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QUIET LIGHTNING IS

:
a literary nonprofit with a handful of ongoing projects,
including a monthly, submission-based reading series
featuring all forms of writing without introductions or
author banter—of which sparkle + blink is a verbatim
transcript. Since December 2009 we’ve presented 1,100
readings by 700 authors in 100 shows and 80 books,
selected by 50 people through a blind selection process
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info + updates + video of every reading
sparkle + blink 85
© 2017 Quiet Lightning

cover © Darlene Alvarez
darlenecalvarez.wordpress.com

“A Eulogy for Dr. Nostalgia” by Jason Ridler
first appeared in Diet Soap
“The Wind Blew In Laura” by Sarah Arantza Amador
originally appeared in Word Riot
“Teacher on the Road” by Tony Press first published in Spelk
“Siga Caminado” by Tony Press
first published in One Sentence Poems

book design by j. brandon loberg
set in Absara

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quietlightning.org
su bmit @ qui e tl i g h tn i n g . o r g
CONTENTS
curated by
Christine No + Abe Becker
featured artists
Darlene Alvarez | darlenecalvarez.wordpress.com

BARUCH PORRAS-HERNANDEZ Love in the Time of Piñatas 1
NATASHA DENNERSTEIN Acetate Love 7
SARAH ARANTZA AMADOR And the Wind Blew in Laura 9
CASSANDRA DALLETT The Biggest Third Grader 13
SAGE YOCKELSON Hymn for Trans Bodies in the
Wilderness of the Present Day 21
DANIELLE BERO Box 23
JENNIFER BARONE Applebum 25
JILL TYDOR sweet bay 27
CLAIRE CALDERÓN Inheritance 29
RISS ROSADO when you fully become
your mother 35
TOMAS MONIZ young men holding babies 37
JASON RIDLER A Eulogy for Dr. Nostalgia 45
WILLIAM TAYLOR JR. A proclamation of sorts 49
VANESSA MARIE WILKINSON
Split Dialect 51
Frequencies of
the Fork-Tongued 53
TONY PRESS El Nogalito 57
Teacher on the road 58
Siga Caminando 60
BRENNAN DEFRISCO From Here 61
NATASHA DENNERSTEIN Coyo-tl 63
ARI MOSKOWITZ A Guide to Avoiding
the Present Moment 65
HEATHER BOURBEAU Sonata for Syria III... 69
NATASHA DENNERSTEIN Post Industrial Idyllic 71
ELIZEYA QUATE The Very Remote Employee 73
JOSIAH ALDERETE El Dia sin Immigrantes 79
G IS SPONSOR
ET LIGHTNIN ED B
QU I Y
QUIET LIGHTNING
A 501(c)3, the primary objective and purpose of Quiet
Lightning is to foster a community based on literary
expression and to provide an arena for said expression. QL
produces a monthly, submission-based reading series on
the first Monday of every month, of which these books
(sparkle + blink) are verbatim transcripts.

Formed as a nonprofit in July 2011, the QL board is currently:

Evan Karp executive director
Chris Cole managing director
Josey Rose Duncan public relations
Lisa Church outreach
Meghan Thornton treasurer
Kelsey Schimmelman secretary
Laura Cerón Melo art director
Christine No production

If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in
helping—on any level—please send us a line:

e v an @ qui et light nin g . o rg
- SET 1 -
BB BBBBBBBBBB
B BB BB
BB
BB L O V E IN T H E TI M E B
B
OF PIÑATAS
The white piñatas were always shining glittery all of them
with some silver here or there never got beat always on
display
always like disco balls turning up in the air show room
models
and I was always
the biggest puta piñata in the room
lime greens concha pinks
-a terrible combination- one of the white piñatas would say
from
above,
-FUCK YOU BITCH! – I would say -fuck you! I was made with
love! watch it, white piñata, watch it- I would say- these
points are sharp as fuck-
-yeah don’t fuck with her!- the Dora Piñata would say she
got my back she an explorer an shit she is how we got the
fuck out of there and shit the Selena piñata came too and so
did Diego
and so did Speedy Gonzales and that old Chilindrina piñata
and el Chavo too no one was gonna fuck with us we ran from
the car accessories cleaning supplies and piñata store where
we were at, thought we were goners, but we were free
fuck we even brought the white piñatas too

1
cause we ain’t cruel freedom is for everybody
but the streets are fucked and people love to fucking kill us
but then but then thank god this fat chubby Mexicano
gayhomosexual found us and gracias church of the holy fuck
this gay chubby Mexican doesn’t hurt his piñatas!

He lets em live forever

his house a piñata sanctuary! his house a piñata paradise!
we up in his living room! we up in his bedroom! the kitchen!
the closets! the halls! we all over the damn place and we been
having fun too! I’ve been a damn slut and it’s been heaven!
been making out with a Batman Piñata for three days rubbing
up against the Hulk Piñata, sticking my peaks into the rainbow
unicorn in the corner
we sweet as fuck
we full of candy funny

Some human girl came in the other day said -hey aren’t you
supposed to beat these things? Aren’t you supposed to rip
them apart and eat their candy?-
the fat chubby Mexican kicked her out his house good!
I like him
but I’m nervous
I’m still the fattest piñata in the room still take up so much
space not shaped like one of these cool cartoon
motherfuckers even that light weight portable round carbon
with the blues and silvers looks better than me the chubby
Mexican hugs us, tells us we’re safe but I can tell he’s sad
sees his friends move away sees people getting shot and
killed on the news

2
uck not even humans in this world are safe

Piñata Dora wakes me up in the night says we need to leave
-but here we’re safe!- I tell her
she says -we got a mission lets go! we’re taking everyone!-

we leave the chubby Mexican a gift each
a gansito
a bubulubu a duvalin
mango paleta covered in chile
gomitas
chocolate pelota filled with rompope
something nice to remember us by

we hit the road the mermaid piñata on the car piñata’s
back Spiderman Piñata and Wolverine Piñata and
Power Ranger Piñata walking next to Belle, and Elsa,
Chilindrina,
with El Chapulin at the head next to Dora and Diego
Batman holds on to one of my bright pink spikes
he says -you’re so big and gorgeous and beautiful-
and I say -I know! kiss me some more!-
we carry scissors and knives and screwdrivers
Dora leads us to a store full of Donald Trump piñatas
Dora turns to us and says time to kill these mother fuckers and
send a message.
-No! they may be Donald Trump piñatas
but they still piñatas we do not fuck
with our kind no! I won’t do it!- I say
-We gotta do it!- Dora says, look
In the ancient times when we were just brown heavy clay

Ba ru ch P orras- He rnande z 3
they decorated us with feathers ribbons of actual gold
shattered us on the steps of Huitzilopochtli temples
to symbolize a warrior’s sacrifice
these Trump Piñatas …
it’s time
for sacrifice-
-NOOOO- I screamed
-Hey, hey you-said one of the Trump Piñatas
through the glass window
-Hey you’re a whore, you’re ugly, and you’re fat. Sad!-
I turned to Dora -Ok do it but I won’t take part-
I grabbed Batman Piñata split
walked into the night, heard the sounds of my piñata comrades
destroying and killing the Trump piñatas. I turned for one last
look to see they were burning the store to the ground.
we hurried to leave the Mission knowing there was people
ready to break us beat us to a pulp but no one batted an eye
no one gave a shit. it started to rain our paper got wet mushy
our insides began to melt ran into an alley, we fell on the
ground ready to fucking leave it all when a light appears
I look up and there before us are
500 glowing hummingbirds in the shape
of a gigantic being it’s giant green glowing hands
reaching out to us made
of cosmic little fucking speedy flapping beautiful as fuck
birds I feel less like melting and more like glowing

glowing

so much
it was like singing like

4
I was made of voices
and Batman too looked as surprised and shocked as
I was, but then we were in the black sky and then
we were in space so many stars my soul
became a thousand fucking stars and I finally

finally shined brighter than all the white

piñatas but I was still pink as fuck still green but

so shiny so shiny I twirled like fucking crazy

like the fucking biggest fucking disco ball

in the mother fucking world!

