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Western Medicine

I played hard to get.
Said I was strong and independent.
I didn’t need anyone like you to live my life.

You went for the second try.
Only to be denied again.

The third time around, you caught me when I was vulnerable.
Emotions all over the map.

You said, “baby, let me take the wheel, I’ll give you a really sweet deal
I’ll hold your hand so you don’t feel alone
I’ll scare the monsters away in your sleep.”

But now we’re six months in and I’m having second thoughts.

I’m not sure if you’re the one for me.
But I don’t know if I have the courage to tell you.

I get nervous and sweaty at the thought of you not meeting my lips when I wake up.

Who will make me feel pretty?
Who will hush the negative thoughts?
Who will hold me when I have bad dreams?

You support me in so many ways.

But I think it is time to break up.
I think it’s time I find a new love.

They Got U.S. Watching Shadows

Doctors makin’ millions off prescription addictions1, But we got young black weed dealers up in the prisons2. Wall Street fatcats bankrupt our citizens
And we’re all trippin about welfare pittances?

Again and again with that classic misdirection:
“No! Don’t look up towards the true source of oppression!”
Perhaps best represented by that golden-spoon-holdin man, with a hairpiece and a fake tan, But it’s not him! Look instead to where he’s pointing his hand,

Of course poverty isn’t caused by “job-creating” corporations,
Their success is the foundation of our nation!
…Except when you remember they always find ways to evade taxation,
Slip funds into pockets of politicians or ship funds somewhere they can be hidden3,

Oh, and while we’re talkin about offshore shippin,
You know how you lost your job and blamed Jose and Quentin?
Well, those “job-creators” just found a better way to sustain their dollars Than by providing work for all the red, white, and blue collars,

Yeah, they sure are job creators,
Or you could also call them exploiters of third world labor4,
Folks like the Koch brothers are just modern day slavers
And they’re actually part of the reason Joe and Dave can’t get wages,

But you see, Joe and Dave are fixated on the place that the Great Toupee’s finger points, The face of a broke Mexican immigrant who’s workin til he’s creaky in the joints
Just so his family can have something to eat,
And his kids can have some shoes to protect their feet,

We tell them: “GET OUT! STOP TAKING OUR JOBS! WETBACKS!” And while we yell that, we become the Great American Setback, Descending to humanity’s lowest, most miserable state,
Falling from ignorance into outright, blind hate,

And as we carelessly cast blame for complex economic problems we don’t fully understand, The Donald Trumps laugh and laugh, with all the cards right in their hands,
Not a thought to the lives that they’ve undermined,
To them, racism is just a line that—across generations—seems to always rhyme…

And to those of you who’ve fallen victim to this scheme,
Who truly believe your lost job has anything to do with the Latino who moved in up the street, I got one thing to say: You’re a sad, manipulated Plato’s cave denizen,
So far in it that you wouldn’t even get the reference,

And as you follow the notes of your own executioner’s chorus, I’ll shout in dissent, knowing ignorance is porous.


  1.  “Over a five-month period in 2013, doctors received some $380 million in speaking and consulting fees from drug companies and device makers. Some doctors pocketed over half a million dollars each, and others received millions of dollars in royalties from products they had a hand in developing” – from Saving Capitalism by Robert Reich
  2.  “Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana. Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.” – from ACLU.org (https://www.aclu.org/gallery/marijuana-arrests-numbers)
  3. “Federal officials estimate that the government loses between $40 billion and $70 billion a year in unpaid taxes on offshore holdings.” – from a NYT article written by Eric Lipton and Julie Creswell, titled: Panama Papers Show How Rich United States Clients Hid Millions Abroad
  4.  According to a study conducted by Statistic Brain Research Institute, over 2 million American jobs were outsourced to other countries in 2015. 

The Veggie Queen

MORE than candy, ice cream, chocolate cake or cherry pie, the food I desired most as a child was broccoli. At night when my brother and I would sit cross-legged on the brown carpet in front of the T.V., I imagined the cheeseburger on the crunchy plastic wrapper before me was a steaming plate of bright green broccoli, and when I took a bite and happened to crunch down on one of the diced pickles sprinkled throughout the mustard and ketchup, my fantasy almost felt as if it had come true: I was biting down on the hard stem of one of those cute little trees, turning over its bushy top in my mouth, and sending it down my throat to drop delicately into my stomach.

