February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
On both sides of the path to the graveyard
the trees are strangely still.
Each tree keeps its own secrets
within the shadows.
And even there
the tombstones hang with terrible force.
wait for the first rain of the Spring.
just to breathe again,
just for a little while.
August 12, 2012 § 2 Comments
In the beginning, time stood still. Mass and anti-mass were one in the same. There was no distinction of life, yet no existence of death. A mere nothing surrounded a void filled with space before space came about. Light had no meaning, and darkness reigned over all. Then, a miracle happened. From the depths of words, matter formed in the midst of an explosion. The bang filled the void with materials of different natures. Light was the first to appear, spreading among the darkness with vigorous intensity. Water and land formed and separated into distinct places. Upon the land and water, organic life emerged. Last, from the rich soil which made up the crust of the Earth, man was born. Just a still-life mold of the image of God, it laid upon the grass. With His breath, God gave unto man mind and soul and called him Adam. The favorite of all His creations, Adam stood amongst His presence and relished in the divinity of his Creator.
God appointed Adam to name the creatures of newly-created Earth. Adam was shown the inheritance given to him. God made a garden of paradise which He called Eden, and filled it with food and animals. God gave Adam dominion and freedom over any and everything, but left Adam with a warning of a certain tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This particular tree was to give nothing but death, yet the choice would be up to Adam, or anything that should choose to eat of it. Peace and harmony fell thick within the sights of the world, and happiness was abundant for those who searched for it as well as those who knew not what it was. That is, until Adam realized how alone he was as far as the creation of alike beings. Animals multiplied and spread their kind upon the mass territory of land and water; however, Adam remained the only being of his kind which he knew. Until one day, God placed Adam into a deep, heavy sleep. Taking one of Adam’s ribs, God created for Adam a companion molded in his form.
As Adam slept, he felt a soft hand run gently across his face. His eyes slowly opened, and gazed upon the most beautiful thing he had ever witnessed. A smile stood in his sights that matched his own. Other features he saw stood in comparison to his; however, it also had other traits which he did not, yet he found the differences just as beautiful as he did the likenesses. As he gazed into her eyes, Adam spoke softly to himself in astonishment, “Bone made from my bone and flesh made from my flesh.” Speaking up so that she may hear him, Adam said, “You will be called Woman since you were once a part of man, but now a separation of him.” Woman smiled, took Adam’s hand, and while joining a gaze of admiration, she exclaimed, “Separate only by body, but joined at spirit for eternity.” They both stood upon the grass in pure form with no clothing about them. Yet they were comfortable and happy. No bit of shame came upon them. Since the apple was the sweetest of the fruit Adam had yet to taste in the garden, he deemed woman as his apple, and nothing sweeter above her.
The world before our world was quite different. As the form of its shape took place, there maintained an emptiness from the lack of life. Upon sometime within creation, God made beings from a higher dimension. At some point, within the midst of happiness surrounded by God, a disturbance came from the jealousy of an angel known as Lucifer the Morning Star. This jealousy was begat by sin which appeared somewhere around this time. As sin took control over Lucifer, it manifested upon him hatred and disillusionment. Soon, it became so great within Lucifer that he decided to rise up against God and take his throne. Teaming with other followers who agreed with him, Lucifer confronted God, and foolishly challenged the Almighty. This act not only led to his fall, but the fall of his followers as well. As God created the heavens and the earth, a downward dimensional crossing was also placed to maintain the ties of God and His creations. As Lucifer fell from Heaven, he gained access to the realm of the third dimension, which gave him passage to earth and all its inhabitants. Lucifer used this access to his advantage. In his eyes, angels should reign supreme, but instead were servants used to fulfill God’s wishes. When man came around, Lucifer saw how God favored them so much that he even placed them in his own image. If anything, man should serve the servers of God. They should be lower than the status where they sat. The new goal of Lucifer was to destroy the ties held between man and God, and rid man of the privileges given to him by his Lord.
