Four Poems by Terri Muuss

I Admit That While You Are Gone

from the house or sleeping, I picture you dead,
pulled clean from the seam of our linen
lives of moons and tulips, into the tender
groves of distant greedy night. Each time,

you disappear into the most unreachable
stillness I can imagine. My heart, a bug-eyed
chimney of belching smoke, lurches along
the violent sea of 5 o’clock rush

hour. Without you, spirits wail,
a tempest of arms strangles
necks inside the yellow geography
of our shifting metric. Love,

your voice, so urgent, seizes me—
the vast, shuddering ecstasy,
the melody of your strange
fingers on my back. The clock strikes 11,

my spine twitches, a bird released from a branch
of snow. Your head in my hands, the gentle
sleeping of the waiting world. There can be
nothing but this.

Terri Muuss reads “I Admit That While You Are Gone”

Los Barrios

Under restless seas—children
bones in the yellow water
of history. Strawberry mothers examine

paint samples for bedrooms
while someone’s syrup
neighborhood is for sale. Different
can live
comfortably side-by-

side on the same
street as long
as some children are taught
how not to

Red-pulsing line of
the darkening valley,
silent souls facing stars.
Brown lips break
 words from

clothes lines
steel bridges cut
from sugarcane.

Terri Muuss reads “Los Barrios”

Poem Found in an Email from a Colleague

i’m a man with cosmic radar tuned
in though i’m trying to ignore
it which, of course,
i can’t, i mean, can any of us tuned
this far ignore the crushing gravity of the universe and
i’ve been thinking lately
about people from my past—how there are no
coincidences, you know, all we have to do
is pay attention and well,
of course when i’ve tried to explain this
to others, people who live inside comfortably
sealed envelopes, people who know the exact thread
count of their sheets, well, they are
convinced of my lunacy and
of course my friend eddie would
have understood it completely, would have stood
comfortably in the widening circles spinning out
from all of us, would have jumped in even deeper  and
of course eddie died of leukemia, during a cold spell
in january, like this one now, but just a few years ago and
of course he loved led zep, particularly kashmir and
of course i heard you play that all day
yesterday in your classroom to start each class, the music
bouncing in syncopated ball drops across the industrial
tiled high school hallways, all the way down
to my silent classroom and
i immediately thought about eddie, how he would
be singing a song from tongues
of lilting grace, whose sounds caress my ear
of course right after i hear you
playing that very line, the bell rings and i stumble
to start my humanities
class, third period, the paint still drying on my
memory and the hollow echo in the trash can
as I toss my apple core in and
of course drue is in that class and
of course drue is not focused on winslow homer’s painting and
of course i ask him if he has anything to add
to our discussion, or to anything
else in the universe, and
of course he does, and
of course he says i like kashmir.
yeah, man, i’m paying attention and
of course at the end of the day with the radar and
the music and with drue—after it all, when I
need something to help bring me back home again—
I sit on the cold leather seat in my old volkswagen
and I turn the key and the instant
my still car is brought to sudden life
it was on again, the father of four winds
filling my sails and
of course eddie’s still around and
of course he’s letting me know he understands and
of course you are one of the few people here who
really understands that too
of course you played kashmir today because it’s exactly
what i needed
at exactly
the right time.

Terri Muuss reads “Poem Found in an Email from a Colleague”

Flight To Albuquerque

I left you in the rain. Below me, wing
of plane, baked plain of Texas, snake
of river. My armrest is taken
by someone I do not know. I miss

our ballet toe dance of elbows
when flying. They balance, lift
into a knotted tree of fingers. When
they announce landing, I bury you

deeper. What marks me? What makes
a kiss stay? The lies distance creates.
These words come slowly, seep
into hair like melting snow.

Terri Muuss reads “Flight To Albuquerque”

Terri Muuss.jpegTerri Muuss is a multi-career tour de force who balances a full-time social work gig with directing shows, writing books, speaking at conferences and colleges, running a private practice, performing her one-woman show, teaching writing workshops and curating a popular poetry series with her husband, author Matt Pasca. Her poetry has appeared in dozens of publications and anthologies, including Atticus Review, Paterson Literary Review, Stirring, University of Indiana Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Luna Luna Magazine and Veils, Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women, and her first book, Over Exposed (2013), was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2015, Terri began curating Second Saturdays @Cyrus and, in 2016, co-edited an anthology of New York women poets entitled Grabbing the Apple. After years spent working the stages of New York City, Vermont and Dublin, Terri has also performed her one-woman show, Anatomy of a Doll—named “Best Theatre: Critics’ Pick of the Week” by the New York Post—around the United States and Canada since 1998, and directed countless Off-Off-Broadway productions. As a motivational speaker, artist and social worker, Muuss keynotes and runs workshops at conferences, colleges and high schools across the nation. Her second book, God’s Spine, is forthcoming.

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