Matthew Nienow

Seams of Starlight & Flecks of Gold

There is a realm
within the body
where the soul resides,
a speck of starlight.
The soul is borrowed
& does not thrive
without a bit of pain
to work against.
But only a fool
seeks out suffering.
It will find you,
cracking the glass,
sowing doubt
in every field.
It will find you,
and you may choose
to let it in. If you can
live with loss, the soul
grows bright.
Like the sun,
it touches everything.



An Echo for the Archives

If nothing more
ever comes between us
I’ve chosen to remember
the white dress in June,
the long wait for a good meal
measured in the time it took
to sip two Moscow Mules
in dimpled copper cups.
The server called us beautiful,
said we looked so very happy,
and we were, I believe. Truly so.
For the longer I dig in the dusky
tidelands of this human life,
I have found happiness to be
the most elusive of all states.
Yet, I can abide the right
to pursue a life more soulful
than industrious. It seems
the most human decree, in fact,
to champion the chase of such
momentary pleasure as
dining with a lover who
looks you in the eye with pure
acceptance of your flaws,
who seems to see them
and not care that they are large,
who wants you anyway for all
the good that glows beyond
your sin—who knows, even
then, before your order is taken
down, (as a dumb hope dulls
the mind) that it cannot
last, this youthful errand,
however canny in its aim.
How brief such a moment
may be before it rattles out,
echoing madly in mis-
remembered eternity.



Matthew Nienow is the author of two collections published by Alice James Books: House of Water (2016) and If Nothing (forthcoming in 2025). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, New England Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and many other magazines and anthologies. A former Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellow, he received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Artist Trust. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington, with his wife and two sons, where he works as a mental health counselor.