At Midlife Trying to Recall My Twenties

You ever feel like your soul is twisted 

up in a funny knot you don’t remember 

tying? Some shit must have gone down 

while you were blacked out & moving 

about the world, some lowly worming, 

likely: i.e. inching closer to any 

interesting woman just to see if you might 

be lure enough to light the want in her eyes, 

i.e. practicing your subtle magic & then 

going about another day as if nothing 

happened. Uncork some spirits & 

collaborate. Smooth out some of the kinks 

in your heartsleeve. Unravel if you must. 

Daylight is another world & for now 

the night is doing you all kinds of favors. 

Lick a cheek & go wild, you godless scrap. 

Mount the escarpment for a better view. 

Forget the why of the ascent & cling 

with your life to the smallest holds. Don’t 

ever downclimb. Don’t you dare

give regret an inch, even if that 

scramble to the edge almost kills you.


Headshot| Matthew Nienow


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 has also 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 is completing his training as a Mental Health Counselor.