for Steve Orth

It was a pretty day, I was working on

my ordinary thing, trying to figure out

a different way to make the old

connection. The clouds formed a sort of

towering detachment — components, as

I wished to be, of some singular volume

in rough outline, like a child's drawing

of the sea. I took a seat on the granite steps

of the war memorial. It was mid-morning

by the time I remembered the blood-soaked carpets

& smashed mirrors of last night's dream.

I adjusted my hands, the way they were

positioned. My mind was asymptote to

the eye of a crow, alit just now on that step


My most majestic strangeness

My secret weirdness

My grandest darkness, romance or danger

all these abide in my fleeting conviction

that there is some god

that one might be many

Please just continue to show me

your hidden faces

your holiness, your boundless capacity

for destruction

in the shadows of pigeons

on the stucco wall of the AMC

I can take my time, zero in on

the old breath. I can consider how scared

& exactly how not scared I am

to be human, & toying

with density & mass

My grandest darkness, romance or danger

My incurable disease

The sad facet of my final dissimilarity

that I sometimes perceive you here

in all that is fair or impassively abides. That you are

on some thin frequency, & all I am here for

the perception of injustice & beauty


This is a song about the future

written in the past, ideally to be memorized

& shared w/ whomever

poems should be like recipes that way

identity another fuzzy doorway so what about

it anyway, it's a backstage list, a colorful outburst

a child who loves balloons. Stout, mezcal,

cigarettes & cocaine. Debt peonage vs.

"the unlawed impulses of faith & love"

the old story we would die to keep repeating

just to see how it ends—of course it never does

I was one who kept trying to approach oblivion

just said what the fuck am I doing out loud

I'd been propelled back into the low true world

it is harmful, the delusion of progress

a mistake one nevertheless must live by

even in the midst of this

my apocalyptic diet

I see so clear the sparrow in the leaves

"the day of small things"

attention paid (wrong word)

in occulted moments

that the reverie may appear

in the space you cleared for it there

see you turn into me, again

propelled back into the low true world

easy mind

in the algorithmic lilacs

Jason Morris is the author of ten books of poetry / other, including Low Life (Bird & Beckett Books, 2021); Different Darknesses (FMSBW, 2019); and Levon Helm (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018). From 2007 – 2014, he founded and edited the magazine Big Bell. In addition to poetry, he has written essays on Clark Coolidge's Crystal Text and Bernadette Mayer's interest in Nathaniel Hawthorne. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and their child.