A Teaching Moment for Little Nora

Little Nora and Grandpa Bill
sit on swings in Grandma’s garden.
A hummingbird arrives to sample

the brilliant flowers at this buffet.
Grandpa Bill sees a teaching moment
and asks little Nora with a smile

if hummingbirds have beaks or bills.
Little Nora has a teaching moment,
says, “Grandpa, they have straws.”

By Donal Mahoney

ruby-throated hummingbird at a flower


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. Read more of his poems in Eye on Life Magazine here.

Photo by Steve Byland

Alive Just One Week

Alive just one week,
the Luna moth plastered
to my screen door
under porch light is
pale green and beautiful.

It has no mouth and lives
just a week so it can mate.
The female calls the male
in the middle of the night
silently with pheromones.

Keep your porch light on
from April through August
and open the door slowly
just after dawn when you
step out to get the paper.
She may still be there.

That’s not unusual at dawn.
The male has done his part
and like so many males
his role’s complete
so he moves on.
Luna moths must work fast.
Alive just one week, they
have no mouth and never eat.

By Donal Mahoney

Green Luna moth on tree trunk


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. Read more of his poems in Eye on Life Magazine.

Photo of the Luna Moth by Don Simmons from Butterflies and Moths of North America

Calypso Means Spring Is Here

Some say when
daffodils shoot up
Spring is here.
It’s safe to put away
your boots and shovels.
Maybe somewhere
but not where I live.

I’ve seen daffodils
on Monday peeking
out of snow on Tuesday
giving me a wink as if to say
we fooled you, didn’t we.
And I say yes you did!

When it comes to Spring
I know it’s here when I see
what I saw this morning
long before the dawn.

The first moth
happy and delirious
dancing to calypso
all around the porch light
waiting for his friends to come
and shout hurrah for Spring
and Harry Belafonte.

By Donal Mahoney


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. Read more of his poems in Eye on Life Magazine here.

A Great Time for a Climb

That’s a very big tree
and a boy scout could climb it
with all the right gear.

But it’s a condominium, too.
You would disturb families.
Blue Jays don’t feature

interruptions when they
have young in the nest.
They put up with

squirrels scampering
across the branches.
Robins have young too

but they have no interest
in seeds or nuts and
no one else likes worms.

Sparrows chatter away
and raise a ruckus since
they have young also.

Why not wait until fall
when the young leave the tree.
Fall’s a great time for a climb.

By Donal Mahoney

Blue nuthatch feeding chicks at nest in tree


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. Read more of his poems in Eye on Life Magazine here.

Photo of Velvet-fronted Nuthatch by Prin Pattawaro

A Winter Buffet

A bright winter day
and not a leaf left
on this skeleton

tree teeming
with sparrows
chirping and hopping

branch to branch
waiting for the feeder
to be free of cardinals

juncos and jays
bickering for seed
while on the ground

four doves
stroll in silence
feasting on spilled

seed near the tree
where a fat squirrel
sits with tail high

in a question mark
ready to dive
and scatter them all

By Donal Mahoney

sparrows sitting on frosty winter branches


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. Read more of his poems in Eye on Life Magazine here.

Photo by Vitalii Shcherbyna