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Monday, February 26, 2024

The California Aggie’s “In 100 Words or Less”

This year’s theme for The California Aggie’s Literary Magazine was “In 100 Words or Less.” The Literary Magazine committee ultimately chose 17 student submissions to feature. 


By Jack Hyslop

A chalky pink-blue bath bomb 

falls ~plunk~ into the sea. 

A modest tub yet comfy enough 

to fit just you and me. 

Its fizzle stops and in we go. 

We soak for a while with cheek-sore smiles. 

We rock the waves — going slow. 

Our love is the product of fine brushwork 

in the lavender foam and cerulean murk. 

Come drown inside it. 

Where there’s no tide to guide it. 

We’ll soon be warm and breathless. 

The drain plug pulled 

And the bathwater swirled. 

With it went our locket necklace

“On your graduation day, 2016”

By Caroline Rutten and her mom,

You are golden: shiny, valuable, precious, admired, treasured.

Hold your goldness close — let it radiate from you always.

Now lean in, my love. Move forward with deftness, 

Watch for handholds and check your footing,

But don’t hold back. Lean in.

Expect much of yourself. 

“One Day”

By Maeve Ashmore

We took the B train, rattling all the way to Coney Island, my butt sweating onto the plastic seat. It was nearly empty by the time we got there but I dragged you on to the swings and we went up and up. The wind whipped through our hair and I grinned at you hard. I can see it now, the stars twinkling down to touch the murky water, my hand reaching out to grasp nothingness. It felt as though the clouds had opened and we’d reached some dirty heaven. But it wasn’t real was it, things like that don’t last.


By Tenzin Youedon 

like many Tibetans in exile, i have never had the privilege of going home

will it feel like home?

when i see the low foothills and the high peaks of snow will i start crying uncontrollably?

will the soil beneath my feet feel familiar?

will the newly paved sidewalks break my heart?

every child is yearning for this day

every grandparent is reminiscing

i like to imagine myself feeling an undeniable connection 

to this unfamiliar land

hugging each yak

kissing the cheek of each child

touching foreheads with one another

desperately consuming what had been stolen from me

and patiently learning to love what is left

“This is the color yellow”

By Jessica Baggott

The second it hits your tongue, it shrivels up 

Sour permeating every crevice 

Watering, trying to dilute 

Eyes and nose scrunch, waiting for it to pass 

Winter morning with clear skies 

Sharp and cold, coat draped over 

The only warmth, a patch of sun 

Seeping deep into the soul 

Walking down the stairs with sleep in your eyes 

The crackling of a hot skillet 

Batter ready for pouring 

And family sitting at the table 

Eyes opening slowly with another’s 

Wrapped close in tight embrace 

Under the covers and completely content 

Drifting back to deep sleep 

This is the color yellow

“Promise me Giggle dirt”

By Kylie Rickman

We had some giggle dirt tonight. I laughed in a way that made me feel young again. You were working on one of your quarantine puzzles, with such motive in your every thought. I was watching you puzzle amusing about it as I sipped my cheap red wine from Rite Aid. In that moment a wave of gratefulness wafted over me. I am so lucky to have you as a best friend, especially right now in a world that is so confusing to navigate. Giggle dirt with you makes life better, so let’s never stop? 

Promise me Giggle dirt

“The Cowboy”

By Nicholas Chen

Off a train, and through the town, 

The cowboy pranced all around, 

Fingers tight, his trigger loose, 

He wound up in a lawman’ noose, 

Before the end, above the crowd, 

His feet dangling above the ground, 

Regrets ran through his mind apace,

Hoping uselessly for an escape 

Clouds gave way and sun shone through, 

In the crowd, stood his old crew 

Shots rang out, quick puffs of smoke, 

He disappeared beneath a cloak 

With friends of old and freedom new,

To wander beneath a sky of blue, 

Having cheated an early end, 

He went and did it all again 

“After School Snack”

By Elizabeth Mercado

Nothing would mark Camille as bold. Surrounded by apple cores and banana peels, she sat munching on half a peach remembering the poorly hidden snickers and shoves in the hall to and from class. She swallowed the peach pit. 

“Night Dance”

By Coralie Border

I look for you, knocking feet

and tongue drum, mugwort soft. 

