|To give a child an idea of scarlet or orange, of sweet or bitter, I present the objects|
|Shall it be orange-wench or tragedy-queen?|
|Have you seen that place along the front where they sell orange crush?|
|So sang the heartbroken girl, keeper of parakeets and orange trees|
|the mirror cracks from top to bottom like an orange made in the image of my sister|
In the spider-broke shack on the edge
of the metropolis,
in the song of the red canary,
city listens city bends
its avenues to hear smitten
girls in floral nightgowns
sleeping next to coal-stove light.
drawing up their legs as
murder moves us through
autumn months. Wore
the wrong dress to the funeral
of the murdered girl.
Her body now swelling
into puberty underground.
Pear, petal, razor, torture.
Smell of lemon drops.
Her dread of blue balloons.
suppose you are beaten
you are bell heather and blue icing
you are strange, a stranger sleeping
at the weather station
suppose you ride your dad’s Yamaha
in your dreams and end up
upside down in a wisteria tree
you are sugar dissolving in water
a poster child
for the ill-informed
you sigh and whisper “thief”
or “milk” or “field”
while the night closes
around you like bankruptcy
like tight collars
on tall men
suppose you are lying on an examination table
doctors’ voices above you ricochet
as if traveling through phone lines from a foreign city
suppose you are golden
will the dark ride your hips regardless?
suppose you die
a half death and end up in a coma
you are raped and give birth
to a baby with perfect ears
and too many fingers
suppose the night is a crime library
filled with lost gloves
does your light grow more furiously or diffuse?
suppose suppose you are one of these girls
A scar like a sea-bird
floats over your forearm,
salt stinging histories
recall oblivion and bone
barrettes. Too much wine
and china oranges lead us
sternward, though we know
nothing of the nautical.
We are at home with avenues,
asphalt. The butcher shop
on the corner where the chop-
chop of blade to meat is
oddly comforting in the morning
when the sun is gorged
with pollen light and the small
red blossoms of geraniums
blow along the marquees,
boarded up store-fronts.
And somewhere in the sound
of flesh and flower, a woman
is laughing, is lost.
Shadow-mouth in the month of May
when the light loosens it teeth in the forest.
Over, above, upon—
I is the other illuminated; whirling girl
in the blue wine waterways
in the foam&pearl feathers of pigeons.
Electric animals. A whirlpool of roar.
Skulking beyond the windows are ferocities.
White linen strung between fever trees captures
the velocity of a hungry animal. A brassiere,
tendrils, as she shakes sea salt from her hair.
The I that is not her, shut the door
before the other, creating
a template of vivid collisions.
Coalitions are out of the question between panther
&flamingo. The ocular erotic in what distant
deeps or skies. Witness the weather,
sinew of tangled wickerwork.
Bone or abalone? Ghost tree or missing girl?
at the love hotel she lost her legs
intersection of table and torso
her pockmarked face pretty
and blue like violet pastilles
so sweet so dead
so divine a cadaver
at the love hotel she lost her lips
a pearl comb beside her head
smell of eggs and oolong drifting
red ribbons around her wrist
she lost those too
she was looking out of herself
her stabs, so many eye slits
so many peepholes
camera flash on her mouth
her belly and a black billfold
zoom to navel
vortex of torso
outside a chokecherry hung with Chinese lanterns
who lit the lamps this evening
who lit the girl
up with windex and gasoline
she is glass, she is straw
she is waiting
for us to wake up through her eyes
through her eyes
she is taking us to the other side
of the river, to the hidden storehouse
her eyes are umbrellas
her eyes whir until cherry pits
fly through the air
her eyes ghosted and open
milk in a mason jar
her eyes crime scenes
her no, her no, her lilac dress
her bones, her darting tongue
at the love hotel she says her goodbyes
her wounds deep as waistcoats
her eyes horizon and iron
her eyes, her eyes
grew up in Louisiana and Arkansas before moving to Colorado to receive her BA and MA from the University of Colorado. Her first book The Air Lost in Breathing won the Marianne Moore Prize for Poetry (Helicon Nine, 2000). Her second, Lampblack & Ash, received the Kathryn A. Morton Prize for Poetry (Sarabande Books, 2005), and was one of the editor’s selections in the New York Times Book Review. She has poems appearing in Iowa Review, Poetry, American Poet, Caffeine Destiny, and Three Candles. Orange Girl, a chapbook in which these poems will appear, is forthcoming in July from Dancing Girl Press. She received her Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is director of the Creative Writing Program at Lewis University. Currently, she serves on the advisory board for Switchback Books, is a contributing editor to Sharkforum where she presents a “poem of the week” series, and is an avid horror film fan. Her website is www.simonemuench.com.