Donal Mahoney

Caseworker Takes Notes

I was there the day

there trickled down the wall

of an old man's room one roach

that stopped across

a canyon in the plaster till

the old man's elevated slipper fell.

The roach absorbed the blow

and as though perforated for that purpose

dissolved into an archipelago.

The old man looked at me

and patiently explained, "Despite my

constant smacking of its brethren

one roach each day will trickle down that wall

and pause and pose as if to say,

'Go ahead and smack me, that's okay.'"

To take advantage of the archipelago at hand

the old man pointed toward the last palpitating island

and once again explained,

"Each roach I smack, you see,

offers me that same good-bye--

one last flicker of antennae."

Donal Mahoney © 2009

Griggs' Bar and Grill

In two more hours I'll have to shower,

shave and coffee-prop my lids

and otherwise prepare for day. It's 4 a.m.

and now the barkeep, Griggs,

is rushing me, the first

to come, the last to leave,

the lad who just an hour before

was coaxed to quaff one more.

At work I'll cummerbund a smile,

hold my head and sit all day,

play another endless game

of solitaire or tic-tac-toe.

Griggs' apron's off. The neon's out

and now he'll set the locks in back.

The spittle, butts and half-slain beers

he'll leave for Willie who'll soon be here

to dance his broom between

the tables and the scattered chairs

as smoothly as Kelly or Astaire.

At 6 a.m., he'll climb the ladder

near the door and aim his broom

through the transom toward the sky.

Every morning Willie puts a

bullet through the eye of sunrise.

Donal Mahoney © 2009