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Fiction by Donal Mahoney

 

New Years Resolution

Jim Daley and Joe McCarthy had something in common. They died at 80 going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Walt O’Brien, their protege, found this out when he called the homes of both men on New Year’s Day, an annual custom for Walt, something he started doing years ago just to find out how his old mentors were doing.

Jim’s widow spoke to Walt on the phone and told him Jim had died from a stroke on Halloween. They had found his body in the morning, half in the bathroom and half in the hallway, cold as a mackerel fresh out of the sea. Jim’s widow said she was a sound sleeper. Walt thought she should have heard his body fall since Jim was a big man, all belly and buttocks, as Jim himself would put it.

Joe’s widow said her Joe had tripped on the bathroom rug on All Soul’s Day, banged his head on the commode and died in intensive care a week later, never emerging from his coma. She was happy the priest got there in time to administer the last rites before Joe stopped breathing. His last breath, she said, was a gurgle.

Jim and Joe had been more like uncles to Walt than mentors. They came into his life when Walt was in grammar school. It was just after his dad had been killed in Korea and Walt needed all the support he could get.

Over the next 50 years Walt had stayed in touch with both men, calling them on New Year’s Day from different cities. Their advice over the years helped Walt survive three job losses, a foreclosure, two car wrecks and four divorces. Sometimes their advice dealt with the big issues of life. But sometimes they commented on smaller phenomena as well.

Last year, for example, Jim had warned Walt that growing old meant not being able to put your underwear on standing up.

“I have to sit on the bed now,” Jim had said, sounding almost depressed for a man known for his jocularity.

Right after Jim told him about the underwear problem, Walt called Joe and asked if Jim was right. Joe too confirmed he now had to sit on the bed to get his underwear on. He told Walt every man has to sit down at some point in life, provided he lives long enough.

“Age has its requirements,” Joe said. “There’s a happy medium, I suppose. If I had died a few years ago, I wouldn’t be having this problem right now.”

At 60, Walt could still put his underwear on standing up but it was getting more difficult. He had to hop on one leg, pogo-stick style, to get the job done. But sitting down was not an option. Walt was a proud man who had overcome bigger problems in life and he’d keep hopping for as long as he could.

One time, however, he almost fell but landed in a chair. His fourth wife Belinda still laughs about it even though they’re no longer married. She even called two of his ex-wives and told them about it. They couldn’t stop laughing.

Walt knows that one day he will have to sit down to put his underwear on unless he dies before that. He figures he has at least a few good years left. But after hearing that Jim and Joe had died trying to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night, Walt decided to take certain steps to avoid a similar mishap in his own life.

First, he installed night lights along the baseboards going from the bedroom to the bathroom. At midnight the hallway now shines like a small expressway with no traffic at all.

Then Walt made some New Year’s resolutions, a step he had never taken before. As a result he now eats salads and fruit plates instead of double cheeseburgers and lots of ice cream. What’s more he reads the Bible now and then in the morning. He’s even quit drinking beer late into the night.

The new Walt now sits back in his leather recliner, sips wine coolers out of old jelly jars and listens, over and over, to his favorite recording of an old Irish reel called “Toss the Feathers.” It’s played beautifully, he says, by the McNulty Family, most of whose members, he figures, are by now dead.

When he was a boy, Jim and Joe had introduced Walt to traditional Irish music and even taught him a few steps of the reel, jig and hornpipe.

Once in awhile, when he’s had enough wine, Walt tries to do a few of those steps and he succeeds to his own satisfaction.

And, of course, he still puts his underwear on standing up, one hop at a time.

 

Artwork © Ira Joel Haber
Artwork © Ira Joel Haber

 

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum and The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Since 2007 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 160 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. He currently teaches art to retired public school teachers at The United Federation of Teachers program in Brooklyn.

 

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Jagged Thoughts #57: Think. Hear It. Listen to the Spirit

 

Think- this medicine I take at bed
Swells my head with cloudy visions
Dreams of the crest and even my own
Death.

These are just thoughts.

Think. About this poem? About the reason I call myself
A poet?

Think. Hear It. Listen to the Spirit

I am just a thought— a backgammon game in your memory
I am the first kiss and the last
Each word autographed onto the prison glass
On to a stronger soul, on to my tattooed back.

