you are in the diode archives v6n3




I was running away from
my apartment and everything
this morning on the trail
that winds along the creek where
last week a woman was
mugged behind a stack of brush
and limbs felled by last year’s storm
when I saw on the trail in my way
a quail barking and ruffling
its feathers and behind it
a nest, presumably its nest,
lying slantwise against a rock
and at once different parts of me
wanted respectively to smash
the quail’s blue unborn eggs, scream
sentimentality at the author of
the quail, and start crying,
this is how confused I am
by need, our need to love and
protect what we love, knowing
we can’t, though this is not
a true story but if it were now
is when I would run up to the quail
cradle its quivering in my hands
and say how can you be afraid
of me, I can’t even do my
taxes, I can’t look down
the hill without not seeing her face
on the porch, can’t close my eyes
without hearing me not breathing,
if I could I would write all of this
and more down on a post-it note
and because I know absolutely
nothing about birds tie it to the quail’s
leg and say, please, take this
to her, I don’t know where she is


Cause of Death

Was it a sign, the compulsive spinal tremor?
A warning, the convulsive flexing of the wrists?
Caffeine fiending, happy-hour quaffs?

Country music? Marching into the flames?
Too many hours spent with Larkin?
Countless chalk cocktails—uppers composing

the magnum opus, benzos deploying parachutes
in perpetual abandon? (Side effects
include sea-sickness on park benches, detachment
when choking on strips of papier-mâché.)
Addicted to something no doubt, without belief
in the thrice repeated name. No explanation.

Just a running list of hypotheses,
so where to draw closure for the cousins,
canned sentiment for the news? No truth

to it? No matter. We march out unburned
only in dreams. A broken wing. A short in the wires.
A long time coming but nevertheless a surprise,

so years later: the same refusal, the reaching out
of the hand upon waking to find something crucial
absent, some familiar warmth missing from the room.  


Matt Morton was a 2013 Finalist for the Ruth Lilly Fellowship. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, New Orleans Review, Subtropics, Washington Square, and Weave Magazine, among others. Originally from Rockwall, Texas, he lives and teaches in Baltimore, where he is currently an Owen Scholars Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars.