2 Poems by Nicole Steinberg

Red and pink abstract painting by Kjell Hansen

Insane Clown Posse is Modeling Ideal Pandemic Leadership

the juggalos will not gather this year / color me crushed
and I mean it / even rowdy clowns deserve the circular 

pleasures of tradition / O to return to a time when the president
wasn't painfully obvious about how much he wants us to die

an era of naiveté / it is wonderful to discover new sides of yourself
my therapist says when I tell her I bought coral begonias

to bring some sunshine to my south philly stoop / that I'm learning 
how to cope with the outdoors again / you tend to shy away

from discomfort L says / no wonder the news is killing me
a month into the pandemic a wrong turn on a trail led us to
muddy backwoods / the remnants glued to my designer sneakers 
I hoisted my unkempt body over a fallen tree trunk my palm 

rubbed pink from its archaic elven texture oh no I touched nature!
I whined and L laughed / ever the fool I am / finding my way

How Can You Think About Passover at a Time Like This?

but how can I not / the comforting brownness of it all
mountains: why leap like rams? you hills: like lambs?

I think of my mother reaching for her own mother
under the seder table / their favorite passage of an annual

script / a table read we knew by heart / and this year 
what will we make? just for two of us? beef potatoes 

charoset maybe a kugel / I watch L pace / wish I could 
smear my own blood over our threshold to keep her 

safe / I don't have a firstborn but I do have a first love
trimming back dahlias around the wrens' spring nest

silly millennials wary of the mysterious side B of our lives 
L says she's scared / me too I reply / especially when

I think of how often I will open a door this year 
to welcome no one into the house but the air

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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. Follow her at @nicolebrett or nicolesteinberg.net.

Kjell K Nkanza Hansen is a musician and visual artist from Maryland. They’re the producer and multi-instrumentalist behind queer metal project Spring Silver. They have a BFA in Visual Arts from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Follow them on Twitter @KjellKHansen1.