S N A P S AN UNDERGRADUATE ENGLISH SOCIETY PRODUCTION
A Poetry Chapbook From the Undergraduate English Society Editor-in-Chief Akshi Chadha Editors Britney Forget Elizabeth Casciaro Destiny Hopkins Mary Hamilton Isabella Elias Aruljothie Muraleetharan Graphic Design Niveen Abasse Publications Manager Isabella Elias General Members Faith Caswell Abby Robitaille
The Coterie Westernâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Undergraduate English Society
Letter from the Editor SNAPS was founded when I was a simple first-year Coterie member. Now in my final year, I am thrilled to be editing its third volume. SNAPS was created for the love of poetry—in all its glorious shapes, colors, and forms. I have written poetry for as long as I can remember and, as a poet, I find poetry to be one of the most piercing forms of writing. People often commend poems for their rawness but I personally find there is nothing as calculated and precise as a good poem. Every word holds so much power and care—it’s electrifying. It is thus my pleasure to share with you the following poems that these wonderful writers entrusted to us. Poems like these are a testament to the fact that in even in impossible times, we empower ourselves through the written word. These poems speak, sing, and incant vulnerability, strength, and repossession of the self and I am glad we are able to bear witness to these personal moments in art. To that end, I thank all the contributors, the editors, and, of course, the readers of this volume. I hope you enjoy and feel inspired by this poetic venture. Wishing you a happy reading experience! Akshi Chadha Editor-in-Chief
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CONTENTS Rahm [Mercy] By Ayman Kazi
My Mother, Nature By Breton Lim
cool mint By Courtney WZ
Unknown Beauty By Zahra Musa
Reflections of My Mirrored Mind By Vicky Chang
Photograph By Rylee Loucks
thirteenth By Marc-André Blanchard
First Impressions By Abigail Scott
Cottage Mornings By Rachel Fawcett
Chrysalis Girl By Izzy Siebert
Thinking About Breathing By Marc-André Blanchard
Defiance By Brianna Reeve
forevermore By V. M. Somersette
My Mother’s Arms By Sarah Brennan
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Rare Books By Abigail Scott
Coffee Time By Sofia Spagnuolo
Autofocus By Rylee Loucks
Going Under By Mandela Massina
Skinny By Brianna Reeve
Little Box in the Sky By Sorina Leila
Dear God, By Gray Brogden
Ode to the Pink Blazer By Nicole Paldino
And So Bloomed the Rose By Aruljothie Muraleetharan
Floodlight By Jessica Moyra Szoros
Not a Poem By Marc-AndrÃ© Blanchard
Stargaze By Mackenzie Emberley
The Open Closet By Sofia Spagnuolo
A Sound? A Peep? Solely Darkness By Wasan Haider
MAiD By Isabella Kennedy
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Rahm [Mercy] By Ayman Kazi Winner of The Coterie’s Annual Poetry Slam 2020
This is for the mothers of war. For the women from whom war has taken everything. For the women who hold the last hopes of war. This is for the women of Afghanistan and Iran Of Syria and Libya, or Iraq and Yemen. This is for the mothers of the past, the future and the present. This is for you. Womb | رﺣ ﻢ The silence came to a screeching halt, when she began screeching. Soon her screeches turned into screams and her screams ripped the cosmos to shreds. Her cries the sound of cities burning to the ground. The sheer desperation and despair in her voice broke every single person around her. And in the most terrifyingly beautiful way, her cries gave us a peek into her soul. Her pain a spectacular spectacle. Making us feel things we had never felt before. Her son had died. He had died and there was nothing she could do about it. Her little boy was no more. And we could feel that in her ballad to the heavens. In her plea for a miracle woven in threads of hate. In every emotion she felt, we bore witness. Stunned. Awed. Ashamed. I could have sworn that in her deafening screams, I could see the rhythm of her soul. I could feel the colour of her pain. And what a colour. It was the colour of loss, of hate, of despair. It was the colour of hopelessness with the slightest hue of hope for the impossible. Short-lived. And we watched. In a trance. Too afraid to make a move and break the scene unfolding before us. Just as she, we were trapped. Not in a scream, but by one. It was not until the chains were gone that we realized that we’d been bound, breathless. That's when we saw it. She was no longer a person. Only an object. Broken. She lay upon her son's body for she had exhausted every avenue, every cell of her being, in her pleas for resurrection. Mute. The only word in my mind as silence took over once more. Mute were her efforts. Her screams muted by her exhaustion. Her eyes red and puffy. Her face tear-struck. She wasn't wearing any mascara. I don't know why I noticed that but there was no mascara, no lipstick. Her face was bare, her exposition exposing her innermost thoughts. Visible to anyone wanting to observe. Only no observation could be made. For even in her silence she held us captive. A ghost. That's what she was. A ghost. Alive? Sure. Her heartbeat still pure. But her eyes were dead. Her soul diminished. She was gone. She was gone for she had failed. She had failed for her son was lost. Her son was lost for WE had failed. For we had chosen to look away. For we had chosen to let things stay… the same as they have for generations. We had killed her. And she had died. Long before the second bullet left the gun. Long before the second bullet crushed through her skull, cruised through her brain and came out the other end. She was dead long before we heard the second gunshot.
