Letter From the Editor

2018 Issue

Dear Reader,

It was an honor to be editor-in-chief of this year’s issue of the student literary and art magazine and to work alongside such an amazing staff that made it all possible. I would like to thank everyone who submitted their writing and artwork for consideration. The staff and I truly enjoyed the experience of reviewing the creative work of the SUNY Plattsburgh community, and ultimately the decisions we had to make were very difficult.

Our magazine underwent some critical changes for the 2018 issue, and I am proud to have been a part of making those changes. The 2018 issue of our magazine marks its launch as North Star Literary/Arts Magazine. We made the decision as a staff to disband the name “ZPlatt” after we discovered, while reading Slavery and Freedom in the Mid-Hudson Valley by Michael E. Groth, that our former namesake, Zephaniah Platt, the founder of Plattsburgh, was the owner of a slave named Tone. It was also found by Plattsburgh town historian, Jerry Bates, that Platt owned a second slave named Cato during his lifetime. This year’s magazine staff has made the decision to denounce Platt’s actions in the changing of the magazine’s name. The name “North Star” is a reference to the pole star, which was followed by escaping slaves, and served as a beacon of freedom. Through this decision we hope to encourage others to take similar stances against emblems of discrimination.

It is our hope that North Star Literary/Arts Magazine will continue to be a creative forum for the students of SUNY Plattsburgh for many years to come.

Sincerely,

Sara Ransom

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Poetry: 700 2nd Street

2018 Issue, 2018 Poetry

By: m.rose

and she spoke in a different way
words like yellow maple
leaves

and he spoke in a different way
it was love at first sight

“do you believe in past lives?”

“I do.”

“Perhaps we knew each other
once.”

and then they spoke in the same way
as they walked to the lake
in silence.

 

Poetry: A Central New York Supermarket at Eleven in the Morning

2018 Issue, 2018 Poetry

By:  m.rose

In time
my hair will grow gray
and be very thin.
I have seen women
in supermarkets
pull this off, very well.
Nothing else around them
or within them
lacks color at all.

Another day
and many days
spent in the village market
I saw a hat on a woman

“I like your hat”
I said
“It’s to cover my bald spot”
she said

And we smiled

 

Poetry: A Witness to Destruction

2018 Issue, 2018 Poetry

By: Keely Cohen-Breen

If the world was ripping apart at the seams;

and the sky fell off it’s high seated pedestal

and everyplace sparked from faulty wiring and lit up in fiery glitter

and the oceans raised a fist and left every corner drenched in salty sweet necessity

and the trees uprooted, hiked up their skirts and ran away

and the animals created their own transportation device to float back to their birthplace

and the winds, out of boredom, spiraled out of control

Would we notice?

Would we raise our head five inches upwards witness the beginning of the end?

Could we notice?

Could we peel our eyes away from the personal news device gripped to death in sweaty palms? Should we notice?

Should we bother to even take action in the face of catastrophe?

Good thing the world is not ripping apart at the seams

Or else who knows what we would do.

Poetry: Baked Ziti

2018 Issue, 2018 Poetry

By: Paige English

I’m seven years old.

It’s the second grade, I have six boyfriends, and I’m gonna marry all of them.

I run to the bus stop clutching my Lisa Frank lunchbox, my light-up sketchers smack the sidewalk in perfect harmony with my heartbeat.

Everything was right.

 

I’m seven years old.

I run to my dad crying because he took the training wheels off my bike too soon.

He covers my scraped knee with a bandaid and says “Don’t worry Paige, it’s a long way from your heart.”

Her Band-Aid was the hat she wore to hide the bald patches on her scalp.

A smile that she forced to help her stray from a fate she knew she wasn’t worthy of.

She was head of the school board, she worked 60 hour weeks, she never even missed a dentist appointment.

She did everything right.

 

It was a Tuesday,

February 15, 2005.

A day that came right after one candy-coated with contentment.

I remember my art teacher saying “make something for someone you love.”

I molded an asymmetrical clay heart and illegibly wrote “mom” in purple paint.

I so delicately placed the heart in the front pocket of my backpack, I couldn’t wait to take it home.

 

The sweet sound of squealing brakes precedes a stop sign that swings from the passenger window.

The half glass doors open for my restless feet and near toothless smile,

And I’m running as fast as my second grade legs will take me.

I sprint down the hallway past the stairs and into the living room

But today she doesn’t wait for me.

She’s not sitting in that warm, worn-in leather recliner, in fact it barely retains her body heat.

I felt my heart lodged in my throat and a heated hand on my shoulder that showed me

eyes I had never seen cry.

A rocky voice had rehearsed the words “she’s gone, and I’m so sorry.”

Sorry only goes as far as tear-soaked Hello Kitty comforters and empathetic neighbors bringing baked ziti to your door.

We ate baked ziti in ear piercing silence until it tasted like nausea.

 

I’m seven years old, and I can’t cover this scrape with a Band-Aid.

So instead, I cover myself with her green flannel jacket.

I cover my mouth with my hand so I don’t spit out the reheated baked ziti we’re eating for the fourth time this week.

I cover my mind with denial so I can pretend she’ll still read to me before I fall asleep tonight.

 

She was my training wheels.

I’m still not confident enough to pedal through this life without her, so I walk home.

My beat-up Converse clumsily encounter each crack on the concrete.

I stare down my own reflection in the mirror, freckles speckled across the bridge of my nose accompanied by a complexion that my grandmother says looks remarkably like her daughter

And I reassure myself

“Don’t worry Paige, she’s not a long way from your heart.”

