SandScript 2023 [Digital Exclusive]

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-XXXI-<br />


Fission<br />

Oil on Wood Panel<br />

Aiden Badruddoja<br />

“I’ve always found it difficult to write about my work because if I could say<br />

it, there would be no reason to paint it. With that said, my intention with<br />

“Fission” was to experiment with the relationship between space and form;<br />

background and foreground. To me, this painting is about disassociation<br />

from the object and material world. The figure is ‘dissolving’ into the<br />

background; shedding his material form and becoming the space around<br />

him. Growing into something beyond the sum of his parts.”<br />

~Aiden Badruddoja<br />


About<br />

S<br />

andScript is the visual arts and literature magazine of Pima Community College,<br />

Tucson AZ, and is published annually in the spring semester. All works are<br />

created by the diverse body of Pima students, and the magazine is produced by<br />

students enrolled in “Literary Magazine Production” (WRT 162), capped at 12<br />

students. The editorial board consists of Pima students and one faculty advisor.<br />

All submissions are read blind, and acceptances are determined based on staff<br />

discussion and voting. Each issue is curated, edited, and designed entirely by the<br />

editorial board, who come from a variety of academic backgrounds and disciplines.<br />

<strong>SandScript</strong> has received the first place in the National Contest for Collegiate<br />

Magazines held by the Community College Humanities Association for five years in a<br />

row, from 2015-2019. The contest was on hold during the pandemic years, and upon<br />

resumption, <strong>SandScript</strong> won awards for poetry and visual arts submissions in the<br />

2022 edition.<br />

As faculty advisor, it’s an honor to be a part of <strong>SandScript</strong>’s legacy of over 30 years of<br />

publication - moreover, it has been a privilege to guide the <strong>SandScript</strong> staff as they<br />

brought their energy, ambition, and tremendous talents to bear in creating this year’s<br />

issue. A great deal of care went into bringing this issue together, and I know a great<br />

deal more went into the creation of each of these individual pieces.<br />

The writers and artists featured in this issue look unflinchingly at the messiness of<br />

our world - the rising tide of oppression, homophobia and transphobia; the long<br />

reach of addiction, mental illness and trauma; the dread of impending climate<br />

change and global conflict. And yet there is joy, beauty, and delight in exploring<br />

our inner lives and our shared world to find love, kinship, and acceptance. This<br />

year’s staff went through hundreds of submissions with care, and we found art<br />

and writing that moved us, made us laugh, and gave voice to our doubts, our<br />

sorrows, and our joys. I hope readers find that the pieces speak to them in the<br />

same way - revealing quiet truths and tapping into our inner sense of wonder at<br />

what words and art can do.<br />

Mariah Young<br />

Faculty Advisor<br />

<strong>Digital</strong> Edition<br />

See <strong>SandScript</strong> on the Yumpu Platform for the expanded digital edition of <strong>SandScript</strong> <strong>2023</strong>, as well as<br />

our previous editions (2020, 2021, 2022).<br />

Please consider supporting student artists and writers by making a donation to <strong>SandScript</strong>.<br />

sandscript@pima.edu<br />


E D I T O R I A L B O A R D<br />

Editor-In-Chief<br />

Raiden Lopez<br />

Assistant Editor<br />

Mackenzie Dougherty<br />

Managing Editor<br />

Katie Murray<br />

Visual Arts Editor<br />

Damian Cecala<br />

Editorial & Graphic Designer<br />

Brandon Robles<br />

Photographer & Visual Arts Expert<br />

Isaac Zierenberg<br />

Co-Industry Outreach Coordinator<br />

& Social Media Manager<br />

Co-Industry Outreach Coordinator<br />

& Social Media Manager<br />

David Mutschler<br />

Alycia Ruffin<br />

Poetry Editor<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Prose Editor<br />

Eric S Cerda<br />

Faculty Advisor<br />

Mariah Young<br />


Letter from the Editor<br />

<strong>2023</strong><br />

What words describe this year and the<br />

experience of overseeing this issue of<br />

<strong>SandScript</strong>? Pima’s Art & Literature magazine has always<br />

reflected the dreams and emotions of our campus body, and<br />

the pulse of the world around us. As Editor In Chief for the<br />

last three years, I’ve seen the effect of loss and pain from the<br />

pandemic; grief was our daily companion who became easier<br />

to live with day by day. This year, our goal was to get past<br />

the trauma of the pandemic to some form of normalcy and<br />

help <strong>SandScript</strong> grow and thrive in the ever-changing world. I<br />

practically willed <strong>SandScript</strong> into surviving the pandemic, and<br />

I am proud to say that we have done that with this incredible<br />

staff. <strong>SandScript</strong> <strong>2023</strong> shows that we are no longer just<br />

surviving–we are thriving.<br />

In reviewing hundreds of submissions for this year’s issue, the staff and I saw struggle,<br />

acceptance, and dare I say happiness, as key themes from our contributors. We felt elation<br />

when someone accepted who they were despite intolerance. We felt the terror of entrapment<br />

and fear that toxic relationships bring. We felt hope in seeing art reflecting the determination<br />

to endure and escape to be safe. We felt proud seeing artwork showcasing the desire to<br />

follow one’s dreams. We celebrated with those who shared their love for history, culture,<br />

and their identity. As editors we felt the intense passion, fear, love, insecurity and confidence<br />

that shined through each individual piece. Acceptance was a major theme we saw in this<br />

year’s submissions: acceptance of difficult situations, but also acceptance of who we are,<br />

personally and fundamentally. This year’s edition reflects how life puts us in untenable<br />

positions, but we are resilient, stubborn creatures and we find a way.<br />

Every year presents its challenges and changes, and this year was no exception. Our<br />

previous advisor and my mentor, Frankie Rollins, left Pima to follow her dreams, but she<br />

handed <strong>SandScript</strong> to another creative & passionate soul, Mariah Young. Our staff’s love for<br />

<strong>SandScript</strong> and our shared goal to make Pima’s talented creators more known has made<br />

<strong>SandScript</strong> what it is today. As Editor in Chief I’ve had the chance to meet artists from around<br />

the world, work with writers whose work has made me feel a myriad of emotions, and it’s<br />

been a privilege to hear the experiences that inspired those stories. I step down as Editor In<br />

Chief after three years, but I take so much experience and love with me. I think of <strong>SandScript</strong><br />

as a parent would see their child: a lot of me has gone into raising it but I am only meant to be<br />

a part of its life for a while. Now I get to step back and enjoy watching it grow.<br />

Thank you for the privilege of being <strong>SandScript</strong>’s Editor In Chief. <strong>SandScript</strong> is a wonderful<br />

platform for all Pima students to share their creativity and art. It is a very brave thing to share<br />

that part of you with the world, but taking a creative risk is worth it. The world needs to see it.<br />

So I encourage you all to continue to make art, to live your life passionately and to remember<br />

that life isn’t easy but it can be beautiful if you let it.<br />

4<br />

Raiden Lopez |Editor-in-Chief

In Memoriam<br />

Ann Tousley<br />

(1946-<strong>2023</strong>)<br />

Ann Tousley, in partnership with Meg Files, started <strong>SandScript</strong> in 1990<br />

and served as the magazine’s first Faculty Advisor.<br />

She oversaw the creation and production of the first issue, and guided<br />

<strong>SandScript</strong> through the editions published from 1990 through 1996.<br />

We honor her legacy in <strong>SandScript</strong> of cultivating a space for writing,<br />

creativity, and supporting new artists in finding their voices.<br />


Table of Contents<br />

§<br />

§<br />

§<br />

§<br />

§<br />

佳 苗 - Marii Ink<br />

El Sazon de mi Tierra - Fer Cueva<br />

Sonoran Ghosts - Michele Worthington<br />

The Middle Ground - Emily Lambert<br />

Berkeley - Bianca Barrett<br />

A Little Piece of Eternity - Madeline Currah<br />

Entropy - Brett Wynn<br />

Inkwell - Marii Ink<br />

The Death of American Education - Ash Hooke<br />

Falling in Reverse - Darine Alzoubaydi<br />

The American Nightmare - Allegra Aguirre<br />

Flail - William Aaronson - Glaab<br />

Hermes - Ev Essif<br />

How We Knew - Linnea Davison<br />

Alias Crisis - Alyssa Quitian<br />

A Conversation in Blue - Anikó Lehoczky-Levy<br />

Death is Still with Hands Behind Your Back - Gabriel Baez<br />

The Real Beast - Allegra Aguirre<br />

Thoughts Inside a - Julia Franco Ramos<br />

All the World’s a Stage - Eric S Cerda<br />

Don’t Ignore the Apostrophes - Taylor Gantz<br />

Cold Outside - Zayk Cronyn<br />

The Blue Age - Eric S Cerda<br />

There is Life in the Fissures- Reisla Oliveira<br />

Marian the Fox - Caroline Reilly<br />

Behind Closed Doors - Raiden Lopez<br />

Inhale, Exhale - Maya Schenne<br />

From My Hands - Aiden Badruddoja<br />

Tierra Para El Indio Suriano - Gabriel Baez<br />

Regal Horned Lizard - Joseph Retsky<br />

Bird Whistle - River Lethe<br />

Flightless Bird - Audrey Ball<br />

Self-Portrait in Oil - Amanda Coulter<br />

Redefinition - Collin Chadwick<br />

Landscape with a Fairy - Julia Faltin<br />

Absolute Magic - Christian Anderson<br />

Always a Circus - Leah Trieu<br />

Night Bloomer Cactus Flower - Kira Okuma<br />

Groping Innocence - Mackenzie Dougherty<br />

Comfort & Joy Ride - Travis Cooper<br />

Soft Waters - Marii Ink<br />

A Crescent Moon - Conner Brooke Lechner<br />

Shinji - Lukas Hillenbrand<br />

Desert - Abbie Golden<br />

11<br />

12<br />

13<br />

14<br />

15<br />

15<br />

16<br />

16<br />

17<br />

18<br />

19<br />

19<br />

20<br />

21<br />

22<br />

23<br />

24<br />

25<br />

26<br />

27<br />

28-32<br />

30<br />

33-36<br />

35<br />

36<br />

37<br />

38<br />

39<br />

40<br />

40<br />

41-46<br />

44<br />

47<br />

48<br />

49<br />

49-52<br />

51<br />

53<br />

53<br />

54<br />

55<br />

56-60<br />

61<br />

62<br />


§<br />

§<br />

§<br />

§<br />

A Tubal Litigation is a Non-Reversible Procedure - Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Matryoshki - Abby Maki<br />

Illuminated Moonlight - Ashley Carmichael<br />

Is This Faith? - Raiden Lopez<br />

Soul Swimming - Aiden Badruddoja<br />

We Were Quiet After That - Abbie Golden<br />

Recovered Heritage - Collin Chadwick<br />

End of Hibernation - Ashley Carmichael<br />

Micromort - Adriana Prado<br />

Truth Through the Ages - Mackenzie Dougherty<br />

To Lose a Brother - Ian Jones<br />

Sibling Bonding by the River - Damian Cecala<br />

Ripped Jeans, Faded Memories - Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Video Call - Vannia Ayon<br />

A Book Without Pages - Jesus Rodriguez<br />

LA LUNA, TU Y YO - Fer Cueva<br />

My Doubts are Quiet (When I’m With You) - Marii Ink<br />

Christmas Light Joy - Ian Sommer<br />

Portal - Damian Cecala<br />

The Tide in Your Eyes - Damian Cecala<br />

Wild Western Moon - Madeline Currah<br />

The Spoken Word - Ev Essif<br />

The Ruins of the Old Ones - Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Transgender Self-Portrait - Audrey Ball<br />

An Abstraction of the Underside of a Whale - Anikó Lehoczky-Levy<br />

Pregnant - Anonymous<br />

Queer and in Catholic School? Pick a Struggle - Mirtha Gabriela Duarte<br />

In The Moment - Selena Alvarado<br />

Pridefound - Ash Hooke<br />

Apollo Sleeps - Brett Wynn<br />

Lazy Sunday - Ashley Carmichael<br />

Themes on Loving You - Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Desert Oracle - Ash Hooke<br />

In Dreams - Erin Kubat<br />

Walking to the Moon - Maya Schenne<br />

§<br />

Hello 1989 Me - Lori Bently Law<br />

Greed (War) - Dina Kagan<br />

Domestic Wars - Acacia Chambers<br />

Ideations Only - Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Uncanny Freedom - Marii Ink<br />

Hello 1989 Me - Lori Bently Law<br />

Retro Wave - Sage Furrer<br />

Contemplating a Tree - Anikó Lehoczky-Levy<br />

The Closeted Experience - Kina<br />

Warmth - Isabelle Gard<br />

Them - Julia Franco Ramos<br />

7<br />

63<br />

64<br />

65<br />

66<br />

67<br />

68-69<br />

69<br />

70<br />

71<br />

72<br />

73<br />

74<br />

75<br />

76<br />

77-78<br />

78<br />

79<br />

80<br />

81<br />

82<br />

83<br />

84<br />

85-89<br />

89<br />

90<br />

90<br />

91<br />

92<br />

93<br />

94<br />

94<br />

95<br />

96<br />

97<br />

98<br />

99-100<br />

101<br />

102<br />

103<br />

104<br />

105<br />

106<br />

107<br />

108<br />

109<br />


From the Ashes of Glory - Elizabeth Grace Lowe<br />

Night Time Right Time - Erin Kubat<br />

a city park in arizona - Madeline Currah<br />

When We Were Young - Leah Trieu<br />

It's Fun to Fantasize - Gabriela Duarte<br />

Overjoyed - Mya Palacios<br />

If Julien Wakes Up - Marriah Nissen<br />

Indolence - Victoria Rivera<br />

Amnesis 19:24 - Ev Essif<br />

The Last Song - Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Little Soldiers - Carissa Villalovos<br />

Mushroom Anagoge - Ev Essif<br />

The First Strawberries - Ashley Carmichael<br />

Flowers in My House - Kathleen Williamson<br />

A Way Home - Eric S Cerda<br />

Your Brains on Clothes - Julia Franco Ramos<br />

Intern Twined - Julia Franco Ramos<br />

Akisame ("Autumn Rain") - Collin Chadwick<br />

Doldrum - Victoria Rivera<br />

Constant - Linnea Davison<br />

Sending You My - Julia Franco Ramos<br />

Household Essentials - Heather Peterson<br />

Emerald Bay (From My Journal) - Natalie Johnson<br />

Inheritance - Ash Hooke<br />

Mother and Daughter - Alexander Washburn<br />

Set in Stone - Ash Hooke<br />

Tree of Life - Juan Pena<br />

Pima Community College West-Point View - Isaac Frisby<br />

sandcstle culture - Ev Essif<br />

Tuning In - Isabelle Gard<br />

Worship at Dawn - Kristin LeBlanc<br />

When I Write - Ev Essif<br />

Mon Père - Bianca Barrett<br />

Blackout - Ethan Bauschka<br />

Tread - Marii Ink<br />

Prickly Pear Cactus Flower - Kira Okuma<br />

Brunch with the Ex - Eric S Cerda<br />

Discoveries - Mackenzie Dougherty<br />

Fools - Leah Trieu<br />

Losers of the Universe - Travis Cooper<br />

Man in Spotlight - Damian Cecala<br />

The Golden Gaze - Christian Anderson<br />

How Long Will It Last? - Melissa Bridwell<br />

Vince Says - River Lethe<br />

Mito de Reyezuelo de Cactus - Jessica Novak<br />

The Skull - Juan Pena<br />

All Have Fallen Short - Ariel Varela Herrera<br />

8<br />

111<br />

112<br />

113<br />

114<br />

115<br />

116<br />

117<br />

118<br />

119<br />

120<br />

121<br />

122<br />

123<br />

124<br />

125<br />

126<br />

126<br />

127<br />

128<br />

129<br />

130<br />

131<br />

132<br />

133<br />

134<br />

135<br />

136<br />

137<br />

138<br />

139<br />

140<br />

141<br />

142<br />

143<br />

148<br />

149<br />

150<br />

155<br />

160<br />

161<br />

164<br />

165<br />

167<br />

168<br />

169<br />

171<br />


Postmortem Over Coffee - Gabriel Baez<br />

Vessel - Victoria Rivera<br />

Wild Blueberries - Ashley Carmichael<br />

Reconócete Abundante - Fer Cueva<br />

People Like You - Linnea Davidson<br />

American Alligator, Everglades National Park, Florida - Joseph Retsky<br />

To the One I Cannot Forget - Gabriela Fragozo<br />

Reflections on Y2K - Elizabeth Puckett<br />

Visiting - Kathleen Williamson<br />

The Worse The Bad, The Better The Good - Melissa Bridwell<br />

Writer's Block - Amanda Rigby-Vasquez<br />

San Carlos Pelican - Perri Hartstein<br />

Sintamos En Presente - Fer Cueva<br />

The Singer in the Night - Eric S Cerda<br />

Collide - Darine Alzoubaydi<br />

Introverted Tree - Damian Cecala<br />

Prophecy - Michele Worthington<br />

Nothing to See Here - Audrey Ball<br />

Aeromancy - Collin Chadwick<br />

Conure - William Aaronson-Glaab<br />

Just Jaiden - Brianna Hebert<br />

To My Honeypot - Amanda Rigby-Vasquez<br />

Leaves - Adriana Prado<br />

Two Lazy Susans - Arthur Lurvey<br />

To Hear - Arthur Lurvey<br />

Scattered Thoughts Regarding Me and a Man - Kristen Raymond<br />

Mental Disarray - Darine Alzoubaydi<br />

Boundless - Natalie Johnson<br />

Self Portrait - Abby Maki<br />

SheWaits - Goldfish<br />

The Aid Of Music in The Foreign Language Classroom - Marriah Nissen<br />

Sathipatthana - Kathleen Williamson<br />

Gavel - William Aaronson-Glaab<br />

Green - Anonymous<br />

Peace - Rebecca Lowe<br />

Sunrise on The Red Hills - Ann Gonzales<br />

Snail - Juan Pena<br />

Stargazing With You - Maya Schenne<br />

Found in Death - Sedona Blanar<br />

The Shifting Tides: Weathering Change - Ethan Bauschka<br />

The Death of a Roach - Eric S Cerda<br />

Transending Journey @Peace - Luis Medina<br />

Transending Journey Self - Luis Medina<br />

ThePasserby and The Rabbit - Nicolas Arthur Wilke<br />

Barrio Libre - Perri Hartenstein<br />

Also Forever Waiting for Spring - Ash Hooke<br />

Birds of Mexico - Emily Lambert<br />

9<br />

173<br />

174<br />

175<br />

176<br />

177<br />

178<br />

179<br />

180<br />

181<br />

182<br />

183<br />

184<br />

184<br />

185<br />

185<br />

186<br />

187<br />

187<br />

188<br />

188<br />

189<br />

193<br />

194<br />

195<br />

195<br />

196<br />

197<br />

198<br />

198<br />

198<br />

199<br />

203<br />

205<br />

205<br />

206<br />

206<br />

207<br />

207<br />

208<br />

209<br />

212<br />

212<br />

212<br />

213<br />

214<br />

215<br />


Award Winners<br />

R<br />

O<br />

S<br />

1st<br />

Bird Whistle<br />

River Lethe<br />

P<br />

E<br />

2nd<br />

A Crescent Moon<br />

Conner Brooke Lechner<br />

A W A<br />

R<br />

D<br />

3rd<br />

The Ruins of the Old Ones<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

A<br />


V<br />

I<br />

S<br />

U A<br />

L<br />

E<br />

1st<br />

2nd<br />

Hermes<br />

Ev Essif<br />

佳 苗<br />

Marii Ink<br />

R<br />

T<br />

P<br />

I<br />

E<br />

C<br />

3rd<br />

Soul Swimming<br />

Aiden Badruddoja<br />

O<br />

P<br />

E<br />

A W A<br />

T<br />

R<br />

R<br />

D<br />

Y<br />

1st<br />

2nd<br />

3rd<br />

A Tubal Litigation is a<br />

Non-Reversible Procedure<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Pridefound<br />

Ash Hooke<br />

El Sazón de mi Tierra<br />

Fer Cueva<br />


A<br />


R<br />

T<br />

V<br />

P<br />

I<br />

I<br />

S<br />

U A<br />

E<br />

L<br />

E<br />

C<br />

佳 苗 e<br />

Gouache<br />

Marii Ink<br />


O<br />

P<br />

E<br />

A W A<br />

T<br />

R<br />

D<br />

R<br />

Y<br />

El Sazón De Mi Tierra<br />

Fer Cueva<br />

extraño el sazón de mi tierra<br />

ese que abraza al alma con total profundidad<br />

el que se pasa de sonrisa a sonrisa por las calles<br />

y canta a través de las miradas alumbradas en amor<br />

extraño ese olor a tierra mojada que limpia las lágrimas del corazón<br />

y que me invita a bailar de su mano<br />

mientras canto y río<br />

enraizando mis pies en gratitud a la vez que honro el espacio sagrado que me sostiene<br />

extraño el sabor tan real de los alimentos que nutren mi ser<br />

esa co-creación entre manos de sabiduría ancestral<br />

y los frutos que emanan en abundancia pura<br />

extraño el calor de mi tierra<br />

el que se siente en cada abrazo en el que me entrego<br />

y luego recuerdo<br />

que ese sazón lo llevo en mi cuerpo<br />

acompañándome con cada paso que doy…<br />

translation<br />

El Sazón De Mi Tierra<br />

i miss el sazón de mi tierra<br />

the one that embraces the soul with total depth<br />

the one that goes from smile to smile through the streets<br />

and sings through the gazes illuminated in love<br />

i miss the smell of wet soil that wipes the tears from the heart<br />

and invites me to dance holding its hand<br />

while i sing and laugh<br />

rooting my feet in gratitude as i honor the sacred space that holds me<br />

i miss the pure taste of the food that nourishes my being<br />

that co-creation of hands with ancestral wisdom<br />

and the fruits that emanate in pure abundance<br />

i miss the warmth of my land<br />

the one that is felt in each hug that i give<br />

and then i remember<br />

i carry that same sazón in my body<br />

that comes with me in every step that i take...<br />


Sonoran Ghosts<br />

Michele Worthington<br />

The bouncing glee of Coyote and Badger<br />

entering the tunnel together to hunt<br />

on the other side<br />

captured by night<br />

camera that also sees<br />

cautious Jaguar<br />

pausing<br />

near the edge of the view of the lens<br />

paw lifted in grayness<br />

and listens<br />

suspects but does not know<br />

without track or scat, without scent,<br />

with just a glimpse of eye shine<br />

who follows who, the canine - the cat<br />

into passageways<br />

between the States<br />

of consciousness<br />

while god Bats sleep<br />

in caves far away<br />

land loathing drones patrol<br />

the wall<br />

spy down upon undomed desert knolls<br />

in sage and marigold vestments<br />

lanced with metal<br />

migrations in disarray<br />

wobbling west a wayfaring Bear<br />

grass basket raveled and rodent holed<br />

spilled of ancestors<br />

funneled into plastic bottles<br />

left empty in dry canyons<br />

left suspended in heat mirages<br />

upside down echoing<br />

vesperal Ravens<br />

together teaseling sun rotted<br />

clothing<br />

worm sewn to bone<br />

shamans<br />

shackled to earthmovers<br />

decomposing<br />

shoe laces knotted into cholla<br />

leaving drag tracks in halved circles<br />

around Ocelot, hemmed in<br />

hunted<br />

sunset blurring rosettes now disappearing<br />

a tail unfurling counter clockwise, a lariat<br />

of dust whorls whispering in the organ pipes<br />

where a whole herd had been dead<br />

ended... hooves<br />

unscrolling the memory paths<br />

that once connected<br />

north<br />

and<br />

[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[<br />

South<br />


The Middle Ground<br />

Photography<br />

Emily Lambert<br />


A Little Piece of Eternity<br />

Madeline Currah<br />

I take my bike in my cold hands, and push<br />

out into the street at dawn. There aren't<br />

many cars out, and the empty streets seem<br />

to me like vast, empty riverbeds of gray.<br />

Crossing the biggest riverbed I will have to,<br />

I embark on my morning journey. Above the<br />

houses with their white stone and vines, the<br />

pale moon shines her sweet face. No matter<br />

how big, no matter how bright, she seems to<br />

me always humble and peaceful, unaware<br />

of her own enchantment. She only gives.<br />

Her beauty is safe, untouchable: no one can<br />

hurt, harm, sully her.<br />

Yesterday I read a line in a book: “what<br />

is it that is constant between you as a<br />

baby, you now, and all the selves you<br />

have been and will be? How do you know<br />

you are the same person?” As I ride the<br />

quiet, pink, dusty city streets with my<br />

eye always on the moon, I feel it. I feel all<br />

the times I've looked at the moon from<br />

my bedroom window, or while laying<br />

in the wet grass at night (distraught),<br />

seeing her always there as I drove up<br />

the highway every night headed home<br />

from my first job. I remember her on my<br />

18th birthday, shining bright and full in<br />

the mountain wilderness. I remember<br />

seeing her for the first time after months<br />

of Alaskan day. Now, in the pink desert<br />

dawn, among cacti and orange trees and<br />

the smell of cow dung, I find her. She<br />

brings together my past, present, and<br />

future. She connects me to the long line<br />

of changes I have been and will be. She<br />

promises both consistency and change,<br />

and the paradox of how deeply those two<br />

are entwined.<br />

The moon is my constant watcher, and<br />

the only one whose promise of "things<br />

will be okay" that I believe. Her sweet<br />

promises fill me from the inside and<br />

spill out of my body as truth. When I<br />

forget myself, I should seek to find her.<br />

Sometimes I think of life as one long,<br />

continuous poem that never ends. I guess<br />

this was just a little piece of it: a little piece<br />

of eternity, brought almost into focus.<br />

Berkeley<br />

Watercolor on Watercolor Paper<br />

Bianca Barrett<br />


Entropy<br />

Brett Wynn<br />

Lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder<br />

Entropy is a beautiful word that represents an idea that is very repulsive<br />

Gradual decline of the mind into what people call mental illness<br />

The further into madness we dive, the less help we receive<br />

The more medicine starts to fail us and we are pushed to experiment<br />

Lack of order or predictability isn’t such a bad thing however<br />

No sense trying to live your life the same, too many variables that could go wrong<br />

Humans are imperfect, we don’t understand ourselves, therefore, we question everything, even<br />

our own way of thinking<br />

The beautiful chaos of our lives is<br />

something we’ve learned to numb<br />

Murder and destruction are shrugged<br />

off as nothing<br />

We’ve fallen deeper into a state of madness,<br />

therefore, we no longer receive help<br />

Inkwell<br />

Ceramic<br />

Marii Ink<br />


The Death of<br />

American Education<br />

Ash Hooke<br />

All flags at<br />

All public schools in<br />

All of America<br />

Should always be flown<br />

At half-mast.<br />

Mourning;<br />

The commonplace<br />

Catastrophic shooting deaths<br />

Averaging every<br />

Seventy-seven days.<br />

Lamenting;<br />

The fearful inside-lives<br />

Deliberately destroyed by bullies;<br />

Adult and adolescent.<br />

Sorrowing;<br />

The martyr teachers<br />

As they suffer to their second jobs,<br />

Exhausted,<br />

Just to make ends meet.<br />

Grieving;<br />

Every lost class<br />

Classified as an art,<br />

And thereby unworthy<br />

Of the ignorant land’s money.<br />

When did teaching and learning<br />

Become a slow death?<br />

Knowledge’s knife dulled by a<br />

lifetime<br />

Of trying to cut through<br />

Ridiculous regenerating red tape?<br />

Why am I still here?<br />

I thought I knew.<br />

Because these days<br />

No matter<br />

My current level of dying<br />

I can no longer<br />

Believe<br />

Any of our heroic battling<br />

Even matters.<br />

As the children<br />

I’ve pledged allegiance to,<br />

Are used against me<br />

Until I’m considerably<br />

Less than half;<br />

Rope chafing,<br />

Dying dangling from the<br />

Flagpole they’ve<br />

Hung me from.<br />

Despairing;<br />

The children who weren’t supposed<br />

To be left behind<br />

But blend into the facelessness<br />

Of impossibly filled classrooms.<br />


Falling in Reverse<br />

Paper & Pencil<br />

Darine Alzoubaydi<br />


The American Nightmare<br />

Allegra Aguirre<br />

Somewhere in America a child’s stomach<br />

growls, slowly digesting itself, as if it will<br />

feed them. At the same time someone is<br />

complaining about their food not being<br />

scalding hot. “I’m so sorry I can’t eat this,<br />

I’m on a keto diet for summer and this won’t<br />

work for me.” There are people scavenging<br />

through garbage, their hands stained with the<br />

remnants of poverty.<br />

Somewhere in America a college graduate<br />

stands on the side of the road, using their<br />

freshly framed diploma as shelter from rain,<br />

and their graduation cap as a cup for spare<br />

change. “You did amazing in your interview,<br />

but we need someone with more work<br />

experience.” The thought of debt waits<br />

patiently in the back of their mind, feeding off<br />

words like ‘overqualified,’ ‘budget cuts,’ and<br />

‘inflation’- to eventually swallow them whole.<br />

freedom to pick and choose which people we<br />

want to protect, freedom to sweep our history<br />

under the rug.<br />

Somewhere in America people scream for<br />

change while plugging their ears.<br />

The battle begins with an unleveled playing<br />

field. Privilege and ignorance propel some<br />

forward, while others scratch and crawl<br />

their way to the end, forgetting what they<br />

were fighting for in the first place.<br />

Somewhere in America a soldier’s chair is left<br />

empty at Thanksgiving, Christmas carols are<br />

a reminder of absence, a baby is born without<br />

their father by their side.<br />

In return- memories sentenced to play on<br />

repeat, “Here, fill out this form to see how<br />

much you qualify for.” Soldiers are dying for<br />

our freedom. Freedom to dictate what people<br />

can and cannot do with their bodies,<br />

Inspired by slam poem “Somewhere in America,”<br />

performed and written by Belissa Escobedo, Rhiannon<br />

McGavin, and Zariya Allen.<br />

Flail<br />

Steel & Wood<br />

William Aaronson-Glaab<br />


A<br />


R<br />

T<br />

V<br />

P<br />

I<br />

I<br />

S<br />

U A<br />

E<br />

L<br />

E<br />

C<br />

Hermes y<br />

<strong>Digital</strong> Art<br />

Ev Essif<br />


How We Knew<br />

Linnea Davison<br />

Once you have felt the darkdeepdown<br />

once vodka came and burned your<br />

throat<br />

once razor blades danced<br />

creating art<br />

composing figure skating<br />

choreographies<br />

and when he took your balance<br />

and slurred your words<br />

but you held onto<br />

her bloody underwear<br />

as if it was evidence<br />

as if it would not be<br />

washed out the very next day<br />

so the only punished<br />

were those there to see<br />

you and me<br />

those who knew<br />

what the darkdeepdown did to you.<br />

Once the vodka had me<br />

and razor blades were creative now<br />

once boys’ hands<br />

and skin on skin<br />

numbed the smell of death<br />

all around in the cage we were in.<br />

Once I stopped saying no<br />

and he pinned me down<br />

and I started smelling death on me too<br />

and strawberries tasted bitter<br />

once they were on my lips<br />

as medicine<br />

when I watched you laugh<br />

at the photographs and the marks<br />

he left on my neck<br />

once I watched you<br />

get back into cars<br />

as if praying for one<br />

to finally wreck.<br />

One thing I know of strawberries<br />

one thing I know of vodka breath<br />

and skin on skin to mask the death.<br />

Once tequila came and danced<br />

with rum<br />

and cigarettes dove<br />

like synchronized swimmers<br />

into lungs that could not function<br />

anyways<br />

just to keep them numb.<br />

Once numbing and running<br />

and digging in the dirt<br />

was all we were<br />

once reaching for roses<br />

only to get a different red<br />

was all I could do<br />

from what I saw<br />

him do to you.<br />

Once we could<br />

not breathe anymore<br />

and the voices got louder<br />

and we cursed the shore<br />

because we never reached it<br />

we cursed white sand<br />

and children too<br />

from beneath salty waves<br />

our coughing voices screamed<br />

“You do not know<br />

what the world<br />

will do to you.”<br />

Once he took my sleep<br />

and I could not breathe<br />

and he left his mark<br />

beneath my sleeve<br />

once a tap on my shoulder<br />


caused me to scream<br />

once I first saw him<br />

in a dream<br />

once I heard your scream<br />

pulled you out<br />

clawing my skin as if I could save you<br />

from this darkdeepdown roundabout.<br />

Goodbye old soul<br />

precious little girl<br />

bye bye “Wounds will always heal.”<br />

bye bye “Scary movies are not real.”<br />

welcome into tragedy<br />

where blood dries up<br />

becoming sweet poetry<br />

for once I drank the poison<br />

I thought was wine<br />

and what was supposed to make us women<br />

left us like lost children<br />

crying for more time.<br />

Once what we thought could fix this<br />

split our hands open as it shattered<br />

once the devil himself stood on our throats<br />

did we know how much our power mattered.<br />

Alias Crisis<br />

Gouache on Vellum Bristol<br />

Alyssa Quitian<br />


23<br />

A Conversation in Blue<br />

Gouache<br />

Anikó Lehoczky-Levy

Death is Still with<br />

Hands Behind your Back<br />

Gabriel Baez<br />

I say You,<br />

Your badge be not bright–<br />

billy club caked in blood<br />

is prelude to lives You steal<br />

The precinct’s history is grim.<br />

A 13th ideal, once bright,<br />

profaned, soaked red and blotted,<br />

Your profession is steel.<br />

When I say You,<br />

say Your name.<br />

Let it drip out your mouth<br />

and stain the page.<br />

Steal away to freedom,<br />

but these agents arrest flight.<br />

Slave patrol who tracks blood<br />

detains men–or gives steel<br />

I say You, the accursed, stand<br />

Naked: mortal and flesh.<br />

Names are daggers, like pens<br />

Wait for them to sink in<br />

Else they will smudge like smoke<br />

Coughed out of melted lips.<br />

I say You for the abused and<br />

dead names on a reel–news flash<br />

Rancid yellow caution tape.<br />

With homemade body cams, we are their witness.<br />

I say You, the accused, stand<br />

iron-clad, cowering behind plates<br />

and face shields–dark and awful<br />

Miasma making thunder and smoke-<br />

Cause coughs, stillness is compliance<br />


The Real Beast<br />

Allegra Aguirre<br />

Bred for the ring,<br />

I am sentenced to perform this dance of death,<br />

dodging and swooping,<br />

you mock my vitality.<br />

Taunting, waving your flag of superiority,<br />

you force me to see red.<br />

I am battered and beaten,<br />

swords jut out from my back,<br />

like pins in a pincushion.<br />

Terror is masked by my instinct to defend,<br />

fighting for my life,<br />

I continue to charge.<br />

The crowd chants for my demise,<br />

like a church chanting their hymns.<br />

The thunder of screams and shouts echoes<br />

throughout the plaza, shakes the very foundation.<br />

Your culture worships the lord,<br />

yet you deem yourselves God.<br />

Deciding the value of my life<br />

is that of entertainment.<br />

To some, this is a form of art,<br />

the great matador upholding Spanish tradition.<br />

The end of our dance is signaled<br />

with the spilling of my blood,<br />

covering the tip of your shimmering sword,<br />

you use my blood to paint me as the beast,<br />

and force me to see red<br />

for the very last time.<br />


Thoughts Inside a<br />

Gelatin Silver Print<br />

Julia Franco Ramos<br />


All the World’s a Stage<br />

Eric S Cerda<br />

The warp wood rotted panel floor<br />

Crack in California splintering frequently<br />

The floor begging to collapse<br />

Afterthought Africa off to the side<br />

Behind stained moth-eaten curtains<br />

Where the audience would rather not see<br />

U.K. and Europe painted oversized in brilliance<br />

Should have guessed<br />

They’re the craftsmen who built this set<br />

This play is a ludicrous bore<br />

They’ve chosen to perform a tragedy<br />

How many does this make this season?<br />

It should have been remarkable, but it’s quickly forgotten<br />

The characters are now one dimensional<br />

As the actors rehash pre-Shakespearean lines<br />

Spoken over one another in pure defiance of unison<br />

The hero (or victims depending on where you sit) hams the death scene<br />

The climax is rushed in an anxious barrage<br />

Metallic props create thunderous claps<br />

The pyrotechnics could have accidentally (or intentionally) set the stage aflame<br />

The extras are left lying in the background in tatters<br />

They should have spent their ill profits on maintenance<br />

Instead of new excessive props<br />

It has left the crowd uncomfortable and dismayed<br />

But maybe that’s the desired response<br />

Poorly written narratives are easily accepted when the audience isn’t paying attention<br />


Don’t Ignore the Apostrophes<br />

Taylor Gantz<br />

You don’t trust anyone who cheats in Scrabble.<br />

Your sister’s new boyfriend, Brent, had been trying to convince you for the last two<br />

minutes that contractions are allowed. What an idiot. Everyone knows that contractions<br />

aren’t allowed. He refuses to let you challenge him either because he knows that<br />

“DONT” isn’t really in the dictionary. He’s just being a jackass.<br />

“Fine,” he huffs like you’re the one who’s in the wrong. “I’ll just make ‘TOAD’ and ‘PLANT.’”<br />

Was that really so hard? You write down his score, thirteen points, and he squints at the<br />

sheet as if expecting you to try to cheat him out of some.<br />

The game moves around the table, from Brent to Lindsey, Lindsey to your mom, your<br />

mom to you, then back to Brent. Brent doesn’t try to pull anything else for the rest of the<br />

game, but you’re watching him closely, like a hawk.<br />

You help your mom make dinner. She chops vegetables while you stir the soup pot.<br />

Brent sits with Lindsey at the kitchen table, studying the crystal vase of tulips. “That<br />

looks expensive,” he muses.<br />

28<br />

§<br />

He’s made several other comments like that today. At breakfast, he was interested in<br />

Mom’s fancy coffeemaker, and later he mentioned that your pearl earrings, a special<br />

sixteenth birthday present, were beautiful. “Must have cost a small fortune,” he said. You<br />

don’t know exactly why, but he rubs you the wrong way.<br />

“Are you excited to be graduating soon?” Mom asks Brent as she chops some carrots.<br />

Brent is at the University of Arizona and will graduate next semester with a business<br />

degree. Lindsey is one year younger than him, a junior.<br />

“Oh yeah, for sure,” he says. “But student loans will take forever to pay off.”<br />

Mom shakes her head. “Don’t get me started on the problems with our country.” Then<br />

her knife slips, catching the side of her ring finger. She cries out as blood gushes<br />

from the cut. You rush to help her, wrapping some paper towel around her finger as<br />

a makeshift bandage. She yanks her wedding ring off and tosses it onto the counter<br />

before blood gets on it. You and Lindsey take her to the bathroom to wash off and<br />

bandage the injury. It turns out to be a shallow cut. No harm done.<br />

§<br />

Brent returns to Tucson the next day. Lindsey plans to stay with us for a few more days before<br />

following him. You watch her kiss him goodbye at the airport, and they’re both smiling. You don’t<br />

care much for Brent, but you suppose you’re glad that he makes your sister happy.

