Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Donal Mahoney

A Man and a Dog

A reporter asked Wilbur once
if there were any advantages
to being deaf and Wilbur

used sign language to say
not that he could think of
except you miss all the gossip

and that’s a good thing
if you live alone in a trailer camp
in a small town in Oklahoma

but it’s not a good thing
when a tornado comes through
and everyone else hears it

at midnight and gets out alive
but they forget to wake you
and you go up with the tornado 

along with a dog 
you can’t hear barking,
two small stars in the sky.

Donal Mahoney

As Wally Explained on the Locked Side Later

Another day at the zoo and 
Wally’s new job was to feed the apes. 
Old Stanley had fed the apes 
for 40 years and loved the job 
but told Wally he was retiring.
He was showing Wally the ropes when 
Wally got hit with a coconut 
lobbed by JuJu, the oldest ape, 
who liked Stanley but not Wally.

Stanley drove Wally to a dentist 
to check the damage to his teeth
but the dentist wanted to be paid 
in advance and Wally had
no money, only a bus pass 
and a bag lunch back in his locker.
He had never had a credit card. 

The dentist looked and sounded
like Mel Brooks and kept saying
he wanted his money before drilling. 
Wally’s father came to the office
and started writing a big check 
to the plumber who had come over
the previous week to fix the toilet.

Bleeding from the mouth Wally yelled,
“Dad, write the check to Mel Brooks, 
not the plumber," but his father said,
“Wally, shut up for a change" and he
kept writing the check to the plumber.
His father had been dead for 30 years
but he and Wally never got along well  
when his father was alive either.

Donal Mahoney

Answer Me This, America

Took the wife 
to a pancake house
the other day. 
National franchise
good food 
fine reputation.

Skipped the pancakes
had bacon, eggs,
hash browns, toast
and coffee.
Wife went fancy,
had an omelette.

Grabbed the check
because the busboy 
started clearing 
the table early.
A young dervish
new to the job
swirling his cloth
for minimum wage.

Bothered me 
to realize he'work
three hours and a skosh
to pay for the same 
breakfast, more
if he left a tip.

Reminded me 
something’s wrong
with our great nation,
how we do business.
Have both ears open.
Hoping for an answer.

Donal Mahoney

Marimba in the Afternoon

Raul is a kind man
who plays marimba
in a salsa band at LA clubs
late into the night.

Some afternoons he plays 
at a nursing home in Cucamonga 
where he was born, grew up
and dashed home from school.

He’s paid with a taco,
maybe an enchilada,
a burrito now and then. 
On Sunday a fresh tamale

almost as good as his mother
used to make after being in  
the fields all day, long ago.
Old-timers in the day room 

bounce in their chairs, some 
on wheels, to Raul's music.
Long ago they were young 
and danced all night in

tiny clubs after being paid 
a few dollars a basket for 
picking grapes and plums 
under pounding sun.

Donal Mahoney

Fly Fishing

Many years ago Miriam’s parents 
took the kids for the weekend 
while she and Jack motored north 
to fish for trout in Montana 
at Miriam's request. 

Unsteady in her hip-waders 
but casting with abandon,
Miriam lobbed a snide remark 
and the hook snagged Jack's ear.

Jack told her not to worry
just a tiny bit of blood.
He'd put a band-aid on it 
back at the cabin
before he fried 
the rainbow trout still
wriggling in her creel.

Decades later Jack is back
at the cabin with his Phyllis,
a quiet woman who
has never cast for trout.  
He thinks she’ll do well.

Jack’s lost track of Miriam,
who sold the house long ago.
The kids are on their own.
He still scratches the ear 
where an itch recalls 
Miriam’s remark.