Thursday, February 11, 2016

Donal Mahoney- Three Poems

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.

Old People

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 
weekday afternoons
at Mid-America Buffet
eating their fill for $5.00 off
piling their plates with
chicken, meat loaf
salads galore, veggies
from childhood
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. 


  1. Not The Same As Bangladesh I got a lot out of reading that one. People are struggling in America for food and shelter. Granted we have much more than other countries, but hunger is hunger. An empty stomach
    is the same in Bangladesh as it is in Detroit.

    Well written!!

    All three poems were really good, but I had to comment on this one.

  2. Excellent trilogy of narrative in Donal Mahoney ambitious clearly alliterative poetry.

  3. I would like to thank both Rose and B.Z for their comments. Rose is new to me but B.Z. and I frequent many of the same joints and I, as a spawn of the city, admire the tremendous interest in nature he shows in his work. Mine is pretty much limited to looking out the window and watching the birds we feed and the squirrels who steal their food and the feral cats who try to catch them both. Our animal kingdom is a little like the Middle East--malice and mayhem.