Poems from NHV Union Station Guerrilla Open Mic

6/25/202410 min read

Photo by Callista White

On June 13, Connecticunt hosted our first open mic at, where else, but the New Haven Union Train Station. The idea was inspired by Dream Baby Press's Sbarro erotic poetry reading. Although our station Sbarro was not as eager to have us pop-up, we still wanted to lean into idea of bringing art into transitional spaces. So without any permits (sorry!), we setup by the Amtrak side of the train station with picnic blankets, pillows, and art shared despite loudspeaker departure updates. The theme was liminal spaces, and many of the poems shared centered around transportation, personal change, and sitting in transition.

We put on the event with Molly Flanagan, a regular Connecticunt contributor, friend of the mag, and artistic disruptor.

Read a few of the poems shared that evening below!


Molly Flanagan

What does a mean to occupy a place? Do we actually do that enough? Do we spread our legs, not to say “this is ours,” but so we can touch knees? What is so wrong with taking up space? Because someone else is doing it? What if we just did it back? Without thinking? I think a lot of the things we want our community activism to look like is hidden in these bigger systems. Those of us who love shoplifting from big box stores, stealing resources from Yale, and having guerrila poetry readings in train stations, recognize (maybe unconsciously!) that we want some part of what everyone else has. So why not take it? Why not just do it? A few months ago, I asked my new friend Zoe if she ever thought about doing a reading of Connecticunt. I think a lot of us just read it at home or among friends but it’s such a big fricken thing! When I started going out alone more, I started meeting people who knew my writing from the zine. It felt weird. All these kinda dark writings all about pursuing life despite being OK with death are just out being read by some cool random hot people around New Haven. Zoe then told me about another book/reading club Dream Baby Press in NY that had an erotic reading in the Penn Station sbarro. I was rushed out of this station’s sbarro when I tried to ask. Texted Zoe and we just said fuck it. We’ll just show up with some pillows and blankets and call it a day. I was inspired by the pro-Palestinian protests against the Israeli occupation that were held in this train station. But I also thought, does it have to come to that? How can we choose to live and be in disruptive ways so it doesnt turn into war? So we as a society can get used to recognizing what collective action can look like in all spaces. For all reasons. I’m inspired by so many people here who choose leisure and friendship when so many feel forced into work and isolation. But those two states are not separate. Because, you know, I know, we have to kinda handle all of it at once. So like that weird space we occupy between the costumes we wear during the day and our nudity at night, I hope this reading helps you realize the possibilities in connecting. In existing in transience. In not knowing what will happen. But knowing that some things just feel right.


Callista White

Space like
a jump rope scrapin’ ankles and tearin’ holes in hello kitty socks; like my brother wearin’ his moms old dress
behind $5 locks; like him havin’ a baby all the way across the Atlantic sea;
like seein’ nothing of my kid nephew in grown-up me.
Space like the hole in my sheets only you could find; like the webbed distance between two bodies lost to (time).
Time like
lookin’ at clouds through the eyes of a child; like countin’ the minutes of each day between the holes in your smile; like the coolin’ of a rock from brick noontime to thick moonlight;
like that fly at the bottom of your hot can-a’Sprite.
Time like a 10 minute long 1 mile race; like grabbin’ at your hand but only stirrin’ (space).


Mar Pelaez

Kale, if left unattended - ignored by human touch, turns into a tree-like thing.

It arches and bends with the wind.

What else could grow large and study without human intervention?

Dead baby bunny, I’m so sorry I couldn’t even look at you.

Dead parts of me, I’m so sorry I couldn’t even look at you.

Life can be so beautiful through a microscope.

At least if your lover is the kind that injects beauty into simplicity.

Mine only likes the flowers you can find on the side of the road around these parts,

says they’re the only ones meant to be here.

We love the lazy sun and the over-worked moon.

I found myself in a Hartford love story, just like my mom,

big fluffy hair, just like my mom.

Dresses and skirts pulled out of the attic, just like my mom.

Fig leaf type of love, you could call it.

What happens when you take me out of the pot?

Will you still love me if my roots are bound?

Or if I couldn't keep the bonsai alive?

Or if I can never tell who I’m really angry at?

Or if the anger is never truly anger, but a sort of molten, rotting shame?

