Formaldehyde

by Jason Morphew

On the Caddo River
there’s a train trestle
and a swimming hole
down a dirt path
from a cemetery
where my brother
and his recent ancestors
bleed formaldehyde
into the water table.
It’s good for you
and children
diving from the trestle
into chemicals below
it keeps you dead
and white longer
skincare for the departed
poison for the getting ready
to go.



Jason Morphew started life in a mobile home in Pike County, Arkansas. The Washington Post calls Morphew’s 2018 full-length collection, dead boy a “striking debut . . . presented with an edginess and sharp intelligence that make the poems pop,” and The Antioch Review calls it “brilliant.” Jason has shared stages with Claudia Rankine, Afaa Michael Weaver, and Joe Wenderoth. He holds a PhD in English Renaissance Literature from UCLA and has taught English at UCLA, UC Davis, and Mt. St. Mary’s University. As a singer-songwriter, Morphew released albums on the labels Brassland, Ba Da Bing, Max, and Unread. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his family.