Rusty Morrison

notes from the understory (level 15)


such that silence thickens around what I’m afraid to say
so soon impenetrable
three burly men walk ahead of me on the sidewalk
make a similarly unassailable wall

I tell myself I need a more finely-calibrated scale of value

the ‘telling’ disrupts further my scale’s accuracy as such

seemingly weightless realizations are easily ignored
the hawk floating on air currents
needs both feather and muscle
to achieve a height above observable clouds

notes from the understory (level 16)


such that the cat I walk past in the yard
is camouflaged by its stillness
as I pass but then I see a lizard
that failed invisibility

in the cat’s mouth

the book falls from its place on my shelf as such

it opens to a cameo detail from Bosch’s Garden of Delights
a holy figure peers off the page
is virtue applied by the painter or revealed
this is the morning I’ll chew through clouds

notes from the understory (level 17)


such that I close my left eye to focus
imprisoning myself in the iris of my right
a songbird’s trill makes me glance toward my closed window
ripples in its decades-old glass stop moving just as I look

I yawn with the hope of opening more orifices

in Bosch’s detail a bird’s beak narrows to infinity as such

its breast-feathers privately shine
the figurines my mother kept in a curio cabinet
wore easily classified expressions
of vision painted shut

Rusty Morrison is co-founder,co-publisher of Omnidawn (www.omnidawn.com) since 2001. 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 from PSA). Her recent book is Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta; finalist for the NCIB Award & NCB Award). She teaches in MFA programs as a visiting poet, workshops through Omnidawn and elsewhere. Offering private consultations. www.rustymorrison.com