This fantasy of eating something other than food wrapped like a Christmas gift held true for nearly all vegetables during my childhood. Veggies were elusive and magical. They were quiet to the touch unlike the food I was used to, which was always shrouded in a brown, grease-splotched bag. I would only see them—carrots splayed beside cobs of corn and blood red bell peppers, heads of lettuce sliced in two halves and dripping with moisture—on posters at school or billboards by the highway. Sometimes I saw them animated on T.V. and was entranced by their beauty and seeming deliciousness. My eyes grew wide. My mouth started to salivate. Simply to say their name made me smile. “Veggies!” I would scream, as if they could hear me. One night I even dreamt of building a throne of vegetables where I would sit: The Veggie Queen. But of all vegetables, broccoli, that member of the brassicaceae family, was my favorite. In my dreams it made up the majority of my royal seat. I had tried it once or twice before when I was very little, but couldn’t remember the taste. I loved broccoli for its beauty, green like a grassy field, a four-leafed clover, springtime.
OUR family lived in what intellectuals call a “food desert.” We called it home. My mother, working from six in the morning to ten at night all but one day a week, could only find (and afford, relying on stamps) food during those dark hours at one of the five fast food restaurants that stood on the outskirts of our block. After school, my brother Frankie and I would wait for our mom to come home, sharing the bag of hot cheetos she had given us money to buy that held us over until dinner. Our fingers stained red as if we’d just committed a gruesome murder, Frankie and I would take turns playing Mario Kart on our Gameboy and wait for Mom to call during her break.

“Mami?”
“Hi, Babygirl. How was school?”
“Good.”
“Have you and Francisco done your homework?”
“No.”
“Finish it, Mija. And help your little brother with his. Te quiero mucho. I’ll be home with food around 9:30. OK?”
“Mhm. Love you. I’ll help him.”
That night, because Frankie and I finished our homework before she came home, Mom got us a
special treat. We had Wendy’s burgers, the square ones, and frosties.

FRANKIE was fat. Circular shapes made up his innocent, brown face and his pudgy, wrinkled neck and small stature resembled that of a chubby pug. He was my cute, fat little brother. I would do anything for him. When his classmates made fun of him, I would protect him by drawing attention to their own fatness, which they seemed not to perceive. “Callate, Twinkies!” I’d yell, dismissing their bullying giggles with a wave of my hand and taking Frankie under my arm. Most of them were as fat, if not fatter, than him. Frankie was too young to notice contradictions.

One day at school they brought local doctors to perform check ups on us. Our teachers said the doctors were simply trying to make sure we were all okay and in good health, but I was afraid. I had only visited a doctor once before around the time I first tried broccoli. On this day, an assembly of seven of them were stationed in the cafeteria behind thin blue curtains. They wore white lab coats and rubber gloves. I wondered what they were trying to protect themselves from. Would there be blood? Were we biohazardous? I went first. Frankie stood behind me in a line of students. The doctor examined me with his eyes, turned me around, pricked my finger, gave me a bandaid, made me take a deep breath, say “Ah,” shined a light in my eyes and sent me off. It wasn’t so bad except that afterward I felt unhealthier than before. Frankie’s turn. The doctor took longer with him. I hung back, waiting for my brother, but when he still hadn’t emerged from behind the curtain after thirty minutes, I was forced to return to the classroom with the other students. That night, Mom got a call from Frankie’s teacher, Ms. Martinez. Frankie was showing signs of prediabetes and was at risk of becoming a full- fledged diabetic at the green age of eight, she said.
“Y qué es eso?” my mom asked, furrowing her drawn-on eyebrows and wrapping the telephone’s bungee cord around her long, manicured nails nervously.

Ms. Martinez said the doctor could meet with her tomorrow morning to explain. Mom called work to tell them she would be late and Frankie and I went to the meeting with her. Her English wasn’t perfect so sometimes she would ask me for help. When we arrived, we were ushered into the counselor’s office.
The doctor who examined Frankie was sitting behind the counselor’s desk. He said:

“Frankie is at risk of becoming diabetic. Also, and like many kids in this area, he is nearly obese. Your daughter, while healthier, isn’t in the clear either. Her blood pressure was high, likely due to substantial levels salt consumption and a nutrient deficient diet. Now, there are ways to combat these issues before they become serious problems. Namely, a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. I wanted to meet with you today to emphasize the importance of feeding your children veggies and fruits during the important developmental stages of childhood. Of course, eating healthy is always recommended, but especially when it comes to children. They are growing and childhood eating habits often extend into adulthood. But it’s not too late to make a change. Exercise and natural foods will serve as a natural remedy to their ailments. Do these lifestyle changes sound reasonable?”

Mom asked what diabetes is and when the doctor explained she became distraught, starting to cry. She cursed god in Spanish and dabbed her eyes with a tissue the doctor had given her, smearing her make up. I was still caught on the word “veggies.” I tuned out after hearing it as images of polychromatic, dancing vegetables began to flood my mind, drowning out everything else. The rest of the transcription above is my best recollection of what the doctor said after uttering that marvelous word. But I remember the gravely concerned look on my mom’s face when I finally came to. She told the doctor that she would feed us better and encourage us to exercise more, but I could see reality weighing these promises down, a reality that required her to work virtually all hours of the day, to rely on food stamps to feed her children, to survive rather than thrive, which is what the doctor asked of her in lieu of the potential deterioration of her children—her family.

MOM picked up more hours. Now she was working seven days a week, the fruit of which was a few apples, bananas, frozen peas and baby carrots that would be consumed within a day or two, meaning the rest of the week we would eat like we used to; the way the doctor said we shouldn’t. Something more had to be done, I thought. But what? Our mom was trying and failing to save her children from the perils of cheap food, and we sat idly by waiting for her to complete mission impossible. There had to be some way I could secure better food for me and Frankie.

It was my turn on the Mario Kart and I was Princess Peach. We were waiting for Mom to come home with a brown bag of food. Losing to Bowser, detested Bowser, was the straw the broke the back of a camel called Complacency. I threw the Gameboy on the floor.
“We have to do something about the food, Frankie,” I said, almost yelling. “We need to help Mami.”
“What are we gonna do?” he said, tipping the remnants of a bag of salted pretzels into his mouth, Mom’s health-influenced alternative to hot cheetos.
“We’re gonna go get some veggies. Lots of them. And fruit, too. So Mom doesn’t have to worry and work so hard.”
“How?”
“I’m not sure yet. We’ll figure it out tomorrow. Let’s go to sleep. Mami won’t be home till past midnight.”

The next day Frankie and I woke up to a crisp and cloudless blue sky, a perfect Saturday morning for hunting and gathering. Mom was already gone and I began to work out a plan. Frankie had an old, beaten up bike that Mom had given him on his sixth birthday. It had belonged to one of the neighbor kids who moved out when his father was sent to jail, putting the burden of monthly rent on his jobless mother. I hopped on the seat. Frankie climbed onto the handle bars. The nearest grocery store was four miles away. I decided it would be an excellent way to incorporate exercise into our strive for health, which until then had been neglected completely. Of course, Frankie simply sat there on the handlebars as I pushed us forward, but when he complained about pain in his abdomen and sweat began to drip down his brow, I knew he was experiencing some form of physical exertion. That made me smile.

By the time we got to the grocery store we were both drenched in sweat. It was a hot day, with the summer heat settling in and covering the valley in a blanket of suffocatingly hot air. I parked the bike in a bush near the store and we walked inside. I was in awe. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been inside a grocery store. The colors! They struck me first, and the tremendous amount food and light overwhelmed me. A pleasant but indiscernible song played lightly behind it all, and I was overcome by a flood of happiness that caused my eyes to water. There, to the left, I saw the vegetables. “Veggies!” I screamed, and ran to them, never taking my eyes off of their spectacular shapes and variations. Then I saw the broccoli, the veggie I loved most perched there on its shelf, waiting patiently to be cooked or crunched raw. It was everything the pictures had made it out to be and more, and as I admired the broccoli and the vegetables that surrounded it I noticed a black hose that ran across the top of the vegetable stand. It began to mist. With a hiss, a sparkling fog descended on the raw goods, creating crystal-like beads of water on their vibrant surfaces that reflected the spectacular fluorescence that lit the store. They dripped now, shimmering. Edible jewels. I was reminded of my throne.

Without thinking, I grabbed a bunch of asparagus. Then some bell peppers. I handed these to Frankie and grabbed more. Carrots, arugula, an ear of corn. The bundles of broccoli were so big I avoided them, choosing vegetables that would fit into my pockets instead. When I was carrying just enough to avoid seeming obvious, I motioned to Frankie to follow a white woman who was leaving the store after checking out. We stood close beside her, disguising ourselves as her children—more likely her step-children, on second thought. Nobody noticed us and before long we were riding home in victory. We had succeeded in securing vegetables that would slowly aid my brother in his fight against prediabetes and obesity, contribute to lowering my high blood pressure and ease the load of Mom’s seemingly endless toil, all while getting some much needed exercise. Yes, we stole. But this was no time for ethics.

