For lack of an open window high above the lane

She came home with a present of matching mopeds—

What an interesting way for me to commit suicide, he said,

And once when she posted their photograph on his page,

She tagged it: He’s creepy, but I’m the cutie.

She had this way of weaving stretch marks across his brow.

At night after the music is put away, after the dinner plates

Are piled into the sink, after the pots are left to soak,

They lay in bed together, she reading the full account

Of Mandelstrom throwing himself away because he had to.

She does not know he has already recorded it,

It and the words aura, animosity, abyss, anthrax.

When she curls away from him because she has to, he kisses

The back of her neck, pulls his hands to himself

And whispers, “Sweet dreams, my Nadezhda,”

Every activity, every encounter another attempt at suicide.




Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam(2011). Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators, designs websites and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.