Note from the Editors – COVID-19

Dear Readers,

We at Pacific Review would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to all the communities and its thriving members of CSUSB, San Bernardino and the greater Inland Empire. You are all in our thoughts, our stories, our visions of the future during this tumultuous and uncertain time of COVID-19 and other multiple happenings occurring in our world. Thank you to the talented contributors who have their work in our first online issue. We highly value your words. Many thanks to Juan Delgado, Rachelle Cruz and Briar Rosa for taking the time to converse with us and share with us what inspires them to be dynamic and responsible educators, cultural producers, writers and artists in our communities. At Pacific Review, we are dedicated to highlighting the stories and people that make our region and our region’s history diverse, beautiful, strong and worthy of preservation. We hope to continue to hear from you even in these dark times. Although we are a tight student-run literary arts operation, we are also susceptible to the same pains, struggles and obstacles that all of you face. However, we will strive to be part of the collective transformation and work that is a part of community healing and bridge building.

In solidarity, resilience and care,

The Editors and Staff Members of The Pacific Review

March 2020

Driving Home

Donovan D. Dickerson

I imagine

just me and the road

the surroundings bring stress

my car is my haven

before I get home

Driving down University

to get on the freeway—

Who drew these solid lines on the road?

Why don’t people appreciate these solid lines?

Driving down University

I don’t think

about the homeless who

ask for money yet

refuse a burger

I think about

potholes in the road,

how I avoid them all.

University turns into State

I head down Highland

I see the same squad car parked

across from the local dispensary

I wonder if today is the day.

Down Highland

I see the same train

I would love to hear

when I was younger

Finally, I see you

Noah’s Ark

Emilee Corral

Rain rattles, paddles, and pours
right into the pores of my skin.
It drips,
Or (in other words) Baptizes.

Cleaning the Earth,
Gathering and showing us dirt
In places we didn’t know it existed
(or doesn’t).
I listen to the rain,
The kind that helps mothers
and grandmothers to sleep,
And wonder
If the Noah in us could fall asleep too,
Or if he’s always still just
I open my eyes, reach for the paddles, and row.
I gather the ones
he accidentally left behind.

Below the Surface

Vicki Mandell-King

– after an untitled piece by Naomi Richman, a 10th grader at Boulder High

The kitten stares out above a spill on the kitchen floor.
Unlike Narcissus, the kitten does not look down.

If he did, he would not see himself as he is,
A kitten, or even a grown cat. He’d see Tiger.

I see this depiction not as growth and maturation,
but the artist’s dream of her own transforming.

This seeing may be no more than
my own desire surfaced and mirrored back.

On the anniversary of my mother’s death,
I leaf through an album she made,

pasting in photos of wildlife
– she loved animals – and labeling

lion, grizzly, antelope, cardinal, cobra
in her instantly-recognizable script.

Passing by a storefront window, I glimpse
an aging woman – white hair, lined face –

and must remember to strut
– a gait once so natural – and break

a recent habit of hesitant step
in fear of falling.

I do not recognize myself. Like Mother,
I carry within me a younger,

more lovely image that sometimes is
mirrored back in the eyes of the beguiled.

Turning the drawing around, Tiger stares out
above brooding cloud.

If Tiger looked down, he’d see a sweet cub
before ferocity became necessity.

Distant Souls

Esmeralda Gomez

Your language is foreign to me.

I can hear you speak but-
I don’t understand what you mean.

The music’s loud so you grab my hand to show me.
Step by step
You lead me to a bedroom door.

I enter the room.

I can hear you speak but-
I don’t understand what you mean.

With a bottle of whiskey, in your hand
You lock the door,
I understand now…

But you’ll never understand me.

I am not distant.

Like your drunk and sexually frustrated friends
You’re one of them,
Lost in drugs and sex,
You see no need in speaking.

I look away,
Admiring New York’s peaceful city lights
With watery eyes.

You’ll never understand me.

“You lost communication” I finally say,
But your mind is in blank space.

I am not distant.

