Poems About Parents
I failed at wisdom, nurture, / nature, separation, and calm. / I excelled at role model, if what / you wanted was wretched.
— from “Old Mom,” by Jessica Barksdale
What my father didn’t know when he drove / ten-year-old me in the bed of his pickup truck / to gun shows & shooting ranges, initiating me / into the art of the hunt, was that he was actually / teaching me how to write poems
— from “Portrait Of The Poet As A Child,” by Elizabeth Knapp
In my memories my godfather towers / over me, his deep baritone thundering / above us as we sing hymns during Sunday / service.
— from “Small,” by Courtney LeBlanc
My brother calls to say he’ll meet us / for lunch in a few hours, not to wait for him / if he’s late. He’s got to pick up Mom. / And though the crematorium / is near our hotel, he’ll take her ashes home / first.
— from “Waiting In Cars,” by Jackleen HoltonJuly 2023
At twenty you’ve managed to erase / our dad’s face from your own, / blacked out his sharp cheekbones / with roses, marked each eyelid / with an upside-down cross to distract / from his glossy brown irises.February 2023
I picture my father, dead a dozen years now, reaching from the great beyond to tap me on the shoulder. “What do you want, Pa?” I ask. “Look,” he says. “I’ve been practicing my moonwalk.”September 2022
I have recently made a new enemy. She is a black, curly-haired cocker spaniel walking a man holding a leash. We pass each other sometimes on the steep, narrow public stairs called the Thistle Steps. . . . I could try talking to the man, but I’m never wearing my hearing aids when we meet, so I wouldn’t be able to hear his reply.September 2022
My uncle finally kicked me out, and I was living in the twenty-four-hour Kroger on Fairhaven Avenue in Tustin, California, pilfering food and sleeping at the coffee bar. One day Mr. Muniz pushed a cart through the frozen-foods section where I was fanning myself, and he stopped. I’d gotten ugly, my face wasn’t right, and I could tell he was thinking, What the hell?August 2022
I learned how to be a man by modeling the behavior of my father, and then other men. What I don’t know is how my son has modeled me, and that’s creating a commotion in my heart.July 2022
Most days I stick to the periphery — / produce and eggs and chicken and cheese — / but tonight I am buying peanut butter, / which here is inexplicably placed / with the popcorn and chips.July 2022
It must have been forty years ago, / my brother and sisters, our mom and dad, / gathered around the fat television / before our Saturday supper / to watch my skinny father / make the evening news.June 2022
We all need to accept that the world at large is indifferent to our existence. Most of our decisions matter only to us. I could drink tonight, and no one would know.June 2022