Prism People

Emma O’Neill-Dietel

Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA

When did this ocean become a fishbowl?

I didn’t notice the glass around me until it started pressing in 

The bad thing about glass is that it’s breakable

I tried standing in the center, pulling in my limbs

I didn’t notice the glass around me until it started pressing in 

I pushed against it, hoping it would give way

I tried standing in the center, pulling in my limbs

The good thing about glass is that it’s breakable

I pushed against it, hoping it would give way

The pressure proved too strong, so I punched from within

The good thing about glass is that it’s breakable

As the fishbowl shattered I reached out both hands

The pressure proved too strong, so I punched from within

I found myself ankle-deep in the ocean, broken shards floating around me

As the fishbowl shattered I reached out both hands

The unbroken line of the horizon revealed I was alone

I found myself ankle-deep in the ocean, broken shards floating around me

All there was to hold onto was my own form

The unbroken line of the horizon revealed I was alone

I followed the water trickling down the lines of my body into the shallows

All there was to hold onto was my own form

The water that had covered me was slowly making me anew

I followed the water trickling down the lines of my body into the shallows

What I had assumed was broken glass wasn’t sharp at all

The water that had covered me was slowly making me anew

The shallows thrummed with life, tiny creatures growing and shifting

What I had assumed was broken glass wasn’t sharp at all

The creatures glowed in the sunlight, colors changing like prisms

The shallows thrummed with life, tiny creatures growing and shifting

Each time the movement seemed to still, a ripple sent the world into motion again

The creatures glowed in the sunlight, colors changing like prisms

I looked at my feet and witnessed my own transformation

 

Each time the movement seemed to still, a ripple sent the world into motion again

The creatures expanded around me, refracting light in every direction 

I looked at my feet and witnessed my own transformation

When I looked up from myself, I saw I was no longer alone

The creatures expanded around me, refracting light in every direction 

The shallows were full of prism-people, weaving color from light and water

When I looked up from myself, I saw I was no longer alone

I was a prism-person too

The shallows were full of prism-people, weaving color from light and water

The good thing about glass is that it’s breakable

I am a prism-person too

March

Sophie Jones

Northampton, Massachusetts, USA

March, it is a final kiss,

a one-embrace goodbye, 

April finds dry dessert,

sun much too hot to cry. 

May it comes so quickly, 

it’s end a lonely sigh, 

June welcomes me 

with greenery 

against the smiling sky. 

July ale sloshes from a cup, 

I recognize the trace,

August sweat and cigarettes

from that circle-tabled place. 

September is the little dog

With ears of velvet lace,

October falls

As creatures crawl 

leaves die anew with grace. 

November cries for summer doves,

I fear they’ve long since flown,

December hungers for a flame, 

Sets it deep within my bones. 

January strums and sings

with a love I’ve never known,

February weeps

as sunlight creeps

and melts away the snow.

And once again the month of March 

Assumes its wild procession, 

for this past year 

I’ll shed a tear

when the world begins to freshen. 

You left at dawn so they mistook you for time

Emily Judkins

Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA

kneel into the knell shaped out of salable 

solipsism, the mimicry bells emerging with ersatz 

emergency melted into tolls in tombs and tolls, 

tolling up the toiling sounds of telling peace 

but piercing ears, all cracked crooked cosmetology of cosmogony of

spreading all the sound that fit into the

dark sun of preeminence, of how little permanence

can permeate in this permissiveness of light, how 

permissible missed notes can be when Your body 

is the universe and You swing between untenable winds

touched by never being and holding all this Tenderness as

You let it all ring out, ringing around the roses as 

wilting waits for the embodiment of all of You to shutter out of

opuses and into the final forgiveness, the dipping moonlight,

Your graceless hand grinning as You paint over the shadows

with the Earth’s own speckled star, where all that is left to teach

is “this is how you return your legs to bend without warship.

and this is how you

return to the stars. and this is how you return home,” before pealing back into laughter back into the

universe, where 

death cannot be disgraced in church bells any longer, but instead

kneels in the tintinnabulation of Your tinny fairies, these tiny

Thanatoses carrying you off into the wind, as all the people emerge

running out dreams to rub out of their eyes as they’re gulping in

Your air without care, miming out their time, and this is how i

make my faith, how i piece my daybreak back together, how i

know You are already everywhere, not making a scene but

becoming it.

remedy; ode to orange

Skye Raye

Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, VA

remedy

tonight’s sunset mentions us 

both. i can’t believe it, you’re here, warm

hues, golden as ever. what had plagued me, now—

how i soar: orange

burned & charred—remains my salvation 

ode to orange

the first time i saw you, for the second time, i noticed: something new

though beauty still sublime, orange hair—

another thing i didn’t understand. was it

an accident or act of despair? i couldn’t ask—communication banned.

what had been my least favorite & least encountered

color, i was forced to savor it, while others seem duller.

the fruit, the smell: these i expected. but candy corn, 

construction cones—unforeseen instances: 

my own personal hell, just as He forewarned.

HOPE

Meeta Virmani
Lady Irwin College, Delhi, India

Hope is a small word of four letters,
But just by its thought, it could make you feel better..

Hope has an age of infinite years,
As long as it remains with one, it guards them from all fears..

Hope comes to all, but all don’t believe in it,
To the ones who believe, Hope helps them in every bit..

Life here is full of uncertainty,
Money, health, fame can ditch anytime, anybody..

When we cling on what’s not permanent,
We make way for the future to repent..

Hope, however, comes to our rescue,
It brings a rainbow to cover the blues..

When everything is lost, Hope still remains,
It gives the vision to see gain in pain..

When everyone turns away, Hope still awaits us,
When fate becomes ruthless, Hope still has a blush..

Hope stays and Hope says,
All will be good, all we need is to pray..

Pray for oneself, Pray for others,
Pray for our enemies, who are still our brothers..

Hope promises to come to pure hearts,
Hope promises to take on it, all our darts..

So, Let us Hope for Hope to remain with us,
Let us bring out our goodness in surplus..

Hope, that is a small word of four letters,
May bless our thoughts today and forever..

Awakening

Sha’kym Holland

Brenau University, Gainesville, GA

A huntress stalks the lands

eyes trained on the ground

cautiously searching for

others – 

the haunted past of one’s ancestors,

stringing along trauma in their blood

lines waiting for the one who will

Break the Curse to

Elevate the Race –

teaching them how to navigate 

the terrains of politics and luxuries

in order to keep oneself secure –

Until the Blood is Freed of Trauma

and the child finally opens their eyes

to greet others with grace

instead of caution. 

Self-Portrait as Chronic Illness; Piecing Her Body

Elina Katrin

Hollins University, Roanoke, VA, USA

Self-Portrait as Chronic Illness

Piecing Her Body

Today she is taking her body back. 

A lioness, she walks from apartment to house, collecting pieces of her, some hidden, 

   some forgotten in the couch crevices, on the nightstand, behind the back door.

Each time someone claimed her hips too big, face too hairy, breasts too small

   she is taking it back with the power of a thousand ants, the dedication of a magnet.

She doesn’t have to look far: bits of her worth are scattered all over her family home,

   stuffed in blanket covers, spit out fresh at the dinner table. 

She picks up parts of her body—undermined, underappreciated and all things under—

   dusts them off from foreign opinions and returns where they belong.

Within, she starts a fire from shame & hiding, sharp-voiced and determined, scissoring 

   stereotypes, dodging hypocrisy like it is finally that bitch o’clock and she is not rescheduling. 

In the mirror, she splits atoms all over her being, colonies of acceptance 

   and loving energy sliding down her stomach and thighs. 

Today she is taking her body back. And tomorrow. And the day after.