Ba ru ch P orras- He rnande z 5
NNNNNNN
N NNNN NN
N NN NN
ACETATE LOVE

for Amanda Lepore

O, my synthetic Madonna, with your nylon
heart, acrylic liver and polyester face: let me
worship you with my plastic love. Let me

place you on a lucite pedestal,
shower you with transparent adoration
with all my rayon, leisurewear soul. Let me

drape you in diaphanous, flammable
lingerie of gossamer, neon pink
and spandex your buttocks with grace.

O, my silicone angel, how your Kevlar body
is your sequined canvas, how you embody the will
to change; to re-create; to define our

Selves, how you are Doctor Frankenstein
and monster, both. Watch as the villagers come
to burn crosses before your astroturf door.

7
SS SSSSSSSSS
SS SS
S S
SS S
AND THE WIND
BLE W IN LAUR A

The wind blew hard on Thanksgiving, as was usual in
Coldwater Canyon. The remains of my fragmented
family gathered in my great uncle Jose’s home. Folding
tables were lined up like dominos, stretching from the
dining to the living room. We filled our plates and
took our seats, each generation clustered around a
matri-or-patriarch.

Uncle Jose was staring out the window, glaring at the
dead magnolia leaves in the pool when Aunt Betty
touched his arm. He turned to her, “I hate those god-
damned leaves, maybe we should just pull the tree out.”

Great aunt Migdalia cut in from across the table, “Ay
mijo, you’re too old to be cutting down trees. And did
I tell you that I took too many pills again?” She shook
her head and her eyes rolled from one side to the other,
“I keep reading the stickers wrong.”

Through the hissing of the windblown trees came a
faraway clacking sound, closer and closer up uncle
Jose’s driveway, and straight up the path to his front
door. Clack clackity clack clack, whatever it was

9
didn’t stop to knock and just walked right in. Clack
clackity clack clack, around the corner she came—my
grandmother Laura in an old dress and gray leather
heels, her bones banging together like a wooden wind
chime.

“¡Pero cómo!” my grandfather yelled with stuffing
spitting out of his mouth, “Laura!”

She flapped her wrist in greeting, smiling and blinking
as she looked around the table, and kept clacking
by, moving and bouncing like a badly manipulated
marionette.

“Who is that woman?” my cousin-in-law asked.
Migdalia leaned in and said, “That’s Laura, Arturo’s
first wife. You don’t remember her? She only died six
years ago,” she trailed, “coño, what’s she doing here?”

Clack clack, Laura came back into the eating area with
a piece of toast in her hand. Migdalia tried to start
up some idle gossiping, but Laura gave no response
other than chewing, mouth open, her St. Jude pendant
bouncing on ribs. Migdalia peered at her suspiciously,
“She looks like Laura, but she sure doesn’t gossip like
Laura.”

Uncle Jose turned to my grandfather and asked him
if Laura was buried with her dentures. “Hell if I
remember,” Arturo replied, “but she sure don’t have
them now.”

10
Dinner ended soon after.

Everyone left; Laura sat and chewed, toothless.

“She can’t stay here, you have to take her with you,”
Jose said to Arturo.

“I’m not taking her anywhere. She’s dead to me in more
than one way!” he said as he ran out the door. Jose
cursed him from the stairs.

Betty walked to where Laura was sitting and patted
her hand. “Laura, Laura. Don’t you have to get going?”
Laura looked up and winked at Betty, then reached
over and tickled her stomach. Her rings swung loose
on her bony little fingers, and when she pulled them
away from Betty she lost a couple that went rolling
off onto the carpeting. Jose retrieved them one after
the other, hitting his bald head on the underside of the
dining room table as he struggled to get up from his
hands and knees.

Up off the floor, Jose stood staring at Laura from across
the table. She was unmoving, her eyes lifeless and cold.
Jose started to slip her rings into his pant pocket, but
stopped himself. He unfolded a napkin and fidgeted
with it, eventually folding the rings into it, knotting
it, creating a keepsake pouch of sorts. Betty repeatedly
smoothed over the fabric of her dress that covered her
stomach. They blanched at the realization that Laura
might not leave, tonight or ever. And if she would not

Sa ra h Arant za Ama dor 11
leave of her own accord, how could they force her out?
Or, even, where could they take her?

Betty and Jose did the sensible thing: they retreated
and barricaded themselves in the master bedroom
suite. After a couple of hours, they slowly opened the
door and crept across the shag carpeting towards the
sound of the television playing in the den. And there
they found Laura, sitting on the couch, munching on
Lady Finger cookies and watching The Lucille Ball
Comedy Hour.

12
CC CCCCCCCCCC
C CC CC
THE BIGGEST
T H IR D G R A D E R

It was the year my thighs bloomed. I learned I was
other. I learned that I was lacking the ingredients of
normal. I was new to third grade had been going to an
alternative school the kind of new age hippie experi-
ment the 70s were full of. No one really knew if this
approach worked and I guess that like public school it
worked for certain kids but I’m not one of those kids.
I was not hungry to learn. I was hungry but it was for
some other thing. I was not motivated to read, or do
math.

I spent years going to that school and what I remember
was being read to by a slew of longhaired-rosy cheeked
teachers, jumping off the roof of Glory Glory the tiny
clubhouse in the back yard, sitting Indian style in a
circle, whispering messages till they were unrecogniz-
able at the end of the curve, the smell of cigar from
the mailman sorting letters into cubbies in the next
room, playing dog on all fours around the yard until
the whole school was on hands and knees barking,
crawling, and raising legs to pee.

I think there were classes. But if there were pages of

13
letters or numbers for me to decipher I didn’t partici-
pate. I remember only once being put on the spot. The
teacher was Kathy a blunt bob and small eyeglasses she
sat next to me on the steps and asked me to do math
problems. I couldn’t or wouldn’t and that was that. My
parents finally pulled me shortly before I turned eight.

I moved across the green idyllic New England town
square, down the road to a modern building of brick,
the public school. Thetford Elementary, I would be in
Third grade. I was like a feral child not used to these
rooms and carpeted hallways, these kids dressed and
combed properly. I was covered in the scabs of bee
stings and could not write my own name. It became
obvious fast that I hated the textbooks threw them on
the floor because I couldn’t understand and I didn’t
want to.

My parents had read to me nightly. I had a library of
children’s books sent from my rich grandmother. But
if someone wasn’t reading them to me the words were
just an intimidating blur.

The nice but frustrated teacher with the Dorothy
Hamill haircut sent me to special education, a small
room down the hall where teachers made me sit still
or tried to, made me read letters slowly clumping them
together first one, then two, then three, like that.

In class I was caught copying off the other kids. I
was sent to the principal’s office again and again. Mr.

14
Johnson wore a suit and a crew cut a real severe flat
top like they did in the 60s. He may have been the first
suit I ever interacted with. I spent a lot of days in his
office, remember what the windows looked like, the
robins in the grass outside. I had a chair next to the
receptionist’s desk, behind it a brown room for the
nurse. I went there too, when my head hurt.

Most of the time I just wanted out. I wanted to fight
the other kids. I was like a puppy needing to hurl my
body into the others but they cried and tattled. The
only recess game I liked was chicken; being bigger than
all of them I could hoist up a smaller kid and rush into
the others laying them out like bowling pins. Nothing
was more satisfying to me than bashing them. The
game was against the rules. The teachers shut it down
and I lost the one thing where being big and reckless
counted for something. Sometimes during recess I hid
in the brush and bushes on the side of the field. It was
tangled and half dead. I liked it there.

