Friday, May 29, 2015

The Parish Carnival

That's Bernie's wife on the carousel
laughing and waving her arms.
Once again she won't get off 
even though Bernie is yelling
next to the concession stand
jumping around in his wheel chair.
He's finished his cotton candy
and wants to go home. 
He probably has to pee.
He never goes anywhere 
except to the parish carnival. 
He loves the cotton candy.
He says it's the same as when 
he was a kid years ago 
before he fell out of the tree
He needs Stella more than ever now
to push his wheel chair and she does
except when she comes to the carnival 
and gives old Bernie a big plume 
of cotton candy and hops on the carousel
laughing and waving her arms 
once a summer every year.

Donal Mahoney

The Only Place to Go in Tipperary 

Father Kelly has always claimed
the only place to go in Tipperary
once you're dead is Eagan's Mortuary.
Father Kelly says Eagan lays a client out
as if a body were a mackerel from the sea
glistening in the bottom of a boat 
once the mad thrashing is over.
Father Kelly has always claimed 
a dead mackerel deserves a nap
before the flames of hell take over.

The late Tommy Dugan arrived at Eagan's
a day or so after he'd been shot 
and Eagan laid him out perfectly 
with both eyes open and a plastic 
booger peeking from his nose,
a cosmetic touch Tommy had requested
when he came to Eagan's the week before, 
chomping on an unlit panatela.
Tommy came that day to make 
final arrangements, as they say. 

That same day Tommy asked if he could be 
waked in Eagan's finest casket upside down, 
his pants pulled down around his knees 
and a sign across his arse saying "Kiss this!"
as a final salute to his mother-in-law.
But the law in Tipperary specifies
no sign of any kind in any casket so 
Tommy settled for the plastic booger in his nose.
He knew his mother-in-law would curse it 
at the family viewing prior to the wake.

At Eagan's you can make arrangements 
years before you die and Eagan guarantees 
he'll lay you out the way you specify 
provided everything's within the law, of course.
But Tommy Dugan's widow swears 
Eagan must have been possessed to put 
a plastic booger in a dead man's nose. 
Rosie Dugan can't believe her sober Tommy
would ever ask for anything like that.
But after Mass on Sunday friends remind her

Father Kelly has always claimed
the only place to go in Tipperary
once you're dead is Eagan's Mortuary.
Father Kelly says Eagan lays a client out
as if a body were a mackerel from the sea
glistening in the bottom of a boat 
once the mad thrashing is over.
Father Kelly has always claimed 
a dead mackerel deserves a nap
before the flames of hell take over.

Donal Mahoney

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Veterans Cemetery

Families come
on Memorial Day
depending on the weather;
otherwise the Fourth of July, 
if it’s not too hot.

You can hear them coming,
adults in the rear,
reminiscing and talking,
children who can read
announcing the names
on the stones until they 
discover the right one. 
Then they shout.

Adults bring flowers, 
placing them softly
in front of the stones 
near our heads.
Children stick little 
flags from parades
in our waistlines.

Some ladies bring towels
and wipe down the stones;
others towelettes to remove
gunk from the lettering. 

All mean well and we 
appreciate the visit and wish 
we could say something.
It’s a thrill to hear voices.
Otherwise it's lawn mowers,
leaf blowers, snow plows 
the rest of the year.

Donal Mahoney
Homemade Whipped Cream

did not get made tonight for my mini lava

cakes, paleo-diet-friendly treats for PMS,

because the holder for the nitrous oxide

bullet was missing from the box. You are

outside building a chicken coup

so that I can have hormone-free eggs

for this new menu that is annoying

everyone in a house full of carb lovers.

Things that do not go unnoticed:

how you give me everything I mention

wanting, construct from wood

first one, then another deck to make

my swimming pool something more

of an oasis, to make a home

for foul to roost and produce perfect

eggs. I am ovulating twice a month,

shedding my unfertilized yolk, bleeding

too little to ease the twisting pain.

My sons are growing like the clover

that has taken over the bed

of lilies, their orange strangling

on too little sun, too much rain.

Our gladioli rotted in the ground, never stood

a chance of reaching vertical, purple

blooms that stretched skyward last year,

a distance that seemed so short,

so perfectly possible then.

