Let’s Not Keep Him Waiting by Allison Zheng

Nestled in between where Chinatown ends and North Beach begins is a humble-looking bookstore — now infamous for its progressive politics, arts, and literature. Growing up in San Francisco, I spent every Saturday morning accompanying my parents on their grocery-shopping trips in Chinatown. We’d park on Broadway Street, near the strip clubs and tourists, and walk down towards Pacific Avenue where I’d see the sign: City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. Truth be told, I hated going to Chinatown as a child. I thought it was crowded and loud, but on good days (and when there was time) my parents would end our trips with a visit to City Lights. We never bought anything and the only stories I was interested in reading back then were The Baby Sitter’s Club but I still loved getting a peek at this foreign world — a world of adults, creativity, and curiosity. When Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded City Lights in 1953, he probably never expected a young Chinese girl to find refuge there. Similarly, I never expected Ferlinghetti to make marks on my life and yet he has time and time again.

As a teenager, I no longer had any desire to spend weekends with my parents. And so, my visits to Chinatown and City Lights ended. At the time, I was a student at Balboa High School and a voracious reader. However, even though I loved fiction, I did not understand the point of poetry. Or at least I felt that way until Mr. Wilcox, my English teacher, distributed a poem to us called “What Could She Say to the Fantastic Foolybear…,” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti: 

What could she say to the fantastic foolyber

and what could she say to brother

and what could she say

to the cat with future feet

and what could she say to mother

after that time that she lay lush

among the lolly flower

on that hot riverbank

where ferns fell away in the broken air

of the breath of her lover

and birds went mad

and threw themselves from trees

to taste still hot upon the ground

the spilled sperm seed

I was awe-struck by how Ferlinghetti could so succinctly describe the complexities and pangs of being an adolescent girl. To this day, I am impressed by how he was able to convey the strangeness of puberty and illustrate how challenging it is to not exactly be a child anymore and yet not know how to grapple with seemingly adult things such as sexual relationships. I read “Foolybear…” during a time in my life where I felt very alone and yet, Ferlinghetti seemed to understand me. Through this experience, I began to see that poetry can cultivate empathy and offer viewpoints on the world. To keep things short: This is the poem that made me fall in love with poetry. This is the poem that made me want to read more poems and I never stopped. I went on to study English Literature at CCSF and UC Davis and began writing poetry of my own. 

Ferlinghetti has done much more than simply write a poem that influenced my life path. He supported countless San Francisco-based writers, published Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” was arrested for publishing “Howl,” fought for our First Amendment rights in court due to “Howl,” and continued to publish the writing of outsiders even after the frenetic media attention of the Beats era passed. He relentlessly cultivated a literary culture where freedom of expression, community-building, and rebellion are valued over academic prestige and individual reputation. Ferlinghetti augmented the DNA of San Francisco’s literary landscape, and San Francisco as a whole, for the better. Although I am devastated by his death, I am inspired to continue his legacy by contributing to the community we have here today. I hope that others are inspired as well. In “I Am Waiting,” Ferlinghetti wrote, “I am waiting/for a rebirth of wonder” — let’s not keep him waiting any longer. Let’s take the blueprint that he crafted for us and create something beautiful.

Alison Zheng was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. She’s a former Poetry Editor for City College of San Francisco’s Forum and a Poetry Reader at Non.Plus Lit. She has been published in Honey Literary, Sine Theta Mag, Sidereal Mag, and more. She received her BA in English Literature with an emphasis in Criticism & Theory from University of California, Davis. She will be starting her MFA – Poetry at University of San Francisco in Fall 2021 as a Lawrence Ferlinghetti Fellow.

I Loved School, but School Did Not Love Me by Don Collier

I loved school; impatient for school breaks to end; first day of school was another Christmas, new textbooks, new teachers, new clothes and shoes, finally, a new lunch pail. My love of learning grew as I aged into a firm belief that learning was lifelong; if you stop learning you are dead. I loved school, but school did not love me.

7th  grade, Round Pond School for Negro Children, Clarksville Tennessee, 1962

Class began with its morning rituals, a solemn Lord’s Prayer; all heads bowed with Mrs. Barnes, the principal and teacher, leading the prayer. I wondered if she was really into the prayer or if she was eyeballing the room for sinners not praying. I dare not to raise my head to confirm my suspicion, risking that her gaze might fall on me. The next ritual was the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag followed by punishment. Punishment was done in front of the entire class. The condemned would come to stand in front of the class and at the side of Mrs. Barnes desk; stand with one hand outward, palm up, Mrs. Barnes would administer one swat with a rubber strap, the condemned could not flinch; flinching angered Mrs. Barnes; the condemned were not allowed to cry; children tears angered Mrs. Barnes. One demonstration of this punishment kept a whole class silent and obedient forever.

I witnessed one such punishment; an older girl in the school was observed over the weekend keeping company with a soldier from Fort Campbell just across the state line with Kentucky; standing bravely with one palm up she took the swat without flinching; she returned to her desk, laid her face down into the folds of her arms resting on the desk; she hid her tears and muffled her crying. Mrs. Barnes was an old-fashioned, country teacher that everyone feared and hated. Except my father; one day he picked me up from school, he did not get out of his truck. Mrs. Barnes was angry; all parents came into her classroom to genuflect before her (the talented tenth); she knew them all by first name; all called her Mrs. Barnes in return. She said to me, “you tell Oscar I am mad at him for not coming in to pay his respects.” I told my father this; to my pleasant surprise he said, “I don’t like Mrs. Barnes, when I come to pick you up, you don’t have to say nothing to her; just come on out and get in the truck.” He hated her and was not afraid to say so, unlike so many other adults. I was proud of him that day. For many at this time teachers and preachers stood above reproach. A child who dared to do otherwise would be scolded to stay out of “grown folks’ business.”

I had one very close call with Mrs. Barnes. I was the student with top grades. She called me to her desk; addressing all the class she said, “Donald works hard and gets good grades. So, he will take this ax, holding up for all to see, he will go into the woods to find a Christmas tree for the school.” I went with much trepidation; I didn’t know much about the woods behind the school. However, I spotted a perfect tree right next door across from the meadow playground. My thinking was I could cut down this tree, go off and hide a bit, then triumphantly return dragging the tree behind. I got in two good whacks with the ax; then a woman came excitedly out of the house, “Boy.…boy what are you doing?” I replied, “Mrs. Barnes sent me out to cut down a Christmas tree for the school.” She replied, “I am sure she didn’t want you to chop down my tree! I am going to tell Mrs. Barnes about you. Now git.” I waited and waited for Mrs. Barnes to call me to the front, and say, “Our neighbor said you tried to chop down her tree. Stand still with your palm out. You better not flinch or cry.” But the neighbor, to my great relief, did not report me. Mrs. Barnes lived inside my head for a long time, so did my father’s comforting words.

