top of page

The Gamophobia Games

Izabella Caruso

Like Mike

Too often lately I have hovered the line  

between “my heart isn’t in it” 

and  “I shouldn’t quit” 

because now I must commit 

to one or the other. 

Even though I’m not sure where my head’s at.  

Or who is going to judge me 

(because someone will judge me) 

for one or the other. 

I’ve been left with another  

devotion to let die or survive.  

Fifteen years of giving my body and soul 

 and blood and focus  

to just throw it out the window like  

an overused tissue.  

Matted down, disintegrated, nothing left  

to hold onto; 

It crumbles to the floor in thousands 

of pieces before escaping in the wind.   

I long for, yet so desperately fear, to do the same.  

All that I am left with is a reminder of my best self's words: 

I am the keeper of my own trials and tribulations. 

I am the destroyer of my childhood dreams.  

Bio of My Pet Taipan

I fear my life will be dictated by the choices I make.  

If not the choices I make, then the choices I do not make.  

As these lingering possibilities wind their way through the pathways of my brain,  

Steadily, strangling, every last bit of breath from what could have been.  

I am forced to place the “what-ifs” in a clear glass box,  

unlike the one my Taipan escaped from.  

Now I am left with nothing but eerie thoughts, a half empty box, and so little of breath to make choices.  

Things I Have Committed To 
(but now I'm not sure I wish I did)

  1. Going to the grocery store after work. 

  2. Waking up before 8am on a Saturday morning.

    • (And dinner at the in-laws on a Sunday).

  3. The stack of borrowed library books, with a deadline and a late fee. 

  4. Drinking a cup of coffee every day, or maybe two. I can’t stop!

  5. Driving the 2.5 hours to my best friend’s sister’s co-worker’s baby shower

    • And volunteering to plan practically the whole thing because my best friend’s sister agreed to do it herself. 

  6. Church. Always a 9am, Sunday morning, meet the Lord where I’m at kind of commitment. 

  7. Driving my oldest son to soccer practice…and again…and again…and again… 

  8. Work. I need it, but I sure as hell don’t want it. 

  9. Now that I am making this list, I think about how this is it. This is my life. Everyday. I might add that one to #9. 

Try a Piece, Miss Sassafras 

Stuck between the “she loves me she loves me not” 

Step on a crack, break your boyfriend’s heart 

or whatever other lies are oozing from your tongue 

Until they cut it off 

Like I cut you off…then back on…then back off again… 

To you it’s such a turn-on when I get angry  

When I get angry, I get pissed off 

Just like you did when you got pissed off because your dog pissed on your shoes 

(Those new shoes) 

Walk ten miles in my shoes 

Oh wait, you can’t even do that since you’ve already gotten cold feet 

When all I have ever done is put my best foot forward  

And you stepped on the crack 

Now you know why this poem is called “left at the altar.”  

Here I Fall Free

I decided to decommit from the spores that 

kept me grounded.  

Quick, heavy-hearted, forceful.  

I must not give my limbs much time to think.  

I’ve dreamt for ages about what it would 

be like to fall free 

like the feet that strode below me, stampede 

upon me. I have grown weary.  

No longer a thought, but a need.  

The wind inhales with me for three counts 

strength grounding in my breath,  

I leave the roots that connect me.  

I step out as the burn of my bones ache.  

Breathe. All I have ever asked for. I was released 

like a sneeze. Released from the prison I had made 

of myself. Released from the beating this world has  

enacted on my skin; I fall free.  

Until the bugs and worms divulge in me.  

Still, I fall free. 

Bandaid for a Broken Bone

I deny the greatest sorrows of my pain. 

Not the pain itself, but the sorrows that my pain has endured.  

For it is not the pain that hurts me, it is what is left behind.  

When the aching subsides, when the wound has scabbed over.  

When the stitches are removed, and I am left with a scar symbolic of eternity.  

I sit in a pool of my own blood, with no one around to render my aid.  

Remember Me, Freshman

I chose to be the person I wanted to be.  

The one who sat upon this natural bench  

half hours before the wind blew the chimes.  

Once, twice, four times.  

Before the voices of quiet mornings 

bounced between the tree 

and the footsteps drug across the cobblestone 

in patterns undecided.  

The sun just waking up with me,  

touching my skin like the breath of 

a new cup of coffee.  

Bold, slightly bitter, but present in my blood.  

Huddled into myself, knees tightly casing the book 

and its words across my memory.  

I hold this memory close to me, too.  

I chose to be the person I wanted to be 

and I chose to be it here. 

Izabella author photo.jpg


Izabella Caruso will be graduating from Otterbein University with a major in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Creative Writing at the end of April. In her free time, you will likely find her caring for house plants, reading cheesy rom coms. or taking a yoga class. “The Gamophobia Games” is her first collection of written work.  

bottom of page