Thursday, November 12, 2015

Big Difference

Behind every great man 
is a woman 
making him who he is.

Behind every great woman 
is a man
watching her walk.

Donal Mahoney

Gender Inequality

The uncommon
is common
in America today.

Not that there’s anything 
wrong with that, Seinfeld 
might have said to George

had they seen the latest 
Glamour Magazine 
naming Caitlyn Jenner

Woman of the Year.
The public seems to agree.
No placards hit the air.

but Caitlyn has to stand 
and spray what other 
women sit to tinkle.

Donal Mahoney

Two in the Soup

We’re twins.
We’ve been together
from the start.
You’re the doctor.
You know that.

She didn’t sound happy
when you told her
there were two. 
We’re worried
she doesn’t want us.

See you next week
when she comes back 
with her decision.
We’ll float till then.
Nothing else to do.

Donal Mahoney

Ms. Editor Savaged by Mr. Author

It is a different society now. 
Less respect for people at either end 
and folks in the middle as well.

People no longer are treated like linen.
Too often like Kleenex used and tossed.
Since it’s a man who’s sending those emails,

don't bother taking any offense.
We men are often not too nice to women 
standing up although we can be sweet 

as honey when wanting them supine. 
You have a fine magazine but need  
thicker armor over your sensibilities. 

In my world, you’re young and while
I’d never applaud the benefits of age, 
it has at least one that’s valuable.

When you’re near the top of the hill 
it's easier to laugh at the louts below
whizzing darts past your keister.

Donal Mahoney

Monitor Lizard, Chomping

Willard goes to the well 
for a drink of water
on a furnace hot day
but there’s no water
only a beggar sitting 

yogi-style at the bottom
with a tin cup in one hand, 
a bouquet of pencils 
in the other, but alas
no one is buying.

He yells up to Willard:
“Go get a ladder.
I have to come up 
before the election
so I can register.

A tycoon put him in the well
after a primary rally where
the beggar had shouted,
“Trickle-down economics
is never the answer.”

The crowd cheered  
when the beggar added,
"Trickle down is nothing more 
than the droppings of 
monitor lizard, chomping.

Donal Mahoney

Morning Coffee Can Be So Important

A tragedy happened to Willie
and Millie after years of marriage.
All their kids were doing well 
and had nice families of their own

but tragedy struck one dawn before 
Willie had had his morning coffee.
Millie was on her third cup and Willie 
said Millie looked at him the wrong way

and Willie asked, “What’s that look
all about, Millie, what did I do now?"
Millie had no idea what Willie
was talking about since she 

hadn’t looked at him in any way
different than she usually did.
Maybe she was stifling a sneeze.
It didn’t help when Millie advised 

Willie to drink plenty of coffee
and they would talk it over then. 
Willie said he had had enough
and he was leaving forever. 

He packed his old satchel
and moved to a geriatric hotel 
and sent Millie a letter telling her
to file for divorce or he would file

to make certain she would never 
look at him the same way again. 
He said he had done nothing 
to warrant so viperous a look  

and their marriage was kaput.
Millie wouldn't file for divorce
but Willie filed and they split. 
Now Millie lives in the big house

and Willie in the old hotel where 
he’s delighted to know that Millie 
will never get another chance to
sink her fangs like a viper again. 

Donal Mahoney 


hair has
grown in
strange places,
strange new
ways, and he's
not a werewolf,
because that's
a made-up story,
but a real
monster just
the same


I held
inside me all
those emotions,
until they came
spilling, then
flushed and rushed
for a mop
to clean up
my own mess


I'm the rotten
tooth in the back
of your mouth
that you know
that you know has
a cavity, a little
aching pain, chipped
spot that has grown
over time, and you're
damn I need to pull
that out


call me Hermes,
put a little cloth
on my sensitive
places, let me 
run for you,
but just know
I'll drop all your
stuff, mix your
messages, and
do it on purpose
Robert League

Monday, November 9, 2015


There has to be
an order, she tells
me in the pastel
room of her death,
the heat filling up
our small place,
There has to be
a purpose, she 
mutters on her
breath and I count
them, try to hold
on to them, bottle
them, as they 
seep out one by
one by one.


I have created
a palace in my
mind to go back
to, where life
was simple, a rainy
autumn day
on which I had no
worries for all this,
where no one
spoke ill of me,
spread rumors,
tried to tie me
to the rules,
where I could
play and run like
a child
because I was
a child.


I found a shard
of you and realized
it had slipped
out, so I jammed
it back in, twisted it
to feel you again,
then looked at
your picture while
I felt this pain.

