Bio Note: Here are two poems for Father's Day. Though My Father Comes to Visit is partially inspired by Kafka, Delmore Schwartz, and Arthur Miller, its faults and any rudeness in it are all my own. Still, you can't fault my preference for swiping from the best! My fondest hope is that some will find it amusing. Fine emerges from one of my father's favorite jokes; now that he's gone, it's my favorite. Even if you don't like the poem, maybe you'll like the joke.
My Father Comes to Visit, this Time as a Wasp
Another Sunday late spring, and late again—for nothing. I head to the john for some morning relief— too much worrying all night long that I worry too much. When a wasp—maybe a mud dauber—scary and big, but sort of graceful, I’d say, if my pants weren’t down—walks right over the sill, with a sort of proud shuffle, as if he owned it still, and right through the hole in the screen the former proprietor never got around to fix. My own fault, I admit—surely not the last time today. But what is there to do, a coward at heart? It’s best to wait till almost dark and they’re back in their nests, cozy and wasp-warm and you can sneak up with chemical foam in a can and watch with joy as you spray, and they try to get away, then dizzy to the ground, like Zeros shot down by the good guys at the end of Flying Tigers. But now he takes to the air and lights on the mirror to have a closer look. Not out of pride, but to examine himself for damage, another tough day in the world of whatever wasps do, and I can almost hear him say a world-weary, Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy. Then looks my way as I’m pulling up my pants, and seems sort of threatening but not really interested in me, just tired of caring about anything at all. I take no chances, though, and quickly finish my business, zip and run for the door, and shut it tight behind me as if this whole thing never happened, that it isn’t another Father’s Day, and I’m doomed to miss him again today, more than ever.
Originally published in The Piker Press
My father liked his coffee hot, would send it back to the kitchen with a flick of his hand if steam didn’t rise from the surface like a river where the jungle cats come down to mark their territory and wait. I was the boy who wanted to bolt, or at least for all this silent tearing to be done. But a grown woman can’t run away— all my mother could do was purse her lips, steam silently, try to make like everything was fine. My father laughed, that confidential laugh, practiced so long in coffee shops where he’d try to close the deal, and told the one he told and told again: The boy didn’t speak his entire life. When he turned twenty, he yelled, This coffee’s cold! All these years, why didn’t you speak? his father asked, amazed. The boy replied, Up till now, everything’s been fine. Me, I turned twenty and ran like hell. Everything’s been fine ever since, except, sometimes, the coffee’s too hot— and I have no story to swap for the silence. I wait for it to cool.
©2021 Alan Walowitz
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell her or him. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL