Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Few Verses for My Father

Sadly, I've never written much inspired by my father. The truth is, I have so little to go on. The memories are few & fleeting, and the emotions are raw & rife with misplaced anger. However, there are two poems I wrote between 1994 and 1996


I sat
upon my father’s
shoulders as we walked
the Puerto Rican
Day Parade
along Central Park

It felt just like
our tropical
homeland, Borinquen,
in the June heat
and the endless stream
of Spanish

Except that the palms
were replaced
with Central’s massive
elms on one side
and immense iron
skyscrapers on the other

At the end
of the route my
father set me down
and joined an impromptu

I watched
as he sat there
on the curb
feet in the gutter
his bongos between
his thighs, his Salsa
beats drowning
out the horns
behind him

I wanted to know
what it was to be
him, to share that
to strike the drum
for hours
to have hands calloused
& marbled, smeared
with blood

As the sun fell
behind the Midtown mass
I found myself
upon my father’s shoulders
again, this time headed
towards the subway and home

I felt what I know now
is pride
in my people
in my culture
in my father
But I have to wonder
how much more
the day would have meant
had I known it was the last
time I’d see him

I wonder 

if the imprints
I left
on his shoulders
were as deep
as the ones he left
on the backs
of my thighs

Father’s Daze 

Seventeen ties & handkerchiefs
wrapped in ribbon and sealed with grief
stored in the closet of my soul
where I keep my few memories of you

Seventeen homemade greeting cards
smelling of Elmer’s and growing mold
await you in the closet of my soul
where there is room for a few more memories of you

Seventeen bottles of cologne
in piles of shattered glass
pierce holes within the closet of my soul
from which leak a few memories of you

Seventeen years follow seventeen more
by which time I’ll have locked the door
to this useless closet in my soul
where I'll no longer hold any memories of you

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