Creative Writing

Youth Culture.

By Julien Tuast

We are cut from the same cloth
We are pill in a mouth
We are tear filled with eyes
We are nothing made into something

The repeated cycle of awkwardness
Hands stained from past mistakes
Broken heart culture
Soft spoken truth

We are the youth
We are the disappointment of a past generation
Yet we improved on their behavior
Isn’t that sad

We are not lazy
It’s the procrastination
Of this nation
That’s got me upset

So I grabbed my bags and I left
To a bigger place
With bigger stakes
Were I have everything to lose

So please listen to your youth
We don’t want to endure anymore mental abuse
You want us back
But you hold us back

Horrified by the horrors you enact
Actions have consequences
So I breathe in positive air
And exhale meaning full content

So with your consent
Let me proclaim
This is the interlude to the end
This is where I stand 


Butterfly Girl, year 2019

by Julien Tuast

I’m desperately, frantically reaching out
But the air isn’t thick enough to hold
So I hold myself
Yet I feel the electricity from your finger tip
Tingling me from under my skin.
Such a beauty like a rose
The Garden of Eden must be jealous
They say perfection is unreachable
But my attraction to you is undeniable
When I first saw you it was unbelievable
I never know angels where allowed to walk among normal people
And in that instant I know
I wanted more, not less
Feeling, not sex
I wanted you and not them
I traded in plastic girls.
For you, my butterfly girl.


The Ember

Julianna Speers

Zarel is a jerk.

“Hothead!” Wait for it. “Fire top!” Yep. Called it.

Just ten minutes of peace and quiet, please! I’ve only gotten about three minutes into my favorite TV show, Greek Drama High. I am intrigued by how realistic they can make a full-sized Mount Olympus look. Thanks to my personal headache creator, AKA my brother, I am missing what the main character’s first lines are.

“Your hair is so bright that it looks like a fire! Let me go get the marshmallows!” I can’t help I was born a redhead!

“Zarel! STOP!”

Of course, he won’t, though. No. To him staying home making fun of me is more entertaining than to a two-year-old spitting food across his parents’ face.

“Your hair-” “ZAREL COSMOS!”

That’s when it happens. Slowly, starting in my core and eventually making its  way through every part of my body; to my fingertips to my toes, the fire grows. A jet of flame blasts from my hands and hits him in the head knocking him onto his arse. I smell smoke. Oh my gosh. His hair is on fire!

“Zarel! Are you all right?”

I pat his head until the flame goes out.

He sits up looking dazed but otherwise okay. I feel my gut twisting and I get nauseous. What had I just done? He doesn’t respond to my questioning but stares fearfully as if expecting me to erupt again. I open my mouth but his eyes grow wild and he leaps up pushing me away and starts running around screaming as if he was a chicken with its head cut off.

What in this world had I just done?

He bumps into pitchers of purified well water, which in turn go flying and the water spills out as if wanting to join in the fun. Zarel then knocks over a tray of freshly cut bread, which was just set out this morning before Mom had left to run errands. And then, worst of all, as he sprints through the kitchen once more, Zarel runs straight into my mother.

Zarel cuts off his obnoxious shriek mid-way as he realizes what he’s done. He takes in the scene around him and can’t help but groan. He glances up at our mother and sees a whole mix of emotions upon her usually calm face. The realization of what I have just done finally hits me and I stand here shocked and unable to tear my gaze away from my once blazing hands.

What’s wrong with me!

Not a single who did it escapes from her lips. She just coolly says, “Go get your father.”

You needn’t say it twice. Faster than you could say, ‘You’re in trouble!’ Zarel  runs out of the kitchen, throws the back door open, and rushes out.

My mother watches the back door slam and waits for the soft patter of hurried footsteps going down the backstairs before she turns and surveys the mess once more before pinching the bridge of her nose and turning to me.

“Tallia. What happened?”

I bow my head fretting at what’s to come. “I’m sorry, mother.”

“I didn’t ask if you were sorry, Tallia.” Mom’s usual cheerful smile is long gone, replaced with a look of disappointment and well-controlled anger. “I asked what happened?”

Is she seriously going to punish me! I have no idea what just happened to me or what on earth is going through her head. “Well, Zarel was running around like an idiot and he started knocking over stuff and-”

She cuts me off.

“Yes. I see that. But I want to know why he was running around in the first place.” I can’t think of any way to start. This might not be too easy to explain without it sounding suspicious. I could say that I had tried cutting my brother’s hair and he flipped out, but that wouldn’t explain why he was running around with a stream of smoke

coming from his head.

I sigh, and decide. “Mom. I need to show you something.”

Easier said than done, because how am I supposed to be able to show her if I  don’t even know what is wrong with me? I don’t even know how I did it. But I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and try to think of an ember because that’s the only logical

way to think of creating flames. Then I imagine that ember feeding off of the oxygen in the air and slowly starting to glow red-hot.

“Tallia!”

My eyes fly open. Have I done it!? I look at mother’s face and then to my hands and get my answer. Nope.

“Young lady, what are you doing?” Mom exclaims, exasperated.

I guess I can’t blame her. I probably look like a complete idiot standing here with my hands uplifted to the sky looking as if they are calling forth some wild spirit of the gods. In translation, she most likely thinks I’m mad. I do feel like a complete idiot.

But I did it. I know I did. So why can’t I do it again?

“Tallia,” Mom says in a menacing voice. “I want words. Now.”

I feel my blood pressure rising. Didn’t she see Zarel? His head was smoking. I did that to him! And I’m getting that weird hot flash feeling again.

Suddenly, fire explodes from my hands and two huge holes blast into the ceiling. Debris rains down on us and smoke billows out of the holes filling the room. We dive for cover under the kitchen table and I whack my head against the solid oak as I slide under it. Mom gracefully slips under it without looking my way. I sit on edge and shake as we watch our living room die.

A million thoughts race through my head; the foremost being, what have I done?

BOOM! CRASH! The back door bursts open falling to the floor, after being yanked from its hinges, with another loud racket. Clunky footsteps echo through the house.

“TALLIA COSMOS! What have you done-” The look on my father’s face is one of disbelief and confusion. Surprisingly before I can utter a single word to defend myself, my mother speaks up.

“Aaron. May I talk to you for a moment? Alone?”

My stomach just about drops through the floor. Don’t they see that the house is burning down? I glance at Zarel and we exchange a worried look. My parents slip away  to the back porch. They slam the door blocking us out.

Zarel walks away leaving me here in the middle of the seemingly war-zone like living room. I hear him open a cupboard door and then running water from the kitchen sink. The sink goes off and he walks back into the living room with a bucket of water and a handful of rags. He walks over and holds out the rags to me.

“This mess isn’t going to clean itself up.”

See, one thing I should mention is that even though I dislike my brother and he returns the favor, we always stand up for one another no matter what. Especially when  the house is burning down. We are essentially like two peas in a pod; as the saying goes. I take the rags from him and we start to clean up my mess. I am guessing that he wants an explanation and an apology.

“Zarel,” I start, “I’m really sorry for setting your hair on fire. I don’t know what came over me. Now, Mom and Dad are mad at both of us, and you’ve barely any hair on your head. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“Um… Are you feeling okay? Because that whole thing that just happened was really weird.”

“I don’t know.”

“So… How long have you known that you can do that whole fire thingy?” I sigh. “Since as of fifteen minutes ago.”

“Really?” Zarel asked. “Yes.”

“Wow… Tallia, it’s out of this world to have powers. I mean, come on. No one hears stories of people waking up one day with magical powers. About the only excitement, we get around here is imagining the gods are real and that they are bowling whenever we have a thunder and lightning storm. Let’s get real! But this… this is going  to be hard to digest.

