Our Town Books

To Dad

Reader, please forgive me.

I’ve got fifty years of memory

to debrief, so this’ll take a while.

There was that time in St. Louis;

Dad was our church

youth group leader leading us astray …

We boys were happily lead there

while Mom lead the girls in her own way,

gently, somewhere in the neighborhood of “Kumbaya.”

Meanwhile, Dad marched us boys onward

and downward into the nearest bar. Hell, he wasn’t

about to let some pious pretense get in the way of his own

holy rite – Happy Hour – especially when

the Norton-Bobick fight was scheduled for that night.

Well, Dad had hardly finished his first beer when Duane

went down. It took less than a minute for the Jacksonville native

to win this time in New York – Madison Square Garden.

The rest of the night Dad kept insisting to the barman

that Norton beat Ali at Yankee Stadium

the fall before. The bartender countered that you had to

KO the self-proclaimed “Greatest” boxer in the world … to take

his title. Dad said a win is a win, that Ken

was robbed of his rightful place in the history books.

Whether it’s true or not, I’m not letting that happen … to Dad.


Lighter than a Balloon

I’m writing you down

in my history book.

I’m keeping you here

in this journal

like the photograph

of me in your arms

in our family album,

the one in which I’m holding a balloon

by a string. We’re on the steps

of the Capitol

next to Mom and Paul Findley.

I’m two years old.

You’ve just earned

your graduate degree

from Gallaudet.

But I think you’re more

proud of your little boy

than you are of your diploma.

I hadn’t done anything

to deserve this pride,

other than being your boy.

Well, that was a enough, more

than enough, to make you

beam like the hero you were

to me, as I clung to that string

the way you clung to me,

just as I hold fast to you 

now, now that you are out of reach

and lighter than a balloon.

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