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.


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. 

The Truant

Jane Brinkley
Smith College Northampton, MA

With a tower of seabirds that coughed in tandem, the trudging ferryboats rang in the New
Moon. Heaped up with green fish whose unlatched jaws winked in the bright air, the sailors bent
over at the waist and rested ashore. Their skin, slapped up by the heat, shone with that Saturnine
yellow stuff that bellowed off the fish piles like a heavy shroud. I watched as the torsos curled
into the earth, their loads cascading into one of seven enormous leaden troughs on those banks.
The first men, relieved of their duties, sprinted toward the white oasis tent, stripping themselves
of their shirts and masks which snapped and curled in the wind. The shore teamed with the hot
odor of work. The first rain came, and the men gave thanks to God.

When I was fifteen and an outlaw, I used to sneak past my mother’s room on curled toes to
witness this return. Far off to the South, the broad mountains braided into the sky, to the North a
beggar’s platoon approached. Were it night, a stranger might mistake the barges for a solar
system– an entire golden litter of stars tossing its constituents into the dark. Now that you
mention it, I’d be inclined to say that I spent most moons like that– prostrate on the chin of some
great water tower to hunkered down in a cold chimney, pressing the palms of my hands to my
gripping surface so that the shiny redness was easier to hide come breakfast the next morning. I
languished on those moments like a wilting grape.

How do I describe this place? It isn’t beautiful, though it is ours, you see, and in plain
terms it amounts to no more than a few spherical crofts and lean-tos snuggled in the belly of a
hill. In a standard unit, the lower hemisphere draws up water from the soil and filters it, sending
it through a great arm that obeys invisible commands and turning it into steam power. We sleep
above, and sometimes on stormy nights there are big gaseous waves that crest over the glass
bubble, and in the morning it is green and dusty. If at some point the structure kept smogs away, I
don’t really recall, being too young and so on. As it is, we’ve made a habit of wetting towels to
stitch at the place where the wall meets the floor, as well as the exit. We get fat on fish skins in
the winter and we are very grateful for what remains of our planet.

Maybe you, like I, marshaled the terror of your childhood in a paddock called stories. If it
wasn’t the new testaments with their tungsten spines it was kid’s books set in cardboard shells
about pirates and royalty. I liked to sit with my back flat against the floor, my heels meeting the
glass ceiling, and behold the images of children whose faces and bodies looked much like mine.
When the harvest season crowned my house with restive festivity I’d risk a sheepish “could we
read this” at the dinner table, barely containing my joy at the deliciousness of the little private
moments that followed, the glittering fauna and rusty ghost towns and babies with fresh bottles
to drink from. Night fell.

If there was any question of my fitness for the moon journeys I thwarted it when I betrayed
my interest in stories to the committee. In a grey room, just a few paces long and weathered by
sand, I was told that the trip was beyond my bumbling snatches of masculine ability. The fishing
grounds lay at the foot of the Tumults, they said, where danger lies. It is not a job for those
citizens amongst us whose wills are weak. It is at this juncture that I mention the Tumults for the
first time, for because historians might herald them as the defining character of this time I have a
larger place in my heart for other parts of this particular story. Should you want to see them for
yourself, you’d need only paddle a pirogue for six or seven hours until you felt the fabric of your
clothing lift from your skin and your face felt smoother. Only at this point would your eyes begin
to pick out the shapes from the fog, and you might guess that you’re looking at a vast bed of
needles, infinite in number and staggeringly large. Your gambit would be to stay as far from the
foot of this needle-bed as possible while still encroaching on the cobalt atoll that houses the fish,
for if you were to venture too far, you’d succumb to whatever was lurking therein. Of course,
none of this was of any concern to me. I nodded and struck out home to count down the days
until thirty again.

