Category Archives: Poetry

Madolley Donzo

Thanksgiving Conversations

I

are only ever after                my throat burns from              the clear, crisp liquid hidden

            underneath my bed.             I sway             side to side                     run back up

stairs to my secret                              stash. The family is          almost here.        Take another
swig. Fix my shirt. Fluff my hair. Take another swig fix shirt fluff hair change shirt take swig
take swig take—                                     until I don’t                    know how much I’ve taken

the lights are too bright & carpet shocks me    every step I take the doorbell is louder than I’ve
ever heard it        conversations float,            clouds of words             around

              my head, never daring to           enter unless              welcomed.

                                                                                                                  Unlike my family.

II

My aunt comes first,              always on time            arms filled            with sausage peppers &

                                    criticisms drenched              in compliments.

                                              Your brown blouse is                     pretty

                                                          (though it was inappropriate last year)

                            Followed by her kids,                      my cousins:

D’s                      (not) wife                 (maybe) girlfriend             baby mother holds their two
kids in her arms,         his daughter lingers           behind, awkwardly         fitting into the entry

          the same way she fits            into their family.                Ambs enters with a fiance–

less Ish,                           talks of trips & (not) Forex an after            taste on her breath;

conversation clipped                     at the door, words lost

                                                  like her money in that pyramid scheme.

K & her boyfriend take                     up the space my                                   brother
doesn’t.                   He’s busy, an excuse               to hide his distaste             for the family.

                    I am forced                                                                   to mingle with people I
only talk                          to while we give thanks.                    My sister’s surrounded

                                                                        by dirty shoes kicked                           to side

& jackets thrown                   on worn-out couch. Her fingers fly

across                                her screen, my phone              pings:

                                                                            next year we aren’t hosting dinner.

III

                                              I stay back                            in the kitchen:

          check the bread,           use the blow torch for crème brûlée,

do everything                                          anything                                   nothing.

                      Fix shirt. Fluff hair.                          Don’t reach             for the bottle calling

          out to me, begging                   for a quick

return.                     Don’t ask. Don’t ask.                    Don’t as— How’s school?

Not                                                                                                                               fine.
Shut eyes. Sit down.                           Open eyes. Shut eyes.                     Hope I don’t

cry. It’s not fine.                  Never fine.

            Failing. No sleep. Can’t             relax. Not now. Not with them here.

                                                            Fix my shirt.

IV

K’s white boyfriend                           (not the one from her birthday in August)

                                      scrapes fork on ceramic plate.

I stare                                         (emphasis on)                     her white Boyfriend;

my sister stares                           (emphasis on)                     her White boyfriend;

nobody else                   stares or talks to                                           him.

                                                Conversations about broken                 engagements—never

Ish’s because we can’t,               it’s too soon—, broken

              promises—(not) all the ones D’s made to his (not) wife             (maybe) girlfriend

                        baby mother—, broken                   bonds—we only share       niceties

at this table. I shove               dry turkey in my mouth—spoon             fulls of salty mashed
potatoes.                              No mac & cheese. Need more              dragonberry.

                                  What are you studying now?

They always ask. It never changes. I’m a                     psych

          major, but I’ll                                                   never make money. They hope,

like my parents, I change                     my mind. I won’t

if it means their disappointment.                                              Revel in that feeling & wish

                they were                     the mac & cheese (not here).

V

I need another                         long sip of                  not water—maybe

                                                                    the brown liquid because they won’t

leave.                   Let’s play a game? Is this gathering                 not charade enough?

            Please, it doesn’t                   have to be home, just go                           anywhere.

                    Give me space                       to mourn my peace. If I must stay                 home,

enjoy this meal,             provide a bottle of wine to wash down

                      the inconvenience. Lights dim &           conversations become crystal.

Dinner’s over

                                                                                                                                      but—


Madolley Donzo is pursuing an undergraduate degree at SUNY Geneseo in psychology and English (creative writing). She has been previously published in Recess Magazine, SUNY Geneseo’s only BIPOC, student-run literary magazine. When she is not working on editing different drafts of her pieces, she can be found in a reading nook with a fantasy novel in hand.

