Lee Hultin found success in writing technical manuals from plumbing to technology that led her to a career in application development. After retiring early and looking for new adventures, she left Chicago’s cold winters and settled on the Island. These days, she spends her time enjoying island life on the Gulf with her rescued husky mix and writing about life.
Read more great fiction like this in Corpus Christi Writers 2018: An Anthology.
I woke in the dark room. All the doors were closed, the drapes and blinds drawn tight. Jack didn’t like the sun waking him. He lay still sleeping by my side. I couldn’t sleep anymore and I had to see the sun, the light, the Gulf. I decided I wasn’t going to waste any more time waiting on Jack.
Outside, Marty was tinkering on the boat. It was red with white cushions, and his pride and joy. He had just traded up, his older boat for the used red one. It was bigger and more powerful than the old one, and seated eight, a definite boost over the four-seater older one. He had only logged a month on it and was still getting used to how it performed. He was having problems with the GPS working properly and a few minor issues with the motor.
Inside, I helped Jessica put the beer in the tote along with chips and nuts. “Let’s get going,” Marty said as he entered the sliding glass doors. Jack emerged finally, freshly showered and grabbed a cold beer. Jessica laughed and said, “A bit early isn’t it Jack.” Jack just smiled and said, “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” letting out a not so quiet belch while walking down to the pier. I grabbed my sunglasses, hat and hairclip, taking the tote on the way out the door. Jessica locked the lanai doors and walked the 15 steps to the boat. Marty was already in the boat yelling at Jessica, “Did you bring my sunglasses?” “Right here” she said, handing them to him. With everyone on board, Marty turned the motor on and backed out of the pier, put the boat in gear and drove slowly down the canal.
I never tired of the slow crawl moving past beautiful houses, looking at the landscape and imagining living in one. Some still had their hurricane shutters up, meaning it was a second home. I wondered what these people did for a living to have more than one house. They had perfectly manicured lawns with foliage discreetly hiding patios and swimming pools, jet skis and large boats in private piers, and they were so much bigger than my own house. Jessica remarked on a red, garden pagoda in one yard on the corner lot to the Intracoastal. “That’s new,” she said. “The couple who bought that house also owns a new Asian restaurant on Water Street.” Jessica always knew when something changed or who was home or who had bought or sold these beautiful homes.
Marty opened it up, and the little red boat was flying, the engine purring loudly. Three dolphins, attracted by the engine sound and the bubbles the large wake created, were following us. Soon they were jumping alongside, greeting us on this mostly cloudless day. I pulled my hair back and secured it at the nape of my neck with a large clip.
Marty turned right, slowing as he came to little patches of sand islands. They really weren’t islands, only what was left of sand bars moved by the sea and tide. It was the long way around the Island to the Gulf. Marty had said earlier we would stay close to shore since the forecast predicted a few storms. I didn’t mind, I loved being in the boat and taking a little journey around the Island.
Soon we were into the Gulf with the Island on our right. You couldn’t stay too close to the Island because of shallow waters and unexpected sand bars, so Marty moved a bit further out, still keeping the Island in sight. I moved upfront sitting beside him and opened the windshield windows. I loved putting my feet up and feeling the boat bouncing off the waves. The wind picked up and the waves were now becoming swells rising higher and higher on both sides of the red boat. I was laughing at each jump the boat made over the waves, coming down hard on the sea. Thrilled by the roller-coaster ride, my laughter got louder as the adrenaline pulsed in my veins. I looked back at Jack and smiled. He acknowledged me by raising a can of beer. He only liked sitting up front when the waters were smooth as glass.
To the west, we all saw it. Dark skies were rapidly moving east and in our direction. Marty sped up and Jack started to get nervous and said so. Jessica and I switched seats so she could help navigate and I sat beside Jack. Jessica was trying to get the GPS on her cell phone to work. “Let’s get back Marty. I don’t like the looks of that storm coming in,” she said calmly. Before she even finished her sentence fog appeared seemingly out of nowhere. I looked at Jack, a silly grin on his face, taking a sip from another can of beer. In seconds the fog covered the red boat and we could only see a couple of feet in front of us. Jack exploded, “Were all going to die.” I chuckled, “I fully trust Marty, and I think we are in capable hands. After all, Marty knows these waters and has been driving in the Gulf for over 15 years.” Jack’s face, reddened by the coastal sun from our few days of vacation, was now pale. He gripped the bar around the side of the red motorboat with one hand, his knuckles as white as his face, while keeping his other hand firmly around the beer can. “Marty, I don’t want to crash or die,” Jack voiced in a hoarse whisper.
I could see the side of Marty’s face: it was as pale as Jack’s. He said softly, “I’m not sure where we are. I don’t know if we are close to the Island anymore.” The swells and wind were lifting the boat in the air. We hit the water with a hard slap that shook the boat and lifted us from our seats. The fog was so thick I couldn’t see beyond the edge of the boat. Only then did I begin to wonder if maybe, just maybe we might be in trouble.
copyright Lee Hultin
After retiring early and looking for new adventures, Lee Hultin left Chicago’s cold winters and settled on the Island.
My ancestry is Russian, from the cold tundra north with a bit of German. You would have thought I wouldn’t mind cold weather, but I did. I have blue eyes and light hair. And I can sing. I often sang the song of my people. My birth mother taught me to sing the day I was born. She taught me the songs of our people and I have never forgotten them.
Not long after my birth, I was placed in a home. The home was cold, and I wasn’t treated well. I guess they thought I was a reject because my room was so cold. I was sold to a couple that had other kids. They were a lot older that me. I didn’t stay there long, because soon I was placed in a foster home. I don’t know why. No one ever told me.
I was transferred from home to home. The last one was nice. There were lots of kids my age to play with. I liked that home. I stayed there for about 5 months. It became very crowded with new kids. I guess they figured I needed to move on to make room for other kids. One day, I was picked up and put in a car. It was a long ride and there were other kids with me. When we finally stopped, I was led out of the car and up to two people standing in the parking lot. That’s where the transfer took place. Pictures were taken and I tried my best to smile. Then some paperwork was exchanged and signed. I had been adopted, again. Before I could say anything, I was put in another car with the two people and went for another long ride. I cried the entire ride.
The person who drove the car was older and the other person was young, not a kid, but not old. Finally, the car stopped, and we all went into this house. It was bigger than my foster home and warm. I even had my own bed, something I relished after sharing in the foster home. The younger person left after a couple of days, and it was just the two of us.
She always made me things I loved to eat and played with me every day. We took daily walks outside. I was called the dancer by neighbors and people we passed because during our fresh air walks, I danced on the sidewalk down the street. I danced to tunes in my head I had heard some time back. We went to the playground daily, often twice a day. The park was filled with other kids, some older, some younger and some my age. Some of the older kids were bullies, but I always stood my ground. She didn’t like this as I was often scolded but she also scolded the bullies, which made me smile. Memories of my past faded into this new life.
