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masthead | social distancing creative writing contest | letter from the editors


issue 3

spring 2020

Cover By: Will Draxler



Featured Artist

Anonymous | The Academy at Charlemont '22

Anonymous | The Academy at Charlemont '23

Alison Blakeslee | Mohawk Trail Regional High School '20

Juliet Corwin | The Academy at Charlemont '22

Will Draxler | The Academy at Charlemont '21

Rachel Friedman | The Academy at Charlemont '23

Claire Grunberg | The Academy at Charlemont '20

Malia Hanes | Frontier Regional High School '21

Chanina Kosovske | The Academy at Charlemont '23

Ella LaMee | The Academy at Charlemont '21

Zanzy Rice-Reeves | Hartsbrook School '22

Rory Sweeting | The Academy at Charlemont '20

Third-Year Spanish Class | The Academy at Charlemont

Katarina Tobits | The Academy at Charlemont '20

Seamus Turner-Glennon | The Academy at Charlemont '22

Leo Wurgaft | The Academy at Charlemont '22

Dear readers,

Welcome to the spring 2020 issue of 2-West! We are proud to feature a diverse collection of incredible work in our third issue. Due to school closures and social distancing, we are finding new ways to foster creativity and collaboration between young writers in Western Massachusetts. This June, we will be holding a series of live readings on our Instagram account! It will be both a chance for writers to share their work in their own voice and an opportunity for questions and discussion within our community of readers and contributors. Enjoy our newest issue, and please check out @2westmag on Instagram for more information.


Thank you for reading!


The editors of 2-West

Solly Chase

Juliet Corwin

Claire Grunberg

Sophia Phillips

Josie Stavely

Linnea Zimmer



I was born with butterflies in my chest






My walls expand and contract furiously

But slowly


                My butterflies’ wings expand and contract 




Butterflies surrounding

my lungs 

                   my heart

        Butterflies surrounding me


Her butterflies protect her

                                        While they suffocate her

                                                 They allow her to breathe

They allowed her to breathe 

While shards of glass entered their wings

        They fought for her


A body lying helplessly in 

                                        a field

Stripped of skin




Salted winds whip over the body furiously


        Until the glass 

                Is forced to the center of that body

As an arrow forces itself upon any surface it desires 


So that when

        Deceivingly immortal butterflies awake

They can conceal the glass

                And fight again


The butterflies save her

        Until who once was me

                is nothing but glass

My Girl


So distracted by your presence that sheets fall off the bed and

Everybody in the house crawls to sleep unnoticed 

I am watching you sit there pixilated 

Busying your hands 

You don’t understand why I won’t let you see my girlish grin and giggle

I am not sure that my charm will carry through the screen

I ask you to make me a playlist 

What I mean is 

If I can’t come to you then I want to have something tangible attached to your memory 

I want it to be sampled from your stale bong water bubbling 

I want it to be the songs I catch you humming as you maneuver through your thoughts

And I want it to sound the way 

The Temptations: “My Girl” 

Made me feel when it would play over the speaker once during my 8 hour shift  

Because for 2 minutes and 52 seconds 

These anticipating hands could pause 

Something always assured me you’d be out there

Mud Season


I ask the moon

What do you know about love?

My tongue trips over my overbite 

She laughs 

The storm clouds part and surround her 

A pearl in an oyster 

The night sky is an ocean 

When the American flag whips relentlessly in the parking lot 

I could’ve sworn it sounded like waves crashing 

Notice how the wind sounds like water searching for lower ground sounds like cars speeding up

Legate hill sounds like applause for songs I’ll never get to sing 

Notice my grief is the cycle of precipitation 

Lonely is another word for sad like water and snow 

Notice the moss appeared dry but I’ve soaked my socks 

My sneakers are caked in mud 

I am so far from the ocean 

What do you know about love?

