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Thomas M. McDade's Poems

Sunday or Friday

I stop at the Ashcan room

Always first, Henri, Luks

Glackens, Shinn, Sloan

Bellows some say

Barely belongs

Repeat that for Hopper

That the museum itself

Doubts since he’s

In another place

It’s Bob Henri’s

Her Sunday Shawl

That grabs me

Like a mind reading

Guard who looks

Like he's figured

Me out: 32 X 28 1/8

Easy grab perhaps

The  catalogue says

Her name is Sarah

She’s a child

(The bulky garment

Babies her face)

With impish eyes

And I marvel at their

Pale blue whites

And rouge plus lipstick

Are those eyebrows

Plucked and is it

Sunday off to church

Or Friday night and

Other plans and I can 

Hear her reacting to Henri

Explaining himself

And his style

Ashcan, indeed!

A Professor Dies

A Thermos of tea

At the ready and always

A notable cast to assist

In making lecture points

He liked the pep talk Ignatius

Gave to Jesuit recruits

Unsure of their worthiness

 “Act as if you are, and 

Eventually you will be”

Tom Paine’s Common Sense

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex

He’d been in Army Intelligence

Quit in protest of the Vietnam War

He’d jumped the fence at Ark-Sa-Ben

He marched with Martin Luther King

He admired The University 

Of Chicago, the Great Books Project 

And Saul Bellow, Adler and McKeon

He believed the moral of the Meno

Dialogue was that virtue was luck

And the best way to die

Was doing what you love

Take Country Music star

Spade Cooley whose heart burst 

Backstage after a standing ovation

Cooley was a murderer on furlough

For a Sheriffs’ Association Benefit

Acting like a free man

Face or Faces


I liked 

Eleanor R.'s 




Photos in five

& dime frames

With her when


I imagine another

Soul picking up

That habit and


Leaving one

Behind in

A hotel room

Say someone

Old with no kin

Taking a chance

On a housekeeper

Keeping the face

Or faces for 

A souvenir and

Squinting to 


Writing on

A corner

Even tossed

In trash still

Hope in 

Sharp eyes

Of bulldozer

Drivers at

A landfill

Barroom Art


Walking up

To the third floor

To be greeted

By Van Gogh’s

Night Café

Been visiting

Forever and

Always awed

By its fest

Of color

But sometimes

The midnight

Drinking truth,

The clutter

Of Empty


And glasses

Slumped men

A pool table

With felt 

A wreck

And as the



Blaze me 

Back to

Risky times

Rescue is

Focusing on

The three 

Balls one

A rosy red


The walls

Two white

Like the



On the bar

In a fat vase

Artist and Mutt

At Raphael's tomb

I imagine him toasty inside 

Snug in a square of one of his

Tapestries that live in the Sistine

At an outdoor café

A man plays with a dog 

His wife tucks the mutt

Under her Tartan cape 

Muffled barking

The artist's Madonna

And Child prix fixe

Gangs of Spry Songs

I’m listening to some

Queen & Pogues &  

Cowboy Junkies & 

Maggot Brain on my MP3 player

While sitting in McDonald’s.

A friend wants that last tune

Blasted at his wake.

The clerk charges me full coffee price

And damned if I don’t feel crazy young.

I almost buy oatmeal cookies.

As my concert is finishing, a fellow leaving

Says loud enough to get into my ears

To no one in particular

That he’s getting a hip transplant very soon.

A white-haired birthday celebrant whose cake

Is being cut and distributed by his daughter

To family and friends shouts out

He’s due for a new shoulder.

She offers me a piece of the chocolate treat

That I gladly accept but my cup is empty.

Limping to the counter I purchase another,

Request the senior tariff as there are

Gangs of spry songs on my gizmo 

To refute the geriatric slide,

Besides, the sweet gift is tot sized.

His Friends Below

A sailor flipped his lid, 

skinny fellow, wild eyes beady.  

He swore left hand raised

that he was evil and 

the Father, Son and Holy 

Ghost were the other 

villains plaguing him.  

To right this situation, 

he must kill a friend 

but he has none so he must 

wander relentlessly

the decks and passageways. 

He disposes of his enemies by 

writing their names on paper 

airplanes that he launches 

over the side into the sea.  

After chewing out the Captain

about the refueling set for first 

light, a helicopter he claimed

was made of newspaper 

that eagles would shit on 

and destroy arrived.

While he was being 

harnessed for the lift


he forgave 

both himself

and the Holy Trinity.

A spotlight showcased

all the kisses he threw

as if confetti

to his friends below.

Perhaps a Drunk One 

I hold back a chuckle 

When the assistant pro tells me 

Just one bag allowed a caddy 

Spreading out the wealth, you see. 

Yeah the ten bucks for doubles 

A gold ingot for sure. 

I win a skimpy 

Canvas bag I carry 

For a woman who has me 

Convinced I’m invisible and 

That condition allows privy 

To her bragging to her pal 

Who pulls around her set 

Of clubs on a handy little cart. 

About how she transformed 

her hubby — owned just one 

sports jacket and two pairs 

of slacks when they met. 

Now thanks to her he has 

A splendid wardrobe.

I picture her in a men’s shop 

Buying him silk skivvies. 

She yaps on about a phone call 

To the Pentagon to make sure 

Her son would be draft exempt 

After his Peace Corps tour. 

Don’t get me wrong, anti-war 

Myself although I start 

To gauge the weight 

Of her bag and clubs 

Against the memory 

Of my plugged boot camp M-1. 

But instead, I recall my dogs 

Planted on a shore duty desk 

While perusing the latest 

Gentlemen’s Quarterly 

Full of autumn fashions 

No sailor I knew would ever 

Use the word splendid on. 

I chuckle and she glares 

Up from her putt.

The Fair, The Inn, The Cottage

A small girl removes her blouse. Mom says if Granny were here all of hell would break loose.

Please, no bareback allowed, more English style saddles than western. Show horses hate earplugs, they try like Granny fires to shake them out. 

Alpacas and llamas at the petting zoo love to spit at each other not people. How much you got to bet? They do hum to their young not you. Very large bunnies wear sweaters of grey like chilly old men but no tobacco-like carrot stains. 

The innkeeper had a pony when she was a child name of Nancy. On a table, three Elvis dolls, squeeze a hand or foot no "Love Me Tender," murmur or hum. Skin lotion too for guest use. He's on the label. The pump spurts the like long-necked bearers of wool.

Kerouac saw Fantasia 15 plus times says a coverless magazine. A bluebird box should not exceed 3 feet from the ground. Diagram and fine print instructions school the bird lover how

to build a reliable predator guard.

A couple of cows named Jesse and Arlene munch out back. There's an electric fence no wonder such a bounty of flowers. Is the Crabtree and Evelyn rosewater shower gel named after Brit singers? jokes Mom. 

At the Rose Cottage Historical Site down the street that’s pink as a petting zoo tongue, there’s a one-lane cellar bowling alley by Zeus where U.S. Grant rolled a string or two but he was not welcome to stay the night due to his hard drinking style.. Shirt probably so whisky stained 

Granny would likely have said: 

Take the damned thing off.

I don’t care who the devil you are.


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