Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Saving Blue"

By Juanita Reyes

A long bright street
A big, blue house
The white, blue and red
Dominican flag
waves in the cold wind
in the garage.
I smile, but
a black, dirty bag hits me
in the back.
I turn and the bag
swirls towards the
big, blue house.
I run, I try to catch up, but
there is a rock on the ground and
I trip and
I roll down the long, bright street.

Juanita Reyes and her family moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic three years ago. She is a freshman at the University at Albany, SUNY.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Floor Speaks

By Carrie Holmes

Her face became blurry as salty tears filled my eyes. I should have known better than to think that I could find a home in a stranger’s house.

“I never wanted you anyway. You ain’t anything but another check.”

It wasn't the first time that I had heard something like that. Foster home after foster home, they are all the same. It’s like the government pays these people to kick my butt. It all becomes second nature to me.

“You hear me? You ain”t nothing! You ain't never gonna be nothing!”

I thought to myself that if I ain't never gonna be nothing, then I was gonna be something because that’s a double negative. But I dared not say that to her face. Correct her? Please, I'd be picking up my teeth.

I struggled off the cold hard floor, trying to regain my composure, when I felt another kick in my back. Face first I fell straight into the smear of dried blood that had accumulated there from a previous beating. The door slammed. I felt as if even my heart was not enough life support.

I tried again to get up. This time I managed to make it to my feet. I quickly glanced around the room. I was looking for my foster mother, trying to avoid another blow, when suddenly the thick grey clouds, and foggy air, drew my attention to the window. It was the middle of the summer. Weather like this was very uncommon.

Instantly, the phone began to ring. It wouldn’t stop. The pictures on the wall rocked from side to side. Everything in the room began to shake. I struggled to stand. I turned around looking for something to hold onto. I fell.

“The floor is really popular today,” I thought to myself. The floor began shaking harder and harder. The sound of dropping items and shattered glass filled the room. This was no earthquake. This was something beyond geography.

Suddenly a loud screech pierced the air as a crack formed in the floor. It was the sound of war. There was nowhere to move without falling through the huge space that had opened.

I heard a loud, demanding voice.

“Get up!”

I looked around, but no one was there.

“Get up,” the voice commanded again.

The voice became louder and louder. Soon I realized the voice was coming from the crack in the floor. I couldn’t believe it. I got as close to the crack as I could without falling in. I leaned over the floor to see who owned the voice. I saw someone, someone strange yet very familiar too.

I saw me.

“Let me out,” The voice said.


“Let me out. I have been trapped inside you for so many years. The abuse you got, I got. The tears you cried, I cried. The pain you felt, I felt. It’s time to put a stop to this. Let me out!”

How was this possible? I was asking myself to let me out. It made no sense. But then, life doesn't make any sense.

“How? How do you want me to do it?” I whispered.

“Trust yourself. All your life you have let others take advantage of us. Now it’s time for us to be happy. Trust yourself! Love yourself! Defend yourself!”

“Trust myself? Defend myself?" You must be crazy, I thought to myself.


So I did.

I picked myself up off the floor.

Carrie Holmes, a freshman at the University at Albany, State University of New York, grew up in New York City.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"Regina's Closet, Finding My Grandmother's Secret Journal"

By Diana M. Raab

The following is an excerpt from Regina's Closet: Finding My Grandmother's Secret Journal, published by Beaufort Books, September 2007.

I was ten years old the morning I found my grandmother dead. Our neighborhood in Queens was serene while many residents were out of town celebrating the last three-day weekend of the summer. My mother and father weren’t at home, and my grandfather was visiting his sister Rusza in Paris.

I knocked on Grandma’s bedroom door. She didn’t answer. I cracked the door open and got a whiff of her perfume (Evening in Paris). Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the sheer white curtains swaying in front of the open window overlooking the street. The air in her room was crisp, and the night’s dampness clung to the wooden floor. Grandma’s bed, one of two single beds pushed close together, was beside the window.

