Wednesday, June 23, 2010

By Rebecca L. Morrison

“Careful, don’t drop me,”
the shelved girl sang.

Her aria wafted, dulcet –
a web spun sticky with fear.

He handled her heavy,
her ceramic skin the victim
of brambles for fingers.
A clerk had shelved her with

lensless spectacles,
trousers missing their button,
chipped china.

And as she awaited
the elderly antiquer sure to stumble
upon her, declare her a worthwhile
oddity, her Messiah came to her on high! –

dusted her smooth with
soft cloth,
polished her until she

sprang to relevé and
sang to him! – a chorus
triumphant with Alleluias.
He shelved her with

Mexican silver,
white Italian truffles, and
nestled her to sleep in a bed of
Japanese silk, and

weighed her slight frame,
heavy like gold.
Lehigh County
By Rebecca L. Morrison

I felt you taking off yesterday,
bitten by Northern winds.
Your lips visited my cheek
and I blushed, I held you closer.

I heard you taking off yesterday,
hundreds of feet away.
And the wires resounded with
beating hearts,
my lengthy questions.

I watched you taking off this morning,
'neath a blanket of slumbered eyes.
And your white chariot blazed its way to
better health,
raw hearts,
my girlish anticipation.

But as you took off,
I felt neither flight nor fancy:

only rivers of yearning
as they clung to my chin.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

By Rebecca L. Morrison

My thoughts are composed

of hummingbirds, like the

way my preset radio station

turns to static when I leave

the city limits. I still make

sense of it, but only just.

And I'd rather not, for I'm

prone to migraines, and I'd

rather not have that aura -

the one that warns me I'll

explode with drear and misery,

and those awful hallucinations I

had when I was young. But the

"chh-schh-chhh" drives me insane

enough to cling, to hope that

clarity might find me. I know I

should change the dial to

something local, but the feedback

lingers in my speakers a touch too

long. I'm indecisive; I won't switch

the station, because my favorite

song airs next and the only other

channel I know is NPR. Real.

Familiar. Too lonely. And before

I can suppress it,

I've got this tear

forming in the outer

corner of my left eye. I'm

too exhausted to fight it.

I could U-turn and find

my way back home,

but you see, I told myself

that you'd had your last

chance, because I'm tired of

blinking you away. And,

can't you see? I'm trying

to find a way to tell you

that I'm through with you,

for the static is imprecise

and deafening. The static

has torn my shell to shreds.

Sun Showers
By Rebecca L. Morrison

Skin-moistened, garden-scented,
a summertime deluge illuminated.


By Rebecca L. Morrison

This time, I've got a dark-skinned cabbie whose tangy inflections roll like the steel drums I heard in the Caribbean fourteen years ago. His cracked and callused hands beat the steering wheel as though he fancies himself the renowned conductor of an orchestra that creates crackling urban radio waves. Within, I call him Bob Marley, and he called me "pretty young mamasita" as I slid across the back seat.

My gaze does not restrict itself to the rising fare. I am free to roam the hell out of this golden pasture.

I was pampered with feminine finery last time in what he insultingly dubbed my "Pretty Woman moment" (I am no goddamned hooker), and tonight I am decked to the nines with my tits pushed high, guns blazing and feet smarting from a pair of thousand dollar pumps that apparently run a half-size small. I sat on the floor of my sweaty studio apartment and painted these features with nonchalance. I stagnate between a trampoline and a concrete ceiling, and only through desperation do I remain deflated.

I slip him two twenties; he can keep the change. My friends have noticed that I'm tipping like an aristocrat this week, and I have absolutely arrived, all two decades of me. I am floating in-between yesterday's midterm and tomorrow's early class; I suspend my realities with the grandiose.

"Maybe I'll brim my bathtub with diamonds tomorrow. Maybe I'll wake up, and everything I touch will mythically turn to gold." Help! I'm wallowing in optimism again. Even when positioned on the pedestal he reserves for perfection, he's still got a foot of height on me.

I'm entering the Taj Mahal of out-of-the-way chain hotels. You couldn't pay him to stay in the city. You see, here he can strap a kayak to his truck overnight, and in the morning he's only lost a modicum of decency. The door to suite 505 swings open; my feet part with the lowly carpeting, and I am Cleopatra. I am a koala. I have strawberry-kiwi kisses for sale. I smell of "flowers and citrus, with a hint of the ocean", he says, and my back brushes a high Egyptian thread count.

It is the loneliest of blisses, you know, to be young and female, naive and dynamic, to have those moonlit baby blues and Marilyn's proportionate curvature. As those nights without Jack wore on, she'd invent a new man, one whose chest warmed the contours of her back in slumber, a man who gave her lazy Sundays and breakfasts in bed.

I am a material asset, comparable to thousands of acres of farmland or a vintage Rolex. I am the painted china doll his mother kept well-preserved in a glass collector's case. He is ardent and keen, but he is cautious; he is in fact a paranoid schizophrenic. The maid knows his secret, and he folds me away in the corner when she knocks with his spare bath towels. The concierge, he is eager to blow his cover with a well-placed phone call, and "Jack" is double-oh-seven as he whisks me through an alternate exit.

The still and dew of the April night have dusted his truck, and it is as yellow as my cotton sundress. And, with a kiss and a sealed envelope, I traipse the stairs to my filthy little flat, where the toilet overflows daily and my showers last 8 minutes when the world is kind. He tells me he'll house me somewhere nicer come August, a place with a garbage disposal, thicker walls, WiFi and a closet. I am charity without the tax deduction.

To the wives who married for money only to let themselves go, daytime television warned you about me. I look better in your diamonds.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

For an alternate version, see this piece.

Humbert in Verse (A Love Letter)

By Rebecca L. Morrison

Oh, Dolores…

I’ve become illuminated

by the way your

silken stockings slouch

below the knee and past

mine eyes.

The textile gilding your

slight ankles

imparts a rather

tawdry name.

The books that

rinse your wits of me,

you covet them like

Christmas Day.

I knew you distinctly

once more, once more,

in Junes, Julys

and Augusts

of childhood,

of sand, sun

and greenest seas.

The sweets of your

saccharine lips

unwrap my conscious

and send me


Dolores, my name now

falls surrendered to my desires,

and my

limbs ache

for the nuanced seduction

in your lisp.

Again, I sin; once more, for you.

You demand little but the dewdrops,

craning a coltish neck

to meet my

weathered chest whilst you


with restless toes and

tea-saucers for eyes.

Once the playground

swings sense stillness,

my tongue climbs my teeth;

my mind unwinds

your ringlets.

You came with the seraphs,

the noblest seraphs,

whose wings were torn

by tangles of thorns.

(just a little something I wrote in class today)

First Memory

By Rebecca L. Morrison

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

He sways like a
sunbeam that grays at the temples,
silhouetted ever-gently by darks.

Click, and clack, and creak;
and like clockwork, she knows -
a certain separation from
doe and buck.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


By Rebecca L. Morrison

If I could carve my mind from

the skull like an avocado pit, slice it with

serrated cutlery

like crusty bread you'd dip in extra-virgin olive oil

and fresh, fragrant herbs,

employ a cutting board, some paper towels

and a thick Merriam-Webster

to sap the moisture

like I do with slabs of tofu,


cube it with wire or fishing line

and marinade it

in Mom's homemade basil pesto

'til it's mmm savory, tasty,

and feed it to a hungry industrial meat-grinder

by the pregnant handful,

and if Bobby Flay could

pat it to perfect patties

and lull it to sleep over lit mesquite,

then yes, I'd have a shining prize

to read aloud tonight.

Father's Day

By Rebecca L. Morrison

I. Oil Struck

In the 80s, America railed

too much blow

through big, big bills.

Big hair, big economy,

big was the way we saw

our impotent balls.

Generation X made fortunes

then sniffed them to residue.

I've got a bad back, or I'd

clean up the mess (the one

Regan couldn't).

In the 80s, I cut lines of ink and paper.

Turned it all over, got rich quick. Lost

my first child, lost my religion.

II. Emerald Struck

With wife number three, I got it

right. Skinny baby's legs went on

for miles. Could've poured her skin

over cereal. Hundred percent sex

in a tight black dress,

smoldering Marlboro Reds,

ring finger shining like envy.

Her best friend Ana craved

a threesome, but I force-fed

skinny baby buttery stir-fries,

oily shrimp scampi, cheddar

cheese, oozing and sharp, until,

one day, she lost her self-esteem.

The wind doesn't scare us these days.

Baby got fat, and Ana don't

come around no more.

III. Striking A Balance

The wall tumbled down in October;

I met a red-head that December.

Five pounds, eight ounces.

Tiny little cherub

with a set of raspy lungs

screaming cry, cry baby,

honey, welcome back home.

I walked the floors every night,

hydrated her roots, gave her room

to grow. Now, she's wilting,

and my hair ran off,

and fat baby won't

show me her teeth no more.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Killing Cowboys

By Rebecca L. Morrison

I'm reduced to skeletons,

defined by the tyranny of

my mother's eyes.

With a flame cindered 'neath

my lips, I'm found amongst

cacti and ruins.

I'm fated to die a dewy fawn:

penniless and spindly,

with breath like humid Julys.

I'm justified to burden

this broken body

limb to limb,

lung to lung.

Evading the kind eyes

that warm my bed,

that rial my head

whilst I shiver

alone, alone.

I'm known to inspire

alone, alone

in the sand and canyons

that bury us whole.

He's So Heavy

By Rebecca L. Morrison

I am mapped red-hot

in Tanzania,

in Sicily.

I hibernate

in the Hawaiian tropics.

The sludge I spew turns

to smoke,

to opium,

to pure Afghani heroin,

and it trills by the

squalid droplet to

brim my bathroom sink.

Crazed, I limp

with each blushing sun,

across the savage tile to

chase his majesty’s gremlins

from the crevices of my

girlish dimples, my

listless lids.

He swore they’d

never know his teeth,

yet they’re familiar

with his inbred gums.

Mine bleed with gingivitis.

And we joust,

and we self-medicate,

and we ape the adults we’ve seen

propped against podiums,

the twenty-somethings we’ve seen

with pupils dilated.

He warbled a tinny calypso,

looted me from the flotsam,

overturned the sunken ship,

splintered my ribs. Under rocks

and reefs, we retrieved his

golden timepiece, his heirloom

from the ocean’s floor.

He swore he’d seen the sea,

but time is for tadpoles and

our parents’ friends. We wish it

upon our worst enemies, then

cringe at their naked wrists.

I am naked when the water turns briny, and

I am bare when you kick off your sneakers,

and the flickering of a candle

and the realization that the wind

has compromised it before we could

fish the methadone from our pockets.