Saturday, November 28, 2015

Donal Mahoney- Three Poems

Flotsam and Jetsam

They're usually poor people,
sometimes considered
the flotsam of society,
always in the way
at the grocery store,
at the post office.
They can’t find their money,
if they have any.
They’re never in a hurry.
They have nowhere to go

and you’re always in line 
behind them, a busy man 
with people to see,
appointments to keep,
deadlines to meet.
You try to be patient.
You know flotsam loiters
until life takes it away.

Later in retirement 
you stand on a street corner
leaning on your cane 
waiting for the light to change 
but for you it never does.
You now have something 
in common with flotsam. 

In a year, maybe less,
you will be jetsam as
birds soar over your plot
four seasons of the year.
You won’t be aware
that on street corners
all over the world 
the lights won’t change for
other folks still in a hurry, 
those who don’t realize yet 
flotsam and jetsam 
at some point in time
have something in common.
They have nowhere to go.

Big Difference

Behind every great man 
is a woman 
making him who he is.

Behind every great woman 
is a man
watching her walk.

A Milkshake Brings Advice

I bring a milkshake every other week
to an old man in a nursing home,
a refugee from Germany who paid me  
50 cents to cut his grass when I was 
a kid in Chicago after WWII.

I couldn’t understand him then
and I can’t understand him now 
but 50 cents was big money 
in 1950, 10 candy bars,
10 popsicles or maybe 5 Cokes.
Or I could mix and match and trade 
Pete the Collector for a baseball card.

Now my old neighbor sits in bed
and swigs his milkshake as I tell him  
that I drove by his house the other day 
and the new owners have planted 
roses and lilies everywhere.
Every color imaginable.
A botanical garden in bloom.
He blinks at me, smiles
and takes a final swig. 

Because of the language problem
we never talk about anything
except the house he will never 
see again and then marvel that 
he will turn 100 soon, quite a feat.
He smiles at that as well.

But he doesn’t smile when I get up 
to leave and offers me advice 
in the thunder of his accent:
“Someone had better stop ISIS now.
When I was a kid in Berlin, no one
stopped Hitler the bastard then."

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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