Saturday, June 25, 2016

Black Butterfly

There never was 
anyone like Ali
between the ropes
or facing the public.

In the ring and out 
we saw a man 
float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee.

He was to boxing
what Astaire 
was to dancing,
what Sinatra was 
to singing.
A nonpareil.

But no one stopped
Fred from dancing
or Frank from singing
because of a war 
Ali and many  
never understood.


Donal Mahoney

A Place to Put Stuff

Last night my recliner broke.
I used the lever to lean back 
and I went way back, almost
heels over head. A shock.

I hate going to the recliner store 
when the chair I bought there  
five or six years ago breaks.
They always do, dramatically, 
almost on schedule.

I hate going around the store,
sitting up and down until the 
right throne fits my keister.
It’s not the money involved
although they aren’t cheap. 
I just hate the process.

But the homeless man on the ramp
I gave two bucks to this morning
he doesn’t have a place to put 
a recliner even if I bought him one.
It wouldn’t fit in his plastic bags
and would be too heavy to drag 
to his overnight shelter.

In five or six years when my 
new recliner breaks I’ll try to 
remember him and realize 
I have a place to put stuff
and he doesn’t and isn’t that
one of the differences between
the homeless man and me 
and Hillary and The Donald.


Donal Mahoney


A Hollow Tale

A mountain man is Fillmore
but there are no mountains 
where Fillmore lives 
deep in a hollow.

He's never had a job
and doesn’t want one now
spends his days huntin’ coon
squirrel and possum
and that catamount
lore says is black.

At night he reads by 
lantern light with pit bull 
Satan poised at his feet.
Folks in town know Fillmore 
doesn't feature people
so no one comes callin’.

He feeds Satan 
but not too much.
He wants Satan hungry 
when the thief of night 
comes through the window 
the way that stranger did
a few years back and Satan 
had a midnight snack. 
Since then Satan wait
poised at Fillmore’s feet
primed for another snack.


Donal Mahoney


Our Mistakes Are Us

Old Sam on his deathbed says 
he’d rewrite his life if he could. 
He’d do so many things differently,
be nice to all his wives if he could
but luckily they had died before him.
 
When he was in grammar school 
he admired the president in office.
When asked if he would change 
anything in his life, Truman
rasped, “Not a damn thing!

Old Sam has pondered this for 
many years and thinks his life 
has been misspent writing poems
that are little more than broken lines,
unruly couplets and forced rhymes. 

Our mistakes are us, Old Sam says. 
Truman should have done something
different to end the war than ordering
commanders to drop atomic bombs.
Murdering innocents is not the answer.


Donal Mahoney


Earthquake in the Yard

He’s a vet from Vietnam
who won’t say much about
what happened over there
except to say his problem
began with Agent Orange,

the breathing problem he has
cutting grass, raking leaves 
and shoveling snow, 
the only work anyone 
will hire him to do.

The money helps him live 
on what the government 
gives him but that’s not much 
because it’s obvious
the man's not living well.

Watching him mow grass
from an upstairs window 
on a sultry day and have
him stop and cough so
many times, you want to 
pay him not to mow but 
know that won't work.
The man can’t breathe
but he still has pride.

So you pay him well,
force him to take a tip
and wonder if some day
he’ll fall on his mower 
or maybe on the grass
and won’t get up at all,
the earthquake coughing
being what it is, 
ripping him apart.


Donal Mahoney