Thursday, August 27, 2015

It’s the empty signature line,
that blank place on the form
right after the word, name.
It’s the x we tried to find in math,
the unknown in chemistry lab,
the final line to the word puzzle
we worked on all afternoon.
It’s what’s missing from too fat
phone books, with their pages
and pages of Smiths and Joneses,
so many they become disguises
that everyone of no one wears.
It’s a being being willfully invisible,
not even the shadow of himself
or herself, as the case may be.
It’s the person today who called
three times, and left no message
from their unlisted number.
It’s why there’s graffiti aplenty,
nameless faces, faceless names
following us all over the city.
It’s why some of us don’t vote,
and some don’t call their families
for months and months.
It’s the way I feel in a crowd
these days, bumped and jostled,
a nuisance, an inconvenience,
a blank at the bottom of the page
I tried so hard to write.

It settles everywhere, it settles everything
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the words seem
Ironic as we Swiffer and Pledge our way
Through our house, as if there was hope of
Getting ahead of it, as it sifts down behind
Our efforts, fills in, waits; I have written
My name, more than once, in the dust, tried
To record the moment as it passed, as I
Passed briefly by, the dust, each time, fills in
Inherits my name, blanks it, blends it into
The surface, a blanket of dirt, of dust to dust.

The sequence is set. The time will come, and he will call
from a newly purchased disposable phone, he’ll call and
say the signal phrase, and we, even if we don’t know the
others or where what we do fits into the sequence, will do
our assigned task, the things we have been waiting to do
all these years in deep cover, and then it all will be set in
motion – one thing triggering the next, triggering the next,
it will stop them in the street, catch them in the classroom,
the politician mid-speech, the singer mid-song, salesmen
and carpenters, businessmen mid-deal, lawyers and lovers,
a chain reaction, an avalanche, a tsunami of change will come
and the world we think we know will never be the same,
there will be light at the end of the tunnel, the end of our day,
and we will be speeding toward it, hanging on for the ride.

                       Consider the Lilies

While they don’t toil or spin, they do need a few things
For instance, fields, preferably, with six to eight hours
Of sun a day, proper planting, deep enough with proper
Spacing, and thorough watering to start, then tending
With fertilizer every two weeks, watering in summer, if
By chance it doesn’t rain an inch a week, but once they
Catch on they put on quite a show, Solomon in all his glory
Etcetera, etcetera, all that biblical rant about transience
The things of today getting cast in the oven of tomorrow
But here, without a burn permit, that never really happens
And the birds not sowing or reaping or gathering and yet
Every morning first thing I fill up the feeder and spread
Some on the ground for all the walk around ground birds
As if their heavenly father could easily slip up and forget
This once, as it seems He does so often with the rest of us.

J.K. Durick

Well dressed tourists
clog desirable streets
digitally clicking
hi-tech cameras
at sights of interest.
Except for minor differences
it’s hard to differentiate
between bearers of the Euro
and those using the dollar.

Gary Beck

Going Once…
Auction houses thrive
on collective greed
as the seasonal sale
of Impressionist paintings
attracts the wealthy,
American, European, Asian,
squandering their riches
on recognized art,
a secure commodity
for avid investors,
to the approving applause
of titillated spectators
endorsing extravagance
in the showrooms of acquisition.

Gary Beck
Ode to the Forgotten
As your value sinks to obscurity
to the wealthy, the powerful,
who no longer recognize
the necessary labor
to keep food growing,
to maintain the roads
so food can travel
and feed the hungry,
who tend the water system
so the pipes don’t go dry
and thirst can be slaked.

And if the toilers are neglected
while the rich carouse on mega-yachts,
and are not nourished
they fall into despair,
no longer preserve the skills
that bind the nation together,
and the contract between those who have
and those who aspire, lapses,
and the workers are despised
instead of recognized
for meritorious service
that allows all to function,
rich and poor alike,
as long as there is hope
for another tomorrow.

And if the low envy the privileged
this is the pattern of history,
yet toilers should not be scorned
by economic betters
merely because they have less.
As the needs of the people are neglected
then their efforts will diminish,
skills will dwindle, repairs will suffer
in the loss of ability
to fix something,
talents will not be nurtured,
so quality will decline.