Tattooed with the number three
One for me. Two for You. And 3 to learn to let it be.

Think. Hear It. Listen to the Spirit.

Think. This is a funeral procession to a long weekend
And after the wedding of Tuesday through Thursday
We are reborn on Friday,

only to return back to Earth on Monday.

And I only hope that you do the same.

Think. This is a tiny seed, and I am going to plant it.
Till I’m the only living thing, the last angry poet on the planet.

Think. Hear it. The new year rings loud,
the planet needs your spirit, to send us into orbit.

Think, Hear it. Listen to the Spirit,
repeat it and repeat it

your mantra, new rhyme and reason
fall victim to no one,
and keep running. The spirit is coming.

Think, Hear it. Listen to that spirit,

the one that says run with the ball, own your fears
release them on the field,

Hear comes the rolling chorus,
in the roasted forest….

Think.
All these things.
are just…
thoughts.

And the anger that swells inside the ink, in this pen…
will run out, and dry.

But our poetry will never die.
Think,
Hear it.
Listen to that spirit.

Eventually
you’ll have to stop running.

 

Jason Wright is the founder and Editor of Oddball Magazine. His column appears weekly.

 

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The Fourth Annual Reading of the Lonely Boy on Christmas by Jason Wright

 

There once was a town it seemed that was always cold. Even when it was warm it still was always cold.

The people were mean. The people weren’t green. The people weren’t clean. They all forgot their dreams and no one could sleep.Not even sheep, could make them dream.

They all had forgot their meaning, and what it meant to be free.

They lived their lives as shadows. they lived in poor man castles, some were drunk and staggered, and some were slaves in shackles.

They all had forgotten, what once was their motto,— to live in darkness, you could never cast a shadow, and in the darkness, shadows never follow!

And when the light shines from the sun in the seasons, whether frost bitten hands, or those wearing mittens, the sun always shined on the ones who asked for wisdom

and one did….the lonely boy on christmas.

and this lonely boy just wanted one thing for christmas, a dog or a kitten, wrapped up with a ribbon, a bright blue ribbon. If he had a dog… he could pet him with his mittens and watch him chase pigeons, and play fetch with the children.

But it never happened, no gifts were given to him on this christmas.

or any christmas.

there he sat in the town of castles and shadows, where the cold seemed to sting, everyone and everything.

and he began to reminisce of his families last christmas, the last time he was given a kiss on his head, and that warm feeling he had, and the last words ever said by his dad.

“you must live by yourself we can no longer take care of you”

and he said to them “I’m just a boy…what do you expect me to do?”

but his father and mother, they didn’t love one another, and they didn’t really mean to say what they said, so one day they both got into their cars and left.

But before they left they both kissed him both on the cheek, and said

“I’m sorry son, that we have to leave. Here are the keys this is your very own castle. And never leave, always stay in the shadows. We will always be with you, but we must leave and we hope for your forgiveness

and then they had left the lonely boy on Christmas.

PART 2

At the same time there was a young widow, who always sat by the window, with a sad glow, waiting for her husband to come home.

He and her, also lived in this world.

The world that was mentioned in part one, a world of no fun, where noone could smile in fear of being stung. because the cold was too cold, and some were too poor to

buy coats, and besides,

the castles were hidden by shadows, and moats protected by ghosts, but still there was hope that her love would come home. and every day she wrote from a journal

that was given to her, from her husband who had disappeared, in the cold of the winter, and made her from married and happy, to a way too young widower.

Her name was Rosaline, and she was only eighteen when she found the man of her dreams. But one day he left to go to the store, and was never seen anymore, and

people had said that he had gone missing, in a cold storm, on a frosty Thanksgiving, and they stopped searching after a few weeks, cause noone could survive out in the

cold on those peaks. But Rosaline, never stopped looking out that window, till one day it started to snow. and then it suddenly stopped. And out from they sky an angel

just dropped.