It was soon after this close call with the rubber strap that a white school board official came to our school for an inspection. Mrs. Barnes showed him around the three classrooms, the kitchen with dining area. She did not introduce him to anybody, not even the other two teachers; he was not introduced to the children or the kitchen lady. Mrs. Barnes was giving him an incredible Uncle Tom performance; big smile, slightly bowed head and lots of“Yes, sa, No, sa.” I was disgusted. She lorded over peasants and factory workers and their children as a superior, educated Negro. None of these peasants and factory workers would do such a public display of Uncle Tom behavior; their dignity would not allow them to do such a thing in front of their own children. I cannot remember a thing I learned in Mrs. Barnes class, but I did not lose my love of school. 

There is, however, one recurring memory of Mrs. Barnes that comes back to me at strange times. Mrs. Barnes walked into the classroom with the shocking announcement, “Children, President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas. You’ll have to walk straight home, don’t wait on the bus to come. When you get home stay inside until the grown-ups get home.” My younger sister and I walked down the gravel road leading to home. She says to me, “What are we going to do if we see a white person?” I replied we will hide in the woods; follow the creek back home.

9th grade, Dana Junior High School, San Pedro, California, 1966

I presented my report card to my mother. My grades were always good. But I told her I was disappointed because I did not make it to the honor roll again; this was at a time when the honor roll meant more than a bumper sticker; honor roll meant your name on a display for all in the school to see. I explained to her how hard I worked to get all A’s; then one teacher gave me a B+. She said to me, “Dem white folks don’t want a black boy on their honor roll.” I just sat dejected; then she said, “Donald, it is not enough to be just as good as the white folks, you got to be better than them.” For years after I carried a resentment towards these teachers who denied me what I had earned. I did not want to believe what my mother had said, but I knew that she was right; the teacher who gave me the B+ had graded all my class work with the highest grade but gave a final grade of B+. My love of school remained with me. Apparently, I am not alone with this. I was talking to a friend I enjoyed talking to. He was an ambitious black student around this same time in Florida, “My mother told me the same thing. She said you got to be twice as smart as the whites. And don’t expect any acknowledgment of this. White folks will not admit to this.” I conclude that ambitious, capable black youth were not prepared for further education; they were ignored.

10th grade San Pedro High School, San Pedro, California, 1968

 On the first day of school following the assassination of Martin Luther King the class was called to stand and pledge allegiance to the Flag; half the class, both black and white students, remained seated and silent. The teacher looked around the classroom but didn’t insist that any student join him if they clearly did not want to. He proceeded in leading those who stood with hand over heart in a lackluster recital. This spontaneous protest went on for a week or so. I was sent to the principal’s office because I would not stop my protest. The principal asked me if I will give up and recite the Pledge. I told him that I will never stand for or recite the Pledge again. I was suspended from school. At this time getting sent home from school was a big deal with the youth dreading how to explain to an upset parent why you were sent home. But my mother said, “Good! You let dem white folks know where you stand.” I felt a moment of euphoria, then she went on,”… it’s in God’s hands now. God will punish them for what they have done.” I didn’t want any help from God. What I wanted was what other black youth wanted; I wanted a gun. King’s pacifism was a control mechanism over angry black youth; Malcolm X’s disciples and the Black Panther Party call for armed self-defense was gaining an audience amongst black youth. Thirty-eight Panthers were shot down, murdered, by the bloody FBI COINTELPRO without firing a shot in return in most cases. This was the fulfillment of a promise made by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that if Negro youth wanted to become revolutionaries, they should understand they will be dead revolutionaries.

I loved school, but school didn’t love me. I never went back to school after this humiliating suspension. My formal education ended here in the 10th grade; I’m self-taught. I joined the revolutionary movement for socialism. It became my school; my love of education returns full measure.

Don Collier is a retired railroad worker with a lifetime itch to write. After retirement, he pulled out old story drafts and wrote new stories.

Sestina by Amy Miles

“Sestina, is that a family name?”  people ask about my  youngest daughter’s middle name.  

Usually, I plunge into the literal definition of the word; it’s a poetic form—six stanzas, each with six lines, the end words fixed and rotating.  Or, I summarize Elizabeth Bishop’s 1965 poem:  a grandchild sits with her grandmother in the kitchen, the grandma cutting bread.  The child drawing.  Outside, it’s raining.  The kitchen is warm and safe.  But already the tears have been planted.  Grief will soon bloom.  In the meantime, the grandma sings; the grandchild draws another “inscrutable” house, one difficult to understand or interpret.  

This then leads me to tell my story:   I was an English major and am now an English teacher.  A homesick, insecure undergraduate, I read for connection and comfort, even in my analytical literature seminars.  Luckily, I had a professor who championed the reader’s response, who told us stories of his life to help us process and connect to modern writers.  His continual refrain:  “seek the disinterested pursuit of the good, the true, and the beautiful.”  All these years later, I can’t remember if he was talking about the characters, the writers, or us—the young student readers.   It was in his class—the one that ultimately saved me from dropping out of college and returning home, the one that turned me from a disengaged business major to a hopeless literature romantic—that I encountered Elizabeth Bishop’s “Sestina.”  George and Barbara Perkins’ Contemporary American Literature anthology provided no context for the poem. As a novice reader, I did not know—or even think—to look for a pattern in the poem; therefore, I merely assumed Sestina was the name of the young granddaughter in the poem.  As I look at my battered anthology now, I see my class notes.  That a sestina is a poem with repeating words. 

While I didn’t pick up on the pattern, I felt so connected to “Sestina.”  It named the unnamable:  the heavy air that hung throughout my childhood.  As I reread this poem now, I see my “Sestina” is just a “child.”  As one who grew up living with my grandparents, I was struck by the relationship between the grandmother and what I assumed was the granddaughter, Sestina.  At eighteen, I could not put into words what struck me.  I just knew that the poem felt like home.