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And time was lost. It could have been hours, seconds, minutes, days, weeks, years, months that that moment lasted. Only it didn’t matter anymore. For time was lost upon that broken woman. For her son had died. He had died and there was nothing she could do about it. Her little boy was no more. And in that endless moment, in her infallible failure, she had died with him. A broken woman on the broken pavement in that broken city. Mother no longer.
My Mother, Nature By Breton Lim Winner of The Coterie’s Annual Poetry Slam 2020 Obsidian haze, murky swamp; a green gleam upon layers of bubbled up algae and decaying flesh of the rotted fish down below— visions I recall from dreams I’d dreamt in past lives and pungent toads, spotted and patterned, darted violent attacks with their tongue to open my ignorant eyes awake. AWAKE. Repetitive, repetitive. The riled stallion, pawing and stomping. My hands grab fistfuls of coarse mare mane; expecting foul clumps, sticky like tar, and chaotic energy to awake the purpling of undercurrents up my throat and out my eyes to see and to taste. To taste the underside of a brown sugar cube, to dream my mother’s dream of her tropical green homeland: sun-patches to catch and paper boats over flooded drains bobbing like apples. Obsidian waves of unrest glared her glare, pointed their finger. “Powerless single, never planted a tree.” Repetitive cycle from ear to ear and above my head: the picture of a broken audio cassette. Surround sound worries and anxieties in monster cars skidding donuts around my head; glazed icing and the ones with the multi-coloured sprinkling- mouth stays zipped and eyes stay blind. I sleep, and I sleep, to see a little more, and to speak a little less. When I awake, my ceiling is always black the smell of rotting flesh ever stronger.
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cool mint By Courtney WZ your fist wrings the tube, choking the plastic until it coughs up paste of gelid blue. your arm lurches like a fiddler, veins erupting, brushing back and forth so fiercely my wince is instinct. I smother my bristles, shove the brush into my throat and almost choke from the mintâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hit. I prick at my bloated gums, drool pooling in my cheek pockets as froth drips down my chin. at opposing sides of a vanity, my spew splatters the left basin but you spit harder, always in the right. your foot flicks at the door like at a pest on a shoe. eyes needling into mine, you leave the foam bubbles to pop like pimples in the sink. I count the tiles past our bed room. your body has already fallen onto the double bed with the single pillow. again.
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Unknown Beauty By Zahra Musa Look towards the Zawa Mountain and see the bright yellow orb shine through the rigid peaks. Hand stretches out and grabs the last piece of naan on the plate. Lying on the luscious prickly yellow-green grass and waiting. The traditional breakfast is being prepared as we lie here. The scrambled eggs get wrapped up with a slice of oven fresh bread. Feel the hot yolk and warm soft naan run down your throat. Scalding black cha washes it down. Chirp Chirp The breakfast engulfs your sinuses and so does the tobacco. The unknown beauty of a land we cannot call a country.
Reflections of My Mirrored Mind By Vicky Chang A glance over the sunless barren land. The bombed village left me homeless again. No matter how I reach through the gray smoke, To grasp on to peace rather than a gun, My war-torn home beckons me once more, To survive under the chemical skies. Bombs rain down over a helpless childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cry. Yesterday, a paradise, gone today. For which I hope to live another day, To be the change and difference in mankind, The end of violence and innocent deaths, Hold true to reflections of my mirrored mind.
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Photograph By Rylee Loucks see blues, yellows, greens, reds, oranges, browns, whites deep dark musk but still light, fresh air, flowers, smoke from the pit the air is crisp, fresh like apples, but not quite apple season jackets but somehow still skin-on-skin a good friend many the first time there has been many they expect you to join them you should relish it, the moment of them documenting something important to them, something to keep in the back of their mind for when they forget you she brushes her hair out of the way but her face is covered one looks like sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dancing the other is showing something on her jacket the boys are dancing, imaginary music, they all look important to each other people smoking cigarettes, laugh at you for tripping as you step back away from them to get close to them donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let go of the idea of them
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thirteenth By Marc-AndrĂŠ Blanchard toes talon around the rim of the diving board bodies boon in juxtapositions of razor limbs and baby fat jokes crackle like fire at the feet all the clothes now speak an odyssey froths below a plunge of germ throats groan, knuckles tap the silver bars from behind streams of sun cook the bare napes the optic body now bloodshot to plummet pushed or unpushed
First Impressions By Abigail Scott Wine is a comforting warmth, The kind that settles evenly through your limbs, Lulling you gently with a soporific hum. Cider is a crisp, fizzy snap, Making laughter bubble up from my belly, And turning my cheeks red like the apples it comes from. Gin is sophisticated, Herbs and pine coating my tongue, Cut by the cool bite of tonic water And the bright zing of lime. And vodka, Vodka is smooth and cold, Leaving a spicy burn at the back of my throat That reminds me of frozen fingers warming up With an almost painful tingle.
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Cottage Mornings By Rachel Fawcett Standing at the water’s edge where the reflection of tree-painted mountains meets the cool damp sand the girl waits gazing out over the kilometer-wide mirror. The wind’s arms caress her cheeks as its breath ripples the perfection. Turning from the wavering image the girl looks up to watch the film of white mist parting as the moose gently moves through the distant marsh. A beam of light reaches over the eastern peak followed by a bird’s song dancing on the air signaling the arrival of morning.
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Chrysalis Girl By Izzy Siebert The dawn-born desire to restart was morning routine, Instead of coffee, I poured the scalding idea into the basin of my skull And convinced myself a blank beginning was the only way to change. Not so with you. You reinvented yourself with the rising of the sun, And shed snakeskin layers by the light of the moon. You didn’t bother with the chrysalis, You sprung fully formed from your own mind. I couldn’t. When I broke open this shell from the inside out, I emerged another nesting-doll self, Wearing the same face as the girl I was before. You tried to teach me how to split my ribs, how to unzip my chest, How to walk away from my skins, as if I could leave versions of myself behind so easily. But you couldn’t see, Even then, I was still too much like me.
Thinking About Breathing By Marc-André Blanchard It isn’t always a death or a near-death sometimes it’s the slow pull back on a playground swing a puff of rice pudding melting in your mouth as the table clears after dinner whatever it is it breathes lets deaf eyes lap light to see webs of silver snowflakes fracted like crystals cast against a net unseen a scream across the body’s sky
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Defiance By Brianna Reeve creeping vines up a brick wall, slow but persistent in their crawl. at first, just small green sprouts but then they grew; those weeds became tall as wild grasses. natural in their growth, roots buried beneath the earth, thriving in a lush environment meant for others. the hardy grasses sprouting in between the cobblestones outside my English lecture, waving at me on my walk home. I looked for the weeds everywhere I went-I noticed them on my porch, poking their leaves through pavement cracks. in carefully manicured gardens, existing in defiance of all the beautiful flowers. I suppose my heart will always be soft for wild things that grow unbothered, planting themselves wherever they desire.
forevermore By V. M. Somersette For what once was but could not last is laden in this looking glass. Searched assurance always fails, and vibrant worlds up close are pale. To be the learned traveler is only but a ruse. Better yet to blindly go and admit you cannot choose. These worlds were never made for you, as weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re from fairer shores. So close your eyes and onward dream. And search forevermore.
