Thursday, August 28, 2014

An Armful of Roses

—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO
—Photos by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento


Things are quiet here, a friend writes
in the first email of his long life:

Most mornings I drive to Gillson Park,
sit and read beside the Lake.
The waves are a symphony.
Books are better there. Sometimes
a redwing blackbird will attack,
protecting its nest. The weather's
cool and there's rain at night.
It's not summer in Chicago
as you and I remember it.

I have a cell phone now too
and I use it all the time.
The landline's just a holdover
from the good old days.

Speaking of holdovers,
we should get together
while we still can.
At our age, who knows
how long either of us has.
People our age drop dead
without too much ado.

Tell you what: Whoever gets sick first
will notify the other one who'll take
a plane and race death to see
who arrives at the bedside first.
If I'm talking to a priest, wait outside.

Forget the small stuff like amputations.
They have prosthetics now for everything
except for tallywhackers.
Who needs more kids anyway.
My wife will send you an email if I die.
Ask your wife to do the same for me.



Henry's been married 50 years
without a sorry day,
his wife Opal reminds him

every week, and Henry
always says the days
are great but the nights

are something else.
Tonight should be a dandy
Henry thinks

as he lies in bed
adrift in shaving lotion
knowing that his perfumed wife

will join him once she wins
the battle of the bulge.
Opal says it's a bigger battle

every day to get her girdle off.
Henry calls it her chastity belt.
Smiling Opal never disagrees.


A flying saucer whirrs
through the kitchen air
almost hits him in the head

flies out the open window
followed by another saucer
sailed at him by her

angry that he's earthbound
can't take her to the moon
one more time tonight.

He's getting old, he tells her.
She should have come aboard
when he was 23 and flew

all night from star to star.
He ducks again and gasps,
"Once must now suffice."



Mabel in a gray cotton
dress turning to gauze
bends over her garden

feeling for a ripe cantaloupe
to take in the house
and chunk up for supper

when suddenly she sees
a blimp in the sky
this August afternoon.

She wants to board that blimp
before Melvin gets home,
removes his bib overalls

and straps her butt
because his meatloaf is cold
and his melon hot.

If he beats her again,
she knows she can't sit
through Sunday service.



I could kill him but I won't.
This tiny spider
no bigger than a pepper flake

has spun a web so fine
I can't see the strands
falling from a hook

near the basin where I shave.
He appears to levitate.
I could kill him but I won't.

He would be an inconvenience
for my wife if she spots him
but not an inconvenience

like the fetus in the womb
of my daughter's friend who plans
to come back to school this week.



Last week Opal learned
she has cancer

might live six months
even though she's busy

quilting with other
widows at church

gardening every day
pleased with her roses.

"I'm 80, Betty,
That's old enough"

Opal tells her neighbor
over the fence

as she walks
in her garden 

waters some roses
not as warm now

autumn is here
petals drift

in the breeze,
an early snow.


Most days the newspaper hits
the lawn by four in the morning
but it's six already and I don't see it.

I'll have to pull on my pants
and go out to see if it's hiding
in my wife's flowers and bushes.

She keeps adding more plants
to the jungle she's created out there
with parrots and macaws on the way.

But instead of going out
I tell her it's a nice morning
and suggest she check on her roses.

In this heat, they may need water.
And while she's out there I suggest
she scan the garden for the paper

in case it's held hostage by the foliage.
After coffee she sails out the door
and returns with no paper but brings

an armful of roses, a bouquet
I welcome more than the poison ivy
I find every day in the paper.


Today's LittleNip:


Hummingbirds dance
iridescence afire

around the red feeder
hung in the cedar

a symphonic swirl
ruby throats glistening

sipping sweet nectar
sipping until

it's time to jet back
to thimble nests.

The tiniest beaks
are open and waiting.