panic attack in the MoMA: a spoken word poem by Meara Maccabee

you were sitting in a theater in Manhattan and on the screen was one of those experimental, alt-indie, foreign language films with a plot so vague and ambiguous that you seriously considered the possibility that the Museum of Modern Art was pranking you.

so when you heard the moans and grunts sounding from rows behind you, you did not even open your eyes.

i’m not sure why; maybe you thought it was a dream.

for minutes the sound moaned and grunted and by now you knew it was not a dream but you did not glance behind you and you were proud of your self-control, like when you drive past a fiery accident on the freeway and stare straight ahead and feel damn dignified for refusing to look at the burnt wreckage even though you want to so badly.

by the time the sound had pierced your chest and rattled around in your rib cage long enough to stir up that stagnant pool of acid memories the lights came on and the teenage girl asked someone to help her mother--

you glanced.

you thought to tell the girl to turn her mother on her side so she would not vomit into her own throat and drown in what she had fed herself earlier today because sometimes we forget that the most common form of suicide is a body killing itself against the wishes of its occupant--

but you were embarrassed to have this knowledge and so you said nothing.

and in the aisle was one of those “i-insert-myself-into-situations-by-referencing-family members-who-are-suffering-the-same-way” control freaks

and she was explaining to the teenage daughter that insert-family-member-here is epileptic and this is what causes it and this is what fixes it and this is the medicine she should take and the mother was still on the ground

and the teenage girl started apologizing for her mother’s seizure having interrupted the film and this time you could not speak because you weren’t completely sure you hadn’t traveled back in time

to another young daughter dragging her thrashing mother from the theater into the sun-soaked tile-floored lobby when all you could think about was:

a. she is going to crack her skull on those tiles and you are not going to have a mother and you never really got to know here and you’re not sure where they will bury her and

b. everyone is looking at you.

everyone is looking at you, everyone is looking at you, everyone is looking at me

and my mom’s brain is electrocuting itself but i can’t stop apologizing to the crowd members whose show i have just ruined.

so you thought about pulling the teenage girl aside and telling her it is not your fault it is not your fault it is not your fault do not even think about apologizing again-

but you don’t. because you realize you never had this conversation with your mother whose own body sets itself on fire for the fun of it and all you ever told her was that she was the cloudy day that people love because it makes them appreciate the sunny ones.

i thought that locking myself in a room without my mother would be beautiful but the rainbows are always only veneer-thin and when the fog cleared i felt like praying for the first time in a long time. i felt like having a conversation with the one being that would understand my guilt because

only God can know what it’s like to kill someone who wants nothing more but to live.

so you try to tell the teenage daughter to remember that it is not her fault and it is also not her mother’s fault; it’s the fault of this god damn infinite cloudy day but instead you stumble out of the theater and traumatize the ticket guy with your gasps and sobs and fifteen minutes crouching in a bathroom stall still doesn’t do the trick.

you just had a panic attack in the MoMA. you think about how this might be a good poem someday.

and then you think about calling your mom. but you know you’ll just have to keep reminding her she has nothing to apologize for so instead you stay quiet and hope she’ll remember that she may be the victim of a cruel joke from heaven but then that would mean her body is the voice of God. so you walk back upstairs.

the mother and the daughter have left. you find your seat. and you fall asleep to that fucking ridiculous movie.

Sati by Sadhana Puri

Plastic googly eye accoutrements

glued onto the sea of faceless white saris

Their tears

cheer me on as I waltz towards

The End.

I expect to feel Something,


roll down my stone cheeks

but instead

I feel a stillness

like none other I’ve felt before.

This time

it’s on the inside.

They murmur with their invisible tongues,

“Why did she stop crying?”

And I wonder the same.

The Tears!

Where could they have gone?

Did they evaporate already?

I swear I felt them on my face,

just a few minutes ago before I confronted

My Reality.

But don’t you worry about me.

I manage to manufacture the water.

