Monday, November 16, 2015

January 17, 2438

Short Short by Korinza Elaine Shlanta of Cerro Coso Community College
2015 Met Awards - Honorable Mention for College Fiction

January 17, 2438

The last few nights have been so restless I have found no sleep. I dare not sleep. I made my official record three days ago, but it was neither appropriate nor relevant to the scientific journal I include what has struck my heart and mind with such profound observations. Though this journal is of no significance and will likely not be read, I feel I must divulge what happened January 14th, 2438.

It was not a routine sleep study. I was working alongside an esteemed colleague, Dr. Thanatos Somnus. When we began our, what I expected to be, month long sleep study I was excited to use such new and innovative technology. Dr. Somnus and I were hired by a private client who has been interested in revisiting Freud’s theories concerning the meaning of dreams. Instead of the average sleep study telling a patient they have some form of a slight abnormality in their sleeping pattern and recommending the usual supplements, Dr. Somnus and I would be conducting a sleep study using a monitor that creates images from the pattern of firing synapse.

The relative location and numbers of synapses firing would be relayed into the monitor to project images. A second system was in place to make a transcript of the patient’s thoughts, this was attached to the external soft tissue directly in front of hyoid bone, even if a person doesn’t talk in their sleep slight tension in the soft tissue surrounding the hyoid bone would be transmitted and then turned into a script following the small movements. No other joined myself and my colleague for this particular study. The subject was Dr. Thanatos Somnus himself. Aside from him being the subject of study he would be able to later give qualitative observations about the dreams he had and we would compare them to the images we would record on the monitor. This was any psychologist’s playground! The opportunity! The possibilities! The new discoveries. Yet, I am so haunted by those images and by what was supposed to be an amazing achievement, I cannot sleep. I must record what is the truth before it is marred by sleep deprivation.

For the first week of our experiment, everything went smoothly, and it was a joy to see Somnus’ dreams. He had a fantastic imagination, and it suited our purposes well, and perhaps that is the truth of what happened. It was just his imagination, for my heart is heavy with grief and guilt. This is as much my confession as it is my account of the matter. January 14th began as the other nights did; I waited for my colleague to slip into the first stage of sleep and began my recording of the images and the transcript. The first images came up, they were simply a blend of soft colors and as was expected it went through the progression of the spectrum as the doctor settled in his sleep. About three hours into our study came more distinct images and the first words on the transcript. The image was of a large arched stone gateway, and held an inscription of unrecognizable characters. The doctor seemed to translate them to English and I read them on the transcript, “Weary may be those that enter. Do not seek what you cannot find.” Somnus moved to push the gate, but it did not move. I began to analyze thinking his dream was a representation of a problem in his life that he could not move forward with nor find any absolute answer.

As I began recording this in the log, the stone door opened and voice came from within, “Enter.” I stopped breathing. All of his synapses had fired at once as the transcript printed, Enter. I dared not wake him for this was a breakthrough, our first nightmare. The doctor moved into blackness, and when the screen came back into focus, my heart found its way into my throat. I could only hear my own heartbeat, and I had to compose myself to notice the transcription machine was printing rapidly. The view screen showed not a room as I first thought, but a small clearing surrounded by trees. Somnus walked to the center as the transcription machine kept ticking away, “Do not seek what you cannot find.”

The words were being repeated at an unnatural speed. The doctor sank to his knees and the transcription simultaneously stopped. I rose from my chair a looked at the patient himself through the observation window. He looked so calm, no turning, just light breathing. The view screen held the same image of the clearing, but new figures were forming in the trees. Each of the figures looked almost human, but something was unnatural about them. I could not place what was odd about these beings, but I was so transfixed it seemed to not matter. There was a sense of both fear and tranquility that pervaded my body. Everything held so still my heartbeat was the only thing that seemed to be moving. Then in an instant those horrible beings changed, they started clawing, biting, howling, devouring, destroying Somnus. The transcription machine started printing again. The machine was printing the words, “Help. Help me. Stop them. Please. Stop them. Please. Please. Please.”

I looked back at the screen to find Somnus’ body being torn and devoured by what now looked like the common picture of demons. They were in a frenzy joyously feasting upon him. The transcription printed again “Help. Help me please. Please.” A pause, then my breath was taken from my body as I saw it printed. “Simon, wake me up. I’m begging. Stop. Please.” He addressed me. Surely, not me.

The image started to fade and I realized he was waking up. I entered the sleep room. I stood on the edge waiting for him to wake. I approached, and felt his pulse. There was none.

Dr. Thanotos Somnus died, in his sleep, January 14, 2438.

Monday, November 09, 2015


Poem by Michelle A. Lundberg of Cerro Coso Community College
2015 Met Awards - Honorable Mention for College Poetry

Nothing was ever wrong.
She would never let us know.
She was so strong.

Constant pain, all along.
Silence was her companion.
Nothing was ever wrong.

Cries she held in for so long,
A tear never left her eye.
She was so strong.

Head pounding, an endless throng.
A smile was always on her face.
Nothing was ever wrong.

The ride to the hospital, we sang a song.
I didn’t know it would be out last.
She was so strong.

Our misery, she tried to prolong.
Now all we feel is pain.
Nothing was ever wrong.
She was so strong.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Father Nicholas

Short Short by Shari Allison of Cerro Coso Community College
2015 Met Awards - Honorable Mention for College Fiction

“Bless me father, for I have sinned.”

After the realization that the voice was that of Isaac Portrosky’s, Father Nicholas relaxed against the thick padding of the confessional.

“It has been twenty-one hours since my last confession,” stated the contrite man in the adjoining booth.

Father Nicholas made sure his sigh was inaudible. Isaac was a consummate sinner and a devout confessioner.

“I could not help myself. Isabella is so sick and Maria is so ample. Father, I am an accursed man.” Isaac’s confession proceeded with little variation from the one given twenty-one hours earlier.

The priest heard the chime of the clock tower and realized it was lunch. He would make Isaac Portrosky his last confession and break for lunch. He still had his Sunday sermon to prepare and he promised to listen to choir practice that evening.

