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A Flash of Creative Non-fiction by Jackie Huertaz

Sunday Funday

 

Can I order a Michelada with a Modelo Especial? I say rubbing my right temple.

Yeah, I’ll have the same, and a menudo, wait do you have pozole? Mari says, adjusting her gold bangles.

Yes. We have menudo and pozole on Saturday and Sundays only. All day, our waitress says collecting the menus.

A text message from Faith: Hey prima, order me red beer. I’m on the way! J

The waitress scurries off to place the cure for our hangovers, as my girlfriends and I, begin piece together our girls night from the night before.

A forty-dollar cab ride.

A phone number from a guy named Gil written on a napkin torn in half.

A Jack in the Box receipt for thirty-dollars. Except we don’t remember who ordered the jalapeno poppers.

And for some unexplainable reason Montell Jordon’s “Get it on Tonight” still on repeat in my head.

Here you go ladies, enjoy! Beerfest mugs overflowing with clamato juice and Modelo Especial accented with jumbo shrimp garnishes, and tejan salted rims decorate our previously naked table. Mari and I take our time snapchatting our drinks to let everyone know how much fun we had the night before. Our buzz revives as we take the first long sip of our Micheladas.

In walks my cousin Faith wearing yoga pants with a white tank top exposing her cheetah print bra.

A Mexican family is seated in the booth behind us. The wife gives a curious glance our way, followed by her husband. The couple’s two-year old plays peek-a-boo with me over the partition between our joining tables. An innate part of me wants to hold the baby in my lap and feel its warmth against my skin. It’s after 12:00pm and families begin to slowly trickle in after mass. And I’m thinking we should’ve gone to the El Tarasco on Main Street, a darkly dimmed bar, for our borachaness.

The hostess seats more Mexican families next to us¾husbands in Portrillo Cowboy boots, wives in beautiful dresses from JC Penny’s and Dress Barn. And that occasional white family you don’t expect to see, but down for Mexican food. I start to feel anxious in my clothes from the night before, my face still halfway composed with greasy makeup, topped with even greaser hair. I reach for my sunglasses, an attempt to create a barrier between myself and the families. I don’t want to think about marriage, children, or church. I don’t want to think about why I’m thirty-two and single, still drunk from the night before. I don’t want to be reminded of the things I should be doing, on a Sunday in my thirties.

My girlfriends are:

Divorced.

Student.

Mom.

Single.

Engaged twice.

Mother.

Homecoming Queen.

Cheerleader.

Writer.

Teacher.

Banker.

Real Estate Agent.

So what’s the happs? What exactly happened last night? I don’t remember a thing, Faith says, resting her shades like a headband on top of her head, before reaching inside her handbag for a Kleenex. She wraps the Kleenex around her index finger, swooping makeup boogers from the corners of her eyes. With each swipe she makes, I feel closer to my old self. The guilt and pleasure from a eighty dollar bar tab, and the weight of hooking up with a guy named Gil feels somewhat lifted.

You spent how much at the bar?

You hooked up with Gil? On Nadia’s couch! Whaaaa! Isn’t he related to Raymond? Wait didn’t you date Raymond back in the day?

How did you get home Faith?

I don’t remember taking that shot

            You drunk dialed your ex? Fukkkk

            You left your chonies at my place

I don’t know how I got home

I think I left my card at Lums

ABC Taxi picked us up

 

Wait, oh shit, that’s my friend Brian, we went to high school together. I haven’t seen him in years. Faith waves over at him excitedly.

Fucking Faith she knows everyone! Wait don’t call him over here, I look like shit Mari says, reaching for her sunglasses.

We look like shit! At least you showered, I remind her, sinking further into our booth.

Brian walks over. He is Portuguese cowboy meets Jason Statham. Before proper introductions are made, Faith starts drilling him with questions. But the only question we care to know is if he is single.

I’m going through a divorce. We were married for fifteen years. His Jason Statham camera-ready grin fades and he looks into a football game on mute behind our table.

Aw, so sorry to hear that, we say in kinda disingenuous unison. Faith exchanges numbers with Brian, no one has to mention it, but we all secretly hope he will call. That he will join us later for a drink or two. Because on some visceral level we need Brian or the Brians of the world to remind us that it’s okay to be a little displaced in life.