My house with my grandmother did not look like this one; my grandma did not drink tea, although the Mr. Coffeemaker pot seemed always half-full full, tepid black coffee drained from it all day.  She did not consult an almanac or even a cookbook for all the family sweets she would bake in our burnt-orange stove.  Yet, it’s the mood of the poem, the sense that life is passing by, that we just have this moment, this idea that this little granddaughter felt something unnamable in the air–something with the smell of metallic tears— that I could connect with.  My grandmother’s mother died when my grandma was just thirteen, her mother, my great grandmother, just thirty-two.  As my sister and I lived with my mother and grandparents, these ages loomed above us:  would we lose our mother when she was 32?  If only we had an almanac to consult.

When my mom turned 33, I think my sister and I, ages six and four, likely heaved a sigh; the air felt lighter.  Still, though, I had to get to thirteen:  would my mother die before then?  Thankfully, she didn’t.  But my neighbor Lindsay’s mom did. Todd’s dad, too.   Would this looming fate strike me?  Even though we were the only ones on the block with divorced parents and live-in grandparents, my grandma continually told us that we were so lucky to have our mother. And me, so scared that she would be whisked away from me, just as hers was.

Perhaps its Sestina’s poise and calm as she sits drawing that inscrutable house that captured me when I first read the poem; she does not seem scared as she plants the tears in the garden of her Crayola house.  She seems resigned to the fate before her; perhaps the almanac helps—giving insight to the sadnesses ahead.

What if my grandma had an almanac when she was not my grandma, but a thirteen-year-old girl who had just lost her mother in the early 1940s when things were not explained, especially in first-generation, working class Italian families? What if she knew that she would marry the love of her life and be married for fifty-one years?  Have four kids and live to see her great-grandchildren?   Would that have helped her cope with her mother’s death, that grief?  Perhaps it is this question that has pursued me all these years:  if this fate ever struck me or my girls, could we ever recover from such grief?

When I was pregnant, I read a lot of Anna Quindlen, who, at 19, also lost her mother.  Her mother’s loss hangs, bird-like, over each piece of her writing.  The fear does not seem to draw Quindlen away from the present moment, but sink her into it:  in moments of despair, she finds goodness and hope and humanity.  And in some ways, that is how I read Sestina; she’s aware that the tears and sadness will come, but in the present moment there is tea.  There is rain.  There is the grandma.  There is the marvel stove.  There is love and safety in the small, warm kitchen.

All these years I’ve read “Sestina” as me.  I was the granddaughter in the kitchen.  What, though, if Sestina was really my grandmother?  Perhaps I imagine my grandmother and her mother in a warm kitchen in the September rain in a crumbling Chicago apartment, tear-shaped onions dance on the stove, jazz hovers in the air.   In this ordinary moment, they are transcendent.   They are safe, and so am I.  My Sestina, my grandmother as a child, knew her fate and she faced it with dignity and grace and resilience. 

Now, when people ask, about my daughter’s middle name, I tell them:  it’s a family name.

Meditation by Laura Oikawa

No matter what happens, I know that if I combine butter and water in a pan and bring it to a simmer, the two will eventually come together, forming a lovely emulsified sauce. 

I can, with great certainty, confirm that with enough vigor, cream will whip into stiff solid peaks. And further, that if I continue to whisk, the fat and liquid will separate, into butter and buttermilk respectively. 

I cannot emphasize enough how grounding it is, when the world does not make sense, to understand that a boiled egg will be runny at six minutes, jammy at eight, and fully set at ten.

Or, if nothing else, to be able to rely on radishes to taste their best in spring when the earth is green and wet.

Or how soothing it is to watch sugar melt in a pot, gradually taking on richer tones of amber and knowing full well that this browning is exponential. That it will burn before I know it.


When the future feels unclear, I’ll make bread, knowing that patience will pay off.

Knowing that I can lean into flour and water. Knowing that I can trust the dough to rise. 

Perhaps I’ll roast a chicken, finding comfort in needing no more than salt and a hot oven to ensure crisp skin and dependably juicy flesh.

I’ll wash and dry lettuce leaves, a tedious but vital practice, then dress them in oil and vinegar just until they glisten but not until they sop.

I always set the table with good plates and a silver fork. On occasion, a single glass of wine. 

Other times I am not hungry.  In these moments, tea steps in. 

When nothing else seems to add up, chamomile and honey still do.

The Dress Code by Sarah Johnson

The end of middle school had finally arrived and with it, the freedom to ditch our uniform and wear whatever we wanted for the last month of the year. The shedding of the school skirt was our most iconic rite of passage into high school. We chatted for weeks about which outfit we would wear on the first non-uniformed day. We would finally look normal, no longer broadcasting our affiliation with a prestigious all-girls school. Everyone smiled and relaxed, unbounded by the stiff blue skirt that had encircled our waists for the past four years.

The Friday before the change, the head of the middle school, Mrs. Rupert, gathered the entire 8th grade class in one room and announced that she would review the dress code with us. We looked at each other and repeated the words in whispers. There had been no mention of a dress code before. This was supposed to be our moment of freedom when we got the right to wear what we wanted.

She spat out forbidden styles: bra straps and exposed midriffs, low-cut tops and high-cut shorts, towering stilettos and flip-flops. She warned against inappropriate writing or images printed on t-shirts. Although we no longer wore the school skirt, Mrs. Rupert reminded us, we still represented our prestigious school and had to dress accordingly.

The most shocking part of the dress code was that skirts and shorts had a length limit: no shorter than the middle of your thigh. In four years, no one had measured the length of our skirts. In fact, many girls rolled their uniform’s waist band to hike the skirt up and show off their legs. Was Mrs. Rupert now going to walk around with a ruler or was it meant as an empty threat to discourage booty shorts that let our butt cheeks hang out? We all looked around the room, silently guessing who would be the first to test this rule.

Mrs. Rupert reminded us that in order to be treated like adults, we had to act responsibly. The right to ditch the uniform was a privilege and if we didn’t follow the dress code, that privilege could be taken away. She scanned the room with her bulging-eyes, daring each one of us to challenge her authority. Satisfied that no one was going to jump up with a fist in the air and shout a slogan like “power to the people,” she continued her threats. She informed us that she kept a collection of uniform skirts and school sweatshirts in her office. If anyone was caught in violation of the dress code, they would be forced to don the blue yoke of shame that was the school skirt.

