Geometry

The simple trajectory of an arrow,
If only life could be lived
With such a blessed geometry of purpose–
Shot from past
through present
to futures unseen–
Lightening movement with everything left behind–
Even the slight distortion of an arc,
Should it occur.
No ricochet, no intersections.
No confusion of parallelograms.
Or contusion causing angles of a triangle.
Or the endlessness dizzy repetition of a circle,
Continually turning back upon itself.
Just the cleanness of a beginning
And an end.

Quotable Poe Week Five-M. A. Morris

I am honored to have my story, “How the Stories End,” on https://hereticsloversmadmen.com as part of Quotable Poe Week Five.

Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen

How the Stories End

No one would understand why I’m here, so I’m sure you don’t either—at least you don’t yet.  But I promise you will.  I’m going to tell you a story and then you’ll understand.  There is a method, as they say, to this madness.  Oh, and you will have the opportunity to help with the ending to the story I am about to tell you.

Let’s see—our story begins with a child, a child whose favorite Saturday morning were when her mother would sit beside her on the floor and watch cartoons.  Her mother would wrap an arm around her then our child would snuggle in real close.  It was one of their mother-daughter rituals, played out when the mother didn’t have too much housework to do.  What you must understand is that the most delightful part of this ritual was the mother laughing and giggling right…

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The Woman in Black – M.A. Morris

I am honored to be published on Brave and Reckless.

Brave & Reckless

She dressed in black
Since the age of twenty-three.
She covered all her insides with
The blackest sack cloth.
She made sure to let in no light.
She wanted it dark, pitch black inside.

Outside, people thought she wore jewels
Of many different colors,
Sparking and brilliant they said she was.
They didn’t see the black she always wore.
For many years,
She hid the black cloth well
For the sake of those she loved.

But on her story goes,
Those she loved drained her,
Drained her dry as they say.
That’s when the black cloth began
To creep out her navel and down her thighs,
Lowering itself to cover every inch of her
From waist to ankle.
Everyone thought she wore black slacks,
But she knew better.
She knew it was the black from inside.
Those she loved never bothered
To deposit what they’d withdrawn,
So soon, the black…

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Elemental Breath

 From the shaking dirge cries of birth
 To the desire for ease in the between, 
 Before the elemental breath rattles at death,
 We are lost in cacophonous sighs of daily life, 
 Choosing to turn away 
 From moments appearing as iridescent sun rays
 As if God's fingers reached 
 Between the clouds 
 To touch the earth.
 Yes, we turn away,
 Notice nothing,
 Pick up kids,
 Fix dinner,
 Do laundry,
 A trip to Wal-Mart,
 And to work,
 The mundane of every day,
 Yes, it must be done,
 To hurry toward the waiting,
 While living holding sand,
 Until expelling 
 the elemental breath before death. 
   

Silver and White Under a Ruidoso Sky

 Here, under a Ruidoso sky,
 You remind me:
 An extraordinarily warm spring day
 Spent in a field somewhere
 In Lancaster County, PA.
 Where exactly? Well, now,
 I could not really say.
 I’d never find it again,
 Even after taking the memory
 Down off the shelf
 And dusting the cobwebs away.
  
 I remember the day in snapshots
 Before we trampled, stomped, burned
 our youth:
 The drive from Baltimore
 In your little black sports car.
 The top down.  The wind
 Running its fingers through
 Your copper hair.
 The glitter of your crystalline eyes
 In the morning sunshine.
 The softness of 501 jeans washed
 A thousand times.
 Your artist’s soul looking for the
 Perfect spot, rejecting several
 Before perfection found,
 A sun-drenched meadow amid
 Pine trees.  No Amish around, you said.
 The care you took with blankets
 And picnic basket and, of course,
 Your ever-present sketchbook.
 Cheeses, bread, fruits, and wine
 You packed.
 I read.
 You sketched.
 We ate and drank.
 Then, I posed for you,
 The first time.
 No one was around.
 No one could see,
 You said and so
 You shucked me
 Of clothing and
 Arranged me
 And my long black curls.
 You sketched me
 And said you wished you
 Had your paints.
 Copper and black hair
 Tangled together.
 And the sun low
 In the sky.  We
 Packed the basket
 And folded the blanket.
  
 Some 40, 41 years ago.
 Snapshots of that day.
 Why remind me now?
 We trampled, stomped, burned our
 Youth down.  Oh, yes. we could tease
 "Here come and sit, where never 
 serpent hisses, And being set, 
 I'll smother thee with kisses."
 We’d do nothing better in the
 Here and the now were we to tangle
 Silver and white together.
 Lies were told, I know.
 For once, I wanted to believe.
 Your truth telling services,
 I do not need…
  
 And the tangling of silver and white now, just--
 The braiding of loneliness and longing
 Leaves us soulless. 

Laughter and Dust

Laughter departed,
Or died a slow death.
We weren’t sure which.

You asked why we didn’t dance
When we dusted anymore,
As we did when I taught you to do
The washing machine.

But we were told it was “nasty”
And I “ought not” teach you that.
Plus, we played “that
Jungle and Mexican music too loud.”
So, our hips and feet stilled.

Then you dusted no more,
And I couldn’t blame you.
Fun stopped breathing.
No paramedics needed.
We survived.
Forgetting the joy
of everyday.

