Those Poems, That Fire

I stood in the alley, still
in pajamas, somebody’s shoes,
another man’s coat, my eyes
on the bronc of the hoses.
Squawed in the blankets of neighbors,
my wife and three children sipped
chocolate, stood orange and still.
Of the hundred or more I had stored
in a drawer, I could remember,
comma for comma, no more than four,
none of them final,
all of them fetal.

Hams of August Smother

The folks are angry, really.
They can’t explain the diaper,
yet they would explain poor Jack.
It’s a plot, you see, to show
poor Jack’s been had.
Folks can’t see why
no matter what Jack does,
even if he scrubs
in water warm enough
to soften turnips,
sheathes himself
in eaus, colognes,
dons, perhaps, a silk of talc,
folks can’t see why the night
still squats on Jack,
jiggling its hams
of August smother.
Or why the cleric in the courtyard
chants, ”Elements of Jack
will always reek.”
It’s a plot, you see, to show
poor Jack’s been had. That’s why
the folks are angry, really;
they can’t explain the diaper,
yet they would explain poor Jack.

People Who Live Above Stores

It's two in the morning 
and people who live above stores
have sprung from their beds
this cold winter night.
They're leaning out of their windows
and bellowing into the street

at the deaf baker who launched the alarm
in the Rogers Park Donut Shoppe.
It's been ringing for hours 
and the police haven't come.
Not even the firemen.
The donuts will never get done

and it appears now that 
people who live above stores
will remain in a rage
leaning out of their windows
waving cigarettes like strobes
and bellowing the rest of the night.

At the Zoo

The lady in the peach cloche hat
leads the rest of us
around the rhino into better light.
She leads us to the guardrail
at the supper hour to watch
the keeper reach inside 
the large glass case.
She wants us all to watch the rat
delight the python.

Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, Public Republic (Bulgaria), Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Pirene's Fountain (Australia) and other publications.
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