Poems: Steve Mueske

The Cyclist

—for Pedro Pascual Perello

That there is a sun, above all.
That the wheel is round and not a box
Of spokes without purpose.

In certain iterations the heart
Is not a bow tie; nor the kind of love
That is rusted into mist.

Through an elephantine grief
Joy still rides her bike. Rubbed and
Scraped down to essence,

What is, Is. Cannot be burned
Or bombed away. At the core, despite
Its disfiguring grace, light.



I arrived here with only a bag
Of weevils and a bar of chocolate,
Humming a few lines
From This is my life so far.
What I wanted, what I really wanted
Was a nice green hill on which to stand
And survey my kingdom.
From the beautiful mountains
To the sea. The beautiful sea.
Among the waves of grain
I paused to stare at the clouds
Changing from one thing into another.
My bag was full, I was a happy man.
I had all the time in the world.



Sometimes without
meaning to / I see the fish
under glass. Sometimes
the look / in their eyes
is the same look / my cat
flashes when he wants
out. / It’s not enough
to make the gesture,
this look says, there
has to be / an exchange
of information. / The
dessert fork goes here,
the salad fork there.
Sometimes I imagine
my prayers are received / by
a benevolent god with
a wicked / sense of humor.
A god who’ll spit / ghost
pepper seeds in my
geraniums whenever my
lines / get too long.
When the cat / wants in,
I do not mock him.
He just wants reassurance
the food / hasn’t moved &
the water / is where
he recalls. / When he wants
out / again it’s to verify
that access was / requested
& granted. I get it.
Sometimes I just want
the whole world to forget
it exists. Then suddenly
remember, / and applaud.
Just / for the fun of it.


The Boy: Two Views

    1.) The Dream of the Burning House

It begins the way it always does,
the way it always will—

               with fire ripping through
the inner rooms: a house on the verge.

        The question is:
Will the boy shelter in the cellar
               or chance the flames, the door?

Always, the same dream. The same choice.

       2.) The Boy

       “Imagine / thinking of beauty
       with no momentum behind it.”

              —Adam Clay, “Thought for a Stalled World”

Imagine beauty with no momentum.
Imagine a face melted, reimagined.
Imagine rosy, glossy, striated, the supple muscles
River & mud, root. Balloon.
Imagine pliant, young. Pinkish. Whorled.
A ruination. The sere assemblage &
Roped ruins of new. Made-
Again. The made-up to coax into story:
The fiend appeared! Imagine
The heart, locked in the boy.
The button eyes, searching.
Always searching. To reaffirm
The outside world. Imagine
The truth of your unguarded surprise.
The violent swell of horror. Knowing
he knows. You had no time to prepare!
The compassion it will take
The rest of your life to recognize. Imagine
All the years he will have to visit
The flames. The many
Lives he will save.


Steve Mueske is an electronic musician and the author of a chapbook and two books of poetry. His poems have appeared recently in The Iowa Review, Water~Stone Review, Cream City Review, Verdad, Cold Mountain Review, The Pinch Journal, The Normal School, Jet Fuel Review, and elsewhere.

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