“Please Father, I beg of you to visit my beloved Isabella, to pray with her.” It was an unusual request from Portrosky, perhaps he was working toward change.

“Very well my son, I shall do as you have asked and visit God’s dear child Isabella.” He was mentally reassigning his activities for the afternoon while routinely dispensing Isaac’s penance.

Shortly after Father Nicholas prayed for the sinner and left the confessional. He saw Isaac several pews down, prostrate, and praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It wasn’t until the priest stepped forward that the light caught his eye. Something was shining. He stepped back from the brightness to locate the source within the church. It appeared to be coming from Isaac Portrosky!

Slowly, quietly, the priest made his way to Portrosky. There, next to the praying man laid a silver watch. How could this be? Mr. Portrosky was poor like most of his parishioners. Yet there it was, reflecting the light from the stained glass portrayal of the baby Jesus in the Virgins Mary’s arms, like a divine gift from god calling out to him. The watch lay free from any confinements. Perhaps it was not even Mr. Portrosky’s, he only happened to perform his penance beside it.

Father Nicholas carefully lifted the silver watch from the floor. The arduous sinner continued to pray. The silver object forced its way into the pocket of the priest’s robe, with no defense from the pocket’s wearer.

An obsession seemed to overtake the priest. He took the watch to different stained glass windows of the church to reflect the scenes onto the silver surface. It was so beautiful, the colors would mix and mingle. The baby Jesus’ face had never looked as magnificent as it did shining back from the silver exterior of the watch.

He skipped lunch and spent much of the afternoon avoiding everyone, including those involved in a ruckus that overtook the church. He sat next to a lit candle in his room and watched as he artfully turned the watch to display the painting of the Virgin Mary hanging on his wall manifest itself in silver.

It was well after five when Father Nicholas placed the watch in his robe and left the church on route to the Portrosky home.

Maria was the one to open the door after several drummed knocks. Her face was not one of surprise, nor was it of beauty. The woman had small eyes, which seemed to get smaller in comparison to her large nose and even larger lips. The one characteristic she did possess that could not be missed, even by a priest, was the obvious fact that Maria had an enormous bosom that was always partially exhibited.

“Oh good Father, you are here?” she said. Her acerbic tone did not match her words and neither did her lack of body movement to let the priest in. She was not a parishioner, so his manners were less engaged when he pushed past her. Their front door opened into the kitchen with a roaring fire blazing in the hearth to cut the cold from coming inside, and to prepare dinner.

“It’s your priest,” Maria yelled into the house from behind him.

“Father? Father are you here?” came a frail voice from the bedroom.

Father Nicholas made his way to the bedroom. In a large bed laid the small frame of Isabella Portrosky. She, unlike her sister Maria, had always been fragile and delicate of health. Easily lovelier than her sister in youth, she had married young and produced no children. The family could not secure a husband for Maria, according to Isaac, so when Isabella took ill, Maria was obligated to care for her.

“Father, you have come at last.” Isabella said in wispy gasps.

“Yes my child, I am here to comfort and pray with you.” Isabella was a devout worshipper, and one he liked to visit regularly.

“Thank you Father, and did you find the watch?” She asked as tears welled up in her eyes.

The priest could feel his feet go cold and a chill run up the length of his body.

“Watch?” he inquired with as much conviction as he could summon.

“Yes. My father’s silver watch. Isaac took it with him to church this afternoon. He likes to pray for me with something of importance to me. He said it brings me and god closer to him. You did find it Father, didn’t you?”

Isabella’s face resembled that of the Virgin Mary’s picture which hung in his room. Isabella’s teary eyes looked at him questioningly. Concern filled every aspect of her face.

The words left his mouth before he could stop them. “The silver watch Maria gave me?” He didn’t know all of the ramifications his lie would cause, but it was too late, the path was set. “I would happily give it back, I did not know it was yours.” It would be the ungodly Maria’s word against his, a priest. Father Nickolas knew one thing, he had solved Isaac’s problem. Maria would likely be sent home and someone else less buxom and willing, sent in her stead.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Greatest Story I've Ever Heard (or La Dignidad de los Infinitos)

Creative Non-Fiction by Alex Tellez of Cerro Coso Community College
2015 Met Awards - Second Place for College Creative Non-Fiction

Last December, I went on a trip to Mexico City to visit relatives. I’ve already gone there a couple of times in my life, but this trip was different. This was my first time leaving the country as an adult and I surely felt as if I was being treated like one. My grandpa decided to take me to the beautiful cathedral that was located in Zócalo.

On the way there, we had to get to our destination via the metro stations that encompass the gargantuan city. One of the trains was taking a while to get to the station. As I waited with my family to continue our day-long trip, my grandpa recounted an experience he had in 1968. Now, this is quite possibly the greatest story I have ever heard. It’s one of those stories you don’t forget. It’s one I plan to pass down to my children.

In 1968, the Mexican government was experiencing instances of civil unrest among the citizens, specifically university students at the time. The reason why this happened was because the Mexican government allotted $150 million dollars to fund the 1968 Olympic Games that were going on in Mexico City. Today, that amount would have equaled $7.5 billion dollars. In my mind, the revolts made total sense, since Mexico today is still considered a third-world country.

My grandpa was a university student at the time these revolts were going on and the government knew that he was an activist in the Dirty War, or the instances in which the government tried to suppress opposition to the government.

It was October 2nd, 1968, and the government decided to massacre hundreds of university students that had taken part in the revolts. That night, thousands of young Mexicans gathered in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas and chant ¡No queremos olimpiadas, queremos revolución! or, “We don’t want Olympics, we want revolution!”

That night, my grandpa was targeted by the federal government and he was on a hit list that included him and an estimated 300 more people. My grandpa could have been taken out by the government had he stayed in his home; however, my grandpa was not home for a good reason: he was out celebrating his 17th birthday.

By the time he finished telling me his story, the train had just arrived and I was left with a huge feeling of morbidity. At that moment, all I could think about on that train was how everything was fragile and that nothing is ever absolute. I think about this story every time I feel like I’m going nowhere in life. I start to think of the moments and steps that led up to this very second and how all of that could instantly have been lost in time. In these moments, I think of my life as a string oscillating through time that gets tangled in other people’s strings until that string gets cut.

