You Didn’t Hear This From Me – Chris Morgan

The Giant Baby

“The city is overrated,”
is easier to say once the city is flat.
Leaving aside those jutting rungs,
steel scaffolds, graffitied plaster walls
spared by the swinging chubby arms
of otherwise certain annihilation.
They are spires of civic mourning
to be sobbed upon by citizens now
with fewer things to do
and fewer places to be.

The bodega is still there:
the last bodega on Earth.
First an immortal castle,
beaming uplift and defiance.
Second a futile tomb,
for those whose shelves, shower,
and potted plants splay like a throttled beast
onto the stoop and just over the curb.

My voice forms a rushing river
drowning Child Services in levels of panic
and resentment heretofore unknown.
I call in the morning—busy signal.
I call while scrounging for canned goods—
“Maneater” on a loop.
They call back days later—
or weeks later. Who knows?

“The genesis of and reason for
the giant baby,” the recording goes,
“has eluded our training.
The Administration for Children’s Services
apologizes for the inconvenience.
As compensation, and at the expense of the state,
please bring your dogs to the nearest
designated center for humane euthanasia.
DO NOT use a hammer or a gun.”
“Dancing Queen” followed by dial tone.

A columnist clacks on a screenless laptop.
“The giant baby is a symbol.
A symbol of our yearning for something more,
something greater, something brighter.
Reply all. Reply all. Reply all. Reply all …”
A pastor yaps before empty pews.
“The giant baby is a manifestation
of collective denial of humility
and our embrace of decadence.
Repent. Repent. Repent. Repent …”

The columnist and the pastor
argue by degrees of magnitude so trivial
they hold hands and kiss,
and self-immolate on a pedal boat.
The manifestations of the giant baby’s diaper
are not getting any smaller.

Someone forgot to tell the tourists
that there is no there there.
Maybe they just didn’t bother to listen.
A lady in a muumuu and a sun hat
aligns her camera down Seventh Avenue,
statuesque against the ever-strengthening vibrations.
Her eyes gleam as she compares the filter options.
“Oh how ador—”


Photo Evidence

The red house rested on spiky yellow grass
flaked with projectile nails, gravel, and glass.
Beer cans and a soleless shoe
fortressed the sewage drain
against a collapsed dome of brown leaves and black water.
The broken front window left by the other boys
welcomed you home,
neither knowing nor caring if you had ever left.

Light from the room upstairs
flickered in blue and throbbed in white.
It poured down the steps from under the door
as if to flee the swaying force of the shape—
her shape—leaving circles on the floorboards
and a stain on the walls
resistant to all bleaches, corrosives, and whitewash,
despite efforts of increasing fervency.

Empty frames hung at angles
fit for the photo evidence of the life you hadn’t lived.
Where the window was unbroken,
and the boys became cops on some invisible island.
And that smile—her smile—was a work of art.
The only art you would see; it being your turn to never get out alive.
The red house is still a red house—
red is red in spite of us.


Overheard at a Diner at 1:47 AM


“Why is it

that when you eat a bagel

with Skittles and cream cheese,

people think it’s ‘charming.’

But when I do it,

people think it’s ‘unsettling’?”

“I think it’s because 

I am a talking bunny,”

said the talking bunny.

“And you are a floating torso.

You get blood everywhere;

and it’s not very fashionable.”

“I wonder,” mused the floating torso,

“if fashion will change.”

“Blood or bagels?” 

asked the talking bunny.

“I bet you’d like to know that,”

the floating torso laughed most bloodily.


Blood Moon


“You are the worst,

most useless boyfriend

in all of mankind.

When the earth finally

swallows you whole

you will give it indigestion,”

she yelled to the moon, 

while I waited in the car

and ate the last, coldest fries from Hardee’s.


The Rose King

Roses the size of a child’s fist,
or of a very small man’s,
bloom on command
and sway their stems
in rhythmic waves
for my personal delight.
Extracting my deepest mercy
and benevolence like precious ore.

In this economy I buy roses in bulk;
filling every room in my house
with the shades of every stage of life.
I lay my favorites petal-facing at my feet,
in concentric circles of pink, red, and green.
I swear they squeak between my toes
in unprovoked rosy raptures.