Part III

On Dying

Time For A New Pair

By Francisco Flores

The decaying smell measured

The number of events which took place

While wearing them.

The laces themselves were filled with blood.

Their age could be told by the number

of lives that had wore them.

These shoes were rancid,

Like when milk gets too old.

With many tears, and a number of colors

Which made up their hue.

Many men had grown old

Inside these shoes, but their time had come to an end.

New ones would replace them with new feet to fill.

Until they too had filled many.

Old Man 

By Topid Ogun

There is an old man in my street

Used to sing a song

Which facts have home in it

That putting forth total strength in fit actions

Will give birth to richest wisdom

That life lies behind us

And what is lost in seemliness

Is gained in strength

That fear always springs from ignorance

That it is one light

Which beams out of a thousands stars

As one soul which animates all men

That the literature of the poor

The feelings of the child

The philosophy of the street

The meaning of household life

Are the topics of time

That time is philosopher

That the law of all nature is in man

Because man is nature

The old man used to sing

That no peace without justice like K.R.S One

That ignorance is myopia

And everybody is an expert to something

And an ignorance to something

That education is the key that open school

That slavery is a state of mind like Saul Willams

That revolutionary mind is change to its society

Because revolution is the root of peace

Oh the old man used to sing this song

Which i will never forget its lyrics

El Tiempo

By Nadia Contreras

Las mareas,

los astros,

los labios, el fuego,

el hielo inexpresivo,

las cosas del mundo

que quieren ser alcanzadas.

Dejemos, pues,

que esto suceda.

Toda una década

haciendo el ejercicio

con disciplina:

hurgar la sustancia fundible de los ojos,

las venas aglutinadas,

la entraña donde se anida

lo incalculable, lo incoloro,

el glaucoma degenerativo

de las tardes nubladas,

las noches,

el despejado techo.

(Los ojos de mi padre,

se despiden del mundo, su crueldad,

su deteriorado espectáculo;

el color amarillo de la sombra,

no cambia el corazón dañado, dice.)

El ejercicio,

lo imposible

para alcanzar las cosas,

la luz

de profundas cavidades.

 

 

La Calavera, La Luna, Y La Valiente

Linda Hernández

Graphite Drawing

 

Strange Light

By Lorraine Caputo

It’s a strange light today

that bathes this

Day of the Dead

A strange stillness

shrouds the silent streets

A man walks by

a single white rose

swaying from his hand

sweeping, gathering

some memory

A strange light

that burns the eyes,

a metallic, a plasmic odor

stinging my nose

A strange light

… illuminating ….

…. what?

A Certain Aftermath

By Anjela Villarreal Ratliff

His beloved tool collections grew like mice in our garage: wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers of all sizes gradually expanding into the yard. When he died, we didn’t know what to do with them. Had our own by then. Though I took the garden

clippers that trimmed and trained his fertile citrus trees, I cannot bring myself to use them, half-rusted and too large

for my small hands. I took his large key assortment. Can’t say what they opened. I’d planned to glue them to a surface, frame

them. Instead, they sit unopened. I took one of his varied hats. He loved them all. His six-foot frame so debonair with a white vaquero hat gracing his French, Spanish, German features;

sharp contrast to our lovely mother’s short, dark, Mexicanness.

They loved each other to the end. He lived three years after her, never again would tool, hat or key serve him. One day, I will open the box, examine all his keys . . . unlock more buried recollections.

The Chile Fields of Guanajuato

By Jerry W. Bradley

Families come from the highlands to the flat farms

to pick tomatillos in Jalisco, bag coffee beans

in Veracruz, and machete cane in Chiapas.

In Baja they de-stem strawberries, but in the chile fields

of Guanajuato children too young to pick play naked

in puddles while babies sleep in the shade of trucks.

Sometimes there are snakes in the rows;

occasionally someone is crushed by a tractor

or pitched from an open bed.

Some drown in irrigation canals or are struck

by disease. The survivors sleep on hard floors, snore,

rule the abandoned empire of their dreams.

They Roll the Tarp

By Naomi Ayala

Over the tool truck bed

unfurling the blue morning

move as if winter didn’t weigh down on the body.

Markets could fall and do their dead cat dance

and they would be willing and able

to put in the decorative cabbage, the mums

clean up the sidewalk afterwards

return to dreams of maybe tomorrow when…

For now, they move near the front stoop trails

of rat excrement and pedestrian refuse

make way with shovels and pots

causing the rats to take to tunnels, squirrels

to disperse among the coal black bones

of trees on the block, till one lifts

his head from the hedgerow—daughter stopping by

in Sunday best, newborn at the shoulder

—to say how glad he is

his wife gave him the sight of her

black curls in the wild air

so he could be a grandfather today

among these men.

Cognitive Dissonance

By Devon Hernandez

I linger in the neglect and silence

of Oxford graduates and Harvard affiliates-

retired white men struggling to find sense

through the perspicacity and braggadocio

of their written words

Have you ever considered me?

or was I just the trite, a recommendation

of good conscience?

Far less exciting than ventures into the subconscious,

My body, or the abstract

I say we’ve never met in dreams or remorse

because I don’t see myself in your words

but I can see your shadows in mine.

They’ve resisted your change

but now they don’t care,

and approach slowly, Love Struck

Pathetic, Seeking Embrace.

Cold fingers hold supple breasts,

Burning lips yearning to suckle

exuberance. I’ll taste ecstasy

You’ll grant them abuse,

and by day-fall I’ll know, we’ll know it meant nothing-

that I was more, that you were less.

