The National Poetry Review

Darren Morris

WARRENTON

It’s a thing not worth thinking anymore. But there was a time I defended a woman
from a few words in a crowd,

from something I was and could have, I suppose, let go. As if it were nothing more
than a piece of trash floating downriver.

But she had heard it, so to ignore it, or to pretend not to have heard myself,
would have defiled us both.

And may have kept me from knowing her body for the last flickering frames of our childhoods. I
think it could not happen now

not with any measure of success. But that’s just me losing faith in the now, or
the now losing faith in me. Yet back in the day

it might have been praised with mud and blood in the mouth. Then a song could be joyous and
violent, or as much as it needed to be.

And I could turn a head with a tone. I could take a man by his shirt collar and wring up some
fear. No guns or knives unsheathed.

I held him and he held me. I miss him now at least as much as the girl. More perhaps. But I
relented, for they were staying there.

In Missouri. And I pitied them. They who took me by the throat. They who drew me close and
knew me best and set me apart.


DARREN MORRIS received an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a fellowship from Virginia Commission for the Arts. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, North American Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, The Missouri Review, Best New Poets, and many others. His fiction has appeared at Passages North, The Pinch, and The Legendary, among others. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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