They say only our kind are capable of such deeds.

The “dreamless.”

In other words,

We Women.

I remember the dreams I used to have.

Hell, the Dreams I still have.

The Dreams of potions

stirring in the cauldron of my Mind,

Dreams of the ways the tiny particles meet.

I’d like to think

they treat one another with respect.

Maybe those particles are The Solution.




Thought melts away

as the embers graze against my Skin.

Alchemy by Natalie Vaughan

fingers through ripping hairs in fists

cracked lips grimace

sound of splitting comforts


gnawing chain of white teeth

on the lips, tongue, dull steady scrape

fireworks swallowed


fingernails shredding a second skin

scouring until blood blooms

and drops in clots on the tile


oily fog in an upwards drift

steaming the backs of eyeballs

curling hairs and lips alike


storm clouds’ dissolution

an epiphanic beam snaps to dark


and a hunched back of rabid strain

and quaking and pockmarks and gashes


and so she rises, so she lays bare

enveloped in whispers and steamy promise

The Love Song of Dartmouth’s Frat Bros, Translated from Hahvahd™ T.S. Eliot’s "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by Murray Constantine

Si je pensais que quelqu'un aimait se réveiller pour drill à sept heures et quart,

je le supporterais avec un sourire joyeux,

mais je me retrouve seul, ma flamme prête à être soufflée par les vents froids de janvier

et ma bougie arrosée à partir de l'alcool du mercredi soir.


Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a TDX boy blacked out upon the basement floor

Let us go, through floors of half-deserted stacks,

The mutterings of facts

Of drunken nights in one-night fraternities

And rivers of Keystone Light eternities:

Streets that follow like a tedious term project

Of insidious homework neglect

To lead you to an overwhelming question ...

Oh, do not ask, “Did I fail?”

Let us forget and go to tails.


In the basement the brothers come and go

Arguing over who to Venmo.


The weed-scented fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,

The weed-scented smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,

Licked its tongue into the brownies cooling in the kitchen,

Lingered upon the pools of batch on the sticky floors,

Let fall upon its back the dust of overeager freshmen dorms,

Slipped by the icy stairs, made a sick flip in white Adidas,

And seeing that it was a ragin’ October night,

Walked on soft paws down frat row to claw at the doors.


And indeed there will be time

For the weed-scented smoke that slides along the street,

nesting in the cramped stalls of Wheeler’s bathroom;

There will be no time, there will definitely not be time

To prepare a sober face to show off to interviewers;

There will be time for a thesis to create,

And time to waste days on work and play

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the bell rings for Sanborn tea.


In the basement the sisters come and go

Talking of that one douchey frat bro.

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I flair?” and, “Do I care?”

Time to wonder which of my classmates is a billionaire,

And how much does he pay for his hair —

(They will say: “Bro, your shoes are so fly!”)

His Canada goose coat, his button-up’s collar popped high,

His necktie richly colored, secured with a pin subtle and sly —

(They will say: “But weren’t his grandparents alumni?”)

Do I dare

enter the universe?

In an edible there is time  

For hours spent in starry clouds which a minute will reverse.


For I have known them all already, wasted them all:

Have passed by the 9Ls, 10As, 6Bs,

I have measured out my terms with red bull and coffee;

I know the voices dying with a dying final

Beneath the soft sound of KAF’s sweet tease.

               Tell me how my prof I should please?


And I have blown the finals already, blown them all—

The finals that fuck you over after having studied for days,

And when I am sleep-deprived, sprawling on a chair,

When I am bashed and blazed on the green,

Then how should I fare

To misuse the term’s end of days and ways?

               And to whom do I send my prayer?


And I have known the arms already, known them all—

Arms that are untanned and white and clothed

(And when the weather surpasses fifty, seek the Green and UV rays)

Is it the perfume of new grass

That makes me from classes digress?

Arms that flee from basement tables, or wrap themselves in flannel.

               And should I then find solace out of houses?

               And how should I escape?


