George T. Mormann

Comparable Meagerness

She grew up poor.
Her parents laid
off the nanny
when she learned
to feed herself.

For me, nothing
felt as rich as
a hot shower
following
a year’s wait.

This, she never
could understand
because water
always flowed
warm where she’s from.

Still, we endured
a similar
hunger, making
for sordid
competition.

Not Since the Cold War

have we witnessed a curtain over the sun of this magnitude

so put on your smokescreen glasses and redeem yourself for a chance
to win a free grande unicorn frappuccino if you text the eclipse emoji to 122312.

In the case the darkness does not swallow the Earth herself
—erasing her Japanese tattoos —— extinguishing her cheap perfumes—
we’ll go back in the basement and recount our stash
of shampoo and crackers & hide under our childhoods in wait of
the Chosun one’s vessel of Kapitalist repellent

unless an Indiana Jones unearths another Mayan premonition
beneath the ruins of a Borders Christmastime Calendar Kiosk

then we can laugh off the superstition of another kingdom
wrought with fools who swim in blood from the bay of pigs

waiting for Jesus to come

but he always pulls out at the last minute

Polarity of White

From our reflecting pool
the pious will glean
his atheist,
a republican
his democrat,
liberty
Her tyrant.
In this same mirror
a ripple lies between our
mutually opposed others,
revealing superficiality
and mere distortions
between our faces,
the color of our sleeves.

As a boy, my reflection
restored the glory
of the Roman Empire,
watching reruns of
Hannibal’s defeat
in the Colosseum,
clanging clay action figures
made in the likenesses
of gladiators.
I squirted ketchup
on the dead ones
before outgrowing the sandbox,
before realizing such toys
had been carved out of slaves.

Later, my reflection wished
to restore the glory
of the British Empire.
He thought the Sun only rose
where the crown shone,
and if it wasn’t for sailing
the horn of Africa, there’d be
no such thing as India Pale Ale.
Besides, he was taught
you’re not a real man
until you shoot an elephant.

Now, I witness my reflection
restore the glory of
the German Empire,
appropriating
Tibetan peace signs and
Polynesian patio décor.
He lost two fights until
a new furor awakened him.
And nothing beats
a cloudy day like
a long walk into
a more colorful Poland.

I cannot undo his existence,
not because I allow it
to thrive—

because I am the cause
of our polarity.

Bugs, God, and a Barbeque

We’re in the backyard
adhered by the sun
to thermoplastic lawn chairs
molded in the likeness
of weekend dormancy
with pale and bony legs that
bend to the wills of exhaustion.
You have to work for your breath like a fish
drawing in the yellowness of the air
thickened with hamburger smoke
and a procession of dandelion furs
lingering without a plot
wading on the restive frequency
that distorts the mystery
of summer night horizons.

It’s a dream for I don’t
understand the language you speak
but you wear your expression
like a Hawaiian shirt
and when you speak
flies appear in the crease of your smile
picking ash out of your stubble
and filling the urn of our Weber grill.
And all I can do is watch
flushed by an inquisition of mosquitoes
And a cabal of ants prodding
at my heels for their salt
with their pontificating mandibles.

We never celebrate the bugs
but we must keep them
as their significance relies
on the life of their host
and our significance often
falls on what they take from us.

“But can I hug an apparition,” I replied
awakened
I winced from a pinch of an ant
quenched on my cheek.

 

Originally posted June 26th, 2016

Dull White Male Writer

IMG_04041

enthralls

My garage door has opened.
I unfold my chair and sit with my back
facing these tools.
I unscrew the gas cap of my John Deere
because unleaded ain’t a scented candle yet.
I wave to the occasional passing tractor.
Our brows reveal the sweat of our work,
validating our purposes:
immaculate squares of hay
and the chapter I finished yesterday.
I admire the height of the corn,
our collaboration with God
of nature and enhancement—
a marriage I liken to man and wife
instinctively, albeit noxiously.
A creation of which I am made foreign
by a simple, narrow road seemingly
fit for only mine and his rigs.
I’m assured that most anyone
can traverse it, except
perhaps after it snows.

I sit around and think
of laying words like bricks. Besides,
I’m accused of bearing a mason’s color.
My story is read off the back of my neck,
it’s turns deliberate, the twist spraining
and relieving at once.
Letters of my exploits are addressed to me,
because my readers have their own plots today.

In the safe-space women come and go.
No longer talking of Don Delillo.

I think Sherman Alexie would like me
as his mechanic. I’ll do oil changes
in the background then show him
the grease on my hands like Hoosiers
writing under Chinese pseudonyms.
We will commiserate over Kindles
and I will sneak whiskey in his tea,
losing another generation of ’em.
And I caught Zadie Smith smiling
next to Philip Roth in a photograph.
She might like me too, but quietly
I fear the inevitable awkwardness of her
sharing my Great-Grandfather’s surname.

I’m like a Hemingway, only
simpler, without the chevrons.
My Grandpas were pressed to shoot Nazis
and I could’ve chose to shoot Hajis,
but my machismo was projected onto screens
reliving checkpoint after checkpoint
in a pixelated Fallujah, as I fiddle
my joystick on a Summer vacation.
Yet it led to my first publication:

“We stuck armymens plastic bases
in the sandbox and burned them
into green and tan casualties
with your Daddy’s Bic lighter.”

I read the naked and I read the dead.
I didn’t want to write seven hundred pages about it too.
Alas, it leaves some of my accouterments,
like guilt for the positive correlation
between the repressed and their flesh,
as ripe as a cherry on a Marlboro Red.