Burn and Rave

My father rages at time and fate,
wrestling with the angel of bandages,
burning the forge of his dying heart,
cursing the god of bedpans,
and the nurses that flutter like frightened doves.

My father waves his arms like broken
warning gates, his red eyes daring
death’s dread engine. He kicks the valets
of coughs and sneezes,
and laughs at their tinhorn conclusions.

He refuses help, riveted to his pain,
spits out pills and magic elixirs,
blocks the descending needles, knocks
them to the floor, denies every comfort,
nailed alone to his suffering.

He lowers his whole life into his hands
and molds them into fists of rage,
he who refused to take the dole
when the factory shut down for the strike,
who built our house to endure all storms.

He who shined shoes rather than beg
in the streets of Chicago, 1936,
sold papers to support his invalid
mother, his sister and two younger brothers.
All those who wish to help him—he’ll have none.

I wait next to him, while late, dire late,
he thrashes against his restraints.
Silently I cry and cheer him on
as he raves against the metal carriage
that pulls him so gently into night.