Author: SARodriguez

Some Questions for Elias Bailey

What inspired you to write “Inseparable”?
My inspiration for Inseparable is the loss of my mother and father so close together just prior to Covid. They stay on my mind constantly, and I’m sure they would be happy for my time here a LAGCC.

What was your writing process like for “Inseparable”?
My process was revision, revision, and more revision!

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
Covid has given me much time to contemplate. This time can be good or bad, depending on how we wish to spend our time.

Read Elias Bailey’s “Inseparable.”


by Elias Bailey

Above you, father, a video montage is displaying the most joyful and carefree moments of your life before we met. Wonderful images of you as a little boy playing with your siblings, wearing clothes you had yet to grow into while still showing the exact same mischievous smile we all know and love. I smile at the love felt through these photos, and I can finally picture the world you’ve described to me countless times as pictures of you in your military fatigues, holding your infant daughters flash through the screen. I can hear your laughter and feel your excitement. I look down and notice you are wearing that new grey suit mother insisted on getting you. Oh, how you hated ties, but you look so elegant!

My head swirls with images of our brief, yet transformative time together. I was a self centered teenager, when you started courting my mother. I remember coming home from school and meeting you as you were fixing her car. Instead of me being grateful and welcoming you, I was cold and just shy of rude towards you. I imagined I was being protective of my mother, as she had recently come out of a relationship where she was taken advantage. She raised me as a single mother before that was a respected thing while running her own business as a Chimney Sweep, “Mary Poppins Chimney Sweeps.” She carried every piece of equipment in her bright yellow van and did every aspect of this very physical job by herself until she could afford employees. She was tenacious and fierce, yet also beginning her physical decline. She had recently closed the business and I just didn’t want to see her hurt. You so kindly asked to speak with me privately and said, “I really care for your mother, and would like to see her with your blessing.” I  gave you a big hug, but Inside I wanted to cry. I understood that you appreciated her, and I realized I had just come face to face with true integrity. I was thrilled when you moved in a couple months later.

The next year came with many changes, beginning with mother fracturing her ankle while the two of you were moving from Newport News to Richmond. As you and I spoke on the phone you said, “Don’t worry about your mother, you just concentrate on finishing high school. I’m going to take care of her, and wheel her into your graduation.” You did exactly that. You prepared every meal for her, and helped her bathe and dress. I was completely dumbfounded when as mother was starting to walk again, she called me to tell me about your accident. 

“Honey, Carroll has had a terrible accident.” 

“ WHAT?!” 

“ He’s been hit in the back of the head with a gun, because he didn’t want to give a kid his wallet.” 

“ Mom, is he ok?”

 “He’s ok, but he has some numbness in his neck and legs, and I’m very worried.” 

“Don’t worry, mom, he’ll be ok, he’s tough as nails.” 

 My juvenile mind wouldn’t consider any other thoughts, or possibilities other than complete recovery. I didn’t take this seriously, and in fact was only thinking about going to the beach with my friends.

When mother called me up a few days later to ask me to pick you up from the small town hospital near your parents, I didn’t really think much about it as I began making the hour-long trip along the James River, basking in the sights and smells of birds and trees with grasshoppers chirping so loudly it overpowered the car engine. Upon reaching the hospital I was a bit surprised to see you slumped over in a wheelchair with disheveled hair. I wasn’t immediately concerned as I walked towards you through perfectly manicured grounds of dogwood trees and flowers coupled with the smell of freshly cut grass only to reach you and become consumed by the smell of urine and body odor. 

I was so upset that you were left here alone in this state of neglect and was ready to go complain, when you very calmly said, “It’s not worth it because they don’t believe me. We need to leave.” 

I was in shock, but did as you requested and upon reaching my tiny 1990 Ford Tempo realized that you were completely paralyzed, and I had no idea how to transfer you out of the small wheelchair. 

You very calmly instructed me, “Try laying the seat back, and then grab me under my arms and put my head in. Save my feet for last.”  

I was amazed that it worked and that we were on our way towards The Medical College of Virginia where you could receive proper care. 

“ Are you in pain?” Do you think they can perform surgery or something?” I asked. 

