Monday, June 1, 2009

Baby Boomer Son

It isn’t so difficult.
I don’t lead a tortured life,
no longing for some sweet release
like a cold wind through a hot kitchen,
dad in his dirty white wife beater
pounding down another pony bottle
of Fort Pitt beer,
cursing the officers
who spent men like pennies
somewhere in a dark German forest
frozen forever in his memory
rising up through nightmares
to become midnight screams of terror.
There is nothing I have to fear,
nothing to drown in cheap alcohol
dulling the razor cuts of each monotonous
identical day of machinery
and mass production
cursing the white-shirted managers
who didn’t have to breathe in the ceramic dust
and metal filings,
who never had to sweat, just decide,
who spent men like pennies
somewhere in a dirty factory hall,
straddling some sickly yellow stream
belching sulfur and disease
winding its way toward the Allegheney,
the Ohio, eventually the Mississippi
and the freedom of the Gulf.
What I have to endure
isn’t so bad
that I can still mourn for my father.

1 comment:

  1. My dad's in hospital just now and here I am having to at least squint at the idea that he might be mortal. I suppose he must be a few years younger than your dad, assuming this piece is autobiographical, having missed enlistment in WWII by a year or so. Hence he hasn't the memories, beautifully if painfully presented here, of the father in your poem. Tony Williams - - put me onto a collection by Peter Bennet, called The Glass Swarm, which has a poem called The Squirrel, dealing with a parent's decline. "We did not wish you to be made of stuff/ morphine can manage till your smile begins/ to claim that dying is the same/ as painless waking, and no damage done."
    "Some sweet release like a cold wind through a hot kitchen" is really wonderful in its ordinary domestic take on an extraordinary turn away from life in favour of God only knows what.