PART 3

Before I tell you how the angel dropped, and why the snow stopped, we must go back to the spot where the boy sat patiently, waiting for the day, when his family

would come back, and how all he wanted was that dog for christmas, a little dog wrapped up with a bright blue ribbon, but really

gifts were not on his wish list, just a little slice of happiness, outside of all that darkness

That day the boy decided to leave, he said to himself, I’m going to get a tree, so he left his castle and stepped out of the shadows, and headed to the forest outside of

the meadow, and began a long walk out of the darkness and into an even darker forest. He could have went left, and went towards the shore, he decided to go

north, and ventured forth towards, the forest and the trees, and the bright north star. He knew little of where he was, but it was better then where he would be, and

besides it was Christmas he wanted a tree.

Before he left, he dressed in his warmest clothes, hat and coat, and scarf to protect his nose, and the only possession he had with him, was a backpack of provisions,

and a compass, and a map. And off he went, and took his first step out of the darkness, while in that same town a widower wept.

Part 4

Oh Where did he go, got lost in the snow? She sang to herself, while she sat by the window. Oh where did he go? And when will he return, to give me his love, I so

desperately yearn”

She repeated these lines, like she was hypnotized, the saddest moment in a beautiful life. She was only 23 when he said good-bye and went out into that cold november

winter, and was never seen alive, but keep faith good reader, a good love never dies.

“Oh where did he go? When will he return? why did you leave me, it wasnt your turn.” She sang this song in morning, she sang it still mourning, and that was when she

realized, that her eyes were not blind, and in her heart she believed he was alive.

At the same time she sang by her window in that empty house, the compass was pointing telling the boy to go south.

But the map said that the meadow, was the way to go, but his heart told him to follow the star, and into the dark, he ventured in, to the deep forest, where

the trees lied there in.

PART 5

Well dear reader, you must be weary of me, so let me tell you how the boy found his tree.

And also a brand new family.

It starts where we left, with the boy’s lonely trek, and ends, well were not quite there yet. So the boy began his climb into that deep forest, while the angels sang to him,

this simple chorus. Follow the star son, follow the star, follow the star son, follow the star. Yes, the boy was lonely and scared, for sure, but in his head and heart he

was strong and secure. People would leave him, for that he was sure, but never his family, that scar was the worst, and his head began to hurt. But before the tears

started to fall, he took a step and all of a sudden he was not by himself, and while he was down and thinking about life, he somehow had wandered onto the thinnest of

ice.

PART 6

Oh reader, Oh me oh my, What did this boy do on that thinnest of ice. He walked oh so carefully, and he could hear the ice creak, and then there was the crack in the

ice he could see. He thought to himself, dang if I wasn’t thinking about all my problems, I might have seen this coming, and i could have done something, instead

of being stuck where I am, and then something happened.

The ice cracked, and splintered

and cracked, and splintered and cracked,

and the ice fell underneath his feet, and the boy was suddenly over his head, and while under the coldest degrees, he began to see,

Christmas wasn’t about getting presents or trees….it was about being happy. He was under the water gasping for air, trying desperately to be freed from a horrible death indeed,

then at this moment

a hand reached out to him. And now enters the man, Jim, the widowers husband.

PART 7

Hey Kid!! Hey Kid!! Can you hear me? Grab my hand! Hey Kid!! Hey Kid!! Can you hear me, grab my arm, I’ll pull you in. That was the voice of the widowers husband.

All the boy could hear was a muffled sound, but saw the arm, and tried desperately to get out. He grabbed the strange hand that had come from above, and Jim pulled

him out with the strongest of tugs. Jim pulled the boy off of the ice, and made sure that he was alright. Can you hear me kid?! Can you hear me?!

But the boy was barely breathing, cold and shivering. What could be done to save the lonely boy on Christmas?

Jim started a fire with some sticks around him, and hoped and prayed that something could heal him. But as the fire grew stronger, soon the boy breathed in, and looked into the eyes of the man that saved him.

And at this very moment, the widower was sleeping, and dreaming what seemed to be the same thing. It was about a boy who fell on a dark night of the thinnest of ice,

and her husband was surely alive, and saved this boy’s life.

PART 8

The widower hadn’t left her house since her husband had disappeared, but she had to leave, her heart was telling her so, that she had to go, out of the darkness and

back into that snow. And as she left, she took a deep breath, and that was when she realized for the first time her self, that the darkness she lived in, this town, of castles

and shadows, there were more places to see, like the place in her dream. She visioned a stream, lit up by a bright star, and there she ventured out into the dark.

