by Brad Penner
As for then, there and how
forget it for now,
this is for you.
As for today, if some
fumbled regret that you
hold from before does stand firm
to the floor of this stage,
then this is for you.
This is for you
who are not worthy,
or so you thought,
only so worthy as
that which you bought
but if dust shaped to clay
is then made into rock
then tell me otherwise,
for this is you.
Be it from hills or the flats over bridges anew
emerge from the tunnel electric, third rail singing
ascend and your ears are still ringing
the tower peers down like a skeptic.
Where are we going, but is that it?
Have you not crossed oceans already?
Afloat or drowning you swim
and I’m swimming. I am you
I see you, I drink you, become you
it is me and it is you within me.
I sing of you as I sing of myself.
When I was a penniless gambler
biting my thumb on Highway 1
a panhandler, a two-bit whiskey-lit
hitchhiking traveler, I was as lost
as I wanted to be
I slept on the hill.
Berkeley 2008, eighteen stubborn and dirty,
nothing in my rucksack but a stolen copy
of Jack Kerouac and the notion that nothing
would hold me back because Mark Twain
once said, “Never let schooling interfere
with your education!” and he is right
but I was never wrong.
What I knew was not what I would become
but what I thought it to be. I was wrong
I can be anything that I want to be.
I am not forgotten. Remember
that in you, there is me and no longer
could I fear descent down to Center St.
For years I had sat on the river’s bank.
To dive was to die from within me,
so I swim from within. With you I am swimming,
we are swimming along and drowning afloat.
When I breathe of you, and you breathe with me
what I see is a horizon found in an island
an abundance of mass where the grasses
Enrolling, the pamphlets and lines
never ending, secured I am breaking
away and you with me. Like liquid
flowing an infinite river of solitude growing
we meet at the dam – we burst forth! beyond
the creek beds and stone brooks
the droughts of the valleys do cease
to resist, for the rain it does pour
until soil sings sprouts that reflect
the light through the mist.
Sometimes we fail.
Sometimes I think it is nothing
for I am nothing but you,
and you within me making something
out of nothing.
I repeat myself intentionally.
I am but one being below the mountain:
forgetting to rest in the wake of a test
that prompts, “I, in all of my glory
am worthy beyond settlement of second best!”
and I fail.
Fail to notice my worth among the rest
Fail to relish the accomplishment addressed
Fail to commemorate myself in these robes
I stand before you and feel beneath
But then I remember.
Remember the flesh and pulp of paper
bound by your wrist when I pass
you from class to class, gleaming
through turns of the staircase.
Remember the cold fronts of winter
made warm by a smile that parts
the glass door not for but with me.
Remember the date of withdrawal
slow approaching you told
me I could and I did.
Remember that I am not alone
within these walls.
I remember that without you, I am nothing.
But tomorrow, where to from here?
I have no one to answer to but myself
and you. Where do you gaze in the dark of the night?
Where will we wake in the thin light of dawn?
Not where college is taking us,
but where through the mist
we continue this song
as the sirens of oceans
never ending unbound
from within ourselves
Where I will go and you with me
comes from river banks bound for the sea.
This is for you, for you are the difference
a difference within you and within me.
by Cassandra Leone
this is not that once upon a time
happy ending, but our stories meet here
for ever after we made it this far
this story is mine, but here
our journeys are different
and sometimes the same
we’ve carved out our places
like rivers through plains
i can’t tell you a story
never heard of before
but I can tell you something
it is here I took form
let’s skip the sad stuff
humiliation and blame
forgive my little sister
whom i lost along the way
i started as a puppet
body carved from wood
limb of a fallen family tree
flung to the world
i’ve been a dishwasher
an art store cashier
i’ve been a lover
i spent so many years
doing circles in my head
same revolving room
i was searching when I got here
had been every inch of the east bay
in a place so familiar
finally finding my way
schooling was always a shadow
these buildings all looked the same
no mistake, after all the rebelling and struggling
i’d be right back from where i had came
anger had become my incentive
loss my purpose and strength
fear not so relentless
memories kept at arms length
I was no longer a feeble puppet
transformed in to flesh seeking humility
like a fairy had granted my wishes
i marched courageous to Center St.
initially i found fault
with administrative shortcomings
i almost turned back many times
found power in knowing
there’s harder things really
these victories feel real
not like scoring or making rent
these victories i cant steal
so yeah there’s lots of paperwork
and lines and pointless words
but that’s not so bad when you think on it
since you decide what this is worth
i used to let just anyone pull my puppet strings
i used to let who i am be defined by outside things
it’s not just education that liberates my soul
it’s hanging on to what i need and letting the rest go
and there is no path to travel by
there is no path at all
if you want to know what happens next
just trust your heart