Reader: Tyne Sansom

Tyne photo

Tyne Sansom, former editor of El Portal will be reading his work on Monday, October 29th at 2:30p.m. in ENMU’s Art & Anthropology Building room 110.

Tyne Sansom is a graduate student in English creative writing at ENMU. He lives with his family in Portales, NM. He enjoys road cycling on the high plains and is an aspiring cigar aficionado.

Advertisements

Reader: Stefan Kiesbye

Kiesbye photo

Stefan Kiesbye, former creative writing professor at Eastern New Mexico University, and close friend of El Portal, will be reading excerpts of his work on Monday, October 29th at 2:30p.m. in ENMU’s Art & Anthropology Building room 110.

Stefan Kiesbye stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. His first book, Next Door Lived a Girl, won the Low Fidelity Press Novella Award, and has been translated into German, Dutch, and Spanish.

Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone made EW’s Must List and was named one of the best books of 2012 by Slate editor Dan Kois.

The LA Noir Fluchtpunkt Los Angeles was published in February 2015, and The Staked Plains, a novella, was released that same year. The Gothic novel Knives, Forks, Scissors, Flames came out in October 2016, and German newspaper Die Welt commented that, “Kiesbye is the inventor of the modern German Gothic novel.”

His new novel Berlingeles is available from Revelore Press. Kiesbye teaches creative writing at Sonoma State University.

 

SUBMIT!

You're our type social media

We want your best work! El Portal is seeking submissions for our Spring 2019 issue. If you have a piece you’d like to share, our editors are always reading.

ENMU students are eligible for cash prizes and an extended deadline. ENMU student deadline is: December 15th.

Terror, Tension, Teaching

Kiesbye reading chair

Join El Portal staff & the ENMU Languages and Literature Deptartment in welcoming former faculty Stefan Kiesbye, now assistant professor of Creative Writing at Sonoma State University, back to the staked plains for a reading of his work on Monday, October 29th at 2:30 p.m. in the Art and Anthropology building, room 110.  Graduate student, Tyne Sansom, will provide a reading of his work as well.

 

Write!

call for submissions 2018

Don’t miss our print submission deadline for Fall 2018 – May 11, 2018.

Submissions for digital content are always welcome.

Send your best work our way: EL.PORTAL@ENMU.EDU

The American Way

by : Wesley Martin

Jeffrey and Tammy poured out of the minivan, jumping and hollering across the parking lot, before Lillian had even unbuckled her seat-belt.

“Hey! How many times have I told you two not to run off!” Their mom yelled at the kids as she shouldered her purse. “Lillian, get off your phone.”

Lillian groaned and twerped something about how family outings are the worst. She followed her parents to the building, passing under the shadow of the gigantic redwhiteandblue A sign towering over the restaurant. Again, she checked how many dotes her twerps had gotten recently. Still mostly just James, who wanted to ask her out but was too shy and probably knew she’d say no. None of her friends were paying attention to her boring normal summer.

Tammy and Jeffrey waited impatiently by the door. A poster for the food chain’s latest monstrosity, the Cheesy Shake, #truthordairy, covered the entrance.

“Oh, maybe I’ll try the gouda,” her mom said.

Lillian audibly gagged.

“You know, you used to love this place,” her dad said.

“Yeah, before I learned what real food was.”

“Come on now,” her dad replied. “I read an article that said their food was almost eighty percent real.”

Her mom held the door open for them all. Lillian entered twerping about never getting to go anywhere nice.

Inside was overly air conditioned and twangy country music piped through the speakers. “Welcome to America Trough, the non-stop trough spot!” the collage-age dork behind the counter greeted.

“Hello,” her mom said cheerfully, then snapped at the kids who were about to bolt to the wallow pit. “Jeffrey, Tammy, wait till after we order.”

The family stared at the menu while an obese couple ahead of them paid the cashier. Lillian wondered if they ever stared at the menu or if they had it memorized by now.

“Do we want to share a family trough, or does everybody want their own thing?” her dad asked.

“I want a toy!” Jeffrey said. “They’ve got Patriasoars,” referring to the plastic figures from the cartoon perpetually haunting their living room TV.

“Me too!” Tammy said. “I want a Tripartisiantops.”

“Fine. We’ll get you both kiddie chutes,” her dad said. “Lillian, what about you?”

“Just a veggie bucket.”

“That’s all?” her mom asked. “You gotta have some protein in your diet.”

