Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

Delivery System

Day is a caught thing.  
I let if off-leash, 
and the dog,  
onto the coast where I stand 
delivered from night. 

I’m in the state I was born in 
twenty-one years after I was born in it 
the ocean looks like a lake 
this time of year, 
the unfeeling sky looms 
and the dog, 
that comatose god, 
does not come when I call it. 

I have asked twice 
and still he barrels 
towards the carcass:
a crab, or a striped bass 
and once, a pelican, 
its angel white body 
splayed and 
upturned to the sky.  

I have screamed one hundred times 
and the dog still does not listen out 
for my cries, 
still buries its exhausted, 
uncomplicated body into 
the unbeating flesh 
of some other animal 
spine against spine, 
soft belly against soft belly, 
squirming with a vigor 
of expected reciprocity. 

The most perfect thing 
I know of still 
is two animals greeting each other. 
That, even in death, 
one wants a piece of another. 

That one is calling another 
and another is lying dead on the sand 
and another is rejoicing 
in the smell of it. And once, 
I stood on this beach 
and tossed my grandmother, 
who was a Ziploc bag of ashes, into a wave.

That one came back to another shore.

Election Season

Election Season


Mackenzie Whitehead-Bust

It is always desire 
that we both desire.
We sit in a parked car.  
This is our lot, 
but it could be any lot.  
We do not drive until 
there is a destination. 
It is 10 pm on a Tuesday, 
election season, 
and we have just begun 
the process 
of learning each other’s  
ugliest tendencies— 
and, thus, 
becoming in love. 
For purposes of expediency 
we compromise and cheer ourselves up 
with sex and an hour of dumb YouTube.

Something is moving through. 
Something is moving through. 

I have consumed not a drop of water. 
All day I idle. 
There is a longing, and beneath it, 
a deeper, more prolonged longing. 
The first is easier to deal with, 
and so we make toast and eggs, 
with yolk cooked perfectly.
We let it drip onto our fingers,
feel satisfied, 
fill out our ballots for the illusion 
of choice, of impact on future. 
Up There, your father, who is a pastor, 
says there is somebody who is deciding. 
I plead in the ways I know how. 

Something is moving through. 
Something is moving through. 

While playing zombies for the thousandth time, 
your housemate says to the other men 
Bro, you know that feeling 
when you don’t feel anything, 
and sex doesn’t feel good anymore? 
Men always joke 
when what they mean to say is:
am I normal, or do I need help? 

We work in fits and starts, 
in fits and starts, we move on through. 
I present my feminist manifesto to my therapist 
and she says is it really that bad 
to pretend you’re having an ok time
if you’re having an ok time, 
which, I admit, was radically honest 
but too much for me to consider 
at the time. 
At the time, I turn 21. 
I don’t invite anyone to my birthday party 
directly, 
so that my friends have to 
prove themselves to me, 
which they do 
exceedingly, painfully well.

You say that at this point 
you are apathetic to the possibility 
that everything 
down to the last
blade of grass 
could change, at any moment 
and with no warning. 
I agree, though I have decided 
that my main fear
is that it already happened, 
and we haven’t been looking 
at what we thought we were looking at 
for many months now. 
And, when we bike 
through the cemetery at dusk
and the stranger yells 
No—
pleads—
Stop! 
People’s ancestors 
have laid their heads to rest 
right there, 
right there, 
really she is saying 
please respect the rules 
that remain 
unbreakable, 
such as:
do not disrespect graves, 
and always say thank you, 
and there is a cost for everything,
and desire, like energy,
cannot be created nor destroyed.

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