Pomegranate Seeds/Litany for a Body

Kenzie Hampton

Hollins University, Hollins, USA

I.

the juice of the pomegranate 

stains my fingertips

like the blood of my 

mother’s womb stained

the sterile white 

hospital grade bed sheets

on a crisp november afternoon

almost twenty years ago

II. 

only six seeds and

demeter weeps for her daughter

III.

body full of vacancies of collapsed heart of broken lungs 

body full of girlhood altered and misunderstood 

body full of sweet sticky fruit juice metaphor gentle pink tongue 

on stained fingertip licking off the metaphor

body full of baby blue sidewalk chalk powdered

body full of goodbye mother

body full of chewed up swallowed soggy red rose petals 

blackening at the edges

IV.

there is sin somewhere 

inside this pomegranate

and i want to reclaim it

persephone warns me

i hear her voice in echo

do not eat from the palm

of the underworld

if you’re not prepared to stay

V.

hades is watching

i am careful not to drop

a single seed

VI.

body full of moldy pomegranate and crystallized honey

(persephone scolds me)

body full of bones splintered in an ugly stomach protruding 

body full of glass shards with edges like clouds breathe in 

breathe out inhale heaven

body full of hades and bad ideas and exactly six pomegranate seeds

body full of oak tree limbs growing into a ribcage of flowers 

forgotten to flee to the underworld

sometimes nothing but a body full of potential

VII.

persephone, hear this —

my mother, too, helped create the seasons

tell demeter we’re all coming home

Doormat

Akanksha Bisht
Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi

This poem is based on my college experience when I joined the council. It’s a story of the emotional ride that reduced my identity to zilch and how I am fighting the demons within in this lockdown.

Long Long ago there was a doormat,

It was dainty and modest,

Just like the society expects it to be, 

Serving the master sans song of praises

Having self-effacing rendezvous with the guests

Saying “Welcome” to those who stepped on her soul,

Crushing her to the miniscule took its toll,

The filaments bounced back in their adolescence,

But that anguish was not evanescent,

The doormat was I,

It was a three-year long dalliance,

With self-hate, pity and petty grievance

In solitude with the voguish folks

Dwindling to a butt of jokes,

Yearning for validation,

Losing ephemeral pleasures in this trepidation,

Still healing the stinging reflections,

Scrambling to rise from the dungeons,

Staggering steps excite the one who despise,

Nonetheless, nothing can stop me to Rise!

Banana Bread

Lola Anaya
Smith College, Northampton, USA

mix the wet and dry ingredients separately
flour, baking soda, a pinch of salt
eggs, brown sugar, butter
bananas
let’s go bananas
mash the bananas
mash away uncertainty, find clarity
blend together the pieces of you
ingredients to make a reflection
rebel rebel goes bananas
boy or girl? no matter, just batter
fold it all together
in a big bowl
maybe add some cinnamon to taste
or walnuts for crunch
add a smile and do not pick your acne
do not
don’t
okay maybe just once
you say that every time
anyway back to your regularly scheduled baking
put it in the oven, tucked away in the heat
just wait
it will rise

Musings on Two Women’s Bodies

Mariana Middents
Cottey College, Missouri, USA


“Musings on Two Women’s Bodies” compares the bodies of a young love interest and a donated cadaver dissected in a lab. The poem highlights the similarities and differences in a dead body and a living one, and showcases the ways in which the physical form is beautiful both during and after life.

Yesterday I heard the unmistakable sound of hemostat tapping on bone – 

The spinous process of a cervical vertebra of a woman we have named Doris.

The professor’s smart rapping on the back of a dead woman’s vertebra

Telling us, yes, we had uncovered bone

Through motions of a scalpel that removed muscle in such a way that I was reminded

Of pulled pork sandwiches and the laughter of a younger time.

Yesterday you were beautiful – 

That moment you fluttered down to the bottom of the deep end and touched the textured floor,

Two graves deep.

And you were beautiful when your toes gripped the bottom and your knees bent and your thighs flexed

To propel you back to me.

You were beautiful when you broke the surface with one arm outstretched

And gasped in a lungful of air and panted as you pulled your goggles off your face.

Everything about you is beautiful,

Even the alien rings your goggles left behind,

And even your tangled mess of hair when you wrestle the swim cap off to let the pink dye breathe,

And even your crisscrossed lines of pale skin on tan feet because you wear sandals into December.

And you. 

You are beautiful, 

Even when you dive to the bottom and I watch you from under the chlorine surface,

But I can’t bring myself to join you there.