I think about how all I’d be left with are the stories that made my string mean something.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Paper Skin

Poem by Emma K. Heflin, 10th Grade, Burroughs High School
2015 Met Awards - Second Place for High School Poetry

“For understanding, for truth,”
She spoke with a blush
“For appreciation and remembrance.”
This she spoke sincerely
To let the runners, the hiders, know.
This she spoke so others would share,
Share in the knowledge she herself found
When she wrote, yes, she wrote,
On her hands and her arms,
For understanding, for truth
For appreciation and remembrance.
From the Bible, from Shakespeare,
Both treated alike
With a reverence for words,
Everlasting and strong
With respect for the art
So few call upon
She wrote, yes, she wrote,
On her hands, on her arms,
For understanding, for truth,
For appreciation and remembrance,
She wrote, yes, she wrote.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My Humming Bird

Poem by Sophie R. Walker of Cerro Coso Community College
2015 Met Awards - Second Place for College Poetry

Take time to stretch your wings
My humming bird
Ever Roving,
Listen to your song
Waking the air.
Prismatic myriad of welcoming petals.
For your need of nectar.
Energetic performance of nature’s creation
Perfectly accepted inconspicuous noise maker.

Note: For my son Sulliven whose personality is amplified by ADHD

Monday, October 05, 2015


Short Short by Sydney Marler, 9th Grade, Burroughs High School
2015 Met Awards - Second Place for High School Fiction

Ambition. I spelled it out.

A-M-B-I-T-I-T-I-O-N. Ambition.

No, that wasn’t right. I promptly scribbled a note of it in my overflowing book of words. Most of the kids at my school had something of a mixed opinion about me. Jealousy was what I perceived most keenly. The other part was when they clapped for me when I won awards; that was the part I liked best. I had very few friends, mostly due to my inability to even entertain the superfluous thought of becoming ‘one of them’. After all, I would become their boss someday. It was best to see it from the other side; to reason that they all wanted to become me so badly, that they had given up all attempts to befriend me. It was better to look at it this way. So much easier. I couldn’t exert any energy on friendships anyway; I had a spelling bee to win.

I was something of a prodigy from the beginning. I was always tearing through stacks of books and my parents could never keep up with the demand.

“Laura’s going places!” my Pap would say. He was so proud of me. My mother would always take me to play groups and show all the other mothers what a smart little girl I was, and the others would complain about how their children were having daily tantrums. My mother glanced at me powerfully with a shimmer in her eye and in that moment, I became proud too.

The day of the spelling bee came and I was flipping through my notebook for the final time. The other competitors were sitting nervously on their chairs, facing the entire school. I wondered what they were thinking. Did they even prepare? This should be an easy victory for me. I remembered then that Charles was studying hard too. My heart sunk as I realized I had no idea where I stood.

My feet were twisted around the chair. One foot, delicately clothed in a flat shoe, made a resounding tapping on the cafeteria stage. It echoed anxiously across the cafeteria, somehow mixing with the dull hum of middle school children sitting below me. Suddenly the bow on my flat became entangled in the portable metal chair. The chair collapsed and I knew I was falling before I started falling. I made a frantic grab for the notebook; but it was too late and I wasn’t fast enough to catch it. The notebook splattered hard all over the stage and I was on the ground; tears quickly running down my puffy face. I wasn’t injured, although I was hurt.

The cafeteria was completely silent. I desperately wanted them to do something, anything. Laugh! Someone just start laughing! I’m begging you! I wished in those moments; but no one did.

Finally, after several excruciating seconds, several boys began to pick up the papers that had fallen out of my loose notebook. Noise gradually escalated into the cafeteria again and I indignantly set up my chair. I took a seat on its hard metal surface as the troupe of boys began to hand me the missing pieces of my notebook. One of the boys was Charles. I didn’t say a word.

The elderly teacher began calling us up one by one. Verboten. Colloquial. Intractable. Formidable. I knew instantly when my competitors were wrong and I visibly cringed. One of my competitors recognized this pattern and began crying when I cringed. Poor kid.

It was finally my turn. I carefully untangled my nervous legs from the metal chair. I wasn’t one to make the same mistake twice. In what seemed like forever, I made my way to the podium and pulled down the microphone. I turned to look at the teacher expectantly.

“Ambition”, she delivered. It was a dagger, my kryptonite, my silver bullet. I nearly sunk to the floor.

“A-M-B-I-T-I-T…” There it was. I saw my parents in the background; their eyes widened. I looked at my competitors and to my surprise they looked… indifferent. This was it. This is what death feels like, I thought.

“-I-O-N” I finished, nervous, shaking, and yet anew.

With the sound of the buzzer, I walked off the stage.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Short Story by Rey David Morales of Cerro Coso Community College
2015 Met Awards - Second Place for College Fiction

Foamy water swirls and crashes in the stainless steel sink. It washes over white porcelain as plates are heaved, one by one, out of their sudsy depths. Set aside to dry after inspection, the dishwasher contemplates a time when dishes were in fact made of pearl. Pearl diver, that sounds much more impressive. The Crew Cuts play on the radio. The cook, a man in his twenties with a short stature but athletic build, sings along to the hopeful dreams of ancient pop stars as he prepares the next meal. The front door bell jingles loudly.

“Looks like he’s here,” the cook says with a smile. “After this order I am going out there to the front to cover for you-know-who. Be on your best behavior with Big Chief, okay?”

Big Chief is actually the owner of the restaurant and the boss, and genuinely an easy going guy. Cook makes his exit out the Westernesque red double doors to the main dining hall to take on his new role as a waiter. The boss makes his entrance. He is a short, slightly overweight man of fifty-ish, wearing a signature trucker cap with the name of the eatery embroidered on the front. They exchange pleasantries and continue working.

After a few orders business dies down. The boss, in his idleness, strikes up a conversation with the dishwasher.

“¿Como Estudo?” he asks. The boss speaks no English. Though he can read and write it and somewhat understood when someone is trying to get his point across, his tongue never mastered it.

