Happy Birthday, Dad

My father would have been 75 today, if he hadn’t passed away 33 years ago. I’ve never published the following poem, dedicated to his memory, before – despite having written it quite a while back. But today seems like a good day, and this blog that no one reads seems like a good place.

dug post holes in black
North Texas dirt,
pulled oil from
the sand, hauled Sisyphus
rocks and
deciphered hieroglyphs
in your tomb.
anything to fill
the spaces you left behind.
only the smoke,
the beer,
and the lost camaraderie
of the bars ever really worked.

made false pleas
to deaf and indigo
gods. consulted
cards, stars, stones,
readers and tellers —
heard nothing in return.
screamed and beat
out of finely crafted strings
just to pretend they were
your voice.

hard, cold, unmoving in the
world without your light.
swallow the death of swallows
violent, pungent and alone.

Happy birthday, dad. I know you more by your absence than anything else.

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