Sunday, September 14, 2014

Donal Mahoney- Three Poems

Riding Schwinns in '56

You had to have a Schwinn
to lead this pack of boys
riding bikes full speed
baking under the Chicago sun
laughing after senior year
heading to the local park 
to play a game of ball 
or lob a cane pole 
in the park lagoon 
with stinkbait on the hook
to catch a bullhead, 
cousin of the catfish,
small but just as tough.

Riding Schwinns was High Mass 
in the summer after high school 
before everyone would join the Army 
or wait to be drafted.
Maybe one or two of us 
had sober fathers working
and we would go to college.
I was one of those.
Going to college was something
I was told I'd do from third grade on.
So do the homework, my father said, 
or he'd wash up and visit the nuns.

Korea ended not too long before.
Two guys ahead of us
would never ride a Schwinn again
or go to college on the GI Bill. 
One guy did come back.
For years he walked in circles
around his family's back yard
smoking real Pall Malls,
unimpaired by filters, very long. 
Butch was shell-shocked,
neighbors said.
We'd have to pray for him.
They didn't call it PTSD back then.

Ruby Throat Madness

He paints hummingbirds not 
for people to praise them,

ogle and grovel and buy them.
He paints them because 

the birds come fluttering
one after another

and won't go away unless 
he paints them, every hue.

They line up like planes
at a busy airport, hovering,

waiting their turn to be put 
on canvas, made immortal, 

one bird at a time,
framed and hung on a wall.

After hanging each painting 
he cleans his brushes and whistles

and waits for the next one to come
and hover in front of his eyes.

He prays the last one will perch 
on his brush and stay.

The Samaritan Can Handle It

Ebenezer woke to find
rats in his basement
so he called PETA
to take them away
and the lady hung up
so Ebenezer prayed 
and the doorbell rang 
and there stood a preacher.
He waved a Bible,
yelled and screamed
"All you must do is believe
and you will be saved!"
and Ebenezer replied
"I do believe but 
what about the rats?"
The preacher smiled,
turned to leave and 
tripped on the stairs.
He never moved, 
his head a Vesuvius 
lofting a spume of blood. 
Ebenezer closed the door 
and said to no one, "I believe 
the Samaritan can handle it."

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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