“Bien, mas o menos,” the dishwasher responds in his Chicano tongue. They then discuss other areas of life such as one’s condition both in health and romance. The dishwasher always says he’s doing well in both (a harmless half-truth). Another subject that comes up is family, particularly how the dishwasher’s two sisters are fairing since leaving his employment the previous spring. They were peaceful departures. The dishwasher says they are both fine. One has gone into business with a friend and the other now works as a social worker in the city. The boss admits that he misses them. They were good people who would never pull the “crap” his senior waitress—the woman the cook is filling in for now—pulls.

The boss asks how his studies are going. The dishwasher states (like a Catholic prayer) that he graduated high school last year, and furthermore, it’s now the middle of summer. The boss nods in remembrance and asks what he’s planning on doing now. The dishwasher doesn’t know.

Soon a big table arrives and the dishwasher is thrown to the front so that the cook can help the boss with the order, as the Cook puts it, of “Ronald Calderon” proportions. The dishwasher hates working the front. For some strange reason he feels a strange wave of embarrassment whenever he sees a familiar face. It’s not so much the individual that gives him shame but the blank smiles they give him, eyes that say they are but common restaurant-goers with no concern for anyone outside their booths, a look that the dishwasher had not experienced a year earlier. Maybe he had given it, too.

No faces today. The dishwasher works the floor efficiently and at ease. Eventually the customers leave and the day turns to night. The boss leaves early, telling them they did a fine job and to keep his share of night’s tips. The cook gives him some anyway.

A lonely stranger stumbles in toward closing time.

“Hey, can you handle this?” the cook says, “I’m going to start getting ready for clean up.” He heads into the kitchen.

The stranger staggers to the cashier’s counter and stops himself from slamming into it. He asks if they sell chile verde but wrapped in a tortilla. The dishwasher asks if he means chile verde burritos and receives a fervent “Yes! To Go.” He pays with a debit card and attempts to get cash back. The dishwasher tells him that service isn’t offered here. The man apologizes and sits down.

When his order is finished he grabs it with shaky hands, states, “The Misses thanks you,” and stumbles out. The dishwasher goes to the back.

“Geez, did you see that guy? He was on something for sure.”

“Yeah, I know him,” the cook says. “Name’s Donald.”


“Yeah, went to school with my dad, I guess he was some kind of genius. Got a perfect score on his SATs, every university wanted him.”


“Don’t know exactly. Stayed for some girl, girl got hooked on meth, he did too. Last I heard his ‘Sweetheart’ left a few years back and he shacked up with someone else.”

“A genius … he could have gone anywhere he wanted.”

“Where else would he go, this town’s awesome.”

The dishwasher refuses a ride home only to discover he can’t be picked up. He begins his thirty-five minute walk home. There are few street lights in town. Save for a few passing cars, the trek is mostly dark. Along the way he passes streets where old friends once lived, illuminated by dull moonlight.

He still thinks about her sometimes. About words unsaid and flesh that never really touched. But the stars are beautiful here. He takes a short-cut through a dirt alleyway lined with wooden fences. Halfway through the path one of the town’s only streetlights illuminates a familiar figure, a crushed Styrofoam container lying next to it. Heart pounding, he walks up to it. It’s Donald, apparently mugged, face stomped, a torn wallet at his hand.

He fought desperately for that wallet, not for the currency in it but the words stitched into it: To my Einstein. –B. Between his fingers is clutched a picture—of a younger man and a pretty woman.

The dishwasher quits the following month. He is gone by summer’s end.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Psychological Evaluations of Byron, Shelley, and Keats

Creative Non-Fiction by Reagan Wolfe of Cerro Coso Community College
2015 Met Awards - First Place for College Creative Non-Fiction

San Jose City College
Disabled Poets Program & Services
2100 Moorpark Ave.
Poet Services Building
San Jose, CA. 95128

Re: Byron, Shelley and Keats


Names: Byron, Shelley and Keats
Sexes:  Male

File Name: Romantic Poets, Second Generation
Ages: All died before their time

Prepared for: San Jose Poets Clinic
Date of Report: 3.13.2014

Completed by: Reagan E. Wolfe, PhD, FACFE, DABPS


The information contained herein in this document is intended only for the individual addressed and may contain information that is privileged and prohibited from disclosure to any other party under the applicable law.  This information is to be considered extremely confidential and is to be released only to duly authorized agencies or individuals.  This information is intended only for the use of the individuals named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that reading, disseminating, disclosing, distributing, copying, acting upon or otherwise using this information in this document is strictly prohibited.

Presenting Problem:

John Keats is a white male who is in his early twenties.  He is self-referred for an evaluation to assess for a learning disability stemming from his inability as he reports to write poetry.  He states, “When I write poetry, it just doesn’t come as easy to me as it does for my contemporaries, although I do write a lot of material.” In addition, he reports an ongoing difficulty with attention, he is high-strung, and has distraction factors which in turn trigger a sense of depression.  The overall results of the Millon College Counseling Inventory (MCCI) point toward elevated scores of a moderate Anxiety disorder.  Results also suggest that he has difficulty with sustaining energy and effort with his many other tasks which include apothecary duties, medical training and assisting surgeons. He acknowledges he is experiencing a Dysthymic mood, resulting in a feeling of dejection and feelings of inadequacy, perhaps stemming from the loss of his parents at a young age.  In addition this mood may have caused his inability to commit full-time to writing poetry, sooner.  Last, he has an elevated score on the Clinical Personality Patterns on the Compulsive scale (score of 94) known as Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. This score suggests he can be behaviorally rigid, meticulous, may be a perfectionist and an overachiever. 