Then winter came and it was very, very cold. I wasn’t used to these winters. They were cold and very long. We still went to the playground every day even in winter. I loved playing with the other kids. We chased each other in a game of tag and sometimes had races to see who was the fastest. She even played ball with me, a game I loved even though it’s a boy’s game and I’m a girl.
And then we moved to a warmer climate close to the ocean. We moved to the Island before I turned four. It was a long trip, but I didn’t cry once. The car pulled into a garage and I didn’t want to get out. I screamed and cried and pretty much threw a hysterical tantrum. The garage was empty and cold. It reminded me of the first time I was placed in foster care when they took me to this room with basically nothing in it. I thought she was abandoning me and putting me in another foster home. She finally understood and backed the car out of the garage. We walked into our new home through the front door. I couldn’t have been more proud of our new home. There were lots of rooms and big back yard.
We went on daily walks along the beach, once in the morning and again in the evening. I really didn’t like getting my feet wet but loved walking on the beach. People often stopped us to say how beautiful I was. I liked those compliments, they made me feel proud. I always walked after with my head a bit higher and an extra dance in my steps.
We had a pool in our new home, but I never went in. I just didn’t like being in that much water. Even on our beach walks, the surf would sometimes rush in up to my belly. I quickly ran out of the water. Walking on the sand was much nicer.
I cried a bit on that long night’s journey to Laredo escaping from the Hurricane. Hurricane Harvey it was named. The road, one lane in each direction, was so dark with only a blinking light from an occasional tower in the sky lighting the evacuation path. When we arrived four hours later, I screamed and cried when we started up the open stairs to our room. It was on the second floor even though we had requested a first-floor room. I had never seen stairs and didn’t know what they were and where they led. People came out of their rooms looking to see what was going on. We went back to the front desk as she explained we needed a ground floor room or one accessible by elevator. Two people behind me testified to hearing my screams. We got a ground level room. We had to move the next day to another ground floor room. I don’t really know why. But I was really glad to not have to go up those stairs again.
We came home and neighbors helped take off all those metal shutters so we could get into our home. We had no electricity for the first night back and once we opened the doors, we couldn’t close them. She called this man who came over and fixed the doors. The electricity came back on and life returned to normal again.
She taught me to be gentle with tiny flying things. But I still chased the dragonflies, damselflies, and birds every day when she wasn’t watching.
One day she opened the back door slowly eyeing what was on the deck. She went over to it closely looking at it. Was it a moth or a butterfly? Its wings were upright against the deck and she remembered moths spread them flat out against the surface when resting while butterflies folded their wings together. It was missing a leg but still had both antennas. She held it gently in her hand and showed it to me.
She moved it to a safe place, first by the Bird of Paradise bush. Then to the Ixora that hadn’t been planted yet and was still in its growing pot. The butterfly moved from leaf to leaf each day. Finally, it moved to the bottom of the plastic tub and yet it moved around there too. The next night, the temperatures dropped below freezing. She wanted to save that butterfly but didn’t quite know how or what to do. We checked the butterfly each morning and it was still alive. Then one morning it just spread its wings and flew away.
We settled into a routine of great food, treats and lots of snuggling and love. We walked on the beach every day, in the morning and again just before sunset. We watched movies together on the couch, sitting side by side. Sometimes I lay across her legs or with my head in her lap.
I loved breakfast and dinner with treats in-between. Weekend breakfasts were always extra special treats, especially when I got eggs. Cucumbers, chicken, watermelon and sometimes blueberries were my favorites. But I only ate the blueberries if they were sweet. Otherwise I spit them out on the floor. She wasn’t pleased about me spitting food on the floor, but she never chastised me.
She got me my own bed, several in fact, but I preferred to sleep with her which she let me. Her bed was big, in fact huge. I could spread out on it, often on an angle. Sometimes I would place my body against hers with my head on the extra pillow.
One day she noticed a small lump on my chest and took me to the doctor. The doctor immediately put me in the hospital and performed surgery to remove the lump. It was cancerous but the doctor had removed all of it. Or so we thought. I began to have shakings as I called them. I never told her about them and did my best to hide them from her.
It wasn’t long before I could no longer hide the shakings. One morning I fell into the pool. She rushed me to the doctor again. He gave me some medicine after several tests. But the seizures, as the doctor called them, started to come on more rapidly and I was scared. She rushed me to the emergency room that night at midnight. Brain tumor the doctor said. Brain tumor, brain tumor, brain tumor; the words echoed repeatedly in my mind. What did it mean?
The doctors gave her some medicine for me to stop the seizures. Only the medicine didn’t work. I got worse and it was a bad time as the sun rose in the morning. We went back to my regular doctor that morning.
Shiloh Morrighan Hultin, a beautiful blue-eyed, cream colored Siberian Husky Shepard, passed away peacefully at 8:36am on January 14, 2019. She was 8 and half years. Lee was at her side holding her gently.
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in a flower wreath
and misty autumnal gauze
among gossamer leafed
bumble bee wings &
chrysanthemum splayed ovaries
I implore mercy to my captor
spreading spinal sin upon
an artificial titanium altar
what?, I questioned
he haunted me , that entity
tourmaline & fire opal eyelets
staring amid the sifted bones
of immortal imposters
these are the Memoirs of the Guillotine.
Eros, strike hollow their hearts!
may the counterfeit
depreciate long after
the sun goes dark
bones ‘neath smoky caskets
planted by the unnamed
reminiscent of the serpented angels
that prepare the holy-feasted funeral
of our unremembered pasts
fight for the future:
fire of the revolution
light the way
language of the soul
we name ourselves “criminals“
in the grimoire
of the 3 cherry moons
we sacrificed our blood, tears...
deep Earth offerings
of abandoned hematite, cyanide,
& dignity for human kind
we animate the damned
we wave our flags
we have become an
army of the revolution
(In flower wreaths and
misty autumnal gauze)
Lisa Calderon has lived all her life in Southern California. She is in the process of relocating to Rockport, Texas
Her shoe had a hole
On the top
The dirt and dust got in
On the ten block walk
Her mother's husband
In a new shirt.
She had no shoes
But he always had something new.
Her mother bought things
With the child support
But never shoes
Never something for her.
At least her mother was home
A beating with a spoon
Than being alone
With her mother's husband.
When she was alone
He was always after her
She would run
Down the street
But the neighborhood was so
She would see her
He was always
Maybe she would go to the school
Maybe they would let her
I lost my dad
here is my poem.
my spiritual soul is lost
I’m lost in this world with no meaning
nothing completes me
I feel lost in my mind my heart my soul
my sadness overwhelms me.
what should I have done differently
did I help my dad enough
I lost my best friend my advocate my hero my dad.
I’m a lost soul in this world.
I value the little things
I cherish the memories I have in my mind of my dad
until I see him again
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Lizbette Ocasio-Russe is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. Her short fiction book, Loverbar, distributed by Flashpoint Publications is now available. More about Loverbar in this section. More about Lizbette at the end of this section.
