Igneous (II) by Yakari Rosales

Igneous (II)
Yakari Rosales

I once spent time inside
a volcano.

The lava seeped into
my pores
until I too became
anticipating an eruption,
feeling the overwhelming
pressure sitting atop my shoulders
while the angry heat
became suffocating.

And then it happened
after the tension in my body
had stretched me thin.

I exploded—
but it wasn’t a disaster.

I had released the weight
on my chest that made it hard
to breathe while the
magma in my blood cooled
and although it was unnerving,
my whole landscape changed.

I am living in the
igneous aftermath.

Yakari is a queer Latinx makeup artist who loves flowers and watching sunsets with warm people.

Igneous (I) by Yakari Rosales

Igneous (I)
Yakari Rosales

“All great changes
are preceded by chaos.”
– Deepak Chopra

All that once was no longer exists;

the surroundings in my life have become volcanic
and I am arrested by the intensity.

Inside I am teeming with magma,
pressure building,
but escape from the all-consuming heat
is not an option.

I keep waiting for the eruption,
the final stage of this natural disaster,
yet the flow cannot be disrupted.

My environment will have to transform on its own,
creating solid realities
that originate from intrusive thinking.

I have to allow elements to fully crystallize
so that I can unearth clarity.

Yakari is a queer Latinx makeup artist who loves flowers and watching sunsets with warm people.


Jack and the First Day by Delwood Cavenaugh

Jack and the First Day
Delwood Cavenaugh


Something from human resources came by my desk in the bullpen. Without a word it removed a legal envelope from the leather messenger bag it was wearing and handed it to me.  On the outside was my name, the words Orientation Package, and a note that I would be tested on the material in one week.  Swell, I dropped out of college for this. I nodded a thank you and it skittered out the door.  It would have looked like a four-foot-tall praying mantis were it not for the colorful plumage.

“Anyway, I started camping because my roommate was an asshole.  Well, maybe he was an asshole or maybe it was just cultural. Moiz seemed to feel that because he was having a girl over the room was his and I should accommodate him.  The problem was that he always had a girl over.”

“And that lead you to becoming the great outdoorsman?” Kelly laughed.  Besides her looks which were curvy and just my type, her laugh was adorable. It was filled with joy, had no trace of irony, and wasn’t the least bit condescending.  It was a nice change. Kelly laughed at my jokes, my last girlfriend laughed at me when I told jokes. Big difference.

“I got tired of sleeping in the TV lounge every night, so on the weekends I packed up and went camping.”

“What about your friends?  Did they come too?” she asked.

“Friends? Yeah, not so much.  I just wasn’t terribly social.  I mean, I ended up hanging out with some other folks who did a movie night once a week, but that was mainly because they held it in the TV lounge.  As I mentioned, I had little choice but to sleep there.”

“So, tell me how you met Ed?” she prodded. Her green eyes sparkled in a way that made me want to tell her anything she asked.

“It all began on the Appalachian Trail.”

The weather was perfect, I’d parked at the north end of the Nantahala National Forest.  It’s a three-day hike, I had a three-day weekend so I planned to hike a day and a half then turn around and come back.

Over the first day or so, I’d met a half a dozen small groups and they were all friendly. One guy I remembered in particular looked like a chemo patient. I’d met him the day before and he was coming past where I’d set up camp.  He looked like he might have been looking for a place to set up camp himself and it was getting near dark so I invited him to share my campsite. This was an established site. There was already a firepit and no burn restrictions that weekend, so I already had a campfire started with some stew cooking over it.

I figured I’d be doing the guy a solid.  Cancer is a bitch. He didn’t have a sprig of hair on him anywhere. I don’t even think he had eyelashes. His eyebrows were penciled on giving him a permanent odd expression. He accepted and put his tent next to mine.  By dark we’re hanging out by the fire eating stew and chatting. He told me he was a corporate insurance adjustor who was taking a break between assignments. He liked to tell stories and was good company so I let him have at it.  They were mostly paranormal stories about stuff that had happened to him so I figured he was probably recovering from brain cancer or maybe it was the chemo drugs. Weird, but what the hell, he didn’t seem dangerous or anything.

It was almost nine thirty when I heard a rockslide nearby.  We’re in the mountains so that kind of thing was likely, though to be fair I’d never experienced one before.  At any rate, he chooses then to start telling me about a creature made of rock that had been seen in the area, then asked me if I’d heard about it.  I hadn’t of course because I’m not crazy and I didn’t hang with the tin foil hat crowd. Usually.

