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.

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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.

A Piece of Fruit Every Morning

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

This morning Len sections his breakfast orange
with the knife he bought in Paris 40 years ago
on his honeymoon. He bought it from a vendor

at a street market selling every kind of knife,
beautiful creations he said he made at home.
Len no longer has that wife but he uses

the knife every morning to cut up his fruit
of the day. It might be a grapefruit, apple,
a melon in season but usually an orange.

Len never thinks about his first wife
but he remembers the blind beggar
sitting on a mat near the stand

pleading for a coin to buy bread
for breakfast as Len and his knife
rushed past to catch up with his wife.

At Sadie’s Soul Food Grill

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

Otis was once a monk
who took no vows, was
free to leave the abbey
and eventually he did.
I met him over chicken wings
at Sadie’s Soul Food Grill.

For almost 20 years
every spring and summer
Otis labored in the fields
raising vegetables
and crops of every kind.

In fall and winter he
would gather leaves and
plow the snow, wheel
ancient monks up and down
the endless silent halls.
He loved his work
because he liked to help
anyone in need.

I asked Otis why he left.
He said because at first
he thought life was a burp
somewhere in eternity.
He still believes that but
wants to hear the burp
before he’s in eternity.

Otis likes the chicken wings
at Sadie’s Soul Food Grill,
especially the real hot ones.
He ate chicken at the abbey
but nothing like the wings
at Sadie’s Soul Food Grill.
A real treat before eternity.

Another Birthday for Dr. Martin Luther King

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

The longer I live the greater Martin Luther King looks
compared with those who have tried to carry on his work.
The man had integrity, guts, ideas and class.

It was heartbreaking in the Sixties to be young and
filled with hope for change in America, only to see
JFK, MLK and RFK murdered in the same decade.

Young people of all kinds had hope back then even if
we saw little change. We thought it was time for a quiet
revolution of ideas in America. That never happened.

My hope is Mike Pence doesn’t succeed Donald Trump
the way Lyndon Johnson succeeded Jack Kennedy. We must
find a peaceful way to get through these next four years.

After a Snow

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

Used to be after a snow
our doorbell would ring
and we’d find boys
with shovels in hand
looking to make some money.
Because of the snow
there would be no school.
The boys would be happy.

But in the last two years
after a snow it’s been men
more than boys
ringing our bell
with shovels in hand
looking to make some money.

Some are blue-collar workers.
Others once wore suits and ties.
Most of them are broken men
long out of work and willing
to shovel for anything
tp buy something
their families need.