You’re just a baby



Full Moon


Hopeless Mask


Lackluster wisps of quiet emotion seep

underneath my nails which i try so hard

To keep clean of your silent hope that life

Continuously presses up to them 


Dull aching claws at my emotion that

The hopeless part of my brain feverishly 

overlooks, drowned in pounding music, but

The cold mask always cracks, eventually

Tipping the Scales


The snow falls heavily

its intent

is not passive,

Covering the world

in a frosted rage


Silence is temporary


As my true voice

is quiet

yet irredeemable in its volume,


My hands dull

and pale as bones



Because an untreated wound

becomes easily infected

and following suit

are the mind and eyes


It starts as a thought

an idea, reinforced

into the mind

by the goddess herself


It spreads

like growing bacteria

getting stronger

spreading to the subconscious


It distorts reality

turning water to wine

when there was no water

to begin with


and once you've fully succumbed

to the driven force of delusion

only then

are you promised paradise


as I look into the mirror

the irony of the dead of winter

being the fire growing inside me

full of only hatred


for that which I can see

I know is real,

and that which I can feel

I seek to destroy


But what is left

of a corpse who has no value to begin with

what is left

but an empty husk of bones

shivering in isolation

in the eye of the storm


after Stacy Szymaszek


face is burning       problem where

                                  it gets    red without



* * *


I sit with friends            in a restaurant

want to                            tell them                  SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS

                                                                            WE ALL HAVE THEM AND ARE OKAY

I feel my shoe laces    burn holes in feet    want to complain but don’t


* * *


yesterday man walks into library                   I’m behind the desk

says    “I was walking across the bridge        phone in pocket

        it drops out       lands on ice      it’s floating on the ice on       the Deerfield river

                                    and I gotta use a computer here! I gotta        email my girlfriend”

I set him up at the computer and                he                forgets the password to his



* * *



I am in my house        with three friends        I tell them to        BE QUIETER but

                                       I think I forgot to          say it because       they do not get



it is my annual        rereading of        Franny and Zooey    but I skip

        I make a friend read it        she says she        read most but

                                                         returns it             the 33rd page dog-eared


(I think        

                        IF THERE’S DISTANCE IN MY WRITING IT’S DISHONEST        

                                                                                                                                               so here)


* * *


I try not to write about        myself too much    

a teacher says it’s        SOLIPSISTIC

and it was    like last year    but now it’s necessary    :         

                                                                                    otherwise I will 

                                                                                                    ignore myself


* * *


friend keeps being “in a mood”        what crap!        I said nothing

        in car         but wanted to scream         SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS

                                                                            WE ALL HAVE THEM AND ARE OKAY

it has always been okay        for some friends to    mouth off but        NOT ME

                                                                                                                          NOT ME        but

                                                   I guess        that is old reputation

                                                   I am            going to college        and should shake it


                                                                                                            like maybe I’ll grow

                                                                                                            three feet there and                                            

                                                                                                            like the height


* * *


dream    :    in telling my friend what I didn’t mean to tell her        I embarrass



reality    :    having monopolized the aux cord        and imagined dirty looks        I

                     get home from school        I GOTTA WRITE THAT PAPER    

                                                                             so I just

                                                                             plop on the bed 

                     listen to Adrianne Lenker sing about how         THE TOY IN MY HAND / IS REAL

                                                                                                         and count the extra beats in    



I watch a movie with my mom        I never watch movies        I keep thinking

        I have a cold        and then it goes away        can it just let me know???


I spent ONE AUTUMN WEEK        (seemed like three)       reconsidering college apps

