Two Poems by Natasha Dennerstein


down on the street i step in dog shit, human shit, unknown shit,
broken needles, the broken hearted and get yelled at by broken
faces saying what are you? or girl, are you a boy or a girl? or better still

nice ass, can I tap it? grabbed at with words and eyes and sometimes
with hands, clutching at my thrift store garments so i ride the elevator
up to my single room occupancy building and walk the bleached corridor

past the communal bathroom, past the communal toilet to my 
ten foot by twelve foot haven and slam the door and it’s
just like a prison cell except i can smoke and pace and turn

the light on and turn the light off when and if i want 
and can eat canned beans and toast and drink instant coffee
with hella sugar and no motherfucker talks to me unless i call them

on my cellphone or chat them on my internet thingy 
and let them come over if they got fifty bucks. 
it ain’t much but it’s a life.

Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

It is snowing fine particles in a bitter breeze like mist and I follow you
in the F street entrance and tail you from a distance, watch your
ass in your tight, olive leather jeans—it’s quite an ass you got on you, 

it must be said—and you shed your magenta puffer jacket, leave it in the cloak 
room, clip-clop your boots across marble expanse to the door of the Kogod
courtyard where a New Orleans brass band is playing ragtime jazz. There’s a

table laid out with finger food—shrimp sushi, bacon-wrapped-prunes 
skewered with a toothpick, asparagus rolls in white bread. You make yourself
a paper plate and carry it out to the tune of Alexander’s Ragtime Band, take

the grand circular staircase—wooden banister like a ship’s, weathered, sweat-
worn; floor of tesselated Florentine tiles—walk a corridor of portraits in ornate
gilded frames—me following closely behind—stop abruptly in front of an oil of 

Elvis Presley. You blur, dematerialize as I approach. I stand behind you, 
close enough to sniff your perfume—Eau d’Iris by Prada—and I take one step
closer into you. There is a pneumatic sucking sound, like a heavy door being 

closed shut, and I inhabit you. I contemplate the red cowboy shirt of Elvis and pop a bacon-wrapped-prune into my mouth. It is delicious. Elvis smiles at me
and twinkles his eyes ever so slightly and says howdy, Ma’am

Natasha Dennerstein was born in Melbourne, Australia. She has an MFA from San Francisco State University. Natasha has had poetry published in many journals internationally. Her collections Anatomize (2015), Triptych Caliform (2016) and her novella-in-verse About a Girl (2017) were published by Norfolk Press in San Francisco. Her trans chapbook Seahorse (2017) was published by Nomadic Press in Oakland. She lives in Oakland, California, where she is an editor at Nomadic Press and works at St James Infirmary, a clinic for sex-workers in San Francisco. She was a 2018 Fellow of the Lambda Literary Writer’s Retreat.

Author Photo by José Alberto Guzmán Colón.