Happy New Year

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by cottonbro


Mom welcomed me on the couch when I finally decided to return home. I usually avoid home, where the air is ripe with beer and the paint is chipped on all three walls and the mailbox is off its hinges–no one knows its address anyway. 

It was a bit harder this time, without you to play mediator. I like to cry and smash plates and scream words that can’t be taken back. I like to get into an argument about who’s capable of raising a family and who’s grown up to be worthy of anything, but mom kept her eyes closed the whole time.

It was just me and mom this year. I don’t know why I came back; everything good was gone except all the dolls and legos that were replaced by wine bottles in the basement. I had a party all on my own, the ceiling spinning with a disco of stains and blood and meaningless dreams.

I made a lot of promises to myself that night. They went something along the lines of sobering up to smile at life and never returning to the sickness of home. But home plagues me anywhere I go, dragging me back when I think I can see the sun behind the clouds. New Year’s resolutions are meant to be broken.

Even the most perfect people are incapable of staying true to their word. Life doesn’t turn out as planned, no matter how many twists and turns you list, no matter how simple buying groceries is supposed to be. Sometimes perfect people turn their backs on purpose. (Perfect people don’t exist).

I thought you were perfect for me, until I found myself alone in my dorm drowning in lost hope and regret and whiskey. My dorm is the only place I ever am, but my roommate doesn’t know my name. I don’t know hers either.

I wonder how life would have turned out if the sun hadn’t burned through dad’s lifeline and I hadn’t tasted my first sip of heaven from mom’s cabinet after you left the hospital, left me in tears, incapable of looking up from the ground. I learned my lesson: never wear sunscreen.

Maybe next year I’ll succeed in avoiding home. That’s a resolution I’m more likely to keep: I’ll send a postcard decorated with flowers and candles and tombstones to remind mom that the house still exists. And there’s a home where she can finally breathe.

Thoughts in the Bathtub

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Sunsetoned


The world is so peacefully silent
when your head is below water.

Soap suds float around your head
like clouds, and I can imagine
I’m in heaven, where there are no problems
like divorces and money and food
and everyone is too drugged up on ambrosia
to care about the world.

Water plugs up my ears
and drowns out my thoughts
so all there is
is the water, and me
and I cannot tell where the water begins
and I end.

I want to stay forever in the bathtub
with the sweet dream of ambrosia.

Sleepovers

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Liliana Drew


Mommy liked having sleepovers sometimes.
I told her that my room didn’t count,
that sleepovers were at your friend’s house
where you ate dinners you’d never heard of
and devoured their stash of popcorn and m&ms
while watching movies until hours past your bedtime.
But she insisted it was an adult sleepover,
since she was in a bed that wasn’t her own
and I was her bestest friend in the world.

When daddy was away, we planned great parties
to make him jealous.
We baked cookies with extra chocolate chips
and danced to Hannah Montana songs
in our matching pink onesies
and stayed up till three telling ghost stories.
I always woke with a smile and bounded upstairs
to tell daddy all about the adventures he’d missed,
if he was there.

I don’t know why daddy always stayed in his office so long,
when he could have been having all this fun.
But he didn’t like sleepovers anyway.
He claimed sleepovers weren’t for dads like him,
but I think it’s because he didn’t have a pink onesie
to fit in with us.

Even if daddy was home, mommy came
in the middle of the night sometimes.
Barely conscious, I could feel her wrap
her lavender-scented arms around me
and press her damp cheek against my hair
(she always washed her face before bed).
I always reminded her that she had her own sleeping bag
in the corner from all the parties we planned,
but she liked being in my bed when she came so late.

I haven’t told any of my friends about our sleepovers.
They’d think it’s weird, and I should probably grow
out of sleepovers like everyone else,
but sleepovers are our precious little secret,
a night of happiness without care,
just between my mother and I.

Recently mommy decided that we should move
our sleepovers to the hotel by the river.
Usually we only get to go to the hotel for christmas,
when grandma and grandpa come and
we get pancakes at the morning buffet.
It’s like magic every day,
waking up in a white fluffy bed
that I never have to make on my own.

I wish daddy would join us in our sleepovers,
but mommy reminds me that
he doesn’t like sleepovers
and he wants to be alone for a while.
I’m worried something’s wrong,
but mommy assures me that someone named Marissa
will make sure he’s okay.
I’ll just tell him all about my sleepovers
when we finally go home.

banana cream pie

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Marta Dzedyshko


wafting to the old porch swing
where you told me stories about
fauna on the prairie and
mischievous schoolboys
like your life was a folktale
from a world beyond mine
the scent of banana cream pie
promised happiness
warming in the oven at your house

your eyes would grow distant
and my tummy’s grumbles would fade
the seconds blurred faster
on the timer in your hand
that awoke to pull me inside
a hug in your warmth
and then pie in my heart

I never liked bananas but
it’s all i’m hungry for now
just a taste of your sugar
to remedy the sour scar
you left behind

my biological body

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Sora Shimazaki


this body is the one meant for me,
the one meant to encapsulate my soul
and bring me to the heavens,
the only thing I can call my own.

but I don’t like what fate has in store.
the stars aligned askew and
gave me skin that fits all wrong.
I don’t want to claim as mine
this body riddled with epigenetic scars.

