Oil on Canvas
SandScript is the art and literature magazine of Pima Community College, Tucson, AZ,
and 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. Students interested in participating on the editorial staff
of SandScript take Literature Magazine Workshop (WRT 162) in the spring semester
and apply for the various roles on the staff. This course is limited to twelve
students and a student design editor is hired for the design work. These student
editors, all of whom have interests in writing or art, learn through engaging in the
editorial process with their peers.
SandScript 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 contest has been on hold during pandemic years.)
SandScript Art and Literature Magazine 2022 reflects the changing times by offering
a historic release of the magazine in both print and digital forms. Despite the
challenges of enticing submissions from a scattered and disrupted student body
(not to mention the startling cost of paper), this year’s talented, thoughtful, and
inventive staff worked diligently to select and coalesce work that would stand as
testimony to the enduring brightness of creativity in the face of profound difficulty.
Please follow us on:
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@ Pima SandScript
“Technicolor Dreamskull” is the product of over a decade of
experience and experiments with light, color, and oil paint.
Pima Community College’s Michael Nolan has helped me
harness and refine my technique, leading to the explosion of
colors that speaks of a second chance at life and beauty, even after
the subject’s time in the sun has passed. It seems fitting to me
because Pima also represents a new direction in my life, and the
chance to reinvent myself in a way that I hope helps me bring
new light into the world.
See SandScript on the Yumpu Platform for digital versions of 2020, 2021, and 2022.
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.)
, year three of the Coronavirus pandemic. After having lost so much
2022 we are finally starting to shift to some semblance of normalcy. It’s
incredible to think of all the ways our lives have had to adapt: social isolation,
face masks, career changes, financial instability. For some not much changed
besides dealing with the mandates, and for others it altered their entire lives.
Even SandScript faced a tragedy last year; we lost a beautiful young soul, Ocean
Washington, one of our former poetry editors, who was only 21 years old, a
dedicated student of the world, a doting father and a fierce friend. It was my
pleasure to work with him on the 2021 edition and to be able to call him my
friend. We mourn his passing, but he will forever be a part of SandScript’s history.
I have been honored to be the Editor-in-Chief of SandScript for the past two
years and to work with so many talented people. This has been the best part of
the pandemic for me. This year's staff was small but we were determined to create
something beautiful and powerful to show that art can stem from anywhere. It can be derived from any emotion,
grief, love, hopelessness, or faith, and these incredible artists and authors have entrusted us with their work, a part of
their soul, in hopes to convey those emotions in the best way they know how.
Editor-In-Chief & Managing Editor
This year’s edition is full of raw, powerful and expressive art. We received more written works this year than before.
It’s fascinating that while last year we saw a lot more stories about grief and surviving the process of a pandemic, this
year we see more hope for the future, self love, romantic partnerships and the importance of the bonds of friendship
and family. We can see the shift from the overwhelming emotions of the past two years to finally accepting and
adapting to what life can be. These talented artists and authors made me feel a myriad of ways while reviewing their
pieces. I cried as I read about someone helping a recovering addict, since I have personally experienced this with
my own brother. I have felt elated reading about someone who is passionate about their partner after leaving a toxic
relationship. I felt transported to a gorgeous bridge and other mountain views that were an escape from city life, and
so many other visions.
Assistant Editor & Prose Editor
Visual Arts Editor & Social Media Manager
Editorial Designer & Graphics Designer
Prose Editor & Unveiling Event Planner
Poetry Editor & Industry Outreach Coordinator
Carol Spitler Korhonen
I’m awestruck looking back at all that we have overcome, and it reminds me that we all persevere, to fight for the best lives
for ourselves, our children, and our loved ones. Human beings are flawed but we are indomitable in our determination to
rise in the midst of such uncertainty and grief. Life will never be the same after all that has transpired but we will endure
just as we always have and that gives me hope for the future my son is going to grow up in.
What we have accomplished this year is amazing and I am so proud to have worked with the editors, writers, and
artists of SandScript. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this magazine and I never would have known about it
if it had not been for my teacher, my mentor, Frankie Rollins. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of its history;
these years working with you and the staff will be amongst my fondest academic memories. I want everyone to take
a moment to appreciate what we have achieved and know that it is no easy feat to live life in these times but take
every win no matter how small it may seem and I encourage you all to make your own art, no matter what form it
takes because the world needs it.
Editor-in-Chief - Raiden Lopez
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Artist's Notes on the Cover
Saint - Isabel Orozco
Missed Turn - Reed Coffey
The World Will Thank Me - Matthew Ball
Mission Mannor Abandoned Swimming Pool - Isaac Frisby
Neen - Isaac Zierenberg
Peacock Passion - Rosemarie Dominguez
Extra Sauce - Ginger Green
Best Friend - Ashley Deniz-Thompson
We Fell in Dance - Brandon Robles
Bat - Portia Cooper
Study in Yellow - Rachel Franco
Study in Violet - Rachel Franco
Sim in Her Shop - Isaac Zierenberg
Study in Blue Violet - Rachel Franco
Gates Pass - Isaac Frisby
Woman in Pond - Evon Perez
Wildflower - Evon Perez
Crazy Jim - Mya Palacios
West Clear Creek - Reed Coffey
Astra - Max Miracolo
Hare - Portia Cooper
Cactopus - Natacha Vouilloz
Dusk - Max Miracolo
Izzy - Isabel Orozco
Invisible Man - Evon Perez
Parley's Canyon - Isaac Zierenberg
Handiwork of a Lazy Priest - Travis Cooper
Los Metalicos - Victor Valdivia
Arms of the Wind - Christian Anderson
Planetary Extinction Club - Travis Cooper
8-Ball Cannonball - Isaac Zierenberg
Haunted - Aiden Schwarz
Rough Ground - Carol Spitler Korhonen
Differences - Leah Lancaster
Porcelain - J Saldivar
Endless Journey - Elizabeth Lowe
What is COVID-19 Grandma? - Carol Spitler Korhonen
Shell Sign - Isaac Zierenberg
Twisted - Portia Cooper
Triple Shot - Ginger Green
Los Metalicos [Full Version] - Victor Valdivia
Fear & Your Eyes Tell - Elizabeth Badowski
What Nothing Feels Like - Victor Valdivia
Soloho - Lisa Periale Martin
Already Pre-empted by Their Echoes - Shane Veno
Lag Time - Shane Veno
Whisperings Wings of the Knowing - Rosemarie Dominguez
One Example of the Hazy History of the United States' Drug Policy - Collin Bryant
Pandemic's Collateral - Elizabeth Badowski
Atomic Winds Whisper in the Land of Enchantment - Rosemarie Dominguez
Alma Eterna en el Desierto - Natacha Vouilloz
Eternal Soul in the Desert - Natacha Vouilloz
Savory Devotion - Sharelle Johnson
Alianza Indigena - Angelique Matus
No Comment - Lisa Periale Martin
Out of Tune - Alex Bacani
To Be Forgotten by One's Own Mother - Lisa Periale Martin
Mother's Toolbox - Christeen Bates
Death Claptrap - Carol Spitler Korhonen
Generational Cycles - Alex Bacani
Los Cuatro Bailando Juntos - Fernanda Cueva
The Four Dancing Together - Fernanda Cueva
Gracias por Existir en Este Aqui y en Este Ahora - Fernanda Cueva
Thank You for Existing Right Here Right Now - Fernanda Cueva
Winter Doesn't Last Forever - Amaya Fimbres
The Ordinaries' Mindset - Eric S Cerda
Where Are You? - Rachel Baird
2 0 2 2
We would like to give a special thank you to
our wonderful judges for giving their time.
Prose: Mariah Young
Poetry: Gabriel Palacios
Visual Art: Anh-Thuy Nguyen
We would like to give special thanks and utmost gratitude to the following individuals:
1 st N atacha V ouilloz Alma Eterna en el Desierto
/ Eternal Soul in the Desert
3 rd E von P erez
A ngelique M atus
A lex B acani
T ravis C ooper
I saac Z ierenberg
A iden S chwarz
Handiwork of a Lazy Priest
1 st I saac Z ierenberg Neen
2 nd G inger G reen
Dr. Dolores Durán-Cerda
Provost and Executive Vice-Chancellor
President of Campuses and Executive Vice-Chancellor
Dean of Communications Division
Pima Community College Foundation
West Campus Department Head
Dina L. Doolen
Marketing & Communications
Director, Marketing & Communications
Communications at Downtown Campus
Human Resources Specialist
Josh Manis | Pima Post
Pima Community College Faculty and Staff
Pima Community College Board of Governors:
Maria D. Garcia
Dr. Meredith Hay
Luis L. Gonzalez
Lisa Periale Martin
we shared a birthday
the ides of March
60 years apart
Hopi healer used
his words, his weathered hands
directing a great energy
to move and balance
me as a teen
his trickster smile
still warming my heart
seasons upon sunbaked
Oil on Canvas
Oil on Canvas
Handiwork of a Lazy Priest
I watched my great-grandmother’s funeral on
a YouTube live stream from my living room. I wore
pajamas, and so did my dad. We did not travel to Texas
for the service because only people 65 and older could
get the COVID vaccine in Arizona. It was March 2021.
The funeral was short and impersonal. The
priest said Grandmamá was a mother, baptized, and old.
Seriously, that is all he said about her.
A lady wearing an enormous pink t-shirt and
jeans helped the priest with the Mass. During the
service, the lady sat to the right of the lectern. She kept
looking at her watch, and she was not subtle about it.
Dad said that the priest and his helper were
probably tired because they had to bury a lot of people
killed by COVID. Mom grumbled that she does her job
when she is tired.
After the funeral, my family posted a short video
about Grandmamá online. We had prepared it for the
service, but the priest did not play it. The video included
amazing stories about Grandmamá teaching a dog to talk,
growing a jungle in the desert, raising wild animals as pets,
and catching flies out of the air, like a ninja.
I never saw Grandmamá do any of these things.
She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease before I
was born. She lived in a nursing home two states away,
and I did not see her much. When I did, she never
remembered me. I mean literally never—not even once.
Mom stayed angry at the priest for a long time
after the funeral. “No one even said her name” became
my mom’s mantra of mourning. Each time she said this,
she followed it with “Patricia Esperanza Vasquez Urias.”
Sometimes she whispered my grandmother’s name, but
mostly she shouted it.
Before Grandmamá died, I knew her first name
was Pat and her last name was Urias. But I had never
heard her full name. I only know it now because the
priest did not say it. If he had, Mom would not have
howled it for days, and it would not be burned into my
Patricia Esperanza Vasquez Urias is a beautiful
name, and I am proud to know it, say it, and write it. But
this is not a sappy essay about how something bad was
actually a blessing. I most definitely do not feel blessed
by these events. And I wish that I could change how I
learned Grandmamá’s name.
I know that I would have discovered it before
I became a father. All babies in my family have at least
one name from a relative. Combing through the family
tree, I would have paused with delight on Patricia
Esperanza Vasquez Urias because it is such a big name
for such a tiny person. I think that my future self would
put Vasquez on the list of middle name contenders, and
Esperanza would have gone straight to the top of the list
of first names for a girl.
That is how it should have happened. Of course,
this scenario probably involves a 15- or 20-year wait.
But the delay would not have bothered me. There was
absolutely no hurry. After all, names were not important
between Grandmamá and me. I was always a stranger
to her. She could not remember my name—or even my
existence. But she loved me anyway.
During visits, Grandmamá asked who I was
with excited anticipation. After Mom explained,
Grandmamá cried and wrapped her small arms around
me. She held me close and called me “mijo,” which
means “my boy.”
A few minutes later, it would happen all over
again—same question, same hug, and same deep, palpable
love. After two or three iterations, Mom sent me to the
park with Dad, so that I did not wear out Grandmamá.
The last few times that I saw Grandmamá, she
did not ask who I was, and she did not know my mom
anymore. I missed our routine—the question, the hug,
and the love.
The World Will Thank Me
Already Pre-empted by Their Echoes
I astral traveled
to a room in the Children’s
Hospital of Philadelphia,
where my worldly self was
I astral traveled
to that room
that I might listen
to what was being talked
at that 14 year old boy.
I astral traveled
I guess I wasted my time
See I, same as seven years ago
got trapped in the play between
Malformation and valsalva
nervouse system and serve
syncope and parasympathathetic
Runescape and ruined
fucking shit and Janet
leave my class and bathysphere
Mission Manor Abandoned Swimming Pool
Cyanotype Process Print
I astral da-da-da
fear and fear
Excerpted from "Los Metalicos"
“Timid loser kid.”
Those were the words that Billy Mendoza had been
labeled by a bully, way back as an adolescent, and the words
had stuck with him even now, all these years later, as a college
freshman. At Rollins College, the little liberal arts school
in Orlando, Florida that he had decided to attend precisely
because it was small and he wanted to get more personalized
attention, he had hoped that he might finally have an easier
time finding people to talk to. Unfortunately, he had a hard
time making friends and an even harder time finding a place
to be outside of classes. When Billy graduated high school
in June of 1991, he had high hopes. Now, here it was late
September, and nothing had changed.
Loneliness was never far from Billy. He was an
only child, whose rather authoritarian father had frequently
stressed that Billy be modest, never stand out, and downplay
his Hispanic heritage whenever possible, like insisting Billy
never speak Spanish in public. Billy’s one solace was to blast
heavy metal music, the music he loved most of all. At least
when listening to the music, he could escape his loneliness
and find glimmers of courage to push forward. It was the
volume, the energy, the swagger that he loved. He found
it simultaneously exhilarating and soothing. Whenever he
could scrounge up some money, he would hit his favorite
record stores in the area. He would look longingly at the
other people there, wishing he had the courage to strike up
a conversation with someone. Unfortunately, he was too shy
and timid to do so, and often just left the store silently after
paying for his purchase.
Then, as he was walking through the student
union building one Tuesday morning, he saw a flyer on a
bulletin board. In big handwritten letters were the words
“Latino Metal Night” and in smaller letters underneath
an invitation:” Are you a Latino or Latina who likes heavy
metal? Do you want to listen to real heavy metal and hang
out with people who do as well? Come to the Pipe-Fitters
and Plumbers Local Hall Saturday night at 9:00 PM
until 2:00 AM and join DJ Big Dave as he spins some of
the most brain-melting metal you will ever hear!” At the
bottom, “$5 at the door! Beer available i/y 21 and older!”
All week long, he thought about what it would be
like. Finally, though, he somehow forced himself to take a
chance and made his way into the show on Saturday night.
The Pipe-Fitters and Plumbers Local Hall was a
fairly large meeting hall with an open empty space in the
front and a few small booths in the rear. At the very front,
setting up a microphone, was Big Dave, the DJ. A better
nickname could not have been chosen. At a hair short of
seven feet tall, he was stocky and muscular and built like a
linebacker. He had dark brown skin, jet-black hair as long as
his lower back, and several tattoos decorating his arms, not to
mention a metallic skull ring he wore on his right hand. They
all combined to confirm that Big Dave was clearly not a man
to trifle with.
Billy sized up the crowd. It was surprisingly full.
Apparently, there were far more Latino metal fans in the
Orlando area than he realized. Some dark-skinned, some
light-skinned, some clearly nursing the only halfway
decent clothes they had, others clad in impeccable concert
tees and neatly pressed jeans with expensive shoes. The
one thing that he noticed is that no one noticed or cared
about any of that. No one was better than anyone else. The
only currency that mattered was how much you loved this
music. In this room, that was pretty much everybody.
Near the front was a big fellow, dark-skinned and
chunky, with a pageboy haircut and an unfriendly look on
his face. In his washed-out Iron Maiden shirt, shredded
jeans, and dilapidated sneakers, he cut a mean figure.
Before Billy could even say anything, the big fellow
immediately ambled up to him and, almost yelling, greeted
Billy with a brutal backslap and by saying, “Hey, you’re new
here. What’s your name? I like your Metallica shirt.”
“Thanks,” Billy replied, a bit warily. “I’m Billy.”
“Cool. My name’s Tavo. I’ve been coming here
since the beginning, ‘cause it’s fuckin’ awesome. What
did you think of the Black Album?” he asked, referring to
Metallica’s just released self-titled fifth album.
“I thought it was OK. Some good songs on it.”
“Nah, it fuckin’ sucks. Sellout mainstream bullshit.
Fuck Metallica, they’re sellouts now. They used to be cool
though. Anyways…” and then he wandered off to say hello
to someone else.
“Whew,” Billy sighed, as Tavo walked away. At
least Tavo seemed OK with him. That should count for
something, Billy thought.
Then, the lights went down. Billy felt that instant
rush when the lights went down at concerts. It was 9:00
PM and Big Dave was ready to start.
“Hey, hermanos y hermanas, welcome to Latino
Metal Night! I’m Big Dave Gutierrez! Let’s rock! ‘Raining
Blood’ by Slayer!”
The brutal opening chords of “Raining Blood”
rang out over the speakers and the crowd went crazy. There
were spontaneous mosh pits, people slamming into each
other and others just standing in place headbanging. Tavo
was the craziest, running around screaming and diving into
the mosh pit with reckless abandon.
It was unlike anything Billy had ever seen. Here
was where he wanted to be. This was a group of people
who loved metal as much as he did and who only wanted
to be with other people who were just like him. The noise
was deafening. The party was rowdy and fun. He never
wanted it to end.
Most of all, Billy was in awe of Big Dave. Big
Dave picked songs that rocked the crowd. Dave mixed
them seamlessly, playing the mixing board like an
instrument. Whenever someone threatened to get too
unruly, Big Dave could say just the right words to defuse
the situation. It was clear that everybody there didn’t just
come for the music but because they respected him. Billy
had never seen anyone like him. He wished he could be
even half as cool and clever as Dave.
“Hey, Dave,” Billy said, hoping Dave wouldn’t hear
his stammering. “If I brought in a record, would you play it?”
“Depends,” Dave said.
Speaking quickly, Billy began explaining, the
words almost tripping over each other. “It’s just that I
found the import 12” single for Motorhead’s ‘Eat the Rich,’
which has two B-sides that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Dave thought for a moment. “Yeah, that’s cool.
Bring it next week. I’ll play it for you. You like Motorhead?
What’s your favorite album of theirs?”
But before Billy could answer, Dave said, “Oh,
hold on. This song’s almost over. Let me do this and I’ll
get back to you.” Billy then watched as Dave faded down
the turntable playing King Diamond’s “Burn” and faded up
the CD player playing Venom’s “Lady Bathory.” Then he
turned to Billy. “Anyways, what were you saying?”
After that, Big Dave was more and more friendly
to Billy. Billy would bring in records and Big Dave would
Study in Blue Violet
Magazine and Paper Collage
play them. They bonded over music. Then, gradually, Billy
and Big Dave just talked and not only about music. Big
Dave, as it turns out, was a senior at Rollins, graduating
in May with a business degree. His parents were divorced,
and while his mother lived in Orlando, his father had
moved to Sacramento and owned a successful landscaping
company. The divorce had been brutal, and it was then that
Dave, a teenager, became a metalhead. Billy, considering
his own turbulent past, could relate.
The school year progressed and Billy and Dave had
become close friends. But it wasn’t until one night in mid-
April that Billy realized just how close they had become.
As Dave rifled through his LP crate, he sighed.
“Just a few weeks more,” he said.
“Oh, that’s right,” Billy said. “You’re graduating. So
what’s next for you? You gonna keep doing this and look
for a job?”