The human form was something I appreciated from afar –

Something I pondered in museums

And chased alone in my bed at night.

But the bodies of women were something I never had the freedom to explore

Until I spent three hours each Thursday in a tiny lab,

Crowded around a woman who wasn’t named Doris in life.

Skin of the shoulder is thick, but skin of the upper back is thin.

I haven’t felt it warm,

But the papery skin of ankles and feet slips from its attachments

To adipose and to vessels that criss-cross her foot

Like the straps of sandals she doesn’t wear anymore.

Her thighs have softened in old age, 

And I have seen the evidence of this,

Removed layers of fat from her and placed it in labeled bags

Like gifts to be kept safe in a padlocked freezer.

I have seen the nerves that wind from the cervical vertebrae into the brain,

And all I can think about is touching you there – 

On the back of your neck, 

Sending shivers that echo into your toes.

I have felt the skin wrinkle, tug, thicken,

And all I can imagine is discovering the skin on your body – 

Perhaps you would be laid out as she is,

While I touched you.

I have seen the inside of the second middle phalange after an electric bone saw’s slice,

And all I can picture is your hands – 

Reaching towards the surface of the water,

Reaching towards me as I mirror you,

But never touching.

Men

Sajada Parker
Agnes Scott College, Decatur, USA

men.

I want a man who sympathizes with the plight of women one who embraces the scars that are made to please him one who dedicates his time to learning

about the intricacies of a woman’s body

not solemnly for his pleasure

i want a man who touches inequity

in the cracks where the dust of victims lay

i want a man who curses the systematic racism that lingers around when i am in suburban stores

i want a man who loves regardless of sexual orientation regardless of the composition of my face in the morning one who is passionate about our world

and the ecosystem of the two of us

My Home-Your Home- Our Home

By: Meeta Virmani
Lady Irwin College, New Delhi, India

This place where I live, I call my home,
The home as I know, leaves no one alone.

The home is my house, my community, my nation
The home is your house, your community, your nation.

When the home remains same for both me and you,
On what grounds then, are we divided in blues?

Why can’t my home be yours? Why can’t your mother be mine?
Why do we stay away? Between us, who drew this line?

This line which demarcates and differentiates your home from mine,
This line that is so destructive, so capable to obliterate the sublime.

Should we now pause for a cause, a pause to recreate the creation.
Which shuns away hatred, breaks away walls of discrimination!

I ask again, I request, if to you it seems fine.
Can my home be yours. Can your mother be mine?!

My True Home

By: Gentille Kampire Constance

Davis College, Akilah Campus Rwanda

 

The immaterial part of a human being

Which keeps all of us living

Where we find ourselves loving

With Limits or limitless

That’s what I call home.

My heart,

Origin of my personality,

Where I reflect with no one

Find reason for whole

That is my true home.

Where memories never fade

And passion keeps pushing.

Where all dreams come true

With strong feelings and emotions.

Where I can’t lie to myself

Show how special I am

That is my true home.

 

Where I’m From

By: Andreea-Bianca Morecut

Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, United States

 

i am from sea and mountains and plains

and hills

i am from the weeping willow with its swinging tears from the warm, honeyed tea

and the ginger-mint lemonade

i am from beautiful landscapes

and cozy interiors

with fireplaces, porch swings

and soft classic rock notes sinking in the background

from the cautious sounds

of fingers flying across a keyboard

or the turn of the page, in which my whole universe lied

i am from the wind in the trees

and a full view of the milky way in the night sky

from day hikes and night camps

and picking mushrooms in the forests

i am from the fresh, cold smell of nature

and of the freshly baked bread

i am from the city, the hustle and bustle

of crowded trains and early school mornings

from cozy cafes

and silent libraries

i am from an ever busy city center

and a driven friend group

from weekly musings on philosophy, politics, and principles and heated debates about TV shows

from the silent nights in my room, alone

to outings with friends or game nights with my baby brother i am from rushed outings for bubble tea and sushi

and always sprinting home because of my curfew

from hurried writing sessions

and late-night reading ones

i am from the feeling of the book in my hand

and the wandering hands across the spines in my bookshelf the gentle, warm feeling of belonging 

