Forum Magazine, Fall 2012

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Fall 2012
City College of San Francisco

Editor’s Note
This magazine is the product of collaboration, compromise and concession. It is more than that, too. It is the product of its time, the hungry and desperate now of late 2012. It is the product of this city  —  the glorious (and difficult) city of Yerba Buena, the Good Herb. It is the product of this institution, this City College of San Francisco (with all its facets and foibles). It is a product of the community. It is the students gathered in the courtyard. The individuals who came forward and believed in something and stood up and contributed a part of themselves to these pages. This is no easy thing you hold in your hands. It is a lump of mud. It is a wreck in a storm  —  a collision of dangerous minds and passionate visionaries and an educational institution in crisis. It is a room full of voices shouting to be heard. It is bureaucracy and democracy and deadline. It is sleepless nights. It is frustration. It is being knocked down over and over again. It is the strength to stand up and speak; it is the strength to stand up and listen. It is success and it is failure. This is not a career path. This is a passion. This is inspiration and dedication to literature and the arts and the weird curative path of publication. The towers of publishing are falling, crumbling and crashing down all around us. But we would build new towers. Maybe not towers. Maybe we'll start with a wall. Just a little wall of mud and words and dreams. We'll put it over here. And while we're at it, lets build another wall over there. Put some poems in that one. Non-fiction? Of course we could use some non-fiction. Put it over there, by the visual art pieces. That's not so bad, is it? Now we've got a little courtyard. It is exposed to the elements, it won't keep the rain off our heads, and when the storm hits ... well ... we'll worry about that when the time comes. But ... we've got a rustic little enclosure. Flawed, perhaps. But quite charming, in its own way. And it's a perfect place to meet. To tell stories and discuss our ideas in an open forum. Please, won't you join us? — Jerome Steegmans Editor-in-Chief Forum Literary Magazine 2012-11-14

Copyright © 2013 — City College of San Francisco. All rights remain with the contributors. No portion of this journal may be reproduced in any form, printed or electronically, without the permission of the authors. Forum Magazine · City College of San Francisco, 50 Phelan Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112 · Cover Images by Susie Inks: Front — Unity (Pen and Ink); Back — Merged (Pen and Ink)

  Editor’s Note 


Submissions Policy
We at Forum would like to thank the following people and groups that have helped make this publication possible: Ms. Bob Davis, Dean of Liberal Arts Tom Bogel, Dean of Instruction Jessica Brown, English Department Chair The English Department of CCSF Colin Hall, Lorraine Leber, Cat Brewer & Chloe Montgomery of the Graphics Communications Department John Isles and Louise Nayer Ellen Wall CCSF Bookstore & Green Apple Books Student Activities and the Inter-Club Council Del Monte Steve Pineda Luke Sweeney Brick and Mortar Music Hall Noise Pop Everyone who attended Forum readings and anyone who submitted to Forum Magazine. And especially the contributors and donors who helped keep the literary and art community of CCSF alive. Forum Magazine is looking for original works of Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Memoir, Essays, Comics, Photographs, Paintings, Etchings and more — anything literary or artistic. Forum accepts submissions from City College of San Francisco students, alumni, faculty and staff. 1)  Email submissions to [email protected] Multiple submissions are allowed. However, send only one submission per email. Submissions must be sent as an attachment. Submissions copied/pasted into the body of the email will not be accepted. a)  Be sure to include the genre, your name, and the title of your submission in the subject line. Like so: Fiction - Denis Johnson - Train Dreams Written works should not exceed 2500 words. Excerpts from larger pieces are welcome. TXT, RTF, ODT or DOC formats preferred. b)  For Visual Art pieces, also include the phrase ‘Visual Arts’ and the medium of your submission in the subject line. Like so: Visual Arts - Pete Doolittle - Vibrating Happy Robot X - Acrylic on Glass Visual Art submissions must be either JPG or TIF format (vector art can be a highquality PDF), and pixel dimensions must be NO LESS than 1600 x 2400. All art will be printed in black and white. For a piece to be considered for the cover, it must have pixel dimensions no less than 2400 x 2400. 2) Title attachments according to convention as the email subject line: the same

Genre - First & Last Name - Title - Medium (if applicable).extension For example: a)  Fiction - Denis Johnson - Train Dreams.doc b)  Visual Arts - Pete Dolittle - Vibrating Happy Robot X - Acrylic on Glass.tiff 3)  In the body of your email, briefly state your affiliation to CCSF (drama student, former librarian, department chair, etc), and include a short bio (50 words max). Alternatively, submissions may be dropped off in person at Batmale 564 at the CCSF Ocean Campus, or mailed to: Jen Sullivan Brych, English Department 50 Phelan Drive, San Francisco, CA 94112


Thank You

  Submissions Policy 


Editor  Managing Editors  Fiction Editor  Assistant Fiction Editors  Non-fiction Editor  Poetry Editor  Assistant Poetry Editor  Drama & Screenplay Editors  Visual Arts Editors  Online Editor & Business Advisor  Social Media Editors & Marketing    Jerome Steegmans   Kat Cabral & Carmen Ojeda   Seth Luther   Chaz Anderson & Aaron Christopher Arnold   Kelsey Lannin   Natalie Saunders   Shawn Morrison   Britannic X.O. Zane & Benjamin Cooper   Dane Manary, Gabriela Alessandroni & Zach Dougherty   Stephen Buck   Benjamin Cooper & Britannic X.O. Zane

Staff, Officers & Advisors
Lead Events Coordinator  Assistant Events Coordinator    Benjamin Cooper   Britannic X.O. Zane Fiction Readers    Guillermo Chavira, Shelly Davis, Jordy Lynch,   Carmen Ojeda & Stephen Buck Poetry Readers  Readers    Will Jones, Ursala Harris, Gabriela Alessandroni & Julia Wood   Josafat Rodriguez, Christianne Kotoff & Sasha Khoshkhou

Club Officers
President  Treasurer  Inter-Club Council Representative    Stephen Buck   Carmen Ojeda   Aaron Christopher Arnold

Graphic Design    Emerge Studio   Graphic Communications Department   Cat Brewer & Chloe Montgomery

Jen Sullivan Brych, Seth Harwood, Lorraine Leber & John Seckman

Colin Hall, Johanna Rudolph, Sergio Valdez

iv Editors

  Staff, Officers & Advisors 


4 a soft white blanket   19 Facing It  41 Nightlight  68 Annual Check-Up  75 Where the Sand Meets the Water    Jerome Steegmans   Monty Heying   Aaron Christopher Arnold   Guillermo Chavira   David Graham

11 24 Hours on Muni (excerpts)  37 Through the Shadows    Devin Holt   Anna Geyer

vi Fiction

 Non-Fiction  vii

2 Comfort  7 Tobacco  9 Words  17 in this Land i Roam Free  23 Lapse  25 Rhythm of the Words  32 On the Language of Termites  35 Family Portrait  39 A Cold Winter's Day  51 Representation  64 In Dying Light  66 When You Come Out to Dance  71 Varnish  73 Perfection  83 Haunted  85 Sphinx    Maya Archer-Doyle   Sierra Ventura   Monty Heying   Tsubasa Ohkawa   Maya Archer-Doyle   Lewis Baden   Aaron Christopher Arnold   Sierra Ventura   John Silverman   Vincent Cheng   Jerome Steegmans   Tatiana Lyulkin   Maya Archer-Doyle   Jerome Steegmans   Elizabeth Lee   Maya Archer-Doyle

27 The Dinner Party  55 Numb  87 Homegrown    Britannic X.O. Zane   Amy Covell   Britannic X.O. Zane

viii Poetry

 Screenplay  ix

3 In Space  6 Skyline Graffiti Shack  8 Mariposa  10 Reflection  16 Rabbit Mask  18 Sittin' in Flowers  22 Lakeside Tree, Morning  24 Moai Doll 2  26 Karen  31 Untitled  34 Rise  36 Antelope Canyon  38 Noir Night    Julian DeMark   Justin Karfs   Gabriela Alessandroni   Asta Karalis   Janice Chuang   Carmen Ojeda   Esther Mugar   Floyd Solders   Sandra Halloway   Dane Manary   Susie Inks   Wai Kit Ching   Karla Rossi 40 Birches  50 Tlalpan  54 Within Eyeshot  63 Cambodian Pig Fishing  65 Femininity 5  67 Black Lily  70 Behind the Curtain  72 444 Market  74 Mari  82 Beacon  84 Living Room  86 Spring    Esther Mugar   Carmen Ojeda   Karla Rossi   Darya Shahvaran   Stephanie Moore   Maya Archer-Doyle   Asta Karalis   Nathan Wirth   Gabriela Alessandroni   Nathan Wirth   Julia Sperling   Julia Sperling

x Art

 Art  xi


by Maya Archer-Doyle
A darkness comforting, rather than some gruesome home for fear. I would celebrate it. I would worship it. I would use it like perfume and astronomy to chart a course for joy if I had those cartography skills. I would find an ecstasy in the sun. I would bathe in it. I would trust the white afternoons to carry me on their shoulders, so that I might see the horizon with its dusky ribbon holding the evening lightly, the way a mother pushes the hair off a child’s brow or a lover's hand might graze the waist of the beloved.

Sometimes, I wish at night while the street lights are standing guard and the deepest shadows heave themselves beneath the stuttering cars. I wish to step out into the latticed blackness into the dark, with the web of windowed lights and blinkering awnings and find only darkness, a darkness akin to the past, how we will never know it. If I was to walk out, down the worn carpeted stairs swinging through the iron gate and find only wet soil and glittering grass, the tall buildings shedding granite shavings and snowy glass with brute sorrow and gnarled fists towards the teeming sea, I would return to the water’s edge. I would follow this genealogy along its ivory course that trails a wedding veil to the moon.

 Comfort  2

a soft white blanket
by Jerome Steegmans
A soft white blanket of snow stretched out across the rooftops and over the streets. I walked out the door, watching heavy flakes spiral down out of the grey-white silence. They clung to the power lines in little desperate groups that would swell and slip and ultimately fall, dragged down by their own weight. One length of wire shrugged off its ineluctable burden again and again. Three, four, five times. Each time, as the snow collected, I imagined the line would stretch and sag under the gravid white swelling  —  I kept expecting it to snap back like a bowstring once it sloughed off its charge. But again and again, as the snow slipped silently from it, the blackcased line only seemed to quiver against the blank sky and sag a little lower. In the silence, I could feel each snowflake weighing down upon me, pressing into my thoughts. They turned over and over in my mind, until I could feel each flake as a unique moment. A moment gone by, an opportunity missed, an action to which I did not respond, or a challenge I had shrugged off and let fall to the ground without facing. 2 In Space | Charcoal White| Julian DeMark We have friends over for dinner. “He let me put my vibrator in him last night,” my wife says at the table. “In his ass.” I turn red. “You said you wouldn’t tell anyone …” After our friends have gone, she says “It’s your fault, you know. If you hadn’t made such a big deal out of it, no one would have believed me.” 2 We let the dishes pile up. Plastic bags full of garbage sit tied by the door. 2 She binges. She purges. She pulls out her curls. I find a Häagen-Dazs pint container filled with frothy vomit and pubic hair. 2 I let her pluck out my own pubic hair. She grips five or ten of them at a time between thumb and fore and middle fingers, and with a painful twist, she jerks them free. And it hurts. But … “I can’t wait to put it in my mouth,” she says. “It’s gonna be amazing … so smooth.” Only, she doesn’t put it in her mouth. She loses interest somewhere between the plucking and the sucking and I wake up the next morning with a swollen scrotum and a vague feeling of malaise I can’t quite pin down. “What’s the matter with you?” she asks.


  a soft white blanket 


“Nothing,” I answer. “I can tell something is bothering you. What’s wrong?” “Nothing. Nothing is wrong.” I say. I don’t know that I am lying. 2 The phone rings. She’s calling from a friend’s place. She’s drunk, says she’ll be home soon. She calls a few hours later, from some bar. She’s high, says she’ll be home soon. She calls an hour later, from a professional football player’s hotel room, the sounds of glassware and music and revelry crowding out her voice. “Can you believe it?” She asks. Can I believe it? “When are you coming home?” “Soon.” She comes home just before dawn, and I go to bed. “I was worried,” I say. I have to be at work in three hours. 2 One night, she doesn’t come home until the next afternoon. I watch the phone. I watch the clock. I imagine ice crystals drifting gently to the floor. They swirl into little eddies as currents of air sweep through the room, pushing them into drifts, into banks that collect in the corners, covering the baseboards, covering the electrical outlets, reaching higher with each passing moment. I’m sorting dirty laundry on the floor of the living room when she comes in. She sits on the couch and looks at me. She looks fragile. Vulnerable.

