3 & 12 by Simone Muench

3: the arsonist

(starring brandi h)

Her calendar charm kick-starts men’s lips while her wrists drip with doorbells. When the doctor gazed at her, a nurse parade passed in his head. Thread of alizarin through her hair. She revs her engine with stars and white thigh-highs, while choirboys chant holy, holy in the burlesque of her hip swing. Though she was born at a roadblock, her legato knees open for the congregation. Murmur of campfire under her hair.  Murmur of bass notes, rubber gloves. Sugar, she says, my lips are firebrands that’ll make your gold cross vibrato. The boys saw in prescribed light, her thorned orbit. Her breath full of footprints and soporific ruin. Her arm an empty room.


12: the bestiary

(starring jackie w)

In a tongue-snap sky, waxwings unspool over the plains. He was a whisper, she was Nebraska. Her hands pepperweed, pebble, pearl to pearl, so tone-smooth.  Her mouth speaks, a red canary to a dime cigar.  Spittle sheen. There are worse things than being a pretty Catholic girl without any guilt.

She gives herself over to the music, embracing the Phoenician sailor and swearing beneath the cinema screen. Under the ostinato, under the train’s rustle, she goes down.  With her topaz neck and her bestiary lure. With her coloratura and vixen gene, she goes down. Into the musk and hum and howl.

O lady of the bossa nova.  O girl born of semaphores.  Into the moss and phosphorous. Into the salt marsh and subjunctive silence.  With currants in her mouth, a yellow scarf around her neck, she goes.

Simone Muench is the author of four poetry books: The Air Lost in Breathing (Marianne Moore Prize for Poetry; Helicon Nine, 2000); Lampblack & Ash (Kathryn A. Morton Prize for Poetry; Sarabande, 2005); Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010); and Disappearing Address co-written with Philip Jenks (BlazeVOX, 2010). She received her Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and now directs the Writing Program at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies. Additionally, she serves on the advisory boards of Switchback Books and UniVerse: A United Nations of Poetry, and is an editor for Sharkforum.