Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

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Why is April sad?

Is it the petals everywhere?

Because the air smells like the skin 

of every person I tasted this year?

Is it the weight of the air at dusk? 


I drive to the grocery store every day

to buy fruit. I want to cut into something.

I brandish my pocket knife at nobody 

and eat snow peas like candy. 


April fifteenth, and there are bruises above the trees. Still, it’s not the sky’s fault that the sunlight slipped away all of a sudden. It’s nobody’s fault.


I keep a list of all the people I’ve ever loved. Which one smeared my body with clay? Even with my eyes closed, I can tell I have fingerprints all over my stomach.

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There’s something very special

In the way you speak to me,

And something rather charming

In the countenance I see.

There’s something so domestic

In the way I’d like to live;

The hand you put surely in mine,

The heart you freely give.

The Appointment I Booked Six Months Ago

Every dermatologist’s office is trying to sell you Botox.

They promise you “healthy, glowing skin!”

and overpriced product packages.

The lady checks you in asking for your name and date of birth

in a voice so quiet you have to press your face to the glass.

Click space click click click

the computer makes that noise.

She tells me to take a seat.

I sit in a plastic chair.

I wonder if there’s a store that sells this same chair to all dermatologists.

I hope so.

Everyone around me is reading the paper and 70 years my senior.

Is good skin only for the dying?

There is a television in front of me

flashing ads for what you should do and buy

and warnings about sun and cancer and smoking

and the models are so attractive

and I sink in my seat a bit.

Maybe if I lived in this waiting room I’d have no scars

and my skin would glow so brilliantly

that people would be afraid to look at me.

I’m taken to a closet sized office where I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes now.

It’s always like that.

Maybe the suspense makes you think you’re getting what you’re paying for.

Looming to my right are four cursive certificates in gold frames

assuring me that I made the right choice in being here.

They are stacked one on top of another

all the frames are slightly different.

They all look like my high school diploma.

Maybe Dr. Rockoff will come in soon to do whatever he’s supposed to.

Maybe he won’t.

Maybe I’ll try to open the door and it’ll be locked and I’ll have to live in this skincare prison cell

surviving off Premium Hand Sanitizer with Aloe and Bacteriostatic .9% Sodium Chloride

as my skin grows indefinitely worse and I die under fluorescent lights.

I can hear him talking to a patient in the other room.

She has really stubborn acne and pimples on her ass.

Drawing on the Walls

I know I’ll get in trouble

For drawing on the wall,

But this crayon-marker masterpiece

Is my greatest work of all.


If I put my thoughts on paper

For some temporary praise,

They’ll be stuck up on the fridge

And then be gone in several days.


But walls are a sturdy canvas

To scrawl my every feeling.

As I sketch and stretch and scribble,

One day, I’ll reach the ceiling.


The woman you lost, 

who will always be dark-haired

is impossible not to want. 

I’m forever a child looking 

out my window at the night sky.

Don’t you wonder sometimes? 

I’ll tell you everything. 

I won’t change. 

The old man said the woman must 

obey the law. 

The meaning of becoming a 

historical subject. 

But I’ll touch the world 

with bare hands. 

Even if it burns.


*Found lines from Tracy K. Smith poems: “Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?”, “I Don’t Miss it”  “Interrogative”.

My Rainy Days


Cowboys or JFK

Strobing inkblots upon the houses that host,
running the eye paint in every room
in every town from here to the end posts
of the party scene of impending doom.

I need a mixer on the roof-deck.
Could I get it with cowboys?
Or JFK if you have it?
Jackie O. went to my college
and swept up brain remains;
I went and had my brain pummeled
to a stain
by speaking to them, becoming
too invested in their pain.
In basements in Chevy Chase,
they try to kiss me but
I’m thinking too hard.
Country club patrons running drinks
on the stairs,
and peeling off to the bathroom,
making darkness loud in sweaty pairs.
House parties on Mulholland,
anti-socialites working
rooms of shadowed gogo boys
and daddy’s boys gone murky.
And on a balcony I can see Congress,
and our faces become very close
in the light off the cast-iron dome;
a boy from Bethesda hits me
and now I wanna go home.
The doorman on Lake Shore shoots
looks at the bunch, and in moments
the lake’s breath is another boy’s punch;
the wind is howling with violent
boy-love, shouts;
an intimacy that knocks me out.
And like the women flying like flags
at the bus stop,
I let them pull me parallel to the ground
until the wind breaks, I fall,

They do it to me so well, and,
like the youths at Tessa’s in Manhattan,
we slip into a communal haze
where dining tables are warm towels
on the hooks of date night play-by-plays.
Men, no maybe boys,
the ones my age who wield so much
over me;
boys are the American hypnotic.
It makes me wonder why they do it,
maybe just to faze me,
or turn the world neurotic,
but I think they mean to pull our eyes
in opposite directions,
to disorient us with their lies,
and play us with invites to functions.
They put us in every place,
and open up the skyline with the corners
of their faces.
Events of mass hypnosis from Washington
to L.A. and flashing scenes in people’s
eyes, the size of hotel ashtrays.

Say yes, say no, say moo,
grab another drink, strip off your mesh;
do whatever they say to do;
watching whatever it is they do;
holding the room like they always do;
Man-boy, lover-boy, entrance me,
I’m through.

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