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P o e t r y

 

5 Year Plan

Kirby Vaillant-White

Autism, She

Cassidy Blomberg

Ballet of the senses;

myriad of perspectives—

thoughts runneth over,

still wanting for words.

 

Faces wax and wane,

in constellations of gray;

nervous and sad melt like

candle wax on unsent letters.

 

Craves celestial company,

forever late to every party—

no one ever gave her

a timepiece.

Untitled

Andrew Edward Lyons Nolan

She tried to pattern her life like Escher

but it came out an imitation,

like a student of da Vinci doing his best van Gogh.

How many times she painted over,

how many times she played the artist’s part

but she never learned that living

is not like making art.

 
 

These woods careen

away from who

you were.

Surveyed, swept

into a lockbox

snapped shut

and catalogued:

monetized.

Away from memories

and raspberry stains

to a hand

you cannot hold,

a palm

balled up.

You are there,

at the edge

of that land

you Knew 

was Yours.

Nobody told them

that these hills

were for waiting,

not to sell

to someone

else.

Nobody said, “STOP,

I think she’s still inside!”

They just said

CLICK

when they hung up.

Battles

 

Casey Garner

My mom was sick — an unrelenting beast of a disease eating away at her abdomen, 

worsening day by day, growing weaker by the hour it seemed, 

going from walking to limping to wheelchair to bed-bound, 

from bathroom runs to the transfer from bed to commode 

equating to a climb up and down Everest, 

from being independent to calling on me for every little thing,

from hopeful to a fractured state of being.

 

I would repeat to myself through stifled sobs, “I don’t matter.” 

The ache in my soul, grief for the mom I had before cancer struck her 

and grief for the impending loss I knew was coming, 

the turmoil raging inside over having no control, 

my fractured state of being just barely making it through each day 

and craving the solace of sleep because, at least there, I could escape my reality, 

my emotions on overdrive yet shutdown simultaneously, 

the sadness, the fear, the anger — none of it mattered. 

I had convinced myself of that. 

 

Nothing could equate to the battle she fought and was losing at an alarming rate. 

She was the one with a disease that would kill her. 

She was the one forced to confront death far before she was ready.

I was just a daughter scared of losing her mother.

 

I was a daughter scared of losing her mother.

Big Yellow House

 

Canthus

Alexandra Dilaura

Alexis Cummings

Here, by the riverside

The rocky shore is

Good for picking

Good for skipping 

 

Here, on the lawn

The birds feed

And the horses neigh

Running on marshmallows of hay

 

Barns with cars old and new

Scattered fields of flowers 

Rows of pine trees create a border

A rope swing is far away

 

A willow tree stands two houses tall

While morning glories intertwine

The fence along the driveway 

In every corner, beauty hides 

 

One of the gardens was a forest

Patches of rhubarb grew amidst the flowers 

Monarchs carefully landing 

The dogs running through the low leaves 

 

Here, by the riverside 

A house was built

A fireplace breathes 

Seeds drop from walnut trees

Our Quiet Scars

Austyn Morehouse

We built this house. 

We eat watermelon in empty rooms, 

spitting seeds across a shooting range 

measured by planks in the floor.

 

We built this house. 

We spill barbeque sauce while trying 

to make pizza and lick it from each other; 

like wild animals, we are free. 

 

We built this house. 

We drink our coffee cold. We’re too busy 

looking at the other to drink it hot, 

admiring the heat of each other instead. 

 

We built this house. 

My eyes are the color of the 

garden you gave me, watered by 

the April showers of tough times. 

Flowers come in spring. 

 

We built this house. 

Your eyes fell from the stars; 

your dreams stayed there, 

never to come back down.

Flowers come in spring.

 

We built this house. 

We dance in our underwear 

as we pack away our scars, 

the scars that don’t scream; 

we can walk away from this quietly. 

 

We have never loved 

each other more than this moment, 

but now this moment has passed. 

We sit across from each other 

in more April showers. 

Flowers come in spring. 

 

We sit on the wrong sides

of the table. Packing our scars 

into separate boxes, they scream. 

We keep them quiet. 

If Christ can move stone to 

forgive our sins, why can’t we? 

 

Rip open the scars that scream, 

pack them with the dirt of a grave, 

you are ready to let them die. 

You are ready to plant seeds. 

Flowers come in spring. 

 

We don’t wait for healing to find us. 

We have risen from the ground 

and better damn well act like it. 

You water flowers, not leave. 

Regrowth happens in spring.

 

We are spring.

We are spring.

We built this house.  

Picture dew crystals

amassed in pierced wisps

beneath me.

Damp air mass

floats amongst pixies,

shining so bright.

Some say dreams

do not become

reality through magic.

They have not dreamed like me.

Picture, in reality,

holding winced eyes.

Crevices of light

spark and puncture the thin way.

Hope pries a way to dream

and here we are, 

back in reality.

Cooking is my favorite song

Alexandrea Scarchilli

Low din of 

Lyrical conversation 

Carries the notes of 

Warm radiation

Shuffle around 

To reach the cooktop 

Hips brush past 

Spices fall from the rack

Crash, zing 

Pop and simmer 

Plip, plop, plunk 

Heat rising 

Melody of 

What’s cookin’ 

Good lookin 

Moves me 

Hands steady 

Chopping block my drum

Notecard paints the 

Next step in a waltz 

To the icebox 

Spices harmonize 

Sing out aromas 

Simple 

Sharp and brave 

No pausing this orchestra

Flow of essence 

Fumigates the air 

Leaks a playlist 

Of flavors 

Which note do you choose 

To savor?

DJs and Bad Days

Hannah Czeladyn

Once they told me

to Just Hold On for

a few more hours 

and, sure enough, the sun

 

came up again. He tells

all his friends, “I’ll 

get Back to You,” because

the last thing he wants 

 

is to dance the night

away. She stares at 

the Polaroid lying on 

her pillow, wishing for 

 

the people she hasn’t 

met. Suddenly they convince 

themselves they aren’t 

going to Live Forever 

 

so a decision is 

made. Finally, all the lonely

hearts met at Midnight 

for a drink on the bedroom floor.

 

 

               *Italicized words are song titles

 
 
 
 

Prism

 

Kelsie Burnard

If his words were a color,

They’d be forest green.

A sound so similar to getting lost with a sense of direction.

A compass to guide you home, but keep you on your toes.

He leans the way the leaves on evergreens do when reaching towards the sun.

 

Words with remains of gold leaf.

The kind used to repair broken pieces of china 

That makes the pieces all the more priceless.

Liquid gold to liquid luck,

Or perhaps the golden hue of a lighthouse beacon

Yet again guiding you home.

 

And perhaps the way he laughs would be the purest of diamonds.

So crisp.

Sharp.

Reflective of the surrounding world . . .

But certainly not the toughest, there’s a soft side there.

 

I’ve never seen his smile,

But I’d like to think it’s his favorite color.

A deep blue.

Cliché enough to remind you of the depths of the ocean.

Another thing to get blissfully lost in,

Perhaps even drown in.

 

And I’d like to think his tears are silver chains.

And I’d like to think he’d be comfortable wearing them around his neck.

That he would take his battle wounds with stride.

That the chains wouldn’t choke him,

But would rest peacefully around his neck . . .

As a symbol of feeling, of allowing, of validating himself.

 

If he as a whole was a color,

He’d be the entire rainbow.

And I’m honored to be the peaceful cloud resting on his shoulder.

Ice

 

Katelyn McKeone

Dry

Amanda Donaldson

Dripping down your throat, I watch you take too many sips

Promises fragmented, loyalty consigned to oblivion

A hasty moment of silence precedes tumultuous squalls

Tears smothering pillows, dreadful for the moon sky’s call

Whom, tonight, shall a sliver of peace be afforded?

The bells of salvation may only ring in the morning

When the war is over

And your thirst fleetingly quenched

Her lies are like snowflakes

No one looks past the beauty

No one knows how delicate

 

How transparent they are

One tap and they’ll melt

Yet no one would dare

 

Her secrets are unending

She hides under the cover

of her snowflake smile

 

You’ll slip on her lies

And she’ll watch you

freeze solid

 

Instructions

 

Nancy White

Gowpen

 

Use scissors to disentangle the exam question, 

then arrange the pieces in a controversial

shape on the answer sheet. The essay question

requires a scalpel, a starfish, a tank of oxygen,

 

and two skinny-dippers. Hide the starfish where

the professor won’t be able to find it, someplace

obvious, but first cut off one arm, which the starfish

will notoriously regenerate. Give the teacher an apple

 

but warn that to eat it will result in an excess

of knowledge and suffering. Make the apple

succulent with vice and juice. Open your mail noisily 

during the lecture and toward the end leap up 

 

shrieking I WON! I WON! I WON! I WON!

Embrace the members of the class, your startled

instructor, and declare you still plan to continue

your education even though you’ve been awarded

 

17 million from Publisher’s Clearing House which, 

you announce, is because you love learning for 

its own sake, especially now that you are rich.

Alexis Cummings

Seams of toxins

deposit into an impetus rage.

As my words seep

from this picket fence

gated by all unknown.

My words could never

heal the sword pierced in a derm.

We could touch,

and I could crumble.

Crumbles in the clasp of you

and your bearing.

I wallow in the mound

you call your soul. 

Clasp shut,

then leave.

Deja vu

When Fear is Near

 

Alicen Barker

Enjoy the Ride

(Song Lyrics)

Alexandra Dilaura

You’ve gone missing from my mind.

Your face is matching the wanted sign.

It’s got me living in a dream.

It’s one where you’re sight unseen.

 

Sunkissed by madness

I hoped you hadn’t noticed.

Strange and very unusual

I think you’ll enjoy the ride.

 

Spinning silhouettes in the moonlight

Similar to the way music box dancers might

Graveyard waltz at the strike of midnight

But I know that with you, it will be alright.

 

Sunkissed by madness

I hoped you hadn’t noticed.

Strange and very unusual

So you better enjoy the ride.

 

Cards on the table telling stories

Oracles projecting possibilities

Nightmares when I don’t hear you speak

A future without you, I can’t believe.

 

Sunkissed by madness

I hoped you wouldn’t notice

Strange and very unusual 

Step right on in and enjoy the ride.

Girl-Boy's Boy-Girl

Kirby Vaillant-White

She was the he who knew my she.

She was the grin with dimples carved.

She was the stage, the lights, our cues.

She was the rock candy I couldn’t chew.

 

She was the moonlit pond, warmer than fog.

She was the Super-Soaker pump.

She was the bandit’s pork-pie, angled.

She was the screaming forest hung with laughter.

 

She was the hand that clutched the bloodied cloth 

long after my nose stopped bleeding.

She was the patch of pink snow at the top of the lift.

She was the ski pole that helped me paint it there.  

She was the wind who whipped my crimson grin

when they told me to take the stretcher down.

