Jessica Morey-Collins


Zone everything. Prohibit the over-cold, the low-laying
and vulnerable. Buffer each tendril of the watershed
and buffer your loved ones with great care not to
buffer your love. When thinking of the tundra
                                                      rest your mind
               on successively less desperate organisms—
polar bears may only hold your attention
for so many seconds, lest the Arctic’s
greening and the musk of unfrozen mud
work its way up your ankles.
Do not think of albedo. Do not think
of life as a succession of leavings. Draw
flow diagrams—land’s hazards curve
with the earth’s contours, land’s hazards
have their own gravities. Prohibit the over-dry,
the eroded coast. Build back from the cliff face
                                                      and factor beauty
               as a colluder with risk. Do not list your lovers
or wonder pointedly whether they think of you; do not
drink away your fear of dying alone. Do not think
about sunk costs, or how ponderously the man-
made habitat has expanded around you, how
roadsound hums you, now, to sleep.


We wanted to feed
every mange-crusted mutt

in Rosarito until so many licked
our greasy fingers

we knew
we’d have to feed them of ourselves
if we were to ease

any hunger at all. I came
into your life already proclaiming
myself difficult to love

betraying my belief
that love is difficulty.

Jessica Morey-Collins received her MFA from the University of New Orleans, where she won an Academy of American Poets award, and worked as associate poetry editor for Bayou Magazine. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Sycamore Review, and elsewhere. She currently studies hazard mitigation in the University of Oregon’s Masters of Community and Regional Planning program. Find her at