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Inscape Magazine
2023 Edition


A Collection of 4 Poems

A Collection of 4 Poems
Abbi Clifton

To My Daughter


It gets exhausting. Late nights

spent alongside hospital beds

stuck in the middle of crowded living

rooms, shoved between coffee tables

and couches. Bleak, aching faces

watching me in hopes that their loved one

has not died. Hospice is draining,

pulling every emotion out of you

like a vacuum. Knowing that

there is no way you can cure them,

only ease their pain is debilitating.


I miss you. Do you remember

when I had two fifteen-year-olds

die within a week span? I almost quit. 

The mornings spent giving them new pain medications knowing there

Is no way to stop the illness. The thought of you being them still brings weight to my chest,

but so does you becoming me. Long days

and nights suffocating me

like an invisible hand pressing

against my lungs.


I wish time worked in our favor.

I leave early and come home late

to muteness cascading through

the house. You were my water

after the draining day. You always

knew how to compensate for the

mourning I endured

each shift. you would even stay up 

all night during my on call shifts

and have hot tea sitting on the

countertop. Now you come home

to an empty room and wait

for the night to pass and morning

to come. Easy has never been

part of our routine.


You’re miles away, jaded by life’s

new expectations. You are fatigued

from hours spent studying and

working until it is time to sleep.

Your days have blended

into being the same day

on repeat. I am anchored,

left to pick up the pieces for 

families while they collapse at the

realization of their loved ones’ 

death, not allowed to

feel the loss

of you.

Seven Empty Cans


I watch as you toss your head back.

The can moving in unison

to your lips,

eyes glossed

like clear coat nail polish.

You look at me

as you crush the can

between your fingers.


It brings me back

to the way you

gazed at me

when we met.

Eyes glimmering

as you moved

your smooth fingers across my lips.


I grab another while you sip

the remains of the last, pop the top

of the silver cylinder,

you respond

with a gentle hand on my cheek.


It's like we’re 16 again,

navigating each other’s bodies; It's my turn to toss

my head back

and feel the carbonation

of intoxication

glide down my throat.


The tingle of tonic

takes me back to the first sip.

Your lips drifting

down my neck,

tipsy is an understatement.

We take sip after sip

between kisses

until sleep beckons us

and there are seven empty cans

on the floor.



Green was invasive

like a termite nest

in an old attic.

It was an empty stomach

aching for the food of acceptance.

It was wanting to be

wanted like you want to be others.


Green was yearning

to be everything I was not.

Beautiful girls

with skin as smooth as velvet,

smiles as brilliant

as galaxies.


Green was consistent.

Always sitting in the pit

of my stomach, waiting

to poison my thoughts.

I wish I looked like her. 

Why not me?

Making me a sponge for insecurity,



Green was wasteful,

never accepting what it was given

but always longing for more, 

consuming me,

spitting me back out

a different version

I was green.


A Girl's Best Friend


A bundle of bristles

paint over insecurities like white-out

on a perfectionist’s project.

Decorate blank cream features

with scarlet cheeks; recreating 

facial structures like a wooden plastic surgeon.


Introduced at the age of 9,

the handle,

a comforting hand to hold;

always there when her reflection

tormented her, like a grade-school bully

mocking her imperfections. Always there,


teaching her a rulebook

that she cannot throw away

no matter how much she suffocates under

layers of perfected

fake skin.

A Message Gone Astray

A Mesage Gone Astray

Iman Ali

Selfishness is not always

tied to the object,

greed is not always

bound to the coin;

Generosity is not always

free of deceit, and

seldom does sincerity

evade the void.


You have painted the canvas

and structured your ways;

now cemented in stone,

even your own predict decay.


Yet when the dawn arrives,

and the light reaches your gaze,

know that it was I

who brought you that new day.


Heed my message;

this message gone astray.


Marquis Whitmire

My father swayed around the room 

grabbing t-shirts, pants, and old shoes. 

His fitted watches that never tick, sticky 

cologne bottles with a mild stench. 

All sat on the dresser, 

awaiting his encounter. 

For whatever reason is this 

my tiny steps pull me in closer. 

Teary eyed, and shaken, 

absorbed in sounds worth breaking. He said this was his final altercation. I

never known him for a liar.


And as swift as a magician, 

his figure faded through the opening, that was once a screen door. 

He would say to pray before I lay. And that I did. 

Upon the sweet smell of biscuits that fill me up come mourning 

and dirty clothes and dishes come sundown. My words blazed as the night

would fall. I spoke them, ever so gently. 

I didn’t want uprooted shouts 

that spring til my eardrums ache. 

I often choke on these words and 

my ears ring with stillness. 

Then, I fall deep into my sheets 

that radiate champagne cheers. 

Legs simply on top of each other, pulling the covers to dress my body. Now the

beast will never get me. 

His physique mirrored an army. 

My mind now as quiet as an abandoned village. Where a population diminished


of fear. Evoking a peculiar idea of where, this prayer for you takes place.  


Or if you even pray at all.


are you still watching?

are you still watching?
Emma Kelly

I have never enjoyed watching TV shows. 

