At five o'clock you'd douse the rocks
with Scoresby in a tumbler,
maybe a little water for respectability
and position yourself
in the ugly brown chair
for the numbing effect.
Night was a disappointment
because it was only a continuation
of unemployment. Still
you obeyed the clock,
whose pointed hands attacked
the limits of its circumference,
by never drinking before five,
a rhythm as predictable
as the pulse between your fingers
that signaled for another Winston
to crush between your knuckles
so that the butts stood up
at right angles in the ashtray.
Dad, I wish for you to note
the plaintive flute of meadowlarks at dusk,
to taste the first pear of summer,
to lie naked on your front lawn
clutching roses, waving at cars.
Slumped behind the wheel of your Lincoln
like an officer asleep at the bar,
the roses in your cheeks
were not the kind florists carry.
Lucky you brought your own.
This poem is obviously about my father's suicide at age on November 23, 1987, at age 62. Although I did not discover him (my younger brother did), the day is indelibly etched in my mind.
One thing that made it particularly hard, and I'm sure for my dad as well, is that I was just released from prison in late September 1987 for a manic episode (about which the retiring Connecticut judge decided to punish me for his political ambitions, or so I was told). So I was coming out of a mania while my Dad was stuck in depression, not that he could talk about it.
I'm sure it wasn't easy for him to see his illness in me at that time. It was mania that caused his discharge from the Air Force after he failed his pilot's exam, and mania in part responsible for some bad investments he'd made late in his life.
"Every sick family is sick in its own peculiar way." --Tolstoy
BTW, as an NBA fan I read Mark Cuban's blog today, and I must say, mine is much better, at least for literate people. ;-)