Three Poems by Cameron Morse


 Scrawny infant squawking daughter
unswaddled for the car seat
in a more winter than spring rain,
welcome to the world, hellraiser.
March is bipolar in Missouri. Welcome
to this corner of the world. Here is
my thumb. You cannot seem to locate
your own. Let’s do something about those
maniacally flapping hands, those 
dagger-length fingernails. What a nuisance
it is to be born. Regurgitated on dry land.
Exposed to the elements. Let’s adjust
the thermostat. Sandwich the breast.
Get some meat on those bones.  
I Live in the Woods

It's the woods. These streets strung above I-70 are no neighborhood: They have no name. The trees out here in the dark are older than toothpick houses. Denser in their darkness than any porch light. Early morning resounds with cricket orchestration, the long intermittent hiss of a cicada. Backtrack to the blubbery soon-to-be extinct spectral motors of the interstate. This is the age of insects, Gould says, so I start a bug collection. I scoop the iridescent dead from our kiddie pool with a Walmart pill bottle: a Japanese beetle. I have to explain to Theo the exoskeleton of the cicada latched onto the A-frame of his swing set is just a shell, it's not alive, and pick it off myself. I find a dead cicada for display and seal it in the orange tube. Peel the label that says Keppra that says Bactrim that says Methylprednisolone that leaves a sticky little residue. 
Tree, House

The reach for love is the branch 
in my apple tree that is barely touching the eaves. 
There is a thin and fragile part 
of my heart that is always barely touching.
An apple tree opening endlessly 
unto the house brings its chimneys 
into the shady auspice of leaves
but let the roots rub up against a cracked 
foundation and they chafe. Mostly 

I just settle into the earth and sprout more
cracks, more spider veins for the rain 
to bleed through, I seep into the soil 
the sound sleep of the soil packed around my cracks. 

Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His collection of unrhymed sonnets, Sonnetizer, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso ReviewHarbor Review’s chapbook prize is named in her honor. She expects her next collection, The Book of Stolen Images (Meadowlark) to be out in a few months.


Turn It Up                                                                                by Sarah E. Azizi

My kid reads me the gate code: 9636-hashtag. 
I punch it in, resist the urge to tell her irrelevant bits 
from back in my day, & wonder if I’ll ever shift 

from pound in my own lexicon, having just turned 44. 
Last birthday for 2 years—I’m skipping 45, the age 
at which my father died. I’m like a toddler pretending, 

twirling into a disappearing act with my next 
grand entrance all planned. Cute analogy, sure, but 
it’s not rhetorical, either, & is not the internal sense, 

that steady metronome, the most trustworthy 
logic of all? My daughter retrieves her friend, 
they slide in & slam the car doors. I’m striving 

to be unlike my own parents so I stifle 
the reprimand of not so hard. My kid’s eyes gleam 
when I let her pick the music, those mono-fold 

almonds shaped like my father’s. Hers hazel, 
his were dark as espresso beans, & I wonder 
what he’d think of the hashtags & names, 

or the way we live since Sept of oh-one. Slowly, 
the exit gate deigns to open, we turn onto the main road, 
& some narrative dalliances, I know, are better left 

undeveloped. Some curiosities can’t be fed. 
The kids bounce as I sing along to their nouveau 
pop songs, & though so often I’ve got something 

to say, I quiet my inner hum, let this present moment 
thrum, & tell my passengers: Turn it up. Little faces,
how they beam. The highway sprawls ahead. It’s easy,

today, to leave the rest unsaid.

Sarah E. Azizi (aka Sera Miles) is a queer Iranian-American writer, educator, and activist. Previous and forthcoming publications include: $pread Magazine, 34th Parallel, Blue Mesa Review, Fahmidan Journal, Clean Sheets, red, The Tide Rises, HELD, Wrongdoing Magazine, the winnow, Superpresent, Nine Mile, and Free State Review. She lives in Albuquerque.

Guest Editor, Morgan O.H. McCune is a native Kansan and now lives in Topeka. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from Washington University in St. Louis (1991) and a Master of Library Science from Emporia State University (2002). She was a Cataloging Librarian/Professor at Pittsburg State University for 15 years before retiring in 2022.

Childhood Friends                                                                  by James Diaz

We are the measure and the measured
Time, I'm saying
We waste and want more
In that aching that is ours to plow through
No one says whole
No one says time
Heals and if they do,
If they do:
Necessary lies
My father built houses all his life
For others to call a home
While we froze in winter
Wandered fields behind the section 8
Taught each other the long game of body burning
Brighter than future's not ours
Boys who died from too much
Or not enough
Girls who birthed their fathers
And braided ladders in their mind
To the moon
These ungodly creatures
From whom time took
Everything in sight
But in the barn one night Clara pointed
To the sky and said "just like that,
It's how I want to be,"
Never mind that everyone broke us
Never mind the light that fell
Across us scattered birds
Like everything else
Just out of reach
Because I remember holy was
Holy were
Don't ever think we came here wasted
We came here hungry
We ate the night
We were beautiful
We wanted more
We were at the altar
But never on our knees
Circling the barn
We talked our futures bigger than possible
We talked our lives with our mouths on fire
We kept each other warm
Kept each other circling
Higher and higher
The freeway humming
We ate the damn thing whole.

James Diaz (They/Them) is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018), All Things Beautiful Are Bent (Alien Buddha, 2021), and the forthcoming Motel Prayers (Alien Buddha, 2022). Founding editor of Anti-Heroin Chic, their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Thrush Poetry Journal, Corporeal, The Madrigal, Wrongdoing Magazine, The Lumiere Review, Resurrection mag, and Apricity. They reside in upstate New York. 

Guest Editor Latorial Faison has authored 15 books, including Mother to Son and the trilogy collection, 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History. A graduate of UVA and VA TECH, she recently, completed doctoral studies at Virginia State University and published The Missed Education of the Negro: An Examination of the Black Segregated Education Experience in Southampton County. This Furious Flower Poetry Center fellow, Pushcart nominee, and Tom Howard Poetry Prize winner has been published in Artemis Journal, West Trestle Review, Obsidian: Literature and Art in the African Diaspora, PRAIRIE SCHOONER, and elsewhere. Forthcoming work, Mama Was a Negro Spiritual, was a semi-finalist for The CAVE CANEM POETRY PRIZE. Faison is married, has three sons, and teaches at Virginia State University.