Eye On Life Magazine

Lifestyle * Literary

Leprechauns in Pop's Fedora

For years leprechauns lived
under Pop’s fedora.
They danced jigs on his head
when he wore it

and hid in his ears
when he took it off
to scratch his head
then jumped back up

to dance a few reels
when he took it off
for another good scratch.
Leprechauns dancing

confused my mother.
She thought Pops
had ringworm or lice
and should see a doctor.

The attendant said no
ringworm or lice but said
Pop might look odd
wearing a hat in his coffin.

-- Donal Mahoney

Thoughts While Waiting in the ER

You thought you knew her.
She thought she knew you.

Neither was true
but this happens at times

at Happy Hour on Fridays
after a long week of work.

The rapport was strong.
Amazing, you thought.

She might be someone
you’d see more than once.

She had a nice apartment
or maybe it was a condo

a big double bed
with a canopy yet.

You slept soundly until
the key in the door

and from the other pillow
you heard a whisper,

“He’s not expected
until late next week.”

-- Donal Mahoney

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.

-- Donal Mahoney

A New Yo-Yo on Christmas Day

I took grandson Jack
for a walk in the park
high noon on Christmas Day.
He wanted to see
his yo-yo dance
but his parents said
no yo-yo tricks
in a crowded house
with a Christmas tree.

So after Mass
they wrapped Jack up
in a snowsuit worn
by the Michelin Man
when he was a child.
And Jack and I
strolled off, laughing
through the snow.

The park was empty
when I showed Jack
yo-yo tricks I’d learned
many decades ago.
I told him he would
soon be tall enough
to do these tricks
on his own.

Jack laughed and asked
if we could come back
to the park that night
and watch the comets.
I asked him why.
That’s when I learned
comets are yo-yos and
God swings their strings
on the other side
of the moon.

-- Donal Mahoney


Paddy believes
in something he
has never seen.

So when I ask him why
he won't look for it, he says
“Because it’s here.”

Mick believes
in nothing he
hasn’t ever seen.

So when I ask him why
he won't look for it, he says
“Because it isn't there.”

So I ask Mick if he
would ever look where
Paddy says it is

and Mick says  
"Paddy's full of it.
Why look there."

-- Donal Mahoney

Veterans Cemetery

Families come
on Memorial Day
depending on the weather;
otherwise the Fourth of July,
if it’s not too hot.

You can hear them coming,
adults in the rear,
reminiscing and talking,
children who can read
announcing the names
on the stones until they
discover the right one.
Then they shout.

Adults bring flowers,
placing them softly
in front of the stones
near our heads.
Children stick little
flags from parades
in our waistlines.

Some ladies bring towels
and wipe down the stones;
others towelettes to remove
gunk from the lettering.

All mean well and we
appreciate the visit and wish
we could say something.
It’s a thrill to hear voices.
Otherwise it's lawn mowers,
leaf blowers, snow plows
the rest of the year.

-- Donal Mahoney


The city’s burning…

Astride an undeniable racial divide
That spans a million miles wide
A mother’s tears cried
Over the sons who have died,
And no one can answer why

No matter how hard we try
It simply cannot be denied-
All the bullshit upon which we’ve relied;
That we’ve conquered
And moved onward
Towards enlightenment
Is just a figment,
A creation of our mistaken environment
That would have us believe
That racism no longer exists;
Reality dismissed-

Open your eyes
And you’ll see that the old adage still applies:
Racism is alive and well-
And that ugly truth just makes me mad as hell

Floating along in my fundamentally flawed blindness,
My chosen ignorance;
I turn a blind eye
Because it’s easier to deny
Than to accept the actuality
Of the world’s brutal reality-
That no matter how far we seem to have come,
We have failed to overcome

-- Rosa Farrington


After 55 years
She’s moving

The dumpster
In her drive
Says it all

A sofa
At a broken angle
A mattress piled on
A chair sticking up
In one corner
Say it all

She’s moving out
After 55 years

Senior housing
Assisted living now
They say

She’s moving away
She has moved away

After 55 years
It seems well tended
Convenient enough
A dumpster filled
With 55 years

She’s moving away
In fact
She’s almost gone.

-- J. K. Durick

December Night

December weighs heavily on us tonight –
So much snow in so short a time.
Sidewalk and driveway disappear.
Our boot prints to the bird feeder,
The dog’s slight prints and the trail
She made out, then back are gone now

As if nature corrects itself, tries to get
It right this time – white as far as we
Can see, flawless, forgiving and wind
Whispering, as it will, whispering
A poem, prayer for this part of the year –
The darkest days enlightened with snow.

-- J. K. Durick

He Laughed

And there’s the laughter of agreement --
a mid-range chuckle, more smile than sound,
your shoulders lift a bit, just short of a shrug,
then you relax into its lack of an aftermath.

And, of course, there’s the serendipitous laugh
you stumble on, out of context, as if a storm,
the weatherman predicted, doesn’t come true,
and you go out instead, pick a flower or two.

And then there’s the laugh that signifies serenity --
a melodic sound, the sound the word laugh
makes when you say it softly, keep it close by
like something almost too good to share.

And there’s the careful, uncomfortable laugh
you fill the silence with, before any other reply
occurs to you, just as if you had to claim it, like
embarrassing luggage, or a borrowed top hat.

And there’s always the laughter of contempt
with its wide range of sound and harm –
in close it touches just you, then a few, then more,
from the slightest snicker to the loudest roar.