*

Another beer. Another bar. Another beer. Another bar.

The sun is setting on Main Street as we walk into Tommy’s restaurant. More girlfriends have joined our Sunday Funday posse, and now we’re rolling five deep.

We’ve transitioned from Micheladas to anything with vodka.

Okay, one “last, last” Mari says making Dr. Evil quotation marks with her fingers. Then home.

Yeah, right we aren’t going home. It’s Paisa night at El Presidente, let’s go dancing! I say moving my shoulders and snapping my fingers in my seat.

Hey. Wait. Is that¾is that…Brian sitting at the bar? Mari says peeping from behind the specialty cocktail menu.

Oh shit it is! Faith starts giggling out loud. I think he’s with someone. She still waves unapologetically.

Brian catches our gaze and waves casually over to us. He does not leave his seat to say hello. Instead, he tips his Coors Light bottle in our direction.

I think he’s on a date.

What the fuck? That’s our date!

I think¾ I know that girl. Um…Yeah…I don’t like her.

Is she cute? I can’t see that far.

Mari goes into stealth mode and puts her shades on to get a good look.

Yeah. I mean…she’s all right.

It looks like they’re on a first date.

Yeah. Her laugh is annoying.

Whatever, that fool has five kids anyways.

 

We place our drink orders and watch the sun completely set. Something shifted in all of us and somewhere in the space of ordering drinks and Brian’s date we lost our momentum. One-by-one our girlfriends closed their tabs, and said their goodbyes. Mari and I stayed a little longer, not ready to go home to our empty spaces and observed as Brian engaged in first date awkwardness. We listened to the nervous pitch in his date’s laugh; we noticed her order drink after drink in attempt to dilute her awkward timbre. Brian, his date, Mari, and I, kept drinking until the bar closed. Brian and his date left with his hand on her lower back, turning back once to say goodbye with his movie star grin. I called ABC taxi to pick us up. We decided to skip dancing and head home. We both had work and school in the morning.

Jackie Huertaz was born and raised on the north side of Visalia, California. Where she still lives today. She received her English degree at Fresno State University where she is currently in her third year in the creative non-fiction program. She teaches at Fresno State and is an assistant editor for the Normal School and San Joaquin Review. She writes about the working class, friendship, and the strong Mexican women in her family.

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A Cycle of Poems by Kenneth Pobo

 

 

JERRY KNEW

 

he was gay while eating Pez,

Joan Crawford in Rain on TV.

Newton had the apple

that showed him how to find a motel

named gravity. Jerry had Joan.

 

He was 18, knew at 13,

but knowing can be far from saying.

 

Yet he felt more sure

of the way, no map needed, love’s

ostrich coming up

 

from behind, telling him to hop on.

 

JEFF KNEW

 

Jeff worked hard on a book case

in seventh-grade Shop,

loved the lathe too much,

mis-shaped the wood.

 

Robert Finchetti,

just another kid with acne

and curly black hair–Jeff

knew staring was rude,

but wherever Robert went,

Jeff’s eyes secretly followed.

He learned how to look

and not be caught—an art,

like building something

that wouldn’t topple over.

 

Robert moved away.

 

Sometimes joy is The Sleeper

yo-yo trick, tough to learn—

it’s in the spin. With practice

you get it, the yo-yo finding a way

back to your hand.

JERRY LISTENING TO THE WIND

 

Wind had only one hit,

“Make Believe.” Most of

high school was make believe—

 

smiling for bullies, smiling

for Pastor, or smiling for teachers

who fed us poisoned algebra.

It turns out that Wind

was only studio musicians–

how could there be no Wind?

 

I waited for a good strong one

to blow through my school.

It never came.

 

Just a stillness

I didn’t dare break

by speaking.

 

JERRY COMING OUT TO MOM TWICE

 

Mom wouldn’t say “cancer.”

We followed her lead. Dad said she was

“under the weather.” I said she was

“feeling poorly.” Opinions

 

hardened her spine. Her views were like math tests.

You got enough points and you passed.

Often I was the torn-up test,

the F in the ever-lengthening grade book.

Mom was the sound

of a loudly closed book.

 

She also couldn’t say the word “gay.”

I had “a problem.” I was “different.”