Satisfied that she had scared us into compliance, Mrs. Rupert wished us a happy weekend. Her wrinkly cheeks pushed back in a smile but her eyes showed only animosity as she prepared for the battle of dress code enforcement. We no longer excitedly described our outfits for Monday morning but itemized articles of clothing that might not pass inspection. We strategized what spare clothing to keep in our lockers so we would never have to wear the dreaded skirt again. 


Sunday night I opened my closet and inspected my new spring clothing. There were khaki capri pants, a long blue and white floral skirt, and a pink striped dress with a matching fabric belt. No spaghetti straps or bare midriffs and no offensive words or images. I also had three pairs of shorts. I needed to know if I should expect Mrs. Rupert to chase me with a ruler so I took the shorts to my mother, a former fashion designer with extensive knowledge of clothing measurements.

I briefed her on Mrs. Rupert’s dress code threats and asked her how to define the “middle of the thigh.” Her answer was simple and mathematical: halfway between the knee and hip. I probed further, trying to cover every pitfall: what is the knee, exactly? the center of the knee cap? the top of it? And does hip mean the hip bone or the widest part of the butt as sizing charts show?

Together we took a tape measure to my hip bone and knee cap with the diligence of the scientific method I was taught at school. I put on each pair of shorts and my mother measured from hip to hem, from knee cap to hem, and from hip to knee cap, on both legs. She recorded the measurements, checking them two and three times to prevent errors. One by one, each pair of shorts measured exactly at the middle of my thigh. I tried sitting down and standing up a few times to make sure the shorts didn’t shift higher. Still, the hem of the shorts measured exactly at the middle of my thigh. I was ready to face Mrs. Rupert and her ruler.

Monday morning I opted for the safe choice and wore the capri pants. Instead of discussing our English essay or the math quiz results, the school day was one big fashion show. Girls twirled in front of each other and felt fabrics between thumbs and fingers. The array of outfits was astounding. Shorts, skirts, dresses, and pants. No one wore the dark blue color of our uniforms. It was a forbidden shade now, a reminder of the years spent wrapped up in the stiff skirt.

By the end of the week, the excitement of our wardrobes faded and our focus returned to school work, although we stayed on alert for Mrs. Rupert. She didn’t carry a ruler but when she was spotted, anyone wearing shorts that only reached their upper thigh scattered, running for cover in classrooms and the bathroom.

Friday that week, the temperature rose and I decided to try my shorts. I had seen so many bare-skinned thighs all week that I felt confident in my meticulously measured middle-of-the-thigh shorts. I wore an orange and white checked button-down shirt with short sleeves and olive green shorts. I felt free and light as I walked through the halls. It wasn’t an outfit that drew attention, just one that made me feel the promise of spring, before summer turns everything sticky with humidity. I forgot about the dress code and went about my day. Until lunch time.

I was at my locker, stashing my books before going to the cafeteria when I heard whispers and saw students scatter. Mrs. Rupert was strolling the hallway. I took my time and calmly closed my locker, assured in the measured validity of my shorts. She veered towards me and smiled in her mechanical way. 

She informed me that my shorts were too short. I informed her that I measured multiple times and they were exactly at the middle of my thigh. She repeated that they were too short. I lost my composure. I measured. What more could I say? Surely in a school that prides itself on academic exploration, measurements and data were indisputable proof that I was following the dress code. Mrs. Rupert calmly said, “Measurements don’t mean anything.” 

I thought I was going to faint. Here, the head of the middle school, a seasoned veteran of the education system, a woman in charge of instilling knowledge into young women was denying the validity of measurements. She was denying the very foundation of the school that she not only represented but was in charge of. I had wasted the last four years of science and math classes, learning to use the scientific method to gather reliable data to understand the world around us, only to be told that measurements are meaningless.  

She led me to her office where she held out a stiff blue skirt. I had no choice but to put it on. I took the skirt and trudged to the bathroom where I changed out of my shorts, still crisp and new, and wrapped the skirt around my waist once again. 

I hung my head the rest of the day and didn’t talk to anyone. My classmates stared at me, their heads tilted with pity, mumbling apologies as they passed. I counted the number of girls wearing shorts that were shorter than mine: 13. Why had I been made an example of? Why didn’t Mrs. Rupert value the measurements?

When I got home, I stuffed all my new shorts in the bottom of a drawer, ashamed of their meaningless measurements. On Saturday, I went shopping again but turned to the men’s section of the store instead. If women’s shorts weren’t respectable enough for Mrs. Rupert’s dress code, then I would wear the longest shorts I could find. All the shorts in the men’s section reached far below the middle of my thigh, some even covered my knees. I bought three pairs of men’s shorts with large pockets hanging off the sides, which drooped, pulling the fabric lower, hiding my thighs completely.

I wore those men’s shorts every day. When Mrs. Rupert stalked the hallways looking for dress code violations, I willed her to notice my shorts. She never did. Since I showed no skin above the knees, I didn’t warrant a second look. I hid in plain sight in baggy male clothing. I felt victorious in the subversive way I followed her dress code rules but Mrs. Rupert had actually won the battle by convincing me to keep my thighs safely shrouded in fabric. Spring was no longer a time to feel light and carefree, shedding layers of winter clothing. Instead, I was burdened by the weight of long shorts, hiding the shame of my thighs in men’s clothing as I sulked into my teenage years.

The Undrowning by Faith Hanna

Take a little life out of it; it’ll make it feel more real.

I was drowning in the criticism. In criticizing them. The others. The ones that wouldn’t lose. The delusional. The ones we meme against. My judgement is a shallowing of breath. Tense chest. Constricted fingers. Clenched gluts. Holding in. 

Outside, the rain makes sidewalk slick with wet leaves. Trails slippery with mud. Streets glisten with a kind of cleaning. The air is limpid but profuse. Condensation moves in its respective layers: sinuous tufts are highest, then diffuse eddies, thick fog hangs lowest. This is after the downpour.

My own tears feel delayed. As if the quacking begins as undetectable, and requires hours and sometimes days to gain momentum. The build is a fizzy unease, below skin squirming. Low-key, it builds, and builds. So I wake up with itchy eyes. I rub the parched orbs. Oiling them.

