Wednesday, October 29, 2014

And After That?

—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO
—Photos by Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch, CA


After a day in the fields
plowing and sowing,
the old monks see
sundown is near, so
they put away tools,
clean up for supper.

It's soup and bread
torn from a loaf,
chunks of good cheese,
a rainbow of bright
fruit from the orchard,
coffee as black as tar.

There are 20 monks left,
slow and ailing, a drop
from a hundred or so
a few decades ago.
The harvest is small,
their lives still simple.

They work in the fields
and pray in the chapel.
But birds in the air
sometimes hear prayer
rise from the fields
and soar past them.


If I hadn’t died, I’d still
be bouncing along
in that Greyhound bus
through the mountains
swigging a Coke.
Don’t mind being dead but
dying almost killed me.

When the bus hit the boulder
I flew out the window
and was tossed in the air.
My head hit the rocks.
No one survived.
They found us later
covered with snow.

But it’s nice up here
on a cloud waiting
with the others now.
We wonder what’s next.
Moments ago an angel
landed and said Peter
would soon be here.



Two black cats
come over the fence
this morning

circle each other
all over the yard
hissing and leaping

into a ball
rolling like sagebrush
into the pool.

I fish them out
with a trout net.
Two wet mops

in silence
drying on the lawn.


I’m no expert on marriage
but you asked me so
here’s how I see it,
decades removed from
making the same decision.

If the woman is pretty,
has a voice you want to
bathe in forever, she
may be the right one.
But at my age or yours

I would marry only
a woman who made me
grunt at the zenith.
If she did that,
I’d buy the ring.



On tippy toes
with arms outstretched
my grandson asks

how old are you
and so I tell him
I'm sooooo old

that when I stretch
my arms like his
to exercise them

vultures land and
caucus there.
My grandson says

he puts his arms out
so robins will build
nests on them

and raise their chicks.
He never takes a nap
because he has to keep

his eyes on the clouds
to shoo away hawks
circling for supper.


There are people
I hope to see
lolling on a cloud

in Heaven some day
but hope never to see
on Earth again

when I go out to buy
a cherry Coke
at a drugstore counter

with silver stools
and red seats
and a girl

named Norma Jean
on one of them
legs crossed

but not a blonde yet.
These are people who
have been a problem

in my life
nice people
I hope to see

lolling on a cloud
in Heaven some day
but hope never to see

on Earth again.
Too many homicides
as it is.



In the Shady Lane Nursing Home
Aunt Bea crochets and tells her niece
sitting and listening this Sunday afternoon

that the young ones pushing wheel chairs
changing sheets and bringing trays
must learn to knock because

they’re unaware he’s behind that door
under the big clock in the day room
where the old ones sit for hours

watching television, praying,
writing letters, weeping,
asking to go home.

He's always there, she says,
and he has the answers but
the young ones have to knock

ask him what he wants
because he’s a question
not just an answer.


The dapper young man tells
the homeless man one stool over,
After I get my law degree,
I’ll get an MBA and go to Wall Street
and make a million before I’m thirty.

And after that?
the homeless man asks,
sipping the longneck
the young man has bought him.

I’ll start a business,
says the young man,
and make another million
by the time I’m forty,
buy a nice house in the country,
then franchise the business
so my kids can earn
as much money as I will.
You want your kids to do well.
Otherwise, why have them?
They cost money.

And after that?
the homeless man asks,
almost finished with his beer.

I’ll retire and buy condos
in Paris and London,
go on safari to Africa,
buy gold against inflation.
Once I retire I want to have fun.

And after that?
the homeless man asks,
lighting another cigarette
the young man has given him.

I’ll die when I get old
unless they invent something
that stops death, maybe a drug.
I’ll arrange my funeral
in advance, some big church,
don’t care which one
as long as they have a choir
to keep the wife happy.
And I’ll hire a good lawyer
to handle the estate.
Don’t want Uncle Sam
getting rich off me.

And after that?
the homeless man asks,
looking for another drink.

Today's LittleNip:


"Sometimes I want to sit down
and never get up," she confided,
tapping her cane as we crossed

the street, her Shepherd
towing us on its leash,
the light ready to go red.

“But then I have to pee,
and I'm thankful I can
make it to the bathroom."


—Medusa, thanking Donal and Robert Lee for today's Kitchen fare, and reminding you of tonight's
El Dia de los Muertos Altar & Celebration at UC Davis, First Flour, Sproul Hall, UCD. Poetry readings & open mic, mariachi music, refreshments. Bring photos of beloved deceased, flowers, other offerings. Sponsored by the Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese; more info on their Facebook page.