Friday, December 17, 2010


By Rebecca L. Morrison


to song after song

about California and those girls

with love in their eyes. So many

songs about California

and its vibrations,

and my vibrations

were gilded and resonant

amid the redwooded treetops

you gave me when

you swore me the world

from the edge of the Bay,

fluid oaths drifting like debris

in Southeastern tides. I dove

into the Pacific at sundown -

blue eyes, red eyes,

rusting on a spare shelf.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

By Rebecca L. Morrison

I emitted those glimmering words
cloaked with volcanic desperation.

They fell;
they settled.

These walls spanned a mile;
I grieved on Egyptian cotton.

I tied you to my feet and sank to the depths of the Nile.
The crocodiles offered their famous smiles,

and the drought swept through,
leaving us with cottoned tongues.

I satiated their home with what dripped
from my lashes. And as they basked,

you were thirsty,
and I filled your cup.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Blowing Out the Candles
by Rebecca L. Morrison

My fingers knead the soft ivory pastry bag -
silver-tipped like the silver tongue I used
to convince him I could bake to begin with -
as I struggle to gather the last dollops of icing.

Swoop, swoop…
his name flies from my fingertips in wavering script.
And the cloying decadence ribbons
across this red velvet cake
I’ve baked for his twenty-ninth birthday.

But I run dry as I’m piping
the last letter of his first name,
and I discern, belated, that I never
had the right amount of frosting…
in the first place, not enough to ice his cake.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Pond
By Rebecca L. Morrison

July found us

disguised as

rounded ripples

conjured by our invertebrate toes.

Third grade thighs

sizzled on a griddle

of sun-baked flagstone.

Our limp ponytails slid

down sweaty spines

as our eyes, all blue,

searched the sky for

the insatiable thunder of engines.

My hand on hers,

our swimsuits soggy,

and her twin sisters

braid their corn silk

hair. And the icy pond

is all that shields me

from assuming we

four friends are

caught in an infinite loop of good spirits.

But the toll of the dinnertime bell

is the nearest ending I've written,

short-sighted. We scamper to the

screened-in porch at sundown,

a ritual feast of burnt hot-dogs and Breyer's ice cream.

July has found me, and

I've forgotten her

twenty-second birthday,

and the twins smoke

cigarettes now, proud

of the wisping rings

they conjure through

rounded lips, pushed past by their invertebrate tongues.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Something Borrowed
By Rebecca L. Morrison

I befriend sounds and echoes;

ease them at my side in slumber until

they rest their crowns in the

bend where shoulder links neck

and murmur to me in

shifting states of wakefulness

the names of friends they’ve known since

childhood, the names of strangers

that consume them from afar.

I draw Cupid’s bow, right eye winking.

And I dance at weddings,

jovial as they titter,

obsessed after too many

flutes of champagne.

Yet these friends are harbored instincts,

native. I dismiss them until they’ve leaked,

bathing my leaf with their viscous, milky

stench until they’ve flooded my flaring nostrils,

swamping the expanse behind my eyes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Planetarium
By Rebecca L. Morrison

His feet were planted like stumps, toes like roots. He tilted his head at 45 degrees and cast his eyes skywards, widening them with amazement.

“Huh,” he quietly muttered to himself, the sound nearly contained in his throat. “Would you look at that!” His eyes lit up with what danced above him.

As the foot traffic surrounding the Times Square metro stop hustled and bustled about him, he thought of his saltwater aquarium at home and the starfish that nestled itself atop turquoise and banana-hued gravel while the angelfish, the clownfish, the eels and assorted tangs busied themselves around it, ignorant of the free world existing a only touch above the tank’s fluid surface. The exotic fish, narrow-minded, only kissed the sky to gorge on crumbling flakes.

He stared on, incredulous. The scent of juicy bratwursts wafting from a vendor’s kiosk did little to distract our friend’s senses, though his morning Columbian roast had been the last thing to pass his lips. Rotting refuse and sticky asphalt delicately curled through the city air, meeting the appetizing aroma to create a fragrance that, if bottled and branded, Calvin Klein might market.

He’d picked an ill-advised time – an exceptionally imprudent location – to notice the celestial phenomenon. As Manhattanites, those commuting from other boroughs and tourists alike expected a seamless transition from the above to the underground, his stagnancy startled them – incensed them! – as their eyes lifted from the screens of their mobile phones a split-second too late each time.

Five minutes passed, but he didn’t feel it.

Ten minutes, and he would’ve guessed that he was the victim of a clock wound backwards.

Fifteen minutes, and his concentration was threatened – but not compromised – by a dark-haired man in a darker suit with his dark eyes glued to the screen of his BlackBerry. Their shoulders collided, a ship and an iceberg, and the man’s phone fell to the pavement in pieces.

“’Ey, watch it!” he cried out, arms flung akimbo above his head in distress. “Who the hell stands right outside of the busiest metro stop in the entire city and doesn’t expect to be knocked flat on his ass? I mean, really…walk much?!”

Our friend’s gaze stayed steady. “Not today, sir. Not right now.”

“If this piece of shit broke again, this time it’s your fault, buddy, and you’ll be out $500.” The man deftly laid his briefcase – Italian leather, a keepsake from his ex-wife’s trip to Florence – by his feet and knelt, running his thumb across the phone’s wide screen. After sliding the phone’s battery back in its rightful place, he noticed that our friend hadn’t budged.

“Hey, buddy...” he began unsteadily. “Whatcha lookin’ at up there?” He smoothed back his greased hair with thick, ringed fingers, attempting to engage the stranger in some form of eye contact, although as a native New Yorker he wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. “You see a Goodyear blimp or something?”

Our friend’s hands found his pockets as he chuckled, although his stare never broke. “Now, why would you ask me a question like that when clearly you could look up and see for yourself?” His eyes followed the celestial life that dotted the sky above him.

The man sharply picked up his briefcase and, shaking his head, cleared his throat. “Listen, wiseass,” he extended a quaking pointer finger. “Why don’t you cut the bullshit and tell me why you’ve decided to redirect lunchtime traffic over here, all by yourself? You not from around here or something?”

“Been here a few times before.” Normally, the man would have unsettled him, and our friend might have flown off the handle, but today the action in the sky relaxed his nerves and enticed his mind.

The man took a step closer. “People are tryin’ to walk here; you’re gonna get yourself plowed the hell over. It’s noon in Times Square, and you’re parked right outside the damn metro entrance for crying out loud…!” The man noticed our friend’s casual dress – his faded denim, remnant from his collegiate days, his simple white tee, unadorned but creaseless – and, contrasted with his own business attire, dismissed him.

The man’s phone buzzed against his thigh, and he quickly brought it to his ear; his brow immediately furrowed. “No, I don’t have a hold on the account,” he shouted into the mouthpiece. “You’re gonna have to get off your bony ass and call over there yourself; I’m taking lunch right now, Gabrielle! And while you’re at it, find me a new secretary! Oh excuse me, assistant...I didn't know you grad students were so damned particular these days!”

“Enjoy your sandwich,” our friend mumbled, although the man had already disappeared below, leaving the foil and paper wrapper from which his roast beef on rye had emerged dripping with grease on the ground.

Five minutes passed, but he didn’t feel it.

Ten minutes, and he would’ve guessed that he was the victim of a clock wound backwards.

Fifteen minutes, and he felt a brusque tap on his right shoulder.

“Hey, sorry to bother you,” she began half-heartedly, fiddling with the cellophane that coated her pack of cigarettes. “Just wondering if you’ve got a light…?” She took a step closer, and her expensive pumps met their fate.

“Fuck!” she exclaimed, fishing a bottle of hand sanitizer and a napkin from her designer tote-bag. “Fuck, fuck, fuck! What kind of jerk-off leaves his nasty food wrapper on the ground like this? How am I supposed to notice that?” She dabbed at the toe of her shoe. “Do you know how fucking much I paid for these, huh?”

“Probably too much.”

Her slender, manicured fist balled the napkin in frustration, visions of wasted dollar signs still dancing in her head. “Okay dude, you know what? Why don’t you just light me? You got a Bic?”

Despite her icy blue doe-eyes and the pale sheet of shining hair poured down her back, our friend remained focused above. “Not on me, no. Sorry, ma’m,” he answered calmly, the words scarcely traveling past his teeth.

She shifted her weight from right stiletto to left, her sinewy, coltish limbs and Nordic features garnering the gawk of the bum panhandling several feet away. “Sorry, what? You’re gonna have to speak up.”

He cleared his throat. “No lighter. Sorry,” but his lips moved silently as a harried police siren wailed past.

She cast her heavily made-up eyes downwards and ruefully shook her head, her dangling diamond earrings catching the midday sun. “Look, dude,” she stated wryly. “I’ve got ten minutes to catch the line and get all the fucking way over to West Village in these shoes to turn in my portfolio. I am in desperate need of nicotine. Either light me, or don’t, but I haven’t had a drag since eight o’clock this morning; so really, you don’t wanna fuck with me right now.”

