Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

VSR Digital Archive

Bones of an Incomplete Soul

It must be odd for my mother

To have a white child to hold

To see it grow up in a poisonous land

With pockets of silver and gold

To speak in the beautiful language

The one that she holds so dear

But it only blinks twice, and then blinks again

Wishing it was able to hear


It must be odd for my father

So easily burnt in the sun

To carry a daughter, so golden and bright

To watch her little feet run

She embodies a vibrant culture

One that he can’t understand

Her words are a maze he must figure out

Her voice as slippery sand


It must be odd for my parents

To create a person in whole

But have her be half of everything else

Bones of an incomplete soul


It must be odd for the child

Living in a gray tone

Rich with the past, but stuck in the now

So full, and yet so alone. 

Useful Dust

I kick around the dust pile

that breathes through my stereo

its indifference and grace

nothing kept silent for a while.

when there was nothing left to say

we hid the breasts of chicken from our kin

they didn’t bother to raise the tin lid

little drops of honey like dew flew away

all this happened months ago

and the captain tips his hat

angled adjacent to the Albatross leg

we reached we reacted inside it was hollow

screaming innocence like a blue 

like you two come on and shake

the leaves twirl thickly and quickly

a whale’s dreams coming true

tell the youth they don’t like to mix

the muffled sounds from the stereo

thinking “By God! I’ll have a taste!” 

and pour down their throats the words thick.

Sounds on 47th Street

There is a horrendous roar outside my window

like that of a desperate train

squeaking against the rail to come to a stop.

To pick up the hopeless people for another day.

The friction sparks,

like the billboards yelling across the street

with light, fragments, frames by the second.

Squeak, roar, howl,

There is endless sound outside my window.

Voices over voices travel feverishly into my left ear.

And into my right ear,

The heater screams every frantic hour.


Release me.

Of the unpleasant world of sound.

Release me.

Of your foul composition,

and your ceaseless reminder

of my incompetence to cope with

you, sound, purposeless conversation,

gossip at lunch, and songs too fast for my hair cells to grasp.


Release me from your life,

Your life, the one standing by the light

from which a deep male voice repeats, “Wait,”

every half a minute


Release me from your wait,

I shall advance without the help of waves,

all alone.


if the mountains call for me

remind them of

the time they turned their backs

as I raced through the wind,

knuckles white and vision glossed.

toss their offer into the most shallow waters


watch the droplets ricochet.

if the mountains call for me,

pick up on my behalf;


tell them that 

I am now home.

fever dreams in hà nội

when you’re at the bottom of a well

the minutest caress of sunlight can

feel like a dangling hook itching for

your lips slaking the thirst of loneli-

ness with another sort of bondage.


i am in here spinning silences out

of the nettles of mist as the blood

slow-drips into the condensed milk

i’ve set aside for my morning coffee

brewing hot with neapolitan desire.


searched for a sun in unclouded broth

plucked a rose that bled in longing i

negotiate the spine of the book you

left behind and look to see if appeared

i did in any sprawling annotation.


how to grow old in the presence of

a crowd that can’t understand weak-

ness in the teeth of the enemy or

swooning from the labor of the sun—

they’d rob the blush from my cheeks.


peering out of the oculus of my fever

dream i see a starry blindness someone

has swept away the fog and my broken

compass if they didn’t know i was down

here they might never bother to find out.

monkton road

I love you mint chocolate ice cream big. 

always have, always will. 


sometimes I think I miss your old house more than you do.


so many summers ago

we ate brownies on your trampoline,


made my mouth



made your garden


sunshine smooth. 


so many summers ago,

we wore white dresses for 

my birthday,

clenched arms around each other’s waists. 


we got drunk


on the wine


katie stole


from her stepfather. 


smiled so wide it hurt. 


forgive me,

for cuddling closer after the car wouldn’t start. 

the light was



baltimore was warmer for us

dancing in the street,

waiting for the jumper cables.  


forgive me,

for almost sending a valentine scrawled with wistful lyrics. 


I can’t help but


cheap red wine in pomegranate juice bottles

holding hands just because.


I can’t help but

want to float back to the first day of physics


“Is someone sitting here?”


“No, I don’t think so.”


your smile clementine bright.

makeshift salon

the cream soda bubbled up and spilled

on my favorite red t shirt, soft and warm

we sat laughing in the living room

generations of furniture

carelessly or generously left behind,

scattered around the room.

his legs perched on the stained futon, hers tucked tightly beneath her torso

you’re taking in deep breaths and i’m making up stories

to distract you from the somewhat sterilized needle

positioning itself to run right through you

into that half eaten apple.

Dream I

In this dream I am

dead again apparently 

I stumbled into a sharp piece of art 

and it killed me, I can’t help

but laugh at my own gracelessness

at least I’ve aroused the artist 


And the economy

the tickets to the show

are now sold out thanks to my body

and the homicidal art

the security guard was about to shriek

Excuse me, Miss, no, don’t touch…

but I was dead too fast to be 


Confronted I got away

with it, all of me

touched the art 

now I’ll be known at least

I’ll be daring, I remember

thinking I am

more daring dead than alive


In this dream my mom 

is still waiting in line 

for the toilets, we had gone 

to the museum together

I had gone to the sharp art 

alone, it was mirrors spliced

I saw myself cut

as if Picasso failed me 

instead of rearranging my features

he shocked me apart

i don’t have any childhood trauma

fist fight from a separate youth

baby teeth-pricked hands

shallow even blood

apple bright consequence.


grey sun-rusted lawn chair 

pre-cancer family

the moment a photograph might have been taken.


that same dream light

now only comes

from seven drinks and sour hands


the ambulance is on its way.

The Deep Dark Mushy Gushy Place

It’s not gonna happen.

That’s what you said.

It can’t happen.

You said that too.


Your eyes said something different, though.

It can’t, but I want it to.

Things are too complicated right now.


Your eyes were reaching for me, but your words cut the rope. The truth was drowning in that blue, no one to rescue it. Words just pushing it further and further down until maybe it never existed. Pushing it down to a place where things are stored forever. Never to be recovered.


Never to be spoken about.


It’s a place of denial and of forgetting.

At one point, this place was locked. Unacknowledged. It didn’t need to be opened because things were good.


It was happening.

It could happen.

It was the time.


Then the eyes opened the floodgates because they got nervous. Unlocked that deep down place where nothing can exist. It opened. You were swallowed up, leaving only words.


Robotic words that I’m sure you rehearsed.


Too mechanic to be pushed into that place. That place only takes real feelings and mushy gushy words that no one wants to admit were said. You don’t want to admit.


It can’t happen, I’m sorry.


It’s not the right time.

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