Shall I say, I have gone at eleven through frat row

And smelled the perfume that rises from joints

Of turnt boiz in pastel polos, leaning out of windows? ...


I should have been asleep an hour ago, maybe three

yet I slide across the floor, lost in a hazy sea


And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so stressfully!

Smoothed by excessive alcohol consumption,

Asleep ... tired ... fearful of Samaritan presumption,

Stretched on the couch, searching in Baker for sanctuary.

Should I, after free food and Foco and Collis late night,

Have the strength to challenge my DBA to a fight?

But though I have wept and stress-eaten, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen red-marked midterms brought in upon a platter,

I am no STEM major — and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the potential employer regard my GPA, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.


And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the Novak coffee and Sanborn tea,

Among the red solo plastic, among matches on friendsy,

Would it have been worth while,

To have to have sent off that flitz with a :) (smile),

To have typed my heart into a blitz

To send it towards some intimidating upperclassman,

To say: “I am Doc Benton, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, you will fail that midterm”—

If one, eyes rolling in her head

               Should say: “yeah bro I’ll take that L;

               Worse things happened to me last fall.”


And would it have been worth it, after all,

Would it have been wise to chug,

After the slap cup and the harbour and the stickied doors,

After the paddles, after the crushed cups, after the bean boots that sludge along the floor—

This before finals, and so much more?--

It is impossible to study what I should!

But as if a MacBook laptop soothed nerves with a glowing screen:

Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a beanbag or throwing off a fracket,

And turning toward the window, should say:

               “CS is so freaking hard,

               This is not what I want at all, fuck it.”


No! I am not President Hanlon, nor was meant to be;

Am on door duty, one that will do

To better a tails, start a scene or two,

Advise the president; who may, or not, be a tool,

Self-credential, glad to be of use,

pastelled, crew-socked, and top button loosed;

Full high of substance, but more than a bit obtuse;

At times intentionally ridiculous—

But eager, always, to play it cool.


I get drunk…I get drunk…

I shall wear my old fracket I found in the junk


Shall I wear a Canada goose? Do I dare sport Vineyard Vines?

I shall put on my corduroys, and start the hashtag LonePine.

I have heard the acapella girls singing at Cheese and Wine.


I do not think that they will sing to me.


I have seen acapella groups performing in frats late at night

Wreathing with the voices Keystone Light has unbound

When the winds of finals drive students underground

We have lingered in basements forested with amber trees

By sorority girls wreathed with flair sequined and green

Till SNS voices rouse us, and we flee.

new york, new york: a scene by Mac Emery

Unfleshed coats hang flat in the boutique                                  Does the bruise show?
                                         tonight is a bounteous stranger to him, clean-shaven
Eek eek eek scream the cabs                    a cigarette tip quivers like the distant eye of judgment
pigeon, o pigeon, primordial in a slim sky of artifice                               two hands hold, somehow
                   Blue coat passes a crimson coat passes a green hoodie, mosaic-like, motion
and all us on one hard plane                                       all these screens interlinked, not speaking
Where will we live?                                                                                 My kid gets out at 3
                        Boot heels flint against concrete, slipping into the undercurrent of din
Kiss on the cheek, brighter than sun on 30th story glass brighter than
                                                                                               green light, red light, green, red, green,
               redgreen dress that crackles and flutters like the heartbeat of one who watches
little song whistled, you catch only two notes and                            know it like an instinct
            an instinct to leave this haphazard city like a flight– outbound, mechanical, a routine
is hunger and half-life from a cup, a cart. The sticky ash of hope                                  o shit.
A hissing Starbucks coffee machine smells like awake                        Gaudy fliers saying nothing
Karl Marx echoing from neon franchises                              tinnitus of sirens and brake pads
                              A civilization of sneakers have scorned this smirched surface
What’s your problem?                                                       in the human coop who’s the fox?
                        magazines flex their bold nudity, and a russet hardship goes unseen
a selfie to remember or a selfie to forget                   the thrill of being lost in bigger
I wonder what it is                                                  smudgy figures meld in a dim narrow restaurant
                 vagabond styrafoam rolls on, rolls on, the gutter its transcontinental railway
an insular tree drops its wan leaf on voided context                 a scalloped awning for what sun
steel suit on a stone man                                                         what’s up? where have you been?
bags flood from shops to the stash fondly called home        no where to go, no where to go back
                               man’s stinky invalid of a cloud leaks from a cryptic manhole

                                 for a moment, there’s almost a melody to this modernity

this protean street shuffles faces                                 underneath, wishes the size of an embrace
                             youthful, they’ll find time at the bottom of night or a red mouth
loiter on the corner because home is an assumption                                      will I see you later?
Progress indefatigable, flaunt your endless cement                 taxi cabs stream like blood cells
permanent hot dog cart                            flower bouquets from and for a distant patch of growth

The street coordinates, is whole. To each its place– many, capitalistic, dreamy, rags and metal,
        beyond the math of beauty
New York, what poet would dare to swallow one second of your brutal wealth, to begin or to end
        to pronounce your chaos?

House of the Dead by Anson Clark

In a parked car, I see you crossing the street,

Your golden hair dazzling in the sun.

Your eyes brimming with deep blue water,

My eyes, an empty cup desperate to be filled…

And you notice me… your path in life has met with mine;

Our stars now entwined, even if only for a stark moment.

When two people meet, make contact in some way,

It is never to be understood in a casual manner.

Rather, it is two cold heated flames colliding.

And there is something new. Something created.

In a parked car, I see you crossing the street,

Your golden hair dazzling… A car hits you!

You were too busy looking at me…

The wings of the angels drop downward in despair,

With all becoming shades of sunless stuttering grey.

I used to think that life was a journey. Terrible things

Only happen to other people. But my journey was special –

Sure, I would sometimes misplace my car keys, or leave

The cold tap running. But really bad things only occur

On other people’s journeys. I used to think that

Things happen for a reason – that I am blind because

I could not hope to comprehend God’s plan.

Now I know that love is blindness. I step across the ravine

Wearing a white blindfold. I cannot escape my blindness.

Now life is not a journey anymore, it is a game of cruel canasta.

Now I know that love is blindness.


I’m a Dominican Friar watching a Cathar burn to death on

A stake. Her golden hair dazzled in the sun. Her eyes

Brimming with deep blue water; my eyes an empty cup

Desperate to be filled. I felt so much sadness, but she was a

Soulless heretic. Watching her and the others burn at Montsegur

Suddenly made my God unknowable. And I realised that Love is

Blindness. All I could do was hope I did the right thing.

I’m a movie star gazing into the eyes of a cancer-ridden starlet,

Her golden hair dazzled in the sun. Her eyes

Brimming with deep blue water; my eyes an empty cup

Desperate to be filled. I crack some bad jokes and she kindly laughs –

What can I really say? She is dying of cancer. All I know is that

She will not remember my jokes. I think they made me feel better

About myself, rather than having any effect on her. I just don’t know.

Love is blindness. The five nuns who drowned when the Deutschland sank,

Huddled together, murmuring soft, almost muted tears, as the water crept

nearer and nearer. They could say and think anything; nothing would

Alter the approaching end. Such things only happen to other people,

They thought. Love is blindness.

I am in a maze, which I wish to understand. All I can do is run and scream,

Clasp my hands in prayer and gaze at the heavens. I’m now back in the car

Looking at a space which had contained a woman crossing the street.

The ambulance men dash about and everything becomes blurry. I decide

To go home, drink a beer, and play a video game, maybe House of the Dead.

Killing the zombies would be a re-enactment of all of my dreams dying.

I will never be able to remove the blindfold, but I need to keep on walking,

Winding my way around the maze, desperately trying to go back to the start.

For love is blindness. Sometimes I don’t want to see.