Black River, Missouri — By Morgan O. H. McCune

“To fall asleep ‘here’ is to wake ‘there’”—Gerald Bullett


I woke early, a good distance

from the Black River, to the snores

of strangers, their campers draped

in glowing red lanterns. A crow called.


The road wound itself into a trail,

then I was on the stones and drawn,

wading, out far enough to feel

the current pulling.


I watched the mist rise

on the Black River,

ghosts, walking on water,

brushing shoulders, revealing–

a hand here, a slender arm there,

hearts of smoke, of sighs,

gentle wafting flesh, like sleep

in cold water.

~ Morgan O. H. McCune

Morgan O.H. McCune currently works at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. She is a native Kansan, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and an M.L.S. from Emporia State University (2002). Her poems have been published previously in River Styx.

James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.


2 thoughts on “Black River, Missouri — By Morgan O. H. McCune

  1. I enjoyed your Black River poem very much. Did you consider leaving out the snoring campers and their red lanterns? I wanted to be there with you –just the two of us, and I didn’t like their intrusion nor the introduction of a camp ground near the river…just a comment for a lovely poem.

  2. This poem brought a lot of memories. When we lived in Port Huron, Michigan, our house was on the Black River. It was really black, but when it froze in winter the ice was white. People would ride their snowmiles up and down the frozen river.

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