I asked my dad: should I be a poet or an air force pilot?
Be a respected, fawned over, hero to children
or a troubled and troubling egomaniac?
“Mehhh. You do whatever you think you need to do.”
My dad was always a hands-0ff kind of parent.
A man of few words and less attention, he held to the adage
“don’t speak unless spoken to” for both of us.
Uncomfortable silence is like the smell of baking cookies to me now.
I ride office-tower elevators just for the homey feeling.
Nevertheless my dad thought himself a wordsmith and a modern Mark Twain.
I always told him ‘cheating in a race between yourself and a frog and writing a story about a person who cheats in a frog race are two different things.’
A short list of his ‘folksy wisdom’ might go like this–
‘chance favors the mind prepared enough to have rigged the game’
‘better never than late if it means less paperwork’
‘you can’t uncrack an egg but with the right tools you can unbirth a llama’
‘judging a book by its cover if you’re illiterate shows initiative’
‘never bring a knife to a gunfight, always bring a gun to a knife fight, and always bring a well armed chimp to a monkey knife fight’
‘your largest sex organ is your brain and if not congratulations’
‘let the Wookie win’
Because I get airsick easily and look horrible in jumpsuits
(both traits I get from my father)
I took to the path to become penniless, reviled, and
with any luck posthumously forgotten.

I entertained the idea that one can love loud enough to drown out a small town’s whispers
I spent summers where my biggest problem was evening moths in my red wine and how to drink around them
I found a sonnet in the sight of Kotex in a wastebasket

Insert into your mind “Danger Zone” here

I lost lines between the bottle and the page
I memorialized the sudden silence on linoleum that grew in a kitchette
I passed by others’ definitions of success like some drive upstate two-lane blacktop to watch trees’ leaves die

Put “Take My Breath Away” in your mental tapedeck

Some might say poetry is as dumb as Tom Cruise playing sand volleyball in tight blue jeans
And I’d say ‘O! To be those blue jeans!’

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