Not all that religious, God fell under

her math tests too. Even God could flunk.

 

Telling her that I worked as an environmentalist

freaked her out. “A what? I can see you

whistling on dark forest trails,

a bear swatting you down for good.”

When I walk in the woods,

I don’t whistle. My dreams are of bears,

deer, and snowbirds.

 

Mom always kept a clean house.

See boxes on the floor in mine.

Dusting? What? I want magic,

 

a forest that takes me in real deep.

No problem if I can’t find my way back.

  

JERRY AND JEFF IN CAPE MAY

 

The sun gobbles up the horizon line,

sets a cellophane sky on fire.

It’s romantic.

 

Jerry says “Oh, Jeff”

and Jeff says there’s a great

restaurant a mile away.

They stay in a refurbished

Victorian house, Jerry’s idea

of bliss. Jeff would be fine

with a Motel Six. Sex,

 

finding a sheltered place

when rain pours down–

you get to see the sun pop

back out, blankets cover wet sand,

the ocean

laced with light.

 

Kenneth Pobo won the 2014 Blue Light Press Book Award for Bend of Quiet.  They published it in 2015.  His work has appeared in: Hawaii Review, Caesura, Mudfish, The Queer South anthology, Cream City Review, and elsewhere  He teaches creative writing and English at Widener University in Pennsylvania.  He and his partner have two cats and a garden with lilies and dahlias.  Catch his Internet radio show, Obscure Oldies, on Saturdays 6-8:30pm on Widecast through tunein.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“rooted and uprooted”: A Razorhouse Interview with Rios de la Luz

 The author of The Pulse Between Dimensions in the Desert, Rios de la Luz is a writer that does not rest easily within the literary boundaries of form, genre, and content. Her storytelling is always heartbreaking, always artful, and always politicized. Here she speaks about Bizarro writing, the idea of home, and WOC as social media stars, among other delightful things.

Razorhouse Editor, Monique Quintana: You’ve been called a Bizarro writer. How would you define the genre, and how do you think it speaks to the Latinx experience?

Rios de la Luz: Bizarro writing is a mixture weird, outrageous, insightful, and subversive storytelling. Bizarro includes elements of horror, speculative fiction and fantasy as well. It is often defined as “literature’s equivalent to the cult section at the video store.” I do not think my work necessarily falls into the category of Bizarro, but I do enjoy using elements of the peculiar and creating strange worlds for characters to thrive in. There’s a fearlessness in being weird and telling weird stories, because of Bizarro, I am not afraid to get weird with my writing. I don’t know if Bizarro necessarily speaks to the Latinx experience. I think it is still an evolving genre and at the moment, it is a primarily white literary space. The Bizarro community is very inviting and open to new writers, and I hope this will mean more writers of color submitting and creating stories for the genre.

MQ: How did you arrange the pieces in your collection, The Pulse Between Dimensions in the Desert?

RdlL: I arranged them according to what I felt flowed best together. I wanted all of the stories to feel as though there was a connecting element, so I used the same names for some of the characters. For me, the stories and characters all exist within the same universe.

MQ: You’ve lived in Texas, Oklahoma, and now Portland. How did these places inform the way you craft the women in your book?

RdlL: I had recently moved to Oregon when I started writing the stories and I was still in a mental adjustment period. Oregon did not feel like home at the time, so I kept revisiting Texas and Colorado when I wanted to include a memory of my own in any of the stories. The women and girls in the stories were crafted in homages to the women of my family. I chose where they lived based on places I knew they were rooted and uprooted from.

MQ: How did you find a publishing home for the book?

RdlL: I was lucky and I met Constance Ann Fitzgerald at Bizarro Con. She had this beautiful idea of putting together a limited edition box set of multiple zines from seven different writers and she asked me if I wanted to contribute. I had never made a zine before, and I had not written any stories in a long time, but I loved the idea, so I contributed a zine to the set. Later on, she messaged me about wanting to start her own press which exclusively publishes women and asked me if I wanted to be one of the first authors she published. She started Ladybox Books and I was one of two books (Jigsaw Youth by Tiffany Scandal was the other first release) to be published for the initial launch of the press.

MQ: Can you speak to the beauty of being a lady blogger? Why do you think it’s important for WOC to blog?

