Rhonda Morton

Rhonda Morton
She Opens the Suitcase

“If you like gorgeous writing, poetic vignettes
that laugh at themselves (and you), then expose
the author’s (and your) softest memories, deepest
fears, most searing passions, you’ll love Rhonda
Morton and her whirling voices.”
–Steve Coffman

“What a delightful journey into paintbrushed melodies caught in time.  A little rising breath of another's world.”
–Amber Espar


Since I had never written short  stories, I was taken unawares when these started pouring out of me in April 2007, but not surprised when they stopped about 18 months later.  During that time, I never sat down purposely and said, “Okay, I’m going to write a story now.”  Some were journal entries that appear in the book exactly as they came out.  Some were ideas that foated around my head until they fell to earth whole.  Some were frst spoken aloud as an improvisation, and then captured in writing as best I could after the fact.  What they have in common is some kind of left turn. Something unexpected or quirky or slightly off-center appears in each  of them.  

From the book:


Like a peppercorn stuck in her throat, the day just kept
coughing itself up.  The baby screeching with an ear infec-
tion.  The phone shilling with bill collectors.  The traffic
especially rude, making the walk into the icy wind brittle.  
She remembered his hands then—how rough they’d been
on her body.  Insistent and crude.  The beer breath, and
stench of bar smoke in his hair.  If only she could think of
a question to ask herself besides “how did I get here?”

Yesterday’s question was a good one.  Could she ask herself
again?  “Are the spaces between the notes more important
than the notes themselves?”  But that had made her  
miss the 14th Street bus, lost in the depths of those spaces,
and she was forced to walk six blocks west to catch the

So, no, she better fnd another question for today, one less  
mesmerizing.  “Why are the pupils of cats’ eyes shaped
like the space parted in a fence?”  But she couldn’t think of
fences without thinking of her brother behind razor wire,
the cuffs of his sleeves frayed, his face slack, his voice flat.  
And that made her think of the canopy over her girlhood
bed—the dust collected in the ruffles like time itself piling
up mote by mote.  

She started over.  But she kept thinking of questions with
answers.  It was important to find one that could be asked
for a lifetime, or at least get her through the day.  

The bus came.  She got on and, without a question to  
occupy her, she saw the desperation in the rubbed-raw bug
bites on a little girl’s shins sticking out between her too-
short socks and her too-short pants.  She would have wept
right there if the day’s question hadn’t leapt into her chest
at just that moment: “Is our last breath the one we take in,
or the one that comes out?”

Rhonda Morton is a poet, performance artist, dancer and singer with a particular interest in
improvisation in all those forms.  Equally at home working as a soloist, as an ensemble member, or
as a producer/performer, she uses the transformational power of creativity-in-the-moment, often
integrating the audience and/or the site into improvised performances.  She is the author of
Woman Seeking Water (1997) and Breathing In, Breathing Out (2001), both published by
FootHills Publishing.  

For more information, browse her website at www.rhondamorton.com.

She Opens the Suitcase
is a 32 page hand-stitched chapbook

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