In the beginning I tried to learn the games in gym class,
when to kick or swing, that I wasn’t supposed to run
from the ball but towards it. This never stuck and the
ball always found me clumsy and red faced. The ball
always hit me in the head. I was never picked for teams
and hated to go up to bat. I stood at the back of the line
letting everyone cut in front of me. The teacher got
tired of encouraging me and gave up, disgusted that
with my height I couldn’t even dribble a basketball.
I hadn’t grown up around sports had never seen them

C assandra D a lle t t 15
played and the whole thing seemed like a waste of time.

I did like gymnastics, had a book about Nadia Comaneci,
longed to launch myself through the air they way she
did, spin my body tight around the parallel bars but
the most I could muster was a back bend from the
floor up (cheating) and an unsteady walk across the
balance beam. It was the only performance I ever did
in any school.

It was the year Star Wars came out I carried the
paperback to school with Close Encounters Of The Third
Kind my other favorite but I couldn’t read a word of
either.

My hippie-kid friends and I spent our parent’s parties
playing Star Wars reenacting the monster bar and the
garbage room on the Death Star threatening to crush
us. Our light sabers like all of our toys were imaginary
and perfect. We played “Yellow Submarine” as a
soundtrack.

Car Wash played on the radio but I had only ever seen
one car wash in my life in West Lebanon. The strips
of strange cloth hung down and swallowed the cars.
It was creepy and fascinating. It was near the A&W
where you could still get a root beer float and hot dog
brought on a tray to your window. I loved that place,
sitting in a cluttered back seat with my parents up
front.

16
In school the straight kids told on me for cursing and
bringing a Penthouse magazine to school. I wanted to
form a gang, call myself Rhonda. I wanted teenage
boys to look at my fat thighs. I wanted to ride in fast
cars with them passing joints, a beer between my
legs. I loved going to the Café 25 hanging out while
the grown ups danced and drank, me and Sweet Pea
leaning into the bar to order virgin tequila sunrises,
lingering by the room where the older guys draped
pool sticks and sometimes let us take a shot.

When I was younger I got scared when my father drove
fast and swung the car in wild doughnuts through the
parking lot to make the local kids cheer. It felt too
dangerous and out of control but I was starting to
crave that, wonder who would kiss me when the clock
struck twelve.

The kids in school told on me for stealing pot and
porn. I wanted to hit them, push them down with the
one hundred pound weight of me. I wanted them to
know I was cooler in my torn Levis, worn Converse,
plaid flannel shirt, and ponytail, that grown men
had compared me to Bridget Bardot and I had seen
her picture in Life magazine. They were soft in their
polyester pants, televisions, and birthday parties where
only kids came; parents dropping them off with gifts
to play in finished basements. Birthdays at my house
meant presents too, piles of them and cake mom made
from scratch, live bands playing and grown ups drunk,
dancing, fucking, and bullshitting into the night.

C assandra D a lle t t 17
I liked my parties better.

In Special Ed they did succeed in teaching me to read. I
passed into fourth grade, learned to live in The Chroni-
cles of Narnia, The Lord Of The Rings. I couldn’t get the
math though, it sent me into a panic and I fought and
raged against it.

Grease came out. I worshipped the movie and
soundtrack. I carried the whole double album with me
to school everyday, set it up on my desk. Grease told
me what I wanted to hear, that the bad girl wins out
in the end.

I was marked as gifted and talented for a sketch I did
of my sneaker. All that meant was that sometimes me
and a pale blonde boy from Wyoming were sent to an
empty classroom to sketch random objects placed on
a desk.

In fourth grade I convinced my parents to take me to
the Village store on the way to school to buy big bags
of Doritos. Snack time I would dump the whole orange
pile on my desk. It was the one time the kids liked me
and I was generous with my chips. I ate like a wolf,
so excited my parents had bought something so artifi-
cial and delicious. I loved school lunch it was the first
time I had eaten canned vegetables or Sheppard’s Pie.
The differentness of this processed food fascinated me
and I took food off the other kid’s trays. This made me
chubbier but I didn’t care. I never could get enough of

18
stuffing the soft canned green beans into my mouth,
feeling the vegetable dissolve to nothing. I grew up
with fresh vegetables from my mother’s garden. I was
finding out about the foods in other houses the fluff
on bunny bread and the desserts. Even when it didn’t
taste that good I felt insatiable. Full was never enough.
I longed to shove more into some empty part of myself
by the fist full.

C assandra D a lle t t 19
SSSSSSS
SSSS
SS S
HYMN THE
W I L D F O R T R A NS B O D I E S I N D AY
ERNESS OF THE PRESENT

after “Service” by Ada Limón and for Nico

I’ve never been to Albuquerque, not
even close, but there’s something there
about dogs and if she can be
dogs or horses or horses
with the hearts of dogs or
vice-versa, then I, too, can be wild,
can allow myself this, can call myself Bitch
on my own terms, maybe misconstrued it
as butch once or twice earlier
in my life; well, nobody’s perfect, no
body’s really as I’d like it to be, except
theirs, and when we hold hands I forget
what a body looks like: we could be a horse
or a dog or a horse with the heart of a dog
or vice-versa and nothing matters except
the beating of blood in our fingertips, like so many
hooves, thrumming against the dirt.

21
DDDDDDDDDD
DDD

BOX

a second glance on the ID And I repeat this
see the f where the
m should be she every Saturday put on my
hands it back boy walk fruit flavor my sweet
to me, talk and hold firm in size small
for that one with the laugh
staring at the boobs never the giggle the soft the hard
plumped I jello.
under my v-neck
we all have balls of some kind And remold for the weekday
even the boy behind me with
long a little boy tugs and asks are you
hair and a soft jaw. a boy or a girl?
I respond with yes.
He catches my throw and he scratches
I exhale and clench
Excuse me sir jaw tight
they say wear clothes tighter
a little too often let my hair down
I search the front of my pants the next day because
for a sprouting dick that’s the kind of
but the surface sinks inward girl I am.
even though watered everyday
because that’s the kind
of guy I am

23
JJJJJJJJJJJ
JJJ J

APPLEBUM

my eyes
unable to see it
only feel it
I forget it but
I know it exists
when someone makes
mention in passing
I’ve had a Bonita Applebum
for decades
long before Q-Tip
sang the lyrics
you gotta put me on
I can’t help it
I’m wearing it
‘round the block
can’t hide these
juicy peaches
in orbit ‘round eyes
need a mirror
hurts my neck to turn
does this dress look good
these pants I never wear
they squeeze
too tightly there

25
he likes when I rub it
in passing
against his pelvis
making sweet things rise
Bonita, Bonita, Bonita
has inspired cat calls
on East Village street corners
from men of all ages
all colors
making me blush
eyes roll
girl, what chu got back there
I don’t know, I can’t see it
but it must be something
special

26
JJJJJJJJJJ

SWEET BAY

She pinned her hopes on the large magnolia tree in
the backyard. At first it was all just a metaphor.

But, pretty soon she found herself lost in the
rhythm of it. A cup of coffee in hand, a few thoughts
scrawled on slips of paper that she kept by the phone.

One night of undisturbed sleep, she wrote on a Tuesday.

That he will look at me with some kind of intention, she
wrote on Saturday, before pinching the little pin
between two fingers and sticking it first through
the crisp, white sheet, and then into the pithy flesh
of the tree. She could smell the faint sweetness of
its blossoms and felt a little twinge of regret, before
jabbing the next note into its trunk.

By Friday the following week, the tree had grown a
paper beard that fell just below its canopy of waxy
green leaves with their tan underbellies.

When I have a daughter, she will know me as I am, she
wrote before fastening it to the nape of the tree’s
neck. And she stopped for a moment to wonder

27
if the growing sagacity of the tree made her look
foolish by comparison.

On Monday it began to rain. And she watched from
the kitchen as the pieces of paper turned translucent
and puckered. She watched as the ink from so many
hopeful mornings bled down the thick of the tree
until nothing remained but a pulpy clot at its roots.

