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Apr 15 · 207
Last Night
On this, the last night of our world,
As rockets flare and people scream,
A floating mount of arctic ice
has made a nightmare of our dream.
Dear Charlotte, get into the boat.
Don't make an orphan of our child.
I smile and lie and say that I
will be along in just a while.
She nods, and we share a final kiss,
a kiss redolent of goodbye.
It is my hope that they will live,
while I prepare myself to die.
Doomed gentlemen upon the deck;
noble, wealthy or in trade.
I play as brave as any there
In this, our final masquerade.
Their little lifeboat floats away
adrift upon a sea of glass.
I pray, for the first time in years,
full knowing that this cup won't pass.
Should I go down with the ship?
That is the Captain's choice, I hear.
Or put a gun into my mouth
And firing, put an end to fear?
No. I will stand with these brave men,
Who made the choice that I have made.
We'll leap before Titanic sinks
And in these depths find honorable graves.
Apr 15 · 160
Keepers of the Flame
From Cy Young to DeGrom
The distance stayed the same
Sixty feet, six inches
It’s the measure of the game.
Each base is Ninety feet apart
In Diamond shape arrayed.
Shortstops still get the runner
Wherever the game is played.
Home plate is Seventeen inches wide
And the pitcher toes the rubber
These are the articles of faith
For any baseball lover.
In every City in this land
Where Freedom used to ring.
The sounds around the Diamond
Were a welcome sign of Spring.
You can meddle with the mound
And fiddle with its height,
But don’t touch the distance from home plate
Unless you’re ready for a fight.
Its true we now play games at night
But surely that’s our loss.
When you tally up the profits
You forget about the costs.
This game was born for Summer
On hot afternoons they played.
When you lose the children, Manfred,
That is when you lose the game.
Our game is not played with a clock
Yet there’s an ending to each game
In this it is like life itself-
for the keepers of the Flame.
adding phantom runners  experimenting with a clock and meddling with the geometry of baseball are just some of Rob Manfred's sins against the game
Apr 2 · 98
I, Simon
It was simple curiosity, I have just myself to blame.
I was not the man’s disciple, though of course I knew the name.
I could see that he’d been beaten, saw the cruel marks of the lash.
I was told he’d fallen more than once on the steep and stony path.

So when the Centurion beckoned me, I hurried to comply.
I have a healthy fear of swords and was in no rush to die.
He bade me to take up the cross, to put my back into it.
I took the Prophet’s burden on; he could no longer do it.

Most of his friends abandoned Him, this man from Galilee.
He who soon would breathe his last stretched painfully on this tree.
They did not wish to share his fate, a death upon the cross.
They scattered into hiding just as soon as all seemed lost.

This work was hot and difficult for one man all alone
I struggled up the incline, Stepping carefully, stone by stone.
The Prophet was a beaten man whereas I was young and strong.
He came to this place to die, but I would get back home.

I saw his look of gratitude as I put my burden down.
I ‘ll not forget the dripping blood from down his thorny crown.
He said I’d be remembered for this thoughtful, kindly deed.
I told him notoriety is the last thing that I need
A man named Simon of Cyrene has a date with destiny at a place called Golgotha  outside Roman occupied Jerusalem
Mar 31 · 79
The gypsy lady told me
On that dark and fateful night
That one day you would leave me
And it turned out she was right.

She took my palm quite roughly
As she told me my dark past.
She was gazing into the crystal ball
But all I saw was glass.

She said I’d know the darkness,
That close cousin to despair,
When I’d wake up to discover
The bed cold and you not there.

The gypsy lady told me
On that dark and fateful night
That one day you would leave me
And it turned out she was right.

For much is gained and much is lost
In a life lived on a bet.
Brief was our time together
Just like the gypsy said.
Intended as a song
Feb 24 · 126
Never Turn the Paige
I wasn’t sure how old he was,
I don’t think even he knew.
Age never seemed to matter much
On the days that Satchel threw.

He always had a ready smile
Especially up there on the mound.
And I’m sure he had more pitches
Than I had fingers to put down.

With time his fastball had slowed a bit
But it never seemed to matter.
He’d just reach into his bag of tricks
To strike out another batter.

He didn’t have an ounce of fat;
He was sinewy and lean.
He might have been a grandpa
But he could still pitch for my team.

Old father Time stepped up to the plate
In a match anticipated
Well you can check the box score, friend.
Time left ticked off and deflated.
" How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"- Satchel Paige
Jan 28 · 169
GME Over?
Oh, pity the suits! The masterful class,
who Robin-hood traders just kicked in the ***.
Sitting high in their towers of concrete and steel
They thought naked shorts were the art of the deal.
They shorted more shares than are said to exist
So henceforth they just ought to cease and desist!
The retail investors, those dumb money fools,
Bought up call options and took them to school.
The rich lost their shorts and maybe their shirts,
They can perhaps sell their mansions and go live in yurts.
If they have some bitcoins perhaps they can sell them
But never buy shares in a hedge fund named Melvin!
Always remember to cover your shorts, especially if they are naked shorts
Jan 10 · 110
To the Twitter End
For four years we endured them;
Trumps ' lame, incessant tweets.
He pilloried both friend and foe,
in victory and defeat.

