Earthquake in the Yard

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

a Monsanto/Dow Legacy

He’s a vet from Vietnam
who won’t say much about
what happened over there
except to say his problem
began with Agent Orange,

the breathing problem he has
cutting grass, raking leaves
and shoveling snow,
the only work anyone
will hire him to do.

The money helps him live
on what the government
gives him but that’s not much
because it’s obvious
the man’s not living well.

Watching him mow grass
from an upstairs window
on a sultry day and have
him stop and cough so
many times, you want to
pay him not to mow but
know that won’t work.
The man can’t breathe
but he still has pride.

So you pay him well,
force him to take a tip
and wonder if some day
he’ll fall on his mower
or maybe on the grass
and won’t get up at all,
the earthquake coughing
being what it is,
ripping him apart.

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