Archive for December, 2013

The Critically Lauded Josue Bernal, by Kieran Villoth

            Josue is, simply put, a strange little man. Recently having turned eighteen, he is now an adult, although neither his persona, nor body type, would indicate such maturity. Josue is almost unbelievably skinny; to such an extent that I am almost convinced he can fit beneath the crack between a door and the wall.  Despite this, he swears that he has a six pack, but will not let anyone see it. Josue is also fairly short. I have not personally measured him, but I would imagine he stands somewhere around 5’5. 

            Josue always seems to wear a shirt or jacket worth at least a hundred dollars, and a ten dollar pair of jeans. He is very proud of the way he dresses, for some unknown reason. He also has glasses, as he is entirely blind without them. His favorite way of loitering is to lean back on a wall, fold his arms, and watch the people walking past him. He often greets people while using this stance. When walking in a group of people, he stays off to the side, and talks the entire time so nobody else can get a word in. On occasion, he will forget what he was talking about mid-sentence, utter an inhuman slur of sounds, and continue to walk without acknowledging that it had even happened.

            Somehow, Josue is extremely confident. He claims that he would be a fantastic boxer, or Mixed Martial Arts fighter. These are blatant lies, but he continues to speak them. He is also extremely proud that he is being trained to be a manager at a local Wendys. He is so proud of this, in fact, that for the past month and a half, he has mentioned it every single day, holding his soon-to-be managerial position over his head as if it were a trophy.

            I met Josue during my junior year of high school, in Journalism class. Our teacher was sitting in the back of the class, staring blankly at the wall, and not at all watching his classroom. I was sitting there, minding my own business, and doing my classwork. Then Josue ruined it all. He chose the seat next to me, and sat in it.

            “Hey.” said Josue.

            “Hey.” I responded.

            “What’s up?” he asked.

            “Nothing really.” I said dryly.

            “You know, Nickelback is my favorite band.” said Josue.

           Josue claims he was joking when he said that, and just trying to start conversation, but I only half believe him. What I do believe, however, is that this is one of the two ways he knows how to start conversations. He either blurts out something personally insulting, or repeatedly says “hey” over and over. These are the only ways I have ever seen Josue start a conversation, and I sometimes worry that he doesn’t understand human interaction.

            I don’t know why I am Josue’s friend. I do not respect him, or appreciate his company. Josue is sometimes tolerable, and very rarely, he is actually enjoyable company. Most of the time, however, he is a complete and utter mystery. He does not act the way other humans do, he has unmatched pride, and he never shuts his mouth. I do not understand Josue, nor do I think I ever will. I don’t know if anyone ever will. In fact, I do not know if Josue even truly understands himself. He is too strange, too awkward, too… incorrect. In a world full of cogs and gears, working together to create something bigger, Josue is a rubber duck. He blocks the gears, interferes with their work, and nobody has the slightest idea how he came to be here.



Dora, by Valerie Lopez

             As time goes by, we think about the people who made a difference in our lives and the impact they made. To me, that person was my grandma Dora. My abuela was one of the most beautiful, caring, and witty woman I knew.

 She had short, wavy, salt and pepper hair that was always brushed back behind her ears. Her eyes were like pools of blue that were inviting and tempting to swim in. When I looked into them, I felt like I was looking into the depth of her soul. Her skin was of a milky white complexion that glowed as if she was still in her youth. Abuela stood 5 feet 4 inches tall, but this woman was always slouched so she didn’t seem that height. She rarely eversmiled but when she did, she would always give you a half crested one that lit up your heart with joy.  

            My grandmother was born on July 11, 1919 in Lockhart, Texas and for 25 years she worked as a nurse. She was married twice and had 12 children while living in San Antonio, Texas. She then moved to Milwaukee shortly after my grandpa died. She was 55 years old when my Grandpa Miguel unexpectedly died of a heart attack. She ended up moving in with my aunt Tere, who was already established in Milwaukee, and lived with her till the day she passed away.

