A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Travis Mersing


This could easily be another poem about home.


No, no. You’re not the one broken.
How about: walking into our wounds and whispering

the way I wish I could touch a morning.

I could have questioned my sexuality sooner.
These, the selves I dream of.

I could even know how to love by now…

But then would I have felt Ezra sing about Ezra,
or the chalky deposits on the cellar walls of my lungs?

Some strains of mint, like home, are more brittle

than I remember. The people seeing only
what they want, I’d have done better as a comet.





There are people I am warmed by.


It’s summer now; the catbirds are sleek and curious—
they know when to reach, 
                                               and when to stay just out of sight.

A night spent painting a kitchen white.
A night spent painting, spent searching for a new normal.
A night, a slight chill, and outside under the streetlight
I walk her home, and barely acknowledge her love of the stars.



How to Survive



One spring my young niece tells me she wants to go exploring.

We’re beside the old barn.
And she’s really good at picking out the deer trails
through the leaves and mud and fresh grass.

She runs ahead. She teaches me
about morels and moss and where the rabbits go when they sleep.

Each of her days is a story she creates.

There’s the special puddle where we wash our boots.

There’s the clump of moss she slowly places on a rock
beside the barn road.     How she whispers to it     there you go.

There’s her calmness when I point out a dead raccoon.

She climbs trees. She bottle-feeds lambs.

She tells me about a deer walking
through a morning fog; how you see it
and how, simply, it sees you, too.



A horseshoe crab tail I found (already without the rest of the crab) just above the tideline. It's surprisingly strong and just the right amount of sinister-looking. I found it on a multi-hour walk up the shore, away from the crowds of beach-goers--the type of walk I need every month or so just to keep my head above water. It seems magical--like some sort of wand that could do great things if I could only find its secret. I haven't, yet.

Travis received his MFA from West Virginia University and currently lives in Morgantown. He is often found knee-deep in a river looking for crawdads. Or, if not there, then nose-deep in a book with his cat, Dumpling, asleep on his chest. He is still searching for a way to have both of these occur at the same time. Dumpling has yet to cooperate.