Yellow Mama Archives II

John C. Mannone

Acuff, Gale
Allen, R. A.
Alleyne, Chris
Andes, Tom
Arnold, Sandra
Baber, Bill
Baird, Meg
Baker, J. D.
Balaz, Joe
Barker, Adelaide
Barker, Tom
Barnett, Brian
Bartlett, Daniel C.
Bayly, Karen
Beckman, Paul
Berriozabal, Luis Cuauhtemoc
Beveridge, Robert
Blakey, James
Burke, Wayne F.
Campbell, J. J.
Cancel, Charlie
Capshaw, Ron
Carr, Steve
Centorbi, David Calogero
Christensen, Jan
Clifton, Gary
Cody, Bethany
Costello, Bruce
Coverly, Harris
Crist, Kenneth James
Cumming, Scott
Davie, Andrew
Davis, Michael D.
Degani, Gay
De Neve, M. A.
Dillon, John J.
Dorman, Roy
Doyle, John
Dunham, T. Fox
Ebel, Pamela
Fillion, Tom
Fortier, M. L.
Garnet, George
Graysol, Jacob
Grech, Amy
Greenberg, KJ Hannah
Grey, John
Hardin, Scott
Held, Shari
Hicks, Darryl
Hivner, Christopher
Hohmann, Kurt
Holtzman, Bernice
Jabaut, Mark
Jermin, Wayne
Jeschonek, Robert
Johns. Roger
Kanner, Mike
Kennedy, Cecilia
Keshigian, Michael
Kitcher, William
Kompany, James
Koperwas, Tom
Larsen, Ted R.
Le Due, Richard
Leotta, Joan
Lubaczewski, Paul
Lucas, Gregory E.
Luer, Ken
Lyon, Hillary
Mannone, John C.
Martinez, Richard
McConnell, Logan
McQuiston, Rick
Middleton, Bradford
Mladinic, Peter
Mobili, Juan
Mullins, Ian
Nielsen, Ayaz Daryl
Nielsen, Judith
Onken, Bernard
Owen, Deidre J.
Park, Jon
Parker, Becky
Pettus, Robert
Prusky, Steve
Reddick, Niles M.
Robson, Merrilee
Rollins, Janna
Rose, Brad
Rosmus, Cindy
Scharhag, Lauren
Schauber, Karen
Schmitt, Di
Short, John
Slota, Richelle Lee
Smith, Elena E.
Snethen, Daniel G.
Steven, Michael
Stoler, Cathi
Stoll, Don
Surkiewicz, Joe
Swartz, Justin
Taylor, J. M.
Temples. Phillip
Traverso Jr., Dionisio "Don"
Turner, Lamont A.
Tustin, John
Tyrer, DJ
Verlaine, Rp
Viola, Saira
Waldman, Dr. Mel
Weibezahl, Robert
Weil, Lester L.
White, Robb
Wilhide, Zachary
Williams, K. A.
Woods, Jonathan
Young, Mark
Zelvin, Elizabeth
Zimmerman, Thomas

The Lamp Filament


by John C. Mannone



At the scene by the dark countryside, summer flies hang

in the feculent heat—no skid marks—a ‘98 Ford Escort


left the road, tumbled down a steep embankment, and lay

inverted on limestone rocks. Officers bag the driver’s


body for the morgue. It seems the LA female fell asleep,

lost control. The car didn’t explode as in the movies.


The coroner says the time of death, which later coincides

with what witnesses said when they noticed the time


the victim’s car left her home. But something isn’t right.

I study her body and effects more closely, learn


she was Rosemary Collins—a friend I dated twenty years

ago during my college days. Rose was always careful, sensible.




The autopsy reveals she was three months pregnant.

Toxicology shows no alcohol, no drugs


but her neck was broken; bruises and contusions

on her face. One might argue that it happened


when the car crashed causing blunt force trauma,

as well as the cervical fractures to her neck, but


detectives suspect foul play. Susan, the victim’s sister,

said Rose argued with Steven Holder, a guy she was with


who forced himself on her a few months earlier.

She, in tears, refused his wanting her to abort the baby.


Rose told Susan about the rape, the splitting-up,

and the promise to tell everyone what he had done.


Dr. Holder’s practice would be ruined as a trauma

psychologist for rape victims, now a perp himself.


That fear would establish motive. On the night

of the accident, she was likely followed by Holder


to the outskirts of town where he planned to kill her,

he had a shaky alibi but the police couldn’t place him there.




