Household Idol

Mounted above bedroom and kitchen
doorframes, the Buddha fills the temple
with his pig-nosed corpulence.

Lips peeled off bared teeth, he presides
over my auntie’s apartment by the red glow
of two electric candles, their wire threaded

through a gash in the wallpaper.
Five years ago, my auntie ran a mahjong table
clattering out of the backroom, gamblers

coming and going at all hours, more
or less in their money clips. By the red glow,
the Buddha grimaced, two apples rotting

on his miniature temple stoop. I’m not sure when
the traffic stopped, only now my auntie’s son
is mayor, rarely present at family dinners.

His wife the schoolteacher in coke-bottle glasses
buries her hands to the elbow in rubber
gloves while washing the dishes.

Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. He was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing program at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New Letters, Bridge Eight, and South Dakota Review. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His second, Father Me Again, is available from Spartan Press and his chapbook Coming Home with Cancer is forthcoming in Blue Lyra Press’s Delphi Poetry Series.

Poet/Photographer Jennifer Matthews’ poetry has been published in Nepal by Pen Himalaya and locally by the Wilderness Retreat Writers Organization, Midway Journal, The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press and Boston Girl Guide. Jennifer was nominated for a poetry award by the Cambridge Arts Council for her book of Poetry Fairy Tales and Misdemeanors. Her songs have been released nationally and internationally and her photography has been used as covers for a number of Ibbetson Street Press poetry books and has been exhibited at The Middle East Restaurant, 1369 Coffeehouses, Sound Bites Restaurant in Somerville and McLean Hospital.