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Two Poems

By Justin Morgan


When I am dead

they will excavate

the rooms of my house

to unearth me in an artifact

in fingerprints still intact

on a pair of goggles,

a box of LPs,

a game of Scrabble

on a closet shelf.

They’ll find a bit of DNA

on a Bible & an old guitar,

a strand of hair

on a flannel shirt.

But then they’ll discover

my retainers & wonder

if I wore them all my life

out of fear or duty

& if they were ever properly cleaned

given their crusty wires.

They’ll question their age

& how long their little yellow case

sat beside the sink. They’ll calculate

dimensions to measure the decibels

of the lisp the thick palate

gave my tongue,

guess & conjecture

all sorts of theories

& come up still empty.

Nevertheless, they will know

with absolute certainty

that I had lived, & died,

with beautiful, straight teeth.


From my little table

at the cocktail bar,

I wonder what it must’ve been like

all those years ago

when they were still in the business

of bread-making—

to see their twelve wooden blades

circling round & round,

their millstones grinding wheat & barley

while women on rooftops

hang clothes on a line

& fishermen eat oysters

by the water’s edge.

Now, four centuries later,

tourists in their sun hats & khakis

encircle them like ants around a sugar cube,

taking selfies beside their quiet, white-washed bellies.

The waitress refills my glass

& asks where I’m from,

& I tell her Virginia, which,

ironically, is also her name,

her father once a bishop

in a town just south of Richmond.

And as she turns away

I grin at the memory

of how from the pulpit of my sailboat

a few hours earlier

I saw them standing atop the hill

like fat little monks,

white-robed, scalp-shaven,

chanting hymns to God in heaven

of how everything is praise—

the salt, the lobsters,

the pebbles in the sand—

yes, even those five old windmills

like clergymen cloistered above the Aegean,

officiating the marriage

of the sky & sea.

Justin Morgan teaches at Central Virginia Community College and is working on an MFA in Writing at Lindenwood University. His work has appeared in Eleutheria, Revolute, LAMP, and other journals. He lives in Lynchburg, VA, with his wife and three kids.

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