RdlL: When my mind isn’t a mess, I love blogging. Blogging is another way to put your writing into practice; it is also a different way to think about how you write. I enjoy writing non-fiction pieces because there’s a chance that when you are writing about personal vulnerabilities, you are not alone. I think it is important for WOC to blog because it places your voice on a platform that can potentially link you with other people who you can learn from and network with. I have met so many wonderful people through running a blog.

MQ:What is your favorite work to read out loud, and what do you do to prepare yourself for reading in public? What do you think makes for a dynamic reader?

RdlL: My favorite pieces to read are “Morena,” “Enojada,” and “Church Bush.” I used to get so nervous to read out loud, but now, I really have fun when I do it. I still shake and sweat and glisten from my perspiration, but I love it. When I have time to prepare, I practice reading out loud to myself multiple times. Usually, I start practicing three days before a reading, just to shake off any initial nerves in having to hear my own voice. I think about the character’s perspective and then I plan how I read from there. I think being a dynamic reader is about finding your reading voice, being unafraid to mess up, because you might mess up a word or a line, but that’s okay, and getting into character. Also, not being an asshole and reading within the time limit given.

MQ: Who should we be reading?

RdlL:Meliza Bañales. Yesika Salgado. Myriam Gurba. Sandra Cisneros. ire’ne lara silva. Vanessa Mártir. Lina Meruane. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Alma Rosa Rivera. Juliet Escoria. Silvia Angulo. Roxane Gay. Gloria Anzaldúa. Lidia Yuknavitch. Toni Morrison. Valeria Luiselli. Han Kang. Marilyse Figueroa. Monica Drake. Etgar Keret.

MQ: What are you working on now?

RdlL: I am currently working on a new chapbook which will be out in November.

Rios de la Luz is a queer xicana/chapina living in Oregon. She is brown and proud. She is always working on decolonizing her mind and being louder. She is in love with her bruja/activist communities in LA, San Antonio and El Paso. She is the author of, The Pulse Between Dimensions and The Desert via Ladybox Books. Her work has been featured in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Entropy, The Fem Lit Magazine, World Literature Today and St. Sucia.

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2 Stories by Aurelia Lorca

Santa Muerte’s Lover

He told me not to fall in love with him; he belonged to someone else.

“You don’t understand,” he said. “I’m a heroin addict. It takes over me. My body doesn’t even become my own any more. You don’t even drink!”

“I drank enough last spring to get in trouble in my graduate program by telling my thesis advisor that all California Literature needed was yet another novel about a Spanish friar.”

“You don’t understand,” he would say, over and over again.

Each time I would argue, “Clown magic!”

But I did not understand.

He relapsed a year after he came to San Francisco. He relapsed hard. He lost his phone, had hocked his play station, and was off work for four days from the restaurant he worked at. He had no distractions so he decided to draw.  I thought it was an illustration of The Virgin of Guadalupe. He wore her on a medallion around his neck. He had told me how grandmother’s house was adorned with her image. He had told me how when he was boosting from stores, he prayed to her for protection.

However, it was not the Virgin of Guadalupe. Her veil was green and speckled with stars. A halo of gold and orange streaks surrounded her, and her dress was red. Her face was bone, her hands were bone, and clasped piously.   She was held up by a devil, or dark angel.

He would tell me years later, “What we think of as demons are really angels tearing us away from flesh.”

The drawing was of Santa Muerte: The Skinny Lady,the Bony Lady, the White Girl, the White Sister, the Pretty Girl, the Powerful Lady, the Godmother.

It was always Santa Muerte, not the Virgin of Guadalupe, not heroin, not even the crazy bitch he was with after me who knocked out his teeth and gave him what he called “vampire fangs.” It was Santa Muerte. She was his lover. She was the one he loved the most. She was the only one who understood how someday he would be completely hers, and hers alone.

