(Originally published in Orange Crush.)


Trouble came and trouble
brought greasy, ungenerous things:
poke root and bladderwrack,
chalklines in bloody bedrooms
and black reptilian bags
smelling of acetylene.

Trouble came and trouble sang
shush-shush or tell-tell
for I alone will break your bones
as he bedded down for winter
in a small small town,
smelling of cabbage and tripe
where eight black chickens
wandered the street.

With trouble came clouds
agitating the cows, their thick
ruminant bodies clogging up
the riverbeds. Trouble came
and sang and fish turned belly-up,
house pets appeared in the well.

Children starting dying
of oddities the small-town
doctor could not name.

Trouble-houses, trouble-towns.
Trouble came in one hundred waves,
in sparks and hexes, with horse-breath
and spiny borders.  Babies born
with clubfoots and cleft lips, babies
born with partial hearts and partial heads
and some just born plain dead.

Trouble is and trouble was
and trouble came and sang
shush-shush or tell-tell
in a small small town.

Simone Muench is the author of six full-length books including Lampblack & Ash (Sarabande, 2005), Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010), Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014), and Suture, a collaborative book of sonnets written with Dean Rader, (Black Lawrence Press, 2017). Her chapbook Trace received the Black River Award (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). She is a recipient of a 2013 NEA fellowship and the 2014 Meier Foundation for the Arts Achievement Award, which recognizes artists for their innovation, achievements and community contributions. She received her Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and is Professor of English at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies and serves as chief faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review.

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