I look at her. “I …" she says. She has a hard time getting started. Her voice is unsteady. There might be tears in her eyes. I look at the clock. I look at the laundry. She tells me about a man who made her feel something. He bought her flowers, she says. Made her feel special. Made her feel wanted. She went back to his place. They had sex. She slept in his bed. I feel something. I don’t know what it is. I feel cold. I feel hot. Something presses down upon my tired body. I’m half buried in the snow, skin burning with wet heat and ice. I see her through the haze of a soft white blanket. Her face is blurred and pale. I move closer to her, and I kiss her. She kisses me back. We fuck. Right there on the couch, we fuck. Amidst the banks of snow, we fuck. In the drifts of dirty laundry, we fuck and it is something. It is something hot and angry, and I feel it. I feel something. The snow doesn’t melt, but we are making something. It isn’t love, but we are making something. Afterward, that something is gone. “I’m late for work,” I tell her. “Finish the laundry.” Outside, a soft white blanket of snow stretches out across the rooftops and over the streets. I walk out the door into the grey-white silence, pretending not to notice as she starts to cry. Skyline Graffiti Shack | Photography | Justin Karfs

5 Fiction



by Sierra Ventura

Mr. National-News says people are unable to recognize danger unless it compromises their freedom /car. Filling their lungs with tar they sit as a disaster occurs deep inside. A festering wound, a tumor of bone. Alone they sit watching Mr. National-News. Alone they sit in the nicotine womb.

Mariposa | Drawing | Gabriela Alessandroni

7 Poetry



by Monty Heying
On my first try at surfing I rented a board in Hawaii, and after three attempts caught some of a half-spent wave that lifted and carried me to the beach. That’s how it feels when the words are coming fast and smooth, like being lifted and taken by an invisible force and on arrival knowing there will always be more waves and that I couldn’t stop them if I tried.

Reflection | Photography | Asta Karalis

9 Poetry


24 Hours on Muni (excerpts)
by Devin Holt
On Friday, June 8, I left my house with the goal of riding Muni for 24 hours straight. I wanted to get lost at home, find hidden pockets of the City, and take my mind off the daily drudge. These were my rules when I left: To ride as many lines as possible from start to finish. To use only maps posted at stops, or free ones from a visitor's center — no NextBus and no Google Maps. If I’m at a crossroads, I’ll take the next bus that comes. I took some notes along the way: 7:45 am 27th and Judah: People with jobs From my apartment it’s two blocks to the Inbound N Judah stop. The train comes right away, like it’s waiting for me. I find a seat, settle in and finish my breakfast — a banana. People on the train are quiet. They wear heavy sunglasses and stare at the floor or at their phones. Eyes are glazed over, ties hang untied — sniffles and coughs ripple through the crowd. These are people with jobs, people with 401Ks and babies on the way; these are people with paychecks. By Van Ness the train is packed, but still no one speaks — it’s like a rolling library. Most passengers exit at Montgomery or Embarcadero — one last day at the office before the weekend. Once-cherished seats are now plentiful and I sprawl out, putting my feet up as the train comes back above ground into daylight. For once, the fog has lifted; the sky and the bay reflect a cool blue off each other, and the train passes under the Bay Bridge. A thin mist of smog floats over the industrial parts of Oakland, and I notice a few clouds. Sixty-five degrees and partly cloudy. Who would have thought? When I had this idea to ride Muni for 24 hours straight, I didn’t think about where I would use the bathroom, but when the N stops, bathroom thoughts are flowing like a river. I hurry across the street into the Caltrain station and handle my business. Relieved, I walk back across the street and step onto the T platform, where I board the Southbound train. Mission Rock is already buzzing with activity men in hard hats work surrounded by tall fences with PRIVATE PROPERTY NO TRESPASSING signs. When I moved here, this neighborhood was empty space and old warehouses, but now it’s filling up with fancy condos and tech offices. When we reach Bayview I hear, “Garble, garble, static, mechanical problem, static, garble, garble, thank you for your patience,” out of the train speakers and everyone laughs. A man in the back yells, “In other words, we're late as usual!” We pass vacant lots, KFCs, gas stations and barbecue joints. Occasional luxury condos cast shadows over single family homes and the Ebony Beauty Supply shop. In San Francisco, when you see condos popping up, you can expect rents to skyrocket  —  pushing out families and long term residents. Looking out the window at stunning views of the Bay, I realize it is only a matter of time. Around Candlestick, an older man with a leather jacket and graying black hair gets on. He leans into the driver's cubby for two or three stops and they discuss the day’s news. “That was Billy that got shot yesterday,” he tells the driver before stepping off. I ride the T to the last stop at Bayshore and Sunnydale, on the border of Daly City. Just a few more steps and I would be out of San Francisco. 1:52 pm Jackson and Fillmore: Hard seats, slow rides, and bumpy hills The bus is empty when I board the 10, so I ask the driver about the route. “Where do you want to go?” he asks. I don’t want to go anywhere, which is hard to explain to a bus driver. He’s friendly and asks if I’m from The Examiner. Apparently, someone at The Examiner is known for walking an entire bus route, leaving at the same time as the bus to see who gets to the end first. The fact that this is even vaguely possible says more about our public transportation system than any newspaper article. When we get downtown the reality of this project sinks in. 24 hours on Muni means 24 hours of hard seats, slow rides and bumpy hills. 24 hours of “back door” and “do you go to blah, blah, blah?” The sun seeps in through the windows and pushes my eyelids down. I snap out of my daydreams when the bus rattles and shakes going up, up, up to the top of Potrero Hill. We zig and zag all over Potrero Hill, and then wind through run-down public housing with excellent views of the bay. The residents here  —  almost exclusively African American  —  hang their laundry out to dry while the young girls lounge around on steps or corners, sucking on lollipops. The boys strut back and forth with baseball caps pulled down over their faces. At 23rd and Kansas we pass over Interstate 280, a line of cars building up on their way into the City. The 10 has it’s last stop at 24th and Potrero  —  my old neighborhood. 5:00 pm Looking for the N Express: “Usually on time" When I find the stop, there is a long line of people waiting. The N Judah is the longest train line in the city and carries the most riders. It’s also famous for broken doors, perpetual delays, and a bizarre failure to understand that a Giants game at AT&T Park means there will be more people than usual. “The express is better than the train,” according to Ivonne, a data entry worker from the Financial District. “It’s usually on time,” she says. Ivonne

11 Non-Fiction

  24 Hours on Muni (excerpts) 


explains that the express is a “trial run,” although a driver told her they probably wouldn’t cancel it. When I tell her what I’m doing, she gives me a piece of advice I have heard over and over. “You should probably avoid certain lines at night.” Each time I hear this I shrug it off, but deep down I’m a little nervous. I find a seat easily and ride out towards the beach with the TGIF crowd. Most people stare into space or at their phones. One woman crochets, pausing every five minutes to cough, and a few people read magazines. Everyone looks trampled, like they waited all week for the weekend but are too tired to enjoy it. The N Express doesn’t stop until 19th Avenue but we make up for it by being stuck in traffic. To distract myself I turn to my book, making sure to look down at the page when we pass my house — otherwise I will go home, crawl in bed and make up the rest. The N Express deposits us at Ocean Beach. Midnight at the beach: Lost at home I walk down La Playa towards Taraval. It’s a long walk but I know the L runs all night, and it starts somewhere by the SF Zoo. This is the same zoo where, in 2007, a tiger jumped out of its enclosure and mauled three people, killing one and chasing the two bloodied and screaming survivors to the zoo cafe. Imagine that: you're chilling, drinking a coffee and thinking about penguins when BAM! Rampaging tiger attack. Maybe I’ll walk a few blocks up, instead of waiting by the zoo. It’s cold and windy so when the L comes I’m happy to see Muni again. I ride downtown through West Portal, Forest Hill and the Castro, in what feels like a holding

pattern. I’m getting sleepy and the lines are running together into a mishmash of directions, route maps, and irate passengers. I spend the next few hours this way, somewhere between consciousness and sleep. I go into downtown, I come out of downtown. The lines and the people run together: they go up, they go down, from east to west and north to south, from rich to poor and beginning to end. I slip in and out of conversations about weed, hicks, and pornographic Santa Claus parties in Northern California. A man on a cell phone searches desperately for a cell phone, “It’s only because it’s the second one,” he yells before getting off. “The next L will be the last service of the evening. The J is next,” comes over the speakers in a downtown subway station. The man’s voice is clipped and practiced, like a human imitating a computer. I slump into my seat and nod off. Out here, floating around in the corners of the city, I am too tired to care — there is no loneliness, no anxiety, nowhere to go or to be. I run out of water, and energy. Finally, I am lost at home. At 19th and Taraval I wait thirty minutes in the cold wind for the 91 Owl. I pace back and forth on the corner, shivering and seething. When it finally comes, the driver is auditioning for Go Speed Racer; I can only steal a glance at the Golden Gate and the Palace of Fine Arts before we’re on Lombard where the stoplights slow us down. Soon the bus fills up. A local has latched on to a group of young foreigners. “You know what gave ya’ll away? You wearin’ shorts, nigga! So I know you can’t be from Frisco.”

His logic is undeniable, their small T-shirts and knee high shorts are hopelessly out of tune. One of them knows how to beatbox, so the man busts a freestyle for the late night crowd on Muni. He neezys and beezys, shizzles and thizzles  —  a red ballcap worn sideways and a cigarette under one ear  —  his raps peppered with “West Coast” and “bitches,” finishing up with “Stop the tape, cause I’m fixin’ to make this grape!” The 38 is bumping too  —  women in short skirts that can’t walk in heels cling on to each other. Every stop brings a conglomeration of stumbles, missteps, and curses. Two rows in front of me a tall, lanky, blond-haired boy with a thick Irish accent sways back and forth yelling “Are you from America? Is anyone from America?” When he finds a friendly face he leans down, “Do you know where I can get any,” and here he tries to drop his voice to a whisper, but fails, “Asian pussy?” His new friends snicker and laugh. Instead of helping, they ask about Ireland. “I’m from a little village, when I come here, I’m like  —  look at all the tall buildings, ohmygosh. In Ireland, when you see a drink for 99 cents, that’s all you pay, 99 cents. It’s a simpler nation.” “How are the Ireland girls?” He pauses. “They’re not nice.” At the beach, the driver pulls up to a small outpost, walks off the bus, opens a locked door and goes inside.

Quiet slips over the cabin, broken only by one man’s snoring in the back. After a minute, a man in a black leather jacket, red baseball cap and blue jeans walks to the door, which is still open. “I’m watching out in case somebody tries to come in here,” he explains, puffing his chest up. “I’m not trying to get my ass shot. I’m watching out that door in case somebody trying to come in here with a gun to kill someone.” When the driver comes back, they slip into a conversation that feels like a jazz riff. “I just got back from Atlanta, man. Man they killin’ people left and right in that city!” “They doin’ that here too.” “Yah well, I’m gonna do what I gotta do, ‘cause if they gotta gun, I will run.” “The one who runs fast, is the one whose life lasts,” calls back the driver. 5:30 am Fillmore and Bay: Like a Disneyland ride for old people Sitting at the bus shelter in the cold quiet of daybreak, I stop caring. I don’t care about getting stories from drivers, how many lines I ride, or if anyone ever reads this. I just want to go home. When the 22 comes back, the driver says nothing. He doesn’t recognize me. I step up and tag my Clipper card — beep. The 22 ends where 3rd street and 20th street intersect. I take the 48, and meet the nicest bus driver so far.

13 Non-Fiction

  24 Hours on Muni (excerpts) 


Juyanni explains to me that bus drivers, especially at night, avoid talking to passengers. If they get too friendly, “they could put themselves at risk.” Her voice has an easy tone, which she uses to coax our struggling 48 up Potrero Hill. “This bus is acting like it’s not gonna go up this hill,” she says, so calm that I don’t stop to wonder what happens if it doesn’t. We pass through the views and the projects from yesterday, then down to the Mission, taking 24th street all the way through Noe Valley. In some places the hills are so steep and cramped that if another bus is coming, one of them has to wait. Juyanni never breaks a sweat, or looks the least bit nervous, steering an exhausted Muni bus through an obstacle course at 6 am. The 48 ends at West Portal, where I take the K Outbound. I’m checking out the exclusive subdivision look of Ingleside, when I hear a familiar voice talking about airplanes and Atlanta to the driver. For some reason, this excites me. I mean, here we are, two guys riding the bus around all night. How can we not be friends? When he gets up to walk around the car, I tell him I saw him on the 38, but he gives me a suspicious glare and walks back towards the driver, who is clearly ignoring him. The K ends at Balboa Park, where the J begins. I get off the train, walk a few steps, and wait. One last ride from start to finish. The J is a nice ride to go out with. It passes through neighborhoods that are cute, without being pretentious, and up hills that have good views, but aren’t too steep. It’s like a Disney ride for old

people. After two or three stops, who should pop in, but our pal Atlanta? “I thought my cousin was in here,” he states matter-offactly, with a “Hey Padna!” to the driver, taking a seat up front. Close to downtown, Atlanta gets antsy. He stands up and starts dancing in the aisle  —  no music, no headphones. Then he walks towards me and says “You following me?” I shake my head no. “I’ve seen you three or four times,” he tells me. “That’s too many times. I’m gonna have to have my people check you out. Make sure you ain’t five-o.” This worries me. Atlanta goes to the front of the car and yells, “I need to get to BART!” at the driver. At Van Ness, he gets off and gives me the I know you’re following me stare. It’s tempting to tell him there is no BART at this stop, but I decide not to press my luck. 7:45 am Embarcadero Station: I feel like walking I walk across the platform to wait for the N; after 29 rides on 24 different Muni lines, I still have to take Muni home. I ride to 9th and Irving, where I stop for breakfast at Howard's Cafe. After my pancakes, I pull out my iPhone, hit the NextMUNI icon and survey my options. Best bet: the 71. I hustle down to 9th and Lincon and make the bus. But I get off before my stop. I feel like walking. Rabbit Mask | Graphite & Gouache | Janice Chuang

15 Non-Fiction


in this Land i Roam Free
by Tsubasa Ohkawa

poetic Presidents dare not stop me in this country Piss of thee for i am my own Land and in it i Roam free.

