Thursday, December 10, 2015

By Mistake He Later Said

Every once in awhile
over the last 40 years
Ralph wondered what might

have happened to the guy
who had moved in with the mother 
of his children and drank all the time.

He remembered the kids saying
when they were small 
the fellow got up one night  

to go to the bathroom
and got lost in the hallway 
went back to the wrong room

and got in the wrong bed 
with Ralph's daughter,
by mistake he later said.

Forty years later 
in a technicolor nightmare
Ralph saw the guy’s name 

blink on a neon billboard
and Ralph Googled him to find
the fellow had won the lottery

and moved to Arizona,
got cancer and died.
None of the children, 

adults with families
of their own now, knew 
what had happened to him

except for the daughter who 
wakes up and Googles him
in the still of the night.

Donal Mahoney


All the Nudes Not Fit to Print

No more nudes in Playboy
according to the anchor 
on the Nightly News.

Playboy has declared
nudes passĂ© because 
they’re found so easily

gamboling on the Internet 
doing everything imaginable.
Some men date instead.

Donal Mahoney

Life in a Barrel

When we were kids
growing up in the city
we had prairies 
and a little hill
and we’d put Stevie
in a barrel and push him
down the hill. 

He’d laugh and scream
all the way down.
He loved the whole trip
and wanted to do it again.
As little boys we were 
happy to oblige him.

Everyone grew up 
and went off to college,
moved to the suburbs,
found wives and had kids
but not Stevie who stutters 
except when he sings.

Every midnight now 
he gets on the subway 
with his empty thermos
and barrels back home.
On Sundays they say
he sounds like Pavarotti
in the church choir.

Donal Mahoney

Flotsam and Jetsam


They're usually poor people,
sometimes considered
the flotsam of society,
always in the way
at the grocery store,
at the post office.
They can’t find their money,
if they have any.
They’re never in a hurry.
They have nowhere to go

and you’re always in line 
behind them, a busy man 
with people to see,
appointments to keep,
deadlines to meet.
You try to be patient.
You know flotsam loiters
until life takes it away.

Later in retirement 
you stand on a street corner
leaning on your cane 
waiting for the light to change 
but for you it never does.
You now have something 
in common with flotsam. 

In a year, maybe less,
you will be jetsam as
birds soar over your plot
four seasons of the year.
You won’t be aware
that on street corners
all over the world 
the lights won’t change for
other folks still in a hurry, 
those who don’t realize yet 
flotsam and jetsam 
at some point in time
have something in common.
They have nowhere to go.


Donal Mahoney


An Urban Tale: First Job Interview

Let’s check the terminal and see 
what jobs might be available 
to match your skill set,
the interviewer said. 
The young man
sitting next to the desk
was wearing a plaid shirt 
and his first tie. 

I know you'll take any job 
but let’s see what we can find.
A young man like you, Deon,
just starting out, has his 
entire life ahead of him.

Here’s the personal stuff
you gave me so let’s go over it
and you tell me if I have 
everything right.

Your father left your mother
when you were two and then 
your mother died when 
you were four and your granny 
took you and your brothers in.
But she died in an auto accident 
when you were ten.

An uncle took you after that
and he had trouble finding work.
Food was scarce and you
kept moving place to place.
He tried hard, you said.

An aunt in another city
took your little sister and 
she sounds fine on the phone
when you get a chance to talk.
Your brothers went to foster homes
and you see them now and then.
Things aren't going too well for them.

You graduated from grammar school,
then dropped out of high school 
and went back to get your GED. 
You’re 18 now and have never
worked anywhere before.
You have no car, no driver’s license,
and no record with the police. 

You live deep in the city but 
are willing to work in the suburbs.
Transportation’s not a problem
because your church has 
bus passes for anyone who 
needs them to get to work.
Let’s hope that’s you, Deon.

Bus passes are important because
most jobs you qualify for are 
out in the suburbs, a long trip, 
but our city buses do go there.
From your address I’d say
it will take an hour or more
each way, maybe a little longer
in winter weather with 
the snow plows and all.

Now here's a restaurant chain
with seven outlets in the suburbs
looking for young workers
with a GED and no experience
to wash dishes and bus tables. 

It’s minimum wage but no benefits 
and you'd start on the third shift, 
apply for the second shift when 
an opening occurs, and then apply 
for the first shift after you’ve 
been there at least a year.

Then you'd wait for an opening
on the salad bar and after a year
with the veggies you’d want to 
look for an opening on the grill 
but that’s third shift again.

I’d be happy to set up an interview
but that’s all I have at the moment.
You want me to call now, Deon?
Or do you want to sleep on it.
This is America. It’s your choice.

Donal Mahoney