pink-flower-on-sidewalk
Via Favim

On O’Farrell And Powell  

Did I say I love you? It was the last time I saw you. I was on my way to a protest for the Ukraine in Union Square. Did I say I love you? I was late. I walked by you on O’Farrell and Powell across from Macy’s. I was late, and I was walking down O’Farrell, and the sun was so bright, you were crouched on the corner with a row of backpacks and someone’s pit-bull. Your face was so bruised and swollen I almost did not recognize you. I looked down and I almost didn’t recognize you because your face was purple. Like a big blueberry. I think I even gasped. You said hi but you did not smile. Everything was so bright, the sun was so bright, and your face was so dark. “What happened?” I asked.“Some guys at the bar next to our squat on California and Hyde didn’t like the way we looked,” you said. “They thought we had a knife, we didn’t. There were six of them and two of us. The bar called the cops- They knew we had been squatting there and not giving anyone any problems. The cops said we could press charges, but I didn’t have my id, and my buddy is on parole. So we didn’t.” I asked if you still had the jacket I bought you. You yelled of course and pointed to it on top of your backpack. “I didn’t sell it,” you said. “That wasn’t what I meant,” I said.” I just wanted to make sure you were ok, if it was keeping you warm. “ You were with Luna, your friend’s dog, a skateboard, and all of your backpacks. I didn’t know what to do or say. There was something larger than myself on that street going on- not just the protest up in Union Square that I was running late to.   The sunlight was so bright and there were people around. Whatever it was felt so big, and all was exposed. It was too big and too mushy to be on the street corner like that with so many people around. Your face was un-naturally bruised, and not just from getting beat up. I know now it was a sign that your heart was giving out. I gave you ten dollars. “You don’t have to do that,” you said, “I don’t want your money.” “Please,” I said, “just be ok.” I was running late to a protest. My friend also was once a junkie and knew more dead than the living, I wanted to support her. The world was bigger than my heartache. I was running late, so I asked you to come with me and you said you couldn’t but you would meet me later. There was something I had to say. I think I said it. I said I love you there on the street corner, on O’Farrell and Powell. Once upon a time it upset you when I said I love you too much, but I said it there on the street corner, even though it felt so weird to be so vulnerable like that. I didn’t think it could be the last time I ever saw you. I just needed to say I love you because your face was so black and blue. I didn’t think it would be the last time I saw you. I just wanted you to know that I loved you.   You told me that you’d meet me later, that you had to wait for your friends, that you couldn’t leave their dog and backpack, that you’d come to the protest, but it was the last time I ever saw you other than in my dreams.

Aurelia Lorca is the pen-name of a woman from the borderlands of the Monterey Peninsula who has been motionless in the twist of time. Her writing largely focuses on questions of ethnicity and identity and often reassembles narratives from histories which have been forgotten as a way to remember.

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A Poem by Karlo Silverio Sevilla

 

Because neither subtlety nor obfuscation is the province of the protest poem & if I have to “cheat” with a long title-cum-foreword just to render this (figurative) call to arms call for a non-violent uprising LOUD & CLEAR because we’re all

FUCKED!!!,

I would.

Karlo Sevilla lives in Quezon City, Philippines and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in I am not a silent poet, Philippines Graphic, Philippines Free Press, Radius, Shot Glass Journal, Eastlit, Rambutan, Kitaab, Spank the Carp, and others. He is a volunteer for the labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Workers).

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A Prose Poem by Mia Barraza Martinez

Chihuateteo Rip

or Drum 

or Buzzing in My Ears

 

The skin of my lower stomach is a drying little round drum, tightening and tightening. I finger the deep, red symbols indented by the seams of my jeans before slipping on the papery, blue clinic dress that won’t rise even when I spin and spin. I throw up in a small black trashcan in a corner. My knees are above me like two mountains of flesh stretched over rock. There is a vacuum buzz. The kind I used to run from as a child. I turn from the sound to see Cihuateteo rip

out a corn plant and eat the roots. Then the sliding glass doors close behind me, my little drum silent. There is light bouncing from car to car, buzzing in my ears. The asphalt is sticking to the soles of my shoes.

 

The daughter of farmworkers, Mia Barraza Martinez is a xicana writer currently working on her MFA in Creative Writing at CSU Fresno.

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2 Poems by Sharif Shakhshir

 

Elegy on Unlicensed Nuclear Accelerator

for J. Park

The old ambulance-slash-hearse winds its way

through these Southern Californian streets.

The west coast Ghostbusters franchisee driving as

I check the Tobin’s Spirit Guide with your diary

to see what type of specter you would be.

Bifurcated, where would the ethereal half go?

