July 7, 2016

Two poems by Donal Mahoney: "When My Wife Is In Her Garden," and "The Whole Mad Swirl"

Donal Mahoney has worked as an editor for Loyola University Press, The Chicago Sun-Times, and the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University in St. Louis. Retired now, he keeps busy writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs=


 Photo of Donal Mahoney by Carol Bales, gardener and long-suffering spouse




When My Wife Is in Her Garden

When my wife is in her garden,
she becomes a ballerina
moving with the morning breeze
through hollyhocks and roses,
peonies and phlox.
There is music only she can hear.
It's been that way for 30 years.
I never interrupt her dance

not even when the house caught fire
early in the morning. I didn't holler out
the way another husband might
if he had never had a gardener for a wife.
Instead I called the firemen,
and while they were on their way,
I poured water from the sink
on the growing conflagration.

My efforts proved to be in vain.
The firemen arrived too late and so
the house is now a shell of smoke.
The garden still looks beautiful
yet I have no idea what I'll say
when my wife comes back inside.
But if she's toting roses to arrange
she may not notice any change.




The Whole Mad Swirl

I was out of control, spinning
on the whirligig of youth,
giddy to be caught
in what Kerouac called
"the whole mad swirl
of everything to come."
I didn't know what to expect.
I was ready for nothing
though I had spent years 


in solitary confinement
with books, exams and degrees.
You would think I'd have learned
something about life as it is,
not as I wished it to be.
I went out on the street
to look for work
and was surprised to discover
no one spoke Old English
like Beowulf or Middle English
like the Wife of Bath.

An old professor told me
I talked the way
e.e. cummings wrote
and no one would hire me.
A few years later I married
a woman with several degrees.
She thought I was normal.
We had five kids in six years
and drove landlords bonkers.
"The Lord will provide,"

we said, and He did.
Fifty years later, the five kids
have rucksacks of their own
packed with jobs, marriages,
children and good lives
measured against
the standard of most.
Their mother is dead,
and like everyone else
on this strange planet

I am in the process
of dying in the jaws
of what Kerouac called
"the whole mad swirl
of everything to come."
I have seen almost all
of "everything to come"
except for the best part
and that, I am told,
will take my breath away.


~Donal Mahoney

2 comments:

  1. AnonymousJuly 17, 2016

    Donal,

    I really like "When My Wife is in Her Garden" -- there's a lovely music to it, a rhythm like a dance:
    "When my wife is in her garden,
    she becomes a ballerina
    moving with the morning breeze
    through hollyhocks and roses".

    And I like the humor as well as the more serious message(s) of "The Whole Mad Swirl", especially the 2nd and last stanzas -- plus
    "I married
    a woman with several degrees.
    She thought I was normal."

    The Lord does provide, doesn't He?

    Blessings,

    Cindy (Bousquet Harris)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love them both. There is so much going on in "When My Wife is in Her Garden," too much to comment on all, but it does have a lovely rhythm. I wanted to read "great" instead of beautiful, but imagined you had already noticed the long a slant rhyme you could have had and decided against it. Beautiful and thoughtful, both.

    ReplyDelete

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