Category: 2022 Edition

Some Questions for Kiara Byrd

What inspired you to write “Blank”?
I wrote this piece for my ENG271 course this semester, my Professor Carrie Conners thought that the poetry my class wrote at that point was really good and that we should try submitting it to The Lit.

What was your writing process like for “Blank”?
As this is an imitation of Audre Lorde’s “Coping” I really had to get into the grieving mood. To do this, I isolated myself for a few hours and recalled how I felt when grieving the loss of my grandmother a few years back, As it was really similar to how the speaker in Lorde’s poem felt my imitation was not difficult to write.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
Before COVID I would go outside for a walk, sit at the park, or even hang out with friends; all of which inspired some of my creative works, but during COVID some of my inspiration died down and I stopped writing as much as I used to.

Read Kiara Byrd’s “Blank.”

Some Questions for Marlin Muñoz

What inspired you to write “Song for My Beloved”?
What inspired me to write the poem that was submitted in The Lit in Spring 2022 was the original poem of Diane Di Prima “Song for Baby-O, Unborn.” When I read the poem I loved that Diane Di Prima did such a great job in expressing the honest feelings that we don’t communicate or admit to ourselves. While writing this piece I had gone through a breakup and I was starting to open up again to the idea of love. I thought about the honest feelings that one goes through that often does not get expressed. I sat down and thought about everything I would say to the next person that walks in my life, the good, and the ugly.

What was your writing process like for “Song for My Beloved”?
The writing process for this piece flowed naturally. I was in my ENG 102 class and we had to write a poem imitation. I had never done a poem imitation before but once I read Diane Di Prima poem I knew I had to try. Collectively as a class we read examples of poem imitations. After I got the gist of it I started writing and tried to put my emotions into words. The writing process not only sounded beautiful when read, but it was healing to write my emotions.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
COVID has impacted several areas in my life. In regards to my creativity COVID has enforced it. Being in quarantine and alone with all the thoughts it was interesting to process them through writing. I gained love for literature and it became a form of escapism.

Read Marlin Muñoz’ “Song for My Beloved.”

Some Questions for Michael Ferrin

What inspired you to write “Paradise”?
I had spent some time thinking about my relationship with my father, I guess more specifically, the relationship my siblings and I have with my father. It is a bit strained to say the least. There are a handful of reasons as to why, but in the past, we shared some really, really good times. My dad is a flawed man, but he was and is an amazing parent. He did everything he could to provide us with a happy childhood. I wanted to put that into writing. We have always bonded over music. It is a universal language. The 4 of us together on that road trip was indeed paradise.

What was your writing process like for writing “Paradise”?
It started with the connection my father, siblings, and I share through music, specifically my father’s road trip mix tapes. I worked backwards from there. It was important for me to highlight both our childlike naivety as well as the protectiveness of my father. I found it enjoyable showcasing my siblings’ personalities through their eating habits.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
Well, I am a restaurant employee doubling as an aspiring writer. Quite literally overnight I had more free time than I can remember ever having. During the early quarantine of spring 2020 my roommate and I started a magazine for artists in the service industry. We were able to explore our own creativity as well as seek out like-minded creatives. It actually fueled my desire to return to academia.

Read Michael Ferrin’s “Paradise.”

Some Questions for Özgür Peksen-Saccone

What inspired you to write “One Suitcase, Two Languages”?
For ENG 101 I was a student of Prof. Tara Coleman. She introduced me to the writer Amy Tan. We read one of her stories, “Mother Tongue.” I loved her writing style as well as the topic of her mother’s life as an immigrant in the USA. The topic brought me back to how I felt when I first came to the US in 2016. I think being a foreigner in this country is a big issue because somehow we (immigrants) try to be born again in this country. No matter what we did in our countries, we start all over again. Here begins our second life story. It starts with language. Even knowing the language, our accent and how we use the language always makes people ask “where are you from?” Challenges, difficulties, funny parts, sad parts, loneliness. These feelings are all a part of how I felt and the story came later.

What was your writing process like for “One Language, Two Suitcases”?
My writing process was painful and enjoyable at the same time due to all the memories it brought up. Sometimes the first paragraphs appear in my mind, sometimes the final sentences. In this case, the final paragraph came to me first and I worked backwards. I am an old style writer so my writing process mostly starts with writing by hand on paper. After I have begun, the story comes everywhere with me, staying on my mind day and night. I am constantly thinking of it until I finish the piece. I always listen to music while writing creatively and so every story of mine has some background music or songs. This music helps me to create the energy of my writing and evoke emotions in my readers.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
Covid started as a really dark time for me. Constant ambulance sirens disrupting the silence in the middle of the night, dead bodies being counted, feelings of despair and fear, economical struggles, being far from my parents. The first weeks were a blur but later this pain turned into art. Pain turned into painting, creating, writing and reading more and more. I wanted to wake myself up and vomit this heavy pain inside of me by creating art. I do not want to say it was a silver lining for me while people were dying but this pain helped me to create more. I needed to create more in order to feel alive.

Read Özgür Peksen-Saccone’s “One Suitcase, Two Languages.”

Some Questions for Samantha Morgan

What inspired you to write “My First Funeral is Yours”?
It was maybe my second or third Creative Writing class, which I’m currently taking at LaGuardia, when my professor asked that we “Write what we can’t remember.” I felt perplexed by the whole notion of it. How can I write what I don’t remember? And so, I just thought back to a year, any old year, and that year–2009, ended up being the year my best friend died. It was interesting because she’d been recently popping back into my consciousness quite a bit, not sure why. It’s been over a decade since she passed. But anyway, I did my best to remember a day I could never really forget.

What was your writing process like for “My First Funeral is Yours”?
It took me no less than a few days to write this piece. This is not usually my process. I usually groan and moan, and stand up and pace, and leave a piece of writing for days or weeks or even months on end before finishing it. But for whatever reason, this piece came very naturally. The idea came from a prompt in class, and then when asked to write a memory from my body, I just decided to extend this piece into its fullness.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
COVID has both inspired me and bled me dry when it comes to not only my creative process, but my survival in general. The world has been going through a great trauma that we fail to name as such, and it weighs on us all whether we admit it or not. Times like these are both very inspiring and exhausting, because being up against death and war and disease are visceral fears we so often retreat from. It’s also true, whatever we retreat from usually has a wellspring of gifts lurking within its depths if we dare to dive in. Sometimes I dare, sometimes I just need a nap.

Read Samantha Morgan’s essay “My First Funeral is Yours.”

Editors’ Introduction

As we worked on the Spring 2022 Issue for The Lit, the world outside kept inundating us. At the start of the semester, we were still living under COVID, and at some point we had hoped that it would be over soon, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Everyday we were getting news about the catastrophic state of the world: the war between Ukraine and Russia, another mass shooting, another incident of anti-Asian hate, more violations of human rights in Palestine, the potential overthrow of Roe vs. Wade, more attacks on the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, more consequences due to inflation like skyrocketing gas prices, and so much more. When we signed up for this class, we didn’t know what to expect. The act of reading other students’ work to choose for an issue of The Lit felt simple but we quickly learned that it required patience, dedication, and, above all, empathy. Throughout this semester, we had the opportunity to read and view many submissions from LaGuardia students and alum. We also had the chance to meet published authors, which we interviewed for this issue. Additionally, we got to workshop our own pieces and get feedback to revise multiple times. The course and this issue of The Lit was a transformative intensive on what publishing and writing is all about. At the end, amidst the chaos of the world, we feel fortunate to present the pieces that were selected for this issue–stories, poems, essays, and artwork that celebrate love, endurance, and community. We hope you enjoy exploring this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Thank you,

Viviana Peña, co-editor in chief

Elias Bailey, co-editor in chief

Image credit: “Tulips,” Kaj386NL. Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

2022 Masthead

Viviana Peña




Viviana served as co-editor in chief for The Lit. 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.