“What about your doctor, Dr. Ascle? What is he going to say when the paper on the examining bed ignites!? Or when you’re in school or at work?”

“I don’t know what is wrong with me!” “Well, do you think you can control it?” “Maybe. But it won’t be easy…”

“Darn right! This is a big deal!” He takes a deep breath calming himself. “I guess I’m just really worked up about the whole thing. I just don’t know who we’re going to go to.”

“We?” I ask.

“Yes, we.”

“Wait… So you’re saying that you are gonna help me with this then?”

“You’re my sister. I’m always going to support you. I know I’m not your older brother, but I still feel like I have responsibility for you. Of course, I’m going to help you get down to the bottom of this.”

At this point I’m pretty surprised that my brother is still even standing this close  to me, considering the fact that about fifteen minutes ago I’d set his head on fire. I’m so surprised. This is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

My parents walk in. They both look kind of on the edge and I know how they  feel. I start sweating. They glance at each other before looking at me. My father takes a step toward me and I feel my instincts telling me to back away. He takes a deep breath and says, “Tallia, your mother and I have been talking.”

Duh!

“And we’ve decided on what to do.” Stop prolonging it!

“Your mother thought that we should take you to the doctor.” “Oh. Okay.” That went a lot different than I thought it would. “We are going to see Dr. Ascle about your hallucinations now.”

So that’s it. My parents officially think I’m crazy. Next, they’ll find an excuse to throw me in the insane asylum two towns over. Zarel was right. But I mean my own parents!? You would think they’d be the ones that would understand. I fear that my last hope truly is my brother.

The one thing that’s just not adding up is: why would my parents think I am hallucinating when my mother had clearly seen Zarel’s hair smoking and the house being on fire?

Why is this happening to me!?

We’re sitting in the waiting room twiddling our thumbs until the nurse calls me  in. Fifteen minutes seems like an hour. My parents seem to be having a silent eye-to-eye conversation while we wait, and they look tense and eager for some reason. My brother is sitting reading a magazine occasionally glancing at his watch. And me, I am just staring  at the door waiting for the nurse to walk through and call her only patient in.

“Tallia?”

Finally! My stomach does a quick flip-flop, but I will my legs to lift me from my chair and walk through the doorway. Zarel gives me a quick squeeze on my arm and sends me a reassuring look as I pass by him.

“Two doors down and to the left.” the nurse says. Her name tag glints with fake diamonds and both her name, Phaedra, and her bling gives me the impression that she is sassy and quick, a to the point kind of person. I take a deep breath, walk through the door, and sit down on the bed. The nurse looks at me and says,

“Wait here until the doctor comes in.”

She abruptly leaves the room, clearly making sure that I know she has better things to do. I sit waiting and wondering what is taking the doctor so long. There is no clock on the wall so I anxiously assume that I have been waiting for way longer than in reality. Knock, knock, knock!

“Coming in!” the doctor says.

I held back my smirk. Though Dr. Ascle had been my doctor all my life, I’d forgotten how Gandalf-like he was. If he possessed a twisted staff and a robe, they would be identical twins. He entered with an air of calm and controlled energy.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Cosmos.”

“Good afternoon, Dr. Ascle.”

“So… Your parents wanted you to come in for a visit, eh?” “Yes, sir.”

“Well, in my personal opinion, I think that is a bunch of rubbish. You’ve always been a very healthy kid. Do you mind telling me what they’re concerned about?”

You are joking right!? I can’t believe this! They didn’t even tell him?

“Well, you see, Dr. Ascle, I ignited my brother’s hair without the use of a match or lighter. And then I created two huge holes in the ceiling. On the same day.” I cringe thinking of how bad that sounds.

Dr. Ascle surprises me though responding with, “Why don’t you sit down awhile and we can talk.”

I am confused but it seems like he has some answers. So I sit.

