Volume 19

Faculty Advisor

Faith Adiele

Creative Directors

Osaze Seneferu

Asya Lone Garcia


Krishi Shah

Social Media Committee

Xingyu Wang

Ying Wang

Xinyi Chen

Yongming Peng

Sizhe (Sylvie) Luo

Design Committee

Jason Lei

Androgony King

Monan (Mo) Wu

Tian Qin

Yingci (Rebecca) Zhong

Literary Committee

Caitlyn Britton

Jacqueline Berezin Pchevuzinske

Salem Condello

Writing is an essential art form where everyone deserves an equal opportunity to thrive. This semester inspired a lot of change to the usual Humble Pie pipeline for the purpose of elevating traditionally marginalized voices.

Humble Pie is progressing forward on a path of inclusion, and from now on, instead of using the method of blind submissions, which can create an imbalance of marginalized and non-marginalized voices, author’s identities will be taken into consideration. This is our initiative to ensure the right voices are being recognized and amplified.

We’re pleased to announce Humble Pie vol 19 Due to a change in leadership, we had to sacrifice size but certainly not quality! We are immensely proud that, in addition to prioritizing traditionally underrepresented voices, we are able to highlight the work of current CCA students alongside illustrious CCA graduates like Vernon (Trey) Keeve III, Alicia Red Franco and Carina Espudo, as well as prominent California poets like PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award winner James Cagney, Maw Shein Win, the first poet laureate of El Cerrito, and Georgina Marie, the first Mexican-American and youngest Poet Laureate of Lake County.

We’d like to offer a very special thanks to Shylah Hamilton, who graciously represented us in our fight for re-launching, Faith Adiele, who stepped in at the final minute as Faculty Advisor, Janeece Hayes, who advised and consoled us along the way. We would also like to thank our amazing contributors who responded immediately to the call, our classmates who helped put out this issue in record time, our designer Jamie Straw, MFAW student Matt Sobin, our Fall 2021 class team, and you, our readers.

We hope that this volume pleases, challenges and inspires you.

In solidarity,

Asya Lone Garcia, Osaze Seneferu, Katy Ruth Creative Directors
Humble Pie, Spring 2022

Sapphire Grapes

~James Cagney

One Last Miracle

~Tian Qin

Morning Poem on a Rustic Table

~Georgina Marie Guardado

What Comes to Pass

~Carina Espudo

Conjugation of the Verb To Return

~Jeanette Cavano

“Benita de la Iglesia Seijo”

~Paula Rodriguez


~Vernon (Trey) Keeve III


~Jason Lei

The Concealed

~Krishi Shah

Green Friends

~Lydia Cook

The door

~Tian Qin

Angel of God—aromatic antelope

of jasmine and sandalwood

bouncing above gravity

crunchy afro—cheekbones arrowing the jaw

Divine and delicious; we dare not speak of this again

Exodus of eyelashes, eyes resisting echo

Fragrant, fashionable and highly favored

The game is on Grind:

Hella herbals, Hella ass, Hella humid

with the barest glaze of sweat

incense of inner thigh meat;

junk (see also: tender) juice (see also: fruit)

knuckle kinship, we knights of suede and leather

lemon and tomato

lick luxurious 

milky mouth too supple not to touch.

Newports nasty and non-stop

Overindulged! Overanalyzed! Objectified!

Pennies pitched to the gutter

Philtrum smudged with brown sugar for sacrament

Our youngest qualifier asks too many questions.

Rough housing – rumbles in musky jungles

Send smoke signals – strut with swagger

Throat singing tenors with thyroid infections

Unwavering, unbent, utter utopia under the surface.

Vulture and virtuoso of voluptuous vixens

while we walk, air-wrestle, worship a clock of hipbones–

our yolk of youth, its yummy divinity

Zestfully clean yet yawningly unzipped.



You have gutted me but I gave you the knife.

You have devoured me, but I laid myself across the fire.

-Joy Harjo

a blank page

no words imprinted

basil plant unwatered

oak-bowl of dried moss

artifact of 1st world wanting.

I dance around the stories that

have already written themselves into

my body. Sanctified, black ink tattooed to

inner linings. The ceramic elephant in the room

tells me I can be such a small thing sometimes.

There once was a man who tried to steal my identity.