AT FIRST I told Mom we asked some neighbors if they could spare any food and that the veggies were a gift from them. While embarrassed, Mom accepted this explanation, but when each night she came home to find a table full of vegetables and fruits she became suspicious. She questioned me. Interrogated is a better word. I didn’t know what to say, so I made up a fake charity service: Veggie Queen Collective, or, VQC. She bought it and stopped asking questions. She began to work less. Frankie and I were eating better, losing weight, and leading a better life. Our weekly raids kept us fit. For the first time in a long time we felt we could breath. We still struggled, of course, but the struggle was easier to endure and the happiness my brother and I derived from spending time with our mom made our weekly crimes well worth it. We were finally better than just OK. For an entire month our little family watched T.V. together and snuggled up on the couch until we fell asleep in the shape of a pyramid: Mom in the middle and me and Frankie on either side. I was proud of what I had done and what I would continue to do if it meant helping my mom and brother live healthy, happy lives. I was confident, too. I felt untouchable. Which is why, after weeks of successful veggie runs, I turned my focus to my beloved broccoli, which I had refrained from stealing because of its difficulty to conceal. One way or another, I promised myself, I would take my spring-green prize.

ON Broccoli Day, which I’d planned a week in advance, I wore my biggest jacket and left Frankie at home with Tom and Jerry. One hour later I was standing in front of those miniature, green trees, summoning the courage to stuff a few into my pockets and the abdomen of my coat. The mist began to rain down from the black hose above and I made my move. I grabbed three bundles of broccoli, concealed them and pressed them to my body. I began to move toward the exit, but as soon as I passed through the sliding doors I felt two massive hands grab me by my arms and hold me back. I was seized. I began to kick and scream, moving my body violently and trying to wriggle my way out of the powerful, merciless grip that was restraining me and cutting off blood flow to my hands. I began to cry. I cried like a baby, all the while kicking, fighting against whoever it was that was dragging me back into the store from behind.
“Let me go!” I screamed. But they wouldn’t. “Let me go! Help! Help me!”
They had seen me before and were waiting for my next attack. They stationed secret shoppers near the exits to grab me before I could escape, those bastards. I was still crying and laid in a fetal position on the tiled floor while they looked down on me with menacing eyes, hands on their hips. I hugged the broccoli that was inside my coat and heard it crack under the pressure.

The menacing men called the police. The officers asked me why I did what I did and told me that I knew better; that stealing was a crime. I didn’t answer any of their questions and pretended I didn’t know how to speak English. When they asked me where my mom and dad were, I would stare at them blankly in reply. I handled all of this with composure until my broccoli was confiscated. I screamed so much I think they simply wanted to get me off their hands, and after showing them where I had parked my bike, they told me never to steal again and let me go with a warning. I rode home feeling defeated, deflated, sad. My tears streamed back into my black hair, pushed by the force of the wind as I pedaled faster than ever before, returning to my castle empty-handed, without my coveted bounty.

FRANKIE was asleep on the couch when I got back, the Gameboy lying next to him as replays of his last race played over and over again on the tiny screen. It would be a few hours before Mom would get there, and I didn’t know how I would explain the sudden absence of vegetables. Maybe I would say VQC had gone out of business? I didn’t care anymore. I had failed myself and my family. Without our steady stream of vegetables, I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew it wasn’t out of the question that my brother could get sick and die. I felt that if this was his fate, it was because of my inability to take care of him, and that I should die too. I was so upset that I wanted to do nothing more than go to the room I shared with Frankie and cry until I fell asleep, which is precisely what I intended to do. But when I took off my jacket and threw it on the bed, I noticed a small lump near the right armpit. Feeling the spot, I noticed that something had fallen into a hole in the lining, but couldn’t tell what it was. I lifted the jacket and shook it and there, on the white sheets of my bed, fell a perfectly intact, bright green piece of broccoli. The stalk was smooth and thick. The head flowered symmetrically into a beautiful half dome. I stared at it with tired, unbelieving eyes. If my tear ducts hadn’t been expended on the ride home, I would have cried. I did cry. I dry cried. It was perfect. My very own tree of broccoli.