As the time before the tower of Babel, communication had been different upon the earth. The creations of God shared a language that they understood, and they had shown more humanistic qualities than what could be imagined. It was this reason that woman did not find suspicion in the serpent who came to her and spoke so she could understand him. The serpent knew that there would be no chance to talk with man since man was always in the presence of God, so he went the back way by waiting until woman was alone so that he may approach her and influence her to ruin mankind. As he approached her he asked, “Did God tell you that you could not eat of every tree in the garden?” fully knowing the answer to the question. “We may eat of every fruit except that one,” woman replied, while pointing to a tree found centered within the garden. “We cannot even touch it or else we will die,” she added. The serpent replied, “You won’t die. He just does not want you to be like Him. Once you eat of the tree, you shall become like gods and know good and evil. Of course He would not want you to be like Him. You are beneath Him.” Woman gazed at the tree and noticed the suppleness of its fruits. The serpent once again spoke. “Does it look like it will hurt you? Of course not. It will make you and your other wise and powerful. Don’t you want that for you? Don’t you want that for him?” As they walked near the tree, the serpent reached up, picked a piece of the fruit, and handed it to the woman. With slight hesitation, the woman took a bite of the fruit, and saw that it was delicious. A slight tingling came over her, and many things became clear. She knew she had to share this sensation with Adam who she loved. As Adam came back from talking with God, he took a look at the woman and noticed an immediate change. She appeared to him with such excitement. “The fruit is delicious. The serpent told me of what it can really do, so I tried it, and he was right.” Adam’s heart sank. The beautiful being he once knew had changed. Her radiance was replaced with a dark shadow stuck upon the earth as a symbol that she was now bounded to the world, body and soul. Her beautiful flawless smile now hid a hint of despair and regret. The once lustrous eyes which bore happiness and purity now reflected the outer visions and hid the inner beauty that used to show so brightly. Her skin did not appear as exuberant as he remembered. She was now dying, and he knew it. Panic set over him in a great horde. The being he loved and who genuinely loved him, too, was gone. In her place remained a thing with a time limit of expiration. He will now be alone once again as he was before. Even if God decided to create him another in his image, he will always be haunted by the vision of the first perfect being created just for him. The woman extended her arm with the fruit clutched in her dirty hands. “Eat,” she exclaimed, “and we can be together as gods.” Adam bowed his head and looked at the ground. Would he give up perfection given to him from God to be with her? Worst off, would he be willing to die for her so that no matter what, they could always be together? Taking the fruit from her hand, he put it up to his lips and took a bite. Immediately he felt the hands of death sitting upon his shoulder. As he dropped the fruit to the ground, a tear fell from his face. He knew this was the end of paradise.
Adam raised his head to the woman and noticed the beauty he once saw was gone. She too noticed something within Adam. They both scrounged around for clothing to hide their now realized naked bodies. Suddenly, they heard the voice of God within the garden. With panic-stricken hearts, they hid from God’s image. Adam heard God calling for him, and responded “I heard your voice and hid my naked body from you.” From this, God asked Adam if he had eaten of the tree which was forbidden to eat from. A large lump appeared in Adam’s throat. This sensation was unfamiliar to him as well as unpleasant. At first, he believed it to be remnants of the fruit he ate given to him by his apple the woman, but realizing that it had no mass, just volume, he dubbed it emotion from an action he should not have committed. An emotion we call guilt. Adam responded “the woman you gave me is the reason why I ate from the tree. She handed me the fruit.” God turned His attention towards the woman and asked her of the question to which she responded “I was coaxed by the serpent to eat from it.” From this, God cursed the serpent, the woman, the man, and the land.
Adam decided to call his wife Eve since she was the mother of all living things. God made clothes out of the skins of animals for them to wear. They were then kicked out of Eden and forced to walk the lands. Even though Adam had some time to be relieved from the situation, the lump in his throat remained. Since Eve was no longer the envisioned beauty he once remembered, Adam released her of the title of as his apple. The lump in his throat would always remind him of their fall from Eden. His apple was now a burden. It was the guilt stuck in his throat from eating the forbidden fruit. As of all, his apple was now the forgotten memory of his perfect beloved. Joined together body and soul, they walked the lands and survived upon what God allowed them to obtain. As time passed by, so did their youth. They witnessed the pleasures of the land God laid out for them, as well as the pleasures of their flesh. Eve had become pregnant, and suffered the annoyance of that which was womanhood. Birth was excruciatingly painful. The sins of their past were intensified at that particular moment. However, once it was over, a new emotion appeared between them. As they held their first offspring in their arms, and Adam once again gazed into the eyes of a being which resembled him, he knew that he had once again found something he would die for. Eve was no longer his apple, but neither was the forgotten lump in his throat. Instead, his new apple was his legacy. A legacy which was given to him in the form of his children.
August 9, 2012 § 6 Comments
This is not a love story. Nor is it a story with a happy ending or a story to leave you with a nostalgic feeling of pleasantries and goodwill. I was born in the slums. Guatemala to be exact. It is a place that fills the gaps between the poor and the wretched.