My skin will be no antidote to what I feel and think-

the cognitive dissonance

Seasons of the Grave Moons

By W. D. Reyes-Mainoux

Round the sacred fire we sit and the great chief

Of the Apache great warrior Geronimo speaks.

In a dream he had coyotes were attacking a bear

Geronimo tells us the dream is from the Great Spirit.

The bear does not belong in the desert —

The bear is an invader —The beast devours peace

And must be driven off our homes.

A noble war is coming the scattered will gather.

The weak will strengthen and the giant will fall.

Geronimo asks us to join him and destroy the devils.

He reminds us of the devils that murder the earth

And their cavalry hunts — The elders want peace

They say forgive as the Anglo Christ says

Eye for eye is wrong — chief Geronimo says no!

Geronimo says “they sickness unto death

Their new god is hate and evil

Since we must die — let us bravely die

Not of old age but of fighting back brothers

let us bring freedom to them as they to us!”

The moon is a bright red which is an omen

We search deep into the raging flames

Some find the spirit to submit —

few find the spirit to resist

Yo, la vianda

By Monica Skrzypinski

Ciruelas carnosas,

Manjares de ombligo,

Higos erguidos,

Caireles de sonrisas iluminan mi extravío vagabundo;

Mientras te pienso absorta en la nada de tu virtual inocencia.

Acércate y acaricia mis frutas prohibidas, que la miel de la ausencia te pide.

Exhorto mis querencias,

Ruego tu presencia.

Manzana de misericordia tríptica,

Acércate e inhala mis urgencias,

Que te pido hoy,

Consumas mis anhelos exquisitos.

Texas Indigo Snake

By Isidro Montemayor

Black/ Blue/ Purple Ink Pen Sketch

Shades

By Lorraine Caputo

Cloud-muted sunset sinks into this Caribbean.

In the port, a banana boat has loaded its containers,

betraying the Company’s presence still in this region.

Families play in the warm sea

where almost eighty years ago

a train zoomed through the night

carrying a cargo of hundreds

of bodies from Ciénaga

to here—dumped far off shore

into these waters—striking plantation

workers, their women, their children

Grackles chatter in palm & almond in totumo trees along

this seafront. Ice cream bells chirp.

As the evening darkens blue, lightning pulsating, across

the heavens, the glow of the full moon crests the Sierra Nevada.

As night deepens, waves washing even, foaming.

As that ship steams away.

White Red Stains

By Jazmin Cruz

Mujeres hermosas

Mis mujeres

Muy hermosas

I hear them,

In the back of the

Jeep.

Sobbing, crying

Groaning and moaning

Pat her back

‘Shh. Estas bien,

No llores.’

The sobbing intensifies

Moans grow

‘Que te calles!’

Thrown on her side

The other girls silence.

Almost home, heartbroken

To donate my girls

‘Alberto, saca la meza’

‘Quien me llevó?’

Hold up her chin

Cheeks stained by tears

Beautiful, pure tears.

Save this one.

‘Llévate la rosita’

‘Rosita’ kicks and screams

I take the sorrowful one

It’s rickety,

Ashamed to have her see this

More clean tears

Swollen cheeks

So beautiful

So pure

Ella es toda mía.

Red bursts out her mouth,

Once beautiful mouth.

Same as the others.

Angered by

Sudden lack of

Purity

Was mine

Now belongs in hell.

‘Pura porquería!’

Takes one last fall

Eyes silently close

Now sleeps forever

As the rest of her

Gets shipped off to others

To share her

Purity.

Sardinas

By Griselda J. Castillo

descabezadas en latas ovaladas

meneando en salsa de tomate

las sardinas me recuerdan a

mi padre

cinco espaldas azules, empacadas

pancita de plata sobre pancita de plata

collares chuecos como su espalda

sentado en la mesa, son los puntos

de su bigote canoso

se las comía sobre galletas botoneando,

una isla jorobada dejando caller tenedor como tridente

pescando las caderas de sirenas

aceite y sangre ensuavecen cuadros salados

llevados por su lengua enorme a las tripas,

un cardumen de pez tragado tiernamente

si es conveniente a su boca, el pez morderá

confiando en la carne suave atada con ganchos

fue un buen hombre pero se atrapó

como sardina atraída al plancton

estirada a la baja por appetitos

lanzandola por las escamas

y en éxtasis no pudo escuchar

el tintineo de los anillos

no pudo ver la red encarcelandola

en una bolsa

The Island of the Dolls

By Jerry W. Bradley

The sons of ancient cultures

take legends seriously, and secretive men

respect simple signs: when an eagle perched

on a cactus in the middle of a dying lake,

the first Aztec souvenir was born.

Escaping Mexico City’s sprawl for the afternoon,

we board a non-motorized trajinera and pay the boatmen

to pole us through the Xochimilco canals

where (reportedly) the last axolotls live. The craft’s

floral arches are as ornate as the gates of mansions.

Soon a barge of mariachis draws near;

one extends his sombrero for tips,

as an enfilade of vendors speeds

close behind to fox us out of cash.

Just like the salamanders, we gringos are on our own.

The best-known of the floating chinampas

is Isla de las Muñecas, the Island of the Dolls,

where a loner once fished the body of a drowned girl

from the water. A doll washed up

the next day, and he hung it from a branch.

