Rockefeller in Winter

by Caitlin Bartley '24 on December 8, 2022
Portfolio Staff


a christmas tree
photo creds: pixabay

The glow brightens the scarlet on my nose

and the burning in my chest.

It’s impossible to hide in the radiance,

Hands reaching for hands,


My want sticks out like a sore thumb,

Shining and blazing in the city crowds.

Even when the biting cold

of December stings my cheeks,

I can feel the warmth of New York

amongst the flickering lights.

Caitlin and I: An Imitation of “Borges and I” by Jorge Luis Borges

by Caitlin Bartley '24 on December 6, 2022
Portfolio Staff


a slouching stick figure
photo creds: pixabay

TW: Eating Disorder, Bulimia 

I resent Caitlin for her name. It means pure, from the Gaelic, and she wears it like her Catholic school uniform. Tights, white collared polo, and a pleated skirt. I hate that skirt; the way Caitlin rolls it so that she doesn’t look like a prude but keeps it right above the knee so that she doesn’t look like a slut. I don’t believe in organized religion, but I find my body in a church when Caitlin decides, reciting random words until they sound like the gibberish of prayer.

I pick my cuticles until my skin rips and wear my hair in frizzy braids while Caitlin paints her nails in a French manicure and spends too much money on a haircut. She speaks to give correct answers and affirmations while my thoughts are held captive behind her lips, firmly pressed together, making them thin and pale. If I were to purge my opinions, would it feel just like the first time Caitlin tried to purge her dinner, a slight burning in the throat followed by short-lived satisfaction? See, she doesn’t always have control over my impulses. Our impulses. One day, I will slowly erode her from the inside out. There’s no reality in which purity exists, Caitlin.

The honey-colored highlights she got at seventeen have finally grown out. “Nothing gold can stay.” I read her that poem when she went to college and got a C in chemistry, no longer the honors student that Mommy likes to brag about. Her hair is darker now and some days it falls out in clumps in the shower, clogging the drain. She goes to sleep with it wet and cold on her pillow and doesn’t run a brush through it in the morning. She stops using her name.

The Season of the Witch

by Caitlin Bartley '24 on October 20, 2022
Portfolio Staff


a spellbook
photo creds: pexels

Dark sweaters, messy hair,

Something odd is in the air.

Flushed cheeks, wide grins,

Goosebumps traveling up skin.

Boiling potions, brews of caffeine,

The steam leaves little to be seen.

Frantic pacing, long nights,

Someone has turned out the lights.

Wild winds, scratchy threads,

Nails painted in the deepest red,

Sweet lips, pumpkin pie,

They have fun making boys cry.

Stunning creatures, the women of fall,

Their power has nature in thrall,

Lively eyes, laughs in high pitch,

October is the season of the witch.

Severe Weather Warning

by Caitlin Bartley '24 on September 29, 2022
Portfolio Staff


a snowy field
photo crews: pixabay

The dampness in my jeans makes them look bluer than they really are. The denim feels heavy, bunched up around my thighs, with a novel pressed against my lap, making the paper soggy along the edges. I know the pages will no longer be crisp and straight when they dry, but it’s a rental, so I don’t care. I want to go for a walk. The words in front of my face blur and become fuzzy blobs of black until they look like the scribbled-out garbage that litters my notebooks. I can hear Mom softly laughing from New York because she told me to pack the jacket. It was too large and made me look boxy. The stale flavor of coffee and zero-calorie sugar coats the back of my throat. The taste never leaves. I think I need a new prescription. My skin is clammy where a pair of twin-sized rips expose my knees. If I run my fingers through my hair, will it make the frizz better or worse? When I stand, my shoes make an awkward squeak because they are new and made of patent leather. They are also very wet. To my left, a girl with her laptop open looks up as the silence breaks, giving me a once-over and catching the culprit at the bottom of my feet. Sometimes, I like making noise. There are goosebumps spreading down my legs quicker than a college cold. Just caffeine for lunch again? I guess so. My jeans are still soaked, clinging to me like the coverlet I would grip when I was 5 and the cracks of thunder made the darkness in my room shake. The condensation from the cup leaves a lonely, watery ring on the table. It’s raining hard today.


by Caitlin Bartley '24 on September 8, 2022
Portfolio Staff


two greek gods
photo creds: pixabay

I worship you on a golden altar of daylight,
knees sinking into sand where I sit in supplication,
flaunting you unabashedly with my flushed cheeks
and freckled chest, wearing you like a cross.
You spoil me seductively,
appeasing my appetites with your alms
of apricots and aperol,
arousing my desire with the amorous caress
of your balmy evening air,
awakening my spirit in your seas
of salt and sin.
I would sacrifice the seasons to slave away
under your sun, yet you abandon me unapologetically
once the summer month is done.