I see you, faceless, again. spool 

of thread for a pinky. knitting me

a pair of shoes, to salsa the garden path

with you. alone. with you. the night’s 

body is broken and woven, your smile

becoming the red rose on the trellis. 

then becoming the donkey under the 

willow tree. I part the leaves, thread

slipping past my fingers, and you are 

my pillow, soft on the floor. I come 

to you and rest. I wake up with 

you in my arms. 


By Diana Olivares 

At St. Peter’s Children’s Hospital, little Lucia Ortiz lay in bed staring at the ceiling. An unfamiliar young boy in a white hospital gown stands at her bedside. “Are you a ghost?” she asks. “Perhaps,” he says, his smile weak. Lucia’s brow furrows as she thinks for a moment, “But, you’re just a kid, like me.” The boy’s pale face softens, his eyes poignant. “Looks like you’re staying,” he says. Lucia’s eyes shoot open. She’s surrounded by frantic nurses, her parents heaving tears of relief. Her head throbs, wrapped in bandages. In another room, a comatose boy’s heart stops beating.

“We Didn’t Give Them a Global Warning”

By Sophia Tong

Crack. Splash! That’s the last of them. Waters too blue. The ice is gone. Their heavy white fur troubles them more. Tired they look. Miserable they are. Sunrays burn their lifeless eyes. Three, two, one crack! The family loses grip, slips, and falls. And we just watch it all.

“You, With the Face”

By Akshay Sharma

I like your face 

Your hair grows out of your scalp, that’s dope 

Every time I look at you it’s like my heart’s on a tight rope 

Your eyes are evenly spaced 

Your eyebrows are where they should be

I stay awake at night thinking about what we could be 

Your neck is right underneath the center of your head 

The thought of being without you fills me with dread 


By Julia Shurman 

The little girl was oblivious to her surroundings as she danced nonsensically around piles of produce to the song in her head. So the little girl didn’t notice when her mom stopped moving as she grabbed apples, going unnaturally still. And as the little girl bopped her head to the imaginary beat, she didn’t see her mom then drop her partially filled bag and grab her chest. Nor did the little girl hear her mom’s gasp of pain—too focused on remembering lyrics. It was the thud of her mom collapsing that broke her concentration, and the girl stopped dancing. 


By Savrene Dudwal

Sometimes when she got that constricting feeling in her chest, and she couldn’t breathe, she would lie down, and stare up at the sky. The soft grass would caress her fingers as that blue nothingness stared back at her. It was peaceful. She wasn’t spiritual or religious or anything like that, but she hoped that was what death was, a blue nothingness. She’d lie there, spread out like the pages of a book, and the sky would throw her breath back into her, and she would catch it, closing her eyes, and exhaling.


By Sonora Slater

Well, I deleted Notes from my laptop, clearing up storage, and accidentally permanently deleted every note I’ve written over four years from my phone, too. Quotes, verses, to-do lists, a message I wrote to myself on my 18th birthday. I don’t remember what I wrote, something about remembering what really mattered. Maybe the message sucked and this was a sign that my future self needed better advice. 

All my good advice was written in my notes.

I have a singular screenshot of one where I wrote, “strangers are just friends you haven’t met.” 

Sounds like something a kidnapper would say. 

“March 17 2020”

By Brooke Harrington

what does a city do when its life grinds to a halt

unsure of where it stands 

no more economic figures to prop up against

no more shop lights 

or car noise 

or pedestrian gatherings

overhearing conversations 

while walking down the street

not knowing what’s to come

a park after sunset 

the quiet lull of freeway overpasses

the familiar no longer a given 

a collective sigh

a cycle of repeating 

old into new until old is irrelevant again 

how does one start

preparing for the end

when even the end is not a given


By Allison N Rose

I don’t know how to feel

I’m not clean

With my family, I can not deal

How long will I be at home?

I have baked so much bread

I am afraid of being alone

I can’t stand the voices in my head

What about the people who are dying?

I ask the people who choose to be in groups

This should have been a time of unifying

But their response is, who me? Whoops!

Does your “mental health” matter more than lives?

Tell that to all the husbands and wives

Who walked into their afterlives


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