I wake to the twinkling
frost, starlight encrusted
into the lawn. I walk,
my eyes watering
eastward, tramp into unmown
shadows to pinch
the slush off a blade
of grass. Drops of water
belly from tiny
budding branches. Here,
unchurched except
by cancer, I am always
at a loss, always a little less
able than I thought to accept
the failure of speech
to encapsulate
meaning, to let my dead
infant son plant his
hands upon my shaggy
cheeks in the ministry
of birdsong.

Beyond the Shadow

In the window glass I glimpse myself,
chemo bald as a light bulb, the dent
in my head a dark ravine,
a valley of the shadow. I trace

the incision with my fingertips
unable to recollect the drill twirling
a hole into my skull, the stereotactic
needle piercing my right hemisphere.

The anesthetic took me quick.
Counting down from ten, I slurred
seven. Before the results came back
from Nebraska, twice-checked,

just in time for the appointment,
my tumor might have been benign,
as they say, or slow-growing, inching
like lichen. I might have continued

to saunter, soaking up the sunlight,
the squirrels and the gumballs along
Golfview Drive, playing board games
with my little brother, making love

with my wife, which is not to say
I have forsaken my place in the light
of this world, but I have learned
more fully what it means to abide.

Anticonvulsant: Call & Response

Little tablet, sky-blue                              (Call)
sacrament, paint chip
off the ceiling of a cathedral,

splinter of stained glass
in the palm of my hand, twice
daily I wash down my gullet

your mind-body compound,
transubstantiated into myself.
I absorb your gospel of—

Look out the window. Watch             (Response)
the snow clump in the grass.

Listen to the traffic hum
along Duncan while I pad

your hot synapses with a damp
washcloth. My side effects are

somnolence, decreased energy,
suicide, salvation. Never mind

how often you have forgotten
to unflap the pillbox lid before

bed and in the morning,
because no lightning leapt

from within, imagined me
needless. Go ahead and imagine.

Forget as often as you can.

Cameron Morse taught and studied in China. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2014, he is currently an MFA candidate at UMKC and lives with his wife, Lili, in Blue Springs, Missouri. His poems have been or will be published in over 30 different magazines, including Otis Nebula, The Blackstone Review, Two Words For and TYPO. Visit his Facebook Page for more information.