He raised name calling to an art;
His dislikes he made plain
His politics lacked subtlety.
His ranting seemed insane.

Now his account is frozen-
he nevermore may tweet
We will not hear his theories
about how opponents cheat.

He stands  accused ( and justly so)
Of inciting folks to violence
So his social media accounts are closed
and all that's left is silence.
Nov 2020 · 143
John F McCullagh Nov 2020
The little skiff drifted at the mercy of the tides.
Out beyond the breakers, just off the shore.
It sole occupant, unconscious, curled in a fetal pose.
How long had she been like that? Perhaps Heaven knows.

The sail was torn and tattered so it could not catch the wind.
No chance, then, of reversing course. Going back to where she’d been.
Her sunburned skin, her parched cracked lips, her worn and threadbare wear
Gave mute witness to her suffering and her unanswered prayers.

I think it was a kindly moon that made her voyage end.
For sure  a strong insistent tide had brought that wrecked bark in.
That’s when we saw it on the beach; Saw the body, felt alarm.
I went to her, checked for a pulse, then told my mate “She’s gone.”
Jacqueline ******- Patalano  09/21/1954-11/02/2020 R.I.P. at the end of the voyage
Nov 2020 · 130
The Train
John F McCullagh Nov 2020
“Come on, Boy.” I rattle Bo’s leash.
My little spaniel heads for the door.
This November morning is crisp clear and cold.
We wander alone, enjoying the peace,
An old man and his dog joined by this leash.

It just seems to happen, more often than not,
That Bo and I wind up at the very same spot.
I swear we don’t plan it, but it’s always the same
We wind up in the town square near the Metro North train.

We watch and we listen as the southbound train leaves.
The slow mournful whistle echoes forth on the wind.
The train I rode for decades from here to the end.
The train I took to work but will never take again.

My former co-workers; the drinks at weeks end.
My boon companions dare I call them my friends.
They have still their careers, they still have each other
I have a small pension. I yearn for a lover.

At length and at last Bo and I turn for home.
They’ll be coffee for me; Bo will play in the yard.
I never imagined that retirement
Would ever be this hard.
inspired by John Minko. /Fore decades he was the update reporter for WFAN
Oct 2020 · 226
Angels without wings
John F McCullagh Oct 2020
They are living, here, among us,
These fine celestial beings.
These children with Downes syndrome;
These angels without wings.

In the care of aging parents,
Or together in group homes,
These angels without wings possess
47 chromosomes.

You will recognize the gentleness
Of their kind, defective, hearts.
Yet you may discount their usefulness
In a world that values “smart”.

If you do so, at your peril,
Discount these gentle souls,
You will never learn that wisdom
Is what makes a person whole.

We’ve seen intelligence abused
And been victims of its lies.
Innocence has been refused
When unborn angels die.

At a distance they resemble us;
These angels without wings.
Yet they have an openness to Love,
That speaks of higher things.
Sep 2020 · 171
The five foot giant
John F McCullagh Sep 2020
She was not your typical everyday giant
she was neither jolly or green.
Instead she was a many faceted diamond
hard because she needed to be hard
Brilliant, just because she was brilliant
Her keen intellect had a laser focus.
She gave life to many a little girl's dreams.

