Thursday, June 30, 2016

Donal Mahoney Chronicles Drifters, Skid Row, the Gendarmes, and Body Bags

Special of the Day

It’s Rocky’s Diner
but it’s Brenda’s counter,
been that way for 10 years.
Brenda has her regulars
who want the Special of the Day.
They know the week is over

when it’s perch on Friday.
Her drifters don’t care about
the Special of the Day.
They want Brenda instead
but she’s made it clear
she’s not available.

Her regular customers tip well.
Long ago, they gave up
trying to see her after work.
After awhile her drifters go 
to the diner down the street
to see if the waitress there

is any more hospitable.
Brenda’s regulars don’t know
she has three kids her mother
watched every day until Brenda
took a vacation out of town,
then came back and helped her

mother find a place of her own.
Now Brenda’s back at the diner,
serving her regulars and
discouraging her drifters,
while Marsha, her bride,
watches the kids.

Just for a Day

If you want to know
what it’s like to have nothing
just for a day

head for Skid Row.
Trade your suit and 20 bucks
for the attire of a resident

standing against a wall.
Buy a tin cup and yellow pencils
and go to Union Station in time

for the evening rush hour
when suburbanites with jobs
on Michigan Avenue go home

for dinner and a little HBO.
Flop down near the entrance
in your tatters with pencils and cup.

Wear Charles Bronson sunglasses
and hold high a sign that says,
“Will Work for Food.”

Count the briefcases that sail by
and see how many pencils you sell,
how many people even look at you

before the gendarmes arrive
and poke you with a baton
then walk you away. 

Body Bag

I'm on my way to Larry’s Place,
a food pantry in the city.
I park a block away because

parking in front of Larry’s
isn’t wise even if one drives
a clunker. My old Buick

almost qualifies as that.
It’s getting up in years
but still able to get around.

I’m wobbling in the middle of
two shopping bags of food
my wife found in our pantry.

Someone at Larry’s Place can
take it home and have a meal.
If they have a home. Not all do.

Certainly not the fellow sleeping
on the bench outside Larry’s
in a black body bag, the zipper

slightly ajar so he can breathe.
Lots of people go in and out
but no one bothers him.

I go in, drop off my bags and
exchange pleasantries with Larry.
He says business is too good.

He says the guy in the body bag
is a new arrival from out of town,
suggests I have a chat with him.

His story is remarkable, Larry says.
On the way out I see the fellow
in the body bag is sitting up.

I give him five bucks
and he asks if I want to hear
the story about his body bag.

I say I’d like to but I’m rushed,
that I’ll be back tomorrow with
my notebook and camera and

I’ll pay him. After all, everyone
has to make a living. Or find
their food at Larry’s Place.

Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Tribune and  Commonweal.  Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs=

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