Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. His work has appeared in the United States and other countries. Some of his earliest work can be found here, some newer work here.

Letter to an Estranged Middle-Aged Son

The older I get the more I realize
the importance of getting things done
before your mother announces another

assignment to roust me from my hammock.
As you know I’ve never been much
around the house, my skills limited to

raking leaves and shoveling snow,
menial tasks I haven’t missed in years.
Probably not since you lived here.

Your mother, of course, grew up on a farm
and has always liked getting things done.
But she’s getting older too. In fact,

she recently had a big operation
and I’ve pitched in beyond my skill set
despite new stents and a pacemaker.

But even though we just put away
the walker, cane and wheelchair,
all three are on alert so I believe

it’s best to let you know that
one of these days the one who’s left
will ring you up and let you know.

An Unfortunate Remark

The old couple sits in recliners
after dinner the way old couples do
and she’s tells him what she saw
in the yard that first warm day
and it’s crocuses  and daffodils 
no tulips yet but she knows 
tulips will pop any day 
and he listens because there 
might be a quiz but then

she sees the gun in his lap 
and she asks why it’s there
and he says it’s in case 
she repeats the remark 
she made the night before 
because this time he’ll shoot 
the words out of the air 
quicker than a pheasant
in hunting season and 

blood will splatter 
on the ceiling and walls 
because this time she won’t 
put a hole in his heart as she 
did last night and maybe 
the two of them can return 
to who they were before 
she spoke and he survived,
hanging on to life.

The Human Condition

Did I forgive her, you ask?
What a silly question.
Why wouldn’t I forgive her?
The mother of my children,

she’s been dead for years.
Our long war died with her.
Did I attend her funeral?
I’d have been a distraction.

But I pray for her,
the repose of her soul.
She belongs in Heaven,
no denying that, up front

in a box seat after all
she’s been through.
If I’m lucky, I’ll find
the side door to

Heaven unlocked.
I’ll sneak in quietly
and if Peter doesn’t
throw me out, I’ll sit

in the bleachers.
The question is,
will I wave if she
turns around?

photo by: Seabamirum