East Fork:

A Journal of the Arts​​

Sophia Gugino

melting morning

It was a winter’s day.
Mornings quieter,
Nights longer.
An icy sheet of paper-thin glass
Laid out delicately on the road.

In the front,
A curious little chipmunk rushes out from behind the
Immense pine tree leaning against our house.
It scurried across the lawn,
Snatching a frozen,
Surely hard,

And rushing back to it’s temporary home.

I woke up at an unusual time for me.
8:30 am.

Stepping outside with my bare feet pressed cold
Against the gravel,
I gripped the cup of coffee tightly against my palms,
Letting the heat seep through the holes of my cream-colored, wool sweater.
A thick layer of fog covers the horizon,
Blurring the red and brown brick buildings
That have become a part of my landscape.

I watched as slowly,
The street came to life.
Parents rolling out of bed,
Groaning as their alarms go off,
And tiptoeing down their carpeted staircases,
Trying not to wake their kids.
A single mom, overworked and fatigued,
Planting a kiss on her toddler’s forehead,
Saying goodbye.
The pets of the household,
Already long awoken,
Scurrying towards their owners,
Scratching and whining their way outside.
The outdoor cats roaming the neighborhood,
Searching for breakfast.
The morning stirs of the quiet winter breathing into life.

He snakes out from under your mattress,
Snatching you when you’re vulnerable.
His wide, bony, gray fingers,
Cold like ice.
From then on,
He’s captured you.
His mind-numb slaves have tightened the fraud-soaked cloth around your eyes.
You are blind to the truth,
Slowly believing more and more each day,
The lies he breathes into your ears
When you lie awake, restless, in the night.
A thief.
He has stolen your soul
Right out from under your ignorant, naive nose,
Unable to tell the difference between black and white.
He keeps it on display along with the others he’s drawn in over the years,
Hypnotized beyond control,
Drained of compassion,
Beaten with deception,
Tempted beyond disgust,
Their souls merely a thing of the past,
He wears like a badge,
Anxious to grab ahold of yours,
And to strip it bare of its humanity.
When he is prowling the alleys for the innocent,
He may happen upon you,
At your darkest, weakest moments,
And tap you lightly on the shoulder,
A wide grin spread across his face,
Eager and ready to seize your soul.
He rides in the shadows of the crooks,
The fools don’t think twice about inviting him into their home.
He appears at night, like a thick, unexpected fog
That bathes the lies.
That appears appealing to the utterly broken.
He is not what they seek.

Love is Action

Some people say they have
‘Fallen out of love’
But there is no such thing.
Once you love someone,
There is never a way to un-love them,

As much as we try to muster a solution.

Love isn’t a feeling.
It is not a reaction
It is an action.
Many actions all piled up into this one singular word.

You don’t love someone simply
Because of how they make you feel,
That is only a fraction of it.

You love someone because of the countless times
You have watched them fail, yet try again and again.
You love someone because when you had no one else,
They were there for you, listening and hanging on to every word you said,
Reassuring you when you felt lost and confused,
Inspiring you when the only thing you felt motivated to do was sit on your couch and cry.
Lifting you up and reaching out their hand when you were at the bottom of the pit.
Helping you out of the messes you were in.

You can’t say that that’s a feeling.

Love is strong.
Love is like an anchor, binding your faith in that person,
A rope both of you are balanced on.
Love is patience.
Love is choosing to stay when all you’ve ever done is run.
Love is standing in their shoes,
And accepting it from their viewpoint,
Even when all you want to do is yell and scream how you-and only you-are right.
Love is hard.
Love isn’t simple.
It’s the most complicated thing.
A single word cannot begin to describe this phenomenon expressed by even the cruelest of human beings.
Love isn’t happiness.
It’s not what’s going to make you smile at that one moment.
Love is staying strong for that person
When you’ve wanted so long to curl up into a ball yourself.

Good Neighbors
Kids race down the street,                                                the elite barricade their doors from the
Linked, hand in hand,                                                        the lucky hide their children from the
Erupting in laughter                                                         and the minds of the narcissistic
As they enjoy the sweet summer air.                            Are forbidden from seeing the souls of the

Couples sit out on their porches,                                  We rush out of our paper houses,
Sipping tea and chatting with old friends                    jump into the seats of our ridiculously expensive
About memories long forgotten.                                   Designer cars, hidden beneath tinted windows.
They’ll occasionally wave to a friend                           We keep the private details locked inside,
As they pass by the house,                                              only allowing our children to wander within
Maybe even invite them                                                  the limits of their fenced-in manicured lawns.
To sit with them.                                                              So as to keep them from the ‘dirty street kids’.

A simple invitation                                                          we’ve traded wide, open front porches
Is all that’s needed.                                                          For huge backyard decks,
A way of gratitude,                                                            only meant for the eyes of the deserving.
A gesture of love                                                               That way we can keep our lives private
And peace.                                                                         And aren’t forced to make small talk with
                                                                                              We view as less than us.
When autumn sneaks around the corner,
And the Alexander’s lawn is ridden with leaves,        no longer do we have an honest view
All shades of red, orange, and yellow                            of the world,
You can imagine,                                                                considering we hide behind bolted doors,
The boy and his sister                                                       seeing only what we want to see.
Will gleefully offer to rake their lawns                          we have no tolerance for mistakes.
Free of charge                                                                      we have grown impatient of talking to strangers,
Out of simple hospitality.                                                 Now the only reason for a conversation
Because that is what good neighbors do.                     Is if it is for your own personal gain.

And then comes the ghosts,                                           we lock our hearts away,
Whispering nightmares through the block,               and swallow the key.
With their icy breath leaving chills                              day in and day out
Down your spine.                                                              Is the same droning routine.
Halloween has arrived.                                                    Drained of our patience, energy, and empathy.

So the family gets their fire pit                                      I bet you don’t even know the names of the people
From their backyard,                                                        within a 10 foot radius of your steps.
And brings it around to the front.                                What has this world become
Amber flames engulf the street,                                     that even our neighbors
Inviting neighbors to sit for a while,                             have become irrelevant?
Share stories,                                                                      when describing your life,
Laugh and fill the broken void inside them,              you don’t even recognize the people
With the love of their good neighbor.                         Who have surrounded you since birth.
This is how it should be.                                                 What has become of the good neighbor?

Maiden of the Earth

Your bare feet are on the earth.
Wind whistles through the empty air, filling the space.
Your hair is swept back in a messy heap of waves cascading down your back.
Damp dirt squishes between your toes, cold and soft.

The only sound heard is the yawning of the willow trees
As they bend into life.
Stars slowly start to appear in the sky,
One by one,
For the obliteration of one means the beginning of 2 more.

Gushing of water winds its way through your ears,
Intensifying every time it splashes over a rock on its way down the stream.
Thin, rough pieces of grass rub against your calves,

Almost like sandpaper.

A sudden fluttering in the distance catches your left eye,
And you peer up,
Catching a glimpse of ivory and chestnut dotted feathered wings

Gliding past the trees, accompanied by the distant hoots of an owl.

The creature of the night, who own the night,
Crawl out from their hiding places and scatter every direction,
Prowling the earth for any disturbances,
Acting as the dusk bodyguards,
Doing their job as the daylight walkers did theirs.