Eye On Life Magazine

Lifestyle * Literary


spy in my own life,
uncertain of what side
I am on, agent/counter-agent.
not sure what the sides
even represent.
both parties sound the same
after so much rhetoric.
there is a beautiful dangerous
woman who turns out to be
nothing but an ordinary seamstress.
she owns lots of kittens.
not real cats, but objects made
in their round little shape.
the nefarious villain with the plan
for domination turns out to
not unlike myself.

-- JD DeHart


I began by floating
above the dull earth, but
soon found that my ascent
was moving in the opposite
direction.  a few words later,
an insult here or there,
placed like a hidden blade,
and I was finding my way
quickly to the terrestrial
realm from which I rose.
the neighbors were the same,
and their cooking smelled
somehow worse.
their children still crowded
the streets like homeless
now I am merely a heap,
a might-have-been soon
to become a must-have-been
and then a who-was-that.

-- JD DeHart

Lawnmower Metaphors

there is always plenty of time
to think while mowing.
I move in the same squarish
lines I always do.  
first, I get up, then I shower,
then I pontificate.
the audience is trained
to look like they are listening.
     are they?
finally, the swift stroke,
the edging work, and I am
on my home again, home again
like yesterday and the day
before, trying not to work late,
trying to sleep again
and remember my movements.


-- JD DeHart


Left Hand

Like for oh so many righties, my left hand has become
Something extra, almost ornamental; at this point, it’s
Given up the good fight for precedence, has become
The clumsy side-kick, the faithful assistant, ready to hold
Things steady, centered, ready to hold the door, the light
A nail while a hammer descends right at it; it learned early
On, the shape of desks, of baseball gloves, of golf clubs
And those writing assignments, holding a pencil, following
The proper slant of cursive, praise or blame; my left hand
Surrendered to my education, became what we mean
When we say, “on the other hand,” when we point out
The thing that’s so easily missed when the majority rules;
My left hand has become the master of futile gestures
Flailing about, helps balance at times, gives me a place to
Put the extra glove, very little wear and tear, a perfect fit
For the pockets on that side; eventually, my left hand will
Atrophy, disappear as I evolve into the standard size and
Shape of things; it never saluted, or shook a hand, or opened
A jar, pulled a trigger, or for that matter never wrote a poem.

-- J. K. Durick


Up this early, way before the day unfolds
Untucks itself; up early, is it four or five
Time blurs at this hour; the doorman for
The dog, I should join him, lift our legs to
Mark our territory, our time, and then bark
At passing cars, masters of what we survey
But no, I’m the doorman waiting his return
Sitting here with my mind roving about
Its time and territory, lifting its leg, it’s all
Mine, no need to bark or fret, it’s all mine
Over here is a cupboard full of the things
I need to do, yet have left undone, things
I should have said but didn’t, over here
Are family members and friends I miss
At this hour they seem sad and restless
If I believed in ghosts, they would be all
The ghosts anyone would need, I recall
Whole scenes with them and I am always
Fumbling about, blurred by the early hour
They whisper, I try to fix the things I did
This is what I get, this is what I deserve
I hear the dog cross the deck, open the door
For him, he enters and never thanks me, it’s
Part routine, part ritual, the day has begun
We become shadows, almost invisible as we
Cross the room, as the day begins to unfold,
Untuck itself and the light untangles our day.

-- J. K. Durick

Raptor Center

After an accident or attack, their hunting skills gone
They end up here; some struggle at first, but things

Of nature understand the inevitable, easily give over
To a quiet presence, perch where and how they can

There’s a sign for each, or a guide can fill in details
The species, age and gender of each; they say some

Will be returned to the wild, some others will stay
Here for the rest of their lives, isolated half-lives in

These large enclosures, with their food tamely left
Lifeless gory bits, never a fight, never a challenge

As if killing weren’t a necessary part of eating, as
If talons and sharp beaks were ornamental, things

Guides remember to point out to the tourists passing
Through; they ask when do you feed them and they

Talk about schedules and routines and proper amounts
In the wild they eat what’s available, whenever, but

Here mealtimes are systematic and tame, like all of it
It’s a cross between a nursing home and a zoo, or better

Between a veterans’ hospital and a zoo, these generals
These field marshals, warriors diminished some way

Held in check for now, waiting patiently for something
A beginning, a brief opening, or just an end to it all.

-- J. K. Durick

Frame By Frame

The movie unfolds
A series of stop-action still-lifes

Twenty-four frames might make
A gesture or a word

Forty-eight or seventy-two frames
Might convey

A camera takes a picture
To make a frame

Life unfolds
In a series of moments
An in-breath is a moment
An out-breath is a moment

Birth and death
Both moments

We don’t know who or what
Makes moments

We only know
The most important one is

This one. 


-- Tom Rubenoff


For some, too soon.
But none know when.

For some she’s still
a child at 49

with cancer
in the gut


Stage 4,
the doctors say.

may help.

Runs in the family.
Brother survived it.

For some, too soon.
But none know when.

-- Donal Mahoney

A Night in Morocco

Middle of the night he flies out of bed
to the commode only to wonder
in the dim light minutes later
if that's blood or simply a good-bye
from his wife’s stewed tomatoes,
a Moroccan dish she found on the web.