When you get home, you read a book while Lindsey and Mom play chess. You don’t<br />

mind chess, but you prefer Scrabble. Mom wins the first round, and Lindsey wins the<br />

second. They’re playing a tiebreaker when Mom suddenly says, “Hey, do you girls<br />

remember where I put my wedding ring?”<br />

“On the kitchen counter, I think,” you answer.<br />

Mom stands up and goes into the kitchen. She returns a minute later, looking upset. “It’s not there.”<br />

“I remember you taking it off after you cut your finger,” you say, getting out of the<br />

armchair to look yourself. You scan the kitchen counter, watching for a sparkle of gold<br />

and diamond, but there’s nothing. “Maybe it fell in the sink?”<br />

Lindsey turns on her phone flashlight and shines it down the garbage disposal. There’s<br />

nothing but gunk. Mom is starting to full-on panic now.<br />

“I can’t have lost it,” she says. “It must be somewhere.”<br />

You know why she’s upset. That ring is one of her last reminders of Dad. He died two<br />

years ago in a car accident on the freeway.<br />

“We’ll find it, Mom,” Lindsey promises. You nod, although you can’t imagine where else<br />

it might be. You search for a while longer with no success. Mom looks forlorn. “I was so<br />

distracted with Brent visiting, I didn’t notice it was missing,” she says.<br />

Your breath catches. What if Brent took the ring? He could have easily slipped it in a<br />

pocket while you and Lindsey were in the other room bandaging Mom’s finger. The<br />

ring would be worth a good sum, given that it was gold and diamond, and Brent had<br />

complained about his student loan debts.<br />

You can’t say that idea aloud though. Lindsey would never believe her boyfriend<br />

capable of that. You pull out your phone and text Brent: Do you remember where my<br />

mom’s wedding ring last was? She took it off after she cut her finger but now, we can’t<br />

find it. A read receipt pops up a minute later on the message. You wait for a reply, but<br />

nothing comes. After a couple of minutes, you shove the phone into your pocket and<br />

continue the search.<br />

Later that night, when you’re in your room scrolling through social media, you finally get<br />

a response from Brent: Sorry, I dont remember.<br />

Four words. It took him six and a half hours to respond to you with four fricking words.<br />

That “dont” feels like a personal stab at you.<br />


Cold Outside<br />

Charcoal<br />

Zayk Cronyn<br />

He stole it. You know that he stole your mom’s ring. At that moment, staring at his<br />

purposefully un-apostrophe-ed text message, there’s no doubt in your mind that your<br />

sister’s boyfriend swindled your family.<br />

The next morning, sitting at the breakfast table, you say, “Mom, I think Brent stole<br />

your ring.” Mom looks shocked. Lindsey exclaims, “Mindy! How could you think<br />

that?” “I know he did. It’s the only thing that makes sense.”<br />

“My boyfriend stealing our mother’s ring makes sense?”<br />

“Why are you so surprised? You’ve only been dating him for three months. You don’t<br />

know everything about him.”<br />

“I know he’s not a criminal! What the hell, Mindy.”<br />

“Girls, calm down!” your mom exclaims. Her brow is furrowed deeply. She turns to you. “Mindy, how<br />

could you accuse Brent of such a thing? He’s a wonderful guy; he’d never do something like that.”<br />

§<br />

“You don’t know that,” you protest. “Lindsey only met him a few months ago; he could<br />

be living a prosperous life of crime and she wouldn’t know it. And he’s got student loans<br />

to pay off, he could use the money, and—and he tries to cheat in Scrabble!”<br />

“For god’s sake, what does Scrabble have to do with any of this?” Lindsey practically screams at you.<br />


“I don’t know what’s gotten into you,” Mom says, looking at you with a concerned frown. “I<br />

know having Brent a part of our lives is a change—especially with your father gone… Are you<br />

jealous of him? He’s not taking your sister away from you.”<br />

Maybe that is true; maybe it isn’t. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you know<br />

Brent stole Mom’s ring. He’s a thief, a criminal—and he can’t keep dating Lindsey. God, what if<br />

he did something to her? If he’s willing to steal, who knows what else he’d do?<br />

Lindsey is still screaming at you. Mom’s worried expression hasn’t changed. Why won’t<br />

anyone believe you?<br />

§<br />

Brent comes to visit for a week over winter break. You both eye each other with careful distrust.<br />

You know Lindsey must have told him your suspicions about him. At least you know Brent<br />

doesn’t like you any more than you like him.<br />

His first night here, Mom and Lindsey play Scrabble with him. You don’t join them; you’re tired<br />

of dealing with his cheating. Mom tries to convince you to play with them and rolls her eyes<br />

when you refuse. She thinks you’re still being a dramatic teenager about the whole situation.<br />

Later that night, when you venture from your room to get a glass of water, you find him and<br />

Lindsey curled up on the couch, watching some action movie. Brent must have picked it out;<br />

Lindsey has always preferred rom-coms. His arm is wrapped around her shoulders, but rather<br />

than being a loving gesture, it feels possessive. You stare at him, and he stares back over<br />

Lindsey’s head. Don’t hurt my sister, you think. Don’t you dare hurt her. Brent smirks slightly.<br />

“Can I join you?” you ask. You don’t want to leave Lindsey alone with Brent tonight. Lindsey<br />

shrugs, looking a bit annoyed. “I guess if you want.”<br />

You sit on the far side of the couch, away from Lindsey and Brent. You all sit in silence,<br />

watching colorful superheroes beat each other up. After a while, Lindsey gets up to grab<br />

more snacks, leaving you and Brent alone. Her empty spot between you and him gapes<br />

open, feeling both infinite and minuscule. You can hear Lindsey in the kitchen, the microwave<br />

whirring as she makes another bag of popcorn.<br />

“So,” you say, eyes still focused on the TV screen. “How much did you get for Mom’s ring?”<br />

Brent doesn’t reply. You glance over at him. He’s staring stoically at the action sequence onscreen,<br />

almost as if he didn’t hear you. But you know he heard.<br />

“No one believes you did it,” you continue, speaking quietly so Lindsey doesn’t hear. “But I know<br />

you did. I guess you’re the type of person who’s okay with stealing from his girlfriend’s family.”<br />

“You’ve got something wrong with you, Mindy,” Brent mutters, still not shifting his gaze.<br />

“You’re making things up.”<br />

“Am I? Or am I the only one who sees what you really are?” There’s a moment of silence.<br />

Suddenly, Brent whips around to glare at you, leaning in close. There’s a crazed look in his<br />

eyes. “No one’s ever going to believe you,” he hisses, and an ugly smile grows on his lips. “No<br />


one will believe you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”<br />

This sudden reaction startles you. It must show on your face because Brent chuckles. “Don’t<br />

look so surprised. We know the truth…but everyone will always just see you as the little liar. The<br />

girl who’s so jealous of her sister’s boyfriend, she made up filthy lies about him. And now no<br />

one can trust her.”<br />

The little liar.<br />

You’ve never hated Brent so much as now. Fury boils at your insides, threatening to explode.<br />

But you can’t—because as Brent said, no one believes you. Exploding at him would only make<br />

things worse with Mom and Lindsey.<br />

Lindsey rejoins you with a massive bowl of popcorn a minute later, with no idea of what just<br />

happened between Brent and you. She snuggles back up with Brent, and he wraps both his<br />

arms around her, pulling her close. As you curl deeper into your far corner of the sofa, stuffing<br />

your face with popcorn, you feel lonelier than ever before.<br />

But, you think, I was right.<br />


The Blue Age<br />

Eric S Cerda<br />

Your eyes open. Your mind is hazy as your reality sets in. You sigh. The dream you just had<br />

now seems too abstract to recall, but you remember being happy. You want to close your eyes<br />

perchance to dream it once more to feel that feeling, but you know you’ll never feel it again.<br />

You’re turning thirty soon.<br />

Looking over your shoulder, you see her sleeping. The navy-blue cover lies more on her side.<br />

The sunlight beams between eggplant curtains through the Venetian blinds, slowly creeping<br />

up her side of the bed. She has the day off and gets to sleep in if she wants.<br />

As you get up, you think back to when you would carefully try not to disturb her. You yawn.<br />

Every muscle stretches to its limits. A quick shiver spreads in your body. Autumn seems to<br />

have arrived. Through the door down the hall, you shuffle into the kitchen. Your feet freeze,<br />

dragging across birch wood tiles. You place a water-filled kettle and cast-iron skillet on the<br />

electric stove. After placing locally roasted whole beans into the conical burr coffee grinder,<br />

you push the on-button and it whirls into life. The cast-iron skillet heats as the kettle slightly<br />

steams. You try to pull the stem off a Honeycrisp apple while looking for the Just Egg bottle.<br />

Once the kettle whistles, you pour freshly grounded coffee into the french press and fill it with<br />

the hot water. You watch the scrambled eggs overcook in the cast iron as a quote from The<br />

Great Gatsby pops into your mind.<br />

With a mug of coffee and the apple, you sit at the brown dining table. You keep trying to<br />

remember the quote, determined to not look it up, but all you can remember is “thirty the… ‘’<br />

You sniff your coffee–there are hints of chocolate and molasses. Letting the first swig sit<br />

sloshing in your mouth, you get traces of cherry as well. No creamer or sugar to mask the<br />

coffee’s robust flavor. The apple watches, waiting.<br />

You hear your name. Oh, how her voice used to sound when she said your name like singing<br />

each syllable with a different note. At times it was sweet and soft, others it was sinful and shy,<br />

but each time it was said as if no other word was as dear. It drew you in as you wished to make<br />

that voice speak no other in worship. Now she speaks your name in monotone as it lazily falls<br />

off her tongue.<br />

You play with your wedding ring as she plates the well-overcooked eggs. When was the last<br />

time you got up early to make tofu benny with seitan bacon and hashbrowns? She sits across<br />

from you. She pours oat milk into her coffee, and the stirring spoon hits the magenta mug.<br />

While staring at her phone her fork scrapes the plate each time it scoops up some egg. Your<br />

nose crinkles, jaw clenches, throat constricts. You can’t say she’s doing it intentionally or not,<br />

but you do know that she no longer cares enough not to do it.<br />

She tells you the news she is reading as you bite into the apple. A pop star divorced an aging<br />

actor two weeks before going on tour. The actor’s last movie came out sometime between<br />

their engagement and wedding. The conversation doesn’t proceed any further. She then<br />

brings up news of old friends who are more like familiar strangers. You now realize how much<br />


your friends have thinned out, and you feel like you’re on the verge of remembering the quote<br />

but then it’s gone.<br />

There was a time when you would talk endlessly into the night. In the corner of her dorm<br />

hallway, she and you sit on a hard, stained couch. The only light comes from the streetlamps<br />

outside below the window. In this low light, you can only make her out and nothing else.<br />

You hold her hand, as you lean in closer. You hide your nervousness about your sweaty palm<br />

by brushing a couple of hair strands out of her face. You could smell her shampoo orange<br />

blossom and vanilla. You gaze into her eyes, and she gazes back. By your feet are empty<br />

bottles of Smirnoff Ice that a friend of hers has bought. There are still some unopened. She<br />

speaks faster as she tells you about how she was part of the Occupy protest a few months<br />

back. The people she met, the changes she believes they accomplish, the reveling in rebellion<br />

and you start to wish you were there too. You can imagine all the exciting things she has done,<br />

and all the exciting things she’ll do. As she talks about how one of the reasons for the Great<br />

Recession was because of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, you scoot closer. You can feel<br />

her thumb petting your hand.<br />

There is shouting coming from the room closest to you. The door opens halfway before not<br />

closing all the way. You can almost make out what is being said, so you crane your neck as<br />

if by some physiological phenomeno your hearing improves tenfold. It seems to be infidelity<br />

between a couple. Unfortunately, it was coming off as more depressing than tantalizing. Less<br />

like Werner Herzog and more like your younger cousin’s three-act play. The fighting stops with<br />

one of them storming into the hall and stomping away from you. You quickly try to think of<br />

something to bring back the mood. It takes you a moment because you have already told her<br />

your two-bit analysis of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works last week. You also spoke of the time in the<br />

spirit of Hunter S. Thompson you typed out The Great Gatsby on an antique typewriter you’d<br />

found at Goodwill. Then it hits you: poetry. You wax poetic about “The Hollow Men.” After<br />

another few Smirnoff, you begin to recite Robert Frost or maybe it’s Hannah Montana? At that<br />

point, neither she nor you care about what is being said. You kiss. It is the first kiss. You don’t<br />

hear another door opening, but you do hear a Skrillex song.<br />

It saddens you as you no longer discuss Axios stories, but you’re old now. The closest thing<br />

to actual news that you know of is the latest J.K. Rowling tweet—at least now it’s fine to tell<br />

people you’ve never read her books instead of saying you’re a Ravenclaw. The time of naïve,<br />

optimistic activism long since passed you by leaving only memories of telling people you<br />

support Standing Rock. But now with the approach of thirty, a sense of despair and inevitable<br />

death encompasses you. It grows as you glance toward her.<br />

Finishing the last of your coffee, you stand and place your mug in the sink. You walk, stopping<br />

at your no longer-used study with its piles of unread books, unfinished manuscripts, and<br />

poems stashed away in the bottom desk drawer. You watch floating dust slowly fall onto caked<br />

layers. When was the last time you even thought about writing? The inspirational poster on the<br />

wall now feels like mockery. You close the study’s door.<br />

You head to the master bathroom. In the shower, the quote fails to form as you lather your hair<br />

with shampoo. During conditioning, you belt out old croon songs about heartache. You wipe<br />

the condensation off the mirror leaving smudges and trails of droplets, but through it all there<br />


35<br />

There is Life in the Fissures<br />

Photography<br />

Reisla Oliveira

you are. Standing here: the image of your<br />

decaying youth, pulling on your face to rid<br />

itself of wrinkles. Is your hair thinning? With a<br />

defeated sigh you acknowledge the magic is<br />

gone and you’re in your blue years.<br />

In your bedroom, you pick out your clothes to<br />

iron because you were too tired to do so last<br />

night. You base your entire outfit around the<br />

shirt she said brings out the color in your eyes.<br />

After ironing you put your outfit on, but you<br />

sluggishly button up your shirt.<br />

In your one-bedroom apartment, the sun<br />

bathes the bedroom in soft light. It’s the<br />

golden hour. The specks of dust dance in<br />

the light like frolicking fairies. You need to<br />

leave soon, or you’ll be late, but in the corner<br />

of your eye, you see her in the doorway.<br />

She slyly smiles as she tucks her hair back<br />

behind her ears. A quick quiver of her lips<br />

and drooping of her eyes betrays her. She<br />

saunters over to you. She grabs the collar<br />

of your shirt and coyly tugs on it. You sniff<br />

her perfume: rose, hibiscus, blood orange.<br />

She whispers your name, and it sounds like<br />

praying. She says she misses you.<br />

You notice the pinkness in her eyes and the<br />

shadows beneath. You’ve been working well<br />

into the night this week, and so you hadn’t<br />

caught how exhausted she was. With a hand<br />

on her shoulder, you promise that you’ll<br />

make her your eggplant lasagna and roasted<br />

brussels sprouts salad, and maybe soon you’ll<br />

go on a trip to Sedona.<br />

jerk yourself away. You start buttoning your<br />

shirt. Why are memories always lit in romantic<br />

lighting?<br />

Now dressed, you head back out of the<br />

bedroom. In the living room, the tv is on.<br />

A YouTube yoga video plays and she is in<br />

triangle pose. Her shirt raises, revealing her<br />

stomach. Through these comfortable years,<br />

your eyes still stare in hope for a glimpse of<br />

her navel. Just a bit more, but she goes into<br />

warrior 2.<br />

In the kitchen, there is a tote bag with<br />

Tupperware, a brass-colored Contigo travel<br />

mug, and a thirty-two-ounce seagrass green<br />

Hydroflask. You look on the counter, in the<br />

drawers, and then on the table. You rush to<br />

the bedroom and look on your nightstand<br />

and then on the floor nearby. In the bathroom,<br />

you check the hamper. Back in the living<br />

room, she asks you what you are looking for<br />

while she is in eagle. You tell her your keys.<br />

Did you check the couch, she asks. You<br />

mutter to yourself why would they be on the<br />

couch? Between the cushions of your cherry<br />

red couch, you find your keys. Now you’re<br />

ready. After opening the front door, you<br />

automatically say I love you, and you hear it<br />

back as the door closes.<br />

Outside, your neighborhood is still. You<br />

remember the quote: “Thirty—the promise of<br />

a decade of loneliness…”<br />

She places a small kiss on your lips. The next<br />

one is on your chin, then your jaw. As her<br />

lips head towards your neck her warm soft<br />

hand makes its way under your shirt. Her<br />

hot breath blowing on your ear before biting<br />

your lobe makes your knees buckle. You<br />

run your fingers through her hair. You pull,<br />

playfully rough, bringing back her face. You<br />

forget yourself in a deep kiss, but then you<br />

36<br />

Marian the Fox<br />

Ceramic<br />

Caroline Reilly

Behind Closed Doors<br />

Raiden Lopez<br />

The domestic married life<br />

You see a happy wife ecstatic raising her son with a doting husband<br />

Do you know what you don’t see?<br />

The fear when the front door closes and the scent of alcohol is heavy on his breath<br />

The urgency to put the little angel to bed so he isn’t conscious of what is happening two feet away<br />

The silent screams buried in a pillow so he does not wake up<br />

The abuse endured and taken, all to keep him safe<br />

The threats that your entire world would be ripped from your arms, never to be seen again<br />

The final action that was too close for comfort but was life altering<br />

You don’t see the struggle every day to just survive<br />

The energy it takes just to breathe let alone raise another human being<br />

The bravery to walk away from imminent death by the hands of the one who said<br />

“Til death do us part”<br />


Inhale, Exhale<br />

Maya Schenne<br />

Smoke curls around your delicate ribs,<br />

billowing forth with a ghostly exhale,<br />

scorching embers crumble onto your collarbone,<br />

staining the ivory with “How could you?”<br />

I claw at your grave with bleeding fingertips,<br />

wishing, weeping, withering away…<br />

You sigh hollowly, toxic clouds filling your coffin.<br />

It doesn’t bother you; not the stench of tar, nor my hateful wails.<br />

You inhale again, but there are no lungs to demolish anymore,<br />

no fragile flesh to taint with dark smudges.<br />

Only those who you had embraced tenderly will come away stained, the<br />

tarnished scars always a reminder.<br />

And yet, there you lay, smoke seeping out from every crack and crevice,<br />

pondering your newfound dilemma as I pound my fist against the ground.<br />

You were only buried with a single cigarette<br />

and now you must make it last.<br />


From My Hands<br />

Oil on Wooden Panel<br />

Aiden Badruddoja<br />


Tierra Para El Indio Suriano<br />

Gabriel Baez<br />

I am from here and there, within and without, North and South<br />

From “no sabo,” and “English only”<br />

From El Paso, Queens Creek, Yuma, Corcoran, Salinas, up and down again<br />

I am from Cruz, Mata, Gonzalez, Baez, Lerma–and other forgotten names<br />

I am from tortillas for breakfast, and weekends of church, the ramate, and menudo<br />

From putting on music para cocinar, the kitchen smelling of arroz y frijoles while mi mama<br />

warms tortillas on her grandma’s comal<br />

I am from Michoacan and California, EZLN and UFW, mestizo, Chicano<br />

I am from Tierra and those lines of cars, off-color, clashing with the neat green rows of crops<br />

From grapes and strawberries, tomatoes and lettuce, cotton and corn<br />

From Welches, Monsanto, and wooden roadside stands.<br />

I’m from toil in soil, from pleated plant rows, sewn and sowed<br />

I am from in-between, both and neither<br />

I am from fertile lands yet come to work yours<br />

Regal Horned Lizard, Saguaro National Park, Arizona<br />

Photography<br />

Joseph Retsky<br />


Bird Whistle<br />

River Lethe<br />

It’s easy to ditch school when your dad’s a drunk. Besides, Larry Meyers didn’t care about the<br />

seventh grade and the seventh grade didn’t care about him. He was a pudgy kid with a brillo<br />

of red hair. His face was mostly schnoz. The rest freckles. But he carried a cheerful look like he<br />

was too young to understand it hadn’t done him any favors.<br />

He stole through the dumpster lined alleyways and neighborhood arroyos avoiding the<br />

roads. The mute heat left the city desolate. Like the mirage of a ghost town. Everything living<br />

had taken refuge. It was so quiet he would have thought he’d been struck deaf if not for the<br />

sloshing of the whiskey in his backpack. He walked in time to feel the liquor splash against<br />

the glass. Better to catch a sober beating for stealing than a drunken beating for nothing,<br />

he thought. Worse still would be if someone saw the belt marks on his neck, and the old<br />

man went back to jail. Not now. Not today. Not one more trip to the boy’s ranch, his father<br />

threatened. Not one more!<br />

Larry emerged from under a concrete culvert that tunneled under the road. The sky was<br />

scorched pale except for a single lonely cloud. He heard someone shouting. An old man was<br />

leaning on a walker at the edge of the street wrestling his garbage cans.<br />

“You think I don’t know how my garbage cans go, pendejo? How about you trade places<br />

with me sometime, and then we see how good you keep your garbage cans off the curb?”<br />

He slammed the lid down, and with one hand on his walker tried to haul it up the driveway. A<br />

crumbled beer can rattled against the concrete and Larry caught the scent of flat alcohol. He<br />

looked around but there was no one but the old man. He sped up his pace.<br />

“Hey mijo!” came the voice.<br />

Larry ducked under the cover of the arroyo bank, his heart knocking against his rib cage.<br />

“Hey, little wey… come over here,” came the voice again. “I won’t tell on you.”<br />

Larry peeked his head up out of the ditch.<br />

“Hey, Red. You want to smoke some weed? Come into the shade. Let’s talk awhile, well.”<br />

The old man’s yard was full of junk, but as Larry climbed out of the ditch, he saw that<br />

everything was placed just so. Statuettes of cherubs and the Mother Mary; a metal lunchbox<br />

embossed with Elvis Presley hung from a mulberry branch beside a rusty birdcage; a lightup<br />

Santa Claus stood cheerfully with the three wise men looking down over the baby Jesus.<br />

Against a cracked wall was a stagnant birdbath lined with dark algae.<br />

Larry walked past a massive rose bush to where the man was standing. He was shirtless and sweaty,<br />

and his girthy chest and shoulders were covered with sparse patches of long black hairs. He wore<br />

thick suspenders that held up his britches and his belly bulged over them in a sagging heap.<br />


Inching the walker along in small jerks, he abandoned the garbage cans and headed towards<br />

the shade of a low hanging cypress. Then he sat down on a wooden bench. Both of his feet<br />

were wrapped tightly in ACE bandages, and he wore oversized medical shoes. Beside him a<br />

record player sat atop a BBQ grill playing Mexican polka, and there was an antique Daisy BB<br />

rifle leaning up against it.<br />

“Why aren’t you in school, well?” The old man said, gumming his wrinkled lips.<br />

The boy shrugged, hanging his head to hide the welts on his neck.<br />

“I was the groundskeeper over there at Johnson Middle School for forty-five years. That’s how<br />

come I can grow these rose bushes like this without any weed killer or pesticides or nothing. Is<br />

that where you go?”<br />

Larry nodded.<br />

“Are you playing hooky?”<br />

Larry just stood there quietly.<br />

“Well come on over here and sit for a while. Maybe I can put in a word for you. Get you off the<br />

hook.” The old man motioned to the empty space beside him on the bench.<br />

“Yes sir,” the boy said, and made his way to the bench without looking up.<br />

“Ya, that’s right. Make yourself at home there. Take a load off. It’s not bad here under the shade.”<br />

A chain-link fence wrapped around the back yard. A black and white mongrel lay limp and<br />

motionless, its eyes lazily beading here and there.<br />

“You have a nice dog. What’s its name?”<br />

The old man scoffed and hid a smile in his eyes as if such things were too childish to consider.<br />

He said a word in Spanish that Larry had never heard before, but the dog did not stir.<br />

Larry looked around at the strange bric-a-brac.<br />

“You got an old birdbath,” he finally said.<br />

“Ya, I put out fresh water sometimes, but the birds don’t come here. I don’t know why.”<br />

“You just need one of these.” The boy said pulling an army chain from beneath his shirt. On the end<br />

was a large red bead made of dried birch wood, and through the center was a smooth metal pin.<br />

“Watch this little deal right here,” Larry said. “Just watch.” He twisted the rod flush against the wood<br />

of the bead, and it began to trill and twitter mimicking the sounds of sparrows and wrens perfectly.<br />

“Where did you get that,” the old man asked, his eyes fighting back amazement.<br />

“Coronado Boy’s Ranch. This Eagle Scout came once and took us to the botanical gardens<br />


and helped us make ‘em. That’s where I’m going now, to the gardens.” The boy unzipped his<br />

backpack and took out a book titled Birds of the Southwest. Inside the front cover was a list of<br />

birds, some with red check marks beside them.<br />

“You like your books, huh,” the old man said with a hint of skepticism in his eyes. “Did he read this to you?”<br />

“No, I can read it myself,” Larry said. “It tells all about the different species of birds in this area.” He flipped<br />

through the colored photographs. “This one’s a Southern Blue Bird. This one’s a Vermillion flycatcher.”<br />

“Oh.” The old man looked indignant. “Are there any good-looking tits around here?” The old man said smiling.<br />

“Actually, there are,” the boy said without pausing. “There are Great Tits and Shy Tits. Let me<br />

look them up for you. Just a second,” he said, flipping the pages.<br />

“Oh,” the old man said laughing. “I don’t think those are the ones I’m looking for. Did I tell you<br />

I was a groundskeeper for forty-five years? Nobody ever taught me to read though. You see<br />

all these rose bushes and flowers? I grew them up myself. I don’t even use no pesticides or<br />

nothing. I never had to read that in no book.”<br />

Larry kept turning the pages.<br />

“Ya know, I grew up in a boy’s home sometimes too. I had to fight a lot. Especially against the<br />

colored boys. Sometimes the retarded boys. Still better than fighting my old man though.”<br />

The chirps stopped abruptly, and the boy took a second look over the old man. Larry felt an<br />

eerie familiarity. The old man’s hands shook, and his eyes were bloodshot and rheumy.<br />

“Why are your legs wrapped like that,” the boy asked.<br />

“They hurt bad. Only my medicine helps, but I’m out right now. Maybe I could have some of<br />

yours, well?” He nudged the bottle sticking out of the open bookbag.<br />

“Sure,” the boy said. “You can have it all.” Larry handed it over to him.<br />

“I knew you were my carnal, mijo.” He unscrewed the plastic cap and took a swig.<br />

“You’re too young for this anyway.” He patted Larry on the back. The boy grimaced, and his<br />

shoulders crumpled inward. The old man pulled his arm away, and Larry felt him staring at the<br />

marks on his neck.<br />

“Oh, he whipped you good, huh? What happened,” he asked, looking more closely at the<br />

bottle, then he took another swig. The boy stayed silent except for a few sniffles. And the old<br />

man continued taking pulls of whiskey.<br />

“How could anyone hit a child, I ask myself,” his eyes drifting to another time. “And can you<br />

believe my daughter once said fuck you, to my face? Right to my face,” he repeated, inhaling<br />

through his teeth and his fists balled up. Larry’s stomach went tight, and he felt his body brace<br />

hard against the bench.<br />

“—And I hit her right in her mouth. I wished I would have broke her jaw that time so she could<br />

never talk like that to me again.” The old man looked down at the boy and winced, then his eyes<br />


went clear again. “But she was almost<br />

grown by then,” he said, coming out of<br />

his terrible memory.<br />

“Hey, do the bird thing again,” he<br />

said, taking another swig of whiskey.<br />

Larry wiped his eyes but he did not<br />

look up.<br />

“My legs are wrapped up like this<br />

because the nerves are all dead from<br />

sugar crystals. The doctors say I drink<br />

too much, eat too much sugar. I don’t<br />

know. One time a fly got in there<br />

and laid eggs. There was all kinda<br />

maggots and shit eating my foot.<br />

They had to cut my toe off. I was in<br />

the hospital for three damn weeks,” he<br />

said, raising his voice again. “Every day<br />

waiting for that damn doctor to come<br />

Flightless Bird<br />

Bronze<br />

Audrey Ball<br />

in and tell me if they were going to cut my whole leg off. It was bad times, mijo. Bad times.” He<br />

went to pass the bottle to the boy as if by some old habit and then pulled it back and set it on<br />

his knee.<br />

“And you know, all that time, and my daughter never came once to see me?” he said and<br />

took another drink. “Not once. I sure could have used her pretty smile then. My son would<br />

have come, I know that for a fact, but he died of cancer some years back. He was a champion<br />

wrestler. Full ride scholarship to the University. He was the coach there right up until he was<br />

admitted to the hospital. He used to bring my little granddaughters here to see me all the time<br />

when he was alive.”<br />

Larry picked up the bird whistle again and chirped it, kicking his legs back and forth beneath<br />

him. It wasn’t long before a distant trill echoed back. Larry paused until he heard it again, then<br />

he returned the call and waited until it was answered. The old man’s eyes went wide.<br />

“You’re talking to her, mijo. She hears you,” he said, his words slurring.<br />

The chirps went back and forth like this for several minutes until a wren fluttered down and<br />

lighted on the arm of a Saguaro. The boy’s smile reached across his face.<br />

“It’s a wren,” he said. “You know the Navajo believe some types of birds bring back messages<br />

from the spirit world—from your dead relatives.” He continued the chirping, and the bird<br />

ruffled its feathers and twisted its head to get a better look at them.<br />

Larry heard a strange yet familiar sound and realized it was dozens of metal BBs sloshing around<br />

inside of a rifle. The old man held the gun unsteadily in the air. Then there was the click of the<br />

trigger and a thwack! And the wren’s wing went crooked, and it spiraled down into the arroyo.<br />


“Go pick up that dead bird,” the old man said. “Put it in that garbage can over there.” He<br />

hiccupped and then belched, and the reek of liquor filled the air. “The neighbors might not like<br />

it if they see it.” The old man said.<br />

The boy ran to the edge of the arroyo where the bird lay splayed in the tawny grass, and he<br />

scooped it up into the bowl of his hands. It was soft and supple; unlike anything he’d ever<br />

touched. He could hardly believe it was real. Its neck was limp, and its head rolled in his hands.<br />

Its eyes were like drops of ink reflecting pinholes of sunshine. Even in this state it was serene<br />

and otherworldly. It didn’t seem to weigh anything at all, as if it were made mostly from light<br />

and air or some ethereal substance unfathomed by science and man. The smaller feathers<br />

were so downy and delicate his fingers registered no touch as he brushed over them.<br />

Larry felt a shame he’d not known before—as if he’d looked too closely upon a thing that<br />

belonged only to the heavens. And that by merely handling the bird, he’d somehow peeked<br />

into its secrets—how the creature could dive and lift and hover on nothing but air. He looked<br />

away to spare the wren this profane indignity. Somewhere in the halls of his heart a light<br />

flickered out—one that he would spend much of his adult life trying to rekindle.<br />

Larry felt the old man’s eyes on him, and he swallowed everything back.<br />

“Don’t be sad, well.” The old man took another drink. “That little peckerwood’s been stealing<br />

my weed.” The old man’s face contorted into a smile, and he wheezed out a hideous cackle<br />

and coughed and rocked back and forth with the rifle across his lap.<br />

Larry stood there, the bird cupped in his hands, speckled feathers jutting from between his<br />

fingers. Then he turned and walked away down the arroyo.<br />

“Hey little wey! Don’t go! I didn’t get to tell you about my retirement ceremony yet,” he<br />

shouted, half desperate to keep the boy from leaving. “Hey! You forgot your stuff, well!”<br />

But Larry felt only the mute heat and the silence of the bird.<br />

“Hey! Don’t you walk away from me, cabrón.”<br />

But Larry kept walking.<br />

§<br />

Later that afternoon Larry returned panting and wide eyed, a bulging trash bag over one<br />

shoulder. He could still hear his father’s slurred shouts ringing in his ears.<br />

The old man was slumped on the bench in a heap, the empty bottle spilled over in his lap. The<br />

smell of cheap whiskey filled Larry’s nostrils and he winced and exhaled sharply.<br />

He unzipped his backpack and filled it with the extra things he’d brought from home. A<br />

change of clothes; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some jerky in a brown paper bag;<br />

the binoculars his mother had given him before she died. Then he tied his army green sleeping<br />

bag to the shoulder straps with some ratty old shoestrings. The old man never stirred though<br />

the flies circled his feet.<br />

Larry shouldered his pack and walked away. When he reached the edge of the yard, he turned<br />


ack and stared over the old man for some time. Seventy years of life had done its work on<br />

him—chipped away at his sanity until it had been ground to dust and cast into the wind. Larry<br />

slid the BB gun out from under the old man’s arms and stuffed it through his rolled up sleeping<br />

bag. Then he took off the bird whistle and hung it around the old man’s neck.<br />

Larry made his way out of the city through the labyrinth of byways he knew by heart, and<br />

when he reached the open desert, he paused beneath the shade of a towering cottonwood.<br />

He rested and ate the sandwich and watched the sun dip below the horizon. The heat of the<br />

day fell away as if it had been sucked back into the earth itself.<br />

When the air had cooled enough, he took up the rifle and used the barrel as a makeshift<br />

pickaxe breaking away the hardpan floor until he’d dug a big enough hole. Then he grasped<br />

the barrel in both hands and heaved the gun into a thicket of mesquites. He unrolled his<br />

sleeping bag and gently removed the limp body of the wren and placed it in the hole and<br />

covered it over. He squatted over the grave for a long moment before rocking back on his<br />

heels and hugging his knees, unsure of what to do next. Finally, he lay down on the sleeping<br />

bag and watched the stars come out. A pack of coyotes yipped and howled in the distance,<br />

and he did not feel afraid.<br />

§<br />

That night he dreamed he was above the city looking down over the lights, the wren<br />

soaring beside him. He was weightless hovering in the air, his body asleep somewhere in<br />

the desertscapes below. In the morning he awoke to the sound of wind gusting through the<br />

branches above him. A haze of cottony seeds poured down like a warm snow storm all around<br />

him, and it dawned on him that the body of the wren would be slowly taken up by the roots of<br />

the tree and one day strewn across the desert in the form of seeds.<br />

In the last few miles up the long dirt road, a ragged coydog began trailing him. It was limping<br />

and covered in mange and the boy guessed it must have come off a nearby res. He coaxed<br />

it to him with the remains of the jerky, its hunger overpowering its caution, but it would only<br />

come within a few yards, taking the dried meat from off the ground and then bolting back into<br />

the brush. Before long he had nothing left, and it disappeared back to wherever it had come.<br />

Larry finally looked up at the steel arc that read Coronado Boy’s Ranch. Several sparrows<br />

hopped along the sign. Mr. Dawson, the lead ranch hand, was kneeling at the long iron bar<br />

that served as a gate. He was turning a hefty wrench on the bolted hinges. Behind him in the<br />

distance the other boys were bucking hay bales onto the flatbed and taking turns driving.<br />

Mr. Dawson looked up at the boy from under his sweat stained cowboy hat. Larry held his<br />

head high, no longer ashamed of the belt marks on his neck. The man eyed the boy for a long<br />

moment, and then looked passed him down the road.<br />

“Good to see ya, Larry. Who’s your friend?” He motioned with his chin to where the coydog was panting<br />

and holding up its lame paw. Larry looked over his shoulder at the dog and then back at Mr. Dawson.<br />

“Can he come too?” Larry asked.<br />

Mr. Dawson smiled. He set down his wrench, wiped his oily hands on his jeans, and swung the gate open.<br />

“Yeah Larry, he can come too.”<br />


Self-Portrait in Oil<br />

Oil<br />

Amanda Coulter<br />


Redefinition<br />

Collin Chadwick<br />

Wisps of a dying galaxy<br />

reflected in his sad eyes:<br />

alone at dusk,<br />

memories of fading sunlight,<br />

layered velvet skies –<br />

a vast compendium<br />

of secret knowledge,<br />

remnants of little tragedies.<br />

No longer the energy to hate,<br />

but no chance of surrender.<br />

I remember him<br />

reciting that tearful eulogy<br />

for what could have been<br />

under the shadow<br />

of the big buildings,<br />

stealing many final<br />

looks at the splintered<br />

wood of the<br />

empty pierhead,<br />

sailing the white tresses<br />

of the open sea.<br />

He forged his own<br />

path to the west<br />

in a torturous voyage<br />

to the edge of silence,<br />

yearning for some<br />

emissary of peace<br />

in the darkness<br />

of a world gone mad.<br />

Sore knuckles reveling<br />

in glorious lassitude,<br />

those ghosts no longer haunt me.<br />


Absolute Magic<br />

Christian Anderson<br />

Landscape with a Fairy<br />

Acrylic Paint<br />

Julia Faltin<br />

“Magic. Absolute magic,” Simon whispered to himself.<br />

49<br />

“Is this your first visit kiddo?” Bert the<br />

usher said to the young boy practically<br />

jumping with excitement in front of him.<br />

“Yes sir!” Six-year-old Simon beamed in reply.<br />

“Well, your pops is a regular! He’s been<br />

visiting since it opened with your mom! Yes,<br />

sir, we’ll treat you like royalty here kiddo,”<br />

Bert said as he handed Simon a sticker<br />

labeled my first movie in fancy bold letters.<br />

Simon’s eyes widened and his face lit up<br />

in a big toothy grin. Bert grinned back.<br />

Simon’s dad clapped Bert on the back,<br />

tipping his faded ball cap towards the<br />

usher as the pair passed through into the<br />

theater behind him.<br />

Just as father and son settled into their<br />

seats, the lights dimmed and a hush fell over<br />

the auditorium. The silence cast a spell of<br />

anticipation on the unsuspecting audience<br />

of adventurers. Suddenly, the whir of the<br />

projector pierced through the silence and<br />

illuminated the screen in front of them with a<br />

dazzling explosion of light and color. Simon<br />

watched slack-jawed as moving figures<br />

reflected off the screen into his eyes, like<br />

echoes of life. Mirrors of motion.<br />

Simon clutched his bucket of popcorn<br />

close, like a stuffed bear during<br />

storytime. Warm feelings fluttered in his<br />

chest and awe rose in his heart as he<br />

watched the scenes unfold. He reached out to the armrest of the seat next to him, gripping<br />

his father’s hand as he looked back at him with a grin. “Wow,” Simon breathed.<br />

His father beamed almost as bright as the projector, holding his son’s tiny hand in his own.<br />

“That is what magic feels like Simon,” he whispered to his son. The two lapsed into silence, their<br />

attention fixed on the beauty unfolding before them. They let waves of light and shadow flicker<br />

across their vision, washing them in a world of image and motion. A time capsule of dreams.

