When Nebuchadnezzar Ran Away

When Nebuchadnezzar ran away the earth neglected to spin,

the mockingbirds whispered elegies and the indigo clouds caved in


but then it was once again summer

(and summer came back just the same)

with pop songs and poolsides and popsicle sticks

and neighborhood baseball games,


yet we would all stand at the window,

watching the skyline burn,

wondering where on earth he’d gone

or if he would ever return.


They say that cats, in their wanderlust, have a constant yearn to roam

yet, in their hunt for food and warmth, eventually come back home


but maybe Nebuchadnezzar

tired of mindless pats,


maybe he was a beatnik beast:

a Vasco de Gama of cats,


maybe, beneath his wiry frame, there lived a secret romantic

who longed to nuzzle the Golden Gate Bridge or lick the rolling Atlantic.


Sadly, though, my family thinks that his life was all too brief

and he met his end on the razor edge of a young coyote’s teeth,

especially when a neighborhood mom

informed us that she had found

the flesh and whiskers of her very own cat

in pieces

on the



and it scared us to think of his gentle meow

muffled in frightened breath

as he glanced through the chasms of cold green eyes

in the moments before his death.


But Nebuchadnezzar never came back

from wherever he went that night,

though sometimes we would see his face

in the dusty midnight light,

or in the ink of a newspaper page

that one of us has sighted,

describing an owner and run-off cat

who, somehow, were reunited.


These happy reunions were tabloid myths

and our other cat was brought

to live for nothing but tuna and sleep

and the moles that he sometimes caught.


His flowing fur filled up with knots.


His stomach grew long and dense


and he hardly dreamed of bygone days,

scurrying by the fence.


On August mornings, he wouldn’t hunt,

but only look through the screen,

and wonder why there was empty space

where his feline friend should have been.




Though Nebuchadnezzar ran away the earth continued spin,

autumn fell in with a see-through splash, like ice in a glass of gin;

months continued to peel away, like strips on wooden chairs,

and I watched them disappear,

perched on concrete stairs,


searching for creatures beyond the grass,

creatures I thought could be


now returned

from a corporate hotel in a tree:


a suitcase of rabbits around his back,

a credit card in his paw,

the crooked grin of the Cheshire Cat in ridges around his jaw


but all of the other cats that passed

at night, when the lamps were dim,

were fat or thin or fierce or weak,

but not at all like him.



Once Nebuchadnezzar ran away

we never were the same,

our nights grew distant

our voices; soft

our wild hound dog; tame


and, all of us,

in our collective grief,

agreed that it was a shame,

to lose a cat with a blazing heart

and an incomparable name.



By Jonah Dratfield



To further comment on the way
your eyes dismantle me,
I sometimes feel my heart’s little beak
pecking at the inside of my ribs
like it wants to rip its way out
of its repetitive, dead end job.
Leave me hanging,
aorta sputtering
like a leaky garden hose.

Again, in regards to
strange behaviors of the cardiac variety,
it likes to burrow down deep
within my warm thrumming tummy
plucking holes in my gastro-tract
trying to find you from that time
a few weeks back when
I swallowed you whole—
I told you, I’m a snake.
I squeeze till you’re blue.
Unhinge my jaw and—
once I thought I was poisonous.
The kind that kills quickly, but
instead, it turns out I constrict.
I am slow death and cradling
I am lulling you to sleep and
forgetting you exist
and you, blue
I digest you for months.


By Daniel Godwin

Unforseen Problems with Large Cups

This morning I woke up to find Bobby Vinton
had moved into a studio apartment
in my head. He sang all day but only one song
about a girl I know. Ever since I met her
my poems have sounded like stories
that overuse the word become.

Mr. Vinton I understand
she wore blue velvet I was there.
I saw her lit by foreground lamps
over a smoky game of beer pong
at a party I mostly remember. Her smile
was resplendent. Made you consider
what it would feel like to miss her.
I dread the day I miss her.

