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Dominic Morrell, three poems


I roll a spiny sweetgum ball between my fingers,

growing used to the dulled pricks,

as I sit, cross-legged, on a concrete manhole.

I know this grove well, these fifty trees,

trails beaten down by construction equipment

and reclaimed by poison ivy and oak,

planted long ago to hide the brick pump station

next to our house, on the corner of the street.

A brief silence reveals rustling,

perhaps sparrows bouncing on thorny vines,

or just a plastic bag drifting nearby.

It is soon broken by a motorcycle, engine sputtering,

halfway between making it onto the highway

and dying in a cloud of black fumes.

I crush the spikes of the sweetgum ball,

letting the ogives, Gothic arches

crumble beneath my thumb,

one by one, until the prickliness is muted.


Loblolly pines grow beside the boardwalk—

Dark, smooth, wet from rain and shadow—

In a wavering curtain that wraps each curve,

Each gut of the marsh, on the last edge of mud.

They are old, towering, battered by brackish winds,

In which they do not stand stiff, but bend,

Pencil-like trunks swaying in unison

As the wood is stressed, only to spring back.

They grow, too, in neat little rows,

Planted in old stumps on the tree farm;

They are young, elastic,

The same height as preschoolers,

trampling through with their families

searching for the right Christmas tree.

Brown needles and bark scales

stick to their small rubber shoes.


Grandfather and I sit beside the St. Lawrence River,

looking out at a distant, lone red cabin

on an island of its own, scattered amidst other rocky specks.

I smile, remarking on its absurdity,

the day-to-day life in such a house, the lack of a doorstep.

I watch the wake of a nearby boat

calm into waves, soon ripples

that lap against the island,

only to be pushed back

and interfere with themselves

in some incomprehensible way.

I can just see a man seated at the water’s edge

watching the ripples bounce away from his house,

his island, his obstruction

in the continuity of the glassy surface.

After a few minutes, he stands up

and brings his kayak paddle inside.


Dominic Morrell, age 16, is a recent graduate of Dover High School and is now beginning classes at Delaware State University. He has been writing poetry since the fifth grade and has studied with noted Delaware author H. A. Maxson. Dominic’s poems have been accepted for publication by This Broken Shore, which appeared in the Fall 2017 edition. Though Dominic is a science and math major he has a special affection for poetry and continues to devote much of his time to the craft.

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