December 3, 2016

Three Poems by Donal Mahoney: "Another Christmas Alone," "A Different New Year's Eve," and "Two Coots on New Year's Eve"

Donal Mahoney has worked as an editor for Loyola University Press, The Chicago Sun-Times, and the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University in St. Louis. Retired now, he keeps busy writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Some of his work can be found at

Another Christmas Alone

Widow in a rocker
pets her calico cat
long strokes slowly.

With the cat purring
and the widow humming
Beethoven fills the house

with memories of
the many years
of mistletoe

and aftershave
as snowflakes
dot the window.

A Different New Year’s Eve

An ancient couple,
he's a hunchback,
she's a gnome,
in the kitchen play

a game of dominoes,
drink hot cocoa, eat
warm bread dripping
with apricot jam, then

off to bed at eight
and up again at five
for the winding drive
down the mountainside

snowy miles to church
on New Year’s Day,
there to sing and praise
God for everything.

Two Coots on New Year’s Eve

Months roar by like weeks
and weeks disappear like days,
two coots in a bar admit
on New Year’s Eve,
reminiscing over a beer
and counting birthdays,
wondering what awaits them
on the other side.

Walt’s optimistic.
He says the other side
means no more pills,
no more referrals,
happiness again.

“Bunk,” says Elmo.
"There’s nothing
on the other side.
Take my word for it.
There’s only diddly-squat
in the ether."

Walt says that’s a nasty
thing to say in light of
Sister Mary Rose.
She paddled them
in third grade for
making fun of Patsy Foley.

“I deserved the paddle,”
Elmo says. “She never
hit us hard enough to hurt
but I yelled anyway
to make her feel good.
She’s out there now
swimming in the ether.
I’ll see her soon."

Walt hails the waitress
for two more beers
and another pack
of salted peanuts.

Then he tells Elmo
as he does
every New Year’s Eve
to sell his condo
and move in with him.
Plenty of room.

Elmo says "no can do."
All those prayers
would kill him.

Both men agree
to meet again
next New Year’s Eve
if all goes well.

Neither wants to leave
the other sitting
in a little bar
on New Year’s Eve,
cracking peanuts
over a single beer
while the other’s
swimming in the ether.
Or maybe smiling
on the other side.

© Donal Mahoney

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