It is eerie
It is ominous
It is aesthetically in line
With the sunset
Flashes of orange
Frame the spraying of hoses
Like misty clouds on the horizon
It mixes in with the ash
As I drive past
It is the burning of the system
A cultural collapse
Destroying the
Brick and mortar
Of a life we once knew
The downtown is burning
The downtown is new
Only the local community
Will see the
Thick, black,
Curling smoke
And the flashes of fire
On the horizon
Few will actually see it
Up close
But those who dare to drive by
Take photos
And upload them–
It will be across the world
By tomorrow
A blazing torch
For the fight that rages on
You are paralyzed by the sight
Wanting to help,
But you can’t look away
Driving by
The city ablaze today
Burn it to the ground
Burn it to the ground
Someone has lit a fire
The building is unsound
And before my eyes
The building
Is burning down



I wish I could lay on the ground, next to you
The rectangle of dirt
Above where you lay in rest
I wish I could just lay there too
Hugging you
Watching the grass seed take root
And sprout up
To watch wildflowers grow,
Small buds at first
And then bigger, sprouting, leafing out
And finally, blooming
Reminiscent of a valley, of majestic meadows
And I would lay there next to you
And comb out the weeds
From your flower hair
And cut back the grasses one by one
To keep it wild but beautiful
I’d watch the sky turn to hues of blue
White puffy clouds
And the rosy overtones of sunset and sunrise
Watch as the sun climbs in the sky each day
And brightens the flowers and grasses
As the world
Hums and sighs
I’d hug you so tight
We’d smile and we’d laugh
We’d watch the sky turn down
And the world go to sleep again
We’d celebrate each birthday
And special occasion
And be together
Until my dying day
When I get to truly
Greet you again
I miss you beyond words
And oh, how I wish life were different
There’s nothing I can do now
But plant flowers where you lay
Happy birthday, Mom
Happy birthday


Artist Statement: The poem Ashes is a personal reflection on the current dismantling of oppressive systems, both physically and emotionally, in the United States and abroad. Communities in the U.S. are facing a multitude of issues these days, including the impacts of racism, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These are on a constant loop in the minds of millions, along with personal issues like grief and mental health that can add to the current weights of the world. As I watch this transition unfold, I try to shine light on voices that need to be heard and support communities that need this help now more than ever. It feels devastating to be a part of this moment in history, when despair and destruction are rampant, especially as I work through the grief associated with the passing of my Mom. Headstone highlights a culmination of these feelings and how, by remembering the females and other important leaders in our lives and by making peace with the past, we can build or grow a new future together from the ashes. This was the inspiration for Making Heaven Out of Broken Things – when left with the crumbles of a society and a world facing all of these struggles today, we have to mend the pieces back together to make a new “normal,” for ourselves and for each other. In a time that seems to be lacking any sense of guidance from above, we have to salvage the good that is left and stay hopeful and resilient as we work to create our own heavenly home.

Bio: Lauren Pawlowski is a current junior pursuing a dual degree in Environmental Studies and Economics at UConn. Her pronouns are she/her/hers. Her passions include pole vaulting, exploring the outdoors, and making art in various forms. She is a people person, a sunshine-seeker, and a houseplant propagation fanatic. Despite being bogged down by the troublesome times of this pandemic, she is still finding new ways to connect with those she loves and to be creative in her free time.

Cover Photo Original Art by Lauren Pawlowski