Prostitutes of madness stumble With finesse for i am my own Land a Blanket of caress.

Blackness not apart from the Whiteness so dark for i am my own Land bones Stones and Heart.

and i am a cow for i am my own land and in

death of the Soul but my Soul is Whole for i am my own Land an Ocean in a Bowl.

it i roam free.

Sittin' in Flowers | Photography | Carmen Ojeda

17 Poetry


Facing It

by Monty Heying
Anne walks to a window, wipes away the fog and gazes blankly out. Matt hasn’t moved. He has heard before that his mother’s new husband doesn’t want to raise somebody else’s kids, but Aunty’s words slam into him like a door caught by the wind. His voice is quiet. “She’s never going to come, is she?” His eyes search Aunt Carrie’s face. “I didn’t say that! Never say never.” Carrie winces. “I know Mildred wants to come for you … it’s just that … well … Troy has an ornery streak. He has a hard time holding a job. My stars! That man thinks the world owes him a livin’.” She looks away, mopping the sweat from her brow. Anne continues gazing out the window. Matt pictures Troy holding a cigarette between tobacco-stained fingers, his beer belly drooping over his belt. Troy seldom noticed him except to correct him over something stupid. But Mommy didn’t notice him at all. It was like being invisible. When visitation is over, Anne and Matt stand at the French doors and watch Aunt Carrie struggle down the steps toward East Lancaster. Matt says, “Mommy’s never going to come, is she?” “I wrote to our father,” Anne says, not looking at him. Matt’s eyes shine with excitement. “You wrote him? How’d you get his address?” “Mr. Logan got it for me.” “Did he write you back? Where is he?” “He’s in Germany, Baden-Baden. He’s still in the Army.” Her voice is flat, like she’s talking about the weather. “What did you say?” Anne doesn’t answer. “What did he say!” “He’s remarried.” She looks at him now. Her eyes are moist. “They’ve got a new little baby. He said we’re better off where we are.” “He did? Where is it? I want to read it.” Anne shakes her head. “I threw it in the incinerator.” She turns and dashes up the stairs. Matt folds the five dollar bill Aunty gave him and puts it in his pocket. He returns through the library to the boys’ wing and trudges up the stairs. At the landing, Mrs. Crow is coming out of her apartment with the box of dominoes in her hand. She grins and says, “Just in time. I need a ‘42’ pardner.” Matt lifts his hand in a partial wave and keeps moving. She stares after him. Matt goes into the bathroom and slings his jacket over the railing of a toilet stall. Propping himself with one arm, he leans forward and urinates, fighting the urge to vomit as others come and go behind him. He turns, and Joey’s there. “What’s wrong?” Joey says. Matt looks through him. “It’s bullshit,” he says. “It’s all bull-shit!” “What d’you mean?” Joey says. Matt goes out the door pulling on his jacket. “What’s bullshit?” Joey calls after him. “Where ya goin’?” Matt powers down the stairs and forearms the crash bar with a satisfying crunch. The heavy fire door bangs open and he is out in the swirling cold, running. The driveway gravel flies like sparks from his feet as he turns downhill. Pumping his arms and straining for speed, he races past the garage, past the clotheslines, down along the fence lined with barren rose bushes and crepe myrtles. At the flat bottom-land of the pecan orchard, he drops onto his back. He watches the pulsing of his breath whipping toward the restless limbs of the naked trees.

Matt looks at the fruitcake his great-aunt placed before him, but doesn’t touch it. He takes a deep breath, then blurts, “Aunty, why doesn’t Mommy come get us? She said she would almost four years ago!” Aunt Carrie sits back in her chair, caught off guard by the question. Matt’s sister Anne’s eyes widen in surprise. Carrie puts down the fruitcake, dabs at her lips with a napkin, and glances around the orphanage library. She leans forward and says in a soft voice, “Matty Joe, I don’t know. I just don’t know.” She shakes her head and sighs. “Mildred has a new family now, with Troy and Janet, and now Lisa. I …” She looks away and the tendons of her neck jerk in spasms. Wiping her eyes, she looks at Matt. “Fact is, Troy doesn’t want to raise somebody else’s kids. That’s just what he said n’ we might as well face it.” She looks at Anne, who crosses her arms and turns away. “The judge won’t let me take you ‘cause I don’t have the money. Aunt Juanita’s worse off than me, and Connie and Morton moved to Colorado to look after his folks. They’re getting old.” She sighs. “I’m getting old. I wish there was someone to look after me. Lee’s got cirrhosis.” She shakes her head.“Lord help us, I don’t know what this world’s coming to.” She looks at her hands and rotates her thumbs together.

19 Fiction

  Facing It 


Mommy’s voice rings in his head: We’ll come get you in a couple of weeks. Four years! Matt rolls over with his head on his arms and closes his eyes, remembering what Anne said: Better off where we are. Yeah? Better for who? Gradually he notices the hum of traffic from East Lancaster — vibrations through the ground of hurtling trucks and cars just yards away. The “thump-thump” of tires across the tar covered cracks in the road remind him of hot summer nights lying head-to-toe in the back seat with Anne counting the street lamps as they glide past the windows of the car  —  eleven, twelve, thirteen  —  the smell of Mommy’s cigarette and the reassuring glow when she takes a drag. Matt opens his eyes. It’s good to be alone. He inhales the smell of decaying leaves and listens to his breath. In, and out. In, and out. And he knows that there’s no one he can ever depend on. Not for anything. It’s getting dark as Matt gets up and climbs his favorite tree in the middle of the orchard. At the top he anchors a leg around a limb and rocks in the calming wind with his hands in his pockets.

He watches the visitors’ cars creeping behind their headlights down the curving driveway toward him. He blows into his cupped hands and presses them against his stinging ears and watches the exit parade until the parking lot is empty except for the green orphanage station wagon. He climbs down. In the dim light he trips on a fallen limb. With both hands, he swings it hard against the tree. Old Maid pecans rattle down and thump to the orchard floor. He grits his teeth and batters the tree. Shockwaves pulse through him. Pieces break and spin away and the limb gets lighter and lighter until the stub can break no more. He flings it away and finds another limb. Grunting, staggering, he swings and swings at the trunk, losing all sense of place and time. He stops, spits and looks around, breathing hard. It takes a moment to remember how he got here. The orphanage lights are on. It’s past suppertime. His hands are scored and bleeding. Steam rises, pulling the poison out of him into the cold. He feels strong. Clean.

Lakeside Tree, Morning | Drypoint | Esther Mugar

21 Fiction



by Maya Archer-Doyle
to try and remember what was taken for granted a history backing up the silt lapping behind eyes like something clogged when the tide of sleep rolls away the shore is left with the debris of everything I could not digest some moments softened some moments indestructible remaining serrated and toxic a pollution, a permeable memory that can’t be rinsed away unachievable, really to try and grasp one instance in the mind and not start to spin for if it were possible then I could recall how a particular drop of rain felt upon my face all of it and nothing in equal measure

Moai Doll 2 | Bronze | Floyd Solders

23 Poetry


Rhythm of the Words
by Lewis Baden

Rhythm of the words, sound of the beat. Superficial fine, spicy, sultry, sweet. Rhythm of the words, tone of the piece. Shallow or pedantic, different kind of beat. Rhythm of the words, feel of the sound. Eardrums, crack — opening, new connections found. Rhythm of the words, flow of the page. Hypnotized by ink, welcome to my stage!

Karen | Charcoal | Sandra Halloway

25 Poetry


The Dinner Party
by Britannic X.O. Zane
Opening Montage Gracie, a socialite, sits at a desk and writes out a todo list planning the details of a dinner party. Tasks being done in preparation for the event are intercut with her checking things off her list. A servant buys things at a farmers market. Gracie is picking out flowers and arranging a centerpiece.

Daniel chuckles as Muriel, his trophy wife, gives a polite smile. Dorothy, a sophisticated woman, rolls
her eyes and sips her wine.

DANIEL (continued) To Gracie and her new social standing. May she … Off screen
There is a loud sound of pots and pans being thrown as Chef screams.

Chef storms off. There is another uncomfortable pause as Gracie looks over her guests nervously and lets out another awkward giggle.

Muriel, have you been shopping again?

I assure you, I have no idea what he is talking about.

Really Gracie? Do you need to ask? After all, the new season's collections are starting to arrive and our last converted guest house won’t even hold my collection of Jimmy Choos.

Chef is cooking and going over the menu with Gracie.
A maid polishes silverware and sets the table. Gracie puts on her make up. Gracie checks the seating arrangement and lights the candles on the table. She smiles with pride as she looks over the perfectly set table.

CHEF (off screen) Mother Fucker! Shit! Get out of my kitchen you goddammed vermin.
Everyone at the table becomes awkwardly silent. Muriel gives a bitchy chuckle. Dorothy gives Muriel a look of disdain. Gracie giggles nervously. Daniel sighs and raises his glass to start his toast again.

Well it is hard to find good help nowadays. A zombie bursts through the kitchen door and attacks Daniel and starts eating him. Muriel watches in horror as Daniel is being attacked. Dorothy continues to casually sip her wine. Gracie jumps up out of her seat.

How unfortunate for you, Darling. Oh Gracie, Darling. Thank you so much for inviting us to break in your new dining room. I can’t tell you how much I have missed your dinner parties.

Gracie and her three guests are seated at the table, sipping wine and having delightful conversation.

Why thank you. I am so honored to have such distinguished dinner guests.

As I was saying to Gracie … Chef storms in waving a bloody meat cleaver.

GRACIE NOT AGAIN! You there! Zombie! Stop
that at once! That is my dinner guest and to allow one's guest to be devoured is not proper etiquette!

Gracie, I love the new additions to your home. You must give me the number of your contractor. Muriel and I are thinking about converting our second guest house into a closet.

Let’s have a toast. They all raise their glasses.

That is it, Madame. I told you before that I cannot create under these conditions. You cannot pay me enough to work with those pests in my kitchen. I quit!

Gracie! That thing is eating my husband! Dorothy continues to calmly sip her wine.

27 Screenplay

  The Dinner Party 


Oh relax, Darling. He did leave you with everything, didn’t he?

Zombie Gone? What’s that?

No, not everything. The insurance policy I took out on him does not cover acts of zombie! Dorothy gives an amused smirk and returns to her wine.

Why, Darling! Zombie Gone is the easy to use, no mess, odor-free zombie spray. The zombie finishes with Daniel and makes its way toward Dorothy.

Muriel. I hate her so much. I just want to take her Jimmy Choos and kick her and kick her until she dies, Darling. Dorothy and Gracie laugh. Dorothy looks directly into the camera.

Zombie Gone? What’s that?

Why, Darling! Zombie Gone is the easy to use, no mess, odor free zombie spray The zombie finishes with Daniel and makes its way toward Dorothy.

Seriously, Darling! Zombie Gone should be used with caution. Side effects of exposure may include: leprosy, fungal infections, anal leakage and uncontrollable flatulence. Gracie looks directly into the camera.


DOROTHY (continued)
Darling you just point, spray and … poof! Zombie Gone! The zombie is sprayed and vanishes.

DOROTHY (continued) Darling you just point, spray and …
The spray nozzle is clogged.

That’s it, I’m leaving. That thing just cost me a fortune! Muriel gets up and leaves.

You make it look so easy. And look! No bloody mess to clean up.

Zombie Gone is not recommended for huffing. Close up on the Zombie Gone Spray as a little jingle plays.

DOROTHY (continued) Oh shit! Oh shit, Darling. It’s clogged!
Gracie and Dorothy look at each other and scream. They look at the approaching zombie and scream. The zombie pauses and screams. The ladies scream again.

Muriel, wait. This isn’t going to reflect negatively on my social standing … Is it? … Oh dear. Gracie appears distressed as Dorothy puts her head on Gracie’s shoulder.

That’s right, Darling. It even comes in a travel size you can keep in that god-awful tacky thing you call your purse.

If they are in the house or on your lawn, be sure you’ve got your Zombie Gone!

Dorothy, may I ask you something?


You know, Darling, I use to have an unsightly zombie problem but I got rid of it thanks to Zombie Gone! Dorothy produces a spray can of Zombie Gone from her purse.

Of course, Darling

If you had Zombie Gone in your purse, why didn’t you use it to save Daniel?