The characters from Passing, Vejigantes, and One Day at a Time can pass as White because of what Catherine Rottenberg calls “the assumption of whiteness” and the concept of race performativity in her article “Passing: Race, Identification, and Desire;” these concepts will be used to analyze the motivations of and extent to which the characters from Passing, Vejigantes, and One Day at a Time pass as White.
The characters pass as White to different degrees, and for some characters security and accruing privilege is more of a priority than for others. For Clare and Irene in the 1920s U.S., security and privilege are paramount, unsurprisingly so considering the One-drop rule and Jim Crow laws in effect at the time. Nonetheless, Clare is willing to risk harm and the loss of her privilege to reconnect with her Black identity.
In Vejigantes, survival and security are also prioritized but more so by Marta than her light-skinned, blue-eyed daughter Clarita whose proximity to whiteness makes her disavowal of it and desire to connect with her blackness less challenging.
Elena from One Day at a Time doesn’t have to prioritize her security the same way Clare, Irene, Marta, and Clarita do because 2017 U.S. society, while still struggling with racism, is more accepting of racial difference than early to mid-twentieth century U.S. society when Passing and Vejigantes take place. Each character’s desire to assimilate whiteness depends on the amount of social pressure they feel and the character’s proximity to whiteness; the time and place each representation of White passing occupies, then, weigh heavily on the amount of social pressure the characters feel.
Passing, Vejigantes, and One Day at a Time can be considered creative criticism that highlight the paradox and negative effects of racist and colonial discourse and call for their The One-drop rule was a racial classification law in the early 20th century that dictated that any trace of black ancestry makes an individual black regardless of whether they have light or dark skin. Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation in the Southern U.S. at the state and local level. These laws contributed to the racist and colonial discourse that was already present and continues to be prevalent in the U.S. audience to reject the historically dominant, White, heteropatriarchal ideology which thrives on racist and colonial discourse.
According to author and scholar Dr. Manuel Martínez, creative criticism refers to fictional narratives that provide accurate sociopolitical representations and poignant critiques of the time and conflicts the narratives engage. Passing, Vejigantes, and One Day at a Time criticize the practice of White passing and paint it as a shameful rejection of the practicing subject’s heritage through captivating narratives that successfully communicate the emotional experience of the characters, racialized “Others” navigating U.S. society. Therefore, these socio-politically accurate and emotionally moving fictional narratives employ creative criticism to encourage the “Other” to embrace their racial heritage and decolonize their perspective.
(Mabel must decide whether to accept a teaching assistantship in the US and leave her girlfriend, Lisandra.)
She reads the words again making sure she didn’t imagine them.
“We’re pleased to offer you a Teaching Assistantship for the 2019-2020 academic year starting September 1, 2019—”
Mabel twirls her ponytail with her left hand while staring at the acceptance letter on the computer screen. When she got accepted into the Public Policy and Administration Doctoral Program in the U.S., she swore she wouldn’t accept unless she got financial assistance. She doesn’t need any more debt.
Mabel waited all day to read the letter when she got the notification. Sitting on her bed in the dead of night, she logged into the university portal with shaking hands. “We’re pleased—” Mabel cried reading the words.
Now, rereading the letter, Mabel wants to cry again. She sighs, shuts off the computer, and walks to the window of her studio apartment. Her mother thought the place too small, but after three years, Mabel still believes the view is worth the lack of space. Waking up and seeing the beach in the distance is priceless. There are also the pelicans she’s grown fond of seeing perched on the tree tops right outside her apartment. She’d miss them.
Mabel’s phone buzzes, it’s a text from Lisandra.
“Hey beautiful, I’ll be visiting you at work today after the protest. Te amo.”
Mabel’s smiles, warmth filling her body. She goes to type a response, but stops, frowns, and puts the phone down. What would Lisandra say? She’d be happy, of course, and urge Mabel to accept the assistantship that will allow her to pursue her doctoral studies free of charge on the U.S. mainland. Out there, her academic career wouldn’t be delayed due to constant power outages and incessant student strikes, but she would have to leave the island, her life, her home. Mabel leans on the windowsill and runs both hands through her curly, brown hair. This has been Mabel’s dream since she was a young undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras. But what about Lisandra? Long distance is a fool’s game, she knew from experience. Her and Norma had a nasty falling out a few years ago.
Norma was older than Mabel; she finished her bachelor’s degree a year before her. The second Norma was out of school, she got an offer to work with her uncle in Pennsylvania, and the salary and benefits she’d receive there are much more impressive than what she could hope to receive on the bankrupt island. Mabel was happy for her, and for a second believed they could make it work, but after a few months of being separated, things started to change. Norma wouldn’t answer the phone because she was ‘busy,’ and eventually, they were down to one unenthusiastic conversation a week. Mabel confronted her about it, desperate to save what they once had, but Norma didn’t seem to think it was worth saving. Norma wanted to focus on her new life. Now, they aren’t even friends on social media. That, however, is Mabel’s doing. It hurt too much to see Norma enjoying herself while Mabel nursed a breakup. She didn’t want her relationship with Lisandra to end up like that.
The wind blows carrying its salty seaside scent into Mabel’s nostrils. She breathes it in and looks at her phone. It’s 11:00 am, if she doesn’t get going, she’ll be late for her shift.
Xavi is already there when she arrives. Although there technically isn’t a manager at JFusion, everyone knows it’s Xavi. That place can’t run without him.
“Buenos días, baby boo.” Xavi smiles, as he polishes glasses behind the bar.
Mabel returns the smile. “What’s up, buttercup?”
They met at one of Lola Love’s drag shows before the protests against the governor, before Hurricane María, before everything went to shit. At least that jerk Navarro is out of office now.
“It’s supposed to get busy later today. A few of the bars on San Sebastián street are throwing parties to celebrate Navarro resigning.”
“Hooray for tips but screw the traffic we’re going to have to deal with.”
Xavi chuckles. “We can always have a drink at Douglas’ until it dies down.”
“You read my mind.”
Mabel puts her apron on and joins Xavi behind the bar.
“What do you need?”
“Can you make sure the miso and salad are ready in the back? I don’t want a repeat of the February Friday Night Fiasco.”
That was easily the worst dinner service they had ever had thanks to Gian Carlos’ lazy ass. Anytime he was on shift, something went wrong.
“I got you,” Mabel says, heading to the kitchen.
Pedro, the head cook, is busy prepping. The smell of sofrito, finely chopped onions, garlic, and pepper, make Mabel’s mouth water. It doesn’t matter that this is a Japanese and Chinese fusion restaurant, Pedro always cooks with sofrito, so Puerto Rican. The owner, Kiko, always gets onto him about it, but never makes him stop. Secretly, Kiko knows that’s why people love the food so much.
“Belleza, buenos días,” Pedro says while slicing some onions. “¿Estás ready? I’m told we’re going to get swamped today.”
“You know me, I was born ready.”
Pedro smiles. Despite his three missing teeth, Mabel always sees him around town with a lady on his arm.