Lo and behold I’m sitting there listening to this obviously crazy cancer person when a twelve-foot-tall stone thing lumbered…well I guess boldered, into the campsite. It was vaguely human shaped, two arms and two legs, but it didn’t have a head or a face.  The bald guy stands up and holds his hands up in the air like he’s being robbed or something while facing the thing.

Me, I’d spent two hours listening to him try to scare me with monster stories so I decided to show him up.  I stand up and say something like, “Greetings friend. And you mean us no harm, you are welcome at our fire.”  I know, cheesy as hell. If I could do it all over again, it wouldn’t have sounded like I was trying to impersonate Gandalf the Wizard.

The old guy turns and looks at me kinda weird, which I thought was odd as he was the one who had surrendered to it.  

Anyway, the rock guy moved over next to the fire and just stood there as still as a stone.  Baldy then suddenly grows a pair because he reached out and touched the thing. Brave or stupid, I don’t know, I might have invited it to the fire but damned if I would have touched it.

And it is here things went sort of off the rails.  The bald guy- Ed, sits down like the rock thing didn’t exist and started asking me a bunch of questions.  Where did I live? Did I have a girlfriend? Where did I grow up? Were my parents alive?

Then he writes my name down, hands me a business card and tells me to call the number about a job interview.  Once he’d done that he packed up his tent and waited by the fire. Eventually the stone guy started flashing this green color.  It looked like someone had dumped a glow stick on him except it pulsed like it was signaling.

Then Ed gets up, pulled out a radio, and tells some lady what he had and to meet them in the nearest parking area.  He shakes my hand, says see ya,” then he and the rock guy walk off together.

“What did you do?” Kelly asked shocked.

“What could I do?  I thought maybe the guy slipped something into my stew and I was tripping balls.  I went to bed. The thing was, the next morning I still had his card, and the print on the ground where the stone man stood was still there.”

“So, you called the number?”

“Not immediately.  I was having a crisis of sanity so the next morning I hightailed it back to the dorm.  When I got there my roomie’s sock was on the knob indicating he was there banging some girl.  I sat by the door for a couple of hours with my backpack. I just wanted to stow my gear. Lo and behold he walks up with some blonde chick.  He sees the sock on the door and just says, Oops.  Not even a ‘dude, I’m so sorry’.  Just an oops followed by a hurry up, we need some alone time.  I put my stuff away, went to the lounge with my sleeping bag and called the number. I’d had enough of his shit.”

“Where did they interview you?”

“Swanky hotel in town.  I didn’t have a suit so I wore my auditioning outfit.  My mom picked out the shirt, she said it brought out my eyes.”

“Auditioning outfit?” Kelly had cocked her head with a curious expression and it was cute too.

“I started school as a theatre student but I couldn’t dance and I wasn’t particularly attractive so I ended up changing majors.”

“What did you change it to?”

“Information systems management.  That lasted about a year when one day in a three hundred level class some girl asked me to turn her computer on for her.  It was then I realized that despite the fancy title I was being trained to be an entry level office worker. I switched to psychology immediately after that.”

“You wanted to be a shrink?”

“Not particularly, but I figured a generic degree like that would give me a lot of options in the real world.  Instead, I dropped out and ended up here.”

“Tell me about your interview.” Kelly said leaning forward with interest.  The front of her button up shirt gaped open revealing some very exciting pale vistas.  Focus Jack, don’t be a pig.  I pried my eyes back up to face level and continued.

When I got to the room there were three people in it, Ed Mathis the cancer patient, some guy with weird contact lenses who introduced himself as Dian Ceit and a guy who dressed like he’d walked off of the set of nineteen eighties Miami Vice. (Kelly laughed at that and I stole a glance down her shirt to see how her laugh looked from there.  I am not a good person.)

I was asked the normal stuff, educational background, where I grew up, my hobbies, my family, if I had any siblings, the usual stuff.  Then the questions got more weird. They were hypothetical ones about meeting people whose language I didn’t speak and stuff.

Ed seemed cool with my answers, Miami Vice didn’t seem too put off, but Dian was unreadable.  Those lenses of his really threw me off, but to my credit I don’t think I stared.

Finally, they said they wanted me to meet someone.  Dian calls out for Melissa and this woman comes out. They asked me to describe her exactly as I saw her.

She was wearing a blue sweater over a sundress, about five and a half feet tall, slim with brown hair and brown eyes.  Oh, and she was surrounded by this black outline with a glowing white corona around it. It reminded me of looking at science videos of an eclipse.  I lay it all out exactly the way I saw it, weird shit and all. Ed seemed to be impressed when I didn’t freak out over the stone man so I played it cool here too.

