Jamie Mortara: Fire Has No Friends
Elizabeth Lies

Elizabeth Lies


back when my father was still young
and people still wove Asbestos
into everything
a man once came to him saying
that this
was the only way
to keep a building
how the man dared my father
to hold a blowtorch
to the new roofing
how it stayed
so strong
as if it were a magic
and how my father
years later
watched that proud
proud man
cough himself
to death
i suppose we've learned our lessons
since then
gutting old structures now
before they can suffocate
any more of us
but still
i've always wondered if anyone
could ever build a house that simply
would not
is that just
the nature of a home?
the way you looked at me
like there was no way
to stop yourself
like we are all just
one tiny spark
from dust


1. Bullying – a Bully takes the Bullied's shoes and throws them where they are unlikely to be retrieved: up on the powerlines

2. Turf – some “Concerned Citizens” believe that hanging shoes mark places where Drugs are sold and/or signify that Gang Territory is near the powerlines

3. Rite of Passage – graduation, the end of the school year, marriage, celebration – who needs shoes when you're happy? no one does. no one needs shoes. throw them up on the powerlines

4. Practical Joke – shoes are often stolen from drunks passed-out in public and tossed onto the powerlines. this is often referred to as Humans Are Cruel and Horrible

5. Improbable Practicality – tossing shoes up on the powerlines is simply a way to rid one's self of shoes that are old, unwanted, or no longer fit, because donating them would be Ridiculous and Time Consuming

6. Leaving Your Mark – a result of the innate human desire to leave behind proof of one's brief and otherwise Meaningless Existence, because most of us have shoes but hardly any of us have paint

7. Protest – it has been reported that workmen often throw shoes if they are not paid for waxing floors [citation needed]

8. Someone Just Died – the shoes hanging from the powerlines belong to the dead person

9. Superstition – when a person's spirit returns it will walk that high above the ground, that much closer to heaven [verification needed]

10. Bigger and Better Things – in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, Biddy and Joe throw shoes at Pip as he sets off for London. Pip is a powerline.

11. Wanting to Have a Secret – only each individual shoe-thrower knows why their shoes really hang from the wire



i want to say
it's kind of like that scene in Disney's Alice In Wonderland
the one where the Hatter grabs the giant pocketwatch
from the panicking White Rabbit
how he declares it Two Days Slow
and then he dips it right into his coffee

then he throws it against the table
and then he
pours salt into its springs
then he
forks out its gears
he slathers it in butter
pours tea into it
spreads jam over it
squeezes some lemon juice to finish it
like some kind of sickly oyster
and slams it shut

i want to ask if you remember that
but then i want to say
when i was born
something in my head
wasn't quite right

but then i want to say
when i was a kid
something in my school
wasn't quite right

but then i want to say
when i loved this person
something in our house
wasn't quite right

so instead i say
who can really tell
what exactly broke me?

because on top of all of that
when the Hatter shuts the watch All Done
(as if he somehow fixed it)
it suddenly spins and sputters and freaks out
all over the dinner table
and they grab this
and crush the clock to a halt anyway
which is to say:
i don't know which damage to blame here
was that last toxic partner
the Coffee
or the Butter
or the Hammer?
which one were you?
the insult? or the injury?
does it matter?

do you think the Hammer might have whispered to the Watch
oh you're already telling this all wrong anyway?

do you think it might have grumbled
you were already fucked up when i found you?

do you think the Watch apologized to the Hammer like i did?

do you think it said
no you're right
i'm sorry
you're right
i'm just
Two Days

jamie mortara (they/them/their) is a rabbit but also a unicorn? but also a goat? but also the moon? but also a bicycle-riding zine-making poem-doing queerdo living in portland, oregon. they went to school for some things and worked a job at some things. they lived some places and currently run a magazine called Voicemail Poems and an indie press called Impossible Wings. more info about jamie mortara is conveniently at jamiemortara.com! the internet! wow!