She was our five foot giant
and somehow it doesn't seem right
that she'll be replaced by a pygmy.
R.I.P Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sep 2020 · 141
Conversations with the Dead
John F McCullagh Sep 2020
Don't think me unusual, it isn't  what it seems.
I don't see dead people, not even in my dreams.
Yet deep within  the Winter's chill.
when all is drear, grey  and dread.
I reach up to the topmost shelf
and take a book to bed.
Sometimes I visit with Robert Frost,
or Edgar Allan Poe.
Sometimes it's Caesar ravaging Gaul
or high tea with Arthur Clough.
They all are windows to the past,
now freed from their fleshy prison.
I always let them have their say,
while I just sit and listen.
Sep 2020 · 283
Diana Rigg
John F McCullagh Sep 2020
For men of a certain age,
who recall when  Emma Peel
was all the rage.
No one can  ever take her place;
those dangerous curves, her beautiful face.
Who could forget
the scent of  her perfume and leather?
Ldy Diana Rigg, grand dame of the British stage has died at age 82.  In her prime no one rocked a leather jumpsuit like she could.
Sep 2020 · 114
Almost Perfect 7-9-69
John F McCullagh Sep 2020
I listened in the darkness as” the Franchise” took the hill.
Tom Seaver, perfect, through eight innings, had retired Cubs at will.
I could barely hear Bob Murphy’s voice; Shea was packed that night.
Santo, Banks and Spangler, all went down without a fight.
Randy Hundley led off the ninth, he was victim Twenty-Five.
The stands were like a roaring sea, electric and alive.
Jimmy Qualls came up to bat, a rookie, little known.
Every Mets fan felt for sure that Tom would bring it home.
Seaver looked in for the sign; Grote called for heat.
Qualls lined a clean single and a hushed quiet filled the seats.
Seaver felt deflated as the crowd stood in ovation.
As well as he had pitched that night was it wrong to seek perfection?
Seaver finished off the Cubs that night; Qualls' was the only hit.
That night would have been perfect if that ball had found a mitt.
It is a hot night in a pennant race and Tom Terrific is flirting with immortality
Sep 2020 · 85
Same Sentence
John F McCullagh Sep 2020
First, you cry.
Cry until you cannot anymore.
Once more the grim prognosis will be read,
But no hope will be found there, I am sure.
No bargain can be made, no moments bought.
The cancer has moved quicker than we thought.

Even now, a bony spectral hand
Points across the Styx to the far shore.
Does sweet salvation wait?
Or do the Fates await to seek their vengeance?
I fear that we will all know before long.
I’ve read the Bill of Attainder :
We all face the same sentence.
My sister in law is  being considered for hospice as her second opertion has failed to stop the dread progression
Aug 2020 · 527
Last Light
John F McCullagh Aug 2020
It seems the Universe has made
all the stars it can.
Black holes gobble up
ribbons of gas
to frustrate any star making plans.

So, Not today and not tomorrow,
but someday, bye and bye,
we will look up at  the cosmos
and see a nearly empty sky.

For, like us, stars are mortal;
They are born they live, then die.
Their nurseries are  nearly empty.
Only God could tell you why.
Scientists predict the end of the star making epoch of our Universe
Aug 2020 · 102
The Witness 9-2-2020
John F McCullagh Aug 2020
He’s an old man in a wheelchair, who sometimes hobbles with a cane.
His handgrip is amazingly strong; He has a wiry frame.
On his lap he holds an artifact; it’s a precious relic too.
It’s the flag from the Missouri, her old red white and blue.
He still recalls, quite vividly, that cool September day
When his battleship dropped anchor, right in Tokyo Bay.

“We accepted their surrender, They, our victory.
I still can hear MacArthur's voice. It was all surreal to me.”
We spoke on for a little while, he seemed glad that I came.
He spoke about his comrades and wept about how few remain.

We spoke about war’s folly, its death destruction and its pain.
We spoke no word of glory, that’s a politician’s game.
When his nurse came to get him, he knew it was time to rest.
No longer the scared young man who saw the world, but never at its best.

I later heard on that same night; Death came to stake his claim.
A day slips off into history, just ”Old Glory” still remains.
September 2,2020 is the 75th Anniversary of the Japanese surrender signing that formally ended the second world war. You guys probably won't like this poem either, but then I didn't necessarily write it for you.
Aug 2020 · 88
Darkness Visible
John F McCullagh Aug 2020
“We will never forget!”  I heard them all say.
“The eleventh of September was a very dark day.”
How united we were! How our flag proudly waved
O’er the trade center ruins that smelled of the grave.

Then each year thereafter we gathered at the site
To recall those sad moments when day became night
Their widows and children spoke the names of the lost,
And we all vowed to remember, whatever the cost.

This year we have nothing; no gathering planned.
We’re united no longer. This is a sick land.
No words will console us; no beams light the sky.
So soon we’ve forgotten how Two thousand died.

Now people can riot amidst a pandemic
Its surely their right say the proud academics.
“But we can’t light the beacons- someone might get sick!”
We are weak and pathetic and our Mayor’s a *****.
The annual tribute of light to mark 9-11 is annual no more
John F McCullagh Aug 2020
The stadium is empty now; just cardboard fans sit in those seats.
Old Bob Sheppard sits at the mike, clears his throat, and begins to speak.
One by one, He calls their names: Larsen, DiMaggio, Rizzuto, and Berra.
One by one they doff their caps; these heroes of the golden era.
The vacant ball-yard in the Bronx that the current Yankees call their home
Is silent on this sacred day, save for that rich baritone.
The specters gather on the diamond; these fabled heroes of yesteryear.
It would have been old Timer’s day today
These sights? these Sounds?
Only I , alone, can hear.
Jul 2020 · 37
John F McCullagh Jul 2020
It's my near constant companion;
sometimes short and sometimes tall.
At dusk's approach it seems to grow,
At midnight not at all.