“You know how they treat their animals, right?” Lillian scoffed. “They immobilize them and keep them in tiny boxes for most of their lives, intravenously pumping in nutrients and steroids, all while talk radio is blared through their prisons.”

“Talk radio? Please?” her mom said. “They couldn’t be so delicious if that were true.”

“I only want a veggie bucket, OK?” Lillian said, then sent a twerp about the ignorance of older generations.

“Alright. What do you want to drink?”

“Diet Syrup,” Lillian said.

“Can we go play now?” Tammy asked.

“Yes, fine. Lillian, watch your siblings,” her mom said.

Lillian found a pen where she could watch the wallow pit. She scrolled through her friends trenches. Sandy was still raving about the DJ Platitude concert she went to last week. Pamela had posted another photo dump from her trip to Merch Fest. They’d been getting lots of dotes. It seemed like Lillian was the only one who didn’t get to do something fun this summer.

The obese couple, seated across the aisle, gossiped over the one of the woman’s coworker’s sad attempt at pulling off skinny jeans. The man’s monotone chuckle punctuated the woman’s sentences as she berated her coworker. An employee, wearing a rubber apron, hauled over two large pails to the couple and dumped them into their trough. The squishy sloppy sound of the food piling out made Lillian ill.

“Could we get some extra napkins, please?” The obese man asked, and then the couple scrarfed and snorted the contents of their trough.

Lillian stuffed her headphones in and played some technogrundgepop to drown out the obscenity across the aisle. She looked to the wallow pit, Tammy and Jeffrey were already covered head-to-toe in mud. Thankfully, they had remembered to take off their sneakers and store them in the plastic cubby.

A few moments later Lillian’s parents joined her in the pen and passed her drink. Both her parents sucked on their Cheesy Shakes while her mom searched the new releases on Drooloo for something to watch tonight. Her dad shook his head at every suggestion. She couldn’t hear the conversation but Lillian knew her dad was pointing out something wrong with all the actors from the titles her mom was interested in. After four or five discarded movie suggestions the employee in the apron brought their food pails over. He sloshed the family order into their trough and tiny flecks of meat splattered in all directions. He handed her mom the Patriasoar toys and placed the veggie bucket in front of Lillian.

Bits of lettuce and carrot shavings floated on the surface of the thick milky dressing. Lillian picked up a lettuce leaf and watched the dressing drizzle back down into the bucket.

Her dad nudged her and gestured to remove the headphones. She rolled her eyes as she did so.

“Hey, glad you’re going to be a part of the family while we eat,” he told her.

“Yeah, how could I resist that?” Lillian said and dropped the lettuce leaf back into the bucket.

Her parents got on the knees and bent over the trough. They happily munched away, and Lillian only swirled the veggies around in the bucket. She checked her trench again. James doted her last two twerps.

“You know, honey, you’re more than welcome to our trough if you want to save your salad,” her mom said with food smothered across her lips and chin.

Lillian hated herself for admitting it, but the cheesysaltymeaty aroma arising from the trough was appealing. She double checked the restaurant to make sure no one from school was around. Just strangers who couldn’t care less how they looked publicly gorging themselves. All clear. With partial relief and partial abhorrence she bent down next to her parents and dug into the American Trough.

The Real Deal

 

falsified

Jamie and the other kids threw rocks in puddles while they waited outside the fairgrounds. Their ruckus went unnoticed amidst the lights and sounds of the carnival. Jamie sighed and dropped his handful of rocks. He looked at his watch. It was approaching midnight.

“There he is!” Lindsey shouted and pointed to the figure approaching on a bike.

All the kids circled around Kyle before he had even stopped.

“Do you have them?” Jamie said, pushing his way through the group.

“Yeah. I’ve got them. I said I would,” Kyle replied and reached into his backpack. He pulled out a folded up cloth. Everyone hushed and leaned in as he unwrapped the cloth, revealing two hand-minted gold coins.

“Woah!”

“No way.”

“Is it real?”

“Of course it’s real,” Jamie said and patted Kyle on the back. “Kyle said he could get them and he did. He’s the real deal.”

“How did you get them?” Noah asked.

“My mom found them cleaning out a storage unit,” Kyle said. “They’re Spanish bullions and worth a lot.”

“But won’t your mom kill you when she finds out they’re gone?”

“It’ll be worth it. A chance to see a dragon only comes around once in a lifetime, right?” Jamie said and held his fist up to Kyle.