When he asked for a third serving
he pronounced them delicious.
So too, he said, was her dessert,
the Moroccan plum mousse
with the dark plums he likes.
Even with the ceiling light on

he doesn’t know now what he sees
so with his medical history he's
speeding at midnight to the ER
where the doctor says better safe
than sorry and orders a fast
colonoscopy to solve the mystery.

When he finally gets home, he tells
his wife when her boss comes over
for that big dinner Saturday night,
why not make Moroccan tomatoes
and her magnificent plum mousse.
He may never forget either.

-- Donal Mahoney

Four Quarters

From one ovum, armadillos produce
four genetically identical offspring
representing the four corners of the Earth

The armadillo’s origin
was Latino and Pacific
and making her slow way
she populated the East
all the way to Florida

but Cold has blocked her way north
She can go no further than
Nebraska and Kansas

She waits for Global Warming
to further open the door
Her ambition is to sleep
in Minneapolis
and a constellation of points
in Canada
including the Yukon

Meanwhile her current geo-limits frustrate
create spiritual tension within her
Nature demands groups of four
North must not evade her

There is sexual tension as well
You can see it in her gait
in the way she eats fire ants

The Four Siblings
also represent the Father Son Holy Ghost
and Holy Criminal

Armadillos gather on the steps
of the Catholic Church
seeking confession
and absolution

but no priest will serve them
No priest will offer them salvation

even now that Francis is Pope
Francis who preached to birds
and creatures of all kinds

-- Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Armadillo New Year

In the Fiesta of the Sacred Cross
tequila drunkards
play harmonicas made from armadillo shell

play accordions the keys of which are pearl
and armadillo

shake tambourines
that ring with armadillo toes

My dentist extracted all my teeth
and replaced them with dentures
made of armadillo shell

If I bite someone I can give them leprosy
even if I merely kiss them

and I’m feeling aggressive
like a first grader with no social skills
I’m feeling affectionate too

I’m blowing a saxophone
made from a scooped out
armadillo corpse

I’m feeling hopeful
as a jazz moon
and the new year approach

-- Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

An Email on Sunday

Some emails
are more difficult
to receive  
from a child
long out of college

the daughter who writes  
her cancer is back
but the doctor says
with chemo and surgery
things should be fine

and all the while
the father wonders
why she didn’t call
at midnight and let
the telephone scream

hysterically in the night
to deliver the news
a computer is too
cold a messenger
to deliver hot terror

on Sunday morning
while machine guns
of sleet drive
bullets too bright
into the ground

-- Donal Mahoney


Part One: 1944

Sunlight on broad strand,
Incoming tide: cousins wade
Unaware of war.

Part Two:   1958

College beach weekend:
Hot drive home, awful headache,
Wet bread on the floor.

Part Three:    2008

Ninth-floor oceanfront
Condos for sale:
Motel rooms in perpetuity.
Tuesday morning:
By the sofa,
Philip’s goggles, left behind,
Other people’s grandchildren
On the beach.

The receding tide
Sucks sand from under your feet:
Time slipping away

-- Robert Demaree


Powered by three extension cords,
The dervish spool spins wildly, as
A thin plastic strand somehow levels
Oak and maple seedlings,
Plantain, stinging nettle,
Ragweed on the leach field,
A June duty, a need, we were advised,
Lest roots take hold.
One neighbor trims his field flat,
A kind of stubbly putting green;
Another lets it grow unchecked.
A seeker of the middle way,
I want it to look as though given thought
And leave the yellow touch-me-nots,
Born of seeds our grandson spread
And those royal ferns my mother loved.

Inside, Martha is straightening up
The address book, repository of information
We do not need but are afraid to lose:
How to reach distant cousins overseas,
E-mails from beyond the grave,
The folly, dolesome but required,
Of cutting things off at the ground.

-- Robert Demaree


We had taken our girls,
Quite young,
To see the town
Of their grandfather’s growing up,
Leafy Victorian homes
On brick streets
Along the Ohio River.
We brought back a bottle of red wine
From a new Indiana vintner.
Well, he said,
In the early stages
Of whatever it was he had,
This won’t be any damn good:
Not unpredictable,
That this is what we remember
Of that time in his life,
Our lives,
That trip, that gift.

-- Robert Demaree

This Maze This Woman

Every man
needs a cane
and a German Shepherd
to ford the mind
and engage the maze
of any woman
single or married.
It doesn’t matter

which maze
which woman
as long as he
trundles on
when he marries
supports his children
grows old
and then rises

one hot morning
blinks in the ether
and asks himself
why did he marry
this maze
of a woman
only to find alas
she’s gone

-- Donal Mahoney


Daughter They Dote On

Gallivanting again
she’s now 33

where she goes
ever a mystery

Her parents bewildered
are ill and retired

they watch her kids
seven so far

quints and twins
sires unknown

this time it's Nome
the twins were told

to meet her soulmate
found on the web

she was a nun once
cloistered in Rome.

-- Donal Mahoney


Danny the Pruner

Danny the pruner
fell out of a tree
bounced only once
lay in a lump for
gapers to see

a lover was Danny
renowned in the city
the ladies confirmed
two men and a gurney
swept him away

spoke not a word
till he woke in hell
yelled at the devils
dancing in circles
chanting with glee

a litany of names
of other men’s wives
told Danny he'd soon
have horns of his own
no chance to flee.

-- Donal Mahoney