Asya Lone Garcia
Social Media Committee
Sizhe (Sylvie) Luo
Monan (Mo) Wu
Yingci (Rebecca) Zhong
Jacqueline Berezin Pchevuzinske
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.
Asya Lone Garcia, Osaze Seneferu, Katy Ruth Creative Directors
Humble Pie, Spring 2022
~Georgina Marie Guardado
~Vernon (Trey) Keeve III
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
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.
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
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
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
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-
only brief pauses
in a repetition of
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-
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
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
Of gentle giants
With pointy tails
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 &
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
Yǔ meaning 雨 — rain, not fish, 鱼 —
The way it sheeted down that month I began —
one August, some 1996.
Decades later I come upon you —
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
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
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.