Presenting Problem:

Lord Byron A.K.A. George Gordon Byron, is a white male who is in his mid-thirties.  He was referred by Samuel T. Coleridge who was previously treated for a significant form of hero worship (Shakespeare and Milton).  Lord Byron presents himself as a larger than life person who actually writes about heroes perhaps as a way to fulfill unsatisfied desires or as a form of seeking an identity (perhaps one like Zorro).  He also admits that he is a risk-taker who has amassed large debts and who also has a sex-addiction.  He has an elevated score on the Clinical Personality Patterns on the Compulsive scale (score of 150) known as Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. This score suggests he has a repetitive lifestyle with patterned behaviors.  Fear of social disapproval can lead him to suppress his strong resentment and anger toward those whose approval he seeks. Results on the Brown Attention Deficit Scale – Adults indicate that there may be a function of attention deficit operating with this individual. Such individuals tend to be slow in getting started and have difficulty in getting organized, because of being scattered or being inhibited by worry (Organizing and activating for poetry).

Presenting Problem:

Percy Bysshe Shelley is a white male who is in his late twenties. He has been referred by his wife Mary who is concerned with his sociopathic tendencies.  Shelley states that he suffers from various phobias which culminated from a difficult childhood in which he was the victim of excessive bullying.  As a result of his bullying, he participated in sadistic behaviors that he attempted to downplay as harmless pranks.  These ‘pranks’ as he called them included electrifying doors.  With regard to Clinical Syndromes, results indicate that Mr. Shelley is feeling extremely apprehensive, (Anxiety, 82) or specifically phobic, is typically tense, indecisive, and restless.  He may experience a notable sense that problems are imminent.  For example, he may worry that he needs to fully represent common man in notable causes because poets are people who enact laws. He may also exhibit a hyperalertness to his environment (natural elements such as the sky and weather).  He also exhibits a generalized sense of tension.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Poem by Kelsey Saxton Hire, Senior at Burroughs High School
2015 Met Awards - First Place for High School Poetry

At seventeen
I never feel clean
I wear my
Stained cheeks
After weeks
When the
Silence breaks
And cuts
So deep
I can’t sleep

At seventeen
I always feel mean
I say
What I feel
As I
Try to heal
I see
Myself burn
As I
Try to learn

At seventeen
I never feel seen
I fall
To the floor
As I
Lose the war
My armor
Is darker
As my tears
And my fears
Lace a
Hopeful face

At seventeen
I do feel lifeless
But my
Tears truly
Remind me
I am
Human not
A mess

Monday, September 07, 2015


Poem by Jennifer Jones of Cerro Coso Community College
2015 Met Awards - First Place for College Poetry

A red string tied tight around a ring finger.
Reminds me of what,
or who, I'm tied to.
I try to live around it,
this inconvenience.
A red string that tangles in the fingers
of a nice boy. He stops holding my hand.
Sometimes I travel, wrap the red string
round my wrist, my arm.
Heartbeat drumming, I always turn around
and watch it unravel.

Monday, August 31, 2015


Short Story by Grace Kameyo Griego, 9th Grade, Union High School
2015 Met Awards - First Place for High School Fiction

I like to believe that I am in complete control of my life. The idea of destiny or that God has a plan for me is simply laughable. This is my life and I choose what to do with it. I chose to fall in love with my girlfriend, I chose to have sex with her to have a baby, I chose what career I wanted, and I will choose when I want to die. Yes, I am in control.

I saw something hilarious today. While driving to work, I saw a little boy trying to get a cat down from a tree. What a stupid boy. That cat won’t listen to you.

My boss fired me today. That’s okay though. I chose to slack off in my work, so it was my decision. I didn’t care for that job anyway.

On my way to an interview, I saw that boy again. The cat was sleeping and he still tried to climb up to reach it. Foolish.

I am choosing to drink alcohol. It is my decision despite what my girlfriend might tell you.

I go for drives now. Interviews are not my style and I could use something to take my mind off things. The boy got a ladder and tried to get the cat, but it scratched him and he fell. I smirked.

It wasn’t fate that made my girlfriend have a miscarriage. I think I wasn’t ready to be a father anyways. My girlfriend slapped me and cried when I told her this. She insisted I see a therapist for my “control issues.”

This is absurd. I don’t have any issues. I am just more in control of my life than she is. However, I will go to cheer her up. On my way there, I saw that the boy has given up on the cat. The cat still sleeps.

I told my therapist about that cat and boy and how funny it is to watch them and he looked at me worryingly. I hate that look. He asked how often I see these visions. I scoffed at him. How dare he suggest I’m crazy. Me, crazy? I’ll refuse to see that looney doctor ever again.

I’m not an alcoholic. I’m not. I like how it makes me feel. It makes me feel in control.

My girlfriend left me today. I shouldn’t say that. I’m the one who left her. While it’s true she’s the one who broke it off, I was the one who wasn’t happy in this relationship. It was my choice.

I haven’t seen that cat in a while.

My money is disappearing. I think someone stole my credit card. No matter, I’ll take care of that after one more bottle of whiskey.

I miss that cat.

I was evicted from my apartment today. I shouldn’t say that. Considering the situation and my lack of funds, I decided to seek shelter elsewhere. It was my decision. I’m in control.

My ex girlfriend came to see me today. She wept when she saw me and insisted on taking me to the hospital. On the drive there I saw that cat again. It looked frail as it stared at me with those bright red eyes.

The doctor stuck a needle in me and I stared at my bright red blood. I felt vulnerable and I hated it.

The doctor told me I was suffering from alcohol poisoning.

I yelled at my ex girlfriend for taking me there. I took a taxi home. It was my decision. I am in control.

After a morning of vomiting I decided to go on a walk. I went to see that cat. It looked so calm. It was barely breathing. It turned to me and spoke, “You are not in control.”

I was enraged.

“I have made every decision in my life. Me. No one else but me!” I screamed at the creature. People passing by stared at me. Mothers shielded their children’s’ eyes.

“Oh? You chose to be born? You chose to lose your love and job? You chose to have your first-born die before birth? You chose to be controlled by mere alcohol?”

I screamed and punched the tree. The cat fell.

“Yes! I am in control!” I cried out. The cat looked up at me and died without another word. I picked up the limp creature in my arms. I began to stroke its fur. Raindrops fell to the cat’s lifeless body. I wiped them away as I looked up with blurred vision at the clear, sunny sky.

