top of page

Cecil Morris

Mermaid on the Rocks

she will not remember

this morning tomorrow

she will not remember

in her Ambien daze

she became a mermaid

her legs fused

her flopping on tile floor

in hall out of water

and crying

her eyes closed

her tangled hair

spreading like kelp

around her head

a presence over her


hands peel back her skin

without pain

and prize her one leg into two

then roll skin back up her legs

without pain

a voice from above

lift your hips now

she has been caught

transformed again

and she cries more

her naked shoulders


against cold tile

her pale breasts


her head rolling

side to side

on its bed of kelp

tears dropping

from closed eyes

into the rocks

she will not remember

this tomorrow

after that happened to her

after that she became the sound of doors

clunking closed down the hall, a hollow

final distant click-clunk outside the class,

loud but far, something cutting off escape

and sealing air inside to divide her

from all the not her elsewhere in the school

after that she became the sandstone shade

semi gloss painted on the classroom walls

and down the halls, the faintest not at all

brown but not quite white, the color that

disappeared behind announcements and posters,

the color that watched other lives pass by

after that she changed from puppy to cat—

to watcher from window sill, to lurker,

to feline presence that could shrink itself

to box or bag or basket, to close safe

spaces where her stillness could curl itself

and observe the re-runs of daily life

after that she transformed to subsonic

super speed hummingbird's iridescent

flight that darts and disappears in trees,

that retreats in limb shadow and leaf rustle,

that hides itself in sudden shifts, in small

bursts of dusky feathers there then gone

after that she became a stone and sank

right to the bottom, right to the shadows,

where light came as yellowish wavering

ripples that slid across her then let her

disappear again, a rock, silent

and motionless, alone in deep water

Abandon in the Library: A Fantasia

The day the salesman came to demonstrate

advances in cataloging software

and sturdiness of library furniture,

I discovered how my colleague loved tattoos

between hemline and neck, from cuff to cuff,

a female analog to Bradbury’s illustrated man,

and all of hers on that day a single

breathless, athletic story in beautiful,

eye-opening performance, one extended O

of exhilaration, and, before I knew

what came over me, I too was nude,

my birthmark revealed in undulant writhing

glory and on my lips the salty thrill

of Kama Sutra exertions and that tome

we kept behind the circulation desk

was out and on display by special request.

We moved together mindfully through poses

like flexible, ardent yoga acolytes,

like acrobats in tantric harmony.

We shushed no one and heard no shushings,

no inhibition’s censorship, no fear

of judgment’s hissing sibilation the day

my love of library science renewed itself

and glowed, a newly translated Dead Sea scroll,

an old truth discovered anew again,

and all the sacred yearnings of the spirit

were embodied most fully and truly

and everywhere was the Library of Congress

and adequate funding was had by all.

Somewhere between Two Bad Places

On the eve of spring our daughter

slipped into darkness one last time

and pulled after her the rosebuds

and last low rain clouds and their rain.

She sighed a thin, exhausted breath

and went, too, a winter weak, tired,

bereft and finally done with gloom,

with frost and fear and windy slice.

She swallowed all the shades of pink

from hint of blush to sunset streak.

She folded all her dreams (and ours)

like childhood clothes she had outgrown

and could not wear. We watched her pack

those dreams (and some unrealistic hopes)

in dark green garbage bags for us

to haul to St. Vincent de Paul’s

donation center when she went.

Now, when we see someone like our

daughter dressed, she flickers somewhere

between jealousy and regret.


Cecil Morris retired after 37 years of teaching high school English, and now he tries writing himself what he spent so many years teaching others to understand and (he hopes) to enjoy. He has been trying to learn the names of all the birds that visit the yard he shares with his patient partner, the mother of their children. He has poems appearing or forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, New Verse News, Rust + Moth, The Sugar House Review, Willawaw Journal, and elsewhere.

and elsewhere.


bottom of page