Poems by Mia Pearson-Loomis & Benjamin Morris
I Asked the Cicada
by Mia Pearson-Loomis
Does it hurt To break free From childhood? Is fresh air The reason You scream? You remember the dirt, Cold and damp, Blocking out the sun. Those long egg years Without warmth or affection, Just darkness and thickening skin, Until the nympholeptic drumming Inside your quasi modo mind Propelled you, finally, into the trees, Where like the risen Christ You emerged from your flesh, Winged and iridescent, Beautiful And lonely.
Mia Pearson-Loomis is an emerging poet living in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she was born and raised. She is descended from a long line of Tennesseans, dating back to the 1800s. Her work draws connections between a present identity and familial past that at first glance appear to be in direct opposition. In addition to telling her own story, she tells the story of modern-day Tennessee via freeform odes to the people she has met throughout her almost 30 years of living in Knoxville. She has self-published two e-books and has had poetry featured in Deep South Magazine and The Pigeon Parade Quarterly. You can keep up with her on her website.
Highway 29 (De Soto National Forest)
by Benjamin Morris
April. For these few weeks the azaleas along my shoulder are in bloom: bright pinks, shocks of orange, cream. But do not think as you skirt my curves that beauty will save you from the truth. Stop. Park your car. Follow me down a silent forest path, the soft straw underneath cushioning your step like all your cherished notions of the past. Allow me to show you to a level plain, a nearby stream, a patch of dirt that yields a sherd of clay, a broken part, a serrated edge whose day of slaughter neither you nor I can name. Feel your fear of time begin to blossom. Wonder whether history has a bottom.
A native of Mississippi, Benjamin Morris is the author of one book of nonfiction and two prior books of poetry, most recently Ecotone (Antenna/Press Street Press, 2017). His work has appeared in such places as The Oxford American, Southern Review and Lithub, and he has received fellowships from the Mississippi Arts Commission, Tulane University and A Studio in the Woods. Morris won the 2021 Words & Music Writing Competition for Poetry, judged by Aimee Nezhukumathatil. He lives in New Orleans, where he serves as one of the coordinators for the New Orleans Poetry Festival. Read his previous poem in Deep South here.