Monday, August 24, 2015

We Are Gathered Here Today

Short Story by Jennifer Jones of Cerro Coso Community College
2015 Met Awards - First Place for College Fiction

Uncle Dewey is crying as he talks about how much he’ll miss Mom’s terrible jokes. Julie remembers the one about the used car and chokes out a laugh. Her fiancé doesn’t say anything. He just quietly reaches for her hand. It’s when he begins rubbing his thumb across her engagement ring that Julie remembers what exactly she’d been considering before getting the phone call about Mom.

It’s not that she doesn’t love him or anything. She does. Well, will eventually. She does really like him. Just that morning, before they got dressed in these clothes they’ll never wear again, he brought her coffee. It was made with just enough creamer. But those small moments of domesticity are outnumbered by something else. No amount of perfectly made coffee can help her when she is overwhelmed with that unnamed feeling that constricts her lungs. Like now, as she contemplates making a human-shaped hole in the cream-colored wall behind her mother’s casket. Her staring contest with the wallpaper is interrupted by Uncle Dewey clearing his throat.

“Gloria is …was a great sister and friend. But she was also a wonderful mother. I remember when she first had little Julie. She was so happy. Being a mother was all she wanted.”

Julie bows her head, feeling the room’s attention being directed at her. She doesn’t risk looking at Uncle Dewey right now. Her mother was wonderful. She was lucky to have had the mom that made school lunches and led the P.T.A. But Uncle Dewey is telling everyone the version of the story that has a fairytale ending. Behind the smiling and warm hugs was a woman that gave up her dreams for her husband that didn’t want to leave their hometown. Her mother gave up her hopes of an acting career so she could make honey hams and scrub the linoleum sparkling clean. Julie remembers every time her mom’s façade broke. She remembers every single time her mom had a bad day and talked about what she could have been. But the next morning she’d be making a full breakfast for Dad and singing along to the radio as if nothing had happened.

Her fiancé’s hand on top of her own feels like a lead weight. Sometimes, when they are sitting at home and watching television, Julie feels like he’s taking all the air out of the room. She imagines he’s taking deeper breaths on purpose. As if he’s conspiring to turn her into a shell of herself. Or maybe into a pretty corpse that’ll follow her future husband around and drive a big, red S.U.V.

“Julie. Hey, are you okay?” Her fiancé is gripping her hand, and the movement pushes the engagement ring on her finger sideways. The flawless diamond is stabbing into her skin. It’s enough to put a stop to thoughts of being a smiling, Stepford-zombie.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Do you want to go up and see her?”

Uncle Dewey is already finished with the eulogy and sitting down. Julie looks around and sees everyone is hugging, crying, or a sad combination of the two. And she realizes that she’s doing neither. Julie nods and lets herself be led by her fiancé out of the pew and up the carpeted walkway. It feels like a slow eternity by the time they are both standing in front of the casket covered in several bouquets of roses. Julie pulls away from the grasp of her fiancé to pick up a stray petal.

“You know, she always said that she wanted daisies. I didn’t like to talk about funeral stuff, but she made sure that I knew that. I should’ve remembered.” Julie’s fiancé looks up from studying the roses, biting his lip before saying,

“Julie, I-“

“No, it’s okay. The roses are just as good. I’m sure she would’ve liked them.” They continue to stand there, looking down on the closed casket. Julie thinks about how her mother didn’t really get what she wanted in life. Even at her own damn funeral.

She feels her fiancé trying to take the petal out of her hand. She looks down and sees that it’s been crushed in her palm.

Monday, April 20, 2015

2015 Met Award Winners Announced!


Cerro Coso
First Place
Jennifer Jones for “We Are Gathered Here Today”

Second Place
Rey David Morales for “Donald”

Honorable Mentions
Shari Allison for “Father Nickolas”
Meritzel Herrera for “Ignorance is Bliss
Korinza Elaine Shlanta for “January 17, 2438”
Austin Ream for “Sweet Mary Jane”
High School 
First Place
Grace Kameyo Griego for “Control”

Second Place
Sydney Marler for “Ambition”

Honorable Mentions
Emma Gilmartin for “The Real Coward”


Cerro Coso
First Place
Jennifer Jones for “Undecided”

Second Place
Sophie R Walker for “Hummingbird”

Honorable Mentions
Michelle A. Lundberg for “Mom”
Alas Tarin for “The Last Supper”
Steffeni M. Moreno for “Repeat”
High School
First Place
Kelsey Saxton Hire for “Seventeen”

Second Place
Emma K. Heflin for “Paper Skin”

Honorable Mention
Emma Gilmartin for “The Steppe Girl”

Creative Non-Fiction

Cerro Coso
First Place
Reagan Wolfe for “San Jose City College”

Second Place
Alex Tellez for “The Greatest Story”

Monday, November 24, 2014


Fiction by Krista Kenny of Cerro Coso Community College
2014 Met Awards - Honorable Mention for College Fiction