Well, Darling, I just knew it would upset

29 Screenplay

  The Dinner Party 


On the Language of Termites
by Aaron Christopher Arnold
My roommates never speak to me, except only functionally, to tell me to turn off a light, or that they will be having a friend over, or that I neglected to put a certain kind of recyclable in the right bin. In the first year, this behavior unnerved me, and so I would fill the grave silences with hellos and I-left-rent-on-the-tables. They would humor me, toss an occasional word my way. But when they realized I wasn’t leaving this rent-controlled apartment, they fell into their natural click: they ceased acknowledging me altogether. Now, in this second year, I walk the hallways like a ghost, inventing reasons to speak. I am no stranger to silence, having been trained in the intricacies of keeping your wits about you when those around you are sworn to quiet; I’m adept in the ways of keeping my spirits up when no one sees me. At the monastery, this sort of thing was a matter of course: the down-turned gazes in the hallways, the shrouded and forlorn brows. But here, In this rent-controlled flat, there are no sutras to bolster and redeem the great silences that are erected between humans; no teacher to remind us of the holiness, the justification of silence. Here in this old house, the silence of my flatmates falls flat to them, returns to them, seeks only them for its reasons.

Untitled | Photography | Dane Manary


  On the Language of Termites 


But if an alien were to descend and spend a day in the monastery, and then spend a day in my rent-controlled flat, it would no doubt observe the same things: People busying themselves with quiet, busying themselves with the things all anchorites busy themselves with: Eating, cleaning, the brushing of teeth, the hushed muttering of arcane prayers. The substance of ancient religious beliefs, my old Archaeology professor once said, leaves no artifacts.

Rise | Pen & Ink | Susie Inks

33 Poetry


Family Portrait
by Sierra Ventura
Mother, I’m screaming. Mother, don’t coddle me. Your analyst says you're manic, but I know the truth. Mother, it isn’t fair. Look at me, growing larger by the minute, stupider everyday. LESS AND LESS articulate. The family sees it! I’m a failed experiment. The personification of bacterial infections and ant traps. Mother, I only say this because I care. It’s not your fault, it’s the drugs I forgot to buy. The cigarettes I didn’t smoke for whatever reason. Mother, don’t fret. I’m okay. I worry about you. Prozac isn’t cheap these days and I know we’re broke. But really I need ten bucks. Movies. Comics. Records I’ll never play. It’s something new everyday, Mother. The times they are a-sucking. Mother, I’m not clever. Don’t lie to yourself. I only picked up that book on engineering to look smart. Mother, I don’t know. I try. But then I don’t. I never know what I’m doing, don’t look at me. I wear sunglasses indoors because my eyes are untrue. Clouded by Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar. I don’t know why you subscribed to the New Yorker, I never read it. Articles too long, cartoons too high-brow. I’m not sophisticated enough. Don’t take me to Beverly Hills. They’ll just laugh at us. I don’t want to go to church, I’d rather just “meditate”. The Catholics don’t like me anyway and I’ve never been a hit with the Mormons. Mother, I’ll keep my stern face because smiling takes too much energy. Too much time. I have nothing to smile about. Go away, but don’t shut my door. I don’t want help … Rock Bottom is très chic. Vogue said so. But I don’t believe it. I’m laughing because it’s funny, Mother. Don’t tell me to put on shoes. Steve Jobs walked around barefoot! Don’t tell the neighbors I’m the next Steve Jobs. Mother, don’t talk about me. Don’t set up appointments with Vassar, Mills, or Mount Holyoke. I don’t want to talk to a representative. Mother, I want to play music. But guitars are expensive and obvious. I just want a typewriter. I broke his and now he wont talk to me. Don’t ask who “he” is. No, he’s not my boyfriend. I promise.

Antelope Canyon | Photography | Wai Kit Ching

35 Poetry


Through the Shadows
by Anna Geyer
Perhaps I should have interrogated her more thoroughly, but it was a single sentence in the midst of her entire spiel. Her goal was to sell me insurance and she had moved on to another set of statistics. Yet, I have not forgotten, “One in four Americans will be diagnosed with  —  or was it die of?  —  cancer.” At the time I thought, she works for the insurance company, they should know the numbers. After all, that’s what they do — play the odds. So if in a family of six, both my mother and father had melanomas removed. Does that mean the rest of us are safe? Two out of six is one-third and greater than one-fourth. Or does it mean Mom will not die, her procedure was successful and she’ll live past seven years? There is nothing left to eventually metastasize to her vital organs — her lungs, her brain. “With disability insurance you can have peace of mind during those difficult times,” the insurance rep repeated herself several times, changing the phraseology slightly to make her point before giving yet another disquieting example of what could be avoided with the proper insurance, as she diligently underlined the essential phrases of the brochure. It seemed the bald-headed woman whispered, “There is always hope, you must not forget.” She was seated across from us. I looked up. She appeared to be asleep. The room was full yet no one spoke or read the periodicals. Only the receptionist could be heard as she confirmed an appointment over the phone, then called the next patient. A story told through shadows, x-rays, MRIs, “points too numerous to count.” The doctor sat slouched, his chin resting on his hands, across the examination table he seemed likely to melt into. “It is a difficult moment when I must break such news, but there is nothing in this world mankind can do to keep you alive longer than six months. There is nothing more I can do; we have exhausted our options.” It was probably bad form  —  truly bad for morale for the two of us to cross back through the waiting room bawling our eyes out. But, I can be the emotional type, and waiting any period of time would not have changed things. He was not an emotional guy. I can count on one hand how many times I had seen my dad cry, but what was he to do? The waiting room was laid out much like a hotel lounge with seating spaced to maintain a certain solitary distance, and low ambient lighting  —  designed to inspire quietude. I pushed his wheelchair slowly forward through the tears. Everyone at that oncologist’s office knew what was up, yet no one looked our way. Perhaps it gave them hope — had their odds improved? Noir Night | Photography | Karla Rossi

37 Non-Fiction


A Cold Winter’s Day
by John Silverman
A cold winter’s day in western Connecticut, we drive through a valley frozen bare and white. Sun in the west hung low in the sky, bathes distant mountain tops in weak winter’s light. Our car zooms along toward oncoming twilight. We pass barns and fields deep in winter’s hold, driving with purpose the long passing miles a frozen still landscape iced white and cold. The valley is an open bowl, the far distant trees dusted with frost, hawks reel in the sky beyond. Somber, dusky darkness fills the frigid air and the day’s light dimming sets a blue mood. A flurry gives way to hard driving snow, the road obscured in shifting veils of white. We leave the main road, into sheltered woods, distant fields obscured by the darkness of night. Lending comfort amid the gathered gloom, through the dark forest’s trees, warm lights glow. Other people’s lives twinkle just out of reach like headlights falling on frozen snow. Birches | Etching with Aquatint | Esther Mugar

39 Poetry



by Aaron Christopher Arnold
“Can I sleep with you?” she said, as he tried to pass her. She spoke the words quickly, absently, as if she had said them countless times throughout her monotonous, sun-bleached day, as if it made no difference to whom specifically she was speaking  —  a greeting worn down like a gray river stone. The guy next to her widened his smile, his eyebrows going up. “Hey, yeah, you could have yourself some fun tonight, Boss. Miss Sue will suck yer dick all night, won’t you, Sue?” Then the laugh, a laugh that was like a nudge in the ribs or a slap on the back. She peered up at the man and squinted her eyes into the thinnest of lines. She whined at him. “Nooooo. I don’t have a place to sleeeep.” Abruptly, the guy with the baseball cap appeared to give up on some task he had just been pursuing. “Good luck, man,” he said, walking away, shaking his head side to side and chuckling. He assumed the man’s place by the newspaper box, burning through his cigarette in the hurried, shifty way of a smoker heading indoors at the end of a break. He glanced awkwardly down at Sue, avoiding her narrow, tired eyes. She muttered something under her breath that he couldn’t make out. He tilted his head down slightly. “Ineedaplacetosleep,” she repeated, cramming the words together. She continued to stare down at the pavement, dejected and dazed. She was simple, he thought, like a child, like a newborn creature that might die within weeks, like a miller moth or a fruit fly. He looked into the store for his usual cashier. The cashier was absorbed with selling long strips of lottery tickets to an old woman in a tattered overcoat. He thought about what Sue had said as he crushed his cigarette into the ashtray by the double doors. He went into the store to buy more cigarettes, a banana muffin, maybe some chocolate milk. From his spot in line he noticed Sue staring at him through the storefront window with a pinched look on her face, her arms tightly crossed, squinting like a housewife looking out her kitchen window, waiting for her alcoholic husband to come home. Now that she was standing, he could see her short legs poking out of the huge sweater she wore, which reminded him of a simple, tattered prisoner’s dress. Her thighs were disproportionately thick, substantial, like the thighs of a dwarf. “Just tonight,” he said as he walked quickly past her with his bag towards the park, glancing around to make sure no one had seen. 2 Sue walked quickly to keep up with his much longer stride. She caught him at the entrance to the park, as they stepped onto the concrete path. Oak trees towered over them, their branches interlaced, revealing leafy patches of sky and moon. “Are you a good man?” she asked. He turned to look back at her. Her short legs worked furiously as she struggled to keep up. Her arms were still crossed and she had pulled the sleeves of her sweater over her knuckles, straining and splaying the grimy woof. He thought she was as pathetic a thing as you’d ever see tottering around on that path, like a little baby bird he could crush if he wanted. “I don’t know,” he said. And then, “No, prolly not.” They walked in silence. “I think you are a good man,” she said, as if finally making up her mind about something she had been thinking about since the store. “I guess we’ll see,” he said, in a deliberately evocative way that seemed cruel to him as soon as he said it. “I’m scared,” she said, looking into the leaves and branches above, scrunching her shoulders against fear or cold. “I’m scared,” she repeated.

The first time he saw Sue, she was crouched on the concrete in front of the am/pm. It was the middle of the night and she was leaning against the wall, wedged between the stacked bundles of shrink-wrapped firewood and the newspaper box, a dirty, black knit sweater stretched over her knees. A paunchy, middle-aged man wearing a baseball cap was looking down at her, shaking his head and laughing as he leaned against the newspaper box with folded arms. She stared at a spot on the concrete while the guy laughed and talked at her. Occasionally she would crane her head up at him, raising her hand to shield her eyes from the glaring fluorescent lights on the awning above. As he drew closer he could see that her face was caked with mottled layers of dirt, sun-burnt skin, and makeup. Her bleached hair was tied up in a tiny squirt of a pony tail. From a distance, he thought she might be 20, but up close he thought she could be in her 30’s, maybe even 40. Her face was worn and odd, shaped like an almond or a football, her eyes long gray slits  —  wide, critical and languid. Her face had to stretch wide toward her temples to contain them. Her cheeks sloped together to the smallest of points beneath a mouth that, when closed, seemed no bigger than a Cheerio. She had no chin to speak of. Maybe it was a massive overbite, he thought, or maybe she had been in some unthinkable accident and lost her chin.

41 Fiction

 Nightlight  42

“What are you scared of?” “There’s people up there listening.” “There’s no one up there listening,” he said. “Yes there are. I can hear them rustling around,” she said. “Listen.” He stopped and peered up into the branches of the oaks, but all he could see was jagged triangles of moon and trembling tree. “No one’s there,” he said, walking again, hoping he would lose her, that she would go away and release him from this thing they had started back at the am/pm. Once inside his apartment, he began to notice the odor of gym socks and sex radiating from Sue. He told her she had to take a bath, setting her up in the bathroom with a towel and white terry robe. He paced the living room, listening to the comforting echo of water falling into the tub. The bathroom door opened a little and her dirty, chinless, almond-head appeared in the crack. Her thin, blond hair was out of its ponytail and hung wildly in her face. She looked feral: a wasteland wanderer after a bomb. “Can you wash my clothes?” she said in a weak, supplicative voice. “I don’t have a washing machine,” he said. “So, no.” She gradually withdrew her head from the opening and softly closed the door without saying a word. He leaned his back against the wall next to the bathroom door and listened to her splash in the tub. Closing his

eyes, he listened to her talk to herself, hum fragments of little songs, cough. Then the sound of the rubber plug being pulled, the croak of the receding water. When the bathroom door handle began to jiggle he quickly walked the four or five paces to the other side of the room and sat at his table. She came out in his robe. It was too big for her and trailed out behind her onto the marred red of the hardwood floor. He stood up and led her into the abandoned bedroom where the waterbed was. Sue walked close behind him. The waterbed, blocky and inelegant, had belonged to his ex-girlfriend. After the flurry of restraining and counterrestraining orders, she had vanished, leaving him to manage the maze of useless junk that had dominated the bedroom since she had moved in. She had brought the disassembled waterbed with her in spite of his protests (the landlord would not allow it; it was ugly; it would crash into the apartment below, he had argued, to no effect.) And so it had remained in pieces for almost a year, its planks and headboard resting forlornly against a wall in the bedroom. After she was finally gone, he had gotten drunk one night and decided to set the thing up, out of a combination of boredom and spite. It had taken him four hours to construct the bed, plank by heavy plank, and another four hours to fill it using a hose running up two floors from the parking lot. “You can sleep here tonight,” he said. He crouched down and turned the dial of the waterbed heater up a few degrees. “It gets cold without this,” he said. When he had first put the bed together, he hadn’t known waterbeds needed heaters, thinking they were optional.

