Saturday, February 28, 2015

Poetry by Joan McNerney and Flash Fiction by Will Mayo


Since I'm behind schedule, tonight I thought that I'd combine two of the upcoming entries.  The first is Joan McNerney's "Dream House."   Also, for those of us in the cold and snow, Monet's Water Lilies bring a welcome warmth.  Looking at his paintings, I don't even mind the bugs of summer!

Dream House

Once I passed lovely gardens
gliding over a small bridge.  Dancing
upon moving stones.  Large perfect
pebbles in cool water.

Feet floating with no effort. 
How wondrous to slip...slide...glide.
Coming to towers glowing
bright orange sand...sandstone castles

O how I miss the ocean!  So
exciting watching from far above
as ships enter port.  Am I flying
now to a destiny unknown?

Most times simply sleepwalking along
amazing hometown avenues, suddenly
full of exotic trees, sculptured stairways,
bridges, sparkling fountains.  Twice my
superb high-rise grew in dangerous areas.

There were lines of people waiting.
All standing in menacing rows before
limestone, brownstone, red brick buildings.
Suddenly scattering like angry pigeons.

A dazed ride took me on a long trip,
everything twisting and turning around
so many tunnels, highways, bridges.
Finally arriving at a condominium
full of brilliant flowers.

Yet always wanting to return to my
dream house, my sandstone castle.
Where has it gone? 

And now for Will Mayo's flash fiction....



Will Mayo

The room is built of concrete blocks, laid over with the gaudiest of tile.  Men and women dressed all in white, parade the corners, some with hypodermic needles and stethoscopes, others with strange-speaking tongues.

The bed itself is in the center of the room.  Laid over with white sheets stained with yellow and brown, the best that can be said of the man who lies there is that he stays still; he does not move in habitual dance like the others.

You would think it would take an effort to remain this still; so still that not even all the devils raising muster could bring him from his sleep.  But, rather, he lies there in seemingly the most tranquil of sleeps; his eyelids not even twitching as he lies there.  Yet only a fool would call this paradise.

Now and then, a nurse will come by, past the writhing dancers, and check all the tubes running throughout his body for minimal sustenance.  Either that or inject a needle into one of the bulging veins off his thin, frail arms, bolted down to the bed so that they don’t turn inwards.  She assumes nothing.

The doctors themselves no longer come by, having long since given up all semblance of hope.  “No counseling fit for the dead,” they say whenever the nurse asks them.  If only they knew.

He listens to their every speech, wishes to smile if the muscles will allow it.  Much in the manner of an old dog that has at last learned a new trick, he has fooled them all.  Or so he thinks.

Behind the thin veil of muscles that have gone to atrophy and breathing that has long since ceased to be noticeable, he dreams.  He is on a high plain, all green with wild grass and an occasional bush or tree, as the wind blows its fierce racket through the cloudy air.  There is a feeling of desolation here, one which only he could take pleasure in.

And he is alone, away from all the wild dancers and scowling doctors of the place he has grown to love and hate at much the same time.  It gives him a feeling of exhilaration to be so alone, and for him not to have to move to get to where he is.  “Like magic,” he says to himself, “this stuff of dreams.”

But just as he has muttered these words to himself, a figure appears out of the mists of the high plain.  Skeptical and bemused at having his aloneness invaded, he is still somewhat interested as he watches her appear.  A familiar sight, she is in a red cardigan sweater, old-style khaki pants, and an Eton jacket that does not hide her beauty.  Her hair is long and flows about her face to her shoulders in a Valentine shape.  As she speaks, he can still hear the feel of Old Boston come down to countenance itself in the South.

“I’m sorry, James,” she says, with a slight hurt look in both her face and voice.  “I never should have made fun of you.  It was the worse of times--for both of us.”  He listens to her carefully, can almost feel the old stones of Johns Hopkins beneath his feet, but, no, he must stay in this dream, no other.  A tear runs down his ragged cheek, if only in the winds of the plain, not the white-draped hospital room.

Her words -- Catherine’s words -- bring back memories of an intimate moment, best left to silence and reflection of the flesh; not laughter down the halls of the fraternity.

Finally, as if in some obscure rhythm, his arms herein cloaked in the old-school tweed as well as the mist, come up just as hers do.  He walks towards her just as she walks towards him.  There is a frantic tumbling in the wind, just to reach one another’s arms; the ultimate challenge to his aloneness, the dependence of self.

But it is, he realizes once more, just a dream.  The wind howls one last time, and he tries to ease out a scream, as he hears again, behind blinded eyes, the wild dancers of the room.  It comes out as breath just a bit more raspy, a breath that only the nurse can hear.  His skin, his bones, they do not move.

“I think he needs to be alone a while,” the nurse says, as she ushers the long bed away.  “This is getting to be too much attention for him.”  The doctor orders one more shot.

What Lurks In These Woods


Will Mayo

It happened one night in the summer of my seventh year that my father and I were headed home from the family farm when we spied a car ahead of ours blocking the little one lane road we were on. As there was no way around the car we walked forward to touch base with the driver. Out of the vehicle hopped a pimply teenager with a worried look on his face.

“You’ve got to see this yourselves to believe it,” he said.

We walked around the car and saw there in its path one of those monsters out of the Alabama woods, an enormous snake easily 12 feet long and as big around as a strong man’s thigh. Though it had clearly been run over it writhed back and forth on the pavement with a couple of dents in its side.

Not knowing what else to say, my father simply advised the teen to “Just run over it a couple more times, will you?”

The teenager took my Dad’s advice to heart and climbed back into his Chevy and ran over the rattler once, then twice, then stopped. He got out again and came back our way.

“I figure he’s met his end at last,” the boy said.

Sure enough, the rattlesnake was in his death throes. Back and forth it weaved on the country road coming ever nearer and nearer my little boy feet. Spellbound, I watched it as if hypnotized by the sight.

“Best not too close, son,” my father said to me with a hand on my shoulder. “He may be dying, but dying still he can bite.”

At last, the reptile ceased its writhing before us and came to a stop. We watched in silence as the boy easily manhandled the snake into his car and cranked up the engine.

“Tastes like chicken, I hear,” my Dad said to the teenager.

“Yep,” the boy replied.

Together, we saw him head off and then got back into our own car and headed out of those woods. The darkness swallowed us whole.



Will Mayo

It's been some forty years and more but still I can remember listening to the radio with the gadget pressed to my ear during a long ago Alabama thunderstorm as the midnight hour drew near. Crash! went the cymbals. And then I could hear that delightful melody of Ms. Lena Horne singing, "Stormy Weather... All I have is stormy weather...When everything I have is gone... Stormy weather..." Crash came the thunder and then too the midnighthour. I was a boy in love. And I've been smitten by the blues ever since...

I have to start our music with Lena Horne's "Stormy Weather":

Here is her "Someone to Watch Over Me":

To finish with, I want to include some music by Bud Powell since my husband and I went to a really wonderful tribute to him last night.

Here is his "Lullaby of Birdland":

I'll finish with his "Un Poco Loco":

1 comment:

  1. I particularly like "Alone" which begs the question is the patient in another dimension or simply drugged. His dream-like musings are simply wonderful.