If breath is stunted, the meter quick and intermittent. Or jarred into near patternlessness with each deep intake. Caught short, the air blocked, the rhythm wrenched. If pockets of alveoli, encased in mucous too thick to bring up through pounding and coughing, harden into scars, the air drawn in hitting walls, a labyrinth with no exit. If waves of hack, of cough, of plosive is the meter, the music of your breathing.
In response to a question about the importance of sound, homonyms, and wordplay, following publication of his first book, Verge*, Morgan said the following: “There are days when I feel the sum of my coughing and everything I’ve brought up that day. Phlegm. Blood, on occasion. And in those circumstances the question becomes: what does the poem sound like that’s written by someone who feels stranded in a body so dysfunctional that too often it feels more like a dumb piece of meat than anything enlightened or desired? The answer, so far as I have one (and so far as it is one), is to leave as much breath and breathlessness on the page as possible. Fill the poem with language that is urgent, concussive, maybe even slightly awkward. Let the density of poems’ sounds be their hyperventilation. And conversely, the wordplay that spins ‘meaning’ off in multiple directions, let that be their ventilation.”
*Morgan Lucas Schuldt, Verge (Parlor Press, 2007)