h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s

 

 

.........
SIMONE MUENCH & DEAN RADER



...........
THE FRANKENSTEIN SONNETS


Our mothers wrung hell and hardtack from row

aimed high, fell low. caught, capsized in molasses,
the sweet and sweat of the domestic tableau:
arthritic, contused, yet decked in battle dress

clipped and clocked and sent out to show. tell me,
o death, what do you know of work or war?
what do you know of bliss? dear soldier, we
are nothing but what we give. no life or

applause. our mothers wanted corsages,
got cadavers. wished for travel, got
battered. in lieu of voyage, only mirage

and misdirection. ask. would you have fought
so hard for you? torn through trench and triage
to wrap you in everything you are not—






...........



Here in the electric dusk your naked lover

high on jazz & gin, body slack as a victim
in a Victorian novel, reclines before
an open curtain where light plays narrator:

In the beginning was light. Let there be
the word. Let there be, there, at the very
beginning (pre-chapter, pre-verse) the first
of something, before hunger, before thirst.

A long time nameless, sitting in an animal’s
imprint—feverishly hot with indecent
plots, where hunger is its own geography.
Let there be new endings to old stories.

O to turn the pages of your body.
O to add this map to skin’s bright atlas.






...........



Scorn not the sonnet; Critic, you have frowned

at its music, damned it as a descent
into a rhyming trance, nothing more than
the dance of awkward animals, but

Critic, my mouth will go to you fourteen
different times in this poem alone.
You can peel back my commas, spread my lines,
enter any place you like. And know this:

In this language of drift & erotics, you can’t
redline the poem’s animus without a shift
in its voltage from splintered psalm to ferric rot.

So the psalm may rot, the brain burn, the music
drift. We are still here, critic, you, me, and
this sonnet. It’s the last line. What’s it mean?






...........



You will get your full measure.

After shadow voyage, an empty
house, coming snow—a displeasure
grows between the walls, slippery

as the turn between this life and the next.
What awaits you is neither whisper nor
bang. There is no answer, no sacred text
for you to decipher, merely a door

with a plaque announcing your departure.
Flowers line the porch lighting up the dusk
while a horse clicks its hooves in the pasture.
But no carriage awaits you, just a rusted

chain of starspur and the long black hook of your
own loss. Time to hoist up your saddle and ride.





.............

Here are the house, the sea, the flag.

Here are the plot, the eyes, the end. Welcome elegy,
here is your country, stuck on its own pole star,
& here we are: the last, the lost, the hanging tree.

What we have turned to dust rises once more
in the skin of itself. There is nothing
we have lost that we cannot reclaim nor
repeat. To the end we say watch me sing.

Watch me sing gnarled in the world’s slow rot.
Sing the dissenting bones, the feral nights,
the land’s arcadian strangeness, now distraught
by deficient crops, fruit bronzed with fire blight.

O blight O rot: who says we’re too far gone
to begin? Who says I won’t take you on?

 

 

 

On Collaboration: The Frankenstein Sonnets
Simone Muench & Dean Rader

We refer to our poems as "Frankenstein Sonnets" because we cut lines from other poet’s sonnets, then graft our own sonnets onto the originating skein of flesh. When we first decided that Frankenstein would be the umbrella concept for our sonnets—the suturing together of other’s flesh/words with our own—we addressed how much should be cannibalized and how much should be our own. We ended up being minimally cannibalistic, deciding only to swap lines from other people’s sonnets to employ as the first line (which also serves as the title).

 

 

BIOS: Simone Muench is the author of five poetry books including the forthcoming Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014).  She is a recipient of an NEA poetry fellowship, two VSC fellowships, a Yaddo residency, and the Black River Chapbook Award for Trace (BLP, 2014). She serves as faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review.

Dean Rader’s debut collection, Works & Days, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize. His recent book Landscape Portrait Figure Form was named by the Barnes & Noble Review as one of the best poetry books of 2013. His edited collection, 99 Poems for the 99 Percent: An Anthology of Poetrywas published in 2014. Recent poems from the Frankenstein Sonnet project with Simone Muench have appeared or will appear in Blackbird, Zyzzyva, New American Writing, and American Poetry Review. He is a professor at the University of San Francisco.





 

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