 

She was the fort carved from the salted bank.

She was the caged organ’s frothed ache.

She was the sliver cradled deep beneath. 

She was the pan that blistered my wrist. 
 

She was the one who held me whole

                              who saw my tongue

                              who tasted sweet.

 

She was the equal weight upon the lever.

She was the warm pulse we both felt 

when the door was closed.

She was the original innocence they carved from our pressed palms.

 

She was.

And somewhere

Is.

The door clicks open

and my flesh writhes

at the anticipated sound.

 

Can always feel you

before you are ever

near, like figures we

grow comfortable 

assuming are 

just mundane objects一 

until it gets too

dark to see them.

 

You’ve sat down behind

me and inside me,

coating my throat in

electric sensations creating an

urge to cut out

my tongue lest it 

screams and you hear.

 

I never do much

when you come visit,

but I let my 

afternoon tea burn me

as my thoughts and

nerves vibrate and sting.

 

You never touch me,

but you change my

very molecules with ease.

 

I try to give you no 

space and you still

take a mile from an

inch the sympathetic system

let slip the slightest.

 

Tomorrow, perhaps,

the inch will close

or you will grow tired 

of the trekk to come see me,

but tomorrow will wait 

until tomorrow and I

go on in the

time in-between.

Unleash

Amanda Donaldson

I find myself in trammels 

as I move my arms about

Where has the night gone?

The dull morning sky meets my desiccated eyes

Pain

Pining

One more circuit. One more plight.

The rush that once propelled my veins

now leaves me bruised

and broken

Poisoned by this scheme, so-called “love”

Enslaved

Come ‘morrow, may I wake in liberation

 
 
 

Earthquakes // Clumsy

 

Austyn Morehouse

We sing along to songs that bring the night closer,

Erasing the road before and behind, 

Racing against street lights and nightlife,

With windows down, we live too loud.

 

Soft lights flutter across soft eyelids,

Gentle fire, restless flame.

He forgets I am more chaos than cringe,

More time, but not enough days.

 

We vibrate from caffeine, power, and immortality,

Shaking stars from the sky, quiet apologies.

Lost wishes caught among dangerous daydreams,

He thinks he’s in love with me, but last identity. 

 

Silent prayers of home within the other

Left in forty-two miles of dry field, 

Left at two a.m. and a no sleep streak, 

Left searching, last seen here.

 

We slip around curls of asphalt, 

Pay no mind to white lines,

Promises made of iridescent white lies,

Masterpiece worth missing, but we won’t. 

 

The car thumps delicacy away from us.

I sing in screams that I am empty, 

I can prove it; let me prove it. 

Time shivers, no beauty, no blade.

 

He shakes with my hands, his hands holding mine.

He smiles, a competition with no rules and he is losing.

All we do is shake and scream that we’re stable, ground crumbling under.

Each echo like the stars we shook down and lost and loved.

 

We sing along to songs that bring the night closer,

Eloquently allowing us to fall into the other,

Clumsy and unprepared, with windows down, 

We live too loud and never soft enough.

Flirt with Death, or Despair, 

or something else we play

with irresponsibly

 

Alexandrea Scarchilli

Seductive qualities 

Agony waltzes with 

Inviting darkness 

Appeals to suffering 

Sorrow sexualizes pain 

Grief 

Intrigue repeat 

Slinky, familiar, 

Struggle within 

Torment tantalizes 

Tugs at strings which hang 

Loose from your heart 

A provocative ache 

Lucious sting 

Poison inside 

Just as the raven sings 

Nevermore 

Call out 

As you slip, slide 

Deep back into 

Calamitous, 

Amorous, 

Hurtful 

Stupid, silly 

Selfish 

Sin

Her Parents' Land

Kirby Vaillant-White

And so I see how 

she sees her land,

this wild roiling, royal stretch 

of forest and pasture and one hundred years 

of rusting equipment

used until its worth was earned

and spent and earned again.

 

And now I see how

it’s not hers

in this village of dues and deeds.

She has no stake, no claim to own

these hills who held her in cupped palms

these woods whose branches curled to hold

her to them, weeping for her cries

were theirs to share.

 

And the diesel wind pelts her with

Conchord grapes and peach pits dripping;

Bearing grease and cracked Mack leather.

She tastes it all as it leaves,

watches it go.

Sweet as summers whose sun bore fruit,

that haunts her even as it grows,

Just down the road

but out of reach.

 

Hermit Martini

Cassidy Blomberg

Rib Cage

Alexis Cummings

 
 

One part: “almost." Two parts: pucker.

1 oz forget-me-not eyelashes

 

Garnish with your third chakra

and a pocketful of crystals.

 

Serve chilled with a deck of tarot cards 

(make certain every card is The Hermit.)

 

 


 

She says, “drink me slowly,

but then gulp me down.”

 

I choke on the fucking dog hair

as I reach for another sip.

Presentation of compassion,

Entanglement of contemplation.

The outer-bearings defend 

That of the soul. 

Keeping my bandage, 

Or composure from storms.

I’m told to open up,

But you are here for a reason,

Right?

Open to surroundings, 

Butterflies are released from captivity.

Do you see?

Do you see me?

Swat the butterflies,

Swat the birds, 

For they were hidden for years.

What’s their use,

Useless of you, 

Entanglement in a cage

Of all thoughts.

