listening




Connie Nicholson

Gossip on Yellow Chairs

Painting, Oil on Canvas, 16”x20”

to her and Tony talk. She would tell stories

about college and her family. How could

anyone not like her?


Even if weeknights were slow, there

were always the regulars. Housewives

coming in every Monday and Thursday to

gossip and drink margaritas, old married

couples, businessmen in cowboy hats,

and anyone who wanted food past nine

o’clock paraded in to keep us mildly busy.

But that Tuesday was particularly dead. It

had been raining all day, and the narrow

streets were flooded. I had only seen three

customers brave the rain and shuffle into

the building. It was just me in the kitchen

scrubbing lard from pans left to soak in

the sink by the morning staff. As I cleaned,

the steamy water scalded my hands and

little flakes of burnt food caked onto the

pans lodged themselves underneath my

chewed-up fingernails. I cracked open the

foggy window above the sink to let the cold,

moist air in. The smell of rain temporarily

overpowered the stench of Mexican food

that filled the cramped kitchen. I used to

love the scent of Mexican food, it reminded

me of my Abuelita’s kitchen, but after two

years, I was tired of going home smelling

like beans. I could hear Kelly out in the

dining area chatting up Tony over the

soft Latin radio station that played the


same four songs blending together into a

creamy mix of bandolas and violins. I didn’t

like being alone in the sweltering kitchen

waiting for customers. I wanted to be out

there with her.

I finished washing the last dish

and felt the familiar buzzing in the back

of my head and snuck out the back for a

quick smoke. I didn’t bother to wash the

grease off my hands, just wiped them on my

apron, and sat down on the curb behind the

restaurant, scraping at the asphalt with the

bottoms of my boots. I liked the alleyway. It

was a nice break from the rowdy restaurant.

It was dark and quiet, lit only by a dim

yellow street light.

I fished around in my pockets for a

lighter and let my back slump against the

exterior wall. I took a few drags, let my

mind drift. I found myself thinking about

Kelly, as I often do. On weeknights, she has

to bus tables as well as waitress, so she gets

a little dirtier. She wears less makeup, and

under the smell of her flowery perfume,

there’s a tinge of sweat. I couldn’t help but

think about the lines around her eyes when

she smiles or how she hums softly along

with the radio while wiping down tables.

My fingertips felt tingly, and there was a

fluttering deep in my belly. Instinctively my

eyes shut, and I imagined, for a moment,

that she’s humming to me, and for just a

second, I didn’t feel so alone. Then I heard

Tony’s boisterous laugh coming from the


I took another drag before discarding

my cigarette on the ground and stamping

it out with my heel. My feet felt heavy as I

dragged myself back to the kitchen.

When I stepped back inside, I saw

Kelly laughing with Tony out in the dining

room. She was curled up in one of our

cracked leather booths that lined the wall.

She swatted at his arm, playfully, and stood

up to wander over to help a customer. My

eyes trailed along behind her as she walked.

I tried to focus on dicing the bright red

bell peppers, but they reminded me of her

lipstick from Friday night.

“Carmen, what the hell are you

doing? You’re bleeding!”

Tony came up from behind me and

clapped me hard on the back. I looked down

and saw the blood dripping on to the cutting

board. “I’m so sorry, Tony. I didn’t—I wasn’t

paying attention.”

I scraped the peppers into the

overflowing trash and tossed the dirty

cutting board into the sink. Tony looked out

at the dining area toward Kelly and looked

back at me.

“You know, I was talking to Kelly

earlier, and she plays for your team,” he said,

winking at me, “you should try talking to

her, Mija.”

I rolled my eyes, but my palms were

suddenly sweaty. It’s hard to keep a secret

here, especially since you could tell just

by looking at me. Short hair, boyish, and

awkward everything about me screamed it.

Kelly must know, so why didn’t she tell me

she was different like me? Why didn’t she

tell me she liked girls too? The thought of

not being so alone excited me.

The night trudged on, and I thought

more about what Tony said. My work

got sloppier. When Kelly handed me an

order ticket, I got caught up in her loopy

handwriting. The words melted into a note

for me. Once I started thinking about us




together, I couldn’t stop. The thoughts

drowned out the sound of meat sizzling, I

couldn’t pay attention to chopping onions,

all I could think about was her.

It was like this every shift I worked

with her. She would stroll into the kitchen,

excitedly wave at Tony and me, and clock

in. Then I would spend the whole shift

watching her work.

When Tony caught me staring, he

would laugh and punch me in the shoulder.

“You should make a move, Carmen.

You never know what could happen.”

The more he said it, the more I

thought he might be right, but I was worried

it would change everything, so I just stared

at her from across the restaurant.


On Wednesday, a little while after I

clocked in, Kelly glided in through the back

door, her tennis shoes squeaking on the wet


Tony, I did it! She squealed. I got the

job! You were right. They said I would be a

great fit for the team. I think I’m going to

take it.

“Congratulations, Kelly,” he said,

lifting her into a tight hug. “I’m so proud of

you. You work so hard. You deserve this.”

I looked back and forth between

the two of them. My chest felt tight, and I

couldn’t see straight. I dropped the knife

I was using to slice thick strips of cooked


“Oh, Carmen, I didn’t notice you.”

Kelly spun around. “I applied for a job at

the pizza place opening downtown. They

pay five over minimum. Anyway, I just got

a call back from them this morning, and

they said that I got the job if I still want it.

And of course I want it, not that I don’t love

my job here, it’s just, I’m trying to move out,

and I could use the extra cash. It’s an extra

five dollars an hour. I mean, come on.” She

walked over and punched in her time card.

“Who wouldn’t take that opportunity,” she

continued, but I stopped listening. I felt like

I was slipping and couldn’t hear her over the

rushing sound in my head.

“That’s really exciting,

Kelly,” I sputtered. I smiled tightly.


As she pranced out into the dining

room, Tony put his arm around me.

“Are you okay, Mija?” he asked.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I


“I promised her I wouldn’t tell

anyone in case she didn’t get the job. She

needs the money, Carmen. Don’t be selfish.”

I pulled away from him and leaned

against the peeling wallpaper.

“I’m going out for a cigarette.”

He shouted something at me, but I

was already out the door. I slumped against

the wall and sharply inhaled the cold

night air. I was breathing like I had run a

marathon. I clutched my chest, desperately

trying to catch my breath. It felt like

someone was grabbing my heart and ringing

it out. I thought about never seeing her

again, and I closed my eyes, fighting back

the tightness in my chest and the prickling

sensation behind my eyes.

I sat out there for a while longer,

not bothering to pull the lighter out of my

pocket, tugging at the fraying edge of my

baggy uniform. I thought about what to do.

Maybe I should shoot my shot, ask Kelly

to hang out. What’s the worst that could


Connie Nicholson


Two Butchers

Painting, Oil on Canvas, 16”x20”

happen? I looked down at my yellowed

fingertips, dissecting every look, every

smile, every word she said to me, trying to

decipher how she felt about me. I pieced

together clues. She always laughs when I

joke around with Tony, but she doesn’t talk

to me unless he’s there. She helps me clean

every night when we close, and her hand

brushes up against mine while we do dishes.

Could that be an accident, or maybe she

feels the same jolt of warmth that I do when

her hand bumps into mine? Maybe if she got

to know me, she could adore me like I adore

her. Maybe she could get lost in my words.

Maybe she could be hungry for me like I am

for her.

Tony flung the creaky metal door


«Carmen, get back in here. We have


I pushed myself off the ground,

littered with cigarette butts, feeling jittery.

“Loquita,” he muttered.

I spent the rest of the night arguing

with myself, and finally, I decided to tell her

how I felt about her. If I asked her out at the



very least, I would stop worrying so much

about whether or not I should do it.

When it was time to close, Tony

pulled out the mop bucket, and I settled

down next to the sink. I turned the water

as hot as it would go and scrubbed the

remaining dishes until my fingers turned

pruney. I traced the edge of the rusted sink,

trying to decide what to say to her.

I gathered the plates and started

loading them into the leaky dishwasher

when Kelly walked up behind me.

“Hey, Carmen,” she said in her sticky

sweet voice. “I need to talk to you about


I could hear my heartbeat in my

ears. Was I too obvious? Was she going to

call me creepy for staring? I dropped one

of the ceramic flower painted plates, and it

shattered in the sink.

“Oh god, are you okay?” she asked.

“I’m fine.” I quickly picked up the

thick pieces and set them to the side. I

looked sheepishly at the grimy floor.

“Are you sure?”

“What can I do you for?” I cut her off,

cringing inwardly at the awkward phrasing.

“Oh, uh, yes,” she began.

My mind raced with the possibilities

of where this could go. What if she asked me

out or said she hated me?

“I need to ask you a favor,” she


“Yes,” I said a little too eagerly.

“Can you not tell anyone else about

the pizza job? I don’t want it to get around

before I get the chance to put in my two

weeks on Friday.”

I froze.


“Right, no, yeah, totally, I will, uh, not

tell a soul. Not me. I’m a good secret keeper,”

I blurted.

She laughed, and it sounded like

Christmas bells.

I’ll see you tomorrow, Carmen.


I decided that Thursday, I was going

to tell Kelly how I felt.

She clocked in a few minutes after

me and went to the employee bathroom to

change into her work uniform. I followed

her, bouncing on the balls of my feet, ready

to spill all my feelings. I opened my mouth,

but Tony called my name and told me to get

my ass back to work.