Mr. Vinton I’m going
to file a complaint with the landlord
if you do not quiet down.
Many of the neighbors have thrown their windows open
to let the summer evening in and I’m afraid
because your singing brings them to
their windows—so starry eyed.
Please, Mr. Vinton—
I have not been able
to get my reading done I just
can’t think with you
singing about rapture
or whatever
and I’ve almost fallen out my own window
once or twice because
your voice has charmed me so.

Mr. Vinton you’re a menace—
crooning long into the night as in
the one that was bluer than velvet I know.
I know. She’s everywhere.


By Daniel Godwin


in pursuit of oblivion

I remember I remember you, I remember faces, I remember much too much. I remember like a trawl-net, I remember fathomless and clear.
I remember —though I’d rather forget.

I remember until I am consumed. I remember with tenacity, remember regardless of resistance, I remember in spite of it. I remember tight teeth. I remember why
I remember.


By Sxm Wxng


Mask of Mano

“The mask made me do it,” said the young Liberian. He was tall for his age, slouching his sweat-glazed head to his chest as he stood in the musky odor of the hut. Incense and blood tickled his nose.

The boy shuffled forward, his barefeet padding softly against the arid soil which served as a living room carpet. Smoke clouded the hut, obscuring the boy’s visibility. His toes knew the way, and they carried him across the dirt “living room”, past the “kitchenette”, and into the family’s ceremonial space. On a gnarled wooden table (next to several small chairs and a goat’s carcass), sat the family’s ceremonial mask. A weak flame from a nearby brazier flickered in the shadows. The mask came into detail.

It was carved from a single piece of wood, smoothed to a shine. Gonlekpei, that was its name. Luogon, the barefooted boy, liked that name for the mask—“Man under the Hut”, it meant. He thought it fitting, Gonlekpei’s high cheekbones, elongated nose, and coarse beard reminded Luogon of his Colonel.

Luogon bent over and picked up the mask, a small wedge of hashish escaped his pocket. Gonlekpei glared into Luogon’s dilated eyes, bloodshot and vacant. A woman’s scream erupted somewhere behind Luogon. His eyes never left those of Gonlekpei’s.

“My boy!” screamed the woman’s voice, shrill and quivering with grief. “What did you do?!”

Luogon searched for an answer in Gonlekpei’s empty sockets.

“Too old…” whispered old man Gonlekpei. “Bullets…”

Luogon returned Gonlekpei to his throne on the altar. Then he found his kalash and shot the woman six times. He went to investigate the body. His foot struck against the wedge of hashish, which had dropped from his pocket moments before. He smiled at his good fortune, retrieved his treasure, and gently secured it back into his pocket.

On his way out of the pungent tent, ripe with decay, Luogon almost forgot to check if the woman still drew breath. The Colonel always rewarded due diligence.

“She’s dead,” Luogon thought to himself.

One of his rounds had struck her just below the left eye. Her lifeless body had collapsed into a heap on the dirt, her arms draped over the skinny frame of her eldest son—his skin porous with bullet-holes. Among the gore and spent cartridges, Luogon almost didn’t recognize the faces of his mother and older brother.

He smiled. “The mask made me do it.”
(Luogon can be translated as “boy born after the death of a sibling”.)



By Austin Treat



[This page is under construction.]

I’m trying acrylic on particles restless with transferable skills.
I’m drying acrylic on articles of stress and conferrable bills.

Stumble: shy from a spotlight. Flood lights. Motion
sensitive and twitchy.
The focus of this, why this patch of grass over the other?
And I’m beveled and ashy. Brilliant angles, plays — culture
Leveled. Scumbled. Glazed.

What is silhouetted starkly is
kind of hard to see with my astigmatism. And my glasses slipping down.
It’s any after, night and predilection
Give me every right direction for contrast.
Finances, and keeping the lights on
Even in a dark room. And I’m kind of out —
Little eggs, streetlights, little currents boiling that presciently predict the tick rhyme my stomach roiling. From lack of
But I don’t gotta be in service of the bigger picture.