He remembered the first weeks of trying to sleep on the waterbed, when the numbing cold of the enormous bladder-mattress had nearly killed him with pneumonia. He longed to be rid of the horrible thing, but it had taken him so long to assemble it, and he couldn’t even fathom what would be required to drain it. And so he had just abandoned the room altogether. He had been sleeping on his couch every night for a month while he decided what to do with the useless (and very heavy) sarcophagus that took up nearly the entire room. A short time later Sue came out to where he was sitting at his table and stood in front of him. “I’m scared.” “What are you scared of?” “It’s dark in there.” He looked up into her face. Though her eyes were underscored with crow’s feet and shadowed by dark anemic circles, Sue was essentially a small child. In the revealing light of his work table, her leathery skin contrasted with the wide-eyed way she spoke. Her clipped vocabulary, her habit of standing uncomfortably, intimately close and looking up at him — adults did not move or speak this way. Had her body been laying on a steel table at the morgue, lifeless and cold, there would have been all the physical signs of most 39 year-old women: fine wrinkles around the eyes, stretch marks on stomach and hips, callouses on feet and hands, etc. But with her eyes open, and the electricity of awareness flooding through her worn shell, a woman in the beginnings of an ignoble and malnourished middle age transformed into the simplest of children: a little girl

blowing through the grown-up world like a dried out piece of newspaper. “Do you want me to turn on a little light?” he asked. She stood in front of him, staring at the floor, her fingers contorting and clenching, as if she were grabbing an invisible towel, twisting and wringing it. There was something she wanted to say but could not. “Yes,” she said after a bit. He went into the bedroom, turned on the light, and opened the closet. In a shoebox on the floor, resting on some old bills, was a cheap Virgin Mary nightlight he had bought at a thrift store one day. Made of white plastic, the light depicted the Virgin Mary holding the Sacred Heart of Jesus close to her chest and pointing to it obliquely. He knelt onto the hard floor and inserted the Mary into the socket, then got up and turned off the overhead light fixture for effect. The Mary cupped the corner of the room with a pleasant, warm light. “There,” he said, taking a position behind Sue, who faced the nightlight, her face glowing as if she was standing in front of a small camp fire. “But I’m scared.” “Of what?” he asked, leaning close. They stood together in silence. She turned around to face him. “Can I sleep in your bed with you in the living room?” He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and exhaled. “No, Sue,” he said, backing away. She turned back around to

43 Fiction

 Nightlight  44

the nightlight, chewing her lower lip. “You’ll be fine,” he said, hesitating at the door, his back towards her. He walked out of the bedroom, leaving the door slightly open. In minutes, he heard the slowly diminishing splashes of the waterbed and knew Sue had gone to sleep. The next morning he asked Sue what she planned to do. She couldn’t stay here, he said. He couldn’t leave her in the apartment by herself. He put the banana muffin, the chocolate milk, a half sleeve of saltines, and a bruised apple he’d been avoiding for a week into a bag for her. He handed her the bag and opened the front door. After he got back from work, he found Sue sitting on his doorstep, the way she had been crouched in front of the ampm, her sweater pulled over her knees making it look like she had enormous, pendulous breasts. He looked down the long hallway both ways, expecting one of his neighbors to be watching. “How long have you been here?” he asked. “All day,” she said, avoiding his critical stare and withdrawing into her sweater. “Sue?” “What?” “Sue.” “Whaaaat?” “I thought we said it would only be one night.”

“But I needaplacetosleeeeeep.” “But Sue, we said.” She sat on his couch staring at nothing, her hands folded lifelessly in her lap, her back perfectly straight like a ballerina’s. She was hungry, so he went out and got them a sandwich. As he walked to the deli, he wondered whether it was prudent to leave a homeless person in the apartment by herself. But what did he really have worth stealing? A bunch of worthless paperbacks? A tiny black-and-white TV he watched Star Trek episodes on? When he got back she was still sitting on the couch, still sitting bolt upright. He set the table, throwing down paper napkins, plastic knives, and little packets of mayo and mustard. They split the sandwich. He could smell a warm column of pungent odor rising up from beneath the table. “Sue, your socks stink. You need to wash your socks.” It was easy to say blunt things to Sue. Her jaws stopped rotating, mid-chew, her Cheerio mouth slightly opened. She looked at him, shocked, as if he might be mad. “But I don’t know howwww,” she said, her tiny mouth a beige smear of bread and mayonnaise. “I’m not mad, Sue. But we gotta’ wash your socks.” After they had thrown the sandwich wrappers and napkins

away, she took off her socks and handed them to him wadded up in a black, moist little ball. Once Sue had gone to sleep, he dropped the socks into the bathroom sink. After filling the fake marble basin with hot water and some laundry powder, he kneaded the socks with his bare hands. They felt oily and slick and turned the water a brownish yellow. He flopped the threadbare socks over the side of the chipped tub to dry. He was standing by his table when she came into the living room and said she was scared again. He asked her about the nightlight. She said that it had gone out. They went into the bedroom. He switched on the wall light again and crouched down in the corner, taking the nightlight out of the socket. He brought it out to the table. She followed his movements closely as he disassembled the plastic housing, took out the bulb, and held it up toward the ceiling light. “The bulb is broke,” he said, placing the small bulb in her soft, pink palm. “How do you know?” “Cause that little string in there is broken. You can hear it, see?” He took the bulb from her hand and held it back up to the light, shaking it and following the subtle movements of her face. And so they walked through the park and down the big street to the 24-hour Walmart and got a new light bulb for the Virgin Mary nightlight. 2

In the morning he sat Sue down and asked her about her life. She had lived at a special home, she said, but ran away and had been sleeping on the streets. “Do you have a phone number for this place?” he asked. She said she didn’t know the number. “What’s it called?” he asked. “New Journeys,” she said. “But I don’t like it and don’t want to go back. They are mean there.” She crossed her arms tightly in front of her chest and looked out the window, a cartoonish caricature of a rebellious child. He said she had to leave for the day, but she could come back later. After she had gone, he got out the phone book and looked for New Journeys in the “Assisted Living” section. The place Sue mentioned was down the street from his apartment, on the other side of the park, a couple of blocks from the am/pm. He dialed the number and got someone named Karen. He told Karen he was calling about Sue. “Do you know anything about her?” he asked. Karen said that Sue had run away and they were looking for her. “Well, she’s staying with me at my apartment near the park,” he said. He asked her if Sue was any danger to him. Karen said no, that she was just prone to getting up in the middle of the night and bolting, that she hallucinated, had night terrors. “But what exactly is wrong with her?” “That is confidential information,” Karen said. He asked if they could come get her. Sue couldn’t come back to New Journeys, Karen said, because she had wandered

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off too many times, and because the whole arrangement was just too emotionally taxing on everyone involved. Karen said she didn’t know what to do. “Well, when are you going to find out what you are going to do, because she keeps coming over here. It’s starting to get emotionally taxing for me, as well. I need her out of here.” There was a long pause. “Can she stay there for a week?” Karen said. “We’ll know in a week. There may be a way to get her into her own place, but I won’t know until then.” 2 At the coffee shop, he ran into the guy in the rock band who lived down the hall from him. “I see you’ve met Sue,” the guy in the rock band said. He had hoped that none of his neighbors had seen Sue lingering on his doorstep, but realized this had been a foolish wish. Everyone knew. The guy in the rock band told him about his experiences with Sue. “She’ll just keep coming around, man. You gotta cut her off. Soon she’ll be asking to sleep with you. She suck yer dick yet?” And then the same toothy smile he had seen on the guy at the am/pm that first night. After he got off work, he found Sue sitting on his doorstep, next to a large television, a VHS player, and a rotary dial phone. “What are these?” he asked, waving his hand at the stuff. “It’s my TV and a recorder and a phone. Where I stayed last brought it.” He closed his eyes for a frustrated instant and tried to envision her last situation, the situation that produced

all the metal and plastic now sitting on his doorstep. “Let’s get this stuff inside,” he said, rolling his eyes in his head, looking down the hall both ways again. Everyone on the floor was probably peering out their peepholes or listening at the wall. Screw it. “Just help me get this stuff in, okay?” he said. Sue deliberated for a second, then picked up the small phone and walked in. She plopped down on the couch and silently waited in her ballerina pose, the phone resting in her lap. Keeping the door open with his hand, he kicked the TV and VCR into the apartment with his boot. That night, after she had taken her bath, he boiled some eggs for dinner. They ate them with pepper. As they were eating, she looked up at the books on his shelf. She asked him if he was a priest. He said he wasn’t. “With all these books you look like a priest,” she said. He thought about priests. He had never known a priest, so he didn’t know if they had a lot of books in their offices or not. Maybe they just prayed all day without any books at all. “Sue?” he said She walked up close to him in his robe and said, “Whaaaat?” “I talked to Karen today and she says you need to stay here for a week. She said you might be getting a new place. You know anything about this?” “Yeah, they want to find me a new place. They don’t want me at New Journeys anymore.”

“Well, you can stay here for a week, but you have to go after that, okay?” He made sure he had her eye contact and that she nodded yes. A week later the women from New Journeys showed up. He helped them bring down the TV, the VCR, the phone, and the bags of clothes that had gradually materialized over the previous days — stuff from various hidey-holes and questionable apartment complexes in the city. He felt like the women were looking at him weirdly. He had thought they might show some appreciation, but they were only grim and silent, stuffing the bags and miscellaneous outdated electronics into a hatchback and avoiding his eyes. He told Sue goodbye and gave her his number. The women drove off with Sue. Sue waved at him from the back seat. He walked across to the park and sat on a bench, looking up through the green and black canopy of oaks. The guy in the rock band came out of the apartment and sat next to him on the bench. “So, are you in love yet?” he said, smiling. “In love?” “In love with Miss Sue. Has she moved in yet? Sucking yer dick? Making you toast in the morning, Boss?” The guy patted him on the shoulder and laughed. “Gimme a fuckin’ break, dude. She’s gone. The people from New Journeys just got her and took her to her own place.”

“No shit?” 2 A month later Sue called. She was in her new place, she said, and he could come over and see it now. So he took the bus to a nondescript apartment building on the outskirts of town and knocked on the door. He waited a long time. Sue finally opened the door, her moon face looking cleaner and healthier. Her hair was wet and she smelled like conditioner and Ivory soap. She showed him around her sparsely furnished apartment: teddy bears on the bed; a couple of plastic “Shrek” fast-food cups and a single pot and fork in the kitchen; a purple beanbag chair in the living room; that big TV of hers on the floor against a wall; her little rotary phone sat in the middle of the living-room floor, its cord trailing over a Formica dinette bar and into the kitchen. The apartment was saturated with the smell of fresh paint and carpet cleaner. Sue told him about the case manager who came over every other day and about a new boyfriend she had. He asked Sue about the new boyfriend. Sue stroked her wet hair slowly, deliberately, and said he was a guy she had met down at the 7–11. Sue took a long while combing her hair, looking at him intermittently through the mirror. “The 7–11?” he asked. “Yes,” she said. “Who is he?” he said.

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“This guy I met,” she said, looking squarely into his reflection for a moment before looking away. “What’s he do?” he said. “Why?” “Just curious,” he said, fiddling with a bath towel. “He’s just this guy,” she said, after a time and went back to combing her hair. 2 Back at his apartment he threw his keys onto his table and tossed his coat onto the sofa. He sat down at the table and flipped through a magazine. He sat on the sofa and pushed a pile of laundry onto the floor. He switched on his little black and white TV that sat on a stack of milk-crates. The opening credits of Star Trek emerged from the intermittent fuzz. He turned the set off. He sat staring at his reflection in the dead, grey-black screen. He walked into the dark bedroom. The Mary nightlight was unlit, dark and lifeless. He stood there a long while feeling anxious and afraid of something — something nameless, but familiar. He walked into the corner, to the nightlight. He knelt down on the hard floor and pressed the switch.

Tlalpan | Photography | Carmen Ojeda

49 Fiction


by Vincent Cheng
What happens to a promise to oneself that starts to gather rust? Like that promise to myself of a search for a face (last seen in 1988), half eclipsed by a hat over a man’s forehead, half tinged with dolorous pink at Dolores Park? Like that promise to myself of a sketch (last attempted last autumn) of an image that has become an abstraction, neither forgotten nor remembered, in the politics of memory, in the politics of representation? And what becomes of a promise made by one that requires one plus one to fulfill? Does it become a co-promise of some sort that a girl or a boy readily recognizes, pinkish carnival-style cotton candy in hand, hanging, while the soundless smiles of two parents echo? Or does it promise something different, nothing too foreign, as in a marriage of convenience between glitzy Hollywood stars who have yet to declare their recognizably irreconcilable desires? And if three must agree, is another co-promise possible, as in the case of two mothers and a father or two fathers and a mother? Or as in the politics of triangulation, does the promise become a com —  compromise or a compromise times a compromise, so to speak, like a night trip to southern Africa that becomes a stop at the planetarium that becomes a gaze at star stickers? If a hundred must reach a consensus, does it promise anything but dots from abstraction, akin to a sketch of some image of an indelibly filmy presence one tries again and again to remember, to represent?

