Saturday, December 24, 2016



                                                                         Bosnian Wings

Ashes gather,
Ashes as the feathers, the flurries,
Ashes as these falling furies settling
The dust of rubble’s softness,
Rubble’s grey chunks…

Here, out pokes an arm &
Over there, a leg, in anti-
Birth, the dismemberment connecting
What was flung & what living still
Sweeps in the span of some pigeon’s
Hop, some hawk resurrecting the memory
Of flight…

Oh, it is all a snowbound concentrate:
This throng of desolate vigilance,
Of sniper-hungry streets
In a winter of trees, bare & disparate,
Finding the sky a factory’s output,
The chuffing trains of camps…

Wings as cinders, wings as tarnish
Bring this in, polishing survival keen,
Polishing sustenance lean as the arc’s tip
Where shadows spread from breast &
The heart goes beating on…

So the breadth of days pass
Through narrow light to narrower
While faith squeaks its way in,
A chink which will blast maps back
In dreams, at some point, weary, but,

At last true to reunion from the dark
Voyage, the exile of rights

Migrating again

                                                                           Oh Homophobe

I've had to kill you again
like Sylvia Plath's Daddy
you kept reappearing-----
Hydra-headed, jellyfish stinger
without the luminous grace,
more a thug's truncheon:
Your voice, your planetary
terrorist's moves
of slander, then violence
minions do the dirty work of
while you lie on your back,
dictator-babe, rolling the globe
with the bald balls of your feet.

Bully for you,
heel, I say, stay, bad doggie,
to peel all the hate off you
requires lye and quick lime,
but you diet on the acid,
resurface bilious,
with intestinal sheen
theocratic-gaudy,
while lacking the guts
to pick off those jeweled maggots
and smell your real stench,

Mistress lethal live-slime death ray,
Monsieur village-pillager,
scumbag lord of the flies.



            Joe, Checking Out

Is it a lot like the last time, coming,
a balloon man, freshly pumped & re-blown
straight from the V.A.?
Back then, those days were saloon-slung,
the stools' greased wooden gyrations
all a boozy romance rerunning, inside
your head, images clipped out of
Wild Wild West.  You were
some card playing cowboy, the kind
who wore black, more a joker
than a villain, an outlaw
to be rooted for 'cause you had
chutzpa, humor & a gold mine soul.
Come on wildcatter, time to cash
your chips in, bolt the last shot &
snap your artificial leg back
above the knee cap.  How's
the phantom memory, the ache
for your real one lost
to war trails, diseased streets &
one drug-humped motorcycle
trying to outride all those old demons?
0,K.  Here's your crutch.  Here's your
trumpet, plus the tattooed dreams man,
which take jazz & jettison the insulting
world with an intimacy of tongue-traced
thighs, lip-kissed backs, all the genuine
sweet secret skin sessions.
Joe, this time as you go, valium shaving
the pain's edge, remember you took
the fooling around seriously, took
a desperado's razor & cut away, cut
away till there was nothing but
your tender self:
that man with the star,
that strong human laughter
& brave eyes on the horizon.



 

                                                       The Black Dress
                                                                     (For Mofina's Samara)

Those ashes came back
in these muslin sleeves
& that collar of lace.
Robed women attend to buttons,
murmuring now
from what was ululation before.
How sore the beaten breasts are still
as if each fist
attempts memory's' restoration
beyond the smoldering desert city.

Was my husband's face
those scattering plumes
& not the tortured horror
those soldiers brought on
with their battering ram cocks
after they tied him to a chair
& forced him to watch?

After awhile numbness was struggle
turned inside until their bullets shattered
his agonized skull & my scream
took his flesh, swallowing his bleeding.

Don't shoot my son!,
a toddler only, but the plea was too late
as their grenades took our home
& they escaped in the chaos
of different Outsider's bombs blazing.

Dragged to the street
neighbors hooded heads, one large,
one small, for my loved one's bodies
laid on scorched earth.

This dress knows such stained
dish towels which covered what was left
in that smoking grit, its broken asphalt,
& that raw grief hands cradled, lifting
to carry as much as possible.

