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Tag: Michael Morse

(The Outskirts of Agnes)

 

That we sag with many weights

and buoy ourselves with the word—

although the word fails its captain

 

many a time and to/for no avail—

we of the lesser rank do toil:

take a town like Agnes

 

with its fine people and subpar soil,

its metal gate and burnt red brick

with a clutch of blue-gray lichen spin.

 

All night a mayor’s words echoed in my head

and wanting this language myself

and others much like me

 

found the outskirts of Agnes

and I swear our clapping came like rain.

There were stairs past heavy doors

 

on shrill hinges and finally a window

looking out over a town,

still Agnes, perhaps, all but lights

 

now and our eyes tracking out to lights’ end

where water lays a black tarp—

where captains look east and want,

 

out of the blue, their little red-red.

from Void and CompensationFind more by Michael Morse at the library

Copyright © 2015 Michael Morse
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.

(Upanishads)

 

I trust initial states, my mental Delaware:

as parting snows will downy up the dirt beds,

impatient daffodils debut their taxi silks.

One imagines a garden of dormant lilacs,

dried rattle bags of Columbine, spring ready.

 

All this among the winter head games—

an old man in his Pisan compound, worse,

in his own head—a diplomatic endgame,

Muoio perché non posso morire.

 

I put the book down and think of blooming,

move my city of nine gates much closer to the window—

the god cannot burn straw before the godhead,

nor can it blow away the selfsame hay—

I think of prayer as a winterspring caesura

and faithfully make hymns for flowerheads

apocryphal beneath the fallen snow.

from Void and CompensationFind more by Michael Morse at the library

Copyright © 2015 Michael Morse
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.

(Beautiful View)

 

This here is a town of widows who remain

for some sort of minimal husbandry—

alone, they find themselves again, right here

in the places that their children have left,

riding the warm words of their ministers

like bakery air right out of the clerestory.

They love the recycling truck, its hi-hat vent

making of exhaust more rhythm than blues,

its bones of glass and orphan lids that sing

consumptive songs at every turn and stop.

The industry that they thought broken down

earns fresh red coats of paint and landmark status.

From glass belvederes atop their second houses

they watch the game of nine-lives on the village green

between tourists and locals with sticks and nets.

The attackmen attack. The defenders defend.

Midfielders mediate. It’s all so simple in theory.

from Void and CompensationFind more by Michael Morse at the library

Copyright © 2015 Michael Morse
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.

(Stephon Marbury)

 

Ideal: to drive the lane and look for dishes,

to see the open man, give him his bucket.

 

The one-on-one for which we are now counseled

blueprints a perfect symmetry that’s hard to hold.

 

Like my friend who dreams of his ex

and wakes to find a moonlit lawn of deer.

 

In our nightly houses

the dolls insist that we are faithful to ourselves.

 

When I wake up in a bad mood,

I wonder why my point ignores my shooting guard.

 

This realm of giving, this realm of reciprocity:

I need a Mr. Make-It-Happen,

 

a deus ex machina, an all-star

down among us who deigns to fix our gears.

 

Until then, these reuptake inhibitors are splendid,

as when I find myself a deer on some strange lawn,

 

my garden-party head a promiscuity of maps

with toll-free grassy lanes and cul-de-sacs.

from Void and CompensationFind more by Michael Morse at the library

Copyright © 2015 Michael Morse
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.

(Second in Command)

 

Consider the plight of subordinates, say, Reno,

which drags a bit behind Vegas, or Custer’s Rosebud-

crossing Reno, Lakota whipped and glory broke, a xeno-

phobe whose kingdom come was Sioux and Cheyenne flood.

 

He’s called a Queeg for having headed south

and leaving his General with troubles that converge

when reckless captains overcalculate their worth.

They’d rather have lamenting tabloids sing a dirge

 

on their behalf, so here’s a little snack for you, scout:

don’t let arrogance drive you up on bridge or bluff;

take a little time to sum up and make out

which routes pass for fortitude and those too tough

 

given the geometries we plot from positions

on high—fame’s runners-up sometimes are sages

provided they meet what they’ve met with contrition,

if only to cut and cash the future’s forgetful wages.

from Void and CompensationFind more by Michael Morse at the library

Copyright © 2015 Michael Morse
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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