Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Commonweal, Guwahatian Magazine (India), The Galway Review (Ireland), Public Republic (Bulgaria), The Osprey Review (Wales), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey) and other magazines. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs
(Photo: Carol Bales)
It’s a small backyard
I’ve watched for years
from an upstairs window
while chained to a computer.
Whatever the weather
the old widow was always
planting in spring
watering in summer
raking in fall
shoveling in winter
but the yard’s quiet now
the only traffic
a resident squirrel
heading for the oak
over the tall grass
the widow’s heir
has stopped mowing.
She told her son
you don’t have to garden
but please mow the grass
rake the leaves and
shovel the snow
or I’ll shake you
the rest of your life.
A Third World Life
When he was just a boy,
they took him to the dump
to scavenge, bits of metal,
any food that might be eaten.
When he became a man,
young and handsome,
every day he would go
to the dump and scavenge.
When he was middle-aged,
other men followed him
after he discovered a bigger,
better dump to scavenge.
Now old and blind, he sits
in his hut while seven
children and their children
go to the dump and scavenge.
She speaks the truth
as she always has
in 40 years of marriage
especially when she’s
lost in making dinner
this time though
she has to wash
blood from the paring knife
before she peels
the last of the potatoes.
Until the knife went in
he didn’t think in 40 years
she had noticed that
for a man his size he
has small shoulders.
Reprobate in Recovery
If you’re a reprobate in recovery
you have to be careful what you do.
You’re no different than an alcoholic,
always in danger of falling again.
At least an alcoholic has a disease
but not every reprobate is sick.
Some are genetically louses.
They love what they do.
If you’re a reprobate in recovery
it’s understandable to think
you might be safe in church.
Lots of good people go to church.
But reprobates go there too.
Some may be worse than you.
The next time you go to church,
even if it’s your first time, remember
this old saying, recently refreshed:
A church is a hospital for sinners
not a resort for saints.
When you go to church,
a reprobate might
hand you a bulletin,
pass the basket, nod off
in the pew next to you or
bellow from the pulpit.
So watch for a reprobate
to join the mix after
a Sunday service
during fellowship with
coffee and donuts.
If you can't spot one,
a selfie may do.
Odd and Strange
The day Paul got married,
his old girlfriend called his house
just before he and his bride Anne
caught the plane for their honeymoon.
Paul was outside packing the car
and Anne answered the phone.
His old girlfriend was angry because
Paul had married somebody else so she
told Anne strange things Paul liked to do,
strange things Anne had never heard of,
stuff that didn’t sound like Paul at all,
but Anne said nothing about the call
and they flew off to a nice honeymoon,
diving off cliffs and swimming in the sea,
seeing rare birds and tropical flowers,
eating native foods Anne hadn't heard of.
Years later, they went back to Oahu
for their 40th anniversary, and Anne
told Paul about the call but didn’t say
anything about what the girl had said
although she remembered every word.
They were sipping drinks at a cafe
when Paul admitted he remembered
the girl because she would ask him to do
things he thought odd and strange.
He was open-minded but there’s a limit.
Anne said she understood because after
40 years with Paul, she now liked to do
things she thought odd and strange when
she left the Amish for something new.