I waited until she slid into one of the

wood chairs near the kitchen, and I went

out into the dining area.

Rhea Stanley


Drawing, 18”x24”

“Hey, Kelly,” I started, but then the


front door swung open, and Kelly turned

around to help the guests.

Finally, an hour before closing, I got

a chance to talk to her. I invited her to take

a break and have a cigarette out in the alley

with me. She looked confused but agreed to

meet me back there in a few minutes.

I waited out there in the cold,

fidgeting with the buttons on my uniform.

When Kelly finally opened the door and

peeked her head out, I felt dizzy and placed

my hand on the wall to steady myself. It felt

strange seeing her there. I had imagined it

so many times, but now she was so close,

right there next to me, just inches away.

“Do you come here often?” She

elbowed me in the shoulder and gave an

exaggerated wink.

I laughed a little too loud for a little

too long. My laugh sounded raspy and deep

compared to her soft giggle. I cleared my

throat, feeling around in my pockets for the

pack of cigarettes and handed her one. Her

fingertip touched mine when she grabbed

the cigarette from my hand. I shuddered.

It was quiet for a long moment while

she stared at me. The yellow street light

splashed across her cheeks, highlighting her

dainty features. This is it, I thought. She’s

been looking at me for so long, she must like

me. Ask her. Ask her. Ask her.

“So, do you have a light or what?” she

asked, letting out an awkward laugh.

I pulled the lighter out of my pocket.

Idiot, I thought to myself.

We made small talk about Tony and

her new job for a while. She did most of the

talking, but I didn›t mind. She was funny

and clever. I was obsessed with the sound of

her voice and the way she moved her hands

when she spoke. The conversation died

down, and I could hear the sound of traffic

from the alleyway.

I tried to tell her that I wanted to

ask her something, but the words got stuck

in my throat, and all that came out was a

funny sound.

“What did you say?” She asked.

“I was wondering, since you’re

leaving, if you wanted to hang out


She looked confused.

“Tony told me you like girls. I, um,

also feel that way. I mean, I like girls too. I

like girls like you and I, um, like you, and I

thought since you also like girls, you might

want to, like, hang out, like, outside of work.

You know, like uh—like a date … maybe?”

Her eyebrows furrowed, and she

grimaced. “I’m not—”

“Or not. Maybe we shouldn’t. I

don’t—” I stuttered.

“It’s just that I’m not into you. I’m

flattered, but I like,” she paused, “more

feminine girls.”

I was suddenly aware that I probably

smelled like sweat and refried beans and

that my hair’s frizzy. I felt like throwing up.

Kelly looked embarrassed for me.

“I should probably head back inside,

get ready to close up.” She turned towards

the door. “I’ll, uh, see you in there, Carmen.”

Hearing her say my name felt like a

punch in the gut. I crumpled to the ground,

my body in too much shock to cry. I stood

up and went back inside to help Tony close.

I did the dishes alone.


I called out sick on Friday, but Tony

knew. I’m sure everyone knew.



After the News

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith


The room was gorged

with bad light, the heat of

a summer full of work.

You arrived

after the cop shows, telling

me, that my dirty

laundry made your eyes

water. Then you would

take off your clothes

in that room, tossing them

with the sound of riots.

The walls bending

like mis-hit nails. You

stretched and I reached,

in that place,

did we love?

Did we ever?



Rick Larke


Photograph, 8”x10”



Kelly Franck


Painting, Oil on Canvas, 16”x20”


Intimate Animus

Charles Sublette

I acquiesce your temperance

Your skin cast in gold, it puts marble to shame

How can I get enough to satisfy my fantasies

Love and lust woke me up to passion and pain


Pink dandelions float in bubbles of amber brilliance

Waiting to shiver away

Translucent walls shatter around me

Turquoise lions eat your blemished tattoos

don’t hit me with those soft laced eyes

I am ready for absolution

Under powerless sculpted brilliances


Jist Wait’n

(Reflection of an Aged Flatlander)

George Key

Sit’n here, in my new place, where they say I’m better off in.

Maybe I am, sept no one visits like they said they would.

Now I remember, when I was an old man, much younger than me now,

I’d be sit’n on the front porch in my favorite rocking chair.

That darn old crooked-tailed cat, what kept the field mice

out of our Johnny Cake pan, I never could understand

why it would take off like greased lightning. Ma told me once why

that dang cat took a fright to that chair each time I commenced t’ rock’n.


Well, none of that don’t make no never mind anyhow.

Now see, I be hold’n my dobro, twist’n them thar pegs,

tight’n them thar strings til they sung out jist right purdy like.

Wipe’n her down with my kerchief, ever so gently.

Not that she was ever dirty or noth’n, jist purely out of love.

I be rock’n with ease as each day slid on by, jist wait’n,

look’n out at the world and then back to home again.

Jist watch’n the corn grow while strumm’n my dobro,

til all the birds quit sing’n, jist to listen.

Our closest neighbors didn’t live close out thar like they do in here.

I’d be count’n their dusty cars as they’d roll on by, to or

from town, one at a time and then sometimes even two.

Dust would rise above the tall trees where the Redtail nested,

down ‘long the crick bed, near the bridge my father built to get us home.

Giv’n me a heads up that another one was com’n, long before

I was able to hear that rumble of them tires on the gravel.

I’d only count them thar rattle traps as they crossed the


imaginary finish line. . . marked so plainly by My mailbox.

T’was one of them thar O’ fishal U’nited States Postal Service ones.

It were My mailbox on my land, mounted pre . . .cariously so, on

an unpainted fence post where My Name Was painted for all to see.

It sits on the road, right thar, where My driveway meets up to

our strung- up fence, where it finds the corner of the field.

Back then, one tall pitcher of ma’s lemonade and a few or

so sips from my old crock jug, got me through most any day.

As the sun fell low, blue sky bowed to star-filled darkness.

Still, I be count’n occasional headlights, then finally, none.

A whole new world made way for the dance of a thousand fireflies.

I’d light my kerosene lamp, warm’n my hands by the glass chimney.

Find’n peace in the song of the unoiled, wooden rock’n chair.

Sudden-like the squeak stopped, and so did I, scared like a pig

in a light’n storm, clutch’n my dobro tight to my chest, for the last time.

My kids and them thar doctors come out and took me here to town.

I’m sure they meant well. They say it’s for my best. Maybe not, then


They sold my place, my land, and most all my everythings.

I could only bring what fit in the steamer trunk, to this so-called place of



My dobro I wrapped up in Ma’s quilt. It fit in that old trunk jist fine.

“See . . . my dobro hangs yonder thar on the wall.

That’s it, see . . . right thar.” Still as a church mouse,

a little rusty, and sorta kinda like me, collect’n dust.

Jist kinda the way things turned out, while sit’n and wait’n.

Through all that, I managed to hold on to a small plot of My land,

right thar where Ma was put to rest. I surely be spect’n that

when my day comes, God will’n and the crick don’t rise,

I’ll be take’n my place, under the big Oak, longside Ma.


Colors of a Bruise

Angelique Matus


each house we moved into was always new,

yet the presence always remained the same.


toxic and sad. Yes,

always sad, and angry.

like a Selena song that we would

rewind, and play. rewind, and play.


there wasn’t anything beautiful about this.

purple and black,

our pink tea party table that had been kicked to

the kitchen,

from the living room.

I always saw mom crying.

too afraid to comfort her, instead, I

would pretend I didn’t notice.

no more than four, what could I do?

sometimes it was a broken window,

or a thrown Tapatío bottle.

are you ok, mom?

Ophelia and I sat playing tea party,

when the normal arguing sparked.

then there he came.

the man with the devil’s temper

yet, who held my love.


are you ok, mom?


Taylor Tang


Drawing, 8 1/2”x8 1/2”



The Flip of a Coin

Ian Washburn


Two men, without a penny

between their names, shuffled

along a sidewalk that was richer than them,

although looked just as poor. A small glint

on the ground ahead caught the eye of the

shorter of the two. He dashed forward and

picked it up before the glint reached the

taller one’s eyes.

one inquired.

“What’s that you got there?” the tall


“Well, it’s gotta be somethin’! Can’t I

just have a looksee, Stevey?”

Steve pondered it half a second and

then covetously revealed the coin in the

palm of his—

The taller one plucked it out of

Steve’s hand so quickly he would’ve missed

it if he’d blinked!

“George, give it back! You said youse

was just going to look at it!”

“I am jus’ lookin’ at it!” George said,

holding it up to the heavens and well out of

Steve’s reach. “How about we flip the coin to

see who keeps it?”

“But it’s my coin! I found it!”

“True, but I think I gotta better plan

for it than a handful of candy!”

Steve knew the look on George’s

face in a flash, it was that face he got when

he had an idea, an idea that was really

gonna cost him. But Steve wasn’t about to

let him get the upper hand again. At least


“You’re on.”

“You call it, Steve,” George slickly



George flipped the coin. As it

somersaulted in the air both men watched

intently. George’s hand shot out for it

prematurely, and Steve tackled him. The

coin hit the ground while they wrestled

beside it. It bounced gracefully towards a

sewer grate. As it gently tottered towards its

doom, the two men scrambled to it in vain.

That glimmering bit of metal fell into

the void with a soul-crushing ploop.

The two men sat in defeat on the

curb that was now as broke as them.

Steve shrugged, sniffled, and sighed,

“Well, the good news is we don’t have to

fight over who gets the coin anymore!

The bad news is we don’t have the coin


George socked Steve in the face,

knocking him out cold.

“Heads. I win.”



Ulises Ramos


Mono-print on Watercolor Paper, 22”x22”


We Expect the Coming Rains


Christine Early

The dulcet ring of the service bell alerted Joey to the presence of a car in the lot of

the service station his father owned. It was past eight pm now and very few people

ventured this far to the outskirts of town at this time of night. Brushing his greasy hands onto

the front of his coveralls, he peeked his head out of the small office in the station and peered

through the front window. The light from the station made it a little distance into the lot, just

this side of the pumps, but Joey was just able to make out a white Chevy parked outside. Lisa’s


Pushing through the front door, Joey wiped his brow where sweat had quickly

accumulated. He reckoned it was about 80 degrees outside. Not too hot, but sticky. It didn’t

often get humid in this part of Arizona, but July brought heat, and with it, wicked monsoons

that ravaged the valley and made the air thick.

Lisa was leaning against the outside wall of the station, barely illuminated by the little

bit of light that made it outside, lazily smoking a cigarette. “You didn’t have to come out all this

way to see me tonight, Lisa,” Joey said, leaning in to kiss her. As he did so, Lisa turned her head

and Joey’s lips fell solidly against her cheek. “Lisa—”


Rhea Stanley

Confined Affection

Drawing, 18”x24”

“We can’t keep going like this Joey.

It’s not working,” Lisa said, staring up at

him. Joey met her gaze for a moment,

quickly looking away when her stare

seemed to look into him instead of at him.

He’d worried this was coming for a while.

Lisa had been distant, ever since what

happened with Frankie. On the horizon past

the pumps, lightning flashed boldly. Joey

wondered briefly how far away the storm

was now.

“Something’s gotta change,” she

continued, bringing her cigarette slowly to

her lips. “I just can’t keep doing this.”

“We’ll get married, then,” Joey said. “A

big church wedding, like your ma’s always

talking about. And we’ll get a house, a real

beautiful place, and we’ll finally have a

home together.”

“Joey, I can’t.”

“We can start our family, Lisa,” he

continued. “A girl for you and a boy for me,

just like we talked about. Maybe I’ll open my

own service station, Lis’, and you can take

care of the home, like we’ve always wanted.”

“But I don’t think I want that, Joey,”

Lisa said. “Not anymore. And I don’t think

you want it either. I need you to respect

that. I need you to respect me.”

Joey felt the breath leave his lungs

and for a minute the world seemed to stand

still. He choked in a breath, threading his

fingers through his hair roughly. “Lis’, I

do respect you. You gotta know that,” he

said. “If this is about what happened with

Frankie, don’t you think you’ve let it affect

us long enough?”

“Us? This didn’t happen to us, Joey, it

happened to me,” Lisa hissed, turning to look

him fully in the face, her eyes narrowing


“I’m sorry. Look, I already told you he

was drunk,” Joey said, trying to fight down

the guilt that rose like bile in his chest. “He




was just goofin’ with you, you know how

Frankie is. He does that with all the girls.”

“Oh to hell with Frankie, Joe,” Lisa

snapped. “This is exactly what I was talking



“No, Joey. I need you to listen to me,”

she said, her voice thick. “I need you to really

listen to me. I’m tired of having to pretend

like everything is ok. Everything is not ok.

It’s not. Don’t you understand?”

Joey saw the first tear as it slipped

down her face, glittering in the light that

filtered from the shop window. He opened

his mouth before closing it again, unsure of

what exactly to say. He swallowed thickly,

his saliva doing little to sooth his dry throat.

He glanced at Lisa and decided on a simple

“I’m listening,” casually leaning back against

the wall of the station behind him.

Lisa nodded slowly, drying her

cheeks on her jacket sleeve. “What

happened with Frankie, it wasn’t just the

same as what he does with all the girls,” she

said quietly. “And if it was, you think I can

move on from it so easily?”

Lisa looked down at her cigarette,

worrying her bottom lip between her teeth.

“When I was four, my mother got me my

first doll-baby,” she said, her gaze focusing

on something unseen in the distance. “It

winked its eyes and cried and drank when

you held its bottle to its mouth. It even

pottied like a real baby. I loved it more than

anything, took it everywhere with me.”

The wind blew lightly, carrying with

it the smell of creosote and wet earth. Lisa

shivered and pulled her jacket more tightly

around herself, clearing her throat before


“And when I was six, my mother gave

birth to Charlotte and she was so beautiful.

A real-life doll-baby, just like the one I loved

so much,” she said. “From the first second I

saw her, I knew I was going to grow up to

have babies of my very own. I was going to

feed them and cradle them and love them

more than anything else on earth. But

after everything…I can’t, Joey. After what

happened with Frankie, it’s like a part of


me has gone and I don’t know how to get it

back. I don’t know how to fix this.”

Joey reached out and pulled her into

an embrace and the dam finally burst. “I

don’t know either, Lisa,” he said, his voice

hollow as Lisa broke down into his shirt.

The pair stood like this for what seemed like

an eternity, Lisa’s pained sorrow and the

not-so-distant rumble of thunder the only

things filling the silence of the night. After a

few moments, she started to pull away and

Joey loosened his grip to allow her to slip

out of his arms

“So this is it,” Joey said, watching as

Lisa scrubbed her face with her sleeve. She

took a long drag of what remained of her

cigarette, its cherry flaring angrily in the


“This is it,” she nodded, blowing

smoke from between her pursed lips.

“I love you, Lisa,” Joey said softly. The

pain in his chest only seemed to get worse

every time he breathed in. “I think I always


“I love you, too, Joey. I do,” Lisa

said, flicking the butt of her cigarette to

the ground, grinding the life out of it with

the heel of her boot. “But I have to love

myself, too and if I have to stay in this town

one second longer, I feel like I might just

combust. I have to go now.”

She leaned up gently and kissed Joey

on the cheek and as her lips left his face, she

spun away from him quickly and walked

to her car, the heels of her boots thumping

soundly on the asphalt. Not turning to

even spare him one last glance, she ducked

swiftly into her car, started it up, and pulled

out of the service station onto the 90,

heading in the direction that would take

her downstate, away from town. Away from

him. As Joey watched the two red spots that

were Lisa’s tail lights grow smaller on the

lonely stretch of road, the clouds above him

finally let loose and wept.


Tina Kennedy


Painting, Oil on Canvas, 36”x36”



Ulises Ramos

Mask Maker

Relief Woodcut, 11.5” x 10.5”



Brianna Vega

Habu Snake

Drawing, Pigma Micron, Paint Markers, 5.5”x8.5”


Lazy Bones

Courtney Hayes Armstrong

She was the first to wake and bumbled

blindly down the charcoal hallway, ammonia-chafed

fingers against plaster that guided her like flesh

caressing bumps of calloused braille

stiff darkness smothered

suffering lives inside the home’s inferno—


damnit, turn on the light


liquid strands of faint honey sunshine

steered her shaking clutches as the brush bristles

raked lemon fine wicks of the child’s hair and feebly aligned

nubby buttons on powder blue seersucker

whispered to the child spelling words like live, die and hurt

waved good-bye at the bus’s crying lanterns

starched a load of laundry soiled with shame

bleached the whites

He was the last to rise and swayed and lurched

maddened by the ferocity of one tangerine ray that peeped

past the claws of the damask drapes and scratched

swollen eyes until he guzzled again from the liquored spoon

slugged late to work again and ranted

profanities to anyone and to no one and the abyss

breathed out pilfered cigarette stench into his mitt

slid back home exhausted from hustling Joes



Alexandra Roussard

Octopoda Suppression

Mixed Media

hissed at the television clouded in grey political angst

slung gruesome names at the women, his woman, her spirit

gulped her gifted food and stolen body

sneered through soot and ashen blame

She was the most unproductive person he had ever met—

worthless, psychotic white trash—he haughtily

heckled while she breathed and dreamed

readied her exit while finally peaceful in bed


Kelly Franck

Into Light

Paiting, Oil on Canvas, 12”x12”

Looking Through the Blinds


Angelique Matus


I heard girls marry someone like their dad.

oh, god I hope that’s true.

papi and mom love each other plenty,

can you not tell? for them

it’s been 20 years.

If I shall marry someone like papi, i’ll be lucky,

like mom.

a man whos big and strong,

handsome and funny.

who smells of, and sells of mary-jane

to provide for his family. and who keeps us safe,

yes, keeps us safe.

if I shall marry someone like papi, i’ll be lucky,

like mom.


and if he breaks a window it’s okay,

it was in the heat of anger.

he still loves me.

and when I cook him food, and set the plate in front of him

and he throws it on the floor,

or gives it to our dogs,

Its okay. Maybe I undercooked it, or

maybe too burnt.

Its okay, he

still loves me.

and if he ever strikes my face,

or pulls my hair,

or grabs the glass chili bottle from the table, and throws it at me

its okay. Maybe, I should’ve listened or kept my mouth shut.

my tears will dry, and my bruises will fade away.

afterall, he will still love me.

I heard girls marry someone like their dad,

oh, god I hope thats true.

I love papi, very much.

what could be so bad loving a man like him too?