I bit down on it mightily, starting with the bushy top. It was utterly disgusting—not at all how I had remembered or imagined it—but I took a second bite with even more vigor than before. A laugh escaped me. I ate the broccoli feverishly. If anyone had seen me they would have thought I had been starving on a desert island for many years. Crying without tears I ate and ate. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Our little family would be make it, I thought, like we always had before. And as I chewed my mouth warped into a wistful smile. Me and my half-eaten broccoli. Frankie slept on the couch. Mom would be home soon.

By Matthew Zamudio

 

The Freedonian Way

To the editor of the heralded Appalachian publication, that you should find the telling of my plight compelling enough to share with your loyal followers dispersed among the outer colonies, so that they may find themselves aware of the true, harrowing nature of Freedonia, a dismal and deluded state that one should only experience through the exterior observation of my prose.

I have never told a soul of the horrors witnessed in Freedonia, the self-lauded capitol of the Columbian empire. I have myself endured an utterly detestable encounter in the capital, an experience I have for years attempted to bury somewhere in the wastelands of my tainted conscience. Through the telling of this true account I hope to make amends for the crimes I have committed, the atrocities forced upon me by the misguided peoples of the Freedonian state, under an empire rapidly growing into a global power that will dominate all commerce and culture within every continent and sea. A colossal state of such magnitude must have its moral rectitude held accountable. Henceforth, as I lay here dying of this terminal affliction, I write to you to scorn the misguided morals of the Freedonian way, and to make peace with myself as I welcome the sweet kiss goodnight of death.
It was upon spring twenty years ago where I made a visit to Freedonia. I was a trader from Columbia’s recently acquired western colonies, and I took to the capitol to secure a contract with the Merchant Marine Company. While docking in Freedonia’s eastern port, Ellis Crossing, I set my eyes on the famous statue erected within the harbor. It was a large, green statue of a woman adorned in an elegant gown, her gaze fixed downwards upon a small black child, to whom she directed an outstretched hand. The frail black hand reached upwards towards the lady’s but did not touch it, the tips of the fingertips reaching, but not connecting. At the base of the statue a plaque read:
Send me your weak and weary, those crushed by the states of dreary, and I will grant solace to the poor the world deplores. Here they shall be lifted up! It is the Freedonian way to rescue those from the fray of the savage jungles far away. Here there is freedom and liberty for thee!
While heading back to my hotel after securing a contract with the Merchant Marine Company, it became known to me that my shoes suffered considerable wear, compelling me to seek out replenishing services. I made my way to a shop I spotted while crossing the large bridge leading into the inner city, and decided to request replenishment there. I was soon greeted by the proprietor, a large, aged man of stern countenance. His chin presented an unkempt, white beard, and he wore bedraggled clothes.
“Good morning. What can I do for ya?” he asked.
I responded, “I just need a moment of your time for repair services, as my shoes have taken very poorly to all the roads while exploring the city.”
“Oh, that’s no trouble at all. Have a seat over there and I’ll have em’ taken care of,” he directed me. I took a seat in a large oak chair on the bridge and fixed my gaze upon the serenity of the countryside. I looked over to my left and saw a thin black boy seated on a wooden box, eyes closed and beads of perspiration sliding down his face. “Boy get over there and fix up the gentlemen’s shoes! Hark along now you lazy indolent,” the proprietor commanded resentfully. As I watched the small black boy hobble on over to me piteously, I began to feel a slight discomfort, for I immediately recognized the boy was of poor health. His clothes were tattered and grimy, and the bloody sores on his leg oozed puss.
“Sir,” the boy addressed me in lowly voice, refraining from looking me in the eyes. He grunted as he lowered himself to inspect my shoes, and his display of discomfort in this simple physical exertion suggested he was in great pain. Moved with compassion for this poor boy, I directed an interrogation to the proprietor, who sat back in his chair reading the morning paper.
“Pardon me sir, but this boy bears a look of poor physical health. Surely you could send him home for the day, so he can reinvigorate himself through proper care and treatment?”
“Excuse me?” the proprietor responded gruffly as he glanced up from his paper.

“The boy doesn’t look healthy. I don’t think it’s in his best interests to toil today. He looks like he needs medical attention.”
The proprietor chuckled. “I can tell you’re not from here. You ever see a nigger before?”
I shook my head. The proprietor returned his attention to the newspaper.

“They’re all born with diseases that make em’ look like that. Besides, best not to let em’ go home. When they young like that, they like to go out and cause trouble. I let him go now and who knows which young wench is gonna be running up into the lawman’s office after being raped. They got these urges. It’s best to keep em in place.” The boy removed a small cloth from his pocket and began to work away at the dirt on my shoes, all the while sniffling and occasionally pausing to let out a harsh cough.

