Times Square 

by Max Gilman '25 on December 8, 2022
Portfolio Co-Editor


a blue jay
photo creds: pixabay

“Death to the sky!”

Cried ants being beaten out by human heels.

Each morning the crows wake me 

With cackling cries. I think

At least fifty flock to my room.

Spirals without direction,

Drawn in the earth,

Drawn from the ant’s mind,

Aimless spirals, because what the hell

Were we ever following?

Ants and crows don’t speak

Like humans do.

Humans and humans don’t know each other

Like crows and ants do.

I know the crows are in my head

But they still rip me 

From my bed

I wish to cry with ants tonight,

I wish I knew their burden,

I wish they knew mine.

The Unthinkable

by Max Gilman '25 on December 6, 2022
Portfolio Co-Editor


a mom and child under an umbrella
photo creds: pixabay

I hate the way the sun goes down in the evening.
I love to talk with strangers.
I hate to say I could be happier.
I love dancing beneath pine trees.
I hate how I can’t climb ten feet up any tree trunk.
I love appreciating stillness.
I hate spiders and centipedes.
I love to kill them.
I hate to forge a smile.
I love rainy nights and cloudy days.
I hate mirrors.
I love it when grandma phones me.
I hate choking down cold medicine.
I love nostalgic smells.
I hate looking at my words.
I love to pretend.
I hate breaking promises.
I love fiction.
I hate cold stares.
I love to hate everything about myself.

I hate ranking.
I love color.
I hate boxes.
I love mountains.
I hate curbsides.
I love windows.
I hate telling.
I love showing.
I hate practicing.
I love performing.
I hate waiting.
I love running.

I hate how I love to kill bugs.
I love insects with their little lives and wayward worlds.
I hate to ruin lives.
I love to say things I am unsure of.
I hate long car drives.
I love older couples.
I hate walking through cities.
I love to see things from a new perspective.
I hate to be looked at.
I love attention.
I hate the shower.
I love singing high-pitched notes I cannot hit.
I hate walking with pace.
I love to confuse.

I love the smell of Church.
I hate my birthday.
I love goodbyes.
I miss my parents.
I wish my words wouldn’t puddle.

I want ink to burst from every hair follicle on my head.
With no secrets left to hide.

For Growing up in Rain

by Max Gilman '25 on December 6, 2022
Portfolio Co-Editor


a raincloud
photo creds: pexels

For grinded-teeth car rides; For growing up. 

For being beaten into pavement; To prove a point. 

For oily cat piss stains beneath the bed; For abandonment. 

For coins and green paper; To live in a shadow. 

For low-tide seas; For a shiny shell that breaks in a year. 


Litter lent my nose the scent nostalgia 

The other day and I refuse to see it pass, 

But cometh the wind— 

Cometh change, 

Immortal is the fleeting day. 


For weathered forehead scars; For fathers. 

For ibuprofen bottles; To kill an ache. 

For peeled orange slices; For open skies. 

For confined education; To warp a nation. 

For teaching gender; For control. 


For suns that set orange, on shady beach sides 

For love beneath umbrellas, that fades, but never dies. 


by Max Gilman '25 on November 3, 2022
Portfolio Co-Editor


a shovel and a pitchfork
photo creds: pixabay

Content warning: graphic violence 

A shovel exuding the earth,

Harking clouds, splattered in red–

Judging which lays beneath dirt,

God fearing pillar to man,

Searing skies with treacherous stares,

Branded children sway to a hurricane’s wind,

Barely fogging outlines of a justice driven structure.

Eventually the skies may clear,

My grandmother told me,

In an age far gone to most,

We won’t believe our eyes,

The day reality fades to fable…

The man had grown in age,

Of gray hair and monotone stance.

His life was theirs,

A man of faith,

A collar and ten charity bucks brimming back pocket,

Wheat fields ran like an old airplane strip,

Stretching to flatten the world,

Through trees-pine-green and a bit cold.

The man was weary toward the town nowadays,

He knew them sinners,

He knew them cold-like night air,

Brittle with secrets snakily steaming,

Confession occurred almost daily,



He heard how affairs were held,

From wives,


Wives would come in fearing

The distance growing in their marriage


The priest went home to contemplate

The state of his town,

The state of his people,

The sinners,

One day while conferring with a teen,

The priest’s judgment overtook logic,

Fuming at the child’s misdoings—

“A stolen Chevrolet truck and an old dude he barely left

Breathing, after whacking him several times with a brick,”


“I am to forgive this devil?”

Thought the captious collared man,

So, insisted a visit to his woodsy abode,

Deep in forest by the town’s border,

Next to the pond that freezes around November,

There, the collared man gripped his shovel,

A divine right rushed through his veins—

“There is more penance in helping your neighbor than merely speaking a few words.”

So he told the lad,

“Help me dig out this weird root back here-“

A concerned mask stretched the length of the boy’s face,

Though he trusted the pastor,

His parents knew him and he was nice,

Then like a predatory instinct,

The pastor flung a shovel far into the boy’s skull,

Before the two reached the door,

Impaling and spilling red,

And spilling,

And spilling.


The clean up was the grueling part.

“Ten Hail Marys and an Our Father. Oh, and go apologize to that man, if you do end up seeing him again.”

Then the teen left the confession booth,

And the collared man sat uneasy,

Tainted like the sinner,

Dissatisfied, haunted by an acidic thought,

To be the sinner,

To be like “them.”

“So Close to Christmas!” December 24th, 2003

by Max Gilman '25 on October 20, 2022
Portfolio Co-Editor


photo creds: pixabay

Home was becoming more of a second abode to the two.

Alice and Sam would stumble in, late hours of the night,

Sighing as they brushed their teeth in an unwanted bathroom.

Laying beside an unloved lover,

Sinking further into cohesive blindness.

Drinking was of the hour, until Alice realized it was the only thing

Barely relating the two anymore,

Besides the damned leering house.

The couple eventually gave up on the drink,

Praising the name Alcoholics Anonymous.

Around then, time slowed to a push,

Allowing them ample space for conversation.

A rekindling began,


Their distance lingered like a stale, molding odor.

Maybe it had something to do with the house they bought,

A little brown-paneled, one-floor residence,

Quaint in sight, but pungent to the nostril,

Like a forest of elder trees,

Growing older, but never dying.

Still, it lurked in the neighborhood,

Odd, still, but breathing,

Almost amphibian.

An older couple, a sickly two who never left the home,

Raised a family there,

And died on the same day,

December 24th, 1989.

Maybe it had something to do with the house they bought,

Or maybe the two were doomed to a mural parting.

No matter,

Alice always thought it was such a shame,

“So close to Christmas!” she would always say,

“Think of the responders that night. It’s terrible.”

One night while throwing himself around the bed,

Sam noticed a wooden beam staring at him,

From above.

It watched him from the ceiling,

Staring, curious,

Almost preying upon his discomfort.

It turned and sneered with a laugh,

Viewing him in new displeasurable angles.

As Sam’s spine repulsed in shock,

Chains of grandiose dread grappled the unkept mind,

Ensnaring it.

He lay like a rug, stained with marks of whimpering terror,

Praying to a god he never believed in.

Eventually, winter stole daylight.

As snow fell, floated, plummeted,

A hole grew in the roof,

Pots froze and the oven ceased a flame,

Little creatures of the creek gathered bellow white ridden cabinets,

Hugging each other, warmly and generously.

As snow fell, floated, plummeted,

Two still silhouettes hugged death like a third lover,

On December 24th, 2003.

Of the Margin and Death’s Door

by Max Gilman '25 on September 29, 2022
Portfolio Co-Editor


Blankets of nightly aura roll through clouds like spirits,

Trembling scarecrows, inviting the unwelcome crow,

Bits of city rubble rain descend to chapels like meteors,

Terrible tales be told like spirals,

Bellowing frogs croak oil like stomach acid,

Taunting figures lurk in your mirrors,

Burning grass leads you to a path,

To bodies strewn in sickly rain mud,

But your eyes meet the stars,

Tempting your mind to wonder how many,

How many others have made it up there before you?

How many others died, gazing up at a clear night’s sky?

the grim reaper
photo creds: pixabay

Just Yet, Death’s Debt

I chauffeured death to the underworld the other night,

it didn’t bother me as I thought it would,

death was gentle and loving,

holding light, fun conversation for me

as we strode deeper under the vibrant living realm,

I told him it reminded me of an old Emily Dickinson poem,

—I told him I didn’t like some of the words she used.

and I chuckled, exclaiming I’d write my own!

Death laughed with me, an arm around my shoulder,

my two hands on the reins amidst,

—is this what she felt like, riding with death?

Death’s hands were cold and long,

they almost frightened me,

but my nose was often cold,

and was always long,

so I embraced his boney hands around my soft skin,

we bore a matching ring,

—one of gold and blue embers

we didn’t go together well, Death and I,

yet here we were laughing as old friends do,

or maybe something more.

This was supposedly the last time I would ride Death home,

he promised to pick me up the next time we strode together.

—though I always trusted myself more,

when Death would stare through my eyes,

I felt a welcoming coldness,

his eyes were voided with darkness of once brilliant light.

I almost felt myself fall for him again.


finally, we arrived to the abode of death,

he twirled my hair and whispered my favorite words,

through a once xeric tongue,

“My lovely, my darling, when you sing to me, all then once wicked, turns blessed once more.”

A tune we sang in my days of withdrawal,

stop bewitching me, Death,

you beautiful, gentle soul,

don’t tempt me as you do,

with those eyes that beg to see of my passing glance—

—I love you, death, but you won’t be seeing much of me any longer.

“I’m just not ready to be with you, just yet.”

And he smiled and whispered back,

“Then we’ll meet when the time is finally right.”

The dawning of my departure slowly arrived,

as the words I claimed rang renown in my mind cage…

“…to be with you… just yet…”

as I thrusted the ring far from my placid breast,

Death collected his debt and solemnly walked on, to his residence, awaiting my fated arrival, in due time we would again embrace each other as old friends,

or something more…

Help! It’s My Eye! It’s Gone!

by The Cowl Editor on April 8, 2022


by Max Gilman ’25

watercolor of an eye
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

How do you fix a broken eye?

There must be some way to mend the deteriorating oculi,

In the time we live, there must be a way. There must be a way to fix my broken eye.

Without an eye,

it’s easy to spite and spit

with no direction.

With an eye,

I could scowl at those I hate,

but now I row through limbo aimless, directionless,


What if the eye was tampered before birth?

Can you then muster the tools to find out?

Do you have the strength, the courage, the intellect?


as those leaders were before me.

How long did it take ME to notice my bottled vision?

If you take Yourself

Out of the Equation, You’ll find They keep Moving with, Or without You.

Or, more so…

Harboring these shores of ill contentment…

At a certain Point, one Must realize, No-one will Care for your Failing eye. Those “people” Will rip

Your tongue out, for good measure.

You, a puzzle piece,

Society, a corrupted card match.

How long have I known?

Oh goodness! My eye! Both of my eyes?! Help! Please, it’s my eyes! I can’t see! Hey! Help, please! I…I hear you there, Hello!? HEY! HELP ME! PLEASE, I can’t see…goodness…I can’t see.. please please, please, PLEASE, I can still hear all of you pass me, please, oh God, please HELP ME SOMEONE

Am I going mad or simply blind?

Where’s the difference, the line?

How many questions can I ask before I have left all of myself a-front a tabletop?

I would beg you to play me in a game of cards,

but I’m blind now, and I have given up on any solution.

Why must I void? Why do you yearn more?

We’re not playing their game.

We once tried piecing together a puzzle and calling it a city, but when we invested ourselves to the task of the puzzle, we found out we weren’t playing their game.

We found the truth,

the dead birds and unturned stones, the lions and their murderous gain, the telephone poles painted white, the men and their weapons.

We found playing cards,

all double-sided and duplicated.

We found blood and a broken puzzle set,

a puzzle set,

devoid of any fitting piece we have sickly become.


by trogers5 on March 27, 2022


hashtag written in sand
photo creds: pixabay


Max Gilman ’25


“We use our math to create cattle. Shape this way and that, but eventually your lines will be nothing more than a man with a rifle and you, the fawn child.”


Wonder if this windowed world holds something more, 

Peer through the dying streetlight, a window through old construction cranes, 

Slowly does the sky fall to dust, rain ashy illness, the foreshadow of what I like to call, 

The city of FALLEN livelihood, population deceased. 

The people here are mad. 

They hate fiction and all those vibrant colors, 

So took a knife to the unicorn, they did, spilling its blood like a broken faucet, 

The streets bore only blood, 

Only blood, 

And the unicorn’s corpse,  

Continues to be plowed by the onlookers, 


I swear I know some of these people—                                                                                                   The

Folks who eat raw from                                                                                                                          Raining 

Blood. Leaving the                                                                                                                                      Only 

Innocence left to decay, as livelihood—                                                                                           


To collate an obelisk—                                                                                                                                  For, nay, dedicated to the sanctum of wastelands,                                                                                    An 

Unfailing effort roused by an—                                                                                               UNRIGHTEOUS   

Humanity following an illusive ghost, a—                                                                                                    “god” 


I have this odd tingling in my chest,

I feel like a windy grassy plain, 

Cratered by something magnificent 

indented, like the unicorn… 

I feel the tires of the citizens crush the corpse of the lovely unicorn, 

because they hate fiction so… 

The horse’s deformed body lays indented from our continuous wheels…


It’s tiring to drown daily with no swimming route, 

So I plunge into the street puddles, hiding below the walking men, 

And I notice this symmetry, these unholy monuments to perceived honor, 

They cannot see me snarling in these puddles, the water muffles my voice, 

But I will never forget this sight, these “righteous” squabblers, stepping over me, 

—but I know the truth. They walk to work in their enclosure 

They run home in their enclosure. 

