After Dudley Randall
“Oh, Mother, I’ll be fine today.
I’m just going to see my friend, Pat.
Don’t worry, I’ll be home by eight.
Please don’t forget to feed my cat.”
“Be careful, Son, a storm is coming—
clouds of black men are on the rise.
They have chains and clubs, and crying
anger from their blood-shot eyes.”
Continue reading Baltimore 1968 – Poem by John C. Mannone
She heard rumors about him:
there’s always a demon
to cast out, the sick as hell
Continue reading האדום האוהל Ha Adom Ohel: The Red Tent – Poem by John C. Mannone
The last time I kissed you,
purple butterflies flew out
of my heart. They fluttered
under moonlight, circled
in surreal vertical loops
like a rainbow Ferris wheel.
The ground glowed where
we stood, then the violet
into turquoise angels.
Continue reading The Ferris Wheel – Poem by John C. Mannone
and turned out the lights,
I heard my mother pray
with all the others.
The room stank
like stables. Foul air
burned my nostrils.
Soon, moans replaced
the prayers. I wondered
about the promised water.
When the valves creaked
open, I felt no water,
only something invisible
on my skin. We were naked
as the truth that could not be
hidden any longer.
My mother squeezed me
to her bossom—I never liked
the smell of almonds.
The last thing I heard was
the sweet sound of violins,
the trumpeting of angels.
First published in A Quiet Courage: A Journal of Microfiction and Poetry in 100 Words or Less (November 2015).
Author’s Notes: The order to exterminate the Jews was signed in July 1941. At Triblenka II, the path leading from the undressing barracks (many were fooled into thinking they would be getting hot showers) through the forested area into the gas chambers was cynically called die Himmelstraße (the road to heaven). But the killing process at Treblinka—suffocation and carbon monoxide poisoning—differed significantly from the method used at Auschwitz and Majdanek, where the poison gas was hydrogen cyanide (which has the smell of almonds).
Clear water plunges through the sandstone basin,
tumbles over lead-gray limestone. Fragments worn
smooth, edges rounded.
He stands amidst the stream, surveys the bottom
between the ripples all the way to where the sky
edges the water’s mirror. He kneels in the stream bed,
rifles for pebbles matching caliber of the sling-pocket
of his leather-thronged catapult. His fingers search,
Continue reading Five Stones – Poem by John C. Mannone
One Christmas morning, I remember the soft-needled pine towering, as if through the spackled ceiling, its angel brushing the clouds.
Continue reading The Unwrapping – A Christmas Story by John C. Mannone
Sun sets behind sculpted land
in silhouette against sheer veil of night
dyed shades of Pacific blue.
Continue reading Midnight Mass — Poem by John C. Mannone
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God – Matthew 5:8
Random acts of kindness
Can be found just about anywhere.
Can I get an Amen to that? I suppose
Even the cutthroat rich
Can be philanthropic, but more likely
The barely-above-poor will give his only shirt.
Continue reading Church — Poem by John C. Mannone
I heard it on the news: Nor’easter pummeled Baltimore last night,
wondered if you were okay, son, or if you were wrapped up
in some alley corner trying to keep warm in an igloo you might
have fashioned from those snowdrifts. Or maybe you stayed warm
in the county jail after backtalkin’ a policeman before he searched
your tattered clothes and found Jamaican hash stashed in your jeans.
Continue reading Keeping Warm — Poem by John C. Mannone
My backyard was a launch pad
for my dreams in ’58. I thought
the Hardy Boys were the smartest
kids in the world. They taught me
engineering, rocket science, love
of exploration. I scoured their books
for blueprints; junk yards for parts
later to become my rocket to the Moon.
Continue reading Fly Me to the Moon — Poem by John C. Mannone