Dia del Dada

Here is a poem about a father for Father’s Day:

My Papa’s Waltz


The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.
We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

Theodore Roethke, “My Papa’s Waltz” from Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke. Copyright 1942 by Hearst Magazines, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.

Father's day Liquor

Here is another one:

My Father’s Diary


I get into bed with it, and spring
the scarab legs of its locks. Inside,
the stacked, shy wealth of his print—
he could not write in script, so the pages
are sturdy with the beamwork of printedness,
LUNCH WITH MOM, life of ease—
except when he spun his father’s DeSoto on the
ice, and a young tree whirled up to the
hood, throwing up her arms—until
TO DESERVE SUCH A GIRL? Between the dark
legs of the capitals, moonlight, soft
tines of the printed letter gentled
apart, nectar drawn from serif, the
self of the grown boy pouring
out, the heart’s charge, the fresh
man kneeling in pine-needle weave,
worshipping her. It was my father
good, it was my father grateful,
it was my father dead, who had left me
these small structures of his young brain—
he wanted me to know him, he wanted
someone to know him.

Source: Poetry (July 1998).


And, one more: (If you want to listen to this one, go to this website: http://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/poems/komunyakaa/my_father’s_love_letters.php)

My Father’s Love Letters

Yusef Komunyakaa

On Fridays he’d open a can of Jax
After coming home from the mill,
& ask me to write a letter to my mother
Who sent postcards of desert flowers
Taller than men. He would beg,
Promising to never beat her
Again. Somehow I was happy
She had gone, & sometimes wanted
To slip in a reminder, how Mary Lou
Williams’ “Polka Dots & Moonbeams”
Never made the swelling go down.
His carpenter’s apron always bulged
With old nails, a claw hammer
Looped at his side & extension cords
Coiled around his feet.
Words rolled from under the pressure
Of my ballpoint: Love,
Baby, Honey, Please.
We sat in the quiet brutality
Of voltage meters & pipe threaders,
Lost between sentences . . .
The gleam of a five-pound wedge
On the concrete floor
Pulled a sunset
Through the doorway of his toolshed.
I wondered if she laughed
& held them over a gas burner.
My father could only sign
His name, but he’d look at blueprints
& say how many bricks
Formed each wall. This man,
Who stole roses & hyacinth
For his yard, would stand there
With eyes closed & fists balled,
Laboring over a simple word, almost
Redeemed by what he tried to say.

Not really the usual Father’s Day Fathers, right? You know, the “holidads” that want things like golf clubs or a tie or power tools for their special day.

hanes-fathers-day-ad-1950 Really, did that guy ever exist?

Not in my house. My dad’s a lot of things, but not that.

My dad played a game with us called “Hibernating Bears”. It wasn’t as much fun as it sounds. He took us to caves and Indian burial mounds and the dump. He had a short wave radio that he never let us touch, but we could listen to it with him if he was in the room. He gave me a wooden nickel and a real sapphire necklace that was on a real gold chain that Mom said was too delicate for a little girl of my age. He was late to my high school graduation and never remembers the names of any of my friends, except for the ones he thinks are hot. He loves Willie Nelson and Randy Newman and Ofra Haza and midgets. Some of his jokes are terrible, but some are HI-larious with a capital HI. When we were kids, he would leave a little card on the kitchen table with the latest installment of a comic strip he wrote and drew for us. We read it when we ate breakfast, and sometimes it had games we could play or questions to answer.

These days he emails all sorts of stuff. Sometimes he sends things that infuriate me, which is why he does it, evene though I have told him to quit. He sends me lots of cool photography things. He sent me this: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/fuck-for-forest-documentary-sees-failure-in-carnal-idealism-a-905486.html and this: super-cute-baby-animal He also writes about stuff that happens during his day, which I save in a special file. Here is what he said after a recent, brief hospital stay (don’t worry – he’s fine!): “I have heard bad  things about Medical City, but this is the 2nd time I have been in their ER. It’s ok, however, they have remarkably unabsorbent toilet paper in their restrooms. Sick people deserve better.” Quite the passionate activist, he is. He has two cats, and one of them sleeps with his paws around Dad’s neck. I don’t think he likes dogs, but he’s nice to mine. When my mom goes out of town, he invites all the ladies he knows over for a fried-chicken-slumber party and he smokes in the house, even though he’s not supposed to.

I could go on and on.

Sometimes we get into huge political arguments or he tells me (for a long time) about an episode of some tv show like Frasier that he’s just discovered. He doesn’t like to spend money on ANYTHING and does absolutely NO exercise. He adores his grandchildren. He knows tons of stuff about tons of stuff, and when he was 15 he left home and moved to another continent and lived in a commune.

Because of my dad, I have a wide variety of interests and sometimes an obsessive nature. I have a broader understanding of many things because he has taught me to seek them out, or has pointed out things that I have missed. He was my first guide to music and the first person I wanted to be proud of me.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Your present is in the mail. Just kidding. I appreciate you, you know, because you are so who you are. I love you. Here are some cigarettes, and some adorable baby animals, and a lady with really big boobies, and a big kiss from me.

Old Goldsbabypusexistential crisis chimpwrinkled babiesR. Crumb


Moments of War

You know how I feel about moments. Like most things I write about, I’ve written about moments often. I can’t get over how just an eyelash of time makes all the difference; how all that is can so suddenly become what was or what could have been. It’s so unfair, and so thrilling. You can fall irrevocably, inexplicably head over heels in love in a moment. You can birth a child, a being that had existed only in theory, now forever both within and without a piece of you, in just a moment. Your last breath is exhaled, and then gone. Time splits seconds.

My teacher read us a poem today:

We Never Know


By Yusef Komunyakaa


He danced with tall grass

for a moment, like he was swaying

with a woman. Our gun barrels

glowed white-hot.

When I got to him,

a blue halo

of flies had already claimed him.

I pulled the crumbled photograph

from his fingers.

There’s no other way

to say this: I fell in love.

The morning cleared again,

except for a distant mortar

& somewhere choppers taking off.

I slid the wallet into his pocket

& turned him over, so he wouldn’t

be kissing the ground.


Man. That is intense. What an amazing description of a moment.

I t reminded me of another Vietnam poem, by Bruce Weigl:

The Last Lie

Some guy in the miserable convoy
raised up in the back of our open truck
and threw a can of C rations at a child
who called into the rumble for food.
He didn’t toss the can, he wound up and hung it
on the child’s forehead and she was stunned
backwards into the dust of our trucks.

Across the sudden angle of the road’s curving
I could still see her when she rose,
waving one hand across her swollen, bleeding head,
wildly swinging her other hand
at the children who mobbed her,
who tried to take her food.

I grit my teeth to myself to remember that girl
smiling as she fought off her brothers and sisters.
She laughed
as if she thought it were a joke
and the guy with me laughed
and fingered the edge of another can
like it was the seam of a baseball
until his rage ripped
again into the faces of children
who called to us for food.

These poems are so stark and vivid, so human and painful and so, so naked.

If you’ve never read The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, and you are interested in the poetry of war, get crack-a-lacking my friend. It’s hard to read, because it’s dense, but it is an unforgettable experience. I’ve never read anything like it, and can’t even begin to express my admiration for his work. Here’s what he had to say on the moment that the war shifted for him. Listen to it. https://soundcloud.com/theworld/writer-tim-obrien-on-when-his

Why is he smiling so big?