Monday, July 4, 2022

Rusty Morrison : Two Poems




notes from the understory (layer 34, direction two)

 I was reading a novel in bed last night, living vicariously its fictionality. But this life into which I wake is the life of the book’s protagonist. What I had been living has disappeared into the pages of the novel, which now I can’t find.

“Place is a security and space is a freedom,” says Yi-Fu Tuan. “Each day we defy gravity to create and sustain an orderly human world, at night we take leave of the world we’ve created.”

That there is a “swiftly moving river of time” is a cliché that protects me from what is actually flowing between what words are able to explain, and slips outside any word’s etymology.

My language simultaneously amasses awareness and points eerily toward what my awareness fails to apprehend.





notes from the understory (layer 34 direction three)

I’m a carbon copy, a smudged surrogate of the self I aspire to be. Every gesture stains me further, until the self I thought I would become has disappeared.

I am the here-ness of not being who I was. I can’t see into my past’s aperture, its space where light once passed is now closed.

A not-there-ness is what I listen for in the space between my husband’s sleeping in-breath and sleeping out-breath.

I want to type a phrase that will blast open the violence of true invention—

not to violate who I was, but to release myself from the need for an end-orientation of everything will turn out fine.

I want the words I’m typing to turn a small dial on my radio of meanings, to turn it randomly, risking how everything might be altered by whatever I hear in either direction.









Rusty Morrison is co-publisher of Omnidawn ( Her poems have recently been accepted by American Poetry Review and by Fence. Her five books include After Urgency (won Tupelo’s Dorset Prize) & the true keeps calm biding its story (won Ahsahta’s Sawtooth Prize, James Laughlin Award, N.California Book Award, & DiCastagnola Award). Her recent Beyond the Chainlink was a finalist for the NCIB Award & NCB Award). She is a recipient of a Civitella Ranieri fellowship, and a recipient of other artist retreat fellowships. She’s one of eight fellows in the inaugural year (2020), awarded by UC Berkeley Art Research Center’s Poetry & the Senses Program. She teaches & she gives writing consultations. Her website:

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