Magic Lamp

Nicole Barrera

If I found a magic lamp I’d know
what I’d ask for
He’d come out in the most grandiose way
Smoke and fireworks coming out from the lamp
Maybe he’s blue maybe he’ll be cyan or like me
and ask me
What is it you seek my child?
My eyes wide open in excitement
I would ask to look more like my parents
The bafflement on his face is clear so I elaborate to avoid confusion

I explain not entirely, just my skin color
I’m tired of getting asked at school what my ethnicity is
Hearing people say you owe me money to one another
As if my ethnicity was a simple numbered color on a roulette table

Now that that’s clarified I go into my second
wish giving him no time to rest.
I would ask him for a better tongue
I can see how he could take this a variety of ways so I go on

I just want to properly speak Spanish I need
to be able to roll my tongue
Being blessed with the most possible R’s
I need to be able to use the voice of my ancestors
not the one of the people who gamble on me
I see him raise an eyebrow and say Well? and the last?

A lot of money so that I have the privilege to have both.


Kent Rogers

My mother passed a few years ago.
She’d made it to ninety-two,
Quite a time,
More than I expect myself.
Her presence occasionally wafts about, becomes apparent:
A tattered quilt in the back of a closet
A brown photo between two pages.
I used an old desk phone a while back when my cell phone died.
The old phone had an answering machine in it.
I plugged it in and the message light began to flash. The notes of a past sounded in the room:
Two wrong numbers
Two advertisers
Two scammers
Two hang-ups.
And then there she was, clear, present, alive.
I held my breath: she said the weather was too hot and nobody had called her all day.
Last night I lifted a plate from my cupboard,
An old teacup saucer that I used as a remnant, a mismatch,
the last of a set whose other members had long ago vanished.
Made of bone china with a light gold inlay, roses painted across the borders.
The last of my mother’s tea set.
The plate slipped from my hand, shattered on the counter, plummeted to the floor.
Pieces, pieces.
I stood, stared, gathered the sight:
One more last remnant of her splintered, fractured, gone.

We’re More Than a Political Statement

Natalie Thompson

I’ve said pain so many times
It’s become my name
And the name of many others
Who’ve been renamed
“Too difficult” on their medical charts,
Hopeless, not even worth the copay
Stop answering their calls

We wither in our beds
Make believe they’re our graves
And all this pain will end.

We were the ones who didn’t believe in destiny
Until the doctor said our rate of suicide
Was upwards of 50%
(You better watch her closely
One day she’ll try)

Until our bodies were s h a t t e r e d
And the DEA made it clear there was one
And it doesn’t start with M
And end with -edicine.

Our Doctors are taking back the scripts
While their medical degrees
Become arrest warrants.
Don’t forget about us

Don’t forget about us
As we sit on the bottom step of the stairs
Unable to get up at the ripe age of 22
No longer sure who to pray to
But my body is alive
Pulsing in every part
My hips feel out of place
And my knees are falling off
My body is dismembering itself
Don’t forget about us
As I hide away
Scared of my own anger

Don’t forget all Those who’ve tried
Acupuncture, physical therapy,
SSRIs dumped down my throat
And NSAIDs burning a hole in my stomach
Needles piercing through my kneecap
The sweet burn of lidocaine

Truly everything,
But tears are our only certainty
Filled with hope-less, grey exam tables and
Crinkling white paper,
And bottomless nausea.
We’ve been torn apart
And broken
This life is hard
And surviving is even harder.

Don’t forget us in this mess
We just want you to care,
Friends, Family, Senators
And Doctors.
Anyone please help care
For us too.
We’re more than a statistic
My pain can’t be measured
Not 1 to 10 or
47,000 people
Don’t Forget Us.

