two poems for my father
when he dared to speak of heaven
he used to like to imagine that it was an answer.
just possibly one great answer
or just possibly thousands
each to all mankind’s beseeching
and this world —the mistaken hope
—the pain inflicted even by care —this world
—was his theory of hell.
you listened as he waited and worried it past
the sharp lipped cup flavoring the sweet liquor with blood.
you took that drink with him
and you breathed in together the heavy pale smoke.
you saw the photographs of his journey
and again heard the sorry ballad
born of the dew-wilted flowers of Irish ruin.
and you were there as he prepared
his self-soul for its final travel,
purging the scarred laughter
of his ultimate song.
you once thought you understood.
and in your argument it appeared
was not an answer but the beautiful quiet
feast of all souls
—and for a moment I do sense
your presence and as I had hoped it seems
you have found some nourishing peace
though, through my own disquiet, I know
you have not been completely healed
—this aching —the hunger I would share
with my own son —these aspects of your still suffering
I lift an empty cup to these questions
still posed through our communion
to these things you gave to me which I had mistaken
for poorly chosen gifts
these were not things for me to discard
you gave them for me to carry.
These poems appear in
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