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Jenna Coburn

Jenna Coburn

revolving doors, what have i done?

i get lost on purpose

drive into the mountains like

maybe i’m waiting for a cliff

like maybe route 44 will go off the grid

unmap itself

from my neurons and from google both

i brake disgusted

reminded of the guy who took the hairpin too fast

and didn’t even make a dent in the ridge

reminded how it looms so large with every rev

till all i see is rock

, road

, and impossibly the flightiest glimpse of

vanishing point

so distant from the guy who escaped the sky

i pull over next to smoking trucks and their smoking drivers

silhouetted against a valley so vast it may as well be nothing

a pipedream projected somewhere

beyond

some etching from the silurian period

that i won’t understand (not even when i’m older)

i’m sorry i’m late

i get lost on purpose

but i still repeat myself:

the second the county signs change color

i’m shivering at the lookout

i’m swinging around and glancing nervously at the sun

i’m slamming my brakes at the hairpin

neither earth nor air nor new

just home.

sorry i’m late

but i’m here.

i parked at the end of the driveway

like always.


Jenna Coburn (she/they) is a graduate student completing her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling at SUNY New Paltz. She hopes to continue work as a therapist in the Hudson Valley after graduating. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, playing Stardew Valley, and petting all the wonderful dogs in her life.

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Diana Morley

My Grandfather Taught Me How To Read

No one warned me that the dead visit in dreams.

Or that the smell of gasoline sticks to memory the way it sticks

to skin—my childhood bus stop at the end of the street—

But visit, they do, and stick, it does,

With no reason to wish for them to stay

Until daybreak comes again and

What’s left is the irksome feeling of

Forgetting where you are—the crosswalk by the high school—

How you can be two places at once:

Around the corner from your grandparent’s house / in a town you’ve never been to.

A gas station at six in the morning / a stop sign off a main road.

Dead / eating at a restaurant that doesn’t exist.


Diana Morley is a senior English and adolescent education major at SUNY Geneseo. She has one previous publication in the Songs of Survival Literary Journal. She primarily shares her work on an Instagram account, @deempoem.

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Stella Gleitsman

Whole Again

And violence becomes an addiction

when you do not love it enough

when you do not lean into it

you have to eat enough of it

like a star

like a gourd

like a vision

lit by echo

you must get used to how it spins

in your mouth

like a hunting rock

like something

that breeds flowers

gecko son

perused topaz diagon

blankness

yeah

it wreaks so much havoc on the body

and the soul,

it designs so much mythology

on your shoulders

tears into the bone life

loots its good structure

leaving everything so

dead

beetled jewelry bugs

brittle branch love

and poetry comes easy to me now

to the whole of my

self

borne out the skin

almost

breathed

out

so

easy

blushing

seeping

out the papery clouds

and beauty is in

so so so much to me

mostly in nature

in the bodies it has melded

three stones

grifting together

crafting organs

out of fertile

entranced

dough

and always, always in sound

the half-weeping

smoke of it

billowed

and

protected by pixies

slinking into

love odes

collapsing onto me like a

bleeding pen

shifting me slowly

out my mind

so I become a type of insane

that roots me

lizard

it stirs inside,

something patterned

something seamless

as if I’m something more

than I thought I was

and today it is here:

in

this breath

this breath

this breath

.

and what I want most now is:

to become

whole again,

whole again,

whole again,


Stella Gleitsman (she/he/they) is a poet and artist based in Brooklyn currently attending SUNY Purchase. Their poetry is focused on the visceral texture of language and explores alienation in body, mind, and life through newfound poetic architecture. Their work also explores the radical feminist transmasculine perspective as a potent poetic politics. They hope to delve into sound poetry, poetic painting and sculpture, and printed matter.

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Joyce Safdiah

instead of holding

my fingers wove through trampled grass

at the creek you brought me to

hidden out on the side of the road

told me it was “make out creek”

like i’d kiss you again    for aptness of name

  watched me         twist and braid

                        the waxy green tendrils

splitting them          up the side

when i couldn’t tell you how i felt

                     i’d say it with my hands

you watched my mouth spill out

                   excuses

calling bullshit on every single one

you cried

            heavy pink and green greatlash tears

  tried to muster up water to my eyes

you didn’t know how much of an actress

      i always was

the typewriter in my head

plagiarized every movie

       we didn’t finish watching

couldn’t come up with an excuse

           good enough for you

sat there with a pile of grass

              wilted and torn on my lap

you wouldn’t let me walk away

           until i said it


Joyce Safdiah is a poet and undergraduate studying anthropology and communications at Purchase College. She derives inspiration from the everyday and her inability to be normal about anything. Her work can be found in the notes app, love letters to friends, and scrawled in bathroom stalls.

