“Bystander Effect” by Madeleine Gallo

I wanted someone to hit me the night my mother
vomited on the bedroom floor

I wanted someone to split my lip
like the diverging rivers of her stomach acid
bleeding in between floorboards

or punch my eye
to the same indigo hue of the bruise on her back

“You must not love her like I do,”
someone told me when I wouldn’t speak

She smothered sobs into her arm
while I followed the wallpaper with my eyes
and begged the patterns to poison
every pore of my body.



HeadshotMadeleine Gallo was born and raised in Radford, Virginia – the daughter of an English professor and a high school English teacher. From an early age, she learned the power of poetry and the significance of language. She earned her Bachelor degrees in both creative writing and literature at Virginia Tech in 2017. During her time at Tech, she had the opportunities to work with renowned poets Nikki Giovanni and Bob Hicok. She is currently a second year MA student at Wake Forest University. Her work has appeared in Susquehanna Review: Apprentice Writer, Fermata, Sun and Sandstone, Belle Reve Literary Journal, The Pylon, Sigma Tau Delta Review, Into the Void, Litro, Rattle, and others. After graduation, she plans to pursue either a PhD in Contemporary American Poetry or an MFA.