Friday, May 27, 2016

Feelin' Good

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


Some say when
daffodils shoot up
Spring is here.
It’s safe to put away
your boots and shovels.
Maybe somewhere
but not where I live.

I’ve seen daffodils
on Monday peeking
out of snow on Tuesday
giving me a wink as if to say
we fooled you, didn’t we.
And I say yes you did!

When it comes to Spring
I know it’s here when I see
what I saw this morning
long before the dawn.

The first moth
happy and delirious
dancing to calypso
all around the porch light
waiting for his friends to come
and shout hurrah for Spring
and Harry Belafonte.



This morning I woke up early
feelin' good, feelin' the way
I felt 50 years ago, no aches,
no pains, can’t wait to shower,
hop on the El, go back to work,
get the magazine out on time
then dance all night in a bar
to the music of James Brown.

I feel good like James today.
Wonder what my problem is.
Fifty years ago I felt good every day
but never wanted to go to work.
I must be sick so I called the doctor

and described my symptoms.
I told him I felt like James Brown.
Anything he could do to help?
He said take two aspirin and
call him when the music stops
and I'm my old self again. 


Leaves on a Japanese Maple
dance auburn in the wind
remind me of that mother

crossing Michigan Avenue
before the light changes
one hand on her buggy

the other on her little boy
wind in her auburn hair
a long pennant flaring

telling all of Chicago
it's Spring, by gosh!
it’s finally here



I will no longer feed the birds
on the front porch as I do daily
autumn through winter when
I go out at dawn to get the paper
on the lawn and spread seed on 
the railing in a serpentine feast.

As soon as I start spreading seed
the birds in the trees chortle
but that ends now because spring
is here and my wife is putting up
red feeders for the hummers
who will arrive any day to dance
a ballet on the porch all summer.

Seedeaters don’t mix with hummers.
They mean no harm but they’re
blue-collar birds not into ballet.
They’re gobble their food like men
in overalls in a bar for lunch
eating cheeseburgers in a rush.

Hummers don’t dance for grackles
and starlings devouring their seed.
So I will announce the change today
to all the birds chortling in the trees.
No more seed on the porch till autumn.
See our backyard buffet until then.


"You live long enough
and bad stuff happens,"
Harry told Stella,
slurping his coffee.
“I’m 94 next week."

And Stella told Harry,
“They got pills for this
and pills for that
and finally you get
something they ain’t
got no pills for yet.
I’m 92 next month."

“We’re up there,"
said Harry, slurping
the last of his coffee.
"You live long enough
and you can be certain
you won’t live much longer.
What’re you doing tonight?”



Solid middle class he is
always has been
always will be

until tomorrow
on the highway
in the rain this bus

topples over
on his Dodge Durango.
He will never walk

or work again.
In six months or a year
his savings will be gone.

He will be for life
a ward of the state
and people will

forever feed
and bathe him for
the minimum wage

a sum he always said
folks like these
were worth.


Something’s still bright
when a widow dies
and her son flies in

gives her body to science
has the movers
pack all the valuables

he wants shipped home
gives the rest to Goodwill
puts the house up for sale

takes a late night flight
leaves nothing behind
to say who the lady was

except for her garden
brilliantly in bloom
with roses and lilies

and phlox all applauding
and the sun ear to ear
a big smile in the sky.



Roscoe and two cousins rented a van
and drove to Mississippi for the funeral
of another cousin they grew up with.

It took six hours to get where
three old men didn’t want to go
but they had to bury their cousin.

Roscoe’s grandma raised all of them.
His grandpa, a preacher, always
had the four boys recite a verse

of scripture before every meal.
That helped the day they heard
Emmett Till, a town away, was dead.


Let’s stop the crying, Millie.
It’s true our friends are dying.
They’re old like you and me.

Why not celebrate instead
that 80 years ago you and I
came into the world.

No doctor pulled us
from the womb and
tore us limb from limb.



I like to watch master chefs
on television do their thing.
My favorite is Jacques Pépin
when he has to chop an onion.
No one chops an onion faster.
At 80, the man’s a guillotine.

When I saw him chop one today
I thought of every state in America
that has halted the death penalty
because they haven’t found a way
to execute the condemned
humanely and efficiently.
I say hire Jacques Pépin.

Shave the head of the condemned
and lay the fellow on his belly with
his head up like a Spanish onion
and let Jacques do his thing.
Unless you think there might be
something wrong with that.

Today’s LittleNip:


So many of us
feed the birds even
though we know birds

can make it on their own
in any weather,
sun or rain or snow.

But those who feed the birds
rarely feed the poor.
Perhaps the reason’s clear.

The poor unlike the birds
aren’t that much fun
to watch, are they?


—Medusa, with thanks to Donal Mahoney and Katy Brown for today’s fine presentation!

 Celebrate poetry by making better—and better—mistakes!
(Anonymous Photo)

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