She Carries

A lazy weekend morning dawns,
As I drink my morning coffee
Wishing for a morning cigarette,
Or more precisely, that I still smoked,
I think of the women I have known.
The beauty, passion, love, heartache of each;
Some leaving a bitter aftertaste,
Some a sweetness lingering in memory,
Some could ignite burning still,
Some inspire an icy chill
In a frostbitten heart.
Though none is as they were
So long ago,
If in a room
All could be collected,
An eclectic collection it would be
Of age and size and color,
Of eye and hair and skin,
Of butch and femme
And somewhere in between.
Each beautiful in her way
And in my eyes.
Each carries a collection of
All my would haves,
And should haves,
And could haves.
Perhaps three or four
Carry all my what if’s
And if only’s.
Two maybe three
Carry all my regrets.
One maybe two
Carry the burden of my sins.
One, just one,
Carried my faith.

But only one–
Yes, only one—
Too amazing for belief,
Carried, for a time, too brief,
My heart and my soul.

The Beauty of Hands

Aesthetics of skin, nails, knuckles, bone
Does not exist in
The beauty of hands
Lending help when needed is seen.
Pulling a bloody tourniquet tight
in the midst of battle,
Swinging a hammer
to build a house,
Raking earth
to plant a garden,
Painting
a work of art,
Cradling
a child to sleep,
Caressing
a lover’s skin.
A lifetime of doing is the beauty of hands.

American Dream

America, we never were a great nation.
Not with the genocide of native peoples, slave auctions
And slavery, Jim Crow, The Trail of Tears,
Japanese Internments, and the KKK.
No, we were never great.
We are always a nation of becoming.
A nation of ideals.
A nation great in flickering moments
Like old news reel footage:
When Harriet led her railroad,
When the suffragettes marched for the vote,
When Rosa would not be moved,
When Martin believed in the one day
Every child would have,
When Edie and Thea showed
Marriage should be defined by love,
Not biological gender.
We are a people of hope, of dreams,
Of knowing life would be better
When we made each other great.

Now, hate ripples from one sea
To another, and neither shines any longer
With Liberty because her torch
Grows dim with this reign of hate.
And there are many who want to forge once again
The chains to her ankles, shackling her in place,
Because they want to keep her,
But just for looks sake. Her mate, Justice, remains
On life support, having been beaten to a bloody pulp
By those who see color, who see gender,
Who see all the women who need
To be put in their place,
Who see a society where Justice serves only
The white Christian right, or rather, where Justice is made
Their slave. No, this is not a great nation.
This is not a great nation
When a leader can bully and spew hate
While the First Lady urges kids
“Be Best” in a limp campaign to not do the same
And few mention the irony.
This is not a great nation.

This is not a great nation
When a leader can urge violence
Against the media, immigrants, those who disagree
And so few carry an outcry.
This not a great nation
Where 18 trans women, 17 of them of color,
Can be murdered within less than a year
Yet our highest court must hear how
Laws do not apply to LGBTQ.
No, this is not a great nation
When so many must blame, exclude, and hate,
When so many must abase another to uplift themselves,
All the while professing Christianity.

Our founders gave us rules of law to make us better than this.
We are not a great nation
Until we realize the American Dream
Doesn’t see color or gender,
Doesn’t see race or religion,
Doesn’t see sexual identity,
Until none of us need to stand on the backs
Of others to feel better about ourselves—
Until we realize the American Dream is freedom and equality
And there is enough for all to go around,
We can not be a great nation.

But the greatness in our nation is this:
That we can be
If we recognize our humanity.

No Art

This was written after I completed 
a five mile hike and then picked up 
a volume of Elizabeth Bishop's poetry 
to enjoy once again on a sunny afternoon.  
My answer to Bishop's poem, One Art.
 In this thing called losing,
 Bishop said we become masters
 And that losing isn’t a disaster.
  
 No, Not a disaster.
 Losing socks and such stuff.
 I’ve lost earrings, bracelets,
 Expensive ones too, didn’t care
 Beyond maybe a minute or two.
  
 And no pain beyond a stab of nostalgia
 Did I have upon saying goodbye 
 To three houses and two cities.
  
 And yes, it was no disaster
 To bury my mother, 
 A father who really wasn’t,
 The man who really was,
 First one brother, then the other,
 Then lastly, a wife.
 With each, my body and soul
 Savaged by a hurricane, catastrophic, yes.
 But no, no disaster.
  
 Except perhaps, yes, I’ll admit, 
 A tiny bit of soul eroded 
 From the waves of each hurricane
 Breaking over me as I buried each.
 And nothing, nothing did I master.
  
 Except, maybe this—
 I did not look for them
 Since they were gone,
 Emptied of this earth.
  
 Now, there is you and
 I look for you
 In everything I do--
 Every sunset
 Every sunrise
 Every in between time.
  
 I look for you in strangers,
 In cars I pass along the street.
 I look for you at festivals,
 In films I see.
 I look for you in places,
 In the sky of Ruidoso,
 In bars,
 In restaurants,
 In the eyes of strangers, 
 I look for you.
  
 I look for you in all this.
 And in this thing
 Called losing, 
 In which I am well-schooled,
 As are we all, 
 I have tried to make an art,
 To make an art of all this loss.
  
 Yes, this may be no real disaster,
 But Bishop lied.
 There is no art in losing,
 No art at all,
 That I can find to master.