My child,

Is that your idea of



Liber Somnia

Reno Roethle


it rained in hell, awoken from a dream

the white creature stood before the trench

arms outstretched toward pale sky, a pillar

of light reached down through cracked overcast

from the breach, molten steel poured heavy

engulfing the hole where he’d slept

a monster survived that day, to plunge the world into darkness for a second time, Herr Wolf

his mother saw a ghostly figure

as if dreaming, her son waved goodbye

his arm hanging by skin, “look mother”

it swung like a marionette

before the shell struck, premonition

he said, “I saw my mother standing there”, on the field of Verdun

in shock, he ran, a mortar exploded where he’d stood

a young soldier, The Great War

a woman in dark red gown

at the Battle of Nations, magnificent crown and golden mantle

face sorrowful, looked down with sad eyes

upon a white eagle she clasped to her bosom

facing death, he prayed, beholding her beauty the Battlefield Apparition of the Virgin Mary

she took his pain away and promised him home

Polish soldier, 1813



Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum

Reign - Lust

Painting, Watercolor on Paper, 8”x11.56”

in battle, the perceptive will know

when smoke turns day black, in the ancient land of Babylon

I laid in a body bag, an omen

of the flaying, foretold years past, my flesh be rent

I survived, clapping figures lined the road

beyond the sanguine pools of blood, hate

spewing from hot barrels, and iron fist of the machine

there is something fragile

it speaks in dreams, urging attention, beware

the dark ritual of war, for this is what will become



Tina Kennedy


Painting, Watercolor and Ink on Paper, 12”x12”


Atomic Prosperity

Reno Roethle

The doomsday clock ticks down to midnight and

the government thinks you should know. Heaps of uranium

sit in cooling tanks; without electricity, they’ll melt. T.V. broadcasts

its message, they can reach everyone, to make sure you know to be

afraid. A reactor exploded in Ukraine, but it’s safe to breath, that’s not what you

should fear. Meltdowns are secure, reactor life extensions; economical. Nuclear

decay, in decaying facilities. Fear the despot in his desert palace, who keeps his

people from the brink of chaos. Fear the idea of peace, which works

against our bottom line, but don’t worry about the poison air.

We have


that you

must be

aware of,


them you’d

be free.

Our missiles are pointed

at their


but they

are bad





keeps the Peace.

When rockets trace the blue, we hold hell in our pockets, in the megaton range.

On the trigger is Dead Man’s rotting Hand. We can scorch the earth, and in fact, it’s policy;

to burn everyone, piece by piece for peace. Titan, Polaris, Trident, Satan, and Topol all stand ready to

annihilate...as the guardians of peace.



It Would Be Nice

George Key

I don’t need

to feel respected.

But that would be nice.


I don’t need

to be included.

But that would be nice.

I don’t need

to belong.

But that would be nice.

I don’t need

to always feel good.

But that would be nice.

I don’t need

to be touched.

But that would be nice.

I don’t need

to be heard.

But that would be nice.

I don’t need

to always smile.

But that would be nice.

I don’t need

to be liked.

But that would be nice.

I don’t need

to be loved.

But that would be nice.


Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum


Painting, Watercolor on Paper, 8”x10.91”



Charles Sublette

Hide Out


Miles From Home

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith

Maybe you’re 19 on the back of a motorcycle

after a night of free beer and random lips.

The driver is a character out of a New Jersey opera

named “Stupidlandia,” and the words “slow down”

or “I’m too scared to breathe” could never form

as the motorcycle dances through traffic

like schools of yellow tails in coral.


The driver torques the throttle like he hates

the grip, the machine explodes through

molecules of speed, and whines

through the air becoming the beast

of time in calculus class, assignments not completed,

homework, red-marked to its borders, and that Arizona

is thousands of miles from his home. There,

he’d never ride a motorcycle into the

beauty of a dry spring Arizona night;

head floating with hedonistic beats and his hair

alive, planning its escape from the scalp.

Somewhere, say after two miles, you give yourself

over to any fate; that involves asking forgiveness

for these selfish choices to scream near the moon,

which wouldn’t dare singe your wings.


And as you dart between sedan and coupe,

truck and curb, you sense the ability to

actually, reach out, at speed,

and caress a car you’re passing, and it takes

all your will to hold back your left hand;

the one that knows nothing and is often

ashamed of itself, from petting a sports car.

Some miracles are about water changing or dividing; cripples

becoming dancers or inept athletes saving the season. Others

are about events not unfolding into tragic predictability

and nothing at all taking place; arriving home whole,

smiling, thanking fate for its gentle touch,

its gracious understanding of silent idiots.


Memories of Lost

Destiny Brooks

My eyes were brimmed with fresh tears,

My back pressed against the cold stone wall,

It feels as if it has been years.

Years since I last heard your voice...

Fate is funny,

It seems as if you weren’t given a choice.


A choice to live on...

The countless flowers wilt with depression beside me,

And I pick one up with gentle fingers.

The petals tilt their faces down and dive, drifting slowly in fall,

Just as my tears do,

And I can’t help myself, I call.

I call out to you,

Praying you would...Could...hear...

But my voice does not reach your ears

So, I sit,

My back against the cold stone wall,

With new tears brimming in my eyes.

With memories rushing past then fading.

Fading like the gentle pink in the petals of the flowers I hold,

Rushing past like the years that slipped by...



Jessi Moreno-Rosas

Life of the Party

Painting, Acrylic on Canvas, 50”x30”



Zach Ellingson

Space Octopus

Digital Illustration, 8”x10”



Reno Roethle

The shining

North Star. Guide

travelers with your

brilliance, across the

ocean, from afar.

Deep below the depths,

black water hides terror,

unleashed in a few steps.

Gracefully, your MIRV’s fly,

launch in arcing parabola.

Poison ash from the sky.

Silent and deep, from the

ocean you rise. With a

hellish rumble, your plume

tracing. Oh, your guiding

light, is melting our eyes.


Hydrogen warhead, fire from the sea.

Thermonuclear furnace, our creation meant

to be. Polaris, guide us to destruction with nuclear


You shining beacon

of mass murder,




Mirror, Unbroken

Emily Gill

My sister is my broken mirror.

In her eyes, I see my grief reflected back at me.

I have tried to pick up the shards,

to put the pieces back together with superglue and sheer will

but the cracks keep forming and my fingers bleed.

Crystal ball, endless retrospection, release me.


Only my sister understands

how it feels to mourn a mother who is not yet dead.

Our collective memory seared with sleepless nights,

faces pressed to pillows wet with tears.

The day my sister became a mother

I was there, where our mother should have been

holding her hand, feeding her soft encouragements

and crushed ice. She made carnal, womanly sounds

but she did not cry. Childhood was over now,

I knew, for us both. Some things

cannot be unseen, unheard, unknown.

A being emerges from the depths of my sister,

an alien, a glob of flesh, a baby.

The doctor holds her in the air, a humble offering.

The baby is screaming, crying at her own birthday party.

I am crying too, but I am also smiling.

She is my sister, she is my mother, she is me.

She is a clean slate,

a mirror, unbroken.



Alexandra Roussard


Painting, Acrylic


Amy Nagy

Sea Creatures

Painting, Watercolor and Gouache


Nympha Nervosa

Elliana Koput


There was a fish tank at the brewery,

Filled with Bluegill, Sunfish,

Smallmouth bass, Hermit crabs,

and maps on the wall that sat

in layers, reverberating noises,

voices, laughter. My head

submerged. Kitty cocktails,

little wisps of yellow light

beneath my eyelids and blood

made its way across the front of my


white dress. “That’s an awful habit,”

said Mother and she took me to the

bathroom to wrap toilet paper

around my naked fingertip.

“This is where we are now,”

she pointed with her fresh manicure

to the west edge of the water and

smoothed over top my anxious, snarled hair.

“Sometimes it helps to think of the beach”.


Silence strikes out among crashes

of lakeshores at night. Pockets of sand

where fish lay their eggs and

turtles come to bathe.

Dissociation, humidity, cherry cough syrup

and we lay bouncing by the boat.

He asks me if it was okay.

To his beckoning call, I float,

on the shore, through the night sky.

I say maybe. I mean no.

“Are you sure? It will be fine.”

He assures himself that it is okay.

My eyelids baptize themselves

one last time. Blood creeping

along through my white underwear.


In the bathroom I rest my head by the vent

on cold marble tile where the air

moved back on my anxious, snarled hair.

“That’s an awful habit,” I say,

wiping between my legs. And again, at my eyes.


Partial Family Portrait

Steve Nagy

On the left stands my Uncle Tibor, circa 1982.

Dressed like a Franciscan friar, he is proud of

the pleats he has sewn into his brown serge habit.


It pleases him to think that somewhere,

someone is beating a woman with a razor

strop. He hopes she is kneeling on all fours.

He hopes she is that squat Polish washerwoman

who left him one afternoon at the beach.

Soon he will swear he hears her footprints and,

in falsetto, he will begin to sing: “My love, My love/

O Song of Bright January Moon/Come Thunder/ Bring

me a summer poem/ Sing me a soft October tune.”

That will be the time to return him to the asylum.

Six years later at midnight, turning forty, Uncle Tibor

will hang himself in the zoo with the knotted cord he

wears around his waist. His note shall read: Reality

Demands the Sacrifice.

I am 20 years old and standing next to Uncle Tibor.

I am dressed like John Travolta in my cream colored

three-piece suit. It’s the summer of amphetamines and

archaeology and alcohol. I am an actor with a soul patch,

working at the gas station while prepping for my roles in

Look Homeward Angel, St. Joan and The Jew of Malta.


Myryam Roxana Freeman


Photograph, 8”x10”


It’s the summer I swim myself slim, the last time I will

ever weigh a mere 200.It’s the summer My True Love sends

me the “Amsterdam Letter,” with windmills, and Vermeer and

canals. My True Love will write about an unexpected meeting

at night that ends with morning coffee and fragrant hands and

a new love that, back then,” dared not speak its name.”

It is my first kind of loss that, one day, will become part

of a collection. My pillow will become a bag of onions.


Rick Larke

Kauri Tree

Photograph, 8”x10”


Saint Augustine Green

Courtney Hayes Armstrong

The moon lit the mist with its frosted rays

and turned it into fingers of cinnamon sugar

before it finally dissolved into snowy confetti

shot from cannons at carnivals onto streets of papier-mâché

but when it landed on my tongue, it wasn’t sweet, it was soapy

like the first time I tasted Mexican candy at the dulceria


I am the child hiding, perched on haunches

high up in the boughs of the Mesquite tree

scabbed knees raw and bleeding, and yet, I force myself

to be strong with bark, solid with trunk, opulent with green

while tiny crimson droplets splatter on the tattered leaves around me

scarlet polish that paints my bare toes and tickles my pink feet

One lone cry of blood fell down below to the candy-apple green

blades of Saint Augustine grass, the length of crayons, sharpness of steel

where that wet, red pearl landed and glistened softly

among the brindled twigs of camouflage for lizards’ tails

and I wished I was just small enough to hide there

or ride away on the backs of roly-polies, in a carefree caravan to absolutely nowhere

I see the sweaty panes of glass on my bedroom window

lollipop-checkered curtains pulled back with lilac ribbon

framed in delicate lace icing the color of pale sky

that is too frilly to do anything other than

merely muffle the screams and pain

and too many no’s


The calico cat climbed up its course of the tree

tip-toed across the wickerwork of my trembling pulpy limbs

his warm breath nuzzled and heated the cold crook of my arm

primal, fluffy comfort that promised me of another tomorrow

a day when we would play our games of hide-and-seek and have tea parties

where I was the princess, wearing a crown of love and secrets never, ever told


One Last Goodbye

Missy (Tamara) Fowler



Staring blankly into a void;

Voices calling, echoing around

but never penetrating the fog.

The mists swirling and twisting tendrils,

endless shades of grey.

Faces morph and distort

at the edges of my vision

familiar but somehow—wrong.

Grasping hands reach out for me

pulling this way

and that way

harder, faster until in an instant—

I am nothing

Shreds of thoughts

pieces of memories

drift and float to rest

on the ground

like winter’s first snow.


Tina Kennedy


Painting, Oil on Canvas, 11”x14”


Suddenly, a shift in the air

and with the new day

the sun rises

breaking the dark haze.

Tiny footprints left behind

in the remnants on the ground

lead into the distance.

Alone I stand, gazing.

The pair of tracks—

I recognize them.

It’s ok now...,

A whisper lingers on the wind.

...I’m free.



Frank Cortes




Poem of a Clueless Man

Graysen Norwood

There was a man who thought himself the greatest in all things.

He did not know that in the choir he croaks more than he sings.

When a festival of poets held a contest in his town,

He devised a plan to be the man—

A poet of great renown.

But alas his thoughts were about himself, how great his poems must be,

With not a thought ‘bout a poet’s muse nor words of poetry.

And many an obvious rhyming word this clueless man did miss

Declaring his poet’s greatness in a poem that goes like this:


I am the perfect poet, with perfect meter, perfect rhyme.

Compared to mine, the works of others, a literary...misdemeanor.

So, I will sit upon that chair,

That one over...across the room,

And weave a tapestry of words,

Like a weaver with his...equipment.

I am the perfect poet, with perfect meter, perfect rhyme.

Compared to mine, the works of others, a literary...misdemeanor.

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: the obvious & useful rhymes he did miss: a literary crime…that one over

there…a weaver with his loom)


Quantum Bet

Steve Nagy

A man goes to bed young and wakes up old.

He pees himself in his sleep.

He dreams of naked young women and wakes up crying.


He sees a church and wonders if he is allowed in.

He hears the murmuring of his ancestors.

He wants to chant in Latin and set them all straight.

He wants to go home with a young struggling family.

He wants to compete with the kids for love and candy.

He wants the parents to scold him and set him in a corner.

He walks to the park and sees men playing chess.

He wants to be rook and directly attack the king.

He wants to be a swan in the pond and dive for a big fish.

He knows his cat will die.

He’s looking for a box in which to put the cat.

If the man opens the box right,

he and his cat will always be alive.



Sandy Delligatti

Smokey I

Photograph 21”x11”



Mackenzie Harrison


Drawing, 8.5”x11”



Steve Nagy

When I read your note

the other day, I heard

again, our two voices

twined together as

fragile as the memories

that crash against us

more roughly now

that we’re older.

You sound every bit the

woman I remember:

we used to dig into

each other

by the handful

by the mouthful

in cold water flats

on rooftops and fire escapes


Nights at Saint James Street Tavern

we used to meld into the

the woodwork together

while Smiling Walt Harper

massaged his piano

to a song by Mr. Sonny Lane Slim

Forgetting for now

why we and our busy lives

Left each other.



Emily Gill

I didn’t fall in love, I sat next to it

on a couch that badly needed cleaning.


We met at a party. Not a ball or soirée,

just some grungy basement

with plastic cups and loud music.

When we kissed

our teeth clanked together.

Nicholas Sparks didn’t write our love story. It wouldn’t

make suburban mothers cry into their popcorn

or spur envy in the hearts of adolescent girls.

You’re not fantasy, not even close.

You forgot my birthday once, in the morning

your breath smells, and your mother

hates me. The gold ring you gave me

never fit right. I keep it in the bedside table

that once belonged to your dead uncle, next to the bed

where we make love, where I vomited last year

after you gave me the stomach flu.


Charles Sublette






Misha Tentser

In the shadows of the Adirondack peaks,

dew drips from the foliage

as we bushwhack up an unmarked trail

in jeans and ratty tennis shoes.

Sam’s dad, a large flannel-clad man with a bushy beard,

guides my best friend Sam and I up a steep cliff

named none other than Skythrone—

a receded seat in the rockface overlooking

the Ausable river and the two-lane highway below.


Sam and I are too young for such an arduous hike,

a sheer rockface shooting up 300 feet,

but we pave on, with the awkward confidence

of two 13-year-old boys on an adventure.

We round the top and take in the view;

we’ve hiked other paths before,

but have we ever stopped to listen

to the way the breeze makes

the trees sing in unison?

I look out at this expanse of unapologetic green

and try my best to emblazon it into my memory,

like a mental postcard

saved for eternity,

accessed during the tough times ahead.

Sam and I sit together,

munching PB&Js’ in silence

exhausted and speechless

two kings

on a throne in the sky.



Jack Davidson

Man is God’s Religion

Etching, Aquatint, 9 1/4”x9 1/4”


Charles Sublette




Sweet, Sweet Saguaro

Courtney Hayes Armstrong

The saguaro donned its top blossom like a tea hat

tipped slightly to the right in a polite, lady-like nod

all that was missing was a lacquered visor

to defend against the amber pencils of light

that fired down from the guns of the torrid sun

She wished her bonnet had a veil of black lace

a comedic screen for drunken mosquitos

to bounce and flop into before returning to the cusps

of the dust devils that blistered and whispered

yellow snow of palo verde blossoms across her face


Her arms were crooked in defiance

one bent down upon hips that were void

skimming a belted waist where fat was denied

there was no time for gluttony in the desert

only the minimal allowed to survive

Inside her abdomen, an owl’s home

carved by a crew of selfish gilded flicker

a labor union of ruby mustaches and copper caps

who hammered and peeked with their beaks and bills

naturally devised chisels harder than steel


Hawks and wrens pried at her brittle spines for a meal

others dwelled, leases signed on the prickly dotted line

ravens sang lullabies while their mates feathered the nests

with twigs and sticks by the neon bulb of the moon

a sleepy opera that urged her noble ribs and bones to swoon

A crass smile formed on the saguaro as she curtsied

to her dwellers, her invaders, her lovers, and the wind

wiggled her topmost blossom, promising more than just nectar—


and one last hop


That Moment

A.Z. Chance Martinez



Eyes locked.

Hearts pounding,

sweat dripping,

lips parting.



Names screamed,

curses slurred—

passion thrived.


Parting onwards.

Love, is said,

cries were made—

hollow; dead.



speaking soft

fragile words

only break onwards.


Meeting; reminiscing—

kindling burning!

Passion hot;



Eyes meet

breathing one,

hearts racing—

forever there.



Gazes held—


fade to pitch.


“I’m sorry?”

Eyes away,

“Forgive me…”

“I… Goodbye.”


Joseph Roland Ewing


Drawing, Charcoal on Paper 7”x10”



Luis Angel Figureoa Medina

El Tianguis

Photograph, 8”x10”


Who Am I?

Missy (Tamara) Fowler

I am a mother.

I always have been.

The oldest of three, then the oldest of seven.

I’m supposed to

“Know better”

“Do what’s right”

“Look after the others”

A second mother for siblings, cousins, friends, lovers.

