I sight my destination, Sundance books
Only to find it cold
It was time for the store to open,
Why wasn’t it open?
For the owners this is unbecoming, for the customers all but charming
As cattle to the trough we lined up on the doorstep, waiting for the channel of knowledge to open
To the left, I hear someone cough,
To the right, I see them shifting: anger becoming palpable
Our displeasure manifested itself in our body language
We didn’t have to speak, we didn’t have to explain
We all had the same thoughts
As a collective we shifted and sighed ꟷ tensions building, hoping the next car held “the chosen one.”
A man comes around the corner, time slows, and we all perk up: like dogs about to receive a treat
All anger dissipates with the promise of satisfaction, even when the owner ignores his offense
The doors open.
We flow in to sate our hunger


Adrian Abate is a Freshman at SUNY Geneseo. He is studying… well he doesn’t know yet. Born and raised in Fairport, a suburb of Rochester, he didn’t have to travel far to attend college. This piece illustrates the displeasure he felt one morning…or is it the displeasure they felt.



and it is warm for January
birds swing and fall in the sky
like dancing stars.
the sun sits low on a cloud
washing the land in warmth and light,
shattered by the naked branches  
of an oak tree

beside me lay a serpent of stone
encircling the old Homestead.
its tail is splayed and broken;                        
its lithic spine jags in prostration,
again, broken.
i do not try to climb over, i know
the land is Forbidden.

great metal beasts heave themselves
down the tongue
through the wrought iron teeth
of the front Gates
and always back again.
their scars sprawl the landscape,

forced forward,
i am confined to a strip of grass
narrowed by converging boundaries
i see a sign: S ve the Wal !
it is wrapped tight in vine
and the lettering has been
washed away by weather.
as i continue to walk
i listen to the wind whistling
through the trees
moving to reclaim the earth



Noah Zweifel is a Communications major on the journalism track at SUNY Geneseo. Being from Utica, NY, he has a good understanding of human pain and suffering, and enjoys pretending that those are what make good writing. Find him Mondays through Fridays at the MJ grill station, and he’ll tell you all about how he’s totally gonna start reading Infinite Jest, and that he really means it this time around. Oh, and try not to say anything about his hair.




I see white

Fingers graze keys as the
pressure put on each goes

I hear in my head,

“Do it again.”
My shoulders slump
and again I play

Red welts form
hands shaking

A living metronome
human error ceases.

Eyes closed, I breathe in
Breathe out

She’s not here.
The teacher is gone
and blank keys stare, waiting

I play the first few notes
and wince.

Discord of keys
haunts the silence
each note pierces

The dissonance
stains the walls



Melody Choi is a Freshman at SUNY Geneseo. She is a Psychology major originally from Queens NY and has been playing piano for most of her life. She was inspired to write this piece as a way of venting her frustrations over the very-out-of-tune pianos in Brodie Hall.



Slivers of invasive white light beam through the bedroom window exposing small triangular parts of mismatched furniture. In the dark shadows, my mother and I lay cuddled up under a patched quilt that spreads out like the night sky, blanketing us with dark shades of blue speckled with gold.

A slow shiver climbs from the bottom of my heels to the tip of my head. I scooch closer to my mother, hoping to steal the heat radiating from her. I fall back asleep.

Suddenly, my mother’s body stiffens with alertness. Her breath catches and she pushes herself up with her forearms in the cobra position, not leaving the warmth of the bed. She pauses. Trying to make sense of her surroundings within the fogginess of her wakening mind, she reaches for the bedside table. Fingers first feeling a blue porcelain lamp, then a wooden picture frame, she finally grabs hold of her glasses. She can see.

I’m listening to my mother carefully navigate the bedroom, but I can’t bring myself to open my eyes and look. To comfort my mind, I reason that my mother normally gets up throughout the night for water or simply because she’s feeling restless, so I allow myself to be lazy and immovable. With her absent, I grab the quilt closer around my body and curl my knees up to my chest. There is no luck in appeasing my mind. Her warmth is gone and my ears have left with her.

My mother moves from room to room throughout the cabin, careful to stay within the shadows. I hear her pause in the living room and I assume she is checking on my older sister, Jordan, who had decided to sleep on the couch across from the warmth of the fire place.

When she returns to the bedroom, she leans in close to my face and whispers “Lydia, don’t make a sound.  Don’t be afraid, but don’t make a sound. There is man outside our window and I need you to get up quietly and come with me.” She’s got my attention. I open my eyes.



I quietly slip out of bed, but instead of following her to the kitchen, I duck into the bathroom, get into the bathtub, and hunker down. The cool white porcelain touches my bare arms and jolts me awake. Laying there, I allow myself a minute to process our invasion. Only a small window sits above the toilet, and it is too high above the ground outside for him to be able to see in. The fear of seeing his face in the window looking back at mine floods the corners of my mind. “Lydia, honey, what are you doing in here?” I look up to find my mother in the doorway, in her red flannel nightgown.

“I don’t want to see his face, Ma. I can’t see his face.”

