A father’s hands
sudsing yours together
with his at the sink.
Being stuck up for your cross piece,
unsure if it will even help to yell out,
“Yo dad—dad its me, bro. Mikey.”
Turning around at the car for one last look
at your father’s mound, picturing times
here with him when only grandparents were buried.
How is the mother to insist
that the child, cradled in the lap
of her dying father, go off to bed.
Fathers who encourage us to steal from our employers.
Grandfathers who give us pain killers to sell to high school peers.
What hint might we take from seeing
all these slouched over men in hats
who look just like our dead fathers?
Fathers coaxed into sand burial at the beach
Fathers flexing their biceps, close up
for little faces, in hope to earn
a boost (knowingly unwarranted).
Used for therapeutic riding by day
and Washingtonian things by night, the horse
knows father and disabled son quite well.
Asking if you were a good father in hope
that, even if unspeakables are called to mind,
the child will give the decorous response.
Match-maker fathers betting money
that their sons can beat up
all the other sons on the block.
His knee steering in secret, the father
lets go of the wheel and says “You drive”
to the terrified child.
The reminisces by old friends
turned the father alien
to the eavesdropping boy.
Sudden reluctance to beat the record set
by the dead father with whom you have communed
through all these years of training to do so.
Hands tremulous from withdrawal
each morning, the son must tip
the bottle to his father’s lips.
He whines for his father’s brush,
the presumed agent
of the superior paint job.
Bullied by brothers with a father that never intervenes.
The father of presence
must be the father of himself
because the father has presence.
A father telling the daughter
whom he has yet to touch
that her sister has all the looks.
Tenderness, which his own
children had never known,
flowering in the grandfather.
A father’s don’t-tell-your-mother wink.
Feigning illness to get attention,
even if only clinical,
from a distant doctor father.
Older now than when your father
died, the resemblance
has begun to dissolve.
So that he might have something to hand
the birthday boy, the wife slips a present
to the father (home from work for a drink).
Attaining her hand by wooing the father:
a skill, as with reading foldout maps,
obsolete in most circles.
Your father’s clothes there
in the corner, double bagged
still from the hospital.
Gang raped by the fathers of your kindergarten students.
When you go searching for your father, you are often searching for much more.
Selling your dad crack for full price,
but still feeling warm and fuzzy
because you give him the biggest rocks.
Expecting your fiance’s admiration for her dad to carry over to you.
“Your advantage over the bigger guy,”
the dad said, “is that he does not know
that you are willing to kill him.”
How can one avoid giving
the psychoanalyst what is
expected: mommy-daddy answers?
If your friend reveals that her dad died
when she was seven, hold yourself back
from saying that you wished your dad dead at that age.
The dad fights against
ignoring the son now grow
accustomed to ignoring him.
Dad sucker punching you in the gut
just as you are about to beat him
for once in driveway basketball.
Adjusting the blanket
on the purring child
as do TV dads.
Deemed a prank by a dispatcher ill-prepared
for such trauma, the child’s call to 9-1-1
is for help to dig his dad from the graveyard.
Weed brings them together after several years
silent since the repressed “bad touches,”
but dad’s high compliments are tinged with flirtation.
The due dad hopes for a boy so that no lust may awaken.
“Shave that goddam fuzz around your mouth
quick, boy: it looks like a pussy
and daddy wants to fuck it.”
In tears having been forced to fight a kid
from the block, you stop your dad’s laughter
with a brick to the head of the one down.
She takes the available relationship
with her dad (that of drug buddy), not
the one preferred (that of daughter).
Dad locked up for life,
your mother’s murder
freed you from his torture.
Gay being to them in vogue on TV
fuels hope in dads that the teen
is just caught up in another fad.
Daddy’s big girl wishes she was not.
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