Friday, May 01, 2015

It's May Day!

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


Great joy today.
The sun and the breeze
have the mockingbird
flitting from branch
to branch, warning
the other birds.

My wife fills the feeder
with thistle and sits
on the bench with
the cat at her feet
making ablutions.
From the kitchen
I watch goldfinches
thrive on the thistle.

An old stewing hen
bubbles on the stove.
Tonight it will arrive
with a cast of dumplings
big as the clouds.  

The radio bleats
the Cardinals have lost
to the Pirates.
On a day like today
who can possibly care.


Millie remained on the farm
in the valley after Ollie died.
Their children moved on,
getting jobs in town.

Nowhere for Millie to go but
that place in town where
they stack old folks to die.
She never let Ollie go there

and she won’t go there either.
Instead she’ll sit in her rocker,
work crossword puzzles,
sip tea on the porch and wait

for the dazzle and whirr
of hummingbirds coming
to the feeders she hung,
announcing spring. 

Death’s on hold for Millie.
The hummingbirds will flame
in her garden all summer,
a bright heaven to live for.


I no longer put things
back where they belong.
I can't remember where
they came from
never mind where
they belong

so if you see me out
walking dogs
you know
cannot be mine,
not to worry.
I still like dogs.

But if you see me out
walking women
you know
are not my wife,
ask them where
they came from

and if it's not too far
and they seem pleasant,
take them home.
I'll compensate you 
for your kindness
and your time.


Her corded belt
python tight around

a tiny waist makes
her blooms bigger

brighter as they unfold
in the rising sun.

Gawkers stare
waiting for the tardy bus

Marilyn knows
will one day come.


As we roar over and by
the oaks are as still
as the pond they surround

Only the swans
on the pond
are moving

Then from an oak
a buckshot of crow
cawing and leaving


    Oso, Washington 2014

Under the mud he can hear the men
digging and cursing but they
can't hear him scream.

The mud won't let him scream.
He was out for a walk when the mud
came down the hill like lava

covering him and the woman,
an arranged marriage of strangers
sinking and screaming.

He wonders how long he'll be there.
He can't recall the prayer
his grandmother taught him.

He wonders if the woman can hear
the men digging and cursing
and if she's able to scream.


In the long run the boy will be worth
all the misery I’ve caused you,
all the grief.
If only for his smile,

yours, I know.
If only for his eyes,
mine, I know.
But his eyes,

they have your smile,
brighter than a rainbow,
streaming through them.


How do you tell
a wife you love
there are Spring days
in raw Chicago
bright with sun
and the boom
of bells
from the Cathedral
how do you tell
a wife like that
there are Spring days
you wish you had a girl


After 30 years together,
Carol tells me late one evening
in the manner of a quiet wife
that I have yet to write a poem

about her, something she
will never understand in light
of all those other poems
she says I wrote

about those other women
before she drove North.
And so I tell her once again
I wrote those other poems

about no women I ever knew
the way I now know her
even if I saw them once or twice
for dinner, maybe,

and a little vodka
over lime and ice.
Near midnight, though,
she says again

in the manner of a quiet wife
it's been thirty years
and still no poem.
When morning comes

I motor off to town to buy
a paper and a poem
for Carol
but find instead

undulating in a big glass case
an apple fritter,
tanned and glistening,
lying there just waiting.

So I buy the lovely fritter
and a single long-stem rose
orphaned near the register,
roaring red, and still

at full attention.
I bring them home but find
Carol still asleep
and so I put the fritter

on the breadboard
and the rose right next to it,
at the proper angle.
When she wakes I hope

the fritter and the rose
will buy me time until
somewhere in the attic
of my mind I find

a poem that says
more about us than
this apple fritter,
tanned and glistening,

lying there just waiting,
and a single long-stem rose,
roaring red, and still
at full attention.

Today's LittleNip:


After the poetry reading
the lights go on and a lady
under a big hat rises 
behind dark sunglasses
and asks the poet why
he never writes about sex.

He says for the same reason
he never writes about war.
What more can be said
about missiles in flight
and land mines that need 
the right touch to go off.


—Medusa, with thanks to Donal Mahoney and Katy Brown for this tasty breakfast in the Kitchen!