Donal Mahoney


Lady Goulds

Moving from Chicago to Missouri wasn't easy
but breeding Lady Goulds kept me sane
for many years--well, almost.

I was writing then to make a living.
All day I'd rearrange other people's words.   
I needed Lady Goulds to look at 

in the evening and most weekends.
Otherwise I might have married 
some nice lady for the wrong reason.  

Right now, a canary helps me dance 
away the years or days or hours
I have to face before 

I take on a cane or walker. 
The canary calls the dawn with glee. 
Lady Goulds, you see, don't sing. 

They don't have to.
All they have to do is sit there  
as if Mondrian painted them 

or God lifted a pinkie on the 7th day. 
The beauty of the Lady Gould,
some say, is the result of evolution. 

There was no grand designer,
most scientists maintain.
The Lady Gould is one big accident 

that happened eons ago. 
I find it comforting to stare at them 
and know otherwise.


Lady Goulds can be observed here:


Crackling Again

This brilliant winter morning finds
waves of snow on every lawn
and red graffiti dripping
from the walls
of Temple Mizpah
once again
as down the street 
stroll ancient men
who every morning
shuffle here for prayer.

As usual, they're lost 
inside old overcoats,
their collars up, 
their scarves too long,
their yarmulkes,
as always,
in diffidence

This morning, though,
they don't go in.
They shuffle near the curb
like quail.
They can't believe 
the goose-step scrawl
on every wall.
They know their world's
awry again, an encore
of the chaos left behind
when they were young.

The good thing is,
Chicago's better now 
than was Berlin back then 
even though the temple walls
make clear this morning that
someone's struck another match
and the ovens of Auschwitz
are crackling again.


Take Me to the Taxidermist

I told my wife the other night
when she came back to bed 
my feet were cold so now's 
the time for me to tell her  
not to bury me or burn me 
or give my body to science.

Take me to the taxidermist 
and have him dress me in  
Cary Grant's tuxedo, a pair 
of paten leather shoes
from Fred Astaire and a 
straw hat from Chevalier.

Once I'm a Hollywood star, 
stand me in the garden with 
that chorus line of blondes, 
brunettes and redheads 
I stationed there the day she
flew home to Mother in a snit.

Years later now, my dancers still 
kick high enough to lance the sun. 
I plan to hold a last rehearsal 
once my wife motors into town 
and finds a priest who'll say 
a thousand Masses for my soul.



The thing of it is,
says Johnny O,
none of us knows

whether he is
while others announce
after looking around

they beg to differ.
The thing of it is,
says Johnny O,

some would say
he’s here, he’s there,
he’s everywhere

while others would say
after looking around
no one can see him

anywhere--so how
can he be everywhere?
The thing of it is,

says Johnny O, 
he’s right over where?
Let’s look around.


Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction appear in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.