They asked me a couple of follow up questions, then they asked me to look at her and describe her again.  Holy shit. Right before my eyes the corona drops away and the black outline expands to cover her skin. Her hair just fades away along with all of her facial features.  What’s left was wearing a sweater over a sundress, but it wasn’t remotely human. Its skin -I mean I wasn’t even sure it was a her anymore – reminded me of a dog’s nose.  It was black, didn’t reflect much light at all and had a cobblestone texture well, like the nose of a dog. Her face had two empty holes where eyes went and one the same size where the mouth should have been. I couldn’t see inside, it was simply too dark.  It also lacked a nose.

I don’t think I freaked out too bad.  I didn’t run screaming from the room or anything. I must not have done too bad, they offered me the job and here I am.

“Ed doesn’t really have cancer.  He has an entity that lives on him.  It eats hair and dead skin cells.” Kelly said.

“No shit?”

“It was probably the green light you saw.  When Ed touched the stone looking entity, it moved over to it to make contact and convince it of our good intentions.  We call it Ollie.”

“No shit?” I repeated.

“Also, Dian is an over three-thousand-year-old entity.  He runs the place.”

“No shit?” I repeated again shocked.

The door to the bullpen opened and Ed Mathis walked in with his penciled-on eyebrows. Well that explains that.  He’s a braver man than me. Just eww.

“What have you got for me Tommy?” Ed asked from the back of the room.

Tommy, at his desk up front, took a file off his desk. It turns out Tommy dresses like a fashion model all the time.  Today he’s ditched the linen jacket and silk t-shirt and is wearing something expensive that looks like it was finger-painted by a kindergarten class.  His hair was perfect and to be honest, he was better looking than I could ever hope to be. I’m trying to like him despite this.

“Just outside of Sedalia, Missouri we’ve gotten four different reports of a run-in with a tall thin entity that has been peaking in second story windows and scaring the shit out of people.”

“He’s climbing to the second story to peak in?” Ed asked.

“No, he’s just that tall.” Tommy said.

“Ok.” Ed said taking the folder.  “Come on Jack, we’re going to Missouri.  Beatrix is waiting in the parking lot. If you’re hungry you’d better grab a snack now, she doesn’t allow anyone to eat while inside of her.”

“Wait? Did you just say inside of her?” I asked, confused.

“Beatrix is an entity that can hide in plain sight as a car.” Ed explained.  

“Holy shit.” I mumbled.  A hair eating entity is gross, but an entity that can pose as a car? That’s kinda cool.

“Have fun.” Kelly grinned patting me on the knee.

“See you soon.” I smiled.  I decided right then that I’m going to ask her out when we got back.  Physical contact is supposed to be a good sign.

I got up and taking Ed’s advice stopped by the snack table for a bagel and a bottle of water.  While I was standing there smearing on the cream cheese, Tommy walked up to me and leaned in all conspiratorial like.

He whispered, “It’s my fault, I should have said something earlier, but just so you know, we’ve got a rule against dating other field agents.  I saw you talking to Kelly and I didn’t want you to accidentally faux pas in your first week.”

“Oh…” I said feeling my stomach fall out.  “I had no idea, thanks for telling me before I made a fool of myself.”  Sad trombone. Jack Casteen, pity party of one, no waiting.

“Yeah, good luck in Missouri, man.” he said brightly walking back to his desk.

“Be sure to bring a pen and pad. I’ll be giving you our official Worldwide Habitations cover story on the way.” Ed said to me as I joined him at the door.  “How much do you know about insurance adjusters?”

Not the greatest start of a first day ever.

Delwood lives in the night, silent sentinel of electrons, hope giver to the helpless, and friend to any wayward entities he might happen upon.

noun ya·kari \yä’käɾē\ by Yakari Rosales

noun ya·kari \yä’käɾē\
Yakari Rosales

The uncomfortable introduction to
a class that has known each other
their whole lives—
students that have spent their
18 odd years in a small,
tree laden town

students that for the most part—
no, all—
are white.
and I felt that
twofold there.

Thick southern accents apparent
as they tried to pronounce my name
again and again,
asking me to repeat it thrice more
even when my name turned White
just for them.

I can’t help but notice
that I felt apart—
but I know it was because we had
two different experiences of reality.

My brownness made me a
zoo exhibit for them to
ogle at:

“Oh wow, I didn’t know you could speak Spanish”
as if my clear english negated my ability to
speak in my native tongue

“Say something in Spanish!”
as if they didn’t scorn the rest
of my kin when our words reflect
our homeland

“Where are you from?”
followed by a disappointed
as if my answer didn’t fulfill
the narrative they had already
painted for me.

Years later I recognize their
institutionalized prejudice,
their subtle microaggressions—
it was all innocent,
but comments like that
point to a bigger problem
and I question why I never
got mad.