 

Poetry: Counting Red

2018 Issue, 2018 Poetry

By:  Meghan O’Toole

I count red things when my breathing starts to go.

One, two, three.

Does maroon count?

The brake lights on the car in front of me?

Four, five, six.

Red shoes:

Seven, eight.

My breathing returns back to normal.

No inhaler this time:

Panic attack successfully avoided.

 

I’m in class and we’re talking about bed tricks

I can see my body on the floor in front of me

Shaking uncontrollably.

Hyperventilating.

Paralyzed.

One, two, three.

There’s not a lot of red in this room.

I switch to counting backwards from ten.

Ten, nine, eight.

I’m staring at myself, myself stares back from the floor.

My inhaler is red; it’s in my pocket.

Does that make four?

Seven, six, five.

The bed trick. I can’t breathe.

Four, three, two, one.

Someone coughs. I break from my trance.

I’m not on the floor; I’m in my seat.

Back to counting red.

One, two, three, four…

 

The ACC is the best place

to be during a panic attack.

Nearly everything is red.

#GoCards

One, two, three.

My body’s back on the ground;

I step over myself.

Will they call an ambulance?

It looks like a seizure.

There are five tables with four red chairs at each.

I’m at twenty-three right now.

Twenty-four, twenty-five.

I can’t afford an ambulance.

I can’t afford to break down right now.

 

Tim Horton’s shines a bright red beacon

Each red stripe on the sign grounds me.

Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight.

It’s not working.

I need my inhaler.

It’s not in my pocket this time.

Twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one,

The paisley print on the couches distracts me.

I sit and plant my feet on the ground.

Take a deep breath in.

Hold-

One, two, three, four.

Push all the air out,

Close my eyes.

It’s over.

 

Poetry: Dear Women

2018 Issue, 2018 Poetry

By: Erika Winters

Dear Woman,

dear soft and beautiful and sensual woman;

you can be rough around your edges

and jagged along your seams

you’re beautiful any way you please to be

do not leave it up to me

or society

to tell you what you should and shouldn’t be;

let your personality shine or dim

if you feel overconfident or reserved

on your own terms,

but never allow others to designate

your characteristics,

because the build-up

of your character story

is written by the best writer in the world

that shares the same grin as you

when you look back at her,

and her back to you.

 

Dear Woman,

never allow that man or woman

to diminish your happiness,

although it may seem difficult

to cut your own path

whose earth was made

long before your time;

always set your own goals

be the lead character

in your own heroine story;

do not allow people to tell you

how to dress,

how to style your hair,

how your curves fill out all your edges,

which street to go down,

who to look to for help,

or anything that fills your frame;

the picture is ready to be painted,

but it is up to the painter

to start their greatest achievement.

 

Dear Woman,

respect all your sisters

because no one else will;

do not judge them for their assaults,

listen when told;

minority women are not objects to be despised,

or prospects to be owned by a white gaze;

do not think transgender women mean nothing,

because every woman is legitimate,

and they have their own struggles to face;

all the gender non-binary and gender fluid folks

need the respect for you to use proper pronouns,

so when they tell you to use “they/them”

do not tell them it is a grammatical error;

do not be afraid of lesbian or bisexual or pansexual or asexual women,

because homophobia and heterosexism ruins the fabric of existence;

no need for the internalized misogyny;

it will never be welcome here

or anywhere when a fellow woman is in need –

so throw that hyper femininity and white feminism in the trash

where it came from with a sign out front

owned by the patriarchy,

a federally owned dumpster company.

 

Dear Woman,

you do not have to listen to my words,

but only try to empathize;

you understand your own daily struggles,

so I will not attempt to speak on your behalf;

just know that you are loved

and wanted and needed and essential

in a society that has never thought of you,

loved you, seemed like they needed you;

but you are the core of society;

the intricate pattern

whose thread weaves

our system together

and makes it whole;

for without you

there would be no us,

there would be no world.

 

Dear Woman,

you are in me

and I am in you

and we are all within each other.

Poetry: electric pulse

2018 Issue, 2018 Poetry

By:  Erika Winters

i’m falling through the air

my back to the ground

a pastel sky staring down at me

hair lacerating my cheeks

my vision seen through loose tendrils

of slender follicles

 

i stood on the cliff

and flung myself off

it had been my first move

my first real accomplishment

before I lived in a cave

dark and damp was my homeland

 

rang the doorbell to my person

and felt a pulse from my toes

that extended to every particle of blood

filled my aorta and brought it to life

in my head where pleasure now resides

a new person with every new call to life

 

looked at these pulses of energy as my own

saw them coursing through my nerve ends

brain matter that was never in use

brought to life as if brand new

warmed by my ambitions

although the air hits my earlobes cold

 

i remember the cave

dark with a light at the end

they told me never to go

never to walk the fifty feet

to new terrain none of them knew

an unknown place left up to the imagination

 

but soon I shall hit the ground

i may not land on my feet

but at least I have this electric pulse

accompanying me to walk new earth

to scream through pine filled forests

just to hear an echo resound back to me

Poetry: Far Eastern Aesthetic

2018 Issue, 2018 Poetry

By: Gabraella Wescott

Listen to

the sound of the wind

in the trees, the pop, click, tap

resounding through the subways

and on the streets

with the overlying sound of

passing conversations.

Tiny peach and cherry blossoms float

across the country

to the waterways and the riverbanks.

The air presses down,

a blanket made of water,

filling my nostrils and my throat

as if to drown me in the

atmosphere. The city air

pushes new life into my lungs

while the country fields

scream in my ears, the quiet

deafening over the hum

of the cicadas.