Sunday, May 21, 2006

Poem #9: "Paternal"


My dad turned to me at times,
eyes hooded in drink,
to say, "I love you, Son."
The words were eerie and eviscerate,
mechanical nightingales of rickety song.
A cigar store Indian
could have spoken them better.
My heart burned anyway.

Late at night, curled on the rug
in a fetal position before the television,
his nostrils trumpeted snores
deep enough to rattle
the fragile beanstalk of my spine.
I could never wake him

Especially in the mornings
I felt my bird-like spirit
unwelcome in his lap.
I might have been smothered
by the sports section
or crushed like a cigarette.


This has to be the oldest poem in the collection. I'm sure I wrote it before I was twenty. My dad, also manic-depressive, succumbed the the disease at age 62.


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