“I’m healed,” she says. She sits in front of me smiling a smile I have never before seen on her lips. This is the first time I’ve seen my mom in a week. The plan had been for her to stay in rehab for much longer, but after several unexplainable days of neither pain nor withdrawal symptoms, the doctors had no reason to keep her. When she had told me on the phone that she wasn’t in pain anymore, I cried. I have been praying for this day since I was old enough to understand the concept, but I had never imagined that such a surreal event would have such a mundane setting: sitting in our house—in a chair I had sat in before on so many dull days—hearing that everything had changed. It didn’t seem real. But sitting in front of her today, in the same chair, it is impossibly real. I can hardly get a word in edgewise with all her stories of rehab: the friends she made, the food she ate, the bafflement of the doctors when she never entered withdrawal for the Oxycontin, and then stopped feeling the pain of the fibromyalgia altogether. She’s catching up really, for all the words that through the years the pain had wrested from her mind and strangled in her throat. My mom likes to talk, I realize for the first time in my nineteen years with her. My mom likes to laugh. Her laugh sounds alien to my ears though, which have so often heard her cry. Her smile is foreign to my eyes, which have become so used to her grimace. The sense of dissimilarity is overpowering. She starts to talk about all of the things we can do together now that she’s healed, all of the things she has to make up for as a mother. Her pretty words fall on me like half-unwanted caresses. My memories persist in dragging me back to all the other words I’ve heard from her, words so often filled with the venom of her pain, and all the hate and anger that had no other convenient target. I don’t blame her for those words. I’d long since gotten in the habit of ignoring the pain when it decided to speak through her. But this mother—the one that isn’t fighting the pain for words—she doesn’t seem like mine. Her arms, so strong and sure when she embraced me, aren’t the wary, trembling arms that have gingerly hugged me so many times before. The manner of her every minute gesture is strange to me without the weight of the pain dragging at her limbs. The adult in me is happy of course and reminds me over and over that this is my real mother; all the years before this were the façade. But there is a child in me screaming, screaming that the smiling, laughing person in front of me is an imposter, a mimic come to live the life my mom had wanted. Her strange laughter seems a mockery of all the years my mother had lived with the pain. It had become no more bearable but all the more familiar. In being given the thing I had begged God for my entire life, I feel somehow robbed of my mommy. But I cannot let it show. My feelings would hurt her, and I have been too thoroughly conditioned to never do anything that would hurt her. So I talk with her, and laugh with her, and put on a smile that I have never before worn on my lips. My mind tells me that God is present in this, but my heart tells me that he—and my mother—are further from me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Montmartre, Paris

Poem by Janace Tashjian of Cerro Coso Community College
2014 Met Awards - Honorable Mention for College Poetry

She wept
and weeds grew around her feet
the black cat leapt

Words inept
granite cloak to hold her seat
she wept

Hooded eyes as shadows crept
across each stone, hide ... retreat
the black cat leapt

Endless mourning; below he slept
above, scorching freezing sleet
She wept

Barren bracken o'er the crypt
ravens swoop and caw conceit
the black cat leapt

Eternal. Wind swept
oh beauty! The bell tolls "Silence"!
she wept
the black cat leapt

Monday, November 10, 2014

An Irrelevant Edge

Fiction by Aubrey Elliott of Cerro Coso Community College
2014 Met Awards - Honorable Mention for College Fiction

“I wasted the best years of my life with you,” she said bitterly as the conversation escalated into a fight.

“You gave me the best years of my life,” he replied with an underlying meaning he knew she would mistake.

“You’ve held me back from the life I wanted to live,” she said missing his point.

“All I’ve ever done was try to better your life anyway I could.” True as it was, he knew it left no impact.

“Everything you say is a lie,” she said, perfectly aware of the nerve she would hit.

“What will make you happy?” He asked feeling obligated to do so.

“He makes me happy,” with that she unleashed the true cause of their withering marriage. It struck him speechless even though he had known it for a while. He didn’t need to know a name or any details once she confirmed his suspicions.

For their son’s sake, he would have tolerated the treachery, but he knew she wouldn’t be gratified by merely a new escort. She wanted the freedom to indulge in the vices he tried to save her from.

He was mournful that his marriage would have to end in such an unscrupulous way. Her selfish lust was an affliction on him and he resented her for it; but he held back form retaliation. He wasn’t ashamed by what his wife’s inconsiderate actions would reflect on himself; rather he knew her actions would leave a more devastating impact on others at stake. So when he was asked why his marriage was ending, he would say “I wasn’t making her happy,” to distract from, but not lie about, the real reason.

He kept her guilty actions out of the picture and let her take half of everything he worked for in the divorce. But in the custody battle for their son, against his conscience, he exposed her dependency on entangling types of escape. He tried not to stain her image as much as he could, even though she had already done so to herself. He tried to make the court hearings and the arguments that followed them as painless as possible. She made his attempts at being passive difficult; not seeing his motives for being so distant, and would spark an argument, after every hearing, spitting painful retorts at him, while he held his breath. And after the final verdict, she privately lashed out at him for what she perceived as delusive nobility.

“You should have just exposed my affair; half of your hard work isn’t worth your smug stance. It’s just like you to try and keep your higher ground.”

He tried to refrain from giving the impression of pretention but there was no better way to express the honesty of his motives, “I didn’t do it for me,” he told her.

Scornfully she argued, “I don’t need you to spare me.”

He took his son from her arms. And as she kissed her son goodbye, he told her “I didn’t do it for you either.” And he walked away without holding his breath anymore.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Snow Walk

Poem by Katy Harvey of Cerro Coso Community College
2014 Met Awards - Honorable Mention for College Poetry

spring snow in Tahoe
pitching pinecones, gentle wind.
diggin' earth this day.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Society of Last Hope

Short Story by Shari Allison of Cerro Coso Community College
2014 Met Awards - Honorable Mention for College Fiction

This group sits in a circle. I hate circles; maybe it is because it’s the unhealthy mix of a childhood game combined with the intrusive familiarity of needy adults. Whatever the reason, the blend equals a cake made with tablespoons of salt and baking soda instead of teaspoons. Truly cringe worthy. Still, I take a seat because all my other options are gone.

A lot of people say that you earn a seat here, I feel more like I paid for mine. Based on the looks of the chair, I’d say I got ripped off. There is a slit in the plastic surface right in the center of the bottom cushion. The indentations tell me that all the butts before me didn’t appear to mind sitting on a chair whose stuffing had long ago escaped. Where ever that stuffing is, I’m sure it is in a better place than I am. Regardless, I take a seat. Instantly I’m reminded that the cushion is on vacation.

To distract myself from the others who are starting to gather I look at my hands. They are dry and cracked, I really should take better care of them. The hangnails are discouraging, but the real worry about my hands is that they are shaking. It is a movement I’ve become accustom to, and have learned to work around. I have coffee. It’s not in one of those Styrofoam cups built to withstand heat and unintentionally designed to outlive the human race. My trembling fingers would quickly distribute that cup’s contents onto myself, the floor, and any neighboring party who happened to walk by. No. There is no way I am going to embarrass myself by that potential. I brought decaffeinated coffee from home in a Bubba cup. A great big purple and stainless steel container with a spill resistant lid. They didn’t specifically advertise the canister for my particular ailment, but it works.

