Monday, August 22, 2016

Poetry By Donal Mahoney

Poetry by Donal Mahoney

I Know It When I See It

There are poems everywhere
but you have to find them,
a teacher told my class long ago.
I was a kid sitting at a desk,
cowlicks sprouting from my scalp,
no laptops available then, just paper 
and a No. 2 pencil, sharply pointed.
I didn’t know what poetry was but I
had to find out. It might be on the test.

Many decades later I understand
what she meant. I still don't know
what poetry is but like pornography
I know it when I see it. I wish she had 
come with me to places in my life 
where I found poems hiding, in old 
elevators stalled in housing projects
and on benches waiting for a bus
to go back home to sleep before 
having to wait for a bus again.

There are indeed poems everywhere,
as my teacher said, and anyone 
can find them anywhere if they look.
It’s nice to find them in a garden
or on a mountain top on a sunny day
but sometimes a poem appears when 
you take the garbage out at night
and you see one sleeping in the alley.
Poems are everywhere and sometimes  
one of them will break your heart.

Donal Mahoney


On their honeymoon
he asked her not to sit down.
Might bruise the peaches.

Donal Mahoney

Another Four Years

You can learn a lot,
both true and false,
in a dingy all-night diner

where old men gather
at a table in back
drinking coffee  

holding loud debates 
for counter folk not   
interested in their wisdom 

amassed over many years.
The men say they don’t know
who’ll win the election 

but they all agree  
the voters must choose
between a devil they know

and a devil they don’t 
then live in Hades
another four years.

Donal Mahoney

Above Bob Gordon’s Bog

The bog above Bob Gordon’s bog
is where they found the body of 
an older man floating like a canoe
among the lily pads. He was
covered with crustaceans.

Folks from town and towns
around came to see if he might be 
one of theirs, perhaps someone 
liquored up who went astray
and fell in the bog while traipsing. 

But no one knew the victim so  
undertaker Flynn had to bury him 
behind Bob Gordon’s bog among 
the other strangers buried there 
holding up blank tombstones.

Donal Mahoney

A Small World on a City Block

Old Sol hires young Abdul,
a refugee, to cut his grass and weed.
Saul tells his neighbor Old Paddy

young Abdul does a good job
and has a wife and three kids
and needs money for his family.

Sol says Abdul was an engineer 
in Syria before the war but now
he has to improve his English

to find work as an engineer.
Till then he still has a family to feed. 
Old Paddy understands and hires Abdul 

to cut his grass and weed.
A month later Paddy tells Sol  
they have to worry about Abdul:

His English is getting better.
Paddy’s says Abdul might find work.  
If he does, who will shovel their snow?