excerpt from a “Tongo Type” poem • Mimi Gonzalez-Barillas
The Miss • Sara Pacelko
Echoes • Rough Cut Press
A year ago my heart broke at dawn; you’ll read about it in this issue, where we explore the theme of survival.
The first thing I noticed after I finally began to sleep, eat, and breathe again, was how much compassion cascaded through my stomach every time I interacted with another person; I could feel their hearts because mine was so raw.
Every choice we make has its echoes. So, stay strong and be kind.
Thomas Fire • Journey Wade-Hak
I’m still in bed when I hear you scream; the bullets in your voice tell me you just found your nightmare, dead.
The sky is clogged and the sun is yolky, casting red shadows on your hands while we drive to the vet; California burns. There’s ash in my mouth.
I wish you didn’t have to know that cremating a 4 lb chihuahua costs $47.00. I hand over my grey credit card to the manicured receptionist with the manicured smile; she asks whether you want a private cremation for $195.00 instead (they’ll ship you the ashes for free), but you’re weeping too hard to answer.
I ask: “where will you put the group ashes?” and the receptionist says, “I have no idea,” and you say, “it doesn’t matter.”
Your dog is wrapped in her favorite blanket—the one with the garish, green, yellow, orange, pink hearts. I hate that fucking blanket because it’s so cheerful; now I’m staring at it hoping for a breath or a kick.
You hand your dog to the vet and collapse in the ashy parking lot. Your eyes are raw and red; you beg me to turn back time. I try to figure out how. You tell me it’s your fault.
You should have kept the dogs inside. You should have realized that she was going to get her head stuck in that black plastic water pipe when you saw her playing with it; you went to the grocery store instead.
I Google “where do dog ashes go?” because I want to tell you that she is going to turn into a tree or a tulip, but Google says that ashes are bad for living things.
So I don’t say anything.
The yolky sun sets.
“This is loaded up with my cigarette & joint butts as well as some of my hair—it’s called Thank Me For Smoking.” • Lauren K. Dougherty
Survival looks like me driving a rundown old red station wagon with a depressed blue velvet bench down the 405 freeway at rush hour.
Abuse sounds like her on all fours on the bench beside me, facing me, screaming through my eardrum. She played alto sax for 10 years so her lung capacity is limitless. She’s fucking loud, and her voice is like a blade.
I cross four congested lanes and pull over. She opens the door and runs. My inner ear rings for days.
Survival looks like me going to all her shows, regardless. People come up to me every night and ask, “isn’t she amazing?” and every time I say:
“Of course,” grinning.
Red • Rough Cut Press
The Body, Container
tears well form the cave of sorrows
banging against the cage of bones
sharing company with a heart pumping
memory scented lung air full
of caught breaths names
of gods we’ve swallowed
whole to churn
in our bellies hungering
for mamma manna milk
given up to water
a field of new skin