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The Siren World by Juan J. Morales (Lithic Press, Spring 2015)


Juan J. Morales' forthcoming book of poems, The Siren World, is a collection at once intensely personal and seemlessly universal. The poems delve into the wonders and horrors of the world and reveal the mind of a poet open to anything that may strike his widely ranging thoughts. Along with visits to his parents’ homelands of Ecuador and Puerto Rico, this very American poet spies on King Carlos V conjuring empire, envisions the murderous mobs of present-day Ambato, and the brutal death of Pizarro. Here are great migrations and conquests. Here are…abandoned Gods…bumping shoulders with our modern world. Here is a detained prisoner of a brutal regime (…buried up to my neck in the yard …I sew my lips shut with black thread…), alongside a father gingerly but powerfully removing a barbed fishhook from the finger of his son.
Morales locates himself time after time in any variety of ponderings as in, The Right Way To Die For A Poem,where he finds himself both within the lineage of poets and the long heritage of those with the urge to write it down, while also acknowledging his own mortality. He’s a fast driver. His thoughts go far. And yet, in many of the poems, he finds himself firmly in the magic of the mundane world, with the common yearnings that we humans have regardless of where we live. From all the places Morales inhabits comes an underlying current that coalesces into acceptance and understanding or, dare I say, the statement of a purpose for this existence; as in the poem, For the Underdogs, …I write so something like hope emerges…
-Danny Rosen, Lithic Press Founder

An excerpt from The Siren World:


I was five when I learned my own blood.
Dad and I fished the lake of cement slabs,
out past yellow grass, our feet jammed in mud.
I pulled the snagged line. Snapped back. The hook stabbed
my thumb, slid past bone, dented the fingernail.
The sun's search for horizon came about
reflecting filament line, a detail
like dad dropping the bucket of caught trout.

Everything halted: the water still cold,
red salmon eggs stuck on our hooks for bait.
He steadied my hand–shaking, uncontrolled.
Father worked the hook. Barbs excavated
through skin ripped. For the tiny hole, I cried,
the blood pooled in our hands I could not guide.


Juan J. Morales is the author the chapbook, The Ransom and Example of Atahualpa, and the collection, Friday and the Year That Followed, winner of the 2005 Rhea Seymour and Gorsline Poetry Prize. His poetry has appeared and is forthcoming in Acentos Review, Copper Nickel, Crab Orchard Review, Huizache, North Dakota Review, Palabra, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, Washington Square, Zone 3, and others. He is the Editor/Publisher of Pilgrimage Magazine, a CantoMundo Fellow, and an Associate Professor of English at Colorado State University-Pueblo, where he directs the Creative Writing Program and curates the SoCo Reading Series.

For inquiries and/or more information please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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