Monday, October 20, 2014

Where Did It Go?

 —Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


It's Yom Kippur
this screaming hot day
in Chicago 1972.
An intermittent parade
of orthodox men are walking
in silence to synagogue,
foreheads bright
with sweat.

They're in uniform,
black hats, black coats
over their shoulders,
continents of sweat
breaking through
white shirts,
black ties stirring
in the breeze.

Five older men
have canes.
Two others
on walkers
have snakes
on their forearms,
reptiles from Auschwitz,
Belsen, Treblinka.

The numbers
in each tattoo
may be different
but the snakes
are as much
part of their uniform
as black hats,
black coats and black ties
on this screaming
hot Day of Atonement
in otherwise
oblivious Chicago.



Dad, happy to see
you’re taking a nap.
I’m down at the pier
so give me a shout
when you wake up
and I’ll come running.
The fishing’s been great—
three coolers of pike
iced in the trunk.

You always tell Mom
before we leave
you won’t be drinking
and she lets Tim and me
go with you but
you drink all day
here at the lake.

I'll get my license next year
so things will be different.
I'll drive back at night so
you can nap in the car.
I’ll keep the radio off
so you won’t wake up.
It’s always good
to see Mom.


Born at the foot
of the mountain
what will you do?

You have time to decide
but some die young.
Others live but remain

at the foot of the mountain
where wind like snow
blows them around.

So what will you do?
Go 'round the mountain?
Fly over the mountain?

Or climb the mountain,
hand over hand,
with fingers and toes

tucked in clefts,
stopping only for water,
then going on.

Millions are now
on the side
of the mountain

halfway up
with grappling hooks
and the finest gear.

So what will you do?
Parents can pray but
God only knows.



Some old wounds
can never be sutured
and email is always

the wrong needle to try.
So is the phone.
Fly to your daughter.

Tell her thirty years later
it's time to end the war
between two Koreas.

You're sorry you didn't attend
the wedding she never had.
It's not her fault she looked

so much like her mother.
That was another war
death would end.


A new coiffure would help.
Your hair should flounce
when you walk.

Spiff up your wardrobe.
Try cashmere sweaters
and fitted skirts.

Great shoes are a must.
Heels high enough to click
"Welcome" on the sidewalk.

You're a lady, Tiffany.
That's important but
bait sets the hook.

Add frippery to folderol
and stroll down Fifth Avenue
on a brilliant summer day.

Wear a new frock
and don't just sashay.
Put some oomph into it.

Smile for no reason at all.
And before summer's over,
you'll be wearing a big ring.



When will you understand
it's all about me.
The world we live in

whirls around my axis.
Once you understand
I am the Sun

we can get married.
Until that happens,
step aside while I

hunt for the one
who truly understands
it's all about me,

the one who knows
the world we live in
whirls around my axis.

She must be pretty.
That's how I see it.
Take it from me.


Yes, indeedy, Mary Reedy,
tell me, please,
where did you go
50 years ago today?
You disappeared
and so did I.
Remember the prom?
Your neckline was  
the talk of school
till graduation day.
The nuns had a fit.

The zit above
your Appalachian cleavage
shook everybody up.
You said it bloomed
the night before
without warning.
"A volcano popped,"
you said.

Yes, indeedy, Mary Reedy,
wherever you may be,
I tell you now
fifty years later
I see the zit clearly.
It pops like Vesuvius
whenever Stan, my neighbor,
soused beyond belief,
thinks he's Andy Williams
and sings "Moon River."
That's our song back when.



Where did it go?
I really don't know.
I lost it weeks ago
in the middle of the night.
Too tired to get up.
Said I'd take care of it
first thing in the morning.
Didn't want to wake the wife.
Now it's lost in the ether
with some others, gone forever.
They never come back.

I feel like the blind man
in the yard next door
trying to find the red ball
his guide dog failed to fetch.
How does he know it was red?
Or the lothario memorialized
in the paper this morning
for crawling out the window
when his lover's husband
caught an early plane home.
Left his pants and wallet behind.

Some things never come back,
sometimes for the better
but not this time.
The next time I wake up
in the middle of the night
and hear the band playing
a new song in my head
I'll get up, believe me,
and write everything down.
It might be another
"Moonlight in Vermont."

Today's LittleNip:


There are peeps
from the wren house
high in the poplar
as the sun peeks
over the roses.
Or maybe I'm wrong.

Perhaps I hear altar boys
reciting their prayers
at the foot of the altar
at the start of a Latin Mass
decades ago in a church
silent now for years.

Whether it's peeps
or prayers I'm not certain
until I see the cat
hunkered like a tank
under the poplar, hoping
to receive communion.


Our thanks to Donal Mahoney and Katy Brown for today's poems and pix! Here are a couple of contests you might want to put your pen to:

•••Todd Cirillo of Six Ft. Swells Press writes: Send us a poem or two that is 20 lines or less about the one who left you OR if you were the lucky one to leave them, to with SUBMIT in the subject line and if chosen, you will receive A FREE signed copy of Six Ft. Swell’s new release, The Girl Who Left You by Amber Decker! Deadline has been extended to Oct. 27. More info:
•••United Poets Laureate International Global Poetry Contest deadline is November 30. Nine categories, each with three prizes of $300/$200/$100 plus medals. Info: Membership not required. "World brotherhood and peace through poetry".

And don't forget Medusa's Marathon Mega-Post, which is less than a week away! October 26 is Sacramento Poetry Day, which was officially proclaimed in 1986 by then-Mayor Anne Rudin. To celebrate, Medusa is planning MEDUSA'S MARATHON MEGA-POST on that day, which happens to be next Sunday. Send poems and artwork and photos about Sacramento to by midnight 10/25, and we'll post 'em all, no matter how many—and you don't need to live in Sac. to contribute.