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Alita Pirkopf

New England Application


Today I listened closely 

to what a friend’s daughter 

wants from New England.

I will write a college



My parents panicked

at the possibility 

I’d talk over the limit.

“Your three minutes 

are up,” the operator 

interrupted. My parents

agreed. A collect call

not worth that much,

apparently my parents

must have thought. 

And I figured 

that I wasn’t.

I dangled, 


far away,




Wherever I went

within the campus quadrangle,

lugging large, weighty textbooks,

the cold Congregationalist Chapel 

filled my fragmented head

with fear, fire, and brimstone.

I contained myself, 

temporarily sustained

with a tourniquet

in college

I applied


The bell clapper swung    

at my too-close, dormitoried ear,

breaking all hours

like night under lightning. 

I memorized ridiculous jingles

for Great Themes—in music

I begin to get now. In class,

cut off, I cut into a pig embryo,

dead, numb, my tongue severed, 

knives through the heart. Sick

for home.

Before Cell Phones

     Other Connections


I am holding myself

around my hammering heart.

Now I stay, like a trapped

rabbit. Frozen in fear.

Long ago,

we left friends

on the outside

and cut

those connections,

or let them break

and fall apart.




I try again.

After dialing 911,

having the phone

pulled out of my hands,

I have to try again.

The door is locked.

The children sleep.

The phone is dead.

Its sounds end, like

my voice. Silenced.

Everything is



Like a heart, mine,

ripped from my body,

the phone


from a cord.

Your strong, 

muscled arm

stretches out—

in all directions—

blocking the miles

I would run, blocking

the years I would live.

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