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i am hyper aware that I am alive and breathing                                                    Julia Merante



i was afraid                                                                         i would kill

                                                                                                       my dog

on wednesday

                                                                                                               god forbid :

                                                                                                      he inhales        my muffler's

                                                                                                      carbon monoxide

i cry --


but at least

tears are sweet

& at least they      dry & at least

they are calorie-free   otherwise                                                  where would i be besides

                                                                                                     lost in the peculiar    -

                                                                                                     the in-between


I understand this   asymmetry                                                     is molecular

chemical & confused

or maybe

chemically confused

or maybe intentional-

-ly infused

or maybe perpetual-

-ly bruised

they took every article

of clothing

with strings attached -

they let me choose          which plastic chair but then                they didn't make me

cut my hair with safety scissors

& let me simmer &                                                 swallow the rest

of my vending machine chocolate

square   until

i was taken

to the room with    the windows -                                               under supervision & finally

I         :                                                                               through these incisions

have made the decision to

learn & remember

how to convert

oxygen to carbon dioxide

& Maybe            I can                                                                        finally start        living.


Julia Merante is a second year law student living in Buffalo, New York. She owns 5 winter jackets, 3 dying plants, and is the godmother of 1 cat. Julia graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2020 majoring in English with a concentration in poetry, and she now dedicates her legal studies to policy research on gender disparities and family violence. However, she still makes time for the ones she loves: the aforementioned cat and poetry at large.

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