Santana Dempsey


The House of Bags

plastic bag

She never called. The police detective on my case never called. She promised me. She promised me she’d call. That’s all I wanted from the police officers. The results. I wanted to know the results of my lab work. If they found a match. A DNA match. My legs were spread wide for the nurses. No tears. Calm. I was so calm as they scraped, pricked, and exposed my body to find answers. Photos. They took photos of my insides. Displayed. My insides were displayed on a large TV screen. I could see. See what I looked like inside. Was […]

Everything Went Blank

KNUTSON_Lara_LightingPainting_BlueOrange1200

Time doesn’t quite seem to be on my side. We always think there will be more time, but in so many ways there won’t be… enough. For the third time in my life, my heart has been broken.  It was a physical aching, stabbing, sharp pain that pierced my chest when I received the text, “You’re getting another sibling.”  “What…,” I responded. His quick reply, “Your boy’s a fiancé!!!” Blank Everything went blank.  I like blank more than went black because it wasn’t black. It was nothingness. I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t comprehend time, nor feel […]

Just You

Beauty Queen Totem, 2009
Bianco Carrara marble
132 x 40 x 36 inches

I’m currently sitting at my “Cheers” bar. The place where everyone knows my name. I come here several times a week. I try to cut myself off at no more than four times a week. Once, I overheard another patron say, “we are all sitting here killing ourselves.” That has always stuck with me: actively participating in our own demise in the company of others. Yet we, the regulars, all come to this one familiar place to feel less lonely, searching for companionship or an escape, but within the muck of searching, we are also drowning ourselves. It feels like […]

The State of My Estate

Truong Tran, Broken Mended

My next door neighbor died nine months ago. His name was Tom. We lived across from each other for seven years.  He lived a very quiet, modest life, only owning a beat up car that rarely started, and a few antique furniture pieces. He kept cash hidden under his bed (he didn’t trust big banks), and lived alone in a rent-controlled apartment for thirty years. Over the years, a handful of visitors would knock on his door. I never knew who they were. Most of the faces were new with a few that remained the same. Those same faces must […]

Mixed-Race with a White Identity

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What happens when a mixed race child only has a white identity and then goes out into the world? I have spent my entire life straddling many worlds culturally, socially and racially. I am a mixed race woman and I am in a family of transracial adoption. (Transracial adoption means adopting children of a different race). My biological mother was a white woman from Dallas, Texas. My birth father was Afro-Latino from the Dominican Republic, which is a recent discovery. Before last year, I had never seen a photo of my birth father nor knew where he was from. I […]

Why I Hate Vision Boards

blank poster pregame magazine

Create a vision board?! No, thank you! Truth is, I dislike making vision boards and making new years resolutions. I always have. From an early age, I vividly remember sitting at the round communal art table with my peers who were excitedly drawing out their deepest wishes for the new year, expecting that I’d be excited too. I wasn’t. I usually loved expressing myself. I enjoyed reading in front of the class. Writing short stories. Choreographing dance routines for the talent show. Anything other than being asked to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up or […]