The Puppet Master

 

Zoe Malone

so much to say

so much happens

it starts with a kiss

it always does

a kiss to make you

weak in the knees

with a stomach

full of butterflies

but that’s not love

strength is

a puppet master

cannot love

it starts when he

asks to propose

a month after you meet

and disappears

when you want to wait

comes back with a yes

doesn’t want to wait

continues to pull strings

with two things he twists

his ankle, and me

a pawn in his game

to get to the queen

so i can go with him

just to see a doctor

he feigns fear of

he borrows hundreds

he can’t pay back

not without a job

something he doesn’t have

he tells secrets

but keeps one

he turns truths

says he can’t recall

that’s false, he knows

thirteen is too young

and he is aware

his disbelief of my truth

changes, as my truth

turns to a lie

i told him my father 

committed suicide

so if i leave him

this puppet master

will do the same

even has me see

an image in my head

of him, hung by a

string – 

one day, it will be

his own strings

to keep him hostage

as he tries to make me

jealous, and loses

my trust – he wants

a fight between girls

just over him, how sweet

two can play that game

and i message my ex too

i’m sorry for my words

they weren’t mine but

the puppet master’s

you are no puppet

so cut those strings

not a puppet, my princess

the puppet master

thinks he wins

as he finally believes

this princess won’t leave

Me (me) - Noun

 

Alexandrea Scarchilli

Me (me) - noun 

Possibly an imaginary creature; see folklore, fairy tale, faerie, pixie, demon 

Also related; Eve / Adam and Eve / Aphrodite / Medusa 

Scarlett hair, 

Locks lips with goddesses 

Medusa misunderstood 

Snakes tell secrets 

Whisper in her ear 

Smoke rings rise 

Soiree of the times 

And the Sultans of swing 

Dance away the starry night 

Commonly seen with bells on her shoes, 

Silver rings blink, 

Known to walk in the daylight, 

Seen howling at the moon

Frontal Lobe

Alexis Cummings

I envision I was amongst all thee.

My apostles and their fellow friends.

I preach in the highest of honors,

Or hope they listen and spread ideas.

Or here,

Take my hand little one,

Oh, little child of mine,

I would guide you to all you will know.

If you conquer hardships in my name,

You will know my love,

Feel my satisfaction, and burn-in gratitude.

Be my angels and I will make this

Heaven, be free and strong,

Away from horrors and temptations.

So,

Come walk beside me, 

Take my hand,

We will be alright.

 

My Sister's Body

 

Avonlea Stiles

**Content Warning: Infant Loss**

My sister’s body is so tiny

She could fit in one hand

And that tiny body had three surgeries

She didn’t live a full day on this earth 

And she was too tiny to embalm

So my sister’s body 

Bloated

Decayed

And turned to bones

My mother didn’t deserve that

She almost decayed too 

But she got up again

And made my other sister’s body

And that body is still surviving twelve years later

And my sister’s body is tall 

And covered in warm skin

Full of breath

Alive

And reminding me every day of how lucky I am to be here

Couldn't Break Me

Casey Garner

You lit me like a bottle rocket.

Shot me overhead like a prayer to the sun—

a sacrifice to hazy lilac skies.

And today I am an asteroid

left floating amongst space junk;

bleeding stars from my eyes

as I light a bonfire in the cosmos

with the tinder of all the promises you ever made.

These empty seconds tick in my chest—

one,

two,

three.

Again and again.

Eventually, I find myself between the trees.

Back on solid ground but far from steady,

and I wonder what you would say

if you could see me now.

I wonder if you would be scared

knowing you couldn’t break me,

and neither could the atmosphere

on my way back down.

Sound Up

Alexandrea Scarchilli

Feedback surrounds a lit stage

Reverberations from the bass

Move through the soles of my feet 

Liquid roots 

 

Electric air surrounds 

Riffs from a guitar—

Travel on highways within my veins 

High hat cuts the air 

Kisses my brain

A flame within blossoms 

Rides upon the sound 

My lips part, 

Feeling the words 

The melody 

I breathe, 

Release 

The lyrics swirl inside, 

Around me 

Reaching forward, 

Finding ears—

I sing

I Don't Know What

to Call This, But

Neither Does The Grass

Alicen Barker

how strange it is

to sit beside

trees with needles

sharp, cones flared

and leaves soft

to think

 

“Someone pays the taxes here

and that gives them some 

wholly human claim to you.”

 

you can feel blood 

burst and slide 

down a fingertip

and know 

 

“This quiet moment

speaks volumes above

the din and drama 

of daily lives 

surrounded by shining screens.”

 

you let drops of 

rain splatter your

skull and flatten your

hair and 

you wonder

 

“Why must we pay for water,

or keep it from the poor,

why do we pollute this 

resource once simple and clean?”

 

you pick up

a flower, feel it

and smell it 

and you might

realize

 

“This exists as much as I do

and yet I may pay it less mind

than the plastic clones on the desk.”

Optophobia:

Fear of Opening

One's Eyes

Alexis Cummings

The fear of falling in love,

locking eyes,

loving everything you see

flaws nor none at all,

 

To ponder in the life of a movie

is the way we all live.

To love one just by looking at the bud

rather than the stem, leaves, petals all as one.

You never want to give your everything

again.

 

Loving with no sight is a choice

only he who is worthy may see

even then

will I ever love anyone with my eyes only

 

No one deserved to know my eyes

in the way you saw them

the sculpture you created

then threw it all away

Could it be worse

 
 
 
 

The Women

 

Alexandrea Scarchilli

We are the women. 

We are the women who take the high road,

The women who never rest.

The women with fire in their bellies, 

Hope in their chests. 

The women who climb to the top, 

With a hand out to the people below— 

A firm grip on the inspiration we sew. 

