Nicole Steinberg

Seasonal Affective Disorder

every summer brings
a geyser of nicotine
the wood
laughing spider 
it’s here 
menacing fist of 
a saucer-faced boy 
I could never stop
a dark brown mood 
when she lit a match
a hair dryer in the forest 

fresh welts
girls with romantic thoughts about
the miniscule
attempting to convince you
to do you favors
the torpid moon
spraying paralyzing pollen
thinking about my mother
& how the air split
unrushed & damned as
a sinking clot of sun



survived by pleather, the beach, the goth
aesthetic, anecdotes about marmalade cats

when I gaze into a grave, I expect to fall in
my coat too colorful for this mourning

a far cry from Holly, dressed in black
in the bungalow, to the bare soles of her feet

with the Cure and Def Leppard on repeat
she talks good sex atop pinball machines

in this life what has saved me
if not the distance I keep

I used to think it was lucky to be born
in spring: April's heavy pity, pure and pollenesque

a single pair of high heels now perpetually
embellished with cemetery and so often

it’s such a beautiful day when we gather
to bury someone new


Unicorns Are Closer to Us Than We Thought

I cross my legs to keep a truth from spilling out, exhausted and red.
They want to yank the art from me, exsanguinate me with cold hands,
extract a bequeathed blueprint for disdain and disaster. My bones elope
with the rain, bemoan this life-slog mostly spent killing off the megafauna
or eavesdropping on the reveries of enemies. No one will ever inspire me
to scream the way my mother did and I would sever the unicorn's horn
if I could use it as a conch to hear her again: dawn’s boiling ocean making landfall.


Nicole Steinberg is the author of Glass Actress (Furniture Press Books, 2017), Getting Lucky (Spooky Girlfriend Press, 2013), and several chapbooks, including Fat Dreams (Barrelhouse, 2018). Her work has been featured or reviewed in the New York Times, Newsweek, Flavorwire, Bitch, and Hyperallergic, and her poetry was selected by Penn State's Pennsylvania Center for the Book for the 2016 Public Poetry Project poster series. She's the founder of New York's EARSHOT reading series and she lives in Philadelphia. Learn more at