John Mortara

I am like Pac-Man and the little white dots are my feelings

i am like pac-man

the little white dots are my feelings

i eat my feelings

my feelings always get in the way so i eat them

sometimes i am so preoccupied with eating my feelings

that i accidentally eat your feelings

your feelings are not like my feelings at all

i have so many tiny feelings and they are all the same and everywhere

your feelings are a lot bigger and rarer and more important than my feelings

when i eat your feelings everything around me turns blue

all of a sudden everything is just blue and i start chasing my ghosts instead of running away from them

i have to eat all the blue as fast as possible before it turns around and kills me

god there is so much eating that i can’t figure out when and how often to eat your feelings in relation to my own feelings

when i am not like pac-man i still eat your feelings and nothing else for days

it’s basically the same thing except there aren’t any points

no one wins


You Were My Depression

i wake in cold sweats from dreams of you putting sewing needles through my bottom lip

you count them 1 2 3 and i am on a bicycle downhill again

my knuckles chilled from the wind and then i was wide-eyed at the gloom through a window wondering

if i could gather all the gray and place it in this brown paper breakfast bag

if i could just hand it over to the lost-and-found at city hall and do the dishes tomorrow

you telling me that i was hurting because my brain was somehow broken wouldn’t be such a cruel boulder to throw

because i will blame myself if i can

because as soon as you walked away with half of my coffee and a plan to see me again i didn’t want to

the smile i had when i woke to only my own problems is the kind of happy that kills me

because each of us is a box filled with what we are given and i never knew how heavy you made me until i was finally empty

i’m sorry to only myself that i didn’t understand it sooner but this morning when a wild hawk landed on the sidewalk it wasn’t choosing to make a scene

it just stood there calm and new and untouchable


I have so many dopplegangers that I live in a constant state of fear

when i walk or stand in the street

i am alarmed by all the strange mirror-people passing at me

when i walk or stand in the street i am generally terrified of myself

people that don’t look like me tell me that they know other people look like me

i am associatively afraid of them because i am afraid of all their friends that look like me

i am so close to being unique but i am not unique

in high school i was unique

no one looked like me in high school

in college i wasn’t unique

everyone looked like me in college

i hated college because in college it was obvious that everyone looked like me

and that they were all trying to kill me

in graduate school there weren’t necessarily any people that looked like me

but all the people i knew said they knew people or actors or musicians or ex-boyfriends

that looked exactly like me

on second thought i remember now

they didn’t say people looked like me

they said ‘you look just like this guy...’


‘has anyone told you that you look just like this guy?’

not the other way around

i am resolved to ignore this

please pretend i never even mentioned it

come to think of it i must have so many doppelgangers that god can’t know for sure

if i am doing a bad thing

or if one of my 7.023 billion doppelgangers is doing a bad thing

how could a god keep forgetting he’s already made me and just keep making me anyway?

you’d think i’d have a green squiggly grammar line waiting under me for deletion

but maybe god doesn’t exist

that might explain the redundancy once and for all – ha!

i guess i will just continue to do bad things

until god starts existing and catches the mistake


All poems by John Mortara