J.R. Solonche has published poetry in more than 500 magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s, including The New Criterion, The New York Times, The Threepenny Review, The American Scholar, The Progressive, Poetry Northwest, Salmagundi, The Literary Review, The Sun, The American Journal of Poetry, Poet Lore, Poetry East, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and Free Verse. He is the author of numerous books including The Five Notebooks of Zhao Li (Adelaide Books), Life-Size (Kelsay Books), and Selected Poems 2002-2021 (nominated for the National Book Award by Serving House Books), and co-author with his wife Joan I. Siegel of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He is Professor Emeritus of English at SUNY Orange and lives in the Hudson Valley.
The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by J.R. Solonche and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The Girl Who Answered The Phone
The girl who answered the phone
at the plumbing contractor said
I sounded like a happy person, and she
liked that. “Well,” I said. “I’m happy
that you think I sound like a happy
person and are happy about it. But
I have to tell you something. I’m not
a happy person.” “Really?” she said.
“How come?” “I’m a poet. Poets
aren’t happy people,” I said. “I don’t
know any poets, so I couldn’t say one
way or another. But you do sound happy.
You really do.” She laughed. “You sound
like a happy poet.” “That’s an oxymoron,”
I said. “What’s an ox-ee-mor-on?” She
stopped laughing. “An oxymoron is
a phrase with an adjective and a noun
that don’t agree. They contradict one
another,” I said. “Jumbo shrimp is a
good example.” “Or a sad clown? Is that
an oxymoron?” “Yes,” I said. “That’s
a really good one.” “Well,” she said.
“I still think you sound like a happy
person, or poet or whatever you are.
And I still like it.” “Me, too,” I said.
Then I made the appointment for the
plumber just like any happy person would.
Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is The Thing Is (Briar Creek Press, 2021). He holds an MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and (soon, three) children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.
The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Cameron Morse and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
December sweats in south
west wind. Breathy
splotches of mouth water
deceive us into thinking it rained
on the asphalt. Little swarms
awaken at sunset, white balls
of fire. Terribly mistaken,
I’m so sorry, a possum
caught crossing the tracks
delivers only its head, its put-out
tongue to the other side, neck
stretched homeward. I duck
under a branch and climb up
the rocky slide after my boy.
Dogged in the pursuit of a lost
railroad spike. Only robbers
in sight, we listen for the train.
We come into ourselves by such
slow degrees, shadows that lengthen
while we sleep. Omi studies me
darkly: This hack is not the man
who dropped me into the crib
before I slept but almost the man.
I wait for my daughter to recognize
whose hand, whose naughty
fingers animate the breakdancing
giraffe Jerry who needs to go
to jail sometimes for breaking house rules
that I made and lurch toward an armpit.
Kierkegaard had it right about
the large red chops of my beard
in the bathroom sink, what the mask
reveals: I was the pirate king.
Says It All
I am close to death.
Close enough to touch
the screen. The error message
says: Good morning.