Interloper at the Red Feeder
The Downy is the smallest flicker
but his arrival is uninvited and
disturbs the hummingbirds
circling in fury
while he with bravado
takes over the red feeder
dangling from the arbor.
The hummers at times
dive close to the Downy,
then retreat and watch him
swig what they need to sip,
their babies circling
slowly behind them.
The Downy stays on,
takes swigs between laughs
at the unarmed squadron,
dipping his beak
where it doesn’t belong,
another Putin in
a different Ukraine.
These are old people
retired and driving slowly
from small apartments
in economy cars
getting out on canes
and walkers with
hearing aids you can see
attired in the best
Goodwill has to offer
arriving between 1 and 3
at Mid-America Buffet
eating their fill for $5.00 off
piling their plates with
chicken, meat loaf
salads galore, veggies
green beans, carrots
eaten in a rush as kids
listening to Fibber McGee
and Molly on the radio
eaten slowly now
by folks who make it
on crackers and snacks
and one meal a day
this one for $5.00 off
at Mid-America Buffet.
Not the Same as Bangladesh
It’s not the same as seeing the poor
in Bangladesh on PBS and hearing
Gwen or Judy tell us about them because
the poor in Bangladesh scream in silence,
brown and gaunt and hollow-eyed.
Many of them have jobs that feed few
even when the factory isn’t burning.
But in time you begin to think that’s what poor is,
living in Bangladesh, until you find out someone
you’ve known for years and thought still lived down
the street and was worried about his crabgrass
but had enough to eat and pay his mortgage
only to find out that’s no longer the case
and hasn’t been since he lost his job and wife
and kids and sleeps where they take him in when
the weather’s bad, and has to thumb a ride
to a part-time job at the midnight shift at QuikTrip
because he hasn’t got the bus fare.
Then you see the guy early Saturday morning
on your way to the Farmer’s Market and he waves
from across the street and looks the same and you
realize you don’t have to be brown and gaunt and
hollow-eyed in Bangladesh to need help in America,
home of the hidden poor who look as though
they’re doing as well as you think you are and you
wonder if maybe you should at least listen to the
gray-haired man who needs a comb and yells like
he’s hawking a Rolex in the Bronx and doesn’t live
in Vermont but wants to change everything because
if the man is right, the guillotine may fall on you.
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri,
and is completely confused by the folks
aspiring to president of the United States.
He doesn’t know what to think.
By now he should have some idea
who he might like to vote for.