And then, when I’m lucky, I cry. Tremble long enough for waves to rush chest, swell up throat, seizing it, burning the back of my mouth until they crest into my eyes, crash down on shores of skin. This is how the water erupts, as if from my lungs; as if pumped up by my heart. The beat, beat, beat pushing up the tides. Rushing them out onto the sandy patches of my cheeks. 

Inhales are dry, and exhales floods of moisture.

Afterwards, I run. Out by pop-up tamale and arroz con leche stand. Past the Sheffield home for convalescents. Through the loose line of workers always on the corner of Folsom and 26th. I run up steep sidewalk carpeted with deep-yellow gingko leaves, fallen foliage looking up to where it used to belong: bare branches against a grey-streaked heaven.

The words in Spanish for drown is ahogar; desahogar literally means to undrown, and technically to release. What’s in your heart. What’s in your chest. The word that means to undrown in Spanish, desahogar, is a word about releasing water.

I wish my clouds rained the way I wanted them to. They take their time. Sometimes I am too clear to feel. And then it storms, positively pouring out. It happens when the heart beat beat beats up a rush of healing.

I was drowning in the clarity of criticism. I was flowing in greyness loving them. The others. Who don’t want to be alone. Or shut down. Or threatened. Or sick. Shoulders unbound. Eyes soft. Belly loose. Fists gone . The waters take me to and then from the Other. Where I can see that we are the same. We want to have the courage of our convictions. But to be all right, we can’t all be right. Let’s cry instead.

Above, the sky is undrowned. Below, the chest is undrowned. Around, skin glistens. 

The Fairy Garden by Walliann Wisniewski

It is hard to create something from nothing where something already exists. So, with a bit of sadness, the bright pink rhododendron bush that outgrew its space, the rose bush that had been groomed once too many times and any plant with thorns was pulled. Fairies don’t like thorns. A blank space remained. A canvas on which a fairy garden would bloom. 

~~The relationship between my mother and I was a tenuous one since my father passed nearly 10 years ago. We were buddies, my dad and me, and on that day I lost my biggest fan. 

The first thing I did was to add pounds of dirt to my space. Fresh dirt—with its story yet to be told—was mixed with dirt from 1978, the year the house was built. It was ours to take care of now, and I wanted fairies to help watch over my children.

~~Trying to understand why folks are the way they are is never easy. We are so affected by our pasts that unless we let them go, moving forward is tough. My mom came of age before Title IX, before equity for women in a household with a misogynistic parent. Although she managed to break a cycle of violence, she never realized that, and ultimately has been consumed by what she has tried to escape. Therapy is for the weak. And doctors are often stupid. 

I took great care in choosing my plants and arranging them in my garden. The colors had to be bright and vibrant and had to complement each other. There were just enough plants chosen to fill the space yet not crowd each other. My daughter willingly helped me plant, and I was thrilled for that time to talk, for her to understand that I wasn’t just creating a hippie house. 

~~When I got my PhD, my mother embraced it as if it were hers. I pursued that degree to prove to myself that I could handle the rigors of a PhD program as an advisor once told me I could not. That degree came with perseverance and lots of tears. And Academia has never been good to me. After all, who really cares about applying 21st century views to a work written in the 16th century? So when I took a 5 year break, to build a business from scratch I was deemed a fool. 

I put down the layer of weed repellant and added over thirty bags of 40lbs of stone. The tiredness I felt was well earned as the space was starting to take shape. Hostas lined the back of the garden whose centerpiece was a large blue hydrangea. That blue hydrangea was given as a gift by a neighbor to her friend, the woman who lived here before us.  I wanted to honor that friendship but the plant was accidentally pulled. I replaced it with another blue hydrangea. 

~~Giving my mother a place in my store I opened when I burned out from teaching proved to be as detrimental as travelling with her had been. In our zeal to help her realize life could be beautiful, we included her on trips all over the Southeast. We did so with pleasure. She came back at me years later telling me she was a burden that we were saddled with. Nothing had been further from the truth, but her mind was made up. At this point, she had begun to hate my husband, which made holidays and everything else difficult. In the store it was hard for her to accept that I was boss. And that I knew what I was doing. So, I left the store that I had built from nothing and was my happy place. 

On an idea from my husband, glass pebbles and stepping stones were added to my fairy garden. The colored pebbles glisten in the sunlight, drawing attention to the beauty of the flowers. More pebbles are on their way. The garden is taking shape. I added a colored stake that my daughter bought with her own money at a fair many years ago—an ode to time passed and our new normal. I also added a flower stake constructed from forks and spoons. 

~~My husband was miserable at his job, my kids school was going in a direction I wasn’t happy with and I did not have a job other than the store. The timing seemed right for a move. However, “I was making a mistake. I made a mistake 17 years ago. I deserve better. He isn’t good enough for you. I am an excellent teacher. Go back to the university and beg for a job. What will you do? Oh you got a job? Well, you won’t be happy with it…”

I ordered a zen meditation troll. He is adorable and I really wonder if he should be on my shoulder instead of in the fairy garden. The fairy houses have begun to trickle in. The happy gnome comes later. The houses will sit on the stepping stones that will attach to them somehow. My flaw is a lack of being spatial and fairy objects really are much smaller than they appear. So, in order for them not to blow over in the Bellingham winds, they must be glued somehow. 

–I spoke sparingly with my mother in the first year we left. Her tone was always cold to me, blaming me for taking her grandchildren away.  She did not have to say anything. I knew. I had friends trying to convince her otherwise, but her mind was made up. Though we had hoped she would come with us, she isn’t in that place yet. The quarantine has softened her, and after years of protesting technology, she skyped with me and my son this past Friday. “I am heavy. I do not look good. I am not healthy. He isn’t good for me. I am heavy cause I am stressed. Alex’s hair looks awful…” That last part is sadly true. I mean, I cut it myself. 

Right now the fairies and their houses sit in my living room waiting for their neighborhood to arrive. Within the next week and a half, it will be finished. Technically, anyway. But as yet again I have built something where there once was nothing, it is always going to be a work in progress.

 Walli Ann Wisniewski has a PhD in Latin American Literature from Penn State University. She lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, 2 kids and 2 kittens. She teaches at Whatcom Community College. She enjoys memoir and hopes to publish a collection of her essays someday. 

Pandemic From California by Kiran Bains Sahota

August. The haze in the sky is thick, like a slate smog stretched thin over a blaring sun. It looks as if heat will rain. I can picture it: sizzling bolts of light touching down, the earth jittery from its touch. Some gnats collide into the glass of my window, as if they seek shelter with me. The round bodies stagger elsewhere; some drop into the cracks of the concrete far below the sill. 

I was throwing out the trash some moments before I grabbed my pen to write. The sun, a neon citrus ball in the sky, blazed fiercely as if to remind me that it too is made of the same fire that burns through California. Little patches of grayish-white descended from the slate ceiling. I wanted to stretch my tongue out, as if it were snow––as if, for the first time in almost 6 months, I was somewhere new––but the acidic smell of burnt wood made my nose wrinkle behind my mask. The air is dangerous. I could see it, drifting onto a blanket of ash settling along the lid of the garbage bin. A cloud of gnats shimmered a few yards away and I wondered if they were as unsettled, intermixing with the powdery residue.

I bent back the lid of the bin, the rancid smell of smoke intermixed with the stench of soiled scraps. Some ash fell in and stuck to streaks of grease. The heat pulled at my skin as I watched. The ash drifted until it dressed the cement, the thick, thirsty leaves of the bushes, and the whirring box pumping cold air into the house that has been my only place of rest, work, and socialization since quarantine started. I closed the lid, accepting that I’d thrown away the whole summer in that elastic bag of tattered tickets, invisible smiles, and expired invitations.

But as I watch behind my window now, concealed in my shelter with my cheek free to rest on my palm, I realize this isn’t the first time that ash has fallen in heaps or that plumes of smoke pretended to be clouds. It’s also not the first-time people have been sick, or that politics have been unmasked. But it’s the first time I’ve grown tired of it all happening at once. 

Tink. I focus beyond my reflection. Another gnat. I wonder if they’re tired too, slamming into the glass barricade that I know how to open. I look down from my window. The ash must’ve slipped into the cracks of the pavement too. I hope the gnats that fell will rise again. I can picture them doing so; the tiny, winged creatures dodging what must feel like chunks of their world crumbling around them. But they’ll do it. They’ll fly up, go back to their cloud of family, friends, and potential love. And I can only hope that when the smoke clears, we can do the same.

Getting Fragonard’s Goat

A cabinet painting, measuring only 12″ by 7″ in Gallery 7 of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, is half the size of a neighboring Watteau (1684-1721). The artist, 38-year-old Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), was Watteau’s true successor as a specialist in romantic comedy. Both artists exemplify the French Rococo’s appetite for depictions of contemporaries at play on the fields of Love—not some noble Baroque ideal impossible to attain and doomed to a tragic conclusion, but as a non-binding contract for mutual pleasure apt to produce double entendres and slapstick. Fragonard is especially gifted at composing scenes of bedroom farce.[1] The Useless Resistance (La Résistance Inutile)[2], a slap-dash oil sketch painted around 1770, was once more accurately called Jeune femme frappant un garconnet avec un oreiller (Young woman hitting a little boy with a pillow)[3], because while that physical gesture is clear, everything else is ambiguous. A more literal title would be The Satyr split in two, but that would spoil the viewer’s enjoyment of a long-fuse punchline that depends on patient perusal and appraisal of the scene. Fragonard uses composition, value, brushwork, non-finito, and his familiarity with classical Graeco-Roman mythology, to tease the viewer into a consideration of sexual desire as an infuriating yet potentially endearing faux pas.

Why do people fight in a boudoir? Perhaps to determine what constitutes pleasure and negotiate limits. Fragonard shows a dominant female figure in a blaze of light on muted ground, upper right, facing an indistinct body lower left, half-in, half-out of frame. A discarded peignoir drapes a chair, right foreground. The seated nymph, legs under her, having wound-up to throw a pillow, tilts her head with a look half-fond, half-annoyed, that suggests familiarity. Her radiantly blonde hair, creamy flesh, white nightdress—all rendered in palpable brushstrokes—initially blind us to any surrounding shadowy behavior. Interpreting the vestigial daubs, left: with tousled hair or feathered cap, in turquoise jacket with lacy sleeve, a boy hides his face from her (but not us) behind a barrage of bedclothes. What is going on? A showdown in the boudoir: a proposal and a refusal.

Not far from Jeune femme, somewhat obscured by a reflective plexiglass case, is a terracotta figure, only 12″ by 18″, by 27-year-old (Claude Michel) Clodion (1738-1814): The River Rhine Separating the Waters (1765). The two works have much in common. As an idealized avatar of gender, Rhine is as manly and muscled as Jeune femme is doll-like and pert-breasted. The less intimate Rhine is caught in a similar moment of physical exertion: his waters alone can divide the territories of the West-bank Gauls from the East-bank Germans.[4] Arms fully extended over a head thrown back with mouth agape, his hands gripping the cosmic water urn, he lies on his side on the rough rocks of the riverbank, stretching out his lean torso, the crux of his rippling thighs hidden by a river plant’s long clinging leaves. Shifted to a vertical position, Rhine’s urn would look not unlike Jeune femme’s pillow—except he hangs on as it gushes willy-nilly, while she must throw hers. Both figures are heroic: active, decisive, in control of a volatile situation—incarnating the energy and urgency of their virtuoso creators.

The advantage of Clodion’s terracotta in modeling the human form is its soft, warm plasticity, plus a 360-degree view from the feet up of Rhine’s shapely legs scissor-kicking the air. The back reveals how vigorously Clodion worked the clay, poking and slashing the rocks, prefiguring Rodin’s fingerprints. The advantage of Fragonard’s oil is mystery, as veils of color are applied in layers from dark to light. Atop a base coat of sepia, he lays down tangible brushstrokes in a muted palette of rose, gold, and green to surround and contrast Jeune femme in her “painted-on” nightgown. A closer inspection of the dusky bedclothes, lower left, reveals the presence of a third wheel, making this a ménage à trois, or threesome. Hidden in plain sight below the boy’s torso, sketched-in with a few flicks of the brush, are the shapely hindquarters of an ungulate or hooved beast (surreptitiously nuzzling its way under the bedclothes, perhaps searching for, or already nibbling, a parsnip lure). Further right, the sepia peaks[5] of a pair of horns under the sheet betray the mystery guest: a goat. What a cheeky prank to play! No wonder she’s throwing a pillow. Or is there more to it?