When the rain subsided, she waded through the yard,
letting the mud ooze between her toes before picking
up the bits of mangled paper. She carried the soggy
mess into her kitchen and spread them out on a sheet
pan in the oven, where under a gentle heat they dried
anew.

And when they were warm and stiff and flecked with
ink and bits of wood, she poured a cup of coffee and
wrote.

28
CCCCCCC
CCCC CC
CC
INHERITANCE

This is all the great-granddaughter recalls of her
first visit to Chile: the white-capped Andes from
the window seat, sweet manjar clinging to the
gutter between back molar and cheek, and the green
malachite stone necklace that made her eyes give off a
dragon heat. She traced the stone with her thumb all
through dinner, then fell asleep on an armchair while
the grown-ups drank wine, her white stockinged legs
folded to one side and bangs hanging like a windless
flag over her slow-breathing face. Tata sat on the
chair’s edge, patting her bisnieta’s sleeping head with
a warm palm and watching. She hummed something
under her breath, unbuckled the little white shoes, let
them fall to the floor.

No, the great-granddaughter is told later. Tata was
not on that trip. Tata stayed behind. She watched the
house. She brought the mail in.

You must be mistaken, they said, you are misremem-
bering her. You are inventing her.

*

29
What if I were to tell you that Tata soaped each toe
because of an old Aymara superstition? One of the
few remaining traces of her Indio blood. That, and the
way she felt when certain sea winds blew through her
town: calm as a slow cool drink.

Or I could tell you that as a Staten Island exiliada, she
savored the jingle of the corner store door on 6th st.
It gave her such a gentle twinge of nostalgia that she
sometimes visited just to hear it, pretending to scan
the glossy pages of a Vanidades she already had at home.

Or that she made her bed immaculately every morning
without fail. Always scanning for the threat of sloppy
edges.

Or that sometimes, just between us, when she was
applying lipstick for church or a family party, she
had to fight a strange urge to paint a thick, satisfying
streak across her face.

If I were to tell you these things, you’d start to form
the image of a woman in your mind. A woman with
hip flesh and her own scent. A woman not trapped
pacing the narrow hall of memory, but moving, tra-
versing space deliberately in her size 6 sneakers.

Just don’t unzip her jacket. I’ve filled her with the
Costco birdseed Abuelo used to leave out for the
squirrels. Through the window by the kitchen table,
steam rising from our overcooked alcachofas, we

30
watched them craning their necks to shake the grain
into their open mouths.

Just don’t try to meet her gaze. The eyes are marbles
I stole in Buenos Aires. It was third grade and I had
an unconscious habit of pocketing nice things during
playdates with rich kids. Look, if you aim a desk lamp
on them, like this, they flicker just enough to suggest
she’s thinking something over.

Just don’t ask her too many questions. She’ll answer
you with: I don’t know. Or worse, just silence. Trust
me, it will make you crazy. You can exhaust yourself
shouting, but she’ll remain soldier still. You’ll start to
think she is just a hallucination. You will decide you’re
better off letting go of this half formed creature. You’ll
be nearly settled in this decision when one night, you
wake up sweating. And she is talking to you.

*

Tata sometimes had flashes of wild thought. They tore
through her mind without warning, swooping in on
wide dark wings, toppling neat file stacks with long
talons.

At work, it happened more and more frequently.
Whenever she’d pick her boss’s tin of shoe polish off
the shelf to dust underneath it, she’d be gripped by
the fantasy of dunking and sliding wet-black fingers
across the white plaster wall. The urge seized her so

C la i re Ca lde rón 31
strongly, she forced herself to say her own name, like
an exhale, aloud in the empty room:

“Isabel.”

The tin back on the shelf, she’d take a bathroom break,
heave open the window, sit on the toilet and breathe
between her legs.

These were the moments when, if she wasn’t careful
to clear her mental room, re-stack the files, she’d feel it
again: at first just the prickle of the carefully groomed
mustache on her neck. Then his sour pisco breath.
Then, other images would surface. A flap of tomato
skin on the kitchen tile; the thing her eyes found the
first time it happened.

*

What happened to Tata when she was a teenager,
happened more than once. I don’t need proof, I know
it. He took an interest in her. She lived in his house,
dusted his military service medals, cleaned the stains
on the sheets he shared with his wife.

How many times? It doesn’t matter. The mind stops
counting. The body detaches from its owner, becomes
a container. It receives and stores pain. It keeps
breathing and shitting.

It happened more than once. In almost all the rooms.

32
It went on for years.

I know because I have also lived outside my body. I
have placed it as far away as my reach would allow,
let it dangle from the edge of me like a loose thread, a
static hair from a sweater.

I know because my timeline is busted. It’s a Chutes
and Ladders board, a series of slides that spit me back
out where I started. Recollections with mismatched
faces, scenes set in the wrong landscapes. Missing
pieces without explanation. Holes.

*

The great-granddaughter grinds her teeth in her sleep.
Something is pinning her down. Something with
wrists the color of undercooked chicken. She wakes
up to the slam of a car door with her pulse in her
throat, with her chest slick with sweat.

On the toilet, she chases breath, pats her neck with
sink water, stares at a strand of her lover’s hair on the
floor, pictures morning. Something wide-winged is
clouding her thoughts. Making them static. She curls
her toes, keeps her eyes fixed on the hair until they
sting and weigh down with water.

Finally, she changes into a fresh shirt. She climbs into
bed and tries to paint the insides of her eyelids black.

C la i re Ca lde rón 33
*

This isn’t what you might call a true story. True is a
stiff thing, it doesn’t bend well when you blow on it.

But what if I were to show you the cupboard where
I keep all the pieces? Go ahead, root around in there.
I should warn you, aside from a handful of dates
hammered into the wall, most are just corked bottles
of slight breezes and side-eye glances. There are some
nearly inaudible head voices saying: don’t forget this
feeling. There are some photographs, but Tata’s eyes
are closed or her expression is blurry or she is never
younger than 36.

If you were to go through these things, you’d forgive
me, wouldn’t you? For misremembering her? For
inventing her? For making her my own?

34
RRRRRRR
RRRR

WH LY
BECOMEEN Y O U F U LOTHER
YOUR M

when those panties are drying on the shower curtain rod
when your shared anxiety triggers are insomnia and low
blood sugar
when the same bones ache in the same place
and the heart does not grow fonder
when you know her birthday is in 8 days and it’s the first
one without her mother
who she became
who you’ll become
when she starts keeping secrets from you
the way you did with her
but these are not secret boyfriends or worse girlfriend
or stealing condoms from her bedside table
these are bad knee bad hip bad eyes need shots need
surgery
and you understand what it feels like
to have your flesh and blood lie to you

35
TTTTTTTT
TTT
YOUN :
G MEN HOLDING BABIES
O N MAC
H IS M O & M O V I E S

i have never seen either of my fathers cry. i feel bereft.
fantasize about the sounds they might make. voices
stuck in throats. voices i recall occasionally laughing.
mostly lecturing or yelling. coupled w/ that look
father can give child.

<>

just like that look ponyboy gives johnny in the final
scene of the outsiders. & the sadness. & the colors gold
& green. & fucking robert frost poems. but yet despite
death they refuse to really cry together.

><

there were no books in my house. besides the yellow
pages & unbalanced check books. i didn’t read a poem
until college. instead of reading together in our home
we created family w/ baseballs or footballs (never
soccer balls) thrown hard & fast. you a fucking chicken
if you missed or moved or flinched. this might be
metaphor for how we loved each other: hard & fast.
flinch & get hurt.

37
<>

one august evening i received a call from my tia. your
papa she said. he’s dying. i gazed out the window
of my berkeley home. evening setting & filling my
second story room w/ a fiery orange. how to let go
of something i never held. my biological father dying
in his new mexico adobe home. my other dad who
adopted & raised me silent & distant as always in
hawaii.

><

death in the movies i loved was always dramatic & tragic
& with purpose: johnny saving kids from a burning
building. & scarface holding his little friend (no one
calls it a cock but everyone knows it’s a cock). flinch &
get hurt. & dough boy in boyz n the hood accepting his
fate. like gangsta. like real man. i remember that fact
more than tre, the main character, leaving for college.
what does this say about what i found meaning in?

<>

driving me to the airport my partner gave me advice.
when you see your father. forget talking. just touch him.
just leave all your shit behind & put your hands on him.
i watched him sleep & slip in & out of consciousness.
my hand on his forearm or shoulder or chest the whole
night. i refused to cry. perhaps out of spite. even after
my biological father died.

38
><

there’s a poem recited at the end of the movie smoke
signals. another story of father & son & distance
& silence thrown hard & fast between miles &
generations. the poem’s refrain: how do we forgive our
fathers? & if we forgive them. what’s left?

<>

memory: the tv stays on channel two all night my dad
stated like decree. like warning. he later demanded me
& my two brothers get into pjs & get in car. he revealed
nothing. we bitched & complained. i pouted & picked
on my brothers. taking out my anger. flinch & get
hurt. he angrily told me to stop as he pulled up to the
drive-in showing the empire strikes back. we squealed
in delight. we bounded on him like monkeys in our
pleasure. this was how we knew he loved us. trickery &
deception. why was it hard for him to show emotion?
does this explain my behavior? who’s responsible?
darth vader died protecting child he never claimed.
son never desired what father had to offer. this is
tragic irony. what can break this tradition? this violent
history of subterfuge? of silence? of smothering &
threatening love? perhaps some questions are never
meant to be answered.

><

the best chicano movie of the 90s blood in blood out

Tomas M oni z 39
spoke to all the contradictions i embraced in myself.
i imagined myself each of the three young men. my
good boy self who followed the rules and listened to
everything my fathers told me. do as they say not as
they do. & then my desperate arty self witnessing life
so fucking beautiful if i could only capture the way my
dad stood in his garage sipping coffee after he made us
breakfast in a poem i knew he would never read. & the
militant nationalistic punch whiny white boys smack
in the face self. for three hours these characters rage
against each other. hard & fast. but in the movie’s final
scene in the la river they put their anger aside. forgive
each other. men forgiving is a beautiful thing. they cry
if only for a split second. they even cry. there is a lesson
in this. something to learn.

<>

as a 21 yr old father i watched movies rocking my
sleeping baby boy in my arms in the single bedroom
apt. shared w/ his mother. those trapped & self-
contained days of parenting i slipped vhs after vhs
into video player to escape. i romanticized the lives so
many young men in movies: the anger, the fragility, the
pain. as i write this i discover that i can not recall ever
a movie that celebrated young men holding babies.

><

more than two decades after those babyholding years
i wrote this poem for a friend turning fifty but now

40
see it’s for all the men surviving. looking forward &
reaching back. it’s called elders:

it’s being the example of living & not just
surviving about still laughing about getting
on your knees in front of a child & finding
that dignity it’s holding babies it’s doing
dishes it’s the desire to listen more than
the need to talk & knowing the difference
between it’s being unafraid to shine it’s
the confidence to know limits the arrogance
to rub up against them the humility to step
back there’s a story here & you are it there
are lessons to be learned & you teach by being
it’s when someone asks what you want & you
know how to respond & mean every word you
say it’s understanding when to hold & when
to be held it’s carrying the proof that you
are your own best thing on your smile in
your laugh just under the sound you make
when you cry hidden in the creases of your
own beautifully aging body

<>

like you i’m bored of the story of child & father. &
all those daddy issues. trite & tired. just deal w/ your
shit i want to write. but isn’t that too male? hard &
fast. forgive yourself i want to whisper to the broken
men in my life? but isn’t that too simplistic. flinch
& get hurt. so i write. vulnerable yet truthful words.

Tomas M oni z 41
apologetically arty words. sometimes words to defend.
to protect. but mostly i try to write to purge that
patriarchal past & celebrate the people who’ve led the
way. even the ones who got it wrong. & esp. the ones
who held us as babies & hugged us as boys. who can
remember parts of ourselves we have no recollection
of. child smiling or crying w/ such abandon. ashamed
of nothing, who helped us when we failed or fell. who
cheered us on when we ran feral & free on beaches &
sidewalks & backyards. as if nothing could hurt us.

42
- SET 2 -
JJJJJJJJ
JJJJ

A EULOGY FOR
DR. NOSTALGIA

Before YouTube, there was me. A meatspace memory
bank of lost cartoons, a one man Wikipedia, a useless-
fact generator with one-hundred-percent accuracy.

Once upon a time, knowing who did the voice of
Shaggy, Robin, Mark on G-Force and four different
Transformers made me valuable, gave my useless
knowledge purpose. It was Casey Kasem, by the way,
but you knew that, didn’t you?

Yes. Now, Youtube and its wiki-kin have destroyed me.

I know. I tested it.

In a marathon session that has left my spine numb,
I shot every clump of arcane factoids stuffed in my
arsenal at its engine. The awful Wolf Man Jack cartoon.
Bea Arthur’s hollow singing in The Star Wars Christmas
Special. The dirty outtakes of The New Zoo Review. Mr.
Rogers cussing when he thought the camera was off…

It beat me to the punch. Every. Time.

45
Defeated, I now suckle at my enemy’s teat.

Days blur as I swim through data streams on the
behind-the-scene lives of professional wrestlers,
their bodies and minds broken from a thousand hard
bumps. I stuff my fuzzy eye holes with gossip from
Z-grade science fiction extras about being the first
Storm Trooper on screen, and never seeing a residual
check from Lucas. I inhale bitter interviews with
sitcom has-beens whose parents played them like
puppets until the strings atrophied like rusty chains.
My personal soundtrack consists of five minute live
performance from bands I thought no one remembered
but me, The Replacements sober, the Partridge Family
drunk, Johnny Ramone giving a guitar solo, Johnny
Cash giving the finger, and now…

Done. Spent. Every lost moment has been revisited.
Twice. Nostalgia drips from my nose and splashes into
the last bowl of Pac Man cereal from my once large
stash, staining my torn and faded underoos (no longer
underwear that is fun to wear). My beard tangles into
my pubes like weeds. My stink no longer worsens. The
bowl is always soggy and half empty of milk, no matter
how many spoonfuls of drowned marshmallow-ghosts
I slurp.

From this purgatory, I must escape. I type in shows
that do not exist. The Mr. T. Microwave Cooking
Hour with Bruno Gerussi. The Funky Phantom “orgy”
episode. The live action finale of Dungeons and

46
Dragons where the truth is revealed that the kids died
on the roller coaster and ended up in Christian hell.
The Different Strokes Very Special Episode about
venereal disease. The after school special with Jesus
about atheist bullies. Madness. That’s all that’s left.
That’s my exit strategy.

And the screen replies:

“Video Results . . . 1 of 1.”

For. Each. One.

I laugh. If it’s madness, let’s see its true face. I cram the
engine with gibberish, hit search, hit play. Wait. Hear.

“Before YouTube, there was me.”

Jason R i dle r 47
WW WWWWWWWWWWWW
WW WW
A P R O C L A M AT I O N
OF SORTS

Lately it’s been harder and harder
to find the words
and in truth I don’t really mind
so much
as having something to say eventually
becomes as tiring as everything else
and I’ve reached a point
where I’m no longer too proud
to proclaim my emptiness
I figure we all we all
have to cop to it eventually
and now more than ever
I just want to dissolve
into the pretty sadness of the day
the perfect gray sky
above the lonely apartment buildings
the glittering shards of rain
and all the ghosts of the forgotten
and the pretty waitress arrives at my table
with a beer on the house
and the kindness of her face
breaks something within me
and I want to fall into her arms

49
and weep into her breast
for everything good
and everything lost
and everything we have become
and then I figure I should drink
my free beer first
just in case it gets weird.