Peter Pan once lost his,
until Wendy sewed it back.
He was really lost without it
and was glad to have it back.

It figures oft in mysteries
and in film noir I suppose.
Those ***** deeds done in the dark?
Just ask- the shadow knows.

One shadow often haunts my thoughts
It's been frozen on a wall
at ground zero in Hiroshima,
Its owner?  gone beyond recall.

Hatred left a shadow
of one  human life  it seems
Where shadows became substance.
Where nightmares ******* his  dreams.
Jul 2020 · 116
His old Chair
John F McCullagh Jul 2020
I sit in Dad’s old Adirondack chair
And observe the setting Sun.
Upon the lake the ducklings glide
Alive with the joy of the young.
It is peaceful here at this time of year
Before all the tourists come.

The gentle wind is just enough
To urge the water to kiss the shore.
A yellow cardinal is perched nearby;
Something I’d never seen before.
I breath in deep clean mountain air
and I make to myself a vow:
To Keep Dad’s cabin here at the lake.
It’s Heaven enough for now.
Jul 2020 · 166
REMEMBER: 09_22_1776
John F McCullagh Jul 2020
It is cool, dry and very early
on this crisp September morn.
The General’s orders were quite succinct:
This man must die at dawn.

We’ve erected here a gallows
On the street for all to see:
This man will die a traitor’s death
For what he calls” Liberty”

With the Parson in attendance
He is brought here, grave and pale,
This spy posed as a teacher
His name is Nathan Hale.

I placed the noose around his neck
The knot was tightly wound
The condemned was then allowed to speak
before the drums would sound.

“The cause for which i am dying for i did not take up in an idle moment
i was born it as are all my countrymen
if the belief in man’s right to freedom is held on any other place on earth
i have not heard of it
i am proud to have lived in a country where freedom is a reality
living it has been my privlege to fight for it
in death i shall hold it forever
if i were to be born a thousand times i would choose no other life
but service to American freedom
i have only one sorrow
i only regret that i have but one life to loose for my country”

At that, I heard the drumroll sound.
My captain gave a nod.
I pushed the brave young traitor
to his meeting with his God.

We left him hanging several days,
As a lesson to the town
Of the fate awaiting traitors
Who take arms against the crown.

At dusk last night we cut him down
When no one was around
And laid him in an unmarked grave
which never will  be found.
Although we were taught in school that Nathan Hale’s last words were “ I regret that I have but one life to give for my country., speech I give him here is taken from a transcript prepared by his executioners. Nathan Hale was 21 when he gave his life for the cause of Liberty.
Jul 2020 · 221
A Love letter to America
John F McCullagh Jul 2020
It was easy to Love you, Columbia,
When you were young and fair.
Then opportunity was boundless;
Your land was rich beyond compare.

True you were born in conflict
And the years were not always kind.
Some say they have cause to hate you;
That to injustice you’ve been blind.

Evil men have harmed you
With their crass cupidity.
This current crop of “leaders”
Blunder repeatedly.

You do not stand as tall and strong
As when I met your first.
I see worry lines around your eyes
This year has been the worst.

Still, with all your imperfections,
None could take the place of you.
You still can take my breath away
Draped in Red white and blue.
A love letter to America for her birthday , despite all her faults, she is the last best hope of humanity
Jul 2020 · 107
The silence 07/02/1863
John F McCullagh Jul 2020
My ears are still ringing.
My left arm hangs uselessly at my side.
Perhaps I am lucky,
so many of my friends have died.

I await the surgeon's attention.
I pray they have some brandy left.
I hear their hacksaws singing loud
a man is of his leg bereft.

This day we stood, we held the line
the round top still in Union hands.
The Rebs have not yet moved off.
They await Marse Lee's commands.

God, would I anywhere but here.
but no, I will accept this cup-
If I should die that men be free
my sacrifice is not too much.
Gettysburg, the end of the second day. Some poor ******* is going to lose an arm
Jun 2020 · 107
John F McCullagh Jun 2020
The plain lies before us,
shimmering in the heat.
The lance is heavy in my hand
My ancient Armour creaks.
Rocinante lets out a snort
and gives the reins a shake.
Is that a giant that stands before us
or just this ancient ones mistake?
We are both old and past our prime;
My faithful horse and me.
I spur old Rocinante forth.
and trust my lance for victory!

