Spring 2008, Volume 4

Poetry by Sean Gunning

No Samaritan

I went down Wardlow to Woodruff, yesterday,
And saw a man lying on his side, across the sidewalk
His torso in a Bird of Paradise landscaped verge
Between Ralphs parking lot and the sidewalk
And the man and the landscape almost blended
Into suburban invisibility.

"There was a man who went down
From Jerusalem to Jericho, and bandits
Attacked him and robbed him and beat him
And left him with little life remaining in him
And they went away."

At his side, I passed through the pungent death-cloud
Not a physical or spiritual death
But a death of determination to keep striving
Beaten down
Born into desolation
And I recognized the smell of the Grace of God.

"And it chanced a priest was going down that road
And he saw him and passed on."

And I prayed to Our Mother—the mother of us both.
And I reclined in the contoured dentists' chair
Thinking it poetic that he resembled Doctor Roe,
With his black hair and black beard
And grey and black clothes
And I resolved to look more closely
If he was still there, on my way back.

"But a Samaritan as he journeyed came where he was
And when he saw him he had compassion on him
And he came to him and bound up his wounds
And poured on them wine and oil
And he put him on his own ass
And brought him to the inn and took care of him
And in the morning he took out two pennies
And gave them to the innkeeper
And said to him, take care of him
And whatever you spend more,
When I return, I will give it to you."

And he was still there.
Now lying North-South with his arms straight at his sides
And his feet crossed over thick grey socks
With a gaping hole at the ankle
And his face was ashen-brown or olive-colored
Or a shade of white or black
And his beard was scraggly and tangled
And sorely lacking the dark designer-dashes of Doctor Roe's
And he was lying on Woodruff Blvd. at 1:30 in the afternoon
With closed eyes inside a grimy grey hoodie-shroud
Listening to the faint sound from the other side of the street
Of the L.A. River carrying discarded debris back to sea
And the faint footsteps of the people passing by
And I walked by and prayed for him, a second time,
Knowing it was not enough
Knowing I was no Samaritan.

Waiting For Snow To Fall

A brain fizzing with nothing
Even faintly audible
Or remotely palpable
Its dim light bulb flickering
A day's last breath going out
Numb from counting syllables
And re-cycling scribbles
And adding more crossings-out,
Barely emitting a glow
Closing up shop for the night
'Till the bell tinkles just right
And softly sounds the word snow
Whose soft wet splash on her ear
Asks like a small humming bird
Could this be just the right word
You've waited all day to hear?

BIO:  Sean was born 'n raised in London, of Irish parents, and came to Long Beach in 1989 to marry a local gal. We're still together and still in Long Beach. Today's my 45th birthday. This January, I had a short story published in an LA based Irish themed paper called Irish News and Entertainment, after which they asked me to write a regular column. My second piece was a review of Beckett's famous play "Waiting For Godot," which they lost, apparently, but never told me until a few weeks ago. And now they're saying it looks like the paper's folding. I know I'm not that great of a writer but the lengths they're going to spare my feelings, it's amazing, isn't it?