You replied calmly, “I’m not in any pain, but it’s frustrating.I think they’ll be able to help me at MCV. I’m just glad to be out of that place where they thought I was faking.” 

Shortly after our arrival at MCV hospital, a team of specialists approached the car with a wheelchair and a giant wooden board. They transferred you as if it were a well choreographed dance routine carried out by the most skilled professionals. It was reassuring to realize you would be receiving excellent medical care. As I left the hospital, I became aware of the movement of my legs for the first time.

  I never imagined you would have remained quadriplegic for the remainder of your life, or that mother would transition so gradually and lovingly into her role as your caretaker or that she would cease to think of herself in any other capacity. When you left this world she felt purposeless. Mother’s heartbreak led her to join you almost 3 months to the day of your passing. Mollie and Carroll, your love is everlasting. Mother and father, your teachings and love are forever beside me, inseparable.

Elias Bailey served as co-editor in chief for The Lit in 2022. He is a four-time Grammy nominated jazz bassist who has been pursuing a Journalism major at LAGCC since March 2021.

Image credit: “Tree,” roberto vagner melo. Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Some Questions for Edernis Adames

What inspired you to write “Breaking the Mold”?
Breaking the Mold was actually an assignment for English 101. We were asked to write a narrative about the turning points in our academic careers. I chose to talk about the connection between learning attitudes and academic experiences. I also chose to discuss how often in school, students are taught to absorb and regurgitate content instead of being taught to learn. By recalling three different times in my academic timeline where my relationship with school and learning differed, I attempted to show how I was able to come to this realization.

What was your writing process like for “Breaking the Mold”?
I started by mapping out things in my academic career that I could take inspiration from. Once I knew what I wanted to express and got myself in a coffee-induced groove, the words just flowed through me. My problem is that sometimes I say too much, so my first draft of Breaking the Mold was over 3000 words. I struggle with perfectionism, often getting discouraged and giving up when my writing isn’t flawless. I had to make the realization that there is an infinite way to say things and that no first or even final draft will be objectively perfect. After that, it was a bit easier to kill my word babies. I edited and rewrote until I got to something that was more concise and clearly developed.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
I was not the best writer in high school and usually struggled with writing essays and narratives. During Covid-19 quarantine I was able to use writing as an outlet for my feelings and subsequently develop my skills. I also started reading for fun again in my downtime, which exposed me to a plethora of different writing styles.

Read Edernis Adames’ “Breaking the Mold.”

Breaking the Mold

by Edernis Adames

The lopsided desk wobbled as I took a seat. My legs barely fit under it. I moved my arm to reveal the etchings that covered the wooden top of the desk, one specifically being a heart with initials in it, the remnants of a forgotten middle school romance. The rows of desks urged us to sit up straight and silent. It was at that moment that we stopped being students and became terracotta statues in catholic school uniforms. Behind me were tall bookcases full of decade old textbooks and bibles. I pulled at my neckline, the faultless tie choking me as I turned my head. Thinking back on it, the tie was probably some sadistic way our school stopped us from turning our attention away from the dark green chalkboard that stretched across the front of the classroom. In the top corner, right above the teacher’s desk, was the teacher’s name and the date. Both were written in a delicate cursive. The calculated swoops of the o’s and the mesmerizing tails that grew out of the ends of words were almost hypnotic. At that point of my life, I loved rules and order. Doing things the very way others expect them to be done now seems overrated.

“Can I erase this?” asked the teacher. Without waiting for a response, Mrs. Ferreira put the battered eraser to use. My pencil moved across the composition notebook with an incomparable fervor. I would write at the speed of light if I could to avoid the shame of admitting I needed more time. Mrs. Ferreira would do popcorn reading every other day. We were reading Night by Elie Weisel. I was always a bookworm. To this day I always carry a book whenever I can (currently I’m reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and Warriors Never Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals). “Matthew, you can read after this next paragraph,” Mrs. Ferriera said as she conducted her symphony of voice cracks and pubescent voices. Annoyance plagued the room, but nothing could be done. “The… Miss what is the next word,” Matthew asked embarrassed. “The word is ‘ghetto’, Matthew,” a classmate from the back said, irked. I gripped my copy of the book. That new book smell painted the inside of my nose. I began to tune out Matthew’s stolid reading. The words on the pages enticed me and teleported me to the past. I could almost touch the sadness and desperation on the narrator’s face. I turned page after page and before I knew it I was eleven pages ahead of my classmates. Belkis turned around from the desk in front of mine, “It’s your turn,” her thick Dominican accent undid the enchantment the book had put on me and transported me back to Brooklyn. “Where are we?” I asked sheepishly. “Were you reading ahead again?” Mrs. Ferreira asked. A note was sent home to my parents that I was not being cooperative in class. She underestimated my savvy though. “Que dice,” Mami asked about the note. “That I’m doing a good job during reading time,” I said as I slyly slipped the note in the trash. This was my first real act of defiance. Unimpressive, I know, but I started to question my goodie-two-shoes attitude, a name I grew up hearing a lot about myself. If they could just see me now.