I’ll let you use my rib cage as a platter, use my pinkie bones to pick food out of your teeth.

One day I’ll finally wake up and decide to be a grown-up.

I’ll sacrifice the little girl in me to whichever higher power I fear the most on any given day

and hope it shows me mercy.

I don’t know if I’m allergic or addicted to transitions,

don’t know north from south or what I’m running towards or from.

Little, wet, prickly thing, beak wide open and shaking,

stuck in the grass

God, you make me want to cry.

No one is coming for you.

I see the fear in you.

I am you.

Leave me here, with the dead bunny and the dying fledgling.

I always thought the crows got an unfair rep anyways.

Dreams + Nightmares of a Notebook

Mar Pelaez

I’ve been feeling like the youngest twenty-four year old there ever was.

I feel so beautiful when I’m outside —

I feel lichen growing on my lungs &

I can always tell which way the current is flowing

just by the smell in the air.

The hawk in my chest is my latest acquaintance.

I reject the fearfulness that runs in my blood,

the fear that seeps into the lines of my face &

all the faces that came before mine.

What do you become when everyone forgets about you?

Where do you go when no one needs you anymore?

I rebuke the fearfulness that flows in my blood.

I pray to the den of foxes at the end of the street for protection.

Isn’t it beautiful // painful how everyday is a little bit different,

how I’ll never have another april twenty third while I’m twenty three?

And how there’s only so many firsts before you run out?

And how the boy next door with his stick and his hat will never be smaller

than he is today

and how the scallions might not make it tomorrow but for today they are

and how the magnolia tree is losing all it’s flowers but we won’t know it’s over until it’s too late

and how a whole entire summer might pass again without remembering to go rollerskating


God Damn It, I didn’t even get to say bye to the baby robins.

Yet still, I shed that fearfulness passed down to me.

I revel in everything small and minuscule.

I want to dance on your puffy, spicy food lips

and I want to throw a party to celebrate the end of my period

and I want to happy cry when I imagine what you were like as a tiny, swaddled baby.

Of Blood


The winds of change blow closed my eyes

Roadrock ground to grains by traffic, this summer’s decades of pollen, apizza crust ash, and a maple leaf pinwheeling free its stem cries

Oh Connecticut haboob –

I am a rank boob arraigning earth – me too, little leaf, we too, blind to Sunoco refugees

Crossing the street to probate court

Pockets of sand (quicksand) playing out on Citizen television

Greyed out, without link,

crimes under Stanislaus’ eyes without address

Rubbing our eyes clean unavailingly towards Autumnal Thailand, confused by hurting eyes for a paradise Gemini, a Shangri la Siam,

Blinking and rubbing our eyes

Through a tunnel to become a Potemkin village king

Promising – as kings do – road work ahead and complaining – as kings must –

That a blinking fix is held up in lethargic governance

(ignoring, by Divine Right, Freddie Fixers) Instead look to Our left in this capital of capital, this capital of pizza

De Legna’s I 🍕 New Haven

Where smoke seemingly from another world strains Our eyes and blinks teary wonder

What of Gaza? Rafah? When will the Eids of March

of June be freed from this cast iron darkness

Reeking of burnt olive?

Flesh char flesh chart flesh charter

Fees to the Lockheed account

O world pinched to zombie pennies by dim and tired Nimrods

Graffitiing over News 8 wallwords with megalopolis pretensions mocked

By seagull laughter from roof nests,

The pusillanimous, neocolonial, shortchanged roofs,

And pigeons squatting over parking garage traffic mirrors, parodies of reflection: uncrossable street

Off the tracks, narrow

All disdain from the descendants of the Jurassic for cars! Cars! Cars! Freighted heritage! Deep time digestif! Even our fantasies of you superheat the air! Munition our breathing! Ka-chow!

Broken eggshell’s yellow soil spilled on the sidewalk

Perhaps an accident

Perhaps a science of breaking until blood

Waged by Calhoun America and his positive goods, thirteen flooded with blood,

And remember the Amistad

So unlike this squirrel failing his punchline

(We look away)


And the cars who killed the joke

Sirening self-regard toward their El Dorado on a hill

Deputized concrete masked by lichen and ivy

Imitating, in spirit, a university A school fort of hard knox

Because their eyes also sting with detritus so Our eyes burn with Our own wet clay which rusts the gothic fence (or is it Our longing breath) behind which the train barks –

And what’s beyond the border? And what’s beneath the bark?

