Poems

 

July 4th Barbecue – Donal Mahoney

for Kermit Gosnell, M.D.

 

Every year Dr. Gluck,

the famed gynecologist,

invites his nurses to his ranch

for his July 4th barbecue.

 

The nurses and their husbands

drive miles to watch the doctor 

twist the necks of 20 chickens 

before he dips the fowl, some 

still wriggling, in a big vat 

of boiling water to remove 

the feathers before he tears 

the legs and wings off 

and places the parts 

neatly on the grill.

 

Everyone agrees the meat 

is wonderful, as is the sauce. 

No knife is needed except 

to butter the fresh-baked rolls.

The slaw and potato salad 

have no peer, the nurses say. 

They claim the same is true 

of his ice cream and pecan pie.

 

The perfection of this feast

is no mystery, really.

Every July 4th Dr. Gluck

celebrates America and

demonstrates outdoors 

the skills he’s honed 

indoors for 30 years. 

The nurses agree, however, 

the fetuses don’t wriggle 

as much as the chickens do 

and it’s nice the fetuses 

go in a bucket 

and not on a grill.

 

 

Dog Sledding in the Diaspora – Kathleen Rohr

This is a tale of a desert land that yields

a prickly sun

bizarre behavior

and rotten eggs

This desert snuggled against San Jacinto Mountains

looking for shade

from the relentless heat

Agua Caliente Indians found

receptive canyons

glossy green foliage like mint popsicles

mystical bubbling springs

They settled and called the land Se-Kh

They practiced the 42 Oracles

I will not be an eavesdropper

I will not speak overmuch

I will not waste water

I will not pee in the Jacuzzi

In their creation story

twin cosmic brothers Mukat and Temayawet

made

tobacco

the sacred pipe

the six directions

GPS for men who would not ask directions

They pulled rising and setting suns

from their hearts

to light the sacred pipes

The sun burned the people

who were closest to it

a black color

those further away

a brown color

did not affect

white people who ran to the north

and discovered ice hockey

Mukat and Temayawet argued over

whose creation was best

When the people they created

began to leave

Mukat grasped the red people

and kept them with him

They became

the Cahuilla Indians

He promised them

abundant land

and shares in future gambling casinos

The U.S. government

took most of the desert away from them

and gave it to the railroad

which sold parcels to fair-skinned promoters from the east

Hollywood filmmakers

who heard about the restorative powers of the waters

and had not yet learned about skin cancer

came in Packards and discovered the desert

They built golf courses and tennis courts

and lie in the searing sun

They name a road Rio del Sol

later call it Bob Hope Drive

when they believe in entertainers

and not the universe

The federal government allocated pillaged reservation land

to individual members of the tribe

in a process called “allotment” that meant

“don’t hit on 17”

They called the desert land Palm Springs

The quiet but determined flock from the north

began flying back

Canadians

who slammed doors against the frigid north

traveled to the desert

and then told the local residents how great it was back home

Winter was on a Tuesday this year

The clouds hung low

it rained hard and dark in the morning

In the afternoon

the skies cleared

to a boastful blue

there was snow on the three mountains that defined the land

People so inclined took out their cross country ski equipment

A Canadian venture capitalist told the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce

“The greatest recreational sport available in Canada

is eco-terrorist husky dog sledding across snow-covered trails”

The Chamber looking for ways to duplicate the experience

discovered that dog sledding in the desert

differed from sledding in Banff or the Yukon

In Canada, the sled glided smoothly and quietly over the snow

in the desert, it clunked over sand, cactus, and tumbleweed

In Canada, the tour operators were Eddie Bauer head to toe

in the desert, as old as the sand, cactus, and tumbleweed

In Canada

Huskies, Malamutes, Samoyeds, dogs with stocky builds

and coats from

Barneys

in the desert

smaller dogs

anything that can be held in one hand

Eighteen Chihuahuas pulling a feisty

fearless Yosemite Sam through

succulents and lizards

The next day it was 82°

The spiky barbs of the sun licked the mountaintops

and snow began to melt

Ski equipment went back in the closet

preventing serious knee injuries

Plans continued for the dog sledding venture

For two months the desert dwellers were on the cusp

greeting each other with

“Isn’t the weather beautiful?”

“Enjoy it now”

“It’s going to be hot soon.”

It is 95°

In the spring children

hunted for Easter eggs

If they missed any and found them later

it gave new meaning to the term

“last one is a rotten egg”

It is 102°

Men in the desert, wearing Tommy Bahama shirts

and cotton Dockers the color of maize

received a potential present in their Easter baskets

They read with raised interest that researchers from a university in Italy

found that release of hydrogen sulphide

the gas

responsible for the rotten egg odor

played a role in creating erections

These experts looked for an alternative to Viagra

which was effective

in 80-85 percent of the general male population

When men did not buy dinner for their date

before they got laid

the percentage fell

to an alarming 38 percent

Most desert residents would not cook dinner

They would not go near an open flame for fear they would combust

It was 118°

It was time for the summer winds

blowing hot and full of sand

The wind crashed like waves at Waimea

Sand from the desert floor moved across the valley

as though it wanted a change of scenery

To imagine what this wind felt like

cook a turkey

open the oven

stand in front of it

Put an industrial fan on your right and a sun lamp on your left

Shake salt over your head

After 15 minutes if your facial muscles still move, eat the turkey

The sun blisters

It is 124°

A resident boiled a 3-minute egg in his swimming pool

Household dogs swam with only their noses above water

They looked like submersibles

In September it was 130°

No life form moves in the desert

Lizards and snakes book a room at Travelodge

A local pack of Pekinese and Pomerians

trained for the Manitoba Hudson Bay dog sled race

A Labrador retriever sheepishly admitted that it sounded so romantic

adventurous

and cool

She went to Canada for Thanksgiving

She did not understand that she would have to run great distances with a team of other dogs

there would be a dog running in front of her

she would be looking at its butt

andwith an empty heartshe would not see the sun

And that is The End of this Tale

From the author:

I live in Palm Springs, which provided the initial inspiration for the poem. I researched the history of the Native Americans and infiltration of eastern business interests and U.S. military into the area. The rest of the poem came from my skewed brain.
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