Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Few Verses for My Father

Sadly, I've never written much inspired by my father, who passed away in 1997. The truth is, I have so little to go on. I never saw him after my mom moved us to Maryland in 1982.The memories are few & fleeting, and the emotions were 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
& the endless stream
of Spanish.

Except, 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

of metal,
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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