Two Poems by Donald Wheelock

For My Sake

The barn I love to write about
sinks into earth, if just this time of year.
Illusion being what it is,
the gable end has grown a trifle stout;
the windows have now disappeared—
the foliage is responsible for this.

The sumac that was hacked away—
was it just four years ago?—has grown
to match the metal roof in height.
The antique aspect of the barn’s display—
the weathered boards, their care postponed—
the vegetation has now masked from sight.

But this old barn will rise again,
if only by illusion. The heat will break.
Fall will clear the view of leaves,
turn brown the hills and fields of grain,
and as a favor for my sake,
revive its dignity from sills to eaves.

First Solo Drive at Night

I’ll watch you leave the house, your maiden trip
an inspiration by the winter fire;
I’ll stand watch by the kitchen door, admire
your firm resolve, your mock stiff upper lip,
the poise with which you stock your purse
with tissues, find your keys, your charging phone,
and walk the short way to the car alone.
These and other details I rehearse,
if only to myself: nighttime driving
is, for the first time, challenging enough,
without the fear of post-surgical stuff,
the unrelenting thought of just arriving.
A daughter you could be, your stage in life
youth’s next threshold—but no, you are my wife.

Donald Wheelock has published many poems in journals that welcome formal poetry. His chapbook In the Sea of Dreams is available at Gallery of Readers Press, Northampton, MA. His first full-length book of poetry, It’s Hard Enough to Fly, will be issued in the fall of 2022 by Kelsay Books.

“Hopper’s Dories” by Donald Wheelock

—after Edward Hopper’s The Dories, Ogunquit, 1914 (public domain)
Whitney Museum of American Art

Attentive to the forces of the tide,
they point up into open ocean breeze
like hungry pets anticipating food.
They feel the breeze enliven what they see.
A distant shore encloses open sea.

A view of coast as crisp and deep as life
itself, before the smudges of mankind
applied a slick to every shore and reef;
even the clouds are swept clean by the wind.

Feathery skies of sun-made summer choose
a clear-eyed, optimistic morning view
to paint the cove profusions of its blues.

The froth of distant ocean surf and light
explodes into the dory-sides as white.

Donald Wheelock spent forty years writing formal poetry before reaching the stage of submitting his favorites for publication. Formal poetry, once relegated to second fiddle in a career of writing chamber, vocal and orchestral music, has now demanded equal time. Indeed, it has taken over his life. He has published a chapbook, In the Sea of Dreams, with Gallery of Readers Press, and placed poems in Blue UnicornEkphrasis, EquinoxLinea, The Lyric, and elsewhere. He is trying to place two full-length books of his poems. He lives with his wife Anne in an old house at the edge of a hayfield in Whately, Massachusetts.