As a rule I’ll love magnetic fear, the pull before the snap, the hup
before the heart-droppingly short stop and the new line behind the
enter, except when I don’t.
Can’t. Cues and lines to remember, fill out, snake in
or out clutching my papers. It’s a lot of work trying to be discrete.
I pretend to hate smooth transitions.
And I don’t feel comfortable with smooth transitions, like

What’s at stake? Slow drips on duckwing tips,
Straight up living and coming to grips.
A solid dissolution I’m reflecting on here is lack,
slack for ropes that might be important and may be too far away to consider.
Thinking of what’s said about knots and fraying and ties on purpose — I’m just nervous about feeling too loose to adhere to the whatever the hell connects and look
Polarization? I’m graduating, and
I’m done with introspection, I say to myself and the world.


By Ria Geguera



slashed across concrete
graffiti on the overpass or
sharp looks in lunchrooms,

twenty now and I still
wilt with shame
when men in cars shout
“hey baby those jeans
would look better on my floor!”

I will have flowers, I will have vines, and they will pour down the walls in riotous green and purple and even blue fuck it, I will have painted pots, I will have twine and wire, enough to tightrope from here to the sun, glowing universe dust, golden magnificent goddess tits, and I will shower the Male Gaze with orchids. I will drown the Gaze in blossoms, bitch,

I will write
across the sky.

I will write
with all the beautiful things that belong to me.

I will raise daughters and teach them to be gardens.


By Brooke Durkan


The Mountaintop- Play Review

We went to see this play in the capital one slushy January afternoon. We were in the building two hours and we came out our faces dirty with dried tears.
We had seen The Mountaintop, an imagining of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night in a Memphis hotel room before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, written by Katori Hall and performed by the Trinity Repertory Company. The play has only two characters: Dr. King, and Camae, a maid, sent by the hotel to deliver his late-night coffee.
After a brief exchange, the two begin a prolonged and eclectic conversation, drifting between different matters of different sizes, from the complications of the present political landscape to whether or not King should shave his mustache. Sometimes, they flirt; other times, they fight. For nearly an hour, Hall lets them talk, carving out her vision of the complicated man and, through Camae, the ethos of the people he is fighting for—juxtaposes battered optimism with nonchalant realism.
As the conversation reaches its climax, Camae reveals herself as an angel, sent to shepherd the civil rights leader away to heaven. In denial at first, King quickly turns to his unfinished work, and to his family. He resolves to ask God for more time; after a heated exchange over the hotel telephone, she (yes, she) refuses, but offers to show him the future.
King accepts.
Then, the motel room disintegrates, and Camae launches into a final speech, covering the fate of King’s cause up to the play’s premier, backed by images and video clips appearing on different surfaces around the hall—her final words: ‘Black presidents’. After marveling, King delivers a final rhetoric, asking us, imploring us to carry on his work.
So ends the play. Heroic. Bold. Moving.
But between Camae’s Speech and King’s final address, as if something has broken or become corrupted (we are not sure if this is a stage direction or the director’s choice), the images continue past “black presidents” on to the present day.
Then King makes his speech, issues his call to action, and then the play ends.
The Mountaintop premiered in 2009. June 2009 to be precise–the peak of the post-‘08 high and the precipice of all that has led to our present moment.
The play derives its title from King’s final speech, where, prophetically, he warns that he might not live to see his work to completion; at the same time, however, he reassures his audience that their goal will be achieved eventually: God has allowed him to “go up to the mountaintop”, from which he has seen “the promised land”.
No doubt, when the play was first performed, the actors, the director, maybe even the playwright thought the country had arrived or were about to arrive in this “Canaan”. That last speech likely assumed an almost vestigial role: just make sure to keep building the buttresses under the upward-soaring arc.
But those were not the words we heard on January 18th, 2017.
Works of art mean different things to different people at different times. Though a text or score may persist unchanged, the interpretations and the very meanings we find in them vary infinitely—arise from within our momentary selves.