“Ok.  I get it, but we need to stay close together, so we can figure out what to do.”

I grab my mother’s hand as she leads me to the kitchen where Jordan stands at the kitchen sink, trying to track the movements of the man outside.

My mother interrupts Jordan’s vigilance with a serious tone, “Girls, where are your cell phones? I can’t get service on mine.” Jordan and I move swiftly and without hesitation to the outlet underneath the kitchen table where we charge them overnight. I flip open my phone hoping find three bars in the upper right hand corner of the screen, but panic overwhelms me when all I see is a tiny satellite with a dish circling around it. Roaming.

Of course our cell phones are out of service. We are in the middle of the Poconos. It takes twenty minutes of dirt roads that wind and twist through the mountains just to get a veggie omelet and home fries at the nearest diner Saturday mornings. We are planted in the middle of nowhere.

Suddenly my ears have moved outside. I become aware of the sounds the man is making. “What is he shouting, Ma?” The three of us turn still and quiet.

Pussy!….Lil’ Bitch!….”Pussy!”

“What the hell?!” Somehow these words feel personal considering we are three women, alone. My palms sweat and I begin biting my nails – a nervous tick I’ve never been able to get rid of.

“Jesus Ma, he’s trying to get in your car now!” Jordan has moved to the living room window overlooking the long gravel driveway. “What does he want?” Much less concerned with staying within the shadows than my mother and I, she moves from window to window with less care. Though her lack of consideration for not being seen may be interpreted as fearlessness, the slightly higher pitch in her voice lets me know she too is afraid.


I turn to find my mom frantically searching through the junk drawer in the kitchen. “Lydie, please help me find the cord to connect this landline.” Even with her glasses on, my mother has a hard time seeing, let alone trying to dig through a messy drawer in the dark. I rub her back and squeeze her shoulder to let her know I’m there to help, and begin my somewhat less blind treasure hunt. I first feel rubber bands, then zip ties, then odd keys, then a box of matches when finally my fingers settle on thin hard plastic and I pull.

Before my mother can start dialing, the man’s face appears in the front picture window of our cedar cabin. Time stops and we hold our collective breath. The sounds in my head compete for clarity.  Buzzing, fuzzy, static cacophony of useless noise, my eyes burn from fear of what might appear when I reopen them, and my body feels glued to the ground like I’m living one of those perpetual nightmares where I can’t move my feet to run away or lift my fists to fight back. I’m motionless. Coming out of the mind-numbing fog, I hear struggle and desperation in my mother’s voice. “What do you mean ‘Is this an emergency?’ There is a man trying to see and break into our cabin.  We’re alone here, just me and my girls.  We are afraid. Please send someone…” I turn to see the terror on her face as she realizes just HOW alone we are. Her body reflects growing panic.  Eyebrows furrowed, jaws tensed, shoulders slumped, our eyes meet. My mother’s entire demeanor shifts. She places her arms at her sides, puts her shoulders back, and with a calm face and tone of voice tells the operator, “Listen. If you don’t get someone out here soon and this man breaks in, I’m going to kill him with this fireplace poker.  Are you comfortable with that?”

Jordan’s body perks up from the corner of the living room where she had been watching him. She walks over and picks up the poker from the side of the fire place, “Oh, I’ll definitely kill him with this if he gets in.”  Mom nods.  We have a plan.

“We should boil water!” I chime in. They turn to look at me as if I had suggested we invite him in for tea.

“What are you talking about?” Jordan scoffs.

“You know. We boil the water so if he gets in we can throw it on him and he’ll be so distracted by the pain of the burn that it’ll be easier for us to take him.”

“C’mon, Lyd. That’s a waste of time. If he gets in mom and I can totally take him.” I know she’s right.

My mother, sister, and I are statuesque. We’ve been called Vikings our entire lives because of our long blonde hair and height. I am the smallest, standing at five-foot-eight-inches, and Jordan towers at a remarkable six feet. We are fighters. She is right, and I know that, but my ego stings because I’ve suggested boiling water and now I’m aware of the frailty of my plan.

Shifting away from the defense of my feelings to the defense of our lives, the front door knob begins to jiggle. “Pussy” and “Lil’ Bitch” sound louder now throughout the cabin and we band together. “We’re going to get through this, girls,” my mother reassures us, as she squeezes her free hand tighter around mine. We stay huddled together side by side, shoulder to shoulder, with makeshift weapons in hand. I look over to see my mother and sister’s eyes transfixed on the front door and suddenly feel a wave of relief shower over me. If this crazy “Pussy” yelling man breaks into our safe haven, together we will get rid of him.  Like everything we’ve done so far in our lives, we will get through this as a unit. My confidence in us grows as I mentally list the many challenges we’ve faced and conquered: packing up our apartment in New York, driving the Ryder truck to Pennsylvania with all of our belongings on board, carrying all of our heavy furniture up to our second floor apartment, entering an entirely new school system, making friends from scratch, putting up a six-foot Christmas tree that the kind seller let us have for free because he somehow sensed the depth of our struggle.  Just like everything else we’ve done, we three Viking women will band together and get it done.