As the snow crunched under my feet, I couldn’t help but think about how much I had changed since then. Now a college freshman, my priorities had shifted from being a certified book worm to partying. I shook my head back into my reality as contagious giggles, indistinct chatter, and lighter flicks echoed through the open stretch of forest. I looked out beyond, past my friends’ heads, in awe at the vastness of Lake Ontario. I’d been there a million times, it was really the only thing to do that late at SUNY Oswego, besides crashing a random frat open where enjoyment comes solely from being inebriated. There was something so freeing about watching the icey waves crash onto the rocks with terrifying force. The wind sang, trying to upstage the folksy music (“This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads) that played. An anonymous voice shouted from the crowd, “Who’s playing this white people shit?” Frozen fingers fumbled to put on something else (“Tweakin Together” by Bktherula). This was my safe haven away from acknowledging how broken that book-loving, rule-following girl became. I blew into my cupped hands and pulled out my phone. 3:33 AM. 27 missed calls from Mami. My heart jumped out of my chest, flopping into my hands like slippery soap. She knew that I hadn’t been to class in weeks. I threw my headphones on (“It Gets Better (With Time)” by The Internet). I walked back, passed the singing drunk girls, the food delivery drivers, the RAs standing where someone threw up. This was college for me. None of the work, all of the play. The work was doable, I just didn’t feel motivated enough to care. I stirred in my empty room, laid on my back, and put my music all the way up (“Solo” by Frank Ocean) to avoid the intense guilt I felt. Cracked and chipped under the pressure of perfection. Missing weeks of class at a time and not turning in any assignments isn’t the best way to get a degree.

After coming home to the city that raised me, I decided to stay, even if that meant hour long MTA commutes. My feet were iron anchors, but I still felt my body sway with the 7 train. I held on to the cold metal pole, as I hid my smile. ”The next stop is 33rd Street,” announced the monotonous pre-recorded message. I raised my headphones to an alarming volume (“Great Day” by MADVILLAIN). The unsmiling faces of the people on the train blurred into the background as I looked past them at Queens Boulevard. The brick buildings rushed past me, but for a second, life moved slow. I could feel the smooth pole cooling down my fingers as I held on. I could hear the drums and melodic piano of the song vibrating in my ear. I could smell the still air of the full train cart. I could taste the melody I hummed while I listened to the music. Most of all though, I could see myself as I stepped off the train taking long steps towards a new beginning. A chance at change.

I’ve come a long way. Everything that has happened to me up to this point were lessons. I had to grow up being a rule follower. I had to break the mold. It was never very stable anyways. It was made out of kissass clay, coated in a glaze of expectations and fired in a kiln for unfulfilled things. I’ve decided to ditch the mold all together. I’m sculpting by hand now, freestyling. Taking my time with each and every inch of my sculpture. Everyone’s artistic process is different. I’m sure I’ll end up with a masterpiece, but I’m not even close to being done.

Edernis Adames is a first-year student at LaGuardia Community College. They are currently studying Adolescent Education with a concentration in Spanish. They previously transferred from SUNY College at Oswego. They take inspiration from authors like Junot Diaz and Isabel Allende. Born in the Dominican Republic, Edernis Adames was raised in both Cypress Hills, Brooklyn and South Jamaica, Queens. They have a general interest in educational justice, books, and music. Their hobbies include reading, watching random YouTube videos about information they will never need, and playing the guitar not very well.