Robert League
Far Away Sounds

From the heavens
Teardrops fall
One at a time
Many straight lines
Single file
Across piano keys
Light year’s melody
From the past
Before there was time

Publish Her

Her form
In press hinted
Elegantly printed

I See Your Vein (Part One)

I see your vein marked and stabbed
A sword of pain you are trapped
In the castle I see the night
A darken shadow a stream of light
I see your vein and feel the blue
The lion statues they seem to move
Out by the gate near the arch
I see your silhouette in the marsh
You’re alone with the moon
I see the holes within a room
I see the vein the one that bleeds
Break the drawbridge out by the trees
The stone carvings they seem to talk
I see the armies when you walk
I see your vein and feel the blue

The Break

The sun handled broom
Sweep away the gray
Clouds with rays
Blue depth skies
Shooting the horizon
With trees showered
The wind satisfied
Swallowed by a hand

The Falsehood Of Distance

The spots of stars
The black of night
Looking so far away
A colorful world
Seems black and white


The endless ocean in the heart, it waved so calm
Icebergs near the edges, and frozen at the poles
Although deep down inside, hidden below the crust
It burns more intense there, then amber red-hot coals

The lake in the heart it shined, many times before
Feeling like a stranger, in the depths of the soul
Most of the time, staying near next to the surface
The light it felt so warm, like it would mend the holes

The river in the heart, it flowed across rapids
Upstream against the current, love is hard to hold
The past is lost, not altogether forgotten
Now to journey downstream, the shores are lined with gold

Denny E. Marshall 
How They Do It in Syria Today

First, we place the neck on the block
and put the basket underneath
the head and then make sure the blade 
is sharp enough before we ask the person 
one more time just to be polite:
Are you sure you’re not one of us?

And if the answer’s no, we
pick up our bullhorn and announce
loud enough for the others 
waiting in their orange to hear:
"Going once, going twice."
Then we pull the rope and

the blade drops and that one’s done.
Then we uncage the next one and tell him 
to put the head on a pole and bag the rest
before we position him on the same block 
and politely ask him the same question:
Are you sure you’re not one of us?

Donal Mahoney

Multi-Tasking Drug
In California the governor 
has signed a law permitting
doctors to use a drug
ending the life of the 
terminally ill so they can 
die and not suffer.

In Oklahoma the governor
has halted all executions 
until a drug can be found 
that will kill the condemned
without causing them pain.
Some think a phone call to

the governor of California
from the governor of Oklahoma   
asking for the name of  
the drug that ends life for
the terminally ill is in order.
Others prefer lynching.

Donal Mahoney

Stranger Comes to Town

Beautiful fall day
in a potter’s field 
outside a small town.
A funeral is underway
but that doesn’t stop 
the leaves russet and gold 
a few still green 
falling among the stones
without a name.

The minister reads a verse 
over the grave of a man 
found by deer hunters.
No idea who he is or
where he came from,
a body dumped.

Four people from 
the clapboard church
with the wayward steeple
over the hill gather 'round 
heads bowed, hands clasped.

An old worker with a shovel
stands like a soldier 
near the shed and
waits for everyone to leave
so he can finish up.
It’s almost lunch time.

One by one cars pull away
and now it’s just us, the dirt 
and a gold leaf falling on me.

Donal Mahoney

A Certain Look

Some things you can’t undo.
A remark, perhaps, you can retract
or try to with an explanation. 

But a certain look can
burn forever in the mind
of its observer, a missile you

never knew you launched.
Maya Angelou was right.
Some folks can’t recall

years later what you said
but they remember instantly
how you made them feel.

Donal Mahoney

Remainder Bin

We write the stories 
of our lives between 

the bookends 
of birth and death

They stay on the shelf 
as long as we live

and then go in 
the remainder bin 

after we die.
No one buys them

and the paper’s recycled 
to print the stories 

of millions of people
yet to be born 

except for the stories 
that are never told.

They are the stories
Planned Parenthood sells.

Donal Mahoney

Martha and Mel Wait for the Elevator

I died from a rattlesnake bite
and found myself in line with
other zombies in front of a bank 
of elevators, the doors opening 
and closing as if by metronome.

Every time a door opened a voice
called the names of 12 zombies
who boarded the elevator single file.
As the doors closed, Led Zeppelin 
or Bing Crosby played in the background
depending on whether the elevator went 
up or down according to the light 
winking above the door

The rest of us waited our turn
as more zombies arrived 
and lined up behind us.
I saw no one I knew except 
a couple who looked like 
Martha Stewart and Mel Brooks 
discussing the future.
Mel was on stilts so he looked 
Martha straight in the eye.

