Nicole Steinberg





You've been sick
for months. Were it me,
I'd have something
to write about forever.
I'd be happy. Everyone
breathes in a city
wide as wingspan,
air rank with the humid
stench of meat. Glowing bulbs
replace children in winter,
so bright I can't sleep.
The moon oppressed
against my window,
blinding like your face
that one time we meet.
I can't sleep. Everyone
breathes in the humid city,
aglow with its children,
winged bulbs of air.
New York makes its own
light but here, I press
my hand to the window and
the moon gapes back.
There is you and you
have been sick for months.
Me, I have something to write
about forever. Like this,
I tell the moon,
everyone breathes.
I could be happy.



I Was a Twenty-Something Savage


He didn't seem to mind the blood.
Cancer and a nervous stutter.
I missed all the must-see TV.
One huge ripoff after another.
The restaurants start from scratch.
Sweetly cannibalizing each other.
A four-year degree in desperation.
Us hip chicks sing into water.
The quiet click of a lock.
We're either safe or we're not.





It's Dana's 30th birthday
and she has a daughter now,
a maiden name. All the women
I've ever wanted to be are brittle
shells, aboveground or below.
My mother, who died as I slowly
dressed—she wouldn't wait.
Without her, I'm doomed.
Why not snow, enough to fill
all the earth's yawning wounds?
Other women smell sadness
coming, its jagged weed deep
and rooted, wherever you stand.