“When you were born, your parents, ahem, your real parents knew you were special. They took certain risks to keep you safe. One of those risks almost cost them their lives.”

My real parents? What is he talking about?

“They got into a small, wee fight with your fake parents- and… well, how old are you now?”

“Um, I’m 15.”

“Oh, yes! Deary me. I’m sorry. I’m getting old in my years and wanted to make sure you were the right age.”

I smile thinking how sweet this old man is. He looks old enough to be my great- great-grandfather. How’s he still up and kicking?

“Oh, yes, yes… Where was I… Oh! Okay. Back on track. Let’s go train… ”

Oh boy. And they think I am crazy…

“So your two sets of parents were fighting up there.” Why is he pointing to the ceiling?

“With their head in the clouds, they fought. Over you, Tallia.” “Over me?” I ask weakly. “Why would they fight over me?”

“Tallia, you have a gift. You aren’t just a normal kid. You have potential. Potential to take the throne of Olympus. Your fake father is losing his powers due to being away from Olympus for so long. It won’t be long until you can take over his evil plan to steal the throne and take it yourself. Which it is, by the way, rightfully yours. ”

I start to choke. “What!? As in the throne located on the Mount Olympus, the home of the fake Greek gods?”

“DON’T EVER SAY THAT AGAIN, TALLIA COSMOS! THE GODS WILL BE VERY ANGRY WITH YOU!”

“But, everyone knows that- they just don’t exist. It’s just a Greek bedtime story.”

“Young lady. I would watch your tongue if I were you. Do you realize how fatal it could be if you got on the bad side of the gods that are watching your back?”

I sit there flabbergasted. Why had my parents not told me all of this? “Tallia. You truly had no idea about any of this?”

“No, sir.”

“My gods… I should have known better than to trust Ares with power.”

Dr. Ascle sits down heavily and his face twists with concern. “Tallia, you might want to sit here for a minute. I have to call someone.”

Dr. Ascle walked back into the room five minutes later with a strange man following him. The man doesn’t walk normally; he seems to float a few inches above the ground. Glancing down I notice peculiar shoes on his feet. They have little wings on them. Wait a second… Those aren’t just wings, they’re flapping wings! I feel a little dizzy and I get a slight cold sweat. Dr. Ascle, please start explaining some things!

“Tallia,” Dr. Ascle says, “this is Hermes Chontos. He’s one of the heavenly beings who’s on your side.”

“Good evening, Miss Cosmos. I heard that you’re having a little bit of a hard time believing in this whole god thing. Well, let me help you out on that.”

He points at the hand sanitizer that is resting on the table near the sink. It instantly lifts from the gravity-ridden table and soars through the air right into his waiting hand.

My only response is an unbelieving, “Whoa.”

Dr. Ascle and Mr. Chontos chuckle at my lack of familiarity with floating objects. Dr. Ascle begins with, “My dear girl. This magic shouldn’t be too far past your knowledge. Am I correct in saying that you came today to discuss your fire powers?”

“Yes, how do you know?” I say meekly, still somewhat freaked out. “Hee hee… you’ll see. Just follow us.”

Dr. Ascle opens the door and I follow him and Mr. Chontos to the left up the hall. We walk four doors down and stop at a door labeled, “Lab Room.” Mr. Chontos lays his hand on a sensor that suddenly pops up on the door’s surface. The door startles me by saying in a groaning scratchy voice, “Enter, Hermes,” and it opens with a heavy groan. We enter single file with me being in the lead. I take a few steps into a blinding light, shield my eyes, and stop dead.

This is no ordinary place. Instead of seeing a lab room with microscopes, DNA slides, and machinery, there is instead an indoor shooting range setup with a large, shimmering, glass enclosure around it.

“What is this place?” I ask growing more concerned of my sanity by the minute.

“This is where we test to see how well people perform in battle and with targets, using their magical talents,” Dr. Ascle explains.