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Cielo N. Howell

Platoon Manager

I

I didn’t know you very well at all.

You used to show me a DJ’s equipment in the garage of the Pennsylvania house your father owned,

You started doing Ketamine at 12, and I’m just as sure as everyone else that wasn’t the only indulgence of your youth

There was a son,

                     a teenaged mother,

a father with a gun waiting for an excuse—

You, the great and grand firstborn son:

You, the marine, brother, addict, protector:

You, uncle I barely knew until my mother screamed from across New York State

and I came running.

II

My brother idolized you.

He too, first son, wanted turn-table happiness, graffiti artist misunderstood by a society

that sees boy bodies as expendable.

It is a curse.

When he was 12 he would scream and bite at his own flesh like a cage,

                     and mother screamed

and I came running.

and now you—brother I barely know, tamper with pill bottles and the idea of hospitals, as you take a gummy bear laced with Ketamine.

I saved you for four years.

I went away and didn’t hear the screams.

And I saved myself because that’s all I thought I could do,

because I was also just a

child.

III

Now the uncle’s liver has turned yellow like the pus in marine warrior boots,

swamp foot. Called my mother a thief, and her sisters harpies, but you were the oldest

and I was the oldest,

                             and our first instinct was to run away.

         And now you are a garden of tumors, just like your father. In the house where his garden

became a grave—

And my mother ran to Pennsylvania to beg forgiveness of

her brother

            while her son’s eyes blinked

one day,

                       one day.


Cielo N. Howell is a Purchase College creative writing major from Westchester County, New York. She has an intrigue for the unanswered, the chaotic, and the natural world. She is the managing editor of Italics Mine. When not writing she can be found in trees, antique shops, and feasting on seasonal goodies.

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Lauren Royce

Things that bother me

I’m wondering when I’ll finally sit and churn out that kind of poem, that kind of poem that looks at the quiet beauty of life but in a different and special way, and it does it in a way that is so thought provoking, so subtle, so perfect in its mix of show not tell, but telling and showing at the same time, and I pick the right title and it maybe even comes with a double entendre of some sort, I love that word, entendre, to intend, to mean it, mean something so directly and indirectly but not so directly that it makes the whole thing annoying, annoying like my brain right now as I make this, but I have to get it out now, see? This is what swirls in my mind each day, the poem, many poems, their infinite structures and boundless forms and subjects stretching from the obscene to the rage filled, rage fueled, rage induced, even, to the mournful and nostalgic and dream-tinged works that arise out of the deepest parts of the psyche, my psyche, in a place tucked in far more cozily than all that rage that pulses in my veins when I think about things too much. Too much! It’s all pouring out of my fingertips to the keyboard at once now, and it’s the same feeling I used to get hunched over the toilet bowl with a bout of that childhood flu that comes through and knocks everyone on their ass at least once during youth and then you never experience it again until some new bug comes in and you’re there again, heaving, begging god to let this hurl be the last so you can just get some fucking sleep tonight god dammit. You feel awful but the weight of whatever was in your stomach gets replaced by air and your eyes are watering for the first time in ages because you don’t let yourself cry enough, but that’s because you can’t find a place in the house that isn’t the bathroom that feels secret enough to you in order to truly have a cathartic, soul-healing sob. And so you bottle those in, those physical releases, and you store them up in the crevices of your brain to age them like fine wines. I started with me and I, and now I’m talking to you. Who are you, are you me? No, no, you’re the reader, and then so am I, as I make this. Glad we made that distinction.


Lauren Royce is a senior at SUNY Oswego, where she is studying journalism and creative writing. She is currently working on both creative and news interviews. She is happiest living as a bridge between these worlds. Her work consists primarily of news stories and entertainment reviews in The Oswegonian.