I flash back to the accident site later in the daylight,

ponder the wreckage, search for clues remaining silent:


The afternoon sun glances through the trees, catches

the reflector in the taillight. I lull in the red glints,


remember the complex physics of a simple light bulb.

Something about those electrons in conduction bands


of tungsten filaments—the glow of blackbody radiation

that Newton’s physics cannot explain but that quantum

                             physics of Planck and Einstein could.




I head to the lab juggling equations. Chemical

and metallurgical analysis of the wire confirms


the multicolored deposits—oxides and nitrides

of tungsten and molybdenum—are insufficient


to warrant resistive failure of the filament. The coil

was not breached, but deformed by impact


acceleration of the 3000-degree-Kelvin-hot wire.

On the contrary, a cold coil would’ve suffered

brittle fracture on impact. The brake lights

must have been burning bright at the time of impact.


She likely saw him coming, furious. When he slammed

into her, she broke hard to keep from going over the ledge,


but couldn’t stop the fall. No guardrail.

No burned rubber could be left on the gravel.


Moments after the car wreck, he must have bludgeoned her

with a hammer because the wreckage couldn’t


have killed her that way. Microscopic chips of red paint

found on the shattered plastic housing of the taillight


assembly were consistent with the make and model

of GM cars like Holder drives. A search warrant issued,


forensics confirms the paint came from his car.

He is arrested and convicted because a simple


light bulb filament has shed light on the dark


Like Sherlock Holmes


by John C. Mannone



The detective stands confident, sure,

tweed cap brimming eyes, smoldering

pipe in hand; pulls the cuff of his coat

tight to stay the dawn chill. Cemetery

grass stirs. And wind ruffles the fallen

leaves; sun, too angry to sift through

the fog, to shine on the marble stone

etched with the name of the thug who

lunged at the young girl with a knife

simply to scare her into his Skylark car.

His heavy-footed moves set the fates:

the imbalance, the stumbling over rocks,

the piercing of her little heart, the rush

of screamless air from her lungs. Death

by this thief, who had remained invisible

to society all his life, now made apparent

his intents, his heart shriveled, hatred

blinding him in his own reflection. His

mother, whom he had tried to please

by bringing this small child to her,

would have stirred the ground where

she lay loosing her ashes to the wind.

But there’s only her charred remains

left to cry for her son. And the hounds

howl in the distance hungry for fox.


The detective shakes his head, blares

out: Even deranged fathers are sly

thieves that try to hide truth. He stokes

his pipe, turns to the other tombstone,

whispers that the crocus will bloom

on the little girl’s gravesite; the sun will

smile, and the fog will brush its muted

watercolors on the marble stone.

A Glint of Steel




                                               John C. Mannone        



A few cinders poofed inside the stone ring and charcoal ash flew up as dust-soot into the cold dawn. Shriveled-up bacon draped the hickory limbs where they had once crackled over fire; ranch coffee in aluminum pots, muddied with grounds, now tepid and abandoned; and blackberry jam, crusted on half-bitten biscuits, stopped oozing on hardened crumbs long before noon. And the flies swarmed.


Dew streaked the nylon tents in dead calm air. Even the squirrels and the chickadees were quiet today. The last stand of virgin timber stood silent. Only lizards stirred. The skinks scurried over the oak picnic tables—one was covered over with yesterday’s newspaper.


The headline read that a suspect in the Jamestown murders had escaped from the maximum security prison. One of the guards was shiv’d through his neck. It was unwritten how he had managed that.


The escapee once told the news media why he is the way he is, does what he does. “I used to think that I was a serial killer, but I’m not; momma said so.” Witnesses said they saw him head south toward the border, but he disappeared as a ghost.




By the woods north of town, seven teens from Grendel County High had camped in the holler. Echoes of their cries still hung on tulip poplars and loblolly pines. And those pines needled the air, scarlet dripping with the mist.


The sun rose with blood on its hands and a glint of steel in its eyes.





Abstract Art


by John C. Mannone



At first, I thought someone painted

abstract art on the bathroom wall—

blood-red blotches threading with blue

on an off-white wall—a patriotic theme

but I didn’t see the ink brushes the artist

might have left, only blue-black ink

on the floor by the closet door cracked

open. Red seeping out. I didn’t see

the body stuffed into that space; choked,

I couldn’t scream, or urinate and I had to

get out of this bathroom now, tell someone,

the manager, the police. I turned to rush out

but the door was locked. I started pounding

on the door, yelling, “Let me out!”