Today dozens of broken bodies, some decapitated,

others with severed limbs, adorn the trees and fences.

Their soulless eyes haunt the place;

rumors fly like the whispers of wailing women.

Only the charmed can hear the first sign of madness.

Inerme

By Monica Skrzypinski

Oficialmente su nombre era Casandra, pero desde antes de nacer, ya la llamaban Roela. Su mamá decía que se movía mucho y nunca se estaba quieta dentro de su vientre. “Nunca te aquietes…” le susurraba mientras se acariciaba su abdomen en medio de la noche. No la dejaba dormir; se movía constantemente. Creo que pasó nueve meses sin poder dormir.

Su padre tenía la costumbre de no poder estarse quieto, siempre se movía, aunque estuviera sentado, movía un pie o jugaba con sus pulgares, pero nunca estaba inmóvil; por eso desde antes de nacer, su madre sin querer la bautizó clandestinamente con el nombre que llevaría de por vida, el nombre de su progenitor: Roel.

Roela fue inquieta. Su familia no recordaba un día en que hubiera estado sentada jugando con sus muñecas. Por el contrario, constantemente andaba afuera, trepada en las copas de los árboles. “Bájate, muchacha loca” le gritaba su abuela. Pero eso no bastaba. La chiquilla tenía la habilidad de un mono, destreza que era envidiada por los chavales  del barrio. No solamente encumbraba árboles con gran pericia, corría como gacela y poseía el mejor tino para las canicas.

Su colección de esferitas vítreas era incalculable. Tenía sus preferidas, como las que ganaba después de un difícil juego, o aquellas que su papá le regalaba tras bambalinas, acompañadas con un guiño solapador. Su juego favorito era el rombo que con su tiro que la caracterizaba, el “chiras pelas” la hacía una contendiente de peligro. Su mamá y su abuela reprobaban su elección de juegos y los niños ya no querían jugar con ella, porque estaban conscientes de su pericia y para no variar se quedarían sin sus preciados tesoros.

A pesar de todos esos atributos un poco masculinos, Roela exudaba feminidad por todos sus poros. Siempre traía atadas sus

trenzas con coquetos moños de colores. Se aseguraba de cruzar

sus pier nas una vez estando en la copa del árbol. A petición de su abuela, usaba hermosos vestidos de algodón de colores llamativos, siempre y cuando fueran amplios y le permitieran subir las ramas con su acordada soltura.

Era única y su madre lo sabía, por eso nunca le preocupó su machorrería. Sabía que algún día esa etapa pasaría y que su hija sería la señorita de sociedad que siempre había soñado.

Al pasar de los años y el abandono de las trenzas, Roela nunca se había enamorado de nadie, a pesar de todos los pretendientes revoloteando a su alrededor. No sabía lo que era “sentir mariposas” en el estómago como sus compañeras de clases clamaban sentir un día si y el otro también. Quería sentir esa sensación que le robaba el sueño a sus amigas, ese revoloteo del que tanto platicaban. Parecía ser un sentimiento transformador. Ellas le prometían que el momento en que las sintiera, quedaría prendida de aquél que lograra esa conmoción en sus vísceras. Tuvieron razón, Roela las sintió y quedó cautiva del cosquilleo al instante, sin embargo no sólo sintió las alas batir aceleradamente en su estómago, sino recorrieron uno a uno sus sentidos, culminando en el sentimiento más erótico que jamás hubiera imaginado. Se consumía.

Caminaba del brazo de su padre en la calle principal, como quien tiene todo el tiempo del mundo. Atractiva, femenina, segura de sí misma.

Roela la vio, ella era nueva en el pueblo. Ambas se miraron con un sello de complicidad. Mariposas. Zonas erógenas que no existían en su mapa corporal, clamaban su nombre y delineaban fronteras. Desde ese día fueron inseparables. Pero al mismo tiempo las habladurías no se hicieron esperar.

Roela no entendía por qué su familia estaba tan distante con ella

y al mismo tiempo tan molesta. Ella no había cambiado;  seguía siendo la misma de siempre.

Sus padres la sentaron en la sala, o por lo menos eso intentaron,

por que como era de costumbre, Roela paseaba de un lado a otro, dando largos y agitados pasos. No podía comprender por qué ahora que había encontrado las mariposas, su felicidad, se la querían arrebatar. Escuchó sin escuchar que ya la habían inscrito a un colegio de señoritas en la ciudad, “te vas mañana mismo”, “es por tu bien”, “estarás contenta” decían, pero lo único que su cerebro registraba era la pérdida. Iba a perder su tan buscada emoción y no estaba dispuesta a hacerlo. Había encontrado las mariposas y no las iba a dejar ir.

Subió las escaleras de dos en dos hacia su cuarto, iba enfurecida, perdida, ofuscada. Lágrimas que no pedían permiso le rodaban por sus mejillas. Se sentó al borde de su cama. Con las dos manos se apretaba su vientre. Lloraba en desesperación. Le faltaba el aire. Se levantó de la cama y con sus manos acarició el edredón de mariposas que cubría su cama. Delicadamente rastreó con la punta de sus dedos las alas del hermoso insecto rosa que adornaba la cubierta acolchada.

Después de un largo tiempo, su madre presintió que algo andaba mal; no se escuchaba ruido alguno. Sabía que cuando su hija estaba en casa, no había un minuto de silencio. No se oía nada. Subió las escaleras. Ya era tarde… llegó tarde… para cuando entró, Casandra ya había emprendido el vuelo… extendiendo sus alas como una mariposa.

