by Sean J. Mahoney
When DJT was a black lung
You Sir, crushed me with disease.
An earmark & a toehold disease.
A disease beholden to coal: formerly
jolly, innocent, and sparkled emblem
of fossil products. A lung-load of dust.
Those days of carts streaming in and
out of tunnels full of black gold
have been on the wane for decades
now. I would have you point
your gnarled fingers at the party
crucified as anti-energy but that
is not a complete story. This myth
changes as often as the bulb in
a headlamp. You would not bring
yourself forth to admit sickness else
lose your job – that is how soundly
your country loves you, how it
breaks its back for you. And you,
dirty and toiling in its bowels.
Earth squeezes out its shit before
your pick. You Sir have soiled
decency. There is no service medal
for your sacrifice. No your kids
get put out and your home is
taken. When you try and fill in
an application the paper is blacked
from your coughing of Kentucky
and Virginia and Ohio. Coal is not
coming back and what little
remains resides inside you.
This the tolling bell, for whom
you once did serve when you
could breathe enough to rise each
day in darkness and return home
darker than the night itself. These
tones of silica embedded upon me
weighing each breath like a false
sense of noble security, like an
unrequited election promise.
I am a subject. And I am still mobile. And flying.
But who am I, really, to the misdiagnosed folk
who make the rags Pa holds to the head wound
when he appears during what would constitute
my aside, my frustrated soliloquy on a desperate
set complete with MRI, wet bar, lumbering car,
and what seems to be partially eaten scenery
to you quiet reader and, in actuality, are my
rows and columns of rigorous axons.
Continuing now I ask what it’s like to be dead
there, in my waking dream rooms, on my time, your
cranial fluids trickling away onto walks, into pools
subject to improbable interpretations? I am
a harsh critic after all and lusting only for health.
When your Manhattans no longer spell the day
by quickly and I must endure several hours,
two or three times a year, the world you sit
and ooze in when instead I want to inquire of your
new station but you are drinking. And I am
cureless. Yes I miss you. Yes you are helpless.
I am perturbed a bit, but steady at 75mph.
So I pull the rag from my Pa’s head, push
a dry one into his bullet hole no larger than
a dime. I twist it in with something approaching
delight. I don’t know what I do with them after
that. I am the busboy and I don’t know what to do
with the fouled rags. I know they are actually
my MRIs and prescriptions and referrals now
stained with Pa’s head matters and taxed head
percentages; he will never know of my condition.
Ma knows — she’s got my back I know. I am
the one with lesions — white and grey they say —
and among the living.
In the trattoria, my father sometimes sits with
his father. Though we never dine together,
the three of us have never been closer. Two
down and one to go.
Sean J. Mahoney lives with Dianne, her mother, two Uglydolls, and three dogs in Santa Ana, California. He works in geophysics. He believes in salsa, dark chocolate, and CBD. Sean helped create and continues working with the Disability Literature Consortium.