"Solstice" by Leah Mueller


You returned from a year-long trip to Asia

and slept for twenty-four hours,

until the jangling of your phone awakened you.


I apologized, but you invited me

to come over immediately

and disturb you some more.


I stood in the middle of your living room

on the longest night of the year,

surrounded by singing bowls and heavy tapestries

of androgynous gods and goddesses,

their bodies arranged in improbable positions.


Later, we reclined on the back porch of a biker bar

in the rapidly waning Seattle heat

and warmed ourselves with pints of beer.

When we kissed, a jealous biker asked whether

we'd had orgasms yet. Since we hadn't,


we returned to your place, and gave it

our best shot. You had an orgasm, but I didn't.

I chalked it up to inexperience,

told myself it didn't matter. We fell asleep

on your sticky bed, entwined like Shiva's arms.


In the morning, we ate pancakes

and wandered into the Asian museum.

You made the elderly guard laugh

when you told a story about men in Thailand

who pulled cars with their penises.

We fell in love for a few weeks,

until the rains moved in again.


Now I see you on Facebook:

your thirty-year old images

of mountain-climbing excursions,

and more recent snapshots of

your pinch-faced Scorpio wife,

straining to look happy for the camera.

You sent a black and white photo of me reclining

on my back, arms splayed above my head

in a posture of joyful surrender. Funny how

the body flows easily when we're young,

but now even smiling takes so much effort.

"Hood Love" by Leah Mueller

Tawdry romance

isn't the way

it appears

in the movies.


It's not the alchemy

of opposites

seeking union

against all obstacles,

but instead

the shrieking couple

on the street

in front of their house

on a rainy

winter afternoon.


The man

accuses his lover

of infidelity,

then they

go back inside

and have make-up sex

while their

television set blasts

in the background.


During the afterglow,

they wander

up the street

to the mini-mart

for beer

and cigarettes.


It might not

be love at all,

but it's close enough

to the real thing

to keep the rent paid,

at least for

another month.