And there’s the dark laugh of sorrow, the last laugh,
if you will, the lightest response to the trouble
that absorbs us so quickly, so easily, the loneliest
sound we’ll ever hear ourselves make – just listen.

-- J. K. Durick

Ollie’s Wine and Liquor

For years Ollie worked
late into the night
ringing up his sales
of wine and liquor
cigarettes and condoms
sometimes overcharging
addled customers who
had nowhere else to go.

He invested profits in
gold and silver coins
hidden in a box
under the attic floor
of the house he bought
for a crippled son
who never married,
never climbed a stair.

Now the store is closed
and the son is getting old
but the coins are
shining in their box  
under the attic floor.
Ollie too is in a box,
a sea of dust, an
archipelago of bones.

-- Donal Mahoney


A Caseworker’s Nightmare

Two ancient men
named Ruben Kohn
by happenstance
had sleeping rooms
in the Ace Hotel for Men

a flophouse home
to mendicants and drunks,
the mentally impaired
and a few divorced men
paying child support.  
When the government said
some mentally impaired folks
were well enough to live
among the general population,
the Ruben Kohns arrived

late one night and they
choked Thomas O’Leary,  
divorced and drinking  
in his room, who started
singing for all to hear,

“You Kohns are cuckoo!"
No one claimed O’Leary’s body,
and the Kohns were sent away
to different institutions
to live out their lives

far from the circus maximus
of the general population, never
again to hear a normal person
like tenor Thomas O’Leary sing
“You Kohns are cuckoo!”

-- Donal Mahoney

Red, White and Blue

Honor the brave dead
from Afghanistan and Iraq,

heroes against
German and Japanese imperialism,
and the sacrificed souls

in “the war to end all wars.”

But also thank Custer’s soldiers  
for not completing the genocide. 

I went to bed and dreamt that Sitting Bull
saw Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a vision quest

and then dropped an A-Bomb
on Washington, D.C.

to stop invading Custer from killing
his women and children like so many insects.

Upon awakening, I discovered
that America attacked Iraq
for weapons of mass destruction

after murderous pecuniary munitions manufacturers
crumbled twin towers
with their boomerang missiles
because recipients of evil often do evil in return.

Russian troops rhythmically
marched in the Ukraine,
a cruel video
beheaded a journalist,

ruinous bombs reined down
on rubbled villages of the weak,
and a bullet to a private’s leg became gangrene
as sepsis spread to amputation and death.  

An obscure philosophy book said
that Custer should have refused
to attack renegades

because the Black Hills were the Lakota’s by treaty

and that God had ordered
Custer’s men to lay down their weapons
or be shot for insubordination.

By river rapids, a sweating grimacing squaw
watched the blue cavalry approach as
she gave birth to a red son,

who drew his first breath,
wailed loudly and coveted white milk.

-- Gil Hoy

Cover to Cover

A book can be more
than its words and its pages.

When I trekked to my chum’s home
up the street years ago,
clay Lincoln on his first days of school,

we flipped through pages and pages
in a quiet little study in his house.
The words sounded good to me.

My friend’s mom oft times would set out
milk and cookies for us to eat,
planets of dirt and rock
circling two white stars.

The earth is a blue marble
with white swirls from the sterile rock
of the moon. The milk and the cookies
tasted good to me.

The words and the pages went by
so fast then, like a bus you run after
but miss, and you knew the end
was coming. The ephemeral perfection

of goldilocks planet has always been
that it is not too hot and not too cold,
with just the right amount of water.
It occurred to me on one of those

unspeaking afternoons that my death
was like my book and I was on chapter four.
I wasn’t troubled because there was still
so far to go. Given the big bang,

like an explosion of planets from the head
of a ruderal species, futures of finite
and infinite duration are both possible
depending upon physical properties

and the expansion rate. One rainy afternoon
I learned my friend’s mother had died.
The drapes in the study were drawn shut
and the house was so cold and so dark.

I didn’t know what to do.
But I knew there was no time
to waste.  I knew there was
no time to waste.

So I gathered up all of my books
in my bag and started
the long trudge back home.
And now Big Ben chimes,

the shrill tea kettle boils, barking
dogs to feed, and my rattling car’s
around the shop for repairs.
But I know there is no time to waste.

- Gil Hoy

Ferguson in Black and White

Would the death in Ferguson
have been as black and white
as many seem to think it is

if the victim had been
white as anthrax,
and the shooter

black as tar?
Would the aftermath
have been the same?

Would Pastor Sharpton
have flown to Ferguson
to address the masses

while the President
spoke gravely from afar?
Would businesses

have burned as bright
long into the night while
frozen cops watched?

I watched it on TV
with a cup of hot cocoa.
I’m the one to ask.

-- Donal Mahoney

The Cross

The cross sat alone
under a naked birch tree,
the grasping, bony branches
waiting for spring
to clothe them again
in verdant finery.
The grass at the base
of the cross
was sparse,
blades protruding from the dirt
at opposite angles
as if placed there by a meaning hand.
The wooden planks
collected dirt
to wear as a coat,
preserving the holy words
inscribed underneath.
The path that had
been worn to the symbol
by grieving footsteps
in the early years
after interment
was now filled in by
patchy grasses.
The nearby ground
had not shuddered
under weight
in many days.
The cross
sat alone under a tree
in the morning sun,
a sacred thought
that carried too much with it
to be made real
any longer.

-- Christopher Hivner