Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Armadillo Home 
         Rush Hour, Chicago
Early evening traffic's
rather heavy.
Autos armadillo home
along the Outer Drive
as out of mouths of buildings 
people enter mouths
of anything that moves
wherever every evening
they are going. Tonight
they interrupt the passion
of another person’s day,
the crone astride the hydrant
who once again this evening
bows and swoops and curses
as she burlaps broken glass
gives the finger to nice people
propped in autos staring
as she lets the traffic pass.

Donal Mahoney

America Wants to Know

What will she do with him?
That is, if she’s elected.
She’ll have to take him 

with her to the White House
after keeping him in the doghouse.
Maybe the FBI can put

the doghouse out on the lawn.
He shouldn’t be a problem there.
Only men jump over the fence.

Donal Mahoney

All I Did Was Admire Her Aloud
“Quiet, please,” I tell her,
“I want to hear the music.”
She is sitting next to me again,
this time on a paisley couch,
a woman in a lime bikini I met
only this morning sprawled
on the Morse Avenue Beach.
All I did was admire her aloud,
not recognize her age, and an hour later
she brought me home with her.
Now she is curling into me again
and moaning at a remarkable pitch.
Finally she spits into my neck
what it’s all about
this time and every time
“Honey…I am…coming."

Donal Mahoney

Sally in the Alley and Joanie in the Weeds

Sarah makes sandwiches all day, 
piling meat and trimmings high
on pillowy bread she spreads  

apart before her customers' eyes.
Hardworking men love her sandwiches  
and sometimes date her after work 

but none so far has mentioned marriage.
This confuses Sarah who’s as open
as her bread in satisfying men. 

That’s not too wise, says Ethel, 
a granny clone Sarah chats with
after lunch-hour rush.

Ethel says when she was Sarah's age
women demanded a wedding first, 
except for two legends she remembers:

Sally in the Alley and Joanie in the Weeds 
were consumed by many men, Ethel says,
then tossed aside like sandwich wrappers.

Donal Mahoney

Beats Obamacare, He Swears 

When Homer stubs his toe
or bumps his elbow, the pain
is always piercing but 

Homer’s a pious man so
swearing isn’t for him.
Instead he screams
"Debbie Wasserman Schultz!" 
but that brings no relief.
In fact, the pain gets worse so 

he screams "Nancy Pelosi!"
but that’s no help either.
So Homer drops all piety

and releases a loud curse
that makes the pain disappear.
Beats Obamacare, he swears.

Donal Mahoney

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


                                                                        For Matthew

                                    I have the Saturday night set
                                    for breakfast on Friday in my silent way.
                                    Someone knows how to cook the basics
                                    and I almost taste the color—
                                    kind of cool and born of blue.
                                    It’s as filling as an Egyptian queen
                                    who’s done waiting for her prince to come—
                                    spiced like young girls from the mountains,
                                    sketched by a Spaniard. So I try
                                    the Friday set around midnight—
                                    full of Bud’s bells and Porgy’s Bess
                                    but light and hollow as a horn.
                                    All that’s left is that very rich, cool,
                                    very peaceful cup of bitches brew.
                                    I’ll tell you what it is later. Shhh.

Mark J. Mitchell

                                    MORPHY’S WATCH
                        For Morphy a game of chess is a sacred duty.
                                                            —Adolf Anderson

                        He was left untouched by a useless hand
                        like some forward pawn on an unmarked board.
                        The room remains empty, dust drifts like sand.
                        When did he enter this game? No one asked
                        him to play. He adjusts a shadeless bulb.
                        Things stay dark. He can see how this began—
                        He enters this room. He thinks it’s the last
                        door he’ll open. He thinks there’s reward
                        just beyond it. He wants this game annulled.

Mark J. Mitchell

                                                MACHO MAN

                        The man who was Thursday stopped by last Tuesday
                        to perform his ugly, simple office.
                        Each hole was perfect—the weight of his fist
                        enough to pierce a wall, the earth. He preyed
                        on solidity. He tracked down unmarked
                        surfaces. Any enemy would know
                        where he walked at all times. He broke windows
                        just to step on glass. He liked the stray barks
                        of half-wild dogs. Less a man, more a force—
                        a personal storm followed him around—
                        it was his mobile home, it warmed him
                        when the sun was too bright. You liked the course
                        of his duties to bring him by. The sound
                        of his day was crisp. You’re glad to see him.

Mark J. Mitchell

                                                EDITING ANGELS

                                                Their tears
                                                punch holes in pages
                                                of various Holy Writ.

                                                Knife-sharp feathers
                                                cut off chapters—they fly
                                                away like dandelions.

                                                There is no intent here—
                                                They don’t mean to confuse.
                                                It’s their job.