50
VV VVVVVVVVVVVV
VV VV
VV V
V
V SP LIT D I A L E C T

I.

I hate the way
My blood tastes.
Because I’m mixed
With the
Gunpowder
That killed
A quarter
Of my
Ancestors.
Not enough
To kill me,
But just enough
To leave that
Metal sting
On the tip of my tongue.

II.

If I could lift

History

From the text

I’d invert the page. 


51
Make the letters

White on black

To

Look

Like

Every

Crime

In

History.

I’d snap
Book spines
In half.
Cloth

Binding

Bleeding red

Like my ancestors

That I’m not

Encouraged

To

Discuss.

52
FREQUENCIES OF THE
FORK-TONGUED

I think to say salud
pero ‘bless you’ leaves my lips

(too well trained I guess)

I go up to registers at taquerias
hesitation in my throat: jittering lingering in my
fingers

(sorry, my tongues are all tied up today)

sometimes I speak Spanish
& it’s offensive
but sometimes it’s home

sometimes I speak English
& it’s offensive
but sometimes it’s home

I speak Spanish, not Italian—I only kind of get it

& when I was in elementary school
people would say I spoke Spanish like an Italian

Vane ssa M a ri e Wi lki nson 53
& what is it about Italians anyway—

rossese di dolceacqua, black clothes, gold chains & †’s
eight course meals, kissing cheeks & pesto alla genovese
Chiavari chairs, clockmakers & at least one Guido in
the family

always too loud always laughing too much
always drunk & chain smoking

my family always told me
I’m a bad Italian—always have been

because I hate black olives & raw tomatoes
& my mom cooks tamales on Christmas eve

As a kid I was always too shy to speak Spanish with my
friends’ families—their accents, no accident—the art
of articulation formed by folding lips and fast moving
mouths fascinated me

sometimes that feels like home—&

sometimes I feel like I’m
home

but anxiety mounts and I forget to ask the important
questions:

como te sientes…
como te sientes…

54
half inside the joke, half-inside outsider—2 sides of
the same coin—honorary relative

(relative to your notion of family)

Vane ssa M a ri e Wi lki nson 55
TTTTTTTTTT

E L N O G ALIT O

dogs run free in this town
as children did before
we all stop at the river

three paths climb the canyon
each finds the waterfall
dogs run free in this town

morning sun calls the time
days blend like chocolate
we all stop at the river

roosters strut and holler
fruit vendors do the same
dogs run free in this town

soft sand beach forgotten
not a place for locals
we all stop at the river

there’s nowhere else to go
and nothing left to do
dogs run free in this town
we all stop at the river

57
TEACHER ON THE ROAD

Hector paused at the fence, knees bent, ears straining
as the leader hissed his final directives.

“Wrap everything in the shirt. Everything. Keep the
shirt up and dry. Swim left, always left.”

They crawled beneath the wire. He felt a scrape, then
sharp pain in his arm. A literal mark of passage, he
mused, if, that is, the passage were successful. Failure,
simply a small scar.

Eight men plunged as silently as the eight pounding
hearts permitted.

Graham Greene had written, and Hector knew he was
paraphrasing, that border life demanded restlessness,
being neither here nor there.

Basta, enough! He knew exactly where he was. He was
immersed neck deep in the river that separated him
from Lupe, a river that had taunted him across three
large Mexican states since Lupe had migrated, with
papers, two years earlier. She left, and left him behind.
They had been teachers en un secundario, he with the
higher level students, she with the struggling ones,

58
each impressed with the other’s skills and dedication,
and each the willing partner in the other’s bed for
almost a year, until she left. He was still a teacher and
now she was a cook and floor-scrubber in an American
jail.

He had remained in their tiny village in Jalisco but
the bad guys were getting bigger, and closer. More, he
craved his Lupe. Thus, here he was in the muddy and
chilly water. The school could find another teacher.
Call it a sabbatical.

The vagaries that permeated the United States
immigration system had granted Lupe an opening and
now, remarkably, she was a legal resident, had even
begun a likely futile path toward citizenship. He
shivered as he swam, always left, meter after meter
after meter. If he made it, if tonight he were sleeping
beneath California stars, as the old Woody Guthrie
song had it, then he really might reach Kansas state and
Salina City where Lupe, dressed in the blue municipal
shirt she wore in the picture in his wallet, cooked and
cleaned for American inmates in an American jail.

The shore approached. His destiny involved prison
bars, that much he knew, but whether he’d experience
them from outside or inside he did not yet know.

Tony P re ss 59
SIGA CAMINANDO

Cruzando la frontera,

tiene quince años y sola,
medianoche y seis hombres.

KEEP WALKING

Crossing the border
she is fifteen and alone
midnight and six men.

60
BB BBBBBBBBBBB
BB B

FR O M HERE

I am teaching haiku to 5th graders
Emerson Elementary undergrads,
counting syllables on fingertips
at first, I hope some are copying each other
seven papers with the same first line—
my uncle is dead

they ask, where do I go from here?
I ask what happened
each explanation
part of the same puzzle

he got stabbed
had too much of his favorite medicine
the pops that missed me got him in the chest
roads are more dangerous at night
I never met him, so I don’t know
mom said our street swallowed him whole

red-ribboned girl becomes river
the first one to find him
floating on her floor, now
a shallow, red river

my bedroom wall still has holes in it
61
they ask, where do I go from here?
& I don’t know what to say
so I tell them, keep writing
hoping somewhere between the lines
they will find their way
from here

62
NNNNNNN
N NNNN NN
N NN NN
-
C O Y OT L

You go for a morning walk past the reflection of the
Monterey cyprus stand upside-down in the lake, the
fresh-mown golf

course, the green-necked parliament of ducks, down
the earthen
steps, through the musky dell and there you see him:
ears alert—

wary—bristling his red-gold pelt, trotting erect. He
sees you and sniffs for your fear. Unconsciously you
lift your open palms,

show him that in your hands is nothing: no gun, no
rock. He stops, observes you, imperceptibly nods, says
I see you. You know that

he knows what you mean; that you intend no harm.
He tells you he
could leap at you and savage your throat in seconds,
clamp down

on your esophagus, rip out your larynx, vocal
chords—red and slathering—but won’t, not today.

63
You pass each other briskly, mere

feet apart, and wonder what was done to him with
rock or gun,
that he should know the ways of humans, how he has
been hurt or

attacked before, how hurt creatures hurt creatures,
how we expect
to receive the responses we’re accustomed to
receiving, how

existence is a matter of living and letting live, how
we all just
want to be left alone, in peace, to get on with our day.

64
AAAAAAAAAA
AAA
A G U I D E T O AV O I D I N G
T H E P R ES E N T M O M E N T

Keep your phone in your pocket and every time you
feel it buzz, take it out and check your new messages.
Occasionally, you will feel the buzz of an UberBlack, a
Google Bus, or an overzealous protester yelling about
a wall or how the future is female. Sometimes you
will brush your leg against a table or another person.
You may mistake the fabric from your jeans for the
vibration of your phone. Don’t beat yourself up over
it. Calmly take your phone out of your pocket and
look at it. You either have a new message or you don’t.
Other phones sound exactly like yours.

If there are no new text messages, open Facebook.
Keep scrolling until you find a piece of news about
the President or the Dakota pipeline or immigration.
Click and read. If it seems like something that other
people may use to avoid the present moment, share. If
you don’t have the energy to share, at least like it. Or
love it. If inspiration strikes, comment on it.

If there’s an online petition, sign, comment, and send
as a private message to friends who should be more
aware of important issues. Persist in commenting

65
and sharing until weak from hunger, it’s time to go to
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse for a midmorning croissant.

Next, open up your FB messages. Click on your ex,
Penelope, to see how long it has been since she has
actively used Facebook. Use this data to speculate
about how she is spending her days. If she is checking
FB every few minutes or hours, feel relieved that she is
equally unpresent.

