Copyright © 2020 Otis Nebula Press. All rights reserved.

110 Degrees and No Relief in Sight

My mother was a widow in the desert.

I will be next, but I don’t know when.

I fool myself as I look in the mirror,

note my cheek bloom

and determined clench.

Though I outlast everyone,

one day I will lie down

in the same gully, surrender

to the third shift gatekeepers.

All of us crouched

together in scrub brush,

waiting for my number to appear. 

The forest no longer wants me,

spits its poison into my lungs,

comes with a price tag I can’t afford.

My ancestors wore dark boots

with laces, and that was enough.

Predators dispatched with clubs and guns.

Acres of trees, sacrificed for shelter.

I am too bloated to fight.

Too fond of comfort.

You were too, until the invaders

crept inside your body as you slept.

The lesson is you never can sleep.

Your eyes must always be open,

to spot all the mistakes

others will make at your expense.

My desert homework was not to trust.

My mother taught me early.

Leah Mueller is a writer and spoken word performer from Tacoma, Washington. Her most recent volumes, "Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices" (Czykmate Press) and "Death and Heartbreak" (Weasel Press) were released in October, 2019. Leah’s work also appears in Blunderbuss, The Spectacle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She won honorable mention in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest. Her new chapbook is "Cocktails at Denny's" (Alien Buddha Press).

Triin Paja