“Lesbians or Exchange Students” by Matt Muth

Matt Muth


What they think of their bag
of bagels. How they relate
to it. What convicts playing
chess, what codger throwing
bread to gulls. What rumpled
suit, what Sunday best. How

the head cradles the hand, how
the hand sweeps across the face,
what hex. Check. What rolled
sleeve, what cold coffee, what
neglect. What brush, what grace,
how the fingers plow the lips,

how the bishop holds his place.
What grip, what waste. What book,
what skin, what bird, what rook,
what nest. Check. What fencepost
legs, what universe, what dread.
What’s first, what’s best. How much

depends on that bag of bagels, that summer dress.
What word, what mate, what more, what less.

from Rattle #46, Winter 2014


Matt Muth: “When I was in 4th grade my teacher asked our class to write a paragraph about what we wanted to be when we grew up, so we did. A lot of girls wanted to be wives, some of the boys wanted to be fighter pilots and engineers, and one kid who didn’t really understand what was going on wrote that he wanted to be a fire truck. I wrote a two-page first-person narrative about how I would score the winning goal for the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. This was actually less plausible than becoming a fire truck since the Wings and Hawks played in the same conference, and thus could never meet in the finals. So I guess I write because on my very first career day, I had already decided that I wasn’t going to pay attention to what I could and couldn’t actually do.”