Even though my grandma didn’t have a lot of money, she would always assist others in need. Once, when I was 8 years old, she made a blanket for a homeless lady living on the streets. As she gave the quilt to the vagrant woman, I quietly whispered to my grandma, “Abuela why did you make that lady a blanket?”

My grandmother then stated, “Mija because I am sure at night she feels the bitter cold crawl through her lightly clothed body.”

One of my fondest memories of my grandmother occurred when I was 10 years old. I had spent the night at her house and awoke the next morning to the smell of oven baked fries swiveling in the air and to the sound of eggs sizzling on the stove. She loved to make me this dish every time I slept over her house. Till this day when I make this dish, it reminds me of the aroma that filled her house early on Sunday mornings.

Although my grandma did not give off a welcoming vibe to those who she would meet, she would always show me affection. She kept to herself and really didn’t show affection to those around her. When someone tried to hug her she would push him or her off and tell that person she doesn’t like to hug. However my abuela would always hug me, and tell me she loved me. My mother and I lived with her the first two years of my life. My father left before I was even born. My mom then moved in with her mother, my abuela. I believe that my grandma and I shared a special bond from this experience. Consequently perhaps that’s why she favored me and let me embrace her and who she was. 

                        My grandmother would like to whistle while she cleaned, or she would hum a tune in her head. She also loved to swear in Spanish but never meant it in an uncaring way.  My grandmother just liked to use vulgar language at times, maybe to express some frustration she had bottled up inside. These were just her special mannerisms that made her who she was. This little feisty firecracker always knew how to make the people around her laugh. Because it was unexpected at times when she would use bad words in Spanish to talk to someone, but we knew it was her way of socializing with people.

When I was 11-years-old my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s, a crippling disease that takes control of your mind. She ended up dying just four years after she was diagnosed with this illness after complications from a stroke. Even on her deathbed, she worried about my mother, who at the time was a single parent of 8 children. My aunt Tere promised her that she would be there for her sister so my grandma wouldn’t worry. Later that evening, my abuela had finally let go. She passed away in her sleep knowing that my mom was going to be taken care of.

 In conclusion, this woman who I called my grandma marked my life in a positive way. She taught me to always treat others as you would want to be treated. And she valued family because it was important to her and I also value family in my life. Her words are very significant in my life and her values are also very important to me. I continuously practice them in life.  I never appreciated her words of wisdom when I was younger. Now as an adult and mother, I have come to understand them, and for that I am grateful. Her acts of kindness and nurturing ways demonstrated to me how to be a humble person. She is the kind of woman I strive to be, the woman I called my abuela.  



The First Time, by Brian Van Handel

People remember their first time for the rest of their lives.  Some people grasp that first love and let it grow. I remember my first time just like it was yesterday.

            It was a warm September day. The sun was beaming and the weather forecast for the day called for a high in the low to mid 70’s. Of course, like any other day in Wisconsin, there was a chance of scattered showers throughout the day. Growing up in Wisconsin, I had learned to expect the ever present chance of a spattering of rain. This day seemed like any other September day I had experienced hundreds of times over. Little did I know, my life would be forever changed on this day.

            My girlfriend, Christie approached me and questioned, “Are you doing anything today? If not, do you mind taking a road trip with me as I have some business to take care of?”

            “How long would we be gone and what do you have to do?” I asked.

            “Most of the day and don’t worry we will have fun as the business aspect is the shortest portion of the trip,” explained Christie.

            Not sure what was going on, but knowing that I had no plans and had only been dating Christie for a little while, I figured I would play along. “Sure, do I need to bring anything?” I inquired as I approached the car.

            “Just yourself, honey!” she belted out.

            Of course, this peaked my interest. What business did she need to take care of? Where were we headed? Is this girl really into me? All great questions that I hoped would be answered by the end of this trip.

            We had been on the road for over two hours and I had little luck in prying any piece of information out of Christie as to where we were going and what the intentions were when we arrived there? I knew that we were heading north on I-43 and a warm breeze flooded the vehicle with the faint smell of burning leaves. Traffic wasn’t horrible, but mildly congested. I continued to try and pry out any bit of information from my, suddenly much quieter, girlfriend. There was no cracking this girl. She was just not giving up anything.