 

When He Slept

By Naomi Ayala

The house would contract and expand

like a giant lung to accommodate him.

When he was awake

he had trouble coming and going

would eat too much, feel miserable.

Inside him everything was always

about to burst—the gnarled boughs

of old loves, his anger, hope’s trembling hands.

In the afternoon sun he drank his beer

and dug up the earth.

He was always too good for this

too good for that. Never trust a man

who keeps money in the freezer.

Trying Times

By Brittany Mendez

Reminiscing in the times we had; I can’t really say I missed any of them. I admit they were nice. Would I jump at the opportunity again, maybe. But then again, who’s to say what would happen in the moment? I do miss you, though. That, no one can hide. I’ve missed you since the day you left, and haven’t stopped since.

My best friend in high school was a stoner. He and I did everything together. We took trips together, laughed together, cried together. We never really felt the need for anyone’s approval. Society was our bitch. At least, we liked to think so. My friend was great. He could play the saxophone and guitar like no one’s business. We always talked about how he’d go to Juilliard and how we’d share an apartment. He’d start his career as a singer/songwriter. I on the other hand, had planned to become a corporate pig on Wall Street. Yeah, we were dreamers and our sense of humor was something you slowly had to succumb to. But we were doers. We had ideas and we went for them.

Granted, Terry was a little more passive about things than I was. There were times when his expression showed his being was at peace with the world, and there was nothing anyone could do to shake that from him. When Terry wasn’t smoking, he was working on his exit exams. See, Terry and I had tested out of a dozen AP exams. We studied hard because we knew what we wanted. There was no way we were going to stay in this shit town and rot with no purpose like the rest of the fools here. I was taught to dream and Terry was taught how to fend for himself. Together, we were unstoppable. I looked one way and he helped me get there. Times were great, until they weren’t.

Terry and I would sit in his mom’s car every day after school. Even though neither of us had our license, it’d didn’t stop us from going places. Terry would get in the driver’s seat and I in the passenger. He’d fix his mirrors, we’d put on our seat belts and he’d push the START button. Without a destination, Terry and I spent hours talking and imagining the places we’d end up in. Sometimes it was a general location, like Denver. We imagined ourselves skiing down mountains, consumed by the snow, laughing at each other because we couldn’t really get the momentum going. It was horrible, but it was fantastic. Other times we ended up at the Kentucky Club on the opposite side of El Paso. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not the safest place, especially for young ones like us. But we somehow survived; reason being was that we never actually left the garage.

I remember the first day I met Terry. My head wasn’t in the right place. Surrounded by ironic posters and oddly satisfying quotes, I laid dormant in the corner of my room. Tears falling, one right after the other, the inaudible banter slowly dissipated as I tried to find something to calm my nerves. It started to get worse; I sat there in fetal position, rocking myself back and forth. I couldn’t take it anymore! I took both my hands and slammed them against the sides of my face. I thought it would help the shaking, but it didn’t. Instead, it just felt like I was beating a drum to a rhythm that I didn’t know the words to. I started yelling, “Stop, stop, please just stop.” Tears were uncontrollable. An emotion I thought I could control slipped from under me and clutched the reins forcefully. It felt as if I was chained at the bottom of an 8 ft pool. Attempting to hold my breath long enough to where I could somehow reach the surface. Shaking frantically, I realize that there was no one there to save me.

My tears subsided and I finally made out the sunlight peering through my window. The prominent rays stood silent as I mustered enough energy to get closer to them. That’s when I first saw him. I peered through the window and there he was. A boy, probably the same age as me, lying ever so comfortably under this ginormous oak tree. I remember thinking how solemn the look on his face was and wondering if he ever had “attacks” like I did. But probably not. In that moment he looked perfect. He looked as if he was at complete peace with the world. It made me jealous. I stared at him for a while, it seemed like a lifetime. Surprisingly, just the simple sight of him at peace calmed me. It was as if he’d spoken to me without words. I finally felt at rest. So much that I fell asleep on the windowsill. That was the best slumber I ever had. I’d begun to dream of clouds and the infinite possibilities that lay ahead. There were no restrictions or reality to what I could do.

I found myself sailing in a vast sea where I could jump out at any point in time and lay floating alongside the boat. Birds were humming softly and the wind caressed my body. The sky was a gentle blue and after a few moments of drifting, the sea became sand: luscious, peaceful sand, the kind that you could sink your feet into and then escape effortlessly. Gorgeous palms rustled against one another as the sea rhythmically danced with them. My dream was hindered by the steady beat of a fist. My eyes unexpectedly rushed to the sound. Upon regaining consciousness, I realized he was outside my window. Franticly, my eyes bulged and I cringed, frozen. He smiled and loudly asked, “Do you always fall asleep on your windowsill? If so, I kinda dig it… What’s your name?” The window was sealed and I was debating whether or not I should open it.

“Sarah…” I managed to mumble.

