Monday, September 23, 2013

For My Father

The boy lived with his father and mother and two little sisters in a small converted gas station
    in a small coal mining town.
                                    They were building a house-the boy and his father and the men in town.
                                    The men drank beer and labored every evening
    and every weekend.
The house was almost finished.
                                   It was almost Christmas
                                         and the boy knew he would be getting a pump action BB gun that looked just like his father's pump shotgun.
Then he would learn to hunt,
  he would learn to be a man.  

On Monday morning, Clyde came,
                                                           as usual, so they could walk to school together.
                                                                               The boy answered the door and said, "My daddy died."

His daddy
      died in winter. Nine days before Christmas.
Came home sick from work on Friday, pronounced dead on Sunday.
The boy was only ten.

After that, he hated
snow- an
          abhorrence matched
               only by his hate
               of God, who
have fared better,
had he also died that cold December day.

the white began to melt into first signs
poking, pale
and the lawns in town, dappled in dew droplets might have signaled promise
and the sun
cradled fresh
declared them sacred,
               the boy's
mother prayed her son would be okay.
     Trees reclad with flair, emerald frondescence everywhere,
posies peered, checking progress of moseying slush,
birds cheeped cheerily, confident
                                                 the freeze was over.
                                                                     Spring tried hard that year;
                                                                           in high spirits and with vigor, strove for reclamation,
but the secrets of last season
                revealed themselves in a relentless rain
       that commenced mid
Unallayed, it came in torrents,
tearing blush stained apple blossoms from their branches,
                             dragging buds from soft soil
                                                 shushing any hopeful singers,
                                                 and winter's fight,
displayed in violent weather,
proof of reason to dismay.
                                     The boy knew he could not avenge his father's death by the killing off
    or nature
but the
former image of a safe and sweet, if stern,
 old man
watching from the sky
was dashed,
by the now evident claws
             of a rash and criminal creator and destroyer
                                          who roamed the earth,
                                                               took at will
                                                                              what he would.
                                                                                        The boy heard the roar
                                                                                                 of this bitter new truth in
                                                                                                     the thunder
of summer,
saw it
in the fire strips of lightning,
    tasted it in three cruel seasons,
                                      so by the time fall arrived,
to mark a passage
and leaves
                                   laid deep,
rusting the grave he could no longer bring himself to
his heart was hollowed by a boyhood swallowed.

His little sisters
   somehow managed to sustain
thus joy,
in stories,
adding innocent made up details
                              and he listened, allowed the sentimentality and the fabrication but did not partake
                     and he exiled
                                   from the comfort.
                                             he made his own sort of peace with the tragedy.
                                                                   Wading in the width of lack,
he navigated
reality's rivers
with an energy reserved for
With loss as his lot, he let no one near.
                And God he banished, though he doubted not
                               his actuality.

Years ceased to vary.

Decades after, undistinguished,
       and any whiff of wistfulness
brushed off like irritant flakes of

He found (too soon)
                the bottle
    drank as for deliverance,
lived then for years on the brink of death's cliff,
    destruction, theme of the dark Poe like poem of presence.
Being, a casualty in the accident of
       grand scheme -
or so he attempted to
    ignoring any clue preempting
battering baton
                   of call.

Betrayed by waning
he wished for death;
                   received it long before he breathed his last.

Hounded season after season by rhyme without
                                    a mystifying snow found him well before winter in a new year,
                                             fell so tenderly
                                                            that even heat of inebriation could not provide escape
her whispered telling.

spoke of his father's love,
said it came grieving in the tears of rain,
and screamed in summer's storms,
      and missed him when in Autumn, he withdrew.

He wept at
             the warmth he'd
and by spring that year,
                       he'd buried the bottle.
                                         Time revived in the flowering surprise of grace revealed
                                                                    and the man answered the door and said, "My Father is alive."

The Sunday Whirl



  1. Strong images of nature interspersed with the boy's grief...fantastic writing. The ending was a surprise, I expected a tragic waste of life. While that's in there, he does turn a corner. Nicely done.

  2. This story/poem is one of the finest things I've read.
    My uncle died three years ago around Thanksgiving. He was a person who greatly enjoyed the holidays and what they stood for. The winter holidays will now forever be bittersweet to me.

    1. Thank you so much, Adam. What a beautiful compliment.

  3. This is truly awesome. Loss and grief are sometimes difficult to imagine if you haven't had a life stolen from have captured the essence so well.