Friday, January 02, 2015

Shut Up And Sing

Pillar, Darling House, Santa Cruz, CA
—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


Families come
on Memorial Day
depending on the weather;
otherwise the Fourth of July,
if it’s not too hot.

You can hear them coming,
adults in the rear,
reminiscing and talking,
children who can read
announcing the names
on the stones until they
discover the right one.
Then they shout.

Adults bring flowers,
placing them softly
in front of the stones
near our heads.
Children stick little
flags from parades
in our waistlines.

Some ladies bring towels
and wipe down the stones;
others towelettes to remove
gunk from the lettering.

All mean well and we
appreciate the visit and wish
we could say something.
It’s a thrill to hear voices.
Otherwise it's lawn mowers,
leaf blowers, snow plows
the rest of the year.



Willie McKee works
second shift
gets home at midnight
makes hot cocoa
flops in his recliner

and counts the stars
through the blinds
nods to the moon
and every week or so
sees ambulance lights
pull up at Tom’s house
blink for an hour
while the crew goes in
and restarts him.

But on Christmas Eve
the ambulance lights
pull away in minutes
and a hearse pulls up
two men go in

bring out the gurney
as old Tom's wife
stands on the porch
and smokes
and Willie McKee
tells his wife
neighbors will never
hear Mabel curse
old Tom again.

 Warning: Seniors Walking


During a long marriage
Wally told Millie
over and over
time after time
chicken and noodles
never again.

He also told Millie
chicken and dumplings
were welcome
twice a week but
chicken and noodles
never again.

No one knows why
Millie kept making
chicken and noodles
over and over
time after time.
She’s single again.

 Ruin, Placerville


Two ancient men
named Ruben Kohn
by happenstance
had sleeping rooms
in the Ace Hotel for Men

a flophouse home
to mendicants and drunks,
the mentally impaired
and a few divorced men
paying child support.

When the government said
some mentally impaired folks
were well enough to live
among the general population,
the Ruben Kohns arrived

late one night and they
choked Thomas O’Leary,
divorced and drinking 
in his room, who started
singing for all to hear,

“You Kohns are cuckoo!"
No one claimed O’Leary’s body,
and the Kohns were sent away
to different institutions
to live out their lives

far from the circus maximus
of the general population, never
again to hear a normal person
like tenor Thomas O’Leary sing
“You Kohns are cuckoo!”

 Lichen and Moss


Rip had a wife who lost
an arm and a leg
and could no longer wait
on him hand and foot
so he found a woman,
a gymnast, who could

once she landed her jump
from the parallel bars.
Only then would she
do the laundry and cook
and take out the garbage.
Rip liked her better

high on the bars, her
melons bouncing as she
prepared to land her jump.
She went back to the bars
and Rip hired a laundress
and later a cook.

Life’s better now for Rip
but not for his former wife
who lost that arm and leg.
There’s nothing she can do
with the other arm and leg
not that she ever would.



Paddy believes
in something he
has never seen.

So when I ask him why
he won't look for it, he says
“Because it’s here.”

Mick believes
in nothing he
hasn’t ever seen.

So when I ask him why
he won't look for it, he says
“Because it isn't there.”

So I ask Mick if he
would ever look where
Paddy says it is

and Mick says
"Paddy's full of it.
Why look there.”

 Horse Buckle


For years leprechauns lived
under Pop’s fedora.
They danced jigs on his head
when he wore it

and hid in his ears
when he took it off
to scratch his head
then jumped back up

to dance a few reels
when he took it off
for another good scratch.
Leprechauns dancing

confused my mother.
She thought Pops
had ringworm or lice
and should see a doctor.

The attendant said no
ringworm or lice but said
Pop might look odd
wearing a hat in his coffin.

 Fence Post Detail


You were a good boy,
following your parents' advice,
never going out in the rain.

At the sound of rain
you dove under the bed,
bawled and shouted,

“Come out, come out
wherever you are"
but no one came out,
not even you.

When your parents died
your uncle gave you
boots and a bumbershoot
and out you went
whatever the weather.

The rain in Spring you found
a wonderful thing and not
so bad in Summer either
until the flood roared in
and you floated away.

Noah and his ark sailed by,
Noah on deck
between two giraffes
smiling and shouting,

“Come out, come out
wherever you are"
but no one came out,
not even you.

 Still Life, Darling House, Santa Cruz, CA

Today's LittleNip:


Tonight we offer the new Janis Joplin
a black girl in white skin who growls
every melancholy note and is

still looking for the man
she wants forever who
wants her even more.

But Janis would probably yell,
“Good luck with that, sister.
Shut up and sing.”



Waiting, Sacramento Ballet Co.