Last Flight Before the Burial

Cameron Morse


A misty jet whites out my porthole, deicing
the plated fin of the airbus sitting like a beached orca
on the tarmac, leaving the oblong lens
flecked and runny. We swivel into a straight shot
down the runway. The white ceiling
of our plastic cabin swags above us. As jouncing rubber
wheels give up the ground below. We rollick
into the stratosphere. Theo strains to sit forward.
I relax into freefall.

Shutters down, shafts of florescent light
brighten the dim cylinder of armchairs. Screens buzz
and unfold. Theo sprawls in my lap,
head flopped against my bicep. Lili’s head sinks
into my shoulder blade. Behind me,
men hawk words like loogies. I feel the bird buoy
giddily in my seat. Its white noise, inside
of a vacuum cleaner roar, lulls us all.
Theo twitches in his sleep. I adjust my hold.

Flight attendants in pink pantsuits proffer dumplings.
Sun beats down melanomas on the steel-plated
fins of this aircraft that carries us living toward the dead man
who drank himself to death despite warnings
he was unable to heed, harkening to the earthen
jug of home-brewed rotgut in early morning
dark devotee beside the cast-iron stove
where no one could say a word.
No one could complain.    


Cameron Morse was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri--Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New Letters, Bridge Eight, Portland Review and South Dakota Review. His first poetry collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press's 2018 Best Book Award. His three subsequent collections are Father Me Again (Spartan Press, 2018), Coming Home with Cancer (Blue Lyra Press, 2019), and Terminal Destination (Spartan Press, 2019). He lives with his pregnant wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri, where he manages Inklings' FOURTH FRIDAYS READING SERIES with Eve Brackenbury and serves as poetry editor for Harbor Review. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.

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