Poetry Trauma

2 Poems by Joshua Morley

The Warm Spandex of Wonder

Before picking your words like peanuts between chopsticks because you worry

that you can never clear the fog, crack the shell that has immured your mind,

your words interned within a ribcage of twine. Before you ever needed to hand 

a shrink your peanuts because they were the offspring of your heart’s kiln and 

before there could be a dying fire, vacillating fire, convolving fire, a vortex, no fire,

held in the cells of your seeds and laid bare by suave attentive shoveling. Deft,

snoopy, unnerving. An inculcated effortlessness in your therapist’s facility, their

muscles of facial expression loyal to the truth of their mechanical motility. Call it

operant conditioning, muscle memory. Call them skilled. Call when you need them.

Before burning life into your nerves void of sensitivity. Before breaking your own

heart to feel something. Before the steps of fibrous tissue on your arms weaved a path

that kissed the first gates of heaven, remembered the metallic tango of blade and blood,

remember the transcendence of your mother’s scream into ultrasonic inaudibility

as you watched her and your soul stretched out to her from an elastic leash bound

around your brainstem and produced through your eye socket. Before you blacked out

even. Before your dark-cloud age. And before you started looking in on the outside

Before you learned to lie that you fell and be believed. Before all these, there was a boy

who loved the stars, unbothered, crooned uncalculated songs and delved into the world

with a transparent polythene bag of wonder hugging his eyes like spandex. He was warm.


the half-life of a fast-acting love potion

you fell in love with a boy

       who came alive only at night

        too much of your pills

                               & the receptors amass 

disdain for your panacea,


                           the only constant thing

that is not to say //       too much

         wouldn’t kill you // would kill you

                         wouldn’t kill you //           you really don’t know

how to love the same

       person // everyday

                 too much // would kill you // wouldn’t kill you

your boy put all of his love in a bottle

          &         only sees you when he drinks

&         his eyes—

he // & you withdraw // to repress

       your tolerance to love

you fell in love with the boy

who only came online at night


Joshua Morley, 18, is a Nigerian writer, artist, and undergrad student at the University of Ibadan whose works explore mental illness, identity and queerness. When not observing the motions of things with personal abilities of clairvoyance, Morley can be found making music or visual art. Or sleeping.