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Today's poem is by Michael Morse

Quo Journal: Just as They Come

Call the figure in the trees Jay or Jew,
his plumage is a fire called blue and I am he.
I have a house that smells of lemons
and when the going gets tough the air turns citrus.

She's a friend of mine, the sun-kissed, and I
the dutiful bird do follow her from limb to limb—
I take my fill of what I need,
I take the air my meager lungs can hold.

I cough. I think of Kiev.
My elders make a garden of old country,
but when I dream the men come at me with their torches
on the backs of horses that rage at who I am:

Do they murmur talis qualis even in their sleep?
The winds of change play part and parcel with my days,
my tallis feather-light, my hinges cerulean blue.
When I was a fledgling I grew quite fond of pears,

would stake out the promiscuous trees, the orchard
where thick-grown grass looks up and calls the petals Jazz.
That was a music I fell down in front of, spent,
and you want a set of wings like mine, cheap?

You say to me, I would that I could have your little roost
up there where your cloth makes you chosen
against the background skies be they blue or gray.
I say to you, take care twice with what you crave—

a bird that's flown might badly want your body
to ground itself on two strong feet and sing
hosannas to the worlds of dirt and salt.
Watch the Jay hop down from branch to branch:

It's coming. I'm me. Get ready.
I'm here to take my wings and trade them
for a solid set of ribs, to look up
at my steeple trees and know I'd been there, once;
could walk the walk and grant the birdless wings.



Copyright © 2002 Michael Morse All rights reserved
from The Literary Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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