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Selected Poems

Poems by Jim Morgan

Two Sketches, Six Months Apart



a catbird in the birdbath


flashing water everywhere





The fox comes out of a driveway

onto the sand of Black Beach Road,

pauses, watches us approach,

then crosses into a grassy parking

area for summer people,

hidden by grape vines.


When we walk by,

the fox is eating grass just a few feet away—

having decided that, for a fox in winter,

we don't much matter—

before disappearing in leafless brush.

Morning Compost with Crow





Five scallions and two jalapeños,


I toss to the flies.



Unlike us,

filled with memory,

dirt doesn't forget.



Each day

performs one small task




After days of neglect,

filled with rain,

I refill the bird feeder. 



Crow, being crow,

lands on a dead branch, springy

beneath crow stropping its beak.



What would I teach

to a class of crows?





I am of no use

to crow.

Geppetto in His Workshop 




I remember making them

the fragile hollow bones,

ligaments and sinews,

The clawed feet.

What fun the beaks were,

So many shapes and sizes.

Imagining what each would be good for.

And the masks!

Like dressing a masquerade party.

And of course the graceful wings designed for a certain path of flight,

balanced by the tails splayed this way and that.

I worked many years on the hang of tails

and even now I'm not sure I have them.

Each feather carefully placed,

a few here and there

the colors of fruits and vegetables.

Each time I said I was done

I would add another, and another, here and there,

say it was done and go back again.

I could spend hours on one.

Sometimes I moved them somewhere entirely different.

Generally, I plucked them out like eyebrows,

or I ripped out a whole row and more.

Off with the head

and replaced with a tail!

Maybe an extra wing,

though usually not for long.


You can see why

so many were left on the table,

or why I wasn't very good at making them.

They seldom flew off the workbench,

let alone across the room.

They almost never left the yard

unless I took one to a friend.

They are always kind, my friends.

We laughed sometimes.

Did I mention their voices? 

Yes, they had voices.

I encouraged them to sing

but their range was limited

and vocabulary non-existent beyond a few syllables.

I never could tell what they'd say.


Now they seldom speak to anyone,

silent, patient,

waiting, I suppose, for me to die

so they can fall to the ground

D-Day for Oscar


Because he could not stop for Death —

our cat, age 20 years, 11 months,

kidneys deteriorating for three years —

my wife kindly makes some calls for him

and books Her for 3 p.m. the next day.


Death has always made house calls,

but who knew you could make an appointment

on Sunday with the Great Goddess

of birth, death, and rebirth?

Ever one for surprises, she arrives early.


We aren't expecting her at noon.


We think we have a few more hours

to sit together on the sofa,

birds nattering beyond the windows

open onto early summer.


Death has always been ironic.

But she is kind.


Dr. Jolly tells us she has cats, dogs, a horse

and who knows what else.

Death sympathizes.

She says we are doing the right thing,

giving him a sedative

before putting him under for good.

For his own good,

though he's awake as she probes for a vein.


Death says, Kidney disease affects every part of the body

and can be painful at the end.

Though cats hide pain pretty well.

And we don't want that,

don't want him vomiting foam several times a week

or even in a day as he has here at the end —

he hasn't eaten since Thursday.


I rest my hand on his side as his breathing stops —

8 feet from where it started in the kitchen.

Eyes open.

Cats, Death says, don't close them.


When she leaves, she adds,

If you need me, don't be shy about calling

and drives off in a gray SUV.


No horses and carriage headed for eternity—

If she passes the school or any cornices 

poking from the ground in the cemetery down the road,

I can't say. I can say

no centuries pass.

Time doesn't stop for Her,

leaving empty handed.


He stays with us

in the house he lived his life in,

a gray body motionless on the counter.


Time only stops for us passing through our own black hole.

No more waking us at dawn

or climbing on my shoulders.

His life is over.


But that isn't the end of it