The Downfalls of Divination

by trogers5 on May 5, 2022


a potion
photo creds: pixabay

by Caitlin Bartley ’24


Reading tea leaves,

our silly tradition.

Two cups of steaming earl grey,

brewed bitter,

growing cold because of your omission.


I am frozen in time,

entranced by mugs of milky tea,

unaware that the café is closing,

trapped in a space

between fate and reality.


And although we were never proclaimed,

I can still see a future,

one that doesn’t end with my heart maimed,

held together by one

flimsy suture.


I have a thirst for prophecy,

my doubts must be relieved.

You’ll find me here waiting

like a fool,

eager to read your stupid tea leaves.

Meal Prep 

by trogers5 on April 21, 2022


photo creds: pixabay

Caitlin Bartley ’24


At nighttime 

girls are stripped bare, 

washed and dried, 

slathered in oils and moisturizers and serums, 

and dressed in white silks. 

So soft and sweet. 

Girls are put to bed, 

laid on linen sheets, 

eight hours to sleep until the alarm rings. 

This is how girls are prepped  

to be devoured 

by the male gaze. 


At dinnertime 

chickens are skinned, 

washed and dried, 

slathered in oils and herbs and spices, 

and dressed in wine sauces. 

So tender and tasty. 

Chickens are put into the oven, 

laid on baking sheets, 

thirty minutes to cook until the timer beeps. 

This is how chickens are prepped 

 to be devoured 

 by the carnivores.

A World Drawn in Pencil

by The Cowl Editor on April 8, 2022


by Caitlin Bartley ’24

pencil drawings of hands with pencils
Photo courtesy of

I like to imagine that the world was drawn in pencil,

my body an illustration on a canvas.

Just think of all the things I could fix,

stretch marks on my thighs

erased like crooked lines on geometry homework,

coffee stains on my teeth

erased like dirty smudges on clean parchment.

I could sketch contours on my cheeks,

curves on my hips,

life in my eyes.

I like to imagine that the world was drawn in pencil,

my thoughts a rough draft of prose.

Just think of all the things I could fix,

foolish love notes and empty promises

that I’ve written in pen.

I cross out the words a thousand times

but they don’t budge,

mistakes stained on paper like sins on a soul,

names etched into diaries like runes on an ancient tomb.

If they were written with pencil,

I could scrub at the page with an eraser until it was rubbed raw,

leaving nothing behind but a blank sheet

and the ghost of a confession.

If the world was drawn in pencil,

I could rearrange the planets,

realign the stars,

rewrite fate.

I could create constellations,

conquer astrology,

devise a personal game of connect-the-dots.

I could master the universe,

the celestial bodies once crafted by the hands of gods

now at the disposal of my fingertips.

There’s a painting in a museum called The World,

billions of people pass it every day.

I join them and watch from afar

behind a rope of velvet that feels more like steel,

pencil in my pocket,


I listen to art connoisseurs whisper about

brushstrokes and color palettes,

what they might mean.

I don’t know what to think.

I stand in front of the painting until the museum closes,

wishing the world was drawn in pencil.

There is so much I want to fix.


Cracks in the Walls 

by trogers5 on March 27, 2022


butterfly sitting on a flower
photo creds: pixabay

Caitlin Bartley ’24


Nostalgia likes to creep through the cracks in the walls 

And seep its way into my pores to suffocate me in my sleep. 

The air becomes thick with memory, a stifling heat 

That makes my mind hazy with hallucinations. 

When it enters my bloodstream, I slip into oblivion 

And dream of a girl 

That carries herself with the exuberance of a butterfly 

Emerging from a chrysalis, showing off its wings. 


Nostalgia is a callous chemical that injects ignorance into  

My veins and gets me high. The withdrawal is overwhelming, 

The chattering teeth, 

The useless limbs pinned to the bathroom floor, 

My head in a bowl purging lingering naiveté. 

How stupid of me to forget  

That the girl in the dream is now a woman trapped in a nightmare,  

That sparkling trophies and shining report cards 

Will fade on far away shelves, collecting permanent dust. 


I cover my petal pink walls with 

Layer upon layer of gray paint 

To stop nostalgia from sneaking by again. 


I trade in a butterfly for a moth and exist in a hollow cocoon.