I am a martyr.

Punished for the wrongs of others,

yet the one everyone always turns to for help.


From my own children to the children of others,

I am

the teacher,

the nurturer,

the carer,

the giver,

the maker,

the earner,

the keeper,

the finder,

the hider,

the seeker,

the cooker,

the cleaner,

the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker…


I can do it all.

I am the wiper of tears and the bandager of booboos.

I am the taker of temperatures and the maker of all betters.

I am the manufacturer of goodies and treats, always ready to feed hungry bellies.

I am a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a partner, a friend.


I am a mother most of all.


The 21yr Childhood

Kat Johnson


I was created in the depths of a golden valley.

Made of the love and blood of freshly damp Earth and the

collective whispers of the divine.

The Great River yawned and I emerged,

barreling from its mouth.

Pure, amongst my sins and imperfections,

I grew learning the lessons of the white fire I rolled in my palms.

I don’t remember what it felt like to be young,

but I know what it feels like to be free and that is almost the same.

The magic of casualty is that I am reborn again and again,

like a phoenix bursting from the ash,

to re-live such wild and ageless youth.



Elliana Koput

Change for Breakfast, Growth for Dinner



The Executor’s Song

Steve Nagy

I know my sister thinks I did it

just because--she yes--she took care of them all—

let’s just say they--those jewels—that opal that cut diamond that Russian amethyst—

those jewels—they belonged to my Aunt Lydia.

My Aunt Lydia promised them to ME.

Same as those Easter eggs from the Ukraine

before my sister Melinda’s girls got to those sable hats & furs.


But I was named Executor & what my sister Melinda—

Poor Suffering Servant Florence Nightingale Melinda—

always working 3rd shift on her 2nd job with full union pension

& her 1st job too—where she goes & sleeps at the expense

of my taxes & everyone else’s taxes—

Any ways

I mean—yeah—Little Melinda Nightingale

& her government-kept-ass might have

taken care of those people—Mom, MeeMaw

& Aunt Lydia—

Any ways

what Old Government-kept-Fatass

doesn’t understand is that I’m The Executor.

& Uncle Spaghetti promised my boy Mark Francis

he could have Uncle Spaghetti’s Knights of Malta

medal & his Cross of Malta & Uncle Spaghetti’s

ceremonial sword from the Knights of St. George.


But my boy Mark Francis never got any of that stuff.

Same way with my Uncle Spaghetti’s Purple Heart Medal

nor his medal from the Battle for Hamburger Hill.

Not the raccoon coat. None of my Uncle Spaghetti’s fedoras.

No. Nothing. No, Melinda made sure that her boyfriend,

Pork Butt Pete & his Neanderthal sons from his 1st French whore

of a wife got everything.

& all those years my sister Melinda & Pork Butt Pete

& his boys ate off—how they ate from—how they

ruined Meemaw’s Waterford Crystal—Waterford Crystal

Great Grampa Morgan Morgan brought with him on the boat.

Or how my sister’s family lived at Grampa Morgan Morgan’s

house all those years--eating off of MeeMaw’s milk-fired

Von Steuben Pottery & breaking most of it, ruining everything—

wearing my Aunt Lydia’s mink & sable & fox furs—

taking what they wanted when they wanted.

Stuff like my daddy’s Army uniforms & his hunting knives

& rifles & Daddy’s railroad caps & cowboy hats &

Daddy’s Billy Eckstine shirts.


& how about my poor brother Jimmy’s Shakespeare brand

fishing rods & reels & how about those lures & flies my brother

Jimmy made himself? What about poor Jimmy’s stamp & coin collections?

No--my boy Mark Francis never got any of that stuff.

No--but what Pork Butt Pete & my fatass sister Melinda—

that poor suffering servant Melinda Nightingale—

Don’t understand is that

I took them—

that opal that cut diamond that Russian amethyst—

because they were mine.

I’m The Executor.



Yareli Sanches


i was born with wings, wings i have yet to know how to use

i see everyone flying, all i want to do is join them

i wonder when it will be my turn

i have yet to know how to use my wings

i wonder how i will learn

i wonder how with all this weight on my shoulders

i feel heavy, my heart’s pounding looking over the edge

Not knowing if i fall will i fly…will i fly

i am here standing tall with my knees shaking,

i see everyone flying

All i want to do is join them

i don’t want this moment to last, feeling so hopeless, too scared to jump too scared to fly

Not knowing if i fall will i fly…will i fly

Nothing’s behind me, so why do i hesitate

Everything’s in front of me, so why do i hesitate

My hearts pounding looking over the edge

Not knowing if i fall will i fly…will i fly

i am here standing tall

With my knees trembling i see everyone flying

As my wings open for the first time

i see my wings feeling free, with the desire of freedom

All i need to do is jump, to fly with everyone

As my wings open for the first time looking over the edge

I take my first leap to freedom…


Jennifer Prybylla


Drawing, Craft Paper, 60”x40”



When the Dog Bit You

Misha Tentser

Tell me again

how you felt alive

with the prick of a needle,

the kiss of a flame,

you sprinted the streets of Chicago

until you collapsed on the ground

wishing only for salvation

from what you called “it”


the way “it” infiltrated your life

bit by bit

and then all at once

as you sat in front of the mirror

blade in hand,

carving initials into your skin

tell me again how you laughed

when the dog bit you

or cried when mom took away the knives

tell me again how to hold you

as you press tighter and tighter

tell me again how to love you

with my whole being

tell me again how I fell for you

head over heels

tripping on my words

as you sat patiently

looking directly into my eyes

with the warmth of the sun

tell me again how we sat by Lake Michigan

eating hot dogs and drinking rum

your smile setting my world ablaze



Frank Cortes




A Shout of Silence

Cade Walsh



I am screaming as the reality of the

wretched world comes careening into

my very being.

Why can no one hear?

Why must I be alone while I shed a

single tear?

Lights shift off and on while the

preachers sing their songs and stuff.

Their reality into mouths wide open.

My mouth lies here open,


but no one is around.

Can I hear?

I blindly thrust my hands to my face and


I have no mouth.



Jack Davidson

American History Scroll

Etching, Double Register Print, 11 3/4”x17”


Jack Davidson

Bungalow After a Rain Storm

Etching, Aquatint, 7 3/4”x8 1/2”


A Question of Faith

Missy (Tamara) Fowler

Faith is what calls to one’s soul

A guide for hand and heart

The compass in the dark

Sometimes its given at birth

The faith of your parents passed down

Taught from when you are small


But for me, faith was a journey

And it doesn’t look like the faith of others

It’s embodied by nature—

It’s not prayers and psalms at all

But a daily honoring of the things that keep me going

The spirits of the elements that coalesce within

Earth gives me strength and grounding

Supportive and nurturing, where all things come from

A shelter, a home to return to each day


Air gives me wisdom and cleverness

A stiff breeze pushing me along to learn more and more

The wind in my sails

Fire gives me passion and ambition

Burning the ground beneath me so I cannot stagnate

The candle flame in my soul

Water gives me life and love

Washing over me soothingly and blending with tears

The fountain of emotion in my heart.

The universe takes my hand and leads me on this journey.


Meet Our Artists

Alexandra Roussard (She/Her) - Alexandra

Roussard was born and raised in Tucson,

Arizona. She hopes to one day be writing

and illustrating children’s books, animating,

and doing independent work on the side.

Amanda Valdes (She/Her) - I am 22 years

old, I am a first-year student here at Pima

working towards a career in Graphic Design.

Writing has become one of many outlets

of self-expression along with music and


Amy Nagy (She/Her) - Attends Pima

Community College.

Ana Mary Garza (She/Her) - Ana Mary

Garza was born and raised in Mexico, lived

in Canada, now settled in Tucson where

she began to establish herself as an artist.

As seen through the “Autism Collection”,

she materializes her personal family

experiences through her Art.

Angelique Matus (She/Her) - Sometimes it’s

hard writing and sharing my most private

experiences and feelings, but I’m thankful

that what was ugly to me, I was able to

paint it in a way that’s beautiful to read.

Anissa Suazo (She/Her) - Anissa Suazo

is a poet, art lover, and cat mom. She

is currently an English Major at Pima

Community College and aspires to be

a songwriter and producer amongst a

plethora of other dreams. Suazo’s poetry

and craft is experimental and explores the

deep emotions that are attached to fleeting

moments in everyday life.

A.Z. Chance Martinez (He/Him) - A.Z.

Martinez is a young writing tutor with

aspirations of professional writing.

Creatively oriented, with a drive for

creativity and telling stories.

Brianna Vega (She/Her) - After graduating

high school I joined the U.S. Navy as a

helicopter mechanic. My four-year contract

finished and I decided to continue my

education in the fine arts program.

Cade Walsh (He/Him) - Cade is a current

student at PCC studying anthropology.

Born and raised in Tucson, Cade draws on

his experience and recovery from addiction

to express his thoughts through poetry.

Cara Laird (She/Her) - Cara is a Tucson

native. She studied creative writing at PCC,

Sarah Lawrence College, and the UA. A long

time ago, she wrote some prize-winning

poetry. Now she is a homeschooling mom,

trying out this writing thing again.

Charles Sublette (He/Him) - Charles

Sublette seeks to find humanity’s hidden

truth through various mediums and forms.

