The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Mary Morris

Train to Rome


I was twenty-two, a passenger in a box car bearing down the tracks, chewing black cherries, rewriting the seven deadly sins, applying Pomodoro lipstick, drinking grappa. I wore red stilettos, tight jeans, a lace bustier, and racehorse sweat. I don’t remember the details, but I smoldered off that train, drifted into the Vatican, past the Bernini doors, Fra Angelico’s, and Giotto’s tryptych—into the wing of the Pieta, spellbound by marble bodies, mother and son in the light, visceral, veins beneath their flesh of stone. The arch of his neck in the nest of her arm. How resigned she was to grief and how my life was not, not yet. A large crowd had gathered. It seemed prophets hunkered among us. I peered into the cracked door of the future, sorrow and its fierce latitudes.



Mary Morris

Sharm El Sheikh


Darling, when I think of how we nearly went to Sharm El Sheikh, plotting the trip, unfolding the crinkled maps in bed, it’s as if we really did go on that journey. After the pyramids of course, where you held me against the cool stone wall entombed with kings and queens dead for a thousand years. And how then we entered the water of Sharm El Sheikh, its envelope of blue, so warm I swam the backstroke out to sea. Remember the anemone and clown fish, the waves causing them to sway back and forth in the current? And the moon jellyfish that stung so badly I spent the rest of the day swollen in bed? And then the bombing. And how everything closed and no one swam. No food or fresh water. No flights. Let’s don’t go back to that place we never left for. Let’s look at maps on our bodies at home. Let’s pull the comforter up and travel again.



Mary Morris

Triad For the Body


1.  Self


Written in shadow—X-rays dipped through the light.

Footnotes of organs plotted by nuclear medicine.


2.  Illness


The oncologist says the tumor possesses hair and teeth. 

What is it?  He asks. 


Names it:  my little friend. 

Nights, he calls it:  Enemy.  Intelligentsia.


The mutation breaks into the body of his home

through seven sacred openings—


its heat ducts and sockets, vestibule

and transept, mouth of a chalice.


Mephisto stalks by the night window

steals his food, burns the field.


I find him disappearing in the vast countryside

of his bed but for two blue ocean eyes


and the oxygen tank,

a whispering lung.


I will fear no evil.


3.  Cadaver


Sketching impressions

in a notebook of mirror writing,


DaVinci secretly examined them

by six candles through the night.




MARY MORRIS has published poems in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, The Columbia Review, and Quarterly West.  Her first book, Enter Water, Swimmer will be published by Texas Review Press in Spring 2018. She lives in Santa Fe, NM.



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