Born into a family of nine, as Maria Santos Gavantuez, I was not needed. I was merely a burden placed on the shoulders of my matriarchal figure. I was sold into the world of sex and drugs. Dirty old men used me to fulfill their perverted sadistic fantasies. I wondered sometimes how much I had cost. How much money did my mother make, and was it worth it? How many meals did my worth put on the table for my exchange?
My earliest memories were of my beloved brothers watching over me. It almost seemed like they were my parents. My father was rarely around. I think he was a field worker on the cocoa plains. My oldest brother, Salvador, would lull Spanish hymns to me at night. He would sing, “My dearest Maria, don’t fret, don’t cry, God loves you, God loves you tonight, tonight.”
The day I left was a surprise. My mother, dressed in her finest rags, took me to the city. I had never been, so needless to say, I was really excited. Although my mother stayed sullen the entire drive, it wasn’t anything outside her normal disposition, so I didn’t question the intent of the visit. My face stayed glued to the window. I peered out, letting my hands grasp the half opened window pane. The wind blew against my face and I had never felt so free. It’s almost ironic — that moment would be my last glimpse of freedom for a long time.
We pulled into a stucco building and I remember seeing Dobermans around the property, including one on the roof. My mother yanked my hand and pulled me inside. There was no lighting, only the daylight breaking through the windows. I sat silently on this unstable wooden bench along with three other girls my age. The smell was putrid and dirty, like my grandmother’s house after a fresh livestock slaughter. My mother walked out of the room and said, “Stay, mija.”
From that moment my jubilant complexion was crushed by the reality of the situation. A tall masked man grabbed my innocent body and threw me into the back of his truck. The road was bumpy and uncomfortable, but nothing compared to the vexatious circumstances I was about to endure.
Flies and maggots take the form of a human shape. The stench of homemade hooch and petrified ruins of what was nothing. This place was a nothing. Nothing good comes in this hellhole and nothing good comes out this plagued city of the doomed and decrepit.
I didn’t want to be a part of the traffic, but here girls are born into it. Most of my childhood is now blocked. The images I can recall only consist of brutal beatings and women rolled in a batter of subservient chauvinistic dominance.
No sugar coating here. The things that happened to my juvenile body would make the most heavy-hearted man cringe and weep.
Ten years young and already working a full time job — this is not a childhood. Fernando Zavala Lopez bought me off. He was a political frontrunner in the city. Behind closed doors, however, he was a filthy, sexually deviant lowlife.
As I lay on the cold concrete slab, my only serenity is my tattered gown to which I cling. My brief salvation rests upon a dim glimpse of light struggling to break through the shattered, boarded-up pane. Too desolate and dry for tears, I mourn in a fetal position and grasp tightly to my frail knees and rock back and forth.
I am fed twice a day. This is considered a delicacy compared to the others. One slice of bread and a sandwich made with what seemed like the corner deli’s expired goods. I am allowed one glass of water and copious amounts of red wine, to keep me inebriated at all times.
He holds me tight and covers my mouth. The excess saliva drips out the corner of his chapped lips as he penetrates my vision with his foul, dilated eyes. I shall not cry this time. I am numb to the stress my body endures, and the pain is normal now. Night after night I am a salve in his circus. We were captive mongrels to his three-ring freak show.
Some of the girls scream and moan in distress, but not I. I surrender to my silence. One day we will get out, but not today. Today we huddle quietly, not saying a word, but we are all thinking the same thought. Whatever happens, he cannot take away our minds. We keep these sacred as our tender souls are violated and destroyed.
I wish I had a mirror. Just so I can see what I look like. It’s not for vanity, but to know I am still alive, and that the color of my skin is not red and blue.
I have no concept of time. Was I a teenager yet? How long had I endured the violence?
It was like a lucid dream, complete with cold sweats and frightful terrors. A dream so real that your heart beats faster than a crooked politician on redemption. So real, you can feel it all and cannot escape. That’s my life.
Fast forward the unrelenting molestation a few years or so. I must have been developing, because I began to bleed. My life cycle was blooming and not only became apparent to me, but Fernando as well. I had seen girls come and go, and it was no surprise what was next. The end of my existence.
My eyes burned from the sunlight and the warm breeze of the light wind felt so unfamiliar to me. I was uneasy, to say the least. Fernando said one thing to me. “Little nina, you were good to me.” He then laughed at me with the most senile snicker he could muster. He wanted to scare me, but after all that I had been through there was no way a cheap laugh was going to frighten me.
He took me to a barren field, but he had made a mistake. I don’t know if he was stressed with the upcoming election or if he was just getting soft, but he forgot to tie me up. I grabbed the sharpest shard of wood I could and I hawked it down my mouth. The shard left splinters down my throat, but it still wasn’t as painful as the torture I had endured.