From the corner of my eye I can see the donated yard-sale type chair to my right has now become occupied. The intrusion begins. It is no longer me sitting in a circle of miss-matched chairs. People are moving toward the circle, it makes me think of the salty cake and I visibly cringe. I can feel the body heat of strangers pressing in on me. There is a rush of movement, smells, noise, all pushing in against my isolated musings. They move with purpose, and a desire to translate their time spent here as accomplishing an objective. My goal is more closely related to survival.

The neighbor to my right says something. A cloud of stench wafts by me. Bourbon, I think. It’s hard to say, my olfactory capacity is breached. The smell of coffee, old furniture, and perfumed bodies has drowned-out my identifying facilities. It doesn’t really matter anyway. A few drinks before coming here seems saner than coming stone-cold sober. Sadly I’ve missed the open window of opportunity to dilute my mental acuity to an oblivious state. I get to take it all in, including everything I don’t want.

“Okay everyone, it is time to get started. Please come in and take a seat.” Instructs a female voice.

I continue to stare at my hands. I’m not here to make friends.

“Now, you are all here for the same reason. You are probably thinking to yourself, that the last thing you want to do is make friends, but I will warn you—it is the people in this room who will help you to reach your goal.” I’m beginning to hate our mindreading leader already.

“We will take a break in thirty minutes. I will sign report cards at the break after you submit for the blood test. We test for drugs, alcohol, tobacco and alike. No blood test, no signature.”

There is mumbling in the room and several people including the guy to my right, get up and leave. Club rules state no alcohol. I abided.

“Okay,” starts up our leader after the brief interval, “now that those who are serious are left, we can begin tonight’s meeting of the Broken Hearts Club.”

I want to leave. To escape from this joke of coercive assembly. The problem is they hold my life in their hands, and my survival depends on any whim they set.

“You are here because your lifestyle puts you at risk. Doctors don’t like to give hearts to people who don’t take care of them.” I can feel her eyes sizing up the group. “This program will keep you on the donor list. If you stop attendance for any reason other than hospitalization, you lose your priority status.”

Determination forces me to adjust my butt in the cushion-less chair for the long haul.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Circa 2003

Short Story by John Schneider of Cerro Coso Community College
2014 Met Awards - Honorable Mention

A supermarket parking lot
In Newbury Park was my office
I sat saturated with
Careless ennui in the morning sunlight
That warmed my car's interior
Looking at letters to send, counting my change

When I saw them
Two unselfconscious lovers
Cuddling nuzzling
Head to head, head to neck
Face to chest

Oblivious to many nearby
Walking or sitting or driving or existing
On foot or in clever
Wheeled or fixed boxes
Careless of the couples
Public, unashamed amour

A tree branch spanning high
Over market's wall
Was their lovers' perch
On swaying twig-tip they stood close
Two crows engaged in airy foreplay

Ignorant of us ignorant to them

In their bliss

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Rosary

Short Story by Amanda Taylor of Cerro Coso Community College
2014 Met Awards - 2nd Place for College Fiction

I think about death every day. I don’t know if that makes me terribly normal or just plain morbid. I guess neither of those reasons are anything to be proud of, so what’s the use in deciding? I don't care about what happens to me after I die-I’ll have to face it myself and find out for sure. What concerns me is the deadline. I wonder if I'll get snuffed out like a candle before I'm able to get married or see my children grow up. Will my good works add up in the end or will my wrong turns define my life? My great-grandfather died last October and his loss has barely begun to sink in. I knew him from his 70s on and although I knew he would eventually die, part of me felt he was an exception. He was the only father I’d known for most of my life and was a constant source of fascination. He had lost all his teeth in World War II and never wore a set of dentures for the rest of his life. I remember staring at him in disbelief when watching him crunch on tortilla chips or tear into a prime rib with nothing but his bare gums. I remember how he would kneel by his bed and pray for hours a day with his glow in the dark rosary and his prayer books, stained greasy brown by his crooked, wrinkled fingers. I thought that rosary was the greatest. Even though anything glow in the dark is a marvel when you’re eight-years-old, my grandpa’s rosary made me believe in God, the saints and maybe even Santa Claus. My grandpa was the one who took me to church as a child I remember how much I wish I could say my prayers with that rosary that lit up like my Jurassic Park poster at night. The first time I walked into his room after he died, I spotted the long forgotten rosary strewn across his night stand. I grabbed it in my hand and felt the beads shift between my fingers. I could feel the grit, deposited by years of feverish whispers and kisses, that was forever trapped between the joints between the beads. What used to be a coveted treasure suddenly lost all its former glory. It felt so utterly cheap because at that moment what I wanted more than anything was my grandpa, the person who drove me to school and played cards with me, to be alive. Instead, all I have is this odd relic of a life I will never fully understand. At that moment, I felt the full weight of his loss that I didn’t feel when I kissed his cheek as he drew his last breaths. I felt the full weight of that shame because at the moment he left this world, I was more concerned with my own life than his death. When I'm dead, will anyone hold my most prized possession and realize that I was the treasure worth keeping?

Monday, October 06, 2014

The 20th Year

Poem by Korinza Shlanta of Cerro Coso Community College
2014 Met Awards - 2nd Place for College Poetry

How my soul is filled with trepidation,
And my path seems covered by growth
Or perhaps it's the dilapidation
Or even just the loss of my own oath.
How I swore to be better and achieve
My dreams in quick strides, but my pace is slow.
In my twentieth year I shall not grieve.
I have time ahead, so little in tow.
A decade ahead, a decade behind,
Fewer seasons seem to pass before me.
Yet, I learn to shape my body and mind
From my thoughts into actions you can see.
I will clear my own path with my own thought.
A path for me I follow not for naught.

Monday, September 29, 2014

To the Artist

Poem by Emma Heflin
2014 Met Awards - 2nd Place for High School Poetry

To the artist Who himself is a work of art.
Your paintings of war and earth and misery
Are nothing compared to what I see.
Because war and earth and misery
Are sad, sometimes beautiful, too.
Anyone can see how that is true.
But nobody sees you the way I do.
My artist
Who himself is a work of art.