Jenny Mueller

5 poems

from Postcards


My father (F) took
the round utopian
light of Buckminster
Fuller’s “skybreak
bubble” home to
place it in the square

—which “expresses equality,” as
does its brother rectangle.
He came home & built what
we always would call “the
new room.” Glass walls &
stone floor made squares, little
plazas of sunlight and moon
where one drew, warmed & gazed.
Evenings the spectacle turned
inside: the birds at the feeder
fell into the dark so we
saw a nuclear family move &
compose under lights in the glass

Expo 67 — Montreal, Canada (1967)
5.5 x 3.5 horizontal

“Habitat 67 — a revolutionary concept of
urban housing located on Cite ́ du Havre, this
unique complex of 158 dwellings is a
fascinating look into the future. The form of
the building permits the utilisation of many
roofs as gardens with a resulting maximum
benefit from fresh air and sunlight to the

In the manmade islands’
world city of new nows, crowds swept
into swaggering pavilions, / nation-
rides on the theme of man
in his world 
/ There I first met
the 2 pictograms sorting the doors /
modular, but for the triangle A
in her waist / M/F / male fe-
male mother father / who-
ever high / & the same held
my hand in the swirl


Expo 67 — Montreal, Canada (1967)
5.5 x 3.5 horizontal

The minirail dropped her
into the pockets of
buildings where movies massed
seething colors. They frothed
over her—she in them
growing: gazing: as stem.

Carte Postale
(Posting it now, slick w/60s
processes, Canadian Plastichrome.
Man the Creator! gathered
in the river, a micro state
issuing imagery, urbi et orbi.
To post—to place. To be carried.)

I searched for my sister, beacon
in the cinemas, patterns swarming
across her skin. She bore
lights of the spectacle toward
the exit, entangling them
with the real sun.

“Fireworks Across Dolphin Lake — On La
Ronde, this is a thrilling nightly spectacle.
The lights of Montreal are seen in the

To be carried in dark
to the marvel, to the night mumming
feathery, carnival masks / to be hoisted
like a gift to be split over crowds— /
under it flashing— / a smile of smoke
drifting on the emptied face after /

She lived in the tent city dirtily skirting
the fair. She awoke sealed and sticky
on its ground like a seed. Like
a seed she was lifted again into air—


John Cage, A Dip in the Lake: Ten Quicksteps, Sixty-two Waltzes,
Fifty-six Marches for Chicago and Vicinity
(felt-tip pen on map)
MCA Chicago postcard dimensions: 8.5 x 6

“After life has been conducted in a certain
way nobody knows it but nobody knows it,
little by little, nobody knows it as long as
nobody knows it."

To exchange roads for streets. Start with the long straight isolate I
arrowing into a cluster. There the one voice

splits & re-portions & mazes itself into rounds. Then return,
streets to roads, wavelike to-fro, composition of a matter new
brought back.
The way a groove forges its pull. Any child of the outskirts
knew a red spell in the air, that the tall freeway kiss

of the Magikist sign. Nights headed home you sat up for it.
A pair of lips floated and drained, the red neon flooding

in toward the crest of the bow, through the vermillion zone,
voiding then back to its corners.
Just so if different Man Ray
placed a pair of lips into the sky & rouged them, stroke by stroke
so they hung Cheshire repeated and full.
(Imagine the tongue
darting inside them like lightning!) In the tall mouth composing
by drawing itself and erasing, a red come and go,
feminine in errand, tending to.
In the car was another movie
of showing what is always happening: you lay in the back
like a pebble streamed over; headlight strokes banded the ceiling,
in phrases—a sped white web leaving the city, a roaming
sometimes figure in the slower nearing home. Swish swish.
is filled always filled with moving.” You being the and in a series.
Home, you stepped under the galaxy, another white band speeding.
You & the bugs being rattles in it, a noise of shaken sand.


“Taxco’s Narrow, Cobblestoned ‘Arch’ Street”
early 1970s (5.5 X 3.3 vertical)

an arch permits heads
to reach. Demonstrates,
to a child, the scale
of essay. Under its shadow’s
stone, sparing hand
you pass and aspire, the length &
the height & remove of a lesson—your
lesson. To study will lead
to proofs and a thesis, to study sets you straight
and perplexed away: so do the swallows
that brood below the arch
stream out to craze a small zone of near air.
To the church from the arch, to
the hot, thin street

where my mother bends, ringed
by children. They hold out
their warm and strokeable arms looped
with necklaces. Our guide flashes
glasses and teeth. He’s a student,
he’s nicknamed my humanist father
Padre for priest, but the teasing
means something more. Now he lectures,
Do that to your own children,
and my mother pulls back a chastised hand.
I am her child, struck cold with
injustice; I know the seared hand
is gentle. But she understands
how her own child must serve as example.


“Street of the Arch and the Santa Prisca Church”
Taxco, Guerrero, early 1970s (5.5 X 3.3 vertical)

Now she stands opposite—
as if past the arch on that side
of the church, in the postcard’s
tea-colored sunlight. Try
as I can, my mother will
not turn. I feel the heat of her back,
passed to me through the arch shadow
like word about someone taken.
She was lucky: her father had walked
out from a Nazi jail. He would leave,
he would teach, they would follow. Now
by remembering her in this picture
of Guerrero, nearby the child
martyr’s church (that spectacular
cathedral, built over a silver mine),
I tug her back into dirty war.

The famous stone streets
pitch at her feet. She can see
they must run to the mountains,
guess at villages, picture
high views at the coast.
She does not see soldiers
cobwebbing the roads, taking the learners
and teachers of the poor, stuffing
them into the earth, into jail, into fires,
into plastic bags dropped from heights
to the sea. They say hardly anyone knew—
what everyone nowadays does,
that the ground of Guerrero is gagged
by corpses of students. She does
not see, but I think she suspects,
and her back turns to keep me
from knowing her fear.


Jenny Mueller is the author of State Park and Bonneville, both from Elixir Press, and an editor of Moonie, a posthumous ebook of poetry by Brian Young (Fence Digital). This summer, her essay “One Part of the Main” appeared in Another Chicago Magazine. She lives in St. Louis and teaches at McKendree University. The selections from her series “Postcards” published here include quotations from Gertrude Stein’s “Composition as Explanation” and from “Symbolic Collapse: Utopia Challenged by Its Representations” by Laurent Gervereau.