 

Your physical body, possessed by a demon,

makes traditional parents worry less:

“Mixed-race children are just inferior.”

“This law-school has a large Korean student body

for me to find a man to marry.”

A satanic blessing. Who would ever know

she wasn’t just a daughter simply tired

of not meeting the conditions of a parent’s love?

 

There is psychokinetic energy

in the place where we would go to get sushi.

A carousel of chopsticks and knives

chasing bowls of wasabi in the air.

This is where we went on our first date.

You wrote you were impressed with my degree

in paranormal psychology:

he studies the anguish of the dead

the way I would study an old poem.

 

A class seven floating manifestation,

You’re trying, failing to take your old form

in our booth. You tell me I want to start over.

This time the demons won’t get me.

But it’s too late to restore things.

I fire a stream of protons

waving who you were

into a tiny radiating box

which prints out a ghost report on receipt

paper, a summary of someone gone

in small letters with gentle serifs.

The things left in the air come crashing to rest.

 

pony-via-terapeak
Via Terapeak
Best Pony

Which pony is best pony?

Pegasus or Unicorn?

Would you rather use magic or fly?

Can you use magic

to turn into something that flies?

Why would anyone want to be

a regular pony that can talk?

Did Mr. Ed enjoy his existence?

 

Do you think Equestria has a history

of apartheid and genocide? Can you imagine

separate drinking fountains and

borders for unicorns, pesgusi, and earth ponies?

Or do you think they separated them by color,

having pinkie pie districts, and blue mare groups.

Would they have little pony ghettos

and little pony work camps

overseen by little pony fascists?
What would they call them,

concentration corrals

or glue factories?

Palestine or Israel?

Are you hopeful

about the Arab Spring?

 

What cartoons do you watch

in order to escape the news?

Wile E. Coyote or Road Runner?

Do you sympathize with Pepé Le Pew or Penelope Pussycat?

When you fight with loved ones are you Bugs or Daffy?

Do their words send your beak in orbit around your head?

Does this mean war?

Do you cry out for help,

or pull signs from behind your back?

How far can you walk off a cliff

without looking down?

Climb out of Hades

without looking back?

If I were to draw a tunnel on a boulder

would you be able to follow me through?

 

Do you think the scope of My Little Pony

is a post-apocalyptic future

after the nuclear holocaust

where ponies mutated and evolved

wings and magic?

Do you believe in evolution?

Do you believe in God?

Do you believe in love?

Do you believe in God’s love?

Do you believe God is love?

Do you believe Jesus is

Lord? Son of God? One third of God?

Do you believe that there is one god?

Do you question whether Muhammad is his messenger?

Do you believe in the Elements of Harmony?

Is the world doomed?

Can the world be saved?

Will you help?

 

What do you think Twilight Sparkle will do when she graduates?

Do you think she will work retail or an office job?

Do you think she worries

about student debts?

Does Princess Celestia subsidize the loans of her students?

What are you going to do

when you graduate?

Where do you want to be

accepted?

Who are your Wonderbolts?

What is your fashion?

 

What would Discord have to tell you

to turn you against all of your friends?

Do you hate your friends?

Do you freak out

if they don’t come to your party?

If they don’t come to your pet’s party?

If they don’t come to your pet’s party’s after party?

 

As an artist, do you empathize

with Princess Luna’s crafted nights

being ignored?

How does it weigh on your mind?

Does it give you insomnia?

As an artist, do you work

until exhaustion like Apple Jack?

As an artist, do you beg

for criticism like Rarity?

Does everything have to be just right?

As an artist, do you mock

the 4th wall like Pinkie Pie?

As an artist, do you dash to the spotlight or shy away?

If you were Twilight Sparkle, as an artist,

would you study your craft

or your market more?

 

When saving the world with your friends,

what could Nightmare Moon turn into

that would send you back the other way?

What are you afraid of?

Which ghosts can’t you giggle away?

Do you have dreams

where they circle you?

Do you imagine someone

saving you?

What do they look like?

Would you be disappointed

if they looked like me?

 

Sharif Shakhshir is a poet of Middle Eastern and Latin descent. Born, raised, and educated in California, Shakhshir has studied creative writing at UC Irvine and USC.  Other poems by the author have appeared in Anthology of Writing that Risks, Crows Holow, and West Wind.