Kyle nodded and bumped fists. “Right.”

“Oh my gosh, you guys are so lucky.” Lindsey said. “Why does it have to cost a gold coin?”

Jamie shrugged. “Dragons don’t accept MasterCard, I guess.”

“So how do we do this?” Kyle asked Jamie as he handed him his coin.

“We have to find the dwarf monk.”

Kyle had been certain Jamie was pulling some kind of stunt and he’d admit he made the whole thing up about the dragon after he showed him the coins. But, sure enough, after scouring through the hordes of guests and carnies, they found a dwarf dressed in brown robes by himself at the snack tables. His head was shaved in the center just like a medieval monk, and his sandals were kicked up another chair as he sipped from his goblet.

“We want to see the dragon,” Jamie said.

The dwarf barely looked at them. “You can’t afford it.”

“We can,” Jamie said, holding up his coin. “Thanks to my friend here.”

The dwarf sat up and looked from the coin to Kyle. “Those are yours?”

Kyle gulped and nodded.

“Fine,” The dwarf said. “I’ll take you to the dragon if you think you know what you’re doing.”

The dwarf monk finished his goblet and led the kids through the maze of tents and booths, all the way to the back where an enormous tent was pitched about fifty yards away from the rest of the carnival. Kyle couldn’t believe he hadn’t noticed such a large tent before now. As they walked through the dark, Kyle sweated profusely in the chill air.

“Are you sure about this?” Kyle whispered to Jamie.

“You want to see the dragon don’t you?” Jamie replied.

“Yeah, but this is all so weird.”

“Well, if you’re afraid you can turn back,” Jamie said.

“I’m not afraid,” Kyle said, crossing his arms.

At the entrance, the dwarf pulled back the canvas flap and gestured through the doorway. “The dragon is inside. Pay your tribute and all will be fine.”

The boys held out their bullions to the dwarf.

“No. You pay the dragon himself.”

Jamie and Kyle stepped into the fire-lit tent and the flap closed behind them. A wooden platform surrounded the edge of the entire tent encompassing a deep dark pit. They clutched their coins tightly. Jamie moved towards the platform railing.

“Wait!” Kyle spouted. “Maybe we shouldn’t do this.”

“We have the gold. We’re fine.” Jamie said.

Kyle looked down at his coin. Flecks of gold paint had rubbed off onto his hand.

“Come on, you said you weren’t afraid.” Jamie said, then cocked his head slightly. “You can hear it breathing.”

Jamie leaned over the railing. “I think I see it.”

Kyle closed his eyes and took a long deep breath, then he joined Jamie at the edge of the platform. Respiration echoed out the pit. Humid air rose past their faces.

“It’s too dark. I can’t make it out,” Kyle said.

Jamie pointed to the tiny glints of light around the edge of the pit.

“Those must be coins. I think we need to pay,” Jamie said and tossed his bullion down. It clinked against the gold pieces below.

Kyle held out his coin, but hesitated.

“Go on. Do it,” Jamie said.

“I can’t.” Kyle stammered. “It’s-”

“Do you want to see the dragon or not, Kyle? I thought you were the real deal.”

Kyle dropped his fake coin into the pit of real treasure.

Two yellow eyes blinked open. The shuffle of coins rang as the faint traces of a large body stretched out. Deep laughter bellowed out and the yellow eyes faced upward at the boys.    Kyle stumbled backward and fell to the floor.

“Jamie, they were fake!” Kyle yelled as he crawled to the doorway. “I painted them! They were fake!”

“You what?!” Jamie gaped.

Before it could fully sink in, the dragon emerged from his lair and snatched the two boys who had stiffed him. They screamed and the dragon roared. Their ruckus went unnoticed amidst the lights and sounds of the carnival.

 

(Fiction by Wesley Martin, Photography by Bridget Richardson)

An Interview with El Portal’s Incoming Editor: Bridget Richardson

18446782_1717704861578783_4591927829533882323_n

The school year has come to its conclusion and that means El Portal is just about to slip into its summer hibernation. Before that, however, we’d like to introduce you to El Portal’s incoming editor-in-chief.

Bridget Richardson, a long-time resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, will officially be taking over as El Portal’s editor in August 2017. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in May 2016, Bridget entered the graduate program in English at Eastern New Mexico University in August 2016. Bridget’s hobbies include reading, writing short stories, and, first and foremost, rescuing animals. She loves adventure novels and her favorite is Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jewels Verne.

