Friday, May 2, 2014

Poem: Missing


I walk my four-year-old along the
face of the department store.
She teeters up on spindly legs to
reach for a raincoat with a
Jolly Roger and crossed cutlasses.

Ahrr! Pirate raincoat.

Too late for that one.

Why, Daddy?

It’s summer.  By the time it
rains again, you’ll be a
whole different size.

I’ll be hooj!

What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?

I know! Ahrr!

Nope, I say. The C.
Pirates love the C.

Daddy! You cheated.

But honey. Jokes don’t have rules.
That’s why they’re jokes.


She chews on a strand of hair and
studies a pair of galoshes with cat faces.

Daddy? Tell me again.

What, honey?

Why I don’t exist.

On the important questions,
I have learned that eye-level is best.
I kneel and brush the hair from her face.

It’s a lot of different things.
I’ve never made a lot of money.
I have a knack for meeting
women at the wrong time.
Some of the women had
problems I couldn’t solve.

What kind?

Well, one was a drunk.
One had trouble controlling her brain.
Two had sexual hangups.
One was just a mean psychopathic bitch.

It takes a lot for two
people to have children together.
You have to be ready;
things have to work just right.
And now, I’m too old to start.

She chews on a thumb.
Are you sad?

Sometimes. But I have nieces,
nephews, children of friends.

She flails her arms.
But I don’t exist!

I tap a finger on my temple.
Up here you do.

That’s cause you’re a dough-wit.

I laugh.
A poet, yes.
Come on, let’s get a cup of coffee.

Daddy, kids don’t drink coffee!

Mine does.

I take her hand and lead her
upstairs to the Caffe Pergolesi.
She grabs a cluster of
honeysuckle and holds it to her nose.
She looks so much like her mother.

From the collection Fields of Satchmo 
Photo by MJV

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