The Poet Community

Flinty and Callused | A Poem by Donal Mahoney

In the miner’s shack
the vase on the dresser
squats beneath
a giant cactus
planted by hands
flinty and callused.

“When Mona was here,
this vase got roses,
and lots of water.
After she left
I gave it this cactus.
It never needs water.”


Donal Mahoney spent most of his life in Chicago, the son of Irish immigrant parents. He lives as an expatriate now in St. Louis, Missouri, owing to what was once a long search for work. Discovering Biscuits and Sausage Gravy made the transfer easier. More about him can be found at

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