James Morden

Forest walking


The key is in divorcing nature.
Strip the oak its dignity and you’re allowed to see it non-living.
Remember that when the palmettos argue you;
Most things know you don’t see them living.
But the palmettos speak for the wind over the quiet mud —
so try walking — louden the small tragedies dug out with your heels;
The air cannot speak them.
When you examine your body later, know this coating has been
more than you could be –
Scrape it offquicklybefore its viscous candor passes a verdict on your actions.
Be careful not to trade anything here;
the roots speak among themselves, and they remember what they’re owed
even in cities
even awaywhen harmless betrayals come back to your fingers
and you cannot
remember the hum of the forest in your lungs.
even when you’re safely escaped.
Do none of these things, the forest will plead its life to you; save you for swallowinglater.
Do all of these things, you will remain othered and comfortable.
You will still be able to claim it was not your fault.


Florida Cottonmouth

Under the moss-drenched cypress,

I thought you a root
half hidden in swamp water.

I only wanted the bowfinstuck beside you,intertwining twigs,
collapsing the mirror lake to attempt escape.
I did nothing when you latched onto the soft spot of my palm —
fangs deep,throwing silt into gold hour.
My mother was snake-sign too.
Maybe you somehow knew her
Maybe she ate your mother
on a dare in Tokyo —
twisting midair.

The moon swelled low and
wood rot absorbedthe timbre of my scream.
I pulled you too hard.

We, an odd momentary
ouroboros in Florida light.
Dead and venom-drained, you fell.
The fish remained.


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