Two Poems 

by Oak Morse


      • Sliced Chapter
        She said my books take up too much space,
      • like I’m cramming the universe in this apartment.
        She found one behind the toilet, two crushing
        her tampons, and one with the lost car registration.
        I told her books are like dope fiends, you’ll find them
        in odd places. She slammed a bottle of bleach
        on the dining table, then whispered that I had a week
        to purge this place back to a land where love
        can breathe, or she’ll watch words bleed
        through page to page. Those seven days were long
        as a novel and I saw what I did not want to see:
        Thursday, her ankles resting on books to dry
        painted nails. Friday, books used as wine glass coasters.
        Saturday, books shoved into a pot
        to prop up silk orchids—I could’ve sworn
        I heard one of the characters shriek. Monday,
        a torn cover used as a dustpan. Tuesday, books
        against the fireplace, burnt matchsticks scattered
        like a newly opened puzzle. On Wednesday,
        I walked in with keys to a U-Haul and a separation lease.
        If it wasn’t for these books, I wouldn’t have
        been the lyricist she loved once. If it wasn’t for
        these books, this story could have been orchids
        blooming, thirstless in one vase. 




        Ass Backwards Ode
        Love, you’ve never been a friend of mine.
        I’ve been sitting on optimistic for years,
        now it feels like I’m lumped on top of cactus.
        I’m done with you skipping around my dreams,
        like companionship is a joke to you,
        like soulmates are created from playdough.
        Sure, I’m getting younger, charley horses every ten seconds,
        follicles in my crown as thin as spider webs.
        They say you don’t know what you got until it’s gone,
        so go ahead, Love, put me in my casket suit,
        then maybe somebody will come—
        not the ones you send every black moon—
        to unleash a passion so robust, then throw Nerf balls at it.
        I never yearn for unicorns. Always ask for what I can offer in return.
        I’m a hot ass thing, but Love, you play these dangerous games
        and my empty years are stacking up fast like memes.
        I gave my emotions morphine last time you tried to slip in my yard
        asking can you dance at my wedding?
        Now I’m lathering my patience in bullshit repellent.
        Get off my land! Get off my land!
        Next time send a mediator so I can tell him about nights
        when I lean out my bed trying to get away from Lonely lying beside me;
        Lonely snores too loud. My ass is still sore waiting Indian style.
        I am about to leave Possibility out to dry, on the clothesline,
        with grass-hoppers, bees and fleas.
        Can you spell too through?
        Gon’ home where the goblins lie, nibbling on peoples’ pain.
        Gon’ now. Get off my land! Get off my land!
        Don’t ever come back here cloaked as a fairy carrying fool’s gold.
        Don’t ever come back here with Tourette’s, liable to say anything,
        except the right thing, which is you’ll cast a great love my way.
        Cus’ If you do, you’ll find me in my steel toe shoes, spiked knuckles,
        yanking a sword out the ground.

Oak Morse lives in Houston, Texas, where he teaches creative writing and performance and leads a youth poetry troop, the Phoenix Fire-Spitters. He was the winner of the 2017 Magpie Award for Poetry in Pulp Literature, a Finalist for the 2020 Witness Literary Award and a Semi-Finalist for the 2020 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Currently a Warren Wilson MFA candidate, Oak has received a Pushcart Prize nomination, fellowships from Brooklyn Poets and Twelve Literary Arts as well as a Stars in the Classroom honor from the Houston Texans. Recently a recipient of the 2021 Cave Canem’s Starshine and Clay Fellowship, his work appears in Strange Horizons, PANK, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Nimrod, Cosmonaut Avenue, Solstice, among others. Visit