Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Day Blacky Was Killed By A Car

After school I roll out my bike. 
Come on Blacky! Off we go. 
Not a girl and a dog but a mare and her colt
gallop across the prairie, lungs bursting.
Nothing's man-made here. 
Just sunburned grass,
endless blue sky, antelope, deer,
prairie dogs, endless grouse, 
flocks of birds, gusts of wind. 
Our muzzles agape, manes a blur,
the sun is setting
hooves turn back to paws, to legs,
we are home in time for dinner, 
the girl and her dog,
the dog on a leash. 
The dog did not chase a car.
They'll gallop again tomorrow.

Copyright (c) 2012 Ellen McCarthy. All rights reserved.

What an unemployed boy told me upon learning his unemployed girlfriend is pregnant

I've been thinking about it a lot and can't sleep 

but that’s ok. 

I think it will be fine. 
She will love me no matter how many girls I date. 

She will always be there for me. 
She loves me but I will take the baby away from her

if she tries to get me for child support. 
Money isn't the problem. 

Love is all that matters. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stop, Cry

Sometimes, not often, 
I'd see my mother crying
in the middle of an afternoon, 
her knitting slumped in her lap, 
over no cause I knew of, till now, 
being her age then, though not having seen
as much as she who witnessed genocide first hand, 
but having seen more than enough, 
I stop pumping gas and cry for this world, 
which seems so hopelessly forsaken that 
somebody ought to cry for it. 
Somebody ought to stop shopping 
or close their laptops and shed
some crocodile tears for this
sorry world.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Lanai

On that lanai in lovely Kapula, 
under a big white moon
and the ocean’s soothing roar, 
I find a moment of ease.

Until the steady groan of slimy frogs
reminds me where I am--a jungle 
of hideous creatures, frightening possibilities.
And just above my head, every second
a new electrocution scents the air with
the sizzling flesh of dying bugs, 
dangling the inevitable before me.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sunny Retirement

He told me his name but I forgot it. Larry, I think.
He lives in the Mojave.  Pioneer Town.
He built the house a decade ago
using two by fours and two by sixes,
a little insulation and dry wall.
No permits. 
He paid $5k for the land.
Property taxes total $400 a year.  

He lives hassle free except when 
he waits for a guy to fill his water tank
or when he sweeps out a sidewinder.

He's got a Kerosene lamp and an ice chest
and one neighbor 800 yards away. 
They rarely talk, just wave and nod.
For 30 years Larry worked in a factory
fixing machines. 
Saw the sun only on weekends.
Now two blue jays and a raven 
wake him every morning. 
Owls pass overhead like stealth bombers.
An occasional coyote wanders nearby
so he keeps a Winchester behind the door.
This year, Larry turns 60 and thinking about electricity.
Just bought a book on how to get it.
But he's wary, like a sidewinder, he'll anchor his head
before making new moves in the dunes.
Life on the grid can be twilit.

Copyright (c) 2012 Ellen McCarthy. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The World Intrudes

Headless Bodies Dumped in Mexico
Syrian Protestors Shot
Father Kills Family--AP

I smell mushrooms among these fallen trees,
legs ripped out of hillside beds. 
In all that violent decay, the toadstools bloom.
My God! Life’s unstoppable, brave, forgiving!

Look here! What a shiny sword of light
Cuts through this pungent grove. 
I love this place.
I can do nothing for those Mexicans.
Old trunks lay deaf and dumb in mossy coats, 
Wounds dried, knuckled fingers grasping leaves
Like dollar bills, like wills, like hope. 
Remember, trees grow back and 
One can live without legs.

Turn back now. Call my dog to heel 
Now that every log looks like a corpse.
Too many trees yanked and cut,
Their lives sacked by random whims.
I can do nothing for the Syrians.
Clouds drift, the wind blows soft and cool.
How smooth and kind it feels against my face. 
I just love this place. 
I can do nothing for those murdered babes.

But still it hurts, it hurts to feel so blessed 
that I am here, not there, not them. 

Copyright (c) 2012 Ellen McCarthy. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Buzz

The will to kill sleeps lightly.
Mine startled from the deep
by a fat little fly.
Not by the bug itself, 
not by its hive of eyes
or six furry legs that double
as a tongue and taste my arm 
when they land on it.
But by the whirr of its wings 
Hundreds of times each second --
I can’t think!
Oh that horrific hum
Seems trillions of times bigger 
than the black speck itself!
That is what carves away 
my patience, my humanity
for the chase from wall to lamp 
to door to wall and back to chair
Without a care for this bug’s role 
in the stream of life.
I'll wait, sure as a spider 
sulking on her silky thread. 
This buzzing beast will die tonight.
Copyright (c) 2012 Ellen McCarthy. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


It unnerves me really.
This glance in my rearview mirror.
This long line crawling behind me
Splashing up rain with wipers like sensors,
Long and twitching against glass, 
Mine groaning loudly.
It unnerves me really.
A swarm 
of chemically driven beings,  
Rolling behind me
And me 
Rolling behind them

Their luminous eyes
Unblinking, reflected as fangs 
Dragging in the stream
Automatically, in a trance, 
A long line of lone
Segmented creatures 
Swept along as one
But with separate purpose and
Self propelled but synchronized
As one compound living thing.
As one breathing, slow-moving being.
Not joined or even touching

Unless viewed from the Moon
or my rearview mirror

When it's clear we are one driven being. 
Only one. 
Bending in the gale.

Copyright (c) 2012 Ellen McCarthy. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Roger Dies in Shasta City

We sit together at the big picture window, gazing.
So many evergreens, he sighs.
This is mushroom country too, he says.
The Hearst family has a spread up here.
A large fringe element, too, he adds.
Godless people, Roger’s nurse mumbles.
Roger squirms in the wheel chair. He has to pee. 
Dammit! There’s not enough fat on my ass 
to sit on a toilet! 
The nurse helps him into bed, onto a pan. 
Let’s watch a movie, he says. 
How about The Big Lebowski?
That’s good for a laugh. 
Ok, I say.
All I remember of that night is Roger,
Laughing, wincing, laughing. 
We watch the movie twice.
I turn to smile at him when Walter says 
His buddies died face down in the muck
so people could enjoy a nice family restaurant.
I thought he’d be smiling too but Roger was gone.

Copyright (c) 2012 Ellen McCarthy. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Stopped By Their Headstones Again

Today I stopped by their headstones again,
Down a ways from where new mourners kneel
Beside baskets of lilies, roses, creeping thyme
And, of course, the dark hole, always a shock,
Wide against the mound of fresh dirt and mulch.
The small places that will take us all back.
What lies beneath this wormy grass is not them,
Not the buffed beings with clear coated nails
we still know well from the pictures: 
The handsome sun lovers in uniform, the newly
Baptized and Confirmed, women in see-through gowns,
Holding babies or kittens, waving from new cars,
All these life-loving toiling hearts, unprepared.
All that’s left of them now lays here underfoot--
Rows of ripened bodies, rubble, skulls, trinkets, 
Dried flesh, tangled hair, hooked nails, wax--before
They were caught in one of their usual hangouts
At their designated hour, to be hollowed out one day
Like so many small Pompeii’s or even scooped up
By incandescent beings into an uncommon world.

Copyright (c) 2012 Ellen McCarthy. All rights reserved.