November 3, 2016

Three poems by Donal Mahoney: "Gardening in Autumn," "Seasons of the Year," and "Breakfast with Ted"

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

Gardening in Autumn

She’s been a gardener for years
but more and more she brings
flowers inside to arrange a

new garden on her mantel.
She’s in transition, she says,
but remembers summer fondly

in the autumn of her life
and sees winter coming so
she gardens on the mantel now.

There, winter’s not a problem.
Her arrangement, she explains,
has a dahlia, last flower of summer,

bold above hydrangea leaves
burning red in the midst of fall.
The mugo pine warns of winter.

The pine she’s had for 20 years,
remembers planting it and hopes
she’s an evergreen as well.

Seasons of the Year

Let’s not worry about it, Dearie,
life gets better, life gets worse.
We’re no different than

the seasons of the year except
we’re luckier than most having
lived our lives in summer.

We're falling now among
the leaves of autumn
and we have winter yet

to face with ice and snow.
Let’s put the kettle on for tea,
grab a blanket and stay warm.

We'll light a fire and discover
if we’re evergreen or tropical
when spring arrives next year.

Breakfast with Ted

No one goes to the patio now
except at night when Ann
goes out to spread old bread
and sunflower seed
on the small table for birds
to eat at dawn.

The next morning
she gets up early and
watches the birds from
the breakfast nook
where she and Ted
would sit and marvel
at the pecking order.

First the sparrows arrive
and eat as fast as possible
before the cardinals and jays
come and take command.
Then the starlings land
and raise a ruckus
even when the table
is theirs alone.

The starlings leave
like jets on a mission and
in just a few minutes
two doves drop down.
One walks behind the other
and they eat whatever
is left behind.

It’s no wonder Ann’s partial
to one of the doves.
He reminds her of Ted
and lets the other dove
walk ahead and eat
the best of what is left.
His feathers are always
perfectly in place, same
color as Ted’s hair.

~Donal Mahoney


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