Looking at My Parents – by Cameron Morse

 

When I look at my father, I see a flower,
I see a barbarian who lived in Guam,
and ate McDonald’s for 90 days to file
for divorce. When I look at my father,
I see a flower wearing a straw hat, short
shorts and long socks, t-shirt tucked,
stretched over his paunch, I see a bottle
of wine with a hamburger for breakfast
before going back to bed. I see red
meat and liver-spotted hands.

When I look at my mother, I see the moon,
I see a beast who watches Call the Midwife
in her nightgown, indulging herself
and 16-year-old son with a weight problem
to Custards after a day in the office
listening to sex addicts and divorcées
before getting served on September 11th
by what she thought had been a roofer with a bid.
When I look at my mother, I see the moon,
haggard and luminous.

 

 

 

Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. He was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing program at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in over 100 different magazines, including New Letters, Bridge Eight, and South Dakota Review. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His second, Father Me Again, is available from Spartan Press.

Heavenly Mountain Road – by Cameron Morse

 

We can so easily … find that we are trapped, as in a dream
and die there, without ever waking up – Rainer Maria Rilke

 

In a factory park on the outskirts
of Yantai, I used to walk around talking
to God: Father, who art in heaven.

And you, my earthly father, I used to
walk along Heavenly Mountain Road
with you, talking to the charcoal sky,

the windbreaks, the dark winter
tide. Like Rilke, I used to fear
I wasn’t really living, and on the night

of my first seizure, I knew I had to die
to bring you back, but I weary of waiting:
If you aren’t coming, I will take

your place at the kitchen counter, pick
paper jackets off your cloves of garlic.
I will slice onion under running

water and scoop out the seeds of baked
spaghetti squash. I will feed
your family in your stead.

I will feed your godforsaken children.

 

 

 

Cameron Morse taught and studied in China. Diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014, he is currently a third-year MFA candidate at UMKC and lives with his wife, Lili, and newborn son Theodore Ian in Blue Springs, Missouri. His first collection Fall Risk is published by Glass Lyre Press.