Our friend sighed, “No lighter,” still fixated up above.

The girl sneered, her lacquered lip turning up as her sloped nose crinkled in disgust. “Okay dude, what the fuck ever. Thanks for wasting my time.” She dismissed him with a flip of her hair to search for the nearest smoker before curiosity slaughtered her inner feline. She twisted her torso in our friend’s direction, fleetingly forgetting about her fashion marketing project due in eight minutes. And, in the moment, she stopped to study him – an artist and her muse.

“Mind telling me what’s got you so fascinated?”

“Nothing you couldn’t see on your own, I'd imagine.”

“Seriously dude, I told you not to fuck with me. What’s your deal?”

With his lack of response, she lobbed the balled-up napkin that had de-oiled her Prada shoes in his direction. “Typical New York ass-wipe.” It bounced off his chest like a basketball off a headboard and landed delicately at his feet.

“I’m from Rhode Island,” he clarified, but the New York purgatory had already swallowed her.

Five minutes passed, but he didn’t feel it.

Ten minutes, and he would’ve guessed that he was the victim of a clock wound backwards.

Fifteen minutes, and a fanny-packed family scurried by him.

The mother, belly slumped over her black spandex shorts, waved a procession of five children like ducklings through the crowd.

“Jesus Christ, y’all, get your eyes off your GameBoys and watch where you’re going!” she snatched the devices away from each child and stored them in her pack. “If we’re late for The Lion King and one of those guys with the flashlights has to show us to our seats in the middle of everything, I am going to scream, and so help me god, I will make sure we are on the first plane back to Little Rock tomorrow, I swear to y’all.”

The boy in blue burst into fresh tears at the loss of his distraction. His bedraggled father scooped him up as the family briskly navigated their way to the 42nd street station.

In their urgency and disorder, the family failed to notice they were minus-one, and the smallest sibling – a waif of a girl with a silky yellow ribbon tied atop her head – stopped next to our friend, tugging at the bottom his of white t-shirt.

“Hey, mister,” she lisped. “Didya know you’re the only person standing still in this whole Times Square?”

Our friend smiled, his stare unaffected. “Oh, am I?”

“Yes, sir, yes, you really are. My mom’s moving too fast; I can’t keep up.” She whipped her head left to right, and center again – nervous. “Can I stay here with you and watch the sky?”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. You belong with your family.”

But the girl remained at his side, fist still grasping the hem of his shirt.

And, mimicking her newfound friend, she looked up. “Yeah, I tried to get my brother to see, but he was too busy with his racing game.”

“Most people are.”

“Are the stars always out during the day in New York City?”

He looked down at the girl, meeting her inquisitive green eyes with his. “No, I don’t think so. I think it’s just today, and I think it’s just Times Square.” Our friend shoved his hands in his pockets and returned his eyes to the hundreds of angels dancing amongst the daytime constellations. “What do you know about stars?”

She shrugged. “Oh, a lot, I know a lot! I got a telescope for my birthday, and I can see Orion’s Belt, and the Dippers, and sometimes Virgo, because that one is my birthday…”

“You mean to say you’re a Virgo?”

She grinned toothless and nodded. “That’s what I read in my book about stars.”

“Fancy that; I’m a Virgo, too. Do you see it?”

“I think so.”

“Me too. And you’d think someone else would notice all of this, right?”

She assiduously nodded, her yellow ribbon bouncing. “Oh yes, sir, yes!” She swiveled her head about to take in the scene around her:

A boy with a skewed Yankees cap littering a candy-bar wrapper.

A Japanese group touring the landmark on Segways.

A young couple squabbling as they raced to hail their cab, Starbucks in hand.

And the girl’s gaze returned to the heavens. “Hey, mister?”


“I changed my mind.”


“I’m not surprised that we’re the only ones.”

“Me too.”

“Hey, mister?”


She sighed, her slight shoulders slumping with the weight of what surrounded her. “They’d all forget their problems if they’d just stand beside me and look up.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

First Memory
By Rebecca L. Morrison

A starchild, jailed, and forth has she
risen, alert, on the legs of a
groggy fawn, and confident, too.

Click, and clack, and creak; and like
clockwork, she knows – a certain separation from
doe and buck. And she remains lonely

in apocalyptic times, but she imagined the oil floating
separate from the water, and she is
well-oiled. She hits the bottom
of the glass and finds herself
as her parents
graze above her.
(found this scrawled in an old notebook of mine)

The Farm
By Rebecca L. Morrison

Clattering truck tires,
unhinged idiosyncrasies - an upheaval,
electrified and tangled, a mass
of nerves and turns of the stomach.

