A Poem On the Eve of my Father’s Birthday

We never celebrated, never gorged on cake or candlesmoke,
never even got you a gift that I thought you’d like.
Never thought you liked anything, save for fart jokes and beer
since even the line of your fishing pole dangled with the weight
of annoyance. Fish swam toward anyhow. We never managed
to let good times linger. I was a real bastard because
you raised me right, I suppose I think now, now that you’re gone.

And when I wrote the poem about the time we caught a human jaw
no one believed me when I said you grabbed it slimy from the line,
set it on the boat’s bow to dry, bagged it in plastic (as if some
unknown shopper had been asked “paper, sir? Or perhaps
plastic? But had no jaw with which to reply) and set it next to
your false teeth until the warden came and carried it away.

The Mardi Gras after the shooting we went out to that Bayou
instead of risking it again, caught three times the legal limit,
had to bag extras though no one was around. Not a boat
for miles. Your finest moment, what would have been
your second finest. The day you died, feeling fine, you connived
to return a faulty extension cord you bought on sale but had

replaced it with a working one you bought at normal price.
You’d get your money back, and more. After the appointment.
When you died leaving the hospital, receipt in wallet, cord
bagged on the passenger seat, you never got your chance.
Now I have you wallet, a gift I gave to you on your birthday.
And I have the receipt, the bad cord, the van. But not you.

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