They eat from the ones inside the enclosure. 

Maybe they’ll leave for a week, but I will see them again soon… 

In this hell—

In this “Box.” 


A box without lines, A box with lines, A box of lies

A box without lines, A box with lines, A box full of lies

A box with lines, A box with lines, A box of lies

A box with lines, A box with lines, A box of opened and disregarded FIBS. 


There has to be something more,

There must be something more, 


God Created Hell. 

            For people, Like you and I. 

         and he called it GOOD.


We were given shape, lines, 

We were given dead fields and grim city structures, 

We took our lines, 

and spit on fiction

and ran knives through flesh 

and we TOOK our lines,  

We created a city (#)

We called it a # (a city) 


It’s all hopeless, you see? 

You haven’t even noticed yet,  

have you? 


Our “city” is a box.


hey, orbit

by The Cowl Editor on February 11, 2022



pink lilies
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com


by Max Gilman ’25


you became my orbit 

my normal, 

now you don’t know what to say 

neither do i 

i never really knew what to tell you 

if i had, i wouldn’t be here 

these fingers have never been too good 

at reaching for what they need. 

except when the item within my grasp, 

wants to burn my skin to a liquid. 


where then should i orbit—

if not you? 


the blades of lime-green-swordplay would invite my presence, 

i suppose, though they couldn’t have ever denied it. 

i don’t want to lie with the grass, 

it’s too accepting, 

my orbit there, 

boring and bottling. 

i want to orbit you. 

lily was the name of an old friend of mine, along with the flowers that crowd around the ankles, like children, in awe of something stupendously curious. 


hey lily, the person, 

how are things going with you? 

did you ever tell your mom off? 

she always lay unrealistic pressure on you, 

hey lily, the flower, 

how have the days been with you? 

did you ever tell the wind off? 

it always lay unbearable pressure on your skinny stem, 


hey orbit, 

i think i’m ready  

hey orbit, 

i know i ask for a lot 

hey orbit, 

you wanna do this thing, just you and me? 


we could take a minute out of the rotation, 


let’s watch the orbit from Venus,  

—oh and hey, if you can’t stay, i get it. 


Man in Orbit 


“It sure is strange out ‘ere.” 

“You weren’t the first to say that. But yes, it is quite odd, ‘out here.’” 

“Who else said it then?” 

“It is of trivial significance. You just remind me of someone I once knew.” 

“Always so mysterious. You have any friends here?” 

“Here? Only, here…” 

“Well yeah, yer friends and all, ya know, like around here, who’re yer friends?” 

“Aren’t you my friend?” 

“Well, I mean, I guess I’m your friend. But I won’t be sticking around much longer.” 

“Oh yes. And I suppose these ‘friends’ often spend much time together?” 

“Usually. Yeah, they do.”


“Why are you here?” 

“Because I wanted to see the sun, the stars, I don’t know.” 

“Are you satisfied?” 

“I…don’t…know. How do I know when I’m satisfied?” 

“You usually don’t. That’s the worst part.” 

“What? Then why even ask me?” 

“I don’t know. Maybe I hoped you had figured it out.” 

“Yer strange, know that?” 

“Maybe strange is not as bad as they say.” 

“Sure, but maybe it is.” 

“Why are you here? You said you were ‘ready.’ Are you, if you don’t even know why you’re here?” 

“Shit, okay I get it! Obviously there’s stuff I gotta think about.” 

“I think you forget. We’re not friends. I don’t need to tell you what you want to hear.” 

“Yeah. I guess we’re not.” 

“But to answer your question, I’m like you, orbit. I don’t got ‘friends.’ I figured it’d be better to be alone than with someone.” 

“But you’ll lose me too. Why waste the effort?” 

“I don’t know. How many times have I said that to you now?” 


“Yeah, I don’t. Guess it’s just human nature.” 

“Personally, I think you’re ready too.” 

“Yeah, for what?” 


“Quit your orbiting. Stand still and catch your footing. Notice YOUR patterns and promptly dispose of them. Curve your trajectory, aim for a course of YOUR own design. These are the last words I have for you. I hope you learned at least this; it is entirely necessary for one to break from the rotation, at some point. Farewell.” 


And orbit left, for good.


