Weeding Out the Weak

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Washarapol D BinYo Jundang

Energy pulsates through the vicinity in
lightning-quick streaks, with promises
of minty fresh lungs and
shots from out of the darkness.

Something wet trickles down,
heightening the senses,
inching through a knot of tiny legs and
infinite little particles.

The moisture pools,
the stolen molecules thrum in anticipation
of the vacuum that sucks suddenly
against gravity, toward the electrifying warmth.

Something is crumbling away, microscopically thorough.
Blue seeps through the shock of awareness:
this energy is brighter, more powerful,
tugging all greedy little fingers.

Yet two fingers tug hardest,
and the others wither away
with distant hope, not promised
such a successful surge.

What once crumbled has given way,
and life stabs into the cerulean light:
the earth births a king–
a tyrant, a weed.

death in the wild

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Romawi Namaasli

she is stuck in the dark musk of pine,
dusk sending shadows flitting across her vision—
she cannot tell whether her eyes are open,
whether the black and white spots
blurring, shifting, jumping,
are created by eyelids shut tight
against the nightmare of becoming lost,
or a narrow perception of shrinking:
hunger hollows her bones,
thirst seals her throat tight.

she must have had a voice once,
one that pleaded for lullabies
and sang in a chorus of youthful delight,
but all is silent in the solitude
of hardened moss and buried thoughts;
her body has laid down,
immobile as the forest moves on.

it is easy to be left behind in the face of adversity:
her sisters are better off without memory
of a ghastly face, poisoned
by recognition of worthlessness throughout.
her mother faced no reluctance
in deserting the runt of her prized offspring,
not when the fate of fewer
would be more comfortably bargained for.

now, at least she is prized by someone else:
a maggot crawls leisurely
through the last warmth of her furrowed brow,
and she knows he will be her last friend,
for this meat has too long been tainted
by something decaying deep inside.

Gripes in June

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Josh Hild

I sit in the window of a 40-floor office building,
overlooking traffic speeding off to nowhere.

It’s only been a few weeks without school
and the thrill of freedom has worn thin.

Rain splat-splat-splats to the pounding of my keyboard,
and I am so very tired of the dreariness of adulthood.

It’s not about my brains or quirky personality,
but sucking up enough for dollars that buy cup noodles.

Microwaved meals is one thing in a dorm full of raucous friends,
but a disappointing reality of solitude in the summer.

I’m wondering if this is what real life offers,
and if I should succumb to the possibility of winning the lottery.

I just want to go back to college and get a degree
so I can spend my afternoons emailing demands from the beach.

I promise myself that one day I won’t have so many complaints,
but for now just please let this rain stop drenching my young privilege.

In my Hammock Over the Lake

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Vlada Karpovich

Over the tawny lake
whose creamy facade ripples
with sunlight’s blush,
I once tied a hammock
between two chewed-up trees.

Each carbon-filled ring bears
secrets from best friends and lovers
that exist no more;
I dread the day that these trees
become homogenous memories.

Little oxygen spouts
from these yellowed branches,
but I take a breath
as I swing on this frayed hammock,
praying I don’t go toppling down.

Perhaps it’s time I tied this hammock
in a more peaceful shade,
but every time I become ensnared
in its weathered ropes,
I’m pointed to a blissful horizon.

This lake and the sun
are nature’s healing gift,
and night comes with dreams
of something more permanent
to add to two scarred trunks.

This hammock has held constant,
never swayed by the blows
I launch wailing
after every busy year
I want respite from.

Over the tawny lake
the sun colors my heart,
and I am rejuvenated
by earth’s promise of purpose:
I ground myself back in reality with confidence.

the road back to me

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Frederico Erthal

this road winds back to you
and i’m too tempted to take it.
i want to go back to the beginning
when we were happy and naive—
the time without little digs at our flaws
and colossal jabs at our flawed acquaintance.

i need more than this four hour drive home to heal,
and it feels easier to buoy myself
by heading back to your cabin,
where i can continue to pretend we aren’t
propelling ourselves toward wanting amnesia.

but i know i can’t keep doing this to myself,
so i turn off the loop and onto the highway,
20 miles over the speed limit
so i have a lesser chance of spinning
in the wrong direction.

my mind is drifting everywhere
but the blur of street before me,
and where i will land is entirely uncertain.
i don’t know when i’ll be happy,
but i know that happy has to come from myself.

i’ll be alone, but better,
and i’ll save my memories of happier times.
maybe i’ll learn to play the guitar
and memorize the tune of self worth;
within time i’ll reach the end of the road
back to me.