We drove out to a remote location and he let me out of the shiny new BMW. He cocked back his rifle and pointed it my direction. I knelt down and asked, “May I give you one last service?” He smiled and nodded. I walked up to him and gave him a tight grasping hug. As his warm body embraced mine, I pulled the shard out from my throat and gave him a revenge stabbing.
I took it straight to the throat. All my anger and and resentment transferred into this projectile death weapon. He bent to his knees and finally teared up and begged for his life. The hot blood spilled out his face like a waterfall I had never seen. I felt no remorse my mind was as cold as the dying grip from his perverted fingers. I reached for the rifle and let out one novice shot to the head. Is it messed up that I took enjoyment in watching his head split open?
I was free at last and took the car keys, sat on his fine leather seats. Before I left I took a moment to reflect. I embraced my surroundings, took a swig of whiskey out of his silver-plated flask and closed my eyes and sighed.
I left that God forsaken city, and just drove. I was ready to get my revenge on those who had done me wrong, and save those who were innocent. Call me a crusader, or a serial killer, I don’t care. I am a self-educated vigilante, an overseer, and a guardian for girls like me. Those who violate the sacred righteousness of a young girl’s life will be doomed to face the vengeance of Maria the spectacular.
April 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
Thanks to submissions from many authors, poets, and artists, as well as the work of our editorial advisors and layout team, Volume 3 is now online. We hope you enjoy it. You may wish to click “View this document on Scribd” under the embedded PDF, because you’ll be able to zoom in using the plus sign for easier reading.
Remember, we’ll be posting work for Volume 4 as it’s accepted, so check back here often for more art and writing.
July 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
July 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
July 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
Yes. I still chew the echoes of each kiss
we shared, the first time our bare feet touched
or our legs nakedly braided. Sometimes,
the salt of your knuckles still splits my tongue.
I believed in seasons, never thought
we would end. Each day without you begins
sober; I no further understand nights
of dreaming your body next to me.
Sometimes, my tears leap at you; a thousand
violins erupted from my stomach
when I found you. Sleep, please, sleep like nothing
matters. Leave your mourners empty, cursing
God. Wake up each morning reflecting
children in your perfect little eyes.
July 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
He came to our school in a swirl of sequins and chiffon. I sat enthralled as he spun around the gymnasium floor like a god of twirling color. As he moved, I imagined myself as such a master, this prophet of entertainment plying his craft in front of fifty impressionable teens sitting in awe of his skill. I had never seen anyone move like that. His name was Graham Williams and he took my heart that afternoon one magnificent dance step at a time.
“I’d like you all to thank Mr. Williams for coming to Gramercy High School today,” Principal Johns said as Graham gave a magnificent bow and a flourish. We all clapped, and it was over.
Williams was a local celebrity. He now ran a theater and dance class at the rec center on Parker Street, after a brief success on Broadway had run its course. Now he danced in purple sequined tights to Grand Funk tracks in our gymnasium. I didn’t care. I had found an idol.
Me and my best friend David Yow had a two-man dance crew of sorts and were looking for new moves to incorporate into our routine. We were inspired by wild tales disco troupes at glamorous parties, of Studio 54 and living life like we thought we ought to. Money, booze, drugs, we wanted it all and we figured dancing was our way into some sort of fame. We had practiced for weeks and in two days the school was hosting a talent show.
I had read about Graham’s showcase on a flyer in the cafeteria, though it took some convincing to get David interested. As usual, it took April McAdams to get him to do anything.
“Yeah,” I said. “She asked if you had plans or something.”
“I guess it couldn’t hurt,” he answered. “Does he do anything other than the hustle?”
April met us there. David and me were smoking cigarettes and leaning on the gym’s back wall looking as cool as we could. David was better at it. He was taller, muscular and had filled out around the time most boys do, while my body grew at a rate slower than a redwood’s. I was short and awkward and very aware of it.
“Hey fags,” she laughed as she walked up to us. “Got one for me?”
David pulled a smoke from behind his ear and handed it to her.
“This is going to be terrible. But better than algebra, I guess.” She shouldered me aside, leaned against David, and ran her fingers down his chest. “I’ll save you a seat,” she whispered in his ear before she sauntered off.
David ground his butt on the bottom of his shoe.
“Come on,” he said.
I followed, noticing the difference between his hips and April’s, the way hers swayed where his were solid and much more inviting. I watched as I trailed behind them.
After the show, me and David walked to my house.
