curated by MICHELLE CASTILLO
artwork & photo CHRIS GRANILLO
featured poets RAHSAAN DIAZ, SAMIRA R. NOORALI, DONNA FITZGERALD
JENNYLIZA RAMORAN, AMIE FISHER, MELISSA BOYD, ARTURO CASTELLANOS
FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ & MICHELLE CASTILLO
by RAHSAAN DIAZ
Sounds like a river
while she walks across a plaid comforter
just hours earlier
sitting on the banks of the Ohio
Sounds like a river
playing touch and go
with low hanging brown leaf branches
where the only things that lived
along this chilly Midwest doorway
and the cry of owls
somewhere in the bare trees
I, lost in this rapture
She, grabbed and lost my hand
before I fell in
We, now walking back
Ohio River dripping from my clothes
and her nonstop
echoing through the woods
Sounds like a river
I let her know
as it’s rushing water singsong
played in the distance
to the soaring birds high above us
beyond our dirty window panes
and aged stones
Her muffled giggles sweet
as she hung wet clothes to dry
HOPPER’S ELEVEN A.M. 1926
by DONNA FITZGERALD
like so many other endless mornings
naked in the blue upholstered chair,
staring out the open window of her high rise apartment,
hunched forward with her arms resting on her knees,
her posture seems suggestive,
she is wondering just what to do.
Her thick red hair hides her face so one wonders at her expression,
what she is feeling, thinking:
longing, sadness, despair,
or just enjoying the morning sun,
taking it all in before dressing for the day,
before she steps into her uniform to work the lunch shift,
before she endures the pinches and the stares,
before she pulls her hair back into that tight chignon
before she picks the tips up off the tables,
before she returns to the apartment stinking of grease and cigarettes,
the lingering leftovers of the night shift.
And so naked she sits
wondering just how many more mornings like this one:
eleven a.m. Monday morning
hunched over in a blue chair
counting down her days
in a high rise over the city.
by JENNYLIZA RAMORAN
Thrown together for a journey
Purposely trying to avoid me
Distorting your thoughts
since I inspire conflicting memories
Escaping those feelings of betrayal
She continues to arbitrate your mind
After all this time, you failed to see
the poison that runs rampant
Because of your devotion,
your agony never ceases to exist
Never occurring to terminate this indulgence
Consequently seeking celibacy
until I disrupted your solitude life
Attempting to cherish you
Here I am before you ready to love you
And yet, you just cannot liberate the recollection of her
Glimpsing at me with a possessed face
Drifting into another episode of reminiscence
You only see her
NOT A THROUGH ROAD
by MELISSA BOYD
Driving down a vacant 1-10.
hazy pinks in my rear view mirror,
dusk in the desert,
warm breezes kiss my cheek
through the gap of my car window.
My mind mumbles
my soul winds down, white noise
spills from the car radio.
Pain of past colliding into present
through hypnotic desert twilight.
An image of you jolts into perfect focus.
Tired wrinkles line your eyes,
pain in that strained smile.
The picture, found on the internet,
feels like an act of spying.
How did exchanges between us drop into oblivion?
A single rebel tear escapes my eye, recalls the love
I felt from you as a child, …Forever time ago.
What’s the exchange rate for just one hug?
No, I recall it now, you have no currency.
No daughter should have to sell her worth
just to get a hug…anyways.
Five years have elapsed since the funeral
of this mother-daughter bond,
it plays in my mind like a skipping record,
the needle jumps again and again over the same painful words,
“You need to go and never come back”
For these past five years,
I’ve obeyed this last request,
certain the maternal bond would be too strong.
A call that begs me to return home
has remained a fantasy.
WILD AND DOMESTICATED
by AMIE FISHER
Water, water running wild in herds like spooked water buffalo.
There seems to be no distinguishable leader but flowing together by some
mechanism of force.
If there should be a bifurcation in its path, some of its body will separate like an amoeba
and forge out seeking water of its own level.
Water has somewhat of a utopian society— all bodies have its place, all bodies in its place.
Water is benevolent: it will lend itself for provisions of food, shelter and transportation for
those who are not members of its world.
Water tolerates outsiders paying its world a temporary visit; however, if an outsider
intrudes on it abruptly without ceremony, water will displace itself to show its disgust
and even take lives.
If outsiders attempt to domesticate waters (by capture and control),
water will be damned and seep its way to freedom.
If not allowed to run freely, water can become stagnant dry up or even die.
The clouds, the guardian angel that reigns over the waters,
will send savior waters down to replenish and resurrect it back to life.
Water, water running wild again.
EASTERN COACHELLA VALLEY
by ARTURO CASTellanos
I live in beautiful sunny California between
the San Jacinto mountains and the Chocolate mountains,
in a little hole in the ground known as the Coachella Valley.
250 feet below sea-level and temperature reaching 110 degrees…on a good day.
This little hole in the ground is home to nearly 300,000 people
with over 40% of us being Latino,
and even though its a small hole there’s a huge difference
between the East side of the valley and West side.
Best of the West,
From the Palm Springs Film Festival to the
Indian Wells Spa & Resort,
This is the image of life in the Desert.
But where I’m from, The East side,
There lies an ugly truth magazines try to hide.
Endless fields and unpaved roads,
Back breaking labor and we’re all still broke.
Bending over for money instead of reaching for our dreams,
This desert is a spiritual wasteland as it seems.
Everything polluted from our air to our water,
We’re all illegal over here anyways, so the EPA won’t even bother.
Its no wonder you’re failing.
Feeds the people’s pessimism
Its a clear case of class-ism
With no action or Activism
There is much room… for criticism.
Factories blowin out smoke
Now my neighbor has asthma, I can hear him when he chokes,
He can’t even laugh anymore, life is no joke.
And people dare tell me my life is boring?
This is the Coachella Valley,
An East side story.
STRAY DOGS AND TALL TALES
by FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ
Once upon a time, coming out at night
a thundering howl soared across the sky.
Purity left in ruin, as
The man who became a dog,
thirsty for tears.
Barks that erase childhood.
A fairy tale born
The little princess
from its tongue.
The stray dog gives them sweets to lure them in,
the taste of innocence crowds his gut.
scattered on the floor.
A happy ending
BUBBLE BATH DREAMS
by MICHELLE CASTILLO
The light from the candles bounced off the ceiling
weaving increments of warmth into the air
I could feel the pulse of your heart
and your hand across my chest moving down
to clean every corner of my body
I can hear the record player in the living room playing jazz
We lived only in bubble bath dreams
where emotions turned into oxygen
and I would have to let you in every time just to feel alive
because our love only existed under deep lavender scented water