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Kashi Bakshani

in my free time i haunt the hurricane house

the cymbal crash of rain holds firm till the a.m.—warm-lit walls sing as

thunder strips them of saturation—downpour pools to gutters of

sepia tile—do wet socks bother you?

the power’s gone out—along with the sun chased in fear by the tempest’s

guffaw—look this is how to make light dad indicates to a potato

chock full of serpentine metals, since wax is drying low

(go, go look out the front door where the hurricane wails

HELLO MAY I COME IN)

in the ivory tub, mom’s hands kiss my head—eucalyptus shampoo

suds and she tells me so sweet: the storm is inside already, no need

for her to knock

i watch the firmament form from the living room sofa—damp cushions

perpetually cool in the hurricane house—warping book sticks my palm

with weeping ink—what was the title?

there on the wall contorted by waist-level water, is that a photograph or a

painting? regardless it will disintegrate—remember

the house is sinking

soaked blaze drips to decay—hard maple water-weakened to soft wood

—for always i cycle in the hurricane home—do you ever remember

having dry socks?


Kashi Bakshani is a queer, South Asian poet from New York City. She is an undergraduate university student pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in spatial experience design at FIT. Her work explores multidisciplinary intersections of the arts and sciences. Her writing has been published to Columbia University’s State of the Planet and W27 Newspaper.

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Stella Gleitsman

Bread Blue Planet

I’m a bread blue planet.

Among a crazy shuffle of blue.

I’m like

too intense

for the malt of the run.

For the sake of the gun.

I was a child that ate leaves.

Now I’m an adult among a wintry hail.

A wintry wait heaven.

When you touched me

you thought you had a firm grip

on a girl body.

When you touched me

I felt like sky.

Like cry.

When you touched me.

I didn’t even whimper a bit.

Didn’t even feel it really.

Every time I’m touched I feel like heaven.

I feel like grip.

Everything moves within me and I become responsive.

And I become a bold sparkle.

Yes I become responsive.

I wish I had a way to talk

But please know I’ll just respond.

There is a baby in me.

That’s not my daughter:

But it’s my spoke.

That rinses at the world.

That craves the world.

That bleeds the world.

Boasts the world.

It’s an animal

and it’s a blunt

hand.

I wish I knew how

to greet you

in a way that can

make you understand.

Understand.

My body split in two.

Reclined in a malware.

Cold rhythm. Scope.

I’d love to be blue. 🔵

The whole color. The whole

world. God!

I’d love to be the whole world.

Watery + blue + baltic.

But you touch me.

I’m just a touch.


Stella Gleitsman (she/he/they) is a poet and artist based in Brooklyn currently attending SUNY Purchase. Their poetry is focused on the visceral texture of language and explores alienation in body, mind, and life through newfound poetic architecture. Their work also explores the radical feminist transmasculine perspective as a potent poetic politics. They hope to delve into sound poetry, poetic painting and sculpture, and printed matter.

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Kirry Kaufer

Watershed/Waterspout

I swallow from your straw sixteen times.

A man on the city street sings into a paper cup.

He once said, there ain’t no devil,

Only a god when he’s drunk.

Everyone wants to be God on a Saturday night.

Everyone wants to be touched tonight.

My upper thigh: the freshly trimmed

olive trees against the sky. Pearly cream

plunges the sidewalk, side ledge

against the branch. The insides of olives are actually red,

but you didn’t know that since you never got

your first taste of blood.

My waterspout is turned on.

twisting, writhing like the numb tips

of our snowflaked noses.

I dread the watershed.

Light washes over my face,

coloring the backs of my eyelids acid yellow.

Can you feel the butterflies

drowning in my stomach acid?

I glaze honey around the cooler parts of your stove.

I’m thirsty. I want a Coke.

I want to feel its sticky sweat down my throat.

I once had a lover

who said I make beautiful things sound

disgusting. My sweet insides

disjoin & decrystallize into the yarn

I never learned to crochet. Your tongue

arcing the pink caterpillar of my mouth

has me foam frothing, whiting your landscape.

Why the hell are the walls painted white?

A white chocolate sweater is folding

at the collar of your rim. Sometimes

I like to dress your demons in warm

woolen sweaters while you cradle my bottom lip.

Is my skin keeping them out or locking them in?


Kirry Kaufer (They/Them) is a senior at SUNY Purchase who studies creative writing with concentrations in both poetry and fiction. They are the recipient of the Ginny Wray Prize in Poetry (2023), and co-manage Purchase’s literary magazine, Italics Mine, alongside their roommate. In addition, they are a poetry editor for Chaotic Merge Magazine and Small Orange Journal.

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