Cameron Morse taught and studied in China. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2014, he is currently a third-year MFA candidate at UMKC and lives with his wife, Lili, in Blue Springs, Missouri. His poems have been or will be published in over 50 different magazines, including New Letters, pamplemousse, Fourth & Sycamore and TYPO. His first collection, Fall Risk, is forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press.
Visiting Pastor McClendon
The hospital gown and blanket slide
into his crotch. His mummified left foot,
despite two or three amputated toes,
seems to leave no room for us
in his partition. Ain’t gonna worry bout it,
he says, eyelids drooping over the heavy
syllables. Bubbles rise in the tube
of the vacuum pump, rise from the shrink-wrapped
stump of his amputated leg, and climb the rail
behind his headrest. Just leave it all in the Lord’s
hands. Silence grows into light years
between his syllables. Bubbles rise over his shoulder
from the yellow catheter taped to his clavicle,
draining. We do what we can, he says,
and I agree, running out of things to say.
I still feel like I’m about to bump into his leg.
Rising a hair’s breadth
by March, the gently arcing
line of her stomach cuts
the corners of an expanding
hexagon. June rounds
the corners into a sphere,
a circle, the symbol bellying
within her womb, obfuscating
the stark reality of blood
vessels splotching red her itchy
opening like fissures and blue
veins branching like lightning
before the storm.
After morning rain, starlings
comb through the grass. Cobwebs
gleam like ligaments
of moonlight between the cast iron
bars of my storm door.
This is where I enter, a character
in my own life. Like the robin,
I am never far from myself. When she
removes herself from her nestlings,
perches atop the chain links
and cheeps, she is there with them,
and they hear it, gathering
within themselves the courage
to answer, to climb out of bed and see
what happens next.
The Scavenger Hunt
On a barstool at the Student Union
in the big window glass of my own reflection,
I am biopsy-incised, indented,
my palsied hand involuted in my lap as if cradling
genitals in public.
I am ten years older than the freshmen
forming teams behind me,
wild teams of testes and ovaries
jostled together for the game into one
Forked morsels of my ketogenic pancake
crumble across the countertop.
If I’d been diagnosed before we married,
you would have been happy.