“I already got a job,” said Dave. He stopped and
looked Billy square in the eyes. “I’m working for
my dad’s company.”
“But-,” Billy gestured helplessly.
“What about this?”
“What about it?” asked Dave. “It’s over, Billy. I’m
done. It was fun but I gotta move on.”
“But you can’t move on, man. We need this. A lot of
people need this.” I need this, Billy thought, but didn’t say.
Dave sighed again. He put his hands on Billy’s
shoulders. “That’s the thing, Billy. Why do you think I
was happy to meet you? I knew I would have to give this
up someday, but I had hoped that maybe I might meet
someone who could take over after I leave. Who was I
gonna pick, Tavo? I love the guy, but-no, God no.”
“Are-are you sure, Dave? I-I’m…it means a lot
that you think that, but really? Me?”
“Yes, you. Why not? I think you could do it, and I
know this better than anybody. But the one thing is that I
need to see you do this at least once, without me. You need
to prove you can do this by yourself.”
Billy swallowed hard. Latino Metal Night, by
himself? Was he ready for that?
And yet, even as he trembled with nerves, he also
felt something he had never felt before. It was a sure, steady
feeling that he had been handed an opportunity that he had
to seize. He actually felt that he had enough courage to try.
That surprised him more than anything. He had never felt
that before. Not with school, not with sports, and certainly
not with girls. But he did with this.
It was time, he thought. It was finally time.
“Yes,” he said, the words surprising him as they came
out of his mouth. “Yes, I want to try. Just tell me everything I
need to know and I will do one night by myself.”
Dave smiled. “Don’t worry, Billy. I’ll set you up.”
*Full version on page 73*
Van Dyke Process Print
Woman in Pond
It killed the silence. The unholy sound
reverberated in her head like the howling wind. The shouts
and cursing emanated from the house, breaking through
the calm of the windy day, and shattering the peace like
glass. Father’s temper was erupting again.
She gently rocked back and forth on the swing
set, the metal chains creaking and groaning in her ears. She
liked to pretend that the squeaking chains were all that she
could hear in the windswept backyard. Then maybe she
could pretend to be safe.
With unfocused eyes, she stared at the gently
swaying scene moving before her. The muddled brown and
grey of the yard’s surface painted a picture to compliment her
Arms of the Wind
miserable mood. Everything was dead. Even the rocks seemed
lifeless as they huddled like a burial mound in corner.
The wind whistled past her ears again, ruffling
her hair, and causing it to whip around her head. She
tried to block out the noise again but couldn’t escape the
raging tirade that continued in the house. She turned
her back on the sound and closed her eyes. She let her
tear-stained checks grow numb as she faced the biting
wind. It was cold and the girl had no coat to cling to.
She had nothing to cling to.
Still, the freezing wind was more welcoming
than the wrath of her father’s temper. Few experiences
had the sting of that unholy wrath. The weight of those
scars often threatened to overwhelm her. She gripped
the chain of the swing, her knuckles draining in color as
she tried to forget it, but nothing truly took the agony
away. The tighter she held, the more intensely the pain
of the memories flooded her mind.
As gloomy as it seemed, the backyard wasteland had once
been her only friend, and her only source of solace in a
tired and angry world. She had spent endless afternoons
playing there, always trying to imagine a better world
without the fear. In those days she had let her thoughts
wander like ants over their hills, weaving their way through
make-believe worlds she would escape into. She had
imagined the windswept backyard as an exotic jungle that
rested in the silence of knotted grass and tangled weeds.
The rocks and dirt had been her companions and it had
been blissfully quiet.
But it was not quiet anymore. There was no longer
any solace in the silence of the lonely backyard, and it had
been some time since she had been able to escape there.
He was distracted now, but eventually he would come for
her no matter where she was, tracking her down to unleash
his rage. If there was a place she could escape to, she would
have already gone there long ago.
These thoughts swept over her like waves,
breaking upon her consciousness again and again in
unrelentless force. Another gust of wind buffeted the
swing, and the errant flurry caused the chains to rock back
and forth more quickly. Her hair flapped like a waving
flag in the wind and wild strands streamed across her eyes
to brush against her cheeks. The hair twisted around the
chains of the swing and floated on the turbulent breeze
like silk scarves drifting through the sky. She thought there
was something beautiful about the free-flowing strands
and their chaotic rolling patterns.
She wished the wind would continue to blow
through her hair, a comforting distraction to wipe away
her sorrow. As if in answer, another gust of wind knocked
a stone loose from the dead pile of rocks, sending it
clattering to the ground with a heavy sound. The falling
stone caught her attention and she stared intently at the
gnarled shape. The sight of something so heavy being
scattered to the ground intrigued her, and she wondered
what it would be like if the wind was strong enough to lift
her from her perch. What if she was light enough to be
carried on the breeze like her free-flowing hair?
But there was no time for imagining. The shouts
were growing unbearably loud, and she had to prepare
herself for what was coming. She could feel his anger
through the echoes of his ragged voice, and it made her
tremble violently. In the face of that terror, she allowed
herself one more hopeful thought. She closed her eyes
again and imagined herself being taken up on the breeze.
It was a beautiful thought, and she could almost feel the
arms of the wind wrapping around her to embrace her
in its strength. She wished she could stay there in that
thought but it was not to be.
The back door of the house burst open, and it
cracked against the wall of the house like thunder, causing
her to leap in fright. But instead of coming back down,
she somehow stayed suspended in the air. A rushing sound
filled her ears, and she began to drift to the side. She
moved through the air as if being pulled by an invisible
string and her eyes stayed shut for a moment in the shock.
When she finally opened her eyes, they were greeted with
the sight of the chains on the swing shrinking below her
feet as she was carried on the whistling wind into the sky.
Her father screamed and bellowed at her, but he
could not touch her. He could only grasp at empty air
and scramble across the ground in confusion. Like her
silent dreams, the howling of the wind finally began to
drown out the sound of her father’s rage. She no longer
needed a place to hide from him because he couldn’t
touch her anymore.
She laughed through tears of joy as she felt the
gentle breeze rise under her. It carried her aloft like she
was a kite, the weightlessness lifting her into the sky and
her hair streamed out behind her to glisten in the sun.
With arms outstretched she embraced the wind like a
long-lost friend. She was flying like a bird over the sea!
The wind was at her command and the joy of the flight
reverberated through the depths of her soul. She was never
going back. She was finally free.
It was cold on the porch so late
as Elizabeth and I sat opposite each other,
trying to strongarm a few more hours out of night.
The moon and the snow doing something
to her eyes that brought me close enough to see,
that whatever it was she was trying to transmit
to me, to be kept safe in the cataracted eye
embedded between my clavicles,
had, in the cold filling the space dividing us
that I couldn't at first feel its remnants’ warmth
gently pulsating beneath my coat,
as we stumble-sprinted across that underpass in Manchester
to the Nouveau Brewery
where we sat on casks trying to listen to the band,
but that cataracted eye
was focused too solidly on her signal.
She avoided my eyes
as she ordered and drank
two glasses of white wine
in quick succession,
her transmission now returning to me
all sorrow and shame.
So we went out to the alley adjacent and
huddled together against a fence.
I passed her a hastily rolled cigarette
and when I received it back,
that eye inhaled the entirety of her aether and swelled
until it could repeat back:
What if there were a hidden pleasure
in calling one thing
by another’s name?
Black Ink Drawing
Planetary Extinction Club
West Clear Creek
Oil on Canvas
Gograhm checked his Hyperscale and found a note from Fremsie. He hummed with excitement. Did she remember
their two-week anniversary? Gograhm had purchased a glotspot for her this morning. He read Fremsie’s message:
Hi, Sweetie Squiddoodle,
Can you believe that we have been dating for two whole weeks? I got us tickets for Jyuratodus in the
Recess. But my dad is still very mad about your bad grades.
Gograhm wagged his tail for several seconds. But he stopped abruptly when he noticed an unwelcomed message from
his school. There was an announcement that all students must complete at least one extracurricular activity this term.
His past experiences with school clubs were terrible. Last year, Gograhm’s parents signed him up for the Primitive
Combat Club. And his fifth appendage was severed on the first day. Gograhm was stuck in a hospital bed while his
friends took a group vacation to Sincos and met the Deteri “Strong” Lemdon. He briefly considered dropping out
of school to avoid being maimed again, but he rejected this idea because of Fremsie. Her father, Mallock was the
principal of his school, and ending his enrollment would mean the conclusion of his courtship. Gograhm scanned the
extracurricular catalog. To his surprise, some of the clubs did not look too bad. In fact, he thought a few could be fun.
Three caught his eye:
Learn to make bank! Students will enslave a Class 1 or 2 species and force them to harvest materials
deemed useful by the Cool Valnuges. Passing grades will be awarded to students who bring in 1,000
mega-volumes of material.
Explore divinity and improve the lives of lesser beings. Students will introduce primitive technology to
a developing world. Technology options are limited to infinite energy sources and innovations derived
from brachydios slime. Passing grades will be awarded to students who complete the task without
accidental species termination.
Planetary Extinction Club
Get your destructive juices flowing! Students will destroy a planet in the Development Belt. Bounties
earned will be credited to the school to cover club expenses. Passing grades will be awarded to students
who extinguish the ecosphere of their assigned planet. Extra credit of 700 gungdum points will be given
for completing the task in 30 minutes.
Personally, Gograhm thought that Young Entrepreneurs sounded like the most fun. One of his favorite video
games, Galactic Triumph was basically a simulation of the club’s mission. However, Gograhm hoped to impress Mallock,
so he needed the extra credit offered by the Planetary Extinction Club.
Destroying a planet in under 30 minutes would be challenging. But Gograhm signed up and spent the
afternoon daydreaming about how Mallock would be so pleased with his grades that he would agree to a betrothal. At
last, he and Fremsie could start a family of their own.
But the next morning, Gograhm received a terrible message:
Gograhm, you are a bad boyfriend! You promised to bring your grades up. Liar! You failed the Låptese
exam. My dad is super upset. He says that you only excel at mayhem and disaster. I am forbidden from
having any contact with you until your grades improve.
Goodbye (probably forever),
p.s. I am going to see Jyuratodus in the Recess with my mom.
Gograhm felt like rancid doozle droppings. He had fallen into a quezie rift on his way to school and missed the
exam. He had hoped that his exam grade would be dropped, and Mallock would never hear about it.
He would make it up to Fremsie. All he had to do was master the art of planetary destruction, earn the extra
credit, and repair his GPA.
On the first day of the Planetary Extinction Club, Gograhm entered the meeting room and was horrified to see
Principal Mallock at the lectern. Gograhm took a seat in the back and slunk down. He noticed that most of the students
in the club were also dating Mallock’s children.
At the ring of the bell, Mallock growled, “Attention! Professor Smelg has resigned. And I am running this club now.”
Gograhm was not surprised. Mallock was a tyrannical boss. And teachers did not last long at his school.
Mallock rambled on for a while about the importance of pruning the universe from time to time. Then, he
showed a video about careers in planetary demolition and recycling.
“Here are your assigned planets,” Mallock grimaced and passed out a stack of tablets.
“Now for those of you here for the extra credit—which appears to be everyone, there is no chance that any of
you will level these planets in 30 minutes. You and your bad grades better stay away from my children.”
Gograhm was undeterred. His love for Fremsie was worlds stronger than Mallock’s hostility. The planet assigned
to Gograhm was populated with a diverse set of animal and plant species. Unfortunately, the atmosphere was too thick
India Ink, Fineliner Pen, and White Pen on Bristol
Silver Gelatin Prints
for shimmy incendiaries. The dominant lifeform possessed a primitive military infrastructure. He was considering
warfare scenarios, when the perfect plan came to him. Gograhm knew what to do.
As soon as Mallock dismissed the club, Gograhm raced to the school’s docking bay. He signed out a V389
intergalactic tug ship with a titan-force tow cable.
Gograhm uploaded his own algorithm and engaged the looping drive. He arrived at his designated planet two
seconds before he left. He took a deep breath and initiated the ship’s activity log.
“Thirty minutes, no problem,” Gograhm whispered to himself as he piloted the ship into orbit around the
planet’s only moon. He shot the tow cable several miles into the rocky surface. Then, he sped toward the planet dragging
the moon behind his ship. The moment he reached 20,000 miles from the planet, he disengaged the cable and activated
the looping drive to clear the blast zone. The moon smashed into the planet like a cosmic wrecking ball, instantly
reducing both bodies to rubble.
“Goodbye Earth!” Gograhm cheered and wagged his tail intensely.
He checked the timer on the activity log—29 minutes and 16 seconds. He had finished with time to spare.
“Mallock is right about me. I do excel at mayhem and disaster.”
Suddenly, Gograhm’s future was as bright as the rings of Rebela. There were thousands of condemned planets
in the Development Belt with substantial bounties. In a single afternoon, he had repaired his GPA and stumbled upon a
lucrative career. Gograhm leaned back in the command chair and began to plan his life as a married man.
Charcoal and Color Pencil
Alma Eterna en el Desierto
Agobiado por el calor infernal del Desierto del Sonora, paraste.
A la sombra bendida de un mezquite, un momentito te acostaste.
Ahora, en tu mirada fija, por última vez reluzcan, en la oscuridad nocturna, las prometadoras estrellas
de tu peregrinación al Norte.
A un pasado evanescente pertenecen el Camino de Diablo, la Bestia – el infamoso tren de los
Desconocidos – y los Coyotes que, sin vergüenza ninguna, te desporajon.
En esta noche fuliginosa, los Saguaros, últimos compañeros de tu infortuna, te velaron, impasibles,
hasta que de tus labios resecos se esfumaron los pajaritos de tus sueños.
Eternal Soul in the Desert
Overwhelmed by the Desert’s infernal heat, you stopped and rested. In the blessed shade of
a mesquite tree, for a brief instant, you lay down.
In the dark skies of your gaze, now sparkle one more time the promising stars of your
pilgrimage to the North.
To the evanescence of the past belong the Devil’s Highway, the Beast – the infamous train of
the Unknowns – and the Coyotes who, unashamed, robbed all your belongings.
In that sooty night, the Saguaros, ultimate companions of your misfortune, were watching
over you, impassive, until the birds of your dreams vanished from your parched lips.
… And like that
My heart was extracted,
braised to perfection,
and served to the divine.
to have a heart so deliciously prepared.
I wouldn’t appreciate it…
For my lips never tasted a single bit of the same savory devotion.
I am more than the fry bread with
drizzled honey and powdered sugar,
and the comal that is used to cook tortillas on
that stains our hair with the smell of firewood.
I more than the dark skin that
I am not pigmented enough for.
I am more than the long silk black hair,
as you can see my hair dances in spirals.
I am more than the money they think we have
which we lack.
Can you not tell?
By our broken reservations
where the dogs roam,
where the dirt glitters by the
reflections of broken beer bottles.
The only rich good is the tribal casino, which
only makes us servants to the privileged. I am
more than what movies portray.
I am more than the whispers
that once echoed throughout school that
“We're dirty and have lice.”
I am not an historic artifact, or painting. I am
more than the disbelief that we still exist yes,
I am Native American.
Charcoal on Paper
Lisa Periale Martin
in this dream
a vast stretch
make my way along
an arroyo, and scramble
up a little rise—scrubby
with creosote and ocotillo
among other rocks
crystals, fetish offerings
a roughly wrought grave
the stone reads
Edward Paul Abbey
1927 - 1989
a measure of lucidity
aware now I’m dreaming
scrutinize my surroundings
from my heavy canvas pack
unearth a half full
pint of Wild Turkey
rich skin prickling aroma
heats all the way down
several sips later
pour the rest for him
in homage, coyote howl
from dreamscape shadows
turkey vultures arrive
riding thermals in eternal unrest
It always starts the same. Staring out the front window of my family home and feeling a little nauseated with life.
Looking out into the snow-covered yard, decorated with children’s bikes and left-hand mittens, I estimate the time it will
take me to get to Salt Lake and back. I fancy myself an amateur meteorologist and calculate the weather, deciding if it is
safe to go through the mountains or if I should take the long way around, and wonder if anyone will notice I’m gone. This
ritual takes place once a week, whenever I run out of powders and pills. I don’t have much of a choice in the matter. I have
already stopped by the ATM to carve out a slice of my savings.
I begin the first section of the journey from Heber, through Park City, to Kimbell Junction. I am sure it is
a beautiful drive for tourists, snowy peaks and wildlife, but for me it has lost all appeal. I can usually quiet the little
reservations I have about the journey through this stretch of the drive. Apart from little heart attacks when I pass
highway patrolmen parked in the median, I can mitigate the tightness in my chest. I pass Jordanelle, a man-made
reservoir that is now the resting place of the old highway and a small town. The ice-fishermen look cold next to their
little tents and sleds. I ignore the reservoir’s snide comment on where I am going, and on what I am about to do.
Jordanelle never dissuades me from driving on with fervor for an alcoholic death. At least I’m not an ice-fisherman.
I drive past the hospital in Park City, which looks more like a ski lodge than a place to have knee surgery.
My mother works as a labor and delivery nurse there, the first hired when the medical center was built. When I was
younger, my siblings and I spent every Sunday afternoon in the cafeteria there, which had surprisingly good food,
waiting for mom to get a break so she could eat with us. As I drive past, I hope that she isn’t looking out the window
from the nurse’s station on the third floor.
After Kimball Junction, at the north end of Park City, the highway takes a sharp turn into the sky over Parley’s
summit. The pass is crowned with a small suburb, build into the side of the mountain called Summit Park. I don’t know if
the homes are occupied year-round, few homes in Park City are. The light of the Shell sign at the gas station illuminates
the highway at night, casting a strange red glow across the road as if to say “STOP.”
From the pass, the highway drops straight down through a canyon, also named Parley’s. What this section
of highway lacks in policemen it makes up for in eighteen-wheelers and geriatrics drivers that haven’t been to the
optometrist recently. Every week, a trucker who must get his shipment of hot tubs to Las Vegas before midnight,
someone’s grandmother with selective memory regarding speed limits, and a desperate drug addict are crammed into
a narrow canyon going freeway speeds. We careen around the corners of the canyon along the taxpayer’s rollercoaster.
The descent is more chaotic when I have not yet run out of last week’s supply of cocaine. If anyone had the chance
to look up, they may see the beauty of the canyon and the ice climbers on its walls, but we don’t. We all have
somewhere to be.
At the mouth of the canyon, I drive for my life to get to the Foothill exit and pull into a rundown gas station
covered in tobacco adverts and questionable stains. American Gas is a place of comfort after the horrors of the canyon. It
smells a strange mix of gasoline, glycerin, and kebab. It is also the only place that will sell me cigarettes. I limp inside to
meet whatever wayward youth is running the counter. The conversation goes something like this.
“What’s good man?”
“Nothing much just getting stoges”
“Bett, whatchu want”
“A pack of Newport shorts”
“Bett, can I see your ID?”
“I don’t have it, but I’m in here all the time”
“Bett, that will be nine eighty-seven”
“Thanks, have a good day man”
Of course, I always have my ID, and the guy or gal behind the counter knows I have it. Most of them are
underage as well, and really too high to care. It is comforting to know I am not the only person in Utah that does
not go to the temple every month. After a smoke, I am back on the road.
My plug lives in West Valley, the only real “bad part” of Salt Lake. The highway west rolls through the
industrial district passing warehouses and truck depots. The warehouses never see much use. It seems some spiteful
city planner has spaced them too far apart to gossip with each other. They seem lonely. This whole stretch of road is
lonely and every week it pleads with me to turn around, I don’t.