Weeds choked the light posts around the entrance, sprouting from ugly cracks in the<br />

concrete. The rough brick walls, painted in graffiti of sloppy designs and errant symbols, were<br />

accentuated by empty wrappers and broken beer bottles. The chipped and cracking façade<br />

still held the frames of old poster displays, with their glass long since warped, shattered, and<br />

scored to oblivion.<br />

Simon stepped up to the ticket booth, his wiry six-foot frame appearing blurry in the muddled,<br />

smeared glass of the box office window. He could barely see the graying hairs on his chin<br />

through the grime. He sighed. He took a jingling ring of keys from his pocket, fiddling with the<br />

lock on the door. The rusty mechanism turned with a whine and the glass doors ground open,<br />

leading Simon into the darkness beyond.<br />

Simon soon found the breaker for the house lights, his hand hovering over the controls. Taking<br />

a deep breath, he flipped the switch. The lights came on with a faint hum, revealing a lobby<br />

covered in tattered wallpaper and decorated with mottled brass light fixtures. Wires jutted<br />

out from odd angles in little nooks and crannies along the wall. The last vestiges of registers<br />

and arcade machines manifested in tangled cords springing up just like the weeds breaking<br />

through on the concrete outside.<br />

Simon found himself drawn to the front of the lobby where an old ticket collection booth stood<br />

like a sentinel guarding the main doors–a lone bastion resting in a sea of run-down concession<br />

stands and fraying carpet. Simon placed his hand on the pulpit-like stand, his mind flashing<br />

back to paper stubs and smiling in anticipation. He slowly brushed a thin layer of dust off the<br />

stand with gentle fingers.<br />

A voice startled him out of his silent reverie.<br />

“I hope that you don’t mind me coming in through the back door, kiddo.”<br />

Simon clutched his chest laughing. “That’s okay, but at least let me know when you’re going<br />

to be coming Bert!” he said as he straightened himself up.<br />

Bert smiled. “Sorry. Guess I was a bit distracted by my memories of the old place.”<br />

“She’s certainly seen better days.” Simon pursed his lips.<br />

“That she has, kiddo. But then again, the last owner didn’t have his entire life savings invested<br />

in its revival.” Bert winked.<br />

“Nobody’s that crazy,” Simon replied sardonically, trying to hide a silly grin. “I’m just glad you<br />

stuck around to help me with this mad quest, Bert. It wouldn’t be the same without you.”<br />

“You’re lucky I’m still alive to save you from your sentimentality.” Bert smiled, a certain<br />

wistfulness resting behind his eyes.<br />

“Even if you weren’t here, your ghost would probably stick around to criticize me.” Simon laughed.<br />

“You’re right about that!” Bert chuckled.<br />

Turning around, Simon drank in the lobby’s atmosphere for a moment. “Want to climb up to<br />


Always a Circus<br />

Photography<br />

Leah Trieu<br />


the booth in the first auditorium and give it a<br />

whirl for me?” he finally asked.<br />

Bert gave his assent, and Simon slowly walked<br />

towards the hall leading to the auditoriums. He<br />

held the keys loosely in his hand, letting them rattle<br />

around in the silence of the cavernous space.<br />

The smell of stale popcorn and old carpet<br />

greeted him as he slipped quietly inside the<br />

first auditorium. Stains darkened the carpet<br />

along the aisles between the seats. He<br />

made his way to the front of the auditorium,<br />

noticing scuffs and shoe marks scoring the<br />

uncovered portions of the floor. The onceplush<br />

chairs, in surprisingly good condition<br />

for their age, still felt worn and faded against<br />

the backdrop of his childhood dreams. The<br />

sight brought forth memories, bitter and<br />

sweet, melding with the modern moment.<br />

A hundred empty seats. A hundred hollow<br />

ghosts. A hundred eyes of the past looking<br />

towards the future. Sitting down in the third<br />

row, Simon stared at the stately screen<br />

looming above his head. He sighed.<br />

A beam of wavering light shot down through the darkness, illuminating the air in a soft<br />

radiant glow. Tiny motes of dust floated within the beam’s gaze; unsuspecting travelers<br />

caught up in the magic of light playing on shadow. The dappled shaft of brightness seared<br />

through the air towards the gray dimness of the screen, illuminating the frame with a hidden<br />

cast of colors, shades, and hues.<br />

For a while Simon watched, transfixed by the floating images. The empty seats around<br />

him somehow seemed full again. Visions of eyes transfixed filled the periphery of Simon’s<br />

imaginary gaze. Patrons waited with bated breath in his mind’s eye as they watched the<br />

wonder of a thousand moving pictures build upon one another to create new worlds. Simon<br />

reached out to put a hand on the armrest of the seat next to him.<br />

Tears ran like rivers down his cheeks. He smiled.<br />

“This one’s for you Dad,” he whispered to the darkness next to him. He shook his head at the<br />

wonder of it all. “Magic. Absolute magic,” he breathed, before closing his eyes.<br />


Groping Innocence<br />

Mackenzie Dougherty<br />

She can feel his hand<br />

on her thigh,<br />

Caressing her leg.<br />

His arms wrap around her waist as they<br />

sit in the classroom chairs.<br />

His friend sitting across the small table<br />

comments,<br />

But she can only chuckle shakily, saying,<br />

“It’s okay!”<br />

She can feel his hand,<br />

rubbing her stomach.<br />

The rest of the class huddled in a corner<br />

playing card games,<br />

Never taking notice.<br />

A teacherless room gives the students<br />

the freedom to do as they please.<br />

She can feel his hand.<br />

An invitation?<br />

No.<br />

Night Bloomer Cactus Flower<br />

Charcoal<br />

Kira Okuma<br />

No.<br />

NO.<br />

“I-I-I don’t mind.. hugs!”<br />

She can feel his hand<br />

Groping her innocence.<br />


Comfort & Joy Ride<br />

Travis Cooper<br />

I get a lot of gifts from Goodwill. My mom is frugal and climate-conscious. I call her Shmoo,<br />

a silly nickname that I gave her when I was in elementary school. Thrift stores are just where<br />

Shmoo shops.<br />

Last Christmas was different. I received a Lego Passenger Train from Target, and a 4,000-piece<br />

Assembly Square set ordered directly from the Lego website. This lavish departure from my family’s<br />

norms was thrilling, but also unsettling because change usually signals trouble at my house.<br />

Shmoo purchased my gifts in November to make sure we got them before they sold out. I<br />

spent hours studying the enlarged photos on the sides of the boxes. The train had a dining<br />

car where minifigures could buy tiny hot dogs and pastries. Assembly Square was a threestory<br />

shopping complex with stunning architectural details, including awnings, shutters, and<br />

window boxes. In the bakery, there was a wedding cake topped with an itty-bitty bride and<br />

groom. There was even a miniature Lego set for the minifigure children. I loved the idea of<br />

Lego for Lego! This sounds funny, but Lego is both singular and plural, like deer or sheep.<br />

After a few days of polite begging, Shmoo let me open the sets early. I worked furiously and<br />

finished construction during Thanksgiving Break. I built everything except for the minifigures—I<br />

saved those for Shmoo. Her favorite was the ballerina from the Assembly Square dance studio.<br />

Shmoo thought they looked alike, despite the ballerina’s Lego-yellow complexion.<br />

There was no obvious display space for my Lego masterpiece. Our house is small, and my<br />

room is the smallest, except for the bathroom. After a lengthy debate, we decided to take down<br />

the Christmas tree to make room. I dragged in the dusty table from the patio and cleaned it<br />

three times. Shmoo covered the top of the table with grey felt to mimic concrete. I carefully<br />

transferred Assembly Square and encircled it with the train. We squeezed the table into the<br />

nook by the fireplace in the living room. Everything fit perfectly! After that, we put the presents<br />

under the patio table.<br />

Shmoo’s unusual spending continued. She bought Lego accessories for Assembly Square—a<br />

roof-top swimming pool, a sports car, a recycling truck, and a city park. Then, she took down the<br />

rest of our regular Christmas decorations and replaced them with Lego items. She bought Lego<br />

stockings, Lego wreaths, and Lego sets to decorate end tables, window sills, and the fireplace.<br />

By Christmas, every surface in the living room was Lego-embellished. It was glorious! But also concerning.<br />

Early on, I tried to stop Shmoo. I told her not to buy the $280 Assembly Square. She had<br />

already given me the $160 Passenger Train, and I said that was enough.<br />

“The train needs a city,” Shmoo argued.<br />

“No, it doesn’t,” I said.<br />

“I don’t care about the $280,” she chatted happily.<br />


Soft Waters<br />

Water Color<br />

Marii Ink<br />

“Who are you?” I snapped back.<br />

“This will be the best Christmas ever!” Shmoo<br />

danced around me, making silly faces. I scowled<br />

at her incredulously.<br />

Shmoo stopped twirling. She lowered her head<br />

and shielded her eyes with her left hand. She<br />

does that when she is upset.<br />

“You know why,” she said softly.<br />

And I guess I did. I just didn’t want to think<br />

about it.<br />

It started with a cough. Shmoo called it “COVID<br />

Lung,” even though she had never tested<br />

positive for the virus. She coughed for a year<br />

before either of us worried. Then, she developed<br />

intense abdominal pain, and she coughed so<br />

violently that she threw up.<br />

Shmoo doesn’t like doctors. But she was scared<br />

enough to get help. The doctor thought it was<br />

something serious, and Shmoo had an appointment with a gastroenterologist after<br />

Christmas. Assembly Square was my refuge during this waiting time. There I could fix<br />

any problem with little pieces of plastic. Anything that I wanted to happen happened.<br />

On Christmas Eve, I set the train on its top speed and put Shmoo’s ballerina in the cab.<br />

She raced around the track while we opened presents and ate nachos, our traditional<br />

Christmas Eve cuisine. No one knew the ballerina was driving the train but me.<br />

It wasn’t cancer. Shmoo had an ulcer, a hernia, and severe esophagitis. Now she takes<br />

medication every day.<br />

We are planning another Lego Christmas this year. Shmoo already purchased my gift,<br />

the Lego modular police station that attaches to Assembly Square. It is new with factory<br />

seals, but Shmoo bought it with trade credit at Bookman’s, a resale shop. She is herself<br />

again—healthy and thrifty—and that is all I want for Christmas.<br />

Assembly Square is still in my living room on the patio table. These days, it is buried under<br />

jackets and old mail. Occasionally, I excavate and run the train. The ballerina still drives fast.<br />


A Crescent Moon<br />

Conner Brooke Lechner<br />

Gentle white light hummed around him in a spiraled column. Auberich performed one final check<br />

of his gear. His sword, a Hallowhold longblade, custom smithed to a neurotic degree, was fastened<br />

to his hip. His left palm rested on the flared pommel. The long, leather-wrapped handle protruded<br />

from its wooden scabbard. Overlapping scales furnished the scabbard’s exterior. A leather belt<br />

containing a set of vials was strapped around his waist. His boots were laced tight, and his gloves<br />

pulled high on his wrists. The plate-steel on the left forearm was set so as not to hinder mobility. He<br />

rolled his wrists; everything was comfortable. He pulled his helmet over his head and buckled the<br />

strap under his chin. He closed the visor and connected the latch.<br />

A new breach had been discovered, and the order had chosen him. He wished he was excited,<br />

the Maiden knows he used to be. Unfortunately, it meant enduring whatever it was that<br />

brought him here. Where a breach was and what it contained was never known. Such were the<br />

risks of a sentinel. His shoulders relaxed, and he thought back to when he himself was saved.<br />

How his stomach flipped and kicked, unsure of who or what was happening before him. He<br />

remembered the stoic face of the woman who saved him all those years ago, of the pain, loss,<br />

and promises made that day. The thought visited him almost every time he was summoned.<br />

He shook his head at the memory. The humming ceased, and Auberich dropped.<br />

His feet almost slipped upon contact with the slick mud. The nighttime air was cold, and a<br />

breeze carried the scent of rot and decay downwind toward him. A crescent moon illuminated<br />

the remains of a village before him. Broken cobblestone walls and shattered wooden planks<br />

littered the muddy streets. Around the village stood tall pines that danced in the wind as the<br />

rain fell. A whimper broke through the rain.<br />

He found himself in a clearing outside the village before a small human girl no older than six. She<br />

hid in the remnants of a merchant’s cart. Her knees were tucked to her chest, and her scrawny arms<br />

were wrapped around them. Her hay-blonde hair was twisted in twin braids and tucked under a<br />

dirty maroon cap that matched her dress. Tears ran tracks through the layer of dirt caked on her<br />

face. Her eyes were squeezed so tight that she must’ve been unaware of his presence.<br />

Auberich knelt and placed a gloved hand on the girl’s shoulder. She screamed and pushed<br />

herself harder against the splintered wood. A deep laugh came from the middle of the clearing.<br />

He rose and turned towards the source.<br />

Before him was a sight enough to send chills down the spine of any warrior. There in the<br />

clearing, surrounded by piles of scattered tools and weapons, towered a dreg–aberrations<br />

from the outer planes, manifestations of sin and wrongdoing that held no place in the material<br />

world. They’d appeared more frequently over the past years. He believed this would be the<br />

third this year. A record, and a horrifying realization. Dregs only broke through the planes once<br />

every three, maybe five years, and they were never this big. They were getting stronger, and<br />

the world was not ready for them.<br />

It stood double his height and was wide as a hut. It was naked, and its pale gray body was a<br />


jumbled mess of folds, each one covered in more pus and boils than the one before it. Its legs<br />

were short and stubby, and its log-like arms dangled past its knees. Elongated talons jutted<br />

from each of its three-fingered hands. Scraps of flesh and cloth clung to rows of jagged and<br />

rotted teeth that lined its maw, which hung unnaturally from its shriveled face. Murky eyes<br />

bulged from its wrinkled head as it watched the girl.<br />

He could take her and try to make an escape, but a sentinel’s duty comes first. The oath he<br />

swore was to the sanctity of the worlds and the aether that binds them. There was no choice<br />

but to confront it.<br />

Auberich reached down and gripped the girl’s arm. She squirmed as Auberich pulled her to<br />

her feet. He kneeled and pointed at her, then towards the ruins. The girl stared past him. Again,<br />

he indicated for her to leave, yet the girl continued to ignore him as she watched the dreg<br />

behind him. Her body trembled uncontrollably.<br />

He shoved the fear-stricken girl backward and pointed toward the ruins of the village buildings.<br />

“Run.”<br />

She stumbled back, her little footsteps splashing in the mud as she fled. The monstrosity<br />

raised its arms and shambled after her. A terrible gurgle emanated from its throat, its body<br />

jiggled with every step. The rain did little to drown the horrid noise.<br />

He stood as he wrapped his fingers around the amulet that adorned his neck. The well-worn<br />

leather gloves creaked lightly around the white-stone pendant. His adrenaline began to build<br />

and he closed his eyes. The rain drummed lightly upon his ornate helmet and sprinkled off the<br />

intricately carved pauldrons on his shoulders. The small patter was no comfort. He began to<br />

chant. “Cuairtich mi Mhuire Bán, cunnart às aonais.” The amulet hummed quietly, and a soft<br />

light emanated from within it.<br />

The delicate glow and hum pulled the monster’s attention. Its tongue swung to the corner of<br />

its mouth and settled over its lower jaw. A milky froth of saliva dripped from its warted tongue.<br />

Its eyes flared, and a high-pitched screech left its throat.<br />

“Treoraigh dom ionas, go gcosnóidh mé ar neamh hiontach.” He finished his chant, and the<br />

amulet reached its zenith. Strength flooded his body as the familiar burn ran its course. It<br />

radiated outward, first from his chest, then to his limbs, and finally his mind. His fingers curled<br />

as every strand of muscle was momentarily consumed in agony. Auberich opened his eyes.<br />

They flashed white, and his pupils constricted. He exhaled and drew his longblade. The moon<br />

reflected in the polished steel.<br />

He placed both hands on the handle and rested the slender blade on the crook of his elbow.<br />

He took a low, solid stance. He circled the dreg, one careful footstep at a time. It shuffled closer<br />

to him and stopped. Its beady eyes twitched as it scanned the warrior before it. Its arms were<br />

limp, and its torso cocked forward. The two stood within twenty paces of each other. Auberich<br />

held his stance and studied the dreg.<br />

Its scent was pungent and awful—a tortuous concoction of rot and bile. Its legs were short and<br />

fat but sturdy. It didn’t seem to cover distance quickly, but in close range, it no doubt struck<br />


quickly and deadly. Its arms were long and bulky. Its head sat upon a disgusting pile of fat and<br />

housed its enormous jaw. He decided the most efficient approach would be to cripple it.<br />

Auberich’s off hand thumbed along the assortment of vials on his belt. He felt for a seven-sided<br />

container with a looped top. He spilled the shimmering liquid over his blade. The sour odor of<br />

fermented herbs filled the air. The steel hissed as the mixture integrated itself with the steel.<br />

He flung the rest at the dreg before him. A few droplets crossed the clearing and landed on its<br />

forward leg. A small crackle and plume of smoke followed. The dreg didn’t seem to notice, or<br />

maybe it did, but it couldn’t comprehend what had happened.<br />

Auberich controlled his breath and steadied his body. His heart pounded. One would think<br />

that after almost a decade as a sentinel, his nerves would be steady. However, one false step<br />

meant that this creature would kill him and terrorize the region.<br />

He could not let that happen.<br />

The dreg bellowed and threw its bulky arms back. A torrent of spittle shot from its maw.<br />

Auberich sprinted forward. He closed in on its right and anticipated an attack from its forward<br />

arm. He stepped in under a colossal swing. The wind rushed overhead. He arched his blade<br />

over its thigh. There was little resistance as the razored edge dug into the flesh. A mist of thick,<br />

blackened blood sprayed forward over his visor. The dreg roared and swung with its left<br />

arm. Auberich ducked and rolled over the now injured leg. The putrid scent clung to him. He<br />

brought the blade down over its knee. He could feel each of the tendons sever beneath his<br />

blade. It hobbled forward and slumped to a knee. A muddled growl left its throat.<br />

Auberich circled behind and readied his blade. He thrust forward and pierced the dreg’s lower<br />

back and carved a long horizontal gash through its back. The steel sizzled against the dreg’s<br />

flesh. The severed flaps of leathery skin bubbled and popped, its regeneration unable to take<br />

effect. The dreg twisted around and swung wildly with its left arm. It met only air. It used its<br />

momentum to lunge forward and bite. Auberich leapt backward. His feet slid in the mud and<br />

its teeth slammed inches from his body. The dreg followed with a smash from its right arm.<br />

Auberich met the strike with a parry. The blade dug into the underside of its fist. The impact<br />

was jarring, and it took everything he had not to lose balance. Nevertheless, he used the dreg’s<br />

own momentum to send it blundering forward. The blade sliced clean through the bottom<br />

of its hand. The severed claw landed in the mud with a heavy splash. Auberich took a step<br />

backward, and the dreg screeched as it whirled to face him.<br />

It stood hunched over, its face was contorted and dripped with saliva. The creature panted. A<br />

fog left its mouth with every breath. It swiped toward him. Its massive arms thrashed through<br />

the air with unrestrained rage. Auberich retreated across the slippery ground, each step<br />

narrowly avoided the incoming attacks.<br />

He twisted when a vertical swipe smashed into his abdomen. The blow was like iron, and his<br />

cloth-wrapped mail did nothing to soften the blow. He could feel his ribs fracture as the attack<br />

sent him through the air. He crashed on his side with an audible grunt, the wind knocked from<br />

his chest. His blade landed a few paces from him with a quiet clang. He rolled in pain and<br />

clenched his chest, every muscle in his body tightened. A high-pitched shriek pierced the air. It<br />

drew both Auberich’s and the dreg’s attention.<br />


He craned his neck up, and his stomach dropped. To his horror, the little girl had been watching<br />

from nearby cover and had not fled as expected. The dreg had spun to meet her. It wasted no time<br />

and its ill-proportioned, injured legs carried it toward her at an unsettling gait. All the blood rushed<br />

from his limbs, they felt heavier than ever. The girl was paralyzed, her fear attracting it.<br />

Auberich pushed himself to one knee. He closed his eyes, and he grabbed the amulet.<br />

He chanted, and a nearly inaudible whisper scratched from his throat, “Treoraigh dom do<br />

sheirbhíseach.” It hurt to breathe, and blood pooled in his mouth. The amulet flickered and<br />

he felt his ribs twist and snap into place. His teeth clenched, and he let out a muffled cry. The<br />

pain was excruciating. The dreg paused as if torn between its inherent hate of the Maiden’s<br />

influence and its desire to devour the frightened. The dreg shook, and its entire body jiggled.<br />

The lure of the girl’s fear outweighed all else.<br />

With a roar, it resumed its pace toward her.<br />

Auberich exhaled and crawled through the mud toward his sword. He underestimated just how<br />

fast the dreg was as it made an incredible pace toward her. He pushed himself to his shaky feet<br />

and limped forward. His body screamed, the healing process had begun, but the wounds were still<br />

fresh. He told himself to run. With every footstep, he forced himself to ignore the pain.<br />

The dreg gained speed and the ground shuddered under each step. Its huge arms flailed<br />

behind it as it limped forward on its damaged leg. That would be his target. It had almost made<br />

it to the girl when Auberich reached it. He skidded through the mud and brought his blade<br />

down over the existing injury. The motion was strict and controlled. He struck with the main<br />

edge on the backside of the dreg’s knee. Immediately, he crossed his arms and twisted his<br />

hips. He struck with the false edge on the front. The cuts rendered the leg unusable, and the<br />

dreg slammed into the ground. Mud flew through the air as the dreg crashed. Auberich placed<br />

himself between the girl and the dreg.<br />

The dreg pushed forward and Auberich stepped between its arms and its body. He brought<br />

his blade up and steel met flesh. His blade cleaved through the gargantuan torso. The<br />

sickening sensation of broken bones resonated throughout his arms as the dreg’s chest split<br />

in half. Strings of mucus ran between the hewed halves, and the dreg went limp. Without<br />

hesitation, he thrust his blade upwards, angled toward where its heart ought to be. The<br />

blade pierced layers of muscle before it came to a stop. The dreg crumbled to its knees, and<br />

Auberich retracted his blade. Thin rivers of corrupted blood streamed down the steel.<br />

The dreg crashed into the mud, and Auberich examined the pile of otherworldly tissue before<br />

him. Its body sizzled and shook as its remains struggled to remain in the material world. Wispy<br />

trails of smoke slowly swirled from the body.<br />

He sheathed his blade, and the adrenaline drained from his body. His face grew pale and his<br />

breath was ragged and shaky. His eyes returned to their normal amber. Nausea overwhelmed<br />

him. He coughed, and blood coated the steel of the helmet’s interior. He removed his helmet<br />

and breathed in. He grimaced as his chest swelled. The expansion from the breath was painful<br />

on his healing ribs. He held it, letting his body adjust. The wind on his face and the rain in his<br />

hair was beyond refreshing.<br />


Auberich exhaled slowly as he limped towards the girl’s hiding spot. He stumbled towards her.<br />

“Come here,” he muttered.<br />

He lowered himself and crumbled to his knees. He was oblivious to the blood and grime that<br />

covered his armor. The girl slowly stepped out from the destroyed cobblestone walls. She was<br />

a shaky, trembling mess that was too terrified to cry.<br />

Auberich waved his hands towards himself. Cautiously, she came forward and fell into his<br />

arms. She curled into his chest and began to cry, slowly at first, followed by a wailing that she<br />

made no effort to restrain. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close as the rain<br />

hammered against his back and washed the filth from his armor.<br />


Shinji<br />

Ink<br />

Lukas Hillenbrand<br />


Desert<br />

Abbie Golden<br />

All my life I’ve been scrambling in the dust with<br />

Fingers caked in dirt and blood scrabbling for the sky. I am<br />

Reaching for something.<br />

I think I would like to drive out into the desert and disappear.<br />

I used to dream of greened woods and foggy mountains, but the dry washes and barren<br />

waste is the home of my blood.<br />

Drive out past the pavement thirty miles, then make a left off the trail.<br />

Out there you can die, the sun will bleach your bones white before anyone finds you.<br />

A cathedral of cactus spires overhead, eulogy carried on the wind.<br />

There’s something about the emptiness that draws me.<br />

Something about the loneliness that calls me.<br />

Something about the desolation that comforts me.<br />

Something about the beauty that bleeds me.<br />

Out in the silence no one will remember my name.<br />

Why does becoming a ghost feel like coming home?<br />

How many days have I spent driving across the spans?<br />

How many days wandering in the washes, mine, and backhills?<br />

Places tread long ago by the dead, twined now with life, it’s all one and the same.<br />

Looking for that was abandoned and destroyed, trying to craft it to art; just as I am<br />

Searching for something, trying to lose something else.<br />

Be wary, if you go, for the sun will light all secrets.<br />

If you wander don’t lose your way, so the desert won’t lay its claim.<br />

Be careful where you tread, the land is not a welcome mat.<br />

And after dark, don’t ever look back, don’t stop for anyone, for the shadows stand at<br />

the roadside to steal your skin.<br />

Look for the oases, their whitened walls and spires, but don’t forget to drink.<br />

Look for the beauty, but don’t forget the danger.<br />

Look for the people, sun and work hardened, but don’t look for me<br />


O<br />

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A W A<br />

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R<br />

R<br />

D<br />

Y<br />

A Tubal Ligation is a<br />

Procedure<br />

Non-Reversible<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Are you sexually active?<br />

Do you have a boyfriend?<br />

What if you get married, and your husband<br />

is upset?<br />

What if you change your mind?<br />

Did you know some people regret this<br />

choice?<br />

Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer something<br />

reversible?<br />

Feet in the stirrups.<br />

Does your family have a history of cancer?<br />

This might be cold.<br />

It won’t hurt.<br />

It only hurts because you’re tight.<br />

You wouldn’t be so tight if you were<br />

sexually active.<br />

Sit up.<br />

Are you sure you don’t want an IUD?<br />

What about birth control pills?<br />

They made you gain weight?<br />

They made you depressed?<br />

How about an injection?<br />

What about an arm implant?<br />

It’d be so fast.<br />

This one can be made of copper.<br />

Are you sure?<br />

Get dressed.<br />

Does your insurance cover this?<br />

Do you need therapy?<br />

Are you stable?<br />

Are you depressed?<br />

Do you have a history of depression?<br />

A family history?<br />

Why are you crying?<br />

Why are you scared?<br />

Don’t look at the statistics.<br />

Don’t look at the news.<br />

Don’t think about what could happen.<br />

You won’t be raped.<br />

It probably won’t happen.<br />

Take a pamphlet.<br />

You’re so young.<br />

Do your parents know?<br />

I know you’re an adult.<br />

How do they feel?<br />

Do they support you?<br />

Are you sure?<br />

The recovery is painful.<br />

The recovery is long.<br />

Do you have the sick time to cover this?<br />

Ignore the stares.<br />

Sign these papers.<br />

Are you sure?<br />

Pee in this cup.<br />

Ignore the judgment you’ll receive.<br />

It’s just three small incisions.<br />

It will reduce your risk of ovarian cancer.<br />

It will increase your risk of ridicule.<br />

Have you thought of an excuse?<br />

What will you tell people?<br />

Will you lie?<br />

Will you tell the truth?<br />

Does it matter?<br />

Infertility is a popular excuse.<br />

Think long and hard.<br />

Are you sure?<br />

Are you sure?<br />

Are you sure?<br />

63<br />

Sign Here.

Matryoshki<br />

Photography<br />

Abby Maki<br />


Illuminated Moonlight<br />

Water Color & Ink<br />

Ashley Carmichael<br />


Is This Faith?<br />

Raiden Lopez<br />

“IT’S dead. We need to remove it.”<br />

Emotionless words that I barely hear through my turmoil.<br />

IT’S dead? How? Why? Did I do something wrong?<br />

Did I kill my precious gift before I had a chance to treasure it?<br />

No—I need more proof.<br />

“You don’t need it, it’s better that it’s dead.”<br />

“I don’t want an attachment to you.”<br />

“You couldn’t care for it.”<br />

“It will be ruined, just like you!”<br />

Emotional blunting is my only way of existence for 13 days, 9 hours and 45 mins.<br />

In a cold concrete office with bare white walls, I wait.<br />

My name is called by a nurse with an out of place smile.<br />

How can you be smiling right now when my world is shaking?<br />

I’m led silently to an ominous room filled with machines I have no knowledge of.<br />

Only one machine is of importance to me.<br />

I remove my purple, floral shirt slowly over my head and set it down gently, as if it would break.<br />

Anything to delay the inevitable in front of me.<br />

“Lay back and relax. This is going to be cold.”<br />

I close my eyes, reciting a distant prayer to a god I don’t believe in: “Please.”<br />

I feel a cold gel penetrating my abdomen as the knob dances circles over it.<br />

“That’s odd... I see a little bean moving.”<br />

My eyes open instantly and I look to the monitor on my left.<br />

I finally release the breath that I have been holding for 13 days, 10 hours and 13 mins.<br />

You’re alive.<br />


A<br />


R<br />

T<br />

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P<br />

I<br />

I<br />

S<br />

U A<br />

E<br />

L<br />

E<br />

C<br />

Soul Swimming<br />

Oil on Canvas<br />

Aiden Badruddoja<br />


We Were Quiet After That<br />

Abbie Golden<br />

“Where’s your future?” I asked her.<br />

She pointed to him– his large and lumbered back<br />

Head lolled to the left, contemplations unknown<br />

She cannot look past to his soul<br />

A part of hers she cleaved out and handed to me<br />

Bleeding and whimpering it writhes, becomes a worm, spits up blood which pools and divines<br />

Two people, two rooms, frozen dinners, a tv never off<br />

Lives intertwined, is blood thicker than poison?<br />

She tells me she is unfair, it is unfair, her tears cannot fall though she must cry<br />

One child hides, the other plays a dragon<br />

The grandfather clock is left unwound<br />

No chimes, the creaking floorboards tell time<br />

She has a garden in the back but nothing grows except thistles.<br />

“Where’s your present?” I asked her.<br />

She replied, arms bared for view:<br />

“A thousand minuscule cuts across the tips of my fingers filled with steel dust from the<br />

pipes we punch for the skeleton men<br />

Who wield and build the country up, a future, a scar in the sky<br />

While I labor in a box and only dream of the sun, to warm my unfingered gloves.<br />

I tell myself stories, heard in dreams<br />

Children and monsters, countries rising and falling, and a simple life with green trees.<br />

This is to keep myself alive.<br />


A hundred burns of chemicals and heat run up and down my arms, faded tan and white<br />

against fair skin<br />

I work to feed the faceless I have cursed, to expunge the curses I’ve laid on myself.<br />

My movements are like dancing, a ballet alone on a barren stage.<br />

I sing to myself, to remind myself I’m human, and one can translate life into words if they know<br />

the right tune.<br />

A dozen places where bruises have since faded on a beaten down body, vessel of wrath<br />

and cowardice<br />

The remnants remain in aches and memories<br />

My fingers now uncurled, yet ears are clogged, neck aches, back twitches, ribs and legs remain.<br />

I ought to pray more than I do, to align my heart with truth.<br />

As we all know, now is an unstable vestibule for tomorrow,<br />

A strange sort of limbo.<br />

Everything is about to break and I am afraid.”<br />

“Where’s your past ?”I asked her.<br />

A long pause.<br />

“It’s buried in the backyard underneath the sycamore tree.”<br />

She looked away, lips pursed shut.<br />

And we were quiet after that.<br />

Recovered Heritage<br />

Collin Chadwick<br />

Still among the world of the living<br />

lie in solitude<br />

the words of the wise.<br />

Solemn voices tinged with passion,<br />

dire hopes of new perspective,<br />

the flowing verses of elders<br />

enshrined for posterity.<br />

Vestiges of a vivid world<br />

cling to delicate parchment,<br />

darkened splotches resting<br />

proudly in stoic remembrance:<br />

Unique imprints<br />

upon the face of time<br />

heralding what has yet<br />

to become legend.<br />

69<br />

Ancient memories breathe anew,<br />

enduring defiantly<br />

in the hearts of those<br />

who never quite forgot.

End of Hibernation<br />

Watercolor & Ink<br />

Ashley Carmichael<br />


Micromort<br />

Watercolor<br />

Adriana Prado<br />


Truth Through the Ages<br />

Mackenzie Dougherty<br />

As children, we learn that honesty is the policy<br />

But we spend our lives asking for an apology.<br />

The boy who cried wolf was eaten alive<br />

Because lying truly isn’t the way to survive.<br />

As teenagers, we hold in our feelings, our souls becoming<br />

corrupt. The truth–writhing and trying to erupt.<br />

Our lies and gossip a spear to the heart,<br />

Candor is what will set us apart.<br />

As we grow up the truth does follow,<br />

Yet we watch ourselves wither and wallow.<br />

Looking for answers, finding proof,<br />

When all we need is to accept the truth.<br />


To Lose a Brother<br />

Ian Jones<br />

At your grave,<br />

At most four times in a decade,<br />

Don’t think I don’t think about you,<br />

I do,<br />

There are still tears and it tears at my heart,<br />

You were my brother, my best friend,<br />

And I was much younger,<br />

And I know that the decaying body at your grave,<br />

Has nothing to do with you now,<br />

And I know you can’t hear me,<br />

And I know I’ll never see you again,<br />

To know these things,<br />

To hurt,<br />

And I don’t want to forget you,<br />

But I do sometimes,<br />

I’m sorry I do,<br />

And I want to be there for everyone here,<br />

Before they are dust with you,<br />

Gone,<br />

To share the same fate, and lose everything you hold dear,<br />

But it’s already gone,<br />

We don’t have enough time,<br />

Disintegrating,<br />

You won’t, we won’t, I don’t<br />

And it’s already gone,<br />

And how can you be there for someone?<br />

What can you do?<br />

To throw your heart and mind so fully,<br />

Just to be there, to help them through,<br />

The insignificant meaninglessness,<br />

This feudal perusal of pursuers,<br />

A love fit to grow,<br />

To help, help, help them to go,<br />

No one, not one, is around long enough to enjoy it.<br />


Sibling Bonding by the River<br />

Photography<br />

Damian Cecala<br />


Ripped Jeans, Faded Memories<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

ripped jeans, torn at the knee<br />

where you fell and scraped across the rocks –<br />

tears and blood, welling and spilling<br />

onto the grass beneath you<br />

you reach out and cling<br />

squeezing as tightly as you can<br />

as you are lifted into the air<br />

so tight, as though you fear you might float away<br />

hair smoothed, face and wound cleaned<br />

though your eyes and knee still sting with embarrassment<br />

a gentle hug as you are whispered secrets,<br />

stories shared in the hopes of soothing you<br />

you giggle, tears gone, pain forgotten,<br />

you are let back into the backyard<br />

your private utopia of toys and grass,<br />

you don’t know it, but we are more alike than you will ever admit<br />

when you grow you will forget this moment,<br />

but I won’t, I will remember<br />

your tear-stained face breaking into a grin<br />

Look! Watch me! Can you see me?<br />

Yes, more than you will ever know.<br />


Video Call<br />

Oil on Canvas<br />

Vannia Ayon<br />


A Book Without Pages<br />

Jesus Rodriguez<br />

My parents worked hard to provide me with<br />

an education and emphasized the notion<br />

that books are tools, and like a handyman<br />

needs his tools, I'll need mine. In middle<br />

school, I carried my tools in a backpack that<br />

hopefully would last me the whole school<br />

year. Although my backpack made a better<br />

goalpost than a “tool bag,” I knew my tools<br />

were important, at least, that is what I thought<br />

I believed. My books might as well not have<br />

pages because I hardly read them, hardcover,<br />

colorful or not. Carrying them around from<br />

elementary to high school.<br />

On a beaming summer that reached across<br />

the border, finally out of the school year and<br />

into summer vacation, I visited my dad. Now<br />

being in high school, our father and son<br />

playtime became father and son work time,<br />

instead of getting his tools out of the trunk,<br />

I started to use them. Far from school, but<br />

closing in on a new lesson. I picked up my<br />

dad's books, they didn't have any pages, but<br />

I learned more than any hardcover colored<br />

book I could teach myself with.<br />

My first lesson was on numbers, and although<br />

I got the quiz before the material, I caught on<br />

quickly. 5:30 was nothing interesting until I<br />

found out my dad could escape the inevitable<br />

suns burning kiss for a while by waking up<br />

as the moon fell asleep and the sun began<br />

to awaken. This came with a morning breeze<br />

momentarily stealing your worn air to replace<br />

it with unprocessed, settling, and energetic<br />

air. An early sunrise slowly peering over every<br />

mountain and setting between each building<br />

built upon it.<br />

For the first few days, the number 12 became<br />

evident. 12 is also 720 minutes, but that's more<br />

dreadful to think about. 12 hours almost every<br />

day, but this was the only number my dad<br />

would bend working until a point of satisfaction,<br />

77<br />

so 12 could only get prolonged. The numbers<br />

in my lesson were a few feet short compared<br />

to the numbers my dad used on the uneven,<br />

lopsided empty landscape to create a leveled<br />

platform for a perfect right-angled patio, trench,<br />

house, or anything that can be man-made.<br />

Angles, widths, and lengths were measured<br />

and marked by string, measuring tapes, and the<br />

width of his thick thumb.<br />

The longest measure seemed to be the hours<br />

worked. He read my face and said, “the sun<br />

could make it 24 if you let it”.<br />

“I can read.” My second lesson began when<br />

I learned my dad could read incredibly well.<br />

Although he doesn't read like you or me, he<br />

doesn't read from left to right. That's because<br />

my dad didn't finish school, and his literacy<br />

level wasn't highly proficient. That is by our<br />

academic standards, at least. He could read<br />

a two-story warm wooden cabin with a sharp<br />

brown room ceiling and round logs that<br />

stretched across the walls, with large glass<br />

windows that welcomed the mountainous<br />

view in four subsections. He could read<br />

a white beautiful building with modern<br />

geometry and extra large marble tiles that<br />

could be stared at all day if it wasn't for the<br />

50 feet high thin window plane taking you to<br />

an octagonal roof that seems to curve to an<br />

endless point.<br />

He read all this where only an empty field and<br />

materials lay. This summer, we drove past this<br />

ongoing construction project on the way to ours.<br />

My dad read, and the title was the location, that<br />

alone told a lot of the story. The materials that<br />

lay to the side were a combination of words and<br />

letters, from these, my dad could tell the direction<br />

of the story and the theme. Each incoming day<br />

that we passed through, the words were slowly<br />

becoming arranged. To him, it was clear as glass<br />

that a two stories story was being written.<br />

He can read, but did he like writing more? He<br />

used a pencil to mark measuring points and

write a few numbers on a small notepad but<br />

didn't divulge in writing stories. My pencil<br />

bag was a shark with a zipper that opened<br />

his belly, where I stored my writing utensils.<br />

Pencils, pens, highlighters, erasers, and<br />

so on. Tools I used to write essays good<br />

enough to score a passing grade. I learned<br />

that my dad kept his books and writing<br />

utensils in the back of his truck, they came in<br />

weird shapes and sizes. Personally... I don't<br />

like carrying a pencil that weighs 8 pounds,<br />

has a long chipped wooden handle prone to<br />

gifting splinters, and has a flat blade.<br />

Unfortunately, the story my dad wanted<br />

to write had a trench 4 feet deep and 3.5<br />

feet wide. It would seem an obvious and<br />

easy task to hold a pencil correctly and<br />

write. Children learning have a hard time<br />

even correctly grabbing the pencil. My<br />

muscle memory for shoveling was nonexistent.<br />

I had to learn to use my writing<br />

tool efficiently. A week into our project, I<br />

could feel every fiber of muscle in my lower<br />

back, I could shovel, I could write the same<br />

language in which my dad wrote and read,<br />

and I shoveled for hours. My dad used<br />

more complicated tools and techniques,<br />

he selected his letters and words, and the<br />

cement I was taught to make helped put<br />

them together. His personality resonated<br />

through the figurative language he<br />

cemented into his writing. I read it as we<br />

wrote. With each week, each day, each hour,<br />

each minute, I read a story that no figurative<br />

language could translate.<br />

He dug his way out. He dug his way, not like<br />

me, and I'm sure not like anyone else did.<br />

He dug his whole life, using weirdly shaped<br />

pencils, and learned to read a book without<br />

pages. He dug through the dirt so I could<br />

dig through books with pages. He dug until<br />

he could feel every muscle fiber on his back,<br />

so I could feel a backpack on mine, filled<br />

with books, with pages.<br />

§<br />

LA LUNA, TU Y YO<br />

Fer Cueva<br />

la luna con su noche nos arropo<br />

mientras nos acercábamos<br />

lentamente<br />

a la intimidad<br />

gozando del momento<br />

presencia pura<br />

fue ella quien vio que estábamos a punto de probarla<br />

y nos quedamos esperando<br />

sintiendo que no llegaría<br />

que en esa noche al menos no sería<br />

quedamos colgados en palabras<br />

dichas entre líneas<br />

mientras saboreábamos un que si sí<br />

y me pregunto<br />

¿la luna sabía el nosotros que existía?<br />

translation<br />

78<br />


the moon with her night wrapped us in<br />

as we got closer<br />

slowly<br />

into intimacy<br />

enjoying the moment<br />

pure presence<br />

it was she who saw that we were about to taste it<br />

and we just waited<br />

feeling that it wouldn’t arrive<br />

that at least on that night it wouldn’t be<br />

we got hung up on words<br />

said between lines<br />

while we savoured a what if<br />

and i ask myself<br />

did the moon know the we that existed between us?

