In the West, it is said, water flows uphill toward money. And it literally does, as it leaps three thousand feet across the Tehachapi Mountains in gigantic siphons to slake the thirst of Los Angeles, as it is shoved a thousand feet out of Colorado River canyons to water Phoenix and Palm Springs and the irrigated lands around them. It goes 444 miles (the distance from Boston to Washington) by aqueduct from the Feather River to south of L.A. It goes in man-made rivers, in siphons, in tunnels. In a hundred years, actually less, God’s riverine handiwork in the West has been stood on its head. A number of rivers have been nearly dried up. One now flows backward. Some flow through mountains into other rivers’ beds. There are huge reservoirs where there was once desert; there is desert, or cropland, where there were once huge shallow swamps and lakes.” –Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert (p. 12)
Here’s Bryan Cranston reading Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias.”
A skull, of a bull
Perched on a rotting post of wood
The background, a blood red sunset
With hints of a lack of oxygen
Smeared across the panorama
Saguaro Cacti, erected across the
Barron waste land
Representing generations of life,
While the skull represents generations of death
Dry heat is what they said,
But so is fire
Build canals! Sow the seeds! Inhabit this
Illustrious land full of opportunity
THEY LEFT IN THE MORNING, before the stars had even begun to disappear. The sky that had been purple-blue-black when they first pulled away from the flickering streetlamp just outside Claire’s family’s apartment was now vibrant and alive with the fiery oranges and yellows of sunrise, its reflection settled smack-dab in the center of the rearview mirror like a miniature masterpiece. They had three hours behind them and no particular destination in mind, their duffle bags slung carelessly into the bed of Ethan’s run-down ’82 Ford pickup. The cab was chilly with the last dregs of winter and Claire shivered a little. The heater was busted.
“Alright, screw it,” she announced, propping her feet up on the dash and tossing her book down onto the weathered seat between them. “Uncomfortable truths. Go.”
Ethan turned his eyes from the road for a second, confusion apparent. “What?”
“Uncomfortable truths,” she reiterated, this time more slowly. “Tell me something unsettling about yourself that I don’t already know.”
“Like what?” he asked, still not seeming to understand. Claire sighed.
“Fine. I’ll start,” she fiddled with the radio’s volume until Led Zeppelin faded out to a low hum. “You know those novelty jelly beans people buy as gag-gifts? The really gross ones that taste like mud, earwax, vomit…?
“I like the soap-flavored ones.”
“What?” Ethan’s nose crinkled in disgust.
“Yup,” she replied proudly. “Your turn.”
30 minutes until the El Portal launch party!
5PM in Bernalillo Hall (lounge). Refreshments will be served.
ENMU students, we know you’ve been anxiously waiting to find out the winning entries. Come to the launch to hear the formal announcement, as well as to bask in the admiration of your peers.
The bloodred dust blew down out of the sun. He touched the horse with his heels and rode on. He rode with the sun coppering his face and the red wind blowing out of the west across the evening land and the small desert birds flew chittering among the dry bracken and horse and rider and horse passed on and their long shadows passed in tandem like the shadow of a single being. Passed and paled into the darkening land, the world to come.” — All the Pretty Horses (p. 302)
For West is where we all plan to go some day. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: Flee, all is discovered. It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go when you hear that thar’s gold in them-thar hills. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go.” — Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men (pp. 405-406)
El Portal‘s staff is working hard to revamp the website. Information concerning the launch date for the Spring 2014 edition will be posted soon.
Check out the new section header titled “Winter 2014 Edition” to download your copy!
To see pictures from the Winter 2014 Launch and receive updates, please consider “Liking” us on facebook.
Yes, there’s only one month left for submissions to our Fall Issue. Send us your poems, stories, essays, and photographs before the Big Pumpkin arrives. All submissions can be sent to email@example.com.
Call For Submissions: El Portal
Attention, all writers, artists, photographers, and poets! Eastern New Mexico University is accepting submissions for the Fall 2013 El Portal.
El Portal is ENMU’s Literature and Arts Journal. It is published biannually.
El Portal and El Portal awards are funded by a grant from the Jack Williamson Trust. The late Dr. Williamson was a science fiction master, author, ENMU professor emeritus of English, and friend to writers and readers everywhere. He served as the faculty sponsor of El Portal while he taught at ENMU.
Submissions for following categories are needed:
- Flash Fiction (500-1500 words)
- Short Stories (up to 4000 words)
- Creative Nonfiction Essays (up to 4000 words)
- Poetry (may submit 3-5 poems)
- Art and Photography (please submit 300 dpi JPEG)
–Please submit all written work in .doc, .docx, or .rtf formats.
–With the exception of poetry and art/photography, please limit entries to one story or essay.
–Works addressing the theme (above) are preferred but not required.
–Prizes will be awarded to ENMU students only.
–Prizes awarded only in Short Story, Poetry, and Art/Photography categories.
Submission Deadline: October 31, 2013