The First National Edition of The Tributary

We welcome you to the first ever national edition of The Tributary. Authors and poets from all over the country allowed us to weave together their works into an iridescent tapestry. It is one that we here at The Tributary are proud to present to you. From the forests of Vermont to the Valleys of California, we are proud to present to you our first group of works from the 2023 national edition. We thank our writers for their inquisitive, vulnerable, breathtaking work, and we thank you, for reading with us.

Tributary 2022

It is finally here! Submissions like rain mixed into a puddle, dripped into a stream, formed this year’s issue of Lycoming College’s Tributary. Rather than parse that expansive literary-sky, find your favorite (or soon-to-be-favorites) here in our collection of works. We thank you for your patronage and urge you to support our journal and future suppliers of fresh art.

2022 creative nonfiction fiction literary journal poetry TheTributary

Red Summer 

Sarah Lanphear 

There’s an etching in the southern magnolia 

on the corner of Fourth and Mae, a scar  

hidden by flowers, sticks, and leaves 

on a branch just low enough, 

just within reach. 

The cut buried 

by men who know how to hide 

when they need to, who know  

to work by night. White 

hoods masked 

by the dark. 


The wound deepens  

with each sunset, suffocating  

a branch not made to bear the weight  

of a man or the tension  

of a rope. 


But the hoods are too tied up to see  

the carving, cutting too deep,  

the branch, wearing away  

until the day it finally 


I am 

Rylee Delaney 

They, myself 

not excluded, thought: 

but surely I am 



not one 

are the “other” 


The hurricanes, the 

earthquakes, several feet 

from the other 


All lusting, 

a storming desire to 

be the “other” 


Together, a collective 

petrified, shy, shying 

from the other 


Knowing, it’s possible, 

impossible, to 

be the “other” 


They, myself 

not excluded, thought: 

but surely I am 

The Riverwalk 

Sohini Mukherjee 

As the sun set by the Susquehanna riverwalk,  

the sky took a shade of orange, lively  

yet soul-soothing. The hills, newly clad  

in emerald, ripple like the sun rays  

on my caramel skin, whistling as I walk.  

The river’s wind pushes into my brown hair, sends me 

into a labyrinth of my fondest memories. One night,  

a sweet friend took me to the riverwalk.  

I heard the flowing water, saw the stars  

illuminate the night. I spent those summer days 

laughing with my friends and cracking the jokes. 

We watched ducks cross the river, fish swim next to us,  

and birds flying past. Paper airplanes fly above us,  

our hearts would long to board one, to go home. 

In the darkness, I swore the riverwalk  

was a confluence of the Indian rivers  

Alakananda and Mandakini. 

In a moment, my childhood days; 

I longed to hold my maa and baba’s hand again. 

The little neighborhood lights from the hills reminded 

me of home where the village women, up in the hills, 

would light oil lamps in the evening to perform their  

evening prayers and illuminate their little shanties. 

Intimidated to go on a walk by myself, once I  

learned that I am enough, how beautiful  

of a mind I have, my riverwalk strolls became  

the happiest instances of self-care. There is no fear 

of being judged or labeled at the riverwalk.  

The river accepts me for who I am and here I go, 

whistling my tune, being my authentic self.  

Who’s The Bastard Now?  

Caleb Hipple 

1. A Hippie Fucks My Mom, 2000 

Tune in, Turn on and Drop out” (his favorite quote on Facebook) 

Robbie, my absent creator, holds a breath—  

he imagines instead her lover’s puffed chest, quakes  

knowingly, blows on plump dandelions, unsheathes  

in her stretching garden. Hidden, a snake  

slides from basement cinder blocks, two states away.  

Terry pins, presses, severs its squirming neck. 

He doesn’t fear its bite, tongue, or patternless sway, 

as four kids upstairs ask what’s nextnextnex—  

thinks I’m child number five, made weeks prior. 

Back in Ayden, NC, a spill of cum won’t unslick 

the floor. Beneath tiles and grout, there’s fire 

ivying towards Pennsylvania. Sweat drips 

down truth; I can’t (but could?) be of the love she spurned, 

yet my flowering roots ask when we’ll return.


2. I Imagine Robbie and His Dad


You didn’t just win; you championed two states! 

Robert Sr. smells pine-tar under a hellish 

sun, on his brow and shaking hands. Relish 

soaks through a bun, beneath my nails. (I am late 

by twenty-one years… or early. No, I arrive 

at the last inning.) I can’t find your head 

amidst the jerseys, flying spit; the sky is red 

as thread from a ball. It wraps your career in five 

years of coaching, guiding our Robbie to bat  

at unseen meteors. He trips. And he hurts. 

In a Friday’s dusk, his pants rip; the tears bleed 

into a rusty slick. His dad hides in his hat, 

holds back tears; it is quiet. He doesn’t know why 

fatherless sons scream play ball, hoping the kid cries.


3. After Robbie Posts About Me Without Permission 

I scan my face like it’s your message, 

marked by hands I’ve never felt. So unfamiliar 

in a mirror, those pearlescent vestiges 

wait for me like a father: brow greased in anger, 

the nose, beard hiding moles. Punnet squares 

surround my patchworked childhood, cover questions 

and cover-up answers. I can’t even heave in air—  

or undig—I am the hole, the dirt, lessened 

but greater with each clenched scoop. Now nothing’s left 

for me to squeeze; this mud was bound to dry. 

We talked only once. This paydirt lead to your theft, 

your public claim, of my impossibly blue eyes… 

I too can’t keep secrets, so should’ve known sooner 

to give you my nickname for you are now “The Ruiner.”