Two Poems by Hugh Behm-Steinberg

Poetry: Hugh Behm-Steinberg

Monster Dolls

Baby monsters with their stuffed teddy bear monster dolls, like regular dolls, only horrific, wounded, dangerous; which baby monsters see as something to teethe and love, to protect and be protected by. Dozens of them, in the secret nursery hidden out back of the house. Lining the bottom of the bed to keep the people out. Factories, in secret, produce these dolls, and no one asks questions. Not because it’s such lucrative work but because it’s work and who questions what comes out of doll factories anymore? When the end of the world approaches, we’ll know it’s coming because that’s all we’ll be making, toys for monsters/masters.

The Zombie Cure

If you take the zombie cure, and you’re not a zombie, then you’ll turn into a zombie, but the other zombies will shun you. If you are a zombie and you take the zombie cure, then you’ll be cured, but you’ll suffer side effects. You will become part of the insect kingdom. A leafcutter will land on your ear, she’ll talk and you’ll understand her. You’ll go on with your life, but you’ll have to take breaks to chew leaves, it’ll be like a second job but you won’t mind. The other zombies will go on without you, forming their own zombie families; you’ll see the pictures of their zombie children in your newsfeed while you chew and chew and chew. Every day you place a small green brick outside your house; the insect world flourishes around you once more. You’re learning how to hear music again, the insects teach you. Slowly you’ll heal, you’ll wander with purpose again.

Hugh Behm-Steinberg is the author of Shy Green Fields (No Tell Books, 2007) and The Opposite of Work (JackLeg Press, 2013). His prose can be found in The Fabulist, *82 Review, Gone LawnGigantic, and his short story “Taylor Swift” won the 2015 Barthelme Prize from Gulf Coast. He is a member of the non-ranked faculty collective bargaining team at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where he edits the journal Eleven Eleven.


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