        was gonna apply elsewhere       sometimes I see a clerk

                                                                 at a shop

                                                                 and want to cry


                              my bullet journal    is my lifeline

                              I better not               lose it


* * *


every time I’m in one town       I avoid one bookstore

        but end up in it       every time              issue being

            I’m going to college there       next year       and don’t have $$$



fling your body across the empty pool 

swallow the deep lies that have been filling your mind 

follow the white lines that you drew for yourself 

watch as they lead right back to home 

home is where the heart is 

where the heart is is where the heart burns so empty so deep

but there’s a parasite within me 

digging into my every move 

every part of me is vandalized 

private property they say 

but when they stomp on the dirt 

destroying every regulation that you ever created

watch as the flowers wilt 

in your hands 

no matter how hard you try 

the sun won’t come out again 

instead you lie 

in a puddle of your disappointment 

for your mind is corrupted 

by the beings that call out your name 

in the night 

they grasp for any form of life they can get 

but you’ll shut the book 

wake up 

and start the day all over again 

The Mischief Maker


I wish I were as great as the mischief maker

For every step I take it takes three

For every leap I make it takes flight

I know my place,

But the mischief maker it has no place

It leaves when it wants to

And travels to places where I cannot go

I’m trapped

Where I can see true beauty

But never touch it.

Unlike the mischief maker.

The Last Elephant


straw-color Ground Grass Hills

*step* thump. *step* *step* Thump *step* thump.

*view* Prairie Prairie TREE

*step* thump *step* thump *step* *step* thump Thump Thump.

woody trunk *look up* Fleshy Leaves



water hole


*turn*     BANG

pain pain pain

*step* THUMP *step* *stepping* THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP. *turn*

large albino Monkey   Stick


*stepping* CLUMP Clump CLUMP clump thump *falling* WHUMPH

smiling kindly furious eyed large albino Monkey 

*see* *see* *see* *see* 


no see. See none.

There's a Million Stars in the Galaxie


Mike Rodgers rode his brand new Ford Galaxie 500 onto the dirty streets of New York City. He let his arm dangle out the window and tap the light blue doors. He rolled the car into an empty parking space in front of his brownstone in Chelsea. The Rodgers family lived comfortably thanks to Mike’s father’s will. Mike was a gym coach for the local elementary school and the back of his new car soon held several items of abused sports equipment. He was a generous father, and when his son wanted to impress his new girlfriend with a nice car, Mike tossed him the keys. The car withstood many date nights, several breakups, and many mistakes. One night, Mike drove to the bar to meet his buddy, Nick. He left his car a block away and hurried through the light rain into the bar. The two men talked and laughed, ordering drink after drink. After three beers, a glass of scotch, and a martini, Mike started chatting with a woman sitting alone. Mike bought her a couple of drinks and soon they were stumbling down the sidewalk to the car. He took her home a while later, then accompanied her to her apartment for more scotch. That hadn’t been the first mistress he’d taken. Thanks to his intoxicated state, Mike’s wife had no trouble deducing what had happened when he returned. Within the month she packed up and left, taking the car as punishment. But driving the car she’d been betrayed in was difficult and she sold it, taking the money to start her life again. 

        Jackson Nivil signed his name Jimmy Hawkins and gave the salesman back his clipboard. After all, Jackson Nivil had just spent a night in prison after totaling his car in an illegal drag race in Queens. He tossed his briefcase in the backseat of his used Ford Galaxie 500 and drove to his first client of the day. He’d be Jimmy for the day. At least until he got out of the state. Cash was not hard to come by for Jimmy— sometimes he surprised himself by how much money he swindled out of desperate addicts for some tainted powder. He smoked as he drove, the windows kept closed until he had to throw the cigarette away. He liked how the smoke smelled. Jimmy pulled in front of a fire hydrant, grabbed his briefcase, and jumped out of the car. He ran into the apartment building, ignoring the doorman, and squeezed through the closing elevator doors. He pressed the button for the fifth floor. Jimmy ran a hand through his hair and hugged his briefcase to his chest, tapping his fingers on it. His eyes darted over every person, from the black heels of a housewife to the cap of a young boy. He shifted from leg to leg and opened and fiddled with the combination lock on his briefcase, ignoring the annoyed and confused looks from those around him. They reached the fifth floor and Jimmy jogged down the carpeted hallway to door 79. Someone sneezed behind the door and it opened a moment later. A disheveled man answered the door and his eyes found the briefcase before his mouth found a greeting. He murmured a hello to Jimmy while watching the case hungrily. Jimmy began to speak, but the man put a finger to his lips and pointed inside. There was someone in the apartment with him. Jimmy began to walk away motioning for the man to follow him, and he did. They went back to the ground floor, past the angry doorman, and into Jimmy’s still-running car. The man picked out his drug, took some for the road, then handed Jimmy a stack of fifties. Jimmy tapped the powder into a small paper bag, then handed it to him. The man stared at the contents, then tucked it away in his robe before scurrying off into the building. Jimmy pulled out onto the street towards the nearest empty street and never saw the man again. Jimmy loved drag races. He loved the thrill of nearly clipping buildings, spitting smog in the face of the other cars. He wanted to see how well this car was on the open road. So, he took her for a spin around the block. Jimmy lost control of the car, taking a 90 miles-per-hour corner, and went on the sidewalk, scraping between an old building and the bus stop awning. He pulled out of the tight squeeze, scraping off half the paint in the process, and decided it was time to see his next client. Jimmy did the same thing he always did when he saw a client: pulled up along the sidewalk— this time in front of a closed jewelry store—left the car running, went into the apartment building, found the apartment, did his job, then hopped back in. But, while Jimmy was only on his second client of the day, his brand new, used and recently banged up car was stolen.