Alas, I'm unhorsed by my powerful foe
The windmill has made short work of me.
My pride has been bruised but nothing is broken.
We press onward to destiny.
There I go tilting at windmills again. when will I ever learn?
Jun 2020 · 100
John F McCullagh Jun 2020
There is a place in boundless Space
where constants are not so.
Where entropy runs in reverse,
There Time must backward flow.
Imagine two parallel railroad tracks,
Set across the arc of space.
Our train is bound forever West,
headed towards that sunset place.
Now imagine that I could disembark
at a station on the way.
Eastbound tickets would be expensive
but I’d sure be glad to pay.
I’d buy a seat for Epsilon
and watch the past flash by
like the memories a brain recalls
in the seconds before it dies.
I’d de-train the day before you left,
knowing what I knew not then.
Then we would have another chance
To enjoy what might have been.
The fifth letter of the Greek Alphabet Epsilon  is derived from the Phoenician letter He whose symbol is the mirror image of a capital E
Jun 2020 · 113
Farewell, Aunt Jemima
John F McCullagh Jun 2020
Farewell, Aunt Jemima,
Goodbye uncle Ben!
It sure was nice to know you
but these stereotypes must end.

Now, about that Pillsbury dough boy-
He shames people who are fat.
Why does he still get a pass?
What is up with that?

Is Captain Crunch a fascist?
Is Tony Tiger really tame?
Will they ditch the Leprechaun?
I know I'll never look at Betty ******* quite the same!

I think that kindly Quaker is the cause of my confusion.
At least its good to know that he's committed to inclusion.
Statues aren't the only ones taking the fall
Jun 2020 · 86
Since you’ve been gone
John F McCullagh Jun 2020
Day melts into day of dreaded sameness.
I sit alone and ponder why you left.
I thought we were a good team, you and I.
Since you’ve been gone I’m totally bereft.

For twenty years I’ve pounded out these verses
The thoughts were yours, the words not mine alone.
My muse has left; the worlds gone monochrome.
What was my fault and how can I atone?

I never should have taken you for granted.
I know that now, but you’re not near to hear.
Consumed with pride I thought I was your master,
And not the humble scribe I now appear.

We always think that Love will last forever.
We think ourselves immortal; young and strong
We are pressed flowers; our fragrance long since faded.
Immortal? No, we couldn’t be more wrong.

I picked up my old guitar the other day.
I noted every string is out of tune.
It cannot help me give voice to my sadness
Since you have gone and left this empty room
With apologies to Taylor Swift
Jun 2020 · 107
The tunnel of Love
John F McCullagh Jun 2020
They always liked Charlie.

Charlie was tall and, good looking.
The quarterback of our high school team.
That one of us whose life was perfect;
The Guy in the arms of the homecoming Queen.

Until of course, that fatal day.
The senior trip none can forget.
They took us all by bus to Rye.
Where ten of us had come to die.

Charlie was a moody sort.
We saw him on the rides alone.
The Queen was with her brand-new Prince.
His highness, Charles, had been dethroned.

It happened as the day wound down
Just before the bus would take us home.
Charlie emerged from the tunnel of Love
Curiously, he was alone

Back in the darkness of the ride
The tunnel of Love was filled with smoke
We heard our classmates muffled screams,
Like dammed souls devoid of hope.

In all ten died that horrible day
Several others suffered smoke inhalation
The tunnel of Love was a substandard ride;
A deathtrap disguised as an assignation.

There was of course an investigation.
Some evidence of arson had been found.
Curiously, no one was ever arrested
The cops  all said “insufficient grounds.”

But they always liked Charlie
Jun 2020 · 191
Burn Baby Burn
John F McCullagh Jun 2020
On this unholy Pentecost
I see the tongues of fire rise
From small businesses downtown
and, just like that , a city dies..

The Acolytes of Anarchy
draw inspiration from despair
They break the windows, rob the place
then torch each store without a care.

The writings on St. Patrick’s walls
are unholy and profane.
Over at St. John Divine
The N.Y.F.D fights the flames.

Further down at Union Square
Violence flares with fading light;
Broken plate glass in the street
Bears  witness to this Krystallnacht.

Is this how a great city dies?
First came a plague and now the sack.
Our Mayor is a weak- kneed progressive,
He plucks his lyre as things get hot.
On Pentecost Sunday 2020 the tongues of fire descend upon the acolytes of anarchy
May 2020 · 89
The Kiss
John F McCullagh May 2020
The two of us, both friends,
were both interested in the same girl:.
A slender slip of a miss
with bold red hair and wonderful eyes
eyes a cerulean blue.
He hesitated and was lost.
I drove that angel home.
I parked across from her parent house.
We were finally alone,
It was a night in springtime
redolent of magnolia.
I leaned in for that most memorable
first kiss.
For we were not yet lovers.
I think she liked my confidence.
I adored her upturned face,
as we shared a long and loving kiss
in an affectionate embrace.

Some forty years have come and gone.
I've long since been replaced.
Still I have not forgotten her;
Those eyes, those lips, that face.
May 2020 · 86
John F McCullagh May 2020
For a long time, the only sound near Honey’s bed
Was the beep of the cardiac monitor.
Her breaths were long and labored
As breath often is at journey’s end.

