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Alexander Morgan

Birth Pains


after “Birth Marks” by Jim Daniels



Mother was confounded by Chinese, but not

by French. She ordered au jus

for its je ne sais quoi. She savored the injury of 

I Didn’t Ask For Any Of This. 


My father had the guile of a gopher 

tunneling schemes for glory

and the follow-through

of a sunning rattler. 


Mother opened her purse

to count out every penny.

Daddy used silver dollars to hint 

he hung with Jay Gatsby.  


He boiled down to a big-talking dreamer,

and she the girl whose typing fed them,

a conjugation of the Great Depression. 


Yet, on their Salvation Army kitchen table,

they dislodged enough pennies and silver

to upend me, confused by the yelling.


I write my mother’s version

and tell it like memory.


What else with her carbon-paper-stained fingers,

his helium dreams?

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