“That’s why you’re my favorite. Don’t tell Xavi I said that.”
“Your secret is safe with me.” Mabel walks over to where they keep the soups and salads. They’re good on salads, but they’re running low on miso.
“Need some help with the miso?”
“Si, por favor.”
Mabel grabs the miso paste, vegetable broth, onion, tofu, and mushrooms and gets to work.
“Pedro, if you had the chance to be head chef at a really nice restaurant in the States, would you go?”
“Depende, depends. How much am I making?”
“Much more than you make here.”
“Hmm.” Pedro furrows his thick brow. “I don’t know. I’d have to leave everything and star over. Plus, the ladies love me here. I’m not sure what the gringas would think of me.”
Mabel laughs. She’d miss Pedro.
“What about you?” Pedro fixes his gaze on Mabel.
She looks at Pedro, then refocuses on the half-made soup. “I don’t want to be a chef so—”
“¿Estás chistosa hoy? You got jokes today? Didn’t you apply to some fancy school or something? What if you get in? Will you go?”
Mabel silently stirs the soup before her swirling the miso paste into white spirals.
“Okay, okay. I can take a hint.” Pedro gets back to the onions.
Mabel finishes the miso and covers the tub with the metallic lid that keeps it warm.
“Do you need anything else?”
Pedro looks at Mabel. “No, I’m good.”
Mabel moves to leave the kitchen.
“Mira, for what it’s worth, just because leaving isn’t for me, doesn’t mean it isn’t for you.”
Mabel smiles weakly and leaves the kitchen. Xavi is done with the bar and has moved on to setting the tables.
“What’s with the sour puss today?” Xavi asks without looking up.
He has the rather creepy ability to read a person’s energy without even looking at them.
“Is Pedro hitting on you again?”
Mabel laughs. “No, just thinking.”
Mabel knows what Xavi will say, the same thing Lisandra would say. Would anyone ask her to stay?
“I don’t want to bore you with my existential bullshit. How’s dating been since He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?”
“Ugh, don’t even get me started.”
“Uh-oh, not great?”
“Everyone seems so thirsty, and I’m still traumatized from that jerk-off cheating.”
“I don’t blame you. At least he went to jail for a bit.” Mabel laughs recalling the incident Xavi recounted involving his ex-boyfriend’s insistence that they hike to a beach through private property.
The thought of Xavi, who never works out, running like a bat out of hell from the cops through a mess of sand, palm trees, and vegetation is hilarious.
“True that. Now, I just need the balls to get back out there.”
“If you ever want me to come out with you, I can totally wingman. Plus, a little moral support and backup are always good.”
Xavi smiles. “I’m going to take you up on that.”
“Now, back to you. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about your sour puss. What’s going on?”
Xavi never skips a beat.
“Bueno, yesterday I got—”
A table of two women saunters into the restaurant dressed and ready to party. The women have fresh blowouts, mini dresses, and what Mabel calls ‘fuck me’ heels. They must be celebrating something.
“Buenas, take a seat anywhere you’d like,” Mabel says.
Xavi sighs. “This conversation isn’t over, young lady.”
Mabel sticks her tongue out and heads to the duo’s table.
“Hey, can I get you guys something to drink? Maybe a little mojito to get the party juices flowing?”
The ladies giggle. It’s this type of charm that makes Mabel a successful waitress.
“Yes, girl, you know what’s up,” one of the women say.
“You got it.” Mabel heads to the bar where Xavi already has two mojito glasses prepped.
“You’re welcome.” Xavi winks at her.
“You’re such an eavesdropper.”
“It’s called anticipation and attention to detail. You should try it sometime.”
“Oh, is that so?” Mabel pinches Xavi, making him jump.
“Stop it!” He slaps her hand away trying not to laugh. “So unprofessional.”
“You know you love me.” Mabel gets to work muddling mint leaves, lime wedges, and sugar in the glasses.
“And I haven’t forgotten. What’s on your mind that you’re working so hard to keep from me?”
“Remember that public policy program I applied to?”
“Of course. What happened? You didn’t get in?”
“Actually, it’s the opposite. I got in, and I got the assistantship. My tuition will be paid for if I accept.”
“What? That’s incredible. Congratulations.”
He swiftly takes Mabel in his arms and twirls her around. She struggles in protest making Xavi release her.
“But you’re not happy about it. What the hell, Mabel?”
“What about Lisandra? My life here?”
“What about your dreams and how much you could do with that doctoral degree?”
Mabel rolls her eyes, grabs the completed mojitos, and heads to the table.
The ladies accept the drinks with smiles and promptly place their order, Chef Sushi Special for two.
“Ready for the weekend?” Mabel asks one of the women.
“That obvious, huh?”
“The blowouts gave you away.” Mabel winks.
The ladies giggle at Mabel’s flirtation.
“We’re celebrating Tamara getting a dope position at a firm in D.C. So, if you could bring a celebratory brownie at the end, that would be great.”
Tamara smiles. “You don’t need to tell everyone we meet today, Carol.”
“Yes, I do. I’m proud of you. It’s not like you could get a job here. Plus, you’re going to be working with immigrants. Speaking up for the little guy, and that shit is fucking heroic.” Carol hugs Tamara whose cheeks flush.
“That’s awesome, congratulations,” Mabel says, forcing a smile and tapping her pen to the notepad she uses to take orders. “Think you’ll ever come back?”
Tamara thinks for a minute. “I’d like to, but I don’t see why I would. There’s nothing for me here career wise.”
“Enjoy those mojitos, and I’ll be back soon with that sushi.”
Mabel quickly walks into the bathroom and locks the door. She goes to a stall, unzips her black work pants, and forces them down her curvaceous legs until they’re at her ankles. Down go the undies, and she takes a seat. She stares at her undies; it’s the Flash-themed pair Lisandra gave her for Valentine’s Day. Lisandra still hadn’t texted her back. She replies with ‘Okay. See you later, te amo’ and puts the phone away, quickly quelling the temptation to tell Lisandra everything over text. Textual impulsivity never helped anyone. No, this is an in-person conversation. Not that Mabel had any doubt about what Lisandra will say.
Could Mabel be one of those people that gives up everything for their goals? It’s not like she’d be gone forever. She’d come back, she always told herself. Once she got the Ph.D., she’d come back at put it to use bettering the sociopolitical conditions on the island, if she could find a position. All the budget cuts and the political climate are very disheartening, it’s no wonder people are leaving in droves.
A knock on the door makes Mabel jump.
“Yeah, sorry, coming.”
She quickly finishes her business, washes her hands and face, and unlocks the door. It’s Xavi.
“Are you okay? I’m sorry if I came on too strong. I’m just excited for you.”
“I know.” Mabel smiles.
“Lisandra is going to be excited for you too.”
Mabel’s smiles fades. “I know.”
“Well, let future Mabel deal with that. Right now, we have to be ready for the rush.”
Mabel nods and follows Xavi into the dining room.
After Tamara and Carol leave, another pair come in, a man and a woman. It’s Xavi who greets this time.
“Bienvenidos, donde gusten. Take a seat wherever you’d like.”
Xavi walks over and Mabel waits by the bar at the ready. She wants to have their drink order prepped by the time Xavi walks over. She’ll show Xavi anticipation.
“What are we drinking?” Xavi asks with a smile.
“Tienen Gasolina? Do you have Gasolina?”
Xavi stares back at him in silence as if to say, ‘Are you for real?’ With affordable pricing and seven-eleven percent alcohol content, Gasolina is every broke Boricua’s dream, a ready-made cocktail served in a pouch like an adult Capri Sun. It’s not something usually found in ‘nice’ restaurants.
“Disculpa, sorry, but we don’t have Gasolina. How about a house Sangría? They are the Happy-Hour favorite around here.”
The man nods satisfied. Mabel, who has been listening, gets two Sangría glasses out and fills them with fruit and ice.
“How’s that for anticipation?”
Xavi laughs. “Not bad, not bad.”
“Maybe we should start carrying Gasolina.”
“Oh God, please. Kiko can barely handle Pedro’s sofrito. Imagine if we tried to bring that ratchet krunk juice in here. His bougie ass would have a fit.”
After the Gasolina table leaves, three hours pass with no guests.
Mabel and Xavi decide to play Hangman on cocktail napkins while they wait for the supposed rush. Using her vowel-first strategy, Mabel destroys Xavi the first few rounds.
“Whatever, I didn’t stand a chance against you, doctor.”
Mabel squints her eyes and gives him ‘the look.’
“Okay, okay. I won’t say another word until you tell me you’re ready to talk about it.”
They begin another round of Hangman.
“So.” Xavi tries to act casual but fails. “Lisi, is coming by later, right?”
Mabel launches ‘the look’ again.
“Graci is coming with her, that’s why I know.” Xavi manages to repel the accusatory stare.
“Yeah, they should be here once Lisi gets off work.”
Mabel struggles to guess the right letters this round. There’s an ‘a’ and no ‘e.’ What could it be? So many consonants, so little limbs. She shuffles through five-letter words in her head. Scare? Brave? Mabel decides to try ‘r.’
“People will come eat before they start partying. We will get slammed after for sure,” Xavi ensures Mabel whose only concern is guessing the five-letter word.
“I don’t know, Kiko said the same thing during the festival of Las Calles de San Sebastián, and we got a whopping total of five tables that evening.”
The ‘r’ works out for Mabel. Now, what should she guess next?
“Let’s be optimistic. I need the money so I can afford school.”
Mabel finally looks up from the game. She knows how much that degree in event planning means to Xavi and how little his ex supported that dream.
“Okay, the Law of Attraction, right? If we think it and believe it, it will happen.”
“Right.” Xavi forces a smile.
A crowd of chattering people storm by the restaurant, their smiling faces and enthusiastic gestures demonstrating Friday night excitement. So much possibility, so much fun. Xavi and Mabel stand. Maybe all that chattering and excitement made them hungry? They watch longingly as the crowd walks by. Xavi sighs.
“It’s pointless. Let’s face it. No tips tonight.” He plops into a chair.
Mabel sits next to Xavi and shoves the cocktail napkin with their unfinished Hangman game toward him. As they’re about to restart the game, the restaurant door flings open. A gust of wind follows Lisandra and Graci into the restaurant sending a few napkins into the air like white specs in a snow globe. Mabel stares at Lisandra as she makes her entrance. Her cocoa skin, midnight hair, and green eyes always leave Mabel breathless.
“Graci!” Xavi jumps up and runs to Graci who welcomes him with open arms.
Xavi had once told Mabel that he’s inspired by Graci’s ongoing struggle with sobriety. The fact that Graci was still on track to open her bar—yes, you heard the right, bar—made her an OG in his eyes. Graci has unapologetic presence about her that is intoxicating.
“Xavi, how are you? Is Lola ready for her next gig? You know I’m going to want her performing at Loverbar.”
Xavi smiles. “She’s ready. It’s getting her there on time that’s going to be a challenge. When do you open again?”
“Next month if all goes well.”
“That’s so exciting.” Xavi hugs Graci again. “I’m so proud of you, baby.”
“Thanks.” Graci’s eyes water. “I am too.”
“If you need my help with anything, let me know.” Xavi puts a hand to his heart. “I got you.”
“Hey, you.” Lisandra looks at Mabel who’s still sitting with the Hangman cocktail napkin in hand.
Mabel had not stopped staring at Lisandra since she came in.
“Hola.” Mabel smiles and looks down at the floor, her stomach a flutter.
Even after a year of dating, Lisandra still made her jittery. Mabel walks over to Lisandra and kisses her.
“¿Cómo estuvo el trabajo? How was work?”
“Normal, people won’t stop talking about Roselló resigning.” Lisandra shrugs her shoulders.
“Like that will fix anything. We need a complete overhaul of the administration.” Graci shakes her head.
“Come sit down.” Xavi ushers them to a table. “The usual?”
“Yes, please,” Lisandra and Graci respond in unison.
Xavi serves them up some Shirley Temples, virgin, of course. Mabel sits next to Lisandra and listens as her love and Graci continue discussing the extensive corruption of the Puerto Rican and U.S. administrations. Mabel found Lisandra’s revolutionary spirit very hot. Every time she speaks of independence and overthrowing the government, Mabel is overwhelmed by the desire to jump her bones. Mabel often wonders if her ambition of acquiring her Ph.D. in the states bothers Lisandra. After all, according to her, the U.S. administrations had a massive role in landing Puerto Rico in debt. Does running to the states for better opportunities make Mabel a traitor in Lisandra’s eyes?
Lisandra’s passion for politics and social justice is what drew Mabel to her in the first place. It all started a year ago when Mabel decided to attend a boycott at the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras. Students were protesting a raise in tuition as well the cancellation of various degree programs. Lisandra was one of the speakers, that student behind the megaphone firing up the crowd demanding justice. Mabel was entranced. It didn’t take her long to decide that she would introduce herself after the boycott and invite Lisandra out for some coffee.
“I love what you said today?” Mabel said, latte in hand.
“Thanks, and thanks for coming.” Lisandra sipped her black coffee.
“Do you think the administration will listen, or is education doomed to a steady decline? Not to be a pessimist.”
“Oh, no.” Lisandra gently touched Mabel’s thigh. “It’s a fair question to ask.” Lisandra sat back in her chair and sighed. “I’m not sure they’ll ever listen, but we have to keep trying. That’s the only way change will come.”
Mabel and Lisandra sipped their beverages.
“What do you think it will take? You know, for them to listen.”
Lisandra thought for a moment. “Self-determination, and a complete overhaul of the administration.”
Mabel nodded. “I couldn’t agree more.”
“Now we just have to make it happen, but that’s a tall-ass order.”
“If you’re on the case, there’s definitely hope,” Mabel said, winking.
Lisandra’s cheeks turned red.
Mabel smiles at the memory, wishing she could go back to that day, that beginning. After Graci and Lisandra down an appetizer, Xavi invites Graci out for a quick cigarette. He locks eyes with Mabel, as he heads out the door. This time it’s Xavi that gives her ‘the look.’
“What’s up with you?” Lisandra says, taking advantage of the fact that they’re alone.
“You’re acting weird, distant.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to apologize.” Lisandra smiles and strokes Mabel’s cheek. “Just tell me what’s up.”
Mabel places her hand on top of Lisandra’s.
“I got the assistantship.” Mabel’s heart pounds away in her chest.
Surely, Lisandra can hear it. Lisandra’s eyes widen and well up until tears threaten to spill over. She throws her arms around Mabel and squeezes.
“I’m so proud of you.” Lisandra whispers. “Y—you have to go.”
Mabel feels Lisandra’s body tremble softly.
“What about us, our plans?” Mabel’s voice shakes. “Changing the island together?”
“It’s not like you won’t come back, and we can handle a bit of distance.” Lisandra takes Mabel’s hands in hers. “Plus, a fancy Ph.D. in public policy will help our plans to change things here.”
Lisandra smiles, but Mabel doesn’t buy it.
“I told you about my experience with long distance.” Mabel drops her gaze. “I don’t want—”
Lisandra places a hand on Mabel cheek and gently raises her face so their eyes can meet.
“Don’t think like that. I’m not Norma.”
“I-I just don’t know.”
Mabel falls into Lisandra’s arms, and they hold each other in silence.
“Get a room,” Graci jokes, as her and Xavi come back inside form their cigarette break.
Mabel and Lisandra release and Graci must see[SC1] their faces glistening with tears.
“Is everything okay?”
“Mabel got the assistantship. Our baby is Ph.D. bound.” Lisandra wipes away the evidence of her true feelings.
“Oh, my goddess.” Graci walks over to Mabel and claps her on the back. “Well done, kid. I guess I’ll need to find some other hottie to sling the drinks at Loverbar.”
Lisandra and Graci leave promptly after they finish their meal. Both have work early in the morning, and Mabel’s shift isn’t over until 10:00 pm. The rest of dinner service proves slow, just as Mabel predicted. Not because there weren’t people in Old San Juan, they just weren’t in the mood for Chinese/Japanese fusion, apparently.
“Let me take you out for a drink to celebrate,” Xavi says.
“There isn’t much to celebrate, but what the hell.”
“Then we can drink our sorrows away together.” Xavi takes Mabel’s arm and ushers her out of JFusion.
Douglas’ has the usual suspects lingering around the bar. They are all very fascinated by a bachelorette party with six very drunk females in stilettos and short, tight dresses. Sashes droop from their bare, sweaty shoulders, and much to the delight of the bar’s straight, male customers, their skirts rode up with every hip swivel and shoulder shake. Their favorite bartender, Ceviche, is on duty.
“Wepa, mi gente, my people, how is life treating you?” Ceviche’s energy is contagious, and Mabel can’t help but smile.
“Significantly worse than it was treating me last week, Ceviche.” Mabel takes a seat at the bar and gestures for Xavi to do the same.
“You’re still breathing, right? God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.” Ceviche smiles while he whips up some grapefruit vodkas.
“I’ve never been partial to your god,” Mabel makes quotation marks with her hands. “But I suppose he can’t be that bad if he made you.” Mabel winks.
“You’re too good to me, Mabelita.” Ceviche serves them the grapefruit vodkas.
One of the bachelorettes drapes herself over the bar.
“B—bartender, a round of tequila shots, please.” Emphasis on the ‘ease.’
“Good luck with that mess.” Xavi nods toward the bachelorettes.
Ceviche winks and goes on his way.
“Permission to speak about the assistantship?” Xavi asks and takes a sip of his drink.
Mabel nods and sips her vodka grapefruit as well.
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“Just make sure you don’t bail because you’re scared.”
Mabel takes another swig of the grapefruit vodka. She appreciates that Ceviche went heavy on the vodka.
“If you stay for Lisandra, your family, your life, fine. I get it. But don’t use that as an excuse to stay because your scared. That’s all I’m saying.”
Mabel wants to assure him she’s not scared, that staying is all about Lisandra and home, but she can’t. She chugs her drink.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have—”
“No, it’s okay.” Mabel relaxes her shoulders and rolls her neck around. “Tienes razón, you’re right.”
Xavi rubs her back and finishes his drink. They’re both empty, and Ceviche is still dealing with the bachelorettes. The one draped over the bar suggestively rubs his arm. Meanwhile, her friends giggle and not-so-subtlety whisper “get him, blowjob queen.”
“I’ll tell you who should be scared,” Mabel gestures toward the shameless flirting at the other end of the bar. “Ceviche. That bitch is thirsty.”
Ceviche looks at Mabel and Xavi with eyes that say, ‘help me.’ They laugh and shrug their shoulders.
“I’m going to pee, be right back.”
Mabel gets up and makes her way up the spiral staircase that leads to the second floor of the bar where the bathrooms and pool tables are housed. Carefully, she follows the steps up. Many a fool has slipped and busted their butt on these stairs including Mabel. As the night progresses in Douglas’, the regulars always turn to watch when people go up and down the stairs. A resounding ‘ohhhh’ permeates the bar every time someone falls victim to the slippery stairs.
Mabel makes it up without incident which means she’s not nearly as tipsy as she wants to be. So many potential tears in the horizon. Thinking about goodbyes makes her stomach hurt. Luckily, there are not many people upstairs, the pool tables are empty, and there isn’t a line of ladies clenching their thighs desperate for a stall.
Sitting on the toilet, Mabel checks her phone. No messages. Lisandra must be asleep. She hopes she’s okay and not reeling over the news. Mabel types a message: Don’t you want me to stay? Her finger hovers over the ‘send’ button. Someone enters the bathroom with a loud stumble. It must be one of the blitzed bachelorettes. Mabel erases the message and finishes up in the stall. It’s the one that was hitting on Ceviche. The bachelorette attempts to fix her hair and make-up in front of the mirror. She sways on her heels while digging through her purse. The purse falls spilling contents all over the bathroom floor. Lipstick, condoms, powder, keys, gum, napkins.
“Crap,” the bachelorette mutters, as she squats down.
Unable to maintain her balance, she falls. Mabel hurries over and gathers the spilled contents of the purse. Then, she helps the bachelorette up.
“Thanks, you’re really n—nice.” The bachelorette hiccups. “Most w—women are bitches to me.”
“Maybe you’re hanging with the wrong women.”
The bachelorette is quiet for a second then laughs. “You’re blunt. I bet women hate you too.”
Mabel chuckles. “Not exactly.”
The bachelorette steadies herself and extends a hand. “I’m Susana.”
They shake hands. Susana looks Mabel up and down.
“Did you g—get off work or something.” She hiccups. “Cuz this,” she points at Mabel’s outfit, “does not read like going-out attire.”
