Monday, November 9, 2015

Midnight Anthem for a Chicago Alley

The lack of visitors is uterine
and that is why you porcupine
in this dark corner. Here
 
who can see the cobra
slither from your lips, spray
the phrases of your mind,
 
slip back to its moist nest.
Here, who can hear the jeer
of cheetah eyes. “Come,”
 
they cry, “pour on the light.
Your heart I’ll lacerate
with razor fright.” 
 
Donal Mahoney


Liechtenstein Noticed

Take heed, Moscow.
Keep an eye on your sky

and while you are waiting,
give back Crimea and

pull out of the Ukraine.
Last night in Chicago

the Cubs beat the Cardinals
to move on in the playoffs.

Liechtenstein noticed.
It is sending its planes.

Donal Mahoney


Man at the Bus Stop on Halloween
 

The others, of course, 
are more rabid than he
but less apt to show it. 
Whenever he strikes, 
he never romps off. 
He stands with the wrist 
that he's snatched
from the lady 
tight in his teeth
as he waits with a smile 
for the wagon.
He's one of the few 
wrist-snatchers still 
on the streets of Chicago,
and he makes his rounds 
in old tennies.
His technique is simple:
He dives for the purse hand, 
gives it a whack, and severs 
the wrist without slobber,   
then stands like a Vatican Guard
with the wrist in his teeth 
until he is certain 
he has no pursuers. 
At night in his dreams he sees 
the women whose wrists 
he has held in his teeth. 
They stand at the bus stop 
like Statues of Liberty,
shrieking and waving 
their stumps like flares. 
He prays their screams 
will bring to a frieze 
the patrol cars glowing
in the middle of the street. 

 
Donal Mahoney


Character Flaw

Millie wants Willie to make up,
go back to the way they were,
be lovey-dovey, hunky-dory.
Willie wishes he could 

but that’s not the way he is.
He has a character flaw,
permanent as a birthmark
his mother told him 

when he was only six.
Some folks can forgive 
and then forget but that’s 
not you Willie, she said.

When he heard about 
the crucifixions in Syria,
he said that's genocide, 
plain and simple. 

Willie’s can't forget 
a wrong, big or small.
It’s hard to forgive, he says,
never mind forget ISIS.

You’re not ISIS, Willie,
his Millie reassures him.
You just have a conscience.
No nails, no hammer.

Donal Mahoney


Pants on Fire

Rhoda, I can’t say why Amanda 
was picked and not Tiffany  
for anchor of our Nightly News.
I interviewed both 
because Mr. Smith wanted 
a woman’s opinion.
I honestly don’t know.

made a recommendation
and sent it to Mr. Jones
who sent it to Mr. Smith
who made the final decision.
I found little difference 
between the two.

A day later Mr. Smith sent Mr. Jones
a formal email with a copy to me
saying Amanda would be the anchor 
and Tiffany would return 
to morning news.
I’m glad it was not my decision.
I could have picked either.

Earlier in our careers, Rhoda,
you and I both did on-air TV and radio. 
Now you write a media column
and I direct this program.
As women, we know
the demands of television 
differ from those 
of radio and print.

But I can assure you, 
one woman to another, 
despite what readers and viewers 
may think, Amanda’s cup size 
was never a factor.
Mr. Smith says if you put that 
in your column, you better 
believe we’ll sue.

Donal Mahoney