Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

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Meteorology is something that maybe one day can be mine

When it snows in a place it’s not supposed to snow

it rains in a place it’s not supposed to rain

I started to hurt in a place I’m not supposed to hurt

I held my body in a place I’m not supposed to hold my body

too often I forget what makes a blood moon bloody

that we are recipes cooking until we taste good

the way my grandmother keeps her recipes in a plastic box

the way they are pieces of fraying brown paper

always only yet to be stained

remember when people rented houses in that thin band

of America where an eclipse promised darkness

totally they said it felt otherworldly

the way that makes me search for what’s worldly:

filling a bathtub at the Slurpee machine

the way a fork in the road is a decision

remembering that a mountain is made

when it snows in a place it’s not supposed to snow

Instructions for holding

In no time all this time has passed

Everything is horrible and perfect and difficult to describe

People are touching the art in museums now

No one is minding the gap

They killed a mountain lion for being a mountain lion

The clouds are changing without being watched


The questions they’re asking me are getting longer

and harder to answer

The things I’m feeling are getting bigger

and harder to hold in my pockets

They’re spilling out and falling to the floor

People are reminding me that it’s litter


A song that I love starts with the lyric

The road is longer than it is hard

It is one of these things that keeps

falling out of my pockets

Evading me like a minnow

but it’s a minnow

so I still want to see what it

would feel like if I held

it in my hands

The road is longer than it is hard

Maybe I hurt only

for what has been paved

In the distance

are so many pebbles

that will fit in my pockets

all of them


I think that watermelon radish is a good name for watermelon radishes


because they look like watermelons but taste like radishes. You look like a


person but taste like an animal. I look like a finger painting. I look like


I could use a drink. On the same street that a baby is crying on, construction


work is being done. Someone finds the baby louder than the construction.


Someone else finds the opposite to be true. This means something about you:


the things you find to be louder. To my ears, the baby is louder but I listen


only to the road work. How you can shatter through a sidewalk and get pulp.


There’s a theory that vast networks of tunnels exist underground.


In these tunnels live creatures the likes of which we have never seen before,


nor can imagine but I imagine their eyes to be the color of safety vests.


In 2nd grade we all had to come up with names for a nearby crane, the best


name would be painted onto the crane forever. I won and got to watch


my crane kill a road all year long. From my classroom, I could hear my crane


hard at work. It sounded like a neck snapping. It sounded like a twig breaking.


This meant something to me. This means something about me.

Birthday Party

Someone else is turning 22 today. I think of you

on top of the monkey bars after we saw that movie in Davis.

I dream you come to visit and I make you a G&T

with light pink syrup. I dream you into a murder mystery

where the mystery is who’s dead and every time I

forget that it’s you for long enough you come back

for a while and I can talk to you. Tonight I’m thinking

of your beautiful cat who died five years ago. Someone says

the stages of grief weren’t ever actually meant to be

about anyone other than yourself. In the winter,

every morning triples the impending length of the day,

and I wonder how you would feel about it. In the spring—


I don’t know yet, actually. In the doorway, someone’s cigarette

threatens to ruin my slice of the birthday cake. I used to hate

how food tastes when someone nearby is smoking. But

I used to make an exception for you, and without you,

I keep making it. Would you find that stupid?

I’m not scared of driving on the highway anymore

but I don’t have any reason to go to Natick anymore.

When I am the last one awake, I think of the walk to your house

from Domino’s the night of my eighteenth birthday.

Everyone else had gone home, but we were always meandering,

and you were an eternal night owl, never rushing me to go.

You told me you had always suspected something wrong…

It turned into summer. Longer days. Never mind.


When you tried to cut bread straight from the freezer, ending up

with stitches, I did all your dishes because I wanted to believe

I could help. The truth was, we were older, and I kept

rushing away. But it was nice enough to eat on the porch,

which did not hold the same version of darkness

as that house did. You came to the bookstore, and listened

to my recommendations. You read my writing and said

kind things. I went back to school and it became September,

and after turning 22, you left immediately. But everyone else

just kept turning 22, one after another. I didn’t want it

to be my turn. But we all just kept having to get older


Stunted Legs

I am staring at Jesus but I do not meet His eyes

They are hooded in shadow

downcast at bloody feet

as if to beckon me

to pass the velvet threshold

and meet his dark gaze

Your fingertips

My mortal tether

Graze my palm

Recoiling against religious trauma

but He demands my gaze

whether through heavenly edict

or anchoritic devotion

the bounds of the world

warp around his head

canon unfurled across peeling clouds

shattering the cosmos with love

Our existence here

is living apocrypha

Why is Jesus not within me

But 30 foot out of reach

mediated by content and form

made hallowed by art curators

As a Jew this is the closest I’ll ever come to Him

So I will stay in thrall

green martyr by the footrest

palimpsest to a museum notary

seeing how errant light

rebirths the Master

or the idea of them

you are not empty

but you are not full of the self i poured in.