When Penelope is not active on FB, assume she is eating
farm to table, or an artisanal donut, or thoughtful
and contemporary small plates of roasted Jerusalem
artichoke with lavender and sunflower tahini aioli
while engaging in conversation with someone who is
more attractive than you are. Anxiously await her next
Instagram post, in which she will confirm your worst
fears of what she had for dinner, while musing on how
much she enjoys tuna poke, sesame oil, radish, and nori
crackers.

See who she is following on Instagram and confirm
that she isn’t cultivating relationships. Pay careful
attention to pictures that show her walking on Baker
Beach or riding her bicycle through Mount Tam. Read
through all of the comments. If she is not liking your
comments or if she is ignoring your posts, take a
moment to drink two cups of coffee from Blue Bottle
and feel sorry for yourself. Cigarettes also work. Try
not to breathe deeply, rhythmically, or in a way that
will slow down your pulse.

66
If it’s been more than four hours since your exes or
crushes have been active, find something to post that
will grab their attention without tipping them off that
you are constantly thinking about them. A safe bet is
a quote about the vastness of human experience by a
metaphysical poet like Rumi or Kabir. It’ll be tempting
to post an animal such as a cat or a dog performing
some type of trick. Don’t resist any of your urges.

Occasionally you will have events that you have
committed to. Because many of them will require you
to leave your cozy studio apartment, find spaces in
which you can check your phone as much as possible.
It’s not much different than your pet rabbit, Willie, or
your sister’s baby, Mathéo. Show tenderness. If you are
seated at a table, rest your phone on your thigh and
check your messages surreptitiously by looking down
whenever there is a lull in the conversation. Pretend
to engage by smiling occasionally and nodding your
head. If there’s an annoying friend who lectures you
on using tech to avoid being present, simply excuse
yourself to use the bathroom. You can check on your
phone while you are peeing.

Movie theaters and yoga studios are the worst. If
your friend, Stewart, asks you to go with him to see
Moonlight or to practice his asanas, politely tell him
that you are busy and as soon as you have time, find
a birthday party, live band, or work event and click
“going” so he will know that you aren’t avoiding him.
You’re simply too busy keeping track of everything

Ari M oskowi t z 67
else. If all else fails, give a sad smile emoji to the people
who are pulling you into their present. Say: “I’m taking
it one day at a time.” If that doesn’t do it, take your
phone out of your pocket and try again.

68
HH HHHHHHHHHHH
HH H
S O N ATA F O R S Y R I A I I I :
M U SI C F O R A IR P O R TS

in airports, in belly broken,
I wait
for air, for water, for food

in slow motion, I sit
sounds clouded, mind numbed
chaos blurred

—oh, guardians of the homeland—*

my suit soiled, my hands now steady,
I remember to breathe,
to inhale the stale smoke
and anxious air
of reluctant migrants

to exhale the heaviness inside

—upon you be peace—

like the Little Prince’s drunkard,
I try to forget,
forget that I am ashamed,

69
ashamed that I am alive,
ashamed that I live here still,
that my voice has lost its timbre

—our proud spirits refuse to be humiliated—

in August, there was Leyla,
in October, Sa’id.
in November, twelve of us in one room,
soft snow on sills

ten survived the blasts,
three survived the winter,
and now,
in airport, in awe, inept,
I sit
alone

* Lyrics from the Syrian national anthem, “Humat ad-Diyar”

70
NN NNNNNNNNN
NN NN
NN
NN
POST INDUSTRIAL
I D Y L LI C
East 12th Street, Oakland, the decaying light industry
harmonizes with the warehouses, alongside the BART
line,
the disused freight train tracks, the bridge to Alameda.

The signs are a song: American Emperor,
Overseas Asiatic Coalition, Union Meat Company,
Five Harvest Wholesale and Fidelity Packaging,

where cheating-ass boys in unsmogged cars
get side-eye from their side-bitches in the back-lane
or get BJs from CDs on the DL.

East 12th Street, where the pot-holes hum in B minor
and the gas-stations and auto body repair yards
sing a chord with the discount furniture warehouses.

You find your tune again, by the meccano draw-
bridge
under the overpass, over the railway crossing,
fantasizing better days to come.
71
EEEEEEEEEE
EEE
THE VERY REMOTE
EMPLOYEE

Each day I wake up at 3:30am because somewhere off
in the Adriatic is where the CEO of our technology
firm resides and he prefers that everyone start the
workday on his local time. I wonder what cross streets
I’ll have today? It wouldn’t surprise me if the joggers
came back and tried to break our registration portal
again. Wouldn’t that be fun?

The first thing I do after I roll myself slowly out
of 3:30am’s blissful nothingness is to check my
email. Because it’s Monday I’m looking to see if the
scheduled call between my team lead and our regional
account manager is ongoing. Ding. Looks like our
Remote Standup is getting pushed to later in the day.
Oo goodie. If things were running on schedule, then
our regional account manager would have signed off
on the updated roadmap that our team lead submitted
for approval at the end of last week.

Today our team lead has CC’d the whole group on
an email subject lined “RE: dfa” (which is not an
acronym I’m familiar with), but the body of the email
contains a go-ahead for one of my core sub-tasks,

73
which is good. It looks like the first cross streets are
Stanyan and Wry Streets. I reach down beneath the
bench of the bus stop and grab my trusty duck decoy
Ox, whom I use for all my microservices infrastructure
projects, especially cross streets. Strapping Ox to my
head using a black leather belt that smells strongly
of urine, I stand up and stretch my wrists above my
forehead. In my left hand I compose and send a quick
Slack message to my team lead, letting him know that
all systems are go over here in San Francisco.

It takes me only about twenty minutes to reach Stanyan
and Wry and by the time I get there I’m a bit thirsty,
but there’s likely not adequate time for me to go grab
a beverage from the nearby coffee shop. On the corner
I find my markpoint, and that’s where I hunker down
into a crouched position and then wiggle my head
back and forth until Ox’s yellow duckbill is pointed
due East. The edge of the sky is already pinking and
using the application programming interface (API) of
a nearby traffic light I can begin running my first set
of queries on today’s updated sunlight.

Connectivity is a little bit funky so to prevent latency
from interfering with my workflow I first download
all the new sun data locally. Ox’s carved wooden duck
wings tremble slightly from a passing breeze and when
I look up I see we’ve got a much bigger problem than
funky connectivity: a large, many-winged flare attack
has started overloading traffic in the sky beneath one
of our private clouds!

74
Shoot! Based on the conical shape of the flare attack,
I know we’re in for a real doozy. Quickly I post a
message in our Slack’s #infosec channel with a screen-
shot of the flare and the icon :whoah:. From where
I’m crouching at the corner of Stanyan and Wry, the
attack is a murder of very juvenile crows. This scenario
is far from optimal. I personally have almost zero expe-
rience dealing with conical crow flares, at least from a
security standpoint. Who on our team knows how to
fix this? Come on, think!

Jumping up from my markpoint at the cross streets’
corner I scamper over to the nearest telephone pole
and wrap my arms fully around the weatherized splin-
terwood. Thud! Thud! Thud! After a couple minutes of
thudding Ox’s duckbill against the telephone pole, I
can see the cone of crows beginning to dissipate. Was
that adequate? Is the threat, perhaps, gone? No way!
The second flare, when it hits, is enormous. There are
so many crows that I wonder if they’ll overwhelm our
private clouds. #infosec is pinging with posts from
the other devs on my team who are all freaking out.
Then our team lead decides to chime in: anton, you must
disable thornapple server manually go!

Shoot, that server is in the Dolores colocation facility
halfway across town! Don’t get me wrong: most days
being a remote employee is perfectly wonderful.
But every so often there are moments where I truly
begin to question my sanity. My reality. Whatever.
Unfortunately, it’s not entirely out of character for my

Eli ze ya Quat e 75
team lead to lean on me like this during an emergency.
He knows that I’ll always say yes because it’s easier for
me to say yes than it is for me to feel guilty or anxious
about having not done enough. But still. Wouldn’t
it be nice if we could map out these security risks a
bit better next time and have a plan in place beyond
ask Anton to haul ass across town & manually disable
Thornapple?

