Sean J. Mahoney

A couple steps

Step 17.

Going down the very wide staircases at the Segerstrom after seeing The Book of Mormon. After the show the lights came up and everyone stood. A few went to the elevators for the two-floor ride down to Level 1 though most found themselves funneled toward those wide, wide stairs. I ended up out toward the middle without a handrail to steady me, measure me.

I made it down all the carpeted stairs. I made it to the staged photo area looking not relieved per se but heavy still with dread. Burdened with it. Very few take a moment to break down what they are doing in real time, to understand each literal and figurative step they take is the summation of a previous set of steps – relays of electrical impulses. Think about that: walking down flights of stairs with people shoulder to shoulder. The feet step down, the arms shifting from droopy to rigid in milliseconds, the eyes darting like flicker, nose full of perfume and perspiration and the gas, faint Stones in someone’s earbuds, fixating on core tightness, head on a limited swivel…and I still think about what the fall would be like…an orgy of bulbous flesh…these actions reinforcing those actions; perhaps enough electricity to power a lightbulb…I would begin my accidental descent…I would not pine for health and a responsive body. Ever. I’m slowly falling. Have you hydroplaned at 60mph in heavy rain and had that montage appears of seemingly unrelated events but you are falling like Seth Rogen fell in Long Shot; like the Rockettes’ Wooden Soldier fall…and as this is happening many of the personae you have been appear as a crowd around you, who you reach out for though your crip hands are filthy with old crimes against urbane social moors. I would begin my accidental decent…my potential energy grid free, grounded in force. If I fell people would get hurt. I fall in step with my stair descenders; procession of one physical law…don’t fucking hurt anyone.

Never underestimate the poetry of where you are.

But the stress of those few minutes…hellish for me. Likely led to more brain damage though my damage it seems is limited to the mid-brain. I think. Or maybe it is the frontal lobe. Parietal? Occipital? Thalamus? Knee-cap?

Step 26.

Stress. It’s all in the neck when pronounced. Stressed agents are mobile states of chaos and impulse. Mostly. Stress is habitual living? A nearly complete global phenomenon run amok…

When you should be expecting it, unidentified and flying as an object of theoretical pain and hyperbolic whimsy, the moment(s) in life when -slap- life reminds you that you are a crip in some significant way and this joint has always swung in the air of exclusivity and abled entitlement. For me, often, it is a matter of balance navigating these suspect waters. Feeling so out of place on those stairs…I should have waited those extra five minutes for the lift. Used the restroom. Lingered looking rogue-ish…lit up a lobby blunt. Sniff. Puff.

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Not Primarily a Covid Story

Mother-in-law had surgery today. She got stents put in on each side of her. Artery in the right leg. Blockage causing her pain. As of now – post-surgery and post-surgery nap – she has mild pain. But pain. And wife has to work tomorrow so I will be looking after MiL. And working also. Working from home as I have been doing since March of 2020 when Covid really began to get a feel for the floor of the world; where traction was to be found, preferential pathways of exposure, where deniers flourished.

Bernini & indentations on the flesh, on Proserpina’s thigh of struggle. I wink unknowingly. Myokymia arresting my muscles, my visual sense of control. I flirt with the world. Narrative of curation. Pride and bluster. Coffee. Sweets. Wink-wink. The Three Graces – arthritic radiance, joy of scoliosis, and breast cancer’s flower – stand arm in arm despite decay and disease; to spite disease and a clever artist. If they can dance, then…just imagine. “I will have to kill you,” said Almudena, our learned docent. This man, he sat upon a slab of marble as though it were meant only for such deed. He sat eating crackers in the Prado and you said “No eating – this is a museum. So you can stop or I will have to kill you.” Just motionless as if posing. And you laughed, wheeling me away. “I really will kill him,” you whisper.

Covid has been stressful. Wife is an RN in a ICU unit. Twice during the opening salvo of the world’s current viral warfare she had to isolate at a close to work hotel (with a floor dedicated to first responders) for two weeks at a time. I had to accept it. And keep doing whatever. Stress. It’s all in the neck when pronounced.

Night before last D came to the back sliding doors and I could feel sadness as soon as she slid it; her monitor tech, the one she had called about much earlier in the day, was not doing well. She wept as she finished undressing and headed off to the restroom. I gave her a few minutes then I went for her. I took her hand, led her back to bed and spooned with her, embraced her. I had not seen her weep like this at any time during the national Covid fiasco of death and suffering and here a co-worker had fallen – a massive stroke – and she is in tears. Respect with compassion…how hard can it be…a firm embrace…arms entwined despite decay, disease.

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About the Author

Sean J. Mahoney believes that Judas was a way better singer than Jesus. He trusts in salsa (the 7th food group), dark chocolate, and CBD. Sean has had work published at Poets Reading the News, The Good Men Project, Nine Mile Literary Magazine, Amsterdam Quarterly, and Wordgathering, and a score of other public walls. Sean has worked as a prose editor at Wordgathering for almost four years, now. He live in Santa Ana, California with Dianne, her mother, three dogs, and four renters. There is a large garden and two trees with big bitter oranges that look more lemon-like. Sean helped create the Disability Literature Consortium, roots for Tardigrades, and syncs to Little Shop of Horrors at least twice a year.