I want to erase the past and
demolish the genes that give me bouts
of anxiety and sadness and exhaustion.
my brain is wired wrong, too high strung,
curled in the cold blanket of darkness and
hell-bent on destroying its home with hatred.
I can’t genetically engineer my way
out of self-loathing when my whole genome
is a disease, an incurable cancer attacking
until everything is deleted.

they’re unethical, designer babies,
and apparently perfection is overrated.
luckily for me, there are no perfect genes anyway;
they arise from the confusion of genomes
and the body’s love for mutations.
clearly, in the creation of this body,
my DNA shifted too far from normal.

at this age I’m done growing,
unless you count the hole under my feet.
but there’s a way out if I find it,
if I forget the enticing shortcut of science,
if I forget how I’ve narrowed my chances,
if I remember there’s a god of chances to worship.

it’s true that this is the one body I’ll have,
the body that will take me to the heavens
and claim its rightful place among the gods;
this body of mine, it embodies me
as a god of chance in disguise.

people change as they grow.
they make choices that restrict their composition
and express alien behavior,
make memories that stain their past and future
and gift children with a new mix of abilities.

if I recognize myself and my power
to edit the future, crispr has nothing
on my ability to expel unwanteds
from this body of mine.

Blast You Away

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Liza Summer


The meeting of my nose and a Kleenex
is a nasty natural occurrence,

but today my nostrils trumpet
in celebration of you and me.

If I could yank you out of my life
I would blast you away like snot,

A vile specimen not meant to cling
within me, but meant to be choked

In the folds of a tissue–lotioned because
at least I have a conscience.

You’d end up discarded
in a rank alley where you belong

with your foul green bestiality,
an alien invader in my eminence.

All I needed was to sneeze,
to cleanse my aura of your pollution.

I am struggling to breathe through
your blockage of my dreams.

Just one more whiff of air
and I’ll smell victory.

Drowning in the Sky

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Ayyub Yahaya


The sky is everywhere,
crying on my skin
stomping on my crown
tugging on my feet and
I wish the sky would
let me go.

The sky tries to distract me
with games of flame and
jokes of smoke but
it can’t hide its inner colors
of darkness and defeat.

The sky jerks me into line
by the weathered strings
of my puppet limbs and
I am too close to snapping
from its unattainable forecast.

The sky meets the sea and
parches my lungs with salted
reality and I find that
everywhere I drown.

war-warped

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Elina Krima


time warps in a body’s
unnatural self-defense

denial and destiny pretend
rationed bread is honeyed

isolated victory of warmth
unending war against frostbite

fingers unfeeling and despondent
slipping down your cheek

dusty trails of soot and blood
nowhere to hold so plunge

enter dreams of marigolds
and sunshine rivers

drift me far away
i’m losing and lost

i must have let go
logic blurs with pretense

graveyard groaning questions
corpses without names

you and i among them
warped under life or death

When Plants Cry

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Peter Fazekas


Teardrops from the earth
float up, invisible upside-down
rain from the bloodless veins
of foliage. Liquid leached and
subsistence stolen, from pores
with shattered hasps leak gifts
into the vast beyond that devours,
depletes, destroys. The sky
is the limit.

The sky thrashes the earth,
a torrent of godly grief and
bitter brutality. Thirst unquenchable and
roots unshakeable, from stalks
with straightened spines arises golden
foliage into the storm that floods,
feeds, fortifies. The storm
is the crossroads.

Yesterdays swept from the earth
stream away, gateways to buds
and blossoming belief.
Drought defeated and
aspirations achieved, from soil
with replenished vitality sprout seeds
into the cradle that heartens,
holds, harvests. The cradle
is the destination.

The Mortality of My Ghost

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Ryan Miguel Capili


It’s a slippery slope I’m falling down.
I’m tumbling through life backwards,
climbing mountain ranges that
should only be lush, green plains,
battling hindsight that blinds me
from the staircase ahead.

Each step up cracks the foundation
of yesterday and my heart plummets
five steps below, trailing my soulless
body that drags itself in circles like
life has chained its ankles with unruly
weeds from my backyard.

For all that this body has travelled,
I will leave no footprint. Memories of
smiles have been buried by fear of
the future, and I am but a ghost trapped
in purgatory, illogically wandering amidst
a storm of uncertainty, no light to guide
me through the gateway of moving on.

I watch other ghosts find relief, becoming
human enough to walk the path of happy
success. I wonder what their spirits carry
that mine lacks, and I wonder what brought me
to this haunted place. All I can remember is that
there is only this body and me, this life and my
friendship, this hope and my goals for tomorrow.