Poems: Sarah Morrison


Sexting a Famous Musician

Mechanical bull riding or something cheesy
     was how I used to imagine our first date, you
laughing with a smile I’ve Google imaged
     near daily for one year as I’m bucked sideways
like a gangly angel then landing in the foam,
     your fuzzy stuffed squid in a toy box just for you.
Cuddle me, but I never said it at whichever
     opportunity I had. It passed. This all began when
I drunk emailed the address on your official
     website not thinking anyone would ever find it.
You were so nice to talk to me. Tenderness
     is everywhere if you know where to look and when
the conversation turns to fantasies I describe
     fucking you to death, the dream being about death as well
as life, because it’s precious, I explain, trying
     not to sound so young. You have your own
tender things, I’m sure, in your open relationship about which
     you warn me and that’s okay, though I’m not sure
I know better than to do anything you wanted me to,
     “Fuck Genius” going through my head to the tune
of “Earth Angel” after texting you pictures of my spread
     self-slapped ass. I spend the rest of the day
wondering who I can give my tiny gifts to, if not
     to you, as if scrounging through a toy pit with my
ugly and huge mechanical claw. Laugh about it, it’s true
     I’m the only one who’ll make you this happy.

It’s never a good sign when your boyfriend starts to 
     talk about his ex-girlfriend, and you should know 

that you’ll soon be next, but not before you know all 
     about her—Maggie— and all the ways you two 

are different. You’re told she was draconic, well-read, and at 
     seventeen, too, impressive, since you haven’t finished 

a book in over a year. Such mature terms! Lifted, 
     you’re sure, from conversation between two snobby 

parents appraising the girl’s breed like a wine of indeterminate 
     vintage, certainly not from high school yak, though 

our drama class might have been where he picked up 
     the idea of sexual role playing, which he tells you Maggie 

was very much into (aren’t you?), and how bold, like the roles 
     you tried out for and never got, the ones she did, Elizabeth 

in The Crucible, and Lady Macbeth. Whispering Lady’s 
     lines in his ear, undressed (they’d have to imagine 

the costumes), maybe Maggie says, Unsex me here 
     and maybe she means it, the plea to be unwomaned, 

released from his fantasies of medieval corsets and anal, 
     too heavy a character to carry off campus, 

to the backseat of his car and back again. She’s just a child, 
     a kid actor, after all, but blue-eyed, so help her, 

and pressure for a woman to perform according 
     to her beauty is real, even though it won’t last forever, 

it never does, but your future ex didn’t know that, was 
     blindsided when she dumped him, stayed in town 

after high school, and started taking walk-on roles at the
     local playhouse. He settles for you, since for a while, 

you convince him you’re strong, like he thought Maggie was, but you 
     know Macbeth is nothing without his Lady. The potential— 

He asks, What the hell happened to her? which is another 
     way to say, in Macbeth’s words, What a sorry sight 

to see her acting so perfectly out of character.

Enquirer: “Courtney Love’s Lonely Final Days” 

I’m not brave enough to be obvious, 
     not like the last-minute candy wrappers
at the supermarket checkout are, 
     or the tabloids with red type 
and photos of ailing celebrities 
     or the woman in line, her rhinestone barrette,
and her request for the cashier to 
     fix some problem right this instant
hurled upward from her wheely-cart
     of oranges, lilies, and Coca-Cola
and to add to it, she’s wearing colorful
     tights encasing thick legs, plus she’s buying
cigs, but the thing that’s insulting the cashier enough
     to call her sweetheart, eyes rolled,
and tell her to move ahead is her gray hair 
     that looks three days unwashed, brushing around her
head like greasy twigs as she zooms past the aisles of blonde dye, 
red dye, black dye,
     and there’s a resemblance between her skin and
Courtney Love’s whose latest supposed coke binge
     leaves her eyes baggy and photographed at 
an LA corner store, fully aware of those cameras 
     hiding, or not hiding, between the shelves, 
the hungover purchase a careless thing like
     a pair of dirty panties left in the middle of one’s apartment
when the hookup buddy buzzes from downstairs.
     Love’s skin is never more taut these days than when
stretched on the cover of Enquirer, and waiting for 
     the old lady to stop yelling I touch
the filmy magazine and turn to Mom and say,
     Courtney Love is actually kind of cool, right?
Losing her patience, linen bristling, she asks
     Where in the world did you get that idea? 
like it’d been a skirt I bought on clearance 
     but still wasn’t worth my money.

We Went To The Flea Market to Find Something Shabby Chic

The flea market is as thrilling
as playing with a tin toy carousel 
with paintings of circus animals, the reds 
and blues blurring as it spins, 
the lions and monkeys and elephants 
blending to make a new beast altogether.
My mom’s house is a mutant animal, too, 
full of chipped vases and antique armoires, 
each with their own genetic makeup,
except her monster can and will reproduce
when eventually the gentle giant is ripped 
apart limb by limb to be sold back 
to flea markets, reupholstered and repurposed 
for eternity. Is that heaven? 

I could watch this circus all day,
the rows of cluttered tables, this menagerie 
of conglomerate traditions, each object’s 
history sounding mating calls across 
concrete aisles. Squaw! Roar! Ki-Ki-Ki-Ki-Ki! 
It’d be so dangerous if I weren’t in the audience, 
but I am, safe and snug behind 
my purse Mom tells me to grip to my chest.
I’m not allowed to be a participant in the act.
I’m here for the boiled peanuts, to see the 
thirteen-year-old boy in the Pantera t-shirt 
smoking a cigarette, for the banana boxes 
full of old cell phones. I’m not here
to talk to a boy named Dash who asks
for my number, even though I want 
to play video games back at his house, 
to discuss Pink Floyd in a sweaty
back room and kiss in the dust 
of this red-clayed dream. 

My mom has come to the market 
for a cane-backed chair or a pillbox 
hat that won’t see the light of day again 
to wear on a Saturday morning for the hell of it,
dusting the things that won’t leave by hand
but by milk crate or dumpster. 
She polishes them as the circus parades 
its season’s adorned elephants down Palafox. 
We’ll go out to watch them pass, but I’m 
a child always held tight from behind, 
and even when I entertain the thought 
of breaking free to join the passing caravan 
I know it’s just a show. It’s tradition 
to watch them go, ignoring the bags under 
the ringmaster’s eyes, or when he winks at us 
from the other side of the guardrails.

Sarah Morrison is a musician and poet from Tallahassee, FL. She earned her BA in Creative Writing from Florida State University and her collection, Unmentionables, won the Mart P. Hill English Honors Thesis award in 2018. She will attend University of California, Irvine in the fall of 2019 for her MFA.

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