Saturday 25 February 2023

Five Poems by Michael Neal Morris


slow waking


after an hour of piddling

a cup and a half of black

coffee and a full album

of warm atmospheres

the neck relaxes

the spinal fire cools

to a portable ember

the holy pages are blurry

at first

even with clean new glasses

but enfocus into sharp letters

as caffeine and whole notes meld

like a potion apothecary-fresh

the meds taken on time

follow the corporal path

the well-meaning chemists

say it will travel

in its unfantastic voyage

through the aged

technicolour dullness


as the wooden burning

threatens my mind’s forest

i realize i am clawing



Finally, August has something to show for its creeping work in front of my house: I’m afraid to open the blinds.

The kids fight. The cats fuck each other and shit everywhere. The dog sleeps under the desk. Wife watches her soap before taking a nap. And I sit here waiting for miracles I don’t know how to work for.

The grass grows, out of hand in some patches, despite the sun. Perhaps the rain has something to show for itself too. Perhaps the birds have not eaten all the seeds planted here.




Lately, I have had Ivan Ilytch on my mind

or more specifically the sack

he found himself fighting in

barely cognizant that he still had breath

believing with brute strength there is a rightness

and a wrongness about death

and that being correct he could reason himself

through the opening.

Finally the epiphany:

while his family semi-watched his writhing descent

screams piercing, bleeding the ears

he found mercy

and urged his tormentor to forgive

him who seemed to say “forego.”

Brother, I know what got you here.

Some too easily call your wounds self-inflicted.

But I also saw you kiss that nurse.

I know you have given your crazy roommate

some of your clothes and cookies.

Robbed of language I know you are praying for mom

and probably your dog (theology be damned).

I also know you are scared and angry and frustrated.

Still, your charity outdoes the saints

and leaves us staring into an empty bag.


After Frost


Trees are no companions in winter

as hearted things -- like you and I--

must keep moving -- continue the flow

of blood in the veins of things

avoid the stagnation of thought

or reflection.


wisdom falls like snow

on frozen branches

where blue-jays and cardinals

build nests and listen.



The sky looked like a range of mountains.

The porch colder than expected,

there was no time to be transported.

Empty chambers here.

The black cat goes in and out

of each mourning.

I leave my socks on and take

my congested chest and uncheer

on a journey to the coffee maker,

unconsciously bow.

Michael Neal Morris’ most recent books are Based on Imaginary Events (Faerie Treehouse Press) and The Way of Weakness. He has published several stories, poems, and essays in print and online He lives with his family just outside the Dallas area, and teaches Composition and Creative Writing at Dallas College’s Eastfield campus.

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