A faucet, on full hot, emptied itself

steaming the room. I fell to the floor,

horror enveloping me like vapor,

but a soft voice growing louder

in my ear said, Get up. Get up!

          I awaken; crayon in my hand.

The apartment building


by John C. Mannone



doesn’t welcome the immigrants, it looks

outside with window-sagging eyes, no welcome

mat that’s not flipped on its back—silent side up.


At night, mother and child hear the wall mumble

in their native tongue, warns them of looming

nightmares—voices of their predecessors.


In the morning, more of yellowing wallpaper

is torn from night’s anguish. It couldn’t speak,

picture-less nails had sutured its mouth shut.


But the bedbugs spoke in Braille with a trail

of welts, scratchy words proclaiming the blind

neglect of the landlord. The wastebasket outside


his office cries boisterously, but crumpled papers

inside rustle louder with their complaint: forged

disclosure forms about health code violations.


The mother doesn’t know. Her little girl simply

sings as she plays on the porch with the curling

paint chips that also lullaby their own appealing


sweetness. Her beautiful braided hair tight as a fist

blares the secret of dangerously high levels of lead.

Even her grave cannot keep it quiet.



Author’s Note: This is a speculative poem inspired by a ‘Forensic Files’ episode (accessed February 21, 2021) In memoriam of Sunday James Abek (1997-2000).



by John C. Mannone


Sky is still dark with cracks of light

when we arrive at the river. Fog

from after-rain mists the brackish

gray water and the amorphous shape

floating between the harbor pylons


just as the informant said.

The charred remains sloshes, waves

slap concrete; crabs latched to torso

clawing remnants of breast—someone’s

lover, someone’s daughter.


We grapple her body, drag it

to shore and into a plastic bag:

her nose, mouth, tinted with blood,

her insides exploded from flames.

Probably tortured before her body


was cast into swift water.

The ride to the morgue, silent, except

for the swish of puddled rain entrained

by tire treads—a static hush, perhaps

a lament for this young woman.


Body bag crinkles when it’s unzipped.

Under fluorescent lights, the conflagration

didn’t leave much more than pallor. Mouth

gaped open, but taciturn. Only screams

of horror socket her eyes. I hear it


as if it were my own child’s voice.

That night in my bed, I lie still

unable to sleep, the stench

of bleach in my nostrils, my hands

shriveled from scrubbing, scrubbing


clean the blood that seeped out.

My own heart sutured by duty, my eyes

still burning from what they’ve seen

and from the horror they have yet to see.

Doctors Make Good Killers


by John C. Mannone


She’s completely relaxed

after a dose of good sex


and nods off under the silk

touch of satin sheets.


He slips into the bathroom

looks into the hard mirror.


Years of medical practice

stare back through haggard eyes,


through the trauma

of an emergency room


at St. Christopher’s, the stress

of his own weak heart


and all the gambling

of his career. Literally.


There’s no other way

to recover the money


he owes to the mobster

bookies, not even prayer—


no absolution for foolishness

before he gets whacked


by a couple of goons.

Desperation is always


a poor accomplice

of Deceit. She didn’t know


that love could be

supplanted by Greed.


He didn’t either.


Maybe the insurance money

will assuage the guilt.


He removes the vial

of succinylcholine


from his medical bag,

draws the solution


into the barrel of the needle,

squirts the air bubbles out.


The needle gleams

in the soft yellow light,


his face pallor with fear

but as colorless as Sux—


an affectionate name for

the paralytic muscle relaxant


used for ease of intubation

of ventilators for his


seriously afflicted COVID

patients; his unsuspecting wife.


A perfect poison

that leaves no trace


quickly breaking down

into natural chemistry.


He bends over his wife,

stutters a nearly silent


Hail Mary before

he injects, softly


kisses, and whispers,

“Please forgive me.”


He plunges the syringe

into his own thigh


to give him a little time—

thirty minutes, maybe more


to clean up the crime scene

before visceral congestion,


before severe pulmonary

edema, before petechial


hemorrhaging of heart, lungs

—before the visitation of death.


He leaves a note for his wife

[for her eyes only]. Not a suicide


lest she wouldn’t be able

to collect the insurance.


“Pay Guido” it said: the amount

and directions. She didn’t


know they were going to kill

her, too. Naturally, his death


will look like a heart attack,

for sure, this has broken

                   his heart.


He lies next to his beloved

and sleeps.




John C. Mannone has poems in Windhover, North Dakota Quarterly, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. Winner/Nominee of numerous contests/awards, John edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and other journals. He’s a retired physics professor living in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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