—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO
A LADY BUT NOT A GENTLEMAN
Deep into a warm winter
the Japanese red maple keeps
her crown of brilliant leaves
as if to prove to the evergreens
especially that big blue spruce
he’s not the only one
who can handle winter well.
But then the rains come,
days of pounding torrents,
and the maple drops her locks
except for the last three curls.
The blue spruce is unshaken.
He stands taller and glistens.
He looks as if he's smiling
in the pouring rain.
GRANDMA AND THE STARLETS
They’re starlets Hollywood
has yet to discover, two nice
young ladies who assemble
sandwiches at the Subway Shop
Monday through Friday at noon.
Workingmen come to see them
and the manager likes that.
Herb doesn’t like the noon crowd
so he arrives early in the morning
and takes a sandwich to work.
Grandma waits on him and her
sandwiches are bigger than any
the young ladies have made for him,
more meat, cheese and veggies.
Grandma waits on Herb
three days a week and offers
no small talk unlike the young ladies.
She just asks if he wants chips with that.
He has never said yes.
One day Herb pays his tab and
tells Grandma her sandwiches
are so good she should be at
the counter making them at noon.
Grandma hasn’t shut up since.
Now Herb's sandwiches are
missiles ready for launch,
not something for lunch.
Melanie is from a small town
and finds a job in a big city
and meets Bill, the man she wants to
marry so she calls Alice, her sister,
older and married, for advice.
Alice tells Melanie to remember
women are hives where honey
is made and men are bees
who deliver the pollen.
A VISITOR AT MIDNIGHT
Middle of the night
someone's in the house.
Can’t be the wife
asleep next to you.
She'll be mad
when she finds out
you broke your word
and bought that pistol
under the mattress.
Hope she doesn't
hear you cock it.
Bad enough when
up the stairs
opens the door.
Junior never mentioned
his two-week leave
GOING TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD AGAIN
“We had the other ones done there,” says Tammy.
"Why not go there again? Everything went well.
No complications. Who cares about the publicity?
Bunch of do-gooders with hidden cameras.”
“I don’t care about the publicity,” says Jason.
“But if I’m the father and they’re going to sell
the heart, brains and liver of my fetus, I want
a share in the proceeds. There would be no
fetus, parts or proceeds if it weren’t for me.
They wouldn’t have anything to sell.”
“You’re absolutely nuts,” says Tammy,
“absolutely nuts. If they pay you,
they’ll have to pay every other
guy who gets a girl pregnant.
What about me? I’m the pregnant one.
I’m the one they’re taking it from.
Why shouldn’t I get paid, Jason?”
“We should both get paid,” says Jason.
"Let’s go down there and tell them
either we get a share of the proceeds
or you’ll have the baby instead.
Then we’ll add to the population,
use disposable diapers, flush the toilet
too often and eventually make
the world warmer than it is.”
A VERY HEAVY TRASH CAN
A neighbor lady I hadn’t seen
in a year I heard was bedridden.
Her former husband dropped by,
asked if I'd to take in her trash can
when I brought in my own.
He lived in a city far away.
She’s very sick, he said.
I said sure, not a problem.
But one morning when I
dragged my big metal can out
to the curb, hers wasn’t there.
It was always there before mine.
No idea who put it out so early.
Maybe another neighbor.
So I went in her yard and tried
to drag the can out to the curb.
It was so heavy I couldn’t move it
so I left it there, figuring whoever
had been putting it out would
find a way to do it again.
I didn’t want a hernia.
I never saw her can again.
Word was, the lady died.
There was no wake or service.
Just a small notice of cremation.
Her former husband got
the house even though they
never got along when married.
You could hear bombs
of arguments late at night.
He stopped by to thank me when
he and the realtor put a sign in the yard.
The house sold in a week to a young
couple with a brand new trash can,
fiberglass, not made of heavy metal.
The can was much smaller, though,
wouldn't hold a lot of weight.
A TWILIGHT SONG
Sometimes she sits there
and listens to him.
Sometimes he sits there
and listens to her.
Sometimes they know
what the other will say.
surprise each other.
As the years go by they
say the same things:
“I felt it again last night.
What do you think?"
But they’re careful about
what they tell each other.
Neither would want
to frighten the other.
But more often now
the key phrase is this:
“Should I call the doc now
or wait until morning."
A LIFETIME OF CARE
It’s a retirement haven
for people with money but it works
like a Roach Motel. People move in
but never move out.
You and your wife move in to
a big condo and you’re delighted
by all the amenities.
Golf, tennis, squash,
swimming in an indoor pool,
massage, good meals,
snacks for the asking, new
movies every weekend.
But then you need help
counting your pills and you
move into assisted living while
your wife moves into
a smaller apartment,
hoping to save money.
A year later you have a stroke
and you're taken by gurney
to another building, the big one
in back of the compound
no one talks about.
It’s skilled nursing there.
Your stay ends when you leave
in a long hearse with your wife
in the front seat while a new couple
moves into one of the condos.
They’re delighted by all the amenities.
Could be the condo you and your wife
moved into when you came here.
AWAY WE GO
or maybe Hell No.
Even if we weigh
a ton our body’s
not a problem
for two fellows
in black suits.
They hoist us
on the gurney
and wheel us away.
But they don’t
Our last breath
sends the soul
to the elevator
and the elevator's
It zooms away.
in the world
times a day
the elevator goes
up or down.
Some say it's
told each time
which way to go
because by God
it never stops
knows the way.
When Bill goes home
to the church of his youth
he finds things are different.
They don’t sing “Amazing Grace”
the way they did when he was
young in a pew between his parents
with hands in his lap, cowlicks askew.
Today the church has a rock band
with lyrics dancing on a screen.
Young adults and kids love the music.
They fill the pews because the folks
as old as Bill are dying.
An old friend of Bill's tells the pastor
he’s waiting to see John Belushi
do back flips down the aisle
and if that happens he’ll find
another church to tithe.
John Belushi’s dead, the pastor says.
Seeing him would be a miracle
and we can always use more miracles.
The old-timer tells the pastor a miracle
would be if someone played the organ
and sang “Amazing Grace.”
You won't find poetry anywhere
unless you bring some of it with you,
said Joseph Joubert,
a French writer whose day job
was working for Napoleon.
If Joubert was right and you have
poems marinating, then go out
and search everywhere for more.
You will find nice ones in the forest
twinkling in the eyes of a doe
or twitching in the ears of a rabbit.
Add them to your marinade and then
go into the city and you will find more
blazing in the eyes of America’s beggars.
There’s room in your marinade for more.
A WALK IN THE WOODS
In the woods soft snow
falls on the first day of spring.
Two daffodils laugh.
Our hearty thanks to Donal Mahoney from St. Louis, MO and Katy Brown from Davis, CA for today’s fine poetry and pix on this, your lucky day (Friday the 13th). Katy caught some rainbows after our recent rainy days (our Seed of the Week is Rainbows), and Donal—well, Donal’s poetry is always a marinade of rainbows! Note that Katy will be reading this Sunday with Loch Henson at Poetry at the Mine at Smith Flat House in Placerville, 2021 Smith Flat Rd., 1-3pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
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