Nicole Steinberg


Nice butt, the charming sir
on the rickety bicycle says
so I curse a lot aloud & then
Alex is afraid he’ll circle back
to kill us. There’s nothing
to be afraid of, I say, though
of course I’m wrong. I could
get killed at any moment
for the things I want, like
a five-piece chicken nugget
combo deal or the reproductive
rights I thought I had or to be left
the fuck alone on the street
when I am walking & talking
with my lovely lady friend
who’s new to Philadelphia
& marveling at all the trash
on the street, something I barely
notice after all these years.
We keep on walking—an act
of dumbfounding defiance, pupils
darting every which way, the way
women train their tired eyeballs
to do—witnesses to the sudden death
of each other’s pleasant days.
It’s a windy Easter & it feels fake
aside from little girls who float by
in pink dresses, riding the same air
that ruins our hair, whips our nice
butts & urges us not to look down,
to walk around the trash.


My fears are local
—Anselm Berrigan

What do you mean
when you leave?

My grief is air — nostalgia
aphasia — a caustic party

How to retool this blunt day — edit it
to the room where you let me squeeze
your knuckles as the needle entered
my big toe

I do intimate shit next to ambivalent
vending machines — I’m a person
dotted with pushpins — a stain
that forms a path from bungalow
to hospital — veins cornflower
as the inner lives of squid

In the world of no you
I learn to drink coffee
I forget why I ever liked the subway
I don’t say goodnight — I’m scared
of night — but I have a TV

I live in a city of doctors and rats
until I leave


No one will mourn for my weekend,
which had the utter shit kicked out of it
& died at a pizzeria in South Philly.

The older I get the more people demand
my thoughts. At Weight Watchers &
on Facebook I’m required to weigh in.

My body responds to a fist with a pop
& a hiss. My therapist talks of self-care
as if I’ve never bought two jumbo slices

at ten o’clock at night or reblogged
pornographic GIFs of gooey, stringy
cheese—adorable & public love

notes to a lifelong hiding place. As if
at fifteen, I wasn’t already the queen
of the secret second dinner. As if

I’m not the starving marauder in
the background of my life, licking
greasy fingers as I eat myself alive.


Nicole Steinberg’s poems have appeared in a number of journals, including H_NGM_N, BOMB, glitterMOB, Dusie, and Powder Keg, and her first full-length collection, Getting Lucky, was released in 2013 from Spooky Girlfriend Press. She is also the author of three chapbooks, most recently Undressing (dancing girl press, 2014) and Clever Little Gang, winner of the 4X4 Furniture Press Chapbook Award. In addition, she’s the editor of an anthology, Forgotten Borough: Writers Come to Terms with Queens (SUNY Press, 2011), and the founder of Earshot, a New York reading series for emerging writers.