Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Donal Mahoney- Three Poems

A Low Voice and a Nice Walk

Gramps by the fire
in his rocker hunched over
is rolling his smoke with care

when Tom, his grandson, asks,
“What’s the most important thing
to look for in a wife?

Gramps stares into the fire intently
then finally says, “You want a wife
with a low voice and a nice walk,

a low voice because later in life
your ears give out but her odd jobs 
become more numerous 

and a nice walk because you want to
let her go first forever and make
all that extra work worthwhile.

No Paper This Morning

Most days the newspaper hits
the lawn by four in the morning
but it's six already and I don't see it. 

I'll have to pull on my pants 
and go out to see if it's hiding 
in my wife's flowers and bushes.

She keeps adding more plants
to the jungle she's created out there 
with parrots and macaws on the way.

But instead of going out  
I tell her it's a nice morning 
and suggest she check on her roses. 

In this heat, they may need water.
And while she's out there I suggest
she scan the garden for the paper 

in case it's held hostage by the foliage
After coffee she sails out the door
and returns with no paper but brings 

an armful of roses, a bouquet 
I welcome more than the poison ivy 
I find every day in the paper.

Two Funerals in One Day

The alarm clock screams at 5 a.m.
and I get up to attend a funeral
50 miles away, a long drive back
to a corner of Chicago once rife
with corned beef and cabbage but
redolent today with salsa and tequila.

I head for the bathroom to shower
and brush my teeth but when
I turn the light on, I see a long 
mahogany bug, species unknown, 
glistening and motionless
on the cap of my toothpaste.

As a former caseworker in the projects
and someone with a gardener for a wife,
I have seen a variety of bugs, urban 
and agrarian, and if they behave,
I normally don't bother them,
except for mosquitoes 

that land and happen to like me. 
So I tell this bug on the toothpaste cap
that I have a funeral to attend today
and it's 50 miles away so please, 
be a good bug and move on.
Of course he doesn't move.

Instead, he twirls his antennae
and rubs his pincers together.
Finally, he says somberly 
"Can you get this cap off? 
I've been trying all night.
I hear this stuff tastes good."

As I would do later that day
for my old friend at his funeral,
I say a prayer for the bug
and send him on his way, 
a burial at sea, if you will,
down, down, down he goes

to the hymn of a flushing toilet. 
I can still hear his last words:
"My wife had octuplets.
They're under your bathtub.
Tell them I said good-bye.
And have a nice day!"

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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