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Cameron Morse

Posted in Cameron Morse with tags on June 16, 2022 by Scot


Eight Years Five Planets

Even after eight years, I still forget
to breathe before reading my
brain scans, I still have to sit down
while being told the results. My
stomach does somersaults. I can never
remember the difference between
FLAIR and enhancement. Walking
barefoot under streetlights, I am
looking for the chaplet
of five planets 30 minutes before sunrise.
Rubbing sleep from my eyes, I don’t know why.
I should have put on my shoes. The chapel
collapses on a roomful of congregants. Polaris
looks lonely. My sister asks my opinion
on baby names in a text message.



Hour When

Brush off the spider webs
of the first thing in the morning.
Wipe out the webs
in my beard. This is the hour
when the dead begin to live again.
Thunderheads hang above
the orchard, a huddle of silent mourners.
I beg for the breath back
in my chest, my knocked out wind,
with no one out here
but the rabbit to field my request
with its long ears cocked; the crybaby
cricket strumming the fine-toothed
comb of its hindquarters.


Tornado Siren

The siren chases us down the stairs
I’m far more likely to die
falling down than ascending
the spinning spiral case
of storm clouds called a tornado
God may have lowered
with me in mind, should I
have stayed in bed: He’ll never get at me
down here on a bottomed-out sofa
in the cock-roached basement.
All I’ve ever wanted is to be torn
from bed at midnight and transported.






Cameron Morse

Posted in Cameron Morse with tags on July 15, 2021 by Scot

Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review, a poetry editor at Harbor Editions, and the author of six collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Far Other (Woodley Press, 2020). He holds and MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and two children.

The Hill

My house holds a place
on a hill. To my right,
terraces retain the earth.
Blocks interlock
above the lower alleyways.
To my left, the hill
slopes gently to the chain
links below. Between
these extremes, I wrangle
a push mower. Along
my left half I carve vertical
lines, letting gravity
pull my sputtering green
engine toward the hedgerow
where I swivel and drag
the handle behind me.
Along the right I go
horizontal. Nearest the gnarly
roots of the old maple,
where the chopper wants most
to tumble in my arms, I leave
the tall grass to heighten.


Smiley Faces

I drown myself
in the smiley faces
of rain, the grainy
newsfeed of rain-
stirred maple leaves
motioning to me
feebly in the dark air.
My children compete
with themselves for
my attention, and with
so much else besides.
Lili complains I am
absent, I am elsewhere.
I read about Tzu-ch’i
leaning on his armrest
staring up at the sky, as
I do, and breathing:
downhill the hedgerow
absorbs daylight
in darkness. Alone in
my own house, I nurse
two bites taken down
to the red meat of my
left foot: I am hurt.
My brother asks to mow
in my stead. But for
this rain, I say yes. Re-
turn to what’s at hand:
range of motion exercises
for the bum left hand.
Tzu-ch’i claims to have
lost himself. Lili complains
I have myself lost
in this plaintive rain, drives
the kids to their playdate.


The Fountain

iPhone-lit palm of a hand
draped over Lili’s
head, very orangutan,
as my semen seeps
inside her elevated lower half.
It’s the fourth and we’re trying
again, determined. Baby
number three. As if we weren’t
already exhausted, maxed out,
to the max. Sex is hard
work, manual labor. When you’re
dead-set, you’re deadest.
Our extant children are sleeping
during the drum solo. We stay up
late to make sure they’re asleep
and Theo doesn’t walk in
in medias res murmuring he’s afraid
there’s something with him
in his canopy of blankets, something
snakelike, insidious. Outside,
41st Street is on fire. A fountain
of sparks in the shape of a man
strides toward me standing naked
in the window corner dripping
and wilted and utterly spent. A red
starfish explodes above the black oak,
not loud enough to wake the kids.


A Light Existence

Writing let me right myself.
Admit you are right:
Writing poetry should be a light
existence. Light is right,
even this cloud light beats
darkness, this lighthouse light.
The plumber leaves a dark
stain around the floor drain, an ink
blot of unrefined oil. He clears
the blockage only as far as
his augur is able. Cold clouds
from the west add a layer
of darkness. I change shirts.
How far down to earth
must I be before I drown
in sludge? Plumb the pipe
and you will dredge,
you will regurgitate
your breakfast. The tooth
breaks. Empty your tool bag.



I hobble into the restroom: McCoy Park,
the loose straps of a sandal flopped
around a swabbed foot, beefily
gauzed, swaddled brown with co-bind,
and there’s this boy seated upon
the stainless steel urinal. His cherubic penis
confronts me. There is no shame.
“Can I get in here?” I ask, awkward
with the knowledge of the way this looks:
I am a stranger, strange and getting
stranger, even to myself. Warts,
I learn from my podiatrist, are a virus
that spreads under the skin. Never knew
I had them. It took five applications
of acid before Mrs. Gonzalez offered
to incise me, unfolding a blue bundle
of swabs, knives I didn’t have the guts
to peek at, fixing my eyes on the porous
ceiling panels, imagining myself miniaturized,
curling up inside a squiggly pore. My bandage
bled through, smudging floor planks, so I
crawled to the bathroom and knelt to pee, lifting
my penis just above the rim. Felt like
my son Theo, who stands on a stool now.
In the public restroom, my other boy hops
to his feet. I say, “Excuse me,” and angle
my body away, clearing myself
as much for myself as for anyone else.

Three Poems by Cameron Morse

Posted in Cameron Morse on November 17, 2019 by Scot

The Problem

The problem with me is I have no imagination.

If the world wants to be a box bush,
I let it be a box

I know only a handful of birds and one of them is
tilting like the Road Runner
across the cul-de-sac.

The American Robin is the only kind of Robin
I know the name of.

Tell me something. Why are you writing about birds?

If the world wants to be cold wind in the grass,
I zip up the collar of my Columbia.

Let it rattle oak leaves in the blown-out rosebush.

The problem is I have no one else
to love but you and I’ve been loving you
like the devil since the day I was born.


Déjà Vu

Winter already cold in the bones, the struts
and the sheetrock. With the boy
in my arms I step down, the doorway
open and the yellow stocking cap
on the walnut roll-top. I don’t need to be convinced.

I have already lived this, already eased
his warm body into my right hand and reached
with my palsied left. On the day after
my first seizure, rain wriggled on the windshield.
The road lassoed and fell into the mist below.

Our headlights showed us to the gift shop
above Pikes Peak. We were on vacation
the day of my first seizure and it took a whole day
for us to realize the vacation was over.
It was time to take me home.


Cheating On My Diet

You tell me you’re going to look
for a support group for widows
because I’m cheating on my diet.
I don’t care about my life.
I leave oil in the pan, on the plate,
and I need oil to slick my blood,
to starve my cancer cells. I need
olive oil and coconut to cross
the blood-brain barrier and barter
for my life. Chimney smoke in brisk
evening air. Aviary birdsong in the treetops.
Turtle doves roost in dimming branches,
and crows sift through the shattered glass
of sunset. The idea of dying terrifies me.
The idea of going where you cannot.
So fill my cup, film my lips. I’ll sicken,
I’ll puke, anything, anything ….



Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Terminal Destination (Spartan Press, 2019).