“Hmph,” I uttered as I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. “I hope that you will forgive me. I am unaccustomed to receiving the services of slaves, as we do not make use of their labor in the outer colonies. I didn’t realize it was common practice here. I’ve only read of the practice in history textbooks.”
“‘Slave’ is such an outdated term. They are human beings after all.” The proprietor was now gazing upon the boy with a look of compassion on his face. “We are giving them work—something to do, something to make their lives out of. We really are helping them find a sense of purpose,” he remarked with an air of idealism. “Yes, we earn our keep by the sweat of our brow. Are these… workers compensated for their sweat? ” I asked.

The proprietor shifted his gaze towards me, pausing momentarily. He began, “Look sir, their kind, they can’t even do arithmetic. Their brains can’t handle the uh, computations. A chance to work and make meaning of themselves is compensation enough. What we are giving them, the wonderful provision of meaningful labor, the kind that gives a man a reason to exist, a chance to harness his talents and contribute to society, well sir I’d imagine that’s worth far more than wages.”
I stared back at the proprietor, unable to offer a reply. I tried to discern in his eyes whether or not he truly believed the absurdity of his philosophy.
After a few moments passed, the boy began to stammer, “Masta’, oh masta’, I don’t feel very well.” He stood up, wobbling, his weary eyes trembling and blinking repeatedly.
“Pipe down boy and continue working on those shoes! You are well-aware of the consequences for acting out,” the proprietor grumbled harshly.
“Sir, you have been very kind, but your services are beyond necessity. It’s a simple repair job I can manage on my own”, I offered, fixing myself upright in preparation to depart the shop.
Just then, the boy, with an odd jerking of his stomach, sputtered, “I really don’t feel—” before he could finish vomit projected forth from his mouth all over my shoes.
“What in the hell are you doing!” the proprietor furiously shouted as he sprang from his seat. He glanced at me momentarily, his face flushed red in anger. The boy began to sob.
“It’s quite alright, the boy is ill. It’s alright.” I was trying to sympathize with the poor boy and calm the proprietor, who stood with lips quivering in uncontrollable rage.
“What a disgrace!” he screamed while hurling the newspaper at the boy. My heart beat faster and a knot tightened in my stomach at the sight of his outrage.
I attempted to mutter, “Dear sir, truly I tell you—”
The proprietor darted towards the boy and struck his head, propelling him downwards into the pile of vomit. “You good for nothing look at what you’ve done!” he screamed as he kicked the crying boy in the stomach. “Stop sir!” I pleaded, frozen in place as an icy chill constricted my muscles. My stomach churned.
The proprietor stood arched over the boy, his shoulders heaving as he caught his breath. He turned towards me and locked his cold, lifeless stare into my eyes, saying in between breaths, “This demands punishment. It’s the Freedonian way”. Deep down I felt a horrible sinking feeling, the kind you get when you know something is

terribly wrong and you are completely powerless to change it. Outside onlookers began amassing on bridge, startled by the commotion, murmuring to themselves with disgusted faces as they pointed at the boy laying in his own vomit. I heard the sound of hoofs knocking on cobble, and I turned to see a policeman approaching us on horseback. I felt a sense of relief as he departed the horse and walked towards us. The proprietor grabbed the boy by his shirt and dragged him outside the shop, over to the concrete wall of the bridge, ignoring the boy’s cries to stop. He sat the boy on top of the wall, and the boy covered his face with his hands. He faintly whispered to himself, “Mama, mama…”

“What are you doing?” I asked in a shaky voice, trying to conceal my trembling hands in my trouser pockets. I swallowed the thin, icy air.
“I’m not doing anything. The question is, what are you are going to do? Here in Freedonia, no one is above the law. For when the common man rises above the law, he tears down the pillars of our just society. Anarchy ensues. This nigger here publicly humiliated a white man, and for that he deserves the ultimate penalty.”

