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A Poem by Donal Mahoney: "Stumps in His Cabbage"

Stressed Man

Stumps in His Cabbage

You would think you would

love a man who died

for you and for everyone else,

even those who will never

know that he did.

But you don't, not really.

The monks in the choir

you hear on Sunday

sing hymns from the heart.

They make fruitcake all week

stoked by the knowledge

he died for them.

They love him

in a way that you

can only imagine

despite much prayer.

You adore him, however,

as well you should.

You know he's infinite,

omnipotent, without

beginning or end.

You hold him in awe.

No one commands your

respect more than him.

You follow his will, mostly.

You tell others about him

but the love doesn't come,

gripped as you are

in tongs that have held you

since childhood

growing up in a house

where a man who worked

long hours, never drank,

put you through school

then went nuclear at dinner

with your mother

when he discovered

"stumps in my cabbage,

lumps in my potatoes,"

a man whose roar rattled

the neighbors and sent

the dog under the bed.

You would think you would

love a man who died

for you and for everyone else.

But you don't, not really.

You keep trying to love him

and your father as well.

Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney has worked as an editor for U.S. Catholic Magazine, Loyola University Press, and The Chicago Sun-Times. Retired now, he keeps busy writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction. One of the most important aspects of “freedom” for him is freedom of religion and the opportunity in this country to practice it or not practice it. Some of his work can be found at

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