The Bad Parts

Cameron Morse


When Grandma lumbered up from the basement
wearing nothing but brassiere to clothe
her warted skin, her liver-spotted breasts, 
my sister and I hid in the attic and held our breaths. 

The doorknob clicked, her veined hand
shaking with Parkinson’s, unable to turn it. 
Immodest, we called her, in the parlance
of a household in which Dad edited 

even partial nudity out of our favorite movies. 
VHS cassettes burst into the static of sex. 
Blizzards of black and white dots lasted
for however long it took them to do 

what they did in their birthday suits. 
Otherwise, we hid our eyes as commanded. 
We ran out of the room, hid in the attic. 
During blackouts, we lit candles that cast weird

grimacing shadows over each other’s faces. 
We wandered the dark rooms, whisking
our flaming wicks across window panes, 
imagining the dark form of a stranger.



Cameron Morse taught and studied in China. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2014, he is currently an MFA candidate at UMKC and lives with his wife, Lili, in Blue Springs, Missouri. His poems have been or will be published in over 30 different magazines, including Otis NebulaThe Blackstone Review and TYPO. Visit his Facebook page for more information.