I pull into West Valley and park the car in the public park. Every time I wait here feels like an eternity. I
twiddle my thumbs to Mary-Louise Kelly and pray I can get what I think I need. This is the only reason I ever pray.
I watch the kids on the playground and think about my siblings on the other side of the mountains, until the sight
of a Nissan snaps me out of reality.
The driver of this Nissan is a pudgy girl of Asian descent in her mid-twenties. Always accompanied by an
anxious Yorkie. I know her as Brit, and she claims to be a figure skater (something I doubt) when she isn’t delivering illicit
substances. She parks and signals me over. I hop in, and the small talk begins. This is an art that most drug dealers neglect
to learn. Brit is a master. She asks me how things are going and how the weather is up in the mountains. Sometimes we
talk for half an hour. I see she does this because she is terribly lonely as well. Eventually, we agree on an amount and a
price. My usual, an Eightball, and two punishers for the weekend. About two hundred dollars depending on the state of
the market. After paying up she offers me a bump for the road, and we cut up lines on the center console. It tastes like a
high school chemistry lab and feels like autumn in Baja. This is the reason I was down here. We exchange the customary
“stay safe out there” go on our way.
If I wasn’t high on the way down, I am now. The trip home feels a little more comfortable knowing I
accomplished the objective. On the way down, I was terrified of getting in an accident, not because I might get
injured or worse, but because I would not be able to pick up. (Although I might get free Dilaudid at the hospital).
On the way up at least I know if I die it won’t hurt as much. Mary-Louise talks faster now.
This comfort lasts until the bump Brit had given me wore off, as I am passing Jordanelle. The
incomprehensible demoralization we addicts often feel sets in. I can’t believe it happened again. Couldn’t I have
found a better use for two hundred dollars and two hours of driving? The lights of the mega-million-dollar homes
across the reservoir reflect off the water to my over dilated eyes, or maybe the sun is coming up, neither one is
pleasant. I cry. Sometimes it seems Jordanelle cries with me. I cry not because of the immeasurable guilt I feel. And
not because of the fear I have of my dwindling prospects for the future. I cry because I can’t understand why I do all
this, and because I will have to do it all over again next week.
Your fingers sit on top
of black and white piano keys
like how the still white chrysanthemum wilts
under the fading light of a November sunset.
Out of Tune
To Be Forgotten by One's Own Mother
Lisa Periale Martin
You start with a smooth legato.
My mind becomes hazy with feverish harmonies.
Sixteenth and eighteenth notes card through my hair,
undoing weary knots like you’ve done before.
Whole notes cup my face and fill my eyes
with silvery mercury that falls down my face
and leaves a haunting warning in its wake.
The song marches into a thunderous crescendo.
My brain scatters as a sharp staccato rhythm
punctures my eyes over and over and over again.
The silvery mercury turning into a toxic arsenic
that makes my cheeks burn with a sickly scarlet red.
It’s burning the space beside me,
burning my beating organ chained to its cage,
and threatens to leave only ashes dark as the veil of a widow.
Then you play the dreaded decrescendo,
and the notes dwindle away.
Their sudden absence leaving me nothing
but the diminished warmth in my palms
and the augmented emptiness
on top of the worn piano seat.
The fading song draws out
desperate begging from my tongue
that seems to last for hours, days, weeks, months.
But it doesn’t last,
because the sun sets.
Flowers wilt, wither, and die,
leaving only their lifeless petals to be buried under the damp dirt.
Your dead fingers closed the dusty piano long ago,
and sealed themselves away along with it.
Once again, I am reminded that
December arrives, and I am left
With a piano out of tune.
where do memories exist—
just a synapse tickling a speck
of grey matter?
my mother remembers
her sister, Ida, when I show
her a photo—but not Ida’s
hilarious husband Fred
by her side
is a bit fuzzy on my brother
Andrew, her oldest,
until I remind her
but no idea who Bonnie, his wife is
then I say her name with Andrew’s
and she says, “yes, Andrew and Bonnie,”
as if they have been one in her mind
joining Bill and I for an anniversary breakfast
at the Arizona Inn, a place she and dad
have stayed at numerous times
where we celebrated their 50th
enjoyed countless meals
in their elegant dining room
she has no memory of any of this
doesn’t remember living in so many
places, their homes there,
her friends and coworkers
I’ll be gone from her memory banks soon
do we hold the memories for her
the ones we share
the ones we are privy to
when she dies, and she’s free
of that crippled brain
will those memories, awarenesses
recognition of dear ones
come rushing back
on the other side of the veil
will it take time
like recovering from
a traumatic brain injury
or will it all be there
along with other incarnations,
larger identities and forms
past lives uploaded
with all your photos and videos
contacts and apps
and yes, it’s all
coming back to me now
As my heart pounded in my chest, lungs
gasped for air, and vision swirled from
stage lights, I bowed. Instead of erupting into booming
applause the auditorium sat blankly, with only empty
seats to fill it. For the first time in my life performing
on stage seemed underwhelming. The feeling of
anxiety mixed with excitement was replaced with utter
disappointment. I wasn’t sad. The knowledge of how
hard my teachers had worked in order for me to be
standing on stage in the first place kept me from feeling
melancholy. However, I could not shake the pit of
disappointment rotting in my stomach. I straightened
my knees, lifted my head, and glanced to my right.
Through the glimmering lights I could make out dark
black wings and shadow-like silhouettes. Only a year
before the sides of the box-shaped stage would have
been filled to the brim with shuffling people, speaking
in hushed tones, anxiously awaiting their turn on stage.
This year there were only two vague silhouettes.
Disappearing behind a voluminous black wing
I let myself slouch. The cheap tulle of my costume
crunched as I bent over. Breath beat against my
bejeweled mask. Squinting, as my eyes adjusted to the
lack of light I made out my two friends rushing over to
congratulate me. Instead of congratulatory hugs they
stopped several feet away from me and smiled from
behind their masks. Squinting my eyes, I smiled back.
Backstage felt hollow. Light from the bright stage
glanced against the walls casting looming shadows
and illuminating the empty room. I had never noticed
how imposing the space was. Before when it had been
filled with bustling people and large vibrant props the
space had seemed thrilling and welcoming. Now the
space opened up before me as a reminder of how much
had changed. Overpowering music washed over me. I
watched as one of my friends entered on to the stage to
perform. My breath finally stopped beating against my
mask. Knowing it would soon be my cue to enter back
onto the glowing yet unexciting stage, I stood.
Blinding lights hit my eyes and I plastered a
fake smile onto my face. I let the blaring music wash
over and carry me through my next steps. The stage
seemed built for excitement. The lights glimmered and
gleamed from every angle. The backdrop was filled with
vibrant colors and shapes. The music came from speakers
placed all around. Our costumes were fun and bright.
It could have been the perfect performance. However
looking out into the still auditorium I felt numb. There
were no familiar faces of family and friends. The cheap
folding theater seats were unimpressive. The music
ended. Inky black curtains slid their way across the
stage and then the lights abruptly went out. I felt numb
because no applause had filled the space of the finished
music. No shuffling and whispering of a crowd of people
could be heard and there was no sense of completion or
accomplishment. I was left thinking, “was that really it?”
The dressing room still smelled of feet, sweat,
and cheap hairspray, although it was only filled with
half the occupants it was intended for. Exhausted, I
slumped into a cold metal folding chair that was placed
in front of my mirror. My feet felt as if fire ants were in
my shoes. It was a sort of pins and needles feeling that
happens when you wear pointe shoes for long periods
of time. Glancing around I made eye contact with some
of my friends who smiled at me with their eyes. We
packed our bags quietly and the room seemed to be filled
with a sort of gravity. Disappointment still ran through
me. I was so grateful for the opportunity I was given,
however the room seemed to be haunted with memories
of before. The room had been a part of my childhood but
it had never seemed this cold. The room was filled with
mirrors and lights.
Lockers lined the two back walls and a dingy
green couch sat in the corner. That green couch had been
there as long as I could remember and was usually filled
with people. This year it sat unused.
As I left the theater all I could feel was
disappointment. The heavy metal door swung closed
behind me making a creaking sound. My legs felt heavy as I
took one step after the other. Peeking over my shoulder the
building seemed abandoned. There should have been red
and green decorations and people standing outside holding
flowers and gifts. However there was only the grey stone
walls of the theatre and vacant glass windows that should
have been filled with light. Before I would have taken for
granted the people and the excitement, but now I knew
better and knew to be grateful for all those past experiences.
Although this year had been so different, I had learned not
to take it for granted too.
India Ink, Fineliner Pen, and White Pen on Bristol
You were given a box of tools.
An odd assortment passed along to you
from many generations of related fools.
These tools, however, would just not do
for the task of building a child.
You did your best, of this, it’s true,
with tools you were given, in your box compiled.
Bent and broken and covered in rust,
you used what you had in a manner more mild
than the sharp edges that betrayed your trust.
Still the tools were not right, you see,
drilling nails into the dust.
You passed that toolbox along to me,
held together with not more than glue.
I will rebuild it deliberately.
And I will do my best, like you,
but I will forge my tools anew.
Charcoal on Paper
The warm season was always busy for Moore’s Dairy. Usually, Maryann liked being busy at work. The time
went faster, and it felt good to see the money come in, but now she had the migrant worker project to keep her
occupied, so she relished the slow days. She and Liz Healy were able to organize the purchase of four dozen shoes,
at cost, paid for by individual donations, and boosted by larger donations from the two churches in town.
Maryann, Liz and Liz’s husband John, the doctor in Marburg, got started on the project when Father
Donnelly suggested it. He heard about it after another priest from Farmington spoke at a recent retreat about the
situation with migrant workers. Five more minutes and Liz and John would be picking her up.
Today they were headed to Timmerman’s Orchards. Maryann couldn’t help but worry a little about going
out to Timmerman’s farm. The farmer was well known for his ugly attitude toward people in general, but especially
towards the migrants. He called them “Mexican sewer rats” and constantly walked around carrying a loaded shotgun.
Still, Timmerman paid the going rate and he also provided eight old house trailers set up to house the workers and
The local sheriff had warned Timmerman that pointing a loaded gun at someone could be considered
assault, but the sheriff couldn’t stop him from carrying it around on his own property. Maryann was determined to
power through her discomfort over Timmerman because she knew it was important to reach the people working at
the orchard. She had the shoes to distribute, and John was treating an elderly woman, traveling with her family, for
Dr. John and Liz pulled up just as Maryann was sealing up a cooler of vanilla and chocolate, packed with
dry ice so it wouldn’t melt on the drive out to the Timmerman farm. She looked forward to handing out cones to
the children although the shoes, in all different sizes, were probably the more important contribution. The three of
them rode in John’s Ford truck for the trip out to the farm. Timmerman’s place was almost 20 miles away on dirt
roads that hadn’t been graded since spring.
It took them almost an hour just to get to the migrants’ trailers, but the timing turned out to be good. They
got there just in time for the supper break. The workers were milling around a picnic table placed under the one
makeshift ramada that stood in front of the semicircle of house trailers. Some folks were sitting on kitchen chairs
brought from inside. There was music on a radio playing in one of the trailer houses and people seemed happy about
the shoes. Maryann was handing a chocolate cone to a shyly smiling youngster when Timmerman’s shout almost
made her drop it.
Carol Spitler Korhonen
Excerpted from the novel "Small Town Murders"
“Who in hell gave you permission to come on my land and bother my migrants!”
Maryann hated the fact that Timmerman had managed to startle her, so she turned his direction with a big
friendly smile and said, “Good evening Mr. Timmerman what can I get for you, chocolate or vanilla?”
Timmerman responded by shifting his shotgun off his shoulder into a two-handed grip across his body, but
at that moment John and Father Donnelly emerged from the first trailer house in the row and John began yelling.
“Timmerman, I know the sheriff has already warned you about that damn gun! If you point it at my wife or
Maryann or any of these folks, I promise you I will bring charges against you and that’s if I don’t take it away from
you and shove it up your ass.”
Father Donnelly caught up with John and put a restraining hand on his shoulder, but he spoke directly to Timmerman.
“Paul, you know that your wife gave us permission to be here and to speak with your workers as long as
we don’t interfere with their work, which we are not doing because this is supper break. Doctor John and Liz and
Maryann are here doing God’s work and you should be supporting our efforts, not threatening people with that
“You can keep your preaching to yourself, Donnelly. These Mexicans better be ready to get back to work in,”
he stopped and looked at his watch, “in thirty-five minutes. I need to get these rats back in the field while we still
have some light to work by.”
“We are not interfering with your workers in any way Paul. It’s dangerous to be carrying that loaded gun
around. There is a lot of rough ground out here. If you happen to step in a hole or stumble, it could end up in
tragedy. I wish you’d leave it racked in your truck. There are a lot of kids out here.”
“They should keep those kids inside and out of my way. I need to get these crops in while the weather holds.
I could lose a lot of money if I don’t get my produce to market. I have contracts to fill. I’m not like you Donnelly,
living off whatever you can beg people to throw in the collection plate. I work for a living.”
Timmerman was walking away now. Maryann watched as Father Donnelly turned and urged Dr. John back
inside. Maryann let out a breath she only now realized she was holding. The sooner Timmerman and his gun got
away from these families the better off everyone was.
Tom Ryan and Dorothy Feeney spent a lot of time together as they grew up. Everyone seemed to assume
they belonged together. They were the same age. They lived almost next door to each other. Both their families
were well off and they lived in town, not out on some dusty country road. The third member of the group was Bill
O’Tool. Bill’s Dad owned the John Deere dealership in Marburg, selling heavy farming equipment, the only Deere
dealership in Sanilac County. Tom bragged that Bill’s family was richer than the Ryans and Feeneys put together.
Bill was a quiet, thoughtful boy, a good balance for me, thought Tom. Everybody told Tom that he never
shut up. Tom loved looking at Bill’s squared-off handsome face and a trim build. Tom spent even more time with
Bill than he did with Dorothy. Everyone in town assumed they were best friends, but Tom knew that they were
much more than that to each other. Tom was careful to include Dorothy and other girls in their activities so that no
one else would know how much he and Bill loved each other.
Saturday was finally here and right now, Tom and Dorothy, Bill and Bea Connaughton, plus two other
Marburg High seniors, were bumping along the dusty dirt roads west of town picking up kids for the Golden
Harvest Dance. So far there were six kids riding Ruthie Callahan’s big, blue Oldsmobile, but plenty of room for
more if they squeezed in. Tom and Bill sat in the middle of the back seat with the girls taking the back window
seats. Tom had gone over this arrangement with Bill before they picked up the girls. It allowed the boys to sit close
to one another, touching from shoulder to knee without arousing suspicion. On the way to pick up the Miller twins,
they passed the Timmerman farm and spotted a large field of watermelons.
“Let’s get some melons,” said Tom. “It’s so hot tonight everyone will want some.”
“Are you joking?” asked Bill. “Old man Timmerman is the meanest man in Sanilac County. We don’t want
to get caught taking melons from his field.”
“You’re right,” agreed Tom, flashing his hundred-watt grin. “Let’s definitely not get caught.”
There were several big watermelon fields on the way to pick up the twins and Tom was determined to steal a
couple of melons to take back to the dance. Everyone in the car, except Bill, was now in favor of a watermelon heist.
The fields on both sides of the road were full of melons. Tom and Bill wrestled two big melons into the back and just
as Tom slammed the trunk closed, the lights came on in the Timmermans’ yard.
“Let’s go” yelled Tom.
Both boys scrambled to get back in the car. Bill climbed over Dorothy to regain his middle seat between
the two girls, but Tom slid into the window seat, behind the driver and put his arm around Dorothy. Bill gave Tom
a dirty look, but Tom just grinned back at him and then winked and pulled Dorothy close. Dorothy didn’t object.
Instead, she smiled at Tom and decided to leave Bill to his date, Bea Connaughton, but Bill resolutely centered
himself in the middle of the back seat with another glare in Tom’s direction. Ruthie took off like a rocket and they
were past Timmerman’s gate in no time. The girls were cheering and the boys were laughing when the shotgun blast
exploded through the back window of the car.
The crack and shatter of the shotgun felt, to Tom, like it took forever, and the flying shards of glass and
shotgun pellets seemed to move in slow motion. The air was full of flying rainbow glass and grey pellets, and then
there was the smell of blood and then there was blood – all over the front window and the back of the front seat as
well. Tom saw Bill slump forward and thought that maybe he was trying to hide on the floor, but that wasn’t it at all.
Paul Timmerman told the sheriff that he only wanted to scare the kids. He meant to spray a load of
buckshot over the top of their car. Unfortunately, as Timmerman stepped into the rutted dirt road his foot hit a hole
and he stumbled. While Timmerman tried to regain his footing, the shotgun, now pointed directly at the car’s back
window, went off. Timmerman was only a couple yards behind the car when the gun discharged. The shotgun pellets
went straight through the back window catching Bill in the back, severing and pulverizing a good-sized section of
his spinal cord and killing him instantly. The other kids escaped with minor scratches.
Maryann Moore was pouring punch, standing behind the refreshment table at Feeny’s Mortuary and
Funeral Home. The whole town seemed to have come for the viewing tonight. Tom was sitting with his parents and
Father Donnelly. Dorothy had spoken to Tom when he first came in, but he didn’t answer or even acknowledge her.
He seemed to look right through her. Now Dorothy was staying close to her mother. Maryann knew she would have
to perform the hostess duties tonight because Jeanette Feeney had her hands full with Dorothy.
Maryann was handing cups of punch to the Sheriff, Gene March, and his wife when she caught sight of
Tom walking to the front of the room. He walked to the casket and touched Bill’s hand. Tom stood very still for a
moment and then his head bowed and his shoulders began to shake. Maryann almost dropped her ladle and went to
him, but Father Donnelly beat her to it. He ushered the boy outside, not back to his parents. Will Feeney came out
with two large pitchers of punch to refill the bowl. Then Will turned to the sheriff.
“I know you’re blaming yourself for this Gene, but you couldn’t have known.”
“I know I couldn’t stop him Will,” said the sheriff, “but that doesn’t keep me from thinking I should have
found some way to do just that.”
Will Feeney pulled a flask out of his pocket and topped off Sheriff Gene’s punch.
“There was nothing you could do Gene, nothing anyone could do.”
Exposure on Color Film
Death and Claptrap
Carol Spitler Korhonen
“May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back”
and other Irish claptrap hauled out for funerals, wakes
memorial services, prayer cards, sermons and speeches
but I’m too angry for that
What should I do with this anger?
What can I do with this anger?
Yes, you confessed to a liver transplant,
but not that it was failing
You should have spent years with her
not a thin packet of months
And my daughter is crying again
because your damn truck is in the driveway
and I too forget and look for you
until I remember
Like your dog, Osa, who keeps running out to
the end of the lane to find you
and I slow when I pass that certain door
and double take on some look-alike in the street
I needed you to stay
not be thinner and thinner and then go
I needed you to stay and be the man that she deserves
my sweet, still young daughter with all the bad luck
Surely you could have tried harder to stay so I could
watch her eyes shine at the sound of your voice on the phone
watch her bask in wonder at your effortless attention
watch her sleep curled in perfect peace against you
My daughter lay beside you on the hospital cot
trying to lend you her breath, and the push of her heart
trying to wind her soul tight around yours
so you couldn’t leave
but you said “I’m sorry”
and then you died
Well . . . apology not accepted!
you should have been more careful
you should have gotten more sleep
you should have stopped drinking
you should have watched your diet
you should have paced yourself
you should have not worked so hard
you should have tried harder
you should have hung on longer
And if it isn’t your own damn fault
then what can I do with this anger?