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My Mother’s Arms By Sarah Brennan Tears Hold me Tight Sweat and sweet Soft pillows Of Your fat Weary hands Smooth Snarls, curl Don’t leave I Plead, linger Tears hot and Salt Gone now Emptiness Years Fly swift But now I Hold, touch A dry wrinkle
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Rare Books By Abigail Scott The pressure drops with every step, The air cooling against my skin as we descend. Here, the subterranean caverns hold no rocks or rare minerals, But something infinitely more precious. They hold words and ideas And the imprints of souls. Cracked spines, gold-edged pages, curling script, Thick paper and leather, Dead languages whispering their secrets to the still, dry air. You have no choice but to speak with quiet reverence here; There are too many unspoken words pressing in around you, Waiting to be read. I’d be happy to stay, Wedge myself in between the shelves, And willingly drown myself in treatises, plays, prose. But reality calls, as it always does, And the clanging cries of deadlines and homework Drag me back to the surface. But there’s a quiet part of me that’s still there among the books, Breathing in the dusty smell of parchment, Running my fingers over aged spines, Marveling at the wealth of this place. And I am in love.
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Coffee Time By Sofia Spagnuolo A cliché coffee shop with a dirty window waits for movement. A wrinkled man sits almost close enough to touch his rough skin. He glances over the pages in his book, immersed in the ink and rusty paper. A sigh. A glance. He puts his receipt bookmark between the pages, $3.99 at a thrift store. His hand trembles as he stares into the street. He looks back down into the words and slams the book shut. “Your life is worth living” reads the cover. He rushes out the door into the heavy air. Sometimes existing sucks.
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Autofocus By Rylee Loucks You are out of f o c u s. Blurred like a photo taken with a lens that needs to be cleaned. I look at you and the light catches, flaring across the photo. It obscures you. I can see you, I know you are there but I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see all of you. I am too close to you. From the night we first met, where we dipped our feet in the lake, testing our waters, with two rocky shores that fit haphazardly together just like our fingers did as your hand slipped into mine; to the time you brought me butterbeer. I still have the cap to that bottle clinking in the bottom of my movie ticket box, littered with paper slip evidence. The time I made fun of your arms for being too long for your body; youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve grown since then. You are out of f o c u s. Blurred in my eyes as I look over your shoulder at your face. As I hug you from behind, I see the tiny details; the small red veins, stretching like licorice twists, standing out against the whites of your eyes and the stray black hairs that were missed when you trimmed your eyebrows. There is so much obscuring you but I see all of you. And none of you, all at once.
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Going Under By Mandela Massina Hunter hunting some gatherers, wait for gathering Preparing his spear, a fresh cut after the lathering Pride in furs that covered my tribes, Leo lavishness, Fruits of the jungle used to produce more savages From hollow to hollow, my whole tribe is nomadic More Morgan Moscato, take a dose like some addicts Frat House of Hades, souls roll in through the attic Flames they flicker, screams drown out the language Shadows all in a panic, grabbing and dancing on walls Of stones, you get stoned if you not stoned 'till you drop So make like a rock and sink down to the bottom Morgan demands you swim, if you don't it's a problem Looking for courage, Morgan helps you find it If her wave’s fine, go on dive in Dip your toes in, don’t be a sucker Cuz it's one of those nights, we’re all going under It’s one of those nights, we’re all going under Underwater grottos, the stones glisten with sweat Base shakes the cave all night, it's breaking a sweat Hunter’s hand waves, her body rolls, their faces are flushed From the blood, vampires suck out of their red cups Hunter’s dying, dehydrated, lurking and getting thirsty Try to make her splash tell my bros by eleven-thirty Swishing of my digits make her swoon I drown in Morgan, leaving Jack and Dan in a whirlpool Still waters run deep, how do puddles rock boats? Swimming through dirty pools, but if I don't float? Who will pick up a teardrop that fell in the ocean? Oh well, Spotify streams on, here I am flowing
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Skinny By Brianna Reeve Malnourished, the doctor called it. Skinny, said everyone else. “Anorexia nervosa” didn’t roll off my tongue as easily as “size two, please.” Emaciated, said bitter girls. Thin, they whispered, eyes hungry. “Don’t you eat anymore?” Of course—but only when no one is looking. You’ll lose your life. But everyone loves the skinny girl. Other girls try on my clothes and curse their wide hips and thick thighs. Boys watch me pick apart my food and grin when I take my coffee black— I am a nicotine-stained fever dream for them to feast on. Skinny girl is when life begins; death is just my companion. It holds my hand—dry and cracked. It strokes my hair—falling out in clumps. I am praised for looking skeletal. Weak and frail and breakable, just the way women are told they should look to appeal to boys. “Diet coke, please.” Wouldn’t want to drink empty liquid calories— scratch that, make it two to fill me up. Who cares if your stomach rots? Dying, she admits, defeated. As if I could hear her over the roar of 118.7 pounds. As if I could turn away from the lure of being labelled thin.
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Little Box in the Sky By Sorina Leila It sucks that you don’t have a home to call your own here, It just sucks. The words transmitted through the speaker as if they were some Revolutionary thought. As if they’d spark some change. As if I hadn’t already recognized the facts myself. Ruminated. Cried. But that was months ago. Been there, done that, But probably will go back At some point. you don’t have a home. It’s true, I don’t have a home of my own, There in the city, The one printed on the papers that Document my identity, I carry my existence in my wallet, On me at all times, My body is far from a temple, I’ve never treated it as such, But it’s the only housing my mind could afford. here, it just sucks. At one point I did have a home, Rather a room, within a home, A room of one’s own, within a home, That never felt like mine. At other points, I had multiple At the same time, Across demarcated lines, Territories, properties, boundaries. a home to call. Four years ago, I terminated a life-long lease, The terms of which I had no control over,
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I vacated the premises Under my own provisions, Under the pretense that I’d return At some point. it sucks. There in the city, A house is not a home, Because most homes aren’t houses anymore, With stilts in the ground, Now they’re floating, Levitating, Little boxes in the sky, That’s your fate in the city, A glass box. it just sucks. At some point, It will be my time, My own time To occupy My own little box in the sky, To call home.
Dear God, By Gray Brogden Why should I pray to you? Dear God, When my father is lying in a hospital bed, with spider web veins, and a heart turning its back. Desperate people find faith... well curse you, you and your blessed son too.
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How many times have I landed on my knees to no answer? Asking, asking, asking for mercy or for strength. Dear God, Tell me what to do— I can’t hear you! Ring a bell, why don’t you? For each Bloody Sunday, Bloody Mary; Eve didn’t sin it was you. You and your poisoned apple, damned fruit. And why create man in your image but with none of the power? I swear I can hear your laughter. Dear God, I like to say I do not believe, I am by no means religious. But you cannot despise what is not there, so I am no atheist either. Not when my mother breaks down in the kitchen after 5 hours of sitting beside his bed. She is crying in my arms, I hear her tossing and turning down the hall, sleep does not come to me either. Please— tell me what to do. Dear God, I’ll kneel no more for you.
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Ode to the Pink Blazer By Nicole Paldino Pink blazer Blaze you do Brazen Empowered Shoulder pads that Break the weight of My bag My problems Insecurities The male gaze And the rest of the world. Pink blazer You have challenged me To confront my Rhodophobia And embrace my Barbie power suit Makes me think that I can lead Rule Dominate Any profession. Pink blazer My friends do not Understand what I see In you They do not have The privilege of Sliding you over Their arms Shaping your body Like a sarsnet cloak Crowning a queen. Pink blazer You are timeless Evolving over Generations before Our very eyes until
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I find you in 2020 Perched on your rack Like you have never Felt defeated or Helpless Like you gave hope to An out-grown tomboy In a year that Threw water on her fire. Pink blazer That hangs in My closet A bright lotus flower In a sea of Bruised colours Grey, black, and blue And compliments White t-shirts Blouses, trousers And my favourite blue jeans But most importantly You compliment me. Pink blazer I hope you never Lose your blush I hope I never Wear you out But if I do I will use the Same colour thread As your seams And stitch you Back up Like you fixed me.
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And So Bloomed the Rose By Aruljothie Muraleetharan The Rose blushed red in the moonlight, Its beauty wafted through the evening breeze… Though protected by thorns, The Rose was grasped by one whose heart was in full bloom, And so bloomed the Rose… The stem grasped with such softness… Softer than snow drifting past one’s uncovered wrist, Yet with warmth lit by the passion that blazed in his heart, And so bloomed the Rose… The heavens poured out their joy and they were both drenched in tears, Not a single petal any less beautiful through every passing day, month, year… The Rose was grasped by one whose heart was in full bloom, And so bloomed the Rose... Written between the hours of 1:30-2:30 am
Floodlight By Jessica Moyra Szoros Have you felt the thing that roils inside you? A relentless crescendo, a bright eruption, A cracking flash of that which you are in your ever-present entirety; The purest expression of you that was and will be. The body is a sham. The fences around your mind are easily burned. Flood the earth with your wildness, your infernal essence, Reach to infinity with the twisting, ratcheting movements of an entity opposing encasement. You are a power, a propellant extending beyond existence. Everything is ready to break free— The universe resides inside you.
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Not a Poem By Marc-André Blanchard This is not a poem it is a shadow on the wall a swarm of shapes briefly lit by glimmers of blue light perchance a dove or like an olive branch but mostly it’s a casted tangle of thin digits that gleam out the rook’s window at least till the moon lulls
Stargaze By Mackenzie Emberley Beneath the covers, my mind swims in the stars, Alone on the damp earth, my dreams sprout wings Mingled in the navy clouds, my footsteps fall. The fire crackles and warms my toes Watching sparks join the patterns in the sky, Leaping onto Leo’s mane, flying with the firebird. The trees whistle their crisp lullaby but My pupils are waning crescents moons, Not yet ready to set behind my eyelids. A star soars across the night sea Like a falling penny, echoing in a well— I wish for a black hole To drown the new day And leave my dreams afloat In the dusky sky.
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The Open Closet By Sofia Spagnuolo He sits, alone On the right side Of an empty bed. A simple dress For no one to touch, Hangs hidden in the open closet. The rosy aura Bleeds into its fabric, Odour emanating from the favourite flower. He stores his clothes Far away in the wooden drawers, Where the floral scent cannot reach. The white lace of the dress Accompanies the chiffon fabric Of the draping curtain. He does not throw it out. He does not close the door. He does not wash the odour from his obedient nose. He only lifts it off the hanger When he needs to slide himself into the sleeves, And let the gown gracefully fall down to his knees.
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A Sound? A Peep? Solely Darkness By Wasan Haider I cry, cry and cry but no one can hear me. No one can see me. Like a spiritâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cry, or an animals wail, while they are slowly chewed alive. Drip drip drop the fields inhale the blood, as crows eat a snack. Hush. They say to me. Not a sound. Not a breath. This is what you have done to me. A blocked life, no escape, with only death to greet me. Drip drip drop travels the red river. The drop of greed. And hunger for war. I cry, cry and cry but no one can hear me. With only silence and a wait on time. Sneak out of the shadows, when thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a shimmer in the sky. When the rivers are black, or corpses lie. Soldiers march to death, for a word called freedom. Soldiers wait for a miracle until their heads fly so high. Down they go. for the rats to claim their prize.
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MAiD (For Abby) By Isabella Kennedy The lilies remind my mother of her first birth, sweet smell of relief. At the grocery store, I pick a bouquet, pull out the wilted petals, wrap the stems in brown paper and twine, pray they wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t smell like the sanitizer on my hands. At your doorstep, I lay them down like sacrifice, say a few words about it all going onward. In the card I write: to die is luckier, and believe it. I could hug you, but the virus claims too many for that kindness. So I leave the lilies instead and hope they remind you of beginnings and not ends, sweet smell of relief.
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