Mabel laughs and washes her hands.
“Looks like you’re pretty blunt too. I see why you have trouble with the ladies.”
Susana frowns. “I’m sorry, that was so r—rude.”
“No, it was honest. Is it you getting married?” Mabel tries to calm her curls which have been frizzed out by the humidity.
Susana guffaws throwing her long, blonde hair back.
“Hell no. Not my bag.” Susana slurs her words. “What about you?” She points a wobbly finger at Mabel. “Do you have a special someone?”
“Yes, but I may have to leave her.” The sadness from before remerges.
First in her mind, then it spreads and spreads through her body like a virus.
“That sucks. Why?” Susana wipes at the mascara melting down her face.
“To get my Ph.D.”
“Whoa. Soon-to-be Doctor Mabel. That’s awesome.”
“I don’t know if I’m going.”
“Oh.” Susana messes with her crooked Bride Tribe sash.
Mabel sighs, looks at the floor, and prepares herself for the look of bewilderment and the encouragement not to let anything stand in the way of her dreams. Even strangers can’t wait to tell her what’s best.
“Let me guess. I’m crazy for not diving into this opportunity headfirst.”
“Huh?” Susana looks up from her sash which is still crooked. “Oh, not really. I get it.”
Mabel looks at Susana, her eyebrows raised. “You do?”
“Sure.” Susana stumbles toward Mabel. “People always try to tell me what to do. Don’t do another shot, don’t sleep with someone you just met, eat breakfast, ugh. It’s like, shut up and let me be me, you know?”
Mabel nods and readies herself in case Susana falls over again. Susana places a heavy hand on Mabel’s shoulder and tries to make her face look serious.
“Listen,” Susana hiccups. “I’m going to give you some m—million-dollar advice.”
Mabel leans in, ready. Susana hiccups again making Mabel jump. Susana laughs, Mabel rolls her eyes.
“Sorry, sorry. Okay, here it is for real.” Susana gets closer. “Do whatever you want.”
Susana disengages from Mabel, takes another look in the mirror, finally manages to straighten her sash, and heads to the door. She stops and turns before exiting.
“Look, it’s easy. I want another shot.” She hiccups. “What does Dr. Mabel want?”
Susana exits the restroom leaving Mabel in the same position by the mirror. Mabel looks at herself then takes her phone out of her bag. She pulls up the acceptance letter and reads over the words again.
“We’re pleased to offer you a Teaching Assistantship for the 2019-2020 academic year —”
Mabel smiles, puts the phone back in her bag, and leaves. She makes her way to that treacherous spiral staircase and begins her descent. Carefully, she takes it one step at a time. The regulars perched at the bar watch, wait for her to slip, but she doesn’t. She makes it all the way down sans incident.
Mabel creeps up on Xavi who is waiting at the bar with two, new drinks. She taps his shoulder, making him jump.
“¡Ay, santo! Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” Xavi places a hand on his chest.
Mabel throws her head back and laughs, long and deep. A new sort of relaxed energy permeates her body. She sits down, grabs the new drink Xavi has waiting for her, and raises it like an offering to Ceviche’s god.
“To doing whatever we want.”
“I can get behind that.” Xavi raises his glass. “To doing whatever we want.”
“Salud, cheers,” they say in unison, clink, and take a drink.
This collection of short stories follows a group of queer Puerto Rican characters as they navigate post-Hurricane María life on the island. The characters fight to improve the island’s sociopolitical hellscape while dealing with personal problems such as addiction, toxic family, and transphobic violence. Amidst the chaos, the characters work to open a queer-friendly bar, Loverbar, a safe space for all.
The opening story, “Hurricane Karen”, places us in San Juan Puerto Rico the day before Hurricane Maria hits. It follows Graci, a struggling addict with plans to open her own business, as she tries to fulfill her work obligations, save face with her friends, and prepare for the impending storm while the voice of self-deprecation in her head, Karen, continuously beats her down.
“That Was Then This is Now”, a follow up to Hurricane Karen, sees Graci fight to stay sober in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Temptations arise as Graci organizes and plans a communal meal with her friends for those affected by the hurricane. When the itch becomes too much, Graci must choose between asking for helping and ensuring her dream of opening a business or succumbing to her addiction.
The third story, “Pinky’s Box”, changes the focus to Pinky, a transwoman who is excited about volunteering with the mayor of San Juan packing boxes of emergency supplies to aid the victims of Hurricane Maria. The experience and the mayor of San Juan are not what Pinky expect and tensions rise when Pinky notices the emergency supplies are not being shipped out.
“Gassed in Drag” follows Pinky and her friend Valeria as they participate in a demonstration protesting the governor of Puerto Rico,. The protest goes from peaceful to menacing and the crowd is eventually tear gassed by anxious policemen. Pinky loses Valeria in the mess and must navigate to safety alone.
In “Private Property,” Xavi agrees to a beach day with his boyfriend, Eduardo, in hopes of salvaging their deteriorating relationship. When they realize they must cross private property to reach the beach, Eduardo, furious at the increasing privatization of land by non-Puerto Rican entities, insists it’s their right continue. A hesitant Xavi complies only to make a startling discovery about Eduardo. When they are spotted by security, Xavi must decide whether to stick with Eduardo or save himself.
In “Stayin’ Alive”, transman Sammy must attend his grandmother’s birthday on the day of an important queer demonstration protesting the governor or Puerto Rico even though his grandmother refuses to accept his queer self. He manages to attend both events but not without a few mishaps. His father, while accepting of Sammy, has not been sufficiently supportive in the face of familial criticism and when his mother and Sammy finally collide, he must choose whether to please his aging mother or openly support his son.
“Rhythmic Resistance” brings us back to Valeria and Pinky. This time, Valeria is the focus, as she tries to navigate meeting men on a transphobic island. Valeria and Pinky attend a dance protest during which the governor of Puerto Rico finally decides to address the people. Valeria meets up with a new suitor at the protest and things turn violent when Valeria’s truth is revealed.
In “Slow Service,” Mabel must decide whether she’ll stay in Puerto Rico with her loved ones or accept a teaching assistantship in the US that would allow her to pursue her passion, a doctoral degree in public policy and administration; this would mean leaving her serious girlfriend, Lisandra, behind. Mabel seeks guidance from her close friends and partner, but it’s not until she has an unexpected late-night interaction that she realizes what she must do.
“The Show Must Go On” is about Lola Love and her fight to find employment and keep her family afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. She comes up with a plan to make some money, but her mother is not supportive of Lola’s methods. Lola moves forward with her plan and, in the end, must confront her mother.
In “Casi Casi”, Graci returns in chapter eight. At this point, she has managed to get her business, Loverbar, ready to open. On her way home one night, Graci is assaulted and robbed of the rent money for the bar; losing the rent could delay the opening of Loverbar and leave Graci and her friends/employees in financial crisis. Karen comes back in full force as Graci tries to deal with the assault and robbery on her own.
