Matt Muth



Crossing the Alps

Matt Muth

The little towns slid by the window—
Sion, Sierre, Visp—their syllables

attention I could nearly give, their little plots
of grudging soil and feathered stalks almost

agriculture, all but growing. The conductor
shifted imperceptibly from French

to German, then Italian, til the words
belonged to no one in the valley

of my ears and the rushing of the train
could not be marshalled. To go where

I was going washed between my fingers
underneath the type of blue that bumps

your head—me on a string drawn through
the glacial cleft, and on the mountainsides

trees scraped a living from bare rock
in a heroic kind of self-regard. The palate

of the sky pressed down and pulverized
the limestone to a silky cadence

I could almost hear beneath the tracks,
fine and finer particles of glossy silt

bearing me on. And, nearly there,
the contour of a life I’d nearly want.

space break

Chronic 2001

All of us licking the world
all of us drawing a razor down

                  its impossible length its skin
                  a muddy creek bed in our fingers

filled with names the light
went out to give us : all of us

                   singing What’s the difference between
                   me and you
all of us in our throats

the keepers of a hymnal threaded
in the pleat of dusk and dawn

                   invincible enough to think
                   this wasn’t also you : all of us

shattered in a Chrysler throwing spears
of moonlight all of us crooked crowned

                   in smoke believing that our youth
                   would make us whole the way you once

believed it could : all of us in
the fields beyond the subdivisions

                   dangling in the air berserk and burning
                   as an unhooked star all of us wrapped

in night a kind of love you could accept
because it came from no one : were you

                   alive to take it in were you one
                   grave combusting just to show the dark

its seams ripped open show the dark
what moved inside it : and the city lights

                   were reaching back into a past
                   we’d just begun and it was our place

to fall away to learn to fall
and none of it belonged to us

Matt Muth is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Pacifica Literary Review. His poems have appeared in Cleaver, Gravel, Heavy Feather Review, Nashville Review, Rattle, and RHINO. He teaches English at a technical college for video game designers in Redmond, WA, lives in Seattle, and is a solid beer league hockey player.