Monsanto’s Gift to War

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

Smitty isn’t Schulte.
He doesn’t drive a Cadillac
and doesn’t hit his wife
often any more.
Schulte, on the other hand,
drives a Cadillac
and hits his wife
usually on weekends
for no good reason.
He’s been doing that for
more than 40 years
ever since the boys
came home from Viet Nam

not knowing they had been
touched by Agent Orange,
Monsanto’s gift to war.
They had a double wedding with
girls they liked in high school.
Smitty says therapy
has helped a little.
He hasn’t struck his
second wife in years.
But Schulte hasn’t changed.
The police have come again
tonight, sirens blaring,
gumball lights swirling.

Two big officers,
matched like bookends,
march Schulte out in cuffs.
He’s cursing at his wife
who’s in a nightgown
bawling on the porch
as if Schulte’s going
back to Nam again.
Smitty swears Schulte
never left the paddies, that
he’s still knee-deep in water
bright with Agent Orange,
Monsanto’s gift to war.

Half of what you are taught as medical students will in 10 years have been shown to be wrong. And the trouble is, none of your teachers know which half.

–Sydney Burwell (1863–1967), medical educator of the twentieth century

A Study in Greed

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

For years Willie has saved his money,
investing it in stocks and bonds,
waiting to sit in his recliner
each quarter with a martini
reviewing his profits.
They often warrant
another martini.

But when the market drops
Willie loses money
and has to tell his wife
they’ll get it back again
when the market goes up.

But a tornado recently
curled into his life and
Willie had to sell most
of his stocks and bonds
to repair the havoc.

He’s very disturbed
about the debacle now
but more so when his wife
sipping a cup of tea
says imagine what it’s like
to have no money and a
tragedy like ours occurs.

Nibbling on a macaroon
she tells Willie thousands
of people all over the world
live with no money every day,
some of them in huts
with no running water.
Then she asks Willie if they
have enough money
to buy that new car.