And there she sang.. My heart tells me to follow my dreams, and I will sing this song until he hears me. So she began singing. My heart tells me to follow my dreams,

andI will sing till my angel hears me. And just like that, the star lit up the whole place,

and though they were far apart, she could see his face. By the place in her dream, right by the stream, where she would find her Jim, and where she found…..me.

Part 9

Yes I was the lonely boy on Christmas, but now that I have grown, I am no longer alone. My family, Rosaline and my father Jim, we live outside of the darkness, where the shadows live. And though you must find your own way, and sometimes follow that dream, to get the biggest tree, or play station three, all you really want is a good family, and maybe a dog. Like the dog that I have. But really in the end a mom and a dad, and people that love you. And believing that the right star will shine above you.

So there you have it.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and all of yours. May love and light unlock all your doors.

Merry Christmas

from Jason

Editor

 

Jason Wright is the founder and Editor of Oddball Magazine. His “Jagged Thoughts” column appears weekly.

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It’s All One Thing #60: The Last Ring of Hell

 

“Some of the respectable types in modern America may find themselves in the lowest circles of Dante’s hell. He regarded sins of fraud as worse than sins of violence because they were deliberate and cold-blooded, sins against the mind and soul of man; so he reserved his more horrible punishments for flatterers, fortune-tellers, hypocrites, evil counselors, et cetera. This company — somewhere below the murderers—would now be swelled by advertisers and publicity men.” Uses of the Past by Herbert J. Muller, copyright 1952, footnote pg. 251.

They’re taking us over the cliff again. They’re re-amping up the wars and they just put the next “credit crunch” onto the taxpayer’s backs in their last cromnibus (crimnibus?) bill/pact. It’s all a disaster, of course, the one way ratchet that always turns away from the human and the environment as it turns toward profit pollution. No wonder the ever escalating crises advance with this inexorable robotic regularity. There used to be plausible deniability but now they don’t even bother to pretend. They’ve been caught so many times they just say their crimes are legal because they have their own lawyers to write them notes to tell us so. I can just see it. It spins down like a paper helicopter from way out over the chain link fence of the aqueduct over the river. You wouldn’t last 4 minutes in the frigid water charging beneath the whirling helix of the fragile paper craft, whirring white blown toward the post-industrial foam stirred up by another of the huge storms. Post-modern. Post-republic. Post-legal. Post-privacy. Post-personal. Life lived to someone else’s quarterly statement. Torture reports that become debates run by the torturers. Mysterious provisions in ominous omnibus criminbus that takes away pensions and allows banks to speculate with the people’s money and geometrically increase the money in our politics when democracy was already drowning in the black waters of the flood.

I am picked up and carried downstream by the Movement until I try to chant “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and get shot in the heart. I come back to the Common to find the traces of the last labyrinth and discover the way to make it bright once again. And the C.I.A. heckler replaces our missing sound system with the drama of conflict. And even later as I tell the story of Moses to my grandsons in three parts Hollywood turns the super shy stutterer into a super epic. It looks like a tsunami overtakes the Pharoah’s chariots. I will spend a long night being torn to shreds by clicking chopsticks in the hands of a horde of cannibal capitalist colonials. I will make the walk over the aqueduct and send my whirligig out over the water and make its coursing currents way down and across dark water. Who will part the waters for our fragile forms? Where is Moses’ staff to allow the waters to come back together on Pharoah’s swift army? Just in time for the oil glut to roil the global derivative markets. Just in time for the next credit crunch. Oh, here he come again as they once said to that crass Comedia Capitaino on the run from the fight, never wrong always right in the middle of the wrong bedroom night. Dick Cheney. “Cheany” as Chris Matthews says, and can his lawyer surrogate be far behind and sure enough there’s John Yoo, too, the torture memo man to write themselves an excuse for everything they wanted to do which they were already doing anyway. John “Point of Attack” Yoo who writes whole books to get rid of the international law that could hold him accountable for his (and Cheney’s) crimes. But he’s just a cog in the machine that Cheney built, the most powerful vice-president in the history of the U.S. who started his career in Nixon’s Watergate white house and honed his skills as Jerry Ford’s chief of staff running a “damage limiting operation” with his old mentor Donald Rumsfeld at Defense (really War) to cover up S.E. Asian war crimes and deadly domestic “dirty tricks” like the death of the inventor of the original “rainbow coalition” Fred Hampton shot in Chicago in 1969.