He beckons me forward for a closer look. We walk up to the door, which is the only visible entrance into the well-protected room. There is a small red sensor next to the door, which Dr. Ascle places his right index finger on. The light turns green, beeps, and

the door opens sliding into the sides of the doorframe. We enter the well-lit room and I stand waiting to be instructed on what to do next.

“We’ll scan you into the system and you’ll then begin a series of tests measuring your capability to complete tasks.” He gestures to the first station and points at the gun lying there. I’m a little worried about what he expects me to do with it…

“Go touch the sensor near that station and then pick up the gun. When you touch both the sensor and the gun it’ll scan your fingerprints and enter it into a complex system that we use to tell magical beings from one another.”

Just him saying this makes my insides go crazy. Does that mean that I’m a magical being?

As if Mr. Chontos could read my mind he says, “Tallia, you’re already a magical being. You just simply haven’t known this due to the fact that your parents kept the truth from you and because you’ve never believed in yourself. The key to truly harnessing  your powers is first to believe.”

I take a deep breath and walk towards the station with the gun. I never get there. The sliding doors are torn open and left battered while a large man runs through them and screams, “NOO!” It’s my father.

He stands there panting with alarms going off all around him. His hands are bloody due to the shredding of metal when he pulled apart the door. And his face is one of anguish and terror. Dr. Ascle and Mr. Chontos never get the chance to speak because Dad yells out, “How dare you tell my daughter all of these lies and teach her all of this garbage! I thought I could trust you, Ascle.” He spits with pure hatred glancing too at Mr.

Chontos. “All of these years I’ve kept these things from her for a reason. And now you, of all people, have gone behind my back and torn apart the carefully placed stitching.  You fool! You’re just a mere medicine god. You have no followers. You’re putting yourself in a defenseless position.”

At this point, Dr. Ascle starts to look as pale as if he’d seen a ghost. I can’t take it any longer. I have to say something.

“Father!”

He turns and looks at me. His intense glare seems like it could burn a hole  through my skull.

“I’ll deal with you later, you worthless piece of mortal flesh.”

I grimace and glance away so he doesn’t see tears of hurt spread through my eyes. While my father was is me down, Dr. Ascle composes himself and with an air of dignified and deadly calmness and says, “Ares. So the day has finally come.”

As he says this he withdraws a strange stick-like object from his pocket. Right before my eyes it grows and lengthens into the size of a walking stick! I knew he was Gandalf’s twin!

“Yes, it has,” he says still glaring.

Mr. Chontos has finally gotten out of his startled trance and has  positioned himself between my father and me. With his magical powers, I feel that I’m protected from his wrath.

“Aaron?” a woman’s voice says.

Oh no. As if this could get any worse. My brother and mother walk in. “Tallia? Are you okay!” Zarel says running over to me.

Meanwhile, all the commotion in the room has completely stopped and Dad is trying to appear as if he wasn’t just going to kill us all.

“Hellen, honey. We’re just coming. Isn’t that right, Tallia?” he says glaring at me as if saying to my soul, ‘If you don’t agree, I will kill you.’

I can never go back with them. I know the truth now. I step forward and say to my father, “No. I am staying right here.” I turn to walk toward the gun but his huge hand clamps around my wrist. I turn and scream, “LET GO!” Fire streaks from my hands but mixes with another element. Lightning. I turn, my mouth wide open. Sure enough, Zarel is standing there staring at his hands. Without a word, I grab his arm and yank him with me towards the gun. I lung forward with him and grab the sensor. Slowly the world dissolves around us and we are standing at the base of Mount Olympus.

Tallia Cosmos


Annual Poetry Contest highlights its winners

By Sarah Ferns  

May 1, 2019

For over a decade Genesee Community College has put on a student poetry contest. Last month, it celebrated its 18th annual contest.

Cindy Hagelberger, reference services librarian at Genesee Community College explained the contest is primarily launched in the spring every year and is open to all Genesee Community College students to participate. “The contest is different every year, with a mixed group of inspired individuals,” she said.