Elias Bailey



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






Dr. Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez



Dr. Rodríguez served as the faculty mentor for The Lit. They are an associate professor of English at LaGuardia Community College.




El Loco

by Ethan Velez 

No one could tell you where El Loco came from. El Loco didn’t know himself and he never spoke a word. Some said he was not human, that his voice was stolen. Some said he never had one.

He never carried more than he needed. No more, no less. Finding something he didn’t need was incredibly new. In Riverside Park, an impoverished dog rustled from under a collapsed hedge. El Loco sat on his bench and watched it approach him. He could see its cream coat underneath all the dirt and neglect.

“El Niño,” El Loco named him.

El Loco was easy to ignore. A dog didn’t change that, but curiosity stirred. Residents started offering empathy, filling El Loco’s cup. He used that money to buy for El Niño, and, when he felt he had too much of anything, left it for the others in the park — unseen and unheard.

El Loco was not kind, he told himself. He simply moved through life as he saw fit.

He heard a voice: “Curious, then, why are you kind?”

El Loco was in a children’s tent he bought from the El Mundo on Broadway. Outside, it rained steadily.

“Who speaks to me?” he asked.

“Me, stupid,” the voice thought back.

El Niño pawed at El Loco’s legs. Its small, brown eyes were suddenly big, knowing, bright.

“You?” El Loco thought.

“Me, stupid,” the dog repeated. “Look at that face. You get that from your grandmother.”

El Loco left the dog and sped off. He decided to return just after three avenues.

“Did you have a name?” El Loco thought.

“Yes,” El Niño answered.

“Will you tell me?”


El Loco could imagine hearing, even saying the name. A liberation stirred in his belly. Hunger he never knew before. He cried some evenings, then most evenings, then not at all.

“You’re being a brat,” El Niño thought.

There was a miserable silence where El Loco’s response should have been.

“They called me Lucky,” El Niño offered.

“No, they didn’t.”

“Fine. They called me Tómas.”

El Loco grabbed a package sticker from the post office on St. Nicholas. He wrote TÓMAS and slapped it on his chest. It was an honor, he thought, of El Niño’s past life.

“I was Tómas. Not you.” El Niño thought, and to admit he was right, El Loco added JUNIOR to the sticker.

“It’s good,” El Loco, now Junior, thought, “a family name.”

The solemn dog sighed.

Junior waited for the local food bank, a service he previously decided wasn’t for him. He defended himself when he was disrespected, and he learned he was not the burden he thought. He could feel it: a new life blooming.

Junior soon lost El Niño. He woke up without him, their children’s tent newly empty and threatening. After a futile search, reality struck him, and he fell to the ground on 162nd and Broadway. It wasn’t words that found him, but a cry. Not a feeling, but a sound. It spilled from him: the sound of men who want and never stop wanting.

El Niño only returned in dreams, smiling and beautiful.

Summer was enveloping the city when Junior responded to El Loco again. He sat up on a bench in Riverside Park. The shoes he wore before falling asleep were stolen in the night, and he could feel his skin tingling. He slapped himself. When it brought tears to his eyes, he did it again.

El Loco went on hurting himself when he felt four little legs climbing on him. His heart raced, but it was not El Niño. It was a smaller dog with white and tan fur eagerly trying to get onto El Loco’s lap.

Behind the dog was Shirley Rodriquez: a woman El Loco did not know. Shirley was on her routine six am walk when she heard the blows. Accompanying her was always her dog, Sophie.

This was the mute man, Shirley realized, the one everyone knew, the one who cried out in the streets at night. Shirley towered over him.

“Mira,” Shirley told El Loco. “you can’t hurt yourself like this.”

