There’s no tomorrow and yesterday’s forgotten.
Dad saw himself as disabled and in some ways he was.
He was an emotional cripple, that’s for sure.
He flew into rages over nothing.
I once got up the courage to point out there were no other cars on the road
but he was cursing. He was ranting. He looked out the window and stopped.
When I was eleven, he’d have turned around and smacked me on the head.
He was always threatening to trounce me.
You will be missed means you’re still alive.
You’re not dead yet but you will be.
Welcome to your funeral.
There is something missing but I can’t put my finger on it.
My front tooth is missing. I missed the bus.
Where’s my sock?
No, I don’t miss the bus. I missed the boat.
“I’ll teach you to talk that way to your mother!”
“You missed.” “I won’t miss next time.”
Dad was a bully. When I was little, mother asked me to get dad
an aspirin to go with his pickled herring and his dry martini. Years later,
dad once said, “After two martinis, I’m not afraid of anything.”
I like that.
Like a lot of monsters, he had a heart of gold. Like Frankenstein and all his monster
friends, he scared the neighborhood children but felt lonely. Like many
bullies before him, what he needed was a blind man to make him a cup of tea.
It was precisely because people were not blind that he hated them.
Oh, but how well Edward Albee understood him. What he wanted above all else was love: L.O.V.E. Just like an alcoholic, but he didn’t drink. No, his father drank enough for two generations. He once said, “You think you’re a big shot, but you’re nothing
but a big shit.” I like that, too. I used to pick cashews out from father’s dish of mixed nuts. Amazingly, it didn’t make him mad. It amused him. I did that from his lap.
That old Japanese guy sitting across from me reminds me
of my father when he was alive. The old man there looks
very thoughtful, looks intelligent. My father, too, had that look. I wish I did.
“There won’t be a next time, father.”
That man’s flesh is as white as a frog’s belly, so pale I can see his blue
cheesy veins. I could see my father’s, too. It made him look frail.
He’d get cross but with no power.
He became pathetic, especially when he smelled of urine.
There never is a next time.
It’s hard to control other people when you stink. It’s impossible
to run the show when you’ve sprung a leak. It’s hard to frighten
your son when you have to wear pampers. Fear goes but love lasts.
Now there’s a line for Machiavelli’s Prince. I learned that from my father.
David Lohrey grew up in Memphis. His poetry can be found Otoliths (Australia), llinois State University (Obsidian), Dodging the Rain, and others. Machiavelli’s Backyard, David’s first collection of poetry, appeared in August, 2017. David lives in Tokyo.