Category Archives: Poetry

Lara Elmayan

Last Prayer To Mack Wolford

And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.
– Mark 16:17-18.

It’s a book, jackass.
– Lane Smith

You said the snake that bit your father had my eyes. You remembered his
reflected like new moons or bottoms of whiskey bottles through the nose,
so you could see in them for one holy moment the Appalachian stretch sinking
into the hot faultline of America. The snake’s, I mean,

not your father’s. Not the eyes of the man whose be alive in the Lord drenched your skin
even when we were grafting into the fake leather of your car’s back seat. The dead
are disruptive. You balanced a kerosene coke bottle on your throat in memory and spit

flame: praise the Lord and pass the rattlesnakes, brother, but that rattlesnake passed
you right by as if it never heard you sing the Gospel. What a casual fuck you,
no drama, no fuss; how enviable, unaware of its own forced story. What shine it left in its path
into the woods, where your wife’s animal cries echoed for so many miles that the dying

gathered to shake happy morphine heads at the hole in the sky. What a kindling of faith
that your blade-to-tongue sermon tremble could never conjure. We are setting up snake
as El in the ruins of the church where you said we could all be saved. Once you kidnapped

me in joy just to deny me in the weeds of your ancestral burial ground. Once you saw the Lord
and the strychnine reminded you of my mouth, asphyxia turning paralysis. Once you heard the blues
and understood, and had to spend a week on top of a mountain where Indian ghosts
ignored you and you could wait for the lightning crack of salvation. The dead were never

as disruptive as you wanted them to be. You must’ve watched your entire bloodline dissipate
into the haze of West Virginia, where history was already setting up its own noose. In dreams
I sense vaguely the heat of your thigh, and I open my mouth for prayer and a familiar taste
of dust.


Lara Elmayan graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2015 with a double major in English Literature and Journalism/Media. Since then, she’s been battling post-academia existential angst and working as a copywriter on the Global Creative team of M·A·C Cosmetics, where she leads social and store experience copy. She currently lives, brunches and avoids exercise in Astoria, Queens.

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Caroline Beltz-Hosek

Intervals

First Unitarian Church of Rochester, 1988

Before the sermon begins, I puke
blood in a cramped hallway & leave without

cleaning up the mess.

What grace—

Am I Eve? Biblical pariah,

my girl body disturbs me: pink

collection plate. Sweat gathers

in hairless armpits, oocytes stir yet

their travel will, for another twenty years, produce

only cyclical absence.

Nascent breasts under loose tops,

I learn my empty slough is something

to hide in bathroom stalls, feminine

pad expel, expelled to a backpack or purse.

I learn to exaggerate the pain when I want to

skip gym class. Like all the Raggedy Anns.

What does my teacher—without knowing—conceal

& predict when he quickly averts his eyes?

He gives me sweaty permission

to read alone in the nurse’s office: thin membrane

curtain, foldaway clot, tart red

juice in a Styrofoam cup.

Mother of all my living, my living all

my mother, I was a chiasmus from the start

& go two months in utero until she’s onto

me. Her ovum is my ovum is my twin

daughters, delicate split moon,

who do not yet know their bodies are ritual gardens,

who do not yet know its clockwork catch & release,

who do not yet know God

is gone too soon from this place.

What wisdom is there in shedding?


Caroline Beltz-Hosek received her M.A. in Poetry from SUNY Brockport. A former assistant editor at Penguin Putnam, she has taught creative writing and literature at SUNY Geneseo since 2006. Her poems have been published in The Fourth River and Minetta Review. Additionally, she was awarded a 2018 Incentive Grant from the Geneseo Foundation for “The Long Diminishing Parade,” a poetry collection based in part on her maternal ancestors, which explores topics of motherhood, mental illness, alienation and the immigrant experience, and the role that place—real and imagined, personal and historical—plays in shaping identity and creative expression.

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Caroline Beltz-Hosek

 

Cardinal

“Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.” —Sylvia Plath

My daughter dreams of dogs, saliva like glossy tripwire. As the pack circles her bed,

showing teeth, she readies (red as the desire for red) her face for impact, menace

of a fiction that feels real. She wakes & screams, eyes glissando from darkness to

darkness, I come, I say: “In your house, in your bed, nothing can hurt you-

I have been avoiding this

poem. I don’t want to be

pulled under the wheels of—

I want to write

about my daughter, who I think could live forever :: unscathed, smiling

if I can just love her enough,

remind her of everything that is:

Look—the thick

kisses of sunrise, the hushed way

someone dresses

for work.

not death,

not you.

