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Poetry by alyssa hanna


what do you want to be when you grow up?

i think i said “happy.”
i think i also said a vet
that never put cats to sleep. even at six
i understood the concept, the necessity,
but why, then, didn’t they put nicki’s nan down?
i thought about cornell at eight. i decided
my practice would be free. i would sing
on street corners and tell stories about lost girls
turning to magic; that’s how i would make money.
i would never leave home. and i never wanted
the love of a man; we made a blood pact
at midnight under a full moon that we
would never marry, except we would all
have a wedding party celebrating
the opening of our office, the purchase
of a ranch, a barn, a canary
that only sings on the fourth of july.


i got a letter from your mom and there were
pictures of you folded inside. a picture of you
as a seven year old blonde at your mom’s wedding,
as a brunette graduating high school and
i can tell you’re my sister; same nose, same eyes,
same playing with your earrings when caught in a candid.
she said you were excited to meet me.
in every picture you smile. 

in my dreams we meet and we are instantly
phoebe and piper and prue, sitting on your bed
talking about sex and secrets on a blue coverlet,
thinking witchcraft and sneaking pinot from the cellar,
and you are all i ever wanted when i told god
i needed a sister. you ask what it was like growing up
in new york and i tell you:
two bro’s pizza, bodegas, the days after 9/11, 

the nights i spent awake trying to build a time machine
when i learned you even existed.


alyssa hanna graduated from Purchase College in May 2016 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in History. Her poems have appeared or are upcoming in Reed Magazine, The Naugatuck River Review, Barren Magazine, Rust + Moth, BARNHOUSE, Pidgeonholes, and others. She was also nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2017 James Wright Poetry Competition. alyssa is an aquarium technician in Westchester and lives with her fish and special needs lizards. follow her @alyssawaking on twitter, instagram, ko-fi, and patreon.

Be sure to check out our exclusive interview with alyssa over on the Orson’s Publishing blog.