The Road to Wraparound Road

is a street cornered by twenty-something’s
caught in the crosswalk of adult and childhood,

an expectant, entitled, self-centered populous

that does not know the difference between

questions and their answers, cannot recognize

the forest for the fallen trees. Big pictures

elude them as they dance from one diagnosis

to the next. Collectively, our children are called

clients, cases, cause for complaint.

We pass the most sacred of gifts

to hands that know nothing of loss.

We Meet Again in the Middle of the Night

Two strangers who have forgotten

what skin feels like on skin in the dead

of winter, warmth to share, steal, forgotten

the way two people can fit together, fruit

can taste on hungry tongues. I have

waited the length of four loves and twice

as many bodies to find you. Here you are

mine to discover tonight, forget tomorrow.

April Salzano
SPELLCRAFT          [Stefanie Bennett]
Forget the shale and thorn-tree.
That boulder
Just lay there
Between the okra
And the eggplant
Besotted smoke-plumes
And an eruption
Around the bend like
A leap year’s
Hi-ho –, Sisyphus!
The worst
Is over –.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Young Man on a Bad Trip

The stench came first,
the young man remembers.
It was as if someone had
grabbed him by the ankles, 
turned him upside down
and dunked him in a latrine.
Not good, he says.

Then all the hissing 
and the forked tongues
only he could see, 
flickering as if vipers were 
slithering around him.
Very bad.

A nurse told him 
he was out of it for days,
yelling and cursing
jumping out of bed 
running around.
It took three orderlies
to hold him down.
All he remembers is 
the stench and hissing.

When he came out of it
he thanked a priest
his parents had called 
when doctors said they
could only sedate him

The priest came back 
the next day and asked 
if he wanted to pray.
He told the priest 
he didn't believe in God
never mind Satan. 

The young man said
the problem was a guy 
had sold him bad stuff.
Simple as that.
But if it happens again,
he hoped the priest 
would come back,
light his candles
and work his magic.
He’d appreciate the help.

Donal Mahoney 

All Aboard

Next to me on the train
going home to the suburbs
is another guy stuck in a suit 
reading his paper,
a normal-looking guy
who suddenly says
it’s terrible, what’s happening
in Syria and Iraq, 
terrorists killing people.

Then he says if he believed 
what the terrorists believe
he wouldn’t care either 
whether he died in battle.
If 77 virgins were waiting for him,
he’d be happy to die
a martyr for the cause,
but since he’s an atheist
he knows no one is waiting.  

Then he looks at me 
and asks if I'm a believer.
I’m a lot bigger than he is 
so I say I’m a Catholic,
and he says if he believed
what Catholics believe
that Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, is in a wafer
waiting in that little house 
in the middle of the altar--
he wouldn’t walk into church,
he would crawl up the aisle 
every Sunday and lie there,
face down, praying.
He asks if I get his drift, 
shaking his paper.

I say I certainly do, but 
Catholics know what they have
and don’t like making a scene.
It’s in their genes from the time
they spent in the catacombs
praying not to be killed.

He says he understands
the importance of propriety
but says if Christ is God 
and is on that altar, how can 
Catholics just sit there,
mannequins in a pew,
standing and kneeling 
once in awhile to avoid 
clots in their legs.
I agree that’s a good question.

Finally he yells,
loud enough for all to hear:
For Christ’s sake, 
the next time you go to church,
act like he’s there
and do something!
He shakes his paper again. 

The train rolls on 
and there’s a loud moment of silence.
The man has a point, I say to myself.
Finally I say I’ve enjoyed talking
and have learned a lot
but the next stop is mine.
I have to get off.

Donal Mahoney

Sunday, May 17, 2015

THE YARDS      [Stefanie Bennett]
Hubris has its own analytical
Empty hammock
That commands
A regency affair –,
Impeccable lawn
And hedge height –,
In-ground pond
And systematic lolly-water
Nightshade salad greens
And what-nots...
Sipping an imagined
Rose’, humbuggery’s
Is a cane-toad gnome
That croaks
A recreated
Folksy rumour
As poverty’s daylight
The fringes...
The soak-holes.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

In Chesterfield and Spats

The father of the girl
I stare at now,
as we wait for our morning bus,
stands across the street,
tall and proper in his 
chesterfield and spats.