Bright lights first pierce and then flood the gravel driveway and the screen door slams shut. We rush over to the windows to witness the unfolding action. Two middle-aged male police officers jump out of the cop car and chase the man who has been invading our privacy slip behind the garage and into the woods.

The police officers separate and ambush him behind the outbuilding at the edge of the forest. Wearing pants barely up around his waist, a dirty black shirt with holes and tears, with unkempt hair that looks like it smells of cheap whiskey, stale cigarettes and sweat, the police officers usher him roughly past the front door and push him into the back of the car, cuffed and stuffed.

We stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, in the light above the picture window and watch as the arrest takes place. We don’t move, but I listen to us breathe.

Breaking the silence and, as usual, providing the random comic relief, my mother asks “He looks like a Hank, doesn’t he?”

“Definitely” Jordan and I respond in unplanned unison, and that is how this unknown terrorist-of-the-night will forever be known to us.



I crawl under the quilt, tucked between my mother and sister and feel their warmth on either side of me. For the rest of the night, we sleep together. We sleep together not for fear, but because there’s nothing more healing than the comfort of our togetherness.




Lydia Dozoretz is a junior studying Adolescent Education – English at SUNY Geneseo. Lydia hails from Binghamton, NY where her mother and sister live – without Hank.  Living off campus in an apartment on Conesus Lake, she found inspiration for this piece during a morning walk. To this day, Lydia enjoys a weekend in the mountains, hiking and camping, with her family and pups, Dodger and Bruno.



The Pumpkin

Split open over
double yellow lines
of the black
a speckled pumpkin
away from my boot.

Now cracked apart at the
Chunks of tiffany blue and
orange lay strewn across the asphalt.

Seeds dance
Ripped from their shell.
Prance to their silent music
A first and final symphony.

There’s a certain kind of feeling, to stand
in the middle of the road.
Free to corrupt

We stand on top of our
looking down at a skinny trail
of seeds and guts.

Harmless destruction.
Thoughts slip.
Fields stretch on and on
Our mangled pumpkin proof of what has
come and gone



IMG_3125 (1)Krista Borst is an English and History double major at SUNY Geneseo.  She is from Brooklyn, NY.  Enjoys watching Marvel movies multiple times in the theater.  She wishes  she had time to read all the books she brought with her to college, which are now dusty under her bed.  When walking around campus on an adventure with her trustee companion Isabel Keane, they kicked a pumpkin up a hill to distract themselves from breathlessness, which was the inspiration for this poem.

Side Effects of Smoking


I am fifteen years old, trapped at a football game when my two best friends approach me. I knew they were up to something as soon as I felt Ellie’s impish smile tingle my skin. I start to squirm.

“Hey, Madi,” Ellie taunts a few yards away, “wanna get out of here?”

I am dressing a hotdog I had just bought from the concession stand, and upon hearing her call out my name I misjudge the ketchup-to-dog trajectory and miss, spilling ketchup all over the aluminum table.

“What?” I barely breathe out. “Where would we go?”

“We’re gonna go to Tanglewood!” Chelsea reveals as the two get closer, with her normal vigor and enthusiasm. I forget about my hotdog and the three of us hug once they are close enough. Ellie moves in closer and I can almost feel her breath on my cheek, it smells like Oreos and toothpaste.

“We’re gonna go smoke cigars in Tanglewood, are you down?” She asks in a constrained whisper and she is so intense that the question comes out as a swift statement. I feel like everybody can hear.

“Wait, cigars? We’re on the cross country team… what happens if we get caught?” An exited tightness edges its way into my chest when I start to realize that yes, I am in fact down to go with them and that I don’t necessarily care if we get caught.

“Dude we’re totally not gonna get caught, we’ll be fine. Chelsea bought Febreeze, gum, and car freshener for the ride home. Let’s go.” She pushes my shoulder. If this were anyone else, I would have considered it to be peer pressure. But the thing is, it isn’t about the cigars. It isn’t about smoking something and rebelling against our parents. It’s not even about ditching the football game we are at. It’s about a shared experience and doing something meaningful, together. Plus, the push is lighthearted and she is my best friend, so I agree to go to Tanglewood.

We gush about the cigars the entire car ride there.

“What kind of cigars are they?”

“White Owls, of course,” Chelsea is confident when she states this, as if it is the only plausible response to my question. She is eighteen and seems to know the ropes when it comes to tobacco products and the like. She drives to Tanglewood as if she knows the roads backwards with her eyes closed.

Is that obvious? Hold your enthusiasm, Madi. Pull back. You know what you’re getting into. You know what you’re doing.

“Well, what flavor did you get?”

“We picked out four. Cherry, black cherry, grape, and strawberry.”

My goodness, four kinds? How many more flavors could there be? There are two kinds of cherry?

“Cool. Alright, cool, yeah sounds great,” I say this as if those were the flavors I would have obviously picked out as well if I had been old enough to buy them.

