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Father’s Day

dad

 

First draft, while the spirit moves.

Father’s Day.

How did you stop being mine, dad?

How did you walk out the door?

Did I see you do it, dad?

I can’t remember anymore.

Time’s passed.

I know only that you left, dad,

When I was some ten years old

And I’d have given anything to keep you, dad,

I’d have promised to be good as gold.

But the chance passed.

I know my mother was a pain, dad,

She remained a pain to me,

But I, the child, could not escape,

Couldn’t walk out the door and go free,

Til her death freed me at last.

I had to listen to her words, dad,

Had to learn how she blamed me,

For she’d sent you away, she would often say,

Because you didn’t love me

As you should.

No vitriol with that assertion,

Though she had enough and to spare,

And some of it you might have spared me,

If only you’d been there.

But you weren’t.

What kind of bad must I have been, dad,

That you could not love your first born?

And being so bad as I must have been

What wonder that God had foresworn

To love me?

I believed then, as a child believes,

And I grieved then, as a child alone grieves,

My path obscured by autumn leaves

Whate’er the season.

A darkness in me.

Half a century ago you disappeared,

Vanished, it transpires, in sunnier climes,

Had another son, a daughter too,

And, no doubt, some lovely times,

But I did not.

For half a century I missed you,

Felt an aching absence in my heart,

Missed your words, your looks, your thoughts,

And it broke me apart

Forever.

Believing in no God, no Heaven,

I know we will not meet again,

That the man who died three thousand miles away

Has left me, till my death day, in the grip of pain

Forever.

One conviction only, did you – in leaving – leave me,

Which is that it’s okay to not stay,

That it’s okay when you are under pressure

Simply to walk away,

And I have tried.

The night that others dread

Is naught but peace to me,

The silent darkness of the dead,

Offers naught but ease to me.

Yet I can’t get there.

Too many depend

For me to seek the easy end,

And all my life I now must spend

Missing you.

Why did you leave me, daddy?

Daughter

Daughter

 

Watching you grow

From little pink frog

To upright consciousness.

Watching you glow,

Your first smiles

Your first steps

Your first words

First sneezes, first hiccups,

Your first recognition of ‘daddy’.

Changing your diapers

Laughing

That the odorous is not odious,

Your little parts sweet

In their diminutiveness.

Giving you lifts, here and there,

Buying school clothes,

Lighting birthday candles

And blowing them out.

You all about me,

I all about you.

Your toys on the floor,

Your books on the shelves,

Your questions relentless.

Your voice a girl’s

Your choices a girl’s

Ballerina or tomboy.

Your vests and knickers small in the laundry,

Your panties, your bra,

Hanging with stockings over the bath.

Your looking in the mirror,

The coming of consciousness

That I am not the only one

Who thinks you beautiful.

And boys, then, and mistrust,

That any boy could be good enough,

That scares me no little.

Eventual acceptance,

No little worrying,

And then the big day,

If boys are your choice,

You at my side,

Music playing,

Your farewell to arms

That have held you since childhood,

Your welcome to arms

That may bring you to motherhood

And Pain.

Pictures.

Photographs and memories,

Framed in glass or framed in brain,

Everywhere.

Now almost nowhere,

For daughter, alas

You died ere they could come to pass.

Poem: Manhood

Another oldie, on the theme of what it is to be a man.

Manhood

In an echoing, empty subway

I fall back, so as not to be

perceived a threat by she who walks

alone ahead of me.

A second moves to pass me

I step well away to the side

that doubts that might darken her frightened mind

are, as far as they can be, denied.

 

Through choice would I never strike woman,

through choice would do no woman wrong,

I cannot despise them, nor trivialise them,

perceive women weak and men strong.

I’ll not play ‘It’s a man’s world’ games,

be thus prisoned, pretend to be free,

and the thrusting, assertive world of some men

holds no welcome – nor liking – for me.

 

If manhood must be one-upmanship –

emotions suppressed to compete,

others diminished one’s self to enhance –

then the prize of the game is defeat.

It has to be hateful, so much to be feared

by those we most need to be friends,

it has to be time to reject, now, those things

on which such a manhood depends.

 

True manhood must re-write the script,

must open eyes to a new way of seeing

that it matters much less to be one kind of man

than to be fully a true human being.

 

Envied

Chained to his balls

In a prison called ‘Man’,

What do they see

Who call him ‘free’?

 

Wage slave, unmanned,

To a glossy treadmill tied,

Or mortgaged to a private cross

And crucified

Smiling.

 

Or rat

With the strange pink tail,

Imprisoned in a maze called ‘Man’

Who ought to wonder who are these

Who envy him the scraps of cheese

That are the mouldy recompense

For life that does violence

To dignity.

 

by Richard V Raiment.