The poetry of Cameron Morse


Back in the exam room, Lili undresses
from the waist down and wraps her
bare bottom in an apron. When the nurse
asks her to hop up on the table,
she heaves her stomach, the nosecone

of a carrier plane. Her feet lift into the stirrups.
How needless the nurses were
those first few mornings that I leapt
from my second bed behind the steel door
of St. Luke’s radiation chamber, a room

plastered with decorative ravens.
My 30 doses, like these 40 weeks, flew by.
Afterwards I hobbled like an octogenarian,
leaning on the girl
I married. Lili walked me back to the lobby,

her hand cupping my elbow.
She may not make it back for another visit.
Cramp, cramp, cramp,
Dr. Moreno says, her fingers rooting
around in Lili’s vagina, stripping
membranes. Eighty percent effacement,
dilation: 2-3. Lili’s face clamps.
After the exam, she swing her legs
over the table’s edge. I offer her my hand.




Smoothed surfaces of snow contain sparkling crystals
like a parking lot of shattered glass, a bottle of sparkling
cider smashed in the parking lot
of my son’s first Christmas. Behold! unto us a child is given.

Unto an immigrant and a cancer patient,
a child is born. My wife and I bear witness to a new life
between us, a renewal of her blood
infused with mine: His blood, at the pediatrician’s office,

runs down his thigh. We bear witness.
Our ears ring as his cries reach the pitch of an unbridled scream.
Gusts of wind smooth
the surfaces of snow on Christmas, sculpting ghosts

out of thin air, holy ghosts in the wind. Green grass bristles
in my boot prints. When I saw his head part
the bloody lips of her vagina, I bore witness to my own son
in unbelief.

He flopped out in an instant after hours of hard labor, an extraterrestrial conehead, wrinkled and stillborn
purple. Cows could not have added greater mystery
to the labor room.

On Christmas, junipers sprinkle their powdered sugar.
A shawl of snow rests upon the shoulders of an angel in the statuary
Of a neighbor’s lawn. I am Joseph. She is Mary.
Our son’s name is Theo.

Cameron Morse taught and studied in China. Diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014, he is currently a third-year MFA candidate at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and lives with his wife Lili and newborn son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. His poems have been or will be published in over 100 different magazines, including New Letters, Bridge Eight, South Dakota Review, I-70 Review and TYPO. Check out his first collection, Fall Risk, fromGlass Lyre Press.


  1. Cameron Morse’s “Nativity” pleased me with its echoes of Bible verses and carols mixed into contemporary living, slicing snow serenity and feelings of isolation with a baby’s wails, the stark reality of blood, and newborn connection. My favorite lines were “sculpting ghosts out of thin air, holy ghosts in the wind” and “a shawl of snow rests upon the shoulders of an angel in the sanctuary” and “On Christmas, junipers sprinkle their powdered sugar.”


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