If the rich do not awaken
to their dependence
on the populace at large,
collapse is inevitable
and there will be no refuge
for rich and poor alike.

The wealthy my last a little longer,
but if they have children,
heirs to prosperity
who they wish to flourish,
they must change the fortunes
of a faltering people,
allow wealth to trickle down
to nourish continuity,
support parental dreams
for cherished offspring
fearful of the future,
who do not think
they will prosper.

So awaken oligarchs,
the safest refuge
in a dangerous future
is in your own land,
no security offshore,
and sustain those
who sustain you,
before it is too late.
Gary Beck

Imminent Despair
A man sits by the window
of his decaying house
watching the children
at play on the street
unaware of anything
but the game of tag,
as urgent feet
escape capture.
They do not know
the troubles of the land,
the loss of jobs, homes,
the end of hope for many.

A man sits by the window
of his decaying house
about to be foreclosed
by a religious bank
devoted to profit,
indifferent to the woes of the people
as long as it makes money,
so the wealthy can flourish
as the social network crumbles
under the burden of demand
from legions of the needy,
deprived of resources
to endure deprivation.

A man sits by the window
of his decaying house
watching the children play
completely unaware
he has no voice
in a nation is divided
between haves and have-nots.

Gary Beck

Flying has become
almost normal
for many,
but not as stress free
as train or bus.
The biggest tensions,
lateness, noise, overcrowding,
are not as stressful
as the occasional shock
when the Captain’s voice
says: ‘fasten seat belts’.
For a nervous moment
there is atavistic fear
that we will fall out of the sky,
quickly forgotten
when turbulence subsides.
We resume listening to our IPODs,
watching the in-flight movie,
eating the courtesy pretzels,
brief alarm forgotten, suppressed
apprehension replaced
by expectation of arrival.

Gary Beck

from Claws this Pause

In a dream a bear cub came to me
to tell me I would die without glory, and I did
not cry, for somehow I knew this had always been
true.  I thanked him by offering my hand
to shake or eat, whichever
is more appropriate in dreams these days.
He refused both,
mumbled something about being
a germaphobic vegan, two things I know little about
so I said nothing as I watched him walk away.

I woke the next morning, still chained to the life
of a man I did not respect, a man who did not
even know the entirety of my name, and I decided
the bear was a messenger meant to bleed
me like a bullet.  I gave myself up
to the transfusion, walked out of the upside down
life I had been hiding under, and tried
once again to teach my eyes the difference
between the shapes of shadow and sun.

A.J. Huffman

Concentric Circles

scream like air
that isn’t there.  I
can see them, mocking
me from shallow shadows.
I long to play
inside their expansive embrace,
but I am collapsing
inside myself as if I were
a reflection of their falling.
Call me Ishmael
and hand me a harp.
I have every intention
of singing as I go down
with this invisible ship.
A.J. Huffman

I Am Crucifixion

abandoned idol, hanging in penance
for others’ sins.  Stripped to the waist, nailed
to splintering symbol of my own faith.
Wearing crown of thorns, I am blessed rose,
marking universal grave.  Sacrificed,
I am anonymous figure, assuming blame.  I am
mother, daughter, holy ghost
of flesh discarded.  I am expendable
angel, dying in plain sight.
A.J. Huffman

This is Affliction

I did not want the weight of place,
refused the floor.  I chose
to dangle like the ghost of a hybrid
orchid, picked by childish hands
that did not understand my vibrancy.
In a glass cage with no ceiling,
I dream and sing of absence.
I am cursed with the gift of shatter,
but am unable to use it for myself.