There is something I have neglected to tell you about my home. Though I find myself
generally honest, this piece is a thorn in my side and I fear for my life to admit it. For although I
spoke of books like benign instruments of pleasure, there was one story that made in me a divine
rapture from which I’ve never quite awaken. One afternoon while everyone was sleeping, I
found a volume in a hidden station of my father’s bookshelf. Its jacket was stiff and rough to the
touch, but its pages were as thin as lamb’s skin and porous from age. It told the story of a man in
a place called Athens who entered a maze made of towering matter who, upon losing his way,
fell into a fit of hallucination and saw a horned beast. I say it here in secret, though perhaps you
have already made the inference that it has taken me all these years to come to. I know that the
island, the one written about in a 1955 almanac of ancient mythos, is the very same one that
bears us fish– I know that, many thousands of years before these Greeks, some powerful empire
snuffed out the embarrassing chemical byproduct of its labor in this massive grave, and tried to
hide it so that no student of this “labyrinth” would discover it. Many must have tried and failed,
my friend, because the men who leave the tumults stink of a foreign poison and dream of
monsters, still.

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

Love Letter to Myself

Isadora Kianovsky
Smith College, Northampton, MA

Tell me when you realized you were beautiful. 

Was it when you spent a summer morning lying in the grass? Bees buzzed around your head, thinking you a flower from the vibrant hues of your shirt and the floral perfume you decided to roll onto your wrists that morning. Your eyes glazed over while staring into the depth of the bluest sky you’d ever seen. You nestled into the grass like you belonged there, the damp dirt cold on your skin. The breeze rustled through your clothes and turned them into wings, and you thought that you could fly, if you wanted to. 

Or was it that autumn afternoon during the first few days of school, when you sat outside with your friends during lunch? None of the teachers had assigned homework yet, so your lunch hour was just for you. Sitting in a circle, surrounded by the kind of friends you never thought you’d have, you couldn’t help but smile. You smiled so much your cheeks hurt. Everything was silly jokes and pasta out of tupperware and picking at the grass until your fingertips were stained green. You laid down for a moment, staring up at the swaying trees that stood tall on the front lawn, and wondered if you’d ever felt more grown-up. 

Maybe it was in winter. You stood out in the falling snow, feeling the flakes settle on your eyelashes and adorn your messy hair. You looked like some kind of majestic figure, you thought. Divine and graceful. The snow drifted peacefully for a while and then gained speed, swirling rapidly in all directions. The once soft flakes now whipped wildly at your skin like tiny, frozen blades. Eventually you ran inside and began stripping off your boots and jacket, leaving morsels of packed snow all over the wooden floor. The heat of the house made your fingers and toes go numb, and you felt the pink rising in your cheeks. You made your way to the kitchen, grabbing the milk and your favorite mug, already tasting the sweet hot cocoa on your tongue. 

But perhaps it was in spring, one of those golden evenings where your hair glowed auburn and the scent of sweet flowers wafted around you. The air sat atop your skin like a gentle blanket, just enough pressure to feel like a hug. As days melted into liminal stretches of time where nothing mattered, you felt your soul expand into your whole chest because the world was yours for a little while. You sipped on iced chai and admired the specks of white and yellow and violet that peppered the lawns. Everything seemed so soft, so young. Honey-colored shadows rolled along the walls of buildings, and the sunset turned the clouds pink, and you felt welcome in your body. 

To me, you have been beautiful in every moment. I just didn’t know how to tell you. 


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. 

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.

Phantoms on a Forever Road

Serena Keenan

Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA

She sat in the passenger’s seat of the car, feet propped on the dashboard, all sunshine orange and summer regret. Lazily shifting her head to the right, she moved her hand to brush a long strand of hair out of the other girl’s face as she drove, the wind whipping through the convertible on the freeway. “I think we should make a stop soon,” she said, drowned out partially in the chaos, which she supposed was fitting for the two of them, speeding on the open road like a teenage dream. 

“Okay,” the other girl mouthed, red lips parting and then closing, the sound eaten greedily by the wind. She tapped her head softly to the music they couldn’t hear anymore, the ghost of a rhythm still haunting through the steering wheel. 

It was summer and it was not summer, the sunshine still here but the forgiveness gone. It was liminal now, just the two of them, but in theory they were infinite, phantoms on a forever road. 

In reality, she didn’t want to stop. Out here they were just Lila and her, red and orange, and out there they were anything but. Forever isn’t really forever, though, even in this stretch of road down the Midwest, because sometime they have to find the East, no matter how hard they tried not to. Maybe if they stopped somewhere first it would last longer, this honeymoon period of the suspension of disbelief.  

“I think I love you,” she said, and it’s over. 

“Yeah,” the other girl said quietly. She did not look away from the road, but her fingers on the steering wheel shook. “I don’t think I can answer you here.” 

Why not, she screamed, why can’t it be here, the only place we ever exist. Why not here, where I love you without anything, where I love you uncontrollably. Why not forever, out here, where we last until the ocean. 

“Okay,” she responded, fingering the necklace on her swollen throat, and they were quiet for a long time. 

They eventually pulled off the road where there is nothing except a diner with a name they’ll never remember. Inside, they sat down, neon lights flashing, facing each other in a worn down booth with stuffing sticking out of the vinyl. 

Lila, with her red hair and her almond eyes, faced her, looking both lost and found, alone and together. 

“Can you answer here?” She choked out, barely audible, legs wrapped around each other under the table. 

Lila closed her eyes, her beautiful big eyes, and said nothing. She inhaled slightly, holding on as if she were savoring it, as if this last breath would end her completely. “I don’t know. I don’t know if I can answer anywhere.”

In this truth, this ultimate, painful truth, she felt the break most completely. It was more real here where she was herself, where Lila was Lila, where they were meant to be forever, or until the East and its sun swallow them whole. It hurts less later, as most things do, but when has that ever mattered?

“Okay,” she said, and she ordered a milkshake. 

Lila ordered a strawberry one, and everything about her was red, red, red. Red like hearts and red like blood, like heartbreak and stop, like berries and like bricks. Red like cherries, red like love, red like everything in sight, everything that will ever matter. Red like forever. 

After a while they leave. It has been quiet, conversation not quite gone but not quite needed. Lila handed her the keys and they switched places, she propped her boots up on the airbag like a mirror image of three hours ago, hands on the steering wheel but her nails were orange. 

Lila turned up the radio a bit louder, but she couldn’t find anything except 70s music, the kind that makes the world seem a little bigger, a little less connected, and a little more free. 

In this space, the red gold desert, the plain wheat fields, there was no one for miles. Being the last person on the planet would be lonely, like blue. Blue for the ocean and blue for the end.

The heat bore down on them and Lila put her hair up before looking over at her and then softly trailing her fingers down the side of the other girl’s hand that was resting on the compartment in between their seats. 

Lila sighed, and slid her round sunglasses from her forehead to the bridge of her nose and she leaned her head back, slipping her fingers in between the other girl’s. 

They kept driving, Lila singing the words to the songs under her breath, and she remembered when they could talk through the silence. Before her and Lila were this, whatever it was, before they were infinite. Those girls might still be inside, but there is only so much you can go through with another person without it changing you. 

They still spoke, though. It’s just a little harder now, with this great beast of heartbreak in between them. 

She supposed that they were never meant to last. They were and they weren’t, their names spelled out forever in this car and on this road, but never inside a house or in a mouth. Secret, forever. A secret between two people and a car, two people and two graves. 

So soon, too soon, they were under the gray sky, still in hot desert but outside the houses. They were out of place now, somehow. Lila used both of her hands to pull her ponytail out, and left them both quietly in her lap, her form of soft shade. 

She sighed and it’s over, pulling up in front of a blue house with white trim and a white fence. She switched the car into park, the click of the transmission echoing forever and ever and ever. 

Lila turned to her, mouth pursed, hands shaking as she quickly squeezed her hand. “Goodbye,” she said like a promise.

“Goodbye, Lila,” she said softly, mouth full of cotton, and it’s all she could see. 

Lila, slightly taken aback at hearing her name, looked over her shoulder, not entirely out of the car. Opening her mouth only to close it again, she nodded before subconsciously tugging at the hem of her yellow shirt. “Yeah,” she said. “Goodbye.” 

Lila, in all of her warm glory, walked into the blue house like a funeral.

She drove away.  

