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
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?

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
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

Friday, November 18, 2016


Walking home last night and I caught the eye
The sad tortured look of a man beaten by life
Desperate to escape, sell up and get out of town
The man who runs the place I used to go in order to forget
Now it looks like all he wants is to just forget everything himself
The women, the patrons and their massive bar tabs including mine
That will remain unpaid until he has gone because then, and only then,
Can I return to the place I used to love
Because now, well, I just can’t return; it’s just been too long
And the fact I have developed a thing for his ex doesn’t bode too well
The ex who left him and caused his mind to unravel
Followed very soon by his sorry excuse for a boozer
When will he go?  I just don’t know but I hope it’s soon as then, I hope
Everything will return to normal and her mood will better and
Maybe I can grow up and tell her those words desperate to be spoken.


When she ain’t here I just sit and write
Missing her lovely body, her beautiful mind
All the fun we’ve had so far and hopefully
All the time we’ve got ahead as this feels
Like something I thought was dead
Because when we talk I just can’t believe
That from such disparate positions
How our lives have crossed similar paths
The mad years of the drug fuelled craziness
Have mainly come and gone because now
Well it’s just a bit of weed and a bottle of decent red
And we’re chatting about stuff I can’t with
Anyone else and the thought returns that
Maybe, after all these years, this could be real
This could be the one I’ve been waiting for...


I sit here stoned on a Friday night
And as usual no one has called but for once
I’m just grateful to be left in peace
As this week has been testing and hard
In all the wrong ways as flat adventures went awry
And the possibility of living in Hove
Came and went in the blink of an eye


It was just another night deep in the heart of addiction and I was out of my mind
Drunk, stoned but out on the town
Almost all my money had gone to the bar but unfortunately I still wanted more
So I stood up and staggered out, sad that my time in the house of fun had ended before I’d obliterated all my brain cells
On the way home I decided to stop off and get a couple of bottles from the nearby convenience
And I stumbled in and told the man behind the desk what I wanted
The cheapest, the strongest beer I could afford but this time, shocked I was when he said NO
I was aghast as this place is open all night long and often sells to people who drink out on the street
And I’d never heard any tales of them refusing to serve anyone
But eventually I made it home and fell into my bed
The next morning exploded in a blaze of a raging hangover as I ran to my sink to get the night out of my system
I went back to bed as my head really ached and my stomach threw shapes that made me feel queasy
Later that day I managed to claw my way out and back out on the street
And the first thing I did was go back to that shop, the place of my embarrassment, and thank the guy for refusing to sell me any more
As the hangover finally began to subside and life slowly returned to its stoned-out normal state


I never thought this day would come around again
The day when I began writing imaginary letters of resignations
Because the job I have I can no longer handle
I hate it, I hate it, I hate it
Do you get my point or do you need me to say it again?
I hate it pure and simple

The other week, you know the one when I almost died
And then dragged my half-dead arse back to my check-out
Not sure what would happen because, put simply, I was a mess
Cleaning up my act after all these years and glad
Only to discover that come payday, that most joyous of days
We no longer get sick pay for the first three days

I had barely left my house during those days, lying in bed
Feeling closer to death than I ever have
And now, with rent going up and the short-fall in my pay
Well, my boss tells me, there ain’t nothing we can do
So what you’re saying is basically I’m screwed and not in a good way
If I had splurged like I did in the old days I’d be homeless right now

And then what would they have done?
Let me sleep in the locker room after I get evicted for non-payment of my rent
Which those three days pay could have prevented but hey they would say
You are easily replaced as there are thousands in this town desperate to work
With no safety net and no benefits and barely enough money to pay for anything except rent
Which this month ain’t even going to be covered because, put simply, this country is totally and utterly fucked!


There are some people who crave the suburban life and with age I think I see their point
But for me it’d be about the privacy and a place to think rather than a white-picket fence utopian dream
Just enough space to spread out all my stuff that’s been clogging up my flat and my mind for so long now
Right now though I’d take one I could simply afford but on my job the pay ain’t great
And the suburban landlords don’t really like those of us who have to claim help in order to pay them
So what should I do? Well it looks like I got to stay here or get a new job or just fuck off back to London
The poorest areas there are even worse than living here and what’s more they cost so much, way more than here

Suburban living costs a lot and that ain’t something I really got much of
To save a deposit and find a good one in time are a virtual impossibility
So life right now is all about staying in and trying to keep my account climbing up
Or is it just a reflection of my boredom of this town, having nothing to do with saving?
I simply don’t know; if this town bores me what would life be like in suburbia, could it be even worse?

At least out there I’d get some peace away from the kids on a party weekend.

Bradford Middleton

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