The women who are tender, kind, 

The women who are hardened with time.

We are the women who hold up the world, 

The ones to tuck it in at night. 

 

We are the women who kiss the stars, 

The women who dream in the clouds, 

The women who will travel far. 

The women who reach, 

The women who stand. 

We are the women.

Damseling Dragon

Alexis Cummings

Before I was this “hideous” drink of water,

I yearned for love in the highest places.

For now, it led me here,

loveless, prowling for my prey to lift this curse.

Broken and parted from all,

I don’t know what “it” feels like.

Do I want to feel this,

will I be loved as I am?

OR, remain my alter-ego

in this terrestrial mindset.

Am I viewed as what I am

or what I show myself as?

For now, I’m loveless and alive

in a life that isn’t even mine.

 

The Morning Of

 

Kelsie Burnard

Waking up at 8am reminds me of a North Carolina breeze

Of blue eyeshadow and ball gowns

Of the quieter parts of New York

And relatives whose blood you don't want to share

 

It reminds me of the serotonin you experience

After riding a rollercoaster for the first time and managing to keep your lunch down

As your friend gives you a slight slap on the back and a reassuring laugh

“Now see! Wasn’t that fun?”

 

No

Well, not entirely yes or no . . .

It’s a grey area with a gold flaked rim

It depends on how the sun hits it

 

And today it’s hitting my newly bleached blonde hair 

Something I wish I didn’t give up a few months back

It reminds me of a simpler time when I didn’t have a car mask

 

Or a purse mask

Or a glove box safety mask

Or a “Well, what if this one breaks?” mask

 

It reminds me of when I would get eczema on my hands 

If I accidentally touched real leather in a retail store

And how now it’s caused by the lack of anti-aloe sanitizer

Overly excessive hand washing

And sweaty latex-free gloves two sizes too big

 

But it’s a grey area 

Lined with gold flakes

And if I tilt my head at just the right angle . . .

And squint my eyes just enough!

 

I can make out the lining of last year.

Black Log // White Ash

 

Kirby Vaillant-White

White ash curls, cracks like dried earth

soft as the folded skin

draped across her sunken cheek.

 

The white ash peels back, arches, lets go

and slowly falls, breath sliding through lips

silently mouthing words alone.

 

The black log - veined with Monarch canyons,

rippling with the energy of

a dirty kitchen timer 

spun and ticking-

Splits, a knuckle cracking, and its corner sheers away,

caught for a moment,

suspended in smoke,

it slips into a bed of white ash with a spiraling hush,

Dove moths swirling up from evening sweet grass,

as it brushes against her calves; she walks.

 

And the black log burns

and the canyons carve

its hardened body into gleaming tiles

who pulse and pop and spit with bliss,

sparks upon the soot-stained glass.

 

And the white ash creeps like moss inverted, across the black log

who sprouted and grew and broke and fell 

and left its fellows

and dried and cured and sat and sailed into the glow of bedded embers

where it burned and kept her warm

as she grew cold.

Where it danced and laughed and wept and held you 

 

until we came

into that morning 

to fill the pail

with cool white ash.

Sweet, Sweet Summertime

 

Alexandrea Scarchilli

Citronella dances across the humidity 

To meet the mint that grows in steel bins 

Weathered from being stored away 

Lavender wafts in the breeze 

Teasing the rosemary to mingle with the trees 

Thyme keeps the beat for the lightning bugs 

While the basil always waits for more to drink. 

Roses sway in the moonlight, 

Watching the tomato and broccoli 

Making sure it grows right 

Morning glories reach towards the sky 

As the begonias take a soft sigh. 

Foxglove climbs, wanders and waves 

Solar lights twinkle finding a gaze 

Bleeding hearts keep their blossoms inside for another season

Why come inside? 

Find me a reason

Writer's Block

Hannah Czeladyn

Black as the etched vinyl turns

round and round, his soul reaches

for the soundwaves. 

Calluses on his fingertips

await the familiar steel of his 

six-string. Tired as the ten 

year old blanket on 

the back of his couch, he 

can’t lift the deadweight 

that usually flies across 

each lined sheet in his 

notebook. No ink graces

the blank pages 

in front of him.

 

Break-up Lines

 

Caterina Hansen

Fraenum

 

Alexis Cummings

Your eyes are like the ocean—

Cold, ice-filled.

I drown in them, struggling in the 

Boisterous waves.

 

You’re like a cup of coffee- 

Fucking bitter. Hard to like, 

Until you curate your personality

To please those around you. 

  

You’re the peanut butter to my jelly, 

But I am severely allergic and

Plenty sweet 

Without you.

Beginning of the day

much like the end. 

Another sunrise to set

in the west.

And here, I’ll be.

Hold me with the 

arithmetic pulsation

and crash into me

like the cymbals he used to play.

He then left me be

as I remain by the oak.

Back to the sunset,

lie by my side and 

hold me.

And repeat;

Sunrise,

Sunset,

stay..                    then leave.

27 Brown Road

 

Alexandrea Scarchilli

Moscow Mule 

Golden sunsets in a 

                           Copper mug 

 

Memories of green fields 

Two yellow lines beneath us 

 

Clouds kiss a blue sky 

Laying in the middle of 

A back road 

Both as bittersweet as 

Ginger, 

               And lime

Russ

Kirby Vaillant-White

Russ was the name 

I told my father to give me

in that dream, before my birth;

as I stood at the end of a distant vacuum

letting light frame me

in his void.