Despite never meeting, Shirley swore she’d seen El Loco’s eyes before. When she focused on them, planted her shoes in the dirt and breathed, Shirley saw flashing images of El Niño, Tómas, whole lives. She saw a hospital room, a man with brown eyes, El Loco’s eyes. People who El Loco once loved and who once loved him.

Shirley led El Loco home. She allowed him a warm shower and explained why he should consider cooler ones in the future. She gave him her grandson’s clothes. “He hasn’t lived here in seven years,” she said, dropping a stack of white t-shirts in his arms. “that’s a lifetime. You have them.”

She fed him. “Like this,” she said, assembling a spoonful of white rice and beef. She chewed for a long time.

El Loco followed. He ate like she ate, sat like she sat, and when he was softly crying over his meal, Shirley reached across the table and held his hand.

She told him all about her Nigerian-Colombian parents who had one child, all about the three sons she had, all about the man she once loved and then hated and then loved and then hated again.

“It went on for a long time,” she said. “then he passed.”

El Loco winced at her last words. He sat with perfect posture and watched her speak.

“No talking at all, huh?” she asked.

Shirley was asleep early. She gave El Loco her grandson’s bedroom and explained that in the morning she’d take him to see her doctor. “In the beginning, it is scary. But then it isn’t,” she reassured him.

El Loco would not go that next morning. Sophie watched him leave. When he returned to Riverside, El Loco could see beyond the Hudson, New Jersey, the world.

El Loco abandoned his bench. When he walked, he did not stop.

Ethan Velez is a fiction writer from Washington Heights. When he’s not working at an art store, he is the editor-in-chief for 7: the Zine. You can find him on Instagram @s0lit0.

Image credit: “New Jersey Blues,” m_laRs_k. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Love in Quarantine

by Alicia Evans

Charles is already on the front lawn when Michelle arrives. He hands her the noise maker that they use during their New Year’s celebration. At exactly seven o’clock they join their neighbors in screaming, clapping, and blowing those noise makers. It had become their way of saying “Thank You” to all the first responders that have been on the front line of this pandemic. When it is over, Charles reaches for her hand, slowly Michelle takes his hand and looks up into his eyes, and it is that moment her heart warms for the love they share. As they walk back into their home she is grateful their love survived quarantine. 

She scrolls over the “End Meeting” icon. Clicks and clicks again, drops her head, relaxes her shoulders, and breathes a sigh of relief. It has been a long five months of zoom meetings and virtual meetups. In the beginning, it was confusing but now she is a pro, navigating through the virtual world. Monday thru Friday, nine in the morning she is in her home office. Most evenings she emerges after six, but on Fridays the work week ends at five. 

Michelle Anderson, wife of Charles Anderson, stepmother to Mikela, and a sister-friend to many, is the owner and chief operator of MA Skin Care Line. “You are worthy. You are worthy. Y-O-U A-R-E W-O-R-T-H-Y.” She laughs as she repeats her own personal mantra. Her ten seconds is up. She pushes the chair back and stands up. 

Crash, a shattering sound can be heard throughout the house. 

“What the hell?” With a tight fist and her eyes shut she counts to ten. A trick she learned during her “How to Cope in Quarantine” virtual meetings. She fixes a grin on her face and heads straight to the kitchen.

Charles turns when he hears her enter, “Sorry babe, it’s like she knows exactly when your meetings are over.” He says as he kneels to scoop up what looks like the remainder of Mikela’s dinner. “No problem love,” Michelle says as she grabs a towel to clean Mikela. “Does she behave the same when I’m in my office?” Michelle looks up at his pleading eyes. I know what he wants me to say, but should I tell him the truth? Which would be “No!” Michelle turns her head away from him and tells him what he wants to hear. “Of course, she does.” 

Their Friday evenings have become a sweet routine now. Charles orders take-out from a local Italian Restaurant. He has the wine chilling and Netflix set, for them to continue watching “Virgin River” a romance drama series. Michelle is surprised Charles enjoys watching this love story with her. She is a little skeptical but at least he is trying. It shows her that he is consciously making an effort to please her. Even now when Michelle seems happy, she cannot help but remember many Friday nights that were not so pleasant before COVID. After working a full day and picking up Mikela from the sitter, she would then prepare dinner that would go untouched. The red wine bottle was left on the table unopened. An empty bottle of Moscato in the recycling bin outside. When he finally crawled into bed before the sun comes up, all she would get is, “Sorry babe, meeting ran late.” 

While Michelle struggled with the transition of working from home, she notices Charles was able to adapt easily to the change. It was then Charles informs her that in January of 2019 his company implemented work from home Fridays for upper management. Michelle could not believe her ears. She wondered where he went on Fridays but then realized she didn’t care. 

“Everything smells delicious,” Michelle says as she returns to the kitchen, grabs the glass of Moscato, Charles has already poured. Charles continues to unpack the food and when he opens the box with the fried calamari, she grabs one and stuffs it in her mouth. “Hot! Hot!” she says while fanning her mouth. Laughing, Charles shakes his head, “That’s what you get for being sneaky.” For a moment they are laughing and having fun. It feels like they are transported back in time. Back to a time before all the lying. Before all the unanswered phone calls, the ignored text messages, and before the many lonely nights. 

With their stomachs full and wine bottles half empty, Charles puts away the leftovers and cleans the dishes. Michelle moves into the living room to get comfortable and ready to watch season 2 of “Virgin River.”  

“Hey, don’t you get too comfortable, we have five minutes to get outside,” he screams from the kitchen. Hearing his excitement, she is reminded of their early days. 

In the beginning Charles was the one who initiated all of their date nights. Each date would begin with a delivery of an exquisite bouquet of flowers. Followed by his bubbly voice leaving her a message with specific pre-date instructions. He picked her up and his excitement was  evident when she looked in his beaming face. He was encouraging and supportive of her entrepreneurial drive. And she did whatever it took to push and help him advance in his career. Their relationship was what fairytales were made of. When things changed Michelle was ready to walk away and close the book on what was once their fairytale.

Then the Corona Virus pandemic happened. New York went into full lockdown quarantine. Neither one of them were essential workers so they were mandated to work from home. At first navigating around the house with Charles in it was strange. Days were spent with them barely talking. The tension you could cut with a knife. They were not sleeping together. Him falling asleep on the sofa in his man cave, while she would fall asleep in Mikela’s room. This is what their love had become while in quarantine. Then one day while cooking dinner, Michelle overheard him on his phone saying, “Are you crazy? We are in a pandemic! I cannot get away. I have my wife and daughter to think about.” Michelle had no idea who he was talking to but soon after he changed. First with us eating dinner together. Second, watching the news and having normal conversations. Charles pitched in with Mikela more. He began paying attention to Michelle’s feelings. Even suggesting a happy hour Saturday zoom with her girlfriends. Her loving, caring husband was back. 

Alicia Evans is the Co-Founder and President of Sugar & Spice Book Club. Founder of Wind Beneath My Wings Empowerment. Alicia is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature at Queens College. Alicia is a graduate of The New York Restaurant School and LaGuardia Community College. Her short story “Whatever Will Be Will Be” is published in LaGuardia’s The Lit 2021 edition. She is an award-winning author for her short story “The Bay Window”. Alicia finds joy in writing, cooking and entertaining for her family & friends. She lives in Hollis, N.Y with her soulmate and best friend.

Image credit: “Merrill Weber, Showstopper,” PA Trails of History. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Letting Go

by Stephanie Barrera Moran

Stephanie Barrera Moran is a Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities major at LaGuardia Community College. Her self portrait includes linocut printmaking and the use of acrylic paint. She’s using flowers to express herself as they represent innocence, goodbyes, and new beginnings.