WALL 2014
Literary Journal
Volume XIV
L i ter ar y Jour na l
Mission Viejo, CA
Saddleback College
P o e t r y, F i c t i o n , P e r s o n a l N a r r a t i v e s , A r t , a n d P h o t o g r a p h y
V O L UM E XIV 2 014
Copyright © Spring 2014 by Saddleback College
First Edition
Text is set in Arial, Garamond, Georgia, and Minion Pro
Cover photography is printed in four process color
Printed in the United States of America
Orange County Commercial Printing
WALL Literary Journal is created and annually
published by the students of Saddleback College.
All Rights Reserved. Reproduction whether in whole or part
without the written permission of Saddleback College is strictly prohibited.
All enclosed works are copyright of their respective author(s).
All communication should be directed to:
Saddleback College
c/o Liberal Arts Division
28000 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
(949) 582-4788
South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees:
T.J. Prendergast, III (President), Nancy M. Padberg (Vice President), Marcia Milchiker
(Clerk), William O. Jay (Member), David B. Lang (Member), Timothy Jemal (Member), James R.
Wright (Member), and Keefe Carrillo (Student Member).
Gary L. Poertner, Chancellor
Dr. Tod A. Burnett, President, Saddleback College
WALL is a student-produced literary journal of Saddleback College.
All entries were submitted by students of Saddleback College.
Submissions to WALL are reviewed, selected, and edited by the students on the journal staff.
We accept entries that embrace all viewpoints and walks of life. However, the opinions and ideas
contained here in no way represent those of Saddleback College
or the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees;
they are solely those of the authors and creators of these particular works.
To submit your work for the 2015 edition of WALL, please see the guidelines for submission on
the WALL website at http://www.saddleback.edu/la/wall. The deadline is February 9, 2015.
WALL iii
is a
community space
for creative displays.
It is a fresh canvas, a blank
begging for
a vast white page
awaiting our words and
iv W A L L
WALL 2014
Sterling Arthur Leva
fiction editors
fiction committee
Ryan Vann
Sarah Anderson
Presley Gorr
Chad Stephen Leslie
Personal Narrative editor
Kayla M. Perez
personal narrative committee
Laura Bouzari
Miguel Botello
Elizabeth Ortiz
poetry editor
Bridgette Castleman
poetry committee
Presley Gorr
Chad Stephen Leslie
Dylan N. Stratton
graphic Designer/layout editor
Art Editor
art committee
Anibal Santos
Bridgette Castleman
Dylan N. Stratton
Miguel Botello
copy editors
Kayla M. Perez
Presley Gorr
publicity chair
Elizabeth Ortiz
publicity committee
Laura Bouzari
Dylan N. Stratton
Gina Victoria Shaffer
Faculty advisor
Every year, writers and artists at Saddleback College are given the opportunity to have their works
featured in our award-winning campus literary journal. If they are fortunate enough to be chosen
from among the many worthy entries we receive, their contributions become the raw materials
from which WALL is constructed. As the supremely talented staffers of this year’s magazine know
well, this creative transformation involves focused and intensive efforts. The results are clearly
visible on the pages that follow.
Less visible but no less vital to the creation of WALL is the support of administrators,
faculty members, campus staff, and community contributors. It is through their generous
sponsorship and encouragement that our literary journal continues to prosper. The staff and
I would like to thank South Orange County Community College District Chancellor Gary L.
Poertner and the district’s Board of Trustees: T.J. Prendergast, III, Nancy M. Padberg, Marcia
Milchiker, William O. Jay, David B. Lang, Timothy Jemal, James R. Wright, and Keefe Carrillo.
We greatly appreciate the stalwart support of Saddleback College President Tod A. Burnett and
Kevin O’Connor, Dean of the Liberal Arts Division.
Special thanks goes to professors Suki Fisher, Bill Stevenson, Jennifer Hedgecock,
Bruce Gilman, Marina Aminy, and Shellie Banga of the English Department for encouraging
student contributions to WALL and helping to promote the journal on campus; Christopher
Claflin, Chair of the Graphics Department; and Rudy Gardea, a graphics instructor whose
students provided the graphic illustrations for the journal. Other supporters include Giziel
Leftwich, Khaver Akhter, and Karen Yang of the Liberal Arts Division; Larry Radden, a speech
instructor whose students performed works from WALL in a public reading; and Ali Dorri,
instructional assistant for the Lariat. We would also like to acknowledge the creative inspiration
and dedication of Fatemeh Ayoughi, a previous WALL staffer who served as a volunteer for
this year’s staff. The work of Edgard Aguilar of Orange County Commercial Printing and John
Hesketh of Photomation is much appreciated. In addition, we are very grateful for a community
benefactor who (under the cloak of desired anonymity) has generously continued to support our
efforts to produce a superb literary journal.
The staff and I invite you to open the “window” to the literary adventures inside this year’s WALL.
Gina Victoria Shaffer
Faculty Advisor
WALL 2014
vi W A L L
I have read my fair share of Editor’s Notes, but this is the first time I have had occasion
to compose one. It seems pretty straightforward. They all follow pretty much the same
format, really: First, I’ll slyly reveal some interesting personal tidbits about myself while
at the same time emphasizing that this publication has nothing to do with me and is really
all about the staff and contributors. Second, I’ll stress how much hard work this all was,
even though it really wasn’t because it was such a labor of love. And last, I’ll tell you all
about the exceptional quality of the content and why you would be out of your mind not
to read it from cover to cover.
Actually, I’m not going to do any of those things, although they’re all quite true. Instead,
I’m going to let the stories, poems, personal narratives, photographs, and artwork speak
for themselves, as they are more than capable of doing. Indeed, I suspect you’ll like what
they have to say a great deal more than what I have to say, which apparently isn’t much.
In all seriousness, it was a true honor to serve as
editor-in-chief for WALL. I could not have asked for
a better staff, and everybody labored very diligently
(and lovingly) to bring this all together. I am especially
grateful to Professor Gina Shaffer for her infectious
enthusiasm and experienced direction; and Anibal
Santos, who has got to be the hardest-working graphic
designer I have ever met, as well as one of the most
I guess I did cover those things I said I wasn’t going
to, after all. Oh well. Even if my Editor’s Note is pretty
standard, I assure you that the rest of the material contained herein is anything but.
However, before I forget, and for the sake of thoroughness, uniformity, and consistency:
You would have to be out of your mind not to read WALL from cover to cover. And with
that being said, I present, for your perusing pleasure, WALL: Volume XIV.
Sterling Arthur Leva
P.S. I neglected to reveal any interesting personal tidbits, but if you’re interested in that,
please see page 25.
WALL vii
Table of Contents
Adam Green
My Name Is Twitch
Sterling Arthur Leva
Kayla M. Perez
Deployment Sucks
Mary-Rose T. Hoang The Escape
Cassandra Michalak-Frey
Passing Time 81
Mirt Norgren
Passwords, PINs, and Pixels
Ann Coffee Run Like Hell
Laura BouzariVise 100
Bill Baum Stand Up
Chelsea Wurlitzer
Finding the Light 110
Elizabeth Ortiz
The Gathering Place 113
viii W A L L
Ryan Vann
The Potterville Hole
Natalie Hirt
The Blue Danube
Megan Jacklin
The Crescent and the Cross
Sarah Anderson
A Fallen Fate
Megan Reynolds
Paige Organ
Because Daddy Loves Me
Rachel Dellefield
Kyle Cabrera
Fish Out of Water
Corinne Gronnel
The Potterville Hole
Paul “Jeep” Eddy
Arriana Figueroa
The Life of the Man on a Bench
Jim Langford
Trapped Inside
Mi Young (Jaime) Kim
Mahnaz Alemtar
Stevie Friend
Fish Out of Water
Mirt Norgren
Fish Out of Water
(featured in Because Daddy Loves Me)
A Jazz Heart 22
Shirley Eramo
I Sea
Andrew T. Chaffee Jr.
Truth 41
Dylan Noceda
The Life of the Man on a Bench
Chad Stephen Leslie Jumpers of the Bridge 57
Don’t Leave Before Me
Anibal Santos
Potential Vessel
Presley Gorr
Keep It in the Family 80
Dylan N. Stratton
Turning Grey
Solana Price
This Is How We Deteriorate
Fatemeh Ayoughi The Children from the Deep
Bridgette Castleman
Miguel Botello Back to the Beginning
Jimie S. Cespedes
Cover Art
Sheryl Aronson
Cover Design by Anibal Santos using Jim Langford’s wall and window image, titled
“Through Time,” overlaid with “The Writer,” a conceptual photo by Lhoycel Marie Teope.
The back cover contains “Through Time” overlaid with a digital image titled “What Life
Is” by Kyoung Park.
x W A L L
Yoon Lee
Water Lily Pond
Francine Zorehkey
Joie de Vivre
Iman Moujtahed
Dotti Barnes
Linda West
Under the Knife
Alexander Kusztyk
Susan Brown
MaryKay Keehn
The Creature
Kyoung Park
What Life Is
Paul “Jeep” Eddy
The City
Jason Ra
Color Pop
James Phan
Lavender Days
Christopher Reza
Lhoycel Marie Teope
Heavy Rope
Jayne Osborne-Dion
Phases of Dalton
Bernard Echanow
The Invisible
12 W A L L
Corinne Gronnel
The Potterville Hole
• Ryan Vann
’m from Potterville, Indiana. I was from
Potterville. From what it seems, I’m
probably the last person in the world
who can say that. If I had said that two
months ago, people would just smile and
pretend like that was nice or in some way
interesting. Today, it makes me famous. Or
infamous. Either way, I just feel like an endangered animal. People look at me like I’m supposed to
be something special. They stick microphones in my face and follow me around
with their cameras like I’m going to do a
trick or offer them some great truth that
will make everything better. Some of them
think it’s my fault -- family of the victims,
friends usually. They ask the same questions. What happened in Potterville? Why
I don’t blame them. Potterville wasn’t
the kind of place you’d expect to find people
like me. It’s one of those small towns where
everything revolves around Main Street,
where the buildings are all short and everybody knows everybody. It was just the sort
of place I wanted to live when I got out, but
I never thought it’d work, not with larceny
convictions around my neck. Then I met Ms. Conroy. Crazy old gal,
no kids, no family, hair like a tumbleweed.
Ms. Conroy didn’t mind my tattoos, didn’t
care about my conviction. Offered me a
room, vouched for me with the owner of the
garage, bought me some nice collared shirts
that cover the ink on my neck and arms just
perfect. She made it all work, made me feel
like I wasn’t who I was.
It happened at the end of spring, when
we tore out that big tree at the center of
town. That old silver maple that had been
sitting on that slab of patchy grass in the
town square. The community wanted to
build a stage. Start doing more community
events, maybe something that might bring
tourism. There was a vote at the town hall.
The tree was old, and it showed in its skeletal branches and cracked gray bark. The
stage was a new idea, something fresh, and
well, that was that.
They cut it down on a Sunday. I invited Ms. Conroy to come watch. She hadn’t
been getting out like she used to and I was
The Potterville Hole • Ryan Vann
fishing for a chance to turn that around. en out of that tree when they were in grade
She refused.
school, broken his arm. She didn’t once
“That tree is as much a part of Pot- look away from the window and the rain. I
terville as its name,” she told me. “It’s the
still don’t know whether she knew what was
founder’s tree.”
coming or if she was just sad about outlivShe called it a bad omen.
ing another piece of her life. I let her be and
I went by myself. Watched it fall, get
went upstairs to my room.
diced up, fed through a chipper and drivIt was still raining the next day, straight
en away in a garbage truck. It took them
and strong. I passed by the hole on my way
hours to pull the stump. The roots seemed back from work. It was bigger. Almost two
to stretch out forever, and
foot wide, and despite the
they had to keep cutting
rain it had still managed
them away as they went People will tell
to gather a crowd, mostly
along. They got it out, of you the hole
school kids huddled uncourse, but not before it
der a rainbow roof of umhad torn out damn near doesn’t go on
brellas. They were taking
half that plot with it. That’s
turns tossing whatever
when they found the hole. exaggerating
junk they’d gotten their
It was barely a foot
hands on down the hole,
and that that is
wide then, nothing like it
pretending like they were
is now. Just a black spot
going to push each other
that ran down forever. am not.
in. None of them seemed
People will tell you the
willing to get any closer to
hole doesn’t go on forever,
it than the yellow safety
that I’m exaggerating and that that is impostape would allow.
sible. I am not. We dropped rocks, chunks
There was a flood warning that next
of wood, a flashlight down there. They all
day, so I had to stay late and get the store
just went into the black. No sound. Gone. ready in case it came to be. It was already
We lowered a fifty-foot rope down there dark by the time I left, still raining. It was a
with a camera. After about fifteen feet there
long walk back to Ms. Conroy’s carrying all
was nothing. No sound, no dirt. Nothing.
those groceries. I ran in to Sheriff Michaels
Sheriff Michaels taped it off and told us all
right before the town square, setting up a
that we’d had our fun and to leave it alone.
road block sign in the most stereotypical
“Nothing special about a hole, now is
yellow rain slicker I’d ever seen.
there?” he said to everybody, but he was
I asked him if I could cut through,
looking at me. He always had something to which would’ve shaved ten or fifteen minsay to me. His own little way of letting me
utes off my walk, let me stick to the buildknow he was watching me, I suppose.
ings so I didn’t get too soaked. He hadn’t
It started to rain that afternoon, hard. I
noticed me, I guess, ’cause he spun on me
told Ms. Conroy about the hole. She told like I’d been shooting at him. I thought he
me about a boy she knew and how he’d fall- was going to fall right on his ass.
14 W A L L
The Potterville Hole • Ryan Vann
I asked him if it was a car accident. He
waved me off, told me they were having a
situation with the hole, just being safe. I
knew better than to test a cop, so I turned
Something cracked behind me, sharp
and loud enough over the rain. Sheriff Michaels shouted and stomped back to the
square. He said something about there at
least being somewhere for the water to go
Ms. Conroy was sitting out on the porch
when I got home. I don’t know how long
she’d been out there. I think she was waiting for me. I told her she should go inside,
that she must be freezing.
“That makes two of us,” she said. She’d
made two cups of hot chocolate. Hers was
sitting on the small wood table between the
porch chairs, next to an old yellow photo
album, empty. She gave me the other one.
It wasn’t hot anymore, but it was still warm
enough that it felt like fire in my soaked
hands. She asked me to sit with her. I did.
The view from Ms. Conroy’s porch was
one of the best in all of Potterville. You
could look down the road and see right over
the town. In the daylight, before we cut it
down, you could see that silver maple poking out over the buildings. That night it was
just lights, fireflies floating on black, outlining every street and window.
“Did I ever show you these pictures?”
Ms. Conroy asked, sliding the photo album over to me. She hadn’t, and I know
that she knew that. I took it and started to
flip through it. There were pictures of Potterville. Decades of Potterville. Black and
whites with missing buildings, color photos of old restaurants and stores that aren’t
there anymore. Every page was a different
place filled with different people that got
more and more familiar as I went. Slick
curvy automobiles gave way to boxy town
cars and SUVs. Kids in button down shirts
became teenagers with bell bottom jeans
who became adults with slacks and dresses.
Ms. Conroy pointed people and places
out as I went. She told me who lived, who
died, who got drafted, or moved away, what
my old boss used to look like when he had
hair. She told me how there used to be a
movie theater, and how it burned down and
got replaced with the pharmacy. How the
Old Stone Church had to be torn down after the flood of ‘61, how they rebuilt it but
kept the name.
That silver maple showed up quite a bit.
As a shield for a young freckled boy trying to not get tagged by an older similarly
freckled boy, smothered in red, white, and
blue streamers at Fourth of July cookouts,
or with paper ghosts while a witch stirred
a cauldron of apples beneath its branches,
beckoning costumed children to her with a
long bony finger.
Muffled cracking shook through the
storm. I looked up from one Potterville
to the other. The pool of fireflies was still
there, but a spot in the middle was vacant,
black, like somebody took a scoop out of it.
I thought we were looking at a power outage.
“If you could go anywhere, anywhere at
all, where would you go?” she asked me,
looking at the same dark spot I was.
I had no idea. I just told her Machu Pichu. I’d read a book about it when I was in
prison. I asked her the same thing.
“Potterville,” she told me. “If I could go
anywhere, I’d go to Potterville.”
Another crack and that dark spot in
The Potterville Hole • Ryan Vann
Potterville grew. Ms. Conroy pointed me
back down to the photo album. There were
pictures of Ms. Conroy’s house. Even in the
black and whites the home was bright, every line smooth. Every shingle and shutter
perfect. It must have been painted white
then. I’d only ever seen it gray and wrinkled
with dirt-lined cracks.
There was another of a couple, a dark
haired young man in an army uniform and
a thin blonde woman. I would have mistaken the woman for Ms. Conroy if she weren’t
came back louder,
slow, but steady like
somebody banging
two rocks together
over and over. I went
to the edge of the
porch and looked
at Potterville, trying to see what was
doing it. I thought
maybe transformers
were popping. That’s
why the lights were
out, right? The lights weren’t all just going
out. Some of them were sinking. Dropping
down like birds to buckshot.
At first it was like watching a car crash
from the top of a skyscraper. You know,
where you get that you’re looking at something bad, but it doesn’t really mean anything to you. The flashes of lightning made
it real, replaced the falling fireflies with
buildings and homes. I was watching Potterville get flushed down that hole, with a
cup of hot chocolate.
The dark kept growing faster, pulling
in the lights faster, more violently. It hit
the edge of the town and started pulling
in the neighborhoods, the trees, the roads,
the rain, everything in one big wet mess. I
only looked away when I realized that this
thing was getting closer, and the ground
started vibrating. It ran up through my feet
and rattled through the windows and wood
planks of the porch. We had to leave.
I turned around just in time to see the
front door shut. I tried to follow Ms. Conroy inside. I was going to grab her and haul
her down the road on my back if I had to.
She locked me out.
banged, pounded on
that door. She never
opened it. I kept yelling for her to open it,
to come out, but the
roar of everything
being pulled away,
rushing towards the
house, drowned me
out. I tried kicking
the door open, like
you see in the movies. Had I been calm,
taken my time, I could have lined it up
right. Nailed it right below the knob and
got it open, grabbed Ms. Conroy and got
her out of there. But I didn’t. I gave it a few
tries, kicked it until it felt like I’d broken my
foot. I didn’t do it.
I ran. I ran right off the porch, around
the house and down the street. The ground
was shaking so badly that the rain water
was jumping right back up at me. I tripped
a couple times when it shook real hard.
Broke two fingers on my right hand, split
my knee open. I didn’t care. I just kept running until the shaking stopped and then
At first it was like
watching a car crash
from the top of a skyscraper. You know,
where you get that
you’re looking at
something bad, but it
doesn’t really mean
anything to you
16 W A L L
The Potterville Hole • Ryan Vann
some, and when I finally did turn around, it
was gone. It was all gone. All of it but me. I did see Ms. Conroy one last time,
when I ran past the house. She was sitting
by the window looking through that old
photo album, one last time.
Personal Narrative
My Name Is Twitch
• Adam Green
stood at the head of a room filled with
adolescents, watching them stare with
varying degrees of apathy, seemingly
more interested in their desks or the pencil
holes in the ceiling than the person in front
of them. It was difficult to tell if they were
waiting for me to begin my presentation or
if they were already so bored that they were
waiting for it to be over. To avoid making
eye contact with anyone in the room, I
chose to focus on a motivational poster
with the image of a man scaling a cliff. The
words “Believe In Yourself ” were stamped
underneath. Honestly, I would have
given anything to be free-climbing at that
moment if it meant avoiding my current
We were to each give a fifteen-minute
presentation on various topics to the class.
I chose the disorder I had grown up with:
Tourette’s syndrome. My balding, polowearing teacher, Mr. Brown, had suggested I
take the full class period for my presentation
after hearing my overview. At first, Mr.
Brown’s offer seemed inconsequential, but
as I stood before the class that day, I was
18 W A L L
overwhelmed. I’d never been fond of public
speaking, let alone revealing intimate
details about myself. I knew I shouldn’t be
ashamed of who I was, but as my time to
present slowly arrived, the idea of revealing
my inner demons began to seem like an
utterly foolish idea.
Growing up, I experienced firsthand
how cruel other students could be. Earlier
that year, while playing basketball at lunch,
another student knocked me down while
blocking my layup. Instead of scoring two
points for my team, I scored a face-full
of hard concrete, a chipped tooth, and a
gouged lip. The opposing team cheered and
laughed, while my own teammates swore
at me for bleeding on the court. Somebody
threw me a small Oreo bag to bleed into as
I was ushered onto the grass. All but one
student, a friend of mine who helped me to
the nurse, went back to playing the game.
Those kids were no different than my peers
today. Why expect them to care about who
I was when they couldn’t care less when my
fleshy facade was cracked. It wasn’t me that
was broken and bleeding that day; it was just
My Name Is Twitch • Adam Green
my body. How could I hope for acceptance
of my internal damage when my classmates
wouldn’t even pause a game for something
as simple as broken skin?
My classmates must have realized
there was something wrong with me, of
course. It would have been hard to miss
my constant twitching, squeaking, and
squealing over a three-year span, despite
my persistent efforts to hide it. I couldn’t
help asking myself, Why am I doing this?
Who am I even doing this for? My thoughts
bounced from one reason to the next, trying
futilely to delay the inevitable. If I didn’t
start talking soon, I doubted I ever would.
The impatience permeating the room was
palpable. Why did I do this to myself? I could
have chosen any other topic and been just fine!
Trying desperately to control my breathing
and ignore the incessant drumming of my
heart, I began.
“Today, I’ll be discussing my disorder:
Tourette’s syndrome.” I could see the looks
of puzzlement rippling across the room as
my sweat glands all conspired to drown me.
Admitting I was faulty, different, defective
was about the worst thing I could imagine
myself doing right then.
“As you may have noticed, I... twitch a
lot. And do other… odd things from time
to time. Tourette’s is the cause of that.
It’s a neuropsychiatric disorder that is
responsible for the majority of my oddities.”
At this I paused, smirked, and added,
“Though not all of them.” I hadn’t planned
to include any humor in my presentation,
and after tossing that line out, I immediately
regretted it. Would anybody even realize it
was a joke? My brain berated itself. They’re
going to think I’m an idiot!
To my disbelief, however, I observed
smiles break out across the room. A few
kids even laughed. Not exactly hysterics, but
a reaction, nonetheless. Still, I didn’t know
whether or not to take that as a positive sign.
I pushed on, explaining as best I could what
Tourette’s was and how it had impacted my
life growing up. I had to get this over with
before I died of shame.
The burning hunger of my humiliation
grew the longer I went without looking
anyone in the face. Between staring at the
poster of symptoms I had brought in for
my presentation and the various objects
around the room, I was rapidly running out
of things to look at, except into the plethora
of faces before me — only then did I begin
to regret the decision to skip note cards. I
knew the topic inside and out, and while
I was confident I could speak accurately
about my experience with Tourette’s, I was
less certain that I could look anyone in the
eye while doing it. I couldn’t bear the idea
of looking anyone in the face, fearing what
their expressions would say to me.
As I neared the end of my presentation, I
started describing a particularly challenging
episode from my past, one in which I’d had
to strap my head down to the back seat of my
family’s car with a seat-belt in a vain attempt
to stop myself from bashing my brain into
the walls of my skull. I lay there for half an
hour, holding the belt as tight as it would
go, blind from my own tears. Shit. Don’t cry
now. Don’t think about those tears. I ignored
myself. I wasn’t mentally or emotionally
prepared for this entire situation. I tore my
eyes from everyone and spun around. Stop.
Don’t. Can’t —
Clapping. Applause.
What? Why? I didn’t understand
how sharing something so intimate and
My Name Is Twitch • Adam Green
personal, so potentially damaging, to
For the first time in my life, I stopped
a group of people could receive such a feeling like an outsider to the group. They
reaction. I expected snickering or an were having fun and I realized I was, too. I
awkward tension in the room, not applause.
enjoyed sharing who I was. With so much
I made a desperate attempt to dry my eyes
energy in the room, I should have expected
before turning around. Seeing a sea of the logical next step in our conversation.
shimmering eyes behind countless clapping Inevitably I was asked, “So, you could
hands hit me like a hammer. They weren’t
completely get away with swearing at a
hiding their eyes. They weren’t afraid of
teacher? Like, just randomly call them a
expressing themselves. I didn’t need to be
pig-fucking-monkey-lover and blame it
either. I didn’t need
on your Tourette’s?”
to fear being cast out.
This obviously sent
They don’t hate me!
the classroom full of
They don’t think I’m of puzzlement rippling
adolescent boys into
a freak! They could across the room as
a fit of hysterics.
admire my ability to
“Uh, probably,” I
confront my fears and
paused for effect. “If
share what haunted conspired to drown me.
Mr. Brown doesn’t
me publically. By Admitting I was faulty,
tip them off first, of
revealing who I was,
I gave my peers an
I was starting to
opportunity to show about the worst thing
see hints of how to
who they were: caring I could imagine myself
handle these more
and compassionate doing right then.
human individuals
humor. I didn’t have
who could relate to
to be ashamed if I
the pain I felt. Mr.
could laugh along
Brown saw my dumbfounded expression
with them at some of the more absurd
and stepped in to save me.
aspects of Tourette’s. Immediately after my
“I’m sure some of you have questions
remark, the classroom exploded with noise
for Mr. Green. Any takers?”
— each student competing to suggest new
Easily two-thirds of the class had their
profanities for me to get away with, simply
hands in the air. One after another, they by adding, “I’m sorry, I have Tourette’s.”
asked questions about my disorder: from At long last I felt in control. The class
when I was diagnosed as a child to what the
was having a good time and I finally felt
urge to tic felt like to how I was able to hide
comfortable in my own skin. Mr. Brown
the more expressive tics from being noticed. didn’t let the uproar last for too long,
I couldn’t believe they were so interested.
however, and promptly got the room back
My classmates weren’t being malicious or
in order just in time for the period’s end.
cruel in any way. They genuinely wanted to
I stood there as the class packed up and
know more about my condition.
left around me, replaying the last 45 minutes
20 W A L L
My Name Is Twitch • Adam Green
over in my head. Mr. Brown, insightful as
always, asked if I would be willing to repeat
my presentation to his other classes. After
some hesitation, I accepted. That decision,
in addition to the ordeal I’d just been
through, likely altered the entire course of
my high school career. Each subsequent
presentation went better than the last,
until I had the entire discussion down to
a science. I always suspected my disorder
played a significant role in the negative
reinforcement I received from other kids.
It never occurred to me that nobody even
knew I had the disorder in the first place.
I thought that by sharing my disorder,
revealing who I was with my peers, I would
only reinforce whatever arbitrary labels
they had already assigned to me, further
pushing me down the social ladder. On the
contrary, I found that I didn’t have to let
them define me by superficial judgments,
but — rather — by knowing who I actually
was. I didn’t have to restrain myself or be
ashamed of who I was or what was wrong
with me. People could accept me for me,
regardless of what I did or said. To most, it
seemed I was just another random person,
albeit one with a few quirks. Learning to
accept myself for who I was, and being able
to laugh about it, made it possible to not
only acknowledge but to willingly accept
my high school moniker: Twitch.
A Jazz Heart
• Sheryl Aronson
deep inside
recognition beats
pumping splendors heat
language flows
rhythmic background
mutual tempo
imagination explodes
22 W A L L
A Jazz Heart • Sheryl Aronson
two music souls
intermingling laughter
the sound
wanting to know more
taking turns
riffing life stories
love’s artists
the pulse
of a living jazz heart
24 W A L L
Paul “Jeep” Eddy
Personal Narrative
• Sterling Arthur Leva
am a grown man and I collect clowns.
Statues, dolls, paintings, photographs,
knick-knacks, flower vases, ashtrays,
coffee mugs, music boxes, picture frames;
anything having to do with clowns, I dig.
Now, I am fully aware that this is not typical
behavior for somebody my age, and if I
had one clown item for every time a friend,
family member, or girlfriend has voiced
this sentiment, well, I’d probably have the
same amount of clown items that I do now.
Which is a lot.
I keep clowns everywhere. I have so
many clowns in my room that people
who know me have dubbed it “The Clown
Room,” a title that I probably find more
endearing than it is intended to be. I even
have a couple in my car: a painted statuette
of a magician clown nestled in my center
console and a clown on a swing that I rigged
up from the rear passenger window so that
it actually swings while the car is in motion.
The latter is an exceptionally cute little
conversation piece.
“I just love your Cadilla—Is that a clown
on a swing?”
“Yes. Yes, it is.”
“You know, where I’m going isn’t too far
of a walk. You can let me out here…”
A lot of people seem to be put off by
clowns. Creeped out. Terrified, even. Case
in point: My clown collection has served
as a pretty spot-on litmus test for potential
romantic interests; if they can’t take the
clowns, then they probably just aren’t the
one for me. It’s worked out pretty well thus
far, although my romantic life has suffered
long spells of inactivity. With clowns as
with women, I’m picky.
Because I don’t like just any clown.
No, I’m very particular. They have to have
a certain allure to them, an indescribable
mystery that captures my interest. I need
to look at a clown and think to myself, “I
wonder what’s going on behind the makeup? Did this guy just win the lottery or did
his dog die? What’s the score here?”
That’s why I especially like the sad
clowns, the pasty-faced entertainers who
seem to be hiding something inconceivably
tragic behind a painted grin and red rubber
nose. Maybe it’s that old (but certainly
Clowns • Sterling Arthur Leva
not outworn) comedy/tragedy dichotomy
incarnate that grabs me, but when I see a
melancholy clown, I want to take it home
and name it. That’s right. I name my clowns,
too, tragically comic names like Punchinello
and Rigoletto and Morgan Grinder. They
look so lost and forlorn that I feel like it’s
the least I could do.
For a long time, I never knew where my
clown obsession came from. There wasn’t
anything that seemed to account for this
admittedly strange psychological obsession
that I developed sometime in my late teens.
The noble profession of clowning was never
on my career radar, and I don’t recall ever
wanting to run away to join the circus
when I was kid. Hell, I don’t even think I
ever went to the circus as a kid. Indeed, it
all seemed like a random manifestation of
some borderline personality disorder or
something to me. That is, until recently.
Last October, my paternal grandmother
was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic
cancer and given six months at the most
to live. Grandma Mary was the only
grandmother I ever knew, as my mother’s
mother passed before I was born. I spent
many days of my youth at Grandma Mary’s
home in Corona del Mar, which she had
lived in since 1969, swimming in her pool
and reading old literary editions from her
collection. As I got older though, we drifted
apart. She was old school, of proper Italian
Catholic aristocratic stock, and I was an
upstart, left-leaning academic with atheistic
tendencies. We clashed. Some things are
genetic, I suppose, and I imagine that I
inherited a bit of my outspoken brashness
from her.
When she got sick, none of that seemed
to matter anymore. If Grandma were to
26 W A L L
be allowed to stay in her home and avoid
spending the last of her days in a hospital,
she was going to need around-the-clock
care. I immediately volunteered, and along
with my Aunt Linda (Grandma’s eldest
daughter), I suddenly found myself a
caretaker. You see, Grandma hated having
strangers in her house, and the prospect of
having nurses there appalled her. Proper
old school, she was.
For the next four months, I was with my
grandmother nearly every single day. Since I
couldn’t really leave her side, we had to find
ways to keep the both of us entertained, and
one such way was for her to answer all of
my pesky questions about her life and what
I was like as a kid and her family history. In
this way, I would also begin to understand
my clown fascination.
Grandma has a painting of a clown
in her family room that has been there as
long as I can remember. She says she made
my grandfather buy it for her in Chicago
sometime in the late 1950s because it
“fascinated” her. Grandma didn’t share my
clown obsession; she just liked this one
particular clown painting. And I don’t blame
her: of all the clown items I’ve come across,
it’s definitely one of the best I’ve seen. It’s
about two-and-a-half by one-and-a-half feet
done up in vivid acrylics, the real good stuff
they used to use with all the toxic chemicals
that made the paint shine but also probably
poisoned a lot of painters. The main subject
of the painting peers in from the left side
and is only visible from the chest up. He’s
wearing red frills trimmed in blue, with his
mouth and nose painted the same hue as
the trim, and he’s got a little red hat perched
atop his head at a gravity-defying angle
that should have a really comedic effect but
Clowns • Sterling Arthur Leva
doesn’t. Perhaps this is due to the singularly and looser morals. Her sister’s husband
disconcerting way in which the clown’s
was a real character, too. When he died
blue eyes stare straight at you no matter
unexpectedly, his wife went to collect on the
which angle you view the painting from.
insurance policy, only to find that there was
This clown’s visage takes up the majority
another woman claiming to be the dearly
of the canvas, although there is another
departed’s spouse. Both spouses had a son
clown visible walking
with the same name of
in the background:
the same age and had
this one doesn’t look
been married to the
I need to look at a
human, rather more
same man for around
clown and think to
like a child’s effigy of a
the same amount of
myself, “I wonder
clown. The painting is
time. Apparently, it
signed R. Waite, and I
was much easier to be
sincerely hope that he
behind the make-up? a bigamist back in the
didn’t meet his demise
old days, and the
Did this guy just win good
as a result of acrylicman had merely split
the lottery or did his
related toxic shock.
his time between the
Grandma said that
two households by
dog die? What’s the
I used to stare at that
telling each wife that
score here?”
painting for hours
he would be away on
when I was little, and
business a few nights a
even though most people were scared or week.
put off by it, I didn’t seem to be. Grandma
All of these figures would have made
also related familial anecdotes that I had
fantastic clowns, at least the kind that
never heard before, stories that my father I’m fond of. Comedy in the tragedy, a
couldn’t even recall. How accurate they mysterious air evoking a funny feeling
were I can’t say, but they make perfect sense
somewhere between tears and laughter. I
to me in regards to my proclivities. For would listen to Grandma talk about these
example, she told me about her cousin with
would-be clowns for hours while I mentally
the glass eye who would be carrying on a painted their faces with sloppy garish colors
conversation with you and then take his
and put them in torn frilly costumes. She
fake peeper out, drop it in his water glass,
always entertained my questions, although
wipe it dry with a handkerchief, and plop
every once in a while she would pause and
it back in his socket, keeping eye (singular)
wave a petite, dismissive hand at me.
contact with you the whole time. And then
“Nobody cares about this stuff, Sterling.
there was her uncle the gambler, who got so
This is old news. Why do you want to hear
overwrought with excitement over winning
all this?”
big on an underdog longshot at the track
“Because it’s comforting to know that I
that he keeled over dead of a heart attack,
may be able to blame all of my eccentricities
the lucky ticket pried from his fingers
on genetics and family history.”
and cashed in by another with better luck
And Grandma would roll her brown
Clowns • Sterling Arthur Leva
eyes and scoff and likely think to herself,
Maybe I shouldn’t have let that kid spend so
much time in front of that clown painting…
Grandma passed nine days ago, on
February 24. She went peacefully and
comfortably in her home, and I am proud
to say that I took care of her until the end.
I will never forget the time I had with her,
and I will never be able to thank her enough
28 W A L L
for all that I got out of it. I’m still a grown
man who collects clowns, particularly sad
ones, but I like to think that it’s a little more
excusable now, or at least more explainable.
Grandma must have agreed, because she
willed her beloved painting to me, saying
“You’re the only person in the whole world
who should have that painting, Sterling.”
Thanks, Grandma.
The Blue Danube
• Natalie Hirt
have the most beautiful ballerina. She
wood beams crossed the room to display a
wears red velvet, and she dances to
wall of mostly windows. But the thing that
happy music. Up, down, up, down, back captured me the most, the thing I couldn’t
and forth, and then around she goes, over stop staring at, was the Christmas tree.
and over again. My ballerina is stuck inside
It was taller than any I had ever seen in
a bottle, the gold snowflakes meandering a house, the lights twinkling their welcome.
down all around her
I didn’t want to stare
while she dances. I
at it because I didn’t
used to wish I could
want the grown-ups
get her out, but now
around. I watch her and to think I thought I
I know she would
getting a present.
whisper, “Please, Daddy was
never be the same,
I knew better. I didn’t
don’t do it. Don’t break
she would never be
know these people.
as beautiful, and she
Why would I get a
any more.”
wouldn’t dance.
present? So, I tried
I came to have
to sneak peeks at the
her when I was five years old. We had gone tree, long peeks while the grown-ups refilled
to the white rancho-style house where the
their clinking glasses, and extra-long peeks
comfortable people lived. A brick sidewalk at one particular present. It was a shiny redcurved up to the red-framed door. They
foiled package with a gigantic gold ribbon
were friends of my grandparents. The
and bow. Oh! I wondered who was going to
voices sounded big and loud in the house get that one. I had never seen a present so
even though no one was shouting. The
pretty, and it sat right in the front, reflecting
man’s laughter boomed down the darkthe dance of twinkling lights.
wooded hallway where he led my parents.
I was embarrassed to be caught staring,
The ceiling high and higher with thick
but somehow the man’s way of echoed
The Blue Danube • Natalie Hirt
laughter put me at ease. When the lady
The grown-ups spoke about how special
walked me over to the tree, I thought it was it was. They didn’t have to tell me. I could
so I could better see the lights. But she bent see that she was special. The bottle shaped
over and picked up the shiny red package
almost like a woman’s body, it had an elegant
instead, handing it to me. I was horrified. I
neck, a silhouetted bust, a gold cord around
looked at my parents to plead my apologies.
an imaginary waist, and a ball-gown skirt,
I had not meant to be staring at other
all of it made out of thick glass. But on the
people’s presents.
inside, there appeared to be an upsideI stood there with the box in my arms
down cup, and there stood the dark-haired
unsure of what to do. The man with the
ballerina. The cup held her captive, but it
big laugh and his wife had given me a gift.
also kept her dry and safe from everything
The grown-ups looked at me expectantly.
around her.
I didn’t want to open it. Usually, I loved to
For a long time, I kept her on the shelf
open presents, but not this one. I wanted to
by my bed, and when I heard the voices
be alone with this one,
get angry, the voices
to look at it again as my
get sharp with an edge
own, to feel the paper
and finally escalate
so soft and the bow, stiff
into shouts and muted
spoke about how
and crinkly. But they
crying—when I heard
special it was.
made me open it.
that, I turned the key.
That is how I came
Then, I heard “The Blue
to tell me. I could
to have my ballerina.
Danube.” “The Blue
My ballerina in a bottle
Danube” and… crash!
see that she was
of Bols Gold Liqueur, 60
That must be Mama’s
proof. Turn the key and
little teapot, the one that
hear “The Blue Danube”
sits on the dining room
while she dances and
dances, the small gold flakes falling all
Mama crying out, “No, please don’t…
around her, settling beneath her feet.
That’s not what I meant! You take everything
“Ahh, looky here,” Daddy said. “You’ll the wrong way!” She’s always desperate.
want to take good care of that.” He stood
My ballerina dances all around. I watch
beside the bar, next to the black and white
her and whisper, “Please, Daddy, don’t do it.
pictures of a flower-wreathed racehorse. He Don’t break any more.”
turned to the man with the big laugh and
Crash! Oh, that sounded like the little
said, “Where did you get it?”
rooster salt or pepper shaker. Which one
The man’s laughter boomed again while would we have left? Tomorrow I would find
he poured another golden drink into his
out. Please, please stop, Daddy. I’ll tip the
short glass. He shrugged. “You’ll have to ask
bottle again, see the pieces fall again.
Trudina. She’s in charge here.”
“You don’t like that, do you?” And the
He laughed again. “Pretty little thing sound of boots crunching through the
though, isn’t it?”
shattered glass. I don’t have to see it to know
30 W A L L
The Blue Danube • Natalie Hirt
he’s holding her tight by the hair. I can tell by
the sound of her cries, stifled low and near
the floor. “What’s it going to take to teach
you anything? The next time you think I’m
not good enough for you, maybe you’ll keep
your mouth shut.”
Up and down, up and down, back and
forth. My ballerina’s always on her toes.
And Mama sobbing.
“It’s you. You! You make me do this.”
He has released her. I can tell by the way his
voice is free to move around.
Crash! Another knick-knack? A plate? I
can’t tell. What would be next?
“Tell me what I can’t do now. Go ahead.
Tell me.”
More sobbing.
Please, please stop. Please, please make
him go away.
The music is getting slower and slower,
the pieces falling all around, falling at her
feet. What is she going to do? How will I
keep her safe?
I wrapped my little ballerina in a bag
of old clothes, pushing her as far back in
the closet as she could go until she pressed
up against nothing but walls, completely
buried. I hid her so well, I couldn’t find her
again. For years I couldn’t find her. She was
lost and I mourned that I would never have
her again, figuring she’d just been broken
along with so many other things in the house.
It was a long time later, and I was a
grown-up when I found her. I had just
moved again when the box of old mementos
turned up. How did she make it out of
that house? And how did she make it out
without me knowing it? I marveled that she
had been with me all along, existing in an
unmarked junk box. The labels on the bottle
have yellowed and the tag that hung on the
gold cord around her waist is missing, but
the girl on the inside, the ballerina—she’s
okay. I tried the key beneath the bottle, not
expecting anything to happen. And what
joy when the ballerina creaked, and then
began to move. She still danced and the
music still played.
I Sea
• Shirley Eramo
Beautiful Ocean, please stop the chatter
My mind is making about things that don’t matter.
Let the sound of your waves be all that I hear
And the spray on my face wash away my tears.
Beautiful Ocean, remind me of how
All we build up is so easily knocked down.
Carefully constructed castles dissolve in an instant
And all that is left is hurt feelings and resentment.
Beautiful Ocean, so deep and so strong
Share your strength with me as I go along.
This path unfamiliar I tread on with fear
Toward a light in the distance I begin to see clear.
Beautiful Ocean, tide in and tide out
Remove from my mind all traces of doubt.
Anchor my feet in wet sand, cover my body in white foam
Seaweed garlands in my hair, feeling closer to my home.
32 W A L L
• Iman Moujtahed
Water Lily Pond
• Yoon Lee
Oil 18” x 24”
34 W A L L
• Dotti Barnes
Watercolor 18” x 24”
Joie de Vivre
• Francine Zorehkey
Oil 6” x 6”
36 W A L L
Under the Knife
• Linda West
Watercolor 16” x 22”
• Christopher Reza
38 W A L L
• Alexander Kusztyk
India Ink and Watercolor 18” x 24”
• Susan Brown Matsumoto
40 W A L L
• Andrew T. Chaffee Jr.
I always knew when she lied.
her face made this expression
as if her very existence was a
upon her very own bridge,
yet she never seemed to
she continued to
despite the wind, rain, humidity
I always admired that about her.
the day will come though
when the cables supporting her
and leave her f
into thin
nothing to catch her
nothing to hold her
nothing to tell her
“darling, it’ll all be ok;
it’s just the shadows,
and that day came
sooner than anyone
Personal Narrative
Deployment Sucks
• Kayla M. Perez
“I miss you.”
“I miss you, too.”
“Six months down. Two more to go.”
“I’ll be home soon, babe. I love you.”
“I love you, too. I’ll be waiting.”
thought I knew the definition of waiting.
I thought I knew the meaning of what
it meant to miss someone. Hell, I even
thought I knew what it meant to be sexually
frustrated. That is, until deployment. And
let me tell you something: Deployment
sucks. Deployment redefines the definition
of patience and frustration and tells a
different story when we say, “I miss you.”
Deployment brings up all sorts of fears I
didn’t even know existed; deployment tests
us in ways we didn’t know had to be tested;
and deployment just plain fucking sucks.
This is my second deployment with my
Marine. The first one was six months; this
one is eight. We had just gotten engaged
when he left the first time. I planned the
wedding while he trained for war. We
42 W A L L
prepared for marriage with video chats,
instant messaging, and care packages. We
read books given to us by our mentors on
“The Beautiful Wife” and “How Not to Screw
Up Your Bride’s Wedding,” and we shared
our discoveries with each other through
e-mail and handwritten letters. We sorted
through our baggage using words. We got
real good at using words. There wasn’t any
shoulder-to-shoulder time, no afternoon
bonding over the TV, no quiet evenings at
the dinner table, and no intimacy under
the sheets. We relied solely on our words
to communicate our deepest fears and our
wildest dreams.
This time he left a week before our firstyear wedding anniversary. You can always
rely on the Corps to screw up dinner plans.
This time was different though. He was my
husband now. We shared a home together.
We’re separated from the rest of our family
-- no big wedding to look forward to and
now no man to make the entire apartment
smell like his body wash as he steps out of
Deployment Sucks • Kayla M. Perez
the shower. It’s just me, the cat, and a bed outside of the bedroom? My husband and
that seems a little too big now. We are back I use a lot of right words – and sometimes
to relying on our words to keep our marriage a lot of wrong ones, too; but when we can’t
afloat (and of course that bouquet of roses use our bodies, we have to use our voices,
he had delivered on my birthday). Now I our pictures, our words.
watch TV by myself, eat quiet dinners, and
As far as I know, that civilian columnist
I can only think about those times spent doesn’t know a thing about marriage. I’m the
under the sheets. We’re back to using our
only one taking the trash out and cleaning
words to communicate our wildest fears
the litter box right now. I’m only cooking
and our deepest dreams.
for one. Distractions include training field
I was reading an article the other
operations, failed Internet connections,
day about how a
and different time
marriage must have
zones. And we sure
physical intimacy for
as hell aren’t having
it to be successful.
any physical intimacy
Oh, and it also has
– unless you count
to have equal chores
that video I sent him
in the household,
for Christmas, but
frustration and tells
quality time without
somehow that just
a different story when
isn’t the same.
and we must cook
together (yes, these
sucks, but that doesn’t
mean our marriage
According to the article, deployment is a is doomed to suck, too. Lonely nights do
recipe for a failed marriage. Thanks for the begin to take their toll. Dinners for one
great news, civilian columnist.
somehow make leftovers harder to eat. And
What the article doesn’t mention
I sure wish someone else could clean the cat
though is the importance of trust, honor,
box once in a while. “I miss you” begins to
and communication. We have chosen to lose its meaning yet somehow gain a whole
trust each other regardless of the time spent new one at the same time. Our “I love yous”
unaware of the other’s activities. Those other don’t begin at the dinner table and end in
couples may cook together, but they may
the bedroom -- they begin with an emoticon
not be able to talk about their whereabouts and end with a lipstick kiss at the bottom
just an hour earlier. What about honoring of a letter. The quiet house seems to be the
one another while being patient, remaining loudest noise in my head – until the sound
above reproach, staying pure and faithful in
of an incoming email breaks the silence.
our marriage? What about using our words
Hey Babygirl, you there?
to communicate and grow in intimacy,
Hey love, I’m here. About to go to bed.
Deployment Sucks • Kayla M. Perez
It’s 1 a.m.
I just woke up. Been a long night. I’ll be
in the field for the next 10 days. I won’t be
able to talk to you.
All right, babe. I got you. Where are you
I can’t say, but I’ll make sure to tell you
all about it next Saturday. I might have wifi.
I would love that. I miss your face. Skype
date when you get back? :)
You got it. I love you, kitten. I’ll talk to
you soon. You’re perfect for me.
44 W A L L
Thanks baby. I love you, too. Go get ‘em, tiger.
Two more months. Just two. It seems
that the last two months are always the
longest – even though it’s already been six.
It’s like sitting in the last five minutes of a
class before the bell rings – or like the last
day of school. Even though you’ve been in
class the past hour and school the past nine
months, it’s always the last bit of time that
seems like the longest. At this time, is there
even a point? Can’t we just go home already?
Yeah, he needs to come home already.
The Crescent and the Cross
• Megan Jacklin
hey are much closer now,” I said to
my concerned husband. I blew out a
long slow breath as I rubbed my firm
abdomen in a clockwise direction. Little
feet danced inside of me. The sound of a
bomb went off in the distance. One hundred yards? Two hundred? It was hard to
tell. Echoes of machine gun fire and screams
sounded much closer. This was nothing
new. Christians killing Muslims. Muslims
killing Christians. The attacks have been
going on for days, months, centuries if you
wanted to go back to the Crusades or even
further into antiquity. But this is not a history lesson.
I shifted uncomfortably on the wooden
floor of the abandoned building we had
been hiding in for the last twelve hours.
We had been traveling since the previous
night and had navigated our way in and out
of empty buildings searching for adequate
shelter. We had settled in this particular
one not because of the availability of running water or food supply -- this place had
neither. We stayed here because my body
could not take us any further.
“Aaayaa….” I cried out as I rubbed my
tightening belly.
“Narineh, it’s all right. I am here. I
will protect you.” His hand reached out to
my overgrown belly and another squeeze
ripped through me.
Ahmaad Charif. My beloved. My habibi. We had met at the Beirut Arab University six years ago in our English class. He
was a former soldier in the Lebanese Army
before he decided to go to law school. I
was going to school to do what all attractive Lebanese women do: get away from
home and, of course, find their husbands.
I was bint ayleh yaani, from a well-respected home. I was full of sweetness and had
dreams to travel the world. Ahmaad had
already seen the world, fought in its wars,
and had only seriousness and urgency left.
I melted his cold exterior with a brush of
my hand. Marry me, he said. Of course, I
replied. Everything was perfect. But that
was a less dangerous time.
Ahmaad calculated the distance from
our shelter to the car across the street. His
carefully trained eyes stalked the streets for
The Crescent and the Cross • Megan Jacklin
any Christians. This area of town had been
“Identification, please,” the man closest
gutted by groups of militia a few weeks earto Ahmaad demanded. A gold cross around
lier. The streets had been empty since then.
his neck caught the light. The barrels of the
But Ahmaad was always overly cautious. It
AK-47s rested on their shoulders. Ahmaad
was beyond the street that scared me. Rutried to stall. He motioned to me so they
mors flew that roadblocks had been made would notice my condition and perhaps
to stop Muslims from fleeing the country.
have sympathy.
Men with guns would ask for identification
“What’s on your wrist?” the one closest
and if your name was Christian, you were
to me demanded. My throat tightened as I
allowed to pass. If
felt the beads around
your name was Musmy wrist. My wood“No,” I gasped. “It’s too en Allah, my prayer
lim, you were shot on
sight. Charif means
dangerous.” I clutched bracelet. I have killed
honorable in Arabic.
us both. I have killed
It also meant cermy son.
it tightened around the
tain death if we were
washed over their
“It’s time,” Ahfaces, they held up
maad said, still startheir weapons and
ing at the streets.
started loading them. I threw my Allah in
“No,” I gasped. “It’s too dangerous.” I the eyes of the man next to my side of the
clutched my pendulous belly as it tightened
car and caught him off guard. Ahmaad sped
around the baby.
off while the trunk of the car became ridWithout a word, Ahmaad opened the
dled with rounds from the men. I buried
door and swept my tiny body off of the
my head in the seat as I winced with every
floor. He swiftly moved in the dark to the assault made on the car. Shards of glass
car across the street and began to drive out
from the back window sprinkled my body.
of the abandoned neighborhood. I contin- The sounds of swearing and gunfire evenued to breathe through my contractions, tually faded away. I heard Ahmaad shoutmy heart pounding with every turn down
ing something to me that I couldn’t make
a dark road. Ahmaad navigated the side out. He shook my body with one hand and
streets to make the safest way to the hos- shouted again.
“Narineh! Are you hurt?”
Ahmaad turned down a silent road and
I shook my head furiously. All I could
immediately my heart sank. Up ahead were do was pray as I clutched my bare wrist
two armed men with bright lights and barkwhere my Allah once rested. The car drove
ing dogs. The sound of the tires slowing on
on and I began to focus on the movements
the gravel road was deafening. The slow of the baby again.
stomps of their boots as they approached
We reached the hospital after almost
either side of the car crushed my spirit with another hour of driving in fearful silence.
each step.
I had felt my water break during the drive,
46 W A L L
The Crescent and the Cross • Megan Jacklin
but I did not tell Ahmaad. I did not want
him to worry about anything else. He carried me in and felt my wet garments. His
eyes met mine and I could no longer hold
back my tears as ripping contractions shot
down my body. In the lobby we were met
by nurses and hospital personnel who put
me on a gurney to take me to the delivery
room. So many people, so many voices. I
looked up at the man who introduced himself as my doctor. My eyes widened when
I saw a small silver cross dangling from his
neck. I squeezed Ahmaad’s hand and pulled
back in fear. The doctor saw my panic and
put his hand on my shoulder.
“We are here to take care of you and
your baby.” He smiled a gentle smile. His
touch calmed me and I released my grip on
“Mr. Charif, your wife is in good hands.
We will be out to get you momentarily.”
They whisked me away to the delivery
room. My body shook from hormones
and writhed in pain. Sweat and tears rolled
down my face and I felt the baby move down
and out of me with a force I could no longer
bear. And then I heard the sweet sound of
his cry as he announced his presence to this
world. He was beautiful. He was perfect.
You were amareh, my moon.
And so, you see, my son, although you
were almost killed in the name of the cross …
you were born under it as well.
Personal Narrative
The Escape
• Mary-Rose T. Hoang
ut I don’t want to leave!” I stammered,
tears streaming down my cheeks.
“You’ll have to go with your brother,”
ordered my father. “Your other two brothers
will leave tomorrow, too, to join the fishing
boat. Your mom, your little brother, and I
will meet you the next day.”
He added, “This is for your own future
as well as your brothers’. And make sure you
tell no one.”
Despite my tears and begging, my father
was immovable. His decision had been
achieved two and a half years ago when our
capital had fallen under the Communist
With a heavy heart, the next day I left
my childhood home, carrying one change
of clothes and my favorite doll in a small
bag. Via regional bus I traveled with my
brother to My Tho, a small town south of
In the morning, I followed my brother,
who had been briefed on what to do, and
took a bus to Ben Tre. We met my parents
and my younger brother at a church. I lit up
at their sight but dared not say anything. We
48 W A L L
then walked towards a dock where several
dozen people were standing, dispersed in
small, silent groups.
A soldier of the new regime standing
nearby suddenly addressed me: “Where are
you heading, miss?”
Stunned, I looked to my Mom.
“We are going to a wedding,” she said,
coming to my rescue. Luckily, he did not
press on.
A motorboat approached and docked.
The boatman called out, “Anyone going to
a wedding?”
Cued, my dad led the way and we
followed. Except for the soldier, the other
people boarded the boat, too. They had paid
for their passage. The boat wound its way
in the small river, passing several military
As we reached the estuary, a lone fishing
boat came into view, and our boat quickly
went to rendezvous with it. The waves
slammed our small boat against the fishing
boat and then pulled it away, making the
transfer impossible. Finally, someone
jumped down with ropes and lashed the
The Escape • Mary-Rose T. Hoang
two boats together. Everyone rushed to
to their plan, had been held captive in the
climb up and was promptly herded below
docks for the last six months after some
deck. It was wet from the ice that had been locals had reported to the officials that it
stocked to preserve the catch but dumped was planning a getaway. Finally, with the
overboard earlier. The hatch was shut. Our
ship released and awarded a fishing permit,
boat headed toward the open sea at full Dad and his partner decided to seize the
speed. It was Sunday, October 30, 1977, and opportunity to flee.
my brother John’s birthday.
Life on board moved slowly, punctuated
That night, our sixty-foot long boat by simple meals. Occasionally, some
encountered a big storm. Below deck, in dolphins jumped ahead of the bow, bringing
darkness, seventy passengers sat on the floor
smiles to all. The ocean, immense and quiet,
and swayed with the boat. As more waves gave us a sense of freedom and lurking
washed over the boat, we all got drenched. danger at the same time. Two days had
The boat slammed down hard several times.
passed and the decision had been changed:
I became very sick
we would try to
and whimpered,
make landfall in
a bitter taste in
Malaysia, hopefully
twenty-one years of life,
my mouth. Mom
avoiding the Thai
tried her best to
pirates who were
I was separated from
soothe me. Around
swarming in these
me, people got
waters and had
heading toward the
sick and started
attacked numerous
to worry about
Vietnamese refugee
capsizing. Amid
boats. Once, a big
the crashing sound
Thai boat quickly
of the waves people started to pray out loud. approached ours. We watched in silence and
Miraculously, the winds died down and the apprehension. Thankfully, it was a fishing
waves diminished afterwards.
boat, and the fishermen donated some fresh
With the sun dawning on a new day, we fish from their catch. They also pointed us
emerged from the hold, which now reeked
to the nearest Malaysian coastline.
of sea water and vomit. We had reached
On the third day, we spotted land and
international waters and no military
arrived at a coastal Malaysian town in the
boats were pursuing us. To celebrate the afternoon. However, the Malaysian officials
momentous event, Dad opened a bottle of
would not allow us to disembark. They
champagne that he’d stashed onboard. We
gave us water and food and ordered us to
all took a sip from the bottle, elated.
continue our journey. Our boat headed
“We could go all the way to Australia out to sea again, never too far from the
now!” he exclaimed. “We have enough
coastline. As the sun was setting, the overall
morale was falling and we wanted to get on
This was a fishing trip after all. The ship,
solid ground. The plan was to sneak back
bought by Dad and a partner and crucial
and disembark anyway in the dark. While
The Escape • Mary-Rose T. Hoang
the boat bobbed precariously close to the
shoreline, one of my brothers, Pascal, a good
swimmer, swam toward the beach, towing a
long rope. We jumped into the water and,
holding onto the rope, made our way to the
sandy beach.
“Stop, stop!” yelled some Malaysian
soldiers. They could not halt the tired
refugees who had flocked to the beach.
“Sit down! Sit down!” they commanded,
pointing their guns at us. Arguments,
reasoning, and pleading in three languages
By then I had been doubling in pain
with a big stomachache. My Mom pleaded
with the soldiers and finally they agreed
to get me to a hospital. But no one was
50 W A L L
allowed to accompany me, not even my
mom. Barefoot, carrying nothing with me,
and wearing the same clothes for the last
few days, I got in a car. For the first time in
my twenty-one years of life, I was separated
from my family, all by myself, heading
toward the unknown. Would my family be
all right? Would I see my parents again?
Ten days later, my mom managed to
locate me and visited me in the hospital. We
cried and hugged and kissed. But I was not
released yet, for I was still under a doctor’s
care. Finally, after two weeks of being
hospitalized, I was discharged and driven to
the refugee camp where I got reunited with
my family. Oh, the happiness of seeing my
parents and brothers!
The Life of the Man on a Bench
• Dylan Noceda
A cold, crisp air surrounds the land with its captive embrace,
The obscure leaves of the new trees softly whisper in the wind,
Opportunity of a new day’s half-light fills the air,
On a bench, he sits, watching the shadows move.
The sun has risen from her kingdom in the East,
Until, finally, the whole of her head peeks over the mountain range,
And at last, her blinding hue is in full view,
On a bench, he sits, watching the shadows move.
The sun, now highest in her sky of blue,
Forces on the trees a greener hue,
While gray clouds clash with a blue sky,
As more people begin passing by,
On a bench, he sits, watching the shadows move.
Arriana Figueroa
The Life of the Man on a Bench • Dylan Noceda
52 W A L L
The Life of the Man on a Bench • Dylan Noceda
The air has turned musky, polluted,
Opportunity seems to fade away,
As does the Sun and her everlasting shine,
Slowly, she sinks to light another day,
While to his, there comes night.
And just like that,
The shadows disappear,
As the sun has escaped to her Westward Kingdom,
While he, on the bench, remains wondering.
On a bench, he sits, covered in Night’s darkness,
The shadows visible no more,
And longing, promising,
To begin the next day with morning’s optimism,
An eternal shadow covers his World.
On a bench, he sits, waiting for the Shadows to move,
But they never reappear.
A Fallen Fate
• Sarah Anderson
he crack it glistened; the crack it
gleamed, spreading crystalized webs
of broken glass across my windshield.
The destruction radiated under the sun,
obscuring the vast assortment of life in
the city streets. It had been a week since it
happened, and a peculiar apathy had settled
over me like the haze of a familiar storm.
Winter was looming over the barren trees,
and I didn’t know just how much more I
could take. I parked my truck in the alley behind
my building, not in my usual spot. From
my apartment there was a clear view of the
alley’s narrow stretch. I grabbed the files
scattered across the front seat and felt my
hand linger on the door handle, as it often
did now. And I realized then, that my truck
had been the only thing she ever touched.
I breathed in all the misery and madness I
could take and opened the door. I grazed
the evergreen hood delicately and felt
the crinkled metal under my palms. My
hands traced the ridges of the accident, the
landing spot of a descending soul who by
God or grace struck my car as I drove down
54 W A L L
9th Avenue. My daughter’s birthday cake
buckled in the front seat as her humble body
came hurtling down from the high clouds
that loomed above the rooftops. I closed my
eyes now, my hands still entranced with the
terror I had been given. The sound of the
crash was still so clear, how her limbs were
propped so poetically in their lifelessness.
In that moment, my entire life was taken
from me. I had seen my fear articulated and
alive, and now I longed for the unknown
darkness that once followed me. As I walked to the elevator, my neighbor
Grant caught a glance of me through the
closing doors and quickly reversed their
motion. “Hey, hey Jordan,” he sputtered, patting
me on the back, his tall frame hovering
over me, his other hand gripping a bag of
groceries. “Hi there.”
“You catch the rest of the game last
I didn’t bother to respond. I felt trapped
in his shadow and the ignorance that
surrounded him.
A Fallen Fate • Sarah Anderson
“How are you doing? You look a little,
gazing out the window, down towards my
uh, a little distant.” His light eyes searched
wounded truck. I couldn’t absolve myself of
for relief in mine, one I knew I couldn’t
the constant ruminations, the confusion of
offer. this tragedy that was plastered all over my
“Long day,” I lied. I had spent half the
life. I felt prompted to move and to shake
day reliving the horror of her death, the
myself of this horror. I sat down at my desk
images haunting me relentlessly. We both
and gazed at the ungraded papers of my
gazed upward at the shifting digits, hovering
seemingly former life, one consumed with
in the awkward air.
students and family, not the corpse of a lost
“So, I heard that girl, the one who
woman. Once in the elevator, the anger I
jumped, was schizo. Totally out of her mi--”
had gathered was waiting there for me to
“No she wasn’t.”
reclaim it. I found myself furious at the
“Well, that’s what I hear---”
circumstances of fate, of the future’s awful
“You don’t think I would know? For god
uncertainty. She must not have been happy,
sakes, Grant, don’t
I pondered. Her
you think I would
husband didn’t love
I had seen my fear
fucking know. She
her as she should’ve
landed on my car!”
been loved. How I
articulated and alive,
I was angrier than I
loved her. and now I longed for the could’ve
could’ve predicted.
unknown darkness that
Grant turned away,
doors crept open
ashamed of his
once followed me.
and standing there
callousness, and I
were Amy and our
turned envious of
his detachment. “Hi honey,” she cooed as she leaned in
When I crept inside the apartment, a
to kiss me. She pulled back and glared at
stillness resonated throughout. Slowly I
me. “So it’s every night this week?”
walked to the kitchen and found a note
“Let’s go, Jessie. Daddy’s got dinner
stuck to the cabinet. They wouldn’t be home
plans.” until 8, it read. I poured myself a drink and
I swiveled in the haziness of my
untucked the photograph from my history
ambivalence toward them as Jessie waved
book. As I drank, my eyes met hers, Mrs.
goodbye. Her innocence to the sinister
Alice Grey, the young wife of a successful
world she was coming to know left me with
banker. Her beauty emanated even through
a hollowness I’ve yet to forget.
the glaze of film. Mrs. Alice Grey, the
There I was again, idling down 9th
woman I had seen once on the corner where
Avenue. Small groupings of candles were
our two buildings met, who smiled as she
arranged around the site. The candles
walked down towards the subway, who was
should really ordain the front of my car.
now gone to this world, but everywhere to
Together Alice and I could drive around
me. the block like the ghosts of lives past and
By 7:30, I was sufficiently drunk and
remind the ones we knew how much we
A Fallen Fate • Sarah Anderson
used to feel, how much we used to assume. Then I saw him. Mr. Grey walking
solemnly down the street in the opposite
direction of her burial ground. I watched
him with an animosity fueled by liquor and
injustice. Why couldn’t he save her? Why
did he leave it to me? My grip on the wheel
tightened. I followed him three blocks
before I watched him turn into a small,
colorless diner. I contemplated my actions
and considered turning back, going home to
people who loved me and were living. Then
the reflection caught my eye, and I covered
the glaring cracks as they shadowed across
my face and hand. I sat in the booth just behind him
and the two men he had joined. I ordered
coffee and determined whose voice was Mr.
Grey’s. I had no idea what I intended to do,
but I wanted to know her better. I wanted to
understand the man she had chosen to give
her life to. “I can’t be alone there. All her drawings
everywhere make me so sick and sad.”
“Why don’t you come stay with me and
Kelly? We have an extra room for you.”
“I can’t leave her. I can’t.” Mr. Grey
started to sob. I hung my head and felt his tears on my
skin. I walked outside into the rain in the
midst of all my mournful sorrow. I still had
a wife. I still had a heartbeat. I inserted the
keys to the truck and stopped. I decided to
walk in the rain and drench myself in the
moment etching its way into the past. When I finally made it home, I quietly
came inside to find Amy asleep on the
couch, the fuzz of infomercials filling
the room. As I walked to the bedroom, I
stopped and peered into Jessie’s pink room.
She, too, was sleeping, her arms delicately
out beside her as if she was falling through
her dreams. I sat and gazed at the smallest
part of me and felt the life I had lost creep
back through every exhalation. I stood to
leave and as I leaned to kiss her forehead,
I tripped and knocked the shelf above her
bed. The collision forced a small angel
statue to fall from its place, and it hit me
atop the head. 56 W A L L
Jumpers of the Bridge
• Chad Stephen Leslie
Mona represents pineapple chlorine mango sunsets, vertical smiles and
winding coast hips. Her kiss kiss kiss starburst lips, palm tree eyelids and
red lint cardigans make Ziggy’s forehead slick, his legs like a honey jar
tipped. With necks bent the two look over the edge, both remembering warm
purple skies, farmers markets, cherry-shaped car scents and Central Coast
drives. Below, rocks are pounded to sand. Above, lightning cracks illuminate ragged cliff terrain. Suicidal lovers sting. With fingers linked, the two
leap into the earth’s breath and fly like little kids.
Don’t Leave Before Me
• Jimie S. Cespedes
And if you hear me
Once in a lifetime
Maybe get near me
And find that I’m okay
I’ll always wait here
Stand right beside this way.
My words can’t offer
What I think and feel inside
So, come to my awkwardness
Rub my hair and say it’s alright
For I’m just a pauper,
broken, torn -- hung out to dry
And all I’m asking
Is just to step above this foolish pride
Cuz I may not have a chance
But it’s the one in hell I’ve got to take
For if I turn my back,
stay deep inside or run away
58 W A L L
Don’t Leave Before • Jimie S. Cespedes
I might be missing out
On seeing what you might find today
Yeah, I might find myself missing out
On seeing you free inside this grace.
So, if you ever need me
Just that once in a lifetime
Look hard believe me
It may just be me you’re hearing of
Don’t leave before me
Don’t leave before me, no
Don’t hurt yourself alone in the dark
Don’t stumble upon those stairs
Don’t hate me when I care
And please don’t stop me when I share
So should you need me
I’ll be there to hold your cares
So don’t leave before me, love.
• Megan Reynolds
This is the first chapter of a novel.
ilian stood in front of her mom’s walkin closet door, terrified. There were
plenty of reasons she hated the closet.
Monsters were one of them. She clutched
her stuffed kitten to her chest, taking a
deep breath. With her other hand, she
touched the door knob. A shiver slithered
down her back — not just because it was
cold, but because she almost expected the
door handle to rattle. Turning the knob,
she cracked the door open enough to peer
in. She eased her stuffed partner’s head into
the crack to scout ahead. After a moment
she pulled him back and looked into his
“What did you see, Mittens?” she
Even though he said nothing, she
“Okay. I’ll look, too,” she said, reluctant.
Light seeped through the small crack
into the closet, not providing enough
visibility to see all the way to the back. Lilian
scanned the closet, trying to make out what
shapes she could. Her eyes stopped on a
larger object.
60 W A L L
The object shrank into the shadows,
knocking a few hangers off the racks. Lilian
leapt away from the door and raced out of
the bedroom with Mittens. Once in the hall,
she turned and stared back into the room,
her heart pounding. They sat in silence
together, waiting for something more to
“Is that you?” she asked.
Silence answered back.
Lilian inched her feet, one in front of the
other, until she finally reentered the room.
As she reached the closet, a creak from the
wooden floorboards echoed through the
half-open door.
“Hello?” Her voice quivered.
The closet door flew open. Lilian shut
her eyes and screamed as she was picked
up by her arms and whisked upwards.
Released, she fell and bounced onto her
mom’s floral bed. Lilian opened her eyes
and began to laugh. Her mom stood at the
foot of the bed, grinning at her.
“One more!” Lilian cheered.
“We’ve been playing hide-and-seek all
Dual • Megan Reynolds
night, Lily. Don’t you think we should take room table, she watched as Mom finished
a break?” Mom asked.
scooping the rainbow sherbet into two
“No, you’ll just make me go to bed,” separate bowls, placing one of the bowls in
Lilian replied.
the microwave for a few seconds. After she
Mom paused to think. “Well, I guess
waited the longest ten seconds of her life,
I’ll have some ice cream by myself then. the half-melted ice cream was placed in
Mittens, do you want to join me? Lily front of her.
doesn’t want to take a break.”
“Thank you, Mom!” She smiled and
Lilian hugged Mittens tight against her,
stuck in two spoons, propping Mittens up
waiting to call her mom’s bluff. Arching a
near one of them before starting to eat the
brow, her mom left
ice cream herself.
the room. After a few
By the time she had
seconds the pressure
finished, she had
became too much.
about things in the forgotten all about
Lilian jumped off the
bump on her
closet. The only thing the
bed and raced after
hiding in them is me,”
her. She ran through
“Go get ready for
the tan hallway and
bed while I clean the
Mom joked.
toward the wooden
dishes,” Mom told
her mom as she thundered down the steps.
Lilian climbed down the dining room
“Lily! Don’t run down the—”
chair and pushed her way back through the
Catching her toes on the last step,
door leading into the living room. As she
Lilian lost her footing and crashed to the started towards the stairs, she noticed that
floor. She looked across the living room in
the front door was unlocked. She quickly
shock, reaching with one hand to cover the turned the lock, and then bounded up the
bruise on her head. A faint object darted
stairs towards her room.
across the corner of her vision. Startled, she
A little while later, Mom joined her and
looked over to the window. Nothing.
sat on the edge of Lilian’s pastel pink bed.
“Lilian, are you alright?” Mom knelt
“Sleep well tonight, we’re waking up early
beside Lilian, pulling her into her arms.
“I’m okay, Mom.”
“Okay, Mom.” Lilian smiled as Mom
“I’ve told you a million times—” Mom
tucked in the sheets around her. “Will you
paused, looking into Lilian’s apologetic leave my nightlight on tonight?”
eyes. “It’s alright. I’m glad you’re okay.
“I thought you didn’t need it anymore,”
Come on.” She helped Lilian to her feet and
Mom said, tilting her head.
ushered her into the kitchen.
“Just for tonight, and leave my door
A small oak cabinet beside the fridge
cracked. Can you check my closet, too?”
contained exactly what Lilian wanted:
“You don’t need to worry about things
three spoons, one for each family member.
in the closet. The only thing hiding in them
Jumping into her place at the dining is me,” Mom joked.
Dual • Megan Reynolds
Lilian still felt uneasy and offered
Mittens to her Mom.
Mom flipped Mittens over to slide
open a zipper on his stomach. Unzipping it
revealed a small box with batteries. Pressing
one of the buttons near the box, Mom said,
“I love you, Lily.” Then she sealed it back up
and handed it back to Lilian.
Lilian squeezed on Mittens’ paw,
causing him to coo out in her Mom’s voice,
“I love you, Lily.”
“Does that help?” Mom asked.
“Thank you,” Lilian said as she
hugged Mittens tight.
“Sweet dreams, Lily.” Mom leaned
over and kissed Lilian on the forehead.
“Sweet dreams, Mom.”
Lilian’s eyes jolted open. She recognized
the sound that had woken her up. Her closet
doors were rolling open. Lilian’s heart began
to race. Taking silent but deep breaths, she
listened as the doors glided along the track.
The floor creaked just outside the closet
door. She placed her hand on Mittens’ paw
and squeezed.
“I love you, Lily,” Mittens said into
the silence.
The movement stopped. Lilian
refused to turn her body around to face the
closet door, too afraid of what she might
see. A moment passed as she tried to assure
herself her mom was right, that nothing
was in her room. Another creak told her
she was not imagining things.
“I love you, Lily,” Mittens said once
more, bringing in another wave of silence.
“Lily?” her mom called from down
the hallway. “Is everything okay?”
Lilian shot up in her bed and turned
62 W A L L
to face the center of her room. A man
loomed over, glaring at her.
“Mom!” Lilian screamed as she
jumped out of bed, trying to run past the
man and through the door.
The man pushed her back against
the floor and slammed her door shut.
“Lily! Hold on!” Mom yelled, slamming
against the door. The man pressed his
weight against the door to keep it shut.
Lilian picked herself up and ran to
the window. Grabbing Mittens, she climbed
out onto the ledge of the roof. She crawled
across the slanted roof toward her mom’s
window and peered inside. Lilian knocked
on the glass to get her mom’s attention.
Mom glanced toward her, eyes wide.
Abandoning Lilian’s room, she raced into
her own and slammed the door behind her.
She popped open the window and pulled
Lilian inside, placing her on the ground.
Reaching behind the dresser under the
window, Mom pulled out a small black box
with “Colt 1911” written on the side. A
solid black gun rested inside.
With a few quick motions, Mom loaded
the gun and moved towards the door. “Lily,
I want you to stay here. Close your eyes and
cover your ears. I’ll be right back.”
The door burst open, knocking Mom
backwards and to the ground. The gun
slid across the ground and under the bed.
Mom got back up and rushed towards the
man. He met her rush and pushed her back
against the wall.
Lilian dropped Mittens. She crawled
under the bed and searched for the gun.
She felt cold metal with the tips of her
fingers and pulled the object closer. Gun in
hand, she crawled back out from under the
bed and pointed the heavy weapon at the
Dual • Megan Reynolds
Her eyes met the man’s before he
yanked her mom by the hair and whirled
her in front of him. He pulled a knife out
of his pocket and set it against her mom’s
“Tell her to put the gun down and come
with me,” the man said.
Lilian’s heart hammered. She knew that
without her mom, she couldn’t escape the
man. Her mom would never let her be taken
away by anyone. The gun shook violently in
her hands, the mixture of weight and terror
taking its toll.
“Shoot him!” Mom shouted.
Lilian swallowed and pulled the trigger.
A loud shot echoed in the room. The gun
went flying out from Lilian’s suddenly
numb hands. The man’s knife clattered
against the floor, and he fell after it, lifeless.
Shaking, Lilian looked at her mom. She
stood motionless over the man’s corpse.
Placing a hand on her lower chest, she took
a step forward and then tumbled to the
“Mom!” Lilian sprang to her side.
“It’s okay,” Mom whispered as she
reached out to hold Lilian’s hand.
Lilian felt the warm blood slick her
fingers. “I’m sorry,” she said, her voice
trembling. “I’m so sorry!”
“It’s not your fault, Lily,” Mom said,
taking deeper and deeper breaths. “You’re
safe. That’s all that matters.” Her eyes
started to close.
“No, Mom, please.”
“I’ll… be… here…” Mom reached up
and tapped Lilian’s heart. “I…I….”
Mom’s hand dropped and slid against
the ground until it met Mittens’ paw. She
gave it a weak squeeze.
“I love you, Lily.”
“I love you too, Mom,” Lilian said
through her tears, as she watched her
mom’s eyes close.
Potential Vessel
• Anibal Santos
Lying on the floor, I look up at the creature.
It hovers above me looking directly at it.
I close my eyes shut, but it is still visible.
I try to escape reality this way, too.
But now the manifestation – what was once a life – blocks that path.
This is how I used to run away from myself.
I was never going anywhere, I know.
Stagnation is my fault and my fault alone.
The creature easily peels me open to enter.
I hear it inside.
I feel it inside now,
Twisting and contorting.
Men are supposed to be strong.
Men are not supposed to cry.
Its presence is stronger when we are alone.
My stomach always feels unbalanced when we are visited by the malformation.
Stagnant, I allowed it to grow.
“It isn’t real,” I tell myself.
“You don’t exist,” I tell it.
The creature opens its mouth and through its ragged teeth it echoes,
“You don’t exist.”
64 W A L L
The Creature
• MaryKay Keehn
What Life Is
• Kyoung Park
66 W A L L
The City
• Paul “Jeep” Eddy
Dry Point 8.75” x 9.75”
Color Pop
• Jason Ra
68 W A L L
Lavender Days
• James Phan
Phases of Dalton
• Jayne Osborne-Dion
Graphite 8” x 10”
70 W A L L
The Invisible Chairman
• Bernard Echanow
Charcoal 16” x 22”
Heavy Rope
• Lhoycel Marie Teope
72 W A L L
Because Daddy Loves Me
• Paige Organ
Bath Day, Bright Sun,
Bad Men and Witches and Big Bad Wolves?
Daddy picks me up out of the washtub
I pee-peed my bed instead of the bucket and dries me off before setting me on the
last night, and Daddy wasn’t happy. At bed. I sit on my favorite blue-like-the-sky
least it was Bath Day, and he didn’t have to
sheets and wiggle my toes while Daddy
bring up the washtub again, he says. I get to
uses the leftover water to clean the pee-pee
play with the bubbles while he scrubs me. sheets. Daddy’s sitting in the little round
I giggle when he pokes
circle of bright light
my tummy and tells me
from the higher-thanI would never want my-tippy-toes window
to finish the dinners he
brings me. I’m getting to be alone without
that shows The Outside.
so skinny. I poke him Daddy. Who would I like that circle. On
back and tell him to
Sunny Days like this,
eat, too. I tell Daddy keep out all the Bad
it’s warm and soft,
Men and Witches and and I nap there until
his hugs are pokey and
hard, and I can feel
it slowly moves away.
Big Bad Wolves?
his ribs sticking out. I
It’s awfully nice for
think I said something
something that comes
bad, because Daddy
from The Outside.
looks sad. He says there isn’t enough money
When Daddy finishes, he plops me
for the two of us, Sasha Sweetie, so I have
on his lap and starts to brush my hair. It’s
to eat Daddy’s share. Daddy says he’d work,
down to my ankles now, but Daddy only
but he can’t leave me all alone in My Room. cuts it when I start to trip on it. Daddy likes
What if something happened and the Bad my hair long. It’s pretty and dark just like
Men came? I would never want to be alone Mommy’s, he says. Daddy says I look just
without Daddy. Who would keep out all the like Mommy. Just like her, just like her, just
Because Daddy Loves Me • Paige Organ
like her, he keeps saying while he brushes.
Bath Day, Big-Round Moon,
It’s boring. I forgot to bring my blocks to
play with while he brushes and brushes. I sit
I wake up and see the big line on the
and I try not to fidget because Daddy likes ceiling where the two walls meet in a
me to sit still until my hair is just as silky as triangle point. I can hear Daddy yelling
Mommy’s, but he’s brushing the same spot outside again. At least, it sounds just like
over and over. Just like her, just like her, just Daddy. I told Daddy about it before, but he
like her. I stand up and Daddy doesn’t pull says I have a silly imagination. Just ignore it,
me back down again, so I go to my toy box Sweetie. But I know I hear it. I hear Daddy
in the corner across from my bed and grab roaring like a lion: Clarice! Clarice! Clarice!
my blocks. When I turn
And I hear things being
around, Daddy’s still
thrown around: big
brushing the air where I cover my ears with
things, heavy things.
my hair was, staring at my pillow to keep
Things big as my toy
nothing and saying I
box. I focus on the
out the noise until faint funny patterns in
look just like Mommy.
Daddy gets silly like the yelling stops and the ceiling’s white paint
that sometimes. I go
and try to sleep. I hear
back to his lap and play
breaking and clanging
with my blocks and get
and crying and Clarice!
my hair brushed until
Clarice! Clarice! I want
the circle of light moves and starts to turn
to run over to the door on the floor and
pound on it and call for Daddy because I’m
Orange Light is when Daddy brings me so scared, but he never comes when I hear
dinner, but I think he forgot again today. I the screams. I cover my ears with my pillow
turn to ask him if I’m getting dinner tonight
to keep out the noise until the yelling stops
and he jerks like I just woke him up. Daddy and only the crying is left.
stops brushing. He looks at the fading light
and tells me not today, maybe tomorrow.
Story Day, Warm Sun,
It’s time for bed. He tucks me in and runs
his hand through my hair before kissing
Daddy says I get to hear two stories
me on the forehead. Good night, Clarice, I
today! I didn’t pee-pee my sheets last night
love you. Sometimes Daddy calls me that,
so I get an extra story. One is about a little
even though I’m Sasha. Maybe it’s a namegirl just like me who went to The Outside
that’s-not-a-name, like Sweetie. He squats
into the woods and found a pretty house
and unlocks my door and begins to climb made out of lots and lots of candy. I told
down the ladder. All I can see is Daddy’s Daddy I want a house made out of frosting
head sticking out of the square hole and he
and gingerbread and sprinkles. Can I go
gives me a sad look before he climbs all the
to The Outside and find one? But Daddy
way down and closes the door. I hear the
says it was a trick to get little girls like me
lock click before I can ask why.
inside so the evil Witch could eat them
74 W A L L
Because Daddy Loves Me • Paige Organ
for dinner. He makes a frowny face. The
world is dangerous, he says. There are a lot
of Bad Men that are going to take me away
from Daddy. The other story is about a girl
named Ruh-pun-zul. Her name is funny,
but she has pretty, long hair like me. She
lived in a tall, tall tower her Daddy built to
keep all the Bad Men out. She loved her life
in her Room, and her Daddy would climb
up her long, long hair to bring her all sorts
of treats and they’d laugh and play and read
stories all day. The End. I ask him if she ever
went to The Outside. Maybe she wanted to
because maybe The Outside was fun, too.
Daddy didn’t like that. He starts to get loud
and growly and his lips get all snarly and
show his butter-yellow teeth. No, Sasha.
Outside is bad. Even the good things are
really bad things pretending to be good.
Don’t you ever think about going outside
again! His eyebrows are almost touching
and the big dark circles under his eyes get
deeper and he’s scaring me, but I don’t say
it. Stay inside where Daddy can take care of
you, understood? I nod and he goes back
to being Daddy. He hugs me tight, so tight
I can’t breathe. I tell Daddy it hurts, but he
keeps holding me and tells me he won’t let
them get me. I hug him back as much as I
can. Good thing I have Daddy to keep me
safe, just like the Daddy in the story.
Play Day, Fluffy Clouds,
Daddy gave me paper and crayons
to draw with until he comes back from
running errands. I worry a little when
Daddy leaves, but he always comes back
around Orange Light to make me dinner.
I think about what I want to draw today:
my bed or my blocks or Daddy and me. I
usually draw those, but today I get an idea.
I want to draw The Outside. The window is
too high for me to see through on my tippytoes, but I have help. I scrunch my face and
push as hard as I can and the toy box finally
moves. It’s big and heavy, half as big as me,
but I push it under the window. Then I take
my chair and put it on top of the toy box
lid and climb up. It’s wobbly, but it’s high
enough for me to see.
I gasp at the sight. It’s bright and as
colorful as my crayons, not at all dark and
scary, but, more importantly, The Outside
is HUGE! No wonder Daddy says it’s a big,
dangerous place. I can still see the blue
sky and the poofy clouds from before, but
there’s so much more. I can also see a big
something across from us. I think it’s a
house, like in the stories, but I’m sad it’s not
made out of candy. Still, it’s way bigger than
I imagined. There’s green on the ground all
around it, with thick white lines breaking
it up. And there’s a big black line with
yellow dashes all the way from left to right
at the very bottom of the window. Then,
something strange happens. A Beast walks
into view on the white line that runs along
the side of the black line. Only it’s not a
Beast. It’s not huge and scary like a Witch or
a Big Bad Wolf. It almost looks like Mommy,
but with yellow hair, not dark brown. It’s
talking and pressing something rectangleshaped and shiny and bright against its ear
when it turns a little. It sees me out of the
corner of its eye. Uh oh. It makes a face
like it just saw a spider, pointing at me and
making big mouths while it grips the thing
in its hand closer to its ear. I’m so startled,
I flinch backwards and fall off the chair and
fall all the way down to the ground onto my
butt. It saw me. Oh no. I have to tell Daddy.
Because Daddy Loves Me • Paige Organ
Oh no no no no no. I curl up on the floor
and hold myself until Daddy comes back.
to it all day long as I lie on my bed and poke
at the purple ouchies all over me. They’re
everywhere, but there are a lot on my wrists
Play Day, Orange Light,
this time and you can see the outline of
Daddy’s fingers. I start to count the ones
The chair shatters against the wall I can see, and then I feel the ones on my
when Daddy throws it with a roar, then he back. Thirty-seven. Two less than last time.
turns and glares at me. He’s shaking and If each one is a mark of how much Daddy
his breath is hard and raspy. I know what’s
loves me, does he love me less now because
going to happen next. I try to run, but he’s
I didn’t listen? Because I saw The Outside?
faster. I kick and bite, but Daddy’s stronger.
It’s getting close to Bath Time when
Daddy pushes me backwards and grabs
I hear a ding-dong and then some deep
my arms and presses me
voices talking to Daddy
against the bed. I apologize.
through the floor. I always
Please, Daddy, please. I’m
hear voices other than
sorry; I’ll never look at
Daddy’s after the dingplease. I’m
The Outside again. Daddy
dong, but Daddy always
sorry; I’ll never
tells me he’s sorry, too, but
tells me I’m imagining
this is for my own good, look at The
things, Sasha Sweetie.
because he loves me. No,
Outside again.
no, please, Daddy, no. I’ll
doesn’t sound happy at the
be a good girl. I promise.
voices today. They get very
I cry and say I’m sorry, but
loud, even Daddy’s, and
it’s too late. Daddy is already unbuckling his I hear a loud slam and a lock click before
belt. I love you, Clarice.
Daddy’s fast footsteps get closer. The keys
jingle a lot before he swings my door open
Bath Day, Sad Clouds,
really quick and pops his head up. His eyes
are big and looking everywhere before he
It hurts all over. I try to sit up, but I
sees me. Daddy climbs up really fast and
can’t feel my legs except for the ouchies so I runs over to me. He grabs me hard on my
lie on my bed and look at the window. The
shoulders and he tells me we’re playing a
clouds look like Daddy’s mashed potatoes:
surprise game of hide-and-seek. I tell him
big, grey and lumpy. I try not to think of it’s Bath Day, not Play Day, but Daddy says
dinner. Daddy didn’t let me have any last
this time it’s a special game. I hear a loud
night either and my tummy hurts almost as
bang bang bang before a noise that sounds
much as the rest of me. Poor clouds. They just like when Daddy smashed my chair.
look like they’re about to start crying. I feel
The voices are back, howling like the Big
like crying, too. I’m waiting for the pitter
Bad Wolf, and they are getting closer. They
patter of rain on the roof. Daddy says it’s never got closer before. She’s in the attic, I
loudest here because I’m closest to it, but I hear from below. I’m so scared, and Daddy
don’t mind. It’s fun to listen to. I can listen
sounds scared, too, when he says it’s part
76 W A L L
Photograph by Jim Langford Tr
Because Daddy Loves Me • Paige Organ
Because Daddy Loves Me • Paige Organ
of the game; don’t worry Clarice. The rules
are just a little different this time. You have
to hide better than ever before; don’t move,
don’t make a noise, and don’t come out until
I say so, no matter what happens. I won’t let
them take you away.
I don’t wait for him to start counting
or cover his eyes, the voices are so scary. I
crawl under the bed and press far back into
the corner and lie flat against the ground.
If I put my cheek on the wood, I can see up
to Daddy’s ankles. I hold my breath just in
time to hear the loud crack and see chunks
of wood fly up from my door.
There are two large Beasts, each as big as
Daddy, crawling out of the hole in the floor
where my door was. But they’re wearing
navy blue shirts and pants with belts and
shiny gold things on their chest, not rags
like in Daddy’s stories. They start howling
again, even louder and scarier than before.
Where is she? Where are you keeping her?
Daddy keeps yelling back, stay away from
her you bastards! You won’t take her from
me! I hear POW POW POW POW and I
close my eyes and press my hands against
my ears as hard as I can, but they still keep
ringing. They ring, ring, ring even when
I take my hands away and open an eye to
peek out.
I see the Beasts heaped on the floor.
They look like Daddy. Not all hair and
fangs and claws. Maybe they’re like the Big
Bad Wolf that dressed up like Grandma to
eat the little girl, looking nice to fool me.
I would have fallen for it if Daddy wasn’t
here to get them. The floor around them is
a dark, dark, glossy red puddle like the time
Daddy spilled my nail polish, only much
darker. It’s the darkest red I’ve ever seen and
it’s soaking all the chips of door-wood all
78 W A L L
over the floor. I almost reach out to touch it,
but I remember I’m still playing the special
hide-and-seek. Daddy hasn’t told me to
come out yet. I wait and try not to sneeze
at the smell of dust, burning, and pennies.
The ringing slowly goes away and I hear
something hit the floor near Daddy’s feet. It
looks like a big black L, shiny and metal. He
tells me it’s safe to come out now, that the
Bad Men aren’t going to hurt me anymore
or try to take me away. I wriggle back out
and run across the puddle to him. It’s warm
and sticky, and I leave wet footprints behind
me. He wraps me in a big hug, squeezing me
tight. He smells like burning and pennies,
too. I hear his voice rumble through his
chest that we have to go. They found me and
there will be more soon. When he looks at
me, I can see the big, wild eyes again. His
hands are shaking. He has red splatters of
paint on him, speckling his shirt and pants
and skin. I look down and see he got the red
on me, too.
We need to go away, he says, far away
where they can never find us. He tears the
blanket off my bed and wraps it around my
head before picking me up over his shoulder.
I can feel him running and breathing hard.
We’re bouncing and moving down before
moving forward again. He says we’re going
for a ride, but I’m not allowed to see the evil
Outside World and keep quiet in the Trunk,
okay? I hear the chirp-chirp I always hear
when Daddy goes to do errands, then the
sound of something opening. I’m thrown
against rough fabric and I hear a slam
all around me. There’s a rumble of a big
machine starting, followed by a loud screech
as I’m pressed against something also made
of rough fabric. I can feel myself going fast,
even though I’m not moving at all.
Because Daddy Loves Me • Paige Organ
Bath Day, Dark,
I don’t know how long I’ve been rolling
around against walls and scratchy fabric in
the place Daddy called a Trunk. I couldn’t
breathe through the blanket, so I took it
off, but I still can’t see anything, just black
as I’m hit hard against the walls. Sometimes
I heard loud sirens. Sometimes I heard
screeching. Those sounds have gone away
now, and all I hear is the roar and rumble all
around me. I’m scared. Scared of the dark
and the noises and all the Bad Men after us.
But I tell myself it’s okay; I know I’m safe as
long as I have Daddy. Daddy will protect me
and keep me in my nice warm Room with
a soft bed with blue-like-the-sky sheets and
tell me stories and keep all the scary out.
Whatever happens, I know I’m safe because
Daddy loves me.
Keep It in the Family
• Presley Gorr
I keep my hands at hand,
In case I feel my defenses slipping.
I know you want to help,
But you should get back to that bottle I’ve seen you sipping.
Sipping? You finished a little fast;
I guess you didn’t know that I’ve given you a task.
And you’ve given me one, too:
“Stop getting higher than the moon.”
And you actually expect me to follow through?
You drank away seventeen years of marriage
And still didn’t stop.
I guess it didn’t matter
’Cause you made it to the top.
It’s where you want me to go;
You don’t want me to falter.
Now I’m off to the moon,
Because like father, like daughter.
80 W A L L
Personal Narrative
Passing Time
• Cassandra Michalak-Frey
he concept of time is one that
September as I stepped through the double
dates back to the beginning of the doors to the waiting room. The room was
earth’s earliest hour. Time is not the welcoming and cleaner than any of the many
prolonging of fate, nor is it the possibility
other lobbies I had been in. There were big
to stop an inevitable event from occurring.
windows at the front over the entrance
It is a force that
doors that ran the
drives us into a future
length of the wall and
hazed by uncertainty, I sat up as my mom
let in the sunlight from
dragging us along its took my hand and
outside. The freshness
path whether we want looked me in the
of the lightly colored
to accept it or not. I
walls helped make the
eyes and told me
was eight years old
room feel spacious,
the first time life’s full
making it look bigger
force of cruelty was in the seconds that
than it actually was.
unveiled to me, and
hospital was small,
followed, it really did The
there was a moment
and the room units
seem as though time
when time seemed to
seemed to match. I felt
have stopped. I quickly had stopped. my childlike patience
everything in this life
diminish as I sat in the
is beautiful, and with life can come tragedy.
waiting room with my mother’s boyfriend,
The day had come when I had to say my unable to sit still. I was drawing on a napkin
final goodbyes to my mother, a woman who with a pen he happened to have on hand
had shared so much goodness in this world as we both sat on chairs across from each
and who had helped me to shape mine.
other in silence. I could overhear nurses and
It began on an afternoon in early
doctors conversing in the halls behind me
Passing Time • Cassandra Michalak-Frey
although it had become nothing more than
white noise as I was busily immersed in my
artwork. It was only a few minutes after we
sat down that I saw my aunt emerge from
a room and tell us my mother was ready to
see us. It was strange to me that my aunt
was there because I was almost always told
ahead of time if she would be coming to
join us, but I just thought they might have
forgotten to mention it.
As we walked towards the door of what
I guessed was the new room my mother
would be occupying for a while, I felt
something in the air change. I felt a sense of
knowing something horrible was about to
be revealed to me. My aunt pushed the door
open and I was ushered past the threshold
into a room full of my relatives. I felt their
eyes switch from each other to me as soon
as I stepped inside, but all I could focus on
were the two golden eyes of my mother
fixed on mine as she lay in her hospital bed,
summoning me to come to her bedside.
It was then that I looked at my family
around me. Their eyes were full of sorrow
as tears ran down their faces. I turned my
attention back to my mother and for the
first time I let myself truly see the full effects
that the breast cancer had had on her body.
She couldn’t have been more than eighty
pounds, and the light that was on in the
animation of her facial features was hardly
visible through her hollowed cheeks. Her
skin looked paper-thin and ghostly pale,
and in her fragile state she could barely
move her arm from her side as she raised
her hand in an effort to call me to her. The
cancer was killing her right in front of my
Each step I took closer only made
it more evident. As I began to close the
82 W A L L
space in between us, I already knew what
was coming next. Her eyes, although tired,
and her voice, although weak, were the
same I’d always known. What didn’t make
sense to me was that when I reached her
bedside and laid my head on her chest as
she embraced me, her heart sounded like it
always had, completely normal. It sounded
strong as if it were never going to stop, even
though the reality was that it wasn’t going to
beat much longer. I sat up as my mom took
my hand and looked me in the eyes and
told me she loved me, and in the seconds
that followed, it really did seem as though
time had stopped. The unspoken words of
the moment finally passed her lips as she
whispered to me, “Mommy’s going to die.”
My body went numb and all I could do
was watch as my mother started to sob, but
I knew she was trying to hold it in to be
brave in front of me. What she didn’t know
was that she no longer had to be brave for
me because, from that moment on, I felt
something inside me turn on like a switch
in the same instant I felt my heart shatter.
I didn’t want her to feel sad or scared
anymore, and I didn’t want her to worry
about me either. I had to be brave enough
for the both of us even when all I wanted to
do was break down.
After those few intense moments
passed, my mother had my grandma hand
a stuffed dog to me. My mom said she had
gotten it especially for me on the way to the
hospital. She always tried to make light of
situations, be silly, and have fun. I knew that
better than anyone. As I knew someone else
had stopped and gotten it for her, I couldn’t
help but smile at her story. I held the stuffed
dog in my hands and ran my fingers over
the soft fur. Then I noticed the bracelet
Passing Time • Cassandra Michalak-Frey
she had added on it as a collar that read
CASSANDRA. She told me that this dog
was meant for me to know she was always
thinking of me, that if I needed to hug it,
cuddle it, play with it, or just to simply love
it, she wanted me to know that no matter
what, even when I couldn’t see her, she
would always be there with me.
Looking back now, I can see how
much I have grown as a person and how
this helped me become the strong young
woman I am today. I have come to learn
that even though I may not have been able
to stop time as much as I wish I could have,
the time that has since passed has given me
a chance to heal, a chance to grieve, and a
chance to pick myself up and want to do
my best and succeed in this life not only
for my mom, but for myself as well. The
weeks following her death were a blur, but
that day at the hospital will forever haunt
my memory although I’ve also learned to
let the good memories override the bad. I
know she won’t be here in the flesh to see
me graduate college, or be there on my
wedding day to see me walk down the aisle
towards the man I love, or be here to meet
my kids and be with me to watch them as
they grow, but I do know that she’s always
watching. As far as seeing who I become,
what I choose to make of the world around
me, and seeing the events of my life as they
start to unfold, she’s not missing one second
of it. For I know she has a front row ticket
to it all, from the best seat that heaven has
to offer.
Turning Grey
• Dylan N. Stratton
We are reveling in the mediocre meter maid
Who, standing wildly, feeds the state
The crumbs of peasant hands and tv dinners.
The debt collectors rolling their eyes
And turning their martini glasses.
Street people in sidecars racing,
The policemen in back street corners.
Solicitors out to brunch and
Herbie Hancock dead, like jazz.
Dracula and the flying circus play on Saturday,
And Los Angeles is burning.
There are people walking through the schoolyards screaming,
“The tabloids are here.”
“The tabloids are here.”
And “230 Billion dollars. You can have my sneaker.”
The orchids playing in the ashes,
Sitting in the cesspool.
Synthetic men, women and children
Singing merrily in the shadow of the sun.
Daniel Boone,
The High Rise Fat Cat,
Decadence in culture.
Luxury in life,
84 W A L L
Turning Grey • Dylan N. Stratton
The suicide in the closet,
All the little dogs,
The Holocaust Museum,
The Cold War,
The Black Plague,
The Apollo landing,
Declaration of War,
And I, turning grey.
High Society is dead.
The Stock Market will crash.
Because of the constant short change,
Boredom and no solution,
Pious nobodies.
86 W A L L
Mi Young (Jaime) Kim
• Rachel Dellefield
e showed up on her seventieth
birthday. She was sitting by the
open window on an antique floral
armchair made for one, overlooking the
lake and trying to remember all she had
forgotten. It was a lot. And it was exhausting.
But he appeared by the dock and even
though she couldn’t remember much, she
knew his face.
“Jose,” she said, pointing. Her caretaker,
Rosa, looked up and smiled sadly. It was a
smile that didn’t reach her eyes.
“Do you miss him, sweetie?”
Louisa didn’t reply. She knew that Rosa
wouldn’t understand. How could she? That
was her husband, who she missed, who she
loved, who she could feel in her bones, but
how could he be here? He had left years ago,
not because he had wanted to, but because
he was snatched from her. Their fútbol
and cerveza nights stopped. She hadn’t
even remembered those nights until now,
and she couldn’t believe he was here. Why
was he here? And why wasn’t Rosa doing
anything about it?
“Sweetie, did you hear me?” Rosa asked
and again Louisa pointed to the dock. “Jose.”
Rosa looked outside and again smiled
her “I’m-sorry-for-you-because-you’re-oldand-because-you’re-sad-and-alone-andcan’t-remember-anything” smile. All she
could see was a beer bottle buried in the
sand by the boat Jose had once taken them
out on for picnics, buzzed with love, the
sun, and youth. But that was a long time
ago. “I don’t see anyone, Louisa.” “He’s there. Outside. Can’t you see?” Rosa’s pulse raced and her hands chilled
with the thought of Louisa’s hallucination.
“He passed away last year, sweetie. He can’t
be outside. He’s gone.”
“Jose! Jose!” Louisa began to get excited.
He was there. She knew it, he missed her,
he had danced with her after they finished
making dinner, he made grilled cheese
sandwiches for her before she left for work,
he loved her, he would wrap her in his
arms whenever she was upset, he loved her,
he wanted her to be happy, he was so sick
before he left, all he said was sorry, he loved
Cerveza • Rachel Dellefield
her, but she couldn’t remember why, but he her thoughts made sense for the first time in
was here, was he here, she wanted Rosa to
years. All she needed to do was remember.
see him so she could remember, the nights
“Sweetie, do you want lunch? I’m going
were so long without him, he was hers, she
to make you a cake.”
was his, he loved her, and he was here, was
“No. I would like a beer.”
he here for her, he was here, he loved her.
“You can’t. It will make you sick.”
Dammit, the Alzheimer’s, why was he here
“What if I want to be sick?”
and why couldn’t she remember?
“You can’t have a beer,” Rosa said as she
It had started off slowly. First, it was walked to the kitchen, with the floral drapes
small things like forgetting where her and ornate wooden door obstructing her
keys were or what the name of her old real
line of vision. “Enjoy the view, sweetie,” she
estate business was or
her witty one-liners
“I wouldn’t drink it
All she could see was
that never used to
anyway. Jose wanted a
disappoint. Then, it
beer,” Louisa whispered
a beer bottle buried
progressed to when
and shuddered.
her birthday was
Jose appeared at the
boat Jose had once
or how old she was
open window, leaning
or how to read her taken them out on for
in and smiling the smile
favorite novels. Now,
that she had fallen in
she could barely dress
love with. The glistening
love, the sun, and
or feed herself because
roses at the window sill
youth. But that was a
sometimes she forgot
brought out the shine
in his eyes that she had
long time ago. moved or what jeans
adored for forty-five
felt like and it was all
years and definitely
disconcerting because all the thoughts were could not forget.
trapped in her, screaming to be heard, and
“Princesa, princesa, come to the lake,”
she couldn’t articulate a single sentence
the apparition called. “Do you remember?”
most of the time.
But one thing she could never forget
uncomprehending. “No,” she whispered.
was the love she had for her husband. When
“That’s okay. We’ll go and you’ll
he left, she screamed and tore the quaint
kitchen apart looking for her cerveza so she
They trudged outdoors and were struck
could watch fútbol with him, but he had
with the beauty of the outside. The beauty
left and there was no more beer because of the twinkling lake seemed to soothe
he had drunk it all. So she was left with
instantly. It was calm, without a ripple to
her thoughts, or whatever was left of them,
disturb its mirror effect. swirling around, begging to be understood,
“What do you think, Louisa?”
and her head hurt. And now, with him
“It’s gorgeous,” she said as she stared off
outside sitting at the dock waiting for her,
into the open water, with her eyes wide in
88 W A L L
Mahnaz Alemtar
Cerveza • Rachel Dellefield
Cerveza • Rachel Dellefield
“I miss you every day, Louisa. I promised
to take care of you and I failed. I failed and
all I want to do is wrap you up and love
you forever, just like I promised. Do you
remember now?”
And she did. It came flooding in all
at once. Her mind was turning and ached
from the ebb of thoughts rushing through
her weak brain.
“This is where you proposed to me, isn’t
it?” she asked.
A smile splashed onto Jose’s face. “Yes,
my love. This exact spot.”
“And we went on the boat after?”
“Yes. Let’s go. I want to recreate the
happiest day of my life.”
So again, they shuffled to the canoe and
slowly he helped her in as the lake shook
the vessel from side to side. He rowed them
out to the middle as Louisa’s head swiveled
from the lake to the house to the diamond
ring on her finger. She glanced at his feet and
saw the beer can twirling, already finished. “I remember,” she whispered. Her eyes
were glazed but determined. “I remember
why you left. I remember why you failed.
You hurt me, Jose! All you ever did was
hurt me!” And she swiped the beer can
and attempted to drown it in the lake. Her
strength was zapped and Jose grimaced.
“It was out of my control, Louisa. It was
beyond me. I’m so sorry, love. I’m so sorry.”
90 W A L L
“The stupid rum. And the whiskey. And
the beer. Your alcohol was more important
than me. You chose a can of beer over me!”
And Louisa got excited. Her frail body
trembled. She was sick of forgetting. Sure,
it was easier to forget how the alcohol ran
through his veins, how the only way she
could talk to him was to grab a bottle and
drink with him, how angry he would get
at her for forgetting to turn the stove off
or his name, how the stupid beer tore their
marriage apart, how the stupid beer took
the love of her life away from her when she
needed him most, how all she wanted was
to remember, but she always forgot. And
her brain hurt. Her joints ached. And when
she looked up, she couldn’t remember.
“Who are you?” she asked as she
scooted away from her husband. “What are
you doing? Why am I here?”
The panic rose in her voice. She jolted
up and rocked the boat. “Who are you, who
are you, who are you?”
“It’s Jose, Louisa. It’s me. Your husband.
Let me take you home.” And he reached for
her hand. But she couldn’t remember and
her brain hurt and all she heard was white
noise and she heard a splash and she forgot
how to swim.
When Rosa ran to the scene, she found
the canoe tied to the dock and one set of
light footsteps leading into the lake. There
was a full beer can bobbing near the shore.
This Is How We Deteriorate
• Solana Price
Fresh morning dew gathering on my eyelids
Full of dreams and sadness for moments never had,
Threatening to roll down the mountain of my being.
But I feel so small now
Hardly a hill when I’m holding the weight of you.
“If only you go a little longer, they will change.”
He can change, I can change
And we do sway, but to nothing more and everything less.
I am nothing more than stagnant air,
Pushed into the atmosphere underneath the soles of your feet.
Now I’m collecting these bad thoughts like change off the table of millionaires.
I never wanted to be rich in this way.
Personal Narrative
Passwords, PINs, and Pixels
• Mirt Norgren
ast night I sat down at my computer
to work on an assignment for school,
and before I could access the contents
of the page I needed, I was required to key
in a login name and password, perform a
software update, open a browser window,
make my way through two drop-down
menus, repeat the login process, and then
launch an application so I could actually
read the homework instructions.
Something is terribly wrong with this
picture. I am a child of the ’70s. I was
born in 1958, but my full awareness and
participation in my own life didn’t actually
launch until I was entering my teens. It
was as if I had been beamed into my body
at the age of thirteen and had to begin the
journey of navigating my limbs, thoughts,
and actions through a myriad of responses
as I learned to experience my daily life. Not
once did it require a password or a software
update to do so.
I never thought I would become one of
those middle-aged women who ruminate
about the past while wearing rose-colored
glasses, but here I am, unabashedly
92 W A L L
remembering the simplicity of the good
old days. The most complicated device I
owned in 1972 was a transistor radio that
I carried with me to the beach with a bag
of pistachios, a bottle of baby oil, and a
beach towel. Growing up in North Miami
Beach meant that you rode the school bus
in the morning and the city bus to Sunny
Isles Pier in the afternoon. That was the
meeting place for the masses of teenagers
who would gather to exchange ideas, flirt,
consume junk food, and frolic in the clear
warm water of the Atlantic. There were no
smartphones, text messages, tweets, emails,
or Facebook to connect with. If you wanted
to check in with your friends, you simply
had to ride the bus.
In the early ’70s, the most complicated
document in my wallet was a library card.
When I was fortunate enough to earn a
driver’s license, it contained neither my
photo nor a hologram or laminate covering.
There were no screens illuminating light and
letters and information in my classrooms;
instead there was the smell of ink coming
off the still warm paper that had just rolled
Passwords, PINs, and Pixels • Mirt Norgren
off the winding mimeograph machine. The person I was claiming to be.
inky scent would fill the room and in an
The word “access” has taken on a
instant we would know there was a quiz or a
whole new meaning for me since the days
test that day. It was our cue to panic, to search when it meant a trip backstage at a Led
the pages of our homework frantically for
Zeppelin concert. Access is the gateway to
the last glimpse of information before the my life, and it is ticketed by passwords and
ink-stained fingers would drop the smeared secret questions. I live within a vocabulary
and dreaded page before us. I can still see the of technical jargon, webspeak, and the
golden rays of early morning sun filtering language of texting. I own more chargers
through the windows
and devices than I do
onto the surface of my
I never thought I
tiny desk, the wood
The electronic age
deeply scratched with
is evolving so rapidly
would become one
initials or with the
that even the latest
epitaphs of love or
and greatest software
women who ruminate that I purchased only
hatred that remained
from earlier versions
two years ago can
about the past while
of ourselves who had
wearing rose-colored be considered dated
dreaded quizzes in
and, in some cases,
glasses, but here I
those same seats.
completely obsolete.
I don’t believe there
Our GPS systems
was a single acronym
need to be upgraded
remembering the
in my vocabulary
the operating
simplicity of the good annually,
until I was well into
system on my computer
old days.
my twenties. It began
changes more often
with a PIN. A Personal
than the seasons,
Identification Number
and the number of
was assigned to me at the bank that held
passwords I require to move through the
my meager two or three hundred dollars
various websites and devices I use daily
until the inception of the next acronym, the
grows exponentially. I have become a
number, a user of remotes, an introvert, and
I had absolutely no use for my PIN nor a computer geek.
did I know what it was for. I regularly forgot
Once again I find myself craving the
my PIN, and because of the stern bank simplicity of an earlier life that I enjoyed
warnings to never write down or store the prior to the invention of the cell phone.
suspicious PIN in my wallet, it was almost A time when I was forced to engage in
immediately forgotten until I needed it. By conversations with live faces. In the late
then there was virtually no way to retrieve ’70s I moved to sunny California, where
it without countless phone calls to bank surfers and bronzed beauties adorned the
officials whose suspicious natures would
beaches below Sunset Cliffs in the small
leave me wondering if I was actually the town of Ocean Beach. For me, that was a
Passwords, PINs, and Pixels • Mirt Norgren
season of communication through art and
my connection to the people that I worked
music. My friends and I would lounge on and skied and played with on the hill in the
rattan furniture or floor pillows while we
winter and on the hiking trails in summer.
listened to rock operas pouring out of our On this particular occasion, I was stuffing
component stereo systems. We would wax
the pockets of my parka with the various
euphoric about the meaning of the artwork
electronic devices that I would be using
on the covers of our vinyl records and wait throughout the day when it occurred to
for the hiss of the needle as it touched down me that I had forgotten what it felt like to
lightly on the first groove, which would
be suspended on a chairlift with nothing
begin the familiar notes of our favorite more than the sound of the wind blowing
albums. We didn’t own MP3 players that
through the pine trees.
could contain an entire
music collection, nor
had been drowning out
The word “access”
could we download
the solitude and the
new releases with the
has taken on a whole quiet that had always
ease of a keyboard
been the soundtrack
new meaning for
stroke. My music
of the mountain. I had
collection was filed me since the days
forgotten about the
neatly in stacked apple
crunch of snow beneath
crates, the records
my skis and the sound
backstage at a Led
of powder spraying in
Zeppelin concert.
alongside the bricks
tandem with my turns.
and raw wood boards
I knew in that instant
that were assembled along the wall to create that I was slowly allowing technology to
a makeshift entertainment center for my filter and distort my connection with nature
stereo system. It took commitment to enjoy
and other people. There had to be at least
music in the days of vinyl; you had to stick one activity that neither required a charger
close to the turntable and flip the album nor a password. It was time to get back to
when side one ended. It slowed us down; it
riding the bus.
was easiest just to sit and listen.
My chosen profession requires me
About two years ago I realized I could to log in daily. The list of digital cameras,
hear but wasn’t listening, so I stopped
computers, card readers, external hard
charging my iPod and started to jog
drives, and software that I use in any given
without music in the morning. I was ready day as a photographer and a graphic artist
to have one less gadget to fuss over, and in is continually evolving. To stop moving
no time I became accustomed to the quiet. with the floodwaters of new releases in
The moment came to me one morning
an ever-changing culture of technological
when I was getting ready for a day of skiing improvements is to drown. There is no
in the mountain town that I had lived in way to stop what’s coming, so I conform
since the ’80s. I’ve never strayed too far by plugging myself in. Today I will update,
from Mammoth, and I have maintained upload, download, export, save, log in, and
94 W A L L
Passwords, PINs, and Pixels • Mirt Norgren
log out. I will enter countless passwords and
PINs and navigate through a dozen different
websites before half of my day is completed,
and after lunch I will do it all again.
My images may be digitized and I will
speak about pixels and megabytes and
resolution, but I still miss the smell of the
darkroom chemicals that have long since
dissipated. I will not be rolling exposed
film onto reels in pitch-blackness or cutting
negatives into strips or listening to my vinyl
collection. These days I can store the same
information on a drive the size of a car key,
and although the technology is fantastic, in
many ways the magic will be forever lost
to me.
Personal Narrative
Run Like Hell
• Ann Coffee
n 1972 one of the most famous phothe era of the not-so-uncommon “duck and
tos of the 20th century was taken. It is
cover” drills, those drills that were to save us
the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph
all in case of a nuclear attack from a not-soof “The Girl Running” or “Napalm Girl.”
imaginary enemy. Upon hearing a repetition
This black and white photograph graphiof ear-splitting sirens, we kids would rapidly
cally depicts a frightfile out of our classes
ened young girl of
into the school hall“Please tell the school ways, swiftly crouchnine, completely naked
(having ripped off her authorities if there
ing below our lockers
own burning clothes), is to be an atomic
onto our knees with
madly running down
our arms covering our
bomb that levels
a street in a village of
ears, eyes, and heads.
North Vietnam. She,
The entire elementary
along with other villag- will most likely all be
school had to do this
ers, is seen crying out
a three-minute
vaporized, along with within
with pain from burns
time period, thus most
this most ridiculous
sustained in a brutal
of the smaller children
incendiary attack, causwere literally running
ing the viewer to pause,
so as not to get tramgasp, cry out as well for
pled by the older and
this unfortunate victim of 20 century brularger students.
That era was the early 1960s. Living in
Recently I viewed this photograph at its Texas, we were well aware of the atomic
40th anniversary retrospective. It immedi- threats being leveled against the U.S. from
ately brought back certain alarming memo- Fidel Castro, the leader of Cuba, a neighries from my own childhood. I grew up in
boring country located not far from the
96 W A L L
Run Like Hell • Ann Coffee
borders of the southern states. Dire warnings were issued not only by him but also
by the Soviet Union, our Cold War enemy
and greatest military adversary. So intense
were these threats, so credible, that many of
my friends’ families decided to build fallout
shelters, structures built underground for
the sole purpose of housing a family in case
of a nuclear attack.
One of the wealthier families on our
block had constructed one that could sustain
their family for five years. We kids would go
play in these life fortresses and investigate
the array of space-age containers for keeping food and water safe from any radiation
fallout. We would make up games of what
life would be like “after the bomb” and pretend to be the characters in the classic James
Bond flicks, be it Bond himself or one of the
bad guys in such popular movies as Goldfinger or Thunderball.
I remember asking my mother if we
needed to build a shelter. My mother commented, with miffed and muffled mumblings, about how we Americans were
building our own metal coffins, our own
underground prisons, and she wanted no
part of this insanity. Mom felt we need not
run and hide from our troubles but should
figure this dilemma out and quickly.
In October of 1962, the Cuban missile
crisis became the real deal of nuclear threats.
We began having drills on a weekly basis,
sometimes more. The federal government
had ordered all public schools to be in strict
adherence with the national policy for possi-
ble nuclear engagements. Thus, they issued a
proclamation for schools to send home with
their students, a questionnaire for their parents to fill out for precautionary measures.
This official-looking paperwork consisted
of only three questions for our parents to
read, answer, and sign, beginning with the
premise: In case of a nuclear attack, what do
you wish to do?
1. Pick your child up from school yourself.
2. Have an arranged carpool or authorize someone else to take responsibility for your child’s safety.
3. Have your child remain at school
under adult/teacher supervision.
I took this document home for my
mother to sign. After reading it, she paused.
Very calmly, she handed it back to me …
unsigned. She then looked at me straight
in the eyes, informing me in no uncertain
terms to “please tell the school authorities
if there is to be an atomic bomb that levels Dallas, Texas, we will most likely all be
vaporized, along with this most ridiculous
paperwork.” That was that.
She then lifted my chin ever so gently,
looking again into my eyes with her own soft
brown ones. Shaking her head slowly, with
a bit of a tortured expression, she mused,
“Dear Annie, my only advice to you is if
there is an attack, run like hell. Just run like
hell because Hell will be at your heels.”
The Children from the Deep
• Fatemeh Ayoughi
I’m a child from the depths,
disheveled, dirty, tattered.
Pick me up, take me off the streets
during the Human Rights Watch inspectors’ formal visit,
dressed in Christian Dior suits and ties,
so you won’t be embarrassed.
I am a child from the depths,
disheveled, dirty, tattered.
Pick me up, take me off the streets.
until your flabby wives
dressed in satin clothes pass there,
So they won’t be offended
Whispering, “Icky, thank God not mine!”
I am a child from the depths,
disheveled, dirty, tattered.
Pick me up, take me off the streets,
until your chubby children
with a Mother Biscuit
in their backpacks pass there.
So I won’t be a bad role model.
I am a child from the depths,
disheveled, dirty, tattered.
My mat is a Mother Biscuit carton.
The span of the bridge is my comforter.
98 W A L L
The Children from the Deep • Fatemeh Ayoughi
Pick me up, take me off the streets,
put me wherever you stoned my mother
for selling her young body for my milk.
I am a child from the depths,
disheveled, dirty, tattered.
Pick me up, take me off the streets,
put me wherever you hung my father for stealing bread.
We are children from the depths,
disheveled, dirty, tattered,
but full of an inner storm.
No matter where you take us away,
we’ll pick up the flag of freedom anthem’s singers
when they marched toward the rifle
for sharing the butterfly’s dream
in the time of execution.
We are children from the depths,
one day used as disposable soldiers,
for cleaning minefields,
as suicidal bombers on another day.
No matter where you put us,
one day you will be buried
under our uprising tsunami rubble.
Personal Narrative
• Laura Bouzari
ll I see is black. Black and bleak is
all I see. My father holds me close
as the noises get louder. Louder
and louder the booming noise becomes. So
close they sound. I finally wiggle my way
out of my father’s death grip and sit up. I
am stuck in this small nook with my father
and four other random strays living off of
the streets, seeking shelter from the shelling
and doing other things I have been taught
not to speak of, for it would be impure of
me to think of their actions.
This version of the Arab Spring is
supposed to break the centuries-old rust
and crust shingles that clank and creak
more than a loose step. I am fifteen years
old and seeing the cracks blow through the
barricades around me. People lie parallel
to the gutters. Men and women yell at the
top of their lungs as if the stone walls of this
Damascus villa will crumble at their roar.
Crumble to the ground and be done with
already. No more waiting for the end of
this blood cleanse as it has become. But the
shingles continue to fasten.
My father still holds my hand as we pass
100 WALL
the hallway, or what is left of it, along with
the strays in the room. The youngest man
gives me a look that can only be described
as a cross between a gleam and a glare.
What this blond man wants is evident as he
looks over my tremor-filled form from head
to toe, but I know my father will never leave
my side. Sensing my uneasiness, he tightens
his grip: a vise.
“We need to find your mama,” he
whispers in my ear as we pick up our small
leather-torn briefcase.
As I pass the aisles of benches that form
an endless maze, I cannot help but look
at those on the floor. One man covers his
daughter, who looks to be about fourteen
like me, with a burned presidential banner.
I must stop and see this. I cannot leave.
There is nothing I can do to stop this man’s
silenced tears. My father turns mid-step to
walk over red-covered porcelain glass and
catches what caught my eye. He quickly
pivots, holds my head to his chest, and
walks faster through the gates that lead
to the outside. I feel him turn his neck
back towards the father and his deceased
Vise • Laura Bouzari
daughter, and my father’s grip turns to a me out. It is the youngest of the strays with
clamp. He begins to murmur some words
the glare and gleam in his eyes. I jump back,
inaudible to the human ear, but I can tell he
is frightened.
He keeps repeating, “No. No. Father.
“Step over gently, but you must keep your
Father. Help.” As this stranger pushes his
eyes on me. Okay. Do not look anywhere
bloodied blond hair back, I see another
but at me.” My father
hand brace over his
keeps repeating this
right shoulder. It looks
over and over. I keep
like anything but a
blue depths. I keep my
my eyes on his blue
hand, pierced by glass,
depths. I keep my
the fingers split open.
eyes on his chiseled
eyes on his chiseled
His mangled hand
nose. I keep my eyes
at his side, my father
him, as his grip loosens continues repeating
on him, as his grip
loosens around my
my name, “Laura,
around my arm. I have
arm. I have to cross
to cross this bombarded Laura,” as he is laid
this bombarded street
on the street over the
street alone.
alone. Security forces
blond man’s t-shirt.
allow only one person
The blond man saved
to pass at a time. This
him. That stray blond
is my time. I walk, yes, but not far.
man with a glare and gleam in his eye saved
Like a fiery inferno, with embers
illuminating the blackout, another bomb
“Why help my father?” I ask in a mousy
goes off. The noise continues again, but
voice. Clearly, he does not understand what
this time louder. My ears wail from the
I asked.
pain. Beeping machinery continues in the
But he answers with a smirk, “We
blackness. Why can I not get this ringing to
people. We fight. But we people.”
stop? Please make it stop. A wet and coarse
“People?” I ask.
hand yanks me up from the pit in the middle
“People,” he answers.
of the street. I kick and kick against this
The blond man carries what he can
form as my father taught me years ago. But
of my father on his left side and holds my
those hands tighten and become a clamp. I
hand tightly on his right. I see my mother
give up. I have no more strength in me to
bursting into tears. I see the blond man
fight. I am alone. Except for those rocky and shake her hand, turn to me and nod.
ridged hands. Those hands guide me into
I cannot tell you what that nod was
the clearing. I still see dark except for those
about because years later I still do not know,
hands: a stranger’s hands. As the smoke
but clearly it meant something to him. We
begins to clear and the one ambulance
both understood one thing: in this bleak
arrives, I finally see whose hands dragged
second in war, we are all still people.
WALL 101
102 WALL
Stevie Friend
Fish Out of Water
• Kyle Cabrera
he clock reads 9:25 p.m. I lie on
the couch facing the television.
My whole body vibrates and the
vibrations seem to spread throughout the
room and shake the floor, which shakes the
table, which shakes the glass, which shakes
the water it contains.
The news is on and my ma is in the
kitchen behind me cleaning. She hasn’t told
me to go to bed yet. She scrubs away like
a madwoman. Ever since I was real little, I
would watch her do the dishes and notice
how she pays so much attention to every
glass and mug and pot and pan, not missing
a spot or a corner or a crack, like a robot.
That is what she is doing behind me now,
and it worries me.
The clock reads 9:28 p.m. I can’t stop
looking at the clock. Every time a digit
changes, my heart skips, and my breath
gets stuck in my throat. I really do like the
news, but all I want to do is leave and I can’t
because my body has melted to the couch
like a green army figurine that has been
set on fire. I can’t bear to have my ma see
me slink to my room, so I just listen to the
television. My favorite news anchor, Rick
Chapman, talks into the camera. A million
excuses for leaving run through my head
like a long freight train and each car is a
different excuse that hits my brain and flees
just as fast, and I’m looking at the train and
my pupils are moving left to right, left to
right, trying to capture one of them to give
myself a good reason to sneak away, but the
train moves too fast and eventually it passes
by and all I can see is it rolling off into
the distance and I didn’t even get a solid
glimpse at any of the cars. I try to get off the
couch and go to my room, but my back is
still green blowtorched wax that sticks like
glue to the leather, and I can’t move.
The clock reads 9:34 p.m. I think it’s
weird that my ma hasn’t told me to go to
bed. When I came home from school today,
she was moving real fast around the house,
trying to clean up. Yesterday, late at night,
the house had got real messy; I heard it
happen, and today some things were broken
when I woke up. Nights like these scare me.
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Fish Out of Water • Kyle Cabrera
One day I will get big and strong. I swear gaping and twitching and wondering why
I will; I want to tell my ma that. I want
my ma hasn’t picked me up and put me
to tell her that this won’t happen forever back in my bowl and why she doesn’t know
because one day I am going to stop it. But that I need to breathe the air in my room
right now I am only eight and I am scared.
where I belong. I don’t belong out here with
The clock reads 9:39 p.m. My eyes won’t
all this air. I belong in my fish bowl, away
leave the clock
from the things that
alone. I’m sweating
happen at night.
so much now, and
The clock reads
won’t happen forever
my heart beats its
9:45 p.m. I flop
way into my throat. because one day I am
off the couch like
Stella and rise to
tingling and I can’t
my feet and turn
now I am only eight and I around and walk in
stop the T.V. from
spinning in front of
the direction of my
am scared.
my eyes. This whole
room. I step into the
time I have been
hallway and begin
breathing through my nostrils, but now I
to quicken my steps. Over my shoulder I
can’t breathe unless I let my mouth gape
hear my ma whisper goodnight. I can’t tell
open like this fish I used to have named
if she said it or if I am just hearing things.
I don’t say anything back and I run down
When I was four, I remember one time
the hallway to my room, shutting the door
I took Stella out of the water and put her quietly behind me. Once I’m in my room
on the floor because she looked so bored I run across to my closet door. I go in and
inside her little bowl. When I put her on the
shut the door behind me. My closet shares a
ground she flopped around and I tried to wall with the living room, so I can still hear
grab her, but I couldn’t because she was so
the news playing. I listen and I hear my ma’s
slippery and moved too fast.
footsteps across the living room floor as she
When she ran out of energy and I caught walks to the T.V. and turns the volume up.
her, she laid in my palms twitching and
Usually when I leave the T.V. on, my ma will
opening her mouth wide like she couldn’t turn it off. She doesn’t like television. But on
breathe and that didn’t make sense to me nights like this she leaves it on as loud as
because there was so much more air out in
it can go. She does it so I can’t hear what
my room than in her little bowl. I remember
else happens in the room. I press my ear to
I screamed for my ma to come and help me.
the wall and listen to news story after news
She said that fish can only breathe in water
story. Rick Chapman talks about the stock
and she took Stella from my hands and
market, then about an accident that had
put her back into her bowl. Stella stopped
occurred two towns over, then about a new
making her mouth gape and twitching, and scandal at a fast food restaurant chain, then
started acting normal.
about a woman who got sick from a new
And now I am sitting on this couch
diet craze, then about a new and faster way
104 WALL
Mirt Norgren
Fish Out of Water • Kyle Cabrera
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Fish Out of Water • Kyle Cabrera
to file your taxes, then about something
the president had done with some woman,
which Rick Chapman and other news
anchors had been talking about for weeks.
I have no idea what time the clock
reads. I don’t have a clock in my closet, but
by the time Rick Chapman started talking
about that woman who ended up suing the
company that made her diet pills, I figured
forty minutes had passed. Right now I’m
focusing on the sound of the television.
I like it. It is comforting to me for some
I hear a noise that I recognize and I try
to focus on the television now. I know how
he slams his car door. Oh God, it’s starting.
I listen to every word that comes out of the
television, but I can still hear what else is
happening. Rick Chapman speaks through
my wall.
A woman in the Bronx has filed
suit against the Metropolitan Transit
The front door opens violently and a
toxic smell fills the room and drifts into my
room as if it were looking for me.
An eighty-foot tree fell in the middle of a
106 WALL
road and landed on an electric line, causing
power outages…
My ma speaks to him, but his booming,
slurred voice drowns the muffled highpitched voice of my ma.
A fire erupted in a small apartment in
upstate New Jersey…
Things start to bump the walls and hit
the floor, and feet scuffle all around the
living room.
A man is sentenced to twenty-five years
in prison after killing a flight attendant in a
hotel room…
A slapping sound penetrates my ears,
followed by a soft whimper.
This concludes our broadcast. To all those
watching, have a goodnight and God bless.
I put my hands to my ears and begin
to cry. I can’t move. One day I will be big
and I will be able to stop this, but right now
I’m eight and I’m scared. There are muffled
sounds of a body being thrown against
the walls, and then the furniture, and then
the couch. I imagine the vibrations spread
throughout the room and shake the floor,
which shakes the table, which shakes the
glass, which shakes the water it contains.
Personal Narrative
Stand Up
• Bill Baum
randon Gracie, a nine-year-old upon hope that Steve would give in to his
psychopath whose mission in life was
demand. It was the summer of 1979, and on
to torment the hell out of other kids, that day I learned that sometimes standing
told my friend, Steve Barnes, he had three
up to tyranny was the only way to victory,
seconds to get off his bike and fight him no matter if I won or lost the battle.
or else he was “going to get decked.” It was
Brandon could usually be found
a sweltering hot sunny day at De Portola patrolling the school grounds after hours
Elementary School,
on his bike, dressed
where my siblings
in his red O.P.
I absolutely despised bullies. shorts with a comb
and I spent most
of our time playing
sticking out of his
As far as I was concerned,
on the green grass they belonged in prison
back pocket and
fields, kicking or
a worn-out rock
throwing around for life with the mass
band T-shirt. (He
a rubber ball, or
had two, both
riding around on and burglars.
Black Sabbath). His
our BMX bikes
size wasn’t exactly
pretending to be
like Evel Knievel. My brothers, Jimmy and
wasn’t much bigger than I was and that
Bobby, and I pleaded to Brandon to leave
wasn’t much at all. He did love to fight,
him alone, but it was to no avail. Brandon however. He was one of those guys that when
wouldn’t have heard us if we told him that I saw him coming, I went the opposite way.
his entire collection of devil-worshipping I tried to avoid him at all costs whenever
records was on fire. He was having way
possible to evade the inevitable beat down
too much fun with Steve. He just stared at
or humiliating tease session. Pretty much
him with an evil smirk on his face, hoping
all the kids in my grade regarded Brandon
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Stand Up • Bill Baum
the same way. He fed off other children’s
fear: as soon as he sensed it, he was in
control. He held so much power over me
and put so much fear into me that I would
sometimes lie awake in my bed at night for
hours, unable to sleep. Such was my life
under Brandon’s rule.
That day of the bike incident, Brandon
counted to three, but Steve, frozen with fear,
did not move. Maybe he’s just taunting him
to get a scare out of him. Maybe he will leave
him alone, I hoped in much anguish. But
that wasn’t the case. The sound of Brandon’s
knuckles slamming into poor Steve’s
cheekbones was what came next.
Crack! The force of the blow knocked
Steve off his bike and he fell to the ground. I
felt so much pity for Steve as I watched him
slowly get back up to his feet. Tears spilled
down from his eyes. He still was not about
to fight this savage. I wanted to kill Brandon
at that moment, but I, too, was paralyzed
with fear and couldn’t even utter a word.
God, I wish I knew karate! What happened
next planted a seed of hope in me that
would one day grow into a belief that would
change my life.
I absolutely despised bullies. As far as I
was concerned, they belonged in prison for
life with the mass murderers, bank robbers,
and burglars. They beat up on kids like me
who were weaker than them just to get
some thrills. My brothers hated bullies too,
but we were always too scared to stand up
to them -- until that moment.
My brother Jimmy, who was ten at
the time, a year older than me, had seen
enough. He jumped in and fought Brandon,
the Goliath of our neighborhood, rescuing
Steve in the process. I couldn’t believe what
108 WALL
I had just witnessed. Jimmy actually fought
Brandon Gracie! I’d like to say that he went
on to give Brandon a beating that he would
never forget, but that’s not how this story
went down. What Jimmy did was stand up
to Brandon. He didn’t win the fight, but he
didn’t lose it either. Watching my brother
courageously fight this brute gave me a ray
of hope that one day I could do the same,
as eventually I did. After that day, Brandon
never picked on Jimmy again although he
still had fun terrorizing Bobby and I. But
those days were numbered, too.
Not long after Jimmy’s “David and
Goliath” moment, I had had enough of
Brandon’s terror and I stood up to him, too.
As I remember it, I didn’t give Brandon the
beating of his life either, nor did I win the
fight, but I also did not lose. In the process
of standing up to him, I actually won a
different battle: I had triumphed over my
fear of being beaten up and picked on.
After that, Brandon never picked on
anyone in my family again. As I look back
on that day, I wonder how my life would
have turned out had my brother not fought
Brandon. Perhaps I never would have
learned the imperative life lesson that I
believe every person must learn: sometimes
it is necessary to stand up and fight. I
learned that if I ever wanted to overcome
an obstacle that I was afraid to face, the only
way was to face it head on; there is no going
around it. I may not always conquer every
bully or every situation that is holding me
down, but I know that when I stand up to it,
I become free of the fear that imprisons my
being, giving me room to grow so that I can
move forward.
• Bridgette Castleman
I used to believe that fire was an element too wild for me to wield,
Too wicked,
Until I was given a trial by fire
And realized that I had always been burning.
Burning shame, burning embarrassment, burning hope,
Burning rage.
A heart under pressure burst into a spectrum of molten colors
Brimstone blood and a ribcage of white-hot steel.
Lungs like bellows exhale ash and smoke and embers
That no waters could ever temper.
Look into my eyes and you will see not an ocean, but a caldera
Ready to erupt in fury.
I have rekindled my spirit
And will lie dormant no longer.
WALL 109
Personal Narrative
Finding the Light
• Chelsea Wurlitzer
irens blaring in the near distance,
music blasting distastefully loud, my
best friend sitting aside me, yelling
to revive the last bit of conscious attention
I had left as I ran the red light that would
bring me face to face with justice. It was
just another Friday night, fresh and full
of endless possibilities. My friends and I
were drinking copious amounts of alcohol
just as we did any other weekend. The
overwhelming feeling of softness, safeness,
and comfort that I had grown so fond of
instantly took over my sanity and consumed
every inch of my body as the alcohol took
control. I felt invincible, free, and reckless.
I got into my car without a slight bit of
remorse as I turned on the ignition. As I
placed my foot on the pedal, an exhilarating
feeling of relaxation took control of my
hands as well as my brain. I began to fade in
and out of consciousness. I let the blasting
music take control of any negative thought.
The sirens blaring in the background
approached quickly behind as I attempted
to distinguish them from the lyrics of the
song playing. In a jumbled fluster, I looked
110 WALL
to my right to see the horrified look on my
friend Madison’s face as a police officer
opened my door and assisted me out of
my rolling vehicle. I woke up in a bitter,
cold, dark jail cell. In this moment of
weakness, I felt as though my life was over
with no turning back. However, receiving
a DUI would soon become the blessing in
disguise that turned my life around forever
and challenged me to face my mistakes
and weaknesses by growing from them.
As I woke from my typically expected
drunken stupor, I was shocked to find
myself pressed against the corner of a
bacteria-infested, depressingly cold tenby-ten foot jail cell. Wearing nothing
but a short sparkly dress and a bright
orange wristband I had acquired the night
before that read my full name and the
letters DUI, I instantly jolted up to find
my worst nightmares to be undoubtedly
real and in my face. I asked a weeping
woman sitting next to me where exactly
we were. She replied, “Goleta County Jail.”
I could not believe the news I was
hearing. I had absolutely no memory of the
Finding the Light • Chelsea Wurlitzer
previous night’s activities as well as the time
and more than halfway to my pronounced
and day I was currently wasting away in.
death). Here I was, an eighteen year old with
Cold tears began to slide down my flushed
the drinking pattern of a lifelong alcoholic.
cheeks as I instantly felt raw, real emotion
She told me that I would be attending nine
for the consequences of my alcoholism. I
months of drug and alcohol counseling
had never been in trouble with the law in as well as AA meetings two times a week.
my life and was
Her words hit
me deeply. This
with a DUI. I was
was not the first
The overwhelming
time someone had
beyond belief, and
mentioned to me I
had no idea when safeness, and comfort
had a problem, but
or how I was getting that I had grown so fond
it was the first time I
out of this. Twelve
actually considered
of instantly took over
hours passed as I
what I was doing
sat there blankly my sanity and consumed
to myself and the
waiting until finally
people surrounding
shined the alcohol took control.
me. I was killing
through the dark
and leaving
I felt invincible, free, and myself
abyss of the cell and
my loved ones
the officer standing reckless.
devastated. When
behind the door
called my name.
I swear I felt God, for the first time in I hugged my parents with a firm grasp
years, reach his arms out to me and pull and told them how much I loved
me up and out of what the officers called
them, how sorry I was, and how badly
“the drunk tank.” I was free at last with
I wanted to change my life for good.
nothing but my dead cell phone and a ticket
Walking into a drug and alcohol
outlining the arrest process as well as my
rehabilitation center for the first time was
court date. I had no idea what was to come.
humiliating. I carried the “I don’t have a
A month later my court date arrived problem” mindset high and mighty as I
like a slap in the face. With my attorney, my
met doctors, lawyers, mothers, teachers,
sobbing mother, and my deeply disappointed
and individuals from all demographics. I
dad by my side, I faced what is now the
figured these people were much older than
most memorable day of my life. As my clan me and had been alcoholics all their lives,
sat through the various cases called, anxiety
which caused their DUIs. As the months
and fear consumed every inch of my body. flew by, I began to really enjoy the time
When my case was finally called, I stood up spent at Zona Seca Rehabilitation Center.
to face the judge. She began her delivery by
As the individuals attending made honest,
telling me that I had blown a .34 (almost
raw confessions of their own alcoholism
four times the legal limit for someone of age
and drug use, I began to accept my own
WALL 111
Finding the Light • Chelsea Wurlitzer
addictions and came to terms with the
fact that my life, up until my DUI, was a
ticking time bomb spiraling downward
straight towards death. On the last and
final day of my nine-month-long program,
the faces I had grown to enjoy seeing every
day passed around an opaque-colored gem
as they took turns standing up to speak
sweet words and encouragements about
my progress. This overwhelming feeling
of belongingness made me thankful to be
exactly where I was and, for the first time,
encouraged me to keep striving on this path.
As my one-year mark without drugs
and alcohol approached, I began to feel
like a human again. With the help of Zona
Seca and all the fabulous individuals I had
encountered along the way, I began to see
112 WALL
my life in a new light, a light filled with
purpose, direction, and conquest that I had
been missing out on all the years wasted with
drugs and alcohol. Getting a DUI brought
reality to the things I wanted to hide most
in life. It became the biggest blessing in my
eyes as I now see what could have happened.
I am so thankful to be where I am today
and continue to remind myself how this
event shaped my life. Without this event I
would have continued down a dark path
leading to permanent outcomes. Before this
incident I was numb to the world and now
I am here in the now, living every moment.
This mistake, which at the time felt like a
chain that would hold me down for the rest
of my life, is what I am most thankful for
today for setting me free of a wasted life.
Personal Narrative
The Gathering Place
• Elizabeth Ortiz
ometimes when I walk into a church, I pews at the familiar faces looking at me,
feel like I’m walking onto a nude beach.
I’m reminded that being part of a church
What I mean by this is the vulnerabilcomes with serving and getting involved, so
ity that comes with it. I find myself becomnot being there to help out with childcare
ing emotionally strained, as if I shouldn’t or handing out donuts once a month leaves
be there because someone might see me
me disconnected. It’s overwhelming to find
living carefree and up
a place to sit down
to no good. On a nude
among the long rows
beach, strange hairy
of seated people, and
men walk at a distance not exactly the center
the awkward stare of
up and down the shore
my fellow brethren
of everyone’s universe
-- at least this is what and that most people
increases the baromeI remember in my
ter of embarrassment.
one-time experience, revolve around their
All the wrong I chose
own planet.
an awkward moment.
to do rather than right
The Catholic guilt
the past month comes
blankets me like a
to the surface.
beach towel because I am being stared at by
For instance, I should have put that
these men, even though my clothes are on.
fifth glass of wine down before I fell asleep
I admit that I find myself craving a penalty
fireside in that fancy restaurant while enterbecause I dared to go there in the first place,
taining my husband’s boss’s wife last Friday.
not realizing that I might not find the beefAnd running out of dog food last night left
cake I was hoping for.
Cabo starving this morning. I kneel down
I question my existence as I walk
on the seat in front of me during a somber
into a church, glancing at the stained glass
worship song.
cross above the pulpit. As I look down the
“Hi, God. I need a moment with you.
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The Gathering Place • Elizabeth Ortiz
I’m feeling the shame: the shame of not
giving it my all, the shame of choosing to
be lazy, the shame of giving into wrong
rather than right. Can you forgive me? Oh,
Mighty One, the one I adore and the one I
bow down to. Just say the word and I shall
be healed.”
The awareness of my wrongdoing, which
has been hanging over me, suddenly stops
after the prayer. I start to see that I’m not
exactly the center of everyone’s universe and
that most people revolve around their own
planet. Like the men at the beach without
any clothes on: they don’t seem to be bothered one bit.
Besides, the guilt got me through the
114 WALL
door and it’s the conviction of my wrongdoing that keeps me in check. I recognize
my strengths and weaknesses by praying and
recognize my imperfect self, leaving me relying on something more powerful and less
dumbfounded than me.
Church is where I allow myself to let
go of those things I cannot change, and so
often I lose sight of this. When I walk into
a gathering place of worship, I gain respect
back for myself and for humanity by bringing my nakedness out into the open. There
is no need to hide out. It is a giant mirror
for me to see where I am at: pure exposure. I
adjust and go out facing the world again but
more loving, more patient, and more kind.
Back to the Beginning
• Miguel Botello
The sun rises and the sun sets,
Not knowing when it will be my last breath,
As I inhale the sea crisp air,
Remembering what could have been,
Reminiscing as chains of memories drift away,
Going back to the vast unknowing sea,
Where the sun drifts away,
Sipping this cup of brine turned into red wine,
Remembering it’s just another sea day,
Reminiscing as my smile fades away,
With the neon-colored sun,
Setting anyway.
WALL 115
WALL 2014 Staff
Sterling Arthur Leva
Sterling Arthur Leva is a writer, poet, artist, composer, and nightmarist.
He is currently finishing his first novel, Prank Calls From Outer Space,
as well as his first solo album, Picaro (under the name Sterling Wormwood). In addition to his creative endeavors, he enjoys collecting clown
items, fawning over his Cadillac DeVille, and tap dancing. His muse used
to be Dionysus, but now it’s Anastasia (although she prefers “girlfriend”).
You can view his work at www.letterstodionysus.com.
Graphic Designer / Layout Editor
Anibal Santos
Anibal Santos is a student illustrator and graphic designer. Anibal
has won several awards for news page layout and illustrations for
Lariat news articles. He also contributes his editorial cartoons to
USA TODAY College’s website. He finds inspiration from life
experience and the many people around him. You can view some
of his illustration work at anibal.santosart.com.
Fiction Editor
Ryan Vann
Ryan Vann is an incoming transfer student to UCI. His fiction has
been published previously in WALL and Mobius. He enjoys horror
movies, pinball machines, and complaining about James Patterson.
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WALL 2014 Staff
Fiction Editor
Sarah Anderson
Sarah Anderson is an aspiring artist, currently pursuing a degree in
creative writing. She resides in San Clemente, where her creativity
flourishes under the soft sun. Her poetry has been previously published in WALL. In her free time she enjoys alliteration, photography,
the ocean, and the titillating notion that the world is ending every
solitary second.
Personal Narrative Editor / Copy Editor
Kayla M. Perez
Kayla M. Perez is pursuing a degree in psychology in family and marital counseling, and currently works as a personal fitness trainer in San
Clemente. Kayla was born and raised in Northern California and moved
to Orange County in the fall of 2012 after marrying her Marine. Her
interest in writing led her to the staff of WALL Literary Journal as a
personal narrative editor. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending
time at the beach, fitness, and practicing wifehood. You can follow her
on Instagram, username kaymperez.
Art & Poetry Editor
Bridgette Castleman
Bridgette Castleman is an aspiring artist and writer. The close proximity to Disneyland that comes with being born and raised in Southern California has fueled
her passion for animation since early childhood. However, she considers herself a
“jack of all trades, master of none,” often dabbling in different kinds of traditional
and digital media. After getting her General Education requirements taken care
of at Saddleback, Bridgette plans to transfer to a four-year university to pursue
a degree in art.
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WALL 2014 Staff
Copy Editor / Fiction & Poetry Committees
Presley Gorr
Presley Gorr is a first-time poet but cultured yoga practitioner. This is her
first publication, but she has many half-finished stories. She hopes she finds
it in herself to complete them and grace the world with the “real-shit-worstcase-scenarios” she relives in that fertile imagination of hers.
Fiction & Poetry Committees
Chad Stephen Leslie
Chad Stephen Leslie is a short fiction and poetry writer and an occasional
picture-taker. He is working on a book of poetry, Squirrel’s Branch in a
Falling Tree. See his photographs and writings at
Personal Narrative & Art Committees
Miguel Botello
Miguel Botello is a shy guy who has been writing since childhood. Working on WALL really taught him how to connect with his inner writer, and
Professor Shaffer taught him how to focus on his writing more. In his free
time, he surfs and learns about Jesus. He’s just another man searching for
Personal Narrative & Publicity Committees
Laura Bouzari
Laura Bouzari focuses on scenes of realism in her writing, which often
depicts characteristics of both her native land of Saudi Arabia and her
current home in Aliso Viejo, CA. Swept up in the scenes before her, she
makes those sights visible on a typed page. “Vise” captures images of chaos
and havoc but also illustrates a single, minimal slither of light for humanity. She is a voracious reader and known bibliophile. She believes everyone
has a story and literature has a way of bringing that story out on thin black
and white pages. You can contact her at lmbouzari@yahoo.com.
118 WALL
WALL 2014 Staff
Poetry, Art & Publicity Committees
Dylan N. Stratton
Dylan N. Stratton is a professional cashier, fisherman, “Jumping
Jack,” and nuisance. He has no credentials to date, but Tom Thumb
was his great-grandfather and he’s working on it. He lives for education. Where the pen meets the paper, where events become history,
where men and children sing, where demigods rule the underground, and people change: he wants to live here. He does not have a
website at the moment, but you can look up his name or another.
Publicity Chair & Personal Narrative Committee
Elizabeth Ortiz
Elizabeth Ortiz works as a DJ and news reporter on FM 88.5 KSBR,
Saddleback College’s jazz radio station, and has written for the
Lariat, the campus newspaper, for the last two years. Her love of
journalism has landed her a spot on Channel 39 with feature community news segments that were written, produced, and filmed
independently. Awarded for her excellence in photojournalism,
Ortiz has been recognized by the South Orange County Community
College District Board of Trustees. Wall has given her a chance
to let her inner soul flourish as her desire to write continues. She
thanks Saddleback for hiring great teachers to guide her to deliver
news in all three mediums: print, radio, and film. You can contact
her at elizabethortiznews@gmail.com.
Faculty Advisor
Gina Victoria Shaffer
A professor of English at Saddleback College, Gina Victoria Shaffer
teaches composition and creative writing. She previously worked
as a newspaper reporter, theater critic, and magazine editor. Shaffer is also a playwright whose works have been performed on stages
throughout Southern California and off-Broadway. Her one-act play
“War Spelled Backwards” was published in The Literary Experience,
an anthology for college students. It is deeply rewarding for her to
work with such talented students to produce WALL.
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WALL 2014 Contributors
Mahnaz Alemtar, who has been studying
graphic design at Saddleback College, created the scratchboard illustration for the
short story “Cerveza” on page 89.
Fatemeh Ayoughi served as a volunteer
assisting the staff of her favorite literary journal, WALL. She is an Iranian novelist and
poet who survived a dreadful prison of the
Iranian regime and immigrated to the US in
2001. A well-known author in Iran, she has
published poems, short stories, and articles
there, and has continued to do the same in
the US. Her first short story in the US, “My
Attorney Smart Caterpillar,” was published
in the International Voice Journal in 2005.
Her article “Judge Sholomson and My Garbled English” appeared in the 2013 edition of
WALL. Her book The Silent Clamor is a collection of poems, short stories, a novel, and
a play, and was published in 2013. She is also
a songwriter for Hilltop Records, which will
soon release an album containing her songs.
Sheryl Aronson, who works as a marriage
family therapist, is a freelance writer, poet,
aspiring novelist, screenwriter, and playwright. She has had articles published on
jazz musicians Herbie Hancock and Maynard
Ferguson in the magazine Modern Recording
and on Terri-Lynne Carrington in Black Teen
Beat. She has also written psychology articles
on couples’ relationships and women’s selfesteem issues for local magazines in Orange
County: Orange County Metropolitan, Awareness Magazine, and Beach Cities/Valley Magazine. She is a contributing writer for MLM
Communications, Inc., an online publishing
company, and writes humorous commentar- After Dotti Barnes retired from working over
twenty years in the performing arts (most of
ies on writers writing about writing.
the time at the Los Angeles Music Center),
When she’s not writing, she’s dreaming she began concentrating on her interest in the
about being the first female baseball player. visual arts. First working in oils, she developed a severe allergic reaction to turpenAlthough she’s 60, this author can still slam
tine and switched to watercolor, a medium
the softball pretty well. In the meantime,
she absolutely loves. She has exhibited her
she’ll have to settle for writing a novel on the
work with great success at various locations
first female baseball player, called Striking in Southern California. When not dripping
Out. You can read some of Sheryl’s writing paint all over her studio carpet, she keeps
and writing experiences on her Facebook house for her two Norwich Terriers. She can
page, Sheryl Aronson.
be reached at deannbarnes@gmail.com.
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WALL 2014 Contributors
Bill Baum is a full-time student at Saddleback College majoring in human services.
He is a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and a former member of the
National Scholastic Surfing Association’s
National Team. When he’s not on campus,
he can usually be found surfing somewhere
in Newport Beach or enjoying his true passion: playing with dogs.
Photography has opened Susan Brown Matsumoto’s eyes to an amazing world of color,
design, and beauty. It is a journey of wonder and passion, one she hopes to continue
for many years to come. Susan’s most recent
competition ribbons were 1st Place at the
Orange County Fair Photography Exhibit
2013 and 1st Place, 2nd Place, and Public
Choice Awards in the April 2014 Spring Juried Show of the San Clemente Art Association.
Jimie S. Cespedes, aka Jimie Alton Hayes,
is a student at Saddleback majoring in English. She is one of the WALL staff alumni
from 2012’s award-winning issue. Formerly
published on Poetry.com, her poems are
often lyrics from her own music. She transcends time. Originally hailing from the
’80s San Francisco punk rock scene/era to
bravely confront new up-and-coming generations through avenues such as WALL, she
aspires to transfer to university and graduate school into an eventual career in teaching these future generations. Right now, her
website www.jimie.net will guide you to her
Facebook page, but soon it will refer you to
“Dog’s Best Friend,” which is her secondary
career of walking and sitting the dozens of
doggy clients she cares for in her area.
Her photographs have been published in
WALL every year since 2010. Her quote
would be … “Never stop learning. Never
stop dreaming. And never stop believing in
Andrew T. Chaffee Jr. is always on call for
work. The road is his master, and when the
road calls, he answers. He loves his pen
because he believes it is the medium between
his mind and his mouth, allowing the truth
to be converted into ink. He would love to
see a revolution happen in his lifetime -- a
revolution in which love wins.
Kyle Cabrera has a three-year-old daughter
whom he spends most of his time with. In
his free time he pretends to be a writer.
Ann Coffee is a Texan who met her first
love again after many decades, married,
and now lives in California’s scenic para-
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WALL 2014 Contributors
dise of Laguna Beach, CA. Most of her adult
life, she worked and drew breath from the
energy-driven world of high fashion as a
personal shopper and buyer for Dallas stores
such as Neiman Marcus, Stanley Korshak,
and Lilly Dodson. The art of writing is new
to her; she found this artistic adventure
though the Emeritus Institute at Saddleback.
Thanks to positive feedback from her classmates as well as her professor/mentor, Susan
Hecht, she now happily explores and documents her life in words. In addition to “Run
Like Hell,” “Keys to Freedom” has appeared
in WALL. You can contact her at anncoffee4@cox.net or find her on Facebook.
Rachel Dellefield will be transferring to
UCLA or Cal State Fullerton in Fall 2014
as an English major. She has completed the
Saddleback Honors Program and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. This is the first short
story she has ever completed and submitted,
although she enjoys writing songs. She hopes
to become a teacher and currently works at
Laser Quest, which she is sadly very, very
good at.
Bernard Echanow transitioned from directing landscape architectural design projects
to . . . artist in 2008. He has explored portraiture, plein air, open form, and still life
drawing and painting. In Saddleback College’s 2014 Annual Student Art Competition,
122 WALL
his charcoal drawing “The Invisible Chairman” won a second place award. Bernard
considers himself fortunate that every day he
sees beauty in nature, people, and the manmade, and is able to convey that beauty with
words, paint, pencils, and pixels. His artwork
is posted at http://dabblerteer.blogspot.com.
Paul “Jeep” Eddy is a graphic designer and
artist who would rather know a little about
a lot than a lot about a little. You can view
his work at Jeepeddyart.wordpress.com or
Shirley Eramo is a student at Saddleback
College studying acting, film, television,
photography, yoga, and writing. She has a
love of the sea, which is reflected in both her
writing and her photography.
Arriana Figueroa is an aspiring graphic
designer who recently graduated from San
Juan Hills High School in Spring 2013 and is
currently at Saddleback College, where she
is taking classes to further enhance her skills
in the design field. When she’s not trying to
communicate a message through an image,
she’s pampering her new pit-bull puppy and
hanging around in coffee shops with her besties. You can contact her at figueroaarriana@
Stevie Friend created the scratchboard
illustration for the short story “Fish Out of
Water” on page 102. Stevie’s acrylic/mixed
WALL 2014 Contributors
media painting “Cosmic Thoughts” was featured in the 2012 edition of WALL.
A lifelong learner, she enjoys taking classes
from local artists and at Saddleback College.
Adam Green has been programming commercial Internet applications for as many
years as there are sentences in this blurb. He
has had a passion for writing since a young
age and hopes to maybe one day get a degree
or something ... in something. It’s been said
that his mother loves him and he once won
seventh place for kicking a ball farther than
nine other people. Despite building applications that live on the Internet every day,
Adam does not have his own website, citing, “I’ll get to it eventually” as the primary
Mary-Rose T. Hoang is a professional student, an occasional writer, the yet-to-beaward-winning editor of Cameraderie (the
newsletter of the Camera Club of Laguna
Hills), and an avid amateur photographer.
“The Escape,” based on her father’s masterminded plan to escape Communist Vietnam, is part of an ongoing, muse-dependent,
multi-media project that tells the story of
her family spanning two continents and is
intended for her nieces and nephew. She has
combined her passion for photography and
world traveling with her husband Bao. You
can contact her at imrhoang@yahoo. com.
Corinne Gronnel is a freelance graphic
designer, wife, and mother. After earning
her BFA from California State University,
Long Beach, she enjoyed a career as an interior designer for ten years. She then decided
to stay home and raise a family, leaving the
workforce but never her desire to be creative.
For the past two years, she has been attending Saddleback College to sharpen her artistic skills and get her certificate in graphic
design. You can see samples of her work at
www.corinnegronnel.wordpress. com.
Natalie Hirt graduated from UC Riverside’s
MFA program in Fiction. She has short stories forthcoming in East Jasmine Review
and the anthology Orangelandia. She lives
in Orange County with her husband and
children, where she is working on a novel.
Megan Jacklin was born and raised in Reno,
Nevada, and moved to Orange County in
2003 to attend the University of California,
Irvine. She received her Bachelor of Science
in nursing in 2009, with a specialization in
perinatal nursing. She currently works as
a labor and delivery nurse at University of
California, Irvine Medical Center and as a
postpartum nurse at Saddleback Memorial
Medical Center. Her first child, Jacob, was
born on May 2, 2014. “The Crescent and
the Cross” is dedicated to his father, whose
own birth -- and the events surrounding it
-- inspired the story.
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WALL 2014 Contributors
MaryKay Keehn is a certified nurse midwife
with her Master of Science in nursing and a
California realtor. She developed “The Creature” in her initial photography course and
chose it as her first publication. She shares a
passion for photography with her daughter
and enjoys exploring her vision through different perspectives. Her images of artistic
and creative jewelry designs are featured on
Mi Young (Jaime) Kim graduated from UC
Berkeley in 2013 with a degree in film studies. Now she is pursuing a graphic design
degree at Saddleback College. She has done
internships at St. John Knits and Brower,
Miller & Cole as a graphic designer. She
loves mystery novels, taking pictures, and
traveling. Please visit jaime1118. wordpress.
com if you want to see more of her work.
Alexander Kusztyk is a musician and composer who writes short stories and dabbles in
the visual arts in his spare time. His compositions have made appearances in the Western Regional Honors Journal, Scribendi, and
have seen performance debuts in the United
States and Europe. Having recently completed his final semester at Saddleback College, Alexander is transferring to University
of California, Berkeley, where he will pursue
124 WALL
a degree in art history. You can visit him at
http:// alexanderkusztyk.blogspot.com.
Jim Langford is a full-time photographer
who enjoys the solitude of wide-open
spaces and has won numerous awards for
his landscape photography. Jim’s work has
been displayed in Popular Photography and
Digital Age, and it has been shown in Orange
County galleries. Jim is crazy about surfing, off-roading, and camping. Jim is a son,
father, husband, friend, and the proud owner
of a golden retriever named Angus. You can
see more of Jim’s work at www.flickr.com/
photos/andthekids/ and www.500px. com/
jimlangford. He’s also on LinkedIn.
Yoon Lee is a retired architect who is now
an artist. He likes to draw and paint with
different mediums.
Cassandra Michalak-Frey is the author of
the personal narrative “Passing Time.”
Iman Moujtahed, artistically known as
EvenDeathLies, has many varied interests
that have led her to many different fields. She
first and foremost, however, identifies herself
as an artist and a writer. She has been published in the 2011 edition of WALL with her
piece “Illusions of a Different World” and in
WALL 2014 Contributors
the 2013 edition with the cover image “Writings on The Wall.” She loves being outspoken
and unique via performing, public speaking, and standing out from the crowd by
taking action and initiative in things she’s
passionate about. You can find more of her
work throughout the web, including www.
EvenDeathLies.CarbonMade.com and www.
Dylan Noceda plans to transfer to a fouryear university to obtain a degree in English and eventually attend graduate school.
His poem in WALL is his first professionally
published work, though he does enjoy writing poems, prose, and songs for the private
enrichment of his own soul and the hearts
of his closest friends and family members.
Dylan’s best friend and protégé is his Labrador retriever, to whom he recites most of his
poetry every Tuesday night at 10:43 Pacific
Standard Time, usually in a spontaneously
encountered region of the vast Californian
wilderness. Unfortunately, Dylan has no
website domain to his name, but he would
gladly accept inquiries to his e-mail address:
Mirt Norgren is a freelance photographer
and graphic designer with a passion for
storytelling: sometimes her stories are told
with images; other times they are told with
words. Her goal is to connect the viewer or
the reader with at least one element that is
familiar to them. The vehicle for that expression is usually a camera, but she is not
opposed to the sketchbook or the page, as it’s
all about conveying a message, an opinion,
or an emotion. Mirt worked as the graphic
designer and layout editor for WALL 2013,
1st Place winner of the American Scholastic
Press Association’s national competition for
college literary magazines. Her logo work
was selected by Saddleback College for its
Annual Day of Respect and she placed in the
Saddleback Student Art Show for Photography in 2012. Mirt lives with her husband
and three dogs in Capistrano Beach. You can
visit her website at: www.mirt.co.
Paige Organ is a pre-medical biology major
with more experience in writing tedious
scientific papers than stories of any interest although both incorporate her signature
writing technique of slopping words on paper
and hoping for the best. Her aspiration is to
become a forensic pathologist, if only for the
punny title of “Dr. Organ, Medical Examiner.” When not agonizing over schoolwork,
Paige enjoys skiing, reading, being a sarcastic
and self-deprecating man-child, and getting
too emotionally invested in fictional works.
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WALL 2014 Contributors
Jayne Osborne-Dion is an award-winning
artist with a passion for charcoal and graphite. Also an accomplished muralist and set
designer/decorator, she was featured in
Orange Coast Magazine in December 2012.
She draws her inspirations through astroclairvoyance and dream interpretation. To
see more of her work, visit www.jaynedion.
Kyoung Park is an amateur photographer
who had group exhibitions in 2011 and
2013 in L.A. She gets very excited when she
gets things into a camera frame. She wants
to photograph things that are beyond what
human eyes can see; the camera is an energy
booster to her, a medicine to all her sicknesses, including headaches and stomach
aches. She goes hiking with her husband,
Simon, and when she gets tired he says, “I
should have gotten you your camera bag
on your back.” She is very happy when she
imagines herself being a professional photographer after ten years. It will be a long
but joyful journey.
James Phan is a photographer who has been
shooting for the past five years. His work
mainly consists of portraiture, fashion, lolita
fashion, and cosplay. His “Lavender Days”
photo featured here was a collaboration with
126 WALL
Cyril Lumboy of indie fashion label DollDelight. On off days (if there ever happens to
be one), he enjoys spending time with close
friends and discussing recent film releases.
A compilation of his recent works can be
found at https://www.facebook.com/James.
Solana Price is a theater major at Saddleback College. She is addicted to fiction
books, vegan food, and good conversation.
She is also terrible at writing about herself.
Jason Ra is a restaurant manager, a wedding
photographer, and a freelance minimalist
photographer. His work has been shown at
amateur galleries such as Noh Weekend and
After Dark, and he is currently working with
another gallery called Noah’s Arcade and
Noh York City, a collaboration with Yoma.
Many call him a hipster, but he denies being
judged as one. Follow him at www.jasongrowl.vsco.co and add him on www.instagram.com/jasongrowl.
Megan Reynolds is currently a full-time
student at Saddleback College majoring in
fine arts. Megan has stage-managed and
assistant stage-managed Saddleback’s productions of Legally Blond: The Musical and
Fiddler on the Roof respectively. She is also
WALL 2014 Contributors
actively involved in the astronomy club and
partakes in astrophotography.
Christopher Reza has worked as a photographer on the staff of the Lariat, the newspaper at Saddleback College. The photograph
featured in this year’s WALL was taken just
moments before he had to leave the quaint
seaside town in Italy depicted in the frame.
Lhoycel Marie Teope is a published photographer. Her work, which includes fashion,
music, and fine art, has appeared in various
online and print publications and will be featured in the upcoming issue of Local Wolves
Magazine. Besides photography, Lhoycel
Marie loves going to concerts with friends,
collecting vinyl records, and traveling to new
places. You can visit her work at www.lhoycelmariephotography. com.
Linda West is a certified hand physical therapist by profession and has been studying
art since attending Long Beach City College.
She is a native Southern Californian and
has documented her personal travels with
a particular interest in representing them
using watercolors. She has traveled with
the Otis School of Design of New York in
Africa, taken classes in botanical illustration
at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino,
and attended classes at Saddleback as well as
from various professional artists. She is an
award-winning poet and is currently writing
a book of poems entitled They Triumphed
over Demons and Other Survival Stories
based on her experiences with her patients
who have met evil and hardship, persevering and finding strength through them. She
can be contacted at lindawest1@gmail.com.
Chelsea Wurlitzer is currently a communications major. She is a creative free writer
with big hopes to write for Rolling Stone one
day. In her free time she enjoys all things
music, traveling, and living happily.
Francine Zorehkey, Ph.D., LMFT, is a
licensed marriage and family therapist with
a Ph.D. in psychology who, in 2009, finally
began pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming an artist. She absolutely fell in love with
creating art. Francine has since opened The
Co-Z Artist Studio in Lake Forest, not only
for her personal sense of expression but to
offer a place where artists can come together
to work, share, heal, learn, and experience
the world of art. With all that life has brought
her way, she feels a better sense of connection
to the universe whenever she puts brush to
canvas. For that, she is deeply grateful. Please
come visit her at www.cozyartiststudio.com.
WALL 127
Literary Journal
Volume XIV
L i ter ar y Jour na l
Mission Viejo, CA
Saddleback College
P o e t r y, F i c t i o n , P e r s o n a l N a r r a t i v e s , A r t , a n d P h o t o g r a p h y
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