Friday, November 14, 2014

Cranes, Computers, & Debbie Reynolds

Sandhill Cranes, Lodi Wetlands
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO


So here I am, all decked out
in a new suit from Brooks Brothers,
haberdasher to corporate stars.

My wife just got here, rattled.
The kids have been here for hours,
flying in for the occasion.

My wife will make certain 
I look as spiffy as possible.
The oldest boy just told her

a neighbor has agreed
to cut the grass, rake the leaves
and shovel the snow, chores

I performed for decades in return
for a mug of coffee and wedge of pie.
Now my wife is asking the undertaker

to puff out my tie, something she did
before I’d go to the office, armed
with a thermos and brown paper bag.



The morning paper says
Debbie Reynolds is 82.

Sixty years ago, the little doll
married Eddie Fisher,

balladeer back in our time.
Remember, Eddie dumped Debbie

and married Liz Taylor who
put the oomph in technicolor.

Then Liz dumped Eddie
and married Michael Todd,

the aging movie mogul.
Todd died in a plane crash

and Fisher's dead now, too.
So's the beautiful Ms. Taylor.

Tell me this before you deal again:
When Debbie gets her obit

which of us, and I'll take bets,
will be around to read it.

 Blue Heron Bench, Lodi


Take it from me
sitting on the edge of this star
in the universe with
meteors zipping around me.

Worse things can happen
than having a computer crash
and all your data lost while
chatting in a hotel lobby

with a woman you met in a bar
then having a heart attack
and falling to the floor
having your bladder burst.

You lie there deceased,
a nuisance in a puddle of piss,
as the woman strolls away
and guests in the lobby quiver

until the manager says  
he’s made a phone call.
You don’t need a computer now.
An ambulance will take you away.



Todd’s tired of being odd
he tells his wife as he lights
candles next to their breakfast tea

and pours two steaming cups.
He wants to be normal, he says,
the rest of his life

no matter the changes
he’ll have to make
in his modus operandi.

It will be worth the effort,
not having people gawk
and mumble under their breath.

He pours more tea
and butters some toast
and tells his wife

beginning tomorrow
he’ll never again excavate
his Roman nose

with his pinkie.
He’ll dig with his index
finger instead.

 Greater Crane
Cosumnes River Wilderness Center


It took awhile to find Osama.
It will take awhile to find
the Briton with his knife
in the desert of Iraq.
They may bring him back
unless a verdict’s rendered
in the desert
enabling the Briton
to discover in a second
all the virgins
awaiting his arrival
unless he finds
he’s sitting with Osama
holding marshmallows
blackened on a stick.



Before he's had his morning coffee
he puts a silencer on the pistol,
goes from room to room, puts

a bullet in the head of those
sleeping in their beds, takes
a drive in the country and calls

his neighbor Walt and asks him
to check on Martha and the kids.
He’s at their country home, he says,

closing it up for the winter,
something he does every year
the weekend before Halloween.

He tells Walt that Martha and the kids
should be home from church by now
but no one's answering the phone.

 Cranes, Lodi Train Station


Harold, I'm sorry to call you at three in the morning
but you're older than I am and you may have less time
to relish a word you may not have heard of.
It's "rejectamenta," and I stumbled upon it
early this morning when I couldn't sleep.
I wish I had found rejectamenta years ago.
It means exactly what you might think:
"matter rejected as useless or worthless."

Imagine how useful that word would have been
in our younger days as a weapon of choice.
I would have shouted it often when leaving a job
or leaving a nice woman who thought we should marry.
I would have extended my arm like Adolph and shouted
"Rejectamenta!" with the roar of "Sieg Heil!"

For the remainder of my life I will shout it when nettled.
I will shout it at the waiter in that Polish restaurant
the next time he plops pickled pigs feet
in front of me obviously short on gel.
I loathe those feet but the gel is marvelous.

We may be aging, Harold, but we have a word now
we can whip out of our quivers whenever we're miffed.
Perhaps the embalmer will tattoo it on my forehead
if my wife isn't looking, assuming she survives.
Carry on, Harold. The finish line is just ahead.


Today's LittleNip:


Carnage rolls
across the sand
amid the silence
of imams 

Women raped, 
children killed,
amid the silence
of imams

What will it take
to stop the carnage
amid the silence
of imams


—Medusa, thanking Donal Mahoney and Michelle Kunert for today's Kitchen fare, and noting that Katy Brown has a new photo album, Autumn Rainbows, on Medusa's Facebook page. Check it out! Also check out PTSD Nation Art & Poetry display at University Library Annex, California State University, Sacramento (Curator, Diana Bloom). You are cordially invited to this art and literary event (which runs through Dec. 13) that features the art and poetry of survivors of war, gun violence, and or domestic abuse. Our thanks to Jennifer O'Neill Pickering, who has some art pieces there, for this notice. For more about what Jennifer's doing around town and about the PTSD display, see