Thursday, August 27, 2015

Reading Seamus Heaney

The Second Commandment
is pretty specific: Thou shalt not take 
the Name of the Lord Thy God in vain.
It’s one of the few commandments 
I seldom break but the other night 
I was reading Seamus Heaney
and was torn by the beauty 
ringing in my ears and “Jesus Christ!” 
slipped out of my mouth but I 
don’t think I said His Name in vain.
I spoke in high praise of a poet who 
has left behind a body of work that 
leaves me gasping for a respirator.

But the Second Commandment
is pretty specific so I plan to ask
Father Kelly if my "Jesus Christ!
while reading Seamus Heaney
was a mortal sin, and if he says yes, 
I’ll be careful reading Heaney again
because if I find better poems
and "Jesus Christ!" slips out again 
I might have a heart attack and die
pajama-clad in my old recliner.
I could wake up ablaze in Hell.
I'll have to be careful reading 
Seamus Heaney again.

Donal Mahoney


Subway Sarah

Sarah works lunch in a Subway shop
building sandwiches for construction men 

putting up a skyscraper down the street.
The men pick their own bread and meat and let 

Sarah pick their cheese because instead of a cookie
with their lunch they’d prefer Sarah after work.

Every month or so the crew changes and Sarah picks 
the man who looks the best, says the nicest things 

and agrees to meet him for coffee later at Starbucks. 
If he passes muster over lattes, Sarah takes him home 

and finds herself an hour later staring at the ceiling while
he pulls on his boots, says he’ll call and goes home. 

None of the men has ever called or is seen again 
except at Subway where he now picks his own cheese. 

Donal Mahoney



Old-Timer’s Disease

Under his pillow he keeps
a pistol not to shoot the man
coming through the window
with a bazooka at midnight
and waking the wife who later  
asks him why he shot the burglar 
instead of asking him what he wanted. 
It might have been something she 
planned to give to Goodwill anyway.
He keeps the pistol under his pillow

to take into dreams that wake him
every night in Cinemascope 
where he again is the lead actor 
in films 5years ago surrounded by 
lesser men in supporting roles
who drove him nuts when he was
young and handsome and now 
they’re back again because they heard 
he has Old-Timers Disease 
and they want to badger him 

about their wives who chased him 
all over Hollywood on Oscar Night.
They’re mopes, he tells his wife,
who never had a lead role, mopes
who would have been shot on set
if he hadn’t feared execution 
but now in his dreams every night 
these mopes had better duck. 
The worst sentence he can get is 
dreams for life without parole.

Donal Mahoney