Father’s Day

Posted by on Jun 18, 2017 in Poems | 0 comments

Oh, young father!

The beer hasn’t caught up
with your gut just yet
and your best smoking years
are right ahead of you.

Your wife still bears
the luggage of your daughter’s
arrival along her midriff
and her floppy hat waves goodbye
to the life you both knew.

My three meet the waves
head on, arms outstretched
borne back ceaselessly
renewed, revived, resurrected.

She recalls the old days
when she was only three
and not yet in the third grade.

He strolls along the sand
with the sixth grade swagger of a salty dog,
his eyes behind the shades already offshore.

Their mother smiles sunshine
while terrified of the riptide
that will steal them away.

The rigs perched along the horizon
pretend not to notice
that its viscous blood
skimmed this surface
fouled these deep waters
and soiled these shores.

I pretend too
that the water’s safe,
that enough time has passed.

The bare-chested grandpa
white-haired, red and wrinkled
tosses the ball to his fat feist
while he walks alone.

Oh, young father!
the sun is still high.

Crack a beer for me
and light that smoke.

Oh, young father!
The day is yours.

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Posted by on Jul 5, 2015 in Poems | 0 comments

Emerging from a world which had consumed me, you—nameless but familiar—showed up with your own offspring. They tugged at your arms as you set them up for entertainment in front of their monitors. You were frustrated by their capricious desires.

And yet you still treated them as if they were tiny adults—asking them what they would like to do—as if they were aware of the value of each option and were capable of discerning the differences in them, as if they were simply miniature versions of yourself, fully formed—just shorter. Then you devised an outline for them in which to create, as if that was enough direction to buy you five minutes of peace. It was your handiwork. Just as they were part of your handiwork. And despite your plan to sate them, it didn’t happen. They sucked up your time and kept derailing your train of thought so that your frustration mounted in a horrific crescendo.

So I left.

I walked outside into the summer and turned my face toward the sun, closed my eyes, and let the heat dry them beneath their lids.

I would have give anything to have my kids waste my time, to have them say Dad repeatedly for no reason, to have them hang on me and weigh me down, to feel those tiny hands wrapped around the back of neck, to roll down the hill with them in the tall grass, to walk barefooted with them in the running water.

But there was nothing I could give to make that happen.

So instead, I wrote this down so that I would remember.

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Your son

Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Poems | 0 comments

When your son
reached across
my hot plate
and speared his
fork into
my hash browns,

I fought the
primal urge
to stab my
fork into
his grubby
little paw.

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Summer Girl

Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Poems | 0 comments

I never knew her name
But I loved her
Because when she ascended from the water
Her long brown hair clung
To the back of her neck
And her one-piece swimsuit.

She lived behind freckles
And her brown eyes
Never met mine.

The giant concrete pond teemed
With kids – mostly white, some black –
While our parents worked.

My brother drove
My father’s black Z28 Camaro
With a red pinstripe and T-tops.
From the street
With a telescopic lens
Through a chain link fence
He stole a picture of her.

He took the picture
To embarrass me.
I took the picture
And placed it behind
A thick layer of film
In a photo album.

She is faceless
Frozen in midair, graceful,
Launched from the diving board
A 90-degree angle
Aiming at the water’s surface.

The heads float above the water
The arms are outstretched
Open hands, an invitation
Come on in
The water’s fine
Let the sun beat down
On your sunburnt shoulders
Smell the chlorine
Riding on the air
Listen to the kids
Screaming with glee
And remember the one
With no name and no face
Whom you loved.


(I wrote this in June 2011 for a class I was taking. Maybe it’s because summer’s right around the corner that I’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of days.)

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Your father, revisited

Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in Poems | 1 comment

This past summer I wrote this poem “Your Father.” Something’s being bothering me about it ever since then, but I haven’t been able to put my finger on it. Last night I realized it needed a second stanza to complete it. So here’s the new version:

When I told
your father
your old house
had burned down
he said, “Huh”
as if I
had simply
mentioned the
time of day.

He’s probably
still pissed off
about that
time when you
were ten and
you pulled that
shotgun on
him and said,
“Get out now.”

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Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in Poems | 0 comments

Through the glass
he stared into the garden
as the ashes were buried
beneath the stepping stone.

In the reflection
she held onto the baby
as its eyes were fluttering
against her bare shoulder.

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