Someone is Breathing by J. Morris


So taken for granted, we hardly know it’s there, the body’s inhale and exhale from first breath to last. In tune with the heart’s beating, whose life breathes us here? Whose laughter, tears, shouts, whispers, night fears? Whose joys, whose sorrows shared? Breathes the hopes we hope for, the regrets we daily bear? Who is it in us suddenly appears? The breath summons itself in each to say. Demands we listen, hear. Bring close your ear. For J. Morris knows, and tells us where . . . Someone Is Breathing.

Category: Tag:


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 100
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: May 2018
  • ISBN:  978-1-948017-05-3


Although “the natural order may not hold the proper model,” J. Morris explores sleep and death, love and folly, in carefully observed seasonal and human terms. We are privileged to hear the urgent, rueful questions inside his “skull-box” and to admire its craft: how starting to prepare is a silent page-turn from “a sort of prayer,” how someone can hear human imperfection “playing for dear life” and then ask, “What is the sound of one hand folding?” Morris gives us a book full of life that can become “part of the skeleton, the articulation of self” for the gravedigger to upturn, for the reader to let sing. —Meredith Bergmann poet, sculptor, Poetry Editor, American Arts Quarterly, 2006-2017

In frank, direct language, J. Morris guides us through familiar domestic realities: marriage and divorce, parental illness and death, middle-age. . . . Unrelenting and honest, and always the poet’s attention to sound. We are called again and again back to the sounds of the world, anchored to them, held by them. —ThomCaraway editor, Rock & Sling, author of What the Sky Lacks



The thrift-store clerk shuffles over,
slaps the boombox. Moments later,
Old School basslines roil the room.
He’s moving off, a spring in his stagger,
eyeing the handful of customers:
Are we getting this? He nods and smiles,
modeling Yes, the kid he was
peeking out from behind the mustache, just knowing
we like Barry White.

Nowadays everyone’s got their own
private soundtrack rattling in their earbuds.
Do sophomores still celebrate
the perfection of spring by yanking up
the dorm windows, hoisting their speakers
onto the sill, then returning
to the stereo, the volume knob,
and blaring the best music
in the world, at the moment,
out onto the heads of helpless passersby? I hope so.
I doubt it. Stereo. See note.

Autotuned cash-pop in the supermarket
isn’t the same. The assistant managers
who make me hear it don’t love it,
don’t care what it makes me feel.
For God’s sake, mean it!
Be Old School, turn it up!
Share your favorite song with me
like a DJ in a thrift store,
the way my neighbor’s baby
crawls across the floor
and hands me a sodden pretzel,
drooling a little, certain of my thanks.


J. MorrisJ. Morris has published fiction and poetry in more than 90 literary magazines in the U.S. and Great Britain, including The Southern Review, Missouri Review, Five Points, Prairie Schooner, Subtropics, Fulcrum, and Poetry East. A first-prize winner in the 2002 Big City Lit poetry contest, his work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and reprinted in Twentieth Century Literary Criticism and Anatomy of a Short Story (Continuum Press). His chapbook, The Musician, Approaching Sleep, appeared in 2006 from Dos Madres Press. A short story collection, When I Snap My Fingers You Will Remember Everything, was published by No Record Press in 2016. His musical project, Mulberry Coach, a collaboration with singer and lyricist Katie Fisher, released its seventh CD in 2017.

Additional information

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in