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

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