i cannot create you.


funny – a womb and a woman –

if i were one like they wanted

you could make me eat twice as much

just to take it all away.


oh! a familiar thought!

this body the host of a parasitic love.

but it’s too late, i was never her

and you are not the person

she could have birthed.


if i let my eyelids flutter

and blur what i see

then maybe you could be

a boy who loves a boy – me –

but if eyes are the windows to the soul

and mine are always half closed

i’m not sure you’ll ever really understand me.


so let me look –

you are taller than i am

(this is usually the case)

and you come off as braver, more sure;

you smile easily but only if they’re looking

(luckily i see this, when my eyes are open –

i’m not one of them so i see your face fall).


i was wrong

you are whole

but i was right 

you are not built by me.

and it’s for the better –

my creations tend to never quite


one about my body

i never know where to put my knees.

i don’t know i think my thighs have too much gravity whenever i try to lean 

a shin against something all i do is push one of us away.


i don’t know where to put my arms,

when we lie in bed i remember having to ask you, to tell you

i really have no spatial awareness 

you have to tell me where to put myself

that’s why i always ask

and i remember writing a poem or really just a line

i deserve to take up space

something i would love to internalize


but it’s hard when every time i breathe i remember the

two small turkeys strapped to my chest

i remember how funny i found it when we read that

now it’s just a less trans excuse to chop off my breasts 

and maybe then i’ll fit

queer enough queer enough am i queer enough yet


when i was younger i used to fall asleep by picturing assembly line bodies

all the different ways i could be put together all the ways i could be taken apart and

unbroken, fixed, made to fit

and the idea that i was young enough to still become something people want

was so peaceful.

what a way to drift into dreaming.


it’s too late now, i think, i’ve been in the factory too long

i’m wondering if i was discarded half done

like they looked at me and i was too stubborn couldn’t melt the metal of my arms

into the shapes they wanted, tossed me into the heap,

i think this one’s a dud

no one told me what to do when there’s all this want and nowhere to put it

so often i feel my heart reach past my chest,

but that’s just it, isn’t it? i’ve got my very own cage

to keep it locked in.

break my ribs, let me out –

what a cage i keep myself in.

Old Wish

Give me yourself in fragments

like I imagine hiccups would

if they could love and talk sweetly.


circa incomplete things,

my mother,

and the grass too far from the sprinkler.

Give me yourself in broken bits.

Fragment as in okay.

As in clouds broken off from the source—

venturing off to burst on their own.

Thunderbird and soaked wing,

people that say “or else.”

I’d rather be sprinkled with whispers:

write me love-notes filled with all your best scraps.

Memory Like an Echo

I want you to feel better:

the malleability of memory making grief so perplexing,

an utterly strange pause—

how is mourning possible when memory is contrived from

past plus desire?

I am missing being sure,

or what it felt like to weep and know exactly why.

Exactly where?


Maybe memory has its own body, its own spell.

You watch it closely:

She is tall but she is loving,

I comb my hair until it breaks;

your freckles increase with summer.


An echo goes on indefinitely, I tell you.

Because there are so many ways to wait,

and even more ways to listen.

Perhaps, memory is what we can’t reach.

Summer Ephemera

I didn’t think I would miss it.

The way the sky crumples in the summer

leaving the hawks and butterflies

sprawling for their bedrooms.

The lovely taken out of heat,

the sky one big muscle,

cramping and cramping until we feed it

everyone we know who is remarkable—

the dandelions, my father, new history.

It’s the summer we love our bodies most.

We don’t worry what we are eating,

we stop crossing our fingers.

The cement hot and dreamy,

the birdsong new.

Soil cracked where the blueberry bush died.

It’s the way laughter sounds underwater—

I cannot tell if you are laughing or screaming,

hurting or remembering.

Small daffodils bowing their heads,

white bees tangled in the sycamore,

sun dust like dandruff in her hair—

I forget you are my mother.

It’s the summer our bodies become cyanotype skin

scorching into the under.

This way our stomachs are forever.

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