Friday, June 12, 2015

Piccolos in the Forest

—Anonymous Photo
—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO


In St. Louis young blacks
carry guns like cell phones
and use them often

to shoot each other,
as we read in the daily paper
and see on local television.

Black adults now put signs
in parks and yards in
neighborhoods around the city

with this message for their young:
“We must stop killing each other.”
They want to stop the suicide.

The poet Gwendolyn Brooks
once wrote that peace
won’t come to anyone until

everyone is “tea-colored.”
By 3015 the world may know
if Gwendolyn was right.

 —Photo by Keely S. Dorran, Sacramento


Lightning bolts in childhood
can scar the soul forever.
They're a satanic baptism
when the minister's your father,
mother, brother, sister,
anyone taller, screaming,
shooting flames from the sky
all day, all night.

The years go by
but the scars remain.
The pale moonlight of age
makes them easier to see
and scratch until they burst
and bleed again,
another reason I wake up
at night screaming.

When the daylight comes,
I talk about the scars
when no one is around
to say shut up!
I draw the details in a mural
on the walls and ceilings so
everyone can see the storms
that never left a rainbow.

—Photo by Keely S. Dorran


The two Gibraltars in the yard
never were delivered.
They have always been there.
The twenty years I lived there

the neighbors never said a word.
Their shrieks would shatter both
if they could see them.
The redwood fence my Father built

is tall enough to cover his.
It will be tall enough, he swears,
in time to cover mine.
My father says before he dies

he’ll sell his own Gibraltar
and leave the house, the yard,
the redwood fence to me
to guarantee that I keep mine.



Tommy is the only man
for miles around who can knot a tie.
Old farmers come to town on Saturday

and wave from pickups with respect
when they see Tommy on the street
out for a walk in his black suit.

Tommy is the man they know
their families will call to knot
their ties and close their caskets.

 —Photo by Keely S. Dorran


They seem to be everywhere now,
women who walk like men.
With hair cropped in a paint brush,
bullets for eyes and knives for noses,
they walk long halls, hips so still
they can have no pelvis.
Then one day you meet one
and become her friend.
A week later you still wonder:
Are all the women who walk like men
wildflowers, really,
locked in a hothouse,
craving the sun?



Sue phones the hotel around midnight.
Two weeks earlier, at her request,
I took a room there.
Three bags,

half packed in the corner,
are ready to go back.
“There’s been a fire,”
Sue says. I ask

“Is everyone all right?”
They are. “How did it start?”
“My matches,” Sue says,
“and one of the kids.”

Weeks later, I visit the kids
at the house and find
the workmen have finished.
From the top stair, Meg shouts,

“Dad, come up and see my new walls!”
Dad can’t come up there, I tell her.
“All right,” Meg says, “I’ll bring
my new walls down to you.”

 White Rose Petal, Capitol Park, Sacramento
—Photo by Keely S. Dorran


Seeing is believing
smart people
often tell me but

no one ever told me
believing is seeing
except this blind lady

I help across the street
who taps her cane
and tells me

you’ll find out
when you leave Earth
and whirl among the planets

and soar behind
the sun and moon
on the way to your place

believing is seeing
someone some say
isn't there. 



Every time something breaks
like the pipe in the wall
we heard gushing

this morning
my wife wants to call
a repairman because

I can’t fix anything
except split infinitives
and dangling participles

and I usually agree
but this time
I mention the kayaks

in the attic and say
why don’t we hop
in the kayaks

open the front door
and sail down the street
wave to the neighbors

cutting their grass
planting their peonies
worrying about crime

and shout best of luck
we’re tired of the good life
we’re sailing away.


Today's LittleNip:


Walking in the forest
as morning comes
I hear piccolos

of wrens and robins
offer hymns to God
some say isn’t there

and isn't anywhere.
The piccolos, some say,
are simply fallout

from the Big Bang.
I tell the wrens and robins
but they play on.


—Medusa, thanking today's fine chefs, Donal Mahoney from St. Louis and Keely Dorran from Sacramento!

—Photo by Keely S. Dorran