"Universe" - Alicia

"some nights you will feel

like there are a thousand galaxies

exploding in every inch of you

and you are burning too bright

to ever be looked at directly,

and some nights you will feel

impossibly small, like your

whole body could slip through

the spaces between atoms and

never reappear in this world again,

and some nights you will feel

like a paper doll, carefully crafted

and easily blown away, fragile,

too delicate to ever be touched,

and some nights you will feel

like each cell in your body is

made of the strength that holds

the whole planet together,

and that is okay, because you are

made of stardust and minuscule

atoms and breakable bones

and the building blocks of

everything in the universe,

and you are too alive to never

feel anything more than human.”

-credit: Alicia



It’s like running towards the wind, as storms form

within the looming clouds - and gasping for

the comfort of a rhythmic, steady breath,

then choking on its harshness,

until you almost fall, but don’t. 

It’s like hearing the echos of your steps

fade through the trees as you race past them,

until all you can hear

is the sound of your breath

challenging the wind.

And soon, your steps catch on to the rhythm

of the road, and your lungs begin to welcome the

spotty air, and as your mind clears, the path

in front of you seems to clear, too -

To expand.

To welcome you in.

Your feet kick up the dirt behind you,

as you carry on, and the wind howls back at you

a misunderstood, yet comforting reply.

"The Journey", Mary Oliver

"One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice —

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

"Mend your life!"

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and the wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do —

determined to save

the only life you could save.”

- “The Journey”, Mary Oliver

After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes open
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down mid-flight.

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much,
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn…
with every goodbye you learn.

Veronica A. Shoffstall


Near me, a couple holds hands

on the bus, as droplets of residue

from the day-before storm

enter through the ceiling cracks

and form a puddle near

the woman’s feet.

We watch as a small,

inquisitive man stands

to step out between

the train’s cars, and wonder —

does he crave the danger,

or does the danger of such acts

feel less dangerous over time

to a man who has experienced enough

to know that, in this city -

there is thrill in just surviving?

South on 55th

As outsiders, we stroll casually

down the brick laid streets,

kicking at small pebbles 

as the university’s students

pass through us, with their

overstuffed backpacks

and fuller dreams.

The students carry on,

quick and stone-faced,

through the alleys, and through

the old, worn buildings,

which loom, intimidatingly,

over the campus’ streets —

They’re trying to architect

their new worlds, without

knowing where

to start.

Millenium Park

I present myself to the ever-popular,

over-consumed cloud gate -

The silver bean.

A woman stands in my shadow,

and stares back, expressionless

at her silvered self. I examine

her eyes, her lips, her feet,

and wonder what she’ll see next,

once she leaves this place,

whom her thin lips will

next kiss, and where her small

feet will take her.

You see —

we’re formed in the way we

form our experiences, and in the

way our experiences

form us.