I was never the type of girl to be wrapped up in an episodic format that always ends with 

a cliffhanger 

Just propelling into the next with ease 

Because you have to 

Because you need to know what happens 


I cling to a certain series, a popular one at that 

Five seasons, forty minute episodes. 

A season I started alone back in August when I first came to college, then 

They came along. 

We began watching together, becoming invested together in the wild plot of a television 

series that was originally produced in 2008 


We found interest in it again in 2022 


Laid on laps with laptops propped in beds 

Lounged on floors with TV stacked on top of A.C 

Playing musical chairs with who’s dorm room we would end up in 

I was enthralled. 

With the tv series or him I still am unable to answer which one 

Like all the beautiful things in life 

things came to end

But we still hadn’t finished the show. 

Our show 

We continued as best we can to make it through the final series as him and me 

Instead of a we, instead of an us 

Him and me do the best we can 

Him and me 

Laid on laps with laptops propped on beds 

Lounged on floors with TV stacked on top of A.C 

Fingers holdings hands, the same hands that hold heads close to hearts 

Grasping, yearning 

For some feeling of familiarity that once filled our lives 

It’s there, but it’s so incredibly different 

Because him and me both know that seasons have to end 


With fifteen episodes remaining 

I beg that somehow in some way I can figure out how to make the final season longer. There has to be something, anything to keep him coming over 

Once the season comes to its finale, 

So do we 

Are you still watching?



Tarryn Fredde

At the top of the cliff,

a farmer wipes sweat 

off his brow, just missing 

the outline of child-sized wings

that catch on his plow.


On the cliffside, 

a shepherd glances 

at the callous sky, swears 

he catches a glimpse

of sun-scorched hair.


From the shore, 

a fisherman casts his line,

wondering why the smell 

of waxy, burnt sugar

wafts through the air.


By the time Icarus, 

plumage charred down

to gnarled-branches reaches 

the halcyon waters,

the sun has already begun 

to dip below the horizon.


Like the others, it is unmoved,

rays barely dimmed, as it watches 

the weightlessness of youth melt 

off Icarus’s shoulders.


The boy hits the water headfirst, 

Silently slipping through the waves 

With an unimpressive splash.


Like a flame just blown out,  

the smoke curls towards 

his adolescent eyes, and Icarus 

realizes he will be remembered

solely in the snuffed-out embers 

of his own demise.\



John Anderson

Patrick the healer.

Paving the roads. 

Asphalt spiraling

by the throw of a ball                      

Spewing Arrowhead stadium.              

Forming concession stands out of his hands.                               

Clearing up traffic on I-70 

with a pump fake,

Faking cars left to open up the right lane.

Building a new park in our neighborhood 

with a touchdown dance

Filling potholes on the street

With the shimmering gold and sparkling diamonds of a Super Bowl ring.

Lifting up

The skyscrapers to new heights

A floating city

Held up by a King

In the Sea of Red

Love, compassion, and unity.

Everyone comes together to cheer him on


Internal Dialogue


Life is a prison

24-hour lockdown with no possibility for parole

You eat

You sleep

You play your role

But what if things changed? 

What if things were never again the same?

That sounds nice

I’d like to get outta this cell and do something 

Choose something 

Become someone 

These bars can’t hold me 

Your eyes can’t judge me hard enough for the 

things I will do

I’m gonna require more from myself 

Open doors full of wealth 

I’m gonna stop stressing and do more for my 


My mindset is switched 

Ain’t got no gun on my hip

But I’m finna start shooting shots like I can’t 

fucking miss

I’m gonna become my own rock

I will break out and hide the lock

So when you feel the same

Come ride the wave 

There’s always more room for the extraordinary


Internal Dialogue

Love is like...


Love is like your

Home. You are so excited once you move in

And it’s empty and new and ready for you. 

You palace all of your things where you want them. 

You spend all of your time there and it’s comfortable.

You lie on the couch and prop up your feet.

Sit in front of the fire, 

Sit on the porch and on the deck.

It’s your place, 

Where you belong, 

Your home. 

You move out of that home, and you miss it dearly.

And one day, you turn the corner to that house

And feel that same feeling, but it overwhelms you

The feeling is trying and brings tears to your eyes. 

It’s love.