Russ was the boy he couldn’t leave.

So beautiful, he could not put down

or look away from long enough

to see the Barracuda keys.

Heavy, Sticky: in the dish 

on the table

by the door.

So exquisite 

he wouldn’t forget the smell

of the top of my head, the way

my poplar crown felt against his lips,

the second he pulled in

to whatever bar was down the way

from where he was

when he wasn’t here.

Russ was the boy

who was never broken

by the hands of a man I can’t remember

because your arms were still around me

because you couldn’t leave me

buckled

in my car seat,

didn’t forget where you parked,

didn’t leave in a different car,

our dented red two-door Tacoma revealed by 4am,

the only one left in the dirt lot outside

“Momma’s”

the only joint just out of town.

The Last Time 

Susan Stopped

by for Dinner

(Three Pounds)

Cassidy Blomberg

**Content Warning: Disordered Eating**

The summer of sixteen,

I was at her house more than mine.

Once, I slept over for three nights straight.

 

The blue-gray suitcases

holding her sleepless nights—

it took too long to figure out why.

 

The summers stretched before us

like the lies we told our parents;

these lungs are still aching for breath.

 

Shotgun didn’t have to be called,

nor did those backseat boys

we used to visit on the Eastside.

 

Breaking curfew, as teenaged girls do,

we knew Xanax and Merlot

always stood lookout for Susan.

 

She has long since left that house,

long since washed her hair of the days

she thought lemonade was a meal.

But the last time Susan stopped by for dinner, 

she said, “Your weight wasn’t an issue

when I decided what you ate.”

 

Once, I slept over for three nights straight.

I didn’t mention it

when I left three pounds lighter.

Soulmate of the Sea

Hannah Czeladyn

A ringing conch calls her away. 

Eyes filled with every wonder

the temperamental seas

had to offer. The mystery in her soul

as deep as the marching waters against

the sand, like soldiers following the Moon’s command.

 
 
 

Darkside

 

Known-New

Alexandrea Scarchilli

 

Alexis Cummings

No one would tell you

if you found your way, nor if you lost it. 

So how would you know?

Which way is right, 

Which way is wrong…

You are supposed to know

To just have it set in stone,

To just completely utterly be aware of. 

Be acquainted with the known,

Like you know it’s where you 

Need to be. 

But how would you ever just

Know you know when it’s the one.

Supposedly, but this is uncharted. 

How does one know 

When one meets wit's end?

Guess

You just know.

I am not fearful of weathering the storm, 

For the lightning and I are friends. 

The thunder asks me if I care to dance, 

While the rain compliments my elegance. 

The puddles part ways beneath my feet, 

While the wind and I hold hands. 

I twirl with tornados, 

Make amends with hurricanes— 

The colors that the sky paints across the clouds, 

Are the shades and shadows my mind knows so well.

Euphoric Filth // West 107th 

 

Kirby Vaillant-White

It’s always the same, no longer one gap than another between my coveted visits:

 

A piercing, hair-lashing howl,

              a cacophonous tapestry of identity-less dins,

                                         patchworked into a filthy quilt I clutch to myself,

                                                                    in bliss,

                                                                                  wrapped with rapture.  

A Pummeling, Punishing, Pulverizing production performed by 

                                         one hundred thousand rotating-door-Romeos,

                                                                   rolodexed through archetypal roles like:

                           Ambulance Siren,

                                                       Screaming Brake Pads,

                                                                                   and Blaring Airhorn.

It surges deep into the bellies of buildings, 

              Blasting open doors and slipping,

                                                       -from impossible distances-

                                                                           through windows cracked even the slightest sliver.

This sumptuous gnashing, wailing trail of

                                          break-neck decibels,

                           cascades across my grinning face

                                          with the grace and majesty of a meat-packing-district-dumpster-fire,

                                                       eyes closed,

                                                                   utterly engulfed in euphoric filth,

             punctuated by the profanity hurled by yellow cabs,

                                                                                 as they careen inches from my grubby fingers,

                                          outstretched.


 

I would sit on the seventh-floor apartment’s windowsill seat, my feet resting on their radiator, just listening to It sing, no note repeated but its melody the same; this beautiful riotous racket ringing and ricocheting through the padded walls of my mother’s womb and father’s papoose. 

                                   Before they moved away,

                                                                                   And stole me from my City’s scream.

Modern Lovers

The feeling of slipping under the covers, between a fitted sheet and one on top

Alexander Dickey

 
 

In her studio apartment, she sits

Staring out the window 

While lovers young and old

Dine out at cafes.

She’s wondering,

Where do his intents stow

Or does he have any at all?

He never really looks at me

And I give him so many chances.

I'll never make that mistake again.

 

In his uptown flat, he sits

On his small open balcony.

An airliner passes quietly above

In the dead of night.

He’s dreading;

Caution never pays off

And everything she wants costs something.

She doesn’t even like me anyway

And I know because she says as much.

I’ll likely make that mistake again.

Alexandrea Scarchilli

If this were a dessert, you'd be the smooth cream filling.

Warm, freshly baked just pulled from an oven, 

placed onto the rack - your bed - 

to settle, to rest, to cool, 

to reach a most pleasurable low. 

Caramel; rich, swirling, melts as your muscles do, 

a portal beyond the waking world opens up. 

Your liquid soul disappears deep down in, content seeps into your bones. You are cream pirouetting in coffee. You are lemonade poured from a pitcher, electric yellow cascading into an old green cup your father stole from the 99, years ago. You are a rain drizzle flying backwards on a windshield going 65 in a 50, leaving the day behind just as the dreamworld does. 