Image credit: “The Potter 2,” Martine Roch. Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Some Questions for Viviana Peña

What inspired you to write “The Birth”?
I was inspired to write “The Birth” by an experience I had during labor. I realized while writing this story how deep the wounds were from my experience, and how important it was to write about these fictional characters and their experience. A woman in labor should have whomever she’d like witnessing the labor of her child.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
COVID has taught me that all my stories are important. It’s also given me a chance to be more creative.

Read Viviana Peña’s “The Birth.”

The Birth

by Viviana Peña

It was time for Francesca to push, she felt exhausted from being poked and prodded. The repeated questions from the nurse about how she was feeling made her anxious. She wished she could just stand, but she felt the pressure on her back and her belly tighten. Her husband asked, “Who do you want in the room? Your mom or my mom?” Francesca responded as quickly as possible through increasing discomfort, “My mom!” It had been a heated discussion the entire pregnancy. She had expressed how delicate a moment it was, and how a woman in labor had the undoubtable right to choose who witnessed the birth of her child. The mother-in-law came short of creating a powerpoint presentation on why she should be the one to witness the birth. “He’s my first grandchild,” she insisted, reminding all of them that Francesca’s first child, a daughter, could never be her first grandchild. Deep down Francesca knew her mother-in-law would push her way in like she had pushed her way into all their summer vacations: Virginia Beach, Jamaica, Bahamas, their week in Maine.

Francesca closed her eyes as Owen exited the room, she focused on her hardening belly. When it subsided she opened her eyes to find the mother-in-law standing before her— beaming in her Bob Marley shirt. She smiled victoriously as if to say “I told you I’d win.” For a second, Francesca lost her ability to hear. Suddenly she was back in their apartment arguing with Owen about whether his mother would take her daughter to Florida for the summer even though the little girl didn’t want to go. Owen’s mother was selective on when the girl was and wasn’t her grandchild. “She’s going and that’s final,” he’d said.

Francesca heard the nurse say, “Ok, mom, give it all you got.” She was hit with a fervent wave of rage that traveled from her feet to the top of her head. She couldn’t focus, but her son was eager to make his exit. The contraction intensified as if someone were putting her in a really small corset. “On three give us a good one,” said the nurse. The mother-in-law’s close proximity sent chills down Francesca’s back. Francesca noticed her beautiful dark skin against her unsightly blonde wig. Her hand rested on Francesca’s knee, her acrylic nails a vibrant pink. On each index finger a carefully placed acrylic bow. Even without uttering a word, she was the loudest person in the room. Francesca didn’t understand the mother-in-law’s style and knew she never would. Francesca pictured everyone else in the room joking about the wig and the nails afterward.

Hours later the baby was born. He was small and pale compared to her daughter. She was reminded of the conversation she’d had with her cousin Marisol about how to know if the child would darken with time. Marisol said, “If the tops of his ears and his testes are dark, he’ll be brown.” She glanced over at his ears and genitals, he’d soon show signs of his African American roots. Francesca didn’t care what the baby’s complexion would be. She came from a family of both light and dark shades. It felt strange to discuss how dark his skin would become. However, it was extremely important to Owen’s family that he not be as light as her daughter, and they made that very clear during the pregnancy.

She heard the mother-in-law say, “The prince is here!”

Francesca thought how ignorant she sounded, and instantly felt a flush of embarrassment on her face. In that instance, she missed her daughter. She thought of her little hand and her dimples. Francesca felt a lump in her throat and the sting of impending tears forming, it made her wish for her own mother. The mother-in-law took pictures of the baby from afar as the nurses took his weight and prepared him for the hospital nursery. She and Owen hugged and congratulated each other on the newborn’s arrival. Francesca watched from the bed as they joyfully walked out of the room, each of them eager to be the first to relay news about the baby to the rest of the family waiting.

Hours later Francesca’s mother was finally let in to see her. She immediately recognized Francesca’s despondency from looking at her watery eyes. “No te ponga triste mi hija, que dios no desampara,” she said. “Owen wouldn’t allow me in for the birth, but we were all praying.” Francesca asked about her daughter, she was anxious to see her. Her mother assured she’d bring her the following day.

