Friday, December 05, 2014

Squatters & Thousand-Leggers

—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO
—Photos of Alcatraz by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA


Before dawn, people
who work on Thanksgiving Day 
wait in the wind for a bus
to arrive or maybe not.
It's too cold to talk
so the people stand
like minutemen and plan
a revolution that would shock 
nice families who drive by later,
children tucked in scarves
and mittens, laughing
all the way to Nana's house 
for turkey, gravy, stuffing
and later in the day
a ballerina of whipped cream
twirling on pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving is the day
America asks for seconds
and sorts its servers
from the served.



Homeless man
in a Trayvon hoodie
under an old raincoat,
a gift today from

the Salvation Army,
sits like a capital L
against the wall
of a downtown bank

while a homeless cat
strolls around him,
hoping for bits of ham
from the gnawed remains

of yesterday's sandwich
as happens many nights
when the cat visits him 
despite no bell or kettle.

 View of S.F. from Alcatraz


Ferguson will roll
until we turn
the volume down
and have no need to seek
concussions in the street.

Now we joust
to prove that black
and white are different.
The twain must meet
for years in bed until

so many cocoa
are conceived we
drop our weapons
and no longer seek
concussions in the street.



Listen, young lady,
this is the man

who will cut off your legs
and this is the man

who will cut off your arms
and this is the man

who will cut off your head
if you fail to tell us where 

your parents hid the gold.
Had we known about the gold,

they’d be here, not over there
in chunks, baking in the sun.

View of Golden Gate from Alcatraz


I rise to pee at midnight
and it’s nice to see
no gunman in the bathroom
waiting to shoot me

but there’s a thousand-legger,
a centipede, if you will,
in the tub, disoriented
by the light

walking in circles
like an unhappy cat.
He’s obviously upset
he can’t escape the tub

because of the high walls.
A mystery how he got there.
The walls won’t let him go
where life might dictate.

Now that autumn’s here,
maybe he’s come to visit
or maybe spend the winter.
He doesn’t know it but

he won’t survive my wife,
well-known to other insects,
now deceased, as Big Foot.
Every once in awhile

he tries to crawl the wall
but falls to the floor again,
the longest centipede
I’ve ever seen, a caboose

suddenly left behind,
deserted on a railroad track,
going nowhere till my wife
applies her heel. 

 Cell block, Alcatraz


You go to the doctor
at 21, no problems.
Maybe a flu shot.
That’s it.

You go to him
at 40, and you
need a pill or two
and he says
watch your weight.

You go to him
at 60, and you’re
now a fixer-upper.
You need more pills,
he says, and
watch your weight.

You go to him
at 70, and he finds
plumbing problems
and asks questions
to verify that all
your lights are on.
Doesn’t mention
your weight.

You go to him
at 80, and he says
you’re doing well,
all things considered,
but it wouldn’t hurt
to put your affairs
in order.

You tell him
you can’t remember
any affairs but he
can ask your wife.
She’s still raising hell
about someone
named Mildred,
if that was her name.


Today's LittleNip:


On Sunday his wife
and children walk
to Mass

and he goes
into his garden
to work

all day
primping roses
lilies, dahlias

weeding, pruning
making things right
on his altar of life.

At dusk he brings
his heaven home
in soiled hands.

A big bouquet 
for a wife
suddenly in tears.



Dummy of Alcatraz Guard