Jeffrey Morgan



We try to imagine the afterlife. Moonlight slathered

in the small depressions beside collar bones,

luxurious handholds when the body is a cliff,

when the body is ravine.

We try to imagine a different kind of municipality,

where the people do not kiss like you or me

or especially themselves.

Now our mouths are practice kisses,

and we open them as if at any moment an apple.

This one last time, let us be distilled

in darkness, in the afterlife

there is no future to promise, no past

lit bright by regret.  





The first lie is a costume with an obvious seam.

Think about lies. You get better at them

until you can tell one so simple it is wind

in trees, wind turning flags and hair into river.

Now think of lies in clusters like mushrooms

with effects from delicious to ambulance.

You'll never know how many,

and the best are still beautiful small umbrellas

sheltering forgotten ground.

If I am honest, I don't know why

I don't want this for you.

This is the problem with the truth.





Flat water between waves, the lull beside the heartbeat.

All the little bones not mentioned in the song

about how the bones connect. Thank you. We are windswept

and grateful for such a short time after illness.

As in the game where a message is whispered

from one ear to another, think of how happy we can be

with what no one said. We are playing that game right now.

Each day shivers free of history in this way, the spaces

between the letters in a name,

and yet the private citizen must describe the death

of the public personae. It was a plant that planted itself.

It grew invasively and does so still inside our dreams.

Giggle uncontrollably if you understand me.





Personae can be highly problematic, yet for me voice is one of the most intriguing and persuasive elements of poetry. These poems are part of book-length exploration of how personae and voice work with and against issues of agency and empathy.