There was once another who crushed my identity like

oregano with a stone mortar and pestle used for flavoring

traditional Mexican meals. My father once shouted at me for

crushing a watermelon. One man died from suicide after I called

him a coward. One didn’t die, nevertheless left when I offered confession 

of his shortcomings. The man I called a father died from a disease I wonder

was karma, a unique manifestation for his choice to be an abuser. I once feared

I would never understand what I did to attract these men to my life. I was enough to be taken, not

enough to be equal. Made of you but not enough for you. I boil water for cacao and slowly add

honey, lavender buds, doses of shame. Pour into chosen mug. See how long it takes to seep into

the heart.


what comes to pass

my great-grandfather told me to rest a blanket across his shoulders

our silence left room

how to ask

viejo, he said to me and the tv, do you know what that means?

who is now

turn up the news

for questions i didn’t know

old man

gone from here

jeopardy everynight in a rocking chair,

crossword puzzles in the morning,

a 1-2 quick pat on the back for a hug,

dog tags above the sink,

head of the table,

funny tasting eggs,

green light game in a stick shift

go, go, go

for 7 kids

i was told at the hospital entrance it’s good


by my great-grandfather’s bedside i said

it’s me, i love you

closed my eyes, pressed my palm to the collar loose around his neck

pink skies over farmland and a horse for the ride

he could feel warmth from the blanket around his shoulders

he could see

to say

it’s me









I thought I could return

just get in the car, drive east

I was looking for the house on Cranston

the empty lot, the red-brick grammar school

I drove near the river

but even the river had changed

The fat old cement bear we used to climb,

that psychedelic record store gone, gone

Taking with them that morning we walked miles

in the rain, our pants heavy, our shirts slick

I returned because I longed to see you

I came back to hold your hand, feel you near

But nothing stayed where I left it, and now

I barely recognize this bruised landscape

I return, I have returned, I want to return

to that heat, that syrupy afternoon

The long shade of that tree I cannot name

pale lemonade, the tinkling ice cream truck

You playing piano, wrapping yourself

in the notes, wearing sweet smoke in your hair

Mom over there, smiling–just once, just one

snapshot of her smiling in the backyard

Purple blouse, her hands folded in her lap,

red-edged cigarette in the black ashtray

The sun sets just behind her hair tied up

in a kerchief, she is about to laugh

I returned to see rain, rice fields, the palette of stars,

the road curving to follow the river line

And instead I found the lush empty fields

turned into stucco apartment boxes

And I found mini marts slushy green and

greasy hot dogs turning round on their rack

And I found

the window of our house

full of strangers

I sit in the car,

the engine still running.


The ghost of a blue-veined hand expertly

navigates an old set of earmarked cards,

out, for once, of their old red velvet casing.

A stale scent of the past warily floods a 

dimly lit stanza, and so does the reading begin…

The Fool–childlike wonder, 

ribbons of a journey that sail the winds…

The countryside has not changed

much–since the Celts arrived,

A church of stone, and rain,

always rain–that weighs down wool,

and the blue eyes of a child, ragged clothes, 

wooden clogs–it’s 1825.

The Queen of Cups–seductive woman: 

choose well, for love nears like a shadow…

You don’t know yet, but you will marry–

the handsome man that roofed the church

You will travel–perhaps on an oxen cart,

and live far, beyond the city walls.

You will give birth to three children, all will

bear names of saints–One will die. The boy.

The Wheel of Fortune–life triumphs over 

Death, majestic spirit that endures… 

Don’t be disappointed–Josefa will thrive. 

She will work, one day, as a cigar maker

and marry a shoemaker named Juan. Five 

boys. One girl–All but one scattered

caravels in a gale. The youngest, Matilde, 

will die aged ninety-two.

Believe me: I knew her well–I am the one 

who has danced farthest from the appletree, 

my grandmother’s voice branded, like an 

omen, in the soles of my slippers.


Grief is such a haunt.

A poltergeist that can-
not be banished.

A war with never-
ending battles—

only brief pauses
in a repetition of
mourning doves

reminding me

that there are voices
in my apartment
only I can hear.

This mess will linger,

until I wake up one day
to the towhees warding
off the scrub jays, or the
sharp cadences of hum-
ming birds,

and not the sounds of
the cupboards opening
and closing by themselves.



How do dragons fly

Where on Earth

Can their feet land on clouds

Do they live in the sky

This creature 

Breathes breath of Fire

Yet stories of them ease the restlessness

In some little ones 

Mothers around the world 

have told their fairy tale stories

Poetic tales

Of  gentle giants

With pointy tails

Beautifully mystical

Are these dragons in the sky

And if so

How on cloudy Earth

Do they fly

And is there fire

In their sky


Here are the slivers of you — cuts

inside my cheek.

When they broke you — fragmented &

unrecognizable —

I faulted you for the way you were shaped —

delicate on my lips.

Lǐ, as in plum — 李子, the silken sounds


A frosted purple jewel, a gift from my grandfather’s

grandfather — remembering

The smoky steeps of Sìchuān, the smell of fire &

鍋巴 flooding my

Young nose. Jìng — meaning 安静, meaning

what we want is

Quiet, in our third story Běijīng apartment — Jìng,

the opposite of

Jingle Bells, the j not the English j, the tip of tongue stuck

forward — a small

Rustling behind my teeth like a

chirping —

Yǔ meaning 雨 — rain, not fish, 鱼 —

meaning also,

The way it sheeted down that month I began —

one August, some 1996.

Decades later I come upon you —

faces &

a flickering.



My parents were arranged.

In 1975, an American Airlines flight

from Seoul to New York,

bought with a loan that took

four years to pay back,

carried them home.

My father bought a camera

with a fifth of his savings

on a layover in Tokyo.

On a layover in Honolulu,

they saw a Korean man

with a dripping nose,

loaded luggage cart

and six children holding on

to a rope tied around his waist

making their way through customs

like goslings. On official forms,

my father chose April 7

as his date of birth.

He was a doctor—a healer

whose depth of vision,

compassion and patience

held up mountains.

My mother is an artist—

my brother and I are

her creations.

We mark the ground

with road salt from our shoes.

We learned to hear

in the waters of her womb;

her rage kept us warm-blooded.

We grew up in a forest

with 80s synth pop, wild

blackberries, bracken ferns

and applause from geese

taking flight.

Our aunt, a single mom

with a rent-stabilized apartment

in Hoboken, stopped by sometimes

with a rotisserie chicken

or holy water

in a 35mm film canister.

Since 2020, after my father died,

my mother asks for a pill

that will help her die. She sings—

Ave Maria, gratia plena,

on April 7, 1975

we arrived at JFK airport.


scroll the gloom

the news blues

pour into etched goblets

elixirs of spirits

meditate with strangers on Zoom

in suspended animation

what does it take to get out of bed

walk dazed toward coffee maker

our laptops hot pots

donate to charities

sleep through even one night

winds rattle windows

can’t see ocean from here

abounding in calms

then quick sharp squalls


The scent of orange blossoms

seeks me through wire pockets

reminds me flesh will fruit

next hibernal solstice

I find myself pulled

towards the abundant body

braided branches relentless

with its pollenated pistils

Evidence of winter’s past

wealth, anxious to provide

still waiting to be plucked

extends eager fingers — wait

Honey bee arrives first

respect stigma collection

bow to the blessing

allow the hum to heal

Enter as grace, emerald palms

layered in rainbow hitched rays

carnelian globes suspended

amongst satin white stars

I answer the invite to partake,

to feast on tree’s gifts, I am worthy

gather its offering in my wing, my nest

never felt so full or holy, peel back

Skin at the navel, pith finds a way

to take shelter under pinkie nails

a zest cloud bursts into ether

nostrils seduced, take a blind bite

Like tasting the sun for the first time

lips pulp immerse, a cosmic sweetness

foreign to this dimension, yet it sought me

imprints its essence on my tongue, I manifest

Endless juice wheels, nirvana held in clay

bowls, the constant drip soothes my chin

I let it fall like a rain shower on dandelion

leave their crowns sticky and curious.


James Cagney is the author of Black Steel Magnolias In The Hour of Chaos Theory (Nomadic Press) winner of the PEN Oakland 2018 Josephine Miles Award. His newest book, MARTIAN: The Saint of Loneliness is the winner of the 2021 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. It is due from Nomadic Press in the fall of 2022.

For more information, please visit JamesCagneyPoet.com

Tian Qin is from Nanjing, China and she is a visual illustrator.  She is a student at the California College of the Arts and an animation major. She loves painting fantastical things and places. 

Georgina Marie is Poet Laureate of Lake County, CA for 2020-2024, the first Mexican- American and youngest to serve in this role for the county, and a Poets Laureate Fellow with the Academy of American Poets. She is the Literary and Poetry Out Loud Coordinator for the Lake County Arts Council and Poet in Residence for The Bloom. She has received support from the Mendocino Coast and Napa Valley Writers’ Conferences.