Ellie can’t wait to crack open one of the cigars. They’re the kind that come in different colored plastic tubes that have a screw-in lid in case you decide to end the cigar early and keep it for later.

“Chelsea, can’t you drive faster?” Ellie is quite literally sitting on the edge of her seat and hasn’t bothered to buckle in. She isn’t even phased by the sharp twists in the hills that lead to Tanglewood. This is unsurprising to me—Ellie does what Ellie wants and everyone knows it.

I can still hear the soft crunch of tires rolling over the tiny grey rocks of Tanglewood’s entrance. As we exit the car, I realize the forest is beckoning to us. The rustle of the trees pine to our small troupe, promising tomfoolery and the first taste of nicotine and tobacco on our tongues.

With Chelsea as our ring leader, we tromp through the wood dodging roots and large rocks along the way. She navigates the forest as if an old sage had once shone her the way before.

“Where are you taking us? Have you been here before?” I inquire.

“You’ll see,” Chelsea responds with a sly smile, looking back at me. “Ryan took me here once.”

Ah, Ryan. This place must be special.

“Chelsea, how much longer is this walk?” Ellie whines, but it’s not because she’s a brat. Just an eager-beaver ready to get a taste of something naughty.

“We’ll be there soon,” evading her question, Chelsea brushes it away with a simple smile most likely bemused at Ellie’s impatience, and I laugh along with her.

The air is thick, and sweet with the smell of rotting wood and the fresh scent of pine and other coniferous plants. Sweat lines our brows and I can’t tell if the perspiration is from the heat of the day or the moment. Maybe it’s both.

Tanglewood is so dense and full of textures and twists and turns– when there is a sudden break in the conifers we are taken aback. We go from being surrounded by green, pine needles, and sap-soaked tree trunks to a wide open space of orange, red, and brown leaves in an instant. There are tiny creeks sleeping in the lowest curves of the leafy hill and fallen tree trunks bowing over streams, creating natural bridges and spots for sitting– just for us. As the endless green made an abrupt break, so did any internal worries. We ran into the wood, kicking up leaves and dirt as we went.

Our small company subconsciously picks the centermost log as our spot to smoke. Nestled in a rivulet which flows over slimy rocks, the log acts as a multitude of things; a balance beam for clumsy teenage girls, an unstable table for our almost empty lighter and cheap cigars, a damp seat for our butts, and even a bed to balance and lay on for those of us who dare try it out. The log is in the center of the orange autumn oasis, and this becomes our small private universe.

No one knows how to properly light a cigar. Minutes seem to melt into decades as Ellie and I wait for Chelsea to light one, flicking the Bic into almost into extinction. Our fingertips fumble over the spark wheel in an attempt to bring the butane to life and then we have it.

“Give it here give it here, I wanna try and blow an ‘O!’” Ellie grabs at the cigar and Chelsea pulls away just in time to keep it out of Ellie’s reach.

“Patience, Ellie, jeeze will ya chill out? Madi, do you wanna try it?” she looks me the eye.

“Yeah, I could try.” I feel special that Chelsea lets me smoke before Ellie. They are sisters after all. “How do you do it, exactly?”

“Here, I’ll show you. Puff on the cigar. Draw in the smoke as if you’re sucking something through a straw but don’t inhale it,” as she explains, she uses the lit end of the first cigar to light the second. This process is much quicker than it was with the lighter.

She gives the cigar back to me and we quietly puff together, and then Chelsea shares hers with Ellie. Before I can even get a few solid draws off of mine, Ellie starts hacking.

“Ooooooohhhhh my god, I think… I think I’m a little high!” Ellie gets up and does a stupid dance near the crick. “Did you know you could get a tobacco high?!” Chelsea rolls her eyes at her. A large part of me wants to try inhaling, wants to already know how to inhale, and wants to inhale better than anybody in the whole forest.
I didn’t end up learning how to inhale that day.

Nevertheless, we take turns trying each other’s cigars, attempting to blow smoke rings and teaching each other different tricks like how to French-inhale. We conclude it’s too windy to puff perfect “O’s,” and that the French-inhale is the sexiest thing since sliced bread.

Years pass.

My ten best friends and I all share a joint in the dark, this time on a different log in a different area of the forest. Tanglewood is the same, with bridges made of logs and trodden paths created from decades of dog walks and annual summer teenage shenanigans. Soft green moss and brown bark still cover every inch, and every surface smells of dirt and fresh air. It is gritty and it is what I think of when I hear the word “home.” We giggle and trip over roots as we navigate our way through the pitch black. Years ago I would have been afraid to come here past ten PM, afraid of the unknown noises in the brush, the night so dark shadows can’t even be seen. But tonight is different, it is not my first or even my second rodeo.

Tonight I am leading the way with Ellie, sharing the ways of this forest with newcomers. No one questions where we’re going, no one fights over the rotation of the joint, and no one is worried about getting caught because we are young and filled with love for each other and new experiences.


