Photo by Nicki Varkevisser


There is a class of seniors in my library. Their teacher is stuck in a meeting with the superintendent and his classroom is locked. I have gathered them in from the hall, where they were being absurdly noisy. They are still being absurdly noisy, but at least in here I can contain it, close the doors, shut the lights, and collect their hubbub in. I could raise my voice at ... [Continue Reading]



The night I move in, I sit in my darkened kitchen and sip wine next to the open window. I watch as the cops pull up beside a black teenager who is walking on the sidewalk across the street. They say something to him, get out of their squad car, and pat him down. One of the cops glances up, sees me peering out. After a few minutes, they pull away and the lanky teenager is ... [Continue Reading]


Emergency Pot Cookie (Or, the Nascence and Destruction of my First Real Writing Job)

If you are ever nineteen and living in San Francisco for the first time, working at your first writing job, getting paid, getting laid, carousing 24/7 with your utterly lovable just-coming-out-of-the-closet gay bestie, bathing in a seemingly endless shower of free weed, passing effortlessly into the VIP lounges of the city’s newest clubs, eating Chinese food that pitches ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Jeff Archer


If you enjoy this story, please consider supporting Vela on Kickstarter! We thank you infinitely for your support. Because of the fog, no one can enter San Quentin. Inmates must remain in their cells to be counted. We must remain on the outside. Nearly 100 people stand around, chatting, waiting to enter in order to watch prisoners perform a series of drama sketches, ... [Continue Reading]


On Reading a Killer’s Manifesto

Over Memorial Day weekend, I enjoyed an idyllic three days with friends. When they left on Tuesday, I returned to the world and caught up on the news I’d been missing. I’d heard of the Isla Vista shooting, but it wasn’t until Tuesday where I finally learned of all the details. While I had been blissfully bouncing my friends’ new baby on my knee, letting him wrap ... [Continue Reading]


The Fire Rises

My father was an Eagle Scout when being an Eagle Scout meant something. When I was young, he taught me the proper way to build a campfire, and also about Houdini, and the way Houdini died. My father told me that if I fell asleep near running water dragonflies would come and sew my eyelids shut. For nightmares, he once offered ibuprofen. I am sitting on the floor of my ... [Continue Reading]

Photo Javier Corbo


My father carved for my mother. He turned blocks of wood into mini-carousel horses. These horses were the most delicate things I’d ever seen a man make—their legs thin as reeds and bent in gallop. In warmer months my mother would arrange them on the living room’s wood stove. They ran in place, in circles, in early July around a bouquet of Tiger Lilies—her ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Jorge Santiago

Our Own Ocean

During the longer days of our cross-country road trip I slept in the car in the early afternoon, dozing in the passenger seat as Cam’s Toyota ate up miles of American highway, the flickering sun through the windows casting all my dreams in a strange, mottled light. Cameron, for his part, was content to drive in relative quiet, one hand on the wheel and the other in ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by keightdee

A Return to Limantour

The sublet in Berkeley was our last resort. My father and I had been kicked out of the bottom floor of a house in Sausalito for breaking the unstable leaseholder’s plate, and we had traipsed the cold streets of San Francisco for days, looking for an affordable place. That futile mission had ultimately landed us here, just off of Telegraph Avenue, at the threshold of an ... [Continue Reading]


In the Form of Birds

The summer my father died I bought a book on Southwestern birds. It was he who had given me my first feeder on my 8th birthday, back when we lived in New Orleans. He’d gotten the bird-feeding bug, I’m guessing, from his mother. At his parents’ house in Springfield, Pennsylvania, there was one of those open platforms—a plywood landing about six feet high. My ... [Continue Reading]