And when will we cross over into the promised land? When will we see the walls of Jericho fall? When will we see the end of Jericho Rd. in Washington, D.C. When will we part the waters and pass on through, too? When will Watergate and Iran-contra, COINTELPRO and Operation Condor, the Gulf Wars I, II, III or is it IV end? When will we part the waters and find ourselves in the promised land? One way ratchet finally sprung. Dick Cheney finally hung (out to dry). The lawyer cat’s paw finally barred from teaching constitutional law. That whirligig twirls on the coursing currents toward the foam on the dark storm water at the head waters of the Charles. Oh, how can it hurt this much and still be so beautiful. The All One Thing Misery Machine, Consummate Corporate Caesar who never conflicts with Corporate Governance. 24/7 365 and ¼ Bottom Line. Check all the boxes, follow the whole compiled list. An All One Never Truth to Power. An All One Never Ever Evil Thing. (Torture is not cruel and unusual punishment because it is interrogation. Clever so clever, hunh?) Spin, spin, spin. Spin it out and spin it in. (Fraud is not fraud because you can’t prove intent.) It’s a spin world, a spin world. An All One Thing Spin World.

 

James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Today marks his one year anniversary as a poet columnist for Oddball Magazine.

 

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A Twist of JP Lime: A Basketball Christmas Poem- Odd Days of Oddmass Edition!

 

JP Lime Banner

Oddball Magazine is proud to welcome our friends at JP Lime Productions and introduce the hard hitting and well crafted talents of the JP Lime crew. We hope that bringing JP Lime to our readers and fan base will not only enlighten and entertain but also inform on the latest hip hop entertainment news.

Expect JP Lime to share with Oddball readers more track lyrics, as many of their songs tend to be rooted in poetry. This week’s Twist of Lime is a holiday poem by Scholar for all those hoop stars out there.

NBA Christmas
The NBA on Christmas day, the greatest gift of all…
What better than old Santa’s cheer followed by basketball…
With gifts exchanged and bellies stuffed and the kids off to play…
My schedule’s been cleared out for the remainder of the day…
‘Cause the last few weeks of shopping madness, one mall to another…
A gift for her, for him, for you, for those two, and for mother…
Has got me spent both physically and financially too…
And these games don’t a cost a dime so thus inclined I am to view…
Plus what better way to pass the time and from the holidays unwind…
Than watching All-Stars bring their best and put each other to the test…
An alley oop, a steal, a block!
A nasty dunk, a crucial stop!
The grizzled vet dives for loose balls…
The coach draws up the play…
The rookie makes the extra pass…
The legend saves the day…
And now you’re all worked up, adrenaline still pumping hard…
Knowing damn well there’s no letdown, that was just the undercard…
A full day’s worth of rivalries and match-ups that excite…
Are the icing on the cake of a season that’s so bright…
Because the basketball fanatic’s favorite holiday tradition…
Is no doubt a full day of the NBA on television!
 nba_xmas_rb_576
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Odd Days of Oddmass: Martha Boss

 

Value System

theres a giant gold
ball, xmas ornament
at the entrance
of the Pru Mall.
it sits on the cement.

its the xmas flasher.

its greed.
its obscene,
exposing itself.
& we want to look.

it looks like a Wall St.
announcement.

it looks like its
a product of a
no-balls misconception.

it looks like
it represents
a ‘mines bigger than yours’.
its so ugly.

big ugly gold ball
replacing the guy
with a cardboard sign
that said ‘my son & i
are homeless’.

the rich get richer
& the poor get children.

& its the golden rule.
‘though shalt love thy money
as thyself’.

deck the balls
with misled consumers.

there was an old billionaire
who lost it all in highrise
cement.

all he has left
is one gold ball.

its our present.

 

Martha Boss has had poems published in The Aurorean, The Register, Light, Spare Change, Suny Review, and Salt Works Press. Her chapbook Twine was published by March Hare Press. She has unique self-printed chapbooks for sale and can been seen most Mondays at Stone Soup Poetry at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery.