The Promise — By Kyla McCollough

At night, in my dark sleeplessness, I tell promises

to the stars, to the gods, to the monsters

in my closet and under my bed, to the cicadas who know

what it means to be always looking for love. 

I make promises I want to keep, but really

they’re just full-hearted half-barters,

like a kid who begs his mother for a puppy

or pleads before supper for two scoops

of ice cream, even small ones: I

tell cicada-star-monster-gods

I will be nice to myself. I will love myself

if you just give me someone to love me, too.

These lies I cannot keep. I 

don’t have time to make this kind 

of promise, the courage to wait. 

I do not have the power

to shake hands with an angel or a voodoo man.

I write the promise in sand, in thought clouds

looming overhead, in the not-so-secretly hidden

journal in the bedside table. 

I tell myself, the cicada-star-monster-god,

the weak angel, the wayfaring lover.

I tell only those who won’t hear.

~ Kayla McCollough

Kayla McCollough graduated from PSU in May 2020 with an MA in English. She often writes introspective poems that explore emotions and the daily struggles with anxiety. Sometimes these poems turn into songs. In her spare time, Kayla cares for plants and creates macrame and embroidery projects. When it’s warm, she’s outside soaking up the sun and enjoying birds or other creatures.

Guest Editor Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 24 books, including How Time Moves: New & Selected Poems; Miriam’s Well, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body. Founder of Transformative Language Arts, she leads writing workshops widely, coaches people on writing and right livelihood, and consults on creativity.,,


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