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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

red line drawn on parchment paper

By: James Morehead

i hold the last sheet of parchment paper

firmly between my fingers

the edge sharp

cut clean

its surface slightly coarse

tinted spanish gray

the latch is snug but with a determined


i swing the mahogany box open

revealing a fountain pen filled for confessions

with jet-black ink

i start with today’s date knowing any mistake

will force me to begin again

with nothing to write on but

plain white stock

so I compose with deliberation

pausing between each phrase

rehearsing out loud

my voice echoing through the




i write in fluid script

now that your shadow is all that remains

i wander past empty rooms in the waking hours

and so on until both sides are full

i set down my pen

fold the paper in perfect threes

and run my fingertips along the edge too quickly

for a moment the echoes cease

as i wait for the line of red to appear

and drip and blur my signature

until only a silhouette remains


James Morehead is Poet Laureate of Dublin, California. "canvas: poems” is his debut collection, and he hosts the Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast. James' poem "tethered" was transformed into an award-winning hand drawn animated short film, "gallery" was set to music for baritone and piano, and his poems have appeared in Wingless Dreamer, Prometheus Dreaming and Prompt Press. “These are poems to be savored, re-read, kept handy for those times when only poetry will do.” - W. J. T. Mitchell, Senior Editor of Critical Inquiry and Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor, English and Art History, University of Chicago

"The poem was inspired by a paper cut while writing an old school, on paper, handwritten letter to a friend. That was the starting point - just about everything else is pure invention. I'm working on a chapbook of poems with macabre twists as a way of doing something different from my most recent book, "portraits of red and gray", which was a collection of memoir poems. I enjoy surprising friends with the occasional handwritten card or letter, and I thought about someone, all alone and perhaps forgotten, with those letters as the only connection to the outside world."


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