“It was okay. The hands, the spins, we need more of that. But most of all,” David stopped and made his point with a finger in my chest, “no more of this Olivia Newton John shit. We need some real music.”
He wasn’t quite as impressed with Williams as I was, but he was starting to see what it might take to be famous.
I had designed most of the choreography for our routine. David mostly just cut what he thought didn’t work. That usually meant fewer feathers or outfit changes and less chances for anything that involved us touching hands. How we were supposed to spin and gaze into each others’ eyes without holding hands, I had no idea. So I concentrated on the steps.
We practiced in my basement. A dirty orange couch, a record player, and a full wall mirror were the only witness to our efforts.
“Three, four, and step and finish,” I panted as the track ended.
David was smiling and I knew he liked the steps I had added. He hopped over the back of the couch and sat cross-legged, pulling a bag out of his pocket. He laughed.
“Do you really think we have a shot?” He licked the paper and lit a match. “You’re pretty good at this, you know,” he said with a smile.
David looked brilliant. Still winded, he took a long drag and coughed it out. I sat next to him and took the joint from his hand. Our knees were touching and I leaned back and closed my eyes.
“We could be good together,” I said. “We make a good team.”
“And move to LA, be actors or somebody so famous they have to make up a new name for what we are,” he laughed.
“We could be huge. Think of the money, the parties,” I agreed.
As I smiled I noticed that our hands were touching. I don’t know how mine got there, or for how long, and I looked at my fingers, wondering what they thought they were doing. David had stopped laughing and was staring at me. He pulled his hand away slowly. The only sound that got through to me was my heart pounding in my ears so I didn’t hear him the first time.
“I said I should get home,” he stood and put his things in his pockets.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, man,” he said.
School was long and painful the next day. Time passed slowly and David was nowhere that I could find him. I passed April in the hallway after lunch and she smiled at me. It wasn’t a nice smile.
“Good luck tomorrow,” she snorted as she passed me.
That night I practiced alone. David’s parents were tired of me calling and told me politely to find something better to do with my time.
I went to the basement and put the needle to my favorite record.
“Sing to me, Barbara,” I whispered.
It was harder to dance alone when you’re used to a partner but I practiced until my thighs burned.
I fell asleep on the couch that night. With a beer in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other, I dreamed of David and of being a star.
I walked to school alone. The talent show was in an hour and my stomach was in my throat. I walked into the school auditorium and asked where I was supposed to go. I was pointed backstage where the other performers were stretching and talking quietly. I found the place David and I had agreed to meet, and still there was no sign of him.
The auditorium grew silent as the first act began. The curtain rose and my breath caught.
There he was. He and April McAdams stood hand in hand on stage, heads bowed. She wore a white dress and he a white suit and tie. “Jungle Boogie” began, and they danced, with April moving her hips and tossing her hair as David twirled around her looking to all the world like John Travolta. He spun and stepped just like I had showed him. I was a beat ahead of them in my mind and my mouth moved unbidden to the lyrics. But they were good. Better than I was willing to admit. His hands gripped April’s waist and he lifted her in finale above a heaving chest and a triumphant grin.
That should have been me panting and smiling beside him basking in applause, I thought. But as it was, my number, our number, was scheduled next and I was alone.
I walked slowly on stage, I went to my place and I waited. I thought of Graham Williams and how he stood alone that day, fearless in bright sequins under a blinding spotlight. I held him in my mind and tried to steady my heart.
Graham would have been proud.
My music played and hesitantly I began to move. I was scared and lonely so I imagined my David like he was when we were together. I remembered him and I danced like there was someone next to me who cared for me. I performed each step and sway like he had been there all along. I remembered how his body felt against mine and I remembered the dreams we had once shared.
I forgot I was alone. I danced with David and I danced for David. Then again, I had always danced for him. I would never have the courage to tell him so, and he had chosen April over me. But I knew I had always loved him and I suppose when I got a bit too close, that’s when he finally realized it.
July 25, 2010 § 1 Comment
the little girl climbs up the stairs.
The blue door looms, the tiny hand
knocks, knocks, knocks, and waits for daddy.
The blue door opens─but too fast!
The little girl wobbles and falls
backwards, tumbling and twirling
like a marionette, strings cut.
Daddy cries and crabwalks, crabruns
down the stairs. Just before the ground
she is caught, lifted high. Unharmed,
the parents hug and kiss her.
But was the door blue? But were the
stairs that high? She was falling down;
how could she see him follow her?
Afterwards, did the little girl
cry, or did she smile? Try as
I might, I just don’t remember.