The Names of Clouds

Windy December evening, sun
down-faced in a welter

of denuded limbs, a twiggy mangle
of treetops, arouses a desire

to learn the names of clouds.
Adults are fixated upon the horizon,

you say. My son spades the pebbly soil
while the nameless clouds blur,

twisting in the stratosphere
their alto nimbus cirri

twists? Tufts? Wooly clumps.
When Theo panics about the little

stones in his shoes, I cup each
heel and flip him clear.

The traffic along Duncan falls
into the trance of hush,

hush, hush. The sun buries
its face in the tree’s dark bosom,

the tree of knowledge or the tree
of life is anybody’s guess.



Something like the smell
of sunscreen suggests the swimming
pool of my boyhood
on another pesticidal morning

toward the waning end
of June as July, the month of the move,
the scheduled closing, closes in,
the fees as yet unknown.

What will it cost to own a house of my own,
what gain, this ownership? Again
Augustine rolling and turning
on my chain chooses the conventicle
over the affianced bride and I wish
things were so clear-cut for me:

Catastrophe one way, tautology the other.
An inchworm swings by the thread
of its would-be cocoon. Light grabs the green
shoulders of its photosynthesizing children.

Since birth I have chosen. I have planted
my stake my seed. I have seeded
and steaded and selved myself here, belonging only
to this infestation of ants. This dead smell about
the garbage can doubtless is
the fledgling that fell in before it
could fly out and called for God knows
how long for rescue.


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 latest is Baldy (Spartan Press, 2020). He lives with his wife Lili and two children in Blue Springs, Missouri, where he serves as poetry editor for Harbor Review. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.