Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Another Sunrise

—Photos by Alysiana Gonzales, Sacramento
—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO


I'd never steal a poem
or any of its shining facets
but I'd take the mood

a poem is born in
if the poem is smiling.
A lot of poems smile

but lately mine
can only scowl.
So when I read

a poem written 
in the daylight by
a soul who's

painting clouds
against a brilliant sky
as if the clouds

were butterflies
too lovely to let go
and fly away,

that's the mood
I want with me
every midnight

in the basement
when I feed the ghosts
I can't allow upstairs.



Want to know how
God may feel at times
about us mortals?

Then every dawn
in any weather
place a tin

of Fancy Feast
on the deck
for the feral cat

behind the oak
who won’t come out
till you go back inside.

Then take a peek
and watch old Tom
come up the steps

and eat his fill
before rumbling off
to find a harlot or a saint

to accept his genes
before he comes back
to feed again at dawn.

You may be a deity to Tom
but you will never get
one meow of worship. 


I’m white as a sheet
believe me
one of those Yanks
who never before
the Charleston massacre
thought about
the Confederate flag.

I spent most of my life
in Chicago, that city
of big shoulders
and short tempers, where
the Confederate flag was
not often seen and whites
and blacks laughed
and fought in public.

I live in St. Louis now
not far from Ferguson
where whites and blacks
are a pile of wood
on a back porch 
waiting for a match
and some oaf to strike it.



Will I walk again,
Tillie mumbled,
lost in the fog of

her knee operation.
The surgeon predicted
she'd toss her cane away

in two months.
Still in a fog, she asked
if she'd walk the way

she walked before,
with the same locomotion,
as her husband called it,

a walk he studied
through binoculars 
behind lace curtains

from the upstairs window
sitting in his wheelchair
as she strolled through

the garden, picking a
bouquet, creating another
sunrise in his day.


From villages in Iowa,
Indiana, Minnesota and Nebraska
and from towns in the Dakotas,
Wisconsin and Michigan,

there stream to Chicago in spring
parades of lithe girls
looking for boys
who will look at them

but who find instead
the men who will wine them
through summer,
who will wait until fall

to thresh in the fields
one summer can ripen,
the men who will watch
’til a pumpkin falls from the vine.

This is the courtship
village girls dream about,
laugh about, hope for.
Come fall, these are the men

who fill silos of girls
from Elkhart and Davenport,
Ely and other small places,
lithe girls who in spring

come to Chicago looking for boys
who will look at them
but who find instead
the reapers, the men.



Some days my wife has aches
and I have pains.
Other days I have aches
and she has pains.
We tell each other
all about it from our rockers
sipping Earl Grey tea
in tinkling porcelain cups
while watching DVDs
of Lawrence Welk,
the late conductor nonpareil,
who's trying now to get
the Seraphim and Cherubim
to sing "God Bless America."

My wife and I are at an age
where no quick fix exists,
no slow fix either.
Finally I tell her what
neither of us wants to hear:
We'll feel better, Dearie,
not to worry,
once we're dead.
It's the dying
that's a problem but
we're getting there.
Been on the road since birth.
We've paid the tolls.
It's been a trip. 


In the summer of 1956,
any Saturday at midnight
when the moon was full
and the stars were bright,
you would see Grandma Groth
on her front-porch swing
waiting for her son, Clarence,
still a bachelor at 53,
to make it home
from the Blind Man's Pub
after another evening quaffing
steins of Heineken's.

Many times when I was young,
I'd be coming home at midnight
from another pub just steps behind
staggering Clarence.
I'd always let him walk ahead
and listen to him hum
"The Yellow Rose of Texas."

But the last Saturday night
that Clarence and I came down the street,
I didn't see Grandma on her swing.
She wasn't waiting to berate him.
So far so good, I thought,
until, not far from his house,
Clarence fell into Mrs. Murphy's hedge.

When I finally got him up,
I moved him like a fridge on a dolly
down the walk and into his house
only to see Grandma, a wraith
in a hazy nightgown, swoop
into the hallway, screaming
and thrashing Clarence with her broom,
pausing only to tell me,
"Go home to your mother now
so you won't be late for Mass.
It's almost Sunday morning!"

After that sad night in 1956,
I never saw Clarence again,
either marching to work in the morning,
his lunch pail gallantly swinging,
or staggering home at midnight
from the Blind Man's Pub.
But many a midnight after that,
I'd be coming home
from the other pub,
lunch pail in hand,
and I'd see Grandma
reigning on her swing,
broom in hand,

Tonight, however, many decades later,
as I stroll home at midnight,
I realize I'm older now than Clarence was
the night he disappeared
and even though Grandma's dead,
I can still see her regal on that swing,
broom in hand, waiting,
and so I give her a big wave,
hoping to hear one more time,
"Go home to your mother now
so you won't be late for Mass.
It's almost Sunday morning!"


He left a ticket
for you and me
and for everyone else
before he left.

He said he’d be back
but didn’t say when.
He said some of us
would need a ticket

long before then.
You have yours
and I have mine.
Others we know

have picked up theirs
but many haven’t.
Some never do.
Millions of tickets

have gone unclaimed.
What happens to those
who don't believe
they need a ticket?

They can always take
an uncharted flight
and pray the trip
turns out all right.


Thunder and lightning at first,
as I understand it,
and then the moon will split

in half and disappear
and the stars will go dark
and the sun will come up

and explode in the sky,
another Hiroshima.
Hurricanes and tornadoes

will savage the land.
Sickles and scythes 
will harvest the people,

throw some in the air
shouting Alleluia,
toss others aside

shrieking and cursing.
Silence will boom
as the credits roll.

Bugs Bunny, the sage,
will have the last word:
"That's all, folks!"


Today’s LittleNip:


Covey of nuns
without benefit of wimple

graciously attired
sport coat, turtleneck, skirt

scurry through the airport
iPads swinging

unaware the turtleneck
is their Roman collar.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's fine contributors, and welcoming Alysiana Gonzales to the Kitchen!