Jeffrey Morgan


I wake to prime numbers written in blue ink on my forearms.
The television’s sparkling reflection selling in the glaze
of her eyes the snow storm that will keep us.
How long have I been asleep?
I remember tendencies and sentiment of form:
"Words like pieces of topaz." Minutes/hours/days/years ago the glint
Of all of Eighth Street stocking up at Gristedes. Supple glare ringing off
White tile                        shovel blades                   excited teeth
Thinning to this deliberate process.
This is the shadow of the atomic bomb? Half-life moon. Seepage.
Sunlight coppering collar bones. My grandfather dropping
The star from our name: Morganstern. Orange gears of horizon.
When someone says: the double meaning of morning.
We’ve been told things and so we tell others.



"How Word is Passed" began as part of collaboration with the artist Jitesh Malik who often works with light. The poem was my attempt to smash (smush?) issues of family identity (mine) together with family history (as construct). Both are myths that men in particular are invested in. My former family name Morganstern (Morningstar), an identifiably Jewish name, was changed before I was born to Morgan (unidentifiable as Jewish) for reasons that still cause friction among some of my relatives. One family member once jokingly claimed that our name Morgan was Welsh. Not funny Anyway, some people want the issue "dropped" and some don't. I don't. (When I was nineteen I tattooed the star on my right shoulder.) For me, light images are the stable that allow unstable elements in the poem to work.