Commons, What Isn’t Seen


Bumping under clouds. Co-pilot trainee alternates between tracing
paths on a rudimentary flight map and pointing ahead past the gimmick
of the spinning wing. We begin our descent into light and Boston unfurls
below: and there is Logan, and there Fenway. Rows and blocks of old sepia
downtown surrounded brownstones strain against the new angular mattes
of modernity. Metropoli brace themselves, strip down and give historic
pause to sad, sadistic public mythologies. And perhaps the trainee remarks
about the salted march of time, but, more likely, once grounded saddles the big
Cat parked in a lot next to a mound of rubble and begins erecting a buoyant frame
for the reborn city bereft of distortions cradled within arms of privilege; a city
that has more pitch for the Commons than with what rose and fell before it. In this
new cradle Ann will not swing for witchcraft nor will Mary for spreading the Word.

That happened. Within the Emerald Necklace polite conversation links snow, a bro-
ken arm, and the madness; not the tragedy of hunger nor the sting of public protest.
Crispus was a lit match before Revere came round with a war, and Nick
Cave stood on stage this bitter March night beating that Stagger Lee
down, out of his cold black trousers. We learned of the treachery
of propelled time and requited cruelty. Though this, I think,
recognizes that we all, inevitably, are going to swing
around an epic prick near the end in an epochal
moment purposed for erections. Yes
this repeats. In Fresno maybe.
No matter spin put on it or
nails driven into trick-
sters. But it does not
have to. Not like
a long since


What isn't seen

What isn’t seen

At Bretheren Elementary School children
double-dutch with such grace it’s disarming.
Others spin about and some sit alone,
uncoiling springs. A young man has been
beaten nearby. Unrest skips through
L.A. Unified. We wave wands that tone
and react, spool out wire, and paint lines
across the blacktop. The children of Inglewood
ask us about terrorists and gold. We just
seek utilities. We trace what isn’t seen.
We do not imagine what may have happened.

In elementary school, children seek answers.
What’s a pipe? Who was kissing in the tree?
Where will the pipe go at night? When does
the bell ring? Are you a metal man?
We mark what lay beneath and nearby
the testicle guy was beaten by police.

It’s hard figuring out who accountability
matters to anymore and difficult reading
around corners. People die and alphabets
live purely by accident. If permissible,
if issued the proper pass, would I crack
an egg, poke the yoke, let the mess run
over the principal’s desk and expect
the children of Inglewood
to scramble? Expect them
then to trace what, exactly,
was not seen from class?

Mahoney Head - tweak

Sean J Mahoney lives with Dianne, her parents, two Uglydolls, and three dogs in Santa Ana, California. He works in geophysics. Out-boozed by Franciscan monks in Ireland. Swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico. Sean believes that punk rock miraculously survives, that Judas was a way better singer than Jesus, and that diatomaceous earth is a not well known enough gardening marvel. He was diagnosed with MS in 2012, has co-edited the 3 existing volumes of the MS benefit anthology series Something On Our Minds, and helped found the Disability Literature Consortium (, which made its physical debut at AWP 2016 in Los Angeles.

Images provided by the author.


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