Listen to a reading of “Q&A” by John Mortara.
what do you know about my body that i don’t already / how can you reteach me / my own skin / how could i go one day without shiver / without raincloud / when is it going to be okay / why am i equal parts excited and terrified and / is it a good thing / define: good / who’s your daddy / Ennui. / who’s the man / The Man. / the sky is blue because / it’s just a different kind of ocean / should i stay or should i go / is actually an easy one: / the answer is both. / next question. / the meaning of life / is a crowded train / my arms / around your waist / my face tucked into your neck / god is real because i’ve been on a bicycle / it’s complicated / because / well / god has no name / what’s even in a name / good question / everyone seems to ask but never answer / here’s my take / at first / very little / a name is born / like a tiny christmas light / before long it grow into a giant star / spinning you in its gravity / and in this way / a name can / and will / eat you alive / if you let it.
Listen to a reading of “warning sign to future generations” by John Mortara.
warning sign to future generations
i am a landscape of thorns. a victim
of organ thieves. a jagged road saying
don’t you come here. it was never safe.
i am an antelope finally taken down
after years of persistence. a hunter
strolls up to me with the honor
of a knife. places it inside something
he did not earn. now you think
about all the traffic everywhere
and always. now stand under
an awning and wonder
if you could hold such rain
for the rest of your breathing.
someone painted a seahorse seeming
in the sky the way it brushed the side
of a rooftop. it might as well
be a dragon the way i’d let the entire
block burn. i am a broken box
they keep mistaking for a house.
the way bent walls look like doors ajar
if you’re not up close. now fold
highway maps and eat them
until you become a destination.
get so hot now that you melt
the earth beneath you. grow so cold
that every detour tastes like accusation.
the reason i was mountainface for so long
is because they named me too teardrop.
pressed myself down into stunted oak
for them. became a pile of thumbtacks
for each pair of lips that would ever
come near. i am a final battle
between wilted selves. a woman
with her hands tearing apart flowers
down the street. she dumps petals
onto her own doorstep because the day
is getting married to the fear.
i am nothing but a loud sigh
dragged through the dead city
of my own skull.
About the author:
John Mortara is winner of the 1992 Kindergarten Foot Race at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Pearl River, NY and a recipient of mail. John Mortara is a sad unicorn shivering in Boston, Massachusetts. Their newest collection of poetry is forthcoming with YesYes books. John’s website is johnmortara.com. They are the poet laureate of FEELING VERY UNCOMFORTABLE.