Besides being everyday barnyard creatures, goats have a surprisingly sacred Antique Greek pedigree, having been sacrificed on altars at civic theatrical festivals featuring tragedy (literally, “goat song”), comedy, and satyr plays[6]. A satyr is half-goat (legs), half-human (torso), being one of those creations “which represented, in the Greek imagination, the irrational elements of human nature, the remnants of animal impulse that the Olympian religion had attempted to sublimate or subdue,” as Kenneth Clark notes in The Nude.[7] Both Fragonard and Clodion, as winners of the Prix de Rome, were sent by the Académie Royale to Italy for years of study, which included copying antique sculpture.

For Clodion, satyrs became something of a specialty.[8] Although it’s off-exhibit, the Legion owns a variation on this theme: Nymph and Satyr (1776), a 14″ x 9″ terracotta of a gleeful young satyr hunkered down with a nymph astride his shoulder. This very soigné work, betraying no mark of its maker’s hand, is a miracle of comparative anatomy and over-determined sex roles: male muscles devolve into hairy goat hindlegs and hooves, while Nymph’s smooth limbs are tender-skinned, limp, and sprawled. Satyr’s contracted body looks set to suddenly spring, while his groggy passenger lolls: Nymph with her high, pubescent breasts and childishly open eyes and lips, holds the Bacchante’s grapes signifying intoxication. Although elevated in her ecstasy, she depends entirely on his desire, and is reduced to its object. There’s no real mystery here, only a sublimely skillful rendering of two erotically charged bodies in flagrante delicto[9] of kidnap, rape, or ravishment in the euphoric Eleusinian tradition. In the year of the American Revolution, Clodion announces a regression to Neo-Classicism, a stultifyingly square-edged suppression of the subtle, supple, subversive Rococo that runs from Marie-Antoinette through the Directoire into the long night of Empire.

Fragonard prefers to tease his viewer with an innovative look at the battle of the sexes, using the same composition. Tipping the Clodion on its side in a truly revolutionary gesture, he levels the playing field: Boy’s face atop Goat’s derrière vs. Nymph. By deconstructing the Satyr, he demystifies male sexual arousal and relocates lust in the goat which enables Nymph to set her own erotic agenda. Because his sketch is fundamentally farce, he delays the viewer’s aha moment. Strategically highlighting Nymph, he forces us to backtrack right to left, following her gaze and Boy’s outstretched hand. Postponement of pleasure is integral to Jeune femme’s charm, which is thus not called, “Young woman thwarting ambush by boy with goat.” Towering over him, in full possession of her wits, and looking more like an older sister than a girlfriend, Nymph delivers her “Non.” Perhaps the lad is mocking her dawning eroticism—budding like her breasts—even as he discovers his own. So she lashes out, in embarrassed self-consciousness, with a soft weapon. He lies doggo, but once her temper subsides, he might continue to push the goat. Where will it end? Perhaps in better mutual appreciation.

Fragonard’s inventions did not spring full-grown from his paintbrush. François Boucher (1703-70), working for La Pompadour, had previously blurred gender boundaries[10] in an adolescent wet dream of sexual equality, sprinkled with lesbian proclivities. Fragonard expands this vision through an evocation of shared emotions and reciprocal desires, proliferating charming images of happy heterosexuals at play in the bosom of Nature modeling the latest Paris fashions. This feat of léger-de-main exemplifies the je ne sais quoi of the French Rococo so admired and feared around the globe. By splitting apart the venerable mascot of classical male lust into component parts—boy’s breast and goat’s hips—the painter transforms the randy, leering letch into a naïve supplicant, unsure of himself and a bit abashed by his own impulses. Further, he portrays the nymph not in a moment of abandon, submission, or complicity, but registering her displeasure. Fragonard reinterprets classically irrational urges in a visual conundrum of sexual attraction that lets us laugh at Love.[11]


[1] Anne L. Schroder, “Fragonard’s Later Career: The Contes and Nouvelles and the Progress of Love Revisited,” The Art Bulletin 93, no. 2 (June 2011), 150-77.

[2] Other Fragonards of the same title have different compositions.

[3] Pierre Rosenberg, Fragonard, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art (1988): 310.

[4] According to the website of the Kimbell Art Museum, which owns a similar statuette, the Rhine “grips the mouth of the urn, causing the water to flow in two streams. The subject derives from the Roman historian Tacitus’s Germania (A.D. 98) and alludes to the Rhine dividing the territory of the Gauls on the west bank from that of the Germans to the east.” https://www.kimbellart.org/collection/ap-198405, accessed November 11, 2019.

[5] Peaks emblematic of erection.

[6] A fascinating genre of Greek play beyond the scope of this paper.

[7] The Nude, Garden City, New York: Doubleday Anchor Books (1959), 358.

[8] “While the depth of Clodion’s experience with the imagery of Greek and Roman art can hardly be overstated, the deliciously charged rhythms, only hinted at in the reliefs on Roman sarcophagi, are entirely his own. Clodion made such works for the delectation of connoisseurs during his stay in Rome from 1762 to 1771.” James David Draper, “French Terracottas,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin XLIX, no. 3 (1991/92), 25.

[9] “In the very act of committing a misdeed” or “in the midst of sexual activity” and “literally, while the crime is blazing.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/in%20flagrante%20delicto, November 24, 2019.

[10] Melissa Hyde, “Confounding Expectations: Gender Ambiguity and François Boucher’s Painted Pastorals,” Eighteenth Century Studies 30, no.1 (1996), 25-57.

[11] Unless PC has corrupted our wits.

Written By: Erin Blackwell

Photos By: Erin Blackwell


The hall is dark. The mood is blissful. My breathing is natural. Relaxed.

In community with 49 others, my body is gleaming, serene. Glowing. Suddenly my mind veers off. My thoughts race back to Trump’s remarks earlier today during his celebratory speech—the day after his impeachment acquittal—flaming, toxic, hazardous. Vile.

Only the tranquil voice of my yoga instructor stops me from falling into an agitated state. Towards the end of practice, as he walks around the studio contemplating bodies laid down in “savasana,” resting pose, he thanks the class for joining “the conspiracy of yoga.”

Conspiracy. My third eye chakra jolts into action.

He explains its Latin roots, conspirare; con– (“with, together”) and spirare (“to breathe”): to breathe together. So I breathe—deeply, consciously. I came to practice this evening seeking solace from a day—no, a week—no, a year—three years—of being bombarded by constant claims of political conspiracies.