Softens outer edges, 

fades a bright light to an amber glow, 

you melt like a summertime ice cream cone, 

dissolve like sugar in hot tea. 

This version of you gone like the day you left 

as you float up, out, 

away into your sleep; 

your dreamland.

When the Plane

Falls Down

 

Broken to Blooming

Austyn Morehouse

Casey Garner

 

I was consumed by the belief

that you were my twin flame—convinced

that my faith in you was rooted

in the divine and spirit.

Your stardust weaved into pegasus wings

and I was too struck to see you had trapped

me in perfect misery—bewitched

by your leather and lust, candle wax

still burning hot as this twisted love turned

conspiracy theory 

right before my hollowing eyes.

 

What a thing it is—this pack mentality

that has us truly believing our needs lie

only within another.

And now I stand here, breathless

from these silent screams you know I'm heaving. 

And now I stand here, breathless and alone,

begging my siren call catches a dreamer.

Longing to be rid of mind games and fall 

into an abyss, even if with a stranger.

Barefoot on a tightrope, inches from catastrophe.

These dangerous curves lend hand 

to what must be a family curse 

because why else would life heed no mercy?

 

Painted lady—a skeletal system littered 

with wildflowers blooming from the ashes

of his aftermath. 

You are here, reborn anew, knowing

what you know, having seen

what you have seen.

And even though it still hurts, you are here.

Smiling, living, going on and on and on—

never again to be the same 

but all the better for it.

Clouds pull away,

cotton candy underwater.

We leave icicles for new ones,

settling into ice rinks

on the arms, but not the body.

My arms feel under and over,

both exposed.

Pink and orange

grow from the horizon line;

coral reefs of the sky.

Does the submarine know

what it means to drown dry?

 

I tap along ladder tracks,

silver and surgical.

I tried to sift the rage

from the dust of bones;

surgery unsuccessful.

You can't hurt me

if I’m cut open

and consenting.

Dreams of colliding mourning

cursed by morning, 

damaged meaning

fever talks across the page.

 

I live in infrequent sequence,

push one button before the next,

worn down, bad connection,

cursed controls 

instead of haunted pilot,

please apply your oxygen mask 

before assisting others,

bursting warning signs,

always turbulent and unprepared,

the part just before you hit the ground,

lights flashing seat belts please:

Honey, I love you, but not me.

 

I live in fault lines 

exploited by catastrophic failure.

He holds my hands

with catastrophic care,

soft sighs and fragile air,

eyes wider than each wingspan

suspending us above icy oceans 

resting quite the fall below.

I turn tapping to morse code,

misunderstood SOS.

Do you know what it’s like to drown dry?

Seat belts, please.

Foolhardy Youth

Kelsey Myler

It was a beautiful day

for a festive romp

in that mecca of

pampered privilege

which allowed admittance

to each humble maiden

on one annual eve

of festive solidarity.

 

My burly palms

could never slide

into dainty gloves

of ivory lace.

My stiff ebony taffeta

lent me the disguise

of a mourning widow.

 

My companion,

friend in youth

with fiery auburn ringlets

that would curl and crest

like the waves

gracing a sand-dotted beach.

Face pale and silvery

as the pearls around

Her stately neck.

She of many admirers.

I of many novels.

 

Mama told me

I was sprouting

like the stem

of maroon rosettes.

Forgive my lack

of grace and decorum.

Forgive any chips in

the porcelain doll

I tried to embody.

 

My face once reddened

like a natural rouge

when I imagined

wearing long ball gowns

and being called Miss

high and mighty lady

someday.

 

The stuffy socialites used to

implore my merciless temper,

unrelenting Apollyon

to soften.

But you liked it

when I let fly.

 

While the bow of

a fiddle caressed

the strings, and

princesses pirouetted

in oceans of flouncing fabric,

we danced in tune,

a silhouette under the sheen

of a streetlight.

We had stolen away

from that arduous affair

to sway in solitude.

 

You loved everything about the woods,

I remember the day

we raced and darted

kicking the dust

which rested on

that smooth road

that sloped so

invitingly.

 

The temptation

was irresistible.

You picked up

the hat and hairpins

which flew

from my hair,

tied in the

braids you so fancied.

 

In those days

of foolhardy youth

when I believed

you were a seer,

we dreamt of

the world beyond

the imposing walls

of that lofty attic.

That hollow

where, pen

to parchment, I

wrote in the

stead of living.

 

I am she

who was crying

on the steps

of that pristine chapel

when you, boyish visionary,

wed my friend of youth,

she of auburn locks

and impeccable manners.

 

I was terrified of

losing you.

I tried to confess

a love I always denied.

When did our hopes

stop aligning, as

they had in the yore

of youth?

 

Perhaps the boy

loved that half-savage

revolutionary of his youth,

but the man

loved a woman

prim as a

china aster.

 

You’ve seen that

world we pictured.

Did the saltwater

of the sea sting

when you frolicked,

chuckling like a child?

Were the iron statues

of that French Eiffel

towering like we always

heard say?

 

I’m sat on a bench

in the park, remembering

all that was.

Time has made

of me a

creaky relic.

 

My hair is now

turned up,

my two tails

fell victim to

forced abandon.

I still have those

long limbs which

get so in my way.

 

My piercing eyes

still sparkle

with a funny and

thoughtful gleam

when my mind

wanders to you.

You have I loved,

and may I love again.

 

The old man is

sat in the park.