It is my first day of classes at Geneseo. I am sitting outside of Milne smoking a cigarette. I no longer have to question how to smoke, I just smoke. It is as easy as breathing, maybe easier. I sit near a blue picnic table, and I know this is a smoking spot because I’ve come to know how to identify the signs over the years; empty cigarette packs here and there, small brown circles in the picnic table where people have ashed their perspective tobacco products, and cigarette butts litter the periphery of the space. I sit feeling alone despite the grubby young man who sits parallel to me. He smokes Senecas—a staple of Geneseo smokers, but I didn’t know it at the time—and I recognize the coffee mug he is sipping out of as one from a local festival near my hometown.

“Are you from Ithaca?” I decide to ask; being timid has never paid off in my experience.

“Yeah, well actually I’m from Trumansburg but it’s the same area,” he replies, and the discussion opens up.

I tell him my name, he says his is Joe and we shake hands. I make my first friend at Geneseo.

Side effects of smoking include: increased risk of stroke and brain damage, loss of sense, smell, and taste, yellow teeth, tooth decay, bad breath, and cancer.

Side effects of smoking include late night talks outside on a summer night. Laughs so big they hurt your belly while sitting on a bridge. Cigarette kisses that taste like tar and love. Meeting new people outside of libraries or at parties. Experiencing your friends in a new light. Warm memories.



Madi Bussmann is a first semester junior at Geneseo, originally from Elmira Heights, NY.  Some of Madi’s favorite things to do are eating her friends’ food, petting dogs, and doing puzzles.  If asked what type of lettuce she would be if she were a type of lettuce, she would say spring mix.  Madi is an adolescent English education major and hopes to teach and inspire eighth grade students someday.

Settling In


I had stayed late at school, long after the last bus left, for some club or tutoring I had felt obligated to partake in just to claim involvement with something other than my own misery. I found myself walking home in solitude. Following the curve of a street lacking sidewalks and careful drivers, my feet dragged along cracked asphalt; my shoulders slumped under a backpack stuffed to the brim with binders and books.

The rush of winter wind whipping past sent my hair flying as I made the dreadful trek towards my house. I imagined the click of my heels filling my ears to be similar to the chatter I would have heard if it had been just a few hours earlier, surrounded by my peers stuffed on the school bus heading home. Any other time I would have loathed sitting on that stuffy old bus, but I missed the routine. I longed for the courage to ask a friend for a lift. Knowing that my parents wouldn’t be able to return the favor hindered me, too terrified to tell my friends much of anything that was going on at home; I just assumed they didn’t really care. A fugitive to my own feelings, I let them collect dust like an army of overlooked knick-knacks. I marinated in my own melancholy; and it was no one’s fault but my own.

Most of my days were spent stuck in a daydream. I drifted through my freshman year of high school as if I was on autopilot, learning the hard way that nothing would ever be as perfect as I imagined it to be.

Climbing my way through suburbia and into my own neighborhood, I trudged past warmly lit homes with white picket fences boxing in the beauty of something I was no longer accustomed to. My closely-knit community was placed in the northernmost point of Westchester county and had modestly sized homes. The neighborhood itself was a reflection of the middle class citizens who inhabited my small, run-of-the-mill hometown—equally average and mundane. Many of the homes were decorated with carved pumpkins sitting on the stoops where children would color with chalk after school and soccer moms would sit and gossip about the neighbors. I made my way past perfect houses full of perfect children and parents with fewer problems than my own. Feet dragging onwards, I recognized that what I was heading towards no longer felt much like a home.

Up the hill, footfall after footfall, the typical ten-minute hike doubled as I pulled myself onto my own street, my house looming behind the bend. The faded brown siding was looking greyer with age, especially against the orange leaves that covered the ground. Unable to make out much inside the house, I searched through lone sheets of loose-leaf and books until I found the key stuck at the bottom of the bag. My vision of the dog sitting at door, alone, in the dark, came into focus. Turning the key in the lock I let myself inside, and settled in alone.

I had lifted the regular note off the cold kitchen counter. That day it was written on a small lavender post-it note and left next to a can of dog food. I scooped it out into a plastic dish, fully knowing he wouldn’t dare touch it until someone with more authority over him got home. The clank of my keys dropping down to the surface of the countertop echoed off each wall, “Off at treatment, text me when you get home, love you—mom”. My usual dinner of frozen waffles made everything smell somewhat burnt. I ate them with a scrunched up nose while sitting cross-legged on the couch. Warm peanut butter slipped out of my waffle sandwich onto my arm. “Teddy, come here!” I shouted out until the dog came around, and let him lick it off, leaving my arm coated in his slobber. A real treat—one I felt was well deserved.

In that moment we were at peace with the world, snacking on peanut butter in silence. It had been enough. And even though my little ball of fluff of a dog had no grasp of the severity of the situation that surrounded us, he was more than aware that a critical change transpired. I was now the one to take him on his afternoon walks around the neighborhood, the one who put out his dinner, who was there during those odd hours where the afternoons met the nights. Despite the fact that I was probably his least favorite member of the family, I became enough for him.