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 Representation  52

Or does it become an abstraction of the enormity of a supposedly representative exponential function, a compromise raised to the power of one hundred, that is, something utterly unrecognizable to ninety-nine out of each one hundred of us, that is, a riddle riddle -d with loopholes windfalls exemptions exceptions qualifications modifications? Or does it become Congress?

Within Eyeshot | Collage | Karla Rossi

53 Poetry



by Amy Covell
STACEY, age 17, with long brunette hair, is dressed in
a midriff top, a short plaid skirt, Converse-style tennis shoes, and elaborate necklaces decorating her fair skin. A purse slung over her arm, she stands on the street corner, and pulls out her cell phone. Her phone announces a missed call from “home” which she deletes before texting Raul “I need u.” She waits impatiently, until RAUL, age 23, mixed race, dressed in casual club attire, comes around the corner, car keys dangling from his hand and approaches Stacey.

FADE IN OPENING MONTAGE — ALLEY —  DAY — CLOSE-UP SHOTS STACEY laughing, her arms around a man’s neck. Her
hands undo his belt. Stacey’s legs are seen wrapped around his waist, her back against a brick wall. Cut to Stacey’s hands pressed against the brick wall while they have sex. Stacey tilts her head back and moaning. His wallet, as he pulls cash out and places it into Stacey’s hand. Money passes from Stacey’s hand to RAUL’s hand, and he passes her a small baggie of yellow heroin.

You know how this works! Now go make some money. Raul points to a SLEAZY GUY looking in the window of the pawn shop nearby. He leers at Jessicka, age 25, with short brunette hair, dressed in a band shirt and skinny jeans, who is entering the shop. Jessicka ignores the Sleazy Guy’s cat calls as she enters the shop.

Sleazy Guy pushes her away from him.

Get lost. Stacey pursues and grabs for him again.

Give me my money! Sleazy Guy pushes her to the ground and runs. Stacey is sprawled on the ground, her purse and its contents strewn about, including her cell phone which has broken into several pieces. She gathers her things together, gets up and brushes the dirt off her clothes.

Could be your next customer. Raul leaves Stacey standing there. Stacey approaches Sleazy Guy and starts to flirt with him. Stacey leads Sleazy Guy around the corner of a building, into an alley.

Hey can I get a hit?

Powder heroin melts on a spoon. Melted heroin is sucked up into a needle. The needle pierces Stacey’s arm. Stacey’s face and head tilt back, her eyes widen, and she gasps as the heroin hits her system.

Do you have some money for me?

Jessicka is behind the counter working on a crossword puzzle. The bell goes off signifying someone entering. Jessicka looks up to see a disheveled Stacey enter and approach the counter.

Its been a slow day. Give me a break.

Then no. Call me back when you have something for me. Raul turns to leave and Stacey grabs his arm.

Voyeuristic shot of Stacey and Sleazy Guy in the alley. Stacey gets up off her knees, wiping her mouth, as Sleazy Guy zips his pants, and starts to walk away. Stacey, astonished, grabs his arm as he turns.

Stacey sitting on the floor of a dirty public restroom, a wall of sinks surrounding her. Her knees are up, arms resting on them, legs open, her head tilted back against the bathroom wall.

Can I use your guys’ phone?

Come on please! Just a small one? Raul shoves her off of him.


Hey, where’s my twenty?!?

You again? We don’t want anything you’re trying to sell.

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Please, it’s an emergency. Jessicka takes in Stacey’s rumpled attire and shaking body. She pulls a phone out from the corner of the counter and pushes it toward Stacey for her to use.

She is sweating and pale, itching for the next fix. Raul approaches. Stacey rises to meet him halfway.

Don’t touch her. Fine.

Raul unlocks the car. Stacey starts digging through a duffle bag in the backseat. Raul’s phone rings. He turns and leans on the car as he takes the call.

What the fuck happened?

Girl, mind your own business.

INTERIOR — PAWN SHOP — DAY  Jessicka hears a commotion outside, and looks up to see Raul and Stacey arguing outside of the store. EXTERIOR — PAWN SHOP — DAY
Stacey is grabbing Raul’s arm, pleading with him.

Do you want me to call the cops? Jessicka puts her arms protectively around Stacey.

STACEY (on phone)
Raul, it’s me. Some jackass broke my phone. I need you to come get me. I’m at the pawn shop at Mission and 20th Street. Stacey hangs up the phone and passes it back to Jessicka.

Remember what I said. Raul walks away from Jessicka and Stacey, turning a corner out of view.

RAUL (on phone) Hello? … Oh hey what’s up?
While Raul is distracted by his phone call, Stacey takes the chance to steal what she needs — a bag of heroin from an envelope hidden in the front seat. She slides the bag into her bra, quickly grabs a few clothing items, and gets out of the car.

I volunteer at the women’s shelter a few blocks away. I could take you there if you need somewhere to stay tonight.

Just a small fix! I promise I will make up the money tonight.

STACEY (pissed off)
Thanks a lot! Stacey rips free of Jessicka’s arms and storms down the street. Jessicka is left startled and confused, alone on the street.

Bitch you owe me for a new phone too.

Thanks Raul. See ya. Raul, still distracted by his phone call waves her away. Stacey is shaking and walking quickly. She glances over her shoulder every so often. Stacey grabs her head like it hurts.

I’m fine. Stacey is shaking pretty bad. She looks out of it.

Please Raul!

They also run a detox clinic.

Jessicka watches the escalating fight, and starts walking to the entrance of the store. She reaches the door at the moment that Raul slaps Stacey across the face.

Stacey catches up with Raul as he gets to his car.

I’ve told you before! I don’t need your help. Stacey exits the pawn shop. Jessicka watches her, concerned.

I told you, go make some money.

A teenage boy, her brother Derek, looms over her. His hand circles her wrist pushing it down to a bed. Stacey, crying. Derek uses her other hand to silence Stacey.

I will! Can I just get some clothes out of your car? It’s kinda hard to work when my shit’s all ripped (gesturing to her ripped and dirty clothes).

Jessicka emerges from the pawn shop and runs in front of Stacey to protect her.

Stacey is sitting on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette.


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In the dirty bar bathroom, shoots up a hit of heroin into her arm. Stacey throws her head back as the heroin hits her system.

Please you have to help me! He’s after me! I have nowhere to go!

Jessicka continues to coo at Stacey in an attempt to calm her.

shivers and she is covered in sweat. Her limbs are no longer bound. Jessicka sits on the bed using a wash cloth and a bowl of water to give Stacey a sponge bath. Stacey opens her eyes and looks up at Jessicka.

Stacey opens her eyes and sees Jessicka sitting nearby.

Calm down! What’s wrong? Stacey collapses. The screen goes dark as her eyes shut.

Stacey wanders down the city streets in her own little world. Stacey’s eyes are glossy with the high. Her gaze follows the shops and people, seeing them through her own distorted drug induced perception. Stacey stops against a building to smoke a cigarette. Raul comes into view, obviously searching.

Where am I? Stacey tries to get up and realizes the IV is still attached to her arm.

Why are you doing this for me?

Stacey and Jessicka are in a private room at the clinic. Jessicka sits at a small table. Stacey is sweating profusely and shaking, laying on a cot. An IV is attached to her arm.

You remind me of someone I miss.

What’s going on?


You asked for help. This is help. Stacey is not fully coherent. She starts to struggle against her bonds.

There you are, you little bitch! Stacey’s eyes go wide and she starts to back up.

INTERCUT WITH SHOTS of the altercation with her brother
Stacey struggles in her sleep against flashbacks of her brother.

Her name was Alice. We used to be like you, but I got clean and she didn’t. Jessicka turns Stacey around and starts to brush her hair.

But I’m not ready. I need a taste, just a little more … It hurts! Make it stop! I want it to stop!

I know what you did! Stacey turns and runs, Raul following her in hot pursuit. Stacey dives down a side street. Raul trips and struggles to get up to continue his chase. Stacey, sweating in a panic, searches for somewhere to escape him.

Nooo … Please stop … Stacey starts thrashing and ripping at the IV in her arm. She is freaking out and screaming. She looks like she is going to hurt herself. Jessicka calls for help. A nurse enters and helps Jessicka to restrain her to the cot.

One day a few of Alice’s junky friends dropped her off here when I was working. She was OD’ing. She died in my arms. The girls sit in silence. Jessicka continues to brush Stacey’s hair.

It will … It will … Shh … You’re going to make it through this.

Please make it stop … Stacey cries uncontrollably as Jessicka holds her.

It started with pills. I didn’t start shooting until after my mom took a job up north and I had to move back in with Dad. Derek flunked out of college and moved back in, too. Derek’s my brother.


She notices a sign on a building “FRESH START She opens the door and runs smack into Jessicka.

Shhh … It’s gonna be okay Stacey. You’re safe.

Stacey’s shaking has lessened, but her body still

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You two don’t get along?

Stacey sits on the edge of the bed talking on Jessicka’s cell phone, tears in her eyes.

the machine. It’s a long trip.

Stacey turns and heads for the bus.

When our parents were going through the divorce, Derek did things to me. We see flashes of Stacey’s memories of Derek.

STACEY (on phone)
Yeah … okay Mom … I love you too. Stacey wipes the tears off her cheeks. The water stops and Jessicka walks out of the bathroom, wiping her hands on a towel.

Thanks … for everything. The girls hug. The bus pulls up into the parking lot.

RAUL (screaming) Where do you think you’re going? STATION WORKER.
Ticket? Raul watches as she gets on the bus. Stacey watches him from the window as the bus pulls away. He follows after her, but is stopped by another BUS

Remember, call me any time. I gotta go, I’m going to be late for work. Jessicka leaves. Stacey stubs out her cigarette, and walks over to the soda machine. A hand taps on Stacey’s shoulder as she stands back up from retrieving her soda from the bin. Stacey looks up and sees Raul’s reflection in the glass of the soda machine.


I never told my parents. I figured it was best to just pretend nothing ever happened … But that didn’t stop the nightmares … Stacey starts to rub the sores on her wrists from being tied up.

What’d she say?

She wants me to come home to her.

Good. Your bus leaves in an hour. You should get dressed. Jessicka motions toward a fresh pile of clothes.

Fade Out

I started shooting to make the nightmares stop, to feel numb. I was so afraid of Derek whenever I was home. Everything just spiraled out of control …

Stacey is smoking a cigarette outside the bus depot. Jessicka comes out of the office and approaches Stacey.

Where have you been, beautiful? I thought I’d lost you. Stacey turns, shocked and frightened.

I think it’s time you called your mom. Stacey breaks down into tears and leans on Jessicka. Jessicka holds her as she cries, and strokes her hair.

Here is your ticket, and here’s the address of the in-patient clinic near your mom’s. They are expecting you at 10am tomorrow. Jessicka pulls out her wallet, and hands two dollars to Stacey.

BUS DRIVER (off screen) Hey lady, we gotta go.
Stacey looks between Raul and the bus.

The window curtains are now open, and daylight pours through. Water can be heard running in the bathroom.

Goodbye Raul.

Go ahead and buy yourself a soda from

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In Dying Light
by Jerome Steegmans
bring me your tired and impoverished whores and bring your secret, unwanted children. bring me your outcasts, bring those you abhor —  your disappointments, your unforgiven. let them stand upon my shoulders and gaze out over broken rooftops to the sea. let them climb over my body and wave to their never-met cousins, the born-free children of liberty and rock and sand and sun-swept shores. together we will speak of beauty and love and all we can stand of such things, till our bones grow old and creak and cry before the setting sun: “descend! embracing, we, in dying light resplend.”

Cambodian Pig Fishing | Photography | Darya Shahvaran


  In Dying Light 


When You Come Out to Dance
by Tatiana Lyulkin

When you come out to dance, Will you wrap a brightly colored shawl Around your shoulders or will you Put freshly cut flowers in your hair? When you come out to dance, Will you wear a brazen red dress And black stiletto shoes or will you Come as a bride — all in white? When you come out to dance, Will you move like a mountain stream Or will your heart be a forest fire, Your passion devouring all? When you come out to dance, Will you dance alone?

Femininity 5 | Photography | Stephanie Moore


  When You Come Out to Dance 


Annual Check-Up
Guillermo Chavira
Dr. Hamilton had not arrived back at his regular scheduled time and was two hours late for his patient’s appointment, that unfortunate patient being me. As Mom sighed again, it occurred to me that something was wrong. “Stop fidgeting,” she demanded. But I couldn’t, not with that nagging feeling that the good doctor was in serious trouble, more so than the other patients would admit. It was a pretty small waiting room, mostly empty, with the exception of a really chubby boy about my age. I slid out of the wood and fabric chair and began to walk toward the kid before Mom’s voice stopped me in my tracks. “Come sit down!” “Can’t I just play with him?” “Well, ask his mother if its okay.” She consented, so I spoke with Chubby in the far corner of the room. “Listen you: I believe that our Dr. Hamilton has bit the dust.” “Huh?” “Just follow my lead: ‘Mom, I have’ta use the bathroom!’” I nudged Chubby. “Uh, yeah me too.” Fortunately, the restrooms were located behind the Black Lily | Photography | Maya Archer-Doyle reception desk, allowing me access to the offices of Dr. Hamilton’s colleagues, acquaintances and, of course, enemies. As the receptionist led us down the hall I whispered to Chubby, “Go ahead with the lady, I’ll be right there.” “Uh.” “Just go!” I’d heard conversation coming from behind a door that someone had conveniently left ajar; I stayed back to listen while the others continued on. A young-sounding doctor, possibly a student in training, was speaking to a nurse. “Yup, it’s all taken care of. I’m so glad it’s all out of the way, it took some work but I’ll finally be able to take over for Tom.” “Think of the money you’ll make!” Then silence. I bravely took a look through the opening in the door  —  the two were leaning in closer to each other, eyes closed. I sprinted away from the door and made my way back to the waiting area. I knew that Tom was Dr. Hamilton’s name, pointing to a single conclusion. Chubby and the receptionist returned, prompting her to ask, “Where did you run off to, young man?”


  Annual Check-Up 


“I didn’t have to go anymore.” I pulled Chubby back to the far corner. “It appears that a certain doctor has met an untimely demise, and not without some guidance.” “He did what?” “Sadly our dear friend has faced the oblivion, slept the big sleep, felt the cold hand of dea — ” Dr. Hamilton walked through the door, carrying golf clubs and apologizing profusely. Mom yelled at him.

Behind the Curtain | Photography | Asta Karalis

69 Fiction



by Maya Archer-Doyle
Thin over the last memory made thin over the slim smile, thin over the short words and long pauses. Well, crack then crack and let the air in to oxidize or crumble the artifact. Relics disappear with a thin gust of air so do the thoughts and the impulses packed in a thin layer of tissue or desire. All of it disappears when exhumed rotting perhaps or just yellowing a book once read and maybe enjoyed disintegrating or bursting the thin membrane like all things stored in the heart.

444 Market | Photography | Nathan Wirth

71 Poetry



by Jerome Steegmans

imperfection observed imperfectly is the true perception of perfection which leads to a conception of beauty as lying somewhere in between — composed in part subject and part object part what we see and part the way it’s seen

Mari | Drypoint | Gabriela Alessandroni

73 Poetry


Where the Sand Meets the Water
by David Graham
“The grey one,” the tall thin boy said, pushing aside the tall thin reeds that grew along the sand’s edge. “The grey one?” his short, fat younger brother responded. “It’s a plover.” “Plubber?” “A plover. See how they stalk along the water, looking for food? They’re a family. The dad, the mom, the two babies.” “They all look the same.” “No they don’t, Stupid. The light grey is the mom. The babies have all the fluffy feathers.” “Don’t say ‘stupid.’ Mom said not to call me Stupid.” “Sorry, Stupid.” The boys were crouched low to the ground. The fat brother lay on his stomach and pushed his face into the sand. It was a beautiful day. It was hot and the sun was bright on the water. “Don’t cry. Tim! Don’t cry. Watch the plovers. Watch them run in the water.” Tim did as he was told. “Am I your best pal, Rob?” Tim asked. “You’re my brother, not my pal,” Rob said cruelly. “But you look after me, don’t you?” “Quiet, don’t scare the birds.” Rob’s fingers dug into the sand, moving back into the harder dirt until he found a rock. Then he found another and another and made a little pile of rocks. “If I had my gun right now, I could shoot any of those birds I wanted. I could hit the mother right in the eye.” “What?” Tim yelled. The birds went stiff in alarm, looked over into the reeds, and flew away with highpitched screams. “You slug, look what you did! You scared them.” “You were gonna shoot the mom.” “I don’t have my gun, Stupid.” Tim looked from his brother to the pile of rocks he had gathered, but he did not say anything about them. The wind whipped up and the grains of sand hit the boys’ faces and it stung. Some older boys were swimming a ways down the beach. There were groups of people, mostly families, walking along the beach but not this far up. Here, it was quiet. “Can we go swimming? Mom said we could go swimming if we stayed together.”

“I’m not your babysitter. Go swimming if you want.” “Can you come in with me, please?” Rob got up and walked out onto the sand. It was hot and the wind ran over his body. He wanted to take his shorts off and run into the surf naked. His brother crawled out after him, laughing in excitement. Tim wore shorts and a life vest. He was not allowed in the water without his life vest. Where the sand met the water, Rob let his feet sink deep into the coolness. A wave would come along and hit his legs and it felt like the earth was pulling away from under him and the ocean would suck him deep into her. A few seagulls screamed overhead and flew away. This was going to be the greatest summer ever. He could not imagine that school would happen. He would never have to go back. Summer would go forever like the Pacific Ocean. Tim ran into a few inches of water, flopped down and let out a high-pitched squeal of ecstasy. They had been at the same school for the last two years but now Tim was going to a special school. Rob was glad he would not have to put up with his stupid brother. He used to pretend they weren’t brothers. “Do you think the summer will ever end?” Rob said aloud. “Do you think?” Tim said, slapping the water with the palms of his hands. Rob looked down. “No,” he said quietly. “We never have to go home!” Tim laughed.

Rob was surprised. That was exactly what he was thinking. “Mom said you have to play with me tomorrow and you can’t just go off with your friends unless I come.” “Nope, she didn’t say that, Dummy.” “She did! She said that! Just ask her.” Rob ran into the water and dove under a wave. The blue silence wrapped around him. The taste of salt was strong and fresh. When he came back to the surface, he was further from the beach than he expected. The current was strong. Tim was looking at him, the ocean up to his ankles, too frightened to go any further. Good, Rob thought. He swam up and down, getting hit by the waves and diving deep into the ocean. When he came out, the sun was setting and a lot of people had gone home. Tim quietly waited at the sand’s edge. He was beginning to look red from sunburn. Rob was tired from all the swimming and he felt hot too. “Did I get burned?” Rob asked. Tim was quiet. “Why didn’t you wait for me in the shade? You got burned. If Mom says anything, it’s your own fault, okay?” 2

75 Fiction

  Where the Sand Meets the Water 


The boys approached the bright white beach house their parents had rented behind the sand dunes. Their father was sitting on the porch. “Boys,” he said. “Smell that air. It’s the freshest air in the world coming right off the ocean. Not that stuff we choke on in the city.” Rob stood for a moment but all he could smell was his mother’s cooking. He looked at his father taking big sniffs of the air with his big nose. They called him “the Jew” at work. Rob remembered the Christmas party they had gone to where some drunk men were talking about his father, referring to him as “the Jew.” He asked his father why later, and he said they were just joking. Their mother walked out behind them. She was a beautiful woman, a thin woman, with dark hair. She spoke Spanish and wore a silver crucifix between her breasts. “Rob! Tim!” She yelled as she saw them. “You’re both bright red!” Tim started crying and ran to her. She pulled him close. “He … went out in the … water and I couldn’t go in…” he said. “Rob, I told you not to leave your brother.” Rob looked at his brother. The retard. God’s big mistake. “Boys will be boys,” his father said. “We have a guest coming tomorrow so you boys have to share a room,” his mother said.

“Who?” Rob asked. “You’ll see, tomorrow.” “Aunty Hannah?” “Nope.” “Yes it is. Damn.” “Go get you and your brother’s things and put them in the room with the bunk bed.” The room was small and dark, and it was another thing his mother was doing to ruin the summer. “I get the top bunk,” Tim said, running into the room. “No you don’t get the top bunk. You piss the bed.” Tim stopped. The smile fell off his face. “Mom!” he screamed, running out of the room. Rob threw his bag onto the top bunk, knowing their mother would never let Tim have the top bunk. He’d fall to his death in the middle of the night. 2 The next morning was fresh and clean, moving in with the ocean breeze. “Boys, get up. Come meet our new guest,” their mother said. Mary had dark black hair and was brown as a ripe piece of fruit. Rob watched her like she was the most marvelous thing in the world.

“Boys,” their mother continued. “This is Mary. Mary, this is Rob and little Tim.” “Hello boys, nice to meet you,” Mary said, her voice soft and sweet. “Hi,” Rob replied, looking at her thin arms and her plump breasts. “Tim, are you listening?” their mother asked. Tim stared at his mother with a clouded look on his face. “Tim, Mary is going to spend the summer with you.” “Okay,” Tim said. “Why?” Rob asked. Their mother took a deep breath. “Well,” she began, “Tim is getting bigger now and next fall he is going to a big school and he won’t have you there to help him. Mary is a teacher and she is going to spend some time with Tim over summer to make sure he is ready for his big move.” Rob wondered why a young girl would take time out of her summer to spend it with a dummy. Maybe they didn’t trust him to look after his little brother, and maybe his mother was getting lazy and didn’t want to look after her own children now. But he said nothing, keeping his eyes fixed on Mary’s breasts. He was certain this would be the best summer of all time. That evening, Mary took the boys for a walk. She insisted on going to the crowded boardwalk, which the boys always avoided. Rob could not stand dealing with Tim in the crowds.

The boardwalk was lit up in red and white lights, and the jewel in the crown was the bright blue Ferris wheel that dominated the entire carnival. Tim was quiet and held Mary’s hand. “Boys,” she said in her honey-rich voice. “How about we ride the Big wheel?” “Tim hates heights,” Rob said. “We can’t get him up, ever.” A group of boys Rob’s age came running out of an arcade and headed across to the food stands. They were laughing and made a girl scream by shooting her with a water-gun. Rob felt the pang of being an outsider. “Hey Tim,” Mary said softly, crouching down to him. “Do you want to go for a ride on the big wheel with me and Robbie?” “Rob,” Tim said, “are you going up?” Rob looked at the wheel and hated it. He feared heights. He looked at Mary and she smiled. “Sure,” he said, not wanting to sound like a baby. “Do you want to?” “Yep.” “Great,” Mary yelled. She put her hands out and took them through the crowds of families and vacationers to the ticket stand. Soon they were all sitting together in one passenger car. Rob was sitting on the left, his fists gripping the bar so tightly they turned white. Mary sat in the middle with Tim to her right. Tim was calm. He turned his head around to look at all the people. Mary put her arm around him.

77 Fiction

  Where the Sand Meets the Water 


“Okay boys, this should be fun. Look how tall this is, it must be five hundred feet tall. I bet you can see right out to sea up there, and all the town and our house.” She said “our house” and giggled. “Are you having fun boys?” “Yes,” Tim said. “Rob?” Rob sat quietly, trying to say something but it was hard for him to speak. He nodded. The machine moved and the Ferris wheel cars swung. “Oh, God,” Mary laughed. “Feel that swinging.” Rob fixed his eyes on a handsome young man, tall and strong, sitting opposite a young girl with blond hair. The lights shone off her hair so it looked like the flag. The man’s face was calm and his eyes were fixed on the girl in front of him. Rob wondered just how beautiful the girl must be. Rob looked at Mary and she was beautiful as well. She smiled at him. Rob imagined leaning across and putting his hands on her breasts. He was getting worked up. The car moved again as the wheel slowly turned and they ascended into the night air. The sound of the carnival changed. Instead of being in the center of the noise, they rose above it and the sounds became quieter yet somehow clearer. They were flying into the night like the plovers. Rob looked to his right. The ocean was deep black and it made a whispering sound. Mary turned around and

looked out to sea as well. Tim moved his fat little body to look behind him and the car swung dangerously. Rob swallowed hard, certain that he would throw up. “Oh, look out there,” Mary said and clapped her hands. “And we’re only half way up!” Rob tightened his grip on the bar and imagined people being tossed from the cars and exploding on the boardwalk below. He gripped harder, certain he would not be shaken loose. “Oh I can’t wait to get to the top.” Mary would not shut up in this time of terror. “What do you think, Tim? Are you having fun?” “Whoo! Whoo!” He yelled. “Rob, he’s not scared at all …” Mary said. Seeing the terror on his face she trailed off and looked away. Rob was ashamed. He could no longer see the young man with his girl in the other car, but he imagined how calm he was. Mary had seen Rob’s fear and would never respect him. Tim began to jump around and the wind started cutting into them. They were so high, the carnival was only a blur of noise and the night was silent. The darkness settled on them and with Tim’s jerking around and the wind blowing, the car swung hard. Rob realized that no matter how hard he held the bar, nothing would save him if the whole thing fell off. “Tim,” Mary said. “Sweetheart … could you sit down please? Sit down and hold on. We don’t want you falling out.”

