Johnny

By JOHN ALLEN TAYLOR 

This is the body, the eight year old body, cream skinned, cat boned, silent.

                 Call the body Johnny.

Bend the body—it will not break.
                                                                               Bend forward, Johnny

The skull is small as a child’s skull is small, but the mouth is morning on the seventh day.

                                                             Open, Johnny.

Its tongue moves but makes no sound. No mother comes. No father.
                Who made this body?
                                                                                         Bend over, Johnny.

Undress the body: those hands not the father’s. The nails…
                             The voice lamb soft & wolfish:
                                                                                                       Shush, Johnny.

The body opens but does not break.
                                                             It has never broken.
                               Its hands are small.

Its hands are clumsy with what they must hold.
                                                                                           Open, Johnny.

 

[Purchase Issue 15 here.]

John Allen Taylor‘s first chapbook, Unmonstrous, is forthcoming from YesYes Books in spring 2019. His poems are published in RHINO, Nashville Review, Muzzle, The Journal, Pleiades, and other places. He serves as Ploughshares’s senior poetry reader, he coordinates the writing center at the University of Michigan—Dearborn, and he brews very strong kombucha. Say hello @johna_taylor.

Johnny

Related Posts

Old ship at sunset

June 2020 Poetry Feature: David Mills

DAVID MILLS
When I’m cursing them tanners under / my breath’s breath, I speak Yankeyfied / Negro / English. Gathered bit of limping / French and Spanish on a voyage // to Cadiz; anchor jarring the sleepy / waters of Caleta. Beach pinched / between two castles.

ruckus

VAUGHN M. WATSON
a rotor spins in concentric circles / the epicenter a DC street at dusk / even a military helicopter’s incessant droning / can’t wake this country to its circumstance / locals peer through the gaps in their blinds / trying to see what all the ruckus is about

May 2020 Poetry Feature

KERRY JAMES EVANS
Everyone’s so proud / of Jethro for seeing the light, / which he will truly see next Tuesday, / when he rolls his Ford F-150 over a guardrail / and into the Buttahatchee River, / where so many dead bodies / have been devoured, even the river / has lost count...