Love is like...
Magic Show at the Temple of Friendship

Magic Show at the Temple of Friendship

Samantha Bard


I hate endings 

and chapters closing 

and saying goodbye when

I know it’s not really goodbye,

not really,


Because I’ll see you again 

when you come by my town, 

and you know I’ll be waiting, 

so you have to come around, 

and do please remember, for me,

that it makes no difference

if we never speak for the next thirty years, 

and then, in thirty one, 

we go out for tea


Just like that one time 

way, way back last week 

when we talked about going home 

and let ourselves pretend 

that maps were to scale 

like the Midwest was Main Street,

and I’m two blocks south,


So of course we’ll cross paths 

and have tea 

and laugh at

our memories we’ll always have, 

that no one can erase 

because even though our time was brief, 

you've altered my soul indelibly, 

and, please,


Do me one last favor,

and think of me when you can 

because I’ve stuck you in my heart 

like those golden sticker stars,

and god, you know how much I hate to cry,

so what if I don’t say goodbye because

even though it’s ending, 

and it is, 

it is,

it is,

it’s never really an ending when you’ll always be my—


march 4th

march 4th

Simone Collins

i assume it’s the way

the card reader pings in acceptance 

and the avert of my eyes

as they travel down slowly in contempt


but now i see

in between the handprints on a dirty mirror 

all my weaknesses and the oppression of awareness

that clings itself to you 


was it the way your hands strummed along my back that turned 

once iron held independence

to a deceiving ghost

whose presence drifted off in wind 

like that of engine smoke dissipating into the thin

night’s air


there was once an episode of Vampire Diaries

where the protagonist was able to “shut off” her emotion

 and the ability to breathe 

found its way into her lungs 

and heartache felt like miles away


12 years old

and i never would have thought

i would yearn for the wielding of such power, mighty capability, 

and pray for the chance to finally brush my fingertips against the smooth edges of control 


an entity once tangible


a remembrance that forces teeth to clench, 

tears to swell

and shame to drip slowly into my cup of worth 


and you’d think i’d hate you by now


that your unintended glory 

would blind me with rage 


at last 

i don’t. 

i love you greater than yesterday's parade 

of kisses and dreams 


I flinch. At the feeling of my fathers lips brushing against the shell of my ear 

whispering the insecurities that shackle themselves to my ankles 

condemning this once secured walk of confidence 

to become hesitant 

and sluggish, 



and now i’m here 

hugging you so tightly

and breathing in the scent that delivers me simplicity 

and wishing i could place this bucket of needed clay

in front of you


and lather it in between the spaces of bricks 

placing them side by side 

one by one, 

on top of another

until a wall surrounds this bleeding heart 




Emily King

I wanted to be something with teeth. 


But I was born gummy and golden-haired. 

I was not the disembodied spine spiraling 

towards my own savage ends. 


I was the oyster with no vertebrae, the 

supposedly painless creature, just bivalve, just

entrails and a gritty pearl, really just  

a pretty girl who wanted the other things that entrails entail: 

a knife, a sacrificial lamb, all the gods descending

into something just out of sight. 


I wanted to kill the titular prince

in the end

and I wanted to have a shared agreement 

that it was the right thing to do. 


I wanted him to be more than a star 

disappearing in the night. 

I wanted to warn him I’m 

not what he left behind. 


I wanted slitted eyes 

that only see what needs to be done. 

I wanted to be all spine and I wanted 

to wind up and bite and


I wanted to be something with teeth 

and enough venom to kill 

the constraints of space and time.


Because I needed 

to be three parts anger

and only one part sadness. 


Dear Boticelli

Dear Boticelli

Emily King

You know some women are so beautiful 

they are never born at all.

Never girls, 

they come into the world full-breasted, 

pearl-skinned, standing in a shell, 

with long bronze hair blowing 

around their bare asses in the ocean breeze,

and perfect noses too. 


These women, the ones worth painting, don’t cry

and have only the vaguest sense of modesty. 

(After all, she’s sort of trying to cover her boobs

but has an alluring look on her face like she’s asking for it, 

and who could know what a woman really wants?) 


In your “Birth of Venus” 

did she ever wonder: 

Where’s my mother? 

Why am I naked in the cold ocean? 

Where’s my mother? 

Why am I alone?

Did she ever wonder if she was raped? 

Do mythical women ever meet rapists when looking for gods,

or do they struggle to tell the two apart, like the rest of us? 


Women worthy of worship come from Adam’s rib or Zeus’ head or seafoam and Uranus’ ****. 

Women worthy of worship don’t come from other women at all. 

And the men wanted these women most. 

You, Boticelli, knew all this. Why else would a seashell be that big?


The Human Condition

The Human Condition

Kylie Schuster

I’d heal your femur if I could, 

Keep you safe and warm and dry, 

I’d even hunt or gather firewood, 

While you sleep uneasily beneath the night sky. 

I am not a particularly strong or frightening person, 

I don’t know how much damage I could do, 

But I wouldn’t let your condition worsen, 

And I know I'd fight to the death for you. 

Time would pass and I wouldn’t regret it,

All the time I spent nursing your broken bone, 

But death was coming for you, and I couldn’t let it, 

Compassion being one of the few things that we own. 

In the end, we humans are social creatures. 

Despite the extra effort civilization requires 

Our empathetic nature one of our finest features, 

And when we forget that, our humanity retires.


My Heart Lies Here

My Heart Lies Here

Iman Ali

"My heart lies here," I point.

"Below, in these ruins."

The ash falls gently,

The breeze flows, fluid.


"It wasn't always this way," I explain.

"Before, it was content."

The dawn arrives splendidly,

The night never forgets.


"I dreamed that it was mine," I comment.

"Once, when I was young."

The trees stand tall for legacy,

The grass forgoes its tongue.


"I wish I still had it," I gesture.

"Here, in my hollow chest."

Instead, it lies beneath the rubble,

There, forever at rest.


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