Bridget became aware of El Portal in 2012 when one of her professors encouraged her to submit to the journal. In fact, one of her short stories, “The Toy Library,” appears in the journal’s Spring 2013 edition. Her enjoyment of writing isn’t all that attracts her to the journal’s editorship, however. Bridget also has a keen interest in editing.

She says: “I enjoy editing and looking at ideas that people have which are turned into stories. I like to see people’s writing. I like to help take that writing a step further through editing it.”

Although El Portal will not be seeing any drastic changes in the coming year, Bridget aims to see an increase in submissions and interest from ENMU’s student body. In regards to this, she says: “I want to increase awareness about the journal. When there’s more students submitting, there’s a bigger on-campus presence. It also encourages students who may have a creative side in less creative fields to branch out into their hobbies in addition to their studies.”

This isn’t to say that she hopes to ignore our national and international contributors, however. Bridget also hopes to continue improving upon the foundations already in place, which make El Portal a unique venue for writers across the world.

Bridget’s unending enthusiasm and unique perspective is certain to reinvigorate El Portal and help to keep it the successful—and proudly strange—publication it has been thus far. We hope you will join us in celebrating Bridget as she assumes editorship of the journal.

Bridget Richardson can be reached at: Bridget.Richardson@enmu.edu

(Article by Kayleen Burdine)

This is West – Grimble’s Curiosities

Curiosity Shop

“I know exactly what will interest you,” Mr. Grimble said to the young couple browsing his wares to furnish their new home. He led them to his furniture aisle, briefly glancing out his shop window at the men hanging a sign on the store across the street.

“We’re not looking for anything too fancy,” the young woman said as they passed the china sets and rare coins.

Mr. Grimble turned from the window back to his customers before he could read the sign. “I don’t consider my items fancy, per se,” he said. “I prefer to think of them as special. Each of my wares is completely unique, with its own special history and meaning. You want your home to be special, don’t you?”

“Well, yes, of course,” the young woman said.

“Then this is the thing for you,” Mr. Grimble said, stopping in front of an antique European office chair. “These were manufactured during the height of the post World War I industrial boom. Very popular amongst businessmen. They oversaw many great operations while lounging in these chairs. This particular piece I know was owned by a Belgian clock factory owner. Most were destroyed in bombings and fires over the next few decades, but the clock maker loved his chair so much he had it sent overseas to keep it safe.” Mr. Grimble walked around the antique admiringly. “This isn’t just an office chair, it’s a throne.”

The young couple seemed unimpressed. They looked at the price tag and shook their heads.

“I’m not sure it’s really us, you know,” the young woman said.

“Of course,” Mr. Grimble said. “Let me show you some other items I know would be perfect for you.”

The young man looked around the shop and said, “Um, I don’t think you have what we’re looking for. Thanks.”

Mr. Grimble thanked the young couple for visiting and smiled as they walked out. After they were gone he sighed and sunk into the clock maker’s chair. He tightened his grip on armrests and looked back out the window. The sign across the street was up now. It read, Coming Soon. Francesca’s Trivialities. Mr. Grimble wondered what the hell a triviality shop was.

For days Mr. Grimble watched from his counter as customer after customer exited the triviality shop with useless crap and smiles on their faces. They left with cheap Chinese toys, common thrift store clothing, and mediocre knick-knacks. And barely a soul had bothered to pop inside his curiosity shop, let alone buy anything. So when he heard the bell attached to his door jingle, he greeted the schoolteacher over-excitedly.

She was looking for anything related to astronomy, as she was an amateur enthusiast. Mr. Grimble’s heart leapt. For some time he had been trying to unload a vintage 50’s telescope, used by the team that discovered the first binary pulsar.

“Oh my, how interesting,” the schoolteacher said. She asked many questions about the piece, growing more excited as he told its history.

This is how it’s done, Mr. Grimble thought to himself. You don’t just heap a bunch of garbage on as many customers as you can. You find the right item for the right person and that’s the sale that counts.

“And what is its magnification?” The schoolteacher asked.

“It had a magnification of 150X,” Mr. Grimble said. “Not as powerful as others at the time, but ideal for minimizing brightness glares.”

“What do you mean had?” the schoolteacher asked.

“Well, the telescope is no longer functional. Its worth comes strictly from its historical value,” Mr. Grimble told her.

The schoolteacher’s face soured. “Ah, I see.”