The next morning after the nurse brought the newborn in, she held him up to her breast for the second time and adjusted his small head to feed. He had dark hair that covered a portion of his forehead. She leaned in to kiss his small checks. He squirmed, still trying to find her nipple. The scent of baby powder lingered on his tiny white hospital shirt. She had forgotten how relaxing that smell was. She removed his socks to examine his small feet, lightly passing her index finger on the bottom. He crunched his legs as she did. She chuckled and thought “He’s ticklish!”

Viviana Peña served as co-editor in chief for The Lit in 2022. She is a single mother of two born and raised in New York City. She’s a full-time Creative Writing major at LaGuardia Community College.  She’s a lover of languages and words.  She aspires to continue her education after La Guardia and major in Romance Languages, and eventually travel writing. Her hobbies include hiking and biking, and spending time with her children.

Image credit: “Mother and Child,” Randy Caldwell. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Some Questions for Arben Alovic

What inspired you to “Cherry Blossoms”?
Call me a sucker for a love poem? In all reality, I’m really not a love poet. I can’t say I ever have been, but I wanted to capture a moment in the spring when I fell in love, even if that moment has gone like the seasons. Though whenever spring does come around, it’s like I can feel the memory in the breeze.

What was your writing process like for “Cherry Blossoms”?
Honesty is the best policy! There is no writing process! There never is. I wrote this in one sitting; no editing, no changes and no planning. I wanted the piece to capture the moment so whatever I wrote in the moment is how the piece would remain. Writing isn’t perfect and it doesn’t need to be. Focus on sincerity.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
I can’t say it has impacted my work much. If anything, I wanted to take some time to break away from my usual writing style and write happier poems that could remind everyone that, “Hey, COVID changed our lives. We can’t go back to the way it was but life is still beautiful. We still have many moments to look forward to. These bad days will end soon; they have to. Just don’t give up.”

Read Arben Alovic’s “Cherry Blossoms.”

Some Questions for Alicia Evans

What inspired you to write “Love in Quarantine”?
During COVID I thought about what happens now to the couples that were living as roommates. Now they are forced to spend time together, to speak to each other. Since I believe in happily ever after, they work it out and find love again. Love inspired me to write “Love In Quarantine.” With all the sadness during the pandemic, I wanted to show that love prevails. Sometimes we lose sight of what is important and with work and dedication, we can get it back if we really want it. Love takes work. It is not always pretty or easy.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
COVID taught me to just write. Don’t let fear stand in your way, just write. My stories changed, my characters changed as well. They are a little more sensitive to the world that they live in.

Read Alicia Evans’ “Love in Quarantine.”

Some Questions for Angelica I. Ayala

What inspired you to write “Sunlight”?
My mental health journey inspired me to create this poem. With my partner by my side, it has definitely given me the motivation to step into sunlight instead of choosing isolation. My relationship with my partner inspired me to write “Sunlight.” They have stood by me even when I have pushed them and I believe the love they radiate is one of the brightest things.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
Surprisingly, COVID-19 has actually aided my creative work. I have been able to shush the crowded thoughts and really get into the core of my being while hiding in my little cave.

Read Angelica I. Ayala’s “Sunlight.”

Some Questions for Clare Kenefick

What inspired you to write “Polarized Politics”?
I have been writing more poems again in the past year or so and I am the only one who usually gets to see them. One of my professors made an announcement in class about The Lit and I thought it would be a great opportunity to try to share some of my work.

What was your writing process like for “Polarized Politics”?
I was in English 102 with Professor Terry Cole who is really great at encouraging creativity. Professor Cole had an assignment for his class that had several prompts, one included writing a poem. I started the poem but gave up and submitted a different prompt to the assignment. Professor Cole asked me to share the poem I had written. I edited it again before submitting it. In the poem I was thinking of how many of us can be stubborn and only see things from one side, our side. This is especially true in politics. I wanted to write about what each side of a different perspective sees when looking at one another.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
I feel I have been writing more. The stresses of COVID and the devastation it has had on so many people we can see on the news and around the city. I also have watched the resilience and coming together of people, which has been really beautiful and has inspired me to watch people and write about what I see.

Read Clare Kenefick’s “Polarized Politics.”