Collected Poems (no theme)

by Kanha Prasad, Jane Freiman, Isabelle Rea, Andy Rickert, Catherine Habgood, Sandra Moore & Gemma Brand-Wolf

published November 15, 2019

Shades of Sick


I woke up, sick of today,

still a golden caterpillar,

high as balls on buttery dreams.


My open eyes deceased the dreams,

I forced myself awake,

and I didn’t let me snooze again,


or as I used to say to mom,

my human morning alarm,

Hindi for ‘just 5 more minutes’.


I knew I had to start producing

Work, Food, Friends, Words,

In other words, that necessary nectar

that lay liquid, beyond the horizon

of this hive.


But today I was sick with fear,

that no friend would volunteer

to bring me soup.


The idea of my forehead

as warm enough and worthy

to colonise a purple square on your calendar

was meme worthy,

given your attempts to outrun sprinting time.


I was so sick,

so I was one with the bed,

the pillow the north pole to the south of my head.


I peeked awake through glass

and skinny tree towards the sky,

frustrated with her sense of style,

changing her clothes, over and over,

the dresses darkening and darkening,

shades of blue.


-Kanha Prasad



You Can Buy Squishies Online


Everywhere I go, all I can see

is mothers and daughters. My mother

has a pizza dough belly, soft and

stretchmarked. I liked to point it out,

squeeze it, to remind us both that

this is where I once existed, that I am

one of the three reasons her belly droops in

grayish purple sashes. I pressed my toddler

hand into these folds, hoping they might

disappear me into her once more.


That winter I was quite sad. The custard comes

in beautiful cylinders that shivered when you tipped

them out of the plastic shell. I dug my spoon in

and it tastes like a grayish purple

on my tongue. The spoon carves its hollow. Sometimes

I wonder, can’t

we ever just experience our pain

without learning from it?


There is a hand resting on my stomach,

on the warm black velvet

pulsing with it velvetly, skin

bumpy like velvet, grass cool like

hot velvet. The hand on my belly

is my hand. I won’t know its exact give

and take, the way its folds sink and grow

and sink and grow. If I can see a leaf falling

from a tree, can notice its curve like a hip,

like my hip that I’ve inspected

in the mirror, that aches, maybe

one day I too could have a human body.


-Jane Freiman



(three separate poems)


Villains in sheeps’ clothing

Naked sheep

They all look like they are enjoying themselves

Seeing things in things


We love to prove me wrong

“Mine own eyes deceived me”

They bump into each other, sadly

Lots of laughing


It was a lot of things that affected me, clicky



-Isabelle Rea




[Marie Antoinette] trod inadvertently on the executioner’s foot. He said “Oh!” as if in

pain; and, in that supreme moment, she apologized with queenly courtesy: “Pardon

Monsieur, I did not intend it!”

I am only guilty of taking

that which I was given: the chandelier

sways before settling, the curtains

collapse under their own weight, the baker

stoops against the cusp of a blade

you mistake for dawn. I never


stoop, only bend, if I choose to. What else

do you want me to say? The horses you freed

know no other home, together they’ll starve

alone; eventually the wheel

must return to where

it began.


–Andy Rickert



Argument Over Text Message


If you need a change of perspective, you can

google search “Pygmy Things”

or order a swing-top trash can on Amazon,

and when it comes,

it will be five inches tall.

You can pull a cushion up to the television and watch the weather channel.


You will realize that whether or not

you have a birthday party to attend,

the rain will come in buckets from the sky.


You can swim naked around Aphrodite’s Rock at midnight and then, you will have eternal beauty.

But what if it is twelve oh two or eleven fifty eight?

What happens then?

You are naked and your heart is a mallet on the inside of your chest

and all of a sudden it engulfs you, the everything of it,

and all of a sudden, there you are,

naked and treading water,

a small head bobbing in the waves,

letting your eyes go out of focus and then letting them come back in.


-Catherine Habgood





you need to keep track of the house when we are gone, because of robberys [sic] // read two weeks ago, replied to Mom never, the alarm on my phone says Dad forgot to disarm; a cat ran across the motion field of lights flashing on, pooling, a month of shadows displaced from drying, drying dead growth, the roses my father tended to shattering from want of water


why is sandra even in this group chat she isn’t even going // said sister, i promise when you and dad and mom are trapped in a metal prison 35,000 feet in obdurate clouds for sixteen hours, my eyes won’t leave the sky praying for the tin rust bucket to touch down safely and that i am spared from the tragedy of flying is my prerogative but my staring eyes trail tears; i won’t be there for the gusting winds of Bagan through clay pagodas quake-cracked, faith-swept, made gold by leaf and honey, made sweet by time and memory; i won’t be there but my eyes won’t stop watching


please don’t dye your hair rhian not for this family trip said my mother because my sister wants balayage purple, flush from tip to scalp and it would break the portrait mom wants for our family but there is already craquelure on the oil paint, ah-may, we have not had entangled roots for decades there have only ever been three of us in Burma anyway and the poltergeist of the fourth trailing behind. we are gossamer threads of a frayed tapestry— and the slow unravelling bleeds color until my sister’s hair turns platinum and our cheeks are waxy white, the defensive lie of our bodies is unsubstantiated, but my sister and i are painters still


we need to find someone to pick us up from home and drop us off at the airport (five in the morning) // from father “home” as pure rhetoric as if the lack of presence was maintenance in its own— my home’s mouth opened and its soul escaped left for 7,000 miles away got swept out to starry seas and entangled in siren nets of sound but landed on verdant Burma where i realize that the cracked and craggy facets of my home fit better, better in here, where the landscape trembles from the force of my parents coming home


-Sandra Moore



- Gemma Brand-Wolf