I lift both hands up to press Ox in place above my
forehead before breaking into a sprint down Stanyan,
hollering at the few pedestrians to get out of my way
because we’ve got a crow-based flare attack in progress!
When I finally reach the intersection 17th and
Dolores Street I’m covered in sweat and my lower jaw
aches. The Thornapple server is majestic as always in
the morning mist, a few cobwebs clinging stubbornly
between the crooked Y-shapes of its crooked branches.
My heart is racing as I wonder if I’m not too late to stop
the flare attack. Kneeling in the damp mud I take out
my Flare Avoidance Stick (which I handily modified
from a wooden chopstick from a local Chinese res-
taurant) and draw three isosceles triangles in the mud
around the tip of each one of Thornapple’s protruding
roots. I hold my breath. First, nothing happens, then
a massive hush goes out through the misty air around
me. Good. I press my ear against the bark of Thornap-
ple and listen intently. Nothing. Perfect.

Raising my eye to the distant sky I see that the flare
attack has finally broken. Murder by conical murder,

76
the crows are scattering like a shredded eyelash. Some
are alighting upon telephone poles, while others flap
their way to the ground. Phew! Off behind our largest
private cloud server, the rising sun has transformed
the southeast quadrant of my operating system’s
powder blue interface into a brilliant pinkish gold. I
post :relieved_face: in the #infosec channel and get a
:boom: from my team lead, which makes me feel nicer
then I’d like to admit. I post a modest no prob, with a
smiling shrug. Ox is giving me a crick in my neck so I
unbuckle the pungent belt from my chin and remove
my trusted duck decoy, placing him on the muddy
ground beneath Thornapple’s canopy. One by one I
erase the isosceles triangles from the mud around the
server’s roots, waiting until a hum of instances returns
to mix with the crisp air of Dolores Park. What a
morning to be a remote employee!

Eli ze ya Quat e 77
JJJJJJJJ
J J J JJ
J J
E L DIA S
IN IMMI G R A NT ES

Pues a couple of weeks ago here in Norte America
It was declared Un Dia sin Immigrantes

A Day without Immigrants...

Un Dia without us…

And the poder, the strength in this protesta
(which was also undeniably a ritual)
Was that the immigrante would disappear
economically from here
For a day she would go away…

And its already been said
But let me say it again...
If we really wanted them to feel it
If we really wanted them to feel it
?Why did we leave so much of our essence?
?Why did we leave behind so much of our presence?

On El Dia sin Immigrantes we left
But we still left them with our colores…
Our burning Marigolds and Blue Marias

79
We left them with our corner ofrendas
We didn’t bother to unplug our electric rituals

And our murales with our histories drawn into them
Were still up on the walls for everybody to look at
On El Dia sin Immigrantes

Our old memorials stayed right where they were
Our new memorials( the ones they said we would
never build)
Have already taken root

We will use them as markers for when we come back
Since we are already having trouble recognising our
renamed calles…
Mi neighborhood had a fire
Mi neighborhood had a fire
Mi neighborhood had a fire
On El Dia sin Immigrantes…

Piedras en mis chanklas from a very expensive rock
pile
That someone got paid nowhere near enough money
to move

!We forgot to take the molcajetes and pan dulce with
us
On El Dia sin Immigrante!

Y todos esos ritmos-all those rhthyms- left behind in
the grooves of those old LP’s,

80
On the scratched surfaces of those CD’s and in all
those pinche I-phone gadgets
For everybody to hear
While we disappear

And some of us made it all the way up to la luna
And hid up there
Enjoying atmosphere donde english wasn’t spoken
Enjoying the kind of silenco
That is never offered to us

On El Dia sin Immigrantes a few of us were spoted
-Brown toes peeking out from behind a curtain near
the Califas/Oregon border…
Later that day fingerbones would be found out on La
Frontera

We left behind all those penas of ours
Dangling out of windows, Hanging off clotheslines,
And tied up in plastic bolsas with rosas printed on
the side

We left beind our “Buena Suerte” and “Mala Noche”
candelas burning
We left the luz inside all of those milagros on

On El Dia sin Immigrantes
We left behind so much of ourselves inside the
language
-That abreviated, old, bought and sold off word for
word English language…

Josia h a lde re t e 81
Everytime a young Brown person speaks Spanglish
A Pocho understands
And somewhere that is not her a Vato Angel gets his
wings

Nadien thought to bring some of those
mispronounced names of people, places, and
things with us
On El Dia sin Immigrantes
We could have taken the oppurtunity to try and
straighten out
Some of the mispronounciations
Although I know what a drag it would be to get
busted
With a bunch of misprounced names in your pockets
While you’re on your way to somewhere else…

Otra parte of otro llado
On El Dia sin Immigrantes
And it was easier to disappear than you’d think

Ne de aqui ne de alla
Is what we’ve been saying this whole time after all
Still you creo que we left a few things buried
Which I don’t think that we should have

We should have told some of those juesos
We should have broken the news to some of those
calakas

82
That On El Dia sin Immigrantes
Someone will probably take the oppurtunity to point
out
That your bones are not in fact in the right place

America the azul eyed is watching today more than
ever
Not just with surveliance cameras and I-phone views
But with its barely used conscience…

Because apparently most Americanos said they
supported
El Dia sin Immigrantes
But they still threw a fit in the parking lot
When they saw that their favorite crepe breakfast
place was closed for the day
Frowned and posted about it when their lawn didn’t
get mowed

Never asked their dashboard saints a thing
They stayed silent and plastic up there on the dash
While we walked all the way to where people
couldn’t see us

The sangre in the ground that spoke to us and that
some of us
Kept wallet pictures of
Stayed in the ground coalescing into shapes
That we could not see
-But we knew there blood was there

Josia h a lde re t e 83
On El Dia sin Immigrantes
Nuestra leyendas so often forgotten but never
forgiven
Wandered without a body or a green card

And some of our espiritus
Weren’t allowed to come with us
Since it violated the conditions of their parole
Even in death
So they wandered tambien and hoped that nadien
would l see them around here
-After all it just takes one person holding onto their
bag too tight
And thinking that you don’t look right
-And just like that
That espiritu becomes a stereotype
Before it ends up becoming an espiritu again…

On El Dia sin Immigrantes
The juesos of our footprints
That dot to dot to dot the frontera remained
So did our pain

On El Di sin Immigrantes
We had no choice
But to leave behind that great American
contradiction

We tried to take it with us
(maybe we’d get lucky and lose it on the way back…)
But it stayed dug in here liike a garapata

84
Norte America es un pais de recuerdos
Pero ningunos de esos recuerdos son de nosotros

Mujeres de maiz y Hombres de la tierra Espiritus
Santos
That do the humilde tasks those everyday jobs
Moping the floors, cuting the grass

What they are doing in their house aprons and worn
work shirts
With their silencio and repition is performing
Part of the Mystery that keeps our Quinto Sol
burning

Mas que any guru or holy man commands
These are our connections
On El Dia sin Immigrantes

Some of nuestra gente who instead of disappearing
Turned into remedios for us
Changed into crackling blue and surronded us

Otro Dia sin Immigrantes is coming on the first of
Mayo...

?Quien se va desapareser this time
Quien se le va olvidar regresar this time?
Pues whatever happens sigemos chambiando y
chambiando y chambiando
Con la protection de Ometeotl

Josia h a lde re t e 85
Lagrimas de nuetros cuentos
Profundo naciemento of each day

Mi abuelos plaid shirt that he wore to work everyday
The folds of Tonatzin’s rebozo
That is a corner of the bluenight sky…

Here take them
Take them
Even though it’s passed
I want you to hold onto them
For the next Dia sin Immigrantes.

86
- may 1, 2017 -