Bio Note: I live in Los Angeles and am the founding member of True Gospel Bookstore which records my poems as songs which can be heard on any streaming service. My newest book of poems, To Warm The Solitary Night, is just released.
You oughtn’t to treat a fella that way
I saw the young man in the dark suit and narrow tie With the big-toothed smile in a mouth that couldn’t close, His hat keeping his hands busy in the doorway, Expectant, about to be cut down at the beginning of his life. “You oughtn’t to treat a fella that way,” He said turning back, descending the plank steps and Tossing his hat into a side pouch of his Indian, Then scooting away. Something happened there that I’ll never know Because now on the bathroom floor before me He lies supine with frozen limbs, a generation later, As I watch helpless to help, His fingers again fumbling an imagined derby, Never to rise on his own again. All he can say is “You oughtn’t to treat a fella that way,” His eyes focused on something I cannot. All I see is the pocket-sized photo that I’ve dug out so often From the sock drawer Tiny and creased and gray And now I understand Why he frowns and why he tries so hard to look like a man, Furrowed brow, head tilted forward, tall and leafy thin. Straight and homely, unafraid but doomed just the same. I’ve never heard these words from him before, He the rock, the fortress we all hide in, Now collapsed, without hope, Reverting to a plaintive moment never lost or forgotten Or, if so, now returned to haunt his end. “You oughtn’t to treat a fella that way.” And so I’ll be gentle and try to do right by him, Try to see that he has dignity, comfort for the time remaining. If I fail, then all he’s done for me was a waste. Now parent and child reverse roles While I give back what I owe And look upward and repeat to whoever might be listening, “You really oughtn’t to treat a fella that way.”
©2021 Donald Edwards
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