“SARA? I can’t hear you. The window’s kinda closed…”

The nerve of this boy… I mumbled a little louder. “It’s Sarah…”

“Sara… I still can’t hear you.” He exclaimed as he pointed to the lock on my window. Talking to myself, I thought, “This guy isn’t going to stop, is he? And he’s mispronouncing it! Fine, I’ll open it, but only to correct his pronunciation.” So there I went; I stood up and tried to reach the lock. But my body pressed up against the glass and I didn’t feel like I was ever going to reach the lock. So I tried to explain to him that it was impossible for me to open and he looked at me in disappointment. He shook his head, picked up his eyebrows, and glanced over at the bottom of the window. He looked me straight in the eyes, put his hands out in front of him, as if he was giving thanks to God and raised them. I was beyond confused and he did it repeatedly. After realizing I wasn’t getting it, he shook his head again. Frustrated, he pointed at the bottom of the window and then followed by doing that God praising thing. It finally hit me. He wanted me to try to push up the window. Dumbass. I looked at him… as if I hadn’t already tried that. I grabbed the corner ends of the window and lifted. Shit. It was already open. Fuck.

He started laughing uncontrollably and my face filled rose, as if someone had just taken a strike. After a few moments, he composed himself. Extremely smooth, he tossed his head and said, “Hey, how’s it going?” My face still vibrantly flushed, I glanced at him briefly and then gawked at the ground.

“Hey, it’s okay. It happens.” He said.

My eyes slowly lifted and I stared into his kind eyes, muttering, “It’s Sarah.”

“Sarah? Oh, not Sara. I’m sorry, I couldn’t really hear you earlier.”

“It’s fine. I just had to tell you because sometimes people get mad if I don’t correct them when they mispronounce my name.”

“Oh. I see. So Sarah… Do you usually fall asleep on windowsills like that?”

“What?… Oh. No, not really.”

“Hmm, so what was the inspiration this time?”

“What..?” I’d been staring at his face and how there was hardly any stubble, only perfection. His beard was neatly trimmed and his entire face was so clean. He was a very handsome guy. He stood humbly at 5’ 8,” with fair light skin. He had blue eyes and a beard that seemed so perfect, you’d thought God himself handcrafted it.

“Sarah…” He humbly asked…

“Sorry, I was just trying to comprehend your question. Could you say it again?”

“Oh, I was just asking what inspired you to take a nap on the windowsill.”

“Ohh…” I awkwardly said. “I….umm, I don’t really know.”

“I see. Don’t talk to strangers and all that jazz, hmm?”

“Well, no, not really. I, um, I just…”

“It’s okay.” He looked at his watch and said, “I have to get going now, catch you another time?”

“Mhmm.” I nodded and he walked off.

Half way down the street, I realized he never told me his name! I stuck my head out the window and yelled, “Hey.” But my yells are equivalent to that of a mouse. He wasn’t able to hear me and it was then that I thought I’d never see him again. Fortunately, I was wrong.

Two days passed and it was Monday again. I woke up to the yells of my mother, “You’re late. Get your ass up and get in the car.”

“Yes mother…” I murmured under my breath, with my eyes rolled back and an attitude so strong it embedded itself into the walls. I jumped out of bed, washed my face, brushed my teeth and then changed my clothes. I’m not much for pants, I prefer shorts or a nice skirt, but for some odd reason, I’d decided to wear jeans and a fitted T. My jeans were fairly new and didn’t have much wear to them. My t-shirt on the other hand was a little more eccentric. It was a solid grey and it hilariously read, “ I can be your private dancer.” The laugh I had when my friend had given me the shirt, priceless. The shirt itself was brand new and I really hadn’t found the right occasion to wear it, but that day was different. I didn’t really care about what other people said. I did take a cardigan, just in case the admins had a problem with it. While my mom was yapping my ear off about the fact that ‘I’ made her late, I got in the car and put on my lipstick and mascara. She dropped me off at the school parking lot and she sped away. I watched as she went from 10 to 50 mph and she disappeared into the morning sun. The bell rang and I had 3 minutes to make it to English, which was on the other side of campus. I walked attentively, staring at all the sloths that seemed as if they hadn’t heard the bell. Shuffling feet, misdirection and banging of lockers reigned throughout.

As I grabbed the door of my English class, there he was. Leaning up against the navy lockers immersed in a book that I never actually got around to finishing, which is a shame, because the first half that I read was actually pretty great. So that’s why I’d never noticed him before! It was the beanie. He was always wearing a beanie. I usually tend to stay away from boys who wear beanies. They seem to be nothing but trouble. Mystery in their eyes and hair that never seems to grow correctly, ending up either curly or wavy, adding to that stereotypic scene. Something about them just attracts me and I don’t like it. I stayed frozen for a second, looking his direction and just my luck, he turned the page and looked up. He smiled and I frantically responded with a half smile/awkward look.

“Hi…” I managed to muster.

“Hey.” He replies with a big grin on his face.

Our conversation was cut short, thanks to the brutal reality of the tardy bell. A security guard took him to the principal’s office and I, frozen, was rudely brought back to reality by my teacher’s comment.

“The world will not be waiting for you, Sarah. Would you like to join us for class today?”

The audacity that woman had. You give a teacher a little bit of power and they think they can rule the world. The entire time in class, I couldn’t bring myself to think straight. What could his name be? It must be something dumb like Jacob, John, or Joseph. Please God, don’t let his name be Matt. I bet you he skates, too. He just has that look. I was drawn to him, but simultaneously repulsed. I couldn’t choose.

Mrs. Analise dismissed class with her assessment on the great Langston Hughes and 2 tedious homework assignments that were due promptly the next morning. I gathered my things, put them in my bag and walked towards my next class. To my surprise, there he was, just outside my classroom.

“Hey.” He uttered.

“Are we ever going to have an actual conversation?”

I chuckled and said, “It depends…”

“On?” he replies.

