Arts & Leisure

Poet’s corner: Small victories


By John Mahoney


He used to be a lector,

Today he could not walk the steps to the ambo.

He used to work the clubhouse,

In exchange for walking the fairways.


The grocery aisle is long.

Too long.

He couldn’t walk it without the cart to lean on.

It will take minutes.

Frozen dinners and fresh bread,

Water at one end

Craft beers at the other,

His cane astride the cart.


Today he got out.



John Mahoney is a retired schoolteacher who lives in Burlington but has spent much time in retirement getting to know Addison County. Retirement has afforded him the time (but not always the discipline) to foster his interest in writing. When not writing John tries to exercise on a regular basis and keep up with the flowers in the yard. He and his wife have two very energetic English Setters.




Mr. Mahoney captures a very real experience for so many people, whether the elderly or others with limited mobility. For many, a stairway can feel like a small mountain, a grocery isle like a half marathon. A true workout, a victory, as the speaker calls it. Not too many poems celebrate small victories, or point out everyday hardships that might go unrecognized by younger or more able-bodied people. The poem nimbly takes the reader through an older person’s day and through the grocery store so we can feel that effort, the slow careful pace, the fatigue, and finally the triumph of having made it through the store. I could feel what that is like, in part due to the poet’s skillful pacing of the poem, and partly from having witnessed so many older people, including my own parents, taking on these same challenges in this same exact way. They are indeed victories, along with the many other small and large challenges so many people navigate to make it through their days. Thank you to the poet for taking us inside another’s life.

Susan Jefts is a poet and educator who lives in the Adirondacks and Ripton, Vt. She has recently completed her first full-length book of poetry, Breathing Lessons, and runs workshops using poetry as a way to explore life transitions and directions, and our relationships with nature.


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