Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona. She is the author of several prose and poetry books, published by numerous small presses. Her latest chapbook, “Land of Eternal Thirst” (Dumpster Fire Press) was released in 2021. Leah’s work appears in Rattle, Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and elsewhere. Visit her website at www.leahmueller.org.
Deep inhale, full exhale. Front door opened wide, as the dervish breeze relentlessly chases itself. So much life glimpsed through dusty metal squares. Now: mid-afternoon sprawls in child’s pose, waits for the blackout curtain. Rust-red mountains, painted with a dirty brush, their jagged fangs exposed. My home rests on the hillside, front door screen secured with a flimsy hook, grip tenuous yet obstinate. Sip coffee from a yellow cup, watch as summer unrolls its drapery. Perhaps I’ve always been here and never meant to leave. The wind returns me to my room, so I have given up resisting.
A Land Without News
At least you won’t hear the reports from the alpine perch where your body landed. You won’t suffer through mortality counts, when you’re almost dead yourself, but expected to care. No culture bullfights, fresh meat for sale at the back door after a kill. If you wait long enough, you might get a few scraps at reduced cost. No shrieks of newsfeeds and ambulances. Just your own gray matter, free to ponder galaxies without interruption. That leftover chair you padded against protruding bones, bare and starving. No reason for weight; you have given up hovering and left me to my grievances. Death is hard on the living, the dead can’t be bothered. Nothing to see except bad news, and the promise of more tomorrow, until you need to die to get away from it.
Previously published by Madrigal Magazine
Toad hopped away from the gas campfire, made its way in my direction. A purposeful beast, Toad had watched the flames from a safe distance, and determined it was free from threat. It paused for a moment like a stray cat and allowed me to stroke its back. Toad was in no hurry to leave. I worried it might be stunned by a second story balcony drop from the nearby Roadrunner Motel. The owners pumped 60s commercials nonstop through vintage radio speakers and monitored their ice machine for scofflaws. Toad was zen. Toad had been around the parking lot before. It took off, finally, hopping through the uneven gravel towards the office, in full view of predators. Amphibian on a mission. There could be moisture behind the washing machine, or some discarded vegetable matter. You take what you can find in the desert, especially if you’re born without spikes and claws. Toad hops. That is its only defense. Meanwhile, I can barely climb the wrought iron staircase to my hundred-dollar mattress. Once there, it will take hours for me to get comfortable. I imagine Toad’s sleep will be deeper than mine.