What should I do with this anger?
Dave, my friend
May you be a week in heaven before the Devil knows you’re dead!
Being the outsider in any given situation is like drawing the worst luck: you watch yourself get dragged
apart from the people around you no matter how much you want to fit in with them, completely
helpless and alone. The feeling of isolation that comes with being different gnaws at you, so much so that you will
start to try anything to get rid of how you’re an outlier socially, culturally, or physically. As a young Asian girl
being surrounded by people who I could not relate to and who could not relate to me, I hated the feeling of being
completely different and how that would show itself through the actions of others. In an attempt to be easier for
people to get along with, I shut parts of myself away but I ultimately gave up on trying to hide who I was.
When I was younger, all my peers in school were either Hispanic or White, something very common here
in Tucson because of our geographical location. There was nothing wrong with this, but it could be disheartening at
times, not having many other kids like me at my age. In preschool and kindergarten, I had one friend who was also
Japanese and we have kept in touch even till now. In elementary school, there weren’t other Asian kids despite the
600 students attending. Middle school and high school have been much the same but more tolerable because of how
I have come to accept myself as different from those around me. Though much hasn’t changed in terms of those
around me, the important thing is that I have.
In elementary school, it was nearly a daily occurrence for the other kids to make fun of my looks, heritage, food,
or something else of the same sort. It was hard for me to understand why they would treat me this way, especially my
friends, and all I knew was that they were treating me differently. I would often be approached only for the other person
to pull their eyes back and chant “Chinese, Japanese, American,” laugh, and keep doing this several times until I would
start to laugh with them, too. When I would open my lunchbox, the other kids would mime gagging or openly comment
on how they thought my food looked “disgusting.” To me, this was plain odd because their lunches (Lunchables, PB&J’s,
random junk food) were just food that I would only ever bring if my mom hadn’t had enough energy or time to pack
anything for me. My lunches were almost always leftovers from the previous night’s dinner and items that were more than
normal to me, like oden, rice with umeboshi, tamago donburi, or, as all of my other peers have always called it, “sushi” (it
was onigiri). Whenever I would try and offer my food for my friends to try, they would visibly recoil and retch at it. This
was especially hurtful to me because I wanted to share my culture with them, only to be rudely turned down. Elementary
school was more making fun of my looks and food as a way to differentiate me from the other students in my grade rather
than direct comments on my ethnicity.
Middle school was more of the same with the addition of people making fun of my language, stereotyping me, and
objectifying me. One particular student in my math class will always be memorable to me for how determined he seemed to
have been to make me as uncomfortable as possible. In my grade, he was one of the class clowns that everyone knew or was on
good terms with, just another loud white kid who would always butt into other people’s business. He would constantly speak
to me in gibberish, ask if I rode dragons around (still not completely sure by what he meant with that one), if I ate my pets, and
questions about China even though he knew I wasn’t Chinese. I dreaded going to class because of him and would often ask to
skip school so that I wouldn’t have to put up with his incessant pestering. I had told my mom about what was happening but she
would give me the basic talk of “Just ignore him; it’ll get better!” and I knew that she had grown up in Japan, so she couldn’t
really understand how I was feeling. Nevertheless, I would try to take her advice but it didn’t help at all and we eventually
moved seats so I was able to get away from him. Outside of that one kid, some of the other people at school would call me an
anime character or sometimes relate me to hentai, a more… lewd sort of animation, for lack of a better word, because my body
type was starkly different than the stereotypical East Asian woman. These remarks left me feeling incredibly dehumanized and
as if I existed only to entertain the people around me but I was never able to voice my concerns in a way that had my friends
taking me seriously, so I would just let them slide. While the people around me made fun of me less, their remarks became more
targeted which made it just as, if not more, hurtful than when I was younger.
While not an often occurrence, some of the other kids would also tease me for the way I spoke. At home,
my mother would speak to my brother and me almost exclusively in Japanese so my monolingual English-speaking
father, who was almost always gone on some sort of business trip, didn’t impact how I learned to pronounce words
as much. At this point in my life, I understood that most people weren’t genuinely interested in learning about my
culture, so I wouldn’t speak at all in Japanese but people would still find a way to make fun of the way I would
pronounce certain words as a result of my upbringing and whenever I would correctly pronounce something that
happened to be Japanese. For the most part, it wasn’t like times when my accent would show itself were a common
occurrence, particularly because Japan was mostly associated with anime (something deemed “cringe” by the vast
majority of my school), so I wasn’t mocked for the way I spoke that often. Still, I remember being made fun of for
the way that I would say words like “monkey” or “vitamin” or just how I would slur my words in a particular way,
though I’m still not sure what exactly that “particular way” was. This kind of teasing wasn’t too bad and it never
went far, mostly just repeating the word, scrunching their face up a little in confusion, and simply laughing at me.
Trying to hide myself was something that I could never quite go all-in with. I had been told almost outright to
think that the parts of myself that made me different were shameful and disgusting, something that I would be better
keeping out of sight from everyone else. I had been so used to being ridiculed for a part of myself that I couldn’t change
that I would try and pretend that it wasn’t there. I would start to go along with people’s jokes, acting as if they weren’t
slicing deeper every day, I would purposely mispronounce words and in doing so, whitewash myself, and I would start to
pack more “acceptable” lunches even though eating heavier “American” food would often make me feel sick. This lasted
for a couple of years until COVID hit, and we were forced into quarantine. Being forced to sit by myself with only the
internet to connect myself with other people on social media with roughly the same experiences as me made me realize
how foolish it was of me to live in a way that was only to make myself easier to digest for the people around me. This
change wasn’t a sudden moment of clarity that I can write about but rather very gradual and mainly sparked from hearing
others’ stories that were like mine. Though I have made leaps and bounds in terms of accepting myself, it is still a work in
progress trying to unlearn years of conditioning.
My loveless mother once scratched my arm bloody.
Look at the wounds like you would tree roots.
The pain will make you strong, she said.
But I wanted beauty, not strength.
A generation has passed,
and now I am a mother, a better mother.
Yet that my efforts are disregarded
by my ungrateful daughter.
She screams abuse at me all day and night.
She wails about how I couldn’t love her even if I tried.
But that’s not true.
My daughter already has my love.
I’d just love her more if she was prettier.
And so, what if I gripped her arm too tight, once.
Someday she’ll see the bruises as violet petals.
The pain will make her beautiful.
I am a good mother; I give my daughter beauty.
Truly, I am a better mother than my mother
and my daughter will be a better mother
for her daughter in the next cycle.
Charcoal on Paper
September 24th, 2016 I was reborn, well in a
sense. It all started with the end of my shift at
work in Tucson, Arizona. I just had a gut feeling something
was wrong. I had been off my medication, and those who
had been there know it’s like a rollercoaster ride. One day
you’re manic high, and you think you can conquer the
world. Next, you want to go into the fetal position in a
dark room and isolate yourself. I knew that was next, so I
needed a game plan. I rushed home in a panic. That was the
longest 45 minutes to get home. I was full of panic, agony,
questioning and second guessing myself and my mind, then
finally I was home. Now that I was home and wanted to get
into isolation, my chemical imbalance was so overwhelming
it took control. My new game plan was to feel better by any
means necessary. “What makes me feel better?” I thought.
“MEDICATION!” I screamed. I sprinted to my cabinet
drawer, got all the medication I could find, and put it into a
bowl as if it were some sick Halloween. For one goddamn
second, I knew this wouldn’t end well. I started to endlessly
shovel this concoction of medication I made for myself. I
finally gave up and called my friends for some help.
After that it comes in waves:
My friends arrived, picked me up, and drove me
to the hospital. I started to hallucinate. My lips and fingers
started to go numb, I could feel them go crisp, and I no
longer felt like I was breathing. It was just not a thing
anymore. I could no longer exhale or inhale, but I was
still breathing. Anytime I moved my body, colorful dust
followed me like magic, and I felt everything and nothing
at the same time. On the way to the hospital, I saw a car
accident on the side of the road. A single-family with a car
in flames just glaring at me and holding each other tight.
Then I saw a bicyclist on the side of the road with severe
marks on his head. None of these were real.
As we kept driving, I saw an older Native
American man in the middle of the road. I kept telling my
friend not to hit him, and they didn’t see him. She finally hit
him. He dissolved into dust and appeared to me. He told
me I was not welcome with the dead and disappeared. My
friends were in hysterics when I was telling them what I felt
and saw. They rushed faster to our destination.
After that, I couldn’t remember much. When
I got to the hospital, the doctors kept asking me why I
did this, but I couldn’t even produce a sentence with all
of the hallucinations. After the doctor left, I remember
an eight-legged demon that asked me if I wanted to live
or die. I replied, “Live.” He then turned into my female
friend from grade school and slowly turned into a corpse.
After that, I couldn’t sleep for a couple of days. At this
point, I had been hallucinating for over ten hours and
was admitted into a psychiatric place for a week. On the
way to the psychiatric hospital, I met the EMT who
transferred me and a porcelain doll. For a moment in
time, I felt as if I were drowning in my own delusions,
choking on my hallucinations. My own eyes had
deceived me for so long. What was real? I questioned.
The porcelain doll continued in the glass where all
the medication was. No matter where I looked, it would follow
me. If I looked away from its direction, it would tap on the
glass with the softest yet loudest tap. I finally broke down in
tears and told the EMT what I saw, assuming he would think
I’m crazy but wanted him to know what was going on. I told
him about that son of a bitch doll and all the other unearthing
things I had seen since being admitted. He took a deep breath
in, exhaled, and held my hand. He asked if I could feel him,
and I could. He told me that was real and to hang on to that.
Our connection and skin on the skin were real, and my mind
was purposely playing tricks on me. I held onto that warmth
of his hand, to his words coming out of his mouth. I was so
cold for so long; his hand on my hand warmed my body like a
hug from your grandpa on Christmas day. I was drowning in a
pit of delusions, and he was the only sanity left. He saved me.
Only the EMT tried to let me know what was real and what
was a figment of my imagination. The fine line of sanity and
insanity. After my breakdown with the EMT, I was rebirthed.
When I woke up, I was reborn. I wasn’t the
same, and I am happy about that. I am grateful; I
appreciate my life and the EMT who rescued me. I still
don’t remember half of the time I was there, and I am
glad I don’t. Just fragments. I look back, and sure there
are hundreds of things I could’ve done differently, but I
wouldn’t be the person I am today. I look back and learn
from this, and it makes me a stronger person. I learn
from my unwise choices. There is a fine line between
sanity and insanity. I am happy I had someone to show
me the ropes.
Los Cuatro Bailando Juntos
La tierra que palpita al caminar
es la misma que nutre tus manos al bailar.
Cada aliento inhalado y exhalado
es abrazado por el viento y transformado en alimento
para el cuerpo sagrado que llevas puesto.
El fuego traducido en vida prende al corazón.
Y el agua purifica y renueva el andar de cada canción.
The Four Dancing Together
The land that throbs when walking
is the same that nourishes your hands when dancing.
Every breath inhaled and exhaled
is embraced by the wind and transformed into food
for the sacred body you’re wearing.
The fire translated into life sets the heart on fire.
And water purifies and renews the walk of every song.
We Fell in Dance
Digital Sketch Outline
The Endless Journey
On a foggy day, the mist hangs thick in the air, and I see a house I had seen years ago. A young woman sat
on the front porch, holding a tiny baby wrapped in a blanket. The baby coos softly as his mother sings to him. The
sun comes out, and the mist begins to clear. I leave the house, continuing on my long journey, pulled on with time
and motion, never noticed.
Years later, resting on a tree, I see the same boy, older now, walking into school with another boy. When the bell
rings, the boy comes out the doors with his friend, and I watch them play a game with other kids on the playground.
Moments later, I slip down from the tree and continue on my way. I cannot see the boy anymore, and he did not
notice me watching. To him, I am invisible. I am just a small thing in the world, taken for granted.
The rain pours down on a cold day, and I move to a nearby bus stop. A car rolls slowly down the road. At the driver’s
seat is the boy, a young man now learning to drive, his mother beside him. He is hesitant at first, then slowly gains
confidence. As I slip away through the streets, I see a smile on his face. His journey, like mine, has many more years,
and I hope to see him again.
The day is hot a decade later. I am far away from the small house where the boy was born, on a beach now,
swimming in the vast ocean. I come in with the waves, and the boy, now a man, is walking along the shore, a young
woman by his side, holding his hand. As the sun sets, he gets on one knee. The woman says yes, and the tide begins
to go out. I am happy for the man. I have watched him grow up, even if he has never noticed me.
On a rainy day, I come by a park. The man is there with his wife, standing under a gazebo. As I pass by, I see a
new baby in her arms. The man takes the child and smiles. I hit the ground and continue on my journey. I will see
the man again, as he grows old with his wife, and I will watch his child grow, becoming a man and finding a wife.
He, like his father, will never notice me or recognize me, for I come in different forms. Water never leaves; it only
changes appearance. Next year I may be a flake of snow, a drink for a tree. I might be in the ocean for years, or
underground, or in an iceberg, but I will never leave. I will cross paths with the man and his family again one day,
but for now, my endless journey takes me elsewhere.
India Ink, Fineliner Pen, and White Pen on Bristol
Gracias por Existir en Este Aquí y en Este Ahora
Que bonito el poder decir que somos humanos,
que podemos sentir el sol besar nuestra piel,
entrelazar manos creadoras,
el frío y el calor abrazando al cuerpo,
sentir lo que nos hace estar aquí,
y cada remolino que nos viene hacer bailar.
Que bonito compartir el andar a pies descalzos por aquí
y poder decir te quiero en esta frecuencia y vibración.
Que bonito es ser humana junto a ti.
Thank You For Existing Right Here Right Now
How beautiful it is to say we’re human,
that we can feel the sun kissing our skin,
interlacing creative hands,
cold and heat embracing the body,
feeling what allows us to be here,
and every whirl that comes making us dance.
How beautiful to share barefoot walking around here,
and to be able to say I love you in this frequency and vibration.
How beautiful it is to be human next to you.
October 3, 2018
Eric S Cerda
I got the call today
The tone, the message
even my response
is how I pictured it
I’ve waited, I’ve anticipated
for I knew it would come
I had seen the corrosion in your skin
and I turned my head away
I remember sitting in your warm kitchen on weekday’s afternoon
Sun-soaked table with slices of tiramisu and coffees
I took mine then with milk and sugar, it’s liquid candy
You asked me how I’ve been and what’s new in this tepid life
I repeated once again “fine and nothing,” and nothing more
I wished to tell you stories of ceremonious glories and fatal heartbreaks
but how could I lie to you
I watched wrinkled hands of hard-fought life stir gentle circles
Your serene eyes stared with sweet sympathy in silence
and when coffees were drunk and cake gobbled, I said “later”
My selfishness, my guilt
I didn’t want to come around
Shut my eyes, don’t breathe the air
In the bedroom of ghastly despair
Oh how I hated that you were you
You the bones that couldn’t hold skin
Probed with rubber tubes that smelled
of nauseating chemicals for disease
and a skull that can only show
the distortion and the anguish
You couldn’t recognize me
and I didn’t want to
Why couldn’t you have been you?
I wanted a result
To move forward. Free
But oh, how I wished
that I never got the call
and to be able to say “later”
but instead, I must say
Study in Yellow
Magazine and Paper Collage
Winter Doesn't Last
falling for you was the easiest thing I’ve ever done
because for the first time in my life, I jumped
and still haven’t hit rock bottom. I’m just scared
to think I can, I might, I will.
you look at me like I’m glass, like you just woke
from a dream about angels, and I can’t meet your eyes
because I am terrified that I’m still dreaming too.
I couldn’t tell you even if I knew how
that I only have so many heartstrings left.
you are every good thing I never thought
I would deserve.
every patient touch, every healing scar.
the words are petals filling up my throat
but I am always thinking about the way
you pull me into existence
with your laughter, about how nothing
feels more like home than being between your arms, how
you’re a shard of heaven I’m trying so hard to stay on earth for.
thank you for becoming my tomorrows.
thank you for, despite everything,
looking at me and seeing something worth loving.
you saw me dirty, empty, breaking,
and you did not turn away. thank you.
my heart is lingering under the snow
but it’s yours.
Study in Violet
Magazine and Paper Collage
The Ordinaries' Mindset
Eric S Cerda
Breakfast’s ready: dog food all is fed
Colorful fruity kibble in still-good milk, and stale bread
Scruffy mate and housebreaking pups lap it up
Mine is instant coffee in a chipped souvenir cup
Tied tight weights down
Dried cracked feet bleeding out
Bent back brakes, a patch is the fix
The bell it rings “It’s five, the hive, it’s five
Gather your things, you are now trespassing
Come back tomorrow if you’re still alive
Do not speak to others while they’re passing”
Shuffle out slow beaten dead to the car
On roads cars are still, never do they roam
All dreaming of places that are too far
For none are wanting truly to go home
Do not take the next exit, keep on straight
It matters not where we are going to be
Change names and head to undiscovered state
Drive till we’re out of gas, for we are free
No bell to ring “It’s eight, it’s hate, it’s eight
Corporal punishment for those who are late”
I pull up in the driveway leaving the engine running to listen to one final song, “Homesick” by the Cure,
my mind drifts recalling the days of yore, regaling when three drinks wasn’t too much, taking a drag from
a secret cigarette though it’s now been forbidden, but I’ll do anything to shorten this lifelong wait, and
when the song ends so does this paradise, the engine is turned off, and I go out of the car, there’s ten steps
left, farewell smile, walk through the door, hello everybody
Beaks flap yapping quick in a rage
Hatchlings fly loose in this birdcage
Repeating three words in a bore
“I want more, more, more, I want more”
Regurgitating two weeks catch
Giving it all up to the hatch
Whole body is aching and sore
“I want more, more, more, I want more”
Still, they chirp chirp chirping along
Nothing good to watch
They just only know that one song
All repeats, it’s shit TV
Bottle up temper deep in core
Commercials come on
“I want more more more, I want more “
False advertisement; perfect
When not obtaining desire
Escape from reality
They screech out as if on fire
They’re the reason for drinking more
Lay down in married bed with former love
“I want more more more, I want more “
We keep the distance between the thick sheets
Stare into the void the darkness above
Regret: I didn’t listen to cold feet
We were innocent then like captured doves
Veiled in our conceit that birth our deceit
In sorrow, sun rise repeating the day
So close my eyes perchance to dream away
Where Are You?
If there was a row of houses
for all the people I have been,
you would find a different person
at every door.
“Where are you?”
Where am I?
I am at the street corner,
trying to find the courage to knock
on the door.
Ask any passing figure,
Any wondering pedestrian,
Anyone, who may have the faintest idea,
or the smallest clue
Of where you are?
I stare at my shoes,
tattered and old, “you need to get new ones”
But I like these,
they’re the only identifying item tying me together
with all the wondering faces,
All the strangers I do not know.
Some old friends,
some more reminiscent of an old foe,
Enemies to friends, to enemies again.
Where are you?
I feel a quiet tug at my stitch,
gentle as if not with intent to startle.
it is me, but younger.
A gentler pull and sheepish grin.
