On Dad’s Hundredth Birthday (2018)

You’re hearing me, right?
I never know if you’re listening.
Remember leaving Iowa City at 10?
We were already in jail in Lincoln by 2.
You were with me that day.
It took a damn helicopter
to track us.
We watched the Nebraska State Police
hang a U on Interstate 80
just to give us a ride
to the courthouse.

So April 19 would have been
your hundredth.
You’ve already been gone 30.

You said “I’ll be going away
I’ll be leaving you alone
to work things out
you came in alone
you go on alone”
and you handed me
“Leaves of Grass.”

Dad, I’ve had the cuffs on me
more than that one time.
I’ve climbed into the front seat
of a limousine
to bicker over the price
of an 8-ball.
I was pulled out of La Bufadora
drunk and bleeding from stupidity.
Then, how bout that time in Herold Square
when Ballistics pulled two slugs
out of the door post an inch
from my head?
You were there.
We made The Daily News.

You’re hearing me, right?
I’m never sure you’re listening.

One time I had to sleep
at Penn Station
in February.
First, I had to walk there.
It was the only idea I had
that worked out that night.

And this was dumb:
I walked into Small’s in Harlem
with some dude from West Virginia
to score.
I can’t remember
how that one turned out

I’m an old man now
with grandchildren.
I’m a doctor, I live in the burbs.
I don’t know if you’re listening
or if you’d even recognize me.

I should have told this story
at your memorial:
we’re driving home from N.Y.C.
on the backroads of Bucks County
and a rabbit jumps out on the highway.
It was Brownsberg Road
and too late to brake.
It was just me and you
and that rabbit, still breathing.
We got home near midnight,
the rabbit wrapped in a towel,
trying to hold on.
You called the vet.
At the time, that seemed reasonable.
Now I know how weird it is
to call a vet at midnight
about a broken wild rabbit.
The vet said, “put him to sleep”,
the injuries were too final.
You hooked up a hose to the exhaust pipe.
Then it was just you and me
in the Pennsylvania woods,
digging by lantern light.

They don’t know this about you.
I know you hear me.

Recently added poems

Hyannis, 1982
from Bass River Press
Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Inc.

Barstool Confidential
from Pinyon #30, 2021

drawer of hearts
from Dash #14, 2021

Way Out West
from Trajectory #21, 2020

September, 2014
from Trajectory #21, 2020

The Moments
from Lummox #9, 2020
Lummox Press

Bud In Cans
from Last Call, Chinaski ! Lummox Press 2020
Lummox Press

Death Bed Blues
from Pinyon #29, Spring 2020

Anytime Now
from Muse #33, Spring 2019
Muse on Facebook

No One Notices
from Blueline #40, 2019

When the Fog
from Blueline #40, 2019

Flying into Storm
from Blueline #40, 2019

For One Thing
from Blueline #40, 2019

Real Poetry
from Last Call, 2018

One Night in Pasadena
from Hanging Loose #110, 2018

Seven Voices
from Hanging Loose #110, 2018

New Bedford
from Hanging Loose #110, 2018

from Earth's Daughter #92, 2018

from Trajectory #15, Fall 2017

Moving To Pennsylvania
from Trajectory #15, Fall 2017

Running Bases
from New Letters Vol. 68, Nos. 3 & 4, 2002
The Curators of the University of Missouri

St. Germaine District, Paris, 1949
from Rattle #16, Winter 2001
The Frieda C. Cox Foundation Inc.