Monday, December 28, 2015

Donal Mahoney- Two Poems

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.

Father Spoke in Code

Father spoke in code
Mother understood.
She would cry
once he went to bed.
I never understood the code.
My sister didn't either. 
As we got older, we quit
asking Mother what he said.

A feral cat claimed our yard.
It would leap the fence 
when anyone appeared.
Except, of course, Father.
When he came out to walk
around the garden after supper, 
the cat would sit straight up,
then rub against his leg
and look at him as if it understood 
what others never could

My sister used to say 
the two of us were proof 
Father and Mother 
got together twice.
I told her I wasn't so certain.
I looked a lot like Mr. Brompton,
the next-door neighbor.
He used to buy us sugar cones
from the ice cream truck.

My sister, by the way, didn't look 
like anyone in the family either,
but that was 40 years ago
when I last saw her.
I went away to college 
and she got married.
We were never close after that. 
Not even Christmas cards.

Forty years is a long time.
Now, we plan to get together
for a weekend this summer
before one of us dies.
I suggested we wait
till one of us is terminal.
What's the rush, I said.
But my wife told her
I was only kidding,
that we'll be coming
and not to make a fuss.
Burgers and hot dogs
will do just fine.

I know what Sis and I 
will talk about that weekend,
the two people we'll always
have in common, no matter 
how many years and miles
may lie between us.
Father and Mother have been 
dead for decades now
but they're still alive in us.
I talk in code, my wife says,
and my sister cries a lot, 
now that her husband's dead.
The one thing I want to know
is if my sister knows
what happened to the cat.
It knew the code,
may have had some answers.

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. 

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