        Danny Basin was proud of his car. He’d worked hard for it. In order for him to convince his dad to let him drive, he had to get a job, get a car, and get at least a C in math. He had a job at the gas station, he’d gotten that C in math thanks to his “friend” Rodney, and someone had left a nice Ford Galaxie running on the side of the street. He wasn’t going to pass up such an opportunity. Lacy was impressed. She sat in the shotgun, nodding her head along with the music playing from the radio. Danny turned his eyes off the road for a second and grabbed some beer in the back. He offered her one, before gulping down his own. It had taken a lot to convince Lacy to go out with him that night. When he pulled up to her house in the suburbs, she’d been less than impressed at the state of the car. It looked like it had been through a lot. The interior reeked of cigarette smoke, there was white stuff all over the floor, the outside was a bit banged up. What once might have been a pretty robin’s egg blue, was now a scraped up, dirtier blue. Lacy finally agreed and then began to drive out to the country. Danny drank his fourth beer and gripped the steering wheel harder as he tried to keep the road in focus. Lacy pulled out a pack of cigarettes from her purse and put one in her lips. She leaned towards him. She wanted a light. Danny found his lighter in his pocket and looked over at her to light the cigarette. He felt the car swerve and pulled it back onto the correct side of the road. He pulled at the seat belt around his waist. It was tight and uncomfortable. He unbuckled it and enjoyed his freedom. Lacy left the windows closed as she smoked. It burned Danny’s eyes, but he didn’t dare ask Lacy to stop. Whatever made her feel comfortable. His vision blurred and he rubbed his eyes. Danny got onto the bridge and drank some more beer to wet his mouth. He could almost taste Lacy’s cigarette. Lacy watched the river out her window, remarking on the beauty of the water. The road moved and swayed and Danny closed his eyes, dizzy. When he opened them, it was in response to the sound the car made smashing through the fence on the side of the bridge. The car sunk just slow enough for the young couple to figure out how to escape, but fast enough to drown them before they could. The car joined too many others at the bottom of the river, the water washing it of its history.

Quarantine Diary


Quarantine Diary (feel free to heavily, heavily edit this if you feel like it’s too NSFW)


Day 1: Just finished loading the last of my 864 rolls of toilet paper into the bathtub. I don’t even know why I bought so many, only that I had to rush home because an angry mob of Karens was chasing me down. I’ve locked all of the doors, restocked the fridge, and have a list of like a thousand movies and TV shows to watch for god-knows how long I have to spend cooped up in here.


Day 2: Called my parents. They’re doing fine, but they seem to think that this is all a hoax by the Democrats to impeach Trump. I stopped the call before they could start some political argument. On the bright side, I’m really getting into “House of Cards,” though I cringe whenever Spacey’s on screen, which is like 90% of the show. 


Day 5: Uh oh! The boss wants me to do some online conference call or something. Since I want income, I reluctantly obliged, but turned the volume on my TV up to like a hundred to indicate my displeasure.


Day 12: Ticked off my first five shows. This morning, I was going to make myself some lasagna when I noticed that the fridge was like a third empty. I’ve started rationing now, down to two meals a day, maybe one if I get past half of the original stockpile. 


Day 20: Aaaarrggghhhh!!! I just lost my job. The economy’s torpedoing, so they decided to “trim off some of the fat.” Is that supposed to be an insult? 168 lbs is respectable. I weigh less than half of the kids in the average fifth grade class. Screw this! And speaking of fat people, wonder how Trump’s screwing this up.


Day 37: Aaaaaaaaaaaaand there goes my last show! Everything’s still shut down. I have nothing to do. And yes, future reader, I could probably do what you’re doing, but I’m a simple man, I don’t think I own a single book. Also, I never bothered paying for anything other than Netflix, ‘cause damn that whole streaming wars bull. While I wait for my parents to respond, I’m gonna try and look for new job listings.


Day 54: Down to a third of my original food supply. I got a job, though. Some French firm that professes to sell organs online. At first I was like ‘this is really sketchy’, but then, I saw that it was just church organs. No one’s going to church anymore, but I was like, screw it, I need the money. Got Duolingo to learn how to speak to my colleagues. P.S. My parents haven’t called in weeks, and I’m starting to see shadows in the hallway at night.


Day 69: Heh! Had my first meeting with my coworkers today. We all spoke in English for the most part, but this one hot girl, I think her name is Emilie, encouraged me to learn some more French. I’ll try writing some down here: Bonjour, je suis Terrance. Vive la quarantine!


Day 91: I lost 30 pounds!!!! Who knew that only eating the crusts of a single loaf of bread for the past 29 days could do that. But I need to be ready. Because today my mom came, but she looked different. Rabid, almost. I didn’t let her in. Has the virus mutated? I don’t know, I stopped following the news when the Italians overthrew the capitalist system and named the Sandwich Man I saw when I went to Pisa for work a few years ago as their king.


Day 100: As my 13-year-old niece who I haven’t seen in over a year would say, omg happy 100!!!!!! Lately, I’ve been having private conversations with Emilie, and she’s told me I should start writing down stuff in French. For example: le mort péage vient de surpassait trois million.


Day 136: Emilie and I are engaged! This is the best day of my life! Also, je pense chuis voyant plus zombis!


Day 160: chuis écrivant exclusivement en français maintenant en préparation pour le marriage.  Mais chuis en bas au dix bouffe articles, et le télé juste montre friture.


Jour 205: Emilie et je vient de passe un plaisant heure du cocher conversation. Je pense elle effectivement vient dans ma chambre, textuellement marchant hors de l’ordinateur. Mais tout je voyait quand je réveillait était le' même vieux blanc murs.


Jour 227: C’était censé le jour de nos marriage, mais quand je rappelait à Emilie, elle juste disait quelque chose en quelconque baragouin langue que sonnait comme ‘Faque of you crezi pevoeutte’ et prétendait qu’elle jamais encore parlait au m’hors d’œuvre.  Je vient de revevait virait, le zombis sont partout, chuis tout à court de bouffe, à moi.


Jour 254: Ce vient de venait à l'idée que chuis ne écrivant pas en grammaticaement correct français, juste quelconque mots bricolé d’un mot pour mot anglais translation pour l’intention de sonnant intègre. Les ombres sont de retour, ils sont frappent sur ma port, chuis mangeant toilet paper, à moi!


Jour 300: L’horloge s’arrêtait. Je perdu voie de temps. Rien je peux mange, je mangerai, même si je vomis il retour. Pourquoi suis j’encore écrivant ce, l’Internet s’éteignait jadis. 