My Doubts are Quiet (When I’m With You)<br />

Marii Ink<br />

You say I’m blessed with skin kissed by the sun,<br />

Adorned by Luna<br />

Undefined, and unrivaled<br />

Honeyed with a sweetness<br />

To my skin, you seem not to get enough of<br />

Yours I say in between<br />

Lips slotted in a 2-step as the record softly plays out<br />

The vestiges of my love<br />

Our love you say<br />

As the night trails on, the tingle from your caress<br />

The warmth laced into the words pressed against my back<br />

Almost searing its permanent home into not only<br />

My pigmentation<br />

But deeper into my very being.<br />

Luna blesses us,<br />

Through the wisps of her approval in the form of<br />

Frosty wind kissing our bare shoulders<br />

Basking in the love of our youth<br />

In the dim light of your room<br />

Your world so far from mine,<br />

I recall, tracing a light shape<br />

One of no direction but the thought<br />

Brands it’s home onto you now.<br />

Speaking<br />

Of nothing, and everything I can’t say<br />

On your lighter, exposed body.<br />

And yet it is in these moments of soft whispers,<br />

And dimmed rooms that feel on the tad bit of too warm,<br />

That maybe<br />

Just maybe,<br />

Ibelievethatyousaywhatyouare,<br />

Mine.<br />


Christmas Light Joy<br />

Photography<br />

Ian Sommer<br />


Portal<br />

Photography<br />

Damian Cecala<br />


The Tide in Your Eyes<br />

Damian Cecala<br />

What is it you keep taking out of me?<br />

I use to look into your eyes and see<br />

An ocean I could sail on forever<br />

A sight that left me breathless every time<br />

Captivating and beautiful this scene<br />

Would have traveled to the edge of the earth<br />

If you only would have allowed me to<br />

Storms began to brew and water turned harsh<br />

The waves were growing stronger and stronger<br />

I was beginning to watch the tides change<br />

I was beginning to watch the tides change<br />

A once still and calm ocean was raging<br />

Hurricanes were fiercely destroying me<br />

No longer could I stay afloat this way<br />

Drowning in waters I had loved before<br />

This gaze that use to melt me to my core<br />

Was not in your eyes for me anymore<br />

But since then the storm has now blown over<br />

And you lure me back into your water<br />

What is it you keep taking out of me?<br />


Wild Western Moon<br />

Madeline Currah<br />

not all is doom and gloom in the confines of time -<br />

sometimes i hear the sparrow sing in the night, his voice lifted to the pale face of the<br />

moon.<br />

a black, residing fog lays over the land: the deep shadow of night.<br />

not all is what it seems.<br />

not all breathe the air that we breathe.<br />

not all know what we know.<br />

some know something entirely different.<br />

when the moon rises over the wild hills of the west<br />

does she see her own shadow?<br />

or is she so blissfully ignorant of anything<br />

but her own light,<br />

and the eternal shadow above her?<br />

she is one being unconnected to the land,<br />

and for that i love her -<br />

she is part of the mystery far greater,<br />

which continues on into the universe<br />

before connecting back to support the land from within.<br />

she shines her light into nothingness -<br />

yet does not mourn.<br />


The Spoken Word<br />

India Ink // <strong>Digital</strong> Collage<br />

Ev Essif<br />


The Ruins of the Old Ones<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

*Excerpt from work-in-progress novel, The Ruins of the Old Ones<br />

Not yet acclimated to the sun, Bea was forced to squint to see even halfway decently. The sun<br />

shone brightly on the clean, white flagstones of the courtyard, reflecting the light up and into<br />

her eyes. The others fared no better, men and women alike flinching at the rays of light and the<br />

wide open space. They were accustomed to the dark heat of the city’s underbelly, where the<br />

only light that shone was from filthy street lamps and the red flare of the furnaces and factories.<br />

Even the air caused them pain. Cold and clear, the thin air at the city’s street level sliced their<br />

throats and lungs like frigid daggers.<br />

A rather worried-looking middle-aged man toddled to and fro in the courtyard. Every few<br />

minutes he would whip out his pocket watch, check his clipboard, dab away the sweat from<br />

his balding head with a hanky and then straighten his bowtie.<br />

“Alright, places! Line up you lot, and try to look presentable, will you?” The only time the man<br />

didn’t seem worried was when he was ordering them around.<br />

He tottered up to one of the gruffer men, pulled out his partially soaked hanky, and roughly<br />

rubbed away a smudge from his face.<br />

“What’s the use of cleaning up you scavs if you don’t stay clean?”<br />

Bea bristled, her mouth already opening to say something she’d surely regret when one<br />

of the women next to her jabbed an elbow sharply into her ribs. She wheezed in air, the<br />

smartmouthed retort dying in her throat. She should know better than to argue with someone<br />

from the upper levels, but often her mouth got the better of her.<br />

Bea was still wary about being up here, but the potential rewards were too great. A group of<br />

ministers had delved into the depths of the undercity a few weeks ago for a ‘lottery.’ All ablebodied<br />

adults were able to place their names into the drawing. The only information they<br />

gave was that those selected would go to the upper levels for the foreseeable future to assist<br />

in a new project. If the project succeeded, there was the potential to receive payment for their<br />

work, enough to secure them a life above the undercity.<br />

She may have had friends in the undercity, but she’d gladly abandon them for a chance at<br />

living comfortably, even if she had to risk everything to get it. There had been no hard feelings;<br />

everyone she knew put their name into the lottery. She almost didn’t believe it when her name<br />

had been pulled. Her friends, while jealous, had bid her farewell when the Ministers returned<br />

to collect the winners of the lottery. Now, they had been marched through the streets to the<br />

courtyard in front of the Ministry of Intellectual Pursuits.<br />


“Remember your manners, and do as you are<br />

told. Failure to comply will result in you being<br />

returned to the undercity.”<br />

The doors to the Ministry opened and a few<br />

dozen scholars leisurely walked out. The<br />

worried-looking man had entered the newly<br />

arrived crowd, but Bea could still see his balding<br />

head shining like a beacon in the afternoon sun.<br />

A Minister, a woman dressed in an ochre and ruby<br />

suit, stepped forward from the crowd. Her brown<br />

hair was pulled up and away from her face, plaited<br />

tightly in an intricate pattern that wrapped around<br />

her head. She was writing on a clipboard when<br />

she finally addressed the courtyard.<br />

“Scholars, you know why we are here.<br />

Underfolk, I shall explain this as simply as I<br />

can. You lucky few were chosen amongst the<br />

hundreds of names submitted. As I am sure you<br />

are aware, our thrust engines have gone cold.<br />

Our gravity boosters are still operational, thank<br />

the Old Ones, but until the thrust engines can<br />

be powered up we are, in a word, stranded.”<br />

Everyone in the city knew of their current<br />

predicament. The thrust engines died<br />

abruptly a few weeks ago. The chaos from the<br />

sudden stop had caused a support beam in<br />

the undercity to collapse, causing an entire<br />

neighborhood to be buried in the rubble. Bea<br />

had been lucky the accident had happened<br />

during the early morning before she had left<br />

to scavenge the garbage pits. Her regular<br />

route took her through the heart of that sector.<br />

“This is not unprecedented, as other cities have<br />

reported their thrust engines dying, which is<br />

why the city changed course. Currently, we<br />

are hovering over a ruined city of the Old Ones.<br />

Which is where you come into play.”<br />

The Minister looked up, gazing at the group of<br />

scavengers with disdain.<br />

86<br />

“You will each be partnered with a scholar.<br />

They shall teach you how to use our most<br />

advanced technology for salvage operations.<br />

I won’t mince words here, you people earned<br />

the name Scavs for a reason. We need to<br />

scavenge for materials to repair the engines.<br />

Succeed, and I shall ensure that you are<br />

rewarded handsomely.”<br />

The Minister’s tone changed in a way that froze Bea<br />

in place, fear condensing in the pit of her stomach.<br />

“Disappoint me, and you shall be sent to the lowest<br />

levels of the undercity, never to be seen again.”<br />

A soft murmur spread down the line of Scavs.<br />

Before they could regret their choice, names<br />

were called. The Minister’s voice barked them<br />

out like orders, each scholar being paired with<br />

their scavenger. One by one their names were<br />

read, moving to stand beside their newfound<br />

partners. They were nearing the end of the<br />

list, both sides thinning until maybe a half<br />

dozen scholars and scavengers were left.<br />

“Roger Weatherby.”<br />

A scrawny man appeared like an apparition<br />

from the crowd. Bea hadn’t noticed him there<br />

before. He dressed in a simple shirt and pants<br />

in dark shades of green and brown, rather<br />

than the many bright-colored layers and<br />

garish accessories the others wore. Like many<br />

of his colleagues, he wore spectacles over<br />

his brown eyes, and he had a mop of black<br />

hair that framed his face which was dusted<br />

with freckles. Overall he looked rather plain,<br />

though not in a particularly bad way.<br />

“Mister Weatherby, you shall be paired with Beatrice.”<br />

The Minister did not look up from her list when<br />

she read Bea’s name, waving a hand at her<br />

to join Roger. Together they were ushered by<br />

the little bald man down the street and to a

transporter, the small vehicle puffing steam<br />

into the air. The sleek brass shell gleamed,<br />

its benches freshly shined, and the metallic<br />

shutters were wide open to let in the fresh<br />

morning air. It was only the second one Bea had<br />

seen, and it hissed and burbled as the doors slid<br />

shut and it started rolling down the street.<br />

They rode together in silence, Roger staring<br />

down at his hands, and Bea doing her best<br />

to not look too impressed at the sights that<br />

whizzed past them.<br />

“So uh, Beatrice is it? A pleasure to meet<br />

you.” Roger asked half-heartedly, clearly not<br />

expecting her to respond.<br />

“No. Bea.” She barked, staring him down,<br />

almost as though she was challenging him.<br />

The sound of her voice had shocked him,<br />

surprising him with the brashness with which<br />

she spoke. His head snapped up and he stuck<br />

out his hand for a polite handshake.<br />

“Oh, Bea. Sure! Sure, no problem. It’s a<br />

good nickname. I like it.” Roger’s hand was<br />

suspended in the air between them, hanging<br />

like a question. Bea stared at it for a long few<br />

seconds, inspecting it. His hands looked soft,<br />

as though he had never worked a day in his<br />

life, and his nails were neatly trimmed and<br />

clean. Carefully, she took his hand and gave it<br />

an awkward squeeze, suddenly self-conscious<br />

of her own hands. They were calloused and<br />

rough, and despite the thorough scrubbing<br />

she had given them earlier, her fingers still bore<br />

years of soot and grease stains.<br />

The transporter hissed to a stop, the doors<br />

sliding open to reveal a courtyard to yet<br />

another all too fancy building. An attendant<br />

emerged from an archway, bowing to Roger<br />

and all but ignoring Bea as they exited the<br />

vehicle. It puttered to life and slid away back<br />

down the street.<br />

“Mister Weatherby, I hope you will find the<br />

accommodations suitable. I know they are<br />

not nearly as fine as the Weatherby estate, but<br />

please inform us if anything is amiss.”<br />

Bea could see Roger pause before<br />

clearing his throat.<br />

“Yes uh, thank you. I’m sure it shall be fine.”<br />

He gave Bea a nervous smile.<br />

The attendant gestured for them to follow<br />

him into the large building. The interior<br />

was spotless, with all the most fashionable<br />

furniture and colors in each room.<br />

“While you train with the new tech you<br />

and your, uh, partner, will be housed here<br />

in the dormitories. All Underfolk are in the<br />

west wing. You and your fellow scholars are<br />

housed in the north wing in private rooms.”<br />

The attendant led them through the ornate<br />

entryway, past a gilded marble staircase and<br />

down a hall. Many of the doors were cracked<br />

open enough for Bea to catch a glimpse inside.<br />

One in particular that caught her eye was the<br />

entrance to the kitchen: warmth radiated from<br />

the open archway and the smell of freshly<br />

baked rolls and spiced, roasted meats caused<br />

her mouth to water.<br />

“Lunch shall be served soon. Feel free to<br />

wander the dormitory, or to retire to your room<br />

until mealtime. For your partner, she can find<br />

a proper change of clothes in the provided<br />

footlocker in the west wing.”<br />

After another deep bow, the attendant turned<br />

on his heel, heading back towards the entrance<br />

to the building. Together they stood in the large<br />

hall, neither one quite sure what to do. Roger<br />

decided to be the one to break the silence.<br />


“So, shall we dine together then? I figure if we’re<br />

going to be working together it’s best to get to<br />

know one another. Teamwork and all that.”<br />

“What are you doing?” Bea’s question<br />

seemed to startle him.<br />

“Pardon?” The stupefied look on his face<br />

didn’t help to quell her scowl.<br />

“Why are you being nice to me? No other<br />

Uppers have talked to me unless it was to<br />

insult me or give me orders. Most of you just<br />

ignore me. Is this some weird Upper trick? Be<br />

nice to the filthy Scav so I don’t realize you’re<br />

actually being mean?”<br />

Roger blinked slowly. Twice. The realization<br />

seemed to dawn on him that she wasn’t used<br />

to people being friendly. It hadn’t occurred<br />

to him that his colleagues would be rude or<br />

aggressive toward their new partners.<br />

“I’m sorry, Bea. We might be working together<br />

for months, and if it takes a long time to fix the<br />

engines, maybe years. You’ll be living up here,<br />

so I just thought we should get off on the right<br />

foot, you know?”<br />

Well, Roger seemed to be telling the truth. As<br />

much as Bea didn’t trust it, she had seemingly<br />

wound up with one of the few Upperfolk who<br />

didn’t seem to take pleasure in being cruel to<br />

those from the lower levels. The thought of it<br />

made her stomach somersault.<br />

“Fine. We can eat together. But first, I think I<br />

should change. That attendant guy said it like a<br />

suggestion, but I get the feeling it was an order.”<br />

one shade of gray. Surely whatever these<br />

people had given her to wear for the long<br />

term would be more comfortable.<br />

Although he didn’t say anything, Roger<br />

followed along down the west wing of the<br />

dormitory. They walked in a sort of amicable<br />

silence, and when they reached a door with<br />

a plaque that read ‘Underfolk Dormitory’ Roger<br />

motioned for her to go ahead, and that he’d wait<br />

here in the hall.<br />

The dorm was certainly nicer than Bea had<br />

been expecting. Even though it was probably<br />

the worst room in the whole building, it<br />

was still leagues beyond what she and the<br />

other Underfolk were used to. Rather than<br />

individual rooms, each person had their<br />

own area partitioned off by shelves and a<br />

folding screen. Everybody was given a cot,<br />

a footlocker, a wash basin, a chair, shelves,<br />

and a mirror. It was clear that the others had<br />

already been through here: the old utilitarian<br />

clothing had been dumped in a large hamper<br />

in the center of the room, and the untouched<br />

beds had neatly folded clothing on top.<br />

Bea found the little cubicle with her name<br />

on it, grimacing at the usage of her full<br />

name, Beatrice, and settled on changing<br />

into the new clothes. They were soft, softer<br />

than anything she had ever felt before. The<br />

clothing wasn’t light gray anymore, but not<br />

nearly as bright as the clothing typically worn<br />

by other Upperfolk. No, these still had an air of<br />

otherness to them. It seemed that everybody<br />

was given different colors—her pants and top<br />

were made of dark grays and blacks, while<br />

the provided cloak was a deep burgundy.<br />

The clothes she was currently wearing<br />

were not the same filthy scraps she wore<br />

at home in the slums, but they certainly felt<br />

uncomfortable. It was a utilitarian ensemble,<br />

itchy, uncomfortable, and only available in<br />

88<br />

The clothes themselves fit rather comfortably<br />

and weren’t nearly as boxy and oversized<br />

as the previous garments. If the entire<br />

situation wasn’t so odd, Bea might have<br />

thought to wonder when they had gotten

her measurements. The pants were very<br />

breathable with deep pockets. They fit close<br />

below the knee but fit loose everywhere<br />

above the knee. The shirt was fitted around<br />

the waist, with a longer hem in a style that the<br />

upper levels seemed to be fond of. The long<br />

sleeves were easy to roll up and secure and<br />

the supplied cloak was light enough to not<br />

weigh her down, but of a material that would<br />

keep out the wind and keep her warm.<br />

She emerged from the dorm to find Roger<br />

waiting near the doorway, bouncing on his<br />

heels and trying to look very interested in<br />

the pattern of the wallpaper, so much so that<br />

he hadn’t noticed her arrival. After a silent<br />

moment, she cleared her throat, and he<br />

practically jumped out of his skin as he turned<br />

to face her, eyes locked on the new clothes.<br />

“Oh.” It was all he said as he readjusted his glasses.<br />

“Oh?”<br />

“I mean, oh, those look much better, they look more<br />

uh, comfortable?” He stumbled over his words in his<br />

attempt to cover up his social faux pas.<br />

“Ah.”<br />

“Ah?” Now it was Roger’s turn to be confused as<br />

he wondered just what Bea had meant. A sort of<br />

knowing smile slowly crept onto her face. It was<br />

the first time Roger had seen her do anything<br />

besides scowl and frown. It was nice.<br />

“Ah, you really weren’t being mean, you’re<br />

just a bit of an oddity yourself,” Bea said.<br />

Roger laughed, a hearty snort mixed with a<br />

chortle that almost sent his glasses sliding<br />

back down his nose. Very few people had<br />

ever spoken like that to him, and the truth of<br />

the statement made it all quite funny.<br />

Transgender Self-Portrait<br />

Ceramic<br />

Audrey Ball<br />

“Yes, I suppose you’re right. I’m sorry<br />

I’m not a very good example of a good<br />

upstanding scholar. Shall we away to<br />

lunch?” He gave her a bow, deeper<br />

than the ones the attendant had given<br />

him when they arrived.<br />

It was her turn to laugh, a deep, warm<br />

thing that tumbled its way out of her.<br />

“Why yes, I believe we shall. Lead<br />

the way, my most honorable scholar,<br />

knower of things and studier of stuff.”<br />

They went back the way they came,<br />

away from the west wing and following<br />

the tantalizing smells of a freshly<br />

made lunch. All the while they talked<br />

about nothing of importance, but they<br />

clearly found a common thread in<br />

their understanding of how ridiculous<br />

the entire situation was. A scholar and<br />

a scavenger meant to figure out the<br />

secrets of the Old Ones and save the<br />

city. If they hadn’t arrived within earshot<br />

of the dining room they’d have laughed<br />

about that too.<br />


Pregnant<br />

Anonymous<br />

she said<br />

she wanted<br />

to be pregnant,<br />

at 13, it was on her<br />

dream board, her vision<br />

board posted in the hallway.<br />

you were confused, shocked,<br />

thought it was foolish– but,<br />

maybe you understood, years<br />

later. maybe her mother had<br />

done the same– had a baby at<br />

13, had her at 13. she wanted<br />

to be wanted, to be planned<br />

for, dreamt up, hoped for. she<br />

was making sure her baby<br />

would get that<br />

privilege, she<br />

was planning<br />

ahead,<br />

prepared.<br />

An Abstraction of the Underside of a Whale<br />

Gouache<br />

Anikó Lehoczky-Levy<br />


Queer and in Catholic School? Pick a Struggle.<br />

Mirtha Gabriela Duarte<br />

Loving women isn’t a chosen activity.<br />

Nor is not knowing yourself as one a sin.<br />

I sat at a desk, green kilt, white shirt and over-the-knee socks,<br />

burning-hot black Mary Janes.<br />

Feeling humiliated when<br />

The topic would inevitably be brought to light.<br />

In Religion class<br />

Twice a week<br />

For six years.<br />

“¡Es pecado!”<br />

This is what I pay $1500 pesos a month for?<br />

I mean, shouldn’t I be enriching my faith for God?<br />

Isn’t that the purpose of Catholic School?<br />

If I break my own heart and never tell her I love her, would He let me in heaven?<br />

Wait.<br />

Does God hate me, or do you hate me?<br />

Be brave enough to make that distinction.<br />

Maybe then I’d forgive you.<br />

Let go of rancor and inhibitions<br />

stay calm when Pope Francis said<br />

“Accepting Gay couples is not licit.”<br />

Yet won’t say a word when we die at the hands of<br />

conversion therapy<br />

suicide<br />

drug abuse<br />

HIV AIDS<br />

police brutality<br />

the State<br />

and by the very people that think they<br />

speak in His name<br />

So, I’m sorry I’m hesitant to join you in Mass,<br />

For I have my reasons for wanting boundaries.<br />

I don’t have anything to hide.<br />

But you have everything to say.<br />

You’d prefer for me to be 100% girl and 100% straight.<br />

I had tears in my eyes as I confessed<br />

“I like women too”<br />

Mom tried to owe it to<br />

Abuse (thanks for teaching me about consent… wait, you didn’t)<br />

Why rationalize?<br />

Get it understood<br />

My problems, they never fazed my identity.<br />

And they never will.<br />

There’s no cure and I don’t need one.<br />

So what if they made Buttercup black and gay?<br />

we are the 18% of characters in TV these days.<br />

Be coherent.<br />

If I can stay mad for years on end, you can stay quiet in my presence.<br />


In The Moment<br />

Gouache on Watercolor Paper<br />

Selena Alvarado<br />


O<br />

P<br />

E<br />

A W A<br />

T<br />

R<br />

D<br />

R<br />

Y<br />

Pridefound<br />

Ash Hooke<br />

Am I one of the letters<br />

Because of my lovers,<br />

Who are something of the same<br />

And somewhat of the different?<br />

A bi-sides bleeding of colors<br />

From the all-proud spectrum;<br />

Lilac to indigo,<br />

Purpled muddled love?<br />

Because I like her red hair<br />

And his red beard,<br />

Am I queerer than any other?<br />

I musingly wonder, who doesn’t<br />

Like soft and scratchy ginger joy?<br />

He’s such a boy and<br />

They are them and<br />

She spins me round and round.<br />

And inside I have found<br />

Love to match my outside fire.<br />

Desire drawing all<br />

The magnificent mottled moths<br />

To a fierce heart flame<br />

That doesn’t really need a label<br />

Or a name.<br />

Just a letter or two<br />

That says,<br />

I want to be<br />

with you<br />

And with<br />

you too.<br />


Apollo Sleeps<br />

Brett Wynn<br />

Apollo sleeps as Artemis wakes<br />

Colors clash in the sky as if to fight for territory amongst the stars<br />

Less to be seen, more to be heard<br />

The sky shifts, those same colors fade as beacons appear<br />

Street lights illuminate my path<br />

My breath chills, the hair on my arms stand up<br />

She wraps her arms around me, cold to the bone<br />

She seeks warmth from my flesh<br />

I wrap my arms around her desperate to fulfill her needs<br />

We sit as the earth rests<br />

Lazy Sunday<br />

Watercolor & Ink<br />

Ashley Carmichael<br />


Themes on Loving You<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

I wanted to write a poem comparing you to<br />

the stars,<br />

or flowers, or rain, but the words don’t quite fit<br />

and<br />

the flowers and rain and stars are<br />

pretty, perfect, and overdone but<br />

you are messy and imperfect in all the ways<br />

that make you more wonderful than I can put<br />

into words,<br />

yet here I am, doing the impossible—<br />

I suppose that makes us both anomalies,<br />

two ships passing in the night because we<br />

both hate the morning,<br />

perhaps I will try to write about us anyways<br />

§<br />

my mind is like a rose bush,<br />

attractive from afar until someone sees the<br />

thorns<br />

but when you see me, you tend to the garden<br />

without fear<br />

a bush isn’t very scary after all,<br />

and you are not deterred by the prick of my<br />

thorns<br />

or the jagged edges of my leaves<br />

or my pollen that sets both our allergies<br />

aflame<br />

until our nose and eyes stream,<br />

you prune away what is dead, ignoring your<br />

fingertips as they bleed<br />

I guess we never did buy those gardening<br />

gloves<br />

you hush my apologies and soothe me,<br />

I never noticed I was pierced by my own<br />

thorns<br />

but you set me right, and I bloom<br />

§<br />

you do not complain when I overshare and I<br />

tell you<br />

whatever random information I have<br />

absorbed like a sponge<br />

did you know Crocs are technically edible?<br />

I said technically because they probably don’t<br />

taste good,<br />

and you do not judge me when I go into longwinded<br />

explanations of<br />

topics I know far too much information about,<br />

like comic books<br />

and cartoons and<br />

95<br />

did you know Sonic the Hedgehog’s<br />

middle name is Maurice?<br />

I know, I think it should’ve been speed<br />

themed too,<br />

and the whole time, you are happy and<br />

content and<br />

you listen to me talk and talk and talk<br />

you, who always know what I mean<br />

even when my words don’t come out right<br />

§<br />

last night I dreamt of you,<br />

I wish I could say it was a steamy sordid affair<br />

with wine and cheese and rose petals,<br />

but that seems like it would be really boring<br />

and my dreams are not so straightforward,<br />

also I am lactose intolerant, and incurring the<br />

wrath of the dairy gods is not romantic<br />

no, I believe you said something that<br />

made me upset<br />

I do not remember what it was, but you<br />

should apologize<br />

the you in the dream wouldn’t<br />

§<br />

you always answer my questions, even when<br />

they are particularly stupid<br />

Would you love me if I was a worm?<br />

you know the correct answer is yes<br />

Would you love me if I was cut in half as a<br />

worm, and then you had two of me?<br />

this answer is also yes because then you’d<br />

have two of me to love<br />

What is your favorite character from the<br />

musical Cats?<br />

I only ask this question so I can talk about the<br />

musical<br />

the correct answer is Skimbleshanks or Mr.<br />

Mistoffelees<br />

and no, I will not be accepting feedback on<br />

my favorites<br />

you always answer my questions<br />

you always make sure I feel loved and<br />

acknowledged<br />

you always reassure me that my questions are<br />

not too silly<br />

even when I do not have an answer for you<br />

when you ask<br />

“What do you want for dinner?”

Desert Oracle<br />

Ash Hooke<br />

How does the Desert<br />

Ravaged by monsoon<br />

Manage to bloom?<br />

Pounded and drowned<br />

By the storm,<br />

She transforms!<br />

Thick ribbed saguaro<br />

Stand full to their needled gills.<br />

Delicate petals beckon,<br />

ablaze in vibrant hue.<br />

Brilliant butterflies flutter,<br />

Drunk on nectar<br />

Brewed from violence.<br />

Ocotillo quiver, lush<br />

With a thousand thorned leaves;<br />

Hiding yesterday’s stark savagery.<br />

Lizard life quickens, teeming<br />

among the riotous rodentry.<br />

Birdsong brims in the wet hot breeze-<br />

Humidity’s second soak<br />

As the mythical river drenches<br />

sand and sandstone,<br />

Running in disbelief.<br />

For only she has seen<br />

Me through these crucible<br />

storms<br />

And watched my<br />

Magnificent monsoon bloom.<br />

Only she makes me believe<br />

Her promise of<br />

Radiance to come.<br />

This legendary grandeur enters me<br />

And I am wonderstruck,<br />

Quenched,<br />

Then enamored.<br />

This Desert is Me<br />

And I am Her.<br />

WE are wet fire;<br />

Battered and worn,<br />

Bright sky and scorched earth,<br />

Extreme in violent beauty.<br />


In Dreams<br />

Photography<br />

Erin Kubat<br />


Walking to the Moon<br />

Maya Schenne<br />

It’s quite simple, really. One foot in front of the other. The stars hold their<br />

breath. The sun peeks over the horizon, curious to see what will happen.<br />

The wind calms, anxiously waiting to catch you if you fall. But you won’t.<br />

It’s easy once you know the secret. Just…don’t look down. Left foot. Right<br />

foot. The night breeze becomes the foundation. Your tears lead the way.<br />

After you reach the clouds, they lend their support. You’ll be safe with<br />

them. They’re usually harmless, and very curious. After all, it’s not often<br />

they get visitors. The rest of the walk is eerily quiet. The clouds would<br />

follow, if it wasn’t for the… Well, it’s best to do this part alone. It gives<br />

you some time to think. The air starts to thin. Once your mind begins to<br />

conjure alluring delusions, you’ll know that you are close. Your foot gently<br />

lands on the ivory surface. Everything has been worth it. Now, all that’s<br />

left is to return home. But that’s another matter entirely.<br />


<strong>Digital</strong> <strong>Exclusive</strong><br />

Available on<br />


100<br />

Hello 1989 Me<br />

Photography Collage<br />

Lori Bentley Law

Greed (War)<br />

Charcoal<br />

Dina Kagan<br />



Acacia Chambers<br />

Domestic wars<br />

Kill more than people think<br />

Boys dropping<br />

Before their voices get the chance<br />

Girl getting taught the wrong things<br />

That is not how you should be treated<br />

That is not real love<br />

Something as simple as<br />

A breath of fresh air in the wrong area<br />

Becomes much bigger<br />

Than a stroll around the block<br />

They are trafficking<br />

Before they know how to drive<br />

These things happen more often<br />

Than people may think<br />

Thousands every year<br />

Die as soldiers<br />

In a war where their battlefield<br />

Is their front yard<br />


Ideations Only<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

again and again<br />

throwing myself at your<br />

mercy hoping you will<br />

understand but<br />

you recoil from me<br />

you hold me tight<br />

you see through me<br />

again and again<br />

you say you love me<br />

no you are a liar<br />

ignore the possibility of truth<br />

I desperately cling to<br />

please see me<br />

I cannot continue<br />

again and again<br />

I blame me for<br />

everything I have not done<br />

I promise I won't do it<br />

I try so hard<br />

please fix me<br />

then you won’t grieve me<br />

again and again<br />

your smile is tired and<br />

you tell me I'm strong but<br />

don’t leave me<br />

you say that I'm pretty<br />

tear stains and smudges<br />

this is not the real me<br />

again and again<br />

maybe you will see me<br />

truly see me no you will not<br />

I won't let you<br />

I beg you free me<br />

this repetition is killing me<br />

why won’t you see through me<br />

again and again<br />

you won’t open your eyes<br />

you stubborn fool<br />

why won’t you leave me<br />

this time I'll actually<br />

you tell me I won't<br />

why won't you believe me<br />

again and again<br />

like a merry-go-round<br />

there is no end to<br />

the spinning of my head<br />

we go round and round<br />

this way and that way<br />

up and down and diagonal and<br />

again and again<br />

this pill and that pill<br />

blue pill red pill one pill two pills<br />

pills won't stop my head and me<br />

maybe you are right<br />

I will take the pills<br />

maybe they will kill me<br />

again and again<br />

I’m sorry<br />

this time I'll do better<br />

please forgive me<br />

you tell me it's okay<br />

but in the dark I dream of me<br />

the me that can't see<br />

again and again<br />

just one more time<br />

that is all I need<br />

take a deep breath and count to three<br />

I will take the pills<br />

I will go to therapy<br />

I'll get better for you and for me<br />


Uncanny Freedom<br />

Ink<br />

Marii Ink<br />


Hello 1989 Me<br />

Lori Bentley Law<br />

Hello, 1989 Me…<br />

You're not going to believe this, but I am a student again. Wait… should that be, we are a<br />

student again? Weird. I'm not quite sure how to address you (me?) Well, since this is your life to<br />

come, let's tell your story.<br />

Yep. You are back in school. I know! Some people take a gap year; you took a thirty-four-year<br />

one. Crazy, right?<br />

Do the kids laugh at you for being old? No, because you don't go to class in person. They<br />

have no idea you're their grandma's age (sheesh… that puts it into perspective). Autonomy and<br />

anonymity are a couple of the many good things about online coursework.<br />

Oh.<br />

Wait.<br />

You don't know what I mean by "online." Or internet. Or cellphone. Oh wow. You have never<br />

experienced social media or texting or TikTok…<br />

Dang. I'm feeling old now, which is weird because I never feel old. I still feel twenty. Maybe<br />

because I never had kids, so I never had to grow up.<br />

Anyway, so back to the "online" thing…<br />

You know that computer programming class you had sophomore year in high school,<br />

learning all that TRSDOS stuff you hated? Well, in <strong>2023</strong>, computers are everything. Books,<br />

banking, music, photos, and shopping are all electronic now. Everyone carries a little all-in-one<br />

computer in their pocket that serves as a phone, a camera, a radio, and so much more. I'm not<br />

kidding you! Even toddlers use smartphones. There's this thing called the internet that allows…<br />

You know what? Let's just wait so you can discover it all for yourself, so you can live your life, have a<br />

successful career as a news photographer, marry a great guy, and then decide to change course in<br />

your fifties—not change course with the great guy, he's still great—but with your job.<br />

Yes, you had a terrific career that took you around the world, even put a couple of Emmys on<br />

your shelf, but the news business changed dramatically with the politics, so you quit and tried<br />

something totally new by opening a retail store, which you quickly figured out wasn't for you. So you<br />

applied for a media-related job you were overqualified for and didn't even get a call back because…<br />

You dropped out of college in 1989.<br />


Retro Wave<br />

<strong>Digital</strong><br />

Sage Furrer<br />

Yep. Even with twenty-five years of<br />

experience, you couldn't be considered<br />

for the job without a college degree.<br />

And that's the path that led you back<br />

to school.<br />

So why am I writing you about this? Am I trying to convince you not to drop out? To tell you<br />

that you'll find the money somehow to finish your education? That you don't need to be in<br />

such a hurry to grow up?<br />

Nah.<br />

By telling you that, I'd be erasing the life I've had, and I don't want that. I suppose I just want<br />

you to know that it's okay. Do what you need to do, and know that somewhere in the future,<br />

you'll find your way back. And you'll love being a student again. It will help you rediscover the<br />

joy of learning. Don't regret failure; just enjoy each moment of life because—cliché as it is—it<br />

truly does go fast.<br />

Don't wait for tomorrow to do something. Do it today. Do all the awesome things that fill your<br />

over-active mind.<br />

See you in thirty-four years, my friend.<br />

Love,<br />

Me<br />


Contemplating a Tree<br />

Ink<br />

Anikó Lehoczky-Levy<br />


The Closeted Experience<br />

Kina<br />

Questioning sexuality is like trying on different outfits. Some fit perfectly, some are a little<br />

uncomfortable, and some just do not feel like they are my aesthetic. We live in a modern world,<br />

and homosexuality is no longer foreign to most of us. However, the world has not been the kindest<br />

place for LGBTQ+ youth. With the risk of falling victim to hate crime, homelessness, and prejudice,<br />

I had to keep my sexuality to myself, even from my immediate family, for most of my life. More<br />

and more, I wanted to come out and have my mother accept me as I explored and accepted my<br />

identity; a billion uncertainties always stopped me. I had to deal with confusion, euphoria, sadness,<br />

relief, and anxiety as an adolescent while I explored my sexual orientation.<br />

I did my fair share of research as I tried to familiarize myself with different sexual orientations<br />

and identities. As the cliché goes, “Curiosity killed the cat,” but it never stopped me from<br />

becoming a curious and inquisitive child. Fortunately, I had the technology to answer my<br />

never-ending questions. I did not have to bother my parents with unnerving responses.<br />

However, when it came to the in-depth details of sexual identity, researching sexuality made<br />

me afraid that I would open Pandora’s box.<br />

My family’s elders always said it was a taboo “way of living,” so at a young age, I knew I must<br />

hide any questions related to homosexuality. An “Am I Gay Quiz” took me down the rabbit hole<br />

where I got a suspiciously high score for a twelve-year-old who just took that test thinking the<br />

only relationship I could have with the same gender was platonic. The internet took me deeper<br />

and deeper from that point, providing more information that gave me validation and assurance<br />

that I was not alone. I felt overwhelmed and scared but relieved that a community with people<br />

like me would welcome me. But it also scared me because I knew the repercussions against<br />

this community, especially from my conservative family.<br />

As most teenagers do in middle and high school, I started having crushes and going on<br />

dates with boys and girls; I did not fit into one box. It gave me a chance to thoroughly think<br />

through my preference and whether I preferred boys or girls. I had crushes on both, but more<br />

with girls and rarely with boys. By the end of high school, I had more good and bad romantic<br />

experiences with girls; I found that the butterflies in my stomach appeared most around my girl<br />

crushes. On the other hand, I realized I only felt an attraction to boys superficially, so I never<br />

got into serious relationships with them as I did with girls. I got along with men, but it always<br />

felt like a connection that friends have with each other.<br />

For as long as I remember, women have taken my breath away, and I could connect with them<br />

beyond a superficial level. I would be smitten by gorgeous women like most girls my age would<br />

go crazy about One Direction or Justin Bieber. I found it hard to relate with my friends (specifically<br />

girls) when it came to dating because I was the only girl among my peers that liked girls too. I kept<br />

exploring with an open mind and kept my options open to both men and women.<br />


109<br />

Warmth<br />

Photography<br />

Isabelle Gard<br />

There came a time when I decided I should tell my parents the truth on my fifteenth birthday.<br />

Unfortunately, coming out to my parents did not go well for me. Although my father had more<br />

positive feedback than my mother, he said he would believe me only after I confronted him<br />

again when I turned twenty-five. He passed away a year and one month after that, so I will<br />

never get the feeling of getting truly accepted by him. My mother’s words made me hit rock<br />

bottom; by describing me as selfish and sinful for choosing this “lifestyle” and “destroying”<br />

my future. I felt isolated in my home and thought I did not deserve to live, leading me to a dark<br />

state of mind.<br />

I recovered from that state eventually and had to accept that I would be living another secret<br />

life for as long as I lived under my mother’s roof. Although I found myself, somehow, it created<br />

a gap with my parents, especially with my mother. I went through numerous bumps in my<br />

journey of finding peace with my sexuality. I learned that if I accept and love myself, I do not<br />

need the validation and acceptance of others.<br />

Hiding my identity was frustrating, and coming to terms with it was like wearing a good<br />

outfit but having to stay home and not flaunt it. I had difficulty hiding and not sharing my<br />

experiences with my family like other teenagers who could openly discuss their crush with<br />

their parents. Growing up in a very religious and conservative household made finding<br />

comfort in my skin hard.<br />

Nevertheless, I found myself and became the proud queer woman that I am now. I have not<br />

lost hope that someday, I will feel free from the fear of getting abandoned and unsupported<br />

by my parents; hopefully, life will get better for me. If the closeted experience taught me<br />

something, it would be that someone’s ignorance is not my cross to carry; life is too short to<br />

spend it sacrificing my happiness trying to please everybody. What felt like a billion years of<br />

exploration in the closet passed, and I finally found the perfect fit for me.

