Atlas Poetry – Can’t Buy Me Love

Photos by Katherine Foultz

Written by Darius Atefat-Peckham

Colton Underwood On Reality

I’ve heard some of you have been
talking. Like I’m some 

giant golden retriever, but let’s hope there’s more to it
than just 

the virginity thing. I’ve seen more than you
could imagine: 

seen the Portuguese country-side on a miles long run
seen two boys wrestle 

one another to the depths of a lake in
passion, the aggression 

of a full-grown man and my mask in the turf,
felt afraid. Seen you. 

Yeah, you: feeling up your girl on the dormitory
floor making 

fun. I can’t do this anymore, it all feels too
real, man. I mean, 

I guess I’ve known nothing else these past
nine years, ’cept the 

convergence of camera-men and the cool breeze
of the bachelor mansion. 

The cold. The chill. The empty sheets. The
way a boy jumps over and into 

a boundary he’s set himself, like it’s the last
day of summer- 

camp and he feels free and I’m pushing a
camera guy (Earl, maybe?) 

in the eyes (the lens?) and it makes a deep bruise
in his depth 

perception, and I feel the fence beneath my
feet but don’t we all 

crave exactly this? Reborn Portuguese! A part
of the country, I mean— 

or an animal, I guess, sure-footedly
making my way in the darkness. 

I’m running from you, from them, for her. And
Oh! God! The music… 

It follows. And you are calling my name. Talk more,
please: my dialogue 

is tacky, repetitive, simple. I’m muscly, I’m stupid,
I shake when I’m emotional 

and I cry almost every episode—my tail, by god,
is between my legs. 

But aren’t you just like me? Terrified? In love? Wanting
with all your heart 

to just call it off? To rip off the mic, jump the fence,
and run? 


Darius Atefat-Peckham is an Iranian-American poet and essayist. His work has appeared in Texas Review, Zone 3, Nimrod, Brevity, Crab Orchard Review, Cimarron Review and elsewhere. In 2018, Atefat-Peckham was selected by the Library of Congress as a National Student Poet, the nation’s highest honor presented to youth poets writing original work. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including My Shadow is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora (University of Texas Press). Atefat-Peckham currently studies Creative Writing at Harvard College. 

Written by: Yanna Cassel


Yanna Cassell is a student at Mount Holyoke college. She’s currently studying English. She’s very interested in mysticism and asking people about their birth charts at inappropriate times.

Written by: Zoe Leonard

Summer Record

In the summer,
I will make you cold lunches.
You can lounge by the pool
And I’ll bring you something.
French baguettes, sliced and toasted, fanned out like playing cards,
Fat red grapes and strawberry hearts,
Summer sausage and thin cut beef,
Smoked Gouda and Brie cheese,
Softened by the sunlight so it spreads like butter.

I’ll put on our summer record.

In the heat, we won’t be hungry,
But we’ll eat all day,
And sip lemonade
Until our shadows stretch to touch the water.

We’ll be the lounging statues of ancient Greece.
We’ll be senators in Rome at its peak.
We’ll be rich white folks in the twenties while it’s
Eighty-five degrees,
And you can be Jay Gatsby,
Helplessly in love with me.

At night,
We’ll go swimming.
Dip our bodies
Into the cool night sky.
We’ll turn out all the lights,
Press our lips together and
Try our hands at breathing underwater.


Zoe Leonard is currently a class of 2023 Creative Writing major. She is originally from Baltimore, Maryland.

Photography curated by Joe Cuccio, Poetry by Athena Nassar

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