Stephanie Berger

Before the Cold Bite of a Rattler

Sometimes, like a spoiled child, she would rot
from the inside. The wind, offering nothing
but a silent treatment of the drapes, the sun
& copper earth. She walked across the lava
with a familiar rhythm, finally snapping, like
a discharged soldier walking with a cane when
he no longer needs one. More than a mystery,
she was a mood, a ring on her most important finger,
symbolizing nothing. They say a good symbol
is the greatest argument & yet the value
of a trope is indeterminate. The value of a lie
is that you are a lie. The glaciers & ice caps
you think you understand until they are melted
down to a woman. Melt a women & you lose
the laurels which disguise your baldness. Using
his mouth as your own is the most difficult. The
ethereal chasing the unspeakable. Prairie dogs
hiding in foxholes. Pressing charges like linens.
The end isn’t the point & yet it is indispensable.  

My That Was Fine & Then She Died

The pain I feel now is more sophisticated
than that old pain. If it burns, it burns up.
It is paper. The little girl in my dream & her skirt
is a lark. It can’t even cover the check!
In default of wealth, one must have a raison d’être.
Is it too soon to say that I love you? Too soon
to know much. How do I find out?
Many years together in a bed
growing further. I need a lark
upon which I may focus my obsession.
Wind chimes alight on the shoulders of sirens
Calling from the beach of my soul
Did you fuck me in the ass last night?
My memories are so foggy. I have no one to tell
of my drunkenness, despair & the joy
pressed out of me, cold as an olive.
I don’t care to watch you perform
some enthusiasm. My performance is
a habit. I just miss you like a needle
misses the thread, the vein, I missed
the vein and died. I miss you like death
misses the unknown. Remember the
possibilities? Plagiarism is a collaboration,
the pictures in the frames fakes.
You can picture the frame, but what
does it contain? I don’t think we ever
know the person we live with.
I have loved the person I love
so much every single time but I can
tell you what I loved most about
Nathan was that he forgave me.
How do I create a form so wonderful
it need not contain a thing
& you will forgive me? I miss you father, I
miss my friends. I close half my eyes,
so you don’t fall in. Like gravity,
there is nothing I can do about it.
I can’t deny my girlhood because
a hood is good a way to cover
one’s shame, oneself from the rain.
I want to look upon thee with the honesty
of an eye & never the hood around it.
The darkness creeps in along the edge
of my dream, allowing the stars to
shine. I want to take a picture of the sky,
but it is night. I like it when your
imagination comes out to play, babe, my
peppermint angel, when you asked me what
my Rome was like, that sleepy little hamlet.
I am no clown, I am perfection. Say it. My body
is American, strong, violent & full
of limitless potential & Poetry
can be anything, the pages of my
girlhood left blank, it can be so beautiful
if you’re not careful.

Stephanie Berger is a poet, performance artist, event producer, and entrepreneur. She is the President & CEO of The Poetry Society of New York and is the co-creator of The Poetry Brothel, The New York City Poetry Festival, and The Typewriter Project. She has published two chapbooks, In The Madame’s Hat Box (Dancing Girl Press, 2011) and The Grey Bird (Coconut Books, 2014). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fence, Hyperallergic, Sixth Finch, Prelude, The Volta, H_NGM_N, and other journals. Other honors include a 2015 &NOW Writing Award and an artist grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Stephanie earned a B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in Film at the University of Southern California, received an M.F.A. in Poetry from the New School, and has taught in the English Departments at Pace University and Berkeley College.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.

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