Mark J. Mitchell

                                                WHARF HAIKU

                                    On a white hydrant
                                                gumdrops in rainbow order
                                    lighting up gray fog.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Special of the Day

It’s Rocky’s Diner
but it’s Brenda’s counter,
been that way for 10 years.
Brenda has her regulars
who want the Special of the Day.
They know the week is over 

when it’s perch on Friday.
Her drifters don’t care about 
the Special of the Day. 
They want Brenda instead
but she’s made it clear 
she’s not available.

Her regular customers tip well.
Long ago, they gave up
trying to see her after work.
After awhile her drifters go  
to the diner down the street 
to see if the waitress there

is any more hospitable. 
Brenda’s regulars don’t know
she has three kids her mother
watched every day until Brenda 
took a vacation out of town,
then came back and helped her 

mother find a place of her own. 
Now Brenda’s back at the diner,
serving her regulars and 
discouraging her drifters,
while Marsha, her bride,
watches the kids.

Donal Mahoney

Tenement Scene, Havana, 1962

Woman in a window
brushing long hair madly
screams at a little boy

down in the street
licking an ice cream cone
some man gave him

some man she doesn’t know
not the man she’s 
brushing her hair for

who doesn't show up.
The man with the ice cream
may have to do.

Donal Mahoney

Waiting Room

First time seeing this doctor,
a specialist. Took a month
to get an appointment.
The waiting room’s packed.
I grab the last seat 
next to a lady in a wheelchair
knitting something,
perhaps for a grandchild. 

I pull out my cell phone 
like everyone else
but just to check messages,
not into games.  
No one’s looking at magazines,
it seems, any more.
It’s a cell phone world,
messages and Tic-Tac-Toe.

Half an hour later the lady 
stops knitting and whispers
“Sit back and relax, son. 
Life’s a waiting room.
We all have appointments.
Every name is called.
Even those who believe
no doctor is in."

Donal Mahoney

A Symphony Lost

Harvey at 80
is losing his hearing.
He can’t hear his wife

when she talks,
a symphony lost.
But at dusk

in the garden
alone in a lawn chair
with a glass of iced tea

cubes circling
Harvey can hear 
the whippoorwill ask

and the cricket reply
and that’s all the truth
that he needs.

Donal Mahoney

Ambrose and the Blind Man

Decades ago a small college
out in the boondocks
put Ambrose, a freshman, 
on a Greyhound Bus to attend
a student convention in New York. 
No other student wanted to go.
The college had to send someone.

On the bus Ambrose sat next 
to a blind man who spent most 
of the trip telling Ambrose, 
a farm boy, all about women.
Ambrose listened with awe.
Everything he heard was new.

Ambrose knew little about girls
but had always liked them.
For his high school prom, 
a friend set him up with 
quiet girl who needed a date.
Ambrose liked Shirley.

Back then, TV sets were small
with the picture in black and white. 
“I Love Lucy” topped the charts.
It was Ambrose’s favorite show.

Back then, girls saved themselves 
for marriage so most of what 
the blind man told Ambrose 
was breaking news to him.
So many girls, what to do?
He didn’t have money to date.

Ambrose is now a retired farmer,
the father of nine, who often reflects
on the blind man’s advice when he 
sits in his rocker and wonders
after 50 years with Shirley if
the blind man was right to say:

“Son, it doesn’t matter how pretty 
a woman is because every woman 
has the basics any man needs.
Sample a few and find out.
Besides, you can trust me 
when I tell you they all look 
the same in the dark.”

Donal Mahoney

Man with the Can

Every morning 
before the sun comes up
there’s a feral cat on our deck 
waiting for a can of Fancy Feast.
It’s been that way for years.

It’s not always the same cat
because feral cats come and go
but barring a downpour of rain
or an overnight pile of snow
there’s always a cat 
outside our door, looking 
through the screen
waiting for service, 
sometimes licking its lips. 

The same cat can appear
at the door for weeks,
months, even years.
They’re close friends
with my wife but not with me.
We aren’t enemies but 
the cats favor my wife.
I understand why.

The cats find our house, I think,
not because the cat underground 
says the food’s good but  
somehow the cats know 
my wife was a farm girl 
that barn cats loved before 
she went off to college and 
took a job in the city.

I think they begin to believe 
my wife is one of them 
because almost every summer
she comes out in the afternoon
and sits on the deck and 
the morning cat comes back 
over the fence and hops up 
on her lap for a serious petting.

Over the years the cats and I 
have been acquaintances at best.
They know I’m the one who puts  
the can out before dawn
while my wife sleeps in. 
But not one of them has ever 
cozied up to me, the caterer, 
or why not call it as it is, 

the man with the can.
I have no problem with that
even if the best greeting
I can expect is caterwauling 
on the rare morning I’m slow 
popping the lid.

Donal Mahoney

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