For more works and to keep up with the

artist please go to www.instagram.com/



Christine Early (She/Her) - I am an Arizona

native and I love this state. I currently live

in Cochise and work in Willcox as a Medical

Biller. I’ve loved fiction writing for as long as

I can remember.

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith (He/Him) -

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith grew up in

Tucson, and after teaching at Tucson High

Magnet School for 28 years he should be

learning new skills like cooking but instead

he reads what he wants and tries to write

every day.

Christopher Valenzuela (He/Him, She/Her)

– Christopher is a nonbinary creative who

is becoming increasingly more interested

in hybridizing his poetry and stories with

visual mediums. His work mainly focuses

on his past struggles with addiction,

alcoholism, and discovering his queer-self.

Connie Nicholson (She/Her) - Connie

Nicholson’s medium is drawing and oil

painting. In her subject matter she focuses

on everyday people in their everyday

surroundings. An avid photographer as

well, she bases most of her paintings on her

photos, drawings and journals from her


Courtney Hayes Armstrong (She/Her) -

Courtney Hayes Armstrong was a finalist in

the 2020 Tucson Festival of Books Literary

Awards Competition, for poetry, and in

the 2016 competition, for fiction. The only

things that she loves more than writing are

her sons, Hayes and Blaze.

Destiny Brooks (She/Her) - I’ve been writing

since grade school. When my talent was

noticed, I was advised to keep writing and

that’s exactly what I did. My specialty is

fiction, but I occasionally dabble in poetry. I

hope one day to be published for the world

to see.

Elliana Koput (She/Her) - I am a

multifaceted creative that finds inspiration

in the mundane and the metaphysical. It is a

great pleasure to have had works chosen for

this project, and I hope that observers find

themselves inspired to express themselves


Emily Gill (She/Her) - Emily Gill was born

and raised in Massachusetts, although she

currently lives in Tucson with her husband

and their cat. In her free time, she enjoys

reading, cooking, and spending time in


Eva Kamenetski (She/They) - Eva

Kamenetski is a Russian-American visual

artist who explores gender identity and

sexuality, and finds inspiration in everyday

objects, minimalist desert landscapes,

and organic and geometric forms. She is

currently working on a multimedia project

encompassing photography, video, audio,

and storytelling.


Frank Cortes (He/Him) - Frank Cortes

graduated from the University of Arizona

with a B.A. in English Literature. He

practices photography, writes literary short

stories and poetry. He currently lives in

Tucson, but dreams to relocate to New York

City, a perfect amalgamation of insanity

and beauty.

George Key (He/Him) - Key draws from real

life experiences and interactions with the

subjects. Inspired by instruction to evolve

a piece through rewrite processes and the

affirmative support of his daughter, Mrs.

Stephen (Sarah) Garber, these works have

endured the arduous journey to publication.

Grace M Johnson (She/Her) - I am Grace

M Johnson, a student at Pima, and I have

been drawing for at least 13 years now. My

favorite things to draw consist mostly of

cats (fanciful and realistic), birds of prey

and robotic creatures I have made up called


Graysen Norwood (He/Him) - Born near

Chicago. I process the world around us in a

duality of standard and alternate realities.

One of the things I do is interpret old

nursery rhymes and such in an alternate

reality. I borrow from the old & make

something new... and I wonder... Do you ever

dream in color?

Heidi Saxton (She/Her) - Heidi is a Tucson

native and soon to be Pima Community

College graduate. She is pursuing a master’s

degree in Education and a minor in English

Literature. This was her first experience

with creative writing, and she has

discovered a new love.

Ian Washburn (He/Him) - I am a native

Tucsonan, and enjoy reading comics,

listening to music, and writing short stories.

I often think in images and try to capture

those vivid pictures in my writing to be able

to share it with others.

Izzy Orozco (She/Her) - Originally from

Santa Maria, California, Tucson has been

my home for 15 years now. My favorite

mediums are oil paint, charcoal, and ink. I

am thankful for my parents and instructors

at Pima who have been my biggest


Jack Davidson (He/Him) - Jack Davidson,

born in New York State, educated in the art

of printmaking, attended the University

of Arizona, State University New York

and Pima Community College, also holds

a degree in Landscape Architecture.

Anthroposophical concepts often inform his

printed images.

Jackie Cabrera (She/Her) - Attends Pima

Community College.

Jennifer Prybylla (Us/We) - I have been

creating for as long as I remember, as a way

to cope with the stresses all around. “Me” is


an inside look into my life and what makes

me who I am.

Jessi Moreno-Rosas (She/Her) - A Mexican

portrait artist who brings her pieces to life

with her warmth and soul.

Jhanire (Nettie) Gastelum (She/Her) -

Nettie Gastelum is an aspiring illustrator,

digital and print comic artist, and

YouTube artist. Her illustrative narratives,

spanning portrait and still life, explore the

relationship between life, death, love, and


Joseph de Leon Reilly (He/Him) - A Library

Sciences & Creative Writing student here

at Pima Community College. He hopes to

embrace his passion for literature in his

own projects and in his future studies.

Joseph Roland Ewing (He/Him) - With

over 7 years of drawing experience, Joseph

Roland Ewing is a junior fine arts student

developing his portfolio. He utilizes his

inventive style when transforming the

human figure into something weird and


Joshua Lindley (He/Him) - Joshua Lindley

is an inspiring writer. He enjoys writing

poetry and stories in his spare time.

Kat Johnson (She/Her) - A contemporary

poet whose work typically combines

surrealist dream tones with edgy themes.

Inspired by artists like James Tate and

Billy Collins, her work presents social

commentary in an unconventional,

refreshing way.

Kathryn Robertson (She/Her) - My name is

Kathryn Robertson. I have been an artist my

whole life, however, I only started painting

in 2012. I graduated in 2016 and took a break

from school for two years, and since 2018

I have been going to Pima Community

College where I have been learning many

different paintings and drawing techniques.

This education has been invaluable to me.

I enjoy learning all types of expressions

of art, whether it be sculptural or 2

dimensional because it allows me to use my

creative freedom.

Kelly Franck (She/Her) - Kelly Franck, was

born in Sedona, Arizona. During high school

she attended Verde Valley school, sparking

her love for art history and oil painting,

immersing her in the arts. Currently Kelly

lives and works in Tucson, Arizona. She is

attending Pima Community College earning

an Associates degree in Studio Art. Kelly

has been influenced by her teachers at PCC

pursuing a degree in teaching in higher

education. In 2019, Kelly was awarded the

honor of being chosen for Pima’s literary

magazine, SandScript, and two paintings

were included in this publication. In the Fall

of 2020, Kelly plans to attend the University

of Arizona, in Tucson to obtain a Bachelors

in Art History. Her goal is to eventually earn


a Master’s in Art History to teach on the

university level, or working in a museum

setting. You can follow her Instagram


Kimberly Laney (She/Her) - Attends Pima

Community College.

Lee Fike (He/Him) - Lee studied French in

Tunisia and marine biology at El Centro

Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos

y Océanos in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora.

He taught horseback riding in Colorado,

patrolled the Demilitarized Zone in Korea

(he says it’s actually pretty militarized,)

and was an underground miner in Pinal

County, Arizona. He walks barefoot in the

desert mountains, studies the moon and

the clouds, has autopsied a rattlesnake, and

once danced naked atop one of the seven

hills of Rome. This is his second appearance

in SandScript.

Luis Angel Figureoa Medina (He/Him) -

Attends Pima Community College.

Mackenzie Harrison (She/Her) - My goal for

this piece was to depict Organic Chemistry

in a whimsical manner. I wanted to combine

two things that normally wouldn’t make

sense together, like carbon rings and

animals. I chose the lyrebird because

their long-textured feathers contrast the

structured chemical forms of the organic


Maria Raygoza (She/Her) - I have written

poems my whole life, But I’ve been afraid

to share my art with the world. I’ve met

amazing people these last few years that

taught me not to be afraid. Now here is my

gift to you.

Mason Carr (He/Him) - Mason Carr is

a born-and-raised Tucsonan who loves

discovering new things about his beloved

hometown. He is currently pursuing an

education in Political Science. In his “ample

spare time,” Mason continues to develop his

writing, with the ultimate goal of publishing

and selling himself out to the amorphous

beast that is artistic capitalism. He was

honored to see his first published stories

accepted to SandScript last year and is

very pleased to be accepted again this year.

He looks forward to making writing his

successful side-hustle.

Matthew Becker-Stedman (He/Him) -

Matthew Becker-Stedman is a writer, animal

lover, and video game fanatic. He lives in

Tucson, Arizona with his boyfriend and

seven reptiles/invertebrates. He hopes to

increase LGBT+ representation in writing

and video game media through his stories.

Matthew Martella (He/Him) - I’m an old soul

who wants to share what I see and feel with

other beings. Poetry is a great way to do

that! Namaste. Om Mani Pedme Hung.


Maya Kendrick - Maya Kendrick is a

multi-media artist and photographer from

Arizona. Maya aspires to inspire the young

and the old, all whom search for the deeper

meanings in this life; whether it be literary,

with the paper bound words she puzzles

together, or through her other numerous

passions in the art fields. Maya works

primarily in oils, although she has ability in

watercolor, acrylic, sculpture, poetry and

photography. Her work could be portrayed

in multiple ways, however, her goal is to

fabricate her art in a way that reflects raw

emotion, and portrays nature’s deep desire

for humanity to step beyond old ways, and

discover new paths, towards a brighter

future, for us all.

