Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Donal Mahoney Misses Old Style Beer

Donal Mahoney recently read the Outsider editor interviewed in Duotrope and found the invitation to poets to submit who suffer mental illness or disability. But since these ailments come in many forms, some detectable and others not so at least in public, it’s difficult for a writer who has made it through a long life knowing he isn’t quite right to submit to Outsider because he has not been labeled as officially labeled, medically or otherwise. Maybe that’s because he quit drinking four quarts of beer on Friday night, often the same amount on Saturday night, and lightened up with 10 or so vodka and Squirts on Sunday afternoon. He quit drinking and smoking three packs a day on the same day. The date is tattooed on his brain: November 23, 1961. He still misses Old Style beer. 

Mahoney has appeared in Outsider before and very much enjoyed it so he is no submitting once again, officially labeled or not. He wants to say, however, that his problem, whatever it is, has been relieved enormously by the process of writing, sometimes in three or more shifts of three hours a day, seven days a week. On nights he can’t sleep, he’s a woodpecker at the keyboard as early as 3 a.m. It’s one of only two obsessions in a lifetime of obsessions that would not attract the cops or make women angry.

Sometimes thinks his poems should scream what he feels but he doesn’t like those versions. He’s not Bukowski and he knows it. Some of Mahoney’s relatively newer work can be found at Some older work is at Some of the poems on the latter site may have been written before he quit drinking with or without a bottle of Old Style. No computers then. Just a rickety Remington portable typewriter. 

Bellowing by Email

It’s not good when two disturbed people
with little in common disagree by email 
on something important.

Tone and content can get raucous  
and make matters worse because each is   
used to getting the last word.

Normal people give up arguing with them
but they can exchange emails for days
and never come close to a resolution.

Their bellowing would wake a bear in winter.
I tell you this from personal experience.
I just answered that lunatic again.

Donal Mahoney

Act Now Before It’s Too Late

It's climate change, 
the professor says, 
that's causing all the
hurricanes and floods, 
wildfires and tornadoes, 
icebergs melting, 
species disappearing.
We must act now
before it's too late, 
he tells his audience.

On Sunday morning
the preacher says
climate change is
the beginning of 
the End Times.
Get ready now
for the Rapture.
It will be here soon.
You will either be 
swept up to heaven
of left behind.

Sitting in his pew, 
waiting for the collection, 
Mortimer figures  
both may be right, 
the professor 
and the preacher.
Climate change first 
and then the Rapture.
What to do, he wonders, 
if he's left behind.
His wife tells him 
on the way home that 
only the Shadow knows. 

Donal Mahoney

America’s Beggars

You won't find poetry anywhere 
unless you bring some of it with you, 
said Joseph Joubert,

a French writer whose day job 
was working for Napoleon.
If Joubert was right and you have

poems marinating, then go out 
and search everywhere for more.
You will find nice ones in the forest 

twinkling in the eyes of a doe 
or twitching in the ears of a rabbit. 
Add them to your marinade and then 

go into the city and you will find more  
blazing in the eyes of America’s beggars.
There’s room in your marinade for more. 

Donal Mahoney

Odd and Strange

The day Paul got married, 
his old girlfriend called his house 
just before he and his bride Anne

caught the plane for their honeymoon. 
Paul was outside packing the car 
and Anne answered the phone. 

His old girlfriend was angry because 
Paul had married somebody else so she  
told Anne strange things Paul liked to do,

strange things Anne had never heard of,
stuff that didn’t sound like Paul at all, 
but Anne said nothing about the call

and they flew off to a nice honeymoon, 
diving off cliffs and swimming in the sea, 
seeing rare birds and tropical flowers, 

eating native foods Anne hadn't heard of.
Years later, they went back to Oahu 
for their 40th anniversary, and Anne

told Paul about the call but didn’t say 
anything about what the girl had said 
although she remembered every word.

They were sipping drinks at a cafe 
when Paul admitted he remembered 
the girl because she would ask him to do 

things he thought odd and strange.
He was open-minded but there’s a limit. 
Anne said she understood because after 

40 years with Paul, she now liked to do 
things she thought odd and strange when 
she left the Amish for something new. 

Donal Mahoney

An Editor Suggests Revisions

Yours is the first email I opened this morning. 
I appreciate your suggested revisions and invitation 
to send the work back once I've made the changes. 
I can tell you spent a lot of time analyzing my efforts. 
I'm afraid, however, that I can't make the revisions 
although I feel I should compensate you for your work. 

It is to that end that I took your name to Rebecca. 
I showed her your suggestions and she said your name 
would be introduced at the next gathering of her coven. 
She asked if I had suggestions for revisions to your life 
and I said I did and that she might want to take notes.
I said I thought it might be best to have your organs 
rot one at a time while your heart remains strong 
so you die at a leisurely pace. 

She said that could be arranged 
although it was an unusual request. 
In similar cases, when dispatching someone
who has insulted another, she has found
the insulted usually wants the insulter 
sent off as quickly as possible. 
I'm unusual, she said, in that respect.
I told her I didn't want to be heartless 
and have you die before you have time
to put your affairs in order. 

I reminded her not to inflict cancer 
on your pancreas too early because 
medicine has yet to find a cure for that. 
In short order, cancer of the pancreas 
means lights out, no lingering about. 

I suggested the cancer start in your gall bladder, 
move on to your kidneys, then to your lungs 
and then to your brain. That will keep 
the doctors busy while you waste away. 
I suggested she save your pancreas for last. 

I also asked her to let me know when 
your pancreas becomes fully involved 
so I can make plane reservations 
to come and say good-bye.

In the meantime, may your next issue 
be stillborn. No reason to make it 
different from the last. 

Old Style cans in Lacrosse, Wisconsin

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