Friday, September 23, 2016

"Author! Author!"

 —Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO
—Photos of the Fair Oaks Chicken Festival 
by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA


Every day
the same play.
The moment I rise,
the first act begins,
the same plot
all over again.
Only the characters,
only the scenery,
vary. Act after act,
no intermission,
no denouement,
it never ends.
Every night,
in the front row,
the same lady
in a plumed hat
stands and shouts,
“Author, Author!”
I smile, I bow,
what else can I do?
Finally I pull the curtain
and turn in.



When a bullet goes in
and doesn’t come out
you read about it
in the paper, hear
about it on TV.

A person takes a bullet
near the heart and learns
a surgeon can't remove it.
It's part of him forever.
Happens like a drive-by

shooting when a loved one
makes a comment no
apology can remove.
The loved one doesn't
know there’s a problem,

doesn’t realize lightning
through the cerebellum 
is by far a better option.
Doesn't let the victim linger.
Makes forever shorter.

 Space Chicken Sculpture


Each morning
I step from the train
and march with the others

leaving the station.
The weatherman's warned of rain
so we're armed

with umbrellas,
our briefcases swinging.
Across from the station

there's an old hotel
high in the sky. King Kong,
everyone calls it.

In tall windows
old men appear,
disappear, reappear.

It is August in Chicago
and the old men wear
overcoats and homburgs

so no one can steal them.
They light cigarettes,
mumble and curse

at the daily parade
leaving the station.
Traffic is thick

but even in winter
no one looks up
since no one can hear them.



There's nothing wrong with you.
We both know this is true

but there's something wrong with me
and you know what that is.

It's the elephant in the room
standing on our mantel

trumpeting "I'm here!"
I'll call when I find out

what's wrong with me
and then I'll buy a yo-yo

a shiny one with rhinestones
the kind we had as kids

and we can try that trick
"walking the dog" again.

 Dancing Chickens at the Children's Pavilion


Two men tall,
one from here
and one from there,

in raincoats
at a bus stop,
pace and stare.

One of them
is soaked in tea,
brisk man from Jaipur

who semaphores
an anthracitic glare.
To barter for a smile

an alien’s obeisance
he, no fawn,

The other man,
white cane and dog,
doesn’t seem to care.



Great victories in youth,
some of them remarkable,
are recorded in a scrapbook

lost for many years
only to emerge decades later
when age affords the leisure

to rustle through a dresser drawer
and find a scrapbook underneath
an ancient uniform, some jocks and socks.

Cheers from games spring off the page
as do tall teammates dead for years,
their jump shots perfect, their laughter loud.

This will be the last reunion,
he knows that for certain.
The scrapbook will become

a game of none on none.
A doctor told him yesterday
he's dribbling out the clock.

 Gulliver's Pet Sculpture


Tornadoes in the parlor,
in the kitchen, in the bathroom, too,
churned every hour Dad was home.
He never worked
and with good reason.
Sis could tell you more.
She'd help Ma board up the house
when I'd walk out the door
and ride my bike around the block.
If you find Sis today,
she’ll tell you funnels
tore the basement, too.
So what, you say?
Well, Dad’s been gone
for seven years
and Sis is somewhere.
She needs to know
good weather here
is still a squall.



Sleet on the turnpike
in the middle of the night
but I keep driving,
both hands on the wheel,
nowhere to pull off,
and a yellow bus
comes over the line
and kisses my truck.
That's all I remember.
Now I'm in bed,
wired to things,
unable to move,
listening to a doctor
telling my wife,
"It's been two weeks,
no improvement."
He asks her nicely
if we should let him go,
the dimwit bastard.
If I could, I'd scream
but I can't even
wiggle my toes.


My wife likes to garden.
She’s crazy about roses,
lilies and daisies.
She says I should get out
in the garden and weed.
The roses, lilies and daisies
need more room to grow.

She says her garden would be
better if I would help out.
I’m tempted to tell her I’m not
fond of roses, lilies and daisies
but then I remember before
I met her 50 years ago
I spent some time with
a Rose, a Lily and a Daisy,
not all at once, of course.

Like my wife, they were
nice ladies and I hope they
didn’t marry those guys
they weeded me out for.
Their gardens were lovely
but none had gardens
as beautiful as my wife’s.
On a cool summer morning
I still like to sprinkle her garden
once she adjusts the nozzle
on this old hose.



Walking very slowly, ancient Wally's
right behind his ancient Molly who's
stepping down the garden path,
her first time out in weeks,

wobbly still on her new knee.
She's been housebound far too long,
leg propped up, reading books, gazing out
the window for some sign of Spring.

She wants to trust her Wally when
she sends him out to check her garden
and he comes back bubbling to say
"Spring has sprung, my dear"

but Molly needs to see that for herself.
Wally may have missed a sprig or sprout
and it would not be the first time.
On a lovely day, many years ago

when they were young, didn't Wally claim
a patch of dandelions were crocuses?
So now Molly hobbles out on a silver cane
and leans slowly down the path

toward the first of seven gardens with
Wally right behind her, arms outstretched,
ready to catch her if she slips, a man 
wearied now by many weeks as caregiver.

He's a man of many years, most of them 
spent in a hurry until his stroke, a factor
that's a hallmark of their lengthy marriage.
Molly's always careful, Wally not so much.

In fact, he still roars into everything,
a second stroke waiting to happen.
But for the moment he forgets the present
as his memory darts into their happy past

and he whispers over Molly's shoulder,
"Let's take our time, my dear. 
Let's make Robert Frost a prophet.
Let's have many miles to go before we sleep."

Today’s LittleNip:


—Donal Mahoney

Pistols in holsters
very early this morning.
She’s wearing a bra


—Medusa, with many thanks to Donal Mahoney and Michelle Kunert for this fine morning repast of poetry and photos! For more about this year’s Chicken Festival in Fair Oaks, go to

(Anonymous Photo)
 Celebrate the garden that is poetry—and those who work at
both! Don't forget that tonight is the release of Stan Zumbiel's 
new book, Standing Watch, at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm. 
And scroll down to the blue column (under the green 
column at the right) for info about this and upcoming readings
in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.