i imagine the sun peering through a barred window,
horizontally hitting your face,
imagine you’re thinking about everything and nothing,
not counting the days in the calendar
when you will be able to walk out of confinement
like you are finally walking out of the block /the hood/

before they put you in those black and white strips
or the orange,
or grey uniform,
what i knew of you was so cool, no crisis, no crook,
but a compassion the whole family loved to circle around
and even though we lived poles apart,
you outside the city limit, and me in it,
when i saw you, your energy
permeated me long after i left.
guess that’s what made you such a down ass dude,
people feeling cuffed to your purity/you double edge sword/

sometimes i look out my vertical blinds,
imagine those are cell bars for me.
Lord knows more than just my house is filthy,
glow in the dark guilt on my body,
dirt prints tracked over my closet door,
skeletons i’ve been trying to strangle with barb wire
way before you were born.

suppose i know how to draw a better line in the sand?

brother to brother, i know felony ain’t your lane,
love is, a love that will give me a run for my money.
bottom line is:
aint nobody on this earth clean enough,
we all belong behind some type of bar
for the scars we leave on people,
for the margins we put them in,
for the lines we cross.

so may these bars mean
we are more parallel than anything.


Poet and theater instructor Oak Morse was born and raised in Georgia.He was the winner of the 2017 Magpie Award for Poetry in Pulp Literature as well as a Semi-Finalist for the 2020 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Awarded the 2017 Hambidge Residency, Oak’s work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Indianapolis Review, Star 82 Review, Menacing Hedge, Nonconformist Mag, Gone Lawn, and elsewhere. Oak has a B.A. in Journalism from Georgia State University and he currently lives in Houston, Texas where he teaches creative writing and performance and leads a youth poetry troop, The Phoenix Fire-Spitters.