A.J. Huffman
AFTER ‘TRILICE’ for Vallejo [Stefanie Bennett]
No! I will not describe these trying times
In order to please
A referendum of lies
Any child, with ease
Can annunciate.
Is what you made it.
If distinction’s a saving grace
                 - Say so!
If doubt crossed
Your safe
Who invented
Indifferent suburbs.
Objecting to a ‘morbidity tax’
                  By decree
Have already
Attached mediocrity.
Gone are the days
When poets, under heaven’s
Gaze, saved
Reading Seamus Heaney

The Second Commandment
is pretty specific: Thou shalt not take 
the Name of the Lord Thy God in vain.
It’s one of the few commandments 
I seldom break but the other night 
I was reading Seamus Heaney
and was torn by the beauty 
ringing in my ears and “Jesus Christ!” 
slipped out of my mouth but I 
don’t think I said His Name in vain.
I spoke in high praise of a poet who 
has left behind a body of work that 
leaves me gasping for a respirator.

But the Second Commandment
is pretty specific so I plan to ask
Father Kelly if my "Jesus Christ!
while reading Seamus Heaney
was a mortal sin, and if he says yes, 
I’ll be careful reading Heaney again
because if I find better poems
and "Jesus Christ!" slips out again 
I might have a heart attack and die
pajama-clad in my old recliner.
I could wake up ablaze in Hell.
I'll have to be careful reading 
Seamus Heaney again.

Donal Mahoney

Subway Sarah

Sarah works lunch in a Subway shop
building sandwiches for construction men 

putting up a skyscraper down the street.
The men pick their own bread and meat and let 

Sarah pick their cheese because instead of a cookie
with their lunch they’d prefer Sarah after work.

Every month or so the crew changes and Sarah picks 
the man who looks the best, says the nicest things 

and agrees to meet him for coffee later at Starbucks. 
If he passes muster over lattes, Sarah takes him home 

and finds herself an hour later staring at the ceiling while
he pulls on his boots, says he’ll call and goes home. 

None of the men has ever called or is seen again 
except at Subway where he now picks his own cheese. 

Donal Mahoney

Old-Timer’s Disease

Under his pillow he keeps
a pistol not to shoot the man
coming through the window
with a bazooka at midnight
and waking the wife who later  
asks him why he shot the burglar 
instead of asking him what he wanted. 
It might have been something she 
planned to give to Goodwill anyway.
He keeps the pistol under his pillow

to take into dreams that wake him
every night in Cinemascope 
where he again is the lead actor 
in films 5years ago surrounded by 
lesser men in supporting roles
who drove him nuts when he was
young and handsome and now 
they’re back again because they heard 
he has Old-Timers Disease 
and they want to badger him 

about their wives who chased him 
all over Hollywood on Oscar Night.
They’re mopes, he tells his wife,
who never had a lead role, mopes
who would have been shot on set
if he hadn’t feared execution 
but now in his dreams every night 
these mopes had better duck. 
The worst sentence he can get is 
dreams for life without parole.

Donal Mahoney

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"We are already vanishing. The Curse of it all cries benevolently. Circumstances stand and remind us how love has cut us. Cut us clean." Stefanie Bennett. "The Vanishing."

"What else is causing ‘the decline’ in people! First up, the ‘everyday ones’ are lied to, humiliated, and rightly feel ‘used’ by governments, their ‘Leaders’ and the powerful top-end of town. Even those not usually politically aware want to know why billions of bucks will be given to Iran to continue doing what they’re doing... nuking-up. [Even if the US hadn’t agreed to everything they asked for, Russia is on record for saying it would supply what was needed; China – ditto.] And what with the rest in a ‘spin’ Putin can move in and take what he wants and work his way through the Baltic States [that are on alert] because most of Europe is ‘free game’... and Germany won’t do anything. Who’ll lift a finger? Well Israel’s got to... because they understand what the Balts know. Even ‘down under Australia’ sits on this powder-keg [again] what with North and South Korea at it again. Ah well... the so called ‘religion’ reason for all the rest of it can’t be swallowed either. Women and children being raped, the aged murdered, very little medical attention, millions ‘on-the-run’ – Good God, how can the Western countries NOT move against the obvious? Iran and its ‘sister’ country are too alike even if [at the moment] they are opposing one another. It’s a mess. Nasty for the world itself, my friend. Obama must move along with the UK, Aust., New Zealand, Canada, and sections of the Continent who want the peace everyone deserves."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