Them<br />

Cyanotype<br />

Julia Franco Ramos<br />



Elizabeth Grace Lowe<br />

Your face is bruised, and your body scarred. Blood flows steadily from the wound on your<br />

head, slipping down your face. There is so much pain that you shouldn’t be able to stand, but<br />

you can. You barely feel the pain, for a blanket of numbness seems to cover you, and you are<br />

warmed by the fire of anger in your soul.<br />

A thousand thoughts race through your mind, but one is behind them all, beating out a steady<br />

rhythm in the chaotic orchestra of your brain. “His fault. His fault. His fault.” His fault that you<br />

had fallen from grace in your father’s eyes before you were kidnapped. His fault that you are<br />

living in the desert with a group of assassins and thieves. His fault that you are broken.<br />

Yet though he destroyed your past, your brother built your future. His betrayal had thrown you<br />

into the depths of slavery. But from the depths, you had built a throne of power. You had held<br />

everything you ever desired. Fear and respect from the hundreds of people in the group of<br />

outcasts. Wealth gained from years of back-breaking work, and a path to revenge bought with<br />

the blood and sweat of decades of labor.<br />

But now, you have lost it all. The empire you had worked for years to build has crumbled<br />

before your eyes.<br />

As you stare at the burning remains of the once glorious land, a tear starts to slide down your<br />

cheek, tracing a river through the field of dust on your face, watering the roses of blood that<br />

bloom along its banks. Another tear falls, as you see the smoke rising over the desert, born<br />

from the flames that lick hungrily at the few remains of your domain. Everything is gone, and it<br />

is his fault.<br />

Memories start to sing and wail in your head, echoed by the steady beat, “His fault. His fault.”<br />

A time when you were young comes to your mind. A time when you had believed your brother<br />

loved you. When you had played in the bushes of the garden, fighting the garrisons of ants<br />

that came to attack the castle of leaves. He had made his love look so genuine, but you know it<br />

couldn’t have been real. What happened a few years later proved that.<br />

You had told your brother that you didn’t enjoy the bustling life of the politics and etiquette<br />

that surrounded you, and he had told your father that. The heartbreak on your father’s face<br />

haunts you to this day.<br />

Though your kidnapping had nothing to do with any of that, you had learned to blame your<br />

brother for it. It was easier to feel anger than to wallow in the grief that came from knowing you<br />

would never see your family again. In time the pain had disappeared, and the anger became<br />

the real part of you.<br />

“His fault,” you try to say once again, but deep down you know it is yours. Your brother loved<br />


Night Time Right Time<br />

Photography<br />

Erin Kubat<br />

you. Your father had loved you. You could have returned so many times, but pride kept you<br />

away. Tears fall from your eyes, dissolving the callus on your heart and letting the ache<br />

through. The ache that you have felt, but denied for so long. The ache caused by the truth. It<br />

was never his fault, but yours.<br />

You fall to your knees, and an anguished thought screams in your mind, why hadn’t I been<br />

willing to see? Your brother hadn’t betrayed you, he had been trying to help you. He had seen<br />

the lost look in your eyes when you told him your fears and had known you weren’t brave.<br />


A City Park in Arizona<br />

Madeline Currah<br />

The sun is setting, casting shades of pink and gold across pale, dead grass. Against my skin,<br />

the breeze is cool as water, as if I were in a vast underground pool of light and air. Teenagers<br />

call to each other, and fathers cheer on their children’s soccer games; at the adobe-colored<br />

apartment complex, a mother warns her children of dinner time: 10 minutes, 10 minutes, kids.<br />

Dogs bark and crawl over the parkscape. Each sound is like a dark fish through the pool of air<br />

swirling invisibly around me, calling me back to the moment.<br />

The sun dips further below the surrounding hills, and quietness starts to escape: like small<br />

night-animals emerging from their burrow beginning to sniff the air and raise their cautious<br />

eyes. The lively ecosystem remains active in the pre-dusk. Basketball. Soccer. Dog walkers and<br />

grandparents. A woman with a stolen tire cuts across the grass. They all gather, prepared to<br />

brave beyond the boundary of dark and shine their life’s flames into some of the night before<br />

flying like owls back to their warm nests. Here, they find nourishment and prepare for life again<br />

in tomorrow’s sunlight.<br />

The sun burns on, singing the last of his orange song while dusk steals over the sky: a<br />

smokey, star-speckled thief. The sun sings and sings, til his song turns from orange to gold<br />

to a polished, butter-yellow; he sings boldly til at last the curtain falls, and new stage is set for<br />

the quiet, pale, effacing moon. My own dinner, my own routine beckons me home. I have a<br />

cat who meows to be fed, people to exchange complex words with. I must put myself to sleep<br />

with books and homework and painting. Home feels like small owl’s nest in the hole of a tree:<br />

one nest among many, I but one of many owls flying through the air. How these liminal spaces<br />

bring us together: we are all the same in the evanescent light of dusk: animals seeking comfort<br />

as best we can.<br />


When We Were Young<br />

Photography<br />

Leah Trieu<br />


It’s Fun To Fantasize.<br />

Mirtha Gabriela Duarte<br />

In some ecclesial contexts, plans and proposals for blessings of unions of persons of the<br />

same sex are being advanced. Such projects are not infrequently motivated by a sincere<br />

desire to welcome and accompany homosexual persons, to whom are proposed paths of<br />

growth in faith, “so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the<br />

assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives”[1].<br />

Blessings belong to the category of the sacramentals, whereby the Church “calls us to<br />

praise God, encourages us to implore his protection, and exhorts us to seek his mercy by<br />

our holiness of life”[4]. it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively<br />

ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation,<br />

and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. Therefore, only those realities which are in<br />

themselves ordered to serve those ends are congruent with the essence of the blessing<br />

imparted by the Church.<br />

For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even<br />

stable , that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union<br />

of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions<br />

between persons of the same sex. The presence in such relationships o, since the positive<br />

elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.<br />

Furthermore, since blessings on persons are in relationship with the sacraments, the<br />

blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit analogous to God’s plan for<br />

marriage and family”[8].Te s the Church understands them.<br />

The Christian community and its Pastors are called to welcome (homosexuals) with respect<br />

and sensitivity persons with homosexual inclinations, and will know how to find the most<br />

appropriate ways, consistent with Church teaching, to proclaim to them the Gospel in its<br />

fullness. At the same time, they should recognize the genuine nearness of the Church –<br />

individual persons<br />

Luis F. Card. Ladaria, S.I.<br />

Prefect<br />

Giacomo Morandi<br />

Archbishop tit. of Cerveteri<br />

Secretary<br />


Overjoyed<br />

Acrylic Paint and Molding paste on Canvas<br />

Mya Palacios<br />



Marriah Nissen<br />

A hot breeze snapped the towels drying in the afternoon sun as Becky swiped a moist strand<br />

of hair from her eyes. She pulled another clothespin from the bag hanging on the line, clipping<br />

one of the many faded tee shirts to the wire. In the weed-choked grass, the yellow Labrador<br />

retriever puppy ran after four-year-old Micah. The same breeze that dried the laundry rifled<br />

through Micah’s dark curls as he opened his palm and bits of clover scattered across the lawn.<br />

The puppy yipped sharply and chased after the windswept white and green.<br />

Becky cut a cautious look toward the southern second-story side of the house. A window airconditioning<br />

unit labored and dripped through the humid afternoon heat. She felt for sure the<br />

damn thing would give out this summer. Up there, Julien slept. He worked the graveyard shift<br />

at the local battery factory, which, not surprisingly enough, would be closing down at the end<br />

of the summer, sending work overseas. Most weekends Julien dragged home the dregs of coworkers<br />

left at the factory. They’d knock back a few, tell god-awful dirty jokes, and spin stories<br />

Becky always mentally questioned. Eventually talk about hot female celebrities they wanted to<br />

lay and whatever seasonal sport was in play would turn into angry, drunken outbursts directed<br />

at the battery plant. The din of incoherent rants saturated the heavy air in the house on any<br />

given Saturday afternoon.<br />

“Micah,” Becky said in a hushed tone. “Go on and take that dog to the front porch and play<br />

with him there. Keep him quiet so Julien can sleep. If you’re good, I’ll get you a popsicle when I<br />

finish up here.”<br />

At the mention of popsicles, a rare treat for any of the kids, Micah latched onto the puppy’s<br />

collar. He half dragged the dog around the side of the house.<br />

Earlier, Becky had given Micah’s four older siblings – three boys and poor Mandy as the only<br />

girl – a dollar each to go down to the public pool. They’d mounted their bikes and had raced<br />

one another to the bottom of the hill. Mandy gave a shrill shriek when she beat the three boys.<br />

Becky had wanted to smile and whoop as well, to show a little pride over her one daughter<br />

beating the pants off the boys, but she didn’t dare.<br />

She wiped her sweaty palms against her faded denim cutoffs. She kept her clothes short and<br />

tight, not just because Julien liked to watch her ass when she exited a room, but also because<br />

this bit of flesh-flashing was about the only sexiness she had left after pushing out five kids and<br />

turning thirty-six just last month. The Labrador retriever had been her birthday present. As a<br />

way to improve his chances for hunting duck this fall, Julien had purchased the retriever last<br />

month for $800 from a breeder in Missouri. Never mind the fact that Becky had always hated<br />

dogs.<br />

Becky finished with the last of the underpants and socks wadded into a damp pile at the<br />

bottom of the laundry basket. She hitched the empty basket against her hip, stopped off at the<br />


Indolence<br />

Photography<br />

Victoria Rivera<br />

broken charcoal grill for her pack of smokes she kept hidden under the rusted lid, and went<br />

around to the front of the house to see what Micah was doing to keep the dog quiet.<br />

“Shit, Micah!” She dropped the basket and cigarettes and snatched the silver scissors out<br />

of Micah’s hands. “What’re you doing?” Chunks of yellow dog hair lay scattered around the<br />

puppy.<br />

“A ‘aircut,” Micah said. “Does I get a pops’kle?”<br />

Becky held tightly to the scissors. The metal pressed achingly against the palm of her hand.<br />

She took a calming breath. The clippers. She’d use the clippers she always cut the kids’ hair<br />

with, and then Julien wouldn’t see how Micah had butchered the dog’s fur. If he noticed, she’d<br />

take the blame. Better she gets the back of his hand than Micah.<br />

“Of course, babe.” She mussed his curls with a clammy hand. “Stay out here with it, though.<br />

We don’t wanna wake Julien up right now.”<br />

As she reached for the screen door, something thudded against the floor upstairs. Becky<br />

paused with her hand on the handle, noticing the slight shake of her hand. Could be anything.<br />

After another deep breath, she pulled the door open.<br />


Amnesis 19:24<br />

Graphite Pencil / <strong>Digital</strong> Collage<br />

Ev Essif<br />


The Last Song<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

For eons now, the pattern is the same. Animals act oddly, attacking each other. Barking,<br />

hissing, squawking, staring panicked at the sky. Then, people feel it. A sickening feeling in<br />

the pit of their stomachs, like something isn’t quite right. Your stomach drops to your feet,<br />

your heart to your throat, the feeling of eyes all around you, watching. A wretched wrongness.<br />

A warning. Tectonic shiftings rattle the very bones of the cities. Panic. Paranoia. Peril. The<br />

Dragon awakens, and none shall ignore it. All that stands between destruction and safety is<br />

an incantation. It is said that being chosen is a great honor. That the honored are deified. A<br />

single soul, the Chosen enters the lair of the beast and lulls it to peaceful slumber once more.<br />

Fair of voice, pure of heart. They are taught the words, but the magic must come from within.<br />

Honeyed words and tinkling melodies, a sonata of solitude to save them all. Some resist. They<br />

are given the blade. This one does not resist, old enough to know what happens if she does.<br />

Some call this bravery, others stupidity. The blade may be more merciful. This one is a quick<br />

learner; perhaps she knows what awaits. Visions are not unheard of; maybe she knows death<br />

will always come in the end. The blade is quick, but a Dragon? None hear of the Chosen again<br />

when they enter the lair, only rumors survive. Tale will tell of this one, a child of the stars. A<br />

baby who did not cry, born on a night when the moon hid and all one could see was stars.<br />

Like those before her, this Chosen is led to the lair with no way back. Despite the pitch-black of<br />

the cave, no torch is needed. No, the ground rumbles in rhythm with the beast’s heart, pulling<br />

her blindly through twists and turns. A darkness that surpasses moonless nights, darker than<br />

the night behind one’s eyes. Those who led her here scurry back to their nests like the ants<br />

they are, bringing news to their Queen, all is well. But in the depths of the cavern, the Chosen<br />

finds a chamber bigger than any throne room. The Dragon sprawls, heaped, towering over<br />

every rock and stone, with eyes brighter than any full moon. It does not speak. It does not<br />

need to. The connection is made. An understanding, an awe that sparks and fills them both.<br />

She sings. Arias clearer than glass, melodies deeper than rivers. She sings of grass, of wind, of<br />

sky, of dreams. Two heartbeats become one. This one does not fear. Why should she? Here,<br />

deep beneath the Kingdom that readily threw her to the wolves to save themselves, she feels<br />

power. Power to do what those before her could not, what they were too afraid to do. The<br />

Dragon does not stop her when she touches his wing, when she climbs the great beast, hands<br />

gripping spikes and scales, twisting her incantation. Nor does he stop her when she clambers<br />

onto his back, seated between massive wings. What is fear? It is what they shall feel. No more<br />

slumber. Great wings beat on the wind, course set for a castle that gleams like a diamond in<br />

the sudden darkness. The Chosen looks up, to a moonless sky of stars.<br />


The Little Soldiers<br />

Carissa Villalovos<br />

Standing stiff, waiting, like soldiers at the feet of their dictator, Misty visioned,<br />

crying for salvation, we rasped prayers through the static night, Til we believed<br />

a god had heard our pleas,<br />

Promised to sanctify what was named as dirty,<br />

And thus we had named ourselves Dirty.<br />

Children sang their deeds in a circle: Good and Evil,<br />

But not too far from righteousness. Lost sense of self; so lost; Groaning under<br />

the mad pursuit of approval; trained into obedience To a god without a voice,<br />

whilst our own tongues bled with blistering confession<br />

Repent! REPENT! Before Death himself arrives!—they remained motionless<br />

Eyes gaping and alert to any sign of failure,<br />

While we were sinking, begging for our flaws to be forgiven<br />

Thrashing as the quicksand rose to our faces.—<br />

Through the dust stirred by our weary, Dirty souls,<br />

Caught in the thundering bellow of suffocation,<br />

I saw what good little soldiers we had become.<br />


Mushroom Anagoge<br />

Mixed Media / <strong>Digital</strong> Collage<br />

Ev Essif<br />


The First Strawberries<br />

Watercolor & Ink<br />

Ashley Carmichael<br />



Kathleen Williamson<br />

Seven roses from Estonian Urva Kissa in<br />

Greenwich Hell’s Kitchen<br />

Lung cancer happiness<br />

Fire Island bikini memories<br />

Lesbian singer lover yesterdays<br />

Half a lifetime of Faustian drunklove<br />

Half a life of sober growing pangs<br />

Seven roses from Estonian Urva<br />

Wishing happiness<br />

Wishing freedom from demons<br />

Adorning my room<br />

At the foot of my bed<br />

Western diffused sunlight<br />

Blesses all seven with light and soft shadow<br />

Each rose cherry picked<br />

For the perfect curls per petal<br />

And woven hues of<br />

Salmon and<br />

Night ruby blood<br />

Glorious in their performance<br />

Of dying slowly<br />

In freshened water<br />

And baby’s breath<br />


A Way Home<br />

Eric S Cerda<br />

Lost<br />

in a desert<br />

no direction home<br />

the sun mercilessly<br />

bears down<br />

hot warped air rises<br />

from the ground<br />

salt-encrusted shirt<br />

clings<br />

skin and soles<br />

blisters and festers<br />

water is sparse<br />

The horizon<br />

blurred<br />

is going left,<br />

right?<br />

Or is that how<br />

bones bleach?<br />

Right is might?<br />

Will the vultures feast?<br />

A single step starts<br />

the journey<br />

of an unmarked grave<br />

but<br />

staying still<br />

still doesn’t change<br />

the destination<br />

Is home<br />

always a mirage?<br />


Your Brains on Clothes<br />

Cyanotype<br />

Julia Franco Ramos<br />

126<br />

Intern Twined<br />

Cyanotype<br />

Julia Franco Ramos

Akisame (“Autumn Rain”)<br />

Collin Chadwick<br />

Fondly remembering<br />

my days in joyous exile:<br />

the soft caress<br />

of a recurrent wind<br />

in the autumn rain,<br />

the captivating melodies<br />

of a fiery poetess<br />

weaving a golden thread<br />

through a renaissance<br />

in full bloom.<br />

Shards of moonlight<br />

through a barred window<br />

offer me solace:<br />

glowing embers<br />

frozen in the darkness,<br />

easing the sorrow of<br />

squandered potential,<br />

maddening inertia.<br />

Faint echoes of<br />

the autumn rain<br />

trickle down<br />

through the years,<br />

giving life to<br />

a blossoming chrysanthemum<br />

amid the desolate<br />

wasteland of a<br />

turbid future.<br />

A hallowed monument<br />

dedicated to what is<br />

now only the<br />

shadow of a memory,<br />

that lonely flower<br />

is an enduring reminder<br />

of the brilliant chapters<br />

yet to be written.<br />


Doldrum<br />

Photography<br />

Victoria Rivera<br />



Linnea Davison<br />

certain beings are constant<br />

whether my shower head<br />

has watched me sit<br />

beneath her cornea for hours<br />

the fluid secreted by her lacrimal glands<br />

covering his violation<br />

like a blanket<br />

or my freckles have met<br />

in the sunbeam of my morning run<br />

their conversations<br />

inevitably birthing new specks<br />

at the tip of my nose<br />

certain beings are constant<br />

whether my pillow coughs<br />

like an old smoker<br />

suppressed by the disarray<br />

in his voice<br />

slipping quickly<br />

like a small child on a waterslide<br />

exiting my eyelids<br />

or my diaphragm<br />

brings me to the chapel<br />

offering itself as a hammock<br />

for no yesterday<br />

and no tomorrow<br />

certain beings are constant<br />

whether the ripest mango<br />

in my kitchen<br />

notices me rewatching<br />

my youngest little brother<br />

screaming of his own suicide<br />

as the sweetness<br />

boogies through my esophagus<br />

all the way down<br />

or my blank paper bows in reverence<br />

my attentiveness to her<br />

fast and scourging<br />

a telegram of ecstasy<br />

desperately mirroring the gaze upon him<br />

that was swallowed by time<br />

swallowed by the fog<br />

certain beings are constant<br />

the sun<br />

she will still rise and set<br />

the rain<br />

his emotion will remain the same<br />

wherever<br />

the damaged hair on my head<br />

touches my pelvic bone<br />

it does not matter<br />

I can never be fully brought out<br />

of the incapacitation<br />

of the serenity in my keratin<br />

in this body<br />

but I can also never fully put down<br />

any roots in the dry cemetery<br />

of my left atrium<br />

this is where I find my muse<br />

she is the sound of that<br />

no matter what<br />

certain beings are constant<br />


Sending You My<br />

Gelatin Silver Print<br />

Julia Franco Ramos<br />


Household Essentials<br />

Pencil & Paper<br />

Heather Peterson<br />


Emerald Bay (From my journal)<br />

Natalie Johnson<br />

The sugar pine forest steams at rainfall,<br />

a trail leads us with hues of vibrant greens and earthy reds.<br />

Above our heads,<br />

a graceful mist spreads across the tops of towering pine and butterscotch ponderosa.<br />

Trickles of dew fall from the old man’s beard moss rested over bent branches,<br />

the fragrant damp ground and vanilla bark blend with the bite of crisp mountain air.<br />

Far away from home, nestled comfortably in ferns, there is no separation,<br />

a flash of time, eternally with us.<br />

Elk, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona<br />

Photography<br />

Joseph Retsky<br />


Inheritance<br />

Ash Hooke<br />

Susan<br />

Can anyone hear your trembling words<br />

today;<br />

How many times has he said you are wrong<br />

This morning amid your geraniums?<br />

I never knew that having your ears<br />

Would be more about the collecting of<br />

sharpened words<br />

Than whether my lobes were attached or<br />

not.<br />

Or that having inherited your tremble<br />

And quivering lips would muffle my voice<br />

To a mumbling trifle.<br />

Your voice drones faintly from<br />

six hundred sixty-seven miles away;<br />

a worn out gramophone<br />

Skipping through the same trite collective,<br />

Slowing for the blind grinding hosannas<br />

I stopped choking on just four short years<br />

ago.<br />

My mind often not knowing why.<br />

Then other times Susan<br />

Our voices merge into one<br />

And I am so stunned at our chorus of<br />

acquiesce and<br />

Self deprecative sacrifice<br />

I long for your God’s justification.<br />

Except He and I can’t hear each other<br />

anymore;<br />

So I stay sore<br />

Choosing rawness instead.<br />

While my eyes are brown,<br />

Yours Susan, are blue.<br />

Are you invisible too;<br />

A sun eclipsed by loud male shadow?<br />

Or was your candle slowly snuffed<br />

Silent long ago?<br />

I mourn its loss with my own.<br />

But Susan,<br />

as you’ve so often said,<br />

The afterlife is where it’s at.<br />

And because you live for all of that<br />

Unreal Eternity<br />

Sometimes it feels like you’re already dead;<br />

Self’s slow death disintegrating<br />

until there’s nothing left<br />

But your ghost.<br />

Good thing I still believe in love<br />

And resurrection,<br />

Writhing in the midst of translation myself.<br />

Rise up Susan!<br />

Your daughter is screaming,<br />

Rise!<br />


Mother and Daughter<br />

Gouache Paint on Watercolor Paper<br />

Alexander Washburn<br />


Set in Stone<br />

Ash Hooke<br />

Medusa's rap name<br />

Is Low Key<br />

Big PTSD.<br />

Freezing my<br />

Tragedy,<br />

Looming inside me,<br />

While I wait<br />

For the flash-<br />

-Back<br />

Guerrilla tactic<br />

That rewinds my<br />

Trauma-film,<br />

Forcing brain and body<br />

Into<br />

Eternal re-living.<br />

Long live the<br />

Trauma-Queen!<br />

Or instead,<br />

Off with her<br />

Head.<br />

An internal<br />

Silent scream<br />

Trying to rage<br />

It's way away<br />

From this body and<br />

Otherwise trapping<br />

Everything.<br />

This immortal agony<br />

Hissing into my<br />

Countenance<br />

Over and over,<br />

Making a mindless<br />

Medusa<br />

Of me;<br />

Pain's gangster,<br />

Full of electric stone and<br />

Writhing on forever.<br />


Tree of Life<br />

Linoleum Print on Paper<br />

Juan Pena<br />


Pima Community College West-Point View<br />

Photography<br />

Isaac Frisby<br />


sandcastle culture<br />

Ev Essif<br />

the lotus spoke in this sandcastle<br />

I was a sand shogun, a stolen soul awoken, an omen in my right mind but in my left an oracle<br />

interwoven inside me, internally an eternal oddity, oddly interred in this existence, an isthmus<br />

positioned between icarus and insanity,<br />

sandcastle culture amidst us<br />

conquistadors clipping crystals from copper canyons, carving crevasses into the cranium of a<br />

creator, cracked vertebrates of birth givers so I vault these sidewalk valleys, superstitious,<br />

suspicious of the mercenaries merchandising the minutes measuring the miracles maybe, I am<br />

mansa musa moving miles between mali and mecca<br />

a march mustered with that mustard mineral, motherlode madness, bestowed atlas between<br />

aksum and atlantis building sandcastles for my scions, syllables slipping as silt shifts<br />

underneath<br />

my soles<br />


Tuning In<br />

Photography<br />

Isabelle Gard<br />


Worship at Dawn<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

You do not fear yourself,<br />

Your soft edges are a comfort to you<br />

And as the sun rises<br />

So do you, throwing<br />

Back the covers to greet the day<br />

Your hair is tousled and pinned up<br />

Blinking away slumber, you greet the dawn,<br />

You, with your round cheeks, soft jaw, stubby nose,<br />

Plump and round and proud<br />

Of every roll and jowl<br />

The soft golden glow illuminates every curve,<br />

Brilliant rays and beams that shine on your stretch-marked thighs and stomach,<br />

You have a confidence that is not shaken<br />

Why should you ever feel shame?<br />

Just by existing, you wield a power older than the Gods,<br />

Wiser and gentler to yourself and others<br />

Without speaking, your body preaches of a kindness oft lost<br />

Your body the temple and the priest,<br />

And we are but worshippers at your house<br />

Of a love long forgotten<br />


When I Write<br />

Ev Essif<br />

when i write it’s weeping wicking<br />

walking watching infinity whittling wood with ink, an instantaneous immersion with wordplay,<br />

in turn as i return to the elocution, an electrocution when “I” surges sizzling syllables,<br />

similes symbolizing a divine solution, similar to the supreme illusion, half Martin Luther, half<br />

Confucius, confusion marking contusions on my mental, mezzanine mind, murmuring mantras<br />

and metaphors, marching through subconscious swamps, sweltering, deep among willows<br />

bearing sweet whispers of wisteria wrapped in the warm breath of water, when i write i am<br />

Winter, a warlock in opposition wearing the whiplash, a washed out wanderer watching the<br />

western sky seek sleep<br />


Mon Père<br />

Water Color on Water Color Paper<br />

Bianca Barrett<br />


Blackout<br />

Ethan Bauschka<br />

2:32 p.m.<br />

There was a wretched heat in the air this summer. The world was warm enough to warrant a<br />

mandated lockdown for all citizens; this time climbing to new records for the second year in a<br />

row. The heavy light rays melted the old painted buildings, bubbled the black-tar roads built in<br />

the Reformations Age, and bleached the trees bone white.<br />

The abandoned world outside shimmered as solar winds and sand crystals became like<br />

curtains passing through the air. The remains of all that once was now lay buried and<br />

forgotten, and some– the fortunate ones– were charred shadows of the life left behind.<br />

The few living humans scrambled to the hills and mountains and packed themselves in like<br />

rodents with what provisions they could spare. They hunkered away, finding refuge in the<br />

black, metal containers deep beneath the earth.<br />

Some found peace in the idea of this sudden storm being the only disaster that would befall<br />

them in this lifetime. However naive, a few people clung to these thoughts in hope of a return to<br />

normalcy, but the world was always changing, and all that was ever common would be forgotten.<br />

Unfortunately, the storms raged for the third time this year, and it looked to be a common part<br />

of life. After the First Wave brought about an end to the wars twenty years ago and destroyed<br />

all life in the southern regions, people built the Solar Bunkers– the small, cramped rooms for<br />

living through the Waves. These days, the empty prisons were an all too familiar sight, one that<br />

drove some to go mad.<br />

Bunkers 4F and 19E caved in. The poor unfortunate people in 12H had an air leak and dried out. It<br />

was a learning curve, the scientists had said, but the truth was there were no comforting answers.<br />

After several more Waves darkened the earth, the people knew better than to leave their hideyholes.<br />

They knew better than to see the sun and feel it on their faces as their parents had in<br />

their youth. They knew– even if they wanted not to believe– that the world was lost.<br />

The finale would not come in flood or frost, or even as they had first thought fire or drought. It<br />

would come in a sudden Blackout, like the flicker of a lightbulb.<br />

Once there, and then gone.<br />

They could feel it, even in the recesses of the new Bunkers. They could see death surround<br />

them in their moments, and they all waited for the end.<br />

The few remaining Bunkers lived out their last few minutes.<br />


Solar Bunker 3D- 2:33 p.m.<br />

Old Man Gerredy sprinted to the door, banging, and screaming at the people. His wide eyes<br />

scanned the faces of those around him, as he shouted, “Let me out, goddammit! I need out, I need<br />

out…” Gray hairs swung from his gaunt face and stuck to his pale forehead. “Please! Please!”<br />

Elijah stood up when the man stepped on his mother’s left hand. He grabbed Gerredy’s<br />

flailing arm, throwing him to the ground. “Sit down, you dumb bastard. We’ve had enough<br />

of your whining.”<br />

Before he could make a break for the door again, Elijah kicked him down, stepping on his back<br />

until he lay in his tears. The others watched in silence like dumb puppets, gaping at the feeble<br />

man as he curled into a ball. “We need to get out of here…”<br />

There was a sneer on Elijah’s face as he forced Gerredy onto the filthy ground one last time.<br />

“Stop it, Elijah. He’s done fighting.”<br />

Elijah’s eyes shot to the short woman sitting in front of him. “If he opens the door, we are all<br />

dead. He has to learn–” He pointed to the haggard woman lying face up, “-and apologize for<br />

stepping on my mother.”<br />

“He knows the cost. We all learned that during the Second Wave when it took that resettling.<br />

Many lost their families that way.” Sheila looked at Gerredy crying on the floor. “We were<br />

meant to see the sun, but this world no longer accepts us. We’ve killed it, and now it wishes to<br />

erase our existence. It has succeeded in breaking us apart slowly, as you have seen. We have<br />

little time left, and soon the end will occur, whether we are ready or not.”<br />

Elijah scowled and looked at his mother’s vacant face as she stared at the shaking ceiling. Her<br />

mouth opened and closed as she muttered wordlessly.<br />

“You have more than others. Enjoy your last moments, while you can.”<br />

He muttered, “Again with this nonsense.” Elijah stepped back and sat down, stroking his<br />

mother’s thinning hair. “We must do anything to survive. You said that once when you were a<br />

part of the Science Corp that built these things.”<br />

She smiled bitterly. “I was young then, like you, and hopeful. We all thought these bunkers would<br />

be a safe house while we found better methods. We searched, but there never was enough time.<br />

We thought we could survive together and reform, reconnect as a species, maybe beyond the<br />

stars.” Sheila looked at his face. “You remember what happened, don’t you?”<br />

Scraping metal sounds pierced the darkness. “I will never forget the wars for supplies.”<br />

“Too much time has passed, and I’ve seen the people change, the world grew alien. Soon this<br />


place will wither. There will be no food or water. There will be no one. What will you do then in<br />

the face of utter darkness?”<br />

“I will not give up.”<br />

Sheila sighed. “Maybe. If you wish to outlive us all to face it alone, you could eat your mother.<br />

She must have more protein than the scraps some have left. She has flesh and has recently<br />

grown comatose. Maybe we can get water from her in some way. They tried that in 2A, and<br />

it worked for a time.” She pointed to the half-dead woman beside him. “What will you do to<br />

survive? Will you become like them, or die like your father, protecting those you love?”<br />

The doors creaked as another solar wind beat against the door. New moisture appeared on<br />

their foreheads, and the people moaned. The rotten stink of the piled dead festered in the air.<br />

Sheila leaned back and closed her eyes. “Soon it won’t matter what we want. This sun will kill<br />

us, and we’ll float away to oblivion. Let us sit here quietly until our time comes.”<br />

Elijah looked at his mother’s wandering eyes. He pulled her close. “We will be okay, Mom. We will.”<br />

The sun pulsed. Earth’s time went down from four minutes to three.<br />

Solar Bunker 7F- 2:33<br />

A woman’s pained cry echoed down the way. Her lover gripped her hand. “Deep breaths. It<br />

will pass, Victoria. You will feel better soon.”<br />

She looked at him with a red face and a scowl. Victoria pushed his hand away. “Shut up. You<br />

said that you had a plan, and now I am sick because of your stupidity. You said the water was<br />

clean, and now I may die feeling this way. I shouldn’t have listened to your words.”<br />

Carter shook his head. “I told you, I’m sorry. That's all I could do. I had to exchange it for my clothes.”<br />

She laughed sarcastically. “That’s all you have– your words. I should have been with<br />

Derick. I could have let him touch me until he died, and then I would have had some good<br />

water at least.” He sighed as the person beside him dry-heaved. “I thought you were a<br />

stronger man. At least once, your family had power in this place. Why’d you give that up,<br />

so others could have their share?”<br />

He snorted. “It doesn’t matter. You’d never understand. Maybe we’ll die from the disease<br />

before the end. Soon it will be over, and I won’t have to hear your cruel words.”<br />

Rising to her side, Victoria opened her eyes wide in disbelief. Before she could open her<br />

mouth, Carter slapped her across the face. “Let me die in peace.”<br />

The sirens sounded and the pair looked at the doorway. It shuttered as the sandstorms battered<br />


the first row of doors. A steam engine whistle grew shrill as the oxygen filter worked overtime.<br />

Three minutes turned to two as the sun expanded.<br />

Solar Bunker 14Q- 2:34<br />

The Bunker’s family sat together, huddling in the corner. They passed the water canteen<br />

around, each taking a sip. Together, they had twenty-two. Most were the younger generation<br />

orphans of those lost in transition, or the stragglers. As the last established bunker, they began<br />

to adopt names and titles according to family members as a way to keep the peace.<br />

Brother Tracy smiled as Simon spread his arms wide. His eyes sparkled as he told of a world far<br />

away, full of life, dangerous and beautiful.<br />

“And then… boom, bang! Thunder smashed into the ground as she ran across the plains. Pow!<br />

Another went by her, just missing by a few feet. Jabella rushed from the tall grass with her<br />

people as the lightning seemed to follow her. The great mawbeast ran behind, his big teeth<br />

gnashing as he could taste their sweet flesh. They ran onwards, but Jabella tripped over a rock<br />

at the edge of the forest–”<br />

A child’s voice called out in excitement. “What next? What happened?”<br />

“Do you really want to know?” He looked around, making sure all the people were watching<br />

with bated breath. The young ones froze, too afraid to blink. “Well, together they knocked the<br />

mawbeast over with a mighty shove and carried her up the trees. They climbed and climbed<br />

for many days until they saw the stars, usually hidden by the green leaves. For the first time<br />

since their people lived there, they were able to see what was above.”<br />

Uncle Darren laughed, clapping him on the back. “They climbed the tall trees in the Great<br />

Forest trying to see the world they had never known fully. This little girl, a small child, had<br />

brought them back to their ancestor’s homeland by accident, and in the end, she was saved.”<br />

Aunt Hanna spoke up, somber. “Was her sacrifice worth it?”<br />

The kids turned to look at her. Hanna was almost always sitting in the back when they first<br />

settled, but once they made it a point to tell stories every day during the hottest time of day,<br />

she grew curious. Hanna appeared too young to belong with the adults, but too old to be with<br />

the children who were taken to the Bunker.<br />

“Do you think it was worth it in the end, Simon?”<br />

He nodded. “Maybe for some, it was a waste, but I’d like to think they grew better because of<br />

it, even if it was in the smallest of ways. They grew in the most desperate times. Together. What<br />

do you think, Hanna? Is it worth it?”<br />


She lowered her head, thinking for a moment. Her eyes scanned the crowd of children and the<br />

others. “That depends. Do they get to see the stars again?”<br />

“I’d like to think so. No one ever knows completely, I guess.”<br />

The world outside grew quiet for the first time. Nothing churned, and all grew still. The entire<br />

Bunker, save Simon and Hanna, turned toward the door.<br />

“All I know is, in the end, they got to see it together. For me, I’d rather be surrounded by my<br />

loved ones, than all alone.”<br />

She reached out and held the hands of the children. “You might be right.”<br />

Thirty seconds remained of the world.<br />

2:35<br />

At that moment, the few remaining Bunkers grew quiet. The sun shrunk to its normal size for<br />

a moment and disappeared entirely. Overwhelming blackness consumed the world instantly,<br />

spreading across the universe.<br />

All of the trees and bugs and people sat in silence as the light vanished. The sounds of the<br />

world that so plagued them disappeared instantly. The black boxes the populace was housed<br />

in grew cold.<br />

Everything they carried with them was lost; all but those they were with. Their stories, their<br />

lives, their dreams, and fears remained on the sandy earth, changed as the universe moved<br />

on without them.<br />

It was lonely and painful, but soon after, it would be over. It was scary and life-changing, but it<br />

was not something to be afraid of for too long.<br />

The end was another beginning, and maybe life would go on in some way.<br />


Tread<br />

Printmaking<br />

Marii Ink<br />


Prickly Pear Cactus Flower<br />

Charcoal<br />

Kira Okuma<br />


Brunch with the Ex<br />

Eric S Cerda<br />

“I could be happy if I could get away from you.”<br />

Those words still ring in my head as I stare at the lazily whirring ceiling fan blades. I feel<br />

nauseous, hot, dizzy, and tired with a splitting headache. My mouth is dry as my throat itches.<br />

My eyes are burning. I groan as I look at my five percent life phone to see it’s only 9:15.<br />

I sit up upheaving, but the fluid stops halfway up my throat. After spitting on my beige carpet, I<br />

stand up before sitting back down. Up again, I walk out of my bedroom and into the bathroom.<br />

A quick cool shower makes me feel slightly better. Sniffing shirts, socks, and shoes. I dress<br />

in a black Taking Back Sunday ten-year anniversary tour tee, ripped blue jeans, and black<br />

Converse.<br />

My apartment is dark. No natural light coming in. Scattered cardboard boxes filled with items<br />

of an uprooted life lie everywhere. I call an Uber before placing my phone on its charger.<br />

Grabbing a half-empty bottle of whisky that sits on the coffee table amongst empty beer cans,<br />

I sniff it and gag. I take a quick swig. I search through the boxes for a pair of sunglasses. My<br />

phone chirps.<br />

I step out of my apartment. As I walk down the stairs, the guardrails sizzle under the blaring<br />

August sun. My skin fries and I feel my heartbeat through my skull. In the parking lot sits a gray<br />

Honda CR-V. I walk to the passenger window.<br />

I ask the driver if he is for me before getting into the backseat. The car smells like cologne. I<br />

think I’m going to puke. The a/c is on full blast, but only barely reaches me. My head throbs<br />

even more with the music on blast. I don’t know the song, but it sounds like Chance the<br />

Rapper. I close my eyes, and the drive is over.<br />

Outside Burnt Bacon Bits, a brunch restaurant, there are groups of people waiting while trying<br />

to be in the shade. I walk inside, and the cacophony of voices booms. I go up to the host. I<br />

give her my name, and then the name Xochitl Morales. I go into the restroom. Splashing cool<br />

water on my face makes the building nausea dissipate, and my eyes hurt less. Once out of the<br />

restroom, the host leads me to a booth by a window.<br />

I begin looking over the menu when the waiter comes up to me. I feel awkward under his<br />

narrowed eyes. He taps his notepad with his pen. Rushing I scan the drinks. Underneath his<br />

stare, I start repeating um um um. I order a Spicy Bacon Bloody Mary and water. He checks my<br />

ID before writing my order. As the waiter leaves, I check my phone for any notifications. None<br />

so far, but it is already 10:45. Looking back at the menu, there’s a Nopales Tom Collins. If I<br />

had to guess, that's what she’ll order, or maybe just the coffee with Irish cream if she’s not in a<br />

playful mood. Yeah, probably the coffee. I slide my sunglasses up onto the top of my head and<br />


I rest my elbows on the table. Closing my eyes, I push them against the heels of my palms. Why<br />

did she text? I don’t want to be here. It’s only been three weeks since she… I need a drink.<br />

The waiter is back with my drinks. I sip my Bloody Mary. The clamato is strong, and it is mild at<br />

best. I take a bite of a bacon strip that came with the drink.<br />

The host brings a family of four to a table next to my booth. The children with their pudgy foodstained<br />

faces sit next to each parent. They look like they're six and three maybe. The parents<br />

are husks in their late thirties.<br />

Xochitl walks up to the table. I slump back into my seat sliding my sunglasses down. She sits<br />

down across the table. “You look like shit,” she says. Her voice sounds a bit strained. Her eyes<br />

were puffy and red and the nail of her right index finger had been chewed. Her fingers rap<br />

against the table.<br />

I shrug. “Well, I feel like shit.”<br />

“Did you get a place or are you still staying with Chewy?”<br />

“Just moved in a couple of days ago.”<br />

She plays with her necklace, twirling the crucifix between her fingers as she chews the chain.<br />

She watches outside the window.<br />

“So, what do you want?" My arms cross, as my knee bounces.<br />

She stops playing with her necklace. “Well,” she starts to talk, but the waiter walks up.<br />

He has a pitcher of water. He fills up my empty glass. Placing the pitcher on another table, he<br />

comes back with his notepad. “Are you ready to order?”<br />

I don’t ask her what she’s having. I order carnitas, eggs, another drink.<br />

"What beer do you want?"<br />

"Corona." The waiter jots it down and then looks at Xochitl. She just wants water. My eyebrow<br />

raises. The waiter leaves. Huh. “So, what’s wrong with you?”<br />

“I’m pregnant.”<br />

“That sucks for you.” I finish my Bloody Mary. When my empty glass hits on the table, I realize.<br />

“Are you sure?” I lean forward. I take off my sunglasses and stare into her dark brown eyes.<br />

How nauseating. I hear the constant badgering of the older children for the mother's phone.<br />

Finally getting it, the child plays a video with the volume on full blast. My chest feels tight,<br />

hurting.<br />


“I took three home pregnancy tests before going to the clinic.”<br />

“How did it happen? We were always safe.”<br />

“Do you remember the last time we did it? You know when they had mariachis in the park?”<br />

she says. She sits back in her chair crossing her legs. Her foot wags in the air. I put on my<br />

sunglasses.<br />

“Was that the time you kept complaining that I was on your hair, or when my back cramped<br />

up?” The waiter comes with my michelada.<br />

“No, it was the time in the backseat at Kennedy.”<br />

“Oh, the time my head kept banging against the back panel,” I say as I play with my<br />

michelada's straw moving it up and down. “My head was sore for a week.”<br />

“I just remembered how negative you are.”<br />

I stop playing with the straw and fold my arms onto the table. My brows furrow as I say<br />

“Remember how I’m a black hole that people have to get away from, so they could be happy.”<br />

Her foot stops wagging.<br />

“So, what do you want from me? A ride? I didn’t drive here. Does it cost money, because I’m a<br />

bit strapped, so I’ll have to pay you back?”<br />

“What!” Her eyes widen, as she pushes against her chair.<br />

I notice the waiter coming with my food. The waiter places my plate down. “Is there anything<br />

else?”<br />

"Do you have any hot sauce?"<br />

"We have Red Devil and Tapatío."<br />

I ask for Tapatío. He leaves. I break the yolks. The yellow goo spreads to the carnitas.<br />

“I can’t do that.”<br />

“Oh, is it too late? I haven’t seen the news recently, but I’m pretty sure our governor would<br />

pass a law like that.”<br />

“They haven’t. Well, not yet at least, but–”<br />

The waiter is back with the Tapatío. I pour it all over my food. She begins to twirl her crucifix. I<br />


egin eating the eggs.<br />

“But I just can’t,” she says.<br />

“Okay, so adoption, or we can just drop it off at a firehouse if you don’t want to deal with<br />

people.”<br />

“No, I can't, my Nana would be disappointed with me.” She looks away at a spot on the floor, as<br />

she presses her arms into her chest. There is a tear forming in her eyes.<br />

“So, we’re—you’re keeping it.” Is it hot in here? I feel a shooting pain in my arm. Am I having a<br />

heart attack? There is a high-pitched cry coming from the table of the family. The younger one<br />

is throwing a fit. Everything at arm’s length gets flung onto the floor. The mother and father try<br />

to pathetically calm it down. The other is still watching videos. “I guess I’ll have to pick up a<br />

smoking habit.”<br />

“You know how expensive cigarettes are? They also raise your health insurance. Just say<br />

you’re going on a coffee run.”<br />

The parents apologize to the waiter, as they help pick up fallen tableware.<br />

“What are you going to do about California?” I ask.<br />

“I don’t know.” She curls over pressing her palms on her forehead. “I don’t know. I—” she<br />

shakes her head. “I haven’t thought that far out yet.” Her breathing is fast and shallow. “Can I<br />

still do it? I don’t have any support out there.” She looks up at me. “What if I fail, and they fire<br />

me? What would I do then?” She starts hugging herself.<br />

I move over to her side. I place my arms around her shoulders. “It’s okay. You’ll be fine. You’re<br />

strong. Nothing is going to break your stride. Nothing is going to hold you down. Oh no,” I say<br />

as I take deep slow breaths. Her breathing slows down. “That’s right. Breathe with me.” When<br />

her breathing returns to normal and she lets go of herself, I move back to my side.<br />

“You know that I thought about getting fixed before.” I do a pair of scissors with my fingers.<br />

Her eyes flickered toward me. She says, “What happened?”<br />

The waiter is back with the check. I hand him my card.<br />

“It costs something, and I didn’t think anyone would ever want to have sex with me. So why<br />

waste money?”<br />

“Well, that’s true now.”<br />

I laugh. “Yeah, you’re right. So.” I take a sip of my water glass which is only ice. “So, how<br />


involved do you want me?”<br />

“How much do you want to be involved?” The waiter hands me the receipt and leaves.<br />

“As much as you want me.” I add the tip and sign before ordering a ride.<br />

“We’ll see how much I can stand you.”<br />

We stand to part ways. Not knowing what to do I just give her a nod saying later. She looks at<br />

me before shaking her head and leaving. I wait in the shade.<br />

Inside my apartment, I throw the box on the couch on the floor. Everything seems so close and<br />

cluttered. My eyes sting as hot tears stream out. I curl up in a fetal position.<br />


