poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, June 15, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I’ve been writing about limitation, its frustrations, and the ways that the forces of the unexpected, of excess, can sometimes break up everything I understand, even limits that had begun to feel safe. Because I want to live these experiences in the writing itself, I created a form that demanded I experience these challenges directly—you’ll see that each line in the poem that is my own line is seven syllables in length, but all italicized phrases are quotes from Maurice Blanchot and those do not conform to the other lines’s syllable count—the quotes ‘flood’ out of any constriction of syllabics. I chose the quotes before I began writing this poem, so as to let the unexpected quality of their tonalities disrupt my ways of seeing and saying (reading Blanchot always disrupts me, so I wanted to live that experience in the poems).”
—Rusty Morrison

in the flood

“yes of course” was one speech too many
now you’ve done it exposed your
obsequious emphases
                           hardly speech if disclosing nothing
thought to stay blameless in a
well-tended hothouse that’s now
            out of use beyond wear not in your possession
to break out so lay blame on
ritual pronouncements like
                          the unitary root of the whole is torn      
try knitting cozies to hide
your household aporias
                                       a little more than mortal   
how yarn can knit a surface
that will flaunt its absences
                          looking at it as though it were behind you
is how gnats spin a hole in
air & then slip right through it
           caterpillars moles lost limbs
try a little blind reaching
surprising what you can find

Copyright © 2017 by Rusty Morrison. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Rusty Morrison. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Rusty Morrison

Rusty Morrison

Rusty Morrison's poetry collections include Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta Press, 2014) and the true keeps calm biding its story (Ahsata Press, 2008), which won the James Laughlin Award, among others. She is the copublisher of Omnidawn and lives in Richmond, California.

by this poet


my father's dying makes stairs of every line of text seeming neither to go up or down
that I make the nodding motion to help myself feel I understand stop
in common with his bafflement I find comprehension alone will not suffice stop

that I


I was dragging a ladder slowly over stones stop
it was only from out of my thoughts that I could climb stop
not from the room please

my father's dying offered an indelicate washing of my
perception stop   
the way the centers of some syllables scrub


No sensation of falling, which suggests that this condition may be flight.

My eyes might be open or not. My coffee poured into a cup or

onto the countertop. This, a ball of saved rubberbands or the thick clot of tremors

I usually keep deep in the drawer that I can trust will stick

when I