     Hillary, at bat, with her personal Blackberry,
Or switch hitting, for convenience, with an IPad or IPhone,
     Striking out while swinging away at a "handful" of "typical" private e-mails,
Trying her "easiest" to steal her way "home."
     But throwing a variety of pitches, Republicans,
Enough GOP hopefuls running for Captain to more than field a team,
     Cleared her dugout of all but drama? No! Seeing the septuagenarian Sanders surge, others encouraged...
..."Serving" to make it harder for Hillary to "secure" the party pennant and her White House dream.
     And then there's the injuries, part and parcel of hardball,
The self inflicted wounds can take a toll...and may accumulate...
     ...Become career ending...Democrats have no other power hitters to call up,
Perhaps making this Presidential season, the cellar, their fate.
     How many times have baseball owners paid a huge salary,
Just to see "inevitable" expectations for the post season dashed,
     Beware donors to the Clinton Foundation, those who forked over inordinate speaking fees,
A change up! A competition! The top of the lineup on Opening Day's coronation is being crashed!

     As we prepare for the 2016 Fall Classic, minor and major leaguers in Spring training,
Dr. Ben...Carly...the Donald...Ted...on an outsider league roll,
     Investigations threaten to place Hillary on the DL; time to recruit a reliever to close down the stretch?
Not fan friendly, sinking fast...nostalgia and name recognition can only get her so far toward her goal.
Karen Ann DeLuca
They Call It Euthanasia

We took a feral cat
we'd been feeding to the vet
when it stopped eating.

It was lying on the deck
too weak to object.
The vet said tests

would cost $400
to figure out the problem.
Or we could euthanize the cat.

That would cost less.
It was up to us, he said.
I asked him if old and sick

cats and dogs were still 
euthanized with gas
and he said no.

It’s by injection now.
They don’t feel a thing.
Perhaps that will help

if the Court decides
some day to cull
the herd of old folks.

Donal Mahoney

Political Debates

Over the years
I have found the best way
to watch political debates 

on the telly is with 
my back to the set
bent over at the waist.

Thanks to new laws
enacted recently
In Ireland and America

one can get married now,
if one has a mind to,
without standing up.

Donal Mahoney

Library Card

Emily went to the library
to sign up for a library card

so she could take out books
and use the free computers

but the clerk ask for identification
and Emily didn’t have any

so the clerk suggested she 
sign up to vote instead.

Donal Mahoney

Sunday, August 16, 2015


He was a tiny footnote—one
lost horn player—just one too
many—admired but forgotten three
years after dying on stage. He played for
food, played for love. He flatted fifths
and bopped hard—eight to the six—

fell onto motel beds at six
in the morning (checkout was always one).
He played in big bands or with five
guys he didn’t like—as long as one or two
could really play. He made four
records and played on three

famous dates, but only three
reviews mentioned him. In sixty-six
he got real lucky—he opened for
Miles. Then that deep dark one
spoke and said,” Don’t play Two
Bass Hits on my bill. Only five

cats play it as good.” Only five.
Most players would take that over three
weeks at Birdland. He’d done that, too.
Downbeat spelled everything wrong, called his “six
work very hot, very saxy. One
of the few, maybe tre or four

young palyers we’d stand in line for.”
Interviewed him once. He said, “If I’ve
played real good—I ‘member one
night—hot, June night, blowing at three
a.m.—only about two chicks and six
guys left standing. Soloed for twenty-two
choruses of ‘Night in Tunisia’—other two
cats laid out—just the rhythm beating four
into eight—not one of those six
even heard it. Packed up at five.
I remember that night. Maybe three
others like it.” He didn’t say one

word more. Five old players, just two
he knew, and three ex-wives were there for
the service. One piano played him over the Styx.

Mark J. Mitchell


Don’t move piles of pebbles.
—Sappho, Fragment 143

A mountain escaped leaving
one pure tear—
a small lake just
to tease the city.

We dream of water here
and wake up
with dust tears
coating our pure lips.

So we take turns
kissing that lake.
We may taste it but—
teased—we can’t swallow.

Someday we’ll escape dust
like the mountain and we’ll drop
real tears in to the heart
of a dry, impure city.

Mark J. Mitchell


First there’s a picture, both awkwardly hung
and poorly framed. Now reach. Don’t break the glass.
Your hands are precious as the spectral face
in front of you. Neither can be replaced
these days. Your arms sport gooseflesh. It won’t last.
Now stroke the flesh awake. It’s firm, soft, young.
It was never that young before this frame
enclosed it. Now remember all you’ve done
to her. Good. Now watch your slow breath erase
the image and your sins. You may trace
that smile with a damp finger one last time.
Don’t speak. They don’t use words here. This is mime,
not drama. You only dream you feel her lace
collar, her loose hair. You wake in framed space.

Mark J. Mitchell


The rain gleams and is gone.

I can make nothing of the lion
but a small shape scraped in bone.

The plague arrives
knocking on my forehead.
The door yawns.

Mark J. Mitchell


I guard a door and consider the Grachii,
sorting reformers from programmers—none
may pass without electric blessing. Some
try. Most fail. Weary vigilance is my
lonely duty: I must hold these gates firm
against some temporary citizens,
make a holy space for denizens
of this digital republic. I turn
back all who speak my tongue. Where is the land
that troops are owed? Will our crops grow themselves?
Only coffee is sold within these walls.
The masters of technique, their soft white hands
unused to plows, must still be fed. Their cell
phone guide them. They’ve made an app for the fall.

Mark J. Mitchell


The stars are a memory system.
—Diane di Prima
Notes on the Art of Memory

Today the calendar
counts only days.

It pretends to map stars
but can’t chase their memories.

Pages are empty of festivals.
Mysteries are no longer hidden.

They are missing.
The sky is almost empty.

Tonight’s the moon’s covert smile
sports one star—like a tear.
Mark J. Mitchell

No More Toilets for Lupe

If The Donald gets his way
Lupe will no longer 
clean toilets in America

working in hotels
following her husband, 
Pablo, as he follows  

produce ripening 
on vines and trees 
and in fields from 

California to Alabama
picking peaches
and melons every day

week after week
during the harvest
for you and for me and

The Donald who says
if he gets his way,
Lupe and Pablo will 

go back to the village 
where a toilet has
yet to be seen.

Donal Mahoney

Casserole Candidates

When candidates stop 
applauding themselves
I decide which one 

in this odd buffet 
of strange casseroles 
is saying what he or she

thinks will get them elected 
and not what they will do 
if they are elected and then 

I vote for the one I think
is least apt to make things 
far worse than they are.

Donal Mahoney

A Matter of Pride

I first heard about
the Seven Deadly Sins
in grammar school
back when kids
memorized almost 

Wrath, Greed, Sloth,
Pride, Lust, Envy,
Gluttony skipped off 
my tongue in third grade 
even though I had 
little idea of what 
they meant.

As I grew older
and learned what
they involved
I came to think Pride 
wasn't as deadly 
as the others
since most Americans
inherit Pride
to some degree 
in their DNA

but then I listened to 
a political debate 
the other night
and heard someone
with terminal Pride
preach on television, 
someone who should 
have been in hospice 
rather than on stage.

As Americans we’re 
lucky terminal Pride 
is not contagious.
We know it’s an
autoimmune disease.
No cure for that.

Donal Mahoney

Take Me to the Taxidermist
I told my wife the other night
when she came back to bed 
my feet were cold so now's 
the time for me to tell her  
not to bury me or burn me 
or give my body to science.

Take me to the taxidermist 
and have him dress me in  
Cary Grant's tuxedo, a pair 
of paten leather shoes
from Fred Astaire and a 
straw hat from Chevalier.

Once I'm a Hollywood star, 
stand me in the garden with 
that chorus line of blondes, 
brunettes and redheads 
I stationed there the day she
flew home to Mother in a snit.

Years later now, my dancers still 
kick high enough to lance the sun. 
I plan to hold a last rehearsal 
once my wife motors into town 
and finds a priest who'll say 
a thousand Masses for my soul.

Donal Mahoney

Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...