Discoveries<br />

Mackenzie Dougherty<br />

It had become clear to Brigid that Emberon Academy had certainly failed her when she started<br />

going through her History of Emberon 7th Edition textbook to find any reasons as to why<br />

she found a map of the world with more islands than the ones on every book or map anyone<br />

had ever seen. It had occurred to her that it could have been someone drawing their own<br />

fantastical world, but it was too official looking to be a creative endeavor, one that was left in a<br />

textbook held in the largest library in all of Emberon, anyways. Immediately after the confusion<br />

of seeing a different world map, Brigid felt her heart drop to the floor and she was determined<br />

to find out why. Even as a child, she understood when to trust her gut.<br />

It started at Belbroke Library, where twelve-year-old Brigid could be found debating whether<br />

to get A Thousand Years of Torchwood by Dimitri Warren, one of the most famous historians<br />

of Brigid’s time. It was the time of year her parents would start traveling, to sell their enchanted<br />

goodies, and the girl wanted to give them all the information they could ever need on any of<br />

the places they may end up. The only issue was that her father hadn’t finalized the path he<br />

would take due to the at-home trading business being overwhelmingly busy. After a couple<br />

of hours standing in the history section, stomach grumbling and lips dry, she decided to trust<br />

her gut. Just days later, her father announced he would be going directly through Torchwood<br />

halfway through the next journey he and his love were going to be taking. Her instincts had<br />

proven accurate, and from then on, she had learned to trust it.<br />

It had only been half an hour since she started reading her textbook but the tower of history<br />

texts next to her desk seemed to be watching her because there was no way she would be<br />

able to read everything and pay attention to what she was looking for at the same time. History<br />

was the one class, other than potion-making, that she struggled to keep up with as the girl<br />

never had a clue what events were important enough to note down, except for the one event<br />

that everyone knew: The Disappearance. It had been nearly 155 years since all the Gods<br />

vanished, no evidence of ever really existing at all; the only real change people noticed was<br />

that the world seemed filtered in darkness. Struggles didn’t increase, death didn’t claim a<br />

million victims, plants continued thriving, and the suns were still glowing. It really was as if the<br />

worshiped Gods had never existed to begin with. How could a group of beings once thought<br />

to be all powerful completely disappear with only negligible side effects?<br />

Standing up from her emerald desk, trimmed in gold with foreign knick-knacks, Brigid grabbed<br />

a duffle bag out of her closet, throwing the stack of books haunting her into the bag that never<br />

ended. Her best friend, Rain Lewis, had gotten tired of helping carry books back home from<br />

the library so she enchanted the bag to be bottomless, and even added a little weightless<br />

spell to help prevent back problems. Once the last book went into her bag, Brigid stepped<br />

out of her small cottage home and took a long, deep breath, the crisp autumn air tickling her<br />

nose. The lavender glow of the small garden her mother tended was extra bright this time of<br />

the year and it made her crave BurnBerries. Brigid looked over to the house next door, hoping<br />

Rain and her brothers would be able to help her study. The triplets were known to sneak the<br />


tasty fruit out of Brigid’s yard as they were not in season for long, and her father would often<br />

save most of them for trading in other kingdoms.<br />

Stepping onto the porch of the Lewis’s ordinary looking cottage, Brigid glanced at their yard,<br />

but before she could start thinking of the childhood moments she had under the large fiery<br />

Sapping Tree that engulfed their front yard, the door swung open with a boy running out the<br />

door, “Hi Brigid! Bye Brigid!” Dom’s light blonde hair was a blur as he ran down the street, his<br />

favorite orange jacket only half on, Brigid swearing to herself that the boy had only a single<br />

shoe on.<br />

“How long have you been here?” The third triplet Aidan asked as he ran his hand through his<br />

dark green hair.<br />

Brigid turned back to the reddish orange Sapplewood door with the perfectly polished golden<br />

handle she remembered so well, the boy leaning against it like it was a natural position to be<br />

in. “Just got here actually. Can I come in?” She motioned to move past him, her hand shaking<br />

slightly.<br />

“Yeah, I guess.” The boy pushed away from the door and stepped inside the brightly<br />

decorated home with the small shrine of Mrs. Lewis directly ahead. “Dad is at work and<br />

Rain went to visit one of the uncles for the day.” Aidan turned left into the parlor, not<br />

acknowledging his brother's rush out of the house, dropping onto the navy-blue couch with a<br />

loud humph.<br />

“That’s okay, maybe you can help me?” She had never really been around Aidan without one<br />

of the other two triplets around, but she didn’t want to do this alone. For the first time, she<br />

felt like this was a task that had to be done with people she could trust, and Aidan was one of<br />

the most trustworthy people she knew, though he could be quite harsh at times. The grunt of<br />

acknowledgement the boy gave as he watched Brigid sit down on the matching lounge chair<br />

across from him was enough for her to continue. “I found this, and I need help looking into it,”<br />

she said as she reached into her duffle bag, pulling the crumpled map out.<br />

For a few moments, the moody boy studied the map, one hand rubbing his chin thoughtfully,<br />

just as his dad did when going through mail, and the other holding onto the mysterious paper.<br />

“Alright, yeah. What do you want me to do?”<br />

“I need help reading through some history. Maybe there is some sort of clue as to why this<br />

was made? It looks real, right?” Brigid questioned, internally smiling at the fact that the boy<br />

across from her hadn’t questioned why she was obsessing over a simple map. “I mean, it was<br />

at Belbroke Library! That can’t be a coincidence.”<br />

“Well, it has the seal from Belbroke’s official cartographer in the corner. It doesn’t look like the<br />

most recent stamp so we should be able to narrow it down if we know what cartographer did<br />

this. The stamp confirms that this was from 1817 but we don’t know if the same cartographer<br />

did the updated version since they only do updates as new discoveries are made or every<br />


decade or so to keep with the times,” Aidan stated plainly, seeming to take the subject<br />

seriously. “Let me go grab a couple books. You can start looking into the most current maps.<br />

Knowing more about those can help us too.”<br />

The boy stood up and walked out of the parlor, leaving Brigid to her own devices. She didn’t<br />

realize Aidan would be so eager to help her with this mystery, especially since she didn’t<br />

have any other proof than an official seal, but it made her smile. By the time he got back to the<br />

room, Brigid had spread a few books in front of her, and had already started on a book about<br />

Emberon’s maps and how they had changed over the years. It wasn’t all that interesting, so<br />

Brigid found herself glancing often over to the boy helping her, seeing that he was deeply<br />

invested in the book he was reading. She had seen Aidan immersed in historical texts before,<br />

but she never realized how he had always been so good at the subject and how he truly<br />

seemed to enjoy it. Aidan laid across the couch researching what the cartographer may have<br />

done with that map, his brows furrowed and eyes heavily glued onto the book he gripped<br />

tightly.<br />

The book the boy was reading was one Brigid had seen him reading on numerous occasions,<br />

but one memory appeared in her mind. Brigid and the triplets were only 14 years old, and they<br />

decided to have a picnic at the Belbroke summer fields so that they could study and have fun<br />

at the same time. Brigid had been procrastinating her spells and potions homework for over<br />

a week, but she decided to start the work during their study session, not admitting to doing it<br />

because Rain was there and had a perfect score in the class. Every hour, the gang would take<br />

a break and run around the golden fields of flowers before snacking and getting back to the<br />

work they were assigned. At some point in the day, Dom and Rain went to sit under a nearby<br />

tree to do a project they had together, which left Brigid alone with the green-haired boy who<br />

always made her nervous. Brigid was tired so she laid on her back to stare at the colorful sky<br />

when Aidan began reading Emberon Emblems and Sigils aloud. It was the first time the two<br />

had shared a moment together, but at the time, Brigid hadn’t thought of it as anything more<br />

than just friendly bonding and when her friends returned from running through the grass and<br />

flowers she quickly forgot all about it.<br />

For just over an hour, the two studied the map making books quietly, writing down anything<br />

and everything that seemed to stand out, though Brigid hadn’t written down much, not even<br />

filling the first page of her notebook. She knew she should have felt intimidated because<br />

Aiden seemed to have found a lot of information, but the only thing she could think about<br />

was the cramp in her legs and the fact that she always chose to swing her legs over the arm<br />

of the chair even though she knew it would end in an uncomfortable charley-horse. Looking<br />

down at her notebook, the notation that stood out most prominently was a recent addition<br />

made by the official mapmaker for the kingdom showing a sailing port located at the east side<br />

of Emberon, but everyone knew traveling to the east was a dangerous venture and nothing<br />

worth the trouble was out there. Brigid only knew a little about the town of Pandora itself,<br />

but what she did know was the resident population was small, and they were known for their<br />

flamboyant array of colorful cottages with people traveling from all over during the fall season<br />

to see their Spirit Season decorations. Traveling beyond the town in the waters to the east was<br />

not recommended so she did not understand why a port would possibly be in that location.<br />


Unless something was out there.<br />

“Pandora doesn’t have any docks but it would make sense to have a port there if we need to<br />

transport supplies to another island!” the girl exclaimed, a lightbulb above her head. “We need<br />

to go there! That could explain why they were included on this newer map.”<br />

Aidan sat up from the couch and set his book down page first onto the table. “Woah, hold up a<br />

second! Pandora is a day trip away, Brigid. Let’s just take a step back. I think that the Pandora<br />

docks were taken away and then added in the same year newly updated maps were made.<br />

1818, right?”<br />

She took a deep breath, agreeing with the boy across from her. “Yeah, yeah it was 1818. It<br />

showed up in my book as well. What do you mean by ‘taken away?’”<br />

“The docks are in the 1817 map with the new islands, but not in the one made right after in<br />

1818, taking away the island to the east and the port, and then the new map made only a<br />

couple years ago adds it back,” Aidan explained, staying focused on each map the two had<br />

laid out onto the table between them.<br />

“The two maps were made so close together in time. I can’t help but wonder why? And why<br />

was it added back in? Did you find who was running the graphing department back then?”<br />

“Arthur Groves,” he sighed. “Other than his notorious outburst, his work didn’t have anything<br />

significant to it.”<br />

“Isn’t he the man who went crazy and killed his family before being arrested by the royal<br />

guards?” Brigid guessed confidently.<br />

“No, that was someone else. Groves did go crazy but committed far worse crimes. He claimed<br />

to be the most powerful man in the world, killed only his wife while also attempting to<br />

assassinate the king before eventually disappearing,” Aidan corrected, a smirk forming on his<br />

lips. “Close though, it was a woman you were thinking of, and she did that in 1903.”<br />

Brigid laughed nervously as the boy winked, adjusting in her seat. “Right! Right.” The girl<br />

found herself suddenly feeling uncertain about the boy she grew up with, although she wasn’t<br />

embarrassed or uncomfortable sitting in the quiet room with him, even after she mistook one<br />

event for another. Before she could identify exactly when it occurred or what exactly caused<br />

it, Brigid realized she was looking at him with different eyes. Had he always had such bright<br />

green eyes… and are those specks of gold? His whole body appeared to be focused on the<br />

project at hand as he leaned intently towards the textbooks and maps strewn across the table<br />

and it took more than a few moments to notice a fact that should have been obvious: he was<br />

truly interested in this new ‘project’ she had discovered. “Aidan, do you like history?”<br />

‘Uh, yeah, I guess. I’m good at it. Always have been,” He responded quickly, dismissing the<br />

awkward silence from the previous conversation, running his hand through his hair like he had<br />

earlier in the day.<br />


“You little jerk. I thought you hated school, but here you are doing fantastic in a subject like<br />

history. You are a nerd, admit it!” Brigid stood abruptly.<br />

Before responding, Aidan stood up and towered over the girl, smugly stating, “Over my dead<br />

body, woman! I’m not a nerd!”<br />

“You so are!” Brigid put her fists in the air, pretending to threaten him. “Hey mister, please, oh,<br />

please, will you do my history homework for me.” The girl mocked him, lips pouting, eyebrows<br />

wiggling.<br />

“Get help from someone else, Squeaker,” the boy teased, adding the old nickname he had<br />

given her when they met, pretending to stride away.<br />

Brigid grabbed his arm, stopping her friend in his tracks. “You are now involved in this as much<br />

as I am, sir.”<br />

“Volunteering me for this was not part of the plan.”<br />

“I can’t go to Pandora alone. It’s scary there and a damsel like me would never make it alive!”<br />

Brigid feigned swooning and collapsed on the loveseat.<br />

The two laughed for a moment before Aiden took a seat next to her on the sofa. Brigid took<br />

that moment to really look at the person she thought she knew so much about. Had she never<br />

looked at him before? They were supposed to be focused on discovering the truth of the old<br />

maps, but she couldn’t help noticing he had a strong aura to him that held a lot of history, like<br />

an old soul. Brigid knew he took the death of his mother the hardest, as she was the one to<br />

help him through his bouts of anger whenever things changed, and part of Brigid thought he<br />

blamed himself for the woman’s death. Logically, everyone knew that she had died protecting<br />

her family, but emotionally the unanswered questions of the case lingered and took a toll.<br />

As a result, he was typically more standoffish than his siblings and played his cards close<br />

to the chest. It was hard to know him sometimes, yet their friendship felt real. Growing up,<br />

Aiden always had things to say to Brigid, casual chatter between friends but they never really<br />

talked seriously. That was somewhat terrifying to her because her gut feeling was currently<br />

screaming that this boy was meant to help her.<br />

“Are you okay?” the quiet question interrupting her thoughts.<br />

Brigid mentally shook herself back into reality and smiled, “When this mysterious map<br />

business is all figured out, let’s celebrate with dinner at that one place with BurnBerry cobbler,<br />

because I know this is going to be something big. Who knows, maybe we will find a hidden<br />

island that’s remained unexplored or something! All I know is that those maps don’t match,<br />

and the official seal indicates that it isn’t a fake. I found it for a reason, and we just need to<br />

figure out what that reason is. So, let’s get busy because I hear a cobbler calling my name!”<br />

“That, Brigid Dean, sounds like a most delicious plan.”<br />


Fools<br />

Photography<br />

Leah Trieu<br />


Losers of the Universe<br />

Travis Cooper<br />

Fremsie glided to her lab table. Gograhm saw her coming and brushed his hover bag away<br />

from the next perch. Fremsie extended her long, blue talons and landed beside him. Meela<br />

and Krutis arrived a few seconds later.<br />

No one in the lab group was interested in eclipsazoology, especially Gograhm. He referred to<br />

the class as “Losers of the Universe.” All four of them flicked their tails, signaling boredom and<br />

annoyance.<br />

Professor Smelg called for attention. “Today, we will examine an artifact from Earth, a Sigma<br />

Class planet in the Tae Sector. You may remember from the lecture that the surface is mostly<br />

water.”<br />

“Earth is a clot-brained name for a water planet!” Gograhm interjected without raising any of<br />

his appendages.<br />

Fremsie suppressed her amusement, but others did not. Even Professor Smelg laughed.<br />

“Gograhm, you are exactly, absolutely, 100% correct!” Professor Smelg smiled. “Class, remind<br />

me,” she paused dramatically, “What do we study in eclipsazoology?”<br />

“Extinct species, not smart species!” The class recited loudly.<br />

“Whaaat was that?” Professor Smelg held her wing to her ear, pretending not to hear their<br />

response.<br />

“Extinct species, not smart species!” The students amplified their volume, and Professor Smelg<br />

swished her wings back and forth as if she was conducting an orchestra.<br />

“Today Earth is a boiling, desolate world. But the climate was once cooler, and the oceans<br />

teemed with life.” Professor Smelg tapped her control pad and was engulfed by an enormous<br />

projection of Earth.<br />

“We know this because humans, the dominant species, built their largest cities underwater.<br />

New York, Tokyo, London, and Bangkok are some of these ocean metropolises.” The<br />

projection of Earth rotated around Professor Smelg as she spoke.<br />

“Which brings me to the artifact for today’s lab. I am uploading it to the Giggi Boards now.”<br />

A hologram of a thin pole with a folding frame covered in blue and white striped cloth<br />

appeared a few inches above Fremsie’s lab table. The pole narrowed to a dull point on one<br />


end, and it had a curved handle on the other.<br />

“These items called ‘umbrellas’ were recovered from underwater cities on Earth,” Professor<br />

Smelg explained while a video ran on the main screen showing how umbrellas expanded with<br />

the push of a crude release button.<br />

“Each of you will develop a hypothesis about the function of umbrellas. You have 15 minutes.”<br />

At Fremsie’s table, Gograhm and Krutis battled over control of the Giggi Board. Each boy<br />

opened and closed the umbrella hologram repeatedly, then quickly lost interest.<br />

“It doesn’t do much,” Krutis complained.<br />

“Well, I think it may have been a weapon,” Meela said. “It has a pointed end and can be used<br />

as a shield when it’s open.”<br />

“Right, it would be perfect for poking sharks in the eyes,” Fremsie agreed. “Sea predators were<br />

a constant problem in Earth’s underwater cities.”<br />

“Not a chance,” Krutis said. “The construction is too flimsy to be a weapon.”<br />

“Ohhh…I don’t know,” Fremsie teased. “Let’s test it on Gograhm!”<br />

Meela and Krutis vigorously nodded in agreement, while Gograhm laughed and shielded his<br />

eyes.<br />

Fremsie scanned the room. She noticed that the umbrella holograms at every lab table were<br />

identical in structure, but each had a unique fabric covering.<br />

“It could be a fashion accessory,” Fremsie suggested.<br />

“Maybe, it is very decorative,” Meela said. “The shape reminds me of a Rebellian lizard’s throat<br />

sac.”<br />

“That’s it,” Krutis interrupted. “Humans opened umbrellas to signal interest in potential mates.”<br />

Using the Giggi Board, Gograhm positioned the umbrella hologram in front of Fremsie, twirled<br />

it, and opened it with a flourish.<br />

“Hubba, Hubba,” Gograhm flirted.<br />

Fremsie and Meela glared at him in unison.<br />

“Whaaat?! I was just testing Krutis’ idea,” Gograhm said with feigned innocence.<br />


During this exchange, Krutis tinkered with the umbrella hologram, opening and closing it<br />

in rapid succession. “I think I got it,” he said. “Umbrellas were emergency communication<br />

devices used to signal the dots and dashes of Quimsi Code.”<br />

“Boooring!” Gograhm crowed and swung around on his perch. “It is obvious that humans<br />

used umbrellas to….”<br />

At that moment, Professor Smelg called for silence and instructed students to upload their<br />

answers. Fremsie submitted her fashion accessory hypothesis, even though she doubted<br />

it was accurate. The room was quiet until Professor Smelg’s command pad emitted a highpitched<br />

chime, indicating that all students had entered a response.<br />

“If you guessed that humans used umbrellas to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, you<br />

would be correct. Umbrellas are decorative sneeze guards.”<br />

The class erupted into groans.<br />

As Professor Smelg spoke, the grade distribution appeared on the Giggi Boards. Only one<br />

student received full credit.<br />

“Winner winner squidbug dinner!” Gograhm smiled broadly.<br />

The group stared at him.<br />

“Seriously?” Meela asked in disbelief.<br />

Gograhm basked in the collective attention of his lab partners—especially Fremsie. Then, he<br />

made a small, quick nod.<br />

“Apparently, Gograhm thinks like an extinct, not-so-smart species,” Fremsie said.<br />

“Just one of my many talents!” Gograhm laughed and puffed out his breast feathers playfully.<br />


Man in Spotlight<br />

Photography<br />

Damian Cecala<br />


The Golden Gaze<br />

Christian Anderson<br />

He ran harder than he had ever run before. A mad dash for escape. He could still hear their<br />

laughter and see their sneering faces in his mind. He could feel their fists. He closed his eyes,<br />

willing himself to move faster, ignoring the bare branches and twigs that whipped and slapped<br />

his tear-streaked face. The blood from his throbbing nose puddled between his lips, tasting<br />

like molten copper on his tongue.<br />

Snow drifted around him like feathers tossed in an errant breeze. Winter flakes whisked around<br />

the woods, covering trees and bramble, branches, and hillocks. The sun was setting, veiling<br />

the forest floor in a swiftly fading violet light.<br />

Eventually, the taunting cries began to fade. Still, he ran, unable to stop. The forest grew<br />

thicker now, looming over him, suffocating him in an encircling stranglehold of brown and<br />

grey shapes. Even the branches seemed to be closing in around him, clutching for his throat.<br />

A single robin flew across his vision, shooting like an arrow into the sky behind him. Its<br />

twittering song speaks of the freedom found in its feathered wings.<br />

With eyes fixed on the bird, he missed the tangled roots that grew in front of his feet. Pitching<br />

forward, he sprawled in a heap amongst the snow-covered moss of the forest floor. His eyes<br />

burned. His chest ached. Rising to a crouch on crackling twigs, he sniffed, catching sight of<br />

the blood smeared across the slushy, muddy ground from his leaking nose. He looked around,<br />

trying to regain his bearings.<br />

That was when he saw it. There, not three paces from him, in a thicket between two gnarled<br />

and twisted trees, stood the sleek form of a giant, winter wolf. The boy froze, every muscle<br />

and fiber of his being tensing in sudden shock. Mind reeling, he searched for an escape, too<br />

frightened to breathe above a whisper.<br />

The wolf stood alone, far away from any pack. And yet, it bore a strength of its own, every<br />

limb and paw bristling with intense, hidden power. Even as an outcast, it feared nothing and<br />

refused to shy away. It stood tall and proud; a shadow of dappled grey and platinum white,<br />

blending with the snow-covered earth beneath its feet. Its teeth flashed like ivory knives in its<br />

mouth, and its wet, black nose shimmered like a pool of winter night as it sniffed the still air.<br />

Enormous, powerful muscles shifted under the silver steel of its coat, and its fur glistened in<br />

the low light of a vanishing sun.<br />

Gaping in disbelief, the boy waited for a growl or a pounce to consume him. It did not come.<br />

The wolf simply stood in silence, its golden eyes glinting like flaming amber jewels in the low<br />

light. For a moment, the two lonely creatures locked gazes, tied together by some unseen<br />

thread, staring straight into each other’s souls. A kind of wisdom rested beneath the wolf’s<br />


stare; a hidden strength buried below the gleam of those eyes. The boy almost drowned in the<br />

depths of those shimmering pools.<br />

The wolf did not move. It barely seemed to breathe. Not a single sound could be heard. Not a<br />

single branch stirred. Not a chittering insect or chirping bird. Just the boy and the wolf, facing<br />

each other in the glimmering light of a setting sun filtering through the treetops. For a moment,<br />

the entire forest stilled, waiting with bated breath to see what would happen next. Then the<br />

wolf cocked its head, sizing up the boy with one last curious glance, and slowly turned away.<br />

With a lazy shake of its wintry mane, it padded off into the nearby thicket.<br />

After a long moment, the boy finally exhaled, letting the brisk air course through his lungs once<br />

more. He found himself straightening. Goosebumps rippling across his arms, he felt a strange<br />

weightlessness begin to fill him. For a moment, he glanced at where the wolf had been,<br />

marveling at the vision that had graced his path. An encounter that no one would believe. He<br />

remembered the wolf. It’s power. It’s unbridled strength.<br />

In that moment, something stirred within the boy’s soul. Suddenly, he found himself turning.<br />

With careful, deliberate steps he began to walk back the way that he had come. He squared<br />

his shoulders, set his jaw, and stood tall as he made his way back to the clearing where he had<br />

left the taunting boys.<br />

The forest thinned and the trees seemed to part before him; soldiers retreating at his<br />

command. He could hear the laughter of the boys, cackling like crows flooding a carcass. He<br />

could almost make out their jeering faces through the slowly parting branches. He clenched<br />

his fists. Filled with a strange sense of peace, he breathed long and deep, ready for what might<br />

lie ahead. He did not rush. He would not run.<br />

As he reached the forest’s edge, he caught sight of the same robin that he had seen before,<br />

now perched on the branch of a nearby tree. The crimson feathers of its breast gleamed like<br />

painted armor in the golden light of the setting sun. With a sudden spring, the bird took to the<br />

air once more, whistling like a shot through the freedom of the open sky. The boy followed the<br />

bird’s path toward the horizon, turning to face the pack of boys waiting for him in the clearing<br />

ahead. Their insults descended upon him once more, sneering faces closing in around him,<br />

like circling vultures ready to pounce. In that moment, the boy planted himself like a tree, roots<br />

digging deep into the ground. He remembered the eyes of the wolf, gleaming against the<br />

snow. He recalled how it stood like a sentinel of silence, tall and proud amid the winter woods.<br />

It was strange, but in that instant, he no longer felt alone.<br />


How Long Will It Last?<br />

Photography<br />

Melissa Bridwell<br />


Vince Says<br />

River Lethe<br />

Some of my last thoughts in this world will be of things Vince said outside the Circle K. The<br />

first time I saw him, he was holding open a thumb-soiled copy of Moby Dick like a filthy bible<br />

and proselytizing to a congregation of pigeons. “Melville was a mystic,” he says, and they nod<br />

and coo like tent revivalists. “Far more coherent than our beloved Jesus.” Vince never feels<br />

misunderstood. I like that about him.<br />

Vince is always around so you’ve probably seen him but never really seen him. He sometimes<br />

holes up in a concrete culvert near my apartment. I go there sometimes when I can’t sleep and<br />

put my face against the grate where he can’t see me. In the flickering candlelight, scrawling<br />

away in a dollar store notebook or flipping the foxed pages of some arcane novel, he looks like<br />

an old hobo in a sepia tintype.<br />

Since he migrated to my part of town, the city block has become a veritable easter egg hunt for<br />

old novels. So far, I’ve found a first edition of Cormack McCarthy’s The Crossing squirreled up<br />

in the shade structure of a bus stop; an out-of-print hardback of The Prophet crammed down a<br />

stack of cinder blocks, and the poems of a Zen hermit cradled in the palm of an olive tree.<br />

Vince should have his own newspaper column. He can sum up any work of literature in under<br />

three minutes and it’s become a kind of game for me to pitch obscure novels at him and listen<br />

while he cracks’em outta the park. This one time, I pulled out a copy of Night by Elie Wiesel<br />

and he went instantly still. After a while, he put his hand over the book and pressed it into my<br />

chest, and never said a word.<br />

Vince survived Vietnam and afterward held it together long enough to raise a daughter.<br />

When she died in a cancer ward, he fell apart and walked into the desert. Some hikers<br />

found him nearly a month later. He says the light and shadow of this world forever<br />

changed after that. He must have wandered onto a reservation, because the way he<br />

remembers it, sometime after the first week he followed a dying coydog into the shade of<br />

a kiva ruin. The walls were scrawled over with petroglyphs and in his delirium, he ran his<br />

fingers over them and found that he could understand them.<br />

He won’t really say much more about it, but I know he’s been trying to transcribe what he saw there<br />

ever since. Vince says that “writing—real writing—isn’t just about making shit up. It’s about digging<br />

up the bones of an ancient city and reading them like a hunter reads tracks in the woods.”<br />

I don’t really know what that means, but whenever I ask him for advice on my novel he says,<br />

“There’s only one answer to every writing question and it’s the one answer nobody wants. You<br />

can find everything you need to write a Pulitzer in a community college kid, but if that's what<br />

you want to do, don't ever forget that every asshole worth their salt in this world can tell plain<br />

as day who’s put in the work and who hasn’t.”<br />


Vince calls himself a blind scribe employed by a mute universe. “It only speaks in braille,” he<br />

says rubbing his fingertips together. “The textures of a given moment. The contours of time<br />

passing. All these things that can’t be spoken.”<br />

Maybe Vince is right and there’s some twilight language hidden all around us. Maybe as<br />

writers, we must decrypt it.<br />

I guess that led me here.<br />

Mito de Reyezuelo de Cactus<br />

Jessica Novak<br />

Hace años, cuando el aire era fresco y el cielo estaba brillante en la noche, había una chica<br />

que vivía en el pueblo en el desierto de Sonora. Su nombre era Renya. Renya tenía pelo<br />

marrón y ojos oscuros y vivía con su familia extendida. El pueblo estaba tranquilo y la gente<br />

trabajaba en el campo cada día, pero durante feriados o los domingos, había las actividades<br />

en el centro del pueblo con música y comida para las familias. Renya disfrutaba estos días<br />

porque ella le encantaba la música y las canciones. Pero, Renya tenía una voz muy débil y ella<br />

no podía cantar con fuerza. Nadie escuchaba cuando Renya cantaba y ella se sentía triste.<br />

Un día, cuando Renya iba caminando por el sendero a su casa, ella escuchaba una canción en<br />

la distancia. La voz fue muy fuerte y hermosa. Renya le encantaba el sonido y decidía pedir<br />

ayuda. Ella conocía que había una persona en el pueblo quien podía ayudar. Esta persona<br />

fue Señora Zeusa que tenía poder para cambiar vidas. Cuando Renya llegó a la casa, Señora<br />

Zeusa estuvo esperando para ella. “Hola cariño, por favor entra” Señora decía a Renya,<br />

“¿cómo puedo ayudarle?” Renya compartió su situación. Después la conversación, Señora<br />

cerró los ojos y empezó recitar muy tranquila mientras levantó sus manos. La voz de la Señora<br />

crecía muy fuerte y poderosa y de repente, todo estuvo en silencio.<br />

“Cariño, tu deseo es concedido, pero hay existe la posibilidad de que tengas que renunciar a algo<br />

a cambio. No le tengas miedo al cambio.” Renya aceptó estas palabras y se fue. Ella probaba su<br />

voz mientras caminaba a la casa e instantáneamente su voz fue fuerte y hermosa. Alguna persona<br />

en el campo decía “¿Qué es esto?” Renya trataba de responder, pero no podía hablar palabras.<br />

De repente, se dio cuenta de que iba volando y no tenía un cuerp humano, ¡ella era un ave! Ella<br />

encontraba un cactus, el saguaro, y cantaba para el pueblo desde arriba.<br />

Hoy día, el reyezuelo de cactus (cactus wren) es un ave que canta cada día en el desierto de<br />

Sonora con un voz fuerte y hermosa y todas escuchan<br />


translation<br />

The Myth of The Cactus Wren<br />

Jessica Novak<br />

Years ago, when the air was fresh and the night sky brilliant, there lived a girl in a small town<br />

in the Sonoran desert. Her name was Renya. Renya had brown hair and dark eyes and lived<br />

with her extended family. The town was quiet, and the people worked in the fields every day.<br />

However, during holidays or Sundays, there were activities in the town center with music and<br />

food for the families. Renya enjoyed those days because she loved the music and the songs.<br />

However, Renya had a weak voice and could not sing strongly. No one heard Renya when she<br />

sang, and that made her feel sad.<br />

One day, while Renya was walking on the path to her house, she heard a song in the distance.<br />

The voice was strong and beautiful. Renya loved the sound and decided to ask for help. She<br />

knew there was one person in the town who could help her. This person was Señora Zeusa,<br />

and she had the power to change lives. When Renya arrived at the house, Senora Zeusa was<br />

waiting for her. “Hello dear, please come in,” said Senora to Renya, “How can I help you?”<br />

Renya shared her situation. After the conversation, Senora closed her eyes and began to recite<br />

very calmly while raising her hands. Senora’s voice grew stronger and more powerful, and<br />

then suddenly, everything was quiet.<br />

“Darling, your wish has been granted, but there is a possibility that you may have to give up<br />

something in exchange. Do not be afraid of this change.” Renya accepted her words and left.<br />

Renya tried her voice while walking towards her house, and instantly her voice was strong and<br />

beautiful. Another person in the fields said, “What is that?” Renya tried to respond, but she<br />

could not say anything. She realized that she was flying and did not have a human body. She<br />

was a bird! She found a saguaro cactus and sang for the town from the top.<br />

Today, the cactus wren is a bird that sings every day in the Sonoran desert with a strong and<br />

beautiful voice that everyone can hear.<br />


The Skull<br />

Linoleum Print on Paper<br />

Juan Pena<br />


All Have Fallen Short<br />

Ariel Varela Herrera<br />

These thoughts often occur to me.<br />

Did I make the right decision?<br />

Could I have done better?<br />

What could I have done instead?<br />

The guilt haunts me.<br />

But then,<br />

Why should I feel guilty,<br />

If I meant no harm,<br />

If I meant to do what was right.<br />

To this day, I am unsure,<br />

If I was wrong or right.<br />

Nevertheless,<br />

If I was wrong,<br />

I know that all have fallen short.<br />

I have repented.<br />

My past mistakes do not define me.<br />


Postmortem Over Coffee<br />

Gabriel Baez<br />

Sentiment is all I can bring to you now–<br />

The way she would say “I can’t<br />

want this more than you”<br />

like I knew what yearning was<br />

like I knew what yearned<br />

I still don’t remember,<br />

picking through my rivers<br />

long-fingered gray<br />

like the sandhill crane<br />

Looking<br />

I can’t decide if I tried too hard or<br />

not enough.<br />

Now she smiles and tells me I wasn’t<br />

ready then ready<br />

As though retrospectives won’t sting<br />

and memories aren't fire<br />

cover them with dirt<br />

and the flame will crawl no more<br />


Vessel<br />

Photography<br />

Victoria Rivera<br />


Wild Blueberries<br />

Water Color & Ink<br />

Ashley Carmichael<br />


Reconócete Abundante<br />

Fer Cueva<br />

Reconócete abundante<br />

Porque lo eres<br />

Asi como la Madre<br />

Que baila en creación constante<br />

Cada dia<br />

Mientras se derrama por todo su ser<br />

Infinidad ilimitada pura<br />

Y total<br />

Reconócete abundante<br />

Porque lo eres<br />

Cada parte de ti<br />

De tu ser<br />

Cada célula<br />

Emana abundancia pura<br />

Reconócete abundante<br />

Porque lo eres.<br />


176<br />

translation<br />

Recognize yourself abundant<br />

Because you are<br />

Just like the Mother<br />

Who dances in constant creation<br />

Every day<br />

As pure unlimited infinite<br />

Flows over her entire being<br />

Recognize yourself abundant<br />

Because you are<br />

Every part of you<br />

Of your being<br />

Each cell<br />

Emanates pure abundance<br />

Recognize yourself abundant<br />

Because you are.

People Like You<br />

Linnea Davison<br />

people like you<br />

get free passes<br />

from being abused<br />

so you get to yell<br />

and spit in my face<br />

exempt from<br />

expectations of grace<br />

people like you<br />

who wave around your trauma<br />

get your abandonment issues excused<br />

for yesterday, tomorrow, and today<br />

as if that would make<br />

the way you treat me okay<br />

people like you<br />

hurt people like me<br />

by loving so intensely<br />

and betraying so immensely<br />

spinning reality round and round<br />

people like you<br />

sicken me, in my peaceful tune<br />

chasing after<br />

every piece of strength I’ve found<br />

the day before<br />

I went into rehab<br />

I called to calmly state I felt you had been<br />

a bit obtuse<br />

you interrupted me and claimed<br />

this was “emotional abuse”<br />

and there I sat<br />

and let you yell<br />

you did not let me get a word in<br />

I even said sorry<br />

tried to grasp for air<br />

to find the words to wrap my hurt in<br />

did it occur to you<br />

as you yelled and belittled me<br />

in the car<br />

that I was hurt because I loved you<br />

the real you<br />

behind the trauma you think you are<br />

behind every excuse<br />

for what you chose to do<br />

such as where my words lack<br />

such as that you were so abused and<br />

desperate<br />

so you kissed my ex behind my back.<br />

people like you<br />

watch people like me<br />

wash off their drunk and drugged bodies<br />

through eyelids almost dead<br />

people like you<br />

feel people like me<br />

give up time and warm hands freely<br />

to pray beneath their resting head<br />

people like you<br />

thank people like me<br />

for pouring out the vodka<br />

when they do not have the strength to<br />

anymore<br />

but if people like you<br />

cannot choose<br />

to not hurt me when it matters most<br />

then what are we doing this for?<br />

you can gaslight me<br />

and say I don’t<br />

but I forgive and love you<br />

until my being ends.<br />

people like you<br />

and people like me<br />

were simply never meant<br />

to be best friends.<br />


American Alligator, Everglades National Park,Florida<br />

Photography<br />

Joseph Retsky<br />


To The One I Cannot Forget<br />

Gabriela Fragozo<br />

...<br />

The words you say, a simple melody<br />

Evermore to reminisce<br />

You daunt me so heavily<br />

Admitted<br />

I’m conflicted on how to coexist<br />

Animosity, I’m hostile in the midst<br />

Waiting for an epiphany<br />

Been trapped in my head for a while<br />

Captivity without a fair trial<br />

The words “ever since” persist<br />

Convicted to the thought of you like its a felony<br />

Long live your legacy<br />

I miss your presence<br />

No remedy, just an abstract memory<br />

They say ignorance is bliss<br />

Furthermore, I reminisce<br />


Reflections on Y2K<br />

<strong>Digital</strong> Art<br />

Elizabeth Puckett<br />


Visiting<br />

Kathleen Williamson<br />

Come, let us visit the place of future tomato vines<br />

At the Rancho Shangri-la, at Villa Grace<br />

We’ll soon see how large the fruit grew after<br />

First desert monsoons<br />

Let’s see whether<br />

Lightening all around<br />

Through the full night<br />

Has changed dawn sounds<br />

Let us check the flooring for signs<br />

Of leaks in the corrugated tin roof<br />

Over the kitchen<br />

And whether the plastic chairs flew away<br />

Or held their ground<br />

Let’s touch the little hill we call Aphrodite Mountain<br />

And consider whether the Rio de Santa Cruz<br />

Will let us cross<br />

Or whether it is too full with the<br />

Fast streaming mud of life<br />


The Worse The Bad, The Better The Good<br />

<strong>Digital</strong> Photography<br />

Melissa Bridwell<br />


Writer’s Block<br />

Amanda Rigby-Vasquez<br />

I have tried to think of thoughts<br />

Thoughts of thinking about words<br />

However, all I continue to perceive is the void<br />

I want to contribute, to make something resplendent<br />

Nothing but the void fills my festering head<br />

Knitting things together within my thoughts<br />

I cannot tell you how this blank space frustrates me<br />

Could this be a projection<br />

Another way of starting something new<br />

Never thought that this could happen to me… Just kidding<br />

Slivers of ideals continue to pursue me<br />

Least of all my dissatisfaction, within my restless mind<br />

Echoes of something plague my head from within<br />

Endless thoughts continue, but nothing continues to stick<br />

Perhaps I will continue to contribute my blank spaces<br />

Nothing seems to be going my way<br />

Obscure whispers guide my words<br />

Worthless.<br />

183<br />

San Carlos Pelican<br />

<strong>Digital</strong><br />

Perri Hartstein


Fer Cueva<br />

te invito a usar estas palabras<br />

como portal<br />

para regresar al aquí y al ahora<br />

a hacer presencia<br />

hacerte presente<br />

sentir con tu cuerpo entero<br />

lo que está deseando ser sentido<br />

creando el espacio para estar contigo mientras recorres estas líneas<br />

recordando que estamos siendo humanos<br />

y el sentir viene con eso<br />

asi que siente<br />

profundo y real<br />

siente que se siente estar vivo<br />

y quedate ahi el tiempo que quieras<br />

abrazate y abraza a tu humanidad<br />

mmmmm saborealo<br />

saborea tu existencia<br />

que rico el estar vivos<br />

translation<br />


I invite you to use these words<br />

as a portal<br />

to return to the here and the now<br />

to make presence<br />

make yourself present<br />

feel with your whole body<br />

what is wishing to be felt<br />

creating the space to be with you while you go through these lines<br />

remembering that we are being human<br />

and feeling is part of it<br />

so feel<br />

deeply and real<br />

feel what it feels like to be alive<br />

and stay there as long as you want<br />

hug yourself and embrace your humanity<br />

mmmm taste it<br />

savour your existence<br />

how nice it feels to be alive<br />


The Singer in the Night<br />

Eric S Cerda<br />

The singer is dead<br />

her voice lingers<br />

in her head<br />

“Tomorrow is bright”<br />

Mary tries something<br />

“Tomorrow is bright”<br />

Children smile<br />

as they open gifts<br />

New toys<br />

to waste time until adulthood<br />

Their laughter<br />

helps their parents forget<br />

about jobs they hate<br />

stripping them<br />

of everything<br />

No longer<br />

John who loves apples<br />

Instead<br />

John the accountant<br />

Mary dreamer of lover<br />

unbeknownst to John<br />

now gone<br />

replaced with<br />

Mary defense attorney<br />

protector of justice and right<br />

“Tomorrow is bright”<br />

Under the mistletoe<br />

lovers are formed<br />

in stained sheets<br />

of passion and heat<br />

but will only last<br />

a night<br />

or two or more<br />

but don’t tell John<br />

He kisses children<br />

farewell<br />

as he tucks them in bed<br />

he’s not the sharing type<br />

Collide<br />

<strong>Digital</strong><br />

Darine Alzoubaydi<br />


Introverted Tree<br />

Photography<br />

Damian Cecala<br />


Prophecy<br />

Michele Worthington<br />

Climatology foretold like myths ignored<br />

shortages of tadpoles and hollow clouds,<br />

lost embryos and missed migrations,<br />

of arid winds that wither us,<br />

dehydrate our bodies into empty shapes<br />

to hang as carapace on brittle twigs.<br />

And now come true,<br />

one charred snag remains; one dry leaf<br />

dangles like a loose yellow tooth<br />

in the open mouth of disbelief.<br />

Nothing to See Here<br />

Ceramic<br />

Audrey Ball<br />


Aeromancy<br />

Collin Chadwick<br />

Every third Saturday<br />

I visit the crater<br />

where you and I used to meet.<br />

No longer does my spirit<br />

suspended in sunbathed hallways,<br />

no longer do I behold<br />

mythic tales cut from<br />

shapeshifting marble:<br />

Porphyrion felled by an arrow,<br />

the apotheosis of peasant-heroes –<br />

a prolific existence<br />

prophesied in empyreal citadels.<br />

Diffused over<br />

a thousand generations,<br />

relics of our memories<br />

will long outlive this ruin,<br />

our struggles and triumphs<br />

enchanting the lives of those<br />

we will never know.<br />

Recalling memories that may<br />

never have existed at all<br />

makes no difference.<br />

Those ephemeral giants<br />

dwell not in these last<br />

resonant echoes of our youth,<br />

this mundane roadside memorial<br />

resting in jagged glass,<br />

broken chunks of drywall:<br />

scattered expectations<br />

caked in dirt.<br />

Divine inspiration from<br />

Calliope, Thoth, and Seshat<br />

now guides my penstrokes,<br />

dear mentors have<br />

taught me to interpret<br />

the kaleidoscopes of silence<br />

that undulate down<br />

through the ages:<br />

my love for this place<br />

metamorphosed.<br />

Conure<br />

Steel & Wood<br />

William Aaronson-Glaab<br />


Just Jaiden<br />

Brianna Hebert<br />

It’s the middle of the night and Jaiden cannot sleep.<br />

He isn’t normally an insomniac, in fact, most days all he wants to do is sleep. From the moment<br />

he opens his eyes in the morning to when his head hits the pillow, all he wants is to sleep. Life<br />

is easier when he isn’t awake, he isn’t making lunches for his siblings. He isn’t trying to solve<br />

whatever problem is on the dull white whiteboard in his math class. Jaiden isn’t anything<br />

when he’s asleep and he supposes that’s why he likes it so much.<br />

That honest inward look is depressing, plain, and simple. He should yearn to experience life.<br />

He should step out of his house in the humid morning air and greet the world with a familiar<br />

smile. But he doesn’t and he isn’t sure he has a familiar smile anymore.<br />

He can recognize the fake smile, the one he puts on as a brave face. The one he uses to make<br />

sure his siblings can continue on. To let his parents know that being a full-time babysitter<br />

isn’t a burden. It works but it isn’t his smile. Jaiden can’t remember his last genuine smile and<br />

judging by his family’s lack of concern, they’ve never known one.<br />

Some days are particularly bad, the ones where he goes on complete autopilot. Those days<br />

are a haze, he can’t recall a single detail by the time he’s getting ready for bed. He doesn’t<br />

remember the conversations he had with friends. He doesn’t know if he said something<br />

mortifying in the middle of class. The kind of thing that would make any person turn red and<br />

think about it late at night in thirty years. Nothing is there and, on those days, he falls asleep<br />

with no resistance.<br />

Today wasn’t one of those days. Today he got his siblings up as always and got them to school<br />

before he went to school himself. When they got home, they messed around, he watched and<br />

made sure no one broke any bones. He gave a stern talking to Jordan who threw an off-brand<br />

Lego piece at his sister (“No, you can’t throw something at her just because she said you<br />

smelled. In fact, she was right, go take a shower.”). He made a giant thing of pasta, fed them,<br />

and greeted his parents when they got home. That’s it, that’s pretty much all that happened.<br />

It's technically a good day and there’s no reason he should be sitting on the old wooden steps<br />

outside his home in the middle of the night.<br />

Yet, there he is. Staring at the swaying trees, desperately trying to ignore the splinters poking<br />

holes into his legs. They really should get new ones; these can’t be safe. How much are new<br />

steps going these days? Unfortunately, he doesn’t think they could go over fifty dollars if they<br />

want to pay the water bill this month.<br />

Should worrying about a water bill even be in a sixteen-year-olds mind? No, probably not. His<br />

friends don’t seem to think about it but of course, he can’t escape it. Jaiden isn’t sure how<br />


common his life is but he’s pretty sure it isn’t normal.<br />

He can look at his friends and see their personalities and styles. He can see that they’re the closest<br />

to themselves they can be at this age. Jaiden on the other hand, he’s in a t-shirt he got for a dollar<br />

at a thrift store two years back. The color is no longer discernable due to its use. There’s a shoddy<br />

stitch job right at the armpit because fixing his clothes is a lot better than having to thrift new ones.<br />

He actually doesn’t mind thrifting, but he can’t do it as often as he should.<br />

Jaiden doesn’t know who he is, or what his personality is. Jack is fourteen, meaning he doesn’t<br />

need Jaiden as much anymore. That should be a relief but it isn’t because now Jaiden realizes<br />

that if he stays like this, all of his siblings will have grown up and he’d still be here. Nothing to<br />

show, no ambition, just Jaiden.<br />

But he can’t leave. His parents work long hours to pay for their kids and they can’t afford a<br />

babysitter. Jaiden’s that person and he isn’t much beyond that. Maybe that’s what’s keeping<br />

him up, maybe it’s finally sinking in how awful his lot is right now.<br />

He hears the door open but doesn’t check to see who it is. They sit next to him, utterly silent.<br />

That’s how Jaiden knows it’s Jack. The second of the three J names before his parents gave<br />

up on trying to come up with J names with the fourth kid. Jack is quiet but not like Jaiden<br />

is. Jaiden isn’t sure if his quietness is who he is or if it’s just a byproduct of the relentless,<br />

suffocating, numbness. Jack is quiet because that’s who he is.<br />

He’s been like that for as long as Jaiden can remember. No one else in their family is quite as<br />

quiet. Jaiden hasn’t looked at his brother yet but he can feel that he wants to talk. In being<br />

a pseudo-parent to his siblings, Jaiden is weirdly attuned to them. He almost always knows<br />

exactly what they need or wants before they even ask him.<br />

“What’s up?” Jaiden eventually asks when the breeze stopped and he could no longer mask<br />

the silence with rustling leaves.<br />

“You’re not in bed,” Jack said in his standard matter-of-fact tone. It tells Jaiden nothing but he<br />

understands it all the same.<br />

“Couldn’t sleep.” Jaiden shrugged like it was no big deal.<br />

“I don’t think the others are going to sleep if you’re not in there.” Jack is pulling on the<br />

drawstring of his hoodie. Attempting to even it with the other, he scowls when he realizes he<br />

pulled a bit too far.<br />

Jaiden shares a room with three of his brothers, he’s been out of the room before and they<br />

were fine. “Others?”<br />

Jack nods still fixated on his hoodie. Jack is fourteen, he probably thinks it’s stupid that he’s<br />

kept up because Jaiden isn’t there. Jaiden doesn’t think it’s stupid but telling him that would<br />


probably end with him scoffing and saying that’s not what it’s about.<br />

Jack groans when the drawstring on the left still isn’t correct. He’s so frustrated that he just<br />

yanks hard on one end, nearly making the other end disappear. Jaiden shifts so he’s facing<br />

Jack’s chest. He adjusts the drawstrings till they’re even. He does it without thinking, some<br />

instinct kicking in without his knowledge.<br />

“Thanks,” Jack mumbles, “I could’ve gotten it myself though.”<br />

“Yeah, sure,” Jaiden said softly as he readjusts to his original position. “Do you have anything<br />

else you want to say?”<br />

“I was thinking,” Jack stops. He looks like he’s debating on saying what he was about to.<br />

“That maybe I could help out a bit you know?”<br />

Jaiden doesn’t say anything in response. He isn’t sure what he could say in this instance.<br />

“I mean,” Jack tries to rectify and Jaiden is pretty sure this is the most he’s heard his brother<br />

talk in the last week. “You’re no longer the only one.”<br />

“Oh, that’s…thank you.” Jaiden supplies lamely, it’s a pathetic response.<br />

All things considered, he should be happy someone wants to help him out. That would solve<br />

everything he’d just been waxing poetic about. At least, he hoped it would. It should relieve<br />

him of this pressing weight on his chest. The kind that sits there, that you both forget and can’t<br />

ignore. Yet, all it did was make Jaiden sag down a bit further.<br />

That’s the problem, isn’t it? He wanted the freedom to find himself but that means losing<br />

everything he currently is. He may not know if his normal is who he is but at least he’s doing<br />

something. Facing the reality of his wishes doesn’t excite him, it makes him retreat. Forces him<br />

to accept his current reality because the other option is unknown and that’s terrifying.<br />

He doesn’t have the bravery to do what he wants when the opportunity presents itself. He<br />

doesn’t have anything really. He doesn’t have some specific talent, he’s not passionate about<br />

anything. He’s just Jaiden and that’s the only label he’s ever going to have.<br />

He feels the tears but forces them back, refusing to let Jack see him break at the mere mention<br />

of help. Instead, he said, “I’ll let you know if I need help, okay?”<br />

Jaiden can feel Jack’s stare. He focuses on Jack’s jacket instead, there’s a piece of lint on it.<br />

He absentmindedly picks it off and brushes his shoulder for good measure. Jack doesn’t say<br />

anything and Jaiden is selfishly grateful that his brother hardly ever knows what to say.<br />

“You’re never going to ask for it are you?”<br />

Well, he didn’t really need to call him out on it. Jaiden was just giving him praise about not<br />


making things difficult.<br />

Jaiden rolls his eyes, hoping to conceal his fear. “Do you really have so little faith, ole<br />

brother of mine?”<br />

Jack has shifted from looking disappointed to utterly perplexed. “What?”<br />

“My own brother,” Jaiden sighed in the most dramatic fashion he could muster. “What has the<br />

world come to?”<br />

“Jaiden, what are you-.”<br />

Jaiden flops backward the back of his hand hitting his forehead. The porch was not conducive<br />

to dramatic back flops. It hurts just a little but he keeps up the bit anyway. “Oh, I’m dead.<br />

Deceased. Put it on my gravestone, died from lack of faith.”<br />

“That…is a really dumb thing to put on your gravestone.”<br />

“No, it’s mysterious. People will be like, ‘Was he a fairy?’ It'll be great.”<br />

Jack just stares at him. Eventually, he sighs. “When you’re done with whatever it is you’re<br />

trying to do, come inside.”<br />

It’s not hard to tell that Jack wasn’t amused by Jaiden’s diversion. If anything, he’s genuinely<br />

annoyed that he turned a well-meaning conversation into a joke. Jaiden would feel guilty if he<br />

wasn’t so relieved that it worked.<br />

Jaiden continues to just lay there on the porch. Staring at the chipping paint and notices that<br />

one of the beams is sagging. There’s a metaphor in there, one beam so burdened that it’s no<br />

longer working. But the others are fine and maybe that’s because the beam that’s burdened is<br />

taking the brunt of it.<br />

Is that a metaphor? He’s right on the precipice of failing his English class so he has no idea.<br />

He thinks about Jack’s offer a bit. He’s not at a place where he can seriously consider<br />

something so monumental. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever be. If that’s the case, Jaiden will have<br />

a long road ahead. Who knows if he’ll make it. He doesn’t have it in him to be hopeful.<br />

All he knows is that it can’t change, it won’t change. Even if he accepted the help, he’ll still be<br />

in charge of everything. He’ll just have to be okay with being Jaiden, the oldest brother, the<br />

one who takes care of everyone.<br />

And he’s certain that’s all he’ll ever be.<br />


To my Honeypot<br />

Amanda Rigby-Vasquez<br />

You were warm as soon as I touched you<br />

the way you felt in my hand, elegant.<br />

When you<br />

Slid<br />

Through<br />

my fingers,<br />

you were so hot,<br />

slick,<br />

very, very<br />

wet.<br />

So many ways to bring you to the precipice,<br />

But I wait…<br />

until you beg me for release<br />

Just to edge you<br />

off…<br />

Slowly<br />

Bringing you…<br />

base.<br />

Back down to the<br />


Leaves<br />

Watercolor<br />

Adriana Prado<br />


Two Lazy Susans<br />

Wood Work<br />

Arthur Lurvey<br />

To Hear<br />

Brett Wynn<br />

Music doesn’t sound the same<br />

Lyrics have gotten louder<br />

Melodies are smoother<br />

Meanings have more emotion<br />

A river of sounds flows in through one ear and out the other<br />

Floods my brain with notions<br />

There is an ocean of nonsense that takes over my actions<br />

Things I do make no sense<br />

There is coral growing in my ears<br />

I can’t hear you feed me lies<br />

I have changed and the current continues to crash along the shoreline of my brain<br />


Scattered Thoughts Regarding Me and a Man<br />

Kristen Raymond<br />

Sometimes it's easier to ignore<br />

The atmospheric shift when he walks in a room<br />

The way my mind stills when he meets my eye<br />

The weight lifting in my chest when he hugs me<br />

The butterflies in my stomach when he smiles<br />

I hold in my heart unconditionally boundless love for the people that connect us, the people<br />

that brought me to him but for him it's...something else<br />

I can look every man that connects us in the eye and tell them I love them with all my heart<br />

because both they and I know it's platonic,<br />

Familial, the love for the brothers, the team that brought me to life and there once was a time<br />

this man for whom these scattered thoughts belong belonged in this category.<br />

He makes me stronger and braver and every day motivates me to become my truest self and<br />

I love him.<br />

For that, I do, the way I love the people that connect us.<br />

But try as I might sometimes I just can't ignore<br />

The shape of his smile<br />

The sound of his laugh<br />

The pattern of his breath<br />

Or the way he…looks in a fitted rashguard<br />

Sometimes I can't ignore that this man is a masterpiece of his own design.<br />

Fine marble, carved by the tools of the gods.<br />

A true fresco painted by the finest brushes by the steadiest of hands,<br />

a tapestry, woven of the finest threads.<br />

Sometimes I just can't ignore how badly I want to reach out and examine this masterpiece of a<br />

man, to study every curve, to learn every textured brush stroke, to memorize every stitch<br />

But try as I might, neither can I ignore the people that connect us, the people that brought me<br />

to him, nor can I forget that wanting him is a betrayal.<br />

Like I’d somehow be breaking some unspoken rule about not getting involved with a<br />

teammate. Maybe I already am, just wanting him is already so treacherous…<br />


To want him isn't just a betrayal to the people that connect us, it's a betrayal to our very<br />

friendship.<br />

I'm falling for someone I can't have and we are the very reason I can't have him.<br />

I can’t break this unspoken rule.<br />

So sometimes it's easier to ignore<br />

That sometimes I catch myself staring<br />

That he makes my heart skips beats<br />

That I want him to want me<br />

That I'm stuck pining to break my own rule<br />

Mental Disarray<br />

Paper & Pencil<br />

Darine Alzoubaydi<br />


Boundless<br />

Natalie Johnson<br />

The cold nights waiting for the sunshine,<br />

Sleeping under a blanket of stars.<br />

I feel it in my soul down to the core,<br />

Waiting to come alive.<br />

Just like the cracking earth,<br />

And turning sea<br />

we never stay the same.<br />

You can pray to the god you don’t see,<br />

Or fear the devil beneath your feet.<br />

As the universe goes on for infinity,<br />

I look up,<br />

And know that’s what happens to me.<br />

Self-Portrait<br />

Photography<br />

Abby Maki<br />

She Waits<br />

By Goldfish<br />

Every day she ties a new satin ribbon around the young evergreen, hoping the bright yellow<br />

reflection will catch his eyes.<br />

Every evening she lights a tall slender candle in the window, reminding her of the pine forest<br />

where they first met.<br />

Every hour she stands in front of the mirror, touching up her overdrawn matte red lips.<br />

Every minute she sits patiently on the soft brown leather club chair, thumbing through the<br />

latest<br />

Readers Digest, waiting for the bells on the telephone to come to life.<br />

Every moment she waits.<br />


Academic Essay<br />



Marriah Nissen<br />

Students learn language through many different tools, and while some stick, others<br />

never seem to aid in the learning process. One tool that allows for the knowledge to become<br />

more thoroughly processed in a student’s mind is the use of music. In many ways, teaching<br />

music is similar to teaching a foreign language through the way it engages the student’s mind<br />

in both learning ability and style. Foreign languages and music deal with sound and how it<br />

should properly be produced. In this paper, I will show that music is a useful tool that allows for<br />

a student to not only process the information, but also increases the ability for this information<br />

to remain in the student’s memory.<br />

As I stated above, teaching music and a foreign language are very similar. Gerald S.<br />

Giauque, in his essay “Foreign Language Acquisition and the Study of Music,” puts it simply,<br />

“That since both music and foreign languages deal with sounds, making the transfer from<br />

one discipline to the other is fairly easy” (Giauque 2). He is right. Music and language do<br />

share several features. First, we see that both stem from the processing of sounds. Next,<br />

we see that both are used by their authors/speakers to convey a message whose effect is<br />

mainly emotional. They also both have intrinsic features in common, such as pitch, volume,<br />

prominence, stress, tone, rhythm, and pauses. Another shared feature is that we learn both of<br />

them through continued exposure. Just like music, a foreign language is almost impossible to<br />

learn without having a high level of contact with it in the classroom.<br />

Giauque has a very simple way of comparing how both are approached similarly. Students<br />

come to class and they go through what he calls the “warming-up” period. In a music<br />

classroom, the warming up period requires getting out the instruments and tuning them so<br />

they are ready to play correctly when the time comes. This idea is very similar in a foreign<br />

language environment. The students come in and right away the instructor starts off with a<br />

revision or a “warm-up.” The instructor usually does not allow for a time in which the students<br />

sit around and speak in English. They become disciplined to know that, once they enter the<br />

door of the foreign language classroom, they should be ready to speak the target language.<br />

Once the students have had this revision time, they are more comfortable with continuing with<br />

the rest of the class period. “The reason for this is that the student must CONSCIOUSLY turn<br />

his mind to the foreign language and begin to concentrate on the language, if he is to acquire<br />

it and begin to think in it, if he is to become fluent” (Giauque 3). Playing music and speaking a<br />

foreign language require a conscious effort to be productive with the information the student<br />

is given. The idea is to exclude English from the classroom, so this requires an effort on the<br />

part of the student along with concentration and will. With music, the student must be ready<br />

to play, and this means leaving everything that is disruptive to the learning process outside<br />

the classroom and focusing in on the instruments and sheet music before them. The student<br />

must decide with conviction that he will communicate through the target language, even if the<br />

language is music.<br />


Another similarity between music and a foreign language is the fact that music is filled<br />

with patterns, and language needs to follow similar kinds of patterns as well. This is where<br />

music merges with language to form a specific tool of teaching that will be productive for<br />

the student. In a foreign language classroom, the units and lessons are written and formed<br />

in order for the students to learn from a pattern. For example, many textbooks in French will<br />

have a lesson based on what people like to do in their free time, and the next lesson will be<br />

over the passé composé and question words. Following this, the student will learn how to ask<br />

things about what someone did last weekend or how they spent the day yesterday. The units<br />

must follow a specific order or else the student will have a very hard time following a disjointed<br />

text and an exam in the end, which will not seem contextualized. Interestingly enough, music<br />

can help stabilize language learning and make the pattern more concrete. When do we start<br />

knitting together music and language in students’ lives, so in the end they are able to pull a<br />

language together aided by their knowledge of music?<br />

Teaching language and music together starts very early in a child’s life, often through simple<br />

songs. Music usually evokes a memory of some sort. Many of us can relate to a time in our<br />

lives through a particular song. I know in my own personal history that music has played an<br />

important role in learning. When I was in grade school, every year our small town put on a<br />

Christmas Swedish festival, and the grade school students had to learn not only traditional<br />

Swedish songs, but also the dances to accompany them. I can still remember how to sing<br />

Silent Night in Swedish to this day. It is not only the words I remember, but also things such<br />

as rhythm, pitch and tone of the song that match those Swedish words. Alan R. James in his<br />

article, “When I Listen to Music,” explains this in a helpful way, “The more rhythms a child<br />

hears and moves to, the more patterns he will be able to recognize” (37). The same can be<br />

applied to learning a foreign language. The more the target language is approached with a<br />

strong pattern, a strong rhythm, the more the student will be able to recognize the vocabulary<br />

and the correct sentence construction. And marrying music to language can solidify that<br />

memory even more.<br />

Music might be good at establishing patterns, but it also works well at establishing<br />

other important elements. For young children, music offers a safety net with their instructors.<br />

“Music helps establish a comfortable feeling in the learning environment by allowing the<br />

teacher to share something with kids” (James 36). I believe that this can also translate to the<br />

college classroom. One thing I have observed in my own classroom is the openness students<br />

feel when they hear music in the background. At the beginning of the semester, the students<br />

come in not knowing one another and feeling insecure because they are in a foreign language<br />

setting. They know they will have to eventually speak in this new language. Even in English<br />

this can be hard for many students. With the background music playing, that empty sound of<br />

nothingness is nonexistent when someone does not want to speak up. What the music does<br />

is provide the means for a bonding experience to occur. The students soon learn to be at ease<br />

with one another, thus breaking the nervous tension. At a later point in the semester, I found<br />

my students more willing to speak and less embarrassed, because they had that early on “icebreaking”<br />

experience with the music.<br />

Childhood development with language in the classroom not only establishes a<br />

comfortable feeling within the environment where the children are going to learn, but it also<br />


provides a natural way of learning language. D. Holdaway in The Foundations of Literacy<br />

puts it this way, “Chant, song, dance, and linguistic rituals are among the most powerful forms<br />

of human learnings” (57-58). Holdaway continues with describing music and movement as,<br />

“primitively satisfying, deeply memorable, and globally meaningful. Much of its power comes<br />

from the sense of security generated by repetition, familiarity, and universality” (57-58). These<br />

are the keys to learning any type of music or foreign language: repetition, familiarity, and<br />

universality. The children and students need to feel comfortable with what they are learning,<br />

and in order to accomplish this, the teacher needs to have ways of lowering the affective filter<br />

in the classroom. With the frequent use of music, this allows for children and students to add<br />

to their understanding of the rhythm of language in a joyful, natural way.<br />

When it comes to familiarity, students need to be encouraged to practice singing a new<br />

song they have just learned, until they know it well. Once the students know the words, they<br />

are comfortable with the rhythm of the song and are able to associate the words, especially if<br />

they are given recall exercises. One commonly used activity of this in any classroom is the fill in<br />

the blank activity. Students familiarize themselves with a song and eventually they are able to<br />

fill in the gaps of missing information. Because they learn the words to the rhythm and melody<br />

of a song, the students become more comfortable in learning to recognize the written words.<br />

The songs themselves give a structure and a pronunciation that will forever be burned in the<br />

mind of a learner. The end result shows that reading tends to come more naturally to students<br />

who learn to sing the words first (James 36).<br />

Music has become a great tool in teaching a foreign language, one that opens the minds<br />

of the students to be creative. One way of using music to teach that has become successful<br />

is what I have mentioned before with playing background music in the classroom. Along<br />

with generating a comfortable environment, the use of background music also stimulates<br />

the minds of the learners, allowing for creativity to flow. Carmen Fonseca Mora mentions<br />

an example of this stimulating exercise in her journal article “Foreign Language Acquisition<br />

and Melody Singing.” She explains that during this process an interaction of faculties build<br />

up our understanding of our environment. This had been previously confirmed during an<br />

experiment of Ray Jackendoff in 1992 in his book Languages of the Mind: Essays on Mental<br />

Representations:<br />

The participants were given a picture and asked to tell a story related to it that<br />

included a beginning, a climax, and an ending. They could choose whether to<br />

speak in Spanish or English. Before narrating the same story for a second time, they relaxed<br />

by listening for three minutes to quiet instrumental music that included water sounds and<br />

birdsong. They were then asked to repeat the same story they had told some moments ago.<br />

The background music was not switched off while they were speaking, although the volume<br />

was turned down. During the second narration they started verbalizing information that had<br />

not been coded visually, but rather proceeded from the musical input. They included things<br />

that were not in the original picture and, taking the position of an omniscient narrator, they<br />

talked about the characters’ feelings. In this way, visual, auditory-musical, and emotional<br />

information was encoded linguistically (147-148).<br />


This experiment of Jackendoff’s and Mora’s previous explanation shows the universality of<br />

which Holdaway speaks when students’ memories are stimulated by music. They end up<br />

being more creative than what was first expected. Everything that the learner was hearing and<br />

mentally forming came out linguistically, as in Jackendoff’s experiment with the use of both<br />

English and Spanish. The music helps encode the language in the learners’ minds by allowing<br />

them to take their imagination farther and make them realize they have so much more stored in<br />

their brain then they realize.<br />

Music is indeed very much linked to the way a student learns language. In order for<br />

the students to learn something correctly, the instructor must take an active interest in how<br />

the students are learning and what approaches are really working. “While many lay people<br />

might think that the most important aspect of music is to play the notes correctly, the best<br />

music teachers take a strong interest in laying in their students’ minds a solid foundation of<br />

the concept of rhythm” (Giauque 5). To learn a foreign language, the students need to have<br />

a strong pattern to follow, and they need to learn the “rhythm” of speech, sentence structure,<br />

and vocabulary. The best way for the student to learn is if all the components are broken<br />

down for them in a simple style (Giauque 4). By creating comfortable learning environments<br />

that allow creativity to flow and interconnect with language, instructors offer a safe haven<br />

for students to develop new language skills. If we expect students to learn, we the educators<br />

need to introduce activities and exercises that will allow for the information to be burned into<br />

their memory. Understanding how music and language work in tandem is one key used to<br />

unlock this door to learning.<br />


Giauque, Gerald S. “Foreign Language Acquisition and the Study of Music.” U.S.<br />

Arizona (October 1985) 9.<br />

Holdaway, D. The Foundations of Literacy. Sydney, NSW: Ashton Scholastic (1979).<br />

Huffine, Karen, and DiAnn Ellis. “Stories That Sing: Stimulating Oral Language in<br />

Young Children.” U.S. California (February 1979) 18.<br />

Jackendoff, Ray Languages of the Mind: Essays on Mental Representations. Cambridge,<br />

Mass: MIT Press. 1992.<br />

James, Alan Russell. “When I Listen to Music.” Young Children 55.3 (May 2000) 36-7.<br />

Mora, Carmen Fonseca. “Foreign Language Acquisition and Melody Singing.” ELT<br />

Journal 54.2 (April 2000) 147-60.<br />



Kathleen Williamson<br />

Snow crystals land on my eager tongue<br />

the moon melts in the morning sky<br />

daisies drying freezing<br />

where only days ago<br />

a bumblebee waved her goodbye<br />

curled inside petals<br />

until the sun rose again<br />

warming and freeing her<br />

to fly to her last resting place<br />

before the Canadian winter.<br />

Here in this place<br />

where squirrels rule<br />

my mind races to tomorrow<br />

while the pines belong to now<br />

and furry tails.<br />

A white hair falls,<br />

shocking as it lands on my blue shawl.<br />



Gavel<br />

Steel & Wood<br />

William Aaronson-Glaab<br />

Green<br />

Anonymous<br />

She said try to be the color green. How can someone be a color that doesn’t have eyes,<br />

senses, emotions, and no face? Can you feel green?<br />

What would green feel like? Like a green thing? Soft and cutting like grass, strong and clear<br />

like emerald, firm like this couch. Would it feel like the opposite of red– of hot, sticky, radiating?<br />

No, I don’t think so.<br />

I think of death every day, my death, others’ death, everyone’s death. Of the infinite<br />

possibilities of what happens after. One way in which I imagine after-death,<br />

Being above you, takes your hand, lifts you,<br />

leading you somewhere.<br />

While they take you, they show you, they tell you every secret, every question–<br />

I’ll ask what green feels like.<br />


Peace<br />

Rebecca Lowe<br />

You’ll see a land<br />

Of peace and of silence<br />

Where no one can meet<br />

The darkness or violence<br />

You’ve seen it before<br />

In very small measures<br />

In smiles of friends<br />

And joy that you treasure<br />

You’ll take a deep breath<br />

To breathe this fresh air<br />

Of comfort and quiet<br />

Nothing compares<br />

There’s constant peace<br />

In the cold light<br />

Gentle and sweet<br />

Found at twilight<br />

Here in this world<br />

It’s not the same<br />

That feeling of peace<br />

That no one can name<br />

Grown-ups are dancing<br />

Children are playing<br />

The songbirds are singing<br />

The branches are swaying<br />

Music is playing<br />

Cheerful and bright<br />

Playing through morning<br />

And deep through the night<br />

You’ll see a smile<br />

On everyone’s face<br />

As they quietly stroll<br />

Throughout this calm place<br />

Your time here is brief<br />

To stay is forbidden<br />

Cherish these moments<br />

Accept what is given<br />

Now time to get up<br />

And go back to work<br />

So look and you’ll see<br />

This dream here on earth<br />

206<br />

Sunrise on The Red Hills<br />

Photography<br />

Ann Gonzalez

Snail<br />

Colored Pencils on Paper<br />

Juan Pena<br />

Stargazing with You<br />

Maya Schenne<br />

I wonder what you’re doing as I<br />

lay here thinking…<br />

Is it night where you are?<br />

It seems to always be night here.<br />

Have you missed me?<br />

I can’t begin to describe how<br />

I’ve missed you,<br />

it brings me to tears.<br />

I wish you could be here with me.<br />

It’s selfish, I know,<br />

to wish you away from<br />

your life and your friends.<br />

Have you seen the stars tonight?<br />

Well, I guess you wouldn’t bother.<br />

I will watch them for the both of us,<br />

and imagine you here with me.<br />


Found in Death<br />

Sedona Blanar<br />

Looking out over lime green terraced rice fields,<br />

we continue on foot up a steep, rocky course,<br />

a breezy spot, overlooking a valley.<br />

I approached this moment with trepidation;<br />

the man who knows all the answers—<br />

“You are lucky you found me,<br />

there is no one else who knows”<br />

The smell is musty, like a bunch of<br />

blankets put away wet and stored<br />

for several years. Relaxed and fit.<br />

His companions in the crypt.<br />

Halloween skeletons too will prosper;<br />

they are not just individuals—<br />

“Here God created man in heaven, and woman from Earth”<br />

On a personal level, I take some comfort in the tradition.<br />

Proud and excited;<br />

believe the important thing<br />

is definitely odd, but<br />

not unpleasant or gruesome.<br />


The Shifting Tide: Weathering Change<br />

Ethan Bauschka<br />

When you think of a normal life, what do you imagine? The dictionary defines normalcy<br />

as a state of being usual, expected, or typical. Maybe to some, it is the consistency in the<br />

movements, and the security of all we’ve come to know and expect.<br />

Besides the rise and fall of the setting sun, there is nothing so certain. Life is crazy. The world<br />

changes beyond our control, and we find ourselves off our desired path. To me, this has<br />

always been a struggle; a back-and forth-I have wrestled with.<br />

I’ve been thinking of that subject lately, especially after all that has happened in recent years–<br />

the unrest, political conflicts, diseases, and chaos. These things, common in almost every<br />

generation, crashed upon me like thundering waves. As one who has always wanted that<br />

thing, a way to find inner peace, it was hard to weather the storm when the world I had once<br />

been so familiar with had changed.<br />

I’m a young guy, in his early twenties. For most of my life, I tried to find a steady path. However,<br />

as someone who has dealt with a mood disorder since I was young, I’ve always been<br />

uncomfortably aware of my shaky inner balance. My control of myself and the things I can<br />

change gave me a sense of power in small doses. It was relaxing to have consistency.<br />

Yet, for all it was worth, I had my ups and downs before the pandemic. I had a hard time<br />

being myself because I did not know who that was. With all that focus on self-control and<br />

maintaining some semblance of inner peace, I still had no idea what I liked or wanted in life.<br />

Then came the storm that changed my life. I should have done better during that time,<br />

especially as someone so aware of themself. But hindsight is twenty-twenty, and we all grow in<br />

our own time.<br />

I certainly did during these three long years.<br />

>>><br />

I remember the way this strange new disease spread across the globe like wildfire. It was scary,<br />

but when you just can’t see those effects straight on, it is easy to see past all that is happening<br />

around you. We were locked down momentarily, and I went to my fast food job at Little<br />

Caesar’s as a mandatory worker. I watched the clock move as no one came to my store. Few<br />

cars passed, and fewer people came. Those early days were painfully slow.<br />

At first, I was not sure how to respond. My family has a history of being immunocompromised,<br />

so I made sure to be absolutely safe. I took precautions and never felt at ease. When I was<br />

alone with my family, I thought I could take the time to work on things I have been putting off.<br />


I tried to exercise, eat right, and get out of my head, but those days went by and led to another<br />

and another. It became easy to forget about myself and get lost. Whole weeks came and went<br />

and I realized I was clinging to unhealthy habits to find false relief. It was the sugar and long<br />

rests that kept me going. It was the phone and the tv that kept me company.<br />

I’ve always been an introverted person, who enjoyed staying inside with friends, rather than<br />

going out. I thought it wouldn’t affect me as much as it did, but life is surprisingly lonely when<br />

no other outlets exist.<br />

That strange numbness I felt as someone who struggled with depression since I was young<br />

grew like a black hole. The empty, gnawing feeling consumed me a day at a time. I should<br />

have stuck to what normally made me happy, but how could I have?<br />

I was trapped, in a way.<br />

>>><br />

Just before the pandemic that stopped the world, I was at my wit’s end. I had no idea what I<br />

dreamed of or what brought me simple joy. I stopped going to school for a year to figure out<br />

my future– something I had always struggled to plan– because I didn’t know what I wanted. I<br />

felt like I was going nowhere fast. The steps toward this person I wanted to be were becoming<br />

slower the closer I got. When I talked about this with loved ones, I would describe it as a pit I<br />

could never escape. I dreamed of a great emptiness consuming me.<br />

Nothing had a purpose. I went through the motions like a puppet. I did the routine so I had a<br />

place to go that was not inside. The less time I spend with myself, the better. I became aware<br />

that I did not like who I was. I asked myself who was this person I strove to be? Why couldn’t I<br />

be him after all those years of dreaming of change?<br />

>>><br />

So, then after great insistence from loved ones, I tried something new to break the cycle. I was<br />

always working on stories in my mind, so they suggested I get one on paper. They gave me a<br />

prompt and took the time to read my work. After a few pages, I found writing to be therapeutic.<br />

I continued to have something to do besides lay in bed. I finished a fantasy book. It gave me<br />

purpose and showed me what I wanted during that year. Nothing ever felt better than that small<br />

light to guide me. Looking back, it really is funny how it was such a simple answer that I missed.<br />

Writing was a start.<br />

>>><br />

Finally, I quit my Little Caesar’s job and moved on to a different field. I found out I was a<br />

surprisingly good manager and worker. I knew I hated food and any customer service (as do<br />


most people, whom I cannot blame). I was good at managing time and moving forward in<br />

stressful situations.<br />

I took that knowledge and chose something completely different as I went back to college. I<br />

went to work at a school as an aide and worked with kids. Everyone said I was good. I think,<br />

looking back, it was nice that I was able to relate to all those people who needed help.<br />

>>><br />

I took steps once more, shedding the weights I had used to protect myself. I grew aware of<br />

my failings and used them as a spark, rather than a weight that dragged me down. Life was<br />

getting back to normal, I thought. People were out again, and I was going forward. I returned<br />

to school with writing in mind and pursued it wholeheartedly.<br />

In the end, though, there was that baggage; those bad habits I developed during that time<br />

that followed me. Another slump. I was still stuck with my unhealthy eating, stress, and mental<br />

health habits. It was painful being trapped after all that happened.<br />

Oddly enough, it was Covid– the thing that started it– that saved me. I tested positive during<br />

the summer of 2022. It was a minor illness, thankfully, but it gave me a new perspective. Being<br />

trapped in a room, entirely alone with your thoughts, forces you to really look at yourself. I<br />

learned the hard way that if you look inside, you can see how to change.<br />

Ironically, as a person who is perfectionistic and critical of myself, after all, that had happened<br />

in those three long years, I found peace in those moments of self-reflection. I learned that the<br />

whys were far more important than the hows or whens. We all want these changes, but I think<br />

it is the great, big things that loom over us that show who we are.<br />

>>><br />

What is normal? I think it is the common safety net we make for protection. It is our ability<br />

to deal with the changes in life that we cannot control. Unfortunately, life is weird and<br />

unpredictable at the best of times. After all that has happened in the years that felt like an<br />

eternity, I learned that it is the upkeep of ourselves that matters.<br />

For me, it was the building of healthy habits, and loving the small things that made me happy. I<br />

read and wrote and tried new things until I found what truly gave me purpose. I decided in my<br />

room, quarantined from the world, that life is short, far too short. It wasn't worth living if I spent<br />

all my life missing out. The world is out of my control, and even with all my obsessing, I could<br />

never, ever change that.<br />

Shit happens, but that does not mean it will be that way forever.<br />


I thought I could either let the tide push me down or ride the waves. I am the master of my future,<br />

and only I can make my path. The stars were there, beyond the clouds to guide me, and there were<br />

many beautiful things to see if I looked for them. I just needed to take it one step at a time.<br />

I know now that change is the one constant, normal thing in life. The best we can do is<br />

weather the storm and head towards greater things.<br />

The Death of a Roach<br />

Eric S Cerda<br />

It was time. I didn't have much<br />

to spare<br />

I felt the crawling in<br />

my stomach<br />

Red six-legged creatures<br />

gorging my innards with pincers<br />

Summer wind brought sweet lavender<br />

we headed toward your silver Hyundai<br />

I practiced what to say in hope as<br />

you rambled on with a story<br />

I watched you<br />

with compounded eyes, two thousand glances<br />

freshly chewed fingernails dug<br />

into my tough jeans<br />

as I thought of new ways to speak, but<br />

you stopped<br />

at the silver door,<br />

the crawling spread<br />

I tried to say keywords to<br />

make you stay<br />

But all words<br />

swarmed out of my mouth<br />

I watched the roach<br />

beneath your foot<br />

Red ants dug<br />

into its tough shell<br />

antenna wiggled for<br />

an answer to hope<br />

You were silent<br />

An engine came to life<br />

But the roach<br />

could no longer hear<br />

Over the ants<br />

gorging its innards<br />

Its final breath<br />

released<br />

left hollowed out<br />

on asphalt<br />

Summer wind<br />

putrid exhaust<br />

212<br />

Transending Journey @Peace<br />

Photography<br />

Luis Medina<br />

Transending Journey Self<br />

Photography<br />

Luis Medina

The Passerby and The Rabbit<br />

Nicolas Arthur Wilke<br />

On February 15, <strong>2023</strong>, at 8:53 P.M. An anonymous Passerby came to the scene where a<br />

common Desert Rabbit was in the middle of the road. The Rabbit appeared to be in shock.<br />

The Passerby pulled their vehicle over with hazards on, stepped out of the vehicle, and<br />

stepped towards The Rabbit in an attempt to coax the Rabbit off to the side of the Road (into<br />

the Desert). Upon closer inspection of the scene, the passerby observed another Rabbit that<br />

was to the right side of the road; this Rabbit had been crushed by another passing vehicle.<br />

Stepping closer to The Rabbit that was in shock, it was then that The Passerby noticed The<br />

Rabbit's Nose was completely torn off from the face, blood was covering the entirety of the<br />

mouth and chest and the right eye had sustained severe damage. The Passerby took blankets<br />

out of their vehicle’s trunk and then proceeded to wrap The Rabbit up to take it home in<br />

an attempt to find experienced help. After calling the Tucson Wildlife Center and getting<br />

educated on how to care for The Rabbit, The Passerby prepared a medium cardboard box with<br />

blankets and a bowl of water inside, and a heating pad on the outside of the box to provide<br />

warmth for the Rabbit to hopefully be comfortable and rest until the Facility opened the next<br />

morning at 8:00 am.<br />

On February 16, <strong>2023</strong>, at 7:23 A.M. an anonymous Passerby stepped into their bathroom to<br />

retrieve the box that was housing The Severely Injured Rabbit, opening the blanket that was<br />

covering the top, it is observed that The Severely Injured Rabbit was alive and breathing.<br />

Driving to the facility it is noted that while driving east on Speedway 800 feet away from<br />

the facility, The Passerby had witnessed a common Desert Rabbit darting across the road,<br />

unharmed and free. At 8:02 A.M. The Passerby and The Severely Injured Rabbit, entered the<br />

facility and at this juncture, The Passerby handed The severely Injured Rabbit over to the<br />

Veterinarian on site. After completing the proper paperwork and receiving the blankets and<br />

box that housed The Severely Injured Rabbit, The Veterinarian stepped outside the examining/<br />

operating room.<br />

On February 16, <strong>2023</strong>, at 8:23 A.M, the Veterinarian informed the Passerby that The Severely<br />

Injured Rabbit’s right eye had ruptured from the eye socket, the whole frontal part of the nose<br />

was completely torn off, the chance of Rehabilitation, and Rewilding is too low. The Vet upon<br />

inspecting The Severely Injured Rabbit had determined the best course of medical action<br />

would be to perform an anesthetic injection.<br />

The Severely Injured Rabbit passed away as peacefully and as comfortably as possible.<br />


214<br />

Barrio Libre<br />

<strong>Digital</strong><br />

Perri Hartenstein

Also Forever Waiting for Spring<br />

Ash Hooke<br />

I mark my existence in crows;<br />

Counting those that fly<br />

And those that feast,<br />

Startling in peripheral,<br />

Darkening my vision.<br />

How many makes a murder?<br />

Sometimes I am lost<br />

In their wondrous flight;<br />

Their blue blackness,<br />

Shining eyes.<br />

Sharpened beaks and feet.<br />

Sometimes I am the meat.<br />

My own harbingers,<br />

Heralding these underworlds<br />

That reside within.<br />

Only black birds shelter in hell.<br />

Twentyfivethousandyearlongmoments<br />

Lived in fog and blood<br />

Ravens circling for flesh<br />

Collecting my shiny bits as they slipped<br />

From wounded<br />

Skin split beneath barbed-word bindings,<br />

His and theirs.<br />

Synapses bloom, overgrown by<br />

Thickets of pomegranates<br />

Hooked through<br />

The softest parts of my brain.<br />

Thorny vines<br />

Finding footsteps set in<br />

Trauma’s magma,<br />

Death’s birds picking at<br />

Anything left.<br />

Crying is of no consequence.<br />

My Ceres lost to a labyrinth<br />

Herself.<br />

And<br />

Even though I sit<br />

Inside my one fifth freedom.<br />

Hell squats too deep<br />

At the end of a nightmare path<br />

I walk on my fists.<br />

And still<br />

The crows circle.<br />

Persephone’s spring<br />

Elusive as a flock of<br />

Doves.<br />

Force-fed bushels;<br />

Choked into silence, whole fruit<br />

Swallowed<br />

To ensure eternal<br />

Doom.<br />

Crimson seeds settling, until<br />


Birds of Mexico<br />

Photography<br />

Emily Lambert<br />


<strong>Digital</strong> Edition Bios<br />

Acacia Chambers<br />

Is a young up-and-coming author. She graduated high school a year early and is pursuing a<br />

bachelor’s degree in Creative Media and Film. Chambers was published in the Library of Poetry’s<br />

poetry collection Resilience 2022 at the age of seventeen. Shortly after, she self-published her first<br />

book, Learning to Love, on Amazon. She is currently working on publishing its sister book and a<br />

short story compilation book. She’s honored to be included in Sandscript <strong>2023</strong><br />

Alex Washburn<br />

Was born and raised in Tucson and graduated from Mountain View High School. Then,<br />

they attended Grand Canyon University as a History for secondary education and bowled<br />

on their collegiate team. It was then that Alex started to draw as a way to keep from<br />

overthinking during bowling tournaments. Eventually, Alex ended up at Pima to pursue<br />

their interest in making video games, where they took art classes at Pima and fell in love<br />

with art.<br />

Amanda Rigby-Vasquez<br />

(She/Her) hails from Modesto, California. She was in the US Navy for five years and then<br />

decided to return to school. She struggled to decide what to major in for years before deciding<br />

to go into healthcare because nutrition is important. One of her electives was poetry writing,<br />

and it made her fall in love with writing all over again. She would very much like to thank<br />

Maggie Golston, her poetry professor, for encouraging her and giving her an opportunity to<br />

better herself and her writing.<br />

Ann Gonzalez<br />

Grew up in Tucson and is interested in the nature, biotic and abiotic, of the Sonoran Desert.<br />

She fulfilled a lifetime goal of learning photography after retiring from public school teaching<br />

and uses it to share her interest in the beauty of her natural surroundings. This piece is a<br />

cyanotype print of a digital photograph made while volunteering at a historic ranch that has<br />

been converted into a therapeutic facility for service members with PTSD.<br />

Ariel Varela Herrera<br />

Ariel is graduating from Pima this semester with an AA in English Concentration and recently<br />

became a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member. She is transferring to Grand Canyon<br />

University next semester to pursue a BA in Professional Writing for New Media. Her hobbies<br />

include baking, gardening, cooking, playing violin, and spending time with family.<br />


Arthur Lurvey<br />

Has enjoyed working with wood since he took wood shop in junior high school. After retiring<br />

from Raytheon, he started taking carpentry classes through Pima Community College. This<br />

excellent program has taught him much, particularly about cabinetry. Arthur got the idea for<br />

these Lazy Susans from a few YouTube videos. When he isn't working with wood, you can<br />

find him tutoring at the west campus, hiking, and traveling.<br />

Brianna Hebert (she/her)<br />

Began writing around fourth grade when her class was allowed to free write. Her initial story<br />

had fifteen pages written, and that’s when she knew she loved writing. She has worked on<br />

her writing throughout the years, from her own thoughts and ideas to fan fiction. She has<br />

been working on a few original ideas for years and is happy to introduce one of them in the<br />

form of “Just Jaiden.” Brianna is supported by her friends and mom, though she’s never<br />

allowed them to read her works till today. She is still grateful for them and this opportunity<br />

to share her work.<br />

Carissa Villalovos<br />

Is an 18-year-old first-generation student majoring in Fine Arts. She dreams of attending the<br />

University of Arizona to pursue a Bachelor's and incorporating poetry and short stories into her<br />

paintings and drawings. She is a bigender lesbian who was raised religious but eventually felt<br />

isolated within that community due to pressures and expectations to be someone else. This<br />

experience is what "The Little Soldiers," and much of her writing, symbolizes for her. Her poetry<br />

often symbolizes the story of her journey regarding identity, fear, and independent thought.<br />

Dina Kagan<br />

Was born and grew up in Moscow, Russia. She is a filmmaker who has produced awardwinning<br />

fiction and documentary films. She has been studying drawing and painting at<br />

Pima College since 2020.<br />

Elizabeth Lowe<br />

Is a Liberal Arts major at Pima Community College. She plans to transfer to the University of<br />

Arizona in <strong>2023</strong>, where she will study for her bachelor’s degree in Linguistics. Before going<br />

to PCC, Elizabeth was homeschooled for her whole life. She was born and raised in Tucson<br />

and still lives here with her family. Elizabeth has been writing small stories since she was<br />

about seven years old but started seriously writing when she was around thirteen, though<br />

she had no plans for publication. In 2022, she took her first short-story writing class, and her<br />

professor encouraged her to submit to <strong>SandScript</strong>. She wasn’t sure she was going to but<br />

decided to send in an email on the last day before the deadline.<br />


Elizabeth Puckett<br />

Elizabeth Puckett is a PCC Student<br />

Emily Lambert<br />

Is a Tucson native completing her AGEC certificate at Pima this spring semester. She has<br />

been admitted into the Astronomy program at the University of Arizona and is excited to<br />

begin in the fall. She began to take an interest in photography last year, and after investing<br />

in a camera, she is excited to improve her skill. Emily’s favorite hobby is photography,<br />

and she is excited to incorporate it into Astronomy in the study of telescopes and space<br />

photography at the UA. Emily is delighted to have her works published in <strong>SandScript</strong>.<br />

Ethan Bauschka<br />

Ethan Bauschka is a Pima Community College student who plans to transfer to the University<br />

of Arizona. He wants to pursue creative writing as a career and enjoys painting, reading, and<br />

fun movies.<br />

Gabriela G Fragozo<br />

A first-generation Latin student pursuing an academic career in Neuroscience and<br />

Cognitive Sciences. A passionate individual who finds the beauty behind the indulgence<br />

of introspection. As someone who understands the importance of being heard, she finds<br />

words magical. Her process consists of taking inspiration from feelings and words that<br />

grab her attention. She spends time letting these words sink in and writes down every<br />

thought she formulates. The art behind her process is reflected through patience, and she<br />

lets her thoughts come to her naturally. You may not use every thought you create, but<br />

you can see how much your mind can expand based on your feelings. Let your art flow,<br />

and your vision is a moment of cognition.<br />

Goldfish<br />

Goldfish is an avid reader and writer of science fiction, fantasy, and poetry. He is currently<br />

pursuing a degree in Liberal Arts from Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. In his<br />

spare time, he likes to burn food on the grill and explore the desert highways on a motorcycle.<br />

Isabelle Gard (she/her)<br />

Isabelle is a queer photographer based in Tucson, Arizona. Most of her work includes portraiture, but<br />

she also enjoys nature and concept photography. She is passionate about making people feel less<br />

alone by using her writing and photography to share otherwise isolating experiences. She plans on<br />

transferring to the University of Arizona to study linguistics and law.<br />


Heather Peterson<br />

(she/her) is a 23-year-old artist raised in Tucson. She has three pets: her dog Argos, her<br />

cat Sherlock, and her snake, Loki. She is honored to be published in <strong>SandScript</strong>. She<br />

is an artist, dancer, and singer and enjoys theater and writing. Heather enjoys reading,<br />

viewing, and collecting art in her free time. Being surrounded by art and learning about<br />

its forms makes her happy. Heather believes that art should be shared with the world, no<br />

matter your experience or skill. Everyone has something to show, share, and contribute<br />

to our society. She was nervous this semester taking her first-ever art class. She had never<br />

had any formal art training or taken any art classes. Surprisingly, she has felt comfortable<br />

in class and is grateful to Professor Matthias Duwel and her classmates for their support<br />

and encouragement. She hopes to continue her journey as an artist and keep learning to<br />

improve her skills and knowledge.<br />

Isaac Frisby<br />

Isaac Frisby is a PCC Student<br />

Jessica Novak<br />

Jessica is a Senior Director at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and has extensive<br />

experience in building partnerships and growing resources. She moved to Tucson with her family<br />

in 2017 after five years of living and working in Lima, Perú. She is currently enrolled in Spanish 202<br />

and está desarrollando sus habilidades de escritura en español. Jessica is a graduate of Michigan<br />

State University (BS) and Indiana University (MPH).<br />

Juan M Pena<br />

Is an artist based in Nogales, Arizona, who works primarily with colored pencils and<br />

printmaking. He takes inspiration from wildlife, cartoons, abstract art, tattoos, and graffiti<br />

for his works of art.<br />

Kina<br />

Is a freshman originally from the Philippines, and she moved to the US less than a year ago.<br />

As a queer woman, she faced challenges with her conservative parents, who did not take<br />

her sexuality very well. Kina's lived experience inspired her to write this essay with the help<br />

and encouragement of her professor, Ms. Carmen, and her supportive girlfriend, Angela. Her<br />

journey toward discovering her true identity was far from easy, and she had to make peace<br />

with her circumstances. However, she is immensely proud of herself for overcoming one of the<br />

most challenging times of her life. She believes that her challenges have shaped her into who<br />

she is today. She likes to write about her experiences because she hopes it inspires readers to<br />

embrace their true selves, just as she did.<br />


Kristen Raymond<br />

Is a dedicated student seeking to complete her general education credits at Pima before<br />

transferring to the University of Arizona to pursue physiology. She aspires to be an athletic<br />

trainer for kids.<br />

Lori Bentley Law<br />

Had a terrific career as an NBC photojournalist, a job that took her around the world and<br />

even put a couple of Emmys on her shelf. After twenty-four years, though, she decided<br />

to make a change and put more joy in the world instead. Along with photography,<br />

writing moves her. She has quietly written seven novels and has been blogging for more<br />

than twenty years. In 2021, she returned to school at Pima Community College and the<br />

University of Arizona, where she’s working on a BA in Design Arts & Practices with a<br />

Content Creation minor.<br />

Luis Medina<br />

Luis Medina is a PCC student.<br />

Marriah K Niessen<br />

Earned her BA and MA in French Language, Literature, and Cultures from Creighton<br />

University in Omaha, Nebraska, and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado,<br />

respectively. Along with judging literary contests, her work has won or placed in several<br />

competitions, including the PNWAs, the Soul-Making Keats Literary Awards, the Southwest<br />

Writers Writing Contest, the William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and the New<br />

Mexico Press Women Awards. As a passionate writer of historical fiction and family sagas,<br />

she’s always on the hunt for new stories. She is currently studying Spanish and German at<br />

Pima and working on her next novel.<br />

Melissa Bridwell<br />

Is an amateur photographer/poet finding inspiration from not only the natural world but<br />

also from the abstract conjurings of the heart. She is currently taking a break from wildland<br />

firefighting to pursue her concentration on visual arts with an Associate of Fine Arts at Pima<br />

Community College, aiming to find a way to merge her penchant for photography and<br />

poetry writing into one fell swoop.<br />

Mya Palacios<br />

“My work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.” by Bill<br />

Watterson<br />


Natalie Johnson<br />

Sedona Michele Blanar is a first-year PCC student obtaining her associate degree in<br />

Computer-Aided Design. After completing her degree, she plans to attend architecture school<br />

and study abroad to become a registered architect. As a writer, Sedona has a natural affinity<br />

toward the concept of death and its meaning. She frequently contemplates the purpose of<br />

death, finding that it is not a once-in-a-lifetime event but rather a reciprocal process. Sedona<br />

views poetry, as with every other type of art, as a form of self-expression and therapy. She<br />

believes creating art should be a part of every individual’s lifestyle. In Found in Death, Sedona<br />

utilizes the poetic tool of collaging excerpts from a magazine article (known as a found<br />

poem) and arranges them to tell a story. This story is meant to engage the reader in a journey<br />

of beauty, intrigue, and curiosity. It leaves individuals to contemplate their purpose, which<br />

sometimes can only be found in death.<br />

Nicolas Arthur Wilke<br />

Nicolas Arthur Wilke, age 24<br />

Perri Hartenstein<br />

Has been taking digital art classes at Pima since the summer of 2022. Before that, they<br />

enjoyed making art in their free time, mostly with watercolor and gouache. They’ve been<br />

learning to use adobe photoshop and Procreate in the last 6 months, and it has been fun.<br />

Perri’s inspiration comes from their surroundings, including the nature of the Sonoran<br />

desert and the rich history of Tucson.<br />

Rebecca Lowe<br />

Is a freshman at Pima Community College. She started writing poems in 2018 and has<br />

written various short poems over the past five years. She wants to transfer to the U of A<br />

and pursue a career in nursing after graduation.<br />

Sage Furrer<br />

Is a digital artist and illustrator who has been drawing since early childhood. Originally<br />

from New Mexico, she moved to Tucson in 2017 and is currently majoring in Graphic<br />

Design at Pima Community College. She plans to attend the University of Arizona for<br />

Business Administration. She hopes to one day become an Art Director.<br />

Victoria Rivera<br />

Has been enrolled at Pima for two years. She enjoys all aspects of art but is biased toward<br />

the medium of photography. Her work includes solitary, reclusive, and introverted themes,<br />

and she hopes individuals feel a sense of peace when they view her work.<br />


Print Edition Bios<br />

Abbie Golden<br />

Was born and raised in Arizona. She is an A&P student in the Aviation Maintenance<br />

Technology program at Pima College.<br />

Abby Maki<br />

Is a Tucson-based artist who practices 35-millimeter film photography, life drawing, and<br />

ceramics. She is pursuing a fine arts degree at Pima Community College, where she explores<br />

different techniques and mediums to create unique works of art. Abby’s photography<br />

captures the beauty and complexity of the world around her, using film to create a timeless<br />

and nostalgic quality in her images. She has a keen eye for composition and is skilled at<br />

using natural light to create striking visual effects.<br />

Adriana Prado<br />

(She/Her) was born and raised in Bolivia but has proudly called Arizona her home since 2004. Growing up in<br />

a family of art lovers and artists, she was encouraged from an early age to express herself creatively whenever<br />

possible, leading her to constantly explore new and unfamiliar media and techniques. She is looking forward<br />

to completing a degree in the visual arts to formalize her artistic education. Eclectic in her interests and subject<br />

choices, she tends toward botanicals and the esoteric. Her watercolor work in this collection represents an<br />

exploration into a new method of expression and growth.<br />

Aiden Badruddoja<br />

Is a Fine Arts student at Pima Community College. He is 20 years old and has been honing<br />

his skills in drawing and painting for several years and plans on becoming a professional<br />

artist. Creating and sharing his art helped Aiden navigate his youth and allowed him to<br />

express emotions he couldn’t share through words alone.<br />

Allegra Aguirre<br />

comes from a long line of talented musicians, singers, and artists & she expressed this creativity through writing. In school<br />

she would read and "collect" her favorite quotes from people. The power that words have & how they speak to our hearts<br />

and emotions has never ceased to amaze her. High school introduced her to journalism. Being the editor-in-chief of the<br />

school newspaper lit a fire in her heart & boosted her confidence to write about what's going on in our community and<br />

world. Afterwards, she occupied herself with trying for a career that would fill her wallet rather than her yearning creativity.<br />

Being met with frustration & despair forced her to start searching for the things that had made her happy. Writing has<br />

always chosen her, but she almost chose to ignore it for the trivial values & beliefs that our society distracts us with.<br />

However, this was validating in that she knows she made the right decision.<br />


Alyssa Quitian<br />

Alyssa Quitian is a PCC Student<br />

Amanda Coulter<br />

Amanda Coulter is a PCC Student<br />

Anikó Lehoczky-Levy<br />

Anikó Lehoczky-Levy is a PCC Student<br />

Ash Hooke<br />

(She/Her) Has spent the last twelve years educating and inspiring young humans with her teaching as<br />

a dedicated public educator and mentor. She aspires to discover and share her unique perspectives<br />

and personal truth in her writing as well as in many aspects of her life; a passionate evolution that<br />

began as a small-town Mormon girl, progressing to a young housewife and mother, then maturing<br />

into the independent queer agnostic anarchist she is today. Her love for martial arts and endurance<br />

racing has become essential allegories for her life and work. Oh, and she loves animals and nature.<br />

Ashley Carmichael<br />

Is aTucson-based artist and creates intricate ink and watercolor art inspired by nature.<br />

Her work focuses on the vibrancy of the natural world and the cyclical stories of<br />

growth and decay. Ashley obtained a Minor in Fine Art from Indiana University and has<br />

participated in shows by the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild. She now works out of<br />

her home studio in eastern Tucson.<br />

Audrey Ball<br />

is a transgender woman and a multi-disciplinary artist who explores her life experiences with the intersections of gender,<br />

sexuality, and religious trauma through her work. With a focus on sculpture, Audrey creates powerful and thoughtprovoking<br />

pieces that challenge societal norms and spark important conversations about identity and belonging.<br />

Audrey is currently in her final semester with Pima Community College, where she will earn her AFA this Spring. After that,<br />

she will attend Arizona State University in the Fall and work towards her BFA with a continued emphasis on sculpture.<br />

Audrey has exhibited her work in galleries and has been recognized with awards. Her work has been featured in multiple<br />

publications, including PCC's <strong>SandScript</strong>, and the Outlet: The BYU-Idaho Art and Literary Journal.<br />


Bianca Barrett<br />

Aspires to create and be creative. Bianca enjoys working in many mediums. However,<br />

painting is one of her favorite methods of creating. Realizing that she is an artist has been a<br />

long journey, and she looks forward to what the future holds.<br />

Brett Wynn<br />

Is 19 years old and attending Pima Community College. Poetry has done a tremendous<br />

amount for him in terms of growth and understanding as a human being. He was in a low<br />

place when he found he could express himself in words. Since then, he has thoroughly<br />

enjoyed creating and sharing poems with others.<br />

Caroline Reilly<br />

Is a 25-year-old art student. She has a deep love and appreciation for all media, but her<br />

current focus is sculpture. Texture and shape are of particular interest due to her limited<br />

vision. She is legally blind. Though that has made the road challenging, it has never stopped<br />

her from creating.<br />

Christian Anderson<br />

A local writer and performer, Christian Anderson spends his life dreaming up new worlds<br />

and new ways to share them. He enjoys experimenting with content and form and exploring<br />

new and exciting ways to tell his stories.<br />

Collin Graeme Chadwick<br />

Is an Honors writing student at PCC pursuing a career in librarianship. Born and raised in Tucson, Az, he credits his late<br />

uncle Jerah Chadwick - a former Poet Laureate of Alaska - for his impulse to express himself through writing. Collin's free<br />

verse poems aim to inspire by conveying a sense of quiet reflection, restrained hope, and forward-looking optimism.<br />

They typically explore themes connected to intellectual history and personal metamorphosis, occasionally including<br />

symbolic and mythological references to ancient cultures in their lines. Besides poetry and fiction, Collin's passions<br />

include archaeology, ancient Europe, traditional Irish and Scottish music, the Latin language, medieval manuscript<br />

studies, and the medieval reception of Classical texts.<br />

Conner Brooke Lechner<br />

Is currently at Pima for his EMT certification while also pursuing a degree in creative writing.<br />

He likes climbing, reading, and character design.<br />


Damian Cecala<br />

Is a young artist who draws inspiration from skateboarding, art, music, and nature. He tries<br />

to blend the lines from these as much as he can with his life.<br />

Darine Alzoubaydi<br />

Was born in the Middle East and came from a father who has always been interested in art.<br />

As a kid, they would watch him draw and look through his work when he wasn't around.<br />

Darine always found themself drawing little sketches as a kid and did not think anything of<br />

it. They started devoting their time to their art about three years ago. It was the only thing<br />

that made sense to their soul. Darine is glad to share a part of their art journey with you.<br />

Thank you.<br />

Eric S Cerda<br />

Born in Los Angeles but raised in Tucson, Eric S Cerda is a writer of the mundane. He is inspired by<br />

the modernists and existentialists. When he is not watching sports, classic movies, sitcoms, clips of<br />

podcasts, or playing video games, he is trying to write a book of poetry as well as a book of short<br />

stories that captures his view and philosophy of life, but most likely he’ll get stuck on a word that<br />

will lead him down a rabbit hole until he forgets what he was doing in the first place and then never<br />

return to what he was writing.<br />

Erin Kubat<br />

There is so much extraordinary in the everyday that gets overlooked. There are so many moments<br />

forgotten to time. I am a visual artist, film maker and ceramicist whose aim is to bring attention to<br />

what is overlooked everyday. The beauty and the horror that is our reality.<br />

Ev Essif<br />

Cactus blooded poet/artist/mystic channeling the Divine Experience through the lens of<br />

metaphor and representation.<br />

Fer Cueva<br />

Tapatía artist, born and raised in Guadalajara, Mx. Life in all its forms, colors, and depths<br />

is one of her constant inspirations, as well as the gift of being human and alive, and the<br />

experience that comes with it!! Gracias por estar aquí.<br />


Gabriel Baez<br />

Is a Chicano writer who grew up in the California Central Valley. He is 25 years old and<br />

working on finishing his associate degree at Pima before transferring to the University of<br />

Arizona for Creative Writing. He will begin applying to MFA programs this fall. His poems,<br />

short stories, and essays focus on family, cultura, memory, and dreams.<br />

Mirtha Gabriela Duarte<br />

Born in Tucson and raised in Nogales, Sonora, Gabriela Duarte is an aspiring writer and amateur<br />

poet. Gabriela’s curiosity for poetry was sparked after taking a few poetry classes at Pima<br />

Community College, which became a significant admiration and love for the genre. Gabriela’s<br />

preferred themes are mental health and social issues, topics they are very passionate about.<br />

Ian Jones<br />

Is 28 years old. He takes literature classes for his artsy side at Pima Community College. When he finishes his<br />

Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Arizona at the end of <strong>2023</strong>, he plans on applying to the Masters<br />

of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. He has worked as a Nurse’s Aid, a Wildland Firefighter, a Personal Trainer, and<br />

even solely owned and managed a CrossFit gym. As far as literature goes, he loves all Russian and Japanese<br />

classics, like Tolstoy and Kawabata. He writes in the hopes of making the world a more empathetic place.<br />

Ian Sommer<br />

(He/Him) is 18 and about to finish his second semester at Pima. He has developed a<br />

fascination for taking pictures of people that tell emotional stories. He comes from a<br />

Russian background, which provides him with a unique perspective of culture and society.<br />

After Pima, he plans on transferring to the Eller College of Management at the University of<br />

Arizona.<br />

Jesus Rodriguez<br />

Jesus Rodriguez is a PCC Student<br />

Joseph Retsky<br />

Is a visual arts major at Pima. He likes to do travel, wildlife, and nature Photography,<br />

as well as drawing.<br />


Julia Faltin<br />

Julia Faltin is a PCC Student<br />

Julia Franco<br />

Is from Minas Gerais, Brazil! They were born and raised there and moved to Tucson<br />

about a year ago. They have always loved art in all forms, especially combining different<br />

techniques in one unique piece. For this reason, Julia chose to be a multimedia artist and<br />

study Filmmaking because they think film is a way to combine different art mediums, like<br />

visual art, storytelling, music, and others.<br />

Kathleen Williamson<br />

Was a truant during her Brooklyn K-12 years. She was redeemed by an open admissions policy<br />

at Kingsborough Community College in the 1970s. That experience kick-started her life-long<br />

love of learning, whether it be autodidactic or academic. She moved to Jerome, Arizona in 1974,<br />

& attended Yavapai Community College. Those grades got her into NAU where she earned a<br />

BA in Humanities. Kathleen moved to Tucson in 1986 to study law at UA. She practiced since<br />

1989 & continued studies at UA in Cultural Anthropology, completing a doctorate in 2000. In<br />

2006, Kathleen also earned an LL.M. in Intellectual Property Law. Kathleen retired from law<br />

practice in 2021. Since high school, Kathleen has also been composing & performing a diverse<br />

body of folk, jazz & blues songs & produced two TAMMIES- recognized CDs. Kathleen also<br />

enjoys volunteer work & maintains her organic urban homestead. She is thrilled to return to a<br />

community college environment & participate in her first poetry class.<br />

Kira Okuma<br />

(She/Her) is an Associate of Business Administration major at PCC and will pursue a Bachelor's<br />

degree in Accounting at the University of Arizona. While battling chronic illness, art was her<br />

reprieve during her teenage years–it gave her a way to explore the world when she physically<br />

couldn't. She spent nearly every spare moment creating in some way and dabbled in every<br />

medium she could. Eventually, Kira began to favor drawing in charcoal or soft pastel, or painting<br />

with oil paint. If she is not at her easel, she's probably out in the garden or hiking.<br />

Leah Trieu<br />

(She/Her) has always been passionate about the arts and how that can translate into all aspects of life.<br />

She started learning about photography in high school. That's when she discovered she was inspired by<br />

everyday life and capturing the human experience and emotions through photos. Photography is a way<br />

to inspire others through the pictures that you can create. Showing a story and emotion through a photo<br />

can teach someone about a new aspect of life. That, to her, is inspiring enough.<br />


Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Has always been a writer at heart, but it wasn’t until their time at PCC that they allowed themselves to<br />

share their work. Being forced out of their comfort zone and having to share their stories in class was just<br />

the push they needed to help them realize their dreams. No longer satisfied with an audience of one,<br />

Kristin plans on working on, and finishing, their Sci-Fi story, The Ruins of the Old Ones. They also hope<br />

to one day compile their poems in a book and, with the lovely suggestions of their classmates and<br />

professors, create a book of poems dedicated to their fantasy stories. Kristin is inspired by European<br />

Folklore, Greek, Celtic, and Norse mythology, Dungeons and Dragons, and classic and modern<br />

Speculative Fiction as a whole. Neurodivergent, nonbinary, and queer, they enjoy stories about righting<br />

wrongs, class differences, neurodiversity, gender, queer struggles, and of course, dragons.<br />

Linnea Davison<br />

Linnea Davison is a PCC student.<br />

Lucas Hillenbrand<br />

Is a 20-year-old artist from Minnesota. Lukas has focused on art for the majority of his life and his<br />

preferred medium is drawing with pen and pencil. In the past, he has received many awards for<br />

his art, including a purple champion ribbon that won him a trip to the Minnesota state fair and an<br />

Art Grant given by the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council. Currently, Lukas is studying Visual and<br />

Performing Arts at Pima Community College and intends to move on to University to pursue a<br />

degree in Art and Animation.<br />

Mackenzie Dougherty<br />

Is a PCC student who wants to have a career in editing and publishing. Her poetry reflects her life<br />

experiences, while her prose is primarily fantasy based. When choosing to read, she loves romance,<br />

fantasy, and mystery, though she tries to remain open-minded to new genres. In her downtime,<br />

you may find her escaping reality by traveling around Arizona with her best friend. Each and every<br />

experience she has inspires her to write more, so one day, she may just publish her works outside of<br />

the magazine that got her started.<br />

Madeline Currah<br />

Has loved reading and writing poetry from a young age, usually only sharing it with the night<br />

air and various plants that happen to be nearby. <strong>SandScript</strong> is her first time attempting to<br />

share a work of writing more publicly. She would try it again. Poetry can captivate, change,<br />

and illuminate a heart in the subtlest yet most profound ways.<br />


Marii Ink<br />

Is an aspiring artist and designer working towards her fine arts degree to be a future Art Director. She has been published<br />

in Teen Ink in high school for her photography to being featured in gallery shows such as Queens Rise Art Walk here in<br />

Arizona for her paintings. She hopes to express concepts of self-contentedness, self-love, the worth of others to yourself,<br />

and mental stability. In some way or form, these concepts are expressed to some degree. It could be something as small<br />

as the ink color for line work to the techniques used to create her pieces. In her perfect future, her work will be shown<br />

internationally to spread human empathy. And who’s to say she can’t have some fun with comic work on the way?<br />

Maya Schenne<br />

Is a Creative Writing major at Pima Community College who plans to transfer to NAU to<br />

further her education. She is a writer and poet with a love for horror and fantasy. She also<br />

has a passion for baking and painting.<br />

Michele Worthington<br />

Has lived in Tucson for 37 years and loves to write about the Sonoran Desert. The current and<br />

looming ecological catastrophes fill her with grief. Although writing is her therapy, she knows<br />

her poems will not help the pronghorn cross the border wall or the jaguar find a mate in an<br />

overdeveloped desert. She believes the practice of making art helps counterbalance the push<br />

for destruction by our species.<br />

Raiden Lopez<br />

Is a strong and resilient single mom to her son, Xander. She loves love, the written word, the sound of rain<br />

hitting the window in the middle of the night, and reading more than most things in the world. Raiden has<br />

been an Editor-in-Chief of <strong>SandScript</strong> for the past 3 years & plans to continue to work with aspiring authors.<br />

Her personal life experiences have inspired her powerful pieces & they continue to be her driving force for a<br />

happy future doing what she loves every day with those she loves.<br />

Reisla Oliveira<br />

Is an Afro-Brazilian artist and biologist. Memory and identity are central themes in her artistic<br />

practice. Since 2020, she has created photography and video inspired by personal experiences,<br />

nature, and her ancestors' stories. She studied photography at Pima Community College.<br />

River Lethe<br />

Spends most of his time staring at faces on the city bus and wondering how we all strayed<br />

so far from home.<br />


Selena Alvarado<br />

Has been practicing art for a few years now. She grew up watching her father paint, draw, and<br />

sketch beautiful art pieces. Selena decided to pursue art a few years ago. She has learned<br />

that there is a story behind every piece. Her inspiration comes from her family, culture, and<br />

surroundings. She will continue to grow her art and looks forward to seeing where her art will<br />

go. Her one piece of advice is - practice makes improvement, not perfection. Art is what you<br />

make it. The journey to get there is as important as completing the finished piece.<br />

Taylor Gantz<br />

(She/Her) is a young writer and college student from Flagstaff, Arizona. She loves writing prose and poetry,<br />

especially from a second-person POV. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, exploring the outdoors,<br />

and playing piano.<br />

Travis Cooper<br />

Is a dual-enrollment high school student who has lived in Tucson all his life. He hopes to become a<br />

computer scientist and writes science fiction stories in his free time.<br />

Vannia Ayon<br />

Is an artist from Sinaloa who lives in Tucson. She was interested in art from a young age but<br />

only started painting seriously in 2021. Although she is studying to become an interpreter,<br />

she hopes to pursue higher education for her art in the future. Her work is usually inspired<br />

by her family members, who she sees very few times a year.<br />

William Aaronson-Glaab<br />

Why do we forget? Does irrelevance so overly stimulate us that the mundane is ignored? Are we so caught up in other things that the<br />

world begins to lose its color? How do we understand our emotions when there is no color to base our emotions on? In middle school,<br />

his dad helped him construct a workbench he loved. In high school, William committed to being a machinist. He interned at many<br />

shops, spending time away from his projects working on someone else's. After graduating, he worked as a machinist, & he realized it<br />

was not fulfilling. William's parents, both artists, explained it wasn't fulfilling because he wasn't raised as a machinist. It made sense why<br />

employers didn't value his perspective. Now, he is pursuing an Associate's with a Sculpture concentration. He realized he had always<br />

been a sculptor. The workbench is no longer abandoned, & as he works toward an art career, it is much more colorful.<br />

Zayk K. Cronyn<br />

A lover of the heat, all things nature, and meaningful conversation. Though art in many<br />

forms is the joy of life, science holds his dreams of a cohesive, content world.<br />


1st Place<br />

Award Winners<br />

R<br />

P<br />

O<br />

A W A<br />

R<br />

S<br />

D<br />

E<br />

1st<br />

Bird Whistle<br />

River Lethe<br />

“Bird Whistle” showcases a mastery of contrasts: the mute<br />

desert heat against the voice-driven dialogue, the brutality of<br />

belt marks on the neck against a boy’s hands cupping a dead<br />

bird like something sacred. This story has the resonance of the<br />

desert quiet: wide-open, lonesome, solemn, stark. The language<br />

is precise and needle-sharp, and when a wren is shot from the<br />

sky, it shoots the reader straight through too. This story leaves<br />

stones in you. You leave heavier than you came.<br />

A<br />


R<br />

T<br />

V<br />

P<br />

I<br />

I<br />

S<br />

U A<br />

E<br />

L<br />

E<br />

C<br />

1st<br />

Hermes<br />

Ev Essif<br />

This artwork exemplifies the exquisite automatic drawing,<br />

layering, and color blending techniques with a classical feel in<br />

contemporary composition. In the classical narrative, Hermes<br />

delivers messages to the various Gods in Greek mythology. In<br />

some stories, Hermes returns souls to the underworld of Hades<br />

and protects those traveling.<br />

O<br />

P<br />

E<br />

A W A<br />

T<br />

R<br />

R<br />

D<br />

Y<br />

1st<br />

A Tubal Litigation is a<br />

Non-Reversible Procedure<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

There is an amazing tension in this piece pushing the reader<br />

into the room as they journey alongside the poet (or subject<br />

of the poem) as they go through the steps towards a tubal<br />

ligation procedure. By crafting an entire narrative through<br />

what is being said to the subject versus an internal perspective<br />

of a person advocating for themselves, I found myself with<br />

them, wanting to respond and push back. This poem is both<br />

provocative and compelling.<br />


S T A F F B I O S<br />

Raiden Raiden Lopez Lopez<br />

Editor-In-Chief<br />

Editor-In-Chief<br />

Raiden has been the Editor -In-<br />

Chief of <strong>SandScript</strong> for the past 3<br />

editions and has already started<br />

living her dream of being an<br />

editor. She is a fierce leader in<br />

any environment that she is in. She is a single mom<br />

and does the impossible every day, all to inspire<br />

her son and others to follow their passions. With<br />

plans to transfer to the U of A for her bachelors in<br />

Creative Writing in the Spring of 2024 she will be a<br />

known editor and publicist one day.<br />

@RaidenSakura<br />

Mackenzie Dougherty<br />

Assistant Mackenzie Editor-In-Chief<br />

Dougherty<br />

Assistant Editor-In-Chief<br />

Is an aspiring author and editor. Currently, she is<br />

majoring in English but wishes to transfer to a university<br />

to focus on creative writing as soon as she is done here<br />

at PCC. She spends her free time writing, watching<br />

movies, and saving up to travel the world! Her go-to<br />

genre is fantasy but she tries to not judge a book by its<br />

cover (though a pretty cover is always a plus).<br />

@_.mack.and.cheese._<br />


Katie Murray<br />

Managing Editor<br />

Is a Biology major at Pima Community College. She will<br />

be transferring to The University of Arizona next fall,<br />

where she will continue her biology undergraduate<br />

with an emphasis on biomedical sciences. Her career<br />

goal is to be a veterinarian, but she has a special<br />

interest in minimizing disparities between marginalized<br />

communities and spends one Sunday a month giving<br />

free veterinary care to the pets of the homeless and low<br />

income population of Tucson.<br />

Damian Cecala<br />

Visual Arts Editor<br />

Is the Visual Arts editor and is famously known for his<br />

completely unbiased and superb opinions in literary arts.<br />

Despite this, he stays remarkably humble about it all.<br />

@_daymerz<br />

Brandon Robles<br />

Editorial and Graphic Designer<br />

Is an International Student from Mexico,<br />

seeking to inspire and interest people with<br />

his designs, while getting inspired himself<br />

through other's art. Always learning through life<br />

experiences. Thankful to <strong>SandScript</strong>'s amazing<br />

team for entrusting me with the look of this<br />

amazing magazine for the seccond time.<br />

@x.xbrandon<br />

David Mutschler<br />

Co-IndustryO.C. & Social Media M.<br />

A prolific media producer, writer, and serial<br />

entrepreneur, bibliophile David Mutschler currently<br />

attends classes and lives in Tucson Arizona where he is<br />

currently working on a novel and himself. Hopefully they<br />

both end well.<br />

@illfamepub<br />


Alycia Ruffin<br />

Co-IndustryO.C. & Social Media M.<br />

Is an aspiring artist and<br />

designer taking the<br />

opportunity to learn<br />

more of the publishing<br />

world for her career.<br />

She is a current student<br />

at PCC with plans to<br />

transfer to Otis College<br />

of Arts and Design (or<br />

ASU.) She's currently<br />

working towards being<br />

an Art Director for the comic industry! A<br />

Nightwing film finally? @CACAO.MARI<br />

Eric S Cerda<br />

Prose Editor<br />

He wakes up every<br />

morning with a sigh<br />

and a constant thought<br />

of why. He struggles<br />

with making the<br />

decision to get out of<br />

bed, and due to this<br />

indecision he doesn’t<br />

ever have enough time<br />

to eat. He speeds down<br />

dark highways towards<br />

his job. After work he<br />

watches old reruns<br />

while being lit only by<br />

the blue light of the tv.<br />

Kristin LeBlanc<br />

Poetry Editor<br />

Chronically tired, chronically ill, chronically<br />

obsessed. Long naps, late nights, bingereading<br />

poetry. Dysfunctionally functional,<br />

disco-funk city-pop cottage-core defunct vibes.<br />

An abandoned theme park carousel calliope<br />

whistling out of tune.<br />

@RoseTintedWriting<br />

Mariah Young<br />

Faculty Advisor<br />

Teaches English and creative writing<br />

at Pima. Her short story collection<br />

Masha’allah and Other Stories (Heyday,<br />

2012) won the California Book Award for<br />

first fiction; in theory she’s working on a<br />

novel, but between teaching and having<br />

a toddler, she mostly has time for flash<br />

fiction, zines, and emails. She spends<br />

way too much time at her computer and<br />

prefers to be outside, with her family, and<br />

with a pen and paper and a cup of coffee.<br />


Support Us<br />

Visit Our Instagram for more amazing art and literature content<br />

Please consider supporting student artists and writers by making a donation<br />

to <strong>SandScript</strong>. All donations go towards student awards, and are not used for<br />

production or printing. Donations can be tax-deductible. For information on<br />

making a donation to <strong>SandScript</strong>, please email sandscript@pima.edu or visit:<br />

https://pimafoundation.org/program-support/<br />


Special Thanks<br />

With gratitude to our<br />

<strong>SandScript</strong> <strong>2023</strong> Genre Judges:<br />

Melissa Goodrich<br />

Naomi Ortiz<br />

Ernesto Trujillo<br />

Prose<br />

Poetry<br />

Visual Arts<br />

Lee Lambert<br />

Chancellor<br />

Dr.Dolores Duran-Cerda<br />

Provost & Executive Vice-Cancellor<br />

Keneth Chavez<br />

Dean of Communications Division<br />

Maggie Golston<br />

Department Head of English and Journalism<br />

Dina Doolen<br />

Marketing Communications<br />

PCC Foundation<br />

Pima Community College Board of Governors:<br />

Dr Wade McLean<br />

Theresa Riel<br />

Maria D. Garcia<br />

Greg Taylor<br />

Luis Gonzales<br />

Additional thanks to:<br />

Frankie Rollins<br />

Gabriel Palacios<br />

Angela Moreno<br />

Kelly Lim<br />

Linda Price<br />

Leigh Ann Sotomayor and the PCC West Campus Proscenium Theater<br />



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