Grandma lay beneath her soft checkered Scandinavian wool blanket with fringed edges. She called it the warmest blanket in the world. On her headboard rested Graham Greene’s novel The End of the Affair, a hairbrush, a box of Kleenex, and an open bottle of prescription pills.

“Grandma,” I called softly from the doorway, “can I go to Cindy’s?”
She didn’t answer. I glanced at my new watch. It was already ten o’clock in the morning. On most days Grandma was the first one into the maroon and pink-tiled bathroom that all five of us shared. I walked inside to see if her toothbrush was wet. It was still dry from the night before, but her towel, slung sideways on the towel rack, was still a little damp. The toilet cover was down, just the way she taught me to leave it. I didn’t remember hearing the sound of running water that morning, a sound often heard within the walls of our older house.

In my fluffy blue slippers, I returned to Grandma’s room and tiptoed around Grandpa’s bed toward my Grandma’s side. I gently tapped her shoulder.

“Grandma,” I repeated, “can I please go swimming at Cindy’s? I’ll be back by lunchtime. Promise.” Still no answer. Grandma’s face looked pale and her eyes were loosely shut, as if she were almost ready to get up.
I sensed something was seriously wrong. I tiptoed out of the room, glancing over my shoulder in the hope that she’d wake up and answer me. Under the weight of my footsteps, the wooden floor made cracking sounds. Her closet door was closed and her makeup was spread out on her vanity. I trembled while scurrying to my parents’ room at the end of the hallway. They also had two single beds pushed together with one headboard and two pale pink electric blankets sprawled out on each bed.

The beds were unmade, and on my father’s bedside table was an empty plate with crumbs left from a sandwich he had eaten the night before. The oblong wooden bedside table had a glass covering it and a display of family photographs beneath. One photo caught my eye. My grandmother was leaning against a tree in our backyard. She had a broad smile and seemed playful, the way I will always remember her.

Diana M. Raab is a memoirist, essayist and poet who teaches writing at The University of California, Santa Barbara Extension. She is a columnist for, an online magazine for writers. She frequently writes and lectures on journaling. Her award-winning writing has appeared in numerous national publications. For more information about Diana Raab, her book and other writings, please visit her website,

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"She Gave It a New Life"

By Camincha

1. She gave it a new life. Donated the computer that sat in the spare bedroom. Bill, her computer guru-guardian-angel, had given it to her. "An extra one," he had said, "in case yours breaks down." But later he said, "You know if it does break down, it’ll be easier and cheaper to buy parts from the dealer."

So she got on the phone to find someone who would take the little orphan. Many calls later a very energetic, short gentleman, the principal of the local granmar school, said: “Oh! I know a very computer-literate teacher who would love to have it to print out our newsletter.”

2. She gave it a new life. Placed the projector in the hands of her film aficionado friend. She had owned the beautiful piece for many years but seldom used it. It's now in very good hands. So is the little movie camera she obtained years ago by trading the old movie camera and a little cash, and all 30 odd rolls of 8 and Super 8 home movies.
Her friend said, "I’ll place the film in a special safe-deposit box. It won't deteriorate. Won't dry out."

3. She gave it a new life. A purpose, to the sturdy, elegant case of French records and text books her friend Erik had given her. Linda suggested donating it to The Historical Society. But they said only took items if related to San Mateo County. She didn’t press it. And called a French teacher at Oceana High SchooL who said, I’Il be glad to take it.

She’s heard it’s greatly admired——this relic from other times——by the students who are in awe of the leather case trimmed in gold.

4. She gave it a new life. Donated her collection of clippings of the Kennedy family. She mailed them to the Kennedy Historical Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts with a letter that said: I have lovingly collected these. It’s time to pass them on, to be used, perhaps by a member of the Kennedy family who needs more information for their memory album, or to a school, or a student writing a thesis.

The letter with the seal of the Kennedy Historical Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts said: Thank you.
She’s giving them all a new life. No one had to sit by her side. No one had to hold her hand and say, you are doing well, you are doing the right thing.

Now, she has room for new tidings, new colors, new dreams.

Camincha is a pen name for a writer based in Pacifica, California.