Day 339: I’m going back to English now, ALL QUARANTINE AND NO PLAY MAKE TERRANCE A DULL BOY ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE TERRANCE A DULL BOY yadda yadda yadda, I’m not that insane TERRANCE GO CRAZY I’m making use of this time HELP I’VE RESORTED TO COPROPHAGIA Just staring blankly out my window DON’T GOOGLE IT IF YOU STILL HAVE INTERNET


Day 365: Woo-hoo, happy quaranniversary. I’m morbidly underweight, living in squalor, subsisting on pigeons that I catch every once in a while, haven’t spoken to anyone since I got fired. Well guess it’s time to hand myself over to the zombies. Their moaning’s starting to sound an awful lot like, “pay the goddamn rent already.”


Day 420: Terrance would have laughed at this, but I’m above this. I’m Ophelia, Terrance’s sister. If you’re wondering where he went, he’s fine, gonna leave the hospital in a week or two. If you’re reading this in the distant future, the coronavirus pandemic peaked at around the point where he “got a job.” Mom and Dad recovered; others weren’t so lucky. When we were told that it was safe to leave our homes, Mom went to go and talk to Terrance, but he wouldn’t open the door. Then we tried to call him, but he never answered his phone. After several months, his landlord got involved, but I successfully persuaded him to hold off on eviction until I could get through. We never did, but still we kept coming to his door, begging for an answer, until one day he ran out, skeletal, wearing nothing but underwear, covered in a reddish-brown substance that makes me nauseous just to think about. We immediately took him to the nearest hospital, which transferred him to a mental health center due both to his insanity and to the fact that they were still recovering from the pandemic. While they were treating him, the police gave us access to his diary. I’ll finish this off by clearing a few things up: firstly, Italy doesn’t have a Sandwich King, he’s a democratically elected leader who just so happened to formerly advertise for a sandwich shop. Second, the French organ firm that Terrance claimed to work for doesn’t exist, and I suspect that he was so mad by that point that his mind started to rip off Joker, which he had apparently watched on repeat for twelve straight days. And I shouldn’t even have to say this, but there are no zombies, the world is fine. Bro, I love you, hope you have a full recovery. 



My Friend, Do Not Die

translated from the Spanish


Amiga, no te mueras

De Pablo Neruda


Amiga, no te mueras.

Óyeme estas palabras que me salen ardiendo,

y que nadie diría si yo no las dijera.

Amiga, no te mueras.

Yo soy el que te espera en la estrellada noche.

El que bajo el sangriento sol poniente te espera.

Miro caer los frutos en la tierra sombría.

Miro bailar las gotas del rocío en las hierbas.

En la noche al espeso perfume de las rosas,

cuando danza la ronda de las sombras inmensas.

Bajo el cielo del Sur, el que te espera cuando

el aire de la tarde como una boca besa.

Amiga, no te mueras.

Yo soy el que cortó las guirnaldas rebeldes

para el lecho selvático fragante a sol y a selva.

El que trajo en los brazos jacintos amarillos.

Y rosas desgarradas. Y amapolas sangrientas.

El que cruzó los brazos por esperarte, ahora.

El que quebró sus arcos. El que dobló sus flechas.

Yo soy el que en los labios guarda sabor de uvas.

Racimos refregados. Mordeduras bermejas.

El que te llama desde las llanuras brotadas.

Yo soy el que en la hora del amor te desea.

El aire de la tarde cimbra las ramas altas.

Ebrio, mi corazón. Bajo Dios, tambalea.

El río desatado rompe a llorar y a veces

se adelgaza su voz y se hace pura y trémula.

Retumba, atardecida, la queja azul del agua.

Amiga, no te mueras!

Yo soy el que te espera en la estrellada noche,

sobre las playas áureas, sobre las rubias eras.

El que cortó jacintos para tu lecho, y rosas.

Tendido entre las hierbas yo soy el que te espera!

My Friend, Do Not Die

By Pablo Neruda

Translated by Nick Clark, Ruby Chase, Elaina Gibb-Buursma, Cristy Kasbo, Lane Moore, and Leo Wurgaft


My friend, do not die.

Listen to my burning words,

Words that only I can say. 

My friend, do not die.  

I am the one who waits for you in the starry night.

I am the one who waits for you under the blood red sunset.

I look at the fruits falling onto shaded earth.

I look at the dewdrops dancing on the grass.

In the night the thick perfume of roses

dances around the immense shadows. 

Beneath the southern sky, the one who waits for you when

the air becomes like kissing lips in the afternoon.

My friend, do not die. 

I am the one who cut the rebel garland 

for the woodland bed that smells of sun and forest.

The one who brought in my arms yellow hyacinths.

And torn roses. And blood red poppies.

The one who crossed his arms in waiting for you, now.

The one who broke his bows. The one who bent his arrows.

I am the one who on his lips holds the taste of grapes. 

Cleaned clusters. Animal bites.

Who calls to you from the flowering plains.

In the hour of love I am the one who desires you. 

The afternoon air rings through the high branches.

My inebriated heart staggers beneath God.

Sometimes the uncontrolled river bursts out and and cries

its dwindling voice, growing pure and tremulous.

The blue complaint of the water, resound and dusk.

My friend, do not die!

I am the one waiting for you in the starry night,

over golden beaches, over brighter times.

The one who cut hyacinths and roses for your bed.

Lying among the grasses I am the one who waits for you!

Dream Poem


I held a dream

And in my voice it cried:

“Blow you white sands

And sail forth!


Hair first

Through the crowded streets of

Pool noodles and sunlight!”

And certain

That I was being watched

I dove into the water.


The summer filled my eyes

I staggered like a shadow

I mustn’t let the light

Into my thoughts

I merely need it to see.

Keeping words in my head,

I fell through

The half-weightlessness


The words keep me company:

Sex, dander

Love, being lost


In discomfort.

Utterances of simplicity such as:





I love you

And in this way I drift and gallop


But these words, these friends

Fell out of my head like water,

And despite my efforts

I inevitably soon forget.


I came to music

And I was in my own home

And I thought:

“This is the live experience”


Folks I did not


Playing and singing with



The percussionist

Was the quietest

And I noted:

The percussion must ne’er waver:

The quietest ones are the steadiest.


And we talked of outer space

And there we were

Voices like bells

Ringing clear from our lips


“It is I who brings the white sand!”


But soon

The voices fade

And I wonder

Will my dreams remember me

When I am gone



I awoke and it was Thursday

It always snows on Thursdays

So I stayed in bed.

The Boy


A shirtless boy runs his fingers through watches through my window glances at my dirty laundry on my floor late afternoon sun kisses his face like I did last night he scribbles in his worn notebook


I remember we waltzed in my room the perpetual cave at midnight I retrieved my bottle from my little secret floorboard my shoes came off I pressed my palm into his chest collapsed into my armchair rolled onto my floor and slept there


His muscles are too big for child’s I sit back after walking in the breeze like some white dress-clad nymph we sit in silence tick tock goes my clock night casts its blanket over the sky


His lips close around his cigarette to prove some worth exhales I watch almost wanting something


I shake those thoughts away offer up splendidly a drink and “Shut up, you’re not who I want” for good measure


My black eye makeup drip drip drips away with my tears cigarette sears into my thigh but I didn’t mean it


I’ve never loved someone without telling them


My walls are littered with words


His hand grips my arm twisting me as he pleases


His yellowed teeth spit out my name


His breath makes those thoughts return and


This man is no longer a boy.


But I will tolerate no silence.


My scars will fade with eternity.


His amber eyes will please me no longer.


I will burn my sticky notes my taped up memo pad pages my thoughts and poetry in my backyard while my red dress fits perfectly.


I will remember I was independent strong looking like an actress holding the power of grace in my wine glass filled with water.


My clothing won’t hide my sloughed-off chest running wild chase those birds to his clouds that were above his house on his day in his year of our lives.


Nothing I say will make sense to him anymore dies in my arms looks at me looks at me smiles to the liking of a word I spoke fades to the earth but will be reborn when I walk into that big empty room after my last show which I will never do again.


My carpet will be cleaned my walls scrubbed my arm chair replaced to get rid of his smoke stench as I leave for college boxed up with a bow to forget what we had I will move to a different state and what I will do there I don’t know I just hope he doesn’t follow.


