Jessica Morey-Collins

2018, Poetry


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

Jessica Morey-Collins

2015, Poetry


Before our corneas got so dense, we slept
with basil leaves across our eyelids.

We soaked the leaves, spread them wet
           against each eye-lashed seam.

Night dried the basil, scented
our hallways sweet. Sunrise would find
           that moon had sucked the basil dry.


           Our eyes were supple, prone
to dust—immune to blue
           but little else: sense

an armor’s cleft where light seeped.
Visual information, rain collected: continuous
drips fixed all in-routes

through crenels, settled data in the lowest
depressions. Clues were fluid

           enough to haunt
           our hollow spaces,

then, our skull’s many basins
and conduits pooled with color.
           Dark was no ruin, for us.


Every morning, the leaves crackled away.
Only centuries would reveal
the wounded blue of sea.



For a wasp trapped between a window and a screen
two worlds, in tandem, taunt. Nothing I understand
haunts me, Ruefle writes. It’s the instant
of transmutation that laughs from the dark.

Once, my eyes slid open from a lake bottom.
I called and called to myself but heard no answer.
While vast pre-histories crawled through the water
and clung to intruding root systems,
                   each truth of mine gave steadily

way to another. I howled awake, sense
wedged like a seed between my teeth.

Since then, I clatter in the instant between—
ping against glass, screen.

                   Screen and glass together, taut.
                   The wasp flings its joints and bones
                   over and over into both—testing, testing.


Jessica Morey-Collins is an MFA student at the University of New Orleans, where she works as associate poetry editor for Bayou Magazine. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in the North American Review, Vinyl Poetry, ILK Magazine, Pleiades, The Buddhist Poetry Review and elsewhere.