Friday, January 23, 2015

Archipelago of Bones

Mercato Centrale, Florence, Italy
—Photos by Stacie Sherman, Orangevale, CA
—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO


January day
not a leaf left
on this skeleton

tree teeming
with sparrows
chirping and hopping

branch to branch
waiting for the deck
feeder to be free of

cardinals and jays
bickering for seed
while on the floor

four doves
stroll in silence
feasting on spilled

seed near the railing
where a fat squirrel
sits with its tail high

in a question mark
ready to dive
and scatter them all



Danny the pruner
fell out of a tree
bounced only once
lay in a lump for
gapers to see

a lover was Danny
renowned in the city
the ladies confirmed
two men and a gurney
swept him away

spoke not a word
till he woke in hell
yelled at the devils
dancing in circles
chanting with glee

a litany of names
of other men’s wives
told Danny he'd soon
have horns of his own
no chance to flee.

 Bad Hair Day


Gallivanting again
she’s now 33

where she goes
ever a mystery

Her parents bewildered
are ill and retired

they watch her kids
seven so far

quints and twins
sires unknown

this time it's Nome
the twins were told

to meet her soulmate
found on the web

she was a nun once
cloistered in Rome.



Every man
needs a cane
and a German Shepherd
to ford the mind
and engage the maze
of any woman
single or married.
It doesn’t matter

which maze
which woman
as long as he
trundles on
when he marries
supports his children
grows old
and then rises

one hot morning
blinks in the ether
and asks himself
why did he marry
this maze
of a woman
only to find alas
she’s gone

 Falling Heart


You thought you knew her.
She thought she knew you.

Neither was true
but this happens at times

at Happy Hour on Fridays
after a long week of work.

The rapport was strong.
Amazing, you thought.

She might be someone
you’d see more than once.

She had a nice apartment
or maybe it was a condo

a big double bed
with a canopy yet.

You slept soundly until
the key in the door

and from the other pillow
you heard a whisper,

“He’s not expected
until late next week.”



For years Ollie worked
late into the night
ringing up his sales
of wine and liquor
cigarettes and condoms
sometimes overcharging
addled customers who
had nowhere else to go.

He invested profits in
gold and silver coins
hidden in a box
under the attic floor
of the house he bought
for a crippled son
who never married,
never climbed a stair.

Now the store is closed
and the son is getting old
but the coins are
shining in their box 
under the attic floor.
Ollie too is in a box,
a sea of dust, an
archipelago of bones.

 Travel 'Gator


My wife told the mailman
she plans to leave me

and my boss said Friday
I’ve been laid off.

My doctor says
I need four stents

even though
I’m not that old.

My son hates our nation
and plans to join ISIS

and my daughter says
she’s three months pregnant.

Last night I told my story
to a drunk at the corner tavern.

He used to be a preacher
and now can’t find a job.

He says I shouldn't worry
about life’s ups and downs

because if, like him, I'm saved,
why sweat the small stuff.



If I have to die
let it be on Monday, God,
so I won’t have to work

or call in sick.
I want the weekend
to think about it

over steins
of cold Michelob
and a carton

of Pall Malls,
two things I quit
decades ago

the day I got married.
I can’t remember
why I did that—

get married, I mean.
I know why I quit
Michelob and Pall Malls.

Sometimes we do
the right thing
for the wrong reason.


Today's LittleNip(s):

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.
                   —Jean Cocteau
Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.
                   —T.S. Eliot



I Am Beautiful...