Christopher Mulrooney




Grandma Moses, The Old Checkered House in Cambridge Valley, 1943





outskirts of town

side streets

gang spoiled church


the priest and the dance hall girl

to Rodgers & Hart

drink with chaser


adage or two


on a room to let in a better part of town

pardon me however


fantail bar

trio sonata in A Minor

the game is up

fortunate fables

the remodeler

the makeover

the book

“sanctified by hers”

the fair route

torch at evening

pepper pot and geraniums

by camel ride



the 14th a twelvemonth


victory willow

forbidden tortures


the pirate train

a private session






outskirts of town


oil derricks and cactus

damn few of those

a general store and Texas

with one yellow rose





side streets


a commercial makeover

plastic surgery for mobs

till then however

Dick Tracy’s mug shots





gang spoiled church


ransacked the place

good thing though

says news show

left no trace







old affiche

French aviator casting nasturtiums

from a great height





the priest and the dance hall girl


priest walks into a saloon

see I’m coming

into a saloon see what’ll you have

the barkeep says sarsaparilla my son

says the padre

barkeep serves him sarsaparilla

gal flutters down the stairs

Joe she says anything but that

eyeing the padre what do you mean Lil

says the barkeep Lil says

I’ll do anything but marry them

priest says who the hell asked you?





to Rodgers & Hart


there’s a little inn

with a Mickey Finn

I’d love to get you in

and give you one


you won’t feel a thing

I’ll do everything

we’ll both start to sing

and have some fun





drink with chaser


any alcohol will do at a pinch

and any drab refreshment

Irish whiskey say

and a dram with me old dam

a pale malt say

or rainwater from the barrel

right off the roof and Bourbon

say or Scotch and the river

going by succulent river that

or Welsh as the saying is a parlous brew

taken with a drop of dew







there’s mutiny in the break of the waves

that lap across the face

with a blank unconcern

and a laugh or giggle along the top





adage or two


villainy pretends manufacturing

it parrots to the skies

considerations not consummate

within forest-fired eyes







a bagtailed blonde usurped the dome

upturned it for her luncheon bowl

these discursions said the dancing master

are the drop to drink in a dungeon blast her





on a room to let in a better part of town


it doesn’t matter whatever one’s deserts ill or just

nor does it say in the advertisement which way or wherever

but coddled as we are by circumspection we must try

to put the matter right that’s all pass by





pardon me however


the cat on the alley fence sings all night

till the sun comes up and then he goes away

now say if that be not a metaphor of bliss

upon earth dusk to dawn my pretty miss

or like the neighbor who gives no rest at all

but daylong cackles till the cock comes home

that would be a simile of course and no mistake

another part of speech or rhetorician’s form







a general bleary feeling

how about you

in the trades feel the influence

do you? the negotiations

on the great state level

are you savvy? that

is the press composition

I love the best

it squeezes me

and pleases me just like

a tube of toothpaste





fantail bar


grey and Scotch tartan

with sea and gulls

the great however

steamship sails

to the island paradise


or again the schools

of ancient civilization

are out the swallows

not returning the bells

clappered in vain





trio sonata in A minor


it occurs to her boyfriend

is he cute or what her lover

has a fine set of pipes

to play upon how engineer it

with a cunning stratagem

he works the girl right out of the picture anyhow

and strums the connoisseur’s banjo

who admiring this as any nightmare

cancels his subscription





the game is up


what semaphore flags is waving

round the ole tepee

tonight or whenever

comes about the motor launch

with the gravy boat captain in it

and his lovely figurehead breasting the waves?





fortunate fables


the bear in the cave sang cock-a-doodle-doo in the winter morning sunlight

had to be winter because of the cave

had to be sunlight because of the morning

which had to be because of the crowing





the remodeler


daddy did the dirty on her

did her when she wasn’t looking

now she’s in the kitchen cooking

daddy’s rooster for our dinner





the makeover


to line them up against the wall

and open fire’s not sufficient

but to knock down turrets and all

that is most efficient





the book


owl glasses by moonlight

the alchemist peers

is it the skin of a rabbit

or a lab rat peeled





“sanctified by hers”


bowlers and penny-farthings on the paths

every which way

the attendant kindly points his arm

toward the statuary





the fair route


an intelligible landscape

presents its nether view

caressing mounds and streambed

resembling you





torch at evening


the flaxen tide has left the sky

the Turrell blue descending

makes all things luminescent

save this lady walking by





pepper pot with geraniums


there on the kitchen counter

with cream to hand and salt and flour

next the bubbling Franklin stove

at the picture window hour





by camel ride


through the oases one by one

in the griddle-braising sun

beyond the Mountains of the Moon

wherever people carry a tune







that’s what it shows

the desert circumstances

near to nothing in the silentious valley

nowheresville per the critics

just a humble lad

seeking his way from pillar to post







all stops out

do you hear me

the antonym

of any lout


who stops in

to sleep awhile

and just forgets

where he’s been





the 14th a twelvemonth


appointment only and that royal

count on my crest breaking the waves

to victory on the day a Tuesday and that early

betimes as they used to say long ago when it was

considered a sign of good breeding to be up to date







the shallow subalterns all gathered at the fire

see here said the one look there another behold the last





victory willow


we put up a sort of tragic fountain in grief

beside the main

O we said O we again said

hurrah for the gunners and the engineer-in-chief





forbidden tortures


the can of baked beans for instance

do not wave into the breeze before a Nantucket man

alone in a whaleboat


you may give the vote

to Christ upon his cross between two thieves he can

judge in any case who’ll go the distance







all the little clams you dig there

dancing on the edge of the pit fall in then

pudding and pie the candlestick from the Met

while you turn up the great big underground switch

am I right over copy that because the whole muse thing

interests you as a rather lowdown carpet-seller’s commentary

on his wares from a legendary source in proverbial hills

you flog the stuff like any

there is all your art





the pirate train

Truce to navigation;

Take another station.



it makes all the stops

to rob every depot

every old stationmaster has a patch to one eye

and his corncob pipe

the Capitol dome flies the skull and crossbones

it’s on Whistler’s mother and his father too

all else is vanity





a private session


letting go all the nightmares

proofreaders editors and their damned sect

while I ply my trade a humble yachtsman

did you say craftsman no I mean what I say got a hat

blue blazer white trousers shoes of white and argyle socks

while I steer the dangerous waters with a flare gun handy and a pistol too

I steer by charts and know my stars and have you all arranged in southern ports by sunrise