the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




SEVEN WORKS
BY ALEX STIBER

BUTTER

Funny how the taste
of this butter takes me
back nearly forty years:
I was almost nine
and Diane Flax swung
weightlessly across the stage
one leg entwined and one hand
grasping a rope hung from
a rec hall rafter, a flash
of Peter Pan green
winking a blue eye at me,
just me. Next morning,
only co-ed breakfast of
the segregated summer,
we sat across a table
and slathered our white
bread thick with
fresh Berkshire butter,
sprinkled sugar on top,
and both at once asked
if it was sweet enough.

================

GIRL AT THE POOL

bent ninety
degrees at the
waist to
free her feet from
the bottoms of
her jeans she
steps out
toes pointed
down one elegant
leg
        then the
other and
unfolds
venus rising
out of rumpled
denim

================


FROM THE NAMING OF PAINT TEAM

We were impressed with-no, I should say astonished at-the clarity, depth, and brilliance of the green paint sample you Fedexed to us, but I'm sorry to say we do not support your characterization of it as a "warm chartreuse" (though we do concur that the world will certainly benefit from such a concept). In fact, after much discussion and negotiation (and be confident, we did run your phrase up the flagpole, but it wouldn't fly), our team has decided to call it maritime fuchsia, although we realize that thus naming it may cause some confusion among those prospective consumers who insist on clinging to the commonly held meanings of words. This is our thinking here: The color is bold enough to bear any name we give it, and (notwithstanding that green is not actually purple) the consumer whose purchasing decision is based solely on the product's name (i.e., he or she who doesn't try before he or she buys) deserves a surprise, albeit one that is probably going to be, at the very least, an irritating one. We welcome your comments on our team's decision, though it is unlikely we'll be swayed by any additional arguments: The commercialization subteam already has a preferred supplier working on a key event in the product launch, scheduled for April to coincide with the opening of the new aquarium in Boise. Please say "hi" to the folks in chemistry, and let them know how much we in marketing value your team's tireless efforts.

================

THANKSGIVING CAME EARLY THIS YEAR

what made me think of
you just now was this
fragrant pie sitting
next to me on my desk
that I got from
Beth and will
take home and eat
with a large glass
of ice cold milk
it's got this
perfectly browned crust,
you know, with those
couple of bird tracks where
the promise of blackberries
just shows through

================

THIS PILE OF TIRES
                (with apologies to William Carlos Williams

Balance depends
upon
this pile of
rotting
tires dumped be-
side the pot-
holed two-
lane blacktop
among
a field of
weeds grow
ing unfet-
tered to
the low gray Pitts-
burgh sky

================

PASSENGERS

Wasn't the sky that morning
miraculously blue,
just as it is this morning?
Didn't at least one traveler,
perhaps to dispel anxiety,
say to you,
        It's a beautiful day for flying,
        don't you think?
And didn't you
offer a cordial nod of comfort,
step tentatively onto a plane,
wondering at the impossibility of flight,
knowing that if we were meant to fly
we would have been born with wings, and think,
        Tonight I'll kiss the perfect cheeks of my children,
        tuck them in safely beneath a sturdy roof
        under a vast, wondrous sky

        and sleep safe in the arms of my lover?

================

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER

You should leave me when the leaves fall
'Cause that's when my funk begins
When there's less light in each day
And the cold invades my bones
Then my shoulders start to slump
And deep lines form on my face
The world gets dark and hopeless
And I want to hide away.

You should leave me when the light fails
When the world is dim and gray
When the blues surround me like a shroud
And music fades away
When nothing seems to matter
And I don't care what I eat
Where I sleep or whom I sleep with
And there's nothing left to say.