Trump claims that the Russian collusion investigation, “the witch hunt,” conspired against him; that Democrats, “the deep state,” conspired against him; that the press, “the enemy of the people,” conspired against him; that judges, with “an absolute conflict,” conspired against him; that his former lawyer, who “lied a lot,” conspired against him. An unknowing participant in a different kind of conspiracy, I now lay momentarily at ease.

My yoga practice is usually a special time to consider, to imagine, to believe. But this evening, it all feels just like an inconsequential sequence of poses that don’t quite distract me from our cruel political reality. After four or, worse, eight years, we’ll start moving on from Trump’s Doctrine and begin healing the many social, environmental, and moral wounds he’s inflicting on our country and the rest of the world. Trying once more to be considerate, to be imaginative, to be a believer, I deepen my “pranayama,” my breathing. In, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight; hold; I breathe calm in between my thoughts; hold; out, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

My instructor’s striking of the singing bowl that marks the end of yoga practice takes my mind to a contemplative threshold. My thoughts take an imaginative leap and ride the crescendo sounds into a harmonious reality.


In this alternative reality, Trump discovers the conspiracy of yoga, but instead of launching an investigation, he sees an opportunity for himself. Without consulting his advisers or his family, and careful not to alienate his base completely, he becomes a devout Christian yogi. True to his nature, he anoints himself The Great Conspirator during a ceremony hosted by Chief Justice Roberts at the Supreme Court, promising “to lead the nation with equanimity, love, and compassion for all.” Trump celebrates the occasion with one of his classic Twitter compulsions that ends with an iconic 3 a.m. tweet, “I’m #TheGreatConspirator.”

To comply with his first executive order as The Great Conspirator, he leads a daily yoga practice from the White House, in the Rose Garden. The 30-minute yoga session—short because, after all, he still has to run the government and lead the free world—is broadcast at 12Noon EST on C-Span, all network television stations, and all social media platforms. This program signals real change to his opponents and supporters.

Flanked by members of his inner circle, whom Trump calls “warriors,” he opens the session with a brief silent meditation and then guides the streaming audience through “Virabhadra” poses: warrior one, two, three, reverse, and humble warrior. Humble warrior in particular requires an incredible amount of strength and balance alongside a great measure of humility. Stepping into a modified runner’s lunge, he bows forward tucking his chin to his chest, and with his hands clasped behind his back, he reaches forward. This pose proves to be Trump’s biggest challenge, for his ego and hair struggle to surrender. Ultimately they do, and soon he masters all five poses.

Monday through Friday, video cameras catch members of Trump’s cabinet and the Republican party rushing through the West Wing with gym bag in tow, untying their ties, and loosening their blouses, heading into the Roosevelt Room just opposite the Oval Office for a quick change, and stepping out all decked out in yoga outfits.

Attorney General Barr favors a pair of knee-length shorts and a long sleeve shirt; Secretary of Education DeVos prefers long leggings and a rather simple short sleeve top; Secretary of State Pompeo chooses a slimming color block set while Vice President Pence goes modest with track pants and a dark t-shirt; and Senate Majority Leader McConnell dons old school sweatpants and a sweatshirt. They all wear their red, white, and blue uniforms proudly and sponsor satellite sessions at each of their offices every week.

Flexing his newly acquired power of gentle persuasion, Trump compels the nation in just one month with calmly crafted daily tweets, to join the yoga program which he trademarks as The Great Conspiracy. Ratings for the daily yoga session in the Rose Garden break previous C-Span, network, and cable ratings. Riding Trump’s wave of favorability, The American Heart Association, in partnership with Yoga Journal, launches a new public health campaign of awareness and action against high cholesterol. In honor of the #TheGreatConspirator’s healthy achievements and well-being, the campaign is branded Trump Your Cholesterol. The campaign first aims to target two of the most affected demographic groups in the United States: white adult women who are among Trump’s staunchest supporters, and Hispanic men, ironically Trump’s most targeted group before his enlightenment.


But thoughts of Trump’s bombastic and divisive accusations in real life ricochet off my mat and jerk my mind back to reality. I breathe in, slowly, hold, slowly, I breathe out. Again, in, slowly, hold, slowly, out.


Inspired by the success of his domestic Great Conspiracy program, Trump, always willing for more, sets his sights next on the international arena. Hoping to help repair the damage he caused in the last three years, he crafts a new conspiracy doctrine of unity, truth, and reconciliation. He begins a world tour coaching other world leaders on the theory and practice of non-denominational yoga, so they too can develop their own great conspiracy. Still the most influential political figure in Europe even during her lame duck term, Angela Merkel agrees to be his co-host for the European leg of the tour. Trump wraps up the tour with a bilingual Spanish-English summit in Mexico.

Always thinking about branding, on his way back to the U.S. Trump asks Ivanka “Yael,” his favorite child and herself a Jewish convert, to file an amendment to his trademark, minting The Greatest Conspiracy—a classic Trump move, to better position himself in history’s grace among the greatest U.S. presidents.

Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, saving the state of the union. Franklin D. Roosevelt created the New Deal in 1933, saving capitalism. Donald J. Trump launched The Greatest Conspiracy in 2020, restoring our moral compass.


The dissipating sounds of the singing bowl gently carry my mind back to my resting body. As I roll to my right side into a final fetal position, I contemplate the awesome beauty of that fleeing alternative reality, and I loathe the gruesome one that awaits me outside the yoga studio. A made-for-tv reality in which Trump unleashes the wrath of his social media followers on anyone he labels as Never Trumper, takes funding away from healthcare and education to build a wall on our southern border, limits environmental protections, and detains immigrant children in makeshift cages. A reality in which the “prana,” life force, is depleted from our
moral authority.


The mood is dark. The nation is lamenting. My breathing is shallow. Desperate.

Written By: Francisco Delgadillo

Visual Art “Spitblossoms Gift”

By: Spitblossoms, AKA Carlos Benjamin Ortega-Haas

CCSF student, Bay Area born and Tijuana-raised, Spitblossoms is a visual artist and successful musician who has always found joy and meaning in realizing his artistic visions and sharing with a community of artists. For Spitblossoms, art is a meditation, release, source of pride and sustenance that helps him perfect his vision, overcome hardship, and continue to push forward to achieve his goals and dreams.