Six poems by Leah Mueller



My Esteemed Air BnB Guest:

This is not a goddamned luxury hotel.

I’m not going to bring you a pony
or a box of quilted Kleenex.

Nor will I appear in my pajamas
to cook you a gourmet breakfast.

Please don’t steal my only DVD
copy of “The Big Lebowski.”

If you break the window shade
the appropriate response
is NOT to wrap it in brown duct tape
and then leave me a bad review.

There is a light switch on the wall
to operate the track lighting
in the living room,
and another beside the front door
for the porch light.

They should be easy to find,
though I suppose
if you’re standing in the dark
looking for them,
the task could be harder.

You’re staying in a fully stocked condo
in the Mt Baker National Forest,
surrounded by the wonders of nature,
filled with such amenities
as two swimming pools
with adjacent hot tubs and sauna,
a three-story log cabin built in 1887,
a walking trail beside the Nooksack river,
tennis and squash courts,
free gourmet coffee,
and numerous barbeque grills.

$75 a night is a good deal.

Don’t complain that you
can see a dumpster
from the living room window
and deduct two stars for value.
What the hell did you expect,
you myopic and privileged prima donna?

If I put a mint on your pillow,’
and showed up naked
to turn down your covers
and give you a back rub,
you’d still find something
to complain about.

I’m going to come to your home
and criticize your furniture.
I’d pay a hundred bucks to do it.
Let’s see how you like that, asshole.

Next time, stay at the Motel 6.

Sincerely yours,

The Superhost Owner of Lone Jack #107.



The two worst things
about death are waiting
for it to arrive, and knowing
someone else will find my body.

If I could fail to deteriorate
and finally disappear in a
cartoon flash of light,
it wouldn’t be half as bad.

Knowledge of
limitation, compressed
into hourly segments,
a circled date on
the calendar of mortality.

Time to get my work done,
since no one else wants
any part of it. Instead,
the random folding of the clock,
the unexpected power loss.

I pretend to know the route
by heart, and the schedule.

Another person will need
to pick up the slack
after I forget. Somehow
they’ll manage to remember,
and my husk will crumble
like all the others before it.




Your girlfriend
the sex therapist
hates my guts,
and the irony is:
she’s a goddamn
sex therapist,

but she thinks
sex with you
is better than ever,
when you claim
it’s not very good.

You’d rather be
having sex with me.

If this isn’t
the biggest cliché
in the annals of love,
I don’t know what is.

The story was old
the first time, before
we even existed,
but you’ve
added your own
garbled sentences.

is for folks
in their twenties
and thirties: a time
when the sap rises
all by itself, without

people needing to
talk to somebody else
about why it doesn’t
rise any more,
or failing that, quit
and start all over again.

some poor sap
pays your girlfriend
big bucks
to distribute
sex advice, while

you humble her
on long weekends
with your contempt,
your rage because
she isn’t me.

This reveals
I need to know
about you,
your girlfriend,
and psychotherapy.



                    (for Scott)

Across the
        slippery bowling lane
               in your rented shoes,
you stared down the alley,

                  watched the pins topple.

Dark back turned,
                 you raised one foot,
                                  rotated, and
                                                           hurled another ball
                                                   with grim precision,
                                  long legs splayed like chopsticks.
My camera clicked
                       as the machine
                                             reset its rows.

  You seemed

              even quieter than usual.

My husband and I
                       drank pints of beer,
                                              but you were sober.

  Seven years
                       with no alcohol,
                                                 but still outdoors
                  smoking every
                                fifteen minutes.

You complained

                       of numbness in your left arm,
raised it high
one early morning,

but it fell on your bed                         

                     like newspapers.

When your
                    entire body went numb,
                              eight months later,

I hope you didn’t

                               feel it either.



the debris
of memory
through the
back door,

I noticed
a minute
clump of you
in the corner.

It was
shaped like
your face,
only smaller,
with eyes
that bulged
with need.

I attacked
with my broom,
but you
with all
your might.

I threw you
outside, but
you stood  
laughing on
the other side
of my window.

I tried to
ignore you,
but you grew
larger, until
your shadow
filled the room.

When I
turned around,
you were there
again, stuck
in the corner
like you had
never left.

I’ve tried
my hardest,
with every tool
at my disposal,
but I can’t
get rid of you.

I guess
we might
as well
be friends.



Hazardous summer:
breeze filled with particles.

Once the sun was the enemy,
we poured heavy liquid layers
from plastic bottles to
shield us from the attack
of rays. Rumors of skin toxins,

marching in disheveled rows:
an uncontrollable army, firing
in random directions.

Now the air onslaught,
thick as ground glass.
“Unsafe for sensitive populations”
screams the internet banner.

We meditate on yellow,
the color that brings us
closer to safety.

The clutch lessens
for a moment, then
tightens again, laughing
at our attempts to escape.

We pretend this is normal,
go to brunch, make plans
for movie matinees.

How long will we need
to stand outside in line,
waiting? How effective
the indoor ventilation?
Is it safe to open the windows?

Tomorrow, the dial spins to red,
closes in on purple,
emergency a possibility.

Then what? The gears
need to run, the machine
remains bent on relentless progress
at the expense of everything.

Meanwhile, the gods
maintain their vise grip
on our lungs. I might as well
smoke another bowl and wait.
This dust won’t settle, and besides,
my days are already numbered.

Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of two chapbooks and four books. Her latest book, a memoir entitled “Bastard of a Poet” was published by Alien Buddha Press in June, 2018. Leah’s work appears in Blunderbuss, The Spectacle, Outlook Springs, Crack the Spine, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She was a featured poet at the 2015 New York Poetry Festival, and a runner-up in the 2012 Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest.

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