Jo, my daughter, is

not you but she is

                 you

Joah: a simple, obscure Biblical name,

masculine, yet suicide is women’s

work: trill of impact, your eyelet dress blooms rust

as the Amtrak “Cardinal” separates you & nothing &

can hurt you.

“What is the point of dreams, anyway?” Jo asks.

She holds me hard, arms soft hooks (as if clinging could save us), I kiss & kiss her

nightmare until it oxidizes clear:

red        pink        girl        this—

Hush—cadence of dissolving.

It’s all right, but (let’s be clear) you should have lived, you lived with cousins who kept

you: clean & confident, Peter Pan collars stiff as a board, light as a feather. Your older

sister, Thea, was sent to (this feels like fiction) Aunt Icy Leona who spoke to her as if

she was already dead, who put my grandmother in charge of the household laundry, left

alone as long as the washboard & soap flakes did their work. Red-eye :: stain, release.

Midwestern Cinderella. A songbird with teeth.

Jo: diminutive of Josephine, feminine of Joseph.

She will add/give/increase. I named my daughter

after that outspoken March daughter, a novel

I loved when I thought I couldn’t love anyone

more than my mother. We inherit this desire to take

life :: an affectionate mother, this—

the last

day of April. Red tulips rise

outside my window, the cling

of my :: death-breath, poem, (you & not you) girl

trills in the next room, softly

like feathers or fur, or lucid dreams,

or how you imagine

everything could have been.


Caroline Beltz-Hosek received her M.A. in Poetry from SUNY Brockport. A former assistant editor at Penguin Putnam, she has taught creative writing and literature at SUNY Geneseo since 2006. Her poems have been published in The Fourth River and Minetta Review. Additionally, she was awarded a 2018 Incentive Grant from the Geneseo Foundation for The Long Diminishing Parade,” a poetry collection based in part on her maternal ancestors, which explores topics of motherhood, mental illness, alienation and the immigrant experience, and the role that place—real and imagined, personal and historical—plays in shaping identity and creative expression.

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Parker Reid

Reciprocal Hurt

Your mother holds herself,

fingers grip

her skin like clay

cracks in the sun,

crumbles

if you let it

go.

Crimson beads run the length of

your body shivers,

ping

pong

down

baby hair

lined legs pinned

beneath the dash of your

gender in transition:

a car

crash between a Prius

and a semi where you

aren’t sure if you are

the dented metal frame or

the cause of

the weights that fill

your chest that heaves,

your lungs not sure

who needs the oxygen.


Parker Reid is a student at the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare currently working on their bachelor’s degree. Some of their hobbies include writing, reading, and knitting. After graduation they would like to use their education to serve the LGBTQ+ youth community.

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Mitchell Angelo

Pre-Operative

As feral as I feel I know I am docile. Pretty

boy. Honey blood. Let’s imagine I am

a raven: a creature winged and worth

writing about. Claim the aggressive and angular. Bury

ovarian in bloom. Pretty boy. Honey blood.

When I fall I will land crooked but I will still be

beautiful. Let’s imagine I am something softer.

Let’s imagine I am a story in which nobody

dies at the end. Let’s imagine I stain

this body in orchids.

Pretty boy. Honey blood. Faggot. Firecrackers. I

am going to need you to cover my ears.

When you say my name for the first time I

want it to scare lesser animals. Perform

predator. I will never die

but if I do remember me as a cowboy. Perform prey.

Your father will see me like he sees any other girl and I will let him. I am

not crying.

When I fall I will land crooked but I will still be beautiful.


Mitchell Angelo is a junior Creative Writing major at SUNY Purchase, with a focus in poetry and a minor in Theatre & Performance. His work covers topics like gender, the environment, and anything pancake shaped.

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Mitchell Angelo

Sonnet for a Cowboy

And I’ll carry you on my back to the water.

To frame your figure out West. Let’s promise not to

use that word anymore. Let’s promise not to touch

anymore. King of the plains. Of things that break,

bend. Play matador on the freeway. Strip like raw

hide. Prey or pray, both end in blood and saliva.

Arizona in June can make anything less

painful. I’ll scrub your mouth from the tailpipe. And I’ll

carry you on my back to the water.