Carina Espudo currently lives in Sonoma County with her two dogs. She loves writing and reading about history, the supernatural, and pop culture. She enjoys traveling, being with friends and family, and listening to podcasts. She quits coffee every other month and has more playlists than necessary.

Jeanette Cavano lives in San Francisco with her family. She has been drawn to poetry throughout her life but started writing regularly in the last decade. Professionally, she is a practicing pharmacist but looks forward to a retirement full of the music of language. She is working toward a Writing Certificate from UC Berkeley Extension. She has had poems published in Poets 11 (2014) and the journal Chest (2012).

Paula M. Rodriguez is a high school teacher in Los Angeles. She started her literary career in Spain where she won first award on the prestigious poetry prize Francisco Nieva, but focused thereafter on academic publications that deal with different aspects of the literary experience, from Shakespeare to Henry James. Her first poem published in the United States appeared in 2006 in The Blind Man’s Rainbow, under the title “Other Words for Absence.” Since then, she has earned third price in 2016, and second price in 2019, in the Urban Ocean poetry contest, she has published “Date Night” in an anthology under the title Upon Arrival. Most recently, two of her poems, under the titles “By the Roadside” and “Where the Waters Meet,” were published by Scintilla Press, and her novella “Angelus” later appeared in The Write Launch.

Trey (also known as Vernon Keeve III) is a Virginia born, queer writer. They currently live and teach in Oakland. They hold a MFA from California College of the Arts, and a MA in Teaching Literature from Bard College. Trey’s full-length collection of poetry, Southern Migrant Mixtape, was published by Nomadic Press in 2018 and is the recipient of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Trey is currently working on his first novel and a collection of horror stories steeped in the Black experience. But know, for them, the writing of poetry never stops.

Jason Lei  was born in Macau and majors in fashion design at California College of the Arts. He explores the eternity of “Black”, ‘draw with black’, ‘drape with black’ and  ‘design with black’. He recognizes himself as a fabric sculptor.

Krishi Shah is from Mumbai, India. She is a student of  the California College Of The Arts and an animation major with passion for illustration and visual art. She believes in creating what feeds the souls and is inspired by nature, reality and fantasies. She looks forward to bringing diverse perspectives, cultures, stories through her art to instill harmony, peace and positivity. 

Lydia Cook also known as BornToWrite is an author and motivational speaker. Her mission is to encourage and inspire diverse audiences. She focuses on our youth and community issues. She’s been writing since age 11 and is a native of Dayton, Ohio. She enjoys hosting Beautiful Chaos, where she interviews entrepreneurs, and showcases individuals that have found beauty and victory over severe challenges and adversities.

Her work can also be found on IG @ born_to_write_poet. 

Jingyu Li immigrated to the states at the age of three. She grew up with her younger brother in a small neighborhood in Wyoming and went to university in Boston. She now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area where she enjoys walking the neighborhood dogs. Her favorite thing in the world (other than poetry and music) is a hotpot.

Christine Choi passes time considering implicit narratives and dreaming of mountains. She has an MFA from California College of the Arts and her writing has appeared in Monday Night, Encyclopedia Vol. 3 L-Z, Pacific Review, Nerve Lantern, In Posse Review, Bay Area Poetry Marathon, Mission Cultural Center, NOMA Gallery, POW! Action Art Festival, Small Press Traffic’s Poets’ Theater, and Boog City Poets’ Theater. She currently nests in Brooklyn.

Maw Shein Win’s recent poetry book is Storage Unit for the Spirit House (Omnidawn) nominated for the Northern California Book Award in Poetry, long-listed for the PEN America Open Book Award, and short-listed for the California Independent Booksellers Alliance’s Golden Poppy Award for Poetry. D.A. Powell wrote of it, “Poetry has long been a vessel, a container of history, emotion, perceptions, keepsakes.…These poems are portals to other worlds and to our own, a space in which one sees and one is seen. A marvelous, timely, and resilient book.” Maw Shein Win’s previous collections include Invisible Gifts, Poems (Manic D Press); her chapbooks include Ruins of a glittering palace (SPA/ Commonwealth Projects) and Score and Bone (Nomadic Press). She is the inaugural poet laureate of El Cerrito (2016-2018). Win often collaborates with visual artists, musicians, and other writers and was a Spring 2021 ARC Poetry Fellow at

UC Berkeley. mawsheinwin.com

Alicia Franco is a proud native of northern California. She received her MFA in Writing at California College of the Arts. Her poems have appeared in Writing Without Walls, sPARKLE + bLINK, Pochino Press, and in performances with The Poetry Brothel.