In a white america,
race makes its presence Known.

People of color reap the damage
and are forced to undo
the dialogue fixed upon us.

“How do you say your name?”

I still don’t pronounce it right.

Yakari is a queer Latinx makeup artist who loves flowers and watching sunsets with warm people.

Soy Una Rosa Aunque A Veces No Lo Veo by Yakari Rosales

Soy Una Rosa Aunque A Veces No Lo Veo
Yakari Rosales

Que te hace feliz?
If you would have asked me
two, three years ago

I would not have been able to respond
because two, three years ago
I had started to wilt and
couldn’t feel past
my hurt;

I felt detached–

Feeling happy was
something I felt
by external factors but
why couldn’t I make
this emotion happen
myself? Why wasn’t I

I’d like to go back
to tell that thorn-hearted girl
that despite the pain
she has to feel–
despite the unanswered
Todo va a cambiar.

She will enter a place
where she will be overwhelmed by
the people in her life that
validate her experiences
alleviate her concerns
and water her roots.

And although she may still have
instances in which she thinks

things will not heal
and the questions will never end,

she has grown
and she will not stop;

Vas a crecer hasta que tu rosa
se convierta en rosal;
se multiplicará en su jardín,
una belleza que crece dentro
de ti.

Remember this:
no te menos precies.

Yakari is a queer Latinx makeup artist who loves flowers and watching sunsets with warm people.

Something I told my car once by Nicholas Smurthwaite

Something I told my car once
Nicholas Smurthwaite

Listen, I am so glad that we have made it this far. When was the first time I felt your interior? The first shocked undulation of acceleration? The propelled recklessness that led us tearing through the empty countryside? Miles had meant nothing then, but now I pay the repercussions of negligence. We both know the effort of restoration is not worth the product. In today’s society, and with life moving so fast, I am just better suited to get a newer model. All I can say is that I am sorry, but we both knew this would never last.

Nicholas Smurthwaite is an English major and a real human being who was born yesterday at the ripe age of 21. He loves his mother very much, and misses his dog, Daisy.

A Eulogy by Nicholas Smurthwaite

A Eulogy given by a preacher having an existential crisis, who didn’t really know the individual, and who believes the person was a watchmaker who really enjoyed puns, when in reality they were neither of the two.
Nicholas Smurthwaite

I believe that I am speaking for the congregation when I say that our dearly deceased was no cog in the machine. Much like their handiwork, I have never known them to be late to anything. We may think they have left us too soon, but the reality is that for them, the timing was perfect. For who are we to suppose the boundaries of time? And who are we to beg for the seconds, clawing for moments we feel have been wasted? For what is it to waste something that does not exist? Yet we beg for more of it as if it were scraps off a table, which an unknown master gently bequeaths them to us with a false hope of prolonging our own starvation? We starve and yet still beg and honor those who have died of starvation with mourning, when in reality we should rejoice in knowing that they no longer must prostrate themselves for these few ample moments that correlate to one assured end. Even a broken clock is right twice a day

Nicholas Smurthwaite is an English major and a real human being who was born yesterday at the ripe age of 21. He loves his mother very much, and misses his dog, Daisy.

Breathing Fire by Asha Gowan

Breathing Fire
Asha Gowan

(Pennsylvania wildfires, south of Pittsburg, March 2017)

I walked a wide circle yesterday
on a Carolina one-way thin road
in worn down sneakers, searched
past gated driveways, through gardens,
and backyard boats, for a place to sit
while striders skipped ripples by the lakeshore.
Mist teasing on the smoky air,
the water is not free, cordoned off
by private property.

The din of a thousand
non-native birds crowded in oak trees.
I stood beneath falling acorns they stirred.
Anguished calls incited the anguishing of another.
Frantic, inconsolable. Crows glided like vultures
in curious vigil above the gathering. Newcomers.
No territory rights, aliens
in no familiar migratory flight,
banished southeast.

Mothers who lost eggs and young
in charred mountain nests of Costa County
were the loudest, cursing all flame
and its burning fangs. They were stitching
the sky to the trees, as one wounded body,
shifting back and forth, crazed
between limbs and wind.

I’m sorry, I whispered,
and as I violated their space
they raised their voices to a fever pitch.
The birds must think we breathe fire.
How dare I disturb their grieving mothers.
The feathered tempest moved to trees
of other houses. And I wrote a letter
with my breath in sparrow-song and sorrow,
back into the darkening west, praying
rain be the forecast.

Asha Gowan writes poetry and fiction, practices visual art and music, and enjoys long quiet walks with nature.