“My only friend…orbit, you told me to leave you. Is this what you want?” 


Farewell Address to “There”


Sometimes I ponder of orbit, 

Of what knowledge was held there for me, 

Of what life wasn’t, 

Of the sun, and how the moon looks to her. 


Dear orbit, 

I’m sorry things couldn’t have worked out. I always hoped we could at least remain friends, though you deny me even that. And that is fine, but it hurts. I was a man in orbit the other night, I didn’t enjoy it as I thought. I was still lonesome, a feeling I had hoped to ease off. I guess when you feel this way, it sticks around for a while. Hey orbit, thanks again for everything we had, even fleeting.  




Someone You Once Knew 

A Moment by the Sun. / The Arrival of the Moon

by The Cowl Editor on December 9, 2021


a sun and a moon
photo creds- pexels

Max Gilman ’25


When presented with an idea, 

One is intrigued to oppose, 

If they have knowledge 

In a field so similar

To that of which is being argued, 


One yearns an ear, 

To lean to with words 

That accumulate

And become known as

The seeking of validation.


When presented with a new idea, 

Accept it, 

At first, 

And try


Instead of


Such validation. 


There she woke up, 

Upon a bed of orange sand, 

To become the observer of an endless sunset, 

Confronted with an infinite horizon. 


Around her lay remains, 

Which a scholar could barely interpret.

The rumble grounded itself, 

With the sand below its structure.


In the moment she sat there, 

In the shifting sand, 

She felt as if time had given her a break, 

For at least the moment, 

To witness such a miraculous sunset,  

A beauty to withhold from no man.

She felt a breeze come from below her.

The breeze threw small rocks


Toward the sitting girl, 

Implanting themselves along her hair.

She left the rocks, though, 

A conscious decision, 

And began standing up.

She knew not why she was here, 

In this desert-like place, 

Surrounded by the empty infrastructures, 

Obtruding about the moving ground, 

Or why the sun was departing from the sky so hesitantly, 

But she admired it there.

As the heat had begun to withdraw

From the barren landing, 

Another breeze lifted the girl’s hair, 

And she thought of its comfort.

Curiosity intrigued the girl,  

Yet she remained

By the spot where she had awaken, 

To witness a splendid picture, 

Emanating art

For art’s sake.




Precious sleep… 



Shocking cold grasp. 

Like the feeling of ice water exposed, 

To warm skin. 

Uncomfortably frigid sand, 

Shifting with her moving arm.

Her mind, 

Ablaze with thought, 


A frightening light 



A spotlight? 



The moon

Has arrived. 

Like an entity of vast, colossal size, 

The moon tore through the air, 

Perching above the world below, 

Looking down in a grim attitude, 

Shedding little light

Around the barren sand

And protruding buildings.

One could say the moon took on a sinister tone

That night, 

As it collected all of itself

Into one cohesive, spherical, godly planet, 

Towering above all those residing

On the puny land

The moon so grimly overlooked.


Then night… 


Begins to overtake the girl, 

As she begins to confront her confusion.





I am in the desert,  

I watched the sun set, 

I must have fallen 





She reaches to her left arm

To now confront the stagnant grip there.


Who could 

It be 

Holding my arm  


Came here 



The girl kicks the blind spot behind her, 

Shifting the sand quickly.

As her body twists

To face the unknown peruser, 

Her heart








No one. 


An empty painting


Of a desert at night,


In a museum.


The girl shrieks, 

Holding her head tight

Between two hands, 


The wrinkles on her face

Too close 




And sand

Don’t mix well, 

But the girl has already begun

Pulling her hair out, 

Spastically dispersing it around her, 


Staring at you, 

The viewer, 



She keeps pulling, 

It keeps coming out.


It comes out like string, 

Loose string, 

As her eyes stare deep and long

Into your eyes, 

The viewers eyes, 

Her eyes,

A midnight black, 

Your eyes.

She knows you watch her with them, 

She knows she is just a character, 

Just a character, 

For your amusement,


The viewer.

She knows she is here, 

In this piece,  

Stagnant and without purpose, 

But to tell the story, 

Laid out before her.


She knows you watch her, 

She knows she is just a character


In a poem, 

In a desert, 

In a painting, 

In a museum, 


In a cage, 

In a cage. 



She’s happy, 


In a cage.


Did you not read the beginning of this piece? 

She seemed happy, 

In a cage.

I thought she seemed happy, 

In a cage.


Join her, 

By leaving your eyes in their rightful sockets, 

Or dare to relinquish this poem’s entertainment, 

Leaving it

Solely to tear your eyes out.