No visitors were permitted to come
and gather around her bed.
Now, in this Pandemic age,
We all die alone it’s said.

Still Honey had her cellphone
And she received a face-time call.
It brought a smile to dry cracked lips
Her son, Michael, her favorite above all.

“I’ve worked up a surprise for you.
One I hope you will enjoy.
It’s a song you used to sing for me
When I was a small boy”

Michael’s German wasn’t very good
As he strummed that old guitar.
Still, lullabies are simple tunes
When sleep is not too far.

Honey’s memories hearkened back
To when she was young and strong.
To when her babe had hung upon each word
When she had sung this song.

Michael saw the light of joy
In his dying mother’s eyes.
He put down his guitar and wept
As they said their last goodbyes

Evening comes and darkness falls
Upon us, one and all.
Still, for some, twilight becomes
The sweetest light of all.
May 2020 · 98
The Illegal
John F McCullagh May 2020
A wealthy old American, perhaps like you or I
Lay down to sleep in his comfortable bed
And, in the darkness, died.

Imagine his shock and his dismay,
This man who had it all and more,
To find himself an immigrant
Cast up on heaven’s shore.

The cherubim and Seraphim
All cast disdainful glances
At this importunate immigrant.
They didn’t like his chances.

“Heaven is quite full enough!”
The elect, in unison, said.
“We’re sure you’ll find a fit in Hell
Perhaps try there instead””

The poor man looked from face to face
But no mercy could he find.
Treated like a ******* sort-
Ignored and cast aside.

He wandered, homeless, cloud to cloud,
But no rest did he find.
An illegal tossed between Heaven and Hell
Bereft of Kin and kind.

For those who sit in judgement here
May find the tables turned
When they themselves are supplicants,
When it is they who yearn..
A fantasy about tables turned
May 2020 · 113
The Vanishing
John F McCullagh May 2020
In the beginning it was subtle,
And thus went unobserved.
He’d be reading a good article
And he started missing words.

Of course he was intelligent
And his mind filled each Lacuna,
But I wonder, could we have saved him
Had we only noticed sooner?

Eventually whole paragraphs
began to escape his grasp.
A mental fog enveloped him,
He’d forget what he’d read last.

Every day he tried to work
Was like the day before.
Until he had to admit
He couldn’t do it anymore.

A subtle dyskinesia
Like a seaquake in the brain
Left the poor man terrified
Of things left unexplained.

Perhaps it was a mercy
when dementia settled in,
I hope he lacked awareness
of the Hell he’d entered in.

When his vital signs began to fail
I found I could not cry.
The one I loved had vanished
Long before the day he died.
Inspired by the naked courage of failing minds
Apr 2020 · 99
The Last Battlefield
John F McCullagh Apr 2020
These woods are strangely silent now.
No star shells burst to light the scene.
The earth has binded up her wounds.
No rats feast here, no wounded scream.

I walk upon the souls of men
They were sent here for the fight.
They lived like moles entrenched in earth
And rose to fall upon first light.

I still can hear those whistles shrill
My minds eye shudders at the sight.
I saw my friends, my brothers fall
While somehow I survived the fight.

My fingers are gnarled like the Hawthorne’s branches
My eyes cloud over in bright light.
I alone of that brave company
Have seen a century of nights

Forgive me now my brave companions
That I remain and you are gone.
Soon enough I’ll come and join you
The last of those who fought the Somme.
An aging Tommy revisits the scene of past "glory"
John F McCullagh Apr 2020
We could start drinking but it never ends
As long as we're gone, we may as well
stay in-
Staying six feet apart

You said it's easy but who's to say
That we'd be able to keep it this way
But it's easier
Staying six feet apart
You’ve been avoiding me right from the start
From all we’ve heard that’s probably smart
You know I'll never go
As long as I know
We’ll stay six feet apart

I'll see you on the street -you’re wearing your mask
and If I’m not- you’re gonna take me to task
Six feet apart

Six feet apart
Got to keep us six feet apart
So infection has no chance to start
You know I'll never go
As long as I know
We’re staying six feet apart
Apr 2020 · 98
Good Friday, 2020
John F McCullagh Apr 2020
It is a raw windy April day
As the small band of mourners make their way
To the opened grave on the hill in Calvary.

Funeral services had, of necessity, been limited,
Performed by a mortuary assistant
dressed like an ICU nurse.

He had worked quickly
In constant dread of the possibility
That he too would become infected.

Now, the handful of survivors
With roses in gloved hands
Listen to the muffled words of prayer
From the masked padre.

It is a horrible lonely death
The virus brings.
Gasping, like a fish on a barren shore
No hand to hold for comfort.