In the epilogue, we see that Graci ultimately succeeds in remaining sober and making Loverbar a success where the rest of the protagonists end up working to some capacity.
Lizbette Ocasio-Russe is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. Lizbette completed her Ph.D. in Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas, her MA in English Literature from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, and her BA in Journalism and minor in Creative Writing from New York University. She’s been published in Confluence: Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies, Flash Fiction Magazine, eTropic electronic journal of studies in the tropics, postScriptum: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Literary Studies, Poui: The Cavehill Journal of Creative Writing, Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters, and Tonguas: Student Literary and Artistic Expression Journal. Lizbette’s short fiction story “Texarican” will be featured in the forthcoming edition of Writing Texas, and her short fiction book, Loverbar, comes out June 1st, distributed by Flashpoint Publications.
Sister Lou Ella is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and new verse news as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannnan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.)
rowing words into poems
like a boat on water
the page wakens
after a poetry reading
i was asked today where my poems come from
Read the rest in Corpus Christi Writers 2019
Lizz Fraga Cosgrove has a BA in English from UT Austin. Her adventures this lifetime include being a teacher, a paralegal, an event decorator, a writer, a wife, a mother, a caregiver but most importantly a Light Seeker.
I’m running late again…
My morning writing, that attempted to become my afternoon writing,
has manifested itself into my evening writing.
I don’t ever desire to be late…
I don’t ever take pride in being late…
But I do take ownership of the relationship I have with Late.
Late and I are very familiar, comfortable companions – sometimes I follow her around, sometimes she follows me - but no matter who is trailing whom, we always seem to be no more than an arm’s length from one another.
Sometimes Late is my enemy – on my wedding day she showed up, uninvited, in the form of me trying to get myself, the bride, and my four young daughters, the bridesmaids, dressed and to the ceremony on time.
Sometimes Late is my best friend – the day of my mother’s funeral she showed up as a mourning dove who had somehow made her way into my home, into my mother’s bedroom and perched herself on the headboard of my mother’s bed – the bed in which she took her last breath…
She forced me to forget about the schedule to be met that day and allowed me to stare into her eyes and remember how much my mother loved feeding the birds in our yard – those days when time didn’t matter and Late was always welcome.
Somehow when you know the time is limited…
when you know each day is a gift…
when you pray for every hour to feel like an eternity…
You also pray for Death to be best friends with Late.
Read more great writing like this in Corpus Christi Writers 2019
Lucas Diercouff was born in Denver, Colorado. He was a Combat Medic with the U.S. Army with tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Shortly after, he attended New York Film Academy in Burbank, CA where he received a BFA in Filmmaking. He is a member of the Veterans in Media and Entertainment and alumni of the WGF's Veteran Writing Project. His first short film 'Strawberry Barbara' screened at LA Shorts Fest and he has been involved in film productions ever since. His writing has been recognized in the UK Film Festival, BlueCat, and ISA's Emerging Screenwriters competitions. While his focus has largely been screenwriting, he is eyeing a novel and making Texas his home for the foreseeable future.
HARVEY TATE REPORTING: “This footage can give you…the heebie-jeebies! The Gulf of Mexico has RECEDED approximately one hundred feet from the shore! As you can see from this home video, it happened almost instantly. Like a drain pulled from a bathtub! What COULD have possibly caused this? What does this mean for the WORLD? When we receive more information we will pass that along. Wait. Are you kidding me? Is that a surfer?”
Read the rest in Corpus Christi Writers 2019
Nikki Ikonomopoulos works as an artist, web/graphic designer and writer throughout the South Texas Coastal Bend. Her love of nature shows through the multiple roles she takes on in life. As an artist she works in many mediums including painting, drawing, sculpture, mosaic and more. Her art works including murals, portraits, ink drawings and online store can be viewed at www.alphaomegaart.com. Nikki also operates online resource guides local to South Texas which can be viewed at www.coastalbendattractions.com. After the impacts from Hurricane Harvey she launched a FREE booklet published bi-annually which can be viewed online at www.portaransaswildlife.com or picked up in one of several locations through out the South Texas Coastal Bend. Some of the profits from that book are donated to benefit local organizations that help protect wildlife. As a creative soul she loves the natural beauty that inspires life.
Whispering wind screaming so loud, calling your promises throughout the deaf crowd.
Listen close & hear the sound, your feet will plant firmly into the ground.
Read the rest in Corpus Christi Writers 2019
Lisa Mason is the author of Summer of Love as well as other work
On July 4, 1980, my neighbors and I decided to throw a big bash for Independence Day. We each had a nice one-bedroom penthouse apartment atop a lovely building in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. We each had a good view of the City. There was a wide hall separating our apartments. We each opened our doors and invited party guests to roam between our apartments.
Probably two hundred people showed up. I sequestered Sita, my Siamese girl-cat at the time, in my bedroom with a big sign—“Cat Inside! Do Not Open!” People respected that.
Otherwise, people cleaned out my kitchen of food and booze. My father (of all people) advised me to keep bottles of whiskey, vodka, and gin to serve guests. I’ve never drunk hard booze—still don’t now, I drink my Zevia tonic straight up—but I followed his advice. The party guests cleaned me out, as well as the cookies and the cheeses.
I didn’t mind. It was a fantastic party. No one stole my art books, but I saw one man seated cross-legged on the floor poring over my big hardcover, American Indian Art. When he was done looking, he carefully put the book back on my bookshelf.
I had another book placed on my coffee table, a book I was really excited about—The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav and illustrated by Tom Robinson. The book combined Eastern philosophy and quantum physics and was written with so much wit and clarity, it was a big bestseller.
Around midnight in walked a tall, lanky, red-haired man who was invited by a friend of a friend. He’d traveled across town from the San Francisco neighborhood of North Beach. The friend of a friend called him from my neighbor’s apartment, imploring him to come.
He was Tom Robinson, the illustrator of The Dancing Wu Li Masters. Quantum physics and synchronicity in real life!
We had our first date a week later, on July 11, and married on July 7—not in the same year!
Shortly after July 11, 1980, I moved to an apartment on Telegraph Hill in the North Beach neighborhood with a view of the Bay Bridge (“Viewtiful,” as the late, great Herb Caen used to write). Gary Zukav lived in an apartment a block up Montgomery Street. I met Gary at the Puccini Café later that week. My parents were appalled at how much the apartment’s rent was—then, I believe, $500, now $3,000—but I could walk five blocks to my law book publisher downtown.
Tom had an enormous art studio on Broadway, two blocks away from the apartment. So we could easily walk there, too.
When my publisher moved to the East Bay, we moved with it so I could walk to the office again. I only lived five years in North Beach and I was working a full-time job and working on my writing at night and on weekends. Sadly, I didn’t get to fully engage in the community but gladly I wrote the story “Arachne” there, which sold to Ellen Datlow for OMNI Magazine while I lived in North Beach and was published while I lived in my spacious new East Bay residence.
So it will be 41 years since we first met. Happy Anniversary, Tom