I will only leave behind the sharpied song lyrics in my bathroom lest I forget what melodies melted with my youth.


I will walk down my ghost town streets once more my sunglasses atop my head my hair whipping in the warm breeze.


I will say goodbye and it will be scrawled into his worn notebook.

Throwing Knives at Aliens


There’s a scene part way through Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers—you know the one. Ace Levy (Jake Busey, the disappointingly sane son of Gary), a relatively new recruit to the Mobile Infantry, a twenty-third-century military organization controlled by the United Citizen Federation. Levy and a group of  near-identical male, caucasian cadets in their early–mid twenties, all clad in drab gray uniforms topped with berets, are being trained in knife-throwing. Ace’s throw proves itself to be weak and his arrow falls to the ground, missing his target entirely. He becomes frustrated with the exercise itself, challenging his drill sergeant on the validity of the exercise itself, asking what the point of knife throwing is in a military dedicated to the extermination of enormous bug aliens using twenty-third-century military-grade weaponry really is. In response, the sergeant throws a knife directly through Ace’s hand, stating that “the enemy cannot push a button if you disable his hand.”

        There are a lot of things Verhoeven utterly nails in this scene, but one that seems to be discussed less is this: Ace is more or less right. We’re often told that war “isn’t like video games,” but the war that actually matters in a contemporary setting kind of is. Whether or not we like to admit it, we could cut out probably half of our troops in the U.S. without materially changing much beyond our bases being empty. The overwhelming majority of our military action takes place via drone strikes and remote missile attacks, largely carried out on civilians overseas. Warfare has been nearly entirely redefined from what it used to be known as, and it’s been on that trajectory since the First World War. As we develop more and more sophisticated methods of mass slaughter, the traditional idea of the soldier becomes less and less legitimately necessary for war to exist.  And this isn’t to argue that I’ve figured out something here that the U.S. government is still in the dark about—the military is not only very well aware of  this reality but is probably the single biggest practitioner of this style of warfare worldwide. 

        So why do we even bother hiring even half the troops we currently do? There are a number of reasons. The first, and most simplistic, is this: the U.S.A. is, and has been for quite a while, the largest empire in the world. We are both imperialist in the Leninist sense (imperialism as the most evolved form of capitalism) and in the traditional sense of quite literally being a capital-E Empire in the manner of the British or Mongolian empires of old. But, to truly maintain an empire, it’s as important to maintain support among the citizens as it is to maintain control of the territories controlled overseas. Not just lazy complacency but actual rabid support and enthusiasm about the expansion and maintenance of the empire. Realistically, no working class American is gonna get actively excited about what we really do, and that’s where The TroopsTM  come in. The specific combination of the constant reminders from nearly all forms of mass media that the troops are heroes, they should be celebrated, they’re out there protecting us from transgender Muslim Nazis or something with the fact that you can talk to a soldier and, on an individual level, that person may be a nice human being who likes the same her as you or something is a pretty potent little propaganda stew, one that the U.S. propaganda market has taken full advantage of, in at least some capacity, dating back to the early 1900s if not earlier. 

        But the troops exist for another reason as well. Effectively, they serve the same purpose overseas for the U.S. that the police serve domestically: sociopolitical control. But, while the U.S. police force exists primarily to protect the sanctity of private property both materially and conceptually, the military serves the interests of global capitalism and imperialism. We station soldiers in countries we have a vested interest in economically. We send our soldiers into countries like Grenada and Chile to send the message that if you dare to consider the use of economic resources and capital in a way that is designed to benefit the people as opposed to leaving them to rot in the name of international neoliberalism we can and will inflict horrors upon them whether they like it or not. 

        And, even though we know that we could just bomb these countries we so often choose not to, because at the end of the day the things that CIA agents and U.S. soldiers can and damn well will do make a bombing sound fun by comparison. Because that’s the real secret to all of this: it’s about conditioning our troops to be as cruel as possible in the name of capitalism and in the name of the U.S. empire. It’s about throwing knives at aliens. 

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