Journal Entries from Jixian

Cameron Morse was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New LettersBridge EightPortland Review and South Dakota Review. His first poetry collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His three subsequent collections are Father Me Again (Spartan Press, 2018), Coming Home with Cancer (Blue Lyra Press, 2019), and Terminal Destination (Spartan Press, 2019). He lives with his pregnant wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri, where he manages Inklings’ FOURTH FRIDAYS READING SERIES with Eve Brackenbury and serves as poetry editor for Harbor Review

Journal Entries from Jixian

In late morning sun, white
plaster and curtains, car

horns and clean, cool air
through an open window,

I turn the pages of your body
so quietly your roommate

mistakes it for the sound
of me reading

your copy of The Unbearable
Lightness of Being.


Swallows whiz like arrows
through the leafy eaves
of the Beijing flowering crab.

Preceding rain, they
seem to be homing in
on something, the source

of the pain, the place
where it’s buried, like a splinter
in the palm of your hand.


Temple of Solitary Joy

By the temple wall,
I pick seeds like teardrops
from the compound eye

of my first pomegranate,
rubies of blood
bursting between my teeth.

Tuk-tuks and electric
bikes graze
my elbow, breezing

through the bazaar where
you search for a sachet
of wet wipes.


Once past the raised doorsill
and glowering deva warriors,

you fasten a red ribbon
to the prayer tree.

Wood wasps float
in the upturned artichoke

eaves, masticating
dynastic timber,

while an elderly woman
lays aside her crutches

and prostrates
before the incense clock.

You pray silently
for us to be together again.


[image: prayers in red | b56n22]

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