I looked over at the policeman, who stood silently, and desperately pleaded for him to intervene and stop this madness. “Look sir, I swear to you, I have taken no offense by this incident. We all befall sickness at times, it’s a natural occurrence. Please, I will be on my way, and let the boy—”
In a cold voice, the peacekeeper said, “It is the dutiful right of the citizens to uphold the law, just as much as it is for the peacekeepers. That is how we maintain peace. No one is above the law, and we all share a responsibility to uphold it. You know what you have to do. If you fail to do so, you fail us, you fail our great justice system, and there will be consequences for your condoning of this vile misconduct.” He solemnly brandished his holstered firearm. My heart wildly pounded against the caverns of my chest as hot blood rushed through my face. I looked over at the little boy, his bloody face contorted, snot and tears dripping from his nose. “I just want to go home. Ma, please just take me home,” he wept dispairingly. I stood tautly, feeling the vomit rise up my stomach. It was such a dreary day, with overcast skies and a chilly breeze passing through the tall grass in the fields below. The policeman, the onlookers, the proprietor, everyone was silent. The only audible sound was the beating of my heart.

“Well go on with it!” “Do not let this little nigger desecrate our way of life!” “I think the nigger lover is a traitor!” The shouts of the crowd carried a bitter and ugly contempt.
I haltingly approached the boy. I looked him in his delicate brown eyes. He shook his head and whispered, “I’m so sorry.”
“Me too.” I grabbed his soiled shirt, closed my eyes, and pushed him off the bridge. I sunk to the floor and vomited on the cobble. The crowd cheered.

A Series of Entries

by Jacqueline

22 May 2017

Did that actually just happen? Did that happen in my head or in front of my eyes?

My poli professor BEGS his students to participate in his awful class. The turnout today was the lowest it had ever been. He attributed it to the assignment due today, but he forget the numbers have been dwindling since oh about week 1. The lecture today was on material that I and probably most of the class had learned in high school, so I was hyping myself up to raise my damn hand and participate, get some recognition as a person of color. Because that’s our job, right? Look twice as good for a second glance, for a chance to one day reap half the benefits. I missed my chance the first time to explain dependent and independent variables. I was ready to elaborate on double-blind tests. I raised my hand. I caught his eyes with mine for a fraction of a fraction of a second, look up and to my left, and call on this blonde girl. Did that actually happen? I’m honestly not sure. I’m stumped. Did he deliberately-I’m not sure. I sit front and center his class everyday for 7 weeks straight. I attend every god-awful section class with my absolutely incompetent TA. I put in the hours.

Well, the joke is on them. This is not the needle. Don’t expect this camel’s back to break anytime soon.

21 March 2017

Finals are upon us. I have taken my first final of the season. So much is going on, yet it’s all probably so insignificant. Today felt good. I felt good. I had a poppin hair style (with contributions from the glorious geli). I was wearing my 80s jeans and timeless converse combo. Tied together with my mauvey makeup look, I felt like a chicana living in LA in the 90s. Like I just opened the chain link fence to my house and jumped shotgun of my best friend’s ride. When we get to school, some fuckboy will smack my ass and my teacher will tell me to get my lollipop out of my mouth of march on over to the dean’s office.

I didn’t feel that great yesterday morning. I didn’t have that same conviction in myself.

My relationship with my roommate, Patti, is pretty funny. We shit on each other and know that we’re just bitching around. But she said something yesterday that hit right in the insecurities. I’m not talking insecurities in my looks or my abilities, but in who I am as a person. See, we are born with these identities. We don’t control them. We don’t control who we are, but who we are inherently plays a part in your experiences in life due to decades of society deciding which of

Patti called me a whitie. I know that people are going to read this and the people named might even read this, but I’m not going to censor what happened. She’s said before that I dance like a white person. MacKenzie once said I’m not an actual Mexican. Serena once said that I only count for half a Mexican(??????).

    I’M SICK OF THIS.

Why do people think that they can just nonchalantly invalidate who I am as a person and think I won’t be hurt? I want to cry just digging into my feelings about this. My feelings are usually kept on a shelf somewhere. They only come out to play when some asshole pushes down the entire bookshelf. She said that she went too far, but she also tried to brush off her words as no big
deal. I know Patti’s thing is not giving too much of herself to others as well, which is maybe why we have this banter so easily, but she can’t just readily admit to going too far in our banter and then defend what she said because she had those same things said to her, as if that excuses it. Besides the fact that I call bullshit on her shrugging off those memories as harmless, those actions do not simultaneously work together.

 

I don’t know what these people want from me. I don’t know Spanish. I AM SORRY. My best friend and her mom joke about me needing to know Spanish, and that’s totally harmless. I wish I knew Spanish, I do. If the universe goes my way, I will fluently know Spanish before I die, but I swear I’m gonna punch the next person who tries me and my ethnicity.

I think back to a time not too long ago when I would joke about practically being a white girl and wanting to marry a white boy, and I want to vomit all over myself. I was so ignorant. Why did no one slap some sense into me? Today, I don’t understand when people say that they prefer certain races or look out for blondes or brunettes. Cute is cute. Nice is nice.

