Friday, November 18, 2016

Arranging Things

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


She’s not young, his wife.
They’ve been together 40 years
but when she gardens in her shorts

and he’s lying in his hammock she's
a lovely sight to see so when she
hears a noise, she turns and asks

what was that and he says
just an old chipmunk chortling
his applause for all these years.



The guillotine dropped
between you and a friend
over coffee and small talk.

The first time it dropped
it was someone who said
something that took

a part of your heart.
Years later you wonder how
a silly comment like that

could doom a friendship
that had bloomed for years.
But you raised the blade again

in case someone else took
another part of your heart.
And, of course, someone did.

The blade’s back up and ready
but you know you’ve dropped it
too fast and too often.



Some day soon
Wall Street giants
will walk on their hands,

never sit or sleep.
They will eat
with their feet

as nostrils drip
and neckties droop.
With toilets extinct

they will launch
missiles that blot out
the sun and moon

while in the dark
the constant dinosaur
of greed will roam

the avenue and eat
the little people 
one chomp at a time.



It’s a simple procedure
I’ve done for years
many times a day.

You'll go home this afternoon,
take it easy over the weekend,
go back to work on Monday.

Insurance covers the cost.
No one has a problem
except the fetus.

 Red Ripe


You have the back rent
and come home from work
and find everything in a mountain
out on the lawn with the kids
sitting on the curb crying
unable to get in after school.

You spend the night in the car
with your wife and the kids.
They’re all scared
and you wonder what
to do in the morning.
You can’t go to work with
everything on the lawn.
Neither can your wife.
What about the kids
and school?

Storage costs money
but that’s your back rent
or maybe rent for a new place.
How would you move
all that stuff anyway?
Who would help?
You tell your wife
everything will all work out,
both of you knowing
it’s all just begun.



It tears the stomach out of Roy
to see old folks shopping
at an all-night grocery store,

ancient couples,
on canes and walkers
in their eighties and nineties

hanging on to a cart
almost as wobbly as they are
up and down the aisles piled high.

They place a few small cans
in their cart next to a
loaf of day-old bread.

We know the poor will
always be with us.
But why in America

do we have so many?
And why do we fat folks
just stare and stand by.

 Winter Squash


I understand what you mean
when you say you’re alone
and hope someone rings your
bell day or night but that's
not the case with me.

You say you'd be happy to see
a Fuller Brush man at the door
if the company still has salesmen
or a man sharpening knives
although I haven’t seen a man
pushing a whetstone cart through
the neighborhood in years.

I’d be careful, Ma’m, giving
a stranger a knife to make it
sharper than it already is.
Being alone is tough enough
unless you’re a recluse like me.

We wouldn’t be talking now but
I had to take the garbage out.
My wife always did it until she
passed away a few years ago.
The autopsy was inconclusive.

If a Fuller Brush man or a guy 
sharpening knives rings my bell,
he won’t come to see me again.
I have a whetstone in the attic
and sharpen my knives as needed.
But thanks for letting me know
you’d like to have visitors.
if I ever feel like talking,
I’ll certainly ring your bell. 



Hillary was at the podium
setting the record straight
for people who have a problem
with the tone of her voice.
She said when Bill was
President some folks said
she should have stayed home
and matched up his socks.
No way, fans in the crowd
booed their response.
But in a city far away
a husband at home
watching on TV
leaned over on the couch
and whispered to his wife
he’d bet anything
Monica would have put
those argyles together.



Midnight in San Francisco.
Yoshiko is 93
and she can’t sleep
so she sits in her recliner

and nibbles on a rice cake,
sips cold tea, and thinks
about her parents who died
in flames in Nagasaki.

She came on a boat to live
with her aunt in San Francisco
and still wants to know why
they bombed Pearl Harbor.

She used to ask her aunt
and the teachers at school
but no one would ever say why.
She will ask until she dies.



On a sunny day
in Harvard Yard
blonde from Norway weds
son of chieftain
from Rwanda after
both receive degrees
with high honors.

They drive off
in a silver Porsche
touring America
on their honeymoon
until they're stopped
in a small town.
A taillight's out.

The officer says
"You're the first
salt and pepper 
I've ever ticketed"
and the bride says
"Sir, we're your first
hot fudge sundae."


Today’s LittleNip:


She’s at a flower show
miles away
arranging roses
in a vase
very carefully.
Soon judges
will decide.

I’m at home
miles away
arranging words
on a screen
very carefully.
Soon I
must decide.


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


“What are you celebrating?” “Poetry!!” 
(Anonymous Photo)

Tonight at 7:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center presents the release 

of Soul of the Narrator, a seventh chapbook by writers 
involved in Team Haag, Jan Haag's writing groups. 
Or you could head over to Davis, where The Other Voice 
presents Jeff Knorr and Troy Myers, 7:30pm. 
Scroll down to the blue column (under the green 
column at the right) for info about these and other 
upcoming poetry events 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.