The death of his beloved

and the grief found

at the prospect

brings his mind

to where recollection

cannot not find her,

the earliest days.

 

Youth makes him

recall that first companion,

that maven determined

to stay in girlhood.

He can see her braids

as they lifted

in those halls

of evergreen.

How he had

loved the woods.

 

He could feel

the heat her

anger stirred

in a temper of brimstone.

She, he had loved

in foolhardy youth.

Repression // Recall

Kirby Vaillant-White

**Content Warning: Sexual Abuse**

When I was a boy

I would escape from them

into my mind,

would talk and act and laugh

and hold myself,

would clean my wounds

with salvaged salt water,

would dream of hands

who held me up, away

from white knuckle clutches.

 

I would sink into 

this place I found,

this state I could return to by

feeling myself feeling, by

imagining one other,

one breathing, feeling, thinking

someone and

when I could feel their Own

I would step out

into the roaring flood of bodies

I knew there to be

just outside of myself.

 

And I would escape 

from my Own 

for a second or two,

long enough to feel the greater truth

of our construction,

of our connection,

suspended in the torrent,

nameless.

 

I would test the confines of

that space,

would try to think myself back

to Oblivion. 

 

But sometimes I’d find

a place that

I would only remember forgetting:

a place where

I wasn’t allowed to go,

a scorched plateau whose hollow visage

echoed with a flavor

that rolled my tongue

towards my throat.

A voice that

wasn’t quite my own

would keep me back,

would keep me safe,

and curl my outstretched fingers back 

into a fist

that never managed to

strike the right body.

 

NO 

 

would roll like thunder, plucking

his memory from my 

freshly bloodied palms,

erasing himself from 

hands who for just a moment 

touched the lid

of a box I couldn’t open.
 

I woke to a morning

whose hands were turned back,

whose sun was separate from

its dawn.

Besides me sat

a box: familiar, open,

its locks peppering the floor,

strewn amongst the coated clothes and

plastic wrappers.

Its lid, thrown back, revealing 

empty space.

“Did you used to think about penetration?”

I close the lid, open it again, feel like

something’s missing, someone’s silent. 

“It’s all I thought about…”

 

I close my eyes,

the surface parts,

splits and swallows me into

a pressure that sprays my breath 

like blood from a young tongue.

 

I never left scars they could see,

didn’t do it for attention:

did it to keep

the lid on tight.

It’s not until I’ve clawed my way

out of bed

down the stairs

to my car

into the fields

that I begin to panic as

I realize:

I cannot get the locks to click,

the chains have dissolved into

links and

the box won’t close.

The box won’t close.

I start to hyperventilate 

surrounded by rows of arugula and romaine.

“It’s ok baby, it’s ok”

I say it over and over again, alone

as the farm disappears behind streaked glass as

the soil beneath me begins to flicker.

 

“It’s ok Baby, you’re ok,”

I beg between torn gasps,

muddy hands shaking, 

frantically,

desperately trying to

force delicate heads into their labeled bins.

Three layers, four to a column, three to a row…   

“It’s ok, It’s ok, 

It’s ok, 

It’s ok, it’s ok…” 

 

They find me there

amongst the Red Leaf and Green Boston

my burnt eyes unfocused

shivering to the arch

cracked and sure that I was

that I had to and

he could, did, 

but then what was

a time to  

and

time to

and 

 

They find me there,

miles away,

trying to guide a key

into a 

sprung lock 

that

refuses to take me 

back

to the other side 

of knowing. 

Testimony of a Tired

College Student

Hannah Czeladyn

A hard pill to swallow is

burnout in college, 

‘cause the next assignment

doesn’t wait for 

everything else to be 

finished. If I had to 

guess, there are others

here in this sinking boat with me.

Intense stress can make

jeopardizing a grade seem like a good thing,

knowing our brains need a long vacation.

Looking at the finish line in the distance

makes it all seem bearable,

not thinking too hard about it

of course, or we’ll just see the 

plain and simple truth.

Quitting is the easy way out,

rest when we’re dead, 

stick with it until the end, putting

trust in the people telling 

us all of this crap. The

very plain and simple truth

would surprise those people. The

X marking where the treasure is on

your placemat at Denny’s has a 

zero percent chance of getting you your college degree.

 
 
 

Engaged Delay

 

Kelsie Burnard

Engaged Delay

 

I bought myself the dupe of my dream wedding ring for my twenty-third birthday,

or what will most likely never be rather . . .

I can’t see me wearing white down any amount of floor tiles.

I can't envision any of the hundreds of pins on my wedding board.

 

For When Some Idiot Marries Me

 

I can’t envision anyone getting down on one knee for me . . .

 

So, I’ve decided to be that idiot.

 

And I’d like to think that’s what the universe wanted 

when the listing showed up on my Poshmark: 

same cut, 

different “diamond.”

 

This, certainly, is what healthy people do!

I laughed at my insanity for several minutes before gripping the truth.

Devoting myself to myself should be my first priority.

I lost that while navigating my first healthy relationship this year.

 

I decided I wouldn’t inform my boyfriend of this insane purchase 

 

because the toxic, vile words from three years ago still seep through my veins into my head

and I find myself judging the shape in the mirror before me more intensely. 

He adores all of me in full, unlike the past others, with truth and I--

. . . for once, I am the problem.

 

Weirdly enough, I love that . . .

 

I’ll propose to myself on my twenty-third birthday

because the day I was created seems fitting for devotion.

This has been quite an engaged delay . . .

 

I hope I say yes to loving myself again.