“On what you want to talk about.”

That was the beginning of an unbreakable two-year friendship. Soon enough, I learned his name. It wasn’t too bad. I also learned that he liked to smoke. And I discovered I didn’t entirely hate the smell. Terry came from a broken family. His father left him and his mother when Terry was one. Terry’s mom always provided for the two of them. She’d pay the bills and Terry would do the chores. Terry never questioned his mother; neither did he blame her for his father’s absence. Terry would only smoke when he wanted to get away from it all, unfortunately for him, that feeling came often. He explained to me how I was the only person he could really talk to. Other people would come and go from his life, but I wouldn’t. I was the only thing that actually stayed constant while the entire world shifted. And so, we held on to each other for dear life.

I’d spend most of my afternoons with him, studying. In the course of 18 months, we’d managed to get our GPA’s from sad 2.3 -2.4’s to my 3.8 and Terry’s 3.9. It’s not that we suddenly felt smarter or anything; it was the fact that we pushed each other to do better so we could both escape. Sometimes I’d stop and think of where we would end up but my mind would go blank. It’s nothing but white walls at every turn. Other times I imagine us head over heels in love with our career paths in New York. I’d get home and bitch about how much money I was supposed to be making. Terry would get home and look at me, only to ask, “Where do you want to go now?” Constant long enjoyable road trips. Sometimes it was to Boston, other times to Augusta. There was never a dull moment. Terry never let there be.

Then came August 13th, 2012. A date I’ll never forget. We were driving back from a Lukas Graham concert; it was probably three or four in the morning when we left the after party. I was drunk off my ass and Terry told me it was okay. Terry wanted me to let loose and have fun. He said I deserved to. I don’t remember him drinking. I think he decided to stay the responsible one. I honestly don’t remember how much I drank. I lost count after the 7th shot. But I do remember getting in the car and talking to him. We’d decided to stay the night at a hotel because our houses were too far to drive that late at night. All I remember was heading to the hotel with my bag in hand, sitting in the passenger seat as you drove. We were listening to the Beatles and as the chorus continued, we sang, “Here comes the Sun…” A rush of fear jumped me as ‘the sun’ made it’s way to us. A few hours later I woke up at a hospital two towns over. I was so confused. Once I finally realized that I’d been in a car accident… I started to ask for

Terry. The doctors kept giving me weird looks. I kept asking them, “Where’s Terry? What have you done with Terry?!”

“Terry!” I yelled. “Where are you?”

But no one gave me a straight answer.

My mother showed up shortly after I woke, asking if I was okay. She was scolding me asking how I could be so stupid, going to a concert by myself. I tried to reassure her that I wasn’t by myself that Terry was with me. She began to yell at me, saying, “Stop that. We’ve talked about this. There is no Terry.”

I looked at her appalled. I knew she never really liked Terry, but to say he didn’t exist, that was a new low. Every time I tried looking for Terry, the doctors would sit me back in bed and press a few buttons on that IV machine. A few times they even shot up this clear little tube with God knows what. All I remember was falling asleep soon after; they probably did that a total of ten times in my stay there. Each day I’d get up and look for you because none of those bastards would give me a straight answer.

I knew there was no way you had died because you promised me that we’d never leave each other’s side. So every day, there I was looking through the rooms, until they caught me and put me back in bed.

On my last day there, they didn’t find me. It’s as if they’d given up putting me back in bed and just let me run around reckless. I returned to my room out of my own free will. But when I opened the door, I saw a manila folder underneath my food tray from earlier that morning. I didn’t remember putting it there. The nurse probably forgot it when she was taking out the trash or something. I walked over to the folder, grabbed it and laid it open on my sadly colored bed. The mesh of dirty white and tan sheets seemed to only unveil death and highlight the loneliness in the room. Under “Sarah Walker” it read, “Possible Schizophrenia.” Unrelentingly, the word rang in my ear, again and again. Schizophrenia, Schizophrenia, Schizophrenia. Why did that word feel so familiar? My head couldn’t comprehend. I didn’t understand why I felt there was so much truth in that word, Schizophrenia.

 

Biographies

Gideon Cecil is from Guyana. He is a prolific poet, fiction writer and freelance journalist. He holds a bachelor and a master’s degree in divinity also a degree in freelance journalism. He has won several literary awards at home and abroad. He has published poetry, short stories, essays and articles in magazines, journals and newspapers at home and abroad. He has over 300 poems, articles, stories, and essays published from 1993 to 2016.

David Aguilar received his M.A. in English from UTRGV, working with the University Writing Center. He is a poet, a linguist, and an educator.

Junior Prado is a 22-year-old East Los native who started writing poetry when he was first incarcerated at the age of 12. He began taking writing more seriously when his high school English teacher Mr. E told him he should pursue a writing career.

Katherine Brittian was raised in Midland, Texas where her mother was intent on creating Katherine in the image of the WASP. Katherine found her freedom from societal constraint at Texas A&M, also finding her husband. Degrees in hand, the Brittains moved to the Rio Grande Valley where Katherine’s husband was in produce and her kids were in St. John’s Episcopal Day School. After midlife crisis struck, she found her calling when taking an Anthropology class at Pan American University.

Jesus Cortez is a poet from West Anaheim, California. He is a child of a single mother who immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 9. Jesus has been writing since high school. His work is inspired by life, struggles, and hope.

