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Karen Schnurstein


after Beckian Fritz Goldberg

She herself is ready/ at a moment's notice to/ swallow the capsule/ she holds beneath her tongue/ like a secret. Men/ call her dangerous.

                                    – Maureen Seaton, in “The Runner”

I have a mother telling me

not to be afraid and

a mother telling me not to write

at night. I have a best friend


wanting to come home safely tonight

and a best friend wanting

to be a man tonight.

Nights here aren't any woman's thing.

Nights here have a moon white as danger and

white eyes shining in a bush

collecting light. I have this bush

and some more, right across my street,

skulking low like they're bending down to eat.

I have men hiding all down

my street. Nights like these

I want a frying pan and something to beat.


I want something to kick or set loose

on the street. Nights like these

I don't like anybody

looking at me and I walk anywhere

I like. I don't even like you tonight.

Don't like your pill. Don't like

your tongue. Hate your giving in,

how you sense this danger like

some weathervane, watch from

a bridge, as it rises, then the flood.

Don't swallow. I need you.

This poem will be a funeral

if you're raped Don't swallow,

come over some time, and

step in, for this is your lover.

Strap yourself on, this is your


perfect season. Uncross your legs,

this is me you're talking to.

This poem wants you to know how it's captured,

how it wants its thigh free, how


it wants those men, every one, strung out

of their hideouts, their shrubs, and their tree,

wants to keep you alive, and wants you to run

at night. This poem wants to make

no sense, wanting not to cry,

to never end, wanting still to be a man

tonight. This poem wants a mask and

a shovel tonight, wants to come


full circle and

win tonight. This poem needs you.

Come, there's no foyer,

just creases here where I've stood up,


where the morning's come unstuck,

and the bushes, for the meantime, are cleaned up.

Karen Schnurstein is a budding poet whose recent work has appeared in print and online publications including Bi Women Quarterly. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and resides in Indiana. You can find her on Instagram @karenschnurstein or on her website at

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