Two Poems | by Emma Morris


When you said we each choose our own death I asked your ghost
to guide me. Among your abandoned drafts: silence and spaces,
the height of the flame, the torn page, blood under the words.
When the wound was cauterized, you painted your lips around it.
I’m talking to you, Clarice.
And I will keep your secrets, everyone else’s on top of my own.
I won’t speak of the spells you cast, how in the dark
you’d search for the words that would steal something
back from the dead. And those parts of yourself
you thought were dead. The lives you could’ve lived.
Husbands never understand words like yours, or gods,
or bodies. How the name you were given,
one I’ve been called before and in anger,
was buried behind others until you were.
Twice forged of mutable fire, under a new moon
and planets laid down like stones on a grave.
How many marks of erasure, how many pages you let burn.
I’m with you now. The moon’s in your sign again.
Full just past dawn, and my body will rise to meet it.
Do you write the story of decay or does it write you.
Did you cause more harm with your hands or your mouth.
Like you I longed for silence but someone always near,
someone there to weigh each breath. Your ghost was me
called by another name. Like you I was a night person.




Apotropaic Names

To the ancestor who read tea leaves, tarot cards,
palms: what would you make of mine, built
as they are for the harvest, for toiling & hiding
from enemy scythes in fields of rye and millet?
Not, that is, for needlework or book binding
or anything else favored by DAR girls.
Nothing requiring precision other than stealth,
hands that know a hard touch, that too quickly
fold into fists, that can take without being seen.
Though we share a name and bend toward
the other through prophecy, those who fled &
turned away rooted themselves in the sublunary
dirt of those who wanted them dead.
Not to be mentioned in the same breath as the living.
Our ghosts hiding in our blood like sealed letters,
corded to us, waiting to be seen.
I allow all to know me.



Emma Morris is librarian, astrology maven/former horoscope writer, and co-writer of the bawdy comedy-horror musical “The Hotwife of Hyde Park.” She served as Managing Editor for from 2013-2016. Additionally, she is the Acquisitions Manager at the Newberry Library in Chicago.