A Brief History of My Life Part VII

By Leigh Stein b. 1984 Leigh Stein
I can’t go to the east village anymore
because it is like going on a tour

of my worst dates. I get older, my heart
leaps at the sight of children

who don’t belong to me, I pronounce
everything like an Italian opera title.

I used to listen to songs and have someone
in mind for the you parts, now I just want

to be where the light is intense, I want
the kind of heat that kills you

if you drive into it unprepared. This
isn’t a metaphor for anything else.

When I speak of the light, I mean the light.
I go to church and sing along and feel

just as moved as if my faith were blind.
When I speak of the blind, I mean

the light. Truly the only things Lindsay Lohan and I
have in common are our preoccupations

with fame and weight loss, and yet I recognize
a kinship there, as if those two things mattered

more than anything. When I speak of
the darkness, I mean this living.

In a restaurant called Caracas,
I once spent fifteen minutes arguing

about an Ayn Rand book because
every time he said Anthem I thought

he meant We the Living and I said
what dystopia, what about the woman,

and he said what about the Home
of the Infants and I said what

Home of the Infants? What about
loving a man so much you’ll sleep

with another man in order to finance
the first man’s tuberculosis treatment?

Welcome to Russia, I said, and we
were looking at each other and then

not. I tried to picture Caracas, tried
to leave him for elsewhere, a fever.

Leigh Stein, “A Brief History of My Life Part VII” from Dispatch from the Future. Copyright © 2012 by Leigh Stein. Reprinted by permission of Melville House.

Source: Dispatch from the Future (Melville House, 2012)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Leigh Stein b. 1984

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Life Choices, Love, Realistic & Complicated, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

 Leigh  Stein


Originally from Chicago, poet Leigh Stein dropped out of high school before taking courses at a community college. She also studied at Brooklyn College and in the acting program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She is the author of the novel The Fallback Plan (2012) and the poetry collection Dispatch from the Future (2012).
Stein’s poems submerge stark emotional reflection within landscapes . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Leigh Stein

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Love, Realistic & Complicated, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.