I don’t know why I said those things without remembering how alienated I felt the farther I drove on highway 111, leaving the land of Cardenas, Fallas, and Food4Less for Vons, StaterBros, and Nordstrom Rack. They look at you like you don’t belong in their vacation paradise. They forget we’re here. They make you feel like you have to be wearing the right clothes and driving the right car if you’re gonna spend a day at the River or stop on El Paseo. Among a group of kids from a richer, whiter school, the first thing out of their mouths is a deportation joke. This (I think?) mixed girl said she’d call ICE on her mom if she tried to ground her. Go ahead and sit with that for a sec.

I’m nothing like these people.

22 April 2017

I’ve had this rut of a few hours feelings shitty about myself, my weight, my uneventful life, etc. etc. Lonely feelings are creeping in. I’m afraid I have no one. I just want to have my own apartment in San Diego with my mom right next door. I want my cat to be with me all the time. I want to learn how to drive and have this groovy old car from a time where nothing was right but the cars. I want a boyfriend, either Joseph or New Zealand. I want to not be dissatisfied with myself. I need to pull myself out of this.

Those hours are gone. I am going to study my ass off for this midterm. I am going to do a workout routine. I am going to learn a few languanges. I am going to be a pro at surfing, skateboarding, basketball, tennis, ice skating, roller blading. I’m going to go bird watching and climb volcanoes and hike mt everest. I am going to do professional makeup for the stars of hollywood. I WILL BE a star of hollywood. I will make bank off thrifting, because I fucking love thrifting. I will learn how to make clothes. I will go to the best graduate school in the world guaranteed, because I will be there, thus making it the best. I am going to become the president of the United States. And then I will die. And then I will allow myself to die.

My life is not unsatisfactory. I am a lucky person who could have been born in worse living conditions. I need to slap some sanity and get a hard grasp gratitude into my veins, arteries, and capillaries to ensure that this medicine, equally important as oxygen right now, reaches all 37.2 trillion cells of my body. It’s go time.

3 May 2017

It is 2:30am, and I am having a shitfest of a conversation with Lis and Camille about how absolutely shitty it is to be a woman in a man’s world. It’s been a night. Most of the following will be written tomorrow.

I was at an antique store in Temecula, whose commercial demographic is wealthy and white elders. There was a sign next to the register that read, ”My husband called. He said I can buy whatever I want.”

My ASL teacher was explaining reasons why we may need to absent one day, including if your boyfriend broke up with you and you’re crying about it. Would he ever say that to a male? Do men even cry? Especially if it’s a breakup, that just puts them back on the market for hookups, right?

I was seated in front of two white frat boys giving a detailed description of a “hoe”. If you didn’t know, she tries to return a shirt she borrowed at night, because she’s obviously trying to get it in. If you didn’t know, a hoe is nameless. You do not save the name of a hoe in your phone; she does not get a contact name, because you do not wish to contact her after you are done with her. She’s no one’s friend, sister, daughter, or even a person. I am ashamed to report that I said nothing to those two boys. In my mind, I saw myself turning around and starring, squinty-eyed, stating, “I want to remember what disrespect towards women looks like.” But in real life, I just resented them for being ignorant college boys and making bird sounds in lecture.

A suitemate on my floor (who calls herself a feminist, idk what kind of feminism she’s thinking of) said she believes boys are easier to raise than girls. I took to Twitter to call out the bullshit sexism in said statement, and three different males haaaaad to leave their commentary. And the females were the ones backing me up. My friend texted me and said that I’m amazing.

I am so sick and tired of this being the life that we have to live. I will never need my husband’s permision to buy anything. I am a responsible consumer and will make my own money and will work with my husband on finances. I will never let a breakup keep me from class. I will never have a child and believe raising them will be easier/harder on the sole factor of gender or sex. Children are rowdy, male and female. Children are also reserved, male and female. All children need love and affection and protection, male and female. Why are fathers protective over daughters dating but not sons? Why are sons

allowed out of the house, but daughters are kept on a tight leash? It is not hard to treat two the same.

People don’t realize how alive sexism is. So just ask yourself, would this situation ever exist if the roles were reversed? No? That’s sexism at work in the 21st century.

So for any man who sticks his voice where it is not warranted, do not try to tell me what my experience is as a woman when you will never be effected by or even notice everyday injustices. Do not dare try to invalidate me.