When the rattlesnake bit me,
Martha and Mel were alive on Earth
so I had no idea why they were there 
with us zombies but nevertheless 
I listened as Martha told Mel
she didn’t care which way 
the elevator went as long as 
she found prime rib and a glass 
of Dom Pérignon waiting
when she arrived.

Mel didn’t care either, he said,
as long as he found a steamed
Nathan’s Hot Dog with two squirts 
of mustard, lots of relish, 
raw onion and sport peppers 
hotter than hell and a 
tankard of seltzer iced.
Seltzer is better, he said,
than Dom Pérignon.
Ask any sommelier.

Another elevator arrived and Martha 
and Mel, arm and arm, boarded.
This time I didn’t hear Led Zeppelin 
or Bing Crosby in the background. 
I saw Martha stare Mel in the eye,
wag her finger and tell him to try
prime rib because too much 
cholesterol lurks in hot dogs.
Enough to kill you, she said.

Donal Mahoney

I flew from New York
to Florida
in the 1950’s
and most of the country
was green.
I flew from New York
to Florida
in 2014
and most of the country
was concrete.

Soft Moment
In the city of chance
the cry of a child
is unheard
in the roar of traffic,
the shrill of sirens,
the grate of angry voices,
until kindness demands a lull
in the constant commotion
and a gentler sound
pauses unhappiness.

The women of the West
walk the streets
in Europe, America,
proud of their bodies,
walk the streets
with bare thighs,
midriffs, shoulders,
display themselves
for all who look,
exercising freedom,
social equality,

The men of the East
disguise temptation
by covering their women
in concealing garments,
the slightest hint
of forbidden flesh
a religious affront,
a punishable offense
that firmly asserts
male superiority.

When East meets West
there is no accord
for they cover their women,
while we let ours go bare.
Since we do not desire
their hidden treasures
and they lust
for our abundance,
there is no way
to share and share alike.

Purpose was once
condition normal
in paleolithic times
for hunter/gatherers.

Idlers didn’t sit around
the comfortable cave
getting high,
babbling about art,
questioning religion,
or they’d starve.

As evolution
brought prosperity
we invented leisure,
artificial diversions
to consume time
that was no longer needed
for daily work.

Gary Beck


Teeth can be terrible things; ungrateful, painful things.
We shelter and house them, clean and polish them,
Doctor them through X-rays, poking, and prodding.
We fill and forgive them so often we lose count and
Then we whisper soothing words around them,
Treat them to our best moments, food and drink
Enough to chew and bathe in -- hot, cold, tender to
Tough, we help them along, bite-size, careful sips,
We cut and pour with only them in mind; we click
And chatter them in the cold, grind and growl them
To fit our mood, and so often we bite off more than
They can chew, literally and figuratively, gnaw on that
Why don’t we, why don’t they. It should be so simple,
A lifetime relationship, give and take, a peaceful co-
Existence, but things breakdown, treaties are broken,
And then one day I find myself in a chair, tilted back
Almost relaxing, while that pesky upper molar, left side
Is yanked out, grabbed, pulled on, then there’s a terrible
Cracking noise, it breaks into pieces, can’t get along even
Now in its last moments, refuses my last request of it,
But force, persistence, a couple of stitches, a bit gauze,
A little blood and a few painkillers send it on its way;
Teeth are terrible things, ungrateful, painful things.

How Reality Really Works

We conspire with some,
Placate others,
Pull a few fast ones
To get by.
We browse and select,
Undermine sometimes,
Triumph if we must.
We find out, sort out,
freak out, and finagle.
We shred documents,
Buckle up, batten down,
We keep safely neutral
On most things.
We pace ourselves,
Disgrace ourselves,
Then we distance ourselves
From any results.
We mess around, clown,
Muck up, fuck up,
cheer up, and cry.
We ask too many questions
Then distrust the answers.
We make time and room.
We charm, and we harm.
We know better -- but still,
But still we will without
Shame  act just the same.

 Parking Garage
They stack us now
Row and ramp
Seven levels high
They sort us, draw
Lines, create groups
In our midst
Reserve spaces for
Handicaps and
The employee of
The month gets
One, of course
Then service vehicles,
Vans and bikes
And pickups aplenty
Easy solutions and
Easy access, every-
One in their place
Easy categories for
The passive and
The privileged
They stack us now
Seven levels high
Reaching into the sky
Reaching for heaven
Through clouds of
Concrete we contrive
We battle with the gods
Of energy and efficiency,
Our gods of time and space.
J.K. Durick
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

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