Reading by Octavio Quintanilla

.flier for UIW reading

Dr. Octavio Quintanilla, faculty advisor for The Thing Itself, will read from his poetry collection, If I Go Missing, on Wednesday, February, 11, at University of the Incarnate Word.

The reading will take place at the Special Collections of the J.E. and M.E. Mabee Library, 6:00pm.

The reading is sponsored by the Department of English and The Poets & Writers in the Classroom Series.

The Thing Itself Reading Series Returns Featuring Vincent Cooper, Will Sharp, Robert Ferrelli, and Deborah Vasquez


It is with great pleasure that I announce the start of The Thing Itself’s 2014-2015 Reading Series. Our first reading will feature poetry by Vincent Cooper and Will Sharp, Fiction by Robert Ferrelli, and art by Deborah Vasquez.

We at The Thing Itself would also like to congratulate Vincent Cooper, a featured reader at this weekend’s reading, on the publication of his first chapbook, Where the Reckless Come to Die, by Aztlan Libre Press.

Vincent is poet and former United States Marine, who’s work speaks to the spirit of San Antonio’s west side. He is also currently working on a screenplay based on Xicano magical realism and the oral tradition in current culture. For more information on Vincent, please visit his website at

I invite everyone to come out this Saturday at 5:30 and experience Vincent’s work, as well as that of Will Sharp, Robert Ferrelli, and Deborah Vasquez. As usual, our reading will be held at The Twig Book Shop, and will have an open mic session following the reading.

I hope to see everyone this Saturday.


David Hale


The Thing Itself

THIRST by: Lemuel Torres

two lovers drenched in sweat outside the corner store,
large Icee cup, one straw
red lips Big Red one heart,
they sip and quench their thirst,
outside the corner store.
This day is burning hell,
Texas summer weather I am
colder than ever walking to my car,
I see two lovers and I envy their thirst.
All I’ve got lately is long nights, humid,
but with a sweat that is not binding.
I’m working the graveyard shift, smoking cigarettes,
and I have lost count of how many pills I’ve taken.
Running away from everything, I am on my way to nowhere,
and these trips never last long enough anymore.
I keep thinking about that couple outside the corner store,
I’m envious of their thirst.
Driving, I am flying, stop at another corner store,
I’ll buy more cigarettes, coupons and smiles,
the store attendant speaks to me as if I’d known her
all our lives, and I keep thinking when it was that we lost that thirst.
Lonely drive home, the highway is a graveyard.
The dead are always whispering and I listen but there is nothing new to learn.
Razor blade dreams, I’m pleading to an unknown saint,
lighting candles.
I am borrowing rituals from a faith I don’t believe in,
and I’m wishing you and I could recover that thirst.

FORWARD MOMENTUM by: Carol Shilibeer

carol shillibeer
After winter’s long empty lung, a breath taken;
the sun shudders forward again falling
north along the sunrise horizon.

In the rising light
the skwee of a cedar waxwing
stretches along the breaking curve of new shadow.

Rustle in the bush: salal-shine, sky blue
with time’s redolence;

long before the flowers begin to show
life under leaves seeding

old year’s bones splinter under foot,
the surviving ones, they ate the last of winter
& withered berries
already shat

here on the path forward,
black-tail pellets, fresh.
A day at most.

RANGE by: Amy Larrabee

My grandfather asks
if we have our
ear muffs on.
“What?” we say
lifting a red foam
cup from one ear.
It’s important to stay protected out here
where the sun and the snakes
are as dangerous as stray bullets;
but, this, too, is a playground,
a world born in the absence of words
that is not silent,
that cries out
in swarms from the cactus and mesquite.

We prowl this cracked,
white earth, like pirates
waiting for the sun to reveal
its tiny golden treasures.
Everywhere we must maneuver
land mines, mysterious mounds
left by the night walking cows.

We fill our bags with bullet shells,
like collecting Easter eggs
warmed by the sun.
We know to leave the
shot gun shells,
red plastic hell,
and the dainty 22s,
which grandpa says
aren’t good for anything.

On this earth,
we are quick
and accurate marksmen.

DUST by: Michael Mark

We live against the dust.
To protect our shoes, surgical instruments
and storefronts.

It is of use to sweep daily.
But we will not beat back dust.
Just by struggling we make more of it.

Take hold of the broom’s worn handle.
Let it feel your weight.
Be precise, disciplined.

You will find, on your knees, you have an existence.
Get your face to the floor.

All the armies of the world could unite.
They would lose battle after battle to dust.
The most destructive, expensive weapons
would not mark a single casualty.
Eventually dust would overtake
each piece of artillery,
every brave, trained soldier
would fall.

Best not to consider dust a foe.
There’s no reason.
It doesn’t fear or hate you
or value what’s yours.

There is no inherent threat.

Dust has no country or property to defend.
No concept of borders.
This is why you can’t get it out of your house
off your clothes, from behind your ears.

Dust doesn’t grasp up or down.
Falling in all directions,
mindless of gravity.
Pretty in slanted sunlight.

There is more dust than days.
Pile all man’s knowledge and accomplishments and
the dust from an island not charted on any map would bury all
we have ever learned, created, bought, stole, killed for, sold.
Dust makes a joke of every dollar we
put into our bank accounts for safe keeping.

In the universe man is insignificant.
Dust has no equal.
Though such comparisons are of no interest
to dust.
Nor is the universe.
Other than it is a place
to land.

Scrape blow gather vacuum carry dump.
Dust is dust.
As it was before all the effort.

Dust will outlast water.
And the worries of the world.
In fact there will never be an end to the world
because dust won’t go away.
That’s something to take comfort in,
worthy of worship.
Though again dust could care less

about status, morality, benevolence, thrones.

Dust will show itself to be a truer mirror than glass.

Between your hand
and your lover lies dust.
Dissolve into dust.

Take some advice.
Keep dust where it is.
Bathe clean in the dust.
Wash the dust off your body with dust.
Try to live a life in dust.


Start with the ground giving our skin
back to us in the presence of evergreens.

Invert complements. Revert them back.
Invert them again. What choreography
will our syllables borrow then?

Love is a body. Love is a disease.
Love is a monster, our cheeks
scraped iron bars. Love gives our skin
back to the ground.

There is always a loose end
I can tie you up with; you’

MONUMENTAL by: JB Mulligan

Small country graveyard,
tombstones in ragged rows
like time-stained teeth.

The sentinel trees
slumber, and leaves
cluster on the grass
like forgotten dreams.
Accumulate to vague
memory of dreaming.

Trucks and school buses
skitter past like insects,
as ships in a harbor
shoulder past dockside bars:
there is freight to be borne
until the time for stopping.

The statues no one built
fill up the spaces
between the trees.


The candle’s flicker
keeping time against our skin.
Night showing itself
Full-faced and fleeting.
Drink ourselves honest
With wine exactly this dark.
Laugh with mouths shut.
I slur the word essence.
You lean into my mistake.
Saxophone longing
crawls through the speakers.
We try not to hear this.
The singer sings anyway.
I am trying to escape my Woman.
You are trying to wear Man like it fits.