By Trent Babington


Gas Station

In a gas station one hundred miles inland from the coast of America’s bay state, a cashier is nodding off to the lullabies of Celine Dion coming from the transistor radio behind the counter. The evening sluggishly pulls on, and a few customers visit the gas station, but leave without purchasing an item or awakening the clerk. They, like most patrons of this business, are out of towners just filling up their tanks and continuing on the road towards places of inferior beauty and high population densities. In these places, souls float through city blocks and rarely brush shoulders, eyes meet for split seconds and faces are forgotten in less. People are gray molds, whose faces wrinkle under the eyes, and are smooth from the sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth. The horizon is blocked by massive structures whose designers are praised for the beauty they have given the world.
The cashier jolts as the chime of the doors warns him of a new customer. A girls pushes past an older man moving half her pace. The young girl skips through the aisles searching for a candy sweeter than anything nature could provide, and stops when she finds her beloved skittles. Tropical; a flavor foreign to the landscape of green and brown that holds our small gas station. The old man nods at the cashier and he reciprocates, blinking repeatedly to remind his eyes that they are awake. He turns to look out the window and sighs gratefully, he didn’t sleep through the sunset. A glorious peach sky shines through the glass wall, and the old man shields his eyes as he sorts through newspapers. The little girl puts down the bright teal package of candy and runs past the clerk to the window. Her face and hands pressed to the glass leave delicate smudges that the cashier will never feel to wipe clean. Mesmerized, she forgets she ever wanted any candy. The radio antennae, intoxicated by the scent of gas and sunlight absorbed, slowly falls to the side. Resting there, Celine Dion is replaced with white static. The gas station falls asleep.
At this moment, all six eyes are fixed on the landscape, the old man has put down his paper, awakened by the lack of nineties ballads. The cashier doesn’t dare take his eyes off the window, he no longer feels the hard seat underneath him, he doesn’t hear a sound but the gasps and squeaks of the little girl blissfully observing what is usually his sunset, and his alone. Unaware, they all smile together. The edges of the old man’s mouth slowly turn upwards, fighting against years of frowns perpetuated by gravity and a catholic marriage. For a moment the clerk has a father, and a little sister. And soon their spirits huddle behind the glass and stand shoulder to shoulder, as if the passage to heaven was being exhibited for them, and they looked into the orange and saw old friends. They saw parents, and lost stuffed animals. They saw wives, and grandmothers. Through the gold they picked out memories; images of God. A strong bearded man in a white robe. The old man; who only saw this sunset.
The three all sagged in their stances, until the man let out a small grunt of satisfaction. The white fog drifted out of the cashiers eyes, and he let out a deep breathe that seemed trapped in his lungs. He began to speak but his voice had to find its way back over the hump in his throat. He managed to get out a small:
“Where you headed?”
The old man chuckled, “Speak up, son, my ears have heard too much”
He smiled and looked downward, “Worcester or Boston?”
“Boston,” he answered, “this one has school soon.” He patted her head and she grabbed his hand.
“Ah, enjoying the city life.” The cashier tried to hide his disappointment that these friends were leaving his side.
“Ha, if you want to call it that,” he replied, “I just call it the city.”


