Monday, August 1, 2016

A Traveling Salesman

This traveling salesman 
has worn out six vans 
in 40 years and he
hopes to retire soon.

Age and illness 
are growing concerns
and there isn’t a pill   
for everything.

Every 20 miles or so
he has to stop for  
a rest room, usually 
at a gas station.

Then one day he sees 
a highway billboard 
that promises help.
He dials the 800 number 

on his cell phone
and a machine answers:
“Incontinence Hotline.
Can you hold?”


Donal Mahoney


A Nuclear Childhood

What if your parents 
had never met
had never married 

had never yelled 
at each other 
and instead had wed

someone they loved
and lived peacefully 
all those years.

That would have been 
their Eden but you 
shaking there now

decades later 
wouldn’t be with us  
cursing the tremors  

of a nuclear childhood 
you still remember
long after they’re dead.


Donal Mahoney


Answer Me This, America

Took the wife 
to a pancake house
the other day. 
National franchise
good food 
fine reputation.

Skipped the pancakes
had bacon, eggs,
hash browns, toast
and coffee.
Wife went fancy,
had an omelette.

Grabbed the check
because the busboy 
started clearing 
the table early.
A young dervish
new to the job
swirling his cloth
for minimum wage.

Bothered me 
to realize he'd work
three hours and a skosh
to pay for the same 
breakfast, more
if he left a tip.

Reminded me 
something’s wrong
with our great nation,
how we do business.
Have both ears open.
Hoping for an answer.


Donal Mahoney


Bison and Quail

I never think about bison.
After all, I live in St. Louis,
why should I?

But when I went hunting
for quail in Montana
I tripped and

broke my leg, flopped
on the tundra all night.
Come morning 

I saw bison romping
toward me, hundreds of them
coming in thunder.

I heard them snorting.
Honestly, I’m not lying.
I thought about bison then.

I never think about ISIS, either.
I live in St. Louis, after all,
why should I?


Donal Mahoney


Hot Spots in the City

I turn on the news to see 
who won the game last night
but first the scores from 
hot spots in the city.

Two people are killed 
and a house is set on fire. 
An infant burns to death.

Two men hijack a car 
and a mother is killed. 
Her baby is tossed 
from the car and
found a block away 
alive in a car seat.

The mayor says 
we need more cops.
Money’s the problem.

The police chief says  
he’s sending more cops 
to hot spots in the city.

The anchor says at noon 
a demonstration at City Hall 
for Black Lives Matter.

He doesn’t mention 
any demonstrations at 
hot spots in the city.


Donal Mahoney


A Stationary Bicycle

The doctor tells Phil and his wife
he’s in pretty good health for a man
his age but he needs to exercise.

And Phil says he agrees 
and then goes on to explain
his faith in recliner therapy.

He sits in a recliner for hours,
watches TV or reads the paper
and wiggles his toes 

at least three times a day.
The doctor asks if his wife if
they’d try a stationary bicycle.

She says she thinks there's 
one somewhere in the basement.
Phil says his wife’s right as usual.

He saw it one night during a storm
when he went down to change a fuse.
Said he almost had a heart attack.


Donal Mahoney