Where am I?
She grabs me and pulls me away
from wondering face,
and all the passing strangers.
Where are we going?
She leads me away from the suburban streets
the dim glow of the light above me
The faces fade into figures,
figures into shapes,
shapes into nothing at all.
I walk home,
Alone in the dark.
Sim in Her Shop
Exposure on Color Film
My grandchildren were in the back seat of my car on their way to get their Covid 19 vaccinations. David
aged ten and Joy aged eight, were working hard to look happy about getting vaccinated. In truth, like all kids, they
hated getting shots. To distract them I decided to tell my story about the vaccine I got when I was even younger
than they are now, and it’s a true story.
I was part of the gigantic trial that involved thousands of school children designed to test the Sauk vaccine
for Polio. It was named after Jonas Sauk, the man who invented it. I remembered the time when every countertop
in every store in the country had a “March of Dimes” poster with a canister where you could drop in your coins to
help the research to defeat Polio, but my story was about the trial.
I was in first or second grade, and my parents, like most parents, signed the permission slip for me to be in
the trial. I remember when the class lined up for our march to the multipurpose room where a nurse was giving everyone
injections. The Salk vaccine was a three-shot regimen so the march to the multipurpose room occurred three
The results of the trial are history now. It proved that the vaccine was safe and effective against Polio, but the
bad news for me was that I was assigned to the control group and received the placebo, not the actual vaccine. I had
to get another three shots. I remember feeling quite bitter about it at the time.
Happily, I did not contract Polio before I was able to receive the real vaccine. I described to David and Joy
how ticked off seven-year-old me felt about getting six shots instead of three, and how relieved and excited everyone
else was now that Polio had been defeated by Dr. Salk. Everyone scrambled to get their vaccine ASAP. Kids were
thrilled! Now they could beg mom and dad to go to the beach, the circus, or a Saturday morning kids’ movie, without
getting the ultimate unarguable response of “No way kids! Crowds like that are how Polio is spread.”
I went on to assure David and Joy that they were getting real vaccines for Covid 19, not placebos. Both kids
had listened politely during my story. When I finished, I glanced in my mirror. I watched them look at each other,
whisper something, and shrug.
Carol Spitler Korhonen
Then I heard David’s voice. “Just one question. What’s Polio, Grandma?”
“Timid loser kid.”
Those were the words that Billy Mendoza had been labeled by a bully, way back as an adolescent, and the
words had stuck with him even now, all these years later, as a college freshman. At Rollins College, the little liberal
arts school in Orlando, Florida that he had decided to attend precisely because it was small and he wanted to
get more personalized attention, he had hoped that he might finally have an easier time finding people to talk to.
Unfortunately, he had a hard time making friends and an even harder time finding a place to be outside of classes.
Even in his dorm room he was always alone because his ostensible roommate was never around, choosing to rush
fraternities almost as soon as school started. When Billy graduated high school in June of 1991, he had high hopes.
Now, here it was late September, and nothing had changed.
Loneliness was never far from Billy. He was an only child, whose rather authoritarian father had frequently
stressed that Billy be modest, never stand out, and downplay his Hispanic heritage whenever possible, like insisting Billy
never speak Spanish in public. His father had claimed that this was so that Billy would not be discriminated against for
his ethnicity, but the result had been to make him withdrawn and awkward. Billy’s one solace was to blast heavy metal
music, the music he loved most of all, in his Sony Walkman. At least when listening to the music, he could escape his
loneliness and find glimmers of courage to push forward. It was the volume, the energy, the swagger that he loved. He
found it simultaneously exhilarating and soothing. Whenever he could scrounge up some money, he would hit his favorite
record stores in the area, Wax Tree and Rock N’ Roll Heaven. There he would take pleasure in browsing through the racks
and picking out the one or two metal records he could afford on his meager budget. He would look longingly at the other
people there, wishing he had the courage to strike up a conversation with someone. Unfortunately, he was too shy and
timid to do so, and often just left the store silently after paying for his purchase.
A few weeks after the semester started, he was already feeling tired, frustrated, and even at times, a little
desperate. Then, as he was walking through the student union building one Tuesday morning, he saw a flyer on a
bulletin board. He didn’t know why, but something made him stop and look at the flyer.
It was obviously cut and pasted with band logos and handwritten slogans and then photocopied in black
and white. So it wasn’t a professional job by any means but he was still captivated by it. That was because the logos
were of some of the most beloved and uncompromising heavy metal bands that Billy loved: Iron Maiden, Judas
Priest, Motorhead, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, and a few others tucked away near the bottom. In big handwritten
letters were the words “Latino Metal Night” and in smaller letters underneath an invitation:” Are you a Latino or
Latina who likes heavy metal? Do you want to listen to real heavy metal and hang out with people who do as well?
Come to the Pipe-Fitters and Plumbers Local Hall Saturday night from 9:00 PM until 2:00 AM and join DJ Big
Dave as he spins some of the most brain-melting metal you will ever hear!” At the bottom, “$5 at the door! Beer
available i/y 21 and older!”
For Billy, this was a revelation. Latino Metal Night? How had he not heard about this before? What did it
mean? What was it like? His mind was on fire.
Billy tried to piece it all together. It would be nice to be around other people who loved metal as much as he
did. Maybe he might meet someone who could be a friend. He had to admit, though, it was always difficult for him
to find the courage even to go to record stores by himself, let alone a party.
All week long, he thought about what it would be like. Who would he see? Would he be laughed at if he talked
to someone? Even worse, would he be just ignored? Anxiety and excitement gripped him for the next few days. Finally,
though, he somehow forced himself to take a chance and made his way into the show on Saturday night.
The Pipe-Fitters and Plumbers Local Hall was a fairly large meeting hall with an open empty space in
the front and a few small booths in the rear. At the very front there were a couple of beat-up banquet tables with
chipped Formica and peeling paint. On top of the tables, there was a simple wooden cabinet that spanned both
tables. On each side, the cabinet held a turntable with enough room to put on and take off records. On top of each
turntable, a CD player rested on shelves above the turntables. In the middle, there was a simple mixing board, which
was about the size of a shoebox and only had six faders and a main fader that controlled volume. A cassette deck
rested on a shelf above the mixing board. A maze of wires went from each component to the mixing board. The hall
had some ancient large wooden speakers that were used during regular union meetings, and someone had jerryrigged
a connector to plug the mixing board to them. Under the tables were three crates of vinyl LPs and another
crate full of CDs and cassette tapes.
There, behind the table, setting up a microphone, was Big Dave, the DJ. A better nickname could not have been
chosen. At a hair short of seven feet tall, he was stocky and muscular and built like a linebacker. He had dark brown skin,
jet-black hair as long as his lower back, and several tattoos decorating his arms, not to mention a metallic skull ring he
wore on his right hand. They all combined to confirm that Big Dave was clearly not a man to trifle with.
Billy sized up the crowd. It was surprisingly full. Apparently, there were far more Latino metal fans in the
Orlando area than he realized. Some dark-skinned, some light-skinned, some clearly nursing the only halfway
decent clothes they had, others clad in impeccable concert tees and neatly pressed jeans with expensive shoes. They
were the sons (and daughters-there were a few women there, though not more than half a dozen) of Florida’s varied
Latino community. Some came from the migrant workers who picked Florida’s crops. Some came from the wealthy
Cubans who were able to escape Castro’s regime. Some were just immigrants who moved to Florida to enjoy the
state’s beauty and warm weather. The one thing that he noticed is that no one noticed or cared about any of that.
All they talked about was heavy metal music and their families, since Latinos are always talking about their families,
frequently in Spanish. No one was better than anyone else. The only currency that mattered was how much you
loved this music. In this room, that was pretty much everybody.
Near the front was a big fellow, dark-skinned and chunky, with a pageboy haircut and an unfriendly look on his
face. In his washed-out Iron Maiden shirt, shredded jeans, and dilapidated sneakers, he cut a mean figure.
Before Billy could even say anything, the big fellow immediately ambled up to him and, almost yelling, greeted Billy
with a brutal backslap and by saying, “Hey, you’re new here. What’s your name? I like your Metallica shirt.”
“Thanks,” Billy replied, a bit warily. “I’m Billy.”
“Cool. My name’s Tavo. I’ve been coming here since the beginning, ‘cause it’s fuckin’ awesome. What did
you think of the Black Album?” he asked, referring to Metallica’s just released self-titled fifth album.
“I thought it was OK. Some good songs on it.”
“Nah, it fuckin’ sucks. Sellout mainstream bullshit. Fuck Metallica, they’re sellouts now. They used to be cool
though. Anyways…” and then he wandered off to say hello to someone else.
“Whew,” Billy sighed, as Tavo walked away. At least Tavo seemed OK with him. That should count for
something, Billy thought.
Then, the lights went down. Billy felt that instant rush when the lights went down at concerts. He also felt
relieved to not have to worry about what anyone else thought of him for a while. It was 9:00 PM and Big Dave was
ready to start.
“Hey, hermanos y hermanas, welcome to Latino Metal Night! I’m Big Dave Gutierrez! Let’s rock! ‘Raining
Blood’ by Slayer!”
The brutal opening chords of “Raining Blood” rang out over the speakers and the crowd went crazy. There
were spontaneous mosh pits, people slamming into each other and others just standing in place headbanging. Tavo
was the craziest, running around screaming and diving into the mosh pit with reckless abandon.
It was unlike anything Billy had ever seen. Here was where he wanted to be. This was a group of people who
loved metal as much as he did and who only wanted to be with other people who were just like him. The noise was
deafening. The party was rowdy and fun. He never wanted it to end.
Most of all, Billy was in awe of Big Dave. Big Dave picked songs that rocked the crowd. There were classics
like “Metal Gods” by Judas Priest and obscurities by bands like Prong. Dave mixed them seamlessly, playing the
mixing board like an instrument. Whenever someone threatened to get too unruly, Big Dave could say just the
right words to defuse the situation. It was clear that everybody there didn’t just come for the music but because they
respected him. Billy had never seen anyone like him. He wished he could be even half as cool and clever as Dave.
For the first time in his life, Billy felt he was in the right place at the right time. By the time 2:00 AM rolled
around, it was too soon. He was too excited and thrilled to sleep.
From that point on, Billy was there every week, without fail. At first, he was too shy to do much other than
show up, enjoy the music, and then leave without speaking to anyone much. Gradually, however, he did slowly start
to talk to a few of the regulars, even if they weren’t conversations that went much deeper than discussions about
music. Nonetheless, it took him a couple of weeks to muster up the strength to even say “Hi” to Big Dave, who
always muttered a gruff “Hey” back without even looking at him.
After a couple of more weeks, Billy finally decided to attempt to strike up a conversation with him.
“Hey, Dave,” Billy said, hoping Dave wouldn’t hear his stammering. “If I brought in a record, would you play it?”
“Depends,” Dave said, again not looking at him but rifling through his crates.
Speaking quickly, Billy began explaining, the words almost tripping over each other. “It’s just that I found
the import 12” single for Motorhead’s ‘Eat the Rich,’ which has two B-sides that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Big Dave stopped and looked at Billy. He had never looked at Billy before. “Really? You have that?”
Billy, pleased that he had finally managed to get Big Dave’s full attention, relaxed a little. “Yeah, I found it at
Wax Tree. It wasn’t cheap, but I really like it. I could bring it so you play the B-sides if you like.”
Dave thought for a moment. “Yeah, that’s cool. Bring it next week. I’ll play it for you. You like Motorhead?
What’s your favorite album of theirs?”
Billy, taken aback, wasn’t expecting this. Hoping his answer wouldn’t piss Big Dave off, he thought for
a moment and said, “Well, probably the first one, which really has a lot of my favorite songs. But I like the No
Remorse collection too. It’s really well-chosen.”
Big Dave considered this. Then, to Billy’s astonishment, he grinned. “Yeah, that’s a good choice, I like those
records too. What other bands do you like?” But before Billy could answer, Dave said, “Oh, hold on. This song’s
almost over. Let me do this and I’ll get back to you.”
Billy then watched as Dave faded down the turntable playing King Diamond’s “Burn” and faded up the CD
player playing Venom’s “Lady Bathory.” Then he turned to Billy, and it seemed to Billy that Dave actually saw him
for the first time since they had met. “Anyways, what were you saying?”
After that, Big Dave was more and more friendly to Billy. Billy would bring in records and Big Dave would
play them.They bonded over music. Dave introduced him to the Florida death metal scene and bands like Death
and Obituary. Billy got Dave to reassess Black Sabbath’s late-‘80s albums. “They’re not as bad as I remember them,”
Dave grudgingly conceded, which was a remarkable acknowledgment from him.
Then, gradually, Billy and Big Dave just talked and not only about music. Big Dave, as it turns out, was
a senior at Rollins, graduating in May with a business degree. He had begun doing the show as a freshman just
because he thought somebody should. His parents were divorced, and while his mother lived in Orlando, his father
had moved to Sacramento and owned a successful landscaping company. The divorce had been brutal, and it was
then that Dave, a teenager, became a metalhead. Billy, considering his own turbulent past, could relate.
One time they discussed what bands Dave would and wouldn’t play.
“What about some more mainstream bands, like G N’ R or Van Halen or Def Leppard?” Billy asked.
“I don’t play that shit,” Big Dave gruffly answered. “Well, maybe early Van Halen, but otherwise, fuck that.”
“But wouldn’t it bring in more girls? They like that music.”
“Why would I want more girls here?” Big Dave asked. “This is a place to rock, not to get laid. If you want to
pick up chicks, go to some dance club. We’re here for the music.”
Billy said nothing. As he considered this, however, he wondered if, maybe, he might see things a bit
differently from Dave. He thought the show might be a bit more varied and still keep true to what Dave intended. It
marked the first time Billy stopped exalting Dave and brought him back down to earth. Dave was just another guy
with opinions, like himself.
The school year progressed and Billy and Dave had become close friends. They began to speak on the phone
regularly, almost daily. They would meet for meals at the cafeteria. But it wasn’t until one night in mid-April that
Billy realized just how close they had become.
As Dave rifled through his LP crate, he sighed. “Just a few weeks more,” he said. He was, of course, referring to graduation.
“Oh, that’s right,” Billy said. “You’re graduating. So what’s next for you? You gonna keep doing this and look for a job?”
“I already got a job,” said Dave. He stopped and looked Billy square in the eyes. “I’m working for my dad’s company.”
Billy stared at him. Dave’s dad in Sacramento? That didn’t make sense.
“Huh? How’s that gonna work?”
“What do you mean? I’m going to California after I graduate. I’m gonna help my dad run his company.”
“You mean you’re leaving? When, in the fall or something?”
“Nope. Just a few days after I graduate.”
“But-,” Billy gestured helplessly. “What about this?”
“What about it?” asked Dave. “It’s over, Billy. I’m done. It was fun but I gotta move on.”
“But you can’t move on, man. We need this. A lot of people need this.” I need this, Billy thought, but didn’t say.
Dave sighed again. He put his hands on Billy’s shoulders. “That’s the thing, Billy. Why do you think I
was happy to meet you? I knew I would have to give this up someday, but I had hoped that maybe I might meet someone
who could take over after I leave. Who was I gonna pick, Tavo? I love the guy, but-no, God no. I could turn it over to you
if you want it. You’re the only one who’s smart enough, together enough, and loves the music enough to do it.”
None of this was real, Billy thought. This can’t be happening.
“Are-are you sure, Dave? I-I’m…it means a lot that you think that, but really? Me?”
“Yes, you. Why not? I think you could do it, and I know this better than anybody. And you’re a
freshman. You could do this for three more years. At least,” he added, grinning.
“Wow, Dave, just…wow. I mean, yeah, it would be really cool to do this at some point. But how am
I gonna pay for all this?” Billy asked, pointing at Dave’s music and equipment.
“You can do DJ jobs over the summer for cash. It’s quick, easy money. And you can use that to pay
me back. But the one thing is that, either next week or the week after that, I need to see you do this at least once,
without me. You need to prove you can do this by yourself.”
Billy swallowed hard. Latino Metal Night, by himself? Was he ready for that?
And yet, even as he trembled with nerves, he also felt something he had never felt before. It was a
sure, steady feeling that he had been handed an opportunity that he had to seize. He actually felt that he had enough
courage to try. That surprised him more than anything. He had never felt that before. Not with school, not with
sports, and certainly not with girls. But he did with this.
It was time, he thought. It was finally time.
“Yes,” he said, the words surprising him as they came out of his mouth. “Yes, I want to try. Just tell
me everything I need to know and I will do one night by myself.”
Dave smiled. “Don’t worry, Billy. I’ll set you up.”
For the next week, every afternoon after classes, Billy would go to Big Dave’s apartment and Dave
would teach him everything he could. How to cue up songs on the turntables, CD players, and even cassette deck.
How to use the mixing board. How to speak into the microphone. How to handle rowdies. Billy asked Dave every
question he could think of and Dave answered. Still, Dave made it clear in no uncertain terms that much of the
time, Billy would just have to wing it and deal with things as they occurred. There was only so much planning and
preparation he could do.
Finally, Saturday night arrived. Billy was so nervous he hadn’t eaten more than a few bites all day and
brought some plastic water bottles to sip from in an attempt to ease his nerves. He and Dave arrived at the hall at 8:00
PM and started setting up. As they did, people slowly but surely started streaming in. Finally, everything was ready.
“Okay, Billy, I’m gonna leave you here. I’ll step out for a minute and then I’ll come back in, but
you won’t see me. I’ll be in the back somewhere in the darkness. If you screw up really bad, I’ll stop the show and
finish up for you, but that’s only if you have a massive, spectacular disaster. It would have to be like a Kiss show, with
flames and blood, only for real. Otherwise, I’ll just let you keep going until you pussy out. Got it?”
Billy nodded. “Pussy out. Got it.”
Dave grinned. “Don’t worry. You’ll do fine. Now get up there and get ready. It’s almost time to start.”
Dave left and Billy set up his headphones and cued up four songs. Then he checked his watch. It was 8:59 PM.
Billy looked out at the faces. They were staring at him, waiting expectantly for some music. He
swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and forced his face into a smile.
“How you doin’, tonight?” he exclaimed into the microphone. “Are you ready to rock?”
“Hell, yeah!” the crowd roared.
“All right, then let’s do it! My name is Billy and this is Latino Metal Night! And we’re gonna start
with a classic! It’s Judas Priest with ‘Take on the World!’ Let’s go!” And he immediately started the turntable and
pulled up the fader, as the song’s opening chords blasted from the speakers.
Then he watched, his heart bursting with pride, as the crowd went just as crazy as they had for any
of Big Dave’s shows. Tavo was the craziest of all, and he seemed to be leading everyone else in slam-dancing and
For the rest of the night, he kept playing music, carefully using the mixing board like Dave had
taught him. He had picked a list of heavy hitters, artists and songs that were real crowd-pleasers, but he was careful
to intersperse a few songs that he liked that Big Dave might not have picked. So, for instance, in between Ozzy
Osbourne’s “Flyin’ High Again” and Megadeth’s “In My Darkest Hour” he slipped in “Runnin’ With the Devil.” It
was a way to demonstrate that while he respected Big Dave’s judgment, he would also try to make the show his own.
That he had the self-confidence to do so surprised him, and yet he realized he wasn’t afraid anymore. He had found
one place where he had no self-doubt or self-consciousness.
Of course, he knew he had to keep on his toes. He had been apprehensive that he would bump
one of the turntables, or make the CD player skip, or pull up the wrong fader. He had been especially worried that
he would say something awkward or stupid, which was a perpetual fear he had that kept him restrained. But as the
night went on, he felt more assured. This could actually work.
About halfway through the show, he felt something else. He felt a newfound pride. Here he was in a
roomful of Latinos, just like himself. They didn’t seem to feel ashamed of who they were, and he realized he didn’t either.
Who was going to discriminate against him here? So he actually started doing his announcements partly in Spanish, like
calling the crowd “hermanos y hermanas.” Speaking Spanish in public might not have seemed rebellious to others, but for
Billy it was a giant step. He was who he was and he no longer felt any inhibitions about that.
The night went on and on. He fumbled his words a few times on the microphone, and yet the crowd
didn’t laugh at him. Instead they were warm and encouraging. Some of his transitions were a little rougher than he
wanted and yet no one seemed to notice. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the music and having a good time. He
could not have asked for a better night.
When he finally checked his watch again, he was shocked that it was already 2 AM. Time had flown by, and
Big Dave had not come up. So he announced the last song, which was “Antisocial” by Anthrax and told the audience
goodnight. He then couldn’t resist adding, “So this was my first night filling in for Big Dave. Que tal, amigos?” The
resulting roars and cheers gave him a feeling unlike any he had ever felt in his life. The elation and warmth were
something he would never forget.
Finally, Billy sat back, relieved. It was over. He had done it. He had actually done it by himself. He
had found the courage to take a chance and he had won.
He was not the timid loser kid anymore. He didn’t imagine he would ever be again.
Tavo came up to him and slapped him hard on the back. “That was fuckin’ awesome, Billy! You
gonna do the show now?”
Billy couldn’t help smiling. “Thanks, Tavo. And yeah, I’m gonna do some more shows from now on.”
Tavo slapped him hard on the back again. “That’s fuckin’ great Billy! I’ll see you next week!” As he walked
away, he let out a loud bellow that nearly shattered Billy’s eardrums. But Billy was so elated that he didn’t even mind.
As he started packing up the gear, he heard Dave’s voice coming over the murmur of the departing
crowd. He looked up to see Dave approaching him, grinning.
“So, you did great. Congratulations, I knew you could do it.”
Billy was thrilled. “You didn’t even come up to correct me once. You stayed at the back of the hall the whole time.”
“Yep. And I’m glad I did. You didn’t need me at all. I knew you wouldn’t. It’s all yours if you want it, Billy.
Billy felt as calm and eerily relaxed as he had ever felt in his life. “I do want it, Dave. And thank
you.” He stuck out his hand to shake Dave’s.
Dave looked at Billy’s hand. Then he reached over and hugged Billy, slapping him on the back.
“Tu eres mi hermano,” he said quietly. Then he walked away.
Billy couldn’t believe the night was over. He put his headphones down and packed up all of Dave’s
gear, slipping the records back into crates, carefully sorting the CDs and unplugging the components from the board
and locking them in Dave’s hard-shelled carrying cases. Finally, after a lot of work, he was done. Exhausted, he
stepped outside, holding his water bottle.
He took a sip from the bottle. As he did, he looked up at the sky. It was that strange mixture of gray,
blue, and black that makes up the early hours of morning. The sun wasn’t up yet, but it was coming. After an intense
night of noise and craziness, Billy savored the relative tranquility. He sat on the steps of the doorway and watched
the early morning pass by. It was a new day, and Billy felt young. He had a whole world in front of him and the rest
of life to be who he always wanted to be.
Your Eyes Tell
I know fear
I've felt it before
Not just what you feel when you see a spider
But the feeling that your world is collapsing
When your entire life feels naught and everything that matters is in this moment,
That's two sides of the same coin
But one side is often overlooked
It's forgotten about
It's purposely pushed from our minds
Something we don't want to think about because maybe if we don't, it'll go away
Maybe it won't hurt us anymore
I don’t know what it is
But my mind knows the pain
What is it?
What is it?
I think in vain
Your eyes were blue in the daytime
Bright and sharp
But never cold
Pastel and crystalline
In a little less light they were stormy gray
Like rain clouds on the horizon
Threatening and mysterious
But still soft gentle clouds
At night you're eyes were dark
Reflecting the night sky
Inky but never without a drop of light
Where did that light come from?
If it was not the streetlight that shown, it was the moon, If not the moon, then it must have been the
This 1 .
1 In 2002, after a disastrous attempt at being a computer programmer and an equally disastrous attempt to start a
romance with someone who wasn’t interested in me, the depression that had been eating at me for several years finally won. I
turned into a walking zombie. I moved back home with my mom and alcoholic father and essentially lived in my room for the
next eight years. I wrote CD and DVD reviews for different websites but that was the extent of contact I had with the outside
world during that time. I spoke to no other human beings except my family and any clerks at stores I could occasionally
be bothered to go to once or twice a month if that. It was an existence singularly defined by my inability to communicate in
person with almost any other human beings. I could write entirely on the computer but could barely open my mouth to people
and chose to simply live in my room most of the time, sleeping and eating whenever I needed to, though never for pleasure.
My mental health issues had left me utterly incapable of functioning in any way, shape, or form as an adult.
This every day 2 .
Day after day 3 .
2 Every day was gray. It did not matter how sunny it was, or how pleasant, or what happened in the outside world. My
only memories of that period are endless grays, a dull colorless haze hanging over the same four walls I looked at every day, or
even the rare times I would go outside. Food had no flavor. I had no ability to feel pleasure. I could not even fantasize about
anything or anyone. I was a piece of furniture.
3 When I mention that I got no pleasure out of anything, this is what I mean. For some reason, the only meal I can
remember from this entire period is a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce. Yet I cannot remember what it tasted like, or if
it smelled good, or even how it felt in my mouth. Instead, in my mind, I can only recall it as a two-dimensional picture, like
something I saw in a magazine. I can still remember juicy cactus fruits I ate as a child in Mexico, before I even emigrated to
the U.S. I can remember delicious steaks I ate with my family on outings during summer vacations in high school. Yet from
these eight years of my adult life, I can only remember one meal, and I can’t even remember the flavor, the smell, or the texture.
It exists in my mind only as a flat, artificial image. That’s indicative of how little emotional or physical connection I have to
such a sizable period of my life.
Nothing is real 4 .
Empty 5 .
4 Writing CD and DVD reviews was a good way of seeing and hearing the outside world without actually having to
participate in it. I had no strength to live in the world . I would submit lists of what CDs and DVDs I wanted to review, receive
them through the mail, then submit my reviews online, all without ever speaking to another person. Those reviews would
then vanish from my memory, almost as soon as I had finished writing them. (Indeed, to this day, whenever I read them, they
seem as if they were written by someone else.) The CDs and DVDs were my only window into what real human beings were
living through. The people in those discs were alive and experiencing life, love, pleasure, happiness, pain, renewal, and hope. I
felt none of those things. They were meant for other people. I could feel nothing else, but that void I felt in my bones.
5 I knew, on some level, that I couldn’t stand to live like this. Yet I also thought I had no choice, because I had no emotional
strength to figure out how to break free. The only time my emotions would awaken would be when my father would erupt into one
of his abusive drinking jags and attack my mom or me verbally. Then after consoling my mom, it would take all of my strength just
to get back to my numbness. That was the most I could expect. I didn’t even want to die then. I felt like dying would take effort, and I
had no energy to spare at that time.
Never changing 6 .
No feelings 7 .
6 I knew just how isolated I had become when I received a jury summons in 2005. I had already served on a jury
several years before, so I knew what to expect. When I saw the summons letter, I had a panic attack. I hyperventilated and felt
terrified. The thought of talking to another human being was torture enough, but a room full of eleven other people? I couldn’t
imagine a greater horror. I went to the courthouse, screaming inside as I sat in a room full of a hundred strangers and tried
desperately to not draw attention in any way. I was not chosen or called for any jury and got home as fast as possible. I went
back to my room and was even more convinced that I was unfit to be around other people.
7 I wish I could say that the birth of my niece in 2006 made things better, but sadly in some ways it made them worse.
I became even more ashamed. I would look down at her tiny, helpless little self in her crib and think, “God, I hope I don’t
infect you with my poison.” I loved her (still do) and tried to help out with her but could not help feeling that I was even more
useless. My sister was having a child and I couldn’t even get myself together enough to get out of my room. Clearly, I was
wrong and a loser who just needed to get over myself. Certainly, the prevailing opinion of much of my family (not my mom,
but especially my father) was that I was just a lazy leech.
Nothing is forever 8 .
Nothing ends 9 .
8 How did it end? Early in 2010, I was reviewing a DVD with a storyline about unrequited love. For reasons I will
never understand, it unleashed a flood of memories, which then unlocked all of the emotions I had not been feeling for most
of the decade. That process consisted of me becoming increasingly more emotionally erratic for a couple of weeks, which
meant laughing, crying, and becoming angry with no provocation whatsoever, until at the end I finally exploded into screaming
and weeping. I then sank to the bottom of the ocean and wanted to drown. I planned out my suicide and began a pattern
of self-harming, like cutting my chest with a knife and smashing my skull against a cement floor repeatedly, because I hated
myself for existing and wanted to shut off the unbearable anguish I felt. That lasted for most of the year, and then, gradually, I
became a different person. The person I was finally died, and I sloughed him off like a snake sheds its skin. I was not better or
worse, but different. I awoke from a deep sleep, and needed to start over, learning how to be around other people, all the way
from the beginning again. It felt like I had a long, long way to go.
9 I remember the first day I finally decided to rejoin the world. In October 2010, I was waiting outside a neighborhood
center in South Tucson, where I would volunteer with at-risk elementary school children. The sun seemed painfully bright.
Everything seemed loud and unnatural. Yet something in me insisted that I be there, and to my surprise, I found I enjoyed
helping the kids. It couldn’t entirely fill the hole the depression left inside of me, but at least it soothed my newfound hunger
for connection. Now I was working with children, when before I couldn’t even be around other humans. By the end of 2011,
I was living in my own apartment and earning my rent and food money by going out to work every day. I did not become the
person I always wanted to be, because even now I am not him. But at least I wasn’t there, living in nothing, anymore. More
pain and horror would await me, but I did not know that then. Even when the horrors came, I did not go back there. I don’t
ever want to go back there.
Now I am here.
of the Knowing
In Joy Harjo’s memoir Crazy Brave, Harjo describes her journey from pre-birth to surviving various layers of
abuse, including child abuse, domestic abuse, racism, and alcoholism. Harjo overcomes these tragic life circumstances
and eventually becomes a successful poet, writer, musician, and educator. Along the path, there were many people and
forces in Harjo’s life that subdued and almost silenced her spirituality and creativity. However, one invisible force in
Harjo’s life sought to guide, protect, and keep the inner flames of her creativity and spirituality alive. Analyzing this
highly influential force, Harjo refers to as the knowing, offers insight into her life and Art.
In order to begin to understand the knowing, it is essential to consider Harjo’s earliest life memories.
As a very young child, Harjo was riding in the back seat of her father’s Cadillac when the jazz music playing
on the radio appeared to put her into a type of trance as she felt “suspended in whirling stars” (Harjo 17).
The music seems to serve as a bridge to the spiritual realm of Harjo’s past lives and those of her ancestors.
According to Scalici, music can act as a bridge between the visible world of humans and the invisible world of
the spirits and emotions (Scalici 150). Similarly, Harjo accessed the invisible, spiritual realm, shared ancient
memories, and also revealed that she had a special purpose when she wrote, “I was entrusted with carrying
voices, songs, and stories to grow and release into the world, to be of assistance and inspiration. These were my
responsibility. I am not special. It is this way for everyone” (Harjo 20).
Harjo appears to be gifted and skilled with a high level of intuition that allows her to tap into the
spiritual realms, yet she claims not to be special. I believe that she is right, that it is “this way for everyone.” I
think we’re all born with an innate spiritual connection, the knowing. Still, many of us lose touch with it and
forget, as the following discussion about Harjo’s childhood connection to Nature illustrates.
When Harjo was a young child, she was very in tune with Nature and the plants and creatures around her
home and would even “go outside early in the morning to talk with the sun” (Harjo 83). As Harjo wrote, “In those
early years I lived in a world of animal powers. Most children do. In those years we are still close to the door of
knowing” (Harjo 39). She still had an innocent faith and connection to the harmony and balance of Nature. Harjo
enjoyed catching bees and telling them stories as she held them in her hands. The bees humored her and allowed
Harjo to move them about as though they were actors in her play. Until one day, a neighbor startled Harjo and
warned her the bees would sting her. She listened to the neighbor and got stung (Harjo 40). Her absolute trust in the
natural world was broken, and she stopped playing with the bees. Sadly most adults do not believe children’s stories
of special friends or travels. As children listen to skeptical adults, many stop sharing their stories and eventually lose
that magical connection to Nature and the spiritual realms. Fortunately, like Harjo, some children continue to nurture
their connection to the spiritual realms and their innate knowing by creative means such as drawing, writing, music,
or communing with Nature.
Harjo first discovered her love for poetry when she was eight years old. Her mother gave her a book of poetry
for her birthday, and she wrote, “I loved poetry. It was singing on paper. And to open that book was to disappear
into many dream worlds” (Harjo 50). Through poetry, Harjo begins a lifelong journey that allows her to nurture her
connection to the spiritual realms.
Not long after her introduction to poetry, Harjo’s mother divorced her alcoholic and womanizing husband.
Many men soon court her beautiful mother. A white man seventeen years older than her mother charms them all,
and Harjo’s mother marries him. He soon uproots the family and moves them to a home on Independence Street.
Harjo finds that street name ironic because “in that house, I had nightmares and premonitions of evil” (Harjo 57). Her
intuition proves to be true as after the first night, he whips her five-year-old sister with a belt and eventually abuses all
of them physically and emotionally. Harjo begs her mother to leave him. “My mother confided that there was no way
we could leave. He said he would kill her and her children if she divorced him” (Harjo 59). It’s unfortunate that there
was little help for abused women and children during that era, particularly Native Americans.
Her stepfather’s unpredictable physical and emotional abuse forced Harjo to hibernate into herself. As Harjo
withdrew, her inner light was doused by a heavy load of mandatory household duties. School became her refuge, and
to help cope with her difficult home life, she studied and made good grades. During this time, Harjo was dispirited
and wrote, “ I imagine this place in the story as a long silence. It is an eternity of gray skies. It runs the length of late
elementary school through adolescence” (Harjo 63). It appeared that Harjo’s knowing had also become dormant as she
no longer nurtured her spirituality.
However, one of her pet goldfish flipped itself out of its bowl one day, and she accidentally stepped on it. The
fish was flattened, oozed blood, and when she put it back in its bowl, it lay on its side as though dead. Harjo then “went
into deep prayer for the life of this fish. I felt my heart open and the heart of the fish open. I felt at peace” (Harjo 64).
Harjo then continued her chores, and when she returned, the fish was swimming in the bowl. “In that small moment,
I felt the presence of the sacred, a force as real and apparent as anything else in the world, present and alive, as if it
were breathing. I wanted to catch hold, to remember utterly, and never forget. But the current of hard reality reasserted
itself. I had to have the house cleaned just right, or my stepfather would punish me. So I continued on my path of
forgetfulness” (Harjo 64). This incident is significant because I believe her knowing tried to make its presence known.
When Harjo felt her heart open, it was as though her heart held the key to a source of power that unlocked inner
wisdom, healing, and peace. Even though she may not have understood the message, her knowing had not abandoned
Harjo; her inner flame was still ablaze within.
The first time Harjo actually writes about the knowing is when she is walking home from a theatre meeting,
sees her stepfather’s car in the driveway, and feels a warning in her gut. Harjo wrote, “The knowing was a powerful
warning system that stepped forth when I was in danger. Still, I often disregarded it” (Harjo 74). Even though her
mother had given her permission to attend the meeting, her stepfather disapproved. Harjo described the way he smiled
at her as he yanked her into the house, beat her for a long time with his belt, and forbade her from trying out for the
play (Harjo 75).
After this incident, Harjo stopped caring about what happened to her. She lied to her mother to attend a party
and argued at the knowing, who warned her not to attend. Sadly, Harjo did not listen to the knowing and suffered the
consequences. Harjo described going to a party by the lake with a classmate who later abandoned her. Harjo panicked
because she didn’t know how she would get home before her curfew. As she wrote, “If I were to show up late and
drunk, I feared I could be beaten to death. I found a ride and paid for it without money. I had nothing else, and I was
desperate and out-of-my-mind drunk. I left part of myself behind” (Harjo 76). It is deeply troubling that she felt she
had no other option, and rather than suffer another abusive beating by her stepfather, she let strangers use her body
and take a part of her self-esteem in order to find a way home.
After that party, Harjo continued to drink, and her stepfather wanted to get rid of her and send her to a
Christian school. He also entered her room after her mother left for work and inappropriately rubbed her back as she
pretended to sleep. Harjo felt desperate to get away and considered hitchhiking to San Francisco, where she would
prostitute herself. To Harjo selling her body would be preferable to her stepfather using it for his pleasure or being sent
away and imprisoned in a Christian school. Fortunately, the knowing saves Harjo from making a dangerous decision,
and the following passage exquisitely acknowledges Harjo’s faith and trust in the knowing:
“Though I was blurred with fear, I could still hear and feel the knowing. The knowing was my rudder, a
shimmer of intelligent light, unerring in the midst of this destructive, terrible, and beautiful life. It is a strand
of the divine, a pathway for the ancestors and teachers who love us. My knowing told me that if I ran away,
my life would turn even more chaotic. I saw my potential path as it ran from Tulsa to San Francisco. My
lifeline was frayed and cut short. . . The knowing told me there was another way. The knowing always spoke
softly, wisely” (Harjo 81-82).
After the knowing whispered wise words of advice, Harjo learns about an opportunity to go to the Institute of
American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. She applied, submitted her original Art to be considered, and was accepted.
After arriving in Santa Fe, Harjo wrote, “I was fresh from escaping the emotional winter of my childhood. I had been
set free” (Harjo 84). Harjo felt the strength and inspiration she had last experienced in her early childhood years and
knew that she was on the right path where her spirit could find a place to heal and where her creativity could thrive.
At the school, Harjo discovers a luminous connection to theater, where she can tap deep within her subconscious
and “ . . . enter the dreaming realm” (Harjo 114 ). Theatre was where she truly felt herself, and she went on a tour which
was a highlight of her life. Unfortunately, after the tour ends, the glowing embers of her creativity and spirituality
descend into darkness, and Harjo has to face the consequences of poor choices. She is secretly pregnant by her older
boyfriend and returns to her stepfather’s house. With no plans for the future, Harjo eventually leaves Tulsa to join her
irresponsible boyfriend. At the young age of 18, Harjo gives birth to their son in a depressing Indian hospital. The
doctor who delivered her baby touched her mechanically and treated her as just another statistic. Harjo wrote that
the following day, “When I finally got to hold my boy, the nurse stood guard as if I would hurt him. I was young and
Indian and therefore ignorant” (Harjo 124 ). How deplorable that the racist doctors and nurses barely recognized her
During this period of Harjo’s life, she seemed lost in the darkness of a dreary existence as she wrote, “My
days were consumed with the drudgery of survival” (Harjo 135). Harjo, her beer-drinking husband, and their children
struggled to survive on low-paying, meaningless jobs.
Eventually, the knowing, who had gone dormant, appeared to awaken as Harjo wrote, “I could hear my
abandoned dreams making a racket in my soul” (Harjo 135). Harjo and her husband are both unhappy that they
abandoned their artistic dreams and returned to Santa Fe with the children. Harjo soon discovers that her husband is
cheating on her with the babysitter and leaves him. Harjo was able to get money from her tribe and studied Art at the
University of New Mexico. After her divorce was finalized, Harjo met and fell in love with a Pueblo man who recited
poetry to her. “His poetry opened one of the doors in my heart that had been closed since childhood” (Harjo 141).
Unfortunately, he turned out to be an alcoholic who physically and emotionally abused her. Despite the abuse, they
loved each other, had a daughter together and tried to make things work. Harjo immersed herself in her university
studies and Art while managing debilitating panic attacks and nightmares.
One night when her husband was away, she watched a television show about a healing shaman who chanted,
sang, and danced. As she watched the show, she felt like the shaman “became the poem he was singing… He became
a transmitter of healing energy, with poetry, music, and dance” (Harjo 154). This shaman is a revelation for Harjo, who
correspondingly perceives that her life purpose is to “become the poem, the music, and the dancer” (Harjo 154). And
after this epiphany, Harjo begins to write poetry.
Harjo continued her studies but became increasingly more aware of the unhealthy and dangerous effect her
husband had on her as he often turned into a violent alcoholic. After a week-long drinking binge, he kicked in their
house’s door and back window and threatened to kill Harjo. She did not take him back that time, and Harjo eventually
After he left, Harjo partied on weekends and eventually into the weekday. The knowing showed her the path
of the never-ending party she was on. Harjo seemed to want to change and would tell herself, “Today will be the day,
and then I would open up another beer to deaden my knowing” (Harjo 159). Despite attempts to ignore and drown
the knowing in beer, Harjo eventually listens to the knowing and takes the other, healthier path.
Harjo continued on as a student earning scholarships, making excellent grades, and publishing poems in the
University magazine. She appeared to have it all together on the surface, but she continued to struggle with panic
and nightmares. Then, one night amid an anxiety-filled dream with a monster chasing her, Harjo’s knowing reminded
her that she knew how to fly. Harjo thought about the word fly, and in her dream, she was able to fly away from the
monster, and she felt free (Harjo 161). After this dream, Harjo’s inner light seemed to merge with the spirit of poetry
as she beautifully wrote:
One Example of the Hazy History of
the United States’ Drug Policy
“It was the spirit of poetry who reached out and found me as I stood there at the doorway between panic and love” . . .
“To imagine the spirit of poetry is much like imagining the shape and size of the knowing. It is a kind of resurrection
light; it is the tall ancestor spirit who has been with me since the beginning, or a bear or a hummingbird”. … “ I will
teach you. I followed poetry” (Harjo 163-64).
Poetry seems to give Harjo’s life meaning, direction, and a sense of reawakening. In addition, poetry also
serves as a savior for Harjo, as Root corroborated when he wrote that “Harjo has consistently identified poetry as a
literal method of survival” (Root). In Root’s article, Harjo is quoted as saying, “I don’t believe I would be alive today, if
it hadn’t been for writing” (Root).
Through poetry, Harjo seemed to connect to her inner spirit, where her heart is opened to her innate wisdom
and healer within. These precious inner treasures were instrumental in transforming her creativity and spirituality into
poetry, painting, and music. From Harjo’s earliest childhood memories, she recognized that she had a special purpose
and her knowing helped guide Harjo on her life journey. With the help of Harjo’s knowing, the spirit of poetry seemed
to chase the darkness from her life and allowed the golden rays of the sun to harvest the beauty of her inner light. As a
result, as an artist, Harjo is free to spread her wings, soar like a hummingbird, and enjoy the sweetness and spirit of life.
Harjo, Joy. Crazy Brave, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012.
Root, William Pitt. “About Joy Harjo.” Ploughshares, Issue 95, Winter 2004-05.
Scalici, Giorgio. “Music and the invisible world: Music as a bridge between different realms.” Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy,
Special Issue 11 (1), November 2019, p. 150.
Last semester, I wrote an essay about the unjust and oppressive history of the United States’ drug policy.
The essay touched on history from the very beginning of the war on drugs, with opium laws being used to target
Asian American immigrants during the early 20 th century, to more contemporary policies such as the crack versus
powder sentencing disparity which targeted black crack cocaine users. There is a fair amount of scholarly literature
surrounding these topics, so I felt confident that they supported my claim—that the United States has used their
drug policy not to protect people, but rather to oppress them—quite well. However, in the essay, I cited an obscure
piece of drug policy that doesn’t have as much scholarly literature and criticism surrounding it, the Marihuana Tax
Act of 1937. I cited this act as one which targeted Mexican American immigrants in the southwest who, like Asian
Americans with opium, brought over and spread the use of cannabis. Although this obscure piece of drug policy
history was only mentioned in passing in my essay, it still bothered me that it was not concrete or empirical evidence
that supported the main claim. Now, since the Intercultural Perspectives class has been studying Mexican American
history, it is a good time to answer a question I’ve had for a while: Was the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 meant to
oppress Mexican Americans in the Southwest? To answer this question, first the act itself must be defined, explored,
and laid out. Then, the factors that contributed to the passage of this act must be looked at. Finally, historical trends
in drug use should be examined and subsequently, how the drugs became available should be looked at as well.
Technically a revenue raising act, The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 did not make cannabis illegal. Instead,
it imposed taxes on growers, medical professionals, and importers. Importers had a particularly extreme tax (Padwa
and Cunningham 569). Additionally, by federal law, anyone who grew, transported, prescribed, or sold the drug
needed to register their product to pay the tax. But, since many state governments made cannabis illegal prior to
1937, doing so would be an act of self-incrimination. Overall, even though the act did not make cannabis illegal,
it did place regulations so tight that effectively nobody could use it legally. Oddly enough, the Federal Bureau of
Narcotics, or FBN for short (the predecessor agency of the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA), did not
seem to give much mind to cannabis use at first. In fact, according to the article “Marihuana Tax Act,” the FBN “at
first doubted the constitutionality of proposed federal laws for marijuana control, and feared that marijuana laws
would be difficult to enforce” due to how easily the plant could be grown on American soil in comparison to opium
and coca plants (Padwa and Cunningham 569). However, in the mid-1930s, pressure from local police forces in
the southwestern U.S. and pleas from state-level officials led to an all-out anti-marijuana campaign led by Henry J.
Anslinger, the head of the FBN at the time (Kinder, Douglas C. and Walker III, William O. 909). In October 1937,
the act passed despite resistance from medical professionals who believed the control of cannabis was unjust and
During the 1910s and 1920s, there was a somewhat common association of cannabis with Mexicans in
the United States. During the 1930s, this trend became more popular (Griffin III, O.Hayde., et al 772). Mexican
immigrants were willing to work for extremely low wages compared to their Anglo counterparts, which led to a
dramatic increase in the competition for jobs. Cannabis use was not widely accepted, even by Mexican Americans,
but their association with the drug was already stereotypical—due in part to the all-out anti-marijuana campaign
waged by the FBN some years earlier. Cannabis use, whether real or imagined, was seen as a justification by
employers to favor white workers over Mexican laborers when it came to employment during the Great Depression.
It was used as a scapegoat—protection against employers so they wouldn’t come off as explicitly racist. Because
Mexican people themselves were stigmatized and “feared as a source of crime and deviant social behavior,” in turn
cannabis was viewed this way too (Campos 10). Also adding to the public fear of cannabis was the propaganda film
Reefer Madness, a public health and safety video alarming people of the dangers of “marihuana addiction.” Despite
its own admittedly fictional content, the film had a great impact on the public perception of cannabis nationwide.
It’s a matter of debate whether or not Mexicans immigrating to the United States popularized cannabis.
Mexico was regulating cannabis well over a decade before the United States passed The Marihuana Tax Act. In
1920, Mexico banned the sale, production, and recreational use of cannabis and in 1927 banned its export as well.
Perhaps this contributed to the migration of Mexicans northwards, where there weren’t any prohibitionist laws
surrounding the plant. However, a recent scholarly article analyzing Mexican immigrants’ role in the passage
The Pandemic's Collateral
of The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 strongly suggests that cannabis use in Mexico was not as common as many
people, especially scholars, have been led to believe (Campos 16). The common scholarly narrative concerning the
popularization of cannabis in the United States is that it was the masses of Mexican immigrants—habitual cannabis
smokers—who came to the U.S. looking for jobs during the economic boom of the industrial revolution who turned
out to be the ones to spread the use of cannabis. This makes sense, because cannabis was introduced to Mexico by
Spain in the 16 th century, who encouraged them to grow hemp and use the fiber to make ropes and other goods.
That being said, there is hardly any evidence that cannabis was consumed in Mexico for its psychoactive effects other
than by soldiers and prisoners (Campos 5). It’s an idea that’s quite far off of the accepted scholarly narrative—one
that proposes that cannabis was to Mexico as alcohol is to America. Furthermore, prior to The Marihuana Tax Act
of 1937, cannabis was pharmaceutically distributed by many big-name companies in the United States (Campos 22).
Either the drug truly never gained popularity in the U.S. until Mexican immigrants arrived, or possibly the drug’s
popularity was understated by those who used it to avoid an associated drug stigmatism.
The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 is without a doubt a piece of an unjust and oppressive drug policy.
However, the problem I wanted to answer was whether or not it was used to directly oppress Mexican Americans.
There is conflicting and contradictory evidence for both sides. On one hand, yes, there was a common association
of Mexicans with marijuana during the early 20 th century. However, the associations and stereotypes may or may
not have been entirely accurate—Mexicans did use marijuana, but not to the extent that is commonly proposed and
accepted. On the other hand, regardless of whether or not the associations and stereotypes connecting Mexicans
to marijuana were entirely true, they were common, accepted, and not questioned by the public. Public opinion
does have an effect on the laws and policies passed in the United States. Now, could the white population have
held a grudge towards Mexicans who were giving them strong competition for labor? I believe that is pretty wellestablished
as true. Since Mexicans were proven laborers willing to work at extraordinarily low wages, how could
they be replaced? Was the only way to force them out and invalidate their work ethic by means of a federal drug
law? Sure, it would make a great contribution to the narrative that the United States’ drug policy has its roots deep
in racism and oppression, irrefutably validating a call for a fundamental reform, but everything I now know being
considered, I still can’t say in a definite manner. I do think any law created during the early 20 th century has some
component of racism to it, however, there’s seemingly plausible deniability built into these laws and policies. Where
anything could be refuted and debated endlessly, this is especially true for The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
Campos, Isaac. “Mexicans and the Origins of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States: A Reassessment.” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, Volume 32,
University of Chicago Press, 2018, pp. 6-37. www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/SHAD320100. Accessed 25 March 2021.
Kinder, Douglas C. and Walker III, William O. “Stable Force in a Storm: Harry J. Anslinger and United States Narcotic Foreign Policy, 1930-1962.” The
Journal of American History, vol. 72, no. 4, Mar. 1986, pp. 908–927. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2307/1908896.
Griffin III, O.Hayde., et al. “Sifting through the Hyperbole: One Hundred Years of Marijuana Coverage in The New York Times.” Deviant Behavior, vol. 34,
no. 10, Oct. 2013, pp. 767–781. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/01639625.2013.766548.
Padwa, Howard, and Jacob A. Cunningham. “Marihuana Tax Act (1937).” Drugs in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and
the Law, edited by Nancy E. Marion and Willard M. Oliver, vol. 2, ABC-CLIO, 2015, pp. 568-570. Gale eBooks, link.gale.com/apps/doc/
CX6199400271/GVRL?u=pima_main&sid=GVRL&xid=a30b64d5. Accessed 23 March 2021.
The Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has experienced racism and xenophobia since the
creation of the United States. Labeled as “model minorities” the racist acts against the AAPI community have been
largely overlooked until the pandemic, but the silver lining of this surge of violence is it brings awareness and allows
more opportunities for bystanders to be educated about what they can do to stop these racist acts. The United States
is no stranger to racism, but frequently overlooked is the racism the AAPI people face. It usually takes the form of
microaggressions with snide remarks about their cultural foods and customs or negative stereotypes such as squinted
eyes or fetishization. But recent events have turned these microaggressions into a much more serious problem. Some
believe that Asain people have brought it upon themselves for “starting the virus,” but even such a reason cannot be
used to explain the vile acts of hatred and violence used against them.
Since the late 1700’s, the AAPI community has been degraded due to their “unusual” taste in food, cultural
practices, physical appearances, and many other factors. Even with these traits that set them apart, they became
known as model minorities. Joseph Dewey defined this term as a “Model minority is a pop sociology term used
to describe a ethnic, racial, or religious minority group that, overcoming discrimination and economic hardship,
has achieved measurable socioeconomic success in the process of assimilating into the dominant culture” (Dewey).
This term however, is extremely flawed in that it over simplifies the process of assimilation into another culture and
country as Dewey describes later in the text. The ones who coined the term claimed that Asians were successful
because they were submissive. The historical context in this claim was to diminish the African American civil
rights movement by setting Asians as the standard for minorities. Due in part to its purpose of pushing a political
agenda it had no basis in truth. Largely due to this claim and others similar, Asians were subjected to a whole slew
of stereotypes including ones such as Asians are” smart” or “good at math.” Since then, the belief of a supposed
inherent socioeconomic success in AAPI, the racism directed toward them has been overlooked since Asians were
There aren't just stereotypes about Asians being successful though. Some stereotypes are more minor
like “Asians can’t drive” but others are a lot more harmful. One stereotype is the fetishization of Asian females.
Women, who are already weary of predators, must take extra precautions if they are of Asian descent because of this
objectifying stereotype. Unfortunately, there has been a recent example of the predation on Asian women for this
reason, and it is commonly known as The Atlanta Shooting. On March 16, 2021, 8 people were killed in a shooting
spree in Atlanta, Georgia, 6 of which were Asian women. The perpetrator’s excuse for killing them was that they
were “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” referencing his fetish for Asian women (qtd in Chappell).
Societies' means of devaluing this incident was the reporting sheriff speaking about the perpetrator “Capt. Jay Baker,
said Wednesday that Long was ‘pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope. Yesterday was a really bad day
for him and this is what he did’”(Chappell). The sheriff states this as if having a “really bad day” excuses murder in
cold blood. This atrocity was disregarded by the reporting officer and likely many others, but luckily, in this case with
the many witnesses to this incident and other news sources, civilians have been able to advocate for the friends and
family who lost their loved ones that day.
The Atlanta Shooting was able to gain a lot of coverage by the media but other cases are not so fortunate
and have less resources devoted to them. From 2019 to 2020, the same time the world was plunged into a pandemic,
AAPI hate crimes have increased over 150%. Due to the fact that the virus originated in Wuhan, China, much
of the blame for the emergence of the virus was placed on Asian people. Derogatory terms such as “kung flu”
and “China virus” are being normalized and even endorsed by public figures. One recent instance of this was in
Queens, New York in march of 2021; “An Asian American woman was spit on three times and called “Chinese
virus” while out with her baby”(Samson). According to the news report from NextShark News the incident is
“under investigation as a possible hate crime,” but is there really any question this is a hate crime(Samson)? A young
woman walking with a baby nuzzled in her arms. They did nothing to provoke the man that assaulted them, the man
who blatantly disrespected them by spitting not once but three times at them, and the man who shouted at them
“Chinese virus!” Which is a known derogatory and racist term to Asian people. She was targeted because of what
she looked like and her story of assault is not the only one like it.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic there are those who believed the pandemic was a result of an Asian
eating a bat. Asian countries such as China have been blamed before for diseases due to their ‘unusua’ cultural foods,
“In separate interviews with reporters on March 18, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said China has been the source
of multiple recent contagions breaking out because of what he called a culture of eating some animals such as bats,
snakes and dogs.” (Mekelburg). Senator John Cornyn blames specifically China for the outbreak of this disease due
to the foods they eat. However, the practice of eating such foods has been a cultural normality and for years has
never been proven to create such widespread disease among the nation or its surrounding region. Blaming China for
the world’s problems with Covid-19 created a target on all AAPI’s and created the spike in hate crimes in America
against them. Have you ever been in a situation where someone has made an awkward comment and you felt it was
rude but didn’t know what to do about it so you just kept your head down and waited for it to pass? Or in a more
extreme case, have you ever witnessed blatant bullying or violence and all you could do was hope somebody would
come help? We’ve all felt this before to some degree but are rarely taught what we can do to help deal with it. A
program known as Hollaback devised the 5 D’s as methods of combating racism (Hollaback). The 5 D’s are distract,
delegate, document, delay, and direct. The distracting method is an indirect approach that distracts the aggressor. This
can be done by asking them a question or loudly dropping an item. To delegate is to get help from somebody else.
This can include finding someone of authority like a store employee, bus driver, or calling the police if the situation
requires it. Documentation is taking a video or pictures. Often people will mellow their actions or words after they
realize there is evidence that could harm them later, or they may not see that their actions and words are being
documented and these documentations could then be useful to the police for making a case. Delay is used after the
harassment has taken place. It can be a knowing glance or asking the victim how they are or if they need any help.
Lastly, direct is to speak up against the attacker. This can be done by naming and addressing their comments or
actions as rude and/or racist. You can name an observation such as “they seem to be uncomfortable, you should leave
them alone” or you can ask them to explain their racist comment. Asking them a question often puts them in a tight
corner, especially if they are being very passive aggressive. For example, “what did you mean by the ‘chinese virus?”
They cannot explain themselves without exposing their intentions.
The racism the AAPI community faces started as snide remarks and stereotypes but with the outbreak
of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Asain community being blamed for its start and global impact, the racism
has evolved into violence and destruction. Understanding and acknowledging this racism is the first step in order
to combat the spread of this deep seated racism. But these efforts can not stop at simply acknowledging it and
there are other strategies such as the 5 D’s that can be used to more effectively combat this racism. Tolerance and
understanding will also go a long way in ensuring the racism the AAPI struggles with will one day end.
Chappell, Bill, et al. “Official Who Said Atlanta Shooting Suspect Was Having A ‘Bad Day’ Faces Criticism: What We Know About Atlanta-Area
Spa Killings: Suspect Charged: NPR.” Chinese American Forum, vol. 36, no. 4, Apr. 2021, pp. 23–27. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.
Dewey, Joseph, PhD. “Model Minority.” Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2019. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.
“Hollaback! Together We Have the Power to End Harassment.” Hollaback! Together We Have the Power to End Harassment, 13 Aug. 2021, www.ihollaback.
Mekelburg, Madlin. “Fact-Check: Is Chinese Culture to Blame for the Coronavirus?” Statesman, Austin American-Statesman, 26 Mar. 2020,
Samson, Carl. “'Chinese Virus!': Asian Mom Gets Spit on 3 Times While Holding Her Baby in Queens.” NextShark, 12 Mar. 2021, nextshark.com/queenschinese-virus-mother-spat-on/.
Atomic Winds Whisper in
the Land of Enchantment
The novel, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolpho Anaya is more than a story of a young boy growing up in
New Mexico during the 1940s. It is an abstract journey in which Anaya leads us through various layers of social,
moral, and environmental issues. The wisdom embedded throughout the story seems to speak to each individual
personally. What resonates most to me is the importance of living in harmony with nature. Additionally, there is the
contrasting disharmony the ecosystem experiences from the destructive effects of nuclear testing. The human and
environmental damage is a reality I know all too well as I am a survivor of atomic testing and radiation fallout from
the 1960s. Although “atomic bombs” are mentioned by Anaya only four times in the novel, when viewed through
historical events, an ecocritical lens, and my personal experience with radiation fallout, those moments help us better
understand Anaya’s presentation of the balance and imbalance in nature.