Misha Tentser (He/Him) - Misha is a

Russian-American bartender born and

raised in Tucson. He finds inspiration in the

unique strangeness of his hometown, his

storied childhood, and the people he’s met

along the way.

Missy (Tamara) Fowler (She/Her) - Nontraditional

student Missy Fowler is a

sophomore at Pima, transferring in the Fall

2020 semester to the University of Arizona

to major in Creative Writing. She hopes to

put her tragic life story and traumas to use

helping other people through her writing.

This eternal optimist is the founder and

President of Pima’s Creative Writing Club,

Chair of Student Senate, and Secretary

of the Pima Student Advisory Board. She

stays busy while maintaining her position

as an honor’s student and Phi Theta Kappa


Myryam Roxana Freeman (She/Her) -

Myryam Roxana Freeman, mother of three

boys, skilled in visual and digital arts, plus

tattoo design and application. Born in Agua

Prieta Sonora, raised in Cananea Sonora,

and Central Oregon. Her art is inspired by

her family and friends.

Renee Terry (She/Her) - Renee Terry is a

novelist and author of short stories. She has

taken writing classes at Pima Community

College for personal development. Renee

supports the arts in Tucson and is grateful

to the college for providing venues for

students to display their talents.

Reno Roethle (He/Him) - Reno Roethle lives

in Tucson, Arizona with his wife Katyusha.

He is a Science Fiction lover and a big fan

of cats. He plans on attending the UofA

in spring 2020 to work on his bachelors in


Rhea Stanley (She/Her) - I started art classes

one year ago and continue to be inspired

by where I could be one year from today.

There’re so many layers of art I am dying

to get into, this is just the beginning for

me. Simply putting life into whatever I’m

working on has ignited a passion in me.


Rick Larke (He/Him) - Attends Pima

Community College.

Rick Spriggs (He/Him) - Rick Spriggs has

been doing art most of his life. He is now

focusing on ceramics and digital painting.

Sandy Delligatti (She/Her) - A recent Pima

graduate, Sandy works at her home studio

with various media - photography, painting,

ink drawing, stained glass, mobile sculpture

and ceramics relearning Southwestern

ancestral techniques.

Sergio Peraza-Jimenez (He/Him) - Sergio

Peraza-Jimenez is a 20-year-old student

at Pima Community College; his work is

primarily focused on creating a striking

visual image derived from life.

Sivanes (She/Her) - I am a Tucson-based

retired pediatrician, avid gardener and new

artist. Started to paint with watercolors in

2018 and progressed to oil which is now my

preferred medium. My flower paintings are

oil on canvas using alla prima technique and

are inspired by the serenity and the beauty

of botanical gardens.

Steve Nagy - Steve Nagy is a retired teacher

living in Tucson, Arizona.

Taylor Tang (She/Her) - Taylor Tang was

born in Tucson, Arizona in 1995. Her art

portrays a unique perspective, leaving the

viewer questioning what is truly before

them. She elicits complex emotions in

viewers and creates works of complete

devastation, hope, or perhaps both.

Tina Kennedy (She/Her) - Tina Kennedy

was raised in California’s Gold Country. She

has lived in both isolated, awe-inspiring

landscapes and urban environments. Our

relationship with landscapes and with each

other is a theme in much of her work.

Tom Webster (He/Him) - I am a retired

anesthesiologist and now volunteer in the

Digital lab at PCC and take photography


Ulises Ramos I as a young artist from

Mexican descent, I don’t only represent my

cultura background but also a long tradition

of printmaking. That is my goal in life, to

preserve and develop such a traditional

method important for me and the art world.

Vanessa Ibarra (She/Her) - Chicano artist,

Vanessa Ibarra uses clay, oil paints and

various other mediums to express themes

of nature, female empowerment and dark

humor in her work. Born and raised in Los

Angeles, she relocated to Tucson and began

studying and creating art in 2017.

Vincent A. Jones (They/Them) - A watcher

of the stars bent on conveying the Absolute

to the eyes that seek it.

Wendy Wiener (She/Her) - Wendy last

attended Pima College thirty years ago,

majoring in Construction Technology


and helping to build two houses with the

Build-A-Home program. Currently she is

majoring in English, working on balancing

her academic writing and editing experience

with more creative pursuits.

Yareli Sanchez (She/Her) - As a young

immigrant woman, Yareli Sanchez (23) has

always tried to overcome challenges with

the constant burden of anxiety. Yareli

continues to attend Pima Community

College and is taking a big step in achieving

her future goals.

Zack Ellingson - I strive to be as wild and

creative as possible. Seeing everything come

together once colored is just so satisfying.

Personally, I use everything I create as

building blocks in progression. My goal is to

take something from everyone’s advice!


Meet Our Team


Assistant Editor

Christopher Valenzuela is a nonbinary

writer and creator who plans on

transferring to the University of Arizona

where he will double major in Anthropology

and Creative Writing. He hopes to use his

writing to create space for queer identities

to live and breathe in the Literary World.

Through his ever-evolving understanding

of culture, both past and present, he hopes

to dismantle traditional views on the queerself

and the perception of queer people as a


Anissa Suazo is a poet, art lover, and cat

mom. She is currently an English major at

Pima Community College and aspires to

be a songwriter and producer amongst a

plethora of other dreams. Suazo’s poetry

and craft are experimental and explore the

deep emotions that are attached to fleeting

moments in everyday life.


Managing Editor

Social Media Manager and Poetry Editor

Robert Bendele is a sophomore in his final

semester at Pima hoping to transfer to

an undecided-upon university in order

to obtain a degree in English. He enjoys

reading and is passionate about music

(especially classical). Being a firm believer in

the value of constant self-improvement, he

plans to one day master the guitar, as well

as publish at least one novel.

Robert Quintana is an English major at

Pima Community College who will be

transferring to the University of Arizona

in the fall of 2020. He plans to double major

in Journalism and Environmental Science.

During high school, Robert was part of his

high school’s yearbook class. He was in

charge of getting interviews and stories due

to his outgoing personality and his status

as the Varsity Cheer Captain, because of

that title, he was well acquainted with the

student body and helped promote sales of

the yearbook at school events.


Prose Editor and Industry Outreach


Callene Ross is a sophomore who plans on

transferring to the University of Arizona

for a double major in English and Creative

Writing. She was a “Speak Out” Creative

Writing Scholarship 2 nd place recipient

for her short story, “Once is Enough,” a

recipient of the All-Arizona Academic Team

Scholarship, and has two flash fiction works

published through Sweek.

Prose Editor

Laura Barlow is a lover of the arts.

Although an accounting major at Pima

Community College, her passion since

young has been writing, poetry, and

drawing. Originally from Massachusetts,

she loves the desert landscape of Tucson

and plans to transfer to Arizona State

University. This is her first time working

with an editorial group for literature.


Prose Editor

Poetry Editor

Manuel Alvarez is currently an English

major at Pima Community College. He plans

to transfer to the University of Arizona.

Some of his hobbies include writing,

listening to music, and reading.

Wendy Weiner last attended Pima College

thirty years ago, majoring in Construction

Technology and helping build two houses

with the Build-A-Home program. Currently,

she is majoring in English, working on

balancing her academic writing and editing

experience with more creative pursuits.


Poetry Editor

Poetry Editor

Non-traditional student Missy Fowler is a

sophomore at Pima, transferring in the Fall

2020 semester to the University of Arizona

to major in Creative Writing. She hopes

to put her tragic life story and traumas

to use to help other people. This eternal

optimist is the founder and President of

Pima’s Creative Writing Club, Chair of

Student Senate, and Secretary of the Pima

Student Advisory Board. She stays busy

while maintaining her position as an honor

student and Phi Theta Kappa member.

Joseph D. Reilly is a sophomore of Pima

hoping to transfer to the University of

Arizona in 2021 with a focus on Creative

Writing, Linguistics and Library Sciences.

He hopes to pursue his passion for writing

and seeks to improve himself through

editorial work as part of our SandScript

staff. As a well-meaning if harsh critic,

Joseph serves as our resident Simon Cowell.


Visual Art and Prose Editor

Visual Art and Poetry Editor

Lee Fike, a veteran of the United States

Army, studies creative writing and

literature at Pima College. He holds a BA

from New York University and a DVM

(Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) from

Colorado State University.

Noël Borane is an English major at Pima,

hoping to transfer to the University of

Arizona to earn a double major in English

and World Literature. She hopes to have

a career in publishing or as a teacher like

many of her family members. Some hobbies

of hers are dancing, cooking, painting,

listening to music and reading of course!


Graphic Design Editor

Faculty Advisor

Cynthia Drumond is a business

administrator, entrepreneur, and currently

pursuing a new career as a graphic designer.

She is passionate about how brand identity

can enhance the customer’s experiences and

build a bridge between a company and an

audience. Through emotional engagement,

she provides strong visual concepts in

various media. When she isn’t working, you

will find her gardening, cooking some family

recipe, or listening to a good Bossa Nova


Frankie Rollins enjoys the privilege of

teaching honors and creative writing to the

intelligent, artistic, and progressive students

at Pima Community College, both at West

Campus and online. Rollins has published

a collection of short fiction, The Sin Eater

& Other Stories (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2013),

as well as two novellas, Doctor Porchiat’s

Dream (Running Wild Novella Anthology 3,

2019), and The Grief Manuscript (Finishing

Line Press, 2020).



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