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Two Coots on New Year’s Eve | A Poem by Donal Mahoney

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.


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