Charles McGregor teaches composition and creative writing at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. His poetry, often dealing with queer issues, can be found in modest literary magazines such as Xenith, Enhance, No Infinite, Boundless, Portland Review, and The Missing Slate. Follow him on Twitter @CMcgregor209.

 

Nadia Contreras (Quesería, Colima, México, 1976). Escritora. Licenciada en Letras y Periodismo y maestra en Ciencias Sociales por la Universidad de Colima. En la Universidad Autónoma de La Laguna cursó la Especialidad en Educación. Urdimbre [de] cuerpos y palabras (en coautoría con Marisol Vera Guerra (Ediciones BV, Octubre 2015); de ensayo literario: Pulso de la memoria (Universidad de Colima, 2009) y de relatos, El andar sin ventanas (2012).

Linda Hernández graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Texas at Brownsville. Post-graduation, she has worked for several camps as a junior counselor. In her free time, she enjoys drawing and writing.

Devon Hernandez was born and raised in Brownsville, Texas. She graduated with a double major from Sam Houston State University.  She has been writing since she was young and has through to her adulthood participated in many poetry readings.  Her work has been published by Sam Houston State University’s Literary Review.

Francisco Flores was born in Rio Grande City Texas in April 25, 1990. He is currently a student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Francisco graduated with his Bachelors of Arts in English in May 2016 and has begun graduate school.

Puerto Rican poet Naomi Ayala is the author of three collections of poetry (Wild Animals on the Moon, This Side of Early, and Calling Home: Praise Songs and Incantations). She works as a freelance writer, editor, and teacher, and lives in Washington, DC.

J.A.GomezM (Jaime Armando Gomez Montoya) was born in Mexicali, Mexico and raised in Fullerton, CA. Love of stories has been his passion with theatre as the vehicle. He graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a B.A. Theatre Arts 1982. Community

College Teaching Credential 1989. Instructor Fullerton College. He has worked primarily as a playwright.

Trier Ward is a mother, poet, and scientist. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and performs at open mics in the area. Her poetry appears in various anthologies and online forums including The Nervous Breakdown, Bohemia, and Mad Swirl. Her first book of poetry, Bruises and Love Bites, is available at lulu.com. Her second book of poetry, The Hollowscape, is forthcoming in 2016 from Penhall Publishing. To contact Trier, write to trierward@yahoo.com.

Ivanov Reyez was an English professor at Odessa College. He is originally from McAllen, TX. His poetry has appeared in Mizmor L’David, The Café Review, The Mochila Review, The Mayo Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Afterthoughts, Belleville Park Pages, and other journals. He is the winner of riverSedge Poetry Prize 2015 and has received a Pushcart Prize nomination in fiction. His short fiction has appeared in Texas Short Stories, MOLT, and elsewhere.

A scholar-activist, Hathaway Miranda is a Spanish-English bilingual and bicultural Chicana/Latina. She earned her B.A. (University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign), M.A. (Michigan State University), and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at University of Illinois-Chicago. She has experience in university, early childhood, and high school settings. Additionally, she has conducted research on race, ethnicity, and culture issues, child and human development, Spanish language use, families of children with special needs, quality of life, farmworkers, nutrition, and healthcare access.

Dr. Melba Salazar-Lucio, daughter of Maria Elena and Baltazar Salazar, was born in Edinburg, Texas and raised in Brownsville. Lucio has taught in secondary public schools and is currently teaching writing and composition courses at TSC and UTRGV. She married the love of her life, Juan David, and has 3 children,

Monica Leah, David Daniel, and Erika Teresa. She also works for the University of California Berkeley as a National Writing Project Consultant and travels conducting writing workshops in two languages.

Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 100 journals on five continents. She has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada chose her verse as poem of the month. For the past decade, Ms. Caputo has been journeying through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. You may follow her travels at Latin America Wanderer: http://www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer.

Priscila Montalvo is a creative person. She likes to write poems. She is currently attending her first semester in college. Priscila lives in Los Fresnos TX.

Robert Hinojosa moved to the Rio Grande Valley in 2001. Prior to moving to the Valley he had spent his youth on various US Air Force military bases where his father served as a military law enforcement officer. Robert was born in Landstuhl, Germany where he made the first of many friends from different cultures. Robert had never considered a hometown until he moved to the Valley, and now calls it home. Robert is currently an education major at UTRGV.

Sarah Rafael García is a writer, community educator, and traveler. Since publishing Las Niñas, she founded Barrio Writers. Her writing has appeared in LATINO Magazine, Contrapuntos III, Outrage: A Protest Anthology For Injustice in a Post 9/11 World, La Tolteca Zine, Lumen Magazine, among others. Sarah Rafael is currently the Editor for the annual Barrio Writers anthology and Co-editor of the Pariahs: Writing from Outside the Margins anthology.

Anjela Villarreal Ratliff is the author of several chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in various publications, including Cantos al Sexto Sol: An Anthology of Aztlanahuac Writing, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga, The Enigmatist, Blue Hole, 2014 Texas Poetry Calendar, Australian Latino Press, di-vêrsé-city 2016, Boundless 2016, and the forthcoming Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems. A native Tejana, she lives in Austin, Texas.

W. D. Reyes-Mainoux, “Reyes” is my mother’s maiden name and I feel it deserves recognition. I am a grad of the old UTPA and earning a second degree at UTRGV. I believe decolonization is a very important issue and if not addressed it can lead to separation of one’s culture. Parts of history are deleted and I think if explored it will lead to a better understanding of the world.

