CARDBOARD BOX DREAMS: A Bracero’s Story

Posted on July 23, 2014 by

By Celia Viramontes

“…The man led them indoors, as Don Luis and his paisanos laid cardboard slats on the ground. For a peso each, he furnished them with a piece of floor. It beat sleeping on the hot Empalme roads, nakedly exposed to passers-by.

The men laid the cardboard in neat rows. Don Luis laid his back on the cardboard. Its hard edges rubbed his spine. He lay next to his buddy. He wanted nothing more than to sleep and dream. It must be two in the morning now. He licked beads of sweat off his lips, salty like the rest of his body. Salty like the lake next to the railroad tracks that he remembered from his first stint as a bracero. …”

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ONE DAY IN COMPTON

Posted on July 22, 2013 by

By Johnathan Quevedo

“…Then my car’s transmission went out, so I had to take the train to work: The Blue Line to 7th and from there I’d just walk. I had to be there at 6 am.

One day, I was walking to the Blue Line station in Compton, when an SUV with four Latino gang members passed me as I was at the intersection. The passenger held a gun out the window and said, “Don’t move, motherfucker!” They were talking directly to me as if they knew me personally. …”

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AN ACT OF GOD IN BASEBALL

Posted on July 1, 2013 by

By Milovan Pompa

“…In the ninth, I got the first out but the second hitter singled and stole second base. One of their best hitters was up. He had hit me hard earlier.

The count was two and two. It had been a little windy that night, though not anything to notice. I start to deliver my pitch. The wind picked up and a mini dust-devil funnel cloud about two feet tall suddenly spun right on home plate. …”

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WANNA BURRITO? A prison tale

Posted on June 10, 2013 by

By Richard Gatica

“…The absence of water in the toilet creates a powerful vacuum. Air from the cell is sucked into the drain. We do not have to communicate through the vent any more. We can hear each other through the drain, although there is a slight echo and hollow sound. In some places, our ability to communicate through the air vent is poor due to a particular design. In those units, by habit, some people will keep their toilet devoid of water while not in use. …”

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HOW I KNOW

Posted on March 14, 2013 by

By Rachel Kimbrough

“…I got home from work one night to find her sitting on the couch with this weird bemused look on her face. She instructed me to sit on the couch next to her, and then told me that she’d just woken up from a wet dream about me and her only to find a demon on top of her with its mouth over hers.

She said she rebuked it in the name of the LORD and it scampered away. I moved out the next week. …”

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BILLY JOE, WHERE ARE YOU?

Posted on February 27, 2013 by

By David Chittenden

…So you could dig your hole to China anywhere you wanted. Well, I shouldn’t have said just anywhere. Because when the sewer came down our street, it was free, but you had to pay to be connected to it. Billy Joe’s parents never felt it was worthwhile to pay, for they still had the outhouse there behind the house, and it was working fine. There was a well-worn path from the back door of the house and to the outhouse. Naturally you couldn’t dig a hole to China on the path, or you couldn’t place any obstructions on the path in case someone had go in a hurry. …

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BEAUTY AND THE LONELY FEAST

Posted on February 27, 2013 by

By Monah Li

“…Over the years, I train myself to vomit without a noise. In public bathrooms, I sit all the way back on the seat and barf between my spread legs.

I’m envied for my slim figure. But the price I pay for this is steep:

By 45, I have full-blown osteoporosis. My teeth are replaced with implants, for the cost of two houses.

Relentless back-pain, constant fatigue and shame make me suicidal.

I pray for just one day of freedom, but I am stuck. …”

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SUBTERRANEAN LOVESICK CLUES

Posted on December 4, 2012 by

By Alexis Rhone Fancher

I remember listening

to Bob Dylan in Donna Melville’s attic

bedroom, 3 a.m. We were

drinking her daddy’s bourbon, playing

Subterranean Homesick Blues over and over,

memorizing it word by mumbled word.

Johnny’s in the basement,

mixing up the medicine, I’m on the pavement, thinkin’ ‘bout

the government… Donna passed me the bottle.

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STOCKTON STORIES: One Morning in Dominica

Posted on November 26, 2012 by

By Theresa Asiedu

“…The sun was shining, the fresh mountain breeze was gently touching my skin and I still had the scent of pink blossoming hibiscus flowers in my nose.

My stepfather popped in and out of our lives trying to maintain control of our family. He would yell at everything, from the house that was never tidy enough to the food that didn’t suit his taste. I would find myself holding my breath when he spoke, my body tensing with every word he uttered, his voice leaving goosebumps on my skin. …”

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STOCKTON STORIES: Something more than/less than human

Posted on November 26, 2012 by

By Matthew Garcia

“… I hear the screech of the tires and the smell of rubber burning. My head then hits the windshield and my sight goes black for a second. My body flip upside down as if I were on a roller coaster. The car isn’t done with me. It is as if the car grows arms and grabs me and spins me around — just as in wrestling where after being spun around you get slammed into the ground. My body is tossed to the side. Silence. The car takes off.

‘’Don’t leave me here I don’t deserve this,’’ I say. …”

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