Our Procession was a howling
right down to the Tigris, its shift
these pleats now
as if my dress walks on without me,
inhabiting my bones while clouds
are my eyes, a terrorist's vengeance

foreigner's made.



When Did It Start?

Later
I was seven I think
taking a pill
or eight.  I don't
or drink
remember except
trying not
Dad it was
to flashback
scary, your
for the bombardment
voice, touch
an illiterate's shame
it, that's
victim's wrath
nice lamb chop you
would question my
deserve this
innocence & there
the rope then & I
would always be
pretended my body
an interrogation
was another kid's
as if it
while trying
was Salem
like my Aunt said
and I was
not to dwell on
a witch
the word elephant


 Stephen Mead
At Bus Stops on Thanksgiving Day


Before dawn, people
who work on Thanksgiving Day  
wait in the wind for a bus 
to arrive or maybe not.
It's too cold to talk  
so the people stand 
like minutemen and plan 
a revolution that would shock  
nice families who drive by later, 
children tucked in scarves 
and mittens, laughing 
all the way to Nana's house  
for turkey, gravy, stuffing 
and later in the day 
ballerina of whipped cream 
twirling on pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving is the day 
America asks for seconds
and sorts its servers 
from the served.


Donal Mahoney


First Waitress
 

Outside, the still
of crickets.
Inside, petals
of a cold sore
foliate,
a boutonniere
for full lips.
Looking up, I tell her
two eggs, basted,
hash browns,
coffee now.
Later on,
she says
the birthmark
I found
south of her navel
she’s had
all her life.
 
 
Donal Mahoney


Concert at Bernie’s


When Bernie wakes at 6 a.m.
there's a piano on his chest
and Erroll Garner's playing "Misty."
Sinatra's on the headboard 
improvising lyrics
and Krupa's in the corner 
painting on the drums.
The music is magnificent.
Once the song is over 

Bernie chants his morning prayers,
shaves and showers and limps to work
for another day at the gherkin factory. 
The foreman, Mr. Simpkins, is an ogre 
nonpareil, a sumbitch unsurpassed, 
who stalks the catwalk all day long
with megaphone and stopwatch.
At 5 p.m. the factory spits Bernie 
and his cohorts out the door 

so Bernie limps to the Hot Wok Shack
and buys a carton of Egg Fu Yung 
and heads back home to wait for dawn 
so he can hear Erroll play "Night and Day"  
while Sinatra does the vocal and
Krupa punctuates the piece
softly on the drums.

Bernie spends each day in hell but dawn 
is always a concert from heaven.


Donal Mahoney


Epilogue for an Election

After the TV mavens had their say
the gnomes crept out of their caves
spoke and returned to their caves. 

Thunder struck, hell broke loose
and the mavens came back on TV
predicting Armageddon.

In cities all over the nation
pimples popped and broke.
Pus flows in the streets.


Donal Mahoney


Making Certain It’s Wally

Wally made the long drive home 
from vacation on Election Day
because he wanted to vote. 

He went for a jog and then to the polls
and cast his vote for his candidate. 
Then he jogged to the Post Office

to pick up the mail held for him 
while he was away on vacation.  
But they wouldn’t give him his mail.

He had no I.D. in his sweat pants.
Not to worry, Wally told the clerk.
He'd come back with his I.D. later.


Donal Mahoney


A Comma Is a Pipe Dream

The amount in every paycheck
has a period in it. Those who 
get a paycheck every week

dream about seeing a comma 
three spaces in front of the period. 
Those who have a comma

dream about seeing a 2
in front of the comma 
instead of a 1.  

Those who have a 2 
in front of the comma
dream about a 3  

That’s how it works for those 
with good jobs and benefits 
but not for those on

minimum wage.
Many of them see only 
three numbers in front 

of the period every week. 
The first number is always a 3 
after taxes and deductions.  

If a 4 or 5 would replace the 3 
they might celebrate a tad 
and give a little shout.

But they will never see a comma 
three spaces ahead of the period.
That’s a pipe dream not theirs to see.


Donal Mahoney