George T. Mormann

Polarity of White

From our reflecting pool
the pious will glean
his atheist,
a republican
his democrat,
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,
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.

Dull White Male Writer



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.

Prime Day

I never took part in a Black Friday
because I was your fetcher of flat-screen
television sets and
microwaves with that pull-out
drawer for frozen pizza and
all of those pineapple corers
of which they bought three
for, as a gift,
they feigned thoughtfulness for out-of-state
second cousins who visit once every other
Christmas. Great for cousin Beckys who ceased
posting Facebook pics of her handling beer bottles
after bearing her first kid — and now she only
posts photos handling him, whom she named Guinness.

I would arrive at midnight and work out of a
parked semi trailer, frantically lobbing appliances
to my coworkers like a preacher tossing turkeys to the poor.

The police barricaded the entrance,
politely shooing shoppers back until our
official 2AM opening, saving their clubs for
the Septembers of Capitalism. And they stayed to
barricade the exits when a customer was
stabbed in the gut, officers searching
for the shopper with the most blood on their handbag.

Management hid in their offices, but set cookies
under the time-clock to discourage us from taking a lunch.
Customers entered the stock room and helped themselves
when the four of us couldn’t fulfill the orders of a
hundred and forty of them.

At 5:33AM I asked myself, “Who buys a dishwasher
the day after Thanksgiving?”

When my shift ended at noon, I was relieved into
the plastic atmosphere, clothing department signs
swaying, wafting perfume samples in the heat
of a thousand bodies working off the pilgrim’s
plate under florescent lamps accentuating
the glaring whiteness of our pseudo-holiday.
I sighed, and drove to my second job, where I cleaned up
the mess left by their own pre-dawn stampede.

Today however,

I’m enamored with one-click orders on credit
coming to my doorstep the next day.
I don’t even have to wear pants, although
it’s wise to buy a few before the deal expires.
For thirty hours I celebrated, buying everything
cheap and useless that I couldn’t afford but promised
to pay off months from now.
— I bought a pineapple corer for Chrissakes
when I had already received one two Christmases ago —
But the deal was so alluring.
On the third day I got my final boxes,
tattooed with Amazon’s ubiquitous grinning arrow,
and they appeared on my porch like gifts from
a downloadable Santa who presents himself in the
likeness of my avatar, and delivers my presents
by way of a brown sleigh, 160 reindeer power,
operating by way of a strict timetable across the Earth.

Yet I do wonder what the air smells like
inside an Amazon Fulfillment Center.

From Page 4,873


Journal entry from June 30, 2016.

A Passenger, Southbound

all the way down to those days
when I sat snug between their opposing loins
in the cab of his Ram.

He hung his cigarette out the window,
but smoke made its way back inside.
The forthright wind keeping habits
under the noses of our annoyed,

I thought of asking why
he didn’t bring his green glass for the ride
as he would often do. But that was between us
when only us would go to Uncle Whomever’s house.

I kept my head down most of the ride
in case the forthright rain
might penetrate the windshield,
or because I reacted
to dodging fireballs
and tumbling boulders
on my Gameboy.

I ignored the corn
as it was ceaseless, everywhere
even in his drink,
because it was everything
I could imagine
corn might taste like
if mashed into foam.
Because I sipped it once
and likened the flavor to corn
And he would allow it
And he would sigh
And he would say don’t tell your

But she was occupied the whole way,
twisting the radio dial
trying to keep the static out of my ears