Sam Herschel Wein

Chewing a Cabbage Leaf Stir-Fried with Brussels Sprouts

The doctor at my lunch table is stressed,
single parent five kids & I’m talking about
how I was raised to be a good liar,

parents’ fingers weeklong in my scalp,
thinking they have a hold of everything,
and me, since those baby years, knowing

how to talk my way under the water slide,
over the sledding hill, up the chimney
where I grow glittery wings. Wings made

of lies. The doctor doesn’t want to believe
her kids will lie, so now I’m three-eyed,
an extra chin growing from my ankle,

my spine. It’s easy to become a good liar,
I try to reason with her, my sanity
on the line here, well also you know I grew up

gay, like really gay, I’m red and speaking
faster as the other lunch table rears
so many heads full of eye contact

see I was kissing so many boys at sleepovers
in basements and I had to learn so young
to lie about it!
and it just kept going

from there and the doctor chewing
a cabbage leaf stir-fried with brussel sprouts
says with the food still in her mouth

“children who feel they are unwanted
do everything to try and hide themselves”
and the lunchroom ears stay above

their food, I’m stuck with my chicken sandwich
stuck with juice in my beard saying
yes, yes, exactly as everyone watches

I say thank you for saying that because nobody
has ever said that, to me, or my parents,
or my face, I pause from chewing,

see everyone’s eyes on me, awaiting
a response, I smile, I open my face
wide and swallow the room

I Think My Grandmother Knew I Was Gay

At a hometown LGBT event, after I’d just given a speech, my grade school art teacher corners me to say, I’m never sure what we’re supposed to do when we can tell so early! At seven, nine, the little ones trying to hide themselves, just like with you and I think about this, my grandmother dead a few months, how as a child I would dance through the front hallway to the room we weren’t allowed in, with its china, with its fancy wooden dining table, with its piano I’d crawl on the seat of, play a few notes before she’d come yelling, waving a wooden spoon, saying again that this room was only for adults how she bought me beanie babies, nintendo games, how she kept me in the basement as long as she could, made the food I wanted so I would be over more, and I think, of course, about illness, her Alzheimer’s, it began when I was only eleven, it crawled like a stuck beetle across her knuckles for years, forgetting where the parked car, paying the painter three times out of confusion, telling the therapist he’s a fucking loonytoon that anything would be wrong with her, my grandmother, who started calling me Rick, my Uncle’s name, bought her eighth blender because she wasn’t sure she had one, this woman, this chair in recline, this motor skills decline, how

when I was fourteen, my sister, much older, had a boyfriend come stay at our house, just for a bit, how he was dancing with me in our hallways, how he jumped at the sight of a good meal, like me, I felt connected with him, like we had shared a past I didn’t know how to speak, how he and my sister and I, we walked, with our dog, down to grandma’s, to introduce him, and grandma didn’t say much, didn’t recognize much, didn’t open her eyes much. But she still knew us, our names, at least then. And she met the boyfriend, with his booming loud voice, and turned to me, her eyebrow raised, and said, is this one yours? And my sister laughed a deep belly laugh and the boyfriend didn’t catch the joke and kept asking what? what was that? what did she say? and I don’t think I’d ever considered that a boy could be mine, something I possess, or take with me to the soccer field, or walk to the park with, swing on the swings, and I didn’t visit my grandmother for the last three years of her life because she stopped speaking, stopped looking around at the world like it wasn’t curious to her, like she’d learned all she needed and decided the rest was a waste, and I want to think she knew about all my boyfriends like I knew a handful of treats would be waiting, every time, on the kitchen table, at home, when we returned from out of town as kids, she sneaking in just before, it was like they had just been left, just dropped, seconds ago

Season of Fanny Packs

Unfurling, the hairy legs of Chicago’s hottest nightclubs
open wide for it—the refilled trees of late spring,

the early short shorts that start summer, the lake still frozen
but in we run, shrieking. We zip and unzip and voila:

chapstick, poppers, housekeys, loose change, Lactaid
pills, MDMA, little stones we pass around, put on

our altars. Van Gogh himself couldn’t paint the pure
fashion of preparedness, the insatiable delight

of hot pink at the waist, lime green over the shoulder,
black with red stripes, looped around the arm

swinging ourselves to wonderment. The first time I saw
my future, it was from a dance television show on MTV,

I watched until I learned so many dance moves, practicing
in mirrors with no one home. In the second season,

Fanny Pak: a queer, 70s themed dance troop from
the Valley with packs at their waists, and I thought, I need

to be that. I need to be them. The judges told them I want
to see the fellas dance like fellas
and they didn’t—they didn’t listen.

How they went home before the end, without winning.
For months, I dreamt of meeting them, telling them, one day,

I’ll have style at my waist, like you. I won’t listen to anybody.
Look, under the nail of your thumb on this sunny day.

It’s late April. And you are.

Sam Herschel Wein (he/they) is a lollygagging plum of a poet who specializes in perpetual frolicking. They are an MFA student in poetry at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Their third chapbook, Butt Stuff Flower Bush, is faggotly forthcoming from Porkbelly Press. He co-founded and edits Underblong and is the poetry editor for Grist. Recent work can be found in Split Lip Magazine, Waxwing Mag, and Shenandoah, among others.
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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.