At the beginning of the novel, Antonio reflects on the peaceful, pastoral life that he appreciates, as represented
by the following passage: “And I was happy with Ultima. We walked together in the llano and along the river banks to
gather herbs and roots for her medicines. She taught me the names of plants and flowers, of trees and bushes, of birds and
animals; but most important, I learned from her that there was a beauty in the time of day and in the time of night, and
that there was peace in the river and in the hills” (Anaya 16). This quote is meaningful because it illustrates a cherished
relationship with the land that Antonio develops when nature is in a state of harmony.
However, later in the novel, an ominous change in the weather precedes the end of World War II. The
following passage is the first of several references to unnatural and disruptive weather, which I believe have been caused
by the detonation of the first atomic bomb. “In the summer, the dust devils of the llano are numerous. They come from
nowhere, made by the heat of hell, they carry with them the evil spirit of a devil, they lift sand and papers in their
path” (Anaya 58). This quote seems to reference the tremendous amount of scattered sand and debris, which is part of
nuclear fallout in addition to radiation. It is uncharacteristic of the harmonious llano Antonio previously enjoyed.
Many people are unaware that the world’s first atomic bomb was not dropped on Japan but rather on the
beautiful State of New Mexico, whose motto is “The Land of Enchantment.” This first nuclear bomb was detonated
on July 16, 1945, in the central desert of New Mexico. The explosion created a tremendous force, the equivalent
of 20,000 tons of TNT, that lit up the sky. Additionally, thousands of tons of sand were sucked up by the blast and
formed a fiery mushroom cloud that rose 40,000 feet and was visible hundreds of miles away (Lenihan).
This description of the world’s first nuclear test ties in with Antonio’s thoughts when several months after
World War II ends, Antonio is reflecting on “The spring dust storms of the llano” and hears “many grown-ups blame
the harsh winter and the sandstorms of spring on the new bomb that had been made to end the war. ‘The atomic
bomb,’ they whispered, ‘a ball of white heat beyond the imagination, beyond hell—’ And they pointed south, beyond
the green valley of El Puerto” (Anaya 200). This passage is significant because it is the first time Anaya directly
mentions the “atomic bomb” and, in so doing, is making a condemning statement about a historical event that
changes the balance of nature in the world forever. The devastation from the atomic bomb is not an act of nature
but an act of man that threatens their way of life.
Since that initial atomic bomb in July of 1945, the US went on to test almost one thousand more nuclear
weapons in the US. Those tests released much radiation fallout into the ecosystem, resulting in devastating environmental
and health consequences. One of the atomic tests of 1962 affected me personally. At that time, local cows grazed on grass,
and their milk was locally distributed. A neighborhood “milkman” would deliver glass bottles filled with fresh, local milk
to residences. Although not recognized at the time, many children became sick from the radiation the cows ingested. I
remember the intense nausea I experienced from drinking the local milk. Afterward, I refused to drink milk and, to this
day, do not drink milk. Sadly, many children were diagnosed with leukemia or, later on, were diagnosed with various types
of cancer. I was diagnosed with early-stage colon cancer. My father was not as fortunate. He was diagnosed with aggressive
cancer and died ten days after his cancer diagnosis. Living in what was indeed America’s first “ground zero,” I imagine that
Anaya personally knew others who also experienced the devastating effects of nuclear fallout.
What was not clearly understood at that time was how important the ecosystem is and how
negatively it is impacted by nuclear fallout. In the novel, we learn the importance of the annual fall harvest, where
Antonio’s family gathers fruit and vegetables for the upcoming year. The people of New Mexico rely on their
crops and livestock to feed their families. They also rely on water from springs and rivers for their personal use
and to water their crops and livestock. Even Ultima taught Antonio the importance of treating nature with respect
so that the river and the land, in turn, would be good to them. However, after the first atomic bomb detonated,
the wind blew the radiation fallout all over, and the earth became poisoned. The cursed Tellez ranch that Antonio
visited with Ultima was perhaps a metaphor for some of the effects of radiation fallout. At the ranch, Antonio
describes unusual winds, dark clouds, and stones falling on the roof. He also notices the unpleasant taste of the water
and that there are no animals around the ranch. This is all unnatural and an example of nature being out of balance.
Another quote from the novel that perhaps represents Anaya’s cynicism of the scientists is, “Man was not made
to know so much,’ the old ladies cried in hushed, hoarse voices. ‘They compete with God, they disturb the seasons, they
seek to know more than God Himself. In the end, that knowledge they seek will destroy us all—’ And with bent backs
they pulled black shawls around their humped shoulders and walked into the howling winds” (Anaya 200-01). In
this passage, Anaya seems to reference the scientists who created the first nuclear bomb. This might even be aimed at
Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, Scientific Director, later known as the Father of the Atomic Bomb. Oppenheimer, ironically,
even named the atomic test site in New Mexico the Trinity. Could this be a religious reference to the Trinity of the
Father, the Son, and the holy ghost? My research into answering this question yielded inconclusive results. According
to an article in the Smithsonian magazine, when Oppenheimer was asked by General Groves why he chose the name
the Trinity, Oppenheimer responded, “why I chose the name is not clear, but I know what thoughts were in my mind”
(Rhodes). Oppenheimer may not have wanted to reveal himself to General Groves. He later recalled it came from a
John Donne poem called, “Holy Sonnets: Batter my heart, three-person'd God” (Rhodes). Perhaps the true meaning
behind naming the test site the Trinity will never be known. However, it seems as though Anaya felt Oppenheimer
and other scientists believed themselves to be all-knowing and perhaps as powerful as God. That is my interpretation of
the previous passage above as well as the following in which Anaya writes, “God knows everything. Man tries to know,
and his knowledge will kill us all” (Anaya 201). I believe Anaya viewed the “atomic bomb” as an evil act of man and
wanted to create awareness to warn humankind about the destructive effects of nuclear testing.
Anaya’s presentation of how the balance of nature is affected by nuclear testing, as well as my personal
experience with radiation fallout, illuminate the negative consequences and life-altering effects of testing nuclear
weapons. As Ultima is dying, she wants Antonio to understand that to “interfere with the destiny of any man [will]
create a disharmony that in the end reaches out and destroys life” (Anaya 275). Likewise, we cannot interfere with
nature and allow nuclear weapons to destroy humankind. We as a society have to understand the importance of a
healthy ecosystem. Every plant and animal, as well as the weather and the physical earth, all depend on each other to
live in harmony and balance with nature. We are blessed to all be connected in the precious circle of life.
Anaya, Rudolfo A. Bless Me, Ultima. Berkeley: TQS Publications, 1972.
Lenihan, Daniel J. “Ground Zero Revisited.” Natural History, vol. V104, no. n7, July 1995, p. 43. EBSCOhost,search.ebscohost.com/login.
Rhodes, Richard. “War and Piece: A Lowly Chunk of Earth Is a Telltale Trace of the Devastating Weapon That Would Change the World
Forever.” Smithsonian, vol. 50, no. 5, Sept. 2019, p.22. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgsc&AN=edsgcl.599053311&authty
Is a homeschooled high school senior currently enrolled in dual enrollment through Pima Community
College. Throughout her life she has loved ballet, reading, and writing. She is studying to become a nurse and
hopes to be able to continue writing as well.
2 0 2 2
Is currently attending Pima Community College with hopes of transferring to a university to further her
education. Ever since she was a child, she loved reading and writing about mostly everything. When she is not
writing she can be seen studying, hanging out with friends, or lounging on the couch and enjoying the day.
Carol Spitler Korhonen
Angelique Matus is Native American, from the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. A poet. Born in Tucson, Arizona. She has
won many poetry awards, along with being published in Eber and Wein, Where The Mind Dwells book. Most
of her poetry inspiration comes from her pain throughout her lifetime. She writes what may have been an ugly
experience for her, into something beautiful for others to read.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol comes from Michigan, but after one too many encounters with icy highways, moved to Tucson. After 20
years working as a lawyer, she is now desperately trying to make up for lost time. Her first attempts at writing
stories demonstrated her dire need for help and she has been taking writing classes at Pima College ever since.
Carol hopes that being part of a great literary magazine like SandScript indicates she is making progress. Carol
thanks all the writing teachers at Pima as well as John-her husband, Mochi-the cat, and especially her children
and grandchildren for all their help and support.
Ashley is currently pursuing a Visual Art degree at Pima Community College, and hopes to continue her
education by working towards a BFA.
Christeen grew up in Tucson and lives here with her husband, two children, dog and cat. She is majoring in English
at Pima. She has been writing poetry for many years, and hopes to someday publish a collection of poems.
Her inspiration for the painting "Best Friend" was her cherished pet cat, Pip.
A writer, poet, and performer, Christian Anderson has a passion for connecting to others through the art of
storytelling. Captivated by exploring abstract concepts and life experiences through the written word, he often
experiments with genre and tone.
Elizabeth is a Liberal Arts major at Pima Community College. She plans to transfer to the University of Arizona in
2023, where she will study for her bachelor’s degree in Linguistics. Before going to PCC, Elizabeth was homeschooled
for her whole life. She was born and raised in Tucson and still lives here with her family. Elizabeth has been writing small
stories since she was about seven years old but started seriously writing when she was around thirteen, though she had no
plans for publication. In 2022, she took her first short-story writing class, and her professor encouraged her to submit to
SandScript. She wasn’t sure she was going to but decided to send in an email on the last day before the deadline.
Eric S Cerda
Elizabeth is a 17 year old asian american aspiring author. Aside from writing, she has the range of a renaissance woman
with hobbies of cooking, competitive swimming, circus arts, and many more. After a difficult relationship with her
biological mother and the usual trials of life, she likes to put her emotions and thoughts on the page as a sort of journaling
practice. Though these are her first published works she hopes to write more in the future so stay tuned!
Eric was raised in Arizona. He is inspired by the modernist and the existentialist of the
early 20th century.
Graduated from a contemporary visual art school :'Hamidrasha le'omanut' in Israel. She loved her art school; it was
very conceptual & experimental. Later on she wanted to enrich her art studies further by attending art classes at Pima
Community College. She draws her inspiration for her art from social justice topics and her own life story. She finds
working in 3D- sculpture & ceramic to be very intriguing & challenging. In the future she would like to experiment more
with installation art. The sculptor Louis Bourgeois; in her honest and courageous way of expressing her inner world in her
art, was a great inspiration for her.
Isabel is currently a student at Pima Community College and is a Tucson based artist. Her love of oil painting and
figurative work has led her to pursue a degree in Fine Art at the University of Arizona. In the future she hopes to be an
accomplished artist and work as an art conservator to restore and preserve pieces important to the history of art.
Isaac is an aspiring documentary photographer from small-town Utah. He also writes but does not subscribe to the idea
that he is any good at it. His work centers mostly on addiction and recovery.
I am a Mexican Hispanic American non-binary human who tries to write their stories to help others. Love and light.
Lisa Periale Martin
Is a poet, writer, librarian, mariachi aficionado, and former farmworker. Her writing is steeped in the essence and wonder of the
Sonoran Southwest. Tiny Seed, Claw and Blossom, and Harpy Hybrid have published her work. Plants & Poetry Journal will
publish one of her poems in April 2022. Two recent poems are featured in a Chax Press chapbook, POG 2021.
"Hello, my name is Max Miracolo. I am a queer, transgender artist born and raised in Tucson, AZ. I am currently finishing
a Visual Arts degree at Pima and work primarily in photography. I strive to capture the human experience from a different
angle through my lens."
Tucson-based fine arts student, Matthew Ball, has been sharpening his skills in multiple disciplines for the past few years.
Matthew spent most of his youth focused on illustration and collage, until entering college in his late 20s, where he began
to explore other mediums. In his early 30s, Matthew has found a new passion for sculpture. Now a declared 3D fine arts
major at PCC, he is on track to graduate next year, after which he is hoping to continue his education at Arizona State
University as an interior design major.
Is an international student from Switzerland who came to Tucson in search of her Muse. Passionate about literature,
languages, and the arts, she finds the desert emotionally uplifting. She feels concerned about contemporary issues. Science
and ethics, cultural heritage, political decisions, or the environment are all sources of inspiration to her work. She likes
intertwining whimsicality with metaphorical aestheticism. Her art is a mirror of her heart.
Portia is a dual-enrollment student studying computer science and mathematics. She works in many art mediums, but
prefers pen and ink. Her work is often inspired by folktales and myths
Began her artistic journey five years ago at PCC and has explored pencil, charcoal, ink, oil paint, gouache, acrylic, and collage
work. Over the last year, color and collage have been front and center in her work. Her focus has been on recontextualizing
found print materials and giving them a new vibrant and abstract life. When not immersed in collage work, Rachel is
reading science fiction, designing interactive learning experiences, or completing her Master of Public Health degree at the
U of A.
Is currently a graphic design major and has been writing poetry since she was 12 years old. She is currently working on
illustrations for what will be her first poetry collection "Pocket Candy", which she plans to self-publish by the conclusion of
this year. She would like to thank the many voices of independent writers that came before. It was their style of prose that
lead to the creation of her own poetry.
Their main passions are art and ecology, and the space where the two meet is where they find the most enjoyment. As a
queer, trans artist, they find special joy in the spaces in-between; the ones that are often overlooked. They strive to bring
peoples’ attention to the natural world and the special kind of joy that comes from the balance between personal discoveries
and shared experiences. Coffey recently transferred to UA and splits their time between their studies and trying to keep cat
hair out of their paintings.
Is an Arizona native who took up photography as a rehabilitative tool to help heal from a traumatic brain injury. Her
photos reflect the strength of the human spirit to heal and create more positivity, passion, and beauty in the world.
Is a writer and poet. She resides in Tucson, AZ with her three little monsters and some fur-babies. Sharelle works as a Medical
Assistant Care Coordinator with El Rio Community Health. In her free time, Sharelle is currently working on a book of
collected poems she has written. She has also obtained a small fan base on Instagram for her written work.
(@Sharellewrites_Stuff) She loves coffee, cats, and spooky things. She tends to lean towards romantic and horror poetry. She is a
admirer of Edgar Allen Poe & Charles Bukowski’s written work.
Is a poet who (often) writes about illness and addiction with a soft, tongue in cheek flair. Their work has been published in
Cathexis Northwest Press, Sinkhole Quarterly, and elsewhere."
Was born in Mexico City in 1972 and emigrated to the U.S. when he was five years old. He started writing professionally
as a music critic in 2001. His music and film criticism has appeared on such websites as All Music Guide, PopMatters, and
DVD Verdict. He is currently working on his first novel. He lives in Tucson, AZ.
Is a Tucson based artist who loves using both 2D and 3D mediums. Currently she is focusing on using the human form to create
visual narratives that are both funny and disturbing. She loves translating movement and action into a stationary form.
Fernanda Cueva is a student at Pima Community College
Collin Bryant is a Chemistry major graduating from Pima Community College and transferring to Northern Arizona
University this summer. During his time at PCC, he has served as the Board of Governors Student Representative
through the Pima Aztec Student Senate (P.A.S.S.) as well as a campus liaison for Phi Theta Kappa. Many of the classes
he has taken, such as Intercultural Perspectives with Dr. Sandra Shattuck and Understanding Terrorism with Peter
Becskehazy—Mr. B, for short—have presented him with opportunities to explore his passion for writing about US drug
policy. Collin's interests in chemistry have led him towards pursuing a research career in medicinal chemistry, and he
hopes one day he can become a prominent advocate for science-backed drug policy reform. Outside of school, he enjoys
snowboarding in Colorado, taking his car on road trips, and hanging out with his family, friends, and two cats.
Amaya Fimbres is a student at Pima Community College
Travis is a dual-enrollment high school student who has lived in Tucson all of his life. He hopes to become a computer
scientist, and he writes science fiction stories in his free time.
Isaac Frisby is a student at Pima Community College.
I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona where I currently attend school. I am graduating high school this May, 2022 and
plan on attending college at the University of Arizona in the fall. I would visit my family in Japan nearly every summer
growing up and this allowed me to have a personal connection to my culture which I deeply appreciate. My hobbies
include drawing, baking, and reading.
Hello, I am Mya and I will be sharing a quote because introducing myself is all I can think of for my Bio. “My work is
utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.” by: Bill Watterson
Is a better person for working with this sensitive,
thoughtful, and talented SandScript staff. Frankie teaches
English, Creative Writing, and Honors at Pima Community
College. Along with teaching, Frankie is devoted to writing.
She has published a flash fiction collection, The Grief Manuscript
(Finishing Line Press, 2020), a novella, Doctor Porchiat’s Dream,
in Running Wild Press Anthology 3 (Running Wild Press, 2019)
and a collection of short fiction,The Sin Eater & Other Stories
(Queen’s Ferry Press, 2013).
Editor-In-Chief & Managing Editor
Is an English Literature major at Pima College,
with plans to pursue her Creative Writing passions at the
University of Arizona. She is a proud single mother to an
amazing son, she is a writer, a singer, an editor, and student
who hopes to inspire her son and others to always follow
their passions in life.
Carol Spitler Korhonen
Prose Editor & Unveiling Event Planner
Comes from Michigan, but after one too many encounters
with icy highways, moved to Tucson. After 20 years working as
a lawyer, she is now desperately trying to make up for lost time.
Her first attempts at writing stories demonstrated her dire need
for help and she has been taking writing classes at Pima College
ever since. Carol loves being on the SandScript Editorial Board
because she can relax and let other students do all the work while
she gets to take at least partial credit for a great literary magazine.
Carol thanks all the writing teachers at Pima as well as Johnher
husband, Mochi-the cat, and especially her children and
grandchildren for all their help and support.
Poetry Editor & Industry Outreach Coordinator
Visual Arts Editor & Social Media Manager
Is a human who writes lots of poetry and dances
aggressively whenever they are alone. They spend much of
their time playing the harp for their imaginary cats; they aren’t
responsible enough to have real cats yet. When they get older they
will live in a sustainable community with everyone they love
(and even some people they don’t).
Is an aspiring documentary photographer and writer
from small-town Utah. He doesn’t really know how he ended
up in Tucson. His work focuses on intimate stories often about
addiction and recovery. He is currently still trying to “find
himself ” and hasn’t picked a major. Because of this, he will most
likely become a career barista.
Assistant Editor & Prose Editor
Editorial Designer & Graphics Designer
Desires to learn many more trades before setting a strict
path for herself. She wants to travel the world, produce music,
make art, and maybe even hold a desk job just for the sake of it.
She wants to have new and amazing experiences with even more
amazing people, and she couldn’t have asked for a better team to
make this magazine. SandScript is just the beginning of her very
long journey in creativity.
Is an International Student from Mexico currently about
to graduate from the Digital Arts program at Pima Community
College hoping to create art that will interest people, and in the
process collaborate with artists whose goals are kindred to his.
He hopes to travel and learn more about life through experiences
and hopefully be full of good ones. Very thankful to the whole
SandScript team for being the wonderful creative partners they
were and entrusting me with the look of this year's issue.
SANDSCRIPT . MAGAZINE
THIRTIETH . EDITION