together

The Claw (Father's Day)

When Boppa Mac died, I remember going through his things, 
taking the last of his cinnamon Tic-Tacs – the
ones he used to pat in his chest pocket and hand out like candy – 
and Aramis cologne, and a metal, gold-plated Playboy membership card, 
juxtaposing his absence with a piece of humanity that I could hold onto
in his empty apartment.

After we spread your father’s ashes in the Pacific Ocean, 
which already held his heart before it embraced the rest of him
like an old friend finally returning from the tired voyage his life was, 
I remember boarding a ferry to Balboa Island, 
and watching the water beneath, black as the space above the firmament, 
every bit as unsafe as it had been tender
earlier that day with our saline mixing into her water like it was only natural. 

To the fathers who teach their sons to weep by example, 
thank you. 

You drove the wrong direction down a one-way, and
a man, piss-drunk and dancing, called you a "motherf***er."
As a young boy I was – at first – afraid of the way he screamed, 
but you laughed it off knowing he didn’t know which way he was going, either,
and I was surprised when you didn’t make a life lesson out of it. 
We just
were
alongside the rest of everyone who
is
until they
aren’t. 

The arcade games and street lamps glowed every bit as warm as
the nostalgia you’d imagine a director visualizing in a film about
coming of age
and
experiencing a loss like that
for the first time. 
A scene where no one speaks,
and you can see yourself as the kid holding his dad’s hand
while the camera falls from above the string of lights (like Colorado Blvd.), 
face stuffed with blueberry Cotton Candy, and
pulling toward the claw crane to waste his money on
grasping
for
more
than what is already
in your grasp.

To the fathers who waste all of their money
on the claw games with their kids, 
knowing exactly what they’ve got in their grip,
knowing there’s nothing less wasteful,
thank you. 

Some days are as broken as they are beautiful, 
as present a reminder of absence as the night you
contrasted the loss of your father with a night out on the town with me. 

A funeral in the morning, and Elephant Ears before bed. 
The claw descending to tickle your knee. 

I know I don’t write you as often as I used to, 
but Jamie’s compassion and
Philando’s daughter and
Brandi’s dad
and the way you delighted in the same kind of orphan you saw in the mirror
the day he helped you dye your beard black
all bubbled over like the white water
in Star Valley’s Intermittent Springs
(albeit less rhythmic –
but hopefully that’ll change the more we learn that
letting the dam break is a necessary means of loving others and ourselves
toward healing). 

To the sons and the daughters who’s fathers have been stolen – 
whether by others or themselves or the nature of the knowledge of good and evil – 
welcome to the family, 
an invitation extended with a broken hand that still hurts
but takes comfort in being held, 
living in tandem, 
peddling toward unity
and reunion. 

To the ones speaking life, 
thank you. 


P.S. – My friend and a guy I'm just a fan of – Jamie Tworkowski – wrote this tweet today, which inspired much of this poem. Check out what To Write Love On Her Arms is all about at TWLOHA.com, including another poem that they helped me share with folks a few weeks back for Mental Health Awareness Month, ANXIETY