Monday, March 6, 2017

another dead dad poem

rosewood guitar in a stolen case
on the back of a boy on a bicycle
riding through the shell shocked
streets of Saigon, Vietnam
coated with Agent Orange
soaked in tears that come with
a brother of the Boat People
I’ve always wondered what it’s like to be a refugee
stories you never told
simply mentioned
how you went to Cambodia
when you were seven
and the fighting was getting bad
Da Lat was
a rainforest that wept blood
clouds that cried the tears of widows
dreams executed by the Viet Cong
and villages torn apart by soldiers
friendly or foe, you’re still not so sure
I’ve always wondered how you came out so calm
your steady grip on reality, held onto
with the finesse of a guitarist
I know the arts saved you from the war
and I am searching for my salvation in
the flawed beauty of humanity
but my youthful hands are still tender
and not yet calloused by the years of change
the seconds fall through the cracks like
sand through clenched fists
there are times where it gets in my eyes
and all I can see is the past
it is so difficult to look up when
the rungs on the ladder break
and the panic kicks in
and we are no closer to heaven
I have been searching for a god
I have been searching for a savior
to fill the space you left behind
there is only whiskey and disappointment
would you have understood?
how did you deal with the loss of the sister
we don’t ever mention?
there are stories I will never hear
there are days I will never get back
the ones marked by the hospital badges
still sticking to my wall
to remind me of the last weeks I sat by your side
we don’t go there anymore
too painful, too fluorescent, too loud
white coats with clipboards
blue scrubs with bedpans
medication and good news
test results and bad news
orange vials peppering the kitchen countertop
like stars burning through cloud cover
your blank face on morphine
it burns so much to remember the day
when I pressed the button that would reduce you to ash
stepped in front of your brothers to assume the responsibility
I felt my knees snap with the weight of the cement
needed to build that hospital
I would have given anything for you
to see your garden one last time
the night you died I left every light
in the house on with the hope
that would you find your way home
the week you died
the roses had wilted
petals shriveled next
to decaying leaves
I had not watered them since the news
the month you died
my bed was a prison
and I had no desire for freedom
and if I lit a candle in
every cathedral I passed
the flames would still not be enough
off the dark that was settling in after you left


  1. I enjoyed this one as well, especially the glimpses of your father's early days, and your mutual connection to artistic expression.

    The sister/aunt reference is intriguing, but perhaps best saved for another poem. We want some tangents in poetry, but not too many.

    I love the "too painful, too fluorescent" line.

  2. i forgot to ask: Did any of your poems make it into the Moorpark Review?