Chasing Nicotine

The number of times I have tasted disappointment on
my lips has me running to cigarettes, looking
for a different kind of certainty
between my teeth, the kind
of certainty I could trade my life for and
the kind I could live my life for—
the sweetness of smoke passing behind my throat
to my nostril, I wonder if
my subconscious has a death wish
and that is why I dream
of blowing out the dead
pieces, closing my eyelids
and sinking into the arms of the only willing
lover I’ve known: sadness;
the one who crawls into bed with me and
kisses my eyelids to sleep so that
when I wake up, their presence is
the only thing I remember.
This lover sits with me through late nights, 
holds my hands for midnight breakdowns, telling me
“It’s okay, this is only a part of who you are, 
and you are mine” 

Nora Laine Herzog is a womxn-identified spoken word artist and page poet from Anchorage, Alaska. She was first introduced to spoken word by local artist and activist Trey “Freethought” Josey in an literal elevator pitch. She spent three years working, writing, and performing with other youth poets in Alaska, under Josey’s direction before being accepted into the 9th Cohort of the First Wave Hip-Hop and Urban Arts program. Nora is currently a college student studying cell biology, Russian, and Spanish, with the hope of pursuing a career in medical research. Nora’s work deals primarily with the themes of loss, grief, and survivorship through a variety of experimental narratives. Her one-woman show, a personal narrative of survivor’s guilt in the face of epidemic suicide, debuted in April 2017. The show, titled Where Guilt Exists, was directed by fellow artist Kennedie King, and was also performed as part of the 2017 UW-Madison Linebreaks Festival. Her poetry has previously been published by undr_scr review and the Illuminations journal at UW-Madison; select narratives have been published by Huffington Post.