Friday, October 23, 2015

Living With Who You Are

Poppy Statue in front of San Francisco Botanical Gardens
—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO
—Photos by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


Through the window I see
the sun fire up
for the last time today.
There are jays
in the trees near the meadow,
crows in the grass
I cut with a scythe
early this morning.
Still on my platter
corn from the fields,
scallions, tomatoes,
bell pepper and cheese.
I'll remain at my table
with lemon and tea
and look out on the land
that surrounds me.
The psalms a monk
gave me this morning
I'll read for an hour
before sleeping.



Every summer they come, a ballet
over the border, without papers,
a mass migration of

ruby-throat hummers,
beautiful birds that devour
millions of flies in North America,

birds we welcome because we love
their beauty and their ballet.
We do everything to help them,

hanging and cleaning feeders of nectar
to plump them up so they can feast
on flies until October when

they have to lead the young
over the border in another ballet
to Mexico or the Caribbean.

All winter we shovel snow
and wait for the hummers to
begin their long flight back

to arrive in time for summer.
They arrive again without papers.
There are no plans to deport them. 


It used to bother me 
to see odd people
leapfrog parking meters
and shout every day
is Halloween until
I realized I'm as odd as
they are, always will be.

That's the way it is.
Not much I can do about it.

On Halloween I ring doorbells
without a mask or costume
and whisper "Trick or Treat."
My neighbors do not know me.
We may never meet.
If they put candy in my bag,
I say nothing more than "Boo!"

That's the way it is.
Not much they can do about it.

In time you learn to live
with who you are even if
both of you are strangers
who may never meet.
Normal people are the ones
you have to keep an eye on.
People with monocles are fine.

That's the way it is.
Not much I can do about it.



Cookies for George,
40 years back from Viet Nam,
are the only payment
the man will accept 
to mow your lawn,
rake your leaves,
shovel your snow.

He sleeps behind
his brother's house
above the garage.
Every two weeks
he shaves and bathes.
His brother takes him
to the Veterans Hospital.

George has cancer again
40 years after Agent Orange.
But he'll mow your lawn,
rake your leaves
and shovel your snow
for nothing less than
cookies for George.


Whenever I mention you,
the doctor always asks
what do I see,

now that you’re gone,
when I think of you.
I say I see thighs,

tanned and gleaming,
kissed by the proper
Bonwit skirt, rising

through the terminal
toward me and above
your thighs

that smile,
a Southern girl’s,



Maury's wife frets
about growing old
withering up

and sagging so
it's up to Maury
to let her know

every day she's
a grand buffet
that he can't wait

to see and sample.
Her appetizers are
enticing, entrees

perfectly prepared.
At his age though,
Maury has to pause.

He knows now
this will mean
a long nap later.

 Celebration of Color by Debbie Lopez
—River City Quilters Guild, Sacramento


Every once in awhile
over the last 40 years
Ralph wondered what might

have happened to the guy
who had moved in with the mother
of his children and drank all the time.

He remembered the kids saying
when they were small
the fellow got up one night 

to go to the bathroom
and got lost in the hallway
went back to the wrong room

and got in the wrong bed
with Ralph's daughter,
by mistake he later said.

Forty years later
in a technicolor nightmare
Ralph saw the guy’s name

blink on a neon billboard
and Ralph Googled him to find
the fellow had won the lottery

and moved to Arizona,
got cancer and died.
None of the children,

adults with families
of their own now, knew
what had happened to him

except for the daughter who
wakes up and Googles him
in the still of the night.



Rhoda, I can’t say why Amanda
was picked and not Tiffany 
for anchor of our Nightly News.
I interviewed both
because Mr. Smith wanted
a woman’s opinion.
I honestly don’t know.

I made a recommendation
and sent it to Mr. Jones
who sent it to Mr. Smith
who made the final decision.
I found little difference
between the two.

A day later Mr. Smith sent Mr. Jones
a formal email with a copy to me
saying Amanda would be the anchor
and Tiffany would return
to morning news.
I’m glad it was not my decision.
I could have picked either.

Earlier in our careers, Rhoda,
you and I both did on-air TV and radio.
Now you write a media column
and I direct this program.
As women, we know
the demands of television
differ from those
of radio and print.

But I can assure you,
one woman to another,
despite what readers and viewers
may think, Amanda’s cup size
was never a factor.
Mr. Smith says if you put that
in your column, you better
believe we’ll sue.

 Sea Jewels by Jan Soule and Debbie Lopez
River City Quilters Guild, Sacramento


Keep writing,
a famous writer
once told me
signing his novel,
until you have said
something true.
The thing of it is,
he cautioned,
some never do
yet find no time
for life as it is.

They find no time
to feed the hungry,
give drink to the thirsty,
clothe the naked,
care for the sick,
visit the imprisoned
or call an embalmer
to bury the dead.
Instead, he said,

writers keep writing
hoping they’ll say
something true
and maybe they will.
The thing of it is,
he said, so few do.
Most write about life
as they wish it to be
and not as it is
for too many.
A pity, he sighed,
signing another book,
but so often true.


Today’s LittleNip:


I sit here at peace
and mind my own business
and hope for a butterfly.

I never take one out of the air.
I paint only the flight of the butterfly.
When I see one float overhead

I drop everything,
grab a brush and a pad.
I don’t want to miss a color.

A butterfly flying
is more valuable
than gold.


—Medusa, with thanks to Donal Mahoney and Michell Kunert for today's fine contributions to the Kitchen, and a note that on all Fridays in October (including tonight!), plus Friday, Nov. 13,  the Sac. Poetry Center will be holding a Friday Night Poetry Workshop from 4:30-6pm at the Valley Hi North Laguna Library, 7400 Imagination Parkway, Sac. Moderator: Rhony Bhopla. Bring 15 copies of a one-pg. poem, font no larger than 12-point.

Civil War Elegance by Lina Bergman and Debbie Lopez
River City Quilters Guild