Mitchell Angelo is a junior Creative Writing major at SUNY Purchase, with a focus in poetry and a minor in Theatre & Performance. His work covers topics like gender, the environment, and anything pancake shaped.

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Mitchell Angelo

Carnivores

Before there were men, there were hours

of limbs on linen and imaginary cherry-bombs.

Great marble bodies outstretched in heat. Orchids

tied to bed posts. I was the first infant with an appetite for rats.

A goat’s head hangs above my mattress. She wears a prayer over her horns.

I cannot name things I do not love

so she is only a goat. In my sleep I name her after myself. In my sleep

I am only a goat.

Before there were men there were moths. Before all this

Skin. Before there were words for things like this. This body.

A hideous carnation. A marriage of carnivores. Still flesh

cannot thrive without father, so in which organ shall we bury him?

Once I knew a river so shiny I grew gills.

Fish are filthy liars, and with all these bones

I’ll never swim. In my sleep I am only a fish. I’ll lie

so flat and so still on the water’s surface you’ll think me a lily pad.


Mitchell Angelo is a junior Creative Writing major at SUNY Purchase, with a focus in poetry and a minor in Theatre & Performance. His work covers topics like gender, the environment, and anything pancake shaped.

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Natalie Hayes

river as reaper

crawfish falls from the sky and lands in my lap:

i imagine what you were when you still moved

(and my skin crawls, but i don’t tell you that)

and where is the thing that brought you to me?

big bird with shit grip

snatches you from shallow waters

and names you   supper

but you are too hard          to be held that tight

and so you fall to my front lawn.

i want to know  whether or not

you looked back at the bird             as  you  fell

and if you did, were you laughing? or were you

asking to be eaten   instead?            the  passage

from tongue

to throat

then stomach

is warmer, at least

and perhaps if eaten you would have returned,

albeit unrecognizable, to your river.

it is just so hard to see when you are moving that fast;

maybe stomach acid would’ve taken its time with you.


Natalie Hayes is a double major in English (Creative Writing) and Film Studies at SUNY Geneseo. She is extremely passionate about all facets of the arts, including but not limited to film, writing, and the visual arts. She is most interested in where these forms overlap, and in engaging in them collaboratively.

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Mitchell Angelo

A Girl’s Name

Bend—baffle the wings into shapes unclean. Marry the animals that do not caw; falcon. Perhaps eagle.

Kitchen table now. A man has your feathers for breakfast. Heirloom the estranged inching up of

thighs. Turn uncles to fruit juice. A knifed citrus lies in the sink and I will play possum licking rind to

rim. Offer seconds and or thirds. He only feeds you after he says he’s sorry. There is no slur like the

overripe. Pitted. Queer. Remove context and this can be about your stupid boyfriend. Remove

context and this body sings female. Remove Remove. I’ll They until I vomit in virgo. I’ll worm into

pinker

apples. I’ll bury my zodiac.


Mitchell Angelo is a junior Creative Writing major at SUNY Purchase, with a focus in poetry and a minor in Theatre & Performance. His work covers topics like gender, the environment, and anything pancake shaped.

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Natalie Hayes

psychic distance draws a line down the middle of me

i scrub my skin with salt

until the grains’ raised red lines begin to blur

into the red plaid-patterned tablecloth of childhood home.

this skin feels more familiar somehow;

i look more like myself like this

(rubbed raw and bleeding)

so lay me down, i guess.

cut to my sweat-stick back cementing itself to the hardwood

such that i am centered on the dining room floor.

i feel steely forks and spoons against my hot skin

and the ceramic base of your plate soothes my throbbing skull.

eat off or from me. put this body to good use

(as i certainly have not)

now sit me back up

and perhaps at last you will understand the weight of body

when brain is little more than an amalgamation of rocks.

my head is heavy and stagnant

and the pressed powder of prescription pill barely masquerades the cold

cobble glistening of gray matter; in the right lighting,

i look no different than before

(still gray-brained and mostly breathing)

let me sit steady in this

pattern of refusal; i store everything behind my eyes until i am absolutely

and unbearably full and then release all at once. after a long and unforgiving

six months of ignorance, i cry three times in one day.


Natalie Hayes is a double major in English (Creative Writing) and Film Studies at SUNY Geneseo. She is extremely passionate about all facets of the arts, including but not limited to film, writing, and the visual arts. She is most interested in where these forms overlap, and in engaging in them collaboratively.

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