The poems are submitted through a variety of formats including video, audio, and written. Each contestant is allowed three entries. The volunteer judges receive each poem anonymously. Once the judges receive all the poems, they gather at a meeting to narrow down the best five to ten.  

The rubric that the judges use to choose the winners is separated into four different categories: grammar/spelling, creativity/originality, construction, and emotional appeal, taking into account all of the aspects of the poem; each poem is different and unique to its creator.

“All poems are unique and individual,” Hagelberger said. “That’s what makes this task challenging and rewarding; each one affects a judge differently. Judges have guidelines but not rules to follow.” After careful and intricate deliberation of all entries, students will receive an email notifying the winners along with the reveal of their prize.  

At the end of the contest once the winners are revealed, there is a ceremony. This year it was held on April 23rd where all contestants where welcomed to refreshments and to recite their poems.

   Although this library contest is strictly poetry, all students are encouraged to participate. Hagelberger said, “Participants are not always English majors; we get poetry entries from all majors.”

Elizabeth Jarnot, Library clerk, said, “The contest is a great opportunity for everyone to participate in and seeing the talent of the students is really nice.”

Poetry Award winners (L to R): Mack Poorman, Steven Grabowik, Julien Tuast, Joshua Barranco

Steven Grabowik – Body of Work Prize Winner – Student Poetry Contest

Solar Fractal

The twenty-four hour sun is at my back
On the day I ascend Vinson Massif
I glide across cracked glaciers
Braving the shivering winds,
Leaving footprints in the frozen soil,
Treading the land of my forefathers
For a thousand generations
A fractal-heart has beaten

Seething between the cracks in my boots
Is a blood-stained snow
Which paints my feet the color
Of an ancient ancestry,
And suddenly I realize
That I have stood here before
The footprints lie ahead and behind me
They are the same

Beyond the Vanishing Point

Washed upon the shore was the scroll of such fate
And there it was you roamed, with an embellished stride
High above the crimson overcast
Befalling the morning sky
Vexing the colorless waters of the oasis
In the pillars of time

Upon the impossible plane of reality
Came the omniscience unto your eyes
And in so doing, forms and colors dismissed
For deeply woven, were the fibers of the message
With a glint of light did visions of the past reanimate
“I love you”

Desertification

Gone, I envy
Her eyes, closed to mine
And soul, profiled
Away like fear
Fear, lust
Inside a disintegrating painting

Recording an event
Visible to none but I
Colors fall from the sky
And fry my eyes,
Haranguing a joke
In this nightmare

Mi lenga (in English “my language”)

Julien Tuast – First Prize Winner – Student Poetry Contest

Roll my tongue around my language
Love my people like my siblings
Teach my descendants
Every proverb I know

Teach them that a quickly made soup comes out salty
Take life one step at a time
Don’t let anyone tell you they saw something brown in the pot
Whatever else

This is my tongue
My language
My history
My legend

Passed on from mother to child
Like grandma’s food
Getting a haircut under a tree
Getting your hair done on the porch

Praying in church on Sunday
Sugar on the table
Chabelita stop crying
The mouse is harmless

Playing under the tree
Grandpa with a belt and white shoes
Put his problems aside

A rabid cow
With a long tail
Blow his horn
Listen to its music for a bit

Like my tongue
Nice ringing in your ears
Combination of other languages
This is my language


A History of Heartbreak

Mack Poorman – Second Prize Winner – Student Poetry Contest

And Now You’re Afraid to Love

You were a fussy kid
You were afraid of men
and your shoes had to be tied
a certain way
Or you’d panic and cry and
they’d tell you,
“Nothing works for you. Do it yourself, then.”
but you didn’t know how

Sometimes, you were so, so quiet
that people forgot you were there
and startled when you made a sound.
But there were moments when the
words rushed out of you like a stream
after a thunderstorm
Overflowing, with nowhere to go

