Dad


Dad
I’m sittin’ here sippin’ on bourbon.
It’s been a long time. I can’t
remember when I’ve been so together. He said I’d only be
hurting myself.
I don’t believe I’m gonna do this.
Dog was chasing his tale
loved it, I told it.
Played Jesus the night
I got on my knees and told him
we all loved each other
next night said I’d make him howl.
Next day told him
I was a liar.
Wanted him crushed.
Life makes fantasies real.
I live them, eat them.
It’s why people ask who I’m talking to
who I’m waving at
always a gin mill.
I am 3.
My father was dying of cancer.
He used to turn off the heat.
I got used to falling
asleep to the sound of my chattering.
He carried a can of gasoline around
with him all the time.
He tempted God to come
down and face him.

The next morning
he was beaten to a pulp.
Next week his biopsy will be positive.
I started to believe again.
Up to now I was Stephen Dedalus.
It’s now 7/17/73 or 4. I don’t remember. I should look
at the memorial card I took at the wake,
I’m not sure it will be there.
I may be free. Let’s wait till this is over.
In tears I said he should be washed
he was my father.
I was proud.
I slung him over my shoulder.
He almost fell in the toilet,
but I caught him by the pelvic bone.
The water was nice and warm.
I stood him up – ankles high,
the white flakes of filth gushed
up violently with the bubbles
by his ear.
His right hand moved enough
to knock a cake
of Ivory soap into the bath.
It floated over to the neckline.
I took him out,
put him in his bed,
dried his loose body,
looked in his eyes as he said, “please,”
and went to my deli job.

I tried slicing my fingers off
but the customers kept saying “no
ends please.”
That night had to take him to the hospital
he wasn’t too good.
Waited for me instead of God
to come home and dress him.
He handed me his hat first
I must take after him.
It turned out even worse.
I called the ambulance.
Emergency Room white
on the bed trying to breath,
saw me,
laughed,
waved,
the nurse pulled the curtain
in front of him.
To the sobs of my people
I dated a girl that night.
Married her.
I had to do penance.
I knew who you were
the day you said my poem lied.
I tried so hard to prove
you unworthy.
I got what I wanted.

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