Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day, Dad

There is poetry I write that I consider "big P poetry." It has sweep and scope, relates the personal to the universal, and exists as art. Then there is what I call "small p poetry." This is the poetry of the small, the personal, the ordinary. It makes no pretense to be art for the ages.

This is a poem. A "small p poem" written for my father on Father's Day.

For all of you who celebrate, a Happy Father's Day to you and yours.

Lessons I learned from my Father

1944 still lurks, a genie trapped in a jar
of Aunt Jemima, ready to release
nausea and the roll of slate decks on battleship
gray sea with the crack of a lid. You swallowed
other stories, and some were sealed
in number ten cans of memory.

Crap is crap, no matter how cheap it is.

It was easier to talk in the driveway dark
of a parked car, the ball game
smoothing the static between us.

Disappointment cuts both ways.

I stood beside you at all the funerals
of your brothers and sisters, two
grown ups in dark suits
sharing mortality.

If your job is digging ditches, dig
the best damned ditches you can.

Spaghetti with catsup is comfort food;
even if my own children make faces.
I taught them how you season
tuna salad, scramble eggs. This morning,
they cook breakfast for their father,
your hand wrapped around mine,
wrapped around theirs on the handle
of a warped non-stick pan.


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