By Peter Duffy


The Sixth Extinction

the beginning of the end.

i sat down one evening
and began to write a list-

a list i hoped would be short
and simple and quick
a list of a few names
and a few places
and no more,
no more-

but the list went on and on
and the more i searched,
the lengthier the list was,
and the more frantic i became
as reality came crashing through the door
and made itself home
in the crevices of my thoughts

i wrote and i wrote
as the pen ran out of ink
and the paper bled with tears

i wrote
until i could write no more,
no more.

it was list veiled in black
and echoing with silent screams

it was a list of the dying.
and its length was long.

most people write bucket lists
of things they want to do,
places they want to see,
memories they want to make
before they die.

i wrote a list of beings
i want to see before they vanish.

it’s different, you see.

in this list,
they are the ones that are dying,
not i.
one. lonely.

we all feel alone sometimes
some more than others

and sometimes
we renounce our ecological nature-
the sequence in our genetic code
that writ us to be social beings-

and we make ourselves
islands in a sea of
seven billion

but do we know the meaning
of true loneliness?

maybe we should have
asked Lonesome George,
the Pinta island tortoise

maybe we should ask
the /Achatinella apexfulva/ snail or
the Panamanian golden frogs


what do we know of being an
the last individual on the records
before your kind is marked with
a big, red x-

we know nothing
of the true
meaning of

two. it takes two.

we have this concept of love
as something that cannot be defined

love, ah love, we say,
it is a hug, it is a smile, it is a
whisper in your ear, and a yell of joy,
it’s sunshine, it’s rain,
it’s everything, it’s a rush,
it’s nothing, it’s subtle

but what is it really?
other than a chain of
biochemical and neural
pathways in your brain
and your hormones.

our romantic sensibilities
prevent us from
reducing love into
an artificial context

but when the species
we have decimated to
the extent
that there are

only two

we have no choice
and gone are our
romantic notions
of love and natural mating

replaced with the cold
artificial reproduction
and the warm hopes
and prayers
of those who care.

three. three’s a crowd?

it keeps me up at night
the thought
of three
gentle behemoths
wrinkled skin and a
doe-eyed composure

the last of the northern white rhinos

surrounded by 24 hour
constant vigilance and an
armed guard
who work to keep
these animals
from joining the lists
too many species
have been added to

and it strikes to me
as a tragic dichotomy,
the thought of these
protected by the species
that had caused them the
greatest harms

and what terrible
roles we play in
the natural world

the sinners and the saviors

four. jaws.

my favorite movie
is jaws-
the story of a monstrous
shark on a killing spree by
a coastal New England town-

oh god

i refused to go to the beach
that summer, i would play
safely in the grass by the

a few years ago,
i came across a pair of dead
baby sharks
swept ashore
tiny little creatures
alone and unmoving,
cradled by the soft lapping
of the tide,
and suddenly
all i felt was a sudden rush
of pity and compassion

that night
i watched jaws again
with this newfound love
and went to bed dreaming
of fins gliding across
the surface of waves

and yesterday i learnt that

1/4 of all sharks and rays
are currently threatened
with death and extinction

you see, the real villains of the
cinema of reality
is what you see when
you look in the mirror

no, not you, per se
but us and the fish market
we rely on to feed our
insatiable hunger
because we are draining
our oceans one apathetic trawl
at a time and we are ruining our
waters with our waste and pollution

and yet we still have the audacity to
see the sharks as the
monsters of the seas

five. the past.

sometimes i lay on the
ground outside
and think of everything
the world
beneath my fingertips
has gone through

the survival of the microbes
to the colonization
of land
and ancient jellyfish
and ancestral chordata
and insects and dinosaurs
and tiny small mammals

each distinct era marked
with death and
a fundamental shift
in the natural order
of things-
a time of
ruination and

a mother’s chastise
that even the giants
will fall
a mother’s love
for the smaller lives
who deserve a chance

i think about all of these things
and i stretch my fingertips
across the planet
and i sink my body
into the ground
and seek
the depth of struggle
the strength of survival
of those long dead

the end of the beginning.

weariness takes ahold
in the creaks of my bones
and the vibrations of my voice
and the word “tired” flows with my blood
and weighs down in my heart.

i cannot go on.

but i must.

i must write, i must read,
i must listen, i must speak.

for the flora, the fauna,
their future and ours.

i must

and so i will.


By Deepti Kamma