Is that shine on the maple the shine of lifesap?

The winds dry my eyes out and I am forced to burrow into the blinking dark

Exclamations, too many, of paradise outside the cave

Where people must wait absently under cameras and the shadow of timetables

to be nothing, transported,

Reminded all the while by this constant witness they are something to be monitored

Like moles, blind bandits of the dirt

Big Sister We are Small, collection of short poems

Jude Fremd


She is older than me by 13 months.
Looking at us now, you would reverse the order of our births,
For I am height and confidence, booming thunder at a safe distance,
And she is small and quiet, empty-cup rattling against cell wall confinement.
That wasn’t the case ten years ago.
Things never turn out like you think they will.
We are like Paper-doll twins,
She raises her left hand, and,
Mirrored, I raise my right.
Skin deep similarity
With equal and opposite realities,
Best exampled with
To cope,
I consumed.
Reaching out hungry hands to take in everything
That might sate my need to escape.
To cope,
She consumed.
Reaching in hungry hands to hollow out her being
So her cage could match her feelings.
She raised her left hand and,
Mirrored, I raise my right.


We grew up in Washington, the mountainous side.
She taught me a lot about mountains.
Much like mountains,
The body is not made with an easy-access port,
So, much like mountains,
One must make one if they want in.
At night sometimes I’d watch
Razor blades picking away at the remains
Of the past day’s thoughts
From the fleshy teeth of her arms.
She said she felt her mind choking,
She said maybe it’s anemia, the oxygen just wasn’t flowing,
She said it was just a self-dosing,
Knowing she needed iron
To keep her going.
She said,
“Much like mining mountains,
The ore is hidden in veins.
So, much like mining mountains,
One must dig for them.”
So she did.


Ever since I learned how to walk,
I’ve followed in her footsteps.
We are like paper doll twins.
She raised her left hand and,
I raise my right.
Like I said, we grew up with a lot of mountains,
So we learned a lot from the mountains.
For example, in 1980 Mount St. Helens tried to commit suicide but didn’t make it.
The attempt left her face massively scarred.
She is now known to be recognizably unrecognizable,
That happened in 1980, that happened in the past,
That happened and Helen can’t just move past that.
We grew up with a lot of mountains, so we learned a lot from the mountains.
For example,
People are a lot like mountains.
There is a mountain range in our brains
Our thoughts travel the small mountain paths
But if a large enough rock cracks off
It falls and stops the flow of thought because
It can be hard to move past
It can be hard to move on It can be hard to move these mental scars,
These boulders,
From “what is” to “what was”,
From present to past, and, let me say,
There must have been a massive earthquake in her brain,
No wonder she can’t seem to think straight
When her pathways seem pretty unsurpassable.
She, is Mount Saint Helens
And I am just Mount Rainier,
Episodically active, waiting to blow,
Waiting to be recognizably unrecognizable.
We are paper doll twins,
Cut from the same sheet,
Equal and opposite,
And I fear, we are just two repeats.
She the precursor and I the finale.

how i will die

zoe jensen

i know i will die

by someone hitting me with their car.

it could be running through a red light

or not pausing to take a right

or looking at their phone

or going 60 in a 20.

an impersonal connection

to the world

to me

as I criss cross lush New Haven,

splayed by concrete

dotted by nips,

pfas nuzzling into the grass.

If not everyday

Then four times a week

A car will almost hit me.

I try to lock our pupils through the glass.

I want to watch my murderer

Realize they are machine more than man

In real time.

I want my obituary to read:

She hated cars.

This year marks my mom’s second decade of sobriety.

She got behind the wheel trashed, and looked at me, six years old, through the Honda Pilot rearview mirror

We locked pupils.

She knew I would die from this,

I knew I was going to die from this,

And I never saw her sloppy drunk at playdates again.

I want to solve this car issue thing like my mom did with her drinking but I can’t.

Slow Down signs already plastered around by a former bicyclist who suffers from car related strokes,

While signs in P+M urge against bike lanes,

I don’t know how to stop this

How to address this

Besides whispering into each drivers ear:

Love is infinite,

Gas will kill us,

See the light behind my eyes

And I will see it in yours.