Rhythms: Poems by Peggy Morrison

Peggy Morrison is a California writer who grew up in Long Beach, then raised her daughter, Keema, in Watsonville while working as a bilingual teacher. She now lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Her poetry has been published in Cloud Woman Quarterly, riverbabble, Poecology, Let the World Wonder, Naked Bulb Anthology, Day Without Art, DoorKnobs & BodyPaint. She is author of one book of poetry: Mom Says (2020) Along with writing, Peggy loves reading, teaching, gardening, music, and backpacking.

ironclad box

We are this country in a cultural box

cast iron thick and immobile

individualistic/tragically separate/competitive

We can’t find our way to simple collective action

for the common good

in the most fundamental, easy to understand moment,

when it is life and death, a plague, a biological, physical

plague that threatens our communal existence,

it is impossible for us to sense

ourselves as collective beings

to take the simple collective act of self-preservation

of wearing masks against the plague

It’s inconceivable for us in this cast iron

brother against brother agression

this nation beyond the pale

extremists on the edge of human experience

exceptionalism is the bullshit

we’re eating and spewing

in lieu of simple common sense


Whole Cloth

All humanity shares a planet being devastated by greed

As in the dystopian novels, small numbers of us

mostly white

are protected from suffering the consequences of our actions

while those of us who are black and brown carry painful burdens

But no one is safe from the ravages of racism

Knowledge is poisoned

twisted because it is not whole

only by diving deep into the bottomless well of human courage

into the sacred human heart of ancestral wisdoms

can we look into each other’s faces and find the

puzzle pieces to make the warp

whose weft we’ll draw with threads of diverse imagination

to weave the whole cloth

of a more equitable and generous society


This is the wrong house

 I jumped from the bed trying to get away  

crashed my quadriceps full into the corner of the

cedar hope chest

that was my mom’s

felt a deep bruise forming

but nothing is visible

the thigh ordinary flesh

my head hurts and I feel


resources are low

But one has to keep feeling

to make a revolution

can’t shake the sense

that this is the wrong house

not the one I intended

to spend myself building

and yet

where else is home

who is family


Say His Name

(night in Sacramento, March 2018)


Say his name Stephon Clark say his name Stephon Clark

say his name Stephon Clark say his name Stephon Clark

Stephon Clark Stephon Clark

Stephon Clark


We hear them coming

run towards the voices

burning up the street

people of all races most are young black

can’t stop his death

can’t bring him back


there was no microphone

no designated speaker

spontaneous combustion lava flow

a moving human river of grief


we all shout

say his name Stephon Clark say his name

Stephon Clark


Maybe he broke windows with a crowbar

chased by helicopters and sirens

ran to hide in his grandma’s backyard

iphone in hand

the penalty is not death by execution

22 shots fired by police kill the unarmed man


night streets filled with young people

young people getting in the face of the police

yelling inches away from the SWAT team mask

locked into hot confrontation

I was afraid what could happen

wanted to protect them

wanted to diffuse violence

trembling, I stood near

the young black men shouting righteous anger

glistening planes of working cheek and jaw

white cop CHP spiked with weapons

ground his teeth staring at them his face rock hard

I thought if I stood there the police

would be less likely to hurt them

I didn’t have words don’t know if he saw

I stood close to the young men

shoulders touching

trembling heart

anger and grief


Stephon Clark

say his name

Stephon Clark