The Priest finished as quick as he could.
He spoke his words of Heaven’s promise.
Fearful, that one of these few here
Might carry some trace of the infection.

Later, the essential workers will come
And fill the hole where he has been laid.
There he will remain in  joyful hope
Until the day of resurrection.
The imagined scene is Calvary Cemetery in Queens County NY
Apr 2020 · 139
The enemy within
John F McCullagh Apr 2020
It's invisible,seemingly inevitable.,
but its not the price of sin.
Its a lethal air borne virus-
it's the enemy within.

Now every sneeze or sniffle
must be  greeted with alarm.
Is it just my allergies
or will I soon be gone?

It's not a visible miasma
we see wafting on the air
and if you suffer from asthma
you must especially take care.

For now there are no handshake deals.
You can forget about a hug.
Just pray for our deliverance-
For a vaccine or a drug.
Mar 2020 · 111
Non Opening Day Blues
John F McCullagh Mar 2020
It should have been a perfect day to be sitting up in heaven.
(The weather being decidedly vernal,)
To watch the local nine suit up
on the day hope springs eternal.

A gorgeous diamond, brown and green,
with DeGrom on the rubber,
Gives fair promise of a victory
on this day that’s like no other.

I can almost smell the dogs and brats;
I can almost taste the beer.
Alas, it’s just my memory, playing tricks,
Nobody else is here.

The fans are all in quarantine,
with many unemployed.
The team dispersed to warmer climes;
No ball game to be enjoyed.

They may be back eventually,
Some time in June I hear.
Just not until the third base coach
can touch nose mouth and ear.
03/26/2020 the Day that baseball failed to open
Mar 2020 · 123
A Fact of Life
John F McCullagh Mar 2020
Pleasure is fleeting, but  enduring is my  pain.
I would that it were otherwise; but that is not the game.
Perhaps in a mirror Universe
they enjoy perpetual pleasure
and would not know what to make of pain
when they experience it never.
Now if such folk are curious
and fear they're missing out
I'd gladly take their Elysian state
and let them have the gout.
Mar 2020 · 88
The Pajama Gain
John F McCullagh Mar 2020
Here's a gentle reminder, in case you forgot.
Pajamas are forgiving but blue jeans are not!
It's hard to lose weight so please don't stuff your face
while you're wearing pajamas and sheltered in place
Mar 2020 · 79
Bat Soup Crazy
John F McCullagh Mar 2020
Schools and businesses closed by mandate of law!
Streets nearly empty, like in times of war.
The stock market crashed, and panic ensued
This old curmudgeon was not the least bit amused.

“In the land of the free and the home of the brave
We snivel like cowards hiding in our man caves.:
“We barter our freedom for a smidgen of safety,
And we’ll end up with nothing, so it seems to me!”

Now viral Pneumonia is no common cold,
It’s particularly dangerous for the feeble and old.
Shelter in place! Wash your hands they decree.
Those escaping infection now all have O.C.D.
To think this all started because some fool in Wuhan China thought bat soup would be delicious
Mar 2020 · 118
Last Call
John F McCullagh Mar 2020
They’re closing all the bars tonight!
At eight O’clock they all must close.
That’s not much time to tie one on,
Thou, for some, t’will do
I do suppose.

It hardly time enough for some
to obtain sufficient anodyne.
To insulate themselves from care
As viruses spread and stocks flat line.

I’m guessing some fights might ensue
As we all belly up to the bar.
Then stagger out in blue twilight
In a vain attempt to find our cars.

The plain girls I feel sorry for.
There’s insufficient time, I fear.
For their swains to have consumed enough
To make their inner beauty clear.
By closing all the NYC bars on the eve of saont Patrick's day that vindicive  scion of the mafia in Albany has cost honest barkeeps a fortune
Mar 2020 · 676
My Corona
John F McCullagh Mar 2020
Ooh I’m feeling sick, a little sick
Fevers up a tick
Are you gonna get me, you vile Corona?

Ooh you make my fever spike, fever spike
I cough and sneeze, I'm up all night
Nothing 's gonna make this right, Corona,

Is it ever gonna stop, full of snot, I kid you not
Fevers going up I got a touch of that vile Corona
That Vile, Vile, Vile Corona

Because I never wash my hands,, here I am
Staring death in the face was not my plan
Now I’m in a quarantine, quarantine
Delirious in this bad dream
You Vile Vile Vile Corona
Parody meant to be sung to the tune of "My Sharona"

I am, so far as I know, not actually  infected
John F McCullagh Mar 2020
There are unsmiling faces and bright plastic chains
And a wheel in perpetual motion
And they follow the races and pay out the gains
With no show of an outward emotion

And they think it will make their lives easier
For God knows up till now it's been hard
But the game never ends when your whole world depends
On the turn of a friendly card
No the game never ends when your whole world depends
On the turn of a friendly card