“Sorry, Mary.” Tim said and sat down next to her, pushing against her. The wheel stopped; silently they hung suspended above the world. The wind wheeled about their ears and Mary’s hair moved across her head. “Oh God, I wish we were down,” Rob said. 2 The next day they all went down to the beach early. No one mentioned the Ferris wheel. “Tim, put your life jacket on now. We are at the beach.” Mary handed the red jacket to the boy and he put it on gladly, almost excitedly. “He doesn’t go in the water. He doesn’t need to wear that stupid jacket.” Rob said. The sand was cool in the early morning. The ocean lay dark beyond them. Seagulls rose and fell, their screams echoing in the air. This is what summer is all about, Rob thought. This is all I want. Tim ran down to the water’s edge, stopping just before the waves could touch him. Rob looked at him standing like an idiot, looking at the sea. Tim stood for a while then sat down on his butt, just out of reach of the ocean.

Mary took her sundress off and stood in the morning sun, almost naked. Almost, but for her bikini. Her breasts were ripe, her brown skin glistened. Rob turned to look at his brother. The idiot would be content to stare at the waves all day. “Rob,” Mary called. “Come over here.” She waved him across to her. Rob, almost dazed by the gorgeous woman, walked through the thick sand, feeling like he was not getting any closer. Mary placed a towel down and then lay upon it. “Could you rub this cream onto my back please?” she asked. Rob knelt beside her. The wind picked up slightly and brought a sweet, fresh smell into the air. “Wait a second,” Mary said. She took her top off. Rob, with excited, shaking hands, rubbed the cream into her soft smooth skin. It was summer and it would never end. Rob moved his hands over her smooth back. “Oh, thank you Rob. You are so good at this.” Rob opened his mouth but couldn’t say anything. “Rob, can I ask you something?” “Sure.” “Were you scared last night?” “No,” he lied. “You are so sweet. I’m sorry if you didn’t want to go up, but it was so wonderful.”

79 Fiction

  Where the Sand Meets the Water 


She turned towards him, grabbed his chin and kissed him on the cheek, her breasts exposed in the morning sun. “Go check on your brother.” In a daze, Rob stood and walked down the beach. He looked down to the water’s edge, but Tim was no longer there. Fear gripped his stomach and he felt short of breath, like he would throw up. He thought of calling Mary and then, like the devil had walked into his mind, he thought of her leaning back and showing her perfect breasts.

Into the ocean he went. The thick salt water made it feel like he was swimming in slow motion, never seeming to gain on the fat little boy who might have been dead already. Finally he got close to his brother  —  both in the immensely dangerous world of the Pacific Ocean. He could see the little fat idiot watching him as he swam. Rob gripped Tim’s life vest and began to pull him back to shore. For what seemed like hours, Rob kicked and pulled his brother back toward land. Tim didn’t resist or help, he only bobbed in the water like a buoy. Back on land, panting and exhausted, Rob pulled his brother onto the sand and then let him go. “Sorry Rob,” Tim said as he sat next to his brother who lay in the warm sand. “Thanks for coming to get me. I was floating away.” “Were … you … scared?” Rob propped himself up on his elbows. “No. I knew you’d come and get me. You always look after me. You’re my brother,” Tim said, grunting a strange noise while putting his fingers in his mouth and laughing.

He stopped thinking those thoughts and went back to finding his brother. He looked along the beach and then back toward land. No sign of Tim. Rob ran back up the beach to get to a high spot and looked over toward the road. He looked out to sea. There was Tim, floating out in the waves, a red dot, bobbing up and down in the blue ocean. He was well out there too, as far out as the surfers go when they lay on their boards and wait for the waves to bring them in. Rob ran to the water’s edge then stopped just before his feet hit the waves. He stood still, terrified. It was the thought of his mother’s face — the thought of going home to his mother without Tim — that pushed him into the water.

Beacon | Photography | Nathan Wirth

81 Fiction



by Elizabeth Lee
Watch her alabaster face by the candlelight, that visage bled of all but poisoned secrets. Marvel as her eyes follow the cursed night. Lips twist come the rosy dawn. She buries her plight, exudes a haunted happiness like her next breath. Watch her alabaster face by the candlelight. She raises trembling hands to stop the words she might find. The sounds as if carried by a wary wind-stilted. Marvel as her eyes follow the cursed night. Do you see the girl behind this desolate life, the rosebud waiting to blossom in winter? Watch her alabaster face by the candlelight. Pray, do not tell that visitor to hide but bring in that alluring freedom that so evades her. Marvel as her eyes follow the cursed night. Could she outrun this grim sight that daily confines her? Grasping those final threads of youth? Watch her alabaster face by the candlelight. Marvel as her eyes follow the cursed night.

Living Room | Photography | Julia Sperling

83 Poetry



by Maya Archer-Doyle
In oblivion —  only riddles. Eroding beauty imploding atom by atom sealing perfection away behind glass. Everything else, the turning coin of the sun and the sea floors —  stars reincarnated as philosophers’ poems and poets’ floor plans the constant digging of heaven underfoot. Monolith and silence tip of granite tongue great wars plagues in giddy colors floods and fires each moment curved, entombed in one and in the endless grains of sand but your stardust eyes never blink.

Spring | Photography | Julia Sperling

85 Poetry



by Britannic X.O. Zane
Nope, I am making a garden. I need the shovel so I can put these seeds in the dirt. Cuz you know what? If you put these in the dirt, it will grow a big watermelon! She stands back and looks at the muddy dirt mound and twirls her hair with her fingers as she studies the mud. Into the yard walks NAN, a woman in her 40s dressed up in 1950s housewife attire compete with apron.

It’s a secret but I’ll tell you (whispers) I am growing you a watermelon.

The kitchen is slightly messy, as if a meal was just finished.

We had a watermelon for dessert on Sunday and she remembered how much you like it.

LAUREN, a woman in her mid-to-late 30s, clears dishes
from a table and places them in the sink. The sink has a window behind it that looks out into a backyard that has some toys strewn about it. Next to the sink is a door that leads out into the yard. She grabs a nearby empty container of milk off the table and puts it in the refrigerator. When she closes the door to the fridge she adds the word “milk” to a shopping list that is held on the fridge door with magnets.

Wow! Watermelon sounds like a tasty snack. I can’t wait. Lauren unlatches one of the cabinets under the sink and produces a little kid’s beach shovel.

Lauren, guess who’s home? Behind Nan is JOHNNY, a young soldier in his uniform. He smiles and holds out his arms for a hug. Lauren excitedly runs to him and gives him a big hug.

Mommy gave me a watermelon seed, so I can grow you one. Johnny smiles and squeezes Lauren before putting her down. Nan puts her hands on Johnny’s shoulder.

Thanks Mom! Jack takes the shovel and excitedly runs out the back door. Lauren peeks out the window. She is amused as she watches Jack, who is busy digging a hole in the middle of the yard. Lauren smiles and twirls her hair with her fingers, seeming to remember something.

Johnny! You’re home! Johnny lifts her into his arms and kisses her forehead.

JACK, a 6 year old boy with some food around his
mouth, enters the kitchen.

Did you miss me, Ladybug?

She has been out here every moment she can get to make sure it gets enough water. Gardening is hard work. Lauren looks at the mound of dirt and pouts.

Mom, I need a shovel. Lauren stops what she is doing, wipes her hands on a dish towel and bends down to Jack’s level to help him wipe his mouth.

Yup a whole bunch. I am making you a surprise

Lauren, as a 5 year old girl, stands over a small mound of dirt over-watering it with her watering can. She occasionally examines the dirt in anticipation and then waters it some more, getting her shoes all muddy.

Is it a mud pie?

It was suppose ’ta be growed by now. Johnny squats down to examine the dirt. He squints his eyes and then looks up at Lauren with a surprised look on his face.

Whatcha’ doing, Tiger? Are you going to dig for treasure? Jack fusses slightly as Lauren wipes his hands.

No, it’s not a mud pie, silly.

Are you growing me a flower?

You know what? I think I see something.

87 Screenplay

 Homegrown  88

Lauren gets excited and searches the mound. Nan bends down to look. There is nothing there but the over-watered mound of dirt.

Johnny stands up and follows them to the house. The camera tilts down to the dirt mound.

Johnny gently nudges Lauren awake.

Lauren, wake up. Quick, we have to see what happened. Lauren sleepily gets out of bed and follows him out of the room, trailing a small blanket behind her.

Where? Where? I don’t see anything.

Johnny is reading a bedtime story to Lauren as Nan watches from the doorway. Lauren is fast asleep.

Lauren, Johnny and Nan are sitting on the back porch eating watermelon slices. Lauren is still beaming with pride.

Right there. You have to squint like this to see it. Lauren watches Johnny squint. He points to the mound. Both he and Lauren squint together as Nan hides a chuckle. Nan squints too and plays along.

Johnny leads Lauren out into the yard. Lauren is barely awake, but suddenly her eyes widen and she starts screaming for joy. Over where the dirt mound was, there is a huge watermelon half-buried sticking out of the ground.

You know what? You sure can tell the difference between store bought and home grown. Nan and Johnny laugh.

And they lived happily ever after. The end. Johnny pulls the blanket over her shoulders and kisses her forehead. He quietly gets up and tiptoes to Nan.

Oh there it is. I think I see a teeny tiny sprout.

You sure can, Ladybug.

Mommy, Mommy! Come quick! It growed! Nan comes running out of the house and into the yard. She stops in her tracks and covers her mouth to keep from laughing. Lauren pats the watermelon with pride and dances around it.

She missed you so much. She has been talking bout you coming home for weeks now.

Lauren smiles as she watches Jack plant watermelon seeds. She steps away from the window. She wanders over to the fridge, grabs the shopping list, and writes “watermelon” on it. She then places the list in her pocket and smiles.

I see it! I see it! Oh it is going to be lovely!

You betcha. Lauren does a little happy dance and claps.

I missed you both. It is good to be home. I just wish my leave was longer.

It’s a big one. I bet it’s heavy.

Let’s go get some supper. Lauren jumps into Nan’s arms and she carries her toward the house. Johnny looks at the dirt mound and chuckles.

We will take whatever time we can get. They both step out of the room and close the door.

NAN WOW! Good job Lauren!
Johnny winks at Nan.

Fade Out THE END

Johnny puts away a shovel and some work gloves.

Why don’t you two get some plates and a knife ready? I’ll dig it up and maybe we can have some.

Come on, it’s time to eat.


89 Screenplay

 Homegrown  90

Contributor’s Notes
Maya Archer-Doyle
Poetry & Photography I am from San Francisco. My mother is a jewelry designer and my father was a photographer. I am a 2005 graduate of City College and a 2009 graduate of Mills College. I am self published and am working on my second volume of poetry.

Vincent Cheng
Poetry Vincent Cheng is working on his first poetry collection and non-fiction book. To him, poetry is at the same time sustenance and something beyond sustenance. He has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1980s. He obtained his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley.

Tatiana Lyulkin
Poetry I’m a Ukraine born, New York bred poet and playwright. I write poetry in English, Russian and Spanish. I also write Sufi poetry. I’ve been published in various magazines, including Forum and Trajectory.

Jerome Steegmans
Fiction & Poetry Jerome Steegmans is a pretty smart guy. And he’s kind of a big deal. He’s super-sweet and all, but ... I’d advise you to proceed with caution, ‘cause his wife (who is NOT the subject of the story appearing in this issue of Forum) might cut your face with a tiny little knife if you step out of line. And he appreciates that.

Aaron Christopher Arnold
Fiction & Poetry Aaron Chrisopher Arnold was a heavy equipment foreman at a granite import facility in Colorado Springs, CO before moving to San Francisco in 2010. He received a degree in Philosophy from the University of Colorado.

Tsubasa Ohkawa
Poetry Grew up in Vista, California. Currently living in San Francisco, studying things at San Francisco State. Japanese-American (nissei). My mother Kumiko, my father Teiji and brother Hyuma have all seen the slow rock tumble.

David Graham
Fiction I try to write as much as I can and I collect books. I love libraries and I love Christmas time in San Francisco.

Sierra Ventura
Poetry Sierra Ventura is a human girl slumming it in the suburbs outside the greater San Francisco Bay Area. She is surprisingly comfortable writing in the third person.

Guillermo Chavira
Fiction If one were to independently research the life and events of published writer Guillermo Chavira, one would realize that there is a deep historical background to the author that is easily reflected in most of his works. His piece, found in this literary magazine, is intended to evoke strong and compassionate emotions, and shatter any moral perceptions that the reader may possess.

Monty Heying
Fiction & Poetry Monty is writing a novel based on the years he spent in a Texas orphanage in the 1950s and ‘60s. He is drawn to the orphan archetype and writes stories that explore the struggles of abandoned children and honor the heroes who make their journey into adulthood more inspiring.

Carmen Ojeda
Photography San Francisco is my home. I pursue knowledge at CCSF and through teaching early literacy at the preschool level, mentoring youth within my community, and through reading and writing. I intend to further my personal growth through every experience I embark on in this wonderful city.

Britannic X.O. Zane
Screenplay Britannic Zane is an artist with many mediums. Brit wrote and produced several of his plays in SF and co-authored a play produced in Rotterdam in 2004 to give hope to same sex couples having difficulty in adopting children. He is currently working on his first feature length documentary exploring the stages of grief that follow receiving a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS.

Elizabeth Lee
Poetry I’m a political science and pre-law student. I fell in love with books during my first visit to a public library, which led me to discover my love for writing.


  Contributor’s Notes 


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