He is waiting for a bus
that goes in the opposite direction.
He wears a derby,
swings a silver cane,
smokes a green panatela.
Suddenly he pirouettes

and smiles at my daughter.
She takes the same bus
to school every morning.
That night at supper,
I ask her about him.
"Dad, he's super!"

At 12, she knows.
"Dad, he rides the same bus
as me every morning.
He checks my homework
and I ask him questions.
Dad, he knows all the answers."

My Therapist’s a Lady
It’s all so simple now,
yet it took 30 years
to begin to understand.
It’s as though someone
stole the primer I had
and gave me another
in my own language.
It’s because you are
who you are
that I’ve begun
to become who I am.
That sounds too dramatic.
All you did, really, was scream
when you opened the bathroom door,
saw me wrapped in a towel,
standing at attention on a mat,
waiting in my thirtieth  year
for the steam to clear
from the cabinet mirror,
waiting for someone
to shout, “At ease.

Donal Mahoney

Saturday, May 9, 2015

T. Transtromer     [Stefanie Bennett]
He said, clinging to life,
“It is hard
To believe in
A bland phenomenon
When you’re the known
Optical source
Of the baker’s dozen,
The Magi who chants
A fond lullaby,
And an airtight
Chapter of doom...”
With that, the room
Spun its
Meteor shower.
Its welcoming mat.
Its Divine Comedy.
GONE       [Stefanie Bennett]
Seeing as how no-one’s
Tied to any
Shore anymore –,
And we’re
- Most of us,
Over the traces...
Why then is it
A Singular Repast

We are to each other now
many decades later
what we were the day 

we got married, a couple 
at the kitchen table on 
a summer night—she  

a slice of watermelon, 
corners touching the ceiling,
covering my face in juice 

and I the corn she butters 
before she devours it. 
We eat as fast as we can.

Donal Mahoney

Makes Forever Shorter

When a bullet goes in
and doesn’t come out
you read about it 
in the paper, hear 
about it on TV.

A person takes a bullet
near the heart and learns 
a surgeon can't remove it. 
It's part of him forever. 
Happens like a drive-by

shooting when a loved one 
makes a comment no
apology can remove.
The loved one doesn't
know there’s a problem, 

doesn’t realize lightning
through the cerebellum  
is by far a better option. 
Doesn't let the victim linger. 
Makes forever shorter.

Donal Mahoney

The Canyon Dwellers

There’s this canyon 
between two cliffs
and Tim Boyd has a foot
planted on each cliff.
He’s spread-eagled 
but very steady.

He's been stretched
over the canyon since 
he got back from Iraq.
After he took his position,
he thought someone 
would eventually look up.

There are others
spread over the canyon
in front of Tim. 
They’ve been there
since Viet Nam and
getting a bit wobbly.

In back of Tim
are the new arrivals
spread-eagled as well.
They’re fresh from
Afghanistan and they're
getting their feet set. 

The rest of us below
have jobs and are busy
with families and lives. 
When a canyon dweller falls 
and makes a terrible mess, 
we find the time to look up.

Donal Mahoney

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Map and key of extinction
Generates a Planet Space-Scape
For Human and Species.
What do you see? Tragedy
What? Hope
Everywhere we are flawed and horrible:
There are those who dress, refine
And defend horrors
We near greatest tragedy:
Extinction shows to us
The ancient living Planet
Underneath is revealed
Deeping continuity among species
And a necessary identity
With processes of the Earth itself.
Anything you please.

-Daniel de Cullá


Drag branches comeback
Across the forest floor:
Knowledge of the rough¡

At water’s edge
I gather some things up:
Memory of nothing.

We’ve the time to give the Babel Tower
A close reading Awful good, Thou
As Roy A. Rappaport’s
Ritual... as Communication and as State.
Our preferences might be
Toward more emphasis
On species places:
Smooth textures of dead wood
Knowledge of our hands on arms
The body-art of bullshit
Drinking cocoa
And tend to the faith
With a Vampire’s short stick
That smells of infinite urine. 
-Daniel de Cullá

Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...