It was like the few times my Dad and I would spend, driving forty five minutes in each direction, just to see her at the hospital. We were always there the rare occasion she would stay overnight after a surgery. With little tubes hooked into her chest, bundled up in the scratchy blankets they gave everyone. She always looked so small. Things were complicated; things like this were never uncomplicated. Yet seeing her was always enough.

The problem was the treatment plan she was on. While it seemed to be working it had also managed to trigger other health issues. Health issues my parents did everything within their power to leave me in the dark about, making one last attempt to keep me sheltered from the unfortunate brutality of the truth. I let Dad choose the music we listened to as we took the windy road to the hospital: The Cure, Pink Floyd, The Clash, anything he listened to and loved during better times, were now my favorites. The English new wave and rock and roll soothed my soul; the varying elements and instruments in each piece contained some sort of balance that my life had lacked. He needed to know some things were still as good as they used to be. We both wanted to believe it.

I snapped out of it upon hearing the jingle of my dog’s collar as he pranced towards the front door. Ecstatic the loneliness he faced day after day had gone to rest for the night; he sat poised by the door—but then she was home. Exhausted and feeble, but home nonetheless. I dumped my dinner in the trash and headed down to the door, hoping to see the tired-yet kind smile that signified the day had been okay adorn my mom’s face.

“Hey, how was it today?” I gave her a smile as she began peeling off the many layers it now took to keep her warm.

“It was fine, I’m just a little tired.” The same old worn-out words escaped her lips. I watched her slowly make her way upstairs to the couch, her strides short, but she still went on strong. I traded her the wig that undoubtedly left her bald scalp itchy and red, for a hat—a soft, periwinkle cloak of comfort.

“School today was surprisingly okay.” I answered her favorite question to ask before she could even utter the words, and handed her the television remote. “I recited the Shakespearean sonnet I had to memorize and I didn’t freeze up. And I finally went to algebra extra help. It’s starting to make a little more sense”.

She turned on the television and smiled—a real smile, allowing the imaginary elephant resting on my shoulders to stomp away. I listened as she told me all about the ladies she met at chemotherapy, loving getting to hear about the new friendships she was forming, and how happy she was that I finally understood math, at least a little. I told her all about the new songs we were learning in band, and rolled my eyes when she requested her own personal concert. It wasn’t ideal but it was enough. Shifting into a comfortable quiet, I listened to the muted buzz of the television, grabbed my books, and settled in beside her.


Isabel Keane is a freshman Creative Writing major at SUNY Geneseo. She schlepped all across Geneseo with a full bag of books in search for the perfect subject to write about. Ultimately she was reminded of a time in her life where she would occasionally walk home from school alone, usually with a backpack bursting at the seams.


I sit on this bench reminiscing and feel a sense of darkness creeping up on me. My thighs quiver, I go to move but feel paralyzed, chained to this bench as if it is begging for me to stay, begging for some company. I know that feeling all to well.

People start to stare, or at least it seems that way. They probably smell my emptiness. The smell of a girl who hung around too long. They walk past, slow and aware of their surroundings, identical to someone who is first in line at a haunted house. I don’t really blame them. After all, I did go unseen for years, four to be exact, yet lingered around anyway like a ghost creeping through the same hallways day after day.

“Mom, no he won’t.”

“Honey stop, you look beautiful and he will drop dead the moment he see’s that face all dolled up.”

My mother was the kind of lady you wouldn’t avoid at the grocery store. She accepted everyone in every way she could as if she was some godly figure that couldn’t judge. I always admired her for that. After awhile she didn’t quite see what I saw in this man of mine, half the time not even mine, but you get the point, and I was starting to not see either.

“What do you think? I know you don’t like my hair curled but I thought I’d give it another try.”

“Yeah dude, looks fine. Get in the car we are late.”

Usually I’m not alone while sitting here on this bench, but a majority of the time it felt that way. I listen to the silence. It’s become a friend of mine. A friend so special, I take the time to appreciate it each day for many reasons.

I love hanging out with friends, I love trying new foods, I love shopping and enjoying the outdoors. He loved to fight. Bicker, argue, scream about the pettiest little things. Who does that? But also, who enjoys being around that? Memories start to invade every part of me, my body feels heavy with the thoughts as if I ate a little too much for lunch.

“Why can’t you wear something like what she’s wearing?” He shouts. “You never wear what you know I want you to, it’s like you want me to hate you.”

“Why would I wear something I don’t want to?” I sincerely question.

“Because you are MY girlfriend.”

I finally catch my breath. How did he make me feel so insecure, so completely and utterly worthless in such a manner that made me feel wanted? How could he so brutally yet elegantly tear me apart? I doze off in the same way I would when he was arguing over the same damn thing…

“You will be nothing without me, that I promise you.” He sates, for which felt like the sixty-seventh time that day.

“I know.” I start to believe.

