“All My Twins” by Hugh Behm-Steinberg with art by Menat Allah El Attma

acm menat

I talk too much; I boss the empty air, but doing this doesn’t make me happy. So I set free the air – it brings me snakes; we converse as sisters.

So my twin brains me, and feeds my body to the sky, thinking it will bless her. The snakes coil at her feet, the snakes coil around her arms. Everyone cries, “what beautiful jewelry you wear!” Everyone loves her.

The sky blesses her; she twins, over and over, talking and talking and talking. The air is humid with chatter.

The air says, “enough, I’m leaving California. I’m going to circulate over the Pacific Ocean for awhile and mind my own Etsy shop. All you copies can think about what you’ve done.”

The twins invest in scuba gear and continue their conversations using tablets and dry erase markers. They pretend they’re underwater, it’s easier that way.

I come back from the sky with a headache and all my twins embrace me. Everyone breathes again, we have so much to say to one another. When our friends look for us, all they see are trees.


Hugh Behm-Steinberg
Hugh Behm-Steinberg is the author of two books of poetry, Shy Green Fields (No Tell Books) and The Opposite of Work (JackLeg Press), as well as three Dusie chapbooks, Sorcery, Good Morning! and The Sound of Music. His short story “Taylor Swift” won the 2015 Barthelme Prize from Gulf Coast. An e-chapbook of fiction, The Society of the Recently Escaped, is out just now from The Fabulist, and a collection of microfiction and prose poems, Animal Children, is forthcoming from Nomadic Press in 2019. He is chief steward of the adjunct faculty union at California College of the Arts. 

Having emigrated from Egypt to the United States in November of 2005, Menat Allah El Attma is now a third-year undergraduate student studying English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a writer. photographer, and avid reader. Personally invested in a myriad of art forms, Menat believes it is through Art that we can meaningfully study history, religion, science, language, ourselves and each other.