There's a sign in the desert that lies to the west
Where you can't tell the night from the sunrise
And not all the king's horses and all the king's men
Have prevented the fall of the unwise

For they think it will make their lives easier
And God knows up till now it's been hard
But the game never ends when your whole world depends
On the turn of a friendly card
No the game never ends when your whole world depends
On the turn of a friendly card
Alan Parsons Project   album "The Turn of a Friendly Card"
Mar 2020 · 90
John F McCullagh Mar 2020
The doctors all were taken aback
They had never seen a case like his.
They suspected a stroke had laid him low,
but knew not what to make of this.
His eyes were bloodshot; his pulse raced.
At times his breath was like a sigh.
As he declaimed in a strange foreign tongue,
They sent him off for an M.R.I.

Emeralds green are my lover’s eyes.
Her hair is golden as the sunrise.
We spread our blanket upon the earth
and joined beneath the bowl of stars.

Was this disease communicable?
Was it airborne or spread by touch?
They watched as the patient resumed babbling
In a strangely musical Gaelic tongue:

Furtive kisses are most sweet
as we hid from the world away.
Surely moments like this are why we live.
We were not born only to kneel and pray.

No sign of a lesion on the brain,
Nor a concussion could explain
Why  a man who knew no Irish
Spouted poetry  in the same vein.

Soft whispering and heartfelt sighs
Join with your all-consuming kiss.
The stars above wink their approval
As we surrender to our bliss.

When we awakened the sun was high,
The sound of birdsong was in our ears.
I drink my fill of your pale beauty.
It never fails to give me cheer.

“We must start quarantine right away
if containment will have any chance.”
Alas, it was too late, for all of them
as the nurses began  dancing the River dance.
A poem for Saint Patrick's day (let us s hope it doesn't go viral. )   The Irish verses are translated into English in the companion poem "Emeralds are my Lovers Eyes"
John F McCullagh Mar 2020
Emeralds green are my lover’s eyes.
Her hair is golden as the sunrise.
We spread our blanket upon the earth
and joined beneath the bowl of stars.

Furtive kisses are most sweet
as we hid from the world away.
Surely moments like this are why we live.
We were not born only to kneel and pray.

Soft whisperings and heartfelt sighs
Join with your all-consuming kiss.
The stars above wink their approval
As we surrender to our bliss.

When we awakened the sun was high,
The sound of birdsong was in our ears.
I drink my fill of your pale beauty.
It never fails to give me cheer.
companion piece to " A touch of the Poet" which I will post shortly
Mar 2020 · 151
I Knew A Girl
John F McCullagh Mar 2020
I knew a girl who wore dark clothes,
Who would not, could not, speak in prose.
She could, of course, declaim in rhyme,
For many hours at a time..

No thoughts prosaic or profane
Had anyone heard her exclaim.
Just poetry poured forth from her like wine;
a vintage nuanced and sublime.

She did not gossip, curse or tweet.
In matters of the heart, she was discreet.
I was her muse, she said. She, mine.
Her love for me, a gift divine.

We danced in silence without a word
To music only we two had heard.
She charmed my heart with every rhyme
In English, French, or American sign

Was this a talent? – Or a Curse?
I married that girl for better or verse.
A Piffle about a girl with a very special talent.  There was a famous cartoonist who lost the power of speech due to a neurological issue and only regained any ability to speak by speaking in rhymes. His situation was what inspired the poem.
Feb 2020 · 93
John F McCullagh Feb 2020
If you have a fever
aches and pains and a chill,
its beyond disputation, my friend you are ill!
It might be a virus perhaps it's the flu.
My God , it just struck me
it might be something new!

The tests cost three thousand,
but that's money well spent,
To detect viral agents
that the Chinese invent.

I thought I was ill
but my Doctor opines
that I suffer from a
hypochondriac mind.
Relax, have a Corona and stay the hell away from Wuhan
Feb 2020 · 92
So proudly we hailed
John F McCullagh Feb 2020
Iwo was a bloodbath; that fact can’t be denied.
We had twenty thousand wounded men and seven thousand died.
The fight was long and difficult against the entrenched foe.
(When the photograph was taken the fight had weeks yet left to go.)
High upon Mount Suribachi, our hearts leapt at the sight:
As “Old Glory” was unfurled, our colors caught the light.
Six young men raised her on high, to defy the rising Sun.
(Three of them were buried there before that fight was won.)
One moment in eternity that was caught for all to see.
a moment passing, even now, from living memory.
For most of those who fought and lived
are, by now, dead and gone.
The moment of their glory lives
captured here in Bronze.
In honor of the 75th anniversary of the iconic flag-raising during the battle for Iwo Jima
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