photo of pine needles

Three Poems by Dennis Mahagin

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and a chain saw whines

The tree stands
before me
shedding pine
I want to ask it
about time, bravery
all the way, all
the way inside
to its rings;
all these trees
really do understand
see? – they tremble
sometimes even
sway, but never
say a blessed

Bruce Dern’s Iconoclastic Suicide Prevention Hotline

Wakey, wakey, mercy me; a Shou Lin priest

in Berkeley (must’ve been in sixty-three) — he

predicted my daughter: that she would shine

like sapphire, a sun … how are you liking

that one? Are you from Delhi? … Rahway?

Tell me, while I pour cinnamon tea,

it’s an old Indian trick, pony up

the sonic aroma, hydrotherapy. I know it

must be about that scene, Coming Home? — I walk

buck-naked into the sea? Why, I was giggling.

Water warm as fuck, San Juan Capistrano, a fine,

fine morning. I was giggling, seriously if you meant

business, would not one have done it bye now? — I feel

a son, on your horizon, really nothing much else

definitive, no how-far, nor shouldn’t have

doo wop ditty and why don’t we, too?

You know the Intro to Come Together? Try

with lips bass, and hum… shhhhh, don’t give ’em

the satisfaction. We’ll talk.

Graced by the Anti Lottery @ the North Austin Luby’s

Salad days are basically worth
jotting down, or something to tuck
away for later, see?– iced tea so fine
the tall, sweating tumblers Lord
I must be on a roll. The whole thing goes
for four ninety-nine, in Austin we’re happy
just enjoying a noon meal; hear that punky
bell at the head of buffet? – it goes off
in a certain way when they hang
the new steam trays in their hot metal
slots: this is Luby’s, 2013, north Austin,
not Killeen in ’91 where those 23 poor souls
got shot up and wasted, enough to feed ten
platoons, veal parmesan mystery meat ball
what the fuck chow mein, a spoon rapped
on cut glass, Texas toast and sunshine poured
as permanent luck through panes who among
those 23 souls knew their number was up
that day, I sat with a fresh green salad
thinking the good Lord gives these
moments to jot down, for counting
blessings forever for later something
about “dust motes hustling a gator brain
only for the time being,” inexplicable joy
of Bac O Bits on iceberg lettuce, coldest
crunchiest artichoke heart, beets julienne
topped with deviled eggs, spot of Ranch
dressing croutons, olives, then the tight
resigned smile of a bucktoothed black girl
with two glaringly missing fingers on left
hand; but she bussed those tables, fine Lord
understand I left her five bucks in the well
of a window tucked away, no killers blasting
through the double glass, loving the part
of having already settled up on my way
out the potato salad here to die for always
remember because I shall never
pass this way again.

Dennis Mahagin is a writer and poet from Austin, Texas. He recently published a poetry collection entitled Grand Mal, available from Rebel Satori Press.

Lead image“nature-tree-green-pine” (via Flickr user Tanay Mondal)