She quickly browsed the rest of the shop, finding nothing to her liking. Mr. Grimble returned to his counter and watched the schoolteacher cross the street to the triviality shop. After much longer than she had spent in his store, the schoolteacher reappeared with two large bags looking very satisfied. Mr. Grimble wondered what on earth she found over there instead of here. He spent the rest of the day watching the store across the street, gripping his hands together tightly, until a lanky woman with a bandana tied over her hair flipped the open sign to closed.

In the back office, Mr. Grimble poured over his record books. It was clear sales had flatlined since the opening of the triviality shop. Curiosities could not compete with trivialities, it seemed. Mr. Grimble scratched his head aggressively, unsure what he should do.

The front door bells jingled and a woman’s voice called out, “Hello! Hello!”

Mr. Grimble returned to the display floor to find the lanky woman with the bandana checking out his selection of mirrors.

Mr. Grimble tightened his fists. “Can I help you?”

“Oh, hi, yes, are you Mr. Grimble?” she asked. “I’m Francesca, from across the street. I just wanted to come by and say hello and introduce myself.” She extended her hand to Mr. Grimble, who reciprocated with one stiff shake. “I’ve wanted to stop by and see your store for a long time,” Francesca continued, “but I’ve just been so busy with the opening and all. You know how it is.”

“Sure,” Mr. Grimble said.

“So, wow, you got a lot of neat stuff here,” Francesca said, strolling through the aisles.

“Are you looking for anything in particular?” Mr. Grimble asked.

“Oh, I’m never looking for anything in particular,” she said and picked up a porcelain dove off a shelf. “Hey, I like this.”

“That’s not right for you,” Mr. Grimble said. “Its part of the Kaolin Collection. You’re not a collector, are you?”

“No. I’ve never heard of Kaolin,” Francesca said.

“Well, it belongs in a collection,” Mr. Grimble said, clenching and unclenching his fists.

“Oh, OK,” Francesca set the dove back on the shelf.

Mr. Grimble relaxed his hands and took a deep breath. “Here, I have the perfect thing for you,” he said and ushered her to a display of wall mounts. In between a taxidermied antelope head and a framed ticket to the Brisbane World’s Fair hung an eighteenth century battle axe. Its handle short and engraved with a spiral pattern, the head almost as long as the handle, the back of the head bore a faded crest.

“My god, you can’t be serious?” Francesca gawked.

“It’s Spanish. Made sometime around 1780. A common weapon of the royal army. The stamp on the hilt suggests it was owned by a sergeant. It was recovered from a sunken ship off the coast of Florida. I have the papers to prove its authenticity.”

“Mr. Grimble,” Francesca said, shrugging her arms. “What would I possibly do with a battle axe?”

Mr. Grimble grabbed the axe with both hands and removed it from its display hook. He held it upright in front of him, admiring it, then offered it to Francesca.

“Hold it,” he said.

“No, really,” Francesca waved her hands at the piece.

“Please,” Mr. Grimble said and stepped closer to her. “See how it feels.”

“Well,” Francesca said, tapping a finger to her chin. “I never have held an antique Spanish weapon before, and who knows if I’ll get another chance.”

She took the axe from him.

“Wow, its heavy,” she said, awkwardly handling axe, holding the blade as far from herself as possible. “Is this thing sharp?”

“I keep all my wares in pristine condition.”

“Uh-huh,” Francesca said. “You know, I think I’ll pass on the battle axe.” She handed it back to Mr. Grimble. “But I’ll take that dove, though.”

“Yes, of course,” Mr. Grimble said.

Francesca walked back down the aisle to grab the porcelain dove.

Mr. Grimble tightened his grip on the axe.

(Fiction and Photography by Wesley Martin)

Call for Submissions

image

Photo by Alex Pappalardo

Time is running out! El Portal is currently accepting submissions for its Fall 2017 issue, but there’s only three days left! Fiction, nonfiction, flash fiction, poetry, photography, and art are all welcome internationally. Simultaneous submissions are welcome. Deadline 11:59pm, March 31st.

For Terms of Submission: Click Here

For Submission Guidelines: Click Here

The Spring 2017 issue is well on its way. Additionally, we recently released our Fall 2016 issue, which we’re proud to say is our best yet and includes a very talented array of writers, poets, photographers, and artists.

To check it out: Click Here

To check out previous issues of El Portal: Click Here

If you have any further questions about El Portal or the submission process, please feel free to email the editor at el.portal@enmu.edu.

This is West – Fetching Apples

Apples

Mary Louise stole Uncle Romeo’s lion tooth necklace off the table and ran out the back door. Uncle Romeo always said that the tooth would bring courage to the wearer, and he would know, being a stuntman for the circus and all. Mary Louise knew stealing was wrong, that Mother and God would be angry with her, but she was the only one who needed courage right now. She was really just borrowing it. God would understand. And if she was quick enough, Mother would never find out.

Besides, it was Mother who sent her out anyway, even though she knew Mary Louise didn’t like walking the farm alone. She had told her to fetch some apples so she could make dumplings for everyone during Uncle Romeo’s visit. Everyone else got to stay inside and listen to Uncle Romeo’s stories, but she had to fetch apples from all across the farm. Fetching things for Mother always fell onto Mary Louise. She wanted to protest when Mother had told her to get the apples, but didn’t want appear childlike in front of Uncle Romeo.

She slipped the lion tooth necklace over her head as she crossed through the gardens towards the apple tree. This farm was so much bigger than the one back in Ohio where they barely had room for Father to grow his wheat. But here they had gardens and chickens and even a pond, all surrounded by a great big wheat field. Mary Louise hadn’t gotten used to it yet. She didn’t like being alone in such open space.

She plucked an onion stalk to chew on as she cut through the gardens. And she circled around the chicken coop because she hated the way the chickens would rush at the cage and startle her. Past the chicken coop and over a hill by the pond stood the apple tree. Mother was so excited about having an apple tree, even though this one was rather small and not the greatest producer of fruit. Still, Mother loved the tree so much she insisted father put a fence around it to protect it from any greedy creatures wanting her apples.

At the top of the hill Mary Louise froze, dropping the onion stalk from her mouth. She grabbed the lion tooth hanging over her chest and felt her heart pounding. The biggest, most monstrous boar Mary Louise had ever seen thrashed about in a hole carved out under the fence. It was easily twice as big as any boar she had seen in Ohio, and it didn’t just have nubs for tusks: these tusks could stab straight through a grown man’s hand. Blood ran down its bristly haired body where it was cutting itself under the fence posts. Apparently the beast had been working its way to the apple tree and unwittingly pinned itself. It grunted and kicked futilely.

Mary Louise rubbed her thumb over the lion tooth and fought the urge to run back to the house. The boar struggled below her, seemingly unaware of her presence. She picked up a dirt clod and tossed it at the animal’s backside and ducked behind the hill. She peeked back at the boar, which only grunted and squirmed as it had before.

Mother had said to fetch seven apples, one for everybody to have their own dumpling. Inside the fence, Mary Louise spotted some scattered apples. With one hand clutching the lion tooth and the other holding the burlap sack, Mary Louise started down the hill. The boar had dug his hole near the gate, so she climbed over on the opposite side, trembling as she did so. Halfway over the fence her eyes met the hollow yellow eyes of the boar. The fence wobbled and Mary Louise tumbled towards the tree, only a few feet from the beast’s enormous snout. She scrambled upward and backed up into the fence. Despite the boar’s wild flailing, he remained stuck in place. Mary Louise opened the burlap sack and scrambled around the tree, picking up apples, always keeping an eye on the boar.

She gathered six; just one short. The tree had already dropped most of its fruit. She saw a ripe apple she could reach if she climbed the trunk a short way, but she would have to take her eye off the boar. She stuffed her foot into a knot in the trunk and reach for the nearest limb. Then she saw the entire fence was shaking violently. She turned around just as the posts pinning the creature snapped in half. The boar broke free and the fence collapsed. Without thinking, Mary Louise heaved herself into the tree, narrowly avoiding being gored.

She clamped herself to the branch while the boar rammed itself repeatedly into the trunk. She dropped the sack of apples and the boar mindlessly trampled them. Apple bits and pieces of bark flew into her face. The lion tooth whip-lashed around her neck until Mary Louise snatched it, but the shaking caused the necklace to snap and she lost her grip of the branch. Mary Louise plummeted downward. However, instead of hitting the ground to be trampled like the apples, she landed on top the boar’s back. This surprised the boar as much as it did her, and for an instant it halted its assault. Mary Louise realized she still held the lion tooth. She latched herself around the beast’s neck before it started bucking, and she stabbed the tooth repeatedly into its eyes.

(Fiction and Photography by Wesley Martin)

Call for Submissions

IMG_0306 (1)

Photo by Dr. Linda Sumption

Time is running out! El Portal is currently accepting submissions for its Fall 2017 issue, but there’s only a week left! Fiction, nonfiction, flash fiction, poetry, photography, and art are all welcome internationally. Simultaneous submissions are welcome. Deadline 11:59pm, March 31st.

For Terms of Submission: Click Here

For Submission Guidelines: Click Here

The Spring 2017 issue is well on its way. Additionally, we recently released our Fall 2016 issue, which we’re proud to say is our best yet and includes a very talented array of writers, poets, photographers, and artists.

To check it out: Click Here

To check out previous issues of El Portal: Click Here

If you have any further questions about El Portal or the submission process, please feel free to email the editor at el.portal@enmu.edu.

This Is West – Things Lost

100_1264

The diner was a little sweaty this time of year. The heat in the kitchen was unbearable, the parking lot burned hot as a frying pan, and flies clung to the outside of the windows in small swarms, delicate legs in the dozens crawling around in what little shade the sills had to offer, granting the illusion of grime. Customers complained sometimes—they always did—but there was nothing to be done about it. The smell of greasy food and sugary drinks drew them in. The pesticides didn’t keep them out.

Ella covertly wiped the sweat from her brow before stepping out of the kitchen and back onto the floor. The AC kept the main room cool most days. When the temperature vaulted up over 95 degrees it got a little tepid. At 100 degrees most started to complain. It was 104.

The floor was more or less empty. A few people sat along the wall in booths, drinking tall, cool glasses of soda and tea and water with lemon. A young man chatted up one of the waitresses and a couple Ella had seen a time or two sat silently on opposite sides of the booth, looking in different directions. Ella had seen a dozen lives change over supper. She wondered if they’d still be wearing rings next time they came in.

Hal—an older man and a regular—sat in his favorite booth in the back, tapping his fork against the side of his glass not out of rudeness to get her attention, but as a tick he couldn’t control. She’d hated him at first. Now he was one of her favorites. But today he seemed disquiet, staring out the window at the clouds gathering on the horizon.

It was supposed to rain that night. An end to the drought at last.

“Over in Arizona we used to get these real big thunderstorms,” he said when she made her way over to his table to check on him. They were pals by now. She knew exactly what he’d order because it was always the same. In turn, he asked after her kids. “Always worried it might be the big one. The ground gets too hard and dry; the water just stays on top. Floods the place out. My house got flooded three or four times that way.”

Ella remembered dancing in ankle-deep water outside her own house as a child—a little shack tucked back and down from a street without a curb. Any time it rained more than a little, all the water from the entire street would pool in her front yard. As she got older, it scared her more and more. Sometimes the steps disappeared. Sometimes the water went up to-mid calf, only stinted from flooding her home by the high foundation it sat on and the slow drain of water into hard earth.

Brown water, sprinkled with floating patches of dry grass. When she pulled her feet out to step back up onto the porch, her legs would be plastered with debris. The air was electric. The air was alive. She was so, so young.

“It doesn’t happen much here,” she said and stared out at the clouds now, too. Giant, white, fluffy. But tonight they would bring lightning and thunder. The radio had been screeching shrill flash flood warnings all afternoon. “We get a little flooding, but nothing like you see on TV.”

She patted him on the shoulder in a comforting gesture, but he kept staring out at the sky, where the street seemed to shimmer in waves of thick, exhausting heat.

(Fiction and Photography by Kayleen Burdine)

Call for Submissions

Untitled

It’s that time again! El Portal is currently accepting submissions for its Fall 2017 issue. Fiction, nonfiction, flash fiction, poetry, photography, and art are all welcome internationally. Simultaneous submissions are welcome. Deadline 11:59pm, March 31st.

For Terms of Submission: Click Here

For Submission Guidelines: Click Here

The Spring 2017 issue is well on its way. Additionally, we recently released our Fall 2016 issue, which we’re proud to say is our best yet and includes a very talented array of writers, poets, photographers, and artists.

To check it out: Click Here

To check out previous issues of El Portal: Click Here

If you have any further questions about El Portal or the submission process, please feel free to email the editor at el.portal@enmu.edu.

This is West – “The Masterpiece”

deli

I had never heard of this man, this bewildering artist simply called Mikey as his nametag declared. Nevertheless, his exhibit garnered more attention than any other piece at the gallery. His space, nay, his stage, had a perpetual line of visitors awaiting their chance to experience his artistry. The curators of the event must have had the foresight to know his performance art would attract the largest crowd, for his stainless steel cart from which he created his masterpieces was located in the back, somewhat distanced from the other exhibits.

As not to appear too eager, I browsed the other pieces, half-heartedly admiring the portraits and landscapes and sculptures, occasionally commenting to a fellow fan of the arts, but it was the line to Mikey that had my true attention. After spending only a fraction of the time with the other artworks than I normally would have, I took my place amongst the other guests in line hungering for their turn with the splash out artist.

“Next,” he called, and the line moved forward slightly.

Mikey had bound his dreads into a pinned up ponytail, capped with a visor. He wore a matching apron with his nametag in the corner. He wore latex gloves and, never missing a detail, had a splotch of mustard on his forearm.

After watching many satisfied patrons leave his cart with their own original creations crafted right before their eyes, Mikey finally called “Next,” and approached the glass window separating the performer from the audience.

“How may I help you?” Mikey asked me, friendly, inviting. This was a man whose whole purpose was to share his art with others.

“Help me?” I said. “Sir, by engaging in your work you would not only help me, you would honor me.”

“Uh, right, OK.” Mikey said. “Bread?”

I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, then I noticed the placard listing multiple bread choices. My curiosity increased tenfold. Were we, the audience, to participate in the creation of these works? “Italian,” I replied, hoping it would be a choice Mikey would approve of.

He silently retrieved a loaf from beneath the counter and placed it on a sheet of parchment paper before cutting it open lengthwise. I awed at the mindfulness in which he executed the cut, clearly the hands of someone with hundreds of hours of experience.

“Meat?” Mikey said next.

I saw that placards existed for each step of the artwork’s creation. There were so many choices. I was suddenly perplexed.

“What do most people get?” I inquired, knowing I must seem amateurish to the man.

“Probably turkey,” Mikey said, with no air of judgment. “But hey man, this is for you. Not anyone else. Watchyu want?”

“I suppose I shall have the roast beef.” I replied, exalted with a rush of applying my own person onto the piece.

“Cheese?” Mikey continued.

“Oh,” I said, tapping my chin. “Pepperjack. No, American. No, pepperjack.”

I tugged at my shirt collar, uncertain with my choice. However, Mikey paid my indecisiveness no mind, and added the cheese slices.

“Veggies?” He said, sliding the parchment paper down the counter.

I leaned in closer to the glass window to examine my options, my many options. Truly, no two creations had to be the same. There was infinite potential within Mikey’s craft.

“How much can I get?” I asked.

“As much as you want,” Mikey said. “But personally, I think less is more when it comes to the toppings. You know what I mean?”

“Yes, I think I do.” I nodded, absorbing those sage words.

I reexamined my choices, carefully considering what veggies could say the most with the least embellishment.

“I’ll take black olive, red pepper, and,” feeling a bit bolder, “onion.”

Mikey assembled the last ingredients and folded the creation closed before cutting it in half at a diagonal. Then he wrapped up the piece and handed it to me.

“That will be four eighty-nine.” He said.

“Yes, of course,” I could hardly believe that such an incredible experience came at such a reasonable price. I withdrew my checkbook and wrote the artist the specified amount. Upon handing the artist his check, his eyes widened.

“Wow. Thanks, brother.”

I reveled in his usage of such familiar association. Indeed, there was a kinship between him and me. Both of us contributing to the artwork’s creation, neither knowing exactly how it would unfold.

“No, thank you,” I said. Then I looked for a place to sit, where I might further endeavor to appreciate the masterpiece in my hands.

(Fiction and Photography by Wesley Martin)

Call for Submissions

IMG_7723 (1)

Photograph by Jade Smith

It’s that time again! El Portal is currently accepting submissions for its Fall 2017 issue. Fiction, nonfiction, flash fiction, poetry, photography, and art are all welcome internationally. Simultaneous submissions are welcome. Deadline 11:59pm, March 31st.

For Terms of Submission: Click Here

For Submission Guidelines: Click Here

The Spring 2017 issue is well on its way. Additionally, we recently released our Fall 2016 issue, which we’re proud to say is our best yet and includes a very talented array of writers, poets, photographers, and artists.

To check it out: Click Here

To check out previous issues of El Portal: Click Here

If you have any further questions about El Portal or the submission process, please feel free to email the editor at el.portal@enmu.edu.