You’ll come to find that the words
will start to spill over more
as you start to fear the silence of
a moment
You’ll start to tell people
you want to be alone forever
because you want them to come to you anyway
but you’re finding that more often
than not,
they don’t

You’ll forget to listen, to breathe, to savour-
You’ll fill the silences, even when you shouldn’t
You’ll forget that sometimes, words can’t say it all,
not the way quiet can

You’ll have to teach yourself how to do that again

Teach yourself that you don’t always have to think
or say
Sometimes, it’s good to feel
and carry that feeling
Experience it, and then
Only then

Can you learn to appreciate it.

You were holding her hand
When you told her you didn’t love her anymore

She could only nod and
Stare at your entwined fingers-
You hadn’t let go-
And wonder if you really meant it this time.

And You Won’t Look at Me

I want to gather all that I’ve created
Every brush stroke,
Every word
And pile it together at your feet,
A messy, inconsistent conglomerate
That is shaped like my soul
And tell you to look
To see,
To really see-
Because you never really see
Even though it’s hanging from my sleeve
Written clearly on my face.

Little Sloth

My mama always told me
my biggest sin was that
I’d never accomplish a thing
with how slow I moved
through life.
“Brilliance like yours is wasted
on a body that does nothing.”

Mama always liked to call me a sloth
because it took me
an hour to convince myself
to get out of bed
every morning, without fail
and sometimes I’d stop walking
in the middle of heavy foot-traffic
because my body had to reteach itself
how to breathe.

My mama took me to the zoo, once,
when I was no older than ten.
We trailed past exhibits for
lions, strewn about rocks in a manner
like Kings, proud and aloof;
monkeys, quick and clever in their
disturbing similarity to humans;
bird calls arced over the tops of
metal cages, surrounding everything,
mingling, mixing, mimicking chatter.

My mama dragged my sisters and me along
until we reached the sloth exhibit
and her head turned like the wise owl
she wanted us to believe she was
and her sharp voice carried like a shrill cry
“That is you. A silly little sloth, stuck in a tree
doing nothing.”
And maybe she thought it was funny
because she laughed, and my sisters laughed
and I’m sure I probably smiled but my head was frowning
deeper than any ten year old ought to.

My mama was always right about me
but not in the way she thought.
Sloths are slow because of the food they eat,
metabolisms slowing down,
functions like a fine tuned computer
stuck in stasis mode.

Mama never knew a thing about symbiosis,
how the algae that grew on the backs of sloths
from time spent stagnant
kept it hidden from sight,
camouflaged, safe.
A symptom of their diet,
a product of their environment,
but also a defense mechanism
to keep keen-sighted predators
from tearing it open and
laying it bare.

My mama never knew that
when sloths came down from their perch,
high up in the treetops,
they were making themselves vulnerable
to attack
but even still
when a predator made its way over
the sloth would go down screeching,
scratching, clawing, biting,
in a fierce, relentless bid for their life.
So seemingly uncharacteristic of
an animal that dozes through its lifespan,
that has her so convinced
it wants for nothing at all.

My mama didn’t know her little sloth
with its sad eyes and face
that always seemed
to be smiling
feared one day falling from the safety of its branch
only to have to climb its way back up,
back turned to the dangers below,
the taunting lure of freedom,
the sharpened claw of a mother’s words,
fighting tooth and nail to scramble
back toward security,
the unsteady branch that
her little sloth clung to,
hoping for safety,
hiding from the one thing
it was always supposed to love.


Mother’s Carol

Joshua Barranco – Third Prize Winner – Student Poetry Contest

No matter sin or grace
She loves with warm embrace
She lights the room she enters in
She blends with flowers as if it were skin
I am proud to call this woman kin
She is summer when I am winter
She has wonder deep within her
A wonder like no other
This woman is dearest Mother