And all our brothers and sisters
We lost to the pain
A number I can’t tell you
Because it doesn’t exist.
Not worth studying
All those lives
Not lost because the medicine

The Best Time of Day

Nicole Barrera

Morning is the best time of the day. There is always inspiration in the air. When I wake up the sun hits my face in such a way, that if I took a picture of myself I could show the beauty of my plain brown eyes. I’m not a real photographer, but the morning always makes me feel like I could be.
I get ready in a matter of minutes, my clothes are the same every week. Monday through Thursday I have about four to five t-shirts that I cycle through, and then Friday is spirit day so I always wear our school colored t- shirt. Since it’s Friday I don’t have to worry about clothes today. Standing in front of my mirror I look at my wet hair and run my fingers through it. I remember how I had to beg my parents to get bangs. I was the only girl in school who didn’t and the boys always called me five head. It wasn’t until I cut my own hair in the 5th grade and did it so poorly that my parents were forced to take me to the salon.
Ever since I’ve taken very good care of my hair. Once I detangle my hair with my fingers then I switch to a brush. Dad walks out of his room which is just across the hall. He is fixing his collar as he heads downstairs, and his cologne wafts into my room making my head hurt. I fix my hair and leave it down as I clip a bow on the right side of my head and go downstairs.
“Buenos días,” my dad says to my grandma as he grabs a cup of coffee and a Concha.
“Buenos días, Ignacio,” my grandma says from the kitchen shuffling to the living room to take a seat. I come down the stairs. I look around the bottom floor and see my dad sitting at the table to my right, and to my left I make eye contact with my Grandma who is sitting down.
“Buenos días abuela,” I say as I make it down the stairs. She looks over and nods her head. I turn my head the other way and see my dad finishing his coffee with only crumbs on his plate, where the Concha used to be. He looks at me and waits for me to greet him first. I’ve learned my lesson from the last time I didn’t say good morning to everyone. “Buenos días,” I mutter to my dad. He nods as he gets up to leave his dishes in the sink. I head over to my backpack, and the books inside make my biceps flex as I lift from the straps. I must have at least thirty pounds of books in there, or maybe I’m just weak.
The jingle from my dad’s keys signal that we’re about to head out. My dad has always been a punctual man. He doesn’t like to be late to work, so if I wanted a ride to school I had to leave on his time. I’ve gotten used to it because it’s been this way since middle school. Getting up early became routine and whenever I was late dad would get really mad, and when he gets mad at me he just ignores me. I hate it so much; because, he’s very stubborn. My mom tells me that I’m just like him in personality, and I feel like that’s an insult. We get along well, or at least I think we do.
I hear the jingle from the keys again as he walks in front of me. I snap back into reality and grab a sweater, since it looks like it might rain later. I can smell the moisture in the air as he opens the door. He’s at the threshold, and does the sign of the cross then mumbles a few words and steps out with his right foot forward.
I remember a few years ago when he was dropping me off at school, he told me this was the most important part of the day and I needed to make it routine in the morning. He said that I needed to do it every morning to be safe in the outside world. Back then I was very impressionable, so being the God fearing child I was I would mimic him perfectly. I always made sure he would see me do it correctly, waiting for him to turn around and lock the door as I outstretched my right leg.
Lately, however, the action became more habitual than purposeful. If there is a God out there, I’m sure he’d be okay if I put my left foot out instead of my right one first. I walk out with my left foot, passing my dad and heading towards the car. He unlocks the car door and I sit down with my backpack in between my legs. I see him walk like a man with a ruler glued to his back. He gets in through the driver’s side.
I love days like today when the sun only came out to wake me up, but then gets covered by the clouds that look so plump. I always thought it was difficult to cool off but it’s always easy to get warm, so winter was always my favorite season. Our drives to school are always a little awkward because we don’t initiate conversations with each other. I’m still working on it, but today he caught me off guard. “Did you finish applying to the local university here?” His voice pierced my core. I still have not told him that I applied out of state. He didn’t look at me, but kept his gaze forwards on the road even though we were are at a red light.
“Well yeah,” I said trying my best to get the next half out. I try my hardest to keep talking and just praying that the rest would come out. My hands are messing with the frayed strings hanging off my sweater, “but I also applied to others you know.” I winced, that’s not very Straightforward I think to myself.
“What other ones?” He is always so direct. Never giving me time to think my answers through. I make some up in my head but I really want to throw out New York.
“Well some other ones in California,” I say as I look over at the radio that was playing music at a soft volume, acting as the white noise between my thoughts and my dad’s reactions. He turns the volume all the way down to zero.
“Where in California? How far away? Be specific.” His fingers go from the dial on the radio to the steering wheel again. Even though it’s cold outside I can feel the heat emanating from me, and making the car warmer. My attention is on this frayed string, now wrapped around my finger, cutting off circulation. I pull my finger hard and hear the satisfying break of the string.
“I mean does it matter how far it is? Shouldn’t it being a good school be good enough for you?” I look out my side of the window. Then I look at the string still wrapped around my finger.
“Como que does it matter?” His voice mocked mine as he repeated my words. I could tell he was angry. He would do this all time, but I swear he only did it with me. “When I ask you a question you answer it.” He is done with my games. Not that I am doing it on purpose, but he is getting worried. Worried that I have aspirations outside of his.
I am still confused from his voice change, so I face forward and try to answer as clear as possible, so as not to upset him too much. “I did apply here but I also want to go to New York.” My voice was soft. If he didn’t mute the radio there would have been no way I would have been heard. There was a long pause. There was no white noise to help me feel more relaxed. The deafening silence makes my ears feel like I am in the middle of a flight, while my body shakes with turbulence that is threatening my safety.
“What do you mean? You don’t want to live with us anymore?” He spoke in a tone to match mine, soft and quiet. I actually never get to hear this one too often. It always catches me off guard. “Did we not give you everything?” He continued, raising his voice a bit more. I know I am throwing a wrench in his plan of living comfortably and me taking care of him and my mom. That’s just his traditional way of thinking, but I want to see what I’ve been missing.
“Me wanting to get a higher education somewhere else, doesn’t mean you guys have not given me everything.” I say this a little louder. I try not to yell, but I need to stand up for myself. “Besides, I want to pursue Photography. I think I can be really good at it.”
“Your brother didn’t leave us. He did everything right here.” He said as he started talking with his hand. His finger is pointing to the floor to emphasizing the ‘right here’. “Since when did you want to do this Photography? That’s a waste. You’re too smart to be making such a dumb decision.” His words are jabs to my heart and soul. Every sentence that comes out of his mouth is another round of boxing I have to endure. At this point all I can do is wait for someone to ring the bell.
I hate being compared to my brother, he’s older by 9 years and we are definitely not the same person.“He wanted something different. He’s okay staying here, but I’m not.” This time I looked over at him. “I can do it.” I somehow manage to get this out. At this point I’m wondering if perhaps there is a God I can ask to help me make my dad understand my potential.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore. If you choose to leave you won’t get any help from me.” He drops his volume back down. Lighting flashes in the distance, and after three seconds comes the crashing of thunder. The rain falls softly at first, then harder. I look away confused about what just happened, the feeling not yet hitting me. We arrive at the school’s drop off point. I am always here early so there is no one outside other than the security guard that stays outfront.
I look out my door and see the rain falling down hard, “I love you dad.” This is my final blow before I am saved by the bell. I open the door and get out, with my backpack and sweater in my hands. I close the door, not waiting to hear a response, and hear him drive off behind me.
I stand in the harsh rain and look down to see the frayed string on my finger. Still wrapped and clinging to my wet finger, and I remember everything that happened in the car. I now feel an overwhelming wave of emotion come over me, enveloping me, smothering me. I take the string and throw it on the ground with the force of a baseball pitcher trying to get a quick strike. I watch as it gets swept away by the rain. I watch it drift away, into the street, until I lose sight of it.
I am soaking wet. I feel heavy, yet I walk to a bench inside the school. I sit down and lean forward with my arms and sweater cushioning my head. I imagine someone taking my picture right now, and getting an award winning shot of a person that no longer knows what to do. I would be giving someone their morning dose of inspiration. They will realize that they have a knack for Photography. At least someone else can.
If mornings are the best time of the day, today might be the worst day of my life. The rain continues to fall, giving me a new white noise to focus on. My head is turned to the right, and the noise of the rain is lulling me to sleep. The rain hushes everyone as it guides the people inside. I watch them all pile in as I forget that I’m soaked and slowly close my eyes. Hopefully I can have another try at the morning, this time I’ll put my right foot forward.