He was the type of person you might purposely avoid at a grocery store but he sure was a beaut. His hair was the perfect shade of brown that matched so perfectly with his chocolate brown eyes. He’s the type of person to get dressed up just to go get coffee, all eyes on him; and he sure ate that up. But fight after fight, one broken phone after another, he wasn’t as pretty to look at anymore. I was never pretty to look at according to him. I’d spend just about the whole night getting ready for a guy that never even noticed me. It was almost as if I was getting ready to go on a first date each time we went out, but it never went as well as a first date should go. Nothing a glass of wine or four couldn’t fix though.

My head starts to hurt as if I’ve been drinking for years now, maybe I have been, who knows. A gust of wind passes by which draws my attention to a scar on my lower left leg.

“When you aren’t responding, that means you are cheating on me, it’s common sense!” He screams using all his force to grab my wrist and eventually my phone.

“You are an insecure, average looking girl who seeks attention from others because your own boyfriend won’t give it to you. You disgust me.”

And that was it.

“You can’t leave me, I need you.” He sobs.

“I don’t need you.”

I sit on this bench reminiscing and feel fulfilled. As I begin to open my eyes, I hear a couple bickering about where to eat in the distance. I want to laugh but try my best not too. It was like I was front row at the best comedy show in town. Except prior to this, I was the main character in the show, and the story was my old relationship. I burst out into laughter for the couple to hear. Oops.

People are watching more than ever, or at least I still think they are. But now with a different view. He might be the same, but I am, in a way, reborn. I dare you to walk past now. You’ll see a smiling, relieved face. Walk by and get a sense of relaxation, a sense that you made it out alive from that haunted house. You’ll get a taste of a filling breakfast, the smell of a favorite perfume, the sight of a person who is now free. I sit on this bench on February sixth and I feel warmth, tranquility.


headshot(1) copyElizabeth Henty is currently a junior at Suny Geneseo where she studies English. She was born in Auburn, New York. Elizabeth enjoys reading and writing in her spare time.

The Silence


Barren trees, pines, and a blanket of snow surrounded me.  Underneath my feet, the dark ice of a small pond.  The chill of the air pierced through my snow clothes. Laughter bounced off of the trees that bordered our hide a way, tucked a short distance my aunt’s house.  I pushed off a thin birch tree, letting my boots skate across the ice and looking up at my cousin who was also gliding across the pond looking almost like an apparition.  Small saplings stuck up through the ice and Kathleen’s fiery red hair flickered against the white as she wove around the thin trees.  I flew on the ice; unrestrained, I reached out from tree to tree, weaving as I gripped the rough bark.  

A sharp crack sounded over the laughter echoing through the nearly empty woods.  Black water spilled out over the white of the ice in a gush, a pool of darkness around Kathleen.  My heart sped up, beating erratically and I felt my heart constrict.  Breath returned to my lungs when my mind finally took in the fact that Kathleen had not disappeared completely beneath the water.  In my mind it was summer, I was walking behind Kathleen trying to keep pace.  We wandered along the creek that winded through the woods to the shallow pond a short distance away.  Our eyes focused on the rocks in the soft water bed on the look-out for any amphibious creatures, just like the many days that had passed before.  Panic had pushed those memories out of my mind, but now, the fact that the pond water reached roughly knee height, allowed for amusement to take over.  Kathleen lay in the water, her limbs splashing which more waves of black water gushing over the jagged edges of the ice.  She turned her gaze to me in a glare as laughter once again rang out against the bare frost-crusted trees. Her glare morphed into a smirk as another crack rang out and I felt my boot sink into the cold water straight into the soft mud below, and saw another smaller black pool bloom underneath me.  I managed to swallow down my laughter and asked Kathleen if she was alright as I tugged my boot free of the mud hidden below the water.

“Yeah I’m fine, but just remember Karma always finds you” Kathleen smirked and grabbed my proffered hand as she climbed out of the water.

“Maybe this was your karma for trying to get me to ride my bike here all the way from New Jersey” Kathleen shrugged my retort off with a smile and we took turns making jokes as we headed back to the house.  Despite the cold wetness seeping into my boot my happiness found no end, jokes and laughter filling the sprawling empty yard.

Later we sat in front of the fire and dry off reliving the story to our family who were all o familiar with our antics.  It would be yet another chapter in our endless book of adventures.  I accepted the hot cocoa from my Aunt Anne turned to Kathleen with a smile and saw a glint in her eyes, the spark of satisfaction, one I knew was mirrored in my own eyes.  It was the same glint that would light our eyes through the years to come, through every crazy adventure, that would accompany every laugh, and even every argument.

A thick silence filled the air as Kathleen and I sat in our teepee built a short distance away from the creek that was the site of our ice skating adventure.  I looked out to the flickering flames of our fire and within the rich oranges and reds saw the years pass by.  I saw homemade rope swings, long days in the woods, exploration of the unknown, and crazy stunts. I saw freedom.  I closed my eyes and breathed in the scent of the woods around me; pine, smoke, and that indiscernible scent I could only classify as winter.  Opening my eyes, I glanced up at the yellowing pine needles of our teepee roof the only sign of its decay from winter and remembered its construction.

