Jeffrey Morgan

Next Gen Trust Exercise

We invented a new kind of loneliness—
not even the wind could touch us.
But they said it wasn’t new,
that nothing was,
those fools in Accounting,
their tongues pressed right up to
the brink of their mouths
like red pens ready
for their lover the ledger.
So we invented a new kind of nothing.
And among the many things it was:
a bowl of stone fruit from long extinct trees,
a thematic map of heaven,
sloppy lightning in the hippocampus of someone’s brother—
complete with a never-before-seen angle
from which to view his falling—
there was still so much more
that it wasn’t.
Still they did not believe.
They emphasized their lack of faith
by using a phrase,
that euphemism for the afterlife,
the bottom line.
We were, quite literally, beside ourselves.
Sometimes the sky is a wordless language
both meaningful and bereft,
an ornate feat of athleticism
devoid of movement.
It is a place that is not a place
at which we aim our questions.
These are actual things that we said to them.
They said nothing.
It was unpleasant
like listening to someone chew
or waiting for your thumbprint to prove
you are you. Verb tense should not
end our lives,
but it did.
And then, slowly at first, they began
dotting the black pen high up on the page
where profit lives.
Were it a knife you would say “chiffonade.”
Were it love you would say “maybe.”
Careful taps at first, and then more
and more rapidly, until all other noise,
past, present, and future
was swallowed by the rain.


Jeffrey Morgan is author of Crying Shame and The Last Note Becomes Its Listener, winner of the Mind’s on Fire Prize. These poems are part of a work-in-progress about personae and empathy. Poems in the series have appeared in Copper Nickel, The Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, Slice, Verse Daily, West Branch, etc.