nicole v basta

where to begin or what are you bringing

three blocks from here / steps on a house lead only to a window
a suggestion of what is now gone / or simply some stupid hope
is there a sky if you have no one to point at it with / of course

is it my blood or the story of it / found a dull knife left at the park
a paper bag drifted past a duck / and my hands now grow blue
rivers / old enough to pocket the sugar packets / the coffee is still

fifty cents here / and the color of moth wings / because more milk
keeps us full longer / on the donut shop television / the weatherman
says there is still a chance of a soldier / the newsman says it is possible

to remain tethered to only what is alive / but all that widens in me
is the curtain of hands bruising our hips / my thighs cling to this
vinyl booth / almost like how the only way i’ve ever made meaning

is to pile it all together / like how the shoulder of the culm bank
hillside still blocks the morning sun / how when they tried to bring in
those plants that can grow anywhere / the people here refused them

and i’d like to think it was to keep the memory of coal alive / but really
we are what we’re used to/ and maybe our memorials are a little curious
but i still climb on through that window / and so what are you bringing

who’s with you at the end of the world                and are they alive

dear eva,

on the mantle of the television: saint anthony, ashtray, talking christmas tree.

in america, instead of tenderness, we use plastic as the counterweight to all the violence. leaning on a cart at the dollar store as a child, i slip and cut open my toe. consolation prizes are all around me.

back on joseph lane, when lollipop joe wouldn’t answer the door, little me would bite her cheeks as she descended the stairs to the cellar. alfreda was most likely in the garden or on the back porch with a kool on her lips. this close to the earth, i am tucked inside the cold hands of our longest shadows. but i don’t know it, really.

it is just a feeling until the truth is told— a ceiling so low and a tool box tipped. don’t you worry, i am mostly insulated, the proper blindfolds have been rested over my eyes. i am picking up wrenches now and making a lovely clanking sound.

later, in the bathtub, i may slip into darkwater, my lungs might shrink into a straw. the sound i make may frighten my mother. she might wonder what is wrong with me. she may have hope while she prays the rosary.

or she may feel no hope knowing, deep down, we are all the product of the same familiar thieves.

what is it they say about forgetting?
it is on the top of my throat, it is standing on a chair, this forgiveness.


nicole v basta’s recent poems have found homes in Ploughshares, Waxwing, Willow Springs, RHINO, Plume, The Cortland Review, etc. She is the author of the chapbook V, the winner of The New School’s Annual Contest and the chapbook the next field over, out now from Tolsun Books. Find more here:
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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.