Thursday, February 16, 2012

There's More to the Story

When he was out to sea, my dad
sent coins to me from every port,
stuck at the bottom of his thin blue letters,
the whirls of his fingertips preserved
in the tape. I’d smell the paper hard
to find his bristly scent.

When he was young, he stole bread
and cigarettes, watermelon and eggs.
He picked up coal along the railroad tracks
and wore whatever someone gave him
to cover his scabs. He found an orange
one Christmas and ate it like an apple,
skin and all. It was the most magical food
he had ever held on his tongue.

When he was sick, my dad was
crazy as a loon, one screw loose,
taking direction from TV and
writing nonsense on the bills.
There is a spook talking nonstop
in my head, he’d say. We wouldn’t
let on to the neighbors, even when he
burned a mattress in the yard
for reasons we could not explain.


The USS Ruddy, my dad's ship, a fleet minesweeper.


Brian Miller said...

wow. your dad sounds like quite the that part about eating the orange...i bet...sounds like tough times and know it tastes sweet on the tongue...

Mystic_Mom said...

What a great share about your Dad, a strength of character and a real character too it seems! Wonderful poem. Thanks for sharing!

Mark Windham said...

A great tribute and a good read. Really enjoyed.

Laurie Kolp said...

So neat that your dad is your hero. I like how you showed unconditional love through the good and not so good times.

GrandmaAngela said...

Excellent. Just excellent.

Glenn Buttkus said...

One of the reasons we are all
poets, is this is one cathartic
way we can process the events
of our lives, as we have perceived
them. My own father remains
faceless, nameless, and the string
of stepfathers conditioned me to
be a liberal-minded artist.

Claudia said...

your dad sounds like an awesome man...a hard life in many ways but seems he knew how to make the best of the bit with the orange and that you stood close to him when he was sick..

Dave King said...

Wonderful, he survived a childhood that maybe I would not have, and he used it to great purpose. The poem tells me that you take after him in many ways. Superb.

hedgewitch said...

My grandmother had a very similar story about an orange, one of the first things she and her sisters ate after getting off the boat at Ellis Island; she said it made the reason for the whole voyage from Sweden seem suddenly real. This is a finely balanced poem, throwing in the necessary amount of light to counter the darkness, much like a well-lived life.

Mama Zen said...

This is beautifully done.

Sweet Pea said...

You make it seem so effortless--extracting so much history in so few words. His life so richly laid out and the impact it had on yours so clear. Great work.