George T. Mormann

Category: Poetry

Kin (Pt. 4)

The Namesake

was a farmer in the sandbox of his youth
tending a herd of plastic cattle that
grazed on alleyway grass and the weeds of
eroding pavement. Come suppertime he
corralled pink monoliths of hogs in
the confines of a picket fence he kept
in his back pocket. He dreamed of being
a farmer and George happens to
mean “agrarian” in Greek but in Chicago
George means factory foreman and
machinist and his father’s father’s father
harvested iron and copper in a junkyard
where he unearthed immigrant woe
beneath wooden streets and
made his nephews believe him when he
said buffalo roamed the corner of
Archer & Ashland yonder.

He grew up and the course of his name
changed with the scenery.
He discovered fire in an abandoned lot
in Englewood when he curiously set an
old couch aflame and his attempt at boosting
a freight train failed when the conductor
chased him away as he ran off with
the lantern that hung from the caboose.
He carried that gaslight South to a barren
sea of soybeans where his Grandfather lived in
an island of fruit trees and insisted the boy
stay lest the city keep him young and forever.
He grew his hair long and kept his troubles
short and let his car speak for him

as he raced through the rural cosmos
in his sixty-four Ford Galaxie.

Kin (Pt. 3)

The Middle Child

oft-abandoned his kin on park benches
in Sherman Lagoon like a Tasmanian
devil baby sacrificing the rest of
his mother’s brood as if she fed
them all from a single teet.
The pugnacious toddler whose
world was a back of the yards
barroom littered with pewter jacks
and slippery with piss and vinegar
picked fights with feral cats
and brawled with the gnats in the air.
his skin was the powder of the clay
that built the rough parts of the city
and it formed his gut and balls
and his mother
hard immigrant who played favorites
would say that the clay sprouted a
third nut in place of his brain.

Then one day his nemesis
the snapping turtle whose lair was
a kingdom of mud and Green River bottles
had snapped his new fishing pole in two.
He swore revenge on the machinations
of nature and for the rest of his life
planted the earth with stray golf balls
and shotgun shells
conquering the cornfields
in Mossy Oaks camouflaged pullovers
and polyester polo tees stamped with
the costly emblems of horsemen and alligators.

Funny that a man of such
Caligulaic persuasion
would still tremble at the creak
of his mother’s rocking chair.

Kin (Pt. 2)

The First Boy

lived from his thumbs to his elbows
rocketing marbles toward lines
traced across lawns between neighbors
black and white diaspora
that saw humble plight
and played for keeps
but never together.
He lived a block from the train tracks
content in his boyhood
the bliss his parents
a pair of grey swans
sought in the alley-thin serenity
within the seasons of great migrations
and white flight. Can there be an
hour of peace between families outside
the nests of their dinner tables?

The father—
Polish stock from a Bridgeport kitchenette.
The mother—
Olive-hued import from a Burmese plantation.

and she called from the window
to their boy to wash up for supper
and he replied with a clacking
of colored orbs pouncing
on one another before settling
in the mud of the yards
for the rest of the night.

Kin (Pt. 1)

An Only Daughter

was the promise of continuity
born under familiar lampposts
shone again in her father’s eyes
when the rubble of The Good War
cratered lawns
and grew Chicago for Her survived.

On a bungalow’s front stoop in May
she cradled
her kin for christening photos
yanking at the wave of her bouffant
that shielded them from the afternoon
and tobacco overcast
that tinted the cats eye behind Godmother’s camera
borrowing the affection of Sundays
immemorial for frames atop future mantles.

Her father bought her
her very own speaker-box
—The MAG Ten out of the Sears n Roebuck Catalog:
top of the line for its day—
and she jived with her girlfriends
in starched tablecloths
seamed from hips to knees
with embroidered poodles
hopping up and down sofa seats
and her kin watched
from the cove of a doorway
to a seldom used
immaculately modeled dining room
complete with plates set for
imagined guests
but the boys ran off with news
that a snapping turtle had bitten
a drunkard in Sherman Lagoon.
Her friends still shimmied in
the living room as she cried
out to her brothers from the stoop
before chasing them down 57th Street
surrendering her hair to the wind.

Writer’s Block

Stepping into the void
of this old factory
I smell only the dust
that awakes to the clack of my heels.
The rust of use blankets the head
and keeps it warm throughout
a seemingly endless winter.
I am unable to imagine
the ghosts;
the wind has their breath.
It creeps through a checkerboard
of broken windows,
or mountains as I see them
from here,
on the production floor.