A paper-bag breeze disturbs what
warmed my scalp;
I am the rattlesnake,
diamond slits for eyes, and I am coiled
in your daughter's lunch-sack.

Axed, halved,
destroyer of dogwood blooms.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Anna Lee
By Rebecca L. Morrison

She lingers; a peroxide nest
contented atop slender shoulders,

fizzling heavy ‘gainst humid skies.

She titters, applauds; she
sighs; she sings. Sugar and sky

coat her throat when she
rises beneath snowy

Teeth crunch, alarms sound,
fingers clack with languid wile. Yet, she

listens, softly sleeping when
windows breeze.
By Rebecca L. Morrison

My ink
plaster this page:
"Oh, no. We refuse!"
…Sweet Apollo, swing low;

I refuse,
in Plath-esque stubbornness,
to fling open
glacial arms
and brush earnest rays with prosaic
fingertips. Tell me I'm

aching, I'll not stay afloat.
Merciless me, I shall not
live in vain!
And in

lines run from my mouth like
steam from Maytags...
so I'll

settle with hopes
taken to sprint –
sullied by stars,
far missed by the moon.

Shingled Roof Serenade

By Rebecca L. Morrison

I recall, oh, we saw our first snow –
our boots spattered with molten alloy,
and my metallic breath spun to smoke.

These notes drifted from underground,

settling your feet in a pristine mound, but I’m
vindictive. I've failed us each time.

She beckons from atop a Baby
Grand. She cradled you in a sea
of blue, set your pontoon afloat,
shaped you a home on a sparkling boat.
In your eyes, she saw reflected
a sunset view.

I've laced her shoes before;
I’ll don her dress and sing once more.
My eyes were gray before your gold
spun my ear. You cradle polished
oak from the lowest summits, and plummet,
I refuse. No, I much
prefer this Technicolor view.

You wove a sonnet from
chaste, golden locks. You tapped

the needle to the record
from atop a sunset hill.
And I know this lyric, for strange splendor
has never beguiled your chords.

Your callused finger-pads stroke each fret;

your eyes widen to a Technicolor view.

Once, you breathed in my fourteen-karat ear
each day and dusk you’ve grown to fear,
but I’ll only earn bronze this year, won’t I?

It’s not a film I’ll rewind each night.

We won’t evaporate, shy of light.

It’s a wide-screen,
three-sixty view.
I’ll save it for you.

Adultery In the Lincoln Room (Ode to Jacqueline Lee)

By Rebecca L. Morrison

Millions are listening to the radio.

He addresses the podium, his fist a gavel.

Pressure is a gun of legacy to

sullen, sodden, nuclear heads.

Jewelry only suits these sophisticates.

The waters are choppy, I’ve nothing to hide.

That aside, we’re paint and canvas –

stunning success created on concrete.

I am a real heart-breaker,

not a glossy paper-doll in a ladies’ magazine.

I’ll bear this bedazzled crown on the lawn,

velveteen rumors bound to my shoes.

I stand hushed in tweed Chanel,

thousands of francs never spent well.

They love him; he tells them what they can do for their country.

I might have passed a night in Versailles

some three-hundred years long past,

but the district, it holds me tonight.

Insincerity's Sonnet
By Rebecca L. Morrison

Far past azure currents, they tumble,
Peasants amongst deserted masts.
Reeled from lithe limbs and shrunken sins,
She stays sunk by the din of curious land.
Most pleasant paths render her hazy,
Begun by peeled citrus, obscured in thick sand.
Laziest waters turbid with her sorrow
Play host to quick demons undone by her hand.
Oysters and treasure both bend ‘round her collar,
Licked by the waves that strive to find home.
Glimmering ropes tighten and tug her towards coral;
Fury leaves her broken-down by the shore.
Ocean-eyes dry with the sun when gulls wake her,
But they tumble around her as if she were air.
On Resilience
By Rebecca L. Morrison

They soar in packs; they
tumble through slate skies; they know
secrets that seep through the
soles of your feet.

We groan like air-crafts
plunged from ten thousand feet to
find our faith obscured beneath the sand.
We're waiting for misery's cry. We bask in
orcan oil; we're ravaged by
rogues taking wing from the reef.

We limp away from this rubble like
iron soldiers, fighting their lightning,
wary of glacial depths. We'll
echo the wreckage and aerial ruin until a

pod finds us squinting as they're
winging far West.