 

I Miss the Stars

By: Andreea-Bianca Morecut

Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, United States

 

i miss the stars

the night sky, riddled with glittering jewels

the wishes of children

and prayers of elders

i miss looking up, just two hours out of town

and not being able to see one truly dark spot in the sky

i miss the carelessly drawn swipe of watercolour

dashing across the sky

and using some no-name app on my dad’s phone

to find the names of constellations

at the side of my lil brother

“uite acolo! nu, acolo! cum de nu vezi?”

were nights spent out camping

in the fields

with spring water and running skies

i miss being able to see the sky moving

together with the earth

in a menacing swirl of no pollution and cutting, cold night air

feeling small and, at the same time, meaningful

i would sacrifice hot showers for the trip

all over again

who needs running water when you have 5-litre water bottles?

vorbind de dusuri

imi e dor de dusurile de stele cazatoare

si simplul act de uitat in sus si vazut un univers… mai multe? n-as putea zice i miss making up new constellations

and ‘that’s a shopping cart, not a bear’

and wondering what the night sky looks like someplace else

imi este dor de cerul de acasa

and it’s the first thing i’ll get a glimpse at

once i’m back 

 

Unpaid

By Pranchal Gupta

Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi, India

 

A service that remains unpaid,

A full-time job over the years.

Amazing profession, but without promotion,

Neither appreciation nor recognition.

Double work on holidays without any extra pay.

The lunch box is ready, packed with love.

Her whole day is full of work,

From washing the clothes to cleaning the floor.

After the restless day,

Dinner is ready on the table with the same love.

She wakes up the earliest and falls asleep last,

Although the next day,

She needs to repeat the whole task.

She is your mother or your sweetheart,

Whom you call a housewife,

Doing nothing, staying at home,

She is the one who works the whole day,

To make it a home sweet home.

Pistachio

By: Eliza Siegel

Barnard College, New York City, United States

 

in my empty summer bedroom

 

dreaming in blue

 

I cradle my stomach,  a hollow cavern

from which I cannot see the sky

 

seeking pleasure, or something stronger

than pleasure, I switch the fan on,

 

am hit not

with air but

                dust

 

tonight the house is damp with a desire affixed

 

to nothing.

I converse with the silence,

 

scratch my skin as if

to wriggle out,

 

I long to escape the butter-lamplight that

casts my freckles as frenzied ants

 

and mottles the bruises

madly dancing

down my calf

 

coalescing in a peninsular shadow

before scattering again, undone

 

how can I cry out when my mouth is full of moths?

 

stifled, giving in to the ecstasy of gnats

cresting my head

 

I forget I am alone,

cradled by a swarm of ghosts

 

quiet is unhooking each vertebra from the next

before sinking into bed. 

 

The Missing Pages of a Textbook

By Nandini Rawat

Indraprastha College for Women

textbooks tell every child

the difference

between a house and a home

but they don’t tell

what to do

when a house isn’t a home

 

shut yourself out and seek out books

read and pine for lives

that will never be yours

thick tomes dense with words

too heavy for young wrists

the label “gifted” a flimsy gauze

for your bleeding mind

 

stand under a showerhead, dry

don’t let the water wash away the grime

it is your shield

against large hands and hot exhales

against unyielding thighs and bony knees

or so you think but all it gets you

are isolated corners

and repulsed faces

 

when a house isn’t a home

but a building

where the air is too heavy

to pull into your lungs

and the exit disappears

behind you

and the walls keep coming

closer.

 

Home

By Cristella

Uwiringiyimana Davis College Akilah Campus Rwanda

Short but not too short

Small but not too small

Colorful but not too much

Home is my stronghold

 

Beautiful palace is where I belong

The heavenly gift is what I was given

Succulent is what I live with

Home is my stronghold

 

Rights to live in harmony

Rights to education

Rights to pray

Home is my stronghold

 

Bright as the moon

Sun as the shadow

Stellar as the stars

Home is my stronghold

 

Live to grow

Sleep to rest

Wake to rise

Home is my stronghold

The apple of my eye

The rollercoaster of my emotions

Whenever I think of my home, my mind fades away

Home is my stronghold

 

As quiet as the air

As white as the snow

As strong as a castle

Home is my stronghold

 

Lovely like baby born

Laughter is like my soul music

Surrounded like the watery cycle

Home is my stronghold

 

The Mystery of Home

By Gisele Abizeye

Davis College Akilah Campus Rwanda

Some say home is just a place,

And to others it is a cherished space,

contemplating a little,

Both of them get belittled.

