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Archive for the ‘Donal Mahoney’ Category

America in 4013

By Donal Mahoney

Is that lava or simply mud
dripping from the cheeks
of this old woman asking me
why this library has no books.
I ask her where she’s been
for the last 2000 years.
Under a rock? In some cave?
After all, the year is 4013

and now the only book extant
is the Bible and the only copy
of the Bible is in Rome where
a few monks older than she is
sit in catacombs all day
copying pages of it

onto yellow foolscap, hoping
to create another Bible
no one will read, as was the case,
I’m told, when dusty Bibles
were in almost every home
and computers were a luxury.

But then I soften up because
I can see this woman was born
without a cell phone in her ear.
I tell her if she wants to read
something wonderful online,
as soon as a computer comes free

I’ll call her even though she has
no cell phone in her ear.
First, however, she must show
a number, not a name,
tattooed above her navel,
the only form of identification
accepted in America in 4013.

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Mingle

By Donal Mahoney

Tomorrow morning when I wake
it’ll be the nurse who’s crazy.
I’ll heave my body up
on its elbows and yell
in her ear, “It’s time for your pill.
Get dressed. Breakfast is ready

in the Day Room. Juice, rolls, bacon, eggs.
You’ll find a tray with your name on it,
faces you know, a chance for conversation.
Eat each meal at a different table.
Mingle. Before you can get out of here,
you have to love all the faces you hate.”

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By Donal Mahoney

The others, of course,
are more rabid than he
but less apt to show it.
Whenever he strikes,
he never romps off.
He stands with the wrist
that he’s snatched
from the lady
tight in his teeth
as he waits with a smile
for the wagon.
He’s one of the few
wrist-snatchers still
on the streets of Chicago,
and he makes his rounds
in old tennies.
His technique is simple:
He dives for the purse hand,
gives it a whack, and severs
the wrist without slobber,
then stands like a Vatican Guard
with the wrist in his teeth
until he is certain
he has no pursuers.
At night in his dreams he sees
the women whose wrists
he has held in his teeth.
They stand at the bus stop
like Statues of Liberty,
shrieking and waving
their stumps like flares.
He prays their screams
will bring to a frieze
the patrol cars glowing
in the middle of the street.

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Birds of Paradise

By Donal Mahoney

As you move toward the door
to open it so I may leave
I notice how your Levis cage

the anacondas of your thighs.
One more move like that, I say,
and I’ll toss my briefcase to the floor

and bring you yipping to the couch
and kiss your breasts until they rise
like startled Birds of Paradise.

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By Donal Mahoney

He tries again to situate his grosbeak
nose beneath his spectacles.
He twists the silver toothpick in his teeth
and hunches now a little more toward her,
saying “Listen, dear, I’ve said all this before,
and now I’ll say it all again.
Perhaps this time you’ll listen:

“You’re slovenly and gross. Your jowls
swing beneath your jaws like testicles.
Your mammoth breasts need tweezing.
Your freckled calves are carved of lard.
These things are true, my dear.
They’re not some crazed
vision of conjecture.”

The lady belches as she reaches for
a pickle spear, a slice of cervelat,
and begins to comb her yellow hair.
She hunches now a little more toward him,
saying “Listen, dear, I’ve heard all this before.
What’s happened here is eminently clear.
You no longer love me.”

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Lemon Underwear

By Donal Mahoney

The New Morse Hotel
Chicago, circa 1970

What if after Browne has gone
one of us discovers who Browne was,
leads the rally to his room before
the maid has time to broom the webs,
retrieve from underneath the bed
the sweat-stiff socks, the lemon underwear?

What if before he leaves Browne scrawls
across the dresser’s dust: “I have leased
new quarters and have gone to them.
Don’t give the clothes you find here to the poor.
Don’t burn the books. Beware the next
who rents this room, who leaves it only after dark,

who screams if the maid knocks once
to ask if she may clean. When he arrives
have four men bear him, belly down, downstairs.
Tell them: ‘Pitch him out across the lawn!
Let him land in a lake of sun.
Let him drown there.”

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Death A Bear

By Donal Mahoney

Odd the way the very old
pick a winter day to fall,
break a minor bone,
be assigned to bed
and death a bear
napping out the winter
rises in his lair,
instantly aware
here is Spring
and ultimately honey.

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