Rusty Morrison — THREE POEMS

Rusty Morrison





RECLAMATION PROJECT                        (WEEDS)


The weight of a ripe nectarine in my palm, a sensation into which I am walking,

opens the field


to a shapeless calm. An instant of time in which I don’t mind being alive

to this,


while everything else I’ve missed reels out in endlessness behind me.


I reach into the hollow of a dead tree at the dead end of the park path

and feel dry leaves,


rodent droppings, and something smooth sliding under my fingertips—since then,

I haven’t had the same hand.


How to avoid stepping on the external gills the hill has camouflaged as weeds.








RECLAMATION PROJECT                        (PERIMETER)


I am not elastic. The world contracts and I no longer fit inside it.


Confounding even my simplest work, the coffee pour stains my shirt, my junk-mail

misses the trash.


Watch any surface long enough and see its glacier pock, then from each

pockmark, methane leaks.


Yesterday a dust-encased dead fly inside my closed window, today a small dark

smudge where


the outside has already swallowed it.


Empty talk of judgment, back-teeth aching for breath and vowels.


It’s spring, and female spittle bugs are making a froth on stems and grasses—they know

to protect their young.


An enormous moth’s wing on the sidewalk, perfectly whole

until I touch it.


Crush the millenniums in its cellular walls.


My scent, my urine, my blood, my spit, I make my perimeter dirty

to mark it.


Here is my front door for which I procured a welcome mat to rub muddy


with my muddy shoes.








RECLAMATION PROJECT                        (CHEVRON)


The horizon on fire. I thought, we’ll all die, but it was just Chevron’s burning tanks,

by morning only a news fix, barely a conversation


fixture, only the occasional newscaster still plasti-sheen belligerent.


The actual of any incident gone, so soon, incidental. Itinerary, already itinerant,

as city planners petition again for input,


Richmond postpones suing for damage, and Chevron begins rebuilding

its exploded plant. I reach


for my teakettle, news preoccupied, touch the stovetop’s red hot grate.

Left-handed for two weeks.


An individual’s error suffers its silence in an error-breeding economy, as a community’s

explosion convicts no one, which is everyone.


My new LED-lit magnifying glass hasn’t the wattage to burn through what it won’t



How frighteningly, without transition, a transitory image surfaces suddenly as

the dominant view.


I try to protect my meaning of death from the latest cartoon enactment tinting

the morning light, and


fail. For the shields of the earth belong to no man, sings the sunlight.

As a black stickiness,


which might have been gum on the sidewalk, opens a door that all my loss wants

to reach through and can’t.


City planners retain the metallurgical consultant and demand a risk analysis, collect

every negligence damning enough to quantify.


The righteous, too, will be judged. Should I have my backdoor retrofitted to open even if

precariously aslant?


Realism is never a woman standing in the midst of her worldview, in the middle

of the street with her neighbors, as the skyline explodes.


Realism is like the sun, for which the label of rising or falling

is merely a matter of the observer’s geography.


Come to the public meeting at six o’clock for an opportunity

to give input.