As we passed Sheboygan, my thoughts raced at where this journey was headed and what we were going to be doing. I guess she wasn’t kidding that the business aspect would be the shortest part of the trip. I conceded that I would just have to wait until we arrived at our destination to see what she had up her sleeve.

“Are we close yet?” I sighed.

“Patience honey, it will be worth the wait,” she said in a sultry voice.

Now the anticipation was killing me. What could it be? I again sat back into a now suddenly uncomfortable bucket seat and waited in eager anticipation. All of a sudden, the car slowed to a snail’s pace. We were caught in traffic in what seemed like a line of vehicles waiting to pay a highway toll. I thought to myself, Wisconsin does not have toll roads. I realized that there was a Packer game going on and unfortunately, we were arriving at what seemed to be the same time as people going to the game were arriving. The breezy, sunny day now seemed like a distant past as we had been in the car for what seemed like enough time to fly Florida and now were stuck in traffic. Being somewhat frustrated at this point, I exclaimed, “I sure hope we are close to wherever it is you are taking us!”

Not daunted, she replied, “Patience honey, we are just about there.”

All of a sudden, out my window gleams the shining beacon of NFL history, known as Lambeau Field. I have never witnessed her grandeur in person before. She is majestic against the clear blue skyline and is the envy of all football fans nationwide; even though most will not admit it. All these people were flocking to her, as if she was some sort of super model. Tom Brady may have Gisele Bundchen, but Packer fans have Lambeau Field. When Gisele has long since left Tom, Lambeau Field will still be the loyal companion to all Packer fans. I abruptly realized I was staring out the window when I looked back at Christie and she was smiling. Puzzled, I inquired, “What are you smiling about?”

Proudly she said, “This is our destination and the business I have to take care of is attending today’s Packer game with you.”

I was floored. I was about to experience the pinnacle of what every Packer fan strives for. The love affair is completed and the connection grows stronger once you have been able to witness your beloved team on its hollowed ground.

The anticipation on that day continues to be a memory that I wish I could capture and duplicate. It was this day that I realized my first love was something to be cherished. In the short time that we had known each other, Christie knew me well enough to know that this would be something that I would remember for the rest of my life. My love for this woman started on this day. I grasped that love and let it culminate into a lifelong commitment. This was the women who I would marry.

It is true, everyone remembers their first time.

Forked Tongue, by Marilyn Fleming

the floor

of the mouth

at the groove

split at the tip

—a divide of

words running

fast— untied

like a shoe flap

Whistle, by Marilyn Fleming

thin blade

            taut between thumbs—palms touch

            purse lips—blow

Drowning, by Marilyn Fleming

—your eyes

the color of

coffee beans

honey locust

seed pods

the dark skin

of a Japanese beetle

water buffalo

in still water

two polished

chestnuts lurking

like a hawk circles

or a cougar stalks

—your eyes

deep enough

to drown in

Suzzie Q: Fear, by Malcolm Broadnax

Suzzie Q: Fear, by Malcolm Broadnax

On Point: U.S. Marines, by Jose DeHoyos

On Point- U.S. Marines

Little Rachel, by Jose DeHoyos

Little Rachel

Dominic, by Veronika Greco


We think he has Downs

Crying, anguish, fear, distress

He looks different- but maybe they’re wrong

No, it’s true- what am I going to do

Love him, squeeze him, praise Him, teach him

Cool glasses Dominic!

Four eyes – four eyes (taunting)

Momma – no 4 eyes – only 2

I know sweetie, they can’t count

Those foot braces look awesome!

He runs like a chicken (taunting)

Momma – no chicken- I go fast

I know sweetie, first place, first place

Time for speech

Duh, duh, duh, duh (taunting)

Momma- no duh, duh – I talk good

I know sweetie, they just couldn’t hear you

Re-tard, Re-tard (taunting)

Momma – no re-tard- I smart

I know sweetie, I love you