Ode to Banana Muffins

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Anete Lusina

Goo drips down my hands;
another bad decision
to mash bananas with my fists—
I hate bananas.

Bananas are slimy and stringy
and pockmarked with decay;
they feel like my insides
after my cat passed away.

I’m a mess
and my disaster has spewed to contaminate
the mixing bowl sans spoon
and the counter, now white.

At least i can pretend
to be civilized:
the mixing bowl with a spatula
has produced something like muffin formula.

My foot tap-taps in conspicuous impatience:
the mixing bowl is back to plain metal
and the counter is sparkling already
so I watch the muffins rise.

I torture myself
with vision blinded by the crummy oven door
and thoughts of unworthy muffins—
they looked lumpy in the tin.

But a sweet aroma wafts through the door
and my family approaches as the timer
whittles away my uncertainty:
I will serve a scrumptious breakfast.

A table for four or six or fourteen
and the same amount of smiles
as cinnamon-sugar (and banana) hits their tongues
finally makes the sun rise within me.

Dear banana,
I’m sorry for my disrespect:
within muffins you’re perfect
and I’m happier with you under my nails.

Only a Pinky-Width Apart

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Viktoria Slowikowska

I only have one day with you
before you leave for Europe.
I won’t close my eyes for 24 hours–
you pinky-promised to do that too.

Your pinky is so tiny
I can’t believe you’re old enough
to travel alone;
it feels like just yesterday
I drove you to get strawberry ice cream
and you sat in the booster seat
on the passenger side
so you could get the best views
from the windshield
even though it was dripping with rain.

At least for today
you’re just my little sister.
I’m scared I won’t know you
when the leaves turn red
and you return to school–
the cool kid
who grew up over summer.

But just give me these 24 hours
and I’ll never let them go.
We’re driving to the waterfall
where I taught you to swim,
and the playground since
we still like to swing.
We’re walking down to your preschool
for sentimentality’s sake,
and maybe we’ll get ice cream again
since I can’t get enough
of your bright face.

This day won’t be bittersweet–
just my all-time favorite.
Even when you’re gone,
I’ll look in the mirror and smile
and I’ll see you smile back
all the way from Europe,
since you pinky-promised.

Let me Remember your Sunshine

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Andrea Piacquadio

Memory doesn’t usually work in my favor.
I lose what I love
and I replay what I fear.
Why is my brain so set against
my happiness?

I want to remember yesterday forever:
sweet strawberry bursting onto my tongue,
bubbles floating up and shimmering in the sun,
the warmth from your giant bear-hug.

It’s not fair that
I only get this once a year.
I want to replay your laugh
over and over
until the next year comes.

But what if it never comes?
And I can’t see
through the fog in my brain
to the happiness that surrounded us?

I don’t want to be stuck
in this storm of what-if:
winter will come
but it’s still summer now.

You’re already 247 miles away
but I pretend you’re still here with me,
sitting in a green field of wildflowers,
fresh air brushing my face–
or is that a dandelion tickling my nose?

I’m lying face up,
looking right into the sun:
my eyes are closed
but the sun is still there.
If I burn you into my memory will you stay?
Or will I be blind until next summer comes?


Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Rizky Sabriansyah

I’m a disaster walking
down the street.

Too many pieces to hold together;
as I glitter in the sun
they slip
and I wait
to come crashing down after them.

My mind and my body and my mind
I’m a robber of my own future but
I can’t disguise in daylight
so I melt
                          a shadow
bruises under my eyes.

I see everything in a haze
                          see nothing
a lost wanderer
who won’t ask for directions.

Spinning in circles
                           my mind
down the gutter I’m fruit
once sweet but now
too far gone.

Just need to leave
away, anywhere.
I walk into the street
but don’t raise my hand
                           yellow car
light flashes.

Open my eyes
                           my mind
partially gone
partially whole
I can’t make a collage out of my ugly

Only Wins for Me

Written by Gabriella Troy
Art by Engin Akyurt

Yesterday marked a new beginning.
Can you see how I walk now
on sugar-coated clouds?

I’m high on my sweat,
like the tang of coffee on my lips
and life just stirs
below me
like a straw waiting for me to draw.

I’ve found the key
to the world beyond you:
the trophy on my nightstand
that has only my name–
it’s waiting for every accomplishment
I fulfill.
And I will win;
there’s only me to compete.

I will soar above the sun
and become akin to the stars
you wish upon;
I have wings
and no storm will tear me

I’m alone
and better for it:
with just me,
that self I have loved since yesterday
and will now forever revere,
I will reap
and never be conquered
by your sadness.