JBMulligan – Online Open Mic

at 3:02

The cat in the hall
gave a counterfeit cry
of lust. The moon
spilled a glass of light.
Out on the highway,
a truck complained
and the faint lament
of a train faded.
Lost in this crowd
and surrounded by shadows,
memory’s mob
lurking in alleys
of what almost happened,
I waited for nothing
and nothing arrived
and time turned over
to 3:03.


Just an old dog, scratching
familiar fleas, then nosing
the breeze, the intoxications.

Wings of light and shadow:
flocking behind the leaves:
prayer, then silence, then prayer.

To be so often alone
close to those few you love:
joy and screech of the nest.

Wine gurgles out
from the fallen amphora.
Harmony to appetite.

Decisions of the Morning Rain

Walking back home slowly
as the rain refuses
to make up its mind
(to fall or not to fall,
that is the answer)
I pass two crutches
abloom in a garbage can
in front of a neighbor’s garage.

I’m glad, mildly, that whatever
happened to someone is cured
or better enough that they
can move on two legs once again.

Tragedy’s entertaining
but these minor epics
of moving past the pain
are enough to celebrate
with a smile and a nod.

The rain decides that it
will fall just hard enough
to cause an umbrella mushroom
before it stops again
to ponder, to hesitate.

For the moment, my house
has no crutches to toss:
enough to smile and nod,
give thanks to an absent God.

Far From the Shore

Yellow-green whips in the fists of a willow.
Shrunken heads of ancient priestesses.
A swarm of squid in a blue echoing sea.

Night and the gunfire of thunder.
A distant high school marching band.
Armies clash on a smoke-clotted field.

The glitter-ball of a torn-down club.
Pure prismatic remembered blossoms.
A lighthouse preaches to darkness and waves.

You are far from me.
You are far from me.
You are far from me.
the same loss, over and over

Pink foam at the corner of her mouth.
Her head rubbing and twitching at the wall.
Iron-poor blood: it sounds so antiseptic,

a condition of meat. Pink foam
at the corner of her mouth, stunning her son
so many years ago. Iron-poor blood.

Her body bloodless, slipped into
the grave like a hand into a satin glove.
It sounds so antiseptic. Her head

rubbing and twitching, her eyes
clenched, like little fists against the sky.
She was all right later,

all right so many times after that
until the final time she fell into the fist
of the grave. A condition of meat.

Pink foam. Blood and spittle mixed.
The mystery of how love can die that goes on
rubbing and twitching at the wall.

A Beautiful Night at Six AM

Ah, such a beautiful night it is
at six o’clock in the morning.
The moon is plump with light.

I drive my sons to work; my wife
is home in bed, afraid
to move her head: it makes her
dizzy. (Dizzier, we joke.)

A beautiful night.

The day is waiting beyond the hills,
ready to spread, to spill its light,
and she’s at home in bed, the dog
asleep, tucked into her leg.

It’s six AM. She’s here beside me
normally, the boys in back
snoring or squabbling.

A beautiful night at six AM.

I do not know what beauty is
without her. It’s been that long.
She waits at home, in bed,
somewhat afraid, as I
drive through this beautiful
night at six in the morning,
my sons silent behind me.

She smiles when I get back.


JBMulligan has had more than 1000 poems and stories published over the last 45 years, as well as two chapbooks, two e-books, and appearances in several anthologies.