The frozen ground was cold beneath my knees as I kneeled next to the fallen pine tree cutting off branches to create the outer shell of out teepee.  The winter sun shone brightly off the snow and the glistening river and I could see the faint trail of smoke rise above the trees from the campfire I knew my cousin was starting just out of my sight.  I dragged the many branches over to the small clearing we had designated feeling an ache building in my arms.  The air had a bitter bite but the heat of exertion was a shield to the cold.  An already intricate web of pine and broken branches wove around the wooden feature as I brought the final branches over to Kathleen.  After we had finished weaving the new pine branches and hung our homemade sign on the front we ducked in the entrance to appreciate our efforts.  We had once again found ourselves separated from the rest of the world, tasting the sweetness of life unfettered by the chains of responsibility.  Laying back on the hard snow we filled the silence with stories of our adventures from college.  The six-hour distance had done nothing to diminish our bond.  We laughed and ranted, finally able to vent to someone who despite arguments over poorly tied rope swings, repeated jump scares, and jokes meant specifically to get under the skin, was always there for support.

Now there was no arguments, no rants, and definitely no laughter, only a thick blanket of grief and silence.  I struggled to find words to pierce the tension that pressed in on me from all sides.  I felt a sharp sting behind my eyelids but closed my eyes tight to stop the tears from falling.  The creek that we frequented during many of our childhood adventures was just out of sight, but this time when we returned to Kathleen’s house there would be no hot coco waiting in Aunt Anne’s hands.  All that would be there would be the eight different trays of baked ziti that had been delivered throughout the day by caring neighbors.  We had slipped out of the busy house that was filled with tears and the absence that seemed to be felt throughout the house.  I struggled to offer words of comfort but everything felt disingenuous.  “How are you doing”, “I’m so sorry for your loss”, and “she was such a great woman” had been virtually all we had heard over the past few days.  Before I could force words to pass the block in my throat my cousin’s voice ripped through the silence.

“Do you remember when used to hide in these woods going frog and snake hunting”, She looked over at me and despite the grief in her eyes there was also a spark of amusement that made her small smile look genuine.

“Of course, we always jumped at the chance to escape Mikayla” I laughed and could almost see us hiding behind the trees, my sister’s voice echoing through the woods as we stifled our giggles.

“God she was always trying to get use in trouble and they always believed her.”

“Yeah well we weren’t always the nicest to her either, I mean we did convince her she’d hatched from an egg and was going to turn into a bird, for an entire summer” We both burst out laughing remembering my first summer after moving to New York.

“I thought our moms were going to kick our asses for that one, she totally believed it” my words faded out and the silence took over once again.  The implication of losing Aunt Anne once again crashed over me, memories flickering through my minds, one thought persisting, not anymore.  There would be no new memories of scolding and slaps upside the head, no more cups of hot chocolate to ward of the cold of winter.

“That probably wasn’t the only thing she wanted to kick our ass over” Kathleen’s soft voice eased the silence that followed, removing the tension.  Nearly our entire childhood was filled with noise; laughter, rants, bickering, even whispered plans during manhunt.  Now I realized though that sometimes silence wasn’t so bad.  I wrapped my hand around Kathleen’s shoulders and she leaned into my side.  I felt more than heard her sigh looking out once more at the river, this time drinking in the calm silence that wrapped around us, comforting now rather than suffocating.

Later as we walked through the trees back stepping over the tangle of bushes that scattered the ground, Kathleen came to a stop looking back at me.  “Thank you know, you’re the only one acting normal around me” The words are soft and make me think back to a time nearly ten years ago when she had offered me the same thing, comforting normalcy in the face of the loss of a parent.

I smirked and slung my arm around her shoulders, stepping out onto the worn grass path, “Come on, I’m always awesome you know that”

Kathleen shook her head smiling before replying, “yeah too bad you’ll never to as awesome as me” Kathleen’s house came into sight through the trees.  A mass of cars were parked all over the large driveway alerting us that the house would still be full of guests.  This time though I knew that the grief, the absent presence, though it would still ache, would carry just slightly duller sting.  I could still feel the whole in my heart left behind by my aunt and I knew it would never go away, I would miss her for everyday that passed, but knew that the laughter, the rants, the bickering, and now the silence, shared between us would help heal the ache we carried.

Attach5100_20160501_220638 (1)Erin Anderson is an English Literature major at SUNY Geneseo.  She gains much of her inspiration for writing from her hometown, nature, and childhood.  The inspiration for this piece came while Erin was taking a walk through the Geneseo townhouses during the first snowfall of the year.

The Tree


You are dying.

Your branches wilted,
no longer extend for help.
They twist downward.
You droop, hopeless and

Your leaves have fallen.
No one protects
I hug you to give you warmth,
but the wind goes
Through you,

You’re no longer apart of this world
not yet apart of another

I kiss you to breathe
In life.

But I can’t
I felt,

I felt no life inside of you
just as you felt no life inside of me.


Hey, I’m Cara M. DeJesus but people call me Oko. I’m from Long Island, New York, but currently attend SUNY Geneseo. I’m a freshman psychology major. I have a deep rooted passion for water, but mostly sharks.