Aurora Rebeca Ramos is a young Chicana writer from Los Angeles, currently living in the Bay Area. She has a degree in English with an option in creative writing from CSU East Bay.

Marissa is a high school teacher and adjunct instructor in Fresno with MFA roots in San Diego.

Fernando Meisenhalter is of German ancestry, raised in Mexico City, a full-time immigrant in the US since 1995, and a God-fearing citizen since 2002. He’s MFA-free, has somehow survived the brutal gentrification of the San Francisco Bay Area, and still writes flash fiction. He received an honorable mention at Glimmer Train’s 2010 Short Story Award for New Writers, and was short listed for the Brilliant Flash Fiction Magazine’s 2016 Writing Contest.

Daniel de Culla (1955) is a writer, poet, and photographer. He is also a member of the Spanish Writers Association, Earthly Writers International Caucus, Poets of the World, and others. Director of Gallo Tricolor Review and Robespierre Review. He has participated in Festivals of Poetry and Theater in Madrid, Burgos, Berlin, Minden, Hannover and Genève .He has exposed in many galleries from Madrid, Burgos, London, and Amsterdam. He is moving between U.S. and Spain and has more than 70 published books.

Mónica Skrzypinski tiene una maestría en Creación Literaria de UTRGV y la carrera de Ciencias de Comunicación en la Universidad del Valle de México, Campus Querétaro. Trabajó como corresponsal de “Woodlands.” Se desempeñó como editora de boletines mensuales de la Asociación de Industriales del Estado de Queretaro y de la Asociación de Tenis. Trabajo varios años en relaciones públicas y ahora trabaja para una organización sin fines de lucro, como Oficial de Desarrollo. Mónica vive con su esposo y su hija en McAllen, Texas.

Jerry Bradley, winner of the 2015 Boswell Poetry Prize, is Professor of English at Lamar University. He is the author of 8 books including 3 poetry collections. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, he has published in New England Review, Modern Poetry Studies, Poetry Magazine, and Southern Humanities Review, and he is the long-time poetry editor of Concho River Review.

Temitope Ogunsina a.k.a topid da poet is a performing Poet and journalist from Oyo State in Oyo town Nigeria His poetry has been featured in a number of anthologies: I am poetry anthology (2013),fearless poet against bully (2014),Emanation: foray into forever (2014)display at the American literature Association Conference (2015) at Boston and was in Kent State University and Belmont College library.Spoken lnk: written Collection: volume 1(2014),Stolen Flowers (2015),Reclaiming our voices(2015),Muse For World peace first edition (2015) which was featured in World Poetry Peace and Human Rights Exhibition (Feb 3 – March 30 2016) at the University of British Colombia – Canada., Outrage: A protest anthology for injustice in a Post 9/11World(2015).Hark back to ancient and rebuild the world(2015) and in Maganda magazine: Critical Mass(2015)The Criterion ; International journal in English Vol.7 issues 1(2016).

Sergio A. Ortiz is the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He is a two time Pushcart nominee and a four time Best of the Web nominee. His poems have been published in over five hundred Journals and Anthologies.

Serge Deleon is an up and coming Latino Culture Artivist from the frontera of the Rio Grande Valley. Majoring in English, Deleon is also minoring in Mexican-American studies and is looking at pursuing his MFA or Masters in Anthropology. Born in Monterrey Mexico, but growing up in McAllen Texas, Deleon carries a unique perspective of border culture as he finds himself most relating to the “hyphen” in the classification “Mexican-American.”

Brittany Mendez is a writer and an aspiring poet from Deep South Texas. As a travel enthusiast and a full-time grad student, she spends her days discovering new places to write. From riding a helicopter through snowy mountains in Southern Alaska, to exploring the wondrous heart of Graceland, she is constantly on the lookout for adventure.

YoLuke Mendez is a computer savvy, technology driven individual. Luke spends his time as a full-time student, studying computer information systems. He also shares his passion through his artwork. Luke sketches, draws and shares his talent, through his family, in hopes of one day being a graphic designer for Disney.

Cal Ramos is a Criminal Justice major at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He is well versed in psychology, government, as well as technology. Cal developed a passion for art through photography. He strives to capture pure, authentic emotion in every photo.

 

About the Editors

 

Dr. Christopher Carmona is a published author, as well as a Creative Writing professor at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). He always finds a way to integrate interactive lessons into his classroom. He has spent well over a decade educating young minds in various literary genres, from poetry to screenplays. Two of his former students, Elizabeth Alanis, an ambitious editor, and Brittany Mendez, an aspiring poet, collaborated with Dr. Carmona in effort to provide UTRGV students with even more opportunities. Together they worked on the Chachalaca Review, an annually student run anthology, composed of art, photography, poems, and fiction from members of the community.

Elizabeth Alanis has a BA in English from UTRGV and is in the process of obtaining her Masters of Science in Publishing from the University of Houston-Victoria. She hopes use her knowledge and skills to become a Managing Editor, but is also interested in the marketing aspect of publishing. Due to her background in education, she would like to host writing/ literary workshops for community members. Her vision is to contribute to the spread of the literature and the love to read.

Brittany Mendez also graduated from UTRGV with a BA in English. Brittany is currently working towards her Masters of Science in Non-Profit Management through Our Lady of the Lake University. She hopes to use the knowledge she has gathered thus far to create a nonprofit of her own that unites low-income schools from around the nation in effort to provide better learning techniques for future generations.

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