 

The instance you are not safe,

In the place you call home,

Would it be cherished?

Or the risk you didn’t want to take?

 

Realize trafficking exists,

Wickedly thrusting you to an exit,

Your home dwells in your heart,

An emotion that stays hurtful.

 

 Orphans have it the hardest,

Invading their otherwise peaceful minds,

Is the traumatic thought of the least?

Scarcity of all the aspects of home belonging.

 

Call not home a comfort zone,

Because you might end without one,

Some would live without a sense of safeness,

Since they have never had that zone.

 

Literally home is merely a perception,

For it’s dependent on your definition,

Some feel homeless with just the place,

Yet others have it all and still feel homeless.

 

Decidedly, safety is my perspective,

As I don’t need to feel forced admitting,

That I feel safe away from some relatives,

I could have otherwise viewed as my safetynet.

 

Sadly many homeless are  unaware,

They have believed the wrong definition,

That shallowly covers only the surface,

And heavily rejects the whole introduction,

 

Find your home and live in it,

It is  just a unit,

That is missing in your perception,

To fill out the whole definition.

Many Faces

By Odile Uwimphwe

Davis College Akilah Campus Rwanda

People come by it diversely.

When it comes to home, people would give different definitions.

A shelter, a peaceful and calm place in their minds, some would surprise you.

As for some after a long day of work

A bed for the night will do to make the whole description.

 

Confused is the five year old

Trying in vain to understand how and exactly why

The one place that brings joy, happiness, comfort, and familiar faces

The same in which;

He experiences anxiety, panic, and sometimes, if he is not lucky, beatings.

All in one place he calls home “Mama’s home” or “Daddy’s home”.

With one stride of action, with one leg carried in a wrong direction

Joy, happiness turns into terror and the smiling faces turns into dark ones.

Then confused is his mind when he thinks of home as one would be if a mirror gave

A different reflection of the face he was viewing.

As he would be if that mirror was two faced or should I say many faced.

 

Single minded is the worker who, leaving his workplace tired

Exhausted, spent and drained of energy with one destination in mind: home.

A place with a warm, comfortable bed. The warmer and wider the better.

Nonetheless after waking up thinking of the face in the other part of the house, either

His wife or child, he remembers his problems, his money problems and last night’s conflict;

Home is no longer so safe and comfortable.

People cannot be blamed of being logical, can they? It’s no wonder whomever has no place to sleep is called homeless.

As if in a room with mirrored walls, each side gives its own reflection and so does home. So will a person get different answers if he asks a hall full of people: “What is home to you.”

Astonished he would think: “many answers as if many faced!” That is how he will go home with a new realization.

 

Where I Am From

By Peris Mwangi

Smith College

I am from the brick and tin-roofed house 

From the thickly carpeted living room floor

I am from the cold, red concrete floor of my bedroom 

From the soapy water and scented cleaning detergent

I am from the ancient creaky oakwood bed

From the possession of a duvet I’ve adored for years

I am from the tiny framed portraits hanging from my wall

From the 14-year-old picture album of my family on my dresser

I am from the pictures of daddy’s well-combed afro 

From mummy’s loosely fitting bell-bottoms

I am from the childhood memories of weekends spent at public parks 

From the lakeside camps and bonfires and road trips

I am from the evening painting lessons with mama 

From the sum solving sessions with daddy

I am from the pillow fights and real fights with my sisters 

From the nights we fell asleep in each other’s arms

I am from the dim lights at the fireplace 

From the bright light at my study table

I am from the big bowls of soup and potatoes at dinner 

From the house where candy and cookies are forbidden

 

But now I’m here.