You should read a real book

Jessica-Ann Rodriguez

St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN

When I was in the seventh grade, I had two English classes. One class was regular English 7, and the other was called READ 180. They didn’t like to refer to that class as remedial English, but that’s what it was because of standardized test scores. In this second English class, we would mainly do practice tests to prepare for the standardized testing season, individual reading, or study hall. My teacher walked around quiet reading time and stopped at my desk, “What are you reading” she asked me. I turned to look up at her, “Yotsuba,” I said, “It’s Anime…” I had never in my life seen a more disgusted face from one of my teachers. She handed my book back to me and said, very loudly, “Okay, well, next time you better bring a real book. I want to see you reading real books in this class, or I’m going to give you a lunch-detention.” I didn’t understand.

Reading Fun Home, a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, makes me think about this idea of what constitutes a book being “real” and what does not. The traditional writing versus non-traditional writing comparison, in this case played out in a graphic novel, echoes in the background when I pick up Bechdel’s work. In Fun Home, in terms of it being an autobiography in a graphic novel style, Bechdel pushes back on this conversation. Bechdel’s work debunks what is “a real book” through the different literary devices she uses skillfully in her work. Bechdel makes us think about how we not only view traditional and non-traditional writing, but makes us look at how we view women’s writing, especially autobiographies. Through this graphic memoir, we can see all the boxes being checked. Bechdel’s work is on the same playing field as traditional literature because there are so many literary devices that she skillfully uses to tell her story, namely allegory, foreshadowing, simile, and metaphor.

Bechdel opens the memoir with an allegory of the myth of Icarus and Daedalus to represent her relationship with her father. She also draws parallels between Bruce Bechdel’s failure to accept himself and the suppression of his sexuality, to Icarus’s hubris. She writes, “Considering the fate of Icarus after he flouted his father’s advice and flew so close to the sun his wings melted, perhaps some dark humor is intended. In our particular reenactment of this mythic relationship, it was not me but my father who was to plummet from the sky” (Bechdel 4). It’s not until she revisits this allegory that she makes the full comparison of Bruce and Icarus at the end of the memoir. Bechdel also uses this allegory to foreshadow her father’s self-destructive behavior throughout her upbringing and the rest of the memoir.

Bechdel describes her father’s coldness to his needs or feelings using the simile of robot arms writing that he only values them if they are of use to him. She shows this treatment through a scene of her and her siblings are helping Bruce fix things around the house. Bechdel recounts this moment narrating, “…and of course, my brothers and I were free labor. Dad considered us extensions of his own body, like precision robot arms” (13). She creates the image and the narrative that her father only saw them as props or objects that he could control, especially when he needed to exhibit control. Bechdel uses simile again when she recalls the time when she saw a woman dressed in men’s clothing for the first time when she was young. In this moment, Alison and her father realized that the woman is the image of who she wants to be. By comparing herself to a traveler, Bechdel implies that she is more open to exploring her identity than her father, who is simultaneously closeted and closed off.

Bechdel uses the summer storm as a metaphor for the whirlwind that follows Bruce and the secrets he hides from his family. The storm metaphor also means that despite the struggles that she and her family face, they still manage to avoid complete destruction most likely because they were well versed in how to weather a storm. Bechdel also uses the creek from the Beech Creek as a metaphor for her father’s homosexuality, which he often tries to hide behind his different passions and need to appear perfect all the time. She writes that Beech creek appeared “crystal clear,” but only because of pollution from the adjacent strip mines (128). By using these metaphors she showcases two sides of her father Bruce: the storm being his inner turmoil because of his many secrets surrounding his closeted homosexuality and Beech creek being the image he tries to uphold in public.

When I read Fun Home, it brings me back to that time in my life where I not only loved reading, but I loved graphic novels, anime, and comic books. As a senior in college I finally took the time to read graphic novels and traditional novels recreationally. Yes, the words,“real books” still echo in the back of my mind, except this time it is for a different reason. Through the skillful use of literary devices in her work, Bechdel makes us think about how we compare traditional and non-traditional writing, as well as demands that we acknowledge that they are all real books.


Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print. 

remedy; ode to orange

Skye Raye

Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, VA


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.

Pomegranate Seeds/Litany for a Body

Kenzie Hampton

Hollins University, Hollins, USA


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


only six seeds and

demeter weeps for her daughter


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


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


hades is watching

i am careful not to drop

a single seed


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


persephone, hear this —

my mother, too, helped create the seasons

tell demeter we’re all coming home


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..