From “Consequences upon Arrival”

We woke into the morning undressed. Every thought washed of color and their chains rusted over. 

Our certainty absorbed into forms of circulation. Plasma-rich consistencies. Or spittle. It was difficult to make out the occasion. Or to whom we owed the honor. 

No one suffered a wound. Nor suffered without good reason. The occasion filled to capacity our uncharted, elemental mouths.




The only meaningful thought tore itself from the valley. Meaning thirst increased. Flooded dwellings and crevices of pain. 

The pain that was simple. Fundamental as the air before rain. 

The circumstances formed around our suffering decayed from the point of initiation inward. This so abandonment became common. 

We trained our ears to wake and comprehend the hour. Deliver oxygen. Rest one foot in its light.




We rose our heads only to say, fuck learnedness. Behavior that could only exist in the mouth acquired by failure. 

Articulate and reform the needle drawn up into the roof of its suffering. 

We weren’t coming backnot one night we saidto that disease-shaded landscape. That puss in sheep’s clothing though desire was tied to its awning. 




Difference presented a sense of direction. Non-glorious. Scars that festered when we did not proceed.

What underpinned the context profited in its depletion. In frequent marshes. 

Trust, it’s one true follower. 




Undressing was performed in accordance with regularity. Its networks regulated and perverse, context required no record. Met us squarely in our eyes. 

The eye that awned. 

The loud immeasurable eye. 

The eye hugging the feet of our failure required collaboration 

that could only be offered between streams. Or given in the rivers that fed themselves.




We woke with dreams pulled through fine intelligent mesh. 

An intelligence that aged gracefully, like iron. Hardly undone. Such were the overwhelmed conditions upon which our senses depended. The just barely. 

The thorn a fundamental characteristic of our sides.

We saw history was outlined in our ruin of stitches, appearing despite the context that was their given keloid nature. 

What is a vulnerable frontier. It was important to ask of our musculature seizing.




Language returned through the appearance of clouds. Furtive, deeply shadowed offering nothing. 

We stood adjacent. Looked up and rubbed our arms. 

While not offensive, it’s inappropriate to remain in the procession and offer nothing. Not shade nor rosettes. No part in restoring the fence. Neither the most obvious: rain. 

We should start a committee, someone said. THE COMMITTEE TO END LANGUAGE THAT DOES NOT OFFER RAIN, of which the goals and bylaws were as heart-felt as they were without collective teeth. 




We woke to vandalization relative to the committee. 

Someones it seemed, were, in their quiet nighttime way, against what they interpreted as the public shaming of non-productive existence. And for the first time in memory, accountability was on the table. It was bulbous and moist. It absorbed all of the blame which was not at all called for. 

It said I have introduced ideological context.

I ruined the stitches. 

I don’t feel seen. 

I’m absorbed by failure. 

I drink from the river and feel nothing. 

My gaze depletes. 

It is me to whom you owe great honor.


Copyright © 2022 by Saretta Morgan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 29, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“‘Consequences upon Arrival’ is a long poem that emerges in pieces, four movements total, throughout my forthcoming book, Alt-Nature. This particular excerpt occurs midway through the poem’s first movement. The entire poem is narrated by a roughly auto-fictive figure whom I refer to as the Black Femme Isolate. This figure expresses itself exclusively through a plural first-person orientation as it navigates landscapes of systematic isolation and the political consequences of feeling alone.”
Saretta Morgan