I find pictures of my son on-line.
He looks happy. In one, a beloved
cockatiel cuddles beneath his chin;
in the other-he hides half his face
with a Skylander action figure.

He’s happy, 11 years now – without me.
He did it flawlessly- sleight of hand,
we didn’t know when Dan said he was
taking a 6-month hiatus from family,
it meant adios, good-bye, sayonara.

He keeps himself hidden, except to
the video game clan. If I was
a gamer, I’d read dozens of articles,
penned by him, about his passion.
Another writer in the family!

Filial piety, Dan didn’t inherit.
I dragged him yearly to visit Mom;
I was supposed to, paid the bills,
fixed problems; there was no one else.
Brother hated her, changed his last name.

Obese, weighted down by obligations
to take care of someone I didn’t like,
I was a fiery time-bomb of false words.
When Dan kicked hypocrisy on its ass, he
forget to sift through the ruins for my love.


Joan Gerstein, a retired educator and therapist, teaches creative writing to incarcerated veterans. Her first book of poetry, Theories of Relativity, was published in 2021.