Dad

I.

He
gave me a white kitten
when he followed my mother
to the grocery store.

he said
his delusions
told him that my mother was a whore.

I said
her name is alice.

thank god he said
before he left

before he left the front door
open, I looked under the bed,
behind the curtains, under the kitchen sink
for the tiny cat
I called alice
the night before.

II.

She told me
she loved me differently
than my brother.

she said
my father looked at me differently
than my brother.

she said
“i have to even out the score,
don’t let it hurt your feelings.”

his brain didn’t work, it played tricks on him
he drank too much, he smoked too much, he doesn’t love you
too much

she laughed through cigarettes,
through the smoke coated walls,

you don’t look anything like me,
she said

you’re just like your father,

you’re fucked up.

III.

She said you were the only Father I had,

Dad went to find another girl
they had one more son
that he loved too much because he couldn’t love me.

he remembered me enough
to give the irs our telephone number

she said
it’s something, isn’t it

I can’t raise you on my own, ok

ok,
you raised me, you didn’t love your father either,
you said

It makes sense
now, doesn’t it?

you didn’t touch my brother,
it’s fair you said
when you held me against the wall

I said
i’m seven.

IV.

Dad took me
to his house once

I said
you liked to keep me

does that make sense,
Dad?
I said
I don’t have the right words

Mom said
I was a liar
because you didn’t remember,
couldn’t recall,
shouldn’t talk about things
you don’t understand,

she said.

V.

thank god
you said

each time my mother shut the front door
when she left for work

thank god,
thank god
you said

each time I promised to keep my fucking mouth shut,
it’s ok, this is ok, you and I, you said
i’m not your Real Father.

thank god,
thank god
thank god
i said

one night in august when you died,
I thought
I wouldn’t have to remember you
anymore.

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