You swear

You swear and lose
your temper like him
You act all tough like him
But that doesn’t mean you’re him
Why don’t you copy some
of his good qualities, instead?

I dreamt the platform sundered apart
Which part, for me, is best?
He was a fighter-man often confused—
addicted to booze, the ladies, tobacco
Very often sad, just a little wistful
The gambler in him

always hoped, waited—
waited for something good
that wouldn’t come
Why can’t you kids imitate his
compassion, for one, his empathy,
courage, integrity, loyalty and wit?
Let’s flatter each other—I’ll start:
Babe, you’re lookin’ magisterial, even
a tad imperial, mysterious, uncanny;
you’re so uninhibited, you’re on fire,
you’re all sex, you’re pleasure itself—
you’re the best, love, the best

Would our fathers, who never met,
would they have gotten along?
Yes, I think they surely would
For one—they were both businessmen
who served in the Second World War
and both made their mark in advertising

Her religious piousness, her sure condemnations,
her disdain for the sexual, homosexual,
her revulsions, obtuseness, rigid fears
of anything that even hints of perverse,
made me hate religion, its opacity, recoil at
her capacity, her obtuseness, for bigotry
The old man, still outgoing, upbeat, still has it—
He can still make his ad-work zing
But his contacts drop from view or retire
and no one hires him anymore
He doesn’t need the money but sometimes,
when she looks at him, he seems kind of lost

My Dad— a good writer, creative, the quintessential
public relations guy, yours, creative, also a writer
whose specialty was direct mail
Your father was outgoing, cultured, and funny
My Dad, a doctorate in philosophy, intelligent and witty,
if somewhat, like me, rigorous and introverted

In the end one likes or dislikes people
for who they are, not for this or that reason
The way they look, speak, their expressions,
what one feels when they enter a room
It’s like a light that shines in the light—
mostly unnoticed, harder to see




-September 27, 2015-